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Being unarmed and unarmored, Lorag could not afford a major hit, but he did not seem to have too much trouble avoiding them at the moment. The first two of Narsi's broadly telegraphed strikes were easily dodged with simple, quick dashes, but on the third, he finally went on the offensive. Her patterns were easy enough to recognize, and he aimed to push into her reach while she was recovering from her swing. It required timing within a fraction of a second, and he did take a flesh wound from two of her claws on his shoulder for his trouble, but he traded it for a solid punch to the middle of her head, mostly focused on her left eye socket. He watched her other hand for a counter attack, while following through to her temporary blind spot. With his other fist, Lorag delivered another heavy blow to the exact same spot on her jaw as his first strike, before finally dashing out of her range to the side.

Those watching the fight were mostly silent, if only for how engaged they were in watching and examining Lorag's every move. Narsi offered nothing surprising for a mostly primal lycan, but how Lorag was dealing with her had their full attention. To fight a werewolf unarmed and unarmored was seemingly suicidal, even for very experienced warriors. There were even a few of the onlookers with wagers against Lorag. Ten years ago, he could not have done so with any degree of confidence, yet now he was willingly risking everything on his own ability.




Janius' answer was evidently enough for Zharanthixil, as he accepted it with no further argument. "If that is true, then I do not see a problem. I have been without you for over ten years; I can wait a bit longer."

Despite Zharan's now pleasant attitude, Kaleeth still could not bear to look at him. She cursed at herself internally for even trying to offer an explanation. She had not expected that she would have even been welcome to stay in her village, much have actually put any serious thought into the possibility. She just could not imagine wanting to leave her pack at any point, and did not know how to approach telling that to her father.
In Lorag's great many years of experience, he had seen just about every form and style of attack there was to see, from lycans and non-lycans alike. Narsi's savage attack was trivial to predict, to the point that he knew exactly what she was going to do after seeing only a few steps of her footwork. Any sluggishness that Lorag had accumulated through age was more than countered by sheer experience, at least at the current point in his life. His eyes were still sharp, and his mind still fast enough to watch his opponent not only to see what they were likely about to do, but to have an intuitive sense for how their attacks might change based on their position and momentum. Of course, in Narsi's case, she did not currently have the state of mind to be that clever, regardless.

Knowing where she was going to land, Lorag did not seem to have too much trouble evading, and using her momentum to push her past him, all while delivering a hefty blow from his fist as she flew past. He used his knuckle to deliver a precise strike to the joint of her jaw to her skull. She easily outmatched Lorag for strength at the moment, but he was still strong enough in his current form to harm her. Indeed, his strike could have broken bone.

If landing the first strike was not enough, Lorag also moved behind Narsi while she was recovering, to a point where she could not easily reach him without first turning her whole body, and delivered another strong blow to the joint between her left leg and her hip before finally backing off out of her range. The last thing he wanted would be to get into a grapple with a werewolf.




"I'm sorry, father. I feel horrible about it, but we can't stay here. I do want to be with you and...my people again, but...I can't. We have important things we have to do that I can't just abandon. I know how horrible it was that I abandoned you and mother, and I can't do that again." Kaleeth added after Janius. Although, she soon regretted saying anything at all.

Zharan clutched Kaleeth's hand tightly, and seemed to make a conscious effort to diffuse some of the anger and frustration that was evident in his expression. "What could be so important to keep you away from your people?"

Kaleeth looked away. "I...can't say. I've met many people since I left, and made friends that I love as much as family. I've made promises to them, and I have to keep them.

Again, there was a silence from Zharanthixil. His next words were slow, but steady. "And is this important thing something you are going to be doing for the rest of your life?"

"Well, no, but..."

"Then you are free to return once you are finished." Zharanthixil interrupted before giving a sharp, accusatory gaze towards Janius. Without knowing the full context of what Kaleeth was referring to, his first instinct was to suspect Janius. "Or is that an option you are withholding from her?"
While Narsi was transforming, Lorag did not do perhaps what she had been expecting. Instead of preparing to transform himself, or even just grabbing a weapon, Lorag simply grabbed a pair of steel gauntlets, and had just finished tightening them when Narsi's body finished its transformation. He was only wearing basic clothing, apart from the gauntlets, so he appeared to be entirely unprepared to fight a transformed werewolf. Narsi, even being an underfed juvenile, was still a far stronger, faster, and deadly being than any normal mortal form, save for a few, more bestial types of Khajiit. Even a hardened warrior like Lorag could not be expected to match a transformed werewolf physically, yet he made no effort to try and further even the odds.

"Hmph, looks like you're still barely better than an animal at this point. Your mother was right to make you wait, at least outside a clan. Like I said, though, things are different here. At least it still looks like you're still you in that head of yours, so this still might be worth somethin'." Lorag said before finally giving some attention to their onlookers. "Girl could go feral, so be ready to get her under control. Just don't interrupt the fight, for any reason. If she manages to kill me...then make sure she gets back to her mother in one piece."

All at once, Lorag's full attention was on Narsi. He went from a vaguely apathetic expression, to one of singular focus. His eyes read every slight movement she made just as one would read a book. Slowly, he cracked his knuckles and took up a fighting stance. "Here that, girl? I just gave you free reign to try and kill me. So...try me."




Kaleeth continued to hug her father for a time, if only so he could not see the conflict in her expression. She knew that she could not stay as he wanted, but she did not know how she could tell him so without hurting him. A part of her wanted to find a way to change the subject, but she also had a feeling that it would just make matters worse to allow him to continue to believe she would for any longer.

"I...I can't come back father. I mean, I can't stay." Kaleeth said, her head still buried into Zharan's shoulder. She sobbed more loudly, while her father's expression became distinctly disappointed, and with a certain amount of anger.

"And why not? You are here now, with your people where you belong. There is no life out there that would be better than what you could have here. A Saxhleel should live in connection with the Hist, and not you, nor your son can have that anywhere outside our homeland. There is a place for you here, with your father who has wanted nothing more than to have his family again." Zharanthixil said, surprisingly keeping his voice calm despite his expression. Kaleeth, however, could not bear to look him in the eye from the guilt that was evident in her face.
"Yeah, yeah, just don't take that attitude around anyone else." Lorag warned. Quite suddenly, his attitude had shifted, becoming far more serious and direct than she had seen him at any point so far. He walked up close to her, speaking quietly, but firmly. "Your mother's crimes are serious business. Jerrick had a lot of good friends in his clan, not to mention his family. You don't want them takin' offense. Now come on; I'll show you where you'll be stayin'. First thing tomorrow, we're gettin' to work."

True to Lorag's word, Narsi was given a room alone. Even if it was not the largest, it was still at least equal in floor space to the entire home that she shared with her mother outside Cheydinhal. Unlike other clans, the Blackreach clan in particular did not house many new lycans due to its secrecy. There were only a few others in the same hall as Narsi's apart from the guards that were periodically rotated out through the night to deal with any potential, uncontrolled outbursts. Lorag had ordered her to get to bed somewhat early, though he did at least have a meal sent to her room, uncooked as it was.

The next morning, Lorag came personally to get Narsi out of her bed, not even making time for breakfast for either of them before leading her to the nearest training room. He acted like he was in a hurry, perhaps even eager, but would not elaborate on why regardless of anything Narsi might decide to ask. He simply brought her to a spacious, interior chamber with a collection of training weapons and equipment. Although, they were not the only ones present. There was a small group of four individuals of mostly Human races, unarmed and unarmored, but with the physique of soldiers. Yet, they did not seem to be doing anything except waiting, and all of them appeared to perk up once Lorag arrived. If Narsi was attentive, she might realize that Lorag had asked them to be there.

Just as he had been acting all morning, Lorag was eager to get straight to the point. "Alright, so what we're gonna do is get a sense of where you're at. I'll admit your mother didn't go completely soft in that city, but she's been out of it for a long time. If you decide to stick with it, you'll be learnin' with the recruits, but for now, you're gonna fight me. Take your beast form, you'll need it."





"It would be a lie for me to say that this is my preferred choice." Zharanthixil replied. However, everything about his demeanor soften once he finally approached Kaleeth directly. He reached out and took her hands in his. "But it is not about him, it is about you, Kaleeth. I have missed you more than I would have thought possible, especially after losing your mother. This last year has...tested me far more than any beast I have slain or enemy I have faced. I had dreams about just being able to see you again. That...eager smile of yours. I have missed it."

Finally, Zharan was willing to put down his guard enough to pull Kaleeth into a hug. "He is not one of us, and he does not belong here with us. But, I have earned enough respect in my life to arrange for an exception for the Human."

Even as Kaleeth was overjoyed to hear what her father had to say to her, she could not help but to have a certain dread swell up within her. She still had to find a way to tell her father that she could not stay.
"Hmm, call it a test." Lorag replied after a moment. "Some training. Got to see what I'm workin' with. Your strength, what habits you've got. Need to see how much of what your mother's taught you that I've got to fix. There's a lot 'bout this place you should see, but the biggest thing is for you to see how strong I can make you. Without the kind of training you can get here, you'll never hit your potential."

Lorag stopped in front of one of the buildings and opened up the large Dwemer doors. "First, though, got to show you the basics around here. There's a lot to know, so you can get the full tour from someone else. I'll show you the essentials."

Without further delay, Lorag spent an hour or so walking Narsi through the essential parts of the city, which, for him, included both the training rooms and armory along with places like the dining hall, water pumps, and anything else she needed. Eventually, he had her waiting just outside Saras' office for about ten minutes while Lorag talked to him in private. Even with her hightened sense of hearing, Narsi would find nothing but a dead silence if she attempted to eavesdrop through the door. The same sort of sound dampening enchantments that Meesei had granted to Marod and Lunise, Saras had requested for his own workspace.

When Lorag did finally emerge, he wasted no time in getting straight to the point with Narsi. "Alright, I talked to Saras. He's...well, knowin' his role ain't important. He's an old elf that I've got to listen to. I wanted to get you a bunk with the recruits of your age, but he wants to 'monitor' you for a while. Since you're a new lycan and we don't know if you've got proper training yet. You'll get a room by yourself, for now, in the same hall as all the other fresh lycans. No different from any other rooms, 'cept that we keep guards out in the halls overnight that'll follow you around if you decide to go anywhere. Honestly, it's prob'ly also because your mother was a traitor and he don't trust you, but I can't argue with him on the first part either."




From the way that Zharan was acting, it was possible he was ignoring Janius, but whether accidentally or intentionally, he still addressed his question. Taking a few limping steps towards Kaleeth, he finally drew in her attention towards him. "Neither of us ever started hating you, Kaleeth. We may not have been happy with you, but you were always our daughter."

Zharanthixil shot a sharp glance towards Janius. "She died hating you. It did not start that way, but she came to despise how you took our only daughter away from her family and tribe. If she were here, I know she would be happy if I were to inflict on you an appropriate amount of pain as recompense."

Although his words were harsh, Zharan soon resigned his aggression into a sigh. "But, she is not here. And, as shameful as it is to say, I have neither the means nor authority to bring any harm to you. I am a crippled old man, and no longer the Master Hunter. I cannot threaten you, and, more importantly, I no longer desire to. The life I once had has been shattered. My wife dead, my children gone, and my purpose diminished. Revenge, righteous anger...both seem trivial to me now. What I desire, all that I can truly say that I want, is to have a family again."

"And if that family includes you...I shall adapt." Zharan said, staring squarely into Janius' eyes. His stern tone stood in contrast to his words, but they seemed no less genuine.
Lorag shrugged. "Not sure. Not my job to know that. Thousands, I guess. Still more lycans out in other clans, but this is the biggest one in Tamriel."

Lorag waved to Narsi for her to follow him as he started towards the steps. From the ground, the Dwemer buildings at least seemed imposing, but it was only once they were walking through the main square that it really started to seem more like a city. It could not compare to the size of a place like Cheydinhal, of course, but there were more lycans just in Narsi's current field of view than she had likely expected to see in her entire life. Wooden structures were mixed among the original Dwemer buildings, and filled with people that gave the city square life. This was a place with stores, commerce, and proper homes. None of it was on the scale of a major city, but all of its elements were present, along with the more primal influence of lycanthropy. From the square, one could see a few soldiers sparring in a nearby outdoor training yard, in and out of their lycan forms. A young werelion almost brushed against Narsi as he sprinted past, calling attention to a group of children even younger than Narsi playing and chasing one another. Lorag paid no mind to any of it, but he was going slowly enough to allow Narsi to properly take in her first impression. "I'll show you around the basics of the place, then get you a place to rest your head. After that, you rest up 'till you can take your werewolf form again."




Julan was not sure what to say, or how to feel. He had never met his grandmother, so the news did not hit him nearly as hard as Kaleeth. Her mind was a flood of despair and regret. Zharanthixil was keeping his distance, so Kaleeth clung tightly to Janius. "I...didn't get to see her again. I didn't get to talk to her, I...never told her I was sorry. She died hating me, and it's my fault!"
Lorag stood just behind Narsi, the portal disappearing soon after just behind him. Before them was the Silent City, its long staircase leading up to the Dwemer buildings towering over them. At the base of the staircase on either side were numerous stables and pens they had built for horses, chaurus, and any other creature they used regularly. They were well-within view of those working the stables, but Meesei's teleportation had become such a common occurrence for them that it did not garner more than a glance from them. "Our home. Our clan. Obviously, we're underground. Don't know if you've ever seen anything Dwarven before livin' in Cyrodiil, but we built it out of the ruins of one of their cities. It's somewhere in Tamriel, and any entrances are hidden. Visitors like you don't get to know where it is. Only way we let people in is by teleporting, so it's hidden from the enemy, and anyone else. Even if they did find it, defenses are strong enough that we could hole up for months. Maybe years. So, long story short, it's a place where we can fight on our own terms, hunt on our own terms, and live on our own terms."

Lorag stopped looking up to the city and focused more on Narsi herself. "Anyways, your mother's probably taught you a whole bunch of rules about bein' in a city. How to dress, how to act, how to deal with your beast and all that. Well, most of those prob'ly don't apply here. It might be a city, but it's still a lycan clan. Your clothes don't matter, we don't expect those 'Imperial" manners you got in Cheydinhal, and everyone's gonna know you're a lycan. You can transform whenever you want, wherever you want, and for however long you want. If you want to be a werewolf for the next few days, weeks, or whatever, be my guest. All you need to know is to not start trouble. You'll be given food and all that basic stuff, just don't go breakin' or stealin' things that ain't yours. No different than your city there. If someone ends up pissin' you off, you can fight 'em. You just gotta do it the right way. You challenge them, and if they accept, you fight in one of the training rooms with someone else there to make sure you don't kill each other. We can hunt regularly, on the surface, or in the cavern. Other than that, don't kill any of our tamed creatures. We do mark them. Oh, and there are some people here that aren't lycans themselves. Not many, but don't go crazy if you meet one."




Zharanthixil's gaze towards Janius was just as harsh as ever. "I've had my time to come to terms with it. It is not me who requires sympathy, fool. It's my daughter." He chided. Indeed, Kaleeth seemed to be on the verge of an emotional breakdown, and may not have even been hearing what the others were saying.

Julan, meanwhile, looked up to his father with clear confusion in his eyes. "Does this mean my grandmother is...dead?" He asked, perhaps holding on to some naive hope that he had mistranslated what Zharan had said.
Fortunately for Narsi, intoxication did not make Meesei more prone to anger. If anything, it simply made her more willing to be more expressive as she laughed in response. All the while, she held up one hand beside her, which started to glow with pure magical energy. "Well, then I was mistaken. You most definitely are Lorag's daughter." She said, looking at least slightly more serious as her laugh started to subside. "Probably a lot of Harriet in you too. Hmph, hopefully that washes out."

Meesei was not concentrating as strongly as usual, so it took closer to a minute for her to complete her portal, which led to the front steps of the Silent City. Once it was ready, a flick of Meesei's wrist opened up a brilliantly glowing portal in the center of the room. "Here you are, one doorway to the greatest home a lycan could hope for. Just step through; it is perfectly safe."




The expression on Kaleeth's face became almost pleading. While he did not yet appear angry towards her, his open hostility towards Janius was something she had hoped would have changed in all the time that had passed. It was starting to kill the measure of hope she had that this could all end happily. "Father...Janius has been wonderful to me. We have a family now, and we love each other even more than when we first met. He is the kind of mate you always wanted me to have. And even more the kind that mother wanted me to have. She will love to meet him again and get to know him. I am sure of it."

"Your mother wanted you, Kaleeth." Zharanthixil snapped back immediately. He seemed even more emotionally charged than they might have expected, and he appeared to have an almost pained look in his eyes. "You never came back. We never knew what became of you, and had no way to find you. In just a few seasons, our children were gone. One returned to the Hist, and the other...lost to the world. You could have been happy, or you could have been dead. Or in pain, or suffering. We had no way to know." There was a pause, and Zharan took a slow step forward towards her. He leaned heavily on his cane, evidently hesitant to put any weight at all on his right leg. "We missed you."

Kaleeth could not contain the conflict she felt inside. This was not the joyous reunion that she had ideally hoped to have, but at the same time, her father was far from angry to see her. He was clearly willing to admit that he had missed her. Despite being on the verge of tears, Kaleeth tried to hold herself together to respond. "I know; I can't even describe how much I regret it. I'm so sorry, father, I was horrible to you for leaving. Having Julan now, I...understand that better than I ever could have then. I was horrible to you, but...I'm here now, and I missed you too. I want to try to make it up to you, and mother. Where is she? I have to see her again."

Zharanthixil's sadness grew all the more evident. He let out another long breath, and could not bring himself to make eye contact with his daughter. "Kaleeth...your mother is not here. She returned to the Hist three seasons ago. Sickness took her."

Kaleeth had been too caught up in her own emotions to see the signs that Janius had recognized shortly after arriving, so the revelation that Zharanthixil gave her was as shocking as it was horrifying. "She's returned to...she's dead. I...I don't...but she was always so healthy...I don't understand how..."

Kaleeth broke down into tears, sobbing uncontrollably into her hands. Argonians were naturally highly resistant to disease, but not entirely immune. Large plagues were non-existent among them, but individuals could occasionally fall to a particularly virulent disease. Such occurrences were usually unpredictable, and quite sudden for family and friends.
With Narsi's reluctant compliance Lorag was actually able to lead her to the inn without further issue. Once again, Meesei was surprised to see her packmate back so soon, and even moreso with a little girl in tow. Meesei of course knew that Lorag had intended to speak to Harriet, but he had given her no further details beforehand. Lorag was quick to pull Meesei away from Ahnasha and Fendros so they could have some privacy away from any potential prying eyes in the inn. Although, Meesei did not see any need to go any farther than the room she had rented upstairs.

Meesei had not stopped drinking at any point before Lorag returned, and at least he could see it in the way she moved, and the hints of intoxication in her tone. Still, her constitution was enough that she had not yet lost most of her more rational mind. "So, I see we have a guest, Lorag. Is...Harriet still alive up there, or..."

"Relax, Alpha, the traitor's still alive. I just went to talk. She agreed to this on her own. Surprised me too, honestly, and the girl's not happy with it, but she's gonna see the clan whether she likes it or not. Could use a portal back home." Lorag replied.

Meesei gave a single shrug. "Sure, why not? Probably fine to just do it here. I doubt anyone will pay attention to you two not going back down later. People pay less attention to strangers than you would think."

Aside from speaking somewhat more slowly than usual, Meesei's mood was more outwardly cheerful than she would normally allow around strangers, even a child. She grinned, and took a few moments just to look at Narsi before continuing. "It's been a long time since I have seen you, Narsi. I don't think I would have expected Lorag's child to be such a cute little girl."




Julan was right beside Janius, but he was unsure what, if anything, he should say to his grandfather. Although, Zharanthixil had no intention of waiting on everyone to have a turn to speak. He started to move to stand up, but before getting up off of one knee, he reached over and grabbed what appeared to be a cane propped up against the wall of the hut. It was a simple carved wooden branch with a wide base to make it less likely to become caught in the mud. With the cane in hand, he slowly pushed himself up to his feet. He did not look to have any visible injuries on the outside, but he was clearly favoring his left leg in his posture. "I'm not sure if I ever expected this day to come. I had given up on it. I wish it had come sooner."

Zharan soon shifted his gaze to Janius, and became markedly more stern in his expression. "So you are still in the company of this Imperial.

[i]"It is more than company, father. Janius is still my mate. Kaj-Julan is our son." Kaleeth replied, motioning her hand towards him.

The look that Zharanthixil gave towards Julan was difficult to read. His whole demeanor was borderline to threatening, but it was not precisely directed at Julan specifically. "And after all this time, I do have a grandchild. It is just one who is tainted with your blood." Zharan glared at Janius. There were a few long, tense moments of silence, and Kaleeth was unsure if her father was going to escalate his anger any farther. But, to her surprise, he eventually closed his eyes and let out a long breath. "But, he is my daughter's, and that is enough."
Narsi hardly had time to take a step before Lorag grabbed a hold of the collar of her shirt. "Hold on there, girl. You can choose to leave once you've seen everything I've got to show you. Not before."

Lorag took a hold of Narsi's shoulder and turned her around to face him. "Sure, you can walk yourself up that mountain if you want, but as soon as you do, your mother's just gonna kick your hide right back down it 'till you go where I'm takin' you. Don't even try to pretend you don't know that's true. So, you can spend all day walkin' up and down this mountain, or you can get this over with quicker, so let's not waste both of our time and just get goin'."




As was often the case when he was prompted to speak with the adults his parents dealt with, Julan kept his answer short and quick. "I'm Kaj-Julan. I'm, um, their son."

The leader, and most of the others, just looked surprised at Janius' and Julan's stated relationships with Kaleeth, though one in the back gave a visible sneer towards them. Regardless, Xurkith accepted their answers enough to lead them into the camp. They spoke no further on the way, though the moment they entered the village, they could hear the whispers among onlookers, particularly once they noticed Janius. Many were just surprised that the village had visitors at all, but there were perhaps a few who recognized Kaleeth's return. In any case, the village was a small enough place that it hardly took any time at all for them to reach a small, nondescript mud hut on the very edge of the village. Xurkith pulled aside the hanging cloth that served as the doorway and motioned for the trio to follow him inside.

The hut was small and, naturally, had only a single room. There was a small firepit in the center that Kaleeth noticed immediately, due to the aroma of the soup that was cooking on top of it, which filled the entirety of the hut. There was no furniture only cloth mats on which to sit and a single hammock in the far corner. Kaleeth could see what looked like a few hunting trophies nearby to it, but it appeared that no one had bothered to actually display them properly. That, or they had already been taken down in preparation for their impending migration. Regardless, there was only one other person in the hut aside from them, and Kaleeth could hardly bring herself to breathe when she saw him. It was her father, sitting in front of the firepit, looking up at his guests. His dark green scales had lightened a shade or so since they had last seen him, but his tattoos looked like they had maintained their color. He had on only his loincloth, and not the usual adornments of a ranking hunter in the village.

"Zharan, you have...visitors." Xurkith announced, though Zharanthixil was hardly even paying attention to him. His eyes were unmoving from Kaleeth, who was filled with more fear and nervousness the longer he looked at her. "Father, I..." She started, unable to come up with any conclusion to the thought.

In contrast to Kaleeth, Zharan's words were soft, perhaps even carrying some sadness to his tone. "My little girl...after all this time." He began; however, his gaze focused more sharply onto Janius once he took notice of him. "I see you brought him here again."
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