Journal of Anya Fire-Heart – Middas, 1st of Frostfall, 4th Era, Year 201
“The Heart of Dibella”
The carriage ride to Markarth was filled with anticipation. The feeling that my answers to my problems might lay in the Temple to Dibella had not left me but had more and more increased. When the City of Stone came into view, I was excited but I realized I need to attend to business first and I was here to set up the contract with Muiri in the Hag’s Cure. Once that was set up I would visit the Temple of Dibella and hopefully get some help and/or answers.
I talked to the guards who warned me that if I saw anything unusual to just leave it to them. I didn’t have long to wait before I saw something unusual. As soon as I cleared the main gates a man drew his dagger and approached another woman from behind. Before I could yell to look out, he drove that dagger into her back shouting “The Reach belongs to the Forsworn!” I drew the Ebony Blade and being that I was the closest to him by that time, he turned on me. He didn’t have a chance as in a single stroke I watched his head roll form his body.
The guards were little help as they told me to mind my own business when I told them about the Forsworn comment. Examining both bodies gave me a key from the woman (who was named Margret) and the man revealed little but I was then told to move along. As I was leaving a man named Eltrys approached me and asked if I was OK. I assured him I was and he told me that he hoped the Eight would give me peace. He dropped a note in front of me and then told me that it was mine and that it looked important. I played along and walked away. The note told me that he wanted to meet me in the Shrine to Talos. I pocketed the note but I had no desire to meet him. I had bigger fish to fry and what was going on in Markarth was obviously older and long term, so it wasn’t going anywhere.
I mean the whole civil war started here. Ulfric had fought back the Forsworn and then was betrayed by the Jarl because he had asked that Markarth be a place for Talos to be worshiped freely as the price for that deliverance. The Thalmor objected and Talos worship was outlawed. That was the last straw for Ulfric and the war began. I was born that year and my father always reminded me of it.
I headed to the Hag’s Cure where I met Muiri. She was surprised when I introduced myself. In the interview that followed Muiri revealed that Alain Dufont had used her to rob the Shatter-Shields and as a consequence she was pretty much thrown out of Windhelm and her relationship to the Shatter-Shields was destroyed. Alain had ruined her life and she wanted him dead for that. She also asked me to kill Nilsene Shatter-Shield because of their disbelief of her when she said she was used. She had lost them as a family, so she felt that family should be ruined. Motive really is not a thing for an assassin; our concern is doing the job and getting paid. I asked if there was anything else and she gave me two doses of Lotus Extract, a deadly poison that she wanted used on each target. Kind of her being a part of it I guess, even though she didn’t have the nerve to do it herself.
With the contract negotiated, I headed to the Temple of Dibella. Upon entering I was greeted by a single priestess named Senna. She told me the other priestesses were in seclusion and so the Temple was closed, but I could still pray. I told Senna my story hoping to be let in anyway. She listened intently but remained firm about letting me see the others. She did however do something I hadn’t expected she touched my cheek very gently. It was magical in that it was the first time another person had touched me like that since…well my mother. I asked about what could then be done, she mentioned instruction but also added that instruction was not being offered right now. She said I was beautiful to look at and she could teach me a lot but it just was not possible right now.
I have in my life never been approached by a woman before for sexual teaching which is what she was offering, no doubt in my mind. Strangely enough I did not internally object. Honestly, while men have been a bane to my life; women have been its anchor at least at times. Senna walked off and began to worship at one of the statues of Dibella. I thought for a moment but the one thing that drove my next actions is that I was still unsatisfied with the answers and the notion that my answers were here could not be dismissed. I walked over to the doors at the back of the temple, picked the lock quickly and headed to the basement.
In the basement room is where I heard the priestess known as the Mother invoking Dibella to guide them. I pushed open the doors and walked in. The priestesses were indeed in prayer and one of them stopped me asking me to wait for the Mother. The Mother was not pleased with me even when I told her my problem and how I was desperate for help. She told me the normal punishment for my actions was a period of servitude but she had another use for me. The old Sybil had died and they were praying to find the new one. Because Markarth and Skyrim are dangerous places they wanted me to go fetch her and bring her home. If I did this, I would be forgiven but also I would gain the Blessing of Dibella. She said that perhaps in this blessing I would find my desires restored and healing to my spirit. I accepted.
The girl was supposed to be in Karthwasten. I had to cut through three Forsworn at a bridge on my way there and found myself walking into the town in the late afternoon. There seemed to be some sort of dispute between the miners and some mercenaries sent by the Silver-Bloods. I didn’t concern myself with that and walked past them until I found a miner to talk to. Turns out I found the right person as this was the girl’s father. He told me his daughter Fjotra had been taken by the Forsworn at Broken Tower Redoubt. They had never been a problem before and they only took his girl. I told him his girl was the next Sybil and he, as the Mother had told me, considered it an honor. He offered to help me but I told him to stay safe and that he would hear from his daughter soon. Probably a letter from Markarth.
I headed to Broken Tower and after fighting my way past the outer guard, I entered the fortress. I fought my way through the Forsworn in the tower. Strangely they were all women. I found out the reason later but it seemed odd through most of the fortress. They fought savagely but in the end they all died at the my hand. It should stand to reason that the Forsworn and the Stormcloaks are bitter enemies. I finally reached the final room and for the first time I met a Briar Heart, men who have their hearts replaced by a Briar by a hagraven. The battle was deadly serious but I prevailed once again watching his head slip from his body.
In this last chamber I found a shrine and statue to Dibella, both had been desecrated. It became clear to me this man, this Briar Heart ,had been seeking to use the Sybil to gain the power of Dibella for himself. He had shown he had some power over women. I would wager that every woman in this coven had also served time as his lover several times. I had stopped him from strengthening his power over women. I freed Fjotra and once I told her she was the Sybil, she accepted without reservation. She urged me to get her back to Markarth.
The journey back was not without incident. First, we were accosted by another group of Cultists of Miraak. I killed them all and was glad that Fjotra had the sense enough to run and hide behind a rock. She had this good sense again when another type of cultist attacked screaming something about a worthy opponent. I killed him and found on his body a copy of the book – Boethiah’s Proving.
“This is next my child“, came Mephala’s whispering voice.
I tucked the book away and continued to Markarth with Fjotra. We arrived late at night and I escorted her to the Temple and then to the Mother. The Mother was pleased with my success and thanked me. She told me to prostrate myself at the altar and Dibella would bless me. I asked what the Blessing would do. She told me it would make men more vulnerable or more pliable to me. She added, that my problem was I had let men take power over my femininity and I needed to take it back. To enjoy being a woman and use it as power over men would cure me and the tool that would help me do that was Dibella’s Blessing.
I headed back upstairs and found myself a few feet away from the altar with its pool of sacred water. A thought struck me and I pulled off my pack and set it aside. I laid the Ebony Blade on top of it. For the next few minutes I unfastened the buckles of my armor and let it all fall into a pile near my pack. Finally I stood there only wearing a loincloth but with a last movement I removed it as well. Senna remarked that I either was supremely confident or crazy to walk around without any clothes on. I didn’t’ feel confident, so perhaps I have finally lost my mind. Fjotra had followed me up and she remarked that I was naked with a giggle. Senna glared at her and told her that in truth someday she would stand before the Altar naked as well as part of her duties as Sybil, so perhaps she should quit teasing. Fjotra’s mouth closed and she backed away and sat down in a chair looking at the floor. I approached the altar naked and bowed down at the edge of the pool. I then drank from it and then I felt Dibella’s Blessing.
I can’t say what the change was but I now feel as though men are in my power after so long of feeling I was a victim of theirs. It has changed my attitude about how to approach them and use them. I dressed and thanked Senna and the Mother who both said they were grateful for my help in finding the Sybil. I wished Fjotra luck as Sybil and told them all if I was ever in Markarth, I would be sure to visit. I stopped in front of Senna and then quickly kissed her and left. She had a shocked look on her face but I thought I heard her mutter.
“Perhaps, you should train me.”
I am currently sitting naked at a table in my room in the Silver-Blood Inn as I write this journal. Beds of stone are surprisingly comfortable when you are pleasuring yourself and I haven’t felt this alive in body or spirit in a long time. For the first time in a long time, I am not focused on my vulnerability as a woman but I am seeing my strengths because I am a woman. That has given me a new sense of power and freedom My next move is to listen to Mephala’s words to follow up on the book Boethiah’s Proving. I will read the book again in the morning and decide what to do. For now though I am tired for many reasons and wish to sleep.