An Argonian mage's quiet life is disrupted by a fox falling from the sky.
The Elder Scrolls: Foxfall, Fruitfall
By Tempe O'Kun, scholar at the College of Winterhold
Reconstructed from writings on set of dried sap slabs, donated to library by Bhuut Sifkning. Translated here from Jel, the tongue of the Saxhleel. Context places the origin of these carvings somewhere between 3E 428 and 3E 432.
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The lizard-folk are fruit.
Fruit of the Hist trees.
You see them on the street and call them Argonians, thinking that fruit cannot talk and walk, assuming their humanoid bodies tell the story. This you must first understand: the fruit serves the tree, not the other way around. So whatever the Hist require, the Argonians desire. Some of these lizard-folk break away, leaving the Black Marsh, ignoring the needs of the whole for the sake of the self. Uncommon, unlike in the lands of men and mer. Most, though, follow their calling, leading to the Argonian axiom: "The fruit does not fall far from the tree."
Swims-With-Wolves, one such Saxhleel lizard-fruit, found herself gifted with a fixation for mammals. And not just the simple, swinging, hooting mammals of the Marsh, but also the complicated, swinging, hooting mammals of the Empire. In the hopes of better understanding them, she traveled to the Dry Lands, her mind brimming with visions poured into her by the Hist. Her travels ran long and dangerous, though with wits and borrowed wisdom she arrived at a great college of Restoration. What better way to learn of the scaleless races than to observe how they function when sick and well, old and new-born?
In the long tradition of barkeeps or assassins or whatever else the Trees find interesting and needed in the human lands, she adapted to the ways of the Landstriders. She had no small amount of talent in Restoration, the Great Trees had seen to that. Beyond this, however, she possessed little else but a keen mind. These two things proved to be enough and earned her a place with the smooth-skinned scholars. There she took up the study of mammals under the guise of a simple healer and student. After years of hard study, she returned to the Black Marsh and shared her findings with her people, both arbor and arboreal. Following this, Swims-With-Wolves settled into a simple life as a healer in her tribe. Surrounded by the gentle rustle of endless leaves and the burble of sweet swamp decay rather than the guttural warbling and dead food of the Dry Lands, she lived content that she had served her great purpose and that life would allow her peace.
She did not miss the dryness or coldness or the rudeness of the Empire. She did miss the college, with its countless and delightful books, though she resigned herself to making do with the odd waterlogged tome that floated through her village. Though of the small fraction of life in the Marsh that was not a worm, she remained quite the bookworm. And, each time she climbed down from her hut, wet ground squishing between her toes, cobblestone streets crossed her mind. Peace found her, though, more or less.
But then the fox fell.
A Lilmothiit, to be exact. Sly, slender, svelte, but otherwise unlike the feline Khajiit in all but name.
The root-gatherers raced into her village from the rootworm travel-tubes where they had gathered their extra roots for export. Wails were wailed, squawks squawked, and a guard rushed over in his sap-armor to summon her from gardening.
Mammal-folk rarely fall from the sky in the Marsh, even more rarely onto several caravan guards. When they appear at all, it's usually to invade or enslave. So Swim-With-Wolves understood the anxiety. She didn't, however, understand why she was needed.
The healer arrived on the scene of the fox-fall to find that the vulpine had charmed the caravan guards into not killing him until he was well enough to be slain, since otherwise they would not be completely killing him and half-dead-half-living foxes would be far more trouble than simply-living foxes. The charmed guards had to admit they were far more familiar with dealing with people alive or dead rather than both.
Swims-With-Wolves, however, wore a ring she bought in her training, at the suggestion of one of her teachers. A cheap bauble that absorbed a mere sliver of a spell's magicka. Its sole purpose was for her to know when another mage cast a spell upon her. And so when he did, she did, and therefore he didn't. Such is the nature of Illusion.
But she healed him anyway, since she swims with wolves.
This wolf, who happened to be a fox, went from scared to terrified to very appreciative.
Swims-With-Wolves had never seen foxfolk before. Scarce and elusive, the foxes were known to her only by rumor. That her people felt wary of one falling from the sky didn't surprise her. Mammals in the Marsh meant invasion and enslavement.
With his bones properly knitted, the guards inquired politely of the fox if he was well enough to be slain now, as their time was running short. The fox replied that his time would certainly do their work for them in his regard, so they might as well get on with escorting the caravan.
Still being charmed, this made perfect sense.
However, the root-gatherers had since returned from their bout of wariness and, regarding matters of the fox, remained resolutely un-charmed. Unaware she'd healed the from-sky-falling-beast, they seemed quite alarmed that the monster that had plummeted upon their caravan was not only still alive, he seemed to be getting better quite fast.
Swims-With-Wolves looked up from healing the guards-fallen-upon. She assured them she controlled the fox-monster and explained she would need to study him to find out the reason for his sudden recovery. That way, this knowledge could be used for the greater glory of the Hist, as this was the exact nature of her calling. Not wanting to interfere with sap-destiny, the other Argonians had no choice but to leave him in her care as they departed.
She hurried the fox away before anybody could think too hard about this. The Imperial tongue chopped her thoughts into mammal terms, her true thoughts too close to the root. She eyed the vulpine. "Lilmothiit, you had best go wherever you are going."
The fox, muddy ears perked with interest at her quick wits, cleared his throat and countered: "Clearly, I've already arrived. You saved my life-what can I do to repay you?"
"I want nothing."
"That would be a very boring and useless thing for me to do. Is my life of such little value to you?" His tail flicked, scattering mud from his impact. He slung his netch-leather satchel over his shoulder. "Surely there is something you lack."
"The marsh, the Hist, and my fellow Saxheel provide all I need."
His gilded eyes gleamed. "Perhaps some gold to influence men and mer?"
Swims-With-Wolves clucked her tongue. "Gold is soon lost in the mud of the Marsh, as is influence with man and mer."
"Perhaps some finery then?" He swept a paw toward her cheek. "Gems of every shade in your scales?"
"If I already have those shades, why do I need gems? Everyone I wish to impress, I have."
The vulpine quirked a muddy ear. "And then some."
A tingle of foreboding trailed through Swims-With-Wolves, like the feel of a spell about to go awry. With a cautious eye, she slunk into the water and began the slow swim to her home, only to find the fox picking his way through the swamp after her. The healer floated to watch him. "You sneak very poorly."
"Exactly the point. You are to study me, after all."
Study him she did, her eyes narrowing like closing door-membranes.
"For the greater glory of the Hist and the fulfillment of your tree-sap-licked destiny, as I recall."
She pondered in that pond. And, not wanting to interfere with sap-destiny, she had no choice but to leave him in her own care as they departed.
Upon arriving at her dwelling and climbing the rungs, she paused at the door-membrane. "If I am to study you, you must promise not to charm me with your magic."
The scrawny mammal grinned a grin of sharp mammal teeth. "What about without?"
And Swims-With-Wolves hurried inside before she could think too hard about this.
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This is a short little chapter because the books in Skyrim only have about 1,500 words. I'm intending to make this series available in the PC version of Skyrim via a mod. :)
Let me know what you think! :D
Edits: TheFunkyOne, Slate, Vendetta, SillyNeko345, DarkDragon452