An Argonian healer grows enchanted with her illusionist patient.
The Elder Scrolls: Foxfall, Fruitfall By Tempe O'Kun, scholar at the College of Winterhold
~ ~ ~
Sizaan slipped soundless through the door-membrane, cradling a blade. Even as she brewed her potions, Swims-With-Wolves caught his canid scent, savoring it a moment, then noticed the gleam of metal on a glass alembic.
"Where did you get the dagger?" The Argonian's tail lashed, though her manner remained cool, her webbed hands steady in their work. "Did you steal it?"
The blade flashed between vulpine paws. "No, I stole it back."
"And that's different?"
"Very different." The length of steel stole into the scabbard at his belt. "Not even the same word in my language."
She suspended fungal pod extract in a marshmerrow matrix. Pity all the dartwings got gobbled up by the youngsters—some saltrice would have to do. "You shall have to teach me your language someday. I collect mammal languages."
The Lilmothiit fiddled with a silver amulet around his neck, then smelled much less of magic. His footsteps made noise as he padded across the small hut to sit on his hammock. "I've been speaking mine the whole time."
She looked up from grinding saltrice, eyes cool as gems. "How do I understand—?"
"You can't be angry." He sniffed her alchemy with interest.
"You swore not to cast spells on me."
"It's a spell on me."
"How does that even—?"
"Spells on me don't count." A vulpine grin gleamed across his muzzle as he leaned backward across the hammock to dip a digit in the heavy white brew.
The Argonian watched in shock, unused to people sticking fingers in her alchemy.
He sucked the blob of goo from his finger-fur. “Mmmmm.”
“You just assume what I’m stewing isn’t poison?” She added some more dry peat to the fire beneath the stewing retort of fungus pods.
“Who bothers to make poison in Black Marsh? Everything’s poisonous already. Besides...” He reached down and scooped a little more of the sweet potion. “You like me too much to let me be poisoned.”
They fell into long conversation about how he’d been developing an illusion to fool his fur into never getting muddy. Midway through, she found he’d eaten the greater part of her efforts. With a wag of apology, the fox again dipped a finger in the sticky brew, then pressed the sweet blob to her lips. After a moment’s hesitation, she accepted the treat, having forgotten how good healing elixirs could taste. The restorative radiance whispered through her flesh, easing tensions she didn’t know she held.
His smile stirred warmth in her soul.
The healer smiled. She had learned how in the Empire. The fox had just taught her why.
~ ~ ~
Hours of talk and the rest of the brew later, Swims-With-Wolves hurried to the nearest Hist, which drifted past her village at the rate of the speediest glacier. With a lick of its sap, she fell into a vision, images awhirl between her mind and the great Tree. All she knew of the strange vulpine creature, the Tree knew too, and therefore all the Trees, as they are one.
And therefore, on her way home, she watched a cloud of spores drift through her village, letting her people to know the fox as a friend, or at least a strange but harmless mammal and not worth troubling with. This event should come as no surprise, given that the Argonians and the Hist are one as well.
The Lilmothiit, now free to walk about the village with a range of reactions from sniffs to snoots, pondered how he could repay her. First, he tried cooking, which resulted in a dead and somewhat deadly stew of trodh fish. Next, he tried some minor carpentry, which so angered the sawbeaks living in the branches of her hut that she had to repair him instead. Last, he tried alphabetizing her various books, though this resulted in all the pages falling out and having to be put back in what he considered a much superior order anyway.
An idea struck him, though, as he pieced together a volume on the war-ballads of the guar emperors: he did have something else of value, after all.
When she returned that day, returned not only to her newly-recombinant library, but to a miniature version of the landfall of the Redguard playing out across her floor. As a fleet of ships used her foot as a staging area from which to raid the mainland, her blood-irised eyes fixed on the vulpine. "I had your word you'd cast no spells on me, Lilmothiit."
"Then it's a good thing I cast this spell on your floor." He pranced through pitched battles, his paws wisping through several historical footnotes.
And so he shared visions with her.
The Dwemer dwindled through dwelling, until their cogs and contrivances ran silent. The Chimer dimmed to ash in her calcinator. The Falmer fell through the cracks in her floor, losing their snow-blind eyes. A scaly Wamasus struck like lightning inside a potion vial, as Nords stole its teeth. The first Khajiit mewed and pounced as the flames in her hearth.
Of his own people, she saw Blackrose bloom and wither. A city singular and sublime where the nomadic vulpines gathered, built, dreamed, and dispersed, leaving only a shell which sat hollow until a great prison filled it.
The phantasms faded and phased, weaving through the fabric of time. Events known and unknown dragged the Argonian all the way past wonder and into a fierce desire for comment. Her yarns wove intricately into his own, the stories before them made all the richer. At some point the Lilmothiit realized the soft-scaled chin of his companion rested on his shoulder, watching with serene intent. So easy and familiar felt her body against his that he had not even noticed.