C.o.t.W Chapter 117: The Realm of Shadow



Hasir and Arcadia walked until the recieved a metaphorical punch in the gut. A massive black building that had orange drapes with

midnight blue Oblivion symbols outlined in black hanging off it like flesh off of a rotting animal. The building looked like it had been in

disuse for a long time. The wooden paneling looked like it had been half-eaten by wood nymphs and the porch roof sagged as if sat

on by a Sload.


Hasir took a step towards it but the Imperial's hand shot out; her face ashen.

"Walking into an abandoned house, are you crazy?" Nervously, she gestured to the building, "look at the state of it. I-it looks like a

strong gust of wind could... not even that, a-a normal gust of wind could topple this place. Hasir, let's reconsider... please."


Hasir thought about this and shook his head, shaking the potions mistress off of him.

"Arcadia, if you are concerned that I may be dismember in there, go and wait for me at the potions shop. I just want to check this

out. Once I find there is nothing dangerous about that place than I will come and get you." He said calmly. Something that was the

last thing on Arcadia's mind, feeling calm. He knew her nerves were standing at attention.


In a shaky voice, Arcadia said,

"Y-yes b-but what if Molag Bal is somehow connected to this?"


Hasir turned and looked at her.

"I'll just have to take that into account. I have a hunch, however, that Molag Bal had nothing to do with this. Now go and wait inside

the city. I won't be long." He said, turning to the mysterious shop again.


When he was sure she was safely inside the city, he walked up to the house. The stairs creaked as he ascended them, causing him to

stop and glanced about with every step. On the porch, he saw cages of various sizes and a different animal residing in each one. He

blanked them and proceed inside.


The interior was decorated in the same fashion as the exterior; with a few exceptions. An orange carpet with black cobswebs on it

ran along the middle of the store. An oak counter littered with potion bottles and animals feed bags stood at the end of the room

with black cages that, Hasir saw, housed all manner of creatures from rabbits and ravens to owls and falcons. Hasir look around him

and saw the same cages that stood at the end likewise dominated the sides of the shop.


Hasir saw the same cloaked Altmer that Arcadia had described feeding the creatures what looked like septims - only smaller. He

walked passed the to the counter at the end; not wanting to see what exactly he was feeding them. He approached the wooden

counter and saw a midnight blue-tail khajiit cloaked in black talking in hushed tones to the animals. Hasir cleared his throat loudly.

Yelping, the khajiit turned around and smiled,

"You must be here for a furry companion, yes?" He said


Hasir shook his head, gesturing towands Whiterun.

"No thanks, one is enough. To be honest, He can be a real handful."


The khajiit frowned and pointed to the animals. The argonian gathering her meaning immediately while looking a bit perturbed

because he didn't seem to understand his attempt at a joke. He noticed that the khajiit had pumpkinish orange eyes; the same as



A voice at the back of Hasir's mind awoke as like a wolf from slumber and recognized its chance to pounce.

"Excuse me sir, but are you related to a khajiit that goes by the name of Inigo?"


The khajiit placed its claws on the counter and stared, eyes narrowed, at Hasir.

"Excuse you Argonian?" You seriously this this one looks like a male khajiit. Well, you are mistaken. khajiit males have broader

faces. Does my face look broad to you?" The argonian shook his head. "Argonian is correct, it doesn't. Now, for argonian's question if

this one knows Inigo, he is this one's son." Her head became a leaf on a dead tree, "Apologies argonian, this one neglected to tell

you her name. She smiled and looked at him as her eyes threatened to burn him, "This one's name is Attala. She apologizes for

keeping a rather low profile but Attala hoped that if she interfered that Inigo will befall the same fate as Fergus."


Hasir mouth hit the floor. He had no idea that Inigo's birth mother did not want to meet her son. 

"Youu have to meet your son." He told her, "He misses you, though he rarely talks about you." Hasir looked at her wonderingly, "How

exactly did you come to own a shop like this. Come to think of it, how did you come to Skyrim?"


Attala sighed and told the Argonian that was a rather long story. He said he wanted to her it and that his name with Hasir not

argonian. She nodded; saying she meant no disrespect by calling him by his race. Hasir smiled appreciatively. Attala told him she

always liked animals and was waylaid on day on he way to the market by a daedra with a penchant fror ravens. She told Attala that if

she did this small favor for her that she would stall her brother from carrying out his judgement upon the entire world.  


Hasir asked her what she did. Attala told him that she had no choice but to sell her animals or familiars as she called them in order

to escape Molag Bal's wrath.


Hasir thought this over and chuckled to himself.

"Attala, Nocturnal lied to you. Don't get you tail in a knot about it, they do it to everyone. By Oblivion, I'm sure I was fucked over by

the daedra a time or two. Molag Bal is putting his plan to write a new book of Tamrielic history; one that completely blots out the

reality we know." Attala look at him, a bit worried. Hasir chuckled again, Daedra can give a fuck about us mortals. They see us a

pawn in their royally fucked up game of chess. Do what you want not what someone else has forced you to do. You, alone, are in

charge of your destiny; no one else."


Attala considered this but quickly brushed this thought off like a bug thaat'd scuttled into her fur.

"Enough of that. Back to business. You are here for a furry companion, yes? Pick. There is no wrong choice. All of them are suitible

for whatever magic you wish to perform. Might this one suggest either the cat, owl or raven. They are each dependable; in their own

special ways."


Hasir browsed the animals that were caged behind the counter, telling her that this was for Inigo, not him, as Inigo lost his pet in an

accident. Atalla nodded and did not press the argonian for answers.

"Hmmm... I can't see Inigo with a cat, given his fear of dead things. I can, however, see him with something that flies. Hmmm... I

will go with the raven... no, no, wait. The raven might accidentally peck out his eyes, mistaking him for a miscolored cadaver." He

sighed, "Don't you have a bird that can hunt for food? A Falcon perhaps?" 


Attala took a cage from the stack of cages and put it on the counter. Upon closer inspection, Hasir saw a brown, white and black

plumed bird peering out a him with magicificent yellow eyes. Hasir asked how much the falcon will be.

"The falcon? He is norally five hundred septims, but since you know this one's son, perhaps a deal can be struck. What say you to

knocking off about half? two hundred and fifty septims, sound fair?" Hasir nodded, handed over the gold and thanked her. 


He turned toward the door and was about to walked through it when she called out to him.

"Hasir, how about bringing Inigo to see Attala sometime? Perhaps I can go to Whiterun to see him? I bet he would like that." Hasir

said he would definintely ask and turned and exited the shop, cage in hand.


He opened the city gate and walked up to Jorrvaskr. He opened the door to find the comapanions still sitting at the horshoe table

with some sort of map between them. Hasir walked up and placed the cage in front of Iningo. At the sight of the overgrown cat, the

caged bired bite and clawed at every bit of its cage in a bid for freedom. The companions, mainly Aela, groaned as all their hardwork

was scattered to the four winds. They tore their eyes away from the mess on the floor and stared at Hasir; hatred in their eyes. The

falcon finally broke free of its cage and took to the sky, using the highest beam of the hall as its perch.


Aela shot daggers at Hasir who slid lower in his seat, hoping to avoid her eye contact.

"What in Oblivion were you thinking. Sending a bird in here? You do know khajiit see birds as prey, right? Not only that but you do

relalize that wplves eat birds? Use you're head for once!" She chuckled silent to herself, "Right, you're brains are as mushy as you

homeland, I forgot." Aela got out the table and leapt to the nearest wooden pole; scaling it like a monkey. "You should pray to

Hircine I don't catch you bird, else I'll fry it up for dinner. If I don't catch it. You can bet Red will. She hasn't fed in quite all while and

she loves birdies."


Kodlak strode up from the undercroft and saw Aela shimmying up one of the wooden rafters. He looked from her to the roof of the

rafters where a screeching falcon sat.

"Aela! What in Oblivion do you think you're doing? Have you had the sense knocked out of you or has the wolf posessed you. Get

down here now! Leave that poor bird alone. I wonder how it got in her in the first place. I wonder... did Farkas or Vilkas leave the

door ajar?"


Hasir got up and strode over to the harbinger, waving his hands above his head.

"Harbinger, go easy on her. She had nothing to do with this nor did anyone leave the door open. I bought the bird from a new shop

that popped up near one of the farms in the area." His head dropped to his chest, "If anyone is to be punished, it should be me."


The harbinger stopped yelling at the nord who hopped down from the pole, and questioned the argonian's motives.

"By the gods Hasir! Bringing a bird in the wolves' den, what on Tamriel were you thinking?"


The Argonian recounted the story of how he and Arcadia went to this rater unorthodox shop that sold animals and how he met

Inigo's birth mother.


Inigo, hearing this, tripped over the table in his haste to hear more of the story. Plates and goblets scattered as the khajiit ran to

Hasir's side.

"My friend, you did not tell me you met Attala. Why is she here?" Hasir shrugged as a white substance cascaded onto the blue

khajiit's shoulder. Apparently the falcon disagreed with them; either that or it chose that moment to relieve itself. Inigo looked up

and started employing every Ta'agran swear word he could think of. "What is that monster doing here?" He asked gesturing toward

the rafter. 


Hasir and Kodlak laughed as the saw the white suffusing the khajiit's furry armor.

Relax Inigo." Hasir said, wiping his eyes. "I bought that 'monster' for you as a way of apologizing for getting your dragonfly killed."


Inigo shook his head. Even though he had to admit, he admired Hasir's attempt at shoulder all of the blame.

"No, my friend. You are mistaken. Xelzaz killed Mr. Dragonfly, not you."


Hasir thought about this and raised a claw.

"Indirectly... he indirectly caused it. I was the once who thought a race would be a good idea. To reiterate, I bought you a falcon to

atone for my past misdeeds." He face screwed up in thought. "Your mother, Attala, said she would like to see you. We can go now if

you'd like." 


Inigo gave asort of funny head spasm that was a mix between a nod and a shake of the head.

"Erm... I would love to, my friend, but my mother left me on the orphanage over twenty years ago. This might be like attract a falcon

to a scared little mouse." He sighed, "If that's what you want, I wouldn't stop you, but I dunno about myself.."


A lightbulb went on in Hasir's mind. His tail danced behind him like an excitable dog.

"Call the falcon, assuming you've given him a name. If that works," He shrugged, "the answer will become a mirror pond in the the

darkness of your mind. If not, well... let's see how things go." 


The blue khajiit nodded and whistled a high shrill note. The falcon heard this and descended to rest upon his shoulder.

"I already have. His name is Courage." He looked at his scaly friend, "do you like it?"


Hasir looked blankly at him while trying to mentally grasp this rather odd name.

"Inigo, there are multitudes of good names for birds and you went with Courage? Why?"


The blue khajiit walked over to a lone chair by the fire and sat down. Hasir sat in the chair opposite. Inigo told him that he'd picked

the name because of the undead eyes he'd seen in his nightmares he'd had every night since the unsavory experience. The argonian

leaned forward, eagerly awaited the khajiit's next words with bated breath. The khajiit turned to the fire as if he could see images in

the flames.


He gestured to the bedroom he'd had prior to the relocation. 

"Every night, I had the same dream. Draugr surround me with you and Fergus among them; pearly white bones sticking out of the

sponge-like decayed flesh. I screamed as they tore into me, just like the sweetroll nightare I had a few months ago. Anyway, back to

my original point. The nightmares had the same result until a women garbed in green turned the dead into butterflies that tickled me

with their legs." Hasir thought he knew who this woman was. The khajiit's exoression confirmed his suspisions. "That woman was

mother nature - the earth goddess, Kynareth... whatever you choose to call her - anyway, she purged the undead and manufactered

a plain full of flowers. She summon a bird with beautiful brown, black and white plumage. She told me that the bird, a falcon, was

meant to give me that which I lack most - courage." 


The Argonian smirked. He always liked Inigo's divines-given gift of storytelling. Inigo turned scarlett upon noticing this.

"Thank you, my friend. Your atteniveness is worth more than all the gold on Tamriel. With you by my side, I feel I can tackle

anything, even the undead. The khajiit smiled at the argonian, "There you have it. That is why I gave the falcon the name of 



Hasir asked the blue khajiit if he wanted to accompany him to the strange store. The khajiit nodded and followed Haisr out in the

chilly Whiterun air. Hasir lead the way down to the city gate, blanking the city inhabitants' curious gazes as the beheld the falcon.

Once outside the city, the Argonian weaved a snake-like path down to the archway, through the farmers' crops, ingoring the farmer's

angry cries and, finally, to the shop.


Hasir walked toward the store. Inigo could hear the creaks of the stairs as his friend ascended them. He looked skyward at the

menacing building with its equally uninviting tapestries and ran after his friend; taking the steps two at a time.


Hasir was about to open the door when Inigo knocked him to the ground. Courage was sent bouncing painfully off the porch. He

successfully wrestled the khajiit off him and he got to his feet, shot daggers at Inigo and asked what in Oblivion he was doing. 


Inigo got to his feet and whistled to the falcon who obediently flew to his shoulder. He winced as he felt the bird's claws dig into his



"My friend, do not go in there. Who knows what horrors await us in there. For all we know, there might be daedra in there." He said,

eyes wide in fright.


The argonian chuckled and waved this off. 

"Inigo, I've been in the building before. It is not going to devour us like a crazed wolf."


Inigo thought about this and, somehow, knew his scaly friend was right. Hasir opened the door, blanking the cries of the animals,

and entered. Inigo gulped and followed.


When he crossed the threshold, he saw his mother at the end of a room flanked by orange banners and occupied cages and went up

to the counter, smiling broadly. Attala glanced from her son to the falcon she'd sold a few hours earlier. 

"My son, how are you? You are eating well? 


Inigo stayed silent. He wasn't sure how to answer as he hadn't seen her in a while.

"Hi mom, er..." He sctratched the back of his neci, "How did you get here?"


Attala glanced over to Hasir and decided now was not the best time to tell him of her jouney. She disappeared beneath the counter

and put a leather glove from which a strap depended on its wooden surface. Inigo screwed his face up as he gestured to the glove.

"Is this for me?" He asked. 


Attala nodded and once again, glanced for him to the bird.

"Well, not for Inigo specifically, no. The reason Attala got to glow was for the Falcon."


Inigo, again, screwed up his face in confusion.

"What do you mean?" He asked, holding the glove as if it where something grotessque.


Attala told Inigo about the glove and it use.

"Inigo, this," She said, gestured to the glove, "is called a falconer's glove. It is the quintessential tool in the sport of falconry." She

gazed at Inigo's face, "What this one means by that is some hunters use falcons to track animals and humans from a distance so its

owner can get an accurate read on their location. The other use of falconry is to have to falcon hunt for food or carry thing for the

falconer." She nodded the bag of animal pellets next to the cage by the door. "If khajiit does not believe Attala, call upon your falcon

to bring it to Attala."


Inigo nodded, called Courage to his gloved hand and lifted his wrist in a swift motion. He felt the pressure of the glove lessen as the

flacon took to the sky. He gasped as he saw the falcon shoot, like a bullet, to the feed bag, grip it in his claws and flew, in an arc, to

Inigo's outstretched glove. He caught the bag as the falcon released his vice-like grip and slid handed the bag to the female khajiit.

"Here you go. One feed bag, as promised." He said, giving her a smile and a wink.


The black khajiit smiled, stored the bag below the counter and congratulate Inigo on his wonderful control of the falcon. She told him

that he was the only one to clearly see the objective in his mind insofar as to direct the falcon towards his goal without any

problems. Inigo turned to the door and motioned for Hasir to follow him. Inigo stopped and he heard something hurtle towards him

like a bird on the wind. He caught it when the bag was at its zenith.


He turned to Attala and raised a black eyebrow. 

"What is this for? as you are aware, I am not a bird. You couldn't scrounge for a can of cat food?"


Attala chuckled to herself and shook her head.

"You silly khajiit." She said, waggling her clawed finger at him, "that is not for you. That is for the bird. By the way, may I ask what

you named him?"


Inigo smiled as he faced the door again.

"Courage. I named the falcon Courage because I am a spineless khajiit who hides from everything so I thought all I needed was

little... courage."


Attala smiled, saying that was a wonderful name for a falcon and she also told Inigo that he didn't eat cat food; not even when he

was a little kitten."


Inigo smiled to himself and waved at his mother as he, his new furry friend and the argonian left the shop.


They walked under the archway and through the Whiterun city gate, past the market and up to the mead hall. When Hasir and Inigo

entered, Aela got up from her seat and walked up to them.

"That bird should be in chains," She lowered her voice to a whisper, "or at the very least shipped to the swamp with the ungrateful



Hasir heard this and delivered a roundhouse kick to the fiery-haired nords snobbish face. Aela flew backwards and hit on of the

pillars by the horseshoe table. Aela got up, isheathed her twin iron daggers and ran, like a bull that just saw red, at the argonian.

Hasir anticipated this and lifted his tail causing the nord to misjudge her swiped and send the daggers crashing down on one of the

tables instead of her intended target. 


Aela was so angry at Hasir that she did not see the harbinger standing directly behind her. Seeing only the argonian in her tunnel

vision, she turned and ran at the argonian; daggers poised for the kill. Again, Hasir saw this and summoned his flame whip and

lashed out at the nord, who foolishly tried to block this with her crossed daggers.


The flame whip heated the daggers to a dangerous level. Aela shrieked as the daggers flew past the harbinger, who ducked to avoid

getting scalded by the burning metal and watched as the daggers imbedded themselves into the wood above the training yards door.

Kodlak stared from the daggers sticking out of the wood like they were mere decoration and walked towards Aela, sword drawn.


Hasir gulped as he saw the harbinger's sword within an inch of the nord's neck. He was completely caught offguard by this. How

could the harbinger kill his only grand daughter? Yes, she was a bitch to him but that did not give Kodlak the right to cut her head



Hasir ran toward the harbinger.

"Kodlak, don't kill her. This was my fault." He said, trying to diffuse the tense situation, "technically it was her fault but if you spare

her. I will bear the brunt of the blame... call it my croos to bear."


Aela stared angrily at the argonian and spat in his face.

"Fuck you. I don't need sympathy. Especially not from a spineless scale back such as you. You should've packed up and moved when

you had the chance."


Hasir retreated a nd winked at Kodlak.

"Okay. Kill her. She means nothing to me."


The harbinger smirked and raised his sword above his head, preparing for the killing blow. Seeing an opening, Aela transformed and

flung herself at the argonian. Inigo saw this and set down the bag he was feeding Courage with and quickly joined the fray. Courage

took to the sky, flying between the rafters as a gymnast flying through hopps and flew straight at the red wolf. She howled with pain

as the falcome used his razor-sharp claws to tear at her hide and eyes. The wolf tried to swat the annoying mosquito away with her

paws but he was too agile for her to do anything with. Red snarled and lunged at the bird. Hasir dropped down and kicked her hard

in the stomach; knocking the wind out of her sails.


Red got to her paws, snarled andd ran at the sly Argonian. Hasir transformed and the black werewolf lynged at her. Wood vomited

forth as he pinned the struggling wolf to the wall near the door to the city. Red yelped like aa dog caught in a hunter's trap as the

black claws dug into her throat.


Inigo strode over to the Argonian and gasped as he saw bloodlust in his eyes as he slowly drew blood from the She-wolf. He

positioned himself between his fried and the wolf. Hasir tried pushing him out of the way so he could get at the red wolf but Inigo

remained steadfast. He whistled to the falcon. the bird flew at the Argoniaan and proceeded to claw and bit at every bit of expose

scale he could reach. 


With that done, Courage returned to the khajiit's gloved hand. He glared at Hasir as he started to transform. The khajiit told the

black werewolf to think abaout what he was about to do but the wolf batted the khajiit to the side. Inigo hit the wall nearest the

stairway and slid to the floor, unconscius. 


Kodlak appeared at the top of the stairs and saw the snarling werewolf and Inigo laying unconscious. He went over to Aela.

"What in Oblivion is going on here?" He glanced over to the blue khajiit puppet with cut strings, "Who did this?" Angrily, the female

nord pointed a shaky finger to the werewolf standing in front of her. Kodlak round on Twilight. The werewolf batted the harbinger

aside with one swipe of his paw. Kodlak hit the wooden plank above the training yard door, rebounded off of it and went straight for

the raging werewolf. He unsheaathed his silver sword; a sword he keeps secret just for these, unfortunate, circumstances.


He wielded the sword and stabbed it straight into the wolf, just above the heart. Twilight whined but advanced on the harbing

er; ripping into the harbinger with inch thick clasw. Kodlak toppled over as if he'd been paralyzed. His eyes widened with fright as the

wolf came closer. In a desperate attempt, he grabbed several metal goblets and bits of silver from the table behind him and threw

them at the werewolf. The silver missiles flew through the ir and broke upon Tiwilight thick hide like waves uppon a beach.


The wolf howled in pain , unsheathed her daggers and cut into Twight's black fur. but advanced on Kodlak undetered by the silver

biting into his fur. Aela got up, unsheathed her daggers and ran at the maddened lycanthrope. Her daagger bit deep into his fur.

Twilight's breathing becam labored and, with a final, pitiful, whine he slumped to the floor. Aela watched with a sneer as the black fur

receded into green scales.


Kodlak and Aela found a bit of rope and bound the argoniaans arms and forced Hasir's mouth shut as they also wrapped the rope

around his snout, got him to his feet and went down to the undercroft to his office. Aela pushed a button beside Kodlak's bookshelf

revealing a doorway that opened onto a dimly lit passageway with torches on the wall and a grey stone staircase descending



Aela and Kodlak led the bound Argonian down the steps; not caring if he bumped his tail or fell on the wall down. When they reached

the bottom, Aela gasped. A room with the same color stood as the area the had left stretched out before her: four huge silver cages

lay against the wall opposite and the wall nearest the stairs; large enough to house two fully grown werewolves. Aela turned her face

away from this display and locked her eyes on the far wall where she'd found was all manner of shackles and restraints. 


Aela turned to look at Kodlak as he deposited the limp argonian in one of the cages.

"Harbinger, what are these?" she said, gesturing to the cages.


Kodlak gave her a rather dark look as if he didn't want to dredge up the dark past; assuming there was one. Aela glanced around;

avoiding the harbinger's gaze as if it was an ice spike. She saw a lone table standing near the restraints with a wide array of strange

steel inmplements along with a book with a cover depicting a werewolves being tortures on a rack torture device with silver spikes.


She glanced wonderingly at Kodlak.

"Erm... harbinger, what's with the book and the torture tools?"


Kodlak turned toward her, smiled and picked up one of the instruments.

"Ysgramor set this up for Terrfyg. He wanted to ensure that the Companions back then did not find out that Ysgramor's most

trusted captian turned itno a monster. The cages were for him and any other poor soul the Glenmoril witches decided to taint with

the awful curse. As for the book and instruments, they are for dissecting the captain. As for the book, well, that is for... let's just say

there is more than one way to skin a wolf." 


Aela stared with horror at the cages and she finally understtod. Kodlak was looking for a cure by any means nessecary. Aela knew

that he wanted to go to Sovngarde but she had no idea that he would go to such great, and terrible, lengths. 


Aela swore at the harbing. She thought she knew the harbinger. Now, she was not so sure.

"Why are you doing this Kodlak?" She said, tears falling down her face. "This is because of you thinking lycanthropy is a curse, isn't

it?" Kodlk nodded as he locked the cage Hasir was put in and prodded him with one of the steel instruments. 


Aela felt red growling in her mind cage but the female nord pushed her back and breath a sighed of relief as she saw the argonian

stir. She threw herself at the cage as she saw the Argonian transform. Aela stopped in her tracks as a loud wolfish shriek echoed

around the room. Her hatred for Kodlak wanting to cure his lycanthropy by experimenting on others trumped her hatred for the



Kodlak went over to the table, opened the book and grabbed a multitude of steel instruments. He walked over to the cage holding

the black and white werewolf and stuck a long, thin instrument through one of the holes and scraped it along the wolf's back as if it

was sandpaper. Tears streamed from Aela's eyes as she heard Twilight screams for a second time. 


Twilght thrust a black-furred arm out and slahed at the harbinger's face. He cut a mark in Kodlak's face that Aela would be proud of.

The harbinger stumbled backward and fell against the wall near the spiral stairs. Aela went over to the cage and unlocked it. Twilight

barked his thanks to her and leapt out of the silver cage. He advanced on the harbinger, lifted him in the air and slammed him

repeatedly in to stone, spattering the wall with blood.


The black and white werewolf raised his paw and was about to end the harbinger's miserable life when Aela's arm shot out and

grabbed the werewolf's tree-like arm. He narrowed his eyes at the nord barricade and swiped at her with his other paw. Aela saw

this, unsheathed her twin daggers and met the descending claw. Her narrowed eyes met the wolf's blue ones. 

"Hasir don't do this. I know you are pissed but you are no killer." She thought over this thought carefully, "well, poor choice of words,

knowing that our lot are natural killers. I meant to say that Kodlak is not worth your time." 


The wolf grunted as if in agreement and back away from Kodlak and howled out. The nine foot werewolf shrank and scales appeared

as if some chaameleon spell had lifted. Hasir looked pitifully at the Harbinger and then at Aela.

"Aela, what are we going to do with him?" He asked, "are we going to leave him her to rot? Perhaps we should restrain him using the

restraints found here."


Aela shook her head, thinking that that was not a good idea.

"He is only doing this because he has no other option. Don't villify him over some misguided assumption. He wants to enjoy the

afterlife in Sovngared. Don't do this, please. We can reason with Kodlak without the use of violence. Perhaps he has some command

humaniod spell cast on him, probably by the Silver Hand to perform some horrible torture to werewolves in exchange for a cure to

his own lycanthropy."


The harbistireed and Aela, sensung this, balled her hand into a fist and held Kodlak to the wall with the other. The harbinger looked,

wide-eyed, at Aela, he had no idea that one of his underlings would turn on him. He wriggled like a frighten worm trying to get free.

The nord's or, more accurately, Red's eyes stared at the harbinger with distrust.

"Stop struggling, you son of a bitch! Who are you and what did you do to the real Kodlak?"


The harbinger struggled aginst the hold she had on him, trying to wrench her arm from his flaling body. Hasir flung himself at the

mad Nord. Aela, now more word than Nord, quickly dodged this and the argonian flew headfirst into the harbinger causing both of

them to crumple to the floor. Gasping for breath, Kodlak thanks Hasir for coming to his rescue. The argonian nodded and said it was

no problem. 


Kodlak got to his feet, adjusting his back that was used as a battering ram and smiled at Hasir. Aela, however, did not share this

enthusiasm as she knew that the harbinger had alterior motives. She glared at Hasir, punching him in the shoulder. Hasir winced,

letting out a yelp of pain and growled at the Nord.

"What was that for?" He asked her, massaging his shoulder


She glared at him.

"For helping assist a possibly werewolf murderer."


Hasir strode over to Kodlak, looked between him and Aela.

"Kodlak is not a murderer? I believe he has a kind soul within his. No, he would not do anything like this willingly no matter how

badly he wants to rid himself of the 'curse.' Someone must've cast 'command humanoid' on him or must have had other means to

control him. I think either the Silver Hand or the Glenmoril witches are doing it. We must go to both Glenmoril coven and Gallows

Rock to find out for certain."


Aela's face screwed up in though as she considered this. She walked over to the small table and grabbed a sinister looking

instrument with serrated teeth cut into its long, thin, spear-like body and pressed it against Kodlak's throat.

"Why go there? We have all the proof right here. Why don't we just end it right here and now?"


The argonian groaned and prayed to Hircine and Kynareth that the aangry Nord would see sense. He knew, however, this line of

thinking was flawed because she always lets her wolf make the decisions.


Inigo finished his meal of spiced cider and venison chops when he realized yjr awkward silence that permeated the hall. He went to

the kitchen, put the mug and dishes in the sink and wnet to the stairs leading to the undercroft.

"Kodlak, Hasir, Aela? Anyone there?"


He heard no reply come for behind the closed door so he walked down to the door and opened it.

"Courage, find out if any of them are in trouble and report back to me." The falcon chirped in ascent and disappeared into the

cavernous undercroft. 


Inigo decided to what for Courage at the horshoe table. After a few minutes had elapsed, the perrigrin falcon returned with news of

Hasir's location. Inigo told the falcon to lead him to his location. The falcon chirped and flew down the steps, closely follow by the

blue khajiit; his tail swaying side to side behind him. He followed the falcon that flew just ahead of him into Kodlak's study and down

a secret passageway the he did not realize before. When they reached the bottom, Inigo's eyes we wide as Aela as Hasir stared at

each other, eyes narrowed and weapons drawn.


He positioned himself between Aela and Hasir while the flacon circled around them as if marking them for some great hunt.

"Aela, stop. Think about what you're doing. Hasir is not the enemy."


She gestured toward Kodlak with her head while swiping at Hasir who leapt back to avoid getting cut.

"True. Hasir isn't the enemy. Kodlak is. I'm just dealing with a big, scaly roadblock at the moment."


Inigo did not know what she meant about the harbinger being the enemy but, from his point of view, the nord was the villiain here,

not Kodlak. He truned toward the harbinger and asked why they though he was not himself. 

"Well Inigo," Kodlak said, matter-of-factly, "the reason that this... wolf turned vulture thinks I am at fault is because she and I

suspect Hasir as well believe that lycanthropy is a blessing sent down by Hircine himself and not a curse; I believe it robs us of our

rightful afterlife in Sovngarde, a paradise for any Nord. I am just using ysgramor's secret chamber to further understand

lycanthropes to find a cure. No matter what Aela says, I am not torturing them. That gruesome act is what the silver hand revel in. I

am not, nor was I ever, part of that foul organization."


Inigo's eyes flitted between the two Nords and the argonian like he was tracking a troublesome fly. Aels scrutinized the blue khajiit.

"Inigo, you must believe me. Something rather odd is happening to Kodlak. He doesn't know what he's saying. I think the wolf is

running away with the old man's mind like a rabbit runs into its gaping maw." 


The khajiit said that he understood and turned to Hasir. He had no idea what struggle transpired before he came so he couldn't weigh

in on that bit.

"Hasir, what do you have to say to all this? Frankly, I think it's all rubbish but I would like to find out your take on this." 


The argonian looked from Kodlak to Aela, rasied his arms and shook his head.

"I would rather not get involved. True, he may've scraped some fur of Twilight but I believe he is doing what he can for the

betterment of our kind. Don't go reading into something that is not there. Besides, we have a temple to find. Why don't we put this

on the back burner and focus on what's cooking on the front burners."


Aela's wolf growled in disagreement at this but her Nord form pushed the wolf back into her cage and nodded, against her better

judgement. Inigo smiled and nodded as well.

"It's decided then. We'll go upstairs and pinpiont the location of the temple and begin our preparations." Kodlak began to dollow

them from the room to the staircase spiraling upwards. Pasuing, the Argonian turned and motioned for the harbinger to stop. "No,

just uss. I'm sssorry harbinger but since we don't know if your statement earlier was genuine or not, you can stay here." Je looked

sadly in the harbinger's eyes. "I hate to do this but I believe this is for the best.


Kodlak's jaw hit the floor and he gave Hasir his trademark owlish stare.

"You think this is for the best? Me waiting here in this festiuring stink hole while you and Aela go at each other's throats like a pair of

wild dogs? No, I'm going up with you."


He began ascending the stairs but Hasir's arm shot out and blocked him from further progress.

"I'm sorry Kodlak. I can't take the chance of you snapping and killing innocent citizens. I will take on the role of harbinger until

either Aela our I deem you sane enough to retake you post."


Aela, Inigo and Hasir ascended the stairs, exited into Jorrvaskr. Hasir pressed the button, causing the bookcase to slid back into

place. He could hear the harbinger's fists pounding against the wood of the bookcase. He was fighting a feeling of sadness with a

feeling of pride that he did the right thing.


Hasir followed the other two companions to the horseshoe table and sat down. He reached into his backpack which he left near the

table and extracted the map they had used to track down the now exterminated priests of domination and placed it on the table. The

other circle mbers lent over to see as well. Hasir looked up from the map and asked everyone if the would like some food or drink

before they begin. They all nodded, except for Inigo. Hasir smiled.

"Tilma, I would like," He did a quick headcount, "five mugs of mead, plase"


Tilma nodded, grabbed some mugs and filled them at the mead despensory that stoodin the corner were Vilas and Farkas normally

said when they would bet on fights. A few minutes later, she return to the table and placed them in from of Hasir who slid them to

the circle members. 


Inigo turned to Tilm, wanting to order something other than mead.

"Excuse me but may I get a spiced cider plase?"


Again, she nodded and hurried down to the undercroft. Once there, she walked throught the maze-like corridors until she came to a

bare room that was stacked high with wooden boxes and barrels in one corner and on the wall opposite the barrels stood a table that

was dominated by a rectangular flower bed that had small juniper berry bushes growing. After enough juniper berries were

harvested she crushed them using a mortal and pestle, took a mug, filled it with cider from a spigot on one of the barrels. She

ruturned to the table, seasoned the mug of cider with various spices and dropped the crushed berries into it. She smiled at her

handiwork and went up to the main level with the mug.


She reacjed the table and slid the sweet smelling tangy liquid over to Inigo who grinned. Inigo turned to the argonian who had

honeyed liquid trickling down his scales as he drank and asked what the occassion was.

"There's no occassion Ingio, can't we drink freely without there always having to be a target the arrow is drawn to?" 


Inigo apologized and turned to the paper map at the center of the table with symbols carved all over its surface.

"So, erm... where is Krovaxis, exactly? He said uncertainly as his eyes darted to every area of the map.


Hasir tapped his claw on the map; an action that clearly showed his agitation.

"Well, it shoud be somewhere in the Sea of Ghost, perhaps it still is but the entrance may have shifted."


Inigo asked Hasir where he thought the entrance may have shifted to. Hasir said he didn't know. He guessed the they now had to

enter some sort of portal to enter Krovaxis as he suspected that one of stone fire's cronies told him of our plan to go to the Sea of

Ghosts and, like a clock's hand shift positions based on the time of day, the new entrance now lay in a place called The Forgotten

vale near the eastern bank of the sea of ghosts.


Hasir folded up the map when they all were told the plan and put it into his leather backpack. His was about to get up when a light

blinked on inside his mind.

"Actually, yes Inigo, we are celbrating something. Two things actually." He said as he sat down and grabbed his mug and raised it.

"Everyone, I would like to invoke my role as temporary harbinger to welcome the Imperial, Ria as a Companion. Just like a snake

sheds its skin for a new one, Ria will shed her former role as whelp and be wear the new skin of being a Companion." Everyone lifted

their mugs to this news except for Aela.


She glared at the 'harbinger' and could feel Red prowling around her mind cage.

"Okay 'harbinger,' but remember, Kodlak isn't dead. Ejoy the new 'skin' while it fits." She said, an edge of venom to her words.

"Another thing... what what gives you the right to apoint Ria to become a full-fledged companion? Only the harbinger can do that

and you, my sclay friend, are no jarninger so what you said earlier hold no water. Promotion denied."


Ria heard this and banged her mug so hard on the table that some liquid erupted like a volcano into the air, flew in an arc and

soaked the fiery-haired Nord's face; completely eradicating the warpaint she had painstakenly applied.

"It doesn't matter if the real harbinger is here or not. Kodlak made Hasir temporary harbinger and his decision will stick whether you

like it or not. I, for one, am eager to get out into the field and try out my new rank.


Aela scoffed at this; not knowing or caring that she upset the frail-looking Imperial.

"I hate to break it to you but being named Companion mean nothing around here. You might as well be wearing a dead snake around

your neck for all the good it will do. The only thing special around here is being a 'circle member.' Besides, us wolves can gobble up

puny, defenseless whelps and 'companions' like if they were scared little rabbits." 


They glared at each other from across the table. Aela slammed her mug down in anger causing amber liquid to bubble up and erupt,

mistakenly soaking Inigo instead of her intended target. Hasir raised his hands for silence.

"Enough both of you. Let's set our petty rivalries aside so we can determine the best route to take to get to the Forgoteen Vale."


Aela smirked at Hasir and pointed to Ria.

"Easy. Stick this map up Ria's overpompous ass."


Aela smiled gleefully to herself as she watched the Imperial slam down her mug, soaking the wooden surface and run from the hall;

raindrops falling down her face.


Hasir glowered at Aela. He actually liked how the table have turned with them. Him being the dominant force and her being the

inferior one.

"Why did you do that? We were all fine until you showed up. You might have emotionally scarred that girl. I hope you're proud of

yourself." He said, blanking her as he took his mug of mead down to the undercroft.


Hasor saw Ria sitting at the long table nestled against the wall. He asked her if he could sir down, she shrugged sulkily which he took

as a sign of invitation. The argonian glanced at the sulking Imperial and thought on something Quinchal had told him.

"Ria, I apologize for Aela's behavior. She can be rater... blunt. She has no finesse when dealing with the feelings of another person.

Her motto is 'it is what it is.' Not a reassuring leasson to be teaching, I'll admit but that Aela for you, as effective as a blunt sword. It

looks scary and may even indimidate your foes but if used in battle, it will be as effective as a scrib. If you break the sword down to

its core, you will see that it poses no real threat."


The imperial raised her head, wiped her eyes, had absolutely no idea what the metaphor meant but got to her feet.

"You're right. Aela is rude but her rudeness has an origin. Do you know why Aela is such a bitch?"


Hasir nodded as he got to his feet and followed Ria up the stairs.

"Yes I do. Inigo hyponotized her a few months back. Both he and I found out the Aela has a hatred for my kind stemming from a

traitorous Saxhleel back when her mom was on some mission in a dwemer ruin." 


The Imperial screwed her face up in confusion.

What is a Saxhleel? Is that some kind of creature?


Hasir leant against the wall near the space reserved for an axe that was long gone.

"Saxhleel are what my people, the argonians, call themselves. Come on, let's get back to the task at hand."


The imperial's face fell as she found the table deserted. She turned to Hasir and inquired where they were.

"Dunno," He said, shrugging, "They might be in the training yard. They could also be halfway to the Forgotten Vale by now. If they

do the latter, they would likely be grasping at straws for directions as I have the map." 


He went over to the training yard door and pushed. He had never scene the training yard so deserted. Ria shared his shocked

expression. They found the porch empty as well. The argonian and the Imperial worked their way around the bulding and found all

four companions eagerly awaiting him on the benches near the gildergreen. Hasir was about to join them when he told Ria to join

them and that he would be right back.


How could he be so stupid to not include Kodlak in this? He had to go back and check on him and hoped he did not wolf out in his

etended time alone with his toughts. Hasir tore around the building, took the porch steps two at a time and entered the mead hall.


He walked past the horseshoe table and headed down to the undercroft. Once there, he crossed the long carpeted hallway and

pushed Kodlak's study door open. He walked over to a spot beside the bookcase and slid aside a wooden panel near the enchanting

table and pressed a button. The bookcase slid aside, he entered the area behind it and descended the stone staircase. 


Hasir saw Kodlak sitting on a wooden chair next to the small table, staring at the shelf with restraints above the silver shackles on

the wall.

"I never wanted to hurt you or any Companions, I hope you know that." He turned to the Argonian who walked up the him, tail

swaying like a fish behind him. I was doing what I thought of best for them. They are Nord and as such should want to die and go to

Sovngarde not have their soul controlled by Hircine. You and Aela feel differently about this, I know, but Farkas and Vilkas, I can

sense they dislike their lycanthropy and that they, like me fake contentment with our wolves to please Aela." He shuddered, "Her

temper in horrible. It's like she was born a wolf who was told to done a human form to blend into society better." 


He sat there looking from the cages to the restraints on the shelves and wall opposite him. He was snapped out of whatever thought

he was thinking as he felt a warm hand grip his shoulder. Ge looked up and spotted Hasir. 

"I know you were Kodlak." He said solemnly, "I took the harbinger title on myself to give you time to sort out your thought. I sensed

a great darkness in you and don't think you wanted any more stress. The reason I came down here was to see if you were well

enough to come with us to the Forgotten Vale." 


Kodlak jumped up from his chairand angrily pointed at the argonian.

"Well enough? Of course I'm well, you moronic reptile. I don't know what Aela has told you but I was not put under some spell. I

want Molag Bal defeated as much as you do. If I could dismantle every stone of thiis damned place I would but that would be a stain

on Ysgrammor's honor. Having awerewolf torture chamber beneath Jorrvaskr is wrong, I know that. Hell, even Hircine knows it. As

ripping off some of your hairs, I am sorry for that but I need a cure, for myself, no one else. If I need to wipe out every werewolf to

do it, all the better."


Hasir looked taken aback at this news. He backed away from Kodlak as if he had physically threatened him.

"Kodlak, don't you ever listen to yourself? You are starting to sound like Molag Bal." Je said shocked. He thought this over and came

to a solution that might better benefit the old Nord. "Kodlak, what if I told you that when I was in Vilkas's room the other day, I

overheard him, Farkas and Aela talking about a tomb on an island in the Sea of Ghosts." Kodlak raised an eyebrow. "Erm... anyway,

they were talking about the tomb while I was hiding under Vilkas's bed and I heard everything: the ritual, the location and the

opposition that is likely to be there. Vilkas and Farkas were boats on calm seas. Aela's boat, however, was severly rocked by this." 


Kodlak brightened at the prospect of being within an arms lengths of the cure. He was about to speak but closed his mouth and let

Hasir continue.

"Aela did not like the idea of her wolf, to which she has gotten attached, getting ripped away from her so she tried turning her shield

brothers onto her point. Since they were the odd kwama out, wanting to cure their ill-gotten curse she strode angrily from the

room." Hasir looked at the harbinger's balefule eyes and understood. "Before we go to the Forgotten Vale, we can stop by the tomb if

you want. I mean, it's out of the way from where our intended location is so if you want to do this we can. However..." He paused,

"We would have to either split up or all go tegether because, as I said, it is out of our way.


Kodlak thought about this and knew that the collective mission was more important than his own inner turmoil.

"That's nice of you to think about my needs but we've a mission to complete. I am sorry again for dragging you and the other circle

mebers into my deisre to cure Lycanthrope. I was blind and didn't see how happy it has made you and the others." His head fell like

a cut tomato, "I only saw how miserable how it has made me and I wanted to do anything, even going so far as torture to to achieve

it. Can you ever forgive me?"


Hasir smiled as he and Kodlak walked toward the stone acrhway.

"I already have. Aela, though, might need some tough love to make her come around." He looked at Kodlak uncertainly, "Do that

mean I have to relinquish my position as Harbinger?"


Kodlak shook his head as they ascended the spiral stairs.

"No. You wear that burden well. You keep it; at least until we kill that son of a bitch Stone Fire. You are the one with the rival. Well,

that isn't entirely true. The true rivalry seems to rest between him and Hircine but you and your family are indirectly involved. So

naturally, you would know his plan better than any of us."


Hearing this warmed the argonian's heart. He liked that, for once, he could push Aela around like she had done to him over the past

few months. They emerged into the mead hall and walked outside to greet the other Companions. Everyone seemed to be uphazed

by Kodlak's sudden reappearance.


Aela, however, stood up, grabbed Kodlak by the collar and slammed him against the steps leading to the meadhall, a dagger pressed

against his throat.

"So, the traitorous snake decided to slither out of his hole. Are you off to your masters? Speak Kodlak," She narrowed her eyes at

him while digging her dagger deeper into his neck, "if that is your real name." She lifted her dagger above her head, malice clearly

evident in her eyes. She was about to strike, ending his miserable life when Hasir lashed out with his flame whip. Aela stared, eyes

wide with shock, at her dagger spinnig like a compass acrose the stone floor.


Aela stood up, grabbed her discarded dagger and advanced on Hasir.

"You meddlesome reptile. I know you had something to do with this."


Hasir said he had no idea what Aela was talking about. Aela lunged at him, daggers raised. Instinctively, Hasir delivered a sweep kick

to Aela leg, kocking her on her back. With Aela incapacitated, he and Kodlak went over to the Companions sitting near the

Gildergreen and asked if they were all set to journey to the Forgotten Vale. They nodded and followed Hasir and Kodlak down the

steps and out into the plains surrounding the city. Groaning Aela got to her feet and hurried to the plains as well. 


Hasir led the way down to the stables and saw the stablehand gathering hay for the horses. He casually lent against the middle

support pillar.

"Excuse me. Do you know if Bjorlam is available? We have a... er... special request to ask of him."  


The stablehand, Skulvar, said that he was inside. Hasir thanked him and headed inside the stables. Once inside, Hasir saw haybales

and barrels along one wall and some individual stalls along the wall to his left. Hasir guessed that these stalls were used to stable the

horses in times of inclement weather. He turned away from the stables and spotted a square table in the far corner near the stables

. Hasir walked up it and saw the Nord carriage driver enjoying kwama egg quiche.


The argonian smiled as the Nord looked up. The argonian gave Bjorlam a sheepish look.

"Sorry for interrupting your meal but I was wondering if you could take us to the Forgotten Vale."


The nord pushed his meal toward the center of the table and stood up.

"Why the Forgotten Vale? What's there?"


Hasir slammed his hands down on the table and bore his eyes into the Nord's.

"Never mind, can you get us there or not?" He snarled through gritted teeth


Bjorlam told him to keep his scales on as he finished his meal, stood up and told Hasir that he could drop them at Darkfall cave,

located North of Markarth. 

"Since the cave isn't on my travel route, I can get you there for free." Hasir took out got and offered it to him, "No, you keep it." He

said, smiling, "This is my treat since you are such a good negotiator." He said as the argonian snarled at him. The argonian sighed,

nodded and followed Bjorlam outside to the Whiterun plains. Bjorlam got into the driver's seat of the carriage as the argonian and

the other companions scrambled into the back. Aela ran toward the carriage as it pulled away and leapt onto the wooden floor.


Bjorlam snapped the horses to life as the carriage crossed a bridge outside of the city. Inigo looked over to his scaly friend.

"So I guess we're finally doing this, my friend. Finally. About damn time too. The bastard needs to be put down like the rabid dog he



Hasir shot a sidelong glaced at Inigo. The khajiit recoiled in fright.

"We should focus on finding the Forgotten Vale instead of just focusing on the upcoming conclusion. On the same token, we need to

find out what darkfall cave has to offer. I hope we don't have to contend with any of Molag Bal's daedra."


Inigo roared with laughter at this but stopped when Aela kicked him. Inigo cried out in pain.

"Aela, what was that for? I found it funny. Geez, you need a new brain, or perhaps, a new sense of humor."


Aela looked at Inigo disapproving. She always had a hard time expressing her feelings and this time was no different.

"I have a sense of humor you overgrown kitten. I just... didn't find that funny." She said as she looked at the floor of the carriage.


Aela sat back on the seat, not looking at the blue khajiit because she didn't want to give him the satisfaction of calling her out on her

rather brash statement.  Hasir looked over the carriage and saw they were fast approaching the cave. He thought it was the cave

they sought because all of the caves in Skyrim, he was told, looked the same. It wasn't until Bjorlam confirmed that was, in fact,

Darkfall cave, that the argonian knew that he was correct in his original assumption.


The carriage stopped in front of the cave and the companions got out, thanked Bjorlam for his hospitality and entered the cave.

Bjorlam smiled and rode away. Hasir and the companions walked along the narrow pathway with stone walls on each side with the

path thinning out further along. Hasir walked on and saw a thin wooden bridge ahead. He and the Companions walked on and

attemted to cross the flimsy bridge. As they set foot on it, however, they heard a snapping sound and were sent plunging ito the

water as if they had rocks in their pockets.


Hasir laughed as Inigo struggled to stay afloat.

"My friend, don't swim circles around me. Help me!" 


Hasir groaned. He knew the khe khajiit did not like water, but this was ridiculous. Hasir just lay put lay still as a board and let the

current carry him over a waterfall that emptied into another area of the cavern. Inigo panicked for a bit longer until his brain clicked

on and told him the logical solution would be to follow the argonian's lead. He let his arms and legs go limp as the current carry him

away. The other Companions followed suit and soon found themselves freefalling and going with the flow to yet another part of the



When everyone found themselves on dry land again, they followed the passageway forward. Spiders came at them from an alcove to

their left. Everyone but Inigo were focused on the goal of getting out of the cave. Inigo, however, drew his bow and smirked.

"Time to play smash a spider. I have one arrow loaded and three rather squishy spider. 'Itsy Bitsy spider, I shot one one you in the

head. When you are dead I'll hang you on the wall.' I wonder... who will be the first to fall?" A spider seperated from his fellows,

displaying its long and poisonous pincers. Inigo smiled, "We have a winner." He said as he released three arrows in quick succession,

each slamming into the intended targets. 


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