Skyrim, Chorrol: The first vampire and an angry child.
After a few hours rest Revel and I set off for the witch grove. I gathered the bodies of Lilian and her mother Carene from the cottage then placed them next to Taranis on the floor of my pocket realm. I know they are together in Aetherius but their bodies deserve to be returned to their homeland and buried with Arkay’s blessing. I will attend to that task after I return from Coldharbour. There is nothing to rot or desecrate them where they now lay.
It was just after 6:30AM and still quite dark when I arrived at the Vigilants’ Temple.
Gwyneth met me outside the front entrance.
“Gwyneth, what are you doing outside in the snow?”
“I am trying to clean up the Temple by myself. I have just come outside for a breath of fresh air. Help will be arriving soon I hope.”
“Well I am glad to see you fit and healthy.”
“It is good to see you have returned. What happened with Altano?”
“Molag Bal’s avatar killed him.”
“If Molag Bal is here, what should we do?”
“There would be nothing we could do but there is no need to panic. I was too late to stop the summoning ritual but Altano did not have the ability that the summoner did. So the energy generated was not strong enough to open a portal to Coldharbour. I killed the avatar which weakens Molag Bal even more. For the time being Mundus is safe from him but I need to weaken him even more.”
“You…you defeated Molag Bal? He is a Daedric Prince!”
“It was his avatar I defeated, not the Daedric Prince himself. But our Emperor has defeated Molag Bal in combat but I do not suppose the Keeper ever spoke about that since he allied with Boethia to do so.”
“You should become the new Keeper of Stendarr! After all you defeated Molag Bal even if only his avatar!”
“I can’t be. I am not really a Vigilant of Stendarr. What I am precludes me from that title and that of Keeper. That is why I do not wear the uniform. However, you are untainted and have a logical mind being a student of the College of Winterhold. I therefore name you Keeper Gwyneth.”
“You said you were more than you seemed before leaving to deal with Altano.”
“I can’t tell you any more for now. When I can I will eventually tell you all and then you will understand the need for secrecy. So what is next Keeper?”
“Talk to the Windhelm guard who has just arrived. A courier came by informing me of a problem in the Windhelm prison and asking for our help. I could not leave here unattended so sent the courier back with a request somebody come and explain the situation. In the meantime I will go back inside and continue the cleaning.”
“See that Keeper Gwyneth? You are a natural leader!”
Gwyneth smiled then entered the Temple.
I walked up to the guard and asked, “You have a problem in the jail?”
“Prisoners in Windhelm keep disappearing from their cells. We want you to investigate this case for us.”
“Who do I speak to?”
“Jorleif sent me. You will find him in the Old Soldier quarters in The Palace of the Kings.”
“I am glad he was not exiled. He was one of the first to remove his support for Ulfric when the truth was revealed.”
“The new Jarl has been fair with ex Stormcloaks. Most of them have realised they were tricked into siding with Ulfric. Those who persisted were dealt with by our Emperor when we knew him as The Dragonborn.”
“Can you do me a favour and remain on guard here till the Vigilants arrive to aid the new Keeper. They were attacked by powerful followers of Molag Bal and she is the only survivor. I have dealt with those people so you are safe from anything unnatural.”
“In that case I will help you while you help us. I will remain on guard.”
I took it slow and steady with Revel. I had a feeling he might need to do a lot of travel again today.
Windhelm and its palace were no more inviting despite the change of leadership. The whole place still had that ‘Skyrim is for the Nords!’ feel about it as well as an atmosphere of doom and despair.
Quite a bit of redecorating had been done within the palace. I suspect in a vain attempt to get rid of those negative feelings.
The ‘Old Soldier Quarters’ was a new addition. Apparently it houses prominent ex Stormcloaks who can still contribute to the running of the hold.
I asked a couple of residents where to find Jorleif. It would be a bit suspicious if I just knew who he was.
Following their directions I found him sitting in his room. I walked up and introduced myself.
“Jorleif is it? I am Mecine and am here on behalf of the Vigilants of Stendarr.”
“Not the uniform you guys usually wear?”
“The recent attack has prompted me to wear my family’s armour for extra protection.”
“Well then welcome Mecine. I heard what happened at the Temple of Stendarr.”
“It is devastating but evil does not stop due to such a thing. What can you tell me about the problem?”
“Right to business then, that is good! So this is what happened. For the last three days prisoners have been disappearing one after another from their cells. The seriousness of their crimes seems to be unrelated but there was nothing but blood left in their cells. It started with only the prisoners but last night the guards disappeared as well. We are completely at a loss so I’m asking you for help.”
“I’ll have a look. You have been here for many years as Ulfric and his father’s Steward so I would appreciate if you can remain here in case I have some questions.”
“Most of the people disappeared from the underground dungeon so it is probably a good place to start your investigation.”
I nodded to Jorleif and headed for the dungeon which was through the barracks.
I had visited the Windhelm prison before and that was bleak enough. I had no idea what to expect in the dungeon.
The smell hit me straight away. I have asked politely for the treatment of prisoners to be improved so was less than impressed by what I saw. I will make High Queen Elisif aware that this is not what I expect to see in an Imperial prison.
In a small room was a statue of a young woman with a dagger in her chest. It was some sort of doorway. On the statue was dried blood. It was the tainted blood of a vampire.
At the foot of the statue was a shrine to Arkay that had been desecrated.
Except for the dagger in the chest this fit in with Lamae Bal also known as Lamae Beolfag, The Blood Matron and Mother Lamae. She was Nedic and a dedicated Arkay worshipper. Molag Bal raped her! She was the first pure-blood vampire on Nirn and the first Daughter of Coldharbour. She and her followers swore revenge on both Arkay and Molag Bal. The desecrated Shrine of Arkay suggests that followers are responsible for the disappearances.
I made my way back to Jorleif and asked him, “Has anything similar happened before?”
“Yes about twenty years ago. All the prisoners disappeared from their cells. Security was left to the head of the guards back then so I don’t know all the details. I do remember the Keeper of Stendarr sent us some Vigilants to help with the investigation.”
“Have there been tortures conducted in that dungeon?”
“If you are worried about the blood I can assure you we have taken the directive from High Queen Elisif and the Emperor and High Queen Rigmor seriously. We left the rack and other equipment there to intimidate, not use. The blood was left behind when the guards and prisoners disappeared.”
“Do you have documentation on the previous incident?”
“No, perhaps any taken is now with the Vigilants?”
“Do you know anything about the statue of the maiden?”
“You mean that eerie statue by the wall in one of the solitary cells? It is very ancient. According to the old records it is as old as the palace itself. I do not know what purpose it served if any.”
“What about the desecrated Shrine of Arkay at its feet?”
“That is new. It appeared not long before the disappearances according to the guards.”
“Okay, I will go and see if there are any records at the Temple. Before I go, does the name ‘Lamae’ mean anything to you?”
“Just those old tales sung by bards.”
“They are not just tales but history.”
I headed back to the Temple, found Gwyneth in the library and asked her, “I am looking for records from 4E 185.”
“About twenty years ago…if there is anything it should be in one of the three bookcases furthest to the right facing left.”
It did not take me long to find a journal titled, ‘Windhelm Incident Report 4E 185’. The relevant entries are,
“8 Second Seed 4E 185
All prisoners and guards in the dungeon went missing.
9 Second Seed 4E 180
We caught a vampire in the dungeon. Two dead and ten injured on our side.
Bodies are to be cremated and the injured healed by a healer. If any of them show any signs of infection with vampirism, they are to be disposed of immediately.
We requested assistance from the Temple of Stendarr.
10 Second Seed 4E 180
Cremation of the dead completed. There is no sign of infection with vampirism among the injured.
11 Second Seed 4E 180
Vigilants of Stendarr arrived. Their investigation concluded that the Maiden Statue is the source of vampires’ attack.
We subsequently interrogated the captured vampire about the hidden door behind the statue.
12 Second Seed 4E 180
Vampire told us how to open and close the hidden door. He did not survive the interrogation.
Found out the statue reacts to vampire blood. Using the blood of the dead vampire we opened the statue and sent investigation team through it.
The investigation team consists of seven Vigilants and thirteen guards.
Half a day after the investigation started, screaming resounded from the Maiden Statue and it sealed shut. It won’t react to the blood of the vampire anymore.
Status of the investigation team is unknown.
13 Second Seed 4E 180
Found one of the investigators unconscious outside the city walls. His name is Jacob. He says the investigation team was killed in the collapse of the tunnel.
The vampires’ entry spot has also been blocked by falling rocks. Since the Maiden Statue has been sealed, this investigation has been terminated.”
So that is where Jacob sold his wife’s soul. Look what chaos that single act of cowardice caused!
Tucked away in a recess at the back of the book was a vial of vampire blood.
I said to Gwyneth, “Thanks for your help Keeper. I think we have a huge problem at the Windhelm prison. If you have anything in your library about Lamae Bal I suggest you study it in case I fail.”
“Some other Vigilants are on their way. Do you want to wait for them?”
“No, six were killed along with thirteen guards last time. It is also where Jacob was turned by Molag Bal. I had better handle this alone.”
“You will tell me who you are one day like you promised?”
I just smiled and made my way back to the Windhelm dungeons.
It was just after 8:00PM when I go back to that dreary city. I had not been pushing Revel for speed.
Jorleif was finishing his supper. I said to him, “This is the work of powerful vampires. Back in 185 a single vampire when confronted killed two and inured ten guards. Later on six Vigilants and thirteen guards died investigating them.”
“The head of the guards never passed that information on to me!”
“Probably because they thought the doorway, which is the statue of the maiden, was permanently sealed. I suspect when I enter their lair I will face all those lost guards and prisoners who will now have sharp fangs and glowing red eyes.”
“What about that Lamae you mentioned earlier.”
“I know Molag Bal got involved last time and he doesn’t do that for just any vampire.”
“And you are going in by yourself?”
“I should be okay. I suggest you have guards with spears pointed at that doorway in case it is not me who comes back through it.”
I approached the statue and noticed Lamae had a flower in her hair. I wonder if it was red on the real maiden?
I opened the stopper on the small vial then spilt the blood within on the statue. The doorway slowly creaked open to reveal some stairs going even deeper into the bowels of The Palace of the Kings.
Fresh blood hinted I was on the right track.
It was a maze of seemingly random tunnels with the usual skeever population.
The first vampire I encountered was of the same feral type I killed in Whiterun.
Its blood magic was entirely ineffective on me.
As I cut it down I exclaimed, “Not even Brood Mothers are allowed to feed on my Dovah blood!”
Down, down, down I went.
A turned Orsimer Vigilant was angrily hitting a drain lid with a mace similar to Morag’s. Surrounding him were corpses of assorted vintages, professions and states of decay.
He attacked as soon as he saw me. I cut him down half way through his transformation into one of the bestial vampires. His armour indicated he was of a high rank within the Vigilants.
With a bit of effort I moved the drain lid to the side and climbed down.
Another turned Vigilant stood before me and said, “Gwaji, it is me, Paulo. Have you finally come to your senses? Aredhel has calmed down now. We can go back!”
“I am afraid Gwaji had an accident.”
“You are not Gwaji! What did you do to him? Aaargh…”
I have never encountered a cowardly vampire before! I pursued the terrified Paulo whose screams attracted braver clan members to his defence.
Feral, modern guard, Stormcloak and old guard vampires attacked and died in great numbers.
Mutilated corpses hinted that these were not very nice vampires. In fact they were animals!
A burnt mother and child proved that beyond doubt.
I eventually caught Paulo and thrust my sword through his back. His body floated away in sewerage water which was apt I thought.
Many vampires later and further downward travelling led me to a sunken city. It must have been the original settlement that modern Windhelm was built over.
The only vampires I encountered in the neighbourhood were the feral type but some were huge. They fell easily to my sword.
I trudged through more streets and cut down more vampires till I came to a door with a sign indicating it was to an asylum.
What could be more fun that insane vampires? Nothing I could think of so I entered.
Many vampires were locked in cells. I had an idea why but only one was willing to speak.
He whispered as I drew near, “I will tell you why we are locked away. But we had better hurry before Jericho returns.”
I picked the lock to his cage and introduced myself, “I am Mecine. Who are you and why lock you up?”
Jericho and several other vampires attacked before I got an answer.
They fell to my sword.
“Why did you open the door?”
“I hate speaking through them.”
“I am Thingol and as you can see was once a Vigilant of Stendarr. We are here because of the Blood Matron.”
“You were infected with Vampiris but refused the Rite of the Scion?”
“You know of this?”
“Whether infected by Lamae or another vampire she will offer you more power. Symbols of Arkay and Molag Bal are presented to the Initiate as well as the Basin of Suffering and Basin of Loss. Upon drinking from the basins the Initiate will learn via dreams of the history of Lamae. Then the Initiate profanes the symbols of the two Gods. Their blood is then completely removed by Lamae and if the Initiate is worthwhile, Lamae will revive them with her own blood.”
“Yes, we fought her but were easily overpowered. She infected the survivors by making us drink her blood. We have turned but refuse the Rite.”
“So you will stay here until you accept the Rite. Even though you may crave for blood it will be denied you. But you will not die, just suffer terribly.”
“We will stay here till we give in.”
“You can be cured and returned to the mortal state.”
“That would involve much travel and I am afraid I would be too weak to resist praying on others. I am also tempted by her offer more each day.”
“Is her Crypt within this underground city?”
“Yes and every night I dream of her crying tears of blood. She has been crying ever since Molag Bal violated her. Even now, as she sleeps, I can feel her grief. It has become part of me.”
“Do you wish me to end your suffering?”
“Yes, kill me before I become another bloodthirsty monster!”
“Okay Thingol. Even though this disease taints your body your soul is clean. The Divines will have mercy on you. Are you ready?”
Thingol closed his eyes and nodded. I killed him with a single sword thrust.
I killed several other prisoners who wished to be released from their curse before finding a locked door.
I picked it then entered a narrow and twisting corridor.
I passed several crude statues of Lamae in the form of Vampire Lord with blood pouring out of her mouth.
I entered a chapel of some sort. A total insane Vigilant vampire approached.
“Aredhel is it?”
“Do not speak my name monster of Molag Bal!”
“I know you are crazy and all that but I am Molag’s biggest mortal enemy, not his friend and certainly not his ‘monster’.”
“You lie! I was too late and now they are all dead. They are all lost.”
“Some attacked and some remembered the love of The Divines. It is the weak ones like you that are the monsters!”
“There is only me and her left…and the monster before my eyes. You will go no further! Let the souls of my lost friends find peace in your death.”
“Only those who remembered The Divines will find peace. You will soon be keeping Molag company you insane fool!”
Aredhel was carrying not one but two swords cursed by Molag Bal. So far gone he didn’t even recognise the face that made up the pommels.
As he ran towards me I prepared to end his existence quickly. Then he played his party trick, he vanished.
I just did a broad sweep of my sword as he had to be facing me within that arc to do me harm. I was rewarded with a grunt as my sword cut through his midsection. He dropped to the floor and reappeared.
I searched the corpse and apart from top of the line Vigilant gear was a note that read,
“Jacob is dead. Joshua fled with fear. The rest of us had no choice but to surrender to the Blood Matron.
She accepted our surrender graciously. Not only that, she offered us her blood. But I was the only one who accepted it willingly. The others could not abandon their faith in Stendarr and are still fighting their blood-thirst. I am afraid they will be disposed of if they do not change soon.
As if he was sympathetic to us, her butler Bal had given us reprieve. We have until her next awakening. I will persuade the others to accept her blood until then. This power, this ecstasy, they will accept it.
And we will have a drink together like in the old times.”
My anger arose quickly at the old ‘had no choice’ excuse once again. Aredhel was a coward. Joshua who ran was not. Jacob was the monster of Molag Bal.
Why did he attack me? I had touched the red stone and was now tainted by Molag Bal is my guess. A follower of Lamae would regard me as the enemy.
The end of the chapel was dominated by a larger version of the Lamae as Vampire Lord statue. Held in its claws was a corrupted Shrine of Arkay.
Behind the statue was a lever. Even insane vampires think hidden doors with obvious methods of opening are a good idea.
I pulled the lever and heard a nearby door unlock.
I entered Lamae’s crypt. It was yet another pocket plane.
Molag Bal was sitting and staring at Lamae’s corpse which had a dagger in its chest.
As I approached he vanished.
I had a good look around before approaching Lamae. A throne was at one end.
A skeletal form of a Vigilant lay sprawled on some stairs as if killed when approaching the throne.
When I searched the body I knew for a certainty that it was Master Jacob. How did I know? Instinct!
It seems Jacob made it this far but he had no weapons.
I approached Lamae’s corpse and the dagger in her chest had the strongest dweomer against undead and Daedra that I had ever encountered.
As I reached for it there was a flash and I fell to my knees. As I stood I found myself in another pocket plane with Lamae standing in front of me.
The first thing I noticed was the flower in her hair was purple, not red. That was a great relief!
The second thing I noticed was the lack of a dagger protruding from her chest.
The third thing I noticed was no red eyes or sharp teeth. She was alive.
Whoever stuck me here expected me to be in some sort of stupor. So I played along.
In a very sweet and alluring voice she said, “Did you trip? Let’s move on, the sun is setting.”
“Who…who are you?”
“I’m Lamae, your Lamae. Have you forgotten?”
“No, I remember. Where are we going?”
“We are going to my father’s castle.”
“Do I know your father?”
“Have you forgotten him too? You’ve already met before.”
“Of course I remember it all. Let’s go!”
The plane had the same feeling as the witch grove.
Every time we approached a portcullis it would open automatically and then close again after we passed.
After the last portcullis closed tall doors to a castle were before me. Tall enough to admit Molag Bal in his full size.
Standing in the middle of the doors was the mortal sized Molag Bal.
I looked behind me and the vampiric Lamae approached with the dagger in her chest and glowing…green eyes?
With a beautiful smile she walked up and asked, “Are you ready for our union my beloved?”
“Oh yes, let’s go!”
“I’m so happy. We will always be together, forever and ever.”
We both walked towards Molag Bal who announced, “I, Molag Bal, will bless this union. The two of you will live forever and Arkay will never touch you. So go into the castle. Your baptism awaits.”
I said, “Sorry Lamae, I am already married to a woman I love more than life itself. And I love Lord Arkay as well as the other Divines. I don’t think this will work out.”
She instantly teleported to the centre of the square and summoned a vampire.
“Your eyes are so cold. You’re just like him! Will you answer my love with a dagger to the heart too?”
“I fight Molag Bal and am your ally. Let me help you get revenge on him.”
This was her nightmare but Molag Bal was orchestrating it.
She said with inhuman malice, “You can’t run from me. I won’t let you. You will come with me even if I have to tear you to pieces first!”
I cut down the feral vampire and stood before Lamae.
Before I could strike her with my sword I found myself standing over her sarcophagus once more. Gone was the well preserved body. In its place was a desiccated corpse with glowing green eyes.
Just to prove he was running out of original ideas Molag Bal surrounded the room with flames. His disembodied voice boomed, “Rise Lamae! Rise and sink your fangs into the flesh of this mortal and I will let you dream again.”
I turned and witnessed some sort of energy reach out from the throne and envelope Lamae.
Then she was surrounded by a ring of fire.
The fire died down and the desiccated Lamae had arisen. She attacked with spell, tooth, claws, blood magic and summoned vampires.
Several times I cut her down only for her to arise once more.
I noticed the energy again so ran to the throne. A ghostly figure of Molag Bal sat upon it.
I hit it with my sword. Nothing happened.
By this time Lamae was up again. After I cut her down again I searched her. I found the dagger that was in her chest earlier. I equipped it then ran to the throne.
This time when I hit the ghostly Molag it vanished with a bright flash.
Lamae collapsed on the stairs. I stood over her and felt nothing but sadness for the poor girl. How long had Molag been taunting her? Did Jacob refuse her union and plunge the dagger into her? That seems the most likely scenario.
I placed her into the sarcophagus and slid the lid into place. I then found my way out of the underground complex.
I approached Jorleif and told him, “Windhelm has always seemed gloomy and depressing. It may be the ancient city with the tomb of Lamae underneath it that added to that feeling. I will inform the relative authorities and you may find an influx of scholars and mages very soon. It needs to be mapped and studied.”
“Is it safe?”
“After I laid Lamae to rest it should be.”
“I thought it was just our Emperor who did such things as you just accomplished.”
I laughed and made my way back to the Temple of Stendarr.
Time must have run a bit faster in the pocket realms because it was almost 3:00PM on the 26th when Revel and I arrived at the Temple.
Just inside the gates was a wagon with a Khajiit driver. Many Vigilants had arrived in my absence and the Temple was teeming with life once again.
I made sure Revel was comfortable in the stables then made my way inside.
“Keeper Gwyneth, I am happy to report the situation in Windhelm is resolved.”
“Was it Lamae?
“Yes and Molag Bal once again. I think Master Jacob got as far as her crypt but got caught in a dream she repeatedly had about marriage or some sort of union. I believe he rejected her and stabbed her with this dagger. Then was killed by her at the urging of Molag Bal.”
I handed Gwyneth the dagger I had retrieved from Lamae’s corpse. She held it and said, “I can feel some sort of dweomer on it.”
“It will do great damage to undead and Daedra. In fact it might be enough to send many of the weaker Daedra back to Oblivion. It is a weapon suitable for the Keeper so keep it.”
“I will and thank you. But I am confused as Master Jacob has been with us for all the years since so how could he have died?”
“Either his soul ended up in Coldharbour recently or Molag Bal gave him a new body when he died decades ago. It was impossible to tell what strange things time wise were happening in that crypt. It was a pocket plane of Oblivion.”
“You were hoping Master Jacob was allowed into Aetherius.”
“The sequence of events is all conjecture. Jacob did end up in Aetherius. When it comes to Gods and time and multiple occurrences of mortals it is best just to shrug your shoulders and accept the seemingly impossible.”
“I will take your word for it. I haven’t spoken to or fought any Gods lately.”
“And hopefully you never will. What is next Keeper Gwyneth?”
“You would have noticed replacements have arrived and are settling in. I was looking through Keeper Thorondir’s notes and came across something disturbing. Some time ago a Vigilant was sent to the mansion of a noble in Chorrol. A few days ago the Keeper received a letter from him asking for reinforcements. I was going to send him a few Vigilants immediately but hoped to speak to you first.”
“Why is that?”
“Letters were taking longer than usual from the Vigilants in Cyrodiil thanks to the restrictions placed by the previous Emperor. Since the new Emperor and Queen have been crowned things have improved but it will take time I think for the mail to return to normal. However it has been months since he was sent there and the request for help was dated not long after he arrived.”
“There was a lot of turmoil during the reign of Emperor Sethius and the war to remove him from the Ruby Throne was chaotic.”
“We are always neutral in such things. Otherwise we could never perform our duties. So I doubt he was involved in any fighting.”
“Thousands of bandits were in Emperor Sethius’ employ as the ‘New Imperial Legion’. They returned to banditry once Emperor Sethius was removed. There is a chance the household became victims of such.”
“You should have seen the turmoil when it was revealed his wife was a Daughter of Coldharbour!”
“I doubt any Vigilants were invited to the palace so you would not have known.”
“True. So what should we do about our missing Vigilant and his call for help?”
“Keeper Gwyneth, you tell me what you think we should do.”
“Okay. I would like you to investigate.”
“That is why you have a carriage waiting for me outside.”
“You have just come back from many hours of dealing with vampires and Gods.”
“I do not tire. I will go right now and if I do not return within two weeks contact High Queen Elisif. She will know what to do.”
“Why bother the Queen? Why not send some Vigilants?”
“If something stops me returning then you would be sending them to their deaths.”
“I believe you. Please, take the dagger with you and gift it to me when you return.”
I took the dagger and asked, “What is the missing Vigilant’s name?”
“He is Master Bartholo.”
I exited the Temple then introduced myself to the carriage driver, “Hello. I am Mecine. I believe you are my carriage driver for the trip to Chorrol.”
“This Khajiit is called M’que. The Mansion is in the Dragontail Mountains. I know the route from my time on the caravans.”
“I am happy to meet you M’que. What is the name of the estate?”
“It is the Bruiant Mansion owned by that noble family for generations.”
“That is peculiar. I am very familiar with Cyrodiil nobility and have never heard of them.”
“Khajiit knows nobody in Chorrol so does not find a mystery.”
“Who is the master of the house?”
“Okay, let’s go.”
I climbed aboard the carriage and busied myself with trying to figure out the mystery of Master Jacob.
I was expecting several hours of travel so was surprised when we pulled up in front of the mansion a half hour later.
I asked M’que, “How long do you think that trip took?”
“About five hours. Why do you ask?”
“Look at the position of the sun. It took just over half an hour.”
“How can this be?”
“Somebody is playing with us. I advise you do not go far from the carriage.”
“This Khajiit thinks it was a mistake giving up bandits and racists for Daedra and vampires.”
I approached the mansion only to be met by a rather unpleasant servant. I had met his type recently in Evermore. He was Ayleid. Detect Life revealed he was undead.
“Hello, I am Mecine and am here on behalf of the Vigilants of Stendarr.”
“I am Bal. Welcome to Bruiant Mansion.”
“Bal is a rather sinister name for a Wild Elf!”
“I am surprised you recognised me as Ayleid. If you knew your history you would know Bal was not an unusual name for my people.”
“Yes, when they turned from the worship of the Aedra to the Daedra out of greed and stupidity many adopted parts of their favourite Dark Lord’s name.”
Bal stared at me and the hatred was clear. He is a servant of Molag but I doubt his master has let him know who I am.
I said, “A fellow vigilant, Bartholo, came here at the request of the master of the house.”
“Master Bartholo is waiting for you inside.”
“How long have you worked for your Lord?”
Bal knew I was referring to Molag, not Marcus.
He smiled and replied, “If I may invite you in, my Lord is also waiting for you.”
Bal did not follow as I walked to the front entrance. A sense of unease increased as I got closer. It would be enough to deter most from entering but it just piqued my interest.
From the entranceway I could see a body of a man with a dagger embedded it his forehead. On a balcony overlooking the grisly scene was the grey outline of a young boy.
It was like he was made of granite. In front of the balcony was an impressive statue of Dibella.
When I approached the corpse the boy vanished.
I assumed the body was that of Marcus Bruiant and its position provided some clues. He fell backwards and by the angle of the dagger was looking up at the balcony when it hit. It looked like his arm had been charred to the bone and most of it was missing.
Was it patricide? That would be pure speculation since I don’t know who the boy is or even if he threw the dagger. The dagger was embedded fairly deep so some force was needed in the throw.
Within a pocket I found a note which read,
“My tears, they won’t stop. All I can still feel is hate and yet I’m drowning in tears.
My beloved son Julius is no longer human. He is a Child of Oblivion. It’s my entire fault. All I can do now is to take my responsibility.”
So the mysterious boy is Julius and his father thought he was under the influence of a Daedric Prince. It seems Molag is at play again but why this family?
The door to the right of the entrance was locked. The door to the left was not. So I went left.
When I opened the door Julius was turning right at an intersection. It seems he will be my guide on this tour of the mansion.
There were many suits of ebony armour where the helms had no eye slits. I will probably set off something that will make them all come alive and attack me.
Julius was at the end of the long right hand corridor so I followed him like a faithful puppy.
As I passed a door it swung open.
Julius was standing near a table and two glowing books.
I don’t think I have ever mentioned the dweomer that Urag gro-Shub taught me when I was Arch-Mage. When placed on my helm it lets me find books and notes that I may overlook otherwise.
As I approached the table Julius vanished but something more sinister replaced him. There was a shrine to Molag Bal somewhere nearby. Whenever I get in proximity of one I can sense it and the experience is not pleasant.
One book was Master Bartholo’s Journal and the small dresser it was on was covered in blood.
“8 Morning Star 4E 205
Marcus, head of the Bruiant family, visited our Temple of Stendarr. He requested an investigation of ‘unfortunate accidents’ which happened recently in his mansion. Marcus suspects the cause of these ‘accidents’ may be something magical. After listening to him I cannot find any connection between these ‘accidents’ – they seem more like unfortunate coincidences. Keeper Thorondir thinks the same. However, as with the story about the necromancers lurking in the basement of a mansion in Anvil, I think there may be more to this. After consultation with Thorondir it was decided I will investigate this case.
10 Sun’s Dawn 4E 205
A month passed since I arrived at the mansion and no accident happened yet. I wonder whether my worries were unfounded. No, I can’t afford to let down my guard. If there are any demons or Daedra, they may be cautious around me. I will continue this investigation for another month.
4 First Seed 4E 205
Butler Lamthor, the maid Patricia and the cook Summil all died unnatural deaths. Unfortunately, I was unable to prevent their deaths. However, their demise confirms my theory. The evil spirit of this house had been only hiding. And then, when it could no longer resist the thirst for blood, it committed new atrocities. But perhaps foolishly, it left a trace behind, and I sense a dark energy around the victims. I carefully move around the mansion and within the storeroom and found a totem. Judging by its appearance, it belongs to Molag Bal. A very strong Blood Curse hangs over it. It’s obvious this is the cause of all this misfortune. I will try to dispel this totem tonight.
5 First Seed 4E 205
I’ve successfully dispelled the totem. It rusted and its devastating magical power faded.
But the curse put on it was unusual. It was so full of hatred and anger it made me sick. Hatred in its purest form. And the Blood Curse that was applied to the totem was very similar to that of ancient Ayleid magic. Judging by the nature and strength of the curse, its caster must be paying a high price. The most frightening thing is the willingness of the caster. What could drive someone so far?
I am getting old. Dispelling that single totem exhausted almost all my strength and judging by the power of the curse, there should be at least 4 or 5 more totems. I can’t take care of it by myself, so I decided to request assistance from the Temple. I sent the letter with the fastest carriage at the estate and it should arrive at the Temple tomorrow morning. The reinforcements should then arrive in two or three days. In the meantime, I’m taking a day off to rest.
6 First Seed 4E 205
I’m being overcome with fear. My hands are trembling and I can’t stop sweating. I made a mistake. I shouldn’t have tried to dispel the curse before reinforcements from the Temple arrived. Dispelling was not complete… The totem regained its evil glow and started making an eerie sound. I can feel curse crawling over me.
The doors and windows disappeared and everything faded in thick fog. There is no way out. I can’t escape.
Stendarr, give me strength. Please, give me the courage to face this fear…”
So Master Bartholo could sense Molag’s totems and idols and shrines like I can. He says he couldn’t find his way out of his room yet his journal did! It was on top of the blood so placed after the violence in the room. A dweomer was placed on him and his bedroom. I do not think the totem he is talking about teleported him to somewhere on Nirn or a pocket plane.
The second book was one of Marcus Bruiant journals, this one dated 4E 205.
“8 Morning Star 4E 205
I visited the Temple of Stendarr in Skyrim to find out the cause of unfortunate accidents happening in my mansion. The Vigilants I talked to really listened to my story. It was very different from the officials of the Imperial City.
9 Morning Star 4E 205
The Temple will send me a skilled Vigilant, Bartholo.
I and Julius are starting to suffer because of these continued incidents. Julius hasn’t said a word since his mother vanished. Even if this case is solved, will we ever have peace again? There is only uneasiness and worry before me.
12 Sun’s Dawn 4E 205
A month passed since Bartholo arrived at the mansion.
These unfortunate incidents seem to have stopped suddenly. I don’t hear crawling from the hallways in the middle of the night anymore. We haven’t had such peaceful days since Julia’s disappearance. However, this doesn’t mean my worries have ceased. But it should be all fine now… Because the Temple sent me one of their Vigilants. I have nothing to worry about.
Julius behaved strangely in that past month. He avoids Bartholo’s presence. I wonder why? He never acted like this…
20 Sun’s Dawn 4E 205
Lamthor, the butler, is dead. He was killed by the dogs and the scene was terrible. Dogs were barking like crazy and I couldn’t bear it. However, they quietened when Bartholo ran to them and cast some spell. According to Bartholo, the dogs were under influence of a frenzy spell.
Who could have done that? There is no one skilled in magic on my estate.
25 Sun’s Dawn 4E 205
The maid, Patricia, committed suicide.
Bal, the butler, found her dead, hanging in her room.
She always seemed fine to me. She wasn’t struggling with anything.
Why did she do this?
1 First Seed 4E 205
Summil, the cook, went insane.
He attacked me with a meat cleaver but thanks to Bartholo I got away without a scratch. I decided to have Summil restrained and confined in the storeroom.
I heard crawling from the hallways again. It even seemed louder than before. Whatever it is, it’s a bad omen. I should tell Bartholo about it tomorrow.
2 First Seed 4E 205
Summil died. He was found dead in the ice storeroom, apparently bitten to death by a skeever. Situation seems to be worsening. Bartholo seems to know something, but he won’t talk to me. Is there a reason why he wouldn’t tell me?
5 First Seed 4E 205
Bartholo behaves strangely. He looks very tired and somehow distant today. Did something happen?
Julius is staying in his mother’s room more and more often. Is he missing her so much?
6 First Seed 4E 205
Bartholo won’t come out of his room. I tried to speak to him, but there was no answer. He’s still in bed, apparently. I’m sure there’s nothing wrong, but still…
Julius has been playing in front of Bartholo’s room. He was avoiding Bartholo for a long time, but now he’s suddenly seeking out his presence… What changed his mind?”
Why do parents ignore the basic signs of possession?
There are five or six totems or shrines. That is a lot of effort on Molag’s behalf. Once again I ask why this house, why this family?
I could have followed the blood trail or the uneasy feeling. Both let to the shrine.
Being very careful not to touch it I examined it very closely. Fine writing in Ayleidoon across the forehead said ‘Shivering’. There was only one way of finding out what the Blood Curse of Shivering was. I touched the shrine.
I found myself in a pocket plane. It was a rust and orange coloured pocket plane.
There were undead without heads in some prison cells.
The same type, armed with two handed and one handed swords with Molag’s ugly face for pommels, wandered the corridors.
I armed myself with the knife I found on Lamae.
It was an efficient weapon.
Floating skulls insisted they had a right to chomp on me.
They took more than one hit to kill with the knife so I used my sword instead.
A dead Dunmer woman lay upon a blood soaked bed. When I searched her I found a note,
The young master was playing on the stairs in the hall today. There may still be some toys and scribbles left.
An important guest from the Imperial City is coming tomorrow, so please clean the hall thoroughly today. We must not bring shame to our master.
So assuming the corpse was Heather I surmise she was a maid along with one mentioned earlier, Patricia. Lamthor was the butler.
The level of cleanliness demanded by Lamthor suggested one of those houses where appearances are paramount. What kind of representative from the Imperial City would be offended by evidence of a child at play? What kind of father would be embarrassed by such evidence?
Stinks of the type of nobility I detest. When I remember mingling with the Cyrodiil elite while guarding Rigmor I feel like having a bath.
Heather’s death had not been mentioned in Marcus’ or Bartholo’s journals. That was not definitive evidence of the sequence of deaths but a clue nonetheless.
The next interesting creature was a giant blood filled slug or larvae.
After killing it and looking up close I don’t think it would become a popular choice for a pet in Cyrodiil.
This pocket realm was a boring maze of corridors and stairs. Molag has found my weakness and is trying to bore me to death.
Finally came to a room with many beheaded undead women.
There was a very tall one with some sort of mask on its invisible face.
After killing them all I approached a Shrine of Molag Bal.
Sitting in the blood was a Sigil Stone. I doubt it was of much power but whatever dweomer it had would be Daedric in nature.
What do you do with a Sigil Stone? You hit it really hard and shatter it of course!
I did so and was transported back to the now harmless shrine.
Julius made an appearance and led me to another room with a shrine.
It was a bedroom with a bloodied bed.
There were two notes on a table. The first indicated the maid Patricia and Bal were knocking boots,
I am very scared of the young master. Am I wrong?
Those dark eyes of his make me feel as if I’m looking at Oblivion when I see them.
I cannot stop trembling. Would you mind stopping this trembling with your strong arms tonight as well?
The second was a warning from the butler to Bal,
Please don’t tell such strange stories to the young master.
In the education of a noble there is simply no place for knowledge about black magic and people that have long since passed. I do not want you to tell him such things in the future, even if he asks.
I just want the best for the boy.
This Lamthor was starting to irritate me. Hide the signs of a happy child and don’t dare teach him the history of The Empire in which he lives!
Studying the shrine the Ayleidoon writing indicated I was about to invoke the Blood Curse of Corruption.
I touched it and found myself in another boring maze of the same boring colour scheme. Does Molag want me to cry out in mercy?
Where I appeared in the pocket plane lay the body of a Nord female. A search found no identifying information. I assume it was the other maid, Patricia.
A pile of burning thrones suggested somebody was not very happy with an authority figure.
More slug things.
After weaving through endless corridors and levels of metal bars I came to a Shrine with Sigil Stone similar to before. It was guarded by a giant multi headed ugly thing.
There was an unlocked door which I could have opened and fought the beast but why risk a bruise or two? I just peppered it with ethereal arrows through the bars.
It was soon reduced to some sort of goo.
Same deal as before with the Sigil Stone. I gave it a whack with my sword.
And found myself back in front of the now harmless shrine.
Julius led me to another bedroom. A note on the table indicated it was Summil’s. He was the cook who went insane and was locked up in some storeroom only to get chomped on by a Skeever. It read,
“I found it! The source of that crawling sound my lord keeps hearing at night. A Red Witch was there… She crawled across the ceiling. I shudder every time I remember her face. I… I am being followed by her. She is in front of my door now. But she’s only there at night… Surely, she will vanish in the morning! Then I will tell Sir Bartholo about that witch.
Some of the artwork in the mansion was a bit disturbing. They might depict well known mythology and history by really, are they necessary?
I followed Julius to the pantry/storeroom where Summil had been imprisoned. A note on a shelf had the same handwriting as the one in Summil’s room so I assume it was written by him. All that was written on it were the words, ‘She is coming’. However those three words were written dozens of times till Summil ran out of space to write any more.
In the corner of the room there were several Skeever next to blood and bones covering a trapdoor. Something had killed the Skeevers but not before they ate the cook!
Julius led me to his bedroom. There were many high quality toys strewn about including a small Dwemer Spiderbot.
As I was carefully having a look around a noise of something approaching along the corridor caught my attention. I turned and watched as the ‘Red Witch’ Summil mentioned approached.
My stamina was being quickly drained and the closer the witch got the more rapid the depletion. The new dweomer placed on my armour by Lord Akatosh kept the depletion to a much lower level otherwise I would have been unconscious in seconds. As it was I had to do something to shorten the fight otherwise I would die.
I used the Slow Time Shout so I could more rapidly strike the witch. As it was it took many blows, far more than any creature I have encountered in months, to bring her down.
No sooner had I taken down the Red Witch another witch attacked. I recognised the essence of it to be Patricia the maid. It was just as strong and deadly and took just as long to silence.
Whatever dark magics has been worked on Patricia made her into something grotesque with extra arms and misshaped skull.
I had a closer look at the Red Witch. I could not sense from what mortal it had been created.
Neither body had anything useful on them.
On a bloodied table was a key and Marcus’ Journal of 4E 204.
“3 First Seed 4E 204
My wife Julia has grown cold to me. She doesn’t speak to me, barely looks at me. Has she found out about my infidelity? No, she couldn’t have…
9 Sun’s Height 4E 204
Julia and Julius vanished. I had servants search the mansion, but they haven’t found them.
19 Sun’s Height 4E 204
Julius was found in the forest. He does not speak, and he seems to be extremely distraught. Julia is still missing.
28 Sun’s Height 4E 204
A Vigilant of Stendarr visited the mansion. His name is Jacob. He had my wife’s ring. According to him, Julia was found floating in the northern part of lake Ilinalta. Apparently, some fishermen found her. Strangely, her body was burned, the water around it boiling hot and large amounts of dead fish and birds floated around it. Vigilant Jacob said her body was burning from the inside… What depraved sorcerer could do this to her? They put out the flames inside her body and buried her deeply. In her ashes, Jacob found the ring with my and her name on it and then came all the way from Skyrim to bring it to me. That was the only thing left from her.
Strangely enough, I feel relieved. The news of her death saddened me, but I shed no tears for her. Did the love I swore before Mara fade so completely? Why? But now, I’m relieved.
Julius hasn’t spoken since the day he was found in the forest. Knowing about the death of his mother will only sadden him more. I won’t tell him about Julia’s death.
17 Frostfall 4E 204
The maid, Heather, fell down the stairs and broke her neck. Her hometown is in Valenwood… Silvenar, I think. Ten septims should be enough to transport her body there. She was a clumsy girl, but something like that to happen…
Julius didn’t react even though he saw her death. I’m ashamed to admit I feel afraid of my own son. Even though he’s my only child I can’t bear to stay around him anymore…
28 Frostfall 4E 204
Lately I keep hearing something crawling along the hallways in the middle of the night. I summoned my courage and decided to find the source of this sound. But I couldn’t find anything. Am I just hearing things? If so, I’m tired of it. And that thing with Heather… I need a long break. I’ve been approached by several people from the Imperial City, but I’ll call them all away.
I decided to hire a new butler today. An Elf called Bal. Surprisingly, Julius immediately took to him. I’m sure that Elf will take good care of my son.
19 Sun’s Dusk 4E 204
Clifford, the other butler, has been found dead in the courtyard pond. The cause of his death is likely am illness of the heart. Healers told me the name of his illness, but it tells me nothing. Clifford served the Bruiant family since I was a child. He was always there for my family… From the bottom of my heart, I believe his death is incredibly sad. And still the tears won’t come. They didn’t when my wife died either. I wonder if I am just a ruthless person…
Julius is watching that pond a lot. I wonder if he’s grieving Clifford’s death… I can’t read any emotion from his empty eyes.
7 Evening Star 4E 204
The sound of something crawling down the hallways is getting louder. This shouldn’t be happening. Is something wrong with my mind?
17 Evening Star 4E 204
The Khajiit gardener, M’zaq, died. He fell from the tree and slit his throat with his own gardening shears. The accident happened right in front of me. It was just after the morning greetings. This is completely insane! I’m not out of my mind!
There’s something in the mansion. Something horrible is crawling around the house.
29 Evening Star 4E 204
I’m having nightmares every night. In the room full of rust and blood I see Julius, his eyes blazing like fire. A man in black armour and Julia stand beside him. The armoured man points at me and Julia gives me a single red stone. It burns my hands and my arms turn to ashes, I scream in pain, but Julia just laughs soundlessly and Julius only looks at me. The nightmare always ends there, but it’s becoming clearer and clearer every day. It’s just a stupid dream and yet I’m getting more and more afraid every day… What should I do?”
Marcus invited this evil into his home. He betrayed his sacred vows made before Lady Mara. His wife Julia must have found and out and fled with their son Julius. Both of them would have been angry with the Divines and easy prey for Molag Bal.
So conveniently Master Jacob finds her body and returns her ring. Molag Ball appears in his dreams standing beside son and wife. Julia presents him with a red stone thus condemning his soul to Oblivion. One of his arms had been charred when I examined the body.
Julius would be typical of a child who suffered the expectations of strict parents only to find one of them a hypocrite and liar. He would have known what happened to his mother so Marcus not telling him would have contributed to the hate he felt.
Bal has obviously been a mortal agent of Molag’s for millennia. He helped stoke the evil within the house to the level it is now.
I would have to follow Julius to the conclusion of this sad tale. He was lying on his bed.
And vanished leaving a blood stain behind when I approached.
I guessed the key was for the trapdoor I saw before and headed for it.
Doors and passageways were now blocked by blood and gore forcing me to take particular routes.
I opened the trapdoor then climbed down to the lower level.
I paused and listened. There were slow shuffling footsteps nearby.
They came from rather tall shambling beast carrying a carving knife. The type used by cooks.
Turns out it was the male equivalent of the witches I encountered before. This time I had to be aware of a flashing carving knife as well as deal with the energy drain. The Slow Time Shout and dweomer on my armour once again saved my life.
It was Summil the cook transformed.
I entered a storeroom full of butchered human remains.
Hanging from a chain over a butcher’s table was a key.
Exiting via the right hand corridor I ended up even lower down where the basement was flooded.
I came back up into a library where I found there is more than one of each of the witches roaming the halls.
The key I found before unlocked a door.
It opened to a courtyard.
Several dead dogs were scattered about. They were the ones that went into a frenzy and the Vigilant had killed.
As I approached the small pond in the middle a familiar but unwanted feeling let me know there was a shrine to Molag Bal nearby. I walked over the bridge and that confirmed its location.
I dived into the pond and approached it. The writing said, ‘Foam’.
I touched the shrine and ended up in another pocket plane of boredom. This time the maze consisted of cages and bars.
I found the body of the butler Lamthor as Julius wanted me to. The bodies of victims had been taken from their place of death and placed strategically. The idea was a sad story would unfold slowly as I went along.
On the body I found a letter from Lamthor to the cheating slime Marcus,
That Elf who arrived recently seems to be negatively affecting your son. I think I saw him playing with the dogs in the courtyard this morning, muttering a strange spell to them. I am sure that Elf taught him this. He is uncanny and may have an adverse impact on the future of young master Julius. I would like you to consider dismissing that Elf.
‘That Elf’ had a name. Instead of using it Lamthor reduced Bal to an object and not a person. A common trait of people who do not even realise they are racist.
The creatures of this pocket plane looked like animated Ayleid Flesh Sculptures. They were not much of a hindrance.
A bit further on I found the body of Clifford, one of the butlers.
From it I retrieved the following note,
Yesterday the young master threw some sort of black doll into the pond in mischief. It’s unnatural and shining so awfully black in the water.
I’d remove it myself but I hurt my back recently, so I’d like you to do this.
Of course, I will pay you back for this favour. I received a bottle of the finest quality wine from our master. Shall we drink it together tonight?
Clifford died in the pond trying to reach the shrine. I do not think it was a natural death.
I finally made it to the Sigil Stone and altar. They were guarded by a large Storm Atronach.
A couple of ethereal arrows later it fell apart.
Next to the altar was the body of M’zaq, the Khajiit gardener. A note on him suggested his accident was more likely suicide.
“M’zaq’s shears cut everything even a tree trunk or the armour of a mudcrab. And the soft flesh is simplicity itself.”
Another note gave a hint as to the pressure he was under,
You told me you stopped taking Skooma.
Then why did I see you wandering the hallways last night and mumbling to yourself? You even claimed you’ve seen the ghost of lady Bruiant.
I hope a three-month salary cut will bring you back to your senses. I also expect you to get rid of any and all Skooma you may still have. If I ever see you like this again, I will have to convince our master to throw you out of the mansion.
I only want the best for you, M’zaq.
I doubt he was taking Skooma. He was seeing evil and it probably convinced him that falling from a tree onto his own shears was a great idea.
Once again I hit the Sigil Stone to return but surprisingly I was placed on the bridge, not the bottom of the pond.
I made my way to the door opposite to the one I used to enter the courtyard.
I opened it to a very long corridor.
Julius appeared and led me to a bedroom.
Inside the room was a key was under a skull.
I then followed him to Master Bartholo’s bedroom.
For some reason the Vigilant’s remains were skeletal. They would not have rotted away to such a state naturally in the time from his death.
The amount of blood surrounding the remains was far in excess of any other I had seen in the mansion.
The name on the shrine told me I was about to enter the Blood Curse of Chain.
Same colours and maze like construction.
I soon came across what those big ugly larvae things grow into.
They were slow and easily dispatched.
Another new creature was encountered. A two headed floating skeleton.
The body discovered this time was Summil. He had nothing on him of any use.
This maze led to a quite large area covered with shallow water.
I entered the last room and initially thought Molag Bal had come out to play.
But it turned out to be an Imperial wearing Molag’s armour guarding the altar and Sigil Stone.
He was an average swordsman and soon lost his head.
There was nothing on the body to identify my assailant. Intuition told me it was Master Bartholo. What better way to humiliate a Vigilant of Stendarr than make him wear a Daedric Prince’s armour?
I hit the Sigil Stone and returned to Bartholo’s bedroom.
Julius then led me to his parents’ bedroom. He stood by a table when I entered.
On the table was Marcus’ journal from 4E 203,
“15 Sun’s Dawn 4E 203
It can’t be a coincidence I met her in the city of Markarth. I’ve decided to break the bond of Mara with Julia. It’s not my fault I was deceived by Dibella. This City of Stone is full of vices and it should swallow my small sin without anyone noticing.
8 Second Seed 4E 203
I spent the last night at her side again. At first I was crushed with guilt for Julia, but her warm skin helped me forget it. My wife isn’t here. The only one here is her, looking like the goddess Dibella herself.
24 Sun’s Height 4E 203
A letter from the Imperial City came. I have no attachments whatsoever to the City of Stone, but I feel like my heart is tearing apart at the thought of having to leave her.
I bought a Dwemer spider automaton as a souvenir for Julius. I’m sure he’ll be pleased.
11 Hearthfire 4E 203
The City of Stone is the same as ever. Everywhere you look there are bad-mannered guards, persistent beggars and everyone’s breath smells as if they eat dead bodies for lunch. But she is different. She is Dibella’s white lily. My last Aetherius.
She will be mine tonight. I brought enough money to silence even that Khajiit slaver. If negotiations go well I’m sure I’ll be able to free her from these rotten people.
12 Hearthfire 4E 203
Negotiations went well. Spending 10 000 septims was painful, but she is mine now and it was worth every last septim. The only question now is, how to explain this expense to Julia?
24 Evening Star 4E 203
She got pregnant. She was so happy when she told me. I was furious. I still feel ashamed of myself for losing my composure. Did I do the right thing when I threw her out of the palace, as scantily dressed as she was? Should I pay the guards to silence her? No, it’s useless. I would be the first one suspected if it came to bloodshed. What is the best course of action? Think, Marcus, think!
27 Evening Star 4E 203
She went crying to the Jarl the damn whore! As a result I now have to pay for her living expenses and donate 100,000 septims to Markarth. I had no choice. Obviously, I paid the full amount. I’ll never forget the Jarl’s smug face. I wanted to hit him, but he was surrounded with the guards.
You’re a tough man, Marcus. Be confident. Anyway, I still have to think of an excuse for Julia.
I’m leaving this rotten city tomorrow. I’m never coming back here.”
So the piece of slime got a slave girl pregnant, kicks her out onto the street and blames Lady Dibella.
Monetarily it cost 110,000 septims in total because he couldn’t keep his cock where it should be.
It also allowed Molag Bal to play in this mansion and cause the terrible deaths and corruption of so many people.
Under the bed I found Julia’s journal.
Whatever was originally written was hidden by thousands of repetitions of a single word, ‘die’.
A suspiciously wide cupboard caught my attention.
Not surprisingly it had a false back. Julius was waiting for me to follow.
He led me to more water.
On a seat next to an altar of Molag Bal was a note.
I’m leaving you today and I’m taking Julius with me.
A portcullis suddenly blocked my exit.
A ladder to a trapdoor led out of the room.
The altar led to the Blood Course of Jealousy.
I touched the altar and found myself in a pocket plane with the Bruiant Mansion in the distance and knee deep water all around.
I could see a three headed skeleton and plenty of those headless women.
It did not take long to despatch them all.
I entered the mansion. In the distance the body of a well-dressed woman floated. It was the betrayed lady of the house, Julia. Behind her was an altar and Sigil Stone.
As I approached the corpse a huge Red Witch attacked.
I cut it down.
I inspected the body of Julia. It held no notes or anything useful.
I inspected the body of the Red Witch and realised it too was Julia. Her form warped by evil.
I hit the Sigil Stone and returned to the room with ladder and trapdoor. Bal was waiting for me.
He said, “What a stubborn guest you are. Why couldn’t you just die?”
I replied, “You have no idea who you are dealing with do you? Molag Bal knew I would not die. You are just another of his sacrifices.”
Bal attacked with sword in one hand and spell in the other.
I knocked his sword flying then stunned him with my shield.
He screamed when he saw my sword heading for his neck.
There was nothing useful on his body.
I climbed the ladder and through the trapdoor.
I found myself in a long hall. This was not a pocket realm but an actual part of the mansion. The body of Julius lay sprawled on the floor.
Next to him were red flowers and a dagger. He had killed himself by slitting his wrists.
He had a note on him with the words, ‘No, Daddy.’ written dozens of times.
The dagger was not real. It was a summoned and bound dagger that should have vanished upon the caster’s death.
I dispelled it and Julius body burnt from within. Just like his mother’s did according to Master Jacob.
There was a flash.
I was now in a duplicate of the room within a pocket realm. The traditional ring of flames suggested Molag was nearby.
Julius attacked with the best spells he knew and I quickly cut him down. There was nothing on the body.
An avatar of Molag Bal stood with his arms crossed waiting for me to come and have a chat.
When I got close his deep baritone voice lamented, “Fragile, how very fragile mortals are.”
I replied, “You keep playing these petty games with mortals between unsuccessful attempts to breach Martin’s Barrier. Such a drab existence you lead.”
“Mortals disgust me. It infuriates me when I see Aetherius inside you. I despise all of creation. I despise all of Mundus. I despise you insignificant mortals most of all! You are so brilliant in your goodness and your innocence.”
“Goodness? That is such a strange term for a Daedric Prince to use. You are not evil and we are not good. You are a product of your creation and there is nothing you can do about it. A pack of hungry wolves that bring down a child for dinner is not evil. They are simply wolves. Molag Bal is not evil but doing as his instincts dictate. You know that and such knowledge nurtures the real reason for your hatred of mortals. You envy our absolute free will. Therefore you use it to play your silly games and to put into action your grander schemes. We use the term good and evil simply to differentiate our base feelings on a matter but it is superfluous when describing the Dark Lords.”
“I will devour you and all Aetherius. I will never stop until everything is mine.”
“And do you do yearn for that as a free choice? No, you could never choose to do anything different. Locked into that path from the day you formed. I feel pity for you. And that is why mortals are far from weak or pathetic. We have free will combined with, as Lady Mara once described it to me, ‘True empathy. A thing Gods lacking the same fragility of mortals cannot grasp.’”
“Let me save you. Not much longer now and you will be incinerated by the flames of Julius’ hatred. This child’s hatred is strong. Its flames will not go out until they burn you to ashes. Even Lamae’s hatred was nothing like this.”
“You cannot penetrate my mind so are blind to my abilities. You immortals always underestimate the power provided by Magnus, a neutral figure in your wars. I assure you that I can leave here unharmed whenever I wish. Besides, why would you want to save me? More importantly, why would I accept your help?”
“You rely on the powers of another God once again as your precious Divines will not lift a finger to save your pathetic skin. Azura saved you once. Boethia stood by your side. The Aedra are weak and nothing but illusion. They cannot feed the starving. They cannot warm the freezing.”
“They sacrificed much to create and preserve Mundus. Their love for mortals is unquestionable and absolute. The climates change to suit the species via the Bones of the Earth. They lost much of themselves and some even perished to create them and ensure Mundus survived. First the Dragon Flames and now Martin’s Barrier ensure we decide our fate. It is up to us to provide the food for the hungry and to warm the cold amongst us. Empathy, or lack thereof, and free will dictate the conditions in which mortals find themselves living.”
“I offer you a chance to see how things could be different. I will show you a miracle.”
“What I have seen and therefore the decisions I make have been biased by The Divines interference. They did not want my past influencing my decisions so wiped it from my mind. So a question always plagues me. Am I really exercising free will or have my choices been artificially reduced?”
“The wiping of your memory may simply have been a way of reusing a broken asset. I will admit I had not thought of it till the day you turned up in Helgen. I took notice of you as you were a move in their war against me. One of those nearby was a long term follower of mine and acted as my surrogate. You had not yet developed your mind shield and I could see the gaps. Altano was useless till I did the same to him.”
“Don’t think I have not pondered the same. Was I broken and that is how they fixed me? So a good try Molag but that does not create any new doubts about my service to The Divine.”
“Then come and look for yourself. Make sure your choices are based on more knowledge than what your precious Divines have provided you.”
“So we have come to the same conclusion you and me. I am willing to visit your realm Lord Molag Bal. Let me see for myself what Coldharbour offers as an alternative.”
A gateway to Coldharbour appeared then Molag said, “Enter through the gateway. You have my word I will not harm you as long as you do not try and harm me. I will return you safely to Nirn if you so ask.”
A Daedric Prince’s word is absolute. They cannot break it.
So I did what The Divines asked. I entered Coldharbour.