C.o.t.W Chapter 100: The Cost of Freedom

  • Inigo lead them down the bank of the White river. Hasir thought they were going to stop by the Chapel of the Wild Hunt to consult

    Hircine but Inigo's horse turned right at the upward facing steel horse and went past the throat of the world  to a city that the

    Argonian had never been to. I was a small hamlet that lay to the south of Rorikstead and Morthal. He'd been to both cities before. He

    found it a bit strange that Inigo did not divulge this location to anyone. It was as if his nose knew exactly where they would find

    news of the Doomstrider's whereabouts; either that or this tiny settlement had Molag Bal worshippers that knew where he was. 

     

    Hasir looked sidelong at Inigo as his horse trotted alongside the khajiit's,

    Inigo, are you sure about this? I mean your nose could be lying, it could be sending us into a trap that we are unaware of."

     

    Inigo said nothing but gripped the reins tightly in his hands and broke into a gallop. Bewildered, Hasir and Affraji galloped after him

    They soon came upon a dreary looky village that just about hugged the Elsweyrian border. Inigo dismounted his stad and asked the

    guard that stood there if the village had a stable. In response, the guard shook his head,

    "We don't have a stable here, but if you follow the road north," He gestured northwardd with an outstretched finger, "You'll reach

    Rorikstead. I am sure they have somewhere for your steeds. If not there, you can always... stable them at the monastery that lies at

    the top of the nearby mountain," He fixed Inigo with a concerned look, "if you can brave the many perils on the way up the seven

    thousand steps."

     

    Inigo lookd at the guard as if he were appraising a pile of dung,

    "Are you kidding? My fleas will've frozen to death long before I complete that journey."

     

    Inigo ignored the guard, lead his horse back to where the Argonian sat, astride his horse, and gestured to a rundown house a short

    way to the north,

    "Why don't you and the yellow khajiit tie your horses, as well as mine, to the posts supporting the structure. Once that's done, you

    can join me in the local inn and we can discuss our next move and," He dropped his voice to a whisper, "We can, possibly, question

    the inn patrons for information about the Doomstrider."

     

    Hasir did as Inigo asked and tied his, Affraji's and Inigo's horses to two poles on either side of the entryway with some leather strips

    he had procured on his way to Markarth and headed into the settlement after Affraji and Xelzaz. They found Inigo at the Falkreath

    inn, Deadman's Drink, sitting at a table near the door. Hasir, Xelzaz and Affraji sat down next to him.

     

    Inigo inquired as to whether the inn had any food or drink as he was really hungry. This concern was echoed by everyone at the

    table. Hasir sighed and went up to the counter where he saw the bartender, Narri, a female nord, cleaning a mug. She glanced up at

    him and smiled, putting the clean mug beneath the counter,

    "Hello and welcome to Deadman's drink. Pick your posion." She chortled at her own joke. Hasir rolled his eyes and said that he

    is an Argonian and they are immune to poison.

     

    She asked, coldly, if Argonians had a sense of humor. Hasir turned his head and hissed at her,

    "That is how we greet people at Deadman's Drink, I meant no offense."

     

    Hasir's expression softened and he ordered a mug of juniper berry mead, a mug of spiced apple cider, and two regular meads. The

    female nord asked if he would like to order any food. He nodded and ordered four apple and cabbage stews. Hasir walked back to his

    table and sat down and started speculating where the Doomstrider might be.

     

    Inigo lent in close to the Argonian to offer his opinion on the matter,

    "My friend, We've been talking and we decided - well Affraji was the one who thought this - that the Doomstrider has holed himself

    up in Frostflow lighthouse for some reason." 

     

    Hasir eyed him curiously as he distributed the drinks,

    "You mean that creepy lighthouse near Winterhold?" He asked as he sat down next to the blue khajiit

     

    Inigo nodded and sipped his spiced cider. The smart blue cat frowned at the brownish-tan liquid swirling in his mug,

    "This drink is nice, but it's missing a crucial ingredient." Hasir started to ask what it was when Inigo produced a sweetroll seemingly

    out of nowhere and dropped it into the mug. Hasir screwed up his face in disgust and told Inigo that the flavors will be overpowered

    by a creamy, sweet taste, asked Inigo if he wanted that - to destroy the recipe.

     

    Inigo eyed him, took a sip from his newly created drink and nearly vomited. Disgusted, he pushed the mug away from him,

    "Eugh! You're right, my friend. Sweetrolls do not belong in cider." He said. Hasir went to grab the mug but Inigo dipped a hand

    into the liquid, withdrew the soggy sweetroll and devoured it.

    Hasir looked, stunned, at Inigo as searched the khajiit's bag. Finding no more sweetrolls, he raised an eyebrow,

    "Inigo... I thought you quit eating sweetrolls. Remeber that time in Langley's cabin? Do you really want to go through that again?"

     

    Xelzaz and Affraji lookd at each other and shrugged; they had no idea that Inigo had a sweetroll addiction problem. Of course, they

    had not been there in the cabin when Inigo went crazy the first time. Inigo sipped his spiced cider, bit of sweetroll still in it, and

    looked, wide-eyed, at the khajiit and the two argonians. Hasir eyed him while he sipped his juniper berry mead,

    "Inigo..." He said, sighing, "We are only trying to help. You have to admit you have a problem. That is the first step." He crossed his

    scaly arms acrossed his chest and stared at Inigo, "Once the 'first step' is realized, we can proceed with the treatment." Hasir held

    Inigo's hand in his own, "Just make it easy on yourself and us and admit it."

     

    Xelzaz and Affraji just sat there sipping their mugs of mead, not daring to say anything because they did not know the matter fully.

    Inigo slammed his drink on the table, soaking Hasir with the drink's contents. 

    "If I want to be 'cured' I will do it on my own." He stood up and gestured to the door, "If you keep pressuring me, I'll... I'll leave

    without a backward glance." Xelzaz and the others looked apalled at Inigo and, after several seconds, the khajiit abandoned his

    attempt at leaving and sat down again. 

     

    Hasir stared at him over his mug of mead,

    "That matter we rudely discussed before...that's all water under the bridge. let's talk more about why the Doomstrider chose

    Frostflow lighthouse as his 'base of operations'. I wonder, is he holding Ceralyne there as well? Will we find out how to enter

    Krovaxis there as well as the key?"

    Inigo shrugged as both argonians and khajiit smiled at Narri and handed her their empty mugs. Hasir went up to the counter, was

    told by Narri how much their drinks would be. Hasir pulled out his coin purse and tipped a few septims onto the counter. She thanked

    him as she saw him go back to his table.

     

    Inigo lent over and punchd him on the shoulder,

    "My friend, you face is red as the desert sun; care to enlighten us?"

     

    Hasir covered his face with his hand and shook his head; knowing full well they'd better get back to the topic currently on the table,

    "Right." He said, rubbing his sweaty palms together, "Back to the Doomstrider then. Do any of you have any ideas about what I

    asked moments previous?" They shook their head, except for Inigo who raised his hand. Hasir eyed Inigo coldly, "For the love of

    Hircine, stop acting like such a damn kitten and tell us already, hsss."

     

    Inigo's face turned red as a crimson nirnroot; not wanting to dwell on that, he quickly change gears,

    "Sorry, I, erm... anyways, I don't have any ideas but the College of Winterhold might be able to help us."

     

    Hasir roared with laughter at this. He pictured college dropping everything to help in matters not magical,

    "The College of Winterhold? Help us? Don't make me laugh. They'd just as soon battle a frost atronach than to help us."

     

    A snigger from the table caused Inigo to look up. He scowled as he heard Affaji whisper to Xelzaz,

    "Inigo, affraji just told me of where she thinks, nay, knows where the high elf is and how to get into the lighthouse to rescue her."

     

    Amazed, Inigo thanked Xelzaz and turned to Affraji. The leopardine khajiit smiled as he eyes shone with the abundance of

    knowledge,

    "What wise Argonian says is true, this one saw the high elf in the cellar of the lighthouse tied to a chair with rope binding the elf,"

    Inigo asked her how she could've possibly went there and back before arriving at the Falkreath inn." She shook her head, "This one

    did not fly if that is what Inigo is incinuating."

     

    Inigo's face screwed up as he tried to picture how she exactly knew this. Affraji grinned at them and played with her hands as if she

    were trying to contain a wriggling skeever.

    "This one was asleep in her ship's hold. She dreamt that she was adventuring near Winterhold with her sister, a tan khajiit named

    Amahka. Affraji wenr inside of Frrostflow lighthouse where she and her sister heard some rather unsettling noises; yells and

    screams issuing from the black khajiit and the altmer respectively. This one and her sister went inside. She was awakened when

    she saw a chaurus." She shivered, "Nasty things, if Affraji doesn't seen one again it'll be too soon."  

     

    Hasir laughed at this but Inigo cast him a look that made him stop immediately,

    "My friend, Affraji is pouring her heart out to you, letting you know her fears and you laugh at her? Very unprofessional." He said,

    patting the leopardine khajiit's hand with his own. Affraji thanked Inigo and cast the argonian an admonitory glance before thanking

    Inigo again.

     

    Inigo smiled and stared into her yellow eyes,

    "No problem. Like you, I also have something which I cannot stand." He said, clearing his throat, "The thing I most fear is the

    undead, zombies mostly." He said, grimacing. "The way they walk towards you, all rotting skin and skeletal parts showing.. it.creeps

    me out." A shiver ran down his spine as he recounted the story of how he became afraid of zombies and draugr. 

    Affraji and Inigo talked spiritedly about the creepy bugs and undead while Xelzaz eyed Hasir wariily and asked him about the

    lighthouse,

    "Hasir, do you know how to get into the lighthouse?"

     

    Hasir shrugged and yawned. "I don't know, Xelzaz, but we should get some sleep. I will go to the counter and rent us some rooms."

    He said as he got up and walked over to the counter, "Four beds please, Narri."

     

    Narri looked at him and absentmindedly held out her hand,

    "Four rooms will be... twenty septims please." She said, beaming

     

    Hasir reached into his pocket and withdrew a large leather coinpurse, pulled out twenty golden coins, pocketed the purse, and set it

    down on the counter. Nirri gestured to her left,

    "Very well." She smiled again and bowed, "Thank you and have a good night, Argonian."

     

    Hasir's tail swayed happily side to side as he returned to his table. Xelzaz, Inigo and Affraji got up and followed Hasir to the rooms.

    He and Inigo took the rooms on the left of the long counter at the back of the inn while Affraji and Xelzaz took the ones on the right.

     

    The Argonian, too tired to do anything else, undid the leather straps on his armor, stepped out of it and placed it at the end of his

    bed and slung his bag over the chair in the corner, along with his miner shirt and brown trousers. He gave a big yawn and flopped

    onto bed sitting lengthwise against the wall. He fell asleep instantly; too tired to wonder if his companions found their rooms alright. 

    Hasir's mind exploded in a world of color that reformed into a lighthouse near Winterhold. Hasir materialized at the doorstep soon

    after and went inside. He saw a door straight ahead that leading into the basement and two open rooms on either side of him. Hasir

    cursed to himself as he found the basement door locked. He looked around and found a stone fireplace with a fire blazing away in it. 

     

    Hasir saw a chest on the mantlepeice and opened it; inside, he found a key, he went back to the locked door and opened it. He

    smelled the air and a foul stench met his nostrils. In a corner of the cavernous frozen room, he saw Ceralyne's body slumped against

    the wall, eyes silently pleading for help while the Doomstrider stood over her, soulgem held aloft draining her very lifeforce. Hasir

    hissed angrily as he ran toward the black khajiit sword raised. Hasir shrieked with terror as the black fur turned blue and Inigo

    turned his head, eyes wide with fright as he eyed the sword in Hasir's hand. The argonian tried to stop, to sheathe the sword but his

    forward momentum was too much; not only that but his feet and hands seemed to move of their own accord. The argonian's eyes

    went wide in denial as the sword ran Inigo through. Hasir felt tears run down his scaly face.

     

    The argonian tried to reach Inigo as he was steadily pulled backwards as if a magic string was tied around his tail. Hasir sat bolt

    upright in his bed; beads of sweat danced on his forehead. He tried to wave this away as dream liogic but knew this, no matter how

    inaccurate it was, was a prediction of future events,

    Get a grip, you stupid reptile. It was just a dream and besides, Inigo had expelled the Doomstrider a couple of days ago.

     

    Hasir went straight back to sleep after battling with the terrifying thought and had a dreamless sleep for the remainder of the night.

    The next morning, he got up, washed in the sink set in the corner of the room, got dressed in his miner's shirt and trousers, stuffed

    his armor into his bag and went out to the main room to meet the others.Hasir saw them sitting at the same table they sat at the

    night before and beamed at them,

    "I hope everyone had a restful night because today's the day we go find the high elf and, if we're lucky, the Doomstrider, at

    Frostflow lighthouse."

     

    Everyone returned the argonian's enthusiasm. Hasir sat fown beside the blue khajiit and scanned the inn for Narri, the nord barmaid.

    He saw her bringing four mugs of mead and thre kwawa egg quiches over to an Imperial sitting in the corner of the inn. As she was

    heading back to the counter, Xlzaz raised his hand in the air and tried to gestured the nord over them.

    "Excuse me miss. We'd like to order."

     

    Hasir and Inigo both stared at Xelzaz, thinking this was rude but the nord came over to their table and smiled,

    "What will you have?" She asked them, eyeing each on in turn

     

    Xelzaz ordered a kwama egg quiche and juniper berry juice, the two khajiit ordered the same thing and Hasir ordered a apple and

    cabbage soup with honey and lavender bread and a mug of mead. After the argonian and his three comrades ate, not talking

    because of how good the meal was, got up, paid the Imperial their share of gold and strode out of the inn and back towards the

    burnt down shack Inigo had tethered their horses. Hasir and Inigo rode toward the direction of Winterhold with Xelzaz and Affraji

    taking up the rear.

     

    They rode north along the cobblestone road that meandered along the undulating countryside. Hasir looked to his left just as he

    past the throat of the world and saw two Markarth guards escorting a bound nord woman clothed in stormcloak attire. When the

    woman saw them, she muttered loud enough for Hasir and his companions to hear,

    "Stupid dogs. I think its good that Molag Bal is plotting to exterminate them. I can't stand them!"

     

    Hasir stopped, making the others stop too and inquire what his reasoning for doing so was. Aela, a bit frustrated for this unexpected

    halt, glanced in the Argonian's direction and saw him leap off his horse and run straight for the woman,

    "Aha! I see one of these 'filthy dogs' now." She said, smirking. She lent against a nearby tree, "What's a matter, little doggy? Did I

    strike a nerve?" Hasir slowed a bit at this, "Oh, that's right." She said, coming to a halt before him, "I can see your true form... come

    on, show the entire world." Hasir eyes narrowed at this punctuated by a long, rattling hiss, "Oh, but if you do that, you'll be expelled

    from the stupid guild in the worst city on Nirn. You are nothing to them but a plaything to them. They'll probably kill you soon

    enough and leave your body to the skeevers." She said, roaring with laughing.

     

    Hasir ran at her, sword pointed at her chest. The nord woman grabbed one of the Markarth guards that had stopped beside her

    and spun him around to face the enraged Argonian. The guard fell to the ground as Hasir's sword ran him through like a skeever on

    a spit.

     

    The nord woman sniggered as the other guard leapt on top of the Argonian, forced the lizard's hands behind his back, produced a

    length of rope and tied Hasir's hands together.

     

    Inigo dismounted and strode over to the guard who was pulling the bound Argonian to his feet,

    "What in Oblivon do you think you doing?" He asked, outraged as he went over to Hasir, unsheathed his ebony dagger and began

    cutting his bonds. The guard strode angrily over to the insolent khajiit, unsheathed his longsword from its sheath and hit the khajiit

    on the back of the head. Inigo screamed as the guard, a female dunmer named Draskihin, gagged Hasir with a bit of leather and

    loaded him onto a cart that waited nearby.

    Inigo heard the cart rumbling over cobblestones and got to his feet and saw the nord girl and flung himself at her, pressing his

    dagger to her neck,

    "Where did my friend, Hasir go? Answer me or I'll paint the grass with your blood." Despite the precarius position that the nord was

    in, she sneered at Inigo. "Answer me now, or you'll regret it."

     

    The dagger drew blood from the nord's neck as she started to laugh,

    "You stupid khajjit, have you ever hard of Ciidhna Mine?"

     

    Inigo's face screwed up in confusion as he shook his head,

    "I don't believe you, What is this?" He said, his orange eyes turning red

     

    The nord female nodded which was made diffucult by dagger held to her throat,

    "Oh yeah, the inescapable prison; where you have to mine iron along with other ores to serve your sentence... they go in for that

    kind of hard labor down there." She said, smiling as the khajiit's face fell. "Of course, people have tried escaping from the mine but

    the mines have ears, you know, and those 'skeevers' tell the guards and the escapees are more often than not rounded up and

    killed before they find the exit."

     

    Inigo pinned her against the tree with his dagger,

    "Well, prepare to eat your words, you psycho bitch, my friend WILL escape."

     

    The nord woman scoffed and rolled her eyes at him,

    "As I said before. No one escapes Cidhna mine."

     

    Fed up with the nord's callous behavior, Inigo roared with fury and pushd the dagger further into her throat. He only released the

    pressure when he felt the warmth of her blood soak his armor. 

    Hasir rubbed his wrists hard against the wooden seat back; he suffered many tiny splinters for his trouble. The cart turned sharply,

    knocking the bound Argonian onto the cart's wooden railing. He conjured his flame whip and tried burning through the bonds. As he

    felt the ropes slacken their hold on him, he wriggled out of them, 'sheathed' his flame whip, grabbed the length of rope and put his

    hand over the driver's mouth and pulled hard with the rope. 

     

    The dunmer female saw this and whacked him over the head with her sword, snding Hasir into unconsciousness. The female guard

    smirked as she witnessed the Argonian crumple at her feet,

    "Thought you could get one up on us, didn't you lizard?" As she said this, she stomped hard on his tail, "Well, we're about ten steps

    ahead of you, I hope you rot in Cidhna Mine." To punctuate this sentence, she spat on the Argonian. She leant over the wooden

    partition and called to the driver, "Do you think w can reach the mine quicker? Get a move on!" 

     

    The air was soon thick with yells from the driver and whinnies from the horses he urged them to go faster, not caring if he'd hurt

    them or not. The horses skidded to a halt outside stables that looked like they had once been part of the mountain. The same stone

    decorated the city entrance as well. The female guard got out, paid the driver for his services and slung Hasir over her shoulder as if

    he were a deer carcass as she walked toward the city.

     

    She navigated the city until she came to the mine entrance. A male imperial guard greeted her,

    "Drashkihin, what a surprise, er, who do we have here? A new criminal for the mine to work its magic on?"

     

    Drashkihin nodded, handing Hasir over to the Imperial,

    "Yes sir. This sack of meat's name is Hasir and he just killed my friend, a fellow guard of this fine city... killed him outright, without

    any provocation. This one, sir, is a mad dog that is required to be kept on a short leash."

     

    The male Imperial smiled darkly as he eyed the limp form slung over his shoulder,

    "Oh, don't you worry, I intend to." The dunmer female nodded before walking back to way she'd coime. She looked back to see the

    Imperial man disappear into the mine with his reptilian package. She smiled satisfactorily as she exited the city.

     

    The Imperial walked through the narrow mine passage riddled with mine carts and mining equipment, through the wooden ribbed

    doorways that held up the underground tunnel until he cmae to a cavrnous room wher the prisoners' quarters where and where their

    punishments were to be carried out, found that all the cells were full excpt for a small room with an iron door and two guards

    standing on either side.

     

    As he approached, one of the guards stuck out a hand,

    "Halt! What is your businss here Imperial?"

     

    The imperial said he was just here to drop off a prisoner and then he would be on his way. The guard nodded, the Imperial dumped

    the unconcious Argonian on the bed and went back to his duties. 

     

    Hasir stirred a few hours later to find himself in a room with no windows. The dank smell of earth assaulted his nostrils, Hasir sat on

    his bed thinking the guard that threw him in here must've overreacted a bit because if the guard saw it from his perspective, he

    would've seen that he was defending himself from the mad nord. Hasir fet a presence near him in the dark and went to draw his iron

    sword, but he discovered that he had anything he may've brought with him had been taken away from him by the guards and

    stashed elsewhre in the mine.

     

    Hasir gave up trying to wrack his brain and instead turned to the darkened room. He gave out a shriek as yellow eyes stared at him

    from the opposite side of the room. The owner of the yellow eyes got up and approached him. The khajiit knelt before Hasir's bed.

     

    The argonian gasped as he saw a florescent blue scar adorning the left side of her face, decided against alarming her about this and

    instead asked her her name,

    "Hasir, it is nice to finally meet you, Affraji has told me so much about you." She lowered her head so it was level with his, "My name

    is Amahka, I don't know if she told you or not, but, I am her sister." He stood and fixed Hasir with an uncertain look, "Tell me, is

    my sister well? I have been down here for so long that a veil of uncertainty has clouded my eyes to what lies above."

     

    Hasir nodded and hopped off the bed. He scrathed his chin as an oddly perplexing thought occured to him,

    "Yes, Affraji is fine...er, Amahka, why do you speak normally while Affraji speak in third person?"

     

    Amahka sighed while he walked with Hasir to the cell door,

    "Affraji was... well, there is no better way to put this... Affraji was dropped on her head as a kitten, scrrambled her brains like if they

    were kwama eggs. Hasir, I must ask something, in your sleep you're were muttering something about wanting to escape this place?"

    Hasir nodded. A cold, calculating grin spread across Amahka's furry face, "I can help you in that endeavor. You se, I, during my

    extndded stay here, have found various secret passageways and tunnels that I'll be glad to share with you, first, though, we've got

    to get the guard's attention so he can unlock the gate." 

     

    Hasir thought on this and had a much better idea. One that would not end with them getting killed,

    "...or we can just pickpocket the key, let ourselves out and silently subdue the guard without raising the alarm." 

     

    Amahka smiled and nodded; though, a little perturbed that he hadn't thought of that first,

    "Very good. The unconventional approach, I like it. Very well, your way it is then." Hasir unfolded his lockpicking kit on the dusty

    floor, went to the door and finagled the pick until all tumblers wher pressed down. His tail rose excitedly when he heard a click. He

    beckoned the khajiit over as he swung the door open quietly as he dared. 

     

    They slipped past the first guard, down the wooden ramp and into the large cavernous mining facility. Hasir snuck along the wall,

    silent as a shadow passed four guards sitting around a fire near the midsection of the muddy wall. Hasir listened intently to catch

    what they were saying,

    "Lydia, why did you transfer from Whiterun to thiis shithole?" Lydia started to speak but another guard gestured frantically toward

    the spot where Hasir hid, "There, I see something.. a prisoner is escaping!"

     

    Hasir froze in mid sidle. He knew that, any minute, there would be several guards on top of him like fleshflies on dung. Beside him,

    Amahka was charging a spell that was trained directly on the fire but it fizzled out as soon as she saw Hasir doubling over against

    the wall, clutching his head. The khajiit went over to the ailing Argonian whom she thought was having a seizure. Amahka shrieked

    and shrank back against the earthen wall as Hasir nearly tripled in height with white striped black fur blossoming all over. She

    watched in amazed shock as his muzzle widened while sharp fangs erupted from the newly formed gums. He sprang at the rapidly

    advancing guards ripping into their bodies as if they were made of parchement.

     Amahka turned around and stared, wide-eyed, at the werewolf,

    "What in Oblivion? How did you do that?" His face screwd up as he thought on this, "Never mind, let me have a look at you." 

     

    Twillight stood there as Amahka came over and strutinized him with narrowed eyes, hands running over his muscular figure,

    "Ah, I see. You've... somehow transformed. But into what I wonder?" She looked at his head, "Hrmmm... a wolf lizard? No that is

    stupid; A werewolf?" Twilight attempted to bite her hand as it caressed his muzzle. 

     

    She whacked him on the muzzle causing him to give a yelp. Tears fell from the great round eyes as Twilight massaged his sore

    muzzle. Amahka stuck her tongue out at him, causing the wolf to growl even more.

     

    She drifted off, too absorbed in her maniacal laughter. She stopped almost immedaitely as a thought occured to her as her face

    brightened as Twilight howled and reverted back tto his Argonian form,

    "I know... you can take care of any guards in our way, then we can sneak out of the mine." She said, smirking wolfishly at Hasir and

    patting him on his shoulder, "Think you're up to the challenge?"

     

    Hasir sighed, shook his head, and walked over to the campfire in the center of the room,

    "No I don't think I am 'up to the challenge'." He said, sitting down at the fire beside the khajiit, "Amahka, I cannot believe you!

    Using my 'gift' to make our task easier? I'll much sooner get out using stealth, cunning and guerrilla warfare than EVER besmirche

    Hircine's name."

     

    Amahka's eyes screwed up in comprehension. She didn't know who Hasir was talking about,

    "I'm sorry? H-Hircine, who's that? There's no mention of him in the Elsweyr pantheon."

     

    Hasir groaned audibly making Amahka furrow her brow at him.

    "You don't know the god of the hunt? Well, do you at least know the father of manbeasts?" She shook her head. Hasir sighed, "You

    do know Kynareth, don't you?"

     

    The khajiit nodded. Hasir's annoyed stare lessen somewhat in intensity,

    "Yes. Her I've heard of. Only, we refer to her as Khenarthi. Why, though, is she pertinent to this discussion? Is she a relative of

    Hircine or something?"

     

    Hasir turned away from her, hid his head in his hands and muttered something inaudible. Amahka repeated her inquiry making him

    look up,

    "What? Sorry, I said 'yes, Hircine is the brother of Kynareth'."

     

    Amahka raised an eyebrow; Hasir told the khajiit how Hircine and Kynareth are two sides of a balancing act. He told her tthat they

    are the two primary forces that keep the world  in perfect alignment. He then proceed to tell her about the yinyang and the constant

    cycle of energy living being contributes to the natural yingyang. Amahka asked what this 'constant cycle of energy' was.

     

    Hasir took out a pan from his bag along with some venison chop, threw them on the fire, and, when sufficiently cook through,, took

    out two plates. He hand one to Amahka while he kept on for himself. He bit into the tough meat and chewed it while eyeing Amahka

    with amazement.

     

    He finished the venison, completely unaware of how hungry he was. He had no idea that hunger made cooked food taste that much

    better. He turned to Amahka, eyes wide,

    "The constant stream of energy that flows through all of us? You've never heard of it?" Amahka shook her head, "Oh, well, er,

    the energy also encompasses every living thing, animals, plants, trees; the world is full of energy. Nature spirits some call them,

    anyway," He said, walking over to Amahka who was staring into the fire, "That... form you saw a few minutes ago was... my

    werewolf form. I am a child of Hircine."

    Amahka found a bucket on the table nearby, along with mining tools and a lantern, and brought it back over to the fire into which

    she poured some water from a water bladder she took out of her bag, doused the fire and beckoned for Hasir to stand.

     

    Hasir face screwed up as he wondered what her plan was. Amahka looked at him, smiling wolfishly,

    "My reasoning is that if the gaurds have fallen asleep, which I'm fairly certain they've done, then we can put our plan into

    overdrive... since the guards will be none the wiser." Hasir raised a spiked eyebrow, "What I mean by that is that we can traverse the

    cavern freely." She fixed the Argonian with a concerning glare, "I hesitate to think all the guards will be sleeping."

     

    Hasir did not know what to think of this and followed Amahka through the cavern until they saw a wide opening in the rock. Amakha

    gstured to Hasir and then to a bunch of rocks to the sleft side of the rocky opening whre both the Argonian and khajiit waited and

    listened as they heard footsteps approaching.

     

    Hassir glanced at Amahka, unsheathed his sword and was about to jump out at the guards when Amahka shook her head,

    "You stupid reptile, do you want to get caught? If so, then by all means act like an idiot. If not, then you'd better stay put." She said,

    eyeing him darkly. He hissed angrily but stayed hidden behind the rocks.

    Amahka and Hasir both dared not to breathe and they listened to the guards' conversation,

    "Madanach, you have done a fine job with policing the mine and putting wrongdoers in their place but, still, I wondering if we need

    more guards, you know, to further imprint on prisoner thinking of escaping that we are in charge here, not them." 

     

    Madanach cleared his throat. He looked at the orc as if he had swallowed a bad cut of meat,

    "Who would you suggest? Lydia? She is a fine guard but I would be pointless in bringing her here from her current post in Whiterun."

    He gave the orc guard, Urzoga, a smug grin, "Relax orc, no one has ever escaped this mine and, under my watch, no one ever will."

     

    Urzoga glanced at him, fidgeting with her sword holster,

    "I know but I have a odd feeling in my gut that someone might try to break out."

     

    Madanach roared with laughter at this,

    "A gut feeling? Really? You've got to trust your instincts and intuition. I will smell them coming, and besides if they try, they won't

    get far, I will cut them down like a mammoth that stomps on wheat grass."

    Hasir turned to the khajiit and raised his brow as he pondered on somthing,

    "Amakha, how are we going to sneak past without the guards noticing us? Do you have a, er, teleportation spell that will land us

    outside the mine?" He asked.

     

    The khajiit punched him in the shoulder, groaned and shook her head,

    "You moron, magic cannot be forced to serve your will. It is an extension of your soul therefore if your force magic to do something,

    the spell will fail and your spirit, by extension will break, I do not want that." She looked around the rock and saw the guards moving

    away from them. "I have a better ida, hold stilll... this might tingle a bit."

     

    Hasir looked at his hands and shrieked as they turned translucent. Seconds later Hasir felt like he was but a ghost; barely visible to

    this world. He glanced over and saw that Amahka, too, had flitted between Nirn and Oblivion as well as he could only make out her

    outline.

     

    "What have you don to me?" He hissed angrily, "I thought you were going to make us invisible, not kill us prematurely." 

    Amakha huffed in anger and smacked Hasir, who had thought it was going to be a light breeze as it pass right through his see-

    through body, but, to his amazement, it hurt just as badly as if he'd been solid,

    "You idiot, you aren't dead and no one killed you. Have you ever heard of a spell called Chameleon? What am I saying? Of course

    you haven't." She said watching the argonian rubbing his sore neck, "Invisibility and Chameleon are two completely differnt spells."

     

    Hasir's see-through brows furrowed,

    "How are they different? They both make you invisible don't they?"

     

    Amahka nodded and started moving away from the rock they were hiding behind,

    "Yes, but Chameleon does not make your entire body invisible trust me, I know." She said, shuddering from her first attempt at

    casting it in the College of Winterhold. Hasir asked her what happened but the khajiit sighed and cast the spell upon herself so she

    was as translucent as Hasir. She glanced at the argonian and grinned, "Chameleon makes you a part of your surroundings, do you

    know what a-" Her voice tailed away as she focused on escaping the mine. She pressed her finger to her lips and ushered Hasir to

    follow her as she snuck toward the large opening in the rock. 

     

    The argonian followed her; finding it hard to accurately ascertain her location because she blended in to the tan rock and stony floor

    of the mine. He could only see her outline as she edged around the carvern. Hasir found this strange because he'd though she'd be

    constantly looking this way and that for any signs of guards but she didn't feel the need to. 

     

    Hasir mimicked the khajjit mage and followed her into the small chamber and sighed with relief as the spell was lifted. He sighed

    and rolled his shoulder on his shoulder and stretched,

    "Well, that is a handy spell. Maybe you can teach me that." He said, laughing.

     

    She rolled her eyes, crossed her arms across her chest and leant against one of the support pillar in the earthy chamber,

    "Maybe you could get off of your scaly ass and go learn it yourself at the College of Winterhold... after you get out of this place, that

    is." 

    At this, Hasir laughed. Amahka shot him a dark look and he stopped,

    "Oh, you think I was joking?" She asked walking towards him and poking him in the chest, "I am being serious. Besides, it would be

    good for you to study at the college. You do have some magical aptitude, correct?" Hasir nodded and sat on a rock jutting out of the

    earthy wall.

     

    He stared at the rock and slowly nodded, remembering a time from when he was young,

    "Yes, I saved my dad from a slaughterfish once with a frost cloak when I was a hatchling but..." He hesitated as he met the khajiit's

    blue eyes, "I... don't really think I can really stomach being yelled at from magical drill sargeants."

     

    Amahka looked at him and laughed,

    "You idiot, there aren't drill at the College. Welll, unless you count Ancano."

     

    Hasir gazed at her in bewilderment,

    "Ancano? Who's that?"

     

    The tan-furred khajiit sat on a rock opposite him and flattened out her blue robes,

    "There's not much to say about Ancano really, being an Atlmer, he is magical and has a bit of a high and migthy attitude... the same

    as all Altmer."

     

    Hasir shot to his feet and gestured, accusingly, to the khajiit,

    "That's not true. I have a friend, Ceralyne, she is an altmer and, while she is magical; she does not have a high and mighty attitude

    but a more lovable, down to earth attitude." He barked a laugh, "I would like to see what Ceralyne makes of Ancano.... Anyway let's

    get moving, I don't want to have to rip apart any more guards." 

    The argonian and khajiit didn't get ten feet when a guard spot them and ran to Madanach to alert him. The khaajiit halted; gesturing

    to Hasir to do the same when she heard frantic footsteps heading their way. Amahka frantically glanced at Haisr and ran through the

    mine tunnel. Hasir looked behind him and saw that the nord wearing forsworn armor was closing the distance fast.

     

    Hasir ran as fast as his scaly legs could carry him. He followed Amahka as she traversed the meandering passageway. She saw the

    tan double doors approaching fast. She flung the doors open wide and smelled cool air, felt it fill her lungs. She could hear Hasir not

    far behind her. She could also hear Madanach and his guards fast approaching. She cursed and went back inside. 

     

    She found Madanach hot on Hasir's tail. She was wondering what to do as the argonian was shooting flame spell after flame spell at

    the pursuers, each one narrowly missing out eloding on the walls. The khajiit summoned up a wall of fire, spraying it on the floor in

    front of her and, as an afterthought, flung a flurry of frost spells at their attacks.

     

    Akha grinned as Hasir looked confuse, leaping effortlssly through the wall of flames she'd just conjured,

    "Amahka, I get the wall of flames, but why did you shoot them with frost?"

     

    The khajiit looked at the Argonian with a raised eyebrow,

    "Seriously?!" She asked, shocked, "How thick are you exactly? Erm, sorry, I, er, well, the frost spells are meant to slow the enemy

    somewhat. Now enough questions, we've got to get out of here before the spell wears off."

     

     

    They burst through the doors like speeding arrows, panting heavily as if they had run a marathon. Hasir asked Amahka is she had

    plans to return to the College of Winterhold,

    "That is the reason I got locked up. I accidentally assaulted another apprentice while I was practicing a spell. I stand by what I said

    before though, you should go to Winterhold, you might like it there, find nuggets of forbidden knowledge... or at the very least, find

    any answers you may seek." She said giving him a reassuring smile.

     

    Hasir tail drooped behind him and stared at her sheepishly, unconscious rubbing his neck,

    "thanks for the offer but I have a friend to find first, then maybe I will check out Winterhold."

     

    Amahka cocked her head in his direction,

    "Why? did someone abduct this friend of yours?"

     

    Hasir nodded and told her of how he had a dream of a lightouse near Winterhold and deep within, is a cave where cold air enveopls

    the entire room and icicles hang everywhere like petrified bats. He also told her of how he saw a being with black fur standing near

    an altmer who was tied to a chair. He told her that this khajiit's name was the Doomstrider and that he was a servvant of Molag Bal.

     

    She eyed him curiously. She'd been told about Molag Bal. It was customary for new enrollees to be told of the one who caused all of

    the corruption around the college, magical anomies wreaking havoc and the great collapse of the city,

    "I'm sorry who is the Doomstrider. I've heard of Molag Bal, he is talked about in the college, but this Doomstrider... who or what is

    it?"

     

    Hasir stopped in his tracks. He had never really put much thought into this, besides, he had only ever seen the Doomstrider when he

    assumes a khajiit shape. He had not even begun to think if the thing, if that is what it could be called, was part of creation, much

    like the daedra and aedra or something else entirely, like someone's negative emotions given shape, much like how his other half,

    Bloodfang was. 

     

    "You know, Amahka, I'm not sure, would you like to come with me to Frostflow lighthouse to find out? Maybe there are books and

    notes describing who or what he is."

     

    Amahka asked if she could go with him to the lighthouse. The argonian nodded and together, they walked out of the city, Hasir was

    azamed to see his scaly mount waiting for him in the stony stables. As they approached, Hasir asked the breton handler named

    Cedren how his Welwa ravager knew where he was. The stablehand said that the stable owner told him that Welwa ravagers have a

    remarkable sense of smell and can smell their riders from miles away. 

     

    Hasir eyes widened as if this impressed him, which it did, 

    "Wow, I didn't know THAT about Welwa ravagers. I only knew, from a note that the Whiterun stable hand gave me, that ravagers

    have a strong connection with the argonians of Black Marsh."

     

    The stable hand nodded and gestured to the khajiit with a perplexed look on his face,

    "Is she coming with you? If she is, I'd better get another horse saddle."

     

    Hasir shook his head and said that that would not be nessecary as both he and the khajiit will share the same reptile. Hasir mounted

    up on his mount and helped the khajiit up behind him. Hasir gripped the reins and spurred the Welwa on towards Winterhold.

     

    Once the city was in sight, Hasir yelled out to his other companions' horses cresting a hill near the city,

    "Hey guys, got any room for an escaped jailbird?" He chuckled as he rode up to them; only stopping when he was within a foot of

    the blue khajiit and the others.

     

    Inigo grinned as he saw his friend for the first time since the Argonian was hauled away,

    "My friend, good to see you. Did you serve your time?"

     

    Hasir chuckled heartily as the khajiit was oblivious to his jailbreak,

    "No... at least not exactly."

     

    Inigo furrowed his eyebrows as Hasir told him about what happened in Cidhna mine. He then stopped suddenly,

    "Inigo," He said, walking the blue khajiit over to the Welwa, "May I introduce you to Amahka."

     

    Inigo extended a hand and allowed Amahka to shake it,

    "Nice to meet you, Akahka." He wondered about something, "Are you by chance the sister of Affraji?"

     

    The tan khajiit nodded,

    "I am. Nice to meet you, Inigo."

     

    Hasir dismounted his horse and walked over to an unlit fire that stood amongst tents that lay southwest of the tall rocky outcrop the

    city sat atop and used a flame spell to lit it and call out to his companions. They came over and sat down. When Hasir was finishing

    cooking the vension over the fire, he took plates from his bag, handed them out, each with a slab of venison on it. Once the groiup

    at their fill of the venson, they talked a bit about how they planned to tackle the lighthouse.

     

    Hasir extinguished the fire with a bucket of water from the icy stream nearby and got into his bedroll and fell asleep, much as his

    friends had done moments before.