This is the second in a series of journal entries written from the point of view of my Skyrim character, Zalen.

In the weeks following Venassa’s death, I felt like I had lost all purpose in life. I no longer cared for hunting bandits, chasing down artifacts, and especially not for fighting dragons. I had put away my adventuring boots, affixed myself to a stool, and slovenly threw coins at barkeeps in Riften. Being so close to the Morrowind border meant that I saw a slew of Dunmer: some were nobility, some were bums who were lucky enough to have found a few gold pieces, and some were just passing through. In my grief, I thought every Dark Elf entering the bar was Venassa. I knew this could not be, for she now rested beneath the bones of her winged murderer, but I always looked and hoped just the same.

One day, a particularly average-looking Dunmer walked into the establishment. His cloak had water streaming off it from a downpour that had consumed the entire region. Even though he was clearly male, I did a quick Venassa check, and, satisfied that it was not her, I turned back to my mug. Without warning, the Dunmer walked over, and plunked himself down next to me, dripping cloak and all.

“Are you the one known as Zalen?” he asked, to which I nodded in response. “Ah, finally! You have no idea how hard it has been to track you down. Here, take this.” He reached deep into his cloak, and pulled out a small folded piece of parchment. He gingerly set it down in front of me, and then stood up. “Everything you’ll need is written on there. I hope you’ll find the offer…compelling.” The mystery Dunmer bowed slightly, turned around, and quietly left as if he had never been there. I turned my attention to the piece of folded parchment he had given me, which had a blank wax seal on it. I broke the seal, unfolded the parchment, and in a flowing calligraphy, the following was written:

“Zalen: We are a family of Dunmer nobles. Which particular family we are is of no concern to you; our vast treasury, however, is something for you to keep in mind. You have a  reputation as a Dunmer who gets things done, which is exactly what we need right now: an important item was recently stolen from us. Even though the item is in a securely locked and warded box, we fear for what might happen should it be opened by the wrong person. We believe the perpetrators have fled to a cave half a day’s walk north of Whiterun. Go there, retrieve the item, and take it to the town of Winterhold. There you will find the man that gave you this note; you shall give the box to him. You will be greatly rewarded for your efforts, and other than the box, you are free to keep anything you find in the cave.”

I must have read the note five times before deciding to destroy it. However, just as I was about to set it aflame, a wave of anguish spread over me. Were Venassa here, she would insist that we take care of this immediately. The note, after all, referred to me by name; despite feeling like I had nothing else to live for, the idea of being hunted by the bottomless pockets of Dunmer nobles did not appeal to me. I paid my tab, stumbled to the inn I was staying at, stripped off my mead-stained clothing, and threw myself onto the bed.

“Today, I mourned. Tonight, I dream. Tomorrow, I travel.”