In the Pelletine region of Elsweyr, it is common practice to burn the dead. The Khajiit have little mind for the remains of the deceased, as the soul has fled, and the shell remains to take up space. Instead, the bodies of the departed are returned to the dust, as if to mimic the dust that coats the Moons above. As above, so below.
Ma’Kir pushed open the bas-relief stone door to the crematorium and stepped into a darkened stairway rich with the scent of oils and perfumes and pulled the slab shut behind him–the sun has no place in the demesne of the Moons, after all. The stone steps were cool on Ma’Kir’s feet as he descended deeper into the scarcely-lit chamber. The long, tall space that lay before him was eerily silent. At the far end of the room were a series of lidded ovens, the vague silhouettes of corpses lay inside, flesh and fur licked clean by the voracious, raging flames.
In neat rows on raised stone altars lining the side walls, more bodies were set. The deafening silence was misleading, seeming to ignore the bustling of the moon priests, who were anointing the bodies with pleasantly scented liquids and combing dirt out of their fur. Others were folding clothes, presumably the former rags of the deceased, and others tended to ovens, feeding the fires with dried rainforest lumber.
Ma’Kir approached the nearest cleric and tapped him on the shoulder.
“Warm sands, ra’trevan.”
“May you walk upon them as well,” the cleric returned. “What may this one do for you?”
Ma’Kir produced a jangling purse from his satchel and subtly wagged it so it clinked lightly.
“Are these poor departed souls prepared for their burning?”
The cleric’s pupils widened as his eyes narrowed, darting from the purse to the nearest cadaver.
“Why yes, they are. Why do you ask?”
“This one wonders what the odds of misplacing some of the bodies might be,” Ma’Kir whispered slyly, “And whether this one might happily stumble upon them by even happier circumstance?”
The priest snatched the purse and peered inside. He looked back up and frowned.
“This one is afraid that he must know the purpose,” he grinned in hushed tones. “Unless you have more of this offering to give.”
Ma’Kir licked his jowls sourly. He reached into his satchel and retrieved five more coins.
“It is a bribe, not a tip, no?”
He reached into his bag again, scowling harder now, pulling yet another five coins, plopping all ten into the priest’s outstretched hand.
“Very good,” The cleric slid the loose coins into the purse and hid them within his surplice and patted down his front. He grabbed Ma’Kir by the arm and led him toward a dark corner of the chamber. “How many bodies should one expect to ‘misplace?’”
“How many can you afford to misplace?”
The cleric’s grin fell. “In all, we can perhaps lose track of, say, twenty corpses?”
Ma’Kir pursed his lips and glanced over his shoulder. The other moon priests either didn’t notice or didn’t care about the suspicious whispering in the corner and continued working.
“Are there any non-Khajiit bodies among them?”
The priest furrowed his brow. “There is one Orc among them here. He seemed to believe himself to be of the Khaj and so was interred here to, erm, humor his final wishes.”
The bargain struck with the Sload was for a mixed batch of corpses. He supposed the ratios were not defined, and so long as two or more races were accounted for, Y’Shaneel would be unable to complain in his grotesque and guttural tongue.
“Assure this one that the Orc will be misplaced, and they shall be stumbled upon,” Ma’Kir hissed.
Ma’Kir nodded and turned to leave, but was stopped by a hand on his shoulder, whipping him around.
“–now we must discuss payment,” the priest grinned again.
“This one has already paid you!” Ma’Kir hissed, throwing up his hands.
“This one was paid to keep secrets, not for the misplacing of cadavers,” he chuckled, his eyes gleaming yellow-green in the darkness.
“Fine, fine, what is the cost?”
“Seven Septims. Apiece.”
Ma’Kir stared at him incredulously in the dim light, growled and gave the cleric his ill-begotten money.
“Be around the back at midnight. The moons are dark tonight.”
Ma’Kir sighed and stomped out of the crematorium.