NOTE: There are a lot of screenshots in this one. Unavoidable with such a complex dungeon.
Rigmor was feeling very restricted. Almost imprisoned you might say.
We were planning on having another day trip or two soon but my beloved was craving some adventure. The senior Priestesses of Mara insisted that Rigmor’s body was not responding well to the sedentary lifestyle imposed on her by our position as Emperor and Queen. That a bit of exercise and mental stimulation would help with her pregnancy.
So a week ago Rigmor and I informed Blackwell, Malesam and our other advisors we would be joining the Explorers Guild on their dig of Rkund. It is a Dwemer ruin that has never been explored according to all records found.
Blackwell asked us, “Why risk your lives on such trivial treasure hunting?”
Rigmor told him, “The archaeologists are positive there is Dwemer technology within the ruins that could benefit us. The danger to me is minimal as I will be surrounded by two squads of The Sentinel. In total there will be five Master Mages present. Wulf has finished putting the most powerful dweomers on my new armour. He has honed my sword and placed dweomers on it so now it is one of the best on Nirn. After he travelled to Lord Akatosh’s kiln and anvil a few days ago he gave me his old bow as he no longer needs it. I have spent the last month honing my marksman skills with the best trainers we have. We would fight an army so a few automatons are not a problem.”
Blackwell knew it was a lost cause arguing and therefore arranged everything so we could spend up to four days away without The Empire falling apart. We have also created an addition to Nafalilargus’ beacons so that if there was something that really needed our attention we would know and be able to travel to the Imperial City via the ether.
Yesterday I watched Rigmor’s lesson with one of the best marksman in the Legion. With my old bow in hand she was deadly. Angi would be proud.
Then I watched, along with a sizeable crowd, her sword exercise with two Blade Masters. She embarrassed them. Lydia was amongst the spectators and had been teaching sword and shield combat to Legion recruits. She used to do the same at my orphanages with the guards.
When Rigmor asked her to spar Lydia was worried she might hurt her friend, and Queen. As Rigmor pointed out to her, it was better for Lydia to find a hole in her defence than an enemy.
Their sparring drew an even larger crowd. Lydia was very well known as the warrior who stood beside me against Alduin and who had actually landed the killing blow. I was as transfixed as anybody as they traded blows and blocked with shield and sword at such speed there was no way any of it was thought, just reflex. People would gasp as one or the other would stop a killing blow within a hairs breath of doing damage as each found fault with the other’s defences.
I knew that Lydia was not holding back. My Queen would probably never face an opponent better than Lydia with sword and shield but even so any weakness in defence The Sentinel found was of real concern. Rigmor was getting frustrated with one manoeuvre she seemed to have no reliable defence against.
Jordis stepped forward and asked Rigmor is she would like to see her techniques for dealing with it. As her Queen watched Jordis and Lydia engaged in swordplay that was equally impressive. After Jordis countered Lydia’s manoeuvre on several occasions Rigmor asked to have a go.
Lydia soon discovered that Rigmor was a quick learner. Not only did she use Jordis’ techniques to counter the manoeuvre she added her own skill to turn defence into a deadly counter attack.
When they finally finished the large crowd watching broke into applause. The three ladies bowed and went off to the baths.
I was not worried about taking Rigmor on this little adventure. Long gone was the berserk almost suicidal Nordling I watched tackle wolves years before. She was more than competent with the bow and will have no need to engage with sword. If she does engage with the sword the armour I have given her would need more than a Dwemer automaton to cause damage.
We are taking two Sentinel squads with us plus the three new Master Mages sent from The College of Winterhold. The Skyrim Squad will accompany us into Rkund. The other squad will help guard the camp.
Auryen presented me with my new sword last time I visited the museum. The Sword of Tongues was made by somebody unknown from a metal not found elsewhere. It took Auryen years to track it down to a collector who had no idea what it was. In fact it was nothing special till I went to Sancre Tor and then via the portal to the Dragonsoul Forge where I converted dragon souls into Soul Ingots. With them I honed the sword and created a new bow. That is why the metal was unknown. There is only one place it exists and only Akatosh can give permission to be there.
The ‘Sword of the Tongues’ is much wider and slower to wield than ‘The Sword’ but does more damage and is still faster than 99% of the swords I have encountered. My new bow is marginally better than the one I have given Rigmor. Both are more powerful than any other I have encountered.
We arrived at Rkund just after 8:00AM. Rigmor was eager to get into the ruins.
“”What do you think we will find in there?” she asked.
“There is supposed to be some sort of soul gem converter and a thing called a ‘Transmutation Forge’ which, as far as I can tell, can make any object of a type look like another object of a type. So you could make an ebony chest plate look like a steel chest plate but it keeps all the extra strength of ebony.”
“That doesn’t sound overly useful!”
“Not as it is but with both of them the technology and dweomers involved might be useful for something else. Plus you never know what other lost or unknown Dwemer stuff we will find.”
“I suppose whatever we find is better in the hands of The Empire than some private collector or agents of our enemies, or potential enemies.”
“That is my main motivating factor. But if we also keep the minds of people such as those in the Explorers Guild ticking over it can only be good for the future.”
We made our way down the ladder and I walked back a bit to have a look at the entire camp. Meeko was now my partner in crime again. A few days ago he came bursting into the Throne Room in the middle of parley and sat at my feet. He ran all the way from the orphanage near Whiterun when he suddenly decided his holiday with the children was over. It was like he was reporting for duty as a four legged Sentinel. To be honest he is the best protection against Morag Tong I can think of. Apparently there is another dog that has turned up at the College of Winterhold that Tolfdir says is not quite what it seems. We might have two of the fleabags as guardsman soon.
The weather was freezing and I knew who would have an opinion on that. I approached Latoria busily chipping away at some buried artefact.
“What lovely weather! I can tell by your Skaal furs you agree.”
“Latoria thought that Windcaller Pass was cold. She can hardly stand this place! Her whiskers are frozen to her face.”
“Found anything useful?”
“Latoria only does this so she does not freeze in place and get mistaken for ancient statue.”
I approached Patero Marassi. A few days earlier I had a meeting with the guild members and we chose the most likely places to dig to find the entrance. He was busy looking at the survey map we had marked with three possible spots.
He handed it to me saying, “I can hardly wait to uncover the entrance to Rkund!”
“You mean you can hardly wait for Kyre, me and others to uncover the entrance.”
“Haha, yes! So get to it Majesty. Time is wasting.”
I looked at the first possible entrance then said to Rigmor, “It appears to be mostly loose rubble so a few hours of mainly moving stuff rather than digging.”
“I am going to see what the archaeologists can teach me about what they are doing. I see Latoria has already gathered some bits and pieces from her little dig.”
I walked back to the possible entrance and Kyre had already started chipping away to loosen some of the binding dirt.
As I joined him the sun broke through and shone where we worked.
“A Divine sign?” he asked.
“It is more likely to make it easier for them to see us while laughing from up there.”
Several others helped and in just over four hours it was clear there was no entrance to be found.
I said to Patero, “I will try the next spot on our list. At least it was not a total waste of time.”
“No, there are plenty of inscriptions for us to decipher. Perhaps our latest recruit might like to see how we do that?”
“I am sure as soon as she has finished her lunch she will be right over.”
“There were many more fragments uncovered during your digging. Maybe she can also help Latoria with those. Her Majesty seems to have good spatial knowledge. She holds up a fragment and twists it this way and that and often comes up with a plausible answer such as, ‘part of an amphora’ or ‘part of a statue’.”
“I think you will find many warriors have above average spatial knowledge. We tend to quickly look at the terrain or room and have an instant mental map of where things are. “
“That makes sense. I am glad she is enjoying this outing so far. Latoria has tried to talk her ears off but she still shows interest and is a quick learner.”
“Anything beats listening to supplicants in that damn throne room but yes, she is enjoying herself and I am also glad.”
I took a quick look at the next spot we would search for an entrance. This one was mainly deep snow over a layer of compacted rubble. It would probably take almost as long as the first to dig out and make any conclusions. Kyre and Lydia were already hard at work.
Latoria and Rigmor also came to look and I said, “At least four hours or so of digging and chipping away. ”
“Okay then. Latoria and I will get back to those jigsaw puzzles you dug up. She is an excellent source of gossip. It seems the Khajiit caravans are the most reliable reporters of news both major and minor.”
“Oh yes, only the Dov seems to enjoy chin wagging more. Have a look at how they transcribe the inscriptions as well. It is not hard to translate to Tamrielic once you understand some of the syntax.”
“I am sure it is easy for brains like yours. But I will have a look as, quote, ‘Anything beats listening to supplicants in that damn throne room.’”
“You have been practising lip reading again. That’s pretty good from that distance!”
“It is easier when I have spoken to the person before and am used to their body language.”
“Still, that was quite a feat. Be proud and do not belittle your achievements my beloved.”
“I will leave egotism and loving oneself to the Thalmor if you don’t mind. Now get digging!”
About four hours later we decided there was no entrance at this spot either. Rigmor and Latoria came up all excited as they had managed to put together half an urn and nearly complete Dwemer cup from the fragments.
“Well you will be glad to know we have recovered hundreds of fragments from here but no door I am afraid. Even Meeko got bored and abandoned me.”
Rigmor explained, “He ran out of camp and a while later brought back a brace of rabbits for dinner. I am going to help Lydia skin and clean them. I haven’t done that since living with Angi.”
“Throw the guts to Fleabag. That is what he wants in exchange for the bunnies.”
“Sounds like a good deal.”
Rigmor accompanied me to speak to Patero. I said to him, “No luck with that spot so we will try our third guess.”
“Funny you should say that. One of the inscriptions you uncovered this morning says, “…the mouth beneath the mountain.”
“Funny if you have not spent hours digging. But we chose that spot in case there had been an avalanche, which the first two suspected entrances showed great evidence of, but of a larger scale. It looks like half the mountain has landed there.”
Rigmor said, “You and Kyre start digging. In a few hours you can stop and I will have arranged for three Sentinel at a time to continue the dig. Hopefully by morning we will have dug far enough to know if an entrance is there or not.”
“Yes my Queen. As you command so shall it be!”
Kyre, Latoria and I dug till about 8:00PM then the first three Sentinel took over.
I sat at Nafalilargus’ dinging table with Rigmor and the three Master Mages. Empty plates were testament to the appreciation of the rabbits Meeko has hunted for us.
The three latest mages to be sent by the College to guard Rigmor are a mixed bunch.
Lentilus Batiatus is an Imperial Master Mage of Alteration. His family are very rich merchants from Cheydinhal. So rich his parents used their contacts to find and purchase one of the last Welkynd stones for their young and very talented but undisciplined son. So much confidence did their constant praise instil he thought he could succeed where countless others have failed. Eventually the Welkynd stone destroyed itself taking half the family mansion and one of his eyes with it. Nobody was killed and no other property was damaged. He took it as a warning and praised The Divines for their lesson. After that event he wisely joined the College of Winterhold where discipline and knowing ones limits are taught.
Onuja is a very taciturn Argonian Master Mage of Alteration. His life’s ambition is to prove the Hist can get it wrong. He was supposed to be a warrior but decided he wanted to be a mage. “That is like a fish wanting to fly!” his father had yelled at him. When the young Onuja had rushed over to his pile of books and came back with a picture of a flying fish he found himself and his private library bobbing around in the marsh waters next to his, now ex, place of residence. His trip through Skyrim on the way to Winterhold was not a pleasant experience so when he heard of Rigmor and me becoming Queen and Emperor he was keen to help those who championed his people against the prejudices of the Dunmer and Nords.
His experiences made the table a bit frosty with a lack of the usual banter. Nelysa was a Master Mage of Destruction and although she has never expressed any anti-Argonian sentiment her race was enough to offend Onuja. When she asked him how he stood it at the College when a large percentage of students and lecturers were also Dunmer Onuja answered, “I invented a dweomer to block out the smell.”
Nelysa laughed and I could tell she would eventually wear his wall of prejudice down. Neither Rigmor nor I were concerned. Many times we have seen such racial hatreds crumble quickly when reality and close proximity show they are based on stereotypes.
Onuja and Lentilus were also Masters of Destruction. It was a prerequisite for those sent to guard Rigmor.
Sentinel not digging were gathered around a large campfire with the archaeologists. The airship’s ladder was raised and four Master Destruction Mages were aboard including me. Nafalilargus was as safe a place for Rigmor as anywhere could be. The Sentinel deserved a chance for social interaction outside of what their duties normally provide.
Meeko was not only a great bunny hunter he was the best alarm I could think of. The many times he warned me of assassination attempts is proof of that. He has decided to sleep on deck despite the cold. No amount of words can convince him to change his mind when set. I doubt he felt the bitter winds and he would ignore any snow. If that is where he thought he should be to guard his family then we bow to his wisdom on such matters.
It was fairly late when Rigmor and I retired to our room. My Queen soon fell asleep and after writing the day’s journal entry I carefully crawled into bed beside her. Rigmor has thrived on doing something different. The shackles of leadership come with abundant boredom. We must do more things like this together.
I also quickly fell asleep within the cocoon of our quiet.
We had breakfast aboard and finally climbed down the ladder at about 8:00AM. The shadows of the mountains made it darker than the time suggested it should be.
An enthusiastic Patero said, “Majesties I have wonderful news! We’ve uncovered an entrance to Rkund! The passage leads directly into the main entrance hall of Rkund. It’s all we’ve been able to do to stop Madras running in all alone. He’s so excited. Pity you all had to do a day’s worth of digging around to find it.”
As everybody started to gather near the entrance I took the chance to confirm with Rigmor on how this would work.
“You will use your bow unless you have no other choice. You will not go running towards a battle with sword drawn. You will not touch anything shiny, pretty or just interesting. You will not argue with me when I tell, or yell, at you to do something. Instead you will immediately obey as if a raw recruit and I was your Sergeant Major. Agree or go sit in the airship.”
“Of course I agree. No need to get your underwear in a knot. I know both of us would like me to accompany you on other trips so I will not do anything to prevent that by being pig headed or impulsive. Relax my beloved and know I fully trust your instincts and experience.”
“What’s this? No ‘Pfft, yeah right!’ or other disagreement?”
Rigmor placed my hand on her stomach and said, “Not where the bump is concerned.”
We stood before the narrow entrance. I said to the team “Okay. It will be me up front followed by The Sentinel followed by Rigmor with the Explorers Guild at the rear. Absolutely nothing is to be picked up, moved or even touched without Latoria, Celestine or Myself checking for dweomer or traps. If I draw my weapon you all draw your weapons. If I say run you run even if I stand my ground. Let’s go!”
At first we squeezed through a narrow passageway.
It led to a very large entrance hallway and the main door to the complex. I put my hand up for silence and everybody immediately obeyed including Madras who to that point was enthusiastically pointing out features of the architecture. I warned, “I can hear automatons. Draw weapons!”
Everybody did so and we entered. Not only were we attacked by automatons but Falmer as well. Very rarely I have seen Falmer and the Dwemer machines peacefully co-existing. It looked like this was one place where they did.
My sword was covered in the blood of a Falmer. I congratulated the corpse on being the first to die from the devastating damage of my new blade. I studied another Falmer corpse and it had been undone by three of Rigmor’s arrows that were neatly grouped together.
I walked up and congratulated her, “From this distance that was marvellous marksmanship. To think a few months ago you couldn’t hit a mammoth from ten yards away.”
“I still prefer to cut things in half but I can see why Angi enjoys the bow so much. Less walking plus I get covered in far less entrails and blood.”
We entered a room with a large pit in the middle. It was guarded by several Tonal Architects. My new bow notched up its first kill.
We stared into the pit and saw a Dwemer cog on a pedestal. Even from this distance we could see grooves in the teeth that could only mesh with matching counterparts on another cog.
Madras suggested, “From this distance that looks like a ‘key cog’. They are used in combination with other gears to open something. So this will be the first of several we have to find. We won’t know how many till we find whatever it is they unlock.”
Latoria added, “You can slide down Majesty. Get the cog then we can pull you up with a rope.”
“No need Latoria. See the water under the grate. I guarantee as soon as I remove the cog the water will rise. Normally that would be a problem with somebody wearing armour and the designer of the trap would assume they would then drown. But the buoyancy and water breathing dweomers I have placed on my, Queen Rigmor’s and The Sentinel armours makes it fairly safe. I will just float up to re-join you.”
So I clambered down and stood in front of the pedestal.
As soon as I took the cog the water rushed in from somewhere underneath the grate.
I floated back up and stepped out of the water. Madras eagerly greeted me. I handed him the cog and he exclaimed, “Oh yes. This is definitely a key cog. See how the teeth are underscored with a seemingly random pattern.”
“Like the seemingly random pattern of a normal key. Ingenious and would make such locks very secure indeed!”
Madras took pride in my statement as if he had invented the thing himself. He really was keen on the Dwemer.
Any Falmer that crossed our path fell quickly to The Sentinel. Jordis’ two handed sword slowed down for neither armour nor bone.
We entered a very large cavern that had several levels of platform.
Meeko was carrying on about something and when I looked he had spotted a Falmer far below.
I knelt and took aim. My bow has unlimited ammunition and one of my ethereal arrows ended the Falmer’s life. Meeko was pleased with the result.
One of the platforms led to a door which had the unmistakable smell of sulphur coming from it.
To the left of the door was a receptacle for a Control Cube. I guessed it was to shut down any traps on the other side since the door appeared to be unlocked.
I said to everybody, “Let me enter this one alone. There is obviously magma inside and I can resist the temperature. So you are to remain here while I explore.”
I turned to The Sentinel and Rigmor, “You are to stay and guard the others. Hopefully I will not be long.”
Rigmor pleaded, “Do not take silly risks Wulf!”
I turned to Meeko, “Look after Rigmor.”
The look he gave me was the dog equivalent of “DUH!”
I entered the room. Below a grate was magma. Across the room was a lever with a retractable platform underneath. Looking up I could see several such retractable platforms and some gave the impression they may also pivot. They would come out for a short time then start to withdraw or turn to dump me into the magma.
I cast some extra protections and used the Dragon Aspect Shout. I would be safe from burning to a crisp but still, swimming in magma is not something I wished to do.
I pulled the lever and the platform underneath me started to withdraw into the wall. The magma quickly arose above the level of the grate. I used the Slow Time Shout to give me ample time to plan each leap that would be required to reach the top.
A dozen leaps later I was at the top. I pulled another lever which unlocked the doors behind me.
They were tall which made me wary there may be the larger automatons we call golems on the other side.
I opened them and slowly moved down a narrow corridor. Another key cog was sitting on a dais.
I cautiously approached it and nothing tried to attack me.
I took the key cog and heard a weird noise from below.
When I got to the edge I looked down. It appeared all platforms were now fully extended and locked in place. The magma had lowered to below the grate. I carefully made my way down.
When I got to the bottom I looked up. I don’t think many people would have been able to jump the platforms as I did. This chamber has probably caused the death of innumerable people since the Dwemer vanished.
I left the room and showed Madras the second key cog. He was more excited than a Thalmor stumbling across a Talos Supporter Club meeting.
We proceeded to explore the other ramps in the cavern. One led to some doors barred by a gate that was controlled remotely.
Another ramp led to the lock the key cogs were meant for. We have two and it looks like a third is required. We all agreed the lock most likely opened the gate on the previous ramp.
One ramp led down to a room full of Falmer.
My new bow soon put an end to them. Auryen stared at the carnage and asked, “Why do they attack when it is suicidal?”
I replied, “They can’t see when a comrade is killed Auryen.”
“Oh, I understand now. Good point!”
The room they were in led nowhere. It had many beds which the guild members found fascinating:
- Professor Marassi: Interesting, seems to be a common room of some kind.
- Madras: Yes, it’s a worker’s dorm. They would house the workers for a large project in rooms like this but I’ve never seen one so large before.
- Kyre: That is what Latoria said last night I was told.
- Rigmor: Oh, is there some gossip involving Latoria I have not yet heard.
- Kyre: Oh, you didn’t hear? Lucky for you then you were in that nice sound proof airship.
- Lydia: I am sure Latoria and Ghorbash just went for a quiet moonlight walk.
- Jordis: And spent half an hour rescuing some poor trapped animal screaming out in pain.
- Celestine: Who knew Ghorbash’s name and was calling it out in desperation.
- Iona: With a Khajiit accent.
Everybody but Latoria was laughing. She was busy trying to look anywhere but another person’s face. Eventually we all quietened down apart from the occasional snigger.
- Madras: Okay, let’s get back to the matter at hand.
- Kyre: Said the Orsimer to the Khajiit archaeologist.
Madras resorted to yelling over the laughter in case anybody was interested.
- Madras: USUALLY THESE DORMS WOULD HOUSE THREE OR FOUR MASTER ARTISANS BUT JUDGING BY THE NUMBER OF BEDS, THEY MUST HAVE HAD A DOZEN OR MORE.
- Latoria: IT MUST HAVE BEEN A VERY LARGE PROJECT THEY WERE HERE FOR!
- Kyre: WHAT WAS VERY LARGE LATORIA?
I allowed another couple of minutes of laughter then used the Thu’um to gently announce, “THIS ROOM LEADS NOWHERE. LET’S BACKTRACK AND KEEP THE NOISE DOWN FROM NOW ON.”
One passage was completely blocked by large granite boulders. It would take weeks to chip away to see if it led anywhere so we ignored it for now.
We decided to take the downward ramp that led to the Falmer I killed earlier.
We found a narrow tunnel and in the cavern at the end of it some Falmer attacked the rear of the group. For the first time since the end of the march to the Imperial City Rigmor used a sword in combat. She dispatched two Falmer and an automaton before anybody else reached her. She cleaned her sword, sheathed it and smiled.
We encountered a door and I signalled for quiet. I could hear nohting but we drew our weapons anyway.
After entering the archaeologists almost wet their pants with excitement.
- Kyre: That is really quite amazing. Is it some kind of Dwemer sculpture or something?
- Latoria: What a genius. Yes, it is something. Nothing looks completely different.
- Kyre: No need to be catty.
- Madras: No Kyre, it is not a sculpture. Everything made by the Dwemer served a functional purpose. Form follows function you know.
- Wulf: If you read my report from Evermore you would know that to be untrue. One ruin had a sculpture of Dwemer and slave Falmer. It also had a huge sculpture of a Snow Elf.
- Madras: Of course, I stand corrected. But this is a Dwemer Puzzle Lock. I’ve only seen one other before, in Morrowind in fact, but it was nowhere near as large and complex as this.
- Wulf: I have been in dozens of Dwemer ruins and never seen the like.
- Madras: Oh, what fun, I can hardly wait to see what it does!
- Wulf: Okay, let us have a look. Nobody, and that includes our favourite Queen, is to touch any buttons or pull any levers or move any objects. If there is a puzzle to be solved leave it to me. If I want advice I will ask for it. Giving unasked for advice is the best way of breaking my concentration.
The only things on the raised platform that overlooked the puzzle were twelve buttons.
I stared at the puzzle pieces for a few seconds then said, “The pieces must combine to make a large cog with eight teeth. Here goes…”
I experimented by pushing each button in turn and watched what pieces moved and to where. Then I paused and figured out the sequence mentally.
I could see by the face of the others they thought I had lost my way after a series of rapid button pushes.
Then one button later everything slid into place.
A pillar with the last key cog appeared.
I grabbed it and nothing nasty jumped out to attack us so we made our way back to the ramps.
We climbed the ramp to the lock.
I placed the first two key cogs then said, “Everybody quiet. This last key cog will unlock something so listen for where any noise comes from.”
I placed the key, the cogs turned a revolution and then we heard a gate opening a bit higher up and to the right. As we thought this was to open the gate in front of the door we encountered earlier.
While we were elsewhere two Falmer had placed themselves before the door. They soon died.
We stood before the door and I advised, “Weapons drawn. Whatever is inside must be important to have such an elaborate lock. Important usually means big nasty guards with gnashing teeth and bad breath.”
Lydia quipped, “Is this where you got Calder and Argus from?”
We entered the room and it was very dark. I could not make out much detail. We waited for our eyes to adjust then continued. A few steps in the banter started again:
- Latoria: Oh! Latoria was just thinking, she should probably wait outside for you.
- Kyre: Why, Ghorbash will still be there when we get back.
- Latoria: That is not the reason. Latoria is just scared she is.
- Rigmor: Come on my brave friend. There could be something amazing up ahead!
- Latoria: Latoria would be too scared to find out!
- Rigmor: Then just stand here and we will look for you.
- Latoria: Latoria would just as soon wait outside.
- Rigmor: Why is that?
- Latoria: Because she is still scared! AHHH!
- Madras: Why yell? What is the matter now?
- Latoria: Something pulled Latoria’s tail!
- Kyre: Sorry, that was me. Just checking for damage. Something must be hurting the funny way you have been walking.
- Latoria: I will bite and scratch you and nobody will blame me.
- Wulf: Kyre, back off. Your obsession suggests you need to get some action yourself.
- Rigmor: Kyre, in case you misunderstood, your Emperor just told you to get…
- Kyre: …yes my Queen. I know what he just said.
- Wulf: Everybody has been so busy wagging their chins they have failed to see what is important about this room. Stand where you are and take a look.
They all started looking up and down, pivoting on the spot and some even knelt. Eventually Rigmor gasped then exclaimed, “Oh my Wulf. The sarcophagus on the central platform is for a child!”
“Yes my beloved. This room was built to honour a deceased child. A pain for the parents I can only imagine.”
I walked up, placed my hand on the sarcophagus then said, “Sorry if we have disturbed your rest little one. We will be going now.”
As I stepped back from it a giant floating head said with a booming voice and in ancient Dwemer.
“I AM KAZ! THE GREAT AND POWERFUL! WHO ARE YOU? BEGONE FROM THIS PLACE OR YOU SURRENDER YOUR LIVES!”
I interpreted for the ones who could not understand the language and Latoria almost ran away with fright. She stayed when Rigmor showed no fear and placed a hand on the Khajiit’s shoulder.
“Do not worry Latoria. It is just an illusion to scare off superstitious grave robbers.” I told her.
The giant head started to fade.
Some gates opened. Flames shot to the ceiling.
Then a tiny automaton appeared.
The flames went out and it stood at the top of the stairs.
I asked Madras, “Didn’t that inscription we found say that the treasure of Karagas is guarded by a terrible guardian?”
“Yes it did indeed.”
Rigmor said, “The treasure of Karagas is his child. This must their little companion. That little automaton has stood guard ever since. It has been loyal even after death.”
The automaton made its way down the stairs and stood before Madras who exclaimed, “Huh, seems to be taking a liking to me.”
He knelt down to talk to the automaton, “You want to come along with me little fella? You do? Well, all right. I think I’ll call you Eggelman. You like that Eggelman? Great!”
I said to everybody, “This room looks safe enough. Take a look around but show some respect as this is the mausoleum of a beloved child.”
Everybody was respectful and though much treasure could be seen in chests and on tables none was removed. The only thing I took was a Dwemer Control Cube.
In the middle of one of the walls was a door with a locked gate and a mechanism for the cube to the left of it.
I inserted the cube and the gate opened. I then retrieved the cube and it stayed open.
We entered the room and in its centre was a Dwemer Sunken Stairway similar to others I have encountered before.
I tried the Attunement Sphere I always carried around and it did not work.
“Damn! This sphere has worked on every one before. It must require a specially made one.”
Madras pointed to two entrances and enthusiastically replied, “That has to be Karagas’ infamous maze! It is probably hidden somewhere within it!”
“A maze! I love mazes! Have you tried the big topiary one in the Imperial City Wulf?” asked Rigmor.
“After the one where I had to kill my brother Minotaur and the other where I could not escape The Void till you left me the trail of flowers I have a real and deep hatred for the things. If I had the chance I would go back in time and hold any architect who put them in a complex such as this over a low flame while they slowly roasted.”
“I’ll take that as a ‘no’ then.”
Madras’ enthusiasm often makes him deaf to anything else thus he happily continued, “He built the maze to secure his research tower deep within the city. No telling what is in there.”
“Oh goody I cannot wait to start it. It may be dangerous. Well, being Dwemer it will be dangerous. So I will take The Sentinel and Meeko. Rigmor and the Explorers are to remain here.”
Rigmor stood before me with hands on her hips, “With all due respect Majesty. That is not going to happen. You want to leave me behind on the most exciting part of the dig? Think again!”
A wise man knows when faced with an unbeatable foe you either run or surrender.
“Okay my beloved but this time you walk behind me with The Sentinel behind us. Fleabag can run ahead and find the traps and other nasties for us.”
There were two doorways to the maze. I chose the left.
I could fill this journal with pages of boring prose describing the boring maze full of boring enemies but that would be cruel to me and any historian reading this.
For hours we fought the boring creatures including skeletons, Draugr and automatons.
I safely set off dozens of boring glyph traps that were visible to me, Celestine and, because he is a dog that is not a dog, Meeko. They would have eventually worn down and killed anybody not skilled in magicka.
I set alight to several clouds of boring poisonous gas.
We had to virtually try to pull, push and twist every torch sconce we encountered as some, that looked no different than the others, opened hidden doorways. I cannot even begin to explain how riveting that was.
Eventually we could see the exit and I exclaimed to the others, “Thank The Divine that is over. I used to really hate mazes. Now I really really hate them!”
We stepped out onto a balcony. At the other end of a large cavern was Karagas’ Tower. It was guarded by a very large floating automaton of a type I had never seen before.
Between us and the tower was another maze.
“Oh fuck!” said I.
“Oh goody!” said Rigmor.
“KABOOM!” said the huge fireballs being hurled at us from the other side of the cavern.
We ran down a ramp to ground level and the fireballs stopped. They were designed to prevent anybody on the balcony from taking advantage of the height and memorizing or sketching the maze. The few seconds I had were enough for me to mentally map the route through it.
“Sorry Rigmor. This is going to seem like one long, boring and twisty corridor as I know my way through it.”
“You are a Party Pooper!”
“Emperor Party Pooper the First at your service Queen Grumpy Arse.”
We quickly made our way through the maze and snuck up to the automaton. After my first arrow hit it became impervious to all others.
It came at us fast and enraged. It took some time to bring it down with our swords.
Within its twisted remains I found the Attunement Sphere.
I also noticed something shocking and Madras was stunned. It was not really an automaton. It was a malformed Dwemer in armour!
The door to the tower had a slot for the sphere to its right.
I inserted the sphere and the door unlocked. I then retrieved the sphere.
The door let to an intersection. Immediately ahead was Karagas’ Transmutation Forge.
I could see its purpose during wartime if you wished to disguise expensive and/or special items as normal items. i.e. Take my father’s armour and make it look like normal steel armour. The real treasure for The Empire was the technology and dweomer used to do such things. It is what we came here to find and then study.
We headed down the left hand corridor.
A room to the left was a laboratory with the usual apparatus any self-respecting mage would own.
The apothecary table reminded me of Allie’s hut on Roscrea.
The only unusual item in the room was what Madras called a ‘Crystalline Repository’.
Within it you can store numerous empty and full soul gems. Then it can fill up a larger soul gem by combining the souls in smaller soul gems. Very useful if you never use the smaller ones for anything but find lots of them on your travels. I found so many of the larger soul gems it was not of much use to me.
On a table was a Dwemer Schematic. I took it in case Madras can make use of it.
Further along the corridor was a door.
It led to some stairs going down to another level in the tower.
We could feel heat emanating from the door at the bottom of the stairs.
When we entered the room we found it to be a smithy and armoury. Nothing interesting was found.
We headed back and took the right hand corridor.
It led to a living room.
The ‘Tonal Staff of Karagas’ was in a display rack. It is a great addition to the museum.
There was a treasure room that would take days to sort through. I have full confidence on the Explorers Guild members. They will sort through it all and the gold and other items given to me. Anything worthwhile to the museum will be catalogued and either the original or copy will go on display.
At the end of the right hand corridor was a door.
It led to stairs going up higher in the tower.
There was a door at the top of the stairs.
That led to a bedroom.
A door off the bedroom…
…lead to another part of the Transmutation Forge.
An archway from the bedroom gave access to a teleport machine.
It was activated by touching a control cube.
I said to the others, “I do not know if this only teleports one at a time or everybody in the room. Just touch the control cube to join me if it is singular.”
I touched the control cube and we all appeared in a very narrow room and were constantly saying sorry as we stood on each other’s toes.
I placed the Attunement Sphere in a receptacle.
A stairway appeared.
It led us to the where the archealogists were waiting for us.
“As you can see we made it through the mazes.”
“Oh by the Aedra and the Daedra please tell me you found something fantastic!” pleaded Madras.
“Don’t you want to know about the mazes first?”
“I bet they were special. What did you think of them?”
“Majesty, I advise you stick to being Emperor. Comedy is not your forte.”
“I think I found the Transmutation Forge but when I pressed a couple of buttons it exploded. I can show you the molten lump that is left if you wish.”
Madras’ looked crestfallen and tears appeared from underneath his stupid looking Dwemer goggles.
I felt pity and said, “Just a jest Madras. I can take you to see it unharmed and in full working order.”
Madras’ mood instantly changed to elation. He gushed to the stupid little head with legs he adopted, “Oh me, oh my Eggelman! Did you hear that? Oh please take us to it as I can’t wait a moment longer.”
“Try not to explode with excitement for a minute. Please have a look at these schematics I found.”
“Oh, these do look fascinating but there is no way I can concentrate on them right now.”
“I understand. When you are back at headquarters I will bring them to you. Follow after Rigmor and The Sentinel. No running ahead or I will paralyse you and then you will be the last to see the machine.”
We all travelled through the teleporter then to the room with the Transmutation Forge. Madras was almost overcome with excitement.
- Madras: And I thought it was just a myth!
- Wulf: Well, as a Master of Illusion I can assure you it is real. Try banging your head against the metal bits and see if you agree.
- Madras: Oh, my! I believe you but I can hardly believe my own eyes. Well, it’s official. I can happily die right here, right now. This is truly amazing!
- Wulf: Since you are not one of my citizens I can’t order you not to die. But as Guild Master I can threaten to end your contract if you do. You would be an unemployed corpse. Probably have to go work in some dreary Nord dungeon with a Draugr foreman.
- Madras: Your humour can be very…
- Rigmor: …droll! Extremely droll! Excessively droll! Stupendously droll! Probably the drolliest droll that has ever been droll!
- Madras: But you are right Majesty. This is indeed Karagas’ Transmutation Forge.
- Latoria: What does it do?
- Madras: It can reshape one item to look like another.
- Latoria: Why would you do that?
- Rigmor: Remember the Emperor’s gold armour? That belonged to his father and is very powerful so any enemy would like to get their hands on it. But it also has great sentimental value to Wulf. So this machine could make it look like boring everyday ebony armour like Kyre is wearing and nobody would want to steal it.
- Kyre: Hey, this armour cost me half a year’s wages!
- Wulf: I have at least a dozen sets sitting in storage. You could have asked and it would not have cost a cent.
As Kyre’s mouth hung open the others had a good laugh.
- Rigmor: You can only transform like for like according to Wulf. But he often gets things wrong.
- Wulf: Yep. Made a shitty choice for Queen. I wonder if I can trade her in for a new model?
- Latoria: I see, so you would put the original piece in one of those receptacles and the item you want it to look like in another. Push that button and you have two items that look the same but the powers of the artefact are maintained.
- Madras: Correct. Not just a scaredy cat after all!
- Auryen: It is certainly a most fantastic find and one worthy of a fitting display.
- Wulf: I suppose all of you wish to remain and explore some more? We have killed all the nasties outside and there were none in this tower anyway.
- Kyre: Yes, we should make sure and have a good look around in case we missed anything before heading back.
- Madras: Head back? Are you kidding? I don’t intend to ever leave this place again. Is there a bed in the tower somewhere?
- Rigmor: Yes but I would change the sheets. A bit musty after all these years. Probably has the five hundredth generation of bed bugs waiting for their chance of a good meal.
- Madras: So I can stay! Well, for a few days anyway. I have a lot to study here. Including that dead mutated Dwemer!
- Wulf: You take all the time you need Madras. We will leave you now to do your cataloguing and whatever.
- Rigmor: Thanks for all your hospitality and I have really enjoyed learning what you taught me. There is one thing though. If you ever come across another Dwemer maze let me know. That was the best thing of all!
- Wulf: You are a weird! Have I ever told you that?
We shook hands and hugged the archaeologists and made our way out to the camp.
It did not take us long to pack up The Sentinel tents and we were soon aboard Nafalilargus.
I addressed The Sentinel and mages, “Okay everybody. You all did well and at no time did I feel unsafe on this trip. To the squad who did not come with us into the ruins. If you stared at a rock you would have had more excitement. It was just boring Dwemer stuff with boring mazes to make it even more tedious.”
Rigmor said, “On the other hand I found it, to quote Latoria, most exciting. So I thank you all for helping make this outing possible.”
Onuja volunteered to make the ether jump to Bruma. Rigmor is to be dropped off there and I will travel to the Imperial City. It will be just past midday when I get there and even though no sitting parley will be needed there is much for me to sign and decisions to be made.
Rigmor and I sat with the others and for two hours Rigmor discussed the things she has seen and learnt.
Hopefully I can take her on another expedition soon. This has been good for her. Plus I get to spend time with my wife and the bump.
That is worth more than all the treasures on Nirn.