C.o.t.W Chapter 122: Slippery as a Snake



When they got to the fort, Hasir knocked on the huge double doors.

"Wuleen, is Red Bramman with you? For Hircine's sake, he'd better not have tied you weak-scaled body to the wall!" He shouted

through the minute crack in the door.


Ingo came up beside the Argonian and pressed his ear to the door, frowning.

"My friend, I don't hear anything. Did the Argonian pirate make boots out of her?"


Hasir heard this and hissed a warning to his feline friend.

"Inigo, will you keep quiet. Suggest that again and I'll fashion shoes out of your hide... Hssss!"


The smart blue cat apologized and doged the Argonian's ferocious jab.

"Hey, easy. I only meant it as a joke. No need to take things so literally... loose up a little."


Hasir gave him a rude gesture. Inigo shook his head in disgust and opened the door to an empty entryway with no sign of the black



The argonian and khajiit scoured the area: lifting up barrels, sifting through the haybales, sorting through the loose hay on the floor

strewn about like fallen twigs from a tree.. Hasir sighed, shaking his head.

"Inigo, I don't think she's here. Let's head back to the ship. She might have been turned into a tome and shoved into one of the

crevices we overlooked." 


Both he and Inigo where about to leave when they heard a gruff female voice. They both glanced up the spiral staircase to see

Wuleen waving to them from a small grey-stone pathway connecting it to a tower that they hadn't seen before.

"Hey guys, I found Red. He and his band of thugs are holed up in the door at the back of the tower."


She smiled at them as they climbed up the steps and walked into the tower  A long, narrow hallway met their eyes with torches

affixed to the walls in regular increments olong the stoney walls. Wuleen walked down the passageway with the argonian and khajiit

close behind. Inigo hid behind on of the columns dotting the hallway and gestured to the chained Argonian at the far end.

"I-is that him? I will leave you two to deal with this, I forgot that, erm, I have to see a man about some fleas."


Hasir quickly glanced from the chained Argonian pirate, splayed out like some grotesque four-sided star, groaned and told the khajiit

to stop being a scaredy cat. Inigo mumbled something about how pirates eat khajiit. Hasir went over, prised Inigo's claws from the

column inn front of him, which had two deep gouge marks upon it, and dragged the protesting khajiit toward the chained prisoner.


Wuleen walked behind them; her tail swaying side to side like a dead snake.

Inigo, come now, Red is incapacitated. In this state, he wouldn't harm a fly." She said and she strode Red's fiery hair. She smirked at

Inigo, "In your case, a more apt idiom would be 'wouldn't hurt a flea'." 


Inigo looked at her and snarled.

"That wasn't funny." He said, giving her a cold stare. He turned his attenting back to the chain Argonian, "I have two questions. One,

is he really incapacitated, if so, how? My second question is if he's here than where in Oblivion are Red's brigade of bandits?"


Just then, Hasir caught a strange scent on the air. He pressed his nose to the cold stone and followed it to a doorway off to the left

like a dog following a juicy cut of meat and called out to the others.

"I may've found a clue. It seems the bandits dumped Red when they found out about his true purpose and headed to a secluded

island somewhere in the systres achipelego. My guess is that is where their journey began."


Inigo and Wuleen ran to the argonian, who was sniffing the air. It had, according to Hasir, a musty, aquatic smell to it. Inigo's eyes

brightened as he reveled in his scaly friend's sudden growth of his sense of smell.

"My fri-I mean Hasir, you can glean all that from just sniffing the air. I'm impressed." He turned in the direction of the Argonian pirate

who was stirring from the effects of the sleeping potion Wuleen had given him. "I would love to apprehend those thugs... but first,

don't you think we should question Red as to their exact whereabouts? I need something more to go on instead of just a hunch, you



Hasir begrudgingly nodded and they went back to the main room of the tower where Red was waking up from his extended slumber.


The khajiit and the two Argonians entered the high-ceilinged chamber and approached the chained Argonian who was struggling as

though he was constrained by a bunch of writhing snakes.

"Why have ye chained me up like a mad dog? What have ye done with me crew?" He said, narrowing his eyes and snapping at the



Hasir's hand shot to his axe and unsheathed it. Inigo looked at the axe like a hot poker and looked at Hasir at, his face a mask of


"My friend, calm you fire. Don't go charging in. Let's talk to him first.


Wuleen, like Inigo, looked at the Argonian with a shocked expression on her face. 

"Hasir, the blue khajiit is right. Put the axe away, please. Let's try just talking to Red."


The argonian looked at her as he'd been shot by a stray arrow.

"Excuse me? that would be about as safe as talking down a charging Haj Mota."


Wuleen looked at Hasir, shocked and took Inigo's deadpan look to not take Hasir's statement a face value. She nodded uneasily and

moved forward to undo Red's iron snakes. Hasir ran forward as he saw what she was about to do and begged her to reconsider. The

black Argonian blanked him and continued unlocking the pirate captian's shackles; trying hard to ignore Hasir's sharp intakes of

breath every time she undid a binding.


She stepped back as the chains clattered to the floor and allowed Red time to massage his sore wrists and legs. He quickly produced

a saber, directed it at her throat and laughed coldly.

"Ha, you landlubbers must have spines as brittle as a hackwing. I give you this, though, it was wise, or maybe it was foolish," He

said, furrowing his spiky eyebrows, lost in thought. "I always get those two confused. Whatever it was, I appreciate you cowards for

let ol' fishlips here free me from my shackles." 


Wuleen's expression soured at the thought of being call 'fishlips.' Red thrust his arm around her throat like a cobra constricting a

rodent and pointed the sword at her stonch.

"Be it bravery of foolishness. I have no choice but to reward you... by spilling her stinky fish-guts all over the forsaken spit of land."


Inigo stepped forward and scowled. He liked a fresh fish bake like the next khajiit but wwanted answers.

"Why should we listen to a filthy fish monger like you?"


Red screwed his face up and laughed mercilessly.

"You? Tell me about being a fish monger? Better watch your tongue cat, lest it betray you. I heard tell upon the tides that you are the

one to smell of fish. It takes one to know one after all." Inigo looked from Hasir to Wuleen to help glean any inkling of understanding

from Red's words; they merely shrugged in response. "You smell like you haven't bathed in days, you flea-bitten feline." He turned to

Wuleen and grinned, "Now to business. Tell me where my crew is or I'll gut her like a fish."


Inigo and Hasir stayed silent. They had a general idea where his crewmates might be, but zeroing in on their position would be more

difficult. Unsatisfied with the lack of an answer, Red plunge the sword deep into the black Argonian's gut. Fresh sanguine blood

coated the blade as it was withdraw and discarded just as Wuleen's body slumbed to the cold stone floor.


Red grinned hugley and laughed again. He had expected his own kin, an Argonian with hair as black as night to at least know how to

swim on the tide of conscious thought instead of slowly drowning in it.

"What a pity. This could've all been avoided if you told me where my crewmates achored ship Alas, you did not. I guess it's true what

they say: an argonian's stoic exterior matches the hardness of his scales." 


Red walked over and looked from the blood on the stone to the Argonian and heard her shallow breathing. His placed his tri-corned

hat on the ground beside her.

"You know, I was not always a cold and unfeeling pirate. I was once an honest Lilmothian. I was a priest at the Xinchei-Konu

monument. It was my job to see to it that that the months ran as smooth as silk. If someone would mess up the months or order or,

in a similar fashion, the inner workings-of the months, I would send thugs to punish the interlopers. It is from those thugs that I

chose my most trusted advisors." He said, smiling wanly, as though the pain of remembering was too much.


Hasir and Inigo looked from the captian to the the dying Argonian.

"Huh. A likely story. Now tell me the one about the dancing Wamasu."


Red ignored this jab at his credibility and pressed on with his tale.

"Scoff if you must but what I say is the Hist's honest truth.." He said. "The reason I became a pirate was, one day, I was on a

merchant ship apprehending one such interloper who saught to seize control over the month of Xisek and the An-Xileel caught wind

of my 'heinous' deeds and tthat lead my into hiding and to ultimately become a priate whose job it was to forsake the rules of

Blackmarsh and hunt down the An-Xileel so I could punish them like the filthy Wamasu that they truly are."


Hasir felt some sort of kinship toward the captian that intertwined them both like a twisted tree branch that was incorporating them

into its main structure.

"What fortuitous circumstances then. We are undertaking a dark brotherhood contract to dispatch them actually."


He gasped and his hands flew the his mouth. He didn't knew what possessed him to spill their mission to a stranger, much less a

pirate captian. He walked over to a chaair situated in the corner of the tower and sat upon it; his head in his hands.


Inigo walked over and embraced his sullen friend. He was quickly reminded of his kitten years in which he would beat himself up

daily for his mistakes.

"It's okay, my friend. You made a mistake, we all do it. Don't beat yourself up about it. I doubt Red knows who the dark brotherhood

are." He extracted a leather cloth from his bag and handed it to the Argonian. Once the Argonian's tears were mopped up, he

thanked Inigo who deposited the cloth back into his bag, and he went back to explain the situation to Red while the blue khajiit went

over to the dying Argonian and tried to staunch the free-flowing crimson liquid.


Wuleen looked into Inigo's orange eyes with her rapidly clouding black ones.

"Khajiit, stop Red before he has a chance to decciev another poor soul. He;s lying about... Xinchei Konu... he never worked an

honest day in his life... thatt's what pirate's do... they play with your sensibilitiees until they extract the faintest nugget of knowledge

that they're looking for. When they dug deep enough to retrieve it... they'll murder him... he'll murder him, like he did me.


Inigo looked into her eyes, tearing muddying his brilliant orange eyes.

"My friend, don't speak like that." He said, tears flowly more freely. "We should get you to a healer, they'll fix you up; besides, you

are only saying these things because you mind is drifting away like a boat on a stormy sea. We have to find a sturdy dock so you

boat can become stable and the waters clear with thoughts once more."


Inigo winced as Wuleen took a ragged breath which sounded like nails being scraped across the shell of a mudcrab.

"I mean what I say Inigo." I fear I don't have much... time left. Hasir has to complete his mission even if that means finding these

lost brigands for Red. No, I mispoke, what I meant... Hasir much kill that traitorous fish-mouthed bastard, even if it means avenging

my death; which should have not happened in the first place..."


Inigo looked from Hasir, who was negotiating something with Red back to Wuleen; wanting to say something. He quickly succumbed

to  a flood of tears when he realized that she had left this world completely. He reached over and closed her scaly eyes.

"Farewell, Wuleen. May you find peace upon your return to the Hist." He said softly. "Your final request shall not be ignored. Red will

pay for what he has done."


Ingio got up and walked over to Red and ignored Red's request that he will have to wait for him to finish his conversation with Hasir.

"Look, I don't care about what you 'promised' Hasir but this little churade has to stop now before any else gets hurt." He narrowed

his eyes to emphasize this point. "Hasir has free will, as does every being on Tamriel, I will not see you have him enter into one of

your 'contracts'." He gazed into Red's green eyes. The glare was so fierce that the Argonian pirate swore he could feel waves of heat

emminating from Inigo's eyes. "I am on to you, pirate. Your lot is always the 'offer some poor sap the rug then rip it out from under

him at the last second' type."


Red laughed as he unsheathed his swore, cleaned of blood from moments before.

"So what if I am? I'm a pirate and as such, I am not bound by any rules you landlubbers follow. I only follow my own rules as well as

the rules of the sea. What are you going to do about it?"


Inigo smirked widely as he drew his ebony bow and nocked an arrow. Hasir strode up the blue khajiit and placed a hand on Inigo's

bow and shook his head and cast Inigo a worried glance.

"Don't do this Inigo. I believe in Red. We share the same scales. Think of it this way: if that was one of your relatives you were about

to shoot, would you be able to loose the arrow then? Take a breath and think rather than always leaping to action."


Inigo snarled at Hasir and slapped his hand away. How could he make Hasir understand? After all, it was he who was playing the

mercy card on Red.

"Don't tell me what to do, my friend. Red has poisoned your mind. It is my job to ensure that poison does not seep further into your

bloodstream. Stay out of this!" 


Hasir shrugged and stepped aside. He knew that when Inigo made his mind up about something, he would not be easy swayed. The

argonian heard the twang of the bow and saw Red stuck fast to the stone like a grotesque training dummy, with Inigo's arrow stuck

fast in his heart.


Hasir walked over to Red with eyes streaming with tears.

"Inigo, what have you done?" He yeleed, glancing back at his feline friend, "He was going to tell us where his crewmembers were so

we could rescue them. He was an honest man and you stripped that away from him, how could you?"


Inigo looked shocked as he sheathed his bow. He did not once think his friend would talk to him in such a manner.

"Honest man? Yeah sorry, but that ship has already sailed. Pity that you held onto the anchor for as long as you did. If I hadn't

severed the chain. You would've went down with the ship."


Hasir glared at him but knew he was right. He knew that Red was going to betray him either way. Inigo walked over to Red, withdrew

the arrow and wiped it off with a cloth he removed from his bag, replacing it in his quiver. Hasir heard the pirate's body fall to the

floor wiuth a sickening thud. Hasir walked over to where Wuleen lay and sayed a quick prayer in Jel,He apoologized to the blue khajiit

and they both left the fort together.


Hasir and Inigo returned to the swampy village where they saw a graveyard of the remaining decorations left over from the party

many hours before. They ignored this and walked to Veexith's hut. 


Upon entering, The argonian saw his eggsister, the Nord, a golden elf and a khajiit-like being sitting around a tree stump fashioned

like a long bar on simlarly fashioned stools. Inigo went over to sit next to Ceralyne and Hasir next to his eggsister. The argonian

turned toward Tigress and asked how she and Ceralyne came to be here.


Tigress smiled toothily at Hasir as she explained her story.

"The golden elf was spirited to the golden gates of Akavir from the sea of Summerset. I got a curious telepathic message in the

temple of one thousand souls about Hasir in serious trouble so I had to spirit the elf away to Akavir."


Hasir asked how she could have recieved that dream. Tigress smiled and explained the 'divine intervention'.

"Ceralyne told me she had a precognition of Hasir's," Tigress blushed at this. "I... I mean... your path. She 'saw' your past deeds

before doing battle with Stone Fire whereas I 'saw' the past, present and future of your possibilites. In some options you are

victorious, whereas in others, you are brought low like other tormented souls who thought themselves above Stone Fire's influence."


Hasir looked, shocked, from Tigress to Ceralyne. The elf nodded in confirmation of her friend's story.

"What the striped Ka'Po'Tun said is true." She eyed the Argonian with wonder, "Hasir, I don't mean to pry, but how, exacty, did you

get here?"


The green Argonian sighed and crossed the bridge that led to his current location in reverse; telling first about the portal he found in

a book, the battle with the wolf and the skeletons that were clothed in darkness and finally the moment that he and the companions

parted ways.


Hasir turned to the blue khajiit and was about to ask his opinion on the matter but saw that the khajiit's eyes had glazed over,

obviously lost in thought.

"My friend,, shouldn't we go back to the outlaws refuge and tell them we completed the assignment? I know from experience that

the dark brotherhood or any den of assassins do not like to be kept waitng. We tell them that the deed is done and we will be that

much closer to ending the An-Xileel's reign or terror once and for all. I, for one, would like to know if they are connected to Molag



Hasir nodded and followed Inigo out of the hut, through the trap door to the entrance to the Outlaw's Refuge. Hasir and Inigo

emerged into the open air refuge and saw a familiar Argonian descending the stairs towards them. He walked, beaming towards


"I assume your first mission was a success?" Both Hasir and Inigo nodded. Haj-Ta smiled, "Good." His face soon turned into despair,

"Yes, I know of Wuleen, what a tragedy. Dries my scales just thinking about it."


Inigo and Hasir explained Red's attempts at turning over a new leaf.

"Pirates are all the same."" Haj-Ta snarled. "They will talk you out of an eagle's nest into a tiger's den. The An-Xileel will pay for their

treacery as well as aligning themselves with that filthy pirate. Your next mission is to find out what the An-Xileel's true plans are and

cut the thorns off of the flower before the poisonous flower blooms." 


Hasir and Inigo both raised an eyebrow. Haj-Ta chuckled to himself.

"I shall piece the book together, as best I can, so you're not grasping at loose pages. Years ago, the An-Xileel were pleasant rulers

but, they soon caught wind of the dark brotherhood and have sought to stop us since then. They seek to poison our hist tree so that

all Saxhleel die. I, as well as you, I am sure, are deeply concerned about that so, I want you to go to their base at the Xinchei-Konu

monument just outside of Lilmoth and find out their true plans and if these plans have anything to do with helping Molag Bal."


Hasir and Inigo turned to leave, worked their way back through the tunnel and soon found themselves back in Lilmoth. The smart

blue cat turned to his Argonian friend; his furry face a mask of confusion.

"Hasir, what was that about? Was his mind a fish that was cast out too far and, no matter his strength could not be reeled in again?"


The thought bounced around the inside of the Argonian's skull for a long time before he grasped even a hint of meaning; he


"I dunno. Maybe we shouldn't read too much into it and just go for it." He chuckled as he walked past the mud huts to the entrance

to the city, "Since when did you metamorphose into a greybeard?" Anyway, let's get to the Xanmeer and see what the An-xileel are

up to." Inigo turned to him; eyes wide with fear. Hasir sighed in annoyance, "If we happen to run into a traps inside the Xanmeer or

opposition from any An-Xileel members, we'll tell with them as well."


Inigo gulped and followed Hasir into the swamp; tail tucked between his legs like a cowering blue snake. He walked beside the

Argonian, trying to keep up with him and dodging fleshfly pods, gigantic Haj-Mota and meddlesome hackwings. Haisr turned as he

heard  a sound of an arrow piercing flesh. 


Inigo glanced from the bird spread out on the ground; its wings stuck out at odd angles, to Hasir.

"My friend, I get that we are going to stop the An-Xileel but can't we at least buy a carriage or boat?"


The Argonian shook his head and told him that there while there were tiny boats in Blackmarsh, there weren't any carriages. Inigo's

face morphed into a mask of confusion and despair. He followed the Argonian like a lost wolf pup who mistook the Argonian as its

pack leader. 


After a few seconds of nothing but marsh, he saw the Argonian ascending stone steps to a central monument of a familiar horizontal

carraige wheel-like stone slab. Inigo saw that four of the slabs etched with strange symbols.


Inigo looked at the symbols brow furrowed, trying to discern the meaning of them but, unfortunately his mind was a tree without


"Hasir, do you knoww what these are?" The argonian stared at him for a minute, trying to grasp the concept. Failing miserably, he

shook his head. The khajiit shrugged and pointed to a pyramid-like building extending from the stone platform like a mountain from

the surface of Nirn. "I guess we can find the answers we seek in that building... if we're lucky, we may also find something that hints

as to the An-Xileel's dark dealings with Molag Bal."


Hasir nodded and ascending the stone steps with the khajiit. When they got to the  apex of the structure, however, they failed to find

the door - or any point of entry. Stumped, Hasir and Inigo sat on the stone steps of the Xanmeer and thought of any alternatives

that sprang to mind.


Seeing a possible way around the conundrum, Inigo's eyes lit up with the fire of knowledge.

"My friend, what if I go to the east end of the Xanmeer, at its base and see if there is a door." He got up and excitedly gestured to

Hasir. "You can check the Xanmeer's west end, together, we'll find a way in." With that, Inigo sped off down the Xanmeer steps to set

his plan into action."


Hasir stood up and scratched his head, confused at what the excited khajiit had meant about 'east' side and 'west' side. He stared

after the rapidly disappearing khajiit, brow furrowed.

"I wonder what Inigo is on about. East side, west...? I thought he quit skooma a while ago or was that a lie to lull me into a false

sense of security?" He shrugged, "Whatever the case may be, I should follow him and hope hiis plan bears fruit." He thought as he

descended the steps and began systematically checking the western side of the structure.


After hours of poking and prodding the stones; trying every combination he could think of, no hidden door came into being.

Exhausted, he slumped against the structure and thought all was lost until he heard a shout from the other side of the Xanmeer.

"My friend, come quick! I may have found something!" Hasir ran to the khajiit and, sure enough, a depression in the stone appeared.

He gaped at the huge hole that opened up onto a spiral stone staircase descending further into the depths of the Xanmeer. He

followed Inigo as they disappeared into the opening.

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