THE PARIAH’S SONG
In Hlaalu town the Two Moons call
Though wind may blow and rain may fall
The Pariah comes ere break of day
Far over sea and mountain tall
To the mountain red where debts yet dwell
In sands beneath the dusty fell,
Through swamp and waste he comes in haste
And whither then no man can tell
With foes ahead, behind him dread,
Beneath the sky shall be his bed,
Until at last his toil be passed,
The journey done, the errand sped.
He must away! He must away!
He leaves before the break of day! *
*Poetry paraphrased from “Bilbo’s Adventure Song”, by J.R.R. Tolkien
K’thri-Dar is drifting in and out of a peaceful slumber and enjoying the delicious comfort of a soft, clean bed free of vermin. He’s luxuriating as only a true khajiit can luxuriate in a room rented with the emperor’s stolen coin. But Balmora’s Lucky Lockup Inn and Taproom cannot hide him from the beautiful, meddling busybody Lady Luck. Maybe it was the word ‘Lucky’ in the inn’s name or maybe the aura of a new khajiit in the sleeping city was enough to alert the city guard and hence the Lady. In any case, SHE was there in his room. The sun had not yet set the stars to flight, and SHE was in a hectoring mood that would brook no argument.
“A FINE TIME! A FINE TIME!” She scolds. “It’s a Sin and a Shame! You upset the emperor’s apple cart spilling apples, red, green, wormy and rotten all over Azura’s schemes and some of the consequences have rolled under the door and all you can do is snore like a drunken Orc! WELL I’M NOT HAVING IT!”
“The fine legion commander of Fort Moonmoth has a good HONEST job waiting for you (60% chance). The felonious lady tax collector at Seyda Neen has told you about a Smuggler Cave hidden just north of the Seyda Neen to Hla Oad Road (20% chance), and another Smuggler Cave on a nearby costal island (20% chance). Either one of these caves is no doubt chock full of contraband and slaves. And so mister crime fighter …”
She takes the current novel she’s reading (still Crossways by Jacey Bedford) and flips it open to the back half. The last two digits of the page number are 99.
“And there you have it Masterman K’thri -Dar. I suggest you return to the Samarys Tomb, the site of your memorable if unconventional nudity in your fight against the bonewalkers, and cast about northwards for a large island off the coast. There you will find a smelly, dirty sea cave with the name of Aharunartus waiting for your attention,”
“Uh yes ma’am your worshipfulness. THIS KHAJIIT is ever alert … YAWN … and on his way to that there Samarys feller’s tomb and to alertity and scout to … UH … seaward! ”
And to the Samarys feller’s tomb it is. But not before K’thri-Dar cashes out on the Mercantile, Speechcraft and Training activities of yesterday and reaches LEVEL 11 with Personality at 72, Strength at 44, and Willpower at 35.
There are of course the ‘usual hazards’ of Cliff Racers and Nix Hounds along the way but it’s not long before he’s standing on the shoreline and preparing to try out his newly acquired Water Walking Spell from yesterday’s training with Marayn Dren in the Mage’s Guild.
And, despite a few tries to sort out the correct over water route, K’thri-Dar glides soundlessly to the entrance to Aharunartus and becomes the ShadowMaster, the grey faced feline ghost that haunts the shadowy dens of iniquity and the deeds of the exploiters of the defenseless and weak.
And in narrow confiines of a tunnel filled with rotting strands of seaweed and windblown racer guano dust, a slaver gurgles his last, dying breath through his throat, torn open by the razor edged blades of a throwing star. The throwing stars, shurikens, complement the stealthy advance of the khajiit. There’s no TWANG of the bow cord or the SHRIEK of fletching feathers guiding the missile through the air on its trajectory to the target. A quick snap of the wrist and the lethal star speeds towards the unarmored part of the target: face, neck, a major blood vessel in an unarmored leg or arm. Where ever! Once hit the target is either dead or a stunned cripple, easy killing for the khajit’s claws or other weapon. Not even Yatur gro-Shak the barbarian Orc with a huge iron battleaxe is immune to the deadly shuriken aim of the stealthy K’thri-Dar
With the fall of the Orc, the cave was cleared of slavers. Loot scattered about in plain sight or hidden in sacks or sea chests was there for the taking. But what about the slaves? Was not freeing these victims of unwilling servitude paramount in the canon of Baan Dar, the trickster spirit of thieves and beggars?
“Don't fight if you can avoid blood or war, But if you must make War, do so with all your Heart and Might. Leave it at Threats if Threats be enough - but never make threats you are unwilling to carry to conclusion if required. Use all the arts at hand. But ever keep the true purpose in mind. Stand Tall, but never forget how to bend your knee to help another.”*
Well … yes … but bending the knee? Did not the noble and illustrious Baan Dar, the divine manifestation of the Pariah God add an amendment for dealing with Pride Mothers? His trepidation on opening the gate to the slave pen was realized almost instantaneously in a confrontation with Bahdahna, a purloined Pride Mamma of impeccable manners and an acidic logic of unyielding iron.
“You have come to return us to Baadargo the Bold, who as everyone knows, is a friend of the Khajiiti Man at the Star Dust Plantation in Black Marsh and has received much coins of the emperor’s realm for Mail Order Brides. So of course you will find our other sisters taken by that other annoying pirate who tells you he is a friend of the annoying tax lady who knows little things and wants big monies.”
“Yes, yes, you find Baadargo. You are the “Thousand Eyes and Ears’ and you know how to get the finer things in life. We like the finer things in life. Rescue our other sisters and find us a boat to take us to the Khajiit Man at Star Dust so we will be fine wives and make fine things with the monies that the khajiiti men paid Baadargo.”
The plunder from this crusty salt and guano blessed cavern is paltry except for a single Great Soul Gem that was empty. The last thing THIS ONE needs is the onus laid on by Bahdahna. But an onus … especially one from a Pride Mother is … well … the wheels of khajiiti fortune are complex and greased with liberal globs of irony … best not to blow it off. But Baadargo? Yes the same Baadargo that K’thri-Dar freed from slavery in Addamasartus Cave near Seyda Neen in the last chapter. Well where is he now? Best perhaps to find the abolitionists and let Baadargo live up to HIS obligations … whatever they might be.
He checks his Local Map. It shows that this ‘tight little island’ also contains the Sarys Ancestral Tomb. Now that might well be worth looking into. If he can collect some spell scrolls of Fphyggi‘s to feed the Greater Soul Gem , he might be able to snare one of the undead creatures guarding the tomb. Yeah! There are big, big delicious gold dragon coins to be had for filled soul gems. That’s lots of SUGAR from the right people here in the barbaric north. PURrrr!
He marks his spot with a Potion of Marking and uses an Almsivi Intervention Scroll to teleport to the Temple in Balmora. It doesn’t take long to upgrade his inventory and return to pay his respects to the Sarys ancestors residing in the crumbling halls of the ancient tomb.
Skeleton champions roam the halls and antechambers but K’thri-Dar does not deign to engage in plebian brawling. His Eye of Night keeps the target well lit and the quick throw and speedy reload means the boney suckers barely have time to set up a swing with their silver long swords and claymores.
He finds a prize worth more than Emeralds in an ancestor worship chapel. There next to a Shrine of St. Veloth, is a pulpit containing a copy of “The Book Of Rest And Endings.” A powerful weapon to force the ‘Wrathmen’ spirits and other undead back into their graves. He reads and memorizes the ritual and for as long as he has this book in his inventory he receives a 50 point reduction in game difficulty against the undead abominations in the Dunmer Ancestral Tombs.**
And last but not the least, confronting a Bonelord with Fphyggi’s Egg Feeder and silver throwing stars in the innermost burial chamber.
It was done then, the banishment of the guardians and undead intruders. The moldering passageways and silent altars with their silent lines of urns and ashes, did anyone still know or long remember the nobility that once lived and breathed and contested some forgotten deed before coming to this resting place? Not he, K’thri-Dar, the khajiit, the blessed one of the Pariah spirit. The trickster, the conjurer of last minute desperate last minute plans to foil the schemes of those who would use him for their own selfish ends.
And let the closing words of the last sentence above be a warning to both the Emperor and Azura. Until next time, listen carefully to the wind and perhaps you will hear the incredibly rich, baritone laughter of the great Pariah Spirit in the Sky!!
*Quote from “The First Scroll of Baan Dar” by Arkan, Scribe of Daggerfall, in the collection of the Imperial Library
**A game rule implied by the book’s text and employed in this fan fiction