Chapter 1: Forehead Touch
Voryn dies, and Soula holds him.
Also posted to my Tumblr!
Voryn’s body is cold within the heart chamber. His head, unmasked, rests against Soula’s thighs. He’s still alive, barely, each labored breath makes her heart clench in her chest. His clawed hand holds hers as tears drip down her face. She can taste ash and blood in her mouth. It hurts, horribly, to see him like this. Her memories of him were not always pleasant, but she would have traded a thousand lifetimes just to see him smile again.
“Blame not yourself, Nerevar, you did what needed to be done.”
The Nerevarine lets out a broken sob. She wants so badly to use the rest of her magicka to heal him, to see him come out unscathed so they can be united once more. She weeps for all the time they lost due to the Tribunal’s betrayal.
“Whom else can I blame, it was my carelessness that led us here.”
Voryn’s free hand comes to lightly caress her face. She vaguely remembers waking up with him doing the same so many years ago. It sends a brutal wave of nostalgia through her that makes her feel sick. She cups his hand against her cheek, minding the talons.
She feels him begin to fade, his eyes becoming glossed over and his breathing slowing down. She presses her forehead to his, allowing their shallow breaths to mingle. The touch makes Voryn smile and contentedly close his eyes.
“I have always loved you, Moon-And-Star, and I always shall.”
She presses a final kiss to his lips, dry and cracked from the toxin of Red Mountain. Tears continue to flow freely from her eyes as she takes in his face one last time.
“And I love you, my darling Voryn. I shall see you on the other side, someday.”
With that, Voryn lets out a breath he seemed to be holding, and his spirit left her side.
She held him for a long while after that, remembering what it was like when it all seemed perfect.
Chapter 2: Huddling For Warmth
Vivec craves attention, and Soula remembers.
ahah. Poor Soula.
Seeing Vivec again hurt more than it should have.
He killed her. His betrayal is still a painfully fresh wound that makes her skin crawl and stomach twist. But that wasn’t the worst part. When she saw his face again, the gold and blue contrast hardly mattered. The shape of his face, the intensity of his gaze, was so familiar even after all these years. She would know him, all of them, no matter what form they took.
She can still remember their early days, vaguely. She hates how fragmented her memory is. They traveled together for a while when she was still a caravan guard. They didn’t like one another much in the beginning, as was to be expected. They spoke only out of necessity. Soula can faintly remember the quips they traded long ago on their travels, before Nerevar was Hortator, before they even met Seht and Ayem. Perhaps the worst of it all is that she cannot even remember Vivec’s original name.
She curls up in bed one night, tugging the thin blankets around her in a vain attempt at warmth. Flashbacks flood her mind as she shifts, the whole atmosphere changing into something that tore at her soul.
It’s a rather cold night, Nerevar muses. Far to windy for a fire, the caravan had taken shelter behind several outcroppings. Not that it helped the chill much, but it was better than nothing. He is on watch, currently, listening to the gentle sounds of Resdayn at night. When he catches movement out of the corner of his eye, his hand instinctively goes to the hilt of his sword and he scans the surrounding campsite.
It’s only Vivec, however. The sight of him walking around a smaller rock brings a gentle smile to his face. The two certainly got off on the wrong foot, but it is rather pleasant to know that they could be considered friends now.
“Can’t sleep?” He asks, crossing his arms over his chest and raising an eyebrow. Vivec laughs softly, careful not to wake any of their company who were blessed with the ability to sleep in such weather.
“I grew up in Mournhold, as you well know. The city’s design never allowed for a cold such as this.”
Even in such weather, Vivec’s shirt is unlaced. Nerevar always wondered why he insisted on wearing such little clothing. Perhaps if he bothered, he might actually be warm enough to sleep. Be that as it may, the man takes a seat next to him and rests his head on his knees.
“And what, pray tell, are you doing out here?”
Vivec grins up at him, eyes sparkling in the darkness of the night. He looks rather striking like that, with his hair undone from its usual ponytail. He feels heat rising in his cheeks despite the chill of the night air. Even more when a breeze manages to catch Vivec’s hair.
“Why, keeping you company, of course.”
Nerevar can’t help it, he laughs. At least he has the decency to cover his mouth to muffle the sound. The very thought is incredibly amusing, considering exactly what Vivec considers as “keeping company” can vary wildly from arguing to sex. He shoves the latter out of his thoughts, no matter how attractive he finds his friend at the moment. Now certainly isn’t the time.
He supposes he isn’t too surprised when Vivec tucks himself under his arm. Despite how cold he claimed to be earlier, the body next to him is comfortably warm. Nerevar knows he’s blushing now. He only hopes the darkness hides his flushed face. He can feel Vivec smiling against his side, running his fingers up the front of Nerevar’s armor to rest upon his collarbone. It’s an incredibly intimate touch, even by Vivec’s standards.
“And If I am to be keeping you company, the least you can do is keep me warm.”
Nerevar finds he doesn’t mind the trade. He’s confident enough to pull Vivec into his lap and wrap his arms around his middle. The wind seems to die down as he does so, or perhaps it is the warm body pressed against him that banishes the cold. Either way, they speak softly until morning comes. Nerevar thinks they should do this more often. It is very comforting.
Soula’s flashback ends with her body shaking. The memory is so old. She knows the love she had for all of the first council, Voryn especially, but Vivec was the first. She cries softly into the blankets as she thinks of them both when they were so young and carefree. The Nerevarine closes her eyes that night to fall into a sleep plagued by nightmares. She can almost feel the wind on her back and the press of warm, smooth skin against her front. She doesn’t know if the sensation keeps the creeping cold away or makes it worse.
When she sees Vivec next, her eyes are misty with tears. She offers him a small smile, toying with the hilt of her sword.
“You know, I don’t think you ever thanked me for keeping you warm, my friend.”
Chapter 3: Scars
Almalexia left her mark on the Nerevarine.
The summary might make this sound sexy. It isn't. It's painful.
“Nerevarine. Here it ends.”
The battle itself remained a blur, even all these years later. Neither she nor Ayem held back in the fight, even though tears had dripped down Soula’s cheeks the whole time. She had not been to Morrowind in years, but she caught a glimpse of her reflection that made her think of Almalexia.
“Your death will end this prophecy and unite my people again under one god, one faith, one rule by my divine law.”
There was a scar, starting just above the front of her hip and ending on the back of her ribs. Hopesfire had been embedded there for several minutes, leaving not only the mark of the blade but the tendrils of a lightning scar. It had been an incredibly painful experience. Even as the physical pain had long faded, the emotional ties of the scar still hurt. Her dearest Ayem, her once-wife all those years ago, had nearly killed her again. Even in her maddened state, her words cut deeper than any blade could ever hope to.
“None may stand in my way. Not you, and certainly not Vivec.”
The Nerevarine could not bring herself to hate any of the first council for what transpired. She had spent so long dead and without them that, whilst the betrayal hurt like a knife to her heart, she just wanted to see them again. Killing Almalexia was utter agony both from a physical and emotional standpoint. Never had she thought they could have ended up like that.
“And Sotha Sil…he always thought himself our better, shunning us, locking himself in this hole. He spoke not a word as he died.”
Seht’s Clockwork City was still a sore spot in her memory. Soula still hated the fact that if she had gotten there sooner, was just a few weeks earlier, was just faster, he could have lived. In the end, the Tribunal was torn apart by one of their own. She could still remember the sudden, terrifying chill she felt when she saw Sotha Sil’s body hanging there, dead.
“Even in death, he mocked me with his silence! But I think you will scream, mortal. For now, you face the one true god.”
She held Almalexia as she died, even with the sword impaled within her. That much she could recall in clarity. Ayem had lost her mask in the fight and stared up at her with wide, unblinking eyes. She looked more scared than Soula had ever seen her. For what does a god fear more than death?
“I forgive you for everything, Ayem. Let your soul leave knowing I bear you no ill-will.”
She kissed her once-wife’s bloodied lips for the last time.
But Almalexia was right. For when she died, body lying limp on the floor next to her, the Nerevarine did scream. For both Almalexia and Sotha Sil. She let loose a pained howl of grief and rage at the loss of two so dear to her heart.
In the depths of the Clockwork City, Soula wept.