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The Lost Village of Efra

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

Author - ceruleetheblue

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The story of a Bosmer driven from his home.

Squish. Plop. Squish. Plop. Squish. Plop.

Elahrair trudged through the thick mud searching for his village’s most sacred harvest, keeping an eye out for the bubbling holes  they were usually found in. His haul was typically larger than everyone else’s, as he loved both digging the holes and running with the buckets back to the village. His swiftness had earned him the nickname “Rabbit” and the reputation of the best clam digger in Efra even though he was among of the youngest. He, along with every other able-bodied villager, was out in the marsh that day collecting the shellfish they called “lushoot,” as they had been the day before, and for several weeks prior to that. Elahrair’s village, called Efra, was built around the spawning ground of the lushoot; right along the shoreline and to the west of Haven in Valenwood.

The Bosmer living there led a simple life harvesting the fruits of the sea; fish, shellfish, and even seaweed (they believed that seaweed was not forbidden under the Green Pact, since it could be proven that it came from the sea, not the land).  For many generations the villagers of Efra sold their catches, including the lushoot, to various traveling merchants, but it was that very clam that eventually drew the attention of a visiting Altmer aristocrat.

He was so enamored with the flavor of the lushoot, he proposed an arrangement with the village elder, offering to pay the villagers for any surplus lushoot they harvested so they could be sold in Alinor. The elder saw the opportuinty for his village to become more profitable and show goodwill toward the Altmer and agreed to the terms, provided the Altmer would respect the ecosystem of the marsh as Efra did for generations. Soon afterwards, the aristocrat arranged for a small number of Thalmor agents to oversee the operation and relay messages to the village elder. Only one of the agents, Ceydralas, was a volunteer, as he had been to Efra before and knew the villagers. The others were displeased with their assignment, looking at the village as a muddy hovel for lowly peasants.

Plop.

“There, one more bucket,” Elahrair said to himself proudly. He splashed some of the seawater on his face to cool down and brought the full bucket back to the elder’s hut. Sylanen, the elder’s youngest son and one of Elahrair’s friends, arrived soon after with his own bucket.

“I bet I found the biggest one, Rabbit!” he bragged, showing Elahrair one of the clams that was easily twice as big as his hand.

“Mine’s bigger,” Elahrair said, coaxing the clam from its shell. The long, meaty tendril slithered in and out of the shell, and the boys snickered. Along with being a delicous meal, the lushoot was popular for its “entertaining” appearance, particularly among adolescents. Sylanen’s smirk disappeared as he noticed the approach of one of the Thalmor overseers, and he set the clam back into his bucket.

“Uh-oh, here comes the stuck-stick brigade,” Sylanen groaned.

“That’s Ceydralas, can’t you tell? He’s the short one,” Elahrair replied.

“Oh, right, I forgot.”

“Good afternoon, boys,” Ceydralas said when he reached the elder’s hut. “Did you get a good haul?”

“Did we!” Sylanen and Elahrair exclaimed, proudly showing off their full buckets. Ceydralas smiled.

“Do you think this will be enough to buy mother a new pair of leather boots?” Rabbit asked.

“It should be. If not, I’d be happy to help pay for them.”

“Really? Thanks, Ceydralas. You’re a lot nicer than the other agents.”

“Thank you. I do hope my associates didn’t cause you boys too much trouble today.”

“They were mostly complaning that it smelled, but that’s probably because I made sure to pass gas right before I walked by them,” Rabbit replied with a grin. Sylanen and Ceydralas chuckled.

“I’m sorry they’re unkind to you,” Ceydralas said.

“They are, but you’re not, so I’ll forgive them.”

“You have a good heart, Rabbit.”

“Look, everyone else is coming back,” Sylanen said, pointing toward the shoreline.

“I need to go help Mother carry the bucket. I’ll see you later, Syl,” Elahrair said.
While Elahrair was the quickest clam-hunter in his village, his mother unfortunately was the slowest, as her partially-lame leg made walking, especially in the marsh, very difficult. But he never complained about having to work harder to keep them both fed. His mother was his only family, as his father’s whereabouts were unknown. Elahrair noticed his mother always seemed troubled when he asked about his father, so he decided to let the mystery remain a mystery.

“Did you talk to Ceydralas today?” she asked him when they went home after clam-hunting.

“For a little bit. Why?”

“Oh, it’s nothing.”

Elahrair knew his mother’s tone said otherwise. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing for you to worry about, It’s just that the elder is starting to worry that we’re taking too many lushoot from the sea. They might not spawn again next year if we do.”

“Should I talk to him about it?”

“No need, he’s already told the Thalmor that we are finished with the harvest and they’ll have to return next year.”

“Do you think they’ll be mad? I heard… things… about the Thalmor.”

“They’re only here to keep order, dear son. Surely they mean us no harm.”

“Syl said that he heard the Thalmor burned down--”

“Shh, don’t talk such nonsense. There’s no need to worry about the Thalmor. We’ve done everything they asked, and I’m sure they’ll leave us be.”

The next day, the Thalmor agents, including Ceydralas, gathered the remaining buckets of lushoot and quietly left Efra.

For a while, it seemed the elder’s assertion worked, and the village of Efra continued on as usual. But one week later, just before dawn, Elahrair was awoken by a sensation brushing across his face that felt like cold water. When he opened his eyes, he stared into the incorporeal face of a ghost wolf-dog.

A spirit? He wondered.

“Get up, there isn’t much time,” the ghost-dog whispered.

“Ah!” Rabbit jumped back in surprise. “You’re talking!”

“Rabbit, shh, it’s me.”

“Ceydralas? You’re a wolf spirit?”

“I bound my soul to this creature as a way to keep an eye on you, and to help out from afar when I’m needed. Listen to me, Rabbit, there isn’t much time. The Thalmor are returning to Efra, you need to--oh… oh no…”

The ghost-dog vanished with a sharp crackle, and Elahrair jumped out of his hammock. “Ceydralas? Ceydralas, where are you?” Elahrair called. He ran to his window and saw Thalmor soldiers approaching the ghrat-oak; all armed, and in great number. Waking his mother first, and then the elder, Elahrair warned the village about the incoming threat, but the Thalmor had the surrounded and unable to escape. The elder pushed through the crowd, redfaced and angry with spittle clinging to his graying beard.

“What is the meaning of this?” the elder shouted. “I told you that we do not have any more lushoot to give you!”

“There’s still plenty left. Get back out there and dig up the rest!” a soldier replied.

“If we do that, we won’t have any to dig up next year!”

“So you still refuse orders? Need I remind you that this land belongs to the Aldmeri Dominion?”

“This is our land!”

“Perhaps you weren’t aware, being out here in this blasted swamp, but the Dominion rules Valenwood now. You will obey our orders or face the consequences.”

“No!” Sylanen shouted, standing next to his father and brothers. The rest of the village erupted into a roar of discontent jeering. Elahrair’s eyes whirled around in search of his mother, but his legs were too petrified to move.

“If you continue to refuse to cooperate, you will be detained!”

Sylanen broke through the crowd and angrily challenged the Thalmor. “This is our home!” he shouted to the soldiers. “You can’t make us leave!”

Suddenly, the world around Elahrair turned into a blur. A rock soared through the air, hitting one of the Thalmor soldiers. A sword was drawn, and the elder pushed Sylanen out of the way, meeting his end on the blade meant for his son. The crowd closed in on him, and Elahrair struggled to free himself from the fray.

“Mother!” he cried.

“Run, Rabbit!” he could hear Ceydralas shout. “Run!

Rabbit squirmed out of the crowd and made a mad dash to the thick forest to the north of Efra in a moment of sheer panic. He heard a terrible crash behind him, and could smell a lingering odor of smoke rising above the smell of damp leaves. They were firing spells at him! He ran faster, faster, as fast as his feet could carry him until he could no longer move. He gasped for breath, not knowing how far into the forest he’d ran or even what direction his village was.

I have to go back! I have to find Mother!

Catching his breath, Elahrair started running again. He farther and more desperately than the first time, eventually realizing that he was hopelessly lost. He could not see his village, or the sea, or even the sky  beyond the canopy of the trees.

“Mother! Ceydralas! Anybody?”

Rabbit!

The ghost-dog weaved through the thick tree trunks and stopped at Elahrair’s side.

“Ceydralas! What happened?”

“I’m afraid your mother has been captured by the Thalmor. Sylanen, too. Everyone has.”

“What about the elder?”

“He’s dead. I’m sorry I couldn’t warn you sooner.”

“No...” Elahrair collapsed on the ground and began to weep. “I don’t understand...”

“The noble who was buying the lushoot from your village didn’t like being told he couldn’t have any more. I didn’t find out about his plans to take over until it was too late. Listen, Rabbit, the Thalmor know you escaped. They’re going to hunt you down. They don’t leave witnesses when these purges happen. You have to leave this place.”

“All this...” Elahrair wiped the tears from his eyes. “For some clams? Why did they do this?”

Ceydralas sighed heavily. “Because they can.”

Lady N's picture
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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.