The front door opened, a long, pointed ear flicking ever so slightly at the intrusion of noise on the perfectly silent night.
"Haj-Dei, is that you?" called the owner of a particularly gruff, ash-worn voice.
"Aye, my Lord. You are still up?" spoke a more alien voice, it laced with a natural growl, as if it were unnatural that it spoke at all.
"What hour is it?" spoke the Dunmer mutt, his red eyes staying focused on what it was he was doing. Again his ears flicked a bit, this time picking up the scuff of scales and click of claws on the hard wood stairs.
Haj-Dei stepped into the room in which his friend sat. Several dozens of bottles stood on the floor in neat rows, each bottle corked and sealed with wax from the cork down to the neck. Moving his eyes to the Dunmer, the Argonian saw nothing out of the ordinary as an assortment of Alchemical ingredients and apparatuses littered a pine table a good man's height in length and width.
At one edge of the table sat the light-skinned Dunmer, clad only in his retiring slacks, which were liberally smeared with streaks of all colors--yet it seemed his bare torso had not seen a drop spilled. His red eyes moved to the Argonian for only a moment before looking back to the solution he was toying with in an alembic.
"It is past dawn, m'Lord--nearly noon-hour," the reptile spoke in an old, very learned dialect that sounded honestly quite strange from a generally disrespected race.
"Nearly noon... Zha, I've been at work for too long." He had the sound of a joke in his voice as his eyes surveyed his work. "Enough about that... I'm glad you've returned, Haj-Dei. It's been quiet here without you.
"What news do you bring me of Morrowind?"
Haj-Dei moved to sit across from the Dunmer. "I bear... sad news, Thurvayn... M'Lord, these are bad times for the Dunmer."
Thurvayn lifted his eyes and slowly swirled the contents of the alembic in his hand. His tone changed, the ash-cracked sound conveying worry--or as much as the old wardog would allow it. "What news do you bring me, Haj-Dei?"
"Upon making it to Vivec City, I noticed the Ordinators running amok much like Scribs with their head lost. Upon inspection, I quickly learned that Lord Vhek is gone missing." The Argonian seemed not to have been finished, but on seeing Thurvayn's strained expression for an immediate answer, he paused, then spoke quickly.
"It is related to the others of the Tribunal, m'Lord. Rumor has it that Lord Sil and Lady Almalexia are dead--"
Thurvayn stared at his friend, something on his face seeming to fall.
"I-... I found this, a public notice that, I was told, was published by Lord Vivec himself for the citizens of Vvardenfell." Haj-Dei said, quickly digging in a pack he had strung on his back. Producing a parchment, he handed it to Thurvayn. As the Dunmer skimmed it with haste, the Argonian went on:
"I went to Almalexia City myself to follow up on the claims. Seems that rumor started in Mournhold that Lord Sotha Sil had attacked the city... But investigations revealed that he was not to blame... The Nerevarine found Lord Sotha Sil, dead, in Sotha Sil City, and that the Nerevarine was then attacked by Lady Almalexia herself. The Nerevarine... was of course forced to kill Lady Almalexia."
Thurvayn was silent save for to breathe, "By Sithis and Mephala..."
"While still very few believe that Lady Almalexia and Lord Sotha Sil are dead, it is fact that Lady Almalexia is missing as well, and it is unknown as Lord Sotha Sil is rarely seen these days. The Nerevarine spoke these rumors, but it fell on many deaf ears until Vivec posted this notice. When he too went missing... many Dunmer became fearful and now ask if the Nerevarine was correct." Haj-Dei finished, trailing off to let his friend digest all he'd been told.
It took several long, silent minutes until Thurvayn spoke. "H-...Haj-Dei, surely you lie to me..."
The Argonian knew he was taking the news hard. "If the paper is lying to you, m'Lord, if Lord Vivec is lying to you... Then I am lying to you... For I only know what I heard and what I bring you now..."
Slowly, the Dunmer set the alembic's vial back on it's stand, then crossed his stained hands, staring at the parchment Haj-Dei had brought him. Several times, he seemed to begin to speak, only to stop. Finally, after a painstaking wait, he spoke in a soft voice. "Haj-Dei... Please, retrieve my Indoril helm from the basement, then go to the smithy's and have it buffed and shined. Pay him extra to have the process done by dusk. I... I need to mourn."
The Argonian stood after giving him a nod and moved off to the stairs with purpose. However, he paused, frozen in the doorway as a thought hit him. "My Lord Thurvayn, I beseech you--do NOT plan to travel to Morrowind."
The Dunmer didnt look to the man, his eyes staying locked on the table in front of him.
"I beg you, Thurvayn, do not go to Morrowind. I beg you not to go." The Argonian rushed back in and dropped to his knees beside the stricken Dunmer. "Morrowind is not the land you remember... The people there are not what you remember--it is a land of strife about to erupt into a war zone. Even were you not afflicted, I would ask you not to go, but you cannot go in your condition!" Haj-Dei cried, baring his rows of sharp teeth and laying his clawed hands on Thurvayn's shoulder and bicep.
Thurvayn bared his long canines in a grief-striken grimace. "And how do you propose I grieve when I am so far from home, Haj-Dei!? From the place where I knew and bled for the Tribunal!?" he raised his ashen voice so loud it was if he were roaring.
Haj-Dei stood and held the vampire in his seat with all is might. Thurvayn retaliated, standing with little effort and knocking the Argonian back. However, the fight was not over, as Haj-Dei rushed back in to lock the vampire's hands in his clawed talons. The two toussled, equal matches even though Thurvayn had many more years of combat under his belt--the many sparring matches they practiced together taught the Argonian all that the Dunmer knew.
The grief-stricken Dunmer eventually gave up with little more fight than what he initiated with. Haj-Dei moved him forcefully to his private quarters, dumping him on his bed for safe keeping.
"M'Lord,.. I heasitate not to tell all of Cheydinhal to watch your moves should you leave this house. ...I will do what you asked of me, but I will not allow you to get yourself slaughtered by returning to Morrowind." Haj-Dei said a bit breathlessly. "Would you like any other pieces to be restored?"
The downed Dunmer stayed silent for so long that Haj-Dei moved to leave. When he did, Thurvayn finally spoke up. "No... Just the helm."
"Very well, m'Lord." Haj-Dei said softly, then stepped out, leaving Thurvayn to wallow.