C.O.T.W Chapter 84: Base Instinct

  • Hasir gulped as he faced the trees that cast the forest before him in shadow and began to walk down the hills with Inigo and

    Kassamae in tow. He did not know the first thing about tracking or even how to begin this arduous trial.


    Kassamae came up from behind him, sense her son's trepidation and put a caring hand on his shoulderm

    "Feeling nervous?" She asked as she could hear his racing heart and smell his heightened blood pressure, "Don't worry, you will be

    find."" She shrugged and gave Hasir was she hoped to be a warm smile, "Your father and I had to do this in order to become

    shadowscales before we served Black Marsh. I am sure you will do fine, that is if you don't let your nerves get the best of you." She

    said with a slight chuckle.


    Hasir shot her a look that would've soured hist sap,

    "I am not a shadowscale, I am a dragonknight," He said angrily


    Kassamae gawked at Hasir,

    "Excuse me, I am a bit deaf in this ear," She said, gesturing to her left ear, "Can you speak up?"


    Hasir scoffed at her and raised his voice almost to a shout,

    "You are not deaf...hsss, maybe blind as a bat, but not deaf." He said, circling her and jeering at her, "I'm...a...dragon...knight. Get

    it?" Kassamae nodded, more wishing to sate the volcano that was Hasir's temper than anything. "Can't you even comprehend that

    one of your 'precious' sons wants to break hold of your mind slavery and actually wants to be something different?"


    Kassamae crossed her arms and scoffed,

    "Oh Hasir, we had high hopes for you. Hopes for you to continue our ancestors' lineage, alas," She said, shaking her head, "There is

    always a bad seed that sours when set into the ground, a sour apple that spoils the bushel." She sighed heavily, "We, Itansehk and

    I, hoped to give you over to the tsaesci of Akavir so that you might train in the way of the shadowscale," Her face darkened, mouth

    formed into a snarl, "but instead, Quinchal betrayed us."

    Hasir unsheathed his fire whip and raked it along the tree trunk, not knowing or caring it was actually burning through it,

    "Quinchal... betray you? Ha," He said with a short bark. The whip drew ever closer, so much so that Kassamae could feel the heat

    like a million fireballs, "Quinchal helped me me find me own way instead of following whatever 'path' you had for me!" He spat at the

    ground near his mother, "Your fucking husband was surprised as well that I was not 'the good little Saxhleel' that he'd imagined,

    surprised that I diverted from the preordained path." He said, gripping the whip fiercely, ignoring Kassamae's whimpers of fear.


    Kassamae suggested they get on with the Argonian's trial before he does something he might regret. The intense fire died behind his

    eyes somewhat, but did not quite extinguish. Kassamae knelt down in the snow and prayed to Kynareth to stay Hasi'r hand and quel

    his temper just long enough to have him complete his trail. A swift, silent wind blew through the trees. Kassamae wasn't sure if the

    goddess had heard her, but she took the sign nonetheless. 


    Kassamae looked around to see a woman in a green dress smiling a her,

    "Do not let your son's attitude get you down, my daughter, you have a task to perform, train Hasir how to track my creature, teach

    him how to smell my air, feel my trees, only then will my winds guide him to victory."


    Kassamae nodded and still smiling, the goddess evaporated into thin air. Kassamae walked over to where Hasir leaned against a tree,

    "Hasir... er, want to put this behind us?" She was surprised to see the Argonian smile, "Sure why not, odds are I'll fall miserably, but,

    I suppose I'll give it a go."

    Kassamae patted him on the shoudler,

    "Good, good, well, let's get to it then, close your eyes."


    Hasir did not know what in Oblivion this had to do with learn tracking, but he acknowledged her all the same. Kassamae wrapped a

    double layer of wisp wrappings about Hasir's eyes. Kassamae walked Hasir, now blindfolded, into the center of the forest, where the

    sparest light shone through the canopy of the trees, reaching the ground with just enough light for Kassamae to see by. Kassamae

    unwrapped the wrapping that lay around his eyes and ran back to where she had come faster than a mountain lion. 


    Hasir opened his eyes; seeing nothing but a vast sea of brown and green with sprinkles of light overheard. The Argonian could smell

    new scents and hear new sounds than he could before. The wolf's senses erupted forth from him like a strong lava that flowed from

    the red mountain.


    Hasir crouched down, closed his eyes and felt the familar sensation of fly over the ground; he knew he had to find his destation, he

    could taste it, smell it... until the image came crashing down like a stack of old kwama shells. Hasir was knocked backward into an

    aspen and slid down it, landing with a thud on the hard, snowy floor. Hasir tried the ability again, and again, he found himself

    slammed against the same aspen. He did not understand it, the ability had worked for him before, when he searched for the empty

    husk of his feline friend. Why could it not work now? did he lose the ability? Was there a special forcefield surrounding the forest that

    dispelled magic? Perhaps Tosh Raka is skilled at the magical arts?" A million thoughts, each one as unlikely as the last, ran through

    his mind like cliffracers as he got painfully to his feet.


    Hasir knew he had to walk through the forest, relying on his tracking skills-something he had little experience in-to get him safely

    through the forest to the temple Tosh Raka told him about. He began to lose hope of dredging up his rather unimpressive tracking

    skill buried deep in the recesses of his Argonian mind when a familiar voice rang out,

    "Hasir, remember, close your eyes and rely on your other senses, trying to visualize the skills in your mind before attempting them."

    Hasir screwed his face up at this, quickly dismissed it as having imagined it and, turning around, found Kassamae staring at him with

    her milky white eyes. The male Argonian nealry fell over as the sight of his mother standing there caught him by surprise; he

    thought she was already at the temple,

    "Kassamae, you scared me." He said, "I thought you'd be already at the temple." 


    Kassamae shook her head. Hasir screwed his face up more with this seemingly odd gesture. She took a deep breath and explained,

    "No, Hasir, I heard your voice on the Kynareth's winds, I followed that message and met you here."


    She smiled as she touched the tree near her with long, clawed fingers. Hasir looked utterly nonplused; he didn't say anything, so

    how could Kassamae her his 'voice' on the wind? He let this thought drift away on the sea of thoughts as a new thought formed,

    "You said 'try to visual the skills' how do I do that?"


    Kassamae smiled and spread her arms, as if to tell him some great tale,

    "Patience, Haisr, you must first let your breath slow, only then will all become clear. Slow your breath naturally and do not force it to

    slow down. Only when you slow your breathing naturally will the visions finally come to you like flesh flies to dung. If you force the

    matter, the forest will not yeild its secrets." She roared with laughter as she watched Hasir's face go as blue as the mountain flowers

    growing in the forest; or they would have, had the entire forest not be blanketed with a sheet of snow.


    She put a caring hand on his shoulder, giving him a disapproving glare, telling Hasir to relax. He did ask she asked and his face

    stopped looked like blueberry that was about to burst. She told him, again, to slow his breath and that by doing so, the spirits of the

    forest will concede to him. He only had to reach back in his mind.


    He tried numerous times to bring forth the symbols, but nothing came. Kassamae hung her head in disappoinment,

    "I suppose you don't have the tracking instinct that most Saxhleel have, pity." She said, sighing, "Well, I suppose I'll have to teach


     She told him once again to close his eyes; earning a sharp glare from her son. He did not see why something that hasn't worked for

    him would work now; was his mother going to really train him or was she just yanking his tail? He didn't know but he closed his eyes



    Kassamae walked to the rear of the apine tree and prayed to Kynareth to commune with the hist of Black Marsh,

    "Mother of nature, stretch your branches, feel the visions of the hist, envelope them so you can see into the minds of our ancestors;

    grant my son the visions required to learn how to track movement of all Nirn's flora and fauna."


    All of a sudden, Kassamae's body went limp with her hand still on the rough bark, a strange voice emanated from her lips,

    "Argonian, how can I commune with that which I did not make? The hist existed long before I ever set foot onto the realm of

    Mundus. If you seek answers, however, I can transport you to Bllackmarsh myself and you can converse with the beings known as

    the hist yourself."


    Kassamae's mind flew over the snowy lands, the mountains of Skyrim and the swamps of Blackwood before finally settling on a city

    in the middle of a continent situated east of the region of Blackwood. Kassamae's body shifted as if in a rather violent dream and her

    mind flew a bit north of the central village with its bamboo ramps leading to huts situated on stilts to a small tribal village. Still

    Unconscious, large trees with thick, knobbily limbs and a broad trunk, broad as a man's torso, rose up on the edges of the tribal



    The Argonian inched closer to the trees, beckoned by otherwordly voices, These must be the voices of our ancestors Kassamae

    thought as she reached out an empty hand to grasp the knotted bark of the tree. The nature goddess smirked with delight as

    strange visions same before the Argonian's eyes, fogging her mind and filling her senses. She could also hear the ancient Saxheel

    distorted voices as if coming from somewhere in the marsh below her. Kassamae tried hard to discern what they were saying but all

    she could see, all she could comprehend was a swirling vortex of images racing through her mind.

    The cascade of confusing images flashged behind Kassamae's eyes like objects through a kaleidoscope lense. This went on for

    minutes until the images stopped and formed themselves in a shape her mind could comprehend; she thought Kynareth was toying

    with her up until this point. The images formed a reptilian face that Kassamae recognized.


    Tears welled up in the female Argonian's eye like a faucet with a faulty shut-off valve,

    "By the hist..." She said, in disbelief, "Ishtansehk, is that you?" "By mud as my mother, the hist have brought us together, but... how

    can this be? I have not yet passed into the inner matrix of the hist. I have not, err, felt the knife pierce my scales, spilling life blood,

    I have not..."


    The scaly head smiled widely at his living wife; a tear dancing at the edge of his eye like a water droplet that hangs from a stalactite,

    "Relax, Kassamae, you are not dead. I am only herre to impart some of my wisdom to your so you can in turn her our son learn to

    be a prolific tracker." 


    Kassamae eyes screwed up in confusion,

    "How are you supposed to do that? Do you intend to draw Hasir into the hist?"


    Istansehk laughed and told her that he will not be alone in this. He called toi someone Kassamae could not see. A second scaly head

    appeared beside the first. Kassamae gawked at the newcomer, breaking down into fresh tears,

    "Juleen, "I had no idea you'd met your end too brother. How did it, er happen?" She asked him, perplexed


    The ghostly Argonian shook his head, smiled and said they can delve further into the gory details of his death later; for now, both

    he and Itansehk have a duty to perform to their tribes as well as to the Saxhleel ancestors; to their their son and grandson in the art

    of tracking as that'll be the only way he can ever hope to succeed in his trial. Kassamae screwed her face up at this, she did not

    know how they were going to go about this as they are with the Saxhleel ancestors and not among the land of the living.


    Kassamae shrieked with horror as a white glow flowed down the tree trunk like a insect scuttling down a tree leaf. The light dropped

    below the amber liquid of the hist tree, toward some Saxhleel bodies driven through by carved stone sticks. She could see the bodies

    open their eyes and rise as if roused from some kind of deep slumber. 


    The two newly-raised Argonians walked towards Kassamae; she could see their tails cutting through the liquid, leeaving behind nary

    a ripple as they moved closer to dry land. They got out, Kassamae was shocked to see where they weren't wet, and walked towards

    her, their tails swaying behind them. They smiled warmly as she reached her. Kassamae asked exactly who they were.


    The muddy green Argonian turned to the other, forest green Argonian; he shook his head and gestured towards the female Argonian,

    "Kassamae, so nice to see you again, I am happy to see you.," He flared his nostrils angrily. "That is more than I can say for my

    stupid hatchling of a son; If only I had ripped the flame whip from his clawed hands, I could have stopped him before he killed me.

    He will pay dearly for what he did."


    Kassamae begged her husband to see reason but it was far too late for that. Itansehk had his mind completely hijacked by the

    thought of revenge. He couldn't be reasoned with when he was like this, Kassamae knew this; it was hard to dissuade her husband

    when he had his mind set on something, whether for good or ill.


    She sighed as she walked over to him and put her hand on his shoulder,

    "Istansehk, pleas don't do this, I beg you." Itansehk quickly shrugged of her pleading gaze, "I ask again, please don't hurt our son.

    He was angry and you know as well as I do, when you get angry, the possiblity of controlling our actions goes right out the window."

    Itansehk sighed in defeat; realizing she was right, as she always was.


    Juleen approached them; glancing from Kassamae to Itansehk expecting them to rip each other limb from limb but what he did not

    expect was hearing them mend their fences.

     Juleen pulled Kassamae aside and asked why Hasir doesn't just rely on his innate tracking skills to see him through to the temple

    instead of her jumping through all these hoops in order to train him in skill he or rather his bad-tempered, hairy side, already has.

    She eyed him warily,

    "Have him rely on his wolf side?" She said taken aback, "Aren't they two seperate parts of his soul?"


    Juleen laughed at her apparent lack of understanding,

    "You stubborn reptile, Hasir and his wolf are one and the same, just as I am with my wolf, you with your wolf and Itansehk with his."


    Kassamae lunged at Juleen and pinned the scared Argonian to the nearest tree,

    "If you know that then why in Oblivion drag me here for nothing? Why not just have Kynareth teleport me straight back to Hassir so

    we can avoid jumping through reed hoop that should've been there in the first place?" She snarled through gritted teeth


    Itansehk ran to Juleen's aid and tried wrenching the mad Argonian off of his brother-in-law,

    "We thought you would find the information helpful," Juleen said, face turning purple. Juleen suceeded, after several attempts to pry

    her off of Itansehk who coughed and spluttered, gasping for air. "Please Kassamae," Juleen said looking from her husband to her,

    "Just as you implored Juleen to, you must see reason...and control your actions, for divines' sake. You must not let your wolf get the

    better of you, calm your emotions, surely Kynareth taught you that."


    Kassamae looked into Juleen's black slitted pupils, reflecting every bit of fear he felt,

    "Right now, I don't give a damn what Kynareth taught me," She hissed, "Why didn't you tell me that Hasir could just draw upon his

    wolf? Tell me or I'll release my wolf," she chuckled darkly, " and believe me, you don't want that to happen, she will not be as



    Juleen said nothing but stared in fear at his sister-in-law. She leapt at Juleen, more wolf than Argonian. Juleen shrieked and cowered

    behind a tree on the western bank of the amber liquidine pool on which they stood. Itansehk saw this and leapt in front of Juleen

    and gave a yell of pain as the enraged Argonian ripped a huge chunk of flesh out of his torso. Gasping for breath as he splashed into

    the amber pool, he cursed the female Argonian in Jel. Kassamae took out her dagger and flung it hard at Juleen's neck. It stuck fast,

    blood dripping from the wound and the body started to sink beneath the histsap pool. 


    A white orb rose from the corpse like a phoenix from ashes and became absorbed by the hist tree. Kassamae looked like she had

    just seen a ghost. She turned from the dead Argonian vessel floating just below the amber liquid, advancing on Itansehk and

    repeated her inquiry. 


    Itansehk remained resolute, not shying away like his brother-in-law,

    "Hasir's wolf, Twilight, could help bring his formerly nonexistent tracking ability to fruition, intensify his hidden abilities by taking

    control of the Argonian."


    Kassamae looked amazed as she did not understand the implications of his words,

    "Erm... how does Hasir call upon his wolf?" She asked


    Itansehk sat on a nearby rock, smiled and spread his arms as if explaining about her surroundings,

    "I don't known whether or not you're aware of this but he already called upon his wolf twice before, once in a central city in Skyrim

    and once in a hidden mechanical mansion."

    Kassamae stared at him in disbelief,

    "What do you mean 'already'?"


    Itansehk expained that Hasir was able to attune himself to Nirn in order to discover a person's whereabouts, whether or not it has a

    soul. He told her that that ability was nothing more than his wolf, his, er, emotions, for lack of a better tem, yearning to be set free

    despite his best efforts to keep his wolf, his emotions, in its cage.


    Itansehk Proceeded to tell her more but Kassamae felt herself becom transparent and intangible as a summer's mist as the sounds

    and sights of the realm began to blur together. Kassamae blinked and once again found herself in the snowy forest; her claws felt

    the rough bark of the apline.


    She knew she had to tell Hasir what she had heard from her husband and brother-in-law. She glanced around the forest; curtains of

    tress on either side of her. She found Hasir lying on the ground, fast asleep. With purpose, she walking up to him and gently shook

    him awake. 


    He stirred and opened his eyes, looking from the large canopied ceiling to his mother,

    "Mom, what time is it?" He asked her. She shooker her head, telling him not to worry about it and sat beside him in the snow. She

    told him everything that had happened when she was in her dream-like state. Hasir looked at her, a bit confused, "So if I got this

    right... My dad and uncle, whom you saw just a few minutes ago, think I should use my wolf to compensate for my lack of tracking

    expertise?" She nodded.


    Hasir stayed silent for the longest time, his mother asked him if something was the matter, he nodded,

    "Mom I... something strange happened to me, I don't know what it is, but...." She smiled conspiratorially. Hasir looked at her

    skeptically for a minute, "Erm... mom, don't you know something I don't?" 

    Kassamae looked as thoug her train of thought got derailed for a minute but then it found the track again,

    "Hasir... I saw your father and your uncle... in a vision of sorts... by Kynareth. In the, er, dreamwalk, they told me that they

    witnessed your 'strange ability' and told me about it." Hasir looked at her, eyebrow raised. Kassamae took an uneasy breath and told

    the Argonian that his ability was due to his wolf spirit trying to force its way out. She also told Hasir another reason that this ability

    happens is that you are denying the wolf a chance to be free, to hunt; don't try to fight it son, embrace it.


    Hasir asked her if his wolf, Twilight, would help him find a way out of the forest and to the ancient Akavirian temple where Tosh Raka

    waits. She said Itansehk told them that since he doesn't have any knowledge of tracking he must rely on his wolf to compensate for

    his severe lack of tracking skills.


    Hasir transformed into his wolf form and sniffed the air. In this form, he could pick up scents and other things his reptilian form

    couldn't. He could hear a hundred times better as well. His ears perked up and went bounding off to the right of where Kassamae

    stood. must've smelled a rabbit or a deer, She thought as she ran after him; almost tripping on exposed roots that littered the path

    like snakes in the dirt. She found Twilight muching on a rabbit that he felled without much trouble. 


    Kassamae lifted her snout to the air and picked up the scent of dragon flowers that Tosh had smeered on various trees and rocks of

    the area. She realized she was not the only one that notices the sweet smelling scent, Twilight had noticed it to and followed the

    scent trail to an acient temple far to the north of the forest. 


    Kassamae followed closely behind the black and white wolf as he sniffed the rocks and trees to ensure he was follwing the correct

    path. She glanced around her to see if there was some kind of camouflage so she could follw the wolf without being spotted. She

    found a narrow trail that snaked its way through the forest that was parallel to the path the wolf took. She sighed with relief as she

    saw curtains of trees lining the path that she could use as camouflage. 

    Kassamae stuck to the right path as Twilight pass her on the left. She crouched down so that the trees hid her from view. Every so

    often, she would smell the wolf, just to make certain she was still on his trail, so to speak. After several minutes of crouchwalking

    beside the trees, she could smell the charcoal that burned in a brasier close by. She lifted her head and stared in awe a the huge

    stone steps that led to huge stone double doors with intricate patterns on them. A brazier on the opposite side burned equally as

    bright as the one that Kassamae smelled. 


    She could hear growling on the other path. Twilight's huge front paw blocked her path as she knew he must go first, this was his trial

    al=fter all, whatever it was. Kassamae followed the wolf up the steps and through the double door it had just opened and into a

    large stone courtyard with steps ascending from a depressed stone platform with an Akaviri dragon cared into the center of the



    Twilight padded over to where Kassamae stood and let out a loud howl as his body shifted back to that of an Argonian. He turned to

    his mother and raised an eyebrow,

    "Where in Oblivion is the Akaviri dragon?" Kassamae shook her head, she was just a lost as Hasir was; she had no clue

    what to expect or where Tosh was. She said the only way to know was to go to the dragon and asked. Hasir swallowed hard and

    traversed the stone steps down to the stone platform with the dragon carving.


    He walked cauitously as though he expected some terrible beast to be waiting for him; maybe that was Tosh's plan. Hasir's dread

    began to build up like a fury of a thosand dragons as he walked, the symbol getting closer with each step he took. Finally, when he

    thought he fear would become insurmountable to the point he would've turned tail and fled, he got to the platform and stood on the

    dragon carved into the platform. He expected something to happpen like a voice would magically call out to him or that the doors

    would swing open when he made it to the caarving but none of that happened. 


    Hasir's tail tucked itself between his legs as he looked around wildly as the familiar fear he'd felt seconds before stole over him

    again, convinced that no beast would come lunging out of the shadows at him, he walked up the stone steps and opened another set

    of double doors; these having the Akaviri symbol of a dragon on them, and walked into a large room where banners the color or

    oxegenated blood depended from wooden rafters set high above him in the stone ceiling that bore the black dragon.


    Hasir gazed in awe at the spacious room and saw that wooden target were placed against the walls as well as some in the center of

    the room. Hasir, however, did not see the tiger-striped Akaviri dragon. Hasir wondered if he was in the wrong temple when

    something caught his eye. He looked up and saw a dragon symbol, the same one he saw twice before in the ceiling. He thought his

    eyes were playing tricks on him when the dragon started to writh and entwine itself. A sound like a thunderclap echoed around the

    temple as the giant fiery coils of the dragon ceased entwining themselves as the two sides split apart and something floating in

    through the crack. 

    Hasir stared, mouth agape as the dragon bounded between the wooden rafters towards him. He did not know that Akaviri dragons

    could move so beautifully while their western counterparts aways seem to move in a menacing, almost clumsy way as they descend

    to feast on their prey; this was the complete opposite. Whereas Tamrielic dragons looked equally as menacing and ungraceful as

    they moved, the dragons of Akavir threading gracce and beauty into every move they made.


    The dragon that Hasir saw glided effortlessly, without the need of leather wings, between each wooden pillar. Hasir gazed in wonder

    as its body and forelimbs glinted in the firelight as it wrapped its body around each of the pillars it passed by. Hasir watched Tosh

    Raka, leader of the Ka'Po'Tun descend towards a throne, but did not sit upon it, instead he floated in mid air above it as though

    suspended by several invisible cables.


    Hasir stared up at the dragon and asked if Tosh would be teaching him the second trial. The massive serpentine creature shook its


    "I do not partake in fighting nor do I like it. I have... others... to train pupils for me." He fashioned a orb of pure energy that floated

    from his outstrenched claw to a spot beside him. Hasir saw the orb widen and elongate so that it resembled an ayleid portal. The

    shimmering image that swirled in the middle showed a flickering image of a ship.