C.O.T.W Chapter 25: Soul At War

  • Sheogorath, Hircine and Azure steeped out of the portal in a marshy section of the Hunting Grounds. They waded through the water

    and emerged on the other side, the two daedric gods sat in the grass talking. Azure slunk away from the group because he had

    caught a scent, it was a familiar scent, one he had not smelled in a long time. Hasir looked at the water as he walked along the

    grassy cliff that ran alongside it. The reflection that walked with him was not his own reflection, at least one he had never seen

    before.

     

    Azure stopped and looked down at the water, instead of a wolf staring back at him, there was something...else entirely. This creature

    stood on two slightly bent legs, instead of front and rear paws, it had humanoid apendages and an elongated truk, even though it

    retained its wolfish facial features, it looked more humanoid than wolf. Azure backed away from the water's edge and crashed into a

    rocky cliff just feet from the water. He hit the rock face so hard that he toppled over, he tried get up but a cascade of rocks fell on

    top of his, he tried fending off tthe rocks with his paws but their relentless assault continue, many rocks fell past him, but, one

    massive rock landed on his head, knocking him unconscious.

    He woke up minutes later, expecting it all to be a dream. He clawed his way through the grass to the water's edge, leaving massive

    claws marks in the grass as he did so, He looked down half-expecting the normal grey wolf to be staring back at him. It was not so,

    however, when the same massive, blundering man-beast stared back at him. He sat down on a nearby rock and put his head in his

    paws. 

     

    There it was again that familiar scent, the grey werewolf got up and ran, on all fours, in the direction the scent was coming from.

    Trees and rocks fell to the wayside as he crashed through tem. He ran at far greater speed that he could have never thought

    possible when he was stuck as a black and white wolf. As he ran, something dawned on him, What if Adrian had somehow cursed

    Hircine's children to live out their lives as normal wolves thereby making them easy prey for the silver hand? Thus completing Molag

    Bal's directive for him?

     

    He thought some more on this while running through the trees, swiping at the trunks as he plowed through the grass. His lip pulled

    back and his mouth opened to unleash a mighty roar. The wildlife that was in the grassy fields scattered as the angry werewolf

    streaked past. He skidding to halt about halfway through the field and stood on two legs, lifted his head up and sniff the air. The

    scent had changed direction. He got back down on all fours and shot off in a westerly direction. About five feet onwards, he came to

    a rocky cliff. The scent seemed like it was coming from behind that cliff. Azure bared his teeth and let out an earth shattering roar,

    shattering the rock.

     

    He found what the scent's source behind the boulder. The scent was coming from a silver female werewolf that had just run down a

    deer that was flocking in the wild, her mate, a brown furs werewolf that had three streaks of black fur along his back. Azure

    wandered around to his front and sniffed the werewolves' fur. A familiar scent came off of him as well. I know those scents, but from

    where do I know them? The wolf thought. A lightbulb went off in his brain. Suddenly, realization dawned on him, this was his father,

    well, not his persay, but that of his reptilian form. Azure ripped his eyes away from his father's forearm and looked over to the silver

    werewolf, cocking his head a tad. His opened his mouth and tried to speak but all that came out was a whine. He approached her

    and buried his head in her chest, surrounding himself with her scent. The silver werewolf backed off a bit and, lips pulled back

    snarled at him as if to say I do not recognize you, stray wolf, now back away before I bite. 

    The grey werewolf tried again to nuzzle his head to her chest, finally the she-wolf had enough of this an got down on all fours and

    growled at the intruder. The grey werewolf did not need to be told agin, he tucked his tail between his legs and backed away from

    the alpha bitch, only stopping when hit bumped in the bottom of a rocky cliff about five feet tall. Azure look up and saw the wolflord

    at the top of the rock, he had obviously teleported there from where he sat on the grassy island moments before Azure thought.

     

    Hircine addressed the wolves. Azure thought he was just addressing the two wolves, but more wolves came, ones with grey hides,

    brindle, blonde, different shades of red and black ones as well,

    "My loyal hounds," He began, "It is that time again, the bloodmoon is upon us." Azure turned around and saw there indeed was a

    moon that shone blood red in the sky. He rotated around to look up at the wolflord. "My hounds, the hare for this hunt isa grey

    werewolf with blue eyes. Whoever kills it and brings me his pelt is to be the alpha of my pack. He unstraped a golden horn that hung

    from his belt and blew into it. The hunt had begun.

     

    Azure ran as fast as he could through the fields, tree and plants until he found a rock overhang with enough blank space to hide in.

    He figured he woul hunker down here until the bloodmoon descended, ending the great hunt. The werewolves sniffed the ground

    nearby as well as the air to try to catch Azure's scent. Hircine chose Scarface to lead this particular hunt as he was the most

    accompished hunter as well as the recipient of more boons than any other hunter, his wife even did not have nearly as many as he

    did. She was merely his underling in this hunt. She never lead in any hunts, she was always overshadowed by the stronger wolves

    for every hunt.

     

    Scarface stood on paws big enough to crush bones and sniffed the air, he let lose a mighty howl, one that caused the ground the

    tremble somewhat as the other wolves echoed his cry, they knew what that meant, he had found the scent. The werewolves all

    followed suit as he lowered his nose to ground level and started moving as the scent moved in and out of his nose. Scarface

    continued the act of flaring his nostrils to move the air filled with the scent in and out until he and the other werrewolves were

    behind the rock overhang Azure was crouching n the other side of.

     

    Azure could smell them, their stink of wet fur permeated the air. He couuld hear the wolves wolves growl behind the thick rock

    barrier. He knew death was imminent. 

    From high atop his perch on the rock overlooking the valley where the hunt was underway, the wolflord smiled to himself,

    "The Bloodmoon falls but the prey yet lives, I extent my congratulations steadfast hunters, you have outlasted my hounds, not the

    tables are turned, the hunters become the hunted. The wolflord blew his hunting horn a second time to denote the second face of

    his hunt, after all what good would a hunt be if it were always one sided? 

     

    Azure snuck out of his rocky burrow tail down, ears flat and in a crouched position. He moved to the edge of the rocky outcrop and

    cautiously peered around the corner. He could see that every wolf that hunted him down had changed into three red haired nords,

    one golden haired imperial, two grey hared bretons with matching beards, one brindle furred khajiit, a black haired redguard and

    two argonians, one wearing a psiijic order robe as well as blue eyes and the other with brown hair and matching eyes. 

     

    Upon seeing the huge grey werewolf staring at them, saliva dripping from it's open maw as it licked his lips, the former predators

    ran for their lives, scattering to the four winds, hoping that the wind would scatter their scents, confusing Azure. It did not, being an

    expert tracker got down on all four and sniffed the ground, a powerful scent filled his nostrils as he allowed it to filter in and out of

    his nose, though, his nose was too overwhelmed by the scents of nature around him. He cleansed his nasal passages by doing the

    same thing a dog does when he they want to experience a new smell.

     

    He looked dowwn againa and saw several tracks of footprints leading off in different directions, each carried with it its own scent.

    Azure decided to play it smart and not follow any tracks as he knew his prey was trying to trick him. Instead, he let loose a mighty

    howl that reached lake, forest and even up in the treetops. His ears flicked forward and back as he listened for any sign of

    movement. He decided to ambush his prey by laying lowing in a grove of tress so that he could stalk the prey unnoticed and the

    strike merciessly.

    He Lay low in the grass surrounded by the copse of trees for about a few minutes until his nose picked up the scent of three nords.

    He leapt out and caught  the nords by spurprised, using his teeth to wrench the nords' throats out, splattering blood on the grass.

    He stalked the breton and khajiit next, from their scent, he knew they were hiding out somewhere in the forest.

     

    He went stealthily in that direction using the trees for cover. He saw them running through the forest, could hear their feet crunching

    over leaves. His bright blue eyes shone brilliantly in the amber sunlight.

     

    He could hear the breton and khajiit talking in hushed voices,

    "Vignor, which way do you think the wolf went? Do you think he's on to us?" The khajiit asked, frightened.

     

    The breton shot the khajiit a slightly annoyed look,

    "Dri'jheun, pull yourself together will you? Werewolves are peabrains, therefore, I don't think he will ever spot, much less kill us."

     

    They were wrong on two accounts: werewolves do not have pea sized brains and the wolf had indeed saw them. The khajiit stopped,

    his fur stood on end, the breton asked why he stopped, the frightened cat point to  a pair of tress where in between them a giant

    orb-like blue eye was clearly visible.

     

    The khajiit turned to the breton,

    "Still think werewollves are dumb?" The Breton, not taking his eyes of the giant blue eye shook his head.

     

    Azure crashed through the trees, slashing at them with giant claws wwhile using his massive jaws to biting into their chests, rip out

    their hearts and mash it between his huge teeth.He satlked the other grey haired breton and golden haired imperial next, this time

    leading him into a marsh, he could smell them cowering inside a huge rotten tree trunk in the center of the marsh. Azure swiped at

    the tree trunk with one massive paw, scattering bits of wood to the four winds. The force of the attack outright killed the two

    unfortunate souls that cowered foolishly inside it. The Grey werewolf then sniffed the edge of the murky water, he picked up two

    argonian hiding underwater, clinging to the underside of the rocky shelf that ran the length of the marsh.

     

    They gave off the same scents as the werewolves Azure smelled earlier. Hircine watched in awe as Azure struggled with a rather

    difficult decision: Honor the wolflord and kill the people who raised him or betray the wolflord and let them live? Whatever the

    decision, Hircine would smile upon him either way. Hircine conjured a black and blue portal at the rocky cliff peak, stepped though it

    and appeared next to the grey werewolf.

     

    He smiled at his hound and congratulated him,

    "You have done well my hound. The true measure of a hunter is not when to kill his prey but when to spare his prey.

    Congratulations." Sheogorath reappeared next to Hircine

    Just as he was about to shake the hound's paw, a malicious voice echoed through the hunting grounds,

    "Foolish daedric lords, did you really think you could abandon my servant and keep him in that mansion?"

     

    Sheogorath hollered back,

    "Molag Bal, you stupid lordd of nothing, what insolence is this? Did my servant escape"?

     

    "MWAHAHA, oh, sheogorath, so niave,, he did indeed."

     

    "How, did he turned into cheese and wiggle out through a rat hole?"

     

    "Hmmph, not quite, he teleport out. Looks like you should keep closer eye on your pets."

     

    Molag Bal became corporeal, and trapped Hircine in an impenetrable orb,

    "Well, well, 'wolflord' did you think you could evade me so easily? You and I have unfinished business, HYAH!" He flung Hircine so

    hard he hit the opposite rock wall with such force that his leg shattered. He tried to sick Azure on the price of molestation but, the

    evil daedra grabbed Hircine and pinned him against the rock wall that had bloodstains already forming. 

     

    He bent down and whispered  to Hircine,

    "I will give you the same courtesy you showed me, none, HA!"

     

    He stood up, strode over to Azure, conjured a dark purple crystal out of thin air and forced it into the werewolf's chest. He began to

    shrink, arms, legs, chest and snout, they shurnk until there was nothing more than a normal wolf standing where the once proud

    werewolf had stood. Haasir could do nothing but watch in horror. Molag bal turned to Hircine and said that the crystal cannot be

    removed no matter how hard he tried. He told the wolflord that even now the dark gem is transfroming all of his children to normal

    wolves and that it could not be reversed.

    Inigo dabbed the Argonian's head with a damp cloth that he had moistened from the bucket that lay between his legs. The argonians

    muscled twitched as if of their own accord, Inigo had to duck to avoid being punched or kicked in the head. My friend, what are you

    thinking? Why do you make these muscle movements? He thought. He got up and headed for the front of the ship where tthe

    captian's cabin stood.. Once he got there, the khajiit wrapped his long, furry blue fingers around the black curved door handle and

    pulled open the corrogated wooden door.

     

    Inigo stepped inside and a stale, musty smell assaulted his nose,

    "UGH! My fleas would not like it here, they like prettier smelling surroundings." He said, wrinkling his nose.

     

    He stared into a long empty corridor and saw three doors that lead to different rooms on the ship as well as a staircase leading from

    the perpendicular hallway down to the lower level of the ship. At the end of the corridor with the two doors that were off to the right

    was another door, one that looked the same as the door Inigo had just come in. He opened it and stepped over the threshold and

    saw Quinchal standing behind the wheel of the ship.   

     

    Quinchal did not see the cat but smelled him instead, could hear his blood pumping through his veins,

    "Inigo, come in, To what may I owe this unexpected visit?" He asked, not turning around.

     

    "Quinchal, I am worried that my friend's brain does not escape through his nose, I don't know what is going on with him. He almost

    punched me in the head. Allow me the teeniest of glimpses into what is going on it my friend's head" Quinchal spun around and

    faced Inigo. The tsaesci's eyes shone bright red in the near darkness of the

    room. The cat got down 

     

    The tsaesci stared intently at the khajiit and shook his head,

    I am sorry ffurred one, I cannot do as you ask because his mind, erm, I mean his emotions are being fought over by two powerful

    daedric lords, it simply cannot be done." 

     

    The khajiit fell onto his kness and begged the tsaesci to let him in Hasir's mind,

    "Tsaesci, please, I beg of you, let me inside my friend's mind, he might be dying at the hands of those daedric princes. Give me this.

    Do you not what me to sleep well at night knowing my friend is safe? Do you want me to stay awake worrying every second if his

    well being is being protected? I saw my friend's muscles jerking around, not sleep jerking. I could literally feel his muscle sinues

    crying out in pain, for someone to relieve them from their anguish, please allow me this." 

     

    The blue Khajiit's words have touched Quinchal heart, or lack there of,

    "Alright Inigo, I will let you into his mind, but only for twelve hours, any more and you could permanently disruppt whatever is

    happening in his mind causing a mind explosion.

     

    Inigo stood up and stared in wonder at the tsaesci,

    "Ehrm, what is a mind explosion? That sounds painful."

     

    The Tsaesci sighed, walked over to a bookshelf, selected a book from the shelf, walked over to Inigo and held the book out to Inigo,

    the hajiit went to grab it, Quinchal's hands sprung backwards,

    "This is the sacred book of dreams called 'the dreamstridder' it chronicles the wonders of dreamwalking," He held up a menacing

    finger, "but, it also diiscribes in detail what can go wrong if one tampers with or overstays their welcome in a dream. He could alter

    the subject's mental; state or, as I explained before, the subject's mind could explode.

     

    Inigo thought of Hasir's brain exploding, Sending strands of grey matter everywhere, he smiled to himself,

    "Kaboom, hehe. I bet I could make brain pie with all that exoploding brain matter." 

     

    Quinchal'sface screwed up in disgust as he groaned heavily,

    "UGH! By th nines Inigo, stop acting like a child. I need you to focus as this book is your friend's lifeline as in this book can either

    seal or prevent a dark fate for your friend."

     

    Inigo sighed, hung his head in shame and apologized,

    "I am sorry mr. tsaesci but mr. dragonfly here told me a funny joke earlier and I had been replayed that joke overe and over in my

    head."

     

    Quinchal paysed and tried to grasp what Inigo had just said,

    "Mr. dragonfly? who in Oblivion is he?" The golden snake asked.

     

    Inigo dismissed the thought with a wave of his hand,

    "EH, it doesn't matter, I can tell you the truly awe-inspiring story some other time, now, what was it you wanted to tell me?" He

    asked.

     

    The tsaesci spent the next five minutes going over the instructions again with the smart blue cat. This time, however, the khajiit did

    not make any smart or snide remarks or comments aboout exploding brain matter. Instead, Inigo's brain was lost in a world all his

    own, he was never any good at paying attention for extended periods of time as he would become bored with the convversation if

    the party he was talking to droned on about it for too long.

     

    He shoved the book into the blue cat's chest and told him to take this to Hasir, open it when in proximity of his friend and only then

    can he recite the incantation that will enable him to enter his friend's mind. Inigo nodded even though he hardly understood any of it

    and left the cabin. He went to the rear of the ship with the book, opened it and started to recite the incantation.

    Inigo waited,, however, nothing happened for a long time, then something did. Blue energy lept off of the pages of the dreamstride,

    the book started flipping through itself without aid. Inigo recoiled from the book, dropping it in the process. Two columns of bright

    yellow light flew up from the pages, the columns began iintrtwining themselves, one around the other. Inigo stared in awe as the

    spiral of light turned sideways and crept towards the unconscious argonian. It entered the argonian's nostrils and went up to his

    brain. It entered Hasir's 'dream' and filled it completely, a portal of yellow light appeared on the edge of Hircine's realm. Azure got

    up wearily after the force of having the crystal shoved into him. Azure stared into that portal with a perplexed look on his wolfish

    face. Who is that reptilian creature lying on that floating boat I he pondered on this thought for a long time.

     

    His ears caught something on the wind, a whisper as silent as the trees. Azure, come to me, I miss you, in fact we all miss you,

    come home. The voice repeated the same message. In faact, the voice was the light, was the light portal that he saw his 'reflection'

    in. He looked over to Hircine and whined. He ran for the portal as fast as he could, his paws drummed against the ground, his breath

    hot in his nostrils, his heart beating heavy in his chest. When he was within three feet of the portal, he used his strong back legs to

    launch himself at the portal. The wolf entered the portal and everything went black, he wasn't dead, just in in the black room he met

    Sheogorath in. He barked and his bark bounced off of the walls and came back full force back to his ears, he whined. 

     

    He scanned the darkness and heard a familiar hitch-pitched voice,

    "Well, Mr. Wolf," Sheogorath sighed, "I'll be sad to see you go but, I guess your friends need you.

     

    Sheogorath plucked a spotted pink handkerchief out of thin air and blew his nose noisily, he then wiped his nose with the kerchief.

    He stole one more tear-filled look at the wolf and then he bade Azure farewell. The werewolf wondered how to exit and before he

    could do anything, the black room disappered into a swarm of thirty or forty multi-colored butterflies. 

     

    Hasir began to stir, Inigo jumped off of his bench and went to the argonian's side. The lizard opened his eyes and saw Inigo,

    "Inigo, , I...I had the wierdest dream, I dreamt that Molag Bal had trapped my and my fellow werewolves in the bodies of lesser

    wolves for a plot of Revenge againt Hircine.

     

    Inigo closed his eyes, shook his head and laugh to himself,

    "My friend, that was no dream."

     

    Hasir turned on the bench, forgetting his broken leg and gawped at the khajiit,

    "Inigo what do you mean it wasn't a dream?"

     

    Inigo straighted himself up out of the slouched position he had been in earlier,

    What I mean I, while I do not know what exactly went on inside your head, I do know what happened before you fell unconscious."

     

    Hasir looked at the khajiit stupified,

    "What happened?" the argonian gave Inigo a worried look and scratched his head, " Because all I can remember is going to the

    temple to see Rakel and after that," He made a sound of a ballon losing air, "Nothing." 

     

    He straigtened up on his bench causing his leg to ache,

    "GAH! Son of Kynareth, that hurts."

    He tried to force his mind focus on other things to lessen the pain. He asked Inigo what happened after he went and saw Rakel.

    Inigo stood on his bench and decided to act out what happened. He knelt down on the bench and told the lizard he was hoping

    Danica could heal Rakel and without warning, an unseen force graabbed the lizard and caused him to grab his head and yell out in

    pain. Inigo demonstrated by grabbing his head and yelling as loud as he dared. He then said the lizard fell unconscious because of

    the strain of forccing the two halves of his head from exploding outwards. Again, Inigo acted this out by flopping on the bench

    longwways. Inigo sat up and finished telling Hasir the rest of the story. 

     

    Hasir looked stupidly at the blue khajiit,

    "...and Ceralyne, is she okay?"

     

    Inigo rubbed his chin as he tried to recollect what happened to her,

    "I am sorry, my friend, I do not know her fate." The blue khajiit said as he shook his head.

     

    Inigo turned so he and Hasir were facing each other,

    "Why don't you tell me about what happened inside your head?"