C.O.T.W Chapter 90: Dead Soil Grows New Life

  • Hasir pushed the mead hall door open to find a few stragglers and the usual practice duelists but, other than that he found the hall

    quite empty. He thought they must be all preparing for the funeral services happening later that evening. He ignored this for now as

    he made his way down to Kodlak's room anxious on what the harbinger had to say to him. 

     

    Hasir hss sofltly to himself and he enter the harbinger study he saw the familiar sights he'd seen when he was asked whether he

    wanted to be a companion, now thought, things were different, he knew that. He ripped his eyes away from a troll skull to find the

    old man sitting at the sat corner table he, Hasir and Farkas had sat at all those months ago. 

     

    Hasir saunntered up to the chair that he sat it months before and eyed Kofdlak nervously. The Harbinger tented his fingers on the

    tableand stared over top of them owlishly as he looked at the Argonian,

    "You may be wondering why I summoned you here." Hasir gupled, "I suppose Ceralyne told me. She came to me in the temple and

    said you were... troubled by something, mind telling me?" He asked as he leant back in his chair, eyes still on the Argonian

    Hasir sighed, his tail hanging limp as a dead snake behind him as he looked at Kodlak,

    "What's got your tail in a knot?" The harbinger asked

     

    Hasir sighed again, placing his face onto his crossed elbow,

    "I wonder if I was quick enough, Mere-Glim, would still be alive," He sobbing into his arms, "It's all my fault."

     

    Kodlak put an arm on the Argonian's shoulder and gave it a little squeeze,

    "Hasir, your Argonian friend's death is not your fault. Your other friends told me that that arrow delivered a wound that no healing

    spell could fix, so instead of beating yourself up, relish in the good times you and your friend shared." 

     

    Hasir groaned. Alot of people told him to stop beating himself up and control his temper. He did not want to give Kodlak the

    satisfaction as well. Hasir's face brightened a bit as a new thought formed in his mind, 

    "Harbinger, on a much happier note, I noticed Jorrvaskr feels a bit, erm, I dunno... empty?" He asked, staring into Kodlak's shocked

    face., "I did not mean it in a bad way," He said, "anyway," He said, shaking the thought off, "I, er, found three new possible recruits

    to the companions, I haven't talk to them about it yet, but I will." He said, eyeing the harbinger's bemused expression. 

     

    The harbinger got up from his chair and strode over to the enchanting table sitting beside the bookcase,

    "Hasir, I on't think Jorrvaskr has any room for more warriors, I mean, there's the circle and I don't know how keen your friends are

    in becomeing wolves and, while humans and other non-lycanthropes can find a life and happiness here, It would hardly be prudent."

    Kodlak glanced at Hasir and the Argonian saw the mark of the wolf on his face, "Nevertheless, we need to prepare for the funeral

    service." He followed Hasir upstairs and outside onto the porch.

    Hasir found his friends sitting at the long picnic table against one of the supporting pillars and, looking at the skyforge. He saw a

    wooden structure built up with Kash's body along with Glim's and Ocheeva's bodies and an unknown dead Sahxleel that Hasir knew

    was meant to represent Itansehk. He stared in amazement at how tall the structure was - it was almost as tall as the stone eagle.

     

    The Argonian saw the circle exit the underforge and ascend the ramp to the skyforge. Kodlak walked over, squeezed the Argonian's

    shoulder affectionately and ascended the ramp after the circle members. Hasir, torn between wanting to leave them to their own

    devices and wanting to join in and experience a true nord ceremony, ascended the ramp after them.

     

    Seeing his friend not present beside him, Inigo got up and moved closer to the strange structure that smelled of forest,

    "Erm... why is everyone staring at a structure that a five year old might've built?" A collective groan told him that his joke was

    offcolor

     

    He saw the Argonian bow his head along with the others. Inigo knew he could not partake in this; he was not a companion,

    Vilkas placed a bottle of mead between the two lowest logs and when back to his spot.

     

    He cleared his throat, speaking in a low and respectful tone of voice,

    "Lo, there do I see Ysgramor, harbinger of a time long past."

     

    Hasir heard Farkas' lament next. "Lo, there do I see my shield brothers and sisters." The nord said this with a great sense of honor

     

    Next, Hasir joined in, finally releasing what he was meant to do. He thought of all the people who died for him, Mere-Glim, his poor

    estranged eggsister, grandmother, even his own father, though admittedly that was his own fault. If he had acted hastily, they might

    still be alive.

     

    Taking a deep breath, holding the memory in his mind, he spoke mournfully,

    "Lo, there do I see the line of companions, all the way from the beginning." He said, trying to act with bravery he hardly felt

     

    Aela and the companions' circle members, minus Hasir, said the last line together, as one entity, 

    Lo, do they call to me. They bid me take my place in among them in Sovngarde and the hunting grounds where the hunt is endless."

     

    When all this was done, Aela grabbed an unlit torch, dipped it into the fires of the forge and lit the funeral pyre aflame. They all hung

    their heads, silently praying for the friends they had lost. They turned from the burning pyre and headed inside the mead hall where

    they all would raise a mug of mead in the dead's honor.

     Hasir walked over to one of the table chairs nearest the door and sat down, He waited for the circle members to enter the hall and

    sat down either on either side of the table or near him. Inigo entered and sat next to him, his tail swishing impatiently behind him,

    "My friend, Why do we raise mugs of mead to the dead?" He said, gesturing in the direction of the skyforge, "These nord customs

    are as wierd to me as nords seeing a blue khajiit in their homeland."

     

    Hasir pressed his clawed finger to his lips and pointed to Kodlak,

    "Quiet, the harbinger is about to speak." He whispered

     

    The harbinger took a tankard from the table, filled it with golden liquid from a decanter positioned near him,

    "My friends, today is indeed a sad day, we have lost friends but so too did Ysgramor. He had to watch his companions die before him

    in the battle against the snow elves. I am sure he filled this very hall with the surviving members of the five hundred companions he

    led into battle and I am sure he gave the same speech; give or take a few alterations."

     

    He cleared his throat and spoke with much more force than what he actually felt,

    "Companions, Circle members, raise your mead, to the victorius dead." 

     

    Hasir uttered a snarl that he thought Kodlak couldn't hear; unfortunately, the harbinger had the ears of a young wolf. The

    companions raised their tankards in salute, 

    "Hail!" Came the unanimous response, Inigo even raised his but did not drink from it as the other companions drained theirs.

    Instead, he pushed his away in disgust.

     

    The Harbinger called for silence, 

    "That is not the only topic I wish to discuss," He turned to Hasir, "Members of the Companions, I am proud to now call Hasir a whelp,

    a, er, fledgling in our order." Inigo clapped along with the rest of the nord. When all the applause had died down, Kodlak looked at

    Inigo, "I am also pleased to announce his feline friend has proven his mettle in recent days as well, I hereby name Inigo a whelp

    also." Inigo looked like he had just been hit by a stray arrow. He had never been given a honor like this before.

     

    Hasir and the khajiit smiled uneasily and asked Kodlak why they had been given such an honer when they didn't do anything.

    . Kodlak smiled at him over his tankard of mead,

     

    "Didn't do anything? Hasir, the elf has told me of what you did in runoff caverns. You and Inigo felled a dwemer construct; that

    is no easy feat. She also told me, while in Kynareth's temple, that you stopped to seek out more of Molag Bal's plan? Not that that

    bares any wait on the companions gathered around but care to enlighten us how you saw this and what exactly happened?"

     

    Hasir took a deep breath, stood up and started to stride up and down the hall; always in view of the other companions as he told his

    tale. All the while, the nords never once taking their eyes off of him as he recounted the terrifying details he saw when Kynareth

    allowed him to see through her eyes, however briefly.

     

    He turned back to Kodlak and the companions when he had walked past his seat a second time,

    "Kodlak, kynareth showed me something else as well," He explained about seeing Krev the skinner and Molag Bal's informant, the

    Doomstrider talking about what happened at the dwemer ruins deep inside runoff caverns south of Ivaarstead.

     

    After a long silence that seemed to fill the mead hall, Aela spoke up, displeased that the Argonian was given such an honor,

    "Yeah? Why in Oblivion should we believe anything you say? You may have been awarded the rank of 'whelp' but that means squat

    around here and you sure as Oblivion aren'tt a true Companion. Not even close." She roared with laughter a this while shaking her

    head, "If it were up to me, you would be shipped back to that dungheap you call a swamp. You are a sad excuse for a companion,

    just free us from any embarassment and go home, fithy lizard."

     

    Hasiir turned in her direction and snarled,

    "Watch it or this 'filthy lizard' will come over there and smack you!"

     

    The harbinger raised his hands for quiet and shot the fiery female nord a disapproving glance,

    "Aela please, quell you fiery emotions for a minute, will you?" He asked and then chuckled, remembering Aela's younger days, "By

    Hircine girl, you're a handful. You always have been, even when you were young and Katria and I had to stop you from picking

    fights." He said. 

     

    At this point, Vilkas and Farkas spoke up

    "Yeah and she would beat the piss out of anyone who said she was too skrawny to win the fights." The two brothers laughed while

    Aela's face went as red as her hair

     

    Again, Kodlak called for silence; the hall deadened at once, all except the two brothers who were still sniggering, much to Aela's

    displeasure. Kodlak eventually gave up trying to acheive total silence and looked at Hasir, smiling,

    "Thank you for explaining your visions Hasir. Tell me, why do you think the silver hand would be involved in this?"

     

    Hasir's tail dropped as he shook his head,

    "I don't know harbinger, but, it might have something to do with the undead werewolf."

     

    The harbinger thought on this for a moment, sitting down in his chair again,

    "Undead werewolf? You must mean Faolchu. He was a brave nord, served during the time of Ysgramor. Faolchu was one of

    Ysgramor's most faithful warriors, that is until Molag Bal took him, killed him he feared Faolchu might kill his unholy creations and

    reanimated him in his werewolf form and turned him against us. As for why he has joined the silver hand," The harbinger shrugged,

    "I cannot tell you, and I haven't the foggiest who this 'Doomstrider' is.

     

    Hasir looked at the harbinger and shivered as he felt the harbinger's owlish gaze cut through him like an ice spike,

    "Erm... habinger, this backstory is nice but I still don't see what you would like me to do?"

    The harbingerwalked over to  Hasir who stood up and looked a little uneasy, even his tail was coiling and uncoiling in discomfort,

    "I would like you to sneak inside the fort of Gallows rock and find out what they are planning and how this all leads back to Faolchu,

    if anyone sees you, do not hesitate to kill them. Good luck and may Hircine guide you on your hunt and the winds of Kynareth be at

    your back." 

     

    Hasir slung his bag over his shoulder and was about to leave when the te harbinger called upon him again. Hasir turned to face him,

    snarling,

    "Ugh! What is it THIS time Harbinger? Can't you see i'm about to leave?"

     

    The harbinger nodded, acknowledging the Argonian's annoyance. He only knew Hasir for a few months but he knew when he was

    feeling flustered,

    "I, erm, just wanted to tell you that you should check with the merchants in town. They may have armor that might assist you." He

    looked into Hasir's livid expression, "If not, then you... can always ask them if they have any recommendations." He said, a bit

    nervously.

     

    Hasir asked him what was wrong with his current armor. At this, the harbinger placed a hand on the argonian's shoulder and

    laughed,

    "The silver hand will, no doubt, hear you coming a mile away in that clunky bit of armor," He pointed to the armor the argonian

    wore, "Might want to inquire at the marketplace, maybe they have something to help you in you endeavor, if not, well, they may be

    able to point you to someone who can."

     

    Hasir was about to push opened the front door when Kodlak stopped him again. Hasir groaned at this unneccesary intrusion,

    "By the wolflord and mother nature, what now?" 

     

    Hasir heard the harbinger telling the blue khajiit to go with him. Hasir groaned,

    "Kodlak, I do not need a babysitter, I am not a small hatchling." He said, eyeing the harbinger angrily out of the corner of his eye

     

    Inigo came up beside Hasir and told him that the harbinger just want Hasir to have a companion to join him on his mission. Happy

    to not be told by the smart blue cat that he was more a traveling companion than a babysitter, he hissed contentfully and they left

    the mead hall and made their way down to the marketplace.

    Hasir moved down the steps in front of the mead hall and saw Affraji sitting on the rock wall that surrounded the mead hall. Inigo

    looked over to her, as if he had just realized that she was there. The female khajiit smiled,

    "Hi, this one heard about your next journey." She beckoned Hasir over. The argonian looked from her to the market below, he felt

    guilty; not sure what he was going to do. A voice in the back of his head told him to go over to the khajiit. His mind willed him to

    move, but Hasir's feet seemed to forget to move.

     

    Inigo groaned and dragged the Argonian to the female argonian by the hand. Hasir asked her how she'd heard,

    "This one did not spy on you or anything, she just sat onn the porch at the back of the mead hall and the door between the training

    yard and the mead hall and..." Hasir gasped and went to slap Affraji, angry that she eavedropped on his, Kodlak's and Inigo's

    conversation. She caught his clawed hand when it came within an inch from her face and forced it downward, "You stupid argonian,

    she did not 'eavesdrop' or whatever Hasir wants to call it." She shook her head, "anyway, she only caught snippets of the

    conversation. Can Inigo and Hasir please tell this one the rest of the story?"

     

    Hasir told Affraji about the coversation they had had with the harbinger and the silver hand's involvement. Hasir smiled at Affraji,

    "Affraji, do you want to join us as we go to Gallows rock. If you don't want to, you don't have to come, if you have something better

    to do..." His voice tailed away, his tail hanging limply over the wall. Affraji shook her head saying she had something more pressing

    to do..

     

    Inigo, Affraji and Hasir went down to the market district. He was a bit disappointed when he found that the market district was not

    bustling with market-goers trying to find the best items for their needs. Hasir and his companions walked towards a shop whose sign

    read 'Belethor's General Goods' and entered.

     

    Hasir beheld a shop with a stack of boxes in one corner and table in anoter corner. A long brown counter spanned the width on the

    shop near the back, behind which were various shelves upon which stood jars of alchemical ingredients and next to the jars where a

    display of various armors and along the shop's walls were various weapon racks filled with various kinds of greatswords, swords,

    axes and warhammers. His eyes returned to the counter where a nord had appeared from a back room neither of them could see.

    Seeing them, he smiled toothily at them when he wiped down the pieces of armor of the counter with a cloth,

    "Hello, may I help you? Do you need any specific weapon or piece of armor?" He asked

     

    Hasir shook his head. Belethor thought he saw a glimmer in the argonian's eyes that every buyer got when they wanted something,

    "No, erm... we, er, I am here... you wouldn't happen to have armor that will allow me to move unseen and unheard would you?" He

    asked, hopefully. The nord shook his head; Hasir's shoulders and tail slumped at this, "Well, thanks anyway," He said moodily, "I

    guess I'll ask around then."

     

    He was about to leave but Belethor roared with laughter,

    "You thought I was just going to let you leave empty handed?" He chuckled, "I do not have such armor but across the way near the

    city gates lives an Imperial named Ysolda."

     

    Hasir looked up, his eye wide, tail moving quickly from side to side, "Sad thing is she keeps it locked in a display case so you would

    either have to barter with her for it or,..." Hasir looked at him confused, "Or... or what, come Belethor, tell me please, I want to get

    this over and done with not stand her hearing you flap your gums," He said rather impatiently. Belethor's face seemed to darkened

    as the next words flowed from his mouth like a forbidden taboo, "You can always break in and steal the armor." 

     

    Hasir looked apalled at this; not wanting to do the act that the nord so blatantly stated as if it was of no concern,

    "Absolutely not! I am no thief. How dare you suggest such a horrible idea," He gave the nord a distasteful look, "I can stomach

    spying for the companions but stealing armor I can just as easily buy?" He shook his head, "No, just...I will just as soon buy a dark

    brotherhood leather suit and enchant it myself."

     

    Belethor raised an eyebrow as if questioning Hasir's intelligence,

    "You can't BUY the armor, it is only available in two ways, joining the dark brotherhood or steaing it."

     

    Hasir looked at Belethor as if he intentionally avoided the most obivious lawful choice,

    "I have gold. I can buy the black and red leather armor from  Ysolda instead." He said beaming back at Belethor, hoping that he

    would take that into csideration." The breton, however, just stood there, saying nothing. Hasir gave him a pitying glance and he and

    Inigo left the shop and stepped into the market. 

     

    Inigo was about to walk toward the cloud district when Hasir flung out a clawed hand to stop him,

    "My friend, why did you atop me? I know where I'm going," He said. Hasir gazed over to one of the stalls, one with a woman selling

    vegetables, where he saw Carlotta organizing her wares. He also saw her daughter Mila playing in the stream next to the stairs that

    led up to the cloud district, "Ingo, I am going over to ask one of the merchants to see if I can ascertain the location of Ysolda, try not

    to do anything stupid will I'm gone."

     

    He left Inigo and advanced on Carlotta's stall. The imperial stopped what she was doing when she saw the Argonian draw closer,

    "Greetings argonian," She said, smiling sweetly, "Care to peruse my wares?" She said gesturing to the vegetables and fruits she had

    for sale. Hasir held up a hand,"Not today Carlotta, I was wondering if you know where Ysolda lives?"

     

    The imperial nodded and pointed to a spot behind Belethor's shop. Hasir nodded, thanks her and was about to leave when her

    daughter, Mila came over,

    "Mama, who is this?"

     

    Carlotta looked down and smiled,

    "Mila, this is Hasir."

     

    Hasir smiled when Mila said hello. Hasir strode past Mila and took out ten gold coins from his coin purse,

    "Carlotta, thank you for your kindness, take these coins as payment." Carlotta shook her head and moved his hand away from her,

    "No, I couldn't possibly accept this, I do appreciate the kind gesture however, Mila's father died a long time ago and I am the only

    one she counts on," She said in a low voice. Hasir grinned gently as he attempted to give her the coins again,

    "Here, take it, I insist. Think of it as payment for services rendered." He turned to walk back to Inigo. He stopped and look over his

    shoulder at her, "Oh and...sssorry for your losss." 

    The imperial giggled happily as she thought of the random act of kindness that the stranger did for her. Hasir went back to Inigo,

    "That was a nice thing you did, my friend. I am sure they will put that coin to good use." He whispered, nudging Hasir in the ribs.

    Hasir smiled and walked, not to belethor's store, but to a point beyond it. The khajiit followed Hasir to a house and saw Ysolda

    picking crops outside of her home.

     

    Hasir spotted her and walked up to her, his tail swaying relaxedly behind him,

    "Hi, i'm Hasir." He said, proffering her his clawed hand, delighted she stood up and took it, "pleased to meet you Hasir, I'm Ysolda.

    Might I ask what has brought you to my homestead?"

     

    Hasir told her about the task he was given by the Companions. At the mention of the armor she looked concernedly at him,

    "Yes I do have some armor of that description in my house, but why do you need it?" She asked, looking him up and down

     

    Hasir explained why he needed the armor. Ysolda smiled and pressed a key into Hasir palm. The Argonian looked at the golden key

    wonderingly,

    "What is this this for?" He asked. Ysolda resumed her farming, "That," she said, "is for the display case I hold it in. Your need of it is

    greater than mine." She said as Hasir thanked her and entered the house.

     

    Once he was over the threshold, he smelled some meat cooking in a pot over the fire on the opposite wall. On the left wall was a

    series of shelves holding various pots, pans and plates. On the right side was a small room where a chair and bed could be seen.

    Hasir moved in the direction of the room. He peered around the room and saw a glass and wood display case where black armor

    could be seen; a sheen of dark blue outlined the armor, boots, gloves and cowl. Hasir guessed the armor was enchanted with the

    enchantment Kodlak spoke of.

     

    He edged closer to the display case, inserted the key and grabbed the armor. He measured it against his body and, seeing that it

    would fit, stripped out of his clunky iron armor which he set against the wall and put on the leather armor, though more form fitting

    than Hasir had hoped. He took off the armor, put it in his bag and put the iron armor back on, tightening the leather straps to his

    liking, slung his bag over his shoulder and left the house into the market district. 

    Inigo loooked confusedly at the Argonian as he exited the house,

    "My friend, were you successful?" Hasir grinned and nodded. He asked Inigo if he had done anything productive in their short time

    apart. In response, the smart blue cat smiled as his eyes lit up, "Yes, indeed, I have." He told Hasir about how he went back to

    Jorrvaskr and overhead the harbinger talking about a mine, with Vilkas. Hasir said he thought they were going to Gallows Rock.

    Inigo shook his head, "No, that... was Koldak's mistake, it seemed. He meant to say they are gathered inside a mine. 

     

    Hasir rolled his eyed at this. He obviously caught on much faster than the khajiit of the possibilty of a trap,

    "Inigo, don't you think this is a trap? I mean all silver hand in one place? A bit 'too good to be true' don't you think?" Inigo thought

    on this a while and promptly shook his head as he opened the main gate, "My friend, if Kodlak told me, wouldn't you think I know

    what I am getting us into?"

     

    Hasir snarl soft and low as he followed Inigo to the stables where Hasir mounted up on his steed and Inigo saw a beautiful black

    horse with a dirty blond mane. He paid the stablehand the gold and set off after Hasir's steed towards Dawnstar. After hours of

    seeing nothing but open field, they had found the snowy village. Inigo's mouth fell open, he'd never seen a cold and snow-laden

    village so full of life-he'd thought the residents would be more bundled up or staying warm inside their houses. 

     

    They dismounted at a stables on the village's outskirts, paid tthe stablehand and set off down the hill into the village to find the

    mine. Hasir and Inigo went up some stairs by a stone house and turned left to see a huge hole in the rock, Inigo's tail was busy

    hiding between his legs as he knew something bad was going to happen but Hasir as ignorant as always just walked in the mine

    without suspecting anything. The scared khajiit followed closely behind him, glancing every which way, as if expecting an attack from

    all directions.

     

    Once inside the mine, Hasir saw an overturned wooden cart with ore and ingots spilled across the path. Inigo screamed and

    clkutched Hasir's arm so harrd, blood began spilling from the spot where the khajiit's claws had dug into the Argonian's arm, as he

    saw something move in the distance,

    "My friend, there is something move over there." He whispered, pointing to their left.

     

    Hasir looked and saw a stray ebony Ingot that somehow broke away from the pile,

    "Inigo, stop being a scaredy cat, it's only a stray ingot must've fallen from..." 

     

    He could not finish his thought, however as both he and Inigo recieved hard blows on the back of the heads by the hilts of several

    silver swords.

    They were thrown carelessly onto the cart like two sacks of horker meat and it rumbled down the cobblestone. The cart did not stop

    until, a few hours later, it ground to a halt out a run down prison just outside of Whiterun. This prison looked like it had seen better

    days; it had mold on its exterior a moss hung all over the fort. The carriage driver ggot out, grabbed his two 'sacks of meat' went

    through a door muttered something that their unconscious mind could not comprehend and through them down a big hole in the

    ground where they land with a thud on cold, hard stone.

     

    The carriagee driver looked over the edge and sneered at the two unconcious forms below,

    "Have fun ladies,": He chuckled and loooked at the wall below which had a tiny crack in it and water was pouring through, "better

    wake up, lest the water rush in and you drown." With those famous las twords, he left the prison and the khajiit and the argonian to

    their fates.

     

    Hasir awoke to feel refreshing wetness coat his scales. His reverie was broken as soon as it had started; glancing over, he saw

    Inigo's limp form floating in the three feet of water that had rushed into the hole while he was unconscius. Frantically, Hassir tried

    splashing Inigo with the water. After several panic filled minutes, the khajiit stirred,

    "My friend, did you stick your hand in warm water again?" He muttered, eyes still closed. Hasir growled in defiance, "Inigo, stop

    acting like a damn kitten and open you eyes."

     

     Inigo did as the argonian asked and saw that Hasir had not flooded the fort himself but rather a small crack opened up in the fort

    wall; water spider-webbing outwards from it. Inigo swam to dry land, screaming as he did so,

    "Hasir, what are we going to do? If we don't find an exit soon, we will die." The argonian gave him a deadpane glare, "Did I mention

    I do not like water?"

     

    "You did, Inigo... twice." He said, "Since I can breathe water, I will try to find a way out... for both of us."

     

    Hasir dived under the water, searching for clues or anything that could be useful in finding a way out. His eyes went wide as he saw

    three skeleton sitting on the bottom. Hasir tried to scream but all that escaped him was a stream of bubbles. The bubbles rose to the

    surface and made Inigo snort in amusement,

    "My friend, that is disgusting. Next time open a window when you let one rip, gods save us." He said fanning the foul smell with his

    hand.

     

    Hasir did not care about his bodily function; he just wanted to surface and tell Inigo what he had seen when a crumpled note

    clutched in one of the skeleton's hands caught his eye. The Argonian tried to pise the note out of the skeleton's hand, which,

    admittedly was a risky endeavor. After five minutes of grunts and growls, he finally succeeded in wrenching the note free.

     

    He surfaced, moved to a dry section of the tower, smoothed the note out on a flat rock and began to read,

    "This structure, grand and stately in its prime, now stands abandoned. It is now used as a popular dumping ground for all unwanted

    filth on Skyrim and is a holding cell of sorts for the silver hand's enemies or those that they perceive to be threats to their order."  

     

    Hasir walked over to Inigo, which was proven difficult by the uneven footing he was given, and handed the note to Inigo,

    "What are you giving me this for?" He said eyeing the parchement warily." Hasir growled and just asked Inigo to read it, "Ok, Ok,

    geez, keep your scales on." He said as he snatched the parchment from the argonian's claws. The khajiit's eyes scanned the

    parchment and once they reached the end, looked at the Argonian; fear reflected in them, "By the gods, that is terrible," Inigo said,

    cringing back from the paper as if it were loaded with explosives, "I have two questions, what exactly is this building and who were

    those skeletons laying in the water?"

    Hasir shook his head and pulled Inigo to the edge of the rapidly filling poool and gestured to the wall,

    "Inigo, do you know what could have made these marks?" He asked, his brow furrowed. Inigo shook his head, "I don't know for

    sure, but judging from those skeletons you told me about and the marks on the wall, I would guess these a werewolf claw marks."

    Hee pasued, thinking hard, "why would the silver hand be imprisoning werewolves here?" 

     

    Hasir shrugged, dived back in the water and swam towards an opening in the rock. Inigo said a prayer to the divines and dived in

    after him. He feared he would down and almost did, until he stepped onto dry land; fur soaking wet. His face a mixture of awe and

    disgust as he stood on a narrow stone path with eight cages flanking him on either side. The smell of rotten flesh was overwhelming.

    Clearing his nose of all previous scents, he could smell three distinct scents wafting towards him through the stale air. He walked

    along the cages, seeing nothing but the corpses of their previous owners until he saw a prison cell with part of its rear wall caved

    in.He had guessed that the prisoner had either tried to escape, succeeded in that endeavor or was carried away by one of the

    jailors.

     

    Inigo tried to reason with Hasir, tried to tell him this may be a trap but Hasir went into the hole anyway. Inigo groaned,

    "I guess you are one of those 'explore first, ask questions later' types." He said, sighing, "Divines, I hope that does not land us in hot

    water later on."

     

    He entered the hole after the Argonian, through cage door that stood ajar and up some stairs. An Argonian he had not seen leapt out

    of the shadows and brought her sword down on his head. He unsheathed his word and blocked this attack. He shoved her hard

    against the bars of the nearest prison cell with his foot. She growled at him and cursed him in Jel. Inigo swung his ebony sword in

    her direction but she dodged this, caused sparks to fly as the khajiit's sword made contact with the bars. The Argonian redoubled her

    effotrs, sheathed her sword and unsheathed a hidden dagger and ran at the khajiit; murder in her eyes. 

     

    Hasir could hear sounds of fighting coming from the floor below and ran down the stairs to see what was going on. Upon seeing the

    female Argonian, he let out a fiercesome growl as he conjured his flame whip He lashed out with it, like a fisherman trying to catch

    that long sought after bass. The whip hurtled towards the Argonian, gving off intense heat as it cut through the air.

     

    The Argonian let go of the khajiit's throat as if burnt. She looked up to see Hasir standing in the shadowy hallway,

    "Hmph, well, well, I was wondering when I would see you again." She said with a sneer, "to what do I owe this unexpected

    pleasure?" She said shooting daggers at the Argonian in the shadows.

     

    Hasir's stare, icy cold, did nothing to freeze the female Argonian's icy cold heart. He moved so fast that Inigo momentarily lost track

    of his scaly hide as he whizzed past him, pinning the female Argonian to the prison bars by the throat, 

    "Shaleez, how dare you show your face after killing my grandmother!" He hissed, "I shall see Molag Bal and his followers, silver hand

    included, destroyed for this injustice you have brought to my family and, by extension, my kind."

    Shaleez just laughed at this, not giving any attention to Hasir's words,

    "Oh, you were the ones who sabotaged the machine in runoff cavern, you and," She gestured to Inigo, "this cat?" She chuckled

    again and shrugged, You can try, Molag Bal knows you can try, but it will all be for naught. We'e learned from or last... mistake and

    have the machine shileded against intruders; we even have other defenses in place to deter anyone who wish to sabotage it a

    second time.

     

    Hasir gritted his teeth as a drop of blood fell onto his blade,

    "We will shut down this machine just as we did the first one."

     

    Shaleez grinned darkly at him; sheer disbeleif clearly shown in her dark green eyes,

    "I'd like to see you try, you will need more than two people to try to shut down the machine."

     

    She called for guards and seconds later, they heard footsteps running down the steps that lead to the room. Hasir warned Shaleez to

    call off her guards or she will be gutted like the hounds of hircine that she wishes to rid Tamriel of. She said nothing but her face

    twisted into a mask of twisted amusement.  He warned he again and gestured to Inigo; in response, the khajiit unsheathed his bow

    and nocked an arrow.

     

    Hasir gave Inigo a nod and the khajiit loosed an arrow. It soared gracefully through the air and pierced the female Argonian's neck.

    Inigo gestured to the door," Hurry, my friend, the guards will be here soon and we don't want to be seen as murderers." The

    Argonian stared at him in disbelief, "That," He said gesturing to the choking Argonian, "was self defense, not murder. If you weren't

    arawe, you stupid blue cat, she meant to kill me; well, yes mock me, but she meant to kill me soon after. It was only right we ended

    her life first." Shaleez drew here last breath. It was a horrible, rattling sound that seemed to come from her lips, and was still; her

    body limp against the bottom of the the cage. Hasir, much to Inigo's intense disgust, said a porayer that ensured Shaleez's swift

    journey to the hist and closed her eyes in respect.

     

    The arguement took so long that the guards, outfitted in the same nordic carved armor-minus the nordic bear helmet that Shaleez

    wore-quickly surrounded Hasir and the khajiit. Quickly and skilled, Hasir killed the guards with a gout of flame that erupted from his

    scaly lips.

     

    Hasir checked the guard to see if he had anything valuable on him; he had four gold coins, some food and a full set of

    nordic carved armor. He compared the new armor with his old and dented iron armor and undid the iron armor, put it in his bag and

    put the armor on and tightened the leather straps. He searched another body, found an identical set and bade Inigo put the armor

    on.

    The khajiit did and they admired their new armor,

    "When I get back to Whiterun, I definitely need to craft a set of this armor for myself, it has a sort of ancient Argonian feel to it."

    Hasir said, flexing and relaxing his claws encased in matching gauntlets. Hasir looked toward the stairway leading to an unseen room

    above. He started up the stairs, entranced by a peculiar scent. He tried to move quietly but the clunkiness of the armor almost made

    this nearly impossibly.

     

    Inigo looked around and, seeing no scaly body around, went up the stairs. He looked down at his armor and scowled. He decided he

    moved best when wearing light armor, took off the entire armor set and flung the armor pieces down the stairs. Inigo ignored the

    noisy clangs they made on the stairs. Upon arrival in the upper room, he cast around for the Argonian. 

     

    He called out in desperation,

    "My friend, where are you?

     

    A rather agitated response came from a room to the left of the concerned Khajit,

    "I'm in here you stupid khajiit. Keep your voice down... Hsss."

     

    Inigo cursed his own stupidity that he did not use his nose. The khajiit's tail danced in agitation as he walked across the stone room

    and smiled as he saw Hasir reading a note laying on a table in the corner of the room. Inigo's face screwed up in comprehension as

    he cleared his thought,

    "My friend, I was looking for you. Erm... what are you doing?"

     

    Hasir swung around so fast, he nearing knocked a pewter candle off the table,

    "Inigo, er, hi, What am I doing? I-I-well, I-" He stammered as if found out about him doing something illegal

     

    Inigo's face and tail relaxed,

    "My friend, you can tell me, I will not inform the guards." He said smiling

     

    Hasir told his khajiit friend that he may have found a way into the portal in Glemoril Coven. Inigo asked what he'd found. Hasir

    smiled and told the curious khajiit that he found a note regarding the Vakka and Varla stones used to power portals like the one they

    found some months ago.

     

    Inigo's face screwed up in confusion,

    "What in Oblivion are you talking about?"

     

    Hasir told Inigo that the note goes on further to describe Vakka and Varla stones and their many uses. He told the khajiit that the

    silver hand found some such stones. He did not know how, when or where they found these stones but the fact remains that they

    did. 

     

    The Argonian looked at the khajiit, his tail swaying behind him, and smiled,

    "Inigo, you and I are goiing to go to this fort stated in the note, a place called Fort Fellhammer, sneak in, obtain these stones and

    any other valuable information about the portal or how to open it beyond what we know of the stones. Inigo grew nervous and asked

    what would happen if any member of the silver hand discovers them.

     

    Hasir smirked wolfishy,

    "Then we kill any motherfucker who gets in our way."

    Inigo walked to the table and read it through fully while Hasir was busy reveling in his silver hand sabotage,

    "My friend, are you sure you read the enitre note?" He asked as he scrutinized the note further, "It says here that the are holding the

    last surviving member of the frostmoon pack at Fort Fellhammer."

     

    Hasir stopped, walked over to the table and looked at Inigo,

    "Who is it? does the letter say his or her name? Also, who were those skeletons in the water? Does the note mention anything about

    them?"

     

    Inigo nodded and told the Argonian that the last surviving meber's name is Rakel. His face suddenly turned grim as he told Hasir

    that those three skeletons were her packmates who must've been thrown in the prison in their wolf forms, tried to escape by

    climbing up the wall and recieved an arrow in the back, all three of them, for their efforts. 

     

    Hasir looked shocked by  this news, much less the news that Rakel had been captured and imprisoned in Fort Fellhammer,

    "When I was trying to extract the first note, I saw that the skeletons had burn marks on their bodies, hmmm... must've been silver

    arrows that did them in, either that or a silver crossbow that imbues the bolts with the same properties of the crossbow." Hasinr

    snarled att the thought of the silver hand tortuing Rakel, "Those bastards have gone too far, mess with me, fine, but when you mess

    with my pack and my mate, that is when I get angry."

     

    He gestured to Inigo to follow him as he jumped to one of the prison's windows and jumped into the swiftly running water below.

    Inigo looked from the note and books on the table, grabbed them all and plunged into the water after his scaly friend.

    They both resurfaced shortly after; gasping for breath. Hasir told Inigo that if they swim north of their location that they'll reach Fort

    Fellhammer by nightfall. He told Inigo this will be ideal because all the guards will be in the barracks. Inigo nodded and swam after

    Ingo. The current swiftly carried them towards their desination.

     

    They arrived just below the rocky outcrop the fort stood on just about nightfall. Hasir got out of the water, scales gistening with

    moisture; he, like others of his race, relished in their wetness because of their homeland being so hot. Inigo, on the other hand,

    shook the water off and his fur blossomed like a giant afro. Hasir walked up the dirt path to the fort, followed by Inigo. 

     

    Hasir pressed a clawed finger to his lips and gestured to the fort with the other. Inigo did not understand what he was telling him,

    "My friend why must you be so cryptic? Tell me straight would you? Also, why are we sneaking if it is night out? No one will see us."

     

    Hasir hissed in annoyance and gave a look of agitation at Inigo,

    "I am just being cautious and in case we see a guard," He said with a wry smile, "I can easily slit his throat." He shot Inigo a filthy

    look, If we walk up to the fort they will surely see us coming and raise the alarm, throwing us in jail before we can slit more than

    three of their necks." He clipped the insulent khajiit on the back of the head, "that is why we are sneaking even though it is night

    out."

     

    Inigo was aboiut to speak but promptly shut his mouth; he did not want the Argonian a chance to berate or physically abuse him

    further. He snuck up the slope behind Hasir; keeping close to the rockey hillsides. Once they got up to the fort, they scanned the

    outer perimeter of the fort, expecting soldiers, or at the very least, archer to man the tower of the rampart of the fort. To their

    extreme displeasure, they found nothing of the sort.

     

    Inigo turned to Hasir with a bleak expression on his face,

    "Why are there any archers on the wall?" He whispered

     

    Hasir shrugged; when his voice came, it sounded extremely grave,

    "I dunno. a very cold wind run through my scales though..."

     

    They cast around once more, looking every which way for any sign of opposition, but found none. Hasir told Inigo to investigate the

    nearby mine and for him to report back to him if their is any suspicious activity,

    "My friend, now is no time to think about mining." he whispoered

     

    Hasir smacked Inigo on the head once more,

    "No, you idiot!" He whispered angrily, "Do you really need me to spell it for you? Hsss." He looked agitatedly at the khajiit as they

    hide behind a rock wall, "We will split up; you go to the mine and ascertain the situation there while I see if I can sneak into the

    prison undetected, look for Rakel, find and free her if I am lucky and free the book containing the secret for opening the portal,

    assuming the silver hand leader has it, and sneak out. Got it?" 

     

    Inigo crossed his arms and huffed in anger,

    "Fine, I do it." He said, frowning, "My friend, you did not need to insult my intelligence."

     

     Hasir just turned away from him and went into the fort while Inigo walked in the direction of the mine. He stole one last look before

    entering the mine and saw the argonian tail whip out of sight. Saying a silent prayer to the divines, he entered the mine. Inigo

    sniffed the foul air as he moved passed empty mine cart and hay bays that stuck out like a sore claw everwhere he looked. He just

    blanked them as he move down a dirt slope and deeper into the mine.

     

    A scent of silver emanated from a hole in the ground a short way past the slope, Inigo looked down and let loose a horrible growl as

    if from some escaped beast, unsheathed his ebony sword and flung himself down the hole. He landing behind the unaware werewolf

    hunter as gracefully as a cat that has fallen from a great height. 

     

    The werewolf hunter felt a shiver vibrate his entire body as he felt an unwelcome presence behind him. He tried to call out fro help,

    but his scream became muffled as claws thick as ebony daggers covered the terrified silver hand member's mouth when a chest that

    sat in the corner of the room caught his eye.

     

    He turned away to look at the chest, in this moment, however, the werewolf hunter chose to unsheath his silver longsword and run

    at the khajiit. Inigo saw this from a mile away as he ran toward the manic hunter and slid his sword straight across the nord's neck.

    The nord's head slid clean of the blade like water off of a fish. 

     

    Inigo went over to the chest and found it locked. He remembered what Hasir had told him, unraveled a set of lockpicks and inserted

    one in the keyhole, rotated it a bit and pinned down all the tumblers. The chest unlocked. Out of which he dug two double-sided

    coins. Inigo ran his claws over the tarnished golden coins and, as he held them felt happier; almost as if a strange sensation had

    pushed any negative feeling, negative thought out of his head. His claw traced the embossed styilized dragon on the front of the

    coin, turned it over and saw the motto of the continent of Akavir, 阴取决于阳。 如果一个被损坏,另一个会受到影响 (The yin depends

    on the yang. If one is damaged the other will suffer.)

     

    Inigo pocketedd the coins. He felt a mixture of guiilt, anger and curiosity at that moment. Guilt because they were not his coins to

    take but he took great pride in liberating them from their new, undeserving, owners. He felt angry because of what Hasir will say

    when he ruturns them as he knows these coins somehow link him to his his paternal grandfather, and lastly, the wonder he felt at

    that moment was because of him wondering if the silver hand specifically went to Akavir to steal these coins or if Quinchal had

    traveled here and the silver hand stole them when he was here.

     

    He put these feelings in the back of his mind as, just then, he smelled another presence further into the mine. He saw a silver hand

    member standing watch to see if anyone is in the mine that shouldn't be. Inigo's face screwed up,

    Shouldn't the one guarding do the guarding facing the mine? He sniggered silently, "What moron guards something with his back

    towards it? He thought while he watched the silver hand member. 

     

    Sensing a presence that was not meant to be there, the Imperial whipped around, blade drawn to see a blue khajiit snarling at him, 

    "Divines, your face looks like it was caught in a bad chemical accident." He said, laughing at Inigo's snarling face

     

    The blue khajiit smiled and shook his head,

    "Only bigots and ugly minds think like that... and I hate both equally." He stared at the recoiling Imperial. "Your face will look like

    chemical accident as well... with my sword rammed through it." He grinned and laughed unaturally, "Now, I have a question for

    you, if you do not answer truthfully, I'll redecorate this room with you insides, understand?"

     

    The Imperial nodded, sheathing his weapon. Inigo nodded and sheathed his as well,

    "I have two questions," he held up two clawed fingers, He reached into his bag and extracted two identical coins with strange

    etchings on them, "The first question is where did you get these from?" he shoved the coins into the Imperial's face. The Imperial

    cowered in the corner as if afraid that the metal might burn his skin, "Where are they from?" Inigo repeated, more forcefully this

    time.

     

    The Imperial werewolf hunter sighed,

    "We, er, the silver hand got them while we were on an excursion to Akavir to exterminate lycanthropes." He smiled, stariing into the

    khajiit's orange eyes, "anyway," He said, turning his hands, one on top of the other, "we, er, were hunting this one lycanthrope

    named Shun-ye. She was a female tsaesci and wife of Quinchal a male tsaesci. Shun-ye was a werewolf and it matched the

    description of a werewolf causing havoc on the isle of Akavir."

    Inigo stared at the Imperial and asked what this had to do with where he got the coins. The silver hand member cleared his throat,

    "Shun-ye was causing havoc on Akavir and a detachment of silver hand were sent to the secluded isles, me included, to root out the

    lycanthrope and destroy it. When we entered the Akaviri village were she was said to reside, we encountered a male tsaesci. His

    name was Quinchal and he begged us to reconsider because he claimed that while she was a werewolf; she was nowhere near as

    dangerous as we were led to believe. We thought otherwise, not taking any notice to the tsaeci's words and ran his wife through with

    my sword." Inigo listened to this but did not believe any of it.

     

    The Imperial blanked this and continued,

    "The trail of the tsaesci led us to the city of Windhelm, albeit after several years of finding nothing and it was when we found you,

    that lizard, some khajiit and our main target."

     

    Inigo threw his hands up in the air and scoffed,

    "Yeah, right. You say you have an army but when we were near the docks of the city, we only saw two of you. Where were the rest

    of your 'group'?

     

    The imperial unsheathed his sword and pointed it at the khajiit's chest,

    "Like I would tell you, you stupid fucking cat." Inigo fell silent at the point and allowed the Imperial to continue, "Before you rudely

    interrupted me," He said, staring darkly at the khajiit, "I was about to say that I saw the tsaesci inches from were you guys were. I

    remained hidden with the rest of my group. I gave the orders to kill the tsaesci, once I realized the tsaesci was a vampire, a being

    we sould not've been tracking. I turned and attempted to tell my group to stop, but I saw no alternative, I burst out and killed the

    tsaesci before my ffeloow silver hand members killed him before I did. It was then that I saw the lizard, a lycanthrope whose soul

    felt... conflicted. I reached into my bag, extracted a bow and arrow, placed some poison on it and shot the arrow into the black wolf. 

     

    Inigo stared at him in complete shock,

    "What happened next?" The imperial said, his face screwed up, "One of my mates saw it, this reforming of the two wolves, I was too

    busy fighting the khajiit with the poisoned dagger I had used on the black wolf. He and his mate, who joined soon after took the

    unconscius lizard and fled for the carriage, obviously outnumbered. As I ordered my archers to shoot, but the carriage was past the

    bridge by the time I gave the order, so the arrows fell like stones as they fell short of their target. I walked over to the Tsaesci, asked

    where the Argoian and khajiit went, he did not answer so I asked again, and again he stayed silent so my sword pierced his scaly

    stomach and the stone wall behind him; he hung like a limp fish, spluttering and choking as I mercilessly watched the life slowly

    leave his body."

     

    Inigo thrust his sword forward, cutting the Imperial's nosee, making him grunt with pain,

    "Don't lie to me, else you want me to leave you stuck to the wall." The imperial looked frightened as his life literally hung on the end

    of a blade, "Where did you get those Akaviri coins?" the khajiit said, gesturing to the open chest.

     

    The imperial gulped loudly and told the last bit of the story,

    "When the spark in the tsaesci's scales grow dim and went out, I searched his body for any spoils." The khajiit snarled at him, "that's

    just the rules of war, take your enemies possessions, whether they be trinkets, furniture, gold, whatever. Those things are free to

    take once someone's opponent has been slain, surely you know that?" The blue khajiit nodded and bade the Imperial continue, "I

    found nothing of value but ten tarnished bronze Akaviri coins."

    Inigo stared at the Imperial in disbelief; he did not know whether this was the truth or a clever rouse,

    "You mean you stole them? They were not yours to take. The creature you killed was my friend Hasir's grandfather." He said snarling

    menacingly as he held the imperial fast by the throat; eyes burning with hatred, "When he hears about this, I'll come back and,

    beleive me, when I do you'll wish you were dead." He thought about this; weighing the options, "On the other hand, I can kill you

    right here and now. I have one more question for you Imperial scum. You said you stole ten identical Akaviri coins, where are the

    other eight?" He asked, he eyes bearing into the Imperial's face.

     

    The imperial, fearing death was near, told the khajiit that the other eight coins were in Fort Fellhammer. Satisfied, the khaiit

    sheathed his sword,

    "Than you," The imperail said, sighed deeply

     

    Inigo snarled at him, showing white teeth as sharp as his sword,

    "You're welcome." He looked at the imperial as he struggled with some force inside of him, "I am sorry my friend but but, I am

    starving I have not eaten anything today, he said, his voice suddenly low and gutteral. His eyes went from orange to red as he bore

    his fangs and bit down on the imperial's neck and drained every last drop of life from him. When he was finished, he looked at the

    dried up raisin that was the Imperial and tossed it aside with such force that the body hit the wall, almost cracking it. 

     

    He did not look back as he exited the mine. No sooner did he set foot outside the mine did his eyes turn back to their pumpinkinish

    shade of orange. His ears flicked up as he heard a roar coming from somewhere above the fort. A dragon landed just feet from him.

    He unsheathed his ebony sword and swung at the beast. The dragon snapped at the khajiit who dodged the gout of flame that

    erupted from the scaly beast's mouth and leapt onto his back, leapt into the air and slashed sideways with his sword. The dragon

    saw this a took to the sky like a great reptilian bird and spoouted flame causing Inigo to take shelter behind a stone wall.

     

    Inigo sheathed his ebony sword and drew his ebony bow, nocked an ebony arrow, peered around the flame-proof barrier and loosed

    an arrow. It flew in an arch through the air and hit the dragon mid-flight. The dragon roared in pain as it fell like a stone to the earth

    below, kicking up dust where it fell. The khajiit fired another well-aimed arrow this time striking the beast's throat. Inigo came out of

    hiding and, sheathing his bow, brandished his ebony sword at the beast and stabbed the dragon in the now open wound on his neck.

     

    The dragon twisted and writhed, trying in vain to free itself from the sword merciless sting but to no avail. With one last pitiful roar,

    the beasts lay still as the grave. Ingio was about to search the dragon for any valuables when a powerful voice rang out causing the

    khajiit to shiver with a chill that had nothing to do with the surrounding air.

     

    The voice sounding as though he could command the entire heavens and earth to do his bidding,

    "Well done in felling the scaly beast, His soul will add greatly to my ever growing power." Inigo looked around for the source of the

    voice and came to the conclusion he must've been hearing things. He found two dragon bones and three dragon scales on the now

    skeletal dragon, put them into his bag and left for the fort to see what Hasir was up to.