Wyrmstooth Barrow, Dimfrost, Stonehollow: Pathetic.
As Lurius left Elmera filled us in on her scouting report.
“It is just a boring Nord ruin full of boring spiders, boring Draugr and boring cobwebs.”
That summed it up well!
There is no need for me to detail the monotonous hack and slash of room after room of the same boring enemies.
Many of the Draugr were of the type that could use a fairly good Relentless Force.
There were the inexplicable pools of lantern oil…
…which we used to burn our enemies. Boring!
Some steps with a locked gate…
…that needed us to solve a simple puzzle…
…and pull a chain. Boring!
Behind one door we could hear combat.
When we entered a large battle between bandits and Draugr was underway.
Arrows and spells from us made short work of both sides.
We came to a wooden portcullis…
…that we opened by placing a corpse on a pressure switch. Boring!
This led to another pitched battle.
I used Relentless Force to scatter the aggressors
Then a few fireballs finished them off.
All bar a very powerful Lich which refused to burn.
So I took care of it with lightening instead.
Our way was barred by a lock requiring a Dwemer Puzzle Door dragon claw. Since the bandits were somehow inside it is logical to assume there is another entrance to the barrow and that they had the dragon claw with them before encountering the Lich and friends.
We checked the dead first before checking the undead dead. We found it on the Lich. It appeared the bandits were trying to retrieve it.
I said to the crew, “Alberthor was constantly hiding this claw then having it stolen again. I think he is very senile in many respects.”
The claw worked and we found ourselves in rounded tunnels. That was an indication of much older Nordic ruins than we had been travelling through up to that point.
We had to use the claw on several occasions to proceed further.
We came upon another pressure switch.
It was surrounded by the best type of Thalmor. Dead ones! I placed one of them on top of the switch which opened a door.
Delphine asked, “What are Thalmor doing here?”
“They have been searching for Alberthor. Apparently he has some history with them and has been in hiding for quite some time. They are not just looking for him but something he knows the whereabouts of. They will not politely ask him where it is if they get their hands on him.”
“Is there anything else we need to know? You did not tell us what was in the journal you read.”
“Sorry about that. I have been too busy trying not to get bored to death.”
Delphine shook her head. A common reaction when I say fighting for my life room after room is boring.
“He is known by some other identity by the Thalmor. They are not looking for a doddering old wizard. I think that started as a disguise but the actor is now the role. He has also been using ‘volunteers’ to do his mind transfer experiments on. They were not always successful and great harm was done.”
Elmera boasted, “I would still have volunteered even if I knew that!”
The pressure pad opened a door to some Nordic crypts.
The Draugr were of the most powerful type and could use the Thu’um.
So it was best to take them out at range if possible.
The dragon claw opened another portcullis.
A corridor with dead Thalmor led to another entrance to the barrow. We exited and were temporarily blinded by the light.
There were many Oblivion Gates on this relatively small island. The interesting thing is most of the early population moved to Wyrmstooth to escape the Oblivion Crises on the mainland.
There were many Draugr wandering around.
We investigated a destroyed campsite.
I told the others, “This was caused by Alberthor. One of those Draugr running amok over there was under his control. He watched through its eyes as it attacked this campsite. He took great delight in the terror on his victims face.”
We re-entered the barrow and soon found a room with a Dwemer Puzzle Door.
A dead Argonian lay before it with a bloodied note by his side that read,
“It was a mistake to trust the Thalmor. For a time I had faith in them, faith in their ability to raise us from the filth of humanity. Sadly I was mistaken.
The combination for the puzzle door is Eagle-Whale-Snake but I’m not going back in. The room is full of Draugr and my injuries are much too severe for me to go on.
Stealing that claw for the marauders was a mistake and may whatever power the Thalmor seek in this wretched oubliette remain lost forever.”
I passed the note around. Shargam asked, “What is an oubliette?”
Delphine answered, “A room whose only entrance is on the ceiling.”
I remarked, “It is totally redundant to write down the combination. If you look under the Dragon Claw you can see the solution. These so called puzzle doors have the answer to the puzzle on the key itself. Pretty stupid don’t you agree?”
I set the symbols and inserted the claw.
As usual the puzzle reset itself and the door lowered with a rumble.
The room had a large trapdoor and many sarcophagi.
“There is the entrance to the oubliette. Obviously what is below must have more than one entrance. Vulthurkrah is not going to exit via that one! If you look to the far end you will see a lever. I guarantee a few steps towards it will result in many Draugr attacking. So get ready!”
A few steps in and on queue the Draugr attacked. This barrow has been one cliché after another.
Near the lever a Dragon Priest attacked me. I soon cut him down.
As the battle raged I noticed Alberthor watching from the doorway. He offered no aid and I can’t help but wonder at his timing. We had obviously found the way into Dimfrost.
After the battle I absorbed a Word of Power from a Word Wall. It was the first Word, Mirror, in a new Shout called Phantom Form. It will allow me to project a decoy of myself to fool any enemies. Not only useful but a lot of fun if I deploy the decoy, make myself invisible and wait for the enemy to start thinking they have won the fight before hacking into them.
I pulled the lever and the gate over the pit sprung open.
Alberthor approached and said, “All this walking around is dreadfully bothersome on my knees but I figure out it was about time I caught up with you.”
“You managed to avoid all the fighting and arrive just in time to enter Dimfrost with us. I am sure that is just a coincidence.”
I stared down into the pit and detected a familiar dweomer.
“We don’t have to fall all the way. There is a feather-fall dweomer active. Like the lifts some Telvanni mages like to use. I don’t know how far it operates and the only way to tell is to try it.”
I stepped into the middle and started to drift down.
I was slowly approaching the end of the vertical tunnel and below was a body of water.
As soon as I exited the tunnel I went into free fall.
I landed heavily in the water and plunged deep.
I swam ashore and waited for the others to take the plunge. Some did it screaming. Some did it laughing. Rigmor would have definitely been laughing.
There were a few dead Thalmor along the banks.
A Falmer came waddling up, walked down a few steps and squatted there. I was considering cutting it in half when it spoke.
“Put the sword away. I would hate to die looking like this.”
“You could have told me your plan. They help avoid accidental decapitations and disembowelments.”
“It wasn’t my plan at first but then I thought the last bit of the way down might break a few things. So here I am and this is more unpleasant than I thought it would be. Can you hear me correctly? Falmer are such a bother to work with.”
“Yes, I can understand you and that proves a theory I have had for ages. The Falmer are physically capable of speaking but choose not to do so. I believe they rely so much on their hearing and other senses after the loss of their sight that speaking would put them in grave danger. They would not hear their prey or predator.”
“That is a very astute observation! Isn’t it intriguing that the Dwemer have built such an extensive city on an island so far away from the mainland?
“No, it is not a surprise at all. Dimfrost will be connected to Blackreach which in turn is connected to similar underneath Evermore. This underground realm is not divided by seas. Even if only slim tunnels exist they will be connected. Otherwise the flora and fauna would be slightly different in each.”
“Yes well, no doubt the Thalmor…anyway, important things first! We should look for signs of where that dragon of yours could be roosting.”
“Let’s go see if they have put up any ‘Dragon this way!’ signs for us shall we?”
When everybody had emerged from the water I explained, “If you have not seen this realm before you may be distracted by its marvels. You must keep alert. Plenty of Falmer will live here amongst other dangers.”
We emerged into the main chamber of Dimfrost and as expected, some were in awe of what they saw. Athir said, “Gods, I’ve never seen such a thing! Did the Dwemer build all this? They disappeared long ago but nobody has since been able to work out why.”
Daenlit replied, “Some say the Dwemer’s disappearance is related to the Heart of Lorkham. But that’s for scholars, not Blades such as we. As the Emperor warned, stay focused.”
I added, “It is good to speculate on such things Athir. I am sure Esbern has at least a week or two of lectures he could give on the subject. Did the Dwemer vanish after playing around with Dawn Magic and the heart of Lorkhan? I witnessed a Master Mage vanish when he tested that theory in front of me. I can summon his shade when I wish but he is no longer of the mortal realm.”
Arniel was a fool with the risks he took with the Keening. I would not be surprised if he knew where the keys were for that room where we fought the Giant Golem beside the Nerevarine. But his shade does not communicate, just whines about the state of immortality in which it now exists.
As we were walking I tried to pry some information out of Alberthor, “How long have you been living in the barrow?”
“I can’t say for sure, at least a lifetime or more.”
“I find it disturbing Thalmor are illegally on the island. I wonder what they are after.”
“Aldmeri supremacists and I despise them. Have you had dealings with them before?”
The Blades and Celestine laughed but soon quietened down when I gave them a stare one fraction the strength of what Rigmor can manage.
“They invaded Skyrim a few years ago. I led one army that crushed them outside of Whiterun. Titus Mede II crushed another of their armies on the Cyrodiil border. They tortured High Queen Rigmor for years and together we have killed hundreds of them in combat. So yes, I have had lots of dealings with them.”
Daenlit remarked, “His Majesties’ parley with Assclown at the coronation is a source of much material amongst the minstrels and bards.”
“You can now understand how isolated I have been. I will mark on your map where I think they are headed. As a favour try to leave some corpses relatively intact will you.”
“What do you think they are looking for?”
“I can assure you their presence on this island is anything but benevolent. Let us speak no further of this.”
I spotted a cluster of Thalmor in the distance and signalled for everybody to stay back and be quiet.
I crept within bow range and took the first down. They could not see me but were now alert to my attacks. My second shot took down a Chaurus and the sound of the arrow and bow string was enough to tell them precisely where I was. They attacked and I dispatched them one by one as they ran towards me.
After the last fell I stood and signalled again and The Blades joined me. Daenlit looked at the line of dead Falmer then exclaimed, “I thought I was a marksman but damn. Every arrow was a head shot and all down in seconds.”
Delphine said to her, “He is the Champion of The Divines and their chosen killing machine on Nirn. He told me he recently met his match in combat but would not say who it was. I hope the other is on our side.”
There were plenty of Falmer to share around and we had pitched battles as they swarmed us on many occasions.
In the distance I could see a giant statue of a Snow Elf and pointed it out saying, “We will head for that Snow Elf statue. They usually adorn roads leading to major structures.”
Shargam asked, “Why would the Dwemer put up a statue of a Snow Elf? And I thought Snow Elf and Falmer is the same thing.”
“The Dwemer gave the Snow Elves somewhere to survive the onslaught of the Nords in Skyrim. They blinded them and turned them into slaves. But not all of them! I have met Snow Elves who escaped that fate. I have hopes that the Falmer can be civilised if given the opportunity. They are not the mindless savages you may think.”
We proceeded at a fairly slow pace and constantly on the lookout for more attacks.
When beside the statue Delphine asked, “Are they as beautiful as that?”
“They, the Chimer and Ayleid are closer to the form the Ehlnofey took after the Convention. Closer to the form the et-Ada chose when stranded in Mundus. So anybody not afflicted with the anti-mer hatred of the Nords would say the Snow Elves are amongst the most beautiful of all creatures.”
“What is the most beautiful you have seen?”
“My mother Saint Alessia has a beauty beyond compare. My beloved Queen has only briefly glimpsed her but agrees so I am safe to say such a thing.”
Celestine laughed and said, “Thank goodness. I can repair most things but not an Emperor split in two by an angry Queens’ two handed sword.”
Shargam exclaimed, “If she can do that it is no wonder you married her!”
“She could dice me into little chunks in seconds.”
I was curious so just past the statue I caste a Detect Life spell. As expected the husk of the Falmer that Alberthor controlled was as dead as a stone.
He saw the distaste on my face and hurriedly said, “Emperor, I must take my leave of you here. I fear this is the bounds of my mind control spell. Good luck and try not to die.”
The Falmer husk collapsed and we moved on.
As I predicted the road with the Snow Elf statue lead to a major complex of buildings.
Up above was a Dwemer Sun Globe. It not only provides artificial sunlight for some crops it also acts as a sort of alarm. Curiosity got the better of me and I hit it with Unrelenting Force.
A loud gong reverberated for many seconds and dozens of Falmer came streaming out of buildings and tents.
Shargam shouted as he ran with his kai-katana ready, “Aww…the Emperor gave me a present!”
Despite their number the Falmer were no match and were soon deposed of.
We stood at the entrance to the main complex, “Earlier we trudged through a boring Nordic ruin. Compared to Dwemer ruins they are the pinnacle of excitement. Just nudge me awake gently if I fall asleep.”
There were noisy clunking and steam escaping sounds. There were lots of Falmer and automatons. The dull stone and metal architecture of the long lost Dwemer. Boring is not strong enough a word. Mind numbingly monotonous is more accurate.
We hacked and slashed our way through enemy of flesh and that of metal with hardly a pause.
We came across a room of well-equipped corpses of many races. Delphine speculated, “Do you think these are some of the mercenaries Lurius recruited?”
“I don’t think so. Their equipment is too individualistic. Mercenaries like to have some sort of uniform so they recognise each other on a battlefield or in a skirmish.”
Celestine had been searching what looked like the leader’s corpse and handed me a journal. I quickly scanned through it and read aloud the following passage,
“Today I once again find myself in an unprofitable situation. Unprofitable for myself and for my guild which, I can only assume, have begun their obligatory manhunt for my whereabouts.
I estimate days have passed since I fell down a shaft and found myself in these ruins. I am glad my comrades jumped down after me as it is a miserable place enough to die and it would be far worse to do it alone.
The return on investment for this expedition has been insubstantial. The market value of Falmer equipment is next to nothing.
I lost consciousness while we scouted the caverns looking for a way out. I suspect we were ambushed by a Falmer hunting party though I find their organizational skills to be questionable to say the least.
My comrades brought me back here and just after I regained consciousness we were attacked by another large group of Falmer. They all perished and I played dead.
I wonder if they will come and gather our bodies as well. I have seen them taking corpses into a chamber deeper down. I can only speculate as to why so many corpses are required. I doubt it is for some sort of larder.
Perhaps they serve the whims of a more powerful entity situated further on through the ruins? I’d investigate the situation myself, but with numerous crude low-value weapons having been inserted haphazardly into my anatomy with minimal tactical discretion, and with my strength diminishing quickly, I fear I have not long to live. Dying is such a grossly inefficient use of time.
If you find my corpse take it out and sell it. I would’ve done the same thing for you.”
Delphine said to me, “Organised grave robbers. Somebody who gathers items for display to the public must hate such people?”
I was too busy laughing to answer. Elmera soon joined me and the others looked at us as if we had gone insane.
After a few seconds I calmed down enough to tell them, “Vulthurkrah has managed to do what Alberthor has been working on for decades. He has controlled the Falmer and made them retrieve corpses for him. His big weapon against me is an army of undead. Lucius unfortunately boosted the ranks by giving him some mercenaries. Adventurers and grave robbers like this lot have also bolstered his numbers.”
Delphine asked, “Could the Falmer just be worshippers of the dragon?”
“I have seen Falmer attack dragons without provocation. They do not revere them. Falmer sometimes make shrines to creatures long dead that hold some reverence for them. Dov are not amongst those. As this dead grave robber hinted, the attacks seemed better co-ordinated than he thought the Falmer to be capable of.”
After a few more skirmishes we came to a room with a lever and corpses ready to be delivered to Vulthurkrah.
“Okay, this is not a lift. Look up and you and you will see large downpipes. When I pull the lever this room will start filling with water. The buoyancy and underwater breathing dweomers I placed on your armours will stop you from drowning. I assume the Falmer attach something to the corpses to make them float. Eventually the water will stop rising and there should be a tunnel or two exiting at that water level.”
“Why do this rather than use a normal lift?” asked Athir.
“If you can make things buoyant then nature does the work for you. You do not have to have lots of power driving those damn noisy cogs to generate the lift required. You just need some simple valves to allow water in and to drain it out again.”
I pulled the lever.
The water level rose quickly.
The torrent of water started to subside then stopped.
As expected a path led away from the chamber.
We walked along an icy tunnel and I could smell both decay and Dov.
We entered the final chamber and I addressed Delphine, “The Blades are to concentrate on the undead and leave Vulthurkrah to me.”
I turned to Celestine and told her, “You are to provide Restoration support only. With this number of undead fatigue will become a factor.”
I signalled to move out and we approached Vulthurkrah.
There were dozens of corpses but few amongst them would provide much of a challenge when reanimated. I was confident The Blades would cut them down relatively easy as long as Celestine keeps their energy levels up.
I expected my opponent to spew forth empty boasts and threats. He did not disappoint.
“Pogaas tiid tinvaak. Much time has passed since last we spoke. Dukaan, for a time I feared you would not honour my challenge.”
“I am not here to accept a challenge from such a weak opponent. I am here to kill a coward.”
“Aav Rovaan Dilon, I invite you to join my wandering dead in this brom lok strunmah. It is my seat of power.”
“What power? Alduin had the whole of Sovngarde as his praal do suleyk. He had the power to end this world and begin another cycle. He was one of many enemies with far more power than you who have fallen to my Thu’um and sword. Paarthurnax and Odahviing, the new and old lieutenants of Alduin and who were the second most powerful Dov after him bow to my Thu’um. Dozens of Dov have fallen to me that make your power insignificant. You are not worthy of being kul do Bormahu, a son of Akatosh.”
“Nuz krosis, now that you are here, the prey is scattered and weak. You shall fall and become one of my lahvu dilon slen, my army of rotting flesh.”
“Attack that town again and you will find mages capable of bringing you down without my aid and many of my soldiers newly arrived to render your pathetic hide. We will not take long disposing of your undead army.”
“To restore the age of the dragons I must turn filth against itself. I invite the strongest of taazokaan to become my sahrot tu qahnaar so that we may begin the hunt. Prodah tir vokun.”
“I once again tire of your idiocy. I have been placed on Nirn by Bormahu to stop what you propose. You wish to go against the will of our father? He has given me the power to oppose Gods and you think you can do what far stronger enemies have tried and failed?”
“I have many who will answer my call but you are motmahus and indeed I will be expecting you.”
“I will escape this pathetic ‘brom lok strunmah’ through the power of my friends here and my own. There is nothing tricky about that at all.”
“Togaat lahney. Follow if you can so that I may swallow you in the fury of the north wind.”
“I am the Dragon of the North. The wind is my servant, not yours.”
Readers of these journals please do not judge me harshly and remember I am half Dov. Such verbal clashes are always a prelude to a fight between dragons. The fight itself is always a form of argument expressed via the Thu’um. So when I delivered that last scathing retort and was preparing for the next I was not paying as much attention to Vulthurkrah as I should. He lifted off with a deliberately large downdraught which knocked me down. This prevented me using Dragonrend to keep him in the cavern and he escaped through an opening high above.
The Blades started slicing through the undead army at a great rate. I concerned myself with finding the way out.
There was a Dwemer lift with a large boulder leant again the gate. It would be moved aside by the power of the doors I am sure. I just had to find how to open them.
Up a walkway was a room with two levers and a button. One lever would close the doors to isolate the small room. The other one I guessed would release a large golem at the far end of the cavern. I pulled and it did exactly that.
This allowed The Blades to concentrate on my end while the undead at the other end battled the golem. I helped destroy them at my end then rushed over to finish the last of them and the golem at the other end.
So much for Vulthurkrah’s army of the dead! We destroyed it in less than ten minutes!
I ran up the walkway then pushed the button. The lift doors opened and I rushed back down.
We piled inside. Delphine pulled the lever and soon we were on the surface. We ran towards Stonehollow accompanied by torrential rain and a very impressive thunderstorm.
We arrived in town and it was deserted. A Legionnaire Scout ran up and said the marines had moved everybody into the mines and the airship had moved far away with some children aboard.
The scout ran to a high observation point. I addressed The Blades.
“Leave the close quarter combat to me. Pepper him with arrows and spells but keep your distance. He is mine and this is personal. Agreed?”
They all reluctantly nodded but I did not expect them to understand. This was Dovah vs Dovah and half of me wanted to not just kill Vulthurkrah but show him how weak his Thu’um really was. I let my Dovah take over.
Vulthurkrah was no idiot. He took advantage of the overcast weather to plummet undetected and land on the windmill’s roof. Within a second I let loose Dragonrend and his doom was sealed.
He managed to lift off and I hit him with another Dragonrend. I could hear the bows of The Blades and the lightening and fire spells of the mages.
He landed outside one of the city gates which meant my crew could no longer contribute to the fight as walls were in their way.
He stared at me as I ran towards him. If he expected any more Shouts he wasn’t going to get them. I wanted to slice and dice.
“Ten minutes to destroy your pathetic rabble. I have tens of thousands of soldiers at my command and you thought that was an army?”
He lunged. I dodged and sliced to the bone just under his left eye. The lightning and thunder were suitable accompaniment to this little piece of drama.
“Did that hurt? This sword has ended the life of over fifty Dov far more powerful than you. It was made during a Dragon Break and I use it to break dragons. Hey, that was pretty good. Next time I get to entertain as a bard I will have to use it.”
He lunged again and I stepped aside. I hit him with my shield with such force he was concussed for a second or two. I could have ended him there and then but I had more to say.
“You do know what will happen when I kill you don’t you? Your soul will not sit in some nice safe place till Alduin comes along and resurrects you in the future. I will consume it. It will cease to exist. A pity as I would rather you wandered The Void for all eternity wallowing in the knowledge of how weak you really are.”
He was fully conscious again and I stood before him with shield and sword lowered.
“Here, have a bite. I might be a bit chewy in the armour though.”
Vulthurkrah lunged and roared his hatred.
‘The Sword’ plunged through his palate and into his brain. Life left his eyes and his soul flowed into mine.
I could hear The Blades behind me but I waited several minutes for my Dovah to subside.
I turned and they all just stood shuffling their feet. Nobody had anything to say after that display of my other side. I don’t blame them. Wait till Rigmor hears about the last bit with lowered shield and sword. Maybe I can bribe them to keep quiet?
Lurius came running up and stared at the bloodied Dovah skeleton for a few seconds.
Then he asked incredulously, “Is…is it dead? Is it finally over?”
“Not ‘it ‘ Lurius. He was Dov, a son of Akatosh and my brother. His name was Vulthurkrah and I morn his passing.”
“I am sorry Majesty. I did not realise how this would affect you.”
“No, I don’t expect anybody but another dragon to understand.”
“I…I can hardly believe it. It’s over. By Shor I never thought we would’ve survived.”
“Now your challenge is to get this town back on its feet. We will need this island’s resources to help us prepare for the war to come.”
“Will the marines be staying?”
“They will be replaced by regular Legionnaires and some engineers will be sent to help. I will remain for at least another day as there are other things of concern I have discovered since being here.”
I used a beacon to summon the airship but since it did not have to ether to us it arrived within minutes.
It was about 2:00AM and I advised The Blades to get something to eat then sleep. We would be up at around 9:00AM to start investigating the Thalmor.
I thanked the mages for taking the children to safety and Brelyna said she had an urgent message from Blackwell. She said somebody wanted to speak to me about the Tools of Kagrenac.
I thanked her and headed for my room.
I wrote this journal entry and crawled into bed.
I know not what time I fell asleep.