The sun was shining beautifully on the farms just outside of Whiterun's walls on that pleasant Morndas morning.
"Ah, fresh air," N'feri said out loud to her two fellow khajiit companions as she stretched her arms up into the air.
The bright sunlight adding even more contrast to the snow-white stripes in her pitch black fur.
"You know, if you were not so special then we would not be allowed inside the cities you take us to so often," Inigo told the woman jokingly.
Kharjo hummed an agreement, "This one is most fortunate that he is allowed to step foot inside the cities of Skyrim, much less sleep there." he said.
"What are they going to do to me, tell me my traveling companions can't sleep in a house that I own?" N'feri scoffed as they walked across the drawbridge.
As the trio walked she noticed the caravan setting up beside the road, Ri'saad waved at the known thieve and her two brothers in arms upon seeing them.
"Just the man I was hoping to see today." N'feri greeted.
"Ri'saad was about to say the same when he saw the three of you approaching."
A quick exchange of pickpocketed and stolen goods took place between the merchant and the Dragonborn shortly after they exchanged pleasantries.
"Now, why were you hoping to see us?" Kharjo questioned, prompting Ri'saad to pull a small box out of his pocket.
"Because if the group of you were to see J'zargo in your travels Ri'saad had hoped to entrust this to someone he trusts rather than a stranger, Ri'saad doesn't trust couriers as far as he can throw them."
N'feri agreed quickly upon hearing the request of her and her companions, "We were heading to Winterhold anyway, we'll be sure he gets it." she told the merchant.
"It was sent in with the last shipment of supplies, from his family back home," he explained.
"May the twin moons bless your travels, friend." were the last words spoken to the trio before they left on their journey.
Kharjo and Inigo had been left to their own devices, being told to stay at the inn for a bit while N'feri ran some errands for a few of the college's inhabitants before finding J'zargo and giving him the box sent from Elsweyr.
Everything was going so well, soul gems were delivered, Tolfdir's Alembic was returned to him once again, the old man was always misplacing it, and N'feri had just given J'zargo the box Ri'saad had asked her to deliver, which had been opened to reveal a strange looking necklace inside, when Onmund came rushing into the room shortly after a ground-rattling boom that seemed to echo all around the room.
"Arch-mage!" he panted, "Something is going on, it looks like one of those ruptures like the one that appeared near Dragon Bridge." that statement made N'feri charge out of the room and out into the courtyard without a second thought.
Onmund was right, it did resemble the rupture that appeared near Dragon Bridge, aside from it appearing to have a pulsating strange green hue to it at least, but N'feri knew what she needed to do, so she ran down to retrieve her brothers in arms.
She didn't get far down the walkway when her two comrades came into view, jogging up the path, "Inigo, I need the staff of Magnus, it's another rupture that needs closing." she told him quickly.
"This one does not like all of this magic stuff, it makes the fur all frizzy," Kharjo commented as the three made their way up to the college courtyard.
Everyone seemed to be gathered there, but still staying a fair distance away from the rupture, even Urag had come outside to examine it.
Inigo walked beside N'feri as she neared the green area suspended in the air, followed closely by Kharjo, "It seems to be getting bigger." Onmund said from behind the khajiit.
N'feri raised her staff to the rupture but she did not get a chance to do much of anything else because the staff of Magnus had started to split up the middle and the ground started to quake just before a large horned beast attempted to come through the rupture.
The creature compared to a large frost atronach in size and loosely resembled a daedra, but looked much more menacing even as it struggled to fit through the rupture.
Most all of the mages backed away, too scared to even attempt to fight it, even the Dragonborn and her companions stood there frozen in disbelief.
"Unlike the lot of you, J'zargo is no scaredy cat!" the khajiit mage stepped forward in front of the teachers and students of the college, readying his magic in hand.
He let loose his destructive magic against the still struggling beast and that was when everything truly went sideways.
The necklace N'feri had delivered to him was around his neck and started to crackle with electricity and emitted a sharp whistle, followed by a loud snap just as sort of ward surrounded the four khajiit and the strange beast who was now almost through the rupture.
All of the mages who were sealed out started to attack the sphere shaped ward, trying to get through, a few daggers chipping when they made contact, and destructive spells bouncing back toward the group when they didn't appear to be absorbed by the sphere.
Even Urag took his turn trying to get into the sphere by charging at the thing full speed, but it did not falter.
The group of khajiit inside of the sphere were stuck, but at least the battle they were going to be forced into was in their favor, four to one.
"We've killed hundreds of dragons, this bastard will go down just like they all did," N'feri told her comrades just as the creature's feet touched the ground.
Atronachs were summoned by J'zargo and N'feri, even a Dremora from the sanguine rose which Kharjo was carrying while destructive spells were thrown and a flurry of dagger slashes hit the back of the beast when it had its attention turned away.
When N'feri's Magicka ran low she pulled her daedric daggers out and started slashing away at the creature.
She could hear her fellow khajiit coughing because of the smoke filling the sphere from all of the fire and lighting being thrown at the beast but could not see them, "It's not working!" one of her comrades yelled to her, though which one she could not tell.
"Inigo, Kharjo!" she yelled for their attention, "Volendrung, and Headsman to the back of its knees." N'feri readied the unrelenting force shout on the tip of her tongue.
"What about J'zargo, what do you want this one to do?"
With a sigh, N'feri glanced back at him, "If this doesn't work, you're in charge of blasting this thing's ass to oblivion." she told him, to which he quickly nodded.
The two warriors quickly swung their weapons, the Headsman's axe bit into the creature's flesh, while the hit from Volendrung took it down to its knees with an ear-splitting noise that was loud enough to rival a dragon shout.
N'feri took that moment to her advantage, she belted out all three words of the unrelenting shout toward the beast's head, causing it to flip backward into the rupture from where it came.
Unfortunately, that action had a side effect, either from the unrelenting force shout hitting the creature, or from the creature hitting the rupture, or maybe even both.
Something on Nirn shifted in that single moment.
The rupture turned into a whirlpool of sorts, a doorway perhaps, the staff of Magnus flew off of N'feri's back and into the portal as the wind picked up, starting to pull them towards the rupture.
All four of the khajiit dropped to their knees, crouching in an attempt to steady themselves, claws digging into the stone beneath them, fur and tails whipping around wildly inside of the sphere.
Each of the four were attempting to speak, but even while yelling they could not hear each other over the wind.
Those on the outside of the sphere looked on in horror, unable to hear the combat, nor the magic inside of the strange ward, but they did see the Dragonborn and the other three khajiit struggling to stay firmly on the ground as wind whipped around them wildly.
The stone J'zargo's claws had dug into was starting to give way as he attempted even harder to not be tossed into the rupture, but unfortunately, luck was against him during that moment.
Onmund started attempting to get inside of the sphere once again when he saw his fellow student struggling to keep his feet on the ground, no one else tried because they were mostly all injured by their earlier attempts, so all they did was stare helplessly as the events took place.
J'zargo lost his grip mere moments after his necklace flew off of his neck and into the rupture, from this a sort of domino effect took place, Kharjo took one of his claws off of the ground and grabbed the mage by the robes just as he flew past, giving him enough time to dig one of his claws into the ground beside the warrior.
One of J'zargo's hands gripped Kharjo's leg in an attempt to steady each of them, but that did not help them as much as they thought, because they both ended up being blown backward into the rupture mere moments later.
Upon seeing two of her companions being tossed into the rupture, N'feri quickly glanced over to Inigo just as he looked to her.
The two of them nodded to each other in silent understanding before they jumped into the portal behind their khajiiti bretherin, both completely unaware of the screaming outside of the ward coming from almost everyone watching the events unfold.
As soon as the four of the khajiit were through the rupture it closed, the ward shrunk and disappeared, with no evidence either of the two things were ever there, other than the four missing khajiit and their claw marks in the courtyard of the college.
"Ow, someone landed on my tail and it wasn't me," Inigo said shortly after the four of them had landed in a heap on the ground, a muffled sorry came from either J'zargo or Kharjo who were both face down in the dirt under N'feri and a fine layer of dust and gravel.
N'feri raised her head and upper torso off of J'zargo's lower back before she shook the dust out of her fur and glanced at their surroundings, "I don't think we are in Skyrim anymore." her voice echoed eerily around them.
Kharjo coughed in reply, "Someone's tail is in this one's ear and his foot is under something heavy, as is his neck." he wheezed.
"That's my tail," N'feri told him as she removed her thigh from the back of his neck, "And that's Inigo on your foot." she laughed.
"Someone is on this one's robes as well, please move," J'zargo whined as he tried to scoot away from the pile.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the land that the four khajiit had landed, a pitch black wolf with several red glistening eyes heard the commotion and started towards the noise.
"Four khajiit get sucked into a portal," Inigo mused out loud, "Sounds like the start of every bad adventure tale." he laughed.
"Don't you mean it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke?" N'feri asked as she helped him up.
J'zargo was looking around at the green haze that seemed to surround them, "This one feels the magic of this place." his words seemed to hang in the air while N'feri too took a chance to get a better look at their surroundings.
"The air does seem wrong though like we shouldn't be here, it makes me think of my visit to sovengarde or the soul cairn in some ways." She sniffed the air a bit, "It reeks of the same stench of power the eye of Magnus had." she told the younger mage.
Kharjo visibly shivered at the thought of magic, slowly walking away from his place beside Inigo, "As this one said, he does not like all of this magic nonsense." he muttered, mainly talking to himself as he walked closer to where N'feri was standing.
"Wait, what's that?" Inigo turned around rapidly, looking in all directions for whatever he sensed.
He had either heard or smelled something or someone approaching them through the green fog, so N'feri called her aura whisper.
She silently turned Kharjo and J'zargo toward the closest aura she had sensed, got a spell ready in one hand and rested her other on the hilt of the dagger she had sheathed on her hip, "I sense you, reveal yourself or I will be forced to do something drastic." she growled.
The wolf took slow, confident strides toward the group, "Mar solas ena mar din." (DA. Elvish: Your pride will be your death) the wolf spoke in a calm tone without moving its mouth, not showing how intrigued he was at the creatures and their strange appearances.
N'feri did not understand what the wolf's words meant, but she knew that tone, it was the voice of old wisdom, the same tone that many of the dragons she knew spoke in, "I do not know your words, but I know your meaning, Grohiik." (Dragon tongue: Wolf) the last word was spoken with a small fraction of the thuum poured into it.
"You appear to have a soul as old as bellanaris," (DA. Elvish: eternity) the wolf started, "But you are not old yourself, how is this possible?" the words were heard by all four of the khajiit but only N'feri held onto them.
"I have many souls, now where are we?" N'feri agitatedly hissed.
Her companions just looked expectantly at the wolf, it wasn't the weirdest thing any of them had ever seen while in the Dragonborn's company at least.
Actually a wolf with glowy red eyes that spoke probably didn't even make it into the top ten, taking into consideration the talking dog that belonged to Clavicus Vile himself, werebears, a khajiit that breathed fire, a dragon skeleton that acted like a living dragon and talking doors, it wasn't even that surprising.
"Garas, I will tell you." (DA. Elvish: Come) the wolf turned and headed back the way he came.
Though reluctant, the group of khajiit followed, as they guessed he wanted them to do.
"Ir mirthadra to meet someone so different, but I must ask what you are and who." (DA. Elvish: I am honored)
A voice prickled in the back of her mind quietly, telling her that the words he just spoke that she couldn't understand were not bad ones.
"We are khajiit, now what kind of wolf are you?" J'zargo snapped at the wolf, causing him to stop mid-step and glance back towards the group.
"This place is called the fade, a place where time passes differently, how you got here I do not know," he started, clearly and purposefully ignoring J'zargo, "Though you should know how to get out, I smell some of the old magic on at least two of you." with those last words he seemed to evaporate where he stood.
"Fiem." (Dragon tongue: Fade) the word came from the back of N'feri's mind, she remembered one of the greybeards had said it once, somehow she knew the word was important at that moment.
J'zargo was silently fuming about being ignored by the 'ugly dog' as he called the strange wolf quietly after it disappeared.
N'feri paced back and forth with J'zargo while they tried to think of a way to get out of the strange place, "You haven't perfected the transportation scrolls yet, have you?" she asked her fellow mage, to which he shook his head sadly, just before tripping and falling on his face with a surprised grunt.
He grumbled a few curse words native to Elsweyr as he rolled over to see what he tripped over.
"The staff of Magnus!" he heard N'feri shout as she picked up what now looked like an old piece of driftwood.
"That's the staff?" he stood back up and rushed to get a closer look at what once was a magic artifact of great power.
"Half of it at least." she sighed.
Inigo looked over her shoulder at it, "Where's the ball thingy that goes on the end?" he questioned, to which she just shrugged, because she truly had no idea.
"Feim miiraad gaar!" (Dragon tongue: Fade path/door/doorway release) N'feri finally shouted after what seemed like hours had passed, and when the thuum rattled the world around them, an opening appeared.
"Yes!" Inigo cheered, "You did it!" he danced around happily, just before accidentally falling into the opening.
N'feri jumped into the magical doorway after him without a second thought, leaving her other two companions there staring cluelessly at each other and the magic door.
Finally, J'zargo looked at Kharjo, shrugged and jumped through the doorway too.
"Dragonborn, the Nordic hero of legend, jumps from tall cliffs and walks through magic portals without knowing where or when they lead or even what they do." Kharjo shook his head, sighed then walked through the doorway too.
Inquisitor Adaar, Dorian, Bull and Solas had just packed up camp and were on their way back to Haven, "It should only be a few more hours until we get back." Kira had told her group of friends as they walked up a small embankment.
"What was that?" Dorian stopped, causing Bull to run into him, "Listen!" the mage whispered.
In the distance they could hear deeply accented voices, "Ugh, this one smells singed fur and he hopes it is not his." one of the voices said.
Adaar waved for her companions to follow her so they could investigate, "It better not be more angry templars and mages." Bull mumbled.
"No worries, J'zargo." a female voice comforted before the voices all got extremely quiet.
Solas felt the magic one of them had used, something he hadn't felt in ages, old magic like he felt that night in the fade all of those many centuries ago when he encountered four strange cat-like people.
"Why can't we hear them anymore?" Dorian asked the Inquisitor, to which she didn't have time to answer because a crackle of magic and the sound of weapons being drawn behind them interrupted them.
"Because we are behind you." the female of the group hissed, now Solas realized why he felt like he recognized that voice because he did recognize it, though he couldn't completely sure because he could not see any of the group's faces beyond hoods, masks, and helms.
Bull was the first to turn around, "Four against four, I like those odds." he said just before the woman cast some type of magic over her companions and said three strange words.
Next thing the Inquisitor knew, Bull was on his ass with one of the people on his chest, while the three others seemed to have disappeared.
"I am N'feri, hear me shout." The woman on Bull's chest growled, somehow her words shook the ground below them.
"You have a tail," Dorian said dumbly, and sure enough when Kira looked closer, the woman on top of Bull with a strange blade in one hand did, in fact, have a long furry tail.
"I'd be careful with your next words, friend." a voice called from behind Dorian.
Dorian turned around quickly, but didn't see anyone, "Who are you?" he asked the air.
"I am Inigo the Brave, you are too small to be a Nord, so you must be an Imperial." he mused.
"No, my name is Dorian." as Dorian said that a figure appeared in front of him in mages robes like nothing he had ever seen before, they pulsated with strange light and colors.
The figure in front of him sniffed subtly, "This one is J'zargo." he introduced as he pulled his hood down, revealing his face and ears.
"We are khajiit." another voice said, but this one was behind Adaar.
The turned quickly to find the source of the voice was the third of the group, someone in heavy armor darker than any armor she had ever seen before, with horns on the helm, "Kharjo, companion of the Dragonborn." he said as he held his hand out to the female Qunari.
"I am Inquisitor Kira Adaar, Dorian has already introduced himself, the Qunari your friend put on his rear is The Iron Bull, and the bald elf is Solas." upon introducing Solas, two of N'feri's companions hissed, and Inigo who appeared behind her started to growl, catching everyone off guard.
"I smell lies on that one," Inigo growled, the fur on his tail visibly fluffing up.
N'feri stood and got off of Bull's chest, "I smell it too, Inigo." she informed her friend.
"You can smell lies?" Dorian's mouth hung open.
N'feri laughed uneasily, "Only the big lies, but be careful trusting that mer." she nodded towards the elf.
"He smells like the wolf," Kharjo whispered just loud enough for his khajiit bretherine to hear him, but no one else.
Though the four khajiit were on their guard, they did agree to walk with Kira and her companions back to Skyhold where they could stay until they figured out where they planned to go next.
No one commented on their tails, and they had only seen J'zargo's face so far as they neared Skyhold, "So, are all of you cat people?" Bull asked, gaining an elbow to the ribs from Kira.
"We are khajiit, not cat people." N'feri corrected, "Now, what race are the two of you with horns?" she asked.
"You've never met a Qunari before?" Kira questioned.
"I've met werewolves, assassins, vampires, orcs, snow elves, nords, imperials, dunmer, bosmer, you name it, I have met at least one of each, except the deep elves before this day and now Qunari apparently were on that list."
Solas raised his eyebrow, "A few of those I don't believe I've ever even heard of." he said, to which J'zargo scoffed.
"Apparently living underground for generations can do that to a mer," J'zargo said.
"That's the second time one of you has called him that, what does that mean?" Dorian turned his face towards J'zargo.
Though he could not tell, N'feri, Inigo and Kharjo all three gave him questioning looks, trying to gauge if he was serious or not.
The three of them were shocked to see that he was serious.
For a majority of their journey to Skyhold, they all exchanged questions, stories, and explanations about many things, from the several races of elf that roamed Tamriel, which Solas was extremely interested in, to the differences in each other's magic compared to one another, which J'zargo and Dorian couldn't quit talking about.
"You know, N'feri is the arch-mage at the college of Winterhold," J'zargo told Dorian after Dorian had explained how the circles used to work before they most all fell apart.
"That is intriguing, but I do wonder where you four are from that's so different." Dorian mused.
"As do I, the place you have described as your home is like nothing I have ever heard of and it makes me wonder if it is just a fictional tale you have made up." Solas hummed.
"Kaver boka balto jaji itrola Owazmer wo jan Alimer-ifu skai?" (Ta'agra: Who wants [to] axe that hideous Falmer with his Altmer-like pride?) N'feri asked her khajiiti companions to which she gained various mumbles of agreement and even a snicker from J'zargo who had more than enough of snooty Altmer attitude from Arcano and his days at the college.
"Well, now I feel left out," Kira told Bull as soon as she heard Inigo start to quietly laugh too.
"Uh, J'zargo, you might want to cover your face again, lest someone accuse you of being a demon or something equally ignorant," Dorian told the khajiiti mage, with a bit of concern in his voice.
J'zargo hummed a reply as he covered his features once again, "Is there something you can do about your tails?" Kira asked the group.
"Ah, you wish for us to hide our tails, then we shall hide them best we can," N'feri grabbed her tail and wrapped it around her waist, tucking it into her armor, "Boys, tuck your tails." that got a few grumbled replies about indignity, wounded pride and embarrassment, but in the long run all tails were tucked away for the time being.
Jaba rik jajo khisro bidaka. (Ta'agra: That's how this journey started.)