Excerpts from chapter 5 of "An Incomplete Hypothesis" by Master Endar Drenim, Arch-Wizard of the esteemed House Telvanni, printed and published by Slumlord Harry's Presses
Notice to students and future readers: While the following accounts correlate in some ways with information obtained by official Imperial sources, they also vary wildly in others. It is therefore believed that the author did indeed make contact with Aldmeri Dominion cells in some capacity, but may have embellished or stated outright falsehoods in his depiction of the events. No one by the name of 'Endar Drenim' could not be found for the sake of questioning, and his publisher, known only as 'Slumlord Harry' was killed shortly after the first batch was printed during the Bravil Skooma Wars of 4E 188. Less than a hundred copies made it into circulation.
... There is much to be said of Bosmeri tolerance for what unlearned fools consider the esoteric, but to the surprise of no one, the same cannot be said of the Altmer who audaciously believe themselves masters of all mer. For all the Dominion's harping about the greatness of their magicks and their closely-guarded secrets supposedly preserved from the time of the Aldmeri and before, one would be hard pressed to find even a single Altmer raised in Dominion lands who has so much as considered the possibility of invoking conjurational charter with lesser daedra, so frightful are they of discovery. Cowards and fools, the lot of them. It should come as no surprise, then, that upon discovering a Telvanni wizard in the midst of experiments of a similar nature -entirely in the pursuit of knowledge and with proper precautions taken- their response would be dramatic and overstated.
So what if I summoned a few scamps and a weederworble or two? My 'crimes' were hardly warranting of attention, let alone arrest. ...
The daedric prince's black eyes stared into Endar's own with what he could only interpret as a nigh-infinitely powerful predator's curiosity. No doubt it would kill him and any other mortals in the vicinity where they stood if not for the hundreds of containment runes that had been carved into every tree within a thirty foot radius of the summoning circle. Their conversation had been long and insightful, and although the lord of Oblivion made no effort to hide its desire to see him reduced to ashes and devoured by clannfears, Endar felt that it had been a pleasant experience for both parties.
Unfortunately, the Altmeri had arrived. He had expected them to take longer, but apparently their Attendants of Alaxon were more competent than the average Justiciar. The prince laughed at his misfortune before offering its best-natured farewells and stating that it was eager for their next chat. Endar did the same and turned to face the authorities. There were hundreds of them, their green and golden armor reflecting moonlight even through the trees. He did not fear them. In fact, he was eager to question them. When the leader approached, Endar submitted himself willingly.
... Perhaps the prospect of sitting in an earthy cage with walls of root and stone, the screaming voices of nearby prisoners fresh out of the torture chamber resounding off every brick and bar might sound unappealing to the untraveled. To a wandering scholar like myself, the small space is no less comforting than the large space. The smells of urine, excrement, and festering wounds no less familiar than those of wet grass and burning wood. The screams of mer are not particularly different from those of a thousand species of less intelligent beasts across this realm and many others. My week in a Thalmor dungeon was as much a learning experience as had been my slumber-summoning escapade of chapter 2. It goes without saying that my writings would be of decidedly lower spirits had the torturers put me to the test as well. It is a test they would have failed, of course, but no doubt the experience would have been unpleasant all the same. Naturally, upon discovering who exactly it was that they held, the Dominion cowards refused to so much as approach my cell for any other reason than to bring my bi-daily rations of bread, meat, and water. As if a Telvanni wizard needs to eat! Ha!
Of course, I could have left any time I wished, but there was a Bosmeri rebel in the cell adjacent to mine who -to my uncommon shock- was not only a passable conversationist, but a mer of no small understanding of the limen -the very subject that had brought me to Valenwood! In hindsight, this makes perfect sense, for if there are elves to be found in Dominion lands who are even remotely capable of unconventional thought, they would of course be confined to the prisons. I proposed my hypothesis to the mer, which provoked a five day long discussion that culminated in one of the uncomprehending jailers promptly cutting out my new friend's tongue in a drunken rage. No matter. For all his skill in oration, he had always been an even better listener. To the great fortune of the jailers, someone must have ordered them not to even try harming me. A rare display of intelligence from the Dominion. ...
"Warden says I can do whatever I want with you, gray-skin," hissed the torturer. "So long as you don't die."
Endar groaned feebly. Never in his too-short life had he felt this way before. The pain was bad, but nothing unprecedented. He had felt sensations like it long ago, before he learned to nullify such distractions. However, the powerlessness was something new and frightening. Many a silence curse had failed to so much as soften him, but these Aldmeri magicks were unlike any he had ever witnessed! It would have driven him to anger if not for the bouts of agonizing pain that persisted in distracting him away from it.
"Maybe I should take your tongue again," the brute continued. "Taking it the last time was the most fun I've had in weeks. How's it feeling, anyhow? Did it re-attach okay?"
Endar tried to respond, but all he managed was a weak Mmph, prompting a laugh from his captor. "Of course, I don't know what you expected, talking to yourself for five days straight like that. Of course we cut it out! But I guess a month in forced hyperagonal stasis will do that to anyone, huh?"
He raised his head to look the torturer in the eyes. They were golden and full of malicious joy. He was a mer who loved his job. You're not better than me, Endar wanted to say. None of you. You're all worms.
The torturer responded to his unspoken words by removing his left eye and turning it towards him. Red. "Don't worry. We'll grow it back."
... I should not neglect to mention that for all their discourtesy, the Dominion did not once fail to bring me my food and drink. And despite my lack of immediate need, I did on occasion sample the morsels for the sake of research. What I found was that even in these lowly dungeons where many are condemned to die, the food is surprisingly tolerable. Somewhere near the prison must be a talented baker. They even salted the meat. ...
"We call it the Wood Elf diet," said the jailer as he kicked a plate under the humming, rune-covered bars. Endar did not need to ask why they called it that, but after months in isolation, with no magic and no comforts of any kind, he was beyond caring. He ate every bite.
... and so I decided that one week was enough and took my leave.
As I stated before, it was a learning experience. Now I understand the Aldmeri Dominion and their incessant, never-ending desire to prove themselves in a way that I could not have hoped to prior to my stay in their prison. I understand their foolish (and frankly narcissistic) notions of domination and power. They think themselves better than the rest of us, but it is not so. Through my observations, I have come to the conclusion that deep down, they are all too aware of their inadequacies, and it pushes them to fight all the harder to overcome them. Do not mistake any of this for a weakness that can be exploited. It makes them dangerous. It makes them a foe that will do anything to show the world what they can do. ...
The sunlight nearly blinded Endar as he was marched out of the prison that had housed him for nearly six months. Three Attendants of Alaxon were waiting for him. They smiled when the warden unlocked his shackles. "Such a shame," said the one whose decorative garb suggested he might have been the leader. Endar had never heard a voice more smug. "I hear you were a good little heretic. No doubt the jailers hate to give you up."
"Indeed," said the warden. "Endar and I have become like best friends. Isn't that so, Telvanni?"
The high elves snickered. What felt like a lifetime ago, Endar would have melted their insides then and there, but he could hardly stand, and even with his shackles removed it would be some time before his magicka was even close to restored.
"Still," continued the lead Attendant. His voice grew more serious. "If it were up to me, you'd have died in there, dark elf. Or better yet, we'd cut you down here and now."
"Why can't you?" asked the warden.
"Orders. Some wood elf came and paid a ransom for him. There is a first time for everything, I suppose."
"I didn't know the Attendants of Alaxon took ransoms."
"It was a big ransom. The Bosmer came with a cartload of gems. Said that he misses their 'talks'." The Attendant shrugged. "Besides, we got everything we wanted from him. He's not an enemy. He's hardly even a threat. Look at him."
Laughing, the Dominion soldiers loaded Endar into a locked carriage and sent him north. He never found out where it was bound, for on the second day he destroyed the carriage with one spell and teleported away with another. He never finished his research in Valenwood either, but that hardly mattered now. Valuable though those secrets may be, they would not make him stronger or fix his inadequacies. He was better than the blasted Dominion. He was better than any man or mer alive. And one day, he would prove it.