The Elder Scrolls

The Tail of J’Skarr (pt 5)

J’Skarr woke the next morning, or perhaps not, for there was no window in his cell to see if sun or moon shone. But J’Skarr woke all the same. This dark place was still quiet, even J’Skarr’s keen Khajiit ears could only catch the occasional movement of another in a different cell. None spoke.

J’Skarr ate the food in his cell, for now that he had rested J’Skarr remembered his poor empty belly. The bread was stale and most gritty and the meat was tough and oily with a bitter taste that made J’Skarr’s stomach sour. But so hungry was J’Skarr that he ate every morsel and licked the plate for every crumb. The water given him was cool at least, and of this there was plenty. J’Skarr drank and drank until he felt as though his belly would burst. After this he laid upon the cold floor and tried to rest.

This was interrupted by a hissing sound, low and menacing. To J’Skarr it sounded close and then a low gravely voice spoke to J’Skarr.

“You smell like new fish.” Said this voice in the dark. J’Skarr said nothing, for he was frightened and the terror of the many weeks in the hands of the Dark Elves had his mind as twitchy as a rabbits nose. Still the voice spoke.

“Yesss, it’s smell tastes new heheh, it has not been in chains long has it?”

Quietly J’Skarr spoke into the dark

“Who is there? Who speaks to J’Skarr?”

“Only Basks-in-Moon, little cat, and keep your voice down the grey skins get nervous if they hear us speaking.”

J’Skarr lowered his voice but was still curious about this one called Basks-in-Moon, such a strange name indeed.

“Where is J’Skarr? What is this place?”

The voice of Basks-in-Moon chuckled.

“Yes, yes you tasted new. New ones always taste more of fear than despair I have found. You’ll adjust soon enough, we all did.”

“What does this one speak of? Tell J’Skarr where he is!”

The voice hissed

“Keep your voice down kitty, or the ash skins will rip out your tongue. You are in the holding cells of the Hlaalu.”

Hlaalu? More strange names. J’Skarr’s head began to hurt, he was tired and this Basks-in-Moon was only putting more questions in his mind.

“Leave J’Skarr alone, he has no words for Basks-in-Moon”

“Suit yourself cat. Though a word of advice, don’t eat the meat. It’s rat and it gives new fish the runs.”

——

J’Skarr did indeed become sick from the rat flesh, but gratefully the spasms passed after several hours, though now his cell stank. In fact as the hours passed away the entire chamber of this place began to stink as slaves filled their own empty buckets.

For hours it was like this, until finally the door to this sewer opened and cool clean air rushed in. J’Skarr then heard Dark Elf voices shouting orders.

“Back of your cells you fetchers! Now!”

There came the sounds of movement from every cell as those inside hurried to obey. Then a scampering of feet and a heavy rolling. What were the Dark Elves doing? J’Skarr heard cell doors opening and then realized what the elves had come for.

“Go get the shit you lazy n’wahs! Double quick!”

Soon J’Skarr heard the foul noise of filth being poured into some large thing. Before long the Dark Elf female of the night before stood outside his door. At her side, no taller than her hip was a young Khajiit. She opened the door and kicked the small kit in.

“No sudden moves cat.” said she as the small Khajiit collected the bucket. This he hefted into a large barrel pushed by a grey muzzled old cat. J’Skarr looked in these ones eyes, and in them he saw nothing, not even in the young one.

——

This would happen three more times before J’Skarr would leave this place, and Tear, forever. And though J’Skarr was a slave at this time he still says that leaving this foul city was one of the happiest days of his life.

This one was woken very early by a Dark Elf who hurried J’Skarr out of his cell. Then he was linked by his collar to a line of many others; Argonians, male Khajiit, female Khajiit, young, old.

This great line that J’Skarr was now in was led out of the cell, out of the building. The air was fresh and cold, in spite of the stink of Tear, and the sky was still dark. These ones were lined up as a Dark Elf with a book wrote down many things. J’Skarr shivered, and thought of Ra’Sha, his strong warm arms and where he may be now, and if he thought of J’Skarr.

J’Skarr felt ashamed for he and Ra’Sha had sworn to each other to escape this land and return to Elsweyr together, they had sworn by Azurah, and the Dark Elves had destroyed that dream just as it was born. J’Skarr looked to the cold dark sky and saw Masser and Secunda, waxing in their ways through the sky.

The Dark Elf with his book and pen finished whatever it was he was doing and armed Dark Elves in closed helmets and sharp spears marched the line through the city.

J’Skarr saw the city begin to awake, with slaves running here and there through the twilight to fetch and carry and bring whatever it was their masters wished in the small hours of the morning. J’Skarr saw a long line of slaves holding empty urns, all waiting to draw water from a well, he wondered how long some had been waiting.

As the eastern sky began to grow pink with sunrise the line reached the great outer wall of Tear, a hideous wooden and leather thing, with a great metal gate. Here the slaves were made to stop, and J’Skarr pondered this gate.

On this gate there was a depiction of a Dark Elf in strange clothes and great rubies for his eyes. In both of his hands he held chains, like the chains on the banners all around Tear. Attached to these were depictions of not just Khajiit and Argonian slaves, but of men and mer of all kinds. All collared, all kneeling and holding up their chained hands in adoration and pleading to the great Dark Elf.

This was the vision of the Dark Elf people, all races and peoples, in chains and collars, crawling at their feet.

J’Skarr also saw many letters he could not read on this gate, and symbols he did not understand save for two. For by the shoulders of the Dark Elf were the moon and star of Azurah. J’Skarr did not know at this time that the Dark Elves too revered Azurah, and indeed he has a difficult time believing this even now.

The guards around J’Skarr shouted words at the Dark Elves at the top of the wall, who shouted back. Then with the cracking of whips the gate opened. It pleased J’Skarr to see the great metal Dark Elf split in half as the gates groaned open like his death moans.

With the gates opened the line was rushed through. The slaves were run down the dirt road leading to the city. The sky had grown blood red as the sun began to rise out of the great eastern ocean.

For a long time the line jogged down the road, on either side were great fields of grass, and in these J’Skarr saw the distant forms of slaves and heard the far off cracking of whips.

As J’Skarr feared that he and his fellow slaves would be made to run all the way to wherever it was they were going, these ones were made to stop.

Before them came two wagons, pulled by strange large headed beasts. In the wagons were yet more cages, wrought of metal. The slaves were divided into male and female and shoved into these and the doors slammed shut, with a sound that J’Skarr had learned all too well. Yet again, J’Skarr was caged and being taken to where he did not wish to go.

The wagons continued down the road. J’Skarr rested his head against the red bars of the wagon cage and looked back down the road. There in the distance was Tear, seeming to sink into the sea. The idea comforted J’Skarr, the stinking city of tears washing away to the ocean. J’Skarr closed his eyes and fell into a dreamless sleep.

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