Forgotten City: Back to the future.
Thinking Brol’s assistant Gaia might be there, I headed towards the tavern.
I was halfway when a well-dressed Breton woman came towards me. I asked her, “Are you Gaia, Brol’s assistant?”
“I certainly am, and you must be Wulf, the mighty bandit slayer.”
“Did you volunteer to come with Brol to this place?”
“Yes, and some days I can’t believe my luck! Working with Brol, researching the richest source of Dwemer history and technology I could have imagined! I feel like we are on the brink of some amazing discoveries about the Dwemer. Who knows, maybe we’ll find not all of them have disappeared!”
“I believe there is at least one living under the City and is the judge on what is a crime according to the Dwarves’ Law.”
“That would make sense!”
“I want to investigate but probably need a suit of what Brol called ‘Immaculate Dwarven Armour’. I have boots, would you know where there may be other parts?”
“Yes, I do. Rykas is a big Nord who lives here. He wears a full set of Immaculate Dwarven Armour. I wanted to research it as I believe it to be crucial in unlocking the secrets of this place. The trouble is that brute Rykas claimed it as his own. He has been wearing it ever since.”
“And nobody knows if that makes it legally his under the Dwarves’ Law. Taking it from him might be regarded as stealing.”
“I have tried everything: appeals to his better nature, flattery, charm and even threats. It’s like negotiating with a brick wall. Of course, violence is out of the question if that is what you are thinking!”
“I will talk to him, but if he is that stubborn, I will find another set. I already have a pair of boots, so logically other pieces are around.”
“If you do manage to get a set, I hope you will allow me to examine it for a while.”
“I promise that if I can do so, I will.”
“That would be marvellous!”
“Did you work alongside Narnabus, Brol’s other assistant?”
“Only a little as I found him to be strange. I suppose many who are deep into Necromancy are. He was fairly knowledgeable about the Dwemer. However, he seemed more interested in what he could use Dwemer technology for more than its history. He went into The Palace and locked the only entrance we know of behind him. That was years ago, and we all assume he died in there.”
“I am pretty good at getting past locks and other barriers. I think I will go have a look in there before I tackle anything underground.”
“A wise move. I wish you luck.”
I headed for The Palace full of curiosity and soon reached the entrance.
It wasn’t locked, which surprised me.
I entered into a long hall with a set of gates at the end.
They were locked and some sturdy wooden beams placed across them. Nothing short of a battering ram would force them open.
Just beyond the door was a charred body and a pair of Immaculate Dwarven Gloves. I assumed the current citizens of the City were killed later than the deceased. Over millennia, punishment for breaking the Dwarves’ Law occurred hundreds of times. I expected that in the rarely visited buildings, I would find corpses of more than one sentencing.
There was a Dwemer steam or water pipe that traversed the length of the hall.
It went over the top of the locked gates, so all I had to do was find a way onto that pipe.
Close to the gate were piles of stone sarcophagi. I could have spent time end energy rearranging them into steps of sort but decided to look further along the hall first.
There were another two stacks of sarcophagi that, with a bit of leaping and climbing, allowed me to find my way onto the pipe.
I crawled along it till I was beyond the gate but did not jump down immediately. I crawled along a bit further to where the pipe entered a wall. One of the Dwemer busts was then at eye level, so I took the opportunity to study it.
It made no noise. I could detect no Dweomer upon it. What I could sense was Aetherium when I touched the eyes. Why they aren’t the usual blue colour of that substance, I still do not know.
I said to it, “Odd place for one of your spies! Did many people try and break into The Palace along this pipe and that is why you placed it here? You could have just made the gates higher and the pipe closer to the ceiling or did you want to catch people breaking some arbitrary law of yours? Do you feel righteous and just when murdering innocents for the minor crimes of others? I would like you to explain to me how a child is guilty for not stopping an adult from committing a crime out of their sight and hearing.
Of course, I received no reply and didn’t expect one. In Blackreach underneath Evermore, we encountered one that did speak, and it was disturbing.
“For my Gods, the Aedra, to describe you as evil, you must be so! For they do not use that term even when referring to the Daedric Princes. It is an apt description for your entire race. You practised that most evil of things, slavery. You thought mutilating the Falmer when they sought refuge was acceptable. You abandoned the Gods who gave you your life and a home. You thought yourselves equal to them and maybe even superior.”
I used the Thu’um,
“ARE YOU UPSET I JUDGE YOU BY THE ACTIONS OF YOUR RACE? THE SAME AS YOU JUDGE ALL WHO ARRIVE IN THIS CITY BY THE ACTIONS OF A FEW?”
As my voice still echoed down many unseen passages, I leapt down and gathered up the Immaculate Dwarven Gloves.
Their previous owner was a victim of flames from a Centurion, not Aetherium energy.
A gate behind him was more evidence of that. It was apparent a Dwemer Centurion knocked it over to get to the victim. The dust and cobwebs suggested few had visited The Palace over the years.
I entered a long room with a central pool. From the dark water about a dozen skeletal undead attacked.
I reduced them to pools of oily ectoplasm.
Apart from the black skeletons with beady red eyes, another form of undead populated the dusty halls.
They had been roasted alive when wearing Dwarven armour, and it was impossible to tell their race.
Since the undead were attacking in clusters, I decided to use Chain Lightning to save time.
Frostbite spiders also made an appearance. Lightning has always been the best way to eliminate them.
In one room, I found the paraphernalia of a Necromancer. Among it was a short journal that I assumed belonged to Narnabus,
“Morndas, 3th of Hearthfire:
Curse it! The logbook containing all my experiments from the last three years has gone up in smoke, after one of my “subjects”, flailing about clumsily as they do, knocked it into the fire.
All those years of meticulous, painstaking work – for nothing! There is no way I’m going through that again.
I’ll need to try something more creative if I’m to get the dead to tell me the secrets of this place: Why did these people always die in waves, several years apart? Why were they always burnt to death? What was killing them?
I’m going to try to amplify my resurrection spell by tapping the strange Dwarven energy source directly upstairs.
Perhaps that will loosen their tongues.”
How stupid can you be? Oh, that’s right, as stupid as a Necromancer!
I traversed more corridors and ramps and killed more spiders and undead.
I entered something a bit different. It was an extensive arboretum with many plants and flowers thriving in the fake sunlight
Within was Narnabus’ corpse. I searched him and found another journal,
“These are the last words of I, Narnabus the Great, the most powerful Necromancer who ever lived.
By tapping into the strange energy in this place, I have achieved what no other necromancer in history has ever dreamed: a mass resurrection! Two dozen corpses, maybe more, brought to life by a single spell! Consider for a moment the raw, terrifying power in that!
Such is my power that my greatest achievement, transcending even my own wildest expectations, has forced me into this corner. You may ask: What kind of a summoner cannot even summon the courage to leap from the balcony into the lake below? Afraid of heights I might be, but you will never find a man calmer in the face of death than I, for it is only in death that I may perform my greatest ever feat: self-resurrection!
I can hear my dark beauties coming for me, clamouring on the final locked gate, determined that I join them on the other side. It is time I joined them.
Narnabus the Great.”
The body vanished, and the idiot Necromancer became a very weak lich.
I started to laugh, then he said in a not so scary baritone, “You dare mock me, Narnabus the Great!”
“You are probably the most pathetic lich I have ever encountered.”
“How dare you mortal!” he thundered as he threw his best destruction spells at me.
“Stop that, it tickles!” I said between bouts of even more laughter.
He kept casting ineffective fire, lightning and ice spells at me. This barrage soon drained his Magicka.
“Lord Umbriel commanded an undead army that numbered one hundred thousand or more, and you think what you did here was impressive? And he could control them so easily they would change direction like a flock of birds in flight at his command. You can’t even stop one from knocking your journal into the flames!”
Narnabus tried hitting me with his clawed hands but only succeeded at swiping thin air as I ducked and weaved and occasionally blocked with my shield.
“I have fought Mannimarco, the King of Worms, both of him, and you are so vain you compare yourself to him? Enjoy The Void, Narnabus the Not So Great. You now have an eternity to contemplate how pathetic you were.”
I stepped back and cast a powerful bolt of lightning. Narnabus became a pool of oily ectoplasm indistinguishable from the other puddles I left throughout The Palace.
I found the energy source Narnabus mentioned in his journal several levels below the arboretum.
It was a smaller version of the beam that powered the artificial Sun. I put my hand near it without ill effect and had no doubt it was a concentrated form of Aetherium energy.
The small dome it came from could not hold enough Aetherium to produce the beam. I think what I was looking at was like a lens. It was refocusing a beam from further down and directing it to a conduit for further distribution.
After an extensive search, I came to the conclusion The Palace had no exits to the underground complex of tunnels others had died exploring.
One room I came across on the top floor looked to be an amphitheatre. It certainly wasn’t a temple as the godless Dwemer worshipped nothing but knowledge. Several charred bodies lay next to seats. It was apparent they were killed while attending a lecture or sermon.
On the dais was a sermon titled, ‘The Myth of the Dwarves’ Law’. I shook my head in disbelief as I read it,
“The Myth of the Dwarves Law
By Durotas II
As per our custom, I will begin by paying my respects to the city’s founders, the Dwemer. For their architecture and ingenuity – ubiquitous fonts of light and water – they deserve our admiration.
But here I must depart from our custom: for their attempts at lawmaking – oppressive and overreaching – they deserve our contempt.
Who among us has not awoken at night in a cold sweat, fearing some sort of accidental transgression of the Dwarves’ law? All of us must accept, after even a moment’s reflection on human nature, that we are all capable of error – whether from a momentary lapse in judgment brought on by ill-temper, or a conscious decision based on faulty reason.
But I am here today to tell you – friends and neighbours – that you need not be afraid, for the Dwarves’ Law is a great deception, and I will prove it to you.
Let me begin by dismissing each of the counter-arguments you may raise.
First, you may argue that the Dwarven inscriptions around the city are evidence of the law. But that is logically unsound, for we cannot be completely confident that our translations are accurate, with all due respect to our scholars. We believe they say “Many will suffer for one’s mistakes”. But what shades of meaning are lost in translation? In any case, even if our translation is accurate, that this message was inscribed does not make it true.
Second, you may argue that the Dwarves would not have committed their warnings to stone if they were not true. To that, I say the Dwarves’ warning may well have been true, thousands of years ago when they built this city. Presumably there were those responsible for enforcing the law, who were vigilant and draconian in their pursuit of order. But the Dwarves have long since disappeared. Surely, for the laws to be enforced, there would need to be someone watching over us. I know many of you have felt as if you were being watched – as if these golden busts were somehow capable of seeing you. But ask yourself: Even if these Dwarven automatons were watching you, how could they play the role of judge? Surely, no mere machine possesses the reason or the judgment necessary to enforce the laws of man. In short, without the instruments of justice, there can be no law.
Third, you may argue that the tragedy that struck this city several years ago is evidence that the Dwarves’ law is real. You need not remind me of that; it was I who discovered their charred remains. It was I who collected them, placed them in a handcart, wheeled them into this Palace and laid them to rest in the tombs below. I will not soon forget them. And yet, I refuse to leap to the conclusion that their deaths were brought on by breaking the Dwarves’ Law. There is simply no evidence to support that conclusion. Who is to say there was not simply an attack by some demented mage skilled in the art of Destruction magic?
But ultimately, these arguments are just that: arguments. After years of living in fear, there is only one way for me to prove to you that the Dwarves’ law is a falsehood: action.
Friends, I apologise in advance for this, but one day you will see this moment as a turning point in our peoples’ history.
Let us see once and for all if the Dwarves’ Law is real, as I strike one of you with my fist.”
I said to the charred remains of Durotas II, “Your logic was good, but your testing methodology wasn’t. Your writing also suffers from too much passive voice. Commas to separate coordinating junctions and after introductory phrases are also needed!”
I asked the bust, “Why is striking somebody, not from anger or desire to hurt, but as part of an experiment, a crime? He had to step down from here and walk up to a person and hit them. Would not that person be considered a volunteer for the experiment? No reasonable law broken if they allowed Durotas to strike them!”
I exited The Palace and found myself on a balcony overlooking the City. The artificial dawn was only minutes away, and the scene was quite tranquil.
I made my way to the street level and headed for the mines where Master Liandris had died, and Master Madras was fatally wounded. They believed they led to the ‘Evil’ entity behind the Dwarves’ Law.
Some boards barring the entrance had been removed and tossed to the ground. A notice lay nearby,
This area is not safe. Enter at your own risk.
I put my hand on the mine entrance and could not feel the vibrations that active Dwemer ruins invariably have.
I entered and could see an overturned cart.
Gold was the mineral mined within these tunnels.
Not far from the overturned cart was a body. I did not know if it was Master Liandris. In this emancipated condition, it is impossible to tell when death occurred.
In front of the corpse was an Immaculate Dwarven Helm. I now had three pieces.
The tunnel turned right and went down. At the bottom of the slope was a smelter. I walked towards it, and just as I reached it, the energy became too intense. It was doing me bodily harm. I turned and quickly scampered back to the surface where I healed myself.
It was still early morning, and very few people walked the streets. I stopped off at Brandas’ house and put the helm and gloves with the boots. I would typically have spent time burying Brandas, but the urgency to get back to 4E 205 was intense. Who knows what is happening to Rigmor right this very second in the year 4E 198? I shuddered at the thought as I locked the door and went looking for Rykas. I was going to ask him nicely about borrowing the chest plate.
I knocked on his door, but there was no answer. It was not locked, so I entered. The only thing of interest was an unfinished note written in angry red writing,
THIS IS YOUR FINAL WARNING…”
I put the note back down and left to warn Vernon that Rykas is a threat.
As soon as I stepped outside, Safira came running up to me. I asked her, “Anything wrong Safira?”
“No, not at all. The opposite really as I have not felt this free since we arrived here.”
“How did you get here?”
“Do you know Markarth? The part called ‘The Warrens’?”
“Oh, yes. A convenient place for the poor and Skooma addicts to be hidden from public view. I admired how they look out for each other.”
“About eighteen months ago, I met a man there. Said he was there for business. Nobody has any business being in the warrens. But he had coin, and I saw a way out. Long story short, I followed him here. The more I think about it, the more I think I would have been better off in the warrens with the beggars and Skeevers.”
“I am not judging but need to know, was intimacy part of the equation?”
“I always told myself I would never be a prostitute, no matter how desperate. I thought this was a way out of avoiding that, even though I never loved him.”
“I suppose he was a kind and thoughtful man before you ended up in here?”
“I would not have left Markarth with him if I knew the monster he is. He was all sweet words and promised a new future. All was right till he realised our situation and how he can take advantage of it.”
“So what would happen if you refused his advances? He could not use physical force to rape you.”
“He does not need to use physical force. I’ve seen him make grown men cry. The Dwarven Law makes everybody too afraid to stand up for themselves or challenge people in power. He gets his way by threatening to punish anyone who doesn’t do what he wants.”
“And I have shown you how hollow those threats are.”
“I told everybody at the inn last night. At first, they were hesitant to listen to the wisdom of a stranger, and then the news came in how you killed all those looters. Those in The Citadel are going to find a change soon. No free food.”
I handed a key to Safira and told her, “That key is to the house allocated to me. It is now yours. It is next to Brol’s. Believe me when I say have the authority to gift it to you under the laws of both Skyrim and The Empire. I have enough money to live at the inn for a thousand years, but you need a place where you can lock the door and laugh at Domitus when he comes with his sweet words and lies and promises to be different. He will do so then the sweet words will turn to threats, but they are hollow.”
“Why are you doing this?”
“Because it is the right thing to do. Those in the Citadel have turned you all into slaves. That cannot be allowed to continue.”
“Are you planning on escaping from here?”
“No, I am planning on ending the Dwarves’ Law. You would then be free to kick Domitus between the legs as hard as you can.”
Safira laughed as she walked towards her new home.
A soon as she left another citizen approached and declared, “By the Eight! I hear you took on a band of marauders by yourself, you buffoon! Next time come and get me, and I’ll show them what for!”
“And you are?”
“Vitus, Engineer, Imperial Legion.”
“You stand before a General and do not salute, are not wearing your uniform, are not carrying your allocated weapon, insult The Nine with your blasphemy then call me a buffoon.”
Vitus gave a rather sloppy salute but ended it before permission.
“If I had done what you just suggested, and come and got you, what would have happened?”
Vitus showed no sign of comprehension, just a blank look.
“They would have come into the City then started stealing and killing. The Dwarves’ Law punishment would have occurred, and you would now be a burnt corpse. You are a fool.”
He stood there with his mouth open, and I continued walking.
Rykas was standing in front of Vernon’s store. I knew it was him by the full set of Immaculate Dwarven Armour he was wearing. When he saw me approaching the store, he quickly walked away.
Vernon cheerfully greeted me when I entered, “Wulf isn’t it? I heard you dealt with those looters swiftly! Great work!”
“Pleased to meet you. Has somebody been writing you threatening notes?”
“Yes. But how do you know that?”
“I saw one. If you tell me why the aggressor is doing it, I may be able to help.”
“I haven’t done anything wrong, if that’s what you’re thinking. It’s not as if I’m a vampire or a Necromancer or anything. Somebody just has a problem with my preference for male company.”
“Then they are not devout followers of The Nine. You may marry the same sex at any temple of Mara. The teachings of Dibella celebrate love, both physical and emotional, in all its forms. Even ignoring the fact this City is still part of The Empire, I can’t think of a single society on Nirn that says same-sex relationships are immoral or illegal.”
“I grew up in Windhelm where there is hostility towards it.”
“The home of prejudice. I am sure you could find people who object to red hair or left-handers or dark skin within the backwards people of that Hold. It is like they took the worst of the Nord bias, distilled it then poured it over Windhelm’s residents.”
“I saw male friends attacked and driven away by Nord’s simply for loving other men.”
“But not women who love other women. Somehow that is not an insult to the Nord image.”
“I hid who I was for over twenty years. I lived in the barracks with a dozen other guardsmen, watching what I said, where I looked. But that kind of fear eats away at you slowly, until living isn’t any better than the thing of which you were afraid. And that is when I came clean.”
“That did not go well, I assume?”
“I am now living underground on the opposite corner of Skyrim. So no, my openness didn’t go down so well among the Nord of Windhelm.”
Somebody slid a note under Vernon’s door. He looked sick at the thought of more hate.
“Do you mind if I read it? I asked Vernon.
“Okay. Maybe you might get a clue to who it is.”
I picked it up and read it to him,
YOUR SINS ARE TOO VILE TO IGNORE.
CHANGE YOUR WAYS BEFORE YOU BRING THE WRATH OF THE DWARVES ON ALL OF US. AND IF THE DWARVES DON’T MAKE YOU SUFFER, I WILL.
Vernon looked miserable. I told him, “I know who has been writing these letters. He is the threat, not you.”
“Who is it?”
“The big crazy Nord who walks around with his weapon drawn? Of all the people it could have been, he’s the most terrifying.”
“If you try and talk to him, it might just inflame things. Have you got a quill and some parchment I can use?”
Vernon went out back and soon returned with quill, ink and parchment.
I then wrote out an Imperial Legion arrest warrant, something I have done countless times since becoming Emperor.
NAME: RYKAS OF SKYRIM.
DESCRIPTION: NORD, BALDING WITH BROWN TATTOOS ON EYES AND CHEEKS.
CRIME: BUGGERY OF SHEEP AND CHICKENS BELONGING TO JARL IGMUND OF MARKARTH
NOTE: WELL KNOWN ANIMAL ABUSER WHO HAS HAD HIS WICKED WAYS WITH INNOCENT FARMYARD CREATURES ACROSS THE BREADTH OF SKYRIM. LAST SEEN HEADING SOUTH OF MARKARTH.
SIGNED: GENERAL WULF DECIO ON BEHALF OF EMPEROR TITUS MEDE II”
I signed it then showed Vernon. He took one look, laughed, then asked, “Will that work?”
“I could spend time trying to convince him, but it is better to appeal to his ignorant Nord pride.”
I put the warrant into my journal case and with that in my right hand, I headed outside.
I soon found Rykas patrolling the streets as the self-appointed guardian of the City.
He saw me approaching and waited. When I stopped in front of him, he said, “Heard you got to kill those looters. Wish I’d could’ve joined you. I haven’t been allowed to fight in years.”
I stared at him, opened my journal case and pretended to flick through some documents. I then pulled out the fake warrant and held it in front of his eyes.
Rykas’ silently mouthed the words as he slowly read the warrant. His face went ashen then he started to shake. I slowly put the document back into my journal case.
“Rykas of Skyrim, with authority given to me by Emperor Titus Mede II, I…”
“No, shh! Quiet! I am innocent!”
“Why should I believe a milk-drinking sheep molester?”
“Because I didn’t, I wouldn’t… everybody will laugh at me! PLEASE!”
“Your sins are too vile to ignore!”
It took a few second of silence before Rykas realised from where I got that declaration.
I said in my most intimidating voice, “I saw your last letter to Vernon. If I hear you say one bad word to him or send one more threatening letter, I will stick copies of this warrant notice all over the City. Do you understand?”
“Okay, you made your point. I will leave Vernon alone.”
“Smart man. Now about that armour you are wearing.”
“What about it?”
“I have gloves, boots and helm, and I would like to borrow the breastplate.”
“Let me be clear. The only way you’ll get this armour is if you peel it from my corpse. Not even that warrant will make me change my mind on this.”
“So even if I told you I could stop the Dwarves’ Law, you would not part with it even for an hour?”
“How can you do that?”
“You keep telling people you have a feeling the statues are watching us. You are right, they are. I need a full set of armour to go down below and kill the creature watching through those beady green eyes.”
“No, if you get killed, I would have no armour! You will probably be breaking the law and set off the punishment while I would have no armour. No. The answer is no!”
“If I do not find a breastplate soon, I will come and take it from you. I will not have to kill you to do so.”
I returned to Vernon. He eagerly asked, “Well, did you speak to him?”
“He will give you no more trouble.”
“I wish I could have seen his face. Thank you so much for helping me out like that.”
“Not a problem. I hate discrimination of any kind.”
I left Vernon’s store and headed toward Dooley’s tent. Since I was spending time fixing injustices, I could not ignore the man kicked out of home because he can’t work.
I walked up to a man standing in the water, watching fish swimming. He seemed to take great delight in such a simple thing. I asked, “Hello, I am Wulf. Are you Dooley?”
“Oh, uh, hello. Yes, my name is Dooley.”
“Sorry to hear about your brother.”
“I came here with my brother Harubal. He used to look after me, and he said he always would. But then he died. Now nobody looks after me.”
Dooley was a simpleton. They are looked after well in most societies. In others they are shunned or even killed. My experience is that they are wonderfully optimistic, no matter their circumstances.
“Why do you need looking after Dooley?”
“I am not very good at remembering things. Sometimes I forget, so I need help. That’s why I need some help finding Harubal’s treasure.”
“Tell me about it. Then I will see if I can help.”
“Well, my brother told me, before he died, that he had left me something very precious in a secret chest. He hid it away, just for me. I’ve asked others for help, but they don’t help me. The Jarl even wrote me this letter, but I’m not very good with words.”
“I can help. Pass it to me so I can read it for you.”
Dooley handed me the letter which I read to him,
I am writing to you concerning your frequent requests for assistance in finding your brother’s hidden chest containing a so-called “fortune”. While I am sympathetic to your plight, and the passing of your brother some years ago, I wish to impress upon you an important message: the “treasure” you seek does not exist. It is not my place to speculate about whether your brother might have misled you, or whether you simply misremembered his words to you. I do not propose to discuss this with you again. Further, as I have had quite a few complaints from your neighbours about you bothering them, I must ask that you stop this behaviour immediately.
I handed the letter back to the visibly upset Dooley. He said, “No, that can’t be right. My brother, he told me he left me a fortune. He wouldn’t lie to me! Why would he lie to me?”
“Dooley, I don’t think he lied to you.”
“You’ll help me, won’t you? Will you help me find it? Please?”
“Thank you. All I know is that it’s hidden somewhere in the city, and you will need this rusty key. My brother gave it to me to unlock it.”
“Did your brother give you a clue as to where it is hidden?”
“I don’t remember things so good. I am sure Harubal said he hid it under the ground, and that I’d have to hold my breath. That’s all I remember.”
“I think I know where to look. Give me the key and wait here while I go look for it.”
Dooley handed me the key and looked hopeful as I strapped my shield to my back then dived into the water.
First thing I saw was a Dwemer chest. I picked the lock and although it contained a few gems and bits of jewellery it was not a treasure horde.
There were several sunken Dwemer buildings. Only one seemed to have a functioning door.
I entered it and found a trapdoor.
I opened it then swam through it.
There were many ruined Dwemer buildings and large deposits of Aetherium.
I kept swimming along the underwater valley till I saw an opening on the cavern roof.
I broke the surface into a narrow tunnel.
I walked for a few minutes and eventually came across an Argonian wearing a mixture of Falmer and Dwemer armour. It held a Falmer sword in one hand.
When I got a bit closer, it said in a female voice, “Stop right there! What is this one doing here?”
“My name is Wulf. I’m looking for a locked chest.”
“Ahh! The locked chest! Yes, we have it, but have been unable to open it! Why don’t you come in, and join us for dinner?”
“What are you doing here?”
“We are explorers like you. We were exploring the bottom of a great mine when we found this cave. But just as we found it, the earth shook, and the mine collapsed behind us. This place is our home now. We are pleased to see someone… in the flesh.”
“What can you tell me about the chest?”
“We found it in the water down below, but we could not unlock it, so we dragged it up here. It is locked away in the lonely tower.”
“Who is we?”
“My siblings and I. Don’t worry as we will all share in your company.”
“What do you think this place used to be?”
“We are not sure. A lonely tower is sitting all by itself in a forgotten pocket of the earth. It is strange, is it not?”
“How long have you and your siblings been down here?”
“So curious, this one is. We have been here for years, surviving on fish and this wonderous mushroom… and whatever else we can scrounge up.”
“Lead the way.”
It was apparent I was on the Argonian’s menu. So I followed her ready to blow her apart with my Thu’um.
I could see the remains of a previous meal near her campfire. She turned and yelled to her siblings, “Look at this. Dinner has come to us!”
A full-strength Unrelenting Force threw her across the cavern and into a barrel. I walked over to her broken, bloodied body and retrieved a key.
Her siblings, another three Argonian, were wise enough to keep clear of me. I have no doubt their sister will now be the main course for dinner.
I unlocked the Lonely Tower and entered.
The only way in and out was the door I just came through.
There was a single locked chest which I opened with the rusty key Dooley had given me.
Inside was another key and a note to Dooley,
If you’re reading this (or having someone you trust read it to you), it means I’m dead. I’m sorry I won’t be able to look after you anymore. I want you to try really hard to remember something important: You cannot trust Jarl Metellus! After leaving you this note, I am going to confront him about what he has been doing in the locked room in The Citadel. If I do not return, it is most probably because he killed me.
With this note, you will find a key to the Jarl’s locked room. You’ll have to find someone with a good heart, and a good head – you were always a better judge of character than me – they’ll know what to do.
Your brother, Harubal.”
I was not surprised the Jarl had something to hide in the locked room.
I decided to visit some other people before investigating it.
I made my way through the underwater valley, the trapdoor and back to Dooley.
I walked towards his tent, he saw me and came running up excitedly. He stopped in front then asked, “Did you find it? Did you find the fortune?”
“No Dooley. There was a letter and another key. Would you like me to read the letter?”
I read the letter to Dooley. I think it was a bit complicated for him. He asked. “A key? Harubal left me a key? I’m confused. It was supposed to be something valuable, but it is just a key. What do we do with a key?”
“It is for unlocking the Jarl’s secret room. I will go have a look and see what is in there.”
“Oh, alright. Maybe there is treasure in there. A big pile of gold and gemstones! Maybe you could even share it with me.”
“I would not take any of your treasure Dooley. If I find any, it is all yours.”
I decided to visit ‘The Golden Sentinel Tavern’ and talk to some more citizens.
I noticed Miranda was sitting with her husband, Habiq, who I had not yet met. So I thought I would stop and have a chat.
“You must be Habiq, glad to meet you.”
“Greetings Wulf. Thank you for stopping those looters before they breached the gates.”
“What brought you to this place?”
“We used to live in Riften, but, uh, we had to leave. Found this place by accident, like most.”
“Why did you leave Riften?”
“Our son, Limar, was working at my stables outside the city. He was alone when he had a visit from some Imperial, a friend of Maven Black-Briar. The Imperial thought he would just take one of the horses because he needed to get to Maven’s estate quickly and did not feel like walking. I guess he didn’t think a twelve-year-old boy was going to stop him. But Limar wouldn’t stand for it, and as the thief rode off, my son managed to shoot an arrow into his shoulder. But I… I wasn’t there at the time. I came back from the market to find my son’s body trampled into the dirt. It was… I… I can’t begin to describe it. I was shattered and headed straight to High King Torygg’s court. I was stopped along a road to Solitude by some of Maven’s men. She soon arrived in a carriage and talked to me while her men held onto my arms. She informed me my stables had accidentally burnt down and my horses scattered. Maven said my wife was safe in the Bee and Barb, for now. She emphasised ‘for now’ so there was no missing the threat. She said that a buyer was offering a reasonable price for the now destroyed stables. She implied that a wise man who loves his family would accept and stated that you never know what bad luck might happen if we stayed.”
“What a fucking bitch that woman is!”
“Just about anybody who deals with her knows that. But they still keep dealing with her!”
“Did she hand you that ‘reasonable price’?”
“She handed over a small bag containing a fraction of what even one of the horses was worth and a piece of paper that I had to sign, so the deed passed to her. I was then allowed to return to Riften and get Miranda. We quickly left as that was the advice given. Warned it would not be a good idea for us to be caught anywhere near Solitude.”
“So you wandered around a bit and finally found this place?”
“Exactly. We were hoping this place would be better than Riften, but we were wrong.”
“I have lived in Cyrodiil for a while now. The vast majority of Imperials are not like the ones here. Cyrodiil is very tolerant of different races and ethnicities. As for Maven Black-Briar, she will slip up one day then the full force of the law will fall upon her.”
“We have all agreed to implement your idea. There will no longer be free food delivered to The Citadel. They will have to contribute like the rest of us!”
“Believe me, they are bullies and will not know how to respond.”
“Some are afraid that disobeying the Jarl might be breaking the Dwarves’ Law.”
“He has no legal right to the title of Jarl. He has no right to order anybody around. I assure you, that would not be a breach of the law.”
“I hope so because we are going to need everybody to co-operate if we are to force a change.”
“It will only take a show of courage from a couple of you, and then the others will grow backbones. I have seen it happen many times in the past.”
“You have been going around getting people’s life stories, but we know little about you.”
“Let’s just say I am what I look like, a General of the Imperial Legion, and that will be close enough.”
“You don’t look like an Imperial.”
“No, I am not a Nord either. I am half-dragon, half-mortal.”
Habiq laughed and said, “You jest. Surely?”
I did Dragon Aspect, Habiq fell backwards with fright.
A Whirlwind Sprint and I ended up near the lake. I waved, did Whirlwind Sprint again then stood in front of the wide-eyed Habiq. Miranda just laughed.
“If you will please excuse me, I need to see some other people. It was nice meeting you Habiq. Goodnight to both of you.”
I was suppressing the urgent need to escape back to 4E 205. The knowledge that while I was there, my beloved Rigmor was prisoner of the Thalmor, was challenging to accept. The ideal solution was not to breach the Dwarves Law at all. To do that I would have to find an Immaculate Dwemer Breastplate.
The name of the inn triggered an interesting question. What will The Sentinel squad who are waiting outside the entrance shaft experience?
The tavern had about ten clients sitting at various tables. It was not very noisy or bright.
I wandered between the tables seeing if anybody wished to speak to me. An elderly Priestess of Mara stood and said, “Your name is Wulf I believe and that you defended the City from attackers. Thank you, I am glad you came here when you did.”
“All part of wearing this uniform Priestess. May I ask your name?”
“Glad to meet you Jeshol. I am curious, what does a Priestess of Mara do here? I have seen no temple.”
“Oh my, it is very nice of you to take an interest in my life dear, but you don’t need to humour an old woman.”
“I am genuinely interested.”
“Really? Well, you’re the first person in this city to say that. Well, let’s see. These days I mostly just sweep the streets here, keep them clean. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, or so they say. It’s not very inspiring, as you can imagine, but the alternative is to wind up like poor Dooley.”
“The fake Jarl has no compassion; therefore is not a leader. What he did to Dooley is immoral and inept.”
“I have heard you are a man of strong opinions and not afraid to express them.”
“I am timid and withdrawn compared to my wife.”
“The most important thing in my life is prayer. You are married but have you found room in your heart for Mara, the Mother-Goddess?”
“I spent many days spreading her message throughout Skyrim. Primate Uravasa Mona, the Senior Priestess of the Great Chapel of Mara in Bravil, recently conducted our wedding ceremony in Bruma. And, I swear on The Nine, Lady Mara spoke to me when my need was great. She once escorted me through The Void and has helped me destroy weapons created by the Dark Lords. So yes, I know Lady Mara very well, and she has a place in my heart as do all The Nine.”
Jeshol stared at me for what seemed minutes but was only seconds. Then she said, “I can see you tell the truth. The Divines truly bless you. Why have you come to this place?”
“I do tasks for The Divines as I am their mortal Champion. Lord Stendarr wants me to stop the evil that lives below the city. He sent two Vigilants who died trying. I have more resources than those two brave souls and believe I can do it.”
“I will not probe any further as I get the impression there is much you cannot say. I am tired and will go home now. I will pray for your success and safe return to your wife.”
“Divines bless you.”
“You may want to visit Ulrin. His wife vanished, and nobody seems to want to do anything but suspect he got rid of her somehow or she found a way to get out of here. I have never seen a person so sad. It sounds like something the Champion of The Divines should investigate, especially since it is something Lady Mara would like resolved.”
She bowed and made her way out of the tavern.
I looked around the tavern, and there was nobody else I had not met before. I needed to speak to Ulrin. His missing wife was a mystery that could lead to a way out, a crime or an accident. He deserved an answer.
Ulrin is the City’s fisherman, so it made sense his house was the closest to the lake. I knocked on the door.
Ulrin opened it, mumbled, “I wondered how long it would take”, and invited me inside.
I could see the anger in his eyes.
“You were expecting me to visit you?”
“My wife disappeared, so now everybody thinks I managed to kill her or I know a way out of here. It was only a matter of time before you came asking the same questions. I wish you idiots would just leave me alone!”
I put on the Ayleid pendant and was instantly in my pocket realm. This time I quickly looked in one of the chests. It had items that I had placed there days earlier. So the pocket realm was in 4E 205. If I walked through the portal to Sancre Tor, I might have found myself back in the past as that was in Mundus, not Oblivion.
I removed the pendant and was standing in front of Ulrin once more.
“I can get out of here any time I desire. I am genuinely sorry Maisi is missing and wish nothing more than to help you solve the mystery.”
“Okay, you did kill all of those bandits. You have been stirring up a bit of a rebellion. I apologise for the assumption and rudeness.”
“How long has she been missing?”
“Just over two weeks.”
Genuine pain showed on Ulrin’s face, and tears threatened. He was feeling the loss and was not involved in her disappearance.
“I can tell you have no idea where she went. Would she leave you without telling you?”
“No, absolutely not. All I know is I woke up one morning, and Maisi was just gone. She didn’t say goodbye, leave a note or take anything with her.”
“Does she work in The Citadel as a cleaner?”
“Yes but The Jarl and others say she did not turn up for work that day.”
“Is she a Dunmer?”
“No, she is a Breton. If she were an Imperial, we would have been living in luxury up there instead of catching fish and cleaning up after others. Well, at least they would have invited her. I doubt having a grey-skin taking up any of their unused space would be welcome.”
“Do you mind if I have a quick look around. I am very experienced at investigating such matters and may find something you and others have missed.”
“I didn’t hurt Masie! I would never hurt her! I love her! So look around as much as you want. Just find out what has happened to her. Please!”
“I will do my best Ulrin.”
On a bench, next to some lockpicks, was a letter,
I know I don’t tell you this enough, but you are a beautiful man. I know you hate being trapped down here, but I honestly don’t mind it. As long as I’m here with you, I’m home.
I love you, always.
It was more confirmation of the love between the couple. The lockpicks were interesting. They suggested that one or both of them has been trying to access locked areas of the City or open locked containers.
Where the fire hearth was supposed to be was a bear fur. I moved it over, and a trapdoor was underneath.
I called Ulrin over and asked him, “Do you know how to pick locks?”
“No. Not at all.”
“Did you know about this trapdoor?”
“No. The temperature never varies here, so there was never a need to have a fire burning. We never cooked our food either. We always ate at the tavern.”
“I think Maisi was looking for a way out. Would you have tried to stop her if you knew she was going to go snooping around?”
“Of course. I had accepted our fate more than she did. We all knew what happened to one Vigilant of Stendarr, and now the other has also died.”
“I think this trapdoor leads to the service tunnels. The Vigilants’ injuries happened in the mine, which is a different place, so do not worry. You stay here, and I will have a look. Do not follow Ulrin as we do not know what is down there!”
Ulrin sat and stared at the trapdoor as I opened it and climbed down to the tunnel below.
It did not take long for suicidal Skeever to attack.
I found some blood on the floor. It was very congealed which indicated it had been there for some time. I estimated anywhere from a week to several months. After a while it will crystalise and get blown away or sit there as a reddish dust pile.
Other bloodstains were at regular intervals. Too regular. Somebody thought they would leave a trail for an inexperienced tracker to follow.
The last bloodstain was next to a skeleton in a small alcove. In the corner of the alcove was a sizeable Skeever nest.
I could hear the pitter-patter of a large Skeever approaching and turned to face it.
It was huge! It ran full speed towards me screeching.
Then leapt at my throat.
It impaled itself on my sword then dropped dead. When I cut it open, there was a skull, a key, a pendant and a Skeever tail in its stomach.
The skull was not that of a female Breton. It was too large and had the eyebrow ridges of a male, probably a Nord.
The pendant has an inscription that simply said, “Love, Ulrin”.
What the key was for I did not know as the trapdoor had no lock.
The tail suggested the huge Skeever enjoyed the normal sized ones for dinner.
I placed the skull with the skeletal remains and studied them carefully. The length of leg bones suggested the deceased was almost as tall as me. I towered over Ulrin and most other people.
I had not asked Dooley what happened to Harubal. I just knew he was dead. The note he had left Dooley said he was going to confront the Jarl about something in his secret room. I had chills go down my spine when my logical mind led to a horrible conclusion.
These were the remains of Harubal, not Maisi. They were planted here, along with the suspiciously placed bloodstains, by Metellus. The fake Jarl had been asking that idiot Imperial Legion Engineer, Vitus, to investigate the dismantling of the Dwemer busts. If he had managed to do so without breaking the Dwarves’ Law, it showed a significant flaw in the design and the fallibility of whoever is behind it.
If Vitus had managed to blind one of the busts, then Metellus would have a playroom where he could do what he wanted. Murder nosy people such as Harubal. Keep a prisoner plaything like Maisi.
My memory is pretty infallible, but I opened the Citizen Arrival Log anyway. I needed to confirm the potential nightmare before I acted upon it. I needed to remove any lingering doubts that still haunted me when working alone like this. I would love to ask Serana or Lydia or Celestine or anybody else.
Under the ‘Note:’ section of Maisi’s entry Metellus wrote, ‘Potential!’
Under the “Note:” section of Harubal’s entry he wrote, ‘Found key?!?’
I had no choice but to look and confirm my suspicion. I dreaded a decision I may have to make!
I did not want to go back through Ulrin’s house for obvious reasons. I found a door at the end of an alcove. The key I found inside the Skeever opened it.
It happened to be the house of Luki, an alchemist and somebody who I had not met yet.
She was not too pleased at my accidental intrusion upon her privacy.
“So the hero now thinks he can just barge into people’s homes.”
“I sincerely apologise. I got disoriented in the tunnels and thought I was unlocking my door. My house is next door.”
“Funny, the only person I have seen coming in and out of there is that young woman Safira. That insufferable Domitus has been banging on your door day and night demanding she return to The Citadel with him. He was loud enough then I heard her laughing at him and blowing raspberries. After that, he was hysterical, and I have never heard such a string of swear words!”
I started to laugh, which made Luki’s indignation grow. She snarled, “Typical male. Stealing another man’s woman so that he has some bed sport with no consideration for others!”
“Lucky those Dwarven beds are made of stone. They don’t make a rattling or squeaking noise, and the walls muffle most things. I would hate to think we are keeping you awake at night with our rigorous bed sport.”
Luki turned a bright red then started to hyperventilate as she tried to form a reply.
“You look a bit flustered. Perhaps you might be interested in joining us later? There are all these positions for three that they taught me at the Riften Temple of Dibella. Simply wonderful once you get the rhythm right.”
She finally managed to scream, “Get out of my house, you pervert!”
I used a bit of Thu’um and growled, “ENOUGH!”
A couple of beakers on her alchemy table shattered and Luki stood with her mouth tightly shut. I could see it was an effort.
“I don’t have time for this but cannot stand rudeness. I gave you a sincere apology, and instead of gracefully accepting it, you accused me of crass motives for helping Safira escape the clutches of that monster. On top of all that you showed no gratitude that I risked my life to save yours when I tackled those intruders.”
Luki’s mouth started trying hard to formulate words.
“By the way, that love potion you are about to brew will result in male impotence. I can tell by the colour you have added too many Stoneflower Petals for the amount of Green Lichen and Kresh Fiber in it. If meant for you and some unfortunate male, you will end up disappointed. On the other hand, a female lover might bring a smile to your sour face. Goodnight.”
I left Luki’s house and quickly headed for The Cathedral.
I entered and stormed up the many ramps till I reached the locked gate.
It opened to a short corridor which turned right and terminated in a set of thick doors. They would muffle most, if not all, sounds that came from the room behind them.
I opened them and stepped into a room of horror. On the floor was a dismantled Dwemer bust.
Shackled to the wall was a naked woman.
She barely registered I was there. I found some towels, wrapped them about her then cast a healing spell.
She came to and pleaded, “Oh Gods, not again! Please don’t hurt me!”
“Shh… I am not going to hurt you, I promise.”
“Thanks the Gods! Quickly, you have to let me down, before that monster comes back!”
“Are you Maisi?”
‘Yes. I lived down in…”
“It is okay. I know who you are. I have come here because Ulrin wanted me to find you.”
“He tricked me into coming into this room by saying it needed cleaning. Then he beat me and shackled me like this. Just about every night he visits and… Oh, God’s I can’t. You have to let me down! Please, I’ve never done anything to deserve this!”
“Did you see him murder another man?”
“I heard them arguing outside the door but couldn’t make out what they were saying. Then it burst open, and Harubal stormed in. When he saw me, he stood transfixed with horror on his face. The monster stabbed him in the back over and over till he was dead. Hours later he cut him up and carried him outside in sacks. He made several trips and looked pleased when he returned from the last one. That night he was more brutal than usual. It was if the killing inspired his lust and cruelty.”
I then had to face one of my biggest ever challenges. I had to leave Maisi in that nightmare!
I said to her, “Maisi, I am so sorry! I can’t let you down right now. As soon as we pass one of those Dwemer busts a violation of the Dwarves’ Law will be detected. Everybody will die.”
“Then kill me! Don’t leave me here for him. PLEASE!”
“I assume he does not hurt you during the daytime? Even with the thick doors closed, there are too many people walking the halls and visiting him.”
“No, he only visits and night but I do not know what time it is in here. That is one of the worst things. When is he going to come walking through that door?”
“It is early in the morning Maisi. I promise he will not visit for many hours. I have a plan to rescue you, but you have to be patient. Can you do that?”
“You promise that you will not let him hurt me anymore?”
“He will never hurt you again, this I swear on The Nine.”
“I will trust you. You put these towels around me. Not many would care about my modesty.”
“I have rescued many children and adults of all races from a similar situation. Giving them some dignity was always the first step in their recovery.”
“You will have to take them away. Sometimes the Jarl comes in for a quick gloat at his prize.”
I took the towels off her then averted my eyes as I promised once again, “This will soon be over Maisi.”
I quickly left the room and closed the door. I locked the gate then made my way out of The Citadel.
I searched for Rykas and found him walking past one of the larger Dwemer Centurions.
“You again. Before you ask, the armour is still not for sale or loan so go away.”
“It seems I will have to take it from your corpse, but I would not feel right killing you.”
I put my fists up pugilist style. He laughed then said, “Are you insane? You hit me we are all dead!”
“I won’t be! Sorry about your nose.”
I jabbed him right on the honker and blood started streaming from it.
An ominous voice bellowed from every Centurion and echoed around the City,
“THE MANY SHALL SUFFER FOR THE SINS OF THE ONE!”
Rykas was still standing in disbelief while copious amounts of blood dripped over his shiny armour.
The huge Centurion behind him started its attack. Rykas turned to fight but was blown down to street level by a burst of steam.
I used the Become Ethereal Shout instead of an Invisibility Spell for several reasons. It lasts a lot longer. Things that can detect body heat will not find me in the ether. The Dwemer Centurions can all see body heat, much like my Detect Life spell. That is why it is useless to try and hide from them behind or under most things.
I jumped down to the street where Rykas had landed. He was fighting a slightly smaller Centurion and doing quite well.
His armour protected him against several savage blows, but he was slowing due to fatigue and injury.
Eventually he did not duck in time, so the Centurion snapped his neck with a vicious left hook.
The Centurion stood over Rykas’ body while looking for another victim. It stormed right past me and ran towards where the majority of screaming and pleading was coming.
I stripped the entire set of armour from Rykas’ corpse then headed for the Lakehouse.
A Centurion was storming along the boardwalk towards the Lakehouse. Metellus must still have been alive in there. His body heat gave his location away.
There was no glow around the door which confirmed what I thought.
I entered. Metellus was in some sort of trance and slowly walked towards the door. A letter was on the table. It would be identical to the one I picked up first time I entered the Lakehouse.
When close enough to the door, he lifted from the ground. His life force started to leave his body.
It started as a trickle then became a mighty rush.
His entire life force drained away after a few seconds. He dropped onto his knees then fell forward with his left hand stretched towards the door. Exactly how I found his skeleton on my first visit.
I put my Ayleid pendant on and zapped into my pocket plane. I placed my armour into a chest and donned the Immaculate Dwarven Armour.
I removed the Ayleid pendant and reappeared inside the Lakehouse.
There was some parchment and ink on the table, so I wrote the following,
“I, General Wulf Septim of the Imperial Legion testify to the following.
The man calling himself Jarl Metellus is guilty of the following:
- He assumed the noble title of Jarl without legal rights or permissions. The City he claims to rule sits within the Markarth Hold of Skyrim. The Jarl of Markarth was not consulted and did not secede the lands upon which the City resides. High King Torygg did not enter the name of Jarl Metellus into the lists; therefore, it is a false claim to nobility without merit legally or morally. He has no legal authority over any of the occupants living in the City. The charge is, ‘Illegally claiming nobility and authority.’
- Metellus has used his false authority, with the co-operation of others, to enforce serfdom upon citizens of The Empire and visitors from other countries. This serfdom is a form of slavery and therefore, illegal throughout The Empire. The charge is, ‘Enslavement of others within the borders of The Empire.’
- Metellus has used his false authority to order the disassembly of a Dwarven bust. He did this without certainty that it would not be a breach of the Dwarves’ Law. Thereby knowingly risked the lives of everybody within the City. He did not seek nor get approval from them. The charge is, ‘Knowingly putting others at mortal risk for personal gain.’
- Metellus kidnapped Maisi, wife of Ulrin. He shackled her naked to a wall. For several weeks, she was raped and tortured by him. The destruction of the room’s Dwemer bust allowed him to commit breaches of the Dwarves’ Law without detection. See charge 3. The charges are, ‘Kidnapping, denial of liberty, torture and rape.’
- Metellus murdered Harubal, brother of Dooley. He did this because Harubal discovered the heinous crimes committed against Maisi and threatened to rescue her and tell all of what had occurred. The destruction of the room’s Dwemer bust allowed him to commit breaches of the Dwarves’ Law without detection. See charge 3. The charge is, ‘Murder.’
- Metellus broke the Commandment of Arkay. Harubal’s corpse was dismembered and then fed to a very large Skeever in the maintenance tunnels of the City. He placed evidence that would make it seem the deceased thus eaten was Maisi when, in fact, she was still alive and suffering at his hands. The crimes committed are “Denying Arkay’s rights to a follower of The Divine. Mutilation of a corpse. Planting of false evidence.’
- Metellus removed shelter from Dooley, brother of the man he murdered, with the excuse being the unfortunate and simple man could not contribute to the wellbeing of the community. This cruelty ignores the Ten Commandments of The Nine and shows a complete lack of decency and empathy. The charge is, ‘Wanton cruelty to one in your care.’
The evidence of Metellus’ crimes is undeniable. Maisi is in the locked room near his quarters. Some of Harubal’s remains are in a small room within the maintenance tunnels under the City and the rest, along with Maisi’s locket, can be found inside a giant Skeever near that room.
- As per the laws of The Empire and Skyrim, Metellus is to be placed under citizen’s arrest and tried for all seven counts.
- All crimes listed under a count are to be combined as one for deliberation.
- The accused is allowed an attorney and can speak for themself in court.
- A resident of the City will be the prosecutor.
- A jury of seven will decide guilty or not guilty on the seven counts.
- The majority vote of the jury will decide the verdict of guilty or not guilty on each count.
- A unanimous guilty verdict for count four or count five carries a compulsory sentence of death by hanging or beheading under Imperial law.
- The sentence for a non-unanimous guilty verdict is to be decided by the prosecutor.
I strongly advise Metellus be dealt with as described here. This formality will avoid legal repercussions in the future.
General Wulf Septim.”
I placed the list of charges into an envelope.
I removed my helm as I did not want to be mistaken for Rykas, opened the door then walked into the time-portal.
I was back in the City, and it was as I found it first trip through the time-portal.
I walked toward Gulvar, who said, “You there! Where did you come from?”
“Hello, Gulvar. We have met before.”
“What? I’ve never met you before!”
“Yes, you have. You’re going to offer to escort me to see that arsehole Metellus.”
“I… uh… You’re right. I was. How could you possibly of known that?”
“I’m a time traveller, and now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a Jarl to get rid of.”
I left the confused Gulvar sitting at the docks while I headed straight for Ulrin who was kneeling at the edge of the lake.
“Greeting Ulrin, my name is Wulf.”
“Hello stranger, what can I do for you?”
“I have investigated the disappearance of your wife, Maisi, and found she is still alive.”
“Is this some sort of joke. I would have seen you if you had been snooping around.”
“All I ask is this. I am about to give you several pieces of paper, a key to the underground tunnels and one to a secret room near the Jarl’s living quarters. Read the papers and do as the charge sheet says. Avoid any violence until the Dwarves’ Law no longer exists.”
“You are insane!”
“I will leave these things with you. You will soon have proof I am correct.”
I handed Ulrin the list of charges, the letter from Dooley’s brother and the request to dismantle the bust plus the two keys. I then ran to the mines.
I was almost at the entrance when I heard some choice Dunmeri swearing coming from Ulrin. I knew he would not ignore what I gave him in case the claims were valid. I hoped to get rid of the Dwarves’ Law by the time he reached the fake Jarl.
I arrived at the mine entrance, eager to judge the judge.
Everything was the same as last I visited.except I wore the Immaculate Dwemer armour.
Magicka Anomalies attacked. Fireballs from a distance and Unrelenting Force got rid of them quickly.
Lightening worked well too.
I could see a large dome in the distance. Intuition told me that it was home to the ‘evil being’.
After disposing of about a dozen Magicka Anomalies, I reached an entrance to the dome. By this stage, I was a fair way underground.
There was yet another door just inside the entrance.
Inside the dome, the outline of a being in Immaculate Dwarven Armour was barely discernable. A bright yellow globe of light obscured my target. It was for dramatic effect only. It did nothing but try and hide the fact I was dealing with another mortal who had to protect themself from the Aetherium energy.
A male voice boomed, “And here you are. I’ve been waiting for you, Dovahkiin.”
“You do not know if I am Dovahkiin. You merely surmise after I used the Thu’um. Many mortals can use the Thu’um. Blood of the Dov is not needed.”
“To me, your memories are an open tome. To begin with, I know you have taken many lives in cold blood.”
“Liar! Gods can’t penetrate my mind’s defences, so a mortal like you certainly can’t. You have known me for less than an hour as I prepared what I gave Ulrin. Not once have you seen me kill! But I confess, I have killed thousands but never in cold blood. I am Dovahkiin but also far more than that. If you can read my mind, who am I?”
“I know you are a brazen thief, compulsively stealing from your people without remorse or restraint.”
“In the time I have been here, what have I stolen? You still have not answered my question. Who am I?”
“I know the blood of the beast flows in your veins.”
“What has the blood of a beast got to do with being Dovahkiin? Dov are one of the most intelligent of all living things. They have built tremendous cities and are capable of great philosophy and wisdom. The blood that flows in my veins matches my soul. Both gifted to me by my Celestial Father, Lord Akatosh. You are an intellectual maggot compared to the lowliest of Dov. There is no beast within my veins. Now speak the truth for your lies are obvious to me. You still do not know who I am!”
“I know you have come from the future. Why is that? Is your desire for power so great that you would even break the laws of time for it?”
“If I had not told Gulvar I was from the future you would not have known. All the knowledge you have of me is derived from your perverted need to spy on others. You know nothing of the laws of time. That knowledge belongs to Lord Akatosh. Once again, you have proven you know not who I am. If you did, you would know I already have great power that I did not seek. You would know I have never pursued power. You would know your power is insignificant compared to mine and holds no interest to me.”
“It would make no difference if you did desire it. You could not take it from me. You would not be so foolish as to break my law.”
“But I already have. I punched Rykas in the nose to avoid killing him. I let your Centurions do that. Explain how I have this suit of armour if that is not the case?”
No answer was forthcoming.
“There was nothing foolish about what I did. I am right here, right now because of meticulous planning. Think upon this; I spent days finding all the hidden secrets of the City. You have no idea what I did during those days. In reality, you know me not at all.”
“My law is the only thing keeping you and your kind from descending into chaos! You would be incapable of peace without it!”
“I am a mortal as are you. So ‘your kind’ encompasses you as well. The Gods envy mortal free will. It is a fundamental part of who and what we are. You are trying to replace free will with enforced behaviour. You are trying to make mortals automated and lacking free will like your Centurions.”
“I am the Arbiter! I discovered this site millennia ago and the deposit of Aetherium beneath us.”
“You discovered something created by the sacrifices of the Gods, as are all minerals on Nirn. They created mortal life and Mundus. You are using the power imbued into Aetherium by the Gods to proclaim yourself to be a God. If it’s the way we should be, why have the Gods who created us not enforced your law? You profess to know more than they! Your entire species thought the same and exterminated themselves with their vanity.”
“I laid the foundations! I watched my children grow and learn and use the Aetherium to create marvels. But they grew quarrelsome and used their knowledge to create weapons. They used these weapons against their own kind! Worse than that, they used them against their own Father! So I confiscated their weapons and declared my law. All my children would live in perfect order, or they would not live at all.”
“The whole Dwemer civilisation collapsed soon after the discovery of small deposits of Aetherium within Blackreach. Many sources document The Aetherium Wars, yet you thought you could do better than your leaders? Those who got caught in your trap were not your people. You had no legal authority over them. You were never their ‘Father’! You’re a megalomaniac who tried to enforce his ideas upon others. You took away their freedom! You dared to accuse me of seeking power yet you have killed countless others in your desperate attempt to keep your own. How many times have you exterminated the inhabitants of this city?”
“Not once! The law has always been clear. When they break the law, they kill themselves. They have done that over three hundred times in two thousand years!”
“I found dark secrets hidden from you; therefore, you are incapable of being the judge of these people as you are not omnipotent!”
“Your laws are so flawed you allow the destruction of the busts. Metellus had one removed. Therefore you did not see him kidnap, rape and torture Maisi, wife of Ulrin. You did not see him murder Harubal, brother of Dooley. You must have seen him dragging bloodied sacks of body parts into the maintenance tunnels yet did not question those actions.”
“Yes, I saw him do as you said. But that was not against my laws.”
“Then you know what I say is true. What is happening right now? Is Ulrin gathering others to confront Metellus? They will soon have proof that your laws are false and fail to do as designed.”
“You have told me of his crimes. Therefore he and his subjects must be purged.”
“Once again, you prove you are unworthy of being the ‘Arbiter’. You have no proof of these alleged crimes. The only evidence being words from the mouth of the one you claim is half beast, a thief and a cold-blooded killer.”
“NO! I must enforce my law! You entered my City so are now one of mine as they are. So you must also be punished!”
“As I said before, your power is insignificant compared to mine. You have no hope of defeating me!”
I hit Arbiter with lightning, and his annoying yellow globe vanished. He was just a mortal in the same armour as me.
I hit him with another bolt.
He fell to his knees and was at my mercy.
I stood over him and waited till he could stand.
I looked underneath my feet and was impressed with the amount of Aetherium. It was also intriguing soul gems were scattered among the crystals.
After several minutes he stood and waited for me to speak.
“I have not slain you as I want you to aid those you have wronged. End your law and allow these people to live as the Gods desire.”
“Who are you Dovahkiin. Why did you come here?”
“I am, or will be in seven years depending on your perspective, Emperor Wulf Septim, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divine. Sent to investigate a time anomaly and stop the ‘evil’ that my Gods had detected. Arbiter, you are that evil! Your actions have labelled you as such by the very Gods that created you and all that you see. As their representative on Nirn, I find you guilty of murder and kidnapping. Your defence that the people did it to themselves is without merit and rejected outright. No civilised society believes in the punishment of the innocent for the sins of others.”
“I reject your Gods and do not believe they have a right to judge me!”
“Of course not for you are Dwemer and therefore worship reason and logic over Divinity. So let logic condemn you.”
“The Dwarves’ Law was fatally flawed from the outset because you are not omniscient. You failed to detect the crimes of Metellus. You failed to protect the busts from destruction. You failed to logically connect the disappearance of Maisi and Harubal even after witnessing Metellus disposing of body parts. You failed to act upon the fact Metellus was escaping your scrutiny.”
“I can’t and have never been able to ensure peace and order!”
“You have never been able to enforce you flawed vision of perfect order so killed all of those people over two millennia without just cause.”
“I… I thought that if I could create peace here, create order, that I could prove to the world such a thing is possible and they might follow.”
“You were convinced your intentions were noble and therefore your actions were justified. Another misconception exposed by simple logic. Take this opportunity to redeem yourself, or I will slay you. I will slay you over and over until you submit to my judgment. Or I could tire of that game and end it myself.”
“I can destroy every single bust in the City in a couple of days. You would no longer be able to detect any breach of your idiotic law. I can leave here anytime I desire. I could then make it possible for those who desire to leave this place. This armour is not hard to construct so I could bring in thousands of miners to take the Aetherium from here. There is absolutely nothing you could do to prevent this. I could also just kill the fake Jarl. He would never trigger the time-portal, and the paradox would throw me back to my timeline.”
“You are right. What do you wish me to do?”
“Stop the Dwarves’ Law immediately. Destroy the Aetherium if you can as nobody should have access to such a large stockpile. Open the roof of the cavern, so real sunlight shines upon the City.”
“You want me to destroy the Aetherium?”
“The desire to use it on current or future enemies will eventually prove too strong for somebody. That cannot be allowed.”
“I can do all that but what about the paradox?”
“If you end the Dwarves Law right now then the time-portal will never be constructed. I could never have entered it so I will never leave my timeline. I would be here but years in the future. Since the people in the City have never contacted the outside world in my timeline, they will not be able to do so till after I return to my timeline. A man who tried to stop all of this before my arrival does not commit suicide. He would never have travelled through the time-portal. He would have discovered the City and residents as they will be years in the future and several days before my return to my timeline. Lord Akatosh will ensure this is so.”
“Another tried this before you?”
“He did not try and end the Dwarves’ Law. He constantly went back through the time-portal in a futile attempt to stop breaches of your law. Eventually, he despaired and committed suicide.”
“Won’t you forget what has happened?”
“No, I have lived these things, and my Dov soul will ensure they remain in my memories. My friends waiting above might get a bit confused, depending on how I return to them. The man who came before me may also be confused as to how he arrived in the City.”
“You are trusting me not to harm you?”
“You have no cause to do so. I could have killed you but showed mercy. I have proven I do not seek power. The peace and order you so desire, I am crucial to a plan of my Gods to bring such a thing about. You have free will, and I trust you to make the morally correct choice.”
“You have not asked the one question I expected you to.”
“What happened to your people? I know they vanished when trying to emulate the powers of the Gods. I suspect you may wish to investigate and see if you can unravel what they did.”
“You are very intuitive. I am thankful for this chance to at least atone a little for my mistakes. I am responsible for many deaths. I do not want yours or those currently living in the City to add to that terrible total.”
“Farewell Emperor. Perhaps you may hear from me again.”
There was a brief flash but no sensation of heat or anything else.
“RIGMOR! What are they doing to you? Let her go you bastards! Rigmor, can you hear me?”
“Baa’Ren-Dar? Why are your rescuing Rigmor and not me? She called out in the dark for me!”
Distant voices from a different time whispering,
“What do we do?”
“I don’t know Alessia. The cause of this is beyond my knowledge.”
“How did he find her? Does he know her?”
“I don’t know but look; our son is calming down.”
“Shush my Dragonchild. That’s it, sleep, all is okay, sleep.”
I was standing in the exact spot where I was seven years earlier. Instead of a transparent floor covering a massive forest of Aetherium crystals, I stood upon Dwemer stonework.
Something went wrong. I did not get back to my timeline without a hitch. Maybe Lord Akatosh is struggling with his domain and time is not so easy to control.
I could tell I was back on my timeline because sequential time was strange like it had been since Nagasel.
The first time I entered the time-portal was about 1:45 PM on the 4th of Last Seed.
Since the paradox means I couldn’t have done that, as the time-portal did not exist, then that is the time I would have reappeared here.
To my internal time clock, the time elapsed would make it about 10:30 AM on the 6th of Last Seed.
I have written this journal entry to cover the dates of the 4th to the 6th. I was absent for about four hours to an outside observer.
In front of me was a statue of somebody wearing the Immaculate Dwarven Armour. A young Imperial Legion Legate was reading a plaque written in Dwemer and translated to Cyrodiilic.
I decided to leave my helmet on. I did not want the fact I was The Emperor making things more complicated than they were.
I tapped the Legionnaire on the shoulder. When he turned to face me, I asked, “Are you Legate Altius?”
“Yes but wait, I know you!”
“You’re, no, that can’t be right. For a moment there, I thought you were the one this statue honours.”
“Mind if I read the inscription?”
Arbiter had been careful not to cause further paradox by carefully wording the inscription.
“I, Arbiter, erected this memorial to thank a fellow mortal. He showed me the flaws in my logic and allowed me to realise the many sins I committed.
My Dwarves’ Law was wrong in both concept and execution. I was guilty of far more heinous crimes than the many I killed for breaching it.
He risked much to save the citizens of this City. Remember him always. Do not let him become a myth.
Apologies for my actions would be grossly insufficient.
He knew my punishment would be eternal regret.
So be assured, my punishment is severe and deservedly so.”
I said to Altrius, “I was sent by Cassia to see where you are.”
“Cassia! I completely forgot! I asked her to wait for me at the top. I got so tied up in this place that I lost track of time.”
“How do you propose to get back up to her?”
“There is a lift, but they haven’t been able to get it working.”
“How did you get down here?”
“I must have come down on the lift. But that seems impossible when the residents say it has never worked.”
“You don’t remember floating down?”
“When I said that to one of the locals, they laughed and said that is how they remember getting here, but the lift has been there for years.”
“And I bet everybody who arrived in the last seven years also say they floated down.”
“But there is a lift! I saw it!”
“You are not worried you are stuck down here?”
“I was worried that might happen, and that is why I asked Cassia to stay up there. So she could get help, eventually. I did forget to agree to an amount of time before she should start panicking.”
“You have been down here for a couple of days?”
“Yes, I came down here on the morning of the 1st of Last Seed.”
“So now it is close to 2:00 PM on the 4th of Last Seed?”
“Umm…yeah. Have you found this place so fascinating you lost track of time as well?”
“Not really. My problem is knowing the time too well.”
“Okay strange person who came looking for me wearing the same type of armour as the hero on this memorial, I had better get back to Cassia.”
“But the lift isn’t working.”
“Oh, yeah. What do we do now?”
“It’s okay Legate Altrius. By the time we get to the lift, it will be mysteriously working, and the people who live here won’t know why.”
“Okay, even stranger person, do you want to come with me? We can chat along the way.”
“Alright, but we had better run there. Cassia was worried and should not have to wait a minute longer than needed.”
“Great Idea. Follow me.”
We ran at a good pace which prevented any locals from harassing me and asking about the armour.
Altrius said, “So you’re probably wondering what I’ve been doing down here.”
“You were looking for stuff you could sell to buy a farm for your retirement and for Cassia to open a store in Chorrol.”
“Yes, but I wasn’t expecting a thriving city! The book on top said the plaque mentioned riches beyond imagining. I was expecting ruined Dwemer buildings containing piles of gold for the taking. Would you like to hear what I have learned about this place?”
“Sure, go ahead.”
As we continued to run, Altrius told me the history as he knew it:
- Up until about seven years ago, they had what they called the ‘Dwarves’ Law’.
- Apparently, there were inscriptions warning that if one person committed a crime, everyone else would pay for it.
- But they were all trapped in the city with no way out, so they lived in fear that someone would break the law and get them all killed.
- Then one day, a strange man appeared in the city out of nowhere. They say he just walked out of the Lakehouse like he owned the place.
- He wore this spectacular Dwarven armour, like the stuff you are wearing.
- A few people saw him walk into this mine, into deadly energy, like it was nothing. Like it hadn’t killed people before him.
- Then the ground started shaking, and golden statues were collapsing, and inscriptions were crumbling, all over the city, all at the same time.
- The ‘Sun Under the Ground’, which used to light up the entire cavern, went dark.
- The strangest thing of all? The cavern roof opens up like the petals on a flower, and there’s real sunlight for the first time in thousands of years.
- The people started wondering. Did that stranger just walk down here and single-handedly dismantle whatever was keeping the Dwarves’ Law going?
- Who was he? Was he still alive?
- So Brol, the local Scholar, goes down into the quarry to take a look, but the whole place is empty.
- He goes all the way to the bottom, and sitting alone in the darkness, is that statue of the stranger.
- Several days later they checked the entrance shaft and discovered a Dwemer lift was there.
- Oddest tale I have ever heard.
I said to Altrius, “I think the locals gave you a shortened version.”
When we got the exit of the mine, I said, “Keep running to the lift. I do not wish to speak to any of the locals.”
“Okay, but they are a friendly bunch and will not try and sell you any souvenirs or flowers or Magic Falmer Elixir.”
We exited the mine then ran full pelt. A few people pointed, and one or two yelled out, but we did not stop.
We entered the building where the well and Telvanni style air-lift used to be, then ran towards the Dwemer lift. The Dwemer lights now held candles, so the place was darker than it used to be.
We stood on the lift platform, and then I pulled the lever. With a familiar clanking and groaning the lift made its way slowly upwards.
I took my helm off just before we reached the top.
The Sentinel stood back as Altrius, and I stepped off the lift.
Cassia ran up to her brother and hugged him tight,
- Altrius: Glad to see you too little sister!
- Cassia: Thank the Gods, you are alright! What kept you so long?
- Altrius: I know, I know! Sorry Cassia, I lost track of time again. It’s just that the City of Fireflies is so amazing.
- Cassia: City of Fireflies?
- Altrius: That is what they call it. You have to come down with me and see it for yourself! I promise it is perfectly safe.
- Cassia: Well, alright, but first let me thank our Emperor.
Altrius looked puzzled, then startled after he recognised my face.
- Cassia: Thank you for being so quick to find and bring him back to me your Majesty.
- Wulf: You are welcome.
- Cassia: I was starting to think I lost him.
- Wulf: He is safe now, so why don’t you visit the City of Fireflies. It is much more interesting than standing here with my guards.
- Cassia: They have been lovely to me. I was not bored at all, and that helped with the worry.
Altrius finally managed to get some words out of his mouth,
- Altrius: You are him. You are the stranger that saved them from the Dwarves’ Law. But that was seven years ago! I am so confused… “
- Wulf: It was me, but the story is long and full of gobblygook.
- Altrius: Gobblygook?
- Cassia: The Emperor’s guards explained it to me. It is what the Gods do that doesn’t make sense to ordinary people.
- Altrius: Like a lift that has never worked suddenly working.
- Cassia: Huh?
- Wulf: Go and enjoy a walk with your brother Cassia. You will be able to read all about what happened in my journal soon.
They both stood on the platform. Cassia laughed as her brother pulled the lever, and the lift started its slow and noisy decent.
I opened the book on the pedestal. There was only one sentence,
“Welcome, traveller, to the City of Fireflies!”
I placed the book back. That was like a signal for The Sentinel to barrage me with questions.
I told them, “It seems like five or six hours to you. It has been more than two and a half days for me. Let me don my Emperor’s Armour, and then we will visit The City of Fireflies as well. Maybe you will gleam some answers from that.”
I retrieved my Emperor’s Armour from one of the tents and put it on. I will visit my pocket plane later and get my General’s armour.
Kharjo pulled a lever next to the lift shaft then we heard the platform slowly rising.
When it reached the top we piled on, I pulled the lever, and slowly we made our way down.
The citizens did not yet know the lift was working. We walked around the City. People were talking about the ‘stranger’ running out of the mine. Now a strange group of soldiers including, of all things, an Orc, Khajiit and Argonian, were wandering around.
Nobody approached us until Gulvar came sprinting over. He stared at my face and looked confused.
He said, “Welcome strangers. I am Mayor Gulvar.”
“We have met before Mayor Gulvar. You challenged me when I exited the Lakehouse over seven years ago. I told you I was from the future. Well, this is the future.”
“It is you! You’re back, after all this time! But you look no older?
“How have things been since I removed the Dwarves’ Law.”
“At first everybody was scared and afraid to test if it was gone. Ulrin showed us the information you gave him and gathered several of us. Together we marched up to Metellus’ quarters. He screamed and yelled and told us we were fools and would be the death of us all if we broke the law.
Ulrin used the key you gave him then we all marched into that terrible room. When Ulrin saw Maisi, he let out the most pitiful sob imaginable. With trembling hands, he released her from the shackles, and she fell onto the floor in a heap. Ulrin wrapped some towels around her; then they both sat and cried and cried.
After a few minutes, Maisi looked up into Metellus’ eyes. She leapt up and quick as a snake was gouging at his face, pulling his hair and hitting him as hard as she could with closed fists. We all stood shocked and wondering if this was our doom.
Ulrin dragged her away, saying, ‘No Maisi, we must do things by the law. The Empire’s law.’
Metellus yelled to me, ‘Gulvar, you just saw an attack on your Jarl. I order you and some of these other peasants to detain her!’
Sato walked up and knocked him clean out with a beautiful uppercut.”
“His deaf guard?”
“Yes, he was pissed off that he got the position because he was deaf. He stood many times making sure Metellus wasn’t disturbed in his ‘recreation room’ not knowing what was going on in there.”
“So the evidence was gathered. The trial held as per Empire and Skyrim laws?”
“Yes. The fool refused any council and represented himself. I acted as prosecutor. He was found guilty by unanimous vote on every charge. We hung him two days later. He did not go to the gallows like a man and never showed remorse.”
“And you were voted Mayor?”
“We decided that nobody had the right to the title of Jarl. Each year we vote for the Mayor, and I have won it each time.”
“Have many people come down the shaft during those seven years?”
“Yes, quite a few. That was how we got information about what is happening up there. A Civil War in Skyrim. An invasion by the Thalmor. A missing Emperor and then another that got replaced by a Septim, supposedly the son of Tiber Septim.”
A couple of The Sentinel started to laugh, and Gulvar looked worried. Then he asked, “Did I say something wrong? Why are your men laughing?”
“I am Emperor Wulf Septim. Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines.”
“You, you are the Emperor! You signed those papers as General Wulf Septim. I remember that now.”
“Well, technically I wasn’t Emperor back in one ninety-eight. Technically I wasn’t a general either. Truthfully, I have no idea where I was or even who I was that year!”
“Okay, I am sure that will not sound so weird one day. You and your guards are here so does that mean the lift finally works?”
“Yes Mayor Gulvar. Your people are free to come and go. We will keep the existence of this place quiet. You can announce it to the world when you think you are ready for the influx of visitors and maybe even new residents.”
“A few will quickly leave here. Most will stay. We all work together. There are very few disputes. We are self-sufficient, and nobody goes hungry. People are free to live in The Citadel or the houses below. We started to clean up The Palace so that will provide even more living space if we have an influx of people.”
“And I bet, now that all are equal and share both food and labour, there is little or no theft, violence or murder.”
“We have had very few incidences of minor theft. A few love triangles. Nothing overly violent.”
“I find it ironic that Arbiter wished for this yet it only occurred after he removed Dwarves’ Law.”
“I saw that name on the plaque attached to the statue. Was he the Dwemer who acted as judge, jury and executioner?”
“Over three hundred times over two thousand years, he decided a law had been broken and killed everybody.”
“But you showed him mercy?”
“He has his punishment as it says on the plaque.”
“I had better get together with some others and decide what we do now the lift is working.”
“It has been a pleasure meeting you again, Mayor Gulvar.”
As Gulvar walked away, a young boy came running up to me and said, “Wow, that is pretty neat armour Mister! Even better than Rykas’!”
“Is he still walking around in that shiny Dwemer armour?”
“I don’t think he ever takes it off.”
The child laughed then said, “You should visit my parent’s shop. They have heaps of quality clothes.”
“You are the son of Habiq and Miranda?”
“Yeah, their second son. My big brother died before I was born.”
“My name is Wulf.”
I held out my hand, and he shook it, saying, “And I am Maliq.”
“I am busy now, Maliq, but perhaps I can visit your store soon.”
He let go of my hand and ran off saying, “That would be good. My mum makes the best clothes in the world!”
I saw Dooley sitting down wearing some fine clothes. I quickly picked a dozen good quality and very colourful gems out of my bag then walked up to him.
“Is your name Dooley?” I asked.
“Yes. Why does your friend have fur? And that one looks all scaly. The green lady needs to see somebody about those teeth because they might cut her gums. Did she get pepper in her eyes? I sometimes do that, and they turn red. Not as red as hers.”
“There are different types of people Dooley. You would have seen them when you lived up there with your brother.”
“Oh, I remember now. Sometimes I find it hard to remember things.”
“Hold out your hand, Dooley, I have a surprise.”
“Oh, I like surprises!”
Dooley held out his hand then I placed the gems on his palm. He stared at them then said, “Are these my treasure? That old Jarl said there was no treasure and was mean to me and I had to live in a tent when my brother Harubal died.”
“I found them in a little chest with a note that said, “Dooley’s Treasure. Signed Harubal.”
“Wow! I knew he wouldn’t trick me or lie!”
“They are worth a lot of money Dooley. Ask Mayor Gulvar to sell them for you. He will get you honest deals for them.”
“Mayor Gulvar is nice. He gave me a house and lots of new clothes. He says I do not have to work. I just need to be happy and smiley because that helps others be happy and smiley. I do not need money, so I will keep them and just look at them because they are pretty.”
“I am glad to have helped you, Dooley. You keep smiling. That is a very important job! I have to go now.”
Dooley started to hold each gem up one by one to see their colour in the bright sunshine.
Kharjo asked, “Are you going to try and explain what happened here?”
“I will make this promise. In the next day or so Rigmor and I will join all The Sentinel in your mess hall for dinner. I will then try to explain to all of you at once what happened and how. I am weary and want to go home now. We should have summoned the airship before coming here.”
“No need. Queen Rigmor decided that the throne room did not appeal to her today. Nafalilargus is till anchored just outside the entrance to the ruins.”
The Sentinel packed up their camp. I made my way quickly out of the City, the ruins and into the cabin of the airship.
Rigmor was surprised by how hard I held her and the tears I shed. She looked me in the face and asked, “What is wrong, Wulf? Half a day is not long to be away. Did you see something to upset you?”
“I was back in the year one ninety-eight. I know Baa’Ren-Dar rescued you from there later in that year but…”
“The timeline you were in, I was still in the hands of the Thalmor. At their embassy.”
“I kept thinking as I tried to concentrate on the Divine Task, were you at that very moment asking if anybody heard you… ”
“… if anybody cared. Oh my, and you had nobody to console you. To help you.”
“Logically I knew everything turned out not too bad, I know marrying a grumpy Dragon is no compensation for what they did to you and your family, but the thoughts and images just kept repeating and do you know what was the worst thing?”
“What my Dragonborn?”
“I know for a certainty that I was there the night they whipped you in front of Baa’Ren-Dar. I remember the disgust on his face. I remember him wearing black and carrying you to safety. I remember you looking right through me not knowing I was there pleading for it to stop. I knew who you were. I just wanted it to stop!”
“You are convinced you saw this. That it was real and not caused by all this time travel.”
“I am certain Rigmor, and I don’t think it was supposed to happen because I heard my parents discussing it. Even they were confused!”
“You look so tired.”
“I am. It may have been half a day to you, but it has been almost non-stop for three days for me.”
“Let us go to bed now. I do not care if it is before dinner. You need to be in our quiet and have some sleep.”
I crawled under our blankets then Rigmor joined me, held me and not a word was needed.
I know not what time I fell asleep.
I know my mother’s voice whispered, “We are so sorry, Dragonchild. You made your way to Rigmor before you even met her. We still do not know how or why. We were puzzled but also blessed to witness it. Your love transcends time. It is the strongest force known, and nothing will stand in its way.”
I wrote these journal entries on the morning of 5th Last Seed, 4E 205.
“How can you write one for the 6th when it is only the 5th?” you may ask.
Ask The Divines if that confuses you. It gives me a headache!