LotS: Frost Moon Chapter Twenty-Four - Dawnstar

  • Dawnstar

     

    Dawnstar was as wretched as he remembered. The air ws heavy with the tang of salt-water, with each salty breath freezing in his lungs only to thaw and get pushed out in a puff of mist streaming behind him.

     

    The sun still slept below the horizon, and would slumber on for a few more hours. Mor’vahka was not alone on the cold stone path to the city; without horses of their own, the small group of four looked ragged, taking the abusing wind with bowed heads and staggered steps.

     

    Mor’vahka rode past them, steering his mare around the creaking cart half the group were pushing.

     

    He was not challenged at the city’s entrance; never one to forgo caution, Mor’vahka made sure he was appropriately covered. Thin black tail wrapped around his leg, his claws gloved, face concealed by a cloth and dark hood, he would have been suspicious if the rest of the inhabitants didn’t dress this way also.

     

    As one last precaution, Mor’vahka made sure the amulet of Arkay was showing.

     

    Only the inn was open at this hour, though the docks were full of murmurs and creaking wood as the fishermen began the morning’s work. Their shadows flitted across the water like wraiths, as each man and woman dipped in and out of the paths of stout lanterns lit upon the wharf.

     

    Thoring was not behind the counter when Mor’vahka entered, but there was a glow in the long stone hearth, and the soft closing of the door caught the attention of something in the corner.

     

    A boy sat up, yawning deeply as he pushed the heap of animal skins from his legs. “I’ll get Thoring—”

     

    “No need. I will wait.”

     

    At the subtle lilt of Mor’vahka’s accent, Alesan’s brown eyes widened, and he approached with the same aura a child might approach a dog with a bone. Eager for a closer look, fearful of getting bitten.

     

    “Are you — Are you the cat priest?”

     

    Mor’vahka could see the gossamer dregs of a cobweb in the boy’s short, kinked black hair.

     

    He placed a reasonable sum into the boy’s hand.
    “See to my horse. Gray, black mane. She answers to Ralitha.”

     

    The child would never be able to roll his r’s the way the horse’s name was meant to be pronounced, but she would accept his care regardless of this minor indignity.

     

    While Alesan hurried to do as he was told, Mor’vahka settled at the fireside to wait for Thoring to appear.

     

    In enough time for the fire to burn even lower, consuming the last of its fuel, the middle-aged innkeeper appeared, scratching himself and calling hoarsely for the boy.

     

    “I thought I heard the door—” Thoring made a noise like a trodden skeever.

     

    Mor’vahka pulled down his face cover, teeth and whiskers catching the firelight.

     

    “Mara’s Mercy, cat. You could’ve said something.” Recovering, Thoring went behind the counter, forearms hefted onto the heavy skyrim pinewood top. “How long are you staying? I’m grateful for what you did for my Helena, but you know the rules… Skald doesn’t want your kind here.”

     

    Mor’vahka’s tail twitched. “Yes,” he let the ‘s’ carry on longer than it needed to, trailing off into a sibilant exhale.

     

    “This one knows he is unwelcome. That is why I have come to you.” Mor’vahka opened his pack and placed the silver arrowhead mould upon the counter. “One-hundred bolts. quicksilver. Four ingots of iron, six ingots of quicksilver.”

     

    Thoring sighed. “Rustleif was very curious the last time I did this. Do you have a good excuse for needing a hundred bolts capped with quicksilver? I don’t think he bought my last one.”

     

    Mor’vahka’s golden eyes seared in the slow flame of the candles on the counter.
    “Restocking the Vigilants of Stendarr.”

     

    Thoring’s face twisted. “You do know that the Hall’s been… destroyed?”

     

    Of course he knew.
    “All the more reason to restock.”

     

    The innkeeper finally nodded, not about to stand between a warrior priestess and a vendetta.
    “I’ll see what I can do.”

     

    Mor’vahka placed a heavy purse of coins on the table.
    “I will return at nightfall.”

     

    Thoring took the coins, grimacing.

     

    ♦♦♦

    The Khajiit were barred from all Hold capitals; there was little else in the ways of steady labor for them in the settlements and small towns dotting Skyrim like freckles.

     

    That left only a handful of options for his kind. Banditry, caravaning - where they would hawk wares outside the city gates - and joining the Thieves’ Guild.

     

    Such is the nature of limited opportunities; these three career paths all converged at a single point. Ri’saad, a savvy merchant in charge of the caravans that wandered Skyrim. They made a habit of accepting and fencing stolen goods. Some of Ri’saad’s caravaners had even been bandits before he’d hired them on.

     

    If Ra’jirr had reached Dawnstar, then he would have stopped one of the caravans to peddle stolen merchandise and leave Mor’vahka a message.

     

    When the priest of Arkay stepped beyond the city’s edge, he laid eyes on stout elk-skin tents, a cooking fire, and bootprints in the snow. The four travelers he had passed earlier now looked at him with muted expressions. Observing the cautious stillness of their tails, Mor’vahka knew to tread carefully.

     

    “Dark One,” murmured a female Khajiit with gray, black-marked fur.

     

    After so long in Skyrim, Mor’vahka welcomed the sound of his native tongue. It had been too long since he’d heard it. Since he’d heard his daughter’s voice.

     

    Ta’agra rolled off his tongue. “This one seeks Ahkari.”

     

    Zaynari directed him to the main tent, where an armored Khajiit with a gold earring watched with a narrowed stare.

     

    Mor’vahka approached the tent. “This one will have words with Ahkari.”

     

    “What is the nature of your conversation, Dark One?” The caravan guard did not move.

     

    “That is between this one and Ahkari.” Mor’vahka’s tail tip flicked, a warning flex.

     

    Dro’marash laughed, the sound short and dry.
    “Remember, you have no more claws than the rest of us, Mor’vahka. Do not think this one’s rage and grief gives the advantage in a fight.”

     

    Dro’marash moved the tent flap aside, allowing the strong scents of incense and spice to drift out, mixing with the northern wind. “Make no trouble, receive no trouble.”

     

    It was a rule that could easily be abided; he needed information, not confrontation. Mor’vahka entered, and greeted the female Khajiit dipping a piece of bread into a still-bubbling pot of fondue.

     

    She offered him a seat with a gesture, and Mor’vahka took it. Now on the rug opposite her, he helped himself to a small wedge of cheese from the platter, but ignored the fondue.

     

    “Ra’jirr.”

     

    “The boastful one,” said Ahkari, spearing an apple slice onto a dipping fork.

     

    “Has Ahkari seen Ra’jirr in recent memory?”

     

    She watched the caramel-colored fondue drip along the edge of the apple slice, the caravanner turning the fork to improve coverage. “Yes, a half moon ago.”

     

    A half moon. Roughly two weeks. Mor’vahka hissed beneath his breath. He could blame no one but the courier for missing Ra’jirr by such a large margin.

     

    “Will he return?” Mor’vahka demanded, setting the cheese wedge aside - tiny pinpricks left where his claws had punctured it. “Were you given a message?”

     

    “Yes, though you are too late.” Ahkari cared little for his temper, and showed as much with a disdainful chuckle in the back of her throat.

     

    Mor’vahka held his breath, mentally counting the spots that had haloed his mate’s throat like a necklace. Six. In a less volatile state, Mor’vahka tried again, withdrawing his clenched claws from the stout table. “Too late?”

     

    “He has the touch of Sheggorath.” Ahkari set the fork aside, not before licking the last of the sugar from the tines.

     

    “Ra’jirr is sane enough to ask for this one’s help.”

     

    Ahkari’s luminous ice-blue eyes fixed on him. She produced a letter from her sleeve - a dingy piece of paper, folded in half. “One can call out and shout nonsense to the wind. See for yourself.”

     

    Mor’vahka took the paper, flicked it open.

     

    He sucked in an astonished breath, pupils opening in the low light to read the mess before his eyes. Words swarm over the page; some partial sentences, some written large enough to read even if he held the paper at arm’s length, and some words so small and faint, it was as if Ra’jirr’s quill - and his will - had run out.

     

    There were words and phrases that repeated.

    Forest. sword. shadow. Frost. In my head. Pale Lady.
    Must fix it.
    Mere.
    Frost. Crypt. Death.
    Forest.
    Shadow.
    Sword.

     

    The word sword was underlined twice every time it appeared.

     

    Mor’vahka refolded the note, and placed it in his pocket as he stood.
    “Which direction did Ra’jirr depart?”

     

    “Southeast.” Ahkari gestured to the dark shadow of Dro’marash outside the tent. “Dro’marash tells of hearing Ra’jirr muttering to himself and jumping at the slightest noise.”

     

    So Ra’jirr could not have traveled far from Dawnstar; there was no settlements other than this one in The Pale. Only crypts and ice wraiths.

     

    Mor’vahka closed his eyes, mapping the route by memory. He would find the main road, then start near the ruined Hall before sweeping westward.

     

    “You cannot cure madness, Dark One.” Ahkari cautioned.

     

    Mor’vahka donned his hood. “No. But I can destroy its source.” And he would. Ra’jirr had been right to contact him.

     

    He would gather supplies from Thoring and purchase leather goods from Ahkari while he had the chance. Then he would find this crypt of Ra’jirr’s. Mor’vahka did not believe in optimism. Ra’jirr was a lost cause. The threat, however, still thrived, and that was the only part of this cry for help that had ever really mattered.

     

     

     

     

    Mod Featured: JK's Dawnstar found here.

Comments

8 Comments   |   Sinistas and 8 others like this.
  • Paws
    Paws   ·  July 30
    Make no trouble, receive no trouble. A lesson to be learned there :D This chapter is mighty, dark and gloomy. 
    • SpottedFawn
      SpottedFawn
      Paws
      Paws
      Paws
      Make no trouble, receive no trouble. A lesson to be learned there :D This chapter is mighty, dark and gloomy. 
        ·  July 30
      You've nearly caught up! I really appreciate you taking the time to read it all. Means a lot. :) Thank you.
      • Paws
        Paws
        SpottedFawn
        SpottedFawn
        SpottedFawn
        You've nearly caught up! I really appreciate you taking the time to read it all. Means a lot. :) Thank you.
          ·  July 30
        The pleasure is all mine, just sorry it took me so long :)  I'm lovin' the Skaalifawnication, and the pussy is awesome  (@) Too much? 
  • SpottedFawn
    SpottedFawn   ·  July 20
    Thanks so much, guys! This was one of my favorite chapters to write. I enjoyed using a different race than the usual. :)
  • The Lorc of Flowers
    The Lorc of Flowers   ·  July 19
    Marked by Sheggorath? Well, that should be interesting. And yes, you did really amazing job with the Khajiit speech. Well done :)
    • SpottedFawn
      SpottedFawn
      The Lorc of Flowers
      The Lorc of Flowers
      The Lorc of Flowers
      Marked by Sheggorath? Well, that should be interesting. And yes, you did really amazing job with the Khajiit speech. Well done :)
        ·  July 20
      Haha, that's just a fancy way of saying he's gone crazy. :P
  • Lissette Long-Chapper
    Lissette Long-Chapper   ·  July 16
    I always like Mor'vahka chapters. He is one cool kitty. 
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  July 16
    Nice chapter. In particular, I enjoyed the interaction between the boy and  Mor’vahka although you did a splendid job with the Khajiit's speech as well.