16 Frost Fall
It has been some time since I spent the night at the Balmora Mages Guild and my presence was greatly welcomed by all present. Ajira's disbelief at my replacing the valuable Daedric equipment with simple chitin caused everyone a great deal of amusement. She slyly asked where I had left them, but I professed to not have remembered and I am sure the wily Khajiit's agents will be out searching the wasteland for them soon enough. Galbedir was a great help in identifying the various enchanted things I had found, but predictably many are not of much use. Ranis hinted at there being some tasks needing accomplishment, but becoming the Nerevarine far outweighs any other consideration.
I made sure to purchase a few Water Walking potions from Ajira before teleporting back to Wolverine Hall, it would hardly do for the "high-born Telvanni" lady to show up at the Zainab camp soaking wet! After a short walk across the water I reunited with "my" slave, Falura. Savile had made sure the girl was fed and ready before I met them and we set off across the water towards Zainab camp.
The girl would not divulge any information as to her background or circumstances, but did seem eager to start a new life with the Ashland tribe. She in turn never stopped asking me questions about my own history, but I was not much more prepared to answer either. I have never felt ashamed of my past, but there is also not a whole lot to tell. Born and left an orphan on the Temple steps, worked there to pay for my boarding and education, then got kicked out and wandering into the Auxiliaries. Not very exciting.
She talked during the entire walk to the camp, mostly of what she imagined her future with the Zainab tribe would be. She wound up drawing several Nix Hounds to us by the constant noise and she was in no way at all a warrior. If I ever thought it difficult to face a single opponent in front of me, then facing a single opponent in front of me with a frightened Dunmer clutching my back is even worse. Fortunately Falura's dress remained unharmed throughout the ordeal.
Falura's first look at her new husband proved a favorable one. She peeked into the ashkhan's tent in gross violation of protocol and gushed that the man inside was "distinguished looking" with a face that showed he liked to laugh. I will have to take her word for it, as I did not detect anything of the sort. She assured me she would be happy with such a man, but I merely shrugged and announced our presence outside of the tent. Kaushad commanded us to enter and the first thing he asked when we stepped inside was if Falura was his "Telvanni bride". Not willing to outright lie to the man, I merely asked that he satisfy his curiosity by speaking to the woman. Her responses were perfect and he was satisfied with his high-born lady, even if he complained that her hips were not quite as generous as he had hoped.
And with that I was named Zainab Nerevarine and given the 'Thong of Zainab', an amulet charged with an enchantment to let me sense all the creatures around me. Potentially useful when I was first starting out on Vvardenfell, but not so much now. I bid the new couple farewell and left the tent, Falura calling out to visit again soon.
My final Ashland tribe was the Erabenimsun. Nibani had described them as being little more than brutes and advised that I discount their ashkhan entirely in favor of dealing with the wise woman. Their camp was far to the south of the Zainab camp and deep within the true ashland of dust and lava. I planned to follow the coast south until I reached the ashland, then hunt for their camp further inland.
|Early afternoon, leaving Zainab Camp|
The trip between camps was surprisingly uneventful, but any notion that the final Nerevarine tasks would be easy were immediately dismissed when I entered the camp. As I have been doing, I approached one of the lower tribespeople wandering outside to get direction to the wise-woman and the ashkhan. The first woman I approached rebuffed me when I told her of the Nerevarine prophecies, saying that I 'made her tired' and to go away. Okay then.
My second attempt was more successful. A young herder advised me that the Prophecy is seen as foolish superstition by the ashkhan and that it would be much better to speak directly with the wise-woman.
Judging by her advice I was well warned to avoid talking to the ashkhan or the high-ranking personages of the tribe. The wise-woman, Manirai, bluntly told me that I would never be named Nerevarine unless I killed the ashkhan and his war-loving gulakhans. Should I do that, Manirai would then have me convince the peaceful son of the previous ashkhan to step into the vacancy.
She had clearly been planning for me or something equally as desperate, for she had the battle plan all laid out already: Two of the gulakhans, Ashu-Ahhe and Ranabi would be along tonight in their tents, while the ashkhan Ulath-Pal and Ahaz would be together in the ashkhan's tent, forcing an engagement against both at the same time.
And so began my night of...well, not murder exactly. The first gulakhan I approached was Ashu-Ahhe, who let me in his tent after I customarily announced myself. However, once I stepped inside, he sneered and told me that now he would have to burn his tent due to the filth "the khajiit" had brought in with "it". It was kind to give me a more personal reason to kill him. Other than the man's rudeness there was nothing special about him. In combat he was powerful, but slow, like an Ogrim with slightly more intelligence. Against a Khajiit armed with a Daedric dagger (courtesy of an enchanted stabbing tanto I had found), he had little chance. Unfortunately, our fight meant that the whole camp was alerted to what had happened and I expected to step outside to an armed mob.
I stepped outside to nothing. The tribesmen that were outside took special care to avoid looking at me and I suspect they knew this was a reckoning a long time coming.
The mage Ranabi was next and he was ready for a fight. He foolishly declared that I must die due to killing one of the tribe and I stabbed him while he was busy stating the obvious. He had several enchantments that negated what could have been a fatal blow, but it put him off balance and the initiative in my favor. He relied heavily on his magicka, but the confines of the tent and the agility of my attacks kept him on the defensive. He fell with the steel tanto in his throat. He had a robe that looked oddly familiar to me, but I could not place where I had seen it before. It was powerfully enchanted, so I stuffed it in my pack.
I made sure to use all of my enchanted items and all of my spells before entering the ashkhan's tent. I am not accustomed to fighting more than one opponent at a time. The fiercest enemy I have yet faced was the Ash Vampire underneath fortress Kogoruhn, but we faced each other alone. Charging into the tent against two powerful and ready warriors would not turn out well for me.
Deception was in order. The last spell I cast on myself before sliding into the tent was Invisibility. Had I been either Ulath-Pal or Ahaz I would have spread out as soon as I realized my assailant was invisible, but these two backed against the wall, giving me time enough to use my first ever summoning scroll. They were both surprised to see a Flame Atronach suddenly flash into being and start attacking them. I had no great expectations for the Atronach on its own, but the distraction provided me enough time for me to summon a Daedric dagger from my steel one and quickly dispatch Ahaz.
Ulath-Pal was far more difficult. His glass axe was clearly enchanted and delivered hideous wounds on the Atronach, which quickly fled back to whatever Plane it had come from. His victorious combat against the Atronach had weakened him, but in a tribe where might evidently made right, the ashkhan was still a formidable foe. In the end, my simple poisonous chitin spear overcame his glass war-axe, as I was able to hold the spear half-haft and issue six strikes for every one of his. The poison wore him down and I mercifully ended his life with a dagger thrust to the throat when he became unable to lift the axe any longer.
And in that way did the Erabenimsun tribe's leadership change hands. I took an amulet off of Ahaz and Ulath-Pal's axe, this time completely expecting a crowd outside of the tent. But there were less people out than before, so I returned to the wise-woman. She insisted that Han-Ammu, the son of the ashkhan previous to Ulath-Pal, would have to be persuaded to become the ashkhan of the Erabenimsun. She warned me that Han-Ammu was a peaceful man and as a result not comfortable with taking leadership of the normally violent Erabenimsun tribe.
It was not as difficult as I thought it would be. He seemed adamant about refusing to lead the tribe, but I told him of what I had gone through, my discovery of the Sixth House, and my battles with the denizens under Red Mountain. I explained that I had certainly not asked to become Nerevarine, but the responsibility was thrust upon me and I sought only to do right for the people of Vvardenfell. I showed him the weapons I had been given in the Cavern of the Incarnate and assured him that with his tribe's heirlooms, he too could lead the tribe through the difficult times ahead.
He agreed to become Ashkhan of the Erabenimsun and named me Erabenimsun Nerevarine, thereby completing my task to be named Nerevarine among the ashland tribes. He promised to work to reverse the violent reputation of the Erabenimsun and advised that I talk to the wise-woman to receive the 'Seizing of the Erabenimsun', a heirloom that would prove I was named Nerevarine.
I have now passed the Fifth Trial and been named Nerevarine by the four tribes. I have yet to be named Hortator by the three Great Houses and I think it will be best to start with the one I am a member of. Tomorrow I shall start whatever process is required to be named Redoran Hortator.