The dragon had paused, so Edward interjected,
"Mother and I have been discussing the nature of the
gods recently, Akatosh, and she thinks that poetry would be
a godly activity. What do you
think about that notion?"
"I am not so certain that one can attribute
anything to the gods, Edward. They are another example of
an unbounded problem, of course, but also, their characteristics
are just not very well known to us."
"But surely one can determine things
about any being that is a god?"
Akatosh replied, "I do not think that
we can, at present; they are not like the Daedra, who have
a nature that is with them at their birth. That is, the Daedra
capabilities are inherent in them, and not are the result
of any changes that have occurred to them."
Willow interrupted: "Akatosh, we can
determine that the gods have a few basic characteristics,
Edward added "Of course, Akatosh - they
are powerful beings who can perform acts that are incomprehensible
to us. That in itself must signify their difference."
Akatosh nodded and replied "I understand
your point of view, but to a farming community on Tamriel
in our southern lands, that could also describe how they would
perceive me. Perhaps this is attributable to the fact that
they seldom see a dragon nowadays, but it also does not mean
that I am a god ... neither does it mean that I am not a god."
Willow giggled, and said "Of course you're
not a god, Akatosh" and Edward, smiling, nodded agreement.
Akatosh replied "How do you know, Willow?
I can understand that you would guess that I am not a god,
particularly since I am a dragon." He grinned, and then
continued "But how can you know that I am not a god?"
Edward scoffingly replied "Well, I know
that I'm not a god anyway. And I've certainly never seen you
perform any godly acts, Akatosh - you also don't seem to have
any worshippers about either."
The Companions were smiling and generally
agreeing with this, but Akatosh responded "But that does
not mean that I have no worshippers, nor does it mean that
I cannot perform any godly acts - it just means that you have
not seen either of these. I am not yet certain that gods and
goddesses require worshippers to maintain their existence.
And as I said, I can perform magic that would look like 'godly
acts' to many Tamrielians."
"But the gods must have worshippers,
Akatosh" said Aliera, "That's how they get their
... sustenance, or whatever it is that allows them to continue
... to be godly. Husband, you must know more about this subject.
After all, you made a god of your brother S'ephen."
"I did no such thing!" Moraelyn
responded, with a touch of indignation. "His godhood
is between him and his worshippers, among whom I am numbered.
I did establish a temple cult in his memory. Anyone with the
worldly means could do as much for anyone, living or dead.
That alone is not enough. Maybe it helps -- facilitate matters,
but I think it's not really necessary. I know no more of it,
but if you want my opinion--" he paused politely for
confirmation that it was indeed still solicited, as elven
etiquette demanded if one were giving opinion at length.
He continued. "There must be something,
well, godly, in the person's soul or essence or whatever part
it is that does not die with the body. I know not whether
that capacity is innate in the person, from birth or conception,
or quickening ... whene'er it is that soul and body are wedded
for a life span, or whether great deeds and great generosity
might breed it, enlarging the soul and transmuting it, so
to speak. We all change and grow with each passing day, with
every breath, some more than others. What else is life about?"
He went on without pausing for an answer to
his rhetorical question, probably for fear that he might get
one. "In other cases, gods seem to arise from a locality,
a mountain, or a spring, or wood, or a collection of localities,
such as Tamriel itself. Places, like persons have souls, some
greater than others. This place might produce a god or a daedra
-- or maybe it already has one or more. As it changes, so
do its gods and daedra, I think. Maybe they can choose to
resist the change or aid it, if propitiated."
He looked at Akatosh inquiringly. The dragon
had stopped fighting the new gods, he said, but would he go
so far as to worship them? "That speaks to the question
of whence gods arise, but source is not nature: of that I
know as little as the rest of you, maybe less, since the question
does not truly interest me. The gods are; my worship of them
benefits me and mine. It is sufficient."
Akatosh did not respond immediately and Aliera
refused to be distracted, "But suppose such a cult were
established and worshippers provided for one of small and
mean spirit. Would that spirit not become a god?"
"I suppose it might be done, if one were
determined enough and had a sufficiency of means to pay worshippers
to perform rituals without -- spirit -- behind them. Maybe
that's where small, mean gods come from, wife. Or maybe daedra?
Maybe I'll raise a cult to thee and see what happens."
"Are you calling my spirit small and
mean?" Ali glared at him.
"Only by comparison -- you don't fancy
yourself a goddess, do you? You might make a daedra,
though. The experiment might be a bit too
chancy. Could I just mourn you for a century or two instead?"
"Mm. I'll think on it. What about you?
You've deeds enough already to qualify for godhood, surely
... although if you plan on many more such you may not outlive
"I'm doomed to be R'Aathim, living and
dead. It's godhood of a sort, but what a sort! Don't begrudge
me my long life span. Think of me doomed to eternity in the
gloomy Ebonheart council chamber listening to the eternal
wrangles ... small wonder the dead R'Aathim pulled the place
down on the live ones twenty years ago, thus causing my brother
and my mother to join their number. The dead R'Aathim must
have welcomed the century and a half of respite while the
Nords held Ebonheart."
"But your brother S'ephen was killed
too, as well as your brother King Cruethys, and S'ephen wasn't
R'Aathim, being your mother's son and not your father's, if
I have the story straight -- that's why he got his own temple,"
Edward said. "So why did they kill him, too? The story
sounds very daedric to me."
"You'd have me justify the ways of the
gods to you, would you? I think they act for ends we cannot
see, and slay the just and the unjust together -- not that
I'd label any of my Kin as either -- not altogether. We see
only the means -- how can we judge? Gods too face choices;
I do not think their power supreme. They can overrule nature
on occasion, as can any Mage, yet they, like Mages, are in
the end bound by it -- and their overrule must answer other
rules still -- and in those rules, whate'er they be, I think
lies the answer to your questions. I think it's not something
men and women may know while living."
Akatosh smiled and replied "It is not
so easy to describe the gods, is it? This is true even though,
myself included, each of us thinks that we have a mental picture
of what godliness means. On the other hand, the gods and goddesses
certainly do exist - and I also believe that there is a connection
of some sort between them and the Daedra, and another connection
between these entities and the power associated with performing
"The priests of Julianos have been calling
this power 'Magicka'" said a stranger who had joined
Akatosh replied "Greetings bard. Please
allow me to introduce ... Geoffrey, a ... wandering poet who
has been visiting our village for these last few days."
The Companions greeted the wood elf newcomer, some rising
to their feet to do so according to their individual customs,
and then all resumed sitting (actually sprawling about) and
"A number of priests are theorizing that
the gods and goddesses live on another plane, as do the Daedra
- there is some debate amongst these priests as to whether
they share the same plane of existence, or whether each has
their own. And some of the Alessian priests are claiming that
we can visit these alternate planes in our nightly dreams"
Edward asked "Why doesn't someone just
ask a goddess or a Daedra about this?"
Geoffrey chuckled and replied "Most of
us are not able to be so thoughtful when confronted by one
of these beings, Edward. Also, there is a common belief that
the gods and Daedra are as reluctant to discuss their own
natures as dragons are to reveal anyone's True Name."
Edward looked quizzically at Akatosh, but
Beech stated to Geoffrey "Well said, Bard" ... and
that pair shared the slightest of smiles.
Beech then said, "Do you know what the
Resolutions of Zenithar has been saying about the gods and
magic? This magic power, or Magicka, is just the power generated
by the existence of, well, existance itself. When it becomes
focused by living beings through natural processes, then it
becomes accessible to the gods and goddesses as worship power,
which is the next level of Magicka. After receiving some from
their worshippers, the gods can then concentrate it up to
god-level power - the true Magicka. The gods themselves can't
generate the mid-level Magicka, since they are dependent on
it for their own existence, but they can 'convert it' to Magicka,
which can then be used by mortals to cast spells. This Magicka
is usually dispersed widely across the planes but there are
areas of greater and lesser concentration due to interferences
with the dispersion process."
"When a goddess loses worshippers, her
inflow of mid-level Magicka is decreased, so she in turn produces
less god-level Magicka. With less Magicka under her control
(for providing to worshippers, or dispersion), her influence
is decreased in the mortal planes - of course the converse
is also true. In the extreme, she receives nothing, and is
relegated to a state of Stasis, barely existing from the ordinary
Magicka generated by her few remaining Consecrated lands,
zones of influence, and so on."
Beech continued, "On the other hand,
Daedra receive very specific, or 'modified' mid-level Magicka
from a few mortals with specific areas of interest, and these
Daedra are normally tied to very specific circumstances. Because
of their nature, they gain much more power from their small
worship base, but the gods, with their much broader base,
generally have greater overall power, even though the amount
of concentrated worship that they receive from any one source
is much less than a Daedra's. Most of the Magicka that the
gods 'process' is dispersed into and throughout the universe,
no longer under their control, thereby making it available
for everyone. It's not really something they do consciously,
but as a natural process that happens automatically - in other
words ... just because they are divine."
Aliera said, "I would think that Magicka
is simply available to sentient beings, although the gods
and Daedra could facilitate its usage. I would think that
the gods and Daedra have other influences on us as well, because
not everyone has spellcasting ability! Maybe in those 'alternate
planes' it's actually existance, and not sentient entities,
that radiates Magicka, just as the stars give off light in
our dimension. I just assume that Magicka is 'out there' in
the ether, or maybe sentient consciousnesses automatically
tap into an alternate plane as they sleep. I think that everyone
has some supply of Magicka, but most don't know how to use
it very well, or else they adopt a way of life that inhibits
or forbids its use. Maybe certain gods and Daedra serve as
facilitators for the entire process; that is, both obtaining
and using Magicka? But how do priests heal and cure and bless?
Is Magicka involved at all or do they invoke their goddesses
Ssa'ass said, "I am not ssssure that
Magicka isss usssed; perhapss there isss yet another capability
involved here. Thisss capability would be unknown at thisss
time, and maybe even unsssenssssed... but I feel fairly certain
that sssomehow it is a godly 'force' that they are employing."
Then Geoffrey responded: "Ssa'ass, I
believe that Magicka fills the universe of planes. All things
are infused with Magicka to one extent or another. In this
regard Magicka is attracted to some people and things over
others, and some people with talent or training can control
and even release Magicka in new forms. There may be other
sources of Magicka available by tapping into alternate and
otherworldly planes. There is also the possibility of alternate
planes that are entirely void of Magicka. Regardless, certain
beings of great power, such as the gods and Daedra, can not
only control Magicka, but can see, absorb, and transfuse Magicka
to and from objects and people. By employing this ability,
worshippers of these beings are sometimes capable of greater
acts of Magic than they could accomplish otherwise. Also in
this way, some items sacred to powerful beings can be said
to be holy, with additional amounts of directed Magicka provided
by gods or goddesses."
"Magic items fall into two main categories
by definition. Items that draw on the surrounding Magicka
to create spell-like effects, and items that hold Magicka
in reserve for their own internal effects. Normally magic
items which absorb Magicka, giving increased abilities to
their wielders, only affect themselves and are considered
to use internal Magicka. In some areas where great amounts
of Magicka have been used, the surroundings may be completely
devoid of it. This of course negates the ability of beings
to produce magic effects in these areas, although gods and
Daedra carry their own supplies of Magicka, as do magic items
that do not depend on the use of surrounding Magicka."
Aliera said, "We've been investigating
some rumors and stories concerning something that might be
called anti-Magicka. I think the presence of a powerful Daedra
with whom you weren't in 'tune' could cause interference with
spellcasting - maybe even cancel out existing spells. Perhaps
particular Daedra simply favor thief or warrior types. Or
some goddesses, and their priests, might frown on 'competing'
magic in certain areas, for example in locations dedicated
to them. So then unauthorized spells could interfere with
Willow asked, "Can Daedra supply Magicka?
And how about both a god and a Daedra being nearby? - wouldn't
they sort of nullify each other's powers? This might be the
cause of the anti-Magicka effect."
"I've experienced an anti-Magicka zone
myself" inserted Mith. "It felt a lot like the effect
of casting a spell like Dispel Magicka. At the time, I thought
that a truly powerful spellcaster could still effectively
cast spells, but their resulting power would have been much
reduced. I didn't get a chance to test this out though"
added Mith with a smile.
"We can also assume that certain powerful
spells, creatures and even magic items might actually drain
the surrounding area of Magicka," replied Geoffrey. "This
could be extended to places where great amounts of magic energy
were once gathered and expended, for example in ancient temples
where great spells were cast, or battlefields where powerful
mages contested. Perhaps certain metals or stones could act
as absorbers of Magicka, allowing for whole structures of
anti-Magicka zones. If so, you might be able to wear a amulet
made out of anti-Magicka material and gain a good advantage
against spellcasters. Perhaps the purity of the material used
would allow for better and better magic resistance".
Akatosh spoke: "Dragons have long been
interested in the anti-Magicka effect, naturally enough. We
have found some amulets that appear to act as Magicka absorbers.
They might contain something like Negative Magicka, in which
case they would attract any 'stray' Magicka floating free
in the local area. They are made of a stone, or mineral, resembling
marble - it is very rare, but could be extracted, and shaped
by skilled craftsmen. For example, I'm sure that the dwarves
could have worked with this material. They might have made
these amulets - or even that statue that I once saw ... it
was taller than any of you humanoids. Regardless, in these
mountains we have found deposits scattered throughout the
halls and tunnels at random, sometimes deep within the walls.
Consequently, one appears to go in and out of these anti-Magicka
zones of varying intensities, with little or no warning. I
have been imagining that this material works almost automatically;
it seems to 'reflexively' absorb Magicka if given a chance
to. However, we cannot rule out the possibility that they
have been magically charged somehow - perhaps this happened
long ago, but the charge has somehow remained."
Moraelyn asked, "Would the amulet affect
its wearer, or would he be immune?"
"Maybe a blocking spell could be developed,
and then cast, to shield the wearer from the effects of the
Moraelyn then asked, "But Akatosh, getting
back to our earlier discussions - what do you think of the
speculations concerning the connections between the gods and
goddesses, Daedra and Magicka?"
Akatosh replied, "I think that there
are many truths that we do not know, and perhaps there are
some truths that we are not meant to know."
Moraelyn asked with a smile, "All right
then, I've always wanted to know this - considering the shape
of your mouth and teeth, how do dragons manage to speak the
humanoid languages so clearly?"
Akatosh paused, and then carefully responded,
"Why, in much the same way that we can fly, even though
our wings are not naturally strong enough to support such
"Speaking of dragon flight and sunsets..."
Mith said, rising to his feet and squinting into the red-gold
eastern sky, "We have a vistor, Dragon Lord. That's not
Akatosh's head came up and he too scanned
the sky. Tension grew in him, and one by one the Companions
rose, watching as the distant dot grew nearer and resolved
itself into the largest dragon they'd seen yet.
"Ma-Tylda!" Akatosh exclaimed, "She
deigns to bestow her presence on us!" His wings lifted
and unfurled, and the Companions broke and ran for cover as
he took flight. The two dragons wheeled through the sky, spouting
great gouts of flame against the purpling sky.
"They're fighting," Edward cried,
"what does it mean. Who is Ma-Tylda?"
"I don't know who she is, son,"
Moraelyn replied, "but they do not fight. You behold
a dragon greeting ceremony." The pair alit beyond a rock
outcropping out of sight.
"Should we go greet the stranger, too?"
"Nay," Mith said. "They'll
let us know if our presence is wanted -- look, even the other
dragons stay away." It was true. Dragon heads had poked
from the caverns to witness the event, but none of them had
taken wing, and now they were retreating to their hoards within.
The Companions ambled back into the meadow
together and built a fire as a chill wind had sprung up. The
elves sang an evening hymn to the stars, deftly weaving the
dark elf version with the wood elf form. Aliera added her
voice to theirs, but Mats and Edward and Silk and Ssa'ass
sat listening silently. They couldn't manage elven music of
this kind. Geoffrey had a particularly clear sweet voice,
Akatosh returned presently, smiling in satisfaction.
"Ma-Tylda's going to join us here, at least for awhile,"
he said. He was actually glowing in the dusk, each scale giving
off a golden radiance.
"Is she your queen?" Edward asked,
feeling very small and human.
"She -- just is. Maybe she'll want to
meet you all some day. I hope so. Until then, well, I don't
talk about other dragons, you know."
To which Edward blinked in surprise and then
surmise, and the discussion dissolved into jokes and songs
for the remainder of that clear and beautiful evening.
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