C.O.T.W Chapter 53: The Mask of Sorrow


  • Tigress and Hasir went their seperate ways, Tigress went up to her room and Hasir walked over to the sad Khajiit sitting on the

    benchwho was singing something soflty under his breath. Hasir eyed his with curiosity,

    "Inigo, what was that song you were singing?" He inquired

     

    The Khajiit shook his furry head,

    "It's nothing my friend, I was just rehearsing my spider killing song."

     

    Hasir's forehead creased in thought. Inigo turned to him and told him of his love for smashing spiders to bits with his sword; if not

    that then shooting them in their many eyes with his ebony bow. Hasir smiled and told the khajiit that he could sing it when they next

    see some spiders. He frowned and said that might not be for a while as he now has to undergo the last of the trials Tigress has to

    teach him.

     

    He padded Inigo on the knee, got up and went to find Tigress. He went down the stairs, past the lone bazier surrounded by stone

    pillars and up another set of steps. He found himself in an idectially stone wall and cielinged hallway as iif the hall was symmetrical,

    he turned left and to his surprise, he found the Ka'po'tun's room. She lay sprawled on her furred bed with her head in a rolled up

    wolf fur which served as a pillow, the same as in his and Inigo's room. This one, though, had one exception, it ran thick with

    Tigress' tears.

    Hasir strode across the darkened room as silently as a shadow and sat on the bed and scratched behind Tigress' ear with a clawed

    finger,

    "Hasir, come to punch me again?" She said, her voice muffled by the pillow

     

    Hasir cupped his hand to his ear,

    "Sorry what was that?" He asked cupping his hand to his ear, "I can't understand pillow talk. Could you speak up?" He asked

    abruptly

     

    She rolled over, Hasir could see her face was streaked with tears and pillow impression marks. Hasir bent closer and told her flat out

    that he only sees her as a friend and, yet again, that he already has a mate. She looked at him with her lamp-like eyes and hugged

    him. Hasir tried to shrug this unforeseen event away, but Tigress held on tight. She lent close to him to whisper something.

    Tigress had thought that Argonians have no ears, but, in actuality, they have a kind of flap over their inner ear which picks up

    vibrations in the air and translates them to sounds their brain. 

     

    Hasir looked at her completely dumbfounded. He tore his eyes away from her, looking instead at his scale feet enveloped in the black

    fur boots. Tigress lent so close to Hasir that he squealed in fright as he toppled over onto the floor, nearly taking the fur out from

    beneath the Ka'po'tun. He got up and sat back on the bed and stared at the Ka'po'tun in an intense glare as if she was grilling him

    for information. He had misjudged the force with which he sat do and sent Tigress somersaulting backwards to land on the floor with

    a dull 'THUD'. She got up, glared at the argonian and sprang cat-like onto the bed sending him flying five feet in the air and landing

    back on the bed. She began to wrestle with him rolling in a mess of green scales and orange fur which lasted a mere five minutes

    before they both lay still near the head of the bed giggling madly.

     

    Hasir looked curiously at her while his brow furrowed,

    "Why did you keep that secret from me for all these years? Why did you make me think Haxara, a reptile I never met, was my

    mother?"

     

    Tigress glanced over to him with lovesick eyes and shook her head,

    "You were just a small hatchling when I had to hand you over to Drujeeta. I had to return to Akavir," She looked down at the furred

    bed spread in shame, "You see, er, Blackmarshites and Akavirians do not mix, at least, not according to the ruling people of

    Blackmarsh, the An-Xileel."  

     

    Hasir's eyes grew to the size of baseballs,

    "Xuth, how did they take it?" He asked, "I hope you made them see reason." 

     

    Tigress looked glumly at Hasir,

    "I tried to but they said if I did not call it off they would have executed me for poisoning the water." She frowned, "Haxara

    understood and stupidly spoke openly about my interracial relationship with Iskenaaz. Next thing she, Haxara, knew, two members

    of the An-Xileel hig council heard of this and sent ten Wamasus to execute her."

     

    She looked at Hasir and he scoffed loudly at her,

    "I fail to believe that, how in Obilivion did the An-Xileel send that many open-mouthed reptiles? Where did they find them? The

    swamps of Skyrim?"

     

    Tigress shot him a look that could have soured histsap. His face contorted in mirthful laughter,

    "Oh, scoff if you must, you slimy reptile, but, to answer your questions they found them in the swamps of Blackmarsh and sent

    them to, er, execute the poor Argonian because of her continued defiace. That and, wanting to protect her cousin from the rather

    stupid law." 

     

    Hasir slammed his tail on the bed,

    "This is bullshit, she was just voicing her views in the absurd law, if I get my hands on them, I'll...I'll kill them." Hasir said, his

    temper rising steadily and fists clenched and shaking. 

    Hasir was about to say that neither the Saxhleel and An-Xileel have no business butting into affairs that the should not place their

    scaly snouts in and that they should allow people to fall in love with whomever they like regardless of race. He did not know the

    ruling body of his native land of Blackmarsh nor did he ever get a chance to speak with or even see them. His father was a member

    of the Lilmoth council and even he did not get so much as a peek.

     

    Her face fell and she told Hasir that Haxara was Iskenaaz's cousin that saw after the newest hatchlings when she, Hasir's real

    mother, retreated to the isle of Akavir because she knew the town would befall a rather grim fate. She also met Quinchal who trained

    in various martial arts. Hasir looked at her and asked her if Quinchal is her real father and that Iskenaaz was his uncle or

    something. Tigress laughed and shook her head,

    "Hasir, no, Iskenaaz is your father, now that we got formalities out of the way, we must train you in your final trial." Tigress got up

    and motioned to him, "Now, come with me, we have much to discuss and I want to know everything that has happened in my

    absence.

     

    Hasir snarled at her and narrowed his eyes,

    "You already told me that, you stupid cat." He said hotly

     

    Tigress scolded him,

    "Do not speak to your mother like that." 

    Hasir had a million questions to ask his 'mother' but he knew now was not the time to ask them as he knew this training was

    important to her. He instead let the questions settle in to his mind for later and walked out to the main room where, surprisingly, he

    found Angier standing there smiling at him,

    "Hasir, this is Angeir, he has volunteered to help me train you in the way of the voice just as he has trained me." She gestured to her

    mentor, "Angeir, you may start the training whenever you are ready." Angeir bowed and thanked her. 

     

    Angeir beckoned Hasir to follow him up to the intricately carved door and pushed one of them open. Tiigress hurried to keep up with

    them. Outside, Angeir turned to Hasir and Tigress and asked Hasir if he was a dragonborn. The argonian nodded and said he did

    absorb a dragon's soul and indeed learnt a word of power. Angeir was eager to see him shout. He took a deep breath and a singlular

    high pitch note escaped his scaly lip.

     

    AAAIIIEEE!!! 

     

    Both Angeir and Tigress frowned, shook their heads and they requested Hasir to feel the words inside his mind's eye, feel them in his

    very soul and then shout. Hasir tried this and closed his eyes, muttered the word to himself, felt the words throughout his entire

    body and saw them in his mind's eye. He took a deep breath and shouted in a tongue unknown to him.

     

    "Fus Ro!"

     

    a clear blue wind eminated from his scaly lips and pushed Angeir back just five inches despite the power that he, Hasir, had put into

    his shout,

    "What in Oblivion was that?" He asked eying Angeir with a confused look

     

    Angier strode over to the confounded Argonian,

    "That was called a Thu'um or shout." He said, chuckling slighty as he beheld Hasir's nonplused expression, "It is the ancient

    language of dragons. "


    The aged greybeard told Hasir that when dragons attack, they actually are speaking in an ancient language known as the Thu'um.

    The argonian was about to say something but the greybeard cut across him and instructed him that the Thu'um is something not to

    fool around with and it requires strict discipline of one's soul and mind so as to not have the Thu'um eat him alive as it has done to

    the dragon priests of old.

     

    Both Angier and Tigress smiled broadly while Hasir looked nonplused,

    "Is that it? Am I a fully fledged shadowscale now?" He asked, his brow furrowed

     

    Tigre strode over put a furred hand on his shoulder and sighed heavily,

    "No, You may have the dragonblood and used it to utter a single word, but you must obtain some more words of power before your

    training can officially begin."

    Hasir looked at Angeir as if he had a massive weight he had to get off his mind,

    "Angeir, Ermmm, can you tell me more of the dragon priests? Who where they? How were they related to the Thu'um?" He asked,

    head cocked sideways

     

    Angeir held up his hands to silence him,

    "Relax dragonborn, all will be revealed in time." He said reassuredly

     

    He told Hasir to go to a word wall a bit north of the monastery and obtain some words of power and then come back and his final

    stage of training can begin. Hasir was about to ask how he was to get there when out of nowhere the gates opened and, as if on cue,

    a white horse outfitted with magnificent golden Imperial armor came charging at him, snow flew with every step the horse took.

    Hasir's chin hit the floor and eyes bulged as he roll dodged out of the way just as his horse, Hashire was about to crash into him.

    Hasir skidded to a halt an inch from the mountain side while using his claws to slow his momentum. The horse came to a full stop

    while the argonian ran toward him and jumped on Hashire and beckoned Tigress over to him.

     

    The Ka'po'tun paused as if weighing the consequences of going with him. In the end, she took his outstretched hand and got hoisted

    up behind him, they waved farewell the Angeir and the horse sped through the gates and down the path that wound down the

    mountain. They rode for what seemed, at least to Hasir, for at least a day when the came to a large open area with a word wall

    nestled between two upthrusts of earth. He and Tigress dismounted the horse and walked to the word wall, He heard chanting and

    the familar sensation of warmth filled his body. All of its energy spent, the words ceased glowing and died altogether. His ears heard

    the dragon before he could see it. A great gout of flame missed him by inches and singed the snow cover wall. Hasir looked around

    and found himself nose to snout with a giant dragon that had green skin stretched almost to snapping point over its gargantuan

    bones.

    Tigress' head snapped to her left and saw the small lizard backing away in fright from the giant lizard. She moved closer to Hasir to

    try and help him. Unseen by the pair of them, an additional presence glidded over the snow like a cold winter wind.  He was ripped

    from his moment of euphoria by a dull thunk of something heavy falling to the ground. Hasir whipped around and saw a skeletal

    being robed in what he could only surmize to be a burial shroud of some kind. The being opened its eyes, which glowed a malicious

    red and it did not take kindly to being woken up. Immediately Hasir used the shout he had just learned and zoom across the room at

    lightning speeds. Both he and Tigress  stared this creature down. Was this one of the dragon priests that Angeir was talking

    about? He thought. He unsheathed his axe from its hip holster and, as an afterthought, readied his off hand axe as well. Hasir told

    her to deal with the additional threat and he will deal with the dragon.

     

    Tigress bellowed and ran at the undead priest and delivered a round house kick hard in the face, Tigress saw the golden mask fly

    threw the air and land with a muffled 'thump' as it lay in the snow in front of the word wall.  Tigress turned back and shrieked in

    fright as she saw a face with the same knotted and scabbed dead flesh that adorned his hands, yellow teeth and sunken eye sockets

    with burning blue eyes completely devoid of every feeling except for pure hatred. Hasir looked over at her and saw the dragon priest

    unsheathed a curved staff topped with a dragon's head that breathed a giant ball of fire it hurtled toward her. He yelled and ran as

    fast as he could toward her.

     

    He took a deep breath as he ran, when he was two feet from the dragonpriest he released it,

    FUS RO!

     

    The dragonpriest did not even budge as Hasir hoped he would do. Hasir's eyes narrowed and his tail rose like a snake and fell hard

    on the burial chamber floor, kicking up dust in the process,

    "By Hircine, I thought the outcome would be better than that." He said, face falling like his head was full of rocks instead of brains

     

    The dragonpriest rushed toward the Argonian and flung a fireball at him. The argonian failed to see the flame orange sphere as it

    struck him full in the face. The force of the impact hurtled the Argonian sideways. His body bounced along the snow and skidded to a

    halt just inches from the sheer dropoff into the valley below. Tigress' head snapped to the side and her eyes filled with angry tears.


    She turned to the dragonpriest, and snarled at him

    "You bastard! How dare you hurt my son." She yelled in an accusatory tone

    She kicked the dragonpriest so hard, it flew past Hasir and toppled over the edge out of sight,

    "Yeah and stay dead, you asshole!" She called, looking toward the direction the priest had fallen. She walked over to the fallen

    argonian and helped her son up. He asked her how she learned how to use her feet like that, like they were not merely limbs but

    missiles of fur. She laughed to herself and began her tale.

     

    "I trained in the same temple you did with Quinchal." She said as she ruffled his black leaf-like hair

     

    Hasir's tail whipped wildly behind him. He wondered how she knew he trained at the same temple for his beginning trials. Had she

    been spying on him? How did she Travel to Akavir? Did she have a ship of her own or did she borrow one? For the second time since

    the argonian found out the Ka'Po'Tun was his mother he had many unanswered questions whirling about his head. He looked

    sideways at her and gave a wry smile,

    "Tigress, erm, how did you even get to Akavir in the first place?"

     

    Tigress sat down on on one of the bits of rubble dotting the room and told Hasir that she arrived on the isle of Akavir on a ship that

    she learned how to make from her father when was a cub. She told him the boot was called The Silver Moon. Hasir cocked his head

    and asked what happened to it. Tigress sighed and said that on the return trip from Akavir, a storm swirled above the ship and

    waves the size of frost giants battered the ship. Tigress said she tried to steer the ship away from the strom squalls but the ship's

    bow hit an iceberg and sank to the bottom of the sea of ghosts. She told him she swam safely to shore but as she looked back all

    that remained of the ship was a mast stinking out of the oceawaterHasir scrambled to his feet and stared at the claw marks in the

    curved stone wall,

    "That story is great and all, but it does not get us any closer as to why or even how the 'dragonpriests of old' factor into this." He

    said narrowing his eyes and digging into one of the claw marks with one clawed finger. He started to turn around as something

    golden glinted in the pinkish-orange sky. 

     

    He bent down and saw a golden mask half hidden by snow that looked so fresh he thought it could have fallen in the past two days.

    Looking curiously at the strange object, he picked it up, dusted the snow off of it and put it into his leather bag. He called over to

    Tigress, her head whipped around to acknowledge him. He beckoned her over to show her the object.

     

      

    She looked at this carefully,

    "I've seen one of these before." She said as she stared wide-eyed at the object 

     

    She was about to ask Hasir what in Oblivion was going through his mind as he dealt the final blow to the dragonpriest, but changed

    tactics immediately. She explained that her mentor was studying these dragonpriests to find out how they came to be and, in a

    hidden chamber in a mountain top nordic ruin called Forelhost, how he came upon a prophecy that lay strewn across the rear wall

    from one end of the wall to the other. The propechy, Tigress explained, was a tangled web in its own right and told Hasir it is their

    job to find that prophecy and decipher it. Tigress smiled and handed the mask back to the argonian who returned the gesture and

    placed the mask amongst the vension and potions that lay at the bottom of his leather bag.

     

    No sooner did he put the mask in his leather bag did another spurt of fire singe the word wall further forcing the Argonian and

    ka'po'tun to shield themselves from the intense flames. Hasir's madness axe rattled in its sheath as he ran toward the snarling

    dragon, tail swinging to and fro behind him. The dragon's long spiky reptilian tail lashed out forcing him to roll sideways out of the

    way to avoid getting crushed.

     

    Hasir unsheathed his orange spider netted, stone headed axe and swung hard at the spiky tail. The axe bit in but the tail was

    carrying too much momenum on the upswing that the shocked Argonian was flung sideways with it. The scaly owner of the large tail

    flew skyward and started zigzagging through the air to try to dislodge him. Despite the dragon's best efforts the stubborn Argonian

    still hung on face screwed up in a half concentrated, half worry way Keep hold and don't look down. Whatever you do don't look

    down. He thought as the dragon continued its zigzag flight pattern. He climbed higher as the Argonian clamped his eyes shut to fight

    the feeling of nausea flooding over him like a ship rocked on the ocean by a fierce storm.

     

    An invisble force whizzed past Hasir and with a roar of distress, it hurtled toward the ground like a out of control carriage tumbling

    down a rocky hillside. The Argonian's eyes went wide as he saw the ground spiraling ever closer Oh Hircine, this is not how I wanted

    to die, stuck on the tail of a dragon like a dragon shishkebab! He thought frantically and they ground drew closer and closer. Hasir

    heard a muffled 'thump' as the dragon kicked up snow as he crashed down feathery wings spayed against the snow, its tail rising in

    an arc behind it. Hasir dislodged the axe and slid off the tail like a seasoned dragon hunter.

     

    The dragon roared and a plume of flame exited his own maw; Hasir rolled sideways as he narrowly escaped certain death. The

    dragon did not even flinch as it roasted its own scales. Hasir unsheathed his offhand axe and walked around to the front of the fiery

    breathing, mountain-like scaly beast, rested his furred foot on the great beast's snout and hoisted himself up  on its back so he was

    riding it like some deluded cowboy tale of the cowboy riding some kind of scaly horse. Hasir raised both axes into the air so that the

    moonlight glinted off of the polished stone heads of the axes. He did not need to worry about transforming because he had on the

    ring that Kodlak gave him.

      

    The twin axes descended in a downward arch and cleaved clean through the dragon's scaly neck. Tigress clamped her eyes shut and

    brought her hands up pressing them into her eyes clareful not to gouge her eyes out with her claws. She did not want to see her son

    roasted alive by a large dragon. She cringed as she heard the horrible ripping noise of flesh ripping open; had it been Hasir's flesh or

    the dragon's? She did not knew for certain. 

     

    The dragon's head came off and bounced along the snow, painting the snow red as it bounced, a steady stream of crimson, life

    giving fluid gushed out of the dragon's neck like some grotesque fountain. The headless body twitched and writhed in agony. It lifted

    itself off the snow, wings flapping feebly and then, it fell to the snow again, laying deathly still. He searched the dead body of the

    dragon for anything that could of use to him; he found some gold, ivory bones and scales on the giant creature.

     

    He walked oved to the femal ka'po'tun and gestuered with his head to the horse,

    "Shall we go? Angeir will be worried sick if we dont get back soon." He lowered his mother's hands and held them in his own, "Hey,

    it's okay, that dragon won't bother use anymore I assure you. I killed it." He said, his tail swayed this way and that.

     

    Tigress nodded and walked towards the horse with her son. An inch from the horse she stopped and turned to him tears glistening in

    her amber eyes,

    "Hasir, I thought I lost you. When I heard the ripping of flesh, I was sure you were dead. I even saw your dead body on the ground.

    Thank Akatosh you are alright. Let's go back to High Hrothgar so you can get on with your training."

     

    She nodded, He got up on the horse lent down and helped her up on the horse behind him. Griinning stupidly, he kicked the horse

    lightly in the sides and rode back to High Hrothgar. On the journey back, Tigress asked Hasir how he finished off that dragon. Hasir

    told her that he had to cling to the scaly beast's tail as it continually flung up into to sky to try to shake him off andsome blue spirit

    caused the dragon to lose its ability of flight and crash to the ground. Tigress chuckled to herself and whispered into Hasir's ear that

    it was she who felled the dragon.

     

    Hasir turned to her and chuckled to himself,

    "You? How?" He asked, brow furrowed

     

    Tigress told him to keep his eyes on the road and told him how when Angeir rescued her from that horrible orphanage he brought

    her to the ancient monestary on the Throat of the World to train her in the way of the voice to help her defend from the bullies she

    had to deal with her entire life. She told Hasir what she had used was a shout called dragonrend. Hasir was about to ask why the

    greybeards taught her this particular shout but Tigress cut into him,

    "By Akatosh, you think the greybeards taught ME that shout?" She asked him outraged, "Oblivion no, I learned the shout from a

    vision I had at the top of the mountain in what is known as the time wound.

     

    They rode back toward the snowy courtyard of High Hrothgar in silence. They galloped to the passageway that snaked its way down

    the side of the mountain and retraced their, er, hoofprints back to where Angeir stood anxiously waiting for them. 

     

    Pulling the reins hard to make the horse skid to a halt, Hasir dismounted closely followed by the Ka'po'tun. Angier strode up to them

    and wore a pleased look on his face and asked the argonian if he finished the task that the greybeard set forth for them,

    "So, Dragonborn, did you find what you sought? Are you ready to start the training?" He asked him, "Tigress told me that she is

    prepared for the final test." He assured him placidly

     

    Hasir nodded but remembered the item which he had taken from the nordic ruin. He reached a clawed hand into his bag and

    extracted the enchanted mask. He moved over to Angeir, his tail slid between his legs as he walked as a horrific thought entered his

    mind: what if this were some kind of trap and the greybeards want the dragonpriests' power to themselves? He had to shake off this

    thought like an annoying fly that kept buzzing around his head yet his tail did not relax it still lay tucked between his legs. 

     

    He smiled at the greybeard who held he hand out for the mask and handed it over, but stopped suddenly,

    "Angeir, before I give you this magickal tinket, answer me two questions." Hasir asked, eyebrows raised

     

    Angeir looked nonplused but relaxed, giving the Argonian a warm smile,

    "Of course dragonborn and what might they be?" He asked

     

    Hasir asked him if they have no ill will intended for the artifact he was to hand over. He said they indeed had no ill will intended. He

    said the second question he had banging on the walls of his mind was how Tigress learned the 'dragonrend' shout. Angeir cringed at

    the mention of the shout as if that particular shout was taboo with the greybeards,

    "Draggonborn, the greybeard are not privy to the 'dragonrend' shouts in fact we do not teach or even speak of it because it was a

    shout made artificially. Hasir cocked hs eyebrows at him in a 'how can one make a shout artificially?' way.

     

    Angeir explained that years ago when the humans saw themselves to be greater than the greybeards, they created a shout to force

    the dragons to experience mortality for a short time. The humans feared the greybeard and, in turn, the greybeard cut that shout

    out of their teaching curriculum.Hasir asked who could have taught the humans such a diabolical shout. Angeir told him that the

    shout was invented by the great shadow to overpower the dragons and warp them to his will.

      

    Angier held his hand out more forcefully toward the argonian coupled with an impatient expression,

    "That is why we need to masks, they hold special powers that we can use to combat the great shadow and his minions."

    Hasir asked who its followers were. Angeir sighed and said coldly that he aldready told him that the dragons and dragonpriests are

    being turned by the being for some reason, a reason that they had not yet known.

     

    Tigress gasped and told Angeir the dream vision she had of the great shadow and his winged servants. Angeir walk over and put his

    hand on her shoulder,

    "Tigress, why did you not tell me that you had the gift of foresight?" Tigress shrugged, apparently not knowing this herself.

     

    Angeir turned to Hasir who was leaning against the stone pillar to the right of the double doors. Again, he held out his hand,

    reluctant to do so, he slowly lowered his hand into his bag, grasped the mask and thought of knocking the greybeard unconscious

    with the mask and preparing to make a run for it, but thought against it. He extracted the mask and handed it over. Hasir expected

    the greybeard's eyes to turn red or the sky to turn dark with lightning flashing but it did not. The sky remained the way it had been

    and the greybeard's eyes did not flash red. What it did do, however, was brighten a little bit as Angeir scanned the golden mask with

    the outline that the shimmering light cast on the mask,

    "How extraordinary, I appears what you brought was a dragonpriest's mask, Krosis' I think." He said, deep in thought

     

    Hasir and Tigress cocked their heads and gawked at him,

    "Who is Krosis?" They asked in unison