After weeks of travelling across Tamriel, we finally made it! And I thought the journey was enduring, though it was nothing against my first encounter with Za'Nir's Den Mother...
After being sent alone to walk the small wooden path which cut through the hillside I eventually found my way to what seemed to be the place; a small wooden doorway which led into an underground warren. As soon as I entered my senses where overwhelmed; I was familiar the unusual tinge to the air surrounding alchemy work, but this was so much more intense! I cautiously progressed into the warren, drawn by the flickering light and the crackle of a fire ahead. When I drew into the single central chamber, I saw her - this Den Mother - sitting there. Her presence was striking - not least for being Mer among beast - but everything about her; long dark hair and large dark eyes the only features to soften the dark hue of her flesh. Flesh adorned by even harsher and more striking ink! I am no stranger to the concept of presenting oneself through ink of the flesh, but this woman - this Den Mother - was something else; the harsh lines across her face instantly conjured images of a Khajit's mottled fur... I stood before her as she turned those large dark eyes towards me, widening noticeably at my presence before she rose with folded arms to tower before me like an Altmer clad only in her tribal garb.
We stood in silence for - I don't know how long - before she reached forth to grab my chin, roughly turning my head from side to side like she was studying me! The hand pushed back to trace more tenderly up my ear (an action that bore startling resemblance to what Za'Nir did back in Falkreath actually!) and her emotionless face finally shifted in a broad smile 'Baelai' she said. I felt my brow furrow at the foreign tongue, and she seemed to sense my confusion - and she didn't seem impressed as she poked a finger into my chest (which felt like being shoved with the tip of a staff!) 'Baelai!' she insisted, though I still had no idea what she wanted.
The continued lack of understanding led her to huff and she snatched my journal from my belt! First pausing to admire my sketch on the cover, glancing back to the comparable image on my forehead; she held it up in front of my face, pointing to where my name was written on the cover and repeated more softly 'Baelai'. Of course, I assumed she was misreading the script and so I corrected her, 'No, Jenni'. And then she frowned and slapped the side of my head with a further reinforcement, 'Baelai!'. Frowning at her sudden move, I swiped my journal back from her hand and she turned - unimpressed - to return to the writing desk she was sat at when I entered.
Still scowling from the strike, I secured my journal back to my belt and took a step closer, "Please..." I started humbly, "Za'Nir said you gave him this cloak to give to me; I have to know what it means!" I said, grasping the corner which showed the mysterious emblem. After a further uncomfortable pause she turned to me once more. She stood before me with arms folded again as she gave what seemed like a defeated sigh. She placed a palm on her own chest 'Valaer', then repeated the gesture placing her palm against my chest, 'Baelai... Baelai /is/ 'Yenni. Yenni is Baelai...'' she said, with a slight mispronunciation. I tried to conjure her meaning in my mind, the different term used for herself meant it could not be a racial thing, or any other common trait between us, "Baelai is... my name, in your tongue?" I eventually ventured. She rolled her eyes and moved to snatch my journal again, but I recoiled and she paused to hold an apologetic hand before offering an open palm as a request. I obliged and placed my journal on her hand and watched as she pointed to my handwriting once more, "Baelai is Baelai's name, in Baelai's own script" she said in what I can only like to the uncivilized common tongue of a Reachman.
Our interaction from that point forth became far more tolerable and understanding. Having finally revealed her capacity to communicate equally, she went on to explain that my written word was in this ancient Masmeri script of hers; and that Baelai is apparently my true name in this langauge - the language of my people. When I asked her why she had invited me to her with this gifted cloak, she said that she had seen a vision of a lost sibling in the snow; and so imbued the cloth with the power to keep her safe and find her way home. I asked if that meant she believed we were of the same blood, which made her laugh 'all Masmeri are siblings of blood' she said; though of course I still have no idea what she meant...
After talking with Valear for - I don't know how long - it was clear to me that she had much to teach, and I had a lot to learn. When I asked, she smiled wide and said that she would teach me; teach me about my heritage, my native tongue, my siblings and something about harnessing the power of my spirit? But that is for tomorrow; for today has been longest and most exhausting day since we left Falkreath and I need rest in order to focus. I know not what tomorrow brings, though I have little doubt that it will be challenging and arduous!