I don't fancy myself a writer, but sometimes inspiration strikes, and you can't well turn it back. My main Skyrim character has been wearing the Masque of Clavicus Vile for quite some time now, ever since she received it; I like it, but I've often been wondering what she thinks of it, how she feels about it, and how others see it. Tonight I ended up writing a short piece of what I imagine could be called fan fiction, exploring these things.
Without further ado...
Ma'Oglala looked at herself in the bowl of water. Slitted eyes gazed back at her with a thoughtful expression; over the last year, they had slowly become unfamiliar to her, ever since she had started wearing the mask. She was still pretty, she mused; she took a moment to contemplate her reflection, her high cheekbones, the elegant curve of her muzzle, the brown dreadlocks with the golden rings woven into them, all the little things that had turned the heads of so many men and quite a few women back home in Elsweyr. Almost without noticing, she ran her fingers through her hair and smiled a toothy smile. Yes, still pretty.
The mask's heavy coolness in her lap tugged at her attention.
Breaking her gaze from the water's smooth surface, she took the mask and held it in front of her face. Its weight had felt unfamiliar at first even though she'd worn helmets ever since coming of age, and the leather padding had caused her fur to itch with sweat, but she'd gotten used to both, and now it was when she removed the mask that she felt incomplete. With few exceptions, she only ever took it off for two reasons anymore: to polish it, and to sleep, and then only at home. Out in Skyrim's wilderness, it was better to sleep in one's armor — a lesson she had learned the hard way.
The mask was smooth and rough under her fingers, solid polished metal alternating with intricate carvings and adornments.
What she saw in it, she couldn't have said. When the daedric lord whose name it bore had granted it to her, she'd been disappointed. A battleaxe would've been a boon after her taste, but a mask? She'd planned to shelve it, add it to her collection of curiosities, all the bits and artifacts that told the tales of her countless travels.
But it had called to her, and she had tried it on. Just to see what it felt like, at first; and she'd taken it off again quickly, a strange and unknown feeling suddenly forming in her gut, leaving her wondering if the mask might be cursed. She still wasn't sure it was not – the allure it held was perhaps a curse in its own right, she mused –, but there were no ill effects. There had never been any ill effects.
The mask rested in her hands, patiently, quietly.
Quite the opposite was true, in fact. When she'd started wearing it, she had been anxious about others' reactions; friends, strangers, children in particular. Surely they should've been intimidated by its unmoving iron features, by the air of soullessness it lent her, but to her surprise, people had loved it. Her friends thought it befitted her power and status; in strangers, it commanded respect. And the children? The children could never get over it; they were fascinated by it, always asked where she'd gotten it, wanted to look at it, to touch it... yet never to wear it.
She shook her head as if trying to shake off her thoughts. With a fluidity that betrayed long practice, she unlocked the clasps at the back and opened the mask; taking a deep breath, she pressed the cool leather interior against her face and shifted the mask into place, then closed it as quickly as she had opened it. The clasps snapped shut, and she ran her fingers over her head as she stared at her reflection once more, an iron face now atop iron armor, unblinking eyes, a carved moustache, horns protruding from her forehead. The mask felt cold under her fingers, but the inside was comfortable and warm.
She'd only take it off again when night fell. Or perhaps she would leave it on today. If this was the mask's curse, she would gladly submit to it.
I've spent about 45 minutes writing this and ironing out all the stylistic niggles I could find. If you have any feedback or tips, I'd be grateful. And if you like it... well, let me know, too. :)
EDIT, 2015-01-09: changed "what she found about it" to "what she saw in it".
EDIT, 2015-01-29: posted on skyrimforums.org.
EDIT, 2015-01-30: posted on fanfiction.net.
EDIT, 2016-09-08: posted on AO3.