Wyrmstooth, Sky Haven Temple: Odds and ends.
It was just after 9:00AM when we emerged from the cabin.
Delphine asked, “What is the plan for the day?”
“First we will do a quick tour of the town and see how things are. Then we will go see what the Thalmor are up to. We will walk to where Alberthor thinks they might be. I can miss things when flying the airship and I want to have a good look at the state of the island from the ground.”
The Imperial Marines and what was left of the Legionnaires were busy shoring up dodgy walls and making swift repairs to others. When the engineers arrive an assessment will be made on what is salvageable and what will need to be torn down.
Ja’Shavi-Dar was busy walking the street spruiking whatever gear he could to aid in the rebuild. He was selling items at cost price. Nobody expected him to go broke and donate his goods.
“Good to see you up and heathy Ja’Shavi-Dar.”
“I am glad to be alive to see the resilience of these people. It warms this Khajiit’s heart.”
“Why did you choose to bring your caravan here?”
“My wife Shomara and I were thinking about tackling the old Moonpaths in Evermore but she is carrying our cubs and we thought Wyrmstooth would be safer. Maybe if we liked it we could open a store and stay while the cubs grew big enough to join us travelling.”
I looked questioningly at Celestine, “Yes, I knew she was pregnant and I made sure they were healthy when I helped her. It was not my place to tell you of this.”
“I understand and did not expect you to. I just wanted some reassurance for Ja’Shavi-Dar.”
He laughed and said, “Haha…The cubs think they are missing some excitement and were kicking me in the back all night.”
“Are you still thinking of staying?”
“We like the people here. They have welcomed us. I think this will be home for some time.”
“I am glad to hear that. The Empire can do with more Khajiit to make it prettier don’t you think?”
“And we will make it smarter! This one thanks you all for your help and I am sure my wife and guard would also like such a chance.”
As we walked towards the Khajiit tents I noticed Legate Hamlin. He was very young for his rank and his men had taken a battering over the last few months so I thought I would let him know my gratitude.
He saw me approaching and stood tall with a perfect salute.
I returned the salute and he stood at ease.
“On behalf of The Empire I would like to thank you and your men for the sterling job you have done during this crises. I am recommending an exemplary service citation for your unit and extended leave. I also apologise for circumstances leaving you undermanned. It seems every piece of scum in the vicinity has taken advantage of your lack of numbers. If you wish to be deployed elsewhere after your leave you can choose where. If you choose to return to Wyrmstooth then you will remain as Legate and in charge of the much larger force to be deployed here. All forts will be manned and repaired. I expect the island to be cleansed of bandits and other unwanted guests.”
“Thank you your Majesty. I am sure if I tell my men they can get revenge on the pirates, bandits, vampire, witches and Thalmor they will cut their leave short just to get back.”
“You were aware of the Thalmor?”
“Yes but they arrived about the same time the dragons started slaughtering the citizens. We were eager to take care of them but never had the chance.”
“Well we are on our way to ask them politely what they are doing on our island.”
“It would be terrible if they drew weapons on your Majesty.”
“My scout was the only one of us to watch you take care of the last dragon. He is one of quietest men I have ever met but he has not stopped talking to anybody who will listen.”
“It is not how I normally fight but I was grandstanding for another dragon.”
“Which dragon was that Majesty?”
I can’t blame him for gaping at me like a fish out of water.
“The Dovah’s skeleton is to be gathered and bundled into a cargo net. I will inform one of my brothers of where it is. He will gather it and take it to one of the hidden Dov burial grounds. The other two were sinking back into the volcanic pools from which they sprang so they can remain there.”
I gave a final salute of dismissal and left the Legate open mouthed as I walked toward the Khajiit.
Many people are into omens and signs of divine benevolence so there was much gossip and joy when a strong wind blew for several minutes and temporarily cleared the smoke enough to see the blue sky once again.
Shomara was busy making a huge pile of firewood, far more than the caravan would need and Ajira was building a large fire.
Ajira heard us approaching and turned to greet us.
“This one can see the questions on the tip of your tongue. I am not building such a blaze because one is cold. I need a very large and hot fire to make a huge cauldron of the best Elsweyr Chowder in all of Nirn.”
“I would go easy on some of the spices. I do not know if the temporary latrines are capable of withstanding the inevitable onslaught.”
“Ajira will ask for volunteers to test it on. If they just sweat it is enough. If they turn red it is maybe too much.”
“How can you tell with a Dunmer?”
“They are not weak like men. They like it the way we normally have it.”
“Ja’Shavi-Dar is thinking of setting up a real shop for a while.”
“Yes, we spoke about it. I miss the warm sands of Elsweyr but will stay to help my friend Shomara with her cubs. Perhaps she can help me with mine.”
“Congratulations. Are your due about the same time?”
“Oh no, me and Ja’Shavi-Dar have to make them first.”
Delphine gasped and I laughed.
I explained, “Not all Nords are used to the ways of the Khajiit.”
“No, they were too busy chasing us out of town to take notice. We thank you for changing that.”
“I wish you luck Ajira. May Azurah bless you.”
She returned to her fire and I walked up to Shomara who stopped her chopping to speak to us.
“Congratulations on your cubs Shomara.”
“Yes, this one is excited as I do not have any idea what moon they will born under.”
“Men and mer and Argonian only wonder about gender. You have male and female and seventeen Furstock!”
“It is fortunate than they are born the same size if Alfiq or Pahmar-raht!”
“In my ignorance I did ask a Khajiit friend about that. He asked if my father or mother was the dragon.”
“But you learned the truth by listening instead of asking correct? That is why you are almost as smart as a Khajiit.”
“That is a lot of wood you have piled up already.”
“My flea-bitten husband wanted to sell it to the people. I will pile it up and they can take what they need. The trees cost us nothing so we lose nothing by giving them away. We can also afford the ingredients for the chowder. Sometimes it is hard to control the urges of a merchant.”
“He is being very fair with his prices.”
“That is why he is not doing the selling from his tent. He is embarrassed at the lack of profit. But he is a generous mate and I would not mind staying here with our cubs. These are good people.”
“And the better for having you three stay with them. I must go now. Azurah bless you.”
We stopped and had a quick look at the remains of Vulthurkrah. You do not realise their size when in battle with them. The Akaviri use the smaller Red species. They would still be terrifying to the normal citizen and Legionnaire.
A giant passed us and I said to The Blades, “See his harness and the blade on his arm? He was once a Stormcloak recruit. Ulfric was guilty of many things but turning these gentle creatures into berserk killers was one of the most unforgivable. They often turned on their ‘allies’ during a battle. Like a mistreated dog will bite its owner.”
We encountered some miners sitting around a campfire looking rather glum. I approached a Legionnaire that was with them.
He stood to attention and saluted.
“At ease private. What is your name?”
“Private Geitrich Sir or is that Majesty?”
“Either will do. What is happening here?”
“Well Sir, we were congratulating ourselves on having survived the dragons and the miners was eager to continue digging this morning. You see this is an ebony mine with a shitload, excuse the Nordic, load of ore and it is scarce on this island.”
“It is very scarce indeed. So why are they out here?”
“I was part of a squad of four looking after about twenty miners. This is what is left after one of them Spriggan things attacked this morning. I would rather have faced a dragon with a fork than that thing.”
“Who was in charge?”
“Was and still is Bolmar after I saved his arse and dragged him outside. That is the one with the stripped face.”
“Thanks soldier. As you were.”
Bolmar approached and asked, “Is it a bit presumptuous to ask your Majesty to help with our predicament.”
“You don’t have to ask but I do need to know a few things. How long have you been mining this find and has the Spriggan always been there?”
“We have spent a couple of months just mapping where the ore is. The Spriggan comes and goes and tended to leave us alone till this morning. It came in, started screeching and men were being killed, soldiers and miners alike, as if helpless children before its wrath.”
“I will go and have a look. Sometimes they can be reasoned with. I will not just kill it outright.”
We stood at the entrance and I told The Blades, “Keep your weapons sheathed and mouths shut. That might be hard if the slaughter is a bad as it sounds. Let me approach her and talk to her.”
We entered and immediately the story was before me. A sacred tree, dead miners and soldiers and…
..huge deposits of Ebony ore.
I approached the Spriggan Matriarch who demanded, “Why do you disturb the sanctity of Kyne? Speak.”
“I can see the miners were too eager in their digging and have exposed the roots of your tree. They are ignorant of your ways and meant no harm. We can repair the damage if you allow us.”
“Ahh, then you are the one I was expecting. Your power is known to me. All is one in Kyne’s embrace. I offer you the chance to restore the balance disturbed by those miners.”
“Of course I will help. Tell me what I have to do.”
“Kill the miners. Only their remains can repair the damage to my tree.”
“I will not punish them for their ignorance. You have already made them pay too much with the blood spilt. This is not what Kyne would ask of me.”
“So you words mean nothing. You offer to help then refuse.”
“All they have done is exposed the roots. I see no physical damage. I will return the soil and that is enough.”
The Matriarch became enraged and tried to summon the creatures in the cave to attack me. I used the ‘Kyne’s Peace’ Shout to return them to a passive state.
“You see that the power given me by Kyne has adjudged your demand too much. How long before the tree has another Matriarch to look after it if you die? Stand down and let me repair the damage.”
The Matriarch screeched and swung her deadly limbs at me. She died when I unsheathed ‘The Sword’ and cut her down in a single movement.
I continued to survey the mine and ironically saw a shrine to Kynareth amongst the dead miners’ belongings.
To the right of the exposed Sacred Tree’s roots was a huge ore deposit.
Underneath the roots there wasn’t any at all. The roots could be recovered and not impact the viability of the mine at all.
I exited and explained to Bolmar, “I had to kill the Spriggan. She attacked because you were in danger of damaging the very large and sacred tree with your search for more ore. Before you start mining again, immediately in fact, you are to replace the soil you have removed from around the tree’s roots. The Overseer will be informed that the mine is to be inspected randomly and if the soil around the roots is disturbed again the mine will be closed. Otherwise another Spriggan will come and slaughter will occur again. Understood?”
‘Yes Majesty. It was done through ignorance I assure you.”
“I know but that is not an acceptable excuse to a Spriggan. They are very single minded about these things. I am sorry for the loss of your friends and the soldiers. It is a steep price to pay for an innocent mistake.”
Bolmar nodded and was soon in Sargent Major mode ordering his men to recover the bodies for burial and to prepare for a long day of replacing the soil.
We encountered plenty of Vigilants of Stendarr and a few small Legionnaire patrols but nothing hostile on the way to Haetar’s Cave where Alberthor suggested we might find the Thalmor.
One lot of Legionnaires told us they saw some Thalmor headed the direction we were going. They thought they were too few in numbers to challenge them. I agreed. There were only three of them and a single Thalmor mage would make short work of them.
In a clear space near our target I set the airship beacon. It should arrive soon as it only took us a few hours by foot.
As we stood before the cave entrance Elmera exclaimed, “That old fart never leaves his hidey hole. How would he know where the Thalmor are?”
“He did say in his journal he thought they might have scried him then doubted they had anybody good enough. Maybe he can scry well enough to find them? Or perhaps he knows of something in here that would interest them? There is only one way to find out.”
We entered the cave and were met by the sounds of explosions and the Thu’um. Trap and alarms had been setup at the entrance.
Dead Draugr and Thalmor littered the floor. It seemed like three or four Thalmor were getting their arses kicked by one of the more powerful Draugr.
We happily jumped into the fray and slaughtered them all.
I approached a Word Wall and learned the second Power Word, Deceive, of the Phantom Form Shout.
On an altar was a bowl containing leg bones, feet and ribcage. When I picked up a leg I knew what it was. I handed it to Elmera who frowned then handed to Celestine who dropped it back in the bowl in disgust.
Elmera said, “Looks like somebody didn’t know how to destroy a Lich and pulled it apart. That never works in the long run.”
“Yes, Potema was a great example of that stupid idea.”
“You have to inflict a lot of damage all at once otherwise it regenerates. You can make it immobile for a while and then rip it apart like they did here.”
“Yes so I suggest we find all the parts, let it regenerate then get rid of it entirely.”
Celestine asked, “Is there any history of who this might be?”
“One of the Wyrmstooth history books says his name is Vulom. He learned how to become a Lich from the Sload. Vulom means darkness in the dragon language. His real name was Rayon Malon and it is his association with that most vile of races that drew the attention of the Psijic Order as much as the dark magics he wielded. They defeated him in battle and spread his bones across the Island. It appears over the years some people have gathered a few together. The book said where his tomb is so if we find enough bones we will give him a visit.”
“Do you think this is what the Thalmor were after?”
“I don’t know. Maybe if they bring Vulom back he can share some other stuff he learned from the Sload. I had to stop one of them infecting Elsweyr with a form of Thrassian Plague a couple of months ago.”
We started searching the corpses and cavern and the very powerful Draugr not only had a pretty good two handed sword but next to it was a Dwemer Lexicon. It was inscribed which meant it had its purpose already written on it.
“Do you have any idea where to use that?” asked Celestine.
“Certainly do. Down below in the valley is a receptacle for one of these. Maybe this is what the Thalmor were after.”
We continued to look around and one Thalmor seemed to have been dead a lot longer than the others. Next to him was a bloodied note which read,
“Their numbers are countless. I collapsed the entrance but even now I can hear them clawing through the ice. The ward is beginning to weaken. I fear my demise is inevitable.
It’s that damn wizard’s doing. Alberthor, curse his name! Mark my words; the Thalmor will get what we came for. If he will not hand it over to us willingly we will come and take it from him by force. It is crucial, no it is climatic, in our plight.
He claims ignorance of its existence but I know it’s all a lie. He of all people should know.”
I handed the note to Delphine who then passed it on and eventually all had read it.
Delphine asked, “Were you wrong about that campsite and the Draugr?”
“It appears so. This was where Alberthor sent the Draugr and it also shows the range he can control them is many times longer than he let on.”
“What are the Thalmor after?”
“No idea but all I can do is ask the mage and see if he is forthcoming. Somebody like Blackwell would put him on a rack but I am never going to be reduced to that level of barbarity. It is obvious this particular Thalmor was here for a while. We just happened to stumble on a squad who have come to visit.”
“Are we going to try that lexicon?”
“It would be stupid of us not to.”
We made our way outside and the fog and smoke had returned. It would come, there would be a few seconds of wind and it would clear again.
I pointed down to the valley and said, “There, can you see where the lexicon goes.”
We carefully made our way down the slipper ice and stood before the Dwemer receptacle.
“Who wants to guess what happens when I put the lexicon in the holder?”
Shargam answered, “It explodes and they find parts of us in Cyrodiil and Skyrim.”
Celestine said, “It will activate some pumps and this whole lake will empty in minutes.”
The others laughed at her but that is what I also thought would happen. I inserted the lexicon and their laughter died quickly.
The water level dropped at an amazing rate and my quiet and demure Sentinel gave them the finger.
We headed down and came to the only exit to the newly exposed valley.
“Okay, draw weapons. This is probably full of hostiles.”
We entered a huge cavern with plenty of ice trolls but no other sign of life.
Daenlit exclaimed, “Look at the size of the golem!!”
We got closer and it was big but I told the others, “It is not as big as the one the Nerevarine and I fought last month.”
At the bottom of the cavern, which if you recall is at the bottom of a ravine but used to be at the bottom of a lake, was another door.
We stood before it and I said, “Okay. No weapons drawn then. There will probably be ten dragons just to make us look silly.”
We entered and no dragons, just a Hagraven who said, “Oh it’s you. I should’ve guessed as much.”
“Why would you be expecting me?”
“Well, it’s not like your presence on this island has gone unnoticed. Nor would I expect anyone else to be stupid enough to go through such great lengths to explore this long lost Dwemer ruin. Yes, your reputation does indeed precede you.”
“I am only a fraction as stupid as the Hagraven insulting me and expecting me not to chop her to pieces. If you don’t have anything important to say I will be going. There are more ruins for stupid people to discover you know.”
“Wait, I would ask of you a service now that you are here?”
“Sorry, I am too stupid to help.”
“You know how Hagravens come to be?”
“Yes, young women give up their beauty to whichever Daedric Prince is sponsoring them in exchange for arcane knowledge and power.”
“Yes, and the more powerful we become the less we resemble who we were. Like you. With each dragon soul you devour you become less human. We are more alike than it seems.”
“Your ignorance is showing. Not only am I one of the smartest individuals you will ever meet I will always be what I am. I am a man with Dov soul and blood and that does not change no matter how many souls I absorb. I do not devour them. They simply impart knowledge and not any life force or Dov essence. We are nothing alike. You are self-centred and basically evil in nature and actions. Your power is a tiny fraction of mine. Tell me what you want or I leave and I have not decided if you will be alive when I do.”
“I need but a simple thing. Not something that would trouble one as powerful as you. All I need is a moment of your passionate love.”
The others started to titter then finally laughed out loud at the thought.
“There are so many reasons why the answer is no it would take me a year to list them.”
“But I am trained in the Dibellan Arts. I can make myself look like any animal you desire. I can even be male or female or even both if that is what you desire.”
“What, am I more woman than you can handle?”
“If you are so desperate for intimate company I suggest you not hide under a lake. Move to the dock area and buy a little cabin. Put red lanterns outside and you will have no shortage of passionate love. Some sailors who have been at sea for months might even find you pretty.”
“If you change your mind and truly want to help somebody out in need you know where to find me. Right here and all alone…”
We made our way to Nafalilargus and the others knew not to even mention what just happened.
We flew to the barrow and a blizzard arrived just to brighten my mood.
We made our way to Alberthor.
“I have killed the Thalmor. Why do they think you are hiding something Alberthor? They will not be gentle when they get your hands on you!”
“I thank you for getting rid of them but my past is my own.”
“If you become a danger to The Empire I will have you behind bars before you can blink. Do not think of that as an idol threat but more of a promise. I strongly suggest you move far away and start studying something else. The Dovah had already perfected the magic you stumble around. You are not being clever but just a stubborn old fool.”
I left and took the sword out of the slot thus closing the portcullis.
We boarded Nafalilargus and I flew us to a bridge near Fort Valus. I wanted to inspect it and see if it could be quickly manned.
The airship attracted some Hags who came streaming out to attack us.
We killed a few more Hags as we searched the building. A false back to a cupboard led us to their underground lair.
We rushed in and slaughtered them all.
From a Word Wall I learnt the third Word of Power, Phantom, of the Phantom Form Shout.
On a table next to a shrine of Arkay we found the rest of Vulom’s bones.
We did a quick inspection of the other buildings and found the fort to be in excellent condition.
We boarded the airship and flew to Vulom’s tomb.
I told The Blades, “Just hack and slash quickly. We do enough damage in a short amount of time and that will stop any chance of regeneration. He will turn into ash and goo.”
We found the only part missing from the skeleton, his skull, sitting atop an empty sarcophagus.
I threw in his bones and said, “There you go. I bet you have had an itch behind the ear you have wanted to scratch for a very long time!”
A disembodied appropriately creepy and raspy voice boomed, “You have returned my bones and I am whole once more!”
“That is kind of why we brought them here.”
“Though the world may have changed since last I was whole, my power will soon be remembered by those who still curse my name.”
“You have to survive first and I doubt that is going to happen.”
“You shall be the first that shall fall by my hands and pave the road for my dominion.”
“You are about to be sent to The Void forever. Enjoy!”
“It is not wise to presume that a Lich can be so easily defeated.”
He arose from the sarcophagus and attacked.
Delphine rushed him and destroyed him with a single mighty blow.
I said to her, “That was pretty impressive!”
As the others walked up to her to discuss what she had just done I recovered a staff from the sarcophagus.
As we headed back towards the airship I declared, “I have had enough. I want to get back and see who has what knowledge about Kagrenac’s Tools. We will head to town to say goodbye then I will drop you off back at the temple.”
It was about 7:00PM when we dropped anchor and I went to find Lurius.
“We are leaving Lurius. You will be glad to know of a significant ebony mine not far down the road. I have put restrictions on how it is to be mined. You will receive instructions on that soon. That will make the Company happy.”
“Yes, the miners came in with a wagon full of bodies and a sad tale. Bolmar is one of our most experienced miners and when he says it is a rich find then we all get excited.”
“We wiped out some Thalmor but they were looking for something so expect more to sneak in. With the huge increase in troops to be stationed here they will not find it so easy to move around undetected.”
“What about the forts?”
“We just cleared Fort Valus of a witch coven living there. The buildings are fairly intact and it will not take much time or expense to make it fully functional again. But it does not matter, whatever the cost the forts will be brought back up to scratch and fully garrisoned.”
“It will boost everybody’s moral to see proper sized patrols and full forts again.”
“We also got rid of that Lich Vulom for good.”
“He was real? I just thought he was a story to scare the children into doing their chores!”
“He was real and now he is gone.”
“I thank you Emperor. You have helped well beyond just dealing with a dragon. Is there any last piece of advice before you leave?”
“If a new brothel opens near the docks don’t enter without downing quite a few meads beforehand.”
Lurius looked puzzled as we left for the Nafalilargus.
Once aboard I went into the map room and set course for Sky Haven Temple. The others got stuck into a hearty meal and told the tales of the day to the three Master Mages.
Their laughter lifted my heart but was soon drowned out when I closed the hatch.
Two hours later we arrived at Sky Haven Temple. The Blades assembled before me.
“I am immensely proud of how you conducted yourselves. You may think that the few chances you had to fight dragons might not add up to much when the Akaviri come. But they have shown that with co-ordination and bravery you can face them and defeat them. The only difference being if I am not with you is how quickly you can force them to land. Many of our best military minds will be working on a solution to that. Do not be afraid to send them your opinions and suggestions. You worked well as a squad and tackled many creatures and situations foreign to you. You should also be immensely proud of how you conducted yourselves.
Delphine, we started out hating each other years ago and now we can work together like this. You know how much I am going to rely on you over the next few years. We need The Blades. You have earned that Dragonguard blade I gave you.”
The Blades stood to attention and watched me board Nafalilargus.
I asked J’Zargo to ether us to the Imperial Palace whilst I went below and wrote this journal entry.