Truth, Lies, and Spriggans
Narova found a yellowing elk skull in the brush and figured she could use it as a pot.
She got a fire going—careful to set it up in a depression by the creek, and away from any trees that would reflect the orange light—and boiled the Canis Root she’d found in some water.
Getting mind-raped by a sword and slashed across the neck with her own dagger screwed up Narova’s navigation a little bit. She’d accidentally blinked over to the east side of the aspen forest where everything was moss and tangled vines.
Narova did not want to stay there, but she was afraid to use the mask again while she was hurt.
There were torchbugs blinking all around, and the air smelled musty. Full of fungus spores.
A few torchbugs flitted over while the water boiled. She snatched them between two fingers, crushed up their glowing juice, and threw them into the pot.
“Can’t hurt,” she muttered to herself.
After a half hour, Narova poured out the water and ground the softened root into a paste using a small stone. She pressed the brown mixture into the wound—packed it all the way into the cut—and wrapped the entire thing with a few bolts of silk. Tied the knot with her teeth.
She needed to rest. Her left arm would useless in a fight. Vergun had his sword and his armor back. Plus he had her dagger. Overall, things were not going very well. Narova closed her eyes and fell into a heavy, dreamless sleep.
At dawn, the Spriggans arrived.
She awoke to a groaning sound as three of them approached into her meagre campsite—wooden skulls and creaking limbs melting out of the heavy forest. There was a buzzing sound and a greenish haze that came with them.
Narova twitched a few of her tattoos.
“Narova Morth-Al-Baradras, we have not come to kill you,” the middle Spriggan said in a voice that sounded like an old, leafy whisper.
It was the first time Narova had heard her full name spoken aloud in eleven years. The sound made her mouth go dry.
“What did you come for, then?” she asked, eyeing the three creatures.
The Spriggan who spoke had a patch of red fungus growing on one cheek. He motioned for the other two to back away. “Keep an eye out for the Altmer Lord,” the Spriggan said to them. Then it sat down across from Narova—wood limbs folding over themselves.
“The Great Mother told us what to call you,” it explained, ignoring her actual question. “It is a strange name for a Bosmer. What does it mean?”
“The silent girl with owl hair,” Narova said quietly. “I never liked it much.”
The Spriggan seemed to consider this information very carefully.
“We came to help you, silent girl,” the Spriggan said.
“That so?” Narova said. “All I’ve ever heard of Spriggans doing is murdering wayward hunters.”
“Until now, a Spriggan has never met a hunter like you.”
“I’m not in the mood for vague comments mumbled out of wooden mouths.” Narova leaned back against an aspen tree, shifting a bit until she was comfortable. “Speak plainly.”
The Spriggan shrugged. “We are alike. Both of us born into the wild—children of the forests and the rivers. But we have forsaken our birthright. You, with those…markings.” He motioned to her tattoos. “And me, rotting from within.”
“The trees will not speak to us. They shudder at our touch, as they do at yours. We three have built this place—drenched it in the fungus of the Netherworld—so that we may have a home. But we are invaders. Usurpers. Many times, we have asked Nirn—the Great Mother—to end our existences. Our pleas have been ignored, until now. The Mother has whispered to us a quiet secret. She told us your true name, and said that if we help you deal with Lord Vergun, she will allow us to perish.”
“Why don’t you just stick your heads in a brush fire or something?”
“That is not our way.”
Narova shrugged, but didn’t say anything.
“Will you accept our aid?” The Spriggan asked after a while.
“No offense,” Narova said, “but Lord Vergun could cut all three of you in half with his dick.”
The Spriggan cleared its throat—it sounded like hundreds of twigs being snapped in unison. “The Great Mother warned us that you had a unique way with words. But you speak the truth, even if it is a crude one. We cannot fight alongside you. Our assistance would be of a more…strategic nature.”
“I don’t need strategy. I need some weapons.”
The Spriggan shook his head. “No. You need information.”
Narova squinted at the creature for a moment. There was a rage simmering beneath its wooden skin that she recognized. It was the same thing that Narova felt within herself.
“Fine. How’d you get tangled up with the Netherworld?” she asked.
“Akavarin has a long reach, Narova. Longer than you can imagine.” The Spriggan looked up at the clear morning sky. Sighed. “The Necromancer promised us a Skyrim without Nords or Elves making war over the soil. A peaceful land. A quiet rule. We formed an alliance with him.” The Spriggan shrugged. “We were deceived.”
Narova didn’t say anything.
“Akavarin spoke of you often,” the Spriggan continued. “He did not describe you kindly.”
“There aren’t many people who do,” Narova said. “He still holding a grudge over that apprentice I killed?”
“He does not care about Mordred the Puppetmaster.” The Spriggan cocked his head. “Do you not know what truly happened down in Mzincaleft?”
“Akavarin ripped my soul out,” Narova said, wincing at the memory of the ordeal. “And left me for dead in that pit.” She shrugged. “What else is there to know?”
“You should not have survived that ordeal,” the Spriggan said carefully. “The fact that you endured, and took such a large piece of the Netherworld with you vexes Akavarin greatly. “
“You lie,” Narova hissed. “That corpse-fucker would have come after me if that was true.”
“He does not know you are alive. And he certainly doesn’t know his lost strength that has been burned into your bones. He just know that it is missing.”
“How do you know about it, then?”
The Spriggan smiled. “Akavarin’s reach is long. But the Great Mother’s reach is limitless. And she is our only true master, just as she is yours. The power of the Netherworld makes you stronger, but you wield it like a child swinging a wooden sword. That is why Lord Vergun wants you dead—to take that strength for himself and turn it against Akavarin. To destroy him with it.”
Narova let out a breath. “Why don’t you help Vergun, then, instead of me?”
“Because that is not what the Great Mother told us to do.”
“You follow this Great Mother blindly?”
“Of course.” The Spriggan made it sound like a very stupid question.
Narova leaned back against the tree.
“Okay, then. Tell me how you plan to help.”