Of Magecraft and Spider Silk
Getting to Know You
The twin moons of Masser and Secunda were already rising into the dusk hued sky when Tenkai and I crossed the craggy border separating the lush and humid High Rock half of Upper Craglorn, and the arid, sand blasted desert Hammerfell portion that made up Lower Craglorn.
It had taken us a little over four hours, and even I was practically begging for rest. My tarsi were killing me. Now, I’ve skittered for long treks before, mostly having to deal with another one of Lord Bal’s or Lord Dagon’s servants leading a raid on some locale of the Skein, but at least the Skein is relatively smooth. My tarsi have been, aside from small breaks to drink, eat, or relieve ourselves crunching dirt, stone, and who knows what else for hours, and even though my limbs are more durable than a mortal’s, even I have my limits.
Finally, just a few feet from the exit the pass we had crossed through to get to Lower Craglorn, the hot, dry air mixing with the colder air of its northern brother, Tenkai announced we would make camp and rest for the night. By Mephala’s magnificent mammaries, I hadn’t been this overjoyed since the day my nether-niece Arukeni announced she had become captain of her town’s guard, the Ephel Duaths. Granted, she had earned her rank, not just via intense training or drive, but also due to besting the former captain, now her second in command, Cereza, in a duel, then ovipositing into her. Now, while one may see beating one’s commanding officer into submission then impregnating them as an ...odd way to rise in the ranks, alongside said promotion being capped off with a celebratory orgy, but one must remember we Perthans are, by our very nature, sexual creatures. Plus, its not as bad as some other Daedric traditions.
Anyway, I more or less collapsed against one of the twin rocky walls on either side of us, rubbing my throbbing tarsi with my hands. They haven’t been this sore since my one hundred and seventy-seventh birthday (and no, I will not be revealing my true age. That’s only for one man to know, and him alone), ah that was a wild night. I recall my half brother, Kynval Jarkinnias had brought over some Ambrosian Cider, pure alcohol imbued with ground up Fire Salts, ambrosia from the Shivering Isles, and a bit of what mortals call “Moon Sugar” and well, let’s say I woke up in a pile of half naked soul weavers while dressed like a Golden Seducer and leave it at that.
Tenkai, perhaps seeing how exhausted I was, offered to set up camp this time. “Thank you.” I said, reclining against the sun warmed stone at my back. My eyes were, quite literally, half paying attention to Tenkai, the other half scanning both the peaks above and either entrance to the past for any intruders, whether they be fauna or otherwise. Unfortunately, aside from a few very brief scuffles with some of the local wildlife, the journey had been, so far, rather uneventful.
My right eyes watched Tenkai work. I watched as he pitched the goat and sheep hair tent we’d be staying in for the night. Despite being relatively small to an outsider’s glance, one of his colleagues, an Ashlander woman by the name of Romana, had enchanted it so it would, as she put it, be “bigger on the inside.” In essence, what would appear to be a hunter’s tent fit for one, perhaps allowing room for a hound or some such hunting pet, would once the flap was opened, and one stepped inside, would find a space about as large as an average room that could be found in any moderately sized abode, with all the amenities included. It even had a little hatch at the top so that, if we ever decided to use the small oven and cooking pot within, the smoke would filter out into the empty air.
His robe and mail, having become dampened with sweat and torn a bit from the scuffles we had along the way, lay spread out nearby to dry, leaving him dressed in just a pair of nailbinded goat-hair boots, burnt umber colored pants, interlaced with scales to provide protection against both animal bites, and the sting of various weapons. As he set up the tent, and the campfire that would help warm us throughout the biting half-desert night, I kept my four eyes focused. Two of my irises switched between either entrance to the pass, as well as the tops of the overlooking walls on either side of us, in case a band of opportunistic brigands, or a hungry beast, decided to ambush us. My second pair of eyes, however, locked onto a far more interesting sight. The blazing sun of Magnus, coupled with the work he had done, had caused a warm gleam to come from Tenkai. Despite being a mage, he was still fairly toned. Not overly muscular, but he had an athletic build. I licked my lips. “Hmm, want me to start the fire?” I asked. He seemed pretty tired from having assembled our campsite, so I thought it would be good if I pitched in. I may be many things, but I am not a freeloader ...usually. In this instance, I would not be. I skittered over towards him, crouching beside him over the stack of warm, dry ash firewood.
“Thank you Rachnera, I believe it's my turn to rest now.” He chuckled softly, scooting aside. I focused, warmth flowing from my core, through my right arm, and finally forming into a smooth, azure flame in the palm of my hand. I lightly thrust out my hand, as the sphere of fire jettisoned from my palm, and slammed into the wood. Within seconds, the driftwood sparked, and a crackling fire soon grew, warming both us, and the rocks on either side of the pass.
“Alright then,” I grabbed the weathered copper pan from the pack I had been carrying. It was a thing of Dwemer make, refurbished with copper. Even we of the Daedra know precious little of the Deep Elves, save perhaps Lord Mora, and Lord Jyggalag. Now, to most Daedra, doing something so….mortally mundane as cooking food over a fire with some pot or another would seem rather boorish and banal, but I personally find it charmingly rustic, a nice change of pace. Setting the pan on atop the makeshift holder we had constructed out of relatively smooth stone, I poured a small amount of water into it from one of the flasks into the pan, then added in some of the strips of wolf meat we had carved from some of the beasts that had tried to bare their fangs and claws at us along our way, letting them cook, skewering them with fire resistant enchanted rods. I took out a few more, laying them over some especially heat receptive stones to dry out. That done with, I turned around, and fired out some webbing over the pan’s top, acting as a lid, leaving small chinks to let the smoke simmer out. Alongside being stronger than even the toughest mortal made steel, and able to hold quite a bit of weight, the most I’ve ever personally seen was Soulweaver Uttu, who, during a skirmish with some of Lord Dagon’s forces, managed to ensure and all but immobilize a Daedric Titan and a handful of the forces accompanying it, without even breaking a sweat. Once I was finished with that, I breathed a sigh of relief, and took a seat on the opposite side of Tenkai. “So, now that we’ve had time, why don’t we try and learn a little about each other?” I asked. It would pass the time, plus well, in my long life of centuries and centuries, I’ve come to learn if you're working alongside someone for an extended period of time, it doesn’t hurt to get to know them a bit.
Tenkai smacked his lips, taking a sip of spring water sprinkled with mint from his hip flask. “Alright then, can’t hurt.” he shrugged, leaning against the stone wall. “Well, I was born in Sentinel. My family were Forebears and Lhotunics, so they were more open to things more traditional Crowns were opposed to, yet still revered the old ways of Yokuda than most Forebears. My father, Hakan is a blacksmith, he’s an artisan at his craft. My mother, Taviah, was, from what they’ve told me, a mercenary, who, after she had helped some Synod researchers excavate some ruins, became an archeologist of sorts, focusing on Akaviri culture.” He smiled, a wistful look gracing his stormy eyes. “I took after them both, they were even open to me wanting to study magic with the local College of Whispers chapter in Sentinel.” he stretched, the athletic musculature rippling in the starlight, illuminated by the flames. I licked my lips, swiftly taking a swig of the mint infused water to hide the action. “I joined the Society about four years ago, after I aided one of our senior members, Archmagos Archimedes Celatus of the Clockwork Department, during a ruin excavation. The rest, as they say, is history.” he finished his short tale, checking on the meat.
I had listened intently. Despite being a relatively mundane story, there was something about it that captured me. Being part spider, I was used to listening, but the way he told it, his voice, captured my interest. “Well, I suppose it’s my turn?” I asked, already knowing the answer. He took a skewer, blowing on it. The meat had a nice golden color due to the garlic flavored marinade it had been given.
“That would be fair, no?” Tenkai asked, quirking an eyebrow. He took a bite out of the meat, swallowing it, washing the meat down with a gulp from his flask.
I took a skewer in my hand, biting into it. While I admit, among Daedra, we Perthans probably are not the best cooks, I did have some talent for it. My grandsire, she claims it was due to her having part of some Daedra of Lord Sanguine’s within her. “Well then, where shall I begin? I was hatched, in mortal years, seven hundred and seventy-two years ago, give or take. Though, my true age, well, you may find out later. I spent the first few decades of my existence, as all Perthans do, learning the customs of our race, how best to spin strong webs, how to best serve Lady Mephala, things like that.” I took another bite.of the meat, savoring the juices as they ran down my throat. “I served for a time with the Soulweavers. Think of them as specialized battlemages. We would be able to infuse our claws with the spiritual energy of willing followers of Lady Mephala, or of lesser Daedra, increasing our strength” I explained. “I’ve done a few, for lack of a better term, odd jobs around the planes of Oblivion, and Mundus. You aren’t the first to summon me,” I flashed him a teasing smirk, “But you are the cutest.” I chuckled, enjoying the faint crimson hue of his cheeks as he turned his head away, coughing.
We made small talk by the fire, mostly about subjects relating to my race, or how Daedric society, at least in terms of the Spiral Skein, anything that came to mind. Eventually, the twin moons of Masser and Secunda hung overhead, and the fire was dying down. I had volunteered to take first watch, not that Daedra, technically, needed sleep anyway.
Tenkai stretched, as he opened the tent. “Have a nice night, Rachnera.” He said with a small smile gracing his features.
“Pleasant dreams, Tenkai.” I said, though I don’t know if he had heard me. While mortalkind may be irksome at times, even they did not deserve some of the disturbing nightmares Lady Vaermina spun….well, some of them did.
The first day of our journey had concluded, and, to tell you the truth, a part of me had been excited to continue. But that is a story for later. Until then….