Our Story

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Our Story, Part I

For the sake of our future children and grandchildren, I’ll put these tales to paper for posterity, for I know my husband will not. Even if he wrote about such sentimental things, you know how he is. Sometimes I think his notes just grow wings and flutter off.

I was a wild thing back when we met. Raised by Clever Folk who made their homes all over Skyrim. They were not the parents of my birth, but told me my mother was a Nord and my father was a Briarheart, and that I was stolen as a babe from the nest of a Hagraven. I was a wild, tempestuous, and beaky child, sharp and spiteful beyond my years.

I loved to talk and play with the birds in the wood or the animals in the glen and I guarded my heart with brambles, so I never doubted this truth to this tale of my parentage. I grew steady like a reed on the riverside, the whorls of magic I could see moving across the land guiding my hand and teaching me so very much. My way of looking and speaking and acting in the world made me beloved by my clan for what I could do. Even if not for who I was.

Shalidor just appeared one day, quite suddenly. I rarely got a moment to myself, someone always after me for my magic. I valued my solitude. I was not happy to see it disturbed by some bewildered stranger appearing in the middle of my alchemy garden, stumbling all over my white caps and imp stools.

I tore into him for his irresponsibility and scolded him for his sloppy portal magic. Opening a passageway to a place one had never been before! He seemed to get his bearings, and he argued right back that he had been here before, when the place was a broad glacier and not a swamp. And thereby not inhabited by shouting swamp-witches like me.

That gave me pause. Not the insult. The title of swamp witch rather charmed me. But the cottage where I took residence had stood there for an age or longer, shared for generations by wandering Clever Folk. I’d never known the land around it as anything but marshlands. By the state of things, it had been so for hundreds of years. I was annoyed, but the wind picked up as a blizzard roared in, so I sourly bade him into my hut for shelter.

There, I learned he had returned to Skyrim after many years abroad in search of someone called the Warrior-Witch of Kyne’s Aegis. And another someone who was a Priest of Jhunal wandering the Pale. And another someone who was a Clever-Woman living in the Druadach mountains. I told him that I happened to be all three of those things, and that I was happy to add “Shouting Swamp-Witch of Hjaalmarch Hold” as of that day.

Our Story, Part II

To his credit, he did not seem to doubt my credentials—only his luck. Where I was known by many names, he was known only by Shalidor. He’d heard tale of my accomplishments in whatever far-flung corner of the world he’d come from. He had sought me out to bear witness to my magic.

I knew of Shalidor, of course. Who didn’t? What he’d said about the swamp being a glacier suddenly made sense. He was many lifetimes older than me, and yet still fool enough to land himself in my little garden! I laughed about that and eventually, over tea, it got him to crack a smile as well.

All through the storm we spoke, stopping only to top up the kettle. I interrogated him about his magic, and he mine, as we charted a map of our differences in method and practice.

All that winter, we talked and wrote and read and shared companionable silences. When I was summoned for my skills as a witch, priestess, or healer, he would follow to observe. Never butting in, helping only when I called for it. When others asked about him, I joked that he was my apprentice. He never refuted it. I think he preferred his anonymity.

And so, he stayed. We did not share a bed then, but kept each other warm through our constant conversations. He seemed more interested all the details of my comparatively short but eventful life than expounding on all the places he’d been, the people he’d met, the things he’d seen in his many years of life.

He could have left at any time, and I’d have had plenty of cause to send him away. But I’d grown fond of him. He must have felt the same, for he didn’t speak of leaving until the snow was melting with spring fast on the way.

It was then that he broke the ice, so to speak. He told me that he knew the secret to a life everlasting, and that he wanted to share it with me.

Our Story, Part III

Shalidor had offered me eternal life. I said no, of course. How could he have spent a winter with me, talking so closely, and know me so little?

We argued at length about his methods. “Eternal life,” I said. “All the time to travel by foot and see the world, and yet you use portals to bypass what wonders you might find along the way?”

“A mortal life,” he would argue back. “Your accomplishments constrained only by time, and you would spend it plodding from place to place, one foot in front of the other?”

We had agreed to disagree. I made it clear: immortality was anathema to me. I would not prolong my life any more than I would want to prolong summer to stave off winter. The beauty in seasons is always in their passing.

I marveled at the idea that he could convince me of this thing, to change me in so short a time. I had never been in love before, you see. I had not yet not realized the myriad ways in which such a thing can change a person.

I refused him on no uncertain terms. And that was the last I saw of Shalidor for some time.

It took several years passing before I came to terms with how I felt about that funny old man. It makes me laugh to look back and wonder how it took me so long. He was constantly on my mind! But Shalidor arguing theory with me in my head was a poor substitute for the real thing. And he conceded far too often, too easily to my superior reasoning. I needed to see him again.

I thought of him in Summerset on Eyevea, that little island sanctuary he told me about. I bartered for maps of the region, the best I could find. And I taught myself portal magic. It did not come easy to me, and had I not missed him so terribly, I would never have persisted as I did. When at last I could wait no longer, I focused my magic and opened a portal to Eyevea.

Our Story, Part IV

I opened a portal to Eyevea. Or at least, I thought I had. I emerged in complete darkness! But a mage is never without means of making light. I could feel masses of magicka like the sun somewhere far above me, so I began to climb through the caverns, which gave way to cleared ruins of a bygone age. At last, I found daylight. I had made it to Eyevea, only very far beneath it.

I swam to the center island, where I saw signs of a settlement. I was a daughter of Skyrim, and the water felt warm as a bath to me. The trees were heavy with blossoms, even at this time of year. I wandered, calling for Shalidor. Inside, I found myself in his study. A veritable library of parchment organized by no method known to Nirn nor Oblivion. But among the scribblings, I spotted my name.

Not just once, mind you. I read them, of course. I’m not ashamed to say. A year’s worth of unsent letters and apologies. Confessions, false starts, academic musings. All addressed to me. I was in the middle of reading when I was startled by the appearance of a lovely High Elf woman, who seemed just as surprised to see me. To my relief, she introduced herself as an appointed caretaker, tending to the place while Shalidor was away.

Naturally, I inquired where he was away to, as I was hoping to meet with him rather urgently. But such a meeting wouldn’t be possible for some time, she said, as he was headed to Skyrim. By boat to High Rock, then on by foot from there. He meant to visit an old friend, she told me, but he hoped to see what other marvels he might find along the way. She told me how long ago he’d left and estimated that he’d probably reach his destination any day now.

By the time a portal opened heralding his return, I’d made myself quite at home on Eyevea. He appeared well-traveled, cloak stained from the road and his beard grown long and wild. In his hands were my scribbled notes on portal magic, and dozens of unsent letters bearing his name that he’d no doubt discovered upon reaching my cottage.

In the long time I’ve known him, a smile on his face is as rare as the sun in a Skyrim winter. But I’ll never forget the one he had for me that day.

The caves beneath the island would someday become the Scholarium. Though our travels often led us apart from one another, we would always return to meet again on Eyevea.

He wished to offer me eternal life so that we might spend it together. I wished to spend my single mortal life as his partner. You might ask yourself, whose wish was the greater show of the love we’d come to share?

If we ever come to a consensus on that, I imagine we no longer walk this world together.

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