Created: 1/28/2007 -- Last Updated: 7/18/2007
Chapter 1 -- Ill Met by Starlight
Chapter 2 -- Sand and Glass
Chapter 3 -- Interlude, with Foreshadowing
Epilog -- Turnabout, Game, and Match
Echoes in Sorrow and Madness:
Turnabout, Game, and Match
A NWN2 / Elder Scrolls crossover
“Wake up. You were dreaming.
“No, brave godsman, do not try to move. You are injured and will do yourself greater harm. Here, lie still and I will take your hand.”
“Wha… Godsman? Lady Sera? I can’t see. I feel… where?”
“In a place of safety, in the fringelands between Nirn and the realm of the Madgod Sheogorath. I had you brought here so that we might speak, where what you choose and what we say need not pass to the ears of those who wait to write your fate. For by Sheogorath’s whim, what happens in this place-between remains unminded by those beyond its borders.”
“Nirn. Your home… in Limbo.”
“Yes, most precious Casavir, Limbo is what you have told me you call Mundus.
“I have said to you that if it were within my power, I would offer you a new beginning once the threat of the Shadow King was truly ended. And now, that time is upon us and we must be quick, for you have made the fulfillment of my promise much more difficult than I had anticipated.”
“The Shardbearer… the others? She…they live?”
“Shhhhh. Don’t try to sit up. Sand and Zhjaeve stand behind me, waiting for me to ‘get on with it’ so that they may speak with you. The ones you last saw still living survived to walk away. Or escaped by magics to places where scrying could not follow.”
“Sand… Here? All safe?”
“Yes, all safe, at least as far as we could follow. Sand and Zhjaeve are here and wait to speak to you. But first, I must ask that you focus fully on what I say. Your pain has been hidden from you, but your legs are crushed. If you had not been wearing the trinket that I left you as a keepsake, Sand and Zhjaeve could not have brought you to me as your life bled out beneath the broken stones of Merdelain.
“And I say to you that I have done this thing in this way because Zhjaeve has sworn to me that you will choose honorable death over returning to a life turned bitter. And if this is true, then we will tarry for a while, and what we speak of will be passed over by those who wait to judge you -- a dying man’s last incoherence. But I will know that you did not pass this life abandoned and alone. Even if you refuse me, I will still hold your hand until you are passed beyond feeling. And I swear to you that your bones will find their way to the resting place that you have chosen. Though I think the Temple of Seasons will be colder than a Dunmer’s Waiting Door.”
“Waiting Door? Your Ahemmusa?”
“Yes, you have stood with me so that my family might be returned to me. Can I not honor one who has no family tomb in at least this small manner? But now, Katalmach, you weep slow tears your hands grow cold, and you have not yet heard what opens before you as the door of your life on Faerun closes.
“Sand has told me how I must word this thing, the lawful way to say it.
“Hear me, Sir Casavir of Neverwinter, Paladin of Tyr. By the covenants of Mundus you are mad, and have given service to the Prince of Madness. By the concordants of both your gods and mine, that One can redeem you from the service of your Tyr, or from the Wall of the Faithless, if what you most dread is indeed what awaits you. You need only say the word.”
“But, I… haven’t served a Mad... Tyr...”
“Blessed soul, I do not forget what you have shared with me. If your Lord Tyr ever marked you among his false or was shamed by you, I say he does not deserve you. I think you were used as badly as Uriel Septim used his son.
“Even the blind could see that you burned with needless shame while in Tyr’s service. That you could barely breathe straining against vows that held you back from the good to which you were also sworn, and to which you heart still called you. Perhaps your Mount Celestia is Paradise enough to justify the endurance of such testing. But… I have learned to distrust such claims when what I see before me is good men ravaged for the sake of politics disguised as virtue.
“And this is why I tell you that you have served Sheogorath, and are remembered. Even if unknowing at the time, you were not unwilling. And it is the way of Daedric Princes to claim mortal heroes when they can.”
“Faithlessness… the Wall...”
“Gentle Casavir, there will be no Wall of the Faithless for me, bitter though I have been proven more than once. And none for you, if you will have it so. In the glory of Dawn’s Beauty, mortals may believe what they will for the length of their little lives. And when those lives are ended, heroes such as yourself are freed to join the Daedric Prince whose call they hear, or to unravel the Dreaming Sleeve and return to far Aetherius.”
“Not… worthy. Ophala… Li…”
“Ophala -- who used you and then betrayed you? You are not worthy because a half-elven mistress of intrigue chose to play upon your innocence as part of her strategy to escape an unwanted marriage, then did not step forth in challenge when you were left to flee an unjust charge of murder?
“And your Shardbearer? She was 17 and a wild thing herself, starved for love and attention. When you met her in the mountains, she traveled with Khelgar and Grobnar, and in the company of the three of you she put on her best smile and did what was needed to fit herself to your highest expectations.
“It was only when you had committed yourself and returned with her to Neverwinter that you began to see the signs of her true lawlessness. And even then, you denied your eyes until long after she had turned from you to Bishop, and had begun to curry his favor by joining him in cynicism and petty cruelties.
“And yet you stayed, ignoring the thief and refusing to abandon the good in her, and perhaps that alone kept her from turning yet again and joining with the King of Shadows when Bishop did. And now your fire is burning out, and you still cannot let go of blaming yourself for...”
“Peace. Agreed, enough of that. Hear me on more pressing matters. Sheogorath’s intercession at the moment of your death will release you from the oaths that eat your heart and bind you to what you cannot stand. Then, if you cannot stomach Sheogorath, I will journey with you while you go on Pilgrimage and are cleansed of all past offenses.
“You will have the new beginning I promised you. You will be free to join the Divine Crusader’s cause or Stendarr’s knights, or sing up the dawn for Azura. Or to ignore religion for the rest of your life and become a fisherman or a freesword or a juggler or a cook on the Bloated Float. And There Will Be No Wall Of The Faithless.
“In some ways, Tamriel is more wanton and more cruel than your Faerun -- but you will never again have to have faith in anything.
“Erm – that cook idea was not half bad, you know. You really do make good pancakes.”
“Pancakes? You… make light of...”
“No, Casavir, our Lady Sera is becoming frustrated and frustration seems to drive her to non sequitur. Nonetheless, it is apparent to both myself and Zhjaeve that she has gone to a great deal of effort to protect your honor and your free-will, and to minimize the advantage granted her by the Madgod.“
“How? While you were busy with more martial pursuits, Zhjaeve and I worked with Startear to piece out the workings of Lady Sera’s ‘compass.’ Then, with Grobnar's aid, we constructed a similar device that enabled us to track our many-named mystery across the planes.
“To this Fringe place. Where I have, in fact, been informed that I am a tourist in that I am not mad. Nonetheless, I have already been rewarded for my service and accepted a lesser offer from Sheogorath. An occasional lettuce and hank of yarn seem a trifling investment when weighed in the balance with one’s fate.”
“Yes, Casavir. Accepted title to a house known as Benerius Manor, in a seaport city with the quaint name of Anvil. And a letter of recommendation from the Arch-Mage of Cyrodiil that I am to take to the Mages Guild chapter in said Anvil. And instructions as to what I will eventually need to do to gain access to the Imperial Library, along with a map that will guide me to a rather formidable volume of knowledge known as the Ogham Infinitum.
“I will need time to relearn my spells, of course, and to get used to being referred to as a ‘bosmer.’ But I will also escape my past… indiscretions, and the need to bury my talents for fear of drawing the most unpleasant attentions of the remaining Luskan Hosttowers. However, the Arch-Mage thinks that as soon as I adapt, my crafting skills will not only be useful in ‘stirring up Guild complacency,’ but will also put me in high demand. In fact, Lady Sera has made investing in my new shop a stipulation of our agreement.
“But… Demon pacts… The cost…”
“Know Casavir, that Zhjaeve is also here to guard your soul. The Daedra are not demons as you use the term, though they are creatures born of excess and some of them – but not all – are the enemies of the mortals of Nirn.
“This one, Sheogorath, is a trickster, whose true motivations none may know. But I believe that in this case the bitter mercy you are offered is not false. And I have faith also that your Lady Sera will protect you from the worst of the Madgod’s double nature, if such can be done. For the Lady Sera you have always sensed is drawn to you just as is the Daedric Prince.”
“Know that she will not tell you this herself, for she is much your elder and so far from innocence that she fears her touch can only bring you new suffering. And I cannot swear to you that it will not. But know also that she was cast by fate to be the ‘sun’s companion,’ and now that son has passed beyond her reach.
“God-guisers often wear their mortal sleeves badly, and without The Other to consider and make account for, the petulance of the enantiomorph frays at her compassion and mind for mortal weakness. Rather than wait to be twisted by her chirality, and through this mock Martin Septim’s sacrifice, the One you know as Lady Sera has claimed the throne of Madness. But fears that even this is not enough.”
“Know that there is no time left to explain the metaphysics of Aurbis and the Outer Realms. If you do not decide in the next few moments, your spirit will fade from this place and you will go to Judgment as a Paladin who has left the service of his lord and knowingly allied with thieves, murderers, and those who do make pacts with demons.
“Know also that much remains hidden from your eyes, and the one who loves you hesitates to call upon your better nature, fearing that you will act from misplaced chivalry and later come to believe that you were cheated.”
“We are losing him, girl. If you can’t tell him, then why did you drag us all through this sham? Why are we dallying in this decrepit rustic paradise if you’re going to be as inept at asking for what you want as he is.”
“I... yes. Madgod’s blessings on you, Sand. ‘I shall not quail, nor turn away, but face my enemies and my fear.’”
“Casavir, Casavir, don’t go yet. Please, hold on for just for a moment more. I… cannot always stay with you, for I am called to places where you cannot follow. But I have a holding in the Colovian Highlands that needs a lord. And, even when I have to travel, knowing that someone, that you, were awaiting my return…
“And if that is too much, I will help you find a wife that pleases you and can give you children. Only please, please, please don’t die on me. I am so tired of being the survivor, of watching the best of those I could love sacrifice themselves because of honor or indor or shame in who they were made to be.
“Stay alive and let me love you. Please, I need you.”
“Say ‘yes,’ Casavir. You’re being propositioned by a demi-god who wants to give you a castle. And I dare say she’ll marry you, if either of you ever thinks well enough of yourself to ask the other.”
“All stipulations of the contract with Prince Ao have been met. You may proceed with the resurrection.”
“Thank you, Haskill.”
“I live to serve.”