C.O.T.W Chapter 82: Predator and Prey

  • Hasir scratched his head; more bewildered than ever. He turned to Tosh Raka and asked why he masqueraded as a serpentine

    dragon.

     

    The Akaviri dragon surveyed the Argonian with his big yellow eyes and told him that he, Hasir, had a long road if he wanted to regain

    his proper bipedal werewolf form and even longer should he wish to stop Molag Bal's plan to destroy Hircine's children.

     

    Hasir eyed him warily as he tried to figure out what these trials might be,

    "Tosh, er, I already had to undergo trials to become a dragonknight. Isn't that enough? I mean, what more do you people want from

    me?" He asked waspishly

     

    The akaviri dragon could feel his anger bubbling up inside of him like a boiling pot but managed to keep his composure as he told the

    Argonian that this set of trials involved no flaming rocks or earthen shields. He said it involved more of his mastery over his

    ocassional tendency to be hot-tempered.

     

    Hasir glowered at the dragon; not liking to be classed hot tempered by, of all creatures, a dragon.

    "I am not hot tempered!" He snapped. He tried to calm down but to no avail, "besides that, er, what are the trials I am to be

    undertaking?" This time, he did manage to calm down, locking the destructive emotion in the same cage as his wolf. 

    Tosh Raka took flight fron the stone wall that formed the bulwark and swooping down toward the Argonian and Khajjit; not phazing

    Hasir in the slightest but Inigo give a shriek of fright as the huge downdraft created by the dragon's wings almost flung Inigo

    backward into the water, that is if Hasir hadn't flung an arm at the last moment.

     

    The akaviri dragon landed on the wooden post of the dock just a few inches from where Hasir stood. 

    "I appreciate you controlling your temper." He said, "erm... the first trial involves the use of your keen eyesight and adequate

    tracking expertise."

     

    Hasir's brow furrowed, not wanting to give Tosh Raka the satisfaction of needling him for his lack of tracking experience, finally

    conceided and told him anyway,

    "But I don't have any tracking experience. He muttered, "I can't even track Inigo's tail when he chases it." 

     

    Tosh Raka chortled heartily at this and told the Argonian that one of the other inhabitants on Solstheim would most likely teach him.

     

    The akaviri dragon opened his bearded mouth to say more but Kassamae called out,

    "Hasir, I know I am blind but I can help you in other ways," She said walking toward her son, "are you aware that, er, people who

    are visually impaired can hear and smell five maybe ten times better than they would if they had all their senses unblemished?"

    Hasir considered this and shook his head; asking what this had to do with his tracking training.

     

    Kassamae beamed at him and laughed, obviously amused at Hasir's astonishing stupidity,

    "Hasir, Hasir," She said shaking her head, "this has everything to do with your training. I was just offering preamble so as to lead

    into my tale more effectively. If you help me with my little Telvanni problem then I'll help you with whatever you wish," She eyed

    Hasir suspiciously, "yes, even help with your training."

    Hasir thought on this and nodded. He thanked Tosh Raka, who nodded and flew off toward an icy path far to the north-east of the

    village. He, Inigo and Kassamae left the dock along with the city and into the wilderness of Solstheim proper.

     

    When they were outside of the city gates, Kassamae held up a hand,

    "There is a sttrange scent on the air," She turned to Hasir and nodded grimly, "we'll have to continue this journey on four legs. Our

    wolf forms may have diminished visions, but their noses will, I think, lead us right."

     

    Hasir held up a hand to stop her and shook his head;pointing to the wolf-headed ring glued to his finger and told her that she is free

    to transform whenever she wishes be for him, his soul is bound to an uunpredictable curse that Hircine place on the ring for

    punishment for the Argonians brash actions and cannot transform at will so if he attacks Kassamae, to blame the ring's magic and

    not himm. Kassamae nodded, transformed into a beautiful snowy wolf with blazing eyes bright as the sun.

     

     

    She ran alongside Hasir as he walked toward the tower. They manuveured through the undulating hills and fields that blanketed the

    island like it was covered in a ton of thinly stretched cotton.

     

    Hasir gave a grunt of pain as he transformed and lunged at Terra without provocation. Terra stopped in her tracks; not wanting to

    fight him because deep in her canine mind she knew he was not in his right mind. It was all this ring's doing. She knew that Twilight

    would never turn feral on his own. Terra padded over to her cursed son and went to nuzzle his snout when her nose but he growled a

    long, singular note of warning, forcing her to recoil a bit. Twilight snarled at her and lunged; The white wolf dodge rolled to the side,

    making Twilght slammed headfirst into a snow bank.

     

    She hoped this would break the curse that held Hasir in its grip. Far from it, however, as Twilight shook the momentary

    disorieentation off and rrenewed his attack. Terra saw the ring gleaming in the sunlight on his left paw and, using her powerful back

    legs sprang for it. Twilight saw this and dodged out of her way as he thought, in his forced wolf state, that she was attacking him;

    which was not the case.

     

    The white wolf circled the yin yang wolf as two dog squaring each other up before play. Terra saw an opening and took it. She leapt

    at Twilight's paw again; trying to remove the ring. It did not budge but stayed where it was. Terra fumed on this for several minutes,

    trying to think on what evil force could cause the ring to be bound to Hasir's soul; so much so that it was irremovable.

     

    Around midday, Kassamae and Hasir, now in their reptilian forms once more, saw Tel Mithryn sitting on a rock cliff that fell away to a

    valley far below. A large tree ramp strecched out to meet them like a long lost friend, he glanced left and right from the main

    mushroom tower and gestureed to the two outshoots on other sides of the ramp,

     

    Kassamae read his mind as she sniggered behined her hand,

    "Do you not know? Oh, of course you don't, how stupid of me." She said, her tail swishing silently behind her

     

    Hasir scowled at her apparent dig at his intelligence,

    "Kasssamae, ssstop undermining my intelligence and tell me for Hircine's sake!" He shot back angrily

     

    The female Argonian gestured in one direction and then the other,

    "Hasir, I did not mean to undermine-" Hasir looked at her as if being called stupid was the least of his worries and bade her to

    continue. Kassamae took a deep breath, "On the left is the apothecary and on the right is the Tel Mithryn kitchens."

     

    Hasir screwed his face up at this and asked what an apothecary is. Kasssamae gasped as if she had been shot by a crossbow bolt,

    "You do not, er, sorry," She said, eyes downcast. "An apothecary is, erm... for want of a better word, a... person who studies the art 

    of herbology and uses that knowledge to treat village inhabitants of illnesses that are unknown to anyone by the most learned

    practitioners of that magical art."

    Hasir's face brightened as a question occured to him,

    "Does, er, this person know of a way to remove this cursse on me?" He asked

     

    Kassamae stared at him, eyes wide. She was shocked that he would even think of curing his lycanthropy; she'd thought he veiwed it

    as a blessing, never a curse like her daughter, K'hairi did. Hasir heard this a barked a laugh; saying that he wanted to lift the curse

    that the wretched ring bound to him not his lycanthropy. He turned to the female Argonian gestured to the main tower and told her

    to go about her business while he said he was going to head straight for the small housepod situated to the left; decorated in brown

    and yellow stones, same as the tower. Hasir waved and bade Kassamae good luck as he saw her walk up the long, winding ramp to

    the main tower.

     

    He turned, walked up the brown, tree branch-like steps, put a clawed hand on the curved door handle and pushed. An impressive

    sight met his eyes. On a table to his left was a table fullvarious ingredients in jars of various shapes and sizes and potions sitting on

    it. A woman Hasir guessed to be the apothecary that tends to the tower's, and Neloth's needs. Hasir glanced around the round

    housepod and saw the woman walking around the housepod, obviously pondering something. 

     

    Hasir tore his eyes away from the table with the potions and ingredients that he'd found his eyes inexorably drawn to as a warm

    hand lightly gripped the Argonian's shoulder. He gasped and spun around to face her,

    "What in Oblivion, what are you-?" He began but she shook her head, warning him not to let Neloth know of their locaton.

     

     

    Hasir's face screwed up in confusion; he had no idea what Elynea was going on about,

    "Master Neloth, what do this have to do with him? The reason I came here has nothing to do with the Telvanni but instead on my

    cursse state." He said, holding up the ring of Hircine for clarification.

    The woman's shoulders slumped; hating herself for jumping to the wrong conclusion,

    "You-You're not? Well, what are you here for then?" She asked

     

    Realizing she had not introduced herself properly, she offered Hasir her hand and smilied, "Where are my manners? My name is

    Elynea Mothren. I am the apothecary here at Tel Mithryn. I help master Neloth with whatever he requires." She said, smiling

    sheepishly "I, er, apologize for, er, jumping to the wrong conclusion; I thought you were in league with that Argonian who wanted to

    unseat the other Argonian, Sun-In-Shadows, the one who works in the tower, for ignoring her roots and not helping a fellow 

    Argonian."

     

    Hasir grabbed her hand and shook it; Elynea screamed as his hand became black and more lupine. She looked up from the paw and

    saw the Argonian's face morph into something more sinister than it was initially. Elynea scurried backwards fast as possible to avoid

    being eaten by the snarling beast staring her square in the eyes. Elynea ran for the door, all the while dodging Twilight's ferociously

    snapping maw, and tried to open it.

     

    Twilight saw this out of the corner of his eye, growled in anger that his meal was trying to escape and chased Elynea around the

    small housepod; smashing bottles and jars as he tried to get a taste of the juicy morsel that was trying to elude him. 

     

    Elynea saw the wolf stop momentarily as if dazed. She'd guessed that the wolf had breathed some ingredients in or stepped in some

    potion that somehow inhibited his abilty to move or even think on his current malicious objective. Elynea stopped panicking and

    walked over to the seemingly incapacitated wolf. Twilight lunged at her as she got in reach. She closed her eyes as she feared the

    worst but she felt a clawed hand, not of a wolf, but of an Argonian reached out a graps herr arm.

     

    She opened her eye and saw Hasir's blue eyes staring back at her, beads of sweat dancing on his forehead. He swung his legs over

    the table's edge, got up and walked over to dunmer.

    "Erm... sorry about that," He said, rubbing his neck sheepishly, "this ring I... I wanted to talk to your about how to go about

    removing it and... if it is at all possible." 

    Elynea nodded slowly as if trying to comprehend what she had just seen. She failed at this spectacularly and resigned herself to the

    fact that what she'd seen was in fact real and proceeded to answer Hasir's question,

    "I don't know that, sorry," Hasir's tail went limp as he turned from her, ""Don't get your tail in a knot, I do know of an Argonian who

    can help you with your affliction."

     

    The Argonian turned to her, sneering maliciously,

    "Who? Sun-In-Shadows? She will never help, all she cares about is saving her boyfriend, she cares nothing for a former Argonian

    slave." He resigned himself to his fate once more

     

    Elynea shook her head, shocked that Hasir hadn't caught the true meaning of what she had said,

    "No, not Sun-In-Shadows," She said, giggling, "You really are thcik, aren't you. The Argonian I speak of resides in the region of

    Blackmarsh. His name is Pekk-shah. He is a shaman in the root-whisperer's village found deep in the swamps."

     

    Hasir groaned at this; he'd thought that Elynea would've told him that the dragon Tosh Raka or his mother could lift the curse put

    upon him, but, never in a million moons would he have imagined he would've had to go to Blackmarsh. He put this rather

    disconceritng thought out of his mind, for the time being, and asking Elynea instead if she has something to help him manage his

    emotions.

     

    The dark elf glanced at him while she grabbed a mop and began mopping up the mess that his wolf had made minutes before,

    "Erm... sorry, I mean I have lots of potion and ingredients, even less so since you smashed nearly half of them but I have nothing

    that will help you control your temper, that... you will have to manage on your own."

     

    Hasir's tail hung limp as a dead snake as he thanked Elynea for trying and left the hut, going in the direction of the icy pass that

    Tosh Raka told him about. He walked until he saw brown huts and lattices that stood out in the snowy landscape like flies on a pile of

    dung. 

    Around midday, he arrived at Moesring Pass where he found Tosh Raka perched on a huge rock, waiting for him. The Argonian asked

    the dragon why he was summoned here and when he will start his tracking training. Tosh Raka raised a wing to silence him; saying

    that all will be made clear in due time. Hasir huffed loudly and sat down in the snow, tail curled tightly around his body.

     

    Tosh eyed Hasir with immense incredulity. He did not knew Argonians could be so bend out of shapeabout even the smallest upset,

    "Hasir, these things take time, I'm, er, sure you understand." Hasir did not respond but remained silent with his back to the dragon.

    Tosh manuvuered around the rocky cliffs that half enclosed the snowy area so that he could see Hasir's eyes, "Will you listen to me

    for a second? I am trying to tell you about your trial for crying out loud." 

     

    Hasir begrudgingly got to his feet and, despite his temper teetering on the edge of Oblivion, he listened the best he could,

    "That's much better," Tosh said smiling, "Your trial is simply, I shall fly ahead to a predetermined lcation, known only to me. You job

    is to track me down using only your wits, sense of smell and direction. When you find me, your next trial with commence."

     

    With that last word uttered, he took to the sky. Hasir gasped as he glanced over the icy mountains to see Tosh Raka gracefully

    soared over a forest of trees split only by a narrow path between them. Hasir gasped as he saw the entire forest was fashioned in a

    similar manner. He caught sight of a blind Argonian walking towards him; as she began to ascend the path, Hasir ran to her aid. He

    was confused why she was here. His eyes went wide as he saw she was alone. The male Argonian was surprised to see Inigo

    not tailing her. As Kassamae came closer to him, he asked her where the smart blue cat was.

     

    She pointed to a point five or six feet behind her and said Inigo should be along shortly. Sure enough, as Kassamae said this, Inigo

    came hurrying up the path, completely out of breath and fur matted with snow. Hasir turned to Inigo and inquired to why he was in

    such a state.

     

    Inigo eyed Hasir with a look of revulsion on his face,,

    "Well, where to start? Erm... Kassamae and I, we, er..." His voice tailed away pathetically as he dared not speak of the dastardly

    things he witnessed in the Telvanni tower. Kassamae elbowed his in the ribs, saying he should stop be a scaredy khajiit and tell the

    story. The blue khajiit shook his head, "No, you damn lizard, you tell the tale, I am too afraid, even my flea are frightened."

    Kassamae rolled her eyes at this apparent act of cowardice, Inigo you are such a little kitten sometimes, do you know that? You need

    to grow some thicker fur." She thudered back at him. Inigo glared at her, Well, at least I saw what happened in there, you can't she

    shit with your useless pearls."

     

    Kassamae scoffed at this and crossed her arms,

    "Well, at least I was not mistaken for an archery target. Mr. one eye."

     

    Inigo snarled at her; angry that she woulkd call out his half-blindedness,

    "Well, maybe we can fix that mouth of yours so that it becomes as useless as you eyes."

     

    He gestured to Hasir, hoping he would settle to 'argument' they were having

    "Maybe my friend needs to sew you up with his flaming stitches."  

     

    Hasir ran between his friend and his mother, holding them an arms length apart,

    "Inigo, you and Kassamae apologize, now!" Kassamae and Inigo stuck their tongues out at each other; the Argonian huffed in

    impatience. He grabbed the impertinent khajiit by the ear and pulled him toward we the Argonian stood, Inigo, that was not nice and

    you know it, and please, do not use my abilities as a threat, if you do that again then I'll be forced to venture on without you." He

    glared at his mother, "same goes for you too Kassamae, now kiss and makeup before I make good on my promise."

     

    Kassamae stuck her tongue out and him while giving him a reproachful look,

    "Fine I will make up but I am not kissing anybody, least of all, a stinky cat."

     

    "Hey, I heard that, I am not deaf you blind as a bat Argonian!" He thundered back, "I am not keen on the idea of kissing your scaly

    skin either but Hasir is right, if we are to get on with his training we have to stop bickering and work together."

    Kassamae let her guard down somewhat but not all the way. She turned to face Hasir with hands on her hips,

    "Who died and made you head of this family?"

     

    Hasir snarled at her and replied,

    "Your dead husband did right before my rage killed him," He smiled slyly and then added, "Of which I take absolutely no

    responsibility for. It's was my wolf's doing not mine."

     

    You liar, you killed him in cold blood, don't hand me some bullshit about your wolf doing it." She said scathingly. Hasir could feel a

    chill running down his spine that had nothing to do with the actual cold air swirling around them. "Admit it you killed him. Your wolf

    had nothing to do with it." She was still beyond furious with her son for ending  Istansehk's life in front of her and would probably

    never forgive Hasir.

     

    Hasir shook his head for a few seconds,

    "Whoa, hey, don't count your hatchlings before they become of age, I was only defending myself, what would you do if you were

    accosted by a mad Argonian?"

     

    She turn to see he nonchalantly leaning against the base of a nearby upthrust of rock,

    "I'll showe you mad Argonian," She said as she looked at Hasir sternly

     

    Her hands began to glow as if the entire earth, or atleast the insect population, was began called to her palms and, sure enough,

    tiny insects began to pop out of the ground and mingle with the green magic swirling about her fingers. Iniigo saw this, walked

    behind Kassamae, place a hand on her shoulder and shook his head,

    "Kassamae, before you cast the spell, ask yourself 'is it really worth getting mad over the past'?" 

     

    Kassamae ignored this sagely advice and cast anyway. Inigo siighed in defeat as he witnessed two steady streams of insects hurtling

    toward the male Argonian like four arrows being simultaneously released from the same bow. Inigo thought his scaly friend was

    donefor when Hasir called up a shield made of the same stones as Red Mountain and heard numerous thuds as the many insects

    splatted against the hardened surface.

     

    Inigo tried to keep his composure and let them fight this out but he knew this would esculate to fisticuffs, or worse, violent

    swordplay, sooner or later.

    "Stop my friends, what are you doing? You should be help each other not trying to tear each other apart like a pack of rabid wolves.

    Remember the good time you guys shared not the bad, throw all of that negativity away." He walked to a more ideal position so he

    could see both Hasir and Kassamae, "Kassamae look into Hasir's eyes, do you still not see the hatchling he once was?" 

     

    Kassamae grunted and gestuered to the shield around her son,

    "Inigo are you blind? I cannot see his eyes because he still has his damn shield up."

     

    Inigo positively fumed. He'd thought they were passed petty namecalling and insults by now. The blue khajiit clenched his fists to

    stop himself from lashing out,

    "I was being methaphorical, you stupid lizard!" He hissed through clenched teeth, "anyway, think back to the past, you wouldn't dare

    hurt him back then would you?" He walked over to the ingeous shell containing the furious Argonian, I would hazard a guess that if

    Hasir thought way back, he would not've hurt you either, would he?" Inigo looked at Kassamae with kind eyes and an equally kind

    smile, "Now, why don't you bring those positive memories to the surface and forgive your son, as he said, killing your husband

    wasn't his fault."

     

    Kassamae's face changed from one of ferocity to one of defeat the glow around her hands died away and she was happy Hasir

    smiling, if what Argonian do could be called that, as the defensive rocky shell disipated around him. She rushed to her son and

    hugged him. 

     

    Inigo patted Kassamae on the shoulder and smiled,

    "Feeling better?" She nodded, "good, now let's get this tracking trial over with."

     

    Inigo's hand dropped from her shoulder as, unseen by her, drew a circle in midair as his arm moved seemingly of its own accord. A

    bluish black portal appeared out of nowhere and Inigo stepped through it, his eyes blood red. The portal opened onto a vast desert,

    a short wasy from the desert, Inigo saw, was a tiny bizaar and near that was a huge skeletal ribcage.

    Inigo came into his head again as he glanced left and right,

    "Erm... where in Oblivion are we?" He asked, scratching his head confusedly

     

    In response, his mouth curved into an evil grin,

    "You stupid moron, are you thick, look around, does this look like Nirn to you? Of course not! You now stand in a realm of Oblivion

    that is a... well, let's say it is a marketplace... of sorts." Inigo asked if this place was abandoned, given the vast expanse of desert.

    The Doomstrider laughed, "Does this look abandoned to you?" His face softened somewhat, "Er, sorry about that, we are, er, in a

    marketplace that is rife with all manner of irreputable and shady characters. Go further and you will soon find out where you've

    found yourself."

     

    Inigo walked a short way to a light borwn door that stood in the middle of a high grey stone wall as if it were more at home

    belonging to a castle than a crossroads city in the realm of Oblivion.. Inigo gasped with delight as he saw this. His eyes gazed

    skyward as he saw similarly decorated houses with grey stone platforms connected by three tiers of many brown bridges with long

    white banners hanging from them like some laudry long since forgotten. He opened the door and went inside. The doomstrider told

    the awestruck khajiit what this place was,

    "Khajiit, I will soon tell you the name of this place but first we must seek out a person named Madam Whim; she has some

    information we might find... invaluable in our quest for supremacy."

     

    Inigo shook his head, not wanting any part of the madness. He shuggred this off as he would just humor the doomstrider and

    asked what this pace was,

    "Khajiit, you stand now in an ancient realm... a black market that connects many realms of Oblivion. This..." He said gesturing

    toward the city, "is Fargrave"