C.O.T.W Chapter 45: Wolf In Sheep's Clothing

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    Tulen and Veezara walked to the stables of Whiterun and discovered the carriage was sitting at the entrance of the stable

    Bjorlam holding the reins. They called out to him, waving at him. He returned the gesture and asked if they needed a lift

    to anywhere in particular. Veezara smiled at him and said where he would like to go. Tulen saw this and whacked him on the nose

    with his fist.  

     

    Veezara turned to him, rubbing his aching nose,

    "Tulen, what was that for?"

     

    Tulen scolded him while he looked down his snout at him,

    "That." He said, harshly, "Was for being an ignorant asshole."

     

    Tulen told Veezara that something as simple as a smile can be mistaken for baring one's teetth. He found a stool leaning against the

    side of the stable interior, grabbed it and brought it over to Veezara and told him to sit while pointing at the seat. The lizard did so,

    he was about to ask why but he was cut short by Tulen. The Argonian walked over to Bjorlam and apologized for his friends'

    deplorable manners,

    "I am so sorry sir." He said, bowing low. "For my friend's rather insensitive behavior." He shot Veezara a dirty look

     

    When he was done rectifying the grievous mistake his friend had made, he returned to the stoll and advised Veezara to try again,

    but instead of smiling to try to communicate with his tail while keeping his facial expression as neutral as possible.

    Veezara took a deep breath and approoached Bjorlam for a second time,

    "Sir, my friend and I would like to hire your carriage." While he said this. his tail swayed gently from side to side

     

    He looked back to see Tulen giving two enthusiastic thumbs up while his tail did some kind of whirlwind behind him. Satisfied,

    Veezara turned back to Bjorlam, who crossed his arms and gave Veezara a questioning look,

    "I don't loan my carriage out to anyone. That person must have a legitamite reason and 'taking the cart for a spin' or 'joyride' is not

    a valid answer. Bjorlam got out of the driver's set and poked Veezara in the cheest, "So, care to tell me why you want it?"

     

    Veezara huffed loudly and gave him what he thought was a really great reason,

    "Sir, we request passage to Falkreath." He told him, with a tiny bow

     

    Bjorlam's face screwed up in disgust at this,

    "Please, calling me sir makes me feel old. Call me Bjorlam, I insist." He said, smiling. "Get your face out of the dirt, I am not a Jarl."

     

    Veezara quickly straightened up and apologized on both counts. He strode back to Tulen and told him that Bjorlam gave the okay to

    get in. The two Argonians got in back while Bjorlam resumed his seat. He picked up the reins, snapped them once causing the horrse

    to rear up and trot down the cobblestone road.

     

    Bjorlam looked back at the and smiled,

    "So, what's at Faklreath? Anything interesting?

     

    Tulen was about to say the dark brotherhood sanctuary but a scaly fist collided with his left shoulder causing him to groan,

    "Hssss! That hurt, what was that for?" He asked Veezara

     

    The dark skinned Argonian fixed him with a stern look,

    "You almost gave away the top secret location of the guild." 

     

    Tulen shrugged with a stupid exression on his face,

    "Oops, did it do that? Sorry, How was I to know you had to keep quiet when talking about such things?"

     

    Veezara cursed Tulen to Oblivion,

    "Xuth! Tulen, just...don't talk for the rest of the trip okay?" He asked the stubborn Argonian, frustrated

     

    Tulen made good on his word to keep his lips zipped for the rest of the trip to avoid sinking the ship, er, carriage. The horse sped on

    to the destination, seemingly racing against the very fabric of the universe in order to deliver the two Argonians to their destination

    on time. The only thing was they did not need to be at the Falkreath sanctuary at any given time, they just had to show up. Bjorlam

    and Veezara talked about every topic under the sun in order to make the carriage ride go faster. 

     

    At long last, they reach a hill of sorts where hidden underneath was the entrance to the sanctuary. Veezara asked Bjorlam if he could

    drop them off at the front door. The nord nodded and spurred the horse to life. It trotted down the sloped cobblestone road and

    stopped just before the black pool of water to ensure that it did not fall in.

     

    Veeezara discreetly handed Bjorlam fifty septims including their carriage fee of five septims each. The nord looked stunned at the

    money Veezara just handed him along with a warm smile. Bjorlam shook his head and attempted to put the coin purse back into

    Veezara's outstretched claw.

     

    Veezara shook his head and thrust the purse into the nord's chest,

    "No, my dry skin fellow, you keep it, I insist." He closedd his clawed handed on the nord's hand and the purse

     

    Bjorlam shrugged and pocketed the coin purse because it was useless to argue on the matter. Veezara and Tulen dismounted the

    carriage, waved goodbye to Bjorlam and when his carriage disappeared around the corner, they approached the black door.

     

    "What is the music of life?" came the door's standard riddle

     

    Tulen thought on this a moment and went out on a limb,

    "I dunno, er, screaming?" The door stayed silent

     

    Veezara chuckled ffrom behind him and told him to move. Again, the door repeated the riddle,

    "Silence, my brother." The Argonian replied as if he had been rehearsing for this exact moment

    The door creaked open, allowing them to pass, as Veezara walked past the stunned Argonian, he clipped him on the back of the

    head. "Welcome. Home." the door's greeting echoed through the dungeonesque entryway they both found themselves in. Tulen saw,

    leaning against an archway with steps leading down into the main room, a nord female. She smiled sweetly at him,

    "Welll, well who have we here?"

     

    Tuulen proudly announced himself, bowing,

    "Tulen, nice to meet you." He extended a claw toward her, half expecting her to shake it

     

    To his surprise, she did not. Veezara leant against the desk, chuckling,

    "Tulen, this is Astrid we're talking about, not some fountain of warmth and kind-hearted sentiments, geez."

     

    He looked over and saw Tulen had a gobsmacked expression on his face and Veezara just ignored him and approached Astrid. the

    nord turned towards the argonian and asked how his current contract was faring. He shook his head and pointed at Tulen,

    smirking,

    "I was just helping the initiate get wet behind the ears, so to speak."  

     

    Astrid turned to Tulen and gawked at him,

    "So how did you do on your entry contract?"

     

    Tulen shrugged and told Astrid the tale of his first kill. Astrid smriked and punched him in the shoulder, he groaned,

    "Good job, I do hope you contract was not too stressful." She thought on this a moment, "Who did you have to kill?"

    Before Tulen told her of his kill, he decided to give her a bit of backstory first. He decided to leave the unimportant bits from his

    story but decided to leave the bits about him being part of the silver hand in because he felt it was crucial to his tale of the werewolf

    slaughter that happened in the bannered mare.

     

    "We have a lycantrope here who happens to be my husband." Her eyes bore into his, "So I don't want any trouble, got it?" She

    poked him hard in the chest. 

     

    Astrid went down the steps, into a hidden room and returned with folded crimson and black armor the same look and feel of leather

    armor. She told Tulen to try on the armor to see if it fit. He told everyone in the room to turn away as hr undid his imperial greaves

    and tossed the into the leather bag that lay open in the corner of the room. Moments later, the cuirass and boots joined them.

     

    Tulen tried on the armor, which consisted of a black hoo,, a skin tight crimson and black bodysuit and equally form fitting gloves and

    boots. He told everyone they was turn around. They did so and roared with laughter as his tail was trying and failing to poke through

    the bodysuit,

    "Whoever designed this obviously designed it for humans and elves and less so for beast races." He said, slightly enraged

     

    Veezara came up behind the argonian and groaned,

    "Astrid..." He said, turning to her, "You forgot to stock up on beast race bodysuits, you only have human bodysuits."

     

    Veezara shooed the nord away to go see if she had any beast race ones with a hole in the ass region for the tail,

    "Astrid, be a good little nord and get some proper beast crimson and black bodysuits, there's a good girl."

     

    Astrid groaned and slunk away to the same room she came from moments before. Hopefully she would get it through her thick skull

    and bring back the right bodysuit. The Argonian turned back to the struggling Tulen and thought for a moment. An idea had struck

    him, he carved a hole in the pants around the indentation of Tulen tails. To his surprise, the material cut rather easily. Veezara

    beamed with pride as Tulen managed to poke his tail through the hole just big enough for his tail. 

     

    Tulen sighed with relief and massaged his tail, lifting and lowering it as it celebrated his newfound freedom,

    "Ahhh...thank Bal, that's better." He turned around and thanked Veezara

     

    The Argonian's dark green skin turned a red color,

    "You're welcome Tulen, you seemed to be in distress, so I decided to help you out."

     

    Moments later, Astrid returned with a modified body suit,

    "Here you go Tulen, some new-" She gawked at Tulen's body suit and cursed, "By the dread father," She rounded on Veezara, eyes

    ablaze, "You sneaky serpent, how dare you send me to gett a body suit just so you could obtain the glory for yourself." Her face was

    as red and hot as the fires of Oblivion 

    Veezara smirked in triumph and he watched Tulen adjusting his body suit to fit a bit better. Astrid giggled as a green clawed hand

    adjusting the crotch of the pants which bunched up so tightly that Tulen feared his testicles would turn blue, if, in fact, he had any,

    which he didnn't. Argonians did not have genitals, I mean they did, but the had a twig and absolutley no berries. To a fairly

    uninformed passerby, the Argonian would be mistaken for having no gender because of how both sexes look the same. This,

    however, is not true as to a seasoned Argonologist or Tamriel culturualist, they did have features that denoted their sex.

     

    Astrid broke into fits of the giggles when he did this. Veezara groaned and turned to her,

    "Astrid you can be such a thuxis sometimes, ya know that?" He snarled at her

     

    Astrid had a limited grasp of the native tongue of Black Marsh. She cocked her head to the side as testament to her confusion.

    Veezara shook his head and told her not to think on it for another second. A hulky, burly nord man climbed the steps behind Astrid, a

    bag of his spoils over his shoulder.

     

    He turned to Astrid and smiled widely,

    "So, Astrid, how was your day?" He asked her as set the bag down at his feet

     

    Astrid shook her head, causing her light brown hair to sway about like the spindly legs of a betty netch. She told the old nord they

    had to forgo that kind of talk as they had an intiate. The male nord raised a grey, hairy eyebrow. Astrid huffed, crossed her arms and

    gestured to the Argonian with her head. The nord man strode, in long strides like that of a deer, over to the Argonian still trying to

    make his body suit fit.

    The nord man, wearing an identical black and crimson suit, tapped the Argonian on the shoulder. He turned around and saw the

    nord. with his thickly muscled arms folded against his chest. Tulen could see that his face was fine chizeled, though somewhat

    wrinkled with age. He lifted his eye and saw finely curtained shoulder length white hair with a matching beard. Scanning his face,

    Tulen cringed a little as he beheld a singular brown eye set into the nord's aged face while his left eye was clear as a cloudless sky. 

     

    The nord male eyed the Argonain with utter contempt,

    "You must be Tulen, part of the Silver Hand, yeah?" He asked him, an eyebrow raised

     

    Tulen's tail slammed into the stony ground, causing the loose pebbles that had long since broken off from the floor, to clatter,

    "I, Tulen son of Iskenaaz, happen to be the leader of The Silver Hand." He yelled back at the nord male, "Who the fuck are you?" He

    spat back.

     

    The nord male was steadily get redder as each word hit him like a warhammer,

    "I am one of those filthy beasts your disgusting guild claim to hunt." The nord enxtended his hand and smirked, "By the way, I'm

    Arnbjorn, a werewolf."

     

    Astrid groaned in disgust and stepped between them as she sensed tempers were flaring,

    "Look, this is the dark brotherhood not the companions, leave your grudges at the door...or else." Astrid' eyes narrow at the both or

    them. "Got it? If I catch news of a mauling or a silver blade through the gut and I will kick the offender out of the guild and I do not

    want to be the bad guy here."

     

    Astrid turned and checked if that was clear with both her husband and Tulen. they nodded,

    "Good. Arnbjorn get downstairs, there is a new contract I want you to take on, Tulen, I want you downstairs to, erm, meet the

    family."  

     

    They did as she ordered. Tullen's tail hid between his legs as he descended the steps in the stony room, well, it was less a room and

    more a cavern with people spaced out here and there, doing various activities like alchemy, assassination training or achery. Tulen

    was awed at the sheer size of the cavernous room and marveled at the sound of rushing water as a waterfall flowed down into a pool

    of water at the far end of the room. What he did not know however was that the dark brotherhood was a sanctioned

    assassinationation orgization, much like the Morag Toong of Morrowind which he was also a member of, but, this one was sactioned

    by the werewolf hunting guild that he was a part of.

     

    Tulen had no idea why a werewolf would be working with the silver hand to help them eliminate other werewolves. Perhaps Arnbjorn

    is a pureblood werewolf and wants to help rid Nirn of mutts whoose blood has sullied the bloodline he thought. This, however, was

    not true because werewolves are not 'pure' and they do not abide by who is pureblood and who is not. Certain werewolves are what

    are called 'mutts' or, to put it simply, werewolves with something else mixed into their dna. They are also those werewolves, like

    Tulen and others who are what are called 'rogues,' wolves that live by their own rules or live on the fringe of society. Often seen

    walking the very fine line between right and wrong, the ;grey area' between light and dark.

     

    Arnbjorn walked to a dusty workshop rif with plumes of dust and debris permeating the air and told Tulen who was behind him to sit

    on the endge of the forge that was belching smoke in the corner by the amorer's bench. The Argonian did so and look expectantly at

    the burly nord like a child who's grandparent was about to telling them a particularly interesting story.

     

    Arnbjorn lent back against the polished metal top of the workbench and noticed Tulen's uneasy expression,

    "So, you thought we were your normal, run of the mill assasins? He laughed a bit, "Hardly, we are werewolf hunters, we work for the

    Silver Hand. If they need someone who can eliminate wolves and their whelps with tactfulness." He gpounded on his chest, "They

    call us." 

     

    Tulen eyed him a bit confused,

    "Well, that is all well and good but why does a werewolf kill their own kind?" He licked his lips, "I mean, what does he, you sorry,

    have to gain from it?"

    Arnbjorn studied the Argonian's expression for a long time, when he answered, he tried to be as earnest as possible,

    "Well, I know people may see the wolf as a blessing, but, not me." He said, shaking his head, "I am old and when I die, I want to

    join my fellow nords in the Hall of Valor not spend my afterlife hunting for the god of manbeasts."

     

    He sighed, walked over to a small desk near where Tulen sat and sat down in the wooden chair.

    "I mean, sure, for some people hunting for all eternity will by divine." He put his head in his hands, sighing again, "For me, however,

    I have a greater place in mind." He Turned to Tueln and smiled broadlyt, "That is why I struck a deal with Molag Bal, actually it was

    he who made the deal. "Offer me your service and I promise, I will find a way to cure you."

     

    Tulen turned sideways and asked if he honor his side of the bargian. To answer, Arbjorn slowly shook his head, his shoulders

    slumped,

    "I did what he asked, I killed millions of wolves. But," His face drooped, "Molag Bal has yet to made good on his end of the bargian."

    He sighed again, "Here I am, many years later, still holding out hope that someday, Molag Bal will give me what I ask for."

     

    Tulen leaned forward, putting his hands on his knees,

    "So, if you don't want to be here, why stick around then? You know Molag Bal will never honor your bargain. So, why stay?"

    Arnbjorn frowned and stared into the forge fire,

    "I don't know, I know you can't trust Bal as far as you can throw him." He shrugged and fell silent for a time

     

    Tulen quickly glanced from the burly nord to the workbench which he had occupied minutes before, he saw a dark skinned Argonian

    reflected in the polished surface, approaching him. Tulen turned his head, tail swshing side to side as he beheld Veezara whose tail

    was flapping about wildly. Veezara told the concerned Argonian that he had something to show him.

     

    Tulen got up and waved goodbye to Arnbjorn who returned the gestured. Tulen followed Veezara through the room to stairs that led

    to an upper area of the room. Tulen scaled the flight of tree branch-like steps behind Veezara and stepped into a new room. This

    room had a cavern ceiling, same as the one bewol, but unlike the subterranean room a lone bookshelf stood in the far corner filled

    with books, most of with had something to do with the subject of lycantropiic destruction. Adjacent to the bookshelf was a wooden

    table with various implements on it. Tulen eyes went wide as he beheld the silver tools. 

     

    Veezara smiled as he saw the mix of curiosity and amazement and he told Tulen to look around while he descended thee adjoining

    steps which descended in a further sunken room. Tulen did indeed look arounf, he riffled through the books on the shelf but found

    nothing of particular interest. He moved to the table and eyed the sivler implement that seemed to be laid down with extreme caare.

    He heard Veezara and someone else ascending the steps behind him.

     

    Veezara cleared his throat, Tulen turned around,

    "Tulen, this is Nazeem," He said, gesturing to the newcomer, "He is our head expert on lycanthropes, mutts and their whelps."

    Tulen extended his hand smiled. Nazeem took it, exclaming that it was so good to meet new wolf haters and said the world could use

    more of them and less of the horrific monsters. Tulen chuckled at this and said that that werewolves are not all bad but, all the

    same, cannot be allowed to live. 

     

    Nazeem nodded and laughed, squeezing his clawed hand. The redguard could see himself in Tulen's eyes,

    "Good, Good, Tulen, if you don't mind me asking, why are you against the wolves? Have a personal vendetta or something?"

     

    Tulen opened his mouth and shut it. He thought that he had this all thought out and even rehearsed countless times in his head,

    nonetheless, he could not form words to match the ones rehearsed countless times in his head. It took a couple miutes for him to

    find his voice,

    "I....I...erm," He swallowed hard and tried to calm his nerves along with his wildly thrashing tail. "Ahem, my brother had forsaken

    our family patron, Molag Bal for the god of werewolves, that no good Hircine." He snarled, crossing his arms

    Nazeem's smile seemed to broaden as he absorbed Tulen tale. The redguard sighed with disdain,

    "Are you finished? We have business to attend to. We don't have time for your sad tale of brotherly love." He said, waving his hand

    in a dismissive manner.

     

    Tulen's face turned a deep shade of crimson as he apologized,

    "Er, sorry, so, erm, what are these?" He asked, pointing to the table with a clawed finger

     

    Nazeem turned around and shuffled the silver tools around like they were playing a game of shells. Tulen watched as he switched the

    tools' positions, round and round they went and, covered his eyes with one hand. Once he was satisfied, the redguard reached down

    blindly with the other hand for a random tool. Tulen craned his neck to get a better view. He saw what looked like a crossbow bolt

    with a tip of unknown metal. Nazeem walked over to him with the bolt in hand,

    "Tulen, this is a silver bolt with crushed wolfsbane added to the tip." He said smiling as he showed the Argonian the bolt. "The silver

    is injected into the creature's bloodstream, poisoning it while the wolfsbane prevents it from reverting back to its human form thus

    delivering a quick but painful death."

     

    Tulen studied the bolt with the wolfsbane poison applied to it. Nazeem lent against the left side of the stone archway, smiling as the

    Argonian reminded him of a younger version of himself. In his younger days the redguard was a pretty stellar soldier against the

    lycantropes many years ago. His weapon of preference to eliminate them was both the crossbow and the silver sword. A tear came

    to his eye as he reminisced on the good old days. He walked to Tulen's left side, lent down and whispered that the bolt that he

    loaded onto the crossbow was a dummy bolt. Tulen looked at him with a questioning expression on his face,

    "What the hell is a dummy bolt?" He asked

     

    Nazeem sighed and shook his head,

    "A 'dummy bolt' is a bolt that had the real silver metal replaced with a pretty solid immitation metal that looks like silver but has

    none of the lethal effects." He said as he paced back and forth in front of the table

     

    Tulen pointed to the five other weapons on the table. Nazeem walked to the table, picking up each weapon and describing how each

    one works. From left to right, he described the crossbow and how it fired the silver bolt coated with wolfsbane. He did the same

    thing with the silver dagger, silver longsword, silver short bow, silver greatsword and a pair of dwemer goggles.

     

    Tulen walked over to the dwemer goggles laying on the left side of the pinewood table, his face screwed up in confusion,

    "So...What do these do?" He asked, pointing to the goggles 

     

    Nazeem smiled widely as he gestured to the goggles,

    "Ah...These are a very impressive invention." He cleared his throat, "Werewolves are too fast and can evade detection if they want

    to. Even the most seasoned, keen eyed hunter cannot track them."

     

    He picked up the goggles and handed them to Tulen,

    "What these do is emulate the vision that the wolf has as their third greatest, and weakest, asset, just short of their

    exceptional hearing and sense of smell." He smiled at him, "Here, see for yourself." He told Tulen, handing him the goggles.

     

    Tulen put on the goggles and flicked a small switch on the left side of the goggles. Nothing happened. The Argonian sighed in

    despair. Nazeem walked over to Arnbjorn and whispered something to him. Acknowledging his decision, The nord transformed. He

    rose six feet in the air, grey fur sprouted all over his body, sharp teeth erupted from his gums and his eyes took on an amber

    color. The nord werewolf ran as fast as he could on all fours across the room. Nazeem asked Tulen to pick his weapon. 

     

    Tulen walked over to the table and hefted a silver crossbow and loaded a silver bolt coated with wolfsbane with the other hand and

    sighted down the crossbow. He spotted the werewolf with the super powered googles and pulled the trigger. The bolt soared through

    the air like a bird in flight and caught the werewolf benath the ribcage just below the heart. The werewolf howled with pain as the

    silver entered its bloodstream. The werewolf's vision blurred and wearily staggered sideways and fell into the pond below. 

     

    Nazeem smiled evilly as the wolfsbane did its job as Arnbjorn stayed in his wolf form. Nazeem and Tulen walked down the steps and

    came to the pond where, with a mixed expression of fear and satisfaction, the Argonian saw the grey werewolf laying in the pond,

    it's fur saturated with water and eyes closed. 

     

    Tulen cocked its head to Nazeem beside him,

    "Is he...is he dead?" He asked with genuine concern

     

    Nazeem shook his head and told Tulen that those were only test bolts, and as such, the silver and wolfsbane will both have a

    weakened effect on the werewolf. He also said that if he used a more tempered version of silver, he, or any other lycanthrope, would

    weaken severly. If the stronger silver were to strike the afflicted's heart, he would quickly succumb to the wound. The wolfsbane just

    served to prevent the werewolf from transfroming back. He told Tulen all alchemists on Nirn said the effects of wolfsbane differ

    between werewolves and new bloods.

     The dark green skinned Argonian found a stick leaning against the wall and the bottom step to the upper part of the room, picked it

    up and walked toward the clear blue water with the unconscious grey werewolf laying in the middle. He prodded the creature in his

    side; to Tulen's surprise, the beast's eyes twitched slightly, telling him that Arnbjorn, or rather his wolf form, was still alive. He saw

    the creature stood drunkenly to his feet. Arnbjorn's wolf howled and began to shrink in size. Tulen and Nazeem stood in shock,

    mouth agape as they saw his amber eyes becoming their normal shade of gray, fangs turning into normal human teeth, fur

    disappearing and claws shrinking in size until they were fingernails once again. 

     

    Nazeem turned and started to walk away but, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Tulen raise his crossbow and trained it on

    Arnbjorn's heart. Nazeem flung himself at Tulen,

    "Tulen, what the fuck are you doing? NOOOO!" 

     

    A twang sounded followed by a thud and the redguard watched in horror as the body of Arnbjorn slid down the rocky outcrop like a

    broken puppet and landed in a heap at the base of the outcrop. Nazeem strode over to where Tulen stood and clipped him on the

    back of the head. Nazeem asked why Tulen did that and scolded him, saying that if Astrid saw this; saw that someone murdered her

    husband, that he will be in serious trouble. 

     

    Tulen apologized and said that he smelled the local warriors guild on him. Nazeem's face contorted in confusion. Tulen said that they

    were the guild in Whiterun that produced the most werewolves out of any guild because they pray to the creator of their ilk, Hircine."

    As he said this, he stuck out his tongue in disgust.

    Nazeem's face never deviated from it's look of confusion,

    "And you killed Arnbjorn...why exactly?"

     

    Tulen huffed annoyedly and practically yelled at the redguard,

    "Because he was part of the companions before they discharged him for 'unorthodox behavior'" He shrugged, he had no idea of what

    that meant,neither did Nazeem

     

    Nazeem asked him how he knew this and the Argonian told him that Gallows Rock has a well hidden passageway that leads to a

    library that contains a detailed history of every member of the companions, even the past and present circle members and

    harbingers. The room had books dating back to the glenmoril witches placing the blessing on Terrfyg and even back to the date when

    Hircine created the lycanthropes.

     

    Nazzem thanked Tulen and said tyo get some sleep because in the morning they will started training before they went after the real

    thing. They both went to the bed chambers with Tulen as they joined the rest of the Silver Hand assassins as they fell asleep in the

    beds of various furs.