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16 First Seed 4E 200

Gazes had underestimated their pace. J’Khasha judged, by the sun’s position, that it wasn’t even eleven when they walked through Bruma’s east gate.  Bruma was often called “a little piece of Skyrim in Cyrodiil”, and it showed. The buildings, with the exception of the chapel and castle of course, were built of logs from the evergreen forest surrounding the city, and were partially underground to insulate heat. And there were Nords everywhere.

It was cold. J’Khasha was glad he chose to put on his timber wolf fur cape back at camp, even without the new bald spots on his shoulder, he would have been chilled otherwise. J’Khasha and Gazes had only been here a few times before, and that was in the summer months when it was relatively mild. But now in First Seed, there was still a good two feet of snow on the ground. J’Khasha’s cousin Ma’Seraad would have been thrilled to be there, he absolutely loved snow. He wrapped his tail around his waist in an effort to warm it, and pulled up his hood to protect his ears from the bracing north wind, and saw Tsaravi had done the same.

Oddly enough, J’Khasha’s Argonian friend Gazes-At-Stars seemed to be the only one in the group not bothered by the cold. Indeed, if anything, he seemed oddly invigorated by it. J’Khasha hadn’t seen him like this in months. Gazes took a deep breath, and let it out with a contented sigh before turning to face the others. “I know we’re here earlier than I anticipated, but I still think we should stay the night here as planned. This will be our last chance to sleep in real beds for at least a week, and we should take advantage of that. It’s also our best chance to resupply before venturing into the mountains.”

They all agreed wholeheartedly. “And where shall we stay, may I ask?” Gaius said.

J’Khasha turned to face him. “There’s an inn where Gazes and I stay when we’re working around Bruma, the Jerall View Inn. It doesn’t hold a candle, or even a match for that matter, to the Oak and Crosier, but it has its charm.”

Tsaravi blew into her hands to warm them. “As long as it has a warm fire and warm mead, Tsaravi would be happy in a shack!” She said with a grin that J’Khasha couldn’t help but return.

“My thoughts exactly!” J’Khasha said. “But let’s try the inn first.”

They walked up the street, passing the Chapel of the Eight, formerly the Chapel of Talos until the White Gold Concordat outlawed his worship. The statue of Talos, also known as Tiber Septim, had been replaced with a statue of Akatosh in his dragon form, much like the massive statue that stood in the Imperial City’s ruined Temple District. As a worshipper of the Khajiiti pantheon and follower of the Riddle’Thar, J’Khasha didn’t care one bit about the Divines or Talos, seeing them as cheap imitations of the real things, and a thinly veiled political ploy to curry favor with the old Septim dynasty. But he had a couple of Nord friends back in Chorrol who’d often get their breeches in a knot over it, and he learned to just nod and smile politely when they went on a rant about the ban.

They walked up a flight of stone stairs to the city’s third level, where their destination, the Jerall View Inn, as well as the city’s upper-class housing was located. Inside, the inn was nice and warm, J’Khasha could uncoil his tail and lower his hood. At this time of day, the inn was devoid of patrons, save for an elderly couple sharing a late breakfast. Behind the bar was a rather plump Nord woman, J’Khasha recognized her as the owner, Magda. Upon seeing the foursome walk through her door, Magda put on a huge smile. “Well, well, well! Look what the you dragged in!” She said, pointing at J’Khasha. “The Adventurers for Hire! Those new members?”

“Hello Magda!” J’Khasha said joyfully. “They’re clients, hired us to take them to Skyrim.”

Magda looked past J’Khasha to Tsaravi and Gaius. “Well, you two coul’nae made a finer choice! These two helped me an’ my little girl out of a real mess a few months back, an’ no one could’a done it better!”

J’Khasha sat down at the bar. “And how is Helga?”

“Oh, she’s doin’ wonderful!” Magda said with a warm smile. “She’s due next month, an’ so much happier with Bjorn back in her life. Thanks so much for knockin’ some sense in the fool! Y’know they wanna name the baby after you if it’s a boy?”

J’Khasha had to stifle a laugh at the idea that one day, there would be a Nord with a Khajiit name running around. “Bjorn just needed some help out of a difficult situation, and a small push back in the right direction. And if they’re still looking for girl names, Khayshara is the feminine version of my name.”

“That’s pretty!” Magda said. “I’ll make sure to tell them. So, what can I do for you?”

Gazes sat next to J’Khasha. “We’d like a couple of rooms for the night.” Gazes said. “We’re headed into the Jeralls tomorrow, and this’ll be our last chance to sleep with a roof over our heads for a good long while.”

Magda pulled out a thick ledger from behind the bar and set it down with a thump. She opened it to a page marked with a blue ribbon, and ran her finger down the page. “Ah, you boys are in luck! I have exactly two rooms available, but you and your companions will have to share beds.”

J’Khasha placed one hundred Septims on the bar, and pushed them to Magda. “That’s no problem, we’re just happy to be warm and dry tonight.”

Magda took half the stacks of coins and pushed the rest back to J’Khasha. “After everything you boys did for me an’ my kin, room and board’s half-off for life!” She pulled out two iron rings, each with two keys, and a small piece of wood with a number burned into it hanging from them. “Here you are. Come back in an hour, the maid should have your rooms ready by then.”

J’Khasha took the key rings, and saw they were for rooms two and three. “Thank you, Magda.” He and Gazes walked back to Gaius and Tsaravi, J’Khasha handed them the number three ring, then gave Gazes the other key from the number two ring. “Everything’s all set. Our rooms are downstairs, and should be ready in an hour. Until then, this is a good opportunity to get fresh supplies.”

Gaius handed Tsaravi the other key. “I’m going to stay here and see about getting lunch first.”

“Would it be alright if Tsaravi accompanied you J’Khasha?” Tsaravi asked.

J’Khasha was eager to spend more time with this young lovely, but he didn’t want to seem over anxious, so he tried to answer in a calm, eloquent manner. “Oh, yes absolutely I’d be delighted to have you come along the more the merrier they say whoever ‘they’ are you know!” He rapidly spat out. Gazes looked at J’Khasha as though he had suddenly sprouted antlers out of his ears. J’Khasha mentally chastised himself. ‘Gods, what is wrong with me?’

Tsaravi chuckled lightly. “Tsaravi heard a ‘yes’ in their somewhere, lead on.”

They left the inn and headed back to the city’s first level, where the general store was located. Tsaravi walked next to J’Khasha while Gazes walked behind them, maintaining a slightly slower pace than them, so that by the time J’Khasha noticed, Gazes was almost ten feet behind, leaving J’Khasha and Tsaravi alone together. “So,” Tsaravi said. “what was this ‘mess’ you got Magda and her daughter out of?”

“It was nothing.” J’Khasha said. “Her daughter Helga became involved with a boy named Bjorn, and Helga fell pregnant. When Bjorn found out, he panicked and ran away, and somehow got it in his fool head to join a bandit gang. Magda hired us to bring him back, kicking and screaming if necessary. We tracked him to an old fort near Bruma. But it wasn’t a bandit hideout anymore, the place had been completely overrun with necromancers! The fool got himself captured thinking bandits still ran the place. We dealt with the necromancers, and saved the fool just as they were going to kill him and harvest his soul, and maybe raise his corpse. He was so grateful, he came with us without a fuss, and he learned there are far more terrifying fates than fatherhood. As soon as we got back to Bruma, he and Helga got married.”

“Gods, no wonder they’re naming their cub after you!” Tsaravi said. “What did Magda mean by ‘look what the you dragged in’?”

J’Khasha chuckled mirthlessly. “There’s an old saying, ‘look what the cat dragged in’, I’m a Khajiit, so I’m the ‘cat’. I let it slide because she means it in an affectionate way.”

They reached the general store, the “Bursting Barrel”. Inside, there were rows of tables with all manner of items for purchase. From everyday household objects, like pots and pans, to gear only an adventurer would appreciate, such as potions, lock picks, even a soul gem or two. A young Nord man was sitting behind the counter, and quickly stood up at the sight of J’Khasha and the others. “Ah, a trio of adventurers! Come, take a look around, I have plenty of stock that should interest you!”

While Gazes and Tsaravi took a look around, J’Khasha walked up to the Nord. “Do you have any maps of the Jerall Mountains, specifically Pale Pass and any other route into Skyrim?”

The shopkeeper began reaching around under the counter. “Oh, I have several good maps to choose from.” He pulled one out and spread it out on the counter. “But this one may suit your needs the most. It has several color-coded routes, black is the safest and everyone uses, but it’s also the longest, blue is confirmed shortcuts, but they’re not quite safe, while red is for unconfirmed shortcuts, known only through rumor, and very dangerous. There’s also landmarks and points of interest labeled. Fifty Septims.”

J’Khahsa felt that was a more than fair price and paid the man. He joined Tsaravi and Gazes in their browsing. Tsaravi was carefully examining a mortar and pestle at a table cluttered with alchemical equipment. J’Khasha smacked himself in the forehead, suddenly remembering he had forgotten to pack his. So he walked up next to Tsaravi, and checked out the other mortar and pestle sets on the table, tail twitching in agitation at making such a simple mistake.

Tsaravi looked over to J’Khasha. “You have an interest in alchemy as well?”

J’Khasha stilled his tail. “Well, insomuch as it can help with my profession. You’d be amazed at how many problems nightshade mixed with lotus seeds can solve.”

“Oh, you make poisons?” Tsaravi asked.

J’Khasha found a crack in the set he was looking at, so he set it down and picked up a new one. “Yes, though sometimes I dabble in more beneficial mixes, poisons are my specialty. You don’t have a problem with that, do you? I’ve found most people are uncomfortable with it.”

“Of course, not.” Tsaravi said. “Tsaravi focuses on restorative brews, but recognizes it’s just one side of a single coin. You can’t accept one without the other.”

“Yes, exactly!” J’Khasha said enthusiastically. “Not many people see that. They learn I make poisons and think I’m evil or a coward.”

“Tsaravi doesn’t think you’re an evil coward.” Tsaravi said. “A coward wouldn’t have fought that bear. And someone evil wouldn’t have given this one half his Moon Sugar.”

“Thank you.” J’Khasha said. They continued their shopping, Tsaravi picked up the soul gems and some magicka potions. J’Khasha grabbed a box of lock picks as well as some salt. Gazes also bought some magicka potions.

Their next stop was the grocer. They bought enough food to hopefully last through the Jeralls. It would be quite a while before they’d have an opportunity to resupply, so they only bought food that would last a good long while, mostly vegetables with some salted meat in case hunting proved difficult.

Outside, Gazes readjusted his now heavier pack. “Our rooms are probably ready by now. We can head back to drop off our packs and grab some lunch.”

“This one would certainly like that!” Tsaravi said.

J’Khasha was eager to get the weight of his pack off his back, and eat a meal he didn’t have to prepare himself, but there was one more task he wanted to complete. “You two go on ahead, I’ll catch up later, there’s something personal I have to attend to.”

“Ah, yes, I nearly forgot.” Gazes said. “See you later then.”

Tsaravi was more concerned. “Are you alright? Do you need help?”

“It’s nothing bad.” J’Khasha said. “Just something I feel I need to do whenever I’m in Bruma. As I said, I’ll be back shortly.”

Gazes and Tsaravi headed back to the inn, while J’Khasha went in the opposite direction towards the north gate. Even though it was still below freezing, it had warmed up considerably since they arrived that morning, so much so that J’Khasha no longer felt the need to keep his tail wrapped around his waist or his hood up. He walked past a group of children playing in the snow, throwing snowballs at each other from behind fortifications of snow. He smiled and chuckled to himself, remembering that less than a month earlier, he was playing such games with his cousins.

The children spotted J’Khasha and immediately stopped their game, clearly surprised and perhaps a little bit scared of this newcomer, he was most likely the first Khajiit any of them had ever seen in person. They stared at each other for a moment, just as J’Khasha was about to move on, the youngest of them, a little girl not much older than his cousin Ma’Seraad ran up to him, to the protest of her friends. “Hi!” She said cheerfully with a big grin. “Are you a Kajit?”

J’Khasha had to laugh at the forwardness of this little girl, and the mispronunciation of his race. “Well hello yourself! And yes, I am a Khajiit.” He said, putting great emphasis on the proper pronunciation of his race. He held out his hand. “The name’s J’Khasha.”

She shook his hand vigorously, or at least tried to as her hand was half the size of his. “Wow! I never met a Ka-jeet before! Your fur is so soft and warm! What’s it like to have a tail? Is it true you only eat sugar? Those are neat knives! Are you an adventurer? My daddy’s an adventurer! Do you know him?” She was speaking quite rapidly. Before J’Khasha could answer a question, she’d ask another!

After a minute of this, a Nord woman came out of a nearby house. “Greta! Leave that man alone! I told you not to talk to strangers! Get back in the house this instant!”

“But Mama-!” Greta said.

“Now!” The woman said. Greta gave a sad wave, hung her head low, and walked back to her house. The woman walked up to J’Khasha. “I’m sorry about that. My Greta can become a little overenthusiastic about meeting new people.”

J’Khasha had expected to get a good talking to, and was surprised this woman was apologizing to him. “It was no trouble at all. She kind of reminds me of my cousin, he too can be a little too friendly with strangers. I’m sorry if I got her in trouble.”

“You didn’t, she did.” The woman said. “And don’t worry, I’m only going to give her a stern talking to. Good day.” She went back into her house, and J’Khasha continued on his way.

A short while later, J’Khasha reached his destination, a large statue of an Imperial man in his early twenties. He was shown wearing heavy armor. In his right hand, he held a great sword planted in the ground. In his left, a sphere J’Khasha understood to be a “Great Sigil Stone”, the power source for the Daedric Siege Engine that nearly destroyed Bruma at the end of the Oblivion Crisis. This was Nero Leonidas, the Hero of Kvatch, the Savior of Bruma, friend of Martin Septim, and the Champion of Cyrodiil. It was a well-known legend in Chorrol that the Champion often stayed at the Oak and Crosier during his adventures, but there was another part of the legend that was only known to J’Khasha’s family. A part that suggested the Champion would stay there for more than the luxurious accommodations. A part that, if true, would have significant implications for J’Khasha’s heritage.

J’Khasha stepped up to the statue and knelt before it in reverence as was customary. Just as when he visited the statue before, there were several offerings that had been left at the base, out of respect for the Champion, and for luck. There were low-quality weapons and armor that one wouldn’t mind parting with, a couple of health potions, and even a Welkynd Stone, a powerful Ayleid artifact. J’Khasha looked up to the statue. ‘Long before you were the Champion, you were a mercenary and adventurer like me. Things are nice, but I know what you really want.’ He left ten Septims at the base. ‘Wish me luck on my journey.’ He stood up, and returned to the inn.

Later that evening, J’Khasha, Gazes, Tsaravi, and Gaius got together for dinner in the inn’s main hall. As they ate their meals, they exchanged stories of their past adventures. Tsaravi was telling a rather humorous story from her time at the Ayleid ruin Moranda, of when she volunteered to be the test subject for her fellow hedge-mage’s ambitious experimental spells. “Your serious?” J’Khasha said with a laugh. “She actually turned you into a mermaid!”

Tsaravi chuckled at the memory. “Mermaid is a bit of an exaggeration. Tsaravi’s hands and feet turned into fins, fish scales covered her entire body, and gills opened up on this one’s neck! Tsaravi laughs about it now, since it turned out all right, but that was a truly frightening experience, especially since this one could no longer breathe air!”

“Well clearly she was able to turn you back.” Gazes said.

Tsaravi laughed mirthlessly. “No, she wasn’t. While Tsaravi was keeping her head submerged in a tub of water to keep from ‘air drowning’, that ambitious fool kept casting spell after spell on this one to no avail. Fortunately, Gaius walked in on the mess and was able to help out. He was always the most powerful among us, so he was able to work a solution quite quickly. This one cannot properly express how relieved she was to be back to normal. Unfortunately, this did leave Tsaravi completely bald!”

J’Khasha nearly choked on his ale. “No!”

Gaius laughed heartily. “Oh, yes! For nearly two months afterward, she looked like one of those hairless Sphynx cats!” Tsaravi covered her face in embarrassment as Gaius continued. “That’s how I learned that Khajiiti fur patterns are on their skin as well.”

Tsaravi shook her head at Gaius. “Tsaravi still has no idea how you furless ones manage it. Every day for those two months, this one was certain she would catch her death of cold!”

Just then, the inn’s doors opened, and J’Khasha saw two familiar figures walk through. “Oh, damn it! Why today, of all days!”

“What’s wrong?” Tsaravi asked as she turned around to see what upset J’Khasha so much. One of the newcomers was a rather large Nord man with fiery red hair, kept in a tight ponytail and long bushy beard that went down to his chest. He was wearing a full set of iron armor, and was armed with a war axe and shield, and a hunting bow. His companion was a Bosmer with blond hair kept in a warrior’s stripe. He was wearing leather armor, and armed with an ebony bow, and a sword of elven make. J’Khasha recognized them as Odin Hammer-Hand, and his idiot pal Glaugluin, or Glue as Odin called him.

“Guess who’s back everybody?” Odin bellowed as he took off his helmet.

“ODIN!!” The other patrons shouted.

“Ha! Another tie! Guess no one gets a prize this time!” Odin said to the laughter of all but J’Khasha and Gazes.

“How’s life treatin’ ya Hammer-Hand?” Magda asked with a smile.

“Like I made a fat joke about his mom!” Odin said as he walked up to the bar. “Give us mead and roast goat!” He turned and faced J’Khasha. “Hey, Glue! Look who it is! J’Khasha and Gazes-At-Stars!” He walked up to their table and gave J’Khasha a loud slap on the back, knocking the wind out of J’Khasha, as well as causing him to spill his drink and drop the last bit of his meat pie on the floor. “So, what brings the Adventurers for Hire to Bruma? Did you reconsider my idea?”

J’Khasha wiped the ale off his vest. “We’re here on a job Odin. And our answer’s still no.”

Odin knelt down to be eye level with J’Khasha. “Oh, come on! This could easily make us a lot of money! With the Adventurers for Hire name and our skill, we could really clean up fast! Plus, you wouldn’t have to work around Bruma anymore, which I know you hate. And we’d give you twenty percent of our payout, so you could sit back and just make money!”

“Yes,” J’Khasha said. “and if it works here, we’ll try it in Kvatch, and Skingrad, and so on until there’s an Adventurers for Hire branch in every city in Cyrodiil. Then they’ll charge their clients an extra twenty percent to make up what they pay us, then before we know it, Cyrodiil has two Fighters Guilds, and the one is already more trouble than it’s worth. So, I say again, no.”

Odin stood up, disappointment etched on his face. “Come on Glue. Let’s go eat.” They walked off to the far side of the hall.

Gaius watched them leave. “What in Oblivion was that about?”

“Don’t worry about it.” Gazes said. “Those two have some crazy idea about franchising the Adventurers for Hire. I’m against it because I think they just want to ride the coattails of our renown, and J’Khasha thinks we’ll become snobby and elitist like the Fighters Guild has become.”

J’Khasha finished off his ale. “Every so often, we run into them and they pester us about it. The conversation pretty much goes the way you saw each time. Another benefit of going to Skyrim, we won’t have to deal with them for a while.”

They finished their meals and retired to their rooms for the night. J’Khasha stripped down to just his shirt and under garment, while Gazes was down to his pants. They both settled into the double bed, neither minding having to share. Within ten minutes, Gazes began hissing softly, which J’Khasha knew meant he had already fallen asleep. For as long as he could remember, J’Khasha always had great difficulty getting to sleep, so he knew it would be a while before he drifted off himself.

A short while later, Gazes began mumbling in his sleep. “No…no…get away…don’t touch her…stay away from her…bastards…get away bastards…” Gazes’ mother, Keeshein, had warned J’Khasha about this before they left Chorrol. Gazes had been plagued by nightmares, ever since necromancers murdered his girlfriend and her family, and he arrived just too late to save her. Wasn’t it bad enough that it happened? Now he has to relive it in his sleep? J’Khasha said a silent prayer to S’Rendarr, the god of mercy, that this trip to Skyrim gives his friend the healing he needs. Not long after, J’Khasha too drifted off to sleep.

To be continued…
DISCLAIMER: This work of fan fiction is for my enjoyment, and the enjoyment of others. I seek NO financial gain for this.

The world of Elder Scrolls belongs to Bethesda.

All OCs belong to me.

Here's part 4.

Here we get to see little glimpses into their pasts, and J'Khasha's possible connection to my Oblivion character is hinted at.

Part 3:

Part 5:
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March 3
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