Midwood Island, Lastendell: Dagon’s deserter.
We were sitting having a good chat when Nafalilargus appeared from the ether just above our heads.
Tyrek looked up, yelped and fell backward off the log he was sitting on. He slowly got up then the bell rang, the ladder dropped down and he yelped again.
“You want to come aboard and have a look Tyrek?”
“Ask me later, maybe ten years from now.”
“Wait here then. I will only be a couple of minutes.”
I went into the cabin and the only person I saw was J’Zargo.
“Can’t stay and chat. Got a God to hunt and kill. Just grabbing some armour for a friend.”
“It is just another boring day then?”
“Yeah, I wish I could do something interesting for a change.”
I went to the armoury and grabbed a pristine set of gilded elvish armour and my replica of Rigmor’s sword. The one the Thalmor had made when trying to learn how to use the black diamonds. I had honed it and placed extra dweomers on it.
I rushed back outside, down the ladder and handed the bundle to Tyrek.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“Some half decent armour, which is yours to keep, and one of the best swords I own. That is worth more than this kingdom. I expect it back after we win so don’t get sucked into Oblivion or get disintegrated or other nasty thing that might hurt it.”
“So it is okay if I die horribly as long as the sword is not hurt?”
“You got it. Now find somewhere to get changed and hurry. We need to get moving.”
About ten minutes later he came swaggering up with a grin ear to ear and we set off for the fort.
We arrived at Fort Boltan and approached a bandit mage who asked, “Who are you? What do you want?”
Tyrek went to say something and I shook my head.
“If you can’t tell by the fancy armour then how did you tie your laces this morning?”
Iona whispered to Tyrek, “He has a certain flair for negotiation don’t you think?”
“Okay Emperor, what do you want?”
“I want to cut your head off but I promised King Lokan I would make you a deal.”
“This will be interesting. What has silk britches got to offer?”
“If you tell us all you know about Zahkris, Drakus and Untath you will be given a pardon and a reward. If you don’t then I get to cut your head off and slaughter everybody inside. Please don’t accept.”
“You have courage I must admit and it is a good deal.”
“There is no courage in facing slime like you. Get on with the refusal.”
“Money and the King’s respect is not what we want. We want to serve Zahkris. If we die then we will join Zahkris and be resurrected by him. But if we kill you, who is destined to challenge him, then he will immortalise us for eternity when he takes control of Nirn.”
I stepped up, drew “The Sword” and decapitated him.
The Sentinel slaughtered the half dozen Worshippers who initially stood, like Tyrek, staring with their mouths wide open as the mage’s head landed with a thump with the torso slowly following.
When all were dead I wiped my sword on the mages cloak and said to Tyrek, “That is a nice sword. You should really try using it.”
Iona added, “Told you he has a certain flair for negotiation.”
“If you are wondering Tyrek he would have next told me how they were going to kill us all and how mighty Zahkris is and other banalities that we have heard over and over. Do not be surprised if Drakus or Untath are in here. Care to wager a bet they say, ‘Surprise’ and make equally banal boasts.”
We entered with drawn weapons.
We waded through dozens of Worshippers and Tyrek finally got to contribute to the kill count.
Eventually we entered a chamber where Untath waited for us.
He started the banality immediately with, “And here you are, just as planned.”
“And here you are, just as stupid as the dozens we just slaughtered and soon to be just as dead.”
“I was going to use the warrior’s body after my worshippers failed to take yours.”
“Jordis, kill the Worshipper to my right.”
She stepped up and cut him in two.
Untath faltered and I hand signalled Lydia.
She disembowelled a Worshipper to my left.
Untath tried to say something. I plunged “The Sword” into his centre and the remaining Worshippers lasted a few heartbeats longer.
There was nothing useful on any of the corpses except for a key to the door at the back of the room.
“Let’s go tell the King his master plan failed.”
Tyrek piped up, “Did you see? I got my sword out of the scabbard before they were all dead. All cheer for me! Hurrah!”
The back door of the room led to the entrance hallway. We were soon outside.
It was about 6:00AM when we arrived back at the longhouse. The guard said the King and Queen were waiting for us so we entered.
They went to stand up and I waved them back down.
“No need for that. As I guessed they had already gone over to Zahkris so we killed them all including Untath who was pathetically weak. Did Falas have any luck with his research?”
King Lokan replied, “Umm…I think so. You seem almost bored?”
“I am and terribly so. These are just thugs who have been convinced they stand a chance. Any of The Sentinel could have wiped out the whole lot of them. I have to wade through the blood and guts of these fools when I came here to end Zahkris. Eventually he will run out of them. Eventually he will have to face me.”
I bowed and went to speak to Falas.
When I entered his room he hastily stepped away from the Enchanting Table and faced me. I asked him, “Do you have anything useful for me?”
“What do you know about the last time Zahkris was here?”
“Vorir used a Shout called ‘Steal Soul Essence’ as taught to him by Lord Erkaloth. Either his Thu’um was not strong enough or he did not use a full three Word Shout. Zahkris was only weakened, not killed. That is why I am here instead of my favourite Bruma inn.”
“How did you know that? It had taken me hours and I didn’t even know the name of the Shout.”
“A huge library, two excellent Advisors and many knowledgeable librarians helped.”
“Do you know the Words of the shout?”
“No but Vorir was not a Dragonborn. He must have learnt the Words of Power from Word Walls but even then he would have to study them for a long time. Erkaloth might have warned him years before Zahkris appeared so he could learn the meaning of the Words. Not the literal meaning but knowledge that unlocks them for use in a Shout.”
“That is not the sequence as described?”
“It happens all the time. Historical events are presented with a simplified timeline so it is easier for people to remember. It also prevents awkward questions.”
“What kind of awkward questions?”
“Did Vorir know of the impeding slaughter years before and did not warn anybody? Or did he just accept the command of his God to study the Words of Power?”
“I understand. Vorir learned two Words of Power from Word Walls in Waterstone Cave. It is on the road to Lundene and to the best of my knowledge, nobody has entered since the time of Vorir and ever been seen again.”
“It is probably home to generations of Worshippers. I would not be surprised to find Drakus there.”
“I do not know much about the Thu’um or how all of this works.
“Just remember there is a big difference between those who can use the Thu’um and a Dragonborn. Vorir was not Dragonborn so could not learn the Shout just by learning the Words of Power whilst I can as long as I know what the Shout is supposed to do. Erkaloth allowed Vorir into Lastendell to teach him the Shout by speaking and describing what it does. I will go learn the first two words and perhaps when I return we might have an idea where the third is.”
“I will continue to read what dusty tombs I can find.”
“You have done very well Falas. If I am victorious be proud of the part you played in saving many lives.”
There were no encounters on the way to the cave.
As usual we entered with weapons at the ready.
Once inside we heard the unmistakable sounds of Dwemer automatons. I asked Tyrek, “Have you ever seen the Dwemer machines?”
“I thought they were stories to scare children into doing their chores.”
“Well, you will soon meet some and quite often where they are the Falmer lurk.”
“Never seen them either but they are flesh and blood aren’t they? That is less terrifying than soulless metal men.”
We had to hack our way through bears…
We reached the first Word Wall and I learned the Word of Power ‘Life’.
An apparition appeared and I knew immediately who it was. I approached and he said, “Greetings Stormcrown. You have done well to reach this stage.”
I bowed low and replied, “Well met Lord Erkaloth. You look remarkably like the statues of Shor that cover the landscape of Sovngarde.”
“Is that how you figured out who I am?”
“Logically, who else is going to appear here and now? Plus I can sense Gods and their Avatars if I have encountered them before. I know your father’s presence from Sovngarde and feel it in you. The amulet I wear also has the presence of your father plus Saint Alessia and Lord Akatosh and they give me comfort.”
“In turn I can sense on you an item of your father’s.”
“Yes, a coin he gave to aid in my travels.”
“Do you know why I am here?”
“To gift me the knowledge of the Word as I have no stored souls with which to unlock it. Otherwise I would need to hunt a Dovah which is not ideal.”
“Yes. Let me do so now.”
It has been several years since I absorbed knowledge like this. It is truly remarkable how much I instantly knew about one Word of Power.
He warned, “Beware of the danger at the next Word Wall.”
When the apparition vanished Tyrek immediately asked, “Was that who I think it was?”
“It was an aspect, a projection, of Lord Erkaloth who is an Avatar of Lorkhan or Shor as we call him. Daedric Princes can’t manifest on the mortal plane because of the barrier and neither can other Gods. Sometimes The Divines create mortal Avatars and they do appear on this plane such as Wulfharth and a lady I knew called Allie.”
“Why did he call you Stormcrown?”
“It was a name the mortal Avatar of Shor, Wulfharth, was given as well as my father. It comes from a shout created by Shor and given to Wulfharth. It is one of the names given to me by the Greybeards to denote my Divine Right to the Ruby Throne. Interestingly it is a shout I do not know!”
“This is way too confusing for me.”
“What were you taught about Lord Erkaloth?”
“He was created by Lorkhan. In turn he created my people, the Sonmer.”
“Were you not supposed to be created in his likeness?”
“That is what we are taught.”
“Did he look like a Sonmer to you?”
“No, he had a great big nose and real bushy beard and those weird round eyes you men have got.”
“So perhaps ‘created in his likeness’ means something different? It would be a good thing for you to think on that and learn from it.”
“If you say so but right now it is enough to give me a headache.”
“The warning he gave about the second word wall. I think we will finally get to meet and kill Drakus.”
We had to fight more Automatons, Falmer and just for variety, giant spiders.
Upon entering a large cavern that contained the second Word Wall we noticed there were several Dremora Lords standing on guard.
I walked right up to one. Tyrek exclaimed, “What the fuck are those?”
“You asked the same question when we encountered the giant spiders! They are Dremora Lords. Used by Mehrunes Dagon, Hermaeus Mora and to a lesser extent Molag Bal as soldiers. Mages can also summon them. I often have two fighting by my side. I think Zahkris is just a more powerful one of them with excellent necromancy knowledge.”
As I expected Drakus made an appearance. I told The Sentinel and Tyrek to stand back. I wanted the pleasure of cutting this one down solo so he understood how much he was outclassed before The Void became his home.
“Surprised? Hah! Lord Zahkris told me the location of this Word Wall. He knew you’d be looking for it.”
“No, I am not surprised as the infinitely more powerful and wise Lord Erkaloth warned me you would be here. You work for a thing that has fooled you into believing it is a God. Next you are going to tell me how you are going to kill me. What a complete and utter moron you are!”
“You will never get a chance to…”
I stepped forward, cut him down then took care of two Dremora Lords. The Sentinel and Tyrek cut down four more.
I growled, “He stood before me in an a robe with an average sword and far inferior mage abilities. Yet he thought he could somehow beat me? I am tired of this farce!”
The Word Wall taught me the Word of Power ‘Spirit’.
I searched Drakus and he had nothing of interest on him.
Lord Erkaloth appeared and I said to him, “These followers of Zahkris have proven to be very weak both in mind and body.”
“That may be so but Zahkris is another matter. Time is very short and he has almost dominated the soul of Velkir and entered his body.”
“But he maintains his own soul as well. So I assume I have to use the Shout twice. First time removes the soul of Velkir. Second time removes his soul.”
“Yes, that is what you must do. Now I will teach you the meaning of the second Word. Then you must move quickly.”
I absorbed his knowledge of the Word of Power.
Lord Erkaloth instructed me further, “Meet me at my shrine. From there you can reach Lastendell.”
“I assume I will learn the third Word and if need be teach me the Shout?”
“Yes. I have kept the third Word locked in my realm so the complete Shout cannot be given to those I do not trust.”
“I will see you there as soon as I can Lord Erkaloth.”
I bowed and he vanished.
We made our way out of the caves. Tyrek told us the shrine was on the road between Florin and Alverton so that is where we headed.
It was no surprise to find Worshippers there.
We soon dispatched them.
Lydia walked up to the shrine and exclaimed, “You are right Wulf. That is the same face as the statues of Shor in Sovngarde. You often see smaller ones dotted around Skyrim.”
“Yes but it is differs enough to signify it is a different entity. The birds denote Kyne I think.”
Lord Erkaloth materialised and spoke, “Thank you for clearing those worms from my shrine. They did not do much damage but have somehow extinguished the seven eternal flames. Only you can reignite them and must do so before the statue can act as a portal to Lastendell.”
I approached the first one.
When I touched it the flame relit.
I asked Celestine to try and nothing happened. I asked her to use magicka and nothing happened. Neither of us could detect a dweomer on them.
After I lit all seven I asked Lord Erkaloth, “Who lit these when the shrine was first consecrated?”
“You know him. You recently defeated his angry spirit in battle.”
“So I am not the first Stormcrown to visit here. That makes sense as much as anything else to do with The Divine does.”
“They do feel sorrow that some knowledge is often frustrating to those who wish to know more. But no mortal, no matter how powerful, can understand all the forces that allow Nirn and Mundus to exist where there should be nothing.”
“So I suppose it is no use asking you what it means when I am named ‘One of Seven.’”
“That is not my knowledge to impart.”
“What do you require me to do next?”
“Wait, I can sense a dweomer blocking the portal. See the braziers are extinguished once more! I will try and locate its source.”
Lord Erkaloth was silent for a few seconds then announced, “It is emanating from an islet to the north-west called Gold Rock Island.”
Tyrek excitedly exclaimed, “I know the place! Velkir and I used to go there when children and try and find small pieces of gold. Such memories are worth more than any gold.”
Lydia said to Tyrek, “My Emperor has no such memories. They were taken away by The Divines. He would agree they are worth more than any gold. Velkir died but he is still with you as long as you hold onto those memories.”
I said to Lord Erkaloth, “Tyrek will show us the way and we shall remove the block then return.”
Tyrek had been thinking on what Lydia said and his mood was foul. He stepped up to the God of his people and demanded, “Why are you relying on the Emperor to do this? You know the Words of Power and the Shout. You are a God and must be more powerful than a mortal. Why don’t you challenge Zahkris and save your people?”
Lord Erkaloth replied, “I do believe you know that answer. Think on the purpose of the concordat between Saint Alessia and Lord Akatosh. Think on the purpose of the Dragonfires and the amulet around Wulf’s neck. Think on what happened when Mehrunes Dagon extinguished the Dragonfires by having who he thought was the last Septim assassinated. Think on why Martin Septim had to sacrifice himself. If we could do as you suggested we would not need mortals like Wulf and many before him. Your anger is misdirected. Use it against your enemies of which I am not.”
He vanished and I spoke to Tyrek, “Saint Alessia was tired of the devastation Gods were wreaking upon the mortal plane and thus the barrier was created. It stops all Gods from entering this plane. You know this but like many, including myself, you sometimes forget in your rage or mourning what you owe the Gods. Most of who have walked my path became nameless heroes in the histories and myths. They sacrificed all because they knew the price we have to pay to keep the Daedric Princes from Nirn. Just remember that nothing you have ever loved or enjoyed would have existed if not for the supreme sacrifices of these Gods. The sacrifices of me and those before me are insignificant in comparison!”
Lydia held my hands and unnecessarily apologised, “Sorry Wulf. I only wanted to emphasise how precious the memories of his friend were. I did not know it would lead to anger and pain.”
“You did exactly the right thing and were speaking from bitter experience after the loss of your beloved. There is zero to apologise for.”
Tyrek said cheerfully, “Now I have removed my foot from my mouth we should make our way to the island. It is north-west of Lundene and not far off the coast. It is quite the hike from here.”
“Lead on Tyrek. And I am sure Lord Erkaloth will not seek any Divine revenge for your blasphemy. But just in case stay inside at the slightest hint of lightening in the air.”
With laughter we set out on the long walk.
Apart from a few suicidal bandits, wolves, Spriggan and bears the walk to the islet was uneventful. There is no denying Midwood Island is pretty but my heart is drawn to the area around Allie’s hut on Roscrea. If ever we get to have a farm where Rigmor can sit on the veranda watching me work then that will be the place.
It was just after 10:00PM when Tyrek said, “Just through these trees we should be able to see the Island.”
We crouched and made our way to the beach. I could see three Worshippers maintain some sort of dweomer.
We move further around to get a clearer view. There was a brazier with a burnt sacrifice in the middle. Other burnt bodies could be seen on a table and in the general vicinity. There was no sign of life apart from the Worshippers. I took off Ragnar’s ring and put on one I created years ago called the ‘Masters Ring’.
I then sent several fireballs swiftly towards the Worshippers.
They exploded and the Worshippers screamed as they flailed around burning to death. My Dovah clapped his approval in the back of my mind.
“They’re dead. Let us see what they were up to.”
As we walked towards the islet I put Ragnar’s ring back on and Tyrek asked about it.
“This ring was given by High Queen Rigmor as my wedding band. It belonged to her father Ragnar who was a hero and leader of men during the Great War and after when he helped the Redguards throw the Aldmeri Dominion out of Hammerfell. There is a long and tragic tale about my Queen’s family that is in my journals if you which to know more. The ring I put on temporarily is one I created a few years ago. It greatly amplifies the effects and duration of most spells. You will see Christine wears one identical. I have made many over the years to give to other mages. They are carved from dragonbone.”
Christine asked, “You have still not been able to place a dweomer on Ragnar’s ring?”
“No, I have a feeling there is already a Daedric dweomer on it. I will have to ask Valerica, Serana’s mother, next time I visit my cobwebbed castle. I still intend to turn that place into another orphanage.”
“Yes, I suppose a Vampire Lord could tell you the Daedric dweomer if there is one.”
Tyrek gasped, “Vampire Lord?”
“It is a long story Tyrek. A very long story in fact.”
There was gold all over the little island. Obviously that was not well known outside of Midwood!
I asked Tyrek, “I assume this gold is not of the quality in the main mine?”
“It is still better than most on Nirn but not of that dug from the mine. Nobody really knows how much there is under here.”
The three Worshippers were dead.
Several burnt corpses were on a table with the familiar markings.
One corpse was in the middle of a brazier similar in design but larger than those surrounding the shrine of Lord Erkaloth.
“This is how they extinguished the braziers. Theoretically if I touch this one…”
“…that happens. Let us hurry back to the shrine.”
Since we retraced the steps that took us to the islet all the hostiles were already dead! So we made better time returning than going.
To my surprise Lord Erkaloth was in a more solid form. I remarked, “Not only are you of more substance, you look a lot more like Sonmer.”
“It takes a lot more effort to appear as substantial. This is for Tyrek’s education.”
Tyrek approached and bowed his head.
Erkaloth commanded, “Look at me and then look at my statue!”
Tyrek did so then asked, “Why do you no longer look like a man and more like a mer?”
“Didn’t Wulf suggest you question the words, ‘made in his image’?”
“Much strife is caused on Nirn as man and mer hate and kill based on ancient enmities formed in the early days after the Convention. It does not matter if you do not know what that is. What is important is that you realise our true form does not resemble man, mer, Khajiit, Argonian, Dov or any other sentient race. ‘Made in his image’ or ‘created in their image’ and the numerous variations mean one thing. Your spirit and your abilities mirror your creators, not what you look like. Mortals have the capacity to love and a sense of empathy the majority of Dark Lord’s will never possess. There is a single exception and that God demonstrated such traits to her own creator at the beginning of time. This pleased her creator who gave her the ability to mould existing souls into a different race, the Khajiit. But she had to convert souls. She could not just create a new race. Creation is the sole domain of other forms of God including those called The Divines. The Daedric Princes are slaves to what their basic nature is. They lack the absolute free will of Gods like I possess. Because mortals are built in our image, they possess this absolute free will. Understand?”
Tyrek was looking his God in the eyes when he replied, “Yes. But why tell me this now?”
“There is an evil coming that can only be beaten if mortals do not blame Gods for all their woes. That is what the Daedric Princes want. That is what all evil wants. Beings like Zahkris only gain power by convincing mortals that their Gods are cruel and they have a better solution. By appealing to the need for revenge and other base instincts they gain their converts. You are a good man Tyrek. Do not let the death of your friend turn you bitter and away from the Gods who love you. Others who have lost family and friends and lovers all over Midwood need to understand this message. Talk to them. Put into your own words what I have said. If the upcoming evil visits this land then faith will be a better defence than any army.”
Tyrek replied, “I am but a simple soldier for hire but I can try and console and talk to the others who feel the loss. Who knows, with practice I might sound convincing.”
His God nodded and Tyrek arose with more of an understanding of what we are.
Lord Erkaloth turned to me and said, “Relight the braziers and we can begin to end this evil that plagues my people.”
I did so and he said, “The altar can now be used but only you can safely travel inside Lastendell. Can you remember what happened the longer you stayed in Sovngarde?”
“Yes, Lydia and I could feel our souls becoming part of Sovngarde and less of the mortal plane.”
“The same thing will happen but your soul is now far more anchored in the mortal realm. Life has become far more desirable than the peace of death. To put it simply, you have more to live for now than then. This means you can spend more time in my realm but it is still a place for the dead and not the living.”
Earlier in the day Erkaloth was full or urgency and encouraging us to hurry. Now he was not and that meant only one thing. We were too late to prevent Zahkris possessing Velkir completely. I would have to fight what looks like Tyrek’s friend. I had not thought of it before but that also means Councillor Algal’s men had not recovered the body. It appears Worshippers got to it first. Tyrek would not handle the news well so I kept it quiet.
Lord Erkaloth smiled and said, “It is not too late Wulf. Just remember to use the shout twice.”
“What is the difference in the passage of time in Lastendell?”
“It varies at my whim. Currently it is much faster there but you can afford to take your time. Do not rush.”
“Where do I go once there?”
“Once you arrive, head for the Great Halls. Any soul you see can point the way. I will meet you there. Farewell for now Stormcrown.”
Lord Erkaloth vanished and Tyrek approached.
“Well Emperor, this looks like a good time to say goodbye, for now at least. I know I have no chance of harming Zahkris, so I will head to Alverton and await your return. Or Zahkris’ I suppose.”
He went to hand me back the sword I lent him and I refused to take it, “No. It is yours. It really has no sentimental value and I am stinking rich and have swords I don’t even know I have. Take heed of what your God told you. There is an evil coming and hopefully it bypasses this land. Faith will be important to defeat it but so will good men wielding good swords.”
“I will not sell it I give my word. Money does no good if a bad guy cuts your head off. I would rather lop his off and be poor.”
“Good philosophy. You will soon know if I am victorious so if I do not get a chance to visit Alverton before heading home then know you have proven yourself brave and skilful. But you can also help with words like your God suggested.”
Tyrek walked away whistling and seemed at ease with the world.
Lydia was staring at me. She knew what was coming next.
I faced The Sentinel, “I want you all to return to Florin. Lydia, at about six in the morning you are to inform the District Mage I am getting the third Word of Power from Lord Erkaloth in Lastendell. Inform the King and Queen I will report to them as soon after my confrontation with Zahkris as I can.”
Lydia erupted, “Why face him alone? You do not even know what he is!”
“That is why! What if all my speculation is wrong and he is some unknown God or Daedric Prince? I could ask Lord Erkaloth but doubt he even knows as he is yet to volunteer that information. He can sense where he is but not what he is. So what if such a being has found a way to manifest on Nirn? I will not know until he is as close as you are now. Then if he is one of those things and I die then so do all of you! He will swat you out of the way to get to me. You would not be able to help me.
That was the scenario when I faced Molag Bal. Even Rigmor did not argue, much, as she saw the sense.
If I die, now or at any time in the future, Rigmor and Kintyra will need you. There will always be hope while those two live.
So this is an order.”
I stared at each and they reluctantly nodded.
It was 2:00AM
I looked up to the heavens and said out loud, “I do have far more to live for than ever before.”
I placed my hands on the altar and was instantly transported to Lastendell.
My first thought was Mehrunes Dagon went overboard with the red in the Deadlands but Erkaloth has gone way too far with the blue.
There was a warrior sitting on a bench. I asked her, “Where are the three halls?”
She replied, “A cup Stormcrown to death and glory! Seek thee food or song unending? Fighting, drinking, fellowship and boasting? Find welcome there and warm your soul”
She pointed and I followed the direction indicated.
As I walked I knew this place was going to be a test of my patience. It was going to be full of fuckwits who believe in the glory of battle. What would Sonmer know about battle or war?
I found the three halls.
When I approached a warrior came to greet me.
“Welcome Emperor! I am Vorir and this is Lastendell, a haven for all good Sun Elves. The souls of those with achievement in their previous lives are passed straight on to here. It is new that one of the living had entered here.”
“Greetings Vorir, I am here to learn to the last Word of Power and meet with Lord Erkaloth.”
“Just inside that trapdoor you will find both. We all wish you the best. You are our people’s only hope against that monster.”
I entered and approached the Word Wall. From it I learnt the third Word of Power, ‘Defeat’.
Lord Erkaloth said, “You have the final Word. Let me give you my knowledge of that Word.”
And I instantly knew all I need to use it in a Shout.
“You know what the shout is meant to do so I do not need to teach you it. Let me ask you, do you feel ready to face Zahkris?”
“I think we are both ignorant of exactly what he is. So I will confront him with the caution demanded of the unknown. There are many opponents that can challenge me. I know that there are very few that can beat me if I am careful.”
“Good. You have a fine balance between confidence and caution.”
“Where will I find him?”
“He is at the ruins of Fort Kyrin far to the north-east. As you surmised earlier he has overpowered the soul of Velkir and taken over his body. Use the shout twice.”
“Will Velkir be free to enter Lastendell?”
“It would take some time to make his soul corrupted beyond redemption. A few hours should not do any harm.”
“Then I will go immediately.”
“Know that I, that all of us, have faith in you Emperor. As a parting gift I give you this staff. May it serve you well in your future endeavours.”
I took the staff and it had an extremely powerful fire dweomer on it.
Then I bowed and left for the shrine.
I touched the altar and found myself back on Midwood Island.
It was about 9:30AM. I was not expecting it to be so late in the morning.
It was even further to Fort Kyrin than to Gold Rock Island. I had no encounters to slow me down.
It was very overcast when I arrived. I knew I had the right place when I saw four unfortunates hanging from a rafter at the front entrance.
Zahkris seemed to be doing some incantation over a sacrificial table.
I walked into the centre. He turned and approached.
“And so we meet at last Emperor. You have made quite the impression.”
He stood in front of me and I smiled. He was just a Dremora with illusions of grandeur.
He continued, “We both know what must happen now. It is destined after all.”
“Did you know Predathor? He too thought he was stronger than me. I had to kill him twice.”
Zahkris hesitated then said, “You are here in your full power and yet it is not enough.”
“Did you hide like a coward as well after my Lord sent yours back to the Deadlands minus his balls?”
“Fool, you will die, and using your power, body and soul I will raze Midwood Isle to the ground, and from its ashes will bear forth a new age. My age.”
“I have faced real Gods. Five times your height! You are a nothing and will die as quickly as your pathetic worshippers.”
“I will make a world free of corruption, free of laws and the weak men and mer who decide them, where power is unquestioned and chaos rules.”
“Did you just say you will get rid of laws and at the same time have no corruption? That is one of the most idiotic things I have ever heard.”
“But there is another course. I have seen it. I know the dragonblood in you craves power, dominance. Do not try and hide it.”
I invited my Dovah to take over.
“You total fucking moron. I exist as his soul, not his blood. And what I crave is what my father Lord Akatosh craves. A Nirn and Mundus free of things like you.”
“I have heard this before and you bore me. Why would I join you? I hate pets!”
“Then bear witness to the start of my conquest! Behold true power as I bring ruin unto this world!”
He cast some circle of fire spell that burnt a few trees and lit the place up but was pathetic.
He then stood there as if I was supposed to be impressed.
So I hit him with the Steal Soul Essence Shout.
Blood spattered. He twisted around presenting his back to me.
I plunged ‘The Sword” into his back.
Velkir’s body collapsed as his soul was released.
The soul of Velkir arose, said a silent ‘thank you’ then faded into Lastendell.
Zahkris’ corporeal body started to manifest itself.
He stood before me and continued his delusion, “Fool! You cannot defy a God! My soul is immortal and you don’t stand a chance! I shall destroy you!”
“That is the best bit. Your soul is immortal and the things the Overseer was planning for Predathor made The Void sound like paradise. I would hate to think what Lord Dagon will do.”
I hit him with the Shout again and he gasped.
He started begging as Lord Dagon dragged him back to the Deadlands.
“No…no my Lord. I did it all for you. Believe me…”
An eternity of torture began.
The last the mortal plane heard of Zahkris was a piercing scream of terror and pain.
I sheathed my sword and sighed. I closed my eyes and could see the image of the screaming Zahkris on the back of my eyelids but that soon faded away.
I opened them to find Lord Erkaloth studying me with a grin on his face.
“You suspected what he was didn’t you?”
“Yes but he must have had some powerful magicka to hide his identity from you and extinguish the braziers.”
“Those two feats among many others were impressive. His necromancy was advanced. I will have to study and see if I can make sense of it all.”
“He was delusional but I think his biggest motivation was not being found by Lord Dagon.”
“We do not know much of what happens in their realms. I think they are also blinded to ours. But you have an advantage there. You can travel their planes.”
“I saw you like a lot of blue. You would hate the Deadlands as it is all red.”
“Know that this deed has already echoed through Lastendell. The souls of all those Sonmer are drinking a toast in your name.”
“Did Velkir make it?”
“He is worthy and has been welcomed.”
“I will travel to Alverton and tell Tyrek.”
“I must say goodbye to you now but I ask one last boon. This kingdom has been isolated from the troubles of the world. The war you will fight may bypass this land but if it does not they are ill prepared. The King and Queen may be reluctant to ask for your advice after doing this deed. I ask you to start the talks and see how they can be helped.”
“On my long walks around this island I have been thinking of the scenarios that may cause Midwood to become a target. I thought of a very probable one that made me think such talks are required. I shall broach the subject with them this afternoon.”
The God vanished and so did the barrier to the entrance. It must have been placed there by Zahkris and I never noticed.
When I arrived at the Florin docks the first to come down the ladder to greet me was not a Sentinel but Morgan. She pounced on me and squeezed me tight then stood in front with a grin on her face.
“I thought I heard snoring when I boarded last night.”
“I do not snore!”
“Then why did the other children sleep with pillows over their heads?”
“Because Jo’zaka would make a conjured feather tickle their nose or ears or if their feet stuck out, those as well.”
“So the cat is a cat. He is an Alfiq and the smallest of the Khajiit. You know they are my favourite people.”
“He helps me with my magic studies. He is very clever at illusion and conjuration.”
“And you are a Master Mage of Destruction! I am so very proud of you.”
“I will be Master of the other Schools too. I volunteered to help look after Rigmor before I knew you had this airship. Now I get to take turns flying on it. J’Zargo says he will teach me how it works.”
“I am so glad to see you Morgan but I have to talk to The Sentinel and then the King and Queen.”
“Okay. I promised to help clean up the cushions Jo’zaka swears called him rude names. He tore them to shreds defending his honour.”
She swiftly climbed the ladder and The Sentinel bombarded me with questions. I put my hand up and they all stopped to listen. That is a power I learnt from Rigmor.
“One thrust with the sword and two shouts and he was back in the loving arms of Mehrunes Dagon.”
Lydia asked, “So he was a deserter after the Oblivion Crises ended?”
“I am pretty sure he was. Brilliant but delusional and his ambitions of conquest were pure fantasy. With a whole lot of luck he may have won Midwood but he had nothing but party tricks. He would have got no further. Can we talk about this later please? I am going to have a chat with the King and Queen at their God’s request. I may be there a few hours.”
I entered the longhouse and approached the royal couple.
- Wulf: Majesties, I have some good news.
- King Lokan: Emperor! We all heard thundering sounds. Tell me was it your battle with Zahkris? Is he defeated?
- Wulf: I do not want to sound like a braggart but it was hardly a battle. Two Shouts, one sword thrust and he was defeated. He will never bother your kingdom or Nirn ever again.
- King Lokan: Do not diminish your achievement as we cannot imagine what it would be like to battle and defeat such a foe. We give our heartfelt congratulations!
- Wulf: It is what I do Majesty. But I am glad the fear is gone for your people.
- Queen Elysia: The entire Midwood Isle owes you a great debt. You have saved us all and that is something we will never forget.
- King Lokan: May you always find a place in Midwood Isle. We are proud to call you our friend.
- Wulf: You are both very generous. May I recommend that Tyrek be officially recognised for his help in this matter? He showed great courage in the face of creatures and evil he had never encountered before.
- King Lokan: Of course. We shall arrange something.
- Wulf: You will be pleased to know that I released Velkir’s soul from the grip of Zahkris. He now resides in Lastendell.
- Queen Elysia: Oh, that is also great news!
- Wulf: There is another matter that Lord Erkaloth wishes me to discus with the both of you.
- King Lokan: Then it must be of concern to him. What is it?
- Wulf: He asked me if I think Midwood Isle is in danger during the Akaviri invasion.
- King Lokan: I have discussed this with my Advisor and others recently. They might use the Kingdom as a staging area.
- Wulf: If we were to prevent them getting a foothold in High Rock then logistically this island would be an ideal staging area.
- Queen Elysia: And we would be swept aside?
- Wulf: You would be food. These are not soldiers like the Imperial Legion. These are vampires and flesh eaters.
- Queen Elysia: What could we possibly do to protect our people from armies of such evil?
- Wulf: I propose we consider a Defence Pact between the Kingdom of Midwood and The Empire.
- King Lokan: That would not affect our sovereignty?
- Wulf: Not at all. You do not become a protectorate or in any way governed by The Empire.
- Queen Elysia: How exactly does it work?
- Wulf: We make an international declaration that states any military aggression on either one will be regarded as being on both. Therefore a military response will come from both.
- King Lokan: But The Empire is guaranteed to be fighting and that would force our hand. Even if it looks like the Akaviri will not attack us we would find ourselves at war.
- Wulf: You would not need to send us a single soldier. Saying you side with us is not going to suddenly make you a target. Only if this island becomes logistically or tactically valuable would they attack and any treaty with us would not be the cause.
- King Lokan: But could you respond in time? They could wipe out any defence we offer in a very short amount of time.
- Wulf: That is where we can help you prepare. I have seen some fine forts as I have travelled your kingdom. Left to bandits as you have seen less need for them as the centuries go by and nobody attacks you. Repair and improve those forts!
- King Lokan: We are wealthy but do not have such expertise.
- Wulf: We would not send over engineers in Imperial Uniforms but the same men as civilian contractors. Working besides your own people they could bring them to a state where great effort would be needed to overcome even a moderate garrison. You would only need a small number of men to maintain the forts and keep the bandits out. If invaded you can decide where to make your stand and that gives us time to come to your aid.
- Queen Elysia: Why make them look like civilians?
- Wulf: We do not want to give the impression these forts are intended for Imperial use. They must be seen as your forts.
- Queen Elysia: International politics are not our strong point.
- King Lokan: What about the cities? Do we let them walk into them?
- Wulf: I would recommend you make them walled all around. Such things are not my area of expertise but if there is one thing The Empire is not short of it is military engineers and strategists. Once again conveniently available as civilian contractors.
- King Lokan: I would certainly like to start such discussions now if that is convenient. We can retire to a more comfortable and secure room if you wish.
- Wulf: Of course. And if you wish to pursue the idea further we can get some more detailed plans and advice sent to you.
We retired to their meeting room for over four hours and I believe a working solution to protect these wonderful people can be created.
I returned to Nafalilargus then flew to Fort Kyrin to retrieve Velkir’s body.
We then flew to Alverton to speak to Tyrek.
I walked into the inn. He saw me and immediately approached, “You have won?”
“Yes Tyrek, he is now being tortured by his God for all eternity. He was a soldier of Mehrunes Dagon during the Oblivion Crises. Instead of returning to the Deadlands, Dagon’s realm in Oblivion, he deserted and tried to make himself a God.”
“So you were right? He was not a God.”
“He was pathetically weak once I used the Shout on him. I have faced many foes far stronger than he. I have fought a real God and he was over thirty foot tall and could have killed me in seconds.”
“They told me Velkir’s body was not there! Did they take it after we left?”
“Zahkris was using it. He took over Velkir’s soul. But do not despair as Lord Erkaloth assured me he now resides in Lastendell.”
“What about his body?”
“I have it upon the deck of my airship just outside the south gate. I went and retrieved it before coming here. Tell us where you want us to put him. I am afraid we will then have to leave as I miss my wife and she hates running The Empire without me.”
“It is easy to forget you are the Emperor. I thank you for bringing Velkir back home. There will be many who will wish to attend his burial.”
We placed Velkir’s body in a room of the Alverton longhouse where it was prepared for viewing.
We all said out final goodbyes to Tyrek and climbed back aboard Nafalilargus.
I flew over the ocean and anchored for the night. J’Zargo was instructed to ether to the Imperial Palace with warning at 6:00AM.
I tried to retire to my room but Morgan blocked the way with Jo’zaka beside her.
“Jo’zaka wants to know where Meeko is.”
“I thought they hate each other?”
“It is natural a cat that is not a cat should befriend a dog that is not a dog.”
“Oh, if he is not a dog what is he?”
Morgan was quiet as she talked to her small Khajiit friend telepathically.
She then said, “Jo’zaka cannot understand how you became Arch Mage. Meeko is obviously a Meeko.”
“Well unless Meeko can climb up and down the ladder he cannot fly with us.”
“Try him. He can. Goodnight Wulf.”
Shaking my head with amusement I entered my room.
This was a most unpleasant task. The Worshippers were weak but we had to cut so many down it became a very unpleasant chore.
I sat and wrote this journal entry then climbed into bed.
I know not what time I fell asleep.