|Posted on June 20, 2014 at 8:25 PM|
The Ahemmusa celebrated that night with Julan being the guest of honor. I was happy to see him accepted among his people again, and even happier to see him declared "a great ashkhan." Shani and I laughed when Julan blushed at the remark.
"A great ashkhan?" He asked. "Me?"
"Sure," Shani replied with an eyeroll, while eating through her roasted kwama egg. "Well, I think - at the very least - you'd vie for the most obnoxious."
I scoffed and shook my head.
Julan and I stayed the night at the Ahemmusa camp in the now unoccupied Ashkhan's yurt, then made our way to Mashti's in the morning. I watched while Julan and Mashti hugged and Mashti burst into tears again. Then, to my great surprise, she hugged me.
Then, Julan and I sat by the beach, contemplating what I had to do next now that I was the Nerevarine.
"I need to talk to the Great House counselors," I said. "Who's nearest?"
"The Telvanni," Julan replied with a grimace. "I used to spend a great deal of time in Vos. Tel Vos isn't too far away and apparently Aryon lives there. Perhaps you'd best start there?"
I grimaced then too. I remembered Tel Fyr - the only Telvanni tower I had set foot in so far - and it wasn't the most pleasant I remembered.
A familiar voice shouted from across the beach, and I turned to see Shani, running towards us. Her red hair wasn't in long braids, instead it was left to hang loose over her shoulders and to blow in the wind. She was also wearing a dress. <i>Shani? In a dress?</i>
"I've been looking all over for you," she remarked.
"Is something wrong?" Julan asked.
Shani shook her head and turned to Julan.
"No. Sinnammu just told me to let you know that if you have any obligations to Ulina, she can watch the tribe for awhile longer. And also…" Shani glanced at me. "...I have something to ask."
"Shoot," I said.
"I was wondering if maybe...I can go with you?" Shani asked. "I mean, I'm not as good a warrior as you or Julan, but I just want to see more of Vvardenfell. Mamaea taught me some recall spells and Sinnammu made a ring just like yours and Julan's! Just in case."
I exchanged looks with Julan, who shrugged; it would be entirely up to me.
"We're going to Tel Vos first," I said. "Coming?"
Tel Vos was the only Telvanni tower nearby that wasn't on it's own island, and was surrounded by the grazelands. The tower itself was a hybrid of a traditional fort and a Telvanni tower. I asked the guard for the quickest way to see Aryon, but the only way to do so was to levitate to the top of the mushroom tower.
Aryon was sitting down at a large desk and inspecting an old looking book, until we came in and he looked up, with raised eyebrows.
"And you are?" He asked in an aggravated tone of voice. I cleared my throat and tried my best to look calm.
"I'm Ulina Therayn. These are my companions, Julan and Shani," I nodded towards Julan and Shani, who were also doing their best to remain calm.
"Oh, yes," he nodded. "You're the Outlander that claims to be the Nerevarine."
I was shocked, then tried to wrap my head around the fact that someone knew I was pursuing the prophecies. I hadn't told anyone. How did Aryon know?
I showed Aryon the Moon and Star ring on my finger. "I came to ask how a Hortator is chosen, sera."
Aryon quickly explained that all the counsellors would have to agree, and then he told me about the other counsellors of House Telvanni. I listened attentively when it came to Neloth, Dratha and Therana, but Gothren had me worried.
"Archmagister Gothren never directly refuses requests; he just delays indefinitely, never giving an answer," Aryon explained. "I don't know of any solution, other than killing Gothren."
I choked, and heard Shani do the same. Julan snorted, and then muttered, "you're kidding me," under his breath.
"Certainly not," Aryon said to him. "In House Telvanni, it's perfectly normal to settle disputes in this manner."
"Because that's normal," Shani muttered in response. Aryon pointedly ignored her.
"I'll tell you plainly, Therayn; I stand to gain if Archmagister Gothren dies," Aryon said. "I say this so you won't think I'm trying to trick you. My advice is still good. Gothren won't name you Hortator, but he'll never come out and say so. And as I said, in House Telvanni it is customary to settle disputes in this manner."
I sighed and made way to leave Tel Vos with Julan and Shani trailing along behind me.
Tel Naga - Neloth's tower - was placed slap bang in the middle of Sadrith Mora. That meant walking through the Mushroom City again. The past few times I had passed through this city, the only place I had been was Wolverine Hall. Outlanders were not allowed to pass though most of the city without special papers. I purchased these and then left Shani and Julan at Wolverine Hall. They were playing a game of cards. I thought it best that I dealt with Neloth alone.
Neloth was sitting at the top of his tower, drinking what I thought was a cup of tea, and reading a book. But then he looked up and saw me. He scowled.
"Whatever you want, Outlander, the answer is no. Now get out of my sight," he snapped, then turned away and began to sip from his cup again.
"Please, sera," I began, trying to keep my cool. After all, he had just insulted me. "I just wanted to ask you to give me your vote for Hortator."
Neloth looked as if he was about to spit out his tea. "Hortator? War leader of House Telvanni? Is that necessary?"
"With deepest respect, yes it is. Dagoth Ur and his minions have -"
"Why doesn't anyone tell me about these things?" Neloth interjected. He had obviously not paid any attention to my last few words. He gave me an irritated look. "So. Do you want the job? Are you qualified?"
"Good," He snapped. "Then go ahead. I really don't care. Be the Hortator. Just go away."
I turned around and started to float back downstairs. Now there's one person I can live with never seeing again.
The next two counselors were Dratha and Therana. Dratha was easy enough to convince; I was a woman. Therana, required distractions - a magic trick from Julan was good enough to get her attention - before all three of us made our to Tel Aruhn to see Gothren.
"I heard rumors that this guy spends a great deal of time around Daedra," Julan told us.
Shani turned towards me.
"And you're actually going to go see him?" She asked.
I nodded solemnly. "I don't have much choice, Sha."
Julan was right; Gothren was a tall Dunmer man wearing the standard Telvanni robes and beside him were two Dremora, who were staring at all three of us suspiciously, their red eyes boring into me. I shuddered.
"What do you want, Outlander?" Gothren demanded. I turned towards Julan and Shani, who shrugged.
"I have come to ask you about you giving me your vote for Hortator," I said calmly. Gothren scowled, but I chose to ignore it as I told my story. When I was finished, he scowled even more.
"No," he said.
I sighed. "Please consider it, sera."
"I wasn't finished, Outlander," Gothren said. "I was going to tell you to wait. Let me think... Yes. I understand perfectly. Your story makes sense. Your proofs are persuasive... But a decision on such a remarkable matter is a grave responsibility, and not to be taken in haste. I will need some time to reflect and consider, and to confer with the other Telvanni counselors."
"I already talked to them," I told him. "They gave me their votes. Why can't you?"
Gothren's expression was livid.
"I suppose I'll have to explain. Or you'll just keep annoying me," he sighed. "I have no intention of naming you Hortator of House Telvanni."
This wasn't a big surprise to me; Aryon had warned me this would happen.
"S'wit," Julan muttered.
"...It is not in Telvanni interests to name an unknown and unreliable outlander and outsider to such an important position, Therayn," Gothren continued. "My opinion will not change. If you persist in bothering me, you will regret it. This discussion is ov -"
All of a sudden, a fire started in the middle of the room. The Dremora looked over at me and Julan and unsheathed their swords. Julan started casting ice spells at them and I started hitting the Dremora with my new glass sword. Shani was nowhere in sight. I hoped she was OK. I accidentally hit Gothren, but he healed himself and then fell down the stairs. I heard a crack, and then saw Gothren's corpse on the floor.
Shani then reappeared with a huge grin on her face.
"Where were you?" I asked.
"I cast an invisibility spell," she said. "And then started the fire."
"Thank you," I said.
"Er, guys," Julan said, then pointed towards the Telvanni guards that were floating upwards towards us. "I think we need to get out of here. Now."
Before Shani and I could say a word, Julan grabbed onto our arms and then teleported us back to Ahemmusa camp.
I returned to Tel Vos the next morning alone, and Aryon greeted me by handing me a pink and yellow robe.
"It's called the 'Robe of the Hortator,'" he began It is an ancient artifact, and hasn't been used in centuries. But I think you'll be pleased."
"I see you've gathered the votes of all the surviving Telvanni councilors. That means you are now the Hortator of House Telvanni. Congratulations. I wish you luck, Hortator. I may even pray for you."
"Thank you," I said to him.
"And thank you," Aryon replied.
"I think we should stay out of the cities for now," Julan said as all three of us sat on the beach, watching a group of Ahemmusa warriors cross the water nearby. "I mean, that thing with the Telvanni was a bit much. Maybe we should try talking to the other Ashlander camps first? Oh, and Ulina," he said.
I raised my eyebrows. "Yes?"
"I hereby declare you Nerevarine of the Ahemmusa. Sorry I forgot to name you earlier. You can ask Sinnammu for the Madstone later."
So we stayed there as Shani told us about the warriors who were going to clear out Ald Daedroth of Sheogorath worshippers so they could stay there until the blight cleared off. And the next day, we went to see the Urshilaku. I didn't have to do anything there but sit and listen attentively to Sul-Senipul, who gave me 'counsel' before he named me Nerevarine.
Then, then next nearest place was Zainab camp. The area nearby looked much like the Ahemmusa camp. I took a deep breath, then opened the door to the Ashkhan's yurt.