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Azurah's Crossing

Author: 
Amun-dro

by Amun-dro, the Silent Priest

His feet touched sand and he knew he had died. He could not remember how it happened, but found he did not care either. It had been a life well-lived, whether he believed so or not, and all had been exactly as it was meant to be.

He could not remember his name. He was still Khajiit, that much he knew. He felt his claws, and his whiskers, and his fur. He smelled salt and sugar.

He opened his eyes when he remembered having them, looking out at an endless sea. There were old things there, above and below. He saw he was not alone. Other spirits slowly drifted away from the shore. He thought better of calling out to them. The sand was warm between his toes and the sky was painted dusk.

He turned to look upon the island. There was a house there, one of glass and moonlight and truth. The smell of sugar was stronger in that direction, so he walked that way.

The sand shifted under his feet, never quite giving him sure-footing. When he tried to step up to what seemed to be stone, it crumbled beneath his foot. Still he walked, and stumbled, and climbed. He reached a stair and stepped on to it, but it was made of transparent glass. Even though it was sturdier than the sand, he found it difficult to trust each step. Still he walked, and stumbled, and climbed. He reached the door to the house of light, but he could not open it. He looked up to the sky and the Lattice. He tried to remember the Motions, the secrets a Mother had taught him, but it was hard, and the Lattice kept shaking. Still he walked, and stumbled, and climbed.

The gates to the house opened and he walked inside. He knew She was there. He knew he would be struck blind if he looked upon Her, but he could not help it. He looked upon Azurah, She Who Sits at the Precipice, and he saw Her. He was not blinded. She was lithe and tall, reclining on a cloudy bed of stars. She wore nothing, yet he could only see one of her faces. There her eyes shined like the Moons.

"My child," Azurah said, and he remembered his name. "You've come home."

"I have been here before," said the Khajiit.

"You have walked many paths," Azurah replied with a purr. A path of roses formed before his feet, leading up to her. "All for me."

He stepped onto the path of roses. Thorns cut his feet. The closer he got to Azurah, the farther away she appeared to be. She rose higher and higher until he was climbing a wall of roses and his fur was matted with blood. Each time he reached the top of the wall and pulled himself over, he was standing at the start of the path again. Still he walked, and stumbled, and climbed.

He was in Her cupped hands then. Her face was the sky and Her eyes the Bright Moons. He lived there in sugary bliss for many lifetimes before his feet touched sand again.

Now he was on the other side of the island. It was dark and cold. It was so dark that he could only see the water when it moved. If there were any spirits there, they were one with the darkness. His tail twitched.

He turned and saw Azurah once again, smaller now to stand alongside him. She carried a Moon-Staff and wore a silken dress of purple and gold. She appeared not unlike a mortal. Beautiful and weary. She looked with him out into the darkness.

The Khajiit saw the sadness in Azurah's eyes. She had given him so much, he knew, and he had given so little in return. "I am ready to walk again," he said at last. "What would you have me do?"

"I must send you into the dark, little one." There were tears in Her eyes, but She did not let them fall. "You must make a path for me."

He looked back over the dark water, noticing just how much it moved. "I will do anything you ask, Mother."

Azurah smiled at that, and his heart was glad. She plucked the Moon from atop her staff and stepped toward him.

"I give to you my Moon," Azurah said, and She put Her lips to his forehead and kissed him. And as he took the Moon, it became a weapon.

The Khajiit held the blade before him. It shined with Moonlight and he no longer feared the dark.

And Azurah told him: "Bring my children back."

Epistle on the Spirits of Amun-dro Vol 3

Author: 
Thava-ko

Thava-ko sings now a song of Riddle'Thar. Let its sweetest truth rest upon Thava-ko's tongue.

Now Thava-ko thinks on the Path.

The ancient Amun-dro's catalog of spirits offers us little more than vagaries when it comes to moral action. This comes as no surprise. In truth, the First Mane's epiphany had little to do with the aged stories of kingdoms past. Before Riddle'Thar, priests and adepts busied themselves deciphering the arcane ramblings of ancient prophets—gleaning precious little from vast and crumbling archives. How like pearl divers they were! Prying open countless ugly shells in the vain hope of finding some tiny treasure within.

You must ask yourselves, what profits a Khajiit to puzzle over such a text? You who wield the scythe. You who drive the wagons. You who work the forge. Do these tales of cosmic import bring you solace in your darkest moments? When you turn to thievery to feed a sick child, or watch your father whip your brother for a sin you committed, or struggle under the heel of a foreign oppressor, what guidance can you find in these old myths? They speak of "paths" and "laws," but Amun-dro's path is little more than this: obedience. Slavish devotion to our distant mother, Azurah. Deference and respect for darkest spirits of Oblivion. Tangled, contradictory virtues that threaten to send one tumbling whisker-first into the gaping maw of Lorkhaj. Amun-dro's world is a world of woe—a swirling gyre of fate and darkness where the Khajiit have no voice beyond hymns of worship or screams of terror.

What of Llesw'er? What of joy, and good food, and honest labor? Riddle'Thar, as described by our blessed First Man, offers a true path. Better yet, it is a path you already know. The Two-Moons Dance whirls and reels in your heart, just as it always has since the moment of your birth. You needn't look to the distant past. Look to the now, and the road ahead—tread clean by the paws of faithful pilgrims. Nirni's bounty and the Sands of paradise are your birthright, Moon-child. Cast aside Amun-dro's morbid tales and live a joyful life worthy of the Sugar God!

Epistle on the Spirits of Amun-dro Vol 2

Author: 
Thava-ko

Thava-ko sings now a song of Riddle'Thar. Let its sweetest truth rest upon Thava-ko's tongue.

One of our people's greatest strengths lies in our flexibility. We do not jail free-thinkers as Dark Elves do. We do not decry salads as a blasphemy like the stubby acorn-worshipers of Valenwood. We do not pledge our souls only to eight dusty myths like the furless litters of long-dead Alessia. To be a Khajiit is to be free—free of cruel dogma, and free of bitter self-denial. Riddle'Thar does not kneel and mumble, it dances and sings! Ours is a faith rooted in joy, and faithful indulgence, and grinning charity. Alas, this strength often slides into shrugging disregard. We let our claws slip from the truth and wonder if "truth" even matters. Worship and transaction fall into eclipse. Well-earned relaxation gives way to a kitten's indolence. Our spirits grow poor. And a spirit so afflicted makes itself the perfect prey for the dro-m'Athra.

Amun-dro's catalogue of spirits preys on the worst aspects of our carefree natures. Take the inclusion of Mafala, the Eight-Clawed. Were the bloody horrors of the Sinner Suicides not proof enough of her dark nature? Consider also the Tide-King, Hermorah. This document would have us believe that Azurah walks the dampened halls of his dark library as friend. If our distant mother does this, should we not do the same? No! For Khajiit who call on Hermorah's counsel risk a fate worse than death. Mumbles from the sea will tear a mind asunder as surely as the most potent skooma. His briny "truths" shred our sense of reality and set us adrift—far from ja-Kha'jay.

We must also consider who this catalog of spirits excludes. These books offer the rosiest descriptions of malevolent beings, but what of loving Mara and noble S'rendarr? This ancient zealot, Amun-dro, fails even to mention their names. And why? Because his aged theology offers no refuge for simple virtues like charity, humility, and love. Our beloved Rid-Thar-ri'Datta offered us more than Clan Mother tales—he offered us grace. In a world so crowded by great spirits and grand cosmic plans, where does the simple Khajiit rest his weary paws? The Two-Moons Dance speaks plainly. It has no need for ancient conflicts—only simple precepts that lead to a life well-lived. In the end, a joyful life is the greatest gift of the Riddle'Thar.

Epistle on the Spirits of Amun-dro Vol 1

Author: 
Thava-ko

Thava-ko sings now a song of Riddle'Thar. Let its sweetest truth rest upon Thava-ko's tongue.

Hear Thava-ko's voice, children of the Two-Moons Dance. Word reaches us in the Torval Curiata that an ancient book—a pre-ri'Datta catalog of spirits, assembled by an ancient priest named Amun-dro—has captured the imaginations of Khajiit throughout Pellitine. Our people seem taken with its colorful and otherworldly descriptions of powerful spirits, both good and evil. Adepts from far and wide have come to Thava-ko with curious hearts and twitching tails, asking why they were not taught these old scriptures. We Khajiit are a curious and playful people, but some subjects carry great risk. We cannot, in good conscience, allow this heretical document to fester in the minds of light-minded ja'Khajiit. For that reason, Thava-ko and her fellow priests publish this refutation. Spread this far and wide, faithful litter of Rid-Thar-ri'Datta.

In the dark times before the First Mane's revelation, our forebears held scattered beliefs—sixteen faiths that tumbled and scratched their way through history, competing for the souls of all Khajiit. This spiritual chaos led us down many paths, all of which carried great risk. You need only look upon our bent kin, the dro-m'Athra, to find the proof of these perils. This book of profanities is the product of those dark times. Shall we return to the era of sixteen wars, and hunter-fiefs, and pitiless famine? No, and no, and no again! In the truth of Riddle'Thar, we find more than spiritual fulfillment. We find a rock to build upon—an end to the shifting sands of old. We find a better path through peace and order.

This old text carries greater danger because it hides its blasphemies under a shroud of truth. Many of its attestations walk paw-in-paw with Riddle'Thar, such as its praise for the Moons, and its deference to the blessed spirits: Khenarthi, S'rendarr, and others. But its darker fables lay hidden like snares. Take, for instance, its account of the Moon Beast, Lorkhaj.

Who knows noisy Lorkhaj's darkness better than the Khajiit? We all suffer the call to the Dark at some point in our lives. Who among us has not heard the beating drum of the Dark Heart in our moments of deepest sorrow or most anguished regret? To lift up the first dro-m'Athra as a hero of our people defies both faith and reason. How many adepts shall fall to Namiira on account of this document? How many ja'khajiit will call on the Moon Beast, intent on reviving his true spirit, only to be swallowed by his eternal curse? Any thief can tell you that the surest path to a victim's purse starts with a smile. A smiling Lorkhaj is too dangerous to contemplate.

The Favored Daughter of Fadomai

Author: 
Amun-dro

by Amun-dro, the Silent Priest

In the Great Darkness, all of Fadomai's children had left her. All save Azurah.

Azurah held her mother and did not ask for a gift. Instead she wept, the light of the Lattice was reflected in her tears.

Fadomai whispered to Azurah three secrets and more. She told her daughter many things, stories of love and war and dreams undreamt. And Azurah wept more to hear these things, so much that moonlight shined in the darkness.

And Fadomai told Azurah the names of all gates and thresholds, and the names of all the spirits, and the names of all the Khajiit that would ever live. And Azurah wept more to hear how difficult their paths would be, so much that the light of her tears became one with the Lattice.

And Fadomai told stories of her children and her favorite aspects of each of them. When she reached Azurah, she smiled and told her favored daughter she could not decide. And Fadomai died.

Azurah sat in the Great Darkness for timeless ages, musing on what she had learned and mourning the loss of her mother. Still she wept, and now the darkness fled from her tears and from the Lunar Lattice. She wept for so long that soon she was no longer in the Great Darkness, but in a place of moonlight and shadow.

And Azurah tried to return to Fadomai-Mother, but her tears had formed a great sea. Beyond it was a black gate that opened into a hungering dark.

Lorkhaj stood in the doorway. He was broken and bleeding, and there was a hole in his chest. But the Great Darkness was still in his blood, and it filled the hole where his heart had been. The dark mass beat like a heart, and black blood spilled out onto the threshold. Azurah heard each beat of the heart like the beating of a drum, and each drop of blood tapped to form a rhythm she felt in her tail.

But Fadomai had taught Azurah the names of all of the spirits, so she recognized the Great Darkness for what it was, and she roared in time with the song:

UR DRA NA MII RA UR DRA NA MII RA UR DRA AZU RA

And Azurah tore out the dark heart of Lorkhaj, and all of the darkness in him came with it, and she cast it beyond the sea.

From the Dark Heart of Lorkhaj was born the Moon Beast, the first of the dro-m'Athra, who lurks at the edge of the Lattice and knows nothing but hunger.

And with the darkness bled from him, Azurah could see her mother in Lorkhaj, and she held him until he died.

Azurah burned what remained of his body before the gate, lighting the fire with lanterns of love and mercy. She wept for her brother Lorkhaj, and her tears fell upon the pyre.

As the ashes of Lorkhaj scattered across the Lattice, even the Moon Beast became silent for a time.

Then Azurah dried her eyes at last and went unto the World. Her time of grieving was over, and Fadomai had given her so much to do.

Twilight Cantors: The Exorcists of Azurah

Author: 
Theyo Prevette

In my travels as a ghost hunter, I've encountered all manner of strange spirits and unusual entities, but I've never seen anything quite like the possession occasionally suffered by Khajiit. It starts as a sort of mental twitch, a tick of the tail, and an ear-worm the afflicted can't quite shake.

According to Khajiit folklore, this is the first signs of becoming a Lost Cat. Without intervention, the Khajiit become more and more enthralled by an unheard tune. They begin to move along with the beat, performing unsettling motions they call the Bent Dance. Now I'd understand if you thought this madness was simply the result of an ailment or disease, but once the afflicted begins the Bent Dance proper the evidence of possession is unmistakable.

As the Khajiit continues to dance, their body begins a transformation. Their fur turns black and dark energies emanate from their body that even the uninitiated can see. Unlike most other possessions, the soul of the possessed isn't driven out to make room for the new spirit. Instead, the true occupant is twisted along with their form. Once the transformation is complete, they cease being Khajiit at all and become beings called "dro-m'Athra." These evil spirits go on to cause more harm until they are banished from Nirn.

To fight again this horrifying affliction, the Khajiit formed an order of wandering priests who use song to fight off the strange tune's influence. These are the Twilight Cantors. They claim the Dusk-Canticles they perform were a gift to the Khajiit from their "god" Azurah. I can't attest to the truth of that claim. By my estimation, the Daedric Princes bring nothing but horrors to our world. At any rate, I can say that when observing a Khajiit caught in the Bent Dance, the words of the Twilight Cantors seemed to soothe the afflicted and return them to some semblance of sense and self. I witnessed a cantor sing for three days to drive out the unnatural energies from a victim. Then, without so much as a moment's rest, she was off down the path in search of more darkness to banish.

These traveling mystics spend their entire lives on the road, ever vigilant in their fight against the dro-m'Athra. The Twilight Cantors have little in the way of possessions, carrying only the necessities and tools that assist them in their duties. They charge no fee for their work, instead living on the offerings Khajiit make in appreciation of their service. I noticed that Khajiit treat the cantors with a mixture of reverence and fear. It's a common belief that a cantor's visit is a sign of imminent misfortune and the folk who play host to them are quick to make offerings to guarantee the cantor's protection. Given that the stakes at risk involve the irrevocable corruption of their souls, you can imagine why.

As a professional ghost hunter, I have to respect the devotion it takes to risk your very soul every day for nothing more than a sense of justice. So, if you ever cross paths with one of these devoted exorcists, be courteous and pay them your respects with your coin pouch for their tireless and dangerous work.

How We Came to Fly

Author: 
Anonymous

Before Fadomai defied Ahnurr and the world was born, Khenarthi flew swift and high, beyond even great Alkosh's reach. Though she was boundless and free, she had no one to share her joy with, so she begged her mother to give her someone to share the skies. Fadomai gave her Jone and Jode in the night, Magrus in the day, and Azurah in the between, but each could only follow the path meant for them, and none could truly share Khenarthi's joy. Seeing this, Azurah spoke to Khenarthi a secret only they would share.

When one of Azurah's faithful children reached the end of their life, Khenarthi would snatch them up from Nirni's jealous claws and spirit them away to the Sands Behind the Stars. Thus, our chosen people were granted a path to Llesw'er, and Khenarthi could finally share her joy.

King Hemakar's Grave

Author: 
Anonymous

Hemakar

Bringer of Peace,

Beloved Father,

Honored King of Anequina

Now he prowls

the Sands Behind the Stars

Until the Next Pounce

Senche-rahts: Not Just Mounts

Author: 
Saharrzag; Chirrzari, scribe

By Saharrzag

Scribe: Chirrzari

Acknowledgments: My gratitude goes out to every single person who did not understand that I was and AM an intelligent being. For you, and others like you, I have had this pamphlet created. You know who you are. And if you don't after reading this and we meet, we'll have, at the very least, words. Also, thanks go to my scribe. I'm allowing her to keep her annotations within this pamphlet.

Long have the Senche-raht existed, and long have we served both ourselves and others in the role of protectors and defenders. Our form, being muscular and four-legged, is perfect for solo and partnered combat. When not paired with a partner, we can bound forth in great leaps to claw and bite at any who seek to harm us. A trained battle companion–and please mentally add an emphasis on "trained"–can help us become an even deadlier threat on the field of combat. Whether they're experienced in blade, staff, magic, or bow tactics, when paired with us they gain great mobility on the field, while we take advantage of any attacks they make. We watch for threats to the other, making it harder to bring either of us down, as well.

The above sounds like it would appeal to bloodthirsty individuals seeking better weapons and tactics on the field. Our abilities in combat are no secret.

[Scribe's note: This one has seen Senche-raht in combat. They are a ragestorm of claws and teeth. One should not wish to make enemies of such beings.]

But here's my message to those who think they can enthrall Senche-raht and use them against their free will.

Don't.

Some have tried before. It might seem like it's working for a little bit. But we find ways. Oh, do we find ways. And we have allies. Plus, if you don't have our permission and our acceptance, you're just not going to get the best performance out of us.

[Scribe's note: This one notes the esteemed Senche-raht is understating the above. They can be clever indeed. But this one will not reveal any of the Senche-rahts' tools, of course.]

In fact, we tell tales to our young about how to sabotage battle efforts in subtle and overt ways. No, I'm not foolish enough to share those with readers. They are not for you to know.

In short, if you do not work to gain our blessing for any endeavor you would have us tackle, you will ultimately fail. And you might not ever know why.

So, don't seek to have us on your side in anything unless it is as an equal.

Instead, talk with us. We are intelligent beings and worthy of being heard. And we listen well.

[Scribe's note: It is best to listen to Senche-raht when they choose to speak, yes.]

Now, all that aside, if you're reading this, when it comes to interacting with the Senche-raht, start from the position that we are intelligent beings who have our own lives and experiences. Never assume that we are simply mounts or pets or creatures used to wage war. We can be friends, we have family, and we can also be dreadful enemies. Start from the position that we are equals, always. As with any thinking being, it will be up to individual Senche-raht to take it from there.

Most importantly, because this comes up a lot, when you see someone we're partnered with who happens to be mounted and working with us? NEVER assume that this person is our owner, handler, or controller. "Partner" is a good starting point there.

[Scribe's note: If one does not start with "partner" when thinking of Senche-rahts, one might end up not thinking at all ever again. This one has seen that outcome.]

I hope this short pamphlet, if you've read it and truly taken in the words I've shared, helps you treat all Senche-raht with respect and not as mere beasts of burden or war. If it hasn't and we meet, I'll make a note of your behavior and decide how best to correct it. And so will every other Senche-raht.

[Scribe's note: It is true. Senche-raht have long and accurate memories. This one would rather start from that knowledge than hope that a given Senche-raht does not remember things. Hope is not a given, and life is already filled with too many challenges.]

The Tale of Three Moons

Author: 
Anonymous

In a time before our people's first memory, but long after Azurah's pyre claimed the flesh of the proud lion, Lorkhaj, our great mother wept and sighed–haunted by the fate of her brother's dark heart. As she prowled the hills and valleys of her wide domain, she could not escape the pounding–the faint, but constant drumbeat from across the churning seas. Somewhere in the Great Darkness, the fell rhythm of the Moon Beast quickened and grew stronger.

Knowing that her children of many shapes would fall to the Moon Beast's profanity, she purred across the stars, coaxing the lanterns of Jone and Jode to make way for a sky-guardian. This third moon and shield of the Lattice shone its light down upon Azurah's litter of purest heart and most fervent obedience. She called these cats the Litter of the Hidden Moon, and taught them the lunar byways, and secrets of the merciful blade. From that time on, they loved her as no other Khajiit could love her, and in that love, found sympathy for all cats bent by the beating of the Heart.

Beloved adepts, take these words into your heart and know that we keep Azurah's commandments still. For we are all children of the Hidden Moon.