Temple of Trinimac, Solstheim: Malacath’s puppet.
I climbed down the ladder of Nafalilargus to do a quick tour of the dig camp just after 8:00 AM. The Explorers Guild members had arrived late yesterday afternoon with the platoon of Legionnaires assigned to escort them.
General Tullius was concerned about the Falmer threat. He had placed a veteran, Legate Kjaldesen, in charge of the platoon. A Legate is many ranks above the standard sergeant or lieutenant usually given such a command. The Legionnaires billeted at the east end of the small valley which contains the dig site. East is the direction we can expect trouble as it borders on Forsworn territory.
I spotted a Forsworn patrol right next to the camp and approached solo with weapons sheathed. Three of them took up a fighting stance but recognised who I was. They made no hostile moves. I was well aware of others hiding close by.
I said to them, “The peace your people have enjoyed will continue as long as you obey the rules. It is simple. If you break Empire law withing sight of the Legionnaires, justice will follow as with any other citizen. If you want to have your lands within The Reach; you must earn it. You know this, so don’t let your elders down.”
They said nothing as I walked the short distance back to the camp to speak to the Legate.
“Legate Kjaldesen, I told the local Forsworn to behave. Do not hesitate in applying the same rule of law to them as to any other citizens of The Empire.”
“Will do Majesty. I have already ordered the soldiers not to react to provocation or to return insults.”
“Large Goblin war parties used to roam this area. There are also a couple of dragons with self-inflated egos who may cause problems.”
“Surely not if they see you in camp, your Majesty.”
“I would hope they are smart enough never to cause problems.”
“The men are ready to deal with anything Majesty.”
I saluted the Legate and went to chat with Rigmor.
I told her, “I am about to start the excavation. We can fit three people safely in the overhang and will rotate the diggers every hour.”
“But we have no idea how long to clear the rockfall altogether?”
“No, but it is relatively loose, so it won’t be like smashing your pickaxe against granite or similar.”
“Meeko keeps looking west towards Arkngthamz and growling.”
“If anything comes from that direction, he will give us plenty of warning. I have seen no signs of Dov or Goblin so maybe a couple of bandits. They would be suicidal to even approach with weapons drawn.”
“Well, have fun wielding a pickaxe. I might have to check out your technique, make sure you are doing it right.”
“Sorry Rigmor, my armour stays on when danger lurks.”
Rigmor gave me a peck on the cheek then walked off to discuss with Illia what to throw into the day’s stew.
I walked into the main tent and found Inigo staring at a pickaxe.
“Looking forward to your stint at the rock face?” I asked him.
“I don’t know if I have the energy.”
“So, you ‘comforted’ Latoria then?”
“You should have warned me how much comforting she would need.”
“I can foresee a new bestseller titled, ‘The Lusty Khajiit Archaeologist’”
“I think a quill would be too heavy this morning.”
“I could whip up a batch of stamina potions for you.”
Inigo growled as I left the tent
A couple of the Explorers Guild were so keen they had started chipping away at 7:00 AM. Auryen was about to finish his turn with the pickaxe when I approached him.
“Good morning Auryen. Is this the right place for the dig?”
“Yes, I found some interesting ceramic tiles earlier. I think we are on the right path here. This site shows real promise!”
“That is good to hear. I was pleased Kyre confirmed our suspicion it was a deliberate landslide.”
“It is good his geology expertise backed up the instincts of you and Inigo. I would never have realised there had been a landslide here, deliberate or not!”
“Did you bring all of the relics we have that are related to the Sun Elf pantheon?”
“Yes. Staffs, rings, bracelets, amulets and other assorted items. No weapons though, there was nothing special about any of those you retrieved lately.”
“I have Auriel’s shield and bow in the airship if we need them.”
“All the items fit easily into Eriana’s backpack, but we distributed them among us just in case, you know, something bad happens again.”
“After what happened to Professor Marassi, I think we will all be extra cautious from now on.”
“It was a sad reminder of how dangerous this occupation can be.”
“That it was. Well, my turn to dig now, so go have a rest.”
Auryen wandered off with a bag full of tiles and pottery shards. As valuable to him as a bag of gems, I am sure.
Kyre was doing a double stint and attacked the rocks with determination.
Latoria was headed over for her turn, and I noticed a bit of a limp.
“Good morning Latoria. Have you hurt your foot somehow?”
“Madras should be more careful. He rolled a large rock, and it went right over Latoria’s foot! The silly fool.”
“In that case I want you to get the mages on the airship to have a look at it. Send Inigo over to take over your shift, and you can do his after.”
“Latoria has tried to talk to him several times this morning, but he keeps avoiding her.”
“Then send Thorland down.”
Latoria set off to do as I asked, and I started my stint with the pickaxe.
I decided to attack the corner and work along the wall of the cave.
I was wearing my armour with the anti-fatigue Dweomer, so I did not feel tired after an hour. I decided to continue and did six hours straight. I was motivated by anger at the fate of Professor Marassi and a feeling of dread.
A bigger cave emerged after six hours of back-breaking work. There was still no sign of an entrance to any ruins.
I was walking towards the main tent when a large group of bandits attacked from the west. The Sentinel and Rigmor systematically slaughtered them as I watched. Rigmor decided to use her sword instead of a bow, but I had no fear for her. These were lowlife scum she faced.
Legate Kjaldesen arrived just as the last enemies fell.
As everybody else went back to whatever they were doing, he stood dumbfounded amongst the pile of dead.
“First time you have seen The Sentinel in action?”
“Yes, Majesty. It was the also the first time I have seen my Queen wield her sword. You were standing and watching, and I wondered why. Now I know.”
“There were at least forty bandits. The airship is here so they must have realised who they faced. Sometimes I just don’t get the suicidal impulses of bandit gangs.”
“They probably heard stories and scoffed at them like I did. At least I am alive after learning the truth.”
“I want your platoon to dispose of the bodies in a reasonably deep pit. Take any loot on the corpses back to headquarters. I am sure your quartermaster can find use for the coin.”
The Legate saluted, and I went to find Rigmor.
I found her stirring the stew pot, which was almost full once again. During lunch, half of its contents were consumed. Since then, people have been throwing in their favourite ingredients. Rigmor had a grim look on her face.
“What has upset you, my Queen?” I asked her.
“Why do they still do it, Wulf?”
“Which, resort to banditry or attack suicidally?”
“Both. I just don’t understand.”
“Neither do I Rigmor. Neither do I.”
‘How much longer before you get to the temple entrance?”
“I have no idea. But at least we know we are digging in the right place!”
“Will that Deathweaver be there?”
“I hope so. I need to kill the bastard for what he did to Professor Marassi.”
Remembering my friend’s death motivated me to go back to the wall and start chipping away again. I found Kyre and asked him, “Enough of a break, I think. I am starting again, care to join me?”
“Yes, let us get back to it. I think we are almost there.”
“I don’t, but we will never get there by talking.”
We started hacking away at the rock wall once again and finished five hours later. In total, it was eleven hours of hard digging to expose the entrance to the Temple of Trinimac.
The Explorers Guild members were keen to go and waited at the cave mouth while I gathered The Sentinel.
Rigmor did as we planned and headed inside Nafalilargus. The Sentinel and guild members joined me inside the small cave where Snow Elven architecture was in plain sight. I said to the Explorers Guild members, “You are all capable of handling Falmer in battle. However, I advise you to let me tackle Deathweaver solo if we encounter him. We are unsure of his abilities, but I am safe from many types of attack and damage that the rest of you, including The Sentinel, are not. Dreamweaver has already killed one friend, let’s not let him add to the tally. Leave him to me. Agree now or stay behind!”
I stared at each guild member and waited for a verbal acceptance from each individual before proceeding into the ruins.
The entrance was a very narrow tunnel with Aetherium ore in the walls and ceiling.
A wall that probably belonged to the temple complex appeared before us.
To the left, behind Kyre, was another narrow tunnel. Inigo wrinkled his nose and whispered, “There is a smell like concentrated Falmer pee coming from that tunnel.”
Latoria added, “Latoria also smells Falmer shit. Enough to make this Khajiit queasy.”
I said to the guild members, “You are to stay behind The Sentinel. No talking or whispering and crouch down low. All those with torches are to extinguish them.”
Once enveloped in darkness, we started to creep along the tunnel.
We soon came to a large cavern and below on a plateau, a gate with Auri-El’s symbol on it. I could have reached it using Whirlwind Sprint, but that would have left the others to find a way by themselves.
I looked around and could see at least a dozen Falmer on sentry duty. I hand signalled The Sentinel, and we quietly crept into the cavern to start the slaughter.
We found at least a dozen corpses of civilians. They were fresh and evidence these Falmer had been conducting surface raids very recently.
We exited the cavern and crawled along more narrow tunnels.
We found a ladder and climbed it.
It led to the gates with Auri-El’s symbol that we spotted earlier. In front of it was a familiar lock mechanism. I asked the guild members, “The door is locked, but the means to unlock it is quite common. Have a look and tell me what you think.”
Auryen and the rest took turns examining the door and the slot in front of it.
- Auryen: This appears to be a slot of some sort, probably for the placement of something that will unlock the door.
- Wulf: Correct. But what? The depth and width of the slot is often a clue.
- Auryen: As we discussed earlier today, I did bring all of the artefacts to do with the Snow Elf Gods. But there is nothing amongst them that fits this slot.
- Kyre: There doesn’t seem to be any way of unlocking this door manually, so the Emperor is most likely correct. There must be a connection between the slot and the lock on this door.
- Wulf: I am correct. I have seen similar dozens of times. Let me have a closer look.
I knelt and scrutinised the slot. By shining my lantern into it, I could see its depth and how the hollow tapered off to a point.
Looking at the door once more, I confirmed that the symbol was a similar lock to those in the Great Chantry of Auri-El.
- Wulf: We need something pointy and long. Most likely a weapon. That is Auri-El’s symbol on the door, but that is very common in Snow Elf ruins. So, I would say we need a weapon that is not thick, is relatively narrow and long and tapers to a sharp point. Swords, spears and daggers fit those criteria.
- Latoria: But not something associated with Alkosh.
- Wulf: No, as he is head of their pantheon, his symbol is used often. This place is a Temple of Trinimac. Therefore, it logically follows the lock could require a weapon associated with him. I can’t recall reading about any relics that might suffice.
- Auryen: That is because Trinimac is not known to have created a namesake relic like Phynaster, Syrabane and many other Gods of various pantheons. So, I am also unsure as to what it may be.
- Wulf: Sometimes, it is not a namesake relic but one associated with the God’s champion. The armour I am wearing has Dweomer bestowed by each of the Nine Divines of the Imperial pantheon, which is fitting since I am Champion of The Divines. The Nerevarine was the Champion of Azura yet wielded weapons not made by her or associated with her.
- Auryen: Oh, that its! Thank you for the clue Majesty. What was Trinimac to Auri-El?
- Wulf: He was Auri-El’s champion. The warrior spirit of the Snow Elven people.
- Kyre: The Snow Prince! If Trinimac was their warrior God, undoubtedly their most famous mortal warrior must have been a devout worshipper.
- Auryen: That was the link I was thinking of when his Majesty mentioned The Nerevarine. The spear of the Snow Prince might very well be the key to the door.
- Wulf: The Nerevarine retrieved items that belonged to the Snow Prince. Before he left for Akavir, he placed them inside the Snow Prince’s tomb. Do you have any idea where that is?
- Auryen: I don’t think all items were retrieved. For instance, the magnificent armour the Snow Prince was wearing when killed. But I am positive the spear was. The Snow Prince’s tomb is called Jolgeirr Barrow and is on the isle of Solstheim.
- Wulf: Lucky we have Nafalilargus otherwise we would face days of travel. We have airship beacons in Raven Rock and two other places in Solstheim. It will take just two hours to get to Solstheim via the ethereal plane. I don’t know precisely where Jolgeirr Barrow is till I look at the maps I have. You cannot remain in here unguarded, so we shall all return to the dig camp together. Then I will immediately leave for Solstheim.
- Kyre: Okay, after the bandits committed suicide earlier, I doubt if anything will attack the camp again.
- Wulf: Before I do this Auryen, how sure are you the spear will be in Jolgeirr Barrow? I do not want to disturb the Snow Prince’s tomb just to find the spear was never there.
- Auryen: It has not appeared since the departure of The Nerevarine. If such an item were ever on the relic market or owned by a collector, I would know, so I am sure it will be there.
- Wulf: That’s good enough for me. Let’s head back to camp.
When we arrived back at camp, Legate Kjaldesen informed me there had been a skirmish with some Forlorn. The had waylaid pilgrims and became violent when he came to the civilians’ rescue. He said they lost a couple of men till he ordered that arrows be used instead of swords.
When we looked at the carnage, the dead Forlorn were those who I had warned earlier. The corpses looked like porcupines due to the number of arrows that pierced them. It is what happens when a platoon of well-trained Legionnaires stands back and fires a few volleys.
There was no need for me to tell the Legate what to do. He would allow the Forlorn to claim their dead. Hopefully an Elder will come and speak to him. I hope it was just foolishness on behalf of the young Forlorn killed as per Empire law dictates.
The Sentinel and I boarded Nafalilargus. I had a quick look at the Solstheim map, set the course to Raven Rock, then went to speak to my Queen.
Rigmor was preparing for bed in our private quarters.
“We are headed for Solstheim because there is a relic there that we need. It will unlock the door into the Temple of Trinimac.”
“Will it be dangerous, wherever it is you are getting it from?”
“I doubt it. I wiped out anything overly hazardous on that island years ago.”
“Good, then you won’t mind me accompanying you into whatever creepy ruins you are visiting.”
“I can think of no reason why not. If you were planning on getting some sleep, then do so. I will fly us to Raven Rock and then the tomb. You can get at least three hours rest.”
“Okay. I will see you when we get there!”
It was not long past 1:00 AM when we came out of the ether over Raven Rock and automatically docked. There were only a couple of Redoran Guards on duty, and one came running up the gangplank to ask if this was an official visit. When I told him we just had to retrieve some dusty old relics from a dirty, ancient tomb, he laughed and disembarked. I am well known to the Redoran Guards, and they are used to my ‘eccentricities’.
I disengaged the airship from the dock and flew us towards the tomb.
Where I anchored, Nafalilargus was very close to a sizeable Riekling village. From up high and using Detect Life, I could see they had come pouring out of their huts to stare at the strange sight of the airship. I used the Thu’um to call out,
“WE WILL NOT ATTACK IF YOU DO NOT ATTACK!”
Their chieftain had a quick and very animated discussion with several warriors. From their body language, common sense prevailed, and we will have no issues with them.
We climbed down the ladder onto the ash and sand. Rigmor was less than impressed!
“I am standing in the middle of an ash-covered desert, so why is it so damn cold?”
“Deserts get very cold at night as there is no cloud cover to hold in the heat. Not much further north Solstheim is as snow and ice-covered as Roscrea.”
Rigmor looked up, then exclaimed, “Look how pretty the polar lights are Wulf!”
They were pretty, even if Nafalilargus blocked our view.
Soon we stood before the entrance to Jolgeirr Barrow. I knew nothing of the place and warned the others, “Just be ready for anything. Rarely do I enter a cave or ruin with so little knowledge. But I doubt there is anything to be concerned about in there.”
Inside we followed a very short tunnel leading to a platform.
Upon the platform lay the remains of the Snow Prince. A huge Frost Giant took offence at our presence and charged.
Rigmor yelled, “FOR TALOS!” and ran at it with sword drawn.
I had seen her fight often enough to know when she was preparing for a maximum strength swing.
She killed the massive creature with a single blow!
The Sentinel all stood speechless except for Inigo who boasted, “I got a shot off! See my arrow embedded in his chest!”
I replied, “He was already falling and dead Inigo. Now you know why I meekly obey Milady.”
Rigmor gave a traditional, “Yeah, right, pffft!” reply to that blatant falsehood of mine.
I stood over the Snow Prince’s corpse and was shocked to find not even a scrap of clothing on it. His spear was in his hand where The Nerevarine had placed it. In the crook of his arm was a book which I delicately retrieved. It was titled, ‘Fall of the Snow Prince’ and I read it to the others.
“Fall of the Snow Prince
An account of the Battle of the Moesring as transcribed by Lokheim, chronicler to the chieftain Ingjaldr White-Eye
From whence he came we did not know, but into the battle he rode, on a brilliant steed of pallid white. Elf we called him, for Elf he was, yet unlike any other of his kind we had ever seen before that day. His spear and armour bore the radiant and terrible glow of unknown Magicka, and so adorned this unknown rider seemed more wight than warrior.
What troubled, nay, frightened us most at that moment was the call that rose from the Elven ranks. It was not fear, not wonder, but an unabashed and unbridled joy, the kind of felicity felt by a damned man who has been granted a second chance at life. For at that time the Elves were as damned, and near-death as ever they had been during the significant battles of Solstheim. The Battle of the Moesring was to be the final stand between Nord and Elf on our fair island. Led by Ysgramor, we had driven the Elven scourge from Skyrim, and were intent on cleansing Solstheim of their kind as well. Our warriors, armed with the finest axes and swords Nord craftsmen could forge, cut vast swaths through the enemy ranks. The slopes of the Moesring ran red with Elf blood. Why, then, would our foe rejoice? Could one rider bring such hope to an army so hopeless?
To most of our kind, the meaning of the call was clear, but the words were but a litany of Elven chants and cries. There were some among us, however, the scholars and chroniclers, who knew well the words and shuddered at their significance.
‘The Snow Prince is come! Doom is at hand!’
There was then a great calm that overcame the Elves that still stood. Through their mass, the Snow Prince did ride, and as a longboat slices the icy waters of the Fjalding he parted the ranks of his kin. The magnificent white horse slowed to a gallop, then a trot, and the unknown Elf rider moved to the front of the line at a slow, almost ghostlike pace.
A Nord warrior sees much in a life of bloodshed and battle, and is rarely surprised by anything armed combat may bring. But few among us that day could have imagined the awe and uncertainty of a raging battlefield that all at once went motionless and silent. Such is the effect the Snow Prince had on us all. For when the joyous cries of the Elves had ended, there remained a quiet known only in the solitude of slumber. It was then our combined host, Elf and Nord alike, were joined in a terrible understanding. Victory or defeat mattered little that day on the slopes of the Moesring Mountains. The one truth we all shared was that death would come to many that day, victor and vanquished alike. The glorious Snow Prince, an Elf unlike any other, did come that day to bring death to our kind. And death he so brought.
Like a sudden, violent snow squall that rends travellers blind and threatens to tear loose the very foundations of the sturdiest hall, the Snow Prince did sweep into our numbers. Indeed, the ice and snow did begin to swirl and churn about the Elf, as if called upon to serve his bidding. The spinning of that gleaming spear whistled a dirge to all those who would stand in the way of the Snow Prince, and our mightiest fell before him that day. Ulfgi Anvil-Hand, Strom the White, Freida Oaken-Wand, Heimdall the Frenzied. All lay dead at the foot of the Moesring Mountains.
For the first time that day, it seemed the tide of battle had turned. The Elves, spurred on by the deeds of the Snow Prince, rallied together for one last charge against our ranks. It was then, in a single instant, that the Battle of the Moesring came to a sudden and unexpected end.
Finna, daughter of Jofrior, a lass of only twelve years and squire to her mother, watched as the Snow Prince cut down her only parent. In her rage and sorrow, Finna picked up Jofrior’s sword and threw it savagely at her mother’s killer. When the Elf’s gleaming spear stopped its deadly dance, the battlefield fell silent, and all eyes turned to the Snow Prince. No one that day was more surprised than the Elf himself at the sight that greeted them all. For upon his magnificent steed, the Snow Prince still sat, the sword of Jofrior buried deeply in his breast. And then, he fell, from his horse, from the battle, from life. The Snow Prince lay dead, slain by a child.
With their saviour defeated, the spirit of the remaining Elven warriors soon shattered. Many fled, and those that remained on the battlefield were quickly cut down by our broad Nord axes. When the day was done, all that remained was the carnage of the battlefield. And from that battlefield came a dim reminder of valour and skill, for the brilliant armour and spear of the Snow Prince still shone. Even in death, this mighty and unknown Elf filled us with awe.
It is common practice to burn the corpses of our fallen foes. This is as much a necessity as it is custom, for death brings with it disease and dread. Our chieftains wished to cleanse Solstheim of the Elven horde, in death as well as life. It was decided, however, that such was not to be the fate of the Snow Prince. One so mighty in war yet so loved by his kin deserved better. Even in death, even if an enemy of our people.
And so, we brought the body of the Snow Prince, wrapped in fine silks, to a freshly dug barrow. The gleaming armour and spear were presented on a pedestal of honour, and the tomb was arrayed with treasures worthy of royalty. All of the mighty chieftains agreed with this course that the Elf should be so honoured. His body would be preserved in the barrow for as long as the earth chose, but would not be offered the protection of our Stalhrim, which was reserved for Nord dead alone.
So ends this account of the Battle of the Moesring, and the fall of the magnificent Elven Snow Prince. May our gods honor him in death, and may we never meet his kind again in life.”
My temper rose as I read the book. When I finished, my Dovah stepped forward. I growled, “Fucking Ysgramor and the Nord glorification of senseless slaughter! Every Snow Elf deserved to be revered as much as the Snow Prince. But no, they were not warriors, so fuck them! Kill them all including the non-combatants! Why? They tried to prevent the Nords from getting access to The Eye of Magnus. A weapon that, if the Snow Elves had wanted to wage war on the Nords, would have let them wipe out the invaders without breaking a sweat. Imagine the Dawn Magic of the Snow Elves amplified by that most powerful of relics! How dare other people attack a city of Nords the same way the Nords, when still Atmoran, had done to countless others. That was their justification for putting defenceless women and children to the sword. May the Gods damn Ysgramor and all who glorify him! There is a reason he never ascended and became a God. That reason being he was nothing but a butcher!”
“Look at me Wulf!” demanded Rigmor.
Still trembling with anger, I looked at the most beautiful thing on Nirn.
She said, “We know there are still Nords who think Ysgramor is some sort of hero. They are but a tiny fraction of the modern population.”
“Enough of them showed up to give Ulfric an army! People who think his soldiers were defending the right to worship Talos have their head up their arse. Ulfric wanted to be another Ysgramor. He wanted to kill elves. Being part of The Empire got in the way of that. Win Skyrim, secede from The Empire and go on a killing spree. That was his plan and how he recruited so many followers. It still sickens me to think about it.”
“Where are we right now my silly Dragonborn?”
“This island gifted was gifted to elves, the Dunmer, after the Red Mountain destroyed their homeland. Isn’t that an indication of how differently later populations viewed Mer? Our daughter will end the curse of racism and senseless hatred. She has to if she is to bring about the peace her prophecy promises.”
“I know, and I am sorry for letting my anger get a hold once more. Let’s go stop an idiot from giving others an excuse to wipe out the Falmer.”
I gently put the book back in place.
I reverently retrieved the spear and silently promised to return it after we made a copy for the museum.
The Snow Prince’s spear was of superb construction. The frost Dweomer on it was rather weak. He slew many Nords through courage and skill, not the power of his weapon.
The Sentinel, Rigmor and I caught a couple of hours sleep while the mages flew us back to the dig site.
It was about 4:00 AM when we climbed down the ladder. The Sentinel roused the guild members from their tents.
Everybody was soon suitably armed and armoured and ready to go, so we entered the world of the Falmer once more.
It was just after 4:30 AM when we were once more before the door to the Temple of Trinimac. We had encountered no Falmer on our way back.
I asked Inigo, “The smell of Falmer piss and shit earlier, that was far too strong for the number we killed, am I correct?”
“They made their way through the same tunnels as us then through the doors you are about to unlock. I think they avoid soiling the temple beyond those doors and come out here to do their business.”
“And yet Malacath is supposed to be the excrement of Boethia. He is Trinimac after passing through her digestive system. They are worshipping the biggest pile of dung in existence! It is like admiring a stool because the steak it started as was yummy!”
Inigo laughed as I made my way to the platform with the spear.
I inserted the spear into the slot.
And the doors automatically unlocked.
I said to the others, “Same warning as before. Leave Deathweaver to me.”
I did a quick scan with Detect Life then added, “About a half dozen Falmer are waiting on the other side.”
I quickly threw open the doors and my comrades swept in upon the Falmer who thought they had the element of surprise.
It was a quick and decisive massacre over in seconds.
We passed a large shrine in the form of Trinimac’s helm. I put my hand on it and could sense no Divine power within it.
Latoria said, “Latoria smells Falmer. Not their waste but living ones in great numbers ahead.”
I issued one final warning before proceeding, “The Sentinel know this but guild members, you must also remember. Do not get in front of me in battle unless we are already engaged in a melee! Spells cast by Master Mages do no damage to allies. There is no protection against my Thu’um. No dweomer that can be applied to armour or any other item to provide any protection. Being a friend is no protection. If you stand in front of my Thu’um, you will receive the same harm as the enemy!”
We could hear the distant guttural voices of many Falmer as I picked the lock on a gate.
The volume increased as we crept along a narrow corridor.
We came out onto a balcony. As if on cue, Deathweaver started a speech in front of dozens of his followers.
“My brethren, the time is nigh to emerge from the shadows, to cast off the chains of our enemies. Auriel and his ilk have forsaken us, save but one, Trinimac, for he too was deceived and cast down into darkness, to be reborn a twisted form as we have, and through him, through Mauloch will we have our revenge.
Though the true instigator of our demise is now beyond our reach, those who drove us to their doorstep are still dwelling above. Mauloch had blessed me with the voice which falls now upon your ears, and sight to see the way to our victory, gifts lost long ago.”
I watched Deathweaver closely and was sure he knew we had arrived. This speech was for us, not the Falmer. Otherwise he would be speaking Falmer, not Tamrielic.
“He has also blessed us with a great boon, the tool with which we shall exact our revenge on the overworld dwellers above. A vision of a temple in the ice, venerating his brethren, which holds the Neb-Crescen, the Blade of Treachery. With this weapon we shall wreak havoc, and the world above shall burn!”
I had enough of the theatrics and knew Deathweaver was about to announce his surprise at our presence. I let my Dovah take over, and he was mightily pissed off! My Thu’um shook the cavern with its force as I unleashed a full-strength Unrelenting Force. I can’t blame Auryen for crossing in front of me as the shockwave travelled across the cavern. Despite my earlier warning, he has not undergone the training of The Sentinel.
Dozens of Falmer smashed against the far wall, and many of them did not survive. Deathweaver also flew many meters from where he stood.
There was a hole in the ceiling that revealed a statue of Malacath. From it came beams of energy that no doubt helped Deathweaver regenerate. I did another full-strength Unrelenting Force and jumped down to follow its path of destruction.
Using Whirlwind Sprint, I was upon Deathweaver in seconds. He was temporarily distracted by an Atronach summoned by Illia or Latoria.
He was surrounded by a Dweomer that depleted my lifeforce at a terrific rate. Any of the guild members who did not stay away would die in seconds.
My only way of defeating Deathweaver was to inflict as much damage as I could as quickly as I could and hope I outdid the restoration abilities of Malacath’s beams. I used Fire Breath Shouts as I hacked into him with all the speed, skill and strength I could muster.
He screamed in pain and frustration and tried to run.
I ran to him and renewed my attack.
I did enough damage to kill him as I overwhelmed the restorative values of Malacath’s Dweomer with the ferocity of my Divine wrath. Instead of dropping dead, Deathweaver teleported to the floor.
Then he teleported away, utterly defeated.
I looked around. The others had killed all the Falmer that survived my two Unrelenting Force shouts, which was not many.
The Sentinel knew what they had just witnessed. The guild members thought it was a bit of a lark.
- Auryen: Yes, I think we’re all in one piece. That was really something.
- Madras: This isn’t any normal Falmer we’re dealing with here. A Daedric lackey, this one is.
- Auryen: It’s as his Majesty had feared, they are indeed worshipping some form of Malacath or Trinimac, and they aim to use whatever powers given them to attack the surface.
- Latoria: Yes, and with the kind of power we have seen with him, Deathweaver could cause a great deal of havoc up there!
Inigo stood in front of me.
- Inigo: Intelligent people, yet they prattle on like smelly bandits without brains. Have they no ears or eyes?
- Wulf: You have an Ice Spear sticking through the back of your helm. But you are right, they have missed what just occurred.
- Auryen: What have we missed?
- Inigo: You said, ‘Some form of Malacath or Trinimac.’ There is no Trinimac! As the Emperor pointed out before we entered, he was turned into a Daedra turd by Boethia. Look above you is that a statue of ‘Malacath or Trinimac’? Did you even notice the beams of power issuing from it?
They all looked up at the statue of Malacath who, if he could see what was going on, would issue forth a big Jolly Green Giant guffaw.
- Inigo: So that was one thing you did not see. How about the lovely Latoria’s statement about the power of Deathweaver? Did you not just witness his Majesty kill ninety per cent of the Falmer with two shouts, zip across to Deathweaver faster than the eyes could follow and then destroy him in seconds? I could not follow the combinations of sword strokes and shield bashes. Could any of you? While doing that he burnt the bastard to cinders with more Thu’um. In seconds he defeated the mighty Deathweaver and yet some of you are in awe of that losers’ relatively pathetic powers!
- Latoria: Latoria is both flattered and offended.
- Inigo: I can soothe your hurt feelings later.
- Latoria: Keep abusing us, so Latoria has more hurt to soothe.
- Inigo: As the lady pleases. You lot are also missing a huge clue. Are you all deaf?
- Latoria: They do not have the excellent hearing of Khajiit, but Latoria is also at a loss to what we were supposed to hear over the booms and shouts and Thu’um.
- Inigo: No, not during the battle but just before it. Think people!
A few seconds passed before Kyre smacked himself on the forehead a little too hard.
- Kyre: Ow! It is obvious now that I thought about it. Why did Deathweaver speak in Tamrielic and not Falmer?
- Madras: Because he wanted us to understand?
- Auryen: And that is why his speech started once we entered the cavern. He knew we were there all along!
- Wulf: Thank you, Inigo. You have learnt the same gentle method of teaching as me.
- Inigo: I also gave you time to put your dragon away. I can see it and smell it, and I fear it.
- Wulf: Malacath is not a genius. Either is Deathweaver. They think they are tricking us into doing their work for them. Why do you think they just told us their exact plan?
- Auryen: They may know where the Neb-Crescen is but do not have the means to retrieve it.
- Kyre: So, we do all the hard, dirty work to retrieve it but Deathweaver gets his grubby hands on it somehow.
- Wulf: That’s their masterplan. So, where is the so-called ‘Blade of Treachery’? Also, what the hell does it do? All I know is my friend Sheogorath made it, but its claimed powers seem confused, as you would expect from the Mad God.
- Auryen: Yes, the Neb-Crescen, also known as the Blade of Treachery, was made by Sheogorath. He gave it to Malacath as a trick or practical joke. The blade forces the wielder into a bloodthirsty rampage, and they attack friend and foe alike. Malacath beheaded his son with the sword. After that hilarity, Sheogorath reclaimed the blade.
- Wulf: Many weapons can produce a berserker type rage. An unskilled swordsman wielding a sword that makes him berserk is still an unskilled swordsman but with a weaker defence. I can make any of you berserk whenever I wish via spell or Thu’um. I could make you all berserk at once if I wanted to. So do not mistake what Sheogorath did as something special or unique! The weapon must have some other power.
- Auryen: It is not the use of the blade in battle that should concern us. I think its other ability, to sway people into acts of conquest and domination, is what Malacath wishes to exploit. Were Deathweaver to give the blade to a Jarl or Count for instance.
- Latoria: Then they might wage war with the others!
- Wulf: Not an issue in Cyrodiil or Skyrim. Maybe it might cause some mayhem in High Rock. No longer do citizens blindly follow the orders of their Jarl or Count or King. For instance, an order from Maven Black-Briar to attack Whiterun would end with senior nobility or even citizens dragging her to the gallows or chopping block. If one County or Hold were to attack another, I would march in with the Legions and decimate them in days. High Rock with their archaic views on nobility might be a different matter, but still, one Kingdom would not last long against an angry Rigmor and me leading many thousands of the best soldiers on Nirn against them. No, the best bet would be to cause chaos in somewhere like Elsweyr or another part of the Aldmeri Dominion. Destabilise the Dominion and who knows what may happen.
- Madras: They may be hoping fellow Mer do their dirty work and fight the Nords.
- Wulf: Malacath’s influence is persuasive; therefore, Dreamweaver does not fixate on the Nords. All surface dwellers are his enemy. That is what that sub-standard Daedric Prince has whispered in Deathweaver’s ears and what he believes.
- Inigo: There is somebody else at play here.
- Wulf: Yes, Inigo, there certainly is. The Snow Elf spirit is the one guiding us, not Malacath’s idiotic plan. They think they are leading us along when, in fact, she chose us and pointed out where to go. But I believe we need to resolve this step without her help.
- Kyre: Right, where is the Neb-Crescen locked away?
- Wulf: Deathweaver gave us the clues, and I can only think of one possible location. He said, ‘A vision of a temple in the ice, venerating his brethren, which holds the Neb-Crescen, Blade of Treachery.’
- Kyre: Where is a temple that venerates more than one Daedric Prince?
- Wulf: No, Kyre, you are thinking like a person who knows the difference between the types of God. Deathweaver sees no distinction between Trinimac and Malacath.
- Madras: So, the brethren of Trinimac would be the other Gods of the Snow Elf pantheon!
- Wulf: We know they have dedicated temples spread over Skyrim. Surely in their centre of both religion and administration, they would have more straightforward ways for the devoted to pray to their favourite God than traipse all over Skyrim.
- Auryen: A temple to all their Gods inside the Great Chantry of Auri-El?
- Wulf: No, but in the valley in which it resides.
- Auryen: That is worth checking out!
- Wulf: Yes, except for several problems. That place is enormous, and most of it covered in ice. We could spend years looking for the temple without even knowing if we are in the right area. Luckily, we can ask a Snow Elf who has lived there for thousands of years.
- Auryen: Knight-Paladin Gelebor!
- Wulf: If the temple is within the valley, I am sure he will gladly guide us to it. He would be keen to stop this group of Falmer wrecking the progress he has made with the local tribes. Plus, this Deathweaver is sprouting utter blasphemy!
- Madras: You have mentioned before you think Falmer within the Hidden Valley are willing to communicate and have progressed beyond the primitive savagery of others.
- Wulf: There have been very few intruders into their territories within the valley, so they have had time to think of things other than killing and defending their homes. They have made fantastic works of art and seem to have developed a unique pantheon of Gods. They are also in awe of uncorrupted Snow Elves.
- Auryen: Can you lead us to the Hidden Valley and Knight-Paladin Gelebor?
- Wulf: That is the other problem. I could take you the usual route, but I will not. The less people who know how to get to the Hidden Valley, the safer both the Falmer and Snow Elves will be.
- Kyre: So how do we get there?
- Wulf: You are all going to be part of a grand experiment. Within the College of Winterhold is a teleport that Knight-Paladin Gelebor helped us create. It will take us to one of the Wayshrine within the valley. From that Wayshrine, we teleport to another one where Serana and I killed the Knight’s brother. Knight-Paladin Gelebor will know we have used the Wayshrines and will be waiting for us there.
- Latoria: Latoria is worried about the ‘grand experiment’ part of your solution.
- Wulf: Only a few people have used the new teleport. So far, all have made it there and back in one piece and within seconds, not years.
- Kyre: Teleports can go wrong?
- Wulf: Only those created by people struggling with the Magicka and metaphysical concepts involved, which is any Mage alive today! Also, those that use Daedric Dweomer tend to make people occasionally disappear and never seen again. The ones in Evermore were like that. But this one was made by Knight-Paladin Gelebor using the Dawn Magic of the Snow Elves. It should be perfectly safe.
- Latoria: Latoria wonders if we all teleport at once?
- Wulf: No, a maximum of five or six at a time. That is why you will need to teleport the guild members while I teleport The Sentinel. The principle is straightforward. You concentrate on who you want to travel with you, and I find picturing them all standing together the most natural way, and trigger the teleport. As long as those you mentally picture are close by, they will teleport with you.
- Latoria: Latoria understands. When such a thing is commonplace, all peoples could use them. But at the moment mages have better minds for this visioning of others. Latoria is correct?
- Wulf: Latoria is correct. There is no danger if your visioning fails. People would just get left behind.
- Kyre: That would be a problem if we are trying to escape certain death and everybody vanishes but one or two unlucky individuals.
- Wulf: The chance of that happening will decrease as the use of such portals becomes second nature.
- Latoria: Do not worry, Latoria would not forget her friends even if something makes her a scaredy-cat.
- Wulf: Let’s get out of here and visit one of the prettiest places on Nirn.
After exiting the Temple of Trinimac I retrieved the Snow Prince’s spear.
We made our way back to the dig camp.
Shouting and yelling came from the east. A Dovah was attacking and slaughtering the Legionnaires!