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Fanfic / Sleeper in the Cave

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Sleeper in the Cave is The Epic novelization of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, written on and off by Kaz on Archive of Our Own.

This particular story follows a very interesting protagonist as — contrarily to everyone's expections — she's not a fighter and stubbornly refuses to become one.

Unfortunately for Adryn, she's currently stuck on a land with oversized wildlife, natives who think giant fleas are good forms of transport, and Imperial spymasters so skooma-addled they think she's spy material. Nonetheless, she has every intention of surviving the rampant stupidity of everyone around her. However, she doesn't know that by setting foot on the island she's set into motion events that cannot be stopped...

Contains the following tropes

  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: The original game had infamously hinted that Divayth Fyr treated his Opposite-Sex Clone "daughters" as his wives. The author found that so creeptastic that the story completely excises this part, leaving Divayth firmly acting as the girls' father.
  • And I Must Scream: Mind Control spells are this to the target, as the caster can force them to do anything, even kill their family and friends, without the possibility to resist.
  • Ascended Extra: Basically everyone, as the author really enjoys fleshing the cast.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Nerevar's marriage with Almalexia quickly devolves into this as he cannot bear to make love with her (not through his own will, he's extremely asexual), and she interprets that as a rejection of her.
  • Awesomeness Is a Force: When Adryn gets to glimpse the living god Vivec, a combination of his oppressive aura and her traumatic Past-Life Memories makes her faint. The clergy reassures her that she's not the first to be overwhelmed by religious ecstasy.
  • Break Them by Talking: A flashback shows Nerevar mercillessly calling Jurgen Windcaller on the Nords' hypocrisy and cruelty towards the Chimer people. This and the assorted ass-beating apparently convinced Jurgen that the Nord pantheon disapproved the war with the elves, leading him to create the Greybeards and completely abandoning fighting.
  • Culture Clash:
    • Adryn is horror-struck to learn slavery still is practised in Morrowind, as she was raised in Skyrim.
    • Ancestor worship is huge in the Dunmer culture, so much that being an orphan is basically treated as a Fate Worse than Death. Adryn needs a little time to understand that, as Parental Abandonment doesn't have a spiritual horror component in Skyrim.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • The reason why Adryn was exiled to Morrowind is strongly implied to be this. It's later revealed that she grew up destitute in Windhelm — and Skyrim is extremely xenophobe towards Dark Elves — and joined the Thieves Guild, only for someone to envy her status as the leader and putting her under Mind Control to make her kill her friends, leading to her arrest.
    • Ajira is born from a Khajiit bloodline abducted to be slaves in Morrowind, and her sister was taken as one, leaving her to raise her nephew on her own.
  • Dreaming of Times Gone By: A sleeping Adryn tends to remember events from Nerevar's life, but unfortunately forgets everything when she wakes up. It's implied that the Tribunal won't let her retain the knowledge.
  • Everyone Has Standards: For all her hostility and annoyance regarding Varvur Sarethi, Adryn is nothing but sympathetic to his plight of having murdered his best friend as he was placed under Mind Control. She lived the same tragedy, after all.
  • Gayngst: A variation, what's troubling at least two characters is their asexuality.
    • Almalexia berated Nerevar for refusing to have sex with her and showing nothing but disgust at the prospect of sharing her bed. He felt deeply ashamed for being a bad husband but couldn't bring himself to give her what she wanted, as he couldn't help feeling violated.
    • As a Buoyant Armiger, Ervesa is expected to be kind of an Ethical Slut and her colleagues expressed frustration and bewilderment over her persistent refusal to take lovers. She ultimately feels so desperate and pressured that she claims Adryn is her girlfriend.
  • Going Native: In spite of having raised in Skyrim, Adryn swiftly adapts to Morrowind to the point she learns to talk Dunmeris and finds herself annoyed when someone doesn't reveal their House affiliation. Of course, Nerevar's memories bleeding into her mind probably help.
  • Honor Before Reason: House Redoran is accused from having this, and Varvur Sarethi certainly acts the part. However, it's mitigated when Adryn gets to meet Varvur's much world-savvy father.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Adryn would be perfectly happy to stay holed up in the library and preparing alchemic concoctions. But people just won't stop giving her quests!
  • Interspecies Friendship: Adryn's foremost amiable relationship on Morrowind happens to be with the Khajiit Ajira.
  • I Was Just Passing Through: Zigzagged. Sometimes Adryn will invoke this, sometimes she accidentally finds herself involved in such bizarre situations that no one will believe her excuses about just being there.
  • Mad Scientist: House Telvanni has a reputation for churning these as if there was no tomorrow. They tend to cause a lot of explosions and experiment on hapless bystanders without bothering with such pesky things as "informed consent".
  • Non-Action Guy: Adryn very emphatically isn't qualified for fighting, something she has to constantly remind of everyone as they persist on sending her on perilous quests.
  • Only One Name: Adryn, courtesy of being an orphan. Several Dunmer look at her askew or pity her for that.
  • Reincarnation: Adryn is the Nerevarine, Saint Nerevar reborn. And she wasn't the first one.
  • Reincarnation-Identifying Trait: Ledd's syndrome is a learning disability which prevents the sufferer from ever being able to use Mysticism. Adryn has it, and her Past-Life Memories mention Nerevar also was afflicted.
  • Running Gag: Young scions from House Redoran being abducted. Adryn seriously considers creating a teaching course to let them learn how to escape on their own.
  • Ship Tease: Adryn seems to be a little too fond of Ervesa the Buoyant Armiger.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: Adryn doesn't hold Varvur Sarethi in high esteem, feeling he's hopelessly stupid. On Varvur's side, he's exasperated by her deeply entrenched pragmatism and mockery of honour.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Adryn just won't stop stumbling upon crazy happening, to her utter irritation.
  • Worthy Opponent: Nerevar delivered such an apocalyptic beating to Jurgen Windcaller that not only the Nord called him a jarl and immediately retreated with all his forces, he completely renunced fighting and became an Actual Pacifist.
  • Young Future Famous People: Nerevar's dreams feature a child Vivec, Jurgen Windcaller before he created the Greybeards, Dagoth Ur before he became a tentacular abomination and Divayth Fyr as an enthusiastic sorcerer apprentice.