I’ve thought about starting a journal for a while, but I never could find the inspiration; but my sister Kaawenyth told me once that I shouldn’t need inspiration for a journal. Just write what I think and feel. I replied that I’ve never been a big thinker or feeler, and she just laughed and said I was lying to myself. I guess she’s right. I mean, I’ve had the same lover since I was a child, and I’ve read every book in the Library of Elden Root—okay, not every book, but a lot of them. Mum and Da always stressed that it was just as important to be well read as it was to be good with a blade and a bow. I just never thought much about it. I guess I learned and just didn’t realize it. Huh.
Anyway, Kaawen also said that I should start my journal by recording my backstory. Like anybody will ever read it but me! But she said I should treat the journal like a friend, like I was talking to it. Only then could I really open up and use it for what it was intended: to sort out my thoughts and feelings. Again with the thoughts and feelings! Maybe she’s onto something here.
Okay, then, here goes. Hello, Journal, I’m Gwenyth Nightvale. Nice to meet you. I’m sixty-eight years old, Bosmer, with ash-silver hair and green eyes. I grew up in Elden Root, in a large double treehouse in the shadow of one of the tree’s great roots. My parents are Vinedusk Rangers and part of King Camoran’s personal guard. My brother Oranil is a ranger too, although he’s stationed at Cormount. He’s married to Jana. My other brothers, Tavan and Angor, and Kaawen are traveling Tamriel, like me. Kaawen recently got married, to an Altmer, no less, named Betath. Then there’s Rai. We’ve been in love since we were twelve, and he’s lived with us since we were fifteen when his parents were killed in combat. Is that enough, you think?
Oh, and Rai doesn’t travel Tamriel with me. While I have this terrible curiosity and have always felt this burning need to roam, he’s more of a homebody. I’ve been all over Valenwood, Elsweyr, and part of the Summerset Isles. I’ve even ventured into Cyrodiil once or twice. Rai works as a mercenary, often doing jobs as an envoy for the Silvenar and Green Lady, so he has traveled, but not nearly as much as I have. We’ve always been faithful to each other (at least he has as far as I know), but we only see each other five or six times a year. He, more than the family, is what keeps me going back to Elden Root as often as I do. Even not seeing him every day, he sustains me. I literally think I would die without him.
Okay, that’s enough for one night. Now you know me, Journal, so let’s fill you up with all sorts of adventures.
* * *
Will I ever learn? Eh, probably not. One of these days, my curiosity is going to get me killed. But damn it, portals don’t just open up in front of a person for no reason. I probably should have taken it on faith that this portal was not meant for me, but I stepped through anyway, and here I am, freezing my arse off among hundreds of Daedra. Coldharbour. And the portal has closed behind me. I’m an idiot.
* * *
I’ve tried for days—maybe a week—to find a way out of Coldharbour, but I’m stuck here. Thank Y’ffre I was brought up in a family of fighters, or I would be dead by now, dinner to some random Clannfear. And I can hunt, so I could survive here indefinitely if some Daedra doesn’t kill me first. Banekin, little demons, actually don’t taste all that bad. But I refuse to eat scuttlers. They’re just too cute to kill. They look like little frogs with no front legs. And they don’t jump; they just scuttle. I’d love to have one as a pet, hehe.
Today I really thought my time had come, though. I had just snagged a banekin and was sitting by the fire, skinning it and getting ready to put it on a spit when a twig snapped behind me. I turned to find a Dremora standing there, grinning, his black teeth glistening in the firelight.
“What have we here, little one?” he sneered.
I was on my feet in an instant, my daggers at the ready. I wasn’t about to trade insults with a Dremora, so I just waited for the assault. He flung a spell at me, the one with the purple and black mist that does some unidentifiable magic damage, and though I tried to duck beneath it, I still felt this incredible pain through my head. I shrugged it off as best I could and tackled him. He dug his claws into my shoulders and turned me over, pinning me to the ground. Gods, his breath was putrid. There must have been some sort of poison in his claws because a burning like none I’d ever known immediately began to crawl down my arms, as though they were on fire. I thrust one of my blades into his abdomen, but he simply snarled and readied one of his claws above me. He was aiming to tear my throat out, I could just tell. Or maybe he was going to cast some sort of spell to incapacitate me and take me back to his lair, where he would commit all sorts of atrocities. We couldn’t have stayed like that more than two seconds; it’s amazing the things that can go through your mind in two seconds.
All of a sudden, the Dremora was bathed in a devastating blast of flame and instantly incinerated. What was amazing was how controlled the blast was. The flames didn’t go beyond him, and though I felt the heat, I wasn’t burned. When the ash that was once the Daedra had cleared, I saw somebody standing behind it, an Altmer with a friendly smile. He was good looking, with dark, shoulder-length hair and the scruff of a beard, as though he hadn’t shaven in a few days. He had a strong nose and warm, gold eyes. There was one staff in his hand and another strapped to his back. He reached out his hand to help me up. His hand was nowhere near as warm as his eyes, but I took it anyway and let him pull me to my feet. He was so tall! I’m short for a Bosmer, and I think he must be tall for an Altmer because I only came about halfway up his chest.
“Close call, eh?” he asked.
“Aye. Thanks for that.”
“Hold your arms out.”
I did so, and he switched staves and waved the new one over my arms. With a golden glow and a cool tingling, my arms were healed. I sighed with relief.
“Thanks for that too”
“You’re welcome. I noticed you when you came in the other day. You’ve done well for yourself.”
“You could have helped me before now, you know.”
“You didn’t need it before now. I must admit, I’ve never eaten Banekin, but it seems to have sustained you well enough.”
I shrugged. “I just wish the water tasted better. It’s so beautiful, but it tastes like sulfur.”
With a chuckle, he said, “I don’t drink the water, either.”
Something about his eyes changed, and they suddenly bled to red. The gold had been a glamour, and he dropped it to reveal his nature. He was a vampire.
I yanked my hand back and started to scramble away, but he chuckled softly.
“I assure you, little one, I mean you no harm.”
Why is it always little one? Everybody calls me that.
“You have nothing to fear from the vampires here,” he continued.
“Any of them?” I asked with raised eyebrows.
“None of them. In fact, it is my intention to take you home and offer you some protection from the rest of the creatures of Coldharbour. Until we can find a way to send you home, that is.”
Was he kidding? Maybe instead of the Dremora, he was the one who planned on committing all sorts of atrocities. I shook my head slowly. “I don’t think so.”
He shrugged. “Hopefully you will change your mind. Until then, I will keep a watchful eye on you from a distance as I have these last days.” He nodded goodbye and left my campsite.
A vampire! And he had helped me! And wanted to continue to do so. It should have creeped me out that he said he was going to keep an eye on me, but as bizarre as it sounds, the thought was actually comforting.
I’ve always found vampirism rather seductive. Something about the bite, the exchange of blood, even to kill or feed, seemed so intimate to me. It’s like killing an animal with a dagger. It’s up close and personal, and there’s a distinct relationship between predator and prey. Now here is my opportunity to ask some questions. I wouldn’t even know where to start!
But how in Y’ffre’s name can I trust him? I’ve known him for like five minutes, and he didn’t even tell me his name. Though his actions today went against everything I’ve ever known about vampires, I have to be cautious. I’m all alone here.
Alone. And I’m really feeling it tonight. Goodnight, Rai, wherever you are. I love you. I wonder if I’ll ever see you again.