C.O.T.W Chapter 44: A Midsummer's Dream

  • Aela and Inigo were floating in the black nothing that is unconsciousness for about two minutes, surrounded by purplish black fog

    that obscured their vision. Aela wondered where they were. Inigo wanted to know also. Aela pulled out her sword and tried

    unsuccessfully to cut through the think fog, 


    The fog dissipated and both the khajiit and the nord initially thought they had landed in the hunting grounds but something was as

    unhircine as you could get. For starters, this place had a purple sky, well Hircine's had that to, but, the architecure of this plane was

    different and There were unimaginable terrors around every corner. 


    Inigo stiffed the air, he turned to Aela,

    "This place...smells purple." Aela glared at him and thanked him for stating the obvious


    Inigo grinned gleefully at her, his tail moving in a low arc behind him, 

    "Hey, I just call it as I see it." He said, shrugging


    Aela told Inigo to shut up and told him to go left. Inigo asked why he had to do this. Aela glared at him and said they needed to find

    the master of this wierd nightmarish realm. Inigo nodded and did as Aela asked. Aela walked straight passed barron trees with their

    branches reaching out for her like a scared child would for her mom. She moved the gnarled branches out of the way as she

    continued onward. Aela had tto plug her nose because of some rancid smell permeating the air of the realm. 


    Seeing a curious statue overrun by spiders, she gasped and her eyes went as wide as golf balls as she noticed who it was. It

    depicted a beautiful woman hewn in stone holding a three-pronged staff adorned with what looked like axeheads in one hand with a

    snake coiled around it and in the other, Aela beheld a snake glancing eastward, she wondered what that meant.


    She had no time to ponder on this because as she approached the statue, it broke apart and the woman, no longer stone

    but instead wearing deep blue robes over her magnificent golden skin, approached Aela and introduced herself,

    "Greetings mortal, I am Vaermina, ruler of this realm, goddess of dreams and nightmares." She was shocked at Aela's expression,

    "I'd go so far as to say when a mortal sleeps, I come out to play."  


    Aela asked Vaermina why she does this, why she screws with the minds of mortals,

    "Oh no, that is Sheogorat's domain, I only plant dreams to ease mortals' minds or plant a nightmarish seed to watch it blossom into

    lesson the mortal must either correct or move on from."


    Aela was struck dumb by this statement, she eyed the daedric prince-remember the princes have no gender-and sat on the edge of

    a ruined building,

    "So what you're saying is that your nightmares teach mortals lessons, how does that work?" She asked, scratchng her head


    The sky lit up as a bolt of white lightning came down from above and struck near where Aela was sitting, the realm took on a new

    shape. It now encased everything Aela and Inigo was afraid of. The ruins where Aela sat turned into a tree branch. The realm, or at

    least the small portion of the mead realm that Aela sat stretched downward to form a large pit with a female nord lying helpless at

    the bottom.

    Aela tried to climb down to her but just as she started to inch closer to the edge of the trunk, lightning struck again and this time,

    instead of a helpless nord, her mother, lying at the bottom of that pit was Inigo, only, the pit wasn't botoomless any longer. Ten

    angry draugr flanked the doomed khajiit on all sides, making escape impossible. Inigo drew his sword and stood bravely against the

    walking gas bags. by terror quickly sole over his body as the realization of having no chance set in. Aela watched in horror as

    the draugr started to  tear the khajiit apart piece by piece.


    Aela's eyes filled with tear as she looked down into those fear-stricken orange eyes,

    "Aela, HELP ME PLEASE!" Inigo cried out as he was clawed at by the neverending draugr infestation. Aela watched helplessly as her

    feline lover was slowly being torn open like a package of raw meat. Not wanting to suffer more pain, she turned away and pleaded

    with Vaermina to let the blue khajiit go, he had down nothing to deserve this. 


    Vaermina eyed her with deepest concern and shook her head, telling Aela that which she dreading to hear,

    "I cannot intervene, I can only watch." She scooped up a clump of purplish-black dust with her hand and turned back to Aela. "You

    see, my realm is very much like this clump of dust, you can change its shape but you cannot intervene, you cannot force it to be

    anything other than what it was intended to be."


    Aela creased her forehead, lost as to what the daedric prince was trying to convey,

    "So what you saying is...your realm changes on its on without you intervening?" The daedric lord smiled, nodding

    Aela understood, or rather, understood as much as she could since the concept was as alien as the continent of Vvardenfell was to

    her. She forced her mind to stay on track as she asked the daedric prince about Inigo and if he really was down there or if it was

    some nightmarish trick. The daedric lord croseed her arms against her robed chest and told her to try and look past him and asked

    her what she saw. She saw nothing. Vaermina said to looker harder. Aela squinted as hard as she could and finally she saw it. The

    rocky cliff face was clearly visible through Inigo. Aela saw that he was much darker than usual. She noticed that the thing had red

    eyes. Aela looked like a slaughterfish that saw a larger, hungry predator. 


    She saw that the 'nightmare Inigo' shed its blue fur suit. The creature, a shadowy black denizen of the Quagmire, grew claws as

    sharp as iron daggers and had numerous black scales along its reptilian body along with a tail tipped with three inch long dagger-like

    spikes. The scales stopped below a purple belly that extended upwards stopping just beneath its scamp-like face with a wrinkled

    face an elderly denizen of Tamriel would be proud of. In the middle of the face was a pointy nose. Two inches north of the nose,

    seperated six inches apart, were two purple eyes. Vaermina walked over to the creature, bent down and stroked its hooked nose,

    "This, mortal, is, a scagonolf, it is just one of the denizens I have in my realm. He is the smallest creature that resides herre. I also

    have Khagons and, perhaps the fiercest of all of the inhabitants are the Aquaquags."


    Aela asked what a khagon and an aquaquag waas, not sure if she wanted the answer. Vaermina sat on a rock next to her and told

    Aela that khagons are beings of pure shadows that often take the shape of a khajiit dragon hybrid. She told the nord of the khagons

    impressive speed and agility and how they expell the miasma from the Quagmire into a very fine mist and breathe it on their

    enemies, causing them to fall into a very deep sleep, from which mny die in. It requires so powerful magic to bring them  back, er,

    wake them up..


    Aela scratched her head,

    Erm, if you don't mind me ask, what is miasma?" She cocked her head, confused


    Vaermina waved a hand in the air,

    "Why, all of this." See realized her fault and corrected herself, "Er rather, it is what you breathed in before entering her, mortals

    cannot enter my realm without first breathing it," She smiled and spread her upturned hands, "Call it...a key of sorts. You see

    miasma exists in mortal's dream and nightmares." She gestured to Aela, "I have searched many a denizen of Tamriel and found

    your-you and Inigo's-nightmares to be expecially full of miasma. She scratched her cin with a black fingernail, "I also found Inigo's

    nightmares to be equally full of miasma as his and your nightmares are similar."


    The Scagonolf spotted her out the corner of its reddish eye and started chasing her. The nord dropped onto all fours and started to

    transform into her wolf form, something was wrong, however as the transformation fizzled out halfwaly through.


    Aela looked befuddled at her nord form as she tried again and again to transform, getting the same result every time,

    What...in...Oblivion...is...going...on?" She hissed angrily


    Vaermina waggled a finger at her, laughing while she did it as if this was one big joke to her,

    "Don't think you can just rip the scagonolf apart with your wolf claws." She crossed her arms and scoffed at her. " With us daedric

    princes nothing ever is." The daedric prince poked Aela full in the chest with her finger. "That's the thing with you mortals, you have

    fragile minds and fail to grasp even the simplest of ideas." 


    Aela got up from where she lay in the dirt and asked Vaermina about the Aquaquags,

    "What of thesee as you say, 'fierce inhabitants of your realm' huh?What are they a mix of? Why are they so fucking dangerous?"


    Vaermina sighed in defeat and told Aela about the Aquaquags, how they were formless beings made up of water and rock. Aela

    thought of an ice atronach with rock on its body amongst the ice. Vaermina shook her head,, causing the straight black hair to sway

    like curtains on a windy day,


    "No, actually, but you vision of them in not that far off. They are Atronach, but, intead of ice and rock, they are made up entirely of

    miasma. So if you see them coming, you'd best run because arrows and spells have no effect as they pass right though. Vaermina

    appeared behind Aela, "If they catch you, they will beat on you like a wardancer's drum."


    Vaermina told Aela about the realm and its inhabitants oover the next few hours, or however long it took because the realm didn't

    really abide by the laws of time. It didn't really abide by the laws of physics either,  but Vaermina told Aela that when the Aquaquags

    pounds on the unsuspecting victims, they deliver a fatal dose of miasma directly into their ccirculatory system stopping their heart.


    Aela's face screwed up in dsgust. Vaermina saw Aela's face and apologized. Aela said she was thankful for her apology and turned

    her attention to the rapidly approaching scagonolf. For being the smallest creature of the quagmire, it mobed like a lbolt of lightning.

    It scurried through the water that flooded Vaermina's realm rather effortlessly, whereas other creatures might get stuck in the waist

    deep water.


    Aela scrambled out of the pit onto firmer ground and ran as fast as she could as it rapidly zigzagged its way toward her, rocks and

    dead trees as cover as it was doing this unqie manuver, lightning struck again and again the scene changed. Now, instead of the

    scagonolf chasing her, she saw Hircine striding towards her.  With his long, furry legs he closed the distance in three seconds.


    He glared down at her like a master would his disobedient servant,

    "My hound, you are a disgrace to werewolves everywhere. Not only to them but also to me. You purposefully goaded another into

    murdering one of my creations, a werewolf must preserve life not take its judgement upon oneself. Hound, I have no other option

    than to strip you of the divine disease."  Tears marred Aela's once brilliant features, making the oily paint run off her face


     Aela started to shrink back into the water depths of the realm then she remembered something: Inigo's eyes, well the fake one, had

    red eyes and she could see though him like one could see through transparent water. She stood up to face the false wolflord and

    stared right through him,

    "Tough shit, I will never listen to what you say because you. are. not. real."


    She jabbed him in the chest with every single word she spoke,

    "Furthermore, you are merely a shadow of the realm of the queen of shadows, therefore, you are a sad attempt to emulate the real

    Hircine's disappointment in me which he will never be because I am his star pupil. So there." Sje stuck her tongue out at him and

    the illusion broke apart. Aela yelled in triumph and pounded the air with her fist. 


    Lightning struck and the tree trunk and pit disappeared and the sewed the crack up like a tear in a old shirt. Aela sighed with relief,

    at least her portion of the realm, she still had the real Inigo to worry about. She returned to the staute and followed the easterly

    facing serpent head until she came to a deep ravine with one dead khajiit and one dead argonian at the bottom. Also at the bottom

    was his brother, Felix he was starring at him with those sun-like yellow eyes and was yelling at him,

    "You did this Inigo, how dare you kill mother and father in cold blood, what in the name of Jode is wrong with you? From this

    moment on you are forever disowned as my brother."


    Inigo was on the cliff above the yellow khajiit cowering in fear and sobbing, his knees drawn to him chest in a fetal position,

    "Felix, I don't understand why are you doing this to me, we are supposed to be brothers together...until the end."


    'Felix' scoffed at the abomination he called a brother,

    "Brothers? With you? Hardly, I should have ran far away from you!" He gestured to Inigo's 'parants' and back to Inigo, see what you

    did? Because of your blue fur, mom and dad are dead! This is all your fault. I...I wish I never had a brother."


    This statement hit Inigo with the force of a warhammer,

    Felix, surely you do not mean this?" He covered his ears with his hands, "and sobbed once more, " I...I thought..."


    Felix stood with a bow and arrow trained on Inigo's chest,

    "Well you though wrong little brother, now you must die so Jode can be appeased, right now see is weeping for producing such an

    abomination of nature, ma the sands beyond the stars smiled at your untiimely viit.." He squinted his suuny eyes and fired. Inigo

    screamed for bloody murder and cowered behind his raised hands  as the arrow came whizzing toward him.


    Aela saw this and inched along the sheer cliff face to reach him as she did, she put her arms around him, trying to calm him down

    sayiing that what he was seeing was not real, it was the realm doing this to him. Before she could say more on the matter,

    lighting struck not far ffrom where they sat. The scene changed just as Aela's had, to something even more terrifying than the last.

    Inigo screamed loudly as a hungry, red eyed, black and white wolf stood mere inches from him, strings of saliva dripping from its

    teeth. The wolf lashed out, running after Inigo. The khajiit broke free of Aela's calming hug and ran as fast as he could. No matter

    how hard he tried, or how fast he ran, he could not out run  iit as the stretch of path that he and the wolf were on turned into a

    never ending treadmill. 

    Inigo's breathing came in short, heavy breaths as his legs struggled to keep up with his franticallyy racing mind. He dared not look

    back as he felt to wolf's hot breath on his neck. He knew the wolf was getting closer. While he ran past an endless sea of dead trees,

    his eyes darted this way and that in search of a hiding spot to hide from the visciously hungry wolf. He looked over and saw Aela

    gliding effortlessly beside him like a deer prancing through the forest.


    The wolf's chest heaved in and out as he could smell the scent of the terrified khajiit, who was constantly bobbing and weaving to try

    to gain the upper hand, well foot, on the hungy carnivore. The ravenous canine's feet beat the earth like it was a big drum as his feet

    matched the rythm of its paws. Killl, kill, kill, kill came the never ending thought in its mind. Just as it closed the distance between it

    and the khajiit, lightning struck. 


    The realm snapped back together like a rubber band rebounding after being stretched, it was no long an endless treadmill of death,

    the wolf had changed as well, it now took the form of an angry, green skinned Argonian. Hasir stepped forth from the shadows that

    now enveloped tthe realm and grabbed the khajiit by the tail, causing him to cry out in pain. The green-skinned snake yanked Inigo

    toward him and llifted him up by the throat, yet again, but this time he held the poor khajiit over a pit filled with deadly spikes.


    The Argonian leaned close and hissed in the khajiit's ear,

    "Sstupid khajiit, I know that you work for Molag Bal." He paused, looked into the khajiit's orange eyes and added, "One more thing,

    I will never evvver be your friend. I do not make friennddss with aa dryskin backstabber like you; you are fired, or in this case,

    impaled. Nice not being friennnddss with you, lossser."


    Inigo pleaded with Hasir to at least hear the voice of reason,

    "My friend...whatever I did, I am truly sorry, for the bottom of my heart please don't unfriend me, I promise I'll change."


    Hasir heard enough of Inigo's feeble attempts at an apologize and sent him to his plummeting to his death. Aela saw this and ran

    toward him as 'Hasir' stood above him laughing with mirth. She told Inigo to remember neither the thing masquerading as Hasir

    nor the spikey death trap he is about to become impaled on is not real. She asked him to believe it with every fiber of his being, only

    then, when he sees his nightmare as nothing more than an illusion, then they will they finally be frree of the realm, of Vaermina's



    Inigo tried as hard as he could to imagine himself landing safely on a hard surface and it came true. Vaermina saw all of this and

    congratulated the nord and the khajiit and told them not every mortal who enters her realm is not as smart as they are. Aela

    interjected and told her that it was all her brainpower and that the khajiit had a head full of rocks. Inigo stared at Aela taking offense

    to her attempt at belittling him,

    "Aela, I do not take kindly to being called stupid nor any variation of the word."


    Aela laughed and said she was kidding. Inigo, however, was not laughing. He was hurt at the jab that Aela took at his intellligence. 

    He turned toward the daedric prince and said they, more Aela than him, bestest every challenge she threw at them and demanded

    to be set free. Vaermina agreed but said the realm made those nightmares not her.


    Aela faced Vaermina with her hands on her hips,

    "Vaermina just out of curiosity, whose side are you on?"


    Vaermina cocked her head and asked her to repeat the question as she did not understand. Aela happily obliged,

    "What I mean is, are you some lone daedra out to get mortals or are you in league with someone? Molag Bal? Sheogorath? Hircine?"


    Vaermina bowed her head and told them that she worked with no other daedra as she prefers to merely help mortals, even if it is by

    showing them the things they fear the most.. She als said it chose this as her sphere because she likes helping mortals achieve their

    highest pleasure and overcoming their deepest and darkest fears, in short, she said that she was a teacher daedra of sorts. She

    realized that the nord and khajiit had real life to get back to and waved a golden hand in the air and created ahimmering black gates

    with a starry exterior appeared and bade the travelers farewell and said she will keep in touch.


    The khajiit and nord exchanged worried looks as they walked through the portal and returned to the waking world and the impeding

    trials that awaited them.