Loredas, 29th Sun’s Dusk, 4E 201

Apocrypha, Skaal Village, Home: Daedric slime, Deal made, Murder, Evil learned, Miraak defeated, Hermaeus denied again, Guilt.

This journal entry was written about 2:00AM on the 30th Suns’ Dusk at Dragons Keep.

It was a few minutes after midnight and I was about to enter the unknown and face a rogue Dragonborn and a Daedric Prince. The Daedric Prince, Hermaeus Mora, tried to recruit me and I told him where to go. He does not like me much.

The Black Books title was Epistolary Acumen. I opened it and started to fade from Nirn.

I heard Neloth say,

“Oh good. Be sure to say hello to Hermaeus Mora for me if you see him.”

Lydia said,

“Not again.”

I found myself in the same realm of Oblivion as before, just in a different area. Hermaeus Mora was there to greet me and made my brain feel like it was swimming in oil with slimy tentacles probing and searching for my inner secrets.

“So you appear in my realm. You are a seeker of knowledge and I knew you would. This is Apocrypha where all knowledge is hoarded. Perhaps you will prove clever enough to uncover the secrets hidden here. If so then I welcome you.”

I think you have a very small percentage of the knowledge of Nirn. It shows how sad your very existence is.  I think I could ask many questions for which there is no answer in your limited library.  Compared to my Lord Akatosh, you are but an ignorant child.

“You are a fool or a coward. You are in peril. My Lurkers will rise from the depths to kill you. My Seekers will come upon you unseen. Read your book again and escape before Apocrypha claims you forever.”

I don’t think so. Limited as this library is, the information I need is here and I will find it!

The Daedric Prince faded away and I was left to find the knowledge I needed.

At least now I know what he calls his Daedric monsters. Lurkers and Seekers.

It would be a waste of time and effort to describe what route I took to get to the end of this search. Apocrypha changes constantly and my directions would not aid any to follow.

Instead I will describe the types of obstacles and tools that are within Hermaeus Mora’s realm.

Quite often I would need to use a Scrye, a type of organic switch, to open or activate things.

When you touch a Scrye a ball drops.

When it touches the bottom the switch is triggered and whatever it is attached to is actioned. In this case a section of walkway in front of me unrolled.

And the Scrye will close up.

For some perverse reason Hermaeus Mora likes to aid those braving his realm by replenishing their magicka or stamina. To do so you simply touch magical fonts.

Moving corridors are a common feature.

You have to time entry and exit or risk touching the black ink that covers the surface of Apocrypha. Any contact with the ink causes a rapid depletion of your life-force and death can occur quite quickly.

Also lurking in any pools of the black ink are tentacles that lash out.

If they hit you they cause serious physical damage.

Sometimes you are required to teleport to a different part of Apocrypha. To do this you read special books opened upon pedestals.

Loose pages often swirl around and hinder your view.

Seekers are often invisible. They are also capable of teleporting themselves small distances. So often they will see you from a distance and suddenly appear in front of you and attack. I used the “Detect Life” spell which allowed me to see where they were even if invisible to the naked eye.

When attacking a Seeker will often create a copy of itself. This copy is a bit weaker but still does considerable damage with their energy balls they toss at you. If you kill the copy the real Seeker will not die. If you kill the real Seeker then both it and its copy will die.

Both Seeker and Lurker were susceptible to lightening spells.

When I finally reached the end of the mazes, puzzles and enemy Daedra I found  a copy of the Black Book I read on Nirn.

When I opened it Hermaeus Mora appeared and said,

“All seekers of knowledge come to my realm, sooner or later.”

I have told you before. I will not server you monster! I just want to defeat Miraak.

“You will serve me, willing or not. All who seek after the secrets of the world are my servants.”

Your knowledge is limited. Stop pretending you are the only depository or even the biggest. I don’t need your help. I will learn Miraak’s secrets on my own.

“No. Look around. You have done nothing here on your own. You could spend a hundred lifetimes searching my library, and you will never find what you seek.”

What makes you think I need this Word of Power to defeat Miraak?

“Even dragons submit to Miraak’s Voice. Without that power, you cannot face him. So say I, Hermaeus Mora, master of the Tides of fate.”

Master of the Tides of fate? I think not. As I stated earlier, compared to my Lord Akatosh you are but an ignorant child. He is the master of time and anything you think you know is due to The Divines making it so. You have lost control of your mortal servant. You need another mortal to fix the problem.

“He has served me long and well. But he grows restless under my guidance. His desire to return to your world will spread my influence more widely. But it will also set him free from my direct control. It may be time to replace him with a more loyal servant. One who still appreciates the gifts I have to offer.”

How many times do I have to say it? I will never be your servant. I am the Champion of those with more power than you can dream of and I ask for nothing in return. So you can’t bribe or tempt me.

You will help me because you wish Miraak removed. I am the only one who can do that. Give me the knowledge I need to do so.

“Knowledge for knowledge. The Skaal have withheld their secrets from me for many long years. The time has come for this knowledge to be added to my library.”

(I had pushed this monster as far as I could. It was time to compromise. The important thing was to defeat Miraak, I did not need to win a contest of egos.)

How do I know I can trust you demon?

“My word is as true as fate, as inevitable as destiny. Bring me what I want, and I will give you what you seek.”

(I know that Daedra must be true to their promises and contracts and oaths.)

Very well, I will speak to the Skaal Sharman on this matter.

“I know that you want to use you power as Dragonborn to bend the world to your will. Here is the knowledge you need, although you did not know you needed it. The second Word of Power. Use it to bend the will of mortals to your purpose. But this is not enough. Miraak knows the final Word of Power. Without that, you cannot hope to surpass him. Miraak served me well, and he was rewarded. I can grant you the same power that he wields, but all knowledge has its price.”

(Hermaeus showed me the second Word of Power of the “Bend Will” Shout. I used one of my stored Dragon souls to reveals it meaning and the knowledge I need to use it in a Thu’um.)

You have no concept of altruism do you?

“Send the Skaal shaman to me. He holds the secrets that will be mine.”

The Daedric Prince then faded away and I could no longer detect his presence in my mind.

Three glowing spheres appeared above the book offering more knowledge of particular Shouts. I chose to have more knowledge of “Unrelenting Force”. Combined with the mediation I did with Paarthurnax it made that shout deadly to many enemies. Instead of being thrown back many will simply die and some will even disintegrate.

I then touched the book and found myself back on Nirn.

Neloth approached and asked,

“What happened? What did you see? Different people have very different experiences when reading these books.”

I talked to Hermaeus Mora and learned the second Word of the “Bend Will” Shout.

“You’re still acting surprisingly sane, too. No wonder the Dwemer were so interested in that book. It was indeed one that Miraak used to advance his power as Dragonborn. But I assume there’s some bad news? It would be unlike Hermaeus Mora to allow anyone to gain such knowledge without exacting a price.”

He keeps trying to recruit me as his champion and I keep refusing. In the end we compromised. He wants the “secrets of the Skaal” in exchange for teaching me the third word.

“Hmph. What secrets could they have worth keeping from old Mora? Sounds like a bargain to me. Hermaeus Mora learns some fascinating new ways to skin a horker and you become the second most powerful Dragonborn that ever lived. Well that gives me a lot to think about. I need to get back to Tel Mithryn. I have some ideas about how to locate more of these Black Books…”

I assured Lydia, Frea and Meeko I was alright and we followed Neloth outside.

A Dovah called Krosulhah approached and bellowed,

“Miraak has commanded your death. So it shall be.”

You wish to attack me and die like Alduin and all other Dov who have?

“I have no choice Dovahkiin! It does not matter what I want.”

So he attacked, and died.  I had reduced Miraak’s powers so he could not steal the soul which I reluctantly absorbed.

Neloth shook his head as he watched the light-show fade and the soul was consumed. He then walked away without a word.

We made our way to the Skaal village. Storn was meditating in front of his hut. When we were closer he said to me,

“I see dragons have returned. Well, the Skaal have survived worse.”

I spoke to Hermaeus Mora. In exchange for the final piece of information I need to defeat Miraak he asked for the “secrets of the Skaal.”

“Hermaeus Mora… old Herma-Mora himself. So he is the source of Miraak’s power. Of course. We have many tales of Herma-Mora trying to trick us into giving up our secrets to him. And now he comes again for what we have long kept from him.”

Herma-Mora? Why do you call him that?

“That is our name for him – the Demon of knowledge. He has always been our enemy.”

If you do not mind telling me, what are the secrets he wishes to learn from you?

“Ancient lore, handed down from shaman to shaman since the All-Maker first gave Solstheim to the Skaal. How to talk to the wind, how to listen to the earth – these are our secrets. Nothing of power or mastery.”

Beautiful and sacred things. Why would that demon want your secrets?

“We know him as Herma-Mora, the Demon of Knowledge. It is in his nature to horde secrets to himself. Their value to him is of no consequence. The very fact that the Skaal have kept knowledge from him has merely increased his desire to have it.”

He said it’s the only way he’ll teach me the final work of Miraak’s Shout.

“So it falls to me to be the one to give up the secrets to our ancient enemy. I do not know if I have the strength to face him. The Tree Stone is still corrupted… the land is still out of balance. But with the other five restored… it may be enough. It will have to be.”

You mean you will give him what he wants?

“Yes. The Skaal also tell of the day when we must finally give up our secrets. When Herma-Mora finally wins. As shaman, it is my duty to guard these secrets, but also to decide when it is necessary to give them up. I believe that time is now. If I am wrong, may my ancestors forgive me. Give me the book. I will read it, and speak to old Herma-Mora myself. I will make sure he lives up to his part of the bargain.”

(I handed Storn the book and he walked to the centre of the village. Frea followed her father and pleaded with him not to proceed.)

FREA: “Father, you must not do this. That book is… wrong. Evil. Against everything that you have taught me my whole life.”

STORN: “I must, Frea. It is the only way to free Solstheim forever from Miraak’s shadow. There comes a time when everything must change. Nothing that lives remains the same forever. Do not fear for me, my daughter. This is the destiny that the All-Maker has laid out for me.”

FREA: “I stand beside you, father, as always.”

STORN: “I am ready for whatever the foul master of this book has in store for me.”

(Strom opened the book and black tentacles shot out from it. Some held him. One pierced his skull and embedded itself into his brain. Hermaeus was going to kill him! The foul demon did not have to do that to obtain the Skaal’s secrets.)

HERMAEUS: “At last, the Skaal yield up their secrets to me.”

STORN:  “You… liar… gah! … I won’t… not… for you…”

(Storn knew he was being killed for no reason other than spite. He is collateral damage. My collateral damage! I am responsible for the decision that has doomed him. I did not think Hermaeus would kill him. I did not think like the demon. I did not get a promise from the foul creature that no Skaal would be harmed. I failed to protect those I cherish the most. The normal people of Nirn.)

HERMAEUS: “Dragonborn, you have delivered me the gift I requested. In return, I keep my promise, as befits a Prince of Oblivion: I give you the Word of Power that you need to challenge Miraak. You will be either a worthy opponent or his successor, as the tides of fate decree.”

(He gave me the Word. I used a stored Dragon Soul to understand it enough to use in a Shout. Hermaeus then faded away and Storn and book dropped to the ground. With his last breath Storn screamed.)

STORN: “Nooo!”

(Frea knelt down and called her father’s name. Lydia checked on him and shook her head.)

“Father! What have you done!”

I am so sorry Frea. I did not think that harm would befall your father. I would have found another way if I did!

“Go. My father sacrificed himself so that you could destroy Miraak and lift his master’s shadow from the land. Go, then. Kill Miraak. Do not fail.”

He can wait. Please let me join in the morning.

(The villagers made a semi circle around Frea and Storn. Then they each gave a quick eulogy.)

Fanari Strong-Voice: “Goodbye, old friend. We will miss you, but do not worry. Frea will guide us well, thanks to you.”

Edla: “We won’t forget what you did for us, Storn Crag-Strider. Walk with the All-Maker.”

Deor Woodcutter: “Frea… I’m sorry.”

Aeta: “It can’t be… please, All-Maker, send him back to us…”

Baldor Iron-Shaper: “I… uh… you’ll be missed, old man.”

Finna: “May the All-Maker guide your soul to the next life.”

Nikulas: “Frea… what happened? What was that thing? I thought the village was safe now.”

Wulf Wild-Blood: “Return to the All-Maker, old one. The Skaal will never forget your sacrifice.”

Morwen: “I don’t really understand what you did, but I trust you did it for the good of the village. So… thank you.”

Tharstan: “By the gods… I’ve never seen anything like it… I, uh… I don’t think this will go in my book.”

(I added mine.)

Storn, I am sorry old Herma-Mora fooled us both. I swear by The Divines I will stop Miraak and restore the Skaal’s connection to the All-Maker.

Frea, your father’s bravery will never be forgotten by me. He was a mighty man.

(I then picked up the Black Book and read it.)

I appeared in the same part of Apocrypha where I first saw Miraak. This time neither he or his henchmen were there to greet me.

As per before, how I solved the puzzles and mazes of that place is of no historical value.

At the end of it I saw a Word Wall being defended by two Seeker.

I killed them and learnt the second Word of the Dragon Aspect shout. Qah which is armour in Tamrielic. I used a stored dragon soul to learn its meaning so I could use it in a Shout.

I was attacked by a Dovah called Sahrotaar. I did not use Dragonrend on him. I need him to get to Miraak. I waited for him to be close enough and used Bend Will on him. He landed and approached me then said,

“Your Thu’um is stronger than Miraak’s. Vobalaan in. He is an unworthy master. I serve you now.”

(This was the same Dovah I saw Miraak ride away on when first we met.)

Take me to where Miraak is. Then you are free to go. This Bend Will Shout is a thing of evil. I do not want a slave. I abhor slavery.

“Miraak has forced me to serve him for too long. Nahkriin saraan lingrah. I have waited long for my vengeance. Let us destroy him together. Climb aboard and I will carry you to him.”

As we flew to where Miraak waited Sahrotaar said,  

“Beware. Miraak is strong. He knew you would come here.”

I asked Sahrotaar to land so I could fight Miraak on the ground. He did so and just before he took flight again Miraak said to him,

“Sahrotaar, are you so easily swayed? No. Not yet. We should greet our guest first.”

He was not easily swayed. My Thu’um is superior as you will soon find out.

(On the nearby arches two other Dovah slaves of his watched. One was called Relonokiv and the other Kruzikrel. I knew their names from information gained when absorbing the souls of one of Miraak’s other slaves. Miraak turned his attention to me.)

“And so the First Dragonborn meets the Last Dragonborn at the summit of Apocrypha. No doubt just as Hermaeus Mora intended. He is a fickle master, you know. But now I will be free of him. My time in Apocrypha is over. You are here in your full power, and thus subject to my full power. You will die. And with the power of your soul, I will return to Solstheim and be master of my own fate again. Kruziikrel! Relonikiv! Now!”

You are so sure of your superiority you choose to outnumber me in battle. You are a traitor to Lord Akatosh and a coward. I am here to be your executioner. Die knowing I will absorb your soul and everything you are will be gone for all eternity.

With that all talking was done and the battle commenced.

I staggered Miraak with Unending Force. I am sure he was not expecting such power. The extra strength gained from Paarthurnax’s meditation and the Black Book made it so.

I ran to him and cut him down easily with “The Sword”. It was a thing made during The Warp in the West. I have yet to find armour or hide or scale that can withstand it.

He should have died. Instead he turned ethereal and I could do no more damage. He then teleported to stand in the middle of a pool of ink in the centre of the platform we were fighting on.

Sahrotaar had been battling the other two Dov and kept them away from me. Somehow Miraak ordered Kruziikrel to land.

He then issued forth a Shout I did not recognise that killed the Dovah and allowed Miraak to absorb his soul.

I had a healthy Miraak to contend with but he still had no answer to my Unrelenting Force. It staggered him. I moved in for the kill and he should have died again. Once again he went ethereal and ended up in the middle of the pool of ink.

This time he silently called down Relonikiv and slayed him with a Shout. Once again the absorbed the soul and was ready for battle.

Sahrotaar came roaring in and hit him with Frost Breath. Miraak was immune to that Shout but once again had no protection against my Unrelenting Force. For the third time I cut him down and he ended up ethereal in the middle of the ink pool.

Sahrotaar was not immune to the silent call to land. It must have been something he embedded in each of his slave Dov. Similarly the Shout he used to kill them must have some pre prepared elements. Sahrotaar died like the others but at least he was free from his slavery.

“Give up Dragonborn. I can’t be defeated!”

I have won three times without breaking a sweat. You strength is nothing compared to a true Dragonborn. One who has stayed loyal to the real “Master of the tides of Fate”. Hermaeus only reads in the stars and heavens what my master has arranged to be there. Your demon lord has no control over time and can’t influence fate. You gave up serving the real power for this charlatan. Now you die.

I did not even bother using a shout this time. I simply closed upon the pathetic being and engaged in some swordplay. He was no match and I disarmed him then delivered what should have been the killing blow.

Ethereal once again he teleported to the pool of ink but this time I could see he was quickly returning to Oblivion. He had no Dov left to sacrifice and I closed in for the kill.

Before I had the pleasure Hermaeus Mora appeared and skewered Miraak on a tentacle.

HERMAEUS: “Did you think to escape me, Miraak? You can hide nothing from me here. No matter. I have found a new Dragonborn to serve me.”

Miraak: “May he be rewarded for his/her service as I am!”

Miraak then died and like a Dovah he disintegrated and I absorbed not only his soul but many others he had recently slain. When he was nothing but a skeleton Hermaeus withdrew his tentacle and let it fall to the floor.

A pedestal with the open Black Book rose from the ink. Hermaeus then addressed me and proved he had learned nothing.

“Miraak harboured fantasies of rebellion against me. Learn from his example. Serve me faithfully, and you will continue to be richly rewarded.”

Of all the Daedra I have spoken to you are by far the stupidest. You even make Malacath sound like a genius and he is Boethia’s scat! I killed Miraak, not you. I could do it, you could not. I have the key to the Dwemer lockbox in Skyrim and can open it whenever I wish, you cannot. You think you can supplant my Lord Akatosh? I am not and never will be a servant of demon scum like you!

You killed Storn and for that you will pay. If ever I get the opportunity I will visit your shrine in the Jerall Mountains and slay your followers. I will reduce your shrine to a pile of rubble. Whether or not I get the chance is something beyond your pathetic reading of the tides can predict. Just know I swear I will do this by The Divines. You know that is a binding oath.

I recovered Miraak’s staff, sword and armour.

I touched the book and found myself back in the Skaal village.

Frea approached and stated,

“I can feel it. The Tree Stone is free again. The Oneness of the land is restored. Does that mean… is it over? Is Miraak defeated?”

Yes, I killed Miraak and have sworn to Herma-Mora that I will avenge your father’s death. I can’t slay such a being but I can reduce his influence on Nirn. Let him feel fear if such a creature can do so.

“Thank you. Whatever your other reasons for acting you have done the Skaal a great service. We will not forget what you have done.”

I do what I do for all the normal, good people of Nirn. My Gods direct me to where I am needed and I go. That is my reason and no other.

“One more thing, Skaal-friend, if you will. I know it is not my place, but… may I offer a word of advice… of warning?”

I know what you are about to say but will hear it from you anyway. Please go ahead.

“As shaman of the Skaal I am charged with the spiritual well-being of my people. While you are not of the Skaal, you are Skaal-friend and so I give you this warning. Herma-Mora forced you to serve him in order to defeat Miraak. Do not let him lure you further down that path. The All-Make made you Dragonborn for a higher purpose. Do not forget that.”

Thank you Frea. I am aware of all you said and have refused Herma-Mora’s offer of service on more than one occasion. Other God’s and immortals have also tempted me. I am loyal to my Lord Akatosh and the other eight Divines. They are at war with the Daedra, the aspects of your Adversary. It is kind of you to offer such advice and I will heed it. This I promise you.

“Walk with the All-Maker Skaal-friend.”

I picked up the Black Book from the ground where it fell after I defeated Miraak. I told Lydia and Meeko we were heading for the port and going home.

We had no encounters on the way to the Raven Rock.

We collected our horses and made our way to the port. Gjalund was relieved that everything seemed back to normal. He happily gave us free and immediate transport back to Skyrim aboard the Northern Maiden.

We rode as fast as we could for Dragons Keep and had no encounters on the way.

We arrived not long past midnight on Sundas the 30th Suns’ Dusk.

Lydia and Meeko retired.

I felt guilty for not protecting Storn. For being out manoeuvred in my negotiations with Hermaeus Mora. I felt my soul had been damaged by having to deal with him and using the evil that is the Bend Will Shout.

I went to the chapel and prayed to the shrine of Talos,

“My soul is darkened by all that occurred. I feel I am less than what I was. The Greybeards gave a false warning about Dragonrend.  I did not bring evil into my body or soul when I learned that Shout. I did when I learned Bend Will. It is an abomination and I will never pass the knowledge of it onto another. This I swear. Let it be the start of my soul cleansing.”

As is my custom as the end of each Divine given task I put away the souvenirs. I places Miraak’s armour and weapons on display.

The Black Book would be burnt in the school furnaces tomorrow. I have no intention of ever helping Neloth retrieve the others.

I then went to my private rooms and wrote the journal entries for the last three days.

I am just finishing this entry as the children are streaming out of their dormitories to start another day of learning and living. I think I shall just sit and watch their play and absorb their laughter for a while.

I will retire sometime this morning after their beauty has driven away some of the darkness in my soul.

I wish I had Rigmor by my side to assure me of my goodness. She would soon put me straight I am sure.

I know not what time I fell asleep.     

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