Journal of Anya Fire-Heart – Sundas, 17th of Last Seed, 4th Era, Year 201
“My Village and Its Destruction”
I have already written that my village was small, high in the mountains and difficult to visit. I have made mention that it was pretty much four buildings, one for each of the families that lived there – ours (blacksmith), the hunter’s family, the farmer’s family and the trader’s family. The hunter and farmer kept us all fed although we and the trader also had small gardens.of our own My father provided metal working services for the farmer and hunter and in truth father was a decent bow maker if you stuck to longbows and hunting bows. Mother was the healer and spiritual leader of the village and everyone respected her. The trader’s family provided for the rest of our needs but mostly he bought from the rest of us our excess and then traded it to the traders that would pass through the mountains. More commonly he loaded up what we sold him and took it to one of the other cities and traded them. We not only got by but to some extent all of us prospered.
There were other children in the village as I grew up, but only two were of importance to me becasue they were close to my own age. The trader had a daughter named Naomi whom he and his wife spoiled along with their three other children who were younger than her. She was the only girl my age or even reasonably close so by default we became companions and ‘friends’ although she was always condescending to me. For her, manual labor was something she paid others to do, including me. I was all to happy to take her money as we grew up but I had no illusions about our ‘friendship’ which would in the end painfully be played out.
The other was the lanky son of the farmer named Bronn. Well at least he was lanky until he hit about twelve. Then he began to put on muscle and his tall form as we grew older filled out and he became a strong looking farmer with a hansom face. If he wasn’t also dumb and smitten with Naomi I might have given him a tumble but he was so in love with her, I never got a second glance. I spent my days growing up between prayer and mediation with mother at the shrine, working with father at the forge and reading books under the trees. It was a peaceful and carefree childhood and that did not change much as my girl body transformed into a woman’s body. Bronn and Naomi spent their time flirting and engaging in other activities over the years that drew them to time alone together. Two beautiful people with no brains falling in love and me glad to be left out of it but that didn’t exactly stop my troubles with men.
I have it on good authority that I was considered a fair catch for any man. I have long black hair a well formed face and blue eyes. My body is well formed and covered with feminine muscle from the long years of hammering and swinging my father’s great sword. I suppose it is hard to gain the affection of men when part of the time you are covered in soot and grime. That said, I never missed a day in the sweat lodge after a hard days work so my skin outside the forge was always clear and fair but perhaps a little darker than most fair skin Nords becasuse of my time under the sun and near the heat of the forge.
As my girl body gave way to a woman’s I did receive more and more suitors. Some of them had walked great distances to see the girl who could hammer steel. All of them went away frustrated. Perhaps, if I had considered even one of them as a husband I would have escaped my village’s fate but my reasoning with each of them was they would have to come live with me and be the blacksmith’s husband or they could forget it. Given those terms they all turned away and left. My teens gave way to my twentieth birthday and I could feel my mother and father worrying I would be an old Nord maid. Naomi and Bronn on the other hand eventually started the ‘shacking’ part of their courtship as Bronn added a room to his family farm and Naomi moved in with them. Their courtship would be unfortunately short lived.
The destruction of the village came without warning. I was at the shrine to Talos in meditation when the attack came. The Thalmor are the ruling body of the Aldmeri Dominion and they have taken it upon themselves to enforce the ban on Talos worship. They are, as far as I have seen, ruthless in this endeavor. The first clue I had that something was wrong was the sound of a distant clash of steel and shouting. It woke me from my meditation and my mother who was also at prayer looked instantly worried. She got up and grabbed my arm.
“Follow me, quickly.”
Where we were going to go, I never found out. At that moment, a high elf in black robes appeared in front of us my mother turned from him dragging me behind her, but once again we only barely turned and walked a few feet and there was another dark robed high elf and he had a band of rough looking men with him. We were quickly surrounded. The high elves announced that they were empowered to destroy the shrine. I also found out during my later captivity that these high elves knew they were short handed so they hired a bandit clan of twenty men for extra muscle.
It was at this point I could see the smoke from the village. A lump filled my throat and I closed back to back with my mother. Neither of us was armed so what happened next was ultimately inevitable. My mother was labeled as a dissident and a traitor to the Empire by the first elf. She said nothing but I could see the smile on her face so I knew she would not deny it. That smile quickly faded as the men close around us cutting off all hope of escape. If I had possessed my fathers great sword, I could have made enough of a fight of it to maybe create an opening for both of us to escape. Without a weapon, I could see that struggle would only mean certain death for us. Killing me though was the furthest thing from these men’s minds as I would find out painfully later.
At that moment both of us were seized and our hands were bound behind our backs. They made my mother and i watch as they tore down the statue of Talos and then smashed the shrine to pieces. The altar then became my mother’s place of violation as several of the bandit men stripped her naked and then raped her on top of it with me watching. Eventually her screams fell silent because one of the high elves came forward and ended them.
“I sentence you to death.”
He then ran his blade across her throat. My tears fell as the blood poured from her throat and the light faded from her eyes. My screams were replaced with sobs as I watched her blood run down the altar and on to the stones below it. One of the bandits leaned over and spoke into my ear.
“Don’t worry, my black haired beauty, we have plans for you.”
They left my mother laying naked and bleeding on the altar. As we walked back to the village, I was struck by the silence. No hammering at the forge and no children playing. I was also struck by the amount of smoke filling the air from the direction of the village. The horror that awaited me there I can scarce describe. The Thalmor and bandits had set fire to every building and they were burning brightly when the village finally came in sight. Tears flowed down my face as the scene unfolded before me.
Every man of the village had been slain. I could tell becasue the bandits had beheaded all of them and placed all their heads on pikes. There was Bronn’s head as well as all the others in a row in front of the trading post. I also saw a several of the women’s heads as well. At first, my hopes soured a little as I didn’t see my father’s but then we walked by the forge. His head was on a slightly taller spike in front of the forge. His body had been thrown into the forge itself and was burned beyond recognition. His great sword had been broken and its two parts also thrown into the forge so it was warped and melting. I noticed that the bandits had a pile of their own dead nearby with wounds that could only have come from my father’s sword. He had died like a Nord. Despite my tears, I managed a small smile.
The survivors were herded passed the village to the open field just beyond the village. I could see a cluster of seven children. Apart from them was Naomi who was clearly shattered by events. She was bent over sobbing. The bandits moved me over and stood me next to her.
“Well, we helped you do this business. Time to pay up.”
The bandit was a gruff looking Imperial but he was the best armed and armored of the lot so it didn’t take me long to conclude he was the bandit clan chieftain.
The Thalmor mages who had arrested me and my mother were now surrounded by four other warrior high elves clad in golden elven armor.
“Yes. yes of course.” The high elf that had killed my mother then threw down several bags of gold he retrieved from his horse at the chieftain’s feet. “You can keep the two women as well. I am sure your men will have some use for them.”
Wicked grins appeared on many faces of the bandits.
“We will keep the children. They may as of yet be redeemed from this false faith.”
With that he, the other mage and the four guards mounted their horses and rode off with the children in tow on a rope. Naomi and I were left into the hands of a bandit clan. It would be a captivity straight from the depths of Oblivion.
Next: “My First Captivity”