Windpeak Inn, Nightcaller Temple, Dragons Keep: New Divine Task, Mara’s priest, Dream stealing Daedric Lord, Evil relic, Confession, Flashback, Friends killed, Daedric Lord defied, Relic destroyed.
I was directed to the Windpeak Inn in Dawnstar via “The Pull”.
I know who I have to meet this morning. A Priest of Mara called Erandur. Like Dinya Balu, he is a Dunmer. Mara is not even in the Dunmer pantheon. Meeting two who worship her is fascinating.
I have been singing at the inn for a few nights so that is how I knew he was the one to speak to. This morning is the time to do so according to the strength of The Pull.
Last night I overheard this conversation with Erandur so I know the nightmares Dawnstar citizens are having are problematic.
- Irgnir: It’s a curse! It has to be! I’ve got to get out of this town.
- Fruki: Irgnir, get a hold of yourself. They’re just dreams. Please tell her, Erandur.
- Erandur: Listen to your friend, Fruki. They are just dreams, my dear. I assure you that it is quite normal.
- Irgnir: It’s the same dream over and over again. You think that’s normal? It’s evil I tell you!
- Fruki: Erandur, she has a point. You keep telling us no harm will follow these dreams, but they must be an omen.
- Thoring: Give him a chance to speak. He’s trying to help us.
- Erandur: Everyone, please. I’m doing what I can to end these nightmares. In the meantime all I ask is you remain strong and put your trust in Lady Mara.
- Irgnir: I… I will. Thank you…
I approached Erandur.
“Dragonborn. Let me tell you how much your entertainment is appreciated by the citizens. It has helped them forget the nightmares for a while. Sometimes I wish I had finished my bard training.”
Please Erandur, call me Wulf. That is Lydia and the one hiding under the table with a stolen sweet-roll is Meeko.
“Do you know about the nightmares?”
I have heard a lot of talk about them. Did you pray to Mara for help?
“Yes, a few nights ago.”
I am here because The Divine need me to speak to you. Can you tell me about the dreams?
“The entire town is being plagued by horrible nightmares. They’re in serious danger but I’m afraid there’s little I can do about it.”
Do you know why they are having these nightmares?
“These dreams are manifestations created by the Daedric Lord Vaermina. She has an awful hunger for our memories. In return, she leaves behind nightmares, not unlike a cough marks a serious illness. I must end her terrible influence over these people before the damage becomes permanent.”
Vaermina the Dreamweaver. Daedric Lord of nightmares, terror, evil omens and the stealer of dreams. Do any of them remember meeting her in Quagmire, her domain in Oblivion?
“I suppose it is in your interest to know much of the seventeen Daedric Princes, or Lords as some call them? Nobody remembers meeting her but obviously they have. That is how she steals dreams and replaces them with nightmares.”
I have come across bandits and others who do remember meeting her. They become fearless.
“I have heard of such. Although all mortals can end up meeting her no matter where they live, the problem is much amplified in Dawnstar and I know why. I need to return to Nightcaller Temple.”
Wasn’t that an old fort used during the war with the Snow Elves? What do you mean ‘return’? Have you been there before?
“I’ve already said too much. If anyone overhears what we’re saying, it could start a panic. I would simply ask that you trust me and help me end Dawnstar’s nightmares.”
I really do not like secrets. They sometime compromise my ability to complete a Divine Task. I will trust you because you are a Priest of a Divine.
“Mara be praised! Nightcaller Temple is only a short walk from Dawnstar. Let me change out of these cumbersome robes and then we must hurry.”
As we waited for Erandur to change Lydia asked,
“You trust him even though he keeps secrets?”
The people of Dawnstar need help. I must help them. That is who I am and what is required by The Divine. My level of trust in Erandur is irrelevant. I think he will tell us all his secrets eventually.
Erandur soon emerged and we made our way out of the inn and started walking to Nightcaller Temple.
We had not gone far when he stopped and pointed to the Temple.
“The tower on that hill is our destination. People around here call it the Tower of the Dawn. I’m not familiar with the tower’s history, but it was deserted for quite a long time before Nightcaller Temple was established inside. When the temple was active the priests would rarely be seen in Dawnstar. They preferred to live a solitary existence. The temple’s been abandoned for decades now. Ironic isn’t it… a ruin within a ruin? There’s a small shrine to Mara I established inside the tower’s entry hall. I was hoping to seek spiritual guidance from Her. She has sent you.”
Not as a spiritual guide I can assure you!
“Dinya told me how you recently helped Mara.”
Mara helped me in return. She gave me clues on how to resolve potential future problems.
“Dinya also told me about Rigmor. I do not know what to say.”
I would advise that whatever you say, do not use Dinya’s flowery language or I will hit you with your own mace.
“I promise not to. I don’t understand any of it!”
(Erandur started to walk towards the Temple once again.)
“It feels good to finally have a chance to help these people. Helplessly watching them suffer has been difficult. Come, let us fix this.”
There were many assorted beasts near the Temple. We killed those that attacked us. Erandur was quite a good spellsword, even though he uses a mace.
Finally we stood before the entrance.
Erandur turned to me.
“Before we enter I must warn you about the dangers that could be lurking within.”
(I made sure both Lydia and Meeko were paying attention. Especially Meeko who seems to think he is invincible.)
“Years ago, this temple was raided by an orc war party seeking revenge… they were being plagued by nightmares just like the people of Dawnstar. Knowing they could never defeat the orcs, the priests of Vaermina released what they call “The Miasma,” putting everyone to sleep.”
Was the Miasma used for rituals so the priests could commune longer with Vaermina?
“Yes. It’s a gas that places the affected in a deep sleep. Because the rituals would last for months or even years, the Miasma was also designed to slow down the ageing process.”
Is the Miasma still inside? Do we need to take precautions?
“I think when we unseal the place the Miasma will dissipate so we should be safe from it. However, some of the orcs and priests will awaken. The longer an individual is exposed to the Miasma, the more the mind can become damaged. Those who’ve been under the effect of it for extended periods of time have been known to lose their minds entirely. In some cases, a few never awoke at all.”
OK, possibly insane Priests of Vaermina and pissed off Orcs. Should be fun!
(We entered the temple and were confronted by a seal with Vaermina’s likeness on it.)
“Give me just a moment, and I’ll have this open.”
(Erandur cast some sort of spell on it. I could not detect what the dweomer was. That only happens when it is Daedric in origin.)
(He stepped through the now transparent seal and we followed. A little further in he stopped.)
“That is the source of the nightmares.”
(Erandur pointed to a staff one floor below. It had some sort of horned skull on it. An orange translucent shield surrounded it.)
“Behold the Skull of Corruption, the source of Dawnstar’s woes. We must reach the inner sanctum and destroy it. It holds a constant hunger for the memories of others. The Skull has been out of touch for so long, I fear it’s gained the ability to reach out on its own and try to feed. What it does with these memories is just conjecture and an argument for scholars and historians to this very day. Come, there’s no time to lose.”
(We were soon heading down some stairs. At the bottom was a blue-grey mist.)
“Can you see the remains of the Miasma as it dissipates? It is so diluted it no longer presents a danger.”
(At the end of a short corridor was a magical barrier. Erandur drew his mace and readied a fireball. He approached the barrier cautiously.)
(A priest and orc awoke and attacked each other and us. They were soon dispatched and we stood in front of the barrier.)
“Damn it. The priests must have activated this barrier when the Miasma was released.”
I have seen many such barriers. This one looks difficult to breach.
“Impossible actually. Hmm, I wonder… There may be a way to bypass the barrier, but I must check their library and confirm it can be done.”
Enough Erandur! You are guessing as we go yet you also seem to be very familiar with this temple. Isn’t it time you told us what is going on?
“I suppose there’s no point in concealing the truth any longer. My knowledge of this temple comes from personal experience. I was a priest of Vaermina.”
That is quite a career change. Priest of one of the most evil Daedric Lords. Now priest of the Goddess of Love.
“And what would you have me say? Sorry for following the misguided teachings of a mad Divine? Sorry for stealing memories from children? Do you realize when the orcs attacked; I was only concerned with myself? I fled… and left my brothers and sisters behind to die.”
So this is more than just helping the people of Dawnstar?
“I’ve spent the last few decades living in regret and seeking redemption from Mara. And by Her Benevolence, I will right my wrongs.”
I am glad we can help you find that redemption. I know a very wise and very old being who was the epitome of evil. Yet I now regard him as a friend and he helped me save this world from Alduin. He posed the question, ‘Zin krif horvut se suleyk. What is better – to be born good, or to overcome your evil nature through great effort?’
(Erandur was looking at me with hope in his eyes.)
I do not think there is an answer except within your own soul. When you think you have done enough to balance the harm done through evil with the benevolence wrought by doing good you will know. You will not need Mara or any other God to announce their forgiveness. You will forgive yourself.
“Then let us continue. I still have a key to the library. Hopefully we can find the information I need.”
(We followed Erandur back up the stairs and along the corridor to a door we had passed earlier.
(He unlocked it and we entered.)
(Many priests and orcs awakened. It took a few minutes to dispatch them all.)
“Barring any more interruptions, perhaps we can locate the information I need. We’re looking for a book of alchemical recipes called ‘The Dreamstride.’ The tome bears the likeness of Vaermina on the cover. It should be here somewhere. It will have information about a potion called ‘Vaermina’s Torpor’.”
(We spread out and started searching the many shelves of mostly destroyed books.)
“This library used to be filled with arcane volumes. Now look at it; almost everything’s been burned. I hope the tome we need is still intact.”
(After a few minutes searching I spotted the book sitting on a pedestal.)
(I opened it and read it. This is the relevant passage.)
“For over a thousand years, the Priests of Vaermina have been masters of the art of alchemy. The complexity and potency of their mixtures are nothing short of legendary. These alchemical treasures are so highly sought-after, that a single draught showing up on the black market can command sums in the tens of thousands of septims.
Of the numerous potions that have surfaced to date, Vaermina’s Torpor is perhaps the most impressive. A single sip of this viscous liquid places the imbiber in a state known as “The Dreamstride.” This condition allows the subject to experience the dreams of another as if they were actually there. The subject becomes an integral part of the dream, behaving as if they belong. To any other entities in this dream state, the subject will be mistaken for the dreamer; the subject will even find his mannerisms, speech patterns and knowledge expanded appropriately.
To an observer, after the subject has imbibed the potion, they will appear to vanish. As the subject traverses distances within the dream, they will also traverse distances in the actual world. When the Torpor’s effect has expired, the subject will fade back into reality in the exact location projected within the Dreamstride. Some Dreamstriders have transported their subjects a few feet, and some have appeared thousands of miles from their origin in a matter of minutes.
It’s to be noted that the Dreamstride is highly dangerous and presents the subject with numerous pitfalls. In certain dreams, subjects have been exposed to life-threatening scenarios such as sicknesses, violence and even death. In most cases, the subject simply fades back to our world without harm, but in some instances, the subject never reappeared and was assumed to have expired or the subject reappeared deceased. It’s also quite possible that the subject could reappear in a precarious or hazardous location in reality, even though that location appeared safe within the Dreamstride.
Vaermina’s Torpor is as mysterious and elusive as the priests that created it. It’s unknown whether this unique transport mechanism is a result of the Torpor itself or simply the odd machinations of Vaermina, but the potential for using the Dreamstride to penetrate seemingly impassable obstacles certainly outweighs its mysterious nature.”
Everybody stop looking. I have found it and the relevant passage.
(I took the book to Erandur.)
“Let me take a look… Mara be praised! There is a way past the barrier to the inner sanctum. It involves a potion called ‘Vaermina’s Torpor’. It grants an ability the priests of Vaermina called “The Dreamstride”. With it you can use dreams to travel distances in the real world.”
That is amazing! I could really have used something like that over the last few years.
“Quite amazing, yes. Alchemy and the blessings of a Divine distilled down into an ingestible liquid. Sadly, I have yet to see it function in person.”
(Erandur, like quite a few others I have met, refer to Daedra as Divine. It is simply a cultural thing that some followers of The Nine get upset about.)
I get the feeling if we find some I might be the chance for you to see it in action.
“Unfortunately so. I would love to try it but as a sworn priest of Mara, the elixir won’t work for me. The Torpor will only work for Priests of Vaermina, or the unaffiliated. You’ll be viewing the memory of another through your own eyes and with your own body. Those around you will perceive you as normal and you will find the words you utter may not be your own. Thanks to all of these odd principles, there is quite a lot of debate as to whether this is really a dream or just the machinations of Vaermina.”
Unaffiliated? I am the Champion of The Divine, Azura, Boethia, Hermaeus Mora and Meridia. Since I have not sworn any oaths to them I am technically unaffiliated. We will only know if we find some Torpor and try it.
“I believe there is a laboratory in the east wing. If we proceed there, we should be able to locate a sample.”
We just found the exact book you needed amongst a burnt and destroyed library. I am sure an intact bottle of Torpor will be awaiting us amongst the rubble of the laboratory.
“You sound a bit cynical?”
We are walking through another place where nobody has visited for decades at least yet lanterns and candles are burning bright. Finding an intact bottle of Torpor sounds perfectly reasonable.
(We quickly made out way to the laboratory. It was full of grumpy orcs and priests that we spent several minutes dispatching.)
“Now that they’ve been dealt with, we need to find the Torpor. We used to store it in small red bottles. It will have a tag attached to the bottle’s neck with its name on it.”
(We spread to search. The laboratory was not damaged much but it looked like the orcs were in the middle of ransacking it before the Miasma was released. Lydia called me to look at what she thought might be a bottle of Torpor. I looked at the label. It was what we needed.)
Erandur, Lydia found a bottle!
(He came over and inspected it and handed it to me.)
“I’m relieved we discovered a bottle. Are you ready to drink it?”
How do I ensure I go to where and when I am needed?
“Think of turning on the Miasma as you drink the Torpor. The Miasma has only ever been turned on once so you should appear at the right time and place. You will have to follow the priest who turns it on. The barrier can only be enabled and will automatically be enabled when the Miasma starts. There will be a soul gem in a brazier powering the barrier. You can turn off the barrier by removing it from the brazier.”
Dawnstar’s fate may well rest in this tiny bottle. The longer I wait the more damage Vaermina could be doing to its citizens. Here goes and let us pray it works!
(I thought about turning on the Miasma as I drank the Torpor. I was dreading the taste but it turned out to be rather minty with a hint of cinnamon. Not really. It tasted absolutely revolting. I wish I had a mead chaser!)
“You are fading away. We will meet you at the barrier. Hopefully!”
(I suddenly found myself in a different body. Slowly my new surroundings came into focus. There were two priests discussing with me on what to do. I was in the middle of the orc attack!)
- Thorek: The orcs have breached the inner sanctum, Brother Veren.
- Veren: We must hold Brother Thorek. We can’t allow the Skull to fall into their hands.
- Thorek: But… no more than a handful of us remain, brother.
- Veren: Then we have no choice. The Miasma must be released.
- Thorek: The Miasma? But, brother…
- Veren: We have no alternative. It’s the will of Vaermina. And what about you, Brother Casimir? Are you prepared to serve the will of Vaermina?
- Casimir: I’ve made my peace. I’m ready.
- Veren: Then it’s decided. Brother Casimir, you must activate the barrier and release the Miasma. Let nothing stop you. Brother Thorek, we must remain here and guard this Skull with our lives if necessary.
- Thorek: Agreed. To the death.
- Veren: Then let it be done. Farewell, my brothers!
(I looked at my hands. It appears I am a Dunmer called Casimir. I do not have to follow the priest who turns on the Miasma. I am the priest who does so! I cautiously made my way past several skirmishes. I did not encounter any orcs without a combatant which made it easier. I felt the guilt and shame of not helping my fellow worshippers. Some of them looked aghast and some with hate when I did not rush to their aid. Some called out my name in anger. Some called my name with a pleading in their voice that broke my heart.)
(I arrived at a chain pull which Casimir knew would release the Miasma. He knew it was not the will of Vaermina that would release the Miasma. It was his mortal free will that decided to do it.)
(Casimir pulled the chain. A hissing sound surrounded him as the Miasma filed the building with its sleep magic.)
(Next to the chain pull was a soul gem which was powering the barrier.)
(On the other side of the barrier I could see Erandur waiting.)
(I picked up the soul gem and the barrier vanished. Meeko was suddenly there staring at me.)
What has upset you Meeko? Did I just disappear? I am sorry. I should have warned you.
(He wagged his tail to let me know the apology was accepted. I walked up to Erandur.)
“It… it worked. Mara be praised! You vanished after drinking the Torpor and materialized on the other side. I have never seen anything quite like it.”
It was remarkable… As if I was really there. I was a Dunmer by the name of Casimir. Did you know him?
(Erandur looked startled.)
“I knew him very well back then. He is the one who released the Miasma. The inner sanctum lies ahead. We must reach the Skull and put an end to Dawnstar’s troubles. Lead on.”
(We made our way to the inner sanctum killing several awakened priests and orcs as we did so.)
(We eventually came to the room housing the Skull.)
(As we approached two priests emerged. I recognised them as Vern and Thorek. They were the ones who sent Casimir to turn on the Miasma.)
- Erandur: Veren… Thorek… you’re alive!”
- Veren: No thanks to you, Casimir.
- Erandur: I no longer use that name. I’m Erandur, Priest of Mara.
- Veren: You’re a traitor. You left us to die and then ran before the Miasma took you.
- Erandur: No. I… I was scared. I wasn’t ready to sleep.
- Veren: Enough of your lies! I can’t allow you to destroy the Skull, Priest of Mara.
- Erandur: Then you leave me no choice!
(Erandur was Casimir and I was him when I used the torpor. We all attacked his old brethren. Casimir was thrown back by a lightning strike from Veren.)
(I charged forward and decapitated Thorek. Lydia and Meeko soon dispatched Veren.)
(There was nobody and nothing between us and the skull except an orange energy shield.)
Erandur approached me.
“I… knew Veren and Thorek. They were my friends. Is this punishment for my past? Is it Mara’s will to torment me so?”
The Divine do not work that way. You have free will and a conscience. You decide your crimes and what punishments you must endure before redemption. Your guilt has been a mighty punishment.
“You are right and I do my God a disservice.”
Your friends had to die if we are to help the people of Dawnstar. We did the right thing. They would have continued Vaermina’s evil and used the Skull to inflict even more misery.
“It is time. The skull must be destroyed. Now I will see if my God still favours me. Please stand back and I will perform a ritual granted to me by Lady Mara.”
(We stood back and Erandur started with a prayer.)
“I call upon you, Lady Mara! The Skull hungers. It yearns for memories and leaves nightmares in its wake. Grant me the power to break through this barrier and to send the Skull to the depths of Oblivion!”
(The barrier dissipated and Erandur continued with the ritual. Then Vaermina spoke to me. As I felt her presence in my head I closed off parts of me to her probing and overpowering presence. She could do me no harm nor learn my secrets. She spoke.)
“He is deceiving you. When the ritual is complete the skull will not be destroyed. It will be free of my control and he will use it and turn on you. Quickly! Kill him now. Kill him and claim the Skull for your own! Vaermina commands you!”
(Suddenly an energy started emanating from Erandur. I instantly recognised the power of a Divine. Not a Daedra. An Aedra. A real Divine and one of The Nine. I addressed the filth still present in my head.)
Once again a Daedric Lord thinks they can command me to do something. What is more insulting this time is the prize. Hermaeus Mora offered me far more. I could have become a follower of Molag Bal and destroyed Akatosh’s power on Nirn. Not to mention the despised God Malacath offered me paradise. Can you feel the real power ripping away yours? How Lady Mara is infinitely stronger than you. Get out of my head. You have no power over me. I am the Champion of The Divine and of my own free will I reject your pathetic offer.
(The presence in my head vanished and a split second later the Skull did as well. Erandur looked at me.)
“Forgive me if I don’t appear relieved… this temple has taken its toll on me. I do not know what to do from here.”
I suggest you make you way to Dawnstar and tell the Jarl that his citizens should now be free of the nightmares. Tell him how you worked with the Dragonborn to do so. You do not have to mention your past but accept any praise given as it is deserved. After that I think you should travel to Riften and stay in the Temple of Mara for a while. We both know Dinya. She will help you admit the absolute truth. You have redeemed yourself in the eyes of Lady Mara!
“I will do those things. May Lady Mara bless you all!”
We let Erandur leave by himself. He was deep in thought and I wanted to sit and have a drink and some trail rations. We would be heading for Dragons Keep when we left the temple.
A while later we made our way out of the temple. We walked to Dawnstar, collected our horses and rode to Dragons Keep without incident.
We were just in time for me to participate in one of my favourite and most enjoyable pastimes. I quickly had a quick wash and donned some fine clothes I purchased a while ago.
I had a good sized audience for my reading of several popular children’s books. My bardic skill helped with the dramatization and different voices of the characters. It was rewarding to hear them laugh at the funny parts, gasp at the scary parts and cry at the sad parts. The greatest reward and one of the most precious in the world is this. I got to see children who have survived the foulest evil and cruellest captives come alive and enjoy the precious gift that is life. They remind me of Rigmor. She has endured so much but stills sees the beauty of this world and its people.
After it was way past their allotted bedtime and after giving in to three lots of pleading and therefore reading three extra books the children finally shuffled off.
I went to my private chambers and wrote this journal entry.
I know not what time I fell asleep.