Online:Keshu: Travels Beyond the Village, Part 1
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One of the first things Keshu the Black Fin, war hero and founder of the movement for an advanced Saxhleel society, decided after completing her rites of maturity and earning her place as a Saxhleel adult was to undertake a journey to learn more about the world beyond our tiny village. With sly Tee-Wan, mighty Vos-Huruk, crafty Xocin, and myself beside her, Keshu said farewell to the village and our teacher, the raj-deelith, Drameencin, and set off to see the wonders that waited beyond the familiar confines of Seekhat-Xol.
We headed north, stopping at each village along the way to visit friends and family members as we made our way toward the legendary city of Stormhold. In the village of Zurook, we were warned to avoid the Dark Elf enclaves in Stormhold, as they were notorious for capturing lone Saxhleel and shipping them off to serve as slaves back in Morrowind. We had heard rumors about Dark Elf slavers as we were growing up, but we never quite believed the tales in our secluded part of the greater marsh.
We arrived in Stormhold with the rest of the throng of visitors—traders, mercenaries, crafters, and the most diverse group of people we had ever seen. In addition to the obviously citified Saxhleel (who we learned were called Argonians by the other races), we gaped in wonder at the giant Nords, the fair-skinned High Elves, the flamboyant Bretons, the brooding Dark Elves, and even the few Khajiit and Wood Elves that wandered the squares.
They were all strange and exotic to us, and we saw first-hand how some of our egg-brothers and egg-sisters were treated by the outsiders. Some, like the powerful and dignified city-dwellers, were bowed down to and venerated. While others, obviously weaker and poorer, were ordered about, denigrated, and even beaten, depending upon the whims of their masters. We were shocked and appalled, but Keshu ordered us to remain calm. "We can't change the course of this river," she said. "At least, not this day."
During our exploration of the city, we happened upon a group of young Nords and their charismatic leader, the bard named Jorunn. We listened to Jorunn perform, fascinated by the stories he told and captivated by his clear and expressive voice. He noticed our intense interest, particularly that of Keshu, and invited us to join him and his companions for the evening meal. Keshu and Jorunn became fast friends, speaking of many things long into the night. It turns out, he and his companions weren't much older than we were and they were also traveling to see the world before the responsibilities of adulthood caught up with them. While we taught Jorunn and his friends how to eat and drink traditional Saxhleel fare, they exposed us to the Nord delicacies that were available at the inn.
I didn't listen to everything that Jorunn and Keshu discussed that night, but I heard some of it. Jorunn spoke of his family, the wonders of Skyrim, and his hope to someday become a famous bard. He explained that his sister was going to be Queen of the Nords, but I assumed that was just another one of his fanciful stories. I'm not sure what Keshu believed. For her part, Keshu told Jorunn about life in the marsh, what it meant to be a Saxhleel, and how our people had once commanded a much more advanced civilization. He appeared to be genuinely fascinated by everything she said. As the fire in the hearth burned down to embers and the tankards of Nord mead and Saxhleel bile beer were finally emptied, Tee-Wan came rushing in. "Xocin," he said, his voice cracking with fear and sorrow, "he's been taken by the slavers."
Keshu never hesitated. She rose and ordered us to action. She had no intention of allowing the Dark Elves to take our egg-brother away in chains. Before we could gather our weapons and head out, Jorunn stood. "Friends don't let friends rush off to battle by themselves," the big Nord declared. "Besides, we haven't gotten into a good brawl since last Turdas. My companions get cranky when they go too long without a good brawl."