Markarth, Irkngthand, Solitude, The College of Winterhold, Mzulft, Alftand: Old relics and new Sentinel.
It is time to take the second new Sentinel squad on a field trip. I have decided they will accompany me and recover some Snow Elf artefacts that Calcelmo wrote to me about,
I hope you remember the assistance in Nchuand-Zel you provided in 4E 201. Your efforts back then allowed us to resume excavations.
During my ongoing work translating the Falmer tongue, I have come across references to several important Snow Elven artefacts. If they still exist, they could have great historical and magical significance.
My team has quite unexpectedly recovered several caches of Ancient Falmer artefacts while working in Nchuand-Zel over the intervening years.
The discovery of these Ancient Falmer caches gives me hope that the Dwemer may have also held on to Snow Elven artefacts of importance, rather than having melted them down for scrap as was previously assumed.
I would like to discuss with you the possibility of seeking out some of these items.
Any you find will belong to you and will undoubtedly end up in your magnificent museum. All I ask is that I get to study them beforehand.
Thank you in advance for your attention,
Nchuand-Zel is the main Dwemer excavation undertaken in Markarth for the last decade. A group of archaeologists had vanished within the ruins, so Kharjo, Lydia, Celestine, Meeko and I had volunteered to find what had happened to them. Thanks to our efforts, all lost research notes were retrieved, and the giant spiders and other nasties cleared out. The lost archaeologists were all dead, so their bodies were recovered for burial later on. Calcelmo was then able to continue with the excavation.
I was keen to retrieve Snow Elf artefacts for two reasons:
The first reason is the history of their exodus underground is not well known. At what stage did they realise the Dwemer were not benevolent at all? There is rumour of a Falmer uprising not long before the Dwemer vanished from Nirn. Even Knight-Paladin Gelebor is sketchy on detail. He was isolated from much of what happened.
The second reason is lost Magicka knowledge. We need to make reliable teleports and All three Mer races that had developed them, Ayleid, Dwemer and Snow Elf, were nearly extinct. The Direnni Hegemony also developed teleports, modified Ayleid forms, it but were unsafe. People vanished never to be seen again or would walk out of the portal years after they entered.
These are the four new Sentinel that make up the Squad.
Golldir is a Nord Sword and Board warrior. In 4E 202, a Whiterun Guard told me of suspected necromancers at Hilgrund’s Tomb, in the eastern part of Whiterun Hold. When my companions and me approached the tomb, Golldir came running up and asked if we would help him.
Interred within the tomb are many generations of Golldir’s family. A Dunmer Necromancer called Vals Veran disliked his family and was inside the tomb using his relatives in unlawful ceremonies and experiments.
Golldir was terrified of the place because his father had locked him in there for three days as punishment when he was a child. His Aunt Agna had gone into the tomb by herself to try and stop Veran.
We agreed to help him find his Aunt and stop Veran.
We found Golldir’s Aunt dead and had to cut down many Draugr, and other undead, before we reached Veran.
I killed Veran and helped Golldir bury his Aunt in the family crypts.
Golldir then joined the Imperial Army and spent some years in Skyrim patrolling post the Civil War.
Ugor is a female Orsimer ranger. She has lived her entire life in the Largashbur Stronghold in the Rift.
After reading about my trip into Oblivion to confront Malacath, she decided I was a warrior worth following.
Ugor takes her role as a Sentinel very seriously. Like all Orsimer, her oaths are sacred.
She is slowly starting to relax more around the other races within The Sentinel. Her rigid sense of duty no longer excludes friendship and humour.
Ugor fights as a Sword and Board warrior.
Thorald is a Nord Sword and Board warrior and ex-Stormcloak.
I was browsing the market place in Whiterun not long after ending the Skyrim Civil-War. Olfrid and Idolaf Battle-Born were harassing Fralia Gray-Mane. Fralia’s son, Thorald, was missing and the two Battle-Born, a well-off family with strong Imperial ties, was telling her he was dead, and that it served him right for being a Stormcloak.
Fralia was sure her son was still alive.
I did not want to make a scene in the market place so waited for Olfrid and Idolaf to return to their home.
I knocked on their door, and they invited me in. I was the Hero of Whiterun, Hero of Solitude, Dragonborn, Imperial General and Thane of Whiterun. I had authority and was a potential political ally to the Battle-Born clan.
We sat down to have a good chat, and all was civil until I brought up the subject of Thorald. I could tell they were lying to me about what they knew so ordered Idolaf to tell me the truth. I outranked him by a long way, so he had no choice but to comply.
The Thalmor had arrested Thorald, and he was being held prisoner in Northwatch Keep. Idolaf said that General Tullius knew about the arrest and had ordered him to keep the information from the Gray-Mane family.
I went and told Fralia that I would get her son back from the Thalmor. She gave me a secret phrase so that Thorald knew I was to be trusted.
I went to the Solitude and met with General Tullius. He wrote me an order for the release of Thorald into my custody.
I had decided to go to Northwatch Keep solo and as General of the Legion, not the Dragonborn.
It was a risk when I rode up to the front gated of Northwatch Keep with the order to release Thorald. The Thalmor at Northwatch Keep knew Rigmor, and I had slaughtered the entire garrison when at war with The New Order of Alinor. Since they were supposed to have been rebels, the Aldmeri Dominion, and therefore the Thalmor at Northwatch Keep, could not object to that fact. I had not yet slaughtered dozens of Thalmor at the Embassy party but had killed many Thalmor not involved with the New Order.
The Thalmor guards reluctantly escorted me to Thorald. On the way, we passed prison cells full of civilians. They were not just Nords, but Argonian, Khajiit, Bosmer and Redguard. I knew they were not Talos worshippers, and as far as I knew the Dominion had no jurisdiction to arrest them.
We entered into the torture chamber where a senior Thalmor had been busy questioning Thorald. He grumbled as he released Thorald from his shackles. I whispered the code into Thorald’s ear, so he knew I was on his side.
I demanded they return his weapons and armour, which they did. I healed Thorald and asked if he was ready to fight. He nodded his head.
I asked to see the Thalmor in charge of the prison. When he arrived, I demanded that he release the prisoners unless he could show me legal papers authorising their incarceration. He laughed then signalled his men to attack.
Back to Back, Thorald and I wiped out the first two dozen that attacked us. We then made our way through Northwatch Keep killing at least another two dozen. We went outside and killed the twelve there as well.
After killing the entire garrison, we released the prisoners. I escorted them to Solitude while Thorald made himself scarce.
When I returned to Whiterun and told his mother, her smile made it worthwhile. She understood that Thorald would have to remain in hiding for now and not because he used to be a Stormcloak. The Thalmor would hunt him down for daring to escape their clutches.
There were already Thalmor assassination squads roaming Skyrim hoping to kill or capture me. The Dominion did not make any formal complaint to authorities as they knew the publicity would be negative. It was a private war between them and me.
I had heard nothing from Thorald till he turned up to apply for a Sentinel position. He became a guard in Windhelm soon after I rescued him and had made friends with Dunmer, Khajiit and Argonian citizens. He was never overly racist but is a proud Nord.
All guard units in Skyrim had weeded out those who still supported Ulfric’s ideals. Thorald ended up killing many of his previous Stormcloak allies throughout Windhelm Hold when they turned to banditry or continued racist attacks.
I do not doubt Thorald’s loyalty.
Morgan is a young Dunmer Master Mage of both Destruction and Restoration.
I first met her in Sun’s Dusk, 4E 203 when retrieving a relic called Nettlebane from some Hagraven. They had Morgan hostage, and I believe planned on sacrificing her in some dark ritual.
Morgan is a puzzle. She looks to be about thirteen or fourteen years of age but shows maturity and wisdom well beyond those years. She says her father died at the Battle of Whiterun when we stopped the New Order invasion. The Hagraven murdered her mother when they kidnapped her.
But how old is she?
Rigmor had chosen her to be one of the Master Mages assigned by The College of Winterhold. Arch-Mage Tolfdir and other mages I had spoken to thought she was a lot older than she appeared, but her parents were both in their early thirties when they died.
When Morgan decided she would like to be a Sentinel, I asked Serana if she would take her to see The Sybil at the Temple of Dibella in Markarth. I wanted to see if Lady Dibella could tell us what age Morgan is.
Lady Dibella said to The Sybil that Morgan’s soul was much older than her physical form. She warned that Morgan was of great interest to Necromancers and others who practised Dark Magicka, such as Hagraven.
I was in a dilemma. Morgan was young physically but ancient in some ways. Fourteen was the legal age for marriage in most provinces of Tamriel, but I could not shake the idea she was just a child who should be playing with Dolls and playing chasey.
Morgan eloquently defended her right to prove she was suitable as a Sentinel. Rigmor and I agreed on the one condition that her familiar was not to assist her.
She used to call her familiar Shadow, and at first, we all thought he was some sort of housecat. He is Alfiq, the smallest breed of Khajiit. Very rarely seen outside of Elsweyr and the most private of Khajiit Furstock. His real name is Jo’zaka.
Like Meeko, who I say is a dog who is not a dog, Jo’zaka is known as the cat who is not a cat. The ‘Jo’ part of his name indicates he is a wizard or scholar. He is adept at Illusion and Conjuration and can move in and out of a pocket plane in Oblivion whenever he wishes. He speaks to Morgan telepathically but does not communicate with anybody else.
Morgan proved herself as competent as any of the other Sentinel mages during assessment.
I have no fear either Morgan or Jo’zaka are associated with any of the Daedric Princes.
In all fairness, I had to accept Morgan as a Sentinel. Onmund, who I know well from my time as Arch-Mage, took over her position as one of the Master Mages assigned to Rigmor.
Morgan told me that Jo’zaka was delighted we trusted her with this vital role. She was also a bit sad she would not see as much of her lifelong companion as we were her guardians now.
Morgan knows things she shouldn’t! For instance, she asked me if I would create a staff for her at the Soul Forge and told me if I put Destruction Dweomer on it, they would be much more powerful than on other staves. She was right, and I have since distributed such staves amongst the other mages.
Morgan is both childlike and ancient. Curious and wise. Of all the beings I have ever met, only The Sybil has such a combination.
Morgan is a Spellsword now, and very competent with her dagger.
It was about 8:00 AM when we came out of the ether and docked at Markarth.
Inigo’s Squad warned them about my shape-changing. It was not a half-orc that came on deck, but a Wood Elf.
Like most of the holds, the Markarth Guards were wearing a new style of armour. A couple of years ago, they had to replace almost every single one of them. Some guards murdered Eltrys, a Nord Talos worshipper. They then pinned the blame on me. All Eltrys had done was ask me to investigate shady dealings between the Silver-Blood family and the Forsworn. Long story cut short; I killed nearly all the guards, who were corrupt, the King of the Forsworn, Nepos and other hidden Forsworn, and all the Cidhna Mine guards. Thonar Silver-Blood had begged for his life. I was sick of the whole thing and let him live.
There were no repercussions after that slaughter. The Jarl did not want it known his city was so corrupt that they tried to frame then kill The Dragonborn. It was also rather embarrassing for him that I wiped them all out solo. I would have killed the Jarl if he pushed the matter any further.
Calcelmo was a cantankerous old Dunmer scholar. Although he thinks he is ‘The Authority’ on the Dwemer, his contemporaries disagree, and so do I. Just before I talked to him, I removed the Dweomer, so I no longer looked like a Wood Elf.
I approached him and said, “Hello Master Calcelmo, sorry I could not come and see about your letter earlier, but you know how it is, Empire to run, pregnant Queen, Gods that need telling off, that sort of thing.”
“I am amazed you are still happy to crawl through dusty old ruins and caves.”
“Spend a day sitting on that awful throne with the most banal supplicants droning on and on. It makes you appreciate dusty old ruins and caves. What help do you need with these Snow Elf artefacts?”
“Well, it’s my Falmer translation tome. There are ancient references to old artefacts. What little I could learn suggests they maybe what I need to complete my research. Here, it is all in these notes.”
I am used to Calcelmo’s somewhat eccentric writings. He lets whatever is in his head spill out as written words. No real punctuation or attempt at grammar so I will not reproduce the relevant entries here.
From what I could surmise the starting place to look were the Dwemer ruins of Irkngthand. I had never been there but remember some rumours about the Thieves Guild showing great interest in the site. It was due west from Windhelm.
Xrib, an ancient God some say was worshipped by the otherwise Godless Dwemer, was also mentioned. The best place to find information on the Gods is the Temple of The Divines in Solitude. They have a library specialising in the subject.
I decided I would also visit the library at The College of Winterhold.
I turned myself back into a Wood Elf, and we made our way back to the airship without incident.
I piloted Nafalilargus and decided to fly over Irkngthand. Bandits infested it!
The Sentinel did a quick sweep of where I anchored before I joined them on the ground.
I told them, “There are dozens of bandits waiting for us. This fight will be your first against real enemies acting as a team. I will stand back and watch unless you get into trouble. I know you can handle this mob without breaking a sweat.”
Despite my flyover, the sentries outside a locked portcullis were too busy cooking lunch to notice us walk up. I gave the hand signal and watched as this Sentinel Squad fought real enemies together for the first time.
The Sword and Board trio outclassed the bandits by a considerable margin.
Morgan summoned a powerful Storm Atronach.
Then she attacked the bandits with the Soul Forge staff I made her and her dagger.
She ran at the last sentry outside the portcullis then embedded her dagger to its hilt. She was not afraid of getting close and bloody.
Archers fired from the ramparts. Their lives were soon cut short by the far superior marksmanship of The Sentinel combined with devastating Destruction spells from Morgan.
Another group of bandits ran at us in an entrance tunnel and were cut down with speed and, to be honest, brutality.
The Sentinel wiped out the first wave just before another attacked.
The bandits even used trained wolves and trolls.
Morgan was once again in the fray with her staff and dagger. Before I could intervene, she killed a child Argonian who had entered the melee. Morgan looked at the dead child for a few seconds, shook her head and continued the fight.
The Sentinel dispatched the second wave of attackers then took care of the remaining bandits from long range.
After about ten minutes of constant fighting, Irkngthand fell silent. Blood and gore covered The Sentinel, none of it their own.
We ran up a steep flight of stairs but encountered no more opposition.
At the door, I quickly used Detect Life and told The Sentinel, “Seems to be about a dozen bandits gathered at the bottom of a slope. We will go in with weapons sheathed, as they may wish to surrender rather than die. If they attack, keep upslope of them as that puts them at a disadvantage.”
We entered, and they attacked. Ugor asked, “Have they ever surrendered?”
“No, but there is always hope.”
Within seconds I bet they wish they had surrendered. There was a traitor in Legionnaire armour. He lasted seconds before The Void claimed him.
It was systematic and brutal slaughter.
As I looked over the carnage, I told The Sentinel, “You handled both outside and inside with skill and cooperation. I am more than impressed.”
The only other exit to the room was locked. The lock was a type of Dwemer mechanism colour coded to a large round device. In this instance, a blue key was needed to unlock the door.
We searched the bodies and the rest of the room. There was nothing useful on the bandits, and no sign of the Dwemer key.
I said, “We can go no further here. These bandits were most probably hoping some easy to kill archaeologists would walk through the door with the key. We will visit the Temple of the Nine in Solitude. They have a small library there dedicated to the different pantheons. I think we will find a clue as to where to look next.”
Morgan said, “You think there are other Dwemer ruins associated with these Snow Elf artefacts. You are hoping that the key to this door may be in one of them.”
“And why would I think that?”
“Because we have archaeologists who specialise in the Dwemer working at different sites, such as Master Calcelmo and Madras. There is no reason why the Dwemer did not have more than one Snow Elf specialist.”
“That is correct.”
“I know, and Jo’zaka also agrees. He says that maybe you are not as dumb as you look. He also said he is impressed by how quickly my fellow apes helped chop up the bad guys.”
“I thought he was not going to be your guardian anymore?”
“He just said that so I would concentrate on learning to work with the other apes.”
“Do you l like being an ape?”
“If you teach me that spell, I can be a Khajiit!”
“Yes, and if Jo’zaka is a real friend, he will lend you some of his fleas. It is not like he has a shortage of them.”
“Jo’zaka says you should do something with your private parts and a chicken. I am not quite sure what he means, but he promised me he would draw a picture later.”
“If Jo’zaka is going to materialise at any stage and help you, we need a warning. Otherwise he may get stepped on, and there is nothing worse than having to scrape smelly Alfiq from the bottom of your boots!”
“Jo’zaka says forget the chicken and go straight to a meat grinder. I still don’t understand.”
“I saw you kill that little girl Argonian. Was that different than killing the others?”
Morgan teared up then replied, “She would not have known the consequences and was probably never given a choice. The grownups chose to fight and knew the risks.”
“I did not see any adult Argonian, did you?”
“No, so maybe she was an orphan?”
“If even one of her parents were present, they would have done anything to stop her fighting. I don’t think that anybody who loved her was amongst those we killed.”
“I stopped, and Jo’zaka said it was not my fault and that I had to keep fighting.”
“I very rarely see children fighting. After all the adults died, we found many of the children in the orphanages hiding and scared. Just remember, you could not have done anything to save her in the middle of a melee like that.”
“Jo’zaka says the same. He will curl up with me when I got to bed. He says that he will stop me having bad dreams.”
“You are lucky to have a friend like him.”
“It was not luck; he chose me. It was destiny.”
Morgan smiled at me and dried away her tears. Destiny or not, that cat that is not a cat reminds me of Meeko in so many ways.
A giant automaton attacked us when we stepped outside. It lasted only seconds.
It was about 4:15 PM when we made our way back to the airship, and we arrived in Solitude two hours later.
We made our way to the Temple of the Nine. I warned The Sentinel, “You know I am pretty relaxed about most things. The sanctity of my Father’s House is not one of them. Please behave when within the walls of the Temple.”
We entered, and I dropped my Woof Elf disguise. Priestess Freir came up to me with a broad smile on her face, “As usual it is an honour to welcome you to this Temple of the Nine. What can I do for you, your Majesty?”
“I am just here to read some of the religious texts. I know there are copies at The College of Winterhold, but I felt like visiting this wonderful Temple instead.”
“You are always welcome. I will leave you to it then Majesty.”
Morgan scoffed at the single container of books and said, “That is not a library!”
“Originals of some of the most important religious texts ever written are kept here. It is just as much a library as that of the College or the Imperial City.”
“Jo’zaka is laughing at its size.”
“As I am sure even Skeevers do with him. Probably large rats as well.”
Morgan made a hissing sound then said, “That is what Jo’zaka thinks. I can’t translate it.”
I scanned the shelves and speed read some volumes. I soon found the one I needed called, ‘Encyclopaedia Bretonica The Gods Volume 9.’ The relevant section was short,
“Encyclopaedia Bretonica ‘The Gods’
Volume 9: X – Z
One of the few known gods to have been recognised by the otherwise greater-power-disdaining Dwemer race, Xrib required sacrifices in his name to obtain his favours. The form said favours took has not yet been discovered. An altar to Xrib, littered with the bones of former sacrifices, sits atop a mountain in North-eastern Skyrim.”
These are original texts, and most scholars would regard them as priceless. That did not stop Calcelmo from scribbling the following message in the margins,
“A Dwemer god! What kind of ‘research’ went into the making of this ridiculous series? Kind reader, let me direct you to ‘The Legacy of Dwemer Paragons’ by Hyminae Whippet. There you will discover the truth of who Xrib was. Calcelmo, Dwemer Scholar.”
I checked the shelves, but there wasn’t a copy of ‘The Legacy of Dwemer Paragons’. I could ask Urag at the College, but I was mad at the desecration of the book. Calcelmo could have left a note within rather than write in the margins.
I handed the book to Morgan. She read the section then said, “If he did this to a book in the Arcanaeum, Master Urag would cast a Fireball up Master Calcelmo’s rear end.”
“I will command him to repair the book and return it here. Let’s go see what the vandal has to say.”
It was just after 12:30 AM when we disembarked in Markarth.
Calcelmo’s assistants had all gone to bed, but I was not surprised to see he was still amongst his research materials.
He greeted me cheerfully, “Majesty, back so soon. Did you find anything?”
“Yes, I found some idiot vandalised an original copy of the Encyclopaedia Bretonica by scribbling in its margins. What do you think I should do with such a person?”
“Get them to clean it. It does not matter how long it takes; the vandal should have to restore the book to its original state.”
“Good idea, you can do that after you tell me where to find a copy of ‘The Legacy of Dwemer Paragons’”
I handed him the book. Calcelmo looked embarrassed as he read it then saw his comments. He said, “That was wrong of me. I promise to clean it up and personally return it to the Temple.”
“The book you mentioned?”
“There is a copy in my museum, which fewer people are visiting since yours opened.”
“I am sure we could arrange for you to put up some exhibits if you wished to do so.”
“You would have to stop those other scholars and me strangling each other first. I did visit in disguise to see that latest contraption they re-assembled. Very impressive!”
“The Planetarium? I have not had much of a chance to play with it. You can insert other Dwemer lexicons into it, and it may be a source of much new knowledge. Perhaps you need to just ‘agree to disagree’ with the others. At the moment I have to take bits of information from you and then the others to formulate an overall picture of things. Add what Urag gro-Shub has to say and sometimes it is like we are discussing a completely different race.”
“Faleen says the same thing. She says that some of the ruins you found overseas may be good starting points for cooperation. We will see.”
“I will go look in your museum for the book, and you make sure the repair of that tome is a priority. It is okay to put your comments down on a new page and bind it in there if you wish.”
Calcelmo bowed then walked to a table to start the repair of the vandalised book.
I quickly made myself look like a Wood Elf again, and then we walked to Calcelmo’s museum which was also part of Understone Keep.
My museum has duplicates of most of the exhibits, but it is still impressive.
It did not take long to locate the book. I read the relevant entry to The Sentinel,
“The Legacy of Dwemer Paragons
Xrib earned the title of Paragon by being the primary inventor of the science behind the creation of Automatons. He was the researcher who first discovered the way to breathe life into the constructs that changed Dwemer society forever. This breakthrough led to the bulk of the Dwemer peoples leading lives of relative leisure. They were able to focus on other pursuits, such as the continued advancement of Dwemer engineering.
My research indicates that Xrib’s university was most likely located in North-eastern Skyrim, possibly underneath the very mountain where a monument to his [her?] ‘godhood’ can be found.”
Morgan said, “So they did regard him as a God.”
“I think a paragon is somebody they admired but did not necessarily think ascended to some higher plane or form of existence. After all, the Dwemer did not revere Kagrenac as a God. He did try and create one though.”
“The Numidium. Jo’zaka wants to know why you don’t have a 1000ft tall automaton at home?”
“I have recently learnt that my father lost control of his one. Much damage and the slaughter of innocents happened against his wishes. It makes sense that if you create such an automaton using the souls of powerful mortals, you risk it becoming self-aware. I could never accept such a risk.”
“I agree, but Jo’zaka says you are a milk drinker.”
“That is not much of an insult coming from a house cat.”
“Jo’zaka is laughing. You win that round.”
I said to The Sentinel, “Neither of the books tells us exactly where to look for the temple. The only clue being North-eastern Skyrim and underneath an altar or monument. I am pretty sure that refers to the Sightless Pit. We might as well take a look.”
It was about 5:00 AM when we arrived at the Sightless Pit. I pointed to the totem outside of it and said, “That totem indicates the Falmer regard the pit as their territory. They will be inside in large numbers and be very hostile.”
The ice-covered rocks made the steep descent into the caves treacherous.
We all made it safely, and then I signalled for quiet. We could hear nothing so slowly proceeded in further.
Others had very recently decided to explore. There was no sign of them, and their food was burning over an open fire. Three bedrolls surrounded the fire.
We soon found them. Arrows indicated Falmer killed them. They should have taken notice of the totem at the entrance.
We soon came to the main entrance to the complex. I said to The Sentinel, “Careful getting down. You will need to jump from ledge to ledge, pipe to pipe. If you fall down the middle, you will die.”
We made it to the bottom without incident. I told The Sentinel, “I think the caves end here. It should be intact Dwemer ruins past this door. I never had cause to visit this place before, so that is just a guess.”
We entered, and as I had presumed, the place was mostly intact.
A spirit appeared then said something incomprehensible. Morgan told me, “Jo’zaka says the dead dwarf wants you to follow.”
“He understands their language?”
“He knows many things. He is very handy to have around.”
The first automaton we faced was very tough. It took a lot of effort to bring it down.
We next encountered the spirit standing in front of a Dwemer contraption. I could see it wasn’t the spirit of a Dwemer but that of a female Snow Elf. It faded as I approached.
I said aloud, “Seems our teeny weeny Khajiit friend is not always right.”
Morgan laughed, “Hahaha…I will not say what Jo’zaka just called you. It was obscene but amusing at the same time.”
A door exiting the room had a green lock. The door was unlocked and on the floor was an inert Dwemer key. It must have been used to unlock the door then lost all power.
I walked over to the contraption the spirit had been standing before. Intuition told me to put the inert key inside and close the lid. I did that, the lights on the contraption flashed then went out permanently. When I opened the contraption, the Dwemer key had a blue glow. I retrieved it, and we proceeded past the unlocked door.
Opening the already unlocked door triggered one of the more deadly traps in Dwemer ruins. Rotating blades travel up and down a set path slicing and dicing whoever gets in the way.
I leapt over them then pulled a lever to stop them.
In the next room were two Dwemer Centurions. I told The Sentinel, “They will most probably attack when we walk into the room. Sometimes pulling a lever or pushing a button does the triggering.”
Thorald decided to take the offensive and attack them first.
It was a well-coordinated attack, and both Centurions soon fell.
Inside the room were two Dwemer Stasis Chambers containing Snow Elf artefacts.
On the balcony surrounding the room were two buttons.
Pushing the buttons shut down the stasis fields protecting the artefacts, thereby allowing me to gather them both.
At the back of the room was a locked door.
I pulled a lever to open it.
The door led to a Dwemer Lift.
The Dwemer Lift took as to underground caverns full of Falmer, Chaurus and Giant Spiders.
The Sentinel made short work of them all.
We found a fancy sword. It had no Dweomer on it but was of superb quality.
A well-lighted, icy tunnel led away from the Falmer caverns.
More Falmer got in our way, and this time I joined in the slaughter.
Kyne had chosen a spider for my next marked kill.
After I killed it, Morgan said, “I think I can.”
“You will see!”
Sure enough, the next battle was joined by Kyne’s chosen spider reanimated.
We battled our way through and found we had completed a circle. We were back where the strange Dwemer apparatus was.
We took a left turn before the room with the Dwemer Centurions. At the end of the corridor was a barred door. Standing in front of it was an angry spirit.
Morgan laughed then said, “That can’t be very warm. You can almost see her rude bits.”
“She is dead Morgan. I don’t think she cares about modesty or warmth.”
The spirit looked at me, and although I could not understand the words, the venom in her voice was unmistakable.
Morgan gasped, then thrust her dagger into the spirit which disappeared with a loud wail.
“What got you so angry?” I asked her.
“Jo’zaka said she called you a filthy robber. That was not nice and a lie.”
“Perhaps she thought we stole her underwear?”
“Jo’zaka says you are weird and wonders if anybody has ever told you that.”
“Many people, many times.”
I lifted the bar then opened the door.
I could feel a breeze, so knew the narrow tunnel led to the outside. Up ahead was a creature I have only seen once before. They are called Gehenoth, and reports say they can be very powerful.
I used hand signals to tell The Sentinel to go into stealth mode and leave the Gehenoth to me.
Just as it noticed us, Kyne marked it.
One arrow to the head from my bow and it died without coming near us.
Just past its corpse was the exit to Skyrim. I warned The Sentinel, “Some aggressive Dov live around here. Just keep an eye out for them. Do not attack unless they do.”
We exited, and two dragons were flying high overhead but did not approach. We boarded Nafalilargus without incident.
I asked J’zargo to ether us to Winterhold. It was time I checked in the Arcanaeum for more information.
I sat and had a meal with The Sentinel, and we talked about what had happened so far. They all agreed they were working well together and expressed surprise at how the synergy just seemed to occur without effort.
Jo’zaka made an appearance and listened in on the conversation.
When he got bored, he headed downstairs with Meeko and Karla.
I asked Morgan, “They are determined to master the hammocks, aren’t they?”
“Jo’zaka says that if apes can use them, so can superior four-legged beings.”
“What does he think of Inigo?”
“He thinks Inigo should be the Emperor. The Empire has tried every other species and failed each time. It is obvious a Khajiit is needed to run it properly.”
“Elsweyr is such a good example of a well-run country! Divided in two, allowing the Dominion to take control. Crying into their milk when the moons vanished.”
“We know they have a new leader who can end the division. We both hope that happens before the Akaviri invasion.”
“As do I Morgan. Very much. A strong Elsweyr will be crucial to our chances of victory.”
“And you love the Khajiit!”
“Yes, I do. The Khajiit know how to enjoy life and family is very important to them. They have few religious hang-ups, and racism does not exist. If they do not like a country or a people, it’s due to past or current deeds, not race.”
A few minutes later, we heard some loud thuds as the superior four legs fell off the hammocks.
We docked at Winterhold just on 2:30 PM.
We crossed the bridge, and I looked back at Nafalilargus. I often wonder how much I could have got done in the last couple of months without it.
We entered the Arcanaeum, and Urag came straight up to us. He knew it was me, not a Wood Elf, who had come to visit.
He asked, “What can I do for you, whatever your name is this time?”
“I am aiding Master Calcelmo with some research. I am looking for anything that might help with the Snow Elf Exodus.”
“Are you sure he is not sending you on a fruitless search. His theories are often misguided.”
“So far, it is tracking true. As a scholar, you should realise the events of the Snow Elf Exodus are not well known. Do you have anything that might help?”
“Let me give you some obscure books we have on them. Perhaps something within might provide a clue or two.”
“That would be appreciated Master Urag.”
The old Orsimer looked at Morgan then said, “I am glad you have passed the tests and are now a Sentinel. I know you will do your best as you always do. Spare some time if you can and become Master in the other Schools of Magicka. You have the ability.”
Morgan smiled and replied, “Queen Rigmor and the Emperor can now rotate The Sentinel. I will be able to spend a couple of weeks every second month learning from you and the other Masters. I look forward to it.”
Urag returned Morgan’s smile, and I had never seen him smile before!
He wandered off and came back a few minutes later with a pile of books he unceremoniously dumped into my arms. He then wandered off again and was soon tearing strips off an apprentice who dared opened a book with dirty hands.
I placed the pile of books on a table and read them top to bottom.
The first book was titled, ‘That Wasn’t Very Funny’. It was a compendium of Dwemer jokes, and I will avoid irreparable damage by not quoting any of them. I discarded that book.
The second was titled, ‘This is Awful’. It was a compendium of Dwemer recipes and of no interest to anybody but a gourmet chef who hates his clients. I discarded that book as well.
‘Dwemer Sexuality. Volume 3.’ was the title of the third book. It was obviously of no use, so I did not even bother reading any of it.
The next book had a promising title, ‘Dwemer History and Culture.’ Popular stories and penny-dreadful publications inaccurately depict the Dwemer. The book was a collection of essays by a scholar who was tired of this fact. It was well written, and I agreed with the author, but it wasn’t of any use in understanding the exodus.
The last book was fascinating. It did not explicitly give details on the exodus but did support the theory the Falmer rebelled against their Dwemer overlords. The book’s title is, ‘The Falmer: A Study’ and I read part of it to The Sentinel,
“The Falmer: A Study
I have studied, and travelled, and explored, and observed, and my hypothesis has finally been confirmed: that the twisted Falmer that inhabit the darkest depths of Skyrim are indeed the Snow Elves of legend.
No one really knows when the story of the Snow Elves began, but the ancient work “Fall of the Snow Prince,” which is an account of the Battle of the Moesring as transcribed by Lokheim, chronicler to the chieftain Ingjaldr White-Eye, gives a rather vivid account of its ending.
According to this eyewitness account, the great Falmer leader known only as the Snow Prince died in glorious battle, and was buried with honour by his Nord slayers. The remaining Snow Elves were scattered or slain, and were never heard from again, or so many assumed.
But where the story of the ancient Snow Elves ends, that of the current-day Falmer begins. For when the Snow Elf host shattered on that fateful day, it did not merely disperse – it descended into the earth, deep underground. The Falmer sought sanctuary in the most unlikely of places, such as Blackreach, far beneath the surface of Skyrim, in the legendary realm of the Dwemer themselves.
Yes, Blackreach exists. I have been there, and unlike most of those who have witnessed its terrible glories, I have returned. And I now know the truth about the Falmer.
After their defeat by the Nords, the dwarves of old agreed to protect the Falmer. They did but at a terrible price. For these Dwemer did not trust their Snow Elf guests, and forced them to consume the toxic fungi that once grew deep underground. As a result, the Snow Elves were rendered blind.
Soon, the majestic Snow Elves were rendered powerless. They became the dwarves’ servants… and then their slaves. But the Dwemer betrayal was so deep, so complete, that they made the fungi an essential part of the Falmer’s diet. This trick guaranteed the weakness of not only their current Falmer slaves, but their offspring as well. The Snow Elves, for time eternal, would be blind.
But as is always the story with slaves and their masters, the Falmer eventually rebelled. Generations after they first sought solace among the dwarves, and experienced bitter betrayal, the Falmer rose against their oppressors. They overthrew the dwarves, and fled even further down, into Blackreach’s deepest, most hidden reaches.
For decade upon decade, the two sides waged a bitter conflict. It was the full-fledged and bloody “War of the Crag” that raged deep below Skyrim’s surface. A war that was utterly unknown to the Nords above, a war whose battles and heroes must forever remain lost to our knowledge. Until one day, the war ended. For on that day, the Falmer went to meet their Dwemer foes in battle, only to find that the entire race had vanished.
Finally, free from the threat of their Dwemer overlords, the Falmer were able to spread freely throughout Blackreach. But years of fighting the dwarves had left them bloodthirsty and brutal. Feeling the need to conquer, to kill, they began mounting raids to the surface world.
And so, the legends began. Of small, blind, goblin-like creatures who would rise from the cracks of the earth, in the dead of night, to slaughter cattle, attack lonely travellers, and steal sleeping babes from their cribs.
In recent years, however, the sightings of these creatures have become more and more frequent. Their raids, more organised. Their attacks, more brutal. One might even conclude that the Falmer are ready to change once again. Could it be true? Are the Snow Elves of ages past prepared to reclaim their long-forgotten glory? Are they ready to surge to the surface, and make war upon the “light dwellers”?
If that happens – if the Falmer are indeed planning on reconquering Skyrim – I fear a horror neither man nor gods could stand against.”
I asked, “Anybody have any questions? I found this an interesting piece of history.”
Morgan asked, “What is a Dwemer marital aid, and why should I study them?”
To my horror, she had been reading the book on Dwemer sexuality. I snatched it from her and read the introduction to myself,
“Now, with the third and final volume of our series, gentle reader, we may begin the discussion of the practical applications of what we have learned thus far. I strongly suggest that students of this topic conduct field research into the types and uses of Dwemer marital aids.”
Morgan stood, waiting for an answer. The other Sentinel were trying to suppress the giggles.
“Uhm, it is not a topic for you to discuss with me. Ask one of the women. Yes, that is the answer. Asks Ugor!”
“Jo’zaka said you would chicken out.”
“And what does he say about the subject?”
“That I should ask a female.”
Morgan walked up to Ugor and demanded, “Well? What is that all about?”
I left Ugor to tackle with that problem and sought out Urag. He asked, “Did you find anything of use?”
“No, are there any other books that might cover the topic?”
“Some Synod members came in a while ago and borrowed books on the Dwemer. They also enquired if we had anything on Mzulft. The books were due back last week, so perhaps they went to those ancient ruins and found trouble.”
“I bet they did! Those idiots are always finding themselves in trouble. I suppose we might as well visit Mzulft.”
Just then we heard Morgan exclaim loudly, “No way! That is gross! I am sorry I asked!”
As we walked to the airship, Morgan stared straight ahead and did not ask about that topic again.
It was just on 6:30 PM when I anchored near Mzulft. The Sentinel did a quick sweep, and I climbed down the ladder to join them.
Morgan then yelled out, “Bandits approaching!”
We ran down the steps, and I observed as The Sentinel made short work of the bandits and a trained bear.
The steps to the Mzulft main entrance were many and steep. Last time I explored the ruins, I had done a thorough job and doubted whatever the Synod were after was in the main structure. I decided to look at one of the smaller towers connected to it.
We stopped at the doorway, and then I cast Detect Life. I told The Sentinel that there was nothing close to the entrance.
We entered silently and could hear the tell-tale pitter-patter of spiders of various sizes.
There were dozens of them. Inigo would have had loved the place!
After we killed them all, I found one Synod mage wrapped and ready for supper.
I cut away the webs and searched the corpse. All I found were a few septim and a key.
We made our way back to the main room. There was enough Aetherium stored there to make a person very rich.
There was also a locked travel chest. I opened it, and inside were several books on Dwemer history, including one I had never seen before titled, ‘The Fall of the Snow Elves’. I read the relevant passage to The Sentinel,
“The Fall of the Snow Elves
How the Falmer found themselves the blinded slaves of the Dwemer
The Order of the Skysisters, as the Snow Elves called them, waited until the human hordes were almost upon them before finally taking refuge in the last remaining Dwemer city to offer them ‘hospitality’. It is said that the Skysisters were more suspicious of the Dwemer and their intentions than the other Snow Elven houses, and therefore held out initially. Eventually faced with the inevitability of the coming onslaught, they had no choice but to accept the terrible Dwemer bargain and take refuge in the depths of Alftand. Some scholars also say that the Skysisters were the first group of Snow Elves to be fed the poisonous algae and therefore discover the Dwemer’s real intent, which was the enslavement of their entire race. There are references in Dwemer texts of this wing of Alftand being sealed shut after ‘an incident’ there. However, no scholar to my knowledge has ever discovered a further explanation of what occurred there.”
Thorland asked, “Didn’t you spend a long time exploring Alftand?”
“Yes, I have been there twice, and like Mzulft, I doubt what we are looking for is in the main structure. There are many towers there that I have not explored.”
“So off to Alftand then?”
“Yes, but it will be rather late when we get there. We will not explore it till tomorrow morning.”
Morgan said, “Jo’zaka has a theory on that spirit who guides us.”
“That she was a member of the Skysisters? I thought the same.”
“She would want us to retrieve important objects from her slavers.”
“Yes, she would. The one that was mad at us and called me names is the mystery.”
It was just before 11:00 PM when I anchored Nafalilargus at Alftand. I had seen a Dwemer Dragon automaton watching us from atop one of the towers, but it did not take off and attack.
I warned The Sentinel, “We shall climb down and see what it does. It may have the soul of a Dov but is mindless and will act like all other Dwemer automatons. It did not regard the airship as a danger, probably because of Nafalilargus’ skeleton, but will likely attack us.”
Golldir confidently said, “A single dragon. That should not be a problem, should it?”
“Their strength is random. Some are pushovers, and others are the toughest I have fought apart from Alduin. They all summon powerful automatons to aide them. So, you will be fighting Dwemer Centurions and other nasties at the same time.”
“Are you going to help us?” Golldir asked worriedly.
“I will assess the strength of it and decide. If I think the Squad should be able to handle it, I will stand and observe. I will use Dragonrend to bring it to the ground no matter how powerful it is.”
“Where do they come from?”
“Somewhere in Blackreach, I assume. New ones always appear no matter how many we destroy. Where and how they get to the surface, I also do not know. I wonder how many Dov souls are trapped, ready to be used in such a manner?”
We climbed down the ladder and at first all was quiet.
Then with a roar, the mechanical dragon attacked.
It was too powerful for The Sentinel, so I brought it down with Dragonrend and joined the fight.
Tonal Architects and Dwemer Centurions made the fight even harder.
Eventually the mechanical Dovah succumbed to the combined might of The Sentinel and me.
The Sentinel watched on in fascination as I absorbed its soul.
I planted an airship beacon so it could not just be recalled elsewhere without approval.
Morgan yelled, “A troll! It is all mine! Jo’zaka hates trolls!”
She ran in front of it and killed it with spells from hand and staff.
We retired to Nafalilargus’ cabin and had a late dinner. Then I wrote this journal entry as the others shuffled off to get some sleep.
I retired to my empty cabin and wondered how the last two days for Rigmor have been.
I climbed into bed pleased with the performance of this Sentinel Squad.
I know not what time I fell asleep.