On any given sunny day, if you take a stroll down Helseth Way, towards the Southside Plaza, you’ll see an outlandish sight, two old men sitting on a bench, usually close to the D’Hryss statue. What’s strange about this? There are always elderly people wandering or taking it easy on the beautiful walkways of Reich Parkeep.
This reporter was born in this city, and I can recall them from my childhood, since then I’ve married two good men, given birth to three beautiful children and consider myself happy and fulfilled. I don’t believe I’ve ever had or seen a conversation with another man – or mer, as long, or as intensely, as they have. Jealous? You bet! And obsessively curious (a good trait in a journalist, believe me). I decided I needed to find out more.
Well, I discovered that one is a semi famous Dunmer historian, Athelyn Berendus, and his friend is a Breton, and they talk, animatedly, non stop. I read the single book that Berendus has had printed – a rather dry account of the Akavir incursion into Morrowind, and decided an interview was long overdue…
The Breton traveller looked with interest at the statue lording it over the market area, a half man, half snake creature that glared off towards the east. A passing Dunmer caught him looking at the statue, and paused to watch it with him.
“Strange statue,” the Breton began uncertainly, “I’d heard there were snake creatures who hated men, living on the isle of Akavir. Always plotting to overthrow Tamriel, or something…”
The Dunmer scowled – or it might have been a half smile, the Breton could rarely tell with the damned Dark Elves. His voice was garrulous, “D’Hryss was a friend to our ancestors, he lured the murderous Akaviri demons into a trap at Red Mountain where all were slain. He averted what would have been a costly war into a victory for Almalexia and the Underking.”
The Breton nodded his head, “What made him turn against his own people?”
The Dunmer shook his head, “You should learn your history my young friend.” His voice took on a note of repetition, “No Men or Mer live in Akavir, though men once did. These Men, however were eaten long ago by the vampiric Serpent Folk of Tsaesci.” He turned to the Breton, “Welcome to Reich Parkeep, my name’s Athelyn Berendus, I teach history.”
The Breton took the unexpected hand thrust and found himself smiling into the alien Dunmer eyes, "Francois Thierry... er... Rogue Mage, dilettante -" he shrugged, “rich parents, you know?”
Athelyn looked him over shrewdly, hardly more than a child – as dunmer measured age, but he saw wisdom in those cloudy green eyes, and an easygoing insolence that possibly came from never worrying about your next meal, “so Francois, why are you here - in Morrowind?
The Breton shrugged, “Taking a few years out, adventuring, y’know? Thought I’d check out Red Mountain, before settling down to some trade… Just… searching -” He laughed, a short ugly bark, then looked directly at the old Dunmer. “I don’t know. It was fun. checking out Hammerfell and fighting my way through Black Marsh – the insects there are really harsh and it’s nearly all waterways. I think I came across two roads in the six months I was there. I met a really nice Nord girl in Skyrim…”
His voice tailed off, he shrugged: “there are no more off the beaten tracks to take anymore, y’know...
The old Dunmer had a smile, and a gleam in his eye that Francoise, who had never really taken to Dark Elves, found irresistible, it was a dangerous, irresponsible look, and he should know, most of his life had been spent following the irresponsible paths, much to his father's chagrine. Like when he’d tried to become a Bard, until a comely lass had tactfully suggested that his path lay in a different direction.
Their friendship was cemented in that moment.
Athelyn said, “Akavir and Tamriel have always been at war, it’s been fairly bloodless because of the huge distances involved. They invade us and are beaten back, we return the favour, and yet, inbetween times we have spent time together.”
He nodded at the statue: “D’Hryss came to us on a homemade boat, alone, half dead, to warn us about an invasion the Demons of Kamal, the Snow Hell, had concocted.
He never betrayed his people, the denizens of Kamal and Tsaesci, the Snake Palace, hate each other…
Like Tamriel, Akavir has different regions: Kamal, where the Demons live; Tsaesci, home of the Snake People; Tang Mo, of the Monkey Folk who are kind, brave and simple – some say mad; and Ka Po’ Tun lorded over by a race of Tiger People attempting to become dragons. They are always one against another.
Yet, in the closing years of the second Empire, Tamriel was ruled by a Tsaesci warrior, until the Morag Tong assassinated him. That ended the second age, and Tamriel collapsed into four hundred years of dark savagery…”
Francoise laughed, and this time it was natural, and full of wonder, “You want to go there, to Akavir, don’t you?”
Lord Galtis Fyr Seran was away that summer, strengthening the borders of Morrowind against Skyrim. He was at Reich Parkeep, it being particularly vulnerable thanks to the mountain pass through Ancient Gate.
Though the natural barriers and the Keep kept the Cyrodiilians at bay, the Nords of Skyrim were built of sturdier stuff, and weren’t averse to fighting a terrorist raiding war. With the collapse of the Empire some four centuries earlier, the world had become a more violent place, frequent and murderous back and forth of border clashes were the order of the day.
So it was that the Lady of Mournhold, Drelas Fyr Seran, found herself alone (not including the battalion of guards and protectors surrounding her), with a burning desire to travel to a small island, Ghome, far to the east. Her guards attempted to dissuade her from this dangerous course, but like her future daughter, it could be very hard to tell her what to do.
When they arrived they discovered a half dead Tsaesci snake man clinging to a raft that looked close to sinking. With barely any strength he raised himself high and bowed low. Drelas had to forcefully stop her guards from slaughtering him on the spot, and stated she would hear what he had to say.
“My lady Drelas, I called you from afar. My name is D’Hryss Tsaesci-Ohlsca and I bring grave warning for your husband, Lord Galtis. The demon king Alda’Soom Dir-Kamal and his army are waking in the thaw of Kamal. They have plans for invading Morrowind.”
Rather than trust this information being sent by battlemages, Lady Drelas decided that she herself would take this creature to her husband. And a scout was sent ahead to alert Lord Galtis of their coming.
Along the way she bathed and fed him, watching with interest as he tore into fresh goblin meat, sucking greedily at the dark blood.
She lay with D’Hryss on the last night of the journey for the Tsaesci are gold, tall, beautiful and excitingly frightening.
Her husband was less pleased to meet him, “We are under attack from Skyrim with incursions from Cyrodiil, all the Legions are stretched to breaking point and we can ask for no help from any quarter.”
D’Hryss said, “Ada’ Soom will be arriving on your eastern shores in seven years, you have some breathing space, for the thaws are not yet complete. Hah, he hates me with a passion, with reason, and we will give him one last reason to hate me more, at his end.
Amongst our people it is said one of your gods repelled a previous invasion, can you expect no help from them this time?”
Drelas and Galtis looked at each other, then Drelas proposed that D’Hryss, when the time came, lead the demon to Red Mountain where the support of Almalexia and the Underking might be relied upon.
In the meantime he was asked to help with the protection of the Skyrim border, where the Nords eventually tired of the 'bloodletting by the demon snake' and looked for easier conquest to the South and West. He made a welcoming home for himself in Reich Parkeep for the seven years before the Akavir invasion was due.
Although he successfully led the demon king to Red Mountain, he never returned from the endeavour. Lady Drelas commissioned a statue to be erected in the town he called, however briefly, home.
And? ... Well, there is the deeper reason why the pair are so cheerful. Are they mad, simple as that? I had heard that simple folk were the happiest, lack of knowledge being no barrier to joy...
Oh they sound sane, and they could talk for Akatosh, but if you want to read the real low-down on these two, look for my article 'Akavir' in our next issue.
Your humble reporter, Elaine Sintieve
Copyright © 2006 Tony F Paulazzo All Rights Reserved