Sometimes, especially in MMOs, my love of writing and designing games intersects with my current MMO. One of my current MMOs that I am involved with has done that – The Elder Scrolls Online. When one looks at the entirety of The Elder Scrolls, one might see that this was inevitable. I am working on an adaptation of Dungeon World to The Elder Scrolls – the World of Tamriel. But that is for the future. In the present, to work on that, I created a background for one of my characters in ESO- my main, Qasim ibn-Muhammad, a Redguard DragonKnight in the Aldmeri Dominion. In the mechanics of the game, that works as my account has the any race, any alliance upgrade. But lore wise- not so much. So I created this background for him. I hope you enjoy reading it.
Name: Qasim ibn-Muhammad
He is someone of import in Hammerfell
There was some sort of political intrigue that brought him to the AD
He was betrayed indirectly by someone in the Queen’s confidence, causing the loss of his charge
With much effort, I have remembered that I retained my personal honor, even as my family discarded its own. My brother brought the family to ruin, conspiring against our rightful Lord with the Forebears in exchange for temporal power. I held to the honor of my father, even in defeat as I watched my Lord struck down. In accordance with his wishes, I helped his wife, Mariah, and son, Khafiz, escape into exile. My eighteenth birthday was the last that I saw of my homeland.
The next decade I spent watching over Khafiz, now my rightful Lord. For the first couple of years, we moved constantly. There were a few incidents- honorless bounty hunters for the most part- in those times. But to my honor, none came close to succeeding. As the hunt cooled and money became tighter, we settled in the Summerset Isles. Though far from our land and very alien, we thrived, and in truth became more like a family than a protector and his charges. Far from home, with the young Lord’s blessing, Mariah and I found comfort in each other. As Khafiz reached majority, he began to pursue his birthright, engaging in diplomacy as an adviser in matters dealing with the Redguard; he became well known for his insights. These two things- the lessening of my vigilance and his increasing profile led to my final failure.
No matter what else I’ve forgotten in my time in Coldharbor, I’ve never forgotten that last day. It was a morning like any other. I heard the chirping of birds as I arose- the smell of the impending rainstorm was in the air. Though this was not my land of origin, it had become my home- the home of my family. As I stood to my feet, working my shoulders to get the stiffness out of my joints, I made my way to the door that opened to the east. Sliding it to the side, I inhaled the fresh morning air as I stepped out to contemplate the rising sun as I knelt before Satakal, sensing his touch in the air. Making my supplications, I noticed that my thoughts wandered, and the glory of death and rebirth did not embrace me as usual- it felt more rote than anything. The day was pregnant with possibilities, and I dwelled upon them rather than accepting them as their due.
Standing, I made my way towards the lacquered wooden bowl that had collected the rainwater, and splashed the contents on my face. I knelt before my blade, and bowed, meditating on those that had gone before. My father- dead before his time. By the hands of those that I now sheltered with. My Lord’s father. Dead before his time, also. At the hands of a brother that I hoped to send to join them in due time. Taking the curved sword from its stand and the shorter long knife, I belted them to my side as I made my way to the practice grounds.
The young Lord’s reputation and honor had come to such that the estates were generous; with such came the obligation to secure additional guards. Though we’d not had the time to gel as a fighting force- that would come with spilled blood and shared tales- they were competent, drilled and vetted to my satisfaction. I passed them without a word as I entered and passed through the central court, not wanting to distract them from their task. I sensed their awareness of me, and felt some trepidation as if they sensed the aura of death that clung to me as I passed. At that point, I became certain that it was not just me. If only I’d done more to convince the young Lord, but as duty and honor had led me to warn him, after he brushed my concerns aside, the only honorable thing to do was to to prepare for the coming storm.
I shed my slippers outside of the practice area, then stepped into the ring. Once my feet touched the wooden surface of the arena, all thoughts left my mind. Such thoughts could wait until later- the steel arts require clarity of mind and purpose. Drawing my sword from my belt almost silently, I raised it above my head in a two handed stance. The movements were fluid, and had a mesmerizing quality to them- neither fast nor slow. Appropriate speed. Standing there motionless for several heartbeats, I finally flowed into action as the blade’s spirit consumed me. No conscious thought entered into my mind as I became one with the silvered steel in my hands.
The sound of a muffled cry brought me out as my consciousness expanded back to encompass the world. I knew not how long I had been practicing, but I noticed that the sun was obscured, the sky a sick grey colour. Racing towards the sound, my heart fell a little as I realized that it came from the exact point that I had implored the young Lord to reinforce just 2 days before. Running into the main courtyard, I was greeted with a tableau out of some nightmare- human and elven attackers and inhuman corpse-like creatures swarmed over the defenders, rending limbs and feasting on dead bodies.
Without regard, I abandoned conscious thought as I launched myself into the fray. This was no glorious battle- it was a fight for survival. Blocking one creatures rusted blade, I deflected it upwards and disemboweled the foul smelling fiend. Following the stroke through, I decapitated what looked to have once been a man as he attempted to flank me. Quickly I slid to the left, driving another opponent’s blade into the soft earth, and then completing the move with a devastating return stroke that took his head. Sensing a presence behind me, I reversed my blade and drove it back, feeling it impale another enemy.
I looked around. My home was on fire. The great house was burning. All was madness. Shadowy figures cut and killed in the gloom. My first thought was to go look for Mariah, but I suppressed that thought with ruthless discipline. The young Lord was the priority, no matter what. But, the courtyard had become an abattoir, and nowhere did I see the him. At this time, there was nothing for it but to fight, no matter how hopeless the odds seemed. Every sense alert, I raced to the main house, thinking that was the most logical place for the young Lord to claim sanctuary.
Chaos ruled in the main house, as people raced to and fro, struggling against the seemingly unstoppable force, and in some cases running from it. True, the enemy radiated a palpable aura of terror, but that was no excuse. I inspected my own soul, and found that there was fear there, but not overwhelming. I had prepared myself for this death every day of my life, and now that it was likely here, I could deal with it. An overriding duty to the young Lord squashed all other feelings within me- even the brief thought of Mariah. As long as Khafiz lived and thrived, I could die knowing that I had fulfilled my vow.
Coming to another clump of battle within the main house, things became more deadly. The fire raging about made sight nigh impossible. And though the walls would not stop the swing of a blade, the heavy wooden beams that held them together could deflect an otherwise on target blow, making combat a chancy proposition. I ducked the blow of a warrior, and swung my blade underhanded, catching the man through the chest. I was surprised to see a fountain of blood spew forth, as bones parted before the blade and entrails billowed forth. I turned just in time to duck the sweep of another man’s weapon, then jumped over his return swing. That was when one of my previous opponents took his opportunity to strike back from the grave, as I landed on his head, upending in a pratfall.
With my wind taken by the fall, the second warrior lashed out at me, and I barely managed to deflect the blow with my blade. Impaired by my unfortunate position, it was all I could do to brace the blade in a parry as he pressed his attack. Launching a desperate riposte, I sent my opponent reeling back. In the moment of respite, knowing that it was only a matter of time until my position became a lethal detriment, I took a terrible risk, kipping up to my feet, hoping that the viscera and bodies wouldn’t send be back to the hard floor. Coming to my feet, I barely leapt aside in time to avoid my new assailant, taking a nick on my leg as I did so.
As the man swept past, I lashed out with my blade, catching him with a terrible blow to the back of the neck. The man’s head came cleanly off, and his body staggered on a few steps, not knowing it was dead, before crashing through a glass cabinet and falling to rest. Fighting with perfect coordination, my only thought was to make it to the young Lord. My mind was crystal clear, cold as a mountain stream. I felt strong and fast and barely felt the pain of my many wounds.
The house was quickly going up in flames, and I knew I would have to find the young Lord quickly or all would be lost. Taking a quick glance around, I saw forms moving in the darkness, shadows dancing in the flames. As I looked around, I saw Khafiz on the ground, dead. Under him, as if he had tried to protect her to the end was his mother. I’ve never felt such despondence or despair- even when abandoned by my family. I gazed to the ceiling with sightless eyes, hands still on my blade, dead enemies all around.
Horror took a grip on my heart- more intense than any the inhuman foes outside radiated. The focus of my determination was gone- the last heir dead. It was simply not possible. Cutting my foes down like chaff, I forced a path to where my family lay. Kneeling, I felt the young Lord’s brow, and found the flesh already cold. Touching Mariah’s throat, I found no pulse. Grief filled me, and for a moment I was paralysed by it.
Only the sound of footsteps thundering towards me broke me out of my reverie. Instinctively, I shifted Mariah’s corpse, and cut the man off at the ankles, reversing the blade and sheathing it in him with finality as he fell. Allowing myself one last moment of sentiment, I kissed Mariah’s cold lips, softly, tenderly. Then, my heart hardened to something as cold as the young Lord’s corpse. There was nothing left now but to die. And to take as many of this unnamed enemy to hell with me as he could. With this thought, everything sharpened to a fatal clarity, as the world seemed to slow down. Death’s mouth yawned wide as I became aware of everything, from the smell of fire and blood in the air to the notches on the blade of the warrior coming towards me. I saw by the way that the man was limping that he had twisted his leg, though it was not slowing him much. As the man raised his blade for the blow that would decapitate him, I erupted into action. Kicking the man in his already wounded leg, I sent him off-balance. As he fell, I unsheathed my blade from his compatriot, and split his skull like matchwood. Rising to my feet, I waded into the main force of the enemy, killing as I went.
Drawing my short blade, I stormed forward like a whirlwind of death. I fought like a god. Nothing could withstand me. From somewhere deep inside, I watched as if from a high precipice, directing my body as a precise engine of death. I knew no fear, hate, or anger. I felt only the need for vengeance. How many did I slay? How many grains are on the sands of the beach? How many stars are in the sky? Let us say that I knew only that when I reached hell, many faces would greet me, and I would be glad. I became used to the look of fear on my enemies faces just before they fell before me. For a moment it seemed that alone I would turn the tide of the battle, as the survivors fed on my ability and formed a wedge behind me.
But it could not last. I bled from dozens of small cuts. Suddenly, I became once again conscious of pain, and returned to the level of being human. Weariness overtook me and I felt myself slowing as strength leeched from me. I deflected a blow from a rank-smelling warrior, stepped back out of the way of a second swing. The edge of the blade tore my tunic, and left a bloody weal on my chest. I let the blade pass, stepped in, and sliced the man’s hand off. A second blow sent the thing to the grave for a second time. Behind the falling body were many more opponents. It seemed that for every one I killed, two more stepped forward to take their place. Not that it mattered. I was just intent on taking as many of them to hell with me as I could. I was only sorry that I would not be able to kill them all before I died.
A flurry of blows overwhelmed the next two assailants, and then I knew my strength was spent. There was nothing left to use. I was fighting now only on instinct and reflex. My blows lacked the killing power they once had, and I knew that my remaining life was measured in heartbeats.
As this realization struck me, I saw that the battle was centered about a great being radiating death on the outskirts of the courtyard. Recognizing the aberration, my eyes widened. “A daedra,” I whispered. The demon carried a great sword, more than any normal man could carry, let alone wield. As it sliced through the ranks of the guards, it trailed glittering mist, like the morning fog, before ending lives with the great strokes of lightning. All the while, the monstrosity shouted some gibberish, but I recognized the name “Molog Bal”. The daedra seemed to sense my presence, smiling a grim smile in challenge as he spitted an unlucky warrior on his huge blade. “That one,” I swore. “That one will die before I am through.”
As I made my way across the courtyard towards the beast, it turned and saluted. My eyes narrowed.
“I am Shabriri Raum,” the hulking daedra said in a chilling bass voice. “And I am going to kill you.”
“I am Qasim ibn-Muhammad,” I heard myself respond. “Go ahead and try.”
The demon’s flaming eyes seemed to radiate hatred as we faced off. I could hear the sounds of combat around us only as a far away din. Time seemed to contract into a single point. Then, I caught a flickering glance that said the creature was about to attack and glided back as he struck.
The daedra was fast, no doubt about it. Even with the warning, I had to deflect the great blade to keep my head on my shoulders. As I did so, the oni kicked me in the midsection. The shock of the impact sent stars flickering before my eyes. As I tumbled backwards, corpses squished under my weight.
Already the dark figure’s great blade was descending in a blazing arc, ionizing the air in its wake. Barely able to roll aside, I was covered in blood as the blade bit into the dead body below with a sound like a butcher’s cleaver hitting a side of beef. I lashed out with my blade, trying to take the demon down, but he leapt over the gleaming sliver of steel, bringing his blade down once more. This time, I managed to get my blade in the way, but the force of the blow forced the back of the blade into my chest. My hair stood up on my head as the demon bore down on the blade, trying to bring my life to an end, but I was able to fend him off with a kick to the midsection. The demon was barely moved by the force of the kick, but the momentary respite gave me a chance to regain some measure of footing.
Rolling, I scrambled to my feet just in time to avoid another blow. The demon seemed to be gaining strength, even as I burned through my reserves. Parrying another blow, I was knocked sidelong, and barely managed to roll with the force of the impact. As I came to his feet, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye.
“NO! LEAVE HIM! HE’S MINE!!” the demon roared. I tried to turn, and was just able to make out the form of a human warrior before a blade flashed across my vision. Instinct kept my head on my shoulders; I was able to turn just enough so that the blade took me in the shoulder rather than across the neck. Darkness descended even as I collapsed to the ground among the dead and dying. From this strange perspective, I saw the daedra step over me and disembowel my assailant, raining blood, entrails, and worse down on my prone body.
The daedra put the great blade over his back without looking at me, walking away.
“He’ll do. Bring him,” were the last words I heard as unconsciousness took me.