C.O.T.W Chapter 119: The Swamp Game

  • Hasir, Inigo and Aquarius trudged through the murky swamp. Inigo  had to keep away all the bugs that swarmed them and

    attempted to bite their flesh. The khajiit glowered at Hasir who seemed to not be bothered by them; he thought it must be because

    of his tough scales. After many hours of fighting off bugs that, somehow, Argonians were immune to. They stood before a city

    flanked by stone on both sides. They entered and gazed, in awe, at this beautiful yet alien wonder that was all around them. The city

    seemed to sprout, like weeds, around buildings that stood on wooden stilts; with the exception of a singular stone building to the

    right of the gate and the stables; also stone. Nature seemed to mingle seemlessly with civilzation here; no clear distinction could be

    made between the manmade and the natural world.


    Hasir glanced at the Companions and the khajiit; their mouths dropped open like great Wamasus awaiting a salamander and


    "You should see your faces."


    Inigo closed his mouth and glared at Hasir indignantly,

    "Really, my friend? When have you been here?" 


    Hasir told them of how when he was in the Whitefish river chapel. Khash told him that she was once here, eavesdropping on a

    conversation between two Murkmire argonians. He told him that he felt like he was theere with her.


    Inigo rolled his eyes and scoffed. He was never one to believe in 'traveling' to a realm through visions.

    "Yeah right. You sharing someone else's vision of a place and you actually being there are two seperate things my friend. Anyway,

    come on, let's see if anyone lives here that can tell us where we are," He cringed at the thought of going back out into the swamp to

    feel the agonizing bite of the more... hostile inhabitants of the region. "Perhaps they can give me some bugspray for this

    inhospitable place."

    A sky-blue portal blinked to life with the bark of a Hist tree that stood in the swamp and vomited the companions forth with such

    force that they fell face first into the swamp. Aela got up rubbing her eyes to rid themselves of the excess marshwater, looked around

    and slapped Amahka. The khajiit stood and almost fell into the swamp again by the force of the slap.

    "Amahka, you idiot. You brought us to the wrong place again. We are in Leyawiin. Miles from where we should've ended up."


    The tan khajiit shot daggers at the angry Nord and splashed her with dark green water.

    "Aela, you're the idiot. Don't you every use your eyes instead of your loud-ass voice? We ended up in the right place... if my senses

    did not betray me..." She trailed off as she looked around and saw an unusual looking city in the distance. "I thought so, yes, we are

    in the right place. I didn't conjure the portal." She said, glaring at the impudent Nord. "abook did. Now can we get going?"


    Aela grumbled something inaudible, reapplied her facepaint with a portal inkwell she carried with her and followed her siblings and

    underlings. She stopped and heard a voice on the wind, multiple actually. She urged the group to walk faster as she would hate to be

    stranded in the swamp any longer than needed. 


    They quickened their pace, much to their displeasure. Aela strolled into the unorthodox city with an air of someone who dispised the

    residents - which she did. She wanted to be in Skyrim, bossing around new recruits to the mead hall not in some festering toilet of

    Tamriel. If possible, she had even more contempt for Hasir now that she saw the shithole that he came from.


    A small Argonian came up to her, attempting to sell his wares and asked her if she'd like some. Aela glanced down and saw the most

    disgusting thing she'd ever witnessed: a basket full of slimy dark green eels and some poisonous frogs. She shrieked and sent the

    basket flying through the air, leaving the poor boy to pick it up, staring after her in extreme displeasure.


    She banged on doors, lieing that she was accosted by a filthy Argonian. A door creaked open to see what the mad Nord was

    screaming about. Aela's face fell as she found herself face-to-face with one of those 'filthy' creatures. She wore an expression as if

    she ate a sour apple and slid inside, not acknowledging the filthy creature.

    As they journeyed farther into the rather unorthodox city, admiring the strange houses on sislts with ramps and walkways between

    them. As the blue khajiit walked, he caught a snipet of a rather odd coversation between two Argonians. 

    "Your eyes are like two muddy puddles found deep within the swamp." The Argonian, Guleesh was saying to his bride to be, an

    Argonian named Wawul.


    Inigo thought this was strange as he'd never heard of someone's eyes being compared to something as disgusting as mud puddles.

    Inigo wanting to look away, to blank the entire conversation but he didn't, he listened on. He rounded a corner and there were two

    argonains, both had broad snouts. Inigo thought this was some kind of ritual Argonians did, though he could not understand it. 


    He hurried to catch up with the companions and Hasir, who had just turned toward a small reed hut and knocked on the door,

    "Hello can I help you?" The argonian asked. He had multiple bone spikes protruding from his scalp and was garbed in traditional

    brown Argonian dress adorned with bird feathers and strange symbols. His eyes roaved over the newcomers until they fell on Hasir's.

    "Hasir, aren't you a sight for sore eyes? I haven't seen hide nor tail of you since Kassamae told me that you were whisked off to

    Akavir. How in hist's name are you?" Hasir said he was fine and asked if they could come in. The Argonian smiled andnodded, "I'm

    Veexalt, please make youselves at home." He said, showing them inside the round hut.


    Hasir looked around and saw wooden chimes adorning the walls along with some musical instruments that looked a bit like frog

    organs sitting on woven tables.


    He saw intricately woven curtains hanging above small openings in the walls of the hut that depicted various scenes that were

    important to Argonians; they depicted hunting, birth, argonians gathering around a tree, an Argonian game, of sorts and one

    depicting an argonian body with what looked like a well-carved stick driven through its chest. 


    Hasir walked over and sat on one of the chairs that stood around a long table in the corner of the hut. Veexalt asked Hasir what he

    knew about Argonian culture.

    "Well," he said, sighing, "not much, I was raised away from Blackmarsh. As you can imagine, while I did get histsap, I didn't

    recieve knowledge about my homeland."


    The mulit-spiked Argonian looked utterly baffled. He had not heard of anyone recieving the histsap outside of Blackmarsh.

    "No one can get histsap if they are away from the hist trees!" He snapped, "it's impoosible."


    Hasir looked at him and shrugged; his tail never once betraying him,

    "Well, I went through it so I guessed it can't be all that impossible."


    Veexalt stared at him, spit flying from his mouth and he spluttered out

    "I-how is this possible?"

    Hasir told him about how, while in Akavir, a dragon statue in one of the temple leaked histsap as he lapped it up as a hatchling. He

    did not tell Veexalt anything more than was nessecary. Veexalt shook this confusion off like a saxhleel shedding dry, cracked scales.

    "Would you guys like anything to drink?"


    Aela asked him if they had any mead; Vilkas and Farkas nodded. Veexalt shook his head, chuckling.

    "No, of course not, what do you think this is? Skyrim? Hsss..." He got up and strode to the kitchen where the companions could

    hear several wooden mugs being lifted from shelves. A few moments later, the Argonian returned with a wooden tray. Upon it was

    five mugs of what looked like black swamp water on it. He set the tray on the table that Hasir sat at. Aela, Inigo and the two nord

    brothers lent over and screwed their faces up inwith disgust; even the smell was unpleasant.


    Hasir raised a clawed hand. Groaning, Veexalt called on him.

    "Sithis damnit, eggkin, we are not in school, ask your question." He snarled


    Hasir put his hand down and asked what that 'gooey black stuff' was. Veexalt gestured toward the liquid, dipping one clawed finger

    in and extracting the liquid.

    "Hasir, this is called bug musk. It is brewed with bugs that I catch when in the spaces between villages. That combined with fleshfly

    secretions make for a hearty drink that warms the scales." 


    The traditionally clothed Argonian took his mug and drained it while Hasir and his companions put their mugs back on the

    tray; disgusted looks etched on their faces. The native Lilmothian looked disapprovingly at them.

    "You know, it is quite disrespectful to not drink what has been offered to you." He said, gesturing to his eggcousin and telling him to

    take a sip. Hasir tipped the wooden cup back and swallowed; half expecting not to like it. He surprised himself as he found it to be

    quite delicious and the strange black liquid seemed to satisfy the empty feeling in his stomach.


    Hasir smiled at his eggcousin. Veexalt grinned as Hasir handed him the cup, thrilled that someone liked it. The argonian asked

    him if he had anything to eat.

    "I don't, but my mate, Choixth will prepare something for you. How does pumpkin stew sound? I will prepare the ingredients and

    have my mate prepare the soup."

    Hasir smiled as the stew was placed upon the table in front of him. He ate it greedily and thanked Veexalt and his mate, Choixth

    Veexara sat in the chair as Chioxth took the wooden bowl and placed it in the sink. Hasir scanned the room and saw someone

    sitting a few feet from him that he had not seen previously. He turned to Veexalt and asked who that old argonian was. He strode

    over to the old Argonian and beckoned Hasir close. The argonian walked over to him.


    "Hasir, I'd like to introduce the once great leader of the shadowsscales, Sulahkeesh." The elderly Argonian merely nodded. Hasir

    smiled but it soon faded when he saw that she was stricken with the same condition that his mother has. She did not seem to notice

    her blindness nor did she let it hamper her just as his mother goes about her daily life without her sight. He wondered if she gave up

    her sight for a higher calling as well.


    The seagreen Argonian dressed in dark brotherhood leathers stood up and felt her way around the room until she caught a strong

    whiff of undrunk bug musk. She turned her head towards Aela, Vilkas and Farkas and asked why they had not drunk their bug musk.


    Aela got up and jabbed the Argonian in the chest with a long finger; screwing her face up in disgust.

    "We don't want any of your filthy drink, you stupid lizard." She snarled, taking the cup and upturned it on the elderly Argonian's

    head. She laughed as the elderly Argonian coughed and spluttered as she stumbled backwards into the table; spilling the black liquid

    all over the floor. 


    Hasir saw this and ran to Sulahkeesh, helping her to her feet. He extracted a cloth from his bag and handed it to her. Hasir saw Aela

    unsheathe a dagger and fling herself at toward the blind Argonian. Hasir bellowed out and launched himself at Aela. In her blind

    rage, the female nord did not see the scaly interloper running at her. Hasir shot passed her, completely missing the nord and

    skidding into a bamboo wall.


    Hasir got up, shook the collision off and dropped his jaw; he was amazed at how well she dodged Aela's dagger. He was shocked at

    the speed of the aged shadowscale's strikes. Hasir did not know how Saluhkeesh was able to do this given she couldn't see. He

    thought it was her heightened sense of smell or her likewise enhanced hearing. Hasir know one thing though: Saluhkeesh was not an

    Argonian he wanted to piss off.


    Hasir saw Inigo sitting in a woven bamboo chair not too far from the spectacle and heard him shout out aid for the elderly Argonian,

    "Come on, knock her on her ass. Do a roundhouse kick, that's my lizard." Even Vilkas and Farkas got in on the action as Hasir

    saw them placing down coins on a long bamboo bar that stood in the center of the hut, flanked by tall, woven bamboo stools on one

    side. He also heard them bantering over hefty bags of gold they'd placed on the counter.


    Hasir walked over to the counter and sat down beside the two brothers. He placed a coinpurse between the other two. Vilkas looked

    at the grinning Argonian next to him and laughed,

    "You kidding right? You don't have a dog in this fight, Argonian." Hasir shook his head, "That is where you're wrong Vilkas, I do have

    a 'dog' in this fight, that being the blind Argonian. I'll make a bet, if Saluhkeesh wins, I get all the gold on the table and if you win,

    you get the lot, deal?" Vilkas and Farkas both nodded. Hasir smiled and turned back to the fight. 

    The next few minutes were more of the same, Aela tried jabbing the shadowscale and she would deftly dodge it. Aela thrusted with

    her dagger only to have it kicked out of her hand by the Argonian. Vilkas and Farkas cringed with unease whereas Hasir whooped

    with excitement.


    Aela groaned as the dagger flew through the air to become stuck in the wall of the hut. Aela and the shadowscale raised their fists.

    They traded blows until Aela went down. Saluhkeesh pounded the air with her fists in jubilation. Feeling humilated, Aela ran to the

    wall, took her dagger and threw it at the Argonian. In one swift motion, Saluhkeesh stopped the dagger with both hands grasping

    the blade of the weapon. She grinned back at Aela as she broke the blade into pieces.


    The elderly shaowscale could hear Aela's heart beating fast, could smell the rage that emanated off of her. The argonian sneered at


    "Have you had enough? Ashamed that an elderly blind shadowcale can best a nord whose vision is pristine? Face it, you'll never beat

    me, I have trained for years with the dark brotherhood, where as you, I daresay, could use a bit more. Just admit that you hate

    Argonians for being different."


    Aela snarled as red fur blosssomed over her body,

    "Never! I will not give you filthy lizards the satisfaction." She said angrily as she changed form


    Saluhkeesh could smell the stench of wet dog as Red stood before her. The werewolf stood on her hind paws, studying the blind

    lizard with her amber eyes. Red and the shadowscale ran towards each other punching and clawing at each other. Saluhkeesh 

    dodged Red's powerful tree sized claws as they cut through the air instead of through the shadowscale's flesh. 


    Hasir stood authoritatively, almost toppling the coinpurses and shouted for both sides to stop fighting. He looked at Red and told her

    that just because someone is different in no cause to hate them. Red wanted to keep fighting but Aela knew that his words had some

    truth to them and transformed into her nord form.

    Vilkas and Farkas banged their fists angrily on the table,

    "Way to suck the fun out of the room Hasir." They said, throwing their hands up in exhasberation, "now who will get all this gold?"

    They asked, gesturing to the three coin purses. 


    Hasir reached out an arm and proceede to pick up the gold,

    "I believe I do." He saw, smirking mischevously 


    Aela saw this and stormed over to the table and plucked the coinpurses from Hasir's grip,

    "Like hell you do! Farkas, Vilkas, catch." She yelled as she tossed their share of the gold at them. She handed Hasir back his

    coinpurse. "For Oblivion's sake, don't let this slimy reptile dictate how things are run. No one won the fight so, naturally, all bets are



    Aela looked back, grinning at the shocked Argonian,

    "I don't know how things are done here in Blackmarsh but in Skyrim, there in a thing called honor."

    Saluhkeesh worked her way to the stools the two nords had vacated and invited Veexalt to sit beside her. Veexalt got up and

    sat next to Hasir.

    "So you wish to know more about who you are, yes?" Veexalt ased. Hasir nodded, thirsty for knowledge. Veexalt smiled and told

    Hiasr first about why the Argonians drink histsap, then the reason why they are, often times, looked upon as wierd or abnormal by

    the other races.


    Hasir listened intently. Veexalt paused here and there in case the young Argonian had any questions or concerns.

    "What are those curtains? Are they depictions of Argonian culture as well?" Hasir iquired


    Veexalt nodded, gesturing from the leftmost hanging to the other in a counterclockwise direction.

    "Yes, the first one," He said, gesturing to the curtain with a tree with figures positioned around it, "is a small bit of fabric torn from

    an Argonian tapestry that the sap speaker of our tribes sews upon birth of a Saxhleel, special ocassions and upon the 'Great Return,'

    what the dryskins call death. This flowing tapestry is quite common in all tribes. The bit of the tapestry with the Hist Tree is very

    important to us Argonians, as our very villages are built around those trees."


    Veexalt told Hasir that the Hist tree is central to many ceremonies; from hatching days, seasonal growth ceremonies and when it

    cametime for a Saxhleel to participate in 'The Great Return," which is a Saxhleel funeral ceremony. Veexith told Hasir about how

    the gravesinger places the body of a dead Saxhleel into the earth with a gravestake driven through their heart. It is said, he told

    him, that bodies who are not prepared in this way rise up as 'bog blights.'  

    Hasir wondered what gravesingers and bog blight were. He thought he knew what they were and decided to bring them up at a

    differnt time. For now, though, he had to find out what it meant to be an Argonian. Veexith took an ornate bow out of his bag and

    placed it one the counter; Hasir gawked at the exquisite bow. He reached out his hand to take it but resisted, cocking his head,

    "Veexith, what is this for?" He said, gesturing toward the bow


    Veexith chuckled as he lent back against the bar,

    "Hasir if you want to learn to be a Saxhleel , you will need to experience all Blackmarsh has to offer, from its dangerous flora and

    fauna to its exciting recreational activities." He paused, letting Hasir take this in. "This bow," He continued, "Is for you, I want to

    show you how to hunt." Hasir looked disconcertedly at the bow, saying he already had one. Veexith nodded knowingly, "Yes, but, this

    bow is the staple of a Saxhleel's weaponry as well as this; he bent down grabbed a crude wooden spear at his feet and placed it

    beside the bow, "this spear," Veexith stated, holding it up, "is used for fishing."


    He frowned as Hasir talked about better ways to catch fish. He said a fishing rod could snare a fish faster than any spear could. 

    "Ah yes, but does a fishing rod build your strength when you use it? Veexith said, "I think not. Listen, eggkin, since you are in

    Blackmarsh, you will hunt, fish, eat, sleep as a true Saxhleel as well as partaking in real Argonian sport." Hasir's features remained

    bank at these words so Veexith went on, The sport of which I speak is Teeba-Hatsei. We don't have a court here but we have a

    communal court set up between the Xanmeer of the Dead-water village."


    Hasir opened his mouth to both agree to Veexith's first three points and ask what in Oblivion 'Teeba-Hatsei' was but Veexith held up

    a hand, "Later, eggkin, Teeba-Hatsei is a game. Not only that but it is the most grueling game, landing many Saxhleel in the

    Lilmothian medical hut."

    Hasir went to leave but Veexith grabbed him by the shoulder, turning him to face him.

    "Easy there, cool your scales. You will have time to go and learn hip and tail ball but first, you'll come with me around back to

    practice hunting and aslo participate in a little game of competitive archery with me and my hatching mates." He said with a grin as

    he through the bow at the non-plused Argonian. "Treat this bow well. It is a bow carved out of the bark of Lilmoth's hist tree."


    Hasir looked at him as if he had just been handed a gravestake and was told to bury one of Veelith's relatives.

    Come now, it's no use looking like a caught fish. The 'bow carving' is a sacred right of passage. Once a Saxhleel comes of age, he or

    she is shown how to fashion a bow out of the bark of their village's hist tree. Every village participates in this ritual." 


    Veexith chuckled as he saw Hasir struggling to make it fit,

    "Here, let me help you. There. Now, you will have to craft your own arrows, I'm afraid. I just crafted you a bow because you have

    passed the age for the bow carving ritual."


    Hasir snarled at Veexith but calmed his nerves when Veexith gave him a disapproving look. Together, they exited the hut and went

    over to a more open hut containing a forge near the center of the village. 

    "Now Hasir, In order to make arrow, you need the proper materials: wood for the shaft, a hardened material like hardened sap of the

    shell of a bug for the tip and some feathers from the bird of your choice to make the feathers, or flights, of the arrows. Hackwings

    feathers would do nicely" Hasir asked if he would need any thing else for the arrows. Veexith nodded and said he need a leather of

    some animal to make the quiver. Hasir asked Veexith what animal he should use.


    Veexith shrugged. He knew that each quiver was unique to the crafter; as was their bow.

    "Hasir, there is no right answer to that question. Wamasu hide makes the best quiver, but, use what you think is best." 

    Hasir grinned and went off to make his arrows as Veexith watched; he slaughteered hackwings for the brownish-tan flights off the

    arrows and extract histsap for the arrowhead. Hasir hunted and skinned Wamasu; he was not yet familiar with the fauna of this land

    to find a better suited animal. When all that was done, Veexith took him over to the local forge in town to forge the arrows. As he

    worked the forge, Veexith kept track of Hasir's progress.


    Hasir held up the twenty arrows he'd made and Veexith inspected it. Seeing that he was satisfied, Hasir took the Wamasu hide and

    cut it so it was in two equal length pieces. He held the two pieces of wamasu hide over the fire. When he deemed it soft enough, he

    brought it over to the workbech and worked them until they were the right shape.


    Veexith looked at the completed quiver and smiled. 

    "Xelzaz can you come here please?" Hasir's jaw dropped as a familar Argonian stepped into the hut


    Veexith put his hand under Hasir's chin,

    "Close your mouth, you're letting fleshflies in."


    He closed his mouth and stared at Veexith indignantly. Veexith welcomed Xelzaz; who had two plants in his arms. Both Veexith and

    Hasir wondered what those plants were and why he picked them. Xelzaz smiled and placed the plants on a table beside a basalt

    mortar and pestle he had taken down from the shelf above the table. 


    Hasir asked Xelzaz how he got there. The telvanni Argonian cleared his throat and told them how he got to Lilmoth.

    "I entered the realm of Blackmarsh through the Ayleid portal and ended up in a village consisting of a several wooden huts with

    matching stilts. A grinning Argonian greeted me; his name was Xukas; he handed me two plants and showed me how to use them in

    alchemy and dying."


    Hasir creased his forehead and inquired as to the type of plants.

    "What plants are they and where are they found?"


    Xelzaz cleared his throat and picked up the plants laying near the mortar and pestle.

    "These are Somnia and Cat-tail. They have amazing alchemical effects and they are found all around Lilmoth, if you know where to

    look. This mortar and pestle is used to combine them into a paste which then can be used to dye an item, if one so wishes. They can

    also be used to drain fatigue and absorb health when eaten seperately. If, however, one were to mix them, can prove to be a

    powerful healing agent." 


    He called over to Hasir and asked him to bring over one of his arrows.

    "Hasir, mash these two plants up into a fine paste and dip the feathery end of your arrows into them. I am guessing red and brown

    are not really your color and would like something a little more...green, correct?"


    Hasir nodded and could smell the plants' sweet aroma. He glanced at Xelzaz while he ground the plants into a paste and dipped the

    feather ends of the arrows into it. Hasir's jaw dropped again as he saw the browish-red feathers become a greenish-teal color.


    Satisfied, he placed the handful of arrows into his newly crafted wamasuskin quiver and left the hut with Veexith and Xelzaz. They

    walked down to a small glade past Veexith's hut, where a small clearing with five brown archery targets could be seen. Hasir looked

    at the participants and saw some familiar faces: Juleen, Itansehk and Mere-Glim. Each of them was holding a bow carved from

    their village's Hist trees.


    Hasir gazed at his father and Mere-Glim and wondered how on Nirn they could be standing there? Hasir asked Mere-Glim about how

    he got here. The last time Hasir saw his body burning on a wooden pyre. Mere-glim walked over to his eggcousin and told him that

    his soul returned to the Hist upon his body's death.

    "My soul was returned to the Hist and mingled with my ancestors. I came back in the body of a dark green Argonian with a head full

    of bone spikes. I 'saw' Itansehk there as well. His soul went a different way along the roots of the great tree than my soul did." Glim

    gestured to Itansehk, "His soul swirled around the negative spacce within the tree's roots longer than mine did because his soul had

    to find a more suitable body as his soul was a bit older than mine was.


    Mere-glim told him that Itansehk's soul found a home in a light green Argonian with two small bone spikes in front of auburn leaf

    hair. Itansehk nodded enthusiasticallyin Hasir's direction. Veexith told Hasir he could get to know his friends later, Vvexith cleared

    him through and tod him the challenge was about to begin.


    Hasir looked, bewildered, at Veexith. 

    "Archery competition? I don't understand." 


    Veexith grasped Hasir's shoulder and lead him to a copse of tree off the archery grounds and whispered to him so none of the other

    competitors could hear.

    "Did you think you'd only go against me and have an easy off? No, I made this into a competion so that you can truly prove yourself.

    True, I could've pitted you and me and you could prove your worth that way. Pitting you against the best archers in Blackmarsh not

    only proves your worth as an Argonian but also as a top notch archer. Hasir, this is so much more than a test of whether or not you

    can become one with the marsh but also if you can be a great archer."

    Veexith led Hasir back to the clearing, making sure Hasir had his arrow ready. Hasir nodded and gestured to his quiver. All

    combatants drew their bows and nocked their arrows, aiming at their round haybales. Hasir glanced at the other Argonians and

    hastily fumbled for his bow, dropped it and picked it up, holding it so tight his knuckles started hurting. he reached into his quiver

    and extracted a green-feathered arrow.


    Veexith smiled, raised his hand above his head and flung his arm straight; signaling for the compitition to begin. The air was thick

    was the twanging of bows and flying arrows; Hasir looked on shocked as all four of his competitors hit the bullseye. Hasir gulped and

    loosed his arrow. He closed his eyes and fired. He could hear Veexith yelling at him to open his eyes; that closing one's eyes can

    cause improper flight of the arrow as archery requires a keen eye, one that always notes the flight path of the arrow. 


    Hasir did not need the older Saxhleel's instruction, howeever, as he heard a thud as the arrow found it's mark. Hasir opened his eyes

    and laughed at Veexith.

    "Can the other archers do that? I think not."


    Veexith slapped Hasir on the snout; hissing indingnantly at him.

    "You could've poked someone's eye out with an arrow! Get down there and do it right, Xuth!"


    Hasir hissed defiantly back and him and sighed. He drew the drawstring back and loosed the arrow. He watch as a flew through the

    air and thudded; dead center, in the red circle of the archery target. 

    Evryone's mouth dropped except for Veexith, who just stood there, looking livid.

    "Lucky shot," he snarled, I bet you one hundred septims you can't do it agaiin."


    Hasir looked at him and smirked.

    "You're on." 


    Veexith gawked at the arrow as it flew through the air, landing next to the arrow Hasir had shot moments before. 

    "Nirn to Veexith... erm... I believe you owe me one hundred septims, fork them over, come on..."


    Veexith fished in his bag, felt the leathery coin purse and handed it to the eagerly awaiting Argonian,

    "Well done, see what not goofing off gets you?" He said, crossing his arms, "Now that I know you can shoot a bow, time for

    something more challenging." 


    Hasir cocked his head at Veexith, not sure if he liked where this was going.

    "Hasir, you have proven yourself a competent archer, but now," He said unsheathing his own bow, "You will face me in a one on one

    battle, if you win, I'll let you hunt with the other Argonians here," He held up a claw in warning, "but, if you fail, you will have to

    polish my bow and sharpen my arrows, deal?"


    Hasir nodded as they both readied their arrows. Veexith turned to him, mid-draw, and smiled.

    "Oh, one more this. This time, the archery target will be moved to one hudrd feet," He nodded at the round haypale positioned past

    the out ring of huts sitting in a grove of trees, "Wouldn't want to make things too easy for you." 


    Hasir growled and looked over at his fellow Argonian; who already had his bow drawn and eyes narrowed, sizing up the distance.

    Hasir heard the 'twang' of Veexith's bow and knew he had already loosed the arrow. Hasir followed suit and watched as Veexith's

    arrow hit the target dead center. Hasir growled and started to sheath his bow when he saw Veexith's jaw drop. He turned and called

    upon his wolf sight and saw that his arrow had split Veexith's arrow wide open. 


    The younger Argonian sheathed his bow and cheered while Veexith looked on in disbelief. Shaking this off, he stuck out his scaly

    hand in congratulation of a hard fought competition; Hasir took it; grinning toothily at the Argonian who said he was now onto the

    next step of his assimiltion: the great Haj-Mota hunt.

    Vexith watched as Hasir crouched and enter the trees with his fellow Saxheel; bow and arrow and the ready. Veexith told Hasir the

    Haj-Mota is a deadly predator and uses camouflage to trick or elude its attackers. He also stated that the reptiles can use its heavily

    spiked tail in close quarters combat as well a dig with their powerful claws to escape attackers. He wished him good luck as he

    walked back to the clearing.


    Hasir watched him leave and inched closer into the trees and he stealthily tracked his hard-shelled prey. He had no idea how he was

    going to spot the Haj Mota because, as Veexith put it, they are masters of Camouflage. Hasir guessed he might have to really on his

    wolf spirit to help him. He sheathed his bow, knelt down and felt the mossy ground with him fingers; it felt wet and moist. After a

    few seconds of seeing nothing, his 'saw' the many colors of the trees, he smelled the ground in greater detail and his mind ran at

    much greater speeds than he could run when the wolf wasn't awakened. 


    He searched for the Haj-Mota but could only see trees and rocks. All of a sudden his mind's eye caught movement on the edge of the

    woods; he had found his prey. Hasir's nose picked up four scents: three Argonians and his aforementioned prey. He walked slowly

    through the forest, listening to the heavy footfalls of his fellow hunters.


    Hasir readied his bow and narrowed his reptilian eyes at the Haj-Mota grazing unaware in a clearing in a circle of trees. The

    Argoinian drew his bow back and aimed for the creature's armored shell, thought better of it and readjusted his aim. The arrow tore

    through the creature's left leg. The giant toad-like creature gave a short cry and fell to its knees as Hasir loosed another arrow.


    He saw arrows flying from the ltree line and multiple 'pings' as the arrows bounced of the Haj-Mota's armored back. Hasir shook his

    head and loosed another arrow; it pierced the creature's chest and it stumbled forward and fell. Hasir started cheering but stopped

    as the creature got up. The young Argonian gritted his teeth, hissed, unsheathed his steel sword and ran at the Haj-Mota. The

    creature swung it's spiked tail at Hasir. He ducked as the tail swung at him like a giant tossing an uprooted tree. Hasir ducked as the

    tail struck a tree. Hasir smirked as the large reptile's spiky tail bit in the bark.


    Hasir gasped as the creature's tail ripped the tree in half. Hasir had to shield his head to prevent him being peppered by the

    hailstorm of wood. He used this opportunity to attack the creature. the Haj-Mota saw this attempt and whipped his head around and

    snapped the Argonian's sword in half.


    Juleen and Xelzaz came up to him and saw Hasir sitting on the ground with bits of broken steel laying about him, fished in his bag

    and extracted a wooden sword with symbols painted into the blade. Hasir looked curiously at the sword as if he expect Juleen to

    betray him.


    Seeing the trepidation, Juleen laughed,

    "Relax, the river never strays from its intended course, I see you have no weapons so you may take this one. I have no need of it,

    I've made far too many as it is. Here, take it." He said, holding the sword aloft as if it was some treasured family heirloom. Hasir

    took it and gawked at the blade which seemed to smell subtily of poison. Juleen smiled and walked towards Hasir aand sat beside

    him. "Mere-Glim and I made the blade, well to be fair he made the styilized blade wheras I made the hilt. We also enlisted the help

    of Xelzaz to craft a poison to coat the blade with."


    Hasir examined the blade further,

    What poison did he craft? Drain health?"


    Juleen shook his head and shrugged. Now that he'd thought about it he never really asked Xelzaz,

    "Dunno. I think he put two enchants on it; paralyze and drain health, I think." Hasir glanced disbelievingly at him, held the sword

    high over his head and swung it down in a lightning fast motion. The enchantment worked as the Haj-mota stopped in his tracks as

    the paralysis tore through its body like an electric shock.


    A few mooments later, the large reptile dropped to the ground, dead. Veexith heard the Argonian's jubilant cry as he felled the giant

    beast. Hasir did not take all the glory for the kill, however, as he knew they all had a hand in this; himself and the other three



    Veexith strode through the woods toward Hasir and placed a warm, caring hand on the Argonian's shoulder.

    "Hasir, you've done well. We'll return to my hut and talk about the next step of your assimilation."   

    Hasir looked at him, bewildered, as they walked up the hill toward Veexith's hut.

    "That... back there...the, er, Haj-Mota hunt, was that supposed to be part of my trial?" Veexith looked at him and nodded. Hasir

    smiled, "Brilliant, was that....erm...a hunting trail or my 'coming of age' ceremony?" Again, Veexith nodded. So, does that mean my

    final trial is that of sport? Is that the, er, Teeba-Hatsei you keep going on about? What if I make a fool of myself? What if I fail and

    the other Argonians laugh at me?"


    Veexith stopped and chuled at Hasir's apparent lack of insight into his races' culture. Veexith patted the Argonian on the shoulder,

    "Hasir, stop being a damned hatchling, will you? Teeba-Hatsei is... well, it's in your blood. You won't make a fool of yourself." He let

    go of the Argonian, "Maybe we can run a quick practice before the real thing, yeah?"


    Hasir nodded and said he would like that.

    "First things first... what are the rules?"


    Veexith told him that he will see when they have reached the Dead-water tribe village that lay north-east of where they now stood.

    Hasir nodded and they walked back to his hut. Once in the hut, Veexith took out a crudely drawn map of Blackmarsh.

    "Hasir, once we reach the village I will review the rules of Teeba-Hatsei." He said, gesturing to the village that lay not far from



    Hasir eyed the map and nodded. Veexith rolled up the map, put it into his bag and left the hut. Hasir followed behind him; both

    excited and a bit apprehensive of both the rules of the sport and how dangerous the sport would be.


    Once outside in the village, Hasir followed the Argonian past the entrance to Lilmoth and had to dodge deadly creatures as they

    made their way through the swamp. They eventually came to a halt before some steps that lead to a city carved from stone. Hasir

    thought this village looked like Markarth but knew it was older than that. He guessed this village had to have been built at or around

    the first or second era.


    Veexith ascended the steps. Hasir followed and saw some rather odd-looking Argonians. He turned and asked Veexith who these frog

    people were.

    "By sithis, Hasir, don't stare. It is rude. Think on this: how would you feel if people stared at you and poked fun at you just for

    having a differently shaped head?"


    Hasir apologized. He did not want to tell Veexith the numerous times where he was put down, stared at or talked about just because

    he was different. After many minutes of walking, Veexith came to a wide open stone platform where Saxhleel athletes were training

    for an upcoming Teeba-Hatsei match. Hasir gaped as he noticed some of them wearing pads made of what looked like a mix of reed

    and histsap on their hips whille others wore no padding at all. Hasir also saw that the Argonians' tails were bulkier as well. Hasir

    gulped and looked at his own tail, wondering if bigger and broader tails faired better in this competition.


    Hasir walked up to an Argonian bouncing a ball off of his tail and inquired what that ball was. Another argonian walked over, laughed

    at inept Argonian and stared at Hasir's tail.

    "Does he expect to play with THAT!?" He asked shocked, that looks like a tail for playing Teeba-Eenu much less Teeba-Hatsei. Hip

    and tail ball requires a beefy tail not a tail that will break if stepped on. How about we do a practice game?"


    Veexith agreed and Hasir gulped. He did not know if this was a good idea. What if he messed up during the practice game? He knew

    if he did, he would definitely be made fun of by the dead-water tribe and possibly every Argonian in Blackmarsh. He knew if he

    failed, the hopes of him assimilating back into the culture of Blackmarsh would be shattered. He would become a social pariah, an



    Mere-Glim, Juleen and Istansehk followed Hasir, Veexith and the deadwater tribe down to a small field of dried mud and hay nestled

    among several stone houses. There were some far off xanmeer that dotted the horzion but Hasir could not be detered by impressive

    architecture as his eyes remained fixed on the impressive arena before them. 


    The Argonians, those not familiar with the game or the field lying before them, gazed on with awe. They saw a rectangular arena

    with a mud and hay field surrounded by a stone wall encompassing the field. Hasir marked how the farthest wall had two reed

    hoops affixed to it; one at thirty hands in height and the other at fifty hands. Encasing the field along with the stone walls were mud

    walls that stood at each end. These were ten hands tall.


    Hasir and his teammates walked down to the field and saw several sets of reed pads leaning against a stone bench that sat against

    the wall. Bewildered, Hasir glanced at the pads. He and the other Argonians placed the brown pads on their elbows and hips. 


    With the pads firmly set in place, Hasir and his companions walked out onto the field. The frog-faced Argonians sniggered as Hasir

    and his friends walked past them. Hearing this, Hasir stopped, turned around and asked what that was about. The self-appointed

    captain of that team, an Argonian named Broad-tail, shook his head disapprovingly.

    "You must have had your egg spent too much time in the shade." He said, laughing, "You and your 'team' are not real Argonians.

    Sithiis' shadow, even the dumb khajiit is making me sick." He said, miming vomiting. Hasir's eyes flashed dangerously in Broad-Tail's

    direction. Mere-Glim and Veexith had to restrain him as they heard the emotionally hurt Argonian snarl and saw he was about to

    about to lunge at Broad-tail. 


    He struggled against his reptilian bonds for a few moments until Inigo placed a caring hand on Hasir's shoulder.

    "My friend, do not engage him. Let it pass. No good can be gained by anger unless it is released in the right way. Channel that anger

    into this sport, whatever it is, and not at the opposing team." Inigo's pumpkinish eyes widened as he stared in the fighting

    Argonian's eyes, "Please, do this for me, besides I don't want to have you get yourself killed before the match has even begun."


    Hasir stopped trying to charge the opposing team like a Haj-mota chasing a frightened salamander and looked at Inigo.

    "I'm sorry Inigo, I just lost my head. When that filthy scaleback insulted you, I could not take that sitting down. I had to do



    Inigo sighed and tried helping theangered Argonian.

    "I know, my friend but anger and violence are not the way to settle things."


    Hasir looked taken aback at the khajiit's line of thought.

    "Well, I won't allow him to punch me in the face without defending myself."

    Inigo sighed and shook his head. Broad-tail took this silence as a sign to start the match. He raised the heavy ball with his hand

    and whacked it hard with his tail. Hasir saw the ball soar into the air, jumped and whipped his tail around, hitting the ball and sent

    it flying the other way. 


    Crying out in pain, the Argonian fell to the ground and grasped his tail. He did not expect it to hurt so badly, but then again, the

    rules were never explained nor why he needed a thicker tail. The Argonian would not let this pain defeat him. He felt it and, praising

    the gods that it was not brken, sprang to his feet just as Broad-tail whacked the ball in his direction. He called out to Veexith who hit

    the ball so hard with his tail that it eluded the opposing team members. It hit the hardened wall. 


    Hasir did not know what this meant but, due to the deadwater Argonians' flabberghasted voices, he guessed he'd just scored a point.

    He wondered how many points it would take to win. Hasir ran to the wall and hit the heavy ball made of Bosa gum hard with his hip.

    It soared through the air. An opposing player hit the ball and scored a point; making it tied.


    Hasir ran toward the ball which an opposing team member had hit. He hit it as hard as he could with his tail toward the lower hoop,

    which gifted him three points. Broad-tail whacked the ball with his tail and it hit an unsuspecting Veexith full in the face; knocking

    out some of his teeth.


    Hasir snarled at him and trieed to call a foul on him. Broad-tail just stared, sneering, at the bleeding Argonian next to Hasir.

    "Come on ref, that was a foul. I thought this was going to be a nice, clean game...hsss!"

    Broad-tail looked at him and laughed; refusing to believe anyone could be so stupid.

    "There are no refs here dryscale. You wanted to play the game, so let's play. I warn you, though, Teeba-Hatsei is quite notorius for

    being bloody."


    Hasir, who was helping Veexith to his feet, growled at Broad-tail.

    "Why didn't you tell me beforehand? This game is more violence than it is a game played for fun. Tell me, how many points do we

    need to win? Hmmm?"


    The Argonian looked at Hasir and snarled at him while gesturing to varous spots on the playing field.

    "Ten. You need ten point to win. If the ball hits the mud wall on your side of the field, you get one point, two points if it's raining, you

    get three points if the ball goes through the lower hoop." He said, pointing to the lowest of the two reed hoops, "If the ball goes

    through the upper hoop, the game is over." He said, eyes flashing maliciously


    His eyes narrowed at Hasir. He laughed at Hasir who was supporting Veexith who was flitting in and out of consciousness.

    "Think you can handle that? You can back out now and no one will stop you. Sure, you may become the laughing stock of

    Blackmarsh but, well, there's no harm in quitting."


    Hasir glared at Broad-tail and snarled. He raised a black-clawed finger and pointed it at the Argonian threateningly.

    Bring it on then. My tail may be 'too weak' as you put it. It may not hold up to your standards or those set by the game but I will try

    my damndest to beat you, you self-centererd, arrogant bitch. I think my team has more spirit in our tails than you have brain cells."


    Broad-tail looked at him and snarled.

    You filthy lizard, you will never be welcome here, even if you did win."


    Hasir hit the ball so hard that with his elbow that it soared the length of the feild and hit the opposite mud wall.

    "Funny, a pesky Nord tells me that all the time and I will prove you and her dead wrong, that I do belong here as I fit in nowhere

    else." He said. A smirk spreading across his face. Broad-tail sneered at the stupid creature before him and smacked him hard with

    his tail. Hasir went flying and hit the mud wall with such force that he was almost knocked unconscious. 


    He got up, wiped mud off of himself and glared at Broad-tail.

    "I thought this was only supposed to be a practice game?" He said narrowing his eyes amd smarling. "Screw it." He said, wiping mud

    from his face, "This game just got personal. I'll beat your and you team into the ground." He growled, flinging himself forward and

    hitting the ball with his tail. He passed the ball to his teammates, who bounced it off of their hips and chered when it hit the mud



    Hasir looked back at Broad-tail and smirked, "If my math is correct, that is five points to your zero. Not bad for a couple of Saxhleel

    who've never played this game, huh?" He said as he jumped into the air to block an opponents scoring attempt.


    Broad-tail counted the players on Hasir's team.

    "No fair! I count only four players on your team." His shocked look soon turned sinister, "It looks like you'll have to either find a fifth

    person or forfeit."


    Just as he was saying that, a khajiit ran onto the field and smiled at Hasir.

    "Sorry I'm late my friend, what's the score?"


    Hasir told Inigo the score but was soon interrupted by Broad-tail's loud laughter. It ranged throughout the arena.

    "You got to be joking, a khajiit? Their tails are notoriously thin and weak? I cannot wait to see him fail on his underdevoloped tail. He

    probably doesn't even know the rules."


    Inigo looked at Broad-tail and pulled a face that, thankfully, Broad-tail couldn't see.

    "Keep making fun of me and we'll see who falls on their tail." He said. He swatted the Teeba with his tail. Hasir and Broad-tail looked

    on, gasping as it soared through the air and hit the mud wall. 


    Inigo's eyes went wide as he followed the ball's trajectory with his eye. He grinned,

    "Touchdown! Looks like we got five points. Five more and we'll be victorious.


    Hasir chuckled to himself and shook his head.

    "Touchdown? Inigo, I think you borrowed your brain from the daedra."


    Inigo narrowed his eyes at the laughing Argonian. Hasir jumped and hit the ball as Inigo served it from his hip. The opposing team

    did everything in their power to prevent them from getting that final point, from delibarately hitting the opposing players to stepping

    on their tails to prevent them from playing the ball. 


    hasir saw this and snarled at Broad-tail who grinned and swung his tail toward the ball that was volleyed in his direction. Hasir

    ripped his tail away and jumped into the air and hit the ball with all his might. It soared through the air and hit the wall. He ran to

    the ball, hit it with his hip and Inigo swung his tail, sending the ball high in the air. Hasir jumped and hit the ball through the upper



    Inigo strode over to Broad-tail and smirked.

    "Not bad for a creature with a whimpy tail, yeah?"


    Broad-tailed snarled, stating that 'this' was far from over. Hasir and Inigo walked over to the frog-like Argonians standing on the far

    side of the playing field and stuck out their hands. The opposing team begrudgingly shook their hands and walked off the field after

    Hasir, Inigo and their team.


    The Argonians and the khajiit smiled to themselves and they took odd the pads. They walked for hours until they reached Lilmoth.

    Hasir looked up at the city and sighed; readjusting his bow and newly created arrows.  He suddenly thought of something and barked

    with laughter.

    "I wonder what Aela will think of my new scaly friendsss?" He hissed. He walk on, sniggering to himself


    He entered the swampy city and knocked on Veexith's hut. His scaly head appeared.

    "Yes? Sorry I don't want any." He said, slowly closing the door.


    Hasir chuckled and pushed the door open, almost knocking Veexith on his ass.

    "Fuuny." He joked; lowering himself into a reed chair. "I played and won your little game." He said, fiddling with one of his claws.

    "Do you have any other tasks for me? Tasks that will make me 'one of the people'?" 


    Veexith shook his spikey head looking at his eggcousin with a amused expression.

    "No, you already did all the proving trials I set out for you. You are now one of us." He thought for a bit, "If you don't have anything

    going on, we have a celebratory feast reserved for every new Blackmarsh citizen. It's called the fishboon festival. For the residential

    Blackmarshites, it's a celebration of the water dragon, Ryujin, arriving from Akavir and giving us Argonians a lot of fish during an

    unfathomably long period of dry earth and withered crops." 


    Hasir brightened at the familiar name.

    "Ryujin? She originated from here? I thought she was from Akavir."


    Veexith slapped his forehead with his palm.

    "Of course she is, mud-for-brains. The ceremony just commemorates her bounty that was given to us in our times of need. She

    governs not just the sea around Avakir but the entire Padomiac sea that spans around the rest of Tamriel." He sighed as he gestured

    to Aquarius, the companions and the blue khajiit. They left the hut to set up the celebration both for the new resident and for the

    scaly resident of the Tamreilic waters."


    Choixth went over to Veexith; their tails intertwning as he kissed her. The pale green female furrowed her eyebrow at him as she

    pulled out of the embrace.

    "Why are you doing the celebration now. Have you forgotten about what today is?" 


    He stared blankly at her. She huffed in annoyance and shot daggers at him.

    "Don't tell me you've forgotten." She said, "today is the anniversary of the day that the Argonian scoundrel, Red Brammen set sail

    from the city of Gideon." Her scaly husband sighed, "I know, I know." She said, sighing again. "Red Bramman is dead. Torn apart by

    the sea. His ship cleaved in two by an invisible sword."


    Veexith shook his head, laughing and envisioned a pirate ship with sails black as midnight adorned with an Argonian skull and

    crossbones parked in a small inlet beside a cave. 

    "You moronic reptile. Bramman is not dead, he is very much alive. He's in a fort on Crimson isle with his crew. There is a cave on

    that island that he had made his home in." She said, eyeing him carefully. "I am worried about him. I would hate having his

    celebratory welcome disrupted by a huge black raven with flaming eyes hanging over him." She looked at him pleadingly; her bottom

    lip protruding slightly.


    Veexith looked at her uneasily and jerked his head to this door.

    "You go ahead. I'll follow." Choixth nodded and left the hut.


    Veexith walked, tail swaying, toward where Aela sat, He took the woven chair opposite her. The female Nord stared at the male


    "What do you want, swampbreath?" He stared open-mouthed at her and doubled-over as she snarled and swiped at him. She looked

    up at him; her face red as a crimson nirnroot. "Look, I don't know what the fuck you lot have planned for Hasir... who I don't like by

    the way." She added hastily, "What do you lot have planned for him? Are you murderers?"


    Veexith shook his head and pushed his chair back from the table and stood up.

    "No we're not murderers. We have not led him to be slaughtered like a cow, if that's what you mean."


    The female nord shook her head and sighed. Veexith turned to a shadowy corner of the hut.

    "Sulahkeesh, can you come here please?" He said.


    The Argonian walked over to the table and sat beside Veexith and embraced him.

    "It is nice to see you again, grandson." The male Argonian returned the gesture


    The aged shadowcale turned to the Nord,

    "So here we are again. You hating Saxhleel and me defending them. Tell me." She said staring at her with milky white eyes, "Why do

    you hate the Saxhleel? Did we do something to sullen your view of our race?" 


    Aela said nothing but continued glaring at the aged Saxhleel.

    "Like I said before. I don't have to tell you anything!" She said as she slammed her dagger into the table. A Bit of straw stripped

    away as the small metal instrument's blade embedded into it. 

    The female nord stood up, removed the small blade, sheathed it and ran toward the door. Sulahkeesh got up and watched her as she

    slammed the hut door. Veexith turned to the elderly Saxhleel.

    "Sulahkeesh, why don't you try to hammer that rusty nail for the reason why she hates Saxhleel." The white eyed Argonian

    nodded and went after the insolent Nord. 


    When the elderly Argonian exited the hut, she saw no sign of Hasir or the girl with hair like flowing fire. She walked around the small

    hut and smelled, near the entrance of the village, a mix of reed and trimethylmine. She tore herself away from the sweet-smelling

    dishes and heard. several voices coming from the sides of the table. Saluhkeesh listened to the voices for a while until she 'saw'

    Hasir and the other Argonians sitting at the table near him. 


    She sat down as Hasir pulled out a chair for her. She heard Veexith's voice as well as that of his Uxith-beeko, Choixth. Veexith stood

    up and addressed the table as a whole. Everyone stopped what they were doing and gazed at him.

    "Eggkin, not only is the fish boon festival upon us but we've another reason to celebrate this auspicious occasion." He turned to Hasir

    and beamed. "This Saxhleel, who returned home after many moons in a distant land, has finally found what it means to be a

    member of Blackmarsh, that and... he completed all the trials I and the An-Xileel had set out of him." 


    There was a chorus of applause at this rather jubilant message. Inigo slapped Hasir on the back.

    "Well done, my friend. You did well. That and... well, I'm starving. Let's eat." He said, eyeing the clam chowder with greed.


    Aela reached over the table and flicked Inigo on the nose. The khajiit rubbed his sore nose while glaring at her indignantly. She

    crossed her arms and shook her head. The blue khajiit slumped into his chair, muttering gloomily. Veexith leaned over and slapped

    the Nord.

    "Stupid nord. Your thinking is as constricted as the land you come from. Everyone, Saxhleel or otherwise, can join in on the fish boon

    festival." He gestured from the khajiit to the fish stew, "Go on, enjoy it." He said smiling. Inigo thanked him and ate the bowl full of

    clams and crabmeat. Saluhkeesh looked at her grandson and asked if Red Bramman would make a surprise appearance. He glanced

    toward the ground and slowly shook his head. 


    Hasir turned to Sulahkeesh; eyebrow raised.

    "You know of Red Bramman? I would love to meet him."


    Sulahkeesh shook her head, sighed and told the young Saxhleel about what horrible things the pirate had done and how today is the

    anniversary of the pirate's vast misdeeds when he sailed from Gideon along the east coast of Blackmarsh. She told Hasir how Red

    resides on an island to the east of blackmarsh. 


    Hasir's eyes brightened as he rested the wooden spoon on the bowl.

    "Maybe we can pay him a visit. I've only had dreams about him. It would be nice to finally put a name to a face and ask him all kinds

    of questions.


    Saluhkeesh looked at Veexith with a confused expression and then back at Hasir.

    "Erm... I don't think that's a great idea. Red Bramman and his water-borne thugs are not exactly friendly." 

    Hasir sighed and rested his head on his arms, enpregnating the reed table. Inigo looked at him and rubbed his back.

    "Hasir, I know how you feel. I miss someone as well." He was about to say something else when a loud yell could be heard nearby.


    Hasir and shot out of their seats and rushed to the source of the sound. Just outside of a swampy puddle lay a female Argonian face

    down in a mud puddle.


    Hasir ran toward her and helped her up and hugged her.

    "K'hairi, you made it!" He said, excited. "His skipey brows furrowed, "How did you get here?"


    The female Argonian told him that Kynareth granted her acess via a portal connecting Eldergleam Sanctuary with the dreary swamp

    she now stood in. She walked toward Hasir and embraced him. He stroked her leafy black hair and leaned into her embrace. He

    pulled away, telling her that the village was having a celebration due to him completing a Saxhleel rite of passage. She nodded as he

    led her to the celebration as she marveled at the strange huts on stilts and the reed paths snaking their way between them.


    After greeting the many Saxhleel smiling at her, she sat beside the blue khajiit.

    "Hi, my name is K'hairi, I am Hasir's hatching mate. I was with him when we were birthed in one of the many hatching pools that lay

    strewn about the Marsh." 


    Inigo looked at her uncertainly. He was not sure what a 'hatching pool' was but he was relieved to share a conversation with

    someone related to Hasir. He was a bit unnerved but also relieved to be part of a kind of haphazard interracial family. One thing,

    though, was different. This inpromptu family did not find Inigo's color of fur odd like many of the khajiit on Elsweyr. These Argonians

    also did not shun him as if he was unclean like many cities of Skyrim. He knew Hasir was pleased to be spirited away from that dark

    cloud of rascism as well.

    Hasir got up and walked from the table to the edge of the pale green water where he saw a dark shadow swimming toward him. He

    beamed as the creature surfaced, not minding the cascade of water that flowed over him. It felt to him as though he had just had a

    refreshing swim, cooling his scales, he stared the blue dragon in her sea-blue eyes.

    "Ryujin, nice to see you again." He said. He regarded her, scratching his chin, "What are you doing here?"


    The dragon bowed her head in greeting.

    "I have come here only to observe the festival."


    Hasir stared at her, shocked.

    "You have?" He composed himself and sighed, "Look, Ryujin, This festival is nice and all but I am like a helpless ant watching my

    fellow ants getting butchered by hawks. I am going crazy here. I should be out there finding out what Molag Bal is up to and getting

    closer to my goal of stopping him and his children, not sitting here eating stew." He said, gesturing to the table.


    He looked at her and saw a knowing grin stretch across her face. 

    "Waiting is hard, I know. You should revel in your celebration. Who knows how long peace will last...especially with Stone fire

    gaining a stranglehold on the continent of Tamriel and the creatures that inhabit it." Hasir sighed, resigning himself to the fact that

    she was right. She used her paddle-like fins tto inch closer to him. "I do know, however, that the dark brotherhood in this region is

    hiring, if you would like to join." 


    Hasir mulled this thought over in his brain and nooded.

    "Sulahkeesh had the same idea." He said. "I do have one reservation, however. I am a dragonkinght. I don't know how well

    dragonknights mesh with the shadowscales." He said, twiling his tail in nervousness, "I know my parents were raised shaowscales

    but I don't know if..."


    The aquatic dragon shot him with a piercing stare.

    "Hasir, forget about what your parents want. Do what you want." She said authoritatively. "Only you can shape your destiny. Other

    people can give you advice, but, they cannot control what you do." As she said this, she touched his moist scales with her flipper.


    He nodded and pointed, uncertainly, to the small island to the east. The dragon followed his gaze and knew he wanted to know more

    of Red Bramman. He told he of the dreams he'd had about the Argonian pirate and the grisly end that he faced, almost as if it was a

    premonition. She smiled.

    "Hasir, they are just that, dreams. They don't dictate your future. You are free to go your own way. Don't let being confined to one

    path in life deter you. Follow your heart. If it tells you to investigate that fort over there, then do so. Your end goal is clear but do not

    hesitate to make various pit stops along the way. Trust in your intuition. It can guide you to do extraordinary things." She glanced

    past the kneeling Argonian to a blue khajiit gorging himself on fish stew. "If that is your path, you'd better share that journey with

    others." She turned around and glanced over her soulder at him, "I can take you over there, if you'd like."


    Hasir said that would be wonderful and went to get Inigo. He walked up behind Inigo, poking him in the shoulder. The khajiit looked

    up from his food and turned to look at the Argonian.

    "Yes my friend, what is it?" He asked warmly


    Hasir told him about the crimson isle, the pirate fortress and the untold riches that could be found there. The khajiit beamed hugely

    and together, he and the Argonian walked to where the water dragon waited.