The hamlet village of Lorikh was a quiet, peaceful Dwemer community nestled in the grey and tan dunes and boulders of the Dejasyte. No vegetation of any kind grew in Lorikh, though there were blackened vestiges of long-dead trees scattered throughout the town. Arriving by caravan, Kamdida looked at her new home with despair. She was used to the forestland of the north, where her father's family had hailed from. Here there was no shade, little water, and a great open sky. The land looked dead.
Her mother's family took Kamdida and her younger brother Nevith in, and they were very kind to the orphans, but she felt lonely in the alien village. It was not until she met an old Argonian woman who worked at the water factory that Kamdida found a friend. Her name was Sigerthe, and she said that her family had lived in Lorikh centuries before the Dwemer arrived, when it was a great and beauteous forest.
"Why did the trees die?" asked Kamdida.
"When there were Argonians only in this land, we never cut trees, for we had no need for fuel or wooden structures such as you possess. When the Dwemer came, we allowed them to use the plants as they needed them, provided they never touched the Hist, which were sacred to us and to the land. For many years, we lived peaceably. No one wanted for anything."
"Some of your scientists discovered that by distilling a certain tree sap, molding it, and drying it, they could create a resilient kind of armor called resin," said Sigerthe. "Most of the trees that grew here had very thin ichor in their branches, but not the Hist. Many of them fairly glistened with sap, which made the Dwemer merchants greedy. They hired a woodsman named Juhnin to start clearing the sacred arbors for profit."
The old Argonian woman looked to the dusty ground and sighed, "Of course, the Argonians cried out against it. It was our home, and the Hist, once gone, would never return. The merchants reconsidered, but Juhnin took it on his own to break our spirit. He proved one terrible, bloody day that his prodigious skill with the axe could be used against people as well as trees. Any Argonian who stood in his way was hewn asunder. The Dwemer people of Lorikh closed their doors and their ears to the cries of murder."
"Horrible," gasped Kamdida.
"It is difficult to explain," said Sigerthe, "but the deaths of our living ones was not nearly as horrible to us as the death of our trees. You must understand that to my people, the Hist are where we come from and where we are going. Destroying our bodies is nothing. Destroying our trees annihilates us utterly. When Juhnin turned his axe on the Hist, he killed the land. The water disappeared, the animals died, and all the other life that the trees nourished crumbled and dried to dust."
"Then why are you still here?" asked Kamdida. "Why didn't you leave?"
"We are trapped. I am one of the last of a dying people. Few of us are strong enough to live away from our ancestral groves, and sometimes, even now, there is a perfume in the air of Lorikh that gives us life. It will not be long until we are all gone."
Kamdida felt tears welling up in her eyes. "Then I will be alone in this horrible place with no trees and no friends."
"We Argonians have an expression," said Sigerthe with a sad smile, taking Kamdida’s hand. "The best soil for a seed is found in your heart."
Kamdida looked into the palm of her hand and saw that Sigerthe had given her a small black pellet. It was a seed. "It looks dead."
"It can only grow in one place in all Lorikh," said the old Argonian. "Outside an old cottage in the hills outside town. I cannot go there, for the owner would kill me on sight. Like all my people, I am too frail to defend myself now, but you can go there and plant the seed."
"What will happen?" asked Kamdida. "Will the Hist return?"
"No, but some part of their power will."
That night, Kamdida stole from her house and into the hills. She knew the cottage Sigerthe had mentioned. As she approached it, the door opened and an old but powerfully built man appeared with a mighty axe slung over his shoulder.
"What are you doing here, child?" he demanded. "In the dark, I almost took you to be a lizard-man."
"I've lost my way in the dark. I'm trying to get back to Lorikh."
"Be on your way then."
"Do you have a candle I might have?" she asked piteously. "I've been walking in circles, and I’m afraid I'll only return back here without light."
The old man grumbled and walked into his house. Quickly, Kamdida dug a hole in the dry dirt and buried the seed as deeply as she could. He returned with a lit candle.
"See to it you don't come back here," he growled, "or I'll chop you in half."
He returned to his house. The next morning, when he awoke and opened the door, he found that his cottage was entirely sealed within an enormous tree. He picked up his axe and delivered blow and after blow to the wood, but he could never break through. He tried side chops, but the wood healed itself. He tried an upper chop, but the wood sealed.
Much time went by before someone discovered old Juhnin's emaciated body lying in front of his open door, still holding his blunted, broken axe. What he'd been chopping with it was a mystery, but the rumor spread that Hist sap was found on the blade.
Shortly thereafter, small flowers began pushing up through the town's dry dirt. The Hist did not return, but at twilight the shadows of great trees would fill the streets.
|Ancient Scrolls of the Dwemer|
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