"Relmyna! Relmyna, you need to get up!"
A familiar voice breaks the thick veneer of sleep in my mind. I open my eyes slightly to address the voice. My mother hovers over me, a wild, terrified look laying deep in her red eyes. Her hands soon yank back my blanket and grab my from my groggy stupor. Father approaches and puts a hand on the doorjamb, his hair and beard covered with slag. I squint, confusion being washed away by pure dread.
A mighty rumbles bursts from the bowels of Nirn, and tosses my footing awry, slamming me into the wall. My shoulder screams at the impact and my head rebounds off of the wall. My vision is obfuscated, and I reach up to wipe my eyes, to dispel some left-over sleep. Father is on the floor when I completely come to, blood trickling over his face, leaving a crusted wake on the soft wrinkles in his grey skin.
Mother runs a hand across his hair, loosening some soot from it, her fingers sticky with blood. She looks at me, eyes wide, bleary with tears. "Relmyna," she whispers, beckoning me with a jerk of a soiled finger. I walk over, shaking with a fear I've never felt. She motions for me to drop to my knees, and I do.
My face must be pale because she gives a frown and strokes my cheek, leaving a trail of ash and blood. "Relmyna," she whispered again, bringing her thumb back over the sanguine trail on my cheek. I can feel her smear the blood deeper into my skin, but pay no mind. "Relmyna, my darling." An edge of depression, agony, seeps into her gritty voice. "Get out of Vvardenfell, love. Red Mountain has erupted. Please, flee. I will stay with your father."
She lets go of my face and returns to tending to Father's wounds. Sparks of yellow and orange form in her fingertips, and she slides them along the wound. My eyes trail up, up to the doorjamb where a trail of blood trickles down to where Father now lies. "Get out of here, Relmyna! Ruhn is not safe! Flee!"
I wrench my eyes from Father's still form and jump over him, clumsy feet landing askew on the wood floor. I run, tripping on various possessions littering the floor. Another rumble breaks forth from the gut of Nirn, ripping me from my feet and into the ground. A bust teeters from the shelf and falls on my legs.
A seering pain traces up and down them, baring hard and taking away my breath. I push it off of me and hobble up, still a bruising pain forming on my thighs. I pay it little mind and barrel from the room, slamming into the wooden doorway.
The town is already covered in a toxic ash. I run a hand through my loose hair, red eyes slicing the scene, observing intently. I let out a small cry, but stifle it. "...Azura preserve me," I mumble lowly, my hands shaking as I trace the streak of blood on my cheek.
I jump off of the steps and wildly bolt into the street. Ash plumes up my skirt, leaving my legs gritty and uncomfortable. I dust off my skirt, flapping it as I watch, with a sore heart, lava pour over the sides of the volcano, destroying houses and mer.
I swallow, but my mouth does not respond. It is dry and ashen with the inhalation of dust. I cough, but my throat feels stuck together; my tongue attached to the roof of my mouth. I sift through the ash, my feet kicking up the powder and carrying it onto the wind. My eyes burn dry, so dry and dusty that not even replenishing tears glaze them over. My vision is dotted, grimy.
I hear a call, a call for help. My ear twitches and I trace the voice to a crumbled stone pillar. I can see wisps of blonde hair, and a pale hand, twitching from the pain. At least they are still alive. More red seeps from the gaping mouth, pouring unto the ground, and Vvardenfell heaves again, tossing me across the landscape.
My knees scrape through the dust and against the cobbled street, tearing back skin and exposing flesh. I cringe and gasp in pain as dust clings into the sticky, red openings, and attempt to stand up. My knees are weak and are threatening to give out. Struggling, I come up to my feet and shuffle over to the felled.
I look down to identify before heaving the stone off of the body. "...Frilja," I mutter, vexation giving an edge to my tone. Frilja, that brutish drunk that always walked up and down our street, throwing various things at our houses.
"N'wah," I respond quickly when the Nord raises a hand to push off the stone. Her eyes are bloodshot and bulging, face red and popped with pressure. The lady struggles under the rubble, mumbling something rendered gibberish by her slurs.
"C'mon, y' knife-ear! I'm trapped under this rubble! Help!" Her hateful tone drifts up to me and I shake my head, eyes narrowing. "S'wit," I growl, standing up with my battered knees. Fear wipes over the brutish face and she gives a choked scream, a scream cut out by a rush of blood. She gargles her last words through the blood before sharply inhaling, hands reaching up to rid the rubble.
Frilja dies before me, and guilt slams into my heart. I should have saved Frilja. I could have excused her angry drunken words, her racist slurs and helped the n'wah. Helped her up and healed her.
But I didn't.
I swallow again, before remembering that I couldn't. The dust plastered my mouth together in a thick paste, leaving it painful to open my mouth. I rip the tip of my tongue from the roof of my mouth and move through the dust, and scramble to the flanks of the city.
After running through ever thickening ash, I finally break the border. My knees still sting. I warm up a small healing spell and press my fingers gingerly against the wounds, trying to fix them, or relieve some pain. Warm, prickly magic enters my bloodstream and coaxes pain and ash from my knees, leaving them weak, yet tender.
I pull my fingers away from my knocked knees, tips blurry with blood. I wipe them on my skirt, ridding my person of more blood. The mountain screamed again, launching torrents through the sky and covering my village.
I scream, my voice ripping from my throat. Through tears, I drop to my knees and cover my face with my hands, shoulders shaking with violent sobs. My chest hurts and I shriek again, falling over and onto my side, covering myself in ash. Tears cut clean slashes through the midst of dust on my face, and I let them.
Hiccuping in sobs, I inhale mouthfuls of dust. It tickles my throat, and I bring myself onto my knees, hacking and coughing. I spit out mouthfuls of dust onto the ground, pawing at my tongue to rid itself of the pestilential ash. I gag as it goes into my throat, and manage to stand up, tossing back my head to cough loudly.
Plumes of dust come out of my mouth, blending into the canopy of smoke covering the city. I inhale, to get my bearings, but smoke fills my mouth, and now I am coughing, tears dribbling down my face. I gag again, the harshness of the irritation destroying my throat. I bend over and vomit some, clearing my body of food disturbed by the racking coughs.
I wipe my mouth with a weak hand and look back to the city, my eyes tracking to the smoldering remains of my house. Hopefully Mother got out. Hopefully she flees to Skyrim or Cyrodiil. Hopefully she's safe.
Through breaks in my coughing fit, I look into the street. A figure stumbles from the vestiges. It is tall, muscular, and I can see a ponytail pinned onto the head, waving in the wind. Definitions of pointed ears and grey skin come to me from the back light of fire and lava, and I scramble to my feet, running to greet the figure.
One in full sight, I give a weak sob and press my body against his, wrapping my arms around him. S'uth takes a hand and strokes the matted mass of ebony curls plastered against my back, absentmindedly picking out flecks of ash with his fingers.
"Sera," he mumbles, looking down at the top of my head. His hand drifts from the nest of black flame atop my head to my back, holding my being closer. "Relmyna, are you okay?" I crane my head slightly to look at S'uth, my eyes narrow.
"No, S'uth... no." He notices my discomfort and gently pulls me away from him, long fingers pressing down against my sore shoulders. Looking at his accented face; sharp nose, wide, blazing eyes and full lips bring me some solace in this state of desolation.
"Relmyna, Vvardenfell -- it's a lost cause. We needs to get out. Get a boat. Go mainland. Get out of Morrowind ." The urgency in his voice stabs me in the chest, and I give him a nod of agreement.
S'uth's hand goes up to my cheek, and he licks his thumb and wipes off the crusted blood and dust. He swipes it against his pant leg and looks at me again, his eyes voids of pain.
"Black Marsh or Skyrim?" I shake my head, sweaty curls flouncing around my face. I don't want to leave Morrowind. I want to leave Vvardenfell. S'uth patiently awaits my response, his eyes becoming flooded with saline tears. They trickle out, catching on his lower lashes and hitting his face. His mouth flattens into a line and I sigh, digging my fingers hard into my legs.
"Skyrim," I say after minutes of thinking.
"Good, sera." S'uth raises himself and helps me up. "We'll get a boat. Get off of Vvardenfall. Head to Skyrim." His hand still wraps tight around mine, and he tows me away from the city.
The volcano stills shudders and spews, still demolishing Vvardenfell, rocking it. S'uth lets go of my hand and runs ahead. I see his form enter a building with a peaked roof, and I smile lightly, in spite of myself. He was getting a horse, I quickly assume. A horse would carry us easily from Vvardenfell, to the docks lining the coast. We could get a boat, sail into mainland.
S'uth returns, a leather rein wrapped around his ashen, narrow hands. On the end of the rein he leads a horse. "Relmyna," he says, close enough to me that I can see the scars on his cheek. "Love, take the horse." The mare trots to me, and my eyes open. "…S'uth!" My tone has a dagger edge to it, and I refuse the rein from him. A tint of obstinence colors his eyes and he frowns.
"Relmyna," he growls, forcing the rein into my hands and closing my fingers around it. "The horse is too weak to carry two," his tone melted into restrained sobs, and his eyes closed, squeezing off the heads of tears. My hands shake as I rub the worn leather in my calloused fingers. The monotonous movement soothes the bubbles on anger and fear and Nocturnal-knows-what in my chest. He reaches out again, pulling a stray, matted curl into its approximate place.
"I'm staying behind. I-I'll get out of Vvardenfell." His voice held promises bound to shatter, and my fingers clench over the leather, nails digging into my palms and causing blood to blossom from the blackened soot. My face contorts into a mask of pure, unbridled pain and I open my mouth to sob.
The tears ravage my body, slamming my feelings around. S'uth calmly moves his arms to hug me close to him. I fold mine across my chest, and he strokes my back, fingers bumping over vertebra. "Relmyna, I swear my soul to... to Mehrunes Dagon that I will find you after you leave. I will scour Skyrim to find you when I arrive."
His voice holds love, but love is not solid. It is not physical. It is not seen. "Happy Oblivion, then," I whimper into his shoulder. There is no way he could get out of Morrowind. S'uth pulls me away, and stares into my eyes yet again, taking away some fear, replacing it with calm.
"Please, sera. Relmyna, I love you. Stay safe. Please." He stands up and runs back into the explosions, and I weakly bring myself to mount the horse. Blind, I slap the reins against the hide. It gives a whine, but carries on.
I gaze off at the landscape in front of me, in a complete trance. I pass through villages; each village is destroyed, covered in toxic dust. But not like where I was, on the mountain. Dead line the street like morbid décor, and I stifle a sob, a low, choked sound. I can't tell the time, even as I look up into the sky.
It is blanketed in a thick smoke, ash flying through the air like snow. The particles enter my wide eyes, and burn them, causing tears to form to expunge them. I ride on, and I don't know what time it is. My mission was to flee Morrowind like S'uth wanted me to.
I lost track of time long ago when I arrive in Sedya Neen. It, too, is covered in a blanket of white and grey, just not as thick. Boats are being loaded full of refugees, and I dismount my horse, running to a boat. An Imperial guard stops me, and he looks me over.
My face is covered in ash, blood, and tears. My red eyes must be puffy and pink from the endless sobs, and I must look famished. He takes note of my condition, his green eyes sharp and scrutinizing. He places a finger under my chin and lifts up my head, checking for marks on my neck. "Please…! Please, please!" My voice in ragged and torn and I push away his hands. "Let me on, please! I'm not sick! I'm well!"
Onyx ringlets fly around my face as I cry for help, mercy. The guard grabs my upper arm to secure me. I am shaking and I am seething, and I can feel his grip wrap around my skinny arms and twist the grey skin around. I bare my teeth and breathe through them.
"What is your name, Dunmer?" That nasal note of Imperial accent drifts to me, and I cross my arms.
"Relmyna… Relmyna Muluuh."
"Sera Muluuh… I believe there is someone waiting for you on the boat."