"I'm sure Tsarrina has told you she think's she's part man or mer. That's because I know my Grandfather was a Nord, and we find a lot of similarities between us," Shulassa told the reporter. "Would you like to hear the whole story?"

The man from the Black Horse Courier told her that he would indeed, and she began.

Like I said, my grandfather was a Nord, and a particularly big and strong one. That was his problem. Everyone wanted to prove themselves by challenging him. He didn't like fighting, even if did do it well, and he came south to get away from it. He settled in Skingrad, which is where he met my grandmother. She'd come north from Elsweyr looking for employment. She thought she might get a job as as a maid in the town, or else picking grapes in the vineyards.

They probably met in a tavern one evening. They both felt like outsiders, and that was all they had in common to start with. Gradually, the two misfits fell in love. Slowly was good, because by the time the moons made grandmother receptive, grandfather knew what to expect. He wore an old leather cuirass that night, and never felt her claws on his back.

By the time it fell apart, years later, the old armor had done its job, and they had a pair of healthy young kits to raise. The older one, my father, was large for a Suthay-raht, and many mistook him for the larger breeds. Obviously a lot of that came from his father. My aunt, in contrast, was small like her mother.

When my father grew up, he took a job as apprentice to a merchant in the Imperial City, which is where he met my mother. When he became a Journeyman, he returned with his wife to Skingrad and opened his own store there. I was born a year later and was their only child. While they struggled to make their business a success, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents .

They were both wonderful story-tellers. Grandfather's tales all took place in a frozen north of ice caves and dragons, with damsels in distress that needed to be rescued. Grandmother's stories were of desert sands, and hidden oases.,Her damsels could rescue themselves, and steal the treasure as they left!

Sometimes we all went hunting. Grandmother taught me to be stealthy, not grandfather's strong point, as his great size was hard to hide. But he could chase off bears, so we made a good team. My parents were happy to sell the pelts and meat we brought back, too, so they encouraged my hobby. Before long I was hunting on my own, and earning my keep that way.

The life of a hunter suits the female Khajiit. She's happy to be alone most of each month, and she comes back for company when the moons tell her to. That's when mothers watch out for their daughters, as they have little self-control, especially when they're young and inexperienced.

My mother was a bit worried when I seemed much too calm after my hunting trips..It made things easier for her, but was I feeling well? We had that talk, and she discovered I wasn't as innocent as she'd hoped.

What shocked her more was when I'd done it, as her calendar didn't agree. No the dates weren't wrong, I just wasn't as tied to them as she thought I should be. I was more like a Nord than a Khajiit in that respect, a bit of Grandfather coming through.

She felt she had a freak for a daughter, and she wasn't too pleased. I stayed out hunting for longer and longer periods, returning only when I need to get my equipment repaired. Soon I learned to do that for myself, too. My father was too busy with his shop to notice.

Other Khajiiti seemed to agree with my mother. The women all thought I was shameless, being ready all the time. The men weren't happy with the idea of a female who had to be seduced first. They were used to just being in the right place at the right time.

My grandparents were getting old, and pretty soon the bears stopped being afraid of my grandfather. After the funeral, my grandmother moved in with my parents, but she didn't last long without him. Now I really didn't have any reason to go back to town.

When I finally did, I found that my parents too were dead, killed by bandits on a trip into the Imperial City. Someone told me that my mother's cousin S'rathad was looking for me, and he'd be back in town near the end of the month. I stayed around and waited for him, and he gave me a bottle that he said my grandfather wanted me to have. He'd been given it by my aunt when she went south to Elsweyr after my grandparents died, with instructions to pass it on to me when I grew up.

That's when the boss came into my life. He had a reputation around town for helping folks out. Erthor, over at the Mages Guild, had been rescued from zombies at Bleak Flats Cave. And there had been a nest of Vampires just outside town that he'd helped clear out. So everyone suggested I show him the bottle and the note I found inside it.

All the note said was: "In the shed behind the Inn". It didn't say which Inn, or what was supposed to happen there, or anything helpful.

"The bottle itself is another clue," he told me. "It's Tamika's West Weald wine, so I'd bet the shed is the one behind the West Weald Inn." He ran off to look, and soon he was back with another bottle in his hand, just like the one I had. There was a note in that one, too.

Again it just described a location - on a rock by the south wall of the castle. We went there and found another bottle, with another note. "Above the guards' heads in the courtyard." That bottle was on one of the rafters over the walkway.

The next note told us to look on Nestarel's balcony. That house had been locked and uninhabited for years, so he made me wait in the Two Sisters' Lodge while he went for it alone. He didn't want me getting into any trouble if he had to pick the lock to get in. The town watch owed him a couple of favours, so he'd take his chances.

It turned out that the watch wasn't the danger with this one. He found the place full of undead. Zombies, skeletons, and wraiths attacked him when he went in. After that, I stayed behind on all the bottle hunts. The next note said "by the press" and it was in another Tamika's bottle. She had a wine press behind her house in town, but it wasn't that one. The next bottle was out in the vineyard, by the press there.

"Behind the well" wasn't very helpful either. There was a well near the press in the vineyard, so of course he checked that on his way back. No luck. That well was the closest to the press, and the furthest would be the one by the North wall of the city behind Summitmist Manor. I asked if the one we'd seen in the castle wouldn't be more likely, but he said he knew there was nothing there. He was right, of course, and the next note told us to look "near the Tomatoes".

"That capital letter makes me think they're special ones, like Undena Orethi's"

I had to agree that hers were the best, but did that mean in her house, or out where she grew them? We used the same logic as before and decided he'd look outside the city walls for the next bottle.

Except that it wasn't a bottle this time. He found a small box with a plain gold ring in it. No enchantment, nothing special about it at all. I looked more carefully at it, and then I understood. This was my Grandmother's wedding ring! Not valuable, but priceless to me!

I was so happy, I could have burst (except that I'm not a Bosmer). I told him all about my grandparents and their stories, and my childhood in Skingrad. I probably told him a bit more than that, because he noticed that Tsarrina and I had something in common. He told me how she'd come to terms with being more like a human or elf than a Khajiit.

That made a lot more sense than becoming a hermit hunter. I leapt at the chance to join her clan here at Gweden. Apparently, it was a good time to do so, as she was getting swamped with running the business, and didn't have the time for anything else. She always made time for Ma'iq, but he was special.

And as I told you, Khajiiti males don't find me to their taste. I'm more the exotic dish on the menu here. I cater to the adventurous types of all the other races, who want something different. Tsarrina always tells them she'll give them their money back if I use my claws or bite them. And there's Freija here to heal them, if it's really serious. It's hard to keep a straight face when she says that!

He'd abandoned his ideas of professional detachment days ago, and this was the last interview. He let her show him what "something different" meant. The rougher tongue, the surprises she could spring using her tail. He liked different, he decided.