A Thalmor Sonata – The Last War

Nirn, Tamriel, High Hrothgar; 5E804

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“The real problem with monks,” Vaaj-na spat. “Is their insistence on living on mountain-tops.”

Alduwae just rolled his eyes and kept struggling up the slope.

The first rose-petal blush of dawn was splashing the eastern horizon. The Altmer paused only a moment to consider it, and wished they could rest and take the sight in; the view was utterly breath-taking. From this vantage he could see the broken spires of the Jerall mountains cascading down into the foothills of the Niben valley. If he looked closely he could just pick out one or two villages dotting the southern slopes. He wondered if anyone were still living in them. The ruins of Bruma to the west were a stark reminder of why they were making the climb. He did not look at the fires encircling the Imperial City.

Vaaj-na was ranting by this point. “I mean what sort of skooma-head decides to live in a place that takes 7,000 steps to reach?! And how do they know there are 7,000? Did some block-head Nord count them all? What of the ones buried in snow? Did his great Nord brain know they were there? Vaaj-na has known mudcrabs smarter than these Nords! This one tells you, brother, that when he is a monk (a Dibellan monk – IF YOU KNOW WHAT HE MEANS), this one will have his temple on a main road, in a warm, lush plain with many, many beautiful women to attend to his spiritual needs. Oh yes! Vaaj-na will be a great philosopher! He will spout philosophy much wiser than these Nord bear-faces and their fuum fuum fuum! Vaaj-na will say, ‘Wine brings great wisdom, but only if you have the sugar for it!’ Ha! Let the Thalmor and Imperials marvel at his great knowledge. ‘Vaaj-na the All-Wise’ they will call him, and bring their daughters to learn his tail-magic…”

Alduwae stopped and stared at his friend in disbelief. “Could you possibly speak a little louder? Maybe you can start an avalanche and bring the entire mountain down on us!”

“Do not start with this one! He remembers how you whined like a mewing kitten when we were lost in the Jerall mountains!”

“We were lost in a tomb filled with Draugr!” Alduwae protested. “And you kissed me!”

“This one kissed you so you would be silent! You were mewing so loud you may as well have invited the Draugr to kill us and steal our souls!” He pointed at the Altmer. “Do not think it! Vaaj-na is in no mood for your advances!”

Alduwae sputtered. “Wha…I…I would…I prefer women!”

“This one has seen the way you have been looking at him since he kissed you!”

“You two fight like an old married couple,” said Kaasha in wonderment.

The pair turned to see they had finally reached a plateau and Vaaj-na’s sister was waiting with arms crossed.

“Thank the gods!” Alduwae exclaimed. “Please tell me there’s a warm bed and a flagon of wine waiting for us.”

“This one knows your plans!” Vaaj-na yelled.

Kaasha krinned and actually chuckled. “I wouldn’t take him too seriously, Alduwae. Vaaj-na gets flustered when he has to exert himself.”

Vaaj-na shot her a dirty look. “This one resents your implication.”

“I’m afraid there’s no bed for either of you,” she beckoned them to follow her. “We’re leaving within the hour. I’ll see if I can find a bottle of ale for you, Alduwae, but Taltheron wants to see you both in the monastery.”

She said this just as they rounded the corner and beheld the ruins of High Hrothgar.

The monastery had fallen early in the Last War. Sunbirds had rained fire and thought-voids on the main structure leaving the towers shorn and much of the structure obliterated – whole sections had caved in, or simply ceased to exist. What had become of the monks was never clear; there were rumors that the first Nord berserkers flooding the Imperial Province were led by Greybeards, but that was centuries ago. And while Thalmor Justiciars claimed to encounter Tongues occasionally, none were masters. And now…

“Where are the others?” Vaaj-na asked, no longer jesting; his voice was hushed by the sight.

“Taltheron is in the monastery,” Kaasha told them. “Ra’zhiin and Kalas are preparing the Sunbird.”

Alduwae looked at her quizzically. “We…have a sunbird?”

Kaasha gave him a krin. “We’ve been busy while you two were kissing.”

Alduwae started to protest but Vaaj-na just shook his head and made for the monastery’s entrance.


Taltheron had changed over the last century.

They found him sitting cross-legged in the monastery’s main hall. He was dressed in his usual flowing robes, but long hair spilled over his shoulders all the way down to his waist. When Alduwae had first seen him months ago he took one look at his old friend and almost believed the Nords had returned. Now there was a long, braided beard sweeping the Altmer’s chest and Alduwae wondered if his friend had been studying the thu’um as well.

Taltheron opened his eyes when he heard their approach. “It’s good to see you both,” he told them. “I’m sorry there won’t be time to rest; events are moving quickly.”

Vaaj-na gave an exasperated sigh. “Surely this one could at least take a nap.” There was a hint of a krin on his face.

Taltheron noticed it and smiled, a little sadly. The Altmer rose; dusted off his robes. “Follow me,” he said.

They exited the back of the monastery into what had once been a courtyard. Whatever structures had been there were reduced to rubble long ago by the Thalmor bombardment and the Sunbird was nestled comfortably in a wide open space. Ra’zhiin was kneeling on top of the ship struggling with an errant feather-panel, while Kalas was tending the armaments. Vaaj-na tried to catch his brother’s eye, but the Khajiit was intent on his work. He seemed…uncharacteristically somber, Vaaj-na thought. They passed by the ship and followed Taltheron.

The Altmer halted at the mountain’s edge and stared at the snowy fields surrounding them as though lost in thought. These moods took him often of late, Alduwae knew, and tried not to be impatient. Taltheron was the reason any of them were alive. He had found Vaaj-na and himself struggling through the ruins of Skingrad, found Ra’zhiin hunting Justiciars in the Anequina badlands. One by one Taltheron gathered them and over the last six months defeated the Thalmor at almost every turn. The refugees of Cheydinhal owed them their lives, as did the Dunmer partisans in the east of Cyrodiil. Alduwae could only imagine what was coming next.

Taltheron pointed towards a band of scorched earth to the west. “There,” he told them. The two looked to where he was pointing. “That was Whiterun; founded by the Five-Hundred Companions of Ysgrammor. The Thalmor unleashed their Dawn magics against the city and now not even the mountain remains.” He gestured north. “Winterhold, who’s ancient College vanished into a thought-void at the beginning of the war. I’d spent a century there, learning from her wizards. And of course…Hammerfell.” His hand directed them northwest. “Where Thalmor geneticists first unleashed their ancestral-negation algorithms, sterilizing an entire generation. They wiped out the Ra’gada within a century without lifting their blades.” He looked down at his boots. “They wanted revenge for the Great War.”

Alduwae and Vaaj-na nodded. They knew well the atrocities of the Thalmor.

“And all, so they say, for transcendence.” Taltheron turned to face them, considered their expressions before moving past them; he sat down on what had been a pillar. Alduwae thought he looked very, very tired.

“Do you know,” he said. “I understand them? I understand their anger; a rage that consumes everything, and justifies everything. Lorkhan ‘spoke beautifully to them, and moved them beyond mystery and tears.’ So they sacrificed their power and created Nirn. And there they were: confused, lessened, broken. Their emotions were a cosmogony they could not know how to interpret. How could they but hate him for it? No, it is not hate that was the first sin of the et’Ada. It was their rejection of even the possibility of loving the world they had created.

“The Elves rejected the world and the humans rejected them.” He held his hands an inch apart, palms facing one another. As he spoke the distance grew. “They mirrored to one another their first rejections until the protonym of the world was Arena. It expanded, it grew, it intensified. Stronger, deeper, darker; until…until…”

“It would tear the world apart,” Alduwae finished for him.

Taltheron dropped his hands into his lap. “Yes,” he said, very quietly.

“This one does not mean to be disrespectful,” Vaaj-na said. “But he does not care for philosophy.”

Taltheron smiled and said. “What is it your brother told me? ‘Philosophy is the first milk Khajiit take from their mothers, and by the time they are weaned they are weary of it.’ Don’t you see, Vaaj-na, that is why Khajiit are best philosophers?”

“Just so,” the Khajiit agreed, with a krin.

The Altmer’s face became serious again. “I don’t tell you this for philosophy’s sake.” There was a pause. “The Imperials have found the Heart of Lorkhan.”

“That’s not possible,” Alduwae objected. “The Nerevarine destroyed it.”

“No,” Vaaj-na disagreed. “The Dunmer believe the Nerevarine only destroyed the enchantments that were binding it. The Heart has been free since the Third Era.”

“But what can they hope to achieve with it?” Alduwae asked. “The Great Constructs were destroyed long ago.”

Taltheron shook his head. “With it they will summon their ultimate refutation: the Numidium.”

Alduwae’s face paled.

“But it was locked away by the Thalmor,” Vaaj-na said. “The Mirror-Logicians imprisoned it in a pocket void.”

“’This Heart is the Heart of the World,’” Taltheron quoted. “’For one was made to satisfy the other.’ Do you really think there is anything they cannot achieve?”

The Khajiit fell silent.

“The Thalmor battled Numidium for millennia,” Alduwae told them. “If they see it summoned…”

“…they will unleash all of their Dawn magics against it,” Taltheron finished. He held his hands up, palms facing, and drew them slowly apart before looking meaningfully at them both.

Both of them understood.

“What must we do?” Vaaj-na asked.


Flame had lit in the heart of the Sunbird and it was eager to leave as they finished loading their gear. It beat its wing-panels impatiently as Taltheron spoke.

“There is a chamber beneath White-Gold that houses the Heart. They believe it can only be reached through the Tower but there is a secret entrance through the Green Emperor Way sewers. Be careful – the Thalmor have been laying siege for decades and only the gods know what they’ve released there.”

In turn each of them came to him and he prayed for them: strength, wisdom, guidance, courage. Ra’zhiin came last, watching the others receive their blessings and make their way to the Sunbird. There was a heaviness about him. Taltheron asked, “And for you, my old friend?”

The Khajiit looked at him with a terrible certainty. “None of us are coming back from this.” It was not a question.

Taltheron closed his eyes and Memory flooded him. Soldiers, poets, priests, friends…all had died by Thalmor blades. He remembered the laughter of a Bosmer, the sly cunning of a Khajiit, the river-like thoughts of an Argonian…and the violent joy of the Nords. In his mind’s eye he saw each one as they died.

“There is a kind of philosophy,” he said at last, opening his eyes. “That uses nothing but disbelief.”

“This one understands,” Ra’zhiin nodded. “And he asks that he might Believe.”

Taltheron placed his hands on the Khajiit’s shoulders and spoke the words.


Taltheron sat on the roof of High Hrothgar and watched the Sunbird speed towards the Imperial City. He imagined the Niben Valley black with Thalmor troops as Sunbirds traced red lines of fire against the City’s defenses. The candle towers surrounding White-Gold would pour the killing light of their world-refusals into the Aldmer lines and they would respond with Denial and Rejection; building, deepening, darkening. He could already feel the world-shaking of its approach.


Beneath the White-Gold Tower the last priests of the Last Men poured all of their hate, frustration, and loss into a prayer. And across incalculable expanses of space-time they were answered.


Beneath the streets of the Market District Alduwae scouted through the darkness, moving silently between the moss-thick walls. Even as he found the wall’s pressure stone and the door slid open he felt the assassin’s blades tear through him. He fell back into the dark waters, powerless as their teeth tore into his stomach. There was no pain; he marveled as a golden light seemed to open the shadows around him. She was there, and there was a child at her side. She reached out to him and laced her fingers through his. He was warm. He was held. He faded into light.


Kaasha waited in the shadows and knew she was going to die; she felt oddly detached about it. Thumbing her blade she joined her brothers, shifting to darksight, and watching for what would take her. When they came she was prepared for them and the scene played out like a Bosmeri blood-painting. Their blades tore her, their fangs sought her, and yet she danced among them, awash in the transcendent beauty of her own death. One fell at her side, another at her back; she saved her brothers a dozen times. Even as darkness swept in against her vision she smiled, she laughed, she knew joy in the deepest places of her soul. This was her offering. This was her love. She was swirling through Twilight in a world so beautiful it made her heart break. She swam in oceans of Roses.


Kalas’ eyes were blinded as killing light tore through him and the Sunbird sending them hurtling into an oblivion of fire. He rose through an infinity of life-times: love, loss, guilt, children. His wife’s hands massaged the knots in his shoulders as he wrote his epistle. And as his timelines converged he stood in counsel with the gods.


Vaaj-na dodged every blow that came his way and laughed at the sheer ineptitude of the Thamor’s blade work. A child could have slaughtered them all, he thought. How his sister would have appreciated the way he tore them down, the elegance of his movements, the sheer surprise that Khajiit could be so good. He did not see the void that took him, but fell through endless spans of time and un-time; through space and un-space; into the sheer vastness of that Beginning Place. He wandered without form, without mind, without Time, until Padomaic necessity dissipated him into ephemeral energies, only to recombine and reform him in perpetual permutation. He wandered without thought in a Merethic bliss of infinite mythogenic echoes.


The Heart of Lorkhan witnessed the last battle of the Last War, beaming infinite dreams of belief-ecstasy through the souls of Thalmor and Imperial alike, whispering world-betrothals and wonders unimaginable. Against so much pain it spoke beautifully, yearning to move them beyond mystery and tears to become mothers and fathers, to be responsible, and to make great sacrifices with no guarantee of success. But thousands of tortured Dwemeri souls answered with chiral-maze-cognizances of the presence of absence. The Heart shuddered, and the pure light of Possibility paled into the dark un-light of Disbelief.


The world trembled, and Taltheron knew they had failed.

The peace of High Hrothgar was not broken. Soft ice-petals of snow drifted down on light breezes to land in his beard. His tongue tasted the crispness of the mountain air. He smelled the last remnants of their campfire. He reached down to touch the smooth stone, hewn thousands of years before, that had housed the Greybeards. It would all be gone soon. It would all be lost. It would all be a Memory.

He did not see his friends die, but felt them. He did not see the cleaving of Nirn, but felt it. He was flying; he was falling. All around him the molten core exploded forth with the shrapnel of shorn machinations, burning the un-melting ice from the Throat of the World. He did not hear the screams as the few remaining Sloads fell into the Void, or see the last Tsaesci coiled around the corpse of his wife while sundered dreams fell burning upon him. But he felt their souls cry out and heard the Heart screaming in its agonizing, shattering loss of Faith. And Taltheron took it all into himself.

“Lorkhan,” he spoke to the Void as fire kindled his robes and shrapnel tore his flesh. “If you can no longer Believe…we will Believe for You.”

There was flame. There was light. There was the unending darkness of Denial.


The last diaspora fled as the world died.

Their ships were infinitesimal sparks glittering across the fields of Oblvion.


And for a long time, there was silence.

The moons would have waxed and waned, had there been anyone on Nirn to watch them. On the surface the lava fields cooled, darkened into magmatic rock, only to be relit when Time broke them, fielding new streams of fire. Within the Cleaving gears moved, broke and fell into the Void carrying Memories of grief and un-requited love; but most often they remained still, blinking their mathematical equations as if uncertain what they meant, or were meant to do.

Solar winds whistled through blasted crevasses touching nothing but desolation.

In the early days voidships made pilgrimage to the Remains. Perhaps they hoped for survivors, for some salvific remnant of what was lost; but all they found was ash. Some walked the surface and offered themselves as sacrifices to their Despair: whether in fire, starvation, or by a leap into emptiness. Eventually, the pilgrimages ended, and no ships made their traverse.

The stars shone; Magnus gleamed.

On sixteen plane(t)s eyes turned to consider the sight; they plotted and schemed for the few on the moons…but the Game had changed. There was no challenge anymore. There was so much desperation…it was like…playing with a broken toy. And the Lords looked long and hard at the ghost of their joy. And Memory whispered of better days.

And for a long time, there was silence.



On a day one hundred seven years after Landfall, a tiny spark – some might say a divine spark – departed Masser and slowly crossed the expanse to the cloven duality of Nirn. It did not stay long; but it took Memory with it; and perhaps a little more.


The Remains; 5E911

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Ra’zhiin closed the hatch behind him, and let out a ragged breath he did not know he had been holding. Removing his breathing scarf he made his way to the controls and set a course for Masser.

As he watched his home recede in the viz-screens there was a feeling building inside him; he did not know what it was…he could not decide what to call it. It danced and twirled with the new-found peace nestled deep in his heart – itself an unsought newcomer; and they sang together in polymorphous harmony. His fingers were twitching, and he knew what he had to do. He searched the cabin until he found sheets of papyrus and a stylus to write with.

Ra’zhiin took a deep breath and held it. In his mind he saw the faces of his friends and enemies; the young, the old, the living and the lost. He remembered the fires in the Imperial City, the carnage of Rimmen, the emptiness of Skyrim. The things he had seen… He had to find a way to speak them, to give voice to the feeling inside him. As the breath hissed between his lips the stylus began its work.

“Where were the Khajiit when the world broke? Khajiit watch. Khajiit record.

“But some Khajiit…fought.”

Tears came as words filled the pages. His sister, his brother, his friends…and Dro’kor. He sobbed thinking of his old friend and wished more than anything to smell the scent of the senche’s laughter again. All the years flowed out of him; all his questions, guilt, and fear. And his love. He saw in those moments that what he felt was Memory, but that form of Memory that has been saturated with love: to look upon it was to remember what had been loved and lost and to suffer its loss once again. But as the pages rushed past, as the stars glimmered their Aetheric light around him, Ra’zhiin stared into his pain and set it free – with ink, and tears, and Memory.

When the voidship settled into port Ra’zhiin was asleep in his seat. Beside him were the many pages of his Memories. The pile was haphazard and the words were not always clearly written; and later he would think that perhaps he had not always made very much sense. But the last page, lying on top, was written with a steady hand. Its final sentence, baptized in tears, was easily read:

Love overcometh all things.


[soundtrack: Opeth – Faith in Others - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFSRCZN843c ]

A KHAJIIT C0DA (cycle)

A Khajiit C0DA - http://forums.bethsoft.com/topic/1499155-a-khajiit-c0da/

A Khajiit Minuet: The Ghosts of Bruma - http://forums.bethsoft.com/topic/1502574-a-khajiit-minuet-the-ghosts-of-bruma/

A Khajiit Minuet: An Eight of Dwemer - http://forums.bethsoft.com/topic/1502870-a-khajiit-minuet-an-eight-of-dwemer/

A Khajiit Minuet: Dunmer's Cadenza - http://forums.bethsoft.com/topic/1503787-a-khajiit-minuet-dunmers-cadenza/

A Thalmor Sonata: Taltheron - http://forums.bethsoft.com/topic/1504985-a-thalmor-sonata-taltheron/

A Thalmor Sonata: Alduwae - http://forums.bethsoft.com/topic/1505539-a-thalmor-sonata-alduwae/

A Thalmor Sonata: The Last War - http://forums.bethsoft.com/topic/1506193-a-thalmor-sonata-the-last-war/


I. God in Heaven by soulwhirlingsomewhere

II. Thulcandra by Circle of Dust

III. This Womb Like Liquid Honey by Tara VanFlower

IV. Jupiter by NASA Voyager Recordings

V.A. Wide Open Spaces by Lycia


VI. So It Goes by Greg Haines

VII. Revelation by Nexus

VIII. Together We Will Live Forever by Clint Mansell

Credits (A Khajiit C0DA) – Khajiit Like to Sneak by Miracle of Sound

Credits (cycle) - : Faith in Others by Opeth