C.o.t.W Chapter 137: Of Sun and Shadow



Hasir's scaly eyelids closed in sleep as he lay on the cot in the medical tent. His eyes opened onto an eerily familiar sight; a giant castle floating in the far reaches of Coldharbour. Orange and blue flames climbed up the sides, raining down debris at Hasir's feet. The ground looked less whole as it had on his previous foray into this forsaken place. Now, though, it looked like a painting born of the very fires of Oblivion itself..


Hasir proceeded to barrel, through the flames, into the funeral parlor, but as he primed his body to push onward, a cold voice rose up from the ashes. It told Hasir that he had two choices: he could choose to save the bird or he could go, instead, for the Altmer that he'd developed feelings for. He knew he had to make his mind up quick as the orange curtains were about to toople the castle like an army before a Saxhleel's barrage of arrows. He ducked as a bit of the parapet gave way. With his whirlwind sprint, he made like a bolt of lightning and dash into the burning parlor.


Orange tongues licked the green walls and numerous books and alchemical equipment. the Argonian ean along a corridor and into a large area only to have to take cover behind a table as the nearby stone fireplace imploded upon itself. He ran up the stairs, into the cathedral and finally out on a courtyard of the oddest sord; bodies and carnage everywhere he looked. Trees twisted in frozen screams loomed above him. He proceeded cautiously through this macabre scene until he reached two towers set into long, imposing parapets. He knew if he went into one, he would have no chance to save the other. 


He took his chances on the left-most one. He battled flame and fallen debris as he ascended, ignoring the frantic cries of the trapped bird in the other tower. He reached the top, flung the door wide, ran to Ceralyne's aid, cut her bindings and both exited the tower. 


Again came the cold voice, saying he chose the foolish act of love over the noble one of courage. The scene faded and was replaced by the pyramid he'd met the An-Xileel in. He hid and watched as the An-Xileel closed in upon the Ka''Po'Tun and stuck her like a trout roasting over a fire. Hasir screamed from where he stood and vowed vengeance on the An-Xileel. 


A light shake caused him to sit up. He saw he was back in the medical tent. He wondered what the dream, or was it a nightmare, meant. Did it possibly mean that, in the coming days, he had to make a difficult decision and will regret making the wrong one which would have dire consequences for all of Tamriel? He decided to not think much of it. He turned and saw Garrus and Kassamae both looking at him.


Hasir stood up in surprise, asking if he had anything in his teeth. They shook their heads.

"Well?" He asked them, a bit outraged. "Out with it, why are you lot staring at me like I am a Wamasu that's about to attack?"


Kassamae stood up and put a hand on Hasir's shoulder.

"No, nothing like that. We just saw you  writhing a twitch is your sleep. Would you enlighten us to what it was that you saw?"


Hasir told Kassamae and Garrus how he was forced into a corner and the only way out was to make a split second decision without fear of making the wrong choice. He first told them about the Coldharbour castle and then the events that he 'saw' in the pyramid where the An-Xileel make their base.


Kassamae gasped and near fell of the bed in shock.

"By the gods! You saw Tigress impaled by the An-Xileel?" She glanced at Garrus who nodded and exited the tent. "We must act at once. Don't worry, Garrus just went to fetch the Rootworm trainer. the Argonian has a whistle that will call them to us so we can make haste toward BlackMarsh." Kassamae stopped and looked at Hasir who started to redden like a ripe nirnroot. "By the way, this love that you mentioned saving. Who is she?" Hasir told her about the high elf he'd met all those months ago in the Temple of Kynareth. 


Hasir told her the elf's story to the best of his ability. Kassamae cried out a second time.

"An Argonian and an Altmer? By the gods no! That would never work, besides, the altmer of Summerset are very selective as to who they enter into romantic relationships with. They would soon as kill you before having a chance with this elf.... er, what is her name again?" Kassamae asked, confused.


Hasir waved his mother down; telling her to not be so rash to judge her by her racial status.

"Hsst, Hsst, mom, calm down. You're being to hasty about this. I love Ceralyne and she loves me, isn't that enough?"


A hunted expression crossed Kassamae's face, making her look lie a rabbit caught in the intense stare of a wolf who was intent on the kill.

"Hasir, I'll back up your choices, you know I will; but you're talking about the isle of snobbish bigots here, much less the royal family of Alinor, which I've no doubt Ceralyne is a part of." Her eyes become unfocused as she thought on something. "Maybe if we were to charm the entire royal gamily into believing your story..." She shook her head.. "No, it would never work. Hasir, this is a fool's errand. Declaring love for a Summerset royal is like playing Teeba-Hatsei with a really small tail; it wouldn't make sense. What's the use of trying? You will either be killed or ostracized for your cheek."


The Argonian nodded and tucked his tail between his legs like a scared wolf. Kassamae glanced at her son and sighed.

"Hasir, you might want to confer with the Hist about this. I hesitate to think that the ancestors will be with you on this. They may need some convincing, and, if everything falls to the wayside, you'll recieve supreme wisdom from them, turn tail and forget this whole thing and settle down with a lovely Argonian female."


Hasir eyed her fiercly and snarled.

"They will never understand...Hsss! the moment Ceralyne and I... I don't know... it was like a swampy puddle bathed in the golden glow of the sun. You and the other Saxhleel would never understand. He sighed as his tail slithered back between his legs. "You lot are against the Altmer; you always have been."


Kassamae shook her head, kissing Hasir on the forehead.

"That is not true and you know it. You've got to belive in yourself and stop trying to dig a deeper hole for yourself. Let your confidence bask in the warmth of the sun instead of keeping it locked away in the cage of insecurity."


At that moment, Garrus walked in and told Kassamae that he book passage to Blackmarsh and two Rootworms would be arriving shortly to take them to where the Ka'Po'Tun awaits. She nodded and followed after the grey Argonian, leaving Hasir to wrestle with the words that his mom imparted to him as well as her profound wisdom. 


After some deep reflection in his mind=pool, he walk out of the tent to find himself staring at three massive brown worms. He turned to Garrus and gestured toward the worms.

"Garrus, I never thought Rootworms would detach from Blackmarsh and uproot in a new location as a tree overgrown with fungus would. I want to stop the An-Xileel but I've two reservation about this. My first reservation is what if the Rootworms lose their way? I mean, they most likely haven't travelled the distance of five Teeba-Hatsei fields before. My other reservation is, what if the vision I had comes true; the bit that talked  about the An-Xileel killing Tigress?"


Garrus watched Kassamae sink into one of the worms' transluscent stomachs and grasped Hasir's shoulder.

"You worry to much. I am sure Tigress is fine. There is a saying borne on the wind by the people of Gideon, 'he who does not trust that the wind blows where it will may be swept up in the updraft'." He gazed out towards Blackmarsh, "I have faith that the Rootworms' journey will be as fruitful as a fruit farm, don't worry." With the said, he disappeared into the clear sac that was the worm's stomach. 


Hasir look confusedly and his mother and slid into the slimy sac after her. The worms slid through the dirt and, a few hours later, they rose up like daisies and were forcefully ejected; onto the swampy marshland..


Hasir walked over to his mother and Garrus and inquired as to what their plan of attack was. Garrus squeezed himself out of the worm and turned to Hasir.

"This is your vision, not ours. You saw what 'became' of Tigress. Tell us what to do. We'll be right behind you; no matter how good or ill your plan seems to be."


Hasir motioned his mom and Garrus to gather around him as he knelt down, found a discarded stick and began laying out his plan of attack.

Garrus, you were told of this long before we got here." He closed his eyes and sighed. "Hatchlings can't be royalty, so, Garrus, there is a secret entrance to their Xanmeer a short ways to the north that leads underground, you will surprise attack from there." Garrus asked what he and Kassamae will do. "Kassamae and I will most a frontal assault from the front entrance, well it's more of a door affixed to the side of the... anyway, we will enter and cause a diversion so you can get in and ascertain what has become of Tigress."


Kassamae eyed her son and asked what, to Hasir, seemed a very obvious answer.

"Yes, but how will we get there? We've no horses."


Hasir tured to her and hissed in indignation.

"I have it all planned out, relax."


They walked to the stables, paid the neccesary gold, mounted their newly acquired lizard-steeds and headed for the Xinchei-Konu monument; where Hasir knew the An-Xileel base was located. When they got to the ever looming Xanmeer, they stabled their steeds, gave them water and food and approached the stone pyramid. 


Kassamae and Garrus bade Hasir farewell as they ascended the steep stone steps to enter undetected. Hasir looked up to see if they were inside. Satisfied, the black leaf-haired Argonian entered through one of the stone doors that flanked the Xanmeer. Once he was inside, he cast his candle light spell. It threw light in all directions; making the corridor look like a shadow chased away by some great flmae. Hasir knew he had no need for the aid of his wolf's night vision as the light cut the darkness like a knife. He continued through, seeing no impedences as he made his way toward the chamber where the meeting chamber was. 


He sighted Kassamae and Garrus appearing from the shadow of the adjoining corridor. Hasir mimed for them to take up position on either side of the door while he pressed his auditory mebrane to the door even though the wolf within gave him impeccable hearing. He heard voices as if he were standing in the room with them.

"Any word of lord Bal's plans for those filthy lycanthropes yet?" Veexith asked an invisible Argonian. "I am sick of waiting. I wish he would hurry up and give us instruction instead of being dust in the wind."  


The Argonian, female by the sound of her voice, answered Veexith in a hushed voice.

"Veexith, our lord will reveal the path when it is fully understood. Keep your voice down, we'll be overheard and Bal knows who is beyond that door." The Argonian said, gesturing to the intricated designed stone door.


Hasir heard the remorse in Veexith's voice as he heard his heavy footfalls across the chamber.

"Who's to know if anyone is beyond the door at all? Oleen-Xu, your tail is twisting too much. Calm down. As Ahtalg informs me, our plans are well underway. The Silver Hand has already been informed of the werewolves' whereabouts."


Hasir furrowed his eyebrows; wondering just who Ahtalg and Oleen-Xu were when Ahtalg spoke.

"What about the Hist? Shall we poison them? Doing so will,, I assume, will render the aforementioned anger about a certain merital event a moot point, perhaps even abate the emotion."


Veexith opened his mouth to answer but was interrupted by Hasir barreling through the opening in the cracked stone door; candlelight spell held aloft. Hasir strode across the floor and grabbed Veexith by the throat.

"Veexith, how nice of you to be hospitable to us." He said, sneering at the wide-eyed Argonian. "I heard everything. You mean to poison all of Blackmarsh. What will that accomplish? Will you finally be happy with the unholy union by exterminating your race?" He asked, threateningly. "It appears a lizard cannot change his scales." He said, sighing. "Veexith, I thought you were better than this, getting mixed up with an orgization you know as much about as a Wamasu knows a hackwing egg."


Veexith retreated like a rabbit in front of a hungry wolf while Ahtalg and Oleen-Xu both drew primitive looking bronze swords.

"I joined because I thought this looked like a promising group to make this lonely Saxhleel feel included and accepted instead of feeling ostracised from all of Blackmarsh. You have no idea what that's like."


Hasir put his clawed hand on Veexith's arm, stopping him from drawing his sword.

"Veexith, I know that feeling all too well. The feeling of being the eccentric hackwing far removed from the flock. Trust me, I know. Please, don't continue down this dark road or else you may find yourself at a dead end."


Veexith seemed to consider this but shrugged of the Argonian's attempt to help. Feeling deeply saddened by this, Hasir flung the light spell to hover a few feet away, drew his bow and nocked an arrow. He looked at Veexith; eyes narrowed and teeth bared into a snarl.

"You just signed your death warrant is this what you want? Do you really feel so blind as to trust Molag Bal? Do you not see that he'll betray you? All daedric princes cannot be trusted."He thought on his erronius statement a bit. "Well... except for those of nature, of course. All the others can rot in the planes of Oblivion they created." 


Veexith nodded to Ahtalg, who was advancing on the unaware Argonian, blade drawn. She snarled and was about to strike when an arrow flew from the shadow and struck her in the chest. With her dying breath, she alerted Veexith to the invisble force waiting in the shadows. Hasir  saw them before Veexith did. He motioned for them to stay hidden lest they let the khajiit out of the bag too soon, so to speak. They obliged and loosed arrows from their elevated vantage point.


With Veexith distracted, Hasir called for the Kap'po'tun; his voice reverbrating off the walls like a Teeba-Eenu ball.

"Tigress! Where are you? Oh gods, please don't let my dream-vision come true, Tigress, show yourself. A striped bit of fur... a whisker... anything to know you're still alive." High above the An-Xileel member, the Ka'Po'Tun knew this to be a grave mistaken. It took Hasir minutes longer than Tigress to realize this. 


Ten bows pointed at him; arrow tips shining like silver suns, or they would have had the chamber had light. Hasir feared the worst, when an Argonian, perfectly blending in with the near-blackness of the pyramid's interior, leapt down, drew his sword and cut a bloody swath through the bow-wielding An-Xileel. 


Hasir walked toward the assassin and scrutinized him thoroughly. Garrus looked from the fallen bodies of the former Argonian government to the Argonian and the assain, furrowing his brow.

"Is this the flower in the field of thorns that snaked its way amongst them, choking the life from them one by one?" Hasir nodded curtly. 


Garrus walked up to the scaly assassin and extended his hand and bared his fangs in what he thought was a warm smile.

"I'm Garrus, who might you be?" The assassin was too focused on snapping Veexith's neck to hear. He repeated his greeting. The scaly assassin cast a cursory glance at Veexith's lifeless body and graped Sharp=As-Night's hand. "Nice to meet you." He turned and spat on the traitorous Argonian's body. "I can't believe I once looked up to these Saxhleel. I chose, long ago, to leave my shameful past behind me." He said, shuddering. He started down at the sanguine liquid coating his armor, "I wonder what my sister will think of me.'" 


Garrus grasped the assassin's shoulder and gazed over his shoulder at the dead An-Xileel members and then at Hasir,

"Thank the Hist for Sharp-As-Night, if he hadn't come we might all be Agronian skewerd, choped up and served over a fire. Now that this is done, what next? What's next for you, I mean? I know that you have a mission of rounding up residents from each providence or something."


Hasir looked around and shrugged.

"Dunno... maybe go back to Blackmarsh or Lukiul Uxith and find any Saxhleel worthy enough to join my cause. Once that is done..." He closed his eyes and sighed. "I might... erm... go to Elsweyr and continue on there."


Garrus looked from the assin to Hasir, who nodded.

"Sharp, I would love to learn more about you and your past but my scaly friend is on a mission. Whatever that mission may be, I'm not sure but I do know by the set look on the Argonian's face, it's important to him, so.. shall we get going? On our way there, we can talk more about how you moved like lightning across the starless sky." He approached Hasir and shrugged, "who knows, maybe your elf girlfriend will be there."


Hasir stopped near the entrance and glanced over his shoulder.

"Who in Oblivion told you about Ceralyne? Now that I think on it,, who told you about the thing I had for her?"


Garrus smirked as he walked by the clueless Argonian, followed by the assassin and the Ka'po'tun.

"Come on, seriously? It was written all over your face. Stop being a stick in the mud, for all our sakes."


Hasir considered his words as he met everyone outside the Xan-Meer to discuss the next step in his plan. When that was all said and done with, they made their way back to Lilmoth. Hasir'd thought that the Argonians - the ones cherry-picked for this mission - would await him at Lukiul Uxith but his gut feeling was leading him to Lilmoth, though, he had no idea why. 

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