Hello all. This story expands on my character's backstory, specifically regarding his experience in slavery, and explores the events that shaped him into what he is today. This story will come in 3 parts, this being the first. I hope you all enjoy it, and as always, feedback is welcome. Featured in TESOF Roleplay Spotlight #13 / Featured in The Tamriel Chronicles Issue #24
“I trust me and my associates will be compensated?”
The room was dark and had a foul smell in the air. Being in a den full of thugs made Ra’Sir extremely uncomfortable. The raggedy clothes he wore for a disguise only made it worse. “Your men will be paid very well for your services Qa’Dul, assuming of course that they can deliver.”
Qa’Dul was a most despicable character. Mercenaries were the lowest of the low in Ra’Sirs eyes, nothing more than hired swords. He needed them though. His patience had grown thin with his brother. The fool only worried about the people’s safety and other such nonsense. He never seemed to concern himself with the more important things in life: Money and power. “Usurping a Lord of Corinthe will be no small task” the mercenary began, “But for the right coin, my men would march on Oblivion itself.”
Ra’Sir replied, “I’m glad we understand each other. Rest assured, when I take House Solvandi, you and your men will be generously rewarded.” The two Khajit raised stained mugs for a toast. The ale was stale and utterly repulsive to drink, but Ra’Sir knew that insulting the leader of a mercenary band in his own home would surely mean and untimely end for himself. Besides, Ra’Sir needed the mercenary.
“To a new partnership” Qa’Dul proposed.
“A new partnership indeed.”
The rain used to be so comforting for the young Ja’Rakhar. His mother used to say that the rain was a blessing from Alkosh. The waters brought new life with them as a blessing from the god. The rain brought him no comfort now though. They had been riding in the caged wagon for nearly a day, trapped like common animals. “Father, I don’t like this. I want to go home” the young cub pleaded.
Another Khajiit prisoner interrupted him. “You home is gone little Lord, our future holds only pain and suffering.”
“Be quiet” Ja’Rakhar’s father replied angrily, “Do you want the children to feel hopeless? We will return. You are a warrior, find your composure.” Ja’Rakhar’s father, Ra’Med, was so strong and courageous. Even being brought down to such humiliating circumstances couldn’t change that.
“But my Lord, they are taking us to Vvardenfell. Surely you know what happens to our kind there. There is no hope left for us.”
“As long as we breathe life, there will always be hope.” Ra’Med looked at his family. “Do not worry, my sons. We will be back home soon. I promise.” Although his words were reassuring to the family, Ja’Rakhar couldn’t help but notice something hidden behind his fathers eyes.
“Shut up back there!” the wagon driver scoweled.
The group continued on until dusk, stopping in front of a run-down tavern. “Why are we stopping?” one of the guards demanded.
The wagon driver shot a glare at the guard. “I’m hungry and my arse is sore. We’ve still a long journey ahead of us. I’m going to eat and rest up, you should do the same if you hope to make it to Morrowind in one piece.” The group dismounted to head inside for food, but the driver quickly stopped his young assistant. “You stay put, Betto. Make sure the animals behave.”
The Imperials walked inside, and the young Betto cursed under his breath. “Great,” he growled. “You all stay quiet, I’ll be right back.” With that, Betto walked to the wood line, cursing the whole way.
“So what is this great plan of yours, oh fearless leader?” one of the Khajiit prisoners asked in a condescending manner.
Ra’Med looked around their cage, ignoring the other Khajiit’s disrespectful tone. His eyes stopped at the heavily rusted lock for the cage. “Look at this lock,” he started. “No doubt it could break with a little encouragement.”
“Then what?” another Khajiit retorted. “We have no weapons, and no idea how to get back to Corinthe.”
Ra’Med bared his claws to the doubtful Khajiit. “We are Khajiit. One of us is easily worth three of them.” The group began to be more at ease, though still looked doubtful. “It’s either that, or Vvardenfell. Your choice.”
The young J’urabi tugged at his father’s pant leg. “What can I do father?”
Ra’Med looked at his family then back at the cub. “You have a very important job my son. You must keep your mother and brother safe. Get to safety and I will find you.”
There was a rustling across the road. The young Imperial reappeared. “We will wait till nightfall, when they are tired. We will take them by surprise.” He whispered.
The convoy travelled on into the night. The moon shined brightly that night, allowing Ra’Med to monitor the state of the guards escorting the wagon. Through the darkness, one of the guards nearly fell from his horse, struggling to stay awake. It was time. Ra’Med silently woke his family and the other prisoners, giving a nod to them.
A loud crash rang through the night, followed by the agonizing screams of an unfortunate guard tailing the party. The Khajiiti warriors stormed out of the cage, further crushing the Imperial under the iron door to their makeshift prison. The plan had worked, the guards were completely caught by surprise. In the confusion, the Khajiit were able to dispatch another guard, confiscating steel blades. The remaining guards quickly drew their own swords in response.
“Get those damned cats under control!” the driver yelled. In the heat of the battle, a Khajiit jumped atop to cage, right behind the driver. His sword lunged forward, sights set on the Imperial’s head. The Imperial was quick, even for a man much younger than himself. He grabbed the young panicking Betto and threw him in the path of the sword. As the blade ran through the young man, the driver was just able to move his head, barely dodging the blade still reaching towards him. A swift dagger to the Khajiit’s chest ended his life.
Amidst the battle, the young cubs hid under the wagon with their mother. The Khajiit from on top of the wagon fell flat on the ground next to them. To their side, another Khajiit had fallen, blood spewing from his throat as he spun to the ground. Bodies littered the area until only a very weary Ra’Med and a few Imperials remained. An Imperial struck at the Khajiit, but Ra’Med skillfully parried the attack. Instantly, a guard ran his sword through the Khajiit’s shoulder. The old warrior responded by striking the Imperial bastard in the temple with his elbow, knocking him unconscious. The pain was becoming too much to bear. Ra’Med looked toward his terrified family. “Run!” he shouted.
With no remorse, another guard attacked with a spear. Ra’Meds energy was drained, and he had no room to dodge. The warrior attempted to block the spear with his sword, but the blood loss had affected his precision. The guards spear was driven through the Khajiit’s forearm. The pain was immense. Ra’Med knew this would be his end. He looked to his family as they began to escape the chaos. He tried to call out to them, but all that he could muster was a painful grunt. “Protect them.”
The mother ran with her cubs as fast as they could through the night. As they ran, Ja’Rakhar couldn’t help but look back hoping to see his father behind them. Ra’Med desperately fended off another attack but was quickly decapitated from behind. His father was dead. “Father!” he shouted, attempting to break free from his mother’s hold.
“Ja’Rakhar, we must keep moving!” Elehana begged. The family kept running, the rhythmic galloping of hooves closing in on them.
The door opened with a long creak. The family had been fortunate enough to find this abandoned shack. Though they had lost the guards chasing them, the storm was getting worse and they needed shelter. In walked Elehana walked in with some scraps of food. “Ja’Rakhar, J‘urabi, wake up, I have food.” The cubs stirred awake and appeared from their hiding places. The scent of bread seemed like a blessing from the gods. They hadn’t eaten in days, and were more than eager to fill their bellies.
As the cubs ate, Ja’Rakhar noticed that his mother did not join them in their humble feast. “Mother,” he asked. “What about you?
Elehana saw the worried looks of her children. “I will be fine my child. Go ahead, you both need your energy. It is still a long way back to Elsweyr.
J’urabi angrily threw his bread to the ground. “Where is father?” he demanded. “We have to find father!”
Shocked, she searched for words. She couldn’t bring herself to tell her son the truth, not now. As she fought to hold back her tears, she answered “I’m sure your father is fine my child. He will find us, but we must keep moving. He will find us, I promise.”
Ja’Rakhar thought back to that battle where he saw his father mercilessly killed. He knew they would never see his father again. As his eyes began to well up, we whimpered under his breath, “No he won’t.”
Ja’Rahkar was pushed to the ground, hitting hit head on the hard floor. Above his, his brother stood. “Don’t say that!” he yelled, then angrily kicked Ja’Rakhar in the shin.
“Boys, please stop this!” Elehana pleaded. But to no avail. Ja’Rakhar pushed his brother back and went to deliver his own strike. J’urabi countered and swiped at his brother with his claws, cutting a deep gash into Ja’Rakhar’s arm. “Stop this now!” Elahana screamed as she jumped in the middle of the cubs to separate them. “Now is not the time to fight each other! We need to work together to keep each other safe!” The cubs were in total shock. They had never been scolded by their mother like that before. “Now apologize. Both of you” she demanded of the cubs.
With his head hung low in shame Ja’Rahkar offered his apology. “I’m sorry J’urabi.”
Elehana looked at J’urabi awaiting his apology to Ja’Rakhar. Instead, he stormed out of the shack and into the rain. Ja’Rakhar looked at his grievous wound. J’urabi was always the stronger of the two, and sometimes wondered if his brother secretly hated him for being the heir to the Lordship. In truth, the only reason he was the heir in the first place is because he entered the world mere minutes before his brother.
“He is just upset. I’ll go calm him down. I’m sure he ‘ll come around,” Elehana said as she attempted to comfort the wounded cub. “Go, get some rest my child.”
Morning came quickly for the young cub. Ja’Rakhar was still sore from the night before, and the hard floor did little to give any comfort. How he missed his bed. J’urabi was already awake, and quickly noticed his brother stir from his slumber. He walked over to Ja’Rahkar, kneeling down and extending his hand. In his hand was a glossy stone that he offered to his brother. With eyes full of regret, he looked at the cut in Ja’Rakhar’s arm. “I’m sorry,” he said. The two brothers shared a smile.
Just then, Elehana came in, her face glowing with excitement. “Good, you’re both awake. Here, eat quickly.” The cubs took the bread that their mother had brought in. “A kind stranger told me of a town not far from here. We may be able to find a way home.” She gave the cubs a warm smile, and they quickly ate their food.
After they finished eating, the family headed out and quickly found a small town. Unfortunately, it was not what they had hoped for. “Is this the right place?” Ja’Rakhar asked his mother.
Elehana looked worried. “Stay close to me boys.” As they walked down the street, beggars roamed everywhere, and the air stank of blood and urine. They trio stopped in front of what must have been the local tavern. Surely she could find information in here. “Stay out here, I’m going to see if somebody can help us.” She took another glimpse at the drab town. “Stay hidden, and don’t talk to anybody.” Elehana disappeared into the tavern.
The inside of the building smelled even more foul than outside. The place was full of drunks arguing with each other. As she walked toward the counter, a fight broke out behind her. One of the drunks had knocked over another man’s drink. Being drunk himself, the other man decided the best response was to try and take the perpetrator’s head. “Take it outside, you idiots!” the barkeep yelled. “Break any of my tables and I’ll break your necks myself!” The men pushed each other out of the tavern and continued their struggle down the street.
“What do you want,” the barkeep growled, glaring at Elehana.
“Please sir, I need to find a-“
“You got any coin, cat?”
Elehana looked down in disdain. Lack of funds was not something they ever needed to worry themselves about before.. The barkeep took note of her silence. “No coin, no service.”
“Please, my children-“
The barkeep angrily pointed towards the door. Elehana walked out in shame. How would she get her family back home now? She wished Ra’Med were here. The cubs came out from under the stairs, and could tell their mother did not have any good news. “She knelt down and embraced her children. “Don’t lose hope, we will find our way home one way or another.”
Ja’Rakhar spied a commotion in the distance. “Mother,” he whimpered as he pointed somewhere behind her. A group of men were beating a beggar, after begging for mercy, pointed in the direction of the tavern. Among them was a familiar face; an aged Imperial with his head in bandages, the old wagon driver.
“Alarmed, Elehana urged the cubs toward an alley way. “We must go, now,” she whispered.
“There they are!” the Imperial yelled. “Stop them!”
“Run!” Elehana screamed.
The family ran through the woods as fast as their feet would take them. Ja’Rakhar could hear the men on their heels. Suddenly, he heard a harsh voice. “Got you!” An arm appeared from behind a tree causing Ja’Rahkar to run directly into it. He was knocked to the ground and severely dazed. Even so, he could just make out the muffled sounds of his mother screaming. And then… darkness.
Ra’Sir gazed upon the new framework of House Solvandi. He would have much preferred for his mercenaries to leave the house standing, rather than burning it to the ground. It was a costly choice. The fire did provide the benefit of destroying all records of his involvement though, with an added opportunity to remake the manor to his own liking. Perhaps the extra coin was worth it. His dreams of future power were sharply interrupted by the house steward.
“Is it wise to rebuild before you brother and his family are found?” It was Ra’Med’s advisor, Mojdul. “This is still his house after all.”
“They have been missing for weeks Mojdul. They are most assuredly dead by now,” Ra’Sir answered. “Call off the searches. Have a funeral arranged, my brother and his family deserve to be rightfully honored.”
“But Ra’Sir, surely we-“
“I am your Lord now. You and I both know I am the only living relative to Ra’Med, and in his absence, this house is mine. We will do what we can to honor my brother, then you will announce that I am now Lord of House Solvandi. The people deserve to have a leader.”
“Understood… My Lord.” Mojdul walked away. Ra’Sir sensed the Khajiit’s suspicion. He would need to keep a close eye on the steward in the future. Ra’Sir left the construction site and headed to his temporary housing. He had an appointment to keep.
Night fell as Ra’Sir entered that bleak hideout. He was glad to soon be rid of these drab garments. All this sneaking around in disguise did not suit him well. As he made his way through the thieves den, he was greeted by Qa’Dul. “Greetings my Lord,” he began. “How go your political affairs?”
“Good,” he answered. “Reconstruction is on schedule and my people will soon now their new leader.”
“How excellent. I have only one concern my Lord.” Qa’Dul swiftly drew his dagger and raised it to Ra’Sir’s throat. “You betrayed me. My men rot in your dungeons. This was never part of our agreement. Why should I let you leave here alive?”
“Put down your blade. The people naturally would have wanted justice. Your men will be treated well, and after emotions have settled, I will release them back to you. You have my word.”
Qa’Dul lowered his dagger. While this unexpected development was not in his best interest, Ra’Sir did raise a good point. He did pay as promised, he could be trusted. “Ha, apologize goo sir. I suppose there is no need to raise any unwanted suspicions.” Qa’Dul began pouring some ale for Ra’Sir and himself. “The witnesses have been taken care of as you requested. I believe you owe me some payment.”
“Of course,” Ra’Sir replied. The Khajiit produced a hefty coin purse from under his cloak and presented it to Qa’Dul.
“Ahh, very nice,” he replied. “No loose ends, right?” He lifted his mug and began to take a long drink from it.
“Precisely,” Ra’Sir answered. He quickly drew a dagger of his own and plunged it deep into the mercenary’s exposed throat. “No loose ends.”
“Ouch.” Ja’Rakhar’s hands were raw. He had seldom ever been told to make his own bed, let alone be forced to do manual labor. Even J’urabi looked exhausted.
“I know it stings, but you must at least let me wrap them up my child.” The family had been working the mines in Vvardenfell for several days now, each day becoming harder than the last. Ja’Rakhar wasn’t sure how much longer he would last here.
J’urabi rolled over to face his mother. “Mother, I’m hungry,” he whimpered.
“I know dear. Just try to not think about it.” Elehana was crushed. The overseers only gave out so much food, and the stronger Khajiit often fought over rations. All that was left for them was whatever scraps that the others had missed. It pained her greatly to watch her children suffer. What could she do though?
“There, how does that feel?” she asked Ja’Rakhar.
“A little better,” he replied. Ja’Rakhar went over to his bedroll by his brother to lay down. He was so tired.
The next day came quickly, and the heat was grueling in the pit. Ja’Rakhar tried to work the pick axe again, but each swing shot searing pain through his arms. He dropped the pick and went in search for a place to rest for a little.
“Get back to work, cat!” One of the overseers around the corner had spotted an elderly Khajiit that had collapsed from exhaustion. “I said get up!” the elf yelled. The overseer cracked his whip and lashed the old Khajiit. The Khajiit screamed in agony, but managed to get to his feet and return to the wall. “Worthless mongrels,” the elf sneered.
A hand grabbed Ja’Rakhar by the shoulder, scaring the young cub. “Hey,” the grisly Khajiit said. “Get busy, or that will be you next.” Ja’Rakhar looked down at his palms. His wounds had begun to bleed through the bandaging. “Gods,” the Khajiit said. “Here. Just take these stones over to the wagon. You don’t want any of these elves to catch you not working.” The stones were heavy, but it was better than swinging a pick. He wondered how the others were doing.
“There you are.” J’urabi had appeared with a small bowl in his hands. “I got some water or us. Don’t drink it all, this is all I could get.” J’urabi looked at the rock pile by the other Khajiit. “Come on, I’ll help you with these.” The cubs continued hauling the stones.
Further down the wall, Elehana walked up into the guard tower. She had been instructed to bring water to the head taskmaster. The clay jug was immensely heavy, but she managed to carry it up the stairs. “About damn time,” the elf shouted. “I thought you cats were supposed to be quick on your feet.” The other overseers in the tower chuckled. The elf took a drink of the water and immediately kicked the jug over. “Bah! This water is hot! Go and get some more, and be quick about it this time!”
Elehana retrieved the jug and headed back down to the well, trying hard to hold back her tears. How humiliating. Memories of her home in Corinthe crept into her mind. She thought of how she may never see her home, and certainly never see her beloved husband again. She forced it into the back of her head. All she could do now was survive and keep her children safe.
As the days passed, Ja’Rakhar and J’urabi had managed to learn a few tricks to make their labor a little less strenuous. They had decided to take turns working the pick and loading the stones into the cart. After each load was dumped, they would switch roles. The work was still nowhere near easy, but it did help.
On top of the wall, one of the overseers appeared with a couple elves beside him. “Feeding time!” he shouted. As the enslaved Khajiit looked up, the elves began dumping buckets of leftover food into the pit. As if blessings from Alkosh himself, the food landed right infront of the young cubs. Their joy would be short lived though, as a storm of hungry Khajiit rushed toward the food.
“Move, runt!” one of the Khajiit yelled. Ja’Rakhar was thrown from the food and into a nearby wall. As he fell toward the ground, he reached out his arm to try and break his fall. He hit the ground hard though, and his arm bent the wrong way. Ja’Rakhar shouted in agony. J’urabi saw his brother badly hurt and ran to his aide. Dodging frenzied fists, J’urabi managed to pull his brother out of the fray.
The Khajiit fought savagely, biting, clawing, whatever it took to get some of the food. The elves watched from above, taking great joy in the chaos ensuing below. It saddened to cubs to see such a noble people reduced to mere entertainment. Elehana darted around the corner and found her children. She had heard a scream and feared the worst. “Are you alright?” she asked urgently. They were, save for the injury to Ja’Rakhar’s arm. The fight raged on as Elehana tended to her cubs.
At last, the fighting had settled, and the family went to look for any scraps that might still be there. There was very little left, most of which was covered in blood and fur. It would have to suffice. The peace would be short lived though, as the overseer above cracked his whip. “Back to work cats!”
The Khajiit all went back to their places on the wall and continued to mine. J’urabi scanned his brother’s arm. “I’ll take the pick for a while just haul the smaller rocks.” When the cubs had filled the cart, it was time to dump its contents. It took both of them to move the heavy wagon. Somehow, this load seemed much heavier to Ja’Rakhar then the ones before. As the cubs struggled with the cart, a sudden shot of pain surged through Ja’Rakhar’s arm. In a howl of pain, the young cub lost his grip and sent the cart tumbling to the ground. As the rocks spilled out, one almost hit an overseer stand near them.
Caught by complete surprise, the now enraged elf yelled “Hey you little runt!” The elf sent to whip straight toward to cub. The frightened Ja’Rakhar was just able to dodge the whip, but was consumed by another pulse of pain through his arm. “Stay still damn it!” The elf lashed toward Ja’Rakhar again, his whip thirsting for blood. Elehana ran toward to elf and pushed him down, saving her son. The elven overseer was absolutely furious. “Grab them!” he ordered the other elves.
The elves apprehended Elehana and her cubs, forcing her to the ground and ripping open the back of her blouse. The overseer looked at Ja’Rakhar with fiery eyes. “Your mother certainly loves you, you little runt.”
The elf beat Elehana mercilessly with the whip. Her screams echoed throughout the pit, causing the other Khajiit to stop and watch the scene in horror. As the beating continued, blood spit out onto the cubs. Even after the brutal lashing, the elf was still dissatisfied. He pulled Elehana up to her knees by the hair and brought a vicious dagger to her throat. The cubs struggled to break free of their captors to get to their mother, but the elves were too strong for them.
“Control them!” the overseer demanded. “I want them to watch this.” The elves pushed the cubs to their knees and forced their heads in their mother’s direction. “Pay attention runts. This is what happens to heroes here.”
Elehana took one last look at her children. In a painful whisper, she sent them her last words. “Be strong by children. I love you.” With that, the blade slashed Elehana’s throat open, spraying blood everywhere. With an evil grin, the elf dropped her limp body in a pool of her own blood, leaving the young cubs with their now dead mother.
The elves would pay...
This post was last modified: September 12th 2013 04:31 PM by Do'Rakk
Va Khaj Dar, To be Desert Thief, is not only our name.
It is also our way of life.
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