Rihad's Necromancer

Rihad's Necromancer

“Teach me.” Shari's request caught me off guard. Out of everything she could have said, through panting breaths she managed those words- words that I was not ready to hear.

“Teach you what?” I asked, trying to play dumb for as long as I was able. I too was out of breath from running, seeking refuge under a wide oak tree. I leaned against it for support, shutting my eyes so I didn't have to see her pouting lips. She was a clever girl though. She knew I wasn't an idiot, that I knew exactly what she was talking about.

“That spell, Felix. Teach me that spell.” Her demands were only bolstered by her actions. That fact that she could still stand and strike up conversation despite sprinting for such a long distance was a testament to her wonder and intrigue.

Still, I scoffed in response, feeling a smile pull on my thin lips. “I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about. I didn't use a-”

Shari growled lowly. I opened my eyes just in time to see a boot flying at me. I ducked, looking at her in confusion. She continued, her brow furrowed in frustration, “I'm not crazy! I saw you raise him from the dead! Teach me!”

She was referring to the bandit I had slain and then expertly resurrected. I didn't do it often and never had I done it around her. It was a spell I held in reserves for the most desperate of situations. When we were attacked by seven highwaymen, I knew we stood no chance. We had nothing of value on us so I knew they would want her. It was a risk I wasn't willing to take. It took two spells- one fireball to kill their leader, one Conjuration spell to raise him. It bought us enough time to outrun them, but I knew when we stopped, she would have questions. It was inevitable.

My plan to ignore her as long as possible fell through. She was intrigued and nothing I could do would sate her mind until she had the answers. She would just get more and more annoyed with me, and I would rather deal with fifteen Dremora than a single angry Redguard. I drew a deep breath as I sat the rest of the way on the ground. “It's necromancy,” I began, “and it's illegal. Well, maybe not illegal? I know people don't like it.”

“We aren't exactly living within the law now, are we?” Shari crossed her arms across her chest, staring down at me. I saw a spark in those vibrant green eyes that would not be contained. I tried to avoid her gaze, but the contrast between them and her dark skin and hair drew me in. I blame them, those Oblivion-condemned eyes, for getting me into trouble all the time. With one look, that woman could melt me and make me cave to her every command. At that moment, she was begging for something I wasn't ready to give.

“No,” I started, choosing my words carefully to get my point across. “I have been studying since were were children. I know all sorts of magic, but Conjuration... I've only gotten control of it in the last four years alone.”

“Right before we left home,” Shari murmured in understanding. The look on her face changed from annoyance to homesickness. For three years, we had been running from the Dominion. We traveled from our home in Rihad across Cyrodiil, parts of Morrowind, and finally landed in Skyrim. She hated it. Walking miles everyday and sleeping on the cold ground would never compare to living in her family's mansion and looking out the window to the endless sea. I hated it too. Not because I missed the life of a noble but because she was so miserable.

I forced a small smile, attempting to console her. “We'll be home before you know it,” I told her. “Your family will send someone to get you as soon as they drive those elves out.”

“Unless they're dead.” The bluntness of her words caught me off guard. I could see in her expression it hurt to say, but she had accepted it as a truth. “We're wandering around aimlessly now, just trying to avoid being tracked by Dominion Assassins. There's no home anymore, Felix. This is our life now.”

A heavy sigh left my lips as I watched her. She saw beauty in all things, her positivity being the one thing that kept me going most days. Yet, the situation in Hammerfell and not knowing whether or not her family would ever want her home broke her spirits every time she thought about it. “You have to keep hope,” I told her, adding more confidently, “I will get you home regardless of how long it takes.” She stared at me, unconvinced. “If you're right and if home is gone, I'll just make you a new home. It will be just as nice as Rihad. You'll have a mansion, horses, a sea to look out on-”

“You're going to make me a sea?”

I saw her smile return at the audacity of the statement. I grinned widely, nodding and placing a hand over my heart as a promise.“Of course I will! I'm a mage, by the Eight! I will flood the entirety of Skyrim if it keeps you happy!” She rolled her eyes, carefully sitting down in front of me. I wrapped my hands around her as she leaned back against me. “I just can't let you go back just yet. Not until we know it's safe.”

She hummed, “I know. I'll try to stay content for awhile longer.” As I shut my eyes, Shari giggled softly. “You would have made an excellent politician if you went back to Cyrodiil. It must run in your Imperial blood.” I smirked until she continued, “But, I still want to know that spell.”

“I'm not going to teach you something you aren't ready for,” I told her with certainty. “You don't even know basic magic. I would have to teach you common spells, probably some Destruction and Restoration, before I even think about teaching you Conjuration.”

“So, you're willing?” I opened my eyes to find her grinning up at me. I stuttered for words as she stated, “It's not like we have somewhere to be. Teach me the basics and if I fail, I won't bother you anymore about it. If I don't, you have to teach me to resurrect things.”

I huffed in frustration. “Why would you even want to know? Why would it benefit you?”

She smiled sweetly, “So if you die on me, I can bring you back.”

“That's not ho-” I started to argue with her, but I realized very quickly how fruitless it was. She was determined. Her reasoning was as good-natured as any, even if her logic wasn't sound. If she wanted to be a mage, it was better that I teach her than her if she were to try to learn on her own. “Alright. I'll teach you very, very basic spells. If you can't master them, I'm not moving on.”

The Redguard smiled widely, leaning up and kissing my lips quickly. “Thank you. I won't let you down.”

She started to rise, but I hugged her tighter. “Not now.” I smiled softly as she looked at me for an explanation. “Right now, I want to sit here and rest awhile. Fighting those bandits took a lot out of me. Besides, you're warm.” She mused at my laziness and got comfortable on my chest once again.

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

In the weeks that followed, I taught her every basic spell I knew. Shari, to my displeasure, was the most magically attuned Redguard I had ever encountered`. Healing spells and wards came natural to her. She hated frost spells, but her mastery of flames was stunning. She had difficulty with Illusion spells and only learned some Alteration, but I couldn't have asked for a better student. Magnus himself would have been envious.

Regardless of the strides she made, I was still reluctant to begin teaching Conjuration. Out of all the schools of magic, I saw that one as the most dangerous. I made sure to stress that to her often, but I don't think she believed me. It was apparent one morning when I woke to find her already up and moving. A fire was crackling, sending smells of cherry wood and smoking meat in my direction. She sat with her back to me, reading a book I had left out, “The Summonings of Dremora and Atronachs”.

I frowned as I sat up, making my way over and taking the book from her hands. She scoffed at me, mumbling, “Well good morning to you too, my love.”

“I said I would teach you,” I grumbled, closing the book and sliding it back in my bag.

She nodded. “You did, and I trust you will. I was just reading ahead. I wouldn't have tried it without you.” She had me settled in her gaze for a long moment before she asked, “You don't want to teach me, do you?” My expression must have been too easy for her to read.

I drew a deep breath as I sat back down beside her. “No.” When she didn't respond, I continued, “It's not because I don't think you're ready. It's because I know it's dangerous. I don't want you getting hurt if I can prevent it.”

“What if you can't prevent it?” she asked me softly. Her arm looped around mine as her head leaned against my shoulder. “You won't always be there, you know.”

Her statement caught me off-guard. I hadn't considered the possibility that I could fall someday and she would be all alone. Thinking about it actually made me shutter. I didn't doubt Shari could handle herself. She was cunning and skilled. She could survive alone. The thought that bothered me was her being so overwhelmed that she stood no chance. Summoning or raising an ally would, at the very least, give her more even odds. I groaned softly as I answered her, “I know I won't. I'm just... I'm protective. These kind of spells can kill you if you aren't careful.”

“Which is why I want to do them with you.” She knew what her smile did to me, yet she showed no mercy when she gazed into my eyes. “You'll keep me safe.”

With a sigh, I finally gave in to her. “Yeah. I'll keep you safe.” She giggled softly as I stood up and offered her my hand. “Let's try one before we pack up camp. These are probably best cast away from towns anyway.”

Shari took my hand, excitedly getting to her feet. She walked behind me as we left the camp, playing with my waist-length hair and chattering about spells she had learned before. She was far more fevered than I had been to learn magic in a long while. When I was a boy, I shared that love. As I grew older and her family required my services, it changed from a passion to a chore, however. I was grateful that she would never have to feel that way.

When we were a safe distance from the camp, I told her, “I'll summon a Flame Atronach and then I'll let you try. Your affinity with flame spells might make it easier on you.” I looked around for a spot to cast the spell before directing her, “Stay behind me until I tell you it's safe.”

She nodded, stepping away from me but keeping directly behind. I waited until she had put a sizable distance between us before readying the spell. I cast it on a stone nearby, and within seconds saw the fiery body emerge from a rift in the ground. The Atronach raised her hand to cast a spell at any enemies she saw, but seeing none, lowered it again. She looked at me to give her an order. Pleased, I motioned Shari over.

The Redguard was in awe, her smile wide and bright as she cautiously approached. I felt her hand take mine as she exclaimed, “She's beautiful!”

The Atronach looked at her, taking in the words for a moment. She gave a slight nod, turning a graceful flip as if to showcase her beauty. Shari giggled, unable to pull her gaze away from my golem for several moments. In fact, she only looked away when I told her, “You can try to summon your own now. You read the spell, so I'm going to stand by and watch.”

She finally nodded to me, ever so excited to charge up the spell. I directed my Atronach out of the way before moving myself. When we were safely withdrawn, the woman drew a deep breath and cast the spell onto the ground ahead of her. The pathway split as another rift opened, spitting flames from the depths. It took just a moment from another Atronach to rise from it, closing the rift behind it. Her hand raised to attack as she too looked around for danger. Shari gasped in amazement, “I did it.” She turned to look at me with a wide smile, “I did it!”

I chuckled to myself, feeling a sense of pride swell up in my chest. “Great job!” I shared her excitement for a moment or two, my eyes looking past her to see the Atronach. The feeling faded as I realized something was off. The Atronach's fire fizzled and sparked. Her hand remained upwards to attack. She continued searching and searching for an enemy, and finding none, her red-hot gaze fell on Shari.

I wasted no time in rushing to the Redguard, throwing up a ward just in time to deflect a fireball from the Atronach. The explosion on the shield knocked us both to the ground, but prevented fatal injury. I shouted to my own Atronach, “Kill it!” She rushed to the other, engaging her in fiery combat, buying us both time to get back to our feet.

Shari was shaking and on the verge of tears. “What's going on? What did I do?” She looked past me at the feral golem as it sent attack after attack towards my Atronach. I couldn't answer, too busy keeping myself between her and the raging daedra. From the attacks, I knew my own creature would fall at any moment. In anticipation, I readied a spell in my left hand, still trying to keep up the ward in my right.

As soon as she fell, I let loose an ice spike, hurling it at the remaining Atronach. The spike sank deep into her chest. Her flames fizzled a couple more seconds completely diminishing. The rift that brought her into the world swallowed her back up before closing and sending flames in all directions. My ward was enough to protect us and the small patch of grass beneath my feet.

I felt Shari's shivering hand on my back as I lowered my ward. “I'm sorry,” she whispered. “I don't know what I did.” I turned to face her, my eyes scanning over her for injury or burn. Luckily, only the ends of her scarf seemed to be singed. She seemed to be more injured emotionally. She continued to whisper her apologies to me as she looked around at the damage her Atronach caused. It wasn't the worst I've seen, but the rogue daedra didn't hold back.

Satisfied that she wasn't too badly injured, I decided to stop her apologies. I wrapped her up in my arms, planting a kiss on her forehead. “It wasn't your fault,” I told her, offering a soft smile as I continued. “I told you, Conjuration took me years to master. I would be more upset if you got it right the first time.” She didn't respond to my jest. Instead, she just looked down at the ground to avoid my gaze- something that was very unlike her. “You didn't do anything wrong, I promise. You just aren't attuned enough to get one under your control. We'll try again later if you like, maybe with something else.”

“No,” she told me, shaking her head. “I think I'm done with magic for awhile.” She gave me a halfhearted smile as she started walking back towards the camp. “I don't want to mess with something I can't control.”

There was a sharp pain in my chest. I hadn't realized how much I enjoyed teaching her until she didn't want to be taught anymore. I knew she could do it if she tried. I debated telling her how I tried to summon a Storm Atronach my first time and nearly killed myself. I doubted such a tale would boost her morale at that moment though. She was disappointed in herself, but mostly, she was terrified. I decided to let her calm a bit more before offering to try again. I hoped to the Eight she would want to give it one more try.

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

“Markarth's only a few miles down the road. How about we see about getting a blacksmith to repair your armor while you and I get some dinner, huh?” I was never one for conversation, but I tried more than ever before to get Shari to talk to me. She was more reserved than I had ever seen her. Rather than the young Redguard going on about everything she saw-be it butterfly or bear- I could scarcely get a reply from her. We didn't practice magic the afternoon of the Atronach mishap nor the day that followed. The third day I saw her using flames to start a campfire, but that was the only progress.

“I don't know if that's a good idea. Last time we came through, I felt like the guards were on to us.” Shari's reply was quiet, but I heard it just over the sound of the rustling grasses. She looked over her shoulder at me as she added, “I also don't like how close the city is to Hammerfell. The Dominion could be climbing through those mountains to invade at any moment.”

I hummed softly, almost disappointed with the response. “It's not like you to be so cautious. That's my job.” I heard a small scoff of amusement from her, which reassured me the old Shari was still there. “We don't have to go if you don't want to. We just haven't had a bit of fun in awhile.”

She turned to face me, smiling slightly. “No, we haven't. I think I'm just overly worried.” I nodded as she continued, “Let's go to Markarth. Enjoy our night, get some rations and repairs, drink some wine...” She smirked at me, “Let's hope they have some of the weaker stuff for you, since you can't handle the Nords' drinks.”

I pretended to be offended, crossing my arms over my chest childishly. “I wasn't that bad off! I still put up a fight!”

“You're right, my mistake,” she teased, walking away. “You did stay on your feet for a few seconds before that Orc knocked you on your rear.”

I growled playfully, “Is that so? I bet I could take you!” I quickened pace to catch her only to have her run a little faster. Her playful grin dared me to catch up to her, so I was obligated to try. Despite the stupidity of our game- two warriors frolicking in the meadows in a game of chase- I didn't feel a bit of shame. Shari was recovering and that's what I cared about. It didn't hurt that we were in the wilds of The Reach, far from the judgmental eyes of civilized man. She would run, hop, and leap across the rocks on the mountainside while I would try to follow her. She was far more athletic than I but not as cunning. I took the easier to follow deer trails to keep pace with her, letting her tire herself out.

She finally slowed when we reached the main road again, raising her hands above her head to catch her breath. I caught up, tackling her waist with a grin. “I can take you still! I'm not tired!”

She smiled as she took deep breaths. “Yeah, I believe you. Cheater.” Her eyes shifted past me as she looked further down the road. She lowered her voice as she muttered, “I think there's a patrol coming. We probably need to keep walking.” A little disappointed our game had to end so soon, I let her go. When she walked a little further ahead of me, I took a moment to look behind me as well. Three men were on mounts, heading our direction. Their pace was brisk, but nothing to cause alarm. Still, I followed suit and headed towards Markarth.

We kept a normal speed to avoid suspicion, but the riders were faster than we were. I heard them drawing close by the sound of idle chatter. “I hate this frozen backside of Oblivion. This is supposed to be one of the warmer areas and it's still cold.” The female voice caused me to go on edge. It was distinctly Altmer. I kept my eyes ahead and could see Shari tense up as well. She kept walking, but slowed a little to get closer to me.

“How much farther is the city anyways? Are we lost?” A second voice chimed in, seeming to be just as annoyed as the female.

Finally, their leader answered, “I don't know. I'd have a better idea if one of you morons didn't lose our map!” He scoffed slightly before calling out, “Hey, you two!” Shari winced slightly but I encouraged her to keep walking. Still, the elf insisted, “Imperial! I command you to stop.”

I was slightly relieved that he didn't outright know who we were. I grabbed Shari's hand, ushering her behind me as I turned to face him. “Yes, sir?” I asked, as politely as I could muster. I thought if I didn't give him a reason to investigate, he would leave. The Justiciar and his two guards rode past us, barring the path with their horses. I inquired further, “Is there something we can do for you three?”

The Justiciar stared at me with a frown. “Yes, there is. We seem to have misplaced our map.”

“Ah,” I stated, trying to sound as though I too was a moron who forgot his map. “My apologies, but I don't have mine on me either. Might I point you in the right direction though? I've traveled these roads since I was a boy.” I could feel Shari tense again, and shifted my gaze to the two guards. One of them was staring her down while the other whispered incoherently. I couldn't stop my tongue from muttering, “My wife is a bit shy, forgive her. I know she's a beauty, but she's taken.” I smiled at them as I told the not-so-funny joke, and the female elf returned the smirk. Still, her male counterpart wasn't convinced.

The Justiciar scoffed slightly. “My associates are free to look at whoever they like. Now, point me in the direction to Markarth.”

I could free a burning anger bubbling in my chest, but I kept it suppressed. I gave a fake smile and pointed down the road, but in the opposite direction. “You must have passed it somewhere. We're nearly to Falkreath now.”

He looked annoyed, but the Altmer turned his horse anyways. “Fine. You are free to carry on.” He started walking away. The other two followed, so Shari and I wasted no time in going as well. I put my arm around her protectively as my eyes lingered on the Altmer. The look he gave us let me know we weren't fooling him. As he caught up to his leader, I ushered the Redguard away, wanting desperately to put distance between the two. It was disheartening when I heard the head Thalmor shout, “Wait!”

He trotted his horse towards us again, his associated in tow. He eyed us with suspicion, his eyes scanning our forms. I tried to distract him with my fake, eager-to-please dialogue, “Yes? Did you come back to thank us? There's really no need for that.”

“Do you have documents with your names on them?” He asked, just as arrogant as before. “Letters? A deed to your home? A contract?”

I hesitated to answer, trying to think of an appropriate response. “I'm afraid not. We were just coming back from a camping trip. I wouldn't need that stuff on me.”

“A camping trip?” His eyes scanned us once more. “Yet your 'wife' found it appropriate to wear armor and bring weaponry?” I took looked over Shari's lightly armored body.

“The Wilds are harsh for the unprepared,” I told him, spinning a lie to cover my previous one. “Even hunters have their own forms of protection. She relies on her weaponry, I rely on my spells.” The response didn't seem to sate him as he turned to one of the guards. The guard gave a faint grin, making my stomach knot in anticipation. “Is something wrong?” I asked in a final attempt to plead innocence.

The elf pulled out a piece of paper and unfolded it. He cleared his throat before asking, “Shari al-Tarin? Felix Norillus?” Our faces must have faltered just enough to cause his accomplices to grin. He continued, reading from the page. “'The Redguard woman, Shari al-Tarin, has fled Rihad before she could be taken into custody. Her family claims she escaped with the aid of Imperial Felix Norillus. Recent reports have placed them seeking refuge in Skyrim. The two must be brought back to Hammerfell to meet the justice of the Thalmor.' By the authority of the Aldermi Dominion, we place you both under arrest. We cannot confirm, but you'll confess soon enough.”

Shari grabbed my hand tighter as the two guards climbed off their horses to approach us. I whispered softly, “Ward.” She looked at me as I whispered again, more desperately, “Ward up!” She understood and no sooner did she release my hand to raise a ward did I let loose a fireball directly between the two elves. The blast did little damage, but shook them up enough to give us the advantage. The horses panicked, throwing off the Justiciar before charging down the road towards Markarth.

Under the protection of her ward, Shari drew her blade. The Redguard rushed to engage the Justiciar who was struggling to get to his feet, leaving me to contend with the other two Altmer. They relied heavily on their swords for attacks and only used weak spells. I used it to my advantage, keeping my distance and using my vast knowledge of ranged magic. I held my own awhile until I could feel the magicka reserves running low. In desperation, I waited until one got closer to use a final advanced spell. The male guard charged at me, raising the sword over his head to cut me down. As he made the fluid motion, I fired a large ice spike directly into his chest. Unprotected, the spike pierced the armor and stuck out the back, ensuring his quick death.

His companion seemed shaken at the sight, so I put my attention on the Justiciar and Shari for a moment. She couldn't get close enough to him due to his intense spells. She raised a ward just in time to block them, but I knew she wouldn't be able to do it forever. I wondered why she didn't use the other spells I had taught her, but then it occurred to me. She was still terrified. She didn't want to risk hurting me. I felt like shouting at her to retaliate, but I didn't want to risk distracting her. Instead, I looked at the dead elf. I knew I had enough magicka to raise him, and I knew she needed the help. I was hesitant, though. I felt like it was raising that first bandit in front of her that caused our problems. I felt responsible for the situation.

In my reluctance, the female elf regained her senses again. She charged at me, catching me off guard and getting too close to avoid the hit. I raised my hand to block the hit, crying in pain as the sword split open my palm and part of my forearm. No longer able to use magic in that hand, I desperately tried to put distance between us with weaker spells. The elf took the hits, rage driving her to finish her attack despite her injuries. She raised her arm, striking me in the face with her elbow. Taking full advantage of my dazed state, she charged into me with all her remaining strength.

I slammed into the ground hard enough to knock the air from my lungs. I couldn't breath, but it wasn't from the impact. The female's sword was plunged deep into my chest, causing an ever growing puddle to soak the earth around me. She was singed and bleeding, but the elf managed to stand and pull the sword from my dying body. She scoffed before turning to face Shari and the Justiciar.

I tried to raise my head to see her, gasping and crying out warnings. I told her to run several times. The look she gave me... It was the most pain filled I had ever seen. She was crying, but I could tell she had made up her mind. She wouldn't run. She needed to save me. As the elves closed in on her, she dropped her sword and charged a spell in both hands. She cast it right at their feet.

I watched as they screamed in fear. The ground split open, widening more as not an Atronach arose, but a Dremora Lord. The daedra breathed deeply before cracking a wide grin and charging at the two elves in front of him. As he engaged, Shari ran to me, tears streaming down her face. She kept apologizing over and over as she pulled back my shirt to look at my wound. Her hands trembled as she placed them over the wound, casting a spell to heal me with what remaining magic she had. I gasped as I felt my lungs able to take in air again. The momentary relief wouldn't last long, but I used those moments to whisper words to calm her down.

Beyond her, I saw the Dremora Lord making sport of the elves. The female, he merely cleaved in half when she got too close. The Justiciar put up more of a fight as he attempted to wear Shari's summoned creature down with his spells. In the end, it was a pointless fight. The Dremora Lord drove his greatsword all the way through the unarmored elf, ensuring no chance of survival. As he finished, he scanned the area for more enemies, his eyes resting on us.

He started walking towards us and I desperately tried to sit up. My magicka reserves were steadily replenishing, but I stood no chance against him. Shari rose to her feet, readying a fireball spell. Her voice trembled with fear as she called out, “I summoned you! You have to listen to me!” When he didn't stop walking, she commanded, “Stop!”

For a moment, the daedra halted, putting the blade over his armored shoulder. The grin on his face told me he was not under anyone's control however. I tried to conjure a spell to banish him, but the reserves were too low. He taunted, “I am commanded by no one. Not the greatest of sorcerers, and not by some trembling girl.” He chuckled deeply, the noise an echo of his immortal presence. He continued approaching again, gripping the greatsword in one hand- a testament to his strength.

Shari hit him with the strongest spells she could muster, but they only slowed him. She backed towards me, keeping herself between the beast and I as she used every ounce of magicka to destroy him. I desperately tried to summon a spell myself dreading each second that passed like an hour until he finally reached us.

As he raised his sword to strike her down, the faint hum of a spell buzzed in my hand. The banishing spell was all I could think to cast. I fired it at the Dremora Lord as he brought down the blade, catching him in a rift of my own to drag him back into the Oblivion he came from. I felt exhaustion as my magicka reserves emptied entirely. My head fell back against the ground again as I had no more strength to keep it up. My eyes closed as I tried to breathe, the effects of Shari's healing magic fading as the puddle beneath me grew larger. I whispered softly, “We did it... Are you hurt?”

“No.” The reply was short enough to cause concern. When I looked towards her, Shari was leaning against a stone in front of me, hunched over and clutching her stomach. Despite her efforts, blood poured from the slice across her midsection. Tears streamed from her face though she tried to keep from looking at me. I saw her sway slightly before giving out completely, her body laying flat on the stone.

With strength I didn't know I possessed, I forced myself to crawl over to her, trying to examine the cut. The daedra's strength sliced clean through her light armored stomach. It was... the worst I had ever seen. I tried to heal her, but not even a hint of a spell would leave my fingertips. I whimpered though my own tears, “Heal yourself. Now.”

She gulped, still avoiding my gaze, “I can't... I have no magicka left either...” We sat in silence as we realized neither one of us would survive the fight. She winced as she tried to move, finally shaking her head as she gave up. “I'm sorry. I couldn't let you die. I didn't know-”

“Stop,” I told her, shaking my head. I laid myself down beside her, holding my cries of pain as I did so. “I... I'm proud of you. You're the best student I've ever had.”

“I'm the only student... you've ever had...” I forced a smile as she looked at me. Shari laughed weakly, before pain caused her to stop. She looked up at the sky before shutting her eyes. She reached out her hand towards me and whispered, “Can you hold me? I don't want to die alone, Felix.”

I drew a deep breath as I adjusted myself, one hand on my chest, the other around her. “You aren't alone. I'll never leave you alone. If we go to Aetherius, we go together.” She looked up at me with pain filled eyes. I smiled weakly before kissing her forehead. As evening turned to night before our very eyes, we welcomed the relief that came with sleep.

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

I awoke to find myself on a stone bed in a dimly lit room. I was sore and weak, but I clearly showed signs of being alive. I lifted one of my hands in the air to make sure I was still in control of my body. The split from the Dominion guard's sword was scarred but healed. For a moment, I enjoyed the pain of living, but my next thoughts were on Shari.

“You're awake!” A little girl's voice cried, I turned in time to see her dart out of the room running to the next part of the house. “He's awake Mama!”

I winced as I forced myself to sit up on the bed and look around. From the design and decor, I could tell I was in the presence of an Alchemist, but I had no idea the reason. I didn't feel any more comforted when the little girl returned, yapping as little girls do. She was only silenced when her mother came in, fussing at her to leave me alone. I almost thanked her. Instead, I asked, “Where am I?”

“Markarth, dear. My husband brought you here after he found you. You are safe, mind you, from those Thalmor. We won't tell them you survived.” The young mother was kind, from what I could tell, and she seemed generous with her information. I reasoned she hadn't harvested my organs for some potion, so I at least owed her some trust.

“Shari... Where is Shari?” The alchemist tilted her head at the name, to which I continued, “The woman I was with. Where did she go?”

“Ah...” She nodded in understanding. “She... She didn't make it, dear. The Priestesses tried everything they could for her, but she didn't survive. I'm surprised you did, honestly-” She continued on, I assume trying to make me feel better, but nothing could help the emptiness that filled my chest. I would have traded my soul for hers. If it had to be one of us to survive, it should have been her.

I don't remember much of what happened that day, or for weeks after for that matter. I know at some point I went to the Hall of Dead to retrieve her body. I know I meticulously preserved it to keep her as beautiful as the day I lost her. I remember finding her a grave perfectly safe from weather and scavengers. That was all I remember. I'm sure I spent nights getting drunk and days looking for something to keep me distracted. Nothing worked though. I felt empty. And it all started with raising the dead...

Raising the dead. The thought occurred to me at some point that I could bring her back. If we already knew of spells that could bring someone back to life for a short while, I imagined it wasn't a far stretch to say I could bring her back forever. After weeks of feeling absolute nothingness, I had a purpose. The pursuit was maddening. What could I do differently? Were there spells I had yet to master? Was there some form of soul trapping I could perform? Could some potion breathe life into her form? I didn't know the answers, but I knew I would never know skulking around. From that moment, I've spent every septim I earned and every second I lived devoted to bringing her back to me. It's been nearly a decade, but I'll give decades more to her. Shari deserves it. I will be Rihad's greatest Necromancer, if only to see her smile one last time.

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  • I can’t wait to dive into this after work. The best content seems to always drop in the middle of work. 

    • I like to wait until you're at your busiest. Haha. 

      No, I'm just glad you're looking forward to it! I hope it doesn't disappoint!

  • Let me just bluntly copy the feedback I gave on the Tel Mora Discord. :D

    This was an exhilarating read, honestly. I have no complaints save for minor spelling errors here and there. I say: proofread one or two more times to iron out the thing and you've got a perfect story on your hands that should be published more widely.
    I really loved the dynamic between the protagonists and the fight near the end had just enough tension and suspense to keep me at the edge of my seat. Moreover, you made me like the characters in such a short amount of time which is commendable, to say the least.
    Great job!

    I would love to read more of Felix. How his loss breaks him and how his life gets torn apart, saved only by this faint glimmer of hope. I'm rather curious to what lengths he'll go.

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