I closed my journal after finishing a sketch of a particularly bulbous glowing plant. It was invigorating to catalog so many mysterious creatures and unfamiliar flora; I’d not felt this good since my 3-month stay on Cathnoquey. With my research notes completed, I knew that I’d be better equipped than ever to explore these weird and wonderful lands. I stood and looked up at the weird orange-yellow clouds that dotted the sky above me. What a place to be shipwrecked.
Suddenly I felt my body freeze in place. I fell, paralyzed, and hit the ground hard. Another man might have cried out in pain, but no fall can harm Rickard Calvert, and also my vocal cords were paralyzed.
“Ha! Hit him!” cried a voice from nearby.
Even though I couldn’t move my head I was able to make out the forms of three tall women clad in shining golden armor, with skin nearly as gold. The untrained eye might mistake them for Altmer, but my eyes are honed by years of adventure. No, these were not elves. These were something else.
One of them must have rolled me over, and suddenly I was laying on my back facing upward. The three women peered down at me.
“What is this? He is not a prisoner,” said one.
“How do you know? They all look the same to me,” replied another.
“Zonna, look at this mortal. Do you really think he looks like a prisoner? Not only is this one armed, but he is far better-dressed than the others.” The sentiment was flattering, of course, but negated by the casual disgust in her tone and her unprovoked assault on my person.
“What should we do with him?” asked Zonna.
“We take him to Warden Chuna at the Doors. She will decide his fate.”
As they lifted me from the ground, I felt my limbs loosen, but before I could react my hands were already being violently restrained behind my back.
“Ma’am, surely we can discuss this, I am a simple historian from-” I began, but a swift strike against my head stopped me mid-sentence. “Now see here!” I protested.
“Silence, mortal!” barked Zonna as she pushed me forward.
These mysterious women had made a mistake. They must have assumed that the bindings had me trapped as well as their paralysis. What they didn’t know is that during my eight-month voyage on the Maormer vessel Silver Serpent, I’d become one of the most proficient knot makers on Tamriel. Escaping these binds would be child’s play. For now, I chose to play along as they forced me up the path. This was the first sign of intelligent life since I stepped foot on this island. Whatever new quirk of this island they were, it was my duty to catalog it!
They led me over a hill and along a short ridge, alongside the massive walls I’d observed earlier, until we reached a fortified camp. They pushed me past some simple fences and into a paved clearing. At the back of the clearing, massive doors made of solid brown wood were set into the wall. I wondered vaguely what was on the other side.
I took a moment to observe the area around me. Simple barricades and shacks ringed the clearing, which appeared to be a small checkpoint. A few barrels and target dummies lined what I assumed was a training yard of some point. Most interesting was a sign that simply read “Welcome to the Asylum, Your Eternal Punishment!” How peculiar.
More of the creatures that had captured me milled about, both tall women and noticeably shorter men. Across the clearing was another group of humanoids. These were purple-skinned and wore dark, intimidating armor.
One of the golden-skinned ones approached me - likely the Warden Chuna, judging by her bearing and the way the other creatures deferred to her.
“We found this mortal wandering around the fields of Mania. He isn’t a prisoner here, and we don’t know where he came from,” one of the women behind me informed the Warden.
The Warden smiled, much like a wolf who's sighted a small, limping animal. “Well, isn’t that interesting?” she said. She took me by the front of my shirt and hurled me on the pavement.
“How did you get into the Asylum, mortal? Answer me!”
Before I could even react one of the purple-skinned ones marched over, a stern looking woman.
“Chuna! What is the meaning of this?” she demanded.
“He was found snooping around Mania. He is a danger to the security of the Asylum.”
“Or he is a lost citizen of the Isles. What would your master say if you injured his subjects?”
“Vika, be reasonable. I am the Warden of Mania. You have no right to lecture me about the security of my side of the Asylum.”
“We are both wardens of this prison, and what happens within its confines reflects on both of us,” snapped Vika.
I’d heard about enough of this. Even I would be hard-pressed to fool Vika with no idea what a “lost citizen of the Isles” might say, and she likely would be no less gentle than Chuna once she realized her mistake. With a few careful twitches, my binds fell off and I ran for it. Startled, the creatures around me froze for a second, allowing me to get a small lead. After a moment they sprung into action.
“Kill him!” yelled Chuna.
“Capture him!" yelled Vika.
Golden arrows began to rain down around me and blasts of red magic danced dangerously close to me. I kept running and didn’t look back. I’m no stranger to unwanted pursuit, and I lost a good friend in Black Marsh to an Argonian gator when my friend decided to see if we had “lost the bugger yet.” I took a sharp corner and dove into a thicket of multi-colored trees. The humanoids were persistent and followed close behind.
I skidded behind a large misshapen boulder, and quickly concealed myself in the brush; a useful skill from hunting in the Cyrodiilic jungles. The angry crew of gold and purple appeared in front of my hiding spot.
“Where did he go?” yelled one.
“We lost him! You should’ve been trying to help kill him instead of stun him!” yelled another.
Quickly this devolved into pointless bickering like I had heard back at the Doors. Strange, that they were so at odds with each other, but had been tasked to guard the same area.
They slowly dispersed, some returning from where they came, others going deeper into the woods in search of me. When it was safe, I slid back from behind the boulder.
I jumped as I heard a voice from inside the thicket directly in front of me.
“I see you have met our captors.” it said.
Who has appeared to Rickard in this dark hour? Find out next time in the finale of RICKARD CALVERT IN THE ISLE OF MADNESS: PART V - THORON’S FAITHFUL premiering Saturday at 1:00 PM EDT!