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Morning, 10th of Last Seed 4E 205
Arkay Temple, Jehanna

Stifling a yawn behind a hand, Redguard mage caught a whiff of particularly strong incense and nearly sneezed. Waving her hand about for a seconds before loudly sneezing. Others around her shushed her, the High Priest continued uninterrupted with the rites, professional. Maj looked down upon the bodies of former members of the company. Those that were previously burned had their faces covered with cloth, sparing those from having to see the gruesome sight. Their bodies prepared by expert hands but as far as the former-corsair thought was an outrageous waste of good salt.

She turned her lip up at the idea of being buried, her father adamant on how he wanted his body to be treated after death - drumming up a deep seated fear of necromancy early on for his children. Maj fully recognized as a school of magic - conjuration flirted with necromancy and its history was rooted in breathing artificial life into the dead. The thought of being raised by some half-cocked necromancer sent shivers down Maj’s spine. She hoped to be so lucky to have a choice in her death, it was never a worry sailing with the Scarlet Harpy everyone had funeral arrangements decided before boarding. Grim but necessary to pay proper respects to any one crew member.

Arguably their bodies would be safely buried in the Temple of Arkay, after hearing stories if Windhelm being sacked by the Kamals. Places of worship mattered as much as the brothel. It was foolish to believe a graveyard wouldn’t be used against the local population. She rubbed her arms a chill settling into her.

When the reading rites were complete, she bowed her head respectfully. Others were clearly far more upset at the loss than she was, she made for a quick exit not without clapping Gustav on the back. A sobering sight of Wylendriel praying for the dead, after a few days of rest the priestess was on her feet busy tending to the injured as soon as she was able. Maj glanced away. Miss Fontaine tugged on her arm passing a bag of gold and a lengthy list of errands to run on her behalf. Whispering instructions. Carefully rolling the list up and pocketing the gold she retreated. Outside the temple she breathed a hefty sigh, taking a quick sip from her wine skin she shuffled to the side pouring a little out.

“Hard-lee knew Ye.” She rhymed off, capping it off before heading into the city to shop.

Streets of Jehanna, Noon

Maj hefted a heavy sack over her shoulder, one of the several ‘ingredients’ Ariane requested struggling in vain at the bottom of the sack, a small foot occasionally kicking out against her shoulder. In her other hand she held a basket overflowing with various herbs, flowers, jars filled with a mysterious pitch liquid. Some relatively normal items like sprigs of rosemary and bushel of mint nestled among the strange. Wrapped in paper was a small bouquet of columbine flowers pastel blue and yellow petals it’s bloom in the shape of a trumpet. Those she bought for the injured but she hoped Wylendriel would notice as well, she may not have cared for the dead but the ones alive still mattered.

Maj learned over the course of their short trip to Jehanna that Ariane, much like other mysticism mages - no matter their outward appearance (well made up as she was) they were the very definition of eccentric. It was great fun to conduct experiments with the highborn mage, discovering the note from Tmeip’r wrote, what banquet did they refer to? What in the fresh plane of oblivion was a mix tape? The Sload used a bizarre language.

In her free hand she held the list, scanning down it. She entered into one of the local inns - the Dirty Golem, the instructions mentioning the cook there used a specialized spice unique to him and his dishes. Outside the inn was a Tamrielic Gazette stand selling the latest news. Inside she walked under an arc of stone-faced gargoyles, carved eyes staring intensely at every patron passing under them. The atmosphere was dreary, long black table cloths, the signature Jehanna red lamps cast an eerie glow mixing generously with natural light. Polished candelabra sat, unlit, center of the tables in a wreath of nightshade, dark heavy curtains open over the windows. Maj looked quite out of place strolling in.

Moving with purpose, she went straight up to the counter plopping none-too-gently her sack to the ground. The sack resident squeaked an exotic whistle in protest. Maj frowned then returned her attention to the inn keep. A tall pale green orc with small tusks, expertly applied swipes of eyeliner and a bold red lip, she wore a elaborate black silken dress with a low cut frock, she regarded Maj and her assorted shopping basket. “Good afternoon madam, my name is Shara welcome to the Dirty Golem. Wow can I be of service?” Probably the friendliest aspect about the establishment.

She brought out the list, reading the next set of instructions. Ariane warned that this ingredient was entirely secret, few knew of it’s existence and it’s special qualities. Maj gestured for the orc to move closer to whisper.

Brow furrowed she leaned forward, “Better not waste my time, mage.”

Maj whispered, “I’m here for the Miracle Spice. I’ve been trusted with the code.”

The orc’s eyes narrowed, immediately suspicious. “Get it wrong and you’re dead meat.”

Maj nodded, about to speak when she was interrupted by a long howling shriek followed by heavy thuds above their heads. Shara hardly batted an eye, Maj clamped her hands over her ears looking to the stairs. “Son of a fucking knave! What was that?”

She shrugged, “My guess being a banshee experiment. You know how it is, mage.” The thudding continued for a few more stomps before ceasing completely.

Her imagination ran wild.

Recomposing herself she recalled the instructions warning of how they cautiously guarded their secret. She whispered, “Alright here goes.” Taking a deep breath in she recited the password, “Septim edible centaur regretted echoing truth, spriggan astutely useful centered earring. Oh and this,” She quickly angled her arms away from her dipping her head into her right elbow. She straightened, Shara watched then huffed through her nose.

“Okay. One moment.” She disappeared from the front counter walking down to the cellar, carefully hiking the hem of her skirt. Maj glanced around seats were empty, she guessed their regular patrons were sleeping the day away.

Shara returned, in a concealed velvet case she slid it across the counter. “Two servings with kind regards from the Chef. Please, enjoy.”

Maj eyed the trunk pawing it off the counter to nestle it into her basket, “Thanks.”

She quickly exited slowing to a stop at the Gazette stand. She dropped her own septims into the open palm of the seller, taking a copy. Unfurling the paper her eyes scanned across the headlines, taking a break on the benches - noting the green ivy draped over the walls, local flowering bushes nearby, trimmed with care. The city felt manicured in that sense. The political atmosphere of High Rock was always changing. Being back on dry land she was once again in direct proximity to the gossip and news. Opening the paper she read through it properly.

The headlining story for Morrowind caught her eye reading through of the news, the ashen Dunmer siblings. Their entire family was executed as traitors. She sat back taking a moment, she sucked the edge of her scarred lip biting it in thought. Resolving to keep her distance from the pair of them, there’s no telling how they’d take the news. She flipped the page finally to High Rock, her eyes drifted leisurely, a frown formed with the furrow of her brows, her grip tightened on the paper as she read the devastating news. She stood up slapping the paper to the bench, “Fuck!

The Republic! Her contacts, allies, it was all gone! She slumped to the bench cradling her head in her hands, without a bid for a proper crew from the Republic she was going to be forced to start from scratch. That was assuming she could find where Nephelle or Captain Sette were hauled off to. Were they in Summerset? Did they get sold off to High Rock or Hammerfell? Were they hung for their crimes?

Maj dragged her hands down her face cupping her chin in her fists, eyes closed - thinking, her leg bounced. The Corsair Republic was a constant for nearly sixteen years, it’s grip on the Iliac Bay unshakable. Red-Blood Nate had been skirmishing with the Republic for years, searching for weak points, building a quiet rebellion in Wayrest. She snatched the paper back up reading to the end of the story. The Banquet, the very same Tmeip’r referred to in his decoded message.

She folded the paper back up tucking it into the basket, angry - wrestling with intensifying hopelessness. Her resources drying up in a few passages. What was there to do? The only option for revenge was allowing the attack to happen with no warning, even as the self destructive thought crossed her mind she couldn’t find refuge in Wayrest now, she knew her father would drag her out the streets again to be hanged for her piracy. She headed to drop off her haul, the creature in the sack quieted, whimpering.

“Yeah... I know.”
This looks like a rockin idea. Unfortunately I do not have time to join in the fun but I really hope you see some traction.
Right now Charlie and Maddi are ready for moving on whenever you guys are. They’re in the basw ready to be bamboozled or slip outta sight. My collabo with Hound has been quiet since he’s busy.
@GCOLD I would think Maj would like her to be buried at sea.

It was clear immediately where Sevine’s attention pulled while the conjurer’s was elsewhere. Getting clear of the spectacular wreckage that was formerly The Golden Slug raining down around them, Maj ducked among the prone corpses of the dreughs her head popping up after the swift rush of air of chains breaking free whipped by. The ship rocked from force to Maj's luck she steadied herself against the dreugh body and the railing final great waves splashing across the deck and taking unlucky few with it into the water. Some recovered far more quickly than others, Sevine namely quick to jump to her lover's aid.

Maj looked to Sevine next pausing at the edge of the deck, she reached out. “Hold on-!”

Sevine dived in, Maj made a dash for the starboard side eyes peered into the water for the eventual resurfacing of the Nord. She relaxed feeling a chill come over her at the deep waters, unaware of it’s sudden grip. Strapped to the side of the Kyne’s Tear was the rowboats. Securely fastened, surviving the attack. She would need another pair of hands to lower it into the water to rescue others. Bodies bobbed close by, time was of the essence.

She joined her voice to the other sailors, “Man overboard! Starboard side!”

“Port side!”

Other calls shouted out.

Maj scanned behind her seeing the Bosmer priestess finding her composure after managing to stay aboard the ship.

She stepped around bodies, minding the dead. Others were clearly preoccupied pairing up - executing their own rescue operations. Wylendriel was on her feet, to Maj she counted as able bodied as anyone unaware of the injuries she suffered before.

“Priestess, Wylendriel! I need your hands, we’re going to lower a boat into the water!” Maj shouted making her way over. “I can’t do it alone.”

The priestess’ head whipped around to look the mage with wild eyes, panting with deep, heavy breaths. Only moments ago she had dropped her arms from exhaustion after particularly intense restoration magic, which in turn was only moments after she was nearly burned alive. Her robes were in tatters, and the stinging cold rain slightly soothed the subtle burn scarring which had remained on her back. What remained of the black wool top underneath was likely the only thing protecting her modesty. Her eyes darted side to side on the boat as she was still trying to process what was happening. Ashna’s screams were still playing on repeat in her head. People were diving off of the ship. One was the huntress, Sevine. One of the argonians was helping too - not Tsleeixth. Unexpectedly, the older khajiit had also dived off the ship. Overwhelmed, it was only now that Maj’s words began to reach her. She nodded and looked to her hands.

Gods, she felt exhausted. Her magicka was drained too. She had maybe one spell left in her. A small one. She summoned what was left of her magicka to fortify her stamina - a faint, weak glow traveled up the veins in her wrist and she took a deep breath, giving herself a moment to let it course through her body. It wasn’t much, but it should be enough to keep her moving for now.

Wy looked back at Maj. She still had a job to do - she still had people relying on her. Her voice was shaking somewhat, but determined. “Lead the way… show me what to do.”

Maj nodded tracking back to the rowboats getting to work on the knots. Loosening the rope she tugged roughly, the rowboat shifted on one side. “Wylendriel, hold this rope while I undo the otherside and prepare it.” The bosmer priestess looked in far worse shape up close than Maj originally assumed. A twinge of guilt because she asked for her help when she looked ready to collapse into a bed. Emergencies happened when you were least prepared. Maj decided there would be time to make it up to her later.

To her credit, the priestess didn’t hesitate in following Maj’s direction. When she had a good grip, Maj went to the other side and repeated the process. The rowboat came loose, the last bit of rope Maj unknotted righted the boat right side up ready to be lowered into the water.

“On my count! We’ll lower ‘er into the water, steady now.” Maj said holding firm.

“Understood!” Wy rasped.

Together they slowly let the boat down, Maj kept an eye on the boat and on Wylendriel, worried she might lose her grip but she held. When the boat cradled into the water, Sevine and the older khajiit were swimming back to the ship with Do’Karth in hand. Dar’Jzo helped her carry her companion as he climbed onto the rowboat, grabbing Do’Karth by the scruff of his neck and haphazardly dropping him on one end before helping Sevine climb on top as well. The waves of the post-storm ocean were battering those who fell overboard and jumped in voluntarily, perhaps so much that they didn’t notice the splashing just beside the ship. Though the dark waters hid who it was, a minor break in the cloud cover casted just enough moonlight for Wy to catch a glimpse of a familiar dunmer face from her bird’s eye view.

“Niernen!” She cried. She looked to Maj in a look of panic, and back towards the mage who was struggling to stay afloat with her disability. Another wave washed over her, slamming her against the hull of the Tear, and suddenly the splashing had stopped. Without a second thought, Wy began tearing her way out of her tattered robes. The tangled mess of burnt and shredded wool and leather gave way to a Bosmer woman mostly bare aside from the tight black undergarments covering her torso and upper thighs as she started to climb atop the railing.

Maj snapped, “Are you crazy-!” She quickly stepped between Wylendriel and the railing, arms out. Behind her she yelled, “Someone grab Niernen! We’ll keep the boat steady!” She turned to Wy, brow furrowed. “Adrenaline and a quick stamina spell isn’t going to last long enough for you to grab Niernen and swim back. Think! That icy water’ll sap you of any strength you have!”

Though Wylendriel pushed against Maj at first, it was long after meeting resistance that she felt her energy beginning to fade out. Her arms weakly reached out to where she last saw Niernen sink beneath the water’s surface, barely enough strength to keep it up as her wide-eyed stare darted between there and the rowboat they dropped. The older khajiit seemed to have heard Maj call out for Niernen to be saved and jumped into the water once again with a dagger in one hand and a length of rope in the other with Sevine on the other end. Maj’s words were beginning to reach her. She was right about not lasting a second in that water. Still, she was fearful. What if they had failed? Her panting fell into a long sigh as she helplessly leaned into Maj and buried her face into her shoulder. At this point, she felt like nothing more than dead weight.

“She’ll be fine, we’ve got a pair of able bodied swimmers put to task.” Maj gently pat Wy’s shoulder, attempting some reassurance. Her eyes shifted down, the long terrible scars visible across her body and back. It set Maj’s imagination ablaze, what could have done this? How in Oblivion did she survive? Most importantly, did she even want to know the details? Everyone had their scars to display or hide away.

The tattoo however drew her eye, the strong lines depicting Kynareth’s wings clearly marked genuinely of her priesthood. Reminding her of her mother’s own tattoos. Maj averted her eyes, feeling as if she were invading Wy’s privacy. She checked the waters again, Sevine helped Niernen into the boat followed by Dar’Jzo pulling himself in. They were ready to come back up.

“Wylendriel, they’re ready to return to the deck. One last push and then we can rest.” She said quietly, green eyes looking anywhere else.

There was an audible sigh of relief and the tension in the Bosmer’s body seemed to have relaxed a bit before she stepped away from Maj. There was a bit of stagger in her step, but she squeezed her hands into fists and kicked her heels into the deck as a sort of way to summon her strength back. She took a deep breath, as she did in her exercises many times before. Her eyes fell back on Maj and she nodded, before locking her eyes on the rope. Perhaps it was out of habit, since she had just spoken high sacrilege only minutes ago, but part of her feared speaking in case the breath she was holding would escape her.

Maj nodded returning to her side, grasping the ropes again - Wylendriel did the same, leaping up and using her weight to do most of the work for her, taking in new breaths as she did. Together they pulled the boat back up, below Sevine and Dar’Jzo did the same - the full weight on neither party. The injured were carried safely aboard and rushed away to warm cabins. Maj watched them go, feeling the adrenaline beginning to edge away lack of a proper sleep catching up with her. She ran an eye down Wylendriel, the sag in her shoulders and deeply drawn bags under her eyes told the conjurer she could always be worse off. A healer in need of a healer was a sad sight.

“Go on, Priestess. You’re done out here for today.” Maj said scooping up her clothing and passing the mess of robes back to her. “Thank you for your help, your healing spell was masterfully well timed for those who will live to see another day.” The apparent waterlogged cadavers punctuating her point.

“My name is Maj, Maj Noor by the by.”

“Wylendriel Greensky.” She answered. Ashna’s screams still echoed in her head. “Thank you, I… I ah… well, thank you. I regret that I couldn’t do more.”

Wy’s eyes followed after the old khajiit and Sevine who hurried the bodies of Niernen and Do’Karth into the cabins. She turned back to Maj and said, “I beg your pardon… I have to go. Thank you again.”

Maj watched her go next crossing her arms, inevitably her eyes settled on her retreating back. Warriors rarely had scars as bad. Survivors, however often did. Lucky as the remaining crew was to survive the encounter with the Golden Slug. She quickly summoned a familiar, appearing as a goblin shade she gave it commands to start pulling bodies free of debris, shiny small specks of gold glittered across the deck as she moved. The familiar was nearly distracted by it, she slapped it’s hands away as she scooped up the bit of gold. Hiring a crew was an expensive endeavour, every little bit helped. Even as she came across mangled bodies, the distinct image of Wylendriel radiating light burned into her mind’s eye.

With the messy bundle of torn-up, wet fabric in arms, Wylendriel shuffled her way after Niernen and her rescuers. The dimly lit interior made it hard to see, but they were lined up next to the other injured. Sevine was wet and shivering, yet remained fussy over the condition of Do’Karth. The older khajiit was already bundled up in a wool coat and his cold fur was already shaken and bristled, evidently very unhappy with his current condition.

“If you cannot help the cub, then you should get warm.” He told her

“I’m not leaving his side, I’m fine.” Sevine protested.

The khajiit answered with a sharp exhale through his nose. Then his cold eyes fell on Wylendriel.

“Dar’Jzo hates water. Especially cold water.”

“That’s surprising for such a strong swimmer.” Wy commented.

“Mm... regretfully this one was already wet from the rain. Look to the darkskin and the cub. This one and the fussy one knows not how to revive them properly.

The priestess sighed heavily, dropping the wet bundle of clothes and staggered over to Niernen and straddled the dunmer woman’s waist. The Bosmer gave a tired look over towards Sevine and told her, “Do as I do and he will be fine, okay?”

She held her hand flat against Niernen’s sternum and placed her other hand over it and began a series chest compressions. After a few moments, she tilted back Niernen’s head and listened for any signs of breath. When there weren’t anything, she pinched her nose shut and breathed air into the Dunmer’s lungs. Almost immediately she began spitting up water and rolled on her side. It wasn’t long until Sevine’s procedure revived Do’Karth as well. However, they were also immersed in the ice cold ocean and took in a lot of water. Their response was a short lived relief, as they quickly fell back into unconsciousness. Still, they were breathing now.

Sevine was far beyond exhausted from her time spent in the water, but Do’Karth was alive and that was all that mattered to her. She held him close, her fingers smoothing the fur on his face into place.

The priestess got off of her and sat beside Niernen as she slept. There was bruising and abrasions along the side of her head where she was knocked against the side of the ship. Wy winced as the scene replayed itself on her head. Maybe she could do something for her. Maybe she had enough magicka left to help her.

Wy reached out and set her hand on Niernen’s head and tried to perform one more healing spell. A light faintly flickered around her hand -- which then immediately whipped back in front of her mouth as her chest heaved in a massive coughing fit. The cabin around her started spinning, Dar’Jzo’s and Sevine’s voices were faint in her ears. She tried to look at her hand. It seemed like there was four of them phasing in and out of each other, but she caught a glimpse of blood staining the palm of her hand. The weight of her eyelids were becoming too much.

It wasn’t peaceful, but she eventually allowed herself to drift asleep.
Morning - Sunrise, 31st of Second Seed, 4E208
Gilane, Hammerfell

@Father Hank, @MacabreFox, @Stormflyx, @Dervish

Sunlight slivered through a pair of heavy set curtains leading a line of light down the space between the beds. The first to stir was the red scaled argonian, Judena. She sat up pushing up against the soft bed digging the heel of her hand at the dry grit in her eyes. She squinted around a hand automatically patting, searching for her logbook. She counted the sleeping forms of Daro’Vasora, Rhona and.... Orc. There was an orc. The air was dry and they weren’t out in the open, confusion swept over her as it always did every morning.

She blinked then looked down at her pages leaning to the light to read, no mention of orcs or new people joining as of her last log. A light hiss she leaned over grasping for her spear, using it to pull herself up out of the bed muscles stretching out. She trudged over to the respective bed and space of the unknown new member then proceeded to lightly poked her shoulder with the butt of it.

Mazrah nearly jumped out of her skin the very second that Judena’s spear touched her and she shot up straight, eyes wide, throwing her hands up in a defensive posture, ready to fight for her life. Sleeping out in the wilderness as often as she did meant that she had to be ready to rumble every hour of every day.

“I do not care how you found yourself in here but strangers are not welcome. Please leave, now.” Judena rumbled, her ‘beard’ inflating with irritation. “Go on.”

Remembering where she was and what she’d done the night before, Mazrah breathed out slowly and dropped her hands. “Hey, lizard lady,” Mazrah hissed, trying to keep her voice down. “I came with the Khajiit, alright? The one over there.” She pointed to the sleeping form of the treasure hunter. “Daro’Vasora. We beat up some Redguard asshole that groped one of my friends and she helped me escape the guards. Then she told me about you people and that you could use someone like me.” Mazrah took another deep breath and exhaled. “Don’t touch me again when I’m sleeping, okay? Next time you might be dead before I wake up properly.”

“My name is Judena Callisar. I do not rightfully like seeing strangers here, Rhea would not have allowed you to simply waltz in here in the middle of the night and Daro’Vasora should not have assumed others here would be as welcoming as she.” She replied, not appreciating the mild death threat. She looked to Daro’Vasora stalking over poking her next.

“Daro’Vasora, wake up. Where is Rhea? Rhea would not have let a stranger inside our sleeping quarters in the middle of the night. We are sorting this out right now. Wake up.” Judena kneeled down shaking her shoulder. “What were you thinking?”

“I’m awake, I just don’t care.” Daro’Vasora replied, half-truthfully. She opened a singular eye to glance back at Judena, and then Mazrah. She sighed, sitting up in the bed, pulling her knees up with her arms. “You should check your journals when you have a moment, but Rhea didn’t make it, Judena. It’s been over a week, and we are no longer in Anvil.” the Khajiit replied, glancing back to the Orc. “I was thinking we needed allies and she need a place to stay, and waking you lot up in the middle of the night invites daggers to the gut, so I elected to follow the philosophy of begging for forgiveness opposed to asking for permission.”

Getting up from the bed, and still dressed as she was the night before, Daro’Vasora found a pitcher of water, and relieved, found it still had some in the container before pouring herself a goblet. “And for the record? Rhea literally picked a few of the people in our group along the way. Rhona, Calen, Gregor, all of them? She wasn’t the kind of person to think things through, but she had a good heart. You’re going to fault me for doing the same?” she asked, drinking back the goblet in a single go.

Mazrah watched the exchange between Judena and Daro’Vasora with growing confusion. Orsimer seldom lived long enough to experience dementia and their skulls were so thick that brain injuries were rare. She’d never seen someone with memory loss like this. Nor did she know who Rhea was.

“My name is Mazrah gra-Durash. I’m friendly, I swear,” she interjected, looking at Judena while she talked. “Don’t be mad.”

Judena backed away from Daro’Vasora, her ‘beard’ deflated shriveling back against her neck. She looked between the pair, dropping her spear. “A-A week? I-I did not read past the last log, I am - a thousand apologies Mazrah gra-Durash. I am very embarrassed for this.” She went back to her bed groping for her logbook, slight panic clear in her expression.

Pressing the heel of her hand to her head, reading the day count since Rhea’s death on the previous page. She read back further on what happened, her notes dwindled in severity but the first day after had a few pages of detailed feelings.

“I am not mad. I spoke without thought nor proper consultation. I need time after I first wake to get the need-to-know events read. I truly did not remember her death.” She said quietly, “Apologies, again.”

Now Mazrah understood. She’d sat up straight while the Khajiit and the Argonian talked, resting her elbows on her knees, and she looked at Judena with pity. “Don’t worry about it,” she said quietly. The way Judena leafed through her journal to find her notes on the death of her friend, or at least comrade… it was one the saddest things Mazrah had ever seen.

Daro’Vasora didn’t react, at least not visibly. She knew that Judena didn’t need to be pitied for what she endured, but needed to be respected for what she could do. It required patience and thought, but the Argonian was a capable woman and someone who preserved despite being held back in such a tragic way. Still, it made the Khajiit’s heart ache to have to go through this routine every day for the past week where Judena would have to relearn the news of Rhea’s death; it never got easier for Judena, it seemed, and the worst part was there was nothing anyone could to do ease the impact.

“It’s okay, Judena. I would have told you and the others sooner, but it was a rather spontaneous choice. To me, this fancy palace of a hotel is only a better smelling and providing version of the refugee camp. This space isn’t really ours, it’s borrowed, and we have a job to do if we wish to keep staying here.” Daro’Vasora explained, pulling the curtains more to the side to allow a better view at the city below. Topping up the goblet again, she stepped out onto the balcony, sitting on the edge of the stone railing as she looked back inside. “I would not have invited Mazrah back if I suspected for a moment she had any ounce of deception or ill-intent within her. We need people who can do things that we cannot, and I don’t know about you, but I am not exactly the most physically robust of people. There’s going to be a fight or two in the days ahead, and I’d rather we have someone better at it than they do.”

Judena slowly nodded, reading quickly. “Hammerfell that is why the air is so dry, the city is occupied by the Dwemer. They have their own government, even brought families with them.” Gold eyes filling now with curiosity. “Mazrah,” She penned a new line in the next day writing her name. “You look very strong.”

Making a light joke, hoping to move on from her blunder, “Robust may be an understatement, my friend.” She said to Daro’Vasora, hissing out a chuckle.

She stood from her bed, hand out now, “I am an alteration mage and historical item appraiser. Thank you for your patience.”

Mazrah also got to her feet and noticed, much to her amazement, that Judena matched her own height. She grinned and shook the Argonian’s hand. “Thank you, Judena. I’m a hunter and a warrior from Orsinium. A mage, eh? I haven’t met a lot of mages before. Some of the Wise Women know magic, but not much, and you know what the Redguards are like when it comes to magic. What can you do?” she asked, curious.

Judena smiled finally, genuinely, “I would love to discuss over breakfast, I am quite the fisher as well.” She looked around once again eyes tracking to the bedding and decorations, “This is a far more posh establishment than what we are used to sleeping in I believe.” She whispered loudly to Sora. “Are we getting paid or paid with food and board…?” She shook her head. “I will continue reading, I will find out.”

“Where is Raelynn? She seems to be missing from her bed.”

The moment that the Argonian asked her question, was the moment that the Breton walked in. “I am here,” she said abruptly, eyes immediately on the Orsimer newcomer. “The curfew… I had to stay with my father last night.” She could barely concentrate on what she was saying to Judena, she was too busy gawking at the Orsimer - who had seemed to make herself at home already. Typical! was her first thought. Suddenly she didn't feel like sticking around much longer. She sauntered to her lockbox and plucked out her journal, a quill, ink, and an apple which she tossed gently over to Judena. “If you ladies don't mind, I must do some writing.” Truthfully she didn't give a shit what they thought, and as she left out the balcony door - she gave an annoyed sigh and closed it behind her.

Seeing Raelynn return and pout her way towards the balcony, Daro’Vasora headed back inside, offering the Breton a knowing wink as she passed and the door shut behind her. Looking to Judena, she shrugged. “I don’t know if compensation is even on the table, it’s some ideological thing. That said, we have a roof over our heads. Hopefully they elect to feed us, too.”

“Good morning, Raelynn!” Judena waved as she walked by, watching her flee to the balcony. She really did value her privacy! She shined the apple against her sleeve.

Rhona stirred instantly, somehow she had managed to sleep through the chat for the most part until Jude bid Raelynn good morning. She opened her eyes, and found herself staring at Judena, Daro’Vasora and a… impressive Orsimer woman. Rhona rubbed at her eyes, and sat up with a groan, she didn’t want to wake up just yet. Her eyes were red from sleep, look a bit disoriented and confused even.

Mazrah looked at Rhona with a small frown as the Breton woman slowly woke up. She wouldn’t appreciate another admonishment and hoped that Judena hadn’t started a trend with the way she’d woken up. It would be nice if people could just be welcoming. Fortunately, it looked like Rhona was more confused and groggy than anything else, and Mazrah put on the most affable smile she could muster. “Good morning,” she said. “I’m Mazrah gra-Durash, a hunter and warrior from Orsinium. Daro’Vasora brought me here last night after she helped me beat up a Redguard man that molested one of my friends. What’s your name?”

Rhona’s brows furrowed at the newcomer, she identified herself and offered a seemingly wild explanation on why she was there, she didn’t question it.

“Good morning, uh… Mazrah.” She slowed herself to make sure she pronounced her name to the best of her ability, “Rhona. I’m Rhona.” She slipped out of bed and moved to the water pitcher on her nightstand, where she poured herself a glass of water. She downed the tankard in one go before she returned her bed, taking a seat on the edge.

“‘Beat up’ seems like such an inelegant way of saying we broke a few bones.” The Khajiit shrugged, lazily slumping down on her bed, adjusting the pillows so she could lean up against the wall. “Rhona is much more proficient at that sort of thing.” She mused, glancing over at the mousy woman.

Her brows raised at Daro’Vasora’s mention, “I… did what I had to do.” She said, casting her eyes down to the floor.

“Personally, I’m proud of you. From what I’ve picked up on the road since you joined us, the creep deserved it. You don’t strike me as the kind of girl who ripped wings off of butterflies for kicks as a kid, so going from ‘I don’t hurt people’ to turning some piece of shit into a tenderized piece of beef isn’t something that you seem like you’re used to. You’ve been haunted since you did that, so I can tell you aren’t used to this yet. Most of us had practice the past several years, it gets easier. You’ll probably have to do it again, just to let you know.” Daro’Vasora replied to Rhona, picking up her pack and rummaging through it.

Casting her gaze between Daro’Vasora and Rhona as they talked, she grew increasingly more curious about what the two were discussing -- it sounded like Rhona had taught a lesson to a creep of her own. In total disregard (and, truthfully, ignorance) of social decorum, Mazrah spoke up. “What are you girls talking about? What did you do, Rhona?”

She lifted her gaze, meeting the Orc woman’s golden eyes, “I… killed my husband.”

Tilting her head and putting one hand on her hip, Mazrah looked at Rhona in a new light, her eyes twinkling with… what, exactly? Admiration? Approval? “Did you? Based on what our furry friend said, I assume he got it coming.” She smiled warmly. “Good job.”

“He was a worthless piece of shit. Alcoholic. Gambler. Abusive. I ran away from him two years ago. But he found me after all this time in Skingrad. He threatened someone I love, and I had to protect him. So I made a bloody mess of his face.” Rhona said through a terse sigh.

Even sat outside, on the balcony from behind the closed door, Raelynn could hear every word being spoken. Murder? Molesting? Disgusting topics of conversation to be having this early in the day. What were they thinking. Her lips curled into an unimpressed snarl and she sighed, heaving herself from the chair, hands slamming on the table. She burst through the door, her patience at its end. “Can you all please cease this horrendous din?” the words came out just loud enough for everyone to hear, “I can hear you from out there and it’s turning my stomach over…” She rolled her eyes, standing in the doorway, lips pursed. “Please,” she began again, a slight hint of exasperation in her voice, “we’re women and you all sound like drunkards in a tavern…”

“Are you saying that women can’t be drunkards in a tavern?” Daro’Vasora remarked with a smirk. “My, aren’t we entrenched in gender roles.” she said, pulling out her practice lock and a set of picks to keep her hands occupied as she glanced back towards the woman at the balcony.

Mazrah stared at Raelynn, incredulous at what she was hearing. She hadn’t encountered this level of snobbiness since her short trip to High Rock. Then again, looking Raelynn up and down, she saw that the woman was Breton through and through. Still, there were no excuses for behavior like this. “We’re having a moment here,” Mazrah said. “Please leave.”

She thought momentarily about engaging Daro’Vasora, but she realised that the Khajiit was just leaving bait for her to attack. It was too risky to test the Khajiit - not right now. Not after last night. The Orsimer, however, was fair game. “Leave my own room?” her eyes narrowed, and she let herself lean against the frame of the door. “Well, why don’t I just give you the clothes from my back too? It looks like you could use them.”

“I don’t fit in children’s clothes,” Mazrah said and smirked. She was used to comments about her outfit, as bare-skinned as she was, and she knew that the other races didn’t understand the pride she took in the tattoos and ritual scars she bore on her body. There was no point in trying to explain.

That prompted a muffled snurk of a choked laugh from the Khajiit before she regained her composure. “Technically, it isn’t our room, either. It’s a loan for doing the dirty work for some Redguard fellow. I didn’t pay for this room, did you? She’s here for the same cause we are, so she’s welcome here as far as I’m concerned.”

Raelynn clenched her jaw. Thinking of the ways she could bite back at both of them, but now wasn’t the time. “Well then, if it’s for the cause Daro’Vasora, I shall just disregard all of this talk of murder altogether. All I ask, is you keep it down. I have work that I wish to do, I’m sure we can keep each other content in this situation…” Behind her eyes were daggers, aimed at her Khajiit companion. She ignored the loutish Orsimer completely.

Daro’Vasora winked at Raelynn. “Well, better company than before you interrupted. You must have a lot of work about your story of a young butcher boy to put to parchment.”

Rhona wasn’t prepared for this much sass and spitfire so early in the morning, she raised her brows in surprise as her gaze shifted between Raelynn to Daro’Vasora and Mazrah. She didn’t even know what to say at this point, “Well, we have a meeting in half an hour. We should make ourselves proper, at least.”

Jude bit into her apple watching the conversation with a grin, meeting new people - especially after introductions was an experience she never tired of nor truly remembered. She considered the apple, fresh as this exchange. “Youth is so energetic first thing in the morning.”
Meanwhile Maj is all, @POOHEAD189

The Witch-Mother’s Charge

Compass Round
Part 3

Time: Evening - 10:00 PM - One Day After Satellite Attacks
Location: Cotting-Smith Assembly House – Salem, Massachusetts.

”Mab,” Marie concisely requested, looking to Odette for confirmation, who eagerly nodded her approval. ”The former Faerie Queene is of special interest to the Ambassador and I. Before I aid you in renewing your pact with Salem’s sacred Land, we’ll need everything you can give us on Mab and her involvement with Andover.”

“Very well,” Maryann conceded, visually pleased by the rather simple negotiation. “All it will take is time. I’ll look through our records and see what I can find. As I’m sure you’ve been told, I am also an heir to Mary Eastey, her several times great granddaughter and one of the only biological heirs to Salem’s former coven. If all else fails, I’ll conjure her spirit and gather her recollection of events. In the meantime . . .”

Maryann turned to her assembled witches.

“Victoria, ready the space on Gallows Hill. Form the compass as you’ve been taught, and scatter any would be viewers who might linger in the trees. We don’t need an audience.”

Victoria nodded, patting Marie’s shoulder before seeing to her duties elsewhere.

“Jordan,” Maryann continued, “gather the vessels and the braziers. And remember, it’s nine braziers, Jordan, not six.”

Jordan nodded, mumbling something under his breath that made Maryann playfully swat him as he passed her by.


“Have my familiars conjure the corners and collect the herbs,” Alexander interrupted, nodding as he left the room.

“It’s three parts foxglove to one part mugwort!” Maryann called after him, “we don’t want Jordan passing out again!”

Maryann shook her head, letting out a deep sigh.

“I swear, they never appreciate the work I do,” she smiled, turning back to Odette and Marie.

“While they prepare the ritual, I’ll away to the town’s library. All of our records are hidden among more mundane volumes, some are even on display. They’re all locked, of course, but they certainly lend an air of mysticism to the town’s atmosphere. Meet me there in an hour’s time. I should have everything you need by then. Talk amongst yourself, tour the town, whatever you please.”

Maryann sped off, heels clacking on the hardwood floor, echoing off the high walls of the ballroom.

Holt let down his ethereal cloak, floating about the room as a jet-black raven, the faint glow of ephemeral light lingering on his wings. He once again took to banners draped over historical displays, perhaps trying to place them. Were they familiar? He had once served a witch in New England not far from the trials in Andover; she was his master before Joseph Mathers, whom he served for nearly three centuries. Was it nostalgia that caught his eye, or grief?

Marie left her familiar to his own devices, taking a seat at the center table, pouring herself a glass of water. She was beginning to feel the wine she’d had both at dinner with her parents, and in her meeting of Salem’s finest. But it wasn’t the time to be caught in alcohol induced delirium. Marie needed to remain sharp.

”What are you hoping to gain from Maryann?” Marie posed the question to Odette, filling the silence that had come over them after the other witches’ departure. ”Seems like as close a link to Gwyneth as we’re likely to find, and I trust your judgement, but I’m betting you’re not interested in history alone.”

Odette relaxed into the chair eating more on her plate, standing up getting more fruit on her plate. “Anything really. I need clues, I need hints, last whereabouts - anything I can learn. You are right, history isn’t all that interests me.” Odette agreed, spearing a slice of kiwi. “While I am sure the connection to Mab is relevant for Gwyneth, other connections to her do not concern you, Marie. Rest assured knowing that Mab’s connection to Gwyneth is my priority.” She fluttered her hand at Marie, dismissing the question. Eating more fruit, breads and sipping on the wine. Unlike Marie, Odette’s tolerance for it was far higher. It was all fuel for her spells.

Take the moment to breathe and eat. We haven’t had a proper meal tonight, I am unsure what toll your witchcraft takes upon you but mine requires calories. I prefer the silence to eat and think.” She said texting with one hand and spearing a cherry tomato with the other.

”Fine,” Marie sighed, plating a handful of strawberries and a croissant that was strangely still warm, ”keep playing the mystery game for now. But if you won’t talk to me about Mab, what about you?”

Marie positioned herself directly across from Odette, moving a few of the serving trays so that her vision wasn’t obscured.

”I’ve had limited interaction with the supposedly famed Ambassador of the Fair Folk, yet I keep hearing about your numerous accomplishments from strange corners of the world. Who is she, the Ambassador? What’s her story? And before you try to dodge the question, you literally know my life’s story at this point, both of them. I think it’s only fair.”

Odette gave the witch a withering look, chewing through more vegetables. Bach shrugged behind her, refusing to comment. Odette knew how he felt about oversharing. In reality it was just sharing, period. She finished her text, placing her phone facing down. Marie wanted a resume, intentional or not attempt to open Odette up to list off her accomplishments - an appeal to her ego. “Everything you have heard of me is true. I earned the title of Ambassador of the Fair Folk a handful of years ago. I have connections in every seasonal court, I have favours and alliances built from the isolated fair folk that make their nests in nightmares to nobility that lounge upon beautiful thrones made of bones. I have treated with duchies of light, luck and chaos.

Leveling a curious gaze at Marie, resting her chin on the back of her hand. “I scrapped every ounce of my influence and power from scratch. As I’m sure you have no doubt noticed, I take great pride in my work. It has taken significant time, but-

Petit a petit, l’oiseau fait son nid.” She pinched her fingers around a cube of cheese. “Not to mention my own vestments outside of the needs and wants of the fair folk.

Vague still, Odette hoped this would give Marie plenty to think on and allow Odette back to her own thoughts and food.

Marie chuckled. She expected as much from Odette, always working an angle, keeping something hidden, wording her sentences just so. Marie was familiar with the practice of secrecy, of holding one’s tongue, it was a necessary part of her job at The Red Devil, and something she’d picked up from the fey who frequented.

”How about this then,” Marie responded, not letting silence settle for too long. ”immortality. That’s Gwyneth’s aim, or something vaguely similar. Have you thought about what might happen once I achieve my goal, assuming I still mean to? Were you offered the same opportunity when we last spoke?”

Odette sighed shortly through her nose. “Gwyneth clearly found some success in preserving her soul, if this entire quest is not the very definition of conditional immortality then,” She shrugged, dropping the cheese to the plate. “I would not be interested in it, our agreement was alliance in exchange for helping you regain your memories-” Odette slipped, intentionally pushing to blur the line further between Marie and Gwyneth. “I mean Gwyneth’s memories. Mutual immunity from the other, as you already know.

I believe…” She began slowly. “The more I learn of Gwyneth and yourself I believe she would be capable of crafting unconditional immortality for herself. I do not know the theory or ideas she has but I believe it is within her capacity.

”Myself,” Marie whispered in response, shaking her head to let loose any reservations. ”Myself,” she said louder, ”It is within my capacity, something I can craft for myself. There’s no longer any sense in trying to separate the two of us. I am Gwyneth, just short a few memories. Amnesia, essentially. So thank you for the vote of confidence, I appreciate it, but that’s not quite what I asked.”

Odette counted a point in her favour at that.

Marie leaned in closer.

”What happens to you once I’m back on the track of immortality? Mutual immunity is all well and good, but from everything you’ve told me and everything I’ve heard, that’s not nearly enough for you. To have Gwyneth Owens as an ally would be a great boon. And at the risk of sounding overly confident, I think you’ll need me, especially when it comes time to deal with that little prophecy of yours. Achieving immortality for yourself might change things for you. Apparently I was searching for it to live in peace and escape persecution, but for you, it might be the difference between your survival, or your destruction.”

Marie leaned back, pulling apart her croissant and taking a bite. Odette’s eyes flicked down at the pastry.

”Just something to think about,” she added.

Odette squinted at Marie, recognizing this tactic. “You are trying to use the same leverage I had used back at the grocery store. I am well aware of the advantage I would gain from unconditional immortality. I certainly do not need you to tell me what I need and what I stand to gain.” She pressed her forefinger on the back of her phone.

If you managed to figure out immortality, offer or not the cost would be high. I do not put all of my eggs into one basket thinly pinning my hopes of surviving the prophecy onto a singular thing.” She sipped her wine, “As if I haven’t already been searching for a way to immortalize myself.

”So you search for Mab, the long lost Faerie Queene who, coincidentally, is somehow involved with my past, which is all the better for you because, and this is only a guess, I get the feeling you’re trying to expand your reach. Ties to the seasonal courts is fine and all, but a former Queen, one who, if I’m not mistaken, is a member of the oldest tribe of Fey in existence. The Tuatha, right?”

Marie took a sip of water. Holt grew ever conscious of Marie’s overextension. It was unlike her, but in truth, Holt wasn’t entirely sure who or what Marie was anymore.

”If you were on their good side,” Marie continued, ”well, then you could dodge just about anything, couldn’t you? Reach greater acclaim than is possible through the courts, have you name and image truly immortalized. Am I close?”

Marie held up a hand.

”And before you try to be dismissive and let that famous paranoia dictate your answer, know that I’m not playing any games, despite what you might think. There are no tactics here, nothing other than sheer curiosity. Convince yourself otherwise if it helps, but I stand to gain nothing from knowing, other than to offer you a little peace of mind, as I’m sure, in your line of work, that’s hard to come by. I can’t have my ally plagued by worries that could jeopardize our mission. I’ve let go of my baggage, now it’s your turn.”

Odette leaned forward about to retort with a barb of her own, then sat back. As she was Odette was appalled at Marie’s attempts to dig for more information curiosity or not, good intentions or otherwise - Odette hated that Marie thought herself to understand her. No amount of empathy could help.

She folded her hands on the table, unaware of the way she gnawed on the inside of her cheek. “As if, I would allow something as useless as ‘baggage’ to hold me back from completing anything. It’s about as useless as being told to just - let it go.” She scoffed at the idea of it. “If you truly understood why I feel the need to keep details to myself we would not be having this conversation. It may not seem like you gain anything from knowing more but I know information, no matter it’s form or method of collection - is power. A healthy dose of paranoia has kept me alive for years.

You say I can trust these details to you and perhaps I can, but until you have gained all of your power and memories you are just as vulnerable,” She said, “Vulnerable to anyone attempting to mine for information by manipulation or forcefully cracking that head of yours open to find out everything you know. The Former Faerie Queen Mab may just do that and you are right she is Tuatha.

She continued, standing - the control she was exerting over her tone to remain even was extreme. Marie’s prying aggravated Odette, severely. “I would very much like Former Queen Mab to be my ally but facing her is a daunting task, even for one such as myself. I have an ego, yes. I have a string of accomplishments that have built my status but I know exactly what I am capable of and I understand the Fair Folk. You act as if my baggage is volatile when right now I am looking at the most unstable witch in salem.

Do not, I repeat - do not assume to know or understand why I act as I do.” She warned, the temperature in the room dropped several degrees.

Marie couldn’t place the emotions she felt after hearing Odette’s rant. It wasn’t fear, they were both past that. Was it shame for having potentially alienated an ally, sorrow? Or was it amusement at having pushed someone, exploiting a weakness or exposing their limitations? Should she frown and apologize, or grin and remain silent?

”Alright,” Marie finally responded in a softened tone, ”I might have overstepped, I’m sorry. This is . . . new for me. I’ve never done well in teams, and now that I have a partner . . . I’ll leave this alone.”

Marie pulled out her phone to check the time. Nearly an hour had passed; Maryann was likely waiting for them.

Standing up, Marie hailed Holt with a hand and began walking toward the exit.

”It’s just about time,” Marie called back to Odette. Before the two had left the assembly house, Marie turned back around, only a few paces from Odette and Bach.

”I’ll be civil moving forward,” Marie spoke in a hushed tone, ”But let’s not pretend that threatening me does you any favors. I can’t hurt you, you can’t hurt me. That’s the deal you made.”

Gradually the temperature climbed back to normal as Odette pulled back. She averted her gaze. It reminded her of what Silence once said, did she want pawns or partners? Odette felt that memory wash over her. She wanted her boundaries to remain intact but Marie was climbing over them. For the first time, Marie was finally standing her ground against Odette but not as enemy.

She clenched a fist then let it relax. “That is the deal I made and as this is new to you, it is new to me.

She felt Bach’s eyes burrow into the back of her head. “I have more than enough puppets and-” She gestured to Marie. “Not enough partners.

That was about as close to an apology Marie was going to hear for the day. She made eye contact, nodding.

Location: Salem Public Library
Time: 11:00 p.m.

It was a short walk to Salem’s library, only a few paces down and across Essex Street, the red-bricked building signaled by a simple street sign in the colonial style. A few windows were lit up, possibly by emergency lights that kept the building filled with a dull luminescence. It was certainly well after the building’s hours, but Salem’s witches seemed to care little for the city’s boundaries or regulations. In fact, they were likely the ones who set such rules in place.

A slender woman sat at the front desk, nodding to Odette and Marie as they passed, expecting them. She moved around the counter and handed Marie a keycard to the third floor.

“Ms. Douglas is waiting for you in a private room upstairs,” the woman directed, “third floor, second door on the right, just behind a small memorial statue.”

They nodded, following the stairs up to the third floor to search for Maryann.

Upstairs, the interior was as much as would could expect from a public library. Rows upon rows of books separated by subject, title, author, etc. Dotted around the space were tables and booths for quiet study, as well as small rooms here and there for quiet escapes. Between particularly wide rows were the odd map of Salem, globe, or raised placard. Eventually, the pair found the memorial mentioned by the librarian downstairs, a small, carved figure of Tituba made by a local artist. Behind it were a set of doors, the second of which held the same number as the keycard.

Marie swiped the card, unlocking the door and revealing Maryann seated at a desk with a collection of books, journals, worn parchment, and a variety of witching tools strewn about every imaginable surface.

“Ah,” she said as she looked up at them. “Good, you’re here. I’ve come up with a few mentions across various texts. I hope it’s what you’re looking for. Just ask a question and I’ll see if I have an answer.”

Odette already knew some questions she needed to be answered, “What are the last recorded memories of Mab’s whereabouts?

Even if your ancestor did not see her last, even her account of where or when she last saw her is a clue.” Odette said.

“I have no need to recall Mary Eastey’s memories,” Maryann replied, “at least not yet. There is an account, although brief, from a witch named Peter Marberg in 1699. As acting head of the Essex Wyrd prior to the turn of the century, Peter’s personal journal has been kept in near perfect condition.

“During the Samhain ritual carried about by the four covens and Tituba on October 31, 1699, Peter recounts witnessing a female figure dressed in silken robes the color of freshly turned soil. He describes the spirit as having fair skin covered in a fine powder that shimmered in the moonlight, wearing the head of an owl, and sporting large, moth-like wings that held a golden iridescence. Peter’s description matches those of witches from Andover prior to the Salem trials. However, he reports having only seen her for a moment, ‘risen from brittle leaves’, before she vanished.”

Maryann shook her head.

“There is no other mention of Mab in the colonies after that night. It was assumed in later years that she returned to the Isles, but as you know, that’s never been confirmed.”

Odette nodded affirming that point. “Otherwise we would not be here asking.” She pulled her phone free, thumbs typing her own notes. “What exactly was Mab doing prior to her departure? She clearly helped the witches settle but are there hints of projects, goals, anything that could possibly bring her back to Andover or even Salem?

Capricious in nature but fair folk nobility always have something to occupy their attention.

Maryann took a second glance through a selection of loose pieces of parchment, all stacked haphazardly on the study room’s central table. Odette and Marie could make out vague images of Mab’s description on a few of the pages, likely taken from a grimoire years prior.

“This is heavy speculation,” Maryann qualified, “but from what I’ve gathered, it seems that Mab was acting on behalf of her sister, or whom the witches of Andover assumed was her sister. Nicnevin, the Witch Queen of Scotland.”

”Nicnevin and Mab are sisters?” Marie questioned, slightly in awe. She’d heard plenty of tales of the witches midnight flights with Nicnevin in her early studies, and her name was mentioned a number of times in various trials from Scotland.

Maryann nodded.

“Apparently, although I’ve seen no other records that confirm that suspicion. Either way, it seems that Mab was keen to reposition herself after her departure from the Summer Court only a century prior. Perhaps she hoped to regain her power and position through the witches in Andover; take a portion of the New World to act as her throne.”

Making roots in the new world is seemingly difficult then as it is now.” Odette said, “Others, many others still cling to the ‘old world’. Mab was well ahead of her time. As to be expected. . .” She trailed off in thought, Nicnevin was a mysterious figure to be involved in this in any capacity. Should they prepare for a powerful witch’s meddling as well? Mab was inevitably who Odette would focus on but she thought to put Marie on preparing for the Witch Queen. Powerful players waltzing onto the board was trickier to predict. “Naturally, she was seen on Halloween. We are still off from any major turn of the season, celestial events, save for a full moon. I wonder if The Land can give us some impressions of Mab… A spirit such as her would surely leave her mark centuries later.

While the Veil is still firmly in place I have no issue pushing through if need be.

“I have something else that might interest you,” Maryann added.

Gently moving the other books aside, she brought out a large wooden carving depicting multiple scenes, along with pages taken from an illuminated manuscript that Marie and Odette assumed would explain the carvings.

“These pages,” Maryann explained, “are from a 13th century dictionary of spirits. I have no record of when they came into the Essex Wyrd’s possession, but, quite fortunately, they describe Mab in further detail, including a sort of prophecy regarding the birth of five distinct children.”

The first scene in the carvings showed a woman, not far from Peter Marberg’s description, cradling a small goat. A second scene presented Mab, or whom Marie and Odette assumed to be Mab, aiming a bow at a great stag. Another found Mab planting a seed, which sprouted roots upon touching the soil. Next, Mab lifted a child from, or perhaps lowered it into, a raging fire. Finally, Mab was seen dancing under a bright moon, drinking from a cup in the shape of a horn.

“How interesting,” Maryann noted, “pieces of the manuscript switch between Latin and a strange fey dialect. One that I unfortunately cannot read. The Latin, however, is roughly as follows: ‘Five borne from Malice, a jealous wife. The first a babe from Hell was brought, to offend her paramour, a good Christian was he. The second babe masked by cruel treachery, a regal beast turned wild in death. The third babe carried by cursed winds, borne of a mother’s weeping to the Earth’s fertile womb. The fourth babe turned ash, called back to the place where day and night yet linger. The fifth and last is both gift and curse, borne in celebration and jest with poisons unseen.’”

Maryann shook her head.

“I’m not sure I can elaborate much further. I’ve personally never known Mab to have any children, but I suppose it is one of the many facets of her being that remains a mystery. You’ll have to find more on your own, or ask the Land when the time comes.”

Odette leaned closer examining the piece, the carving. Five distinct creatures born of Mab, it rang a very distinct bell making the hair on her arms rise in a instinctive chill. “I would like to take pictures to tag along with my notes. This is very interesting for reasons outside of our current focus on Mab. I would love to study this carving in depth.” Odette said raising her phone up taking several pictures in portrait and landscape, flash off of course. Bach illuminated a soft light giving Odette crisp, highly detailed pictures.

She flicked through them, a knowing curl to her lips. She typed away her notes. This may prove to be an actual one up in information, uncommon knowledge. Maryann hadn’t an idea. Marie however, only needed a hint. “Isn’t that right White Witch? When we have a moment we could study this, together.

”Sure . . .” Marie replied, her mind trailing off, conjuring up a memory, a recent conversation. At first she hadn’t caught on to Odette’s fascination with the carvings, believing them to be scholarly, something useful in finding Mab. That wasn’t far from the truth. There was a twinge of something there, a subtle shift in her tone, inflection that felt out of place without reason. But not a moment later, Marie knew.

”Right,” she responded a second time with more enthusiasm. ”It should lend itself to an unrelated endeavor. Thank you, Maryann.”

Maryann nodded, tidying up the small room while speaking.

“Is there anything else? Midnight is nearly upon us. If you’ve any other questions, be swift.”

I believe my questions have been sufficiently answered with the resources at hand. We have context now.” the sorceress said, differing to Marie once again. “Yourself?

Marie shook her head.

”We have everything we need for now. It should be enough to ask the Land for greater insight.”

“Well if that’s it,” Maryann replied, “I’ll show you girls to Gallows Hill. I imagine everything will be in place by now.”
Kind Words for Kind Friends

Morning, 23rd of Last Seed, 4E08
@Dervish & @DearTrickster

Anvil had done very well by its citizens and visitors, easing peaceful night sleeps with the security of the Legion, offering comfort in more ways than Judena was aware of. Taking what she could haggle, spare gold she was holding onto since their departure of Jerell Mountains, Jude had replaced her mage robes. She bought a warm bed and a few meals she had no help in cooking, restocking her fresh fruit and fishing for fresh meat - drying and preserving what she could.

Even having enough time to scrub away the road, treating herself to floral oils. Her scales shined unlike they have had for a handful of weeks. Refreshed of mind and body, Judena left the inn behind to go for a morning walk down to the markets. While some of the merchants gave her a glare or ignored her inquiries it only took a brief reading reminder as to why they were as cold as they were. Much to Judena’s dismay.

Over the crowds she spotted a vaguely familiar Khajiit head perusing the stalls as well. She turned her head and Judena saw a stick poking out of her mouth, recognizing her immediately. She waved enthusiastically at Daro’Vasora.

“Daro’Vasora!” She said moving her way forward, gently excusing herself past other shoppers.

An ear pivoted in the direction of the voice, followed by the turning of a head. Despite herself, Daro’Vasora smiled, setting down a bracelet she had been looking at on the same velvet pad that the vendor had presented it on. “Judena, glad to see you’re well. You’re looking quite youthful this morning.” She gestured to the Argonian’s attire. “The outfit suits you.”

Smiling as well Judena replied, “You are too kind, my friend. I feel refreshed as if I have found a center. A small sliver of stability has profoundly positive effects for me.”

“Speaking of which. How has Anvil treated you? It has been a little while since we have had a chance to speak.” She paused, adding, “According to my logs, of course.”

“I have reported my findings and submitted my reference guide for Dwemeri artifacts to the Legionnaires. It has… been difficult to come to terms with simply stepping back.” She admitted.

“It’s been a couple days since we last spoke,” Daro’Vasora confirmed with a nod. “I always enjoyed the city; I cleaned the grime of the road away, purchased a new outfit to replace those tattered rags I was in before, even had a friendly chat with Gregor and Latro. Have you spoken to any of the others?” The Khajiit asked, giving Judena ample time to check her notes. She knew her friend’s condition well, and as such knew the system that she used to give herself the most normal life she could. Daro’Vasora wasn’t overly patient with many people, but she respected and appreciated Judena, and the slower pace of their interactions often gave her time to reflect. It was an appreciated change of pace some days.

“Mm…” Judena did just that - referring to the past few days, she hummed in thought while she read. “Yes, I have spoken with Jaraleet - my protective fellow Argonian and helped appraise a sword for the…” She flipped the page, “Nanine, the young breton woman, fascinating family history. We have-” She gestured vaguely searching for the right word to describe them generally.

The patience Daro’Vasora showed Judena was not lost on the Argonian. She wholly appreciated it, every little bit of understanding Judena received from others was more than she could ever hope knowing how her mind carried a burden for those around her. Especially those who choose to do more than tolerate.

Dodging a shopper’s basket. A glare followed by the shopper. “If you do not mind, my young friend could we possibly move away from the market?”

She leaned down to whisper, “I- erm… Caused a bit of a scene here the other day and some of the merchants here do not appreciate my presence.”

That prompted a surprised blink. “You’ve never been one for mischief.” Daro’Vasora replied quickly, looking for a quick way out of market stalls and somewhere quieter. “Might I ask what you did?” she asked, placing a gentle hand on Judena’s shoulder and helping guide her through the route she had mentally picked out.

Judena winced with embarrassment, allowing Daro’Vasora’s guidance. “Oof. I humiliated myself by getting into a very heated argument with a merchant, he was attempting to sell very fake dwemer pieces recovered from the Imperial City. I saw through it immediately, naturally. It turned into a spectacle that I had to walk away from, defeated.”

Jude sighed patting her chest, “I blame my sour mood and temper getting the better of me. The stress of travelling from one disaster to the next had finally taken a toll on me.”

“If people want momentos for other people’s suffering, let them be swindled.” The Khajiit replied, deciding that they were out of the scornful gaze of the merchants that weren’t overly fond of Judena. “Passions can run high, I understand, truly. We’ve been through a lot, and it’s not like those idiots will matter to us in a few days from now. Besides, the way things are going, very real pieces will be hitting the market in overwhelming supply in a few months. How do you think people are going to react when they find out they spent a month’s worth of savings on knock off crap they didn’t verify?” Daro’Vasora reasoned, offering a wink. “Way I see it, if you’re buying priceless artifacts from a street vendor, you don’t deserve the coin you’re spending.”

“That is very solid reasoning and it lightens the embarrassment two fold. Thank you, Daro’Vasora. They should not concern me as they have had.” Judena said warmly, perspective shifting once again. “You always know just what to say.”

They walked on, comfortably enjoying the other’s company. “I have something I wanted to discuss truthfully, and I understand the nature of our friendship has never been one to pry into our respective lives or pasts.” Judena began, “You and I share that common thread of keeping attention away from our hurts.”

She paused thoughtfully, “If I am wrong you are free to say so, my friend. I would never want to jeopardize our friendship.”

It was one way to look at it, the Khajiit supposed. “It’s more you don’t have pain if you move away from what hurts you. What’s this about?” she asked, not sure if she liked where this was going.

Digging into her shirt she pulled free the wedding band she wore as a necklace, it was silver with a topaz gem. She held it up for Daro’Vasora to see, “In light of running from one disaster to the next it has put some old hurts into perspective. Caring about those who are not here.”

“I am... Confused. I have been travelling with decades worth of letters written by my ex wife. I have not read a single one and never considered to read them until now. If we wake up tomorrow to our final day, I would die wondering what my ex-wife had to say.” Judena said with a small amount of wonder. “Would it be apologies? Anger? Hurt? Celebrating her new life with someone else? I have…” She said hesitated patting her chest where her logbook was. “Spent many sleepless nights wondering those very things.”

“I want… I want to know but I also do not. Does that make any sense?” She clenched the ring in her fist holding it close. “I carry with me a heavy weight.”

Daro’Vasora stepped closer to Judena, reaching out to put her hands over Judena’s, feeling the leathery scales beneath her own. Such different bodies on the outside, but very relatable fears and guilt on the inside. “If you never know, you control the narrative that suits how you wish to feel. If you wish to have courage, she left you kind words. If you wish to feel validated in your separation, they’re cruel. But as soon as you open the letters, you secede control. But you said it yourself; you may be at the end of the path, and you wish to know before your run out of time. You need closure, now more than ever. Pain fades, but even with your affliction, you need to reach an end.”

Judena closed her eyes, “I-” She nodded furiously. She wanted to close it. Shed it away like an old skin. It was old, it was tired, it was painful. “Daro’Vasora - thank you. I knew my ex wife before -” she tapped her head. “Before this, with many other memories she remains there sharp and clear. It is a terrible tear to remember and to not. Split down the middle. It feels like being trapped in a pocket of time.”

She nodded furiously again, “I hope, I truly hope the letters will release that - that...” She searched for the word. “Tangled line, the knot.” She gestured at her chest.

Daro’Vasora’s heart broke listening to Judena’s moment of vulnerability; she rarely considered the everlasting toll her memory must have extracted, and Judena’s perpetual kind and endearing nature were for others’ benefit. She was strong and selfless, and the Khajiit felt a pang of remorse for her own behaviour in contrast to Judena. Still, she pulled the older woman in an embrace. “You aren’t alone, and I’m not going to leave you without a friend. Do you want me there when you open them?” she asked quietly.

“You would do that for me?” Replied, quiet as well, she returned the hug. “I would not know how to repay you for such a thing, my friend.” She held Daro’Vasora for a few moments before disengaging holding her out at arms length. “Anvil is not our little group’s final resting place but perhaps in the down time while we are on the road I will ask for your company while I read them. It gives me soaring comfort knowing I will not be alone.”

“Comfort is coming from such strange places as of late, even Durantel back in Skingrad offered his own... version of support. I find myself rereading that day in an effort to understand the dreary Altmer.” Noting the look of confusion in Daro’Vasora’s expression, Judena clarified. “Durantel offered to help Meg and I in gathering food and we had a very strange but respectful conversation.”

She chuckled lightly, “With further hindsight, simply calling it strange is quite the understatement.”

The tale was dubious, to say the least. Judena was no fool, but she also seemed to give everyone the benefit of the doubt when none was merited. Durantel was about as trustworthy as a deal with Sheogorath and with none of the charm. He didn’t just “help” people, that was for damn sure.

“Look, it’s nothing, Judena. You’d have offered to do the same for me long ago if our positions were reversed… but Durantel doesn’t just offer to help people, especially when he’s a racial purist. What did he say?” Daro’Vasora asked.

She held up a talon, flipping knowingly back to Skingrad. “Well, I am glad I mentioned this to you because it is puzzling. Durantel especially is very difficult to read.”

“We began to speak of religion, as you know quite well I am a staunch believer in the Hist. I was surprised he brought it up at all, possibly to help time pass while I fished. He volunteered to be my spotter while Meg - as we agreed - was quick of foot to continue searching for food while I waded into the spring.” She read from the page, finger following the lines of her neat and clean handwriting. “He kept referring to me as ‘Scaled-One’ which I suppose was not nearly as offensive to what he would be far more inclined to use.” Judena shrugged. “I mentioned my ex wife and he asked if I missed her.”

She hummed at her previous decision at opening up about it to Durantel. “I said I missed the memory of her. He told me he missed someone dearly whom he assumed she thought he was dead.”

“The conversation crept into stranger territory he asked how much my affliction weighed on me. He inferred that I did not want to live anymore with it. Suggesting that… An afterlife would be free of it. Then asked what my purpose was.” She said, there were notes of how shameful she felt at the time being asked that. “I wrote how ashamed I was to even consider his words. Then answered I would carry on as a river carries us all. He said, ‘I will not endeavor to cause you any further strife.’ Before offering his hand to shake, in which I did.” Judena said, “I am condensing the conversation down quite a bit, my notes observed my feelings and some of my thoughts naturally but the confusion still stands as to why Durantel spoke with me of such things in the first place.”

She shrugged slightly, closing the log. “Your thoughts?”

A chill ran down Daro’Vasora’s spine as she weighed the new information. The entire exchange was morbid and there was a sinister overtone to it, but Judena either seemed at peace with it or oblivious to the subtext of Durantel telling her that death would solve her issues. She didn’t want to upset her friend more than she already was, but she certainly didn’t want the Argonian to be caught alone with the Altmer again. “Don’t spend any more time alone with him, alright? Durantel is dangerous and I’m pretty sure he’s a fanatic, people like him don’t associate with people like us out of the goodness of their hearts.” Daro’Vasora cautioned, feeling quite uneasy. “I don’t think he would hesitate to harm you if he felt he could get away with it.”

Judena stood a little straighter, nodding solemnly at Sora’s warning. “I will, my friend. I will employ my mage armour and remain cautious. He has been avoiding me as of late I would be led to believe he does not want to be alone with me again either.” She patted her chest, pursing her lips. “I am not a warrior but I can defend myself if need be from sword and spell. Not a frail leathery sack quite yet.” Judena joked elbowing Sora gently.

“Even when I do eventually lose my stride you will have to argue tooth and nail to convince me otherwise. Ha!” She laughed feeling the lingering indecision dissipate, realization striking her once again. “Daro’Vasora, you have been kind to listen to me today. The same is offered to you, I would understand if you needed to ease your conscious or unbottle certain things. Some of the best secrets are kept with someone who cannot remember them.” She offered in return, “It would not be the first I have offered as much to others.”

Oh, you know how it is, you have a friendly chat with the ancestors and learn that you don’t know what you’re doing with your life, I’m having an identity crisis, and I have this fantastic ability to hurt people I actually care about while burning bridges between people who mean well so thoroughly that it ensures I can never count on anyone for support. Not a big deal, I always figure things out. Nothing to ruffle your frills over, my Argonian friend. Daro’Vasora thought while shrugging impassively.

“Oh, you know me. Nothing keeps me down for long, moving forward constantly means you don’t look back. I’m fine.” she lied, her impassive face as disinterested as ever. If there was one thing Daro’Vasora was good at that didn’t come out of a book, dodging deadly situations and picking just about every lock ever conceived, it was keeping her emotional state well concealed from the world when she didn’t want to appear vulnerable. Judena was sweet, but she also didn’t need to worry about the problems of a young and troubled women who made it extremely difficult to approach her earnestly. Daro’Vasora was an island, and she certainly didn’t keep the port open for long for others to reach her. She just learned how to deal with the isolation and bitterness that came with it.

You need to do better. Was this not exactly what you were told to change? she thought, finding herself smiling at the Argonian.

The words were caught in her throat, and never leaving.

“I’ll be sure to let you know.”

Judena shared a thoughtful gaze, she hoped Daro’Vasora would always be faster than her problems. Could she truly outrun them?

“I will be here when you are ready.”
Afternoon, 21st of Last Seed, 4E208
Docks Marketplace, Anvil

@Mortarion & @DearTrickster Collab

Jaraleet had been wandering throughout the streets of Anvil when a commotion at what seemed to be a nearby marketplace drew him in. The main reason that the commotion had caught the attention of the assassin had been because he had heard mutters about the Imperial City and its fall at the hands of the Dwemer. Pushing his way past the crowd of onlookers that had gathered, Jaraleet was surprised to find that Judena Callisar was at the center of the heated discussion. Without so much as a word, the Haj-Eix made his way towards where the elder Argonian was and placed a hand on one of her shoulder.

“What’s the matter Judena?” He asked after a split second, turning his face to look at the man in front of his companion. “I heard some mutterings about the Imperial City and the raid amongst the crowd that gathered so I came to check what was going on, but I didn’t imagine you’d be at the center.”

Judena’s argument with Brant had escalated, more yelling more insults thrown around. Her focus was on him still, the fake dwemer remains of a mace being tugged back and forth between them. She hardly paid Jaraleet’s arrival much attention.

“Horrible! You should feel horrible for tricking people!” She shouted at Brant, she pulled harder on the mace.

Brant snarled, “Fine! Then you can have the piece of junk! Get out of my sight you swamp heathen!” He abruptly let it go watching Judena stumble backwards directly into Jaraleet. He caught and balanced her.

She threw the mace to the ground, “Call me swamp anything again, sir, and I will-”

Jaraleet had watched as the argument between Judena and Brant, his words to the elder Argonian seemingly unheard by the latter as her focus seemed entirely turned towards her discussion with the merchant. As the argument continued to grow in intensity, Jaraleet’s anger began to grow in tandem with Jude’s own temper and the hands of the Haj-Eix quietly hovered towards the pommel of his sword.

However, when Judena stumbled backwards any thought of his weapons were gone as Jaraleet reacted instinctively and catched the other Saxhleel before she could fall to the ground. He held Judena until he was sure that she wouldn’t fall and then let go of her, his eyes turning to the merchant. “I’d recommend that you apologize to her.” The assassin said in a low, cold, tone of voice to the Imperial man in front of him, taking a step away from Judena and towards Brant. “And in case you thought anything else, that’s not really a suggestion…”

Brant crossed his arms and sniffed, “No.” Conveying a deeply troubling amount of condescension in a singular word. Had Judena not been as angry as she was, it’s a quirk she would have admired. It was an impressive feat.

However, taking the extra beat to acknowledge Jaraleet. Her fellow argonian travelling companion was taking this far more seriously than she expected. He was a proud and far more traditionally minded argonian warrior than Judena ever considered herself, warrior or not. They had spent time a little time relishing the chance to converse in Jel. She spoke Jel to him now, “He is selling fake dwemer pieces he claims he salvaged from the Imperial City! It’s absolutely horrendous, I hate how he’s muddied the market and when everyone is in certain need to understand the dwemer now more than ever. This garbage is slowing down genuine examination of our foes!” She threw a hand at Brant who scowled, Jude’s ‘beard’ had begun to deflate some, speaking with Jaraleet.

“Speak the common tongue you beast!”

Her ‘beard’ expanded again, darkening as she grew angry once more, she hissed in Brant’s face. “Quiet! I am not leaving until you pack up your shop and leave!”

“You and the other lizard are going to make me do nothing!”

“I am sure the guards would love to hear of your extortion!” She declared. The crowd of shoppers rumbled in agreement. The merchants scoffed.

Jaraleet nodded in response to what Jude had said to him in Jel before turning to look at Brant once again. “I wouldn’t call us beasts again, unless you want to see me truly angry merchant.” The Haj-Eix said, his tone venomous, as he took yet another step towards the merchant.

He fell silent as Jude began talking to the merchant once again, but let out a smirk when his fellow Argonian mentioned the guards. “Oh yes, I’m quite certain that the guards would be happy to hear all about where you got these.” The assassin said, gesturing towards the stand where Brant was peddling his Dwemer ‘artifacts’. “Think about it, what do you think will happen if the guards hear about this? They’ll either want to hear where, and how, you got all of your so-called artifacts. After all, I think the guards, and indeed the Imperial Legions themselves, would love to be able to get their hands on dwemeri artifacts.” He continued on, taking yet another step towards the merchant.

“And what do you think will happen once they learn that you are just a two-bit charlatan peddling junk, huh? Give you a pat in the back and let you go after a night in the prison cells? Now that the Empire is at war with the Dwemer?” The assassin asked again, crossing his arms and glaring at Brant. “Tell me merchant, what do you think will happen?”

“They won’t believe your word over mine, lizard. I’ve been selling in these markets for years, like they’ll believe some filthy refugees over good ole Brant. I dare you.” He pointed to the guards. “I’ll do you one better for making these threats, I’ll call them over myself and get the pair of you hauled right out the front gates!”

The crowd around them quieted even the shoppers looked nervous, some dispersing at the first hearsay of guards being brought in. The merchants around Brant patted him on the back. Judena deflated a bit at that.

Brant smugly aware of how the mood shifted so easily.

“It is wrong.” She said, patting Jaraleet a silent signal to take a step back. Her ‘beard’ deflated further - as upset as she was. “If you are willing to get us kicked out of the city instead of seeing reason then… this will be where this ends.” Rolling over the words a small measure of bitterness.

“Word of mouth, regardless of reputation will see to the end of your terrible business.” She warned solemnly. “Mark my words.” Judena no longer saw logic in escalating further at risk of getting booted out of the city over something of this nature. While the Empire aimed to fairly rule and peacefully coexist with other Tamrielic provinces, Argonians often fought a losing battle to be taken seriously in the eyes of the Imperial Legion. Evidence apparent or not.

In Jel she said, “A firm reminder our voices don’t matter outside Argonia, whatever the case may be. I don’t want to gamble.

Jaraleet did as Jude signaled when she patted his back, falling silent as the elder Argonian spoke. He let out a soft sigh when she said that this would be were their discussion would end. “You are right Jude. There’s no sense in continuing this discussion, hopefully your words will come true and this pig will get his comeuppance eventually.” The Haj-Eix replied in their native tongue, glaring at Brant before he turned back to Judena. “Let's leave this place.” He said softly, switching back to Cyrodiilic, and began walking out of the marketplace, sure that Jude would follow him.

She shot one nasty glare over her shoulder at Brant then left, she trudged behind him. Feeling drained now more than ever. The journey truly had taken it’s toll on her, so rarely did she lose her temper over anything. Would she have gained more had she been reasonable instead of lashing out? Could she have quietly gone to the guards and made her case? Oh, it was such a regrettable choice to make. Nothing came of it.

In Jel she lamented. Her ‘beard’ now flat against her neck. “Oh Jaraleet, I have truly made a fool of myself with that display. I can’t remember what I was thinking, what drove me to pick a fight like that. Please don’t think less of me for such a terrible decision.

I can debate with the worst of the closed minded mages and historians but never have I lost my temper like that. Not for a very long time.” She shook her head, “Thank you for supporting my stance, as ridiculous as it was.

There’s no need to apologize, nor lament, for what you did Jude.” Jaraleet responded softly in response to the elder Argonian’s words, turning to face her as he spoke. “You did the right thing by calling attention to that….that rat’s attempt at profiting from this crisis. Mark my words, he will eventually pay for his crime, be it at the hands of the populace or at the hands of the drykillers he was so sure would side with him..” The assassin said, shaking his head before letting a soft sigh.

Why are the humans like this….” The younger Argonian said, shaking his head slightly. “I know not all humans are like this merchant, but I can’t help but bristle at the sight of such behavior. Things like these wouldn’t happen in our home.

Judena regarded him, rubbing the receding paint between her fingers. It pushed her own thoughts into something more substantial, larger. In a way, Jude - like so many Argonians before her, including Jaraleet - had a difficult time understand what others saw in them as a people, as a species. “Ah, my youthful companion. You are letting your homesickness colour your bias. We might have a voice in Argonia but we aren’t that different from men and mer.” She gently chided. “Which is why the divide is frustrating. We are seen as ‘lesser’ but culture and history shows we have far more in common.

I suppose that is the truth, we are more alike to them than they’d like to admit.” Jaraleet replied with a sigh. “And yet, I can’t help but feel that behavior such as that one wouldn’t happen in our homeland. During a crisis such as this one the Hist would have united us against our common foe, as it did during the Oblivion Crisis. I doubt that one of our own would be making a fortune off of the rest of us in a situation like this one, but maybe I’m just being an idealistic fool.” He said, letting out a self-deprecating chuckle at his last remark.

Gently squeezing his shoulder Judena said, trying to comfort, “It’s never foolish to hope for better, to have expectations for better. We as a people will face these challenges well past the time you and I have lived and died. We must deal with these conflicts as the water does. Change and move past these obstacles whether it be a tree or a rock.” She swept a hand past the horizon, mimicking the flow of water. The sunlight reflecting in her golden eyes, warming the dullness of her ruby scales. “We change as is the nature of which we are born, Jaraleet. From the pools at the base of the Hist we are born and destined to return to.

That thought alone helped ground the likes of Judena, center her perspective in the grander scheme of their situation. They simply had to move. “Unlike so many others, we know where we stand.

Please, for me, do not lose that foolish hope. This is only one day of many.” She came to a stop standing in front of Jaraleet, hands on his shoulders, looking him in the eye.

Your words carry great wisdom Judena, it is easy to forget that we know where we stand while the other races of Tamriel do not.” The assassin said, feeling guilt welling up in his chest as Jude asked him to not lose his foolish hope and his throat tightening with it. “I...I won’t, I promise Jude.” He replied after a few seconds of silence, taking Judena’s hands and giving them a light squeeze so as to reassure her.

Giving him a big gum smile, she felt the sourness of the argument earlier begin to dissipate. She switched knowingly back to Cyrodilic, “If I do not remember then this will.” She patted her shirt where her logbook sat, snug and secure. “It is wisdom that I need to remind myself of. It is easy to believe you are the rock when really we are just apart of the stream.”

Taking a deep breath in through her nose, puffing up her chest, she held it for a few seconds before exhaling.

“Once again, your words carry great wisdom Judena.” Jaraleet said, bowing his head slightly in deference to the older Argonian. “It is all too easy to believe oneself the center of things when we are merely just another part of a great whole.” He continued on, smiling back towards Jude. “Thank you for reminding me of that.” The assassin said.

“Come, let us leave this place, what do you say?” Jaraleet asked, motioning for them to continue walking away from the marketplace.
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