This is the first chapter of my book Edgar Troutman: the unluckiest man alive. I will post a few pages a week, as I am able to write them.
“Birth is a wonderful invention that effects all living organisms,
but not all births are equal.”
Laboast Gregdon: Winterveil Historian
and my birth was no exception. Now mind you that I do not remember my birth, nor is my telling of it one hundred present accurate. These are memories pieced together over the many years of interviews and gathering little bits of information through firsthand accounts. My name is Edgar Troutman, a family name, so I am told.
My family were fishermen along the northern ocean front just outside of the Daggerfell Region. They were just scratching out a meager living amongst others living in isolation from the wonders of the technological cities of their time. My parents would have been very excited to have had a child on the way. Children meant that the work that they had started would not be in vain.
I was able to track down certain birth rituals and rites of this area to the Ebenshard Monks. A well known group of dwarven monks would have come to the birthing of every child in the region and preformed a “reading of the child’s passage of time”. This ritual would in theory accurately depict who the child would become, but enough of this history, lets view the events as I see them unfolding.
Michael and Rebecca Troutman. It is what the sign said at the start of the path leading up to their small hut on the hill overlooking the windswept beaches of Mourse Head. The vegetation would have been sparse revealing many rough rocky patches.
“Rebecca! Rebecca!” came the shrill tones of Grandma Effington, as she come charging up the pathway to the hut. She was concerned that Rebecca would be still out working in her small gardens even at this late stage of her pregnancy, and she was right.
Rebecca sat up from where she was gathering a small bushel of green beans and ran a dirty hand through her long black hair. Her round face was flush with the exertions, but her brown eyes only showed the merriment of doing a honest work. “Mom, I am over here,” she said with a small wave of her dirt caked hands.
Grandma pulled up the hems of her bustling skirts and rushed to her side, a look of bemused frustration played on her equally round face. “You know that you do not need to be in the gardens, but rather you should be resting. You will need all the strength you can muster for the baby.” She reached down to help pull Rebecca to her feet and led her in the direction of the hut. “I fear that the labor will be long and tiring, winter babies always have been this way.”
Rebecca was amused at her mother’s concern, but also was glad that she had someone that was able to stop in and check on her. Michael was trying to bring in several more barrels of salted fish before the harsh winter winds began to blow, and she was all alone in taking care of the house and tending to the humble farm.
The Hut as it was called, was a two story structure built from reclaimed shipwrecks that appeared all over the cove. Many people from Daggerfell made their fortunes through raiding the unclaimed possessions of these haunted ships. The Ebenshard Monks prohibited the looting of the vessels, explaining that they were as sacred as the burial mounds of any of this areas citizenry. This of course stopped only the most superstitious from taking many of the well needed supplies.
Rebecca wiped her hands off in the watering trough just outside of the doorway and then pulled on the iron ring used as a door handle. The heavy door creaked as it gave entrance to a well lit and comfortably furnished kitchen, dining, and living room. A small stair case could be seen near the back of the hut giving access to the upper living quarters. Grandma shut the front door firmly, as if making certain that none of the cold air would creep in.
“Do you need some tea, my dear?” asked Grandma, as she was already putting the iron kettle over the fire and adding some water from the collection bucket before receiving a reply.
“Thank you, I am so glad you came, I was feeling a bit tired from all of the work.” Rebecca sat back on the large arm chair covered in the furs of a black bear, a relic inherited from Michael’s father. She was feeling very tired and before the tea was finished she was fast asleep.
Hours past and there came a sharp knocking on the front door. Rebecca awoke with a start and looked confused at the front door. Who could that be? Michael will not be home for several more days, and no one in this area would knock. She thought. The fire in the living room had died down and the ember’s light danced with the shadows amongst the room revealing Grandma sleeping in a similar chair. The sharp knocking came once again, insistent. “Who is it?” called out Rebecca as she slowly waddled her way to the door, feeling the soft movements of the baby, as if it too was curious.
“It is Varus from the lighthouse watch.” replied the youthful voice from beyond the door.
Rebecca unlatched the lock and pushed the door slowly out, and was greeted with the miserable looking young man wearing a brown coat with red striped patches. He was twisting his cap in his hands and had his gaze fixed firmly on the ground. “Can I help you?” asked Rebecca with some concern. She thought that maybe the food supplies from the lighthouse were out and this one had been sent to beg for scraps. “If it is food you need, I do not have much to hand out.”
“No, ma’am. I did not come for food.” He continued to stare at the doorstep, as if wishing somehow he could come up with the thing that he was here to say.
“Well what did you come here for then, and you might as well come in. No use standing out here and letting the cold steal the heat.” She pushed the door further open, but the boy would not budge.
He finally brought his gaze to meet hers and forced out the message. “We saw Herman’s Hamlet, being pushed aimlessly by the waves and wind only a mile from the shore. We thought it strange to see Michael’s boat so soon, and sent a boat to investigate. He. . . Michael is gone.”
Rebecca was trying to process the words she had just heard. Michael is gone, does he mean dead? He cannot mean dead, maybe he was injured and was gone from the boat? She was just beginning to form her question when Varus let out a loud sob and took off running in the direction of the beach.
“I am sorry!” He cried out as he slipped and stumbled his way down the steep incline.
“Wait! She demanded, but it was no use, there was no stopping him. Rebecca turned to go inside, but felt the strange sensation of warm liquid running down her legs, and then sharp stifling pain causing her to yell an incoherent, “Arggggfff!”
Grandma was there in an instant, “Rebecca, we need to get you to a bed. I will then send for the Birth Stirges.” These were the last words Rebecca heard as she passed out.
“She was so distressed by some news.” spoke Grandma from somewhere near.
“Who was talking to her when this happened?” came the deeper masculine voice further away. His concern was evident as he continued his strain of thought. “It was good of you to send for us, but the fluids that she lost were not the water for the baby, but rather she peed herself.”
“Why would she do that?”
“This is a normal response to a great fear, which makes me wonder what it was that she heard. There are quite a few unrested spirits in the area, but none that would bother a remote place like this one. Also there are a few tracks coming from the beach. . . I am going to send my assistant that direction and see if she comes across anyone.”
Rebecca heard this conversation within the outreaches of her subconscious, as she fought through the darkness to address the many unanswered thoughts that were filling up the spaces within the house. Her eyes flickered slightly and finally she was back with a cough.
“Take it easy.” The man’s voice was revealed to be one of the medical Stirges from Daggerfell 4 miles up the coast. He was over her checking her vitals and feeling her head. “That is so much better than before. We really thought that you were going into labor, but rather it seems that you had a fright?”
Rebecca tried to prop herself up, but discovered that they had tied her to the bed with safety ropes. They would normally do this when the woman going into labor was unresponsive. “My husband is he alright?”
“Rebecca?” questioned Grandma. “You know that he is not coming back from the sea for another few days.”
“There was a boy at the door earlier, and he said that Michael was gone? They saw his boat from the lighthouse, it was empty.” As Rebecca said this, she was also trying to figure out whether it was possible she dreamed it. “Is one of the members of the lighthouse crew named Varus?”
“There is.” said the Stirge. “I will send my assistant immediately to discover the validity of this news.” He snapped his finger and a young woman stepped from the shadows and without a word made her way to the door and left.
It was discovered that the Herman’s Hamlet was emptied of its crew and stripped down to brass tacks. These could mean only one thing: Pirates. This was a word that affected many of the coast villages, but Daggerfell was so far north, that this was not much of a fear. But it seems that the evidence in front of the 7 men that pulled in the boat would prove otherwise.
Varus was rocking back and forth whimpering to himself. “We are all going to die, we are all going to die, we are all going to die.”
The other men tried to ignore him as they went about their work of searching for any shred of proof to this theory of pirates. There was some holes on the foredeck made by some musket fire, and a few nicks in the wood made from a sharp sword, but no torn cloth or definitive markings. That is until they came to the room where Michael had slept. Carved in the wall was the unmistakable skull and crossed swords. “Pirates, it cannot be true.” The men muttered darkly of what was to come from this. “We need to get this news to the people of Daggerfell, they need to get prepared.”
As the men left the boat, they were greeted with the familiar chant of “we are all going to die,” coming from Varus still rocking. Then Peter Bracktus, the tall and broad leader of the men, strode to Varus and brought a harsh blow to his cheek. Bracktus’s black orb like eyes held Varus’s shocked expression, as he barked, “Are you still alive? Because if you are, then there is yet a cause. GET ON YOUR FEET! THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO WORRY FOR YOURSELF!”
Varus sprang to his feet. “Ye, yes, sir!” He snapped to attention and made ready to follow orders.
Bracktus explained to the men that he needed them to run to the surrounding homes and inform everyone that Pirates are on their way. They would then meet back at the lighthouse and continue to monitor the coast line for any signs of ships.
The door to Rebecca’s house was once again knocked on that day. This time it was Bracktus himself, come to explain the news in his cold unfeeling way. Michael and Bracktus had never gotten along. Bracktus felt that Michael had taken too many unnecessary risks in life. Bracktus surveyed the room before he spoke. The eyes of Grandma, Rebecca, The Stirge and his lovely assistant looked at him expectantly. “As Varus tried to tell you, there are Pirates on their way. They must have intercepted Michael’s boat, because it washed up on the shore, empty.”
“Is that it?” asked Rebecca.
Bracktus looked at her in disbelief. Is that it, she asks. Is she mad, or are the words still sinking in? The people in the room were not “mad”, but were rather already informed of this same information, by the lovely assistant. She was able to gather it without making herself seen by the men on the beach, and brought her findings back to the group, ahead of Bracktus.
“We already knew all of this.” explained Rebecca. “Unless you have any other information, I want you to leave. You have never been a friend of this house.”
Bracktus felt the red heat creep into his face as he gripped his fists, trying to control the rage that was coming over him. “FINE! Have it your way.” And he turned and slammed through the door, having to duck to avoid hitting the door frame.