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History's Witness

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

Author -  JD Bartholomew

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For over a hundred years, Teliss Gaethore played his part as a dutiful Thalmor soldier. He fought with the Thalmor sympathizers during the Valenwood coup, lead over a dozen campaigns against Altmer rebels, most notably the Battle of Buraniim Isle in 4E 82, and aided in dissolving the Elsweyr Confederacy after the Void Nights. No one ever doubted Teliss' loyalty.

Upon his return to Alinor from Elsweyr, Teliss discovered a package sitting on his doorstep. Inside was a crystal ball and a note that simply read, “History’s Witness.” Curious and unsure of what to do with such an oddity, he took the ball to Faldir Aedrath, a mage friend of his.

“History’s Witness?” the gaunt mage puzzled as he held the ball aloft. “I have never heard of such an artifact. If it does what its name suggests, this could be both very useful and very dangerous. But why leave it on your doorstep?”

“I may be involved in a historic event that requires a witness,” Teliss boasted. “Or perhaps my life in general is grand enough to deserve a witness.”

Faldir paid his friend’s undeserving boastfulness no heed as he studied the bauble. There were no markings on it of any kind and no indication of how it worked. For the next several days Faldir and Teliss poured over every text on magical artifacts they could find. Finally they found a hint to the answers they sought. Unfortunately, it was a single entry in the journal of the so-called Great Seer-Mage, Rynandor.

“I have witnessed the history of our future and even with my waking eyes it haunts me. Our downfall will begin with the destruction of the Crystal Tower. But it will not come by some Daedric Lord atop his throne of fire. Our undoing will be caused by our own pride and ignorance. It is the future I have witnessed and if I cannot change it by saving the tower, then I will save as many of its scholars as I can.”

What power did this orb possess? Did it give only glimpses of the future so that the viewer might change it? Or could it give glimpses of the past? Teliss had no more desire to find out. He did not wish his fate to be the same as Rynandor's. He wanted to destroy the artifact right then and there, but something held him back. The whisper of a disembodied voice.

“What’s hard is seeing good people warped by evil. And I’ve seen the face of evil. It was in the air above Sentinel on the Night of Green Fire,” the voice whispered in Teliss’ ear. Teliss looked around the room, but saw no one other than his friend.

Suddenly, the crystal ball lit up bright as the noonday sun. When the light faded, they were no longer in Faldir’s study. They stood in a run down area of a city. Sentinel, they guessed, and they were right. A short distance away sat a group of Altmer, tired and frightened. Their faces and clothes were covered in dirt, sweat, and blood. This was probably the first rest they had in days. But it didn’t last long.

A fireball streaked through the air, colliding with a nearby building. More fireballs followed, indiscriminately hitting everyone and everything in sight. The Altmer fought back with their own fire spells. Down the street stood half a dozen mages in Thalmor robes.

One of the refugees launched a fireball that connected with one of their attackers, burning away the hood that covered his head. Beside the corpse, the mage’s companion let out a deep guttural scream unlike anything Teliss had ever heard before. But Faldir knew what it was. He's heard the yell of a daedra more times than anyone should ever have to.

The creature ripped off its hood to reveal its black and red face that made Teliss recoil in fear.

“Obey your king. Lay waste to them,” ordered the daedra, its rough voice sending chills down Teliss’ spine.

Before they knew what hit them, their attackers cast the most ferocious fire storm the pair of spectators had ever seen. In mere seconds the entirety of the Refugees District was engulfed in green flames. The spell not only scorched its victim's flesh, but burned their very soul. Teliss and Faldir lost themselves in the turmoil, the flames twirling around them in a torrent of chaos.

All went quiet after that. There were no screams of pain nor cries for help. There were none left alive to make them. Teliss and Faldir remained untouched by the fire's heat, but after seeing all that, they wished the hadn’t spared them. Smoke billowed up from the ruins and in the fire's green glow formed a face of evil. A face that took pleasure in death and destruction. The face of a Thalmor.

As their vision faded, they could hear the daedra's deep demonic laugh echo across the ruined district. Not even covering his ears could block out those horrible sounds from Teliss. It was maddening.

They stood in silence as they took in what they had just witnessed. For how long, neither of them knew. Teliss was the first to speak.

“Destroy it,” he said, barely able to push the words through his lips. “No one else should see what we saw.”

But neither of them dared touch it, lest it resulted in them seeing it again. Eventually, Faldir found the courage to raise his hand to the crystal ball and cast a thunderbolt at it. The spell connected, but the ball didn’t shatter. The lighting danced around the artifact for a moment and then it disappeared.

For over a hundred years, Teliss Gaethore played his part as a dutiful Thalmor soldier. No one ever doubted Teliss' loyalty, except himself. I have seen our past and even with my waking eyes it haunts me. I still don’t know why I was shown the events of that night and I pray I never do.
 

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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.