Imperial Palace: Ulterior motives.
It was about 12:30AM when we docked at the Imperial Palace. Serana came to greet me and said, “You are to meet with a Dunmer gentlemen called Mathis Valen. Malesam and Queen Rigmor have been entertaining him on and off during the day assuring him you would be returning to Cyrodiil soon. You are to have your meeting in one of the guest rooms. Blackwell said to tell you he will not be at the meeting in person. Why he played cryptic with me and just didn’t say he will be eavesdropping is a mystery.”
“I think it is just old habits Serana. He has survived two Emperors by being very cautious. I take it your Sentinel Squad is on guard for Rigmor then.”
“Yes, three are in the room with them. I will be outside the door.”
We headed for the meeting with my Sentinel squad following behind us. They would remain outside with Serana while I went inside.
After Serana knocked and the formal challenge and answer were given I was allowed into the room.
I kissed Rigmor on the cheek and sat next to her at the table. Malesam and Mathis Valen went to rise and I waved them down.
I bet to myself that Blackwell chose the guest room. It was the one where Rigmor and I were separated when she was arrested.
- Malesam: Ah…Majesty. Let me introduce Mathis Valen. An expert and keen student of Dwemer history currently residing in Markarth.
- Wulf: Pleased to meet you Mathis.
- Mathis: Likewise Majesty.
- Wulf: It is apt to describe oneself as both student and expert on any of the lost races. It seems they were all determined to take their knowledge with them.
- Mathis: Some, like Calcelmo, tend to pick a favourite theory and dismiss anything that might challenge it. We have had many a heated discussion on manuscripts submitted and books published. I currently live in Markarth simply because it is the most Dwemer place with an inn throughout Skyrim and Cyrodiil.
- Wulf: How did you hear of my interest in Kagrenac’s Tools?
- Mathis: You do not hide much of what you do and you airship is well known. Archaeologists and historians are naturally curious so when a colleague saw your airship near Kagrenar he rushed over and saw you enter it. When he told me the other day I knew what you were looking for but had chosen the wrong place to look. You already have Keening according to the published accounts of your life of the last three and a half years. It was not in Kagrenar and neither are the other two.
I was not going to divulge why I was really there. The journals are published when I think the information in them no longer concerns any ongoing task. It will be a while before the world learns of the Nerevarine being in Tamriel.
- Wulf: So fill me in what you know and how you know it.
- Mathis: The Tools have long been hidden but they were never truly lost. The fact you found Keening proves this!
- Wulf: It is amazing how many powerful historical artefacts have been found by me even when not looking for them. My museum in Solitude is evidence of that.
- Mathis: The Tools of Kagrenac have not surfaced since the end of the 3rd era, but they are not gone from this world. In fact Sunder is in Skyrim!
- Wulf: What research has led you to that conclusion?
- Mathis: Decades of research. I’ve gathered reliable information thanks to an old friend of mine at the College of Winterhold, Vonos Dreloth.
- Wulf: Really? He was there when I was Arch Mage and was helping Master Mage Arniel with his studies. He never showed interest in the fact I had found Keening. Last I spoke to him he was working on some very powerful spells combining the Alteration and Illusion Schools of magicka.
- Mathis: Together we’ve been looking for the Tools for a long time. The surfacing of Keening was a bit of a breakthrough you know. Many more clues were revealed to us after that. That fool Arniel stumbled on something that turned out to be good for our own research. As for his ‘accident’…Humph, serves him right for sticking his nose in things that went way over his head!
- Wulf: Master Mage Arniel was no fool and I ask that you speak with more respect for a dead colleague. He was guilty of the same weakness of so many great Mages before him. His pursuit of knowledge made him careless and he took one too many risks. The Auger of Dunlain can tell you all about that folly.
- Mathis: Of course. I apologise but my enthusiasm on this subject can make my mouth move ahead of my brain so to speak.
- Wulf: Seems you have more in common with Calcelmo than you think.
- Mathis: What a terrifying thought! But I digress here…the summit near Mount Anthor is where you should go! This is where Sunder had been placed to rest!
- Wulf: If you know where it is why have you not retrieved it yourself?
- Mathis: According to your journals there was a dragon there that you slew. It was also where Olaf One-Eye fought Numinex. Who knows if yet another dragon has taken up residence?
- Wulf: Yes, the one I slew had been attacking worshippers on their way to the Shrine of Azura. Before we go any further, why do you want the Tools recovered?
- Mathis: For the same reason as Master Mage Arniel. I want to find out what happened to the Dwemer.
- Wulf: Any study of the Tools will be conducted within a pocket realm entered from within the College of Winterhold. That is where we allow all original artefacts to be studied we believe too dangerous or valuable to be on display at the museum. The artefacts are protected against a collapsing pocket realm. Thieves are not. Very messy!
- Mathis: Understood.
- Rigmor: The Emperor goes to Mount Anthor and retrieves Sunder. Sounds too easy so there must be a catch. What is it?
- Mathis: Spoken through experience Majesty? There is in fact one small problem. Master Mage Vonos, my dear friend, is of such importance to me because he is in possession of a small key that has been passed down to him from his ancestors. He is descended from loyal followers of Vivec who hid Sunder here in Skyrim many years ago.
- Rigmor: Clever. Hide something of utmost importance to mer in a land of men that detest them. Most searchers would think that most unlikely and would waste a lifetime on Morrowind and Alinor.
- Wulf: Like Serana’s mother Valerica hiding out in Castle Volkihar.
- Rigmor: Is Vonos aware of the importance of the key?
- Mathis: Though Vonos’ ancestors didn’t teach their children the location of Sunder’s hiding place it is quite clear they emphasised the key is of great importance. I now have reason to believe this key gives access to the hiding place.
- Malesam: Like me I am sure the Majesties are intrigued as to why Vonos would not lend you the key?
- Mathis: We have had a…difference of opinion recently. If he knows I am involved he may be reluctant to give it up.
- Wulf: I will not prevaricate with Master Mage Vonos. I will not order him to hand over the key or ask others to pressure him to do so. As a matter of fact if he asked for help to put it in a safer place I would do so. Understood?
- Mathis: I understand but your reputation should put him at ease. I am sure you will obtain it ethically.
- Wulf: I was immune to the effects of Keening much to Master Mage Arniel’s amazement. However it would still be prudent to obtain Wraithguard first.
- Mathis: You do have a sharp mind! I know where it is, more or less.
- Wulf: If you send me all over the place collecting clues like Master Mage Arniel did I will cheer if you suffer the same fate as him.
- Mathis: Well then I hope it is still where it was. Yassour Tansumiran of Raven Rock has been keeping it hidden for a long time now. I’m unsure how he got possession of it. He is a typical Dunmer Ashlander, harsh and quite rude.
- Wulf: They are a product of their environment and have been forced into independence. It is natural for them to take time to warm to any outsider.
- Rigmor: I warn you Mathis Valen. We do not take kindly to any generalisations that border on racism. All people have their quirks which are generally traceable to their history, not their blood.
- Mathis: I apologise once again for my manners.
Rigmor nodded her head in acceptance.
- Mathis: It is only by chance, or fate, perhaps, that this delicate piece of information reached my ears. Good luck negotiating with him.
- Wulf: Once again I will not force him to divulge what he does not want to.
- Mathis: Did you and Master Mage Arniel come to any conclusions as to why you were not harmed when handling Keening?
- Wulf: I discharged the weapon by accident.
- Mathis: I see I see…I was wondering how you were able to wield Keening without Wraithguard but now it makes sense. It had lost its power.
- Rigmor: Pay attention. The Emperor said he accidentally discharged Keening. That means he wielded it without Wraithguard and without harm.
- Wulf: Do not ponder why that is so, it just is.
- Malesam: It is often a fruitless exercise where our Emperor is concerned. With his parentage and the blessing of Akatosh we just shrug our shoulders and accept these things.
- Wulf: Wanting to realise the full potential of Keening I studied it further and found the normal method of recharging a weapon’s dweomer does not work on it. Unfortunately Master Mage Arniel passed away before I could discuss my theory with him. I believe the Dwemer had some sort of machinery to recharge the Tools. I am yet to find such a device or any hint of its whereabouts.
- Mathis: I may have an idea. The Dwemer did use pedestals, altars of sorts, to imbue some objects and weapons with magical powers, dweomers if you will. You could not just sacrifice a soul gem out in the field like you can with our weapons and staves. You needed to bring the item to one of these pedestals.
- Wulf: And you have found one?
- Mathis: Yes, I found one during a research trip into Blackreach. A marvellous thing! I’m unsure if such a pedestal would be able to restore power to the tools but it’s worth a try.
- Wulf: I have longed to explore Blackreach, and many other places I have visited during Divine Tasks, but have never had the opportunity. Therefore I know very little of the purpose of many of the buildings I saw. Can you provide a map to the specific building in question?
Mathis handed me a crude map leading from an entrance to Blackreach I was not familiar with. But enough of the landmarks drawn were familiar and I could find my way from the Alftand lift.
- Wulf: Once again it seems too easy. What is the catch this time?
- Mathis: You can’t just use any soul gem. You probably need the most powerful Varla stone the Ayleid ever created. They are called the ‘Bal am as Aedra’. The pinnacle of Ayleid wicked craftsmanship.
- Wulf: Stones of the Gods. Blue in colour rather than the white of normal Varla stones. But once again you show great ignorance for a scholar. The Ayleid created them and used them for millennia before being corrupted by the Daedric Princes. You should know why I have made Ayleid history a subject of intense study.
- Mathis: Of course and I stand corrected.
- Wulf: I don’t suppose you happen to know where I will find charged Bal am as Aedra sitting around waiting to be picked up.
- Mathis: As you know all discovered Welkynd have either been discharged or destroyed by those seeking to uncover their secrets.
- Wulf: Not quite. I know where to look.
- Rigmor: You are not returning to that damned kingdom anytime soon!
- Wulf: No my beloved. Lord Akatosh has a place only I can enter remember.
- Rigmor: Oh, but that will be hard on you.
- Wulf: But necessary.
- Rigmor: How many do you think we need?
- Mathis: The pedestal has slots for three so at least that many I would say. We could possibly get our hands on discharged ones but they would require a functioning Ayleid Well to charge and once again all known Great Welkynd Stones have been destroyed.
- Wulf: I have access to at least four. Not a problem.
Mathis’ mouth hung open.
- Rigmor: Better close your mouth before a fly enters.
- Mathis: Okay…um this is all a fragile guess at best Majesty.
- Wulf: It is good speculation. Worth pursuing.
- Mathis: Well that exhausts the information I can provide so I wish you good luck in finding the Tools and Welkynd.
- Rigmor: Will you stay with us as a guest till his Majesty’s return? If he is unsuccessful another discussion amongst us may come up with an alternate plan.
- Mathis: Of course. I may take advantage of my time here and visit the Imperial Library if I may.
- Malesam: I can provide you a letter of introduction that will give you access but I doubt you will have much time to read anything.
- Wulf: With the airship I can reach Raven Rock in two hours from here and not days. I still think you can at least spend a day in the library and I give two hours warning before returning anyway.
- Mathis: And that was a gift from Elsweyr? Amazing.
Rigmor knew we had to get some idea of Mathis’ real intentions. She was becoming expert at making people open up too much.
- Rigmor: You must have studied a lot to become such an expert on the Dwemer.
- Mathis: Many years of study Majesty. I’ve always been interested in Dwemer since I was a child. The fascination didn’t end. It grew instead more than I had ever thought it could. I’ve visited the sites of ruins all over the known world. That is not a feat without danger as you yourself well know. But I know my limitations and balk at something suicidal.
- Rigmor: Any one site that has left the biggest impression?
- Mathis: I’ve visited the ruins of Dagoth Ur before the Red Year and again after…what was left of it.
- Rigmor: The Throat of the World amazes me.
- Mathis: Not a place many get to visit.
- Rigmor: No, invitation only and enforced by very large dragons.
- Mathis: Despite all my work I’ve never been recognised for my knowledge. I guess other so called ‘experts’ don’t like me too much.
- Rigmor: How come? Surely not because you disagree with Calcelmo?
- Mathis: Lots of others disagree with him so no. Jealousy maybe? My outspokenness? Many of them are frauds you know. Wrongly self-proclaimed so called ‘experts’!
- Rigmor: The Emperor is always cursing fake historians and subject experts.
- Mathis: I believe they fear the Dwemer. Even if they’re all gone now, they still fear what they were. They are afraid of the technology the Dwemer left behind. They are afraid of skeletons!
- Rigmor: But you see it from a different angle?
- Mathis: I see what the Dwemer left us and visualise how it can be used to shape the future. But do not let me bore you with my ideas.
- Wulf: You have generously given your time to help us. It would be rude if we did not spare some time to learn more about such an individual. We like to know those who come to help us. Tell us about yourself Mathis. Surely there is more to you than a Dwemer fixation?
- Mathis: I don’t speak much of myself Majesty. I believe actions speak louder than words. I think that is a philosophy you may appreciate. I did not grow up with the teachings of Vivec like many of my kind. I never believed in false Gods or the lies they stand for. I was raised to believe in a very…different kind of divine. It has made me realistic. It has made me see the world as it really is. We must take what we can is that not so? Nobody will give us what we need. That is the belief we share you and I. We must look after ourselves and this justifies our goals. This does not make us evil. Evil is just a perspective. You understand this. That is what I like about you.
Why do so many idiots think I have to be a selfish prick to have made it to the Ruby Throne? The way we got here is written and verifiable. Others may have had his philosophy of the end justifies the means but not myself or Rigmor.
Since I did not protest Malesam and Rigmor took the hint and did not challenge his perspective.
- Rigmor: I have always wanted to visit Morrowind. Did you live there?
- Mathis: Yes, yes I did. A long time ago before the Red Year. I loved Morrowind with all my heart. I still do now.
- Rigmor: It certainly has a dramatic history!
- Mathis: What happened to Morrowind is a disgrace. The invasion by those abominations…pah! It disgraces me that we let those things take our lands. I want to return to a unified Morrowind again someday. Someday…someday soon I hope.
- Rigmor: Oh my, look at the time! We have been so selfish keeping you up so late. Please forgive us. Malesam will arrange the introduction to the Imperial Library for you in the morning. Please do not hesitate to ask for anything to make your stay more comfortable. Goodnight for now Mathis and thanks once again for your help.
Rigmor was really good at this subtle manipulation stuff. Mathis just spilled the beans on his motive and she is not giving him the time to realise it.
We all stood and said our goodbyes then shuffled out with The Sentinel in tow.
When the door was closed and we were well out of earshot Malesam said, “Blackwell will meet us at Nafalilargus. I think we have much to discuss about our racist friend don’t you think?”
We met Blackwell in the cabin and sat at the table with the three Master Mages to discuss the situation.
- Wulf: If he is not of House Dagoth, the Sixth House, I will eat my socks.
- Blackwell: I concur. You were excellent at drawing him out my Queen.
- Rigmor: So the big clues are his dislike for Vivec’s teachings and his reference to another form of divine?
- Wulf: If you did not worship the Tribunal and are not a fan of the New Temple then that leaves Dagoth Ur. It is unknown how many of his descendants are still around.
- Blackwell: Even if not a descendant his worship could still be strong.
- Wulf: If Master Mage Vonos discovered his friend’s real purpose for seeking the Tools there may well have been an ending to the friendship. Even if the mage is not a believer in the Tribunal.
- Malesam: And we all believe his motive is to use them to somehow regain control of Morrowind. Kick out the Argonian. Probably dissolve the other Houses. Have House Dagoth rule over all.
- Wulf: The Tools themselves will be very powerful once recharged but not enough to accomplish all of that. He would want to go the next step.
- Malesam: Build a Numidium? Insane!
- Wulf: Insane but plausible if he had the Tools.
- Blackwell: So how do you want to proceed with this Majesties?
- Rigmor: Play along for now. Hopefully he does not suddenly realise he spilled the beans and runs away.
- Wulf: We need you and our Khajiit friend to dig up what you can on Mathis. If he is suspected of being House Dagoth or even a strong believer of Dagoth Ur we need to know.
- Blackwell: Baa’Ren-Dar has more operatives in better positions in Morrowind. His are more likely to know than mine. Our line of communication is extremely efficient. I will get onto it straight after this meeting.
- Wulf: Sorry to interrupt your midnight snacks but do any of you Master Mages know much about Master Mage Vonos?
- J’Zargo: This one is jealous of his skills in Illusion and Alteration. He is very secretive of his research and used to hide small things from this Khajiit.
- Brelyna: Speaking of which. If you do not return my ring of fire resistance I will test its effectiveness by setting alight to your tail.
- J’Zargo: Very well. When you are not looking it will mysteriously appear under your pillow.
- Wulf: I take it none of you were aware of his interest in the Dwemer? Then it seems like he has left that behind and is concentrating on his research. I will ask Tolfdir when I visit. Best to know him as well as I can before asking about the key.
- Rigmor: What about this Yassour in Raven Rock?
- Wulf: I want to make our visit as low profile as we can so I won’t visit Councillor Morvayn or Second Councillor Arano. I will head for The Retching Netch and if he is not there the owner Geldris will help without asking any awkward questions. If I wear my Imperial General uniform not many will approach me except maybe to abuse and spit on me.
- Rigmor: So you will just have to play it by ear with that one.
- Wulf: Yep.
- Blackwell: Well I think we all know what to do. It is very late so I suggest you get a rest before tackling this.
- Rigmor: Don’t worry, he is not going anywhere till the morning. His wife and daughter demand some snuggle time.
- Wulf: Not even born and bossing me around. The Divine have mercy and make Kintyra more laid back like me. Two Rigmors? Even the most evil Daedric Prince would not make me suffer so!
With laughter aplenty everybody dispersed and Rigmor and I headed to our room.
I quickly wrote this journal entry and joined my beloved for a cuddle and random discussions about nothing in particular.
I know not what time I fell asleep.
I know it was in the arms of my beloved as I wish it could always be.