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Maia and Hadvar unconsciously moved closer together as the woman from the sphere laughed. They exchanged glances. Neither one of them had expected a person in the sphere. The last thing they thought they’d have to be dealing with was a crazed dunmer. But after a couple seconds, the woman seemed to gain control of herself and sober up.

She turned back to Maia and Hadvar. “I hope you’ll excuse my outburst there. It was rather rude. My name is Niiryn Dai’Gyrri, Champion of the Prince of Madness. May I ask your names?”

It took Maia a couple seconds of opening and closing her mouth soundlessly before she could reply. “Maia—er, my name is Maia Swiftfoot.” She elbowed Hadvar. He glared at her.

“I’m Hadvar of Riverwood,” he grumbled. Niiryn gave them both a small bow and then grinned widely. But suddenly, the grin fell off her face and she looked around with a grim expression.

“…You wouldn’t happen to know where we are, would you?” she asked in an almost nervous voice.

“We’re a couple miles south-west of Dawnstar,” answered Maia gently, ignoring Hadvar’s looks. If he didn’t expect the Champion of Sheogorath to be completely out of her mind than she didn’t know what to tell him.

Niiryn blinked incomprehensively. “And where is Dawnstar?”

This time it was Maia who blinked in surprise and she exchanged a confused look with Hadvar. He was the one that answered. “Dawnstar is the Hold capital of the Pale, in Skyrim.”

“Skyrim? We’re in Skyrim?” She pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed, muttering, “He couldn’t have left me in Cyrodiil, at least? He had to dump me… however far away it is from home?” She looked back at the pair. “Are we underground?”

Maia nodded. “Yes—it looks kind of like an ancient Nord crypt from the outside. There were strange things going on recently, so we—I mean, I—decided to investigate.” A tiny smile tugged at Niiryn’s lips at that—there and gone again as fleetingly as if it had never been.

“Would you mind terribly guiding me towards that town you mentioned—Dawnstar, was it?”

“Not at all,” Maia answered.

“Alright, just let me check on something.” The dunmer went to the base of the shrine and circled around it as though looking for something. Hadvar took that moment to pull Maia a little farther aside.

“Maia, what if she’s dangerous? Did you see the size of that sword on her back? I’ve got the distinct feeling she knows how to use it, too. Or what if Sheogorath had her imprisoned there and he’ll be angry that you freed her?”

Maia shook her head. “She seems…benign enough. Besides, Hadvar, if I recall correctly—and I do—both of us are pretty good with swords ourselves. And Sheogorath definitely wanted us to find her and free her. Why do you think all the commotion suddenly started around this place? Why do you think we were able to get all the way down here? Why do you think the key to the sphere was carved into the base of the shrine?” She folded her arms and waited for him to answer. Her waiting was interrupted by a triumphant “aha!” from Niiryn behind the statue. She emerged, riffling through a leather knapsack.

She smiled at Maia and Hadvar. It looked as though she had gone through another mood swing. Holding up the knapsack, she said, “I knew Haskill wouldn’t leave me with nothing.”

“Haskill? Who’s that?”

“Lord Sheogorath’s chamberlain. Dour fellow. But practical. And according to Sheogorath, a right snazzy dresser.”

For about half the walk back to the surface, Niiryn chattered inanely about various things, commenting on the species of butterflies still fluttering around, the alchemical properties of the fungi growing in the caves, and many other things. Her enthusiasm even seemed to rub off on Hadvar, whom Maia caught smiling at several points. However, almost abruptly, she grew quiet and withdrew from any more conversation. The look on her face seemed troubled, and she kept touching her head and frowning as though worried at what was going on within it.

It took considerably less time to get out of the “crypt” than it did to get in, not only, Maia thought, because there were no more Draugrs to worry about, but also because the way itself seemed so much shorter. When they finally stepped outside, it was to the waning sunlight of twilight, and it was starting to snow. Niiryn closed her eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been back to Nirn,” she said quietly. “I’d almost forgotten how different the air smells.” She paused and, seeming embarrassed, fingered at the helmet that she was still carrying under her arm. When she looked back up, she said, “I feel I must apologize for my…manic behavior earlier. I don’t usually get like that.” She paused, and the troubled look returned to her face. “In fact, I haven’t dealt with anything like that since….” She trailed off and placed her hand to her head again. Finally, she said, “It hasn’t happened in a long time.”

They made a camp in a dell a little ways away from the crypt, since it was too late to make their way back to Dawnstar. Luckily, Maia and Hadvar had come prepared and had their packs with them. As they ate a meager dinner, everything was quiet but for the crackling of the fire Maia had started until Hadvar cleared his throat.

“So…Niiryn…May I ask why you were stuck in a ball of mage energy?” he asked. Niiryn pursed her lips and was silently thoughtful for a moment.

“I don’t actually know to be honest,” she finally answered. Maia had noticed that she hadn’t had another mood swing since leaving the caves. “As you probably know, Lord Sheogorath rarely has to have much of a reason for anything he does. I do think he had some reason in his mind, though, when he did this.”

“What makes you think that?” asked Maia curiously.

“I lived in the Shivering Isles for forty-six years. I kept Jyggalag from razing them to a barren wasteland and sat on the Throne of Madness for three years before His Grace returned to us, and after that served as his Champion for the remaining forty-three years. In all that time, I was never the victim of one of His crueler pranks. Of course, all in the Realm of Madness must occasionally endure some pranks, but most are smaller ones.”

At this Hadvar interjected. “Wait—who is Jyggalag?” Niiryn’s face twisted into a scowl. Clearly, the name was not one she was fond of.

“Jyggalag is the Daedric Prince of Order. You have never heard the stories of him?” Both Maia and Hadvar shook their heads. She sighed and her voice gained a story-telling cadence. “Long before Nirn was populated by men and mer, there were the Waters of Oblivion, and there were the Daedra. Jyggalag was one such, and he was so powerful that all the other Princes feared him. They decided one day to move against him together, and they cursed him with the Madness, and the Madness was Sheogorath. Once every thousand years, though, the curse was lifted for a time, and Jyggalag was free to spread his Order like a disease. Every thousand years he came and destroyed all that Sheogorath had built, and when the Greymarch ended, the Prince of Madness was left alone in a realm of ash and bones.

“For long millennia, Sheogorath tried to halt the coming of the Greymarch. He was unsuccessful. It wasn’t until he opened a door to Mundus and invited in a mortal champion that any ground was gained. I was hesitant at first, of course—I had a deep-seated mistrust of all Daedra—you can probably figure out why. But the Shivering Isles—they changed my mind.”

“How so?” asked Hadvar.

Niiryn smiled, as though at a pleasant memory. “It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. And the people there—so many of them are such good people. I mean, there are bad ones, too, of course, but that is everywhere. Madness does not make someone less worthy of saving, contrary to what so many sane people believe. I wanted to save them if I could. It was no less than what I’d done for Tamriel in the past.”

There was no pride in this last statement, only a sense of duty, but something about the distinctive way it was said made Maia pause and feel like she was missing something. So she asked, “What do you mean, ‘it was no less than you’d done for Tamriel in the past’?”

“Oh,” dunmer said, waving a hand dismissively, “I helped out a lot when the Mythic Dawn started opening those damned Oblivion gates everywhere.”

Maia and Hadvar exchanged a glance. Hadvar’s expression clearly said, Well, she’s even crazier than we thought she was. Maia wasn’t so convinced. Who knew how long Niiryn could have been frozen inside that bubble? It hadn’t occurred to any of them that she might have been down there for more than a couple days.

Niiryn had noticed their incredulity and her brow had furrowed. “What?” she asked, “What’s wrong?”

Quietly, Maia answered, “Niiryn, the Oblivion Crisis was over two hundred years ago.”

Niiryn’s large crimson eyes widened in shock and her mouth opened and closed a few times, though no sound came out. She glanced fearfully around the clearing they were camping in, as though a familiar place had suddenly become unfamiliar and hostile.

Quietly, Maia said, “I figure you must have been time-locked in that bubble a lot longer than any of us realized.”

Slowly, still not looking at Maia or Hadvar, Niiryn began shaking her head. “No… No, that can’t be right…” she said softly with a note of desperation in her voice. She continued shaking her head as she raised her fingers to her temples to start rubbing them, as though in response to a severe headache. She still wasn’t looking at Maia or Hadvar.

“Niiryn?” Maia said tentatively. The dunmer seemed to have completely lost awareness of her companions.

“Why would you do this to me?” Niiryn whispered, still ignoring Maia and Hadvar. She put her face down into her hands and let out a long, mournful moan. Again, louder this time, she asked, “Why would you do this to me??” Maia stood up and started to move toward her. Then, in a level voice, Niiryn said “Get out of my head.” Maia stopped moving toward her. Niiryn suddenly jerked to her feet and screamed, “GET OUT OF MY HEAD!”

Maia flinched backward as Niiryn began ripping impatiently at the straps on her armour. As she succeeded in getting her gauntlets, and then her shoulder guards and pauldrons off, she threw them to the side and hissed, “I don’t want anything to do with you!”

After ripping off her breastplate, she almost yanked a ring off of her hand, but stopped herself. Her back spasmed and she put both hands over her ears, her face screwed up in pain.

GET OUT OF MY HEAD!” she screamed again, and without warning, started clawing at her own face and tearing at her hair.

“Hadvar!” Maia yelled. “Help me!” The two of them approached and attempted to restrain her arms. She fought them, though, and she was strong—as she would have to be to wield that monster of a sword now thrown on the ground outside the ring of fire. Thinking quickly, Maia pressed her palm to Niiryn’s forehead and whispered a spell. Just like that, the dunmer went limp in their arms.

Hadvar looked perplexed. “What did you do?”

“Sleeping spell. I didn’t want her to hurt herself. All of us that went undercover with the Stormcloaks learned them.” She hesitantly looked at Hadvar and glanced away again. He knew that look.

“What are you thinking?” he asked, already resigned to the fact he probably wasn't going to like whatever she had on her mind.

“I think we need to take Niiryn to visit Erandur,” she spit out quickly. Puzzled, Hadvar narrowed his eyes.

“Isn't that that priest of Mara that lives up above Dawnstar? Why?”

Looking sheepish, Maia said quickly, “He used to be a priest of Vaermina and I think he might be able to help Niiryn.”

“You do realize that this really isn't our responsibility, right? She's not a lost puppy.” Maia glared at him.

“What would you do? Leave her here? She's in a strange country currently torn by civil war and two hundred years have gone by since she was last conscious. Not to mention the fact that she's clearly unstable.”

“She's also a grown woman who chose to serve Sheogorath knowing the consequences.”

“I understand if you just want to head back to camp in the morning. But I'm taking Niiryn to Nightcaller Temple, if she's willing,” Maia said quietly and firmly. Hadvar held his breath for a moment before letting it out in an explosive sigh.

“Fine. I'll go. Maybe some day I'll grow a backbone and say no to you, but today is not that day.” He was rewarded for this statement with a tiny smile.

“Thank you. I just feel like it wasn't an accident that we found her when we did. I feel like she's important, somehow.”

“Well, I guess we just have to hope this isn't some joke on us, then.”   

An Appropriate Response to Reality Ch. 2
Well, this is one of the files that I got back off my old computer. This was actually finished well before now. So, here it finally is.
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Obi-Wan Wallpaper by intrepid-Inkweaver
Obi-Wan Wallpaper
I made this pretty quick wallpaper a while back, but ended up not being able to upload it because not long after I made it, I spilled water on my laptop. It was unable to be fixed so we got the files off of it and I got a new one. I miss my old one, but c'est la vie. Anyways. Here's Obi.
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intrepid-Inkweaver
Angela Marie
Artist | Student | Literature
United States
Inkweaver and Cuddle-Puss

Current Residence: Pennsylvania
deviantWEAR sizing preference: small
Favourite genre of music: Rock and Roll
Favourite style of art: mmm...idk
MP3 player of choice: iPod Touch
Favourite cartoon character: Wile E. Coyote
Personal Quote: There are two kinds of writers: those that make you think, and those that make you wonder.
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32vieri32 Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2014  Hobbyist
Hi!!! Thanks for the favs!!! :tighthug:
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Gaspode5 Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2014
Many thanks for putting 'I will never hurt you...' in your favourites! :heart:
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rskrakau Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2014   Traditional Artist
Thanks for faving again :)
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MonsieF Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014  Student General Artist
Thank you so much for the fav of my Sansa portrait!! :)
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XenuxZero Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Thanks for the fav on "The Horsewoman"!! :D
Nice cat!
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ThePastelHobbit Featured By Owner May 15, 2014   Digital Artist
thanks for the fav~~
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sofjadelly Featured By Owner May 9, 2014
Thanks for the fav!!!
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neaphara Featured By Owner May 5, 2014
Thanks for the :+fav:! :love:
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Isaacsporcaelus Featured By Owner May 2, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy birthdaaaay!! Hope you've had a lovely day!Hug Free Birthday Icon 
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intrepid-Inkweaver Featured By Owner May 2, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you! :huggle:
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