Middas, 28th, Morning Star, 4E 202 & Turdas, 29th, Morning Star, 4E 202
Today I am going to visit the dig and then attend to High Queen Elisif’s summons. Elisif said in her letter that there is a V.I.P from Morrowind requesting my assistance. I am intrigued.
The Sentinel Squad for today is Lydia, Jordis, Ghorbash and the now mortal Serana.
Serana looks different. Not just her eyes but her facial features. She said Falion had never performed his ritual on a Daughter of Coldharbour before and had no explanation for the changes wrought.
Fog still covered the ground as we made our way down the path from Silverpeak Lodge. A light drizzle started to fall by the time we reached the base camp.
Auryen and Eriana were standing away from the camp, getting wet.
- Wulf: Good morning, Auryen, Eriana. Is there any reason you are here instead of inside the warm and dry tent?
- Auryen: We are waiting on a courier who has some essential books for us. Our camp can be difficult to see from the road, so we thought we would keep an eye out for them.
- Eriana: Auryen gets bored quickly if he doesn’t have somebody to converse with. So here I am, learning all I ever wanted or needed to know about Dwemer privies.
- Serana: That sounds like a crappy subject.
- Wulf: Oh, well done, Serana!
- Auryen: Serana? The vampire who was here early in the dig?
- Serana: Yes, and I am a vampire no longer.
- Auryen: Ahh, somebody had rediscovered the ritual. Did you know Molag Bal once sought the cure? I don’t know why.
- Serana: Well, I don’t think he will answer me if I ask. He probably wants a divorce now.
- Eriana: Huh?
- Wulf: Serana was a Daughter of Coldharbour. That means she was regarded as one of Molag Bal’s wives.
- Eriana: Oh. Did he ever do his share of housekeeping? Sweeping, cooking, washing, etcetera.
- Serana: He was too busy with his next plan for conquering Nirn and Mundus.
- Auryen: Here are a couple of Eternium shards the others found. You should only need one or two more to forge the staff.
- Wulf: Thank you. The forge is in the valley, and you must have seen it.
- Auryen: Yes, I did, and I think if you place all of the shards inside, it will reforge automatically.
- Wulf: It is worth trying when I have more pieces.
- Auryen: You had better speak to Latoria. Nobody is brave enough to enter the tunnels at the moment.
- Wulf: Why?
- Auryen: Something chased Latoria whilst making a horrible chittering sound. When she panicked, so did the others. They all came running out as quick as they could!
- Wulf: Okay, I will talk to our smiling Khajiit.
Latoria was wearing an Expert Destruction Mage robe and not her nice blue one.
- Wulf: Latoria, where is your blue outfit?
- Latoria: A Terrible thing befell Latoria! This one was bringing some interesting tiles back to Professor Marassi when Latoria heard a terrible screaming sound. It was something not of this world. It scared poor Latoria, and she lost her balance, tripped and knocked the wind out of Khajiit. Latoria ripped her nice blue robe and skinned her knees!
- Lydia: Oh dear! What scared you so?
- Latoria: Latoria does not know, but Latoria dropped the interesting tiles, and the screaming thing ran away with them!
- Wulf: And you positively don’t know what it was?
- Latoria: Latoria does not know, and Latoria does not want to find out, either. The others were further into the new passages when it happened, and Latoria was by herself.
- Serana: How big was it?
- Latoria: Latoria had tears in her eyes. This one did not see it very well.
- Wulf: Did any of the others see or hear it?
- Latoria: They all came running out right after Latoria, scared out of their minds. Latoria assumes the monster was something they dug up! It was probably starving after centuries of being imprisoned in the tunnels, and Latoria was going to be dinner!
- Wulf: Why would it pick up the interesting mosaic tiles instead of eating Latoria?
- Latoria: Latoria doesn’t know. This Khajiit did not ask it questions!
- Lydia: Relax, Latoria. We shall investigate.
- Latoria: Oh, thank you. Latoria will be staying here until you discover what it is and remove it. Terrible, horrible sounds…
- Wulf: Ahh…did Madras happen to find Dwemer bits and pieces in amongst all that boring Nord stuff?
- Latoria: Yes, and he was both excited and very mystified. He has been more eager to help Latoria sort through the bucket loads of material!
- Wulf: And you didn’t laugh too much and make him suspicious?
- Latoria: Latoria is always laughing, and the others don’t bother asking why. Latoria is Latoria.
- Wulf: Latoria is evil!
- Latoria: Madras constantly whines about Nords. At least they did not vanish up their backsides like the Dwemer!
- Serana: I would love to see any evidence that the Dwemer disappeared up their backsides. That would be a significant bit of Magicka!
- Latoria: Latoria thinks you were a vampire. But now you have normal eyes and are not so pale.
- Serana: I am no longer a vampire.
- Latoria: Latoria is happy for you.
- Serana: I am happy for me as well.
We approached Professor Marassi.
- Wulf: I would like some more information on what the beast that scared Latoria might be.
- Marassi: Whatever it is, it makes dreadful sounds. But I think Latoria is getting carried away. Poor thing is just a terrible fraidy-cat, hahaha.
- Lydia: Didn’t you pee your pants and run outside as well?
- Marassi: Yes, well… it does sound vicious. But I have no idea what it may be.
- Wulf: I suppose there is only one way to find out.
- Jordis: If Ghorbash goes first, the beast will take ages to eat him, and the rest of us can escape!
- Serana: Good plan!
- Ghorbash: Hey!
- Wulf: Hopefully, we will be back soon and tell you what the monster is. If we are running fast and Ghorbash isn’t with us, I suggest you run as well.
- Marassi: What if you can’t outrun the monster?
- Wulf: We only have to outrun Ghorbash and hope the monster likes the taste of Orsimer.
- Ghorbash: There is something seriously wrong with this plan!
We entered North Windcaller Pass.
I said to The Sentinels, “All joking aside. We don’t know what we are dealing with. The beast was in South Windcaller Pass when Latoria encountered it, but who knows where it is now. Let’s move quietly and no talking.”
There was a small room I had not checked the last few trips through North Windcaller Pass. We made a slight detour, and I picked the lock to the room.
Inside was another Eternium Shard. That made five in total.
We exited North Windcaller Pass and into Windcaller’s Retreat, where Madras and Kyre were working.
We walked up to Madras.
- Wulf: Madras, we are here to deal with the beast or monster or whatever it is.
- Madras: Yes, yes, by all means, deal with it. That means I don’t have to. Not that I would be the one to deal with it otherwise.
- Wulf: I bet you are keen to get back inside and find what the Dwemer were doing here.
- Madras: I have been scratching my head. There have been no indications of Dwemer activity around here recorded as far as I can tell.
- Lydia: Oh, Calcelmo said there might be. Perhaps you should speak to him. He might know something you don’t.
- Jordis: After all, he is the preeminent Dwemer expert in Skyrim.
Madras’ jaw dropped, and he shook his head at such an outrageous suggestion. We quickly moved away before our amusement spoiled the prank.
Kyre heard our conversation and was amused.
- Kyre: Poor Madras. He thought he was on the verge of a significant discovery, and then we all got spooked by whatever it is in there.
- Wulf: I hope it is something I have not seen before.
- Kyre: Just watch yourself in there. That thing sounded pretty nasty. I would hate for something to get a jump on you.
- Lydia: We would hate for something to get a jump on us.
- Jordis: Especially Ghorbash, who has volunteered to sacrifice himself so we can escape!
- Ghorbash: We urgently need to discuss that plan a bit more.
- Wulf: Okay, let us go beastie hunting!
We entered South Windcaller Pass, and I warned The Sentinels, “Same deal as before. No talking and as quiet as we can be.”
A bit further in, we could smell and hear trolls.
We found them in a large cavern with several freshly killed hunters and an Eternium shard.
I did not trust the structural integrity of the ceiling, so I did not use Unrelenting Force. I jumped down and used my sword instead.
The trolls lasted seconds.
I retrieved the Eternium shard.
The two hunters were very recent kills.
Wooden pathways and scaffolding led us to believe some mining has been conducted in this part of Windcaller’s Pass.
I said to The Sentinels, “There must be another entrance that the hunters used. Perhaps the exit to Ivarstead.”
Serana replied, “I can hear another troll. There has been no sign of the beast that scared the guild members.”
“Maybe it found the exit to Ivarstead and is busy eating the townsfolk?”
We continued, then suddenly heard a squealing and chittering.
I said to The Sentinels, “The chittering is that of a racoon. The squealing sounds like it is in pain.”
We entered another cavern containing more dead hunters. They also appeared to be recently killed by trolls.
Extensive woodwork shored up some walls where it looked like mining had been conducted.
The chittering and squealing were very loud, and we followed them to a small alcove where a racoon was in distress. One of its paws was wedged between two planks of wood. No matter how it tried, it could not free itself from its predicament.
I grabbed the two planks and pulled them wider apart. The racoon’s paw was freed and did not appear to be injured. The racoon turned and smiled at us.
- Wulf: You are safe Ghorbash!
- Ghorbash: It could be some horrendous monster in disguise. Just when you drop your guard, it attacks and rips your throat out.
- Lydia: I can understand why Latoria and the others were scared. Its cries were loud.
- Jordis: But I don’t think its paw has been trapped for long. I think Latoria and the others were scared by its chittering.
- Wulf: You have to remember that they are not seasoned adventurers. If they had never heard a racoon before, it might have been frightening.
In the cavern where the racoon was trapped were rich deposits of iron ore and gold.
We found and disposed of the other troll we had heard for some time.
But then we heard even more trolls.
One of them was marked by Kyne, so I took care of it while The Sentinels took care of the other one.
The racoon was following us, and I did not have the heart to shoo it away.
We continued exploring but encountered no more bodies or enemies.
We exited a cave just outside the bridge to Ivarstead.
We made our way back to Windcaller’s Retreat, where most guild members were waiting for us.
The racoon was still following us.
The racoon trotted over and stood still as the guild members surrounded it.
- Marassi: Well, well, what do we have here?
- Wulf: It is the beast of South Windcaller Pass.
- Kyre: Wait, that’s the terrible beast that had Latoria running? Hahaha!
- Latoria: What, that? Latoria is so humiliated!
- Madras: Hahaha!
- Lydia: You all ran away from it, so leave Latoria alone!
- Madras: Yes, it was shrieking like a devil.
- Marassi: Haha, well, I suppose that is true. It seems this little guy has taken quite a liking to you, Guild Master.
- Wulf: I think he has taken a liking to Latoria. He was probably trying to introduce himself when Latoria mistook his chittering for a monster.
- Jordis: I agree with Wulf. I think he wants to stay with you, Latoria. You should give him a name.
- Latoria: Well, how about Fafnir?
- Marassi: That sounds like a pretty good name.
- Kyre: Alright.
- Marassi: Great, then it is settled. Fafnir it is.
- Wulf: You do know who Fafnir was, don’t you?
- Latoria: Latoria does not know any famous Fafnir.
- Wulf: He was one of the head assassins of The Dark Brotherhood at the time of the Oblivion Crises.
- Latoria: Latoria does not think this Fafnir is an assassin.
- Wulf: The pass is now cleared and exits near Ivarstead.
- Marassi: Really? That is fantastic news. We will spend another couple of days researching the unexplored areas.
- Wulf: And Kyre, you might be interested in the gold and iron deposits. You might want to check who has claimed ownership before you start mining them, though.
- Kyre: Will do.
- Marassi: Guild Master, I assume you have somewhere to be?
- Wulf: Yes, High Queen Elisif has requested my presence. We will be teleporting to the Blue Palace in a minute.
- Latoria: I will be leaving the dig before the others. I am spenind a few days in Riften with Inigo!
- Wulf: I will see you all back at the museum soon.
I had six shards of Eternium. We climbed to the Cold Forge, and I placed them inside.
There was a flash, and Hrormir’s Staff was instantly reforged. It has a very strong Ice Spike dweomer. Serana was keen to carry it, so I handed it to her.
I warned the Sentinels, “Be on your best behaviour in the Blue Palace! I will summon you soon.”
I teleported to the Blue Palace then summoned The Sentinels. I removed my helm before approaching the throne.
Queen Elisif said to Falk, “Please bring our guest from Morrowind here.”
As Falk left to do Elisif’s bidding, I bowed to her and said, “You are looking well, My Queen.”
“My guards did not draw weapons on you this time!”
“No, that was my fault last time. I should have warned them about our ability to teleport.”
“It is good to see you, Wulf. It has been some time since we sat and talked over a good meal.”
“I find myself being tugged in many directions at once. But I shall make a time soon as you know all the juicy gossip.”
“I am sure Countess Rigmor knows just as much.”
“Yes, but Cyrodiil gossip is so boring.”
“I have asked you to come here because our visitor from Morrowind says there is a dangerous criminal loose in Skyrim that only somebody with your skills could safely apprehend.”
“And the name of this visitor?”
“That poses a problem. Not only do I not trust House Hlaalu, I recently killed several of their members who were plotting to assassinate Councillor Morvayn of Solstheim. I have had a Grey Writ on me ever since. I am also a Wizard-Lord of House Telvanni, and therefore an enemy of House Hlaalu.”
“House Hlaalu are bitter over their treatment by the Great Houses since the end of the Oblivion Crises. Since then, they are quick to use assassins and other unsavoury tools when seeking revenge.”
“As long as I am the target of the Grey Writs, I will ignore them. But I can assure you, High Queen Elisif, that if the Morag Tong harms any of my friends, I will visit Morrowind and destroy them.”
“Here they come. Please stand beside me as we deal with Mandyn Hlaalu. Feel free to speak when you desire.”
I stood to the left of Elisif and watched Falk and Mandyn approach. Then they stood before us. Mandyn downed whatever was in a goblet and handed it to Falk.
- Falk: Your Majesty, Commander Valdr, I present Mandyn of House Hlaalu.
- Elisif: Welcome, Mandyn of House Hlaalu. You must understand we can’t call it a Great House despite our sympathy for its fall from grace. After all, your House’s unwavering support for The Empire caused the animosity from the Great Houses.
- Mandyn: I understand, your highness. Even here, it would be best if you played the political games of Morrowind.
- Elisif: I am not fond of protocol and pretentious titles. However, with politically sensitive issues, we must be careful even when there are no witnesses to any breaches of protocol. If we do not practice such caution when there are no ears and eyes taking note, we may accidentally offend when there are.
- Mandyn: Understood and a wise policy.
- Elisif: Please speak freely, Mandyn Hlaalu. Why did you seek this audience with Commander Valdr and me?
- Mandyn: Your Majesty, I have been tasked with bringing to justice a criminal we believe poses a danger to not just Morrowind but all of Tamriel and maybe even Nirn in its entirety.
- Elisif: A heavy burden. How many people are with you pursuing the criminal?
- Mandyn: There is only myself tracking him in Empire lands. In Morrowind and Solstheim, we have many, but even then, we do not think it would be wise to confront him. His power is such that we are convinced the only person who has the skills to bring him to justice is Commander Valdr, the Dragonborn.
- Wulf: You are acting solo and trying to keep track of his whereabouts?
- Mandyn: Correct.
- Wulf: Is this manhunt officially sanctioned by your Grand Council or the King? Or is it an internal Hlaalu concern?
- Mandyn: This criminal had caused significant damage to House Hlaalu. I am here on their behalf.
- Wulf: Who is this fugitive, and what is so dangerous about him?
- Mandyn: We do not know his name, and none have seen his face. He has been making discreet enquiries and gathering clues about items of the past we should all wish to remain hidden.
- Wulf: There are many such items! Can you tell me precisely what the items are?
- Mandyn: His enquiries have revolved around a new Numidium and Kagrenac’s Tools.
- Wulf: Then I thank you for making us aware of this. Your Majesty, this individual does seem to pose a threat serious enough for me to at least question him.
- Elisif: It certainly sounds like something within the jurisdiction of the Penitus Oculatus.
- Wulf: Mandyn, why does his search for these things make him a criminal? I agree that they shouldn’t resurface into the hands of an unknown. But the desire for something is not a criminal offence.
- Mandyn: Any attempt to apprehend him has resulted in death. It is his willingness to murder that makes him a criminal.
- Wulf: Where should we start our search?
- Mandyn: A small town called Little Vivec.
- Wulf: I know where that is. It is home to Dunmer that were sick of the racism in Windhelm.
- Elisif: Yes, High King Torygg agreed to its establishment for that very reason. Under Ulfric’s rule, the racism in Windhelm became far worse.
- Wulf: Mandyn, what ethnicity is this criminal? How will I recognise him?
- Mandyn: Nobody has seen his face, and gender is assumed by voice alone. He wears chitin armour of an older sort.
- Wulf: Chitin armour is not a common sight in Skyrim. That will aid me in finding him.
- Mandyn: Then you shall seek him for the sake of both Morrowind and The Empire. I advise not to listen to his silvered tongue but cut him down without mercy. He may even be a match for you if challenged to fair combat.
- Wulf: I will give him every opportunity to tell me his side of the story. Even suggesting that I cut him down without doing that curtesy makes me think you are afraid of what he has to say. I think you know who this man is and am hoping I will be your assassin. That is not going to happen.
- Mandyn: That is your prerogative. I will follow other leads I have and then stay at the local inn.
- Wulf: My Queen, if you don’t mind, I will visit Little Vivec immediately. If this man is a danger, then I want to stop him as soon as possible.
- Elisif: Of Course, Commander Valdr. You have my permission to withdraw.
I teleported to the outskirts of Riverwood.
I walked along the road a bit and then summoned The Sentinels.
- Wulf: Your thoughts?
- Lydia: You are right. Mandyn is hoping you will act first then ask questions later. That is not how you do things.
- Serana: I am still getting used to Skyrim in 4E 202, but one thing has not changed over the centuries. Crooks are crooks. He is as trustworthy as a used horse salesman.
- Jordis: I think there was some truth in what he said. I think the ‘criminal’ has killed those pursuing him. He is probably as formidable as Mandyn said.
- Ghorbash: I find it strange that House Hlaalu would ask for Wulf’s help after paying for Grey Writs on him.
- Wulf: I have always intended to visit Little Vivec. Talos used to spy on me from that village when I first awoke and rescued Rigmor. He was always with a young boy and his dog.
- Lydia: Well, we can stand in the middle of the road speculating, or we can do what Penitus Oculatus members are supposed to do and stick our nose into other people’s business.
As we walked, I pointed to a cliff. I told The Sentinels, “That is where Rigmor jumped from to get away from The Thalmor and their dogs.”
Serana replied, “She must be tough to survive that fall.”
“She is not a quitter. To survive what The Thalmor did to her proves that beyond doubt.”
We looked down to where Rose’s boat was moored.
I said, “I don’t want to use that boat. I feel like walking these roads and enjoying the scenery.”
When we reached the Temple of Arkay, we turned off the road.
Just past the Temple of Arkay was the jetty leading to Little Vivec.
I didn’t think the young boy could help us with the fugitive, but my curiosity took over when I spotted him playing with his dog.
“Hello there, I am Wulf. What is your name?”
“I am Albert, and this is my best friend, Meat! Say hello, Meat!”
I looked down at Meat, who greeted me with a small bark.
“It is nice to meet you as well, Meat.”
Albert asked, “Is your name really Wulf?”
“Yes, it is. Why do you ask?”
“Well, I have a friend call Wulf, but nobody believes me. He comes to visit sometimes, but when I say I have been talking to Wulf, everybody says they never saw him.”
“Does he have a white beard and messy hair?”
“And did he used to stand with you and stare over there where a camp used to be?”
I pointed to where Rose’s camp once was. Albert smiled and said, “Yes, he said the Dragonborn was camping over there. Are you the Dragonborn?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Wow, so Wulf is not a make-believe friend?”
“No, he isn’t. How did you meet Wulf?”
“Well, I lived in Windhelm, and my parents joined the Stormcloaks. They went to fight one day and never returned. None of the other Stormcloaks could tell me what happened, so I left Windhelm to look for them. I got lost and was surrounded by wolves who looked really hungry, and then Wulf walked between them, and they let him pat them like they were his friends. He looked sad when he told me my parents were now in Sovngarde. I told him not to be sad as they must have died fighting, and that is what Nords are supposed to do. He told me that is not really true and asked if I would like to learn how other people live. When I said yes, he laughed and asked me to stay where I was. He then walked away, and the wolves followed him.”
“And you stayed where he told you to?”
“Yes, but it was cold, and I was hungry. Then Selyse found me. She was coming back here from visiting family in Windhelm and had taken a shortcut through the woods. When she heard my story about my parents, she asked if I would like to live somewhere safe. Somewhere where both sides of the war have agreed not to touch. She was an elf, a grey skin, but she was not like I was taught. She was nice and kind, and I liked her. So, I said yes, and she brought me here, and now she’s like my mum after we finally got a letter saying sorry, but my parents had died fighting bravely in battle.”
“Is everybody else in this village Dunmer?”
“Yeah, but they all treat me nice even if Nords in Windhelm treat them horribly.”
“And Wulf comes to visit you?”
“Yeah. Wulf just likes to talk about the things I do, like the games I play with Meat and the chores and so on. He finds that stuff interesting while other grown-ups find it boring.”
“Well, he sounds like an excellent friend.”
“He is. He even gave me this special lucky coin. Do you want to see it?”
“I sure do!”
Albert fished a coin out of his pocket and handed it to me. I could feel my father’s presence, and when I took my coin out, the two were identical down to the tiniest scratch.
Albert looked wide-eyed when I showed him that the coins were the same. I gave him his coin back and put mine away.
I said, “You keep that coin safe, Albert. It is a special present.”
“I will. I promised Wulf that I would.”
“Has anybody in strange yellow armour visited LIttle Vivec recently?”
“Oh, yes, yesterday. I didn’t speak to them, but Bal-Ran did. He is the town’s hunter and lives in that hut over there.”
Albert pointed to a hut next to a large campfire.
“Thank you, Albert. Say hello to Wulf next time he visits.”
“So, I say to Wulf that Wulf said hello. That is a bit strange.”
“You can’t imagine how strange.”
Bal-Ran spotted us walking towards his hut. He met us along the jetty leading to it.
- Wulf: Good afternoon, Bal-Ran. I am Commander Valdr of the Penitus Oculatus.
- Bal-Ran: Good evening to you, Commander. Do you need help with something?
- Wulf: I am looking for a man dressed in Chitin armour. Albert said he passed through Little Vivec yesterday.
- Bal-Ran: Maybe. Perhaps if you help the village, I might remember something about him by the time you return.
- Lydia: Citizen, it is illegal to hinder an official investigation.
- Bal-Ran: I am not hindering. I am trying hard to remember. I thought your duties would including the protection of small villages from bands of bandits. Was I wrong?
- Wulf: Tell me about the bandits.
- Bal-Ran: A band of them have been plaguing the woods nearby for weeks. They have even waylaid the Priests of Arkay. I believe they have been spying on this town, looking for weaknesses, before they strike. I could take down a few if they attacked, but I can’t protect the village against their numbers.
- Wulf: We shall visit the bandits. Mark on my map where they are currently camped.
Bal-Ran marked my map. I know the area as it leads to the path to Angi’s.
- Bal-Ran: Their leader wears an Orcish helm. I dented it with an arrow when they got too close. Bring it back as proof you dealt with the problem.
- Wulf: Okay.
As we walked towards the bandit camp, we talked.
- Serana: Bal-Ran was very cautious.
- Wulf: The residents of Little Vivec fled Windhelm due to the rampant racism and poor treatment from the resident Nords. I don’t expect them to trust any authority.
- Lydia: There might be a real problem with bandits, but Bal-Ran wants to see if we will help Dunmer citizens.
- Serana: What abut Talos and the boy?
- Wulf: I don’t know how many random people that he has helped. It is a bit of a coincidence he found an orphan and a place for him to live just across from where I was camped.
- Serana: He is a god.
- Wulf: They can see significant things in the timeline. Minute details, I don’t think so.
- Serana: Talos took the time to help out a single mortal. And I think placing the son of racist Nords amongst Dunmer who fled racism was a strategic move. Albert will be a voice of reason due to his upbringing amongst the people of Little Vivec. That all sounds like something that a Divine who loves mortals would do.
- Lydia: Wulf, Tiber Septim was a renowned strategist. I assume he can come up with quick solutions to the problems presented.
- Wulf: Well, even if Albert never finds out who Wulf is, he will remember the kindness.
- Jordis: Was Little Vivec protected during the civil war?
- Wulf: Yes. It has no strategic value, and the only reason Stormcloaks would have raided it would be racism. Ulfric relied on many nobles to stay out of the conflict. A display of racism on such a scale would make many neutrals flock to The Empires side. Both sides agreed not to attack small villages and towns.
- Ghorbash: Ahh, wolves headed our way!
A pack of wolves attacked and soon regretted it.
A bit further on, we could see some bandits harassing a Priest of Arkay.
One of the assailants was a Forsworn mage.
We cut her and two other bandits down.
I said to the priest, “You handled yourself well.”
“I was a Legionnaire till I got the calling. I was surprised to see any bandits. They have become scarce since the civil war ended.”
“I am surprised they attacked a priest!”
“I suppose it is easier than working for a living.”
“Well, I am glad we could help.”
“Thank you, Commander Valdr.”
“I didn’t mention my name!”
“Everybody knows that armour you wear. It is all over the news sheets.”
“Arkay’s blessing to you.”
“And to you, Dragonborn.”
It was pretty dark when we reached the bandit camp, so I used night vision.
At least a dozen well-armed bandits and a white tiger were dead. I removed the Orcish helm from what appeared to be their leader.
Many trunks containing valuables were untouched. Whoever killed the bandits was not after their possessions.
One bandit was encased in ice. The Ice was slowly melting, but it would be weeks before the body fell to the ground.
Lydia said, “If a single person did, they are formidable.”
“Yes, and I have a suspicion who it was.”
“That is my guess.”
We made it back to Little Vivec without incident and headed for Bal-Ran’s hut. Ba-Ran was standing in front of a Shrine of Azura.
- Wulf: Do you worship all three Reclamations or just Lady Azura?
- Bal-Ran: I will pray to all three from time to time, but I am fond of Lazy Azura.
- Wulf: Here is the Orcish helm of the bandit leader.
I handed Bal-Ran the helm, and he closely inspected it.
- Bal-Ran: This is indeed his helm. It carries the dent I gave it.
- Wulf: All of the bandits were already dead. Less than a day, I would estimate.
- Bal-Ran: Already slain? Could it have been him?
- Lydia: If it was a single warrior, they were highly skilled.
- Ghorbash: You know who did it. Was it the fugitive we seek?
- Bal-Ran: I cannot tell you who it is. That is confidentiality I will not break! But you did try and do us a service and proved your honesty by not claiming the kills for yourselves.
- Wulf: What can you tell us?
- Bal-Ran: He visited yesterday wearing Chitin armour from Morrowind. He is a powerful man and honourable. We discussed much. I mentioned the bandits to him but did not ask for his aid, but he must have offered it anyway. Those poor fools would have never stood a chance.
- Wulf: Do you know where he went?
- Bal-Ran: He said he was seeking a Dwemer ruin called Kagrenar.
- Wulf: I know the place. It is near the border with Morrowind.
- Bal-Ran: I cannot say more. I am sorry.
- Serana: Did a Dunmer from Morrowind come to Little Vivec and enquire about the fugitive?
- Bal-Ren: Yes, but nobody trusted him. He seemed…
- Serana: Like a Hlaalu?
- Bal-Ren: So that was a fake name he used.
- Wulf: His name is Mandyn Hlaalu. He claims this man is a criminal, and he urged me to kill first and ask questions later.
- Bal-Ren: Typical Hlaalu intrigue and lies. I do not know why you seek him out, but if you find him, I urge you, think before you act.
- Wulf: I always do, Bal-Ren.
Bal-Ren headed into town to have a meal with some of the other villagers.
I said to The Sentinels, “I will teleport into Honeyside then summon you all. It is a fairly long walk from Riften to Kagremar.”
Lydia asked, “Isn’t Inigo and Latoria going to be there?”
“Not till tomorrow night. Perhaps, as their Thane, I should warn the citizens of Riften to get some sleep while they can.”
I teleported into Honeyside then summoned The Sentinels.
- Wulf: If anybody needs to use the privy, do so now!
- Serana: Why didn’t you teleport outside the city gates. Near where the Khajiit camp?
- Wulf: I want to visit the Temple of Mara.
- Lydia: Are you asking for advice on Erandur?
- Wulf: Yes. He is positive he wants to become a Sentinel, but I can’t judge his suitability. Others who have known him longer will be honest in their appraisal.
- Lydia: Okay. I can tell you he is pretty formidable with that hammer of his!
- Ghorbash: I almost laughed when he asked me to spar. He soon wiped the grin from my face!
- Wulf: All of that will get taken into consideration.
The ladies made sure they used the privy before Ghorbash. After he used it, I doubt it will be safe for Inigo and Latoria to enter tomorrow!
We made our way to the Temple of Mara.
Dinya greeted me warmly.
- Dinya: Wulf, it has been too long. It is good to see you, but I doubt it is a social call at this late hour.
- Wulf: I need your opinion. Do you think Brother Erandur would have the mental and physical fortitude to be a Sentinel?
- Dinya: Lady Mara told me you might be asking that question. So, the answer I give is what she told me. Brother Erandur will prove to be a competent and mentally strong member of The Sentinels. Having somebody of such strong faith beside you will aid you at times.
- Lydia: What about your opinion, Sister Dinya?
- Dinya: I agree with Lady Mara. I think Bother Erandur is a suitable candidate for The Sentinels. That is an opinion from somebody who has known him for many years.
- Wulf: Thank you Sister Dinya. With Lady Mara and yourself endorsing his candidacy, I will certainly offer him the opportunity.
- Dinya: How is Rigmor?
- Wulf: She is handling her new duties exceptionally well, considering she did not have much time to adjust.
- Dinya: Lady Mara informed me of your recent discovery. That will also take some adjusting.
- Wulf: I suspected it for some time. It was good to get confirmation of those suspicions.
- Dinya: Oh, is it well known?
- Wulf: No, not at all and for many good reasons.
- Dinya: Please, forgive me for mentioning it.
- Ghorbash: We know that Wulf has to keep secrets even from us. Do not fret, Sister Dinya. We will not pursue the mystery to which you both hint.
- Serana: We just won’t talk to him till he tells us.
- Wulf: I am always blessed after visiting this temple!
- Serana: Smart arse. Oops, is it blasphemy to swear in a Temple of The Nine?
- Dinya: If it were, Maramal, my husband, would have been struck by lightning at least a thousand times by now.
- Wulf: I will revisit Riften soon, with Rigmor, and after she has sent me broke in the market, I will come begging for aid from the good people of Riften’s Temple of Mara.
- Dinya: Farewell to you all, and Mara’s blessing be with you.
We headed back out into the quiet streets of Riften. I know the Ratway and other underground areas of Riften would be busier at night than the streets ever get during the day.
We had not got far out of the gate when a suicidal idiot leapt off his horse. He ran towards me with a spear in his hand.
Ghorbash yelled, “Halt!”
The idiot ignored him, ran past him and then ran at me. Ghorbash growled and pursued.
I heard the twang of a bowstring. The idiot dropped dead with an arrow in the middle of his face.
I said to Lydia, “Good shot!”
She replied, “I was aiming for his legs.”
We laughed as I searched the corpse for a clue as to his identity. There was nothing on him. It was just another random attack.
Not much further on, we saw a Travelling Merchant and his guards fighting a ghost.
We ran past a familiar member of The Dawnguard on the way to assist them.
I soon cut down the ghost, and the Travelling Merchant continued on his way after promising a hefty discount if I need anything from him.
We ran back to where Mogrul was still standing.
- Wulf: Mogrul, why didn’t you lend them a hand?
- Mogrul: For the same reason that none of the Legionnaires sallied forth from the fort. The guards and Travelling Merchant were handling the situation, and we don’t all have your skills. Anybody else getting involved may have proven to be more of a hindrance than a help.
- Wulf: Yes, you are right. The Merchant’s guards were competent fighters and would have prevailed.
- Mogrul: Is that you, Serana?
- Serana: Yes. But I am no longer a vampire.
- Mogrul: I don’t know how that is possible, but I would love to see the expression on Isran’s face if you ever visit the fort.
- Serana: What is happening with The Dawnguard since we defeated my clan?
- Mogrul: Our numbers have increased dramatically.
- Wulf: Are you content to remain there?
- Mogrul: Is it that obvious? Isran might change over time, but I find myself uncomfortable in his presence. I may have to find somewhere else that can use my martial skills.
- Wulf: I have noticed Dawnguard patrols. I gave Isran a stern warning, and any illegal actions by him will have dire consequences for The Dawnguard.
- Mogrul: And that is why I stay. I try to be a more reasonable voice amongst the rhetoric.
- Wulf: Well, good luck. If I find something I think may suit you better, I will let you know.
- Mogrul: That would be appreciated.
I passed by Kagrenar once before, and out of curiosity, I tried the entrance doors. They have intricate locks that could not be picked, and a quick look around failed to find another way of entering the Dwemer ruins. So this time, I was more than a little surprised when the doors swung open when I pushed on them.
I turned to The Sentinels.
- Wulf: I have always been curious about this place. Its name suggests it has a connection to the most famous Tonal Architect.
- Ghorbash: That would be impressive if I knew what a Tonal Architect was.
- Serana: Tonal Architecture is a Dwemeri subset of Tonal Magic that allows its user to manipulate elements of the Aurbis by producing particular sounds. A Tonal Architect is like a Master Mage of Tonal Magic.
- Ghorbash: Did your brain hurt to say that? Because mine hurts after listening to it!
- Wulf: There are several types of Tonal Magic, and the Thu’um is one. Tonal Magic is anything that uses sound to manipulate the Aurbis. Aurbis is another word for universe.
- Ghorbash: Oh, Rayya has mentioned Sword Singers who chanted battle songs that made them formidable with dual-wielded scimitars.
- Wulf: Yes, that was another form of Tonal Magic. Others include Green Singing that Bosmer, who follow the Green Pact, can use for ceremonial purposes.
- Serana: And this place most likely has something to do with Lord Kagrenac, the greatest of the Tonal Architects.
- Lydia: Mandyn said the fugitive was making enquiries about Kagrenac’s Tools as well as a new Numidium.
- Wulf: Kagrenac’s Tools are amongst the most powerful and sought-after relics. A new Numidium, no matter who controlled it, would be a disaster.
- Ghorbash: Didn’t those three tools lead to the disappearance of the Dwemer?
- Wulf: Some histories claim that. But whatever the truth, they are designed to manipulate metaphysics of which even the greatest mortal minds are totally incapable of deciphering.
- Jordis: Could the tools be in here somewhere?
- Wulf: I doubt it. I have tried to figure out facts from fiction regarding Kagrenac’s Tools. I believe they have a signal that travels for hundreds of miles and calls on all Dwemer automatons to attack whoever possesses one of the artefacts and return it to some unknown location. Every Dwemer expert, Madras and Calcelmo, for example, has a disparate theory about their fate and where they are. There is no denying that the Nerevarine once had them, but after they let for Akavir, there is nothing to indicate where they were hidden.
- Serana: Are we the first to enter this place since the Dwemer vanished?
- Wulf: Well, the door was unlocked, so somebody else has entered. It may even be the fugitive found his way in here.
- Lydia: I will try and keep you awake, Wulf. I know you find Dwemer ruins far from interesting.
- Wulf: I don’t mind the odd mechanical construct that I have never seen before. But generally, they bore me terribly.
We entered the first large chamber, and broken Dwemer automatons were spread over the floor. Some were still sparking and smoking, which indicated that they were very recently destroyed. Within an hour or so at the most.
On a pedestal was the strangest looking Dwemer Gyro I have ever seen. I handed it to Ghorbash, who shoved it into a sack and clipped it to his belt.
On stone tables near the Dwemer Gyro were superb replicas of Wraithguard, Sunder and Keening. The three artefacts are collectively known as Kagrenac’s Tools. I handed them to Ghorbash as well.
The next room we entered had an unpickable door that was locked.
None of us had any idea as to the purpose of the ghostly projection of Keening.
On a table next to a Dwemer chest was a book. Its title was in ancient Dwemer glyphs, but somebody had written underneath, “The First Question.”
I opened it, and it only had a single page also written in ancient Dwemer glyphs. As with the cover, somebody had written a translation in Tamrielic. I read it to The Sentinels.
“Powerful magic that has been given form. Two souls, it binds with an ancient force.”
- Wulf: Okay, this is a riddle and a reasonably easy one.
- Lydia: Powerful magic refers to love. What is the ancient force?
- Serana: Commitment, such as the vows made and rings exchanged in a marriage ceremony?
- Jordis: That makes sense!
- Ghorbash: That makes less sense than manipulating elements of the Aurbis by farting or some other noise.
- Wulf: It doesn’t have to make sense for you to help me. I need something that signifies marriage. Then we just have to place it in this Dwemer chest and hope those doors open.
- Lydia: What happens if we put the wrong thing in the chest?
- Wulf: Something unpleasant, no doubt.
- Lydia: Of course. Silly of me to ask!
We started to examine the items on tables and shelves.
Ghorbash yelled, “Ahh, one of these pendants is missing. I have no idea what they are, but the remaining ones aren’t dusty, and the lid is open. That suggests the pendant was recently removed.”
I went over to see what Ghorbash had found, and a memory was triggered.
I said, “The tradition amongst most civilisations is for the couple to exchange rings during the marriage ceremony. Madras was telling me that one of his favourite finds was a Dwemer Marriage Pendant. They were exchanged in place of rings in the Dwemer marriage ceremony.”
I picked up a pendant and walked over to the Dwemer chest.
The Sentinels wisely stood back in case I had the wrong item. I placed the pendant in the chest and closed it.
An aqua light emanated from the chest and travelled to the locked doors. The doors swung open.
The Sentinels followed me as we made our way to the next part of Kagrenar.
We could hear the Dwemer automatons well before we saw them.
We quickly disposed of them.
We were in a room with another of Kagrenac’s Tools, Sunder, displayed as a transparent projection.
As with the earlier room, there was a locked door that could not be picked.
As with the other room, a riddle and Dwemer chest were awaiting our answer.
I read ‘The Second Question’ to The Sentinels.
“The mightiest weapon in all creation. With it, mortals become gods. For only it can slay time.”
- Lydia: Oh, I know the answer to that one!
- Ghorbash: Can you give me a chance to figure it out. I just so happen to like riddles.
- Wulf: Yes, we can give you a couple of minutes.
- Ghorbash: No need, I have not the slightest idea.
- Wulf: I can give you a clue?
- Ghorbash: Okay. Hit me with one!
I whacked Ghorbash with my magic journal case.
- Ghorbash: OUCH! What was that for?
- Serana: We all heard you ask Wulf to hit you with a clue.
- Ghorbash: Well, his journal case is suitable for slaying rats, mice and other small animals. But they aren’t time!
- Wulf: What does my journal case contain?
- Ghorbash: I know it is bigger on the inside than the outside. I don’t know, a special sword that can slay time?
- Wulf: It contains my journal. What does my journal or any other written word do when the author dies?
- Ghorbash: Ah…um… Have you got another clue?
- Lydia: The written words are the thoughts of the person at the time of writing. So, if they are read after the author has died?
- Ghorbash: Aha! We can tell what that person was thinking. Their thoughts have conquered death and time!
- Lydia: Correct! Surely you have heard the expression, ‘The quill is mightier than the sword!’?
- Ghorbash: Nope!
- Wulf: Okay, look for anything to do with writing!
It took mere seconds for me to find some parchment, quills and ink. I took the gamble that the Dwemer chest required just one item. Since parchment and ink can be used for purposes other than writing, I decide a quill would unlock the door.
And I was right. The door opened.
We entered another room, and logically, this one had a ghostly apparition of Wraithguard.
I read ‘The Third Question’ to The Sentinels.
“When cold, it destroys. When hot, it creates. Let it encase your heart for what lies ahead.”
- Ghorbash: I know! I know! We are all encasing not only our hearts but our entire bodies in armour. The armour is made of metal, and so are our weapons. Our weapons are cold and kill, but the metal had to be hot to make the weapons and armour. We are looking for metal!
- Wulf: In ore form?
- Jordis: No, because the ore does nothing when cold and makes ingots when hot. We are looking for metal ingots!
- Wulf: Any type of metal ingots? From here, I can see many kinds of ingots on shelves and tables.
- Serana: Logically, it would be Dwemer Metal ingots since we are in a Dwemer building.
- Wulf: Good, I will try a Dwemer Metal ingot but look at what will attack us if we are wrong.
An inert Dwemer Centurion was waiting for the wrong item to be used. It was not very dangerous to us, but I was confident we had chosen the correct item anyway.
I collected a Dwemer Metal ingot.
I placed it in the Dwemer chest.
Then I closed the Dwemer chest. A bright red light opened the doors.
The bright red light also activated the Dwemer Centurion.
We quickly eliminated the Dwemer Centurion. On its remains, I found a key.
I said, “We had the correct item. Otherwise, the doors wouldn’t have opened. Some bastard made sure the Dwemer Centurion came to life whether or not the correct item was placed in the chest. The key it had on it must be for another door.”
The next room contained a locked door. The key from the Dwemer Centurion opened it.
We had gained access to A Dwemer Lift. Once everybody was standing on the platform, I pulled the lever.
The lift descended rapidly, but it still took close to thirty seconds to reach its destination.
As soon as it stopped, The Sentinels stepped off the platform.
I rushed past them. In the room at the end of the corridor, a battle involving several Dwemer Centurions was in progress.
I rushed around the corner and came to such a quick halt that The Sentinels all crashed into each other while trying to avoid knocking me over.
I watched in awe a diminutive figure from the past cut down a second Dwemer Centurion.
The antiquity of the armour, the two curved swords and the short stature of their wielder left me in no doubt to who I faced.
I sheathed my sword, which is an unspoken command to The Sentinels to sheath theirs.
I stood out of the weapons range so there would be no possible misunderstanding. There was also a chance that I was wrong as to the identity of the person before me.
I bowed deeply.
- Wulf: I am honoured to meet The Nerevarine.
- Nerevarine: At last, you arrive, Wulf, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines. I am equally honoured to meet you and The Sentinels.
- Serana: He was expecting you.
- Lydia: The Nerevarine!
- Ghorbash: Kinda short, isn’t he?
- Jordis: Cool swords!
- Wulf: I could be anybody under this helm.
- Nerevarine: No, it is you. In a way, I know you better than anyone else, Dragonborn. The weight of destiny lies heavily on your shoulder. I can see it in your stride. I carried it myself once, long ago. At first, it was easy. It even felt empowering to be so important to so many. But time passed, and I grew tired.
- Wulf: I carry the burden of expectations and responsibilities. Destiny is just another expectation and is mine to choose. It is not enforced. I have never felt empowered. I accept my burden as rejecting it would be selfish and irresponsible. Perhaps you don’t know me as well as you think, Nerevarine?
- Nerevarine: I apologise for my presumptions.
- Wulf: You were expecting me, so I assume Lady Azura imparted that knowledge.
- Nerevarine: Yes. Azura gave me a vision of our meeting, though I did not know where and when until I recognised this room.
- Lydia: Did you go to Akavir?
- Nerevarine: Yes, Lydia. Over two hundred years ago, I left on an expedition to Akavir.
- Lydia: You know my name?
- Nerevarine: Who doesn’t know the warrior who landed the last blow on Alduin?
- Lydia: Oh!
- Serana: Why did you go to Akavir?
- Nerevarine: A thirst for adventure… and no small amount of hubris. After I defeated Hircine in Solstheim, Tamriel felt so empty. I’d beaten a Dark Lord. Nothing else could challenge me, so I left.
- Wulf: I don’t regard my Divine Tasks as challenges. I achieve just as much satisfaction helping a single mortal as I do the entirety of Nirn. I don’t do what I do for glory or challenge! I do it because I was placed on Nirn to help people, and I accept that role. I could never turn my back on the people of Nirn. It seems to me that your values have changed, and that is why you have returned.
- Nerevarine: Yes, you are correct once more. I arrived back in Tamriel around two hundred years ago. And no one knew about my return because I willed it so.
- Jordis: Why keep your return a secret?
- Nerevarine: I cannot bring myself to face any false heraldry. Not after what I have done!
- Jordis: Why would it be false heraldry, and what have you done?
- Nerevarine: I was absent when needed. When the Red Mountain ravaged Morrowind and when Daedra invaded all of Tamriel, where was I? Where was the mighty Nerevarine? Thousands were slain heroes amongst them, and all because I had to satisfy my ego.
- Wulf: Unique skills to resolve a problem is what makes a hero. Hircine would have squished me. You could not have done what Martin Septim accomplished and raise a new Liminal Barrier, nor could you have defeated Alduin. You said you were tired. That is because you are not a god! You did your duty until you could do it no more. The gods can’t ask for any more than that!
- Serana: Nerevarine, that ring you wear makes you immortal, doesn’t it?
- Nerevarine: Yes, it was a gift from Azura.
- Serana: It is unfair that you feel that you should attend to problems after your time. You deserved the peace of quiet retirement and to join Azura in Moonshadow when your days were over.
- Nerevarine: Unfair or not, the guilt is real. Hoping to atone, I have wandered Tamriel in secret, helping where I can. I may never erase my failures, but perhaps I can overshadow them with new successes.
- Wulf: Okay, we disagree whether you should feel guilt. But you do, and if we can aid your pursuit of atonement, we shall. So why are you here?
- Nerevarine: That answer to that lies in the name of these ruins.
- Wulf: Yes, they are named after Lord Kagrenac. Do you think his tools are hidden in these ruins?
- Nerevarine: I don’t know, but I hope never to see them again. I do not want to test myself against the temptation they would subject me to. It was hard enough to resist when I was surer of my actions.
- Wulf: Then why are you here?
- Nerevarine: When Tiber Septim united Tamriel, he did so by using one of Kagrenac’s weapons.
- Wulf: The Numidium was not designed primarily as a weapon. It was supposed to be a god. But yes, Tiber Spetim did use it.
- Nerevarine: I destroyed a second Numidium two hundred years ago. Recently, I heard rumours that a third lay dormant in this very ruin.
- Wulf: If there is, it would only be dormant because somebody has not made a Mantella. It needs to be destroyed before they do!
- Nerevarine: I thought you would come to the same conclusion. So, are you willing to help me with its destruction?
- Wulf: You have our aid, Nerevarine.
- Nerevarine: I am glad to have all of you assist me. If it awakens, let me draw its attention, then attack it with everything you have.
- Wulf: Sentinels, it is something you must use ranged attacks against where possible. I will look for weaknesses while it is engaged.
- Nerevarine: Follow me! I have already retrieved the key needed to get to where it is stored.
We followed The Nerevarine as they unlocked a gate and ran along a short corridor.
We did not face a Numidium but a Dwemer Titan. I knew what it was even though I have never seen one. They are amongst the rarest of Dwemer Automatons and are an oversized Centurion.
I yelled, “Sentinels, this is not a Numidium, but the plan is the same. Let The Nerevarine tackle it in close while you used ranged weapons and spells.”
I summoned two Dremora Lords to aid the Nerevarine in close combat.
I watched the fight for a few seconds. It became apparent that no damage was being inflicted upon the Titan.
Strange gyros were receiving Magicka from Dwemer generators. I guessed that the Titan was using this Magicka to regenerate.
I yelled out, “Nerevarine, I think if I disrupt the flow of Magicka, the Titan will become vulnerable.”
The Nerevarine was too busy trying not to get smashed to a pulp to answer.
There were levers on some columns, but I had no idea if they were to turn off the Magicka streams or not. I decided the best course of action was to hit the generators with Lightning spells.
I approached a generator and hit it with the most substantial bolts of lightning I could produce.
The generator shut down.
As I headed for the next generator, I saw that Ghorbash and Lydia had joined The Nerevarine in close-quarter combat with the Titan. It was probably a good strategic move. Now the colossal automaton had to divide its attacks between the three mortals and two Dremora.
A single bolt of Lightning disabled the second Magicka generator.
A glance showed that the Titan was still regenerating. But the regeneration pace barely stayed ahead of the damage being inflicted.
I blasted the third and final Magicka generator, and it ceased to function.
By the time I reached the melee, the Titan was destroyed.
I searched the twisted metal and found a set of keys.
I turned to The Sentinels and said, “Well done. That was a formidable opponent.”
I approached The Nerevarine and advised, “Relax. The Titan is no longer a threat.”
The Nerevarine nodded, then moved away a bit before dropping all barriers and sheathing weapons.
- Nerevarine: That was not a Numidium.
- Wulf: No, it was a Titan and the first one I have encountered.
- Nerevarine: They are only used as guardians for the most important of sites. Perhaps this place had some personal significance to Lord Kagrenac if it does not contain his Tools. I cannot say for sure.
- Wulf: We shall try and figure it out. I have many resources that I can bring here to aid with that.
- Lydia: Nerevarine, the other Sentinels have asked me to express how pleased and honoured we were to be able to aid you.
- Nerevarine: And help you did! You and Wulf are an impressive team. It has been too long since I could fight back-to-back with others that I could call my equal.
- Wulf: Are you curious as to the purpose of this place.
- Nerevarine: Yes, and if you find out, I will be at the Shrine of Azura near Winterhold for some time. In a less stressful environment, I would like to talk to you, Champion of Azura, and Azura’s daughter, Rigmor.
- Wulf: We shall visit soon. I will also deal with Mandyn Hlaalu.
- Nerevarine: He is only a representative of his House. Dispose of him, and more relatives will take up the chase. Why they are fixated on me, I do not know.
- Lydia: Mandyn lied to High Queen Elisif and Wulf. That at least deserves a chained and very public escort out of Imperial territory.
- Nerevarine: Public humiliation is the worst punishment any of the Houses of Morrowind can suffer. It is a fitting punishment.
- Wulf: Divines be with you, Nerevarine.
- Nerevarine: And Azura’s blessing to you, Dragonborn and Sentinels.
The Nerevarine moved away and used a different and overly spectacular form of teleport spell.
I turned to Lydia, who said, “You and The Nerevarine together would be unstoppable.”
“The Nerevarine has done their part. They deserve to rest.”
The room we were in had two locked doors.
One of them was unlocked by the key I found on the Titan.
It led to another Dwemer Lift.
The other door has an unpickable lock.
A book titled “The Final Trial” lay upon a pedestal in front of a Dwemer chest.
I read the single page to The Sentinels.
“Take the keys that lay within. You’ll need them for the path ahead.”
There were no keys in the Dwemer chest.
- Lydia: Did The Nerevarine take them?
- Wulf: No, I don’t think they were willing to explore this place any further.
- Serana: In case they encountered Kagrenac’s Tools?
- Wulf: Yes. I think so.
- Ghorbash: Why did you say ‘they’ instead of ‘he’?
- Wulf: Nobody knows for sure the gender of the Nerevarine. It is common to use ‘he’ and ‘his’, but ‘she and ‘hers’ are equally valid. ‘They’ and ‘theirs’ is the correct form.
- Ghorbash: They are kind of small for a male hero.
- Wulf: But their race is unknown as well. The Dunmer, especially Ashlanders, are keen to claim The Nerevarine is also a Dunmer. But who knows, they may be Bosmer or another smaller race.
- Serana: So, who took the keys?
- Wulf: I have no idea. We will have to do some research on this place, which may lead to those who took the keys.
- Lydia: I have never seen you in awe of anybody or anything. You seemed to be in awe of The Nerevarine.
- Wulf: What they have accomplished is worthy of my awe. To defeat a Daedric Prince in battle is way beyond my capability.
- Lydia: What next?
- Wulf: I had better inform High Queen Elisif of the deception. We should also do the Penitus Oculatus thing and arrest Mandyn, if we can find him. It would be kind of us to tell Bal-Ren that his hero is unharmed.
The Dwemer Lift took us to the surface. Mandyn Hlaalu was waiting for us to emerge.
“Ah, there you are, Dragonborn. I was beginning to worry you’d never leave that place after all.”
“I am not surprised you knew where we would be. After all, House Hlaalu would not just send anybody to hunt The Nerevarine.”
“And did you dispose of the criminal?”
“He is no criminal even if he did arrive in Vvardenfell in chains centuries ago. That was a ploy by The Blades to put him on the path of completing the Seven Tasks. But you know that and are not concerned about his legal status. As usual, your disgraced House is seeking revenge for some perceived insult. Just like the ones I slaughtered in Solstheim.”
“And now it is up to me to kill you.”
Mandyn was taken aback by the spontaneous, genuine and loud laughter coming from The Sentinels and me. After a few seconds, I said, “Mandyn Hlaalu, I am placing you under arrest for speaking untruths to High Queen Elisif. While you sit in her dungeon, waiting for Her Majesty to decide your punishment, I will investigate your activities while you have been in Skyrim. Who knows, I may find enough charges to ensure you can’t return to Morrowind for many years to come.”
Mandyn must have decided I was an easy target since my hands were nowhere near my weapons.
I then did a weak Unrelenting Force, and Mandyn flew through the air and smashed into a tree.
As he staggered to his feet, I said, “I have killed thousands, and you thought to challenge me? Die you fool!”
A backhand swing removed Mandyn’s head.
I searched his body and found a Grey Writ. I read it to The Sentinels.
“Honourable Writ of Execution: The Nerevarine.
The aforementioned personage has been marked for honourable execution in accordance with the lawful tradition and practices of the Morag Tong Guild.
The bearer of this non-disputable document has an official sanctioned licence to kill the aforementioned personage.”
I said to The Sentinels, “I should have guessed Mandyn was Morag Tong. I am getting mighty tired of that ‘guild’. Let’s go and tell High Queen Elisif.”
I teleported to the Blue Palace and then summoned The Sentinels.
I approached Elisif and followed protocol with a slight bow.
Elisif asked, “Commander Wulf, do you have news concerning the fugitive from Morrowind?”
“My Queen, he was not a criminal but the target of a Morag Tong Grey Writ. Mandyn Hlaalu was a member of that guild and was hoping I would make the kill for him. The target was not harmed. When I tried to arrest Mandyn Hlaalu, he attacked me, and I killed him.”
“It makes my blood run cold to think I had an assassin only feet away.”
“Unfortunately, any high-profile position in business or politics makes you a target of such parasites. Ulfric was nothing but an assassin.”
“True. And there is no use living in fear. I have always been accessible to the people of Solitude and Skyrim and will remain so.”
“I beg your leave, for we are exhausted, as well as very smelly and hungry.”
“Once again, Skyrim finds itself in your debt.”
I bowed then teleported to Little Vivec. When we visited there, I had memorised an excellent place for safe teleportation.
I summoned The Sentinels, and then we went to Bal-Ran’s hut.
- Wulf: You knew who the fugitive was.
- Bal-Ran: Nerevar, born anew. The light of Azura given flesh and a hero to my people and the world. Yes, I knew. No Ashlander would not.
- Wulf: You will be glad to know The Nerevarine is unharmed and that one Morag Tong assassin tracking him is dead. There was a Grey Writ on the assassin naming The Nerevarine. The assassin was of House Hlaalu, and I believe they were the ones who hired the Morag Tong, although I have no proof.
- Bal-Ran: When I was a boy, my mother would sing me to sleep with songs of the Nerevarine. I am not ashamed to say he was my hero. And to have met him…
- Wulf: I have a feeling you will see him again.
- Bal-Ran: He told me that someone would be looking for him. Someone with a warrior’s spirit. I am glad to have sent him the right person.
- Lydia: You sent Azura’s Champion to him.
- Bal-Ran: What?
- Lydia: Commander Valdr is Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines. He is also Azura’s Champion.
- Bal-Ran: And you let me send you to deal with the bandits?
- Wulf: I understood your reluctance to trust us. Plus, I can’t ignore bandits harassing citizens. No more than The Nerevarine could.
- Bal-Ran: Little Vivec is blessed to have been visited by such heroes.
- Wulf: No, The Nerevarine and myself are nothing special. But please, believe Albert when he talks about his friend named Wulf. You are blessed to have him visit, for he is a god.
- Bal-Ran: Which god?
- Wulf: Talos.
Bal-Ran was still picking his jaw off the ground when I teleported to Silverpeak Lodge and summoned The Sentinels.
I said to Ghorbash, “I plan to visit the Orsirmer Strongholds. Do you wish to travel with me?”
“Yes, I would like that.”
“Then make sure you get some rest. I plan to leave the day after tommorow.”
I walked up to Erandur.
“Brother Erandur, it may be another month or so before you will be skilled enough to join me on a Divine Task. But consider yourself a Sentinel from this point forward if you are still interested.”
“Yes, I am!”
“How is your bow practice progressing?”
“Okay, but sometimes I dread having Ashni as my instructor. She can be quite blunt in her assessment of my efforts.”
“Ashni knows the dangers we face. She only has your best interests in mind.”
“I know. I am starting to return the insults, which makes her laugh.”
I went to my room and told Rigmor about The Nerevarine and Morag Tong and Fafnir. My beloved showed great interest in meeting The Nerevarine.
I then intended to bathe then join my extended family in Silverpeak Lodge. Instead, I was so tired I fell asleep in my armour.