Hey everyone! So today was filled with health weirdness. drug weirdness, and weirdness in general. I did not get to follow through on the stream, I didn’t get to help someone with a project. But I got some stuff out of storage, my mother got an offer for the full $500k on her house after a week on the market, holy crap, um, and the rest of the day has mostly been sleeping thanks to a horrid drug regimen.
But early this morning, and between obligations and doses of Valium that put me to sleep for hours on end, I wrote this little quickie. Tauryon is a character people are curious about, so this is a bit of his history, sans Celedaen/Rei. Please forgive the wonkiness of the timeline. Timelines and me are bad at the best of times, but when they use irregular numbering it’s even more confusing to me. So. Please forgive Tauryon’s age being just a smidge off.
Also be warned, in the words of Neko Case: “It’s a weeper.”
Celedaen – Rei Ginsei, I suppose, is more accurate these days, but he will always be Celedaen to me – was the first and, for the longest time, only person I ever could say that I’d fallen in love with. Or even lust. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference even now, they’re both so strong and infuriatingly adept at disguise. That might seem strange for a being as long lived as mer are. Certainly I took some comely lads to bed and let myself be taken by others, but love? It just never came up.
Until one day. This was after the rebellion had succeeded, you understand. I and the other founding members of what is now the current iteration of the Thalmor had gained proper control of Alinor, and the purge was just beginning. I was old, then. Much too old. I’d begun my beauty regimen, shall we say, a long, long time ago, and back then one couldn’t even see the crow’s feet that had been forming a couple centuries before.
There was a boy in Skywatch. Well. A “boy”. He was all of thirty-three. Unmarried, much to his parents’ chagrin. He was common, and you could tell by his features. Mer like me, we keep our bloodlines as pure as we can to maintain connection with our ancestors. We maintain rather sharp features, wide-apart, upturned eyes…features that, if I’m being brutally honest, can get out of hand quite easily if one isn’t careful to whom they entrust their reproductive tools. I feel I tread that line; my tree is, shall we say, a bit naked.
But this boy had lovely, soft cheeks and big, darling eyes that were so green they were very nearly blue. He was tall and thin, with blue-black hair that just couldn’t be kept out of his face. And his smile! Gods help me.
I’d met him during the inquisition period. Unbelievers weren’t being purged quite yet, but it was mine and other higher-ranking officials’ duty to pay visits to those we suspected of faithlessness. To take notes. This family, by the name Loraen, was suspected and named by another family in the city (one quickly marked for “follow-up” based on their erratic and panicked behavior), and so I one day knocked on their door in the poorer quarter of the city.
The trick to this sort of thing is to feign cordiality and to ease into the important business organically. One catches more flies with honey than vinegar, you see. I was invited in by the lady of the house and offered tea and cakes she had baked just that morning. I was, to be honest, quite sick of tea and cakes, but that was part of the job, and so I happily accepted the invitation. We spoke of the weather and the general state of things, breaking the ice before I broached the topic of the Thalmor, the Aldmeri Dominion, the Empire’s rule.
And then he came downstairs, stopping my heart all at once.
“And who is this?” I asked.
“My lord, this is my son, Aicanath,” his mother answered, holding out her arm and nodding quickly to get him to join us. “He’s so very loyal to the cause.”
“What a welcome bit of news,” I said.
Aicanath locked eyes with me and smiled nervously.
“If he’s loyal enough, perhaps he should join our ranks? Young blood is very welcome.”
“I-” he stammered around his nervous smile, “well, I-“
“I’m hardly a recruiter,” I smiled. “Think about it, son. There’s time yet.”
A few more words were exchanged, and, satisfied my hostess was telling the truth and was up to snuff, I left the house, burning a small eagle into the doorframe, the Aldmeri insignia, signaling that they had been visited and that they had been, for the moment, deemed sympathetic.
Before I got too far down the street, though-
“Sir?” a voice called. “Mister, wait, please!”
I turned to see Aicanath chasing after me.
I had to stop my heart fluttering, had to swallow while I found my voice. “Yes, lad?”
“I’m sorry, but…that is…I had to see you.”
“I saw you and I suddenly felt like I would die if I never saw you again. That’s stupid, I know, but-“
“It’s not stupid,” I smiled. “I know just what you mean.”
I nodded. “But I’m far too old for a lovely young man such as yourself.”
“How old are you?”
“Three hundred and fifty-two.”
“Gosh, but you only look a hundred, at most.”
“I’ve been blessed, I suppose,” I lied.
“But I don’t care, sir.”
I smiled and sighed, reaching out a gloved hand to stroke his cheek. “Come, then, let us find someplace hidden. We will kiss, and we will see how you feel.”
Aicanath smiled broadly and ran towards an alleyway and behind a windowless warehouse.
When I caught up with him, we kissed immediately and hard. My hands were in his hair, his hands sliding up my chest. I pulled his head to one side to kiss his neck and bite his ear, from lobe to tip.
“I don’t know your name,” he gasped.
“Tauryon,” I said quietly. “Call me Tauryon.”
“That’s lovely. Oh, Tauryon, I’m so hard.”
“And what shall we do about that, Aicanath?” I asked, backing him up properly against the wall.
“I-I don’t know,” he stammered. “I’ve never even kissed anyone until now.”
“I never wanted to until now.”
“I’m honored,” I said. “But what would make you feel good, Aicanath? What would make you explode?”
“I read books, you know,” he said. “Not proper books with bindings, things people sell in secret. Things with, you know, drawings.”
“Oh, yes?” I smiled.
He nodded quickly. “I wonder what it would be like if…if you were inside me. If you fucked me.”
“I think that can be arranged,” I said, kissing him again. I cupped his crotch in one hand and rubbed gently up and down.
He moaned hard.
He was worked up, the poor thing. Thirty years of no contact from another mer meant that, if I were properly attentive to his wishes, I’d have stopped. But I didn’t. His fingers grasped at the cloth of my great coat. The crotch of his pants were on fire with the heat of his need. I rubbed him just a few more times…
“Tauryon!” he gasped. “Oh, gods!”
“Good boy,” I whispered to him. “Come against me just like that. Let me feel you.”
Aicanath held me close as he shuddered and his hips bucked. The warmth of his seed seeped through the crude linen of his pants, such that I could feel it through my glove.
I caught him as his legs let go, and I pulled him to me. His arms were around my neck, his head just resting on the hollow of my throat. I was supremely happy just then. I’d helped the young man find release (albeit not in the way he’d wished), and now we were holding each other as if we’d been lovers for ages.
“I’m sorry, Tauryon,” he said. “I was just so excited…”
“Don’t apologize, dear one,” I said. “You had a very deep need.”
“I’ve never told a soul that I like other men.”
“You were awfully brave chasing me down.”
“There was just something in your eyes. Something that just knew and understood.”
I pulled back and looked into his, moving my thumb over a low, prominent cheekbone.
“You’ll have to leave here, I know, but-“
“Not to press the issue, but would you be willing to join us?”
“Yes, I would, and not just for you.”
“Do you know of the old College of Aldmeri Propriety?” I asked.
“It’s been renovated. That’s where new recruits are sent. If you wish to join, I’m stationed not too far away. I would visit you every chance I got. Obviously I would, even if you chose to stay here, but if you joined…”
“Yes,” he said. “Yes, I think now’s the time. Oh, gosh, is this happening?”
“I don’t know,” I grinned. “Is it?”
“I feel like I loved you the moment I saw you!”
“Oh, Aicanath, I feel much the same.”
He pressed his lips to mine, and as we kissed I let him unbuckle my belt and hastily unbutton the fly of my heavy uniform pants.
“I hope I do this right,” he said before dropping to his knees.
Warmth surrounded my cock then, and I felt the young man suck good and hard. He worked me like he’d been doing this his entire sexual life. His tongue slithered back and forth underneath, and he even managed to deep-throat me! I was lost in a very deep ecstasy. With one hand I leaned against the wall behind him, with the other I held his head as I fucked his mouth gently. I couldn’t help it, he was making me so desperate, but he took it in stride, and as his tongue flicked over my slit just one more time, I lost myself and blew my load down his throat, which, again, he swallowed with nary a protest, letting me empty myself completely.
“I wish I could take you home,” Aicanath said as he rose up to hold me and be held.
“As do I, darling. We really must be careful, though.”
“Because of our stations?” Aicanath asked. “I know nobles and commoners shouldn’t mingle, and certainly not if we’re-“
“No, no, it’s not that. It’s just that love at first sight is, many times, something of an illusion. It’s lust pretending to be love. It’s possible that’s the case here, and so we must be careful with each other.”
“I wouldn’t hurt you,” he said truthfully. “We’re adults, aren’t we? If it comes down to it, we can see our way towards ending this in a civil manner, right?”
“I hope so, darling,” I said, pushing his soft hair back. “In the meantime, regardless of what comes along, I love you.”
His face lit up brilliantly before he embraced me tightly. “I love you, too, Tauryon.”
And that was how we met, me and the man I still love more than anything else in this world. Sabrael and Celedaen may come close, and I’m happy to let them think that they’re the only loves in my life, but nobody shall ever replace my Aicanath.
He did, indeed, enroll in the academy, and he excelled in his loyalty exercises and in combat. He was a physical combatant; his skills concerning magicka were not developed, at all, and he couldn’t be allowed to join the battlemages, let alone the pure mages. But he was good at what he did. He swung his hammer like it was nothing, and he was quick and agile. Truly a sight to behold.
As promised, I visited him as frequently as I could, and in between visits we wrote letters. To this day, I have his tied up with twine in a box that I keep in a hope chest. Sometimes they would be somewhat scarlet. If they had ever been searched, I’m sure there was some poor elf that had gotten an eyeful. Stories of him tugging his cock to this or that, fantasies I’d paint in deep detail that would end with us making love freely and with no concern over echoing walls.
It was gorgeous. I was still in love with Celedaen, in my own way, but how wonderful it was to be able to express my love and to shower my beloved with praise and gifts! And to see his letters, always signed with “always yours, and no one else’s”.
We got married as soon as he graduated the academy. His parents weren’t thrilled because of his preference for men, and also because of the three hundred year age difference. The only upside, to them, was that I was from a prominent family and could take care of their son. And so it was a small ceremony, held on my family’s estate on the Big Island. Both families involved weren’t happy as they gathered in the meditation garden. Mine because I was marrying a commoner, his because he was marrying what amounted to an old man, no matter how young he looked. It was unbecoming.
I was certain there would be some grumbling on my side concerning my preferences (and if my parents had been alive, there surely would have been), but I think most of it was tempered by the notion that at least I couldn’t breed with this common filth. In the eyes of Mara, in any case, we were bound. He was a Camorin, whether anyone else liked it or not. My estate was his. My heart was his.
Anyone who knows their history knows of the rapacious nature of the Thalmor in the name of the Dominion. Alinor was first, as I mentioned earlier. When the purge came, it came hard. Non-believers in the cause were rounded up and slaughtered. Those who fled were murdered before they could reach whatever shore they saw as their exit.
On the mainland, we subjugated towns, cities, entire provinces, razing infrastructure, murdering men. This was our method, and it was working. Tiber Septim thought to keep us down with the Brass Golem, and now the Empire was having to contend with the wrath of an army the likes of which it had never seen. Many people – man and mer alike – tasted the steel of my blade and the machinations of flame and my alteration magicka. There were no prisoners back then. They were of no use to us. We had attempted negotiations, Mede I rebuffed them, and, for a time many of his subjects deemed far too long, he reaped what he had sown.
There were many, many bloody battles during that time. One which stands out in most people’s minds was deemed “The Night of Green Fire”. I was there. Aicanath was there. It was one of the most horrific incidents during the entirety of the war.
Refugees from Alinor had fled to Sentinel, which was the closest landfall they could reach safely. Many Altmer…many Bosmer and many Khaji’it among them…thought they could escape the Thalmor, but it was futile. We will always find our quarry, and in this case, our quarry huddled amidst buildings in that little port city known now as the “refugee quarter”.
As time wears on, people say the name “green fire” comes from the color of our skin. But the truth is far more terrible. Most of the flames were orange, this is true, but plenty were acid-green, sickly and blinding in their unnatural color. They were cast by, at the time, a rather young wizard by the name of Ondolemar. He was – is – gifted. Writing new spells isn’t easy, especially those he tends to come up with. His green flames eat through metal like acid. They drill through flesh and spread unceasingly, causing what I can only imagine pain worse than any normal fire could ever hope to inflict.
His flames dominated the night. It was, quite literally, green.
I did my part, of course. I cut down any Altmer who attempted to flee and burned any resident who dared rise up against us. My steed’s hooves broke skulls, and the righteous fury I felt was just as sublime and wondrous as ever.
When all was done, we regrouped just outside the city, and I noticed that, amongst the foot soldiers, I couldn’t see my husband.
“Aicanath!” I called above the other voices. “Aicanath, are you here? Answer me.”
There was no response. I rode over to our leader, Captain Arelewynn, who was surveying both our losses and the losses we left in our wake.
“Captain,” I said, “permission to return to search for Junior Lieutenant Camorin.”
“Absolutely not. Do you see those lights coming the opposite way? That’s the Legion, and we are in no shape to engage. We’re leaving soon.”
“Captain, he’s my husband, I-“
“I am well aware, Commander, but at the risk of sounding crass, you’re hardly the first person who’s lost a spouse in all this.”
My heart broke and my stomach tied itself in knots. My Aicanath, my beautiful young man, who had been with me, who had written me letters and loved me more than anyone ever had…
“Do what you will, Captain,” I said. “I’m going after him.”
“Commander Camorin!” he called after me as I goaded my steed into a gallop. “If you don’t turn back this second, it’ll be a cell for you!”
I didn’t care. I rode hard back down into the city where people still were running back and forth and into each other, until I reached the place where the refugees had been holed up and dismounted. Bodies were everywhere, and the stench of congealing blood and burned flesh filled the air. I stepped over each one as quickly as I could, not wanting to deal with the Legion any more than Arelewynn did, especially not alone.
I found, finally, a soldier who was lying face down. The back of his moonstone armor was almost completely eaten away, exposing burnt fabric and flesh so burnt I could see the white of his spine. There was no way to know, not right then; plenty of soldiers lay slain. Somehow I knew. I moved to turn them over and was met with a painful moan, so I carefully cradled their back where the armor was still intact. What I saw made my blood run cold and brought immediate tears to my eyes.
“Aicanath,” I breathed. His face was almost devoid of skin. One eyelid was mercifully fused shut, but the other bulged, naked, over an exposed cheekbone. The only way I knew it was him was the color of that one eye and what remained of his raven locks.
“Tauryon,” he wheezed. “I’m so happy you found me.”
“I’m going to take you back to the others, okay? You’re not going to die.”
“I can’t walk,” he said. “I can’t walk, and anything you do…is going to hurt.”
“No, Aicanath . Ondolemar can heal you. He’s the best we have. Please don’t leave me.”
Aicanath looked away. I wasn’t sure he could really see me, anyway. Being unable to blink that one eye undoubtedly made it too dry. His breathing was regular, but it was too forced.
“Come on,” I said. “I know it’ll hurt, but I need to pick you up and get you on Seabreeze.”
Aicanath didn’t say anything, but a weak, painful moan escaped his blackened lips as I lifted him from the ground. Getting him onto my horse was even worse, but I managed, and I rode hard back to our small cadre of soldiers.
“I hope you realize what you’ve done, Camorin,” the captain snapped. “I hope you realize the selfishness of your actions.”
“It can wait, Captain,” I said through my tears. “Do what you want with me after this but I need Ondolemar.”
“Are my ears burning?” I heard his familiar, obnoxious drawl.
“Ondolemar, my husband is badly wounded. I think one of your fire balls got him in the back.”
“Oh, what a shame,” he said. “Just as the other mortally wounded we had to leave behind.”
“Lieutenant!” I barked as Aicanath writhed weakly in my arms.”Heal this man, or-“
“You’re in no position to give ultimatums, Camorin,” the Captain warned. “Not after this. Lieutenant, since he’s here, you may as well heal this man. Especially if it was one of your projectiles that wounded him.”
“Fine, fine,” the hateful thing said as if he’d been told to empty his family’s trash bin, himself. “Lay him down.”
I did as I was told and laid my love down on the sand. His eye was staring blankly ahead, but he was breathing.
“I’m here, darling,” I said shakily. “I’m here and you’ll be all right, no matter what happens to me, you’ll be all right.”
“Out of the way,” Ondolemar said, emboldened by the captain’s admonishment to push around his commanding officer.
I watched as he put his hands together and closed his eyes. I waited, and I hoped. Ondolemar, for all his unsavory qualities, is a gifted mage in many ways, but he was yet honing certain skills, and there are some hurts that even the best healers can’t erase.
“His internal injuries are quite bad,” Ondolemar said, “and he has been some time without his skin. I doubt there’s much my powers can do.”
“Just try,” I pleaded.
He shrugged and laid his hands on Aicanath. His breathing deepend, and I smiled excitedly, but nothing else was happening. No new growth. Nothing.
“He’s breathing,” Ondolemar said. “But that’s all I can do. He’s too far gone.”
“Are you sure?”
“If you’re asking if I’m some incompetent-“
“That’s enough,” Arelewynn said. “Let’s leave Commander Camorin to mourn his loss. Five minutes and we leave.”
“Aicanath?” I ventured.
“Tauryon,” he answered with his new, but steadily slowing, breath. His eye moved in my direction, but this time, it was clear that he wasn’t seeing me. “Am…Is this it?”
“I fear it might be. But I’m taking you home. I’m taking you to our manse. You’ll breathe Alinor’s air. You’ll see its sun.”
“Or imagine it,” he laughed weakly. “I don’t care where we are, Tauryon, if I’m with you. How lucky we were to be kept together.”
“Very lucky. How could Auri-El let this happen?” I asked. “Centuries alone, and the one man I loved is…”
“It was crossfire,” He wheezed. “Bound to happen. It hurts, love.”
“One minute!” I heard the captain shout.
“Please let me go,” he asked softly. “I love you. I want to stay, but I can’t. If one of our best couldn’t heal me, there’s no hope. I can feel myself fading.”
I closed my eyes against the tears and laid myself across his ruined breastplate. “I love you, Aicanath,” I said. “I don’t want to let you go.”
“It hurts too much, Tauryon. Please?”
I looked him over. If Ondolemar, of all people, couldn’t save his skin or his eyesight or even permanently fix his lungs, what was there to do? I would love him, no matter what, but he would have to live his life this way, mangled and broken. Perhaps…
“Would you forgive me?” I asked.
“Of course I would,” Aicanath answered. I could hear the smile his lips couldn’t form. “I’ll be with you, Tauryon, don’t worry. I love you.”
“Camorin, if you’re not on your horse in fifteen seconds…”
“Please, just a moment,” I called back. Turning back to my husband, I said, “I love you, too. Nothing will ever be the same.”
“Just think of me,” he breathed weakly. “Always think of me. Of us.”
I closed my eyes and put my hands over his chest. What Ondolemar is to destruction and healing, I am to alteration, a deceptively versatile school that can be soothing just as easily as it can be terrible. I felt his time, his fading rhythm. I made it mine and took it into myself. I pictured his heart – his precious, precious heart – and I joined with its erratic beating. I breathed deeply, changing his breath with mine, and I saw his heart even out and slow. Slow, slow, slow.
His breathing made it seem as if he were sleeping.
Finally, it lost its inertia, and it stopped, and not long after, Aicanath was no longer responsive to the things that happened around him. I draped myself over him and cried. My world had come crashing down and ceased to be. That boy who had chased me down in the street, to whom I made love only moments later. The boy who loved me and chose to spend his yet long life with an ageing mer. Here he was, lying in the sand, his armor burnt through with acrid flames, his face nearly gone.
Happiness that I had never felt before slipped through my fingers in an instant, and only after a few years of bliss.
With a resigned sigh, I scooped up my husband in my arms and carried him to my horse where I slipped him in front of the saddle. When I mounted up, I moved him so that he was draped across my lap. I was empty inside. So many years spent prolonging my life, and now I couldn’t imagine why.
“To the ships!” Captain Arelewynn yelled. “Hurry, the Legion draws closer!”
I started to obey, but he held me back.
“Commander, the behavior you’ve displayed tonight was shameful. We’re returning to Auridon, and I will see to it you meet with the Lord and Lady. With any luck, they’ll kick you down to ensign and erase any knowledge of your hand in the rebellion from history.”
“Fine,” I said, goading my horse into a canter. “May the gods see fit to keep your wife safe and whole.”
I did, indeed, meet with the leaders of the council. I made my case. I didn’t plead for mercy. I asked that, if they found my actions to be selfish in the face of others who’d suffered losses that night, that they simply eradicate me, as it was clear that my loyalty to the Thalmor and the Dominion are not first and foremost.
They didn’t demote me. Actually, their sympathy was admirable, as I’d suspected it would be. They put me on furlough for three months to recover, but with a three-month prison sentence to follow. I had my precious Aicanath interred in the Camorin family tomb, in a spot just next to where I would rest beside my parents.
The furlough was possibly the cruelest part of my punishment. The lack of pay was nothing to the likes of me – the officers were all nobles, or else we’d barely be able to afford housing, the pay at the time was so abysmal across the board – but, at least for the first month and a half, I wouldn’t leave the mausoleum. The help, though clearly terrified, brought me food and drink, but I took none of it and repeatedly told them to cease trying. I simply leaned against Aicanath’s marble coffin, wondering just how many tears a man could shed before he would run out. Sometimes I would drape myself over it in some insane notion that the warmth of my living body would revive his.
I would pray. I would pray and pray. To Auri-El, at first, because who else would hear such a prayer? To Mara, then, when He wouldn’t answer. Then to Y’ffre, to Syrabane, and even Magnus. Nobody would hear me. Or they didn’t care. And why should they have? Some mortal cheating death himself through unholy means praying for the resurrection of a man brave enough to face his own mortality? It was preposterous, at best.
When that month-and-a-half passed, I was quite a bit thinner, weak, and disheveled. Without my daily rituals I had aged quite noticeably, but I had managed to muster the wherewithal to rise from my place beside Aicanath and leave the tomb. I wasn’t better. I didn’t have some grand notion or epiphany. It just seemed like enough. Like I had finally exhausted my options and my pleas, and it was simply time to leave his side.
Jail was where the healing really began. I shared a cell with an elf who had just discovered Trinimac. I’m sure you know what I mean by “discovered”; not so much found for the first time, but decided He was worth more than a second glance. Trinimac is the Aldmeri warrior-god, you see. He’s our symbol of strength and courage. The problem, though, is that Trinimac was, allegedly, eaten by Boethiah as he was attempting to stop the Chimeri exodus which she was leading. She turned His followers into Orsimer and, well, through the natural course of things, produced Malacath as a result of ingesting Trinimac.
Now, the Orcs like to say Trinimac lives and Malacath is but an imposter, but frankly, I never cared enough to get involved in the philosophical ramifications of being eaten and processed by a daedra’s innards. It seems, though, that even amongst Altmer, His deeds become overshadowed by his misfortune, or the myth thereof. I, like Celedaen, was never terribly religious – odd coming from a Thalmor agent, I know, but for many of us it just comes down to revenge – and so I never gave any of it much thought.
And, probably to nobody’s shock, I wasn’t quite in the mood to be proselytized to.
Most of my days I simply lay in bed, pecking at what meager food was presented. I gave my cellmate what I didn’t eat. If I felt like it I would ask a guard if I could shave (there was a not-unfounded concern that I would use the blade for other purposes). Sometimes I would feel the urge to run my hands over my torso to feel the ribs which protruded as if I’d never eaten in my life. My stomach was flat and soft; I had no muscle or definition the way I used to. My arms and my legs were skinny. So skinny, in fact, that I continually needed help getting up and sometimes walking. I would get dizzy just reaching down for my chamber pot.
And day in and day out it was Trinimac this and Auri-El that.
Until, finally, one day I nearly shouted, “Who cares??? Auri-El doesn’t care for my plight! He didn’t care for the plight of his own champion! Why should He care about ours? He is a god because His powers dwarf ours and nothing more! If I were of a mind, I could become more powerful than all the Aedra, and then what? Would I be obligated to help you? Or should I sit in my lofty plane, content that the problems of mortals are not my own?”
“You miss the point,” the mer Giril said. “The gods help those who help themselves, hm?”
“I tried to help myself,” I said, feeling the familiar tears returning. “I tried to help Aicanath, and when I couldn’t, I prayed, and nobody would hear me.”
“Well some things can’t be avoided, can they? Some things simply are.”
“What does this have to do with Trinimac?”
“Bravery. Strength, courage. Would Trinimac have given up on His life if a single campaign had gone wrong?”
“I guess not.”
“The Altmer wouldn’t be who they are today were it not for Him and His courage, wouldn’t you agree?”
I sighed heavily. “No, I guess not.”
“So you shouldn’t be praying to them to solve your problems!” he nearly laughed. “You should be entrusting yourself to them to bolster your strength!”
I looked at him skeptically, my perpetually-tired body screaming at me to lie down.
“If you believe that Trinimac had strength and courage, then you should also believe that that strength and courage is within you. Entrust yourself to our gods, Tauryon. Entrust yourself to them, and they will make you whole.”
“They can’t bring my Aicanath back. That’s the only way to make me whole. I would give anything, anything under the sun.”
“Well, there’s the problem, isn’t it? Your husband isn’t you, and he never was. And you were never him. It feels like part of you is missing because he moved some things around inside you so that he could fit. But you’re still Tauryon. Nothing is missing, things have just been rearranged.”
I sniffed and buried my head in my hands. Perhaps he was right. Perhaps I did have the strength he claimed. “So, perhaps, with things being rearranged, I’ve been put together differently, and maybe in a better way?”
“Perhaps. But the important thing is that you know that through Auri-El and his champion Trinimac, you have the strength to move on and embrace the change your loved one brought to you.”
I made progress. I doubt that the pain will ever truly go away, but time moves onward. By the time I was able and willing to start my regimen again, I was noticeably older, but that was alright. I found other men who liked my appearance. I found other men with whom I developed a romantic relationship. Always, Aicanath was with me, holding me when I was sad and using the breeze to kiss me when I was lonely. And that sounds terribly maudlin, but it’s true.
I was reinstated as a commander, but I told our leaders that I was not fit for combat. Just the thought of it sent me into a panic. And so they put me on inquisition, since that was now its own unit, and because I was known to be quite good at one-on-one situations and coaxing information from people. I was assigned a brilliant young lad named Rulindil as my lieutenant, and for many years we worked together in our small, cozy quarters. Eventually we were promoted. I to Captain, he to Commander, but after a while I simply let him take over leadership. It was something he’d been hoping for, but I was getting tired, and I was some ways from retirement.
Skyrim proved to be a blessing.
That hideousness with Clavicus Vile aside, I couldn’t have asked for much better than what I received. It wasn’t my love, but it was my Celedaen, and it was his Sabrael. For the first time since Aicanath died, in Celdaen’s arms I felt truly whole again. Making love to Sabrael made me so happy. The few times Celedaen would enjoy me alone, when I could hear his deep voice say my name and feel him love me, somehow everything seemed alright again. I could feel Aicanath with me, happy, it seemed, that I could share my love again.
And yet, it seems like it’s time. It’s time for me to face facts. It’s time for me to stop. I don’t have a lot of time left, and that’s alright. I know I’ll be with him again.
But in the meantime, I hope I can hang on just a while longer. Celedaen and Sabrael have met Ondolemar and are out with him, practically alone. The young lieutenant took a slow track to commander thanks to his rather flippant nature, but here he is, in charge of the Justiciars: soldiers who roam Skyrim seeking out illicit Talos worshippers as afforded us by the White Gold Concordat. It’s a position that fits him like a glove.
He’s not usually out in the field, but now he is, and with the two men in the world I could ever love nearly as much as Aicanath. I see that gaping hole in the back of strong armor, and I pray that Auri-El and His champion give me the strength to look toward the sun. To let faith bring them back to me, and to ignore the lure of fear and despair.
I see that gaping hole in the back of my love’s armor, and I think: If ever there was a time to use your claws, Rei Ginsei…