C.o.t.W Chapter 93: Between A Rock and A Hard Place

  • Hasir fell into a much needed restful sleep and while his mind was flooded with visions of Kodlak, the maid and the whelps standing

    among their burnt down home, kicking him, quite literally, from the wreckage of the once proud mead hall, he did not let this

    hamper his otherwise mirthful spirits. Hasir instead shifted this dream to a more favorable one, he was back in the hold of Red

    Bramman's ship, the Crimson Wamasu. He got up from where he'd fallen and glanced left and saw the yellow female kitten looking

    at him; wonder in her eyes.


    She leaned forward; as much as she could without the iron bars cutting into her skin and called to the Argonian,

    "Hey, what did the pirates get you for? I was taken away from my parents back in Anequina." Hasir could see she had been crying.

    He wanted to console her but did not dare try it if she was in any way ingenuine. She strenched her hand towards Hasir and,

    instictivly, he reached out and took her hand. She sniffed, "thank you. It's nice to know there are good people aboard this ship and

    not just mean pirates." She said smiling at him as she wiped her eye


    Hasir 'smiled' back at her. He was half expecting her to cry or shrink against the far corner of her cage but she did neither. The

    khajiit cursed herself for being so rude,

    "Oh, er, my name is Leah by the way." Hasir grasped her hand and returned the kind gesture, "Nice to meet you, Leah, my name's

    Hasir. So, er, how do we get out of here?"


    Leah told Hasir that Red Bramman keeps them with him in his cabin. Hasir smiled widely and stuck his tail out of the bars, slithering

    it in the tiny hole and manuvered it around a bit unitl he heard a click and the cage door swinging open. Hasir just laughed at Leah's

    befuddled expression and stuck a claw into the lcok on her cage. The door swung open as it banged into the wall of the hold.


    Hasir looked quickly around him to make sure there were no guards. Hasir snuck out into the corridor and motioned for Leah to

    follow him, she did as he asked. Hasir lockpicked the trapdoor and pushed. The argonian and the khajiit found themselves in the

    grand dining room at the rear of the ship. Leah gapped at the crates belonging to the East Empire Company standing in the corner

    and wanted to investigate further but Hasir shook his head, pointing silently to the door.


    Leah sighed and followed the Argonian out on to deck; all the while thinking 'what a moron.' They saw Red running around the ship

    barking orders at his men as, in the distance a faint outline of a city could be seen,

    "Olik, what's the status of the mainsail? How the wind up there?" He said, staring at the crow's nest atop the mast, "It's blowing

    something pretty feirce Captain but the main sail is unfurled, we should be at Thorn is a couple of minutes Captain... and that city

    looks rife with treasures untold." 


    Red Bramman rubbed his claws together. He knew that by the code of parlay, the treasure must be shared, in equal measure

    amongst the crew and they can spend it as they wished: on more Argonian Ale, supplies for themselves or the ship or, for some lusty

    Argonian maids. It was then that Red noticed Leah and Hasir, "What in the Doomstrider's name are you doing out of your cells, did

    Olik not  lock you in tight enough?"


    Leah snarled and unsheathed her claws, which were as small and as tiny as iron daggers,

    "You dirty seadog, how dare you steal me away from my mom and dad. They will be worried sick if I'm not home soon." 


    Red Bramman roared with laughed at this,

    "Listen, young cat, according to the code, we can not return to a city once we've taken our share forom it."


    Leah advanced on the Captain despite Hasir's best attempts to held her back,

    "Code? What code? I was told of no code when you dump me on your ship!"


    Red smiled and ruffled Leah's fur so that she looked more like a disheveled lion than a khajiit,

    "The code? Why, the code of the Hist, young missy. We'd be daft to go against the code."



    Leah wanted to argue the point but decided against it, she did not want to make matters worse for herself. Red glared at her, eyes


    "Why are you on deck? How did you escape the cells? The key is locked up tight in my quarters. How in Oblivion? Tell me or I'll

    keelhaul both of you.


    Hasir told captain Bramman that he used his tail as a lockpick and then use his claws to pick the second lock on the young khajiit's

    cage. The captain beamed at this, he could use some skullduggery such as this on his travels. He, however, made the mistake of

    chastzing the Argonian for it,

    "You stupid lizard, why would you do a follhardy thing like that? Are you daft?" At this, Hasir began transforming in the light of the

    crescent moon they were sailing under. When the transformation had finished, instead of being afraid like the rest of his crew, Red

    just stood there with a big grin on his face, "Look, sorry about calling you 'stupid lizard,' er, how about we strike a deal?"


    Hasir relaxed as his argonian self took over again. His eyes lit up with the prospect,

    "Join you crew and become a pirate? Nature gods be praised, I've never joined a pirate crew before." He said, his tail dancing

    excitedly behind him.


    Captain bramman grinned broadly as he heard the Argonian's excitement and affirmation of his deal,

    "Great, er, I can honestly say we, the crew and I, have never had a werewolf in our crew before. The added muscle will certainly

    expected us in our, er, endeavors.


    Hasir's brow furrowed,

    "You mean stealing other people's stuff?"


    Bramman roared with laughter and shook his head, his red leaf-like hair swaying in the breeze,

    "Steal is such a... strong word. We preffer to see it as borrowing without permission."

    Hasir gapep at the Argonian captain and wanted to say he saw it differenlty but he was rudely awakened by a furry blue hand gently

    shaking him,

    "Hircine's claws, what is it Inigo, can't you see I was having a nice dream?" He said sleepily, wiping his eyes 


    Inigo nodded and leapt off the bed, causing Hasir to stare at him in surprise,

    "I am sure you haven't forgotten what today is my friend?" He said, griining at him


    Hasir fained stupidity; wanting to return to his dream which he truly relished,

    "Time to go back to sleep?" He said, yawning openly, "Come back in the morning." He said as he rolled over to face the wall opposite


    Inigo laughed as he shook his head. His face suddenly grew dark as the Argonian made to bite him,

    "More like 'time to get up', my friend, it is morning." He said, striding over to the door, "See you upstairs." He said, stifling a snigger

    as he bolted down the hall and upstairs, distancing himself from the chase that would soon follow. The argonian got up, dressed in a

    miner's shirt and brown slacks that Tilma had lain out a night before. Hasir put on the armor and feeling the tightness in the armor

    forcing him to think against it and dropped the armor where he stood. He left the room, heading for the upstairs room. 


    Arriving in the main room of the mead hall, he strode over to a table in the corner, where Inigo sat talking to Affraji-who had

    recently came into the hall after her brief stay at the Bannered Mare-the main inn of this bustling city. Hasir smiled and strode over

    to the table, his tail swinging side to side behind him, and sat down,

    "What are you guys talking about?" He asked as he downed a mug of mead that the blue khajiit had poured him


    Inigo leaned closer to him, "My friend, we were talking about the task that looms before us like an impenetrable blanket of fog.

    Affraji said she would love to bash some undead heads in. Hasir nodded but his mouth started watering as he saw, on the main table

    two empty seats next to Aela and Vilkas along with two suculent meals of venison and two helpings of kwama eggs sunny-side up.

    Hasir inquired who those seats were saved for. He turned as he saw Aela approaching him, holding two plates of vension and

    kwama eggs.


    Hasir asked Aela jokingly if she was kicked out from the main table because she lost a bet. Aela snarled in response,

    "Very funny, you filthy lizard. I, er, came here because Tilam came to me and gestured to your table, wondering why it did not have

    plates on it. Aela turned to leave but Inigo sniggered behind his hand as he watched Aela saunter away. Hasir smacked Inigo on his

    shoulder. The khajiit recoiled in fear, "What was that for? I was only looking my friend, no harm in looking is there?"


    Hasir snarled at Inigo for he knew he was not being truthful. The khajiit's shoulders slumped as he sighed, tittering a little. Hasir

    asked the khajiit what in Tamriel could be so funny,

    "My friend, you may not know this, but," He glanced quickly around to see if anyone was eavesdropping. The other companions

    seemed too busy on their breakfasts to care, " I hypnotized Aela."


    Hasir spat on his Kwama egg so fast it almost hit the blue khaiit,

    "You what?" He gasped, "If she ever finds out, you will be in more than just hot water with her," He whispered, shocked, a finger

    pointed at the fiery-haired Nord, "By Oblivion, you will be in hot lava... as in Aela will personally send you to Coldharbour."

    "But enough of that." Hasir said, waving his hands. He turned to Affraji, the leopard-spotted khajiit put her fork down and looked up

    from her meal, Yes, does Argonian want something with Affraji? Hasir asked her if she can tell him more of Red Bramman. Affraji's

    brow creased as she huffed impatiently, "Can't it wait until later, as you can see this one is eating and she does not answer questions

    on an empty stomach." 


    Hasir shook his head and looked, sadly at the khajiit,

    "No, it can't. Before you get you whiskers in a tangle, let me explain."


    He explained that he needed to know more about the seafaring Saxheel that he heard the other night because he had had two

    dreams about him, both occuring on seperate nights. He also explained what transpired in those dream. When he''d finished his

    explanation, Affraji's amber eyes grew from almonds to juniper berries.


    She looked at Hasir, a black eyebrow raised,

    "Is Argonian sure of this? You saw Bramman in your dreams, he treated you badly and who was this yellow khajiit inside a cage? Did

    she have a name?"


    Hasir nodded and eyedd the lepordine khajiit with a knowing smile,

    "Yes, I do. Her name was.... Leah."

     Inigo's ears perked up at this. He'd never heard of his mother's childhood. He wondered if the hatchling that would become his

    father was aboard the ship as well. He asked the argonian if any word of his father was mentioned in his, Hasir's dream. Hasir shook

    his head again and told the impertenent khajiit that he'd olny seen Leah as she was in the hold in a cage next to his, he'd not even

    set foot on the deck  of the ship, well, he did but he woke up before he'd any chance of further exploration.


    Both Inigo and Affraji looked at him shocked,

    "Did you at least see any part of the deck before you awoke?" They said in unison


    Hasir's eyes were unfocused for a time; as if the dream he'd had the night previous was a fish that was constantly eluding him,

    "Only thing I remember before I woke was Bramman getting excited when I transformed into wolf form. He'd said that he did not

    have a werewolf in his crew before and that my unique ability, unseen by any pirate on Tamriel, would useful prove in their coming



    Both khajiit looked at the argonian as if he suffered some kind of greivous head wound,

    "What are these 'endeavors' exactly?"


    Hasir said he'd guessed that the 'endeavors' meant plundering and pillaging cities; looking for anything of value that they, the

    pirates, could get their filthy claws on: tools for their ship, women for them to defile and Argonian ale. The Khajiit slammed down his

    mug in a fit of anger, "Filthy pirates, they think they can go into cities and raid, plunder and pillage whenever they please. Someone

    should hang them for their wrongdoings. In the process of wiping off mead that sprayed during the mini-outburst, Affraji shot his a

    discouraging look. She punched Inigo in the shoulder while holding a dagger above Inigo's tail with the other hand, "You'd better

    apologize to Hasir and Affraji right now for splashing us with the foul smelling liquid. Oh, and while she is at it, care to tell Affraji why

    blue khajiit dislikes pirates? Besmirching pirates means besmirching Affraji's ancestors... and she'll not let that stand." 


    Hasir grabbed for a cloth in his bag that sat in the empty chair to relieve Affraji and himself from the sticky amber liquid, After

    blindly gropping around for a few seconds, he found one and proceeded to soaking the mead into the cloth. He cast Affraji an

    apologetic look while he passed her the damp leather cloth so she could do the same removal of mead from her body.


    Inigo bowed his head; he knew Affraji's words had some truth to them. He turned to Hasir, brought the mug to his lips and paused,

    remembering his overidulgance of the vile drink many moons ago,

    "What in Oblivion am I doing?" He thought. Disgusted with himself, he placed the mug back on the table, "Hasir would you mind

    finishing whatever is left, I... am reminded of how much I despise mead... and, sorry."


    The argonian did not ask why the khajiit hated mead. He knew full well the events of months past where the khajiit was drunker

    than a scrib who accidentally fell into a vat of mead,

    "Inigo, it is all water under the bridge and I will neither ask nor fault you for it. But I must ask, what in Oblivion are you apologizing


    Inigo grinned; thanking his friend for nnot breaching the dreaded topic. He stared at the Argonian who had just down what was left

    of Inigo's mug of mead with apologetic eyes, "I am sorry for spilling mead all over you and Affraji, I should've never brought my

    emotions into this, and for that, I am truly sorry."


    Hasir shook his head; stating no apology was nessecary. He smiled as he saw Inigo smiled back. He got up as Inigo walked over to

    the kitchen to see if they had another beverage for him to indulge in. Hasir's smile faded as he looked over at Affraji, patted her

    arm that rested on the table and said that it was wrong for Inigo to say that about her grandfather and that he should've kept those

    thoughts to himself.


    The khajiit smiled back. She was glad she had someone at the table who was not hard-headed and ignorant,

    "Thank you Argonian, your words are like warm sand between this one's toes." Hasir's face turned a light shade of crimson at these

    words, "You wanted to hear more of Red Bramman, yes?" She asked him curiously. He nodded. 


    The Argonian looked toward the door that led to the training yard,

    "Affraji, can we go somewhere more... private to continue our conversation?"


    She raised a thin brown eyebrow, looking all aroud the hall for someone Hasir couldn't see, much less smell,

    "Why, is somethhing bothering Hasir? If there is Affrajji will fix it. Is the insolent blue khajiit bothering you? Speaking of that one,

    she wonders where he went."


    The Argonian shrugged,

    "I dunno, I just want somewhere where we won't be," "He jerked his head is the direction of the kitchen, "...interrupted."

    Affraji nodded and followed Hasir out onto the porch of the meadhall. She made sure to leave before Inigo became curious and

    asked where his scaly friend went. The leopard-spotted khajiit found the grinning Argonian sitting at the picnic table and sat down

    across from him.


    The khajiit looked at Hasir with the fire of knowledge burning in her eyes,

    "Argonian, This one hasn't told you about Red Bramman, and for that, Affraji apologizes." She said, putting her hand on her chest

    and bowing toward the shocked Argonian.


    Hasir shrugged this off like a dog trying to rid itself of fleas,

    "You don't have to apologize, I..."


    Affraji narrowed her eyes at him, putting her hand up which forced Hasir to thump back down on the bench,

    "I do, actually, because Affraji felt terrible that she didn't continue the tale after Hasir interrupted her." She sighed and bowed her

    head, "This one is so sorry." She raised her head, taking severral deep breaths to compose herself, "But, she is prepared to tell Hasir

    to rest of the tale." 


    Hasir turned from the khajiit, looking at the mead hall door which opened and a blue khajiit walked out and sat beside the Argonian, 

    "I was looking all over the mead hall for you guys, where in Oblivion did you go?"


    Hasir was going to answer that but Affraji cut across him,

    "The argonian was just showing Affraji how to use the wooden dummies." She lied, winking at Hasir


    Inigo's eyes narrowed. Hasir, affirming the 'story' that Affraji had told, nodded and patted the seat beside him,

    "Good to see you Inigo," He said, tail swaying behind him, "Come join us and Affraji'll tell you about how this one trained him in the

    way of the sword."

    Inigo roared with laughter as he shook his head, eyeing her with big, round pumpkin-like eyes that seemed to see through her


    "Come on Affraji, out with it. We both know that you already know how to use a sword. So what is the deal? Come on, you can tell

    me." He said, grinning toothily.


    Affraji shook his head and hissed angrily at him. Inigo recoiled as if he were a rabbit cornered by a very hungry wolf,

    "No." She barked as she pointed to the door, "khajiit should leave. now. before he sees how sharp her claws are." She snarled,

    unsheating her claws.


    Inigo resumed his seat and stared at Affraji, not speaking. Afffraji grunted, not finding Inigo's silence genuine. She thought he was

    biting a retort about her grandfather. She looked at Hasir and brushed the long dreadlcoks out of her face,

    "Red Bramman and his crew attacked coastal cities along the Topal bay, mercilessly illing people who try to withold their treasures

    from them. She told him that one such villager family fought against them and Bramman decided to kidnap their daughter, brought

    back to his ship and watched as her parents' blood spilled into the water as their bodies were dumped overboard."


    Hasir cringed a bit; the Red Bramman in his dream certainly wasn't THIS brutal,

    "Scared argonian?" Affraji asked, striding up and down the porch, "This one would consider Argonian bizarre if he wasn't. You eyes

    hold another question and yes, the crew did pillage the village, leaving houses bare and their inhabitants dead." To solidify this fact,

    she dragged a claw across her throat." Hasir asked above the treausre they stole and what they did with it. The leopsrdine khajiit

    grinned as if she'd just found out a particulary dirty secret, "Ah, yes, Argonian wonders this too, yes? Affraji is not sure but she

    thinks their is a cave along the coast where Bramman and his crew operated."


    Hasir thought on this. He'd never, in his dream, heard of any mention of where Bramman hid the treasure he took from coastal

    cities. Come to this of it, he'd never heard of any of Red Bramman's wrongdoings. All he was told, in his dream, was that Bramman

    thought him an asset to his crew on their next 'endeavor.' 


    Affraji stared at him in shock at this. She speak over a minute trying to find her voice,

    "Hasir was shanghaied into Bramman's crew, This one understands it is just a dream, but why?"


    Hasir looked at her, his face darkened as he shook his head,

    "They said they'd never seen a werewolf before... wait a minute. didn't I already tell you this?"


    Affraji thought on this a bit and decided he had. She gaze to the meadhall door,

    "Shall we go back inside? This one is extremely thirsty. She'll even buy Argonian and khajiit a drink. A favor for a favor, yes?" Hasir

    nodded, saying this was acceptable. Affraji looked at Inigo who held up his mug, the brown liguid half gone. They went inside and

    took they seats at the table they had vacated moments before. Affraji went to sit with them but stopped as she saw two mugs just

    sitting on the horseshoe table. She grinned, picked them up went into the kitchen and filled them from one of the wooden mead

    barrels that stood next to the sink."


    Affraji sat down with her mugs. She slid one across the table to the Argonian and took a swig from hers and set it on the table. She

    cast a sidelong glance at the horshoe table where the circle members were sitting enjonying a lunch or venison chops and mead.

    Kodlak got up for his seat and becokened for the three creatures to join them; they did so. Inigo sat next to Farkas, Hasir next to

    Aela and Affraji next to Vilkas. 


    Everyone was silent; the companions focus more on the meals than anything else. Aela broke the silence with a growl,

    "Harbinger, why do I have to sit next to this, er, flea ridden scoundrel?" She then added in an undertone so that the circle wouldn't

    hear her, "who should've gone home when he had the chance."


    Vilkas roared with laughter at this. This act alone caused Aela to grow red in the face,

    "So I guess getting the blue khajiit to hypnotize you was all for naught then?" Aela looked away from the stubborn Argonian

    and punched Vilkas in the face so hard he toppled out of his chair onto the floor, mead spilling down his front.


    Aela roared with laughter as she thumped the table with her fist,

    "Well, that's what you get for making fun of something," Her eyes found Inigo who cowered before her accusing gaze, her mouth

    forming into a malicious snarl, "that ought to've been kept secret." 


    Her gaze returned to Vilkas, who righted his chair, putting the mug on the table in front of him and grinned stupidly. Aela gave up on

    him and returned to glaring at the Argonian. The argonian looked at the harbinger and grinned; glad he had some reprieve from the

    fiery-hard nord's equally fiery temper. Aela huffed in annoyance and turned her eyes on the harbinger. She was not the only one to

    do so. Every member of the circle turned toward him; except Hasir and Inigo who were just whelps, and Affraji who was not even a



    Kodlak cleared his throat. He shot Aela a scathing look,

    "Aela, please stop torturing Hasir and Vilkas." He saiid in anger. Kodlak started to speak but Hasir stood up and called for silence.

    The room fell silent as the Argonian told them of both the priests of domination and the conduits of nature destruction. Hasir told the

    companions that Inigo, Affraji, another Argonian named Mere-Glim and a high elf named Ceralyne already defeated one of the

    guardians of the first conduit. 


    Kodlak thrust his hand in his trousers pocket, unfurling a map on the table and glancing at the companions over the map. He

    beckoned the Argonian forward and pointed out the marked locations for each of the priests of domination. The harbinger handed

    the map to Hasir and told him to mark the locations of the destruction conduits. The argonian found a charcoal piece next to the map

    and drew black circles around the dwemer ruins of Blackreach and Kagrenzel. His face screwed up his face and drew a circle on the

    supposed spot of Krovaxis, Molag Bal's temple.


    Kodlak handed Hasir the map. The argonian smiled and thanked him. He folded up the map neatly and placed it in his pocket, sure

    he'd be needing it later and sat back down next to Aela, grinning as though he had just found the cure for Yellow Fever.


     Aela looked at him confues as to why he was grinning like an idiot,

    "Why are you so happy, Is it perhaps because you've decided to leave?" She laughed but Kodlak shot her a disapproving glance and

    shook his head, "My word, girl, why must you always be so mean to those different than you? It's unhealthy to think like that, you



    Aela shrugged this off a the Argonian unfolded the map and placed it in the center of the table some everyone could see it,

    "No you daft nord! I was grinning because We are finally going forward with our plan to destroy Molag Bal. It's the classic 'get him

    before he gets us' scenario." Aela just huffed in anger and sat in silence while the Argonian split the duties amongst himself, Inigo,

    Affraji and the circle of the companions. 


    With alll their duties decided upon, Hasir yawned and glanced up at the starry sky visible in the cracks of the boat that served as the

    roof of the mead hall,

    "But, by Hircine am I tired. We can reconvene this meeting tomorrow as we set out of our different destinations, yes?" He looked

    around the room to see nords either yawning from tiredness or nodding their affirmation. Hasir folded the map up, placed it into his

    pocket and headed down to the undercroft with the other companions.


    He got to his room where he found Inigo already asleep; his tail visible under the wolf furred covers. He smiled and saw, in the bed

    next to the nightstand lay affraji her beweled drealocks barely visible as her yellow furred head lay on the pillow. He grinned

    satisfactorily to himself as he got into his own bed, wriggling under the covers. His last noticable thought before drifting off to sleep

    was I wonder how in Oblivion I am to whip the companions into a cohesive unit? They, especially that Aela, are as different as flint

    iand oil.

    Hasir rolled over and went straight to sleep, hearing nothing but the snores coming from Inigo's bed. A few seconds later, Hasir

    found himself in the cabin on the aftdeck; sitting at the long table with Red Bramman at the table's head. Sitting on either side of

    him were his crewmembers: a muddy green Argonian named Olik who wore black shoes, brown trousers and a miner's shirt, a

    surly looking Khajiit named J'adrie wearing a matching outfit as Olik. Silmilarly dress were the Argonians on Bramman's left side

    named Keel and Xihm. 


    Hasir smiled at Leah who sat next to him, feeling nervous and reassured her. He looking across the table at J'adrie and gave an

    awkward smile. The khajiit male ignored him and looked, instead at Bramman who stood up and adressedd the crew,

    "Lads, I am proud to announce that we now have have two new crewmembers with us tonight," He gestured to the green Argonian

    sitting five seats away from him and the small kitten next to the Argonian, "Gents, raise your mugs as we give thesee wayward souls

    a proper weclome."


    Hasir didn't know whether him being shanghaied into the crew against his will was a good idea or not; nevertheless, both he and

    Leah stood with the captian and his crew, mugs in hand. They raised their mugs in salute and drank just as the crew had done

    moments before. He shivered as the rrepulsive drink made its way down his esophagus. With every last drop of ale drained from

    their mugs, both Hasir and Leah resumed their seats just as the captain and the crew had done. 


    Red Bramman reached for a plate full of rolls and apples, plucked a juicy green apple from the plate and bit into it. While he

    munched on it, he looked to his crew, gesturing to the food,

    "Well, don't just stand on ceremony, eat, you earned it, especially after that successful raid on Thorn a few nights previous. You'll

    need your strength for our next job."


    The crew, mouth's watering, reached for any bit of food they could reach and began stuffing their mouths. Hasir and Leah

    glanced around the table and cringed a bit as everyonee even the khajiit, who Hasir had previously thought were civil people,

    obsessed with manners and cleanliness, stuffed his face with anything that was within reach: apples, meat, rolls and berries. He

    nearly gagged as he saw the fangs greedily tear into the food, letting the juices from said food dripped down his chin with nary a



    Hasir grimaced a bit as he reached for a plate of grapes sitting near the center of the table; afraid he might be berated for being

    rude. Hasir's black claw just managed to pinch the skin of the one of the grapes when Red Bramman cleared his throat, Bramman

    got up and strode up and down beside the table looking at each crewmember,

    "Mates, I heard from the Wolves of the Sea, a council that you lot now swear loyalty to since I've rescue you from your years of

    unjust slavery, this includes you two, Hasir, Leah," He said, narrowing his eyes as he pointed to the little kitten and the wayward



    He cleared his throat and continued, "You see, the pirate commitee pass down all our marks including villages to seize treasure from,

    the most valuable loot and the ships that have equally valuable treasure aboard. The commitee is bound by the code of the Hist, as

    are those of us theives that sail the seas, not that we are thieves mind you, we justdo it to make abetter life for ourselves; Xuth to

    those that think otherwise, namely the East Empire Company and the ruling empress."


    Olik glanced hard at his captain, unsheathing his dagger and stabbing it into the table,

    "For the love of the hist, stop skirting around the issue for howling out loud and tell us what we need to know."

     Red Bramman told them that the flagship in the Imperial navy, the Sea Dragon, is currently moored in Windhelm, in the province of

    Skyrim. Aboard that ship lay the treasure of the legendary pirate lord Captain Blackhear, who struck a deal with Molag Bal to make

    him undead. Hasir cocked his head in a thoughtful manner. Bramman nodded at him,

    "Aye, he struck the deal because he was dying of brain rot; 'tis a frightfully debilating disease that makes the brain fry in the skull

    like a slaughterfish egg cooking over an open fire. You'll not live long, deteriating before your loved ones' eyes, not even achieving

    the glory that is old age. Saadly, most victims die within their second decade on Nirn." He bowed his head and closed his eyes, "Such

    a fate is tragic, more tragic even than dying while being keelhauled."


    Hasir creased his forehead,

    "Keelhauled? What in Oblivion is that?" He asked perplexed


    Bramman opened his eyes, looked at Hasir and told him that 'Keelhauling' meant throwing a disloyal seadog overboard when tied to

    the bow and drags him beneath the ship while the ragged coral and the frigid temperatures of the sea rips and and freezes the skin.

    He said if the scurvy scoundrel isn't torn apart or frozen to death by the frigid temperatures, he is left in the brig where he slowly

    goes mad and ultimately, takes his own life.. 


    Hasir cringed horribly and this and instead asked of Blackheart's treasure. Bramman and his crew took turn describing, in great

    detail, the treasure they longed to get their claws on. Bramman instructed his men to go below and get some sleep for tomorrow

    they would set out for Windhelm. The crew acknoledged and went below to a room the Argonian and khajiit had never seen before

    where brown lengths of cloth were suspended between wooden poles that support the aftdeck of the ship. The crew scrambled into

    their hammocks and were fast asleep by the time he and Leah crawl into theirs. Hasir thought about the treasure aboard the Sea

    Dragon and why exactly Red Bramman wanted it. He smiled to himself as sleep drapped over him like a warm blanket.

     Hasir awoke to not the sounds of scurring feet as the went above deck, but the silence of the mead hall. He glanced to his left and

    saw two new bodies accompanying the beds across from him. Everyone got up and dressed, Hasir lay their, the events of his dream

    still fresh in his mind, trying to sort it all out when Inigo walked over and asked him if he was about to make good on the promise

    they, the companions, agreed upon the night previous.


    Hasir's brow furrowed as he put on his armor. He approached the bedstand, took the jug of water and drained half of it,

    "What promise? I don't recall making a promise to you." He said screwing up his face in thought. "Come to think of it, we've not yet

    finished deicided who was going to do what yet." 


    Inigo started walking to the door and gestured for the Argonian to follow him,

    "Well then, come on. We can decide those matters over breakfast. The members of the circle are probably waiting for us as we

    speak." He grinned at Hasir as he walked past him.


    When they walked into the main room of the mead hall, Hasir and Inigo saw the other companions and the harbinger already sitting

    at the table waiting for them. The Astonished argonian and the blue khajiit took their places at the table. The Argonian took the

    map out of his trouser pocket and placed it on the wooden surface pointing to it and barking instructions to each Compoanion,

    "Farkas, you'll go to Labyrinthian and tackle Morokei, Vilkas, you'll go to Valthume and tackle Havnoraak," He stopped and glanced

    over to two chairs next to Vilkas, 'Ceralyne, Rakel, when in Oblivion did you get here?" Hasir waved a hand in front of his face,

    "Never Mind, you guys can take down... Otar and Nahkriin both found at Valthume north of Markath." He turned and gestured to

    Kodlak, "harbinger, go to Volskygge and tackle Volsung." He turned to the grisled grey-har=ired nord at the chair next to the fire,

    "Skjor, you are to go to High Gate Ruins and kill Vokun." He stood up and adressed the room at large, "right, now you have your

    tasks, now get to it. When the temple door openes," He said, smirking, "we'll strike out properly to cripple Molag Bal."


    Kodlak raised a bushy white eyebrow and look confusedly at the overconfident Argonian,

    "Erm... Hasir, I would join you but if I go who in Oblivion will run the mead hall? Not only that but where do you, Inigo and Affraji fit

    into all of this?"


    Hasir froze; he 'd not expected the harbinger to see this possible snag in his plan. The argonian quickly turned around and stared at

    the harbinger,

    "Kodlak, Ingio, Affraji and I will've the most important job of all. We've got the task to destroy the dwarven conduits to save the Nirn

    from slowly being killed; thereby killing everything Lycanthropes hold dear."

    Vilkas snigger,

    "Erm, what do deer have to do with this?"


    Hasir sighed, shooting Vilkas a dirty look that he hoped Aela and Farkas did not see,

    "I said 'dear' not 'deer' you moron, get your head out your ass for howling out loud, hsss!"


    Hasir closed his eyes, putting his hands on the table, trying to compose himself, "Anyway, before I wass rudely interrupted," He

    snarled, glaring at Vilkas, "I was about to say that the tree of Kynareth and the plants and animals that feed off of Kynareth's sacred

    symbol would die. We, Inigo, Affraji and I will do our damndest to prevent that from happening by going to three locations; he

    pointed to each with a black claw. "Blackreach" He gestured to the west of Red Road Pass, "Mzinchaleft" He gestured to the

    northwest of Red Road Pass, "Finally, after we've destroyed those conduits, we'll go here, where the final conduit is." He gestured to

    a cave in the center on an island in the center of sea of ghosts.  

    There was a thunderous sound of chairs scraping on wood as the members of the circle started to go to the main door of the hall

    when, the man, introduced as Farengar steeped out from the shadows, smiling at them all and told the circle members that they

    should go to the training yard for more training. Vilkas put up a hand to stop the other circle members and made them look at him,

    "You clumsy oaf," Aela said, looking at him in an annoyed manner, "Why've you stopped?" She gestured to the main door, "As you

    may've not noticed, we're going to various barrows to put an end to the priests of domination," She shrugged, "Unless you want Nirn

    to fall under control of Molag Bal." She said smiling wryly. 


    Vilkas shook his head vigorously and nodded at the court wizard to expand upon his plan,

    "The dragon priests, er, 'priests of domination' as you call them are fast, faster than you can believe and so, we, er, I mean I have to

    quicken your reflexes and also..." He trailed off. Vilkas finished his thought for him, "and will we, the circle I mean, have to learn

    magickal defenses and spells as well?"


    Farengar shrugged and smiled, as if he knew something they did not,

    "Well, it couldn't hurt, besides, the priests of domination are powerful magickal beings. Swords, shields and bows, well unenchanted

    one=s anyway, will be as useless against them as getting a dead wolf to play fetch. The blacksmith might have an enchanted bow for

    Aela, since she is utter rubbish with magic." He turned to Farkas and Vilkas, "You lot have the physique of warriors, but, the question

    here is do you have the aptitude, "He glanced over at Vilkas, who was digging in his ear with the hilt of his sword, "or the wit to

    attempt to cast spells. " He smiled and blindly fired a fireball at Farkas, Hasir jumped in front of him to attempt to shield the nord

    from the incoming inferno, snarled and shot an answering fireball back at the court wizard.


    Farengar got up attempting to stem the spread of the flames; a spout of water erupted from his hand and he doused the flame and

    glared at the offending Argonian, "Hasir, that... was uncalled for. I was expecting Farkas to shield himself; I did not need you

    thinking I was attacking him, you stupid mud for brains. 


    Hasir snarled at this. Farengar grinned, catching the Argonian offguard as did his next choice of words,

    "Hasir are you volunteering to train the blue khajiit and the circle in spellcraft?" His eyes scanned Hasir's blue one, seeing no trace of

    him having understood this


    Hasir's eyes narrowed and syballated a long hiss, either exrpessing his anger or his annoyance. Argonians are very tough nuts to

    crack. Especially by those who cannot read their relatively 'bland' facial expressions and vocalizations,


    "I'm sssorry, excusse me? Care to run that by me again?" He asked. Farengar again said he would be the perfect candidate to train

    the circle and the blue khajiit in spellcraft, not only that but..." His voice taled away as his eyes fell upon a table with various

    weapons on it: bows, swords, greatswords, maces and daggers; they had been brought in by Eorlund the night before because he

    overhead Farengar and Kodlak talking earlier that day about how the Argonian had proved to be a valuable asset to the Companions

    in the past months, and smiled, "you'll also train them in the art of weaponry," Hasir raised a spiky eyebrow, "at least, er, the

    weapons which each person isn't provicient in: For the blue khajiit that'd be the sword, Aela the daggers, Farkas, the greatsword and

    finally the sword and shield for Vilkas.


    Aela and Vilkas looked confused and looked at Kodlak as if he'd say their primary weapons were fine but to their surprise, he didn't.

    Begrudgingly, they went over to the table, grabbed their secondary weapons and followed Farengar and the reluctant Argonian out

    into the training yard. Farengar wnet down by the training dummies and conjured five priests of domination and gestured to Hasir

    once they were all lined up opposite thier dragon priests.


    Farengar went up to a seat on the proch and sat down, giving the floor to Hasir. Back on the cobblestone, the companions stared at

    Hasir expecting him to do something. Hasir, on the other hand, wished he was anywhere else at that moment; A small voice in his

    head told he'd do spectacularly,


    Hasir smiled and cleared his thought, raised his sword, jumped and turned around in mid air to dodge the fireball and swung the

    sword, perfectly deflecting the fireball as it clanged off the metal blade. The dragonpriest snarled as the smell of burnt cloth filled its

    'nostrils.' Hasir, seeing the dragonpriest distracted, leapt into the air and, in one fluid motion, cut off the priests head, it soared

    through the air and thudded to the ground beside Inigo who shrieked in terror. Inigo went to kick the head but just as he pulled his

    left leg back, it disappeared and he caught the female nord in the shin.


    Aela cursed as she hopped on the spot and made a rude gesture as she snarled at Inigo,

    "Inigo, what do you think you're doing?" She said clipping the insolent khajiit on the back of the head, "Will you stop acting like an

    idiot and pay attention to Hasir, will you? It might just save your life."


    Inigo nodded and turned his attention to the Argonian who wanted the other companions to emulate what he'd just showed them.

    Aela performed the maneuver flawlessly while the two brothers managed to stab each other with the swords instead of their

    dragonpriests and Inigo hit the training dummy instead of the target he was meant to be fighting.  

    Aela fell over, roaring with llaughter. Hasir, who stood beside the roaring nord, groaned,

    "Well I guess that training dummy won't be bothering us anymore." She said as she eyed the snarling khajiit


    Hasir walked to and fro behind the combatans, offering either praise or correction as he went. He praise Aela for exeptional use of

    the daggers she picked; as for Inigo, Vilkas and Farkas, he berated them for their dimwittedness. Hasir told Aela to go sit on the

    porch while he called for Farengar to reconjure all except his and Aela's dragonpriests. The Argonian walked behind the three

    remaining combatants and told the twins and the blue khajiit that they should discard the weapon they were given and use the

    weapon they fight the best with.


    Inigo thanked Hasir and said he would've been rubbish with the sword. Hasir stared at the training dummy who had been cut but

    none of them serious enough to deal a killing blow. Hasir smiled and gripped the khajiit's shoulder lightly,

    "No problem, Inigo." He took a few stteps away from his friend and went up on the porch, sitting in the chair by the door as he

    watched the fruits of his labor.


    When all was said and done, the Argonian smiled and congratulated all of them for using what they know instead of taking a stab in

    the dark using weapons they hadn't practiced at all with. Every including Inigo beamed back at him as the training 'dragonpriest'

    turned into ash. Farengar grinned at the proud Argonian who grinned back and gestured them to reconvene back inside the mead


    Hasir went inside before the rest of the companions, walked to the mead keg and poured out five mugs of mead and handed them to

    each of the companions,

    "To adventure and, hopfully,," He said crossing his claws, "the end of Molag Bal's nature destroying regime."


    The companions banged their mugs full of frothy liquid together and lowered them. Inigo did not remove his mug from the table; he

    raised a bushy black eyebrow as he looked worriedly at Hasir,

    "My friend, er, what if we can't end his reign of terror? What I mean by that is what if something more terrible than Molag Bal

    manifests itself?"


    Hasir stared at the blue khajiit, studying him as he took a swig of mead,

    "Inigo, there are two problems with your theory." He held up two fingers of his mug-free hand, "One oncece Molag Bal is dead,

    the spirits of nature will make it so that the daedric lords will never bother us again." He put the first finger down,"Two, You have no

    reason to fear the priests of domination you will do fine. I feel like I've done a tremendous job at training you lot," Hasir smiled to

    himself as he drained the rest of his mead. 


    Aela smiled at the Argonian saying that she caught the priest of domination in the eye of the mask it was wearing, causing it to

    flicker between Nirn and Oblivion. She grabbed the decanter in the middle of the table and poured herself another mug of mead.

    Inigo had to look away from her to fight the impulsion to swipe her mug and pour out the golden liquid. Hasir sat down next to the

    blue khajiit and congratulated him on his restraint and then he staring discussing the plan with the blue and the yellow khajjits, the

    latter picked up a mug of mead and sat beside the Argonian.


    They put their heads together and talked in hushed tones. Hasir took out another map from his pocket, this one had dwemer

    symbols, a picture of a dwemer machine like the one they had seen and destroyed in runoff caverns; this one, howver had arrows

    coming from the main shaft of the machine and arrows lead off to two more dwemer ruins and the exact room they could be found.

    As for the third though, Hasir guessed there was a seperate map, or at the very least a sketch of the temple's exterior, which, if I

    may say, won't open if the companions," He glanced toward Aela, Farkas and Vilkas, "Have so much as one brain amongst them to

    destroy all eight priests." 


    Hasir replaced the map in his pocket and stood up,

    "Alright, you two have your oders," He said in a tone befitting general Tullius, "now get to it."


    He, Affraji and Inigo followed the companions out into the city of Whiterun and together, walked down the steps tto the city's main

    gate. Once out on the plains in front of the city, Inigo gestured to the the three nords walking down to the stables where Bjorlam


    "My friend, why are we not going with them?" Hasir snarled at Inigo, told him not to ask questions he already knows the answer to.

    Inigo held up his hands as if supporting an invisble wall, "Whoa, easy my friend, I was just asking, no need to bite my head off." He

    said, "Of course I know we would not be going with them, but, er, is there anyone around that we can ask to get directions to

    Blackreach and Kagrenzel?" 


    Hasir rolled his eyes at the dumbass khajiit,

    "Inigo, I have the map memorized, we don't need any directions."


    Inigo looked at him and chuckled to himself as they followed the nords down the cobblestone path to the stables, 

    "Sure, whatever you say myfriend. And what if your memory faills you, what then?"


    Hasir pulled out the dwemer map from his pocket,

    "If worse comes to worse, I'll check the locations on this." He said, tapping the map with a clawed finger.


    Hasir mounted up on his Walwa ravager and the two khajiit took the two avaibale horses. The khajiit paid Skulvar the required gold

    and followed Hasir out of the stables and into the plain of Whiterun wondering if the Argonian was either barking mad or if he really

    did know where to go. Shrugging, they followed him off to gods know where.