It was several days after the ancestor summoning rituals in Othrenis. Shizzal paced about the upper ring of the library, and when he was thrown from the library, he paced about the lower rooms, peeking into the jail cells and jangling the locks thoughtfully, before he was shooed out the Temple entirely by a suspicious Ordinator.
A priestess stopped him by the door, however. “You seem restless, Brother Shizzal. Is something the matter?”
Shizzal stared at her long and hard before answering. “I summoned an ancestor for Drethas the other day.”
“Ah,” said the priestess. “We are blessed to able to speak with our loved ones, even past the grave.”
“I’m not so sure Drethas would agree.” Shizzal smiled faintly, and it didn’t last long. He looked down at his palm, tracing a line across it. “But it doesn’t work if you do it to yourself, does it?”
“No,” said the priestess, now with a faint frown. “One needs a priest to be able to maintain the spirit’s connection to our world. You would not be able to channel your energy and speak with an ancestor at the same time.”
Shizzal looked past her, not answering.
“Was there an ancestor you wished to speak to, Brother?” pressed the priestess.
“Hm? Oh, no…I was just wondering…”
The priestess raised her eyebrows at him, and Shizzal realized his evasiveness wouldn’t work on her. “Well, maybe,” he said, and felt his cheeks grow uncomfortably hot. “I’ve always wondered about my parents, you see. Never knew them. But…it can wait…”
The priestess smiled, taking his hand. “Come,” she said. “One should know one’s heritage.”
“Remember that it is the pain that draws them forth,” said the priestess, pressing the cold blade against Shizzal’s palm. “Do you know who you wish to summon?”
Shizzal mumbled something, and tucked his chin uncomfortably. The priestess smiled knowingly, nodding. “Good. Keep a firm image of them in your mind. While the intended ancestor does not always answer our call, it encourages the proper matching.” She then drew the dagger along his palm in one swift stroke. Shizzal hissed in pain, and turned his hand so his blood dripped into the waiting urn on the Temple floor.
The priestess’ eyes rolled up in her head as she channeled her energy into the manifesting spirit. Shizzal swallowed, wondering if he had looked similarly creepy when he had been performing the same ritual for Drethas. A lump growing in his throat, he waited silently for his ancestor spirit to appear.
The image of a Dunmer slowly swam into view. His head was half-shaved, a shock of red hair swept sideways in a rakish mohawk. Baubles of bone and gold dangled from both ears and nose, and the mer’s chest, arms, and face were heavily tattooed in fanciful swirls of ocean waves and coastal scenery.
“Damn, but that’s a funny feeling,” exclaimed the Dunmer as soon as he was fully formed, and his accent was out of Morrowind. “Why is it so gods-damned cold here?”
“Dad,” said Shizzal and self-consciously put a hand to his mouth.
The tattooed Dunmer spied him and grinned until his eyes went squinty. “Oh, ho! I wondered when I’d get around to hearing from you. Took your damn sweet time about it, though. Heh. Blessed Daedra, you should see the look on your face. Priceless.”
Shizzal just stared. The spirit rolled his eyes at him.
“Yep, I’m dead. You get over it.”
“How long?” asked Shizzal. He could think of nothing else to say; all his charisma had deserted him.
“Hells if I know. A few years, maybe more. You tend to lose count, you know.” The Dunmer squinted at him. “Eh…must be more like twenty. You’re all grown.”
Questions started pouring into Shizzal’s mind, but he couldn’t force them past the lump in his throat. Instead he stood still, hand still at his mouth, probably looking all the world like a fool, he thought.
“Oh, come on,” growled his father, but there was a friendly tone to his bluster. “Nidalave didn’t pop you out so you could stand there looking like a sun-blinded silt strider. Did you call me for something specific or did you just want to take a peek?”
“Nidalave’s my mother?” Shizzal choked out.
“Yep,” said the spirit with a wide smile. “Beautiful lass. Keep thinking she’s going to join me here, but bless her heart if she still keeps a hair ahead of the navy.” The spirit laughed, and then squinted at him. “Why? Haven’t you met?”
Shizzal could only manage to shake his head.
His father’s face clouded. “Hmph! Damn Hasami played his cards well, I see. Blasted fool, but never if I met another pirate like him.”
Shizzal tensed, straightening up. “Hasami? You knew Hasami?”
“Surely you should know by now your old man’s a privateer,” said the spirit, splaying his hands so Shizzal could see the collection of rings on them. “Kept a trophy for every merchant lord I shanked,” he explained, twiddling his fingers. “What d’you think?”
Shizzal didn’t answer. The spirit wrinkled his nose and folded his hands again, twisting a plain golden ring speculatively. Shizzal recognized it for a wedding band. ” ‘Course, not that I ever did get that damn Hasami. We did a few heists together, then I left him to settle down with your mother. Took his haul for a dowry and a little extra. Don’t think he particularly liked that.” The spirit smirked, but when he looked at Shizzal, some of the bluster faded. ” ‘Course, wouldn’t have done it if I knew it’d cost me my son in the end.”
Shizzal made a soft noise. The priestess suddenly stirred, gasping, and she muttered something under her breath. The spirit turned his head to her speculatively.
“Eh, but I’d better get going. Little more time and this ol’ wench will be all used up.” He looked back to Shizzal and smiled. “Catch you later, kiddo. Just try to make it a whole lot later, eh? Be a damned shame if you were to join me too early.”
“Sure,” said Shizzal hurriedly. “Sure, I mean, whatever–“
The spirit grinned. “Stupid little fetcher. Take care, kid.” And with a wink to Shizzal, he faded away.
The priestess came back to herself, and she studied Shizzal while Shizzal studied the floor.
“Was it everything you expected?” the priestess finally asked.
“No,” said Shizzal. His eyes were drawn to the Triolith standing a few feet away, the emblem of Sotha Sil facing him. “Well…maybe,” he finished quietly.