Skyrim quests: The Fate of the Skaal, Cleansing the Stones, The Path of Knowledge, The Gardener of Men, A New Source of Stalhrim.
Skyrim mods: Rigmor of Bruma.
We left the Hunters Lodge at 6:00 AM to start the long walk to Saering’s Watch.
The ash was thick once more, which dulled the dawn light and left the countryside colourless.
We walked past the Wind Stone, and I was surprised to find an Imperial, most likely a scholar, enslaved along with the Skaal.
We had to wade across a freezing river, but the dweomer I had placed on our armours protected us.
Ice Wraiths officially welcomed us to the snowbound north of Solstheim.
Ice Wraiths had also been giving a group of bandits a heard time when we came upon them.
We quickly disposed of wraith and bandits.
No sooner had we finished that fight, Riekling attacked us.
Snow fell but not the bright, white snow of Skyrim. It was grey and gritty.
More bandits attacked and died. I was starting to think they have claimed Solstheim for their own.
I notice one of Kyne’s pillars at the edge of a cliff high above us.
At the entrance to a cave inhabited by Riekling, we noticed one of their mounted warriors battling three trolls.
They were on the path we needed to use, so we had no choice but to attack them.
Other Riekling emerged. We were too late to save a Skaal Hunter who fell to their thrown spears.
In the middle of nowhere stood a Shrine to Auri-El.
Rigmor asked, “Why would this be here?”
“I have no idea. A Shrine of Akatosh I could understand. But the elven aspect of him would not have been widely revered when Solstheim was part of The Empire.”
“Oh, when we were shopping, I solved the mystery of the shrines in Severin Manor. The Second Councillor had them placed there for you. He knew you were fairly upset that evidence of The Divines seemed to have been removed from Raven Rock.”
“That was considerate of him!”
“The Ashlanders are nice people once you get past their initial bias.”
‘Their dislike and distrust of The Empire are justified, so I understand where it comes from.”
We discovered dead bandits that were, for once, not of our making.
Large areas of frozen and congealed blood without corpses suggested that Dov hunted the area.
Saering’s Watch came into view, and I could see a few Draugr sentries.
The Draugr noticed us when we got closer and attacked.
They were mighty, and it took some time to kill each one.
I said, “Let’s try taking them down from range. It is too easy for somebody to get badly hurt in melee!”
We took several down by arrow but had no choice to fight with swords when climbing to the top.
The amount of effort required to kill them was enormous. The Draugr we encountered in Miraak’s Temple had been the strongest we had fought up till then. The Draugr guarding Saering’s Watch were many times tougher than those.
When we reached the summit, a single Draugr attacked, and I made short work of it.
A Word Wall taught me a new Word of Power, ‘GOL’, which means earth.
Knowledge from a dragon soul that I had previously absorbed gave me the knowledge I needed to use the Power Word in a Shout. It also let me know the name of the Shout and what it did.
I said to my companions, “I will use this new Shout, called ‘Bend Will’ to cleanse the All-Maker’s Stones. I never want to use it for anything else. It forces mortals and Dov to do as I command. It is an abomination!”
I read the Word Wall to them,
“This stone commemorates Bhar the Stubborn who sat here still as the Earth awaiting enlightenment, only to become old instead of wise.”
We visited the pillar of Kyne I had noticed from far below. Each one I visit improves the strength of my Thu’um.
We retraced our steps to the Wind Stone. Since we had killed everything hostile on the way to Saering’s Watch, the journey was without incident.
It was disturbing to see people working as slaves for Miraak. When they got on their knees and worshipped him, it angered me.
I hit the Wind Stone with Bend Will.
The dweomer that enslaved people vanished immediately. The Skaal freed were understandably confused.
The structure they had been building started to fracture.
Then it exploded into fragments that flew in all directions but did no harm when they struck. It was if they were not made of rock at all!
From the water rose one of the bipedal Daedra I had encountered in Apocrypha. The Imperial scholar I had noticed earlier yelled out, “A Lurker! How fascinating. I wonder if we will see a Seeker as well?”
We killed the ‘Lurker’ then the scholar came over to investigate.
The freed Skaal, and scholar, started to walk towards the village muttering to themselves and asking each other what had happened.
- Rigmor: OK, my Dragonborn. What the hell just happened?
- Wulf: I don’t know the mechanics, the metaphysics, of what happened.
- Inigo: Gobblygook of significant proportions.
- Wulf: I find it strange that Skaal oral history mentioned Miraak learning this Word of Power. I don’t think they have any knowledge of the Thu’um. How would they know that Miraak read the Word Wall? How convenient the Word was the first of a Shout and that it countered the dweomer. It is all too contrived.
- Rigmor: You think a god gave them some information, don’t you?
- Wulf: Yes. The All-Maker may sound foreign but think of him as The Nine. The Adversary as the Daedric Princes. They respect nature including the animals they hunt so which of The Nine do you think would give them this information?
- Rigmor: Kyne!
- Wulf: Yes. That is who I think inserted that esoteric knowledge into the Oral History of the Skaal.
- Inigo: The Divines could do nothing about a Dragonborn who was sheltering with a Dark Lord.
- Rigmor: But they could prepare for his return.
- Wulf: See, gobblygook is easy!
- Inigo: It would be a lot easier if I were still on Skooma.
- Wulf: Lets us give Storn and Frea the excellent news even though they would already know.
- Rigmor: Because of the villagers returning?
- Wulf: That and the fact they are attuned to the All-Maker magic.
We followed the Skaal back to their village. Nearly all of them retired to their homes for they would find comfort in a familiar environment.
We found Storn and Frea sitting next to each other on a bench. They were both visibly tired from the maintaining of the barrier around the village. A barrier that no longer existed as it was no longer required.
- Storn: You have prevailed. I can feel it.
- Wulf: Yes, your people are free. The dweomer on the Wind Stone was made by the Thu’um and was removed by the Thu’um.
- Frea: We felt its lifting.
- Storn: You have proven yourself allies to the Skaal, and so the Skaal shall be allies to you.
- Wulf: We shall cleanse the other All-Maker Stones, but I do not think we can do that for the Tree Stone, the one at Miraak’s Temple. I felt that dweomer was subtly different but did not have time to study it before we were attacked.
- Storn: Then clean the others. I doubt doing so will completely stop whatever Miraak is doing, but it may slow his progress.
- Wulf: I think the answer to stopping Miraak is in Apocrypha. I will most likely need to travel to a different part of Herma Mora’s plane, which will require another of these books we have found. Do you know of them? They are not of the Dragon Cult but made by Mora.
I handed the books to Storn, who held them briefly then quickly gave them back.
- Storn: You are correct. They do not look like something of the Dragon Cult. They are dark things, unnatural. I would have nothing to do with them. But the Dark Elf Wizard, Neloth… He came to us some time ago, asking about Black Books. I believe he knows a great deal about them. Perhaps too much. Seek him out to the south. Be cautious, Dragonborn.
- Wulf: I do not fear Herma Mora. He means me no harm.
- Frea: I think father means beware as you are now walking the same road as Miraak.
- Rigmor: You are both very wrong if you believe that! Miraak was seeking power for selfish purposes. The General wants to stop Miraak, not emulate him. You do him a disservice.
- Wulf: I have dealt with gods who have offered me far more power than Miraak wields. I refused them, and I have already refused Herma Mora before now. My abilities dwarf those of Miraak, and if I sought to conquer and enslave the people of Solstheim, I could do so in a matter of days.
- Inigo: You are sheltered here. You have not heard what General Valdr has done in Skyrim or even what he has recently done for the people of Raven Rock. You owe him your lives! Do not think he is similar to Miraak!
- Lydia: Wulf also went into Oblivion and faced another god by himself. You own him your lives twice over.
- Storn: My apologies General Valdr. Frea told me you fought and defeated Thartaag, the World-Devourer. We do owe our very existence to you and your friends.
- Wulf: I understand, but you should know the All-Maker put me on Nirn to help all people.
- Storn: Yes, so our histories say. But Miraak was also placed on Nirn to help people.
- Wulf: The Skaal are not used to dealing with The Adversary and therefore similar to most people who worship The Tribunal or The Nine. You think that gods have more power than they do on Nirn. The Adversary whispers and promises and nothing more unless you invite him via a portal. It takes mortals, such as Miraak, to inflict evil upon the peoples of Nirn. Mortals are the real enemy that I combat, not The Adversary. Miraak is just another mortal seduced by the whispers and promises.
- Storn: You have gained much wisdom in dealing with such matters.
- Rigmor: General Valdr has no choice but to learn or perish.
- Wulf: We shall return when we have cleansed the All-Maker stones.
We travelled to the Beast Stone without any encounters. Riekling were enslaved by it, but there was also one of Miraak’s Goons overseeing the work.
An arrow took care of the goon.
When we got close to the Riekling Rigmor commented, “They are kind of short for homicidal maniacs.”
I said, “OK, everybody, be prepared for any Lurker that may pop up. Also, the Riekling might become aggressive.”
I hit the Beast Stone with Bend Will.
The Riekling were instantly freed but did not attack us. I can’t speak their language but have no doubt they were asking each other, “What the fuck are we doing here?”
The stonework shattered.
And a Lurker popped up.
“Rigmor, kill the Lurker!”
“The thing that just tried to wrap its tentacles around you!”
“Oh, that Lurker.”
Jordis yelled, “Duck, Countess!”
Rigmor ducked, and Jordis cut the Lurker almost in half with a mighty swing of her twohanded sword.
“Is that something Rigmor taught you?” I asked Jordis.
“She taught me how to use anger to increase the damage I can do. I pictured the Lurker as the Thalmor Ambassador.”
“The Lurker was prettier!”
We all laughed.
All but two Riekling ran away. I approached the remaining two, who said something in their guttural language then also ran away.
Rigmor said, “I think they just said thank you.”
“I guarantee the next time they see us those spears will be thrown to kill.”
“Pity. I was thinking of how the old farts in my palace would react if I came home with a Riekling.”
“You could tell them you arranged a diplomatic marriage with him.”
“My mother and Freathof would probably faint!”
Ash never stopped spewing forth from Red Mountain but how much landed on Solstheim was entirely dependent on the prevailing winds.
On our way to the Sun Stone, we found another one of Kyne’s Pillars.
Enslaved bandits worked under the control of Miraak’s dweomer.
We kept our distance as I used Bend Will.
The dweomer vanished, then the bandits stood around in confusion.
The new stonework exploded.
A Lurker emerged and was immediately attacked by the bandits.
It was quickly killed.
As we approached the Sun Stone, the bandits dispersed.
Inigo said, “I was hoping at least one of them would attack us! I am not comfortable letting bandits walk away like that.”
“I know, but I can’t slaughter those who show no aggression.”
“Oh, I agree with you, my friend. Still, it is uncomfortable.”
As we headed for Raven Rock and the Earth Stone, we encountered some hunters bringing down a Bull Netch.
One of the hunters turned to me and said, “That was a good hunt. The beast was strong, but we were stronger.”
“Why are you all using knives and not bows?”
“It is only fair we give the Netch a chance to fight.”
“I think you just like the danger of the battle.”
“That is probably true. We are Nords, after all.”
Further on, a Burnt Spriggan Matron attacked us.
I hit it with Lightening then Rigmor finished it off.
I said to Rigmor, “You forget something, my dearest.”
“And what would that be?”
The dead Spriggan exploded.
“Ouch! Fuckity fuck!”
“Hey Rigmor, did you know that dead Burnt Spriggans explode?”
“Ha, de ha!”
We entered Raven Rock then made our way to the Earth Stone.
Bend Will removed the dweomer.
The stonework exploded.
We made short work of one Lurker.
Then another came out of the sea, which we also disposed of quickly.
I said to my companions, “One more to go. It is a bit of a hike, though.”
Inigo replied, “I wonder if Miraak is wetting his pants yet?”
“I don’t know if this is weakening him, but it is a big setback.”
“Careful, he might not like you after this!”
“That would break my heart.”
We approached the towers, fully expecting a population of bandits to be waiting for us. They seemed to breed like rabbits on Solstheim.
As it turned out, there was only one who wanted to commit suicide.
We continued to the Water Stone.
A Miraak Goon earned an arrow to his belly.
Only four people were slaving away under the control of Miraak. They did not appear to be locals.
Bend Will removed the dweomer.
The stonework cracked then exploded.
Inigo killed the Lurker.
A Nord woman approached.
- Wulf: Hello, I am General Valdr.
- Liesl: I am Liesl, the grumpy old one is Palevius. The other two are Hjalfar and Benkum.
- Wulf: You are not locals.
- Liesl: No, we are sailors from Windhelm. We came ashore to get some freshwater.
- Rigmor: What date was that?
- Liesl: The sixth of Frostfall.
- Rigmor: Today is the eleventh. You have been a slave under a dweomer for the last five days.
- Liesl: Well, my arms certainly feel like I have been doing some hard work!
- Wulf: You are free now so you can continue with your travelling.
- Liesl: They are perishable goods in our cargo hold. Five days should not have harmed them, but still, we had better leave soon if we want a fair price in Windhelm.
- Palevius: Excuse me, are you The Dragonborn?
- Wulf: Yes, I am.
- Palevius: Then I thank you for defeating Alduin and also releasing us from this dweomer you mentioned.
- Wulf: It is what we do. Now I suggest you make haste to Windhelm.
The four sailors headed for the beach where their ship awaited.
It was just after 9:00 PM by the time we made it to Raven Rock.
- Wulf: I think we should now visit the Telvanni Wizard. The quicker I can confront Miraak, the safer for me. We must have him in a panic by now.
- Rigmor: All we have done is walking with a few fights.
- Lydia: We are all still full of energy.
- Jordis: I agree.
- Inigo: I agree as well, so let us visit the Wizard who lives in a mushroom.
- Rigmor: He does what?
- Wulf: The Telvanni grow giant mushrooms and live in them.
- Rigmor: Do you think I am a mushroom?
- Wulf: What do you mean by that?
- Rigmor: You want to keep me in the dark and feed me bullshit.
- Lydia: It is true. They live in mushrooms.
- Rigmor: Yeah, right. Pfft!
- Wulf: Come then, milady. We might as well visit the Silt Strider on the way.
- Rigmor: Cool!
Sometimes we are beset by bandits and other things intent on killing us. Other times it is almost as if Solstheim was unpopulated. Our trip to Tel Mithryn, the home of Master Neloth, was encounter free.
As promised, we stopped to have a look at the Silt Strider.
- Rigmor: WOW! What a magnificent animal!
- Wulf: It looks like a giant cockroach.
- Rigmor: It does not! I wonder what it eats.
- Wulf: Small children mostly. Old people if it gets indigestion.
- Inigo: Khajiit kittens are safe. They can’t handle all the fur.
- Rigmor: You two are going to get hurt if you keep up the crap!
A Dunmer gentleman was watching and listening and laughed as he approached.
- Revus: From the look on that face, I am guessing the young lady has never seen a Silt Strider before?
- Wulf: None of us has. We are short-lived so were not even born when they were supposed to have been made extinct. I am General Valdr.
- Revus: And my name is Revus Sarvani. General merchant and proud companion of Dusty the Silt Strider.
- Wulf: Revus Sarvani? Author of ‘Light Armour Forging’?
- Revus: Yes, and I am amazed that anybody read it and even more amazed somebody would remember my name!
- Rigmor: Don’t get too carried away. I saw the General read the 36 Lessons of Vivec without pause because he thought them interesting.
- Wulf: They are full of wonderful insights such as, ‘Is not the sudden revelation of corresponding conditions and disparate elements that gel at the moment of the coincidence one of the prerequisites to being, in fact, coincidental? Synchronicity comes out of repeated coincidences at the lowest level. Further examination shows it is the utter power of the sheer number of coincidences that leads one to the idea that synchronicity is guided by something more than chance. Therefore, synchronicity ends up invalidating the concept of the coincidental, even though they are the symptomatic signs that bring it to the surface.’
- Inigo: Careful General! Lydia’s head might explode if she thinks on that for too long.
- Rigmor: Revus, please forgive, and ignore my companions. What can you tell us about Dusty?
- Revus: I personally trained her from a larva. It feels like a lifetime ago now. She hasn’t been in a travelling condition for quite a while now. I’ve tried to let her go off on her own, but she insists on staying here.
- Rigmor: Yes, I tried that with the General, but he always comes crawling back. You said you are a merchant?
- Revus: I get by trading odds and ends with the locals. I’ve decided to stay here and make sure Dusty passes in peace. It’s the least I can do for her. Every once in a while, a local makes it out here. Although, they usually just want to catch a glimpse of Dusty. Silt Striders are pretty rare now but not extinct.
- Rigmor: So, the General was wrong? Imagine that!
- Wulf: I said ‘supposed to have been made extinct’ not ‘were extinct’.
- Lydia: He has got you there!
- Rigmor: Have you swapped sides again?
- Lydia: After that shopping trip with you, I need to get paid this month!
- Rigmor: Once again, I apologise for the inbreds I travel with. What else can you tell me about Silt Striders?
- Revus: The blast from the volcano wiped most of them out. I found Dusty here in a small cave on Vvardenfell. Silt Strider cocoons are pretty tough. They were used mostly for transporting goods and people. They were pretty commonplace in Morrowind, but that was ages ago. A Silt Strider carapace is so strong it can withstand the harshest of weather. Even the legendary sandstorms of Vvardenfell’s Molag Amur Region were said to make barely a dent in them. Of course, that’s all ash now.
- Rigmor: And of course, they don’t eat children, do they?
- Revus: Ahem. Have you seen any children running around Raven Rock?
- Rigmor: Come to think of it, no, I haven’t. You don’t mean…
- Wulf: Look at the pretty Silt Strider daddy! What is it doing? Argh!
Rigmor’s mouth opened in shock. But when everybody started laughing, including Revus, she turned red with anger. When that just made us laugh more, she joined in, and anybody walking past would have thought we were all insane. We eventually calmed down enough to talk once more.
- Jordis: Well, that was fun!
- Rigmor: You are all bastards!
- Wulf: And we all love you dearly, my beloved!
- Rigmor: Yes, well, let us continue to Master Neloth’s.
- Revus: It has been a lot of fun meeting you. I never knew outlanders could be so entertaining!
When we were close to Tel Mithryn Rigmor exclaimed, “They do live in giant mushrooms!”
In unison, the rest of us said, “We told you so!”
We approached a young mage who seemed to be studying a spell book. A Dunmer woman stood behind him.
- Wulf: Excuse me. I am General Valdr, and we are here to visit Master Neloth.
- Talvas: I am Talvas. Does Master Neloth know about you?
- Varona: Everybody knows who General Valdr is!
- Talvas: OK Varona, who is he?
- Varona: The Dragonborn.
- Talvas: Oh… um… of course, I knew that.
- Wulf: You are learning a new spell?
- Talvas: Yes. I’m trying to summon an Ash Guardian. I’m just having trouble deciphering Master Neloth’s handwriting. I don’t mean to be rude, but I need to concentrate.
- Wulf: You work with Master Neloth?
- Talvas: Not so much with, as for. I am Master Neloth’s apprentice. He’s teaching me the art of sorcery.
- Wulf: It is a great honour to train with a Telvanni Master Wizard. He must be an excellent teacher.
- Talvas: Um. Well, he is a very great wizard. And it is a great honour for him to have taken me as his apprentice. To be honest, it’s horrible. He’s very unpleasant and hardly teaches me anything. Sometimes he uses me in his experiments. Even so, I pick up a lot from just watching him.
- Varona: We don’t get many visitors.
- Rigmor: I thought my companions were joking when they said Master Neloth lives in a giant mushroom.
- Varona: In Morrowind, the Telvanni grow buildings from particular fungus spores. Master Neloth grew one here to be his home. Don’t ask me how.
- Rigmor: Are you an apprentice as well?
- Varona: No. Talvas is his sole apprentice. I’m his steward and manage the day to day affairs of Tel Mithryn.
- Rigmor: Who else lives here?
- Varona: Talvas, myself and Master Neloth. There is also Elynea, our alchemist who specialises in mushrooms and other types of fungus. And Ulves runs the kitchens.
- Rigmor: In which mushroom can we find Master Neloth?
We headed up the ramp of the mushroom that Verona had indicated.
When we entered Rigmor asked, “How are we supposed to get up there?”
“By using the magic lift. Watch.”
I stepped into the centre of the lift then slowly rose upwards.
Rigmor followed and could not suppress an excited, “Wheeee!” as she floated up.
I landed on the platform then headed for Master Neloth.
- Neloth: You again. Didn’t I see you in Raven Rock?
- Wulf: Well, it couldn’t be me again if you had not met me at least once before.
- Neloth: Good point!
- Wulf: I was informed that you have knowledge concerning the Black Books.
- Neloth: You refer to the tomes of esoteric knowledge that old Hermaeus Mora has scattered throughout the world? What could you know of them?
- Wulf: I have two of them. I believe I need another to end Miraak’s threat.
- Neloth: You found two? Yes, and you read them, didn’t you? Don’t try to deny it. You’ve got the look. I can see it now. Dangerous knowledge is still knowledge and therefore useful. Usually turns out to be the most useful, in my experience.
- Wulf: Master Neloth, I am merely trying to save everybody on Solstheim from becoming a slave to Miraak. The danger to me in Apocrypha is negligible. I need more information, so I can voluntarily risk my life by confronting Miraak! That is the danger!
- Rigmor: The General does not seek knowledge for the sake of it or as a path to power.
- Neloth: Hermaeus Mora has always tries to seduce mortals into his service with the lure of forbidden knowledge. Where the Black Books came from… no one knows. Some appear to have been written in the past while others might be from the future. Apparently, time is more malleable if you’re a Daedric Prince of fate and destiny.
- Wulf: Like all Daedric Princes, he has adopted a fancy title. He has no power over anybody’s fate or destiny.
- Neloth: You keep mentioning Miraak? The one the townsfolk are always chanting about?
- Rigmor: We have already stopped that chanting and released the All-Maker Stones from Miraak’s grip! People are no longer under Miraak’s control.
- Wulf: You can think about Miraak now without confusion. You could not do that when last we spoke.
- Neloth: I remember meeting you but not discussing Miraak. I knew something connected with Hermaeus Mora was spreading its influence across the island. I wasn’t sure that it was, in fact, the same deity as this legendary namesake of the central temple. However, the villagers seem entirely convinced.
- Wulf: Miraak is not a deity! He is a mortal, a Dragonborn as I am. He is a traitor to The Divines, the Dov he once served and most probably Hermaeus Mora. The villagers do not revere him now we have removed his dweomer. The small number of followers he does have are delusional. Are you afraid of Hermaeus Mora?
- Neloth: Like all Daedric Princes, he’s not to be trifled with. But he is subtler than most of his ilk, appropriate for the prince of knowledge and fate. Many scholars and loremasters have been ensnared by the lure of learning the secrets that only Hermaeus Mora possesses. But don’t worry. I have no intention of joining them in their endless search through the infinite halls of Apocrypha.
- Rigmor: General Valdr has dealt with several Daedric Princes face to face within their realms in Oblivion. They were as close as you are to him right now, yet he remains unscathed. He is well aware of their snares and traps. Their weapons are words and promises which are ineffective against his armour of morality and free will.
- Wulf: Hermaeus Mora has no power over fate! He hoards knowledge because that is his nature. The same way a dog will covet a bone then bury it never to remember he ever had it. Mora has collected and stored a fraction of the knowledge possessed by those who created all you see, The Divines. I have refused to be his Champion and will continue to do so.
- Neloth: It seems you are more equipped to deal with Hermaeus Mora than those who fall prey to his words and promises. I can find Black Books. They’re not hard to locate once you know how to look for them. I have one here that I have been using to discover more.
- Wulf: The Black Book you possess is not the one I require?
- Neloth: I haven’t been idle while this fascinating madness engulfed Solstheim. But my book isn’t what you’re looking for as I’m quite sure it is unconnected with this Miraak. But I do know where to find the Black Book that can help you.
- Wulf: You can determine the subject matter of a Black Book without reading it?
- Neloth: Yes, and the one I possess is clearly not associated with the same power that has overtaken the island. And I’m not talking about Hermaeus Mora. These Black Books are all his, of course. No, what you’re looking for is a specific book presumably because Miraak’s power derives from it.
- Wulf: The Black Books do not give you the knowledge you seek. They place you into the part of Apocrypha that does contain the knowledge sought. Without the correct Black Book, you would search the infinite shelves of Apocrypha endlessly. The words written in a Black Book are irrelevant and merely act to open the appropriate portal.
- Neloth: I see you have learnt quickly by reading them what decades of research revealed to me.
- Wulf: Do you know where the relevant Black Book is?
- Neloth: Yes, I do. I haven’t been able to get it, though. But maybe together we can unlock the secrets the Dwemer left behind.
- Wulf: I find it ironic that Hermaeus Mora needs my help to open a Dwemer Lockbox, and now their greed also protects the Black Book I need.
- Rigmor: That shows how little power the Daedric Princes have upon Nirn. Hermaeus Mora needs a mortal to help obtain whatever is inside that Dwemer Lockbox.
- Neloth: Forbidden knowledge was somewhat a speciality of the dwarves, eh?
- Wulf: I know the magic Miraak used to corrupt the All-Maker Stones. It involves the Thu’um and a particular Shout. I assume the knowledge that Black Book will let me access is one or both Words of Power needed to complete the Shout. It is a Shout that I hope to avoid having to use on a mortal or Dov. With it, I could command armies of Dov. With it, I could bend the will of Emperors, King and Queens. Even you would be at my mercy.
- Neloth: I can understand why the Dwemer desired it! But if it is so powerful, why did Miraak remain hidden?
- Wulf: Dov would recognise him on sight and attack. They destroyed his temple and would have killed him if Hermaeus Mora had not offered sanctuary within Apocrypha. Miraak would need an army to defend him before setting foot on the mortal plane once more. It is not a coincidence the timing of his return coincided with that of Alduin. The Dov were concentrating on Skyrim. He did not plan on another Dragonborn closing that window of opportunity by defeating Alduin. That is why he sent his minions to kill me.
- Neloth: I have seen the dragon skeletons surrounding his temple. Surely with this Shout, he could enslave any dragons that attacked him?
- Wulf: Every time you use a Shout, you must wait before using another. That pause is dependant on many factors. The Shout in question has a considerable delay associated with it. Without troops to keep the Dov occupied, Miraak would quickly perish as he waited for his chance to use the Shout again.
- Neloth: If you do not want to use the Shout, how will you defeat Miraak?
- Wulf: I do not need that Shout to defeat Miraak in combat. I simply need him close by. How I get to him physically, I will figure out as I go. That is what I do.
- Rigmor: If the General couldn’t quickly formulate and enable plans, we would all be dead. He has saved your life twice, Master Neloth.
- Wulf: And now I wish to save you from mindless servitude. So where do we go to steal the Black Book from the Dwemer?
- Neloth: It seems the ancient Dwemer discovered this Black Book and took it to study. I have found their’ reading room’ in the ruins of Nchardak. The book is there, but it’s sealed in a protective case which I wasn’t able to open. But perhaps we can work together and will be able to get the book.
- Wulf: I remember seeing Nchardak on my map. It is not far from here.
- Neloth: To Nchardak, then. Follow me!
Neloth stepped onto the lift and floated down. I was next.
Rigmor followed me with another, “Wheeee!”
I said to her, “Is it really that much fun?”
“Yes! Don’t you find it fun?”
“Maybe if you were wearing a skirt, it might be entertaining.”
“I think we have well and truly established who the pervert is.”
“You made me that way!”
“I have one of these lifts at Silverpeak Lodge.”
“Yes. Next time you visit there, I will show you.”
“Should I wear a skirt?”
“It leads to one of the spas, so maybe naked?”
“I have to watch you float down. Things will be swinging in the wind!”
“Who’s the pervert?”
We assembled just outside Neloth’s mushroom.
- Wulf: Have you fought Dwemer Automatons before?
- Neloth: I have spells that can damage them but prefer not to put myself in harm’s way. That is why you and your friends will come in handy!
- Lydia: It would probably be best if you don’t get in our way. I would hate to have to scrape you from the bottom of my boots.
- Jordis: Lydia’s correct. How can we selflessly sacrifice ourselves for master Neloth if he gets in our way?
- Neloth: That’s the spirit!
- Wulf: I think sarcasm is wasted on Master Neloth.
We trotted behind Neloth, happy for him to stumble upon any enemies in his rush.
We stopped before the steps of Nchardak.
- Neloth: The Dwemer certainly knew how to build for the ages. These towers have outlasted their creators by millennia.
- Wulf: The place is infested with bandits.
- Neloth: How can you tell from here?
- Wulf: I have the eyesight of a dragon.
- Neloth: Fascinating! Can I…
- Lydia: If you suggest experimenting on General Valdr, I shall be forced to punch you in the nose.
- Rigmor: We would stand in line, waiting for our turn to punch you in the nose.
- Meeko: Grr!
- Neloth: Oh. Well, the book is housed inside that dome. I’ll need to unlock the door for us. Let’s get on with it.
- Wulf: Have they used Tonal Locks?
- Neloth: I should have known you would have visited your share of Dwemer ruins. No, in Nchardak they use Control Cubes. You will see what I mean.
- Rigmor: I advise you to stay behind us while we clear out the bandits.
- Neloth: Hmm. This place was deserted when I was here last.
- Rigmor: Solstheim is riddled with bandits. I don’t think there are enough Redoran Guards to control them.
- Neloth: Morrowind politics. I heard the mine is now open. Maybe the Councillor can argue for more to be sent.
I snuck forward, and two quick arrows took down the first two bandits.
Neloth yelled, “Well done!”
More bandits appeared and now had some idea where we were.
After I shot another couple, they started to hide behind the low wall.
Cyclone let them know that was a bad idea.
I then started climbing the ramps and killing those who were still waiting to see who the enemy was.
There were only a couple of bandits left when Neloth walked up to me full of ice spears and arrows.
- Wulf: I thought you were going to stay behind till we got rid of the bandits?
- Neloth: My Restoration skill is limited, but I have done what I can to prevent my unfortunate demise.
- Wulf: I will heal you. Next time, stay back!
- Rigmor: I was watching. As soon as they saw Neloth they yelled, ‘A Telvanni bastard!’ and other such insults then targeted him.
- Inigo: You must be so proud of your House’s reputation!
- Neloth: Jealousy.
I healed Neloth and did not get a thank you. Not that I was expecting one.
There were two bandits left guarding the front entrance.
Two arrows later, there were no guards left.
Neloth commented, “Maybe now we can finally begin what we came here for.”
We stood at the entrance and waited for Neloth to unlock it.
- Neloth: The Dwemer of Nchardak appear to have been fond of these control pedestals. Luckily, I found a Control Cube to operate it inside on my last visit. I sealed the door when I left to keep out ignorant meddlers. Let me unlock it. The book is just inside.
- Wulf: I have an Attunement Sphere with me in case they use those as well.
- Lydia: Is that what we used to enter Blackreach?
- Wulf: Yes.
- Rigmor: You will take me there one day, won’t you, General Valdr?
- Wulf: Of course. Apart from the odd dragon and thousands of Falmer, it is a pleasant place to take a stroll.
- Neloth: You have been to Blackreach?
- Wulf: Yes. Mainly to obtain an Elder Scroll for me to read but also to transcribe it onto a Dwemer Lexicon for Hermaeus Mora.
- Neloth: You have read an Elder Scroll and can still see?
- Wulf: I needed to read it to go back in time and learn how to defeat Alduin.
- Neloth: You told me you were not co-operating with Hermaeus Mora.
- Wulf: I didn’t know I was aiding him at the time.
- Neloth: And there is a machine to transcribe Elder Scrolls?
- Wulf: As you said before, the Dwemer’s speciality is forbidden knowledge.
- Neloth: You went back in time?
- Wulf: My consciousness did. Alduin was there, and he would not have appreciated a Dragonborn popping out of the ether. I could do it because of my dragon bits.
- Neloth: I hope you have been writing down your observations for future historians!
- Rigmor: He does. Every night.
- Neloth: Good. When you finally die a horrible death on one of these adventures, we shall at least have a record of previous ones and know not to replicate your last.
- Wulf: You don’t have many friends, do you?
- Neloth: Superfluous.
Neloth places the Control Cube on the pedestal. It was not a flat six-sided cube like a Dwemer Lexicon but had octagonal flats and indented triangular corners. The cube had visible cogs inside.
The doors unlocked. Neloth picked up the cube then we made our way inside.
On the floor was a circular vault that contained the Black Book sitting on a pedestal.
- Neloth: You can see the book right there. So tantalisingly close… But trust me, no magic will open that. I’d have had the book already if I could. No, we’ll have to do this the hard way. If we can restore the steam supply to this room, I’m confident I can open it. As you’ll see, that’s easier said than done.
- Wulf: Can you feel and hear the pulses emanating from it?
- Neloth: No, but my research indicated those who have read one are then attuned to them.
- Wulf: I have found the same with Word Walls.
- Neloth: Wouldn’t that be maddening for any Dwemer who had read one?
- Wulf: Yes. Being this close to another Black Book beckoning them and not being able to just reach for it. I suppose it would be distracting.
- Neloth: That serves them right!
- Lydia: There are four lenses on the floor.
- Wulf: Yes, I assume to unlock the vault there has to be light shining upon all four lenses. It will have to be of a particular frequency.
- Lydia: Restoring the steam supply will drive the machinery to make that light.
- Neloth: You are quite intelligent for a Nord.
- Inigo: Yes, sometimes, she even puts her underwear on the right way around.
- Lydia: I am smarter than any blue Khajiit!
- Neloth: That is abundantly apparent. Come, the boilers are this way.
Lydia looked at Inigo and gave him a wonderfully childish raspberry.
Neloth used the Control Cube to open the door then we used a Dwemer Lift to go below. He took the cube with him once more.
As we walked, he said, “The last time I was here, I only explored a small part of the ruins. I was here alone then, and I find assistants are absolutely essential for this kind of dirty, dangerous work. Nchardak was called ‘The City of a Hundred Towers’. In its day it was the largest of the great Dwemer Archives and perhaps the most advanced. In the old stories, when the Nords came to conquer it, it’s said the Dwemer submerged the entire city beneath the sea until the invaders gave up. I have my doubts. But the city was a marvel of Dwemer engineering. Now reduced to this.”
We stopped before some pedestals.
Neloth continued, “As you can see, most of the lower levels of the city are flooded. But it isn’t hopeless – the old Dwemer pumps still seem to work. Watch.”
Neloth placed the cube on a pedestal and the water receded.
Three Dwemer Automaton attacked. It did not take long for us to destroy them.
Neloth said, “It doesn’t appear the metal denizens of Nchardak will provide much of an obstacle.”
“We defeated Alduin in combat. A few automatons are a pushover.”
I walked down the ramp to look at the boilers.
Neloth said, “The pumps only operate when a cube is in the pedestal. And unfortunately, I have only one cube. These four boilers provide steam to the room upstairs. They’re shut down, but they still respond to the Control Cubes. So, if we can find four more cubes, we can turn these boilers back on and restore steam power to the room upstairs. Then I should be able to open the book’s protective case. Bring that cube. We’ll need it.”
I walked back to the platform then picked up the cube. The water rose.
I then followed Neloth to a machine that I could not decipher. Luckily, he could.
He explained, “Yes… here we are. This device shows the location of four more cubes in this section of the city. It looks like most of the cubes were moved to the lower levels, perhaps to try to control the flooding before the city was abandoned. Interesting. That would suggest that the city must have originally sunk during the first cataclysm of Red Mountain. Or that the Dwemer’s servitors continued to try to preserve the city after their creators’ disappearance.”
We followed Neloth to a door.
He said, “Three of the cubes are through here, so this seems like a sensible place to start. You should be able to unseal this door with the control cube I gave you.”
I placed the cube on the pedestal which unlocked the door.
The rest of our trip through Nchardak involved finding cubes and killing automatons. Neloth learnt to shut up and let us solve puzzles and figure out what to do next. Despite his age, he had a fraction of the experience we had in dealing with such things. There is no need to describe it in detail. Like all Dwemer ruins, I found Nchardak to be monotonous and mind-numbing.
We finally arrived back at the pumps with the required number of cubes.
We left a Control Cube on one of the pump pedestals to keep the water lower, which allowed access to the four pump pedestals.
As soon as I placed the last cube, a Dwemer Centurion attacked.
It was soon destroyed.
I said, “Let us head up and push the button to open the vault.”
We used the lift then approached the pedestal with the button.
I pushed the button. Light streamed down onto the lenses, and the vault opened. Th Black Book and pedestal rose to floor level.
- Lydia: I was right about the light!
- Wulf: And you are a poet but didn’t know it.
- Inigo: Please don’t try and rhyme all the time.
Neloth stood with his hand on his hips.
- Neloth: If you don’t mind, some things need doing!
- Wulf: Neloth, be my guest. Go ahead and read the book if you are in such a hurry.
- Neloth: Um… Please… be my guest. You deserve the first look. Besides, it could be very dangerous. These books are known to drive many people insane.
- Wulf: Not everybody believes madness to be a curse. For some, it is the greatest of blessings. Bitter mercy perhaps, but mercy non the less.
- Neloth: That is good. Did you make that up?
- Wulf: No, Sheogorath did when he was still a mortal. He liked it when I quoted it back to him. I mean the new Sheogorath, not the old one who is now Jygallag once more.
- Neloth: You spoke to Sheogorath?
- Wulf: Yes, when I was inside the head of a dead emperor.
- Rigmor: The General has read two Black Books and talked to Sheogorath yet remains completely sane.
- Wulf: ALBATROSS!
- Rigmor: Mostly sane.
I grabbed Rigmor and gave her a decent smooch.
- Wulf: That is the most incredible thing you have ever said about me.
- Rigmor: General, please don’t aggravate the tentacled turd.
- Wulf: I might not see him or Miraak. This may just be a knowledge gathering trip.
- Neloth: Be sure to say hello to Hermaeus Mora for me if you do see him.
I read the Black Book, and the tentacle thing dragged me into Apocrypha.
As with our trip through Nchardak, I will not bore those reading this journal with a description of my monotonous journey through Apocrypha. There was nothing different than previous trips. It was just another mind-numbing maze to solve and weak Daedra to kill.
I eventually reached the Black Book at the end of the maze and opened it
Hermaeus Mora then came to talk to me.
- Mora: All seekers of knowledge come to me, sooner or later.
- Wulf: I am sure there is plenty of knowledge I seek that you do not have.
- Mora: You have entered my realm. You have sought out the forbidden knowledge that only one other has obtained. You are Dragonborn, like Miraak before you. A seeker of knowledge and power.
- Wulf: I seek knowledge for the betterment and defence of others. Do not compare me to that coward and traitor!
- Mora: All that he knows he learned from me.
- Wulf: So, he learned how to have his arse kicked by the dragons from you? Well done!
- Mora: You will not defeat him without my help.
- Wulf: I will never serve you, and you need me to stop Miraak. You can’t do it by yourself.
- Mora: You will serve me, willing or not. All who seek after the secrets of the world are my servants.
- Wulf: I just need to find a way to reach Miraak. I can do that without your help!
- Mora: No, look around. You have done nothing here on your own. You could spend a hundred lifetimes searching my library, and you will never find what you seek!
- Wulf: Maybe not here, but I can leave whenever I wish and ask my gods for assistance.
- Mora: Why do through that effort? I know what you want. You desire to use your power as Dragonborn to bend the world to your will. Here then is the knowledge you need, although you did not know you needed it. I gift you the second Word of Power. Use it to bend the wills of mortals to your purpose.
The second Word of Bend Will, HAH, which means ‘mind’, appeared glowing before Hermaeus Mora. I read the Word then the Dark Lord gifted me the knowledge to use it, just as the Greybeards did.
I realised Hermaeus Mora is not used to dealing with a mortal who seeks knowledge for unselfish reasons. He has to open the way for me to reach Miraak. He has to provide a maze with a solution other than one where I can wander forever. I had no choice but to play to his generalisation. Like all Daedric Princes, he is not omnipotent. They can be easily fooled by appearing subservient.
- Wulf: You are right, and I do need your help. I thank you for that gift of knowledge.
- Mora: It is not enough. Miraak knows the final Word of Power. Without that, you cannot hope to surpass him. Miraak served me well, and he was rewarded. I can grant you the same power as he wields, but all knowledge has its price.
- Wulf: I will not be a Septimus and do things against the teachings of my gods!
- Mora: I know it would be futile of me to ask. So, knowledge in exchange for knowledge. The Skaal have withheld their secrets from me for many long years. The time has come for this knowledge to be added to my library.
- Wulf: That knowledge is not mine to give.
- Mora: My servant Miraak would have found a way to bring me what I want. You will as well if you wish to surpass him.
- Wulf: Why do you think I need the third Word of Power?
- Mora: Even dragons submit to Miraak’s Voice. Without that power, you cannot face him. Says I, Hermaeus Mora, master of the tides of Fate.
What a moron! I wish other mortals would realise how little the Dark Lord’s know. Dragons will follow those who Thu’um is superior, and I am confident I easily surpass Miraak. I could call upon Odahviing if I wished. I do not need to make slaves out of Dov.
- Wulf: I will ask the Skaal if they wish to help seal this agreement. I will not force them or steal this knowledge from them. Give me your word that if you are given the Skaal secrets, you will teach me the third Word of Power of the Bend Will Shout.
- Mora: My word is as true as fate, as inevitable as destiny. Bring me what I want, and I will give you what you seek.
- Wulf: I do not believe in destiny, but I know your kind cannot refuse to honour such a contract. Is there somebody amongst the Skaal with whom I should speak?
- Mora: Ask their Shaman to read the book. He has the knowledge I seek.
- Wulf: Why have you turned on Miraak?
- Mora: He has served me long and well. But he grows restless under my guidance. His desire to return to your world will spread my influence more widely. But it will also set him free from my direct control. It may be time to replace him with a more loyal servant. One who still appreciates the gifts I have to offer.
- Wulf: It will be done.
Hermaeus Mora slowly faded from view and I teleported back to Nirn.
- Neloth: What happened? What did you see? Different people have very different experiences when reading these books.
- Wulf: I saw the same boring Apocrypha as the last two visits. Miraak did not make an appearance, but I did talk with Hermaeus Mora.
- Neloth: What did he have to say? He must have wanted something from you.
- Wulf: Yes, he wants something like every other Daedric Prince with who I have dealt. Fetch me Scourge. Let them sacrifice your beloved. Defeat my Champions in combat. Cure the Mad Emperor of his insanity. Cleanse my temple of the Necromancer and undead. Blah blah blah!
- Rigmor: Azura never asked you for anything.
- Wulf: She wanted me to rescue her daughter and then Nirn.
- Neloth: Azura has a daughter?
- Wulf: Adopted daughter. She is really annoying and very whiny!
- Rigmor: And she is quite capable of kicking men in the wedding tackle when they go too far!
- Neloth: Wedding tackle?
- Rigmor: Just a name for male genitals I learnt from an idiot.
- Neloth: You two are…
- Inigo: Weird?
- Neloth: Yes, that is an apt description.
- Lydia: The blue Khajiit who speaks to dragonflies is commenting on weird again.
- Inigo: A dragonfly. Mr Dragonfly to be precise.
- Wulf: I made a deal with Mora only because I need him to open the way to Miraak for me. Not for the reasons he thinks. It was another lesson in how little the Dark Lords actually know.
- Rigmor: I asked you not to aggravate the tentacled turd!
- Wulf: I was a good Dragonborn. I pretended to be very grateful for the second Word of Power he gifted me. He thinks I am a power-hungry megalomaniac like Miraak.
- Jordis: He would only have dealt with such mortals in the past.
- Wulf: Correct. He deals with mortals like Necromancers who want to be a Lich, Mages seeking the secrets of Dawn Magic and Telvanni Wizards looking for their compassion.
- Neloth: I don’t do friends, and I don’t do humour.
- Inigo: Obviously.
- Wulf: I pretended I needed the third Word of Power of the Bend Will Shout. He agreed to exchange that knowledge for the secrets of the Skaal.
- Rigmor: What do the second and third Words of Power let you do?
- Wulf: The second Word lets me enslave mortals. The third Word lets me enslave Dov.
- Rigmor: You would never use such a shout!
- Lydia: Dov follow you without having to enslave them.
- Wulf: Hermaeus Mora cannot conceive of such things. Remember, to him I am just a power-hungry Dragonborn trying to usurp Miraak. The tentacled twerp even thinks I will be his servant.
- Rigmor: Why has he turned on Miraak.
- Wulf: If Miraak’s plan works, Hermaeus Mora will lose control of his toy.
- Lydia: You also think that a Nirn full of enslaved mortals would not need to exchange knowledge with Mora.
- Wulf: You were listening? Mora would not be able to perform the functions enforced upon him at his time of creation.
- Rigmor: And he thinks you will be Miraak’s replacement?
- Wulf: Yes. As you know, he has previously asked me to murder another of his assistants and be his Champion. He is almost as bad as Meridia with his disregard for mortal morality and free will.
- Neloth: Hmph. What secrets could the Skaal have worth keeping from old Mora? It sounds like a bargain to me. Hermaeus Mora learns some fascinating new ways to skin a horker, and you become the second most powerful Dragonborn that ever lived.
- Wulf: For a learned mortal, you say some stupid things! I am already more powerful than Miraak. I know dozens more Shouts and Words of Power than him! Maybe Wulfarth was more powerful than me in the Thu’um but who knows, for I have never faced him. If I used the Bend Will Shout, the thing Mora thinks would make me more powerful; I would become less than what I am!
- Neloth: Well, that gives me a lot to think about. I need to get back to Tel Mithryn. I have some ideas about how to locate more of these Black Books.
We exited Nchardak and were met by a Dovah.
- Krosulhah: Miraak has commanded your death. So, it shall be.
- Neloth: By Malacath’s toenails, where did that come from?
- Wulf: Apocrypha. Now if you don’t mind, I would like to talk to our scaly visitor.
- Neloth: Hmph!
- Wulf: Wo los hi? (Who are you?)
- Krosulhah: Krosulhah.
- Wulf: Do you attack me out of choice or enslavement, Krosulhah?
- Krosulhah: Miraak has commanded your death. So, it shall be.
- Wulf: We defeated Alduin. Do you think you stand a chance against my Thu’um?
- Krosulhah: I must try.
- Wulf: No, you don’t. It is a matter of will. Fight the dweomer and reject Miraak’s command!
- Krosulhah: I… I cannot. When Miraak returns, all will bow before him!
Krosulhah lifted off and prepared to attack. I hit him with Dragonrend.
He landed then said, “Bein Rotmalaag! What foul Words are these?”
“Alduin did not like them either.”
“No Dovah would stoop to such vile tahrovin!”
“I have replaced Alduin as the most powerful of the Dov. The only tahrovin, treachery, is you attacking your rightful Overlord. You should bow before my Thu’um!”
I was appealing to the base nature of the Dovah. I was hoping to give him the nudge he needed to break Miraak’s hold over him. Alas, my ploy failed.
None of my companions had a chance to engage him before I ended Krosulhah’s life.
A shadow of Miraak appeared then said, “This dragon’s soul belongs to me!”
“You are welcome to it. I have over a dozen in storage.”
“I grow ever stronger, Dragonborn.”
“Yet you are a fraction of my strength, traitor. What do you think will happen to your soul after I kill you?”
Miraak stared at me.
“When I kill you, I will absorb your soul. There will never be a rebirth or possible redemption for you. You will effectively cease to exist for eternity.”
As Miraak’s shadow absorbed the Dragon Soul, Rigmor approached it with sword drawn.
I told her, “Do not bother, my beloved. Miraak has not the courage to appear in person. That is a shadow, and your sword can do it no harm.”
The soul absorption ended then Miraak’s shadow faded away.
I was visibly upset.
- Rigmor: Wulf, you tried. You had no choice but to kill Krosulhah.
- Inigo: We understand why you did the whole ‘Overlord’ act.
- Rigmor: It seems today has been one for you have to act the opposite to who you are.
- Wulf: I know I am not dealing with evil with Mora. It is just his nature. But still, I feel unclean dealing with him at all.
- Rigmor: It can be no worse than dealing with Boethia.
- Wulf: It is different. Boethia takes on the form of a mortal as it reflects her personality. Hermaeus Mora takes on the form of a hideous monstrosity because that reflects his personality. Disgusting. Repugnant. Terrible.
- Rigmor: Let’s go and discuss with the Skaal the deal you made.
- Wulf: Where did Neloth go?
- Jordis: As soon as he saw you slay Krosulhah, he ran back home.
We made it to the Skaal village without incident. Two of the Skaal we had freed from Miraak’s control were discussing a missing friend.
- Fanari: Deor, you must be calm. I am sure there’s a good reason Baldor left us.
- Deor: Something isn’t right, Fanari. I feel it in my bones, and I smell it in the air. Baldor wouldn’t leave without telling someone.
- Fanari: Don’t worry yourself over nothing, Deor. Do you want a head full of grey hairs before you have seen forty winters?
- Deor: It makes my heart heavy that you don’t believe me, Fanari. Baldor could be in danger, and you will do nothing. If you don’t help me, then I’ll ask the All-Maker to send someone else who can.
- Wulf: Perhaps we can help?
- Fanari: I have not had the chance to thank you for freeing us, General Valdr. So, thank you.
- Wulf: Who is missing?
- Fanari: Deor has always been quick to worry. Do not be surprised if you end up in a wild fox chase. It would not be the first time.
- Deor: Baldor Iron-Shaper is missing. As our only smith, Baldor is vital to the village.
- Wulf: Did you notice anything strange at the time of his disappearance?
- Deor: Hm, I do not remember Baldor acting strangely. Although now that you ask, I did see something in the woods on my way back from gathering wood. I saw two elves in the far distance, dragging something behind them. Hunters often visit our lands, so I thought little of it.
- Wulf: What kind of elves? Dunmer, Altmer or Bosmer?
- Deor: They were the tall, well-dressed ones.
- Rigmor: Thalmor!
- Inigo: Thalmor!
- Lydia: Thalmor!
- Jordis: Thalmor!
- Meeko: Woof!
- Wulf: Where were they headed?
- Deor: They were headed south and west. If your road takes you that way, perhaps you could search for any sign of Baldor. The Skaal would be grateful.
- Wulf: Why would somebody kidnap Baldor?
- Deor: Well, there is one reason that comes to mind. Baldor is the keeper of an ancient tradition, the forging of Stalhrim. It is an art we Skaal hold sacred. If someone wanted to make such weapons, they would have to get that knowledge from Baldor.
- Wulf: We will look for him without delay. If the Thalmor have him, they will not be gentle.
- Fanari: They very rarely visit Solstheim. If in fact, it is the Thalmor.
- Wulf: It is far better we check this out than potentially leave Baldor to be tortured and possibly killed, don’t you think?
- Fanari: Yes, it is the right thing to do. Forgive me. I am not quite the same after Miraak’s evil.
- Wulf: It will get better. We had better get moving.
Deor and Fanari wandered away.
Rigmor said, “You are right, Wulf. Mora will just have to wait for the Skaal secrets a few hours longer.”
“That last thing I thought we would encounter on Solstheim is Thalmor.”
We found the Thalmor occupying an abandoned hut near some Dwemer ruins.
I walked up, weapons sheathed, and asked one of them, “Excuse me, I have dropped my Talos amulet around here somewhere. Have you seen it?”
The moron attacked.
He died along with his three colleagues.
On the body of one of them, I found a key and a note written on Thalmor Embassy letterhead. I read the message out loud,
“Kidnap the Skaal blacksmith. We need him to teach us the secret to smithing Stalhrim. Remember, you can’t cripple his hands or arms, so be careful when interrogating him. I expect your next report to contain encouraging results.
The key unlocked the door to the hut.
We entered, and a man’s voice called out, “Help! Somebody!”
We made our way into the basement where we found Baldor bound and slumped in the corner.
- Baldor: Outsiders! I remember you. You’re the ones who freed the Skaal from the dark spell. Thank the All-Maker that you have come. These accursed elves have taken me from my home.
- Wulf: Are you injured?
- Baldor: No, my wounds are not severe. I don’t think the elves were trying to harm me. Perhaps they intended to frighten me. At worst, I have a few bruises to show for my ordeal.
- Wulf: I think you are hurt more than you realise. There is no sense in risking permanent damage.
I cast Grand Healing on Baldor then Rigmor cut his bonds. He stood and smiled.
- Baldor: I have heard of such healing! Thank you.
- Wulf: Did the Thalmor kidnap you to learn how to forge Stalhrim?
- Baldor: I do not know this word Thalmor, but if you mean elves, then yes, they were trying to learn the secrets of forging Stalhrim. They said their leader, an elf named Ancarion, has a map. They said that it shows the location of a hidden source of Stalhrim.
- Rigmor: Thalmor are the leaders of the Aldmeri Dominion. They have a habit of conquering and suppressing. Stalhrim weapons and armour would aid them in these endeavours, and we can’t allow that to happen.
- Baldor: They have a ship. They took me there and showed me the map. You will find it on the northern coast of the island. Please, do not let Ancarion make his weapons and armour. Kill him or let him live, but take the map from him. It belongs with the Skaal.
- Wulf: Mark on my map where the ship is anchored.
Baldor marked my map then handed it back to me.
- Wulf: We can escort you to your village if you wish.
- Baldor: No, I am healthy now and can return to the village by myself.
- Rigmor: We will get the map back for you and return when we can.
- Baldor: Thank you. May the All-Maker bless your days.
- Wulf: May The Divines bless yours.
We exited the hut. Baldor trotted off in the direction of his village as we headed for the ship.
Meeko let us know something or somebody was waiting in ambush.
It turned out to be a Riekling who we dispatched quickly.
If I had known we would have walked along the beach. But I didn’t know, and it soon became apparent there would be nothing but sheer cliffs the entire way to the ship. We stopped next to a river and waterfall that would be difficult to cross.
- Rigmor: Do we double back or keep going and approach the ship from the other direction?
- Wulf: Neither.
- Rigmor: You don’t mean?
- Wulf: Yes, I do mean.
- Rigmor: I love you!
- Inigo: Ah, what are you two planning.
- Rigmor: We are going to ride the waterfall into the sea.
- Lydia: Neloth said people go insane when using the Black Books.
- Wulf: You can’t drown with the dweomer on the armours so just enjoy the ride.
- Jordis: What about the possibility of landing on hidden rocks?
- Wulf: I just looked over the edge using dragon sight, and there is no sign of rocks.
- Rigmor: Besides, Wulf will go first and tell us if he has broken his back.
- Inigo: What about fleabag?
- Wulf: He swims like a fish. You are not worried about it, are you, Meeko?
- Meeko: Woof!
- Wulf: The only danger is landing on top of each other. So, one at a time and yell ‘clear’ when you are out of the way.
- Lydia: Can I scream on the way down?
- Rigmor: It is much cooler if you say, ‘Wheeee!’
- Wulf: See you all at the bottom!
I stood closer to the river then leapt in.
The current quickly dragged me to the waterfall’s edge and over.
I yelled, “ALBATROSS!” on the way down.
I plunged to the bottom, about ten feet down, then pushed my way to the surface. The buoyancy dweomer on the armours meant we would float to the surface anyway.
Inigo was next and yelled, “Zuub!” on the way down. He walked out of the water and then called “Clear!”
Meeko followed then lay on the water’s edge with his usual goofy grin. He yipped to signal he was clear.
Rigmor plummeted with a joyful, “Wheeee!”. She swam out of the way then called, “Clear”.
Jordis yelled, “For Solitude!” on the way down. She yelled, “Clear”.
We could hear Lydia trying to motivate herself from above. After several minutes, she jumped into the river. She screamed, “Faaaaark!” as she belly-flopped into the sea.
Rigmor exclaimed, “That was so much fun!”
A quick application of Magicka dried us. We continued towards the ship.
We encountered a Riekling killing a bear who was riddled with spears. Another bear, also pierced with spears, lay dead already.
The Riekling attacked us when we approached so died next to the two bears.
Just as I said, “Watch out for the Riekling hunting party!” they attacked.
We disposed of them then came upon their village a bit further along the beach.
I said, “I have had enough of these aggressive little bastards. Wipe them out!”
We did that quickly and efficiently.
It was not far from the Riekling village to a jetty where the Thalmor ship was docked.
I used my night vision, then started killing without being seen by the enemy.
Four arrows, four dead Thalmor.
On the body of Ancarion was the blood-stained map to the Stalhrim mine.
I said to the others, “We need to rest. Let us head back to Raven Rock and sleep in Severin Manor.”
It was about 1:30 AM when we reached my house.
I could see that everybody was physically exhausted. We had eaten bread and cheese on the walk back to Raven Rock, so everybody just crawled into their beds.
I stopped in front of a Shrine of Akatosh and briefly touched it. Not always, but sometimes, when I do that, I am awarded a sense of approval.
Tired we may have been, but Rigmor and I still found the energy to make love before falling asleep in each other’s arms.