All over Skyrim: Relics of the Divine Crusader.
I got out of bed at 6:00AM and was aboard Nafalilargus by 7:00AM
First stop was the Dragonborn Gallery. I wanted to quickly discuss the Dwemer schematics I found in Rkund last week with Madras. Nelysa did the ether travel while I looked through my journals and refreshed my memory on some of the places we will need to visit to get Pelinal’s relics.
Whilst deep in thought and my usual defences relaxed I was startled by Talvas who coughed loudly behind me.
I stood and had my sword at his neck before realising who it was.
I sheathed my weapon and apologised to the wide eyed and shaking Master Mage, “Sorry Talvas. I should have sensed you approaching. It is not often I let my guard down so. Maybe I have gotten too complacent aboard this vessel. I probably got used to Meeko’s vigilance as well. He and Karla, our new ‘dog that isn’t a dog’ are with Rigmor back home.”
“Early on in our Sentinel training we were warned to make noise when approaching you. Perhaps I have also got too used to the more relaxed mood of this airship.”
“Yes, Blackwell added that to the training after almost losing his head several times.”
“I often get the impression he was something more than a politician once.”
“He most probably was but I have never probed. Anyway, what did you need me for?”
“I have this sealed letter for you from Lord Neloth. He sent it inside a larger envelope addressed to me. I assume he hoped to get it to your attention faster this way.”
“You are probably right. But I read much faster than normal and all correspondence passes my eyes or those of Rigmor that are addressed to the Emperor or Queen. Wait here while I read it. If I can I will let you know the contents.”
Talvas stood quietly while I removed the dweomer on Neloth’s seal and opened the envelope. The dweomer would have made the whole thing go up in flames and was not unexpected from a paranoid member of House Telvanni. The letter was written in Dunmeris and read,
“I would have told you this personally if you had bothered visiting.
But no, you go around collecting valuable relics and wiping out those Morag Tong vermin and do not have the decency to say hello to your sponsor.
As soon as I heard you were to be Emperor I personally risked my life delivering the paperwork to Vvardenfell and made you part of House Telvanni. So many enemies and I have not been back into that hornet’s nest for centuries! Oh well, a few less now after they bothered me. And you have made it far more expensive for them to hire Morag Tong for work on Solstheim so I suppose that mitigates your insult somewhat.
‘But I did not even visit the Councillor’ you will whine to yourself.
That would be foolish outsider thinking to compare the importance of a House Redoran Councillor with that of a Telvanni Wizard-Lord.
But I digress and this is what I wanted to tell you.
There is another Black Book inside Scourg Barrow within the Dragontail Mountains.
The fact it is still there after centuries of that place being the headquarters for the local Necromancers tells even the dim witted there must be much protection surrounding it.
It would also be of undoubted interest to those who practice the black arts so is probably better in your hands than theirs.
I know you know I did not tell you this due to any concern about the Necromancers. But it does give you extra incentive to get it now doesn’t it?
The usual deal applies. Find it and let me make a copy and try not to die or go mad as there may be others need retrieving.
Mind you the last mad Emperor was quite amusing.
Emperor Wulf Septim? It is not too late to change that to Emperor Wulf Telvanni you know!
I hope my apprentice you stole has not blown up anything important.
Neloth, Wizard Lord of House Telvanni.”
I handed the letter to Talvas who read it then grumbled, “Only once did I make a mistake and destroy that room in his house and he never stops harking on about it!”
“We did keep your accident with the Ash Guardian secret. Imagine if he had that to add to his list of complaints!”
“I suppose I am lucky he never asked me to make that damn Canis Root Tea of his.”
“He is the only person I have ever heard express a desire for apple cabbage stew. Lydia adores him for that single reason.”
“So are we to travel to this Scourge Barrow?”
“It is in Hammerfell but nobody lives around that part anymore. After we have done the task given me by the Gods we will visit it.”
We arrived in Solitude just after 9:00AM.
We entered the museum and soon found Madras. All we had to do was follow the annoying noises coming from that tiny automaton he has adopted.
I handed him the Schematics and asked, “To me they look like a blueprint for a planetarium. What do you make of them?”
“Oh Eggelman, do you see this? The Emperor is right. These schematics show how to construct a Dwemer Planetarium!”
“We have that spare room just up the corridor on the right. It is pretty tall and large. Do you think this would fit in there?”
“Oh yes. A bit of work to get the dome on top but the rest is just fiddly with lots of moving parts.”
“I have placed a huge amount of Dwemer material in storage over the years. Is it sufficient?”
“Let see, lots of gears, cogs, gyros, more dynamo cores than you can shake a stick at. Yes, I think we have enough in storage. I will start construction straight away!”
“How long do you think it will take? I am sure Rigmor would love to help open the exhibit.”
“Come and see us in a week and we might be close.”
“Is Auryen around?”
“No, he has gone to visit some collector in Windhelm who may have items we want.”
We left and boarded Nafalilargus.
I plotted the course to Winterhold, went on deck and set the ether travel in motion.
As soon as we arrived in Winterhold I manually flew us over the ice and snow to the Tower Stone.
Nearby I saw a Knights of the Nine banner and skeletal remains. I stopped the airship then we climbed down to investigate.
Visits to the Standing Stones of Skyrim are often undertaken by pilgrims and others. Most animals that have fallen in these frozen wastelands do not rot but become mummified and emancipated but complete corpses.
So the two questions my inquisitive mind asked aloud were, “Why hasn’t anybody else seen the dirty great big banner and investigated and why has Rieliton been skeletonised?”
Khajro answered, “Why does such a smart person who deals with weird things all the time ask such rhetorical questions?”
“True my whiskered friend. I should have learnt by now.”
Within a small lockbox that needed all my skill to pick was Sir Amiel’s ring. When I touched it I could feel the presence of my mother the same as the gold ring she left me in Allie’s hut. It was of a most peculiar shape.
There was a book on the history of the Knights next to Rieliton. In a chest nearby was a note which I read aloud,
“We have been set upon at every turn, but thus far we have been able to thwart the Thalmor efforts of obtaining the relics of the Divine Crusader. As far as I know my brothers and sisters have all fallen at their hand but something tells me they have achieved their goal and the relics are safe at last.
It would be good to have an Emperor of a bloodline that would value the relics but alas Sethius is not worthy or trustworthy.
Should the Thalmor happen upon the chests there is no power short of the Divines which can open them apart from the ring I bear. I will keep it safely locked away here and hold the banner as long as possible but I fear that the elements will overcome me before help arrives and even before the Thalmor could find me. My only hope is that whoever discovers this ring will safeguard it, for it is the key to legacy of Pelinal Whitestrake and the Order of the Nine.
Divines protect me…”
Kharjo said, “My turn for rhetorical questions. If the Skooma Cat is attuned to the weapons why has he not sent some followers out to find them before they were put in the chests by Rieliton and his colleagues? If Rieliton expected help to arrive surely it would have come even after his death?”
“I wonder what wonderful torture Sheogorath would invent if I called him Skooma Cat? Sheogorath does not really have full time mortal minions. If you catch his attention you may be unfortunate to be recruited by him and unlike the other Daedric Lords he manages to deposit you in a pocket realm where he can also visit. So you have no choice but to obey as it is no longer whispers in the ear but your life and soul as persuasion tools. He may have sent such minions who proved incapable of the task and lost interest. He is now aware of me and would not hesitate to ask somebody capable of the retrieval to do so. Ask as in demand.”
“So do you think he will interfere once you uncover the first relic?”
“No. He will figure out it is me and be happy that my aim is to gather them all together again. That is what instinct tells me but he is insane. It really does not matter as long as I am successful at the gathering and do not converse with him too much. It is also conjecture on how much of the Hero of Kvatch still exists within. Sheogorath is still Jyggalag. Sheogorath is a manifestation of the emotions the sane God has suppressed. The Hero of Kvatch was a handy soul and mind to deposit those things into. We do not think of them as being two separate Daedric Princes. Just one divided.”
“Like that demon you encountered in Evermore.”
“Yes! Until my dream I was unsure as to the accuracy of some histories that mention this fate of the Hero of Kvatch. Now that it is confirmed the comparison is valid up to a point. That demon still had only one soul.”
“And Rieliton’s expected help?”
“Without knowing the precise dates of their attempts to hide the relics take your pick. The Civil War or the closed borders from Cyrodiil or the little war Rigmor and I just won. You can add bandits, random Dragon attacks, lost messages etc. Basically I have no idea.”
“Do you wish us to gather his remains?”
I spoke to The Sentinel, “Please gather this brave man’s remains and place them in the chest. Put them in storage aboard Nafalilargus and when the opportunity arises I will deliver them to the Priests of Arkay for internment.”
When they had completed that they stayed in the warmth of the cabin while I flew us to the Nightgate Inn.
I anchored the airship next to the lake which was, surprisingly, not frozen over.
When we entered the small village we found it under siege from well-armed and skilful bandits.
With the aid of local Legionnaires we dispatched about a dozen of them. I then healed some injured residents. As usual their Emperor bothering to not only fight the bandits but also cast healing seemed to be of more importance than the fact bandits just attacked.
The inn is not in the most picturesque part of Skyrim and the weather is rarely pleasant. Still, the town residents are happy and the inn has a good atmosphere.
We entered the inn and only one thing had changed since I last visited it as a wandering bard. The innkeeper had adopted a young boy called Terhor from one of my orphanages.
After the initial shock of his Emperor walking in through the door Hadring the innkeeper relaxed when he recognised me.
“Here to do a few songs for us? I would wait for the lunchtime crowd to wander in if you are hoping to earn a few more septims.”
“If I had time I would Hadring. Young Terhor had quite the voice if I remember.”
“That was before his gonads dropped. Now he sounds like a nightingale one minute and an orc with a sore throat another. I know you would like to say hello to him but he is embarrassed about his voice so…”
I waved to Terhor and he gave a big smile and waved back.
“You are a good man to take him in.”
“It was not all sympathy at first Majesty. I needed help with the inn and hopefully somebody who would take it over when I left this mortal world. But he is a terrific young man and I am proud to have my surname now be his.”
“As you can guess I do not just randomly visit my favourite inns.”
The Sentinel laughed as one at that remark.
“Okay, except for two in Cyrodiil. I am looking for a chest that nobody can open. It may have been left here a few years ago.”
“It is in the far right hand corner of the cellar. I have tried to forget about it over the years. It is bad enough having one secret down there.”
“Is Balagog gro-Nolob still down there? Or should I say ‘The Gourmet’.”
“How did you know that? Never mind. He has a ton of gold and sometimes cooks for the inn. I often get complemented on the best stew people have ever tasted. If he wishes to live in my cellar I am quite happy to let him, for the right fee of course. He says it is convenient to a lot of the haughty people’s estates he cooks for. He did complain about the Thalmor embassy being vacated though.”
“Never mind the racism when the gold is good. It is a very common practicality. Thank you for your help Hadring. I will go and empty that chest for you. And, because you are dying to know but too polite to ask, it contains the Shield of The Divine Crusader, Pelinal Whitestrake, Champion of Saint Alessia and one of the most hated figures of our Thalmor friends. They have killed many good men and women searching for it. Tell the chef that next time he whinges about the embassy.”
I left Hadring with his mouth open and a stupefied look on his face.
When we entered the cellar Balagog was walking from the corner where the chest was. I can imagine it was more of a constant curiosity to him than the innkeeper. It was there, in the same room where he spent much of his day.
As we passed him he bowed low and I said to him, “Don’t worry about what is in the chest. There are no recipes for Uncommon Taste II within.”
He fell on his rump with shock then quickly scrambled to his feet. He headed for his room and slammed the door behind him.
Borgakh laughed then said, “Why did you scare him away Wulf? I liked the bulge in his pants.”
“What, his coin purse? Since when have you cared about gold?”
“No, the bulge that was not there till he saw me.”
“Well the rest of us could go upstairs while you engage in a quick tryst. However we can’t afford the three or four hours that would take.”
We were all laughing whilst stood before the chest.
“See the lock? That explains the strange shape of the ring.”
I inserted the ring’s jewel into the keyhole then turned it. The latch clicked open. Within was the Shield of the Divine Crusader. It was made by Julianos and capable of reflecting most harmful spells back on the caster. It was stunning in its quality.
I quickly showed Hadring and Terhor the shield on the way out. They were in awe and the tale will be told many times over the years I am sure.
We returned to Nafalilargus then I flew us close to Ragnvald.
We paused in front of the entrance and I said to The Sentinel, “This is an old Nordic Ruin that once housed the Dragon Priest called ‘Otar the Mad’. I destroyed him years ago and most of his attending Draugr. It should be pretty empty.”
When I first visited Ragnvald the Draugr were numerous from the entrance onwards. It now seemed deserted.
We made our way to the entrance of the canal and I warned, “I did not have to travel through this last time. There may be Draugr in here.”
We cautiously made our way through the frigid water.
Surprisingly we did not encounter a single Draugr so soon found the chest.
I opened it and within were the Gauntlets of the Divine Crusader. They were made by Stendarr and provide bonuses to Restoration and some resistance to disease. They too were of stunning quality.
Everybody had a quick look at them then we proceeded without conflict back to the airship.
I set the course for Solitude then went on deck to do the ether travel.
When we arrived we quickly made our way to the Temple of The Divines. Of all the places I randomly visit, Solitude is the one most likely to provide crowds that hinder progress. When I saw Rorlund the High Priest from a distance something struck me about the robes he was wearing.
I sent two Sentinel back to the airship to retrieve the remains of Rieliton. They would then wait for us outside the Hall of the Dead.
When we approached the High Priest I was certain I had seen such robes before but where that may have been escaped me.
Rorlund bowed, straightened then exclaimed, “My Majesty, it is always an honour to have you visit this home of our Gods.”
“It is good to see you High Priest. This truly is home of our Gods since I put my own shrine of Talos in its rightful place.”
I touched the shrine I had placed years before and felt my father’s blessing.
“The Thalmor at the Embassy were incensed and ordered the then Jarl Elisif the Fair to get it removed immediately or they would remove it.” explained Rorlund.
“Yes, her Highness is proud of the way she told them to get, umm, fornicated is appropriate within the temple I think. She then assigned troops with orders to arrest any Thalmor who tried to remove the shrine. Many think that action ensured she would be voted as High Queen at the moot but she was destined for that honour anyway. She was and is loved even by those who followed Ulfric.”
“Never a truer thing said Majesty.”
“May I ask where you purchased those robes from?”
“They appeared one morning a few months ago in front of the Talos shrine. Two robes each for me, Silana and Freir. They are perfectly tailored as if we went for a fitting. We cannot figure out what the material is. Like silk but it never stains. Have you seen the like before?”
“I feel like I have but cannot recall where. I do know they are called the Robes of the Divines. I think you should regard them as a reward for keeping The Nine close to your heart when forced to publicly worship The Eight.”
“You know what The Divines are capable of more than me so I will take your word for it. We appreciate the gift whoever it was from.”
“I am here about that mysterious chest you have. I remember looking at it when I visited to place my shrine. What can you tell me about it?”
“A man and woman dragged it in here just before then. They were dirty and ragged and very frightened. They told us it contained a relic created by a Divine. We agreed to place it where it now sits and they were never seen again.”
“It does indeed contain a Divine made relic and it appears they paid for their lives keeping it from the Thalmor. Come and see as I open it.”
The High Priest accompanied us to the chest. I showed him the ring and explained, “This belonged to Sir Amiel Lannus and is blessed by Saint Alessia. It is the only thing that can open this chest and others like it.”
I used it to unlock the chest. Within was the Sword of the Divine Crusader. Made by Arkay and damages by fire as well as draining Magicka. Needless to say it was of superb craftsmanship.
I handed it to Rorlund who held it like it was fragile crystal, not a sword of war.
“Is it truly the sword made by Arkay? I am in awe to hold something of the Gods.”
“You had the same reaction when I passed my father’s coin to you.”
Rorlund handed Pelinal’s sword back, bowed once again then straightened with tears in his eyes.
“You truly are The Champion of The Divines and I am blessed to see such a champion of our faith. You spoke of how the people love High Queen Elisif. Even though you and High Queen Rigmor are remote in distance the people have learned to love you two as much. All three of you demonstrate how the Ten Commandments can better the lives for all when followed. You demonstrate what can be accomplished with strong and true faith.”
“We will all need such faith in the years to come Rorlund. We will be truly tested by the powers of darkness. You and your family will be on the front lines against the enemy as much as any soldier. Not out in the mud and blood and guts of the battlefield but here amongst the widows and widowers, orphans and displaced. The very kind of people the Daedric Princes prey upon with whispers and promises. You have to help them keep their faith in The Divines. Same as other religious leaders must help the Khajiit and Dunmer and Redguard and Argonian. If we lose on the battlefield we have still not lost the war until people believe the lies of the Dark Lords.”
Just then some citizens came into prey and we left the temple quietly.
We made our way to the Hall of the Dead with no delay thanks to rows of Legionnaires and City Guards keeping the crowds at bay. I had to do the waving and occasional greeting the people expected. I never found doing such as anything but pleasurable and never a burden.
I entered the hall with two Sentinel behind me carrying the chest. The Priest of Arkay, Styrr, had heard the commotion outside so was not surprised to see the Emperor in his hall.
He bowed, straightened and asked, “Is there something I can help you with Majesty?”
“In the chest are the remains of Rieliton Pulienus. I know not where he comes from but I do know he was a true believer in The Divines and died doing their bidding. I ask that you inter him and protect him via the Rights of Arkay. I then ask you make enquiries with your counterparts in High Rock and Cyrodiil to see if you can find his family and enquire as to their wishes for his remains. You may send the bill to the palace for costs incurred.”
“Are there any other clues to help with the search Majesty?”
“He is a descendant of Sir Amiel Lannus. He and his colleagues gave their lives protecting the relics of Pelinal Whitestrake from theft and destruction by those who have cause to hate him most.”
“No need to mention who that might be. All will be done as you ask and no fees charged for the Champion of Solitude.”
“Now that is a title I am proud of! Thank you Styrr and may The Divine bless you.”
One of The Sentinel must have informed the Captain of the Guard where I would be heading to next as a narrow corridor of armoured bodies let us make our way to the airship quickly.
I flew Nafalilargus to Fort Dunstad and was surprised to see the Inn still boarded up. When Rigmor and I first met Casius he asked us to help clear out the large bandit force within the fort. When we investigated the innkeeper and family, including child, had been butchered by the bandits.
I wanted to travel to Duskglow Crevice stealthily as it was infested with Falmer and Chaurus last time I visited it.
We approached it via a narrow snow covered path to the west of the cave.
We encountered no hostiles and soon stood before the cave entrance. I told The Sentinel, “This is a typically boring cave full of Falmer and Chaurus. Try not to faint with excitement.”
There were no Falmer guarding the entrance.
I decided to use my Detect Life spell just to break the monotony. I hand signalled to The Sentinel that two bandits were just around the corner.
As we got closer we could hear them arguing about going further into the caves as one of them thought he glimpsed a Falmer.
I solved their dilemma with two arrows.
Not long after we encountered some Falmer and once again my bow delivered their death by ethereal arrow.
A large creature charged us and I put it down with a single arrow.
“What in the world is that?” asked Torval.
“At a guess it is a Gehenoth. They are mythic creatures written about in many tales from Dawnstar. This is obviously the weaker variant. Apparently the stronger version is quite formidable.”
After hacking our way through more Falmer we arrived at the chest in a shallow creek.
I opened it with the ring and inside was The Helm of the Divine Crusader. It was of superb quality and made by Dibella. It provides bonuses to Restoration as well as Speechcraft. It also has a unique dweomer than can calm enemies who get too close.
It did the rounds of The Sentinel who marvelled at it. You did not have to worship The Nine to appreciate the art of a God.
We made our way to the airship. I asked Lentilus to fly us to Shor’s Stone while The Sentinel and me enjoyed a good meal and some light banter.
Eventually the airship stopped and the bell rang to announce our arrival. I explained to The Sentinel, “It is a small hike to Torvald’s Cave from here. It was full of Falmer, bears, Snow Trolls, Frostbite Spiders and Ice Wraiths when last I visited it.”
Kharjo said, “This one thinks we might find it empty. Khajiit miners have recently been prospecting a rich vein of Moonstone within it. They travel with the Caravans to act as extra guards when they have enough ore so may not be in residence at the moment.”
“It is good you have kept in touch with your friends who travel the Moonpaths. They are an excellent source of information and gossip are they not?”
“I have promised Iona we shall travel with them to Elsweyr when we get an opportunity. It is the best way to understand my people.”
“Hopefully soon I can find some more recruits I am happy with. Then you will all get a holiday.”
We encountered no enemies on the way and paused at the entrance to listen. Silence but the smell of smoke was strong.
We entered and to find a fire petering out but no sign of any Khajiit prospectors.
Torval asked, “Why does Skyrim, even The Empire as a whole, allow foreigners to mine their minerals?”
“Some ore attracts a levy that still allows the miners to make good money in their homeland but adds to our coffers. Other ore that we do not use ourselves, such as Moonstone, often returns as goods that shopkeepers and market holders like to stock and would not exist otherwise. Skyrim is very rich in terms of mineral wealth and a small percentage is mined by citizens at any time. It is sensible to make some money from the ore that would otherwise sit keeping the wildlife company.”
We encountered not a single living thing as we wandered the cavern looking for the chest. The Khajiit were thorough with their cleansing.
Next to a stream surrounded by Chaurus eggs and the bones of their victims we found the chest.
The ring opened it and I withdrew the Armour of the Divine Crusader. It is one of the most recognisable relics on Nirn and the unmistakeable presence of Lord Akatosh and Lady Mara could be felt by me. The wearer recovers from wounds faster and Restoration spells work better. Damage resistance beyond what the metal should provide is its most useful quality. I was in awe.
Torval remarked, “Many of my people would react in horror at the relics of the greatest mer killer in history. But I cannot hate a person who fought against evil and find I must forgive his extremes when his sanity failed.”
“The Divine wished to stop him on several occasions but Alessia feared for his safety if they did so. So they are to blame for the things he did, not the deranged individual. We can pick heroes of all races and transfer hate and disgust for their past actions to today if we wish to perpetuate such things. I can tell you he has all eternity to regret his actions and has expressed great remorse to me. If I could beg one thing from my mother it would be to find a way to ease his conscious. It was the death of his beloved that triggered his madness. I can understand that. The name of his soulmate has never been recorded. We do not know who he was.”
“His lover was male? That is not something widely known either.”
“That is because most historians never bothered recording that fact. It was and is irrelevant. As far as I can figure out his name was not recorded as protection for his family from the hate that the name Pelinal Whitestrake generates.”
We made our way back to the airship without incident and I did the ether travel to Fort Dawnguard.
There were hardly any of the Dawnguard within the fort. They were apparently attending to a large Vampire Clan on an island close to Evermore. They were called into action by Governor Rikke as per my instructions to all military and civilian leaders. We have troops specialising in Vampires. Use them. We have troops specialising in Dov. Use them. When the invasion is closer we can have these skills taught to regular troops by the best of both groups which, through the natural selection process of the battlefield, will be the ones that have survived.
The reality of this brutal process hit home a few days ago. The entire Blades squad that had accompanied me to Wyrmstooth had been wiped out. Not by a Dovah as would have been fitting. They were murdered by a large group of New Imperial leftovers. Attacked in a narrow mountain pass they stood little chance in such a scenario. Sethius’ legacy continues to cost good people their lives. I allowed the remaining Blades to accompany Legionnaires and together they cleared the scum from not only that mountain pass but for many leagues around it.
We quickly made our way to Mossy Glen Cave. It can only be accessed from Dayspring Canyon and that is why we flew to Fort Dawnguard.
We stood at its entrance and I said, “This is a small cave but full of bears and Wereskeevers last time I visited. Try and take the Wereskeevers down from a distance but if you get bit or scratched there are a lot of Cure Disease potions aboard Nafalilargus or simply touch one of the shrine of The Nine in my room. You have three days before you turn into a smelly, hairy brute so no need to panic.”
Kharjo quipped, “You have scared this cat. He does not want to turn into a Nord!”
After the laughter died down we entered the cave and were immediately set upon by several angry bears and Wereskeevers! They all died under a hail of arrows.
I took a close look at a dead Wereskeever then remarked to The Sentinel, “They may only be knee high but have the strength of ten men. One snuck into the prison in Riften via the sewers. It killed every single prisoner and a platoon of guards before Lydia, Meeko and I went in and took care of it.”
There were no other encounters and the cave was small so it took little time to find the chest.
I opened it and took out the Boots of the Divine Crusader. I asked The Sentinel, “If I said these boots allow better Destruction and Restoration spells you could not guess who made them. If I said they pacify all hostile animals it should be obvious. So, who made them?”
Almost as one they said, “Kynareth.”
“Correct! We have one item left to retrieve and we may stir a hornet’s nest. It is somewhere within Fort Sungard.”
Derkeethus asked, “Surely they would not attack you? It is obvious who you are and you have been lenient in allowing them to occupy the fort.”
“I have allowed the Forsworn to remain in the fort as it has some significance to them and they have agreed not to attack anybody along the road that passes by it. That agreement is part of the long process I hope will result in land being set aside for all Reachmen who wish to establish a protectorate of The Empire. They can have their own nation as long as they forget the impossible dream of reclaiming the entire Reach. By proving they can peacefully co-exist with Skyrim and High Rock they edge closer to that reality. Even the Witchmen of Evermore have ceased their senseless push for something that would result in their annihilation if it they continued.”
“But there is a chance they will attack?”
“Yes. Hopefully they send a spokesman, a senior Briar Heart or Hagraven, to parley and we will be left unmolested. If they attack we defend ourselves but we do not slaughter every Forsworn within sight. Anybody I see shooting or attacking a non-aggressive Reachman will discover they are no longer a Sentinel and doing labour in a mine. Understood?”
They all verbally agreed and we proceeded to make our way back to the airship.
I flew to Fort Sungard and anchored the airship not far from it. There is no way the Forsworn guards could miss us approaching.
We were unmolested till we reached the top floor. A young Forsworn charged with his weapons drawn. I parried then drew blood and yelled, “Cease in the name of The Empire. We are not here to harm you!”
Two others came running and I knocked them back with a weak Unrelenting Force.
The unmistakeable voice of a Hagraven called out, “Thank you for showing restraint with these fools. They show promise and should not die for a brief moment of stupidity.”
She was not brave enough to show herself which is understandable.
“I can only think we have encroached on an area of particular importance to your people. For that I ask forgiveness. To prevent any possibility of further confrontation I ask if you can direct me to what I seek. It is a chest with a lock that can’t be picked and no spell can undo. It would have been placed here within the last few years.”
“I know of what you speak. It is in the temple. Go through the door just ahead and slightly to your right. I have looked at this chest. It is protected by your Gods and we have not tried to interfere with it. I suggest you hurry and retrieve what you came for.”
The two uninjured Forlorn helped the one I cut shuffle through a different door.
As I was about to open the door Talvas asked, “Should we not go in before you? This could be a trap set by those savages.”
I turned on him and he stepped back when he saw the anger on my face.
“You have travelled with me enough to know such generalisations are not acceptable. They are used to demonise other races and make it more palatable to suppress and kill them. You come from a society where backstabbing and political games are a way of life. When a Forsworn deals with me I can trust them far more than any Dunmer, Thalmor, Nord, Imperial or other so called civilized person. As a matter of fact the Daedric Lords are far more trustworthy than most mortals.”
I opened the door and was pleased to see an unmolested shrine of Kynareth. I pointed to it and said, “A few months ago that would have been incorporated into some grotesque bone and flesh sculpture. To me this indicates they are willing to accept religious freedom as part of any future deal.”
Behind a dividing wall was the chest.
I opened it. Inside was the Mace of the Divine Crusader. It was made by Zenithar and burns opponents, turns undead and improves your one handed skill.
Kharjo used to prefer the mace over sword so when I handed it to him he stepped back and did several exercises. He smiled as he handed it to Talvas.
“Tempted to revert to the mace?” I asked him.
“If you can find one amongst your collection with that balance I may well do so.”
On the way out of the fort the disembodied voice called out, “The people who brought the chest were not harmed by us. They showed respect and asked only for access to the temple. When asked they said they were hiding something from the Thalmor. We know their part in the siege of Markarth. How could we refuse?”
I replied, “They died at the hands of the Thalmor. They are not my favourite people.”
There was an evil cackle then she said, “But they are not the evil that is coming are they? We know! We will fight them that come into our lands!”
When we reached Nafalilargus I ordered the three Master Mages to go on deck and fly us to Scourg Barrow. I told them It was their decision if we went ether to some place before flying the rest of the way or not.
They left me with a look of determination on their faces. They knew this was a test. They had to put bias and egos aside and co-operate. They were going to be flying the airship though some of the most mountainous and treacherous terrain in Tamriel. They would need to take turns steering and being a lookout. It should be team building, not hull shattering.
The Sentinel and I had a late supper then we retired to get a few hours sleep.
I wrote this journal entry and crawled into bed knowing we had achieved much.
I know not what time I fell asleep.
I do not know if Alessia’s voice saying “Thank you my son.” was imagination or not.