Falskaar: Fiddly bits.
After breakfast we climbed down the ladder of Nafalilargus. It was about 7:00AM and the docks were shrouded in fog. Light snow was falling.
We decided to walk to Grimrott Grotto to see if we could recover Freya’s sapphire for her husband Henrik. Rigmor was going to be the guest of Jarl Agnar and his wife for a few hours to discuss the prophecy of The One, the Akaviri invasion and a few other topics. She will probably leave for the Imperial Palace sometime today. The airship should pick us up at the Grotto after Rigmor has been taken to Amber Creek.
We still had no word from Casius on what the Thalmor were doing.
It was an uneventful walk and we stood outside the cave entrance. I said to my colleagues, “The people who took the sapphire supposedly entered but never came back out again. I do believe this place has some local legends attached to it.”
Thorlogh replied, “It is alleged this place was a hidden harbour for a fleet of pirates and smugglers. Supposedly the undead sailors still guard their treasures. The sapphire thieves probably laughed at our backward superstitions.”
We entered and straight away skeletons and Draugr were visible.
There were three or four docks and about the same number of sunken vessels visible.
The undead were of the lesser variety. There would be no long drawn out battles here.
Plenty of beds and other furniture indicated a large number stayed on land while the boats were at sea.
In the distance I spotted a Word Wall. We started to make our way to it.
The undead grew in number and strength as we went.
In between two chests was a lich.
After dispatching it I found the sapphire in the bigger chest.
The Word Wall taught me the Power Word ‘Spirit’. It was the second word of the Shout ‘Champions Spirit’.
We made our way out of the grotto and onto Nafalilargus which had been flown from Amber Creek.
Our next target were the bandits who had entrenched themselves in the ruins of Pinevale. They were leftovers from Yngvarr’s mob.
I also wanted to visit the Reinaldur’s farm as Jalma had expressed concerns about their safety.
I anchored the airship somewhere between the two places. Far enough away from Pinevale not to alert the bandits.
The mist and fog was still thick which aided us in our stealthy approach to Pinevale. Normally it would help the bandits hide as well but that is where the Detect Life spell is handy.
Using Detect Life and hand signals The Sentinel and I had the advantage of knowing numbers and location of the bandits.
When we kill a guard at a doorway the other morons inevitably came charging and die before getting near us and our bows.
We soon cleared the town ruins and approached the mine entrance.
Once inside we systematically slaughtered the occupants without a single one seeing their killer.
On a table I found a journal. I read the following passage aloud,
“30th, Sun’s Height, 4E 185
We gave him up… We had no choice. Elein is very sick, and I am still recovering from my wounds. We cannot raise Kalevi for he would certainly die if we kept him. We gave him to a merchant that was headed to Amber Creek. We have a friend there who is a Bosmer as well. He’ll take him in. He has such a kind heart. He’ll raise him as though Kalevi were his own. We wouldn’t give up our child unless we knew that for sure… When we are both better, however long it takes, we will go to Amber Creek and find our son.”
Thorlogh said, “There is a father and son Bosmer family in Amber Creek working their farm.”
“Everybody has a fundamental right to know their heritage. I will approach the father with this and urge him, if his son is Kalevi and does not know, to tell him the truth.”
We left the grotto and made our way to the Reinaldur farm.
Detect life did not show me anything living in the house.
After entering I called out but there was no response.
There was no sign of struggle or indication they had left in a hurry.
All looked normal till we came across a pool of congealed blood.
Blood was also found on the stairs leading to the basement.
Next to the basement door was a journal. I read the following passages aloud
“Entry 1 – We are expecting an excellent yield once again this year from the crops! This is wonderful. The gods have looked favourably upon us yet again. Looks like I shall finally expand the cellar to meet our growing productivity. On the morrow I shall run to town for supplies. Aneka and I are very lucky. I should also send word to Jalma of Amber Creek. She always enjoys good news from this area.
Entry 2 – Today I was digging in the cellar to expand it outward and broke into some kind of… chamber. It was pitch black and I couldn’t see anything inside. Aneka and I have sealed it off for now. Who knows what could be down there.
Entry 3 – We’ve had to rework our cellar expansion to accommodate for the recent findings. I threw a torch into it and saw what looked like Nordic ruins, I wonder if we could get one of the scholars down here. They may pay us to explore it. I wouldn’t say no to some extra coin. Nonetheless we have kept it sealed. It could be full of Draugr or spiders or even worse.
Entry 4 – We did not get a restful night’s sleep. We heard all sorts of awful noises coming from the hole in the cellar. At one point we thought we heard scratching like something was trying to escape… Poor Aneka was horrified. Honestly, I was a little scared too. I’m a farmer not a fighter. I fear for our lives. If something comes out of there I may not be able to protect Aneka.
Entry 5 – More noises last night. They were far more intense and loud than the night before. Aneka is scared half to death. She spends all day outside and has a very hard time falling asleep. I think I’ll hire some mercenaries later today to take a look. That way we can put all this behind us and finally figure out what’s down there.
Entry 6 – They have to be dead! They must be! I paid two large Nords, a Redguard and an Orc to take a look today. It was silent for several hours and then we heard the most dreadful screaming! It stopped after a few minutes. They must have been attacked. It’s the only explanation. I have more permanently sealed the hole up with planks and bolts. We won’t have any more of this! We would pack up and leave but we can’t lose the farm. Not this close to harvest. Aneka has calmed some since I sealed it off. Hopefully we can forget about all this.
Entry 7 – I must go in. I heard screams while I was outside working the field. They… they took Aneka. I don’t know who or what they are but they have her now. They broke through the planking. There is a fair amount of blood and I fear for her life. When on the other side of the broken planking I will try to seal it off so that nothing can escape. I’ve never fought anything in my life and I fear I will do no good. Hopefully it’s just rabid wolves! That’s still bad but it’s far less severe than the other possibilities. Please get help, or if you are of able body yourself, try to help us. Even if we are captured or injured we might still be saved. Plus whatever is down there must be dealt with. If it escapes to the surface it could be bad news for others, especially Borvald. May the Nine watch over me!”
I asked Thorlogh, “The whole thing makes no sense. Why stay in a house when your wife is terrified instead of getting help? Why then hire mercenaries instead of asking the local guards for assistance? Why keep the death of mercenaries secret when they died doing what they get paid for?”
“I don’t know Wulf. I honestly don’t know!”
“It doesn’t matter as this is how it now stands. By the looks of the blood this occurred several days ago and the chances are they are both dead. Let’s go have a look shall we?”
As soon as we entered the cellar it was obvious what we were dealing with.
I said to Thorlogh, “See the blood on the floor and broken planks. He was attacked before he had a chance to reseal it. The bone totem in the corner is a territorial maker of the Falmer. They were taken and most likely killed for trespassing.”
“Falmer? Do you mean Snow Elves? It has been decades since they have been encountered in Falskaar.”
“Falmer are not Snow Elves. They are a different species created from the Snow Elves by the Dwemer. There are probably huge populations underneath Falskaar and it appears they want to remain undisturbed. We will look for the Reinaldurs and will defend ourselves if attacked. We are not going to slaughter indiscriminately simply for revenge.”
We found the first of the mercenaries at what looked like their base camp.
We stood before a door and I said, “Very rarely have I encountered Falmer in Nordic ruins. Most likely these ruins connect to Dwemer ones somewhere.”
Through the doorway was another of the mercenaries.
We encountered the first Falmer a little further along. I hand signalled for weapons to be sheathed. We would walk in and wait for the Falmer to react.
It and several others attacked so they died.
I could hear chittering and whispered to Thorlogh, “Stand well back. That noise is made by Chaurus. They will spit poison at you. We can save you but not before it scars.”
We killed several Chaurus before finding the bodies of the farmers. We carried them back to their farmhouse and lay them on their bed.
We walked quickly back to Nafalilargus then flew to Amber Creek.
I approached Rangarr and he stood to greet me.
“I have recovered the sapphire that belonged to Freya’s mother. Henrik said he has discussed recreating her mother’s necklace with you as a surprise tenth anniversary present.”
“Yes, he left the other gems in my safekeeping hoping for the day when the sapphire was found. But I need some Fine Gold and unfortunately the last shipment seems to have been stolen by the bandits whose hideout is at Olgrahm’s Tower.”
“We killed all the bandits there a few days ago and found no Fine Gold. But don’t worry, mages use it in alchemy so there should be a good supply aboard my airship.”
I asked Celestine, “Can you please go fetch some Fine Gold from Nafalilargus and let Rangarr choose the amount he needs. We will be at the inn when you have finished that.”
Celestine jogged towards the airship and Rangarr asked, “How much will I owe you for it?”
“I would have recovered it from some tomb or crypt or bandit. So it costs you what it cost me, nothing.”
“Once again your generosity surprises me. Give me a couple of days and the necklace will be done.”
“Is King Agnar in residence?”
“No, he is up at Staalgarde again. Jalma is at home or the inn.”
I guessed the inn and was correct. Jalma was in conversation with a young blond haired girl,
I walked up to her and interrupted the conversation,
- Wulf: Sorry to interrupt Lady Jalma but I have some things to report.
- Jalma: Of course Majesty, please continue.
- Wulf: We killed all of the bandits in Pinevale ruins and mine. I think they were remnants left over from Yngvarr’s army but that is just guessing.
- Jalma: It doesn’t really matter now they are dead.
- Wulf: I suppose not. I also have some grim news about the Reinaldurs.
- Jalma: Are they dead? Was it bandits again?
- Wulf: Yes they are dead but it was Falmer that killed them. They had accidentally dug into a Falmer cave when expanding their cellar. We killed some Falmer and recovered the bodies of the Reinaldurs. We placed them in the farmhouse so they can be buried with the Rights of Arkay spoken.
- Jalma: That is terrible! I’ll have some guards set up camp outside to make sure the Falmer are stopped. There is no way to know if you got them all.
- Wulf: We did not get them all as that was not our intent. My advice is leave the Falmer be. Seal up that exit with stonework and they will not bother those on the surface again. If you go into those tunnels and start killing them they will retaliate. They will come up out of holes all over Falskaar and slaughter your people. They left totems to show they regard the underground as their territory. It is in your country’s best interest to recognise that border. You do not have the manpower to take them on.
- Jalma: I suppose this is the first time in many decades they have killed citizens. I will discuss this with Agnar as soon as I can.
- Thorlogh: I will ask members of the priory to attend to their burial.
- Jalma: Thankyou Brother Thorlogh.
- Wulf: Is there anything else we can help with?
- Jalma: Rigmor and her guards are with Agnar. She told me to keep you busy so yes you can help. First problem is Oudin. He is our sawmill owner and says some bandits are planning on kidnapping Amber Creek residents.
- Wulf: It is wise to keep your guards on alert here. I will have a talk with him and see what it is about.
- Jalma: And young Svea here would appreciate some help with a family heirloom.
- Wulf: I will have a chat with her as well then. Oh, do you know a Bosmer by the name of Kalevi?
- Jalma: Yes, he lives with his father, Kunnari, on a farm just south of Amber Creek. Why may I ask?
- Wulf: I found some information concerning him. I just need to pass it on.
- Jalma: Rigmor explained to me how you could not walk away from here till you have done what you can for us. I still find it awkward have such a powerful person concern themselves with our trivialities.
- Wulf: I can’t leave till we resolve the Daedric Artefact problem so I might as well fill in the time.
- Jalma: That is not the real reason. Rigmor said you have always been like this.
- Wulf: And I may have to stop helping individuals like this in the near future. So until my advisors tie me down and tell me no more I will do what I enjoy the most.
Jalma laughed and walked off to speak to more of her friends, not subjects.
I turned to the young woman who had been watching our conversation with interest, “What do you need help with Svea?”
“See that man over there. His name is Harold and he has been enquiring about a treasure. The thing is what he is looking for belongs to my family. When this town was founded the blacksmith took the first chunk of amber that was extracted and made it into a large ring for my family. About fifteen years ago my father had to sell it. Amber Creek was having a hard time getting by. A wealthy merchant was visiting and offered a considerable sum for the ring. My father didn’t want to sell it but he decided other things were more important. He gave everybody in town some of the money and kept us all out of truly dark times.”
“That was a kind and generous thing he did. But fifteen years is a long time. That amber ring could be anywhere by now!”
“The merchant vessel carrying it and other goods sunk in a terrible storm along our coastline. That is all I know but apparently that Harold person knows more.”
“Is there anything else you can tell me?”
“The ring is actually part of a great suit of armour the blacksmith forged at the same time. It broke my father’s heart when he had to sell the ring from it. It’s not only a symbol of our family but of Amber Creek itself!”
“I will see what I can do.”
Svea nodded and looked nervous as I walked over to Harold.
“Good day Harold, I believe you have been searching for the amber ring.”
“I need it and it was in a ship that sunk. If only I knew where that ship was!”
“Why do you need it?”
“I used to live in Helgen with my wife and kids. Then that damn dragon destroyed it. Everything we owned was gone save the clothes on our backs. We have tried living out of the woods but I have been barely able to catch enough for us to eat. Then I heard rumours about this ring of amber. If it’s really as big as they say it will be worth a small fortune to the right people. I need that money to feed my family and rebuild what we once had.”
“You know who I am. This armour kind of gives it away.”
“Yes, of course I do.”
“And you are a citizen of Falkreath?”
“That is where Helgen is so yeah.”
“So you have not stood or addressed me as a citizen of The Empire should. The people of Falkreath need not as they are not my subjects.”
“Then you lied to me! You paid a considerable amount of money for the passage here. It would be enough to feed your family for months. A family you have left to fend for themselves in the woods.
“Helgen is being rebuilt at The Empire’s expense and anybody who owned or rented property there can claim it back after the rebuild. Not only that, if you needed work priority was given to survivors of that terrible day. The Jarl is a close friend of mine and I know he spent a lot of money rehousing people while Helgen was still in ruins. You have no family. You were not a citizen of Helgen.”
“I was there the day Alduin destroyed Helgen. See my guard with the black hair staring at you. That is Lydia. She lost her fiancé that day. She fought beside me in Sovngarde against Alduin and is quite capable of slicing you into tiny chunks. He fiancé and the people of Helgen died terrible deaths from dragon fire, the Thu’um, tooth and claw. Their screams still haunt me to this day. I could lock you up for a considerable amount of time or I could just hand you over to Lydia.”
“It would not be stealing! It is salvage and legally belongs to whoever finds it?”
“It is illegal to lie to your Emperor. It is morally corrupt to use the tragedy of Helgen for your own gain. I don’t expect an apology from you as it would only be hollow and insincere. I suggest you leave Falskaar as soon as you can because if I see you again I will let Lydia beat the living shit out of you. Got it?”
“Okay, okay. It was worth a try.”
Lydia bent close to Harold and whispered, “Run Harold. I don’t know if I can hold my temper for much longer.”
Harold scrambled to his feet and dashed for the door accompanied by much laughter from the inn’s patrons.
I walked over to Svea and told her, “Harold has suddenly decided he was urgently needed elsewhere. I will ask Wulf at the docks if he knows which ship it may have been.”
She asked Lydia, “Would you really have beaten him up?”
Lydia assured her, “Only if I got to him before my Emperor.”
Svea laughed as we exited the inn to speak to Oudin.
We found him chopping some wood near his mill. He stopped when he saw me approaching.
“Lady Jalma mentioned something about bandits planning to kidnap residents.”
“Yes, I recently found something that’s been troubling me. I was out logging and I found a note from Jonulv, a childhood friend of mine. It said some bandits from Stoneridge Watch were planning on kidnapping people from Amber Creek and holding them for ransom. I hope you will investigate for me.”
“We will and the guards here will be on alert. So why would Jonulv know about this?”
“Several years ago the bandits kidnapped him. They held him to ransom figuring it was easy money as his father was wealthy. However the old man died before even hearing of the kidnapping. The bandits gave up on the ransom. We all assumed that Jonulv was dead. If he’s alive I want him brought back safely.”
“How long ago was he kidnapped?”
“About ten years ago. Please stop the bandits and rescue Jonulv!”
“Where did you find the note?”
“I was selecting lumber just out of town when I found it. He must have left it there knowing I would find it.”
“So he has enough freedom to be able to write and place the note but not escape. In ten years he has not made a run for it. Do you think they would feed and clothe him for free during those years?”
“No. I don’t suppose they would.”
“I will bring him back if I can just so he can confess to you his crimes. He has been one of them for ten years and will tell you he had no choice. Think about that while we go and put an end to them and their plans.”
“There must be some other explanation.”
“This could also be a trap or even a plan to get us away from Amber Creek. How do you even know the note was from Jonulv?”
“When we were kids we had these wooden swords we would playfully spar with. We hadn’t used them in years. When I found the note it was attached to his wooden sword.”
“So when he was kidnapped he just happened to have his childhood wooden sword with him and has kept it all these years. I have heard all I need to know. We will be back with the truth soon.”
It was about 10:30PM when we set off for Stoneridge Watch. We decided to walk as apparently there were tall enough towers there for the airship to be seen from a long distance.
We arrived at about 11:30 and only a few sentries could be seen with Detect Life.
I killed them and an aggressive bear with my bow.
After killing a few more guards we found a trapdoor.
In the same room was a gate with a lock I could not pick.
We entered the trapdoor and started another game of silent death.
I signalled silence when I overheard a conversation about Jonulv.
- Bandit1: What do you think the boss will do to Jonulv when he returns?
- Bandit2: I hope he puts him on the rack. That would show him for crossing us.
- Bandit1: Lucky we found that note he pinned to the tree.
- Bandit2: Why turn on us now? He has had plenty of chances to escape.
- Bandit1: I think he hopes they will believe his sob story and allow him to live ‘civilised’ again.
- Bandit2: Bet he doesn’t tell them how he spent days planting the explosives under Borvald!
- Bandit1: Let’s hope they come back with one or two farmers. Best would be their kids. Only hope of us making some money after Yngvarr went and died.
- Bandit2: Should be easy. They have increased the guards in Amber Creek but the patrols are still single guards and they only visit each farm every few hours.
I had heard enough. I killed them both.
On top of a table I found a key.
Nearby was a trapdoor.
It led to the prison tower.
I killed the single guard on duty.
Jonulv spotted us and yelled, “Please. Please help me!”
We approached his cage and he begged, “Please let me out of here before they come back!”
“Not so fast. Who are you?”
“My name is Jonulv, I’m from Amber Creek. I’m Oudin’s friend. Did he send you? Did he find one of my notes?”
“Where is the leader of this mob?”
“He is looking for targets to kidnap. I know where they are! Let me out and I will help you.”
“Did these men work for Yngvarr?”
“No, no, they are just common bandits who have been around for many years.”
“So they are the ones that kidnapped you over ten years ago?”
“Yes. They kidnapped me and held me for ransom but my father died.”
“So you joined them didn’t you?”
“I had no choice! They asked if I would rather join them and I agreed so that I could survive. They let me in and I’ve been with them since. I couldn’t get out…”
“For ten years they have kept such a tight watch on you there was no way to escape? If that was the case you would have been a burden and not a productive asset. Keep your lies to yourself. Now mark on the map where they are mustering and I will let you out.”
Jonulv marked my map. I used the key and freed him.
We made our way outside without any encounters. I stood inches away then warned him, “If you run ahead I will shoot you in the back. If you try to run away I will shoot you in the back. If you yell out or otherwise try to warn your bandit buddies I will cut you down. Understood?”
Jonulv nodded. We started trotting towards the muster point.
Not far from it we encountered a lone Amber Creek guard doing his rounds of the outlying farms.
I informed him, “Just up the road is a dozen or so bandits waiting to move out and kidnap some farmers and families. You would have just walked right past them.”
“What! And here I am by myself!”
“They must have hidden themselves well. Just keep doing your rounds. We will take care of them.”
“Those damn bastards! Are they some of Yngvarr’s leftovers?”
“They were recruited by him but have avoided justice on Falskaar for over ten years at least.”
“Kill them all for us Majesty.”
“I intend to.”
The guard continued on and we crept slowly to the muster point. Detect Life let me see them way before we would have been visible to them. Celestine and I prepared Fireball spells.
Then let them loose. Most of the bandits were killed in the initial blast.
One or two got a bit closer before falling down screaming and dying.
We went and checked the dead. Jonulv pointed out the leader and was pretty sure we got the lot of them.
We made our way to Amber Creek. It was just after 7:00AM and Oudin had just started work for the day. He saw Jonulv then came running over.
- Oudin: Jonulv? By The Divines you’re alive!
- Jonulv: Yes Oudin, though I am not proud of what I had to do to survive.
- Oudin: Did you stop the kidnappings?
- Jonulv: These people did. They died before even getting close to us.
- Oudin: Then what is wrong?
- Jonulv: I…I was one of them, all these years. That’s why they didn’t kill me.
- Oudin: You were a bandit? Why Jonulv? How could you?
- Jonulv: When they found out my dad was dead they were going to kill me. They asked me if I would rather join and I said yes.
- Oudin: So you’ve spent the last ten years preying on the innocent and robbing people?
- Jonulv: I’m not proud of it. But I’m done with that. I think I’d like to live here in Amber Creek and help you out at the mill. Please, can you forgive me?
- Oudin: Of course I can Jonulv. You had no choice.
- Wulf: Of course he had a choice! Do you think he could not have escaped them before now? Do you think they kept him guarded every hour of every day for ten years? He planted more than one letter to you Oudin. Think of how much freedom he had to be able to do that!
- Oudin: Is this true Jonulv?
- Wulf: He warned you about their plans hoping he could come back here and be forgiven. To just take up a normal life as if he had not been robbing and more than likely killing innocents for ten years.
- Oudin: Did you kill anybody Jonulv?
- Jonulv: No…I just robbed and burgled. I swear by The Divines!
- Wulf: This was your chance to come clean before your death Jonulv. I know your mob worked for Yngvarr. I know you helped set up the oil and black powder. You deliberately planned and put in motion the deaths of all those innocents. I was there when your explosives blew up Borvald and killed all those men, women and children. I heard the cheers from you and the rest of Yngvarr’s rabble celebrating that senseless slaughter!
Oudin stepped back from his childhood friend with a look of horror on his face. He yelled at Jonulv, “I can see it in your face. You did those terrible things and played me for a fool. You deserve to die for what you did!”
Jonulv turned and ran. The Sentinel were going to pepper him with arrows but I signalled them to lower their weapons then I used my Thu’um,
“STOP JONULV OR DIE LIKE A COWARD. FACE ME AND DRAW YOUR WEAPON!”
To his credit he did. There was no theatrics involved.
I simply knocked his sword out of his hand and plunged mine deep into his belly. He fell down dead.
I returned to Oudin who had watched in horror as his childhood friend died at my hands. He said, “I wish he had remained dead to me. Now even my childhood memories of him seem false.”
“They are real Oudin. Circumstances set him on the course he chose after those days. Remember him as he was but also remember this fact, he did have a choice! He chose to stay with them when he would have had many opportunities to escape. He chose to live in those caves and tunnels for days carefully planning the deaths of all those innocents. He chose to turn and fight me and not die a cowards’ death.”
“Will that last bit earn him a place in Sovngarde?”
“It will earn him the right to challenge Tsun for entrance to the hall.”
“I will pay for his burial and get him Arkay’s rights. I am sorry you had to kill again. Now if you will please excuse me…”
I nodded then headed quickly to Kunnari’s farm.
Kunnari and who I assumed was his adopted son Kalevi were tending to some crops. Kalevi was far enough away not to overhear us. Or so I thought!
“Are you Kunnari?”
“Yes Majesty. Thank you for all you have done of Falskaar. What can I do for you?”
I handed him the journal we had found and said, “I think you need to read the entry for the 30th of Sun’s Height 4E 185.”
Kunnari read the entry and his eyes misted over. Then he said, “I have never told him. Whenever he asked about his mother I said she died of illness. At least that part was true.”
“It is up to you Kunnari but my advice is this. Every person has a right to know their origins. If you and your son have a strong bond of love then this will not drive him away.”
“You are right. Can you please stay while I tell him in case he has questions I can’t answer?”
I nodded and walked with Kunnari to talk to his son,
- Kunnari: Kalevi, I need to have a word with you, about something important.
- Kalevi: It must be if you have the Emperor of The Empire with you!
- Kunnari: He is here to help me tell you what I should have told you a long time ago.
- Kalevi: I can see you are upset and I know why. If it about me being born in Pinevale and that you are not the man who fathered me then relax, I have known for years.
- Kunnari: How did you know?
- Kalevi: That you were coming to talk about that? When the Emperor of The Empire comes to speak to my father I might look busy hoeing when in fact I am eavesdropping. Who wouldn’t?
- Kunnari: Oh… and about your father?
- Kalevi: Let’s just say my habit of eavesdropping started at a young age. There have always been whispers of, ‘Do you think his parents will ever return?’ and ‘It is wonderful how Kunnari had taken him in!’ and so forth. I put together the story from bits and pieces.
- Kunnari: I am so sorry. I should have told you. I just…I just…
- Kalevi: Whatever the reason does not matter! I trusted that one day you would. But even if you didn’t I knew I could ask the people of Amber Creek and find out the complete story. A story I assume is in that book you were just handed.
Kunnari passed the journal to his son who immediately turned to the entry for the 30th Sun’s Height 4E185. He read that page and quickly flicked through the hundreds of others. Eventually he stopped and smiled at his father,
- Kalevi: They trusted me with you because they knew you had a kind heart. With this great gift I can learn more about my birth parents but you are my father and as good a one as I could ever have hoped for.
- Kunnari: I’m sorry Kalevi. I should have been honest with you.
- Kalevi: It is alright father. I can read this journal and have heard bits and pieces but please tell me in your own words…What were they like?
- Kunnari: Your father was called Farand and he was the finest hunter I have ever seen. He gathered much of the food for Amber Creek. You mother was called Elein. At their home in Pinevale she had this magnificent garden where she spent most of her time. She was not an alchemist but grew a lot of the rare plants and herbs the mages and apothecaries of Falskaar needed. Even when she was heavily pregnant with you she would be in that garden.
- Kalevi: And they came to Amber Creek regularly?
- Kunnari: You father visited more often with the game to he sold. Sometimes twice a week. Your mother every fortnight with the herbs and ingredients. When they were here together they always gave me some fresh meat and we would sit and talk about Valenwood and our Gods, the Forest Gods, and other things only other expatriate Bosmer can understand and sympathise with. I can honestly say they were the kindest people I have ever met.
- Kalevi: Why did you settle in Falskaar?
- Kunnari: It was difficult to leave the forests of Valenwood but many Bosmer feared the Aldmeri Dominion. The Thalmor trampled on our religion and treated us as inferior. Any dissension or even legitimate complaints could be and were met with violence and even more severe persecution. Skyrim was not friendly to our kind. Cyrodiil was better the Skyrim but when I heard about and investigated Falskaar it was the better place for me. Your parents had come to the same conclusion.
- Kalevi: How did you hear about their deaths?
- Kunnari: A merchant brought you to me. Of course I recognised you straight away as your parents always brought you with them and doted over you. You were only a few months old so as soon as I saw the merchant carrying you I knew something terrible had happened. He said your parents died of Consumption. Despite the best efforts of the healers from the priory they succumbed after days of suffering. He told me your mother asked him to bring you to me just before she died. I was devastated at the death of my close friends and swore to my ancestors I would raise you as well as I could. It was hard at first. I had little experience with children and certainly none so young. But the people of Amber Creek helped and here we are.
- Kalevi: Majesty, why has this journal just turned up now? Twenty years later!
- Wulf: We found it in a hidden port once used by smugglers and pirates but now inhabited by Draugr and other undead. I can only assume it was in amongst other stolen items. Such people are not all heartless. Many were orphaned which led to them having to survive on the streets and then to a life of crime. I would like to think such a person found it, read it and placed it where we found it rather than toss it away like they do with worthless booty.
- Kalevi: I have read your journals Majesty. You would regard such words from your parents as invaluable and so do I! I thank you for bringing them to us.
- Wulf: So you understand why I have stood here and eavesdropped. Who wouldn’t?
Everybody had a good laugh and then Kalevi became serious for a moment,
- Kalevi: My father is too embarrassed to ask but there is something that others might find trivial but it is a mystery I think you may find intriguing.
- Wulf: What is it Kunnari? If it impacts you then it is not trivial.
- Kunnari: Somebody or something is stealing my chickens. One at a time and always around midnight.
- Wulf: You haven’t seen a huge Nord berserker with a two handed hammer answering to the name Yngol?
- Kunnari: Ah, no.
- Wulf: Not him then. So just one chicken each time? No others are harmed or killed?
- Kunnari: No and that is what is unusual. Every rooster I have ever had will attack a fox and either die or leave evidence of its fight. Wolves come nowhere near here as we are too close to Amber Creek and regular guard patrols. If anything I would say it is a person but then why would the chickens and rooster make such a fuss? They are used to us walking amongst them and carrying them off.
- Wulf: And you say it occurs around the same time? I assume you have tried to catch the thief?
- Kunnari: If either Kalevi or I are hiding and watching nothing ever happens. As soon as we don’t they take one! Always around midnight.
- Wulf: You are Bosmer. About the only people who rival you for hiding ability are the Khajiit. This is intriguing. I can hide even better than Bosmer or Khajiit. I will keep watch tonight.
- Thorlogh: I am not machines like you and The Sentinel. I need some sleep Wulf!
- Wulf: You can bunker down in the airship if you wish. But I think you need to be with me for this. My instincts tell me this may have something to do with the artefact.
- Thorlogh: And I trust those instincts. I fell out of that damn hammock last time so I will go and get some sleep at the inn. I will meet you there when you are ready for the stakeout. I can’t wait to see how you write up “The Case of the Missing Chickens!” in your journal.
- Wulf: Okay Kunnari and Kalevi. We will come back before midnight and see if you chicken thief turns up.
- Kunnari: We will keep out of your way Highness. And thanks again, for everything.
We left the chicken farmers and headed for Nafalilargus. I then flew us to the docks once more.
We approached Wulf and I asked him, “Do you know which boat was carrying the amber ring when it sunk?”
“Did Svea or Harold ask you to find out?”
“Both but Harold will probably appear here soon asking for passage back to Skyrim.”
“Well I am not planning another trip for another two days.”
“He might not show when the airship is here anyway. Lydia has threatened to beat the shit out of him.”
“So I was right not to trust him?”
“He is a liar and lucky not to be locked up. So do you know which boat and where the wreck might be?”
“I am pretty certain it was the Frostrunner. Give me your map and I will mark where it is. Lucky you have an airship or a bit of rowing would be needed. If is across some fairly cold water next to some ice caves.”
I handed him my map and he marked the location of the wreck with a circle.
“I always thought treasure maps were marked with a cross.”
“I always thought Emperors were snobby noble types with a stick up their arse.”
“Thanks for your help once again Wulf.”
“That amber ring belongs to Svea’s family and Amber Creek. Both will be happy to see it once again.”
We boarded Nafalilargus and I flew it the short distance to an island with ice caves.
The Sentinel climbed down the ladder first and took care of an aggressive bear.
I climbed down and had a quick look around. There was an entrance to the ice caves.
There was also a lonely grave with a headstone covered by unusual markings.
I remarked, “This is not something I have seen before. Most probably some sailor from a distant land who has been buried by his shipmates. Not every sailor is given a watery grave.”
Celestine replied, “A long way from family. I find that rather sad.”
“I think we all do Celestine. I just hope their family at least knows what happened to them.”
There was a damaged row boat that looked like it had been there for some time.
“This boat suggests somebody got to this islet but never left again. I think we will have a look in the ice caves after my little swim.”
My armour would help me resist the cold of the water and also breathe underwater. I dived in and soon saw the wreck of Frostrunner below. There were many chests on deck.
And several lower decks with more chests.
In the lowest deck I found the amber ring. It was stunning!
I broke the surface to look how far out I was from shore. With the depth of the wreck and the coldness of the water I don’t think Harold could have retrieved it even if he knew where it was.
I swam back to shore and The Sentinel were just as impressed as me by the amber ring.
We entered the ice caves and found it to be home for several more aggressive bears.
I used the Shout called Kyne’s Peace and they let us be. We explored the caves but there was nothing of interest.
We flew back to Amber Creek and headed for Svea’s general goods store.
She stood expectantly behind her counter and broke into a wonderful smile when I showed her the amber ring.
“I can’t believe you found it!”
“Wulf helped so also thank him when you get the chance.”
“This is so wonderful! Now I need Rangarr to attach it back to the armour for me. Can you please take it to him? I would be afraid to carry something so valuable.”
“I am sure he will be as thrilled as you to rebuild something so important to Amber Creek.”
We left her store and approached Rangarr.
“The necklace is a bit trickier than I thought if that is what you were going to ask about.”
“Not that Rangarr. I have recovered the amber circle and Svea wanted to know if you could reattach it to the armour?”
“Of course I will. Svea was so confident of you finding the amber ring she brought the amour over earlier today.”
“We are doing so well today but still need to fill in a few more hours.”
“Jalma was also certain you would succeed so left me with information. One of the travelling merchants reported problems with some giants attacking caravans. They live just south of Mammoth Keep. One of the biggest bandit gangs in Falskaar infests that keep and their leader, Jarrik the Crusher, has eluded justice for years.”
“So kill bad giants and slaughter the bandits! So much variety in one day we are spoilt!”
“You are weird! Has anybody ever told you that?”
I flew Nafalilargus close to the giants but a fair distance from Mammoth Keep. I don’t like killing giants as they are usually passive but sometimes they take a dislike for people and decide to kill randomly.
The seemingly eternal Falskaar fog helped hide us as we got into a better position to attack.
We killed the giants but left their mammoths alone.
We made our way quietly to Mammoth Keep which gradually came into view.
Two sentries guarding a jetty died silently.
There was an entrance to a mine but we decided to inspect the rest of the keep before entering it.
There were no guards at the unlocked gate. Once again I wondered about the competence of some enemies.
We killed all the guards without detection. It is simple to protect against this. You have two or more guards close to each other so they see if any of the others fall. Once again stupidity prevails.
So far we have seen jetties, a mill, a mine and an easily defensible keep. Mammoth Keep was too good a property to remain in the hands of bandits!
One part was blocked by a solid steel portcullis with no obvious way to lower them.
“Do you see what I see?” I asked The Sentinel.
Lydia replied, “A portcullis without any obvious way of opening it. We must be imagining it Wulf!”
“Let’s have a look in the mine.”
We entered the mine and it was absolutely crawling with dozens of bandits.
We killed them all including Jarrik the Crusher. In amongst the usual gems and gold was some every expensive material. It was most probably headed for some tailor or seamstress in one of the holds.
One door we opened automatically made the portcullis we saw before lower. We left the keep devoid of life then headed back to Amber Creek.
We entered the inn and found Brother Thorlogh waiting for us.
“Ready to hunt the chicken thief?” he asked.
“We have plenty of time! We will head out after The Sentinel and I have a good meal.”
So we sat and talked with the locals over some mead and a hearty meal. The next day would start with our search for the chicken thief.
Whose says the life of an Emperor is not glamorous?