Your name is Louise and…. you swear you’ve had the craziest dream ever.
Yes, it had to be a dream. You failed your familiar summoning so badly that you tore open a hole in space and time and a giant demon’s hand reached through to grab you and kidnap you into its realm of torture.
By the founder, as if the pretest jitters weren’t enough, your nightmares have to go on for-freaking-ever as well.
Striped of your possessions by winged beasts and forced into these itchy, burlap like robes by these scale faced demons, all before being strapped to a table where some monster impersonating your older sister stood appraising-ly, stating, “Yes, it’s about time the Zero made something useful out of her life.”
You knew this was a really, really bad nightmare because your older sister would NEVER EVER call you by that annoying nickname.
It was just an impossibility. It had to be. She’d never…. Ever…. Would she?
NO. It was a really. Really. Bad. Dream.
That was it. Really. Just the absolute worst case scenario that could ever happen.
Really, your sister schmoozing up against the arm of some giant, monster of a demon and whispering sweet nothings into its ear. Yes. Ha ha. Good one brain. Good joke! This really takes the cake!
…And then that demon grins and asks your sister if she’d like to do the honors.
The sadistic tone in that single “Yes” nearly made your heart break. But it was just a dream. And dreams never seemed like dreams when dreaming them, right? You’re waking up now and that’s why you’re realizing it’s a dream.
The pain you felt from the dagger your older sister drove into your heart, however, felt very, Very, real.
Real enough to wake you up.
And wake up, you did.
Your name is Louise de la… La… Va…. Laval… you can’t quite remember? You’re… a Vallerie? A Valkerie? Valor-rei? …and your head feels like someone shoved a giant drill into your frontal lobe, while your heart still feels like it’s been cut in half by a wicked blade.
Founder, what happened last night?
The Academy Dorms are loud and boisterous, sounding like there’s a riot going on outside.
The voice is unfamiliar- and you refuse to open your eyes due to the massive pounding headache you’ve been on the receiving end of- but concerned. A girl? Maybe she’s a student you never met. Yeah, that’s probably it. You summoned your familiar, and everyone decided to throw a party in your honor at FINALLY doing something right.
Maybe you summoned the most awesome thing ever and–
“Hey, miss? Are you alright??”
You groan, and then mutter something about a splitting headache… or was it a heart ache?
“Hey, come on. Wake up!” And then a pair of tiny hands are shaking you and you snap your eyes open to yell at whoever decided to break into your room and–
And it’s a girl.
No, seriously. It’s a girl. Not even Academy age. She’s got to be- what?- Ten? Eleven max??
…Or maybe she’s just developmentally challenged like you are in certain respects. Could be a lot older than she looks. That’s probably it.
Still, though, you first really coherent words are, “What happened last night??”
That, unfortunately, is before the brown haired, blue eyed girl leans backwards and lets out a sigh of relief… thus, allowing you to see that, no, you are NOT in your dorm room. You’re in some kind of cave and–
“EVERYONE! LET’S BRING THE FIGHT TO THE GOD OF SCHEMES!” You hear someone yell from outside what is very quickly appearing to be a JAIL CELL.
“Well, I dunno about you,” the girl says, “but I’m pretty sure I was kidnapped off the beach and sacrificed to a Daedric Prince.”
You’re definitely not familiar with the term. No. Not at all. Instead, you opt for the always classy, “Sacrificed!?” No. Please let it have been a dream. A. DREAM. DREAM. DREAMY DREAMY DREAAAAMMMM.
“Yeah,” the girl nods. “Strung up on a stone table, and stabbed in the heart with a fancy dagger. They don’t really seem to discriminate with age.” She shrugs, “Go equal opportunity evil, I guess??” And then she asks, “How old are you, anyways?? No way you’re any older than I am.”
You CANNOT believe that a girl who looks that cute and adorable seems to think you’re the same age as her. It almost makes you want to yell and rage in frustration at her. You would, too, if not for the fact that a LIZARD MAN runs up to the cell door and calls in as he works to smash the locks open.
“Quickly now! Don’t stop moving! We’re escaping!”
Your name is Louise Francoise le Blanc de la Valliere, and you…. you don’t think you’re in Tristain any more.
VESTIGE OF V0ID
LEVEL 0: The Wake Up Prologue
There are more of the demons that you remember from your dream- except it wasn’t a dream. This is very much your reality now- fighting prisoners who are armed with weapons they seem to have stolen off of the corpses of other demons lying on the ground.
There is one massively tall woman wielding a steel beam like it was a great sword, and using it to a debilitating effect- crushing in skulls of the demons easily, and soon, the current force of demons has been slain.
“Quickly now,” The Giant Woman, obviously the mastermind of this prison break, orders, “We don’t have much time! Search the corpses for any weapons you might be familiar with!”
The girl from your cell immediately begins calling out for daggers- two specifically, if anyone could spare them- and quickly gets a matching set. The look on her face reminds you of Kirche when she’s got some devious plot in mind. That is not a look that should be on a face that young.
You’re so distracted by this glaring paradox that the Giant Woman hands you a Great Sword (No. No thank you! Don’t you have a wand or even a short sword if you’d please?), and orders the ever increasing company of prisoners to march forwards.
“Alright! For those of us just joining us in our little jaunt through Coldharbour,” The woman begins to talk, “My name is Lyris.” Ah, Lyris. Better than just “Giant Woman,” you suppose. “There’s no easy way to put this, but just about everyone here’s dead.”
Your gulp is muted behind the nervous chattering of everyone else.
“Good news is, you’ve all got some fight left in you. That means you’ve got a second chance most people who come here don’t.” Lyris doesn’t even break stride even as your group slips through an abandoned weapons forge. “Some of you might have seen a ghost-like magic projection of an old mage calling himself the Prophet. Like all of us, he’s a prisoner here, but he knows a way out of this place, how to get back to Tamriel.”
That is a word you do not recognize.
“Those of you that he’s tasked with coming with me to his jail cell are going so that we can free him and then escape. Everyone else? You’ll be heading to the meet up spot that the Prophet’s already told people where to go.” She smirked, “Most of them are going to fetch other prisoners, but we’re close enough to the divergence point now that we need to split up pretty soon. I’ve already got a couple of volunteers, they’ll lead you to the meeting place.” And then you all reached a room full of doors. “Team Prophet: Follow me!” Lyris then heads to a certain door. “Everyone else: Be Careful!”
And then your group size is halved, and your cell-mate has disappeared along with the group that apparently had seen this guy named “The Prophet.”
You’re totally alone, in a group of men, women, lizard-folk, a few cat-men and…. at least three different types of elves.
You squelch your fear of elves from your home world for the moment, because quite honestly, only one of the three types look like the Elves you’ve read about and seen pictures of; and even then, these elves have skin of a very golden hue. No way they’re close. The others are ashen colored, or simply too short with gleaming eyes that seem much too big for anything you’ve ever seen before.
…It’s one of those short ones that takes the lead towards the meeting spot.
“Everyone, follow me and our fur-covered friend here, and try to make as much noise as you can!” the… what do you call him anyways?… man motions towards one of the cat-men, who flashes a tooth-filed smile, and you all head off in a different direction, into a Mine. There are other prisoners here, working away endlessly; but no guards. The prisoners here aren’t even chained up any more.
Nobody tries to interact with them upon seeing their pale, detail-less faces.
“W…What are those?” You can’t help but to ask.
“Soul Shrivern-” One of the Lizard men speaks, “those who have had their souls stolen in death, with their pitiful remains sent here to work for eternity.” Then quietly, as if afraid, he adds, “They are what we will become if we do not escape.”
You can’t help but to shiver.
There are walking skeletons- Oh Founder, NECROMANCY!?- in your path once you enter a large walkway area, but they don’t seem to have noticed your large group yet.
“Sorcerers! Mage Fury on three!” the short elf leading your group calls out. “Two!” Several people all clench their hands- even the one who called the order. “ONE!” And then they all throw their hands up into the air- launching strikes of lightning that arc upwards and downwards onto the skeletons.
The resulting clap of unified thunder makes your ears ring for a moment- even as the skeletons collapse.
You’ll admit, you’re in awe.
This attack, however, unfortunately brings a wave of staff wielding and robe wearing skeletons out of the woodwork.
“Dragonknights! Templars!” The lead elf calls out even as he slams a wooden shield into a skeleton’s face- “PURIFY THESE REMAINS!!!”
And then several people rush forwards, swinging fire and holy magic this way and that, and soon enough, the resistance that the Skeletons put up is put down once more.
You’re fortunate enough to pry a staff out of a skeleton’s hands, dropping that cumbersome great sword in the process.
“Hey, does a pipsqueak like you even know how to use that thing??” It’s a beastly woman with green skin who asks that- Oh founder, now there’s another group of Prisoners merging with yours, where did they all come from!?- admittedly true question.
You don’t really have a clue how to use this thing- but the skeletons just waved it around and such, it couldn’t be too hard, now could it?
…Well, that is if your latent talent for making things explode doesn’t get in the way. You decide to risk it- there’s a skeleton that’s following the other group of escaped prisoners, and you decide to take a pot shot at it with your staff.
That you successfully fire off a burst of ice at the skeleton is not surprising; that the skeleton didn’t promptly explode from the attack IS. Sure, it dies, but you still find yourself braced for an explosion that never came. You didn’t even use any of your willpower on the attack.
The staff just sort of… worked all on its own!
“Okay,” the beast woman grins, “I’ll take that as a Yes.”
Oh well, at least you have some means of magic… but as your newly increased group of prisoners continues through the mines, you can’t help but wonder WHY it worked. Even when using staffs like this before in the past, things still tended to explode. And “things” was usually the staff itself- if the staff had any internal supply of magic and wasn’t fully a magical Focus.
…Curious, when the next wave of skeletons approaches, you try not to use the staff’s internal magic, but instead try to use it as a focus. Instead of the short burst of ice, you instead get a larger chunk that freezes a skeleton in place, and even stranger… your willpower reserves feel replenished rather than drained!
You quickly ask one of the Sorcerers to show you the Mage Fury spell from before- just on a whim… and your first attempt at using it is very much a success.
You felt a willpower drain that time, yes, but…. this time there was something different. Something Missing. You’d never would have noticed it before, but you remember now that every time you cast a spell back home, any spell that resulted in an explosion, there was this tingling sensation somewhere inside your very being.
That weird feeling’s absence is your first clue that whatever the hell was wrong with you back home was buried deep within your soul.
Your soul that you no longer have.
It’s then that it really begins to sink in.
Your name is Louise, and You Are Dead.
By the time your group reached your destination, it had doubled in size twice, and then seemingly doubled yet again by the sheer presence of the people already waiting inside.
“Oi Oi!” A human girl with golden eyes- who very likely could have been the older sister of your cell mate- calls out at your group leader, the “Bosmer” (as you’d learned they were called through osmosis of the group chatting) who had been leading the entire time. “Where the hell is Lyris!?”
“How should I know?” The Bosmer said, “She ducked off with a bunch of people to find that Prophet guy, somewhere around the Forge.”
“Well I hope they get here soon because we attracted a LOT of attention crawling through the Undercroft like we did,” the girl said, growling somewhat like a wolf. “Spike Traps everywhere!”
“That doesn’t seem so bad,” The Bosmer began.
“We almost lost thirteen people to the guards chasing us through said spike traps!” The girl added.
“Almost?” he questioned.
“Get this,” the girl rolled her golden eyes. “Apparently since we’re already dead, if we die? We just POP RIGHT BACK into existence!”
“What!?” Someone from your group- the “Orc” lady who had inquired about your staff skills- cries out in dismay. “We’re freaking GHOSTS!?”
“Ghosts without souls- apparently,” the girl nodded at the Orc.
“It makes sense from a certain stand point.” The Bosmer muses, “Molag Bal doesn’t want his work force suiciding out of service, so what better way to keep them impressed for eternity than by making our bodies just pop right back to life?”
It is then that any further musing is cut off by the loudest- most inhumane roar you have ever heard in your life.
One of the doors breaks down- and your former cell mate comes rolling through, yelling, “CLEAR THA’WAAAAYYY!!!”
And then several other prisoners come rushing through- keeping up a guard position around an elderly looking man in robes, carrying a staff and walking as quickly as he could without running into anything.
This, you assume, is the Prophet.
“Clear the area!” His voice calls out loud- clearly, despite the apparent age in his voice. He reminds you a small bit of the Headmaster. Old, powerful, wise beyond his years. “We are Not Alone!”
And then the wall explodes- and a… Well, you suppose the only way to describe it is a Bone Collossus. A giant being made entirely of Bones.
“Meridia Save Us!” An Argonian woman cries out. “IT’S A BONE ATRONACH!”
Or that. That works too.
The golden eyed girl from before suddenly turns into a cloud of black and red, then disappears- reappearing a moment later above the Bone Atronach’s shoulders.
“HYAAAAAIII!!!” SLASH- twin arcs of crimson magic slice out from the girl’s hands, and deliver a critical blow to its neck.
The Bosmer readies a lightning staff- and hurls a long streak of lightning at the Bone Atronach’s head.
The next thing that happens is your former Cell Mate running towards a wall- bouncing off of it, and then delivering a dreadful double slash that knocks the beast to the side.
It is then that everyone else who had been waiting in the room- even you- rush into action, throwing magical blasts and physically slicing with swords.
The melee that stretches forwards loses all sense of time- with a massive room full of escaped and armed prisoners, however, the Bone Atronach falls to the floor, dead.
And then the Prophet chuckles dryly, “And so the Child of Bones finally takes his much needed nap.”
You, like so many other people, can’t help but to laugh in relief for the few moments of peace you have.
Things moved quickly after that, with the Prophet summoning something called a Skyshard, and then leading everyone into the next room once they had a chance to absorb the thing’s energies. Touching it felt like standing in the sunlight on a bright summer day, letting the wind blow by and feeling that wonderful sensation of floating.
Of course, that last part probably had something to do with people actually floating when interacting with a Skyshard.
The next room beyond seemed to be a massive construction yard for massive, giant rings of dark metal. There were more unguarded Soul Shrivern working on some of the unfinished pieces, with only a few pitiful skeleton guards around the massive floating stack of completed ones at the center of the room.
The Skeletons were quickly dispatched, and the Prophet took center stage beneath the rings.
“These are Dark Anchors!” The Prophet called out to all- “Dark Machines of Molag Bal that seek to bind Nirn to Coldharbour! However, we shall be using these devices to turn the tables on Molag Bal- Let his will be DENIED! What gates are opened to send his armies through shall instead be used to return us Lost Souls to Tamriel!”
And so he began casting magic- calling upon someone named Akatosh to power the devices for only so long as was necessary.
As the Dark Anchors began to power up, demons- “Daedra” you correct yourself- come running through doorways and other such areas. There is a lot of them, and as the fight begins, Dark Anchors activate seemingly at random and begin pulling through whole masses of escaped prisoners and Daedra alike.
One such Daedra- a blue skinned woman wielding a pair of daggers- comes at you with a hiss and a “You’ll be mine, you tiny little morsel!!” in a voice that reminds you a little of Kirchie. You hesitate because of that, and in your hesitation, you fail to fire any form of attack, barely only managing to block her first attack by throwing your staff into the way.
The Daedra woman’s daggers get caught in your bow’s shoddy wooden surface, and though her eyes are hidden beneath a strange helmet, you see her mouth twist into a shocked surprise.
Before anything else can happen, however, one of the Dark Anchors grabs hold of you and the Daedra woman and then there’s a twisting lurch that—
It is a calm day over the island of Stros M’kai. The sun is high in the sky, and the wind blows in ever so slightly with a cooling chill.
Across the islands’ many settlements, everyone goes about their everyday lives. Just to sea, some pirates plan their next raid. Elsewhere, a group of mercenaries on a mission from the Covenant are well on their way to pulling into port. On land, a corrupt politician little knows of what fate soon awaits him….
And out to the north, by the Goblin camps, there is a disturbance.
It is a strange disturbance- the sky darkens and ripples as if something threatens to pierce through from another plane of existence… but it lacks the energy somehow, split across so many other points of space and time.
It is then that something is flung through the rift- smashing down into the shallow channel between the island’s main bulk, and a smaller island just barely separated. No, not something, somethings, plural. Two forms- two fighters.
One is a Daedra- a Dark Seducer; the other a mage- a girl with strawberry blonde hair.
The moment they hit the water- they separate from their dramatic entrance, and roll to opposite sides of the shallow channel. The Dark Seducer gets to her feet first, growling about how pretty the girl will look in shackles on her wall. The mage is dazed from the impact, and her staff has broken from the impact with the shore, but she has enough sense about her to manage a single attack– thrusting the broken wooden shaft out like a blade as the Dark Seducer charges for another attack.
The conflict is over in an instant- the Dark Seducer’s exposed belly now marred by the wooden shaft piercing through the front clear to the other side. The Dark Seducer lets out a brief squawk of surprise, and then falls over, dead, leaving the mage alone standing there as the victor, huffing for breath as she tries to make sense of everything that’s happened.
After a few moments, however, the mage falls to her knees in the river and begins sobbing.
“I want to go home!!”
Unfortunately for her, that is a wish that will never come true.
> Level Up!
A.N.: And Now For Something Completely Different. This is an attempt at a Familiar of Zero crossover with Elder Scrolls Online. Why? BECAUSE WHY NOT!?!? Also… this may or may not connect into whatever I have planned for Silica’s skyrim adventures… >_> *hasn’t decided yet* Will this progress beyond this chapter? Maybe. Maybe not… I DUNNO WHAT’S NEXT 😀
Still, I got this to a point where I felt comfortable posting this snip, and so here it is!
EDIT: The Keen Mace is posted to Ao3.