Was hoping to get a decent illustration, but amidst everything else, it just wasn’t going to happen. But it’s a sacrifice towards something much, much better!
This is Rei’s rumination on his separation from Clavicus Vile. Unlike his former master, he has lots of things to juggle in his mind, and he walks the balance beam precariously, even if some times are better than others.
TRIGGER WARNING: Suicidal ideation, self harm
I think often that, no matter what Sabrael might tell me, there’s just no path for me anymore. I try so hard – I think I do, anyway – but it seems that everything gets so muddled when I’m involved. Sabrael loves me so very much that it hurts. I know people say that in a poetic way, but it really does. Deep. My chest is always in agony. I love him as much, but I don’t deserve him or his love. He deserves to be with his own kind, to play and put his love where it can flourish. The life of a kelpie has no business mingling with the life of someone like me, no matter how deeply rooted their hope in me is.
Tauryon…I don’t know what’s happened to him, if it’s simply his refreshed vanity or a desperate nostalgia, but I don’t know what to do with it. I can’t be Celedaen for him, and that’s what he wants and maybe even needs. His husband’s death was really only a blink away. Thirty years, I suppose. Thirty years is nothing to the likes of us, when years blur together as our memories begin storing things away in earnest, taking only what is necessary and purging the rest. The normal lifespan of an Altmer can only just scratch the surface of such a phenomenon, just long enough to mystify a human. A death thirty years ago is a death three weeks ago. He lost his Aicanath. He lost Scandalon, that stallion too beautiful for words. I’m all he has left, but he doesn’t want Rei Ginsei. He never has. He wants Celedaen. I doubt he thinks I realize, but if he really did love me the way I am, he wouldn’t continue to call me by my old name.
Maybe I want to be Celedaen, too. But that’s not possible with Sabrael around. I feel filthy just fantasizing about it. Others fear infidelity; I suppose our fear is my inner nature.
I thought Azura was the Prince of wisdom. Or balance, I guess. I don’t feel any wiser. I certainly don’t feel balanced. I don’t feel Her around much, at all. She doesn’t talk to me. I pledged myself to Her in exchange for delivering us from Clavicus’ wrath, and what have I got to show for it beyond an irritating quest, an infuriatingly smug Breton and her decrepit counterpart, and now an empty socket where my good eye used to be. Where is She now?
I can’t see in the daytime anymore, not without a lot of pain, and even in the shade all I can see are inky silhouettes that bleed into each other. Nobody really believes me when I say I don’t like the dark, not the monster that’s so often used the darkness to his advantage. It’s not even a matter of fear, I just…
I can’t stand the stars. The only star I would kill to see again is Clavicus’. He is the Morning Star, you know. My Morning Star. But it’s not the season. It’s not the season, and I doubt Skyrim has the pleasure of seeing it. Not the way Summerset Island did. I could only just see it over the horizon in Second Seed, so very low, and only in the very first streaks of dawn. I would be there to greet Him every day when His star was visible. There by my shrine to Him.
I wish He was here. I wish He could fix me and I wish He could hold me the way He used to. Sabrael said that people who love you don’t say things like they’d “fixed” you. I don’t think I care. Did I think after all was said and done that the strife would be over? I miss His power, but only because it came as part of His vestige, an actual, literal, piece of Him. Oh, gods above, I was so close to a happiness I’d only dreamed of! I could live there with Him, able to appreciate the pain of separation and the relief of being reunited. Barbas always complained about the separation when he had to go out on business, but it was beautiful! The pain was unbearable and maddening, but as soon as I fell into His bed everything was alright again. In His arms, so precious to Him that He sent away a very beautiful and willing young girl just so that He could comfort me and hear me and touch me in a way nobody – not even Sabrael – has ever touched me.
I barely got to feel any of it at all. In a flash it was all gone. And it was my fault.
I wish I could have had both Him and Sabrael. I wish I didn’t have to try so hard. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to hunt and kill the way I want to. I let Ondolemar batter me in a vain attempt at reliving Clavicus’ and my games. But Clavicus never hurt me. Clavicus was never cruel. Not to me.
Clavicus never harmed me and he never wanted me to change. And all I did was hurt Him in return. That was the thanks I gave my master. The entity that sheltered me and protected me for so many years. Who loved me.
I don’t know what to do. I thought I’d been doing so well, but the loss of my eye only reopened these wounds and these paths of thought that diverge into destinations equally desirable…but one with just that tiny extra bit of pull. I don’t even know if He’d take me back, though. I doubt it. I wouldn’t. I know how my master would get, and I wounded Him deeply in many ways.
What do I do? Oh, Azura, won’t you tell me something?
I’m not the man I’m supposed to be. Not for Sabrael. Not for that sweet creature. I should have just left him with Tauryon that first night. I should have left and never come back. Tauryon would experience real love again, and Sabrael would have a man who loved him better than I ever could. And I would’ve been with my master. Nobody would have to die. I only would ever need to love my Clavicus the way he loved me. On my island in perpetual twilight. But because of me everything is ruined.
What kind of man am I, that I should be crying desperately for love of a Prince who wanted my Sabrael dead? I suppose I keep these feelings hidden well enough, or at least Sabrael has the reservation not to say anything.
I was a child when I last felt this way, a youth of maybe sixteen, when I’d had so much on my mind and so much to cope with, that all I wanted was to lay my head down on my pillow and just never wake up. Like my father’s dog. He was just old, and he was tired, and one day he lay down by the living room hearth, and you’d never notice, in passing, that he had died there, just as if he’d planned it all.
I wonder, if I wished hard enough, that when I visit the Dreamsleeve, would I be seen fit to rejoin Him somehow? Or is my soul corrupted, and would I go to the Chaotic Creatia as a daedra? The question stands, though. Would fortune be kind enough to send me back to Him? Sabrael would mourn me, I know, and it would be painful. What would it be like to just feel that piece of my soul vanish? He’s felt me dying, but he was with me. There’s so much nothing out here, he would never have to feel the physical pain, only the space left by my vanished soul.
And he would have Tauryon. After I told them I was going for a walk and left the tent, I heard them rustling about, felt a jolt of pleasure as Sabrael was touched just so. Tauryon loves him so dearly, and maybe Sabrael doesn’t love him as much as he does me, but he’d be taken care of. I wouldn’t be leaving him alone.
I never contemplated this before, not this way. The feel of my dagger’s blade across my palm is as sweet as it ever was, that lovely pain that makes me feel light and releases all that pressure. Sabrael has never asked about the scars all over me, and he likely assumes they’re all from battle. Some of them are. Many are my own, and he doesn’t need to know. One deep breath is all it takes, one deep breath, and that long-practiced right-to-left swipe across my throat.
I can’t. I betrayed Clavicus. I won’t betray my husband’s love for the sake of my own mental relief. Relief of a pain that I – not anyone else – brought onto myself. I’ve pushed through this far, haven’t I? I’ve done this much, and I’ve kept myself together. The pain is my punishment. I won’t be a coward and run from it. It’s mine to bear, and if I can keep it from Sabrael, all the better.
I can see the campfire from here, and it’s almost out. I suppose I should get back and tie a bandage around my throat. The cut wasn’t deep without any conviction behind it, but it’s bleeding an awful lot. Maybe Sabrael has another round left for me, but even if he doesn’t, I’m just as happy to hold onto him the way he deserves to be held. The pain is my punishment, my Kirin is my redemption.
He has to be.
And in the distance I’m almost certain I saw the iridescent flash of an animal’s blue eyes. I hope as much for its hallucinatory nature as I do its reality.