Tuesday, April 17, 2007

"No amount of piling up skulls thrills any more"

I breathe in still. The music grows calm. I breathe out.

Ragbag Buntara creeps towards me from her bed in the dirt of Imperial City. My will wobbles a tightrope of death. Yet like her, I stare up breathlessly through my whiskers at the fuming ruins, the shattered shell of the Church of the One. Smoking in its crumbled midst, an enormous stone dragon: moments ago paralyzing and golden and alive, a righteousness-spewing manifestation of Akatosh himself! Need I stress he’s one of the great Nine Divines, the very gods who cement this world of unmatched beauty and evil, our teeming Cyrodill? Without winged Akatosh’s summoning, all on it would have been smothered methodically from above by the four hands of the axe-wielding titan, Mehrunes Dagon. For the last 357 sunsets, the Daedric Prince has hatefully stabbed holes into the stretched skin of the land, mountains to deserts to oceans, pushing through his gates of blood and bone countless abominations! Thousands have died in his name, from penned horses to an entire city: that infamous pile of rubble, Kvatch. Today, Sun’s Height 13, he materialized in the great city and was exiled by Akatosh in a storm of flame. Perhaps he’s even dead. Or both are dead.

Yet even now, Buntara begs me for a coin, my smashed and enchanted weapons still vibrating from the battle moments ago that would end the world. There is a Daedric arrow shafted through my groin, one of several souvenirs of erupted demon war. She looks directly at me, an armoured Khajit catman named Grandpa, my fur as bright as the sun. Then asks, “Tell me again how you and Martin defeated Mehrunes Dagon.”

To be honest, it’s a long fucking story. Thanks to Emperor Martin summoning Akatosh at the cost of his existence, the Line of Kings is broken, the world without a leader. But I soon learn walking the lonely land - now free of Dagon’s prehistoric fiends and buxom spider queens - that’s all anyone wants to talk about any more, from the Black Horse Courier office outward. The battle legend pours even to the extradimensional Shivering Isles, once domain of Mehrunes’ cousin Sheogorath, another Daedric Prince, Lord of Madness instead of hate. Sheogorath has a special place in my grit teeth. After his queer gate showed up on the lake outside of Bravil it took an extensive penance.

There I was trapped for weeks, kept from my artistic heart: my hand-decorated wizard’s tower Frostcrag Spire, where so much of my passion lies in this life of mindless killing and errand-running. There: every skull I’ve ever liberated is piled. It’s home to my massive library and sycophant servant boy, cruelly commanded to remain in the bedroom conservatory, a little herb-garden gnome. Though I have no taste for his praise, he reminds of me the price of engaging the corrupt cities of men. In the tower’s rooms below, an unmatched collection of weapons and armour, trinkets; but also an easel-framed painting traded for keeping quiet about a certain royal infidelity; also, the head of a sick wizard’s mother; best of all, a handmade spiral staircase made of inexplicably floating paintbrushes carefully arranged upward, hanging there as if life were some mere game with cool graphic glitches.

But with both Daedra regals snuffed, I admit I’m not quite sure what to do with my life any more. To circumvent their disruptive ambitions, I’ve thrown myself into Felldew addiction, salivating and scrambling desperately through the hollows of a giant tree for the right kind of man-sized bug to juice – soon after, a battle with a dark mirror of myself; I’ve ripped the keystone hearts out of 15 Oblivion planes – hewing others’ reality; I’ve even leaped into a book, the secret Paradise of Mankar Camoran, destroying yet another dreamworld.

So now, the idea of lackey-fetching singing Ninroot for a wine-burping chemist or finding some fool woman’s debt-ridden husband in an orc dungeon seems positively … janitorial.

I’ve said it then. I believe I’m suffering post-Oblivion depression, healer. The mountains have been claimed and flattened. And no amount of piling up skulls or climbing floating paintbrushes over walls I’m not physically supposed to thrills any more. And I’m thinking about Ragbag Buntara. I’m thinking the next time she asks me for a coin … I’m going to have to hurt her. You know. Just for something to do as the guards rush to their deaths.

Better a debauched canary than a pious housecat, after all.

1 comment:

fish said...

And that's how Grandpa started to be a xenophobic weirdo!