Today we came across an unusual sight, a mound of empty flasks set against the base of a phossa tree. Our guide explained, "The Black-Tongues have tapped this tree." He then went on to explain that the "Kota-Vimleel," or the "Black-Tongues," is another one of the many tribes of Argonians living in the Murkmire region of Black Marsh. Unlike the belligerent Tum-Tahleel or the eerie Veeskhleel, the Black Tongues tend to be polite and soft-spoken—under the right circumstances. If caught off-guard, however, they react uniformly hostile and have been known to kill those trespassing upon their territory without hesitation or mercy. Accomplished alchemists, they often leave flasks and other alchemical tools out in the open as a warning to outsiders marking their territory.
The Black-Tongues are ardent Sithis worshippers. As such, they dedicate almost all their resources to producing as many Shadowscales as possible. What is a Shadowscale, you ask? I wish I knew. Most locals simply refuse to discuss the very notion with outsiders. Argonian commoners revere them with what appears to be a combination of awe and terror, and even mentioning the name out loud seems to be a cultural taboo. A few of the less-superstitious Argonians I've met did share a few facts with, however.
Apparently, the Shadowscales are members of a bizarre monastic order of highly trained assassins. Any Argonian born under the sign of the Shadow is given to the order and raised as one of these mysterious murderers. I was aghast. "Surely it's just the hostile tribes that follow this barbaric practice?" I asked. But no. This appears to be a completely ubiquitous practice. Even the amiable Bright-Throats and wise Miredancers participate in this tradition.
The Black-Tongues take the obligation very seriously, however. They use their encyclopedic knowledge of swamp vegetation and wildlife to craft a powerful contraceptive called "Gloom Nectar." Drinking the potion allows the tribe to synchronize their egg-laying cycle, thus guaranteeing a huge crop of new Argonians born under the Shadow sign every year.
Their alchemical prowess serves the Shadow-born well in their future professions as assassins. Black-Tongues are known to craft some of the deadliest potions in all of Tamriel. Even the Gloom Nectar will kill— if ingested by non-Argonians. And this is just more proof that almost anything found in Black Marsh will kill you under the right circumstances.
While I would love to meet one of the Kota-Vimleel in person and find out more about their alchemical skills and their ties to the mysterious Shadowscales, lingering in their territory without an invitation is not a wise practice. I'd just as soon not have Viper's Bite slipped into my morning tea.