C.O.T.W Chapter 55: The Greybeard Taboo

  • Angeir held the mask at arms length as if it were a precious treasure, he carefully studied the yellowish hue glimmering about the

    mask's surface,

    "Krosis is the dovahzul word for 'sorrow' although the enchantments on this mask do not exactly make him live up to his name. I do

    not know the history of the dragonpriests but I do know that he is widely considered to be one of the weakest if not THE weakest

    dragonpriest when he was alive. He wasn't into the magical arts or the art of the warrior like his brethren; Krosis and his brothers

    filled the three skillsets in Skyrim: warrior, mage and thief. In life, he was the best thief in the land." He looked sorrowfully at Tigress

    and Hasir who were leaning against the intricately carved stone pillars on either side of the double doors into the mountain top

    sanctuary, arms folded against their chests, "his brothers did not think stealth was a worthy skill to have; they thought that stealin

    from people and attacking from the shadows was the cowardly way out and nowhere near as chavelrous and powerful as the art of

    war or magic; they brought him to shearpoint beacon and left him while they sought fame and glory elsewhere."


    Both the Argonianand Ka'po'tun looked at him like he said something utterly filthy,

    "Er, what is 'Dovahzul' exactly?" Hasir asked


    Angeir looked at him as if he had stepped in some kwama dung,

    "Dragonborn surely you have heard of dragon speech?" He thought more on this, "Ah yes, forgive me, you have the dragon soul, this

    much is true but you have yet to be brought up to speed on the dragon language. Well you are in luck, I have a library dedicated to

    both that subject and maybe even that of which you seek." 

    Hasir's brow furrowed as his clueless eyes bore into Angeir's old and wise eyes,

    "Whoa, hold on a minute, did you just say you say you KNOW about the doomstrider?"


    Angeir nodded and craned his neck toward the argonian. He said he did know about the doomstrider. He traipsed around the

    courtyard saying that the greybeards do more than siit up her shouting at the sky all day. He answered Hasir's confused look with a

    wide smile. He knew Hasir would be overjoyed as he heard that there was a library even if it was not a library as he knew it. The

    only library he saw was the one in Skaal village a few years ago so any Thu'um library would be an improvement over the one on the

    isle of Solsthiem even though that one was nice too.


    Angier stopped traipsing and gestured Hasir and Tigress inside and directed them to their seperate rooms and told them they would

    have to wait for Hasir's final test until the morning as they have had enough excitement for today and that he had to retreat into his

    chambers to study the mask further so he can think up where Krosis' brothers went after leaving him to die in that snowy clearing

    the Argoina and cat-creature vacated merely an hour before. They waved curtly to each other and parted ways.


    Before Hasir went to his room, he walked by the indigo khajiit and beckoned to him to follow. Inigo opened his mouth to ask where

    they were going but Hasir just shook her head and pointed in the direction they were going. Inigo wondered exactly where they

    were going when they turned around and walked in Tigress' bedroom hallway. As they walked past a stone wall, a stone door

    appeared stretching from floor to ceing interwoven with nordic curvy symbols. Inigo started to decipher these symbols even though

    he did not even known what they said. Hasir pushed the massive doors open and stepped inside. Inigo started to stride past the

    door when one of his clawed hands grasped his shoulder and pulled him inside the room. 


    The room they now stood inside had walls fashioned from the same stone as the sanctuary itself and ceiling high arched windows on

    the far end, stars and crescent moon clearly visible in the black sky outside. Wooden bookshelves with books stretched upwards

    towards a ceiling cloaked in shadow as far as the eye could see assaulted their eyes. Red carpets running down the middle each of

    the four aisles. Hasir looked up and gasped, there at the end of the room were steps leading to a stone platform with a wooden table

    and three stone chairs upon it and a little further on was an wrought iron spiral staircase that wound upwards to a balcony that was

    also cloaked in darkness, light came from lit torches set a few inches apart on the walls in intricate metal brackets.

     Hasir walked lightfooted through the room so as to not rouse any unwanted visitors. Inigo followed him and his foot got caught

    under one of the carpets running the aisle to the far right as Hasir spilt off and took the one in the middle. Hasir ran his claw along

    one of the many rows of books with titles both in the common tongue and the dovahzul or 'dragon voice.' Hasir took a book from the

    shelves and, to his surprise, he did not find the usual head of a creature with gemstones for eyes upon this cover nor would he find

    anything of the sort on any of these books. He frowned and then shrugged the disheartening thought away and cracked the book



    A plum of dust erupted from the book like an ancient volcano and made Hasir cough horribly. Hasir began to read to book and then a

    realization washed over him like a bucket of cool water: he did not know the first thing about reading Dovahzul. Nonetheless, he

    tried to announciate the syllables, though it was vastly different from the lanuage he knew either in the common tongue, his

    Cyrodillian one, or even his blackmasrh language; which he did not remeber because he was just a few hours old when he had to

    flee his swampy homeland. His tongue got tied a couple of times trying to pin down the closest pronuniation he could muster. 


    With the syllable pronunciation down, even if he said them wrong. He did not care just so long as he got the gist of what the book

    was trying to convey. He they strung two 'syllables' together and finally was able, well, kind of able, to read a sentence and then a

    paragraph and finally a whole page from the book. He shook his head and tossed the book aside and reached for a book higher up

    on the wooden bookshelf and grabbed for it. He finally extracted it with many mintues of pulling from different angles. He hopped

    down from the shelf and in the aisle that was just big enough for him and maybe a small cat. He cracked open the book and again, a

    plume of dust billowed up from the yellowing pages of the book. 


    Hasir closed the book and looked at the common tongue title, it read "The Greybeard Taboo" in shining silver lettering. Hasir's eyes

    went wide with stunned recognition. His mind ran a million miles a minutes as he itched to read this book but had to stop himself, at

    least momentarily, because he had other questions that needed answering and he thought some of these books held the answers he

    sought. He found another book two books from the one he had just extracted, the binding read "A compendium of dragon priests."

    He stack the heavy, many paged book on the taboo book. He used his enhanced sense of smell he had gained from his wolf blood

    to find the last book. His picked up a smell of shadow about six inches to his left, in the third aisle of bookshelves bordered by



    He followed the scent; he ran past numerous bookshelves, past the raised stone platform at the end of the room and to the

    bookshelf where the scent orirginated from. He reached for the book that was out of reach; he extended his arm as far as it could go

    though not far enough that it became dislocated. He finally grapped the book on the out of reach shelf; and then something

    happened that made him recoil in fear. A shadowy face with red eye flashed back at him. Hasir denied this and quickly reached

    toward the book again and, despite the pain that shot through his hand, like burning electricity, he pulled the cursed book from the


    Hasir tried to put the book on top of the other two books but he could not; the burning electricity kept his hand clamped to the book.

    He heard an impact of fur on metal and heard a 'thump' of something else clattering to the ground. Though waves of pain shot from

    his hand making him grimace, he tried to use his enchance hearing to determine where the ruckus had come from and tried to figure

    out what made that clattering noise. He tried to wiggle the book free from his hand but still his hand was clamped around the book

    against its will. 


    Inigo lay sprawled on the floor near the dropped torch. He gave a squeal of fright as he looked wide eyed at the torch, its flame just

    inches from the carpet he lay near. He scrambled to his feet and, hands shaking, he picked of the torch, almot dropped it and

    fumbled as he set the torch back into its metal bracket. He ran over to Hasir as he heard the long, drawn out cry that made a tear

    come to his feline eye. A few seconds later, the khajiit rounded the corner and among the narrow aisle walled on either side by

    bookshelfs, saw an Argoinia kneeling on the red carpet runner with tears welling in his eyes. This alone broke Inigo's khajiit heart.

    the khajiit walked down the aisle and kneeled beside the argonian and helped him up the stone steps and to one of the chairs

    surrounding the table. The worried khajiit took the chair opposite his friend, wrenched the books for Hasir's grasp and put the in the

    center of the table.


    Inigo did not feel the electricity that plagued the Argonian when he had extracted the book from the shelf. Hasir stared at him mouth


    "Inigo, how did you do that without the book shocking you?" He asked him, drumming his claws on the table


    The khajiit said that he did not know exactly but asked the Argonain why he felt the electric hold of the book,

    "I-I dunno," Hasir stammered, "I was reaching for the book and the next thing I knew, I saw the face of the doomstrider and then I

    felt a sharp pain flow through me. It was as if he was trying to trap my soul." This was met by a concerned look from Inigo as his

    orange eyes bore into Hasir's blue eyes, "What, you didn't feel it?" He asked again, forehead furrowed.


    Again, the khajiit shook his head, making his golden earrrings swayng like they were trees in some fierce wind. He looked

    concernedly again at Hasir,

    "My friend, are you sure you are okay?" He asked Hasir


    Hasir got a little heated and the wolf inside him snapped at Inigo,

    "I'm fine Iningo! By Hircine leave me be, will you? All you do is ask endless questions don't you ever listen?" This sudden outburst of

    anger was met by nothing but the turning of pages as Inigo cracked open the cursed book. He spent the next few hours reading the

    book that, unlike the other books, was transcribed in the coomon language also known as Tamrielic. Hasir's head dropped onto the

    table's wooden surface as his heavy eyelids dropped as he difted off the sleep. Hasir's eyes snapped open as he heard noises outside

    of the room made him look up in fright. He shoved all but the book entitled "The Great Shadow" into his bag because he did not feel

    like feeling that horrible, soul wrenching sensation again. Inigo smiled and nodded knowingly at him and shoved the book in Hasir's

    bag where it lay nestled between the first two books. He caught sight of the windows where the sun reached its spindly fingers

    across the table. Had they been at this all night?  He yawwned widely showing fang-like teeth. They had no time to ruminate on this

    as they knew they had to exit as the final stage of his training was today.

    Hasir and Inigo slipped out of the intricate doors and waited for the place where the doors were to become solid stone wall again,

    completely indistinguishable from the set of doors it had been before. They walked down the steps to the main room and came face

    to face with two lamplike eyes with red pupils,

    "Tiigress, hi, er, nice to see you again." He said nonchalantly as he did his best to hide the doings of last night 


    Tigress folded her arms and her eyes bore into his, forcing Hasir to back up a step,

    "What were you doing last night?" She asked as her eyes bore into his. Hasir noticed she was tapping her foot as if impatiently

    waiting for something, "You know we still have training left to do and here you stand, drenched with sweat as if you did something

    you have choosen not to tell me." Well, care to tell me why you had me frantically looking around the entire monastery for you?

    Even Angeir was worried sick. Now you should not keep him waiting. He is in the courtyard ready to train you in on your final test."



    Hasir narrowed his eye and let out a hiss like an angry cat. Tigress rounded on him, "Don't you hiss at me at me, young hatchling, I

    was not the person who was in a restricted area of the monastery was I? Now get you scaly but up to the courtyard and don't let me

    catch you wandering in off-limits areas agin! Do you hear me? Now go!" She exclaimed pointing toward the double doors. She was

    angrier than she had been in weeks and the voice in her head telling her to get her emotions to be at peace with one another was

    not helping.


    Hasir's head sagged completely with his tail tucking itself between his legs as he slowly walked over to the double doors and opened

    one side of the doors and stepped into the snowy courtyard. Hasir went up to where the greybeard stood waiting for him. Unseen on

    the bench by the door, the form of an elderly Argonian unfolded itself, opened its eyes and sat up to watch. 


    Minutes later, Tigress walked out into the courtyard and Angeir asked her if she was ready to undergo the test, she nodded and he

    repeated the question to Hasir, who also nodded in assent,

    "So, dragonborn you hav fully unlocked the unrelenting force shout but have not yet unlocked the entire whirlwind sprint shout. No

    worries, I will empart my knowledge of it to you." A bluish orange ghost aray of dragon scratches appears several feet in front of

    the aged greybeard and he instructed Hasir to stand inside the pulsating aura; he did so and the orange-blue tendrils filled his body

    and the chanting again sounded.


    Angeir smiled and patted the dragonborn on his shoulder and looked at Tigress,

    "Good, now let's begin the final trial." He gestured the courtyard at a whole. Hasir gasped as he saw one dragon, two dragon priests

    and a giant unknown being made of shadows.



    As they closed in for the kill, the Argonian readied his madness waraxes as the shadow beasts closed the distance. Hasir tossed the

    waraxes aside and pulled his quiver and bow from his bag, slung the quiver over his shoulder and hefted the bow. He knew that he

    could not take on all of the beasts. He came up with the strategy to take the dragon out before moving on to the other creatures. He

    nocked an arrow and fired. The arrow flew toward the beast and bounced off of its scaly hide harmlessly. Hasir reached into his

    leather bag pulled out a book, opened it to the first page and immediately a bluish-orange aura surrounded his Argonian form. His

    eyes slammed shut and saw the words in his mind's eye and felt them as the familiar bluish-orange tendrils filled up his body. He

    took a deep breath.



    A purplish wind broke free from his lips that flew like a bird fleeing from some loud noise and enveloped the dragon; it struggled

    hard against its bonds roaring with pain and not able to take the purple lightning-like pain anymore, it crashed to the ground, kicking

    up bits of snow as it came to a full stop. Hasir looked pleased with himself but could feel waves of heat eminating from the

    greybeard who stood to his left. He did not want to look in his direction. He ran toward the rocky wall and ran up it and flipped off

    of it, nocked an arrow, drew his bow and fired the arrow straight into the dragon's eye which settled into it's brain.


    The dragon roared in pain and then slumped to the ground. an arc of bluish wind rapidly shot from the dragon to the Argonian's

    body, quickly absorbing it but something was wrong-Hasir was blasted backward; the Argonian bounced in the snow and settled

    unmoving in the snow. Tigress and Angier ran to his location and felt his body. His scales were still warm but he did not wake up. 


    Angeir turned and looked at the purplish black dragon with red eyes and shouted three words of power that Tigress had not heard

    before blasted toward the dragon; the beast deflected this easily and it blasted back on the greybeard. Angeir took another deep breath,




    Angier become see though and took on a bluish color. He had to hold the shout inside his mind in order for the shout to stay active.

    Hasir and Tigress gasped as the oncoming deflected shout passed right throug him and dissipated on the wind. The greybeard

    lowered his arms and let the shout slip from his mind and he become solid again.


    Now it was Hasir's turn to show the intruder what he was made of. Hasir got up and grabbed his previously discarded waraxes and

    ran at the dragon who was still roaring in pain from the projectile potruding from it eye, blood pouring from it across its snout and

    painted the snow red.

    The Argonian leapt up onto the beasts head and drove the waraxes deep into its skull, hands held high like an idiot who was about to

    act on pure adrenaline and sliced the dragon down the middle like he was ripping a shirt into two semetrical halves. while the

    dragon soul exited the torn stomach and flew like a bluish wind toward his body filling him up with that warm feeling and he heard

    the familiar chanting in his head. He leapt off of the dragon which was now nothing more than a giant winged skeleton and sheathed

    his waraxes.


    Angeir walked up to him and patted him on the shoulder and smiled,

    "You did got dragonborn, but," He gestured to the dead dragon, "that wasn't the final test."


    Hasir's mouth fell open; not the final test? If not that, then what was it? Hasir could do nothing but stared at Angeir in disbelief as he

    tail thumped in the snow behind him in annoyance. He asked Angeir what his final trial was but all the greybeard said was that he

    will reveal it when the time was right, when was the right time? Hasir's mind was working overtime to solve the riddle.


    He turned and went to leave when he caught a familar Argonian he has not seen in years out of the corner of his eye; he went over

    to her and hugged her. Hasir asked his grandmother how she found him and why she came to see him,

    "Hasir, the reaosn I came to see you is two fold, the first reason is I wanted to warn you of your brother and the silver hand-as well

    as their patron 'god' Molag Bal- is building up an army to rid Tamriel of werewolves-well okay, just Skyrim-but still he is out for



    Hasir looked sidelong at her,

    "What was that other thing you wanted to tell me?"


    Ocheeav scratched her head trying to remember,

    "The other thing? Oh yeah, you have a cousin, is that wonderful?"


    Hasir narrowed his eyes at her while his tail slammed down, causing the snow to be displaced around where tail his tail struck,

    "WHAT? You hid this information from me for years and you chose now to tell me? For the love of...' Hasir had to take a few deep

    breaths to calm himself down even though he was still silently fuming.


    He had no idea that his aunt and uncle much less his grandmother hid this from him for so long. Ocheeva cowered beneath the


    "Yes, H-her name is Khash and she came from Orsinium. She is waiting for you in the sleeping giant inn. That is in Rivewood."


    Hasir lost his temper again and blew up on Ocheeva,

    "I know where the sleeping giant inn is you crazy Argonian." He yelled as he stormed past her into the main hall of the monastery.

     Ocheeva rolled her eyes as he passed and went inside the monastery after the fuming Argonian. Once she stepped into the main

    hall of the monastery she grasped the impudent Argonian by one of his bone spikes and dragged him up the steps to the second

    floor, sat him down hard and took her place beside the Argonian who was busy massaging his bone spike as it hurt terribly due to

    the force she had grabbed it with,

    "By Hircine, Ocheeva, what do you think your doing?" he asked, still massaging his sore bone spike


    Ocheeva turned to him and fixed Hasir with a stare that could make stone walls crumble around them. She gestured to the

    double doors at the end of the main hall,

    "Mind telling me why you were all in a huff and stormed off then?"


    He turned to her and asked why neither she nor Tigress told him that he had a cousin. He had to pause momentarily and tried to

    keep a level head to avoid blowing up on her again. Calmy, he told his grandmother that if she had something on her mind

    she should have just told him and not kept it until the last possible minute. Ocheeva folded her hands on her lap and thought to

    herself who conjured the shadow dragon, surely it wasn't the greybeards? 


    Ocheeva thought of something and beckoned her grandson to follow her. They ran down the stair and up another set. They walked

    slowly past the solid wall were he had seen the secret library. Ocheeva and Hasir screwed their faces up in thought. How did he and

    Inigo get into the library last time? He did not know. After a few minutes of trial and error, they sat on either side of the door and

    looked rather disheartened. What if the library was not there any longer? What if the greybeards knew that it was he who found the

    place meant to be kept secret?


    All of a sudden the membranes over holes in his head that served as ears expanded so that a loud rumbling of shifting stones could

    be heard as well as the sound of nodric designs rotating into place. When the sound had ceased, the Argonians turned into the place

    where moments before there had been a solid stone wall. Ocheeva gasped in awe at this but Hasir smirked in bemusement and put a

    clawed hand on the blue-grey stone door and pushed.   

    Ocheeva stood stock still, her mind too befuddled by the sensory overload. Hasir smelled the familiar scent of books and felt like he

    was back iin his happy place, well, after cooking that is. Her turned to Ocheeva and asked where they were there. She said that she

    wanted to know where the purple and black dragon came from. Hasir nodded thinking he understood and then promptly shook it. He

    hadn't the foggiest of what she meant.


    Ocheeva split off from Hasir who had settled into a wooden chair by the door and was busy walking down each aisle looking at each

    of the books and shaking her head at each bookshelf in turn. She walked up the spiral stone stairs and to the second level situated

    high above the first floor. From this vantage point she could see the tops of grey stone bookshelves and long red carpets running

    along the aisles. She smiled warmly as she saw Hasir who was humming softly to himself. She momentarily forgot the reason she

    came up here then she remembered. She walked underneath a sign that read Daedra and Dark Dealings and walked down the red

    runnered stone aisle walled with black bookshelves with books bound in black fabric with titles scribbled in orange ink as through

    they were written with the very fires of Oblivion. 


    When she neared the end of the aisle a book caught her eye. It was wrapped with dark blue fabric with dark blue, almost purple,

    on the binding that read The Dreamstride. She extracted it and stuffed it into her leather bag she had set at the foot of the bookshelf

    and strode back the way she had come. Hasir got up as the elderly Argonian approached him, her tail swaying happily as she

    walked. Ocheeva finally reached the spot where her grandson stood, his tail swayed back and forth like hers and exited the library

    and entered the main room of the monastery.


    Hasir abruptly grabbed the aged Argonian by the arm and spun her around,

    "Why did you drag me to the library? What did that prove?" He spat at her


    Ocheeva tore her arm from his grip and rummaged into her bag now slung over her shoulder and extracted the dark blue book

    from it and handed it to him. He looked at the book perplexedly and waved it in front of her face, asking her was the book was for.

    She told him, rather airily to try opening it. He did as she asked and opened it. Immediately a realm of bright purple assaulted his

    eyes. He slammed the book shut and, again, asked his grandmother what she was insinuating.


    She whacked him over the head with her leather bag,

    "You stubborn reptile, don't you ever use your brain?" She asked, scowling at him


    Hasir's went red in the face and his tail slid between his legs,

    "Erm, I use my brain, but-" He started but Ocheeva scoffed at him


    She started assaulting him with her bag again,

    "You stupid hatchling! It was a rhetoricle question, you know a question that does not warrant a direct response." She said angirly as

    she spotted Hasir's confused look. She raised her hands in exasberation, shaking her head.

    Hasir hissed and said he knew what a rhetoricle question was. Ocheeva grabbed him and told him that the realm was called the

    Quagmire or the dreamstride to the layperson. Hasir hissed soflty at her and strode past him and toward were Inigo sat.


    The khajiit turned to him,

    "So my friend how did your trial go?" He asked, a furry eyebrow raised


    Hasir shook his head and waved a dismissive hand,

    "I didn't have my test, but, instead I saw a purple and black dragon" He did not know where the dragon calm from. Inigo shifted in

    his seat as if this wa mildly interesting. Inigo requested the book and Hasir handed it over. Inigo cracked the book open with a black

    clawed hand and upon seeing the picture on the inside cover and began teetering on the bench trying not to fall of. Inigo failed to

    find his center of gravity and fell off the bench and accidentally sat on the book.


    Hasir shook his head looking livid, bent down and picked up the book, he frowned as his clawed finger traced along a large crack that

    formed in the middle of the book. Inigo gulped loudly and the mad Argonian rounded on him, eyes glowing with the fires of Oblivion,


    Inigo backed into a wall adjacent to the bench as Hasir advanced on him eyes narrowed. The scared khajiit began whimpering softly

    and covered his face as he thought Hasir would hit him. He did something far worse than that, he wounded the khajiit emotionally,

    "You clumsy fool, you cracked the book, I thoughr you were more competent than this." He shook his head, "I guess I was wrong. I

    hate to break it to you but I only travel with companions who are either bright minded or at least THINK before doing something. I

    am sorry Ingo, but, maybe we should part ways."


    Inigo looked utterly terrifed at this sentence that dripped with malice,

    "N-N-No, please, I can change, I know I can. I-I can do better if that is what you want. Please do not send me away. I have no

    where else to go-except for my cel-but, erm, I'd rather not go back there. I thought we were friends."


    Hasir blanked Ingo's pleas of apology all the way down the corridor as he and the unseen khajiit, or at the very least he wanted him

    to remain unseen in case he did something he might later regret and entered the room he was offfered at the monastery. Inigo

    strode over to the bed that was 'his' and sat down on it working hard to not let Hasir know tears were pouring from his eyes into his

    black furred armor. His tail even resisted the urge to flit around happily, it lay stretched out behind him on one of the many furs that

    lay on the bed. 


    Hasir floppped onto his bed without so much as a word to Inigo, who continued holding back tears. The book, which was being

    uncerimoniously clamped between his right arm and his side, fell with a muffled thud on the wolf fur that lay upon the straw filled

    mattress and fell open, Hasir conjured a small ball of light that hovered inches above the book. This was the only light in the dimly lit

    room and highlighted the large crack that spread sideways through the binding of the open book. 


    Hasir turned at Inigo, wrinkled his snout and hissed loudly at him,

    "You stupid landstrider, don't you dare break anything else that isn't yours. You are a worthless sack of kwama dung! HSSSSS!"

    Inigo lay face down on his bed, folded his arms and the dam broke producing floods which flowed from his eyes and soaked his

    furred arms which soaked up the water like a sponge. Hasir did not take notice of this as he was too busy pouring over the book to

    even look back at the khajiit or even care if he was alright. All he seemed to care about at this current time was figuring out who

    sent that dragon. Just then, Hasir heard a voice inside his head telling him to rethink his actions and to not send the only friend he

    has ever known away.


    The voice was that his Quinchal, his grandfather, they was always his moral compass-besides Ingo-when he started to lose control

    of his emotions,

    "Hasir, do not let your soul be overpowered by Yin; let them both shine in equal parts and then, and only then, can you see the

    beauty of the whole symbol."


    Hasir screwed his face up in thought,

    "...but grandfather how do I do that?"


    The voice came back bigger than before and somewhat colder too,

    "The river does not ask the heavens which way it should flow. Figure it out."

    The Argonian got up, strode over to the distraught Khajiit's bed and, patting him on the shoulder, said he was sorry for the mean

    and hurtful things he said. Inigo got up, smiled broadly and hugged him.