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Prayers of Sed-Yenna

Started by Pilaf The Defiler
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Prayers of Sed-Yenna
Brother Theodore of Weynon Priory

For many long centuries the Highlanders had suffered one hardship after another. They were a proud and godly people with much of the old Nord blood in them and accustomed to strife, but the era of the Reeve was particularly taxing on the peasants and miners of the old Colovian Estates. Roads to and from the Reeve's lush palace in Chorrol were often infested by bandits, goblins and gods know what else and everywhere the whispers of slug famine and shadows of snakes along our borders circulated like a foul wind preceding a tornado.

It was into this benighted existence that Sed-Yenna was born. Only daughter of an iron miner and his farmer wife who was taken home by Orkey on her birthing bed. Her 'da followed on her tenth birthday, claimed by a mineshaft collapse. She'd been told he had bequeathed her his life's savings, but of course the Reeve's men confiscated the majority for their damned taxes. "Old Covenant business", they claimed from mouths beneath eyes which knew no warmth or sympathy.

Sed-Yenna had tended to the sheep since she could first stand upon two legs. "Lass is tech'ed by Kyne, I wager" the old crones and wise men would mumble as the little girl in the patchwork dress drove her herd through winding paths through tall hills and deep valleys. Shepherding was a dangerous business in the days of the Reeve. A Shepherd was likely as not to fall prey to an Ogre attack along the ill-maintained back roads or to have his throat cut by bandits or screaming Maloch-Orcs. Still, the little girl persisted with a near-preternatural ability to control the movements of her four-legged friends, and managed to make enough income to scrape by a living even after her 'da was taken home to live with the Good Old Spirits.

One day a band of foreigners appeared in the valley at the foot of the old Weynon Mountain where little Sed-Yenna tended to her flock. They looked like knights of the old Northern stock but their dress and speech was strange to behold, and at first young Sed-Yenna was afraid. She had blossomed into a young woman of fourteen and had become more than capable of defending herself from the odd wolf, but a troop of well-armed men gave her pause for concern."Are they here for my sheep, or for my innocence?" she thought quietly to herself.

Thankfully, their leader appeared to be a goodly man. A pilgrim of some sort. He fashioned himself a king and spun a yarn about the Dragon Queen and healing the land. Sed-Yenna had little time to worry about such things herself. Some days she didn't eat and often heard rumors of entire families being taken by slug-disease. Still, the king was a kind enough man and so she shared her goat cheese and wine with him and wished him well. She wouldn't see him again. Rumor circulated he had died shamefully, and a dark shadow fell across Sed-Yenna's heart. If even good pilgrims died in these dark lands, what hope was there for a vulnerable young woman with only a herd of sheep and a cottage to her name?

Sed-Yenna never knew her 'ma, but had been told by the crones and clever-men of the hills that the woman had been tech'ed by the Good Old Spirits and was blessed. Though she had died in childbirth she had led a blessed life. The man she married preferred his Good Old Spirits from a bottle, and while he never beat or berated his daughter he was always detached and cold. She couldn't recall him ever speaking to or of the gods except during his quiet alcoholic weeping in the wee morning hours, when the embers of the fireplace began to die down to a glow.

It was a cold and unforgiving Morning Star's night when Sed-Yenna first prayed to the Spirits for guidance and succor. Her herd huddled in a makeshift barn as she warmed her hands before the hearth fire, shrouded in a dusty old eastern silk blanket passed down from a forgotten time. Having lacked parental guidance in matters of Colovian faith, Sed-Yenna had often found instruction from the crones and clever-men. While often neglected in their old age by the Highlanders, their words were cherished by the Shepherdess and she often spent long fall and winter nights as a girl absorbing their stories of how the Good Spirits helped her people slay the cruel monkey priests.

On this night the accumulated hardships of her life were becoming too much to bear, and the death of the pilgrim king was a bitter pill to swallow. He had been handsome, pious and well off. She had hoped to seek his hand in marriage someday, but he was taken by a cruel twist of fate. How could the Spirits allow it? She fell to her knees, weeping, clutching her hands before her to beseech the gods.

"O mighty Shor. Please hear the call of this wretched soul! Our life here is hard and tragic. We suffer from famine, plague and lawlessness. Won't you cast down these demons as you did the monkey priests? Won't you lend us your strength?"

The room took on an eerie silence. Outside even the winds seemed to die down. Sed-Yenna heard soft footsteps on her small front porch and feared for bandits or worse, but a light shone through the keyhole and a shimmering figure stepped right through the locked door. She thought it may be a wraith or ice banshee stepped in from the cold to devour her flesh, but it emanated a warmth. The form of an old clever-man it took, though ethereal and shimmering. It wore the pattern of a curling snake in its robes and spoke with the voice of an Ayn-Jill.

"Little girl, Shor has heard your prayer as he does the prayers of all Highlanders. My Lord wishes you well and hopes that through strife you can grow a warrior's spirit, but he will not help you on this night. Though he loves your people Shor will not aid them. How will they find their way to Sovngarde if they lack the courage to slay demons alone?" And with that the room grew dark and the emissary departed. Sed-Yenna silently contemplated her unworthiness.

A month passed, and more hardship befell Sed-Yenna and her neighbors. Ogres took the old Crone Et-Letta and burned her farm to cinders. Sed-Yenna's sheep had been attacked in the night by dark figures with the voices of wolves but the gaits of men. She was terror-struck to discover three of her thirty with their throats slashed, but the rest unharmed. She took it as a sign from the Spirits and prayed to them again on that Sun's Dawn night.

"O fierce Kyne. Please hear the call of this wretched soul! Monsters prey upon my neighbors and my beloved sheep. My people suffer from famine, plague and lawlessness. Won't you lend me your Voice as you did the Tongues? Can't I have the strength to overcome evil?"

Silence ensued for some minutes, and then Sed-Yenna heard a curious pecking at her small window. She looked outside and saw a brown hawk perched on the sill, looking her in the eyes. She heard its voice inside her mind. "Little girl, Kyne has heard your prayer as she does the prayers of all Highlanders. My Lady wishes you well and hopes that through contemplation of the winds and respect for the beasts and birds of the forest you can grow a champion's voice, but she will not help you on this night. Though she loves your people Kyne will not aid them. How can they learn to move mountains with shouts of faith and adoration if they lack the courage to build up their lungs alone?" And with that the bird departed. Sed-Yenna silently contemplated her unworthiness.

Another month passed and money was growing tight. The winter and early spring months were always sparse times, and Sed-Yenna had little in the way of food for herself or the herd. Two more sheep succumbed not to night-stalkers but to starvation. She wept bitterly at her loss and decided to pray again one night. It was First Seed but the foundations of her yearly income were whittling away.

"O merciful Stuhn. Please hear the call of this wretched soul! My belly grumbles and my sheep fall dead. My people suffer from famine, plague and lawlessness. Won't you shelter me in the mercy of your love and make prisoners of these demons? Can't you be my bulwark against evil forces?"

Sed-Yenna heard a knock at her door, and before she could stand it unlocked on its own and a bear-sarker stepped in. This shirtless man wore the pelt of a she-bear on his head and blue woad in intricate swirls on his bare chest. Sed-Yenna could tell by his faintly glowing eyes that he was not man but spirit.

"Little girl, Stuhn has heard your prayer as he does the prayers of all Highlanders. My Warden wishes you well and hopes that through hard labor and compassion for other living things you can develop the will to guard your heart against evil, but he will not help you on this night. Though he loves your people Stuhn will not aid them. How can they learn to erect iron shields against the beasts and bandits of the wilds if they lack the perseverance to work the metal alone?" With that the bear-sarker silently walked away.

By mid Rain's Hand things were looking up a bit for good Sed-Yenna. A beloved elderly neighbor had peacefully passed into the next world one night and bequeathed her four fine sheep in his written will. It was a curious thing to behold, and Sed-Yenna was unlettered, but even the grumbling Covenant-Man admitted its legally binding status, but warned that the Reeve was the true owner of all sheep in the Highlands. As the grim man left atop his donkey, the young shepherdess silently wondered to herself why she had to suffer under the Reeve's rule.

That night she prayed. "O loyal Tsun. Please hear the call of this wretched soul! The Reeve lives like a king in his palace as we peasants scrape by day and night simply to eat. My people suffer from famine, plague and lawlessness. Won't you stand fast between me and my enemy and strike down hardship at my moat-bridge? Can't you be my unflinching champion against evil?"

As with the previous prayers, an emissary appeared. An old man leaning on a whalebone cane materialized next to her and placed a gentle, weathered hand on her trembling shoulder. "Little girl, Tsun has heard your prayer as he does the prayers of all Highlanders. The Shield-Thane wishes you well and hopes that through steadfastness and loyalty you can develop the battle-fury to defend your people and your herd against evil, but he will not help you on this night. Though he loves your people Tsun will not aid them. How can they learn to fight to the death defending homestead and worthy masters if they lack the work ethic to erect their own battle axes?" With that the kindly emissary vanished.

Second Seed saw increasing cruelty from the Covenent-men. A goat farmer near the Skyrim border had been beaten to death by tax collectors for hiding a single gold nugget from them. Sed-Yenna wondered how men could lack love and compassion to such an appalling degree.

"O gentle Mara. Please hear the call of this wretched soul! Wicked tax men beat our beloved elders to death. My people suffer from famine, plague and lawlessness. Won't you wrap us in your motherly embrace and guard us against the monsters in our closets? Won't you be my adopted Mother against evil?"

Being an infinitely selfless and loving individual, Mara herself materialized from beyond death and sat next to the young girl, wrapped in a golden shawl. "Little girl, I have heard your prayer as I do the prayers of all children of Nirn. Elf, man and beast alike, I exclude none. I wish you well and hope that through empathy and mercy you can develop the patience and forgiveness to move through this world unscathed by hate or desperation, but I will not help you on this night. Not even me. Though I love you and all children I will not aid you. How can a Mother love her children if she clings too tightly and does not let them grow? How can they learn to raise children of their own if their Mothers don't push them from the nest?" And though Mara held the weeping girl a while longer, she soon returned to her eternal slumber.

By mid-year things had gotten out of hand. The slug-plague had claimed four families from down near old Stuhn-grad. Wolves and bandits preyed upon the vulnerable. Sed-Yenna was growing impatient and angry, even with the Spirits, and an ominous shadow loomed on Weynon Mountain.

"O beautiful Dibella. Please hear the call of this wretched soul! While this land was once painted in the bright colors of a spring picnic, shadows of evil have fallen. My people suffer from famine, plague and lawlessness. Won't you grace me with the artistic vision to weave a tapestry of hope from the threads of hate and loss? Won't you lend me beautiful music against evil?"

The eyes of Empress Hestra moved in the old painting above the mantle. "Dibella hears you, little girl. She hears the prayers of all girls, even ungrateful brats like you. She wishes you well despite your impudence, and hopes that through imagination and foresight you can develop an artist's vision for Nirn. She won't help you tonight, though. No, not the Lady. Not even her. How can you learn to draw positive inspiration from loss and sorrow if you can't mix your own paint? Now if you'll excuse me I have filthy rebels to crush, even here. Their heathen blood will make fine war paint." The old Empress stopped moving, and returned to her static regal scowl.
Sed-Yenna was shocked and a bit angry. Dibella had sent no mere emissary but the Dragon Queen herself. Why had the old Empress scolded her so instead of lending a helping hand from beyond the grave? Maybe the gods were listening, despite their refusal to aid her.

Sun's Height brought sweltering heat and famine. Crops died, and cows fell dead in their pastures. Sed-Yenna sometimes went with very little water from the dwindling wells, and had to make long pilgrimages to the isolated springs of the rocky, ogre infested hills. During one such sojourn she slipped and twisted her ankle, and cursed her luck.

While she sat spitting obscenities at the heavens and the earth, a blind old man happened by. Moths gently flew in circles around his bald head and sometimes lit on his robes and face. "Little girl, why hurl such obscenities at Heaven and Earth? Even Jhunal has heard the pain and frustration in your heart. The Scholar understands how you feel, for he was cast down by his own people, but you'd better believe he loves you and every Highlander. He's blessed me with these Ancestors, who act as my eyes. He won't help you today, though, little girl. Not even him. He wishes you the wisdom and lawfulness that it takes to cope with frustration and pain, but it is that wisdom he possesses that stays his hand. The Moths could heal your wounds and sate your thirst, but what would you learn from that? How can you face the evils of this world if you won't give yourself over to patience and virtue?" The blind old man walked away as Sed-Yenna wept at her unworthiness.

Last Seed was upon the Highlands, and it had been an unforgiving year indeed. Sed-Yenna had experienced much death in her life thus far, and her injuries convinced her that even her youth was no warden against the Reaper in the Corn. She was fearful, and even prayed to wicked gods.

"O, cruel Orkey. Though you steal away the count of years from good men and women and allow monsters to breed in abundance, I beseech you to share the little mercy in your heart with this sinner. I have spoken ill of the gods and the good earth and fear for my soul. Can't you turn the fortunes of my people, who suffer from famine, plague and lawlessness? Can't you give us life and health instead of taking it away? O, Orkey, won't you please be our ambrosia?"

"You pray to Orkey?" a gruff voice with a queer accent spoke up, and Sed-Yenna startled at the sight of an Orc man with wicked axe in hand, ready to strike. While deep in desperate prayer she hadn't heard the approach of this marauder. The beast man's face softened a bit and he lowered his weapon. "I've decided to spare you, little human. I've not heard your kind pray to any of my gods before. Did you know that Orkey loves us all, even you? How could anyone appreciate life if there was no death? Youth without old age? Good health without plague and famine? I suggest you learn humility and dignity, little girl. Even a cut-throat like me respects the cycle of life and death, and I'll spare you for now, but for all the gods' sakes get better locks for your doors. Maloch spare us all!" The bandit grumbled to himself as he walked away, shaking his head.

Another month passed and the mountain's shadow grew. Whispers circulated among the shepherds and miners of the hills that something wicked was gestating near the summit. Animals fled from a blinding light, but humans dared not approach. Sed-Yenna had asked around about the name "Maloch", which she was not familiar with. Even the crones and clever-men blanched at this and advised her some things were better left unknown and unsaid. Finally, she convinced an ancient hermit who lived in a local cave and had a poor reputation to tell her about Maloch.

"The Lord of Pariahs has heard your prayers, even if you did not know that's what they were. Oh yes, little girl. Make no mistake, Maloch loves all who suffer and are outcast. Hasn't the Reeve cast us aside? Aren't we filled with fury? Maloch certainly won't help. How can you foster the rage and vengeance to right all wrongs if you can't build your muscles yourself?"

The final month passed and the mountain trembled. Many who lived in its shadow fled or openly prayed. Sed-Yenna said one more prayer to a god she had been advised never to beseech except in absolute desperation.

"O ravenous Alduin. Please hear the desperate pleas of this wretched girl! Won't you come devour our enemies and make us safe? Won't you at least devour the good people of the Highlands and hold us near your beating heart? Better to sit in the gut of a devil than to fall prey to famine, plague and lawlessness. O Aka please forgive me for the sin of speaking to the Dragon."

Among the hustle and bustle of openly weeping and praying figures, the young shepherdess did not notice the old Priest leaning on his cane. She prayed and prayed but heard nothing, and was about to go home when he spoke. She turned, startled, to see an old man in elaborate robes leaning on a cane carved in the image of a dragon's head and neck. "Little girl, while nearly everyone has forgotten it, Alduin loves you and all the people of the world. His love is all-encompassing. He gives and he takes away all things. The blessed beginning and the bitter end. He won't help you today, though. I come to speak for another Dragon. Ysmir awaits. Only you have the courage in your heart to face Him. These people won't."

Sed-Yenna turned to face her neighbors, who were covering their hands with their eyes. "I saw it! Up on the mountain top." Sed-Yenna wore a look of determination and grabbed her crook. As she began scaling the trail up the mountain fat old Nora-Lynn ran up, weeping. "Please, Sed-Yenna! Don't approach that thing. It's a sin to look at it! You'll die and bring ruin upon us all!" A thunderous roar filled the skies, speaking in an ancient and evil tongue, but underneath Sed-Yenna heard the cries of a child. She knew Ysmir was come, and nothing would stop her from speaking to the Dragon of the North. Finally, a Spirit had answered her.

Slowly she scaled the mountain, panting, leaning on her crook. Animals fled from the mountain top. A stag stopped to look her in the eye, and she could almost read his thoughts. "An Old One has appeared. It will devour us all. Run for your life!" She shook her head at the wise old buck. "I fear no mythical monsters or devouring gods. If something evil awaits me then let it take me to Hell and spare me this existence!" She trudged forward.

At long last she crested the final summit and saw the great drake perched atop the Weynon Stones of yore, fire in its eyes. She approached, unafraid. The golden-scaled wyrm spread its wings to reveal a diamond shaped wound where its chest scales should be. A glowing red light emanated from within. Though the monster breathed heavy, its eyes were gentle. It allowed her to approach and reach into the Red Diamond, from which she drew the bundled form of a babe. Such a handsome little boy he was, with kingly features. In his forehead was embedded none other than the sacred Stone itself, and Sed-Yenna wept with joy.

Aka-Tusk spoke. "Ysmir has heard your prayers, child, and has come to aid you. His Voice will vanquish lawlessness. His sword arm will strike down the source of the plague. His tears will quench the grounds and end all famine. He shall be my gift to you, that so long as your faith and heart hold true, yet so will this oath be true to you. This gift is called the Dragonborn, and He shall maintain the Covenant, for I am the King of Spirits and He is the King of Mortals. As He shall stand witness for Mortal Flesh I too shall stand witness for all Immortal Spirits. You shall act as both mother and lover to my Son, who is Me."

The First Dragon's eyes glowed red, and the sacred gem in the babe's head glowed with them. "This also shall be a token to you of Heaven's blood and our shared faith. Reman, Light of Man. He is Cyrodiil Come. So long as he and his descendents wear the Amulet of Kings, then the raging Dragonfires shall steel your borders and the borders of all your descendants through all the ages from the machinations of evil men. Even snakes may bow before the Flames of his Voice - wandering the skies no more, but falling to Mundus and guarding it as these stone cairns do. Take heed, young tender of beasts. The Dragonborn is a beast himself, and must be both feared and loved as I am feared and loved. Teach him virtue and faithfulness, and never let him forget he is the King of the World, and he and his heirs will protect all good mortals from Oblivion forever. If he falters in his virtue or exposes his vulnerable throat to serpents, however, the land shall fall into darkness and the Reaper in the Corn shall claim you. This is a Choice I offer freely. Live or die by your own volition. I am the King of Heaven and can only gift. He is the King of Man and must enact, for language without action is dead witness, as I myself am dead and now must return to the Stones. I place this burden upon you for Love can be cruel. Good-bye."

The old Dragon of a forgotten faith vanished as quickly as he appeared, and Sed-Yenna was left with a mewling babe who looked at her with ancient, powerful eyes. This was only the beginning of her trials and tribulations, but never again would she speak to gods. Instead, she would act in their stead, paving the way for the Son of Heaven. "Come, little one. I must take you to your rightful throne." Baby Reman smiled.
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