Fredas, 4th Last Seed, 4E 205 to Sundas, 6th Last Seed, 4E 205 Part Two

Forgotten City: Metaphysical gobbledygook.

Next local I met was a woman tilling a field. She stood as I approached.

“Hello, I am Wulf and am new here.”

“Hello Wulf, my name is Ysmar and welcome to your new home.”

“You’re a farmer?”

“Yeah, I just work the land, make sure we’ve enough food for everyone. Can’t afford to run out here, you know?”

“Hard but good honest work is farming!”

“Probably harder than being a Jarl! But I don’t mind as it keeps me active and I’m getting on a bit. Helps he sleep soundly every night.”

“You don’t think the Jarl works hard?”

“No, I don’t think he works hard at all, and I’d say the same to his face if I ever saw him. But he is always hiding up there in his Citadel.”

“What do you think he does up there?”

“You know what? I’m not sure what he does. I know he doesn’t keep order. We’ve got the Dwarves’ Law for that.”

“Dwarves’ Law?”

“Oh, you had better speak to the Jarl about that and quickly!”

“Will do.”

“Live and let live is what I say. As long as I have a roof over my head and food on my table, plus good neighbours like Gulvar, I can’t complain.”

“You have never wanted to leave here?”

“No, it’s not that bad! Why don’t you give the place a chance before you start looking for a way out?”

“There is nothing in here to compensate for what I have back home, and an awful lot of people depend on me. Even if a paradise on Nirn it will never be my home. But I am glad you are content. Goodbye for now.”

Ysmar replied, “I’ll be seeing you around!” then went back to tilling.

A frightening scenario started to formulate in my mind.

Gulvar mentioned a simple set of laws with severe punishment for breaking them. Ysmar implied the Jarl does not enforce them.  She called them the ‘Dwarves’ Law’.  

I surmised the laws were already in place when Metellus found the city. The many Dwemer busts detected crimes with their beady green eyes and punishment dealt out by the Dwemer Centurions. I would have to find out more to confirm my suspicions.

I decided to seek out Master Brandas and let him know I was there to help.

I found his house quickly, thanks to the ‘Citizen Arrival Log’.  I knocked on his door then heard a feeble, “Come in.”

Master Brandas was lying on his bed and appeared to be badly burnt.

“Master Brandas, I am here because Lord Stendarr wants me to find out what happened to you and Master Liandris. He also wants me to investigate the evil.”

“You know then! All the other’s think I am mad, but you had them too? Images Stendarr plants in your head. Showing you secrets. Making you come here.”

“I have had many Gods talk to me but not Lord Stendarr. Kyne sent me here on his behalf. What can you tell me?”

“Deep in the earth beneath the City is something terrifying. It is powerful and evil. I went down into the tunnels to destroy it but the energy, its seeps into your bones. Please, you must find a way down there and finish what I…”

Master Brandas’ eyes stared ahead, lifeless.  Lord Stendarr probably let him know I was coming. He must have spent days holding back death till I arrived.

I closed his eyes and set his body out straight then inspected his skin. Neither flame nor chemical burnt his skin. He mentioned energy and the only thing I could think of associated with the Dwemer is Aetherium. The only considerable deposits of that substance are in Blackreach. It would take an enormous amount to produce a harmful energy field! I have never read of such a large deposit.

Aetherium being the cause of Brandas’ condition was pure speculation at that stage.

When my home was Skyrim, I wanted to investigate Aetherium further, but it was never a Divine Task.  I avoided endangering myself on a whim. My interest was piqued again by a set of armour we found when searching for Kagrenac’s Tools. When Madras saw it and the strange minerals we found beside it, he almost dropped dead with excitement. The armour has strong Dweomer all over it powered by Aetherium. Madras did some research and thinks he knows where the Aetherium Forge might be. The very thing the Dwemer fought a long and costly war over. Their once mighty civilisation declined rapidly afterwards. Maybe Rigmor can be part of an archaeological outing to find the forge? It is certainly something that could aid in our preparation for the Akaviri invasion.

On a table next to Brandas’ bed was his will,

“I, Brandas of the Vigilants of Stendarr, make this will:

I leave all my worldly possessions, including my immaculate dwarven boots, to whoever is willing to continue my mission to rid this place of the evil that lies buried beneath this city.

May Stendarr’s blessing protect you.

Brandas, first day of Last Seed, 4E 198.”

Coincidence he wrote his will the day I arrived via the time-portal? No, I didn’t think so either.

I had a close look at the boots, and they were of excellent craftsmanship. Their condition was superb. The metal seemed to be a lot thicker than the many other pairs I have found over the years.

I had found Brandas’ key, so I decided to leave the boots where they were and lock the door to the house.

I needed to speak to the Jarl so headed to The Citadel.

I heard the following when walking past the room of, according to the log, Domitus and a woman called Safira.

“Hey, I saw that. Look at me. Do you think I don’t notice when you check someone out?”

“I wasn’t, Dom, I swear. Please don’t be angry with me.”

“My name is Domitus, not ‘Dom’. You know, one of these days those wandering eyes of yours are going to get you in real trouble.”

I wasn’t going to ignore a woman being threatened and abused so stormed into the room.

A sour-faced Imperial glared at me and yelled, “How dare you come in here like you own the place!”

“If I hear you have abused Safira it will not be pleasant for you.”

“I beg your pardon. Did you just threaten to hurt me? Is that supposed to make me frightened of you? Let me explain something to you, peasant.”

He looked at me as if I was insane when I had to control my laughter at the ‘peasant’ part.

He continued, “Cut a single hair on my head, cast a single spell or fire a single arrow and the Dwarves’ Law means you are dead. Dead! Got it? You might have been somebody important in your old life, but down here you are no one! Here I own you, and there is nothing you can do about it!”

“Look at my armour Domitus. I am a General of the Imperial Legion. This land is in the Markarth Hold and therefore subject to Imperial Laws, not those of an extinct race. If I arrested you and placed you in a prison cell, what law would I be breaking? If you were going to resist arrest, I would simply have your door locked and barred. You would have prisoner rations for as long as I felt like it.”

“The Jarl would not allow it!”

“Does he have authority from High King Torygg to secede this land from Markarth and declare himself a Jarl? He does not and is no more a Jarl than you are the Emperor.”

Domitus was speechless. He was a typical bully who did not know how to handle somebody standing up to him.

“As for being a peasant. This armour is unique and was made for me by the finest blacksmiths in Tamriel. Look at my weapons. Lord Akatosh made them, and they are worth more than this whole city.”

I reached into my breastplate and pulled out the bag of gems I carry everywhere with me. Domitus’ eyes opened wide as I randomly poured a dozen or so into my hand.

“I own huge castles and estates. I am probably the richest man in Tamriel. I am also real nobility with more titles than you can count. What are you? Some minor Imperial official or merchant? I probably hire thousands like you.”

I placed the Ayleid Pendant around my neck and teleported into my pocket plane. I then took it off and reappeared in front of the startled Domitus.

“I can leave this place anytime I wish. Let me make this simple. You own nobody. You are nothing but an insignificant little man.”

I turned to Safira and said, “You are free of him. I noticed an inn. Wait there, and I will make sure you get allocated a house.”

She looked frightened and uncertain.

“He has no control over you if you don’t let him. What is he going to do? Drag you back here? Is that not violence and against the Dwarves’ Law?”

I took out my coin purse and handed Safira twenty septim, making sure they were all older than 4E 198.

“That will pay for food and a room for a while.”

Safira looked at Domitus, and then her fear turned to contempt. She spat on him and stormed out of the room.

I turned back to Domitus. He said, “I will continue to enjoy the privileges that my station in life affords me. I live in the Citadel, I do what I want, and I eat the food the peasants give me. If they feel hard done by, what are they going to do about it? Start a rebellion? Plot a little coup against the Jarl? Ridiculous! They’d break the Dwarves Law and be dead within minutes. They will never do it. They will do what told to do and just accept their lot in life.”

“How about they not give you food to eat. What could you do about that? Nothing without breaking the Dwarves’ Law. Metellus does not own the food, so they would not be stealing. They hold the upper hand, not you. What an idiot you are.”

I then used my Thu’um enough to rattle everything in his room.

“I AM BLESSED BY THE GODS AND YOU ARE BUT A WORM. TOUCH SAFIRA AGAIN AND YOU WILL DIE! THAT I SWEAR ON THE NINE.”

Domitus fell to his knees, whimpering. I left his room, knowing he will cause no more problems for Safira or me.

My few seconds in my pocket realm did not let me know what year it was. It is not subject to the same linear time as Mundus.

I made my way to the Jarl’s chambers. Sato, his deaf guard, was waiting for me and said, “Wulf, the Jarl is waiting for you on his balcony, on your left.”

“Quick spy network he has got. Probably already written me down in his Citizen Arrival Log.”

“What? Did you say something to me?”

“What is your story? That is a Vigilant of Stendarr uniform you are wearing.”

“Yes, I used to be a Vigilant of Stendarr till I slipped up. You take it from me, if you ever find yourself toe to toe with a Flame Atronach, make sure you put some distance between you and it before you kill it.”

“Otherwise you will get caught in its death explosion. I have killed hundreds of them. They didn’t give you much training by the sounds of it.”

“Well I still got my one good eye. That is all I need.”

“Okay, I will go see the Jarl now.”

“Still can’t hear you!”

I walked out to the balcony. The fake Jarl turned to face me.

“And who might you be?” he asked.

“Don’t play games. You know who I am already.”

“Yes, well, it is always exciting to meet a new member of our small community. Now, before I forget, since you’re here for good, you’ll need some quarters.”

“How about the nice one between Luki the healer and Brol the mage? You know, in the north-west chambers.”

“How did you know I was going to offer you that one?”

“I read it in your Citizen Arrival Log in the future.”

Metellus looked at me as if I was a raving lunatic. I handed him the letter from the Lakehouse and said, “Read this. It is easier than me trying to convince you.”

“This is my handwriting. ‘The victims of an unspeakable atrocity?’ ‘I will open a portal that will take you into the past?’ “You must go back?’”

“You asked Brol about creating a portal between two points in time. It is apparent he was successful.”

I did not mention my suspicion that Metellus’ life essence was used to power the Dweomer. I wanted Brol to decide to use of Necromancy on his own.

“But that’s odd. My letter makes no mention of what caused the disaster. I suppose I was in a hurry. Tell me, what is going to happen to us?”

“I believe that if you break the Dwarves’ Law, the Dwemer Centurions will wipe out every mortal via fire and weapon. You might find a place to bunker down for some time, but eventually you will have to come out, and they will be waiting with the patience of machines.”

“That explains what I saw when I first discovered this place in one ninety-four. It seems whatever happened then is going to happen again.”

“Tell me exactly what the Dwarves’ Law says.”

“The Dwarves who built this place left inscriptions. Brol hasn’t been able to translate them fully, but we understand some parts. This warning keeps coming up, ‘The many shall suffer for the sins of the one.’ We think that breaking the law here will cause some kind of event.”

“You have no idea what constitutes a crime under the Dwarves’ Law. You have pretended you do so you can control the people. You frighten them into obedience by pretending to have knowledge you do not possess. Lying and extortion do not break the Dwarves’ Law. If they did, you would have done so countless times. But they will make somebody desperate or upset enough to commit violence, and that will be entirely your fault!”

“Your right and I have used the Dwarves’ Law to frighten my people into obedience. We must find out who is about to break it and stop them!”

“Another tried investigating for you and never managed to stop it after decades of trying. That man finally killed himself after losing all hope! I have resources he didn’t and will stop this cycle. I will find the evil behind it and wipe it out!”

“You sound as crazy as those Vigilants of Stendarr.”

“I just gave Domitus a lesson in facts so let me educate you as well. This land is part of the Markarth Hold and therefore subject to the laws of Skyrim and The Empire. You are a citizen of The Empire and therefore must obey its laws, not those of the Dwemer. Every single septim has a motto written on it. What does it say?”

“The Empire is Law. The Law is Sacred.”

“You have broken Empire and Skyrim laws. You cannot bestow upon yourself the title of Jarl. You cannot claim ownership of unoccupied land that sits within the boundaries of a Hold. Only the Jarl of that Hold can decide ownership. Extortion is illegal. Slavery is illegal. I can charge you with the willful and deliberate breaking of those laws. I can place you under arrest.”

“You’ve got to be joking! What are you going to do? Start an uprising and get us all killed? I don’t think you have the stomach for it. Now get out of my Citadel. I’m bored with you.”

“I am a real noble and have the means to prove it. Both the law and the Gods give me my authority over you. My noble rank exceeds your fake title by a long way. You couldn’t stop me taking over if I wished to!”

“You can do nothing without using violence, and that would break the Dwarves’ Law!”

“How about I start by closing your doors and using chains and padlocks to keep you in here? That would not break the Dwarves’ Law and be consistent with those of Skyrim and The Empire. Or I could simply rally the people and stop sending food to The Citadel. I could cut off your water supply by turning a few valves. Who do you think your Imperial Legion engineer is going to obey? What could you do to stop me? You need violence to keep your position, but I do not to take it from you.”

“You wouldn’t dare!”

“I won’t because that is not why I am here. There is an evil under this city, and Lord Stendarr did speak to those two brave Vigilants of Stendarr. Brandas died less than an hour ago. Two devout men sent by their God to remove the evil and rescue the people trapped here. Two brave men who died trying to do what is right. What did you and that moron downstairs do? You mocked them! I was sent by The Divines to end the evil. Keep out of my way. I am not only bored but also disgusted with you!”

I left the balcony and walked into the Jarl’s private quarters. The ‘Citizen Arrival Log’ was in the same place I found it in 4E 205. Every entry was identical until the last.

Instead of,

  • Date: 1 Last Seed, 4E 198
  • Name: Altrius
  • Quarters: City, north-west chambers
  • Assigned role:
  • Notes: Trespassed in my Lakehouse?!?

It was now,

  • Date: 1 Last Seed, 4E 198
  • Name: Wulf
  • Quarters: City, north-west chambers
  • Assigned role:
  • Notes: Trespassed in my Lakehouse?!?

I decided to visit Brol. He may have known something to aid my search for the entity behind all of this.

I walked past the building where the well and shaft were. A young woman came running. She yelled, “Help! An armed man is coming into the city!”

“What is your name, and what did you see?” I asked her.

“I am Miranda. I sweep the streets and keep them tidy. I saw a man come down the shaft and he was armed!”

“Could be a bandit or a looter. Whatever, he could trigger the Dwarves’ Law if he steps through that door.”

“You have to stop him!”

“Don’t worry Miranda. I will not let him into the City.”

A dual knife wielder attacked me as soon as I entered the building.

I cut him down but could hear more voices near the well.

I saw an archer and somebody in glass armour. I ran up the ramp then hit them with Unrelenting Force. They died instantly.

I stood quietly and waited to see who would float down next. It was a pair of young female mages.

I unleashed Unrelenting Force.

One died instantly. The other I ran up to and finished with a sword stroke.

I turned back to the well as a Dark Brotherhood assassin came out of the water.  

I blocked his knife attack then killed him with the Thu’um.

The following note was on the assassin,

“Dear Zain,

Quintus thinks he can hide from us, but cranky old Festus Krex has a way with torture all other members could benefit from learning. Quintus really should not have mentioned the Dwemer ruins near Markarth to his dear old Grandmother!

Take some of our potential recruits with you and see how they perform.

This kill is not a paid contract, so you are free to slaughter any friends, acquaintances and family you find in his vicinity.

Let this lesson strike fear in the hearts of others who may think they can simply walk away from the Dark Brotherhood with immunity.

P.S. Have fun!

Astrid.”

Zain was as incompetent as the rest of Astrid’s mob in the Falkreath Sanctuary. I am sure Cicero would not have messed up the job. He would not have sent thugs in beforehand but slipped in solo, done the deed and left. He may be an assassin but what he accomplished with Titus Mede II is worthy of praise from those who know the skills required.

All of the dead accomplices had this note on them,

“Target is an Imperial male, middling years with black hair. Known as ‘Quintus’ but may use an alias.”

I decided to keep an eye out for Quintus. I doubted he would pose a danger and more than likely came to the City to retire peacefully.

I wondered how Legate Altrius dealt with Zain and his mob. He may have let them come in and do their dirty work once or twice as he developed a plan. Once he knew their numbers and the order in which they arrived, he could put himself in place and take care of them with a few arrows.

I exited the building, and Miranda was waiting with a worried look on her face. She asked, “Is it over? Is it safe?”

“Yes, they are all dead. My name is Wulf by the way.”

“Oh, thank the Gods! What a relief. We’re so lucky that you arrived in time to stop them! I’ll be sure to tell everybody that Wulf saved us all. If there is ever anything, my husband Habiq and I can do to help you, just ask.”

“Seeing everybody safe is all the reward I need. How did you two come to this place?”

“We wanted a new start after our son died and heard rumours of this place.”

“Do you regret coming here?”

“We never experienced racism in Cyrodiil or most of Skyrim but here is different. The Imperials look down on everybody. I am Breton, and Habiq is a Redguard.”

“And everybody in The Citadel, except for the servants, are Imperial.”

“Exactly. Did you see any of the Imperials working in the Citadel?”

“I saw what is going on. You are all slaves, and they use the fear of the Dwarves’ Law to keep it that way.”

“You understand our plight.”

“May I ask, what happened to your son?”

“Oh, no offence, but I’d rather not talk about it. There are too many painful memories. Besides, there are enough sad stories around this place as it is. But if you are interested, you can talk to Habiq. He finds it easier to discuss than me.”

“Keep positive Miranda. Things will change for the better around here very soon.”

“I hope so.”

Miranda headed for her home, and I proceed towards Brol’s.

An Imperial walked past that fitted the description of Quintus. Even without the description on the note, I would have suspected him. He had the grace of a predator.

I walked behind him and whispered, “Quintus.”

He turned around startled and reflexively reached for the knives that weren’t there.

“Relax, Marius is it. I am not working for Astrid. I just killed a bunch of assassins led by Zain who were sent by her.”

“You killed Zain and how many others?”

“Two mages three other incompetent mugs.”

“Impressive! Do you think anybody else knows I’m here?”

“Astrid and everybody else in the Falkreath Sanctuary. Sorry about your Grandmother!”

“Bastards, she would not have been the first they tortured to find where I was.”

“It will take a while for Astrid to come to the conclusion Zain failed. Hopefully she sends somebody to investigate the shaft, and they realise it is a one-way trip. However, Zain was a mage of some sort and would have realised. Perhaps he is the last one willing to follow Astrid’s thirst for revenge blindly.”

“Well, worry about that another day. Now what’s it going to take for you to keep this quiet, hmm?”

“I admire your choice in leaving the Dark Brotherhood. All I ask is you be vigilant because if they had come into the City, everybody here would have paid the price. Logically the Jarl would have people guarding that door from the inside and have it locked from the outside. But that would take leadership and intelligence, both qualities which he greatly lacks.”

“After that astute and accurate description of him, I bid you goodnight.”

“Good luck with your retirement Marius.”

I could see Brol’s house and thought I could get there without another delay. Then another local ran up and said, “Hello, I’m Deglund. Miranda has been telling everyone how you just killed some looters and saved us all. I just wanted to thank you.”

“Not a problem. You are one of the local merchants?”

“Yes, and people find it surprising because I am such an honest and trustworthy person, and sometimes you hear about merchants who are, you know, dishonest.”

“I have met merchants willing to kill hundreds if not thousands of others to protect their monopoly. They are doing hard time in an Imperial Penal Mine now.”

“Well, I’m not like them. My father used to say to me, ‘Deglund, you can’t be like the others. You be a good boy.’ And I was. My friend, I was not only just a good boy, I was the best boy. The best boy now and the best merchant. With the best prices for you.”

I know a con artist when I see one, and he was buttering me up for a deal I can’t refuse. I thought I would play the game and trip him up.

“Best prices! That is very generous of you.”

“Are you, ahh, looking for a way out of here?”

“Of course! Do you, ahh, know a way out of here?”

“You’re in luck! I do! But, ahh, let’s keep it down, eh? Don’t want anyone else to hear, do we?”

I tapped the side of my nose and said, “I understand.”

“But, ahh, I’ll be honest with you, my friend. There is a bit of a catch. See, it is only going to work for one person, yeah? I’ve been keeping it to myself, you know, thinking… maybe I’ll need it myself one day. But, ahh, I’m a reasonable guy, yeah? I reckon I could be… what’s the word? Persuaded? Persuaded to give it away for, say, a thousand gold coins?”

“It must be good for that amount of gold. Only one problem, I don’t carry around 65 pounds in weight of septims with me. It would slow me down a bit, don’t you think?”

“Oh, um… “

I got out my gem bag and found two diamonds worth considerably more than a 1000 septims. I put the bag away and held them out so he could have a good look at them.

“Would these do? I think they are worth about 500 septims each.”

As a matter of fact, they were worth close to a thousand each even to the stingiest Khajiit trader.

“Well, I like you, so I am honest with you. Business here is hard, you know? Really hard! I’m doing it tough, yeah? If I don’t have the coin to pay the Jarl, then I lose my shop. I’m out in the cold, I have no money and no food, yeah? What I am saying is I need the money, my friend. That’s all I need.”

“Sure, take the diamonds and give me whatever it is that will get me out of here.”

“Oh, good choice, my friend! You won’t regret it! Oh, and, if you do there are no refunds. Not that it’ll matter, because you’ll be out of here in no time!”

Deglund handed me a small vial then declared, “And here it is! It’s called an Elixir of Acrobatics! I got it from an alchemist in Morrowind years ago, and I’ve kept it with me, just in case. And now it’s all yours! Once you drink it, you’ll be able to jump like a Skeever on Skooma! You should be able to leap up the shaft at the entrance.”

“Wow! Thank you!”

“Now go, my friend! Get out of here and be free!”

Deglund started to walk off, admiring the diamonds as he went.

I quickly removed the vial’s cork and put a drop of its contents on my tongue. It was potato alcohol with a few common herbs mixed in. I poured the contents out, found the few reagents I needed in my alchemy bag, shoved them in the bottle then heated it with Magicka. The stench produced would make a maggot vomit. I stoppered the vial and ran to catch up with Deglund.

He was whistling away still admiring the diamonds when I startled him with a tap on the shoulder.

He turned, saw who it was, quickly composed himself, then asked, “Is there a problem, my friend?”

I opened the vial and stuck it under his nose. He immediately started gagging then emptied his stomach contents all over the road, and himself, in a spectacular multi-coloured, “Raaaaalphhh!”

“I just made that concoction in seconds. Imagine if I spent a few hours perfecting it and poured it over you or your shop. Or I could make one that would attract every randy male Skeever for miles. I could amuse myself endlessly with simple concoctions that don’t violate the Dwarves’ Law. So, what will it be?”

I held my hand out, and he returned the diamonds without argument.

“Good doing business with you Deglund. I would change your clothes if I were you. Anybody who catches a whiff will empty their guts as well.”

I continued making my way to Brol’s while other citizens chose a wide berth around the still kneeling shopkeeper.

I tapped on Brol’s door. He opened it, saw who it was and let me come in. He enthusiastically said, “Hello, my new neighbour! I understand we have you to thank for dispensing with some would-be looters. Thank you!”

“Wow, news travels fast around here!”

“Just got back from having a meal at the inn. Anything unusual that happens spreads around that establishment like a wildfire. It is not like they have a bard or anything else to keep us amused.”

“Well Master Brol, I must say I admired your writings on the various aspects of Dwemer machines. Your counter-argument to Calcelmo’s conclusion about the purpose of one Centurion accessory was highly amusing and well documented.”

“You mean what he claimed was a drill?”

“Yes, and you conclusively proved it was a mechanical penis and that Dwemer of both genders enjoyed such accessories. That must have taken, um, painstaking research!”

“Ahh, a comedian as well as a scholar I see. That sort of sordid details gets tucked away in only the most exclusive libraries.”

“Urag gro-Shub has obtained just about everything you ever wrote along with Calcelmo’s and Madras’ works. A virtual goldmine of information for the Dwemer archaeologist.”

‘You were a student at the College?”

“Only for a short time. Just enough to get my Master level in all five School of Magicka. I am a Master of Necromancy as well but have not heard a word from the College of Whispers.”

“Very amusing, you should be a bard.”

“I am, but that is another story. I wasn’t joking about the Master levels either. Where do you hail from Master Brol?”

“I’m originally from Kragenmoor, in Morrowind.”

“So, you were the first to arrive here after Metellus. On the 1st of Morning’s Star in 4E 195. You voluntarily came down that shaft just to study this City?”

“Yes, with my assistant Gaia. You are well informed.”

“And now you also dabble in time travel.”

“Time travel? You know, as it happens, I do. It was a great obsession of mine for years after my wife passed. I thought if I could go back, I could, well, you know.”

“Bring her back? That could work but may cause other issues.”

“I find it strange that the Jarl asked about such research and now you take an interest too!”

“I am from the future and wish to return there. I have thought of two options and wish to have a second opinion on them.”

“Uh, I, err, I don’t quite know what to say to that. Hmm… How can I put this charitably? Perhaps you’re tired and emotional and need some rest.”

“It does not matter if you believe me or not. I could prove it to you but then risk you having foreknowledge you should not have. For instance, showing you Empire septims from the future that did not have the profile of Titus Mede II on them would give you dangerous foreknowledge. You are a logical person and know what issues that may cause. Take my word that I do have such coins on me and accept my knowledge of time travel is extensive. I am merely trying to ensure I am correct with my conclusions before acting upon them.”

“Then you will understand if I remain sceptical. But I always enjoy discussing my theories with a receptive mind, so I’ll humour you. What did you want to ask?”

“Let us discuss some hypothetical scenarios. Let’s me start with Scenario A:

  1. You and Metellus find your way into this City.
  2. You both realise the precarious position you are in due to the Dwarves’ Law.
  3. You succeed in creating a time-portal that brings a person back to a specific date, say today for clarities sake.
  4. A period of time after the creation of that portal, the Dwarves’ Law punishment is triggered.
  5. Anybody, it does not matter who it is, could enter the portal and return to the set time.
  6. That person could then try and prevent whatever crime had occurred.
  7. If they did so, then the event that made them decide to go back in time would not happen, and they would be the only one to know the other timeline.

Is this the scenario that Metellus envisages?”

“That’s it precisely.  Do you think it would work?”

“Yes, but the person who uses the portal would age while the others would not. If the timeline they return to is ten years in the past, they will be ten years older than their first visit. They may have to wait many years for the chance to prevent the crime. Just the fact they are older in the new attempt may adversely affect their ability to stop it or may even trigger a completely different set of events that leads to a different crime.”

“Such a time-portal must be anchored to a particular date and a variable time in the past. Do you agree?”

“Believe me or not, I have travelled into the past on several occasions. It has always been to a precise date and place. Akatosh, or Auri-El if you prefer, may have the ability to fiddle with linear time and that allows him to tweak things any time in the past. But it would mean chaos and disaster if mortals or other Gods could do the same. Logically there must be some metaphysical laws that would prevent such a thing for Mundus to remain viable.”

“I agree. Otherwise, the God of Time could not maintain control of it.”

“So, we agree Scenario A is plausible with a set date of return mandatory.”

“Yes. That is what we hope to achieve and seems the best and most plausible solution.”

“Do you have the ability to tap into the energy used by the Dwemer to run the artificial sun and other parts of this City?”

“No, and I think it would take many decades of research to be able to do so.”

“The portal would need another source of energy to sustain it am I correct?”

“Yes, another assistant of mine had the idea of using Necromancy to power it.”

“Narnabus, he went into The Palace and as never seen again.”

“That is the one.”

“What was his theory?”

“Somebody would have to sacrifice themselves by allowing their life essence to power the portal.”

“That would work, but the trouble is you would need a volunteer. You could not force somebody as that is murder and would be a crime under the Dwarves’ Law. People can be very altruistic, but only when they can envisage a positive outcome to any sacrifice they make. You may never find a volunteer.”

“You would need a person who is willing to accept the long odds of somebody succeeding in preventing the crime. I doubt, as you implied that we would ever find such a volunteer.”

“Forget altruism as the motive. Forget setting up the portal beforehand. Selfishness and self-preservation would be the motives for such a sacrifice.”

“And a person would only do so after the crime occurs! I see where this is leading. They are going to perish anyway so they might as well be the sacrifice and hope another person prevents the crime. If that other person does stop the crime, the person who sacrificed themselves will continue living beyond when the crime happened and be ignorant of the fact it ever did!”

“Unless the person who sacrifices themselves is proficient in Necromancy the spell to create the time-portal would need a simple trigger. There would be a need for prior preparation of the sacrifice’s soul, and something like a scroll or similar used as the trigger.”

“Why do I get the feeling you are giving me instructions on how I can accomplish this?”

“The creation of such a portal without my help is a known fact. As I said, I am just making sure certain conclusions I make are correct before acting upon them.”

“Why are you certain I will accomplish this task without your help?”

“Because another person used the portal several times in fruitless attempts to prevent crimes according to the Dwarves’ Law. It is impossible to prevent these crimes. Such crimes have occurred hundreds of times since the demise of the Dwemer. That person committed suicide after decades of trying.”

“You can tell me how you know those things later. It will detract from the current logic I am desperately trying to hold onto for sanities sake!”

I had to laugh.

“Welcome to the world of gobblygook Master Brol. Metaphysical gobblygook, my favourite kind.”

“Apt word! Can we continue now?”

“Do you want everybody to have their soul ready for the sacrifice? I think not as then you would have multiple portals popping up all over the place. Suicide from despair is not unknown, even within this small community. Somebody like Liandris or your missing assistant Narnabus may have faced an unpleasant death. They might have decided to trigger the time-portal instead of accepting a more violent or painful death if they had the option.”

“Multiple time-portals are likely to work against each other. They would be counter-productive.”

“Let’s assume you restrict the knowledge of the time-portal and the ability to trigger its creation to a limited number of people. That would be the safest solution, don’t you think?”

“Yes, and logically those involved in its creation, the Jarl and I, should be the ones with that knowledge and ability.”

“Remember that you eventually come to these conclusions without my assistance. This next bit might seem like I am steering you to make a particular decision. It is not. It is just getting the logic right in my head. Okay?”

Brol nodded. I could see he was enjoying this discussion.

“I have seen the devastation caused by the punishment given under the Dwarven Laws. There is only one place unharmed by the Dwarven Centurions. Unharmed because nobody lives there and the only person to enter it triggers the time-portal and dies anyway. That place is the Lakehouse.”

“That is a long way from the Jarl’s quarters. Surely within his quarters would be more logical. That would prevent the need to make his way through the Centurions if they are what deliver the punishment.”

“It is irrelevant why he chose that place or how dangerous it is for him to get there. For that is what he did. Otherwise I would not be here speaking to you. And you assume it is the Jarl who triggers the portal.”

“It would not be me. I would rather die with some dignity than run past all my friends dying just to get to the Lakehouse. How many beg their ‘leader’ for help as he dashes past without a word?”

“Let me outline Scenario B:

  1. You and Metellus find your way into this City.
  2. You both realise the precarious position you are in due to the Dwarves’ Law.
  3. You succeed in creating a time-portal that brings a person back to a specific date, say today for clarities sake.
  4. A period of time after the creation of that time-portal the Dwarves’ Law punishment is triggered.
  5. Metellus runs to the Lakehouse and enters it.
  6. Metellus sacrifices himself to provide the life essence that powers the time-portal.
  7. Metellus hopes that anybody who enters the time-portal will somehow prevent the crime that triggered the punishment.

This scenario will fail for several reasons.

  1. Even if the person who enters the time-portal stops one crime, another will eventually happen and in a relatively short amount of time. That is the nature of mortals.
  2. The person who enters the time-portal might never figure out how to stop the original crime.
  3. The person who enters the time-portal escapes back to their own time instead.”

“How would they escape back to their own time?”

“By creating a paradox between step 5 and step 6.”

Brol thought about what I said then gasped, “You are right. If the time-traveller stops Metellus sacrificing himself, then there would never have been a time-portal to step through. He would never be here to try and stop the crime. We would all remain dead and the City a ruin. The time-traveller would remain in his timeline amongst the ruins.”

“There are four other actions that would prevent Metellus’ plan from working.

  1. The person refuses ever to enter the Lakehouse and therefore the time-portal. The reason being he was told of the consequences by a previous time-traveller.
  2. The time-traveller gives up after several failed trips back in time and refuses to enter the time-portal again.
  3. The time-traveller commits suicide after several failed trips back in time.
  4. The person figures out how to escape back to Skyrim. He would be free of the Dwarves’ Law and punishment. That can happen before, during, or after entering the time-portal.”

“Assuming you are the time-traveller, what are your intentions? Are you going to leave us to our fate by stopping Metellus from triggering the time-portal?”

“I might if I was a selfish bastard and not somebody sent here by the Gods to create a different paradox.”

“Okay, putting my scepticism aside again, explain to me what you plan.”

“The judgement of what constitutes a crime against the Dwarves’ Law is not left to a machine. A sentient being or group of beings must do it. For instance, I could slowly poison somebody, and they die of what seems like natural causes. How could a machine decide that was murder? I could weaken the mortar underneath the Jarl’s balcony bit by bit so one day it eventually collapses and he falls to his death. How could a machine decide that was murder? Logic tells you a sentient being is behind the Dwarves’ law and is acting as judge, jury and executioner. I know that for a fact because I was sent here by Lord Stendarr to stop it.”

“The two Vigilants of Stendarr claimed the same thing.”

“And now they are both dead after trying to reach the being behind the Dwarves’ Law!”

“They simply went where they shouldn’t. Dwemer ruins are dangerous. Their deaths prove nothing.”

“Do you doubt I was sent here by a God? Do you deny their existence?”

“There is abundant evidence for the existence of Gods. There is none to support your claim of being sent by one. There is logic but no evidence to support the theory that a living entity is behind the judgements passed on the Dwarves Law.”

“Then continue to regard the latter as possible. It makes no difference when validating my scenario so, here is Scenario C:

  1. You and Metellus find your way into this City.
  2. You both realise the precarious position you are in due to the Dwarves’ Law.
  3. You succeed in creating a time-portal that brings a person back to a specific date, say today for clarities sake.
  4. A period of time after the creation of that time-portal the Dwarves’ Law punishment is triggered.
  5. Metellus runs to the Lakehouse and enters it.
  6. Metellus sacrifices himself to provide the life essence that powers the time-portal.
  7. A young Legion Legate enters the city out of curiosity and stumbles upon the time-portal and becomes the time-traveller.
  8. He gets tired of entering the time-portal many times. Each time he does another crime happens.
  9. He leaves a suicide note warning any others who stumble upon the ruined City not to get caught in the same endless cycle of time travel. He believes the City will be destroyed over and over no matter how hard you try. He thinks it is inevitable.
  10.  I am sent by my Gods to solve the problem of a time anomaly they have detected plus the ‘evil’ they know exists underneath the City. Therefore, I ignore his warning.
  11.  I want to save the City permanently, not temporarily.
  12.  I want to allow the City’s residents to live as ordinary mortals with free will who accept the consequences of their actions. Punishment of people for the crimes of others should not happen.
  13.  To accomplish my task, I need to end the Dwarves’ Laws either via negotiation or violence.

Do you understand what will happen if I accomplish this?”

“From the point you end the Dwarves’ Law, we will be a normal society living by the normal rules. The retribution against those in The Cathedral could be severe and violent.”

“It is essential I get returned to my timeline. Ending the Dwarves’ Law will not do that. My Lord Akatosh will take care of it.”

“What makes you think he would do that?”

I used the Thu’um and said,

“I AM THE DRAGONBORN AND CHAMPION OF THE DIVINES!”

Brol stood with his mouth open for a few seconds then said, “Good trick. Do a Shout and prove it!”

I did Dragon Aspect, and his eyes widened.

I did Call of Valour, and he shrank back from the giant ghostly form of Hakon One-Eye

I did Become Ethereal, and Brol found himself alone in the room with the ancient Tongue.

I stood behind him and whispered, “Boo!”

He jumped with fright then turned to find me smiling at him. I asked, “Satisfied I am who I say I am?”

“Yes, but there is a flaw in your plan.”

Hakon One-Eye realised there were no enemies, bowed low then vanished.

I said to Brol, “If you were wondering, that was Hakon One-Eye. I can call heroes from Sovngarde to aid me.”

“Oh.”

“My timeline will be altered. That is what you think is the flaw?”

“Yes. Currently we have no contact with the people and events above. Say we had three or so years of interacting with the world above before you pop back into your timeline. How could it remain the same?”

“Perhaps all efforts to communicate with the rest of Nirn will fail miserably. Similarly, any attempts to create a working Dwemer lift or other means of escaping to the surface will fail. That will be the case until I am back in my timeline. This explanation is probably correct because no contact was made with the surface before I came down the shaft and that is the reality I am returning to.”

“I must admit that even with my keen interest in time travel, this seems suspect. How can you be so sure?”

“I have the soul of a Dovah. No species other than Dov have a sense that detects sequential time. With that comes some rudimentary understanding and affinity for time.”

“What would somebody near the shaft see and experience?”

“They would know I came down an empty shaft and wonder how a Dwemer lift brought me back up if that is what you build. But I may be dumped somewhere on the surface by Akatosh. Then the creation of two-way travel to the City might depend on me. Discussing this has achieved my goal. I am pretty certain how this will work.”

“I am probably going to regret this but go ahead and tell me.”

“I know approximately how long between me getting rid of the Dwarves’ Law and my timeline is going to be but let us use an imaginary figure of three years.”

“Okay, three years it is.”

“I do my bit, and the City and its citizens continue for three years without the Dwarves’ Law before I am back in my timeline. Agreed?”

“Yes, that bit is easy to understand.”

“But those three years do not exist till I am back in my timeline. For them to fit into my timeline, that is the way it has to be. Those three years must slot in like the piece of a jigsaw puzzle.”

“Once again, I understand what you are trying to say but the, what did you call it, metaphysical gobblygook is difficult to envisage.”

“That is because we are mortal and do not have the knowledge of the Gods. I have been assured by several of them that with death comes understanding. But then again a dead Minotaur said he was still confused.”

“A dead Minotaur?”

“Long story and once again encroaching on dangerous foreknowledge. Shall we talk about something easier to understand and your real area of expertise? Namely Dwemer ruins and more specifically these.”

“I have the feeling you are very knowledgeable about those as well but ask away.”

“Brandas died not long ago, and I speculate it was concentrated energy from Aetherium that caused what looked like burns.”

“I have never studied Aetherium. Is it that dangerous?”

“Not in the normal amounts you would encounter in Blackreach or every Dwemer ruin I have been in, which is dozens.”

“But you think there may be a large deposit underground?”

“Most Dwemer ruins have a small amount of Aetherium that fuels boilers to heat water and create steam which is piped around and used to turn cogs. Hence you get that constant hissing and clunking as the steam travels around causing valves to open and close and cogs to turn.”

“There is a lack of that in this City.”

“Exactly, and the artificial Suns I have seen in other ruins are different. They do not rely on a beam of energy to be directed at them.”

“I have only seen the one in Blackreach so did not know if the one here was the odd one out or that one.”

“From my experience, definitely the one here!”

“You think there is a deadly concentration of Aetherium energy. So, for you to go looking for the entity you believe is underground, you need protection against it?”

“If I had known it would be required, I would have brought a unique set of Aetherium armour I found in a pocket plane of Oblivion not long ago.”

“I believe a set of what we call ‘Immaculate Dwarven Armour’ should suffice.”

“Brandas had a strange pair of Dwarven boots. I could not detect any Dweomer on them so doubt such protection would be via Magicka. I think their shiny surface and extra thickness provides the protection.”

“You may be right. But we can only speculate about protective qualities.”

“There is only one way to find out. Don a set and try. I have the boots, where can I find the rest?”

“I suggest you find and speak to my assistant Gaia. She has been pursuing them, and I think she knows where other parts are.”

“I will do that. Thank you for your assistance Brol. I hope you enjoyed our discussion even if a lot seems to defy logic and seems farfetched.”

“You just casually mentioned going to Oblivion like it was a walk in the park. I can tell you are not just an ordinary person and am willing to believe you were sent here by a God or Gods. I will pray to Lady Azura for your success. It is not something I do as often since being here.”

“Funny about that. I happen to be Azura’s Champion as well. Or will be.”

I left Brol and was confident I had figured it all out.

I suddenly stopped in my tracks as a realisation hit me.

In the year 4E 198, Rigmor is in some stinking Thalmor prison wondering if anybody hears her. If anybody cares.

I started to question my logic and assumptions. What if I have got this wrong?

I need to get back to 4E 205.

Should I just kill Metellus to make sure that happens?

One thought on “Fredas, 4th Last Seed, 4E 205 to Sundas, 6th Last Seed, 4E 205 Part Two

  1. Good Job Mark, When I first played this Mod, I was so confused, but like most things, when morning came it dawned on me! Have a Great Day, Stay Safe Thank You

    Liked by 1 person

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