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Kaleeth's reaction was delayed by a few more moments of sobbing, and did not acknowledge Tunxeek at first. She uncovered her face, then pushed herself up to her feet. Staring straight ahead, she closed her eyes, then took in a long breath. "I'm sorry. You've helped me, Tunxeek, you really have, but I can't talk about this. I...thank you, but I just can't."

Not waiting a moment longer, Kaleeth suddenly rushed away, back towards Thorantilth's hut. She wanted nothing more than to talk about her experience with anyone, even Tunxeek, but it was true that she could not talk about it with him, given the nature of what had been revealed to her. However, she could talk with Janius, and it was the first thing on her mind.

Kaleeth did the best she could to regain her composure before she headed back into Thorantilth's hut. As he was currently receiving his marks, Kaleeth did not want to worry Julan at the moment. Although, he hardly even reacted to her return at all. Janius, however, would be able to see that she had been sobbing when she moved close enough to him. She wanted to ask him if they could go somewhere else, but failed to speak at all. Her discomfort and uncertainty, at the least, would be obvious to Janius.




Ahnasha did not let Fendros get out the door before she stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. "Listen, all that you feel about your father, just keep in mind that I feel it too. He enrages me in all the same ways as he does for you, but I still want to try. I want to do everything I can to make sure both of us get out of this invasion alive, and I genuinely think that having him, and more people with his strength, will make that more likely. That's why I can bite my tongue and fight alongside Thalmor, Molag Bal's daedra, or that monster Neesa. If it starts to get to you...just start thinking about wanting to get out of this with our family intact."

Ahnasha was quick to follow Fendros out afterwards. Calia and the rest of Fendros' family were still downstairs with Ahnasha's family at adjacent tables. Ahnasha did notice that the time they had been away was enough that her family no longer looked quite as shaken up, but that did not stop her mother from greeting her with another worry-filled hug. Ahnasha and Fendros could not escape having to talk with her family for at least a short time, as Ahnasha did not want to brush them aside after going through something so stressful. She had a feeling that the event had put some questions in their minds about her, given her usage of magic, and the confidence she had shown when facing down Rossarm. However, at least for the moment, they were not addressing it.

The two of them were eventually about to politely get away from Ahnasha's family for long enough to join Calia at her table. Although, Ahnasha did not plan to remain there for long. "Calia, would you mind if we went somewhere private to speak? There is something important we would like to ask you about." Ahnasha asked.
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"It's okay, we don't have to-...hey, wait!" Tunxeek reached out in surprise, but did not follow. Kaleeth could barely hear him sigh to himself before she was out of earshot.

Kaleeth found Janius more or less in the same position as before, sitting nearby and watching the tattooing. He turned his head to see Kaleeth as she entered, and immediately his smile lowered. "Kaleeth?" He murmured quietly.

When she neared and struggled to speak, Janius took her wrist and raised a finger to his lips. "Shhh-shh-shh. Are you alright? We..." He stopped and glanced at Julan and Thorantilth. "Let's go outside."

Janius stood up, still holding onto Kaleeth's arm, and lead her out of the hut. He stopped a few steps away from the outside of the hut's entrance and addressed Kaleeth again. He asked her gently. "Did you...see her?"



Fendros stopped and listened to each word Ahnasha said. By the end of it, he let out a small breath, his shoulders lowered a little, and he nodded twice. "Okay," he whispered.

Ahnasha could noticed when they were downstairs that she had succeeded at somewhat calming him. He was patient and level with Ahnasha's relatives, even as they kept them both in conversation.

Over with Fendros' family, Calia sat up straight and stoic alongside Monderyn as he held Llarasa in a hug. Llarasa had her face in her hands, but when she looked up to see Ahnasha and Fendros, there was evidently much more fatigue in her eyes than tears. Opposite Calia, Rhazii sat sunken in his chair, tweaking his fingers awkwardly with all the tension around him. His ears lifted when his parents neared.

"In private?" Calia repeated as if to confirm. She only took a quick, surreptitious look at Ahnasha's family before she turned her head and nodded. "Of course." She smoothly stood to her feet. "Monderyn? Would you fetch some pitchers of water for everyone?"

"Yes, mother," Monderyn moved to do as he was told.

"Please, lead the way," Calia said to Ahnasha, turning a palm up.
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Kaleeth gave a few nervous looks around the village. They were out of the Treeminder's hut, but still directly in the middle of the village, with plenty of others around. Knowledge of Cyrodilic was not common among them, but there were some who could speak it to varying degrees. After a few seconds of hesitation, she wordlessly took Janius' hand in hers and started to lead him away to the edge of, then completely out of the village. Some of her tears had returned by the time they had gotten far enough from the village for her to feel safe enough to stop.

Once more, Kaleeth paused, this time looking out among the trees: particularly the Hist trees dispersed around the area. Finally, she responded to him, though not with an answer to his question. "It was all meant to be."




The trio headed right back up to Ahnasha and Fendros' room to talk privately. Ahnasha was slower to speak this time, allowing Calia the chance to sit down in the room's single chair and settle in before herself sitting down on the bed across from her. For this, Ahnasha was still somewhat dubious on how to approach the subject. Usually, it was Meesei who took care of giving these sorts of explanations to outsiders, even though all of the pack were trusted to be able to make that judgment. The fact that it was Fendros' mother only further complicated matters, but at the very least, she already knew about their lycanthropy. The only revelation that they would need to make was the true importance and scale of what they were doing.

"This is...well, this is difficult to talk about, but what I saw up on that mountain trail in Rossarm has changed things. It's given me questions and ideas that go far beyond mere family squabbles in importance. I think, Calia, that your husband could be very important in keeping us, you, and...many others safe in the months to come, if we can secure his help. But, we are...restricted in what we can say to you without some promises from you first. Essentially, we have to swear you to secrecy. Officially. Oh, what was that full speech Marod gave us?" Ahnasha began, rubbing the back of her neck in thought. "I may be paraphrasing it, but...'do you swear, Calia Avarul, to complete secrecy in all matters forthcoming? Do you swear to refrain from repeating any detail of this matter, in part or whole, to any persons or organizations without the permission of the appropriate Imperial authority? Do you swear these things in the name of his Imperial Majesty Flavius Mede, under the pain of treason and all associated punishments?'"

Ahnasha's sudden shift in tone and formality could have been taken as some sort of jest, but her gaze was dead serious, followed by some degree of regret. Much like Fendros, involving his parents at all was not Ahnasha's first choice. Even just the request for secrecy by itself, invoking the name of the Emperor himself, would clue Calia in that her and Fendros were involved in events of substantially greater importance than anything they had openly alluded to before. Though, Calia might have already picked up on some details that hinted at it. "I understand if you want to say no to that kind of an oath. I wouldn't blame you." Ahnasha added.
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Janius blinked and lowered his brow. "Pardon?" He glanced to the side and back to Kaleeth, and then pointed over his shoulder. "That's what...Julan said that, after he took the sap."

His bewilderment was short-lived. Kaleeth was still upset. Janius gently took her upper arms. "Kaleeth, tell what happened."



Calia sat just as rod upright and neutral-faced as she had been downstairs. With one hand over the other on her leg, she listened intently to Ahnasha with such stillness that she hardly even looked to be breathing.

She parted her lips. "Ahnasha, Fendros, I was not aware you were working for the throne." Her eyes flicked between them. "I was under the impression that your condition was not seen kindly by the governments of the land."

Fendros, sitting down beside Ahansha on the bed, lowered his eyes and nodded. "A lot has happened. I can't say much more than that without you promising to keep this all a secret. It's beyond just us and the pack this time."

"My son and daughter, answer me this at least. Are you in any danger?"

It took a moment for Fendros to answer. He grinned tensely. "No immediate danger, no." He gestured out. "Like I said, this is beyond just us."

Calia's thumb tightened around her other hand. "...Very well. Ahnasha, you know I have kept your secrets before. I shall continue to, no matter their weight. But, you must understand that such oaths as the one you are asking me to take are dangerous. I ask you to consider whether it is absolutely appropriate that I hear what you wish to tell me."

Fendros sighed. "Ahansha, just tell her. It's not as if we have the authority to enforce anything like that. It's mother, for eight's sake."
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The tears had returned in full, though Kaleeth avoided breaking down as she had before. She wrapped her arms around him, buried her head in his chest, and closed her eyes, allowing herself to focus on actually giving an answer. "Her soul had not yet been reborn. I did get to...feel her presence again. To feel her thoughts, her words...her love, her compassion. But...she normally would have been. In all this time that had passed, she would have been reborn. But the Hist, they kept her with them so..." She began to cry and struggled to keep her words coherent. "...she could say goodbye."




"I know she's your mother." Ahnasha remarked, glancing to the side towards Fendros. "But we have to be formal about this sort of thing now. It used to be that we could just tell anyone we trusted about this, but since the Imperials got involved, well...you know how they can be."

Ahnasha returned her gave back to Calia. "I do think that you can really help us, Calia. The two of us did talk about this beforehand, and we aren't taking this lightly. I know you said yes, but if at any point you want me to just stop talking and we pretend we never had this conversation, then I will respect that decision. We are not working for the throne, precisely. As in, we do not have titles, rank, station, or authority in the Empire, but we are working in cooperation with them. And there is a very good reason for us to be working together towards a common goal."

Ahnasha let out a long breath, tapping her finger against the bed as she thought about how to phrase her explanation. "You lived through the Oblivion Crisis at the end of the last Era. In essence, that is what we are seeking to stop before it can happen. Different Prince, different tactics, but the same outcome. So like Fendros said, bigger than all of us. What we need is exceptional people to be able to do what just numbers cannot. We already have a plan, and the means to carry it out, but I want to give us the best chances we possibly can have. Your husband...it is a rather extreme understatement to say that we have our differences, but what I saw out there on that trail was that he is an exceptional person. Even in that short glimpse I was offered, I could feel the power he had at his command. He is the kind of person who could really help us, all of us, if he could be convinced to do so."
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Janius returned Kaleeth's hug. Despite his attempt to comfort her, the thought of what she described took his own feelings off guard. He could feel some tears forming in his eyes.

"Divines, that's..." Janius trailed off before his voice could quake. "And...what did she say?"



If it weren't for Calia's damaged eyes paying close attention to Ahnasha, Calia might as well have been imitating a statue. The amount of time she spent making a silence in the room when Ahnasha finished her explanation made Fendros tug at his fingers with nervousness.

Calia blinked. "Which Daedric prince?" She asked swiftly.
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Kaleeth was clearly hesitant, as even thinking of her mother's final "words" to her was almost enough to make her break down again. Regardless, she repeated their meaning as best as she could. "I...she said she loved me. She understands now, she isn't angry, doesn't blame me. Either of us. She's proud of what we're doing and..." She became briefly choked up, unable to speak at all for a few seconds "...everything I ever wanted her to tell me. But then...then she said...goodbye."

Kaleeth pulled back slightly, gripping her hands tightly around Janius' arms. "Don't you see? Don't you understand, Janius? There isn't supposed to be a goodbye. Argonians aren't supposed to get those kinds of goodbyes; we shouldn't need them. Her soul isn't going anywhere, except to another body where it can live another life. Argonians don't go away. We've been a part of the Hist, and will be a part of the Hist forever. Every Argonian lives, dies, and is reborn again and again and again."

This time, Kaleeth let go of Janius entirely, her gaze dropping to the ground. "Except me. I'm a...sacrifice, Janius."




Ahnasha answered right away. "A Prince with far more subtlety and patience than Dagon: Clavicus Vile. The 'Prince of Wishes'. A title that makes him sound far more benign than he actually is. His approach hasn't been to open up gates and march armies across Tamriel, but he is still just as much of a threat. Hircine opposes him and, well, we would naturally oppose him regardless. It would be ab insult to your intelligence to try and convince you that it is not a dangerous task we have undertaken, but it is something that must be done. And something that we cannot just...trust someone else to accomplish for us. Tamriel survived the Oblivion Crisis because good people stood up, drew a line in the sand, and fought to protect the world they called home. This war isn't a problem we can solve by just throwing armies of soldiers at it, but we still need good people."

Although she was obviously nervous, Ahnasha continued to press through with her explanation. "There is...something happening soon. It is really best if I do not go into detail, but it is something that will stop Vile for good, if we succeed. Regardless of what I think of your husband as a man, I can respect him as a mage. He could be valuable to stopping Vile, and I want to know if you think he could be persuaded to help us? This is something that could go on to affect all of Tamriel, this city included, if it is not stopped, and we would be giving Rossarm a chance to protect himself and his family with his own hands.
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Janius did not know what to say. He did not know if there was anything to say in the first place. His eyes lowered when Kaleeth's did and, try as he might, there were no curing words to make anyone feel better. He deferred to saying what was on his mind.

"A sacrifice." he said. "Is that really how they described it?"



Again, Calia took a lengthy pause.

"You would enlist him to fight, then?" she asked.

"Yes," Fendros said. "And to provide his experience on fighting Daedra, though we have experts already. He'll be another voice."

"...And Nirn would be at stake?"

"The entirety of Mundus, mother."

Calia cast her eyes down. She was quiet for so long that Fendros' eyes were drawn to the window, where beyond the sounds of the street seeped in. He could only imagine what words or memories she might be recalling from far before he was born. For all the enmity he bore his father, Fendros could not completely remove his curiosity at what such memories told.

Finally, Calia lifted her eyes. She even shifted uncomfortably. "Rossarm...has not fought in many decades," she said slowly, without making eye contact. "There are reasons why. Reasons that are not mine to divulge." She took a breath and held it for a moment. "He will not like this. Of that, I am certain. But he needs this, I think. He has spent too many years in melancholy. He needs to work alongside you. And that is to say nothing of the weight of this situation. Neither he nor I could ever deny that."

Fendros angled his head. "You don't sound very certain."

"That is because I am uncertain, Fendros." Calia responded, almost curtly. "This may bring forth some of the greatest pain I have ever seen your father in. I am doing my very best not to weep, because I know he will suffer even if this is what is best for everyone, not least of which himself." Calia pursed her lips at them both.
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Kaleeth initially shook her head, but she realized that the explanation she had did not precisely contradict herself. "I, um...somewhat. The word is different in Jel. That is...the best one I can think to use. I was sacrificed for the good of the Hist. They see far, through time and through...possibilities. They knew this was coming, and what Vile was doing. Like with the Oblivion Crisis, when they called back Argonians from all over to defend our homeland before it happened. It's why we were so much more ready for it than other places. Only this time, it's not armies they needed, just...the right people. The right people, in the right places, doing the right things at the right time. They chose me to...sacrifice to Hircine. It's the same with Meesei, and I'm sure other Argonians we don't even know. I think they knew I would be strong as a lycan, and that I would be able to help. Even if it meant giving my soul away to a Daedra."

The brief silence that followed was punctuated by Kaleeth's eyes growing wider as her final revelation came over her. "I went out looking for Hircine that day, but...it wasn't him I found. I remember it now, so clear...I never communed with Hircine. The Hist guided that werecrocodile to me."




"I wish we did not have to ask this of you." Ahnasha began. "I know how you feel. I felt much the same way back when we first learned the true stakes, though I think I've become numb to it by now. We've been fighting Vile for over a decade now. Resisting his plans, waging a slow, methodical war against him. A war we have been winning, I can add, but there is one final effort. One...critical last step. Without it, he will just recover in time."

Regardless of her justification for it, Ahnasha showed her regret openly in her expression, whether she wanted to or not. Her eye's flicked away from Calia's, and there was some strain for her to speak. "I never wanted to cause you this kind of pain or...distress. I know you will worry about your son being in danger, and you will worry about your husband. And...I can't promise that either of them will be safe if we all step up and fight this threat. I can only promise that none of us will be safe if we do not. Perhaps that alone will be enough to convince him, but I would be thankful for any advice you can give to help persuade him. Meesei will be coming to check up on us tomorrow, and we will need to talk to her and tell her of this idea. I have no doubt she will approve of it, and she can bring along a Penitus Oculatus agent if you think it would help give us more credibility."
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With that, Janius' face showed conflict. "...What?" he breathed. "They made you turn?" He half-raised his hands and, after a moment, let them fall. "Did they give you a choice in the matter?"



Calia rather abruptly shook her head at both the mention of Meesei. "Ahnasha, let us cut pretences. Rossarm will not listen to any Argonian about something like this. Allow me to speak with him with a writ from Imperial officials calling him to action. I will not tempt an incident like this afternoon, even if he was..." Her nostrils flared as she attempted to contain herself. "...In his cups and brutish as a troll!"

While Calia looked away and tried to drain the anger from her cheeks, Fendros held his head forward and spoke softly. "We can get that for you. Thank you, mother."
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Kaleeth looked perhaps surprisingly uncertain for a question it seemed like she would know the answer to. "I'm...not sure. I don't have all of the memories of my soul. Of my past lives. I might have been willing to be sacrificed before I was even hatched. I think the only way I could ever really know is by dying."




Ahnasha nodded in agreement. "We can still have the Penitus Oculatus agent come in person if you think it would help, but if not, I'm sure we could get a writ to you by...probably later tomorrow evening. I doubt it would take Marod long to write something up."

Despite Calia's offer of help, Ahnasha could not help but to still show some discomfort. She shuffled in place where she was sitting and let out a long breath. "I can't help but to worry that conflict will only be delayed, though. It is inescapable that Meesei is our leader, and...he will have to acknowledge that authority eventually. Meesei is taking a central, leading role in our upcoming plans; even the Empire and Dominion both agreed to it, after Meesei won the right through a trial by combat with the Thalmor's chosen champion. Hopefully being there in Skyrim, fully informed on what is happening, will make him committed enough not to cause trouble. But...you know him best Calia. By our own customs, anyone would be allowed to challenge Meesei if they feel their own will is superior. It's ingrained into the identity of Hircine's followers. If he knew it was an option, do you think Rossarm would do it?"
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Janius did not raise his voice. He remained as though he did not know what to think, but he sounded insistent. "But what about now? Just knowing what you currently know, would you make the same decision if you could choose?"



"No, no, he would not do that," Calia said, now holding her clasped hand more tightly. "Not for gaining authority." She paused and lifted her eyes to Ahnasha. "Meesei must be quite formidable to have done that. However, the problem is in convincing Rossarm, not...subordinating him. He is better than this. Better than out there, this afternoon." Calia quickly wiped her eye with one finger. "He just has...difficult days. Not as many as when you went missing, Fendros, but...he still has them."

"Why is he like this?" Fendros asked quietly.

Calia swallowed. "I hope he one day finds it in himself to tell you, Fendros. You both deserve better than how he has treated you."
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Kaleeth's thoughts were scattered, and even when she was able to focus on Janius' question, she found herself unable to reason out an answer. She eventually let go of her embrace with Janius, only to end up burying her face in her hands, which muffled the words she finally did speak. "I don't know, I don't know. This has all just been so much at once. I know I want to be with you, and I know the Hist does need to be protected. To protect them is to protect every Argonian. But...was there some other way to have both? To be with you, and to fight Vile? Was it really the only way? I hope my soul did volunteer. I...I can't imagine the Hist could ever be so cruel if I hadn't."




"Perhaps you are right and this experience will help him." Ahnasha remarked. "I wish we could help more directly, but I trust your judgement on this, Calia. I think you stand the best chance out of anyone to persuade him. We can come back tomorrow with the writ, and wait nearby in case you need us."

Ahnasha let out a sigh, leaning forward with her arms crossed over her stomach. "I do trust what you say about him, but I can't help but to worry about the possibilities. I do think that he could be a great help, I just want to try to plan ahead as much as possible to make conflicts less likely. I don't want you to think that I'm having second thoughts about it or anything; I'm just trying to be cautious. Though, I suppose Rossarm isn't too much different from some of the others. We have gathered to gathered together quite a collection of exceptionally powerful and prideful people, and are expecting them all to work together. Really, he will fit right in."
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Janius closed his eyes and ran his hand up across the side of his head. "Well, if there's no way of knowing..." He let out a lengthy sigh. "I spent so long feeling like I was responsible for your turning. Every day you missed your family was...crushing guilt. It broke my heart. I guess the thought that 'it was all meant to be' this entire time, or however the Hist put it, it...it's just confusing."

He stepped up and took Kaleeth's arm. "What should we even do now? What does this mean?"



Calia gave a single, slow nod. "I understand. I fear such conflicts, if they are to happen, may be beyond your control. See to it your cause is right, and your leadership is strong. Do not...force Rossarm to get better. He need only remind himself of who he used to be."
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Kaleeth gave a shrug that appeared somewhat defeated. She paced around for a few seconds before allowing herself to lean back against the nearest tree, then slowly slide down to sit on the ground beside it. "I don't know. I'm not even sure it does mean anything anymore. Nothing changed. We still have to go fight Vile, and I still can't return to the Hist. I've known that for a long while. I guess I can say that I know now that my mother isn't upset, at least. That's...good, I suppose." She replied, though that revelation did not seem terribly encouraging for her. "I guess it was probably too much for me to expect that any of this would really change anything for me. I do have my answers, at least. I know why it all happened, how it all happened. I don't have to keep guessing or worrying."




"I will make sure to remember that. But..." Ahnasha began, shifting uncomfortably. "...how much do you feel comfortable saying about who he used to be? As I was saying to Fendros earlier, the power I felt was not something I would associate with a hobbyist mage. I understand that you likely would feel it best to allow Rossarm to be the one to divulge his own history, but the Imperials or Thalmor will likely at least want to know of his qualifications. What do you think we should tell them?"
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There was no expression of triumph in Janius either. He stood still with nothing else to say. He stepped up to the tree and sat himself down heavily beside Kaleeth, staring ahead.

It wasn't long before he brought his arm around Kaleeth's shoulders and just held her for a while.

Even with all the mixed feelings the revelation brought, the comfort they had with each other had not changed.

After an uncounted time passed -- a period that felt like a few minutes but could have been more -- the feeling of helplessness frustrated Janius' mind. He breathed in and spoke softly. "I'm sorry, Kaleeth. I...didn't expect this to be easy, but-" He blinked and looked down. "I'm sorry."



Calia raised her chin and looked away for a moment. "Tell them to interview him. And ask any questions they wish. He knows how to conduct himself around officials. I think they will know best what they wish to ask."

"Mother," Fendros hesitated. "We need to get these people on board before they meet him. Is there any one thing we could use?"

For another moment, Calia closed her eyes. Her mouth twitched. "There is one spell they may be familiar with. It is not a common spell. In fact, few in the world even know how it works. Rossarm has explained it to me before -- he is one of the few who learned it." She opened her eyes. "It is the spell of Equilibrium. A dangerous alteration that siphon's one's own life force into magicka. Mentioning that may grant him the step of credibility required to enter your plans."
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With Janius beside her, Kaleeth allowed her body and mind to relax more and more. Not everything that the Hist had revealed to her had been comforting for her, but at least he could be. She eventually ended up laying back, resting her head on his chest and just listening to every beat of his heart. "It's okay, I just...it is what I wanted I guess. To have answers, that is. I guess all there is left is for me to go live out the destiny the Hist chose for me. At least we'll have each other. Hopefully we don't die in the invasion."




"Okay. I...suppose we have our plan, then. Let's just hope that he is in a good mood tomorrow." Ahnasha replied. She had never heard of the technique that Calia described, but it hardly seemed farfetched to her. Not only had she witnessed far more spectacular displays of magic, but she was intimately familiar with the life essence of living beings, and particularly how they bound the soul to the body.

Ahnasha turned her head towards the door. "I...suppose we should return to my family. I honestly have no idea how I'm going to explain everything that happened to them, once they start getting calmed down enough to start asking questions."
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Janius allowed himself a small smile. "At least the Hist had the courtesy not to tell us whether that would happen. Let's do our best not to fall. Even if we're sacrifices, we have Kaj-Julan as well."

It was nothing they did not already know.

After a moment, Janius' tone grew lighter. "Did your mother say anything about me? Am I still low in her regards?"



"We'll come up with something," Fendros said.

Calia, though noticeably relaxing now that their talk was drawing to a close, remained slightly unconvinced. "I shall not interfere with whatever you decide to do regarding your family. They are pleasant company, Ahnasha. I am glad to have finally met them." She briefly pursed her lips. "Take it from one who grew up with idols of Mephala. The best webs are the ones that require the fewest threads..."

"...If you catch a fly without a web, you've weaved better than any." Fendros finished for her. "I fear we may have a few too many threads already, but we shall make do."

Calia and Fendros began standing up.
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Kaleeth shook her head. "She didn't say anything, but...I don't think that really matters anymore. Petty things like that don't really carry over after death, I don't think. Especially now that she understands the reasons for everything." She answered, after which she simply closed her eyes and allowed herself to relax.




Just as planned, Ahnasha and Fendros informed Meesei of their intentions as soon as they met up with her the next day. She did take some slight convincing that Rossarm would even be worth the trouble, but for the most part, she trusted both Fendros and Ahnasha's judgement. As such, she had wasted no time in returning to Blackreach to have Marod write up the writ Calia requested, then brought him back with them in case the personal presence of a Penitus Oculatus agent was needed. If all went to plan, none of them would be talking to Rossarm before he had agreed to help, but both Ahnasha and Meesei wanted to be prepared regardless.

All four of them were waiting in the inn for Calia to arrive. There was at least some good luck for Ahnasha in that her family had all gone back to the castle that morning for another meeting with the Count's steward, so she had, thusfar, managed to avoid any difficult conversations with her family. Though, she knew one would be coming up sooner or later. For now, it would be up to Calia to take the writ to Rossarm and convince him to help, assuming she still intended to follow through with the plan.




It had been calm in the scholar's loft for much of the day, aside from a few, colorful curses from Marcaiile venting her frustration. She was not usually one to be so emotional, but neither again was it common for her to have such consistent failures as she had been having the past few weeks. She had taken up study into the mysterious ore known as Aetherium that could be found all over Blackreach, but no amount of effort or creativity on her part had produced even a hint of results that would allude to the supposed power the Dwemer texts claimed it held. Needless to say, they were no closer to understanding it than they had been for years.

For Sabine, that routine would be broken when Saras came through the door into her work area, with one of the Dwemer scholars in tow. As was usual for the Dunmer when he was working, he wasted no time in getting straight to the point. "Miss Montgrave, there is an urgent matter which requires your immediate attention. It involves the vampire, Hal-Neesa. She is demanding to see the Champion right away, but as both Meesei and Mr. Avarul are currently away from Blackreach, you are currently the highest ranking lycan in the clan."
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The wait at the inn lasted longer than anyone present would have preferred. Fendros, Ahnasha, and Rhazii were tense enough as it was, though even Marod showed hints of restlessness after a while. Upon being asked, Marod merely put his demeanour onto how busy he has been, preferring that he had brought some work with him. He continued into striking up small talk, which Fendros did not appreciate. The way Marod spoke always seemed as though he was robbing you of all your secrets with every twitch or hesitation in his presence. He even tried underhandedly suggesting to Rhazii that he might have a place in the Imperial legion. At that point, Fendros lost his patience and firmly silenced them both, silencing everyone else in the process. Rhazii soon after stepped outside to find a space to perform his sword drills on his own.

Each time the door opened from the outside, everyone's heads would turn. There were few enough patrons and staff, but more than a few disappointments. They were considering ordering lunch by the time the door opened to reveal two familiar Dunmer.

The first to step into view was Calia. She wore the same clothing as she had to pick up the writ -- a modest dress and a silver bracelet. Behind her was the dour visage of Rossarm, who wore an entirely different garment to anything any of them had seen him in. It was a robe of sorts, made with lightweight purple-dyed fabric, covering hints of what appeared to be some kind of sturdy-looking and subtly decorated leather armour. He also carried a small knapsack over his shoulder.

Fendros stood up carefully. He and Rossarm met eyes and lingered in their stare, both their faces stern and ready to act. Calia took steps towards the group and clasped her hands. Rossarm followed along. They stood side by side, Rossarm scanning his eyes judgementally over each person present.

Calia cleared her throat. Rossarm did not speak first.



Sabine had been instructing a few other alchemists in working with difficult ingredients at the time Saras made his entrance. Marcaille's language was disruptive to the extend that Sabine did not carry a particularly strong voice to speak over her, but Sabine had been used to the seniority of her rank and skill for some time now.

She looked up from her evaporating glass with curiosity, glancing over Saras' shoulder at the scholar he brought with him. Her eyes took on a little worry at the mention of Hal-Neesa.

"I see," she said to him. "Um...I'll come with you. Zara, would you show everyone the rest?" Sabine pinched her own fingers and started on a walk out with Saras. She continued when they were on the move, away from spying ears. "Did she say why she wants to see Meesei?"
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