BOUND BY ICE

Like the other Pilgrims that day, Thris took his un-tipped arrow and headed toward the cave as instructed. He wore lightly lined leathers in blues and whites that matched his eyes and contrasted heavily with his copper colored hair. Yet he did not seem to struggle as much with cold as others seemed to be, even with the lighter gear. With Wren stealing all his body heat in the night he had been sleeping in linens, even. So walking in the cold wind and snow, even as it nipped at his skin wasn't too much of a disturbance.

As he entered the cave, he felt apprehension more than he had felt the cold outside. A few thoughts crossed his mind; what was he doing there? What was the fetching point of all this? Yet he was sure they weren't much more than the vague questions that everyone asked. Surely other people were just as skeptical and unsure as he was. Did Wren have doubts? He hadn't asked that morning, it seemed inappropriate to do so.

It was all too woowoo for him. He appreciated bosmeri culture as much as any altmer could, more so probably. Especially if he acknowledged the fact he was probably as bosmer as he was altmer. Not to mention, he had married one, even if she wasn't pact, and was probably a fair bit of an oddity among the tree sap people. The ginger-haired mer had drank rotmeth, and danced half naked once or twice with a bunch of bosmer high off beetle juice. He even once licked some kind of hallucinogen off of someone's ass.. But walking into a cave to.. Know the mountains? No wait, to know himself? To the mountains?

Those were a few of the thoughts that ran through his head and they didn’t make any more sense the more they ran, as if in circles as he walked. He shook his head, he believed he was a simple mer. He believed he knew himself after all this. But he had written for the first time in a long time, about himself and the scars on his body. Maybe, maybe he didn't know after all? Was he just grasping at straws and pretending he knew himself? The Wolf in the Mer. He had allowed himself to take solace in the Wolf, but was he losing himself to that? He didn’t like that thought and quickly dismissed it as stupid.

As he walked, he didn't even pay attention to where he was going, and likely would have to rely on his senses to get back out but for now didn't care. He had no idea if he was looking for something in particular. A couple times the caverns felt warm, sometimes cold. Inevitably he seemed to gravitate to colder chambers, and soon the stone walls turned to sheets of crystalline ice. They were so smooth that they might have been mirrors, he wasn't really sure he liked to see himself. Days of travel and a bad night's sleep left him looking more disheveled and wild than usual. Sometimes out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw himself with his hair down, or a younger version but each time he turned it was the same.

Irritated by the visual, he kept walking, stubbornly trying to get away from all the reflections. He was getting tired, and his hands and feet were numbing but he was sure he would know it when he found it.

Whatever it was. But that was the truth, he did not know what he was looking for, only that he was supposed to give the arrow, and he wasn't ready to part with it yet. Inevitably he kept walking until he realized he wasn't making any noticeable progress. Each tunnel had looked the same as the last, reflections for days. Just hall, after hall of mirrored ice. For once, he found himself resenting the element, even though it was the one he had skill in. Or perhaps, it wasn't that he had skill in it, as someone had said. But that it was just the easiest to master and the first one he stumbled over.

That didn't feel right to him, he always felt more comfortable with the cold. Especially once his love had given him Kilivur, his little mini-me. The Red Pitted Wolf was from the Reach and shared his coat. Was part of him from there? Or just his lycanthropic strain? Jin didn't have it, but Deneer had..No, that was enough of that. Either way, he liked the snow. But this mirrored maze was frustrating him.

Nothing had made him feel like he had found what he believed was the spot. Where in this Molag damned cave was he supposed to take it? Surely a sign or something would have appeared by now? His thoughts became more frustrated. What was he really supposed to do with it? Enraged by the frustrating labryinth of reflections, his fist tightened around the river cane shaft and nearly threatened to crack it as he tossed it at one of the many reflecting walls. His eyes had closed and he had slumped to the ground in frustration, so he heard the sound rather than saw it. The crackling of ice, first it was just an impact crackle. He didn't think much of it. Like breaking a mirror, then the fissure grew and he realized it wasn't small. Just as his eyes opened the sound grew louder and became rapid, it had become a fissure that traveled overhead and around him, breaking all the ice walls around him.

"FUCK!" Just as he started to run the exits were abruptly caved in. The mountain rumbled and had trapped him in it. Was it punishing him for throwing the arrow? No that was a stupid thought, he tried at least convince himself that. In his mind he tried to remind himself it was just a mountain. He admonished himself, trying to convince himself it wasn't doing anything on purpose. That he was just an idiot and broke the ice and made it cave in. He had made himself stuck, he had imprisoned himself.

He started to panic very quickly, and it was likely Wren would have felt it through their bond. Though he urgently sent reassuring feelings to try to cover it up. One of his hands went to his chest, trying to rip his clothes off as he struggled to subdue to urge to shift in the confined space. All he felt was pain, and fear of being trapped again. By the time he shifted he didn't even notice the being that had slipped out of one of the walls. They still reflected the rest of the broken ice chamber, which now more aptly might be considered a prison. With large shards of ice that had trapped him in more ways than one, blocking off his access and forming into bars. It wasn't natural at all, but he was too far gone to see it.

Once his bones had reshaped, and his fur had finished growing. He flew into a frenzy inside the cave. There wasn't much he could do, but tire himself out. And he did, eventually.


It wasn't clear to him how much time passed when he awoke as mer again. Only that he must have been pacing in the small enclosed space for hours, throwing himself at the walls. All the ice was clawed up as far as his seven and a half foot form had been able to. He was strangely not nearly as cold as he should be, but he felt bruised on his back and sides when he scrambled to the bits of leather and furs that once were his clothes. It was hopeless, but he grabbed the biggest scrap and laid it over his waist before he realized he wasn't alone.

It had been there for some time. It might have been there the whole time, but he couldn't be sure. An icy version of himself stood opposite of him in the room, in a few seconds it had changed shape from mer to wolf-beast, to mer again. Ever-changing as it spoke. "Was it really talking, or was he just imagining that?"

"You are a slave." It said, the voice echoing in the cave. It crackled, not unlike the sound of ice being run under warmer water. The voice made him shiver, it wasn't a pleasant sound. There was nothing comforting about this creature, if the bosmer were to believe, it was probably a spirit. Yet to him it was anything but comforting. However he was more afraid of freezing to death than it.

"No I am not!" His own rage came quickly again, despite his exhaustion and filled the cavern with his deep voice.

"I am not that, not that anymore! What the fuck do you know, you're just a.. I don't know what the fuck you are! Just leave me alone!" He shivered though he didn’t feel cold. It was exhaustion, fear and upset that made him tremble as he stared at the shifting ice form. When it finally settled on a shape, it was that of a dire wolf, its’ fur seemed bristled like shards of ice, though it almost seemed to glow from within. Was it blue or green?

At this point, he wasn’t even sure. He was colorblind, so it did not really matter anyway. He was mesmerized and terrified of the being, but it was hopeless to try to get away from it.

“You are a slave, Thrisendiel. But you are also free. Your past is as relevant as your future, but your future cannot happen if you are a slave to what happened before.” Its mouth moved but the voice sounded as if it came from everywhere in the cave, the cave he would die in if he didn’t find a way to dig himself out.

“That doesn’t make sense. I left that behind. All of it is gone. I don’t belong to anyone.” As soon as he said it, he knew he was lying and so did the spirit. As was obvious when its' howling voice echoed in the cavern in protest.

“LIAR!” The walls seemed to crackle with it’s admonishment and he dropped his head to his chest.

“I chose her, I choose to belong to her and she belongs to me. That’s not slavery.” He lowered his voice, choking back the fear that the spirit was somehow going to tell him he was wrong for binding their souls. Tears froze on his cheeks only to skitter across the cave floor as he wiped them away.

“I am not talking about your mated soul.” The sound of cracking ice filled his ears as it padded up to his face.

“You’ve given yourself to something greater than that. You chose to give yourself to the Wolf, rather than taming it. Your idea of freedom is broken to the point you only feel free when you lose yourself. You’re afraid to truly feel as you do, you forgive those who hurt you and cause you pain because you’re afraid of disappointing them, more than you are afraid of being hurt again.”

“Do I look like I’m afraid of pain?!” Thris pressed his hands to his bare chest indicating his scars in a defeated gesture, but the spirit only laughed at him. He knew the spirit meant something else but he didn't want to admit that he lived in fear, or that he could take a stab wound without batting an eye, or enjoy the blood lust of battle but to be left, to be abandoned. That he couldn't stand.

“I speak of the heart, not of the flesh. You must forgive yourself for surviving pain by forgiving those who did not deserve it.”

Every time the wolf spoke he felt his chest tighten, he couldn’t shift but he wanted to. Just to make it stop. “I WAS A CHILD! I couldn’t run! It wasn’t even that bad. Alma loved me. And every time I’ve been hurt by someone it’s been my fault!”

“It has not. You blame yourself for their mistakes, for their foibles and their failings. You forgive them, but not yourself. You will not be truly free until you do.”

“I AM FREE!” He screamed until it hurt his lungs, the air was suddenly cold again and he regretted it. He had been warm moments ago, but now it was too much. He needed to get back to the camp before he froze to death.

“Look around you. You’ve trapped yourself in a mountain rather than asking the questions you came to know. It is only in anger and frustration that you allowed yourself that freedom. You had to let the Wolf make the decision”

“I am the wolf.”He tried to stand up but his body felt like blocks of ice, shivering as he looked around, trying to find the passage that was least caved in. It almost felt like he was arguing with himself still, as he had been when he entered the mountain.

“No, the wolf is you.” With that, the spirit turned in front of him and lunged at one of the walls, seemingly shattering the ice and revealing the exit back to camp. He blinked blearily and feebly walked back toward the faint plume of smoke he could see indicating the camp, but strangely he suddenly didn’t feel cold at all.

In fact he felt quite fine, despite the fact he was utterly naked. He glanced at his hands and saw pink skin, his blood was flowing just fine. Curious, he glanced down at his feet and blinked, his bare feet were melting the snow. For now he wouldn't question it, none of it made a lot of sense to him and most of the time asking questions about how things worked just reminded him how little he truly knew. So he would go back to the camp and curl up in the furs, and get warm even if he didn't need to.

Yet the first thing he heard upon his triumphant, bare assed return was Wynn yelling "WOOOOOOOOOO!" When the imperial caught sight of his nakedness, as predictable as grass growing. At least it snapped him out of thinking about the conversation he had in the cave. If that even really happened.

(This is specifically part of an ongoing roleplay 'event' in Sanctum University: The Pilgrim: A Tangible Study in Philosophy, I put it his Unjournal, which is basically off screen writing exercises. You can see the entirety of 'What is Thris? there. As one of the longer, more thought out entries. I thought I'd share here. Dialogue is not my strength so this was a big challenge for me.)
Spoiler: Cave Inspiration ImagesShow
Spoiler: Spirit InspirationShow