The sun faded, shining golden through the lake’s reeds. Cicadas grew louder in the tall grasses, only quieted now and then by a brisk warm breeze whipping through the fronds, billowing in yurt flaps that were not tied down.
Drai sat cleaning the pelt of a fresh kill under the eaves of his tent, meticulously scraping off fur with his hunting knife. The pelt was–or had been–a deer, come down from the Velothi Mountains perhaps, or maybe escaped from the Mournhold market. He had heard stories about that. Some Nord or enterprising Imperial would try to sell the creatures as pets. They would invariably escape, or die from the bad air blowing off of Morrowind’s volcanoes. Outlanders didn’t last long in the Vale, furred or otherwise.
And yet, Drai considered, he wouldn’t be sitting here plucking the fur if it hadn’t been for the teaching of those outlanders. Most of Morrowind’s creatures were scaled or sported carapaces. Only the rats had fur, and no one in his right mind would skin a rat. The Dunmer had to learn that sort of leatherworking from the outlanders.
“Wisdom comes from many places,” he murmured to himself, recalling what he had said to the hot-blooded mabrigash at the shrine of the Ghost Snake. Zeketah was a newcomer to this part of Morrowind, and had been angered at finding the Ashlanders in Deshaan worshiping something other than Mephala. Lack of faith, she had called it derisively. She had chided Drai for not working to correct the heresy.
But was it really lack of faith? Drai wondered. Or something else?
Drai had been just as disturbed when he had come to the Vale of the Ghost Snake, and had found the tribes paying homage to something other than the Daedra, as was traditional. Yet something held him back from total condemnation. Some sense of his Sight, or of righteousness… And while standing at the shrine of the Ghost Snake with Zeketah, Drai was surprised to find himself promising that he would put an arrow through the mabrigash’s eye before seeing the mysterious Ghost Snake harmed.
Not that the Ghost Snake had appeared, so the question was never broached. But Zeketah had picked up on his reluctance, and expressed her displeasure in his lack of faith.
Lack of faith? Drai again wondered. Where did he stand with Mephala?
Drai snorted irritably at himself, tossing the cleaned pelt onto a stack of others, to be treated later. Who knew what any spirit thought, Daedra or otherwise? Sometimes Drai had to agree with the House Dunmer’s pragmatism. At least they could ask their gods questions like these, and get tangible answers, not just ill portents and sour dreams.
But thinking that just put the Ashlander in a worse mood. Drai turned over the next pelt and continued his work. He barely noticed that he was scraping away more than just fur in his irritation.