|Posted on June 20, 2014 at 1:20 AM|
"Will they be alright?"
"Yes, they'll be fine. They're both exhausted, though The boy's muttering in his sleep. Just what in Oblivion where they doing climbing Red Mountain, though?"
All of a sudden, the voices faded out.
When I woke up I was lying on a small, wooden bed with rough blankets.I couldn't remember anything until I sat up and images started coming back to me. Red Mountain, ash storms, Julan shouting…
"So, you're awake," a voice said. It was one of the Ordinators who had helped me drag Julan inside.
"What happened?" I asked.
"You seemed a bit exhausted yourself, and collapsed into bed," he said then called for Ulmiso Maloren, the healer.
"You're fine, and so is that companion of yours," Ulmiso told me. "Though he's been muttering things in his sleep. Poor thing…"
"Do you know when Julan will wake up?" I asked.
She glanced at the bed across from me, where Julan was sleeping. It was the first time I noticed where he was. I got up out of bed and then sat on the chair beside his bed.
"He'll wake up on his own in time," Ulmiso assured me. "By the way, what in Vivec's name were you doing, climbing Red Mountain unsupervised?"
"I really can't explain that right now," I told her sadly. Ulmiso snorted and then walked away, leaving me with Julan.
I looked at Julan's sleeping figure. He looked more at peace while he slept. For some reason, I thought everything about it was perfect.
After what seemed like hours, Julan woke up.
"Uh...where am I?"
I brushed away some loose hair away from his face.
"Ghostgate," I replied grimly.
"Ghostgate? But how…" Julan suddenly groaned and placed a hand on his head. "Oh, Gods my head... my brain feels like it's full of dust and ash...My memories, they're all mixed up. I think I dreamed that we were climbing Red Mountain -"
"Because we were," I pointed out.
How could he forget? It was all his idea!
"We did climb the mountain?" Julan then nodded. "Oh yes... but it was so like my dreams. Except I could hear what the voices were saying this time."
Voices inside his head. I suddenly realized who he was talking to.
"What were they saying?" I asked.
Julan thought for a moment.
"Well, I didn't recognize all of them. But one, one was Dagoth Ur," he said. The devil, I thought angrily. "I don't know how I knew that, I just did.
"He was mocking me. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised," he told me. "But what happened next? What actually happened, I mean."
I scowled while trying to recall what had occurred at Red Mountain.
"You shouted a lot, at me in fact," I told him.
Julan shook his head.
"I'm sorry, Ulina. Keep going."
"Then you fainted," I said. "I carried you back -"
"You actually carried me all that way?" Julan looked surprised.
I nodded. "I didn't think I had much of a choice…"
"But that's not what I – ah, so that part was my dream. Gah, it's all so mixed up!" Julan flopped back down on the bed violently. It made a slight squeaking noise.
"What do you remember, then?" I couldn't help but ask.
Julan held up a hand, giving me the indication to stop and listen.
"Oh, not much. It's not important. So, you saved me again. That's what's important – I failed. I'm still not ready. Maybe I never will be."
"Oh, don't say that, Julan," I begged. "I trained with you for weeks."
It was true. I spent three weeks on this alien island with Julan and he taught me more about the culture of the native Dunmer while helping me, showing me the ropes. I wasn't going to give up on him now.
"Ai, but it's true, Ulina. Maybe I should just go home and herd guar. It seems it's all I'm fit for."
His voice sounded as if he was going to cry any moment. I placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Come on, Julan. I'm not even that good with swords or anything -"
He looked up and gave me a weak smile. I smiled back.
"Thanks, Ulina. I'm glad one of us believes in me. But I don't know what to do next."
"We could train some more?" I suggested. It seemed to be the most obvious option. "Besides, I haven't -"
There was a sudden pregnant pause that filled the room. Julan sat up on the bed and we exchanged looks for a moment.
"Well, yes, but although you have helped me and I thank you for that, I think I need a new input."
"Like what?" I asked, curious for what other suggestion Julan had.
"There is another option I've been avoiding, but I have no choice. I should go home and ask my mother for advice."
I was dumbfounded. I hadn't heard much about Julan's mother, but I knew she sent him on a very dangerous mission to kill Dagoth Ur - the Devil - and took away most of Julan's life in the process.
"Did...did you want me to go with you?" I asked.
"Yes," Julan stated this matter-of-factly. "Of course. I want my mother to meet you - so I can show her not all Outlanders are ignorant, idiots like she told me."
"Oh...no, no...that's not what I -"
"It's fine, Julan." I was still nervous at the prospect of meeting Julan's mother.
"Seriously, though," he grabbed my right hand and gave it a small squeeze. "Come with me. I think I could use your help."
I hesitated for a moment. If I let Julan go alone, I might never see him again. I had to go.
"Fine. I'll come with you."
There was sudden silence again. This time, I broke it. I had to ask him this question.
"Hmm...is something wrong, Ulina?"
"When...when we were up in Red Mountain...you said something. You said you were Indoril Nerevar reborn."
That was something I had been wondering about. Just who was Indoril Nerevar?
Julan raised his eyebrows. "...I did?"
"You don't believe me?" I asked, my voice full of mock hurt.
He rolled his eyes. "Typical of you."
"Care to explain?" I asked. "I mean, who's Indoril Nerevar?"
"Care to explain?" he echoed. "Not really, no. But I guess you won't let it drop."
"No, I won't," I snapped.
"Gah! You're so tenacious! Okay, okay." He said, with a bit of a glare focused my way, "I will tell you. But not right now. I'm tired and my head hurts. We should both get some sleep."
Reluctantly, I moved to the bed across from him and pulled the rough covers over my body. I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep and would probably be tired the next day, but I really didn't care.
On the way to Vos - where Julan told me was where he wanted to go first - we stopped by a tavern in Sadrith Mora. That was when he told me about Indoril Nerevar and everything else. How his mother was banished from the camp, and -
"The first thing you should know is that my mother is not actually my mother by birth," Julan explained over a Mazte. "No one has any idea who my real parents are. Azura sent mother a dream, telling her to follow a black kagouti into the Grazelands. She found me: a baby in the shadow of some rocks. Azura told her that her task would be to raise as me as a warrior for an important destiny."
I couldn't help but snigger into my drink.
"Did she actually tell you that?"
"Take this seriously, Ulina. Please."
"OK. Was she still with the camp when this happened?" I asked.
"No, she'd just been exiled," Julan said. "Azura told her that her fate was to be left alone so she could concentrate on my upbringing."
"Why was she exiled?" I kept badgering on. Every question Julan answered left more unanswered.
"I don't know," Julan admitted. "It was before I was born of course. Something to do with tribal politics. I think she upset some important people. If you really want to know you could ask her, but I doubt she'd tell you. She doesn't like to talk about it. I used to play in the camp as a child and I heard all sorts of lies – vicious, untrue rumours."
"OK, as interesting as this all is...what does this have to do with you being Nerevar?" I asked.
Julan looked at me.
"You know who Nerevar was, right? The one who united our people against the Nords and Dwemer?"
"No," I admitted.
He rolled his eyes.
"Oh, yeah. I forgot. You're an Outlander. I guess it doesn't matter whether you do or not. Go and read a book, if you care."
I made a mental note to find a book about Nerevar the next time I went to a library.
"Then what does matter? I still want to about you being Nerevar!"
"Keep your voice down, will you?" Julan snapped before lowering his voice so it was barely a whisper. "What matters is that he was murdered by Tribunal of Vivec, Almalexia and Sotha Sil, the false gods that the great houses of Morrowind and Vvardenfell worship."
I didn't say anything, letting Julan continue.
"Anyway, Azura foretold that Nerevar's spirit would one day be reborn to avenge himself and set things to rights in Vvardenfell by destroying Dagoth Ur and whatever profane sorcery the Tribunal used to steal their false god-hood. In the prophecies, this reincarnated Nerevar is known as the Nerevarine."
I raised my eyebrows. I found it hard to believe that anyone could back from the dead like that. It just wasn't possible.
But then again, lots of things seemed impossible until I came to Vvardenfell.
"You think this might be you?"
"I know it sounds…well, unbelievable," Julan began. "I find it hard to believe myself, sometimes. But…it's true. Azura has revealed her will and explained what must be done. I know I have a responsibility to fulfill and however impossible it might seem I have to try. Who could oppose Azura?" he grinned as he said this. "I trust her to know what my destiny hold, and what I am capable of."
"So...you speak to a daedric prince?" I couldn't hide the skepticism in my voice, although I tried.
Julan took a long gulp of Mazte, then began talking.
"Not personally, no," he admitted. "She speaks to my mother through her dreams and visions. That's why I need to go home and consult her wisdom. She'll know what to do, because Azura will advise her."
"We should leave tomorrow, then."
It was already quite late, and I was tired from walking all the way from Ghostgate to Sadrith Mora.
"Ulina, look," Julan reached across the table and took one of my hands. "I know I've been very secretive about all this but I do have good reasons."
"Can you tell me?" I asked.
"Because I trust you, yes," Julan said. "If they knew about me, the Tribunal and their Temple followers would hunt me down and destroy me. So would the Emperor, come to that, since the Nerevarine is also prophesied to free Vvardenfell from the foreign invaders. So I must ask you to keep my secret."
Given the pleading tone in his voice, what could I do but agree. Besides, if I ran around telling people that Julan was the Nerevarine, would they believe a word I said? Probably not.
"OK," I told him. "I believe you."
"Thank you, Ulina." Julan took another sip of his Mazte. "But I'm not asking you to believe me...I'm asking you to keep my secret, and maybe…um…," he took another sip of his drink. "Well, it's like this…You've been a good friend to me and I…I'm not accustomed to asking anyone for help. It's always been just me and my mother. But if you...if you..."
"I'll be glad to help."
"Thank you. For everything. One of these days I swear I'll do something you can thank me for."
After that conversation, the mood between us lightened considerably. We finished our Maztes, and ordered more. I was beginning to feel a bit light headed after my third, and suddenly felt the urge to giggle at anything I found funny.
For the first time in my life, I was drunk.
After awhile, I managed to pay for a room for the two of us and I lead Julan to his bed.
"You knoooow, Ulina…" Julan slurred, "no one has ever been as nice to me as you have. 'Cept maybe Shani...Shani was reaaal nice."
"Just who...who in oblivion is...Shani?" I asked, slurring myself.
Julan didn't answer, he just fell into bed.
Making a mental note to ask about Shani the next day, I crawled into my own bed.
"Morning, Ulina," Julan greeted me as I climbed down the stairs. "I guess you'll want some breakfast before we carry on."
"Yeah?" He gave me that expression he always did when he knew I wasn't pleased.
Julan almost choked on his water.
"How...Mephala! How do you know that name?"
"We were drunk last night, remember?" I reminded him.
"Oh. Well, if you must know...she was my ex-girlfriend."
I should have known.
"I suppose you could say that we were childhood sweethearts. We grew up together back when I used to have more contact with the Ahemmusa camp than I do these days. I always had a crush on her, but never actually expected her to feel the same way Turned out she did."
As he said these words, he smiled. I suddenly felt my heart sink in unidentifiable horror.
"Continue," I said coldly.
"Anyway we were nearly adults by that time and you know how it is. Sneaking out at night to meet, hiding from our parents. We thought we were really in love, us against the world, all the usual stuff. Head in the clouds, really."
"So, why isn't she your girlfriend anymore? What happened?"
"My mother happened, that's what. She found out and told me to break it off with Shani."
I shook my head.
"I don't get you sometimes, Julan. If you really loved her -"
"You don't understand! My mother was right. I didn't see that at the time, of course. I yelled, swore and absolutely refused. We had a huge row, and I left home in a rage. Lived in the mountains for a week and then the dreams started getting to me.I had time to think about everything, and sadly I realized my mother was right. My responsibility, my duty to my people, goes beyond my feelings for one person. Shani was distracting me. I was forgetting my sacred mission. If I really cared, I had to leave her to focus on my training. Anything else would've hurt her in the long run."
"Oh," my voice sounded sad and I mentally kicked myself by turning away.
"Don't be like that, Ulina," he begged. "Just don't. You don't understand. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. She never forgave me. Maybe it would have ended anyway... but I still wonder how things might have turned out."
"Come on. We still have a long way to go," I told him grimly.
We stopped at Vos first, and by the time we reached there it was nearly midday. Julan and I bought a very valuable amulet for his mother (this was the first time I heard Julan's mother's name. Her name was Mashti) and made our way towards Ahemmusa camp.
"Be careful here," Julan warned. "I'm not welcome because I'm an outcast, and you're an Outlander. Just try to stay out of their -"
A shrilly voice called out Julan's name several times in a row and I turned around to see a young woman about my age running towards Julan and I.
"Who is this?" I asked.
Julan sighed. "Shani."
Shani was very beautiful, with long red hair tied back into very long braids that reached her mid back.
Suddenly, I felt very self-conscious. This was Julan's ex.
"They told me you went to Red Mountain!" Shani exclaimed. "Where have you been?"
Julan didn't answer her, instead he gave her a blank stare. "Hello, Shani."
"I've been so worried and - who is this?"
She suddenly turned to face me with a curious look.
"I'm Ulina," I told her, trying to keep my voice emotionless. Shani obviously sensed this, because she gave me a rather odd look and turned to face Julan.
"I see you've changed your mind, I'm so glad!" she gave him a hug, but Julan didn't hug her back. "You have changed your mind, haven't you? You're not still a complete idiot?"
"No, I haven't changed my mind," Julan snapped. "I just need a bit more training. Ulina's been a great help."
I smiled weakly. For some reason, I felt as if I really shouldn't be there at all.
Shani broke away from Julan.
"Yeah? Well you'd better run home before your dear mother catches us talking!" she shooed the both of us away. Julan took my hand and the two of us ran towards a daedric ruin in the distance.
"Same old Shani," Julan muttered under his breath. "Why can't she listen? You listen. Sometimes I don't know what I saw in her at all."
Kaushibael camp wasn't that far away from the Ahemmusa camp, and as soon as we arrived I took in the sights around me.
There were three yurts surrounding a fire, and one of them had skulls on pikes outside of it. I grimaced. Why would someone want such a thing displayed outside their yurt?
"Don't worry about that," Julan said behind me. "Mother's idea of a joke...I think. Just let me do the talking and we'll be fine."
He opened the door of the yurt with skulls outside it and inside was Mashti Kaushibael.
She didn't look pleased to see me at all.