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Dear Mr Curly,
I have done little travelling lately because I have been so dreadfully weary. Can it be true as the old Ecclesiastes said; that all things lead to weariness? Surely not. Perhaps the opposite is true: that all nothings lead to weariness. I have a peculiar feeling, Curly, that I am worn out from something I haven't yet done and the more I don't do it, the more exhausted I become. How strange. Could it be something I haven't realised? Perhaps it's something I haven't said? Something I haven't finished! It must be very large and true whatever it is and a lively struggle in the doing but I look forward to it immensely. I know I need it. First, however, I must curl up in my chair and sleep deeply with the duck. Perhaps I'll dream of this thing and wake up refreshed and do it. My fond wishes to you Mr. Curly, and to all Curly Flat.
Yours sleepily,
Vasco Pyjama
P.S. Not having breakfast can make you weary. That's for sure!
Michael Leunig. The Curly Pyjama Letters.

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Yalu 'Suumko

Ryker got a chilly response from Yalu once they dusted themselves off. "Do not speak of it," he spat before moving on without reciprocating the handshake. Yalu did not make clear whether he was distracted or intentionally curt. It seemed like both.

Yalu kept his helmet on and his communications austere for the clean up and the ride back to base.

Yalu had composed himself enough with the task of rearming for the assault on the keep. He was no stranger to such places, and as such rearmed his scattershot and needle rifle. However, if they were going in heavy, he knew exactly what to ask for to assist their surgical strike. He approached Ryker's vehicle with large rectangular ordnance cases in each hand while the spartan was seeing through its inspections. One after the other, he lifted them onto the brackets behind the main gun.

"I have come to seek pardon for my earlier tone," he proclaimed, before unlatching both cases to reveal a spartan laser and a rocket launcher. "I will be taking a Banshee in during the initial approach. You will need fire support."
Fendros thought about extending more courtesy. Instead, he solemnly nodded and led the procession back to camp. Yerig's place was no longer here. It was enough for Yerig to know the clan would be there for him if he changed his mind.

The meeting was soon enough after they arrived that Fendros had still not properly rested. He had at least reverted back to his Dunmer shape and donned a fresh set of clothing, but he had to source a stamina potion to keep himself from nodding off.

The immense weight of expectations came first from the clan leaders. He was familiar with them personally enough as Meesei's second. Today, they were entirely different in his eyes.

Saras' prompt sobered Fendros enough to stand up from his seat with a deep breath and take on a determined expression. He would deliver this news with the stony face his father often made. "Thank you, Saras. I have taken some time to consider this." He turned to the wider meeting. "Friends, you have likely deduced the fate of our late attendants by now. I shall provide any details you wish, though in line with Saras' suggestion of brevity, it suffices to say that General Ri'vashi and our previous champion, Meesei, turned to hold off the Daedric horde to allow us the opportunity to confront Clavicus Vile. I saw Meesei's fate myself. As for Ri'vashi...I had hoped to see her back here, though I must assume the worst by this time." Fendros paused to blink back a burning behind his eyes. "What happened speaks for itself. I should like to relay the entire story to you, and then address the wider Lycan population with what I hope will be encouraging words for this bittersweet ending to the war. Ri'vashi was a friend and true comrade to us all. And, believe me when I say few were closer to Meesei than myself. I will see to it they are honoured in the highest--" he ran out of eloquent words "--the best way we can."

Fendros took another deep breath to rally.

"All of you here also made this victory possible. All of you, and your people. This will, in the end, be a celebration as much as a memorial for the fallen. I thank you, and as Meesei's designated Champion of Hircine -- a title I will be defending with all my strength and virtue -- I look forward to continuing her legacy and improving our peoples' lot in the world. I hope to earn your respect and count on your support."
"I can promise you all those things," Fendros said without hesitation. "We can bring him to his homeland swiftly and find...discrete allies who should know the appropriate traditions."

Sabine stood up slowly. The sadness on her face had begun to give way to waves of fatigue.

Fendros peered around for a moment before taking on his werewolf form. He reverently took up Do'rhajul's body in his arms and gently ordered the group. "Back to camp."

It seemed such a short time upon the cliff, but now was not the time for protracted ceremony.

Fendros continued his conversation with Yerig on the way back. "Thank you, Yerig, for fighting alongside us. Your promises were with Do'rhajul and you still helped to save us. If there is anything we can do for you once we return home...either way, you are always welcome in the Silent City." He stopped and gathered himself again. "Call me curious as to your next chapter."
Fendros squatted down to put a hand on Sabine's back.

Sabine herself took a short while to respond. She slowly nodded and looked up to Yerig with a tear-soaked face. "You are right. I just wish it could have been different."

It was then that Tarna stepped up with her mouth clamped shut and offered Yerig a waterskin and a hand up.

"Is there anything you wish to say, Tarna?" Fendros asked.

Tarna slowly shook her head. "I am not a good speaker. I will miss him, but...that's not strong enough to say on its own."

Fendros nodded and sighed through his nose. "We should take his body back to give him a proper burial. Yerig...there is food and rest at camp. When you are refreshed, we should speak of what the next steps should be for you and Do'rhajul's remains."
Yalu 'Suumko

Yalu's lungs emptied at the sight of his target slumping as instantly dead as it did. If not for the rest of the commotion, he might have frozen. Vael's voice over the comms brought him back to the action. He retrieved his needle rifle, aimed down at the fleeing grunts, and helped to pick them off.

Tar's shouting made him glance to see what was going on. Yalu's kill, all the slaughter of the grunts with their backs turned, and then Tar's shouting, all combined to bring out a sudden irritation in him. "'Mdalak! Get up! Focus!"

He felt his ears ring with how loud he shouted into his helmet. He felt an immediate pang of anxiety at his outburst. He shook himself out of it and headed for the nearest door to the platform. "Pushing ahead," he declared with a more moderated voice. "Cannot see any more targets outside. The rest will be barricading by now."

He did not move out of sight yet, waiting for Grikgar's sitrep.
In a way, Yerig's eulogy crystallised the formality of their gathering. It took his speech to make everyone realise that the shock had more or less passed. They all began to reflect. Fendros waited for Sabine to say something in response, but it was clear by her soft weeping that she needed more time. He decided to step up and clear his hoarse throat.

It took him a moment of held breath to start.

"This man..." he began. "Though he was once our most dangerous enemy, hated by countless folk, some of whom are close to us...He is also the reason Sabine is alive. He is the reason we could succeed. He was ruthless and blooded, but to call him damned by us...I would not accept it. Whatever debt he incurred, it is paid. Let him rest redeemed." He brought up a fist with the Ring of Hircine on display. "May Hircine himself strike me down if it not be so." He lowered his hand and his voice. "Yerig, Sabine. Thank you for vouching for him. You saved him, just as he saved us."

With that, Fendros stepped back.

"...No..." Sabine groaned quietly. She wiped away her tears with her arm. "I wanted peace for him." She said between halted breaths. "I failed."
Steeling himself to find Do'rhajul and Yerig helped Fendros confront the silent bodies along the way. Nothing could stay their impact. He had seen death before, but never at this scale. The quietness of it, like it was a graveyard yet to be dug, it unnerved him. These were people he may have interacted with before the battle. They had given their lives willingly, and yet their deaths still widened a deadly pang of guilt in his chest. Some of the more gruesome injuries only made matters worse. He cleared his throat several times on the way up to the cliff top.

Fendros lead the way behind the scout. He could not see the rest of his group's reaction to the scattered bodies.

At least at the cliff there was a breeze animating the grass and alleviating the oppressive silence. The scene before them as they spread out to regard Yerig and Do'rhajul's body demanded no words all the same. Not without deep consideration. The kind of consideration that made their eyes burn with the reality of it.

Sabine stepped up opposite Yerig across from Do'rhajul and lowered herself to her knees. Her face a sullen frown, she slowly reached for Do'rhajul's hand. It was twice the size of her own hand, cold and calloused under the thin khajiit fur. He was not there anymore. She still tightened her fingers around it.

For a while, they all stood respectfully in the wind. It could have been for hours or minutes.

Sabine lowered her head. Tears dripped off her chin. She mumbled something quiet, swallowed by the breeze.
Yalu 'Suumko

Yalu snapped his aim around to the Kig-Yar. The distinct whistle of needlers firing prompted him to take only one shot. He went for the weakened Kig-Yar's hand. His own needle round ricocheted off the edge of the shield and into the clouds -- off-target by an inch. He would have cursed if his life was not in immediate danger. Staying still or moving forward or back would overload his shield and blow a hole in his chest. He dropped into a sprint lateral to the advancing jackals instead, leaving his autosentry to take the homing needles. As he ran around the edge of the platform, his the incline helped his speed but lost him his height advantage.

"Two Kig-Yar running! Centre!" Yalu barked between breaths in his helmet comms. He jumped to a stop behind an external support nearer to the middle of the platform and let the remaining pink needles whizz by. He looked around and spotted a dead grunt holding onto a plasma pistol. Now he cursed to himself. There was not much he could do on his own to stop the Kig-Yar. It would be down to his team mates now.

A tumult drew Yalu's attention up to Ryker rolling away from another sangheili. Yalu dropped his rifle and rolled forward, grabbing the plasma pistol as he went, and knelt with the pistol overcharged and pointing towards the enemy warrior. He let it loose to break the assailant's shield, or else give him a burn that would get Ryker out of trouble.
Sabine took the muffling of Ahnasha's embrace as the thin excuse she needed to uncontrollably weep. It was halting; she cried loudly before silencing herself and then taking strained breaths. Everyone could tell she was exhausted, and perhaps anticipated such news. She had been up on the tower with them to see Do'rhajul's sacrifice herself.

Ahansha's words brought Sabine to enough composure to return the hug. She breathed until she could breath without crying and managed to speak with a blocked nose. "I...I wish he would...could see what he did." She held her breath to stop herself crying more. "He suffered so much!"

She broke down again.

Something near a minute passed before Sabine's other surviving packmate Tarna came to the entrance of the tent. "Sabine, the healers need some advice about..." The Argonian stopped and lowered her hood to see better. Her expression lowered to sadness which spoke of her anticipating this just like Sabine. She looked at Fendros to confirm.

Fendros clasped his hands together behind his back. "Tarna," he acknowledged, not betraying any emotion of his own. "We'll go to see him shortly."

Tarna lowered her gaze. Her hand fell limp from the side of the tent entrance. "The man was strong. I had hoped..."

Sabine looked up to see Tarna. Her entire face was red.

This time, Fendros did not stay passive. He chewed his lip for a moment, then stepped over to Tarna and gently pushed her into the tent with his hand on her back. He brought her closer to Sabine. "We all hoped," Fendros said. "You'll need each other in the meantime. We shall all have time to honour him."

By this point, Sabine had stopped openly weeping, though the evidence of it would not clear for a while. She slipped away from Ahnasha's arms, giving her a nod in thanks, and turned to Tarna. The two of them hugged, gently, then tightly. Tarna closed her eyes to let her own tears fall. Tarna murmured something audible only to Sabine and Sabine nodded.

For the rest of them, the situation ran against their usual view of Sabine. She was being the strong one for someone else.

Fendros turned to lead the pack out only when he was confident they had enough time.
Yalu 'Suumko

The order came to advance. By the time Yalu stood up and was lining up to jump, the assault specialists on the team had already landed on the platform. He jumped down himself in time to see the counter attack approach against the gale wind. The power swords shone through the rain. The next millisecond and Yalu decided: covering fire.

He spread his arms and activated his autosentry module. In the space of a second, symmetrical pieces of metallic forerunner technology spiralled up to form a winged light above him. The light snapped to the nearest Sangheili warrior like an eye and opened fire. Yalu levelled his needle rifle at the other sword and sent five rounds at where its owner's chest should have been. No time for protracted duels. They needed to take after the storm and roll over this place.
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