I hate the Thalmor. I could not say this sentence aloud, but I felt it with every bone in my body.
In Summerset, we were not allowed to speak any opinion against the Thalmor. If one were caught doing so, he would be taken away and never heard from again. One day, during a lecture at my school of magic, the professor simply made a joke about the high and mighty attitude of the Thalmor. Before the end of the lecture, two Thalmor Justiciars interrupted class and escorted the professor out of the room. The new professor was not as funny.
I grew up in Sunhold of the Summerset Isles, the beautiful southern port city. I lived a reserved life for the greater part of my childhood and adolescence. If I had expressed myself, passion might have overtaken me. My parents shared my views and were the ones who raised me to realize the difference between truth and propaganda. We even have books that were smuggled in by my great grandparents, who bought them from pirates. These books told stories of the great legends of Tamriel, the histories of the Empire, and even a guide about the Psijic Order. If these books were found by the Aldmeri Dominion, my entire family would be executed.
I am running late for class. I was absorbed, once again, in the pages of “The Old Ways,” the book about the Psijic Order. Without thinking, I quickly put the book in my bag and ran to class. Running as fast as I can, I arrive to campus and someone walks directly in my path.
Everything in my bag falls out and spreads across the pathway. I see – everyone sees – “The Old Ways.”
I immediately squat down to pick everything up, but it is too late. The one I ran into was none other than a Thalmor Justiciar.
The act of colliding alone was enough to be out-casted. However, he saw what everyone else saw; he saw the book that I was carrying.
The Justiciar called out to the other guards and tried grabbing me by the arm. I ducked out of the way, casted fury on a couple of fourth year mages, and escaped through the chaos. I fled into an alleyway, ran through a bustling market, and approached the docks. I ran to the first ship I could see, and I hid below deck among some barrels and goat cheese. I fell asleep.
I awoke softly to the boat rocking on top of the water. I overheard people talking above deck.
“Did you hear about that mage that got caught with that Psijic Order book?”
“I did! I guess he won’t be seen again.”
The first elf chuckled. “Apparently, his parents were captured, and their house was cleaned out and put up for sale.”
Oh, shit. What have I done? If I had simply put the book away before running to class, they would still be okay. Now, I am in an unknown ship among the barrels of cherries and stacks of goat cheese.
Days pass, and we have stopped moving. I hear the familiar sounds of a harbor, people bustling along the streets, and gulls cawing aloud. I sneak toward a small window, and I see a port town with a huge temple adorning the skyline. I overhear that this town is called Anvil. As the crew finished porting, I slipped away unnoticed.
I adorned my hood to hide my ears, in case the Thalmor decided to come looking for me. I wandered around the town, trying to understand where I am. I looked across the way and I see more Thalmor patrolling the streets. I start walking away quickly, my heart pounding out of my chest. I turn many corners and back alleys until I nearly run into a horse-drawn carriage. A tall, burly Nord looks down at me from the carriage seat.
“You seem lost. Can I help you get to where you’re goin’,” the carriage driver asked.
“Honestly, I am. What country is this?”
He replied, “This is Cyrodil of course!”
“How far will this take me away from here?” I handed him my coin purse.
After counting the pile of coins, he replied, “I can take you to Bruma if you’d like. Hop in the back and we’ll get goin’.”
I climb in the carriage, and we start riding across Cyrodil. The ride is long, bumpy, and gets colder the further north we go.
After hours of silence, the driver glances back at me and asks, “If I may ask, who and where are you runnin’ from?”
I sit in silence for a minute, pondering on whether I should give this information away. This Nord seems friendly, and I understand the relationship between the Thalmor and Nords aren’t exactly the most respectful.
“I am from the Summerset Isles, and I’m evading the Thalmor.”
“You’re a high elf? Haven’t seen many of your kind around here who are not associated with the Thalmor, let alone running from them.”
I nod as I return to my thoughts. I was unable to obtain my bag of notes and books when I escaped, so now I only have the robe on my back and hood on my head. At least I was able to memorize a few spells before fleeing. Night fell, so I laid on the bench of the carriage and drifted off to sleep.
I awoke to the banging of a fist against the carriage.
“We’ve arrived! You must have had a busy few days with the amount of time you were asleep,” exclaimed the carriage driver.
I sit up to see a sprawling city made of stone with a temple scraping the sky. Imperial guards patrol the streets calmly, yet routinely. There is not a Thalmor in sight. I exit the carriage, say goodbye to the carriage driver, and make my way through the city. I stop at one of the market stalls to buy some food. I reach into my pocket and I realize that I had given all I had to the carriage driver.
I look around the marketplace where people are hustling and bustling. There is a diverse group of people. Most of the vendors are Khajiit and Argonian, and a Nord bard was playing her flute by the fountain. I scanned the marketplace once more, and I found an old Altmer woman sitting on the side of the road. She was holding an empty coin purse, staring aimlessly in front of her.
I walked over to the Altmer woman and knelt down next to her.
“Could you spare a septim, please?” the woman asked with a raspy voice.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but I have no coin. Is there any other way I could help?”
She turned her face in my direction. I noticed that her eyes are clouded with a milky, white color. She’s blind.
“I can tell by your voice that you are an Altmer,” the woman said. “But you are so kind. You aren’t part of the Thalmor, are you?”
“I am not. My family raised me to know the truth of the Thalmor, and I have grown to hate them.”
“Altmer are not welcomed in this place with open arms,” the woman explained. “Generations of the Thalmor rule have lead the common folk around here to become very skeptical and slow to trust of our kind. If you want a chance at starting a new life, go to Skyrim.”
I had always dreamt of going to Skyrim. The Psijic Order had created a college there after the Mage Guild was created.
“Thank you,” I said to the woman. “Is there anything I can do for you?”
“Do good and renew the reputation of our kind,” the woman requested. “Cross the Pale Pass, and you will reach Skyrim.” She pointed toward a range of mountains.
I nod earnestly, and I walk steadily to the mountains. I pull my hood tightly over my head as I pass guards along the road. After walking for a bit, the evening approaches and many lanterns light up within the city. I see a small, open gate with a road winding between two of the mountains and I start on my journey to Skyrim.
This journey was long, tiring, and dangerous. I came across many wolves, skeevers, and a bear! Having not eaten anything in days, I was starving. I managed to find some berries along the way along with some charred skeever. The wind was cold and snow was blowing down from the sides of the mountains. This is going to be a long journey.
After three tireless days and three restless nights, I arrived in Skyrim. As soon as I left the path, I heard a deafening explosion. I’ve heard nothing like that before. I look back toward the mountains, and I saw tons and tons of snow flooding the valley. My eyes widened as soon as I saw that the snow was rushing out away from the valley and toward where I was standing. I sprinted as fast as I could while the snow chased me. Just as I was running out of breath, the snow stopped and rested.
Exhausted and light-headed, I made my way up the path on which I was walking. Then, all of a sudden, a man on a horse rushed past me while screaming at me. Just as he had barely missed me, an arrow came from a distant hill and shot the horse down. The man flew forward as the horse fell, yet still breathing when he hit the ground. Immediately afterwards, I heard yelling and swords clashing. I looked to my right and I see two groups of soldiers fighting each other. I stumble over toward them, hoping for someone to assist me. However, as soon as I approach them, my body collapses underneath me. The last thing I remember is seeing my robe being ripped to shreds. Tears fill my eyes as they softly close.
I wake up, hands bound at the wrists. I was sitting in a cart among a group of two soldiers and the man that almost ran me over with his horse.
“Hey, you! You’re finally awake,” exclaims the lean Nord soldier sitting in front of me.
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