Life is Hard for a Khajiit
Back in Elsweyr, the place I am from, things were not as bad as this. Yet they were bad enough to put my paws to wandering, so I suppose they could not have been that good, either.
I have seen many things. Valenwood and her migratory trees. I thought them legend until they passed by me while I lay asleep on the mossy floor of the forest. The White Tower of Cyrodiil I have seen as well. It is a strange people, I think, that put so much work into a thing such as that. But what do I know? I am Khajiit. The sands and the smell of the desert are the things I know, and now they are so far away.
I have killed three men since I left Elsweyr. The first was a foolish bandit who tried to rob me as I slept beneath a tree near Balmora. I caved his head in with a rock. The other two died by the blade. They were clean kills, but they were not honest kills.
I came to Skryim to join the Imperial Legion. Saalam, my uncle from another life, always said that I had a fast sword. One worth more coin than most.
But Solitude was far away, and every inn and city I sought shelter from took me for a moon sugar peddler or a caravan cat, looking to undercut their prices and their wares. They put me out in the cold and the snow with dark looks in their eyes. Hatred in their hearts. I spent many hard nights huddled in the shadow of a city’s walls, not welcome to the hearth fires I could hear crackling within.
I began to wonder – why should I fight for those who spurn me? Even if there is coin in it.
I met Lothor and his kin on the road from Whiterun to Rorikstead. A pleasant enough road wreathed in blue butterflies. I admit that I was caught in a daydream when they passed by, and for a moment I thought I had slipped into some deeper vision. Not since entering this frozen country had I seen another of my kinfolk.
Then all at once I saw four.
Lothor and his three sisters. Lothor had a pelt as black as the night, like mine. And his sisters were each covered in silver spots. They were caravan traders and moon sugar peddlers, they told me. Perhaps I should have been angry. For it was these thieves and poison peddlers who truly turned me out of those inns and cities, who put the hate in the Nords’ eyes. But how could I be angry at my own people? And, I suppose there is no reason to lie, I liked the silver spots of Lothor’s sisters. I shall not tell you their names. Not now.
We shared the road for a time, chatting and lamenting on memories of home. We were interrupted by two city guards of Whiterun. They harried us – five Khajiits must be up to no good, they figured. When they tried to search Lotho’s wares he drew steel and beat one guard back with a flurry of blows. Steel on steel rang out, and Lothor’s sisters moved to join the fight even though they wore no weapons except their claws.
I decided it was time for me to join something as well.
When both guards’ life blood was pooling between the rocks of the road, and Lothor had seen what I could do with a blade, he took me on as a bodyguard.
“Two warriors are better than one,” he said, smiling a toothy cat smile.
Ten gold pieces a day. A decent wage, I think. And I was to have a share of all the profits when we reached a town.
For a time I forgot my sadness, and learned to smile again. Some days the sun shined bright enough to warm my face and feet, and if I closed my eyes I could for a moment imagine that I was back in Elsweyr. Back home.
When we were three days from Markarth everything fell apart.
Instead of waking up to the sound of wind combing through pine trees and the smell of fresh fish being fried by Lothor’s sisters, I awoke to the sound of screams and the smell of Khajiit blood, which smells different from other blood. More familiar.
I drew my sword and cut a hole in the back of my tent, snuck out behind a copse of pines and looped around a rock outcropping so I could see what was going on.
“By the order of the Jarl of Markarth, I am placing you all under arrest,” a voice called. I peeked over the rocks and saw soldiers. Six of them. Lothor’s sisters were on their knees. I did not see Lothor himself.
“For what? We have done nothing,” one of Lothor’s sisters wailed.
“You are all thieves and poison peddlers. Do not bother to deny it.” The man speaking wore the heavy armor of an officer. Armor that was too strong for my sword to pierce easily. “And your brother was a murderer,” the officer continued. “You think Markarth forgets a Khajiit like him? We do not forget.”
Was a murderer? I thought.
It was then that I opened my eyes and truly saw the scene beneath me. None of Lothor’s sisters were bleeding, but the smell of Khajiit blood was rank in the air. Overpowering. Somewhere, a Khajiit was dying or dead.
And then one of the guards turned some, and I saw Lothor’s head in his mailed fist. He held him by the ears. Blood was dripping from the stump of his neck like rain drips from the edge of a roof during the last parts of a thunderstorm.
I have always been good with a blade. Faster than most. But what was I to do against six armored men? My blade is not that good. I am not that fast.
They bound Lothor’s sisters and searched the tents. I watched. All three of Lothor’s sisters tensed when they entered my tent, and I saw confusion in their eyes when the soldier came back out, shrugging. One of the sisters, the prettiest one, frowned and her eyes searched the horizon. She found me with those pretty eyes, and I saw the same darkness fill her that filled the innkeepers and the shop masters who turned me out. The same hatred boil over in her heart.
If I had held any notion of rescuing them, it faded away in that moment like a mudcrab hiding himself in a dirty, shallow puddle. The soldiers led them away and I sat crouched behind the rock, full of sorrow I do not know a word for.
Where do I go now? This I do not know, either. The Legion will never have me, I realize now. I do not think I can go back to Elsweyr anymore. I have seen too much blood spilled on foreign sands to feel at home there again.
So I point my paws to the west, where there are mountains and then the land of High Rock. And then I put one paw in front of the other.