Sundas, 21st Hearthfire, 4E 201 to Tirdas, 23rd Hearthfire, 4E 201

Skyrim quests: Elder Knowledge, Discerning the Transmundane, Alduin’s Bane.

Skyrim mods: Inigo.

Honeyside has a smaller spa bath than Breezehome and tiny compared to Silverpeak, which has three, but it was still a relief to get rid of the accumulated dirt and grime of our travels.

I then broke my fast on the decking overlooking the lake. Rigmor will definitely like this house and its view.

My companions were ready to go at about 7:30 AM.

I was just about to hire a carriage when Inigo cried out in pain.

I asked him, “Is it your head once again?”

“My friend. My mind it being tugged again! It is very strong this time. I see wooden posts upright in the snow, a tower. I recognise the tower! Argh! I see the cabin again. Its door is locked tight. It is receding. It is over… for now. My head is pounding. Ow!”

“We need to figure out what is happening. I am worried the attacks seem to be worsening.”

“I agree. I think I know where to start. I saw a ruined tower in the snow. I think I camped there long ago.”

“Where is this tower?”

“It is a short hike from Dawnstar. It is called Snowpoint Beacon. It is nothing special from what I can remember, but I think it is close to the source of these embarrassing episodes.”

“I promise we will travel to Snowpoint Beacon as soon as we can. First, let us go to Winterhold. It is not too great a distance across the icefields to Dawnstar from there.”

“OK. My mind hopes we can find time later. It is in pain.”

I hired a carriage to Winterhold. We piled aboard, and the horses followed.

I was still not sure where the compass was pointing when we arrived in Winterhold. We stabled the horses while I walked around, trying to narrow down where to go next.

We were halfway across the bridge when I told the others, “It is not the College but somewhere in the small islands behind it. It looks like I will have to go for a swim.”

We retrieved our horses then rode to a small fishing village.

Lydia asked about a shrine, “Is that Kynareth?”

“I think so.”

There was a plaque which I read to the group,

“In memory of those who perished during the Great Collapse. May Shor’s widow comfort them in His sacred halls.”

I said, “Many believe that Kyne is Shor’s widow. It gets very complicated when you think of Kyne and Kynareth as the same god and Shor and Lorkhan being the same.”

Lydia said, “I prefer that nice one of Kyne at High Hrothgar. This one is a bit depressing!”

I said to my companions, “There is a huge tavern over there. I need you all to stay there while I cross the ice and water.”

Christine asked, “How are you going to do that?”

“Hashire will run along the seafloor.”

“Of course. We all knew that.”

We all laughed. It was good to have a bit of humour back in our travels. But I was telling the truth, not a joke.

The tavern was huge!

Inigo said, “Take your time, my friend. There is no need to hurry!”

I left the tavern, accompanied by more laughter.

I mounted Hashire and asked him, “Have we done this before?”

He neighed what I took as an affirmative.

We were soon walking along the seafloor oblivious to the cold water or need for oxygen. It was a rather interesting experience!

We had to search for a break in the ice before we could surface. My internal compass was pointing to the centre of a small island. I found an entrance that may lead to my target.  The compass was moving around slightly, which meant the target was most likely a person.

As soon as I entered a narrow tunnel, I could hear metaphysical gobblygook being spoken by somebody to themselves.

There was a ramp leading down to some excavations. An elderly mage was walking in seemingly random patterns as he talked to himself.

He said to himself, “Dig, Dwemer, in the beyond. I’ll know your lost unknown and rise to your depths. When the top-level was built, no more could be placed. It was and is the maximal apex.”

There was a large Dwemer contraption that had been chipped out of the ice. If one man did the work, it would have taken months if not years.

I made my way down the ramp. The mage removed his hood and waited for me to approach. He was wearing Master of Conjuration robes from the College of Winterhold and was of Imperial stock. The compass pointing to him ceased once I started talking to him.

I said, “Hello, my name is Wulf. I was looking for information on Elder Scrolls. Can you help me?”

“Elder Scrolls. Indeed. The Empire. They absconded with them. Or so they think. The ones they saw. The ones they thought they saw. I know of one. Forgotten. Sequestered. But I cannot go to it, not poor Septimus, for I… I have arisen beyond its grasp.”

“Are you all right? Have you bumped your head or eaten funny mushrooms? Not a Skooma addict perchance?”

“Oh, I am well. I will be well. Well to be within the will inside the walls.”

“So where is this ‘forgotten’ Elder Scroll?”

“Here. Well, here as in the plane. Mundus. Tamriel. Nearby, relatively speaking. On the cosmological scale, it is all nearby.”

“Good. No quick trip to Oblivion then. Where on Nirn will I find the scroll?”

“I could tell you, but as one block raises another, perhaps ourselves could help each.”

“Why can’t anybody ever say, ‘Here you go Wulf, just what you need with no strings attached.’ What do you need me to do?”

“You see this masterwork of the Dwemer. Deep inside their greatest knowings. Septimus is clever among men, but he is but an idiot child compared to the dullest of the Dwemer.”

“They were so smart they disappeared up their rectums.”

“Lucky then they left behind their own way of reading the Elder Scrolls. In the depths of Blackreach, one yet lies. Have you heard of Blackreach? ‘Cast upon where Dwemer cities slept, the yearning spire hidden leanings kept.’”

“I have heard of Blackreach. It is where they mined Aetherium, and it connects the four major Dwemer cities of Skyrim. Do you know of an entrance? What is this spire?”

“The hidden keep. Tower Mzark. Alftand. The point of puncture, of first entry, of the tapping. Delve to its limits, and Blackreach lies just beyond. But not all can enter there. Only Septimus knows the hidden key to loosen the lock to jump beneath the deathly rock.”

“Alftand is not far from here. How do I get in?”

“Two things I have for you. Two shapes. One edged. One round. The round one, for tuning. Dwemer music is soft and subtle, and needed to open their cleverest gates.”

“The round one is a key to a Tonal Lock?”

“Yes. The edged lexicon, for inscribing. To us, a hunk of metal. To the Dwemer, a full library of knowings. But…empty.”

“How do I use the lexicon?”

“Find Mzark and its sky-dome. The machinations will read the Scroll and lay the lore upon the cube.”

“So, there is a transcription machine. How do I operate it?”

“To glimpse the world inside an Elder Scroll can damage the eyes.”

“Or the mind. I think you may have read one too many!”

“The Dwemer found a loophole, as they always do. To focus the knowledge away and inside without harm. Place the lexicon into their contraption and focus the knowings into it. When it brims with glow, bring it back, and Septimus can read once more.”

“You hope the knowledge contained will let you operate this Dwemer machinery.”

“Ooooh, an observant one. The Dwemer Lockbox. Look upon it and wonder. Inside is the heart. The heart of a god. The heart of you. And me. But it was hidden away. Not by the Dwarves, you see. They were already gone. Someone else. Unseen. Unknown. Found the heart, and with a flair for the ironical, used Dwarven trickery to lock it away. The scroll will give the deep vision needed to open it. For not even the strongest machinations of the Dwemer can hold off the all-sight given by an Elder Scroll.”

Septimus handed me a sphere and a lexicon. I left and rode Hashire underwater back to the fishing village.

I entered the tavern, and my companions were relaxing and mingling with the locals. I told them about our destination and that we had to get going.

They reluctantly followed me to the horses then we started our ride to Alftand.

As we rode, I tried to think of what to do about Septimus. He thinks Lorkhan’s Heart is within the Dwemer lockbox. If so, there is no way I will allow him to keep it. It is one of the most powerful artefacts on Nirn. Nations would go to war to possess it. There is no way I was going to leave it in the hands of a lunatic.

By the time we arrived at Alftand, I had decided that I would have to work with Septimus to open the Dwemer Lockbox. I would then take Lorkhan’s Heart and hand it to the College of Winterhold to store safely.

When we dismounted, Inigo said, “Somewhere deep below us an Elder Scroll is waiting. I can almost smell it.”

One a bench in the building where I stabled Hashire was an Expedition Manifest. It said,

“We’ve managed to secure the site and hold off any others who may try to steal our discoveries so far, especially those from the College of Winterhold, who seem to think the glory of exploring every ruin should be theirs alone.

The crew for our expedition is as follows:

  • Sulla Trebatius (myself) – Expedition leader
  • Umana – my constant companion and bodyguard
  • Valie – a mage not associated with Winterhold (took some time to find)
  • Endrast – a fellow explorer of some local renown
  • Yag – a great brute of a woman, hired to keep the rest of the labour in check
  • J’darr and J’zhar – two Khajiit brothers, hired as our labour

Need a couple more labourers, getting through the ice is proving difficult.

We’ve set up a shelter and scouted the area. The small ruins on the lower plateau of the glacier don’t seem connected to the main structure, and we haven’t managed to find a way into the tower parapet we’ve seen here. Yag mentioned spotting a fissure in the glacial wall that may lead into the ruins, so we are going to try to find a way to get down there with the gear. It looks like a storm is coming.”  

A burnt body lay under the ruins of a tent.

I said to my companions, “A dragon did this. Keep alert.”

A well-constructed walkway let to the entrance of Alftand.

Not far inside, we found the journal of the expedition leader, Sulla Trebatius. I read it aloud,

“We tried to get through a glacier at the top, but we couldn’t find any way into that tower parapet. Yag spotted a fissure in the glacial wall and construction of a catwalk was finished just in time for a storm to hit. At first, we thought to wait it out, but it has only gotten worse. A shift in the glacier took out several of the new labourers.

I ordered everyone to quickly move as much of the supplies as we could into the fissure, and we managed to get most of it. One of the hands decided he wasn’t going to listen and tried to make it out through the storm, but got blown off the catwalk by the wind.

It looks like we are well and truly stuck in here. But for all that, I feel even more driven that I should be the one to uncover the mysteries of this ruin. I’m tired of all the credit for my work going to the Mages or the Legion. It will be my name that goes down in the history books for this discovery.”

I growled, “If I find out this Sulla is a Legion deserter in the middle of a war his discovery will involve three feet of steel in his stomach!”

Inigo replied, “Sounds fair. Now, if I were an Elder Scroll, where would I be hiding? Probably somewhere warmer.”

The campsite was covered in blood. We were not far into the complex, so whatever attacked did not wait to see what the expedition was doing in Alftand.

As we travelled, we found more bloodstains. It seems some of the expedition members at least made a run for it.

As we were walking, Iona asked, “There are a lot of Elder Scrolls. They had a large library of them in the White-Gold Tower. How do we know this is the one we need?”

“It will make itself the one we need. Imagine if we needed three Elder Scrolls to obtain three different pieces of information. The first three Elder Scrolls we read would provide that information even if we randomly selected them from a large pile.”

“So why don’t we just travel to the Imperial City and read one there?”

“This will be quicker, and The Divines have forbidden me to travel to Cyrodiil. Just accept that restriction is necessary for now and I will explain soon.”

“OK. But to clarify, this Elder scroll we are retrieving may not be the one the ancient Tongues used?”

“It is doubtful that it is but that doesn’t matter. It will have the same information that allowed the Tongues to cast Alduin into the time stream.”

“Will you go back in time?”

“Time travel is possible, as evidence by Alduin’s return, but I don’t think I will physically go back in time. I think the Elder Scroll will let me be an observer of the events. I doubt the ancient Tongues will detect my presence but a Dovah might. I would be out of synch with the linear time they are sensitive to.”

“I noticed you did not inspect the Time-Wound.”

“As Paarthurnax said, I am as Lord Akatosh made me. The Time-Wound is unpleasant for me as I am sensitive to linear time. A brief glimpse of the Time-Wound made me nauseous. A wound is an apt description.”

Our conversation stopped as the voice of J’darr reached us. He said, “Where is it? I know you were trying to keep it for yourself J’zhar… You always try to keep it to yourself!”

Inigo cringed at what he was hearing. Ghosts of his past had come to haunt him.

After a few seconds, J’darr continued, “No! There’s got to be more Skooma… Shut up! Shut up! Don’t lie to me, J’zhar! You hid it! You always try and steal it from me!”

When it was apparent J’darr had no more ranting to do I looked at Inigo. He looked into my eyes then nodded. He was ready to continue.

We came upon a Dwemer Spectre. The warrior type is not overly dangerous to us. Tonal Architects are deadly with both Thu’um and slow-moving but powerful bolts of energy. An arrow took care of it, and we moved on.

The most common Dwemer Animunculi is the Dwarven Spider. When we encountered our first one, I warned my comrades, “Try and take out the spiders from a distance. They can explode with electrical energy which does not tickle.”

Inigo likes killing normal spiders, and his enthusiasm got the better of him. He ran up and hit the Dwarven Spider and, as I warned them all, it exploded.

Inigo yelled out, “Ouch!”. The rest of us laughed.

Sometimes Dwarven Spiders leap out at you from hidden places, and you have no choice but to use melee weapons. Inigo hit another one and the inevitable explosion followed by quality cursing followed.

Another attacked and we were treated to both Iona and Inigo cursing in harmony.

There was a bedroll on the floor and bloodstains leading away. On a table were dissected Dwarven Spiders and research notes written by Valie, the expedition’s mage. I read them to the group,

“If only Umana would have left one of these Dwarven machine creatures intact for me to study. The fact that they almost killed those Khajiit brothers in the middle of the night doesn’t mean we couldn’t have found a way to disable one. We dragged some stuff in front of the pipes they came out of to stop them from coming back.

They are simply fascinating! It is just as Calcelmo described in Dwarves, v2. Their appearance does, in fact, resemble that of an arachnid. I had thought that to be an embellishment given by his source. The inclusion of the soul gem into the design of the apparatus is quite remarkable. It could explain the focus of the lightning that he describes.

Oddly enough, it doesn’t appear to be the primary power source for the apparatus. Perhaps some sort of harmonic resonance with the energies contained in the soul gem to bring the heat to a small boiler? Too early to say conclusively. That does raise the question of where they get the liquid for the boiler, however.

Huh, that was strange. I thought I just saw something moving beyond the barred door. It looked vaguely humanoid. I wonder if it could be an undiscovered automaton? I’m going to move my bedroll down here to see if I can catch another glimpse of it. This is all so exciting!”

I said to my colleagues, “I don’t think Valie was a victim of the Dwemer machines. I think the ‘vaguely humanoid’ thing she saw was a Falmer. Not the majestic Mer race but their twisted form created by the Dwemer when the Snow Elves sought refuge from Nord genocide. They still infest their old homes as the Animunculi do.”

We move further into Alftand and found more evidence of the expedition in the form of dropped torches.

Lydia said, “We seem to be following the path of the expedition. Do you think they knew of the Elder Scroll?”

“I don’t think so, but it is a possibility. I think they were mainly interested in Dwemer technology they could discover.”

It was my turn to invent a new swear word after hitting a Dwarven Spider.

We came upon J’darr kneeling over the corpse of his brother. He stood up and drew his axe, saying, “What? Who is this, Brother? More of the smooth skins looking for food? But these weren’t trapped with us… “

I trained my bow on him and yelled, “Halt J’darr or I will kill you!”

He kept coming so I released the arrow.

As we stood over the corpse, Inigo said, “Wulf’s arrow did not kill him. Skooma did.”

Another axe lay next to J’zhar’s body. His brother had tortured him to death!

I found J’zhar’s journal and read it to the others,

“This one is at his wit’s end. I signed J’darr and myself up for this expedition to try to get him clean of the Skooma. I brought a small supply to try and bring him down slowly, but the storm has had us trapped in the glacier for weeks.

The others have not yet caught on that one with fur should not shake so much from the cold, but I’ve run out of the little Skooma I brought, and J’darr is getting pretty bad. He’s started hallucinating creatures coming out of the ice and the ruins, the others are beginning to think he may be behind Valie’s disappearance, but I know he would never do something like that.”

Empty Skooma and Healing Potion bottles were scattered nearby.

We stood aside and gave Inigo some personal space as he lay the brothers side by side and said a traditional Khajiit burial prayer over them. We then continued further into Alftand.

Just past the sad story of the Khajiit brothers, we found another journal. This one belonged to Umana and read,

“It’s been about a week since Valie went missing and now Endrast is gone too. We found blood leading over to the barred doorway, but Sulla seems to think that they found a way through and that they are trying to cut him out of the discovery.

He keeps saying that we need to press on. We’ve managed to break through into another section of the ruins, an “Animonculory”, where the dwarves would produce their automatons.

We learned the hard way that the metal creatures are still alive in there and it hasn’t improved Yag’s mood at all. She holds that the Khajiit brothers aren’t involved with the disappearances and has been keeping a stern eye on Sulla.

The rations have all but run out, and we are going to have to decide soon whether to brave the storm or try to push further into the ruins. I don’t know if the echoes of screams I’ve heard in my sleep are those of our missing comrades or my own nightmares.”

At one point we came upon a corridor full of flammable fumes. I cast a Fireball to burn them away.

Sometimes the exploding spiders killed other enemies for us!

Virtually every room we entered had at least one enemy.

We came across some gelatinous piles of eggs.

Iona asked, “Yuck. What are those disgusting things?”

Lydia replied, “Chaurus Eggs. They are delicious with the right salad and wine.”

Everybody stared at Lydia, who just shrugged her shoulders, then said, “You never know unless you give it a go!”

We soon came upon our first Falmer and in large numbers. They were battling Dwemer Animunculi, so we took advantage and killed both machines and their mortal opponents.

Individually a Falmer was not a match for the larger Dwemer machines. To overcome this, Falmer tended to swarm and attack in numbers. This was evidenced by how many Falmer arrows were embedded in a single one of their metallic enemies.

The body of a female Orsimer warrior was in amongst the broken machines and dead Falmer.

I said to the others, “This is most likely Yag. By the amount of blood in front of her, she gave a good account of herself before being brought down.”

As we went further into Alftand the number of Animunculi lessened and the number of Falmer increased.

We found the corpse of Valie. The Falmer had tortured her. Not for information but for amusement.

We encountered the largest of the Dwemer Animunculi, a Centurion.  

We brought it down then I found a key amongst its wreckage.

Not far from the Centurion we heard two people arguing.

“Sulla, let’s just get out of here. Hasn’t there been enough death?”

“Umana, you want me to leave because you are just waiting for me to turn my back so you can have all the glory for yourself!”

We turned the corner then I trained my bow on Sulla.

I said, “Both of you, drop your weapons. We will not harm you if you comply.”

Both decided to attack. Both died.

I stood over Sulla and said, “I hate deserters. The worst scum on Nirn.”

The key I retrieved from the Dwemer Centurion opened a gate next to Sulla and Umana. We stood on the Dwemer Lift, and I pulled the lever.

As expected, the lift was to the entrance near where we had left our horses.

We went back down in the lift and were faced with a Dwemer Tonal Lock. I put the sphere that Septimus had given me into the receptacle.

Some tones were heard, and the lock was released.

I retrieved the sphere then we watched as a set of stairs emerged.

We walked down the stairs then I opened the door.

We entered Blackreach. It was nothing like any of us had seen before and was spectacular! Giant luminescent mushrooms floated or stood upon huge stalks. A constant blue from Aetherium ore added to the varied colours of the fungi. Dragon sight showed me both Dwemer Animunculi and Falmer populated the area.

Inigo said, “Me eyes are having trouble taking this place in. It is magical, mysterious and menacing.”

I took care of one menace before we ventured further into Blackreach.

Our objective was the Tower of Mzark and the Elder Scroll. For that reason, I did not want to explore much of what we saw. We could always return at a later date if we wished to do so. I did enter one small building immediately in front of the entrance.

It turned out to be a laboratory of sorts. An Alchemist called Sinderion had been investigating the properties of a crimson version of Nirnroot. I had heard of them before and even mentioned them to Rigmor once just outside of Whiterun.

Sinderion had been killed by Falmer as evidenced by their arrows protruding from his skeletal remains.

I found his journal on a nearby bench and read it aloud,

“I’ve spent a large portion of my life unravelling the mystery of the Nirnroot, and yet I still feel unfulfilled. The trilling sound this strange herb emits seems to taunt me, to push me even harder to discover its secrets. Even after a generous and indomitable traveller became a field collector in my stead, and provided me with five score of the nirnroot, I was only able to muster what I consider a mediocre alchemical creation at best. This only served to strengthen my hunger and whet my appetite for the solution.

It wasn’t until over fifty years later that the answer to my prayers was carried into my basement workshop at the West Weald Inn. The first thing I heard was the familiar tone – that unmistakable warble unique to the nirnroot. But when I turned around, my heart leapt, and a chill ran down my spine. This was indeed a Nirnroot but of a variety the likes of which I have never seen. The herb was awash in a spectacular array of red hues, each leaf seemingly emblazoned with innumerable variations of crimson. I couldn’t move – I was utterly transfixed. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined a species of Nirnroot with such a unique property.

After an awkward silence, I finally managed to stammer out a few questions to the traveller who’d brought me this treasure. He told me his name was Obeth Arnesian, a treasure-seeker from Skyrim. Apparently, he’d been exploring a vast subterranean network of grand caverns called Blackreach and had stumbled across what he dismissed as “a noisy red weed.” His expedition was mostly unsuccessful, and he didn’t want to leave the caves empty-handed, so Obeth picked one of the Crimson Nirnroot to bring home. He said that it took some time, but eventually he was pointed my way and that perhaps I’d pay a fair price for it.

Before I could gather my wits and ask anything else, Obeth offered to sell me the crimson Nirnroot sample, a map showing me how to find Blackreach and the strange key needed to breach its outer defences. It took me mere moments to decide. Obeth left Skingrad a thousand septims richer, but I would have easily paid ten times that amount to obtain the sample alone.

It took a year of planning, but I was able to pack up and sell my workshop and make my way into Skyrim. Before delving headfirst into Blackreach, I knew I needed to set up a new laboratory, but wished to do so in seclusion. After making inquiries at the College of Winterhold, of which I was an honorary member, I was directed to speak to Avrusa Sarethi, a student of botanical alchemy who had a small farm near the city of Riften. By bartering my knowledge of nirnroot cultivation, I was able to secure Sarethi Farm as a launching point for my field research. I kept the knowledge of the crimson nirnroot a secret from Avrusa but imparted everything else I knew to her in exchange for her hospitality.

A few months passed, but I was finally ready to enter Blackreach. I used the Attunement Sphere that Obeth had provided and descended into the depths. My goal was to gather enough Crimson Nirnroot to produce my greatest alchemical creation to date – I was certain it would take at least thirty of them to provide the necessary catalyst.

This brings me to the present. My initial research seems to indicate that the Crimson Nirnroot has a similar affinity for moisture as the garden variety, but also maintains some sort of symbiotic relationship with the enormous fungi that inhabit Blackreach. I guess that the fungi are a source of water, absorbing it from the moist subterranean air like a sponge. This provides the ideal environment for the Nirnroot to grow. Unfortunately, the Crimson Nirnroot appears to have a vastly shortened lifespan, and they are in no way plentiful down here. Gathering thirty of them will be quite the challenge, but hopefully, the denizens of Blackreach will allow me to gather my samples unhindered.”

I said to my team, “As long as we don’t have to go out of the way we might as well collect these Crimson Nirnroot as we travel through Blackreach. Perhaps we can give them to an alchemist to see if they find useful properties that will result in medicines for the common people.”

Inigo said, “You are always concerned for the welfare of others.”

“Whoever influenced my early years must have demonstrated empathy through their actions, and I merely mirror their example.”

“That, my friend, is the best form of parenting.”

We left Siderion’s lab and continued down the main road of Blackreach. So far, there was no sign of the Tower of Mzark.

Falmer attacked us, and in doing so, they accidentally activated a Centurion. We took it down and killed dozens of Falmer.

The Falmer had slaves who also attacked us. I found it ironic that a slave race now had slaves.

Above one of the main Falmer strongholds was a Dwemer Sphere. I had read that they provide an artificial source of sunlight for above ground crops the Dwemer may have grown within Blackreach.

Inigo suggested, “Maybe we should hit that big orange globe up there with something. Maybe not.”

“It might explode and kill lots of the enemy. I think I will see what happens.”

“There you go again Inigo, giving Wulf bad ideas.”

I fired an arrow, and it bounced harmlessly off the globe.

I did Unrelenting Force and was surprised when the globe pealed like a giant bell.

I was even more surprised when that peal summoned a dragon. It came roaring its name ‘Vulthuryol’ which means ‘dark overlord of fire’.

Vulthuryol started killing Falmer and their slaves with devastating fire and frost attacks.

As our enemies concentrated on the dragon, we continued to kill them.

When the last of the Falmer had been dealt with, Vulthuryol attacked me. I retaliated and killed him.

I absorbed his soul as the others caught up with me.

I said to Inigo, “Perhaps we should leave the next giant orange globe thingy alone?”

“Agreed!”

No far from where I fought Vulthuryol was the Tower of Mzark. I pointed to it and said, “That is where the Elder Scroll is.”

We approached it, eager to retrieve the Kel and return to Paarthurnax.

We walked through some living quarters. A bedroll on the floor suggested some other explorer had made it this far.

At the top of a winding ramp, the spectre of Mzark attacked us.

We peppered it with arrows and turned it into an ectoplasm puddle.

A massive piece of machinery dominated the top room of the tower.

An array of four buttons was used to control the machine. In the centre of the four buttons was a celestial map.

To the right of the buttons was a receptacle for the blank lexicon.

I placed the lexicon into the receptacle. The furthest button to the right became lit.

I pushed the button, and the machine came to life. It consisted of lenses and crystals that concentrated and directed light from above and when they were in place the button second from the right lit up.

I pushed that button several times. Each time I did, the lenses and crystals would change their configuration. Eventually, the lexicon opened and glowed.

When that happened, the button second from the left lit up.

Pushing that button several times rearranged the lenses and crystals till the incoming light was divided then focused on several crystals on the circumference of the machine.

This caused the button on the far left to light up.

Pushing that button caused all of the crystals and lenses to be moved out of the way. An egg-shaped crystal container was then lowered. It opened with a cranking sound to reveal the Elder Scroll.

The lexicon had closed but now glowed with the blue of Aetherium. I removed it from its pedestal.

The elder scroll was unfurled within its container.

When I removed the Elder Scroll, its contents automatically rolled back inside.

Inigo came up to me and said, “You got the Elder Scroll! Well done, my friend.”

“We got the Elder Scroll. We are a team, Inigo. As soon as I take this Kel up to The Throat of the World, it might attract Alduin. If we are to fight him, I want you to be with us. So, we had better figure out the problem with your head before we go see Paarthurnax.”

“It is best if we head out from Dawnstar. It will help me remember where Snowpoint Beacon is.”

“Sounds like a plan. Let’s get out of here!”

On the floor near the machine was a skeleton. Logically it was the owner of the bedroll we had noticed earlier. Next to the skeleton was a journal which I read aloud,

“I was never one for writing about my life. The king-priests of old deserve their stories told, but Drokt is a simple man. So, this isn’t no journal, and I’m not telling any stories here. But this infernal machine done worked its way into my brain-space and I won’t leave till it’s figured out.

The whole contraption just sets like a dead horker if it doesn’t have the box. Putting the box in the hole made it all come to life.

Five rings, but only four buttons? Most of them don’t work most of the time anyhow. When the lights line up, more open, but they don’t seem to help. Just make another damned thing move.

The old fleabag Khajiit what sold me this cube said something about “the light through the knowledge through the machine rests on the cube.” I remember because he made me say it back at him until I wanted to throttle him.

So, I did.

Tried to leave, but wolves to the top and them eyeless freaks outside the tower. Gotta stay here till I get it right.

And I will get it right.”

I said, “It seems like Drokt got what he deserved for murder.”

A door at the back of the room allowed access to another Dwemer Lift.

It took us to another entrance and a small camp.

When we walked to where our horses were, a mechanical dragon attacked. It seems the Dwemer decided to leave even bigger guardians than the Centurions behind.

It was the most challenging dragon we had yet faced, but it eventually succumbed.

Once again idiotic bandits saw us kill a dragon but still decided to attack us. How stupid can you be?

We swiftly disposed of them.

During the brief bandit fight, I slowly absorbed the soul of the mechanical dragon.

Inigo asked, “Do you have to do that every time we kill a dragon? The smell you give off afterwards is… unfortunate.”

“You know I have no choice, and your bottom burps do not smell of roses!”

“Bottom burps?”

“That is a legitimate and polite way of saying farts, so live with that fact!”

“Sometimes, my friend, you are… well…”

Lydia offered, “Weird?”

Christine said, “Very weird!”

Iona said, “The weirdest weirdo that has ever been weird!”

Inigo said, “Yeah, that!”

We rode the horses to Dawnstar and stabled them there.

We then walked to Snowpoint Beacon.

We had no encounters during the walk. As we got closer to our target, Inigo said, “I hope my mind vibrations are not leading us into a trap, my friend.”

“I am going to try something, and it will probably give me a headache as well.”

“What is that?”

“You read my journal so you know I used to speak to my Dovah half.”

“Yes, a bit strange.”

“Says the Khajiit who speaks to a dragonfly in a jar.”

“Fair point. So, what are you going to try?”

“My Dovah forgot to tell me I also have night-vision. I can amplify the light coming into my eyes and see in the dark as well as a Khajiit.”

“That is much better than relying on that lantern you carry.”

“But I am not used to it. I experimented a bit the other night and suffered an instant headache.”

“So why try now?”

“I find it too easy to lose track of enemies when relying on the lantern so I might as well get used to my night-vision.”

We crept up on Snowpoint Beacon, and I could see everything as if it was as bright as midday in summer, but the colours were washed away.

There was a sentry, and I decided she was a bandit, so I shot her.

Another five bandits came streaming out, but since we were not using lanterns, they could not see us.

I yelled, “Hello, bandits. Free milk over here!”