C.O.T.W Chapter 54: Cut From the Same Loincloth


  • Ocheeva awoke and immediately shivered in 'her' room. Several wooden crates stood piled up in one corner and torn flour sacks

    spilled flour all over the floor. A cold draft was coming from the set of two windows set high in the stone wall that stood

    perpendicular from her bed. The fact that the room was made of stone did not help matters either. Ocheeva's face screwed up in

    thought, had she wolfed out in the night or did she have a nightmare so vivid that she openly acted out the nightmare?

     

    She did not want to think on this any further as she was not sure that she wanted to be a werewolf any longer, she knows her

    grandson would have a few choice words for her if he knew of her desire to openly seek a cure for her lycanthropy. She hated the

    fact that when, or if, she dies; Ocheeva tried not to think on this, she wanted her soul to be pure and entirely unblemished by the

    taint of the wolf. She wanted to return to the hist and be reborn as a better version of herself.

     

    She knew that all Argonian shed their former skin, when they die, like snakes do and emerge in a new skin and, at least for

    Argonians, with a new brain as well; in short, they become reconstructed from that which birthed them into the world: hist sap.

    Ocheeva eased hherself to her feet and strode out of the dreary room, down the steps and out into the main room. Ocheeva was not

    surprised that she was the only person awake; she knew that the other silver hand members lay stuggled in their beds. As she

    strolled toward the sanctuary entrance, she thought to herself about how stupid the members were that they thought that she was

    one of them; she was wrong. She only had one clutch and did not betray them for all the hist sap in all of Nirn.

    She stuck to the shadows as she moved up the steps and out into the chilly night air. She did not need to stick to the shadows she

    knew but she had to be ccertain she was not being followed. When she was sure she was alone. She walked over to the black pool of

    water and moved her hands in a complicated way and said a few words in an unknown togue and immediately, the water started

    bubbling and soon after came the thundering gallops of some unseen ghost horse and the thunder stopped. Ocheeva's eyes went

    wide as she beheld a midnight black horse with red eyes; the same horse she saw Astrid on when she came to chastize her for killing

    her husband.

     

    Ocheeva ran her hand along it ans she was alongside it feeling the chest rise and fall as the horse drew breath and exhaled it again,

    she too, felt the hot breath that it exuded from its nostrils. Satified, she put one foot in the leather stirrup and hoisted herself up on

    the horse, lightly tapped its side with her boot and the horse was off. Ocheeva's fast heartbeat matched the horse's quick gallop. She

    smelled fresh dirt, grass and cool mist as she hurried though streams and ocassionally veered off of the beaten path for a more wild,

    untamed path. Trees whipped by her as she sped on to the location only she knew. She did know that she would have to get their by

    way of Whiterun. She slowed the horse alittle as the city came into sight with it gaurdtower and, at the highest point of the city was

    its most famous building - Dragonsreach. Ocheeva smiled to herself as the horse cantered down the slope toward the city.

     

    Though, it was not the city she was looking for; she scanned the horizon for the path she wanted, she found it winding its way

    around a central mountain; one she did not know and sped on for that path. She could not explain it but Argonian are really adept at

    finding other Argonians; call it reptilian intuition or family ties but she knew where her kin was to be found. The air was thick with his

    scent as he too had come the way that Ocheeva was know going. She urged the horse to go faster as the city of Whiterun fell away

    and was replaced by miles and miles of untamed wilderness cut down the middle by the road which she traveled at speed toward her

    destination. 

     

    She rode into Ivaarstead by early afternoon and passed by various buildings and she made for the humpback bridge and the horse

    clip clopped over it and began climbing the gradual incline. Ocheeva climbed up the steps as the dreary scenery of trees and

    mountainside  fell away the higher she climbed. The impressive high walled chasm with the cobblestone road running along the

    center of it stood like a gatehouse between her and her destination. Ocheeva kick the horse in the side and she trotted along the

    road. When she was clear of the walled chasm, a magnificent stone building the size of ten dragonreaches put together. She pulled

    the reins bringing Shadowmere to a halt and dismounted. She stared up at the imposing building. She shrugged it off and proceeded

    up the stone staircase and pushed the great ston door opened. To Ocheeva's surprise, they swung open at the lightest touch.

     

    Once she was inside, the doors slid surrupticiously shut behind her. Someone was behind her Ocheeva new that as she could feels

    waves of cold shoot down her scales. She turn around and saw no one, even though the doors remaineed shut tight. Ocheeva looked

    around, mouth agape at the massive hall with its high rise windows aand it equally high stone cieling. She heard someone getting

    from the bench on the usecond level and immediately hid behind a pillar in the main room. The creature walked down the steps, his

    footsteps magnified in the stony silence. 

     

    He sat down on the first step down from the second floor hallway and let his tail coil and uncoil behind him as he smiled to himself, 

    "I see you, better come out now." He said as he flew throught the air and grasped something that was hidden behind the pillar in

    front of him. The khajiit dragged the Argonian over to him while she tried to wriggle free of his vice-like grip, "get off of me you

    blasted cat, what do you think you doing?" She asked him giving him a look like a hungry wolf would give a hunter that plucked one

    of its pups from its pack. Ocheeva finally managed to wrench her wrist free of the khajiit's grip.

     

    The khajiit backed up as if struck by a punch to the face,

    "Hey, take it easy. I am not a piece of meat that you can toss aside." He said, shaking his head waggling his finger at her.

     

    Ocheeva apologized at this rude act and told Inigo why she was there. Inigo looked at her wide eyed as if she told him something

    amazing,

    "So what you are saying is...you need to warn Hasir, your grandson, of impending doom?"

     

    Ocheeva nodded and eyed him with great unease,

    "Yes I do. Er, this, erm, impending doom of which I speak of is his brother and the silver hand assassins." Inigo looked sideways at

    Ocheeva as he gave her a confused look. "The silver hand assassins are a sect of werewolf hunters that specialize in stealthy

    werewolf killings." She pointed to heto 'betray' them.rself, confirming Inigo's suspicions, "I am a werewolf and I only joined to find

    my grandson. Of course I had to act the part when I was around the assassins. I became attached to them but not too attached that

    I would find it difficult to 'betray' them." 

    She strode the length of stone between the pillar and Inigo's step,

    "Last night, while I was mulling something over in my room," Inigo started to ask what that was, but, after Ocheeva viscious glare,

    she his mouth abruptly, "I then derailed that train of thought and put it on a new track where she hatched a plan to use the cover of

    night to slip out of the sanctuary and ride the sanctuary leader's horse to the hilltop monastery."

     

    Inigo gave a curt laugh as he folded his arms and shook his head. He pointed menacingly at her and insisted that she stole the horse

    and pissed off someone at the sactuary. Ocheeav assured him that she was not followed. This, however, was not true as she had

    smelled a presence in the sanctuary but whatever or whoever it was staying to the shadows which were comfortably nestled in the

    corner of the entryway of the sanctuary between the long table and the wall that connected the main room and entryway.

     

    Whatever it was grinned madly, yellow eyes glinting out of a hidden nordic face, as she past and dissolved into shadow. Ocheeeva

    finished her tail as she proceeded to the double doors that lead out into a snowy windswetp coutyard. Immediately as she emerged,

    Tigress turned her head and looked at Ocheeva, eyes as wide as wheels of cheese,

    "By Akatosh...Ocheeva? My word, I have not seen you since my last sojourn into the region of Blackmarsh. How are you?" She

    asked, embracing the Argonian rather affectionately. 

     

    Ocheeva said she was great and Tigress said she had a bit of news to share with her; a bit of news she urged Ocheeva to be kept

    secret until the time was right. Ocheeva looked at her dumbstruck and asked her what the secret was that needed to be kept

    underwraps. Tigress strode over to a stone bench that stood between the pillars on the left side of the door. She beckoned to her

    mother and urged her to do the same. Ocheeva sat down and turned to the Ka'po'tun and asked her what the 'secret' was. Tigress

    took a deep breath and started spinning a tale of great importance; or at least to her,

    "Ocheeva, you must swear that which I tell you will not travel to Hasir's ears, at least not until-"

     

    Ocheeva finished her thought for her,

    "The time is right, I know you already told me." She said hotly

     

    Tigress apologized and said she was not aware of her previous conversation. She then told Ocheeva about her brother and sister and

    how Hasir had a cousin he did not know about. The cousin in question was an Argonian who had a rather strange birth defect,

    "You see, she has no tail. Argonian aren't normally born without tails. Yet this one was born without one. It's more of a birth defect

    than anything. As for what causes it is anyone's guess."

    Ocheeva asked who this tail-less Argonian was. Tigress lent close and whispered the Argoian's name in her ear so as to not become

    mistakenly overheard,

    "Her name...her name is Khash." She stammered. Tigress told the Argonian that the name meant 'tailless' in orcish

     

    Ocheeva looked taken aback by this name and asked how in Oblivion an Argonian can live with being given an orcish name. Tigress

    told Ocheeva that thirteen and a half years ago an orc stumbled in Blackrose and saw an unhatched egg in a pool of hist sap among

    hist trees surrounded by some hatched eggs. She also told Ocheeva that these pools of hist sap are known to the scaly locals as

    'birthing pools.'

     

    She also told the female Argonian that the eggs were watched closely by an 'egg minder.' He took pity on the unhatched egg and

    brought that egg to his stronghold in Orsinium. His name was Marlok. He was the only orc in the stronghold which was big enough to

    fit twelve orc men, women and orclings comfortably. The moment she hatched, he knew that something was a bit odd about the tiny

    hatchling. Where there should have been a tail wasnothing. There was no appendige stretching out from her buttocks.

     

    She continued her tale and Ocheeva's eyes fixed on the Ka'po'tun deeply invested in her story about Hasir's cousin,

    "If she was in her homeland when she hatched, the other hatchlings might have been scared of her and would shun her for being

    'different.' But, luckily Marlock saved her, er, egg from that ridicule. Ermmm, anyway pressing on, when she grew up she came to

    accept that the birth defect was not a defect at all but a way to differentiate herself from other Argonian children. Khash left

    Orsinium to find her actual mother and father and that is when she found them. Once there, she asked her parents if she had a

    proper brother or sister. Her face fell when Drujeeta and Juleen told her that she did not have a brother but became delighted again

    when they said she had a cousin that lived in the snowy continent of Skyrim and she set out to find him. She arrived at Riverwood

    by ship a few days ago and booked a room in the sleeping giant inn as per her parents' instructions."

    This was met from confusion from the aged Argonian. Tigress explained the situation and this eased Ocheeva's concerns

    somewhat.She knew the Argonian did not understand how her grandson did not meet her cousin, not even once. She was confused

    throughy and couldn't wrap her mind around the female and male argonians not metting despite them being towns apart. She

    wondered if he even had been in Riverwood. She had no time to think on this as she had a far more pressing thought on her mind:

    Who or what was the doomstrider and why had he not manifested himself yet in corporeal form. Was he waiting for the oppurtune

    time or biding time and waiting for the ongoing war between the stormcloaks and imperials to become so chaotic that he can pick a

    vessel without much confusion?

     

    Ocheeva yawned and slumped against the stone wall and quickly fell asleep. Tigress stroked her mom's snout,

    "You will understand these things in time, goodnight Ocheeva." She said as she got up from the bench and strode around the

    courtyard.

     

    Tigress moved to the center of the courtyard and caught a snowflake on her paw and gracefully manuvered it around her body in a

    very basic move of Tai Chi While she did this she breathed deeply so as to both move negative thoughts out of her brain and to get

    her more focused on the task ahead.

     

    At the end of her excercise, she sat down in the snow, assumed a full lotus position and her tail wrap around her. She meditated

    deeply and made absolute certain that her yin and yang halves of her soul were in balance before she opened her eyes again, if they

    were not in proper alignment then she would start the meditation process all over again. She sighed as she felt that the two halves

    of her soul were in fact in perfect alignment. She got up, went over to the bench and sat next to the sleeping argonian heading

    lolling sideways unconsciously into her mother's lap

    The teenage female Argonian crossed under the wooden arch surrounded by stone walls and marveled at the medival city which

    looked different than thee high walled castletowns of Orsinium,

    "Tusk me, this is beautiful!" She exclaimed raspily as she passed under the arch and entered the inn that lay just inside the town

     

    Orgnar was cleaning plates with a rag after the guests ate dinner as Khash walked up to the counter. The nord ceased washing

    dishes as he eyed her with great interest as he thought her mage hood and furred armor outfit was unusual. Khash asked him

    politely to not stare at her like she was some freakshow attraction. He did as she asked and a smile of greeting crept across his face,

    "Hello and, er, welcome to the sleeping giant inn, may I interest you in a room? They are ten septims each." He said, still smiling

    broadly, "Whe have only one room available, that one over there." He pointed to one of the door to the left of the counter. "So, are

    you interested in that one? it is ten septims per night."

     

    The female Argonian said she would be delighted to take that one. Khash rummage in her leather bag and produced a small tannish

    puch which contained ten gold coins which she handed over to the innkeeper who gladly pocketed them and showed Khash to her

    room and bade her goodnight.

     

     Khash turned her head toward him and returned the kind words as he quietly shut the door. She whipped her head around so fast

    that she bcame a little dizzy. She shook this unwanted feeling off and gawked at the room at large, sure it was smaller than the

    room that Marlock had given to her during her stay in Orsinium, but her wide-eyed expression Despite her mouth remaining in that

    neutral position that all Argonians adopt due to their lack of muscles around the mouth, her eyes were full of emotion - joy,

    happiness and a sense of curiosity that seemed to brighten up the room as they also seemed to make up for her lack of emotion due

    to her missing tail.

     

    She saw there was a nightstand next to a bed that looked nice and cofortable with furs laying on top of it, some wooden pegs next to

    that which could be used to hang stuff on. The bed, she saw, was hugging the wall so tightly that she feared it would run out of

    breath if the pressure on it was not released immediately. She knew that walls were inanimate object that did not require oxygen

    or breath for that matter. She moved over to the bed and lay down on it and quickly fell asleep. She had a long a tough journey from

    Orsinium to Morrowind and then to Skyrim and she needed to recharge her batteries before meeting her cousin in the days ahead.

     

    The next morning came with yellow fingers feeling their way through the windows on the wall by the bed, Khash rolled over in her

    sleep to try and blocked them out. The only thing was, though, she rolled to far to the right and fell onto thewooden floor with a loud

    'Thud.' The little Argonian's eyes snapped open to find herself looking, face down, at the wooden floorboards. She groaned as she

    got to her feet and went over to the wodden peg display and pulled her mage hood down from one of the pegs thathung by the

    nightstand by her bed, put it on and went into the main room of the inn.

     

    When she entered, she saw that some travelers had come into the inn, probably to stave off the cold she thought, They were still in

    their pajamas and a strange lady that Khash had never seen before was walking between the wooden picnic tables crammed against

    the walls and taking the orders of the patrons who sat upon the wooden benches just wide enough to sit two, maybe three

    comfortably. Khash scanned the whole inn and saw guests not only seated at the long pinic tables but also in chairs by a roaring

    firepit in one corner. Khashs moved as to avoid detection and upon closer inspection saw that the lady had placed mugs of hot

    honeyed mead in front of some guests and hot juniper berry juices in front of other and plates of fried pine thrush egss along with

    modest slabs of boar meat with wooden bowls full of what looked like venison stew in front of them. 

     

    Khash sat in a vacant chair bewteen two burly nords and watched as the guests at the pinic table adjacent from her position ate their

    meal and drank their beverages with huge, satisfying gulps. Orgnar told the woman to come up to him which she did and pointed out

    the strange Argonian sitting near the door of the inn,

    "Delphine, see that Argonian over there?" He said gesturing in the direction of the 'freak'

     

    The nord nodded asking Orgnar, her husband, what he was on about,

    "Delphine, don't you think its a bit odd that she has no tail unlike others of her race?"

     

    Delphine shot him a disapproving glance, told him to lower his hand at once and told Orgnar not to be such a bully. Orgnar through

    his hands up in apology but it was too late as the air of the inn became thick with sniggers and hushed murmurs as the guests had

    finished their meal.

     

    Delphine looked scathingly at her husband, She thrust a full mug and filled plate into his hands,

    "Since you so rudely singled her out in full view of the inn, you can go and serve her; poor girl looks starving."

     

    He shook his head and shoved the mug and plate into her hands,

    "No way, I ain't going over there, you do it. I don't want to be anywhere near that freak." He yelled in pain as Delphine slapped him

    hard on the back of the head with her free hand and storde over to where the poor girl sat staring longingly into the fire. Delphine

    put a mug of hot mead and a plate full of pine thursh eggs and boar meat on the table next to where the Argonian sat. The smell of

    food entered her nosttrils making her look up,

    "Hey there, I'm Delphine and you are?" She asked her with a bright smile

     

    The Argonian glanced down at her furred dress and mumbled something inaudible, Delphine bent low and cupped a hand to her ear,

    "What? I didn't quite get that. Say again?"

     

    The Argonian took a deep breath and lifted her head up and danica could see tears welling up in her eyes,

    "Did your husband mean what he said about me? About me being a freak?"

     

    Danica shook her head and told the Argonian not to worry about it and that her husband, like any being on Tamriel tends to look

    down on anyone or anything that is different and make fun of them only to boost their own warped sense of self importance.

     

    The Argonian lowered her head again,

    "Well, that's just cruel! Why can't everyone just get along?"

     

    Delphine put a finger under her scaly chin and made the Argonian look at her. She told the scaly visitor that everyone has their own

    ideas of what being different really means and to not let it get under her scales. She smiled broadly at her again and told the

    Argonian that the fact that she has no tail makes her special and not a freak as so many Tamrielites would be so bold to point out.

    She them pulled up a chair beside the small table and asked the Argonian here name,

    "My name is Khash." The Argonian told her

     

    Danica smiled at this, she lent her chair closer to Khash

    "Well, Khash, I'm Delphine nice to meet you. Care to tell me how youwhere born without a tail?" She asked, looking concerned

     

    Khash lowered her head so that only the top of her hood was visible,

    "Not really. If I do promise you won't laugh?"

     

    Delphine said she wouldn't laugh. Khash told her of how during her birthing process, none of which she could remeber, she was born

    without a tail. She did not know how or why that had happened. An orc by the name of Marlock found her and brought her to the

    city of Orsinium.

     

    The nord innkeeper looked taken aback,

    "He did that to spare you feelings right? Surely he knew that the other hatchlings would make fun of you? What happened to you

    parents?"

     

    Khash nodded and told Delphine that her parents were in Vvardenfell and Marlock traveled to the continent of Vvardenfell to find

    them with her egg wrapped tightly in his traveling cloak. She told the innkeeper that he found them and they were so releived that

    she was okay. Khash then said that he asked Drujeeta and Juleen why they did not return for her after leaving her egg to the egg

    minders. They had no answer for his inquiry although they did say that they will always love her if she happened to suffer a birth

    defect. 

     

    Khash's face suddenly grew dark as she told Delphine that some years ago, they died while adventure in the Sheogorad region of the

    island. She fell silent despite Delphine's pleas to her more of the story. The innkeeper left Kash to her thoughts and hoped that she

    would eat the meal Delphine had set next to her before it got cold.

     

    The young argonian did as the nord innkeeper asked and wolfed down the meal. Food bits and the remnants of the mead poured

    down her front. She lent close to the fire and warmed her hands all the while thinking of what her mom had told her of her cousin;

    that he was a werewolf like her and has trouble embracing both his emotions and his wolf form. She also told her that he tries really

    hard to keep his wolf form hidden and his hope was, she told her that his hope were if his wolf form was kept hidden then his

    emotions would remained hidden as well. 

     

    She also thought of how the her mom, his aunt, tried to make Hasir control his emotions by himself because she wanted his mind to

    be in control however the wolf, which Drujeeta was not on the island to see, threw his emotions into overdrive. She tore herself away

    from the fire and went out to Riverwood to take a walk in order to clear her head.

    As she walked, hands thrust into her pockets, she heard a hammer striking an anvil as the blacksmith was making some sort of

    sword, perhaps a claymore or longsword. She heard people her mom arguing with her daught about seeing a dragon fly over the

    town. Khash blanked this francticked exchange and ascended the steps to Hadvar's's house that stood near the main archway of the

    city.

     

     

    She walked over to the adjacent forge. She spotted the local blacksmith Hadvar pounding metal ingots flat to form the blade of the

    weapon. He stopped pounding sensing a presence and turned around. He spotted a teenage Argoinian stared open mouthed at him

    and pointed to his hammer,

    "Excuse me, mister, but, er, what are you doing?" 

     

    The blacksmith put his tools down, strode over to her, put his hand on her shoulder and bent down, smiling,

    "I'm not sure we've met, I'm Hadvar, the town blacksmith." he said, offering her his hand which she promptly shook

     

    He smiled again and stood up. He brought the Argonian over to the forge,

    "What can I do for you, erm, I apologize but what was your name again?

     

    The Argonian smiled at him,

    "Oh, my apologies I'm Khash, please to meet you." She said, her eyes glimmering with the thirst for knowledge

     

    The blacksmith was glad he had a willing apprentice, he showed her everything he knew about the craft. He asked her why she

    wanted to learn the craft, she said that she wanted to make sturdy armors and weapons that would protect her from her enemies

    and also she wanted to help supply the soldiers-whether they be Imperials or Stormclak-weapons and armor that would help them in

    the war.

     

    Hadvar asked her what her stance on the war was-which side she identified with-she told him that her adoptive father, an orc named

    Marlock supported the Stormcloaks because the Imperials laid waste to the entire Orc city and killed the Orcish lead,, the persaon

    who brought her to Orsinium. Hadvar frowned as a horrible dawning hit him that she chose the worng side intead of the glorious

    Imperials of which he was a part.

    The Argonian felt his red hot glare burning into the nape of her neck even though his head was bowed. She felt incredibly stupid

    divulging that sort of information to a person she knew was with the Imperials. She looked up to the sky and noticed they had been

    at it all day. She bade goodnight to Hadvar and the blacksmith returned the gesture and she walked back to the inn.