I thought I'd start this post by saying I'm a huge mental health advocate. Mental illness is something that's so common in today's society, its something that can affect anybody, and it doesn't discriminate. As someone who's suffered from anxiety their whole life, I know how bad it can get and how it can impact your life in so many ways. I studied psychology for 6 years because I wanted to understand the way myself and other people think, and why. Mental illness, at the core, is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It may seem so simple, but it can lead to a lifetime of sadness, tears, pain and worry. I just want everyone to know, that you matter. Life is an amazing, beautiful thing filled with so many wonderful experiences. Every single life is a light in this world to me. There's people who love you. There's always someone who will listen. Your thoughts matter. If someone says "it's all in your head" tell them they're right, except everything you experience in life is processed INSIDE YOUR HEAD. Your brain is important, but it's essential to know that it's not always right. Talking is imperative. If you're on this app, it means you're likely a writer, correct? Then you know how important communication is. Talk to someone. People love you, and there's people out there who would love to meet you, experiences out there that could change your whole life for the better. Your feelings matter. Your life matters. YOU matter. Don't ever forget it.
I walked along the warm banks of the River Nile, the blue green water glistening in the harsh desert sunlight. The water was calm, but beneath the surface it was anything but. Monsters perused the depths of the river, stalking anyone who dared to get too close to the water's edge and even going as far as to attack the large vessels used for hunting them. My name is Naeem, and I am a slave to Pharoah Ziyad. Well, technically an advisor and companion to his son the Crown Prince Memnon, but a slave all the same. I was a low born commoner, plucked from a life of crime and poverty as a child. My father was a tradesman, my mother a housewife with 7 children. I was the youngest, and caught the attention of the Pharoah's Queen mother whilst stealing from the markets. I was with the local boys, a group of pickpockets and petty criminals. The guards gave chase when a merchant reported us, and caught up to Zaid and Akil, the slowest of us. The guards announced that they would execute the two boys unless the stolen goods were returned right then and there. I had them in my pocket, a pair of precious gemstones. Lapis lazuli and a beautiful emerald. The money the fence would offer me for these would've fed my family for months... But I was not about to let my friends perish, even if it meant forgoing eating properly for the first time in my life. I came forwards, the crowd staring long and hard at me. When I handed over the gems, they all gasped and yelled. They released Zaid and Akil and seized me, talking about throwing me into a cold cell, or perhaps feeding me to the river beasts. Then the queen mother stepped out into the crowd, who had been hiding undercover. The whole town went silent, and the merchant glowered. "Allow me to take custody of him." The guards were dumbfounded, and immediately let me go. It's a rare sight to see anyone from the royal family outside of the palace, among commoners. Most of the people here have never even laid eyes on their queen. Even though I was young, I remember how she looked, my memory complety unspoiled. She was tall and beautiful, her skin olive, eyes like blue diamonds, voice mesmerisingly melodic yet firm and authoritative. On that day, she took me from my family to live with her in the palace. She told me she needed a trustworthy boy like myself, resourceful and loyal, to be a companion to her grandson Memnon. I grew up with him, and became like a son to the Pharoah and a brother to Memnon. The Pharoah was always quick to remind me of my slave status, however. But the taught me to read and write, gave me food and clothing, even though I was never allowed to see my family again. However, I continued to meet them in secret, giving some of my earnings to my family so that they may have somewhat of a decent life. My brothers and sisters were jealous, but thankful all the same. Izka, my eldest sister, always warned me that I would get into trouble if the palace knew I still had contact with them. If they did know, they never accosted me for it. On this particular day, I was out scouting the river. A nearby temple dedicated to the god Hapi, had recently been desecrated. The temple priests had also been complaining about jackals venturing too close to the temple gates, so I was sent to investigate. Hapi was a favoured goddess of Princess Sabah, and demanded that I go and find out the state of the temple. "Let Naeem go father! If Hapi is displeased, the flooding of the Nile will surely cease!!! Naeem, chase off any jackals, and make an offering to the divine goddess of the Nile! Naeem pleeeease!" Sabah's incessant cries left the Pharoah with very little choice. It was quite amusing how the morning and evening star of our great Egypt so easily gave in to the whims of a 14 year old child. I knew the river monsters were watching me, but I also knew the appropriate distance to keep from the water, which kept them at bay. I was nimble and fast, despite my height, and able to escape most dangerous situations with ease. The spear I held in my hand felt warm against my skin, as much as the midday sun. As I approached the temple, a young woman came out to greet me. "Ii em hotep, Naeem," she bowed her pretty head politely. "This way." She led me into the temple. I looked around, the place looking like it had indeed been vandalised. "Can you tell me anything, preistess?" She looked thoughtful. "The priests tell me there were masked men, who came in the night." She bowed her head again. "They believe them to be part of the caravan." Since Hapi was in control of the Nile, an attack on her temple may be a provocation. "Do you mind if I take a look around?" I asked. "Take as long as you like." She smiled, and walked towards the entrance of the temple. The hypogeum was smaller than the average temple, but made excellent use of natural lighting during the day. On the altar there was various offerings to Hapi, some fruits, jars and gems, some of which had been violently thrown off against the wall. I produced a lotus flower from my bag and placed it on the altar, for Sabah. I continued my search of the temple. The underground rooms, used to house passing worshippers, were deserted. Bedrolls and furnishings had been strewn around the rooms, messing with the favoured symmetry most places of worship strive for. I reached into my bag and brought out my papyrus and quill, meaning to make notes for the Pharoah. I returned to the ground level, and as I did the priestess ran towards me, pale with fear. "Naeem, the monster. It's come forth from the river, and it's outside the entrance. It's coming for us!" I readied my spear. "Which sort, my dear?" She froze. "The crocodile." Crocodiles are easier to deal with than the river cows. Both are formidable, but if a cow gives chase to you then you're as good as dead. "Okay, go underground and wait there." The priestess, seemingly frozen with fear clung on to the back of my arm. "Don't leave me." I didn't want to waste any more time. I crept silently towards the entrance, and peered around the corner. Before my eyes, was the largest crocodile I'd ever seen. Its red eyes glowed as it swayed its massive head from side to side, seemingly looking for something. I backed into the temple. The priestess looked at me desperately. "That is no ordinary beast." She wept. "It is a foul thing from Duat, the Underworld." I was not a religious man, but it was true that I had never seen anything like what was standing outside the temple. The was a snapping sound and a yelp. I quickly looked outside and saw that the crocodile had a jackal puppy clasped within its jaws. An adult jackal, probably the pup's mother, leapt out in front of the crocodile. She snarled before fearlessly going in for the attack. I saw my chance. I grabbed hold of the priestess and pulled her behind me, escaping the temple with the awful sound of howling and snapping following close behind us.
I sat atop the crag, looking down on the sleepy town as snow fell peacefully. The twinkling street lights and soft light of candles burning within windows of the cosy houses came in and out of focus. Dressed in all black to camoflauge against the night, my keen eyes skimmed the streets of Little Oakdale carefully. My name is Simon the Dark, and I'm an assassin, even though on this particular occasion I had been hired to use my skills for a very different reason; to save a life rather than take it away. I was looking for a young girl, a child of a wealthy merchant, who'd been missing for just over 2 days. Time is of the esscence when searching for a missing person, as I knew very well. Most people think it's impossible for someone to just simply disappear, but if you know what you're doing it's all too easy. The child, a girl called Ciara, stood out around these parts. Her father, a man known as Girian, had shown me a recent likeness portrait so I had something to go on. Her hair was spun gold and long, down to her waist. Her skin was fair, a stark contrast to the tanned, olive tones that were common around the Obsidian Peninsula. But the most telling of her features were her eyes. One was green, like an emerald in the sun, the other a dark violet, a sign of the magik. Girian had told me that she was last seen in the fields on his property, tending to her favourite cow Moomoo. Ciara didn't have any friends, so spent most of her time with the animals on her father's farm. Her mother Miriam was a flamboyant woman, and was always travelling around the Peninsula styling the hair of the noble women. Ciara has one sibling, a younger brother called Cathal. Cathal was 10 years younger than Ciara, only 3 years old. Girian had begged me to bring his daughter back before his wife was due home, which was in a week. "Do you think she's still alive? She must be alive! Please, bring her back!" He had pleaded with me. The child is highly likely still alive, and chances are that her captors are looking for a ransom. Either that, or she's being sold as a slave. I knew of a group that serviced the Upper Kingdoms, who had more questionable morals than those of the Peninsula. Ciara could be anywhere if that were the case, as the dealings of the outlaw gang, known as The Ebben Circle, were highly complex. Thankfully my reputation had bought me a lot of respect with the townsfolk who would definitely cooperate with me. Chances of Ciara being in Little Oakdale were slim, but informants were everywhere. I planned to be on The Ebben Road before dawn, armed with information critical for finding the child. Finally, I saw what I was looking for. A hooded man walked down the cobblestone streets, hunched over and heading towards the town square. I knew him to be Rennald, a scrupulous man with strong ties to The Ebben Circle, mostly to keep his own hide out of trouble. He reached the Town Hall, looked around carefully, then entered the building. I waited ten seconds, before descending into the town. The Town Hall was locked of course, but I knew how to get through a locked door with extreme ease. I entered the hall silently. The tall room was silent and dark, but for a soft glow underneath a door on the upper floor. I ascended the staircase and opened the door, which led into a kitchen. Rennald would be in a secret room, accessible at the back of the large kitchen, which gained one passage into the bowels of a castle. Little Oakdale was a minor town, but all towns on the Obsidian Peninsula had their own castle. Little Oakdale's was situated on a steep hill, far above the rest of the town. From the upper floors you can see the glistening Obsidian Ocean, a stunning view. The royal family was in dissaray, even though the town seemed to operate just fine without their input, which was just as well as far as I was concerned. The floors creaked in multiple places, indicating that there was more than one person on this level. I moved quickly and silently around the kitchen, towards the back room. If Rennald wasn't alone, I'd like to see who he was liaising with. I climbed onto the strong ceiling beams, wanting to go unnoticed. Sometimes gaining true intel is easier if people don't know that you're there, and it was much more elegant than forcing it out of them. I manuevered through a gap in the ceiling to enter the next room. I crept along the beam until two figures came into view. I strained to hear them as they spoke in low, hushed voices. Rennald was there conversing with a hooded figure of substantial height, someone I didn't recognise. He emanated a power I was not familiar with. Magic was becoming less and less common around here. I got as close to them as I dared and crouched down. "... but why now? The girl's presence here has been common knowledge for YEARS. She's not any kind of threat. Girian, as big of a fool as he is, has done a good job so far." Rennald seemed exasperated, sweat glistening on his forehead despite the cold. "That doesn't matter. Her powers are growing by the day. Soon enough she'll know how to use them." "Why does that matter?" The hooded figure sighed. "Arochnian believes her to be not only of magical blood." Rennald's eyes widened. "No. She can't be. The Oracle tells us the time of the next Aauforfarrine isn't for another thousand years. It's a mistake I tell you, the child is born of magic and that's it! The Aauforfarrine must meet certain criteria." Rennald looked smug at his knowledge. "They must have elven ancestry, among other things." "Oh but she isn't just born of magic." The hooded figure looked up at the ceiling in my general direction, unnerving me. "The Oracle has more information. The child is of elven ancestry." "IMPOSSIBLE!" "Very possible. But before long, as the prophecy spreads, more people will be after her. For example, the assassin now knows everything I just told you." Rennald's colour drained from his face, visible even under the dim light of the candle. "The assassin? Simon?!" He spun around, scanning the room. I usually easily go unnoticed. The fact that this man was privy to my presence proved that he is of magic himself. I sighed and dropped from the beam, making Rennald leap three feet into the air. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE, MURDERER?!" Rennald tried to hide his fright with a demand. "Same thing as you by the sounds of it. I'm after the child, what do you know?" I laced my voice with persuasion magic, which seemed to be rebutted by the hooded figure. "Assassin, the child is none of your concern." Said the figure, who lowered his hood around his shoulders. I studied his face, which was one I did not recognise. His face was young and handsome, his eyes were violet, and he had a scar running down the side of his cheek. "I suggest you leave this business be, and get back to what you know." "I was hired to complete a job, and I plan to see it through." We glowered at each other, each sizing the other man up. Rennald looked at each of us in turn before screeching "Oh, get over yourselves you two, the testosterone in this room is almost suffocating me!" He eyed me suspiciously. "Who hired you then exactly?" "I should be the one asking questions, you don't ask me." I hissed at him. Rennald rolled his eyes, and muttered something about never liking me. "We may actually have use for you and your skills, assassin. Seeing as you insist on being part of this." The hooded man stood taller. "Were you hired by Girian the merchant?" My eyes widened, although I was not that surprised. This man seemed to be a learned one, skilled in magical arts. Perhaps a sorcerer or witch doctor, neither of which I thought much of despite being born of magic myself. "I'll answer your questions, but first answer mine. Who are you?" The hooded man studied my face, before quietly answering. "My name is Narora, I hail from the Near Woods, an Aishro apprentice of Einslo The Rushed." "An Aishro, in these parts?" I snorted. "You don't look much like a warrior." Narora narrowed his eyes. "I don't care what I look like 𝘥𝘦𝘷𝘯𝘢'𝘢𝘳." He ran his fingers through his thick, dark hair. I knew an insult when I heard one. I drew my dagger, brandishing it threateningly as I approached Narora. "It matters little to me who or what you are, no one calls me names and lives, Aishro." I sensed a power emanating from Narora, and I stopped. "You're born of magic, AND you're a sensitive?" Narora laughed. "You will be of great use to us, She'uron." I hadn't heard that word in a long time. I sheathed my weapon. "Why do you want this Ciara girl? What exactly is a Aauforfarrine? And what exactly are you, really?" Narora looked at Rennald, before looking back at me. "Meet us at the tavern tomorrow morning, 7am sharp. Come alone, and say nothing to the merchant." "But I'm supposed to be on my way to the Ebben Road by then." I complained. "You'll never find her going that way. If you're thinking The Ebben Circle are behind her disappearance then you'd be wrong." I was baffled. Narora continued "The Tavern, 7am. If you don't show then you'll never see us again, and you'll never find Ciara." He smiled. "So assassin, are you in or out?" Before I could answer, both men disappeared before my eyes.
Who here is an #elderscrolls fan?! One of my favourite fantasy lores, and a massive inspiration to me! Been lazy today and haven't written anything, but I'm excited to get some interesting things out later, as well as my Instagram page (finally!)