Turdas, 30th Frostfall, 4E 201
We teleported to Raven Rock.
Then we walked to Severin Manor and entered our new abode.
Dae and the others left a stew slowly simmering for us.
There was no sign of the blood and gore I left behind.
There were several shrines to the Reclamations throughout the manor.
My friends had purchased fresh food.
Every bedroom had a bath. Every bed had new linen.
To Rigmor’s delight, the bar was well stocked.
The dining table was long and could seat ten.
Dae must have made a trip to the Safe House to gather parts for a Staff Enchanter.
In the basement was a natural spa.
Rigmor asked, “The water looks like a mirror!”
“I don’t know what minerals are in it.”
“Well, we shall try it later and see if it helps ease my scars.”
We sat at the dining table.
- Inigo: Well, my friend. We have been very patient!
- Wulf: Yes, you have. I won’t bore you with my travels through Apocrypha.
- Rigmor: Good, because that stew is smelling good!
- Wulf: I reached a tower’s summit, expecting Miraak to be there, but he wasn’t. He was on top of a smaller tower far in the distance.
- Celestine: Too far to Blink?
- Wulf: Way too far. Sahrotaar, the dragon I talked to when I first met Miraak, was there. His name was given to him by Miraak, who commanded him to forget his real name. It means mighty slave.
- Felix: The Bend Will Shout is powerful enough to make a being forget their name?
- Wulf: Yes, it is terrible, and I wish I had never learnt it. Many of the spells and Shouts I know might provide a quick answer to a dilemma. Therefore, I might have to fight the temptation to use them.
- Celestine: Many people with good intentions start using questionable powers and justify the most heinous crimes.
- Lydia: Many people commit heinous crimes in pursuit of knowledge.
- Wulf: Yes, Lydia and Hermaeus Mora doesn’t care. Any means justifies the end as long as his mortal minions gather the knowledge he craves.
- Rigmor: Like that insane mage in the ice fields.
- Wulf: Urag gro-Shub told me that Master Septimus Signus was a well-respected and kindly lecturer at The College of Winterhold who wouldn’t harm a fly. Alas, his pursuit of knowledge led him to Hermaeus Mora. Septimus murdered people and spread plagues and dissent in his pursuit of knowledge. He was insane when I met him, but I doubt he was when he first agreed to Mora’s requests.
- Felix: Wulf, you seem adamant not to use anything that overrides a being’s free will.
- Wulf: Any form of enslavement is disgusting to me.
- Rigmor: Sahrotaar came to you. What happened next?
- Wulf: Sahrotaar used his will to overcome Miraak’s commands. Miraak knew I was in his pocket plane but expected me to struggle and possibly die, getting to the tower he was on. There was no boring maze between him and me. Just an ocean of the inky water that would drain my lifeforce if I touched it, that was full of giant tentacles that would whip me to death.
- Lydia: Could you have summoned one of your dragon friends?
- Wulf: I think Silah might have been able to manifest in Apocrypha. But that would risk her falling under Miraak’s control. However, I did not have to ponder how to get to Miraak, as Sahrotaar offered to fly me there. I trusted him, and that is how I reached Miraak.
- Rigmor: How come mages haven’t got a spell that lets them fly?
- Celestine: Mages in the past did have such spells. Much knowledge was lost due to Dragon Breaks and other incidents.
- Rigmor: Oh, like Wulf had to rediscover the teleport spells!
- Celestine: Exactly.
- Wulf: The trouble with using Magicka to fly is the enemy might have anti-magic defences. One second you are flying. The next, you are going splat.
- Rigmor: Continue, peasant!
- Wulf: Yes, milady. Another two dragons were flying around the small tower where Miraak awaited. Their names are Kruziikrel and Relonikiv. Miraak had enslaved both dragons. After I leapt off Sahrotaar, he joined the other two.
- Felix: Did Miraak enslave the dragons on Nirn and somehow take them to Apocrypha?
- Wulf: I don’t know.
- Inigo: Did Miraak immediately attack you, or did he want to talk?
- Wulf: Miraak was suspicious of my motives. He ordered the dragons to attack and planned to join them in the battle. The dragons refused his order. Willpower partially neutralised the Bend Will Shout.
- Felix: Partially?
- Wulf: Although the dragons could ignore Miraak’s command, they are still compelled to stay close to him.
- Rigmor: Miraak needed more convincing of your good intentions.
- Wulf: Yes, he did. Miraak Shouted Dragon Aspect, so I knew he would survive my Thu’um. I sent him flying with Unrelenting Force. He was severely injured and could not fight. I walked over to him with my weapons sheathed and convinced him that the offer to help was genuine. I healed him as a further token of my sincerity. He then agreed to ally with me.
- Rigmor: I bet the tentacled turd was not happy about that!
- Wulf: Mora made threats to Miraak. I told him his lies and deceit are no match for our free will. Mora then set dozens of minions against us, including the spirits of many mortals.
- Felix: You and Miraak fighting together to destroy Mora’s minions would piss him off even more!
- Lydia: Who were the spirits?
- Wulf: Mortals who travelled to Apocrypha and died there. Mora left his strongest minion till last. It was a colossal Lurker much larger than Skyrim’s giants. A single Unrelenting Force Shout from me disintegrated it.
- Celestine: Your Thu’um is that strong now?
- Wulf: Yes, it is, but it will take many years to reach my potential.
- Lydia: Did Mora say anything else?
- Wulf: Yes, he said, ‘Dragonborn, as I warned you once before, many have thought as you do. I have broken them all. You can’t evade me forever.’
- Rigmor: Persistent, isn’t he?
- Wulf: He had said the same thing to me before. Mora isn’t used to mortals being unafraid and not tempted by forbidden knowledge. I told him, ‘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.’
- Celestine: You called a Daedric Lord a lesser god?
- Wulf: The Dark Lords measure each other constantly. For instance, they regard Lord Peryite as weak compared to Molag Bal. Telling Mora that I thought he was a lesser god would be insulting but not unexpected. Mora is arrogant, so I spoke his language.
- Rigmor: Don’t return to Apocrypha for some time!
- Wulf: I want to find other Black Books so they can’t harm more mortals. However, I won’t use them. I do not want whatever Mora offers.
- Felix: How did Miraak return to Nirn?
- Wulf: Using Bend Will on The Tree Stone would not have cleansed it. Its dweomer was powered by Miraak’s Temple and continued to increase in power. Miraak used The Tree Stone to return to his temple. The first thing he did was remove the corruption.
- Lydia: Are the poor dragons stuck in Apocrypha?
- Wulf: No, Miraak took them with him. They have a compulsion to remain with Miraak, but I think Paarthurnax may be able to help with that.
- Lydia: You are leaving Miraak alone for now?
- Wulf: Yes. I will give him a few days to do what is necessary. He thinks his goons will be hostile to him, and he may have to eliminate them. He hopes a few will remain loyal to him.
- Inigo: I don’t think we left any alive for him to eliminate!
- Felix: Do you trust Miraak enough to let him live at Silverpeak Lodge?
- Wulf: I will let him live here or one of my houses in Skyrim for some time. Miraak needs to learn about Nirn as it is now.
- Rigmor: Miraak needs to understand the politics and factions!
- Wulf: Precisely. Anyway, that is what happened in Apocrypha.
- Inigo: My friend, what are we doing today?
- Rigmor: We are going to eat that wonderfully fragrant stew first!
- Wulf: Let’s eat. Then we will talk about today’s plans.
Like ravenous wolves, we descended on the pot of stew. After eating our fill, I gathered the plates and utensils and cleaned them with Magicka. Then I returned to the table.
Rigmor asked, “Okay, my dear Guardian, what are we doing?”
“We are going to search for Haknir Death-Brand’s treasure. Let me read you a book about him.”
I retrieved the book from my journal case.
“Deathbrand by Artise Dralen. House Redoran Scribe
Haknir Death-Brand was dying.
For Garuk Windrime, the ship’s quartermaster, it was unthinkable. His grandfather had served under Haknir nigh on sixty years before, and even then, he was a legend among pirates of the north. ‘The King of Ghosts,’ they called him, as eternal and pitiless as the sea he sailed. To Garuk, who had seen him charge into battle, clad in armour of gleaming Stalhrim like the kings of old, his twin swords scything men like grass, Haknir was practically a god.
But none feared Haknir more than his crew. They knew his rages, his fits of madness, how he delighted in torture and murder for its own sake. And there were even darker rumours: Some said he fed upon the blood and souls of those he killed to extend his unnatural life. Some thought him a Daedra, loosed upon the mortal world. And others said he owed his life and power, his armour and swords, to a pact with Dagon, prince of destruction. And the seal of that pact was the terrible wound that scarred his face, never to heal – the Deathbrand, which no man could look upon without flinching.
All these things ran through Garuk’s mind as he took his place on deck at the head of the crew, exchanging a curt nod with Thalin, the ship’s helmsman and his chief rival. By sundown, he thought, one of them would be captain. The other would be dead.
When Haknir finally emerged from his cabin, the crew fell silent. He looked frail, his voice raspy. But even so, he had a presence about him. As he looked over his men, the most brutal murderers ever to ply the northern seas, not one could meet his gaze. At last, he sighed.
‘You wish to know who will be my successor and how my share of the treasure shall be divided.’
That was the question, but there were murmurs of protest. Haknir cut them off.
‘All these years, I have looked for one worthy of taking my place or strong enough to take it from me. Not one of you even comes close. And so, none of you shall have it.’
He extended his hand. ‘In Dagon’s name, I place a curse upon my armour and my swords. This ship, and all it carries. Until the day when one of you can best me in combat, you shall have not a single coin.’ He looked up at them. ‘Be grateful I have left you with your lives.’
Garuk and Thalin shared a single glance. Had anyone else said such a thing, there would have been mutiny. It would be a hundred treasure-mad pirates against one old man. But this was Hakni, so the crew was silent.
Haknir threw a map at Garuk’s feet. ‘Garuk, take a longboat and bury my armour in the places I have marked. Thalin, we sail to my tomb, where you shall leave me with my gold. Then burn your ships, and do as you will. I am your captain no more.’ And with that, he turned and stalked back to his quarters.
At daybreak, Garuk took his leave and set out in a longboat with three of his men. They landed on a shoal north of Solstheim, where Haknir had marked, made camp, and began to dig.
But already, greed stirred in Garuk’s heart. Time and again, he glanced at the iron-bound chest they had brought with them. The old man was gone, perhaps already dead. His orders were foolish.
That night, Garuk pried open the chest and drew out the helm within. The Stalhrim shimmered in the moonlight. It was time for a new King of Ghosts to rise. He placed the helmet on his head.
And he screamed.
And it is said you can hear that screaming still, on moonlit nights, on a rocky shoal off the northern coast of Solstheim.
Postscript- This story is one of the last in the ‘Haknir Saga,’ the tales surrounding the life and adventures of the legendary pirate king Haknir Death-Brand. I leave to the reader’s discretion how much of it is true if any of it is true.”
- Rigmor: This is the treasure that has attracted lots of reavers?”
- Wulf: Yes, and that is one reason why we will search for it. Once it is known that the treasure has been found, many reavers will leave Solstheim.
- Celestine: The second reason is that Auryen asked Wulf to find Haknir’s armour and swords for the museum.
- Wulf: The third reason is to make Bruma coffers much fuller.
- Rigmor: Ahh…please explain.
- Wulf: Apart from the armour and weapons for the museum, there should be lots of gold and other valuables. I intend to donate everything apart from any gems to Solstheim. I don’t need the money, but Solstheim needs it desperately.
- Rigmor: And how does that improve my coffers?
- Wulf: Countess, are your warehouses full of excess grain and so forth?
- Rigmor: Yes. Bruma was trying to supply Skyrim, but The Stormcloaks had control of the passes. Now the war is over, and the stockpiles are superfluous.
- Wulf: With Solstheim’s newfound wealth, they will buy your grain and other goods. I suggest you make a deal to buy their ebony at a reasonable rate and promise to deliver necessities regularly and for less than The East Empire Company.
- Rigmor: We don’t have a port.
- Wulf: This is where Freathof and Malesam earn their keep. They should arrange freelance sailors, such as Captain Gjalund Salt-Sage and Palevius Rex, to regularly transport the supplies to Raven Rock. A mooring would have to be hired, and I suggest Dawnstar for that. Escorts of the supplies from your border to Dawnstar would be necessary. Bruma guards should be adequate now the roads of Skyrim are better patrolled. Have Bruma Blacksmiths learn ebony smithing if they don’t know it already. Equip your guards with ebony weapons. The Dragonguard mages will place dweomer on the weapons for you.
- Rigmor: Wow, that all sound so easy when you say it.
- Wulf: As I said, get Malesam and Freathof to sort out the details. I am sure Sigunn will be thrilled once we tell her of the trade deal with Solstheim.
- Rigmor: I haven’t made one yet. Hey, what do you mean we tell her?
- Wulf: You will make the deal, Rigmor, of that, I am sure. As for Sigunn, I have felt guilty keeping things from her. We should tell her what is going on.
- Rigmor: That would be a relief. I hate lying to her.
- Felix: It would make things at the castle less complicated.
- Rigmor: What about Malesam and Freathof?
- Wulf: We shall treat them as mushrooms for now.
- Rigmor: Mushrooms?
- Wulf: They will be kept in the dark and fed bullshit.
- Felix: Great analogy!
- Rigmor: Don’t encourage him, Felix.
- Inigo: My friend, this recovery of the pirate treasure will help many people.
- Wulf: And fill a display in my museum!
- Lydia: Where do we start?
- Wulf: There are five places we have to visit. Four of them contain parts of the armour. The fifth is the barrow, where the Daedric worshipping pirate is entombed. I think we shall collect the armour pieces first. The first treasure spot we shall investigate is on a small island near Skaal Village.
I handed the map Auryen had given me to Rigmor. Soon, all my friends had viewed it.
During our travels, I noticed sidelong glances that Felix was giving Lydia, who would often glance back. The mutual attraction was obvious, but it might be some time before Lydia feels comfortable moving on from Bjorn.
I teleported us to Skaal Village.
Two villagers were having a discussion. One of them seemed very upset.
- Fanari: Don’t worry yourself over nothing, Deor. Do you want a head full of grey hairs before you’ve seen forty winters?
- Deor: Something isn’t right, Fanari. I feel it in my bones and smell it in the air. Baldor wouldn’t leave without telling someone.
- Fanari: Deor, you must be calm. I’m sure there’s a good reason Baldor left us.
- Deor: It makes my heart heavy that you don’t believe me, Fanari. Baldor could be in danger, and you will do nothing. If you don’t help me, I’ll ask the All-Maker to send someone else who will.
Fanari was the leader of the Skaal and wife of Tharstan, the Imperial Historian. She walked away, unwilling to aid Deor, which put him in a foul mood.
We approached Deor.
- Deor: I am in no mood to talk outsider. One of the Skaal has gone missing.
- Wulf: We are not outsiders but Skaal-Friends!
- Deor: My apologies. I am concerned about our only smith, Baldor Iron-Shaper. He is very important to our village and a good friend.
- Rigmor: Did anything unusual happen around the time of his disappearance?
- Deor: Hm, I do not remember Baldor acting strangely. Although now that you ask, I did see something in the woods on the day he disappeared. I saw two elves in the far distance, dragging something behind them. Hunters often visit our lands, so I thought little of it.
- Rigmor: Were they Dunmer?
- Deor: No. Even from a distance, I could tell that the elves had skin yellow in hue.
- Wulf: Do you know where they were headed?
- Deor: Yes, they were heading south and west. If your road takes you that way, perhaps you could search for any sign of Baldor. The Skaal would be grateful.
- Wulf: Are there any buildings out that way?
- Deor: There is an abandoned hunting lodge. The hunters living there were killed by reavers long ago.
- Wulf: Can you mark it on my map?
- Deor: Yes, hand it over.
I gave Deor my map, and he duly marked the location of the hunting lodge.
- Rigmor: Do you think Baldor has been abducted?
- Deor: Yes. Baldor is the keeper of an ancient tradition, the forging of Stalhrim. It is an art we Skaal hold sacred. If someone wanted to make such weapons, they would have to get that knowledge from Baldor.
- Wulf: We shall search for your friend, Deor.
- Deor: All Maker bless you, Skaal Friends.
As Deor headed for the forge, I turned to Rigmor.
- Rigmor: Wulf, do you think Thalmor abducted Baldor?
- Wulf: That is a possibility, but too much is unknown.
- Celestine: Talk about a political shit storm if there are Thalmor on Solstheim!
- Felix: Shit storm? Is that another Wulf colloquialism?
- Celestine: No, it is a Bosmer saying.
- Lydia: Does Miraak have an accent?
- Wulf: Random question! Yes, he sounds like the Ancient Tongues. He has an Atmoran accent but doesn’t speak the archaic way the Tongues did.
- Rigmor: Come on then, Dragonbum. We will have to hurry to rescue a blacksmith and go treasure hunting in one day!
- Wulf: Okay then.
We teleported to Raven Rock, and then headed towards the abandoned farm.
Two Redoran Guards were having trouble with a Burnt Spriggan.
I blinked over and cut the Spriggan down.
We came upon a raver camp and soon eliminated them.
As we crossed a grassy meadow, Inigo whispered, “Crouch Down!”
We did so, and I turned to my blue friend.
“What is it?”
“I can hear Aldmeri. Are we far from the hunting lodge?”
“No, I can see its roof just over the hill in front of us. Let’s use stealth to approach. No talking!”
We got close enough to see four Thalmor sentries outside the hunting lodge.
I walked up to a Thalmor officer and said, “Thalmor in Morrowind territory? Wait till First Councillor Morvayn hears about this!”
The officer replied, “He won’t get the chance!”
Unrelenting Force killed three Thalmor.
Lydia and Inigo took care of the fourth.
I found the following note on Skyrim’s Thalmor Embassy letterhead upon the officer.
“If you can’t break the smith, I will be forced to find a more capable interrogator. I expect your report to contain encouraging results. -A”
I grumbled, “Yet another reason why I need to revisit the Thalmor Embassy!”
The Thalmor officer also had a key that unlocked the hunting lodge’s front door.
We entered the lodge, and I asked, “Baldor Iron-Shaper, are you here?”
A strong voice from below replied, “Yes, I have been taken against my will! I am in need of rescue!”
We entered the basement, and the Skaal blacksmith was slumped against a post, his hands tied loosely behind him.
Rigmor quickly knelt and cut the binds.
I cast Grand Healing and then helped Baldor to his feet.
- Baldor: Outsiders! I remember you. You’re the ones who freed the Skaal from the dark spell. Thank the All-Maker that you have come. These accursed elves have taken me from my home.
- Wulf: We came because Deor was worried about you. He told us of this lodge.
- Celestine: Your wounds were not serious. After Wulf’s healing, you should be okay to return to the village.
- Baldor: I don’t think the elves were trying to harm me. Perhaps they intended to frighten me?
- Rigmor: The Thalmor would have soon increased their barbarity! I know because I have the scars to remind me every day!
- Baldor: I do not know this word Thalmor, but if you mean elves, they were trying to learn the secrets of forging Stalhrim. Their leader, an elf named Ancarion, has a map. He says that it shows the location of a hidden source of Stalhrim.
- Wulf: The Thalmor are the governing council of The Third Aldmeri Dominion. As far as I know, they are forbidden to enter any territory of Morrowind, including Solstheim.
- Rigmor: Do you know where Ancarion is? I want to visit him and say hello with my sword.
- Baldor: They have a ship. They took me there and showed me the map. You will find it on the northern coast of the island. Please, do not let Ancarion make his weapons. Kill him or let him live, but take the map from him. It belongs with the Skaal.
- Rigmor: Oh, he will not live. Neither will any other Thalmor we find!
- Wulf: As Celestine said, you are healthy enough to return to the village. When we retrieve the map, we will bring it to you.
- Baldor: Thank you. May the All-Maker bless your days.
- Wulf: And may The Nine bless yours. Can you mark on my map where their boat is moored?
I handed Baldor my map and a charcoal stick, and he marked the location of a jetty.
I told my friends, “We will teleport to The Water Stone. The jetty is not far from there.”
We startled a Skaal hunter when we appeared out of the ether.
I apologised, “Sorry, we did not mean to startle you.”
“I have seen you vanish and appear in the village. I am okay now I recognise you.”
“I am Wulf. You are?”
“Gisthor, Apothecary Milore Ienth in Raven Rock helps many people with her potions and balms. Unfortunately, she is often running out of Netch Jelly. She is willing to trade for some if you visit Raven Rock.”
“The Skaal know of Milore and her husband. We have surplus Netch Jelly we can supply her and make arrangements for a regular supply. Our hunters travel to Raven Rock to trade Netch Leather and other items so it would not be a great burden. I will let the other Skaal hunters know of this.”
“Thank you, Gisthor.”
We continued towards the jetty, but it was far below.
I turned to Rigmor.
She exclaimed, “Wulf, you are not going to ride the waterfall down!”
“Come on, where is your sense of adventure?”
I leapt into the water and let it take me over the edge.
When I came to the surface, I yelled it was safe, and the others followed.
Inigo remarked, “My friend, you are far more relaxed today!”
“I always worry when I have to deal with Daedric Princes. Hermaeus Mora is not as unpredictable as Uncle Sheo, but he has been known to lash out in anger. I knew my plan for Miraak would make him seethe.”
“Can he seek revenge on Nirn?”
“I am sure he has mortal minions he can send after me. Maybe even Seeker and Lurker.”
A while later, Meeko growled and ran ahead. Riekling were hiding in long grass, waiting to ambush us. They were quickly dispatched.
Not marked on my map was a Riekling settlement. We approached stealthily, but Riekling are experts at camouflage and sneaking.
Their sentries spotted us and attacked us.
We soon disposed of all visible Riekling.
When we entered the settlement, I said, “There is a Riekling hiding in the barrel, and another two have dug pits under the grass.”
I approached the barrel with my sword drawn.
The three Riekling attacked and died.
Near the Riekling settlement was a cave. I told my friends, “This cave is marked on my map. It is called Bristleback. We are not far from the jetty.”
It wasn’t long before the jetty came into view.
I used Zoom-Vision.
I said, “There are four Thalmor, and one is a Justiciar. There may be more below decks. I will kill them from here. I see no point in risking death or injury.”
Unrelenting Force raced along the shore and killed all the Thalmor.
We quickly searched the boat above and below decks. I then searched Justiciar Ancarion.
On him, I found the map showing the Stalhrim deposit’s location.
He also had an order from Thalmor High Command. Like the earlier note, it was on the letterhead of Skyrim’s Thalmor embassy,
“Name: Baldor Iron-Shaper
Status: Refuses any cooperation. He is a high-priority target but not dangerous.
Description: Male, Nord, early 40s
Background: Baldor Iron-Shaper is a blacksmith in Skaal village and the only one able to work Stalhrim. Therefore, his capture is crucial in The Dominion army’s build-up.
Operational Notes: The Skaal of Solstheim are mostly unaware of our operations, and abduction should be relatively easy. Wait until he is alone, ideally outside of Skaal Village and capture him. He is to be kept alive to reveal any helpful information. Make absolutely sure you are not being seen. The Skaal do not provide any military issue to us. However, as Solstheim belongs to the Province of Morrowind, getting caught and handed over to the Redoran Guard could be grounds for war against The Dominion. Get rid of all the bodies and witnesses.”
Rigmor grumbled, “Bastards! Mongrels! Slime!”
“Calm down, Rigmor. We shall hand the orders to Councillor Morvayn. The political fallout of this will be tremendous. However, like The New Order’s pursuit of Azura’s Black Diamonds and your family’s heirlooms, Stalhrim would make little difference to military strength. It is a strange thing to risk war over. Let’s check out the hut.”
There was nothing of use in the hut.
I said, “I will place a Mark here. I will Recall here occasionally and see if The Dominion are still using the jetty. After I have placed the Mark, we will continue our treasure hunt.”
I placed the Mark and then teleported us to The Tree Stone
We could see several camps below from a cliff near The Tree Stone. One of the camps had a few reavers in it. I could see no movement in the other camp.
As we headed for the shore, Meeko growled. A Riekling astride a boar was riding towards us. Between him and us were the beginnings of a hunter’s camp.
We drew our weapons and approached.
The Riekling turned and rode away. We would have let him go, but then we heard a clash of weapons.
The Riekling had ridden straight towards the hunter who owned the camp.
I leapt into the river and killed both boar and rider.
The hunter said, “Thank you, Skaal-Friends. He would have got the better of me aboard that boar.”
“We are glad to have helped.”
“I am Hestfrodi Boar-Tamer. You are Wulf?”
“Yes, that is my name.”
“May the All-Maker keep you and your friends safe, Wulf.”
“And may The Nine do the same for the Skaal.”
We continued our journey to the shore.
A Riekling was fighting reavers and using a rock as cover. He would dart out, throw one of his spears, and then get behind the rock again. Reavers were casting spells and firing arrows at him.
I drew my sword and then Blinked to the islet.
I cut down one reaver who screamed.
The other reavers noticed my presence and turned their back on the Riekling. One of the reavers, a mage, received several spears in the head. As he slowly collapsed, I lopped the head off the other reaver.
My companions made it to the islet a few seconds later.
One reaver had a map showing the four treasure burial sites. It was accurate if a bit cruder than the one Auryen had given me.
The reavers had dug up the chest, but it remained locked. I examined the chest closely.
- Wulf: I think the reavers feared a potential curse and were too chicken to open the chest.
- Rigmor: It seems silly to search for the treasure and then chicken out opening the chest.
- Wulf: I can detect no dweomer nor see a mechanical trap.
- Lydia: The book doesn’t mention any harm until Garuk wears the helmet.
- Wulf: I don’t intend to wear the helm or any other part of the armour.
- Rigmor: I doubt the helm would fit over your head anyway.
- Wulf: I love you too!
I picked the lock on the chest and opened it. The only thing inside was the Deathbrand Helm. I lifted it out and examined it.
- Wulf: I can detect no harmful dweomer on it. It allows you to breathe underwater and offers above-average protection.
- Lydia: The blue colour makes it pretty.
- Inigo: Well, thank you, Lydia.
- Lydia: I was talking about the helm, not a smelly fleabag!
- Meeko: Woof!
- Felix: Meeko, Lydia called Inigo a smelly fleabag, not you.
- Lydia: Do you realise what just happened, Felix?
- Felix: What?
- Lydia: You understood what Meeko said.
- Felix: Oh.
- Meeko: Woof!
- Felix: What do you mean it was about time? I don’t know why I couldn’t understand you, but now I can. That is gobblygook!
- Wulf: What happened to the Riekling?
- Rigmor: When he speared the mage in the head, he jumped for joy and then ran away.
- Wulf: The next treasure spot is close to Raven Rock.
We teleported to Raven Rock.
Then we exited towards the next treasure spot.
A Nix-Hound was fighting two reavers and losing.
We walked towards the reavers with our weapons sheathed. Once they killed the Nix-Hound, they turned their spells and weapons on us.
Unrelenting force killed the mage. The other reaver was wearing excellent armour and survived.
He wielded a katana.
I told him, “You are wielding a quality weapon like a child with a wooden sword. Let me show you how it’s done!”
I parried him for a few seconds before lopping his head off.
A third reaver had been hiding amongst some trees and fired an arrow at me.
I Blinked to her and cut her across the chest.
I then plunged my word through her collarbone up to its hilt.
The dead Nix-Hound bobbed up and down in the water. Felix had somehow ended up in the water next to it.
Inigo commented, “My friend, that was brutal!”
“I was exercising my dragon, Inigo.”
“The Nix-Hound was still thrashing, so Felix dived into the water. He thought he could drag it to shore, and then Celestine could heal it.”
“He has a good heart.”
“Have you noticed…ahh….”
“Him and Lydia? Yes. I hope he is patient as she is not ready for romance.”
“It seems the reavers will be at each treasure burial spot.”
“Yep, it seems so. Let’s have a look.
By the time we reached the unearthed chest, blood from the reavers had formed a pool next to it.
Rigmor observed, “Another uncovered but unopened chest. Are all the reavers cowards?”
“It seems so. But I will be cautious.”
As before, I could detect no dweomer nor find any mechanical traps. I picked the lock to the chest, and within was the Deathbrand Armour. It had a strong dweomer to increase the wearer’s stamina and offered excellent physical protection.
I told my friends, “The next treasure spot is south of the jetty and Riekling camp. I will Recall to the Mark I left in the hut next to the jetty, then summon you.”
I did as I said, and we headed for the next treasure spot.
We came upon a Riekling hunting party that had surprised and killed a beautiful fox. They then found themselves attacked by aggressive mudcrabs who fancied fox for dinner.
The Riekling were doing well against the mudcrabs, but then one of them noticed us and attacked.
Just as Inigo his the Riekling with an arrow, Meeko leapt and tore its throat out.
We killed the other Rieklings. Thanks to Kyne’s Peace, the mudcrabs ignored us.
There was another uncovered, locked chest.
Felix asked, “Where are the reavers?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps they were scared away by Rieklings of the mudcrabs.”
I did the same safety routine with the chest and then opened it. Inside were the Deathbrand Gauntlets. They have a powerful dweomer to aid with one-handed weapon skill.
Rigmor came up to me.
“Yes, my beloved?”
“After we find the boots, are we heading for the barrow?”
“Yes. We are gathering the armour pieces quicker than I thought. Considering we detoured to save Baldor, we have done very well.”
“The next burial spot is near Tel Mithryn, isn’t it?”
“Yes, but we won’t be visiting Master Neloth.”
“Good! I don’t like him at all. Not one teeny weeny bit!”
I teleported us to Tel Mithryn.
We walked over to Talvas still trying to summon an Ash Guardian.
- Wulf: We told you, Talvas, that you need a catalyst.
- Celestine: Even if you managed to summon an Ash Guardian, you are too weak in Magicka to control it.
- Talvas: I know what I am doing, and kindly ask that you mind your business.
- Wulf: It is obvious you don’t know what you are doing. But we can’t stop idiots from being idiots, so keep practising. Who knows, you may eventually perfect stupidity!
As we headed for the treasure, we saw a Spriggan fighting three Ash Spawn.
We rushed over and annihilated the Ash Spawn.
When the Spriggan moved away, she was attacked by two reaver mages.
We killed the reaver mages.
Two reaver treasure hunters lay dead next to an unopened chest. Ash Spawn had killed them.
After checking for traps, I opened the chest and retrieved the Deathbrand Boots. They have a strong dweomer to increase the wearer’s strength.
Inside the right boot was a key. I assumed it was for Gyldenhul Barrow.
I told my friends, “Gyldenhul Barrow is on an island east of Skaal Village.”
We teleported to Skaal Village and then made our way to a cliff overlooking the entrance to the barrow.
Using Zoom-Vision, I could see two reaver sentries.
I pondered, “I wonder if my Thu’um will reach that far?”
I then Shouted Unrelenting Force and watched as it approached the reavers.
The force of my Shout was strong enough to kill both reavers, even from that distance.
We made our way to the shore and then swam to the island.
- Inigo: My friend, your Thu’um made ashes out of a reaver from way up there!
- Celestine: The scary thing is that Wulf is nowhere near as strong in The Voice as he will be.
- Wulf: Ancient Tongues could knock down city walls with The Voice. My father could do incredible things with it before an assassin cut his throat.
- Felix: Your father was a Tongue?
- Wulf: My father is Tiber Septim. My mother is Saint Alessia.
- Felix: Was that one of your bad jokes?
- Rigmor: No, Felix, Wulf is the son of two gods. He is mortal, and please, don’t change how you deal with him. You are privileged to know this information, and nothing must be said to others.
- Felix: I don’t know how to react to this.
- Wulf: All of us have parents. My parents are just a bit different. My real name is Valdr Septim.
- Felix: Did they raise you?
- Wulf: Yes, on a small island south of Roscrea. I left there at eighteen to train with The Dragonguard and Psijic Order.
- Celestine: Did Hermaeus Mora know your identity?
- Wulf: No, and neither did Lady Azura, Lady Boethia, Malacath or Lady Meridia. Uncle Sheo was the only Daedric Prince who even recognised me as a Septim, most likely because we were in the mind of another Septim.
- Rigmor: Close your mouth, Felix, unless you are trying to catch flies.
- Felix: Sorry if I am a bit stunned by this.
- Wulf: Miraak knows I am a Septim and son of two gods because I told him. I also told Mora just to demonstrate how little he knows about me.
- Felix: Your future adversary will not be prepared for The Guardian General and have no idea of your heritage.
- Rigmor: Hopefully, they won’t.
- Wulf: Let’s enter the barrow and see what goodies the pirates accumulated.
The key I recovered from the final chest unlocked the barrow’s entrance. We entered and found a fresh corpse of a Nord just inside. Next to him was a rare item, an Ancient Nord Pickaxe.
I searched the corpse and found a hastily scribbled note and key identical to the one I had just used. I read the note to my friends.
“To whoever reads this. You have been fooled!
This place is supposed to contain the richest treasure trove in all of Solstheim. Bah! It looks like this place was cleaned out centuries ago. The Stalhrim might be worth something, and my Ancient Nord Pickaxe is ideal for mining it. However, a reaver cut me with a poisoned dagger. I can feel the toxin coursing through my body, and I am already very weak.
It is a pity I am so weak, as I can feel a breeze. Alas, I will not live much longer. Perhaps there is more to this barrow. Maybe you weren’t fooled after all.”
Rigmor asked, “What is his name?”
“The note doesn’t say. Can I have quiet for a minute while I conduct Arkay’s Rights?”
After conducting the ritual, I inspected the small entrance alcove. The forward direction was blocked by fallen debris. The left and right directions terminated in coffins filled with Stalhrim.
Inigo said, “I can feel a breeze on my whiskers from the right side.”
“Yes, Meeko, I can feel it too.”
I picked up the Ancient Nord Pickaxe and chipped away at the Stalhrim.
After a few minutes, the Stalhrim was in pieces, and we could access a passage beyond the coffin.
Not far past the coffin was a set of doors.
I opened the doors, and we were greeted by the largest horde of treasure the others had ever seen.
- Inigo: My friend, this is amazing!
- Wulf: You should see Nafaalilargus’ horde. It makes this look tiny.
- Rigmor: How much is all this worth?
- Wulf: I don’t know till I have a look around. Even then, it will be a rough guess.
- Felix: What does Nafaalilargus do with his wealth?
- Wulf: Counts it and bathes in it.
There were several chests full of gold bars. Each bar would produce about four hundred and fifty Septims in coinage and sell for around four hundred Septims.
Jewel encrusted goblets and so on would have to be individually assessed.
There were piles of loose gold ingots, buckets of coins and dozens of coin piles.
After I looked for a few minutes, Rigmor asked, “Well, what is your rough estimation?”
“Between one hundred thousand and two hundred thousand Septims worth. I retrieved over twenty thousand in gems.”
“Councillor Morvayn will faint when you gift Solstheim this much!”
“And just as he recovers, you will make him faint again with your savvy negotiating.”
“Yeah, right. Pffft!”
“Why are you so unsure of yourself?”
“They are hundreds of years of age with far more experience than me.”
“You will offer them a better deal for their ebony than The East Empire company, provide their necessities cheaper and regularly, and they will feel indebted to you.”
“When they first saw you, the mempo made them see somebody different. I will remove the dweomer from the Councillors by asking them to look closely at you without the mempo. They will then see the real you. Then I will introduce you as Countess Rigmor Ragnarsdottier and explain how you have helped save their collective arses and provided the funds needed.”
“Will you be with me when I negotiate?”
“No, that is the duty of the Countess of Bruma, and I have no place in such a meeting. I will introduce you and leave. Felix will be in his Bruma armour and remain by your side.”
“I don’t want to disappoint you.”
“Rigmor, that is an impossibility.”
I did another quick tour of the room and then addressed my friends.
- Wulf: We still have to collect the last two pieces of the collection for the museum.
- Felix: Would they be Haknir’s weapons?
- Wulf: Yes. He was a dual-wielder, and his two cutlasses are probably with his corpse. They are called Bloodscythe and Soulrender.
- Inigo: Will there be zombies?
- Wulf: I don’t know. Perhaps we might find only a dusty, desiccated corpse and be unmolested.
- Lydia: What are the chances of that?
- Wulf: None, but don’t tell Inigo that.
- Lydia: My lips are sealed.
- Inigo: Lucky for me, I didn’t hear a thing.
We exited the treasure room via doors opposite the entrance.
At the end of a downward spiralling corridor was a large chamber.
At the end of the chamber were the skeletal remains of Haknir Death-Brand. Only one of his scimitars was with him.
I warned my friends, “This is too easy. If you haven’t noticed, a portcullis quietly lowered when we entered. Normally, we would have to fight our way to freedom. But we can always teleport out. However, we are here to retrieve the swords of a murdering bastard of a pirate who showed no mercy or remorse. Therefore, let’s get the fighting out of the way!”
I picked up the scimitar. It was Bloodscythe, and a Daedric dweomer on it absorbed health with every hit.
Near the entrance, eight spectral flames appeared.
The spirit of Haknir appeared in the centre of the flames.
Haknir’s spirit then attacked me.
I met him halfway across the room, parried his dual swords and cut him down.
The spirits of Haknir’s crew then attacked us.
We quickly disposed of twenty-four spirits before Haknir appeared once more.
I cut him down once more, and this time he was reduced to a puddle of ectoplasm, and the portcullis rose. Haknir’s other scimitar, Soulrender, clattered to the floor. I picked it up, and it had the same dweomer as Bloodscythe. When I held both scimitars, the effects of the dweomer increased.
I told my friends, “We can’t leave the treasure unattended. I will get another squad to guard it and help the Redoran Guard escort it to Raven Rock.”
We made our way to the treasure room, and I summoned Vayu. He looked around, and I laughed at his shocked expression.
- Vayu: I have never seen such treasure.
- Celestine: I hope you are talking about me.
- Vayu: Hello, my beloved. You have no idea how much I have missed you!
- Wulf: You two can have a chat in a minute.
- Vayu: Of course. Ah, what is all this and why have you summoned me?
- Rigmor: Hello, Vayu.
- Vayu: Oh, I didn’t notice you, Countess. Hello to you, and I assume the man with you is Felix.
- Rigmor: Vayu, this is Felix Decimus Varrus, a veteran of The Great War who fought beside my father for many years.
- Vayu: I am honoured to meet you, Felix.
- Rigmor: Felix, this is Vayu, Shaman and Grandmaster of The Dragonguard. He is also a good friend of Wulf’s, so his sanity is questionable.
- Felix: I am likewise honoured to meet you, Vayu.
- Meeko: Woof?
- Vayu: Yes, Meeko, it is also lovely to see you.
- Wulf: Are we all finished? Can I tell Vayu why he is here?
- Rigmor: Yes, Dragonbum, you have my permission to continue.
- Wulf: Vayu, this is the treasure of an infamous pirate captain called Haknir Death-Brand. I need you and a squad of Dragonguard to guard it till the Redoran Guard arrive. You are then to escort them to Raven Rock.
- Vayu: Can we expect trouble?
- Wulf: Here is a key to the only entrance. Lock it after we leave. I will give another key to the captain of the Redoran Guard.
- Vayu: Okay, we should be safe inside. How about when we transport it to Raven Rock?
- Celestine: Solstheim is crawling with reavers searching for this treasure. Who knows how desperate they are?
- Wulf: They are no match for the Redoran Guard and Dragonguard combined.
- Vayu: Okay, it sounds easy enough. We did enough escorts in Akavir to know the drill.
- Lydia: How is the Silverpeak Lodge build going?
- Vayu: It is almost completed. Ahh, Olette has collected an unusual pet in your absence, Wulf.
- Wulf: Nothing can be stranger than a pet Skeever.
- Vayu: If I said this one has eight hairy legs?
- Inigo: A spider that I can’t squish!
- Vayu: It is a fully grown Frostbite Spider no bigger than Skitch. Olette has named it Arachnia and assures me she will not bite anybody. It approached her when she was travelling with a few of the ladies to Whiterun.
- Wulf: Olette seems to attract animals looking for companionship.
- Vayu: Every time she leaves the boundaries of Silverpeak Lodge, she finds a new friend. She has brought home a goat called Hilda, a rabbit called Thistle and a fox she calls Sweetroll.
- Wulf: I suppose the animals will be educational and comforting when we have other children staying there.
- Vayu: That is what Olette said.
- Wulf: Is there anything else I should know?
- Vayu: The Moot was held, and they unanimously voted for Elisif. She is officially High Queen Elisif the Fair and will be crowned in a few weeks, but the date is yet to be finalised. Commander Maro has already approached us to be hidden security once more.
- Wulf: We hid at Vittoria Vici’s wedding to not alarm the guests. If we help at the crowning, we should wear Penitus Oculatus armour and be visible.
- Vayu: That is a good idea as long as our armour differs from the regular Penitus Oculatus Agents.
- Wulf: I am confident we can come up with something acceptable.
- Rigmor: I want to attend the crowning!
- Wulf: You will receive an invite. Personal guards will not be allowed at the ceremony, but Felix will be accommodated within The Blue Palace.
- Rigmor: Will His Imperial Majesty attend?
- Wulf: The Emperor has to. I think you will find every senior noble in The Empire and guests from other provinces will be there. Don’t be surprised if a certain Khajiiti emissary is there.
- Rigmor: Will you be invited?
- Wulf: Yes, but I will be a guard, not a guest. Elisif will understand.
- Vayu: Elisif told Auryen that one of her first official duties would be to finally open your museum, even though it had been accepting visitors for weeks.
- Wulf: Rigmor, don’t be surprised if Elisif asks you to stay for that event.
- Rigmor: I smell collusion.
- Wulf: Maybe.
I let Vayu and Celestine chat for some time before we teleported to Raven Rock.
As luck would have it, Captain Veleth was nearby doing his hourly rounds.
- Wulf: Captain Veleth, do you have a moment?
- Veleth: Yes, of course.
- Wulf: I have yet to speak to Councillor Morvayn, but we have recovered over one hundred thousand gold pieces belonging to Solstheim. It will require many carriages and guards to bring it safely to Raven Rock.
- Rigmor: And boats. The barrow is on an island.
- Veleth: We could do with the coin, but where is it from?
- Wulf: It is the ill-gotten gains of a famous and long-dead pirate called Haknir Death-Brand.
- Veleth: That treasure has attracted reavers for decades, but none have ever found it.
- Wulf: Well, some reavers did find it, but we found them and relieved them of it.
- Veleth: Why do you say it belongs to Solstheim?
- Wulf: Haknir plied his trade all over The Sea of Ghosts and did not care what province a ship left port. All was fair game. Therefore, the provenance of the treasure cannot be proven. Under international law, such treasure belongs to the province in which it was found. As finders, we are owed a percentage, which I have taken as gemstones, and the rest belongs to Solstheim.
- Veleth: Such wealth will attract reckless reavers in great numbers!
- Wulf: The Grandmaster of The Dragonguard, Vayu, is currently guarding the treasure with some of my