Tirdas, 7th Frostfall, 4E 201

Skyrim quests: Dragonborn, March of the Dead.

Skyrim mods: Rigmor of Bruma.

Rigmor woke me at 6:00 AM.

“Are you awake?”

“I am now!”

“I am just finishing my bath. Do you have armour for me?”

“Yes, I found some similar to Morganna’s but with gold plating.”

“And a bow?”

“Yes, similar to the one I gave you.”

“Good, I will just bring my sword and an extra wig.”

“You won’t be naked? We have to get a move on!”

“You had better make sure we have some alone time soon!”

“You can have breakfast here.”

“OK. Give me thirty minutes.”

I got dressed then impatiently waited.

Rigmor said, “Ready!”

I willed Rigmor to teleport via the rings.

Rigmor accepted the teleport then stood before me.

I walked up to her and said, “You look stunning!”

“You look bald!”

I grabbed my beloved and kissed her till her toes curled.

Rigmor caressed my face then said, “If we could not talk via the rings. And if we could not meet. I would fall apart. The expectations on me are mounting, and I have to fight my advisors every step of the way.”

“Malesam has arrived?”

“Yes, and now it is the coalition of old farts against the young, naïve Countess.”

“Did you just call Sigunn an old fart?”

“Well, two old farts and my mother then.”

“Just keep reminding them that they serve you.”

“Believe me, my Dragonborn, I do.”

“Is it good to have somebody young like Cerys with you?”

“She is such a wonderfully warm person. I feel guilty about keeping our meetings secret from her.”

“If Cerys accidentally blabbed around Malesam then Boethia would know.”

“I know. I would not tell her. There is too much at stake.”

“We can’t call you Rigmor either.”

“I thought about that. I quite like ‘Breyn’.”

“Breyn it is then.”

“What now?”

“Go and mingle as soon as you are ready. I have to introduce myself to some people as well.”

“OK, let me get into this armour. Are you going to watch?”

“Um…see you in the main hall!”

Rigmor laughed as I left my private chambers.

First thing I saw was Aventus getting to know Meeko. The furry ambassador has probably spent time with each child already.

Runa, Lucia and Samuel were using a practice dummy to hone their dagger skills. I have a feeling the daggers were the idea of Constance. I have no objections. We have spent some time teaching Olette how to defend herself.

I approached Constance and remarked, “That dress could be seen from the moons!”

“That is the idea. This place is so big I wanted the children to spot me easier.”

“Has everybody settled in well?”

“The children often had nightmares at the orphanage. They all slept like logs last night. Not a peep out of them. They were amazed at real privies and not just buckets!”

“They had to use buckets at Honourhall?”

“If Grelod made any money she never spent it on the orphanage.”

“What about Cairine. Is she comfortable here?”

“It is hard to get a smile out of her, but she seems OK.”

“I think I will go and say hello to her.”

I found Cairine then sat next to her.

“Good morning Cairine, I am General Valdr.”

“What you are doing for these children is just amazing!”

“Hopefully this is just a small start to something much bigger.”

“I hope so. Even the children know they are fortunate and that many more are on the streets doing what they can to survive.”

“Well let’s hope some luck comes our way and we find somewhere suitable for a large number of children.”

I saw Lestat and walked over to him. I asked, “Do you like Silverpeak Lodge?”

“There are so many things to do here!”

“Constance will have the materials to start lessons soon. Are you looking forward to that?”

“Yes, very much!”

“I think breakfast is almost ready. Wujeeta will call you to the table in a minute or two.”

“I can’t believe how much food there is!”

“I am glad you are enjoying your new home.”

Just them Wujeeta starting herding the children to one of the dining tables.

Hroar came running past me, stopped then said, “Thanks for bringing us here!”

“It was a pleasure.”

He then continued his dash to get breakfast.

Francois came up and said, “Hey, cheese brain!”

I replied, “Good morning, no brain!”

Francois laughed and went to join the others at the table.

Rigmor sat with some of the children as Wujeeta started arriving with the breakfasts.

When I approached, she said, “This is a wonderful beginning of your dream!”

“Yes, it is. Talk to them and listen to their stories. Lucia’s makes my blood boil!”

“She is the little girl from Whiterun, isn’t she?”

“Yes, she had only been at the Riften orphanage for a couple of days.”

“The armour fits beautifully, but I might change my hair.”

“I will come and get you in about thirty minutes. We will walk to Whiterun then hire a carriage to Windhelm.”

“OK.”

I wandered around and watched my friends laugh and get along like one giant family.

I smiled when Lydia finally noticed Rigmor. She came running over and almost broke her ribs in a bear hug.

Lydia, Inigo, Jordis and Meeko were accompanying Rigmor and me to Solstheim.

I went looking for Olette and found her at one of the tanning racks.

She said, “I am practising so I can help prepare the leather for my armour. The blacksmith said it would make it mean more to me.”

“Adrianne?”

“Yes, she is a very nice lady.”

“And an excellent blacksmith. Did she say which leather is best?”

“In Skyrim, she says that Snow Bear leather is the best. But she would love to use Netch leather if she could get some.”

“And I just happen to be visiting Solstheim where Netch live.”

“Hey, what a coincidence!”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“And I didn’t even have to beg!”

“Is it good having the other children here?”

“I am letting them get used to the place before showing them how to get away with stuff.”

“Like what?”

“If I told you then we wouldn’t get away with it.”

“I am keeping my eyes on you, young lady!”

“Good luck with that from Solstheim, Captain!”

I laughed as I headed back to the main room.

I was not surprised to find Iona and Kharjo sitting next to each other.

I said to them, “I want at least one of you two, Argis and Celestine to be outside with the children when they are playing.”

Iona said, “Don’t worry, we will look after them. By the way Wulf, she is gorgeous.”

“Yes, she is. She will also make a great leader for her people.”

It was time to leave. We said our goodbyes then headed to Whiterun.

We hired a carriage to Windhelm and arrived there just after midday.

As we approached the main gate, Rigmor asked, “Has much has changed in Windhelm since the end of the civil war?”

“I do believe the Grey Quarter is getting rebuilt. Khajiit are now allowed into the city. Slow but sure progress. I haven’t had a chance to meet the new Jarl as of yet.”

We entered the city then made out way to the docks.

My compass pointed me to the captain of the Northern Maiden.

As soon as I spoke to him, the compass went away.

“Excuse me, are you the captain of the Northern Maiden?”

“Yes, Gjalund Salt-Sage at your service.”

“I would like to book a passage to Solstheim.”

“Too bad, I’m not going back there anymore!”

“You recently gave passage from Solstheim to a bunch of weird Dunmer wearing masks. Remember them?”

“What about them?”

“They tried to kill me.”

“Now hold on! That wasn’t my fault. I didn’t know they were going to attack anybody. I don’t even know how I got here.”

“Well, it is obvious you got here on your boat. But you can’t remember the trip? Is that it?”

“It is hard to explain. I remember these people with the masks coming on board, then… The next thing I remember, I was here, and they were gone. That’s not right, losing whole days like that. There’s been something strange going on there for a while, but after that… I’m done. I’m not going back to Solstheim.”

“I am General Valdr.”

“The Dragonborn!”

“Yes, and I need to get to Solstheim so I can investigate the strange things happening in Solstheim. Why give up on a good, profitable route if I can make things normal again?”

“OK. You have convinced me. The tides are right if we leave straight away.”

We all scrambled aboard the boat. We decided to stay on deck and enjoy the three-hour passage in the fresh air. We all enjoyed ourselves except for Inigo. I never knew a blue Khajiit could turn green. He did not enjoy the open seas at all and spent most of the voyage hanging over the side, trying to keep his internal organs joining his breakfast overboard. There was little sympathy from the rest of us who found it quite amusing.

The boat slowed as it approached the Raven Rock docks.

Gjalund said, “Well, here we are. This is Raven Rock. I can’t say that I’m all that glad to see it again.”

A few minutes later, Gjalund said, “Good luck in figuring out what is going on around here.”

Inigo leapt onto the dock before the boat had even stopped. When it did, crewmen tied it in place.

A Raven Rock official came down the boarding stairs.

  • Adril: I don’t recognise any of you, so I’ll assume this is your first visit to Raven Rock, outlanders. State your intentions.
  • Wulf: I am General Valdr. My companions and I are investigating a man called Miraak who sent assassins to kill me in Skyrim. Do you know who Miraak is?
  • Adril: General Valdr… where do I know that name from?
  • Gjalund: Adril, this is The Dragonborn. If you can’t trust him, who can you trust?
  • Adril: That is Nord prophecy Gjalund. It has nothing to do with us.
  • Rigmor: General Valdr and his companions just saved every mortal life on Nirn, including yours, when they defeated Alduin. If that is not enough, would you trust Azura’s Champion?
  • Adril: Azura’s Champion?
  • Wulf: If you are going to question Breyn’s honesty, we can go to the nearest Tribunal Temple and ask Azura herself if you wish.
  • Adril: No… I believe you.
  • Wulf: Please, what is your name and why the paranoia about visitors?
  • Adril: I am Second Councillor Adril Arano. The security of Raven Rock is my primary concern.
  • Rigmor: Has security been an issue?
  • Adril: This isn’t exactly Blacklight. We’re on the frontier our here, and we’ve had more than a fair share of troubles. After all that we’ve been through together, I refuse to let Councillor Morvayn down.
  • Wulf: You are both of House Redoran I assume?
  • Adril: That is correct. Just remember, Raven Rock is the sovereign territory of House Redoran. This is Morrowind, not Skyrim. While you are here, you will be expected to abide by our laws.
  • Inigo: Second Councillor, what laws are different here than in Skyrim?
  • Adril: Ahh…umm…
  • Inigo: I know one. You can legally hire assassins on Solstheim. This Miraak, who I assume is one of your citizens, sent assassins to Skyrim, thereby breaking our laws. I think this Miraak is a danger to your people and he does not want The Dragonborn to stop him. Do you know who Miraak is?
  • Adril: Miraak… I… I’m not sure that I do.
  • Wulf: Please, try to remember.
  • Adril: I… I’m unsure. I swear that I know the name, but I cannot place it.
  • Wulf: Is there anything at all you can tell me about him?
  • Adril: I don’t think so. I’m not… The… the name has something to do with the… Earth Stone, I guess. But I’m not sure what.
  • Wulf: Is the Earth Stone to the south-west of Raven Rock?
  • Adril: Yes, along the main road.
  • Lydia: Is that where that green light is shooting into the air?
  • Wulf: I think it is.
  • Rigmor: The fact you are having trouble remembering anything about Miraak suggests he is up to something, don’t you agree?
  • Adril: It is a bit peculiar. I can’t think about him without confusion.
  • Rigmor: Second Councillor, do we have permission to disembark?
  • Adril: Yes, and sorry for the rude greeting.
  • Rigmor: I understand. Being responsible for the security of a large number of people is a heavy burden to bear.
  • Adril: Gjalund, I was starting to wonder what happened to you.
  • Gjalund: We, uh… we were delayed by bad weather. Before you even ask… yes, I have the supplies you requested. But…
  • Adril: But what?
  • Gjalund: This load cost me double what we had agreed upon. Nothing I can do about it.
  • Adril: Damn it, Gjalund. You know we don’t have that much coin.
  • Gjalund: Look. The East Empire Company didn’t give me a choice. They’ve raised their prices again, and there is nothing I can do about it.
  • Adril: After all these years, they’re gouging us for every last drake we have.
  • Gjalund: All right, Adril. Don’t worry about rushing it. Just pay me when you can.
  • Rigmor: May I ask, for what supplies are you dependent on the East Empire Company?
  • Adril: Timber, basic foodstuffs, iron, fabrics etcetera.
  • Rigmor: And why do you purchase through the East Empire Company?
  • Adril: They have a monopoly on a lot of goods. We have no choice.
  • Rigmor: And if somebody was to get legal permission to compete with them and can provide lower prices?
  • Adril: That would be a miracle, and we would be happy to deal with them. But nobody is allowed to compete with that monolith.

We left the docks then headed west along the main road of Raven Rock.

As we walked, I said to Rigmor, “You have a huge forest of some of Tamriel’s best timber in your county.”

“Yes, as it is forested cleverly to have little impact. We also have very productive iron mines and an abundance of fresh produce.”

“I don’t think the East Empire Company has a legal monopoly. It is just that nobody bothers competing against them.”

“Malesam would know and so would Baa’Ren-Dar. The trouble is, what does Solstheim have that Bruma needs? A one-way trade deal might make it still too expensive for their coffers.”

“We shall just have to figure that out as we go.”

Lydia piped up, “So this is Raven Rock, eh? Not all that much to look at.”

Jordis replied, “If Whiterun was covered in ash for hundreds of years, it might not be so pretty either.”

People surrounded the Earth Stone chiselling, carving, erecting platforms and so on. Redoran Guards, older people, young people, beggars and pilgrim were hard at work.

As they toiled, they chanted a mantra. I spent ten minutes listening to it before I was confident of the mantra’s sequence.

  • Here in his shrine
  • That they have forgotten
  • Here do we toil
  • That we might remember
  • By night we reclaim
  • What by day was stolen
  • Far from ourselves
  • He grows ever near to us
  • Our eyes once were blinded
  • Now through him do we see
  • Our hands once were idle
  • Now through them does he speak
  • And when the world shall listen
  • And when the world shall see
  • And when the world remembers
  • That world shall cease to be

Rigmor said, “That sounds like they have no free will. That something is driving them to build whatever it is.”

“The Earth Stone is old god magic. I think somebody is using the power of it, and maybe the other five Stones of the All-Maker, to control the citizens of Solstheim.”

“Surely people have other things to do such as run stores, be guards etc. Wouldn’t they be missed?”

“I am guessing that there is more than one shift of workers. I think if we returned at night, different people would be toiling away. Remember how Adril was confused about Miraak. Perhaps people just don’t notice what is happening.”

“Who or what is the All-Maker?”

“There is a population of Nord on Solstheim call the Skaal. The All-Maker is the chief deity of their pantheon.”

“Who is that man over there staring at them?”

“From his robes, I would say a Telvanni Wizard. He seems immune to the hypnosis.”

When the wizard spotted us, he came marching over.

  • Neloth: You lot… You don’t seem to be in quite the same state as the other’s here. Very interesting.
  • Wulf: I am General Valdr.
  • Neloth: I am Master Neloth of House Telvanni.
  • Wulf: I think my companions might succumb to the dweomer emanating from the Earth Stone eventually. I don’t think I ever would.
  • Neloth: May I ask what it is you’re doing here?
  • Wulf: We are investigating a man called Miraak.
  • Neloth: Miraak… Miraak… It sounds familiar, and yet I can’t quite place… Oh. Wait, I recall. But that makes very little sense. Miraak’s been dead for thousands of years.
  • Wulf: You are a Wizard. You know there are ways to survive those thousands of years.
  • Neloth: I am not sure what all this means, but it is fascinating, don’t you think? Perhaps it has some relation to what’s going on here. Quite unexpected.
  • Wulf: What do you know about Miraak?
  • Neloth: I am afraid I can’t give you any answers. There are ruins of an ancient temple of Miraak’s toward the centre of the island.
  • Wulf: I think we need to do some more research before blindly visiting a place of his strength.
  • Neloth: That is probably wise.
  • Wulf: And what do you think these people are doing?
  • Neloth: Building something clearly. And yet they don’t seem to have much to say about it. I’m very interested in finding out what happens when they finish.
  • Rigmor: Aren’t you concerned about the mantra they are reciting?
  • Lydia: Especially the line, ‘That world will cease to be’.
  • Neloth: It doesn’t bother me at all. That is why I haven’t tried stopping them. I want to see how this all turns out.
  • Rigmor: It would probably end up with you being a mindless slave like them!
  • Wulf: I think I will have a closer look at the Earth Stone. See if I can get some clues.

I walked over to the Earth Stone. The closer I got, the impulse to grab some tools and work became stronger.

  • Wulf: I am going to touch the Earth Stone.
  • Rigmor: Don’t you dare!
  • Wulf: I need to figure this out. I will be alright.
  • Neloth: That seems, inadvisable.

I touched the Earth Stone. A dweomer tried to force me to start chiselling. The longer I resisted, the harder it smashed against my mental barriers.

I decided to experiment so leant down and picked up a mallet and chisel. When I started chiselling and reciting the mantra, the dweomer decreased to a weak but constant force upon my psyche.

  • Neloth: Fascinating. By touching the stone, he appears to have fallen under whatever influence is affecting the others.
  • Rigmor: I told you not to touch it but did you listen? No, you didn’t and now look what has happened.
  • Neloth: I wonder how long this effect will last. Perhaps it is permanent as with the others.
  • Rigmor: Well, you’re a wizard, do something!
  • Neloth: It would be a shame if it were permanent. He seemed to think he was an exception to the otherwise universal phenomenon.
  • Rigmor: Neloth, you are standing here, thinking yourself immune. Maybe you are as stupid as him? Hard to believe but possible!
  • Neloth: General Valdr, can you hear me? Do you have any free will left, or are you entirely under this outside influence like the others?
  • Rigmor: Hello, idiot. Can you hear me? We have places to go and people to meet.
  • Inigo: And probably kill.
  • Rigmor: Yes, and probably kill. So, snap out of it!
  • Neloth: Hmm. It appears that he was not immune after all.

I learnt all I could from my experiment, so I dropped the mallet and chisel then walked back to the others.

  • Wulf: I was never under the influence. I just convinced it I was.
  • Neloth: How did you resist? I doubt I could.
  • Wulf: Gods have tried to break down my mental barriers and failed. Miraak is the cause of this phenomena, and he is not a god.
  • Neloth: Gods?
  • Inigo: My friend has spoken to many gods.
  • Neloth: What did you discover?
  • Wulf: As I surmised, the dweomer around the Earth Stone is transmitting the mantra. It is using the ancient magic of the stone combined with the Thu’um to control these people.
  • Neloth: The Thu’um? How could that be?
  • Wulf: Miraak is a Dragonborn. As am I.
  • Neloth: Fascinating!
  • Wulf: I think what they are building will extend the range of the dweomer. If all six stones are modified like this, every person on Solstheim will become a mindless slave.
  • Neloth: Well, I am glad you are looking into it. I think I will go and do some reading on all this myself.

Neloth went wandering to wherever and I confronted an angry Rigmor.

She asked, “Why did you put yourself at risk like that? It was stupid!”

“It was not stupid Rigmor. You know that everything I do is a calculated risk. Please, just trust that I know what I am doing.”

“I know all that but… It is just hard watching you do these things.”

“Then close your eyes next time.”

“Idiot!”

“I love you too.”

“What next?”

“Let’s have a quick look outside the walls of Raven Rock. I want to get a feel for the land.”

We headed out of one of the main gaits.

In the distance, I could see a Redoran Guard fighting weird creatures that looked like golems made from ash. If I didn’t hurry, the guard would die.

A couple of Whirlwind Sprint Shouts got me to the skirmish way ahead of my companions.

I started cutting them down, and to my surprise, Meeko was only seconds later into the melee!

We destroyed the last creature just before my other companions arrived. A Redoran Guard lay dead nearby.

  • Wulf: Are you OK?
  • Veleth: Yes, and thanks… I wasn’t sure I’d make it off this farm alive. I wish I could have said the same for my man here.
  • Wulf: I am General Valdr, the one coughing up ash is Meeko. You armour looks slightly different than the other guards.
  • Veleth: I am the Captain of the Redoran Guard on Solstheim, Veleth is my name.
  • Wulf: What were those creatures?
  • Veleth: Some of the Redoran Guard have taken to calling them ‘Ash Spawn’. Me? I don’t care what they’re called. All I know is they are a danger to Raven Rock, and they need to be stopped.
  • Rigmor: Are they originating from this old farm?
  • Veleth: No, but I was searching for clues that might lead me to wherever they’re coming from. I know it isn’t the best place to start, be we know they’ve been coming from this direction.
  • Wulf: This is as likely a place as any. We will lend you a hand.
  • Veleth: Good, I can use all the help I can get. Besides, I did not want to roam out much further and leave Raven Rock behind. I would also hate to lose any more Redoran Guard to these things.
  • Wulf: Where do we begin?
  • Veleth: We were searching the farm when the ash spawn ambushed us. Have a look around and see if you can turn up anything useful.
  • Rigmor: What are these ‘Ash Spawn’?
  • Veleth: No one knows. Superstitious folks say they are forms of those that died long ago that have risen. But I’m not so certain. They started attacking the Bulwark a few weeks ago. My men were able to kill them, but they keep coming back.
  • Rigmor: Are the attacks coordinated? How often do they attack?
  • Veleth: We have had two other assaults on the Bulwark at different spots on the wall. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s almost like they’re becoming more organised and probing it for weaknesses.
  • Wulf: You don’t think they are random attacks?
  • Veleth: Exactly. Something has to be directing them against us, and we need to find out who, or what it is.
  • Wulf: This farm looks like it has been abandoned for some considerable time.
  • Veleth: It is called the Attius Farm. I have been told it was an Imperial farm wiped out by the eruption of the Red Mountain. I am not sure who lived here. It was a pile of rubble when I arrived at Raven Rock.
  • Wulf: Before we start searching, do you know somebody called Miraak?
  • Veleth: Uh, I might know someone. Or maybe not. I can’t remember…
  • Wulf: Think hard. Do you know him?
  • Veleth: I… I can’t be sure. I think maybe he had something to do with a temple. A temple here on the Island. Does that help?
  • Wulf: Yes, thank you, Veleth.

Veleth started looking through the rubble of the farm.

Inigo asked, “Don’t you think it is a waste of time to search this place?”

“If the Ash Spawn did not originate from here, where is the logical place to search for clues?”

“The bodies!”

We sifted through the ashes of the dead creatures and found a note written on Legion letterhead. I read it to my companions and Captain Veleth,

“Raven Rock Stronghold,

My calls for the unconditional surrender of your forces, and an immediate cessation of all hostilities, have been ignored numerous times. I, therefore, have no choice but to assume your purpose on Solstheim is hostile and to treat Raven Rock Stronghold as an enemy of the Empire. I warn you that any attempt to breach Fort Frostmoth will be met with an equal level of aggression. I will do everything in my power to wipe you and your forces off the face of Tamriel. There will be no further communications between us.

General Falx Carius

Garrison Commander, Fort Frostmoth.”

  • Veleth: From General Falx Carius, but that’s impossible.
  • Lydia: Let me guess. He has supposedly been dead for ages.
  • Veleth: He died over two hundred years ago when the Red Mountain levelled Fort Frostmoth. There’s no way he could still be alive.
  • Lydia: There is no way living creatures can be made from ash.
  • Veleth: Point taken.
  • Wulf: We shall visit Fort Frostmoth and see if we can figure out what is happening.
  • Jordis: General Valdr, could you order another General to stand down?
  • Wulf: It comes down to who has been commissioned the longest. I think that he beats me in that regard by quite a margin.
  • Veleth: I’m going to head back to Raven Rock and prepare the men for further assaults.

We looked at my map of Solstheim then headed for the old fort.

We had not gone far when Meeko rushed forward. He had detected a group of bandits who had been waiting in ambush.

Just like when I first met Rigmor, she also rushed ahead before taking appraisal of the situation.

“You have got that nice bow I gave you!” I yelled out to her.

“This is quicker!” she yelled back.

I stood back and watched my friends slice through the bandits efficiently and very quickly.

Rigmor yelled, “Too many people swinging weapons near my head. Bow time!”

When the melee was over, I asked Rigmor, “Do you know there is an arrow imbedded in that nice armour I gave you?”

“It is better the armour than me.”

“I don’t know, I quite like that armour.”

“That was the first time I have swung my sword in anger since I crossed the border.”

“And I am still in awe of your skill, but please, don’t run ahead of us.”

“I’ll try.”

Not far from where the bandits lay in ambush was a beached ship.

I said to my companions, “That ship is crawling with bandits. We can’t leave them there to prey on the citizens of Solstheim.”

I signalled, and everybody crouched while I got a bit closer.

My first arrow took out the highest sentry.

It was like kicking an ant’s nest. Bandits came pouring out of their compound.

I yelled, “Free arrows over here, come and get them!”

After killing a few with Thu’um and arrow, I yelled, “Kill them all!” and my companions charged.

After we killed all the bandits on the boat, I heard Meeko yelping in the distance. He had found another group of bandits and was fighting them by himself. He had retreated to the water as he had no hope against that many.

I thought he would die and then something else attacked the bandits.

I leapt into the water and swam as fast as I could towards the fight.

A blue entity had come to Meeko’s aid. I had no idea what it was, but it saved him.

As soon as I joined the fight, it vanished.

My companions arrived, and the bandits fell quickly.

Rigmor asked Meeko, “Has Wulf nagged you about rushing forward?”

“Woof!”

“Yes, he does tend to get a bit preachy, doesn’t he?”

“Woof!”

I just shook my head and said, “Let’s go search the ship. And no, I have no idea what that blue thing was that helped Meeko.”

The most valuable thing I found on the ship was a limited edition, leather-bound version of ‘The Lusty Argonian Maid’.

As we continued our walk toward the fort, Rigmor asked, “The Aurora is a different colour. Why is that?”

“The ash in the air is refracting the light.”

“I was hoping for some romantic reason, not that science stuff.”

“Perhaps it realised its beauty does not compare to milady. It, therefore, changed colours in a vain attempt to distract my eyes from my beloved.”

“Much better! Look at the reflection on the water, my Dragonborn. There is beauty, even in this harsh landscape.”

“And I am glad you are here to point it out.”

We encountered an old, abandoned shack and decided to investigate. Ash Spawn came out of the ground and attacked us.

We soon took them down.

I noticed a trapdoor. It was newer than the rest of the derelict structure.

I asked the group, “Who thinks we should just ignore this suspicious trapdoor and walk away?”

I waited a few seconds of silence then said, “I agree. Let’s have a look!”

We entered, and discovered the place was full of bandits.

They soon realised we were there. I froze most of them with Ice Form.

We then charged and started cutting them down.

Dozens of more dead bandits added to our tally that night.

We left the hidden bandit nest and continued toward the fort which soon came into view.

When we got closer, I asked, “See anything weird?”

Rigmor replied, “Apart from you? Yes, there are lights in a Fort that is supposed to be abandoned.”

We slowly made our way to the entrance of the fort. Ash Spawn sentries were quickly dispatched with Lightning spells.

When we entered the fort’s forecourt, General Carius’ voice echoed, “The fort is under attack. All men to your stations!”

As we systematically destroyed the Ash Spawn, General Carius declared, “Fort Frostmoth will never fall. Long live The Empire!”

The General entered the courtyard, and we soon ended his second life.

His last words were, “I’ve… failed.”

Rigmor asked, “OK, how was he still alive, and why did he think the Dunmer were the enemy?”

“Let me examine him and see if I can find out.”

I moved the general’s body from the doorway so that I could have a better look.

He did not look undead. His flesh was healthy, and there was no rot. The only odd thing was a strange stone embedded in the middle of his armour.

I found a letter on him which I read to my companions,

“This is the third letter I am attempting to send to the Imperial Council in Cyrodiil for guidance in the matter surrounding the threat to Fort Frostmoth.

A sizable dark elf force has established a stronghold on the southwestern portion of Solstheim. I’ve given them ample opportunity to surrender, but all attempts to communicate with them have met with conflict.

I will continue to do whatever’s necessary to ensure the safety of Fort Frostmoth and rid Solstheim of these invaders until I receive orders stating otherwise.

General Falx Carius garrison commander, Fort Frostmoth.”

I said, “He thought it was more than two hundred years ago, before the Red Mountain eruption. He couldn’t understand why Raven Rock was full of Dunmer. He assumed they were invaders who had taken of the then Imperial settlement.”

Rigmor asked, “So is that rock thingy in his chest why he came back to life?”

“It appears so. Let’s check out the fort and see if there are any other clues.”

We entered the fort and ended up killing many more of the Ash Spawn.

In amongst the rubble, I found the journal of Ildari Sarothril. I read the relevant sections to my companions,

“Day 32

It’s been almost a month since unearthing the crypt at Fort Frostmoth, and I haven’t seen a single spark of life in the general’s remains. Grafting the Heartstone to the subject is proving much more complicated than I originally anticipated. I’ve used almost every method I can think of, and still, there’s no sign of reanimation. At this rate, it could be years before I make any progress… which is time that I just can’t afford right now. If my vengeance is to come to fruition, I need results. If not, I may need to resort to more drastic measures.

Day 47

It finally appears that I’m making some progress. After my latest experiment, General Carius’s eyes briefly opened, and he moved his arms. It lasted for less than a few moments, but it’s the first sign of progress I’ve seen since I arrived here. A few of my assistants were insisting that I imagined things, but I dismissed them for their insolence. They won’t be bothering anyone ever again.

Day 55

General Carius awoke fully today. He bolted upright after my incantations and began staggering around like a blind man. He seemed to ignore my commands… in fact, hearing my voice seemed to increase his hostility. I was able to remove the Heartstone before he became violent, but this isn’t a result that I expected. Even though he’s able to be awakened, I feel as though the real work has just begun.

Day 59

The general is still unable or unwilling to listen to my commands. He’s acting increasingly paranoid and appears to have his own free will. He’s convinced that I am a ‘spy’ or the ‘enemy,’ and I’ve had to restrain him to prevent him from outright attacking me. This is becoming intolerable. I’m beginning to wonder if someone with a Heartstone can be commanded at all. If my experiments with General Carius fail, I may have to resort to self-experimentation… something I’ve been avoiding for a long time.”

Rigmor said, “So a Necromancer did this. Using what she called a ‘Heartstone’?”

“Yes, and it appears she killed her assistants simply because they spoke their minds.”

“Who was she seeking revenge on?”

“The simple answer would be Raven Rock, but we don’t know enough.”

“Self-experimentation?”

“I wonder how that turned out?”

We exited the fort and made our way back to Raven Rock with no other encounters.

It was not long before midnight, so we were surprised Captain Veleth was still patrolling the streets.

  • Veleth: What news do you bring from Fort Frostmoth?
  • Wulf: A Necromancer had resurrected general Carius. The Necromancer’s name is Ildari Sarothril. We had to kill him again.
  • Veleth: I had my suspicions that he was undead. How else could he have survived for over two hundred years?
  • Wulf: He thought it was the time before Red Mountain erupted. He believed the Dunmer must have invaded and taken over Raven Rock.
  • Veleth: It’s a shame. There are quite a few tales of General Casius’ exploits, including the founding of Raven Rock.
  • Wulf: Have you heard of Ildari Sarothril?
  • Veleth: I think she lives in the Telvanni village and is assistant to Wizard Neloth. But they rarely come to Raven Rock, and I may be mistaken.
  • Wulf: I would like to have a word with her. I dislike it when heroes of The Empire are used in such experiments.
  • Veleth: I don’t think she would enjoy such a meeting!
  • Rigmor: Believe me, Captain, she would not!
  • Wulf: More importantly, there will be no more Ash Spawn attacks on Raven Rock!
  • Veleth: Councillor Morvayn told me to give this to you if made it back in one piece… and you got rid of General Carius. It is better than a soldier’s pay, so you should be thankful.

Captain Veleth held out a hefty bag of coins which I refused to accept.

  • Wulf: We do what we do because it is right. We are not mercenaries. Raven Rock’s finances are already stressed. Please tell Councillor Morvayn we would prefer he keeps the money.
  • Veleth: That is mighty generous of you.
  • Wulf: It must be difficult being the Redoran Guard commander.
  • Veleth: It can be. Even the most experienced warriors can fall prey to petty distractions. They usually don’t amount to much, but they make my job that much harder.
  • Rigmor: I doubt you would tolerate Skooma addiction, so I assume you are talking about alcohol?
  • Veleth: Yes. In particular, some of my men have grown a fondness for ‘Emberbrand Wine’.
  • Rigmor: I confess I have never heard of Emberbrand Wine despite being a connoisseur of fine alcohol.

Rigmor gave me a death stare as I battled to hold in my laughter.

  • Veleth: I despise the stuff. It’s potent and tremendously addicting. I’ve seen men fail to finish even a single flask.
  • Wulf: Now you have piqued Breyn’s interest. She likes a challenge.
  • Veleth: If I knew where they were stashing the bottles, I’d put an end to it myself.
  • Rigmor: There is a stash? We can find it for you!
  • Veleth: That would be helpful. I just don’t have the time to do it myself right now.
  • Rigmor: Not a problem. Where should we look?
  • Veleth: They are too smart to have left it in the Bulwark. I’d search one of the abandoned houses on the outskirts of town.
  • Wulf: We have a secret weapon that will find that wine. Don’t we Inigo?
  • Inigo: My trusty nose will soon find it.
  • Rigmor: I knew there was a reason why I liked you, Inigo.
  • Wulf: Tell us about the Redoran Guard. You seem to be quite proud of them.
  • Veleth: All of the soldiers in this town are of the Redoran Guard. They are some of the best warriors that House Redoran has to offer. I’ve spent quite a few years honing their skills, and I can assure you they’re not just your average city guard.
  • Wulf: I know a few exceptional city guards, don’t I Lydia and Jordis.
  • Lydia: Housecarls now, my Thane.
  • Wulf: Of course.
  • Rigmor: We have already encountered many bandits. Is that why you have such elite soldiers on Solstheim?
  • Veleth: No. The Redoran Guards are here to protect Councillor Morvayn. He has quite a few friends in the Council back in Morrowind, and they wanted to ensure his safety while he was here. Other than that, I’m not at liberty to discuss it.
  • Wulf: Politics with legal assassins in the mix. What fun!
  • Veleth: Yes, well…
  • Wulf: We shall go and find that wine for you.

I gave a beggar a few septims. It seems even the Dunmer have downtrodden they don’t look after.

Ingo used his snout to sniff for alcohol and led us to a barrel between the derelict buildings.

Inside the barrel was eight bottles of Emberbrand Wine which we distributed between us.

Rigmor could not resist and took a swig, then spent a minute coughing and wheezing.

Finally, she said, “Good stuff! I wonder if I can import this? Colin would love to have this on his shelf.”

“Colin?” I asked

“The innkeeper of the Tack&Tap, my favourite drinking spot in Bruma.”

“Have you moved your throne in there yet?”

“That is a great idea!”

Captain Veleth was astounded we found the cache so quickly.

Before retiring for the night, we visited the Shrine of Azura.

I said to Rigmor, “Lady Azura has been helping us again. I don’t know if she is aware of the danger we have been warned about, and why I can’t come to Cyrodiil.”

“She helps in the short-term when she can. She would know there is some long-term plan of The Divines but not what the main concern is. I told you there was a bit of a fuss when I paid to have a statue of Azura placed in front of my castle.”

“Only because you are in a Nord centric county.”

“That’s right. Travel to any other county and the statues of Daedric Princes are all over the place.”

“Well, let’s head for the local and see what luxurious rooms we can rent for the night.”

The inn is called the ‘Retching Netch’.

I walked up to the barkeep.

  • Wulf: Good evening, barkeep.
  • Geldis: News has reached my ears that you are General Valdr. The Dragonborn of legend!
  • Wulf: That I am. And your name is?
  • Geldis: I am Geldis Sadri and am privileged to welcome such a distinguished guest. This is my establishment, the Retching Netch Cornerclub, home of the finest Sujamma that will ever grace your lips.
  • Rigmor: There must be a story behind its name?
  • Geldis: It’s actually quite a funny story. A few years ago, I was walking down by the docks, and I noticed a Dunmer staggering along with a bottle of Sujamma in hand. He was one of my patrons and liked to drink heavily, so I wasn’t exactly surprised.
  • Wulf: I know the type.
  • Rigmor: Ahem!
  • Geldis: Ah, but you see this particular Dunmer was as naked as the day he was born and singing badly at the top of his lungs. As I’m watching this spectacle, a Netch floats over the Bulwark towards him. The man looks straight up at the Netch… yells ‘have a drink’ and tosses the bottle… and it never hit the ground.
  • Wulf: Can you imagine the horror if that booze hit the ground in front of Breyn!
  • Lydia: She would faint!
  • Rigmor: Lydia, you are supposed to be on my side!
  • Wulf: Breyn wouldn’t faint but would run over and lap it up!
  • Rigmor: Hey! Wait… I probably would. Continue please, Geldis.
  • Geldis: Well, the bottle broke on the Netch, and it must have swallowed its contents because it started floating sort of tilted. Finally, it stopped and began to quiver. A few moments later, the foulest liquid to ever assail your nostrils spewed from its maw. I’ve seen plenty of drunks in my day, and I’ll tell you right now that Netch was sick.
  • Rigmor: And that explains the name. Good story!
  • Lydia: I wonder if Breyn would have licked it off the Netch?
  • Rigmor: Lydia!
  • Lydia: Hey, he pays my wages.
  • Wulf: We are new to Raven Rock and I have always found barkeeps to be a fountain of knowledge.
  • Rigmor: Do you know any juicy rumours?
  • Wulf: I was getting to that!
  • Geldis: If you’ve got gold on your hands, you might talk to Ralis, up at Kolbjorn Barrow. I’ve heard he wants to excavate the place.
  • Wulf: Sounds interesting. I don’t mind a bit of archaeology.
  • Geldis: Coast has been dangerous lately… a lot of Reavers about. I’ve heard they’re searching for the treasure of Haknir Death-Brand, the pirate king.
  • Rigmor: Now that would make a change. It would be fun to search for treasure and not something trying to kill us.
  • Wulf: Have you some rooms we can rent for the night?
  • Geldis: Two rooms with a single bed each. There is plenty of room for bedrolls, though.
  • Wulf: Beggars can’t be choosers. We will take them.

We followed Geldis to the rooms.

He explained, “As I said plenty of room for bedrolls here. The smaller one next door has barely room for the bed. Goodnight.”

Rigmor and I left our companions to sort out the bigger room and headed for the smaller.

“We can’t both fit on that!” exclaimed Rigmor.

“We have shared a single bed before.”

“Yes, but we were not exactly sleeping, were we?”

“I could pull up one of the chairs and be your Guardian again?”

“No, we will manage. Just don’t get any weird ideas.”

“I won’t if you won’t.”

After a bit of giggling and contortions, we managed to find a comfortable sleeping arrangement.

I know not what time I fell asleep.

I know I was enveloped in the special quiet my beloved and I share.

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