Behind the icy veneer, in the privacy of our bedrooms and in our most intimate of thoughts, all mortals turn to those emotions that are timeless.
– Morviah Hlaalu
I’m a sucker for old timey movies. Not the movies themselves – I would rather french kiss a werecroc than sit through two hours of prehistoric cinema – but the idea of the classic film. The black and white aesthetic. Film noir cool. The leading man with a cigarette in one hand, a shot of whiskey in the other, and a dame on his lap reading him the news.
I’m a sucker for those old romances. That high society class. Grace Kelly. Lauren Bacall. I’m a sucker for Ingrid Bergman, leaning over a table with those glassy eyes, imploring the piano man to play it again. Play “As Time Goes By.” Part of me wonders if Sam should just say, “Fuck you, Miss Ilsa, I play what I want,” but the other part of me gets completely sucked in.
Morviah Hlaalu was written in one of the self-deluded dream fevers where my entire mental state was locked in the 1940s. I had Ingrid Bergman in my head and Dooley Wilson in my ears, and while it was an era full of war and turmoil and hills of beans that didn’t amount to anything, the fundamental things would outlast all of them. Those are the things that mattered.
Morviah’s story is about love in a time of war. It’s about two people finding each other and the world conspiring to keep them apart.
It couldn’t have happened anywhere other than Windhelm. The atmosphere of the city is cold and bleak. The Nord/Dunmer dynamic, and its connection to the racial strife of the 50s and 60s stretches to literally every corner of the city – even the name New Gnisis Cornerclub sounds like a title for a jazz album. There’s tension, and there’s animosity. So when Morviah drops a flower and Balrund lifts it off the ground, it’s supposed to mean something. Somehow, through the cracks of hard, uneven stone, love finds a way to bloom.
Or something like that. With the story written and Dooley Wilson now having moved into my ear and watching TV on the cushions of my cochlea, the next task was to find an actor. Most of the existing roster was good, but their voices were relatively young, more Audrey Hepburn than Katharine. Morviah required a more regal, authoritative voice. It was by chance, when listening to Lila Paws‘ recording of Anum-La, that she snuck her normal voice into the track, just to announce the line number. I’d probably corresponded with her for months and listened to her do half a dozen characters prior to that, and it wasn’t until then that I actually heard her real voice.
It was as if she was there, giving me that look, asking me to play that song. A man waits his entire life to see that look, but thankfully, I didn’t have to wait that long.