Middas, 8th Frostfall, 4E 201

Skyrim quests: Dragonborn, The Finale Decent, An Axe to Find.

Skyrim mods: Rigmor of Bruma.

I was not keen on visiting Miraak’s Temple till I had some more information about him. So, we decided to talk to the locals and investigate anything unusual in case it is connected.

The first person we visited that morning was the blacksmith, who happened to be a Nord.

  • Wulf: Good morning. General Valdr is my name. I think you are the first Nord we have seen in Raven Rock, apart from sailors.
  • Glover: The General Valdr? The Dragonborn?
  • Wulf: Yes, and your name is?
  • Glover: Glover Mallory. I would like to thank you for saving us all!
  • Wulf: I didn’t do it by myself. Two of my friends here, Lydia and Inigo, fought beside me against Alduin.
  • Glover: What can I do for you?
  • Wulf: Do you know somebody called Miraak?
  • Glover: No, I… Wait. Maybe. I don’t know how I know that name…
  • Wulf: Think hard.
  • Glover: I… I’m not sure if I know him. I don’t want to talk about this.
  • Wulf: Don’t worry about it.
  • Glover: You haven’t seen Crescius Caerellius have you? That foolish old man has taken my pickaxe again!
  • Wulf: I wouldn’t know a Crescius Caerellius from a Caerellius Crescius.
  • Glover: Oh, of course not, being new in town and all that.
  • Wulf: What is so important about a pickaxe. There are probably dozens lying about in the mine over there.
  • Glover: No, no, no. This isn’t just your run-of-the-mill pickaxe… I’m talking about an Ancient Nordic Pickaxe. They don’t exactly grow on trees, you know.
  • Wulf: What is so special about an Ancient Nordic Pickaxe?
  • Glover: It’s the only tool tough enough to crack Stalhrim, is what it is. Not many of those beauties left in the world… forging them is a lost art. The one Crescius ‘borrowed’ came from the Skaal village up north. I, uh, traded them some goods for it.
  • Wulf: Where would I find Crescius?
  • Glover: You might try the abandoned mine. He has been spending a lot of time in there for some reason.
  • Wulf: I was expecting to see more people wearing Stalhrim armour.
  • Glover: Stalhrim is very rare. I don’t think I’ve come across more than a chunk or two in my lifetime, and smithing’s my trade. If you’re looking to learn more, you should head over to the Skaal Village. Someone there’s bound to know more about it than I do.
  • Rigmor: How did a Nord blacksmith end up in Raven Rock?
  • Glover: A fair question, and the one that I hear most often from visitors to our town. I wish I had a more romantic tale to tell, but I was simply seeking my fortune and chose Raven Rock to ply my trade. Besides, knowing how to repair Bonemold armour wasn’t very useful in Riften.
  • Rigmor: Riften is one of my favourite places in Skyrim. How did you learn to smith Bonemold?
  • Glover: I had a friend there, a dark elf named Vanryth… a very talented armoursmith. I spent a lot of time with the guy swapping smithing techniques. Learned a heck of a lot, including how to repair Bonemold. After he moved on to greener pastures, I decided to pack up, move out here and put those lessons to the test. I have been here ever since.
  • Wulf: It has been a pleasure to meet you, Glover. Have a good day.

As we were walking away, Inigo asked, “Did you notice the shadowmark?”

“Yes, it is the only one I have seen in Raven Rock. Our friend Glover is a fence for the Riften Thieves Guild.”

“Supply and demand, my friend.”

We approached an alchemist.

  • Milore: Looking for any potions? Ingredients? Alchemical supplies?
  • Wulf: Not at the moment. My name if General Valdr. And you are?
  • Milore: Milore Ienth. You and your companions destroyed the Ash Spawn. That has made it safer for my husband and me to work in the fields. Thank you.
  • Wulf: Your husband owns a farm?
  • Milore:  As you can imagine, the eruption of the Red Mountain took an awful toll on Solstheim. Hunting for game has been scarce, and the waters are too tainted for fishing. According to Councillor Morvayn, my husband Garyn has been Raven Rock’s most important food source for decades.
  • Rigmor: Where did you learn alchemy?
  • Milore: After we left Morrowind, we found ourselves in Skyrim. We wandered around a bit and ended up in Morthal where we took temporary residence with Lami, the town’s alchemist. I was fascinated by her work, and over a period of a few years, she taught me quite a bit.
  • Rigmor: Morthal is one of the more tolerant of Skyrim cities. Why did you leave?
  • Milore: We became homesick. When word reached us that a settlement of Dunmer was forming on Solstheim, we were thrilled. It’s been difficult, but I’m not regretting it one bit. I’m glad we’ve been able to stay and help.
  • Wulf: You have a good selection of ingredients. Some of them quite rare.
  • Milore: You’re an alchemist?
  • Wulf: Amongst other things. I find myself drawn to it for some reason. I think it is the infinite possibilities and the chance to create something new and useful.
  • Milore: Exactly! And I am proud to say that I grow or harvest most of these ingredients myself.
  • Wulf: Have you heard of somebody called Miraak?
  • Milore: I don’t think so, though it sounds like a name I’ve heard before…
  • Wulf: Where have you heard it before?
  • Milore: I hear that name, and I see a temple, here on Solstheim. What could that mean?
  • Wulf: Do not worry about Miraak. It has been nice meeting you Milore. Have a nice day.

We walked the short distance to Garyn, Milore’s husband.

  • Garyn: Welcome to Raven Rock, traveller. Could I interest you in any fine ash-grown foods?
  • Rigmor: I assume ash-grown means you need special skills to be a farmer in this harsh environment?
  • Garyn: Even before the eruption of Red Mountain, the Dunmer had been growing food in the Ashlands for thousands of years. It was born out of the necessity to survive in the harsh climate of our homeland. And now, with the constant eruptions of the Red Mountain, it’s more important than ever.
  • Rigmor: We don’t need anything at the moment.
  • Garyn: Well, remember that next time you’re hungry, stop by… I always have plenty of food for sale.

As we walked away from Garyn, I said to Rigmor, “Neither of us asked him about Miraak. I think we both know it is a waste of time.”

“Even if somebody hasn’t been drawn to the Earth Stone, its dweomer makes them forget about Miraak.”

“We might as well visit the mine and see if we can get Glover’s pickaxe back. Then we will head for Miraak’s Temple with no other information and hope for the best.”

When we entered the mine, we heard a heated discussion so of course, we had to stickybeak.

  • Crescius: Damn it, woman! I said to leave me be!
  • Aphia: Crescius, last time you explored the mine you almost fell to your death. I’m not spending the rest of my days as a widow!
  • Crescius: And I’m telling you that I’ll do whatever it takes to find my great-grandfather’s remains. He’s down here, I can feel it.
  • Aphia: That was almost two centuries ago. There may be nothing left to find.
  • Crescius: Just let me go, woman!
  • Aphia: Crescius, you’re an obstinate old fool, and you’re going to get yourself killed.

When we approached, Crescius was rather rude.

  • Crescius: Who in the blazes are you?! Can’t you see I’m busy?
  • Aphia: My apologies for Crescius’s ravings and mood!
  • Wulf: Sorry if we interrupted. We can come back later.
  • Aphia: Can you talk some sense into him?
  • Wulf: About what?
  • Aphia: This foolish old man thinks he’s thirty years younger than he is. He’s going to get himself killed traipsing around the mine.
  • Wulf: Is there a reason he is traipsing around the mine?
  • Crescius: Why should we tell you? We don’t even know who you are!
  • Wulf: I am General Valdr. The lovely lady in the gold armour is Breyn. The other two-handed warrior is Jordis, and the sword & board warrior is Lydia. The blue furry gentleman is Inigo. The white fleabag is Meeko.
  • Aphia: They got rid of the Ash Spawn so show some manors, Crescius!
  • Crescius: My dear Aphia, he is The Dragonborn, the one that has been in all the news-sheets.
  • Aphia: Crescius has convinced himself that there’s some sort of conspiracy involving the East Empire Company and the mine’s closure. We came across an old letter that belonged to his great-grandfather in our house, and he believes every word written in it.
  • Crescius: Mark my words, these mines hold a secret that could put Raven Rock back on the map!
  • Rigmor: Maybe we can help? Tell us what you think this big secret is.
  • Crescius: It is a secret the East Empire Company swept under the rug two centuries ago. It killed my great-grandfather and left Raven Rock with a worthless and tainted mine.
  • Aphia: Crescius’s great-grandfather worked for the East Empire Company. The letter mentions some sort of discovery he was sent to investigate. There’s nothing remarkable in the letter. I don’t know what he’s so excited about.
  • Crescius: His name was Gratian Caerellius. He spent his entire life exploring ancient ruins across Tamriel, and he died in these very mines almost 200 years ago. The East Empire Company called it ‘a terrible accident,’ claiming that he was lost in a rockfall, but I know better.
  • Wulf: If you think the letter proves otherwise then let us, as neutral judges, see if we agree if it is proof of anything.
  • Crescius: I have the letter sent to Gratian with me. Here, read it.

Crescius handed me a letter. I read it to my companions,

“Gratian,

I would appreciate if you could help us with a situation we’ve encountered in Raven Rock. It seems that the miners there have stumbled across some sort of ruins under the surface near shaft three, and we need your expertise to take a look. I could send someone else if you’re busy, but I figured you’d want to go since I seem to recall that you’re originally from Solstheim. Let us know if you make any progress.

Rendellus Thandarian

East Empire Company

Imperial City, Cyrodiil”

  • Wulf: We are investigating an odd phenomenon that is happening in Solstheim. Perhaps this discovery is related.
  • Aphia: What phenomenon?
  • Rigmor: Aphia, do you know a man called Miraak?
  • Aphia: I think so but from where? I can’t recall.
  • Rigmor: Please, try to remember.
  • Aphia: It’s difficult… Something about it doesn’t feel right. A… A temple, here on the island. That’s all I can recall.
  • Rigmor: What is being built just outside of town?
  • Aphia: The Earth Stone is there, and the rest… It’s a shrine, but I… Did we build that? I’m not sure.
  • Rigmor: Crescius, do you know a man called Miraak?
  • Crescius: I recognise the name, but… I don’t know how I know it. It sounds so familiar.
  • Aphia: Tell them what you know about Miraak. I don’t understand what is happening.
  • Crescius: It’s so strange. I feel like it’s from a dream. Something about the Earth Stone, and a shrine… That’s all. That’s all I can think of.
  • Rigmor: Nobody in Raven Rock can remember who Miraak is, but everybody knows who he is. That is the contradiction, the strange phenomenon we are investigating.
  • Wulf: It is worth our time to look into the matter of Gratian’s disappearance. Even if we only find he died in a rockfall, you will have your answer and peace of mind. We can also see if this ‘discovery’ he was investigating is related to Miraak.
  • Crescius: Then you will need this.

Crescius handed me a key

  • Wulf: We will try and get proof of the East Empire Company’s lies if that is what has occurred.
  • Crescius: Gratian was a stickler for keeping a journal. Almost compulsive, you might say.
  • Rigmor: I know the type.
  • Crescius: If you find him, his journal will tell the story.
  • Aphia: I understand why you are doing this, but we are all unsure of any dangers you may face.
  • Rigmor: No more danger than we have faced before. Do not worry as there is very little that can stand in the way of General Valdr and his team.
  • Aphia: I can believe that.
  • Wulf: Before we go, Crescius, I believe you have Glover’s pickaxe?
  • Crescius: The damn fool doesn’t even deserve to have it! The pickaxe was made for mining, not selling. I’ll bet he stole it from the Skaal in the first place.
  • Wulf: You suspect Glover but without proof that is just an allegation. Whereas if you keep it, you are admitting to theft.
  • Crescius: Oh, very well. Here. Tell him I hope he drops the thing on his foot.

Crescius handed me the pickaxe

  • Wulf: We will come and give you any news as soon as we can.
  • Aphia: Come, my love. We might as well relax at home while we wait.

Crescius and Aphia headed for the exit.

Rigmor said to me, “I would love to know the story behind those two!”

I replied, “There love must be strong. She will still be relatively young for a Dunmer when he dies of old age. They would have known that from the beginning.”

“I remember discussing with my father when I was ten about getting a puppy. He told me I would outlive it and that its death would break my heart.”

“And your answer to that?”

“I argued that my love would not die when the dog grew old and took its last breath. That I would cry because I missed its company but would laugh when I remembered the good times. That is the love that would be forever.”

“And the outcome?”

“We went to a reputable breeder the next day, and I got Rana. She lived up to her name and was as noble as any human I have met. She tried to bite the Thalmor dragging me away from my father. She died at the end of a Thalmor boot. Not one kick. Many. One after the other.”

“Oh, Rigmor. You have never mentioned this before.”

“It took the love of a Dunmer woman for a stubborn old man to remind me. Isn’t that strange?”

Rigmor cried, and I held her tight. I didn’t think I could despise the Thalmor any more than I already did. How wrong I was.

Tears freely flowed with Lydia and Jordis. Inigo had a look I had not seen before. It took a few seconds for me to realise what it was. For the first time since I met him, Inigo was angry. Meeko whined and nudged my friend till he took notice and gave him a good scratch behind the ear. That dog is not a dog. He is a gift from the gods. But then again, all dogs are.

After everybody had blown their noses and wiped their eyes, we made our way into the depths of the mine.

It wasn’t long before we encountered giant spiders.

Some I froze then with Ice Form and my companions would shatter them with their weapons.

Others I burnt to a crisp with Fireballs.

We came to a boarded passage. I decided to remove the barrier and the spider behind it with a combination of Fireball and Lightning.

We came to the gate that required the key I had been given.

Beyond that gate, we were no longer just in a mine. There was ancient Nord stonework in proliferation

Further on Rigmor whispered, “I must have become sensitive to them after following you into those dungeons. I smell Draugr!”

Inigo replied, “Sorry, that was me. I am not used to the spicy Solstheim food.”

Very soon after that, Meeko found a Draugr. He doesn’t like them very much!

Rigmor said, “I told you so!”

Lydia joked, “Maybe he smelt Inigo and has come out to say hello to a friend?”

All joking ceased when the Draugr proved very strong in the Thu’um, and we all ended up flying around the cavern.

We battled many powerful Draugr, Lich, Skeletal Warriors and Skeletal Mages. If Crescius came anywhere near this part of the mine, he would have been killed.

Rigmor was covered in gore.

I asked, “I wonder what your citizens would think of their Countess if they saw you like this?”

“I would get fewer arguments during a parley.”

“You would probably get less bullshit from your old fart advisors as well.”

“Nah, they would just nag me about having to look like a Countess and not a barbarian.”

Further on, Inigo said, “This place smells troublesome. It may be a good idea to ready our weapons.”

Rigmor replied, “I can’t smell any Draugr, just smelly cheese.”

Jordis said, “That is Inigo this time. Just stay upwind.”

Some Draugr pretend they are just regular corpses, but they are easily spotted.

We tried to deal with the Thu’um using Draugr from a distance, but often they were too numerous for us to achieve that.

We then got tossed around, which was rather annoying. I am supposed to that to the enemy and not the other way around!

The Lich were incredibly powerful with both Thu’um and Magicka.

Because Celestine was not with us, I had given each of my companions many of the best healing potions I could make. I asked, and so far, they had all used a couple each as we travelled through the mine.

We came upon a Stalhrim deposit.

I hacked away with the Ancient Nordic Pickaxe and ended up with several lumps of ore.

We entered a cavern full of Draugr. I took them down safely with arrow and Shout.

At the end of the cavern was a waterfall. Behind that was more Stalhrim.

I chipped away and was rewarded with some more ore.

After killing even more enemies and travelling through more Nord ruins, we came to the secret the East Empire Company wanted hidden.

We had to leap down to reach Gratian Caerellius.

Next to his skeletal remains was an unusual two-handed sword.

Near the sword was Gratian’s journal. I read it to my companions,

30 Rain’s Hand 4E10

I received a letter from the East Empire Company today. They say that some of the miners broke through the wall in shaft three of Raven Rock Mine and found some ruins. I hope this isn’t another waste of time like that fiasco they sent me to in Cyrodiil. I’ll gather my assistant, Millius and sail back to Raven Rock at first light… it’ll be nice to see the old house in Solstheim again.

7 Second Seed 4E10

Finally arrived in Raven Rock and was surprised at the number of dark elf refugees living in town. They aren’t really from mining stock, but I think they’ll make fine workers one day. Millius and I spent a good part of the day clearing the ash off of the roof of my house. The damn volcano is still erupting almost day and night. If it weren’t for the ash covering everything, it would almost look beautiful.

8 Second Seed 4E10

Millius and I are headed into Raven Rock Mine to have a look at whatever it is the miners uncovered. I think I’ll stop by the old Swing and Scoop and pick up a few supplies before we head down. Couldn’t hurt to be prepared.

9 Second Seed 4E10

It looks like the miners broke right through the wall of an old Nordic barrow. I’ve seen this sort of thing in Skyrim before… damn Nords have barrows dotting the landscape, and almost none of them are ever marked on any maps. This barrow belongs to something called the ‘Bloodskal Clan.’ I’m going to take some rubbings of the inscriptions on the tombs and see if I can’t learn some more information from my history books.

10 Second Seed 4E10

It’s been a few days, and I can’t find even a single mention of this clan anywhere. Millius and I decided to proceed ahead. We’ve come to a dropdown point, but I can see a massive chamber below. Took the better part of the day to lower everything down and climb down the almost sheer drop.

11 Second Seed 4E10

It’s been an astonishing day of discovery! After exploring the large chamber beyond the drop-off, I was startled to find the strangest weapon I’ve ever laid eyes upon sitting on a pedestal of sorts. The blade appears to be flawless and is emitting a faint chilling glow. Bits of parchment I found about the chamber seem to call this ‘The Bloodskal Blade.’ Not Certain if I should remove it yet, I think I’ll sleep on it.

12 Second Seed 4E10

I’ve decided against my own better judgement to remove the Bloodskal Blade from its pedestal. Millius seems entirely against it, but we need to bring this wondrous artefact with us when we find a way out of the barrow.

13 Second Seed 4E10

I should have listened to Millius. The moment the blade was lifted, we were set upon by Draugr. Millius fought bravely, but he fell. I was able to destroy the remaining ones, but I was severely wounded. I can barely stand. My only chance would be finding a way out of this place, but I fear that I’m trapped.

14? Second Seed 4E10

Exploring has been slow. I can only move for maybe a few minutes at a time before I have to rest. My supplies are running low, and I’m feeling weaker by the hour. The only progress I’ve made is finding a strange door with markings on it that I’ve never seen.

There appears to be something to them I’m missing, as they’ve confounded my attempts at getting through. I’ll have to study this further to make any progress… barely can keep awake.

I’m reasonably sure that the key to the door involves the use of the Bloodskal Blade. When swinging the weapon, I’m noticing a ribbon of mystical energy emanating from it. I think by swinging the sword in different directions, it’s possible to manipulate this ribbon and solve whatever puzzle this door presents. I hope to get well enough to put this to the test soon… each swing is a considerable effort.

Last entry

I’ve lost track of time, and my strength is fading. I can’t even stand anymore. My wounds refuse to heal. I’m afraid this tomb will become my resting place. If anyone finds this journal, please send these notes to my superiors at the East Empire Company. Tell my wife that I love her.

May Arkay guide me to my final rest.”

  • Wulf: The discovery of the sword and Draugr would not concern the East Empire Company enough to hide them. They must have been afraid of something else being disturbed.
  • Lydia: Yes, if they made it this far to find out what happened to Gratian and his assistant, they would have at least recovered the bodies, his journal and that sword.
  • Wulf: I think scholars dug up more information and warned the East Empire Company of what lies within these ancient ruins.
  • Rigmor: Of course, being the smart people we are, we will not run away but endeavour to find out what that is?
  • Wulf: It may be related to Miraak or be some other danger to the people of Solstheim.
  • Inigo: As we travelled through the mines it was apparent it is still very rich in ebony ore. They would not abandon such profits for anything less than terrifying!
  • Wulf: Sounds like fun!
  • Jordis: Has anybody ever accused Wulf of being weird?
  • Lydia: When he was a child, somebody dropped him on his head.
  • Jordis: Oh, that explains a lot!
  • Rigmor: Welcome back, Lydia. I thought I had lost you to the dark side.
  • Wulf: How about coming to my defence Inigo?
  • Lydia: Yes, because a blue Khajiit that speaks to a dragonfly is not weird.
  • Inigo: She has a point, my friend.

It appeared Millius took on the Draugr armed with only a pickaxe.

We walked up to the end of the room then I said, “This is relatively straight forward. I simply need to swing the Bloodskal Blade in the direction of the red line. So horizontally for the first one.

I swung the sword, then the stonework surrounding the door shifted.

I did that for the second horizontal line on the other side of the door.

I was then faced with two vertical lines that required vertical swings of the sword.

Two smaller but higher up horizontal lines appeared.

Two horizontal swings later, a red line appeared down the centre of the door.

I said, “Everybody, weapons at the ready. I have no idea what to expect when this door opens.”

I swung the Bloodskal Blade vertically then the doors parted.

Pendulum blades lined the revealed corridor.

“Everybody stay here till I disable the blades!”

The blades swung with a regular period, like a pendulum, so I found it easy to pass without injury.

At the end of the corridor was a lever. When I pulled it a door at the end of the corridor opened, and the blades stopped swinging.

Rigmor was the first to join me with the other trotting after her

We entered a cavern that was too square to be natural. At the end was a Word Wall.

Meeko growled. He sensed something we could not see.

When we got closer to the Word Wall, the enemy revealed itself. It was a Dragon Priest.

It summoned some tentacled creature that succumbed quickly to Lightening and a couple of arrows.

Meeko leapt into the water to confront the Dragon Priest.

My companions peppered the enemy with arrows while I blasted it with Lightening. Meeko ripped into it with claws and teeth.

After the Dragon Priest was defeated, I approached the Word Wall to absorb the Word of Power.

It was ‘MUL’, the first Word of the Dragon Aspect Shout. I already knew all three Power Words, their meaning and the entire Shout.

I interpreted the Word Wall’s inscription for my friends,

“All praise glorious Miraak most powerful servant of all Dragon Priests, whose strength was granted by the gardener of mankind.”

  • Rigmor: Was that Miraak we just killed?
  • Wulf: No. It was another Dragon Priest. I don’t know his name.
  • Inigo: Who is the ‘gardener of mankind’?
  • Wulf: The Demon of Knowledge. The Woodland Man. The Daedric Prince, Hermaeus Mora.
  • Rigmor: You encountered him not long ago, and I don’t think he liked you very much.
  • Inigo: No, he doesn’t. He asked me to be his Champion, and I refused. That dented his ego a bit.
  • Lydia: I am confused. If Miraak is Dragonborn, why did he become a Dragon Priest?
  • Wulf: I think he refused the tasks of The Divines and used the powers gifted him by Akatosh for selfish purposes.
  • Rigmor: The Dragon Priests supposedly vanished when Alduin was cast forward in time, and mortals won the Dragon War. You seem to have a habit of finding live ones, though.
  • Wulf: It appears they went into hiding. If Miraak was alive during the Dragon War, then he was a Dragonborn before Saint Alessia. He was the first of my kind and not her.
  • Rigmor: And one of the Divine Tasks he refused would have been to fight Alduin!
  • Wulf: He sided with the enemy, which meant the Tongues had to find a way to defeat Alduin.
  • Jordis: Why does it say Hermaeus Mora provided his strength?
  • Wulf: Like every other mortal, Dragonborn have free will and do not have to follow the same moral path I have chosen. At some stage, he has allied himself with Mora. He is a traitor to The Divines and the mortals he was supposed to defend.
  • Inigo: My friend, it was dangerous enough tackling another Dragonborn…
  • Rigmor: Now you face a Dragonborn and Dark Lord together!
  • Wulf: I will deal with them individually or together. I have no fear of Miraak or Mora.
  • Rigmor: Why can’t we just retire to a lovely farm somewhere?
  • Wulf: Maybe one day. But there has to be a Mundus and Nirn for such a farm to exist.

I examined the Dragon Priest and found his name was inscribed in Daedric Runes inside his mask. It is Zahkriisos.

I said to my friends, “The Dragon Priest’s name is Zahkriisos which means Sword-Blood. This temple is dedicated to him. The Draugr were his guards.”

After we defeated Zahkriisos, another exit appeared.

We headed for it and upon a pedestal sat a book. It pulsed with a power I could feel. I recognised the taint if not the dweomer.

I said to Rigmor, “This book is a portal to Apocrypha. The Oblivion Plane of Hermaeus Mora.”

“You are going to leave it alone!”

“I can’t do that. Mora is not one of the more malevolent Dark Lords. He does not want the destruction of Nirn or Mundus. Nor does he desire to enslave or slaughter mortals. He seeks knowledge and has no reason to harm me.”

“What if Miraak is there?”

“Then I get to the end of my task, and we can enjoy our time in Solstheim looking for treasure.”

“Mora was angry with you!”

“He knows if I die then so do the mortals with which he trades knowledge. His reason for being would cease. He is full of bluster and confidence. Me appearing in Apocrypha will be a minor victory for him. He will think I am just another seeker of knowledge.”

“I hate this! I really hate this!”

“Just have faith that I will be OK. These are the risks I must take.”

“Just hurry back!”

I hugged Rigmor then turned to the book.

I opened it then green tentacles of runes wrapped around my neck and body. The rune tentacles turned into physical ones that dragged me through the portal.

I must admit that Apocrypha was not quite what I expected. I thought there would be a lot of books and scrolls. And there was! But instead of being neatly sorted on shelves with a catalogue with some librarians to help you find what you need, they were stacked in huge piles and surrounded by black ink like water infested with homicidal tentacles and the odd floating eye.

Lovely!

Mora lost no time to indulge in some gloating, “You thought to reject me, and yet here you are. Your journey towards enlightenment has finally led you here, to my realm, as I knew it would.”

“You knew nothing of the sort so stop pretending to have the knowledge you lack. You also said you would break me yet I came of my own free will. I assume if I open the book again, I will return on my own free will. Am I correct?”

“Yes, if you are a fool or a coward you can reread your book before Apocrypha claims you forever.”

“You are yet to figure out why I am here. What knowledge do I seek? Even in your realm, my mind and therefore, my purpose is hidden knowledge. Maddening, isn’t it?”

Silence from the god.

I will not bore future historians with a detailed account of my travel through Apocrypha. It is a maze that changes for each traveller. There are some basic features of the realm I will describe.

At first, I had no idea what minions Mora may have. I assumed the tentacles in the inky water were hostile. I use Dragon Sight to warn me of any warm-blooded enemies.

Whenever I got close to a tentacle, it would lash out at me. They were slow, and their aim was poor. When they did hit, no significant damage occurred.

The creature that Zahkriisos summoned was the most numerous and easily detected with Dragon Sight even though they were invisible most of the time. They were not very robust and died quickly. Their attack spells were also weak.

Tentacles also inhabited small pools of inky water and would lash out when I got close.

Organic switches that I will call Scrye are used to unlock doors and open doors, lower platform, extend stairways etc.

When you touch a Scrye, a ball like a seedpod falls into its centre thus triggering the ‘switch’.

There are Fonts of Magicka which, when touched, restore your Magicka. Since I have a substantial Magicka capacity and it regenerates quickly, they were of no use to me.

There are also Fonts of Stamina which, when touched, restore your stamina. They are also of no use to me.

Large tentacled creatures were easily spotted with Dragon Sight.

They had short-range poison attacks but were easily brought down with arrow or spell.

Some pods held various treasures. They contained nothing spectacular, and they were never locked.

At the end of the maze was another book that pulsed with a green light.

When I opened it, I could choose some knowledge as a prize for putting up with the boredom of Apocrypha. I decided to learn how to stop my Thu’um and Shouts harming my allies as I could already do with Magicka and spells.

This was undoubtedly valuable knowledge.

After absorbing the knowledge, I was teleported back to where I read the book.

Rigmor squeezed me till my ribs cracked, which was impressive since I am wearing ebony armour.

She said, “That didn’t take long!”

“No, the book did not take me to where Miraak is. Just to a maze in Apocrypha. You would like it, but I hate mazes.”

“Was Mora there?”

“Yes, and full of bullshit. Like most Daedric Princes, he pretends to have powers he does not have and omnipotence he does not possess.”

“I don’t suppose he likes you any better after your quick visit?”

“No, but he will bide his time till I need something from him. Then the unbearable gloating will start.”

‘Your outline was here but unmoving. It was like somebody had made a statue out of very thin glass.”

“I don’t know what that is all about. Put it down to metaphysical gobblygook.”

“Why are you so confident when doing these things? You walked into the Mad God’s plane without fear. Same with Malacath’s and Boethia’s. Most people would be terrified.”

“You have to understand their motives. Well, not their motives but their nature made permanent upon their creation. Molag Bal could not suddenly act like Azura. He has not chosen his path. It would be like the wind deciding to behave like sunlight. There are some Dark Lords whose plane I would not like to visit because they enjoy hurting and killing mortals. Some would take great delight in having a Son of Akatosh as a plaything.  But even they have been known to aid mortals if it serves their purpose.”

“Well, it is not cool when you make these trips to Oblivion.”

“Oh, did I tell you that the Mad God liked the word Albatross?”

“Only a hundred times.”

Some spiral stairs lead out of the room.

We climbed those, then entered a narrow tunnel.

At the end of the tunnel was a sliding wall operated by a pull chain.

I whispered, “The room ahead has a couple of people in it. I think we are a fair distance from Raven Rock. We could be entering bandit territory so be ready.”

Why bandits don’t come running when a hidden doorway grinds open is another of life’s mysteries.

As soon as I silently killed the first, the rest came running!

We killed dozens in seconds. I hope Councillor Morvayn appreciates the decimation of the bandit population we have achieved in two days.

Evidence suggested this particular lot of bandits were not the friendliest.

We came to a door that led outside. I could not see anybody with Dragon Sight, but it was inevitable there would be. By the number we had encountered so far, this was a significant bandit hideout.

We exited and discovered a group of bandits was friendly enough to be congregating around a brazier boasting of today’s haul of booty and kill count.

I whispered to my friends, “Just kill the vermin!”

That is what we did resulting in dozens more dead bandits.

I said to my companions, “By the time we walk back to Raven Rock, it will be too late to visit Crescius and Aphia with the news. We need to feed ourselves then sleep. We can visit them early in the morning.”

Rigmor asked, “The Retching Netch again?”

“Yep!”

“Oh, joy!”

We booked the same rooms, had a decent meal, then retired for the night.

Rigmor and I were much better at figuring out space on the small bed this time.

I know not what time I fell asleep.

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