After a good, hearty breakfast, we made our way to see Erid’or.
- Wulf: Good morning to you, Erid’or.
- Erid’or: This one welcomes Dovahkiin and Bruma Den Mother.
- Rigmor: You did not share the meal with us last night.
- Erid’or: This one was researching the problem Khajiit hopes you can resolve.
- Wulf: What is your role within this rebel group?
- Erid’or: This one is a priest of Baan Dar, explorer and a famous expert in all matters of spirit and magic.
- Wulf: Baan Dar is an appropriate god to learn from when combatting oppressors.
- Erid’or: You know of him?
- Wulf: I have spent many days studying the gods worshipped on Nirn.
- Erid’or: The Dovahkiin does not argue that The Nine are the only true gods?
- Wulf: Not at all. It is my duty to protect all mortals, and I respect all true gods and religions.
- Erid’or: Ah, if only the Thalmor were as wise.
- Wulf: Have you visited the Five Fingers Dance?
- Erid’or: Only once has this one travelled to Thormar to participate in Baan Dar’s Boast and been noticed. Khajiit pranks that year were legendary, and the Wood Elves were soundly thrashed. Baan Dar does not always invite the winners to his realm, but that year he did.
- Wulf: I have heard it is beautiful. A vast forest full of food and music, and festivities.
- Erid’or: It is much like Jodewood, where the ruins of Thormar lie. It is stunning, and the sheer joy of those participating in the feasting and eternal celebration of life is a memory this one will always cherish.
- Rigmor: Wulf, at High Hrothgar, you sang a song for me about two young Khajiit and their wonderful sense of freedom.
- Erid’or: Was it ‘Val Vijah Va Rhook, Baandari’?
- Rigmor: That was it. Does it have something to do with Baan Dar?
- Wulf: Yes. Many Khajiit caravans are owned by Baandari Pedlars.
- Erid’or: The Baandari Pedlars live by the Baandari Code. Unfortunately, that makes Khajiit unwanted in many places.
- Wulf: Basically, the code says anything that is not in possession of somebody can be ‘salvaged’. Other people call that theft. They also provide services as seers or fortune-tellers. They are not acolytes of Azura and do not have foresight.
- Erid’or: But Baandari must tell paying clients what they want to hear. The client must walk away satisfied.
- Rigmor: People pay them to give false prophecy?
- Erid’or: It is very profitable!
- Wulf: They also stretch the truth a little when bargaining. It does not matter how poorly made a product is or what wretched condition it is in the Bandaari Pedlar’s patter will make it seem terrific value and highly versatile.
- Erid’or: It is like the pranks that Baan Dar enjoys. There is great skill in such bargaining.
- Rigmor: They steal and lie?
- Wulf: It is a matter of perspective. They are doing what pleases their chosen deity. Some parts of Tamriel are more tolerant of their ways, and customers are aware of their methods. But still, they flock to deal with them.
- Rigor: Is Ri’saad a Baandari Pedlar?
- Wulf: No. Nords are not very forgiving of their ways. Unfortunately, the Baandari Pedlars’ reputation is used as a generalisation for all Khajiit amongst the ignorant. Hence the, thankfully defunct habit of forcing them to trade outside of city walls in Skyrim.
- Erid’or: Dovahkiin, I believe you are responsible for that change in Skyrim.
- Kharjo: The Dovahkiin has worked hard to stop prejudice and aid Khajiit where he can.
- Erid’or: Is this why Azura made Dovahkiin her champion?
- Wulf: No, but that is a long story that will have to wait for another day.
- Ashni: Azura named Rigmor her celestial daughter!
- Erid’or: So, the Den Mother is also favoured by Azura! We hear of the incredible things achieved, and I am not surprised that gods take notice.
- Wulf: Erid’or, did you ever have an apprentice?
- Erid’or: Yes. He left me to pursue different knowledge in Skyrim.
- Wulf: Is his name J’zargo?
- Erid’or: Ah, have you met him?
- Wulf: I am the Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold. J’zargo has a reputation for pocketing small magical items. They were going to dismiss him from the College, but I explained why he ‘salvages’ things. Since they tolerate all other religious beliefs, they could not expel him for his. But thievery is not to be encouraged, so some penalties have been given to J’zargo.
- Erid’or: Something to dent J’zargo’s colossal ego, this one hopes.
- Wulf: He is now an expert on cleaning the College’s privies! He has to do so without using Magicka and no dweomer to protect against the lovely fragrances encountered.
- Erid’or: Oh, this one would love to hear the complaints! And this punishment has worked?
- Wulf: Yes, and I am pleased. J’zargo shows tremendous promise, especially in the School of Destruction.
- Erid’or: At first, I was angry, but that one was right. Khajiit need to combine the wisdom of our ancestors with the newer magics of Man and Mer. This one feels great pride in the compliments for J’zargo.
- Wulf: Rigmor, I suggest you read ‘The First Scroll of Baan Dar’. It will help you understand the most crucial lesson of Baan Dar.
- Erid’or: The proper way to repay a favour is not to. Pass it on instead.
- Rigmor: That is wonderful! If only more people adopted that attitude, the world would be a far better place.
- Wulf: Erid’or, can you describe the problem in the Cathedral and how we might help?
- Erid’or: The Pahmar told this one that a Sload had been spotted in the Cathedral. Erid’or went to investigate, but it was perilous. This one needs to know more so he can plan a solution.
- Wulf: Of all the intelligent species on Nirn, they are the least liked. They have no morals or empathy and are smelly, ugly and evil beyond words. We will investigate the Sload for you.
- Erid’or: You understand, yes? Few remember the First Era. The Sload of Thras, masters of the dark arts, necromancers unparalleled! Soft, slimy and wet but very dangerous.
- Rigmor: I recall little about what I was taught about them.
- Wulf: Their invasions of Tamriel are infamous. After many defeats, they created the Thrassian Plague. It would make victims drink until they were bloated like the Sload and that caused the deaths of more than fifty per cent of the population! Only when all of the nations of Tamriel combined to create a single navy were they finally subdued.
- Rigmor: One in two people died? That is horrific!
- Erid’or: The Sload cities, armies and navies were destroyed. They used magic to sink their island to prevent their annihilation. It was a surprise when they returned to the surface. It is a bigger surprise to find one interfering with Elsweyr!
- Wulf: It is claimed they never forget a single thing.
- Erid’or: Any Sload that knows the history of the All Flags Navy will be full of anger.
- Wulf: The Sload would be idiots to seek revenge. Any attack on another country would result in a backlash far more significant than they experienced in the past.
- Rigmor: Where do we go? To whom do we speak?
- Erid’or: Go to the Tenmar Cathedral. Silkskin has tracked the abomination and can tell you more. Be vigilant, Den Mother and Son of Akatosh. Sload are very, very tricky!
- Wulf: We have a priest of Baan Dar on our side!
- Ashni: Surely Erid’or is trickier than a slug?
- Erid’or: To receive Erdi’or’s wisdom, my friends must return alive, yes?
- Rigmor: How do we get to Tenmar Cathedral?
- Erid’or: Climb those steps. At the top, there is a trapdoor. It is a shortcut.
Erid’or pointed to a steep set of stone steps.
We climbed them then Rigmor asked, “What exactly is the Tenmar Cathedral?”
“It is a natural burial ground. The dead are not entombed like in a Hall of the Dead.”
“And this Sload is desecrating it?”
“Yes. It is another example of their total lack of empathy. Don’t be surprised if the Sload is here for purely selfish and shallow reasons.”
We climbed the ladder and through the trapdoor.
I could tell more than one of my companions was confused, but spiders attacked us before they could ask questions.
A huge Jungle Queen tried to run away, and Meeko pursued it with vigour.
For the second time in two days, Meeko was paralysed by Jungle Queen venom.
I killed the Jungle Queen in seconds. That is all the time Meeko needed to recover fully. He got up, shook his head and then attacked a large Zahilisk.
Meeko ripped its throat out with a single bite.
Rigmor laughed then commented, “Meeko might be half-dragon as well. He can get furious at times!”
“Jungle Queen like to dissolve and suck up the flesh of living prey. Their poison does not kill but paralyses. I have not put any dweomer on Meeko to protect against poison. If he were a normal dog, he would be paralysed for hours. Yet he recovers in seconds!”
As Rigmor and I talked, two more Zahilisk attacked a mooncow. Before I could even knock an arrow, Meeko once again killed with a single bite. I killed the smaller one.
We heard a Pahmar roaring, so we headed in that direction. It did not take long to find Silkskin.
- Wulf: You are Silkskin?
- Silkskin: Yes. I detected your presence and called you to me.
- Rigmor: We are honoured to meet another of the Pahmar.
- Silkskin: As this one is honoured to meet Den Mother and Dovahkiin.
- Wulf: You have an affinity for what creatures roam the Cathedral?
- Silkskin: This one guards the Cathedral and knows what lives here. That is how Sload was detected. Now we hunt it together, yes?
- Wulf: Of course. Where is it hiding?
- Rigmor: Why do you call the Sload it? Do you not know its gender?
- Silkskin: It is both.
- Rigmor: Huh?
- Wulf: They have both sets of bits till they reach a certain age, and then all genitalia is absorbed back into their stinky, blubbery body. They are massive creatures but start as small wriggly worm type things the size of your thumb.
- Rigmor: How repulsive are they?
- Wulf: Think of Delphine with three hundred pounds added.
- Rigmor: Ugh!
- Silkskin: You do not need the hunter senses of a Pahmar to track their scent. A rock could probably smell them. It is underneath our ancestor’s burial site, deeper in the Cathedral northeast of here. I cannot go there in anger. Dovahkiin must deal with the Sload. Khajiit dead should be protected against its foul use of necromancy, but it probably brought some undead with it.
- Kharjo: Shouldn’t we all enter the crypt to help deal with it?
- Wulf: Not until I determine its intentions. My blood and soul provide natural protection against many things, including Blood Magic and most poisons. An angry Sload can generate gases that can kill or incapacitate. The dweomer I have placed on your armour is no guarantee against them.
- Silkskin: The Thrassian Plague affected all sentient beings except for Sload and Dov. The small crypt in which the Sload resides could prove deadly to others if the Sload emits its gas.
- Rigmor: It couldn’t be worse than sitting in a room with Sethri!
- Silkskin: That one is an acolyte of Azura, yes?
- Rigmor: You have heard of him?
- Silkskin: When Emissary Dar mentions that one, the language is colourful!
- Rigmor: Whilst many would be embarrassed, Sethri would regard that as a compliment.
- Wulf: The Sentinels and Rigmor will accompany me to the burial site but will remain outside the crypt.
- Silkskin: That is wise.
- Wulf: I will not use destructive spells or Thu’um within the crypt. Please do not be concerned about desecration or damage on my part.
- Silkskin: Be cautious, Dovahkiin. The Sload may make you angry.
- Wulf: I will tell my Dovah to behave.
As we headed for the burial grounds and crypt, we encountered some Zahilisk attacking a mooncow.
We quickly dispensed with them, and then I asked Rigmor, “Do you see anything unusual?”
“Apart from a weirdo Dragonborn, there is a mammoth skeleton.”
“I did not think they existed in Elsweyr.”
“Well, we haven’t seen a living one!”
We arrive at the burials, and dozens of graves could be seen in the distance. There were a few on a small island. The entrance to the crypt was next to them.
I turned to the others.
- Wulf: I am going to talk with the Sload. No matter my dislike for the species, it is not responsible for the sins of its predecessors.
- Rigmor: I will wait thirty minutes and not a second more. If you are not back by then, I will come and get you!
- Wulf: Unless I enter a different plane, you can use your ring to determine my health.
- Rigmor: Oh… sometimes I forget. The connection is always in the background, and I have got used to it being there.
- Wulf: I know. It was intrusive when we first had them.
- Kharjo: Is that one going to answer the question?
- Wulf: Oh, and what question would that be?
- Rigmor: We left the water and climbed some steep steps. Then we climbed up a ladder and went through a trapdoor. Yet we are still surrounded by water! How can that be?
- Wulf: The trapdoor was a portal. We could be many miles away from Erid’or and the other Khajiit. It does not mean we are any higher or lower.
- Rigmor: Did we go through the ethereal plane?
- Wulf: No, it is more like a doorway. When you were partway through the trapdoor, your body was in two places at once. It is similar to being in two rooms as you step through a door.
- Kharjo: This one thinks it was wrong to ask the question.
- Rigmor: I agree with Kharjo. That is disturbing!
- Wulf: Portals can be used as weapons. If a person is partially through and the portal closes, they would be cut in two.
- Rigmor: That is even more disturbing!
- Kharjo: Now this one knows it was wrong to ask the question.
- Wulf: You can all contemplate the gruesomeness while I speak to the Sload!
- Rigmor: Weirdo!
Upon entering the tomb, I was assailed by an overpowering stench. Not decay, flatulent or sewerage. It is so unique the smell has the same name as its origin. It is Sload.
I travelled down a few short corridors before encountering the Sload in the crypt’s ceremonial chamber.
The Sload had summoned two black skeletons wearing first era Imperial armour. I had seen similar inside Meridia’s Temple.
I approached the Sload and asked, “Who are you, and why do you defile this sacred place?”
In a deep voice that consisted of many disturbing gurgling sounds, it answered, “Malseka! Malsato! I am the magnificent! And you are insignificant. Bow now, hairy one, and you may yet survive the first course. Malsato! Malsata! I am hungry, and the dinner is served.”
“You dare you to tell me to bow! Gods have demanded such and got the same reply which is, ‘Go fuck yourself!’ You used to be able to do that when younger, so I believe. Keep being rude and I will pour salt on you and watch you writhe in agony.”
“I have spent fifty years planning this excursion and am insanely hungry! I will eat all in this forest! And you will serve me my dinner, little one!”
“And how are you going to make me do this? Will you threaten to breathe on me? Can you fart? Please tell me you can’t fart!”
“Insignificant servant! Disobey me, slave, and I will release a disease worse than the Thrassian Plague! Malsano! Malsatego! Kvakvakva!”
That last word sounded like it was clearing its throat! I decided to play nice since I suspected the threat was not hollow. Sload were known to use dweomer that trigger distant spells upon their death. Slicing open its belly was not an option, but I could still have some fun by making it burst with anticipation.
“Forgive me, Malsato the Magnificent! For you, I shall prepare a meal both artisanal and raw. The mouthfeel is superb, and everything will be oh so delish. Unctuous and succulent yet piquant and moist. Redolent with juices worth quaffing.”
Deep rumbling emanated from its stomach, and strings of drool reached from its foul mouth to the shallow water below. My stomach wanted to remove my breakfast in protest. I quickly exited the crypt as I craved the gloriously fresh air of the waterways.
- Rigmor: You look rather green around the gills.
- Wulf: Imagine Sethri after eating bowls of broccoli, cabbage and beans.
- Rigmor: Was it that bad?
- Wulf: A million times worse!
- Kharjo: The Sload still lives?
- Wulf: Yes. Let us hurry back to Erid’or, and I will explain the situation as we walk.
- Ashni: We are not going to talk to Silkskin?
- Wulf: No, that is too much of a detour, and I do not know how patient the Sload will be.
As we rushed to the portal, I explained to my team what the situation was.
We quickly made our way to Erid’or.
- Wulf: Malsato the Magnificent is blackmailing us. It threatens to release a plague if we don’t feed it.
- Erid’or: If we feed it, it might decide to stay a century or more. It will grow big enough to eat Mervar, yes?
- Rigmor: If Mervar is a spicy as his Elsweyr Chowder, that might be enough to kill it!
- Wulf: Or at least regret it when it poops him out.
- Rigmor: Eww!
- Erid’or: You did not kill it?
- Wulf: No. I believe Malsato has a dweomer that will release the plague if we kill it.
- Erid’or: It will have infected an animal somewhere in the forest and created a connection to it. That is possible with the necromantic skills the Sload possess. The connection could trigger the plague by will or automatically upon death.
- Wulf: There are many creatures in the Cathedral. Is it possible I could detect the infected one via Thu’um or spell?
- Erid’or: I think the Sload’s magic would mask the creature’s corruption even from the nose of Silkskin.
- Rigmor: If we did find the right creature and kill it, would that trigger the plague release?
- Erid’or: This one believes that is a possibility.
- Anahbi: What if the infected creature is killed by another or dies from old age or disease?
- Wulf: That depends on the Sload. It may simply infect another creature if it realises the Khajiit did not kill it.
- Erid’or: The Sload might not care and allow the release of the plague. It would then move elsewhere and extort new people.
- Rigmor: The Sload must be stopped!
- Wulf: If we can disrupt the connection between the Sload and the infected creature, we may be able to slay both if we hurry.
- Ashni: But we can’t slay all the creatures. We must know for sure which one is infected.
- Wulf: Do you have any suggestions, Erid’or.
- Erid’or: Hmm, this is a puzzle solved by alchemy. Could you bring this one some hyena meat and Jungle Queen venom?
- Wulf: I have collected those things already as I was going to test them for alchemy properties.
- Erid’or: Give me some of each and put the rest in today’s stew. That will do for its lunch. The added ingredients will help mask the taste of the poison I will make that Dovahkiin will add later.
I gave the remaining hyena meat and Jungle Queen poison to Kharjo, who hurried over to a simmering cauldron of stew and stirred them in.
- Erid’or: We can’t just break the connection between Sload and creature. That disconnect may trigger the plague release. This one will create a mixture that weakens the connection. The Sload will hopefully just think there is something wrong with the creature and not blame Khajiit.
- Wulf: Will the weakened connection allow Silkskin to detect the infected creature?
- Erid’or: Yes. That one detects the lifeforce, the aura, of the creatures in the Cathedral. The infection would make the creature’s aura seem wrong to her.
- Wulf: I can also detect auras, but only if I have sight of the target. If Silkskin can tell us where to search, I could tell which is the infected creature.
- Erid’or: This one has to get reagents in the correct proportions so that the Sload does not realise the connection is compromised by magic.
- Rigmor: You are confident you can do this?
- Erid’or: This one is the best poison cook in all of Elsweyr! Such skill is in great demand because divorce is so expensive.
Rigmor turned red and was about to protest. She then saw the grin on Erid’or and realised he was joking about the divorce. I could see such a service would be very profitable!
I watched with professional fascination and awe as Erid’or used the base ingredients I gave him and quickly added precise amounts of other reagents. Some were raw, some cooked, others distilled. All other masters in alchemy that I have observed use scales, rulers and other instruments to create the perfect ratio of ingredients. Erid’or did it with his eyes and fingers and nothing more.
As Erid’or did his thing, Rigmor went over to Kharjo and tasted the stew. They then discussed how to improve it. I don’t think the Sload will care much. As long as it is a new taste, it will be satisfied.
After just over an hour of intense concentration, Erid’or poured a tiny amount of liquid into a vial and handed it to me. I waved Rigmor over.
- Wulf: Erid’or, that was awe-inspiring work. Your skills are equal to any alchemist I have encountered!
- Erid’or: That is high praise indeed, and this one humbly thanks you.
- Wulf: What sequence is required?
- Erid’or: Heat the stew and then add the potion. You must allow a minute or two for it to infuse the meal. Feed it to the Sload and watch to see if it becomes suspicious.
- Wulf: I assume it will take some time for the desired effect to manifest.
- Erid’or: Yes. It would be best if you quickly made your way to Silkskin, find the infected creature’s location then slay it in as short a time as possible.
- Wulf: Then we must rush back to the Sload and kill it.
- Erid’or: That is correct.
- Rigmor: How do we get that cauldron of stew to the Sload?
- Wulf: Kharjo and I can lug it there.
We made as quick a pace as we could with two of us carrying the cauldron.
- Wulf: All of you can accompany me into the crypt this time. I need Kharjo to help with the cauldron, and the Sload will not be aggressive if he enjoys his meal.
- Rigmor: Is there room for us to stand back and use bows if he does attack?
- Wulf: Yes, you can stand at the entrance of the main room.
- Kharjo: There is another question you have not answered concerning the portal.
- Wulf: You want to know why we climbed up the ladder to get here, yet we climbed up the ladder to return.
- Rigmor: Hey, we did that, didn’t we? So, Wulf, cough up the answer.
- Wulf: Gobblygook.
- Ashni: That is a good answer. Now this one will not have a headache trying to figure it out.
- Kharjo: That is why Wulf invented that word.
- Wulf: We have missed lunch. Don’t worry. Your appetite will abandon you after vising Malsato the Magnificent!
We entered the crypt then made our way to the main chamber. Rigmor looked at the Sload and started giggling.
“And what has amused my beloved?” I asked her.
“It does remind me of Delphine!”
I heated the stew with Magicka then added the potion. After a minute, in which time Rigmor had still failed to stifle her giggles, I deemed it ready. Kharjo helped me carry the cauldron to the Sload then made a hasty retreat.
I announced with gravity, “Oh, tremendous one, I bring you a delicacy. A dish I call ‘Volcanic Rectum Hyena Stew.’ It is made from local wildlife and the finest spices of Elsweyr!”
It replied, “Malsato! Malsata! I can’t hold my joy at your grovelling servitude! Give me the meal, and go now before I regurgitate. Return with new tastes. Quickly!”
I held out the cauldron then realised Malsato’s arms were too short to carry it. I decided to place it on a nearby table where the Sload could bend over and lap it up like a dog or cat. It was a meal that would feed a dozen Khajiit. I watched in a combination of awe and disgust as the Sload’s long, sinuous tongue kept flicking out and emptied the cauldron in seconds. Loud slobbering and what must have been sounds of contentment were more than a little disturbing! The burp that followed was almost as loud as my Thu’um! The smell? Within seconds I heard several of The Sentinels gagging and Meeko whining.
I observed the Sload. It showed no suspicion or other reaction to the potion.
It commanded, “You are still here, lazy slave? Bring me something I have never tasted, now! Or this forest will be a disease-ridden swamp!”
In my most grovelling voice, I replied, “Forgive me my Malsato the Magnificent. I promise that on my return, I will fill your stomach with a new sensation to die for!”
I made my way out with the others following, eager to escape the crypt.
Nobody said a word as we hurried towards Silkskin. I don’t think they had appropriate adjectives to describe the experience!
- Wulf: Silkskin, the Sload has infected a creature with a plague. Erid’or concocted a potion that will weaken the Sload’s connection to this creature which it has just consumed. You should now be able to detect the corruption in its aura.
- Silkskin: Yes, this one smelled it before you arrived. It is a Zahilisk and is currently near the mammoth skeleton.
- Wulf: I do not have the senses of the Pahmar, but Kyne, whom some call Kynareth, and you call Khenarthi, has given me a way to see the corruption. We shall take care of the plague carrier and Sload immediately.
We travelled to the mammoth skull and saw many creatures surrounding it. I used the Aura Whisper Shout. As the name suggests, this was not a ground-shaking use of the Thu’um but an actual whisper of three Words of Power.
I could see corruption around a Zahilisk. However, the muted lighting of the jungle made me cautious.
When I used heat vision, the corruption was unmistakable. I pointed to the Zahilisk and gave the hand signal to attack. Meeko was there in a flash!
The Zahilisk hit Meeko with a mighty swipe, and he flew past me in a yelping white blur.
Rigmor ran up to the Zahlisk yelling, “Talos wills… “
The Zahilisk hit Rigmor with a mighty swipe, and she flew past me in a swearing gold blur.
I ran up and dispatched the toothy, plague-ridden lizard.
I healed Meeko once more. He was getting a bit beat up on this trip.
I examined Rigmor and found a couple of broken ribs. Without the dweomer I had placed on her armour, the injuries would have been far worse. Grand Healing soon had her back on her feet.
I turned the corpse of the Zahilisk into red hot ash using Magicka.
We then rushed to the crypt.
- Wulf: Everybody is to stay outside. I will need room to fight the Sload, and it will most likely emit poisonous gas.
- Rigmor: What is the time?
- Wulf: Is it about 5:00 PM. Why?
- Rigmor: If you hurry up, I can zap to Baa’Ren-Dar’s house. There is a final party tonight to end the trade exhibition, and it would be good to make an appearance. I told him I would try to be there.
- Wulf: Of course, Countess. This humble servant shall skewer the deadly Sload with much haste. I would hate for milady to miss out on fine food and gossip!
- Rigmor: It is part of our cover story!
- Wulf: Yes, I would not suggest otherwise.
- Ashni: A wise move if that one does not want to sing soprano.
- Wulf: I just healed a couple of broken ribs. Please take the potential exhaustion into account. Do not exert yourself!
- Rigmor: DUH!
- Wulf: Of course, if you had used a bow against the Zahilisk as The Sentinels did, you would not have had broken ribs for me to heal.
I entered the crypt and confronted the Sload. My Dovah asked, so I let him forth.
“I usually kill quickly and without pleasure or cruelty. Occasionally, a mortal offends the Dovah in me so much that I must let it express its anger or get an upset stomach. You of all creatures should know what that feels like. Maybe you have one right now?”
“Yes, I sensed your betrayal. Do you think minor indigestion will stop me? Now we’ll see how you taste!”
“I probably taste like chicken, but you will never have a chance to find out.”
I drew my sword then leapt onto a small balcony. Malsato could not reach me with his short arms so I could concentrate on the skeletons.
I cut them down then noticed Malsato was surrounded by poisonous gas.
I laughed then said, “The Sload have never had a plague or poison that can harm a dragon. Are you ready for your next meal, Malsato the Moron?”
I leapt down. Malsato bellowed and burbled threats as my Dovah weaved and dodged. My laughter and taunting enraged the Sload, who wobbled after me like a mountain of blubber. It was way too slow and ponderous to prevent what happened next.
I laughed again, then said, “This slave promised to fill your stomach with a new sensation to die for. Well, here it is. I hope you enjoy it as much as I will.”
I plunged my sword into Malsato’s bloated belly then twisted it a little.
Malsato screamed in agony but still managed to issue a threat.
“Little one, I shall remember this!”
“I know, and that is why I let you live. Rush back to Thras with a warning for the Sload. The leaders of Elsweyr will tell Nirn’s diplomatic channels of your attack. Expect a warning to be issued by the leaders of many nations. If a plague ever appears on Nirn that can be traced to your people, the punishment will be severe. Thras will be reduced to rubble once more. Your population decimated. Look into my eyes and tell me that is an idle threat!”
Malsato groaned as I withdrew my sword and stepped back.
Seconds later, it vanished. As I suspected, it was equipped with a recall spell. Sload often utilise them to evade capture or death.
Usually, I would clean my sword by wiping it on grass or with a fallen enemy’s clothing. Not trusting the contents of Malsato’s stomach, I used Magicka to burn away the slime on the sword.
I put my Dovah away then exited the crypt.
- Rigmor: Did you kill it?
- Wulf: No, I let it live. Malsato is badly injured and must seek aid from other Sload to survive. Baa’Ren-Dar should coordinate a diplomatic warning to be sent to as many nations as possible telling of this attack.
- Rigmor: You expect Thras to be inundated with dire warnings from many. That is a better solution than killing it.
- Wulf: Since you are about to rush off to a party with Baa’Ren-Dar, can you please talk to him about it.
- Rigmor: Of course. He likes sending important messages and reminding Nirn he is still around and ready to stick his nose in other people’s business. Not the brown stuff. Eww!
- Wulf: Mm… Baan Dar… Baa’Ren-Dar… coincidence?
- Kharjo: That one does seem to move from place to place very quickly.
- Anahbi: And the Emissary is known to have uncanny negotiation skills.
- Ashni: Don’t forget the legendary feat of rescuing Rigmor from under the noses of the Thalmor!
- Rigmor: You are not seriously suggesting what I think you are, are you?
- Wulf: I am not suggesting anything.
- Rigmor: You did this deliberately! I am going to have suspicions and probably stare at him while at the party!
- Wulf: I hope you wear enclosed shoes when you go out tonight.
- Rigmor: Why?
- Wulf: It will probably take a week for our wrinkly toes to go back to normal after walking in water for hours on end.
- Rigmor: You are just trying to avoid the Baa’Ren-Dar issue!
- Wulf: Maybe a powerful Khajiit god is controlling me?
- Rigmor: I had better leave now before I discover that I also have an inner dragon.
- Wulf: If the lighting is dim, you may see a faint glow if you stare at him long enough.
- Rigmor: You, my dear Dragonborn, are an idiot.
- Wulf: Yes, a lovable and incredibly handsome idiot.
- Rigmor: I will also ask Baa’Ren-Dar how I can leave Bruma when I want to be with you for days, not just hours.
- Kharjo: Emissary Dar and the Emperor will devise a sneaky, god-like plan, yes?
- Rigmor: Probably, but it would mean more lies.
- Wulf: They are white lies. When the truth eventually comes out, Sigunn and the others will understand.
- Rigmor: My toes will be very wrinkly. But I need a hot bath, and that will make them worse.
- Wulf: More wrinkles than an old man’s scrotum!
- Rigmor: Eww!
- Wulf: Hairy, down to his knees, super wrinkly scrotum.
Rigmor laughed, gave me a quick kiss and then vanished.
We told Silkskin what had happened, and she was pleased with the outcome.
We then made our way once more to Erid’or.
- Wulf: Your potion worked perfectly. I allowed the Sload to live and it has returned to Thras badly injured. It will serve as a warning to others. I am sure Emissary Dar will inform both of Elsweyr’s governments and other nations.
- Erid’or: Did Dovahkiin tell Silkskin.
- Wulf: Yes, she is content with this outcome.
- Erid’or: Where is Rigmor?
- Wulf: She is going to a party with Emissary Dar. She will join us again tomorrow.
- Erid’or: Azura has given her the power to travel like the Emissary?
- Wulf: No, another god has blessed us with that ability. However, that is not widely known.
- Erid’or: Then this one will pry no further.
- Kharjo: Will that one cleanse the crypt?
- Erid’or: Yes. Khajiit ancestors do not like foul smells.
- Ashni: This one had never met a creature so foul as the Sload!
- Kharjo: It was much worse when as close as this one got to it!
- Erid’or: Mervar was looking for the Dovahkiin. That one has news about the Thalmor.
- Wulf: Terrific, we have dealt with one slimy, arrogant creature with no morals or conscience and now have more of them ruining our day.
Erid’or laughed then gave me several pages listing local fauna and flora and their alchemical properties.
- Wulf: This is a wonderful gift. Thank you!
- Erid’or: It is but a fraction of what Khajiit owe. Perhaps new trade possibilities are to be found amongst those reagents?
- Kharjo: This one will talk with Ri’saad.
- Ashni: That old trader had a nose for profit.
- Wulf: Yes, I have no doubt he can help us come up with a plan.
We started walking towards Mervar. If the Thalmor are in the deserts near Dune, we will be in Elsweyr for many days to come.