Middas, 29th Frostfall, 4E 201
& Turdas, 30th Frostfall, 4E 201
While breaking our fast, I briefed the group about the problem with the assassins. I also told them we would visit Master Neloth to see if he could direct us to another Black Book.
After everybody had changed into their armour, we gathered for our return to Solstheim.
- Rigmor: Are you going to confront Neloth about his apprentice who resurrected General Carius?
- Wulf: Not at first. I don’t want to antagonise Neloth. His help might be crucial in dealing with Miraak.
- Inigo: My friend, why are we seeing Neloth before investigating the tomb of The Jailor?
- Wulf: I have concluded that Vahlok will be hostile, even if our common enemy is Miraak. Before I visit Neloth and see what he knows, it is not worth the risk. I think every Dragon Priest that became a Lich will be hostile simply because we are alive.
- Lydia: Will we visit the tomb later?
- Wulf: Yes, because all Dragon Priests need to be neutralised.
- Felix: Do you know enough about Miraak?
- Wulf: I know that Lord Akatosh chose him for a reason and that Miraak is not Mora’s puppet. I believe if I offer him mercy, the part of him wanting to fight chaos will come to the fore.
- Felix: You are confident of defeating him?
- Wulf: Miraak made a mistake when he used a Shout in my presence. I now know the strength of his Thu’um and that I am many times stronger. He cast a spell at me. Therefore, I know the strength of his Magicka, which is also far weaker than mine. From his movements, I could tell he was likely a competent warrior. However, I don’t intend to cross swords with him.
- Rigmor: If you get him to accept mercy, how will he escape Apocrypha?
- Wulf: I could try teleporting him out, but doing so from Oblivion can be problematic. If I give him one of the Black Books, he can read it, and Mora’s dweomer will return him to Nirn.
- Rigmor: Felix, don’t worry. Wulf is very good at determining somebody’s character. He would not allow Miraak to return to Nirn if he thought he was a danger to anybody.
- Felix: How did you know I was worried about that?
- Rigmor: I applied logic. And if you laugh, my dear Dragonborn, the consequences shall be severe!
- Wulf: What if I express genuine admiration for your deductive reasoning?
- Rigmor: Celestine, is deductive reasoning a good thing to have?
- Celestine: Yes, Rigmor. It is what you use when being logical.
- Rigmor: In that case, my dear Dragonborn, I would be most pleased.
- Wulf: Then, Countess Rigmor Ragnarsdottier, I am in awe of your deductive reasoning. Your posterior is quite lovely as well.
As everybody laughed, I teleported us to The Sun Stone.
It was a relatively short walk to Tel Mithryn.
We stopped underneath one of the giant mushrooms.
- Rigmor: I wonder if you can eat them?
- Wulf: That is probably not advisable. The Telvanni use the souls of Daedra to grow them.
- Celestine: They capture the souls of Storm Atronachs, Winged Twilights or Golden Saints into a Grand Soul Gem. One of those Soul Gems will be at the base of each giant mushroom.
- Rigmor: What are Winged Twilights?
- Wulf: Lurkers and Seekers are the minions of Hermaeus Mora. Winged Twilights are the minions of Lady Azura.
- Celestine: They are beautiful women with the wings and talons of an eagle. Some believe they are a modified form of Harpy, which in turn are supposed to be creations of Lady Nocturnal.
- Rigmor: I have heard of Harpies. Don’t they live in the Iliac Bay area?
- Wulf: Yes, but they have migrated in the past. However, their presence is not tolerated, and small colonies are quickly eliminated.
- Rigmor: We fought a Golden Saint on the way to Aedriath’s hideaway.
- Meeko: Grrrr!
- Rigmor: Yes, the golden lady that fired those cool arrows at you.
- Meeko: Woof?
- Rigmor: They were white and shiny and, therefore, cool.
- Meeko: Woof!
- Rigmor: You have a valid point, Meeko. I might not call them cool if several arrows were embedded in me. However, you are white and shiny and very cool!
- Meeko: Woof!
- Celestine: Golden Saints are the minions of Uncle Sheo.
- Felix: Uncle Sheo? Oh, you mean…
- Rigmor: Don’t say his name, Felix! Wulf says that attracts that Dark Lord’s attention.
- Wulf: I don’t know why the Telvanni can only use the souls of those three types of Daedra to grow their mushrooms.
- Inigo: My friend, I was going to ask that. I was also going to ask why they live in giant mushrooms.
- Wulf: The mushrooms require far less raw materials such as stone and wood. Plus, the larger towers where Telvanni nobles reside provide better security.
- Inigo: How?
- Wulf: When you see inside Neloth’s home, it will become self-explanatory.
We approached a young mage who seemed to be studying a spell book and practising casting a spell. A Dunmer woman stood behind him. The mage was wearing Adept Robes of Conjuration. Listening to the incantation, it was apparent he was trying to summon an Atronach species known as Ash Guardian. If your skill is not high enough, a catalyst is required to summon some creatures and keep them under control.
After several failed attempts, the woman spoke to him.
- Varona: Talvas, why are you out here? Aren’t you supposed to be in the tower assisting Master Neloth?
- Talvas: If you must know, Verona, I’m trying to get this Ash Guardian spell to work. Now let me concentrate. Besides, shouldn’t you be more worried about the damage to the tower?
- Varona: Master Neloth has tasked Elynea with repairing the tower. Why aren’t you doing this in the lab, where it would be safer for all of us?
- Talvas: Nothing. The, uh… the lab is too small. Also, I need ashy soil. Master Neloth knows what I’m doing. No need to bother him about it, though. He’s quite busy at the moment.
- Varona: It’s on your head if something goes wrong. Just let me get back inside first.
- Talvas: I don’t understand why there is no Ash Guardian. Maybe the book has something? Tort bones? That doesn’t even make sense. I’ll just ignore that part.
The pair had seemed not to notice the heavily armed and armoured strangers standing nearby.
- Wulf: Excuse me. I am Wulf Welkynd, and these are my friends. We are here to speak to Master Neloth.
- Talvas: Greetings, I am Mage Talvas Fathryon. Does Master Neloth know about you?
- Varona: Everybody knows who Wulf Welkynd and the heroes with him are!
- Talvas: Okay, Varona, who are they?
- Varona: Wulf is The Dragonborn, and his friends are called The Dragonguard.
- Talvas: Oh… um… of course, I knew that.
- Varona: Honoured visitors, I am Varona Nelas, Master Neloth’s Steward. Welcome to Tel Mithryn.
- Rigmor: Thank you for your warm welcome, Varona. Perhaps you can teach Talvas some manners? You might have to wait till he has stopped embarrassing himself first.
- Talvas: What do you mean? I am simply trying to cast a highly complex spell.
- Celestine: That summoning spell is beyond your ability without a catalyst. If you let Wulf or I look at the spell, we can tell you what catalyst is needed.
- Talvas: No, this is a spell known only to a few people. You just want to steal it. Ask Master Neloth if he will sell you a spellbook!
- Inigo: If you ever again accuse any of us of such dishonesty, I shall beat you till you are as blue as me. Understood?
- Talvas: Look, I’m having trouble deciphering Master Neloth’s handwriting. I don’t mean to be rude, but I need to concentrate.
- Wulf: You work with Master Neloth?
- Talvas: Not so much with, as for. I am Master Neloth’s apprentice. He’s teaching me the art of sorcery.
- Wulf: It is a great honour to train with a Telvanni Wizard-Lord. He must be an excellent teacher.
- Talvas: Um. He is, ahh, a very great wizard. And it is a great honour for him to have taken me as his apprentice.
- Rigmor: You sound uncertain.
- Talvas: Well, to be honest, it’s horrible. He’s very unpleasant and hardly teaches me anything. Sometimes he uses me in his experiments. Even so, I pick up a lot from just watching him.
- Wulf: Does he have more than one apprentice?
- Talvas: No, just the one.
- Wulf: What can you tell me about Ildari Sarothril?
- Talvas: Ildari was Master Neloth’s apprentice before me. I never met her. Master Neloth took me on because she died. I heard it was messy.
- Wulf: How long ago did Ildari die?
- Talvas: I am not sure. I have been here five years, so on or before 4E 196.
- Varona: We don’t get many visitors.
- Rigmor: I am fascinated by the giant mushrooms!
- Varona: In Morrowind, the Telvanni grow buildings from particular fungus spores. Master Neloth grew one here to be his home. Don’t ask me how.
- Rigmor: What are your duties?
- Varona: I manage the day-to-day affairs of Tel Mithryn.
- Talvas: And brew that damned tea of his!
- Rigmor: Who else lives here?
- Varona: Talvas, myself and Master Neloth. There is also Elynea, our alchemist who specialises in mushrooms and other types of fungus. And Ulves runs the kitchens.
- Rigmor: I assume the largest mushroom is Master Neloth’s home?
- Verona: Yes, head up that ramp.
We headed up the ramp pointed to by Verona. On the door, the symbol of House Telvanni was proudly displayed.
When we entered, Rigmor asked, “How are we supposed to get way up there?”
“This is why these large mushrooms are so secure. You can only get to the top by using the magic lift, which can be deactivated. Watch.”
I stepped into the centre of the lift and slowly rose upwards.
As I stepped onto the platform, Celestine floated behind me.
Then Rigmor followed and could not suppress an excited “Wheeee!” as she floated up.
When all my friends arrived on the top floor, we approached Master Neloth.
- Neloth: You again. Didn’t I see you in Raven Rock?
- Wulf: Well, it couldn’t be me again if you had not met me at least once.
- Neloth: Good point! However, I don’t recall inviting you into my tower. I do hope you make this worth my while.
- Rigmor: Master Neloth, Varona allowed us entry. She welcomed us warmly. Therefore, logically, an invite was not required. Hence, I advise you to watch your manners!
- Neloth: And who are you to tell me how to behave?
- Wulf: Milady is of higher noble rank than you, Master Neloth. So is Mage Celestine. Either of them will give you a well-deserved tongue lashing if need be.
- Neloth: Well then, we must avoid that at all costs. Tell me, Dragonborn, why are you here?
- Wulf: I was informed that you have knowledge concerning the Black Books.
- Neloth: You refer to the tomes of esoteric knowledge that old Hermaeus Mora has scattered throughout the world? What could you know of them?
- Wulf: I have two of them, which I have read and used to traverse Apocrypha. I need others to end Miraak’s threat.
- Neloth: You’ve got the look. I can see it now. Dangerous knowledge is still knowledge and therefore useful. It usually turns out to be the most useful, in my experience.
- Wulf: Master Neloth, I am merely trying to save everybody on Solstheim from becoming enslaved by Miraak. The danger to me in Apocrypha is negligible. I need more information, so I can voluntarily risk my life by confronting Miraak! That is the real peril I face!
- Rigmor: Wulf does not seek knowledge for the sake of it or as a path to power! He is already more intelligent and powerful than you.
- Neloth: Young lady, I am likely the greatest wizard you will ever meet. Who else do you think could create a staff enchanter?
- Wulf: I purchased stolen schematics of your invention and made several staff enchanters. However, I improved the original design.
- Neloth: If I ever catch that thief, they will regret their existence!
- Celestine Wulf and I are Masters of every school of Magicka! The Psijic Order taught Wulf. Therefore, I would be careful about your boast of being the greatest wizard.
- Wulf: Can we discuss the Black Books now?
- Neloth: Hermaeus Mora has always tried to seduce mortals into his service with the lure of forbidden knowledge. Where the Black Books came from… no one knows. Some appear to have been written in the past, while others might be from the future. Apparently, time is more malleable if you’re a Daedric Prince of fate and destiny.
- Wulf: Like all Daedric Princes, he has adopted a fancy title. He has no power over anybody’s fate or destiny. Mora can’t even control Miraak!
- Neloth: You keep mentioning Miraak. Is he the one the townsfolk are always chanting about?
- Rigmor: We have already stopped that chanting and released the All-Maker Stones from Miraak’s grip. People are no longer under Miraak’s control.
- Wulf: You can think about Miraak now without confusion. You could not do that when last we spoke.
- Neloth: I remember meeting you but not discussing Miraak. I knew something connected with Hermaeus Mora was spreading its influence across the island. I wasn’t sure that it was, in fact, the same deity as this legendary namesake of the central temple. However, the villagers seem entirely convinced.
- Wulf: Miraak is not a deity! He is a mortal, a Dragonborn as I am. He is a traitor to The Divines, the Dov he once served and most probably Hermaeus Mora. The villagers do not revere him now that we have removed his dweomer. The small number of followers he does have are delusional. Are you afraid of Hermaeus Mora?
- Neloth: Hermaeus Mora should not be trifled with! But he is subtler than most of his ilk, appropriate for the prince of knowledge and fate. Many scholars and loremasters have been ensnared by the lure of learning the secrets that only Hermaeus Mora possesses. But don’t worry. I have no intention of joining them in their endless search through the infinite halls of Apocrypha.
- Rigmor: Wulf has dealt with several Daedric Princes face to face within their realms of Oblivion. They were as close as you are to him right now, yet he remains unscathed. He is well aware of their snares and traps. Their weapons are words and promises which are ineffective against his armour of morality and free will.
- Wulf: As I said, Hermaeus Mora has no power over fate or destiny! He hoards knowledge because that is his nature. In the same as a dog that drools over a bone and then buries it, never remembering he ever had it. Mora has collected and stored a fraction of the knowledge possessed by those who created all you see. Those builders include The Divines. I have refused to be Mora’s Champion and will continue to do so. I refused the knowledge he offered while I was in Apocrypha. I even refused to read The Oghma Infinium.
- Neloth: You found the Oghma Infinium?
- Wulf: Yes, and I have placed that abomination where no Daedric worshipper will ever travel. It can snare no more souls for that foul Dark Lord!
- Neloth: It seems you are more equipped to deal with Hermaeus Mora than those who fall prey to his words and promises. I can find Black Books. They’re not hard to locate once you know how to look for them. I have one here that I have been using to discover more.
- Wulf: The Black Book you possess is not the one I require?
- Neloth: I haven’t been idle while this fascinating madness engulfed Solstheim. But my book isn’t what you’re looking for as I’m pretty sure it is unconnected with this Miraak. But I do know where to find the Black Book that can help you.
- Rigmor: You can determine the subject matter of a Black Book without reading it?
- Neloth: Yes, and the one I possess is clearly not associated with the same power that has overtaken the island. And I’m not talking about Hermaeus Mora. These Black Books are all his, of course. No, you’re looking for a specific book, presumably because Miraak’s power derives from it.
- Wulf: You’re mistaken, Master Neloth.
- Neloth: I doubt that but amuse me with an explanation.
- Wulf: A Black Book might be able to teach Miraak a Word of Power. It cannot teach him how to use the Words of Power within a Shout. That knowledge comes from the souls of dragons or is transferred via the Thu’um from another being. If stuck in Apocrypha, Miraak would likely rely on Hermaeus Mora to transfer the knowledge required to use a Shout.
- Neloth: I admit, your knowledge of The Voice exceeds mine.
- Wulf: You can’t know what knowledge will be imparted by a Black Book because Hermaeus Mora determines that after a being has traversed Apocrypha. For example, if a Black Book only taught Words of Power, what use would that be to a thief or warrior? They would not be tempted by irrelevant knowledge, and Mora would lose them as potential recruits.
- Felix: I have never seen somebody beaten up by logic! This conversation is highly amusing.
- Wulf: Each Black Book transfers you to a different part of Apocrypha. Hermaeus Mora did not appear when I first entered Apocrypha, but Miraak did. I believe Miraak has claimed that area as his and barred Mora. As soon as I appeared in another part of Apocrypha, Mora appeared and lied. To prove the power of free will and my disdain for his forbidden knowledge, I refused what he offered and returned to Nirn. Mora will think I need his help to find Miraak. Maybe I do, but I will not bargain my morality for it!
- Celestine: That is why, Master Neloth, Wulf seeks the Black Books. He is not interested in obtaining knowledge that only makes him more powerful.
- Neloth: I see you have learnt quickly by reading them what decades of research revealed to me.
- Wulf: I will read each Black Book till I find the one that leads me to Miraak. We will ignore the one you already have for now.
- Rigmor: Can you tell us where this other Black Book is?
- Neloth: I can, but I haven’t been able to get it by myself. Maybe together, we can unlock the secrets the Dwemer left behind.
- Wulf: I find it ironic that Hermaeus Mora needed my help to open a Dwemer Lockbox, and now their greed also protects the Black Book.
- Rigmor: That demonstrated how little power the Daedric Princes have upon Nirn. Hermaeus Mora needed a mortal to help obtain what was inside the Dwemer Lockbox.
- Neloth: Forbidden knowledge was somewhat a speciality of the dwarves, eh?
- Wulf: I know the magic Miraak used to corrupt the All-Maker Stones. It involves the Thu’um and a particular Shout. It is a Shout that I hope to avoid having to use on a mortal or Dov. With it, I could command armies of Dov. I could bend the will of Emperors, Kings and Queens with it. Even you would be at my mercy.
- Neloth: If it is so powerful, why did Miraak remain hidden?
- Wulf: I think Hermaeus Mora kept him in stasis until Alduin appeared.
- Neloth: I have seen the dragon skeletons surrounding his temple. Surely with this Shout, he could enslave any dragons that attacked him?
- Wulf: Every time you use a Shout, you must wait before using another. The length of a pause is dependent on many factors. The Shout in question has a considerable delay associated with it. Without troops to keep the Dov occupied, Miraak would quickly perish as he waited for his chance to use the Shout again.
- Neloth: If you do not want to use the Shout, how will you defeat Miraak?
- Wulf: I know the Shout already as it was taught to me by Lady Kynareth or Kyne if you prefer. I don’t need to use that Shout to defeat Miraak in combat. I need to get close to him. I will figure out how I get to him physically as I go. That is what I do.
- Rigmor: If Wulf couldn’t quickly formulate and enable plans, we would all be dead. He has saved your life several times, Master Neloth.
- Wulf: And now I wish to save you from mindless servitude. So where do we go to steal the Black Book from the Dwemer?
- Neloth: It seems the ancient Dwemer discovered this Black Book and took it to study. I have found their ‘reading room’ in the ruins of Nchardak. The book is there, but it’s sealed in a protective case which I couldn’t open. But perhaps we can work together and will be able to get the book.
- Wulf: Nchardak is not far from here.
- Neloth: To Nchardak, then. Follow me!
Neloth stepped onto the lift and floated down. I was next.
When Rigmor followed, she couldn’t resist another, “Wheeee!”
I telepathically asked her, “Is it that much fun?”
“Yes! Don’t you find it fun?”
“Maybe if you were wearing a skirt, it might be entertaining.”
“I think we have well and truly established who the pervert is.”
“You made me that way!”
“I think I will make one of these lifts at Silverpeak Lodge.”
“Should I wear a skirt?”
“It will lead to one of the spas, so maybe naked?”
“If you are naked, I must watch you float down. Things will be swinging in the wind!”
“Who’s the pervert?”
We were soon assembled inside the entrance.
- Wulf: Master Neloth, have you fought Dwemer Automatons before?
- Neloth: I have spells that can damage them but prefer not to put myself in harm’s way. That is why you and your friends will come in handy!
- Lydia: It would probably be best if you don’t get in our way. I would hate to scrape you from the bottom of my boots.
- Felix: Lydia’s correct. How can we selflessly sacrifice ourselves for Master Neloth if he gets in our way?
- Neloth: That’s the spirit!
- Wulf: I think sarcasm is wasted on Master Neloth.
We trotted behind Neloth, happy for him to stumble upon any enemies in his rush.
Two Ash Spawn came towards us. I quickly leapt in front of Neloth and cut them down.
I told Neloth, “It took you too long to summon the Ash Guardian. The Ash Spawn would have ripped you apart if I was not here.”
“But you were here, so all is well, don’t you think?”
As we approached Nchardak, I used Heat-Vision and Zoom-Vision to scout for enemies.
Neloth stopped to admire the Dwemer ruins.
- Neloth: The Dwemer certainly knew how to build for the ages. Those towers have outlasted their creators by millennia.
- Wulf: The place is infested with reavers.
- Neloth: How can you tell from here?
- Wulf: I have the eyesight of a dragon.
- Neloth: Fascinating! Can I…
- Lydia: If you suggest experimenting on Wulf, I shall be forced to punch you in the nose.
- Rigmor: We would stand in line, waiting for our turn to punch you in the nose.
- Meeko: Grr!
- Neloth: Oh. Well, the book is housed inside that dome. I’ll need to unlock the door for us. Let’s get on with it.
- Wulf: Have they used Tonal Locks?
- Neloth: I should have known you would have visited your share of Dwemer ruins. No, in Nchardak, they use Control Cubes. You will see what I mean.
- Rigmor: I advise you to stay behind us while eliminating the reavers.
- Neloth: Hmm. This place was deserted when I was here last.
- Rigmor: Solstheim is riddled with reavers. I don’t think there are enough Redoran Guards to control them.
- Neloth: Morrowind politics. I heard the mine is now open. Maybe the Councillor can argue for more to be sent.
- Wulf: Wait while I remove some of the reavers.
- Neloth: From here?
- Wulf: Yes, but if they are smart, they will find cover after the first of them gets smeared against the buildings.
- Felix: Oh, how sad. We might have to cut the ones that hide into little pieces.
I killed a few reavers with Unrelenting Force. Neloth’s raised eyebrows indicated he was surprised at the strength of my Thu’um.
We then trotted quickly towards the ruins, and the surviving reavers had no choice but to expose themselves. Their bid to stop us was an act of desperate futility.
I ran as I killed and waited for the others to catch up.
Neloth eventually reached the entrance and then stood before a pedestal.
- Neloth: Maybe now we can finally begin what we came here for.
- Lydia: I think you meant to say, ‘Thank you, Wulf, for killing the reavers.’
- Neloth: I don’t praise people for doing their duties efficiently. It is an expected outcome that should require no encouragement.
- Rigmor: Now I know why the ravers yelled, ‘Kill the Telvanni bastard!’
- Neloth: The Dwemer of Nchardak appear to have been fond of these control pedestals. Luckily, on my last visit, I found a Control Cube to operate them. I sealed the door when I left to keep out ignorant meddlers. Let me unlock it. The book is just inside.
- Wulf: I have an Attunement Sphere with me in case they use those.
- Inigo: Is that what we used to enter Blackreach?
- Wulf: Yes.
- Rigmor: You will take me there one day, won’t you?
- Wulf: Of course. Apart from the odd dragon and thousands of Falmer, it is a pleasant place to visit.
- Neloth: You have been to Blackreach?
- Wulf: Yes. Mainly to obtain an Elder Scroll for me to read but also to transcribe it onto a Dwemer Lexicon for Hermaeus Mora.
- Neloth: You have read an Elder Scroll and are not blind?
- Wulf: I needed to read it to go back in time and learn how to defeat Alduin.
- Neloth: You told me you were not cooperating with Hermaeus Mora.
- Wulf: I didn’t know I was aiding him at the time.
- Neloth: And there is a machine to transcribe Elder Scrolls?
- Wulf: As you said before, Dwemer specialised in forbidden knowledge.
- Neloth: You went back in time?
- Wulf: My consciousness did. Alduin was there, and he would not have appreciated a Dragonborn popping out of the ether. My soul is that of a dragon which makes me sensitive to the flow of time. Using the Elder Scroll within a Time Wound, I observed the Ancient Tongues battle Alduin.
- Neloth: I hope you have been writing down your observations for future historians!
- Rigmor: He does. Every night.
- Neloth: Good. When you finally die a horrible death on one of these adventures, we shall at least have a record of previous ones and know not to replicate your last.
- Wulf: You don’t have many friends, do you?
- Neloth: Superfluous.
Neloth removed the large Control Cube from under his robes.
Felix looked puzzled, so Rigmor whispered to him, “Master Neloth’s robes are four-dimensional, like Wulf’s journal case.”
When Neloth placed the Control Cube on the pedestal, a red light showed it had been accepted, and then the gate blocking the entrance slid aside.
Neloth picked up the cube, and then we made our way inside.
On the floor was a cylindrical vault containing the Black Book.
- Neloth: You can see the book right there. So tantalisingly close… But trust me, no magic will open that. I’d have had the book already if I could. No, we’ll have to do this the hard way. If we can restore the steam supply to this room, I’m confident I can open it. As you’ll see, that’s easier said than done.
- Wulf: Can you feel and hear the pulses emanating from it?
- Neloth: No, but my research indicated those who have read one are then attuned to them.
- Wulf: I have found the same with Word Walls.
- Lydia: Wouldn’t that be maddening for any Dwemer who had read one?
- Wulf: Yes, but it serves them right!
- Lydia: There are four lenses on the floor.
- Wulf: I assume light must shine upon all four lenses to unlock the vault. It will have to be of a particular frequency.
- Lydia: Restoring the steam supply will drive the machinery to make that light.
- Neloth: You are pretty intelligent for a Nord.
- Inigo: Sometimes, she even puts her underwear on the right way around.
- Lydia: I am brighter than any blue Khajiit!
- Neloth: That is abundantly apparent. Come, the boilers are this way.
Lydia looked at Inigo and gave him a wonderfully childish raspberry.
Neloth used the Control Cube to open some more gates and unlock doors which swung open. That gave us access to a Dwemer Lift.
The lift took us deep underground.
We raced ahead of Neloth to deal with several Dwemer automatons.
Inigo and Meeko dived into water to confront two Dwemer Spiders. Thanks to Psijic training, I could cast some spells without speaking.
I dived in and cast Thunderbolt at one enemy, which exploded and zapped Meeko and Inigo.
I could hear fighting on the surface. Meeko left to help those above.
Thunderbolt destroyed the second automaton, and we returned to the surface.
The Dragonguard had destroyed a powerful automaton.
We stood before some more pedestals.
Neloth said, “The last time I was here, I only explored a small part of the ruins. I was here alone then, and I find assistants are absolutely essential for this kind of dirty, dangerous work
“Master Neloth, we are here to aid the people of Nirn, and you are assisting us. Don’t confuse the roles being played.”
“Pedantic, aren’t you? Nchardak was called The City of a Hundred Towers. It was the largest of the great Dwemer Archives and perhaps the most advanced. In the old stories, when the Nords came to conquer it, the Dwemer submerged the entire city beneath the sea until the invaders gave up. I have my doubts. But the city was a marvel of Dwemer engineering. Now reduced to this.”
Inigo quipped, “The Dwemer probably threw soap into the water to deter the Nords even further!”
Neloth continued, “That was humour, wasn’t it? A waste of time if you ask me. As you can see, most of the city’s lower levels are flooded. But it isn’t hopeless – the old Dwemer pumps still seem to work. Watch.”
Neloth placed the Control Cube on one of the pedestals.
Hidden pumps could be heard, and the water level dropped. As boilers emerged their insides started to glow.
I said, “The four boilers have control pedestals. I assume that each one requires a Control Cube to open valves and start the pumps. The pumps force steam into the room with the Black Book. The steam is used to operate machinery that produces light beams of a certain frequency. Four beams of light strike the four lenses on the ground, allowing the opening of the Black Book’s receptacle.”
“Correct, so we need four more Control Cubes. Bring this cube. We may need it.”
I removed the Control Cube from the pedestal, and the water rose to its previous level.
We then followed Neloth to a machine that I could not decipher. Luckily, he could.
He explained, “Yes… here we are. This device shows the location of four more cubes in this city section. It looks like most of the cubes were moved to the lower levels, perhaps to control the flooding before the city was abandoned. Interesting. That would suggest that the city must have originally sunk during the first cataclysm of Red Mountain. Or that the Dwemer’s servitors continued to try to preserve the city after their creators’ disappearance.”
We walked to a door protected by a closed gate.
Neloth said, “Three of the cubes are through here, so this seems like a sensible place to start. You should be able to unseal this door with the control cube I gave you.”
I placed the cube on the pedestal, which unlocked the door.
(The rest of our trip through Nchardak involved finding cubes and killing automatons. Like all Dwemer ruins, I found Nchardak to be monotonous and mind-numbing. There is no need to describe it in detail.)
Neloth quickly learnt to shut up and let us solve puzzles and figure out what to do next. Despite his age, he had a fraction of our experience when it came to traversing ancient ruins.
We eventually arrived back at the water pump with the required number of cubes.
I placed a Control Cube onto a pedestal to lower the water and allow access to the four boilers.
After enabling the four boilers with the other four Control Cubes, a bridge lowered and a Dwemer Centurion attacked.
I quickly dispensed with the Centurion and another automaton that attacked.
We then went to the Dwemer Lift, which took us to the room with the Black Book.
On a pedestal was a blue button. I pressed it then beams of light hit the four lenses.
The receptacle containing the Black Book opened, and the floor of the receptacle rose.
The sound of machinery stopped, and the Black Book sat pulsing upon a pedestal.
- Lydia: I was right about the light!
- Wulf: And you are a poet but didn’t know it.
- Inigo: Please don’t try and rhyme all the time.
- Neloth: If you don’t mind, some things need doing!
- Wulf: Master Neloth, be my guest. Go ahead and read the book if you are in such a hurry.
- Neloth: Um… Please… be my guest. You deserve the first look. Besides, it could be perilous. These books are known to drive many people insane.
- Wulf: Not everybody believes madness to be a curse. For some, it is the greatest of blessings. Bitter mercy perhaps, but mercy non the less.
- Neloth: That is good. Did you make that up?
- Wulf: No, Sheogorath did when he was still a mortal. He liked it when I quoted it back to him. I mean the new Uncle Sheo, not the old one who is now Jygallag.
- Neloth: You spoke to Sheogorath?
- Wulf: Yes, when I was inside the head of a dead emperor.
- Rigmor: The General has read two Black Books and talked to Sheogorath yet remains completely sane.
- Wulf: ALBATROSS!
- Rigmor: Well, mostly sane.
I grabbed Rigmor and gave her a decent smooch.
- Wulf: That is the most incredibly nice thing you have ever said about me.
- Rigmor: Wulf, please don’t aggravate the tentacled turd.
- Wulf: I might not see him or Miraak. This visit may be a knowledge-gathering trip.
- Neloth: Be sure to say hello to Hermaeus Mora for me if you do see him.
I read the Black Book, and tentacles dragged me into Apocrypha.
(As with our trip through Nchardak, I will not bore those reading this journal with a description of my monotonous journey through Apocrypha. There was nothing different from my previous trip. This one was, unfortunately, much longer than the last. It was just another mind-numbing maze to solve while eliminating weak Daedra.)
I eventually reached the Black Book at the end of the maze and opened it.
Hermaeus Mora then made an appearance.
In his gurgling drawl, Mora said, “Once again, you have entered my realm. You seek the forbidden knowledge that only one other has obtained.”
“I am looking for Miraak, not searching for forbidden knowledge.”
“You are Dragonborn, and like Miraak, you are a seeker of knowledge and power.”
“I seek knowledge for the betterment and defence of others. As I believe Miraak did before falling for your falsehoods.”
“All that Miraak knows he learned from me.”
“And that is why I am so much stronger than he is. All Miraak learned from you was how to lose against Vahlok.”
“You will not defeat him without my help.”
“Lord Mora, why do you aid me in my hunt for Miraak?”
“He has served me long and well. But he grows restless under my guidance. His desire to return to your world will spread my influence more widely. But it will also set him free from my direct control. It may be time to replace him with a more loyal servant. One who still appreciates the gifts I have to offer.”
“I could have killed Miraak the first time I met him. I have given him time to use his free will and decide his future. He is not subject to predetermined fate! He rejected you long ago and has not served you at all. Not once has he acted as your servant within the mortal plane. If he had, The Greybeards would have known. You panicked when Alduin returned because you feared this Kalpa would end. You freed Miraak from stasis because you hoped he would defeat Alduin and did not know I existed. You did not know Miraak would once again prove rebellious. Is my summation accurate, Lord Mora?”
Mora remained silent. I am not adept at reading the body language of a multi-tentacled, multi-eyed avatar of a Daedric Prince. However, I am positive the Dark Lord was surprised by the accuracy of my summation.
I continued, “Lord Mora, I will never serve you. Yet, you need me to stop Miraak because you can’t.”
“You will serve me, willing or not. All who seek after the secrets of the world are my servants.”
“I need to find a way to reach Miraak. I can do that without your help!”
“No, look around. You have done nothing here on your own. You could spend a hundred lifetimes searching my library, and you will never find what you seek!”
“I can leave whenever I wish and ask my gods for assistance.”
“Why go through that effort? I know what you want. You desire to use your power as Dragonborn to bend the world to your will. Here is the knowledge you need, although you did not know you needed it. I gift you the second Word of Power. Use it to bend the wills of mortals to your purpose.”
The second Word of the Bend Will Shout is Hah, which means ‘mind’. The Power Word appeared before Hermaeus Mora, then faded after I read it. Mora then tried to gift me the knowledge to use it. He did not realise I already knew the Word and Shout.
It became evident that Hermaeus Mora was going to continue his falsehoods. I decided not to refute him further and play the game he desired.
“Lord Mora, you are right, and I need your help. I thank you for that gift of knowledge.”
“It is not enough. Miraak knows the final Word of Power. Without that, you cannot hope to surpass him. Miraak served me well, and he was rewarded. I can grant you the same power he wields, but all knowledge has its price.”
“What is the price?”
“Knowledge in exchange for knowledge. The Skaal have withheld their secrets from me for many long years. The time has come for this knowledge to be added to my library.”
“That knowledge is not mine to give.”
“My servant Miraak would have found a way to bring me what I want. You will as well if you wish to surpass him.”
“Why do you think I need the third Word of Power?”
“Even dragons submit to Miraak’s Voice. Without that power, you cannot face him. Says I, Hermaeus Mora, master of the tides of Fate.”
I suddenly realised what a fool I had been. The path to Miraak was obvious.
I used my Thu’um and said, “THE THIRD WORD OF POWER OF THE BEND WILL SHOUT IS DOV, WHICH MEANS DRAGON. I KNEW THE SHOUT BEFORE COMING TO SOLSTHEIM, THANKS TO LADY KYNARETH. MIRAAK IS WHERE I FIRST MET HIM. I WILL READ WAKING DREAMS ONCE MORE AND ENTER THAT PART OF APOCRYPHA. AND THERE, WITHOUT USING BEND WILL, I WILL DEFEAT MIRAAK. SAYS I, VALDR SEPTIM, DRAGONCHILD, CHAMPION OF THE DIVINES.”
Even within Apocrypha, my Thu’um echoed with its power.
“I am not surprised you do not know what that means.”
“You are a Septim?”
“I am the son of gods, Lord Mora. I am the only mortal to be born a Dragonborn. Your lies are wasted on me.”
Hermaeus Mora faded from sight without another word.
The knowledge offered would strengthen my Thu’um in different ways.
I said aloud, “Once again, I reject the knowledge you offer. Lady Kynareth and dragon allies provided me with superior knowledge. Even if they had not done so, I would not accept knowledge from you, Lord Mora.”
I opened my copy of the Black Book and returned to Nchardak.
- Neloth: What happened? What did you see? Different people have very different experiences when reading these books.
- Wulf: I saw the same boring Apocrypha as the last two visits. Miraak did not appear, but I talked with Hermaeus Mora.
- Neloth: What did he have to say? He must have wanted something from you.
- Wulf: Yes, he wants something like every other Daedric Prince with who I have dealt.
- Rigmor: Azura never asked you for anything.
- Wulf: She wanted me to rescue her daughter and then Nirn.
- Neloth: Azura has a daughter?
- Wulf: Celestial daughter. She is really annoying and very whiny!
- Rigmor: And she is quite capable of kicking men in the wedding tackle when they go too far!
- Neloth: Wedding tackle?
- Rigmor: Just a name for male genitals I learnt from an idiot.
- Neloth: You two are…
- Inigo: Weird?
- Neloth: Yes, that is an apt description.
- Lydia: The blue Khajiit who speaks to dragonflies is commenting on weird again.
- Inigo: A dragonfly. Mr Dragonfly, to be precise.
- Wulf: I think I made Mora very angry again.
- Rigmor: I asked you not to aggravate the tentacled turd!
- Wulf: I was a good Dragonborn. He thought I was a power-hungry megalomaniac. I pretended to be very grateful for the second Word of Power he gifted me.
- Celestine: He would only have dealt with such mortals in the past.
- Wulf: Correct. He deals with mortals like Necromancers who want to be a Lich, mages seeking the secrets of Dawn Magic and Telvanni Wizards looking for their compassion.
- Neloth: I don’t do friends, and I don’t do humour.
- Inigo: Obviously.
- Wulf: He wanted to exchange the third Word of Power of the Bend Will Shout for the Skaal’s secret knowledge.
- Felix: Please remind me. What do the second and third Words of Power let you do?
- Wulf: The second Word lets me enslave mortals. The third Word lets me enslave Dov.
- Rigmor: Wulf would never use such a shout!
- Lydia: Dragons already ally with Wulf. He does not have to enslave them.
- Wulf: Hermaeus Mora cannot conceive of such things. Remember, he regards me as a power-hungry Dragonborn trying to usurp Miraak. The tentacled twerp continues to think I will be his servant.
- Neloth: Mora wants you to be Miraak’s replacement?
- Wulf: Yes. He is almost as bad as Meridia with his disregard for mortal morality and free will. He has previously asked me to murder another of his assistants and be his Champion.
- Neloth: Hmph. What secrets could the Skaal have worth keeping from old Mora? It sounds like a bargain to me. Hermaeus Mora learns fascinating new ways to skin a horker, and you become the second most powerful Dragonborn ever.
- Wulf: For a learned mortal, you say some stupid things! I am already more powerful than Miraak. I know dozens more Shouts and Words of Power than him! Maybe Wulfarth was more powerful than me in the Thu’um, but who knows, for I have never faced him. If I used the Bend Will Shout, I would become less than I am, not more powerful.
- Neloth: Well, that gives me a lot to think about. I need to get back to Tel Mithryn. I have some ideas about how to locate more of these Black Books.
When we exited Nchardak, a dragon greeted us.
- Krosulhah: Miraak has commanded your death. So, it shall be.
- Neloth: By Malacath’s toenails, where did that come from?
- Wulf: When I visited him, Malacath needed the services of a good pedicurist.
- Neloth: Are there any Dark Lords you have not visited?
- Wulf: A few. If you don’t mind, I want to talk to our scaly visitor.
- Neloth: Hmph!
- Wulf: Wo los hi? (Who are you?)
- Krosulhah: Krosulhah.
- Wulf: Do you attack me out of choice or enslavement, Krosulhah?
- Krosulhah: Miraak has commanded your death. So, it shall be.
- Wulf: We defeated Alduin. Do you think you stand a chance against my Thu’um?
- Krosulhah: I must try.
- Wulf: No, you don’t. It is a matter of will. Fight the dweomer and reject Miraak’s command!
- Krosulhah: I… I cannot. When Miraak returns, all will bow before him!
Krosulhah stopped hovering and swooped to attack. I hit him with Dragonrend.
Krosulhah crashed to the ground and said, “Bein Rotmalaag! What foul Words are these?”
“Alduin asked the same question.”
“No Dovah would stoop to such vile tahrovin!”
“I have replaced Alduin as the most powerful of the Dov. The only tahrovin, treason, is yours. How dare you attack your rightful Overlord! You should bow before my Thu’um!”
I was appealing to the base nature of Krosulhah. I was hoping to give him the nudge he needed to break Miraak’s hold over him. Alas, my ploy failed.
I ended Krosulhah’s life.
A shadow of Miraak appeared and said, “This dragon’s soul belongs to me!”
“You are welcome to it. I have over three dozen I am yet to use.”
“I grow ever stronger, Dragonborn.”
“Yet you are a fraction of my strength. I know where you are, Miraak. I hope you are wise as you know what will happen to your soul if I kill you.”
Miraak stared at me.
“I will read Waking Dreams and appear in your part of Apocrypha. Then we shall talk once more.”
As Miraak’s shadow absorbed the Dragon Soul, Rigmor approached it with sword drawn.
I told her, “Do not bother, my beloved. That is a shadow, and your sword can do it no harm.”
The soul absorption ended then Miraak’s shadow faded away.
I was visibly upset.
- Rigmor: Wulf, you tried. You had no choice but to kill Krosulhah.
- Inigo: We understand why you did the whole ‘Overlord’ act.
- Wulf: I know I am not dealing with evil with Mora. It is just his nature. But still, I feel unclean dealing with him at all.
- Rigmor: It can be no worse than dealing with Boethia.
- Wulf: It is different. Boethia takes on the form of a mortal as it reflects her personality. Hermaeus Mora takes on the form of a hideous monstrosity because that reflects his personality. Disgusting. Repugnant. Terrible. Where did Neloth go?
- Lydia: As soon as he saw you slay Krosulhah, he ran back home.
- Celestine: Did Mora tell you how to reach Miraak?
- Wulf: No, it just came to me. The answer was evident, and I was too stupid to see it.
- Rigmor: Repeat after me, ‘I, Wulf the Weird, are not omnipotent and cannot logically be expected to see the seemingly obvious on every occasion.”
- Wulf: I think we should visit the Skaal village and inform Storn of Mora’s desire.
- Rigmor: And then?
- Wulf: And then I return to Apocrypha to tinvaak with Miraak.
I teleported us to the Skaal village. It did not take long to locate Storn Crag-Strider.
- Wulf: I have spoken to Herma Mora. To aid me, he has asked for the secrets of the Skaal in return. I told him they were not mine to give.
- Storn: We have many tales of Herma-Mora trying to trick us into giving up our secrets to him. And now he comes again for what we have long kept from him.
- Wulf: What secrets does he crave?
- Storn: Ancient lore, handed down from Shaman to Shaman since the All-Maker first gave Solstheim to the Skaal. Such as how to talk to the wind, listen to the earth and so on. These are our secrets. There is nothing of power or mastery.
- Wulf: Mora collects knowledge for the sake of ownership and nothing more. The subject matter is not relevant.
- Storn: You are correct. It is in his nature to hoard secrets to himself. Their value to him is of no consequence. The fact that the Skaal have kept knowledge from him has increased his desire to have it.
- Wulf: Mora thinks I want the knowledge he will give me in return.
- Storn: So, it falls to me to be the one to give up the secrets to our ancient enemy. I do not know if I have the strength to face him. The Tree Stone is still corrupted… the land is still out of balance. But with the others restored… it may be enough. It will have to be.
- Wulf: That is brave and honourable of you, Shaman.
- Rigmor: But it won’t be necessary. Mora was wrong, and Wulf doesn’t want or need Mora’s knowledge, for one of our gods already provided it.
- Storn: I don’t have to surrender our secrets?
- Wulf: No, you don’t. I have told you this tale as a lesson in how Adversaries work. They lie and claim abilities they do not have. I have denied them in their realms of Oblivion. Mortals should not fear defying them on Nirn.
- Storn: That is a lesson that falls on deaf ears.
- Rigmor: People are afraid of the Daedric Princes because, in the distant past, they could harm mortals on Nirn.
- Wulf: Now mortals are safe due to the liminal barrier.
- Storn: Will you confront Miraak and kill him?
- Wulf: I will only kill him if necessary. I prefer to make him an ally.
- Storn: You would forgive his sins?
- Wulf: His greatest sins were directed at me. He did not harm the people he enslaved.
- Rigmor: Wulf often offers a chance at redemption.
- Inigo: As he did for this wayward blue Khajiiti.
- Storn: May darkness never touch you.
- Wulf: Blessings of The Nine, Shaman.
I turned to Rigmor.
She said, “If Miraak kills you, he will absorb your soul. I will never see you again in this Kalpa, my afterlife or any future Kalpa, and you will be lost to me for all eternity. I would prefer you attack Miraak and destroy him, but I know you won’t, no matter the danger.”
“It is us, that girlchild running through the wheatfield and the eternal peace that I gamble. But I must give Miraak a chance.”
Rigmor gave me a gentle kiss and then stood back. I opened Waking Dreams and was immediately dragged into Apocrypha.
I was transported to the same part of Apocrypha where I first encountered Miraak.
I looked to the top of a distant tower. I thought that might be where Miraak waited. Three Dov circled the tower.
I walked towards the tower and found a book upon a pedestal.
It was designed to teleport me to another part of Miraak’s pocket plane. I touched it.
I was instantly transported to another area.
I killed several minions.
Then I found another book.
This one was called Boneless Limbs. Its entire content consisted of a single quatrain.
- A writhing mass of heaped appendage
- Slipping grasp the squirming slick
- Extend the reach to touch the face
- Burn the mind, reveal the quick
I placed the book in my journal case.
I spent several hours using teleport books, killing minions and collecting three other books.
I found Delving Pincers.
- Crushing razors, hollow shells
- That snap, that twitch, that cinch and rend
- To hold the subject, bodily,
- ‘Til mind blows soft, and life meets end
Then Prying Orbs.
- What takes the world in lightened sense
- Can also seek the outward gleam
- They rob the all of essence to
- Report the nothing they have seen
The final book was Gnashing Blades.
- Bone extrusions gash and grind
- In moistened depths of smacking heat
- While tearing flesh from adverse bone
- The body whole prepares to eat
I found the purpose of the four books in a circular room.
I had to remove several Seekers before I could study the room in detail.
Six walkways met at a central hub. At the end of four of the walkways were empty pedestals. Each pedestal displayed a glowing, stylised symbol of one of Hermaeus Mora’s body parts. A blank pedestal was in the centre.
The first pedestal was meant for Gnashing Blades.
I placed Gnashing Blade on the pedestal and moved to the next. I placed Prying Orbs on that one.
The third pedestal required Boneless Limbs.
The fourth pedestal was for Delving Pincers.
As soon as I placed the last book, all five pedestals glowed green.
A teleportation book now rested on the central pedestal.
Touching that book teleported me to the top of the tower.
Miraak was not there. However, two Seekers guarded a Word Wall. Logic told me that Word Wall would try and teach me Dov, the third Word of Power of Bend Will.
I quickly eliminated the two Seekers.
I approached the Word Wall, and as predicted, it tried to teach me the Power Word Dov, which means dragon.
There was no inscription on the Word Wall, just moving glyphs and random words in Dovahzul.
Sahrotaar appeared and hovered over me.
“Drem Yol Lok. Greetings, Sahrotaar. Have you come to tinvaak or to die?”
“Hail, thuri. I have come to take you to Miraak. Only if you defeat him will me and my brethren be free once more.”
“You call me overlord, so I assume this offer contradicts Miraak’s commands?”
“Miraak knows you are in his realm and expects you will slowly find your way to him. I decided to hurry the process. Therefore, if you are brave, Dovahkiin, I can fly you to Miraak.”
“I assume Miraak is atop that smaller tower in the distance.”
“Then land, Sahrotaar, and we will surprise Miraak. And do not fret, for I have ridden on the backs of my brothers many times.”
Sahrotaar landed, and I climbed aboard.
Sahrotaar lifted from the tower with mighty flaps of his enormous wings.
As we flew towards the smaller tower, we talked.
“Can you remember your original name? Sahrotaar is an insult. You are more than a mighty slave!”
“Alas, Miraak commanded me to forget my name. But Sahrotaar is what I have become and am content with it now.”
“Does Miraak speak Dovahzul?”
“No. Miraak rejected all that makes him Dovahkiin except for the power it gives him.”
“If he remained true to our father, he would be far more powerful than he is.”
“When he boasted that he could have defeated Alduin, he lied. He hid in Apocrypha like the coward he is.”
“I think he was prepared to fight Alduin, but on his terms. I don’t think Miraak is a coward.”
“I would not know. Miraak spoke to you for longer than he has ever spoken to me.”
“I see two Dov circling the tower. Who are they?”
“Miraak enslaves them. One is called Kruziikrel. The other is Relonikiv.
We arrived at the tower. Sahrotaar hovered low, and I leapt off. He then joined the other two dragons circling the tower.
Miraak called out, “Sahrotaar, are you so easily swayed?”
I walked towards Miraak and stopped two steps away. I did not want him to think I was going to attack.
Miraak said, “And the First Dragonborn meets the Last Dragonborn at the summit of Apocrypha. No doubt, just as Hermaeus Mora intended. He is a fickle master, you know. But now I will be free of him. My time in Apocrypha is over. You are here in your full power and thus subject to my full power. You will die. And with the power of your soul, I will return to Solstheim and be master of my own fate once again. Kruziikrel! Relonikiv! Now!”
The dragons did not attack me.
“Miraak, the dragons have used their free will to neutralise your dweomer. They recognise the superiority of my Thu’um.”
“This is the only way, Dragonborn. The only way I can be free.”
“You know that is not true, Miraak. Hermaeus Mora is relying on me to kill you as he cannot. He has no power over you. I believe you are a good person led astray. Therefore, I offer you redemption. Help me fight the chaos.”
“No, this is a trick!”
Miraak Shouted Dragon Aspect.
I stepped closer and Shouted Unrelenting Force.
Miraak flew through the air, landed and rolled. He tried to stand but could not.
I slowly walked towards him with my weapons still sheathed.
I could have slain Miraak. Instead, I spoke to him.
“It is no trick, Miraak. My name is Valdr Septim. I am the son of two gods but am mortal as you are. However, I am not strictly Dragonborn but am a Dragonchild. I was born with Lord Akatosh’s blessings. Fight beside me, live and find redemption. Fight me and die. Your soul will be lost to this Kalpa and all others that follow. You will cease to exist.”
“You would trust me, Valdr?”
“I can read souls. Yours has far less darkness within than other mortals I call friends. Lord Akatosh chose you for his blessings and must have seen good in your soul. So yes, I would trust you, Miraak.”
I cast Grand Healing, and Miraak slowly got to his feet.
“What is your decision, Miraak?”
“I am done with being Hermaeus Mora’s pawn. I will fight the chaos beside you, Valdr.”
“Call me Wulf. That is the name I use for now.”
Hermaeus Mora appeared as three smaller avatars.
Mora growled, “Did you think to escape from me, Miraak? You can hide nothing from me here!”
I replied, “Lord Mora, you needed me to defeat Miraak and can do nothing to stop us from leaving Apocrypha. You have lost this battle. Your lies and deceit are no match for our free will.”
Wave after wave of Seeker, Lurker and spirits attacked us. The spirits were mortals who died in Apocrypha whilst pursuing knowledge.
The final minion was a gigantic Lurker.
A single Shout killed it and turned it into a pile of dust.
Hermaeus Mora, in his Wretched Abyss form, made one last appearance.
“Dragonborn, as I warned you once before, many have thought as you do. I have broken them all. You can’t evade me forever.”
“You have no power in Mundus or the realms of other gods. Even within Apocrypha, you could not defeat Miraak. I am far more powerful than he. A lesser god like you cannot break my faith in The Nine.”
Mora vanished once more.
I walked over to Miraak.
“I had a plan on how you can return to Nirn but am unsure as to its safety.”
“You did not cleanse The Tree Stone. I can use it to return to my temple. Not with the power I originally envisioned, but at least I will be away from this prison. Upon arrival, I will immediately remove my dweomer from The Tree Stone.”
“Then I shall meet you outside your temple.”
“Give me a couple of days. Many of my followers will turn hostile once they learn of my defection. I will cleanse those who disagree. Perhaps some will wish to join my journey of redemption.”
“What of the enslaved dragons?”
“They have overcome my commands via willpower. However, they will stay with me as that is a compulsion that cannot be overcome. Therefore, they will return with me to Solstheim. In time, perhaps they and I will regard each other as equals. After all, we share a celestial father.”
“I think if they speak to Paarthurnax, he will help with the compulsion that cannot be overcome.”
“Farewell, for now, Wulf.”
I opened my copy of Waking Dreams and was teleported to the Skaal village.
Rigmor was busy talking to a young girl and did not notice me at first.
When she did, I was attacked by a barrage of questions.
I laughed, put my hand up and said, “Hang on, Rigmor. I will tell you what happened in the comfort of our new home in Raven Rock.”
Frea walked over to us.
- Frea: I can feel it. The Tree Stone is free again. The Oneness of the land is restored. Does that mean it is over? Is Miraak defeated?
- Wulf: Miraak is defeated but not dead. He has returned to his temple. It is he who cleansed The Tree Stone.
- Frea: Father said you might let Miraak live. I do not understand why.
- Wulf: You believe that when you die, The All-Maker will send your soul back to Nirn, where, hopefully, you live a better life.
- Frea: A brief outline of our religion, but yes, that is what we believe.
- Wulf: I believe that beings should be given a chance to live better lives during their time on Nirn. Many people make wrong decisions that should not define their moral worth. Redemption allows them to atone for previous actions.
- Rigmor: Frea, if our gods did not allow the chance for redemption, we would never have defeated Alduin. Paarthurnax, a mighty dragon, would not have aided mortals.
- Inigo: I seek redemption, and my friend is helping with that arduous and lengthy search.
- Frea: I now see the wisdom, and thank you all. Walk with the All-Maker, Skaal-friends.
- Wulf: We will probably visit again in a few days. Till then, Blessings of The Nine on you and our friends, the Skaal.
My friends gathered around, and we teleported to Raven Rock.