Kyne’s Challenge: The Hunter’s Lament

Aftermath and Regrouping

The categorization and evaluation of the potency of every fearsome entity of Tamriel continues, but we walk the precipice; our journey across the northern climates ended in tragedy, as one of our number was discovered (too late) to be hiding the filth of lycanthropy. It was only down to good fortune that my standing in Hammerfell allowed us to keep our heads, after the market town of Bergama bore witness to violence, and our Orc brother fell to the claw of Fenrig. Our hunt loses its focus, but new recruits shall beckon us down the right path. My hope is that this book charts our progress, the searching for the beasts of this land, the methods of slaying and harvesting them, the toils of the wilderness, the brevity of camp life, so that even an uppish Imperial may look down his nose at these rough notes and glean knowledge.
We rededicate ourselves to completing Kyne’s challenge—to stand erect in any tavern or street, hold aloft the freshly slain rabbit or recently severed troll head, and proudly exclaim to all that we are hunters! We live off the bounty that nature provides, no matter the landscape. Our castles are caves and woodland glades; our monasteries the moorland and mountain climbing at sun’s set. Those that read this parchment should expect to learn many of our secrets, for too many across this realm rely on others to kill, fetch, and prepare their food. Hark back to a life of subsistence! And if you find yourself alone in the bewildering vastness of Tamriel’s wilds? Does a ghost, a snake, or a Daedra menace stalk you? Then face it down without fear, using the knowledge I have imparted here!
Our path continues to be testing. The incursions of Daedra now appear almost daily, forcing our hands to our swords more often than tracking our prey. The three great alliances continue their bickering and politicking. But Kyne looks down on us with fondness. Her blessing is all our souls seek.

Guildmaster of the Fighters Guild of Sentinel,
Nord of Windhelm; 19th of Mid Year, 2E 581, Bergama, Hammerfell

My ancestors farmed and fought to defend Eastmarch, and my soul will always be entwined in the thick stone walls of Windhelm, but I now swelter in Sentinel, tending to the youngsters that wish to perfect the art of combat. The guild allows this grand challenge, so I may explore these lands of Mundus, and better explain how to slay its great throng of creatures. This brings me closer to Kyne, who provides all my knowledge and safety. The hunt began, and shall end, with Ingjard by my side. Though her judgment has lacked of late, her loyalty is without question. My toleration for Elves, Orcs, and beast-men is well known, and I have two of the latter in my ranks (although one watches at the request of my benefactor). Alas, a wound in my hand only allows me to write without pain, so the charcoal sketch work flows from the hand of Ingjard throughout this volume.

Although Roggvir the Ready is known as the Protector of Rorikstead, the wounds inflicted by his brother Fenrig the Unsteady have not had time to heal: The body of Bashnag gro-Gorzoth is still to be burned in accordance with Orcish custom. But he joins us from Skyrim, to collect the ashes of his twin, and to offer his sorrow, talents, and fealty to make amends. I have sworn to kill both Ingjard and Roggvir with my bare hands if he too is afflicted with his brother’s disease, but they both swear to Ysgramor he is not a beast. Under normal circumstances I would find Roggvir to be among the finest of hunters, warriors, and drinkers of our land. But the traitorous savagery of Fenrig still haunts us all.

Though a friend for many years and a tracker without equal, Ingjard has suffered with me since bringing that werewolf into our ranks. My anger with her has not subsided, but I am ready to forgive, as her mistake is weighing heavily on her conscience. Instead of stewing, let me concentrate on her talents: She can track an ice wraith in a snowdrift. Her arrows seem destined to strike their targets (A feat all the more impressive, as she hides one mangled hand inside a gauntlet). The famed hunter Holgunn One-Eye seeks her out first when snow bears are to be culled, While my wounds heal, she has agreed to add her artistry with the charcoal to these pages.

I never thought I’d see the day when an Argonian was my most trusted associate. But this lizard has proven his worth throughout the exploits across northern Tamriel. He eats like a thin chicken. He skins slaughtered prey like a Whiterun butcher. He fires a bow like a Bosmer. And he takes orders like a conscript. Armory Sergeant Belderi Llenim’s letter of reference was entirely accurate. I wish to scrub my earlier description of him as a “Boot”; although he cannot go one sentence without mentioning a babbling brook or mighty oak tree, and his pets annoy all that step on them, his expertise and demeanor are first rate. His knowledge of Black Marsh shall be critical. Now, if only I could teach him to swig mead like a proper Nord, and not a dainty High Elf.

Somehow, the Argonian has managed to gather two pests on his travels (though he regards them with fondness, referring to them as familiars). They scuttle and skedaddle about his feet, while they get under everyone else’s boots. Scuttler is a small lizard found in Morrowind that loves to nip at fingers. Young Salty is a mudcrab that adores snapping at toes. Together, they will be soon for the cooking pot.

A newcomer to our merry band, and a diplomat that helped ensure our altercation in Bergama didn’t escalate into arrests and abject groveling before King Fahara’jad. Not that he worships the ruler of Hammerfell, as Namasur is an Ash’abah, a desert marauder from the Alik’r foothills. His skills are more than mouthed pleasantries; he is supremely skilled with the spear and scimitar, and professes a great deal of knowledge about Daedra; indeed, he left his tribe to observe and slay as many of Oblivion’s horde as possible, as well as to stalk a lich that wronged him. I have no hesitation in welcoming him, especially as he seems capable of ending quarrels with great wit and artfulness; his friendship with Kishra-do seems proof enough of this.

It pains me to permit Kishra-do to accompany us, but after our recent and violent embarrassment, her insistence that she do so to ensure her master’s ingredients aren’t scattered across Mundus has been met with little protest. Kishra-do acts as the pet for the trade elder Zagun-ra, a well-to-do merchant (and our benefactor) from the settlement of Dune, and her aloofness may yet cause animosity from the more jovial members of our pack. She is formidable with her daggers, having been rescued from the life of a pit fighter, but seems content to write on our ingredients ledger. Still, our trek through Elsweyr is eased by her presence. I was surprised to see her friendship with Namasur, as she is normally as emotionally cold as a naked swim in the Sea of Ghosts.

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