The Elder Scrolls

The Tail of J’Skarr (pt 4)

The pen J’Skarr was kept in was hot and musty, with Khajiit pressed against each other so tight that this one could not even move his tail. And as the sun rose higher the pen grew hotter still. Flies tormented J’Skarr and his brothers. They buzzed into his ears and crawled over his fur. These pests bit most painfully, filling their bellies on Khajiit who could not even swat at them. The flies were like the Dark Elves, grey with red eyes, and hungry for blood of Khajiit.

Argonians were sold in the morning, for by the time the sun had reached its peak, the Argonian pens were empty save for a few sad creatures who had not sold. J’Skarr did not know what would become of these ones, but he feared that their Dark Elf masters would find more value in their skins than in their limbs.

Oh but when the slaves sold, they were sold quickly. In a babble of Dark Elf words and Common Tongue. No sooner than an Argonian was pulled up to a block then he would be sold in a blink of this ones eye. Every sale was ended with a Dark Elf striking a great heavy bell on the block with a great hammer, and the unfortunate one was run off the stage to whatever fate awaited him.

J’Skarr saw these things, for it was all he could watch to try and distract himself from the heat and his thirst. His pads were sticky with what little sweat he had, and soon he was panting, and tasting the full misery of the air of Tear. Every now and then some Dark Elf lordling would come and look upon those in the pen, and perhaps point and speak words to some slave or servant, and then walk on.

After the Argonians had been sold, it was time for Khajiit’s turn. One by one cats from J’Skarr’s cell were dragged out and displayed for the Dark Elves to buy. These sales J’Skarr saw took longer than those of the Argonians, and the Dark Elves on the blocks would sometimes make Khajiit show their teeth, or run around the block, or to jump high for the crowd below. These things always caused the Dark Elves to shout higher and higher prices until the bell was struck.

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One by one Khajiit were sold, and the shadows began to grow long, but the sales never grew less, never slowed. As the red paper lamps of the Dark Elves were lit, J’Skarr’s time came.

A Dark Elf came to the pen pointed to J’Skarr and he was pulled out of the pen. He was then led to a line of other Khajiit behind one of the blocks, and here this one waited to be sold.

As J’Skarr waited, a Dark Elf shoved a skin of water into his mouth. The sudden warm bitter water made this one sputter and choke, in spite of his thirst. The Dark Elf slapped J’Skarr across the face, but this caused another Dark Elf to come and shout at the vicious one. This Dark Elf ripped the waterskin from the others hands and this he handed to J’Skarr.

“Drink.” He said to J’Skarr. J’Skarr now realizes that this was the first words a a Dark elf had said to him, that had not been shouted. J’Skarr drank.

The line moved quickly, and when J’Skarr saw the stairs up to the block his heart began to race and panic yet again. He did not want to go up those wooden steps, he did not want to go on to the block, he did not want to hear more shouting and screaming and then the bell that terrible bell. But still as the line moved, so too did J’Skarr.

Where was Ra’Sha? Ra’Sha would protect him, J’Skarr knew, Ra’Sha would throw these Dark Elves, these beasts, away from J’Skarr and make it so he would not have to go on the stage, would not be sold. But Ra’Sha was nowhere J’Skarr could see, and he was halfway up the stairs.

J’Skarr knows it was unfair and foolish, but at that moment he felt rage at Ra’Sha, rage at him letting himself be taken away, letting J’Skarr go, not being with him now, for not saying goodbye to J’Skarr. These thoughts were stopped when J’Skarr was shoved onto the stage.

J’Skarr looked out and saw a sea of red eyes looking at him greedily, like the eyes of the flies in the day. Immediately these eyes all began buzzing, buzzing for J’Skarr’s flesh. The fly on the stage began shouting, and though the words were in Common Tongue J’Skarr did not understand these.

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A Dark Elf came and pried J’Skarr’s mouth open, his arms stretched over his head. Then he was turned around, his legs spread, he was made to bend over. All these things were done to J’Skarr, like he was a child’s doll and all the while the buzzing grew louder.

J’Skarr realized then that he was running around the block, he did not know why. But the buzzing did not stop, only louder and louder. He tripped and fell to his face, the buzzing became laughter. J’Skarr looked out and saw cackling Dark Elf faces, and these made the elves even more hideous than when they were grim.

J’Skarr was pulled back to his feet and stood. But now seemed to J’Skarr that he was above himself, looking down at some sad scrawny cat, it’s ears flat on its head, it’s tail tucked between its legs, far, far from home. The low tone of the bell pulled J’Skarr back into himself. J’Skarr had been sold.

———

J’Skarr tells you these things, and these ones around the fire may think they now understand what this was like. But this one tells them they do not, only one who has been sold can truly know. J’Skarr tells you these things, so they may not be forgotten so the Dark Elves may not deny them.

J’Skarr was pulled off the stage and taken to a tall building. Inside, was a Dark Elf at a desk writing away in a book. Around the walls of this place were banners with merchants scales on them, but J’Skarr did not know what this meant, was he in some bank?

The writing elf looked up and spoke to the one who had taken J’Skarr, who J’Skarr believed was his new master.

“Take it downstairs with others, Relys will collar it.” And the Dark Elf returned to scratching in his book.

Below it was cool and dark. And it was here J’Skarr would be collared. Another elf, a female sat beside a great closed door, chewing something that made her cheek bulge. When she saw J’Skarr and the Dark Elf with him she spat in a bowl on the floor.

“Looks like the last one for the night, Mavo.” Said she. This elf stood and took a metal ring and bracelet from off hooks on the wall. The ring she put on J’Skarr’s neck, the bracelet on to J’Skarrs ankle.

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J’Skarr wishes that he could say that he resisted, that he kicked and fought like a wildcat to not wear these things. He would like to say these things, but J’Skarr is no liar and so he cannot.

The female then took a key and unlocked the great door and led J’Skarr through its hungry mouth, behind J’Skarr came the elf called Mavo.

On each side of J’Skarr were cells, with great barred doors of metal. Inside these were Khajiit and Argonians, many asleep. J’Skarr was shoved into one of these cells, where a thin blanket lay on the floor with a bucket of water, an empty bucket and a plate with bread and some dried meat.

The door was closed, the lock turned. The Dark Elves left, speaking of Dark Elf matters. And J’Skarr was alone.

Alone, for the first time in weeks. The cell was as silent as a graveyard. In a daze J’Skarr took the blanket from the floor and wrapped himself tightly in it. He sank into a corner, wishing he was the sneaky cat Ra’Sha had called him, so sneaky that he could hide and the Dark Elves would never ever find him again.

…Ra’Sha.

The mournful quiet of this place was not a quiet that seemed could be broken to J’Skarr. It filled this place like a bitter perfume, like how water fills the sea. And so, J’Skarr wept in silence.

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