Coldharbour, Aetherius, Nirn: Not a miracle.
I walked through the portal and found myself lying flat inside a sarcophagus. Molag Bal’s sense of humour is somewhat warped.
I slid the lid off then clambered out.
And odd little creature with tentacles stood before me. He was wearing the robes of the Alessian Order.
My Dovah urged, “Cut him down. Two thousand years of lies about our mother and denial of The Divines. Cut him down!”
“No, he may be useful. Shut up for now.”
The creature said, “Look who finally woke up. I hope you found that sarcophagus comfortable.”
I just stared at it
He asked, “What’s wrong? You’re making a face as if your every bone hurts.”
“No, I just smell Alessian Order. That always makes my stomach churn.”
“You are obviously not a member of the order so who are you?”
I took my helm off and asked, “Do you recognise the face?”
“No and if you are somebody famous in Mundus I would not know. We receive only snippets of news from there.”
“Then call me Wulf. I am The Dragonborn.”
“You want to tell me you are of the same lineage as Saint Alessia? Don’t make me laugh. You’re out of your mind! And even if that were true, it has no meaning in this wasteland.”
I was tempted to use a weak Unrelenting Force and throw him across the room but did not know how fragile he was. So I donned my helm and did a Dragon Aspect Shout instead. He stepped back a little and then cringed when I used my Thu’um.
“DO NOT PUSH YOUR LUCK! I AM BLESSED BY BOTH LORD AKATOSH AND SAINT ALESSIA. SHOW SOME RESPECT SINCE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO WORSHIP BOTH!”
To his credit he soon recovered and stood still in front of me. I did not want to hide my identity now I was in Coldharbour.
“Let us try this again. I am Wulf, what is your name?”
“I am Inquisitor Pepe.”
“So you do not offend me again let me state this. I do not lie and I am not a lost soul claimed by Molag Bal and dragged here unwillingly. Yes, I touched his red stone but that is not why I am here. It cannot be common for the living to visit?”
“Many fools climb from sarcophagus every day. I don’t remember them all but I certainly remember the breathing ones. Only one other in hundreds of years has been alive like you. I believe he was a slave trader.”
“No doubt the one who set in motions one of Molag’s little schemes on Nirn. Prostituted a slave girl to a rich noble in Markarth and it went down from there.”
“So why are you here if you have not died and are not a victim of Molag Bal?”
“He invited me to have a look around. I am here to destroy him. I know I can’t kill him, just weaken him further.”
“That’s madness! No mortal can do that. He is the playwright of this tragedy and we’re all just his puppets.”
“He has no control over me or my soul. I have defeated him in battle. I have defeated his avatar in battle. I have defeated every champion he has thrown at me. Don’t tell me what a mortal can do. You have no idea.”
“It will not be easy to get to him. He is most probably at the top of his tower in the centre of the Imperial City. The Divines will not help you. The Alessian Order burned all their priests and servants.”
“And yet the current Empire worships them and their temples and shrines are countless. The Daedric Lords were banished from Mundus with the exception of one short time and that did not turn out well for Mehrunes Dagon. Your order failed miserably in its attempt to destroy Divine worship. Molag Bal has rewarded you for such pathetic service it seems.”
“We were the ones supposedly blessed by the True God and Saint Alessia but we still ended up in this wasteland.”
“You did Molag Bal’s work if you realise it or not. Surely you are still not claiming you got it right? The evidence to the contrary is all around you.”
“Do you have questions or are you content to make my life even more miserable?”
“This is a priory or temple is it not?”
“Yes, it is the Mathmalatu Priory. Back in its glory days it was the monastery of the Alessian Order.”
“On Nirn was this near the city of Leyawiin?”
“Yes. You know your history?”
“Far better than you know what has happened on Nirn since your Order collapsed. I have ridden past its ruins several times.”
“Countless pilgrims used to come here to pray to the one True God and Saint Alessia. But that was a few thousand years ago.”
“Tell me about Coldharbour.”
“It is divided into districts. This priory is to the west of the Waterfront District. It is a place where the good for nothing louts get to hang out. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet a familiar face and you can be good for nothing louts together.”
“And maybe you will end up a bloody smear against a wall.”
“You will need me to get to Molag Bal so forgive me if I don’t kiss your feet.”
“It is that very fact that is keeping me from turning you into calamari.”
“It had been a while since anything has traded insults with any skill.”
“Dead things tend to lose their wit. So how do I get out of the Waterfront District?”
“Don’t try to leave this place by going north. You’ll just end up as food for the flying worm.”
“What is a flying worm?”
“It is a Daedroth who learned to fly. He’s called Menta Na. He eats everyone trying to leave the Waterfront District.”
“And he would be more powerful than Molag Bal in dragon form who I defeated days ago? Or more powerful than Alduin the World Eater who I defeated in Sovngarde? Or more powerful than the dozens of Dov I have defeated in battle? I do not think Menta Na will pose a problem.”
“You still have to find a way through the gate. Ask some of the locals, they may know.”
“Is there somebody in charge of the Waterfront District?”
“Lord Vernaccus. He calls himself ‘He Who Cannot Be Touched’ and the ‘Bane of Kynareth’. Truth is he’s completely incompetent.”
“One swipe of my sword and his head rolled along the ground near Whiterun a few days ago. He was a bread crumb in a trail of breadcrumbs that Molag Bal wanted me to follow.”
“Then you know how incompetent he is. It’s a miracle he wasn’t destroyed in the Battle of Weye. You will find him sitting on his throne in Fort Verin and bragging about his glory days.”
“I have a feeling you would not be upset if I succeeded in my quest. Watch me walk out the northern gate and destroy the flying worm. Then you will realise how serious I am.”
Pepe walked over to a desk and retrieved a map. He handed it to me and said, “This will help. Very few of the buildings will have signs and you don’t want to open the wrong doors.”
Pepe then stepped aside as I started to look around the priory. On the central dais was a statue of an Imga called Marukh. He was insane and his lies about Alessia started the Alessian Order. No matter if they believed his lies or not, the racist elements of Tamriel seized the throne and used the Order to persecute Mer and suppress worship of the Divines for almost two thousand years.
I found two books worth mentioning as they are a rarity and some readers of this journal may never have seen a copy.
The first is ‘The Illusion of Death’. Here is a relevant passage,
“This is a fragmented account of Prophet Marukh’s encounter with the spirit of Alessia.
… then, because he had toyed with the ape-maiden Dulsa, did Marukh spend his Century of Penance upon the Stonemeadows, and his sight was seared, and his tongue was swollen, and his pelt was mottled, and his left thumb pointed ever at the stars of the Tower. And ever did the shade of Al-Esh speak to him, serrated words that rasped his concept-organ and brought him to wisdom through affliction.
And he recorded her words in his simian gore with glyphs on the Beseeching Scarp, and the fire in his blood did etch the lithic face with the Seventy-Seven Inflexible Doctrines.
And though the labour depleted, yea, even consumed his very substance, he stinted not, for he knew that death is an illusion. For did not Al-Esh persist, speaking knives, though dead?
And had not Pelin-Al been witness to her death, although dead himself at the death of Umar-Il?
Then did Marukh know a Right Reaching, that one devoted to Proper-Life and Ehlnofic Annulment shall persist beyond the illusion of death.
For indeed, the drive to expunge corruption can conquer even the Arkay’s Cycle.”
Just pure logic shoots this concept down. People die and if The Divines or even a Daedric Lord were to resurrect them that does not mean expunging corruption will conquer Arkay’s Cycle. It is up to the Gods to judge by whatever criteria they wish to apply. If the deceased appear as spirits or avatars it does not mean they have conquered Arkay’s Cycle. Pelinal Whitestrake was a Demi-God when he met Saint Alessia so applying Arkay’s Cycle to him is meaningless. Saint Alessia was given God status when she ascended to Aetherius and once again that has zero to do with Arkay’s Cycle. As for Ehlnofic Annulment, Alessia had many Ayleid friends and allowed many Ayleid nobles to keep their lands and titles. She could not have won the Slave War without aid from Ayleid sympathisers. Not once did she show any hatred towards Mer.
The fact the principles of the religion were so easily dismissed proves it was not believed by the senior nobility but simply used as a political tool.
The second book is called ‘Judgement’ and clearly shows how the religion was used to control the masses,
“Why did we, the Alessian Order, condemn Mara’s follower, who cured a boy infected with Thrassian plague, to a death on the pyre? Why did we hang the boy who was saved from his illness? And why did the Arch Mage Syrabane who treated the plague with his Warlock’s Ring escape his death on the pyre?
We have explained this many times; the crux of the matter lies in whether all of this was done with the permission of the Order. If any miracle received no forgiveness, no permission from the Alessian Order, it was not a miracle but a heresy. Unfortunately, that Mara’s follower had no permission from the Order, hence why she was sentenced to death on the pyre. In addition, the boy who was saved by the same unauthorized miracle, no, heresy, died for the same reason. Did not the masses willingly gather firewood for Mara’s follower and were they not only too happy to throw stones at the boy standing on the gallows? This collective act of citizens is the most decisive proof of the correctness of the Alessian Order.
As for the treatment of the Arch Mage Syrabane, his usage of the Warlock’s Ring (which we think of as a relic of St. Alessia) for treatment has been approved by the Alessian Order and will be subject to no further questions.”
I glared at Pepe and he saw the Dovah behind my eyes. He moved far away while I stormed out of the front door.
“Nice pus coloured sky!” was my first thought as I stepped into Molag Bal’s ‘miracle’.
Looking up I saw a familiar portal that seems to exist in all of the large planes of Oblivion and even Sovngarde.
There are probably many people I could help within this realm but I can’t afford the time or distraction. I aim to get to Molag Bal by the shortest route and with minimal delay. If there was anything The Divine wanted me to do while here they missed the chance to let me know.
A body in the distance caught my attention so I went to investigate it.
It was an emancipated mortal with some sort of parasite sticking out of its right eye.
A living example came walking up to me.
It stared at me for a few seconds then walked away.
The writing on its uniform was in Ayleidoon. From what little I could see through the grime it had some of the ‘Seventy-Seven Inflexible Doctrine’ of Marukh written on it. Intuition tells me he is an Alessian Order follower now acting as security for Molag Bal.
Many Scamps were also acting as guards. They are always the most numerous minions of Daedric Princes.
An occasional guard passed by with the parasite removed. No brains were left. Then again few Alessians had any to start with.
I found the northern gate. A warrior with very ancient and ridiculous armour was leaning against the wall.
“Greetings, my name is Wulf.”
“Newcomer…You’re so full of life.”
“Do they not teach manners here? What is your name?”
“I am Sir Juncan.”
“Well Sir Juncan I assume that idiot Vernaccus has the means to let me through this gate. Can I just go visit him or has he locked himself away in case a rabid Skeever gets loose?”
“Why would you want…”
“Why would I want to go through this gate when there is a big bad flying Daedroth waiting to eat me all up? Because he would not stand a chance against me! So it does not matter if Menta Na emasculates you, all I need to know is how to get to that moronic Dremora.”
“Captain Spania, the head of the guards, has the key to the fort. He is always in one of the watchtowers. Go ahead and get yourself killed. Another weakling like you, a Vigilant of Stendarr, tried his luck with the flying Worm only days ago. Some screaming was heard then nothing.”
“Thanks for your help Sir Juncan. I will pray to The Divines you grow a backbone sooner or later.”
A few armoured Daedroth were wandering around looking menacing. The armour they wore covered less than most of the Nord Shieldmaidens I have met. Totally useless!
There were two watch towers I could see. I picked one at random. I made my way up a whole heap of stairs to the top and found Captain Spania staring out a window. He had no idea I was there.
I picked the key out of his pocket and he still had no idea I was there.
I made my way to Fort Verin. The outside guards did nothing to stop me when I unlocked the front door.
A Scamp was staring at a statue of Molag Bal when I entered.
I did not try and be quiet yet I was almost upon him before he turned, decided I should not be there and attacked.
Scamps are pathetically weak creatures.
The statue of Molag seemed almost jolly.
A few Alessian followers proved just as weak as the Scamp.
I quickly decimated Vernaccus’ forces as I made my way to his throne room.
There was nothing left to stop me when I finally entered it and slowly walked towards him.
I stood before him waiting for his idiotic boasting. It started almost immediately.
“Welcome Vigilant of Stendarr. Once again my name is Vernaccus. I am the bane of Kyne! You humiliated me before, but now I will repay you a hundredfold!”
“How could I forget Vernaccus with no knackers? But you are wrong for I am not a Vigilant of Stendarr.”
“It matters not what you are mortal. You stand no chance within my realm!”
“I am Emperor Wulf Septim, Champion of The Divine. I am the mortal who defeated your Lord in combat at Nagasel and sent him back here to lick his wounds. I am the mortal who defeated his avatar days ago and weakened him even more. I am the mortal who killed you with a single blow. Now you die and your soul will roam The Void for all eternity.”
Vernaccus leapt from his throne and dealt what he thought would be a killer blow.
I lazily blocked it with my sword and laughed.
He surrounded himself with some dweomer. I have no idea what it was supposed to do.
He took another swing which I blocked with my shield.
I said, “My turn!” then slit his throat.
He gurgled through the blood, “No, this is not possible!” and died.
Only one swing from me and he is down even here. How pathetic!
I searched his corpse and retrieved the key to the gate.
I made my way to the gate without confrontation.
Even when I opened it nothing came to stop me. I suppose the guards thought the big bad Menta Na would do it.
Molag Bal mutates animals made by The Divines into interesting creatures. Some rather nasty and very poisonous scorpions designed by him came out to play.
They would probably stop most trespassers before they got to the flying Daedroth.
Menta Na attacked not far from the gates to the Waterfront District.
I don’t know how he was supposed to hurt me since he cast no spell and refused to land and fight.
So I just drew my bow and peppered him with ethereal arrows.
He landed in front of me, dead, within ten seconds of starting his ‘attack’.
I searched him and discovered the Vigilant recently eaten by him was Altano. So The Divine had not rescued him from his fate. He was most likely trying to get to Molag Bal to beg for mercy or some other selfish reason.
I walked past Menta Na’s corpse only to be confronted by Inquisitor Pepe who said, “Thank you for killing the Worm. I can finally enjoy my walks again.”
“But you did not walk here. It must be handy to have a teleport when you are as ancient and feeble as you.”
“But I will walk around the Waterfront District. As for the teleport, an old Man should be allowed such.”
“Tell me about this district.”
“This is the territory of Lord Varla. I you don’t want to become food for his dogs avoid the fortress to the east and go north.”
“Who is this Lord Varla?”
“He is a knight that made a name for himself with the cleansing of Malada. But his mind is twisted and broken. He is now hunting people with his dogs.”
“The cleansing of the Ayleid High Fane! Those who inhabited it were innocent of the charges made against them. The real story of Malada and its people was lost when you barbarians killed them all and burnt their history! If they had enough knowledge of Dawn Magic to block out the sun as you accused them of then your forces would not have stood a chance. No, they were convenient scapegoats and were Mer so killing them was a popular thing to do. The truth of that massacre will be within the Elder Scrolls Inquisitor Pepe. I will ask the Moth Priests to find it. But you know that cleansing was orchestrated by Molag Bal. That is why Varla is such an honoured guest in Coldharbour.”
“Why would the Moth Priests listen to you?”
“The Moth Priests will listen to me since I can also read the Elder Scrolls. They also rely on my good will to access the rooms within the White Gold Tower where they are kept.”
“Who are you?”
“You told me titles do not matter. So I am Wulf and that is all.”
“After Varla ended up here he swore allegiance to Molag Bal. But you may be right and that allegiance was already in place. He was allowed to keep his human form and he even got his own territory.”
“So you failed to lick the Dark Lord’s arse enough and got turned into a squid.”
“I just killed Menta Na in seconds. I stole the key to the fort from the Captain’s pocket without him even knowing. I killed every one of Vernaccus’ guards with ease. I killed him with a single sword blow. Do you think there is anything that will stop me getting to Molag Bal?”
“Only if you get lost or side tracked.”
“Then tell me the quickest way to get to the Imperial City.”
“The main gate is to the north but it has been sealed since the invasion of the Army of Order.”
“Jyggalag is invading Coldharbour?”
“Yes, his Infinite Army invaded a few decades ago and began conquering the entire continent.”
I laughed and said, “I wondered if he ever sought revenge for what the other Dark Lords did to him. Seems Molag Bal was first on his list.”
“Almost the entirety of Molag Bal’s Empire has been absorbed and destroyed by Jyggalag.”
“What is left under his control?”
“After his defeat in the Battle of Weye only this island with the Imperial City remains under Molag’s control. He has created a barrier that is maintained by the sacrifice of countless souls. But even the power of souls has limits and the barrier is weakening.”
“I told you I am here to reduce Molag Bal’s power even more. I don’t care if I do it or if my actions cause the fall of the barrier. Are the souls lost or just trapped?”
“I believe if the barrier falls they will be released and their fate determined by other factors. It will not last much longer. Then Greymarch will overrun this wasteland and crush us all.”
“I am currently marked by Molag Bal and the Army of Order will regard me as his ally when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Still, if I make the barrier fall quicker that is a good outcome.”
“You know of Jyggalag?”
“I have not met him. I have done a few tasks for Sheogorath. I know of the Greymarch and who freed Jyggalag.”
“He was a fool!”
“On the contrary he was a great hero and is now a God. Fools are those who promote false religions and end up as guests of Molag Bal for eternity.”
“You don’t hold back do you? No matter, Jyggalag is now marching around this wasteland like a rabid beast.”
“Or an avenging God. How did Molag Bal lose the Battle of Weye?”
“Jyggalag manifested there at the height of the battle. A brilliant silver cocoon appeared and evaporated everyone around it regardless if they were friend or foe.”
“I suppose it saves having to pay all those wages.”
“You humour is dark but the cocoon was dazzling. It was so beautiful, as if we suddenly stepped into Aetherius. Even I shed tears at that sight.”
“Now you seem bitter.”
“All of this reminds me of the last days of the Alessian Empire. There was no winner. Only ruins remained.”
“Once again you speak from ignorance. You do not know how well mortals have done since your time on Nirn! There was a winner and its name is truth. Your lies were erased and The Divines returned to their rightful place in the hearts of mortals. Other religions allowed to be worshipped as the people wished. The only one banned was yours. It was a lie from the start and supported by racists who hated Mer but could never explain why. Despite later conflicts and strife Nirn is a far better place since your Empire’s utter defeat.”
“I can only comment on what I saw.”
“So if the barrier is in place how do I get to the Imperial Island?”
“Go to the slums. Get a key from the Great Beggar on the 2nd floor of Beggar’s Way. It will unlock the entrance to the Prison Sewer. It is a large sewer that leads to the Prison Tower in the city. If you make it that far I may be able to help with the next step.”
“You have been waiting for the right person to crawl out of a sarcophagus to put your plan in action. You are wise not to tell me all of the directions. You know part of me would like nothing more than to cut you down.”
“For crimes committed millennia ago.”
“What are those larvae worm things I see stuck in people’s faces?”
“They are called Plague Leech.”
I could see Sir Juncan though the closed gates. It seems the Inquisitor is not the only one who can zap around Coldharbour.
I opened the gate and approached him. He said, “You got the key, took care of Vernaccus and defeated the Worm. I was mistaken about you.”
“But I was right about you. A spineless idiot who judges those he knows nothing about.”
“Tell me something useful. What do you know about Varla?”
“He is insane. He is a half breed of Mer and Man. He hunted elves at first and then men. He was neither one nor the other because of his blood. That is why he went mad. It’s a pity really.”
“He went insane because he slaughtered the Mer of Malada when they were innocent. I am a half breed. It does not cause insanity otherwise the Bretons would be in trouble don’t you think?”
“You are a half elf?”
“No, I am half Dov.”
I left the idiot and started towards the slums.
Apparently my reputation, or crimes, preceded me. Guards attacked me on sight.
Some of Varla’s puppies even objected to my insistence on remaining alive.
Very large Plague Leech infested the waterways near the Slums. They seemed to ignore me as long I was wasn’t in the water.
A smell drifted from under the doorway to the Slums that promised a most fragrant adventure.
I was surprised at the quality of construction. It seems effort was made to make the place less like a sewer.
No doubt Alessian Order converts lived here. A shrine to Lady Mara with filth in the donation bowl was evidence of zero respect for The Divines.
I climbed through a trapdoor to reach the second floor.
There was no need for me to kill the ‘Great Beggar’ as he was already dead. The key was still on him.
I soon found Beggar’s Way. Its residents were not pleased to see me.
I came across an old man with a cooking pot on his head. He was strumming away, quite skilfully, on a lute.
I approached him and said, “It is always a pleasure to meet a fellow bard. My name is Wulf and I have travelled to many countries practicing the art.”
“I am Cadwell and the denizens of this place are my sole audience.”
“Your skill is apparent. Would you please sing me a song?”
“Shezarr returns. From the frost of icy Atmora, announcing a new age. Shezarr returns. With a roar of Ysmir, bringing a storm to drench the jungle. Shezarr returns. To plunge a sword into the snake, to reclaim the empty throne.”
“Thanks Cadwell but the throne is not empty. Shor already sits upon it so he does not need to reclaim it.”
Just past the crazy bard I headed downward.
I soon came to a dock and river. Inquisitor Pepe was waiting for me, “At last you arrive. There’s nothing worth stopping for in this wasteland. You’re a right lazy one that even an old man like myself managed to overtake you.”
“Could you still breathe if I tied your tentacles into a knot?”
I cast Detect Life and could see the water had a few Plague Leeches and some weird thingies on platforms.
“What can you tell me about this dock?”
“Originally it was used to transport criminals and other goods. Workers and beggars settled around it and gradually built a large city. Alessians burnt this town many times out of fear of the plague but it always started rebuilding the very next day. The Alessian Order finally gave up and even granted this city some autonomy. Ironically the Thrassian Plague broke out here in the following year.”
“That plague killed nearly half the population of Cyrodiil and hastened the downfall of the Alessian Order. So much for Molag Bal’s miracle. He goes on about how the Aedra do not help mortals yet he let two plagues sweep though his population. Perhaps he should be called the God of Hypocrisy?”
“The people here had no chance of escaping it. Mountains of corpses clogged the sewers. Lake Rumare was filled with blood and decayed flesh. They started burning corpses every day. I remember it like yesterday.”
“How did the plague reach here?”
“As we discussed earlier other living entities occasionally turn up here. One such was a young Sload. He was a good lad but far too ugly to be accepted therefore Alessians killed him. Just before his death he spat some kind of liquid at the ones surrounding him. The rest is history.”
“So I assume this sewer leads to the Prison Tower?”
“Yes, that is a place where people who fought against the Alessian were imprisoned.”
“I can see the water has quite a few Plague Leeches within.”
“They are rampant here and far worse than the people in the Slums. You would have seen people infested with leeches around Coldharbour. Whatever remains of them ends up here.”
“Where did they come from?”
“Some call them Mary’s children.”
“After that poor woman you animals burnt alive for curing people?”
“Yes, the Alessians burned her on the pyre for supposedly being a witch.”
“Her only crime was not asking permission to use the power of Lady Mara to cure the ill. Yet a mage was allowed to use the power of his magic ring because he asked and therefore his benevolence credited to your Order.”
“Some say she consorted with Molag Bal and gave birth to these monsters. We called her Mary but the masses called her Mara. The name of one of Anui-El’s damned usurpers.”
“The leeches never existed on Nirn. Since they only appear in Coldharbour they may very well be the invention of Molag Bal. Accusing Mary of breeding with Molag Bal is just propaganda. You insist on blaspheming against the Aedra yet you are here and not in Aetherius. Surely you no longer believe in the dogma of the Alessian Order?”
“Perhaps I need to? Otherwise I might go insane with guilt over the things I have done!”
“Is the prison in its own district? If so, how do I get to the centre where the tower is?”
“I probably will not have a chance to speak to you again before you reach the Inquisition District so listen carefully. The prison is in its own district. To get to the Imperial City you must cross the large bridge on your map. Once you are there you will start to encounter some of Molag’s toughest troops and in large numbers. Make your way to the Curia Morimath. There are some very famous religious people happily undead in there so be aware. You must find a golden egg that holds a key you will need. Considering there are huge rooms full of precious items in that place that is not as easy as it sounds. Make you way out of the building and head for the bridge to the Inquisition District. The key from the egg will unlock the door to the bridge.”
“You must have spent a long time gathering this information.”
“Sometimes it took centuries between steps so do not waste my effort!”
I walked down some steps then climbed into a small boat. I unmoored it and let the current take me along.
I thought I might as well make things a bit easier for the residents so zapped the Plague Leeches as I encountered them.
No sooner had I moored at the other end some ungrateful residents attacked.
The sewer entrance I was looking for was blocked by a mass of eyes.
I really didn’t care who or what owned them as I started chopping them to pieces.
Something screamed and removed the rest out of my way.
I entered the unblocked entrance. Another random maze of tunnels greeted me.
Remember those ebony suits of armour with the eyeless helms back in the Bruiant Mansion. How I joked I might do something to make them all attack me. They waited for me in Coldharbour.
But they aren’t much of a hindrance.
After killing lots of different abominations I arrived at the sewer entrance of the prison.
The whole place was eerily quiet.
The prison warden was big but stupid beyond measure. He held up his weapon, a lance, with some poor creature skewered on it. Lances are good for stabbing but not slashing. They are slow to wield and useless in close combat.
He fell to my sword in seconds.
From the warden’s body I retrieved the key to the front door.
The prison district had a lot of damage. Rubble and broken masonry had been shoved into piles so at least the streets were clear.
Some knights in impressive looking armour took a dislike to me. There were a few of them but once again they were weak. If this is the best Molag can muster he is in big trouble. History has shown Jyggalag’s warriors to be competent and well-armed.
More of the ebony warriors and fancy knights guarded the bridge.
Like many of the major doors in Coldharbour the one to the Imperial City was tall enough for the larger inhabitants, including Molag Bal.
As soon as I opened it I was attacked by an Alessian Inquisitor. His uniform was slightly different than Pepe’s. I am starting to think my tour guide might be of significant rank amongst that most despicable of organisations.
A giant fancy knight patrolled the streets.
His armour was impressive but he was too slow. He offered no more of a challenge than his smaller brethren.
I entered an area called ‘The Gardens’ according to my map. How silly of me to think spoked wheels were made by blacksmiths and wheelwrights.
I was attacked by several skeletons on wheels.
Their creator also attacked and died without getting close to me.
I made my way to the entrance of the Curia Morimath.
I entered an impressively large chapel. At the far end was a priest sitting on a throne with a fancy looking staff.
Sitting on the benches were copies of the book ‘The Exclusionary Mandates’. It outlines the basic dogma of the Marukhite Selection and proves what a load of racist garbage it is.
“The Exclusionary Mandates of Marukhite Selection: All Are Equal
- 1: That the Supreme Spirit Akatosh is of unitary essence, as proven by the monolinearity of Time.
- 1: That Shezarr the missing sibling is Singularly Misplaced and therefore Doubly Venerated.
- 1: That the protean substrate that informs all denial of (1) is the Aldmeri Taint.
- 1: That the Prophet Most Simian demonstrated that monothought begets Proper-Life.
- 1: That the purpose of Proper-Life is the Expungement of the Taint.
- 1: That the Arc of Time provides the mortal theatre for the Sacred Expungement.
- 1: That Akatosh is Time is Proper-Life is Taint-Death.”
I will not spend time arguing how wrong each ‘mandate’ is but the stupidity of its entirety is immediately apparent. The Shezarr is not missing. He sent me to Falskaar and gifted me a new shout in Sovngarde where the dead warriors could see him. How have the six Shezarrine been avatars of a God that is missing?
Full of religious types Pepe said. Well the priest was sitting on a throne that was flanked by the open legs of Saint Alessia in her youth.
He did nothing till I finished climbing the steps. Then he attacked with his staff.
And fell to a single blow.
There was nothing useful on him except for a key. His staff looked expensive but its dweomer only did minor damage to an enemy’s health. I have no idea who he was and don’t really care.
The key unlocked the only door exiting the chapel.
A single fancy knight tried to bar my way. He did not bother me as much as the large statues of knights flanking the door. Their uniform was very similar, especially the helm, of the moronic priests of The Nine I had to deal with in Evermore.
I cut the guard down then entered rooms full of so much gold it could sustain The Empire for millennia.
I finally spotted an egg.
As I got close to it some other religious thing attacked me. One again I had no idea who he was.
He was infested with Plague Leeches.
He also had eyeballs in his mouth. It was probably a mercy I killed him.
I have no idea what the religious symbolism was supposed to denote but there was a huge golden egg in the middle of it.
I opened the egg and as Pepe said, within it was a single key.
I made my way out of Curia Morimath via a different doorway to which I entered.
And some of Varla’s cute little puppies attacked.
I hate hitting dogs even when they are trying to eat me. They yelp and I feel guilty. So I used a full-strength Unrelenting Force and reduced them to ashes. They may still have yelped but I could not hear them over the Shout.
The key I found in the egg unlocked the bridge to the Inquisition Court District.
I have read about them but never encountered an Arachne before. Half spider and half woman and one hundred percent mean.
While other guards were firing arrows at me I concentrated on her as she started to spin a web to entangle me.
I killed her and the other guards then exited the bridge.
Inquisitor Pepe was waiting. He said, “This place is full of memories. I can see the images of days past in my mind. Oh, but everything is lost now.”
“Thank The Divines for that!”
“Where did I go wrong? When I burned Mary or killed that Sload? Or when I met Marukh in the Jungles of Colovia? Everything is gone now and I don’t know anymore.”
“So you were the most senior Inquisitor?”
“I can tell you where you went wrong. You gave credence to the ravings of an insane Imga. You took the delusions caused by a venereal disease and turned them into a religion. Your foul religion defies logic. It defies the Aedra who are the very Gods who gave you life and a planet to live on. Your religion was used by racists to slander Saint Alessia. They used her name to justify the persecution and annihilation of Mer when that was never her desire or intent. Lies upon lies that for two millennia made The Divines weep! It was only possible because they themselves put up a barrier to protect their loved and cherished mortals from the wars of Gods. Now you live in the land of the true architect of your religion. Molag Bal must have been laughing at your blind assistance in his eternal struggle to destroy Mundus.”
“I regret it all but my words are not enough. I know you do not want to deviate from the direct path to Molag Bal but I urge you to visit the Second Inquisition Court. It is upstairs from the First. You will see why. Please, do a little to help my burden of guilt.”
“I shall look. But what are my next steps.”
“To get to the Central District you must go through Malada, the ‘Ayleid High Fane’ as you called it before.”
“Why is there a replica of Malada here?”
“Fanatics brought it here.”
“All Alessians were fanatics. But for you to call them so it could only be the Marukhati Selective.”
“They thought they could dance here and erase the Eight Divines from Mundus. They hate all elves, everything connected to Anui-El in fact. They hate everything in existence, just like Molag Bal.”
“Didn’t they realise there are many Altmer with the same wish? Their leaders, the Thalmor, are just as racist as you lot were. Don’t you think it is odd that opposite sides in a race war have the same objective as Molag Bal? They both want the destruction of the other race and Mundus. Molag Bal must be so happy with that manipulation!”
“You may be right but listen to what you need to do. There is a monastery of Marukh’s followers to the south. There is an underground portal that will get you into Malada.”
“The place is full of those arseholes I hope!”
“They are undead but have fun destroying them anyway. Once in Malada keep going till you come to the last room. It will be obvious what to do from there.”
I set off thinking the guards must be tougher this close to the centre of the city but no.
They were pathetically weak and unless Jyggalag is going to use geriatric blind Skeever for his army Molag is in trouble.
There were two guards outside the entrance to the First Inquisition Court.
I walked up to them and said, “Marukh is the Blessed Saint of Bananas!” They got angry!
Then they died.
I entered the court. In an attempt to frighten those summoned the first thing they would see at the end of a long corridor is somebody in a cage.
In a large chamber with seats circling the cage they would be questioned and judged without a right to attorney or even knowing their crime.
I made my way to the Second Inquisition Court.
When I entered my Dovah screamed to be let lose. There was an ancient Dovah squeezed into a cell way too small for him. A single guard stood with his arms crossed as if he would stand in the way of my fury.
I cut him down and ripped open the door.
I was expecting a greeting in Dovahzul. Instead it was in deep baritone Tamrielic.
“You…mortal child…you are not like the others here.”
“Drem yol lok kruziik gein.”
“What is this? I have not spoken my language in millennia but I recognise that greeting. A friend of mine would use it. Earth, Wind, Fire. And I am indeed an ancient one.”
“We can tinvaak in the Common Tongue if you wish.”
“That would be good.”
“I am indeed not like the others here. For a start I am alive and am also a Kul do Bormahu. I am a Son of Akatosh.”
The ancient dragon leant over and sniffed me then threw his head back and laughed.
“You have in you what they could not get out of me. A blood curse took my wings and I fell a long way into the black sea. The Alessians were trying to take and use my blood but the very curse used to bring me down made it worthless to them.”
“Why did they want dragon blood?”
“I do not know. To be used in some dark magic no doubt.”
“But if your blood was no good, why keep you here?”
“They tried to tame me. When that did not work they left me here to rot.”
“I am called Wulf although the Greybeards and Paarthurnax now call be Dovahsebrom.”
“I know not of the Greybeards but Paarthurnax was the friend who used that greeting. Dragon of the North is an important sounding title.”
“It is their way of addressing the Emperor. The Greybeards are masters of the Tongue, the Thu’um.”
“Who taught mortals our language?”
“Paarthurnax did after Kyne asked him. He taught the Thu’um to mortals to aid in the fight against Alduin.”
“Kyne also asked me and my friends to turn against Alduin and to live amongst the mortals. Alas I was the only one to survive the blood curse. The others turned to stone.”
“So you have been here before Alduin was banished by the ancient tongues? Thousands of years without seeing the sky or gliding on the currents around Monahven, the Throat of the World?”
“That is so.”
“What is your name ancient one?”
“It is Kahkaankrein”
“Paarthurnax still lives and I and several friends killed Alduin in battle. As dead as he can be but even if he does return it will not be for a very long time. I think I can use the Thu’um to return you to Nirn. You would appear on Monahven where Paarthurnax will greet you.”
“You can do that? I have never heard of such a Shout.”
“It was taught to Tsun by Lorkhan who your Alessian captors call Shezarr and others call Shor. I learnt it when used upon me. I believe it will work though I have never had cause to try it.”
“I do not know how to thank you. There is such beauty in you mortals. Alduin never understood this.”
“You can thank me by flying the thermals of Monahven and laughing as you did once long ago. Our Lord Akatosh will laugh with you!”
“We may have failed due to the blood curse but our way was not wrong. Kyne still lives in the hearts of the people. You are proof of this.”
I used the full strength of my Thu’um,
“NAHL DAL VUS”
Kahkaankrein began to fade.
Just before he went completely into the ether he said, “I hear the song of the wind. It is the song of Kyne. My friends are calling me. I have longed for this! Thank you Dovahsebrom!”
I stood and looked at the small cage that had been his prison for thousands upon thousands of years. He could not see the sky or feel the wind or hear his own language. I wanted to weep at the injustice. Instead of doing so I let that emotion fuel my anger as I left the Inquisition Court and headed for the Temple of Marukh.
I started finding dead guards that had nothing to do with me. A skeleton of a horse was a surprise. I have not seen any being used in Coldharbour.
The trail of bodies was in the same direction as I had to go.
The killer was some floating priest who decided I needed to die as well.
I killed him with Unrelenting Force.
I assume his name was Menelion as that is whose journal I found on the body.
“’Place her body into the Tower, place her body into the Tower.’
The voice was merely a whisper at first. However, it changed to a raging roar gradually and I started to suffer from unspeakable headaches and nausea. Even my prayers to the true God were drowned out and I have not had a moment of peace since. Should I follow this inner voice and go to the grave of St. Alessia?
I decided to obey the voice and head to the tomb of St. Alessia. Strangely, as I started approaching the tomb, my headache lessened enough as to be barely even there. My steps are lighter every day, as if I am climbing the stairs to Aetherius.
My head is burning with fever. But this pain is causing me ecstasy somehow. After a while my vision darkened and I heard a voice, like a woman’s screaming in my head. The world before me was reborn at that moment. The wasteland was filled with flowers and birds started singing.
I climbed on a white horse I found on the road and rode around the lush grassland. By the time I arrived at the tomb of St. Alessia my yellowed and parched skin regained its youth.
Nameless, fragrant white flowers grow around the tomb of St. Alessia. It is made of shining white marble, as if telling the whole world where her dead body is sleeping. Carved into the walls of tomb are the words of our ancient ancestors Ehlnofey, praising the True God and Shezarr and also St. Alessia, the Slave-Queen of Cyrod. I climbed the stairs to the tomb and opened the coffin of St. Alessia with reverence. Thousands of years had passed since her death and I was afraid to see her horribly decayed corpse. But the mystery of the singing paradise around me immediately dispelled those worries. The body of St. Alessia was as fresh as if she merely fell asleep yesterday.
The whispering voice was echoing through my head again. I didn’t understand what it was talking about, but I knew what I had to do. Suppressing my pleasure, I shed a drop of blood on Alessia’s forehead. And immediately the holy body of St. Alessia was wrapped in brilliant light and rose to the top of the White-Gold Tower.
It was harmony. On this day, harmony entered Mundus. And with tears streaming down my face I cried out a prayer to the True God.”
Molag Bal has my Mother’s body in his tower! What foul use had he found for it? Did The Divine know before they sent me here? I used my Thu’um and released my rage. Buildings shook, roof tiles fell and walls cracked.
“I WILL TAKE MY MOTHER’S BODY FROM YOU MOLAG EVEN IF I HAVE TO TEAR YOUR FUCKING TOWER DOWN!”
I could see the monastery in the distance and strode towards it with my Dovah in full control.
Dozens of guards stood in my way. Dozens of guards were destroyed.
I took a few seconds at the door of the Monastery of Marukh to clean the gore off my armour and sword. Then I entered with death in my eyes.
I needn’t have bothered with the cleaning. Wave after wave of guards fell before me.
The monastery was huge. In the distance I could see a statue of Saint Alessia in her youth.
Still the guards came, fell to my anger and did not slow my decent.
Level after level and my Dovah’s rage decreased not one iota. Then I stood before that statue of my Mother.
It was hard to see the Alessia I know in the features of this young girl. I must assume it is an accurate depiction. The Alessians worshiped her and would not be satisfied with some false image.
I started to laugh. An image came into my head of this petite girl kicking somebody in the balls. It was a genuine belly laugh and would have worried anybody who saw it come from a man who still had death in his eyes.
More waves of guards fell.
I reached the lowest room of the monastery but could see no portal.
Then it appeared and Lord Varla stepped through.
His sword shone with several dweomer. His eyes shone with madness.
He lasted no longer than the guards.
There was nothing useful on him and even his sword was not worth carrying around Coldharbour.
Inquisitor Pepe popped into view then stared at Lord Varla.
“What a revolting sight the hero of Malada became. Look at him and remember how this man ended up. The same will happen to you some day.”
“This is not madness in my eyes you little runt! I have had better than you warn me of the dangers I face. How I could spiral into insanity. Who better than Pelinal Whitestrake to tell me such before a warm fire? The Divines thought it a good idea after I threatened to tear Tamriel apart if harm came to my beloved.”
“I heard your Thu’um as did the whole of Coldharbour. Molag Bal has many corpses spread throughout his tower. Who was your mother?”
“You may find out before the end. I can see you are anxious for me to proceed to Malada.”
“The barrier is weakening as you go. You need to hurry to beat the arrival of the Army of Order. They will make any progress much harder!”
I walked past the being who I should be slaughtering and entered the portal.
The building was grey and dilapidated like most of Molag Bal’s ‘miracle’.
The Marukhati Selective wore robes very similar to that of the Thalmor except dyed red. Not surprising really. They were armed with bound weapons which are useless unless you get to hit your enemy, which they failed to do time after time. Meanwhile my sword decapitated, disembowelled and pierced without pause.
I came upon what looked like a collapsed floor over an endless drop. I could detect a narrow bridge of air spanning it. It was much like the one I walked across when escaping The Void into Sovngarde.
So I confidently walked across it and through the large doors on the other side.
More Selective and large Bone Golems attacked and died.
I was surprised to find Dwemer architecture within the building. I was not surprised to find Scamps.
Scamps or Selective it made no difference.
They died and my Dovah laughed.
I entered a long room in which a Selective was praying in front of a portal. What he was praying to I have no idea.
His mask was a different colour probably signifying a senior rank.
I ducked underneath his wild swing then disembowelled him.
I searched him and found a rare book called ‘The Great Gate’.
“The holy body of prophet Marukh rose up and carved the Seventy-Seven signs into the air. The carved signs shone brilliantly and the faithful around Marukh kept praying with ecstasy in their eyes despite being burned by the brilliance of the signs. When Marukh spread the air apart with his hands, a crack appeared in reality and light flowed out of it like a flood. In the flood of light the faithful raise their voices in delight and were burned to ashes. My limbs were crumbling, turning to cinders. However, I felt more relief than fear at being able to become a part of Aetherius I had only ever dreamt about. But I soon realized it was all a deception. What was beyond the light was not a paradise, but a wasteland. A wasteland without gods, without life. Are the cruel gods still testing us? It is obvious no one can live like Shezarr. Is there anyone who can wander the frozen wasteland without being bound by a name and role like him? Is there anyone who can let themselves fall into the endless abyss without having any doubts? We cannot live unless we let ourselves be bound by something. This is why we need faith.
If we could find our way in the dark, escape the search for the meaning of life, not fear judgement after death… then why should we worship gods like you? You abandoned us. You left us to die alone, without mercy. You took away even the hope the weak need to be able to live. So I swear this by my black soul, I will cleanse this taint that is the blood of Anu from this world forever.”
Molag Bal animated the body of the Marukh and opened an Oblivion gate to Coldharbour. These geniuses then walked through it without wondering why a gateway to Aetherius would burn people to cinders. They then found themselves in Coldharbour and blamed the Aedra for their stupidity. That is why a replica of Malada was brought here. So they could try and destroy the Gods they blamed for their idiocy. The same Gods they abandoned when they started believing the words of an insane Imga.
The Gods they abandoned could not save them from Coldharbour even if their compassion made them desire to do so. The Aedra cannot enter Oblivion. They need mortals to risk the journey. That is why I am in this lovely place dealing with such lovely people.
The dead Selective had been kneeling before a portal. I stepped into it and was deposited outside. It was a short walk to the Malada from there.
Just as I reached the door I heard the movement of massed troops along the streets. It will be a race between me and the Army of Order to get to Molag Bal first. It seems the barrier may soon fall and they have the advantage of having their God fighting beside them.
I entered to find Marukh suspended in a Dwemer barrier.
Before I took a step towards him Inquisitor Pepe appeared behind me.
As we walked together he said, “Marukh the Imga. It’s been a long time. He hasn’t changed since I met him in the Colovian jungle. His face still looks just as stupid as then.”
“In a debate about who is stupider, the Imga or the Alessians, I am afraid he would seem the genius.”
“Let me tell you what happened and maybe you will not be so harsh.”
“Look in my eyes Inquisitor. There will never be forgiveness from me.”
“There is something you have not told me to cause such anger. No matter, here is the story of my conversion. I was a servant of the Eight Divines when I heard an Ayleid bard sing a strange song at The Crossroads. It was about an Imga dancing with the apparition of Saint Alessia. When I asked him about it he told me he had seen it himself in the jungles of Colovia. I went to see it with my own eyes. Normally I’d laugh at such a story but felt it was my duty to go and see.”
“He was a servant of Molag Bal. He most likely wove a compulsion within that song.”
“I did feel there was something strangely mysterious about that bard. That is why I decided to go to Colovia.”
“Then Molag put on a show for you with the insane Imga and Saint Alessia.”
“What I saw was a dirty monkey, smeared with blood, dancing with the illusion of Saint Alessia under the full moon. Their dance lasted until dawn. When the monkey noticed the morning sun it stopped dancing and the illusion of Saint Alessia faded like mist. The monkey saw me standing there in shock, raised a brilliant stone and said, ‘Take this Stone to the Tower.’”
“That was Morag’s equivalent to the Chim-El Adabal wasn’t it?”
“That is perceptive of you. You probably figured that out because you touched it.”
“He has made a replica of the White Gold Tower. He needs a replica of the Red Diamond to give it similar features and dweomers.”
I retrieved my journal case from inside my breastplate and retrieved two red stones from it.
I held them up and said, “He has chipped pieces from it and given them to operatives on Nirn. They cause a blood curse that allows him to manipulate mortals and drag them to Coldharbour. But just touching one taints your soul. You carried the mother stone to the White Gold Tower. You lost your soul to theatrics and followed the request of an insane ape.”
“You’ve seen what happened. It has all become as you see it now. Let’s stop talking.”
“No. Tell me the rest.”
“It seemed to be just a stone and nothing else. But everyone kneeled before it, before its temptation. I still remember this as if it happened yesterday. You held it in your hands too!”
“I did not forsake my Gods by doing so or through obeying the demands of an Imga! I touched it when saving the life of a stranger who had it shoved into his eye by one of Molag’s minions. I was obeying the Commands of the Divines. I did not reject them like you!”
I put the red stones back into my journal case then demanded, “Where is this Stone that started the Alessian on their destructive path. Does it have a name to mock to real Red Diamond?”
“It was lost during the War or Righteousness. Even the Daedra left us high and dry. When the Alessian Empire lost the Stone it crumbled soon after. We were not shepherds of our people but their enslavers!”
“So you have no idea of the whereabouts of the most important artefact of your religion?”
“We do. It’s still at the top of the Tower in the centre of the Imperial City. Its name is Ada Bal.”
“In the past when I thought about Marukh I would get angry at his corruption of everything Saint Alessia stood for. But he was not really at fault. He was insane. It is followers like you who are at fault. You allowed Molag Bal to manipulate you through the ravings of an insane Imga. He is guilty only of contracting a disease that ate away at his brain. You are guilty of atrocity after atrocity.”
“And that is why I wanted to stop talking!”
“Molag Bal has kept Marukh alive in case he can use him for some other mischief on Nirn. I find myself wanting to end his life for that reason but more importantly, out of pity and as an act of mercy.”
I looked around the Dwemer machinery and found a valve. I turned it which removed the barrier around Marukh.
I stood in front of what was an object of hatred for years. I now understood he was a victim.
I plunged my sword into his stomach to its hilt and drew it back out.
I recovered nothing from his body.
I stood before Inquisitor Pepe who said, “Yes, it seems the Army of Order has now broken through the barrier. At last they will conquer the final bastion of Molag Bal.”
“I have slowly weakened it as I killed Molag’s minions is that correct?”
“Yes, you truly did well.”
“Lucky I knew you had ulterior motives for helping me otherwise I might get upset right now.”
“It will all end now. Millennia of pointless waiting will end now. I believed at first. That someday Shezarr will come and save us from this suffering. But I waited for thousands of years and he didn’t come. I opened thousands of sarcophagi, believing in the prophecy, but only poor imitations of the real thing crawled out of them. I kept thinking where is Shezzar? What is he doing? Oh, I know now. He won’t come. I should have known from the beginning!”
“He loves mortals and Mundus so why would he help those who sided with Molag Bal? A God whose only wish is to destroy what Shezzar loves? You were traitors to him. I know he looks after mortals. I recently returned from helping some people important to him at his request. So that is why he won’t come. You lot are not worth saving!”
“Then who sent you here if not Shezzar?”
“Lord Akatosh. I told you at the start, I am here to weaken Molag Bal. What do I need to do now?”
“Now that Marukh is dead, the central barrier should be weakened too. Go to Malatar Mansion to the north of the Imperial City. The mad king of Senchal, Dro’Zel, resides there. Kill him and take his heart and key. The key opens the gate to the centre of the city and the heart you will need to get into the Tower. Hurry! Greymarch will be here soon and it has the same goal as you.”
“Why will this Khajiit’s heart get me into the tower?”
“That cat is a servant of Molag Bal and one of the few mortals allowed to enter the Tower. His heart is the key, the pass, if you want.”
“I know his story and I will gladly slaughter the being that asked Molag Bal to demolish Gilverdale. All over a tale told by the same bard who told you about Marukh. Why not just kill the bard? No, his solution was to kill everybody.”
“He was not insane before the slaughter or beholden to Molag Bal in any way. He certainly deserves to die!”
“What about you?”
“This is the end of my long walk. I will wait here for the end this old man deserves.”
“They may not be so kind to you Inquisitor Pepe. I can end it quickly if you so desire.”
“After all you have learned you will still grant me a merciful death?”
“You have shown remorse. I can never forgive you for what you and the other Alessians have done but neither can I allow others to prolong your suffering.”
“Then make it swift. I am eager to leave this place.”
Inquisitor Pepe stood ready for the death blow.
There was a loud cracking and a spear of rock pierced his body.
An explosion threw me across the chamber.
I recovered just in time to parry a killing blow from a knight in bright silver armour.
I scrambled to my feet and we stood facing each other. I asked, “Why do you attack me without cause?”
“I am Laza and Lord Jyggalag demands all servants of Molag Bal must die.”
He took another almighty swing which I knocked aside with my shield. I then knelt and thrust my sword into his stomach. It was a killing blow and he vanished.
There was another portal in the corner of the room. I walked over and entered it.
I was back outside and started to make my way to Malatar Mansion.
The streets were full of small skirmishes between Molag’s guards and the Army of Order.
It was a lost cause for Molag. If Jyggalag’s troops fell they were replaced by others that teleported in. The God’s army was infinite and slowly they ground down Molag’s forces.
Both sides attacked me on sight so I decided to go invisible and use my sneak abilities to avoid having to hack my way through the streets.
I made it to the door of the mansion with little delay after that.
I entered and all seemed quiet.
Soon I came across Dro’Zel sitting reading a book. He mistook me for the bard he destroyed a city to kill.
He whined, “Oh, this again. That bard is here again. Will you try and tell me the story of Polydor and Eloisa again?”
“I could tell you the one about the Dibella trained Dog, the beautiful shieldmaiden, the Dragonborn and the stable boys.”
What I said did not register. He raved, “I don’t want to hear it. I do not want to hear that depressing story ever again!”
He leaped up and stood before me with his dagger at the ready.
A full strength Unrelenting Forced turned him to ash.
However his voice came from elsewhere, “You are not singing. You are fighting like a smelly Nord. Can one sing when swinging a sword? I have enough. There is no story fuller of wickedness and cruelty. My heart feels like a dried-out well.”
As I searched for him some skeletons on wheels attacked.
Unrelenting Force took care of them as well.
His guards failed to stop my progress through the mansion.
Eventually it was just me and him.
As I walked towards him his insane ramblings continued.
“Again and again… How many times must I kill you? How many times must I cover your hometown in red mist?”
“I have enough. Are there even more coffins needed? I have already filled thousands of them!
“It is pointless. No matter what blood and excrement filled lies you promise, the Tower of Fate will never rise.”
“Hello crazy person. I am not who you think I am.”
“It is all according to the plot of the Moon Beast, Lorkhaj. Even a heartless Khajiit like me understands this.”
“Oh please don’t be heartless. I need it to get into the tower!”
Dro’Zel screamed and vanished.
I searched the rest of the mansion and found him slumped next to a bed.
When I got close his nonsense started again.
“I killed him over and over again. I cut off his limbs, tore out his heart. And still he returns as if nothing happened. What should I do? Should I kill him again and hope this is the last time? Answer me my beloved Hasaama…”
The skeletal remains of his wife were laid out on the bed. She had been dead for millennia and was not going to answer.
“Hasaama, Hasaama…Please answer me…That bard is here again…”
I drew my sword as he continued his pitiful plea to his beloved.
A single sword thrust ended his misery.
I collected the key and heart then made my way outside. I could see the long stairway to the locked gate. It was guarded by a single knight.
I killed the knight then used the key on the gate.
I was surprised the Army of Order was nowhere to be seen. I went invisible anyway.
Molag Bal’s version of the White Gold Tower had none of its beauty.
Two powerful Dremora guarded the portal that served as an entrance.
The first was more than a little surprised when I appeared out of nowhere and stabbed him in the back.
The second was even more surprised when my sword took his head clean off.
Once again I wondered why Molag’s guards were such a pushover.
I knew what I was going to find and hesitated. What has he done to my Mother’s body? I entered determined to recover it.
The spirit of Inquisitor Pepe was waiting in front of a life size statue of Molag Bal.
Before I could speak to him I had to kill some Scamp.
I stood before him and said, “Death doesn’t seem to have slowed you down much.”
“This madness cannot be shaken off so easily. You, who touched the Stone, should understand this.”
“You were killed by a Champion of Jyggalag called Laza. I drove him off but like the army, I think he is eternal.”
“Laza… Laza… Oh, I’ve heard that name somewhere. Who was it…I am sure it will come to me eventually.”
“He attacked me because of the taint I got from touching that red stone. Even though I could be his greatest ally he saw me as one of Molag Bal’s minions.”
“That stone is the key to the gates of the soul. It’s the bell of awakening that rouses the Oblivion inside.”
Inquisitor Pepe faded away but I am sure he will see me before the end.
I looked up at the statue and wondered what Molag was doing right now. Was he directing his defence from the frontline or cowering under a bed?
There was a portal behind the statue. I stepped in and teleported to further up the tower where fierce fighting could be heard echoing through the ancient structure.
Evidence of the battle’s progress was evident in the bloodied and broken bodies that increased in number as I traveled upwards.
I occasionally got stuck in the middle of a melee and had no choice but to kill those on both sides.
My objective was to always go up. The fighting was too tightly packed for invisibility to work for long so I summoned my own Dremora Lords who proved more than a match for the best troops of Molag and Jyggalag.
Once my Dremora were engaged I could find gaps and make my way past the skirmishes with only the occasional enemy in my way.
After several floors I saw Inquisitor Pepe though the bars of a doorway guarded by a giant Dremora.
He died as quickly as the smaller of his kind.
On his corpse was the key to the door Pepe was behind.
I unlocked the door and stood before him. He exclaimed, “I remember where I heard of Laza. That’s a name often used by nomads from the north. But as far as I know they were all slain by the Vampires ages ago.”
“I think you are talking of the descendants of those who helped Lamae and were slaughtered and raped by her. It would be fitting if one of them was the warrior who cut Molag Bal down in his own Tower!”
Inquisitor Pepe looked at the door and moaned, “Alessia… Alessia… I am sorry.”
“I noticed each level of the Tower has a name written in Daedric Script. What is this one called?”
“So he named it after the City of the Dead. And Saint Alessia’s mortal remains are in there?”
“Yes. Raising the dead is his specialty. Even without souls, bodies of the powerful serve him as useful vessels. Even dead saints serve him well. Or perhaps I should say that they only serve him because they are dead. I hope you will share their fate!”
“Why would you wish that? What have I done to deserve such condemnation from you?”
“You will do as you have done all along. You will destroy the body of Saint Alessia to keep it out of Molag’s clutches.”
“Even in your death you do not know who I am. Every other dead person I have spoken to has become wise after their demise.”
“Death has not yet made me wise or sated my curiosity. Who are you?”
“I am Wulf Septim, Emperor and Champion of The Divine. I am Dragonborn. I am the son of Saint Alessia and Tiber Septim. I was blessed by Lord Akatosh so therefore the product of three Gods.”
Inquisitor Pepe bowed his head and wept upon realising I would not mangle Saint Alessia’s remains.
I reassured him, “I will not harm my Mother’s body. I will take it back to Nirn and have it interred once again.”
I entered Sancremor Nagasel.
Alessia’s body was within a barrier powered by the souls of Alessian Order priests.
I killed them all and the outer barrier fell. An inner barrier remained between me and my Mother’s remains.
As I approached it Molag Bal’s personal bodyguard appeared.
“It is remarkable you’ve managed to get this far. But you will go no further.”
“Are you the best he had got protecting him?”
“I am Deathbringer Volar and I can’t let you go to my Lord. This is where you meet your end.”
“And that giant scythe is supposed to scare me? It is slow and you are already dead.”
I unsheathed my sword before he even put his hand on his scythe.
As he was drawing it I laughed and used the first Word of Whirlwind Sprint to get behind him.
As he turned I knelt. As soon as he faced me, I thrust up through the gap of the overlapping plates of his Daedric Armour.
As he lay mortally wounded he pleaded, “I don’t understand. Why did my Lord… why did he…?”
“Why did he send you to certain death? He hopes I will replace you by his side.”
A few more breaths later and his several millennia of loyalty were rewarded with death and an eternity in The Void. The final barrier around my Mother’s body dissipated.
I stood staring at it and was at a loss. I had so many questions.
My thoughts were interrupted by her sweet voice in my head, “My Son, beware for The Wolf is here!”
A knight with two swords was falling towards her body.
Lightning tried to strike me but the spell reflection on my shield sent it back double in power to the point of origin, The Wolf.
He staggered a few steps away from my Mother and I cut him down without hesitation.
Alessia’s body faded away and I cried as her spirit stood before me.
She said, “Hush my Dragonchild. This place could no longer hold what did not belong here. I was buried with Arkay’s Law and Arkay’s Blessing. This prevented the Dark Lord from resurrecting my corporeal form or using my soul. Arkay has gathered my stolen body.”
“So your body was displayed like a trophy. It was not used for any other purpose?”
“He could not overcome Arkay’s Blessing.”
“How can you talk to me? How could Arkay retrieve your body? Aedra are barred from Oblivion.”
“Remember when Lady Mara spoke to you when that plane of Oblivion was collapsing? Similar is happening here. The barrier between Aetherius and Coldharbour is weakened. It is only a projection of me but even that is a triumph. Still, it took a lot of effort by Arkay to call my body to Aetherius.”
“Why do you appear so young?”
“What you saw at the hut and in Sovngarde is what I looked like at the time of my death. This aspect is what I looked like just before I was given the instructions to start my rebellion by Lord Akatosh. It is how Menelion found me. I know not why. Some secrets are kept even from me.”
“I am lost Mother. I still do not know who I am! I am unsure as to what I am.”
“Your father and I can do little to sooth you at the moment. Please remember that we love you and are proud of you. Answers will come. That I promise you my son.”
Her spirit faded to nothing. I put my hand where she had been and wept some more.
I opened the door to the final passageway leading to Molag Bal’s throne room. Bodies lay where they fell in battle.
As I approached the throne Inquisitor Pepe’s spirit appeared once again.
He asked, “Saint Alessia’s body? Is it safe?”
“Arkay claimed it after I breached the barriers around it. My Mother spoke to me. Molag Bal could do nothing with her soul or her body. The Rights of Arkay ensured that.”
“Must you be the one to do this? Greymarch will end everything anyway.”
“I must guarantee it is done. It must be me.”
“Won’t you listen to the old man for once? I’ll say it again, stop. There’s nothing good waiting for you here. There is only decay. No mysteries solved or miracles given. Every effort will end in vain here.”
“Such will only occur if you believe the honeyed words of a Daedric Lord. I have a simple duty to perform. I am safe.”
“Then farewell son of blessed Saint Alessia. The Void comes. I wonder if they will take pity on an old fool one day…”
I could hear desperate gasps for breath from behind the throne. I walked over and found Molag Bal slumped on the floor badly wounded.
He pleaded, “Stop…Please, stop…”
“What have you to fear? The worst is over! I will destroy this body but soon you will be back here rebuilding your strength and seeking revenge. Jyggalag has had his revenge and will now target the next on his list of those who wronged him.”
“I hope it is that bitch Boethia!”
“Was it a dual wielding knight who brought you down?”
“Yes but as I faced him he stopped, sheathed his sword and threw a spear at me. He left before delivering the final blow. The spear vanished when he did but left this neat whole through my centre.”
“He came to harm the body of my Mother. I took care of him before he could. His name was The Wolf.”
“So what did you think of my miracle?”
“You know very well what this place is. It is not a miracle but it is educational.”
I drew my sword and Molag looked away.
I thrust it through him from front to back just above the spear wound.
His body turned into a pile of ash. A cloud of gas the same colour as Coldharbour’s sky drifted away.
I sifted through the ashes and retrieved the Ada Bal.
Further back in the room was a portal.
In front of it was a receptacle of the right size for the Stone.
I inserted the Ada Bal into the receptacle then stood back.
A beam of energy slowly reached from the portal to the one hovering above Coldharbour.
I stepped into the beam and was transported to a plane that seemed familiar. It was not Nirn It was not a plane of Oblivion or pocket plane of Oblivion. Instinctively knew it was Aetherius and that I should not dally in the realm of the Gods.
After my experience in Evermore I was shocked to see two Griffon statues.
I was amused to see a statue of Molag Bal with a spear through its centre. I had no idea who would have placed it in Aetherius or why.
In the distance I could see another portal which I assumed would take me back to Nirn.
I walked towards it but suddenly halted half way there. My parents had materialised in front of me.
- Tiber: My Son, I wanted to thank you for enabling the recovery of your Mother’s body.
- Alessia: Molag Bal has always been jealous of Arkay’s power so I can imagine how incensed he would have been when it thwarted him even in his own domain.
I stood there with an avalanche of emotions flowing through me. Alessia could see my turmoil even if Tiber did not. I was also wearing the Robes of the Divine.
- Tiber: I see a decoration in the distance. Let’s go have a look.
We started walking towards the statue of Molag Bal when I stopped once more and stood with my head bowed. Tiber finally realised my stress then looked on worried as Alessia came up to hold and comfort me.
- Alessia: What is it my Son? We hoped this would be a pleasant surprise for you.
- Wulf: I still do not know who or even what I am.
- Alessia: You are a mortal. We are your parents. What more do you want to know?
- Wulf: Am I the son of the mortal Tiber Septim or the God called Talos? Am I the son of the mortal woman called Al-Esh or the God called Saint Alessia?
- Alessia: You were conceived and birthed no different than any other mortal. Does it matter if we were gods or mortals at the time?
- Tiber: You know we will not discuss your childhood or the reason it is hidden. But I understand your confusion about me so ask and I will answer what I can.
- Wulf: Which is true, the orthodox or heretical teachings about your life and origin?
- Tiber: The truth can be found within a specific combination of both. I was born on Atmora with the name Hjalti. I regard myself as Atmoran as that was the land of my birth. By blood I am half Breton and half Imperial. I am not a Nord! My father was a Breton knight from Alcaire in High Rock. He met my mother, an Imperial noble visiting for an extended period, when he was assigned as one of her guards. They fell in love, married and within a year my elder brother Agnorith was born. A couple of years later I was conceived. Soon after that joy came tragedy. My mother’s entire family had been slaughtered by assassins. Her family came from Colovian Cyrodiil, Anvil I believe, and the assassinations were politically motivated. To escape the fate of her family my father resigned from the knights and they moved to Atmora where I was born in 2E 828. My mother died during childbirth as I was a Dragonchild. Rigmor would also die without Lord Akatosh’s intervention. I was brought up by an Altmer family after my father died defending them from bigots. I was only three at the time. I have few memories of my father and of course none of my mother.
- Wulf: I am more fortunate than you in that respect.
- Alessia: More fortunate than both of us. I was sold as a babe from good breeding stock. I suppose somewhere there must have been a record of who my parents were. After all they had to bargain my worth at the slave market. All I know is that I am of the Nedic people.
- Wulf: Then both of you understand my need to know my origins. I believe it is ingrained in all mortals. It is certainly a source of great pain to many of the orphans I have given a home and hope to.
- Alessia: We understand and it pains us to have kept so much from you.
- Wulf: At the time your parents eloped the histories say Atmora was completely frozen over.
- Tiber: Although the last known mass migration from that now frozen land to Tamriel occurred in 1E 68 there were still rich farmlands and green pastures in the centre. It was an ideal place to hide and that is why my parents chose it. Mer and Man lived in harmony and refused to let the prejudices of others infringe on the truth of common ancestry. They refused to join Ysgramor in his genocide or follow in its wake.
- Wulf: Did that all change?
- Tiber: Yes. Despite all efforts the racism eventually crept into the last settlements and the Altmer left. I believe it was soon after that exodus the ice and cold finally conquered the remaining grasslands.
- Wulf: Did you move to Tamriel from Atmora or High Rock?
- Tiber: When the Altmer family who raised me left Atmora I emigrated with them to Alcaire. I was fascinated by the different orders of knights and used to watch their martial training. When they learned who my father was the sword masters of his knightly order taught me for free. When I was sixteen years of age King Cuhlecain of Falkreath sent flyers all over Tamriel and other lands offering good wages, citizenship and excellent chances of promotion in the new army he was building. Although farmers by trade my adoptive family could not afford their own plot of land in Alcaire. I thought I would work as a soldier for a while and help save for the farm they yearned for. That is why I went to Falkreath and enlisted in Cuhlecain’s army.
- Wulf: But you were not a mercenary?
- Tiber: No, I was an enlisted soldier who signed up for seven years.
- Wulf: Is that where you learned to lead others?
- Tiber: Yes, I met many chieftains who taught both strategy and logistics. Turned out I was good at killing and a natural born leader. I quickly worked my way up the ranks of King Cuhlecain’s army. Although I learned a lot from the older soldiers I also developed my own tactics and strategies. They were new and innovative which allowed me to became a general at a very young age.
- Wulf: You claim to be Atmoran due to your place of birth. The Breton claim you as you were conceived in High Rock and your father was of that race. In reality most would call you Imperial due to the race of your mother. So in some ways all of the histories are correct.
- Alessia: All except the ones that claim he is a Nord.
- Wulf: The first born is not always a Dragonchild?
- Tiber: No but the histories hardly ever mention a Dragonchild’s parents or immediate family so do not fret if that is news to you.
- Wulf: How and when did you learn about the Thu’um?
- Tiber: During my travels I encountered Word Walls like you have also seen. I discovered I could read a script and understand a language I had never been taught. Each Word I learned from the walls had a complex meaning that gave them power. Histories told of Wulfharth and Reman and logic told me I was also Dragonborn. I taught myself! Like you it was only upon realising somebody had used the Thu’um did the Greybeards summon me. They knew me by name and called it so loudly that many below the Throat of the World were killed by avalanche. Wulfharth did not drag himself from Aetherius to visit the Greybeards and get killed for his insolence. Neither was he summoned by them. He simply appeared within my tent the night before the battle for Old Hroldan and taught me my first complete Shout. I think we both know who would have sent him.
- Wulf: Is Talos an over-soul of Tiber Septim and Wulfharth?
- Tiber: No.
- Wulf: Did you mantle Lorkhan?
- Tiber: No.
- Wulf: Are you an avatar of Lorkhan?
- Tiber: No.
- Wulf: Did you murder Emperor Cuhlecain?
- Tiber: No. The Greybeards, via Kyne and Paarthurnax, were told a prophecy that I would become Emperor. Like you I had no ambition to sit upon that uncomfortable throne. The manipulations of mortal and immortal politics put me there. I was ruthless in war but never a murderer. Have you ever murdered in cold blood?
- Wulf: I did assassinate an old lady who was selling orphans to slavers and worse but that was to prevent having to kill her in view of the ones under her care at the time. So no, I have never murdered anybody.
- Tiber: I did not murder Wulfharth either. Zurin Arctus may have but without my knowledge or consent.
- Wulf: Did you send the Numidium to kill entire families who held no animosity towards you or ambitions to remove you from the Ruby Throne?
- Tiber: I used that thing sparingly and only in battle. It became autonomous and made up its own mind on who and what posed a threat. The souls of the two mortals who would become the Worm King were trapped within the Mantella that powered it. Perhaps that was the cause of its unnecessary violence. I take responsibility as I ordered its reconstruction but I never gave it those orders. Did I invade Hammerfell or Morrowind? The way those two provinces became members of The Empire should tell you I did not use brute force when subtler and less violent means were available.
- Wulf: Did you make Barenziah abort your child?
- Tiber: There had been concoctions available for millennia before then that could have aborted the child without her even knowing it had been slipped into a drink or meal. Why would I force the woman I loved to suffer an unwilling abortion via Magicka? Those who accused me of such a thing never said who I was protecting! What heir to the throne did they think was endangered by the child? What happened to that heir and who was the mother? There is no record of who Pelagius’ parents are. The histories are right that call him my son and not grandson. We were told he was not a Dragonchild and let the birth proceed. Barenziah knew she was needed elsewhere after the birth but she could not leave me and her child. She asked for the knowledge of Pelagius’ birth and blood relationship to be erased. People knew she had been pregnant so we could not simply say nothing. When the God’s removed the knowledge as requested the story of the abortion was substituted. That eliminated the chance she may remain in love with me.
- Wulf: But the timing is all wrong given Pelagius’ age when he was crowned!
- Tiber: And yet I went back in time to manipulate Assclown after being ordered to do so. Rigmor should be proud of that apt moniker she gave him!
- Alessia: Your father made a great sacrifice allowing his beloved to believe those lies and move away. Think on that and ask if you could do the same.
I turned to Tiber. The pain he still felt from that sacrifice further creased the worn face of the ancient warrior king.
- Wulf: Forgive me Father. Can you not see how difficult it was to reconcile who I am if brought up by a father as bad as the heresies say?
- Tiber: There is nothing to forgive. If you are wondering about my name the orthodox story explains how I went from Hjalti to Tiber Septim and Talos.
- Alessia: Your time in Aetherius is limited. Like Sovngarde the living are in danger here.
- Wulf: Then let us have a look at the mysterious artwork. Perhaps you can explain it to me?
We walked over to the petrified Molag Bal. I could see by the look on my parents faces they disliked being near it.
- Wulf: Inside Coldharbour your spirit told me the barriers between Molag’s realm and Aetherius were temporarily weakened. Could Jygallag have taken advantage of that weakness and placed this here?
- Alessia: No. Even though we were once mortal neither your father or I could travel though the portal to Coldharbour. There is no way a Daedric Prince could travel to this small part of Aetherius.
- Tiber: This pocket plane is temporary. That sculpture will soon exist within Aetherius itself. It is obvious that is the purpose for which it was made.
- Alessia: It will end up floating among the stars. Perhaps an eternal monument to the time Molag’s realm was conquered.
- Wulf: He told me a warrior called ‘The Wolf’ threw a spear that pierced him front to back. The same warrior you warned me about Mother.
- Tiber: It has been millennia since a Dark Lord has been so reduced. But I would not be surprised to find his strength grow quickly. He just has to hide from Boethia for a while.
- Alessia: Jygallag’s threat was not new. Molag Bal had decades to put contingency plans in place.
- Wulf: Please tell me all of this effort made a difference.
- Alessia: He has been greatly weakened. You have accomplished what was needed.
- Tiber: You must leave now my Son.
- Alessia: We can’t tell you what will happen up to or after Kintyra’s birth. We can only assure you that both mother and child will be healthy.
- Wulf: I understand but I have one more question before I go.
- Alessia: We know what it is. You have asked it in not very polite terms when praying.
- Tiber: The answer is this. A Dragonborn was needed. We volunteered to create a Dragonchild.
- Alessia: We lived together for a long time before moving to that little hut. We were deeply in love before and after you were conceived.
- Tiber: You are not just a part of our Lord’s plans. You are loved my Son and never doubt that!
- Alessia: You have also been wondering if you have been manipulated so your free will is somehow lessened. No more than any child whose parents have instilled the values they hope will become dominant. We emphasised empathy, that most mortal of traits. We emphasised accountability and that in turn highlighted the concept of free will.
- Tiber: We were parents doing our best to produce an adult who understood and demonstrated the values we find most important. The fact that helped with our Lord’s plans was secondary. Things could have been manipulated to work with a selfish, violent egomaniac if that is what you grew up to be!
- Alessia: You must go now! You are in danger!
- Tiber: You will find the red stones gone along with the blood curse. Your soul is no longer tainted.
To prevent any more questions and delays my parents faded away.
I ran toward the portal to Nirn with my brain demanding I sit and sort through what just happened.
I kept running and leapt onto the portal.
I was transported to the top of the White Gold Tower. That makes sense since Molag’s tower is its replica.
I could see Nafalilargus was docked so made myself invisible and headed for the airship beacon. It was just after 5:00PM so I was hoping Rigmor was aboard. I made myself visible again before entering the cabin.
Meeko gave a welcoming bark. Rigmor looked across, saw me then ran and leapt into my arms.
She had a million questions that I tried to answer as we retired to our room. I wanted to get into my Emperor’s armour and visit a couple of places.
When I emerged Serana came up and asked, “Rigmor said you were voluntarily going to Coldharbour. That you were going to confront Molag Bal in his own home. Surely you did not be so foolish?”
“With the help of Jygallag I cut him down. It will take a while for him to regain his strength. Glad you are part of Rigmor’s squad for today. There are some people I want you to meet.”
I gave instructions to the Mages where they needed to ether then fly to. While that was happening, I sat for two and a half hours with The Sentinel and Rigmor. I recounted all that led up to me entering Coldharbour. They would have to wait till later for the recounting of my trip through that dismal place.
The bell rang to let me know we had arrived at the Temple of Stendarr.
We climbed down the ladder and I explained to Serana and Rigmor, “We are going to visit Keeper Gwyneth. As I told you earlier, I was known as Mecine but she knew I was not what I seemed. I promised I would tell her and explain what it was all about. Want to guess why I wanted you to join us Serana?”
“So you can give her a lecture on how not all Vampires are bad.”
“This will be the first step in changing how they operate.”
We walked past surprised Vigilants who should have been expecting somebody important when a great big airship flew overhead and anchored just outside their compound.
We entered the Temple and walked past Vigilants who had an excuse to be startled. They had not seen Nafalilargus arrive.
We made our way downstairs to the library and found Keeper Gwyneth with her nose in a book concentrating on what she was reading.
“Keeper, I have returned from the mansion.”
She looked up, stared at me then Rigmor and her mouth dropped open.
We stood smiling at her then laughed when she hurriedly got to her feet, knocked the book she was reading onto the floor and stood scratching the back of her head.
“Um, welcome back, um…Emperor. I was worried sick about you!”
“Relax Keeper Gwyneth. I told you I would let you know who I am. This is High Queen Rigmor and one of my Sentinel, Serana.”
Gwyneth stared at Serana and her mouth dropped open once more.
“So you know who she is?”
“Of course. Lady Serana was a hot topic of debate between the moderates such as myself and the bloodthirsty majority that once filled this Temple of Stendarr with mindless hate.”
“Let me tell you of where I have been and then quickly discuss the Vigilants going forward.”
“M’que sent a note saying you entered the mansion four days ago. He will still be there waiting for you to walk back out again. I sent some other Vigilants to wait with him.”
“The Bruiant family were victims of Molag Bal’s manipulations. The head of the household was immoral and this opened the door for the Dark Lord which resulted in many deaths. Those who died including him, his whole family, many servants and Master Bartholo.”
“When I removed the blood curses throughout the mansion Molag Bal invited me to visit him in Coldharbour which I did.”
“Why? Why would you go there?”
“Because Lord Akatosh asked me to. He wanted me to weaken Molag Bal even more and the only way to do that was to defeat him in combat within his own realm.”
“You did that?”
“Yes, with the aid of Jygallag’s army. He invaded Coldharbour as part of his revenge for what the other Daedric Princes had done to him. So that is why I did not walk back out the front door of the mansion. The Gods sent me to the top of the White Gold Tower on my return.”
“You spoke so casually of these things as Mecine and now I understand why. Champion of The Divines.”
“Yes and it is in that capacity, not Emperor, that I undertook this task. But now I have to look at what I have seen within the Vigilants of Stendarr as Emperor. Great changes will need to be made and rules enforced if you wish to remain as a legal order within The Empire. I can tell you right now that the Silver Hand will soon be outlawed. They serve no purpose. I brought Serana along as I wanted to see your reaction to her presence. You give me hope that the Vigilants can be made true representatives of Stendarr. At the moment you are a bunch of fanatics working well beyond the original charter and with no regard for the laws of the land. You ignore Lord Stendarr’s command and precepts.”
“I look forward to working to bring such a change about but Keepers in other provinces may have issues.”
“Then they had better learn to accept the changes or risk the Vigilants going the way of the Silver Hand. Both The Dawnguard and The Blades have changed demonstrating it can be done.”
“Then I will pray to Stendarr they do accept them.”
“You will be contacted soon with a draft of the new regulations. All Vigilants are welcome to provide feedback. But for now I thank you for your assistance. We must be on our way.”
“You have left your horse in our stables.”
“His name is Revel. Can you please have somebody ride him to the orphanage near Whiterun? The Stable Master there will then send him onto Bruma. He is a fine mount.”
Gwyneth bowed and we headed to the airship.
Once aboard I decided to fly Nafalilargus to Bruiant Mansion. Rigmor rugged up and stayed by my side. It gave us a chance to enjoy our quiet and also discuss her day at the orphanage. We also discussed my meeting with Tiber and Alessia in detail. She understood I was still left with so many questions but at least some of the more pressing were answered.
We flew over the mansion before I anchored just outside the gates, I was surprised to see a large contingent of Imperial Legionnaires surrounding it.
When we climbed down the ladder Rigmor remarked, “I have been thinking about the Bruiant family and the only thing I can recall is they were renowned breeders of dogs. I can’t recall them ever being involved in much politics.”
“At least they were smart enough to avoid that. Too bad the head of the family couldn’t keep his fly zipped.”
I approached M’que and he remarked, “First the normal Imperials get in our way and now their Emperor!”
“Do you still think it was a mistake giving up bandits and racists for Daedra and Vampires?”
“You are Mecine? This Khajiit is relieved he did not say nasty things about the nice Emperor. Khajiit would not be so handsome without his head.”
“Thank you for waiting here for me. Head back to the Temple. Keeper Gwyneth will fill you in on some important news and explain what this place was all about.”
“Khajiit did not enjoy the first night here alone. It was better when the others arrived. I knew I could run faster than them if something came out of that terrible place looking for dinner.”
I laughed as I headed for a stern looking Captain who seemed to be in charge of the Legionnaires.
He stood to attention and gave a perfect salute.
“At ease Captain. What is your name?”
He maintained his rigid and perfectly straight stance as he answered, “Captain Cato Majesty.”
“Why are you and your men here Captain?”
“Hunters passed this place a few days ago and reported to the first Imperial patrol they saw. Horrendous screams and other noises coming from within disturbed them. The only person they saw was a Khajiit Vigilant of Stendarr snoring under a blanket. The patrol reported to me and we decided to investigate.”
“Even when other Vigilants arrived you did not allow them entrance?”
“No, I do not like their methods. I was awaiting further orders on what to do.”
“I want you to triple the guard here. Under no circumstances is anybody to enter the buildings or remove any item from within the boundary.”
“Can I ask what has happened Majesty?”
“The whole family is dead along with all their servants and a Vigilant who was investigating. It was the work of Molag Bal.”
“Sounds like nasty business! What will be done with the property?”
“Normally a search for heirs would be conducted and any found would be informed. That will still happen but I am afraid they will not inherit the buildings. They will be destroyed along with all contents and the grounds cleansed by Priests of Arkay.”
“If it is that dangerous then I had better inform my men here and the others that arrive. Do not worry Majesty, we will not let even a Skeever enter without your written permission.”
I saluted and he returned it with prefect precision once again. He was obviously a career soldier and proud of it.
After we returned to the air-ship I went to my pocket plain and retrieved the bodies of Lilian and her family one at a time.
One of the Master mages flew us via ether to Solitude. The Sentinel helped me carry the bodies to the Hall of The Dead.
Styrr wrote down the information I could provide about the family and their origin. He would inter them in Solitude till family was contacted and their wishes made known.
When I entered the cabin of Nafalilargus I was exhausted both mentally and physically. I crawled into bed and Rigmor curled up beside me.
I fell asleep immediately.
This journal entry was written after I woke more than a day later.