Concentrated Evil

Morndas, 12th Morning Star, 4E 202 to Middas, 14th Morning Star, 4E 202

Today I am going to put the new Sentinels through their paces. Then, depending on how they handle the first task, I may take them along for the second.

Inigo is with me as an experienced member of the squad.

Aranea is Master level in both the Destruction and Restoration Schools of Magicka. She will soon be Master of the other Schools. After decades of never moving away from Azura’s Shrine, she does not want to be cooped up anywhere else. Azura no longer gives her visions, but Aranea is still dedicated to her goddess.

Ghorbash was a hero in every sense of the word during The Great War. His service record is full of commendations and mentions in dispatches. Having the blue skin generally associated with Orsimer in warmer climes makes him an instant friend to Inigo.

Derkeethus is similar to Ghorbash in many ways. He fought as a member of the Legion during The Great War and has since been pensioned off. He spent years as a miner till captured by Falmer. His friends in Darkwater Crossing asked The Companions for help but could not afford their fee. Wujeeta heard this via Argonian friends, and she knew I would be incensed. The Companions are not my favourite people! We rescued him several months ago. He kept mining while I had his service records sent to me. I think he will be a good Sentinel.

The first task for this new squad is to help clear Windcaller Pass of wild animals. After removing the Redguard thieves from the cave system, many scholars and miners have lost their lives to the animals within.

A couple of days after returning from Sancre Tor, I took the advice of Herald and asked Auryen if any archaeological digs were planned. Avram had mentioned some exciting things about Windcaller Pass, and after some research, Auryen decided it was worth exploring. Last night Auryen walked from their camp to Silverpeak Lodge and pleaded for us to do something about the animals.

High Queen Elisif asked me to investigate the cause of recent vampire attacks on villages and towns. At first, I planned to help with the dig, but then the vampire problem arose. I was told a group of vampire hunters called Dawnguard were actively investigating the situation. So, the second task for today is to visit the Dawnguard fort and see if we can help.

A new Divine Task started last night, and my compass points to their fort. The urgency of the Divine Task is low, so I believe we can spend the time helping Auryen. The Herald of Akatosh said I would receive more information to help with Divine Tasks. So far, I have zero information except where to go! Even if High Queen Elisif hadn’t asked, I would have visited the Dawnguard anyway.

We climbed Bostin’s ladder, and everybody remained on deck as I flew the airship down the mountain and anchored just outside Auryen’s camp.

  • Wulf: Inigo, you didn’t pee yourself with fright!
  • Inigo: Refusing to fly on the back of a dragon doesn’t mean I am afraid of heights.
  • Ghorbash: I would give it a go!
  • Wulf: Next time Odahviing visits, praise him. Appeal to his ego, and he might let you fly with him.
  • Ghorbash: Olette says she had a very long ride with him. And she stabbed him in the snout the first time they met!
  • Wulf: Odahviing was quite taken by Olette’s bravery. Plus, Olette is a master manipulator, if you haven’t noticed.
  • Aranea: She has a good soul, as do the other children at Silverpeak Lodge.
  • Wulf: As do the dozens at Dragon’s Keep. Their empathy for each other is palpable. They are like soldiers who find comfort by speaking to other soldiers. Feelings they can’t easily explain need no explanation when it comes to the other children. Similar experiences create a level of understanding that we can only hope to emulate.
  • Derkeethus: Wulf speaks true. Ghorbash and I have an understanding of each other rare between our species. We have lost comrades in battle and seen the cruelty of a common enemy. It is a strong bond that ignores border, race and religion.
  • Ghorbash: Just don’t get in my way, lizard!
  • Derkeethus: Then don’t be too slow, my piggy friend!

We climbed down the ladder then Inigo said, “I know you would have liked to bring Rigmor here to do some archaeology with you.”

“Duty calls for both Rigmor and me.”

“At least you had some quiet time together after Sancre Tor.”

“I needed Rigmor near me to cope with what I have learnt.”

“I am honoured you trusted me with those secrets.”

“You and Lydia deserved to know. I want to tell all The Sentinels, but it is too big a risk.”

“They know about Rigmor. So perhaps it is not as big a risk as you think?”

“I will think about it. Let us go see what the fuss is about.”

I said to Auryen, “Penitus Oculatus pest control. How can we help you?”

“Have I ever told you how droll you can be?”

“You have been here a few days already, and I am sure this dig will be another week at least. Won’t the museum collapse without you there?”

“Oh yes, Avram can certainly handle things for a while. That is except for the tours because he is terrible at those!”

“What’s it like to return to fieldwork?”

“I have wanted to do so for a long time. This dig may turn out to be quite fascinating.”

“It would be good if we can open up another passage through the mountains. Anything we find to do with Windcaller will make The Greybeards ecstatic.”

“As agreed, any relics to do with their founder will be handed to them after we make replicas.”

“I would like to present such things to them, and Paarthurnax gathered together. I have no idea how long it has been since some of them visited the summit.”

“Well, we can’t continue our nice quiet, slow investigation of the ruins unless the animals are gone.”

“I’ll talk to Patero and get an idea of what we face. See you soon.”

I walked over to Patero and asked, “What is the situation?”

“We spent a few days exploring the caves that the Redguards occupied. Then, after breaking through some rubble, we found our way into a much larger complex. Unfortunately, it is full of bears, wolves, big cats and other beasties that wanted us for lunch.”

“There must be another entrance.”

“Yes, well, a quick glimpse before we ran for our lives showed several people in different states of consumption. Some of them looked like miners. Others looked like unfortunate passers-by invited in for a meal.”

“I don’t like slaughtering wild animals.”

“We did try scaring them away with torches and spells. No luck.”

“Once they find Man and Mer are easy prey, they forget about the harder to catch and tougher alternatives. Even if you shooed them away, they would be a danger to the innocent.”

“Once they are cleared, it may take a few days to inspect the new section. I have no doubt we will have more hard labour ahead as it looks like an earthquake caused damage to the natural tunnels.”

“I will visit when I can.”

“I am sure we can entertain ourselves sifting through buckets of rubble in search of tiny fragments of civilisation.”

“That sounds, ah… riveting!”

I walked over to the beaming Latoria and commented, “Wonderful robes!”

“Lovely Celestine told me where she purchased hers. They had many designs, but I like the moons on this one.”

“Of course, being the beautiful Khajiit that you are.”

“Do you think that handsome Inigo will like it?”

“Ah, that explains the expense for something likely to get muddy during a dig.”

“Well?”

“I think he finds you charming. There is no need to dress to impress.”

“I was hoping to speak to him without Anahbi and Ashni staring daggers at me.”

“We might be able to spend some time at this dig later, but not today.”

“Then I shall just have to give him meaningful stares full of promises while you are here.”

“Can you use a whip and manacles?”

“An odd question. No, why should I need to know those things?”

“No reason, I was just curious.”

“I find this all very exciting.”

“The dig or Inigo?”

“Both.”

I walked up to Kyre and asked, “Why aren’t you wearing your armour?”

“I was constantly putting it on then taking it off. Since it seems my time here is mainly as a miner, not guard, I will stick to these clothes for now.”

“It must make a welcome change digging through rock looking for something other than ore.”

“Yes, it made prying down a big slab that was in the way far more interesting.”

“Well, have fun digging because I have a feeling there will be a lot more of it.”

“It will still be better than working in a Silver-Blood mine.”

I asked Madras, “Are you enjoying yourself?”

“It is interesting. Not as interesting as Rkund, to be sure. After all, they are just old Nord caves.”

“I find Dwemer ruins the most boring things on Nirn. Nordic ruins come a close second.”

“Yes, well, each to their own.”

We entered the cave. Nobody mentioned there were deceased where the Redguard thieves once camped!

It is unusual to see bears and big cats share a den. But the pair that attacked me were buddies that shared meals. Unavoidably, they both died within seconds of attacking.

Inigo commented, “That new sword of yours slices and dices like nothing before!”

We have entered one of the newly uncovered sections, and I can see a wayshrine similar to those on the seven thousand steps. That makes sense since Windcaller is associated with both places.

A puma is staring at me like I am a leg of lamb!

The puma leapt, and I cut it down mid-flight.

 I inspected the wayshrine and read the plaque out loud,

“Those to your right like to crawl in the dark.

Those to your left….”

  • Wulf: The plaque is too worn to make out the rest.
  • Inigo: My friend, it is obvious we must proceed to the right!
  • Wulf: Calm down, Inigo. We will get to them sooner or later.
  • Aranea: What is so exciting about the right.
  • Inigo: SPIDERS! Giant, hairy, poisonous spiders that go ‘crunch’ when you hit them!
  • Wulf: Inigo has a bit of a spider fetish.
  • Inigo: It is not a fetish! It is an obsession!
  • Aranea: Perhaps Latoria should have spent her money on a spider costume?
  • Inigo: What are you talking about?
  • Aranea: You didn’t notice the looks she was giving you?
  • Inigo: Ahh… no.
  • Aranea: Did you compliment her new robes?
  • Inigo: Latoria wore new robes?
  • Aranea: I sat, for over a century, in the cold of Skyrim wishing I had warm company to roll with. What do I find when I return to civilisation?
  • Inigo: Incredibly handsome blue Khajiit?
  • Aranea: I find people blind to the flirting of others. Warm company within reach, yet they go about oblivious to the opportunities presented!
  • Wulf: Khajiit are usually far more direct when another takes their fancy.
  • Inigo: Ashni and Anahbi certainly are!
  • Aranea: Sleep with Latoria, but if I find you have taken advantage of her, I will tie your tail into a bow!
  • Inigo: O… kay…
  • Wulf: I was wrong shooing Sethri away, was I, Aranea?
  • Aranea: You could not risk the connection between you and the Guardian General being blabbed!
  • Wulf: There is that, but you rejected him every time he visited the shrine.
  • Aranea: He was starting to grow on me. Like a wart.
  • Wulf: When my secret is out, I suggest you give Sethri a chance. He is one of the nicest people you could meet.
  • Inigo: What colour was Latoria’s new robe?
  • Aranea: Blue, which proves she has no taste!
  • Inigo: Ouch!
  • Ghorbash: Hey!
  • Wulf: Inigo thought it would be quieter without Lydia to torment him.
  • Aranea: I promised her that I would continue her legacy.
  • Inigo: That was generous of you.

I put away my sword and prepared Lightening. It is the easiest way to remove pesky spiders.

It is also handy for removing pesky webs!

Spider after spider fell to my spells, then Inigo whined, “Unfair! I want a turn!”

“Well, I do believe mummy spider just ran around the corner just ahead.”

Inigo yelled, “MINE!” as he ran towards the giant spider. Ghorbash followed by didn’t say anything as he was too busy coughing up spider venom.

Inigo’s war cry, when he is not throwing insults, is ‘Hyah!’. One ‘Hyah!’ later, the enormous spider was dead.

Inigo ran from spider to spider, laughing as he went.

When he returned, I asked, “Better than Skooma?”

“It costs far less, and those crunchy sounds are just the best!”

Inigo’s obsession was catered for, so I disposed of the rest of the spiders.

Not long after exiting the spider’s den, we found a cavern with sunlight streaming down through a hole in the ceiling. No doubt, many of the carnivores found dinner dropping in from time to time.

Mr and Mrs Tiger were not impressed with their visitors.

Two strokes of my sword and their worries were ended.

Another big angry cat populated another cavern.

I said, “Inigo, your cousin seems pissed off!”

Aranea replied, “Perhaps he likes Latoria and is jealous?”

In the same cavern, I was attacked by a wolf.

Another puma.

And an annoyed bear.

A bit further on, we came across two bears, a puma and a wolf, who all decided we looked tasty.

I leapt into their middle and killed all four in two seconds with a single sword stroke for each.

Inigo exclaimed, “There is no need to show off for the new Sentinels!”

“I am hurrying so that we can get onto the Divine Task.”

Aranea added, “I don’t mind. The fewer animals I have to kill, the better!”

I said, “Okay. I will leave my sword sheathed and let you lot kill them!”

The sheathing of my sword did not last long. The Sentinels were all too slow to react to a lion that leapt for my throat.

I drew my sword and cut it down inches from me.

That was the last creature we could find. As we were doing a sweep of the caverns, we halted before a boulder blocking entrance to the rest of the tunnels. A breeze could be felt coming from the direction it blocked. I thought I heard something and put my hand up for silence. A few seconds later, I was sure about what it was.

  • Wulf: Can anybody else hear that?
  • Inigo: Yes. Talking… in Dovahzul and very deep baritones!
  • Wulf: It is echoing, so I have no idea how far away the dragons are. The volume is too low for me to pick out the words.
  • Inigo: Don’t ask me to repeat what they are saying. My tongue cannot get around that language without sprains.
  • Aranea: They wouldn’t be inside a cavern, would they?
  • Wulf: They might, but that is rare. I know there is an open area of this passage through the mountains, as you can see from Silverpeak Lodge. Plus, it is written about in some histories I read.
  • Aranea: Will they be hostile?
  • Wulf: Both Paarthurnax and Odahviing told me that Dov will now regard any multiple attacks on me as cowardly. If an individual dragon wants to challenge me, then that is a fair test of combat, and if they are victorious, they will be considered the stronger. So, I don’t expect any more ambushes by multiple dragons, but there will still be individuals who want to challenge me. As for the two talking, I have no idea who they are or if they pose a threat.
  • Ghorbash: Can you ask your scaly friends to investigate?
  • Wulf: I could, but that may put them in danger. If a dragon wants to fight me, they may attack either of them as well. No, it is better if I find out for myself.
  • Derkeethus: We had better warn the bookworms, yes?
  • Wulf: Scholar or historian are the polite terms.
  • Derkeethus: We had better warn the scholar bookworms and historian bookworms, yes?
  • Wulf: Yes. I shall warn them, but I doubt anything but Molag Bal incarnate would stop them from exploring these caves. Even then, they would probably burrow under him.

We made our way back to the camp.

I found Patero inside one of the tents, examining some pottery.

I told him, “We cleared the cavern of the spiders and animals. There were quite a few!”

“Ah, good news. We’ll head back in and continue the dig. Give us a few days, then check back in case anything comes up.”

“There is a large boulder blocking access to the valley. We could hear two dragons in that direction. Whatever you do, don’t enter the valley if you clear that blockage!”

“There is not much chance of that now you have warned us. Thank goodness you did as we would have been eager and ran into the valley and danger!”

“There might not be any danger from them, but I should talk to them first.”

“Okay. I will let the others know.”

I said to the Explorers Guild members, “We are off to deal with some vampires. I will see you all in a couple of days.”

Once inside Bostin’s cabin, I set a course for Riften.

While we waited to go ethereal, we enjoyed lunch and a good talk.

The bell rang to tell us we were autodocking. When I went on deck, I could hear the spruikers in the city’s market and general busy hubbub. Riften always seems livelier than other cities. It is undoubtedly Inigo’s favourite.

A few people stared at us when we disembarked. Unlike most of the other cities, I wasn’t allowed to set up a beacon on the outer walls of Riften. Being in the presence of Maven Black-Briar makes my skin crawl, so I didn’t bother arguing the point.

  • Wulf: Feeling homesick, Inigo?
  • Inigo: That seems like an entirely different life.
  • Aranea: You have done well. Not many people can escape that life and thrive.
  • Inigo: Not many people get to have Wulf as their support.
  • Aranea: Is this where Olette came from as well?
  • Wulf: That bench behind you is where I met Olette. She had avoided those whose sexual deprivations involve children. She had to kill to do so! But the way she earned her gold was perilous. Selling information is not going to be a long-term career. She was a reasonable thief but found the Thieves Guild leader to be an ‘arrogant arsehole, excuse the language, Cap’n.’
  • Aranea: And now she wants to be a bard.
  • Inigo: That is one step toward her ultimate goal. She wants to be a spy.
  • Aranea: I can see the appeal, but indeed there are no retired spies.
  • Inigo: It seems they all get caught eventually.
  • Wulf: Rigmor loves this market. She could send Bruma broke if allowed to shop here without supervision!
  • Inigo: Do you think Latoria would like Honeyside?
  • Ghorbash: Honey what?
  • Inigo: It is Wulf’s house in Riften.
  • Aranea: She would enjoy anywhere you are, Inigo.
  • Inigo: Mm… she is pretty bubbly, isn’t she?
  • Wulf: You could light her on fire, and she would still be smiling. Not that I recommend testing that theory.
  • Inigo: I might invite the lady to a lovely weekend in Riften.
  • Aranea: Good idea. Remember what I said about tying your tail in a knot!
  • Inigo: My tail has not forgotten and is offended. So is Mr Dragonfly!
  • Aranea: They will get over it.
  • Derkeethus: Madesi is one of the few Saxhleel Jewellers remaining in Tamriel. It is quickly becoming a lost art.
  • Wulf: Riften was an enigma. It was a haven for Stormcloaks and their followers. Yet, they had no problems with a sizeable Argonian population. They still kept Khajiit outside though that didn’t stop one trying to assassinate me.
  • Inigo: Compared to how they were treated in Windhelm, Riften would have seemed like paradise.
  • Wulf: At least now, everything is changing for the better.

We exited the gate near the stables, and I said to The Sentinels, “We are going to cross territory that has its share of bandit camps and wild animals.”

We had hardly started our cross-country trek when we came upon an idiot with a staff. He had no idea what he was doing, which made him a danger to himself and anybody near him.

“Excuse me, citizen, I am Commander Valdr of the Penitus Oculatus. What is your name, and what are you doing?”

“Oh… hello there. I am Jac. I didn’t notice you as I was focusing on my Magicka.”

“You were about to resurrect anything dead within a hundred feet of you!”

“Oh, so it was obvious I don’t know what I’m doing?”

“Yes, it is painfully obvious that you have not the slightest idea what you are doing.”

“Well, that’s blunt.”

“I have to deal with the aftermath of people dabbling in magic all the time. It does not work if I say, ‘Excuse me. You are somewhat baffled by what you are trying. Be a good person and do not try it anymore. Thanks.’”

“Point taken. See, my grandfather was a wizard. My father wouldn’t talk about him much. But I found some of his things in the attic, including this staff. After that, I thought I was turning into a wizard too. Dead things near me would come to life again for a short while.”

“I could confiscate the staff or give you a fair price.”

I fished in my gem bag and produced two emeralds that would sell for about five hundred septims each.

“These gems should fetch about one thousand septims in total. Take the gems to the Khajiit caravan outside the front gate to get that price.”

“A thousand septims! I could fix so many things on our farm with that money. It’s a deal.”

I handed Jac the gems, and he gave me the staff. It was more potent than I first thought, and Jac had been waving it around like a toy. After the transaction, Jac walked away, staring at his gems and smiling.

A bit further along, I saw a travelling bard stop dead in his tracks. Inigo yelled, “You smell like pee, you stupid bandits!”

He had noticed two bandits who were waiting to ambush the bard. He dispatched them both in seconds.

I told him, “Excellent work, Inigo!”

He replied, “I can’t believe I used to be one of them!”

“Used to be. That is the important part.”

I used Bostin a lot, so I would avoid suicidal bandits and animals when travelling. But, unfortunately, it seems they missed me as after the bandits came moronic wolves.

A bit further up the road, a Nord dressed partly in rags and partly in plate armour came galloping past. He then stopped his horse, leapt off and attacked me with his fists while yelling, “Wabbajack Wabbajack!”

I killed him with Unrelenting Force. When I searched his body, I found several bottles of Skooma.

A small cave led to Dayspring Canyon, where Fort Dawnguard was. There are other entrances to the canyon, but this was the quickest.

Because much of the canyon was in shadow, it was more icebound than the rest of Skyrim in proximity to it.

Fort Dawnguard’s outer defences had mainly fallen to ruin, with a few arched gateways being the only things left standing.

We were walking past a young man when he called out, “Oh, hey there! Are you here to join The Dawnguard, too?”

“See the uniforms? We are Penitus Oculatus. So no, we will not be joining The Dawnguard. We are here to find out what they know about the vampire attacks.”

“Truth is, I’m a little nervous. I’ve never done anything like this before. I hope you don’t mind if I walk up with you.”

“What is your name?”

“Agmaer.”

“You can walk with us, Agmaer, but first, let me give you some advice. I don’t know how The Dawnguard is arranged, but if it looks like you have to sign yourself into a military organisation, turn away. Volunteers should not be forced into stupidity that unnecessarily endangers them.”

“Okay… that makes sense.”

“Good.”

“Hey, uh, don’t tell Isran I was afraid to meet him by myself. I heard what’s going on. The vampires, the Dawnguard, all of it. Not the best first impression for a new vampire hunter, I guess. I wanted to help, so here I am.”

“If Isran is a leader worth following, then he would realise the dangers you faced just getting here.”

“Yes, I suppose I did have to dodge some bandits and a bear with big teeth!”

“See, that should give you confidence! Be a man, not a mouse, and squeak up! I mean, speak up!”

“Haha…”

I think we were all impressed by the size of Fort Dawnguard. There must have been a large number of vampires to contend with in the second era.

As with most ancient structures in Skyrim, much damage had been done by earthquakes as well as natural decay.

I could see many ramparts suitable for docking Bostin.

We entered the fort’s entrance hall and joined a conversation between the leader of The Dawnguard, Isran, and a Vigilant of Stendarr.

  • Isran: Why are you here, Tolan? The Vigilants and I finished with each other a long time ago.
  • Tolan: You know why I’m here. The Vigilants are under attack everywhere. The vampires are much more dangerous than we believed.
  • Isran: And now you want to come running to safety with The Dawnguard, is that it? I remember Keeper Carcette telling me repeatedly that Fort Dawnguard is a crumbling ruin, not worth the expense and manpower to repair. And now that you’ve stirred up the vampires against you, you come begging for my pardon?
  • Tolan: Isran, Carcette is dead! The Hall of the Vigilants… everyone… they’re all dead. You were right. We were wrong. Isn’t that enough for you?
  • Isran: Yes, well… I never wanted any of this to happen. I tried to warn all of you… I am sorry, you know.
  • Wulf: Maybe we can help?

Isran turned to me.

  • Isran: Who are you? What do you want?
  • Wulf: I am Commander Valdr of the Penitus Oculatus. I am here on behalf of High Queen Elisif and The Divines to investigate the vampire attacks.
  • Isran: You are the Dragonborn. I suppose that killing dragons does qualify you for killing vampires. Different skillset, but just as dangerous. All right, your welcome in The Dawnguard.
  • Wulf: We are not here to join The Dawnguard but to assist.
  • Inigo: You are a funny man, Isran. Commander Valdr has killed many vampires, including an entire clan of dozens, by himself. Vampires are just another undead and to compare them to the might of dragons is ignorant if not laughable.
  • Aranea: Vampires are a threat to the innocent men and women of Skyrim. That is why we are here.
  • Ghorbash: And in case you missed it, Commander Valdr is here on behalf of The Divines, and I do believe that includes Lord Stendarr.
  • Isran: Yes, well, I stand corrected.
  • Derkeethus: What exactly is The Dawnguard?
  • Isran: We hunt down and kill vampires. Haven’t you been paying attention?
  • Wulf: Change your tone, Isran! We have come here out of courtesy. We do not need you nor The Dawnguard to investigate and fix the vampire problem. You can be part of the cure, but only if you are not part of the problem. Do you understand?
  • Isran: Somebody as short with words as me. We will get along.
  • Derkeethus: My question?
  • Isran: In the old days, The Dawnguard kept all of Skyrim safe from those bloodsucking scum. Then people stopped taking the threat seriously, The Dawnguard was disbanded, and the vampires came creeping back. So now I am trying to re-establish The Dawnguard. Thereby we can take the fight to the vampires for a change. I hope it isn’t too late.
  • Wulf: Dragons didn’t come creeping back but announced their return by wiping out entire towns and battalions of soldiers. Nobody believed in dragons, so there was no defence. The Blades were almost extinct, and nobody knew how to fight dragons.  Dragons were a danger to all life on Nirn, so The Divines sent me to deal with them.
  • Tolan: And they have sent you to deal with the vampires?
  • Wulf: Yes, and that suggests they pose more of a threat than even Isran realises. Vampires have never had the numbers to overcome mortal armies, and our city guards are doing well against their incursions. However, there is something that The Divines want me to deal with which is beyond the extra aggression being shown. It may even be the cause of the extra aggression.
  • Isran: So why don’t they just tell you what that is?
  • Wulf: It is complicated. Let’s say they like me to figure out things by myself. However, they have promised more assistance than I used to get.
  • Isran: It is vital to establish a place for vampire hunters to train and be protected from this unknown threat.
  • Wulf: I agree. We will do some fieldwork while you concentrate on getting this fort up to scratch and recruitment.
  • Isran: Tolan was telling me about some cave the Vigilants were poking around in. They seemed to think it was related to these recent vampire attacks. Tolan, tell Commander Valdr about, what was it, Dimhollow?

I turned to the elderly Vigilant.

  • Tolan: Yes, that’s it. Dimhollow Crypt. Brother Adalvald was sure it held some long-lost vampire artefact of some kind. We didn’t listen to him any more than we did, Isran. He was at the Hall when it was attacked…
  • Wulf: Okay, mark on this map where Dimhollow Crypt is. We shall investigate it.

I handed Tolan my map. He quickly marked the location then handed it back.

  • Wulf: It is not far from The Hall of the Vigilants. We might as well look there for clues.
  • Isran: Here, take a crossbow. Good for taking out those fiends before they get close.
  • Inigo: Commander Valdr is the best marksman with a bow I have ever seen. And I am the second-best. We can fire several arrows in the time it takes to crank a crossbow.
  • Wulf: Inigo is correct. But crossbows are better for those not proficient with bows.
  • Agmaer: Like me!
  • Tolan: I’ll meet you at Dimhollow. It’s the least I can do to avenge my fallen comrades.
  • Isran: Tolan, I don’t think that’s a good idea. You Vigilants were never trained for…
  • Tolan: I know what you think of us. You think we’re soft and that we’re cowards. You believe our deaths proved our weakness. Stendarr grant that you do not have to face the same test and be found wanting. I’m going to Dimhollow Crypt. Perhaps I can be of some small assistance to you.
  • Wulf: You can come with us in our airship if you wish.
  • Tolan: A kind offer, but I need time to pray and contemplate. I can get there safely.
  • Wulf: Wait for us outside the crypt. I will not deny you the chance to avenge your comrades.
  • Tolan: I won’t be alone. Freesia will be with me.
  • Wulf: Is Freesia another Vigilant?
  • Tolan: Freesia is an attack dog trained to bring down enemies quickly and without hesitation. She is the only one who managed to kill any of the vampires who attacked the hall.
  • Wulf: Isran, I believe a potential recruit has arrived.

I decided to watch and see how Isran treated Agmaer.

  • Isran: You there, boy. Stop skulking in the shadows and step up here. What is your name?
  • Agmaer: I’m, uh… my name is Agmaer, sir.
  • Isran: Do I look like a ‘sir’ to you, boy? I’m not a soldier, and you’re not joining the army.
  • Agmaer: Oh… a… of course.
  • Isran: Hmm… farm boy, eh? What’s your weapon?
  • Agmaer: My weapon? I mostly use my pa’s axe when wolves are attacking the goats or something.
  • Isran: ‘My pa’s axe’, Stendarr preserve us.

Isran noticed I was watching and knew why.

  • Isran: Don’t worry, Agmaer. I think we can make a Dawnguard out of you. Here, take this crossbow. Let’s see how you shoot.
  • Agmaer: Uh, crossbow? I’ve never…
  • Isran: As Commander Valdr said before. It is a good weapon for those unskilled with the bow. Now let me show you how to load and aim…

We quickly looked around the fort before departing, and I selected a place to dock Bostin.

As we left, we saw Agmaer busily practising with the crossbow. Pleasingly, we could see his confidence was boosted. He was efficiently using a weapon that was new to him only minutes before.

Dayspring Canyon is quite picturesque. If Isran hadn’t already claimed the fort, I might have considered it for another orphanage.

Thankfully we made it back to Bostin without incident, probably because we killed everything on the way to Fort Dawnguard.

Inigo asked, “Where to now?”

“Dawnstar. We will walk to The Hall of the Vigilants from there. A steep track leads from the hall to Dimhollow Crypt.”

Sometimes our flights in Bostin coincide with mealtime. It was a bit later than usual, but we still enjoyed our dinner and a talk while waiting for the ethereal travel.

The bell rang, and we made our way onto Bostin’s deck.

After climbing down the ladder, Inigo observed, “This place is as miserable as Windhelm! The sea breeze is an improvement, though.”

“I have never seen so many red lights!”

“There are a lot of sailors that need relief. Prostitution is probably the major money earner in this city.”

We exited Dawnstar and found the Khajiit caravan was under attack by skeletons!

The Dawnstar guards were coming to assist, but we were already there and faster.

We cut down the skeletons and saved the Khajiit but were too late to save a Vigilant.

I searched the Vigilant’s body and found two notes. I read the first one to The Sentinels,

“To whom it may concern,

If you are reading this, then you have discovered the corpse of a Vigilant of Stendarr. Know that this is the fate that awaits all those who set themselves in my path, for I am Vantus Durgois, the true successor to the King of Worms.”

Aranea asked, “Is this anything to do with the vampires?”

“No, just another Mannimarco impersonator. It seems a bad time to be a Vigilant of Stendarr.”

The first note was written on a page ripped from the Vigilant’s journal. The journal was soaked in blood, and very little was legible. I said to The Sentinels, “The deceased is Vigilant Norik. He was investigating Vantus Durgois and had tracked him to a place called Blood-Mane Crypt. We will investigate the place if we get the time. For now, we will concentrate on the vampire problem.”

Ahkari came running up and remarked, “The Dragonborn comes to our aid once more. But, of course, if he had not stolen all the good Khajiit guards or shown them to be traitors, we would have been able to defend ourselves.”

“And if the Khajiit moved their trading inside the city gates like they are now allowed to, they would not need rescuing or extra guards.”

“It is good to see you again, Wulf.”

“It is always good to see you, Ahkari.”

“I had better get back to my tent before one of the others makes so bad a trade that we will have to eat sand for a month.”

We made it to The Hall of the Vigilants with no further encounters.

The Hall of the Vigilants was destroyed. The only corpses were those of vampires and Death Hounds.

My Dovah growled, “Did you see the armour the dogs are wearing?”

“Yes, it is Dragonbone.”

“Kill them all just for that!”

“I am sure there will be plenty of other reasons just as important.”

The Vigilant’s safe, which contained their member lists and other necessary documentation, was empty.

Not far from the ruined hall was a path that passed by Dimhollow Crypt.

We were near Dimhollow Crypt when vampires and their mortal thralls attacked us.

Without getting close, heat vision told me which enemies were living and which was undead.

I headed straight for and eliminated the most powerful vampire.

Vampires are very resistant to cold but vulnerable to fire. The vampire screamed as she burned.

The thralls and lesser vampires were no match for The Sentinels.

We were outside Dimhollow Crypt and could hear a fight inside. Vigilant Tolan was not waiting for us outside, so we assumed he was causing the kerfuffle inside.

We rushed in and found two vampires and a Death Hound attacking a well-armoured dog.

I disposed of the Death Hound with my bow. The Sentinels rushed the two vampires and quickly eliminated them.

I rushed down to the dog and healed her.

“Are you Freesia?” I asked her.

“Woof!”

“Would you like to come with us and hunt some vampires?”

“Woof!”

And that his how I recruited dog number seven.

We think Tolan had no choice but to run into the cave when the vampires outside attacked. He died trying to avenge his friends and comrades.

I performed Arkay’s Rights over his body, and then we studied our surroundings.

A closed gate had no visible opening mechanism, but there was a guard post overlooking it.

We made our way to the guard post and pulled a pull-chain. The gate lifted.

We quietly made our way through the lifted gate and along some short corridors. It did not take long to find the first vampire sentry.

She was a fair distance away for a bow shot, but zoom vision helped me aim.

The arrow flew true, and the sentry died in flames.

As we approached where the sentry was, several skeletons came out of the ground to greet us.

As I took care of one, Freesia bounded ahead and made short work of two others. Meeko is impressive in combat. Freesia is his equal.

I asked my Dovah, “How come you haven’t whined about Freesia’s armour?”

“Because she is, what is Rigmor’s word, aha… Freesia is cool!”

“It looks like teeth and claws anyway. Not carved pieces of bone.”

“DUH! Which one of us is the dragon? I knew that!”

The crypt was full of gates with their opening mechanisms on the outside. They were designed to keep things in, not out.

We could hear the Thu’um being used. Only two-word Shouts, which is what most Draugr use. We approached cautiously past closed coffins waiting for Draugr to leap out, but none did.

We came upon a melee between a vampire, a thrall and a Death Hound against two Draugr. The vampire was discovering her Blood Magic did not affect the Draugr. However, the Death Hound’s ice-cold bites were doing damage.

It was a race between Inigo and Freesia as to who would reach the enemies first. Inigo is an excellent marksman but prefers using his dual swords.

Freesia growled as she leapt at the Death Hound. I think she finds their very existence an insult! A mortal’s best friend, the dog, has been made into something unwholesome and repulsive in the form of Death Hounds.

All enemies were soon dead, or deader, and we moved on.

The subsequent encounter was with a mighty Draugr Lord. Evaluating, I stood back and watched The Sentinels deal with it.

They worked as a cohesive team and, after a hard battle, brought the Draugr Lord down. I was more than pleased with how the new Sentinels were doing.

The next vampire sentry overlooked a cavern dominated by a small pool of water populated by Skeletal Warriors.

I took care of the sentry, and the others eliminated the skeletons.

As we crept along, Inigo was heartbroken to find somebody else had been killing spiders!

The culprit was another vampire sentry who screamed as she burnt.