Nerevarine Rising

Chapter Twelve: Urshilaku Rite

Posted on June 20, 2014 at 5:40 PM

The Urshilaku camp was full of life when we arrived, and I couldn't help but feel as if I had intruded on something completely private. The children were staring at me curiously and the adults angrily.


 

"What do you want, Outlander?" an older Dunmer male said as he stepped forward. I cleared my throat and wracked my brains, trying to come up with a decent enough explanation.

 

"My name is Ulina Therayn," I began, "I'm here to speak to Nibani Maesa and Sul-Matuul."

 

The Urshilaku looked a little puzzled,and I swore I could have heard Julan scoff behind me, but I decided to ignore him.

 

"And why is that?" The Dunmer demanded, glaring at me with his angry, red eyes. I took a deep breath.

 

"I think I may fulfill the Nerevarine Prophecies," I responded, trying my best not to look fearful.

 

Some of the crowd in front of me laughed, some of them looked shocked, others looked angry. The male Dunmer in front of them yelled at them in some language I didn't understand - but I guessed it meant "be quiet" or something like that - before turning back to me.

 

"I do not believe what I am hearing," He said. "You think you are the Nerevarine, and you wish to speak to Sul-Matuul and Nibani Maesa."

 

"Yes," I said, knowing they would most likely send me away. Instead, the Dunmer looked me up and down and nodded gravely.

 

"You do not look like the Nerevarine," he said. "But you do not speak like a fool, or a madman. This is a puzzle. I tell you…"

 

"So what do I do?" I asked.

 

"Do what you came to do," he said dismissively. "Go speak with Zabamund in his yurt. He is a gulakhan, Sul-Matuul's champion, and he will decide what is right. If Zabamund gives you permission, then you may enter the Ashkhan's Yurt and speak with Sul-Matuul."

 

I nodded and headed towards a row of yurts that belonged to the Askhann and his Gulakhans, Julan following behind me, not saying a word. Zabamund was sitting on the floor, and apparently he was waiting for us.

 

"Talk, Outlander," he began, the tone in his voice surprisingly civil. "Speak with respect and I will listen."

 

So I did talk. I told him my story in bits and pieces, leaving out Caius and the Blades. This didn't go unnoticed by Julan, who gave me an absolutely livid expression as I talked to Zabamund. Still, at least he kept his mouth shut; something I was grateful for.

 

"These are not simple matters, Outlander," Zabamund said. "You know a great deal more than I would have thought. And some of what you say is news to me. I believe you should speak to Sul-Matuul. Perhaps he will be angry with me. But I think I can bear that. Go to the Ashkhan's Yurt and speak with Sul-Matuul. Ask him your questions, and tell him I have sent you."

***


 

Sul-Matuul's yurt wasn't too far away, but the Ashkhan didn't seem too pleased to see me on first sight.

 

"An Outlander?" he snapped. "Please, pray tell me what you are doing here?"

 

I took a deep breath.

 

"Zabamund sent me," I said.

 

Sul-Matuul's expression softened at these words. "There must be a good reason then, if my Champion sent you. Who are you?"

 

"My name is Ulina Therayn, sera," I replied, "I'm here because I think I fulfill the Nerevarine prophesies…"

 

Sul-Matuul nodded.

 

"You think you fulfill the Nerevarine prophecies, do you? You wish to be tested to see if you are the Nerevarine."

 

"Yes," I said, "Can I be tested?"

 

Sul-Matuul held up a hand. "I'm afraid it won't be that simple. You see, no outlander may join the Nerevarine cult. If you were a Clanfriend, an adopted member of the Ashlander tribes, then perhaps."

 

"Clanfriend?" I asked wearily.

 

"Yes," Sul-Matuul said. "I have an initiation rite in mind. If you pass this rite, I will adopt you as a Clanfriend of the Ashlanders. And then I will submit you to Nibani Maesa, our wise woman, who is skilled in oracles and mysteries, and who will test you against the prophecies."

 

I felt my heart sink and started to worry about what sort of 'rite' Sul-Matuul had in mind. It was probably something dangerous.

 

"What...what sort of rite?" I couldn't help but ask. Couldn't help to be prepared.

 

"To be adopted into the tribe, you must undergo a harrowing," Sul-Matuul explained. "In a harrowing, you will be judged by the spirits and ancestors to see if you are worthy. Go to the Urshilaku Burial Caverns and fetch me Sul-Senipul's Bonebiter Bow. Sul-Senipul was my father, and his spirit guards his bonemold long bow deep in the burial caverns. Return to me with this bow, and I will adopt you into the Ashlander tribes as a Clanfriend."

 

"Where can I find these burial ruins?" I asked.

 

"The burial caverns lie to the south-southeast of the camp, a north-facing door in a little hill halfway between us and the slopes of Red Mountain. Go north from the camp to the water, then turn east. At a rock cairn on the beach, turn and head straight south until you find the door. The spirits of our ancestors guard the caverns. They will attack, and will kill you if they can. Force your way past them, or evade them, get the bow, and return to prove your worthiness."

 

I nodded and left the yurt, walking fat to the cave that was nearby, with Julan trudging along behind. When we reached the caverns I knew we had; the words "Urshilaku Burial Cavern" were carved into the rickety wooden door outside. I went to open it, but felt Julan pull onto my arm before I could.

 

"You're not actually going in there, are you?" he asked. For a split second, I thought I saw concern in his eyes, but then I dismissed those thoughts. He hates me. He's already made that crystal.

 

"Just shut up," I snarled at him, "you've already made your feelings perfectly clear. I'm going in there whether you like or not, so let go of me and get out of my way!"

 

I ripped his hand off my arms, and then went to trying to open the door to the cave again.

 

"No…Ulina," Julan began. "I wasn't trying to…it's just that I have a bad feeling about this. You don't know my people like I do. You think this is an initiation, but it's not. It's a deathtrap."

 

"Why should I believe a word you say for a second?" I snapped.

 

"Just trust me on this, Ulina. Sul-Matuul has no intention of making a Clanfriend; he just wants to get rid of you. He doesn't think you'll come back from this place."

 

I knew I should have listened to Julan; he knew more about the Ashlanders than I did - considering that he was an Ashlander - but I was too blinded by rage and pain to listen to a word he said then.

 

"Really?" I shot at him in disbelief.

 

"If this is truly the Urshilaku Burial Caverns, then they are a most sacred place," Julan said. "No Ashkhan would send an Outlander here to trample and profane the bones of his ancestors. But he might send someone there if he was sure they would die, since the release of their soul would increase the power of the tomb's ancestor guardian spirits. This is how my people think, Ulina. Can you not see that?"

 

"Odd to hear this from you," I said airily. "I thought my death would be something you'd want."

 

Julan said nothing; he just stared at me blankly. His expression was unreadable and quite frankly, I hated it.

 

"I'm going in there," I said defiantly, crossing my arms across my chest. "You can come with me or you can leave; your choice."

 

Julan sighed.

 

"I'm coming," he said, but then, almost as an afterthought added; "Someone has to make sure you treat this sacred place with respect!"

 

I scoffed and finally opened the door, going inside.

***

The moment I stepped inside, I almost tripped over; the floor was slippery and as I went deeper inside, I saw several puddles on the floor. Julan helped me up and we made our way through the cave. I saw several bodies lying in open coffins with their possessions left for all the world to see. I had no desire to touch anything; I knew how seriously the Dunmer took their burial rituals.

 

The next chamber was even damper than the entry one, but I soon found out why; it had a small waterfall and pond. Above the pond was a set of stairs.

 

"Come on," I said to Julan, "I think Sul-Senipul's buried up here somewhere."

 

"Be quiet," He hissed, "we wouldn't want to reawaken the dead!"

 

The chamber at the top of the stairs held Sul-Senipul's body. I quickly took the bow and put in on my back with my rucksack.

 

"It's done," I said, "now it's time we got out of here."

 

"Er, Ulina...I don't think it'll be that simple," Julan said.

 

He was right; There was a fearsome ghost looming over us. If those terrible things could have expressions, I would have thought it was furious.

 

"GET OUT OF THE WAY!" Julan cried, but I didn't move quickly enough; Whatever spell the Ghost had cast on me made me feel as if my bones would crack. I quickly cast a spell to heal the damage that had been done but it didn't work entirely.


 

Julan started vigorously casting a fierce destruction spell at the ghost. I did the same, despite the fact that my spell was nowhere near as strong as his was. The Ghost eventually dissolved into a pile of ectoplasm on the floor, leaving me and Julan standing there.

 

"Now we can get out of here," I said.

 

"Actually," Julan said, his voice suddenly softening. "I kind of wanted to talk to you, Ulina. I've been thinking…About a lot of things really, but mainly about your being forced to be this false incarnate."

 

"And?" I snapped, angry because I was sure he was going to start an argument with me about it again.

 

"Would you shut up and let me finish!" He whispered angrily. I resisted the urge to smirk; he was frustrated. That would serve him right. "You lied to me about being a spy for the Emperor, and I'm still not happy about it. And—"

 

"Julan, if you're going to give me another lecture, I really don't want to hear it."

 

"Will you please be quiet and let me finish?" Julan snapped. "Sheogorath, this isn't easy for me you know! Where was I? Oh, yes…And I'm not happy about you agreeing to pretend to be the Nerevarine for the Emperor, but…"

 

"Excuse me?" I interrupted. I couldn't help it. "Who said I 'agreed to pretend to be the Nerevarine for the Emperor'?"

 

Julan ignored that.

 

"But…as I said, I've been thinking...And I've been trying to imagine what I would have done, if I had been in your position."

 

Enlighten me, I thought bitterly, but said nothing and let Julan continue.

 

"...and...and I don't really know. I probably would have shouted a lot and ended up getting thrown back in prison…" Julan paused and our eyes met. "So it occurred to me that maybe what I would have done in you situation wouldn't have been …very good."

 

"No, it wouldn't," I said gravely. "It wasn't good for me at all. I was only in prison for a week or two and I felt terrible. But I did do it for my sister, who I found out recently isn't my sister at all! I found out that my parents aren't really my parents either."

 

"So you don't know who your real parents are?" Julan asked.

 

"No," I replied. "The Emperor obviously doesn't know, either. Otherwise, why would I even be here?"

 

Julan shook his head. "Look, Ulina...I'm sorry for shouting at you. And not listening to you, and for not thinking about your side of things. I've been an idiot and should have thought that it wasn't your fault that the Emperor is trying to manipulate you."

 

I smiled. "You've been a thoughtless, self-centered immature jerk. But you're forgiven."

 

We started walking out of the chamber, and a sudden thought occurred to me.

 

"Do you think that one day, I may be able to find my parents? My real parents, I mean?" I asked him.

 

Julan snorted. "I wouldn't bank on it, Ulina. If you're the Nerevarine - and I really don't know if it's true or not - then you probably won't. I never found mine."

 

I nodded, and dropped the subject.

***

 

Sul-Matuul was pleased to have the bow back, but insisted I keep it, despite the fact that I didn't know anything about archery. That was always more my sister Eriama's calling. I winced as I thought about this; Eriama wasn't my blood sister either.

 

"You are a friend of our tribe, and may rest in any Urshilaku bed, but do not harm other tribe members, or take their things," Sul-Matuul said to me. "And now I will fulfill my other promise. Go to the wise woman's yurt, and Nibani Maesa shall examine you, and test you against the Nerevarine prophecies."

 

I went to the other end of the camp, with Julan following along behind. Nibani Maesa was a lot younger than I expected her to be, especially since the term "wise woman" made me think of an older, wiser woman.

 

"So, you're the one they told me about," she greeted. "You are hard-headed. And ignorant. But perhaps it is not your fault. My lord ashkhan says you will ask me about the Nerevarine prophecies. He also says I will test you against the Nerevarine prophecies. I must do as my lord ashkhan says. So ask your questions, and I will test you."

 

I nodded, not particularly like Nibani calling me "hard-headed" and "ignorant." But I decided to ignore it; she had a lot to tell me.

 

"What can you tell me about the Nerevarine Prophecy?" I asked.

 

Nibani coughed. "There are many Nerevarine prophecies, Ulina Therayn, and they suggest many things. Aspect and uncertain parents. The moon-and-star. Sleepers. Seven curses. The curses' bane. The prophecy of the Stranger. The prophecy of the Seven Visions. The lost prophecies…"

 

Aspect and uncertain parents? As soon as I heard those words, I was no longer listening.

 

"What can you tell me about uncertain parents?" I asked.

 

Nibani raised her eyebrows. "Tell me, Ulina...do you know who your parents are?" Nibani asked.

 

That really depends, I thought.

 

"No," I said. "I thought I did, but not anymore."

 

Nibani nodded.

 

"If what you say is true, you are indeed born on a certain day of uncertain parents," Nibani Maesa said. "This is part of the prophecy. But many have the same birthday, and many are not sure of their parents. It is interesting. But it does not make you the Nerevarine."

 

"Then how do I know if I pass the test?" I asked. I really wanted to get this over and done with as soon as possible.

 

"You are not the Nerevarine, Ulina Therayn," Nibani Maesa said. There was no emotion in her voice as she said those words. I hated that. "You are one who may become the Nerevarine. It is a puzzle, and a hard one. But you have found some of the pieces, and you may find more.

 

"Do you choose to be the Nerevarine?" She asked. I didn't answer. "Then seek the lost prophecies among the Dissident priests of the Temple. Find the lost prophecies, bring them to me, and I will be your guide."

 

The then passed me a copy of The Stranger and The Seven Vision. I had never read the latter, and made a mental not to do so later.

 

"Here," she said, "take these copies of the Stranger and the Seven Visions. Now, I have told you all I know. Go. Think on what I've told you. And do what must be done."

 

She turned towards Julan, who by the looks of things, was listening pretty intently.

 

"You look like someone I once knew," she said, "A bit like Mashti Kaushibael, in fact…"

 

Julan looked up.

 

"Mashti? She's my mother," He said. "You knew her?"

 

"Oh, yes," Nibani replied, smiling. "I heard she had run away and married an Ahemmusa man. Is she still with them?"

***

 

"She never told me she married," Julan said. "I mean, maybe she spread a rumor so she could get away but -"

 

"We'll talk to her later," I promised. I was curious as to why Mashti hadn't been entirely honest with Julan, so I did want to ask the Ahemmusa. "At least that thing back there with the Nerevarine prophecies are over and done with."

 

"Yeah, I forgot!" Julan said. "Nibani said you weren't the Nerevarine! So can we go back to adventuring now?"

 

"She said that I wasn't the Nerevarine, but that I might become the Nerevarine. Strange..." I said, my voice drifting off as I said so.

 

Julan put a hand on my shoulder. "That doesn't mean anything, Ulina," he said, "It's the way the prophecies work – anyone who fits the description could be the Incarnate in theory, but only one person will achieve it. That why we have failed Incarnates. It's like what the Stranger says; 'Many fall but one remains.'"

 

"But I'm curious now, Julan," I confessed, "I kinda want to seek out the lost prophecies."

 

"But they probably don't even exist!" He said, irritation creeping into his voice. I ignored it.

 

"Fine," I said, "We'll go back to adventuring. But I think I ought to return this report to Caius first."

 

"Sure, but we won't get back to Balmora tonight," Julan said. "Let's teleport to my mother's using our rings.

 

I nodded. Now that I thought about it, I was tired and needed to rest. The guest yurt at Mashti's was almost welcoming.

 

 

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