Fredas, 10th Frostfall, 4E 201
& Loredas, 11th Frostfall, 4E 201
Yesterday we arranged for Cerys to summon Rigmor at 7:30 AM. The spell worked, and my beloved gave me one more kiss before vanishing.
I gathered my team for the day: Sakiya, Shouken, Omoi and Ishen.
I teleported us to Dragon Bridge, and the rain poured down.
We entered the Penitus Oculatus headquarters, where I came to a startling conclusion. Penitus Oculatus helmets are nailed to your head and stop you from smiling!
We walked over to Commander Maro, who said, “Before we talk, please read this.”
The Commander handed me a letter sealed by the signet ring of His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Titus Mede II.
I read it to myself,
Thane Wulf Welkynd, Hero of Whiterun, Dragonborn, Champion of The Divines and many other titles,
Commander Maro has brought to my attention a suspected plot to assassinate a member of my family and me. The Commander is certain this plot exists, so I have detailed extra guards around my first cousin, Vittoria Vici, and myself. However, history has shown that good assassins bypass the best guards and precautions.
I would like you to investigate this plot and find and end the perpetrators. I ask this not because I think The Divines will aid you or the Penitus Oculatus is inept. I ask this because I think you are the most likely person to succeed in stopping the plans of the Dark Brotherhood. Since my life depends on the competency of those investigating, I naturally wanted the best available.
Commander Maro will provide the details.
Blessings of The Nine. Emperor Titus Mede II.”
I handed the letter to Sakiya, who then handed it to Omoi. When all The Dragonguard had read it, it was passed back to me.
- Wulf: Commander Maro, did you find evidence of this plot inside the Falkreath Sanctuary?
- Maro: No. We have another agent inside The Dark Brotherhood posing as an apprentice. Even Jo’rassa did not know of her. She fled with Cicero and others when the schism occurred.
- Wulf: Jo’rassa said there was something big being planned.
- Maro: You can’t get much bigger than an Emperor’s assassination.
- Sakiya: Targeting Vittoria suggests the person or persons hiring The Dark Brotherhood want the Mede dynasty to end.
- Maro: It would seem so, although His Imperial Highness has never named an Heir Apparent.
- Wulf: If the intent was to wipe out the Mede dynasty, why stop at Vittoria? Jarl Elisif would also be a target if that were their gripe. I think Vittoria’s line of business is a clue to the hirer.
- Maro: A competitor to The East Empire Company?
- Wulf: Possibly. I would guess profit is the motive of the hirer rather than politics. But as I said, that is a guess. Where do we go from here, Commander?
- Maro: Although they have no proof, the surviving members of The Dark Brotherhood suspect there was and maybe still is a snitch amongst their ranks. Therefore, our agent has had to be even more cautious than Jo’rassa. She is with them in their new headquarters, a disused Sanctuary near Dawnstar. They now have a Listener, but this contract did not come via The Night Mother. The Listener was discovered after the schism and well after the contract was accepted.
- Wulf: Where do I start?
- Maro: Our agent will use one of our Dead Drops sometime today. I suggest you return this afternoon and see if we know more.
- Wulf: Okay, hopefully, I can return here mid-afternoon if not earlier.
- Shouken: I think we will not be able to pause once we get involved in this, Wulf.
- Wulf: I agree. Once we start moving on the remnants of The Dark Brotherhood, we will have to do whatever is needed quickly and without pause.
- Omoi: Whereto now?
- Wulf: To get to the Imperial Camp, we must walk from the hut where I killed Astrid.
I teleported us to the hut.
I summoned Nafaalilargus and asked him to scout for us.
A while later, Nafaalilargus flew over and said, “There was a battle just ahead. Yesterday was when they fought. I would say one group was camping and were ambushed.”
We studied the battleground.
- Wulf: As Nafaalilargus suggested, the Morthal guards were camping overnight and ambushed.
- Shouken: Stormcloaks, enslaved giants, and Dawnstar troops attacked them.
- Wulf: This was part of the coup to hand Morthal to Ulfric.
- Sakiya: Even though taken by surprise, it seems the Morthal guards put up a good fight.
- Wulf: I have seen some brutality in this civil war, but to place people on stakes and burn them? What is the point of that?
- Omoi: I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the Dawnstar troops objected to the attack. The impaling and burning were their punishment and warning to others.
- Wulf: There is no need for Morthal troops to be out here unless enticed by false information that Jarl Idgrod Ravencrone acted upon.
- Sakiya: I think the only way we will know the whole story is to take back Morthal.
- Wulf: Agreed. Let’s continue.
We were not far away from the Imperial camp when Nafaalilargus warned, “A Bone Dragon is attacking the Imperial sentries!”
Ishen asked, “What in Talos’ name is a Bone Dragon.”
Nafaalilargus replied, “One of my brethren who has dabbled in necromancy. His name is Ausluvnah.”
I laughed and said, “Suffer Tear Fury is not a friendly name!”
Ausluvnah summoned some high-level Draugr and caused fireballs to fall from the sky.
I hit him with Dragonrend and Blinked to where he landed.
Ausluvnah seemed more resistant to Dragonrend. I think that was due to his expertise in necromancy and dealing with mortality. So he lifted into the air even as I Blinked to his location.
Nafaalilargus covered Ausluvnah in Dragonfire.
I used Dragonrend again.
As soon as Ausluvnah landed, I used Dragonrend once more.
I then ran and started slashing into him as well as using Dragonfire.
Ausluvnah was defeated, but he killed five Legionnaires and a passing Argonian trader.
The argonian traders guards looked bewildered.
I said to them, “Take the trader with you to the nearest town. Do not leave him out here.”
We entered the camp and the command tent.
- Wulf: Legate Rikke, you lost five soldiers to the dragon attack.
- Rikke: Lucky you turned up just in time.
- Wulf: I get the feeling the attack was timed to distract me.
- Sakiya: The dragon was hoping Wulf would spend too much effort defending mortals.
- Rikke: I see. That would give the dragon a chance to defeat the General.
- Omoi: The dragon had no hope against The Dragonborn, The Dragonguard and Nafaalilargus. It was foolish of it to think otherwise.
- Rikke: I will send a detail to collect the bodies.
- Wulf: We came across a battleground on the way here. Morthal guards were ambushed by Dawnstar Guards, Stormcloaks and a couple of enslaved giants. Both sides suffered many casualties.
- Rikke: That would explain why our scouts report few defenders in Dawnstar and all are Stormcloaks.
- Wulf: Jarl Skald has surrounded himself with Great War veterans. There are likely far more defenders than is apparent.
- Rikke: Hiding in the houses and other buildings?
- Sakiya: They will exit the buildings as soon as we attack.
- Wulf: I doubt we will find Jarl Skald hiding during the battle. He will fight alongside his soldiers. I am unsure about his housecarl, Jod. He was a proud Legionnaire during The Great War and is known, along with most of Dawnstar’s citizens, to oppose Skald’s support of Ulfric.
- Rikke: Brina Merilis will be the new Jarl.
- Wulf: She was a well-respected officer during The Great War.
- Rikke: Brina is very popular with the citizens of Dawnstar.
- Wulf: I don’t think we need to worry about anything else in this Hold. We shall attack Dawnstar immediately.
Rikke started barking orders, and the Legionnaires assembled for the attack.
I said to Nafaalilargus, “You are not to engage the enemy, Nafaalilargus. However, please scout ahead and make sure there are no surprises.”
As Nafaalilargus flew ahead, we marched rapidly towards Dawnstar. We had to pace ourselves to allow the Legionnaires to get there in a reasonable time and still be able to fight.
A Khajiiti caravan was parked in its usual spot. They knew not to get involved, but still, they looked on with immense interest.
I used my Thu’um and said, “PEOPLE OF DAWNSTAR, THIS IS THE DRAGONBORN. PLEASE, DO NOT ENGAGE THE TRAITORS WHO DENY THEIR EMPEROR AND THE DIVINES. WE SHALL CLEAR THE BLASPHEMING SCUM WITHOUT HURTING YOUR CITY. LONG LIVE THE EMPIRE!”
With a roar, we entered Dawnstar, and, as expected, it was a slaughter.
Jod and Skald exited their keep and were soon surrounded by Dragonguard and Legionnaires.
I used my Thu’um, “SKALD AND JOD, CEASE FIGHTING THIS SECOND OR I SWEAR ON THE DIVINES, I WILL CUT YOU DOWN!”
Skald said, “We surrender. The capital is yours. If you pledge no harm will come of my people, I turn the seat of power over to you.”
“I do not need to pledge the safety of The Pale’s citizens. It is you who have endangered them. We are here to remove that danger. Sheath your weapons. This warning is your last!”
Jod and Skald sheathed their weapons.
I used my Thu’um once more, “JARL SKALD HAS SURRENDERED. STORMCLOAKS, CEASE FIGHTING OR DIE NEEDLESSLY. THE BATTLE IS LOST!”
I ordered, “Dragonguard, take Jod’s and Skald’s weapons. Kill any Stormcloaks that show aggression!”
The sounds of battle quickly ceased. Forlorn Stormcloaks made their way to the keep.
- Skald: Go. Tell your commanders you have won. My family and my men will be gone before they arrive.
- Wulf: You do not dictate terms, Skald. I am a General of The Legion and hereby place you under arrest. You and your fellow traitors will be taken to Solitude and housed in suitable accommodation for the duration of this blasphemous insurgency.
- Jod: I warned you, Jarl Skald, that you were wrong to side with Ulfric.
- Skald: I had my reasons.
- Jod: Stupidity was your only reason! First, you claimed that the only reason dragons are attacking is because Talos is angry with us for turning our backs on him. And that as soon as we drive the Empire out of Skyrim, the dragons will vanish. Here before you stands The Dragonborn. He solved the dragon problem and is supporting The Empire. You failed to explain that discrepancy to me, my Jarl!
- Wulf: Nobody has turned their backs on Talos. That is a lie that Ulfric used to convince idiots to follow him.
- Jod: Jarl Skald also said The Stormcloaks are destined to win this fight because Talos is with them. And that when you fight under a Divine’s blessing, victory is assured. He completely ignored that you are the Champion of The Divines, and no religious leader has said Talos had sided with Ulfric.
- Wulf: Stop calling him Jarl, for he is not one but merely a traitor. We were fighting under The Nine’s blessing, not just that of Talos.
- Sakiya: We did not encounter a single city guard, Skald. Why would that be?
- Jod: Yes, Skald, what happened to our guards?
- Skald: They were killed in a cowardly ambush, no doubt.
- Wulf: Yes, most of them were. However, they, along with Stormcloaks and enslaved giants, were the cowardly ambushers. Who did they ambush, Skald?
- Skald: Empire loving Morthal slime!
- Wulf: Skald, I tire of talking to you. You are a traitor. Your actions have contributed to the death of many Talos worshippers on both sides of this war. You are slime, and if it were up to me, you would be executed for your crimes.
I used my Thu’um again, “ALL STORMCLOAKS ARE TO HAVE THEIR HANDS BOUND FOR TRANSPORT. THAT INCLUDES SKALD. THEY HAVE PROVEN UNTRUSTWORTHY AND WILL BE TREATED ACCORDINGLY. LONG LIVE EMPEROR TITUS MEDE II!”
Skald protested, “You can’t treat me like this!”
“I can and will. Send a letter of protest to His Imperial Majesty if you so desire.”
Jod laughed. Skald looked shocked as his hands were bound.
As soon as Legate Rikke arrived, I left her in charge. Then we teleported to Castle Dour and made our way to General Tullius.
- Wulf: General Tullius, The Pale is ours. We suffered no losses capturing Dawnstar. Skald and his cronies are in custody, and Legate Rikke is in charge.
- Tullius: Taking The Pale gives us another port and puts us within striking distance of Windhelm. That should make Ulfric a bit more cautious, eh?
- Sakiya: If Ulfric doesn’t see his doom by now, he never will.
- Tullius: General, did you meet with Commander Maro?
- Wulf: Yes, Emperor Titus Mede II is in danger. I will meet again with the Commander later today. In the meantime, which Hold is your next target?
- Tullius: There is not much up there, but if we can regain Winterhold, our proximity to Windhelm should keep Ulfric wary.
- Omoi: Wary? As Sakiya said, he never will if he hasn’t seen his doom yet.
- Wulf: Where is the Winterhold camp?
General Tullius pointed to a place on the map that was relatively easy to reach.
- Wulf: I think we should take Fort Fellhammer first thing. That will make our camp in Winterhold much safer.
- Tullius: Legate Casius Varon and that mysterious Guardian General captured Fort Dunstad last month.
- Wulf: I hope Casius is far out to sea right now. It would break his heart to see men who fought beside him killing each other.
- Tullius: Is that why Casius and Yngol Storm-Blade danced around each other and never had a deadly fight?
- Wulf: Both thought their side was right, but not with enough conviction to kill friends.
- Tullius: That reluctance has been a problem for us. Some soldiers seem determined to defend The Empire until they see familiar faces opposing them across the battlefield. Court Marshalling them is counterproductive. Instead, we should place them in noncombat roles instead of wasting them due to a moral decision.
- Wulf: The problem is that they weaken the force they are a part of. It would be better for all concerned if they could object to combat before they are on the front line and still contribute to the effort.
- Sakiya: We saw how some Stormcloaks treat those who have moral qualms.
- Wulf: We came upon the aftermath of a battle where Morthal guards were ambushed by Dawnstar guards, Stormcloaks and enslaved giants. Soldiers were placed on stakes and burnt.
- Tullius: And you think they were Ulfric’s soldiers who refused to fight?
- Wulf: That is our assumption.
- Tullius: Brina Merilis will be an excellent Jarl. She climbed through Legion ranks in parallel with me. If she hadn’t retired, it could well be her you speak to around this table.
- Wulf: We shall take Fort Fellhammer, then check with Commander Maro. We might not reach the Winterhold camp for a day or two, depending on his obtained information.
- Tullius: Understood.
We teleported to Fort Dunstad.
Then I summoned Nafaalilargus.
He asked, “What are we doing now, Dovahkiin?”
“We are taking Fort Fellhammer.”
“There were no Stormcloak troops last time I flew over, but the bandit numbers were large.”
“Feel free to fry them when we attack.”
“Many civilians are gathered on the road that passes the fort. I think they are being asked to pay a toll.”
“Then we shall volunteer to pay it for them.”
We were not far from Fort Dunstad when someone with a greatsword ran toward me. I signalled The Dragonguard to let him be. I wanted to see what he planned to do. I drew my sword as a precaution.
The person was of Imperial stock and looked non too pleased to see me.
He growled, “E had plans. You killed my men, took my fort and ruined those plans.”
“I have no idea who ‘E’ is, so I don’t give a toss about his plans. As for the slime that killed that family in Fort Dunstad, I had hoped we had slaughtered them all.”
The idiot swung his heavy and slow elven greatsword, which I knocked aside.
Then I cut across him twice, and he dropped dead.
I searched him and found the following note, which I read to The Dragonguard.
“We have found some Stormcloaks around the fort, but we won’t go away. There is a plan, you know.
We are waiting for you and your men.
- Sakiya: When did you take Fort Dunstad.
- Wulf: The 2nd of Hearthfire.
- Sakiya: This person has waited for you to show up since then?
- Wulf: I don’t know. But obviously, he was upset with Casius and me chopping up his men.
- Sakiya: Lydia told us about how upset Rigmor was with the murdered family and how you blamed Ulfric.
- Wulf: Lydia wasn’t with us that day, but she and Rigmor talked a lot.
- Sakiya: Rigmor seemed to bond with Lydia more than the rest of us guarding her at Angi’s and the farm.
- Wulf: That is due to Rigmor’s empathy. Once she learnt of Lydia losing Bjorn, she wanted to comfort her.
- Omoi: Why did you blame Ulfric?
- Wulf: The garrison abandoned Fort Dunstad when the locals started believing Ulfric’s lies and became hostile. The murdered family did not abandon their inn. Instead, they waited for The Empire’s soldiers to return or Stormcloaks to take up residence.
- Omoi: Oh, and bandits took over instead of either army!
- Wulf: I had no answer for Rigmor when she asked why the bandits murdered the family. It was a mother, father and girl about Olette’s age. I thought in a way that the bandits had been kinder than some. There was no evidence of rape.
- Shouken: I wonder what plans this E person has?
- Wulf: There is no use speculating. If E becomes a problem, we will deal with it.
We continued towards Fort Fellhammer and came upon a group of merchants and pilgrims who couldn’t proceed due to a toll being extorted by the fort’s occupants.
As we passed the bandits’ messenger, I quickly cut him down.
We entered the fort, and a bandit demanded, “What are you doing here? All tolls are to be paid to Geljof. Now leave before we fill you full of arrows!”
I replied, “Sorry, Geljof had an accident. My sword entered his back and came out of his chest. Very nasty it was!”
“Who are you?”
For a reply, I used a full-strength Unrelenting Force Shout.
The loudmouth bandit dropped dead. One of the other bandits flew high.
As Nafaalilargus flew over, he said, “I don’t think that one will enjoy his landing!”
In seconds we slaughtered the two dozen bandits outside the fort.
One of the pilgrims we saw earlier had followed us to into fort and joined the melee.
I asked her, “Where did you get the Komodo and straw hat?”
“From Akavir. By the way, I am Kud-Ei.”
“My apologies Kud-Ei. I am…”
“Wulf and these are The Dragonguard. I make it a habit to know the politics of the country I am visiting.”
“Are you on a religious pilgrimage?”
“No. I write travel guides, although I don’t think many will purchase the one on Akavir.”
“I have seen several people, Khajiiti mainly, wearing similar Komodo.”
“Yes, they are my colleagues. We travel independently for a while and then meet again to compare and compile notes.”
“It has been a pleasure to meet you, Kud-Ei. Now, if you don’t mind, we have to clear the vermin inside the fort.”
We entered the fort’s rich iron mine and quickly eliminated the few bandits hiding inside.
The rest of the fort was empty except for the officer’s headquarters.
Heat-Vision showed a lone figure, who I assumed to be the bandit leader, sitting at a desk.
I put my sword away and retrieved my musket from my journal case. It was not a foreign weapon to The Dragonguard as they had seen it used to devastating effect in Akavir by Tsaesci forces.
I aimed at the bandit leader and fired.
We entered the room to examine the damage.
- Ishen: It is hard to tell, but I think he was once an Orsimer.
- Omoi: When did you add the explosion? It is a bit brutal!
- Wulf: A while ago. I am slowly perfecting the design. I can load a lot faster than the original Akaviri version.
- Omoi: They never were a match for opposing longbows because of their reload time. Even crossbows are faster to reload.
- Wulf: The projectile’s speed is much faster than any bow or crossbow. That makes it a superior weapon for long-distance kills.
- Ishen: As long as your first shot does enough damage.
- Wulf: Precisely, hence the addition of the explosion, which also annoys those standing close to the target.
- Ishen: The manufacture and storage of Black Powder is also a problem.
- Wulf: I am sure if such weapons became common, reasonably safe solutions would be found.
- Omoi: Do you want such deadly weapons to become common?
- Wulf: No, but if I can gain expertise in them before encountering an enemy equipped with them, I have more chance of surviving.
- Omoi: I don’t suppose your test subjects ever complain.
- Wulf: They die quickly.
- Ishen: Yes, it is much better than an arrow to the belly.
- Omoi: I have heard that an arrow to the knee is the scariest thing a Nord fears.
- Wulf: What about an inn or tavern running out of mead?
- Omoi: Okay, it is the second scariest thing a Nord fears.
We stepped outside and then teleported inside the Penitus Oculatus headquarters.
- Maro: I wish you wouldn’t do that. My nerves are on edge as it is!
- Wulf: Would you prefer people to see us entering and leaving these headquarters?
- Maro: Point taken.
- Wulf: Is there any progress?
- Maro: Our agent had made a run for it. She most believe they suspect her and that her life is in great danger. You need to do two things. The first is to eliminate the agent they sent to meet with the client who wants His Imperial Majesty killed. He is inside Embershard Mine, waiting for further instructions. Our agent said in her last Dead Drop that he will have entered the mine with no information on the meeting location or name of the client. If he is not in Embershard Mine, he has received the information and is headed for the meeting with the client.
- Sakiya: The assassins are rather paranoid now, aren’t they?
- Wulf: I have always wanted an excuse to wipe out that nest of scum in Embershard Mine. They make the roads from Whiterun and Helgen to Riverwood hazardous.
- Maro: After eliminating that assassin, you need to rescue our agent. She will be at our pre-designated haven, The Moorside Inn if she is still alive.
- Wulf: That will be a solo mission since Morthal is now Stormcloak controlled. What is your agent’s name?
- Maro: Alesla Ingmikdottir is her real name. She is known as Gislena Crow by The Dark Brotherhood. She must be kept alive as she may have vital information.
- Wulf: She must be kept alive as an Imperial soldier stranded in enemy territory.
- Maro: Yes, I did not mean to devalue her life.
- Wulf: How safe is Alesla in The Moorside Inn?
- Maro: Jonna, the innkeeper, is a Redguard loyal to The Empire. She knows The Empire is the only thing keeping The Dominion from Tamriel. Plus, we pay her a reasonable fee for local gossip, probably more than her inn earns. Too bad she didn’t get news of the Morthal coup before it happened!
- Wulf: Is there a sign and countersign?
- Maro: Yes, there is. Ask a question about mead, as in the drink. She will reply that the best mead is in Cyrodiil. You answer, ‘Yes, at The Foaming Flask.’
- Wulf: Once we eliminate the assassin in Embershard Mine, they might suspect we are onto them and maybe go quiet. Let’s hope Alesla has information that allows us to continue our investigation.
- Ishen: I assume we have the passphrase for their Dawnstar Sanctuary. Why don’t we attack that?
- Wulf: After I wiped out their Falkreath Sanctuary, I doubt they are keeping all their eggs in one basket.
- Maro: Their two senior members are rarely in the Dawnstar Sanctuary. We must eliminate them to stop the threat to our Emperor and his cousin.
- Ishen: I get it. We don’t want them to run and hide somewhere unknown to other assassins. Like we Blades didn’t know where to find other Blades. Before attacking the sanctuary, we need to know where the two senior assassins are.
- Wulf: Cicero has survived the destruction of several Sanctuaries. However, he now has the burden of being The Keeper. He can’t lug The Night Mother all over Skyrim and expect not to be found. Unlike Babette, his choice of hiding spots probably doesn’t include undead-infested tombs. I think he will be the easiest to find and eliminate.
- Maro: Do you think Babette could reassemble The Dark Brotherhood if necessary?
- Wulf: Without a Listener, Keeper and The Night Mother? No, she couldn’t.
- Sakiya: Therefore, if we find where both Cicero and Babette are, we take down The Keeper first.
- Wulf: It makes no difference if we can eliminate both within hours. There is too much speculation and not enough information at the moment to make such a choice.
- Maro: How goes the war?
- Wulf: We captured Dawnstar this morning. The opposition has been weak. Ulfric placed all his hopes on the taking of Whiterun, and the coups will only delay his demise by a day or two.
- Maro: I hope we have The Dark Brotherhood in its death throws soon.
We teleported to Riverwood’s entrance, and I summoned Nafaalilargus, who scouted ahead as we approached Embershard Mine.
I eliminated several bandit sentries with Unrelenting Force.
Nafaalilargus roasted another couple.
We entered the mine and didn’t bother with stealth.
The Khajiiti assassin was earning his keep while with the bandits. He seemed oblivious to The Voice echoing throughout the mine.
I killed the assassin, and he had nothing of use on him.
We eliminated the rest of the bandits and exited the mine.
Sakiya teleported The Dragonguard to the Safe House. I cast Shroudwalk and teleported to Morthal’s entrance.
I went to Moorside Inn and followed Falion, the local mage, inside. That prevented a suspicious opening and closing of the entrance door.
It didn’t take long to find Alesla.
Still invisible, I whispered, “Is the mead served here any good?”
Alesla turned and, to her credit, did not panic at the disembodied voice. She replied, “Yes, but the best mead is in Cyrodiil.”
“Yes, at The Foaming Flask.”
“Thank goodness. Do you have anything handy to make me invisible on our trip to Dragon Bridge?”
“I have something even better. I am about to take your hand and place it on my shoulder. Leave it there, and don’t ask why. The quicker we leave, the better.”
“Ahh, okay. That doesn’t sound weird or anything.”
I placed Alesla’s hand on my shoulder and said, “Hold your breath!”
“Weird. Just weird.”
As soon as Alesla held her breath, I teleported us inside the Penitus Oculatus headquarters.
A lone Dark Brotherhood assassin suddenly appeared, and Commander Maro drew his sword. A Penitus Oculatus agent drew his sword and approached Alesla. She was too shocked to say anything.
I used my Thu’um and said, “HOLD IT! MY FAULT AS I FORGOT I WAS INVISIBLE!”
I made myself visible and told Commander Maro, “It is Alesla!”
Commander Maro ordered his man to stand down, and we approached the frightened young woman.
- Wulf: Sorry about that, Alesla.
- Alesla: What the hell just happened, and who are you?
- Wulf: I am Wulf, The Dragonborn. We teleported, and the dark and cold was the ethereal plane.
- Alesla: Well, that is a tale to tell my grandchildren. That is if I ever stop being undercover long enough to have a real-life, nab a husband, and so on.
- Wulf: We have eliminated the assassin in Embershard Mine, so we need to move quickly.
- Maro: It is good to have you back, Alesla, but a friendlier chat must wait. Do you know where Cicero and Babette are?
- Alesla: Cicero is with some bandits at Snowpoint Beacon. Babette is amongst the undead, vampires and necromancers at Shriekwind Bastion. And before you ask, Commander Maro, I have no idea who the client is or where he is to meet with an assassin.
- Wulf: Did Astrid arrange this contract?
- Alesla: Yes. There was a rumour that she wanted to recruit you to be the assassin.
- Wulf: She did and why she thought I would agree to that is a mystery.
- Alesla: I know she was trying to prove herself after the arrival of Cicero. He was undermining her authority. She looked at this contract as a way to prove who should lead The Dark Brotherhood.
- Maro: A desperate gamble on Astrid’s part.
- Wulf: I will gather a team of Dragonguard and head for Snowpoint Beacon. I had better ask Jo’rassa to be part of the squad.
- Maro: Alesla, you knew Jo’rassa as Zava. She was another agent.
- Alesla: I had no idea! Well, I suppose that was the idea. We got along quite well. I am glad she is alive.
- Maro: Jo’rassa was a free agent and has now joined The Dragonguard.
- Alesla: I can see the appeal of never doing undercover work again. It is not good for the nerves!
- Wulf: How was your cover blown?
- Alesla: I don’t know if it was. I know they started asking each apprentice many questions at odd times to trip us up. For example, they would suddenly ask questions in the middle of sparring or wake you in the middle of the night to ask them.
- Maro: The information about Cicero and Babette was too crucial to trust to a dead drop.
- Alesla: I agree, and that was the final deciding factor on my decision to run.
- Maro: Alesla did not let us know she was compromised via a dead drop. She marked a particular tree near the sanctuary entrance.
- Wulf: What is the passphrase for Dawnstar Sanctuary?
- Alesla: The door will ask, ‘What is life’s greatest illusion?’ The passphrase is, ‘Innocence, my brother.’
- Wulf: Well, I am glad to have brought you home safely, Alesla, and I will return with good news in a few hours. Snowpoint Beacon should be easy, while Shriekwind Bastion will be more formidable. I will hunt Babette first.
I teleported to the Safe House and gathered my team of Celestine, Inigo, Kharjo, Jo’rassa and Daenlyn, and then I quickly explained our mission.
- Wulf: We are hunting two senior members of The Dark Brotherhood. Cicero, The Keeper, and Babette, a vampire child. Cicero is hiding in Snowpoint Beacon. Babette is hiding in Shriekwind Bastion.
- Inigo: We should all be snoring and dreaming, my friend. Revisiting Snowpoint Beacon is not appealing.
- Jo’rassa: Speak for yourself! Ending The Dark Brotherhood is worth losing some beauty sleep, even though you could do with lots of that.
- Kharjo: Khajiit thinks you two are like rabbits when given a chance. Your insults are like an old married couple.
- Daenlyn: Like rabbits?
- Celestine: Why do you think there are so many baby rabbits, Daenlyn?
- Daenlyn: Oh, I see. Well, that is understandable in a new relationship.
- Jo’rassa: A rekindled relationship. Inigo used me and abandoned me, didn’t you, my dear?
- Inigo: We have discussed that at length, and I thought we came to an understanding.
- Jo’rassa: We did, my dear Inigo. But I like to see you squirm. It is highly entertaining!
- Wulf: If you bunnies have finished, I would like to get going. We will be dispensing with Babette first.
- Celestine: How are we getting to Shriekwind Bastion?
- Wulf: I will teleport us to the entrance of Falkreath Sanctuary, which is now a Penitus Oculatus outpost. We shall walk to Shriekwind Bastion from there.
- Inigo: That place has an odd name!
- Daenlyn: The first vampire was a Nedic maiden named Lamae Beolfag. She became Lamae Bal after Molag Bal raped her to make her a Daughter of Coldharbour. The virginal Lamae screamed in terror and pain. Folklore claims her screams still haunt parts of Tamriel. One such place is Shriekwind Bastion.
- Inigo: Wow, Wulf always takes us to the most excellent places!
- Wulf: No stealth when we get inside. Heat-Vision is useless when hunting vampires, anyway.
- Celestine: It is always amusing when vampires realise their Blood-Magic does not affect you.
- Wulf: They have the same stunned expression as mages when I laugh off their best spell.
I teleported us to the entrance of Falkreath Sanctuary and used Night-Vision.
The sentry on duty did not see us materialise but heard us.
I said, “Don’t be alarmed. It is The Dragonborn and Dragonguard.
He replied, “Thank Kynareth for that! I was about to shriek and probably soil myself.”
“How are you enjoying your new premises.”
“It is better since we removed the corpses, shrines, torture equipment and victim trophies.”
I summoned Nafaalilargus, who commenced scouting duties again.
As we closed in on Shriekwind Bastion, Nafaalilargus said, “There are plenty of enemy sentries. This fight will be fun!”
What followed was a long-distance battle of spell, arrow and Thu’um.
We reached the entrance and entered.
We encountered and eliminated dozens of vampires, their thralls, Necromancers, Skeletal Warriors and Skeletal Mages.
We entered a corridor, and Babette stood, unafraid. I signalled The Dragonguard, and we sheathed our weapons.
I stepped closer to Babette and studied her soul. There was no sign of the little girl she once was.
Babette smiled and said, “I’m just a little girl! The Dark Brotherhood killed my mama and papa, taking me captive! Please, please help me! Rather convincing, don’t you think? But you know I’m no longer a little girl. I was once, of course. Three hundred years ago. Vampirism tends to keep one remarkably… fresh.”
“You are not going to fight for your life?”
“Unlike Astrid, I did some research on you. My best survival chance is not to fight back and offer myself as a prisoner.”
“I have no compulsion to kill somebody simply for what they are. But I am Ningheim. Do you know what that means?”
“You can read the soul of others amongst other things. So, what is your judgement?”
“I am surprised you know that.”
“I managed to fit in a lot of reading between contracts.”
“I judge that your soul is as dark as any I have encountered, and there is no hope of redemption. Do you still believe in Sithis?”
“For more than two hundred years, I would have lain down my life for the Unholy Matron. But then Astrid became my matron. Cicero and the new Listener have shown me my errors, so I am Sithis’ and the Unholy Matron’s once more.”
“But Sithis cannot claim your soul. Sithis can’t claim anybody’s soul. It is a strange religion where no afterlife with your deity is on offer.”
“Molag Bal owns my soul, and I hope he looks upon me with favour. But death is our reward, Dragonborn, even if mine is slightly delayed.”
“The Void is a boring place, Babette. Coldharbour is not bad as Molag Bal has replicated much of what he once enjoyed on Nirn. He has even dragged entire towns and villages there.”
“I will soon find out, and to tell the truth, I am weary of this forced disguise. I was ten when the vampire took me. Old enough to start dreaming of marriage and children, and those normal things denied me. I also had years of childhood play and innocence stolen. Perhaps if I were a bit older, I might have chosen to be a kinder vampire who learns to live amongst mortals. But I was a ten-year-old with a child’s temper that was denied what she wanted and forced to do something she hated. Once I started down the dark path, it became my substitute for my lost childhood dreams and innocence. I convinced myself I enjoyed it and no longer yearned for what was stolen. Too late, I realised I had deceived myself. I took pride in removing many males who also stole children’s dreams to sate their lust. I was trying to convince myself that some murders were justifiable. I never understood why so many mortals said sorry in their final moments. At least that is another mystery solved. Now I know that everybody has regrets when their time on the mortal plane is ending, so in that sense, I am like the mortals I fed upon.”
“I take no pleasure in ending lives, Babette. But I must protect the innocent from those who would harm them.”
“I understand, Dragonborn. I know you cannot let me exist, for I am beyond redemption.”
I drew my sword and looked into Babette’s eyes. I never knew vampires could cry till that moment.
I plunged my sword into her chest, and her soul fled her body.
I turned Babette’s corpse over. What lay there was the little girl of three hundred years ago. I felt compelled to perform Arkay’s Rights but didn’t. Her soul was either in The Void or Coldharbour and was beyond Lord Arkay’s protection. That was one of the aims of Molag Bal. He wanted to torment Lord Arkay.
I did not want to discuss what happened and signalled The Dragonguard to follow.
We encountered more enemies as we sought the exit I knew existed. There were three entrances into Shriekwind Bastion.
We came to a corridor lined with charred bodies.
At the far end was a lowered portcullis. Beyond the portcullis was a Skeletal Mage and stairs.
- Wulf: Guess what happens when I turn this twist handle.
- Inigo: We get sprayed with cold water!
- Daenlyn: Beautiful music plays, and butterflies fill the air.
- Jo’rassa: A miracle happens, and you all learn how to be funny!
- Wulf: Jo’rassa, it would be hilarious if I had forgotten to put flame protection on your armour!
I pulled the twist handle, and to our utter surprise, flames filled the corridor, and the portcullis lifted!
A Nightlord Vampire also waited for us. He stood no more chance against me than his lesser kin.
The undead continued to attack and be destroyed.
We came to a room full of coffins. There was nothing of much value inside a large chest.
Inigo whined, “This, my friend, is a very boring place.”
“I can hear a Word Wall. Won’t that be exciting?”
“Ahh…no, that will not be exciting.”
“Just think of the thrilling things to come, Inigo.”
“Wow, let us hurry. My desire to sleep has suddenly left me!”
A powerful Draugr crawled out of a coffin in front of the Word Wall.
Inigo and I cut it down.
The Word Wall tried to teach me ‘grah’, which means ‘battle’. It is the second Word of the Elemental Fury Shout. I already knew the Word and Shout.
- Wulf: Anybody who says Dovahzul sounds like I am choking will be turned into an ice block!
- Daenlyn: You know I like to learn, so please, ignore any stupid comments.
- Wulf: The inscription says, ‘Qethsegol vahrukiv kril Thjodrek wo dir zohungaar ko grah do vith okaaz.’
- Jo’rassa: It sounds not like choking but more like the gurgles somebody makes as you garrot them.
- Inigo: My beloved, is that not the same sound as choking?
- Jo’rassa: No, choking involves coughing. Garrotting produces the same sound as a slow hanging. Not that crack sound from the neck-breaking on a long drop.
- Inigo: Oh, the wheezing and gurgling. Yes, I can see, I mean hear, the resemblance.
- Celestine: Have you heard Wulf speak in Ayleidoon? That sounds like he has a big ball of phlegm he is trying to cough up.
- Kharjo: Like a furball?
- Celestine: Yes, very similar.
- Wulf: Are we finished?
- Celestine: No, because you haven’t given us a translation.
- Wulf: Roughly translated, it says, ‘This stone commemorates the brave Thjodrek who died heroically in The Battle of the Serpent Sea.’
- Daenlyn: I don’t know of that battle or sea.
- Wulf: I guess it refers to waters near Pyandonea, the land of the Maormer. That is the only place I know of that has sea serpents.
- Daenlyn: More history lost.
- Wulf: The ancient Nords were not known for extensive book writing. I find much of the history on the Word Walls is lost.
- Inigo: Who were the Maormer.
- Wulf: They still exist, as far as I know. They have white skin and eyes and have not proven friendly or trustworthy over the eras. They are commonly called Sea Elves.
We made our way outside, and I laughed.
- Inigo: Okay, my friend, let us in on the joke. Or is Rigmor speaking to you.
- Wulf: No, she has been in court and has visiting V.I.P, so we haven’t had a chance to chat.
- Inigo: V.I.P?
- Jo’rassa: Very Important Person or Persons.
- Inigo: Okay then, what is amusing?
- Wulf: At the bottom of this mountain, directly below, can you see the torches?
- Inigo: Yes…and…?
- Wulf: They are carried by Vigilants of Stendarr looking for naughty Daedric worshippers.
- Celestine: Tell them to look closer; they might find a nest of necromancers and vampires.
- Wulf: They wouldn’t want to know that because they might have to take action and risk their lives.
- Kharjo: Those ones prefer to harass innocent civilians as there is less danger.
- Inigo: They think it is wrong to worship Daedra, yet half of Khajiiti gods are Daedra!
- Jo’rassa: And I don’t see them arresting any Dunmer who worship three Daedric Princes!
- Wulf: They are doing Stendarr’s bidding but only against defenceless Nords and never other species or where danger is involved.
- Celestine: That is an excellent summary, Wulf.
We teleported into the Penitus Oculatus headquarters. Commander Maro was asleep.
We talked to Alesla instead.
- Wulf: Babette is no more.
- Inigo: It took a lot of effort to reach her.
- Jo’rassa: I am glad to see you survived, Gislena. Ahh…Alesla.
- Alesla: And you are Jo’rassa! You look fine in that armour!
- Jo’rassa: You look claustrophobic in that tin can.
- Alesla: It will take some time to readjust to being a Penitus Oculatus agent.
- Jo’rassa: We will now take care of Cicero. Let us hope he has some information about the client.
- Alesla: Unless you also want to eliminate The Morag Tong, he had better.
- Wulf: Another organisation will replace The Dark Brotherhood. The clientele is significant, and so are the profits. They may even call themselves The Dark Brotherhood, but it will take some time to get established.
- Celestine: The Empire would not accept many Grey-Writs before they told Morrowind to control the Morag Tong or face diplomatic and trade consequences.
- Wulf: That is a problem for another day. I can see Inigo is keen to go into the snow and cold and visit Cicero.
- Inigo: Are there any giant spiders there? No, there are not! Therefore, you are sadly mistaken, my friend.
- Wulf: We shall teleport to our newly acquired Fort Fellhammer and walk from there.
We teleported into Fort Fellhammer’s courtyard.
It was not a long walk to Snowpoint Beacon. There seemed to be very few bandits in residence.
I slit the throat of one sentry.
Another exited the tower and was brought down by arrows from Inigo.
Cicero came running out with a wicked-looking dagger in his hand.
I covered Cicero in Dragonfire.
I was very surprised when the singed assassin kept coming at me, minus his dagger!
An arrow from Jo’rassa finished him. She yelled, “Got you, you slimy little pervert! Not all apprentices have to make love with The Keeper inside Mother’s casket!”
I heard fighting on the roof.
I said, “Search the bodies. Let me deal with upstairs!”
I ran to the roof and saw a young Shieldmaiden battling an Orsimer. She was losing.
I took care of the Orsimer, and the Shieldmaiden collapsed. She looked like she had been pummelled.
I cast Grand Healing and then helped her stand.
“Are you okay?”
“Well, that was embarrassing, Brought to the ground by a couple of weak little bandits.”
“I can only see one.”
“Another ran downstairs saying he had to protect their profit.”
“Well, he is dead.”
“I even had a plan too. When I saw you sneaking towards this tower, I charged upstairs and hoped to catch the bandits off guard. That would take all the thinking out of it. Only, I tripped on the stairs! That fits the story of my life.”
“That does sound rather embarrassing. And, to be frank, pathetic. Then what happened?”
“I nearly fell over the edge before one of the bandits, of all people, pulled me back. Then they started using my face as a target dummy.”
“They wanted some sport. I will leave you to imagine what that sport was.”
“The sad thing is, if we fought in an empty room, I could slay a dozen of these jesters, as clean and easy as the snow in Frostfall.”
“Speaking of Jesters, our quarry was the jester downstairs.”
“The weird little guy with the maniacal laugh?”
“That was him.”
“Out here, I sometimes feel like I’m fighting underwater. Nothing seems to go right.”
“I asked, but you didn’t answer. Are you okay?”
“I’ll be fine. If there’s one thing I can handle, it is a beating. My sister, Beitild, always said I was tougher than a mammoth and half as smart. She was a real Slaughterfish, my sister. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen her or my brother-in-law. Maybe it’s time to stop adventuring and come back home.”
“Well, I wish you luck. Try hard not to get killed on the way.”
“Hey, it may be hard to believe given what just happened, but I’m a warrior. A talented one. Someday I’ll prove it to you.”
“You don’t have to prove anything, and I apologise for my rudeness and flippancy. Not all plans work as hoped, and your intentions were good. Therefore, I thank you for trying to help.”
“My name is Tikrid, and I am pleased to meet you.”
“And I am Wulf, The Dragonborn.”
“Yes, Tikrid, that is who I am. And now that I know you are okay, I must attend to other matters.”
“Well, I am heading to my sister’s in Dawnstar.”
“It should be a safe journey. You will need to rest for a few days before tripping up any more stairs.”
“Wait till Beitild hears I met The Dragonborn! Of course, I will have to leave out a few details.”
I made my way downstairs with Tikrid. She was so busy staring at The Dragonguard that she overlooked Cicero and tripped over his corpse. She quickly regained her feet and stared ahead as she rapidly walked away.
I shook my head and said, “Don’t ask. It is a long story.”
Celestine handed me five thick books. She said, “These are the only things we could find. The books are the personal journals of Cicero and cover many years. Even with my speed reading, it would take some time. So here you are, see if you find anything useful.”
“You tried reading them from the start, didn’t you?”
“Oh…and the relevant information is probably right at the end!”
I will not replicate Cicero’s journals here. They will be entered into The College of Winterhold’s library. Copies will be made for inclusion in Dragonborn Gallery and The Imperial Library.
I quickly read the last entries of the fifth journal. Cicero’s writing reflected his mental state, but I managed to find the information I needed.
- Wulf: The Client is Amaund Motierre. He is a member of The Elder Council.
- Celestine: Woah! That information will cause a stir!
- Wulf: He had a meeting with Astrid where he paid a relatively large down payment to prove he was serious. The money offered for the contract is way more than even a wealthy noble could afford.
- Inigo: You think he has backers?
- Wulf: Probably, but I don’t think we should speculate on the motive or who else may be involved. I am sure His Imperial Majesty will have a fair idea.
- Celestine: Why kill his cousin?
- Wulf: Vittoria Vici was to be assassinated in public and on her wedding day. Cicero thought it would force His Imperial Majesty to visit if he wasn’t attending the wedding. The whole plan relies on Mede visiting Skyrim.
- Celestine: So, if Mede visits for the wedding, that is when he will be targeted. If not at the wedding, he will be targeted if he visits after Vittoria’s death.
- Wulf: Yes, but Vittoria was to be killed either way. Cicero thought that her death might have been the bait to lure Mede but also a business decision. Once again, that is pure speculation.
- Inigo: So how did the contract get passed from Astrid to the remnants of The Dark Brotherhood?
- Wulf: Their new Listener was told by The Night Mother to contact Motierre and how to do so. Motierre was more than pleased to proceed with the assassinations. After all, he had already paid a large deposit.
- Jo’rassa: I bet Motierre was shitting bricks when he heard about The Dark Brotherhood’s destruction in Skyrim.
- Wulf: How come other people use my colloquialisms, and nobody picks on them?
- Kharjo: Maybe they only sound silly when that one uses them?
- Wulf: Thanks, Kharjo.
- Kharjo: Khajiit is happy to help the confused Dragonborn.
- Wulf: The assassin I killed in Embershard Mine was a decoy. Motierre is camping out in a Nord tomb called Volunruud. Cicero was to meet with Motierre today or tomorrow to finalise the plans and payment.
- Celestine: What do you know of Volunruud?
- Wulf: It is the burial tomb of Kvenel the Tongue. That information is not well known, so I don’t know if grave robbers have looted the place. He was an ancient Nord hero proficient in The Voice.
- Inigo: The place will be crawling with zombies!
- Wulf: Don’t worry, Inigo. You and the others are exhausted, so I will drop you off at the Safe House and pick another squad.
- Celestine: Are you going to attack the Dawnstar Sanctuary first or visit Volunruud?
- Wulf: The sanctuary first. It is more important that we eliminate all Dark Brotherhood members than kill Motierre. He is a dead man if we get to him or not. Alesla provided the passphrase to the Dawnstar Sanctuary. The door will ask, ‘What is life’s greatest illusion?’
- Inigo: I once saw a magician saw a lady in half and then join her back together!
- Wulf: The answer is not a magical illusion
- Kharjo: A happy marriage is an illusion! Khajiit knows this thing.
- Daenlyn: You have been married, Kharjo?
- Kharjo: This one didn’t start drinking and gambling because his life was full of love. No, Khajiit was driven to them by nagging and complaining. This one was very sad when a pack of hyenas ate her.
- Daenlyn: So, you did love her!
- Kharjo: No, Khajiit felt sorry for the hyenas. They must have got terribly sick from her sourness!
- Wulf: Before we discover that Kharjo somehow organised the meeting between wife and predators, the passphrase is, ‘Innocence, my brother.’
- Celestine: Wow, a pessimistic lot, aren’t they!
- Jo’rassa: We should inform Commander Maro of our progress.
- Wulf: Yes, let’s do that before taking you home.
We teleported into the Penitus Oculatus headquarters, and this time Commander Maro didn’t flinch.
- Wulf: It seems you have become used to us popping out of the ether, Commander Maro.
- Maro: No, I have been taking the occasional shot of hard liquor. I find it helps when dealing with you and The Dragonguard.
- Wulf: Against regulations but understandable.
- Maro: My nerves agree with you.
- Wulf: Do you know who Amaund Motierre is?
- Maro: One of the most unpalatable members of The Elder Council. Please, don’t tell me that he is the client! His family has been Cyrodiilic nobility for several millennia.
- Wulf: Jo’rassa, you tell him.
- Jo’rassa: As requested, I will inform you instead of Wulf. The person who has contracted The Dark Brotherhood to assassinate Emperor Titus Mede II and Vittoria Vici is Amaund Motierre.
- Maro: Fuck! Mede is going to be royally pissed off!
- Wulf: We will let His Imperial Majesty worry about the political ramifications and how to deal with it. I am now going to kill everybody in the Dawnstar Sanctuary. Then I will give Motierre a visit, and hopefully, he surrenders. If he doesn’t, it will save money on a trial and headman’s fees.
- Maro: The Emperor was correct to involve you in this, Dragonborn. The Penitus Oculatus could not have acted swiftly enough to prevent Dark Brotherhood members from scattering.
- Wulf: I quite like His Imperial Majesty, but I also have more personal reasons for wanting him to remain in power. While he is alive, somebody special to me is much safer than if he was dead.
We teleported to the Safe House, and I dismissed the squad. As seems to be his habit, Inigo confronted me on today’s events.
“My friend, you killed Babette in cold blood. She did not present a danger to us.”
“She did not fight because she knew it was futile. However, she wanted somebody to hear her final words, which I did.”
“Suicide by Dragonborn?”
“Maybe. Babette hadn’t finished killing for her god, Inigo. She would have continued to seek deaths for The Dark Mother and Sithis. Taking her into custody would have endangered guards, court officials and anybody else who came in contact with her. She knew I would make that choice and was not afraid of death.”
“I thought she would have big fangs and red glowing eyes and look like a vampire. Babette looked like a normal little girl.”
“Some vampires don’t show their dark form until they are ready to feed. I don’t think she looked so innocent to her victims. Anyway, I never saw a little girl after looking at her soul. She was beyond redemption, and she knew that as well. I saw the apex predator that she had become.”
“Why didn’t she turn into a pile of vampire ash like all the others?”
“I have no idea.”
“Okay, I can see you are comfortable with your actions. Inigo’s vast collection of platitudes is not needed, and I wish you well on your hunt.”
“I will always appreciate your concern, Inigo. Thank you.”
Jo’rassa called me over.
“Wulf, I would like to clarify one thing. I did not let Cicero screw me inside the casket, or anywhere else for that matter!”
“I didn’t think you did.”
“Well then, we both agree I didn’t knock boots with that insane weirdo!”
“Do you think Inigo suspects you did?”
“No, and Khajiiti are far more accepting of such behaviour.”
“Inigo was not exactly raised as a Khajiit.”
“Oh, perhaps I should go and reassure him!”
“Yes, perhaps you should.”
I laughed as Jo’rassa hurried after Inigo.
I gathered my squad for the following tasks. It was Bashita, Kogo, Taku and Jin. I rarely have two mages in my squad, but Jin had not been in the field often.
- Wulf: We have two tasks. The first is to eliminate The Dark Brotherhood inside their Dawnstar Sanctuary.
- Taku: That task sound’s easy enough.
- Wulf: According to Cicero’s journals, there are some spirit guards, but I doubt they will be much of a problem.
- Bashita: And the second task?
- Wulf: We will visit an ancient Nord tomb called Volunruud. We are looking for a member of The Elder Council. He contracted The Dark Brotherhood to assassinate Vittoria Vici and Emperor Titus Mede II.
- Bashita: Is the tomb empty?
- Wulf: I don’t know. If it remains unmolested by tomb raiders, we might have to rectify that and get some exhibits for the museum.
- Jin: Whose tomb?
- Wulf: An ancient Tongue.
- Jin: Therefore, if the place is unmolested, we shall face Draugr, who use The Voice.
- Wulf: It is fun! You soon learn to roll correctly and rarely get slammed into a wall, breaking many bones. What can go wrong with three Restoration mages on hand?
- Jin: Even Celestine can’t repair a broken neck.
- Wulf: I thought you would be excited to get into the field.
- Jin: I am just preparing myself for the guaranteed dullness of this task mingled with brief periods of horror and desperation as I fight for my life.
- Wulf: What was the reason I rarely ask you to accompany me?
- Jin: You can’t compete with my unending cheerfulness and optimism.
We teleported to the Khajiiti caravan outside Dawnstar. I took the opportunity to speak to Ahkari.
“Greetings, Ahkari. How is business?”
“More and more Stormcloaks were walking the street of Dawnstar. Their racist slurs affected us personally and reduced trade. It is much better since The Dragonguard, you and The Legion kicked them out.”
“I am glad to hear that.”
“How is Kharjo?”
“He is doing very well and has made close friends amongst The Dragonguard.”
“That is excellent, for that one has a good heart and deserves the chance you have given.”
“He is adapting well. The Dragonguard are a bit eccentric, and he had accepted them for what they are.”
“Well, if Kharjo ever gets sick of saving everybody, he can always join us again.”
We made our way to the door of Dawnstar Sanctuary. Before I could subject myself to its beating heart and other theatrical touches, we heard desperate cries for help.
We turned to see an elderly fisherman being attacked by Horkers.
I Blinked over and quickly dispatched the beasts.
The Dragonguard swam across and joined us.
“Thank you for helping old Floki. Those damn Horkers wanted my catch and got surly when I whacked one with my bow.”
“Pleased to meet you, Floki. I am Wulf, The Dragonborn, and these are The Dragonguard.”
“So not only do I have to thank you for saving me from Horkers, I owe a greater debt for the removal of that idiotic Jarl and his Stormcloak cronies! They were like the Horkers and demanded I hand them my catch. The difference is that Horkers smell better and don’t carry swords.”
“Yes, and you wouldn’t want to whack a Stormcloak with your bow.”
“I had to sit there and watch them carry away my livelihood. For the good of Skyrim, they said. Thieving pieces of offal!”
“Well, they are not a problem anymore. Divine Blessings to you, young Floki.”
“Young? I think you have been whacked on the head by a mace or something!”
We hurried back to the door and approached it.
The heartbeats and slow breathing started, but instead of impressing The Dragonguard, they laughed and made derogatory remarks.
The door whispered, “What is life’s greatest illusion?”
“Innocence, my brother.”
The door swung open, and we rushed in.
The cleansing began with a Khajiit assassin and an Assassin Spectre.
We hardly paused as we killed.
The Listener was smashed to a pulp against a wall and fell lifeless onto his bed.
I pulled his corpse off the bed and searched it. He had nothing of use upon him.
I turned to The Dragonguard and signalled them to follow me.
We came to a torture chamber.
I killed the torturer with Unrelenting Force.
We rescued four prisoners and found clothes for the naked ones. They thanked us and then headed for the exit.
I looked at the tools of torture and knew how each was used. I don’t think torture is part of the Tenets of The Dark Brotherhood.
We discovered a Shrine to Sithis.
And The Night Mother.
I walked up close and could sense nothing from the emancipated corpse.
I stepped back and tried to incinerate her with Dragonfire, but it billowed around her. She remained unharmed.
I closed her casket.
- Wulf: That thing needs to be destroyed. If we can drag it outside, I will ask one of the dragons to drop it into an active volcano. Red Mountain will do! However, that can wait till another day.
- Taku: Who was she?
- Wulf: A mother who sacrificed her five children because Sithis asked her. She then became his bride and The Night Mother.
- Bashita: She is the antithesis of Lady Mara.
- Wulf: In many ways, yes. She probably justified the murder of her children with some religious mumbo jumbo.
- Kogo: I can see the hatred in your eyes, Wulf. The yellow eyes of a dragon.
- Wulf: Then angry I must be, for they haven’t appeared for some time.
- Jin: Silah should be able to teleport it to your Aetherius Room.
- Wulf: That would destroy The Night Mother! Great idea, Jin!
- Bashita: Come, Wulf, remove yourself from this thing.
- We had cleared the sanctuary, so I teleported us to Whiterun Stables.
Silah came out of the ether and landed on a farmer’s roof.
“It is good to see you, Silah.”
“You are not mad at me?”
“You, like me, are asked to do things and are free to choose if you do so. I am not your master, nor do I have the right to complain when you fulfil your chosen duties.”
“Wulf, Have you tried sensing the time stream lately?”
“No. Since travelling back via the Time-Wound, I have avoided using my time sense.”
“There are many ripples, junctions, stemming from your actions. There are time anomalies dotted around Skyrim; without you investigating them, we are unsure of their origin or danger. The other Jills and I are watching for potential Dragon Breaks due to these anomalies and your actions. It is necessary, if rather tedious, and I would rather be flying the skies of Nirn once more.”
“I am a walking, talking bundle of chaos!”
“Yes, that is an apt description. Anyway, I thought I would let you know what is happening. I had better head back.”
“Say hello to Lord Akatosh for me.”
“Try doing that yourself occasionally, Wulf. He would appreciate it.”
I summoned Nafaalilargus, which hastened Silah’s departure. He gets dangerously close to being beaten up by Silah, which is not what he pursues.
Nafaalilargus asked, “Your Orders, General.”
“We are heading for Volunruud. Feel free to kill any bandits we encounter.”
“There are many bandits in that direction. Silent Moons Camp and Whitewatch Tower are infested.”
“We are walking between the two. Only idiots would attack.”
“Sometimes, you can be insulting.”
“Only sometimes? I will have to try harder.”
As I told Nafaalilargus, we walked between the two bandit strongholds and provided no threat. However, both gangs attacked, and we killed the ones who didn’t retreat and hide.
Draugr Sentries from Volunruud attacked.
We cut them down.
I gave instructions to The Dragonguard outside the entrance to Volunruud.
“When we find Motierre, I am to approach him alone. I will be the assassin they are expecting from The Dark Brotherhood. Perhaps they might provide some information leading to co-conspirators.”
We entered Volunruud and found a scholar’s body only feet from the entrance.
His blood-soaked journal lay nearby. I read it to The Dragonguard.
“I was sceptical, but it’s obvious now. The old hymns had truth to them! The relief wasn’t far from the entrance, just as they said. I do not doubt that it hides the entrance to Kvenel’s tomb.
The two keys must be hidden somewhere nearby – ceremonial replicas of Okin and Eduj, favoured weapons when Kvenel went into battle. I don’t dare explore further without hiring bodyguards to accompany me, however. To think – The Tongue Chieftain Kvenel could be entombed behind just a few feet of stone! The ancestor we scarcely believed was real.
Twice damned for planning this foolish scouting trip. I should have hired those sellswords in the first place. Perhaps there’s no need. This place is just a tomb, after all, and there are no obvious signs of habitation. It isn’t as though the thousand-year dead will mind if I have a look around.
I said, “Heddic was a fool. Look at all the bones surrounding him. Many have not made it far into this tomb. Motierre must have some protection.”
A Skeletal Warrior slowly stood, and I cut it down.
We could hear Skeletal Warriors and Draugr down several passages. We walked down the first on the left.
Two voices were heard behind a door. Heat-Vision confirmed two mortals faced each other.
I signalled The Dragonguard, and they fell back so as not to be seen from the room.
I entered, and the two traitors turned to me.
I was disappointed to see one of them was an Imperial lieutenant. He stood between Motierre and me.
- Wulf: Hail Sithis, Councillor Motierre.
- Motierre: Yes, Hail Sithis and so on. Is everything ready?
- Wulf: How did you get past the undead guards?
- Motierre: A dweomer on my council amulet. Now, is everything ready?
- Wulf: There were some problems.
- Motierre: Such as?
- Wulf: That pesky Dragonborn wasn’t content with wiping out Falkreath Sanctuary. He felt the need to slaughter everybody in the Dawnstar Sanctuary as well.
- Motierre: Oh, shit! Does that include Cicero, Babette and The Listener?
- Wulf: Cicero and Babette weren’t there.
- Motierre: Thank Talos, the contract can still be completed!
- Wulf: Why do you want Mede dead?
- Rexus: When negotiating the contract, we specifically said that is our business. The Councillor is paying you handsomely to do yours.
- Wulf: You have a big mouth. Perhaps I need to shut it permanently?
- Rexus: I am not afraid of an assassin. It is not like I am going to turn my back on you.
- Motierre: Calm down, Rexus. The point was made, and we won’t tell him anything.
- Wulf: There is another slight problem. You see, The Dragonborn tracked down and killed Olette and Cicero.
- Motierre: Fuck, fuck, fuck! Will you become one of the most infamous assassins of all time and kill the targets?
- Wulf: No, for I am not an assassin. Nor am I a member of The Dark Brotherhood. I am Wulf, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines. You are both under arrest. Come peacefully and voice your political beliefs in court. Comply or die here and feed the Skeevers.
- Rexus: I can take him, Arnaud!
- Wulf: Oh, the oath-breaking traitor thinks he is a better warrior than the thousands I have killed. Too bad you didn’t volunteer to defeat Alduin, Traitor Rexus. I could have sat at home and relaxed. You are a disgrace to the uniform you wear and have lost all right to wear it
- Motierre: Kill him!
- Wulf: Poor choice, but so was becoming a traitor to The Empire.
Rexus reached for his sword. I stepped forward and snarled, “You can take me, the greatest warrior on Nirn? What an idiot!”
In a blur, my sword removed Rexus’ head.
Motierre squealed and ran.
As I walked swiftly towards him, he pleaded, “Mercy! Take me to trial! Please!”
I pushed his head against the wall and said, “That’s better. A nice long neck makes this easier.”
I swiftly ended Motierre’s life.
I took his Elder Council amulet, and there was nothing else of use on his or Rexus’ corpses. I did take Rexus’ dog tags. I wanted his service record to reflect his abandonment of oath and emperor.
I gathered The Dragonguard and decided to do some exploring.
We came to a door that had two weapon-shaped recesses in it. One was for an axe, the other for a sword.
- Bashita: It seems this tomb is intact.
- Wulf: And while it is, people will continue to die.
- Kogo: So as a public service, we will do the grave robbing instead!
- Wulf: Kogo, what right does anybody have to do what Tongue Chieftain Kvenel has done?
- Kogo: What do you mean?
- Wulf: I guarantee his two weapons, Okin and Eduj, are mediocre. They will be no better than the dozens we have in our pile of weapons that are not important enough for display. Any Dragonguard sword will be infinitely more powerful and valuable.
- Bashita: Knevel, knowing that people will covet his weapons, had this place built. He has placed the value of his weapons above the lives of those who seek them.
- Kogo: But they are his. Why should anybody else have them?
- Wulf: Kogo, since when have ordinary inanimate objects become more valuable than mortal lives?
- Kogo: Never.
- Wulf: Can you imagine the cost of this tomb? It is populated with Draugr and intended to kill, not to protect Kvenel’s burial, but his weapons. He would have left his weapons behind if he was concerned about his burial. What good will they do him in his afterlife?
- Bashita: None, so don’t be surprised if we find Kvenel in some undead form.
- Wulf: Why leave the keys to his tomb behind if not to attract and kill people like Heddic Volunnar?
- Kogo: There were a lot of bones at the entrance!
- Wulf: Kvenel has laid down the challenge: survive my guardians, find the keys and claim the prize. I accept that challenge and will claim the prize of saving future Heddic Volunnar from this death trap!
- Bashita: In return, Kvenel, who seems to be a forgotten hero, will have his story told in Dragonborn Gallery.
- Taku: Okay, it is not grave robbing.
- Wulf: What gives you that silly idea, Taku?
- Bashita: It is grave robbing!
- Kogo: As I said, it is public service grave robbing.
- Wulf: Yes, so let’s get on with it!
We destroyed many undead while retrieving the ceremonial replicas of Okin and Eduj.
At one stage, to relieve the monotony, I used my musket.
After retrieving both ceremonial replicas, we returned to the locked door.
The ceremonial replicas clicked into place, and the door opened.
We eliminated more undead before reaching Knevel. As Bashita expected, he was in undead form.
His Thu’um was powerful, and I was sent flying by Unrelenting Force. However, only the first two Words of Power were used.
Knevel wore the remnants of a Greybeard robe.
He wielded Okin and Eduj but was no match for me. I blocked his weapons and cut him down in a flurry of sword strokes.
We quickly eliminated his undead guards.
I then retrieved Okin and Eduj from the pile of ectoplasm that marked Knevel’s final resting place.
Both weapons have weak frost dweomer and are made of silver. They are not powerful weapons and together worth just over one thousand septims. An ebony hatchet wielded by one of the Draugr was worth more!
The constant tone of a Word Wall had been annoying me. We followed the sound to its source.
The Word Wall tried to teach me ‘laas’, which means life. It is the first Word of the Aura Whisper Shout. I already knew Word and Shout.
- Wulf: The inscription says, ‘Nau daar revak golt drey Freda zahrahmiik ek laas ful tol ek pogaan kiir filok ahrk osos sul qahnaar ek hokoron.’
- Taku: Blah blah…dedicated to Freda…blah blah blah.
- Wulf: Give it another thirty years, and you will be a Dovahzul expert!
- Taku: Yeah, not one of my ambitions, I’m afraid.
- Bashita: Getting out of bed each day is hard enough for Taku.
- Taku: Only when sharing it with a pretty young lady. An experience which has been too rare lately.
- Bashita: Try approaching them when not dressed in Dragonguard armour.
- Taku: Are you kidding? We are all targets thanks to Wulf’s popularity. And who wants to be caught in civies when dragons attack Solitude?
- Wulf: In Tamrielic, the inscription reads, ‘On this sacred ground did Freda sacrifice her life, so that her many children might escape, and someday vanquish her enemies.’
- Bashita: You would think they have provided her last name. How many Freda’s have there been throughout the history of Skyrim?
- Wulf: Well, the memorial stands, and I read it, so Freda is no longer forgotten.
We found nothing else of interest in Volunruud.
We teleported inside the Penitus Oculatus headquarters and spoke to Commander Maro.
“Commander, you can report to His Imperial Majesty that we have destroyed the remnants of The Dark Brotherhood. Here is the Elder Council amulet of Motierre and the dog tags of his bodyguard.”
I handed the items to Maro.
He said, “These will be sent to Mede along with the message that this threat has been eliminated.”
“I doubt Motierre was the only Elder Council member involved. But that is for others to determine.”
“You can expect a hefty reward for this service to Mede.”
“We do not want or expect rewards, Commander Maro. And please ensure you mention it was Dragonborn and Dragonguard that did this, not just me.”
“I will do. I thank you all. The Penitus Oculatus could not have moved quickly enough to accomplish this. Some assassins would have gone into hiding, and Mede would not have felt or been safe.”
“If Motierre had co-conspirators, they won’t stop. The Morag Tong will gladly accept a Grey-Writ for a significant fee.”
“We know, and so does Mede. We can only deal with the plots we uncover.”
“Do not hesitate to ask for our assistance, Commander Maro. For now, blessings of The Divines on you and the Penitus Oculatus.”
We teleported to the Safe House, where The Dragonguard and I invaded the kitchen in search of food. I ate a quick meal, had a spa then headed for bed.
I eventually climbed into bed. Rigmor and I spoke for several hours about the last two days before she needed to sleep.
If all goes to plan tomorrow, we will take Winterhold and another step towards ending the Civil War.