Fredas, 13th Sun’s Dawn, 4E 202 & Loredas, 14th Sun’s Dawn, 4E 202
“Okay, my beloved, are you armoured and ready to go?”
“Yes, using the ring….”
Rigmor flew into my arms and gave me such a mushy kiss, The Sentinels started to laugh, and the barmaid turned red.
When I was finally able to come up for air, all I could do was smile. My lady was with me, and our peace enveloped us.
- Wulf: No time to stand and chat! We can do that when walking.
- Rigmor: Are we recruiting the blacksmith first?
- Wulf: That’s the plan.
- Inigo: That smile is good to see. It has been hiding since I have been in this stinky kingdom!
- Ghorbash: He didn’t even smile at my colossal fart yesterday. The bards will be writing songs about that one!
- Rigmor: It is good to be proud of one’s craft.
- Ghorbash: I want another to present to the king, but, alas, the food in this wonderful inn is not gas-producing.
- Derkeethus: I have some pickled Chaurus eggs in my pack. They are renowned for their flatulent properties.
- Rigmor: YUM! Can I have some?
- Wulf: Yes, when you are returning home. Isn’t that right, Derkeethus?
- Derkeethus: I am sure we can sneak a couple later. Just don’t tell grumpy.
- Serana: It is good to see you again, Rigmor.
- Rigmor: Serana, are you enjoying being a mortal?
- Serana: Well, yes. Being a vampire sucked!
- Wulf: Rigmor is here and bad puns! I am in paradise!
We left the inn, and nobody else was outside in the pretty village.
Most blacksmith’s I know would have at least been stoking their furnace by now. It seems Rados is a late starter.
I knocked on the door, but there was no answer.
Inigo said, “I can hear him snoring. Bang the door.”
I banged on the door, but still no answer, so I picked the lock.
I stood next to Rados’ bed, and the smell of mead was strong. I cast Grand Healing on him then used the Thu’um.
Rados’ eyes shot open then he sprung out of bed. He stared at us through bloodshot eyes.
- Rados: Come back later when the smithy is open, and no, The Legion does not get a discount!
- Wulf: Good morning, Rados. I am Envoy Valdr, here on behalf of His Imperial Highness.
- Rados: That is very impressive, but there is still no discount!
- Wulf: Rados, we are not here for your smithing. I have come to see you on behalf of Arnima.
- Rados: Of, well, it is nice to see you people haven’t been overrun by plague. The moment I hear you cough, out the door you go!
- Ghorbash: I thought you would welcome the pox. You could melt metal without all that heat!
- Rados: Haha, a good jest! You were joking…weren’t you?
- Wulf: It is hard to tell with Ghorbash.
- Rados: Well then, go ahead and ask so I can say no once more.
- Wulf: You could help Arnima. No, you could help all of Evermor if you were to don your grandfather’s armour!
- Rados: Oh, by The Nine, not again! Will my children be expected to become fabled heroes too?
- Rigmor: I see a lack of wife and children in this house.
- Rados: Well, I am yet to find a fine lady with whom to share my life.
- Rigmor: She would be marrying you and your mead. I can smell Honningbrew, Black-Briar and…wow, business must be good…Black-Briar Reserve.
- Rados: Ahh, a connoisseur! Maybe we can talk further and see what stokes your fire?
- Rigmor: Sorry, my heart already belongs to another. He is annoying and picks his nose a lot, but still, he has some good qualities. You have to squint a bit and hold your head sideways, and there they are, hidden amongst the dirt.
- Wulf: But he knows how to stoke your fire.
- Rigmor: Yes, though it is a pity his fire iron is so tiny.
- Wulf: No doubt, Rados, others have sought you out before.
- Rados: Bah, a dozen times at least, and my father before me. Each time someone’s horse is stolen or some Exiles mug a merchant or other emergency best handled by the guards.
- Ghorbash: Not the type of problems Mados would get out of bed to tackle!
- Rados: Exactly! They claim to respect him, yet they put him on display in death. They deny the old man a proper burial!
- Wulf: I ensure your grandfather is buried, that I promise. And no, it is not a bribe to get you to agree.
- Rados: Ha, the Priest Circle won’t let you.
- Serana: Have you forgotten His Excellency’s title, Envoy Valdr, and who he represents?
- Derkeethus: To deny Envoy Valdr is to deny Emperor Titus Mede II.
- Wulf: They say they represent The Nine. Denying the basic teachings of Lord Arkay suggests otherwise. They put your grandfather’s soul at risk with that blasphemous display. I shall not allow it to continue.
- Rigmor: Master Smith Baccos, we would not ask if the need was not great.
- Rados: Wow, I have no idea how long it had been since somebody addressed me correctly!
- Rigmor: I can imagine. Rados do this, Rados do that. Anybody would think you just wake one morning and you have magically become a Master Sparksmith.
- Rados: You must be from Cyrodiil to use that archaic name.
- Rigmor: It sounds better than blacksmith, does it not? Blacksmith conjures images of soot and ash covered men who haven’t seen a bath in at least a month.
- Rados: I know. I at least try to have one every two weeks!
- Inigo: You do know you are drowning at least four generations of fleas each time? They sit down for an extended family feast, then whoosh! They are drowned as they desperately cling to each other.
- Rados: A blue Khajiit and a blue Orc. I will have to keep away from that Black-Briar Reserve.
- Wulf: I am a very busy man, Rados, and would not waste my time on something trivial. Arnima and The Kingdom of Evermor are in great peril from many sources. Could you sit and do nothing when your fellow countrymen need your help?
- Rados: No, I couldn’t. The last thing I want on my tombstone is ‘Rados was twice as tall and twice the coward of them all.’ I’m in, friend. Lead the way.
- Wulf: Not so fast! If you accompany us, you need to be able to wield a sword.
- Rados: I served in the Evermor Pikeman Militia and helped with the occupation of Wayrest, so I know how to face down a foe at least.
- Rigmor: I was tutored on your war with Wayrest. Its brutality has never been in doubt, but the exact cause is unknown. The dozens of other inter-kingdom conflicts in High Rock have all had clear reasons for beginning and cessation.
- Rados: Wayrest is a bleeding mess now, but fourteen years ago, it was a paradise. That is when Evermor sought brutal revenge for the humiliation of Sigmayne.
- Rigmor: And how did this humiliation come about?
- Rados: King Barynia has some beautiful daughters. King Sigmayne was quite fond of one of them and showed too much interest, making Barynia uncomfortable. Sigmayne would not back down, and thousands on each side lay dead in a mere two weeks. Such was the war over a princess’ cunny.
- Rigmor: Many a war starts over a beautiful woman.
- Rados: Not when she is only nine years of age!
- Rigmor: WHAT!
- Wulf: Now, what Jackos told me sounds far more disturbing. He said one way of gaining knighthood was to bring Sigmayne a girl to gawk at.
- Rigmor: Is King Sigmayne raping young girls?
- Rados: Surely, in this kingdom, as it is, you don’t expect me to answer that?
- Wulf: No, Ramon, we don’t. I am sure if Sigmayne is diddling children, I will easily find the evidence. Then no walls or army will save him or those who aid him.
Rados stepped back with fear.
- Rigmor: You Excellency, put him away. We have to save the kingdom before we can worry about who leads it.
- Wulf: I apologise, Radon. Give me a minute or two, and my eyes will be back to normal once more. Better still, I will put my helm on.
- Rados: What in Mara’s name was that?
- Serana: His Excellency is also known as Commander Valdr, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines. You just saw his dragon blood and soul come to the fore. If Sigmayne harms children, the frightening visage you just saw will be the last thing he sees.
- Rados: The Dragonborn that defeated Alduin?
- Serana: Yes, he is the very one. Now, please, continue with your description of the war with Wayrest.
- Rados: Ahem, yes, well, those unnatural predilections damn near cost His Majesty his head. During one of his visits to the young princess, Barynia had Sigmayne taken prisoner and his retainers banished from the kingdom.
- Rigmor: Was Sigmayne invited? Did he have diplomatic protection?
- Rados: Did Barynia permit Sigmayne to visit and drool over his daughter? The answer is a resounding no! Sigmayne invited himself; such was his infatuation.
- Rigmor: Then King Barynia was wise to put Sigmayne in prison. It is a solid and standard practice when trying to avoid warfare.
- Ghorbash: That is all well and good if you release the prisoner after sworn assurances are gained. I bet Sigmayne either dishonoured such guarantees or escaped.
- Rados: Aye, he escaped some weeks later. It is a small wonder he wanted to see Wayrest go up in flames after such humiliation. I was levied three days after, and a week later, the army was well on the move towards Wayrest. It must have looked weird back in Evermor since another week later, Barynia surrendered. He couldn’t do it before so many men were slaughtered, it seems.
- Wulf: I have no doubt that King Barynia surrendered when he realised your armies were killing far more unarmed civilians than soldiers!
- Rigmor: That is what I assume as well. Please, Rados, tell us about those two weeks of the war.
- Rados: Nasty is the word that comes to mind. We outnumbered them six to one, but the skirmishes were so fierce our Aventurier had to set the countryside ablaze with their spells. Those were windy months, so by the time my unit had reached the city of Wayrest, the smoke was everywhere, and let me tell you, war is hard enough even when you can breathe.
- Ghorbash: You experienced a couple of weeks of warfare. Envoy Valdr has led armies to war. My scaly friend and I spent a decade fighting in The Great War and the defence of Hammerfell. We know how brutal warfare can be.
- Wulf: Your kingdom’s unwarranted actions weakened Wayrest. Opponents took advantage and hired Black Brotherhood assassins. Redguard Corsairs raided Wayrest a year after your war, and King Barynia vanished. Nobody knows if the Black Brotherhood carried out an assassination or if he went into hiding. Since the corsairs completely wiped out the Black Brotherhood’s sanctuary in Wayrest, we might never know.
- Rigmor: The corsairs are proving to be kind and benevolent rulers. I don’t assume that is what you have been told, is it, Rados?
- Rados: No, it is not. We are told the whole kingdom is a mess. I know we have to use half our military to guard the border against those who blame Evermor.
- Wulf: Some say that King Barynia arranged the corsair invasion. Pure speculation, but if he is still alive, he may be behind the current corsair problems in Evermor.
- Rigmor: How did Sigmayne escape, and please, Rados, do not call him king or majesty.
- Rados: He was broken out by a hand-picked squad of scouts. They crossed the border wearing burlap robes and posing as pilgrims. One of them, a devout Priest of Mara running an ‘orphanage’, paid some guards off to ‘see the molester-king and spit in his face.’ They made quite a scene, as you can imagine! This priest passed Sigmayne a Scroll of Recall with a Mark already placed in the woods nearby. Not a single drop of blood was shed.
- Wulf: No, the bloodshed was yet to come. I wonder if Jackos loses sleep after that piece of blasphemy? How many innocents died for Sigmayne’s revenge? How many young girls have had their childhood stolen by that animal?
- Rados: I didn’t say it was Jackos!
- Wulf: No need as it is obvious. Any respect I had for that man is gone. Let’s get going before I decide to remove a king.
- Rados: What is the weather for today? Do I have to dress for the rain?
- Wulf: Hold my hand and don’t let go!
- Rados: Why?
- Wulf: You can hold my hand right this second, or I turn you into an ice block and do this.
- Serana: Rados, I would do as he says. He doesn’t bluff.
I teleported Rados and me to the front of Armina’s temple. Rigmor followed via our rings. I summoned the others.
- Rados: That was terrifying!
- Serana: You had better harden up, Rados. If you accompany us, you will see horrors that make the war in Wayrest seem like a picnic.
- Rados: Ah, where exactly are we going?
- Wulf: I will make up my mind after I have spoken to Rirrard.
- Rados: Don’t you mean Brother Rirrard?
- Wulf: He is no priest.
- Rigmor: Envoy, your eyes! Even glimpsed through the slits of your helm, they are disturbing.
- Wulf: There is no way of controlling my anger now. Forget the diplomacy! I am Wulf.
- Rigmor: Well, you had better be Envoy Valdr when you meet Sigmayne.
- Wulf: My sword does not need a fancy title to wield it.
- Rados: Umm…
- Wulf: Don’t worry, Rados. Nobody will be with me when I speak to that monster.
- Rados: Okay, I think.
We entered the temple.
I approached Rirrard and had no motivation to be diplomatic.
- Wulf: Rirrard, Master Smith Baccos is here. Can you direct him to his grandfather’s gear?
- Rados: No need, I know where it is.
- Ghorbash: Come, Rados, I will help you into it.
- Rados: Thank you.
Ghorbash and Rados headed towards a small alcove.
- Wulf: I am deciding what to do next. Do you have news?
- Rirrard: Of urgent concern is a gathering of Witchmen to the north. They are in some form of communion, and nothing before has been quite like it.
- Wulf: There was a giant portal to Scuttling Void and many religious totems near the Dwemer ruins where we retrieved Mados’ gauntlets. We dispensed with many Witchmen but also saw a large ruin of ancient Nord design. I wonder if that has some significance?
- Rirrard: Well, it is certainly worth investigating. Missionary Reamonn knows of the location. He has spoken to Jackos about the situation.
- Wulf: Is there any word on Sigmayne or Merosa confronting Mortifayne?
- Rirrard: No, I would let you know if there was.
- Rigmor: Would you? I wonder.
- Rirrard: Excuse me, young lady. What right do you have to suspect me of such dishonesty?
- Rigmor: My right comes with the Pentius Oculatus uniform I wear. I deal with liars all the time, and you have shifty eyes, Rirrard!
- Rirrard: It is Brother Rirrard, and that title alone demands respect!
- Rigmor: Why? Your fake caste earns you nothing but scorn amongst the nobility of Cyrodiil. At first, I could not believe what Envoy Valdr was telling me. But I found out it is all true. The Priest Circle and the nobles of Evermor are slimy slugs in a cesspool of xenophobia, blasphemy and now I discover child molestation is thrown into the mix.
- Wulf: I will be investigating the accusations of child molestation, and anybody involved will be prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law if they live to get to trial.
- Rirrard: I have no idea about any child molestation!
- Wulf: Okay, let’s investigate the Witchmen before I beat the truth out of this fake priest.
I noticed Reamonn was wearing his dirty travel robes once more.
- Wulf: Recovered from our walk and tour of Dwemer ruins?
- Reamonn: Yes, and it is not something I would like to do again soon.
- Serana: The horrors of Daedric worship can be disturbing depending on the Dark Lord in question.
- Reamonn: I see you have Rados with you. Are you taking him to help deal with The Witchmen?
- Wulf: Yes, and I think he is in for a shock. Is the concern amongst those Nord ruins we noticed the other day?
- Reamonn: Yes, and I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised. That area seems to be the centre of Witchmen activity concerning Namira.
- Wulf: I don’t know if they chose the area and created the hole to Scuttling Void or vice versa. The cave we recovered Mortifayne’s amulet and the road to the Dwemer ruins are next to The Maw Soul Stone. I wonder why the Direnni placed one there? It all seems too pre-planned to be a coincidence.
- Reamonn: What about the threat to Arnima?
- Wulf: I think the Oblivion Gate will open whether Mortifayne opens it or via some other method. It is only a matter of days at the most before that event happens.
- Serana: Our fellow Sentinels and the local Legion garrison will do their best but expect many casualties.
- Wulf: All we can do is try to weaken the enemy before the onslaught. Therefore, I have decided this trip to visit the Witchmen should be our priority for the day.
- Reamonn: Facing a few Witchmen, Betrayed, and Dwemer automatons proved that I am no warrior. I will stay within the temple. The Legion and Sentinels will save many lives, as will the healers and helpers within this temple.
- Wulf: I wouldn’t expect you to die needlessly, Reamonn. We all know our capabilities.
- Reamonn: What about Rados? Can he fight?
- Rigmor: Wearing his grandfather’s armour will fill him with confidence. We shall look after him.
- Wulf: I have not warned Rados of the horrors he may face. It is better he simply confronts them without prior fear or superstition.
- Reamonn: I agree. The inexperienced should face such things, with self-preservation being the main factor that determines their survival.
- Wulf: Can you mark my map where Jackos’ scouts reported the entrance to the Nord ruins.
- Reamonn: Yes, they described landmarks we had seen so about here…
Reamonn marked my map then handed it back to me.
- Wulf: Thank you, Reamonn. Blessings of The Nine on you and the innocents of Evermor.
Ghorbash and Rados came walking over. Before a word was said, I grabbed Rados by the hand and teleported beside the Soul Stone. The others soon followed.
- Wulf: You can sheath your sword, Rados.
- Rados: If you don’t mind, I will carry it like this. I have not practised dragging it out of its sheath, and I would hate to die with a Witchmen laughing as I struggled to arm myself.
- Rigmor: Rados is a blacksmith. I am sure he can carry that two-handed ebony blade with ease.
- Ghorbash: Everybody needs to be careful and not impale themselves it!
- Wulf: Rados, we are far more experienced and skilful warriors than you. If you want to survive, do what any of us tell you to do without asking why or hesitating. And whatever you do, never get in front of me when a fight commences.
- Rados: Oh, I have no intention of doing that!
- Wulf: Good. It is time to visit our friendly Witchmen neighbours.
As we walked past a cave, Reamon commented, “That place looks sinister!”
“Oh, it is. We went in there to retrieve Mortifayne’s amulet.”
“Somebody took his amulet? I bet he wasn’t pleased!”
“No, he wasn’t. Not one tiny little bit!”
“Who stole it?”
“A being called Husk. I haven’t met him yet.”
“If I were him, I would hide over the other side of Nirn.”
“He has a much better hiding place. He lives in Oblivion.”
“Oh…ah…so you didn’t chase him there, I assume?”
“No, but I am positive we will meet soon.”
“You sound kind of relaxed about that idea?”
“Oblivion isn’t always horrible, and I quite like the place I have there. It is very picturesque.”
“You have a place in Oblivion?”
We walked by landmarks familiar from a few days earlier.
We came to an intersection where we should have turned right. A Nord arch stood before us.
“DOVAHKIIN. MUH FEN TINVAAK.”
- Rados: What in Mother Mara’s name was that?
- Wulf: A dragon. He wants to talk to me.
- Rados: And we are going ignore him and keep going, right?
- Wulf: Well, going right would be suitable for you but not for me. We are going to speak to my half-brother.
- Rados: Ahh, your mother or father must have had an interesting love life!
- Rigmor: Wulf is Dragonborn. That means Lord Akatosh has blessed him with the blood and soul of a dragon. Lord Akatosh is the celestial father of all dragons. Since Wulf is a half-mortal and half-dragon, he regards other dragons as his half-brothers.
- Rados: Oh, so I don’t have to figure out what his parents got up to in my head?
- Ghorbash: We warn everybody who travels with us to nod their head and accept these things.
- Rados: Ah, why are you blue?
- Ghorbash: The desert-dwelling Orsimer have a blue colouring. Much like the desert-dwelling Redguard have darker skin than a Nord.
- Inigo: And I have blue fur because the moons were in a particular position at the time of my birth.
- Derkeethus: And I have a blue tongue because every other Argonian does!
- Serana: Poor Derkeethus, I am sure there is something special about you as well.
- Ghorbash: He can eat those damned Chaurus eggs without puking his guts out!
- Rados: Oh, I love Chaurus eggs!
- Rigmor: Then you can share the ones we brought along.
- Ghorbash: Wulf, are we the only normal ones?
- Wulf: Albatross!
- Serana: Haha, there is your answer.
We headed up the path leading to the dragon.
Two Witchmen were in the way.
“VEN GAAR NOS”
Cyclone tossed them high into the air.
The male died on landing. The female I finished off with my sword.
Rigmor whispered to Rados, “Yes, that was The Voice. Now we have to be quiet and let Wulf concentrate as we approach the dragon.”
A young, green Frost Dragon was waiting for me. I stopped at a distance where my regular Shouts would not present a danger to him.
“Zu’u los Ahkolkrii. Dovahkiin mu fen krif. Zu’u lost nid miiraad.”
I translated for the group, “He says his name is Ahkolkrii. He says he has to fight me and has no choice.”
Rigmor replied, “You told me that Miraak could control dragons.”
“Yes, that was via the Bend Will Shout. Hermaeus Mora invented it. I know it and despise it. But who else would know it?”
“Somebody who has dealt with Mora. Traded a rare manuscript or something.”
“He may be obeying a Dragon Priest. I will ask him if he is a slave or a servant.”
“Los hi aan zaam uv aar?”
“Zu’u los zaam. Rek kod fin Thu’um. Nii los pruzaan hi krii zu’u. Ni Odahviing.”
“He said he is a slave and that she used the Thu’um. So, we can assume he is under the control of Bend Will. He said it is better that I kill him rather than Odahviing. I will ask him why that is.”
Before I had the chance, Ahkolkrii took to the air. He roared,
“ZU’U NIS QAHNAAR. KRII ZU’U AHRK MINDORAAN.”
I told the group, “He is compelled to fight me. He wants me to kill him and understand. Please, don’t get in my way so I can end this quickly!”
Ahkolkrii had barely lifted when I hit him with Dragonrend.
“JOOR ZAH FRUL!”
He came crashing to the ground.
As I ran, I hit him with Dragonrend once more.
“JOOR ZAH FRUL!”
Arrows were striking Ahkolkrii at a rapid pace. It did not take long to kill the young dragon.
Rados yelled, “That was brilliant! Who thought I would…?”
Inigo growled, “Shush Rados! Wulf mourns dragon deaths as they are his half-brothers. And on top of that, he is cursed. Stand and watch!”
But the curse didn’t come as there was no soul to absorb. Miraak could capture a dragon’s soul from far away.
I walked up to Ahkolkrii and said, “Zu’u mindoraan. Kogaan.” (I understand. Thank you.)
- Rigmor: Why didn’t you absorb his soul?
- Wulf: Somebody has stolen it. Miraak could do the same thing.
- Serana: It is not a Soul Trap spell, is it?
- Wulf: No, it is a spell that, like the Bend Will Shout, can be obtained from Hermaeus Mora.
- Serana: But the person casting it does not have to be a devotee of Mora?
- Wulf: No, just somebody with something to swap. Knowledge or manuscript or book.
- Inigo: It is better that you killed Ahkolkrii rather than Odahviing because you know somebody took the soul.
- Wulf: Yes. Odahviing would have no idea because he doesn’t absorb souls.
- Rigmor: Dwemer could do it as well. Those mechanical dragons are proof of that.
- Ghorbash: Why not have somebody else kill Ahkolkrii? Why have Odahviing or you do it?
- Wulf: Although we made it look easy, many Witchmen, Orsimer or whoever would die trying to kill even a young Frost Dragon. Ahkolkrii was compelled to die, and being Dov, he chose not to dash himself against the side of a mountain. He resisted the impulse enough to wait for a dragon’s death.
- Rigmor: What next?
- Wulf: We head for the ruins.
- Inigo: Walk with me, Rados. I will explain it all as we go.
- Rados: Good because I am pretty positive that I have no idea what just happened!
The Sentinels patiently and quietly answered Rados’ questions as we walked. Rigmor stayed by my side, and we were enveloped in our quiet. If we did not have Rados with us, we would have been walking hand in hand. Every time I looked at her, my heart skipped. How can a world so foul produce a soul so pure? What would Evermor be like if their nobility was like my Rigmor?
As we entered the Witchmen ceremonial grounds, all talk ceased, and we moved in single file.
Something I had not noticed when we were there in the fog and darkness loomed in front of me. It was a destroyed Oblivion Gate from the Oblivion Crises.
I walked to the edge of the pit and looked down. The portal had changed. It was now two-way.
We could hear rhythmic chanting from the direction we were heading.
I looked behind and told the group, “No hesitating. Just run for the nearest enemy and kill them. I do not know what their Hedge-Magic is capable of.”
We ran into the clearing where the two strange wooden constructs were. The smaller one had already been burnt. The larger one had just been set alight.
Unrelenting Force knocked a few Witchmen to the ground.
As I ran to finish them off, I was confronted by a large bipedal, monocular and ghostly ‘thing’.
Whatever it was, it only delayed me briefly as I chopped it down.
However, that delay gave a surviving Witchmen the chance to fire an arrow that bounced off my shield.
Rados was safe from Witchmen poison. His armour was blessed by Lady Mara and had many of the dweomer I place on mine and The Sentinels. It also had a constant field that would restore the wearer’s health and stamina. That dweomer is what would cause the armour to glow. It was nothing extraordinary, except to people whose only mages use elemental Destruction spells. Mados may have been a brave warrior, but a simple Magicka effect made him a legend.
I cut the marksman down and ran towards a Witchmen using Hedge-Magic. A floating crystal was firing ice-spears at many enemies simultaneously.
The Witchmen mage cast ineffective frost Destruction spells at me.
He was surprised when I ignored him and looked at the crystal for a second. I wouldn’t mind learning that spell!
I heard two thuds then looked at the mage. Two Sentinel arrows were embedded in this stomach. He dropped dead, and the crystal vanished.
I was studying the burning construct when Rigmor and Serana approached.
- Rigmor: That looks like an armoured warrior. I think it is supposed to be you.
- Serana: Rigmor is correct. Sacrifices, people you know, should be on those platforms. Valerica studied ancient curses, which the Witches of The Reach used a long time ago. It looks like The Witchmen have some teachers of lost knowledge.
- Rigmor: Any you, my darling Dragonborn, are not their favourite person.
- Wulf: Lovely. Let’s just move on before Rados asks awkward questions. He did well when facing Witchmen for the first time. I don’t want him to lose his nerve with this talk of ancient curses.
- Serana: I think there is no chance of Rados backing away from a fight. He is of ancient Reachman blood, as told by his facial features. Put some paint on him, and he would be indistinguishable from Forsworn or Witchmen.
- Wulf: Such knowledge! I knew there would be an advantage to having an old hag along.
- Rigmor: Don’t be so rude to Serana!
- Wulf: Who said anything about Serana?
- Serana: I will move over here before Rigmor start swinging that large sword of hers.
- Rigmor: Serana, my revenge on Dragonbum will happen but not know. Let him worry and fret for some time!
- Wulf: You have not yet reached two decades, my dear, and if any more beautiful, my heart would burst.
- Serana: Wulf, those whimpering, milk-drinker apologies never work.
- Wulf: Should I remove my helm and do puppy moon eyes to her?
- Serana: Ahh…no…don’t even try it. That bare neck might be too tempting a target. Sword maidens and vampires both have problems with such things.
- Wulf: What about, ‘Rigmor, the burning effigy made me do it!’
- Serana: It may have worked if you hadn’t announced what you were going to plead before you did the pleading.
- Wulf: Oh well, my fate is sealed.
- Rigmor: Look, the fire has reached the crotch area. Too bad the curse isn’t working!
- Wulf: Hey!
- Rigmor: Wulf, I would rather see you in the mood to joke around than not. But keep apologising anyway. Quickly, think of more nice things to say.
We were laughing as we approached the entrance to the ruins. We stopped when before it.
- Rados: Umm, is anybody else getting the feeling we are not welcome?
- Wulf: Relax, Rados, it is just a simple dweomer placed by the Witchmen.
- Rigmor: You did very well when we faced the Witchmen just then. They are flesh and bone like yourself and die the same way. Oops, that wasn’t so comforting, was it?
- Rados: Haha, no, but it was amusing. Thank you, and no wonder Wulf is smitten with you.
- Rigmor: What?
- Rados: The attraction between you two is obvious. I don’t know why you think you have to play coy in front of me. I don’t even know your name when all the others I learnt in the first five minutes.
- Wulf: This is Rigmor. Say hello to the nice man, Rigmor.
- Rigmor: I am pleased to meet you, Master Smith Baccos.
- Rados: And the same to you, Milady Rigmor.
- Wulf: Good, now that is over with, let us see what horrors await inside that dark and gloomy cave!
- Rados: Rigmor, Wulf has a rather strange sense of humour.
- Rigmor: He was dropped on his head as a child.
- Rados: Oh, I see. It must have been from quite a height!
- Wulf: There is nothing wrong with me! Just ask Ralph.
- Rados: Which one is Ralph.
- Wulf: My six-foot-tall invisible rabbit. He is offering you a carrot, and if you don’t take it, he will be offended!
- Rados: Okay…
We entered an ice tunnel, and it looked like many we had traversed before in Skyrim.
Similar, except for the occasional decapitated scout and angry Witchmen.
Unrelenting Force and narrow tunnels are a deadly combination.
I groaned as an unwelcome sight greeted me.
- Wulf: Oh, no!
- Rados: What? What is it?
- Rigmor: Don’t worry, Wulf has just spotted something that his logical mind finds offensive.
- Rados: What?
- Rigmor: A Nord puzzle. Watch and see how stupid the ancient Nords thought trespassers were.
- Inigo: Hopefully, this leads to a maze!
- Wulf: Fuzzball, I will cut your whiskers off!
- Rados: I take it Wulf doesn’t like mazes either?
- Rigmor: Not one little bit!
- Wulf: Let me teach you how these Nord puzzles work. Then you can tell me what you think.
- Rados: Alright, but Ralph will have to move as he is blocking my view.
“Rados, the Nord ancient gods are represented by totem animals. In the middle, we have a snake, representing Orkey, also known as Maloch and Malacath.”
“On the left, we have what some people think is an eagle. It is a hawk and represents Kyne or Kynareth.”
“On the right, we have a whale which represents Tsun, a Shield Brother of Shor and who is the Nord God of Combat.”
We entered the ruins.
I told Rados, “Pulling this lever right now will most likely spring a trap of some sort.”
Rados asked, “How do we make it safe to pull?”
We walked to the first twisting totem.
“Rados, this totem shows a snake. But it has to match the totem on the right, which was?”
I turned the right totem to show a whale.
“And the middle animal?”
I turned the middle totem to show a snake.
“And the left-hand animal?”
“Ah, a hawk.”
I turned the left totem to show a hawk.
We walked back to the lever.
I pulled it, and the gate opened, giving us access to a set of descending, spiral stairs.
Rados exclaimed, “What kind of idiots did the ancient Nords think trespassed in these places?”
I replied, “People like your Priest Circle.”
As we descended the stairs, I used heat-vision.
I whispered, “Two enemies ahead. By the stooping walk, I would say one is a Hagraven.”
Rados asked, “How do you know that?”
“I can see their heat through the walls.”
“Oh, of course.”
Inigo patted Rados on the back and said, “Well done. Just say that each time and you might stay sane.”
We snuck up on the duo.
The Hagraven screamed as my arrow ended her life.
Her guard did not know what was wrong and ran to her side.
By the time he noticed me, an arrow was headed for his chest.
Inigo exclaimed, “My friend, excellent marksmanship once more!”
When we looked at the Hagraven, she was of the standard type.
- Ghorbash: At least it is not a creepy gryphon hagraven.
- Rados: Gryphon hagraven?
- Wulf: A hagraven we encountered the other day had the beak of a gryphon.
- Rados: That sounds like an insult to Evermor.
- Ghorbash: That is what Wulf said it was as well.
- Rados: What bastard would do that?
- Wulf: The god of this Witchmen clan. The Dark Lord they call Dark Mother, whose common name is Namira.
- Rados: Well, I would like to tell her what I think of her joke.
- Wulf: Careful, you might just get that chance.
- Rados: What!?
- Wulf: Namira is planning to invade Evermor.
- Rados: When?
- Wulf: Within days. The massacre at Munstor aided her plan. The war of Wayrest also benefited her plan. She has been taking advantage of the corruption in this kingdom of yours for decades.
- Rigmor: Wulf was sent by Emperor Mede and Lady Mara to try and stop the invasion, but he was too late. The plan was too far advanced and your nobles and temples too corrupt.
- Wulf: The Witchmen are aiding Namira. We are here to try and interrupt that aid.
- Rados: And Mother Mara sent you?
- Wulf: The Divines give me tasks. This one is the latest.
- Rados: Oh, of course.
- Wulf: Have you learned standard scouting hand signals?
- Rados: No, not in the brief training I had before being shipped off to Wayrest.
- Wulf: I will signal how many enemies are ahead with the first symbol. Others hand signals will tell The Sentinels where they are, where to go and sometimes what they are. Just follow who is immediately in front of you.
- Rados: Okay.
A bit further on, I signalled one enemy ahead and for everybody to stay while I moved forward.
My arrow struck the Witchmen, who made a lot of noise while knocking things over as he dropped dead.
I saw another Witchmen was hurrying to investigate.
I got in position, turned off heat-vision, and waited.
As soon as the Witchmen Mage turned the corner, I killed him with an arrow to his throat.
We inspected what the Witchmen had been working on. It was a decaying corpse of a woman.
- Rados: What were they doing?
- Wulf: They were harvesting body parts for a flesh sculpture. See how her face has been peeled away. The skin on her hands has been removed. That is somebody else’s heart in the bowl.
Rados just managed to remove his helm in time before covering the floor in a partially digested meal.
- Rigmor: Wulf, not everybody is as used to such things as we are!
- Wulf: I will never be used to it!
- Rigmor: Sorry, that was not what I meant to imply.
- Wulf: I know. My Dovah is showing his fangs without invitation. Without you here, he would be at the forefront.
- Rigmor: We will have to discuss how you handle Sigmayne. Diplomacy may still be needed.
- Wulf: I know, and that makes me angrier.
Rados swilled his mouth with water from his canteen, then stood up and put his helm back on.
- Rados: I am sorry, that was not very soldierly.
- Wulf: All soldiers see the wounds inflicted on the battlefield for the first time. Some will kneel and vomit like you just did while in the middle of a battle and surrounded by enemies. It is worse when you see something slow and deliberate like this. You have nothing to apologise for or be ashamed of.
- Ghorbash: Orsimer chieftains make young warriors open cadavers, pull out the innards, and smear them on their faces. This ceremony is done to harden us to the sights and smells before our first battle. Even there, a reaction like yours is not frowned upon.
- Wulf: Let’s keep moving.
And that is how we continued. I would detect the enemy with heat-vision, and the others would wait until I killed them.
In one cavern, we killed two witches, a Witchmen and a Briarheart. They were using a summoning circle.
- Rados: What is in that man’s chest?
- Wulf: A Briar Heart, the seed of a plant. That is why we call them Briarhearts. They are a kind of undead but still have body heat. They volunteer for the transformation performed by Hagraven.
- Inigo: They are the most powerful warriors of The Witchmen and Forsworn.
- Rados: And what were they doing?
- Serana: That is a summoning circle. They were most likely trying to summon Dremora.
- Rados: Such evil!
- Wulf: I often summon Dremora Lords to fight by my side. The summoning is not evil. The Dremora are not evil. It is what you do with them that can be classified as good or evil.
- Serana: I can also summon Dremora Lords. Wulf and I have far stronger magic powers than these Witchmen. We don’t need a summoning circle.
- Wulf: Rados, there are many spells and Shouts I will not use. I consider them immoral and, in some instances, evil. Evermor has a warped idea about magic. They are afraid that powerful exponents of it will become despots. It takes far more corruption than a single mage to achieve that outcome.
Not much later, we came across piles of red dirt with bones protruding from them.
I warned the group, “This dirt is from Scuttling Void. Whatever is behind that gate will be powerful. Maybe a Daedra or two. Be careful.”
A pull chain opened the gate with a loud squeak.
The residents of a large cavern were aware of our presence. One of the beaked Hagraven and a transparent one-eyed beast looked in my direction.
Three quick arrows dropped the beast and Hagraven.
Undead emerged from under the water. I yelled out, “Undead Afflicted. Take them out from a distance!”
We brought the three undead down in a hail of arrows.
I turned one of the undead Afficticed over. Maggots were crawling from its eyes and other places.
The Hagraven screeched. She was not dead!
I used Whirlwind Sprint to close and attack. My arrows protruded from her body, and she should be dead!
I used a Shout to reveal the Hagraven’s aura. She was using a dweomer to protect her lifeforce inside two facsimiles.
I cut into the facsimiles and then the Hagraven. This time she did die.
I dragged the Hagraven up the stairs and turned her over.
- Rigmor: That is the ugliest thing I have ever seen!
- Rados: Was she the leader here?
- Wulf: Hard to say. She was almost certainly crucial to Namira’s plans. I would say we have struck a blow for our side with her death.
- Rigmor: What is this huge bone sculpture?
I looked up, and it was the usual representation of Namira but seemed to be balancing two items, one in each hand.
At the bottom of the sculpture was a well-used Shine of Namira with the Dark Lord’s legs spread on either side.
- Wulf: This bone sculpture represents Namira, or as the Witchmen call her, Dark Mother. I think Namira is mocking Lady Mara or at least mimicking her. The womb I entered in Scuttling Void with a developing foetus is one thing indicating that. What does this sculpture suggest with its legs spread over a Shrine of Namira?
- Rigmor: No way!
- Serana: Yes way!
- Ghorbash: Huh?
- Rados: Ah…
- Derkeethus: I know, and I come from an egg!
- Inigo: It suggests Namira is giving birth.
- Ghorbash: Oh!
- Rados: Yuck!
- Wulf: There are still too many parts of Namira’s plans that are unclear or unknown.
I had another look around the cavern. The usual roots and charred bodies were there but no other clues to Namira’s intentions.
I said to the group, “Let us head back to Arnima. Our work is done here.”
We came to a lowered portcullis. Through it, Inigo and I could see Draugr.
I turned to the group.
- Wulf: We almost made it through an entire Nord ruin without encountering what?
- Rigmor: Draugr.
- Wulf: There are a few hideous ones in the next cavern.
- Rados: What are Draugr?
- Wulf: Undead Nords. They don’t like living people very much.
- Rados: Undead Afflicted. Undead Nords. What next, an undead dragon?
- Wulf: They exist. I have encountered them.
- Rados: Undead horses?
- Wulf: I have one.
- Serana: I also have an undead horse.
- Rados: Skeever?
- Wulf: Yes, I have fought undead Skeever.
- Serana: Rados, a skilled necromancer can turn any creature with a soul into an undead creature.
I turned a twist handle which raised the portcullis.
We moved into the cavern and quickly killed the Draugr.
We soon found the exit tunnel and were looking forward to some fresh air.
We exited and found Jackos, the knights and some scouts fighting Witchmen and doing badly!
We leapt down and started cutting down the enemy.
As I rescued Mek from a Witchmen dual wielder, I noticed a scout ignoring the fight and heading for the pit. He was mesmerised.
The scout was oblivious to the fighting, and a Witchmen was stalking him.
I cut down the stalker but did not have time to worry about the scout.
I disposed of a witch who was troubling Jackos.
Then I ran to Sek, who was outclassed by a Witchmen dual wielder. What kind of training did these idiots have?
I cut down the Witchmen then lopped the head of a mage who was about to cast something at Mek.
I heard a scream and turned to where the mesmerised scout was standing. He had been torn apart when something huge emerged from Scuttling Void.
I recognised it and realised I had been wrong. The humanoid body in Namira’s womb was not Whisper. What I thought was a large bone sculpture was Whisper. And he now had a soul, that of Ahkolkrii.
I yelled, “You fucking bitch, Namira!”
Rigmor yelled, “Wulf, what is it?”
“They are called Gorgons. They use the souls of dragons.”
“But that thing can’t fly!”
Whisper took off, and I laughed. It was the disturbing laughter of an enraged dragon.
I yelled, “Watch out, it is going to skid!”
Whisper landed and skidded. Two scouts were turned to paste underneath its bulk.
I ran towards Whisper. I couldn’t use Whirlwind Sprint as bodies, alive and dead, were in my way.
Whisper lifted off just before I reached him.
Inigo was beset by smaller flying Daedra. I help him dispatch them.
Whisper landed nearby, and this time I could use Whirlwind Sprint.
Using all my might, I sliced into Whisper.
He reared and was dead before his head hit the ground.
I inspected the body to make sure of my conclusion about Whisper and Ahkolkrii. I was, and my rage intensified!
I stormed over to Jackos.
- Wulf: Well, if it isn’t my favourite orphanage owner. Glad I could rescue you and those knights once more.
- Jackos: Oh, you know of that folly.
- Wulf: Why are you here, Jackos? We certainly didn’t need your help!
- Jackos: We came through the Soul Stone at Brother Rirrard’s request. He has some vital information about Mortifayne. It seems everybody is now aware of his relationship with Namira.
- Wulf: His favourite knights were with you but notice they are no longer here. They have run back to the Soul Stone and Arnima to tell ol’ Morty what occurred here. They know the moment the Oblivion Gate opens that their lives are forfeit.
- Jackos: Many within those walls are still tragically loyal to that madman.
- Wulf: For the same reason as the knights. Their lives depend on Mortifayne surviving. Whether they all knew about his bargain with Namira or not, they all know that justice will be swift if he dies.
- Ghorbash: Jackos, we will need every man in Namira. You had better head back there.
- Jackos: We’ll be returning as soon as the Lowland Ustase detachment arrives.
- Wulf: Who or what are the Ustase?
- Jackos: It is better to avoid asking them directly. Actually, I would advise you not to engage these types at all. Else you may land yourself in very hot water.
- Rigmor: Is this the jackass you told me about?
- Jackos: Who are you?
- Rigmor: I, little peasant person, am a noble advisor to His Excellence. If these Ustase were to show any disrespect to His Imperial Highness’ Envoy, they would be showing disrespect to His Imperial Highness. If the Ustase desire the retention of their heads, they would be advised to kiss the Envoy’s big rosy arse cheeks.
- Jackos: If so noble, why are you dressed in uniform?
- Rigmor: Envoy Valdr, are all the peasants in Evermor as thick as this one?
- Wulf: He is one of the brighter ones.
- Rigmor: Well, he hasn’t learned how to use soap as yet!
- Wulf: Milady is dressed in armour as she is one of the best sword maidens on Nirn and acts as my bodyguard and advisor.
- Rados: Jackos, didn’t you see her cleave those Witchmen to pieces!
- Jackos: Is that you Rados? They finally dragged you into that armour! No, I didn’t see anything as I was too busy staying alive.
- Wulf: Back to my question. Who or what are the Ustase?
- Jackos: They’re very ‘off’. Most are drawn from the more unsavoury ranks of our conscripts. A popular and probably true rumour says more than half of them were Exiles. You know the kingdom is having problems with corruption and bad seeds. Well, everything you have seen pales to what these people are capable of.
- Wulf: Did you hear the Aventurier had a terrible day near Evermor?
- Jackos: Yes, a few dozen of them were wiped out by the Afflicted up the valley.
- Wulf: They were wiped out by us, and the same thing will happen to any Ustase I see breaking the law.
- Rigmor: Jackass, Evermor is part of High Rock. High Rock is part of The Imperial Empire, and therefore all its citizens are subject to Imperial Law.
I found our reluctant hero and told him, “Time to go, Rados, grab my hand.”
Rados didn’t hesitate. He wanted away from the Witchmen and nightmare creatures.
We appeared outside the temple in Arnima. Rigmor and the others soon followed.
Rados headed for a tavern as we entered the temple.
We walked over to Rirrard.
- Rirrard: Envoy Valdr, King Sigmayne is about to send a force to confront Mortifayne about Namira.
- Wulf: And how did he find out about that?
- Rirrard: Somehow, the Priest Circle figured it out, and the Arch-Priest told him.
- Wulf: You told the Priest Circle. You and the other charlatans don’t want to look stupid because I figured it out within hours of being here. Now you are hoping to be the heroes by being the ones to tell the child-raping King!
- Rirrard: I…I…um…didn’t mention your involvement. In case you had to do more diplomacy.
- Rigmor: This weasel is trying to get all the credit himself!
- Wulf: You might help with the healing of the hundreds of casualties that will come streaming through that door. That is the only reason why your head is not rolling on the floor!
- Rigmor: The Sentinels?
- Wulf: Yes, I will go and summon them.
- Rirrard: Who?
- Wulf: The Legion and my friends will man this city, and when the horrors come from Oblivion, they will fight and die for the innocents you and the other fake priests abandoned. You had better hope you redeem yourself in those dark hours because if you don’t, you had better run!
- Serana: Are we going to try and stop the force sent by Sigmayne?
- Wulf: Rirrard, would Sigmayne listen to the Arch Priest if he told him to wait with confronting Mortifayne?
- Rirrard: He might.
- Wulf: That is better than no. We will get The Sentinels and Legion in place, then teleport to the Mark I left near Evermor city.
I summoned the mages, who then gathered the rest of The Sentinels.
- Wulf: The Oblivion Gate could open any moment.
- Lydia: We are ready.
- Erandur: Wulf, did you ever have a hope of stopping this?
- Wulf: I haven’t given up yet. The Arch-Priest may be able to convince the king to stay away from Arnima. That might buy us some time.
- Lydia: And if we stop the Daedra?
- Wulf: Real evil, born of mortal greed and lust, will need to be dealt with after the Daedra.
- Rigmor: I cannot believe how bad things are here. I don’t think Mede ever realised.
- Wulf: Lydia, there is a platoon of Legionnaires just outside the front gate. Get them to assemble at the bottom of the stairs to the keep.
- Lydia: Yes, they can see most of the town and respond from there.
- Wulf: Have somebody inform Commander Drugo. It is up to him what men he wishes to send in support.
- Erandur: I will go.
- Wulf: I know everybody will do their best. Civilians are our priority. Help local guards and Legion only when there are no civilians needing aid.
- Lydia: That is our plan, Wulf.
- Wulf: I know. I am just scared for all of you!
- Lydia: Hello Rigmor, I see he came to his senses.
- Rigmor: Yes, Lydia, he has his moments.
- Wulf: I must go to Evermor. But I will say hello to the others first.
- Erandur: Wulf, Lady Mara knows that we have tried.
- Wulf: Before this is over, Lady Mara will be crying! Of that, I have no doubt.
The Sentinels have positioned themselves at each major bridge. It was a good plan, and it will give them the best chance to herd civilians to safety and stop enemy forces from reaching the temple. The next group I visited was under the command of Celestine.
- Wulf: Celestine, I hope one day you can show me the beauty of High Rock.
- Celestine: I can’t believe the other kingdoms have let Evermor become what it is.
- Wulf: I think the other kingdoms have had enough of continuous war. Mede did not want to intervene as he may have started a secession war. The Empire cannot afford to lose High Rock. Nor can it afford to fight a lengthy war when all know The Dominion will restart The Great War soon.
- Rigmor: Plus, the nobles of this kingdom have lied to Mede. He didn’t know the real story.
- Wulf: As I told Lydia, civilians are our priority. Help local guards and Legion only when there are no civilians needing aid.
- Celestine: We all hope the civilians have enough faith in The Nine to head straight for the temple. If they run for the bridges, we can help them. If they assemble somewhere and do not move, they might be out of our reach.
- Rigmor: I think it will be chaos and easy to get separated. Whatever you do, you do it as a team.
- Celestine: We are so used to having Wulf make instant decisions and following with confidence. I have no hope of generating that confidence. What if I get something wrong?
- Wulf: I don’t get it right all the time. Nobody can. All you can do is your best, and I know every Sentinel will do that.
- Rigmor: We have to go, Celestine.
- Celestine: It is good to see you here, Rigmor.
- Rigmor: I could not stay safe at home knowing what my friends were risking.
- Wulf: Blessings of The Nine, Celestine.
Iona’s group was next.
- Wulf: Ready for this, Iona?
- Iona: Well, it is hard to say you are ready for utter chaos. But we will cope, whatever happens.
- Rigmor: Remember, civilians first. Legionnaires and guards second.
- Iona: As Lydia has been drilling into us. She should have sergeant stripes!
- Wulf: We are off to see if we can still stop this madness. But I think the chances are slim.
- Iona: But you will try anyway. That is who you are.
- Wulf: I have no idea what Daedra will come through the gate.
- Iona: They all bleed when you stick them with the pointy end of sword and arrow.
- Rigmor: We wish all of you the best.
- Iona: We knew you would join us, Rigmor.
- Rigmor: Serana talked some sense into Wulf.
- Wulf: No, it was not my choice to make. I could deny Rigmor via the rings, but I had no right to do so. It was your choice, Rigmor, and I am also glad you are here.
- Iona: Go, Wulf, and see if you can stop this disaster. I would rather not fight Namira’s minions while trying to save civilians. We know we can’t save the lives of all the innocents and may have to watch their slaughter. But any deaths witnessed will steel our resolve. The Deadra will not reach the temple!
- Wulf: Blessings of The Nine on you all, Iona.
I noticed Jackos watching me visit The Sentinels. We went over to talk to him.
- Jackos: These Sentinels, they are risking all, but you have not ordered them to, have you?
- Wulf: They are doing this because they believe in my task, my duty. We will protect the innocent, the everyday people of Evermor, because it is the right thing to do. No other motive is required.
- Jackos: And I see the Legion has come to the party.
- Wulf: Every Legionnaire will also risk their life for the sake of the innocent.
- Rigmor: Where are your men, Jackos?
- Jackos: They are doing as the knights say, not me. Even knowing what Mortifayne and the knights have done, they would rather risk nothing for the people.
- Wulf: Fight beside the Legion and The Sentinels. They will welcome your sword.
- Jackos: If the gate does open, can I jump through to Oblivion?
- Wulf: Yes. But when I am there, I will have only one purpose. I must reach the Sigil Stone and destroy it. You can follow me if you want, but you must turn back and exit the gate at some point.
- Rigmor: The person destroying the Sigil Stone will nearly always be returned to Nirn.
- Wulf: Anybody else in Oblivion at the time of the Sigil Stone exploding may be stuck there.
- Jackos: What did Brother Rirrard have to say?
- Wulf: It is what he didn’t tell me that matters.
- Rigmor: The Priest Circle are trying to convince everybody they discovered Namira’s plot. Instead of looking like fools, they want to be heroes.
- Wulf: They told Sigmayne about Mortifayne and Namira. They knew Sigmayne would send a force to oust Mortifayne. They have ensured the Oblivion Gate will open.
- Rigmor: They have sacrificed lives to save face and claim glory. No doubt in the hope one of them can survive Scuttling Void and reach the Sigil Stone.
- Jackos: Yes, they will promote themselves while those who fight and die here are ignored.
- Wulf: Lady Mara is relying on us to save her people. Just remember that when the chaos starts.
Finally, we visited Aranea’s group.
- Wulf: Aranea, I don’t suppose Lady Azura has told you we will all survive after Meridia trips and breaks her neck?
- Aranea: No, but perhaps Azura could visit Meridia and tell her what a naughty girl she is?
- Inigo: It is good to see you, Aranea. All priests and priestesses of Azura warm the heart of Khajiit just by their presence.
- Aranea: And it is always pleasant to speak to Azura’s children.
- Rigmor: I assume Lydia has drummed into you what our priorities are?
- Aranea: Civilians first. Hold the bridges. Don’t fuck it up.
- Rigmor: Did Lydia really say that last one?
- Aranea: Not in so concise a manner.
- Wulf: I hate to leave my friends who are risking all in such a hurry but…
- Aranea: But you think you might still be able to prevent this catastrophe.
- Wulf: Yes, a slim hope but better than none.
- Aranea: Go, Wulf, knowing we hold you in our hearts.
We moved away from Aranea, and I cast Recall to the well in Rados’ town. Rigmor and The Sentinels soon joined me.
We started our walk to Evermor’s entrance, and the contrast to Arnima was striking. Clean air and a sense of peace rather than squalor and trepidation.
We entered the city, and the contrast to Arnima was even more striking. Clean streets, clean air and no Skeevers!
The temple was easy to find.
We entered, and a pilgrim pointed out the ‘Arch-Bishop’ to me. It was bad enough when I thought he had claimed the title of Arch-Priest!
- Wulf: Arch-Bishop Berlf Acnis?
- Acnis: I am he, my child.
- Wulf: I am Envoy Valdr and have been advised to speak to you about Lord Mortifayne and Arnima.
- Acnis: Yes, I’ve heard of you already. The priest has sung nothing but praise for your name. Lest we slip into bad habits, that town is called raven Spring. ‘Arnima’ is an alien moniker, almost sinister.
- Wulf: Did you know it is an anagram for Namira?
- Acnis: Oh, um… let’s see… N…a…m…i…r and a. Oh, you are right! How amazing!
- Wulf: Ahem, ol’ Morty?
- Acnis: Oh yes, I almost lost myself with that anagram business. Mortifayne, that perennial question that hasn’t found an answer until now. Sigmayne has finally realised his madness for himself. Not that it wasn’t apparent for those subjugated to the mad lord, but their cries fell on deaf ears. Almost two decades of tyranny, with so much cruelty.
- Wulf: And what of Namira’s involvement?
- Acnis: It would be a great folly to continue dismissing it, for there comes a time when evidence transforms rumour into reality. Just the nature of her relationship with Mortifayne is a mystery. What could possibly be derived from that despairing entity?
- Wulf: And how did you discover the connection?
- Acnis: The priests have been worried about Daedric plots for some time, yet most were confined to individual victims. However, the reports we hold on Mortifayne conform to a far grander scheme. A plot targeted at Ada-mantia itself.
- Wulf: The Adamantine, beg your pardon, Direnni Tower?
- Acnis: It has many names, holding a unique value to every culture. Now that tower happens to be one of the last. Others across Tamriel have since been destroyed or made dysfunctional. Compounded with the waning Liminal Barrier that separates us from Oblivion itself, we have a recipe for disaster. It seems Martin’s sacrifice two hundred years ago did not make certain of our survival.
- Wulf: What was that about towers?
- Acnis: Pardon me, a week of thorough education would be needed to broach that subject. Such sheer complexity would surely distract us from this most urgent matter. You need to know that whatever is happening in Raven Spring can spell a doom unseen since the beginning of our times.
- Wulf: Arch-Bishop, would you please quote me the Ten Commands of The Nine Divines. I find comfort in their recitation from pious men such as yourself.
- Acnis: Oh, um… yes, well, there are books with them in. If you wait, I can read them to you.
- Wulf: Arch-Bishop means you are the leader of the bishops. Is there any other bishop in Evermor?
- Acnis: Ah…no.
- Rigmor: Well, that is a silly thing to call yourself then, isn’t it?
- Wulf: Did Rirrard tell you about the portal to a Shrine of Namira inside Mortifayne’s keep?
- Acnis: Yes. Such a risk he took discovering it!
- Rigmor: That charlatan hasn’t been inside his lord’s keep in years!
- Acnis: Then who did, young lady?
- Rigmor: Envoy Valdr did and told Rirrard many things in confidence. Confidence that has been betrayed.
- Wulf: Within hours of arriving in this kingdom, I not only found the portal but knew why Mortifayne was conspiring with Namira. You sat on your arse for decades and did nothing and now try and claim the Priest Circle were investigating him. You did nothing when the innocents were massacred at Munstor. You did nothing when your king started a war because he wanted to molest a little girl. You are no priest!
- Acnis: Any more of this disrespect, and I will call the guards!
- Wulf: Inspector Ghorbash.
- Ghorbash: Yes, Your Excellence.
- Wulf: Under whose authority do I act?
- Ghorbash: Under Imperial law, as his Envoy, you are the voice of His Imperial Highness, Emperor Titus Mede II.
- Wulf: So, if I told you to break this bastard’s fingers one by one, what would you do?
- Ghorbash: Start with the pinkie on his left hand, Your Excellency.
- Wulf: Listen to me, Berlf, oh, is it okay if I call you that since we are such good friends?
- Ghorbash: Give me your left hand, Berlf.
- Acnis: Yes, by all means, call me Berlf.
- Wulf: Berlf, when did you tell Sigmayne about Mortifayne and Namira?
- Acnis: I told him three hours ago.
- Wulf: And what has he done about it?
- Acnis: He immediately sent Sir Horustair and troops to The Bridge. From there, the party was to gather Governor Merosa and travel directly to Raven Springs to remove Mortifayne from his position.
- Wulf: Did Rirrard tell you of the warning I gave him?
- Acnis: That nonsense about Mortifayne opening an Oblivion Gate? We both agreed that was impossible.
I went to strike the bastard, but Rigmor gently held my arm.
- Rigmor: No, Wulf, that is not you. Do not let this place and these people change who you are.
- Wulf: I wouldn’t have stopped once I started.
- Rigmor: I know, and then what would have been left of my Wulf?
- Wulf: A two-legged, wingless Dovah.
- Rigmor: Tell this moron what he has done with words, not your fist.
Rigmor let go of my arm. The ‘Arch-Bishop’ stared at me and shook with fear.
- Wulf: Berlf, I was sent to Evermor by both His Imperial Highness and Lady Mara. I tried to avert the upcoming tragedy, but the corruption of the Priest Circle and nobility has made it an impossible task.
- Rigmor: Berlf, you do not know Daedric Lords. Envoy Valdr deals with them, speaks with them in Oblivion and on Nirn. He has closed an Oblivion Gate in the past. He is the Champion of The Divines, and you would be wise to listen to what he tells you!
- Wulf: Mortifayne can and will open an Oblivion Gate in the middle of Arnima. Countless Daedra will spew forth and slaughter every soul in that town, then the rest of Evermor, then all of Tamriel. The Legion is now sending men to defend the civilians of Arnima. I have left my friends there who will also protect the civilians of Arnima. I will have to enter Scuttling Void and try to close the Oblivion Gate. The longer it takes me to do that, the more people die. If I fail, there is not much chance of anybody else succeeding.
- Rigmor: The priests and nobles of Evermor may have aided Namira in the enslavement of Nirn.
- Acnis: I didn’t know it was possible! I didn’t!
- Wulf: How much time have we got?
- Acnis: They would use the Soul Stones to get to The Bridge and ride from there. They might already be at Mortifayne’s gates by now!
- Wulf: Fake or not, the priests of Evermor will be needed to comfort the citizens after this is over. Cleanse your soul, Arch-Bishop, and behave as a priest should. If I survive this, I will be judging you, and the gentle touch of this lady will not stop my punishment.
I left the trembling bishop with Ghorbash standing over him and approached the Shrine of Talos.
I silently prayed,
“This was too hard a task, and I have failed. But I will do what I can to save as many as I can. I do not want to die and leave Rigmor alone in this cesspool of a world. But I cannot watch the innocent suffer. Therefore, I will enter Namira’s domain and hope the investment you made in me is enough. I do not ask The Nine to forgive me for my failure. I ask them to remember that I tried.”
We exited the temple. Rigmor came up to me, and I was enveloped in our blessed quiet once more.
- Wulf: There is no time to say all the things I want to say. We must go now and deal with whatever we find.
- Rigmor: I know, my beloved. But I also know what you would have said to your father. Do not blame yourself.
- Wulf: I got things wrong. I trusted the nobles and priests of this wretched kingdom. I have mistaken who Whisper was. I don’t dare call dragons to assist us because if the enemy has access to Bend Will, they could enslave them! Who knows what else I have fucked up?
- Rigmor: You can tell me about Whisper when you return.
- Wulf: You speak like that is a certainty when it is far from it.
- Rigmor: Remember the darkness The Divines can’t see past? They need you and me together to move beyond that darkness. You will survive and shut down the Oblivion Gate because to fail is to condemn the mortals whose Guardian you have become. Failure would leave me alone in the darkness once more. You, my dear, sweet Dragonborn, will not allow that to happen.
- Wulf: I will try. I will try!
- Rigmor: When you try while carrying our love, nothing can stop you!
- Wulf: Come then. I can’t risk teleporting into Arnima without knowing the situation. However, I have a Mark not far outside. Let us hurry.
I prepared to Recall to the south bridge in Forlorn. I have no idea what we will find once there.