Tirdas, 23rd Evening Star, 4E 201 & Middas, 24th Evening Star, 4E 201
I rushed through the house and mausoleum.
When I entered the stairway to Nurndural, I used the Thu’um to make myself partially ethereal. I did not use the Shout often as I preferred casting Invisibility. There are pros and cons to both. Both will make me invisible to the naked eye, but any enemy with heat vision can detect me when invisible, not when I am ethereal. I am invulnerable to physical or magical attack when ethereal. Invisibility offers me no protection. It is a quiet Shout to become ethereal, but still, I might as well yell out loud in a silent crypt or dungeon. Invisibility is a nonverbal spell. I have to cast Invisibility far less often than use my Thu’um.
The biggest reason I prefer Invisibility over going ethereal is comfort. With the Shout, I am touching the ether and absolute cold. Even with protective dweomer, I am shivering uncontrollably within minutes
I am surprised to find the Gilded we had knocked down for the second time rise as I approach them. They show no signs of knowing where I am as I walk past them. I have no idea how they detected my presence enough to rise.
I have entered the main cavern of Nurndural and have switched to using Invisibility. Ethereal is too uncomfortable.
The music I hear in the presence of the Dwemer ghost is echoing throughout the cavern. It is composed of single notes. No chords or other complex music constructs interfere with its purity. It reminds me of a lullaby.
The notes of the tune are all in the higher register. That makes it easier for me to determine its origin. It is coming from below, so that is where I will go via the lift.
There are dozens of buildings in Nurndural. The Sentinels and I only entered one of them during our earlier visit. It is the one with the speaker horns on the outside and inside. Lahar said it was a hospital, and that is where the music originates.
As I approached the door, the music stopped. Unlike our earlier visit, raised bars prevented entry.
A deep baritone mechanical voice boomed, “I saw you. I saw you with others of your kind and a Khajiit in here earlier. You crawled over everything. You repaired the pipes. Are you looking for me? Come to the Sickness Ward.”
The bars blocking the door are slowly lowering. Amalgam has invited me into his nest.
I have stopped using Invisibility. I don’t intend to sneak quietly but move as fast as I can. I worry it may be too late for Lamashtu if I don’t.
Amalgam continued to talk but never answered as I sought the Sickness Ward.
“I took what I could from the Shadow, then left her alone.”
“You copied her music. I doubt you have the ability to do anything else. Tell me, Amalgam. Have you done anything useful with the time you have stolen? Or are you just a mindless parasite whose only thought is survival?”
“One heart was too few. It was unsafe. If it broke, I would be gone forever.”
“You can’t justify what you have done. Your life is worth no more than any other. I would risk all to save a beggar as quickly as I would to save an emperor.”
“I need the hearts. I need them. I am too big. They break. One after the other.”
“You need to die so the Gilded of Nurndural can live. They fight to protect each other. They value their lives, and you have no right to steal them!”
“I don’t need you. You may leave if you wish.”
“I don’t want to leave. I need to rip your hearts out so the Gilded of Nurndural are safe and Lamashtu can live.”
“Your death is not needed. You are not compatible. Your death is acceptable, however. You are not needed.”
“Your death is needed. You are not compatible with peace. Your death is acceptable. You are not needed.”
“If you truly wish to stay, come find me in the Southern Commissary. I shall find room for you somewhere.”
“I know where that is. Make sure the bars are lowered. I am in a hurry.”
“I want to be free, and I am… free.”
“Your freedom is no more important than that of the Gilded. You cannot justify your murders.”
I rushed to where the bars prevented entry during our earlier visit. They were down, and I entered the Southern Commissary.
It is darker than the rest of the building, so I have decided to use night vision.
It did not take long to find Amalgam. He has transferred himself into a Dwarven Centurion. Within that body, he may have been more than a match for a single Gilded. However, having fought them, I estimate three or four Gilded working together could knock him down.
I walked to the front of Amalgam and said, “You are a coward and prey on Gilded when they are alone. You know just a few of them together could defeat you. So you kill, then run and hide behind your bars. Now you die so others may live.”
Amalgam attacked, but he had the same weaknesses like every other Centurion I had fought. His weapons were too slow. His poisonous gas didn’t even make me cough.
He was no match for me; therefore, I was ready to deal the last blow seconds later.
He teleported away!
The noise of sparks and escaping steam led me to Amalgam. He had retreated to a small room with raised bars.
There was some form of ward across the entrance, so my spells could not penetrate.
I smiled at Amalgam as I remembered the ballista then turned to face it.
I ran to the ballista and found a note written by Ludwig next to it.
I would like to continue our testing of the ballista.
If you would be so kind, please install a portcullis of strengthened metal in the doorway of the small storage room. I am eager to see if the explosive bolts we found can breach them.
If this works, a few ballistae will be sufficient to defend Nurndural and Clockwork Castle.
A lever is on the ground. Its teeth are different from others I have seen. It acts as a key to use the ballista. I suppose Ludwig and Lahar did not want Gilded accidentally destroying each other with the deadly device.
I have inserted the lever and am about to pull it.
Four explosive bolts have slammed into the bars.
The smoke has cleared, and the hardened bars have been obliterated. All I can see of Amalgam are his feet. He has started to laugh, but I don’t know if it is intentional. A deep ‘hahaha’ is being repeated over and over.
I have rushed down to retrieve the Crystalline Heart. Amalgam is sitting amongst rubble and immobile. I am pretty impressed with the ballista. It would be fantastic for hunting rabbits!
As I opened Amalgam’s chest, his bones fell, cluttering to the floor.
Inside the chest cavity are five Crystalline Hearts. Four are occupied. One is empty.
I will have a close look and decide what to do next.
I am worried if I remove the Crystalline Heart keeping Amalgam alive, the process will damage the empty one. Therefore, I have decided to remove the unoccupied Crystalline Heart first.
It looks like I chose correctly. When I removed the unoccupied Crystalline Heart, the one keeping Amalgam alive cracked and went dull. There must have been a connection between the two.
The endless laughter stopped, and I have stood back to look at Amalgam. His eyes no longer shine red. He is gone, and the Gilded of Nurndural are safe.
I used Whirlwind Sprint several times to reach the patio as quickly as possible. A few Gilded tried to intercept me. They had to settle for watching a blur disappear into the distance.
Bright sunshine is trying hard to dissipate a heavy fog that has descended on the valley. It looks like a dream landscape. In a way, it is as Lahar is staring at a motionless Lamashtu. It is a nightmare.
The three ladies were trying to console Lahar with platitudes and assurances that I would find a replacement heart. Inigo was the first to notice me and yelled, “Wulf is back!”
My friends have rushed up to me and started asking questions. Instead of answering them, I have held up the empty Crystalline Heart for all to see. They issued a collective sigh. Rigmor whispered, “You never cease to amaze me. Now hurry and fix Lamashtu!”
My friends have parted. Lahar is staring at me as I approach.
I can see no light in Lamashtu’s eyes. Lahar shows no reaction to the Crystalline Heart and patiently waits for me.
I am standing in front of Lahar. Despite his metal face, I can tell he is distraught.
In a voice full of sorrow and fear, Lahar lamented, “Lamashtu has stopped moving.”
“As you can see, I have retrieved an empty heart. Am I in time to save her?”
“I… I don’t know, but we shall soon find out. I have fashioned a Soul Transference Machine. You must have noticed it on the table. You can use it to give Lamashtu a new Crystalline Heart.”
“Me? Don’t you wish to do it?”
“Now I have seen the heart in your hands. I find my motor functions are not precise, and I am shaking.”
“I understand. If you concentrate on giving me clear instructions, we will soon have Lamashtu back on her feet.”
“Yes, we can do that. Now, please follow my instructions as I relay them to you.”
I knelt before Lamashtu, then Lahar said, “First, open Lamashtu’s chest plate.”
“I have opened it.”
“Now, retrieve the Crystalline Heart by twisting its cage ninety degrees anti-clockwise and gently pulling downwards.”
I have faced horrors and death countless times. Yet, I had to think hard to remember when I felt such anxiety and determination. It was when I saw Rigmor on the sacrificial table, and the head priest stared at me with his dagger poised to end her life. Such was my level of emotion and desire to bring Lamashtu back for Lahar.
With a steady hand, I did as instructed then said, “I have her heart.”
“Good. Come with me to the Soul Transference Machine.”
I walked over and stood in front of the machine. I asked Lahar, “Did you build this when I was in Nurndural?”
“Yes. I used some bits and pieces scattered around the keep. It is elementary.”
“No, Lahar, it is incredible.”
“Please concentrate! Place the glowing heart and darkened heart into the slots atop the machine. Darkened heart to your right.”
“Press the button.”
I pressed the button. Similar to when a weapon or wand captures a soul, a red mist surrounded the empty Soul Gem, the Crystalline Heart. The old Crystalline Heart did not shatter or remain in place. It vanished!
Lahar’s voice sounded more confident as he said, “This is promising! Lamashtu’s soul now resides in the new heart. Please, retrieve the new heart and follow me back to her.”
I carefully retrieved the new heart and walked over to Lamashtu. My beloved Rigmor and my closest friend Lydia looked at me with concern in their eyes. I gave them a reassuring smile.
I knelt before Lamashtu once more.
“Carefully insert the new heart and turn it clockwise ninety degrees till you feel it lock in place.”
I gently did as I was instructed, then said, “The Crystalline Heart is locked in place.”
“Finally, close her chest plate.”
I closed the chest plate and asked, “What now?”
“Now we wait to see if her soul accepts the body.”
The only sound was the wind as we all waited to see if Lamashtu would return to us.
After what seemed like minutes but was merely seconds, light returned to Lamashtu’s eyes. She sat up then said, “And I… and then… hello, Lahar.”
Lahar quickly turned and walked hurriedly towards the castle.
I called after him, “Lahar, don’t you wish to speak to Lamashtu?”
He replied, “Please, explain to Lamashtu what has happened. I will speak to her later. She will need your help with Shadow.”
“You know of the ghost now?”
“It was one of the last coherent things she told me before… before she stopped moving.”
When I turned back to Lamashtu, she was on her feet.
- Lamashtu: What has happened? I feel strange.
- Wulf: You needed a new Crystalline Heart. We have just finished installing it.
- Lamashtu: And you found one for me? Where did you get it?
- Wulf: I killed Amalgam and removed it from his corpse.
- Lamashtu: Killed? I doubt that. I know of Amalgam, and this would not be his first death.
- Wulf: I am an expert on killing things, and Amalgam is dead! Of that, I have no doubt.
- Lamashtu: How was my soul transferred into the new heart?
- Wulf: See that machine on the table? Lahar calls it a ‘Soul Transference Machine’. He built it from parts he found scattered around the castle.
- Lamashtu: Did he? Perhaps he does remember something, even now. I should not find it surprising. He is the father of the Gilded, after all. Or, he was. He forgot himself a long time ago.
- Wulf: Lahar forgetting does not stop him from being the father of the Gilded.
- Lamashtu: Yes, you are right.
- Wulf: Can you please explain why you call him that? In an earlier conversation, you indicated he was a Second Child.
- Lamashtu: He is a Second Child. He remembers he is Gilded but not his original purpose. The First Children do not recognise they are Gilded and have no ambition beyond survival.
- Wulf: Okay, I understand.
- Lamashtu: We were once Dwemer. We were dying, sent to the Sickness Ward… the hospital. We did not want to die. Lahar thought to capture our souls upon death and give us new life by planting Crystalline Hearts in metal bodies. Our souls drive our machine bodies, and in turn, our bodies provide consciousness to our souls.
- Wulf: You are talking about the two parts of the soul, lifeforce and consciousness. That is a very complex concept. I can imagine the Dwemer took a very scientific approach to it, while I can’t disregard the philosophical and religious aspects.
- Rigmor: Lamashtu doesn’t have another four thousand years to discuss gobblygook with you.
- Wulf: I think we could exhaust the subject in less than three thousand years!
- Rigmor: I stand corrected.
- Wulf: Lamashtu, please continue.
- Lamashtu: Many came before me. They are the First Children. But, unfortunately, it didn’t work correctly, so they lost themselves.
- Rigmor: That did not justify Amalgam’s disregard for their right to live!
- Lamashtu: No. It didn’t.
- Wulf: I don’t like killing, but Amalgam had to die to save others.
- Lamashtu: Some Gilded were made later and worked better… for a time. They were the Second Children, like Lahar.
- Rigmor: Lahar created the First Children and saw they were flawed. Then he changed the process and submitted himself to it. Is that what happened?
- Lamashtu: Yes, you are correct. When it was my turn… to die… to have my body burned and my bones gilded, I was the Third Child. I was the last.
- Wulf: Your process was different, but still, you seemed to have forgotten more than Lahar. He shows no sign of becoming like the First Children.
- Lamashtu: I do not understand why this is so.
- Wulf: It caught Lahar by surprise, for he did not think it was possible.
- Lamashtu: It is a mystery that Lahar will try and solve. He is like that.
- Wulf: What prevented more Third Children from being created?
- Lamashtu: Do you know of the Battle of Red Mountain in Morrowind?
- Wulf: I have read many different accounts of it. All of them contradictory and all of them true. Nearly all accounts agree that the Dwemer race vanished at its end due to Kagrenac experimenting with Lorkhan’s heart.
- Rigmor: Wulf, when you get a chance, please explain how contradictory accounts are possible. I assume there is gobblygook involved?
- Wulf: A massive pile of stinky gobblygook. In one version of history, Azura is held accountable for the disappearance of the Dwemer. Most of the accounts make the story of Windcaller a load of bullshit since they claim no Nord army was there.
- Rigmor: Oh… that would ruin the Greybeards’ day!
- Lamashtu: I knew nothing of the battle or what Kagrenac did till I read a book in Ludwig’s library. If you can provide any books or transcripts about the Battle of Red Mountain, I would like to read them.
- Wulf: I will be pleased to provide as much reading material on any subject you desire. Just ask.
- Lamashtu: At the exact moment Kagrenac struck Lorkhan’s heart with his tools, I died… and something went wrong. My soul was split in two. Half of it resides in my Crystalline Heart. The other half became… something different.
- Wulf: Shadow was created.
- Lamashtu: I spoke to Lahar about her, didn’t I? Is that why you know her name?
- Wulf: Lahar said you need help with Shadow. Amalgam also called her Shadow.
- Celestine: Lamashtu, if it is not too stressful, can you describe what happened to you that day?
- Lamashtu: I will try. The First Children assembled my machine body, but the Dwemer were all gone, and so was my flesh. Every sense was numb. Time passed – maybe days, maybe years – and then Shadow came to me. She let me know I was still here. She is the one that followed you.
- Wulf: Shadow did not follow! She forced me to come here by hurting me if I strayed from the path she marked with floating lights. She collapsed the tunnels behind me to prevent me from retracing my steps. Shadow had also prevented me from using the Travelling Machine.
- Lamashtu: I think you have mentioned that before.
- Wulf: I have a theory about what happened to your soul. Are you interested in hearing it?
- Lamashtu: Please, tell me.
- Wulf: I must warn you that it is speculation based on intuition and educated guesswork.
- Lamashtu: It will still be something that I can ponder.
- Wulf: A standard theory about the Dwemer disappearance is that they were transported to a different plane of existence. This theory is supported by the fact that at least one Dwemer lived past that day. His name was Yagrum Bagarn. He survived because he was not in Mundus but another plane, which he called an ‘Outer Realm’ when Kagrenac made his mistake. He wrote an excellent book on artefacts called ‘Tamrielic Lore’. He also refused to explain Kagrenac’s theories in two other books he translated. He believed some of the works of Kagrenac need to be forgotten.
- Lamashtu: He was one of Kagrenac’s master crafters. I am not surprised he was not on Nirn. They went to great lengths to uncover the secrets of creation and gods.
- Wulf: Yagrum blamed gods for the destruction of the Dwemer. Mortals use the gift of free will and then blame gods for their actions. Nobody forced Kagrenac to do as he did. But I digress.
- Rigmor: Wulf can get rather heated when individuals blame gods for their actions.
- Wulf: Kagrenac’s magic was focused on the Dwemer soul. He had determined what made them unique from the souls of other races. However, during the process to turn Dwemer to Gilded, the souls were modified enough that Kagrenac’s magic no longer recognised them. That is why the Gilded did not vanish with the Dwemer.
- Lamashtu: Yes, that is what I determined.
- Wulf: During your change to Gilded, I think your soul may have matched that of the Dwemer for an infinitesimal amount of time. It was being dragged to where the Dwemer now exist, simultaneously accepting its new home within the Gilded body. These opposing forces ripped your soul in two. Neither half ended up where the Dwemer did. Your half ended up in your metal body. Shadow’s half became an undead being.
- Lamashtu: That is an excellent theory and provides me with a lot to ponder.
- Wulf: Since half-Dwemer and even quarter-Dwemer vanished with the pure Dwemer, Gilded souls must differ considerably from those of the Dwemer.
- Lamashtu: Why are you know about such things?
- Wulf: It is a long story that I will tell you one day.
- Rigmor: Wulf is a Champion of his gods. He is not an average mortal.
- Lamashtu: That would explain his defence of the gods.
- Wulf: Shadow wants me to do something, and I have a good idea what that might be.
- Rigmor: Maybe Shadow knew Lamashtu’s heart was failing and wanted you to help her?
- Wulf: Lamashtu, what do you think?
- Lamashtu: I am not sure what Shadow wants, but I need your help. I want to be reunited with her. If we defeat her in battle and I cast a soul trap on her… perhaps we can be rejoined.
- Wulf: Reunification is what I believe Shadow wants.
- Rigmor: If that is what Shadow wants, why would we have to fight her? Wouldn’t she cooperate?
- Lamashtu: I don’t know. If I can talk to her, she may understand.
- Wulf: If she doesn’t cooperate, we are in trouble. Shadow is immune to physical damage.
- Lamashtu: I think if I am close to her, she will be vulnerable.
- Wulf: That sounds gobblygook enough to be true. Instead of guessing, let us try it.
- Rigmor: Where will we find her?
- Lamashtu: Shadow rarely leaves Nurndural. She stays in the Animoculotory where the Gilded were made. It is in ‘Direction of Flow’, deep in Nurndural. It is locked by I can open it.
- Wulf: Before we go, can you please answer some more questions?
- Lamashtu: Yes. I tried to earlier, but then I lost myself.
- Celestine: Why did the Dwemer of Nurndural seek to become Gilded?
- Lamashtu: Kagrenac was not the only one searching for immortality. We had a different method in mind and perhaps a more pressing need. Mortal diseases cannot be denied, no matter how much we may have wanted to.
- Celestine: Did Nurndural suffer a plague?
- Lamashtu: Yes. Instead of help from the other cities, we were isolated. Most died before we tried making the First Children.
- Rigmor: That would explain the pile of bones in the Velothi tunnel.
- Lydia: I think Shadow kept conjuring more piles of bones to tell us the story of Nurndural.
- Lamashtu: Kagrenac’s genius in the construction of the Brass God could not be ignored. Our Gilded bodies are Numidium in miniature.
- Wulf: The Dwemer denied the gods who created them and Nirn. Instead of showing deference to the sacrifices made, their arrogance led to the creation of Numidium. Kagrenac could have used his genius to aid his people. Instead, he destroyed them. Kagrenac’s Tools and the Numidium continued to endanger innocents long after he vanished. It is a pity the Dwemer of Nurndural thought he was worth copying.
- Lamashtu: The Dwemer have not endeared themselves to history. I understand.
- Celestine: Did you know Kagrenac?
- Lamashtu: Not personally. All Dwemer knew of him, but Red Mountain is far distant from Nurndural. So if you are pondering the disappearance of the Dwemer, I’m afraid I have no answers for you.
- Wulf: I wouldn’t expect you to. If Yagrum Bagarn could not figure it out and was one of Kagrenac’s most senior assistants, nobody can.
- Inigo: Why have you kept your skeletons? Why not use a metal one?
- Lamashtu: Being given a new, alien machine body is not an easy thing. We are made of our own bones to ease the change. Those that came before the First Children and did not have gilded bones did not survive the trauma.
- Inigo: Wulf says bones act as a magnet or anchor to the mortal plane.
- Lamashtu: That is what Lahar told us.
- Wulf: Were all of those that came before volunteers?
- Lamashtu: Nobody was forced to undergo the process. They were dying and saw only hope in the process.
- Wulf: Amalgam’s bones were not connected to his Crystalline Heart. I don’t think that helped the longevity of the hearts or his sanity.
- Lamashtu: I agree.
- Rigmor: What is that horrible wailing sound Shadow makes?
- Lamashtu: Wailing sound… I see.
- Rigmor: Lamashtu!
- Lamashtu: I am not as good at humour as Lahar. In answer to your question, the process by which we became Gilded was dangerous. Great heat, molten metal and noxious vapours were involved. A warning alarum accompanied the act, and that is the sound Shadow makes. It is the last thing I heard before I died.
- Wulf: You said Shadow visited you when you first became Gilded and, quote, ‘She let me know I was still here.’. You were conscious, but Shadow enabled your memories and sense of self. The consciousness half of your soul was then complete, even if all your memories were not.
- Lamashtu: That seems logical.
- Inigo: No, Mr Dragonfly, I can’t explain any of this to you. It is gobblygook.
- Rigmor: Inigo, I think you need to scull at least half a dozen meads. Then such gobblygook becomes understandable, and you might even comprehend the philosophical aspects of it.
- Inigo: Mr Dragonfly is a violent drunk. Half a mead and he is almost sure to start a brawl.
- Celestine: Lamashtu, are you sure we will have to fight Shadow?
- Lamashtu: She won’t understand. She has grown wild, so we may need to fight her.
- Wulf: I think that is enough questions for now. Are you ready to go, Lamashtu?
- Lamashtu: Almost. We need a way for you to recognise me if we are involved in a melee with my brethren. I do not want to be accidentally knocked down.
- Wulf: Do you have something in mind?
- Lamashtu: Yes. I shall be back soon.
As Lamashtu left us and entered Clockwork Castle, my friends stared at me.
- Wulf: Why are you all staring at me?
- Inigo: My friend, we are simply contemplating what you have been saying about souls. Now our brains have shut down.
- Wulf: I might write a book one day. It will have thousands of pages about the gobblygook of souls.
- Rigmor: Talos warned you not to try and understand some of these things.
- Wulf: I must attempt to understand something that is an integral part of being mortal.
- Rigmor: You are trying to figure out what was done to you by The Divines. You see your plight as being similar in many ways to Lamashtu’s.
- Wulf: You know me so well it is scary.
Rigmor smiled. We held hands as we waited.
When Lamashtu returned, she was wearing a red sash.
I asked her, “Didn’t I see that sash under one of the smaller clocks?”
“Yes, we had better hurry before Lahar notices. His is likely to explode if he discovers it is missing!”
“Celestine, use electricity spells on Shadow. Sentinels, your weapons have shock dweomer on them and will do damage. I doubt anything else will harm her. We can’t kill her, but if she is weakened enough, Lamashtu can capture her soul.”
“Wulf is correct. A large amount of damage must be quickly inflicted so that Shadow becomes vulnerable to a Soul Trap spell. Instead of sending her soul to a normal Soul Gem, I will send her to my Crystalline Heart. Then we will be reunited.”
I have reservations on what will happen when Shadow enters Lamashtu’s Crystalline Heart but have decided to keep them to myself. Lamashtu is determined to do this, and I will trust her instincts over mine in this.
We have made our way to the mausoleum at a much slower pace than my earlier visit. There is a Gilded outside guarding the door.
I knocked it down with Lightening.
I turned to Lamashtu.
She exclaimed, “The First Children have not left Nurndural since the day they left Clockwork Castle!”
I replied, “For their safety, we may have to block the exit with gates that can be controlled from this side.”
We have entered the mausoleum. I can hear Shadow’s tune.
- Wulf: Lamashtu, can you hear the music?
- Lamashtu: Yes. It is a tune I remembered one day and taught to Ludwig. In Clockwork Castle, you will find music boxes that play it. Ludwig made them but never sold them.
- Rigmor: I can’t hear it!
- Lydia: Nor can I.
- Celestine: Nor Me.
- Inigo: My beautiful ears hear no music.
- Wulf: I am wondering if she led me to Amalgam. That tune was playing over the big speaker horn above the hospital entrance.
- Rigmor: Is Shadow nearby?
- Lamashtu: Yes, I can feel her presence.
At the end of a long corridor, Shadow is standing and staring at us. I have decided to walk towards her.
When I was but a step away from Shadow, the music stopped, and the siren briefly sounded. Then, Shadow disintegrated into ash, leaving a scorch mark on the ground.
Lamashtu said, “Shadow knows something is wrong and will hide. So we will have to search her out.”
The three Gilded arose once more, and for the third time, they were knocked down.
We have entered Nurndural and can see no Gilded.
We have travelled over thirty minutes to reach the entrance to ‘Direction of Flow’. We have not encountered any hostile Gilded.
I asked Lamashtu, “Where have the First Children gone?”
“I think they have gone to the Nurndural’s housing area. Perhaps they want me to reunite with Shadow?”
“That would mean they are not as mindless as you thought.”
“Yes, another interesting thing to ponder.”
The only enemy we encountered on the way to the Animoculotory was a single Dwarven Spider.
Lamashtu opened the doors to the Animoculotory.
She then turned to us and said, “I don’t think the Animoculotory has been disturbed for centuries or maybe even millennia.”
I replied, “Lucky for Lahar that he is not with us. Imagine the dust!”
“That was humour and not weirdness, correct?”
“That depends on who you ask.”
The Animoculotory was full of chambers used to transform Dwemer into Gilded. They would enter the chamber, have their soul trapped then their body covered in molten metal. The soul trap would work because the Dwemer were close to death due to a plague. The molten metal would sear away the flesh but leave the bones. The still malleable metal was then forged into their metal body by machines. A Crystalline Heart containing the Dwemer’s soul was then placed within the ribcage of the inert Gilded, and they awakened. No longer Dwemer but Gilded.
I said, “I can hear the music. Shadow is in here somewhere.”
Lamashtu replied, “I cannot hear it this time.”
“I think she trusts me even though she is scared. Let us look around before I open the chamber in which she is hiding.”
Several of the chambers contained the bones of failed conversions. Several were locked.
I stood in front of the chamber I knew Shadow was hiding in.
I said, “Everybody ready!” then opened the chamber.
Shadow stepped out but vanished before we could do anything. Even if she is not aggressive, we must weaken her for Lamashtu’s Soul Trap spell to work.
I could tell which chamber Lamashtu had moved to, but Gilded attacked us before reaching it. They had been hiding inside other chambers.
Bars have been raised to block our exit from the Animoculotory. I assume Shadow did that because she wants and needs us to complete the merging of the soul halves.
I approached Shadow’s next hiding spot. This time she did not wait for me to open it but casually emerged and stared at me.
I hit her with Lightning.
A Gilded mage attacked me with Ice Spears.
I quickly knocked down that Gilded while Lamashtu and The Sentinels took care of others.
I approached Shadow’s third hiding spot, and once again, she emerged slowly and stared at me.
I cast Lightning, and Shadow was reduced to a puddle of ectoplasm.
Rigmor yelled, “Wulf, something is wrong with Lamashtu!”
I rushed to Lamashtu, who stammered, “That’s it. I have her. She… I… It’s been so long.”
I cast Grand Healing, but it did not affect Lamashtu. There was no flesh to repair!
Lamashtu stood up and moved around for a few seconds. Then she waited for me to approach.
- Shadow: Don’t leave. Don’t go out there. Stay here.
- Lamashtu: I am here. I am with you.
- Wulf: You have two voices! Tell me, am I speaking to both Lamashtu and Shadow?
- Lamashtu: No.
- Shadow: Yes.
- Lamashtu: I am… unsure.
- Wulf: We saw Shadow’s soul enter you. Is she in your Crystalline Heart?
- Shadow: Yes, I am in her heart.
- Lamashtu: I had thought that she was the missing part of me, that she was what I needed. But it is like looking at my reflection.
- Wulf: Shadow was not half of your soul?
- Lamashtu: No, we were the same all along. Both nothing but copies of the living Lamashtu.
- Wulf: I have a theory!
- Inigo: Should we resign ourselves to more gobblygook induced headaches?
- Wulf: Absolutely!
- Lamashtu: Please tell me.
- Wulf: I mentioned the different accounts of the Battle of Red Mountain. They are all correct because they occurred during a Dragon Break, also called an Un-Time. The regular progress of linear time is disrupted. Multiple timelines are supposed to happen in parallel and never meet. With a Dragon Break, these multiple timelines end up converging. For example, we knew the Dwemer vanished when Kagrenac struck Lorkhan’s Heart. Now we know two things that happened in parallel when Kagrenac struck Lorkhan’s Heart. Lamashtu the Dwemer simultaneously became Gilded and Shadow. Usually, those two entities would exist in their parallel timelines, but the timelines merged due to the Dragon Break. Therefore, both of you now exist in this timeline. You have identical but separate souls.
- Lamashtu: I have read of Dragon Breaks. Many parallel things can occur.
- Wulf: Many scholars dispute a Dragon Break occurred at that time. The same sceptics can’t explain the differing reports of the battle that have legitimate and respected sources.
- Rigmor: The Warp in the West was a Dragon Break.
- Wulf: Yes, and it is the best documented. To control the Numidium, a control rod called the ‘Totem of Tiber Septim’ was fashioned by the Chimer. In 3E 405, a Blade found that artefact and delivered it to somebody. Twelve years later, in 3E 417, the Mantella was installed into Numidium, and the Totem of Tiber Septim used to power it up. A Dragon Break then occurred, and at least six Totem of Tiber Septim and Numidium came into existence and in possession of different provinces. Some reports say eight came into being! Logically, that means twelve years earlier, the Blade had delivered the single Totem of Tiber Septim to at least six people! Great battles ensued as warring countries and provinces used their Numidium. It is impossible to know precisely how long the Dragon Break lasted.
- Rigmor: How does Akatosh fix Dragon Breaks?
- Wulf: Female Dov, called Jills, weave the threads of time back together till Akatosh’s preferred timeline can continue.
- Rigmor: Yeah, right. Pffft!
- Lamashtu: Wulf speaks the truth.
- Rigmor: Oh!
- Wulf: Lamashtu, please do not regard yourselves as copies of the Dwemer called Lamashtu. You are individuals whose life experiences differ from each other’s since your souls found new homes. One of you has spent four thousand years as Gilded. The other as Shadow. Neither of you has much resemblance to the Dwemer called Lamashtu.
- Lamashtu: Yes, I have had a body and voice while Shadow had nothing. But I am always the same and am still the same. I hoped retrieving Shadow’s soul would help. I expected to feel better. But now I realise that I, too, am a ghost.
- Wulf: You have both lacked stimulation. Life is not just existing. You live so you can experience things. Tastes, sounds, sights and emotions. That is living. The journey is what counts, not birth and death. Stagnating in endless repetition is not living; it is just existing. Do you understand?
- Shadow: We do.
- Wulf: I think you are both Lamashtu and Shadow now. You will have to stop fighting for control. I once had to do the same thing, but it took me some time to realise it was necessary.
- Lamashtu: I am her, and she is me. I am unsure. It is difficult to explain my thoughts from when… my thoughts as Shadow.
- Shadow: I think perhaps there were no thoughts, only feelings. I was lonely. Death is eternal loneliness.
- Wulf: Death is eternal loneliness for those without faith. An afterlife exists, and all it needs is belief in one of the many real gods to experience it. That is a fundamental truth the Dwemer foolishly abandoned. Upon death, the Life Force half of your soul will seek the afterlife you have chosen and enable the complete soul to travel to the relevant plane.
- Lydia: That is why Nord warriors end up in Sovngarde and not some other afterlife.
- Wulf: Yes, and their faith makes them formidable in battle. My faith makes me unafraid of death. However, I do not welcome it as I have much more living to do.
- Shadow: Wulf, I called out to you and kept you close because I was lonely. I think I did the same to that… that man… Ludwig. Yes, Ludwig. Though with him, I don’t think it was needed.
- Wulf: Ludwig chose to stay, and you did not keep him prisoner. You could not have imprisoned me. Even so, I was not going to leave till I knew what you needed. Now I know, and I am pleased you have it.
- Shadow: I couldn’t speak. Not to him or you. Not even to myself. I couldn’t do it.
- Wulf: Ludwig chose not to speak, but you had no choice. He no longer talked to Lamashtu or Lahar. When you have nothing to talk about because stagnation is your existence, there is a reluctance to speak. He did not attempt to return to civilisation as he did not want to talk anymore. He did not want to explain who and what he was and thereby subjected to judgement. It is a self-perpetuating nightmare. To break the stagnation, you must interact with the world. But, unfortunately, the stagnation makes you scared of doing so.
- Shadow: Is it sadder to want a voice and not have one or to not use the one you have?
- Inigo: Thank you, Shadow, for another question that will keep me awake at night.
- Lamashtu: Wulf, you seem knowledgeable about what we are experiencing.
I let my Dovah speak. Then, my eyes changed, and Lamashtu stepped closer to have a better look. Usually, somebody who sees them for the first time steps back in shock.
- Wulf: Rigmor told you that I am not an ordinary mortal. I am Dragonborn. I have the blood and soul of a dragon inside this mortal body. I am like two beings sharing a soul. My Dovah and my Imperial Man.
- Shadow: We are trying.
- Lamashtu: But each of us wants to speak and express ourselves.
- Wulf: In time, you will naturally use one speaking voice almost exclusively but have two internal voices. Everything will be new to Shadow and, therefore, exciting. Like a child, she will voice that excitement and have a million questions.
- Lamashtu: Yes, Shadow is like that. She will make me see things for the first time as well. Her new perspective will be fascinating!
- Wulf: It is essential to show respect for each other’s opinions. If somebody ignores your thoughts and feelings, you might as well have talked to a rock.
- Shadow: Lamashtu had lots of gears in her head but no rocks. She will listen to me.
- Wulf: Both of you will have strengths and weaknesses. The biggest challenge is to step back and let the other half do what is needed. Currently, my Dovah is speaking. He is ruthless in battle and shows no mercy. That is sometimes required. The mortal half of me despises killing even though he is one of the best at it. My mortal self is in control nearly all the time but listens and knows when the dragon needs to come to the fore. Early on, we learnt that it is wrong to suppress either of us.
- Lamashtu: I am glad you have given us some advice from experience. It will help, but we both know it will take time to sort ourselves out.
- Wulf: When you do sort it out, you will regard yourself as a single entity. You might call that entity Lamashtu or Shadow or come up with a new name. But Shadow and Lamashtu will both continue to exist.
- Lamashtu: We, I mean I, will return to the castle. Thank you for helping me.
- Rigmor: You have a lot of pondering to do!
- Shadow: I am not content with staring at mountains. I think we shall do some gardening while pondering.
- Lamashtu: We had better ask Lahar for one half of the garden then.
- Shadow: Maybe two thirds. Equal shares.
- Lamashtu: Good thinking.
We had no encounters as we escorted Lamashtu back to Clockwork Castle. Even the three Gilded in the mausoleum had left.
- Lamashtu: We shall go and explain to Lahar. He will have to adjust as well.
- Rigmor: He loves you. Did you know that?
- Shadow: I have always known. I think I remember more of our life as a Dwemer than Lamashtu does.
- Wulf: I saw very few automatons in Nurndural and no sign of Falmer.
- Shadow: We were independent, free-thinking and rejected slavery. To enforce it upon a people who came to us for help was abhorrent. We were peaceful people but had a few Centurions to help with labour. Apart from them, the only automatons we used were Spiders, and they helped maintain our machines.
- Wulf: I noticed Aetherium geodes when travelling Nurndural.
- Shadow: We did not value it like other Dwemer and did not participate in the Aetherium Wars. Access to Fal’Zhardum Din, Blackreach, was blocked by the eruption of Red Mountain.
- Wulf: We shall leave Clockwork Castle in a few hours, but we shall return soon with some friends and an airship. Perhaps you would like to see some of Skyrim with us.
- Lamashtu: That would be good. But we need some time to adjust.
- Shadow: And Lamashtu has promised to explain every part of Clockwork Castle. I can now ask questions on everything I have seen since it was built. It will be exciting.
- Lamashtu: It will be something different.
- Wulf: I don’t think the First Children are lost to you. I believe they need something to stimulate their minds and remove their stagnation.
- Lamashtu: As I did when Ludwig first gave me access to his books.
- Shadow: I agree. The First Children cannot read your books, but Dwemer created machines to transfer and translate knowledge onto lexicons.
- Wulf: We used a machine to transfer an Elder Scroll onto a cube. I assume that was a lexicon?
- Shadow: Yes, the cubes are lexicons. Other machines can do the same with written books. They change the language to Dwemeris and allow faster research. Many thousands of your books could be stored on a single cube.
- Wulf: I visit many Dwemer ruins. Perhaps if we find such a machine, we could install it in Nurndural.
- Lamashtu: Yes, Lahar would be capable of that.
- Rigmor: You have a lexicon you promised to return to Avanchnzel. Perhaps that place has one of the machines required?
- Wulf: I feel guilty about that. I simply have not had the chance to do so.
- Lamashtu: Why do you want to return it?
- Wulf: The people who took it from Avanchnzel felt guilty and also think they were cursed. I must return it as promised.
- Lamashtu: We can always retrieve it if the knowledge on it is deemed worthwhile.
- Shadow: If you place it within a pedestal, you should be able to read it.
- Lamashtu: We would be willing to accompany you on such visits to Dwemer places. We have mage skills to defend ourselves. However, Lahar does not, so it would not be wise for him to enter a hostile area.
- Shadow: I am not a huge repository of Dwemer history or their magic. I remember small parts of what Lamashtu the Dwemer knew. But that knowledge could be of aid in such places.
- Celestine: What was your role when Dwemer?
- Shadow: Lamashtu was a mage. Not a Tonal Architect like Kagrenac. More like the mage who lived in Clockwork Castle for many years.
- Lamashtu: That is why I had such a need for knowledge when I first met Ludwig.
- Wulf: As promised, I shall supply many books for you. We shall fill the library once more.
- Lamashtu: We thank you.
- Rigmor: And we thank you. Many duties are awaiting me at home, but when I can, I shall visit again. I now regard you as friends and look forward to our next meeting.
- Shadow: Friends? Yes, that is something I have needed for such a long time.
- Lamashtu: Lahar will look forward to visitors, so he has somebody to fuss over and clean after.
- Wulf: I will go and try the Travelling Machine.
- Lydia: Celestine and I will try out that large tub!
- Rigmor: Wulf, if you think I am leaving here before trying one of those baths, you are sadly mistaken!
- Inigo: Maybe I shall chase my tail for a bit.
Lamashtu went to speak to Lahar. Lydia and Celestine headed for the tub in the servant quarters. Inigo started asking his tail why it insisted on following him all the time. Rigmor made her way to the Master Bedroom. I decided to have a look at the Work Room and then try the Travelling Machine.
The Work Room had a forge, workbench and sharpening wheels.
It also had a jewellery workbench, and on it sat a music box. I opened it and Shadow’s tune played.
I made my way to the Travelling Machine and set Whiterun as the destination. Since Lahar had already travelled there, it was the safest choice.
“Have you figured out the bath?” I asked Rigmor via our rings.
“I am heading to Whiterun via the Travelling Machine.”
“Let me know when you get there. OUCH!”
“Try more cold water.”
I walked into the portal and was teleported to Whiterun. My time in the ether was about the same as when using one of my spells.
There were no cobwebs and no sign of dust. I bet Lahar enjoyed cleaning the place. He also left some fresh food and drinks.
I asked Rigmor, “Have you finished boiling yourself like a lobster?”
“This is so good! I want one in my throne room.”
“Maybe we can arrange one elsewhere in your castle? I don’t think your people should see their Countess naked in the bath.”
“The machine worked?”
“Yes, I am about to exit via a trapdoor and see where the Terminus Machine has been hiding.”
I climbed outside then said to Rigmor, “The entrance to the Terminus Machine is on the battlements opposite the main drawbridge.”
I looked down then told her, “The trapdoor is hidden by long grass and dirt. The lock on it is very advanced, and no ordinary thief could open it.”
“What are you going to do now?”
“I will zap back then try the portal to Solstheim. I want to see if the travel time varies.”
“Have fun. I am!”
The Terminus Machine has no controls. The portal can only be opened and closed from Clockwork Castle. I entered the portal and found myself back in the castle.
I set the destination to Solstheim, assuming Raven Rock would be where the Terminus Machine was.
The Terminus Machine was located in a small building of Dwemer construction. It was dusty and full of cobwebs.
I laughed when I found a false bookcase was used to hide it.
The entrance to the terminus was opposite the docks where we had first arrived from Skyrim.
I made my way back to Clockwork Castle and the Master Bedroom. Rigmor was still in the bath.
I warned her, “You will turn into a prune!”
She lifted her foot out of the water and replied, “Nope. My toes are not overly wrinkly. Care to join me?”
“You have to head back home. VIPs visiting, remember?”
“Yeah, I know. Stuffy members of the Elder Council doing the rounds of the counties.”
“From previous descriptions, they sound like the type of nobles I would happily drown.”
“As Freathof and Malesam keep saying, we have to play their game. That means putting up with them and acting ladylike.”
“You are having a bath but then putting your stinky armour back on?”
“Not at all. Look on the bed. Lahar left me a present.”
On the bed were two dresses and a note.
“I made these for Rigmor. They resemble what Lamashtu liked to wear long ago. You will also find some of Ludwig’s favourite jewellery pieces in the bedside drawers. Sometimes he made things and did not want to sell them.
I hope Rigmor enjoys the dresses and jewellery.
I said to Rigmor, “They are lovely. But you have no shoes!”
“I will go barefoot. Then, when I zap back to my bedroom in Bruma, I will have dozens of pairs from which to choose. Oh, Lahar asked if you can go and say goodbye.”
I left the bedroom and found Lahar talking to Inigo.
- Wulf: Thank you for Rigmor’s dresses.
- Lahar: It is good to be of service.
- Inigo: My metal friend is looking forward to travelling with us on occasion.
- Lahar: Yes, I had a quick talk to Lamashtu and Shadow. They told me about your plans. When you visit Dwemer ruins, I can enter and help after the danger is removed.
- Wulf: Your knowledge will be invaluable. I know Dwemer scholars who will visit here soon. However, I will warn them not to ask too many questions and explain that you have limited memories of being Dwemer.
- Lahar: Sometimes, we need a question to be asked before we realise the answer is in a memory we have.
- Inigo: Is that how you remembered how to build the machine for transferring souls?
- Lahar: Yes. I asked myself how I could help Lamashtu. Then the memories surfaced.
- Inigo: Lahar was asking me how to deal with being different.
- Lahar: I would like to be me and not hide inside a robe and cowl.
- Wulf: I am sure Inigo will provide much valuable advice. However, in public, you must use a disguise. We have to protect Nurndural and the First Children. If people see you without a disguise, too many questions will be asked. The wrong type of people will seek the answers via unpleasant means.
- Lahar: But in the airship and amongst your friends, that will not be a problem?
- Inigo: My metal friend, you can be Lahar amongst us. There will be many new people for you to meet.
- Wulf: I must say goodbye, for now, Lahar. We shall visit again soon with some of those new people.
- Lahar: Lamashtu and Shadow said you would give them time to adjust. I will also need that time.
- Wulf: Inigo, be ready to leave soon.
- Inigo: I will tell the ladies we are going. Via a closed door. They will still be in that large tub soaking. Lydia has deadly aim with bars of soap!
- Lahar: Wulf, I am looking forward to seeing you soon.
I made my way back to the Master Bedroom. Rigmor had brushed her hair and donned the red dress. She wore a beautiful pearl and ruby necklace
“So, what do you think?”
“Stunning! Is it easy to remove?”
“You are always thinking one step ahead, but we don’t have time. VIPs and all that.”
“Okay, before we attack each other and rip our clothes off, you had better skedaddle.”
“It means to leave quickly. Vamoose is another one of my favourites that means the same thing.”
“I thought as I soaked that we had managed to go a few days without new weirdo words, and you spoil it at the last second.”
“You weren’t trying to figure out the soul gobblygook while in the bath?”
Rigmor kissed me, then vanished. I teleported myself to my room in Silverpeak Lodge and summoned The Sentinels.
In Clockwork Castle, I had found something far more valuable than knowledge about teleports. I had found new friends and another mortal race that needs protection.
ABOUT THE SOUL IN SKYRIM
Sorry if this breaks the fourth wall but a can of worms was opened by the Clockwork Castle mod.
Specifically, what is the nature of a soul in the Elder Scrolls universe?
I only recent found this excellent article. It does a very good job of explaining a complex subject.
Philosophers and religious leaders have discussed the difference between Life Force and Consciousness for thousands of years. But recently, the scientific community has become interested.
This peer review paper is complex but interesting.
This book is quite good at delving into the subject as well. One of its main arguments is that Consciousness is not a product of the brain but a fundamental force of nature.
I tried not to go too deep into it. After all, it gave The Sentinels a headache.