Books:Greg Keyes Novels/Annaïg Hoïnart
|Featured in||The Infernal City
Lord of Souls
Annaïg Hoïnart (a.k.a. Thistle or Nn), a pale seventeen-year-old Breton girl with dark curls and gray-green eyes, lived in her father Taig's villa in the hills of the old Imperial quarter of Lilmoth, Black Marsh, four decades after the Oblivion Crisis. Her mother passed away, and her father's estate was looted when the An-Xileel Argonian political party defeated the Imperials and took over Lilmoth. Mere-Glim (or "Glim"), an Argonian, was her friend and partner-in-adventure.
She was somewhat of an alchemist, though her potions were often being tested on herself or Glim, sometimes with less than desirable results. During a normal evening of talking and drinking her father's wine after an adventure, Glim told her about the stories his sailor cousin told, of a large island floating in the air with a city atop it (Umbriel), heading toward Lilmoth.
While speaking with her father about Umbriel, he accidentally suggested that the city tree might not be as connected to the Hist as others. He told her that he was sending her to Leyawiin, and though she didn't argue she decided to go see Umbriel. She sent Glim to see what the Psijic priest Urvwen had to say about the matter, while she went to Hecua to fine-tune her potions. There, she took an ingredient she believed to be the key to her flying potion, which Hecua said came from a man who found it in Oblivion.
At her home, doing virtue tests on the unknown ingredient, she realized Glim had been gone an unusually long time. She called on Coo, a magical metal bird given to her by her mother, through whom she could communicate with others using a magical locket. She sent to bird to find Glim, and then met with her father who wanted to speak with her about her trip to Leyawiin. When she resisted being immediately taken to Leyawiin, an Orc who said he owed her father took her forcefully to a ship with an old Argonian captain. Through Coo, she spoke with Glim, who rescued her from the boat. After their escape, they witnessed Umbriel moving toward the city. Glim was transfixed by it, and seemed to be unable to stop himself from moving toward the ground underneath it. She used her flying potion on them both and tried to pull him away from it, but couldn't, so compromised by pulling them toward the mass itself, into the deepest crevice she could see.
On Umbriel, they watched below as Umbriel's forces battled with and killed Lilmoth residents, and then as the dead were resurrected. Annaïg sent Coo to Prince Attrebus Mede, to inform him of the horrors they'd witnessed. Annaïg and Glim were captured by the kitchen staff that served the lords and ladies of this world, and Annaïg was especially valued for her knowledge of the flora and fauna of her world, which they were using in dishes. When she spoke with the Prince through Coo, she told him of what she'd witnessed so far.
Annaïg was terrorized by master chef Qijne, and was tutored by another chef, Slyr, until a higher kitchen invaded, trying to capture her to work in their kitchen. The rest of the kitchen was slain, and she and Slyr were captured by the opposing chef, Toel. Annaïg lost her locket in the battle but also obtained the invisible blade of Qijne, which wrapped itself around her arm. She met Toel in a beautiful outdoor area of Umbriel. Toel asked her about the place she came from, and revealed to her that the sump, part of Umbriel, in a way recycled the people of Umbriel; it's where they were born from, and where they would go when they die.
Later, Annaïg received a bucket of ingredients from a skraw (those that work the sump). In the bucket she found her locket, and inside it a message from Glim. She responded to Glim's note in a similar manner and they decided to meet the following midnight, at the dock. When she met Glim at the docks, they consumed flying potions Annaïg had made, and begin to fly away from Umbriel, only to find that they had become like the other residents of the city; if they traveled too far from Umbriel, they began to lose their substance. Determined, Annaïg swore to Glim that they would figure out a way to leave Umbriel.
Annaïg tricked Slyr into absorbing an extract of terror but immediately felt bad about it, giving her an antidote. Chef Toel disapproved of this and said that he wished Annaïg had more ambition. Annaïg met with Mere-Glim and they discussed their current position (why they cannot leave Umbriel, whether Attrebus is alive, and the skraw rebellion). She agreed to help with coming up with a substitute for the vapors.
Chef Toel summoned Annaïg to his quarters and told her that his kitchen and four others had been selected to compete for the honor of serving Lord Umbriel himself. One of the main competition in chef Phmer, who had a distinct advantage because she'd discovered the ninth savor of taste (such as the ones Annaïg knew - sweet, salty, sour, etc - and the ones unique to Umbriel, such as quick and ephemeral). Toel ordered Annaïg to also come up with this unknown ninth savor, although he did not have any samples or hints as to what it might be. Annaïg puzzled this out and was joined by Slyr, and eventually came to the conclusion that she needed to steal it from Phmer's kitchen. She sent Glim a note asking for help with this.
Annaïg and Glim met and talked about Umbriel's Hist-like trees and Annaïg suggested destroying them, which Mere-Glim didn't like, and then the topic turned to Annaïg's plan to steal from Phmer's kitchen. Glim told her that at least twenty others have tried and been killed, and Annaïg said that she'd try that night. The next day she was summoned to Toel's quarters, where he was waiting with Phmer. Phmer accused her of stealing from her kitchen - which Slyr had evidently warned her that Annaïg had been planning - and which Annaïg denied. Phmer released a creature that identified the scent of her kitchen on the dress that Slyr was wearing (borrowed from Annaïg) and a vial containing the ninth savor was in her pocket. Phmer took Slyr away, and Toel asked Annaïg how she had done it; she revealed that she had gone far enough into Phmer's kitchen to taint the dress but that she had reinvented the ninth savor on her own.
Annaïg decided that her best chance to survive was to escape Toel on her own by moving up in Umbriel and that the best opportunity to do so would be through the upcoming banquet. When she next met with Glim, Glim pointed out that he'd been helping her but that she hadn't repaid the favor, and she helped come up with a plan that would make it look like the kitchens were sabotaging each other that the skraws could later claim responsibility for. Toel decided that he'd had enough of his kitchen being sabotaged and brought Annaïg there; he ended up getting into a fight with the skraws. During the fight he came face-to-face with Mere-Glim, and Annaïg killed Toel with the invisible blade before he could hurt Glim. In order to try keeping themselves alive, Annaïg suggested that she, Glim, and the two skraws with them make it look like Phmer's kitchen was responsible for Toel's death.
Lord Irrel, the patron of Toel's kitchen, asked the kitchen whether they could still win; Annaïg insisted that they could, and Irrel made it clear that Annaïg was putting her life on the line by doing so. Yeum, one of Chef Toel's two underchefs, offered to be Annaïg's underchef, and Annaïg agreed. Their dishes were served to the lords, and Lord Rhel, personal steward to Lord Umbriel, visited Annaïg afterward, telling her that her kitchen had won and that she would serve Umbriel herself in three days to see if she could please him as she did Lord Rhel.
Annaïg began to prepare a poison for the Hist-like trees, and when she returned to her rooms, she found several people there who brought her to Lord Umbriel himself via flight. He praised her for the meal she had prepared and wondered how she seemed to know he was from Morrowind, and then ordered her to kill Mere-Glim for the trouble he had caused by making some sort of poison that would only affect him. Annaïg reluctantly agreed and began making a poison.
Annaïg grieved over Mere-Glim's body when Lord Rhel brought Glim to her, and after the lord left, she removed a crystal that had formed in Glim's mouth. She looked into her locket, intending to contact Attrebus, realized that he was in bed with a woman, and became upset at him and at herself for feeling that way about him.
Lord Rhel invited Annaïg to a party in his quarters where she could mingle with the other chefs and artists of Umbriel. She wasn't too thrilled with the whole thing, though, and hoped she could send Yeum in the future. When she returned to her kitchen, Yeum informed her that they found an intruder with a knife in the kitchen: Fhena. Fhena told Annaïg that she came to the kitchen to kill Annaïg for killing Mere-Glim. Annaïg revealed that the poison she made caused his body to grow a crystal similar to a soulgem that held his soul, thoughts, and memories, and that she was using it to grow a proform of Glim in her bath which would be fully formed in a few days.
Mere-Glim finally awakened in his new body, and Annaïg told him what she had done. He was furious and declared that he would no longer be one of her experiments, and stormed out. Attrebus contacted Annaïg via Coo immediately afterward and told her of his and Sul's plan to use the sword Umbra against Vuhon.
Annaïg poisoned the Hist-like trees, and Glim and Fhena found her immediately afterward. He warned her to stop, that the trees only wanted to go back home and that if Annaïg went through with poisoning them, Umbriel and everyone on it, including Mere-Glim, would die. Just as she tried to process all this, her locket alerted her that Attrebus was trying to contact her. He told her what happened with Vuhon. Annaïg told Glim what was going on, and asked him to bring up Sul and Attrebus. He refused unless she'd save the trees. She admitted that she had an antidote, and would administer it once Glim did as she asked. He insisted she give it first since there might not be enough time, and even threatened to use force on her, and then begged that she trust him. They shared a memory of when they were children, and Annaïg handed him the antidote.
Vuhon found Annaïg and said that he had to absorb Rhel and three other lords to remain alive, and he attacked her. Glim returned with Attrebus and Sul, and Annaïg revealed to Glim that she'd realized that Vuhon's soul was in the ingenium at the bottom of the sump. Vuhon's spell paralyzed Annaïg, and Fhena pulled her out of the way while the others began to fight Vuhon and then run down to the sump.
Annaïg and Fhena felt a difference in Umbriel when the ingenium was stabbed, and they were reunited with Glim and Attrebus not long afterward. Glim told Annaïg that she'd now be able to leave Umbriel without dissolving into smoke, and that he was staying with Umbriel himself, that he'd found his place. She was upset but realized that she needed to put his desires before hers, and they say goodbye. Annaïg gave Attrebus a flying potion and asked him to take her hand.
After Umbriel's disappearance, Annaïg and Attrebus rode together and talked about their feelings for each other, and decided they wanted to spend the years together.