Shizzal Awakens

Two more Elder Scrolls characters introduced today: Shizzal the Outlander and Drai the Ashlander. You might remember this pair from the introduction for “Of Fire Ants and Hooms“. This new series, which I’m titling “Lives of the Saints” for reasons of my own, gives more background into how these two characters met and why they became so important to each other over the course of their adventures.

The ordering of the scenes in this series proved problematic, as they were interwoven with roleplay plots from the Elder Scrolls Online that spanned a few years. Some of the details of those plots are now lost to time, and so I’ve condensed those scenes down to be more relevant to Shizzal and Drai’s storyline.

Author’s Note

“Don’t move!”

This was it, Shizzal thought groggily, as consciousness returned. The voice sounded pissed, and by long experience Shizzal knew pissed voices often came with pointy things meant for painful poking, too.

“Mmph?” he said. He meant it to come out as a greeting or a question, but he found he was having trouble speaking. Come to think of it, he wasn’t sure why he was down on the ground with his eyes closed in the first place.

“Mmmmmph?” He asked the voice for an explanation, but it just repeated itself, more sharply.

“Don’t move!”

Something smacked him, a warning. It woke up firecrackers of pain all down his left side, and Shizzal bit back a scream.

“Mmph!” he told the voice reproachfully, but it didn’t answer. What felt like an eternity passed, and he could hear nothing else but the soft sigh of wind and the baited breath of his cranky comrade. The wind smelled of choking ash, so at least that gave him a clue as to where he was. Still in Morrowind, apparently.

He was about to prod the voice for more information, when whoever-it-was abruptly stood up and crunched off. Shizzal found he was having trouble rolling over to follow–not that he particularly wanted to with his side on fire–and waited doggedly for the voice to return.

The footsteps crunched back, and something wonderfully soothing and cool was slapped on his side. Shizzal found he could breathe more easily, and perhaps even talk.

“You’re lucky to be alive,” came the voice at last. It still whispered, but the tone was less tense. The words were heavily accented, as if spoken by someone who was not used to speaking Common. “Pack of nixhound has passed us by. We stay quiet, maybe they stay away.”

“It stings,” Shizzal said with a hiss as the ministering hands with their salve returned, probing deeper into his hurt. Fire radiated up his arm and down his leg, across his face. What had happened? He couldn’t remember anything.

“Of course it stings,” came the snapped reply. “You’re half dead.”

“Half-dead is half-alive,” Shizzal remarked. He peeled open his eyes, or one of them anyway. The other refused to obey him for some reason. The face of a heavily tattooed Dunmer swam into view.

“Hey…hey…you’re one of my people,” said Shizzal in surprise.

The Dunmer looked at him, nonplussed.

“I mean Dark Elf,” said Shizzal with an effort. “Dun–dunmer? That’s the right name for us, isn’t it?”

The Dunmer just continued to stare at him. He finished tying off Shizzal’s bandages with a snap and then moved out of sight again, muttering to himself. Shizzal thought he caught the words “fire” and “addled”, but he wasn’t sure.

His left eye still wouldn’t open. Shizzal gingerly touched his face and found the reason; he was heavily bandaged. He traced the overlapping strips down his chest, down his side, as far as he could without sitting up or bending. “What happened to me?” he asked.

“Stupid outlander,” came the other Dunmer’s voice. “You poke around steam vent, you get face full of the fire. What were you thinking?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never been here before. I don’t even know — what’s a steam vent?”

The other didn’t fill him in. Shizzal thought that awfully rude. He turned his head to squint at the Dunmer, but couldn’t see past the bandages on his face.”I was born outside of Morrowind, okay? I just…I wanted to visit. That’s all.”

“You’ve visited. Now you can leave.”

“Hey, don’t be that way. Why are you so hostile?”

That at least, got an answer. “Many times outlanders means bad for my people. Who says you will be any different?”

“I’d like to think I can say so, but we’ve just met and all, so I don’t really know.” Shizzal experimentally clenched the fingers on his left side. It felt like sticking his hand in a jar of ice water and holding it there for ten minutes, but at least everything still worked. “I…well, it’s awkward saying all this, you being a stranger, and my face really hurts. But I never actually knew my parents, you see? I was raised by men — Redguards, you call them. And I wanted to know more about where I came from. That’s it. Honest. I don’t mean you any harm. I’m kinda at your mercy anyway, being… well, like this.”

The other Dunmer appeared in his view again, stern face made more frightening by the black tattoos and the claw earrings dangling by his cheekbones. He finally seemed to make up his mind and offered his arm to help Shizzal sit up, all without saying a word. Shizzal thanked him profusely for his assistance, but the Dunmer just shook his head with a frown.

“Talk less, then maybe face hurt less. Now eat.” He offered a plateful of something Shizzal couldn’t identify, but thinking it best not to offend his host any more than necessary, Shizzal choked the goo down. It didn’t taste half bad, and reminded him of cheese.

“Do I ever get to know your name?” asked Shizzal after finishing his meal. “Here, look, I’ll make it easy! My name’s Shizzal Asurani. Easy, right? Now, what’s yours?”

The Dunmer stared at him until Shizzal had to resist squirming with awkwardness.

“Drai,” said the Dunmer finally, and he quirked an eyebrow, as if in amusement. But before Shizzal could make good on their overture of friendship, Drai abruptly got up and retreated across the camp. He said nothing else the rest of the evening despite Shizzal’s prods, and eventually, Shizzal gave up. He slipped into an uneasy sleep, and had nightmares of hounds and fire.

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