Ivarstead, Ancestor Glade, Darkfall Cave, Hidden Valley, Inner Sanctum, Dragon Bridge: Suckers, Barking mad, Insect friends, Embedded Map, Boring cave, Wet shortcut, Silly siblings, White mer, Long trek, Two Dovah, Temple, Blasphemer, Pretty bow, Back to fort, Plan, Contemplation.
These journal entries were written in the early hours of the 22nd Sun’s Dawn.
I stepped outside the Vilemyr Inn to a bright sunny day, and a Death Hound leaping for my throat. I thought that was very rude so bashed it with my shield mid-flight and then gave it a few inches of “The Sword” for breakfast.
All around us chaos had taken over the town. Early risers were running into their houses yelling, “Vampires….aaaargggh!” and drowsy guards were battling for their lives.
I was proud of how quickly my companions, including Serana, leapt to the guards defence. Three of them owe their lives to the quick and decisive action taken.
The last vampire came screaming at me with a blood drain spell in one hand and hammer in the other. The top half of his head, including blinking eyes, went flying after a backhand sweep.
It was the biggest attack on a town by vampires I had seen. They were well equipped and dressed but they were not Volkihar. One of the guards came up to me and said,
“Somebody has to do something about these vampire attacks!”
I nodded complete agreement as we mounted our horses and set out for the Ancestor Glade at 6:30AM.
We reached it about 9:45AM after encountering a pack of wolves and some bandits along the way.
We entered and move further in. It looked like any other boring cave. Serana moaned,
“Hmph… not very impressive, is it? If this ends up being a wasted trip, your friend Dexion and I are going to have some words when we get back.”
(We crossed over a ravine on a log that fell over, turned a few more corners and it was no longer like any cave I had seen.)
“Wow. Look at this place. No one’s been here in centuries. I doubt there’s any other place like it in Skyrim. It’s beautiful.”
(We made our way down some winding, steep stairs and I headed for a strange altar with the Canticle Knife suspended in the middle of a circle.)
(I retrieved the knife.)
“Well, we got the knife… now all we need to do is track down one of those Canticle Trees.”
(I looked behind me. There was a tree unlike any I can recall seeing before.)
(I shaved off some of its bark and let it settle on me.)
“Hope the moths like that bark as much as Dexion said they would.”
(I saw a nearby whisper of moths and walked into the middle of them. They swarmed around me and went wherever I went.)
“Look at them… they’ve definitely taken a liking to you. And unless I’m seeing things, you’re starting to… glimmer.”
(I walked into another five whispers and each time they joined the crazy flight around me and I glimmered more.)
(After I stepped into the seventh whisper and they joined my collection a beam of became visible. It emanated from one of the clear pools of water to the ceiling.)
“Woah! I think that might have been what we were waiting for. Let’s head to that beam of light and see if you can read the scrolls.”
(I stepped into the beam of light and could suddenly hear voices. Hundreds, maybe thousands or even millions of voices. The volume ebbed and flowed and individual words were on the brink of being understood but remained elusive. It was like being in a really crowded tavern without laughter or clinking of mugs. I was eavesdropping on countless conversations in countless languages. It was uncomfortable so I proceeded to read the Elder Scroll (Blood)”
(At first it was similar to what I experienced that day at the Throat of the World. Concentric circles with strange runes and lines going from centre to edge. This time I instinctively knew the centre was where the scroll was in the infinity timelines possible. What looked like constellations were branches of timelines and the runes were their names. I could recognise what things were but did not have the knowledge to interpret them. It was the language of the Divine.)
(The scroll started to fade and in its place a map started to form.)
(The map became progressively clearer but the moths were distracting.)
(Then the map was embedded into my memory as clear as if I had just spent day drawing it with ink and paper.)
(Then it all faded. I was back in the Ancestor Glade with a worried looking Serana, Jordis and Meeko staring at me.)
“Are you okay? Almost thought I lost you there… you went white as the snow.”
Don’t worry, I’m fine.
“I never trusted those damn scrolls. Who knows what those things could have done to you… just look at Dexion.”
That felt strange but also enlightening. I can see why Moth Priests risk their lives finding them and their eyesight reading them.
“I could see it in your eyes. You looked about a thousand leagues away.”
Never mind that… it worked!
“After everything we’ve been through, it had damn well better work. What about Auriel’s Bow? Do you know where we can find it?”
It’s in a place called Darkfall Cave.
“Then it’s almost over. We can finally put an end to this ridiculous prophecy. Where is this ‘Darkfall Cave’?”
The scrolls gave me its exact location.
“Then let’s get going. I want to get there before my father has a chance to track us down.”
Just then the unmistakable sounds of gargoyles told us they had already found us.
They were coming down stairs and that is always a disadvantage. We waited at the bottom and then attacked with Shout, spell, arrows and teeth.
We annihilated Harkon’s lackeys without a single scratch or drop of sweat.
It was about 12:30PM when we emerged from the glade.
As we were riding towards Darkfall Cave I rode up beside Serana,
What do you know about Auriel’s Bow?
“Not much. If you read any history, it shows up from time to time, but it’s a hard thing to track. As far as I know, though, it’s never been held by a vampire. That would be a new one.”
What does it have to do with the sun?
“Auriel is one of the elven gods. He’s with the rest of them in Aetherius. The way I’ve heard it, the sun represents the connection from our world to theirs. Supposedly, the bow draws its energy from the sun itself, which is why it shows up in that prophecy.”
Auriel is the name the elves use for Akatosh. He is Auriel in their pantheon but that does not make him an exclusive elven god! I prefer to call him by the name Akatosh.
The Sun is Akatosh’s connection between Aetherius and Mundus. Interfering with the Sun could severely restrict his ability to influence events on Nirn.
There is no known history saying where and when Akatosh made this bow. Some think it is a product of a Dragon Break. If so it may be like my sword. It could be a weapon of unmatched power. I wonder exactly what powers it has?
“That part, I don’t know. Once we have it, hopefully it’ll be obvious.”
An uneventful ride saw us arrive at Darkfall Cave at about 5:15PM.
It was dull and boring and full of spiders.
I knew it would be along slow slog getting through all the caverns squashing giant spiders as we went. The intimate knowledge of the route to Auriel’s Bow provided me with a shortcut. I knew it would be safe, and fun, but would the others believe me? Too bad, they can follow or go the slow way by themselves.
I turned to Serana to give her the ‘good’ news.
“The stupid grin on your face tells me you have something to say or do that is not remotely funny to a sane person.”
I don’t want to slog our way through these boring caves. I know a great shortcut!
You have to trust me and jump off a perfectly good bridge into the dark and get swept through caves and down waterfalls and probably end up surrounded by giant spiders.
“How do you know this shortcut and how safe it is?”
The Elder Scroll. It has seared a detailed map of this place in my head. Trust me. Besides, you can’t drown. You don’t even breath!
“I might be insane but why not. Meeko needs a bath anyway!”
Jordis was listening with some concern.
“Have you forgotten I am wearing the equivalent of a boat anchor?”
The water is shallow. Just sit on you rump and go for the ride.
“If I drown I will come back and haunt you!”
So I stood halfway along a wooden bridge overlooking a subterranean river flowing at a great speed. Then I jumped.
The water was colder than Valerica’s welcome! Down several waterfalls we went with spiders following.
Till we washed up onto rocky islands with spiders coming from all directions.
Jordis and Serana were staring at me as if I was the next spider on their list.
I quickly used some magicka to dry Jordis and myself off while Serana did the same to herself. Then Meeko stood behind Serana and before I could say anything he started quivering. From his nose to the end of his tail the quiver travelled and every drop of water was expelled from his fur and a great amount of it landed on Serana.
I quickly turned and started walking before she saw the smile.
A bit further in we came to campsite and the body of a young Nord woman. Serana was confused,
“I wonder what happened to them. These people were… why would anyone want to set up camp here?”
I found a letter on her. Apparently she and her brother had been exploring the caves and encountered some trolls. Treating them like intelligent creatures other than the hunters they are they naively thought the trolls would leave them alone. The woman had retrieved the note from her brother’s corpse. It was bloodied and warned her to leave. The fact she was still intact meant a troll killed her and would be back for his dinner later.
I often find bodies of normal citizens trying to better their lives by exploring caves and ruins.
We continued on a bit and saw the siblings had put up some defence in the form of a rock fall trap. Troll were cunning, not intelligent. It is obvious that one of them simply avoided the tripwire to kill the woman.
I set off the trap. I hate leaving them behind when they no longer serve a purpose.
A bit further on we came to a large cavern where the trolls lived. They attacked. They died.
The remains of the woman’s brother were on the bank.
A bit further into the cavern we saw somebody praying at a shrine of Auriel. He must have heard us coming but did not seem perturbed. He slowly turned and greeted us,
“I am Knight-Paladin Gelebor. Welcome to the Great Chantry of Auri-El.”
Well met Gelebor. I am Wulf, this is Jordis, Serana and the drooling one is Meeko.
(Gelebor did a slight nod of the head to each as introduced, even to Meeko.)
This cave is a temple to Auriel?
“Auriel, Auri-El, Alkosh, Akatosh… so many different names for the sovereign of the snow elves.”
Snow elves? You’re a Falmer?
“I prefer snow elf. The name “Falmer” usually holds a negative meaning to most travellers. Those twisted creatures you call Falmer, I call the Betrayed.”
I imagine you know why we’re here.
“For the thousands of years I’ve served as the Chantry’s sentinel, there hasn’t been a single visitor here for any other reason. They request Auriel’s Bow, and I request their assistance. It’s been repeated so many times, I can’t imagine it any other way.”
What type of assistance do you need?
“I need you to kill Arch-Curate Vyrthur… my brother.”
Kill your brother, why?
“The kinship between us is gone. I don’t understand what he’s become, but he’s no longer the brother I once knew. It was the Betrayed… they did something to him, I just don’t know why Auri-El would allow this to happen.”
What exactly did the Betrayed do?
“They swept into the Chantry without warning and began killing everyone without pause.”
Didn’t you fight back?
“The Chantry was a place of peaceful worship. I led a small group of paladins, but we were no match for the Betrayed’s sheer numbers. They slaughtered everyone and stormed the Inner Sanctum where I believe they corrupted Vyrthur.”
Do you even know if he’s alive?
“He’s alive. I’ve seen him. But something’s wrong. He never looks as though he’s in pain or under duress. He just… stands there and watches, as though waiting.”
Have you tried getting into the Inner Sanctum?
“Leaving the wayshrines unguarded would be violating my sacred duty as a Knight-Paladin of Auriel. And an assault on the Betrayed guarding the Inner Sanctum would only end with my death.”
What exactly is a wayshrine?
“Yes, let me show you.”
Gelebor walked over to a domed structure with Auriel’s symbol on top.
He cast a spell and the symbol glowed.
Then the structure lifted to reveal a hexagonal room with a single entrance and a font in its centre.
Serana showed great interest in it,
- Serana: “So this is snow elf magic. Incredible.”
- Gelebor: “This structure is known as a wayshrine. They were used for meditation and for transport when the Chantry was a place of enlightenment. Prelates of these shrines were charged with teaching the mantras of Auri-El to our Initiates.”
- Serana: “What’s that basin in the centre signify?”
- Gelebor: “Once the Initiate completed his mantras, he’d dip a ceremonial ewer in the basin at the wayshrine’s centre and proceed to the next wayshrine.”
- Serana: “So these Initiates had to lug around a heavy pitcher of water. Marvellous. How long would they have to do that?”
- Gelebor: “Well, once the Initiate’s enlightenment was complete, he’d bring the ewer to the Chantry’s Inner Sanctum. Pouring the contents of the ewer into the sacred basin of the Sanctum would allow him to enter for an audience with the Arch-Curate himself.”
- Serana: “All that just to end up dumping it out? Makes no sense to me.”
- Gelebor: “It’s symbolic. I don’t expect you to understand.”
- Serana: “So let’s get this straight. We need to do all that nonsense to get into the temple, so we can kill your brother and claim Auriel’s Bow?”
- Gelebor: “I know how it all sounds, but if there was another way I’d have done it long ago. The only way to get to my brother is by following in the Initiates’ footsteps and travelling from wayshrine to wayshrine just as they did. The first lay at the end of Darkfall Passage, a cavern that represents the absence of enlightenment.”
Gelebor turned his attention to me when I asked him,
How many more wayshrines are there?
“There are five in total, spread far apart across the Chantry.”
These caves must be massive.
“Caves? Oh, no. The Chantry encompasses far more than a few caves, as you’ll soon discover. But before I send you on your way, you’ll need the Initiate’s Ewer.”
(Gelebor handed me a fantastically crafted Ewer of an unknown metal. It was very light but I could tell it was very robust as well.)
So I need to fill this at each wayshrine?
“Once you’ve located a wayshrine, there will be a spectral Prelate tending to it. They will allow you to draw the waters from the shrine’s basin as if you’ve been enlightened.”
What is the Chantry of Auri-El?
“This is, or was, the epicentre of our religion. Most of the snow elf people worshipped Auri-El. The Chantry was constructed near the beginning of the First Era to provide a retreat for those that wished to become enlightened.”
Most snow elves?
“Our empire had temples to some of the other deities: Trinimac, Syrabane, Jephre and Phynaster rounded out the rest. But those temples paled in comparison to the glory of the Chantry and its wayshrines.”
The wayshrines are part of the Chantry then?
“Oh yes. They were an important part of the process here. They represented the steps the Initiates took on the path to total enlightenment. Sadly, the magic used to construct these wonders were lost long before I arrived here.”
Who are the spectral Prelates you mentioned?
“They’re ghosts of the snow elf priests that tended the wayshrines before being slaughtered by the Betrayed. Through the grace of Auri-El they were restored to their spectral form to enable them to continue their duties.”
Good, they should be able to help us.
“I’m afraid in their current form, they still believe the Chantry to be an active centre of worship. They won’t respond to you in any way other than believing that you’re an Initiate and you’re undertaking the journey to the Inner Sanctum.”
Please, tell me about your people.
“We were once a wealthy and prosperous society that occupied a portion of Skyrim. Unfortunately, we were constantly at war with the Nords who claimed the land as their ancestral home.”
The Atmorans. It appears they won.
“In a manner of speaking. We had always maintained an uneasy alliance with the underground-dwelling dwarves, and when faced with extinction we turned to them for help. Surprisingly, they agreed to protect us but demanded a terrible price… the blinding of our race.”
Everyone couldn’t have possibly agreed to that!
“There were splinter groups that resisted the agreement, and even some that sought alternate alliances. But when it was all said and done, those elves were either slaughtered, vanished or gave up and took the dwarves’ bargain.”
What turned your people into the Betrayed?
“I’ve often asked myself that very same question. The blinding of my race was supposedly accomplished with a toxin. Certainly not enough to devolve them into the sad and twisted beings they’ve become.”
Why weren’t the snow elves here affected?
“The Chantry is quite isolated, so it took some time for word of the dwarves’ offer to reach us here. By the time the compact had been completed, it was too late for us to even attempt to intervene.”
Is that why you had retained your sight?
“Correct. We only numbered perhaps a hundred at a time, so our presence remained a secret to the dwarves and the Nords. Ironically, our undoing came at the hands of our own people.”
You mean the Betrayed.
“Yes. They swarmed the Chantry in vast numbers until we were completely overrun. We never really stood a chance. I assume that the Arch-Curate was corrupted by them when they found a way to breach the Inner Sanctum.”
There are other Snow Elves here?
“Vyrthur and I are the only two snow elves that remain within the chantry.”
I will do this journey and speak to Vyrthur. I will not kill him just on your word alone. I cannot. He is a priest of Akatosh and deserves my respect.
“He was more than a priest. He could commune with Auriel on occasion. His position was the pinnacle that all initiates strived for. Is the fact he is a religious man the issue?”
(I retrieved Talos’ coin and handed it to him.)
“What is… “
(His face looked puzzled.)
You can detect it is an item blessed by a God can you not?
“Yes, and I can detect Auriel as part of it but I do not understand.”
It is from one of our Gods, a Divine, his name is Talos and his lord and master is Akatosh.
“I have heard his name from other’s seeking the bow.”
I will never kill a man unless defending myself or others or I have proof of his crime. To do so would be morally corrupt. To do so to a priest of The Divine would be more than morally corrupt, it would be blasphemous.
“You are a priest of your Divine?”
I am Dragonborn, blessed by Akatosh and Champion of The Divine.
“A Dragonborn! Many a seeker of the bow has given me books as a kindly gesture before attempting the wayshrines. I have read about and always wondered what it was like to be blessed by Auriel. I can see that killing a holy man of Auriel would pose a problem.”
(He handed me back the coin.)
The blessing comes with great responsibility. I am given sacred tasks to perform. We shall travel and talk to Vyrthur but if his death is not justified we will need to negotiate what happens with Auriel’s Bow. We do not seek it as treasure or for its capabilities as a weapon. You might say I have been told to seek it out by its original owner.
“I understand. He does have the right to explain himself. I have no proof of the crimes I charge him with. I would not stand in the way of such a sacred task. Let us see what you find and go forward from there.”
One of the walls in the wayshrine showed a portal to Darkfall Passage. We stepped through it.
The passage was lighted by fluorescent tuber plants that retracted when we got near them.
There were cocoons that when you got near them would burst open and some giant flying insect thingy would attack. After the first of those almost made us soil ourselves we decided to destroy them from a distance.
Extra light was provided by fluorescent minerals and mushrooms. Darkfall Passage was quite beautiful in its own way.
The Falmer had made nests from which they sprang to attack us. If they were not so obvious they may have stood a chance of getting near us before death met them head on.
Chittering Chaurus of varying sizes greeted us with sprays of venom.
Another source of luminescence came from pretty bell like flowers. I collected a few for the botanists at Dragons Keep to study.
We came across what seemed like an idol or even a shrine. It consisted of upright man and mer bones as well as part of Chaurus. It was lit by fluorescent rocks at the base of the skeleton. I have been in dozens of locations populated by Falmer. I have never seen a structure made by them that did not have an obvious purpose. It suggested a higher form of thinking than I had previously attributed to them. Perhaps this isolated population was evolving? Become more than they were!
The fluorescent rocks were beautiful. I was enjoying this trip through Darkfall Passage. Maybe I was missing the lesson it was to teach an initiate.
After negotiating an unusually concentrated series of traps we came to a dead end. On the wall were some weird pull chains. It was apparent the Falmer did not want intruders finding out what was behind a hidden door. Too bad for them I did not care. I pulled one of the chains.
A hidden door opened.
We found ourselves in a large cavern. Giant jellyfish type things reminded me of Blackreach. In the distance we could see a wayshrine and headed that way.
We could see stripped deer running around and then were attacked by their predator, a stripped wild cat.
There were more unusual plants. I collected some of those as well.
I approached the spectral Prelate.
- “Welcome, Initiate. I am Prelate Sidanyis. This is the Wayshrine of Illumination. Are you prepared to honour the mantras of Auri-El and fill your vessel with His enlightenment?”
- “Then behold Auri-El’s gift, my child. May it light your path as you seek tranquillity within the Inner Sanctum.”
Prelate Sidanyis then cast a spell to open the wayshrine. I dipped the ewer in the water in the font.
One of the walls showed a portal to the next part of the pilgrimage. We entered it.
We emerged in a cave similar to Darkfall Passage except it had remains of Snow Elf buildings.
Something had been bothering me so I asked Serana,
Are you surprised the Gelebor is willing to give up the bow so easily. I mean before I mentioned my connection to Akatosh?
“As long as we can get this ‘Vyrthur’ out of the Sanctum I think he would be happy just to hand it over.”
If Gelebor is the nonchalant about whoever kills Vyrthur… what if I had accepted Harkon’s gift or let you turn me?
He would hand a vampire the means to harm Akatosh’s influence and connection to Nirn!
“Why would he do that?”
He never intended to hand over Auriel’s Bow to a vampire or he is unaware of the prophecy.
“Or he never intends to hand it over to anybody, vampire or not.”
I am still unsure of what this Divine Task is all about. I know the bow is an integral part of it but how it all fits together I have no idea. Let us continue and find out.
We had to kill some more wild cats before we came to a chasm. I warned everybody to be careful. If they fell down there they would end up back where we jumped into the underground river.
We emerged into a valley. It would have been a thing of beauty when the Snow Elf architecture was still intact. As it was the scattered ruins made it seem sinister and uninviting.
We had to kill a few of those stripped wild cats and a lone Falmer before finding the next wayshrine.
I approached the spectral Prelate.
- “Welcome, Initiate. I am Prelate Athring. This is the Wayshrine of Sight. Are you prepared to honour the mantras of Auri-El and fill your vessel with his enlightenment?”
- “Then behold Auri-El’s gift, my child. May it speed your journey to the Inner Sanctum.”
He opened the wayshrine and I filled the ewer. A portal back to Darkfall Passage filled one of the walls.
The next part of our “Pilgrimage” required a fairly steep climb.
Spider webs, egg cases and cocoons prepared us for the inevitable spider ambush.
They did not last long.
Just past the spiders we found ourselves in an icy valley carved out by a slow moving river. Once again its beauty was marred by the remnants of a civilisation lying broken and scattered about.
At the bottom of the rise there was a skeleton and a chest. Next to the chest was a book with Auriel’s symbol on its cover. The fact the book was lying in snow and had been for thousands of years yet looked pristine indicated to me it was something special. When I opened it I was met with a language I had not seen before. Urag will know what to do with it and might even be able to translate it for me. So into our pack it went.
The next wayshrine was only a little further along the river.
I approached the spectral Prelate.
- “You’ve reached the Wayshrine of Learning, Initiate. I am Prelate Celegriath. Are you prepared to honour the mantras of Auri-El and fill your vessel with His enlightenment?”
- “Auri-El bless you, child. For you are a step closer to the Inner Sanctum and everlasting wisdom.”
He opened the wayshrine and I filled the ewer. A portal back to Darkfall Passage filled one of the walls.
The path to the next wayshrine would require us to cross a large frozen lake. We crossed the river and climbed up to get to it.
When we got to the lake the Inner Sanctum loomed above us. In there somewhere was Vyrthur and hopefully the end of this Divine Task.
It was a fair hike across the ice to get to the next wayshrine.
As Serana pointed out, it was not the thickest and cracks appeared as we walked across it. I told everybody to spread out a bit. No use all of us getting turned into icicles if it gives way.
About half way across two dragons burst from under the ice. A great hiding spot if trying to avoid The Blades. Not the best for conducting an ambush.
The one called Naaslaarum flew past me and issued a challenge. One Dovah to another.
I waited for him to fly by again and used Dragonrend on him. He landed a fair distance away and I ran toward him.
When he saw me he roared and charged.
After I hit him a few times with “The Sword” he turned ethereal and I could no longer harm him.
Serana came running past and dispelled the dweomer so I could once again use my weapon. Serana’s sword had blood on it. She had obviously been fighting the other dragon, Voslaarum, at close quarter. She was proving to be a very useful ally in a fight!
For the first time since I fought the dragon outside Whiterun I leapt upon the back of one.
As Naaslaarum bucked and tried to dislodge me I rained blow upon blow.
Until he screamed his last and I leapt off his lifeless body.
He collapsed and I started to absorb his soul even as I ran to help my comrades with Voslaarum.
He was high in the sky but I could hear his mournful goodbye to Naaslaarum.
He eventually swooped to attack and I hit him with Dragonrend. He landed a fair distance away and Meeko was the first to reach him.
By the time I got there Voslaarum’s attention had turned from the annoying dog to the warrior with the huge sword.
Jordis took an almighty swing and the Dovah was doomed. She nonchalantly sheathed her sword as my companions watched the end of a mighty opponent.
I absorbed his soul and wondered why they attacked. We meant them no harm.
We finished crossing the ice and climbed to a plateau where we found the next wayshrine.
I approached the prelate.
- “You’ve arrived at the Wayshrine of Resolution. I am Prelate Nirilor. Are you prepared to honour the mantras of Auri-El and fill your vessel with His enlightenment?”
- “Then go forth, child. May the enrichment of Auri-El strengthen your resolve as you undertake your journey to the Inner Sanctum.”
He opened the wayshrine and I filled the ewer. A several portals to other wayshrines filled the walls.
To reach the last wayshrine I knew negotiating a valley and several caves would be needed. When we reached the valley it was apparent that it was home to a sizeable Falmer population.
We took most of the Falmer we saw from a distance. Arrows, Thu’um and magic made short work of them.
We had to battle high up in the valley. At the bottom of the valley. Through narrow tunnels and large caverns.
Along the way I found more of those books with the unknown language in them.
After several hours we emerged from a passage to find ourselves at the last wayshrine.
I approached the prelate.
- “You’ve found the Wayshrine of Radiance, Initiate. I am Prelate Edhelbor. Are you prepared to honour the mantras of Auri-El and fill your vessel with His enlightenment?”
- “May the blessings of Auri-El protect you as you climb the road to the Inner Sanctum and final enlightenment.”
He opened the wayshrine and I filled the ewer. Several portals to other wayshrines filled the walls.
We walked bit further and could see a Temple. Serana said,
“That… has to be the place. I’ve never seen a building like that before. It looks like some kind of temple. By the blood… The bow has to be in there.”
We crossed the bridge and were confronted by a large statue of Auriel. It showed his connection to the Sun. It was very ancient. The Temple must be as old.
We made our way upstairs and the door to the temple was magically sealed.
I poured the water from the ewer into a font.
The water slowly drained from the font and flowed down some conduits to a concave symbol of Akatosh.
When the indent was full a green beam of light shot awards.
The lock on the door turned and we could now open it.
When we entered the temple we saw dozens of Falmer and Chaurus frozen in place. Mighty magics had been unleashed in the final defence of the Snow Elves.
I warned everybody not to touch anything the frozen Falmer may have. I knew instinctively that would shatter the stasis spell and the thawed Falmer would attack.
In the middle of the room was a shrine to Akatosh.
On the plinth it stood on were a couple of red flowers. They were the same type Rigmor loved and used to pick. The same type that she dropped so I could follow her when kidnapped. We had not seen any in our travels through the valleys and caves of this place. I picked them up and carefully stored them. Two flowers, two souls intertwined. Thank you to whoever left the reminder.
Snow elves died when eating a meal. So swift must the Falmer invasion have been.
We finally came to a small ice covered tunnel where part of the building had collapsed. I warned my companions that the Inner Sanctum was just though the tunnel and to be prepared. We did not know what kind of greeting Arch-Curate Vyrthur would have for us.
We could see him sitting on a throne behind some sort of barrier.
We approached him and in typical bad guy form he sprouted garbage as if we would lie down and die without a fight.
- Arch-Curate Vyrthur: “Did you really come here expecting to claim Auriel’s Bow? You’ve done exactly as I predicted and brought your fetching companion to me.”
- Serana: “Wait, is he talking about me?”
- Arch-Curate Vyrthur: “Which, I’m sorry to say, means your usefulness is at an end!”
(Some of the frozen creatures came to life and were dispatched in seconds. I got as close as I could and laughed at him.)
- Arch-Curate Vyrthur: “An impressive display, but a wasted effort. You delay nothing but your own deaths!”
- Serana: “Watch out! He’s pulling down the ceiling!”
- Arch-Curate Vyrthur: “Finish them!”
(Another lot of unfrozen creatures dispatched in seconds. I yawned in front of him.)
- Arch-Curate Vyrthur: “This has gone on long enough.”
- Serana: “Your life ends here, Vyrthur!”
- Arch-Curate Vyrthur: “Child, my life ended long before you were born!”
(Oh no, not a Frost Atronach! That took an extra half a second to destroy. This guy is pathetic.)
- Arch-Curate Vyrthur: “No… I won’t let you ruin centuries of preparations…”
- Serana: “Surrender and give us the bow!”
- Arch-Curate Vyrthur: “Death first!”
Typical cry baby bad guy. When things don’t go your way, spit the dummy!
He summoned some form of energy.
Then released it and made the roof collapse.
I was knocked to the ground and Serana helped me back onto my feet.
“Come on Wulf. We have him on the run. Let’s go finish this.”
We pursued Vyrthur to the very top of the Inner Sanctum. He had nowhere else to hide.
- Serana: “Enough, Vyrthur. Give us the bow!”
- Arch-Curate Vyrthur “How dare you. I was the Arch-Curate of Auri-El, girl. I had the ears of a god!”
- Serana: “Until the “Betrayed” corrupted you. Yes, yes. We’ve heard this sad story”
- Arch-Curate Vyrthur: “Gelebor and his kind are easily manipulated fools. Look into my eyes, Serana. You tell me what I am.”
(Serana stared and him and let out an audible gasp.)
- Serana: “You’re… you’re a vampire? But Auriel should have protected you…”
- Arch-Curate Vyrthur: “The moment I was infected by one of my own Initiates, Auri-El turned his back on me. I swore I’d have my revenge, no matter what the cost.”
- Serana: “You want to take revenge… on a god?”
- Arch-Curate Vyrthur: “Auri-El himself may have been beyond my reach, but his influence on our world wasn’t. All I needed was the blood of a vampire and his own weapon, Auriel’s Bow.”
- Serana: “The blood of a vampire… Auriel’s Bow… It… it was you? You created that prophecy?”
- Arch-Curate Vyrthur: “A prophecy that lacked a single, final ingredient… the blood of a pure vampire. The blood of a Daughter of Coldharbour.”
(I had never seen Serana so mad. She stepped forward and lifted him by his collar till he was several feet off the floor.)
(By this stage my inner beast was in control. Vyrthur was an insult to Akatosh. Both he and Serana were wrong. Akatosh would not and could not protect him against the vampire disease. No Divine protects against any disease. He is to die for his blasphemy. I used the Thu’um to amplify my voice. It echoed so that his crime was repeated for all to hear over and over.)
YOU HAVE BLASPHEMED AND PLOTTED AGAINST YOUR OWN GOD. MY GOD! NOW YOU WILL DIE AND MOLAG BAL IS WELCOME TO YOUR DARK SOUL.
(Serana threw him several feet away and prepared for battle.)
- Serana: “You were waiting… all this time for someone with my blood to come along. Well, too bad for you… I intend on keeping it. Let’s see if your blood has any power to it!”
- Arch-Curate Vyrthur: “What trickery is this?”
Serana help him in place with a lightning spell. That prevented him from moving or casting.
I put all the power I could muster into an Unrelenting Force Shout that sent him tumbling over the edge.
My condemnation was still echoing in the valleys when the Shout added to it and Vyrthur’s scream of terror made a three point harmony. It was a long fall and my inner beast laughed along with the fading scream that ended abruptly when Vyrthur smashed into the ground.
I took a few seconds to gather myself and regain control. I had no guilt or doubt about killing Vyrthur. That was my Divine Task.
We slowly made our way downstairs. Gelebor had used the wayshrine to make his way to the Inner Sanctum.
“So, the deed has been done. The restoration of this wayshrine means that Vyrthur must be dead and the Betrayed no longer have control over him.”
The Betrayed weren’t to blame.
“What? What are you talking about?”
He was a vampire. He controlled them.
“A vampire? I see. That would explain much. Deep inside, it brings me joy that the Betrayed weren’t to blame for what happened here.”
“Because that means there’s still hope that they might one day shed their hatred and learn to believe in Auri-El once again. It’s been a long time since I felt that way and it’s been long overdue. My thanks, to both of you.”
“You risked everything to get Auri-El’s Bow, and in turn, you’ve restored the Chantry. I can’t think of a more deserving champion to carry it than you. If you wish to learn more about the bow, or obtain Sunhallowed Arrows for it, I’d be more than happy to help. You’ve but to ask.”
Gelebor stood aside and in the middle of the wayshrine was Auriel’s Bow. I picked it up and immediately felt the comfort and power of The Divine. It was His weapon and it is now in His servant’s hands.
I walked to Gelebor and said,
I need to speak to you of your brother’s failure.
“Please, I need to know why he did these things. Serana shows that being a vampire does not automatically make you evil. What turned Vyrthur?”
An initiate gave him the vampire disease. Vyrthur in his arrogance thought that Auriel should not have let that happen. That he should have been unique amongst all mortals and been protected against it. You know as well as I, no God protects mortals against disease. Peryite protects some followers only against diseases of his design. Vampirism is Molag Bal’s. He likely had the disease for several days before it killed him and his soul became Molag Bal’s. Instead of praying at a shrine or drinking a potion to remove the disease he spent his last days of mortal existence blaming Akatosh for his predicament. It was arrogance than turned you brother into a vengeful maniac. It was arrogance that made him blame Auriel and plot against him. In the end his level of blasphemy and his plan to harm Akatosh’s influence on Nirn were enough to condemn him.
“Thank you. Now I understand. He lost faith when it was the only thing that could have saved him.”
What will happen to you now?
“Even with Vyrthur gone and the Inner Sanctum destroyed, my duty as a Knight-Paladin of Auri-El remains. I’ve been sworn to protect this vale and everything it represents until I die.”
And the wayshrines?
“For the time being, they will remain open. If remnants of our kind who escaped the betrayal at the hands of the dwarves exist out there, perhaps they will find this place one day.”
What will happen to the Chantry now?
“While it would fill me with joy to see the Chantry back to its former glory, that time has long since passed. Now that my brother’s dead, it’s quite possible I’m the last of our kind.”
Then I’ve contributed to your kind’s extinction.
“There’s no need for that kind of talk. I said it was possible. It’s also quite possible that there are some other isolated conclaves of snow elves nestled elsewhere on Nirn. I’ll also assume Vyrthur didn’t exactly give you the option to stay your hand.”
What will you do then? “For the time being I will remain here, on the overlook and continue trying to keep the Sanctum free of the Betrayed. You’re always welcome to return here at any time, of course.”
Can the Betrayed ever be cured?
“I feel nothing but sympathy for the Betrayed, despite my actions against them. But I’m afraid that they’re well beyond a cure at this point.”
“The twisted forms you’ve seen didn’t occur overnight. It isn’t a plague or a disease that ravaged our species. The dwarves may have stolen their sight, but it took many generations for them to become what they are today.”
Then there’s no hope for them.
“Perhaps they’ll never return to their former appearance, but over the centuries, I’ve noticed a rise in their intellect. If a line of communication could be established with them, maybe they can find peace. It’s the only way they’ll discover that they weren’t always malignant… they were once a proud and prosperous race.”
I came across a shrine they had constructed. I have never seen the like in any of the places I have encountered the Betrayed. To me it confirms a rise in their intellect.
“Thank you. I would love to see it but there are still way too many Betrayed for me to handle.”
What can you tell me about Auriel’s Bow?
“The bow was said to be carried by Auri-El himself into battle against the forces of Lorkhan in ancient and mythic times. Its craftsmanship has no equal anywhere within Tamriel and possibly beyond.”
What can it do?
“The bow draws it power from Aetherius itself, channelling it through the sun. Therefore, when an arrow is loosed from the bow, it produces a magical effect very similar to being burned by fire.”
I can feel its power it can do far more than that.
“That’s actually only a fraction of its potential. With Sunhallowed Arrows, you would be able to produce a much more spectacular effect… causing bursts of sunlight to envelop your foes. The sunbursts would certainly hurt anything, but is especially devastating to the undead.”
Vyrthur said something about using blood?
“Well, using an arrow with the bow that’s been dipped in blood may cause it to function differently… corrupting its purpose. That’s of course if you’re foolish enough to try it.”
How do I obtain Sunhallowed Arrows?
“I can actually assist you in that regard. If you were to bring me some good quality elven arrows, I could imbue them with the proper incantations and rituals.”
Can you make me some Sunhallowed Arrows? “Absolutely.”
As Gelebor was making the arrows I talked to Serana.
“It’s… not as shiny as I was expecting. Still, it’s beautiful.”
What do we do now?
“I think we both know… it’s time to face my father. If we don’t, he’ll keep chasing us for the rest of our lives.”
If we do, he’ll have to die.
“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. It’s… it’s not easy. But I don’t think we have much of a choice.”
Then let’s face him, together.
“If we head back to the castle and kick the front door in, we’re going to be knee deep in his friends. Let’s head back to Isran and let him see what we’ve got first. I’m betting he’ll lend us a sword or two.”
We will ask him out of courtesy. We do not need him. I have many more like Jordis at home.
When I turned around to see how Gelebor was doing with the arrows I was shocked to see two children with him.
“Here is a welcome surprise. Fanaris and Genevier are the children of one of our most accomplished mages. They were put into some sort of stasis field during the attack that must have been linked to the restoration of all the wayshrines. When the one here became operational the stasis field ended.”
I didn’t see them come through the wayshrine.
“No they were somewhere in the main temple. They were told by their father to head for this wayshrine when they awoke. The damage confused them but then they heard talking and followed it to here.”
Maybe there are others like them?
“I will fix up the living quarters of the Temple so we have somewhere familiar for them to stay. I will bind the doors so the only way in is via the wayshrines. We will be safe in here while I decide what to do. It will be hard to explain all that has happened and their loss.”
How about I visit in a few months. We can discuss a way forward then.
“You are welcome anytime.”
My companions and I used the wayshrine to travel back to the original cave system. We made our way out to Skyrim from there.
It was about 5:30AM of the 21st when we finally emerged. We mounted our horse and headed for Fort Dawnguard.
Not far into the ride we came across a Thalmor assassin squad. After disposing of them Serana wanted to know who they were and what was their problem with me. So for several hours of the ride I gave her a brief summary of the last few thousand years of history culminating in Talos, The New Order and why me and the Thalmor are not best of friends.
We arrived at Fort Dawnguard at about 2:30PM.
Isran was standing in the middle chamber barking orders as usual.
I was holding Auriel’s Bow. When he turned and saw it in my hand he was stunned.
“The bow… you have Auriel’s Bow!”
(I handed it to him so he could feel it. Maybe even sense the power of Akatosh in it.)
“I’ve heard it described in tales, but I could never have imagined its beauty.”
(He reverently handed it back to me.)
We need your help Isran.
“Indeed. The day hasn’t been won while Harkon still walks Tamriel. But what of Serana? Can she be trusted to lift a blade against her own kind? Hew own family?”
I am tired of your paranoid mistrust of one who had done nothing but help. Hate to break it to you but Harkon was not the big bad guy in all of this. Serena has fought by my side and killed many of her clan. Today she helped me complete my Divine Task. We have prevented great damage to Akatosh’s influence on Nirn!
I do not need you or the Dawnguard. I have my own companions who are more powerful than any of your troops. I can muster up as many men as I need as Legate of the Imperial Army.
I have asked you out of courtesy to accompany us on this unpleasant task.
(Isran looked Serana in the eyes.)
I am truly sorry Serana. Old prejudices die hard. I would be honoured to fight by your side. I take no pleasure in this fight against your clan but they must be stopped.
(Serana just nodded her head then wandered off to another room. I think she knew what was coming next.)
“Let me address the Dawnguard and then we’ll be off. The men deserve to know we’ve finally gained the upper hand.”
By the time we reach Volkihar Castle it will be dark. We do not want to give the vampire the upper hand if they sally forth to confront us. By all means move out soon but meet me at the small docks opposite at 12:00AM. We will attack when the sun is at its strongest.
(I asked Jordis to go sit with Serana as this is a difficult moment for her.)
“EVERYONE! GATHER ‘ROUND!”
(It took a few minutes for the senior Dawnguard fighters to assemble. When they were all there, silence filled the Fort. )
“For too long we’ve allowed these vampires to poison the night and kill our people! Now, we finally have the means to strike back! We now have Auriel’s Bow. The gods themselves have favoured us and we must answer with action! The time has come to finally put an end to Harkon and his unholy prophecy! We will march on their lair and destroy those wretched abominations so they can no longer corrupt our world! This is our fight and this is our fate! This is the time of the Dawnguard!”
(What followed was typical soldier bullshit shouted before a battle. Belittle the opponents. Boast what violence you will perpetrate. Claim the support of the Gods. This is what Serana dreaded hearing. Her father and her clan reduced to this pile of abuse by those about to slaughter them.)
“Let’s go. For the Dawnguard!”
With that they all left the building at a run. I think after the first five or six hours their bloodlust might disappear enough for fatigue to take over.
When all was quiet Serana and Jordis emerged. I told them we were heading for Dragon Bridge and would spend the night there. It was a quiet uneventful ride.
We got there just after 11:00PM. As I was about to enter the inn Serana approached me.
“I will spend the night alone somewhere nearby if you don’t mind. I need to come to terms with what we are going to do. It is the right thing as father will never give up on the prophecy and would never believe it is false. The clan also has to pay for the war they declared on the citizens of Skyrim. They had no need to kill the innocents of the towns and villages. They did not kill out of need. They killed out of spite. That is wrong and is the type of evil Molag Bal thrives on.”
I understand Serana. We will be meeting at the boat ramp across from the castle at noon. You can meet use there or join me in the morning.
I watched her walk off into the dark. I have no father I can remember. I have no idea how hard it would be to kill the man who sired you.
I entered the tavern, had a good meal, retired to my rented room and wrote these journal entries.
I do not know what time I fell asleep.