A great hodgepodge of squat adobe buildings spans a wide plane on the island of Vvardenfell, stretching as far as the eye can see, gradually curving along the coastline, encircling Red Mountain but leaving a wide girth around the great volcano. The sky overhead is a foggy pale orange and flecks of gray swirl and waft about on the wind. We see a sea of gray ants clad in drab tunics moving about through the openings in the maze of structures. A series of more microscopic scenes follow this panorama. Gossips and children run about through a narrow lane; mer in the armor of Ordinators form an impenetrable ring around giant crosses between winged animal and stronghold; a mob of men and women clamber past stalls in one of the juxtaposed market spaces; at the water’s edge, two Dunmer sit on a boulder watching the fray of bartering, while a group to the side drags in a fish net.
A shout rings out and for a moment the buzz halts: “One hour to liftoff!”
Galen: What do you make of all this?
Tral: Of what?
Galen: Landfall. The provisional consolidation. The panic. The whole deal.
Tral: Oh, I don’t know. Take it with a grain of saltrice, I say. Everyone’s “Landfall this, Landfall that-” But do we even have a clue what Landfall is? Does anyone stop and ask what they’re even running like guars without heads over? You know that someone knows but won’t tell. What if it’s happened already?
Galen: With a name like “Landfall” I think we’d know. Regardless, something that gets the Great Houses to take such measures to collaborate can’t be all bad, can it?
Tral: Valid point. Plus we got the Void-Racers out of the deal.
Galen: Anyway, have you heard some of the more… Exotic rumors?
The two fellows stand up and begin to walk up the shore to a bustling market.
Tral: More exotic than Landfall itself?
Galen: Well, not much has been said, but there’s talk of something called… “C0DA.”
Tral: Just another way they’ll try to sell us stuff, I’ll bet.
Galen: It seems like more than that, though. Some kind of list, but- They did just finish up taking a census last week, didn’t they.
Tral: Yeah, it wasn’t like the old ones though, was it? They asked for our “bloodline” and we gave them out names and ages. Which was apparently enough… I still think they’re going to try and use it to sell something to us.
Galen: Not like they need any help.
They were among the buyers and sellers now, talking in tones low enough to maintain privacy but loud enough to stand against the din of frantic haggling. The ashen clouds were clearing, and a blue sky was visible through breaks in the cloud cover. The waters lapped against the beach in the distance, and the cool of the water’s edge was replaced with the humidity of a sea of mer.
Galen: It’s silly, frankly. What good do they think it’ll do?
Tral: It’s all they know. And they’re preparing to ride to the moon.
Galen: Yes, but for what-
The Dunmer gestures to one of the stalls nearby, where a portly man cries, “Horse armor! Get your horse armor!”
Galen: How many of these people do you figure has ever seen a horse?
Tral shakes his head and begins to walk off.
Tral: I’m going to go board.
Against the backdrop of the pale orange-blue sky, a handful of larger houses stand scattered across a plain further inward from the majority of the Vvardenfell settlement. They’re spaced apart much further than most of the buildings that were crammed together onto the Ascadian plains and are visibly better made. They also offer a much clearer route to the clearing where the Void-Racers sit idle, edging up to the waiting Void craft within 600 meters. Out of one of the arched doorways of a house particularly close to the landing field comes two Dunmer, one wearing a set of thick chitin armor, the other clad in a luxurious red tunic and silk pantaloons.
Captain Voryn: Shall I collect your family, sir?
Ern: Yes, you know where to gather them. I just need to smooth things over with the pilot.
Captain Voryn: Yes sir.
The Captain walks briskly and with a martial sternness away from Ern, heading away from the direction of the Void-Racers. Ern continues down the sloping hill at a brisk pace, allowed to pass through the impenetrable wall of Ordinators, and comes to the smallest of the craft. Upon closer inspection, under its wide, leathery wings is the outline of a door. Ern walks over to the organic ship’s massive maw and peers intently into its glassy eyeball. He knocks on it and the mouth of the thing begins to screech. “Ey, ey, easy!” comes a muffled call from within. A moment later, the wing raises up and a flap of the side lowers.
The Pilot: Oi, come in! …Oh, sir, what can I do you for?
The Pilot takes off his gray cap and holds it at his side as Ern slowly surveys the cabin, a strange juxtaposition of the Racer’s internal organs and magickal-mechancial devices. An open door in the rear of the skull leads to rows of bonemold seats, and the stomach and kidneys past that. Ern is silent.
The Pilot: Sir?
Ern: I guess I’ll put it bluntly; there’s half an hour before boarding time, limited space, and I want my family on this Void-Racer.
The Pilot: Well, sir, be here in half an hour and-
Ern: You know what I mean. Now, I can pay-
The Pilot: Sir, I don’t think your coin will be worth that much on Masser.
The Pilot sits in his seat while Ern paces the cabin-skull.
Ern: What House do you belong to? Do you have a family?
The Pilot: Er… Redoran, sir. I have three children and a wife.
Ern: Redoran? Good man. I suspect that unlike traditional coin, House loyalties will be worth something where we’re going. And if you won’t help a fellow Redoran out alone, I could always have those Ordinators look away from your family.
The Pilot: Don’t take this the wrong way sir, but you speak like a Hlaalu.
Ern: I take the opportunity I have and use it. You’re a principled mer, I can tell, but you should do the same. Remember, limited space.