C.O.T.W Chapter 52: Mark of the Beast

  • Iskenaaz flew out of the steadily closing portal to Hircine's realm. He shot out like a bolt from a crossbow. He landed with a thud in

    the grass near the Whiterun stables, forehead and body thick with sweat. Breathing heavily, he got to his feet and looked behind

    him as  the portal rapidly shrank until it diminished completely. He sighed with relief aas he narrowly escapped the ravenous

    predator of the realm. Wow, they nearly had me, the tribal Argonian thought, thank Sithis I got out of there when I did. 

     

    He smled proudly to himself as he walked back to the city proper. He pushed the gates open and went inside. As he walked, the

    townsfolk stared with shocked expressions on their faces. A few of them gasped with hands over their mouth and still others were

    pointing and muttering something inaudible to each other. The children playing near the market place would stop and stare or be

    scared and run in their houses as the doomed Argonian passed. 

    The townspeople obviously knew something that Iskenaaz was unaware of. As he passed the townsfolk would point out his scales.

    The left side of his chest was marred by three evenly spaced red marks. As he approached the market district he turned and went up

    the stairs. He was heading straight for the temple of Kynareth though he did not know why. He knocked on the door, clear beads of

    sweat visible on his scaly forehead. The door flew open and Danica stood in the doorway. Immediately, the healer's hand flew to her

    mouth as she saw the three red marks on the Argonian's chest and ushered him inside. She told him to lay on the stone slab close to

    the rear wall of the Temple and said she would be over to tend to him shortly.

     

    She walked over to the stone basin, washed her hands, dried them and took a cloth from the rack that stood near the basin and

    walked over and dabbed the Argonian's forehead with the damp cloth. Her brow furrowed as the sweat did not stop, in fact it seemed

    to increase in quantity. Not only that but his whole body started glistening with it. She walked over to the room situated at the rear

    of the temple adjacent to the slab the Argonian laid on.

     

    She thrust the doors open and called inside the room,

    "Milsha, can you come in here please?" She asked rather sweetly

     

    She got up from her chair next to the bed and, yawning, sluggishly shufffled into the room and rubbed her eyes. Danica stared at

    her and pointed to the bed where the wounded tribal warrior lay. Milsha shrugged and rudely asked Danica what she had to do.

    Danica loudly rattled off her instructions of what she was required to do. She gave her a damp cloth and told her to dab at the

    patient's forehead every half an hour. Milsha asked what Danica was going to do.

     

    "I am going to, er, see if I can find a book that describes, erm, whatever this affliction is." She strode off in the direction of a double

    bookshelf nestled between the stone basin and the wall. She tossed spellbook after spellbook onto a heap behind her. Disheartened

    as she felt the empty space behind were the books were, she frowned as she did not find the book she had searched for. She walked

    into the main room head down and ccalled out to Milsha,

    "Milsha I am, er, going out for a bit, hold down the fort for me, will you?" She asked, delighted to see Milsha smile and nod.

    She slipped out into the chilly mid-afternoon air. She pulled a fur from her bag and wrapped it tightly around herself to try and stave

    off the biting wind. She walked around the giant tree in the middle of the city, down the steps to the potions shop. She knocked

    thrice in rapid succession. She could hear shuffling feet behind the door and an unseen hand closed around the doorknob and turned

    it. Danica had to step back to avoid being smacked in the face. 

     

    Arcadia smiled wide as she realized who it was,

    "Ah, Danica Purespring, what a pleasant surprise, come in." She said, ushering her out of the cold.

     

    She went inside and followed Danica over to the long desk where she stood, eyeing the healer with some interest. Danica fixed the

    Imperial girl with a questioning look. The potions mistress asked the female Nord if she has a book or any ingredient that can cure

    the alffiction that her fellow Tamrielian suffers from.

     

    Danica's query was met with a confused look on the Imperial's face,

    "And, erm, what is this affliction called? Is it serious?" she asked, unsure if she wanted the answer.

     

    Danica shrugged in response. Her face creased in confusion, 

    "Dunno, a red claw mark like those reminiscent of a werewolf attack."

     

    To her surprise, this made Arcadia more and more confused the more she tried to explain the state of her woebegone friend. Danica

    tried to explain this matter more but she couldn't. Arcadia suddenly knelt down and removed a book from the shelf underneath her

    desk. She slid the book across the oak desk. Arcadia smirked in thanks as she caught the book and lent closer to read the bright

    green text reading Curious Tamrielic Ailments and Their Common Cures, on top of a sickly green background. In the middle of the

    book cover was a picture of a daedric prince that Danica had never seen before.

     Danica looked closer at the daedric prince. It was a dragon the same sickly green shade as the book standing on a field of green

    grass which was indestinguishable because of the dark green vapor shrouding the grass beloow the picture of the dragon was an

    author name: by Kash the Clean, loyal servant of Peryite, lord of pestilence and disease. 

     

    Danica tore open the book almost ripping the cover from the pages. She flipped frantically through the pages, trying to find the

    name of the affliction that had Iskenaaz securely in its grips. She was not well versed in the deadlier diseases of Tamriel, she only

    knew the basic stuff her parents had taught her and not much beynd that. So as she did not know the name of the infection, or if it

    was an infection at all and,, she hesitated to think on this, not something worse, she slammed the book shut. She put her head in

    her hands, looking crestfallen. If her parents could see how she let an unknown illness pass her by, they would surely reprimand her

    and tell her to go out into the world and see if there was a cure or, at the very least, a way to either ameliorate the suffering of the

    individual or try and stop the spread of the infection or disease.

     

    The Nord looked up from the book, infuriated by the lack of information that she had about it and, disgruntled, stared at the potions

    mistress,

    "Arcadia, I have't the foggiest of what I am looking for." She said, slamming down the book in disgust

     

    The moment she did that, the book caught an edge and fell open again. Curious, she looked down and her eyes went wide as she

    saw it. On the page it had opened to was the same red claw mark she had seen on Iskenaaz upon his arrival at the temple. Above

    the claw mark was the answer she seeked scrawled across the top in blood red lettering: The Mark of the Beast.

     

    Danica stared, mouth agape at this. Below the picture she saw the words 'can only be passed one by an existing werewolf wether in

    wolf or tamrielian form. This disease can be fatal to some people, especially those with some measure of disease resistance.' She

    scanned the page, saw a symptoms list and the ingredients need to make a cure disease potion for it. She blanked the symptoms for

    the time being and focused on the ingredients list at the bottom of the page. She rummaged in her bag for a bit of charcoal and

    some paper to write the information down on. The ingredients list was as follows:

    2 powdered werewolf claws

    3 void salts

    4 powdered bits of boar tusk

    2 pieces of great lichen

    1 purple mountain flower

    a few sprinkles of crushed juniper berry

    After Danica finished writing this down, she rolled up the paper, stowed it in her bag and turned to the potions mistress,

    "Arcadia, where can we find these ingredients?" She as sliding the still open book across the desk to her

     

    The Imperial shrugged and furrowed her brow,

    "Dunno, werewolf claw? That will be quite difficult to acquire, but the rest can either be found out in the world or by buying them

    from other alchemy shops." She said, smiling

     

    Danica huffed in disappointment,

    "Well, that helped alot." She said sarcastically, nonetheless, she thanked the Imperial and asked if she could keep the book

     

    Arcadia smiled broadly at this,

    "Sure besides your need is greater than mine, you are a healer after all." She said, after a while she added, "Who knows? You might

    find some further use for it rather than just helping you cure that Argonian." 

     

    With that, she waved goodbye and was about to leave when Arcadia stepped out from behind her desk, grabbed a few ingredients

    and tossed them at her. Danica caught them in her hands. She looked down perplexed,

    "Erm, what are these?" She asked, inquisitorially.

     

    Arcadia smiled at her while straightening up shelves of alchemical ingredients,

    "Some ingredients for you to start with: four great lichen, three void salts and one purple mountain flower. I would help you further

    but, alas, I do not have the other ingredients you need."

    She thought on this a bit and then added,

    Maybe you can check in with the dragon, Peryite I am sure he will help you."

     

    Danica smiled and thanked the potions mistress. She turned to leave when

    Arcadia called after her, "Don't forget to come back here when all the ingredients are collected, my alchemy table is free to use and

    my door is almost always open." She hung her head,, "Of course, if you'd rather use another alchemy table you can do that too."

     Danica exited the shop, extract the folded fur out of her bag and unfurled it and wrapped it tightly around herself. She walked

    quickly to the gate of the city when a beggar almost walked into her. Clearly she was not lloking where she was going She thought

    as the lady looked at her and stuck out her hand as if she was begging for money to feed her and her kids. Danica thought about

    this. The voice in her head told her to do it and that her lady Kynareth would smile on such a deed. However her conflicted

    expression said different. She wanted to say that the homeless woman would definitely not be spending the money on her family but

    instead squandering it on skooma.

     

    But she did not voice that concern in order to spare the poor woman's feelings. Instead, she shook her head and continued on her

    way to the fields beyond the city. She redoubled her grip on the fur and pulled it tight around her and strode down the cobblestone

    path with empty guard towers as silent watchmen as she past them to the stables. She saw Bjorlam leaning against the one of the

    inner walls of the stables. She called out to him. The stablehand nearly fell onto the hay strewn floor of the stable as the sudden

    anouncement of her presence startled him. 

     

    The firtened carriage driver put his hand over his heart and he breaths came in quick succession,

    "By the nines, Danica, you startled me." His eyebrows suddenly furrowed," Errr, what are you doing here?I thought the healer never

    left the temple except for urgent matters."

     

    Danica hurried her pace so that she was beside him in no time, gesturing him to sit on a haybale perpendicular from the one she had

    settled down on,

    "Bjorlam, this is of great importance." She deep a deep breath and continued, "I...require your carriage."

     

    Brojlam looked at her, bewildered,

    "M-my carriage, why?"

     

    Danica told him how an Argonian lay up a bed up at her temple who is currently fighting for his life. She had to seek assistance from

    the local alchemist in the city in order to pinpoint exactly what this illness is and what causes it. She bent down and extracted a book

    from her bag and handed it to Bjorlam. He looked at it with a look of unregocnition on his face,

    "Danica, er, who is this dragon depicted on the cover? I've never heard of him."

    Danica sighed heavily,

    "You've never heard of Peryite, the lord of disease and pestilence?

     

    Bjorlam shook his head. Danica slid her hand down her face in frustration,

    "By Kynareth's branches man, you've got to expand your thinking outside of this tiny stable." She said as she looked around it

    disapprovingly.

     

    Bjorlam turned a bit red at this comment,

    "Danica, I know I should but this stable and carriage were passed down to me by my father, it's my duty to see that everything is

    looked after and cared for here." He said, his eyes misting a bit as he talked.

     

    He hasting wiped the tears away on his sleeve. Danica eyed his curiously as she told him of Peryite and his domani,

    Peryite is the lowest of the sixteen denizens of Oblivion, at least according to some Tamrielians." She laughed a bit, "At least he is

    not one of the evil ones." She cleared her throat once she saw that Bjorlam was not smiling. She walked over to him and nudged

    him, almost knocking him to the fllor. "Come on, you sorry sack of kwama eggs, it wouldn't hurt you to have a sense of humor.

     

    He said nothing so she went back to her seat and folded her arms,

    "Hmpfh, party pooper." She said, sticking her tongue out at him. She he did not reciprocate, she continued her tale, "Peryite's realm

    is located in the lowest reaches of the Oblivion realm. She laughed again, "Hey Brjorlam do you know why Peryite's realm is called

    the pits?" He shrugged mournfully, "Well, because the other daedra say 'look at that realm, living there must be the pits." She

    rooared with laughter, slapping her thighs in the process. Still, Bjorlam did not so much as chuckle.

    Danica uncofortably cleared her throat and pressed on despite Bjorlam's look of stunnned silence,

    "Anyway, the real reason Peryite's realm is called the pits is because it is the lowest realm of Oblivion and when skeevers die there

    ghosts are said to dwell there, but what of his servants? Well, not much is known whether they inhabit that paricular realm when

    they die." She shifted on the haybale, "I would like to hire your carriage to go to the Shrine of Peryite near Markarth."

     

    jorlam looked at her with an odd expression on his face,,

    "The shrine of peryite, why?" He asked, cocking his head sideways

     

    Danica lent forward, pressing her elbows in her knees,

    "I want to go there so I can get hiis counsel, now does your carriage go there or not?" She asked, teeth bared

     

     The driver nodded, got into his carriage, got ten gold from Danica and set off towards Markarth. 

    Back in Whiterun, Milsha was pacing around the temple as every she tried seemed to fail, the soaked cloth did nothing to staunch

    Inskenaaz's fever which was continuing to skyrocket. She began to flap her hands in frustration. She tried doing some deep

    breathing to calm her frayed nerves, but it didn't help. She was more anxious than she had ever been in her life, even more so than

    when she was told her brother Hasir was given to her after being pulling from the hist sap and remembered how she got handed the

    tiny hatching. Frantically, she had looked to her mom, Haxara, for guidance because she had no experience with holding hatchlings.

    Her father, Iskenaaz, was there too. Milsha had fled Lilmoth a short while after Hasir was born because her mother caught a whiff of

    smoke rising from their hut as she surmized someone must have fired a flaming arrow at their house. She fled just in time with

    Iskennaaz, Hasir and his brothers. Her poor mother was trapped in the wreckage of their hut and soon after died in that same hut,

    trapped by the burning remains of the hut.

     

    Now she had to be there for her father just as he was there for her multiple times before, in sickness and in health. Her patient gave

    a sort of strangled yell. This caused Milsha to stop pacing and stare at him in fright. Her tail twitched anxiously behind her as she

    saw his scales begin to turn black. Milsha hand flew to her mouth to stifle a sob.

     

    "Oh my, Danica said nothing about how to care for him when his scales began to necrotize" She thought, anxiously. She walked over

    to the bookshelf in the kichenette area. She looked bewildered at the books that lay discard in a pile at the foot of the seperating

    wall between the kitchenette area and the main room of the temple. She did not find anything useful even though she flipped

    through every book there was. She even read the spellbooks scattered among the other books and hadn't even found a spell to

    reverse scale necrotization. 

     

    Saddened, she hung her head in despair, she had to do something as she could not sit idly by as she watched her father slowly

    descend into the realms of death. She wanted to go to Arcadia's Cauldron to find out if there was a cure for the perculiar disease.

    She had to restrain her wandering mind as she repeated what Danica had told her: Wait for me and by no means leave the patient,

    even if it is for a really good reason, don't do it, stay put until I get back. She did as the healer asked, she lowered herself onto the

    raised edge of Iskenaaz''s bed. Her hand shakingly reached out and rubbed his forehead the way he rubbed hers whenever she had

    fallen ill when she was a hatchling. It was very hot to the touch. Milsha bit her lip and a tear ran down her scaly cheek.

    Danica hopped in back of Bjorlam's carriage and they were off. The scenery whizzed past as the horse galloped at full speed along

    the cobblestone road. Danica settled in for what would surely be a long ride. She laid on the bench running the lengths of the

    carriage's rear and doze off. Hours later it seemed, the carriage came to a halt. Bjorlam got out and walked to the back and tried to

    shake Danica awake, he did not need to shake hard because she awoke at the lightest touch.

     

    Danica got up, stretched and looked around,

    "We can't be there yet we must have miles to go still." She told him, somewhat firmly

     

    In response, he smirked,

    "We are at our destination." He said, smiling, "Now get out, I have many other potential customers to pick up." He said, gesturing

    her out of the carriage and sped off down the road once he was sure she got down safely. 

     

    Danica walked up the dirt path to an open area with plenty of trees  To the left of the open area she saw an alchemy station where a

    khajiit in tan robes was bent over it. She looked curiously at her as she came into view. She strode over to the steadily approaching

    nord. Danica walked over to the tawny khajiit and asked he she knows Peryite. The Khajiit ignored her and continued mixing something at

    the alchemist's table. Danica craned her neck to see when she she was mixing; she could see anything.

     

    The Khajiit spun around and answered the nord with an air of a cat watching an invisible yarn ball,

    "Kash knows all, at least everything the lord of putrescence permits him to see," Danica, smiling weakly, handed Kash the ingredients list

    with four crossed off items.

     

    Kash looked confused as she looked down,

    "Er, what is this?" He said holding the list as if it were a bomb that was set to go off at any moment

    Danica said that the parchment she was given to her by Arcadia was an ingredients list for a cure disease potion for a curious ailment her

    father had somehow acquired. Kash furowed her brow as she rumminated on this and turned walked a short way to a golden basin with,

    danica followed, looked down and screwed her face up in disgust, what looked like a sideways swirling vortex of noxious vapors. Danica's

    eyes went wide as Kash poured the contents of the potion she had just mixed up into the basin.

     

    The contents spluttered and jumped causing Danica to jump as well. She cast her eyes nervously at Kash, the khajiit just shook her

    head and jabbed at the basin from which the noxious fumes rose in a gaseous formm. Both Kash and Danica breathed the vapors in.

    The realm swam before Danica's eyes. She had to clamp her eyes shut to keep herself from throwing up. The khajiit, though, did not feel

    queasy, shut her eyes or turn away from the fumes. He instead smiled broadly as the fumes seemed to calm her as if the fumes were a

    gaseous form of moonsugar, a substance which the khajiit revered above all else. 

     

    Danica opened her eyes and noticed the so called shrine took on a greenish-purple hue. She thought this was a hallucinogenic

    dream, but, she hadn't taken a drug, had she? She dismissed this rather disturbing thought. She had to conclude she had not taken

    hallucinogen but rather inhaled the vapors from the golden basin. Kash turned to her still smiling giddily and gestured to a spot

    the the left of the middle point of the triangle of pines,

    "Nord, may I introduce you to Peryite, or rather, the aspect of Peryite."

     

    Danica shrieked in disgust as she saw a ghostly green skeever,

    "Eurgh, that's disgusting," She exclaimed, trying to scuttle away despite the khajiit's tight grip on her robe

     

    She rounded on her and hissed angrily at her,

    "Don't do that, you do not want my lord to put a particularly nasty disease on you do you?" She asked her in hushed tones

    Danica's eyes went wide as she waved her hands in front of her,

    "No, I didn't say that, I would never befoul his name." She said, looking astonished

     

    Kash said nothing but instead turned as the skeever began to speak,

    "Why have you summoned me Kash?" He asked, rather anooyed, "This had better be important." He said, his voice magically

    magnified in the hallucinogenic vision. 

     

    Kash cast around nervously for an viable explination for summoning him. She looked down at the bit of paper in her clenched paws

    that lay to her side. She approached the green skeever and unfurled the crumpled paper in her recently clenched fist. She bent down

    and placed the list before the daedric prince's aspect. The skeever looked down and scrutinized it with great interest,

    "Let's see, hmm...yes, looks like an ingredients list of some kind." He screwed his mamallian face up in thought, "Ah yes, this is a

    cure for the malady known as The Mark of the Beast. 

     

    Danica screwed up her face in confusion,

    "What is the mark of the beast?" She asked her

     

    Kash hissed a warning at her,

    "Do not speak of things you do not understand."

     

    "But-" Danica started but Kash pointed to the skeever and pressed a furry finger to her lips

     

    Danica fell silent and watched the skeever, Kash did the same thing. Its moth opened,

    "So, I have been mulling over the ingredients on this list, or at least the ones the weren't crossed out." He squeaked in excitement

     

    The aspect of the poisoned prince told both his follower and the healer of Whiterun about where to find the remaining ingredients:

    two werewolf claws, four boar tusks and a sprinkle of juniper berries. He told them that both many werewolves and boars can be

    found in a forest forty paces east of where they now stood, a forest outside of Falkreath. He said boars could be found in said forest

    during the day and werewolves at night in the same location. 

     

    Danica's eyes narrowed with angry and she spoke through gritted teeth,

    "What about the juniper berries you great snake?" She said, her face screwed up in anger

     

    Kash strode over to her, tail slamming on the ground,

    "She is not a snake, you ungrateful bitch." He snarled through gritted teeth, unsheathing her claws ready to attack

     

    The aspect of Peryite scurried over, lept up and sunk his teeth into the khajiit's hand, He tried to shake the rodent off,

    "Ouch! Get off! You blasted rat! Leave me be, she insulted you, I was going to defend you, my lord." He said through gritted teeth

    The rat bit in harder, introducing a new disease into the khajiit's bloodstream. With that done, the rat jumped off of the khajiit's hand

    to land on the grass in front of the golden basin, its small fangs thick with blood. The khajiit fell to the ground and started to writhe

    and convulse on the patch of dirt. His face drained of all color. Danica and the skeever walked over to the convulsing khajiit. The

    khajjit's eyes went wide with fear as she saw the blood on the skeever's small teeth.

    "Peryite, w-why have you done this, I am your most faithful-" She began but blood welled up in her mouth, silencing her

     

    Peryite's poison-green eyes narrowed as he spoke his voice as poisonous as his ghostly fur and eyes,

    "Kash, how dare you threaten to attack an innocent person, I thought I trained you better." He shook his head in disgust still staring

    at her, "I guess I was wrong, you broke the number one rule of the daedric pact." He said, scathingly, "I am certain you do not need

    me to repeat it?" Peryite sneered at him.

     

    Kash tried to speak but all she could do was gurgle as the poisoned blood almost entirely closed her throat. Perytie found a rather

    pointy stick laying near him, scuttled over to the khajiit and shook his head again,

    "I normally would have my curses and diseases finish my once faithful followers off. but this disease I have concoted in so disturbing

    that I have to do the unthinkable, something I would never, ever do. I have to end her life before this new disease slowly and painfully

    drains the life from her." He tilted his head toward Danica, "think of it as a mercy killing."

     

    A glimmering green tear trickled down his cheek and he sighed mournfully as he plunged the pointed stick into the khajiit's chest,

    breaking the ribcage and puncturing the heart. The khajiit's body jerked uncontrollably, not controlled by the khajiit's brain that was

    rapidly shutting down. With one last heave of the chest, the khajiit lay deathly still. Peryite scuttled away, feeling regretful for what

    he had done. Danica strode over to the once lively khajiit and closed her eyes. While doing this, she looked over to the skeever and

    muttered something about showing respect for the dead.

    The skeever frowned at Danica,

    "What are you waiting for? A cure to just drop out of the sky?" He asked her, scathingly

     

    "Er," Danica started, but the aspect of Peryite lifted a paw to stop her

     

    He frowned more intently at her, his eyes narrowed and his teeth gritted

    "GET GOING!" He bellowed at her

     

    Danica did not need to be reminded twice, she called for Bjorlam and upon seeing his carriage pull up the the shrine, she told him

    where he needed to go and got in. Whistling happily to himself, He spurred the horses and they galloped toward the forest north of

    Falkreath. The carriage sped on, making the scenery look as if it was made by a speedpainter. The forest came into view, the

    carriage stopped and the nord healer got out. Bjorlam did not go back to Whiterun until he was sure Danica was safely at the forest's

    edge.

     

    Danica disappeared into the see of  tress, unseathed a dagger that looked like it was hewn from nature itself that her father gave her

    before he died. He always wanted her to defend herself because he knew of how she was bullied at school almost on a daily basis for

    her interest in the healing arts. She raised the sword to waist level as she hacked at the thick tree branches that blocked the path.

    She saw a tail of what looked like  a pig with tusks as the tail vanished amongst a thick tangle of brambles, she raised the dagger

    hewn from nature itself above her head and flung it as hard as she could into the brambles. She heard a squeal and a thud. 

     

    Danica squealed with joy as she realized she had just killed a boar. She planted a foot on the boar's side with the silver blade sticking

    out; the ground around it soaked with blood. Danica forcefully extracted the blade and hacked off both of the boar's tusks. She came

    back to the path winding through the trees. She spotted another boar digging in the dirt for some bugs with its razor sharp ivory

    tusks. The boar met the same fate as the last one. She cut its tusks off as well.

     

    "Let's see, I got four boar tusks and the last two things I'll need are junipers berries, Kynareth knows where I am going to find

    those...and, oh yes, two werewolf claws. She thought to herself and she walked off the winding path.

     Danica glanced above the trees, a look of horror upon her face. A bright full moon sneered down at her as light bathed the ground in

    a silvery glow. A few feet away, Danica heard an unmistakable howl which made her hair stand up. She crashed through the

    brambles as a sound of paws and heavy sounded behind her. She made the fatal mistake in looking back; two huge werewolves rose

    high above the nord healer. Danica dropped her bag in her panicked state. She fumbled in it to find a viable weapon to repel

    wereowlves. Smirking, her hand closed around a bow and a bunch of arrows.

     

    She pulled it out and slung the quiver of arrows around her shoulder. She could smell the werewolf's hot breath as she nocked the

    arrow and pulled the drawstring. The arrow whizzed through the air and embedded itself into the wolf's chest. The werewolf howled

    in pain as it writhed about like a possessed ragdoll. After a few seconds of painful yelps, the wolf lay deathly still. Danica took out

    nettlebane again, went over to the werewolf and cut off two of the werewolf's claws. Once she did so, the wolf transformed back into

    its human form.

     

    Danica placed the two werewolf claws beside the four ivory tusks inside her leather bag, hefted it and left the forest. She wondered,

    though, where she was to find juniper berries. Walking a short way from the forest she saw several bushes dotted sparatically with

    reddish-purple berries. Danica moved fast near one of the bushes and, no knowing how many juniper berries she needed, plucked

    every bery from the bush. She reached into her bag and pulled out a small, circular container from it, shoveled the berries into the

    container, closed it and replaced it into her bag. 

     

    She got up and saw Bjorlam coming up the cobblestone road the carriage halted before her. She eyed him in bewilderment,

    "Bjorlam, you are supposed to be in Whiterun tending the stables." 

     

    The carriage driver said he was going that way but, upon realizing she had no way to reach the shrine on her own. He smiled at her

    as he got out of the carriage, asked her for payment which she had promptly given him. Coins in hand, the carriage driver offered to

    take her bag, now heavily weighed down by the alchemical contents. Danica shook her head and told him amicably that she would

    rather carry it herself to avoid accidental spillage and breaking of the alchemical ingredients in her bag.   

     

    She got into the back of the carriage and Bjorlam sat back into the driver's seat, took the reins and spurred the horse onward toward

    the general direction of the shrine. Danica yawned and sleep took her. Hours went by, or was it minutes, Danica's unconscious mind

    did not keep track of time. Her eyes opened when the carriage ground to a halt at the bottom of the cobblestone road leading up to

    the shrine. Danica smiled and waved to Bjorlam and leapt out, He waited for her at the bottom of the hill while she did what she

    need to do. 

     

    She strode up the winding path to the shrine and immediately had to plug her nose; a putrenscence assaulted her nostrils that

    nearly knocked her over. Danica walked to the shrine, which was made hard because of the foul scent on the wind, that of rotting

    flesh. Danica had to stifle a scream as where Kash lay an hour before was a skeleton that still had her shape. Her eyes scanned the

    'shrine' and fell upon the ghostly skeever which was becoming solid all while retching horribley as if it ate a bad bit of cheese. Danica

    gasped audibly as a poison green dragon head poked out of the skeever's open mouth closely followed by the body, black clawed

    tarms, light green leathery wings, hind quarters the size of two human thighs pressed together and, lastly a long tail. 

     

    The dragon had to wriggle the last bit of his body free of the skeever suit. With its 'skin' shed, the dragon stood up, dusted himself

    off and discarded it over the cliff where it fell to the ground with a muffled THUD. Danica eyes went wide in shock as she saw a two

    hundred pound dragon wriggle its way out of a forty pound skeever. A dragon come out of a skeever, by Kynareth, I must be crazy She

    thought, shaking her head. 

     

    The dragon strode over to her and held out a black claws hand and eyed her with apprehension,

    "Do you have the ingredients?" Danica removed them from her bag, "Good, bring those over to the alchemy table."

     

    Danica nodded, still perplexed as to the where in Oblivion he came from. She strode over to the table. Danica dumped the werewolf

    claws and the boar tusks into the mortor and began crushing it to a fine powder. When the claws and tusks were ground to Peryite's

    specifications she dumped them into a vial which she withdrew from her bag. She then dumped the other contents in the mortar,

    ground them up and joined the other contents. She crushed the juniper berries in the mortar and married it with the already liquid

    contents of the vial, she found a small stick and stirred the potion until it turned a reddish-purple. 

    She corked the bottle and placed the potion back into her bag. She was about to leave when the dragon walked behind her and place

    a clawed hand on her shoulder and spun her around to face him, she grimaced as she waved a hand in front of her nose,

    "Phew! Have you ever heard of a breath mint Mister?" she looked at him curiously

     

    The large green dragon mouth went wide in what he had hoped was a smile and not an attempt to eat the female nord, and bent

    low in a bow,

    "Oh, ahem, so sorry, where are my manners? I am-" He started but Danica quickly finished the thought for him

     

    "Hang on, I know who you are, y-you Peryite the author of Curious Tamrielic Ailments and Their Common Cures." She said, gaping at

    the daedric prince, who was standing in the exact location tha she remembered him occupying in his picture on the cover.

     

    Peryite roared with laughter as he smiled down at her,

    "Yes, but, I was not the sole author,, Sheogorath, Molag Bal and Hircine each had their hand iin the making of the book." 

     

    Peryite screwed his scaly face up in thought as if he was trying to remember how to breathe fire,

    "I feel as though I am leave someone out," Suddenly, his face brightened, "Ah yes, Hermaeus Mora."

     

    Danica looked curiously at him,

    "Erm, what did he do? Did he work on the diseases or bind the book together?"

     

    Peryite told her, rather airily, that he bound the book together as books and knowlldge are his domain. Danica asked him what

    diseases the other afforementioned daedric princes did to help the book come together. Peryite did not know what disease Molag Bal

    and Sheogorath worked on. He only knew the page, or pages, as the case was, with the disease called lycanthropy, symptoms and

    cure, if there indeed was one. Danica waved goodbye to the green dragon and proceeded down the path to the carriage where

    Bjorlam waited fast asleep in the driver's seat. 

     

    Danica shook him abruptly on the shoulder and he stirred, yawning widely,

    "Danica, have you finished your errands then?" He asked, leaning down to the nord who nodded  

    Bjorlam smiled at this and told the nord that the return trip to Whiterun would be ten septims. Danica fished for a leather coin purse

    in her bag. She extracted it, dumped out ten gold coins and handed them to Bjorlam. He nodded in thanks and told the nord to get

    in back and they would be off. Danica got in, settled on one of the wooden benches and enjoyed the ride back to Whiterun.

     

    The carriage rumbled to a halt inside the Whiterun stable as Danica thanked Bjorlam, got out and walked to the city gates. As she

    opened the huge wooden doors, she could see Milsha running down the city's main street toward her. Milsha was out of breath as

    she told Danica that she had to hurry to the temple as something was wrong. Danica hurried behind the Argonian who was running a

    few feet ahead of her. They went past the gildergreen and into the temple. Danica gasped as she saw that the patient on the stone

    slab ten feet in front of her, She knelt down and prayed to Kynareth that the patient was still alive; he was but barely. All of his

    scales has necrotized and were in the process of falling out. Danica got up, retrieved the potion from her bag and hastily uncorked

    the vial and tilted the contents into the dying Argonian's mouth.

     

    The air of the temple was thick with anticipation as Danica held her breath and waited for the potion to work. As Iskenaaz's bruised

    and broken body could not call upon the healing powers of the hist, she had hoped the potion could help remedy that. She resigned

    to admitting defeat as the scales continued to blacken and fall out dispite the potion's best work. Iskenaaz's body started to glow

    with a golen light; Danica looked up hopefully. Her face fell as the light wavered and died. She wept as the Argonian's body gave a

    final and awful shutter and then lay deathly silent.

     

    She pulled Milsha aside and asked whether or not she knew the culpit of this fatal attack. Milsha shrugged and muttered something

    about the red marks being the same width apart as Twilight's paws. Danica looked sideways at her and scratched her head

    bewildered. She told the Argonian that she is crazier than a resident of Mania if she thinks Hasir's wolf form attack him. Milsha

    looked at her guiltily and voiced something that Danica might have only guessed at. Milsha told the nord healer that Iskenaaz was

    Hasir's father. Danica gasped and slid down the pillar she had lent against and thudded to the floor head in her hands.

     

    Milsha strode over to her all the while eyeing her with a concerned look. She sat down on the floor tail curling behind her,

    "What is it?" Milsha asked, turning her head toward her, "You look greener than my skin."

    Danica looked up at the female Argonian,

    "Milsha, erm, did you know about this?" Danica asked in a hushed voice

     

    The argonian solemnly nodded and sighed heavily,

    "Yes I did, erm...I saw Hasir's wolf form that day in the training yard at Jorrvaskr, as for him scratching Iskenaaz, I must admit I

    never saw that." 

     

    Milsha lifted her head and turned to Danica, 

    "Danica, can I ask you something?"

     

    Danica, falling asleep looked at her through half lidded eyes,

    "Yes, what is it?" She asked, yawning

     

    Milsha took a deep breath and told Danica about the shadow wolves she saw running alongside the carriage as she came to Gallows

    Rock. She then asked the healer if she knew to whom those shadow wolves belonged. She said she had no idea. Milsha's face

    darkened as she had  a horrible thought cross her mind about the shadow wolves being small parts of a greater, more terrible

    shadows. Danica smirked at her and said it was getting late and saying that they should get some sleep.

     

    Danica and Milsha found different stone slabs that doubled as beds and they fell asleep almost immediately. Their dreams were

    unsullied by any nigtmares.