Tirdas, 28th Frostfall, 2E 401
Jordis, Iona, Dae, Daenlyn and Meeko were my squad for the day.
We teleported to Raven Rock.
- Wulf: We are meeting the Second Councillor at the other end of town and shall split up. Jordis, Daenlyn and Meeko walk through the centre of town. The rest of us will go via the docks.
- Dae: Why the subterfuge?
- Wulf: I don’t know yet.
- Daenlyn: If this involves Morrowind politics, it will make sense to be paranoid.
- Wulf: Adril is probably worried, and we should not delay further.
The team approached Adril from two directions.
- Adril: Thank you for coming. After everything you’ve already done for Raven Rock, I hate to ask for more, but I can’t risk Councillor Morvayn being killed.
- Wulf: Second Councillor, when we first arrived in Raven Rock, I suggested you ask us for help when needed, and wisely, you are.
- Adril: The Ulen Family of House Hlaalu, a rival Great House, has placed a deathmark on the Councillor’s head.
- Wulf: I understand that for much of your life, they were Great House Hlaalu. However, due to their strong ties with The Empire, House Hlaalu is no longer a Great House. They were removed from the Grand Council of Morrowind and replaced by Great House Sadras.
- Adril: Yes, I stand corrected. Hlaalu deserved every bit of the hatred they received once the Empire released its grasp on Morrowind.
- Wulf: I don’t want to hear your gripes with The Empire, Second Councillor. The fact is the target of Mehrunes Dagon was The Imperial City. The war would most likely have been lost if the Legion had not been taken from Solstheim to Cyrodiil. The Empire did not abandon The Dunmer! Millions of Legionnaires died defending all of us!
- Jordis: Gentlemen, can we please attend to the deathmark, not ancient history?
- Wulf: Why would the Ulen Family want to kill Councillor Morvayn?
- Adril: It’s a private matter. They seek revenge on Councillor Morvayn for ordering one of them to be executed. The problem is I don’t have any solid proof that anyone from House Hlaalu is hidden among us… only my suspicions.
- Wulf: Are the Morag Tong the only ones who would act on the deathmark?
- Adril: They are the only ones who could do so legally.
- Wulf: Do you have a Morag Tong chapter on Solstheim?
- Adril: No. Councillor Morvayn has forbidden them to establish one.
- Wulf: Have you spoken to Councillor Morvayn about your suspicions?
- Adril: Councillor Morvayn feels that I’m being paranoid.
- Wulf: I assume you have trusted sources who have informed you of this threat?
- Adril: Yes, I do. I’ve received some information from my sources that there could be elements of Ulen’s house, House Hlaalu, already in Raven Rock.
- Daenlyn: Do you think us outlanders have a better chance of snooping around than you, Second Councillor?
- Adril: Do I know you? Wait, all of you are different!
- Meeko: Woof!
- Jordis: He is not saying you are different, Meeko. Just the two-legged people.
- Wulf: I swap Dragonguard squads regularly, Second Councillor.
- Daenlyn: We have met, Second Councillor. I was here a while ago, and you saw me performing in The Retching Netch.
- Adril: Yes, of course. In answer to your assumption, you are correct. Raven Rock is a small settlement, so it’s hard to accomplish anything in secret. If any citizen is from House Hlaalu, I wouldn’t be able to make a move without them knowing.
- Wulf: I will not commit to helping without some questions being answered.
- Adril: Without Councillor Morvayn, Raven Rock has no future. Keep that in mind when you decide to help or not.
- Wulf: I am Champion of Azura and Boethia. Keep that in mind when you decide to answer some questions or not.
- Dae: We have a strict moral code, Second Councillor. We must be cautious lest we inadvertently break that code.
- Adril: What do you want to know?
- Wulf: Who was executed and why?
- Adril: In 4E 95, Vilur Ulen came to Raven Rock with a plan to take over our town. He acted as a generous benefactor and caused agitation amongst our citizens. He thought he could turn them all against Councillor Morvayn and The Redoran Guard.
- Daenlyn: He underestimated The Redoran Guard, didn’t he?
- Adril: Indeed, and The Redoran Guard were organised, bringing a swift end to the coup. Vilur tried to run, but Captain Veleth caught him. Vilur Ulen was executed a short time later, and his remains were placed in the Ulen Ancestral Tomb.
- Wulf: How many citizens joined Vilur’s failed coup?
- Adril: Almost half of them.
- Wulf: Assuming you didn’t execute half your citizens, there will be Ulen sympathisers within the population without having to import more.
- Adril: That is true, but it would be easier to avoid detection by plotting whilst off this island.
- Wulf: Where should we start looking for evidence?
- Adril: The best place to start would be Geldis Sadri over at the Retching Netch Cornerclub. If he provides you with any leads, check them out before bringing them to my attention. I can’t afford to make any mistakes.
- Wulf: You claimed before there are no Morag Tong in Solstheim.You’re mistaken.
- Adril: WHAT?
- Wulf: We killed half a dozen Morag Tong assassins near Ashfallow Citadel. Why they attacked my armed group is a mystery. At first, I thought they had a writ for me. However, we found no writ on them.
- Adril: We have regular patrols in that area, and none have reported encountering Morag Tong. Are you positive that is who they were?
- Jordis: Second Councillor, everybody knows the armour worn by Morag Tong members. It is as distinctive as The Dark Brotherhood’s used to be.
- Adril: What do you mean by ‘used to be?’
- Jordis: Wulf and The Dragonguard recently killed every member. The Dark Brotherhood is extinct.
- Adril: Every one of them?
- Jordis: Wulf killed all but two by himself. I advise you to stop questioning his competence.
- Wulf: We will speak to Geldis and keep you informed of our progress, Second Councillor.
We made our way through the crowded market and entered The Retching Netch.
Then we approached the bar.
- Geldis: Welcome to the Retching Netch Cornerclub, home of the finest Sujamma that will ever grace your lips.
- Daenlyn: It is good to see you again, Geldis.
- Geldis: Daenlyn! Have you come to entertain us once more?
- Daenlyn: Sorry, no, not at the moment. I am in Raven Rock to aid The Dragonborn.
- Wulf: Your establishment has an interesting name.
- Geldis: There’s a funny story behind the name, friend. A few years ago, I was walking by the docks and noticed a Dunmer staggering along with a bottle of Sujamma in hand. He was one of my patrons and liked to drink heavily, so I wasn’t exactly surprised.
- Wulf: More proof that Man and Mer are not much different.
- Geldis: This particular Dunmer was as naked as the day he was born and singing badly at the top of his lungs. As I’m watching this spectacle, a Netch floats over the Bulwark towards him. The man looks straight up at the Netch, then yells, ‘have a drink!’. He tossed the bottle, which never hit the ground.
- Wulf: I can see where this is heading.
- Geldis: Well, the bottle broke on the Netch, and it must have swallowed its contents because it started floating sort of tilted. Finally, it stopped and began to quiver. A few moments later, the foulest liquid to ever assail your nostrils spewed from its maw. I’ve seen plenty of drunks in my day, and I’ll tell you right now that Netch was sick.
- Wulf: Hence the name.
- Geldis: That is a true story, friend.
- Wulf: Second Councillor Adril Arano says you might be able to assist with his deathmark problem.
- Geldis: Well, well. Adril’s got himself some spies, does he? Azura knows he needs all the help he can get. He’s been chasing the Ulens for years now.
- Daenlyn: Do you share Adril’s concerns?
- Geldis: Yes, but I think he has been doing it wrong.
- Wulf: And you know a better way?
- Geldis: If you want to catch those slippery Slaughterfish, you must let them come to you.
- Wulf: If you leave the analogies aside, perhaps I can learn your superior plan?
- Geldis: There’s a Ulen Ancestral Tomb near the Temple. Someone’s been leaving Ash Yam offerings on the altar inside. If you were to wait inside for whoever that is, I’m betting they’ll have some of the answers you’re seeking.
- Wulf: I assume they would visit the tomb after sunset?
- Geldis: Correct. I would be careful. Rumour is that Ash Spawn are appearing in the tombs.
- Wulf: I will ask Elder Othreloth if they need help but not today. However, that rumour gives me an excuse to be inside the Ulen Ancestral Tomb.
- Dae: You will let the visitor know you are there. That will make them worry.
- Jordis: And when our enemies worry, they make mistakes.
- Wulf: It is a few hours before sunset. I hate to waste the day, so is there anybody else we might be able to help?
- Geldis: The Redoran Guard have spotted a pack of werewolves in the mountains. The hunters up at Frostmoon Crag might know more.
- Wulf: Wild werewolves?
- Geldis: I don’t know.
- Wulf: That is a fair distance. We will investigate but not today.
- Geldis: Okay, if you’ve got gold on your hands, you might talk to Ralis at Kolbjorn Barrow. He is looking for funding to excavate the place.
- Wulf: You would have to be insane to do that! Kolbjorn Barrow is the tomb of Ahzidal and should not be disturbed!
- Geldis: Ahh, is this Ahzidal dangerous?
- Wulf: Extremely. He is at least as dangerous as Miraak, if not more!
- Geldis: Would there be treasure in the barrow?
- Wulf: Yes, unless tomb robbers survived and stole them. There should be powerful artefacts guarded by a myriad Draugr who worship Ahzidal. Kolbjorn Barrow is not far, so we shall warn Ralis.
- Geldis: The coast has been dangerous lately with many reavers about. I’ve heard they’re searching for the treasure of Haknir Death-Brand, the pirate king.
- Wulf: I have been asked to search for that treasure for my museum. That will also have to wait for another day.
- Geldis: Well, that is all the gossip I have at the moment.
- Wulf: Daenlyn, how would you like to entertain Geldis’ patrons later when I am sneaking into the Ulen tomb?
- Daenlyn: Well, Geldis, is that a booking?
- Geldis: Certainly. We still have those old instruments out the back. I might have to hire a permanent bard if it gets as noisy and rowdy as last time you played here.
- Daenlyn: The instruments may look battered but are of the highest quality. I investigated the name inscribed on them, Lloryne Derel, and discovered that she was a retired court bard. I assume she was killed when Red Mountain exploded. After retiring, this corner club was her chosen place of residence and the instruments’ correct home. Any bard would be proud to play them.
We exited The Retching Netch.
I told The Dragonguard, “The first thing we must do is investigate a Black Book causing problems. I will tell you what has been occurring as we walk.”
As we headed for Old Attius Farm, we stopped a few times when questions needed answering. When we arrived at the farm, those with me knew most of what had occurred since I arrived in Solstheim.
I noticed an Apprentice Alteration Mage waving his arms in an unsuccessful attempt to cast a spell.
We slowly approached, and his raving reminded me of Septimus Signus. I immediately suspected the same Daedric Prince was the catalyst for both cases of insanity.
He said, “The book in my dream showed me, so there’s nothing to worry about, nothing to worry about at all. They said it couldn’t be done. They said it. They said it. But they were wrong! I will touch the sky like a dragon!”
He started to cast a spell again, and Dae and I recognised it.
I ran towards the mage while using The Voice to say, “STOP! THAT SPELL WILL NOT LET YOU FLY!”
Unfortunately for the mage, he was successful in casting the spell.
He was catapulted high into the air and yelled triumphantly, “It’s working. I’m flying! I’m really flying! Hahahaha!”
I whispered, “No, you fool, you are not flying.”
The mage stopped gaining height and then started to plummet towards the ground.
The mage screamed, and The Dragonguard turned away. I watched. Everybody heard the sickening snapping of bones and the hollow thump as the mage’s last breath was brutally forced from his lungs.
I Inspected the corpse and found a journal. I read the relevant section to The Dragonguard.
“They said it was impossible. They, not me. I knew! The book knew. It knows all. And I know all. All I need to know. To fly! They laughed. The others were afraid. Don’t even try, they said. They said it was impossible. They, not me. The book fills me. With knowledge. Secret hidden knowledge. My knowledge. I must hide the knowledge. Hide it away deep inside. I will eat the book. A page at a time. Slowly. Slowly. I will become one with the knowledge contained on its pages. In its pages. In me! The knowledge of flight. They said it was impossible. Ha!”
- Daenlyn: He is Bosmer. What is his name?
- Wulf: The name on the journal is Minelos Lichenthorn.
- Daenlyn: I don’t know that family.
- Dae: Did Minelos eat a Black Book?
- Wulf: It seems so. I suspect it was the Black Book from the farm.
- Jordis: What was the spell that he cast?
- Dae: It is called Telekinesis. You can use the spell to bring objects to you or, as he did, reverse its force and push things away.
- Wulf: Minelos directed the spell’s force towards the ground. Nirn was not going to move, and the energy had to be dissipated.
- Dae: That energy sent Minelos into the sky, but gravity slowed him down. Eventually, he stopped climbing and fell to his death.
- Wulf: Let’s check the farm’s cellar.
We walked to the remains of the farmhouse and soon found the trapdoor. It was barred from the other side. I tried banging on it, but there was no answer.
- Wulf: Using Heat-Vision, I can see there is a single person down there. They were sitting but stood when I banged on the trapdoor.
- Dae: What next?
- Wulf: We ignore it for now. Forcing our way in may cause a collapse.
- Jordis: And we wouldn’t want to kill an innocent.
- Wulf: I don’t think the Black Book exists any longer, and that was my concern.
We left Old Attius Farm and headed for Kolbjorn Barrow.
When Kolbjorn Barrow came into view, the sound of a solo pickaxe hitting stone could be heard.
- Wulf: Do any of you know the story of Ahzidal?
- Meeko: Woof!
- Wulf: Apart from Meeko, does anybody know the story of Ahzidal?
- Dae: Nobody is going to admit to their ignorance.
- Wulf: Okay, I will read you a book that tells his story, up to a point.
I retrieved the book Ahzidal’s Descent from my journal case and read it to The Dragonguard.
“In the days beyond memory, when men first walked the lands of Skyrim, a great enchanter arose in the city of Saarthal. His gift for magic and artifice had been evident to his tutors as a boy. As a man, his skill surpassed them all. And finding nothing more to learn among his kin, he left his wife and child and set out to train under the elven masters. A year became two, then three. Finally, when his path led him back to Saarthal, he found only ruins. The elves had sacked the city, and all that lived there were dead and gone. Amid the ashes in the smouldering ruins of his home, he swore a terrible oath of vengeance. And from that comes the name the legends gave him: Ahzidal, which means embittered destroyer.
Alone he could do nothing. And so, he bided his time, delving deeper into his art than any mortal before him. From the Dwemer, he learned the seven natures of metal and how to harmonise them. From the Ayleid, the ancient runes and Dawn-Magic that even the elves had begun to forget. He travelled among Falmer, Chimer, and Altmer, taking what he could from each and plotting how he might turn that knowledge against them.
Finally, word reached him of Ysgramor and his Companions who had recently arrived from Atmora. For many days and nights, he rode north and met them as they made landfall on the icy coast near the ruins of Saarthal, which the elves had fortified against them. He offered The Companions his service and all he had produced in his years of labour. And with Atmoran steel imbued with his enchantments, the elves fell before them, and at last, he had his revenge.
But he was not content. His craft had become his life, and his hunger for knowledge still gnawed at him, driving him to delve ever deeper. At long last, he exhausted the lore of the elves, but it was not enough. He sought the secrets of Dragon-runes and won for himself a seat among their high priests, but it was not enough. And at length, he turned his gaze to the planes of Oblivion and found both power and madness there.
Some say he ventured there, never to return. Others say that he was betrayed by his fellow Dragon Priests and killed or driven into hiding amongst the ruins beneath his beloved Saarthal. Among the Skaal of Solstheim, it is said he fled to their island. The Skaal claim Ahzidal was sealed in the depths of Kolbjorn Barrow, together with the last of his relics.
But that is the tale, as it was told among the bards of Winterhold. Whatever the truth, the legend of Ahzidal was intended as a warning: in pursuit of perfection, one must take care that the pursuit itself does not become all-consuming.”
- Daenlyn: And some idiot is trying to break into his tomb?
- Wulf: Many believe there is great treasure inside. Maybe there is, but undoubtedly there will be many powerful Draugr and Ahzidal.
- Dae: You think Ahzidal is conscious?
- Wulf: Undoubtedly. He will be a Lich like all powerful Dragon Priests. He was one of Miraak’s acolytes, and I assume he was interred after The Jailor defeated them in battle.
- Dae: Why didn’t The Jailor destroy him?
- Wulf: I have no idea. Anything I say would be pure speculation.
- Jordis: Is there any evidence he is interred in Kolbjorn Barrow?
- Wulf: It is part of Skaal Oral History which I regard as accurate. The Nerevarine also entered Kolbjorn Barrow to deal with a problem caused by Ahzidal.
- Dae: Ahzidal fell into Hermaeus Mora’s trap, like many others.
- Wulf: Yes, but I wonder if he was insane before meeting The Tentacled Ugly.
- Dae: Is it wise to give Daedric Princes nicknames?
- Wulf: Mora chose his avatar, so don’t you think he knows how repulsive it is?
- Iona: Could Councillor Morvayn forbid the excavation of Kolbjorn Barrow?
- Wulf: I don’t think so, but I am not an expert on Morrowind laws.
- Iona: Well, hopefully, you can scare the tomb robbers away.
When we reached Kolbjorn Barrow, a lone Dunmer was labouring away at the tightly packed ash and rock.
We climbed down and waited.
Eventually, Ralis Sedarys stood and looked us up and down.
- Wulf: Excuse me, I heard you were conducting an archaeological expedition.
- Ralis: Who told you that? Was it Geldis? I asked that idiot not to …bah. You look mostly honest. It probably can’t hurt to tell you.
- Daenlyn: Did you hear that? The Dragonborn looks mostly honest! Who would have thought of that possibility?
- Ralis: The Dragonborn?
- Wulf: Yes, I am Wulf Welkynd, The Dragonborn.
- Ralis: I spent days working on one of those stones chanting about someone called Miraak, and it seems you rescued us all from that fate. Forgive me for my abruptness. The excavation is not going as planned.
- Wulf: Why are you digging up this barrow?
- Ralis: I have a financier waiting for me. He asked me to come here to obtain some rare antiquities. The ‘Relics of Ahzidal’ he calls them.
- Wulf: You don’t seem to have got far?
- Ralis: This whole thing quickly became a disaster. I come from the northern ashlands, so I don’t expect things to go easy. But this has been something outside of my particular expertise. When I first arrived at Kolbjorn Barrow, the name of this wretched place, I couldn’t even see it. It was buried in the ash, like most other things on the blasted island. I dug out a pile of the stuff taller than me to find the barrow. Who knows how much more I need to remove to reach the door?
- Wulf: And what is your speciality?
- Ralis: Excavation isn’t. Even if it was, the ash storms fill it in faster than I can dig.
- Wulf: I suggest you tell your financier to find somebody else willing to commit suicide.
- Ralis: What do you mean?
- Wulf: Ahzidal is a Dragon Priest. He was one of the most powerful mages in history. Now, he is undead, insane, and hates Mer. He will be below waiting for somebody like you to set him free from his buried tomb. You will not find treasure, only death if you insist on excavating this barrow.
- Ralis: How would you know this? You might want to scare me away and dig for the treasure yourself!
- Dae: We carry weapons and armour worth far more than the trinkets inside this barrow! The Dragonborn has a museum in Solitude full of artefacts more valuable than anything inside this barrow.
- Daenlyn: We are not interested in the treasures that may be inside the tomb. We are interested in saving lives, and not just yours.
- Wulf: If you release Ahzidal, he will kill you and any other Mer he sees.
- Ralis: I have already spent every coin my financier gave me, and getting this far involved considerable time and effort.
- Jordis: Anybody who finances grave robbers can expect to lose money on some enterprises. Even if you continued to dig, there is no guarantee that previous grave robbers have not stripped this barrow bare.
- Ralis: It is not grave robbing!
- Wulf: At a guess, your financier expects to sell any artefacts found to private collectors for exorbitant prices. It is grave robbing.
- Ralis: Well, Ahzidal isn’t using them.
- Wulf: You will find only death if you open the burial tomb of a Dragon Priest.
- Ralis: I can go no further without hiring help, and I have no coin. Perhaps it is best if I walk away.
- Wulf: That would be wise.
- Ralis: I will speak to my financier and explain the situation. I am sure he will understand.
- Wulf: You will cease this foolish enterprise?
- Ralis: Yes, of course. Thank you for explaining what the reality is.
We walked away, hoping Ralis was wise enough to leave Ahzidal buried. I told my friends, “We have a few hours to fill in, so let’s visit the market in Raven Rock.”
We made our way to the market, which seemed to be constantly crowded.
I was curious about the Nord blacksmith. I noticed a Thieves Guild Shadowmark on his front door frame as I approached him. It marked him as a fence, a dealer in stolen goods.
He looked up from his anvil.
- Glover: Glover Mallory’s the name. If you’re looking for a smith, you’ve found one of the best.
- Wulf: I am Wulf Welkynd, and my friends are known as The Dragonguard.
- Glover: We all owe you a great deal, Dragonborn. Dunmer can be a bit reticent to say thank you, but don’t for a minute think they aren’t grateful.
- Wulf: From where do you hail?
- Glover: Skyrim. Born and raised.
- Wulf: Are any of your family with you in Solstheim?
- Glover: Nah, parents are dead. My brother lives in Riften.
- Wulf: In The Ragged Flagon?
- Glover: I thought you noticed the Shadowmark.
- Wulf: I don’t know Delvin personally, but I know of him.
- Daenlyn: I know him very well. A pleasant fellow who appreciates my bardic talents and rarely tries to pick-pocket me.
- Glover: Is me being related to Delvin going to be an issue?
- Wulf: Not at all. However, I am curious about how you ended up in Raven Rock.
- Glover: A fine question, and the one I often hear from visitors to our town. I wish I had a more romantic tale to tell, but I was simply seeking my fortune and chose Raven Rock to ply my trade. Besides, knowing how to repair Bonemold armour wasn’t very useful in Riften.
- Daenlyn: That is a rare skill indeed!
- Glover: I had a friend in Riften, a dark elf named Vanryth, who is a very talented armoursmith. He taught me a heck of a lot, including how to repair Bonemold. I spent a lot of time with the guy swapping smithing techniques. After he moved on to greener pastures, I decided to pack up, move out here and put those lessons to the test. I have been here ever since.
- Jordis: Do the Redoran Guard keep you busy?
- Glover: I am constantly making and repairing armour for them. When the mine reopens, I may even get paid for my services!
- Wulf: Is money that tight on Solstheim?
- Glover: Adril is constantly apologising for the lack of payment. I keep telling him not to worry. I know they will compensate me when they can.
- Wulf: It was pleasant to meet you, Glover Mallory.
- Glover: Likewise.
We walked over to Garyn Ienth, the farmer I saw Mogrul harassing.
- Wulf: Good afternoon, Farmer Garyn.
- Garyn: Your actions here have blessed us all, serjo.
- Wulf: Is Mogrul leaving you alone?
- Garyn: For now. There is no escaping the fact I owe him money.
- Wulf: Why did you have to borrow from him?
- Garyn: A band of reavers stole most of my crops and equipment. I needed the loan to tide us over till the new crops could be harvested.
- Wulf: What kind of interest does Mogrul charge?
- Garyn: In less than a year, I owe him four times what I lent.
- Wulf: Has he harmed other citizens, or is he all bluster?
- Garyn: Mogrul would not get his hands dirty. However, if Slitter doesn’t kill, he maims. Always discretely, of course.
- Dae: There is an art to successfully growing crops in the ash, isn’t there?
- Garyn: Indeed, there is. The Dunmer have been growing food in the ashlands for thousands of years. It was born out of the necessity to survive in the harsh climate of our homeland. And now, with the constant eruptions of the Red Mountain, it’s more important than ever.
- Dae: Do you employ magic similar to Telvanni Mycologists?
- Garyn: No. Only the Telvanni can weave living growth from the ash. We use the right ingredients, tools and a lot of patience. Milore, my wife, is quite an alchemist. Thanks to her, my ash yams are growing quicker than ever before.
- Wulf: Now that the mine is reopening, Solstheim will become more wealthy. People like Mogrul will find their services are no longer required.
- Garyn: Everybody in Raven Rock owes somebody. We barter as money is scarce. But I can’t refuse hungry friends and would never pressure for repayment. Mogrul is not one of us and doesn’t understand that concept. Even Glover does his smithing for free when one of us needs help.
- Wulf: In my short time here, I have found myself admiring the people of Raven Rock. Others on the mainland could learn from how you support each other.
- Daenlyn: Wulf, you have seen similar sentiment amongst orphans. Empathy is a natural state, but circumstance removes it from many.
- Wulf: And some maintain it no matter the circumstances.
- Jordis: Like Rigmor.
- Wulf: Yes, like Rigmor and her mother, Sigunn.
- Garyn: I see Milore is taking a break and letting her apprentice run the store. You might want to chat with her.
- Wulf: It has been pleasant talking to you, Farmer Garyn.
Milore smiled as we approached her.
- Milore: You sure showed Miraak!
- Wulf: He is still a danger, Apotheker Milore. But I am glad to have freed the people of Solstheim from his enslavement.
- Daenlyn: Since my ignorant friend failed to show manners, I shall do so. He is Wulf, The Dragonborn, and we are his friends.
- Milore: Everybody knows who Wulf is.
- Wulf: You and your husband play a vital role in Raven Rock.
- Milore: As you can imagine, the eruption of the Red Mountain took an awful toll on Solstheim. According to Councillor Morvayn, my husband’s been Raven Rock’s most important food source for decades. Hunting for meat is often fruitless, and the waters are too tainted for fishing.
- Daenlyn: And no doubt your alchemy skills are in demand.
- Milore: Yes, I even send balms to Windhelm. They are becoming an essential source of income for us.
- Wulf: Is alchemy a family tradition?
- Milore: Not at all. After we left Morrowind, we found ourselves in Skyrim. We wandered around a bit and ended up in Morthal, where we took temporary residence with Lami, the town’s alchemist. Her work fascinated me. Lami taught me quite a bit over a few years.
- Wulf: Lami and her husband survived the Skyrim Civil War. Many people in Morthal lost loved ones to Stormcloak thuggery.
- Milore: Oh, I am glad to hear they survived. But how do you know?
- Wulf: I have received accounts of the crimes Ulfric and his troops committed. The occupying troops murdered some outspoken citizens of Morthal. Neither Lami nor Jorgen was on the list.
- Daenlyn: Morthal must have seemed strange after living in Morrowind.
- Milore: Indeed, and we were the only Dunmer there. We heard about how terrible our people were treated in Windhelm and decided to come here.
- Wulf: I can see you stock some rare and exotic reagents.
- Milore: Yes, I’m proud to say I grow or harvest most of them myself. I only wish I had a better source for Netch jelly. Those creatures are difficult to track down since it’s so dangerous beyond the Bulwark.
- Wulf: If I see any hunters on my travels, I will ask them if they can provide a constant supply for you.
- Milore: There were Skaal who used to visit and barter the jelly for some of our farm produce, but we haven’t seen them for some time.
- Wulf: Nearly all of the Skaal were enslaved by Miraak, as you were.
- Milore: I don’t know who sent you, but you’ve given us something to build on here. I hope someday we can repay you for your kindness.
- Wulf: I was placed on Nirn to help all mortals. Seeing the people of Solstheim healthy and happy is my payment.
- Milore: Placed by who?
- Wulf: Lord Akatosh. He is The God of Time and the celestial father of dragons.
- Milore: Oh.
- Wulf: It has been pleasant meeting you, Apotheker Milore.
As we moved away from Milore’s store, Rigmor contacted me via our amulets.
“Wulf, we have all slept and are rested. When can we join you again?”
“I don’t know yet. Assassins are plotting the demise of First Councillor Morvayn. We are gathering evidence of who hired them before removing the threat.”
“I assume so. Hiring anybody else would be illegal. Imagine going to jail for hiring the wrong assassins!”
“I will never complain about Cyrodiil politics ever again.”
“Hopefully, we can resolve this quickly. I need to have a good sleep before we visit Master Neloth.”
“Okay, let me know when you are successful.”
“I love you, Rigmor.”
“And I love you, my weird Dragonborn.”
Jordis saw my smile and asked, “Rigmor?”
I nodded my head as we continued our tour of the market.
We next visited the general goods store run by Fethis Alor.
- Wulf: Hello, I am Wulf, and these are my friends, The Dragonguard.
- Fethis: Fethis Alor at your service.
- Wulf: You seem to have a wide variety of goods, Shopkeeper Fethis.
- Fethis: I will likely have what you need if it’s not a weapon, potion or armour.
- Wulf: Is it challenging to acquire goods to sell?
- Fethis: Gjalund over at the docks brings me most of my supplies, and the rest comes from bartering with the people in town. Oh, Glover Mallory gets me a few things once in a while. He usually has the most amazing deals that I can’t pass up.
- Wulf: You might get very busy as people learn of the mine reopening and flock to Raven Rock.
- Fethis: Yes, things will pick up. However, I wonder how long it’ll be before House Redoran ignores us again.
- Jordis: Why would they do that?
- Fethis: If the mine runs out of ore for a second time, House Redoran will again ignore us.
- Wulf: The mine never ran out of ore and won’t do so for many centuries, if not millennia.
- Fethis: Crescius wasn’t so crazy after all?
- Wulf: No, he wasn’t. Great danger lurked in the mine, and now it is gone.
- Fethis: You freed me from building the shrine. I don’t even know how to begin to thank you.
- Wulf: No thanks needed.
- Fethis: If I could only get my hands on Miraak. I’d make him pay for playing with my mind!
- Daenlyn: Miraak is very powerful. He would squash you like a bug!
- Fethis: Well, in that case, you can make him pay!
- Jordis: This market seems to be very busy.
- Fethis: Mostly, it is populated by people gossiping, not buying. What if I told you that you’re the first people that have even considered looking at my wares today? I’ve half a mind to contact my friends at the East Empire Company and see if they need an extra hand in Windhelm.
- Daenlyn: You would not enjoy Windhelm.
- Wulf: You have dealings with The East Empire Company?
- Fethis: Oh, absolutely. In fact, I’ve corresponded with Vittoria Vici herself more than once. You know, the lady who runs the East Empire Company Warehouse in Solitude. It is the biggest warehouse they have in Skyrim.
- Wulf: I was a guest at her wedding ten days ago. I even got to sing a couple of songs for the guests.
- Fethis: Vittoria got married?
- Wulf: Yes, and all her friends were invited.
- Fethis: I wasn’t invited.
- Daenlyn: That was the point that Wulf was making.
- Fethis: Oh.
- Wulf: The East Empire Company has mistreated Solstheim. I think they need some competition so that Solstheim can thrive.
- Fethis: Nobody can compete against them!
- Wulf: I wouldn’t be so sure, Shopkeeper Fethis. Anyway, it’s time we wet our whistle.
- Fethis: Huh?
- Iona: Wulf means it is time to visit The Retching Netch.
- Fethis: Of course. And there I was, thinking my Tamrielic wasn’t too bad.
- Iona: Wulf speaks a very localised dialect.
- Jordis: It is only spoken fluently by people with severe brain damage.
We entered the Retching Netch and enjoyed a good meal and talk. Daenlyn entertained the crowd, and I was more than a little impressed at his skill.
Just before sunset, I left The Dragonguard in The Retching Netch and headed for the Ulen Ancestral Tomb.
I went invisible, so nobody saw me walk to or enter the tomb.
I stayed invisible till I heard somebody else enter about twenty minutes later.
I had seen the woman before, in The Retching Netch and browsing the Raven Rock Market. But I had never spoken to her. She wore a costly dress and stood silently before a pile of bones and ash.
I dropped my invisibility and then walked towards her. I said, “Oh, excuse me. Please continue. The tomb is safe.”
“The tomb is safe?”
“Where are my manners? I am Wulf Welkynd, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines. And you are?”
“What are you doing here?”
“Well, currently, I am waiting on common courtesy.”
“I am Tilisu Severin, wife of Vendil Severin and mother of Miri Severin. Now, I ask again, what are you doing here?”
“I have heard reports that Ash Spawn have been appearing in the burial tombs of Solstheim. Therefore, I thought I would ensure that Raven Rock’s tombs were safe. It would be terrible if somebody were killed by an ancestor while leaving an offering to that very same ancestor!”
“I wouldn’t expect that sort of behaviour from somebody who isn’t Dunmer?”
“Have you been living under a rock?”
“Beg your pardon?”
“My friends and I stopped the Ash Spawn attacks, released everybody from Miraak’s enslavement and cleared the mine of Draugr and Dragon Priests. Why wouldn’t I check the tombs to ensure people’s safety?”
“Oh, I didn’t mean to sound racist. It was a poor choice of words.”
“I will let you get back to your honouring of the dead. It was nice to meet you, Tilisu.”
My sudden appearance flustered Tilisu. I don’t know much about the Severin family, except they are wealthy and own the most prominent house in Raven Rock.
Adril Arano was most likely in The Retching Netch, so that is where I headed.
I found Arano sitting by himself. The place was boisterous, so we were not concerned about being overheard.
“Second Councillor, I witnessed Tilisu Severin making an offering in the Ulen Ancestral Tomb.”
“So Geldis’s plan worked, eh? Every time we tried it, no one would show up. If Tilisu’s involved in any plot to harm Councillor Morvayn, I will need evidence to prove it.”
“I could illegally search their house, but I won’t.”
“Well, I’m not kicking down anyone’s door until I have solid evidence in hand. If you’re wrong about Tilisu, things would quickly go downhill around here, and the real culprits might slip away. I can’t afford for that to happen.”
“I didn’t say I wasn’t going to look for evidence. I will knock on the Severin’s door and have a friendly chat.”
“What makes you think they will tell you anything?”
“Tilisu was shocked to see me in the tomb. I wanted her to see me so I could gauge her guilt. Her reaction was that of a child caught with their hand in the cookie jar.”
“What is a cookie jar?”
“Don’t concern yourself about cookies, Second Councillor. My tactic was to make Tilisu paranoid. I want her to make a mistake.”
“Oh, well, then be careful. I would expect you to do whatever you must to keep yourself alive. This key should open the manor’s front door in case they’ve locked it. Good luck.”
“I will be back soon.”
Adril handed me the key. I exited The Retching Netch, made myself invisible and walked to Severin Manor.
I then made myself visible and knocked on the door of Severin Manor. A few seconds later, Tilisu asked, “Who is it?”
“Wulf, The Dragonborn. I want to talk to you if I may.”
“Enter. We have been expecting you.”
I entered the house and was confronted by Tilisu and a younger Dunmer woman. Both stood facing me with daggers in hand. I could tell they were competent fighters. Their choice of weapon suggested Morag Tong training.
- Wulf: This is an unorthodox way to greet guests, Tilisu. I assume the much prettier and younger lady is your daughter. Mirri, wasn’t it?
- Tilisu: Do you think I am stupid? You weren’t in the tomb looking for Ash Spawn. You were spying on me.
- Mirri: Typical blundering Imperial!
- Wulf: I am not blundering nor an Imperial. You are not stupid, Tilisu, just predictable. I could have remained invisible inside the tomb. I could also have entered this house without either of you knowing.
- Tilisu: Enough! I am not going to let you spoil years of planning!
- Wulf: I am giving you a chance to live. Currently, you have committed no crime as the hiring of assassins is allowed in your country. You can withdraw the writ on Councillor Morvayn and leave Solstheim.
- Mirri: How about we kill you instead?
- Wulf: Even if you managed to kill me, which thousands of others have failed to do, what would that achieve? Your scheme is uncovered and can’t possibly succeed. The Dragonguard and Dragons would tear you apart.
- Mirri: We can take him, Tilisu. He doesn’t even have a weapon in his hand.
- Wulf: Don’t be a fool!
Mirri lunged at me with her dagger. Tilisu also attacked. Mirri looked surprised when I dodged, drew my sword and decapitated her. Tilisu died staring at Mirri’s head flying past hers.
I searched the corpses and found a key on Tilisu.
The house was quite large. Several small chests had nothing of use within them.
I eventually came across a safe that opened with the key I found on Tilisu. Inside the safe was the following letter,
“Dear Councillor Saldin,
In a matter of days, I believe we’ll be ready. Our forces in Ashfallow Citadel have been training night and day, prepared to strike when we give the signal. The timing seems perfect with Captain Veleth distracted by the Ash Spawn attacks. I’ve waited nearly a decade to exact my revenge upon Lleril Morvayn for the death of my ancestor, and I long for the moment my blade will be drawn across his throat. The following letter you’ll receive from me will include his head in a sack. Display it proudly in the halls of House Hlaalu, brother.
How stupid are these people? If their forces were supposed to be hidden within Ashfallow Citadel, why were there external sentries who attacked without provocation? Why tell Councillor Saldin where your forces are?
There was another letter in the safe. It was written on paper with a House Hlaalu watermark and read,
“The conditions here in Vvandenfell are worsening by the moment. Red Mountain spews a nearly non-stop gout of ash and flame, and I fear I cannot remain much longer. I’ve done what I could to preserve a few relics from the museum, but I have one very vital artefact that I am entrusting to you, dear Vendil. It is a relic that the great saint once held as a prize and one that both saved and doomed Morrowind in the end. The Dwemer Wraithguard of Kagrenac. I entrust it to you. Keep it safe, and once House Hlaalu is again in power, you can display it proudly. Guard it well and ensure it is well hidden in Skyrim.
Torosa Aram, Mournhold.”
Kagrenac’s artefacts are sought after by many. If Lorkhan’s Heart is ever found, The Tools of Kagrenac would be needed to create something from it. To wield the tools safely, The Wraithguard would be required. The Wraithguard must be hidden where people, such as the Hlaalu family, cannot treat it as a trophy for display. I will try and find it when I get a chance. Auryen might have some idea of its location.
I returned to The Retching Netch and walked over to Adril.
I handed Adril the letter to Councillor Sadin and said, “Here is your proof, Second Councillor.”
Adril quickly read the letter, and anger dominated his face.
He growled, “We finally have them! All that remains now is chasing them down and bringing them to justice.”
“The Dragonguard and I will eliminate them.”
“Good. I will send two of the best Redoran Guard we have to take them down. I want you to assist them any way you can.”
“No, you won’t. As good as the Redoran Guard are, their skills pale compared to ours. They would only get in our way, plus we can teleport there. They can’t.”
“Okay. I will wait in Morvayn Manor for your report.”
I gathered Daenlyn and the others.
I then teleported us to The Sun Stone.
- Wulf: We are to wipe out a nest of Morag Tong is Ashfallow Citadel.
- Iona: You didn’t find any inside when you and the others investigated that place.
- Wulf: There must be a hidden doorway.
- Dae: Are you doing this solo?
- Wulf: No. This task is not personal. I want this done quickly and efficiently.
- Daenlyn: Who hired the assassins?
- Wulf: The Severin family.
- Daenlyn: They are well-respected pillars of the community. I hope you have proof, or we will be very unpopular if we kill them.
- Wulf: I already killed two of them. But don’t worry, we have the proof.
Night-Vision made it as bright as midday for me.
We heard the sounds of battle and ran towards it. Two reavers were having a hard time against two boars.
We eliminated the reavers. Kyne marked one boar, but I let it live.
When Ashfallow Citadel came into view, I saw the bodies of two Redoran Guards on the stairs. A Morag Tong sentry stood on top of the stairs.
I whispered, “The bastards have killed some Redoran Guards!”
We used stealth, enhanced by the dweomer on our armour, and came within bow range.
My first arrow dropped the sentry at the top of the stairs. He fell with a clatter.
Another assassin came to investigate the noise.
My second arrow killed her.
We approached the entrance, and I could see no enemies with Heat-Vision.
We entered, and then the slaughter began. I killed every single Morag Tong before we reached the central chamber.
I whispered, “There are only four left. I will use Slow Time and eliminate them.”
I Shouted Slow Time, then cut all four Morag Tong down before my friends entered the chamber.
I inspected each body. The last one I turned over was recognised by Daenlyn, who said, “That is Vendil Severin.”
We searched Ashfallow Citadel but found nothing of use.
We then teleported to Raven Rock.
When we entered Morvayn Manor, Adril and Lleril were seated.
I said, “Please stand, Second Councillor.”
Adril stood next to me, and Lleril was perplexed.
- Adril: Well, what happened? Were you able to track down Vendil? Out with it!
- Jordis: Take my advice, Second Councillor, and be more polite. The General is not a servant or under your command.
- Adril: General Welkynd, please forgive me for my tone.
- Wulf: My skin is not as thin as Jordis thinks. You have been worrying about your friend and are eager to learn about his safety, so I understand your tone.
- Adril: So…
- Jordis: Ashfallow Keep was home to many assassins. We slew them all. Well, General Welkynd did. We just watched.
- Wulf: I killed Vendil. All assassins were dressed as Morag Tong, although we found no evidence of their official involvement.
- Lleril: Vendil dead? Assassins? And you, Adril, have not worn such a smile for a long time. Will somebody please explain what is going on?
- Adril: These visitors have dealt with a threat that could have ended your life. Vendil, Tilisu and Mirri Severin weren’t who they appeared to be. I’m afraid they were here to avenge Vilur Ulen’s death.
- Lleril: Vendil? But he’s done so much work for Raven Rock… how could this be possible?
- Adril: They did it to gain our confidence, Councillor. They had us all fooled, and I’m sorry. I should have been more vigilant.
- Lleril: Don’t say that. It’s not your fault, old friend.
- Wulf: Two Redoran Guards on patrol were killed by the assassins.
- Adril: I will inform Captain Veleth, and he can arrange their retrieval.
- Wulf: None of the assassins had a writ on them. If they were genuine Morag Tong, would they need to carry one by law?
- Adril: Yes, so now I think Vendil stooped so low that he impersonated those fetchers. I’m glad you killed him.
- Wulf: I would have preferred not killing anybody.
- Adril: You’ve succeeded where I’ve failed by ending the threat to Councillor Morvayn’s life. I shall not forget it.
- Wulf: We simply did what had to be done.
- Lleril: What you’ve done for me… for all of Raven Rock… goes beyond what I would have expected from travellers to our town. For this, you have my deepest gratitude.
- Wulf: It is my duty and privilege to help all mortals. Borders do not count in that regard. Much of what I accomplish is only possible because of the bravery of my friends, The Dragonguard.
- Lleril: Now, I have been told you do not like accepting compensation for what you do. But I must reward you appropriately for everything you have done. Since you will not take gold, I’ve decided to provide something more substantial. Since the Severin family, or whoever they were, turned out to be criminals, their property is now forfeit. Therefore, as Councillor, I hereby gift you Severin Manor and everything contained within.
- Dae: He will graciously accept and thank you.
- Wulf: Excuse me?
- Dae: A house on Solstheim could be useful.
- Daenlyn: It would be handy for mages who wish to holiday here.
- Dae: It would be even handier for ignorant bards who love the coin earned in The Retched Netch.
- Adril: I will have the bodies removed, and the floor scrubbed.
- Wulf: I humbly accept your generous gift, Councillor Morvayn.
- Dae: Wulf, may I suggest you return to the Safe House and get some rest? Tomorrow, while you visit Master Neloth, The Dragonguard will remove any reminders of the Severin family, replace all the linen and make the house more comfortable. We will help the Second Councillor clean up the mess. We shall also search the entire house for anything related to this plot.
- Adril: That is an excellent suggestion.
- Wulf: Okay. At least let me walk you to the front door before I teleport.
- Adril: I will come and join you soon. I will have to tell the Captain about his men first.
We left the two old friends to discuss the assassination plot. They were undoubtedly deciding what other moves might be necessary within the rules of Morrowind Politics to punish the conspirators.
I walked my friends to the front door of Severin Manor. On the way, I spoke to Rigmor.
“My beloved, I will be there in a few minutes and look forward to a hot spa.”
“Well then, that is where I will be waiting. Don’t take too long! You can tell me all about the assassination plot!”
We arrived at the door to Severin Manor, and I handed Dae the key.
- Dae: You aren’t coming inside?
- Wulf: I would rather see the house after it has been cleaned.
- Jordis: Don’t worry, Wulf. Iona and I will supervise.
- Wulf: Make sure the bedding is tasteful. In other words, don’t let Dae choose it.
- Dae: Hey! I have good taste.
- Iona: Bad taste.
- Dae: How about some help here, Daenlyn?
- Daenlyn: The ladies don’t need my help.
- Dae: What about me?
- Daenlyn: You need help. I wonder where you will find some?
- Meeko: Woof!
- Wulf: Okay, Meeko, we are leaving. I am sure there is plenty of food in the Safe House’s pantry, so stop worrying.
I teleported to the Safe House and headed for the spa. Meeko headed for the kitchen with Inigo.
A smiling, naked Rigmor greeted me when I entered the spa room. I was delighted to see a tray stacked with cold meats, cheeses and bread on the edge of the spa.
Our Quiet surrounded us as we soaked, ate and talked.