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Acquisition

Translated and given by the Nerevarine at the Shrine of Azura after giving him the Ancient Dwemer Tome.

Notes

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Memories of Dorana

by Lord Kagrenac

I am neither a romantic nor a poet. I am a scholar. A creator. The High Craftlord and Chief Tonal Architect and the one who is tasked with forging a future for our people. One might think that this would put me above emotional bonds and weaknesses. I had thought that too. Before Dorana.

It was late at night. I was working without sleep, fueled by pride and frustration. The project itself was trivial. An enchanted ring, meant as a gift for one of our allies. Yet, for some reason, the specifics were eluding me. It was maddening. No matter how hard I stared through the dim candlelight, the notes on my desk grew no more clear.

The room brightened, accompanied by clanking footsteps. I turned to find a soldier, bearing a lantern. I could not see the face behind the mask, but the short stature told me that this was not my usual guard.

"It's not healthy to work in darkness, my lord," said the guard, her voice bright and clear despite the slight muffle caused by her helmet.

She had meant it literally, setting the lantern down on a small table. I offered a grunt of thanks, turning back to my work.

"For all the good it will do. I'd need a dozen lanterns to even make sense of my own thoughts at this rate," I muttered.

Her head canted to the side. "Shall I go and fetch them, my lord?"

"I was speaking metaphorically, you..." I turned to glower in her direction, but hesitated. I could not see her face, but from her posture - the way she held her hands behind her back as though hiding something - I could almost see the grin behind the helm. I felt my brow furrow. It would be a feeling I would grow accustomed to. "You're being smart."

She shook her head. "No, no. I hear you're the smart one, my lord."

I grimaced, my eyes narrowing. No one had talked to me this way for years. I was too important a man to jest with, with too much important work to be done. I wasn't sure how to react.

"What is your name?" I asked.

"Dorana, my lord," came the response, followed by the slightest bow of her head.

"You are a bit...sunny for a warrior, Dorana."

She laughed. It was an uninhibited, hearty sound, not the light giggle you usually heard from ladies. Even warriors.

"Everyone says that," she reached over her shoulder and tapped the hilt of her warhammer. "Until I bring out the hammer."

It was the first of many conversations in that same room, at that same time. Just as my candle would start to burn low, Dorana would arrive with a fresh lantern and some clever quip. They were short encounters, at first, and sometimes they left me stewing. How dare this guard speak to my so informally? I am High Craftlord, and worthy of respect.

Yet, I never did anything to stop her. In fact, I found myself starting to expect the clanking boots and cheery greeting, glancing at the door as my candlelight started to fade. The conversations grew longer, my mood grew less sour, and I even managed a smile every now and again.

It was only months later that I realized I was no longer working late out of ambition. The projects were just an excuse. What I really wanted was the conversation. The companionship. Her.

It took more months after that for me to act on it. Such is my nature. I am patient. Meticulous. I act only at the right moment. And so, eight months after I had learned her name, I asked her to remove her helm.

"My helm?" she repeated, half mockingly. "Such an informal request. Are you feeling all right, my lord? Any dizziness or fever?"

"No. I'm quite well actually. Better than I've ever been," I replied.

I stood from my chair and stepped towards her. Even in the armor, I could see her tense.

"I want to see your face, Dorana."

She hesitated. Dorana never hesitated. "Why, my lord?"

"Because I can no longer bear the thought of such a beautiful voice coming from behind such an ugly helm."

"Oh," she said, stunned into rare speechlessness. She recovered quickly. "I could get another helm."

I laughed. For the first time in ages, I let myself truly laugh. Dorana's laughter joined mine, and in that moment, any tenseness or lack of certainty I had faded.

"All right," she said as the laughter died down. "As you wish, my lord."

As she pulled the helmet from her head, tangled brown locks fell about her shoulders and bright blue eyes opened in my direction. She was not flawless. A faded scar from some blunt impact marred her forehead and her nose was crooked from multiple breakings. She grinned sheepishly, aware of her unladylike appearance.

"Disappointed?" she asked.

"Never," I answered.

That is how I will remember Dorana. From those late nights in my workshop. From her rowdy mischief at formal banquets. From her laugh and her smile. Not from her coughs and groans as she struggled in her bed for those last two years, or her paling skin and teary eyes.

If only I had worked faster. If only the Tools had been ready sooner. The Brass God, the Heart, it was all for you Dorana. I wanted to bury the Tools with you here, for what good are they now, if they cannot restore your smile? But no, I will keep them with me, for one day they will take me to you. Without your light, this world is too dark. I don't belong in it.

No one does.

Location

Nerevarine at Shrine of Azura

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