Arcwind Point, Cloudreach Tower, Throat of the World: Paladins.
As planned Rigmor and I got out of bed later than usual. Everybody else had finished breakfast by the time we made it to the table.
The bell rang to let me know we had arrived at Arcwind Point. Skeleton Lords and powerful Draugr guarded the place last time I visited it. Dragons also seemed to like the area.
Rigmor looked at me with tears threatening and pleaded, “Just be careful my Dragonborn.”
“It is just more Molag Ball bullshit. I don’t suspect there will be much to it.”
“I understand why The Sentinel cannot follow, but you can conjure allies you know!”
“Yes, and I do quite often when by myself. I also have dozens of new and powerful Shouts. I am better protected and more lethal than ever. I will be okay.”
“I hope more worms like The Synod come to parley today. I feel much better after yelling at those who deserve it.”
“Just don’t bite. It is not very ladylike.”
I kissed my beloved on the cheek as she laughed, and that is the best way to say goodbye.
I came on deck and was welcomed by a Dovah named Kriidvenhaal who bellowed, “Hi los gut nol hofkiin Dovahsebrom.” (You are far from home Dragon of the North.)
I replied, “Drem yol lok Kriidvenhaal. Bormahu’s paal los pah ko lein.” (Greetings Kriidvenhaal. Our father’s enemies are all over Mundus.)
“Krif pruzah. Ofan nid aaz.” (Fight well. Give no quarter.)
“Orin Bormahu ofan aaz. Nii los ni aan sahlo.” (Even our father gives mercy. It is not a weakness.)
The Sentinel insisted on escorting me to the cave entrance.
They took care of some Skeleton Lords.
I thanked them and said my fair wells before entering.
The caves were quite extensive, but I knew what I was looking for had to be in a part I had not previously explored.
I soon came across large and unfamiliar cavern that required a lot of bow work to clear out the many undead.
In the distant past, there seemed to be several exits protected by those mindless glyph puzzles. A cataclysm had destroyed the doors and many of the walkways.
Whirlwind Sprint was needed on several occasions to cross the gaps.
A narrow tunnel led me to the only intact doorway I had come across.
It opened to a large cavern that was full of chests but no Draugr or other undead. Not even a sarcophagus or two for them to hide in!
I could see a glow emanating from a staff at the far end. I headed that way hoping the Paladin Amulet would be amongst the valuables surrounding it.
I expect something nasty to be protecting piles of treasure and septims piled into a corner. Maybe I am just paranoid?
So when I happily stashed away thousands in precious jewels and weighed myself down with coins without being attacked, I got even more paranoid!
In amongst all the loot was the amulet I was seeking.
I picked up the staff. Still no attack. It had dweomer on it for absorbing health, stamina and Magicka. It was quite powerful and had the name Rendil inscribed in Ayleidoon halfway along its shaft.
On the ground was a skull with very intricate carvings. It did not have a dweomer I could detect, but that does not mean there weren’t Daedric ones on it. I took it with me anyway.
I placed the Paladin Amulet around my neck and teleported from Skyrim…
…to a small island surrounded by a light-coloured sea. I was sure the island was west of Tamriel but how far between it and the sunken isles of Yokuda I did not know.
Cloudreach Tower did not have to be very high to earn its name. A mist surrounded it which defied the warm air and sea temperature.
On one side of the tower were steps leading to a balcony about forty feet up.
I crossed a bridge to the ground level. A Magicka barrier protected a door.
I heard some voices so cast invisibility. I moved counterclockwise and found three people unloading two boats. Two of them wore the mage uniforms of the College of Winterhold.
Not knowing if they were going to be aggressive, I released the spell and slowly became visible.
All three immediately attacked and died in seconds.
On one of the mages, I found the following note,
“Don’t let anyone or anything inside until we get the sword. Also, tell Marlin to light the tower with her spell.
It appears Rendil gave up his knighthood and took on the title of Arch-Mage. It is not a title exclusive to the College of Winterhold. It merely denotes the leader of a group of mages. That is why I have killed dozens of Arch-Necromancers. It is the same concept.
There was another door protected by a Magicka barrier near the boats.
I headed for the steps I had seen earlier.
It led to a doorway that had been breached by fire and force. I guessed somebody reasonably powerful in the Thu’um had done it.
There were many voices both above and below. I used Detect Life to see where the speakers were. I carefully bypassed many runes placed to catch the unwary. There was no way of dispelling them quietly.
There was nothing special about the guards. They all seemed like typical bandit scum similar to those I killed on the boats.
I found several Welkynd stones which were still valuable even though their Magicka had been drained. The architecture of the building was not of Ayleid design.
There was a surprising number of guards. Their spacing was too far apart, which made it easy to kill them one by one without alerting others.
Magelights were in abundance.
They did not light up a large area, but they well silhouetted the guards.
It appears some more senior mages had been experimenting with the Welkynd Stones. A waste of time. The Ayleid took the secrets of that Dawn Magic with them.
Runes on stairways I could not avoid.
So I used a weak Unrelenting Force to trigger them. That would sometime attract guards who I killed quickly with my bow.
Among the guards were Cold-Flame Atronach. They were a Daedric corruption of the Flame-Atronach. Serena often talked about Cold-Fire Destruction spells that she could no longer cast since becoming mortal. According to her many of Molag Bal’s minions used Cold-Fire spells but I did not encounter a single one during my time in Coldharbour.
My meditation yesterday not only taught me new Shouts; it significantly increased the damage of all Shouts. Unrelenting Force killed both Atronach and guard alike.
I picked the lock to a door. It entered into another part of the tower with a stairway that spiralled upward.
Guards were scattered throughout this part of the tower as well.
On several occasions, I used a weak Unrelenting Force to set off the runes and injure guards that clustered together.
My bow did the rest.
I was disappointed to come across Master Mages from the College. I wondered if they had been listening to Molag Bal’s whispers.
A shrine of Akatosh was a welcome sight.
In a locked display case was a beautiful sword. Inscribed in Ayleidoon on its blade was the name Ignus. It had a far stronger dweomer for absorbing health, stamina and Magicka that the staff I found earlier.
In the same room, a bow caught my attention. It was of Snow Elf construction. In archaic Cyrodiilic the name Irelebor was inscribed upon it. That was the name of the Grand Paladin.
The tower seemed to get darker as I travelled higher. A beam of light was directed at something I could not make out and pierced the ceiling.
A very skilled dual blade warrior surprised me with a sneak attack. He was wearing a strange mask and appeared to be guarding an archway that had a Magicka barrier. I managed to block his flurry of moves with shield and sword, which seemed to surprise him. He left an opening and was dead in seconds.
I was surprised by what I saw after removing his mask. He looked Dunmer but pale in colour. I would say he was a Chimer, but that is not likely. The histories say the last Chimer alive was Almalexia who the Nerevarine killed in 3E 427. They were wrong about the Ayleid and Snow Elves. It was intriguing to think that Chimer might also still be alive somewhere on Nirn.
A handy lever turned off the Magicka barrier.
The beam of light I saw below terminated at a corpse just in front of where the barrier was. Another Magicka barrier covered the hole in the ceiling. Many towers such as this have them to let in natural light.
There was also a skeleton with a beam of light emanating from it.
When I touched the body to search it a beam attached itself to me from the ceiling. It was slowly draining my health and would eventually kill me. It seems the two dead in the room had succumbed to it.
I was not too concerned. It would take many hours for it to drain me completely. I doubt it would still be attached if I used my Ayleid pendant and went to my pocket plain.
The beam was already attached to me, so I thought I might as well inspect the skeleton and see if there was anything useful amongst the bones. So I leapt over the small fence to take a look. The remains had nothing to aid in my task. While I was investigating it, two Dremora Valynaz appeared from the ether and attacked.
“Coldharbour is collapsing after Jygallag’s attack. I bet you two were thinking how lucky you are after being summoned and escaping that catastrophe.”
I leapt back over the small fence and killed the first of them with a quick combination of shield bash and sword thrust. The Dremora had no hope of countering with his two-handed sword.
The other Dremora retreated out of the room. I ran at him then ducked as he swung his axe at my head.
“Sorry to say you stood no chance either way.”
I threw him against the far corner with a full-strength Unrelenting Force. He didn’t get up again. Until my session with Kyne the previous day, I doubt my Thu’um could have killed a Dremora Valynaz so easily.
The beam detached, and my health was no longer draining away. When I looked behind me, Magicka barriers had appeared and blocked both entrances again. I continued in my present direction as I had no choice.
In an epic battle between a small number of combatants, it looked like a combination of Thu’um and Magicka had been used. Rubble and scorch marks marked each room and stairway.
I entered a large room with swinging blades down its centre. Why do people put in so much effort to create idiotic traps like this? You could easily walk down either side of the room and not be in danger from the blades. Runes had been placed in regular intervals along both edges in the hope an intruder would not know they are there. I casually walked down the centre occasionally pausing to let a blade sweep past harmlessly.
The exit to the roof of the tower was walled off. In its place was a portal which I entered.
On the roof, there was a deceased knight just after the portal entrance. In the distance, a red barrier that stank of dark magic surrounded one living knight and three stone ones.
I assumed the living knight was the summoner of the Dremora Valynaz. He was muttering some incantation in the foul language of the Dark Lords. He felt safe in his cocoon and ignored me as I inspected the dead knight.
He had a sword made of Dragonbone with a very powerful frost dweomer on it. Inscribed on its pommel was the same name on the bow I found earlier. The deceased was Grand Knight Irelebor, and he was a Snow Elf. Also upon his body was a journal explaining how the order came to be,
“In the recent past, when the Dov ruled over Men and Mer, Lord Akatosh created our order of knights and called it The Sword of Auri-El.
Our task was to help unite dragon and mortal as equals. We worked closely with several Dov chosen by Lady Kyne to assist. Five warriors were chosen and given the title of Paladin. They were Irelebor the Falmer, Ignus the Atmoran, Thalth the Altmer, Fenrald the Nedic and Rendil the Chimer.
Our order’s name derives from a blade forged by Lord Akatosh himself and carried by the Grand Paladin. It is a superb scimitar that has many dweomer placed upon it. We call it the Blade of Akatosh.
The Dark Lord Molag Bal placed a blood curse on those Dov who were assigned to assist us. They all refused to succumb to his compulsions and turned to stone. We were left to do what we could without the aid of Kyne’s chosen.
Try as we might we could not prevent the evil of the Dragon Priests who worked alongside the more ambitious and violent of the Dov on the continent of Tamriel. They created a Dragon Cult and enslaved Man and Mer instead of remaining on equal terms as Lord Akatosh desired.
Paladin Ignus was the most offended by this turn of events since Dov and mortal had lived side by side in peace for a long time in Atmora.
The World-Eater, Alduin, was a brutal and egomaniacal leader. He regarded himself a God and equal to his maker Akatosh. Under his direction, the Dragon Priests and Dov inflicted great cruelty to subjugate mortals, and this spread from Tamriel to Atmora and most likely more continents.
Mortals rebelled against such blasphemy and barbarism. Thus began the Dragon Wars.
No matter how brave or ingenious were the mortals, they had no answer to the Thu’um wielded by even the weakest of the Dov. Lady Kyne once again intervened and persuaded other Dov to teach mortals the Thu’um. Her two daughters, children of Shor, also aided in this endeavour.
The five Paladins of The Sword of Auri-El became some of the most proficient and our power in the Thu’um only surpassed by the three Tongues who later banished Alduin from Nirn.
During the war, we did not openly fight against the Dov. We knew that many were following Alduin out of self-preservation and fear, not loyalty. We did not want to seek out and kill our friends.
Instead we defended the last city where mortal and Dov co-existed. It was where Paarthurnax and Kyne’s daughters taught the Thu’um to mortals. We ended up fighting and killing many Dov but only those who attacked our home. I reiterate, we did not venture out looking for battle.
The three most potent Tongues banished Alduin. Molag Bal continued with his mischief after the end of the Dragon Wars.
We gathered at the top of Cloudreach Tower to pray and thank Lord Akatosh and Lady Kyne for their Divine assistance.
Rendil then betrayed the order and tried to steal the Blade of Akatosh for Molag Bal.
Whether he was a victim of a blood curse or simply believed the promises of the Dark Lord, I do not know.
Rendil cast a dark dweomer that petrified three of the Paladins. He was surprised when I remained unaffected. I believe it was the Blade of Akatosh, which I carry as Grand Paladin, that protected me.
We fought, and although we both used the Thu’um, it was also sword vs Magicka as they were our skills before becoming Paladins.
In was a long battle in which he boasted of the power of his new Lord, how Molag Ball would destroy Mundus and make Akatosh weep. I pleaded with him not to abandon Auri-El.
Eventually, I started to get the upper hand. It seemed I would deliver the final blow, but Rendil vanished in a flash of red.
So here I remain to protect my three comrades. Perhaps there is a way to reverse the dweomer placed on them?
I have no doubt the traitor Rendil will return and try again.
I can stay here till I die of old age. The island is in the middle of Yokuda shipping lanes, and traders often stop to see if there are goods to be sold or bartered.
It would be good to experience the new world where a renewed hope for the future has replaced the fear and cruelty of the few.
But I know my duty and will remain.
Grand Paladin Irelebor.”
Khakaankrein didn’t mention I would be going back many millennia in time to the end of the Dragon Wars. But why bother with a scheme of Molag’s from so long ago?
The chanting finished as I approached the red barrier. Each of the petrified Paladin had a white globe that circled their heads.
The Blade of Akatosh floated in the middle of a pentagon.
“Arch Traitor Rendil. Come and test the power of your Dark Lord against the might of Auri-El.”
He vanished and so did the sword.
The barrier collapsing caused a red flash. It temporarily blinded me.
The three Paladin attacked. Their glowing blue eyes hinted that they were no longer mortal knights but something more sinister.
They were powerful, and I had to think of a strategy quickly.
One was clumsy in his attack, and I quickly cut him down.
“STRUN BAH QO” issued forth from my mouth as I used the Storm Call Shout for the first time in combat.
I had been reluctant to use it before as the lightening that results randomly strikes friend and enemy alike. I had used it in the alternate reality I was sent into after I made that vow to Rigmor. There I had used it to protect Rigmor in the Battle for Bruma. It killed not only Robere’s troops but Yngol’s and Bruma’s as well. I still shudder when I remember the rejection from my beloved even though I won the battle for her.
I had to walk backwards as I parried a dual-wielding knight in Dragonbone armour. He used the Dragon Aspect Shout on himself, and this made him one of the deadliest melee opponents I had ever faced.
A massive bolt of lightning struck him on his helm.
The shock momentarily interrupted the rhythm of his relentless attacks from his Daedric axe and sword.
That was all I needed to change from defence to attack.
Eventually, I slipped past his defences. The Dragonbone armour and Dragon Aspect Shout did not protect him against my sword. He collapsed then vanished.
I looked over, and he had returned to his petrified state, the same as the one I cut down seconds earlier.
That left a mage who seemed to have no head, just those disturbing glowing blue eyes.
Lightning destroys reserves of Magicka. When the melee started the mage was protected by several defensive spells. His defensive dweomer dissipated after being struck by lightning several times. The spells he cast my way were pathetically weak.
I used a full-strength Unrelenting Force that almost sent him toppling over the fence to the ocean or ground below.
As he tried to scramble to his feet, another tremendously powerful bolt of lightning struck him dead. He too returned to his petrified form.
The storm continued unabated around me as I studied the three Paladin. Their petrified forms did not look like their corporeal forms. I could not detect any dweomer, but those used by Rendil were most likely Daedric in origin.
I hate all the metaphysical gobblygook I get involved in, but that does not mean I do not have an instinct for it. We may be millennia before my trip to Coldharbour, but I believed Rendil was sent very recently after spending all those years as a ‘guest’ in that most dreary of places. Instinct told me he would still be somewhere on the tiny island waiting for Molag Bal to drag him back home with the sword.
I also realized the one with the mask I killed earlier was of the Chimer race. I knew Rendil was as well. Since this was a time before Azura cursed that race they did not have the blue/grey skin and red eyes of the Dunmer.
Some people claim Akatosh/Auri-El is insane. Blasphemy or not I can imagine it is not so easy even for a God to keep track of all this linear time gobblygook!
I entered the portal…
…and found myself back inside the tower.
I slowly made my way down the many flights of stairs and encountered no guards except conjured Cold-Flame Atronach.
My bow took care of them.
Detect Life was useless at warning me of the Atronach but showed me where Rendil was.
I used my stealth abilities to approach him. I could have killed him with an arrow to the back but decided I would like some answers first.
I put my bow away, drew my sword and crept up behind him.
I could have ended him with a clean backstab but decided not to. I asked quietly, “Arch-Traitor Rendil. Is Molag Bal not talking to you?”
He quickly cast some protection spells which are useless against the Thu’um.
He turned to face me. I knocked him down with a middle strength Unrelenting Force.
“Nice sword. My celestial father does fine work, don’t you agree? The one I wield is probably his best work though.”
“You defeated the Paladins?”
“Without breaking a sweat. Surely you know who you face?”
“A mortal meddler who should know better than to cross Lord Bal!”
“Did Molag send you here in desperation? I stopped his plan in Nagasel. I stopped his plan with the Vigilants of Stendarr. Greymarch was close to penetrating his last defences. So he sent you, his most pathetic minion, back in time in forlorn hope you may succeed.”
“I bested Grand Paladin Irelebor! I am not as weak as you think.”
“Why has he not recalled you to Coldharbour?”
“I…I do not know why I can’t return.”
I said to myself, “Silly Wulf, he does not have the power to send people back in time. This coward used his Paladin Amulet to get here. But now it will not return him to Coldharbour.”
I could see by the emotions that flickered across his face that I was correct.
“So I am right, and I will tell you why this is so. Coldharbour now belongs to Jygallag. I made the barrier fall, and his army overwhelmed the final defenders. A hero of his, The Wolf they called him, brought down your Dark Lord with a spear. I finished him with this sword. Molag will eventually return to his realm. For now many of his Dremora and other scum, such as you, are stuck in Mundus.”
“The great and mighty Molag Bal is now in hiding and is terrified Boethia will find him. She would consume him then shit him out like she did with Trinimac. It makes my job as Champion of The Divine so much easier when the Daedric Princes squabble amongst themselves.”
“Why bore me with all this dribble? Just kill me and gloat to somebody else.”
“Did I mention I am also Lady Azura’s Champion. Maybe you picked the wrong Dark Lord to follow?”
I knew he would react violently to that piece of news. He tried to cut me in two with the Blade of Akatosh. I thrust my sword under his ribcage. He died instantly.
His body burned from inside.
All that remained was his skeleton and the unharmed sword.
I picked it up and instantly felt the presence of Lord Akatosh. I am not a fan of scimitars but could feel its balance, and the craftsmanship was superb. The only dweomer on it I could recognize provided powerful protection against Magicka. I will have to experiment to understand how it uses my equipped shout.
I did not like the idea of being so far in the past. Then I realized something.
Linear time felt normal!
I did not know if that was good or bad since it is all over the place in 4E 205 after Nagasel.
I quickly put the Paladin Amulet around my neck in a rare moment of panic.
I expected to appear back in Arcwind Point, where I had put it on to get to the tower.
I found myself facing an amused Paarthurnax instead.
He chuckled then said, “Let me answer your questions before you waste good tinvaak time asking them.”
“They had better be good answers or this tinvaak will be very short.”
“We did not tell you about the movement through time as you would have unnecessarily worried. By the look on your face when you just appeared before me, you were frightened of the implications.”
“Why shouldn’t I be when linear time felt right then and so wrong now. Time can be skewed in pocket planes as experience has shown me. I might have returned millennia in the future or millennia ago.”
“But you were not in another realm. You were in Mundus and time progresses forward no matter how confused the timelines look at present. Linear time progressed even during a Dragon Break.”
“You speak as a being who has lived with this knowledge of time for over six thousand years or more. I have had three and a half that I know of.”
“And yet most of it is still a mystery to me. Would knowing of the travel back in time made the completion of the task any easier? Or would you still have worried unnecessarily even if Khakaankrein, Odahviing and I swore that all would be okay?”
“I expect such manipulation from the Gods. I did not expect it from Dov.”
“We were sending you on behalf of Kyne and Bormahu and followed their instructions. So go ahead and blame the Gods. We were simply their messengers. Should we have disobeyed them?”
“Of course not and you know it!”
“It is still the same day you left. Summon your flying ship and then relax. We can tinvaak till it arrives.”
“You asked for my return to place me here in front of you. A small favour for a loyal servant. How about we discuss how devious you are?”
“A good starting subject. But I am sure replacing my urge to kill and dominate mortals with a desire to tinvaak is a fair swap don’t you think?”
I placed the beacon and summoned Nafalilargus with a bell to give a clue who it was.
I could have walked down to the airship dock at High Hrothgar but did want to have a good talk with my giant green friend.
So I sat on a nearby rock and let the most ancient of creatures waffle on to his heart’s content.