A.D.W.D. Interlude: The Fox and the Hare


    High in the mountains of Haafingar a white hare crested a bank of snow under clear skies. Its nose twitched at the heavy scent of iron drifting through the air and it hopped towards the source, a red spreading from a form surrounded by virgin powder. Atop the blanket of its own life, a fox took its final rest overlooking the sweeping vistas of the lands that mortals called Skyrim. Only a gaping cavity remained were there was once a heart and the wind, harsh yet cleansing, revealed the marks of an eagle’s talons underneath the fur. A sense of sorrow filled the air as the beast’s spirit was carried onward with a final kiss from the wind.


    The hare tracked the spirit’s ascent into the Aetherial currents crossing the heavens before hopping forward to sit alongside the more corporal remains destined to descend a similar path into the bones of the earth. Two parts separated, but not forever. In time the two would merge again in a new form, a new cycle, and then it would all repeat again with the past but a vague echo. It was a small, isolated scene the hare observed, but like much in life, the patterns of the infinitesimal were oft reflected in the infinite, at times to the extreme where one became indistinguishable from the other.


    Yet such contemplations were a rabbit hole of questions that the hare did not seek on this day. Far below in the shelter of the mountain’s shadow at the union of land and sea, the hold of Solitude buzzed with the bustle of man, but there were two among the masses that drew the hare’s gaze from the others. Its eyes, gold with irises of writhing black tendrils, focused in on a teen of a forgotten name adjusting the scabbard on her new set of leather armor and a similarly clad man of many names as they wound their way through the labyrinth of cobbled streets.


    Then the air by the hare chilled suddenly as a shadow slid from the space between and defied the light warming the lands. In an affront to the cycle of life and death, it filled the carcass of the fox with its otherworldly essence and the lifeless glazed eyes of the animal cleared into the yellow of a reptile.


    The fox rose once more and spoke in a chilling voice that invoked the primordial fear of darkness, “Reenacting Nordic folklore now are we?”


    “Ah… it is you… I half hoped it would be the Trickster returning to revive the story instead,” the hare spoke in a soothing voice that rolled with the inevitability of the tide.


    The fox licked at the cavity in its chest. “That fool? No, although I may play the role anyway to feel your neck snap between my teeth. A las, his fractured image still wanders the space between in search of what is lost… No, it is merely I whom take this symbol of him; just as I will take his child.”


    The undead fox surveyed the great expanse of the land with greed glinting in its yellowed eyes and then licked its chops at the prospect of its own realm enveloping it.


    The hare chuckled. “Because… that has worked so well for you… in the past...”


    The darkness possessing the fox forced the animal’s throat into hiss more akin to a snake. “I did not fail! Each invasion, either my own or by the Others have left lasting factures in the spokes of this creation. So tell me, what does your seeking show you now? Where are the Tides leading this place?”


    The hare remained silent.


    “As I thought,” the fox sneered. “But why do you even care? You are not tied to this Plane, not like the self-proclaimed ‘Divines.’”


    “Yes… the ‘Divines’. The eight and one. They gave themselves wholeheartedly to this creation… to the extent they are more the essence of the land… than individuals… and now their fates are sealed with it.” The hare studied the talon marks around gaping hole in the fox’s chest. “It is no wonder… the hatred they hold for the one who tricked them so...”


    “We were wise to not participate, now we are free to harvest the fruit without sacrifice.”


    “…and such odd fruit fills this garden,” the hare agreed.


    Tell me, what you are watching down there? What could drag you from the endless pursuit useless knowledge?” the fox demanded. “Your precious Dovakiin has already left that place. He travels as we speak into my grasp.”


    “Ah yes… Markarth... Into your grasp you say. Is that… so? How fares… your shrine there? ”


    “May the Whore of Shadows’s name be drowned in the blood of her followers! It was but one of many anchors tethered to this plane; a loss that does little but to raise my ire,” the fox hissed with the flick of its now forked tongue, then followed the hares gaze to the distant specks walking the streets of Solitude. He focused in and hissed again when he recognized the two that were keeping the hare’s attention.


    “That one again? The vessel the same Deceiver acted through? Do you know how long it has been since I have felt pain, much less at the hands of a mortal?”


    The hare cast a sidelong glance at its brethren. Whether that was rage or ecstasy in in the fox’s voice was unclear.



    “Kill her if it pleases you… it will not change the flow of fate.” The hare shrugged indifferently.


    “Kill her? I am not so simple.”


    “That… is as I thought…”


    “You seek to deceive Me?” The fox laughed, a chilling sound mixed with sadistic anticipation. “You know, she destroyed a soul owed to me the night before your ‘champion’ came. Only a bandit, a pathetic wretch whose soul I’d gain little from, but the girl? A mortal who dares an act of such sacrilege against the divine soul shows much promise… with a certain motivation.”


    The fox eyed the hare with a canine filled grin, but the hare didn’t rise at the prospect of the fox corrupting its pawn; in fact, the hare seemed bored.


    “Did she not… already channel that very Queen of Shadows… to break free of your clutches… and ‘shrine’? Then did not the Blighted Lord… turn the victory of your fallen champion’s hunt to dust at the feet… of its prey? What is it you always say… Tell me! Yes... Tell me for how long had the Blighted One hid his Gift… within your discarded… champion?”


    The fox seethed at the insolence of his peer.


    “They all submit with time; in the end they come to me! Now you tell me, how well has she danced to your tune? Did you not seek to use that thief to bring your pawns together? Was she not supposed to follow the Dovahkiin? Her savior from enslavement!” the foxed cooed the last, then let out a single laugh. “What chance of fate allowed the thief to survive that union? Now you have a rogue planeswalker on the loose and learning the ways of said thief. How does that factor into your Tides?”


    The hare’s ears twitched and then flattened against its head.


    “Oh, did you not know?” The fox stalked through the powdered snow to stand with its maw breathing down the hare’s neck. “Yesss, she found a tunnel to your realm, the very night she made me bleed. Would make one wonder how a child would come upon such forbidden knowledge, but you already know… do you not? To think this child could slip through your own realm unnoticed despite all your eyes… Precious.”


    The fox gnashed its teeth just above the nape of the hare’s neck, then walked away to look out from the edge of the mountain bluff with its back to the hareand laughed.


    “Maybe I’ll be riding within on her next trip. Wonder how long she’d last with all of me inside her?”


    The hare hopped to sit alongside the fox.


    “You are always welcome in my domain at any time… Perhaps I shall prepare a pedestal to… display you on. My collection has become sparse since the First Dovahkiin was… consumed by the Last; a cycle come full circle.”


    “You threaten me?! Try my patience and see your works fall to my corruption.”


    The hare merely chuckled and focused once more on the city below. For a moment they both watched as the girl was pushed forward by the thief to knock on a door and then her fumbling through a greeting when a lad answered. Such an innocent scene belied that the crucible the two had already endured.


    “A pebble may take many paths along the riverbed… yet its journey still ends in the ocean.”


    The fox laughed. “Save your breath. I am no mortal, I know the limits of your omniscience. We are caught in the currents of causality as much as they.”


    “Not all are…”


    The undead fox’s eyes narrowed in understanding, then gazed up to the sun and brought a paw against the eagle claw marks surrounding its chest cavity. “The mortal heroes of the ‘Divines'. You were too weak to control the First abomination of the Fractured God and Time; what makes you believe you will fare any better with the Last?”


    “I… won’t need to. Perhaps had you sought ‘useless knowledge’ as well… you too would hear the echo… The sole remembrance of a time much like this one… save the Dovah of then accepted their role in fate… but now the First of the Dovah adds its own echo in defiance against the heavens… tamed in flesh, but never in spirit. Once the Dovahkiin realizes the price of his victory, he shall choose to walk the Path himself…”


    Without warning, the fox pounced atop the hare in a spray of powdered snow. With the hare pinned beneath its paws, the fox snapped its teeth down on the prey’s neck with a satisfying crunch. Then the fox wrung the limp form about with a shake of its head for good measure, relishing the sight of blood and tuffs of fur mix with the snow.


    It spoke with the hare still between its teeth, “Weak! Your Path means nothing without the strength to back your will. The shard that is the Dovahkiin’s matters not, the Wheel will eventually crumble regardless and with the World Eater cast out as the rebel, it will be MY realm to dictate its rebirth!”


    The hare’s head flopped at an odd angle to stare the fox in the eye. The tendrils of its irises were already retreating from the fallen host, but they left behind a mocking laugh and a final question before slipping from the mortal’s Plane.


    “That is one of the Paths the Tides could flow… but for one whom can reveal the fear hidden within any heart… have you… my brother… never sought the depths of your own…?”















5 Comments   |   Karver the Lorc and 4 others like this.
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  June 25, 2018
    Come on Exuro..  where is the link to your ToC?. Really enjoyed this. A change of pace is always refreshing
  • Felkros
    Felkros   ·  September 14, 2017
    Well, finally finished! And what a ride. Can't wait to see how this goes down...
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  September 13, 2017
    Talking dogs are always fun. Do it, you know you wanna. 
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  September 13, 2017
    Aye you have. I was wondering how I got a comment so quickly after posting!
    I don't have anything outlined. For him, I feel like my characters will either start running off script-as they have been know to do-and stumble across him, or I'll reach s...  more
  • Karver the Lorc
    Karver the Lorc   ·  September 13, 2017
    I've already read this, did I? Yes, I feel like I did. Nothing better than two Princes talking in riddles, eh? Btw, it reminds me of something. I wanted to ask you: Do you have any plans for Barbas in the future?