The Three Witches: 4 – Arden

Perhaps it’s time I explained everything a little more explicitly.  Our parents were called Melomea and Tucrado and as you may have realised, our relationship was not the best. We have no brothers or sisters that I can recall, all of our parents’ hopes and dreams piled onto us. That went well from them didn’t it? The bullying got worse as I started to accept Vallah and eventually the rumours got back to them. It was someone I had hardly met. Some kid from a Hawk-Eye Roost, his mother knew our father. He went into our father’s shop and asked him if I was mad, if I had slept with the King and became mad that way, or had it been their fault that I was the way I was. The kid left with a black eye but I bore the brunt. My father was very off hands with emotions but this, this left a few permanent marks, including a scratch beneath my left eye.

From that point on, I no longer respected him, or my mother. She witnessed the entire thing yet did nothing. It sounds petty now in comparison to what’s going on now… Odhran and I are on our way to The Black Riage. We’re travelling along the southern border, along the River Septim. I’ve got no idea what awaits us there. There were rumours that  Morianna family may be somewhere up there in the mountains but the family has been in mourning for longer than I’ve been alive. They could be anywhere…they’ve left their ancestral home because well, they say there was a horrific accident and the family retreated from the world. I don’t know. I hope they’re there, somewhere. They might be one of the only people in the Steadfast who might know who Vallah is. I guess it’s only appropriate it’s started to rain.

After we were old enough to know better than to stay around and had the wits to stay alive on the boardwalks, I left. I didn’t move very far. It wasn’t as if I was marrying someone from the upper floors. I wasn’t interested in that, I’m still not. I felt with these voices inside my head that I didn’t really even know myself. I had put these walls up to explain away all my problems, given each of them labels and sorted them neatly into anxiety inducing draws that I never opened, or at least tried not to. I needed time to think, time to explore. I knew my floor of Auspar pretty well, perhaps better than most but who I was, that took a lot more. I found myself at the same Roost that kid came from. Apparently he was just a fluke. The owner, Arden Morson was a kind man, although given to fits of passionate zealotry for the Hawk-Eyes.

There were rooms above the main space, and although cramped, were offered for free if I helped out around the Roost. It was my first legitimate job since I had turned sixteen. Three years later I didn’t think I would go from night market tricks to looking after a whole brood of children. You should perhaps go visit him and from what I hear his fiancé Rose, he might help you remember when you were with him. It’s in the Lower Merchant district, although what floor and what landmark I’ve already forgotten.

Arden was a man of many ‘talents’ shall we say. He liked to keep his thumb in as many pies as possible, even if he didn’t really know what he was doing. That was where I came in. Sorting out his paperwork, ordering supplies and having to find updated images of all the Hawk-Eyes for the children. He loved his students, from toddlers to rebellious teenagers and was a great teacher, but he was a better painter in my opinion. He would encourage the little’ens to paint their favourite Hawk-Eye, or perhaps a famous bounty they had killed to mount on their wall for a trophy. His faith in them was never ending and the children started to believe as much as him. I on the other hand remained as much as a cynic as I ever was. Over the four or so years I was with him my opinion never changed, perhaps in part to Vallah.

She had slowly gotten frustrated with me ever since she revealed her identity. It may have been a conscious effort on my part but I tried to push her to the back of my thoughts. I had things to do, people to talk to, children to look after. I couldn’t sit in the corner of my room and cave in to her and do what she wanted me to do. She became unbearable. In the fleeting moments I listened to her, she would rage, then cry and apologise after. I was moving too slow for her, I wasn’t actively trying to free her from whatever prison she was in. Part of me thinks I was doing it to try and prove that she wasn’t real, that I could put a label on her just like everything else. But her voice gnawed at the inside of my skull. And that is reason why I stayed with Arden. I said he was a painter but his inspiration came from another place, the Undercroft Market