Creeper – the little scamp – chortled at me as I sold him my newly acquired weapons. I didn’t know anything about these ‘Daedra’ people, but they sure had expensive swords. Creeper’s the richest kid in Morrowind, I think, and he loves buying buying buying. Every 24 hours he seems to get 5000 gold from somewhere, and so I barter. I sell him a stolen sword worth 16000 (more than most people could dream of, by the way) and I buy back 11000 worth of stuff I’ve sold him earlier. I come back a day later and he’s rich again. By this process I made about 200 000 gold pieces, which is enough to feed all of Morrowind ten times over, I’m sure.
I sighed and sat down in one of the houses I’d broken in to. I tried to sleep for a while, but I couldn’t help but think… “Where am I going in life? Breaking into houses, raiding tombs, stealing from shops and shrines… Yeah sure, the pay’s good- better than any honest adventurer- but after a while, what’s left to spend the money on?” I’d spent the past two weeks talking to every soul in Balmora who knew anything about anything. I had trained with them each for days, paying their fees until my skills had honed to theirs. Hecerinde had taught me everything he knew about locks and traps, and from my knowledge, there is nothing in the universe that I cannot open. My friends, the mages, taught me how to conjure, enchant, allude, destroy… I learned the arts of speechcraft and merchanting. What was left for me?
I didn’t know why, but I found myself out of bed, my feet marching me to my door. I threw it open and made my way to the silt strider- a gigantic beast whose rider would take you to nearby cities for a price. I traveled to Caldera to meet up with Creeper, but on the way, an imperial guard watched me suspiciously.
“Carry on,” he said as we passed. I frowned. To this hour, I do not know what urged me to commit the crimes that followed.
I drew my ebony sword- (valued 15000) recently stolen from a Daedra shrine. He was an imperial guard- my brethren. Technically, I worked for him. He had no crimes against me, but mercilessly, my sword snapped through his cuirass (armoured shoulder pad?) and he dropped to his knee. Turning around, he immediately drew his weapon and hissed the charges of my arrest. I had three options. Pay a fine (some meager 500 gold), hard labour (and wear myself down for months) or resist arrest. A twisted grin marked my face. I answered him, and he replied,
“Then you shall die outlaw!”
He fell to the floor, lifeless, seconds later. Every Imperial Guard in town rushed at me, weapons drawn. Cynically, I turned to greet them. Finally, something to test my strength against. I had never met an opponent who could outdo me in battle- I have trained my strength and honed my swordsmanship beyond rivalry. I rushed at the bowman who drew his arrow. I slashed at his chest, cutting through his armour easily (for my sword was the strongest I’d yet encountered- just too damn good) and he staggered backwards, his arrow flying harmlessly past. I finished him before he could draw again. Spears, swords, axes and maces flew at me. I was pummeled, I do not deny, but I stood up every time I was beaten down. I was outnumbered but not outmatched, and when the pain grew too fierce, I drank from my potions and they brought new life to me, my wounds sealing themselves. One by one I conquered them, amidst the blows against me.
At last, the guards lay lifeless around my feet. I chuckled- nay, howled with laughter. I was undefeatable. I looked around eagerly, in search of more foes. A Telmer walked past. At least I think he was called a Telmer. Those little wood elf creatures. Yeah, those. I’m sure he had witnessed the battle, but he had not run, and he chose to pretend nothing had happened. This infuriated me. Could he not show respect for my might? I struck him down instantly, and at the back of my mind, a voice admonished me of another crime. In the far recesses of my conscience, I knew I had no right to kill him- he hadn’t offended or attacked me, but I was beyond compassion. I cared not how much damage I did anymore.
I ran through the streets, slaying everyone I encountered. I broke into houses, picking locks (now that there were no guards to stop me) and killing everything inside. My old trading partner (I had never learned his name) greeted me. The guard that watched over his shop met a swift demise, and he turned on me in rage. Taking a silver staff from his shelf (yours for only 600 gold pieces), he cast a spell at me. The spell missed, exploding on the counter, and I cut him down. I looked around and saw a plate with three gold pieces on it. Giggling, I stole them gleefully. How naughty I could be!
The Armourer hadn’t yet seen me outside, and he greeted me when I stepped through the door. His workshop was away from the others, and he was oblivious to my crimes. I smiled and inquired if he could repair my armour and weapons which had been damaged during the fighting. He did so with skill and swift hands, and I paid him happily for his services. A moment later, I killed him and was on my way.
I found myself at the inn- the orcs here had no quarrel with a fellow murderer. And yet when I slay the first, none came to his aid. One by one, I murdered them all, and they ignored their dying brethren. I reached the top where Creeper giggled maniacally. “Run Creeper,” I thought to myself, the blood dripping from my sword periodically. I didn’t want to kill such a long term partner, but everyone else was dead too, and it wouldn’t be fair if he lived. He looked up at me with red, beady eyes and I raised my weapon. “Run for your life while it’s still yours,” I urged silently, but he gurgled his reply. I could not spare him.
From his corpse I found the hundreds of items I had stolen and sold to him. I was a murderer. Shopkeepers, farmers, peasants, traders… All fell to my wrath, and still I sought more. I shed my Chintin armour which I had bought it when I first stepped foot on dry land after being released from the King’s Prison. All those moons ago, when I had first befriended Arville, the trader in Seyda Neen… Distant memories. I stripped my armour and sought through Creeper’s wares. I selected the Daedric Face of Inspiration – a helmet embellished in the likes of a goblin- and a like shield with blades rimming its edge. I dressed in Orcish boots and cuirass, strapping Ordinator gauntlets to my arms. So much had I stolen, so many had I slain… I took up the armour with clenched fists.
I stepped out onto the street again, staring at myself in the shop window. My breath caught in my throat as I saw what I had become. I looked like a demon out of hell. My helmet and shield swore curses with every breath, and for a long time, I stood there, trance-like. It was some combination of reverent fear and sadness that bound me. I knew I was undefeatable now. My sword, painted red, trembled for more. The castle was on the hillside. I decided to search for blood there.
I threw open the doors and screamed, charging inside. My superior was the first man I saw, and coincidentally, the first to stop seeing from his lifeless eyes. I was expelled from his house, I noted grimly. Not that it mattered. No one in the castle had the chance to resist as I cut them down. I was unsatisfied with their passive deaths.
I was an agile and lithe fighter. A skilled acrobat who could jump over most people’s heads without effort. Combined with my uncanny strength and new armour, I was invincible. Admittedly, I was not use to the weight on my body (previously, my chintin armour had weighed about 40kg, and now I weighed 200) but it was strong and could survive a beating. Just like me. The Mages Guild was the only ones I had left untouched. Oblivious to the slaughter outside their door, I sheathed my weapon and stepped inside. They greeted me with warm smiles, admiring my expensive armour (some 100k, easily) and I asked to be transported magically to another town. I didn’t care where, so in a flash of light, I found myself in the Wolverine Hall. These mages were strangers to me, but knew of my ties to Balmora and Caldera.
Death, death, death. My pulse echoed in my temple as I dodged spells and drove my sword through pure hearts. I found my way outside and Imperial Guards started yelling and running at me. We were on top of a building from which no man could survive the fall, and they rushed at me upon a narrow staircase. One of them yelled at me, “Pay your fine of 3000 gold pieces, and return any items you’ve stolen, or fight!” I was dumbfounded the emperor was still able to forgive me after all the men I’d killed.
My memory dulled. Perhaps I had been struck in the head, or perhaps the mindless killing had driven me to a point beyond apathy. At some point I vaguely remembered climbing the great pyramids of Vivec and desecrating its Inner Sanctum (not to mention killing its god). Nonetheless, when I next regained conscious awareness, it was night time, and I was watching a small encampment of merchants. It was almost a village, with a few grand buildings. The guard (although I couldn’t recognise his armour, normally indicative of the council he worked for) attacked me before I could even draw my sword. I wondered why for a moment, before running at him to break his bow before it could fire. I had done nothing to offend this man or his guild and he had initiated combat with a demon. It was too late for him.
I crept away to the top of a nearby hill and watched the traders surrounding the campfire. I saw another guard, like the one I had just slay, and wondered if he would provide any sort of fight. I leapt from the hilltop and fell to its base. I was an acrobat, and as well as jumping, I had learned to fall. Without breaking my legs, either. Upon seeing me, half a dozen guards, maybe more rushed out. These were no imperials. They were skilled and varied in different styles of combat. I was assailed by arrows and greater demon-like creatures materialised before me. Was it necromancy or just summoning? Either way, spells hit me from all sides and I felt my muscles weaken. These guards were far cleverer than my previous foes. My armour weighed me down as my strength waned, and I struck at with my sword weakly. They kept out of reach as I was unable to move from the bulk. They were using some kind of enervating spell.
Unable to move, I drew scrolls from my bag and fired spells at my opponents. I healed magically every time I was in danger, but fought viciously for my survival. Secretly, I wished they would be the death of me. I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I might die, and so have eternal release from my hateful life. I had but two restore health potions left, and still half a dozen to kill. Time slowed, and I shed everything that was weighing me down until I felt ready to move again. I struck down the archer that had been just out of sword reach and I moved swiftly, attacking the others. They fell before me- I wasn’t sure who was doing what. All I saw was the red of their uniforms and I attacked without mercy. Archers, warriors, mages, they were all my enemies, and I no longer cared which died first.
Their corpses lay in circles around me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of light as another beast was summoned. Neither of them could reach me from where I was standing, for the market stalls separated us. ‘So one remained,’ I thought to myself. Was it minutes or seconds that passed? Either way, I took a moment to breathe before I dashed forwards and cleared the stalls, leaping over them. The beast turned to face me and raised a claw to strike. My sword got in first, and it staggered, wounded. It lunged again and I threw it off and finished it. The mage ran backwards, not taking her eyes off me and summoning another spell. A ball of white mana appeared between her hands, and as she threw it at me, as I dashed forwards to stop her. A demon sprouted from where the magic hit the earth, but without its mistress to sustain it, it burst into flames and vanished.
I looked around. Another encampment slain and I was still alive, albeit weakened. Furious, I searched for more victims. Would I ever have my release? Blood dripped from my armour as I pushed open the door of a building. I killed the first person in sight, and I suddenly realised I was in the Thieves Guild. I had betrayed my code of honour. I narrowed my eyes and fought as all the thieves nearby drew their weapons. They all died effortlessly. Next, I found an alchemist. A guard (like those I had slain earlier) was in the shop with her and he lunged at me instantly. On his own, he was no challenge, but the alchemist didn’t seem to mind. There was no different from killing her and chatting with her- so dulled were my senses, and so feeble my conscience.
“I’ve heard there’s a price on your head- a large one, too. You’d better watch yourself, Xin,” she said when I talked to her. I smiled, surprised she didn’t flee. Warily, I browsed her potions. ‘What’s this? Exclusive Restore Strength?’ I made a quick selection of potions and purchased them all, drinking them on the spot. I felt my strength almost double as it restored to what it once was. Those mages were tricky, but not tricky enough. I thanked her, and killed her.
I found my way to the council club. I killed them all, and was reminded that by now, surely I had earned the death penalty for my crimes. No amount of gold could repay the lives lost. The building of the Council was an interesting one, and it spindled down into the depths of the earth. I killed everyone on my way, not caring who they were. Some of them fought back, but were no match for me. I killed a priest, too. I only realised this after he was dead, and I was staring at the shrine of the inner temple. ‘I don’t think I will ever become a bishop now,’ I noted grimly and finished off his acolytes. To my surprise, I found a small shrine. Shrines accepted donations of gold, and in return, gave blessings. This one only asked for 5gp per blessing, and the grace of the gods restored my abilities which the mages had cut down earlier. Retaining my full strength and with added grace and agility, I carried on my slaughter.
It was a beautiful building, with natural crystals glowing in the walls, amethyst, azure and emerald. It was a shame I didn’t know where I was. I found a door that led to the balcony of what appeared to be the council chamber. I jumped down to the floor, so very far below, landing with minimal injuries thanks to my acrobat training. The room was circular, shaped around the largest crystals I had ever seen. A shade of violet, they stood taller than I. On four pedestals, raised high above the ground, the four elders watched me, waiting for what I’d ask them. Swiftly, I climbed and leapt onto the first dais and killed the man. I jumped to the second, and so progressed to smite them all. There was one door left to take in the building. It led to what was apparently called the Hermit grounds. Curious, I went down to investigate.
A long slide led to a small platform made of wood. A few chests, a few books and a hammock. That was all that adorned the place, and here it was a woman stood. She knew nothing of me, having no contact with the world so far above, and I sheathed my weapon to talk for a while. I’m not sure why I didn’t kill her outright. I guess it was loneliness. She was beautiful, in her own way. She didn’t seem human, that was for sure. Perhaps she was a Dunmer- a dark elf. I admired and praised her, and she smiled at me shyly and laughed. I stayed for a while, throwing compliments at her. Half of them she believed, half of them she rejected. I was skilled at speechcraft and charisma, and made it my goal for her to fall in love with my charm. I was a stranger, and still she began to love me. Nothing I could say or do would get her to admit it though, and
tiring, I drew my weapon.
I tired. All that running, all that killing… I lay down on her hammock for a while to rest the burden of innocent death that weighed upon my shoulders. When I woke, I realised there was no one able to stop me. If I had killed an entire town of Imperial Guards, then there was no challenge left for me. I got up, refreshed from my sleep, and made my way further down. All that remained was a sort of grotto- a cavern filled with water. From my experiences, people hid things in the water- chests with valuables, bodies with valuable, valuables of value… My months of thieving had taught me a lot about treasures and tombs.
I dove into the water, drinking a potion of Night Eye. At first, I had intended to search for gold of some sort, but as soon as I hit the water, I felt a great peace. Alone, by myself, in the heart of darkness. I felt the need to breathe, and I looked up at the air above me. I could have reached it if I wanted to. I treaded water for a while, neither sinking nor falling, and took a swig from my potion of water breathing. I didn’t want to surface just yet. I looked into the depths of the water, and I was surprised to see me staring at myself. The harder I looked, the more solid my reflection. How, I wasn’t sure, but it intrigued me. My lungs begged at me, and I took another gulp of potion. No tears spilled from my eyes at I stared at the monster I had become. I drew my sword and stared at it. I looked into the black abyss of my helmet that served as eyes. I looked at the other potion of water breathings that I had in my bag, but I ignored them. Some day, when my body was found, people would know me as Xin the Terrible, and they’d wonder why I didn’t drink. Maybe I died before I could. Maybe I forgot. Maybe someone had killed me and dumped me in the water. Only I would know that I did not want to drink, and I would take it to the grave. I expelled the last of the air in my lungs and sank to the bottom, taking my armour, my legacy and my heavy conscience with me.