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Final Rest

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Lady N's picture
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Joined: 06/26/2010

Author - Caius

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On nights like these, when the stars twinkle brightly above and Jone and Jode have turned their watchful eyes away from the land, the Khajiit found his mind wandering.

He thought of home, of far away forests filled with decaying leaves and the smell of rain-soaked wood. Not of sands or barren lands, for this Khajiit grew up in a place just as strange as he. Greenshade, a vibrant tangle of vines and Rotmeth by evening fires, raised by Bosmer and taught the ways of a Bard. A time seemingly from another world, nearly one thousand years in the past.

There was a story about him, something that has followed the clicking of claws upon cobbled stone for nearly as long. The tale of the Immortal Khajiit, dark as night with eyes beaten only by the gleam of emeralds. He knew it well, listening to the dramatic retellings in tavern after tavern, all with a various pawful of mistakes, his face hidden by the robes much too big for his body.

“ He who saved Nirn from the threat of Molag Bal, The Vestige, The Soulless One, The Hero. He who aided in Cyrodiil, and walked away without a scratch. He who traveled the land and united those who refused to see eye to eye. A simple Khajiiti Bard turned Hero. “

Roku knew the story well, for he lived it.

Some called him a coward for disappearing once done. Some believed him long since dead, buried and forgotten. There were some, even, who believed he was an enemy instead.

Staring at the dark sky, Roku raised a bottle of mead to his lips. It had been years since the legendary battle. Despite being nearly one thousand years ago, he remembered it like it was yesterday. Rushing through the strange land of Coldharbour, the water shining like crystal in the distance, with those racing into war alongside flanking him. His companions singing their battlecry as Daedra amassed the opposite direction, the scent of fear and exhilaration consuming the air, they clashed.

Roku remembered his wife at his side, worrying for her safety despite it being unwarranted. She was a beautiful Bosmer with the spirit of the tiger deep within, magic sharp and deadly. As he ascended the stairs to meet with Molag Bal, she was still spinning among the waves of Daedra. It was one of the last times he seen her.

His fire crackled softly in the background, pulling him from his thoughts. The heat pressed faintly against his back, Roku sitting legs crossed on a chilly rock. Skyrim winters were cold and harsh. Tonight was no exception, though fate had granted him with clear skies and distant lights dancing upon the horizon. He took another drink. The mead burned on the way down and a welcome tingle spread through his limbs.

Staring into the sky, Roku found himself missing the sounds of ocean waves and meat sizzling in the kitchen. Life was so peaceful back when his wife was alive, back before the threat of Molag Bal and Mannimarco, when the two of them could battle side by side through countless dungeons. When he finally located her body after the great battle, he took her home and buried her among the Valenwood trees she too had grown up in. His life of wandering began after selling their home, heart as heavy as the gold clinking against his hip.

And he wandered for a long time. He witnessed the rise and fall of cities, of rulers, of civilizations … all while watching through a haze of inactivity. In a way, Roku became the ghost so many believed him to be, but he learned his lesson of interfering with history. When Mannimarco once again rose among the land, Roku was forced to watch from afar. A new hero arose from dark prospects, much in the same manner as himself.  Another event, lost in the pages of history.

Roku sighed quietly, finishing off his mead. Tomorrow was the start of his long journey; it wouldn’t do to stay awake to thoughts of the past. Rising from his position, he tossed the empty bottle into the bushes nearby. As he settled into his bedroll for the night, the lights in the distance faded into darkness.

~ ( o ) ~

Traveling wasn’t one of Roku’s least favorite things. It really couldn’t be, considering how often he needed to move around. But he also envied the lull of warm furs and a home to return to every night. That was, in part, the reason for his current destination.

Going through Cyrodiil was dangerous but necessary; he barely made it in one piece. Reaper’s March lay cold and unwelcoming beneath Jone and Jode’s watchful eyes, almost as if they knew of his plans. Fighting his way through swathes of vines and towering ferns, he eventually made it through Malabal Tor as well.

It had taken him nearly two months, but he’d finally made it. Roku’s destination was Greenshade, the place he had grown up in. The place everything his life had known, began. It was where he was raised, where he learned to play a lute, and where he met his wife. He hadn’t been there in nearly two hundred years.

Stepping through the gate, the forest seemed to hiss at his appearance. The ground hummed with energy, air bringing forth the scent of rich earth and molding leaves. Time has left its mark upon Greenshade, the once beautiful forest appearing sickly and drained. Roku had heard stories of what happened here during his journey, but never had he suspected to this extent. Biting his tongue and adjusting the straps upon his shoulders, the Khajiit padded forward.

His walking ended up taking most of the day, picking his way down various paths he doesn’t remember and following signs made from wood not meant to be harmed. The few creatures he does see are skinny and want nothing to do with him; they give a wide berth or even run upon sight. After what feels like forever, Woodhearth comes into view.

It wasn’t the city Roku wanted, however. He watched the first lanterns of the night be lit in the distance, but Woodhearth was merely the marker he wanted. The Khajiit turned to the side and pushed his way into the forest; the greenery quickly swallowed him up.

Vines and moss had consumed what was left behind, something that didn’t really surprise him. He hadn’t been here in over two hundred years after all. Kneeling down upon the bed of moss, Roku gently coaxed the foliage away from what he was looking for. An old slab of stone greeted him, weathered from the elements and wet from the moss clinging to nearly every corner. There had been a name once, back when Roku had first placed the beautiful marker here, but it had long since faded.

The Khajiit smiled. “I’m home.” His voice was quiet, claws tapping against the stone as he ran his hand along it. His wife had been buried here many, many years ago. Visper, a Bosmer he had grown up with, someone he had explored countless dungeons and fought numerous enemies with.

A hand pressed against his shoulder, gentle and reassuring. Roku did not turn to look but he knew. The Khajiit closed his eyes.

He had witnessed all he needed to see. He had lived through countless rulers and meaningless wars. Roku had been the hero the world needed in the past, and now he could pass the torch onto someone new, someone more experienced in how this world worked; the Dragonborn.

Thus, the Vestige allowed the hands he remembered so fondly to guide him.

Beneath a Hearthfire sky, Roku’s mind met with his soul once more. Kneeling upon the grave of his wife, he joined her in the afterlife. His book of life had finally come to an end. Though it has been years since the event, some living in Woodhearth say they can still hear the echo of a lute on warm Hearthfire nights.

Lady N's picture
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Joined: 06/26/2010

This piece was written for our 20th anniversary fan art contest! It is strictly property of its original creator - you may not modify, publish, or redistribute it without explicit permission from the artist.