Fredas, 31st Frostfall, 4E 201
& Loredas, 1st Sun’s Dusk, 4E 201
During our morning meal, I outlined the history of The Tribunal and The Reclamations. This outline was necessary as we would be visiting Raven Rock’s Temple.
After visiting the temple, we planned to investigate Vahlok’s tomb.
First up, I would retrieve Azura’s Bane from my Aetherium Room plus take the many artefacts found to the museum.
After breaking our fast, it was time to start the day’s activities.
Rigmor asked, “How can Azura’s Bane exist in Aetherius?”
“Lady Azura made it, but the dweomer on it is not Daedric.”
“Well, don’t dawdle! Off you go!”
I willed myself to my Aetherius Room.
I looked at my Guardian General armour. I wondered how long it would be before I had to wear it again.
I retrieved Azura’s Bane from a weapon plaque.
I then teleported into the museum. A guard told me Auryen could be found in the library. I piled the Deathbrand armour, Black Books and other items on a table, then headed for the library.
Auryen saw me enter the museum and came down to talk to me.
“Just a quick visit, Auryen. I have retrieved the Deathbrand armour, the swords, Black Books and other items. They are in your office.”
“Have you dealt with Miraak?”
“Yes, I recruited him. He will live in the Safe House while adjusting to today’s Nirn.”
“You recruited the person who sent assassins after you?”
“Yes, I believe he has a good soul. Miraak sought knowledge for altruistic reasons. His error was getting involved with Hermaeus Mora as many who seek knowledge do.”
“That is a familiar story. I have witnessed several colleagues take that path, and not one escaped mental and moral harm.”
“Has High Queen Elisif said when she wants to do the official opening of Dragonborn Gallery?”
“Two days after her crowning. Most of the high nobility will still be in Solitude.”
“Well then, I had better return to Solstheim and collect more items for display!”
“Be careful, Wulf.”
I teleported to Severin Manor and gathered my friends.
As we walked through Raven Rock, the early morning sun shone, but that can change instantly. The dust storms are unpredictable and sudden.
Raven Rock’s market was just coming to life as we headed for the Temple.
The Temple’s entrance was blocked by an Attendant sweeping. I thought it a futile undertaking since a dust storm would cover the pavement once more.
The Attendant saw us approaching, lay the broom against the wall and stared with contempt on his face.
- Wulf: Excuse us, Attendant, but is Elder Othreloth in the Temple?
- Galdrus: You may have everyone fooled, but I see what you’re doing here. The call of gold sends you scurrying like a rat.
- Wulf: Who gave me gold for removing the Ash Spawn threat?
- Galdrus: I assume the Councillor. Why else would somebody like you do it?
- Wulf: Gold was offered, and I refused to take it. I asked for it to be given to the families of Redoran Guards killed by the Ash Spawn.
- Rigmor: Who gave Wulf gold for making the mine safe to use once more?
- Galdrus: The mine? Since when?
- Rigmor: If you took your head out of your arse, you might have known that news.
- Wulf: I accepted no payment for that task.
- Celestine: Who paid Wulf to save you from Miraak’s enslavement?
- Galdrus: Well…ahh…
- Inigo: What payment did Wulf receive for saving your freedom by defeating Alduin?
- Galdrus: Oh…umm…
- Celestine: Wulf has risked his life several times for you and asked for no payment!
- Inigo: This judgmental turd could show some gratitude.
- Wulf: What is your name?
- Galdrus: Attendant Galdrus Hlervu.
- Wulf: Why the venom, Galdrus? Is it the fact I am not Dunmer? Or perhaps you think me ignorant of The Reclamations?
- Galdrus: The Temple is for followers of our faith alone. Outsiders aren’t welcome here.
- Wulf: Excuse me, but I own property in Raven Rock and am not an outsider. Besides, the Temples of Reclamation are open to all, as are those of The Nine.
Galdrus crossed his arms, and his look of distaste triggered my anger.
I drew Azura’s Bane and held the sword before him. His eyes opened wide, and his jaw dropped as he read the Daedric runes. When he finished reading one side, I flipped it over so he could read the other. When he finished with both sides, he stared at me.
- Wulf: I am Azura’s Champion.
- Rigmor: He is also Boethia’s Champion.
- Wulf: Whatever the reason for your hatred, it makes you less than what you could be. Thank The Restorations that Skyrim and Cyrodiil do not emulate your bias. If they did, you would not be able to walk the streets of Raven Rock. They would be congested with those Dunmer that have been given refuge by ‘unbelievers.’
- Celestine: Not to mention Solstheim was gifted to the Dunmer by unbelievers!
- Lydia: Isn’t the largest statue of Lady Azura in the whole of Nirn in Skyrim?
- Rigmor: Wulf and I have spoken to Lady Azura and felt her love and compassion. Something we mistakenly thought priests of The Reclamations would also have.
- Galdrus: Blaspheming scum! From where did you steal that sword? As if our goddesses would make him their champion or speak to either of you!
Felix was livid at Galdrus’ tone and stepped forward with his fists clenched. Azura’s melodic voice saved Galdrus a beating.
“Attendant, come before me!”
A shaking Galdrus walked to the statue of Azura and knelt before it.
Azura’s conversation with Galdrus was done telepathically, privately and was brief. He stood, still shaking, and moved a small distance away.
I took his place but remained standing.
“Lady Azura, it is good to hear your voice again.”
“My champion and daughter, I have worries that you can ease.”
“How can we help?”
“My seers have seen potential violence in Raven Rock from those who still worship The False Tribunal. Their visions are not clear enough for me to discern names. Perhaps Elder Othreloth may have some inkling as to their identity.”
“It is not my place to intervene in religious disputes. However, I can’t ignore the potential danger to the good people of Raven Rock. I will speak to Elder Othreloth and see if he has concerns. Lady Azura, I will not harm people simply because they reject The Reclamations.”
“I am aware of that, my champion. I only ask that you investigate.”
“A humble request from one to who I owe so much.”
Azura said to Rigmor, “My daughter, you risk derision by having my statue erected.”
“His Imperial Majesty does not oppose Daedric worship. However, I am and always will be a devotee of The Nine, which is well known amongst my peers. Your statue will be a subject of gossip for a short time but be a permanent place of worship for some visitors to Bruma.”
“It is a sweet gift. Farewell, Rigmor and Wulf.”
Azura spoke no more, and I walked over to the Attendant.
- Wulf: Is that the first time Lady Azura has spoken to you?
- Galdrus: Yes, and to my shame, it was to admonish me.
- Rigmor: It should not take a god to teach you manners and respect!
- Galdrus: As Lady Azura made abundantly clear with her long and humbling dressing down.
- Felix: It seemed only seconds!
- Rigmor: Gobblygook, Felix.
- Felix: Ahh, that explains it.
- Wulf: Before we speak to Elder Othreloth, do you have suspicions on who may cause issues?
- Galdrus: Aphia Velothi. She may wear Robes of Azura, but her sympathies for The False Tribunal have often been demonstrated within the Temple. She is no longer welcome here for that reason.
- Wulf: I think Aphia is aware of the growing tensions but not involved in creating them. I shall talk with her if I think it necessary.
- Galdrus: You must understand what hardships Elder Othreloth suffered while keeping the faith during The False Tribunal’s ascendency.
- Rigmor: I assume Elder Othreloth and others were treated similarly to Talos worshippers within The Empire.
- Wulf: Perhaps both religions could have coexisted if more care had been taken.
- Galdrus: Perhaps. Please, accept my apology for my behaviour.
- Wulf: Apology accepted. If you don’t mind, we have to speak to Elder Othreloth.
We entered the Temple.
Elder Othreloth came to us.
- Wulf: Greetings, Elder Othreloth.
- Othreloth: Dragonborn and Dragonguard, you honour The Reclamations with your actions. What you have done for Solstheim will not be forgotten.
- Wulf: Please, call me Wulf. You were one of the Ashlanders who kept their faith in The Reclamations, once called The Anticipations.
- Othreloth: Yes, I moved from tribe to tribe, teaching about our true gods.
- Wulf: I admire the dedication required. Did you have dealings with The Dissident Priests?
- Othreloth: Not much. They fought for the truth in the major population centres. I preferred the barren ashlands where I could talk to many with less chance of violent retribution.
- Wulf: Still, it took courage and strong faith.
- Othreloth: You seem to serve many gods.
- Rigmor: Wulf is not only the Champion of The Divines but also of Boethia and Azura.
- Wulf: I am also a champion for one of The House of Troubles. But I did oppose another one in his realm in Oblivion!
- Othreloth: There is something about the sword you have on your back.
- Wulf: It was given to me by Lady Azura. Do you wish to hold it?
- Othreloth: No, for it is an instrument of violence. However, I have a problem it may help resolve.
- Wulf: Please, tell us what that may be.
- Othreloth: We can’t use the Ancestral Tomb beneath the Temple, so we have resorted to scattering remains elsewhere.
- Wulf: And why is that?
- Othreloth: Those foul vermin… the abominations we call Ash Spawn have risen from the ashes of our ancestors. They’re befouling the memories of our forefathers by defiling their remains.
- Rigmor: We shall cleanse the tomb for you.
- Othreloth: Thank you. That would be most kind. Here, this key should open the door to the tomb.
As we headed for the tomb, Felix asked, “Why didn’t you ask Elder Othreloth about suspected Tribunal troublemakers?”
“That topic is delicate, and Elder Othreloth would most likely be hesitant to involve us. Clearing the tomb of Ash Spawn will improve his disposition and trust towards us.”
“Gotcha! You do have to think on your feet.”
We entered the tomb.
Not far in, we saw Ash Spawn and drew our weapons.
I cleaved the first Ash Spawn I fought in two.
Meeko leapt and tore apart another.
We killed a dozen Ash Spawn, the last falling to Rigmor’s bow.
We left the Ancestral Tomb and gave Elder Othreloth the welcome news.
- Rigmor: We have cleared the Ash Spawn from the Ancestral Tomb.
- Othreloth: Spirits be praised! I’m hoping none of you suffered an injury at the hands of those foul beings!
- Meeko: Woof!
- Wulf: Meeko had to cough up lots of ash. Apart from that, nobody received even a scratch.
- Othreloth: I will not insult you by offering a reward.
- Rigmor: Use it to help the needy. We saw beggars on the streets of Raven Rock.
- Othreloth: Like everybody here, the lack of support from Morrowind has made us count our gold like misers.
- Rigmor: Perhaps with the reopening of the mine, prosperity and meaningful employment for all will follow.
- Othreloth: I shall pray for that outcome, and so will Galdrus. When he came inside, he was shaking. He informed me that you and he spoke to Azura. He says he understood in seconds what I have been trying to make him understand for months.
- Rigmor: I think Lady Azura was quite angry with him.
- Wulf: When you remove the differences in religion, all mortals are the same. Home, family and friends are more important than what gods you revere. The Divines know this and encourage such thoughts.
- Othreloth: Azura also emphasises such thinking.
- Rigmor: I often think of her as a combination of Mara and Dibella.
- Othreloth: She is similar to Mara. Copulation is the domain of Mephala.
- Rigmor: Oh.
- Othreloth: Attendant Galdrus said there is a problem that Azura asked you to investigate. He would not elaborate.
- Wulf: Lady Azura thinks there are radical devotees of The False Tribunal in Raven Rock. She fears they may be planning violence.
- Othreloth: Restoration investigators from the mainland recently sent me the transcript of an interview. The person interviewed is a known False Tribunal sympathiser, if not a devotee. He came forward as he was concerned that he might be innocently entangled in what could be a sinister plan. Here is the transcript of what he told the investigators.
Elder Othreloth handed me the transcript. I read it to my friends.
“Kenro was a strange one. Always skulking about, perusing my wares, but never buying.
I’d ask him if he wanted a sword, and he’d say, ‘Not today.’
So, I’d ask him if he’d fancy a set of armour. And again, he says, ‘Not today.’
Every day for a month, the same song and dance. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Or so I thought.
One day I opened the shop, checked my wares, and found a mistake in the shipment. Inside the crate is an odd gem, lumped in with the usual iron and steel. Figuring it for a mistake, I was about to send it back when Kenro walked into the store.
I gave him the usual greeting and asked him if he wanted to buy some wares, fully expecting him to say the words, ‘Not today.’
But to my surprise, he doesn’t. Today, he wants to buy.
He doesn’t want a sword or a shield. He wants the gem. As he hands me the coin, I get a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach, like this is the last time I’ll see him. So, I ask him where he’s headed. He tells me he’s going to see a blacksmith. I’m not sure if that’s a joke, seeing as I run the forge.
When I ask him which smith, he tells me, a Dwarven one in Fahlbtharz.
My face goes white. Kenro says, ‘You look like you’ve seen a ghost.’
I say to him, ‘No, have you?’ And he just smiled.”
- Wulf: Fahlbtharz is in Solstheim.
- Othreloth: Yes, and after receiving this information a week ago, I asked Captain Veleth to keep an eye out for Kenro’s arrival in Raven Rock. He arrived yesterday.
- Rigmor: Is Kenro a suspected Tribunal devotee?
- Othreloth: Yes, but that is not illegal, so Captain Veleth did not approach him or arrest him. In light of what Azura said, I think Kenro and Fahlbtharz need investigating.
- Wulf: Fahlbtharz is not far from The Water Stone. What is Kenro’s full name?
- Othreloth: Kenro Hlan. We believe he calls himself Hand Kenro Hlan.
- Wulf: In that case, this will be a good test of how militant they are.
- Felix: Is Hand a rank?
- Wulf: Hands were, or are, the personal guards of Almalexia. Their full title was Hands of Almalexia or Her Hands.
- Celestine: As Wulf explained this morning, Almalexia went insane after she lost her divinity. She killed Sotha Sil, and The Nerevarine killed her. Her orders to people like Kenro may be unpredictable and even delusional if she has been resurrected.
- Wulf: We will approach Kenro with weapons sheathed and without stealth. He will have no reason to attack us.
- Rigmor: If he attacks us, do we assume all those associated with him are militant?
- Wulf: No, but it would indicate some of them may be paranoid.
- Inigo: Elder Othreloth, would people like Kenro need to fear you or your investigators?
- Othreloth: No. As I said, continuing to worship The False Tribunal is not illegal. Some temples even have statues of them recognising their sainthood. Certain people have been pressurising me to have such statues. I am afraid the suffering I experienced and saw whilst keeping the true faith alive makes that impossible.
- Wulf: Okay, we shall see what Kenro says and go from there.
As Elder Othreloth walked away, Rigmor asked, “If this doesn’t take long, will we visit Vahlok’s tomb today?”
“More than likely. I don’t know much about Fahlbtharz. It might be one of those large and unbearably boring Dwemer ruins.”
I teleported us to The Water Stone, and then we tackled a steep climb.
It wasn’t long before we sighted Fahlbtharz.
Inigo quipped, “That place reminds me of Lydia.”
Lydia asked, “How can Dwemer ruins possibly remind you of me?”
“Oh, not the looks but its name. Fahlbtharz and fat arse. Very similar, don’t you think?”
Lydia tried to look angry for a second but gave in and joined the laughter.
My map didn’t show how to get to Fahlbtharz’s entry. We couldn’t do it from up high, so we headed down.
Several reavers were accosting a Skaal hunter.
After killing the reavers, I recognised the hunter.
“Gisthor Boar-Seer, I am glad we could come to your aid.”
“Reavers usually leave us hunters alone. We have nothing of value for them to steal.”
“They may be protecting something rather than trying to steal.”
“I have no idea what they would be guarding around here.”
“Well, I see some more reavers up the rise, running from a troll.”
“Perhaps I can sneak past while the troll has lunch?
A few minutes later, as we inspected the dead reavers, we heard a skirmish where Gisthor was headed.
We ran to his aid. The reaver he faced was downed by an arrow from Inigo and Meeko tearing out his throat.
Gisthor said, “Thank you again, Skaal Friends.” He then continued his journey.
We found the trail to Fahlbtharz, and Rieklings heavily defended it.
After killing dozens of the annoying blue ankle-biters, we reached the entrance.
We entered Fahlbtharz, and I exclaimed, “Well, this is something different. A Dwemer ruin populated by Riekling, not Falmer.”
We killed a few Riekling.
Then we came upon other Riekling killed by somebody or something else.
Arrows embedded in one Riekling corpse suggested a mortal, not a Dwemer Automaton, was the killer.
We entered a small chamber populated by dead Riekling, a Dwemer Draugr Automaton, a Dwemer Spider and the spirit of a Tonal Architect.
I cut down the Draugr, then got hit by Unrelenting Force. Even with my natural resistance, I still got knocked to the floor.
As I got to my feet, I heard Inigo’s “Hyah!” He had cut down the spirit.
I inspected the Dwemer Draugr Automaton.
- Wulf: Inigo, come and have a look at this.
- Inigo: It is a metal zombie. There is nothing I would like to look at less.
- Lydia: Poor Inigo has probably soiled his pants with fear.
- Inigo: Lydia naked would be scarier than any Draugr, metal or not.
- Rigmor: How come that spirit could use The Voice?
- Wulf: When alive, he was a Tonal Architect. They studied sound and light their entire life. Therefore it is logical that some would have studied The Voice.
We could see a large chamber full of rotating, giant Dwemer gears through some grating.
- Wulf: I wonder if Sotha Sil made that machinery?
- Felix: What do those giant cogs operate?
- Wulf: Nothing. It is a sort of maze. You could easily get disoriented as you jump from cog to cog.
- Rigmor: One false step, and you would get squished.
- Wulf: There are probably automatons that suddenly appear and try to make you lose balance.
- Felix: Nice people.
- Wulf: Extinct people.
We entered a small room. The only other exit was locked gates. A faint voice could be heard coming from the left of the gate.
- Wulf: Inigo, you have better hearing than us. What is that person saying?
- Inigo: I don’t know. The language is very guttural and harsh.
- Wulf: From what I can hear, I think it is Daedric. I would say we have found Hand Kenro Hlan.
- Felix: Is Daedric another language you know, Wulf?
- Wulf: I can read and write it. I can understand most of it when spoken. It depends on the speaker’s accent.
- Rigmor: How do we open the gate?
- Wulf: One of the ten buttons over there will open it.
- Rigmor: Which one?
- Wulf: I don’t know. Therefore, I will push each one in turn!
- Rigmor: What will happen if you push the wrong one?
- Wulf: I have no idea. Isn’t this exciting?
- Felix: You can’t even see the dent in his head.
- Rigmor: The damage was all internal.
- Wulf: If I was a bastard, which the Dwemer were, where would I place the correct button? Most people would start from the top left, complete the top row, and then continue with the bottom left. A bastard would make it one of the last buttons using that method. Therefore, I will do the opposite and start bottom right.
I pushed the bottom right button. That released a Dwemer Spider, which was quickly destroyed. The button second from right on the bottom row opened the gate.
- Celestine: That was logical for us, Wulf, because we read left to right, top to bottom. The Dwemer did the opposite.
- Rigmor: Ha! Not so smart after all!
- Wulf: I got the correct button on the second try!
- Rigmor: More arse than class.
- Inigo: Are we talking about Lydia again?
- Felix: There is nothing wrong with Lydia’s arse!
The distant Daedric chanting was the only thing breaking the silence. Lydia smiled at Felix’s discomfort, so I rescued him by proceeding through the gate and to the left.
When we came to a door, I told my friends, “There is a single person beyond that door. I guess it is Kenro Hlan.
I used my Thu’um, “KENRO HLAN, WE ARE APPROACHING WITH WEAPONS SHEATHED. WE MEAN YOU NO HARM BUT MERELY WANT TO TALK.”
When we entered, Kenro screamed, “You are Her enemies! Stay away from me!”
I noticed a puddle of ectoplasm on the floor. Kenro ran to the left-hand side of the room. I approached, weapon sheathed, and said, “We are not enemies of Mother Morrowind. Sheath your weapons!”
With a snarl, Kenro attacked.
Unrelenting Force turned him to ash.
Amongst the ashes, I recovered a note, a vial of Pyroil Tar, an elaborate, unenchanted sword and a white gem with a Dwemer metal sleeve.
I read the note to the group.
“Hand Kenro’s Note
Information on how to fix a machine
I live to serve only Her. Always Her.
I have found the forge, and Her fire will burn when its spark is lit. The Spectre once worked the gears of this swollen machine, but I no longer require his service. The mechanism is simple. With this vial of Pyroil Tar, I have all that is required to ignite it.
Tar lit the flame once before, and tar will do so again. And when I return triumphant, fire in hand, she will embrace me again.
But I have a problem. The machine requires four gems to power it, and I have procured only one. The others, it seems, are still out there. Yet I do not doubt that as Her chosen, she will guide me to them.
For now, I will return to the temple. The entrance sits above the mine in Raven Rock, perched atop basalt cliffs. But even if one finds the cave, only the devout know the way inside the temple. I spin the words, and the way opens.”
I said, “Look at the bottom of the note.” I then gave the note to Rigmor. When everybody had seen the note, it was handed back to me.
- Celestine: They are the Daedric letters for ASV.
- Wulf: They represent the three gods of The Tribunal. Almalexia, Sotha Sil and Vivec.
- Inigo: He wrote that he serves only her. I assume he means Almalexia.
- Wulf: Yes, that is right. But I am puzzled as to why he wrote the note. Why put in writing how you open the door to their temple? And why record where the temple is?
- Celestine: I think the note was a reminder to himself. I think Kenro was as insane as his mistress and knew he might forget those things.
- Wulf: That is a valid assumption.
- Felix: Their temple is close to Raven Rock. Why choose to build it there instead of another cave or ruins?
- Wulf: Maybe it was an existing religious site.
- Rigmor: What is Pyroil Tar?
- Celestine: It is a very rare reagent used to create weapons that do fire damage.
- Wulf: One of the most revered artefacts is TrueFlame, the sword of Saint Nerevar. It was given to him by Dumac, King of the Dwemer, as a wedding present when Nerevar married Almalexia. Almalexia wielded its twin called Hopesfire. Both blades must occasionally be coated with Pyroil Tear to keep their flames alight.
- Celestine: Kenro had that pretty sword with him. Do you think it might be Hopesfire or TrueFlame?
- Rigmor: Kenro said something about returning with flame in hand.
- Wulf: I can’t be sure and might have to ask Auryen, but I think this sword is either TrueFlame or a replica.
We looked closely at the machinery mentioned by Kenro, and I handed around the gem with the Dwemer metal sleeve.
- Wulf: You place four sleeved gems in the corner receptacles. Then you cover the blade of the sword with Pyroil Oil and place it in the central slot. The machine would then create TrueFlame or a replica thereof.
- Rigmor: Are we going to search for the gems?
- Wulf: It is not a priority.
- Felix: Kenro had some skill. At our feet are the remains of a Dwemer Spectre. We saw the dead Rieklings and destroyed Dwemer automatons.
- Wulf: If you claim to be a guard of a god, you should have skill.
- Lydia: What next?
- Wulf: I am still not sure how militant these people are. Therefore, we need to visit their temple.
- Rigmor: To Raven Rock then!
- Wulf: I will place a Mark as I think we may be returning here eventually.
I placed a Mark, and then we teleported to Raven Rock.
We searched above the ebony mine for the entrance to Ashfall’s Tear.
We found a cave entrance and entered, not knowing if it was Ashfall’s Tear.
We came upon a small cavern at the end of a short, natural corridor. There were three rotating columns, each with three sides, and each side showed a letter of the Daedric alphabet.
Two tapestries depicted Sotha Sil and Vivec.
To the right of a lowered stone door was a pull chain.
In front of the door were holes from which spears would thrust upwards.
The pull chain would raise the stone door if the columns showed the correct combination.
Several skeletons on the floor proved two things. First, they proved that the temple had been here for some time. The second is that Nirn is full of stupid people.
- Wulf: Oh, dear, how will we ever figure out this puzzle? We might as well leave!
- Inigo: My friend, it might have been difficult without Kenro’s note.
- Celestine: No, Inigo, it would not. The three columns have three sides each. Therefore, the possible combinations are three times three times three which equals twenty-seven.
- Felix: It would take a couple of minutes to try all twenty-seven. That is stupid!
- Wulf: If you stand to the side when pulling the chain, the spears won’t touch you.
- Felix: That is even stupider!
- Lydia: These dead people were probably more intelligent than Inigo.
- Inigo: A rock is more intelligent than you.
We all laughed as I set the right combination as told in Kenro’s note.
I pulled the chain, and the door rose with loud grating and dust.
At the end of a short, downward corridor was a chamber. In the centre of the chamber was a colossal statue of Almalexia. Two Ordinators guarded a doorway to what must be the temple.
We made our way to the chamber floor, weapons sheathed.
When the Ordinators charged, I drew my sword.
I cut down one and then the other.
- Felix: Nice armour!
- Wulf: It was initially the armour of House Indoril. Almalexia, Sotha Sil and Vivec were members of that Great House before becoming gods. Subsequently, Indoril Armour was used by elite guards, called Ordinators.
- Felix: It is difficult to gauge how skilled our opponents are. You and Rigmor always cut them down with ease.
- Rigmor: Most opponents are too predictable. They learn the same weapon forms and use them without variation.
- Wulf: Enemies are invariably unprepared for the speed of Rigmor’s sword. They think they face a slow, cumbersome greatsword in the hands of a petite and beautiful young woman and that it will be easily dodged or blocked. Instead, they find it slicing through their flesh before their defensive manoeuvre is finished.
- Rigmor: My swing is faster with this kai-katana.
- Wulf: It looks like the statue of Almalexia is carved from a single rock.
- Celestine: It would take decades to carve!
- Wulf: The question is, was the statue here before The Reclamations? If so, that suggests this temple was also here.
- Lydia: Or have they managed to construct this temple since The Reclamations?
- Felix: This place is so close to Raven Rock it would be difficult to hide its construction.
- Rigmor: The skeletons in the antechamber are likely those of people who would be missed. Search parties would be arranged and the totem puzzle discovered.
- Wulf: The temple’s history is intriguing, but we must concentrate on the people who use it. Are they a threat to Raven Rock?
As we explored, we noticed that ebony ore was abundant in minable quantities.
- Wulf: Crescius said he searched for alternate ebony sources all over Solstheim.
- Rigmor: Perhaps he found the antechamber, and his wife asked him to keep quiet about it?
- Felix: That shithead priest had his suspicions about Aphia.
- Wulf: Now, now, Felix. Attendant Galdrus did apologise.
- Felix: An apology does not remove shitheadiness!
- Rigmor: Shitheadiness?
- Felix: A common disease rampant amongst the Bruma elite.
- Rigmor: Pardon?
- Felix: You are immune, Rigmor. You treat all people fairly.
- Lydia: Except for Thalmor.
- Rigmor: Thalmor are not people! They are slime!
Heart Stone was also abundant within the caves.
We could hear many voices before we saw the speakers.
Inigo said, “My friend, they are squabbling like siblings.”
“It seems they can’t even agree on basic dogma.”
We stood at the entrance to a large chamber. I could see eight people. Five, including a mage with a mushroom helmet, were having a heated argument about specifics of Tribunal dogma. Three people were watching the proceedings, one of them an Orsimer. The other two were Ordinators.
A woman standing behind a podium seemed to have some authority as the bickering stopped when she demanded it. To either side of her were two Hands. One male, the other female.
We approached with weapons sheathed. Before I could say a word, we were noticed, and all eight dissenters attacked us.
I decided to tackle the mage first.
He raised a Ward before I reached him and was armed with a knife made from Dragonbone.
I growled, “You dare use a weapon made from my brother!”
I plunged my sword vertically through his clavicle and into his heart.
I became the central focus of the enemy. My friends rallied around me, and soon all the aggressors lay dead.
Celestine healed the group even though the worst injury was a minor cut.
Inigo growled, “They were not very welcoming! Mr Dragonfly is very angry.”
“Yes, Meeko, I saw your flying leap as you knocked the priest over.”
The fight was over quickly with relatively little noise. We could hear hammering in the distance. I don’t think the hammerer would have heard anything.
I searched the male Hand and found his journal, and discovered his name is Kydren Indobar.
I read the relevant part of the journal to my friends.
“Five Hands served Her once. Yet those numbers have dwindled, and as I stand here alongside hedge wizards, sellswords, and other vermin on two legs, I cannot help but weep for the Lady and her station.
Still, I will not allow them access to the armoury. They do not deserve the honour of wearing the sacred garb. To do so means you are an extension of the Goddess. Our bodies and soul belong to Her and are fortified by her divine magic. So it was for my ancestors, and so it is for me.
I will not see my Lady’s hands covered in filth. The Matriarch may have granted them a place on the dais, but while they stand eye to eye, they are still beneath us. And so, they are beneath Her.
I would slay all of them, but I stay my hand for Her sake. As long as they are loyal and do the Lady’s bidding, I will allow their hearts to remain beating against their soiled flesh.”
- Inigo: That explains the not-so-friendly chat they were having.
- Wulf: Almalexia was no longer a god when The Nerevarine killed her. Kydren’s soul and body were no longer fortified by divine magic.
- Rigmor: If Kenro was a hand, why wasn’t he wearing this fancy armour?
- Felix: If any of them wore their traditional armour in public, they would arouse suspicion.
- Rigmor: Duh! That was obvious, Rigmor. I know, but I can be so silly sometimes.
- Inigo: Yes, Mr Dragonfly, Rigmor is speaking to herself. Not everybody can be normal like us.
- Lydia: Fanatics can be amusing till they become homicidal.
The female Hand and Temple Priest had nothing of importance upon them.
The Orsimer called herself Vesparth the Toe. She had a journal. I read part of it to my friends.
“Indobar’s a riot. Every day he reminds us how we’re not worthy of wearing his precious Ordinator armour, even though I’m pretty sure if push came to shove, I could take him.
But since I’m not good enough to be Her Hand, I started calling myself Almalexia’s Toe just for fun. Dirty little toe at that, with a lot of ash under the nail.
I tossed the idea to Indobar and knocked back another pint as the veins on his forehead started popping. I also offered to anoint Sindras as Almalexia’s navel because why not? There are enough body parts on her ladyship for all of us.
Indobar didn’t think it was amusing. It must be in the blood. The same goes for me, as my ancestors were Armigers. Loyal to Vivec, and more importantly, knew how to take a joke.
Can’t tell whose side Sindras is on, but you can’t get a read on what the mage thinks, given he’s got a mushroom on his head.”
- Rigmor: What is an Armiger?
- Wulf: Their full title was Buoyant Armiger. They were knights-errant who served Vivec. They were experts at personal combat, chivalric courtesy and subtle verse.
- Lydia: Pompous milk drinkers!
- Rigmor: I wonder how many pieces of cutlery they had to use at supper?
- Celestine: Surely you don’t put up with that silly etiquette when no guests dine with you?
- Rigmor: Freathof tried to make me eat like a lady when guestless. I asked him which fork would be the correct one to shove up his rectum.
- Wulf: Oh, very well done, milady! Common scum would assume a spoon to be the correct implement for anal insertion.
- Rigmor: Well, thank you, Shoe Pooh.
- Felix: You have called Wulf many names, but Shoe Pooh?
- Celestine: I instructed Rigmor to treat Wulf with contempt to practice her snootiness. To do so, she was to regard him as no more than excrement on the sole of her shoe.
- Rigmor: Don’t worry, Felix. You are a higher-quality turd.
- Felix: Ahh, good… I think.
- Inigo: Vespath the Toe is more interesting than Vespath. Naming yourself after body parts sounds like fun!
- Lydia: I agree, Inigo the Haemorrhoid.
- Inigo: A haemorrhoid is not a body part.
- Lydia: Maybe not, but it suits you.
I searched Sindras the Navel and the Ordinators and found nothing useful.
I then searched the woman who had been behind the podium. On her were written orders, a key and a journal which I quickly read.
I told the group, “This is Matriarch Drevlan, the cult leader. Listen to this passage from her journal.”
“When I first entered the great chamber, I was in the High Chapel, nestled in her glow again.
Great pillars surrounded the stone where the Goddess Almalexia once stood. Mournhold had shed its skin to reveal a temple of rock and bone as if it were washed in the fire.
I knew then that this stone was the heart of our Goddess. And through faith, love, and sweat, we have slowly restored Her flesh.
Now that she is almost complete, my thoughts turn to my old friend, Erden Relvel. He was the Diviner whose scrying brought us to this holy place. Without him, none of this would be possible. Yet time and toil changed him to the point I questioned his devotion. Wherever he is, I hope he has regained his love for Her.
Regardless, our work does not end there. With Her Hands to guide me, we will rid this world of Her dissidents. We will reunite the fires of hope and truth under Her banner and theirs, and let the light of ALMSIVI shine on servants and apostates alike.”
- Rigmor: They want to use violence to restore The False Tribunal.
- Wulf: I think they are trying to resurrect Almalexia using Heart Stone.
- Celestine: I noticed several large deposits outside and inside this temple.
- Wulf: Heart Stone was created when molten rock lay close to Lorkhan’s Heart for an extended period. When Red Mountain erupted, Heart Stone was scattered over Solstheim. Matriarch Drevlan sensed the same power in Heart Stone as in Almalexia. That is due to Almalexia becoming a goddess after syphoning power from Lorkhan’s Heart.
- Rigmor: That is how the three members of The Tribunal became gods.
- Wulf: Yes.
- Celestine: The Diviner, Erden Relvel, may have realised that Heart Stone is not what The Matriarch thinks it is.
- Felix: And that is why The Matriarch questions his devotion.
- Rigmor: My dear Dragonborn, can you please explain once more? Why did Azura want The Tribunal destroyed?
- Wulf: Sotha Sil angered Lady Azura when he claimed The Chimer didn’t need to worship Daedra any longer. That is when she cursed them, and they became Dunmer. The Nerevarine performed tasks for Lady Azura and The Nine, and she asked them to deal with The Tribunal. They defeated Dagoth Ur, destroyed Lorkhan’s Heart and hid Kagrenac’s Tools. When that was done, the three Tribunal members became mortal once more. Almalexia killed Sotha Sil. The Nerevarine killed Almalexia. Vivec vanished during The Oblivion Crisis.
- Felix: Why do you refer to The Neveravine as they instead of he or her?
- Wulf: The Neveravine’s gender is unknown. Very few people saw them without their distinctive Bonemold armour.
- Celestine: It seems these heretics are receiving orders from somebody. Could Almalexia be alive?
- Wulf: I don’t know. But they are religious fanatics, and I question their sanity.
- Lydia: Who knows what little voices in their heads are telling them?
- Inigo: I wonder if they echo like the little voices in your head?
- Lydia: You are in fine form today, Inigo. I have some catching up to do.
- Wulf: Now, listen to a later entry from the matriarch’s journal.
“Rumours have long stalked the temple halls of the return of The Sharmat, spreader of Corpus, the corrupter of hearts, the architect of The Akulakhan. I speak, of course, of the blighted one, Dagoth Ur.
We now know this word has been spread by a traitorous priest who once served Her faithfully. He is the Diviner, a necromancer, and my former friend, Erden Relvel.
It is his creations that accosts Her temple, but I know not the source of his power. My fear is the truth may be found in the armoury.
Before we began building this temple, my predecessor gave me a gift. Or rather, a responsibility. A box.
The box was to be placed in the armoury but never opened. His voice stumbled at the mere mention of it, and his hands gripped the edges as if to drop it would shatter the world. I heeded his warning when he begged me never to look inside. To this day, I do not know how to open the rear gate.
Yet the restoration of this temple has required many hands, and not all of them Hers. It’s possible someone has found a way inside.
Evil can be vanquished only with the full power of The Tribunal and our Goddess’ will.”
- Wulf: The Matriarch had a very biased view of what is evil. Almalexia participated in the murder of her husband, Saint Nereva, then broke her vow to Lady Azura and used Kagrenac’s Tools on The Heart of Lorkhan. She killed Sotha Sil and then attacked the city named after her.
- Rigmor: There is a puzzle to be solved.
- Inigo: And my friend, we know you cannot resist a puzzle.
- Wulf: Does logic tells you what is in the sealed box?
- Lydia: They worship Almalexia, and I think it would be something associated with her. I think it is Hopesfire, her sword.
- Wulf: They might treat that sword with reverence but not fear.
- Rigmor: Dagoth Ur is their enemy. Perhaps it is something of his?
- Felix: It could be a pair of Almalexia’s smelly underpants, stains and all. That would explain the fear of opening the box!
- Lydia: Eww!
- Rigmor: Eww!
- Celestine: Eww!
- Inigo: I wonder what colour?
- Felix: Behold the sacred skid mark!
- Rigmor: Poor Felix. A couple of days amongst The Dragonguard, and his brain has gone mushy.
- Celestine: We remove our brains as part of the joining ritual to avoid that problem.
- Rigmor: Sometimes I could believe that.
- Inigo: The Matriarch wrote, ‘Evil can be vanquished only with the full power of The Tribunal and our Goddess’ will.’
- Wulf: What a load of big hairy cobblers! The Champion of Azura, The Nerevarine, defeated Dagoth Ur. I think I could take him down as well. The Tribunal could not.
- Celestine: Unlike dragons, you could not destroy Dagoth Ur’s soul. He would return, as he seemingly has now.
- Wulf: But The Nerevarine destroyed Lorkhan’s Heart before battling Dagoth Ur. Dagoth Ur was killed, and I see no way he could return. There was nothing to protect his soul.
- Lydia: I think we are dealing with a group of delusional people who think these artificial gods have returned.
- Wulf: As do I. But we can’t dismiss the idea that Erden Relvel is an enslaved follower of a resurrected Dagoth Ur. Dagoth Ur could recruit weak-willed people via their dreams.
- Rigmor: Is Sharmat another name for Dagoth Ur?
- Wulf: The concept of a Sharmat is challenging to explain. Think of a Sharmat as the evillest of beings. Dagoth Ur is the only being ever to be given that title and only by Dunmer who worship The Tribunal.
- Rigmor: And what is The Akulakhan?
- Wulf: It was a colossal Dwemer Automaton designed to be a god. A replica of Father’s Numidium. Almalexia could not save her people from it. Once again, The Nerevarine, Azura’s champion, was needed.
- Rigmor: Have you ever spoken to Talos about the use of Numidium?
- Wulf: The conflicting histories of Tiber Septim all have a grain of truth. Father said I would decide what is the real story over time.
- Celestine: It is better that Wulf forms an opinion rather than be given one by Talos.
- Wulf: The reasons for that are complex.
- Lydia: What next?
- Wulf: There was one other thing on Matriarch Drevlan. It is a written order she would have given one of her subordinates.
I read the order to my friends.
“The Goddess commands you to recover the artefacts of her fellow God-Kings. We have received word that the Mask of Vivec is being transported from Raven Rock to an unknown ship at the dock. We don’t know the destination, only that to ensure secrecy, multiple fake couriers are being used to hide the identity of the mask bearer.
However, our contact at the docks says the actual courier is a Redoran Guard named Vavhus Dalsrara. He patrols the Bulwark, and it seems he has plans of his own for the mask. He’s arranged a meeting with a buyer at an unknown location.
Vavhus’ greed angers the Goddess, as does the buyer. Track the guard’s movements, dispose of them, and return the artefact to her rightful hands.
In addition, the Goddess’ temple requires new servants to restore this temple and provide valuable services. Speak to Priest Drureth. He will hand you a letter to be delivered to the banished priestess, Aphia Velothi, in Raven Rock. She is a friend to The Tribunal and will translate it so it can be passed to the common folk.
When you meet her, be sure to also inquire about the whereabouts of our apothecary, Curate Melita. She had been in search of the Mask of Sotha Sil.
Succeed, and you will gain access to the Goddess’ armoury. Fail, and you will incur her wrath.
The law is as the Goddess commands.”
- Wulf: The note is dated today. One of those we just killed was supposed to do this task.
- Celestine: What language would need translating?
- Wulf: I have no idea. But we know there is a priest called Drureth.
- Rigmor: The priest we just killed had nothing on him.
- Wulf: We will search this place. Perhaps we shall find his room.
- Felix: And whoever is hammering away.
- Inigo: Red. Yes, I think red is the answer.
- Rigmor: What is red?
- Inigo: Red is the colour of Almalexia’s underwear inside the box.
- Lydia: Pervert!
- Inigo: Hey, I am not the one who made her knickers a sacred relic!
- Rigmor: Getting back to the business at hand. There are four exits, including the one we entered. Which one first, Shoe Pooh?
- Wulf: For no reason other than I am facing that way, we shall take the passage behind the podium.
We headed down the passage.
When we came to a fork, we decided to go left as that is where the hammering was emanating.
The hammering originated from a Dunmer in monk robes chiselling a stone.
We approached with weapons sheathed.
I said, “Hello.”
The sculptor slowly rose and reached for his knife.
Inigo leapt past me and, with a loud ‘Hyah!’, killed the sculptor.
I searched the corpse and found nothing of use.
He spent his time endlessly carving Daedric letters onto rectangular rocks.
I found his journal on a shelf and discovered his name is Vishtar Athrthyn. I read the relevant section to my friends.
“The statue was my masterpiece, my one true love. Some say she is too large, too grand, but I would have made Her a thousand feet tall if I could. For my love is a titan, and we are but useless worms, grovelling at Her feet.
However, sculpting a goddess came with no shortage of anxiety. The pressure I felt to chisel every line, hone every curve, and do so with exacting precision was almost too much to bear. But the result is one I take immense pride in.
These days, the anxious voices in my head are no more. Instead, they speak in a patois of ease and routine. I’ve fallen into a simple routine, making shrines with basic carvings in tribute to the three.
Yet it is the risk that makes a sculptor an artist. It is daring that turns the ordinary into the sublime.
I dared to sculpt a Goddess once. As I chisel away at these blocks of stone, doing the same tired work, I wonder, is it too late to be that bold again?”
- Rigmor: I don’t think carving a massive statue of Almalexia was good for his health.
- Wulf: I agree. It seems that carving these stones was a sort of therapy.
- Celestine: If he had not drawn a weapon, he might have lived to carve other masterpieces.
- Wulf: Everyone of them has attacked without bothering to talk. I don’t think any of them have been mentally stable.
- Rigmor: A few sheep short in the top paddock?
- Wulf: Exactly!
- Felix: Huh?
- Rigmor: Insane.
- Felix: Oh, I get it now.
- Celestine: I have an ointment to fix that.
We traversed more corridors till we came to a well-furnished room.
A pull chain operated a stone door.
Through the door was a very short tunnel leading to the meeting room.
I leapt down and took a different exit.
A short corridor ended in a room with fresh water where the heretics grew Ash Yams.
He headed back to the meeting chamber. There was only one exit we hadn’t tried, so that is where we went.
At the end of another short corridor was a large room. Within the room sat a priest staring into infinity.
I walked over and asked, “Priest Drureth? Didn’t you hear the fighting and dying?”
The priest leapt out of his seat and ignored me.
Instead, he rushed Inigo, who lazily cut him down.
I laughed and said, “Yes! I wasn’t the target of mindless violence and hate. Yippee!”
Inigo replied, “He must have been jealous of my good looks.”
I found the note on the priest that Aphia was meant to translate.
It was in Daedric, and I read it to the group in Tamrielic.
“You have lost the temple, but you are not lost. The right place exists in the wrong time.
Know that when the great egg Baar Dau cracked open, from its rotten yolk spilt the Dissident Priests and heretics, full of lies and falsehoods that give shape to Othreloth and his Reclamation. But in reality, the bile spewed by the Lie Rock cannot fool a Minister of Truth for long.
The Tribunal will rise once more, and the Grand Inquisitors will judge all from the beginning. For entry to our temple is the ending of words, ALMSIVI.”
- Wulf: It is pathetic that devotees of Daedric Princes can’t transcribe Daedric writing.
- Rigmor: Does it mention Aphia?
- Wulf: Yes, in Dunmeri is says, ‘Priestess Velothi. Here is the transcript of the letter we found in the archives. Your expertise in this matter is required, as is your discretion.’
- Celestine: When Vivec vanished, they used a machine designed by the Dark Lord, Clavicus Vile, to keep Baar Dau in the sky. They had to sacrifice souls to make it work. Eventually, they started to sacrifice live prisoners to keep it aloft. Then they randomly chose innocent civilians for sacrifice. That started an uprising, and Baar Dau crashed into Vivec City.
- Rigmor: When it fell, it caused Red Mountain to erupt. Is that right?
- Wulf: Yes, Rigmor, that is what happened. However, Vivec could have removed Baar Dau whenever he wanted to. He kept it hovering over Vivec City as a sort of bribe. Respect The Tribunal or die.
- Rigmor: What an arsehole!
- Wulf: The Tribunal were mortals with godlike powers. That was not a good combination.
- Felix: The letter is typical propaganda.
- Wulf: Yes, nothing is compelling about it. But they were desperate for recruits, and the letter may have attracted a few.
We searched Priest Drureth’s room and found his journal. As usual, I read it before reading the relevant part to the group.
“The temple is almost complete, but work is still to be done. There is so much work and not enough hands.
Where once stood an army, now only a dozen of us remain.
This would not be the case if the Matriarch delivered justice to the Diviner, Erden Relvel, for his blasphemous comments about the Corpus.
Instead, she offered him exile, which was more reward than punishment. Worse yet, he was allowed to sway Arthamis and a few others to join him.
We cannot afford to let sentimentality affect our decisions. I must remind her that we are at war, and every Dunmer lost is a soldier for the enemy.”
- Rigmor: The False Tribunal has no hope if they can’t keep their recruits loyal.
- Wulf: Matriarch Drevlan failed to instil the enthusiasm for Almalexia that she had.
- Inigo: Their fragmentation will make it easier to wipe them out!
- Wulf: The False Tribunal has no hope of replacing The Restorations. Mortals disobeying their oath to their gods and becoming gods was not foreseen. It was a sudden shift in the balance of power. Due to the Liminal Barrier, there was nothing that the Daedric Princes could do in time to prevent the coup. Lady Azura then planned for The Nerevarine, but many failed to fulfil her prophecy before the right person was born.
- Celestine: These heretics are trying to replace the religion of millions without the power of three Nirn-based gods to aid them.
- Wulf: Even if their gods now live, they will never recruit enough Dunmer to succeed.
- Rigmor: It seems The False Tribunal is not fondly remembered.
- Wulf: As I said earlier, they were mortals suddenly given the power of gods. They had no natural inclination to treat mortals with respect. I can’t recall an occasion where The Restorations have treated their worshippers with contempt.
- Celestine: Even when enraged, Lady Azura changed Chimer to Dunmer. Her curse changed their eye and skin colour, and that is all.
- Rigmor: We should intervene. We are not picking sides in this religious argument. We are preventing unnecessary deaths.
- Felix: These people might eventually have somebody competent enough to kill Elder Othreloth. That would be a tragedy!
- Wulf: Let’s keep looking for the armour room. There is a puzzle to be solved!
Through more winding corridors, we trudged.
Eventually, we came to a room with a smelter.
Another corridor led from that room.
A lowered gate at the end of that corridor prevented entry to the armour room.
The key I retrieved from Matriarch Drevlan unlocked a pull chain which, when used, raised the gate.
We entered and searched the room.
In one of the cabinets was a note. There was also one of the gems needed for the forge in Fahlbtharz.
I read the note to my friends.
“The Matriarch does not speak of what remains locked behind the gate. She says our way is to serve the Goddess and the Tribunal.
But Erden was right. The artefact speaks to us, and I feel its heartbeat rattling in my head like a loose rock. Rattle, rattle, rattle. A curious song. Not a heart of blood, but stone.
Yet the gate remains, for all intents and purposes, impenetrable. I saw no levers or chains and found no secret buttons under the display cases.
There is nothing here save a few broken pillars and the mannequins. I grew so weary of their stares that. I covered their faces with masks. It was not until that moment that the solution came to me.
What if the mannequins themselves are the key? Three faces and three masks. A Tribunal. But which mask goes on which face?
When memory fails, I go to the sculptor’s room and pray at the shrines so that I can match blessing to symbol. I feel I can now solve the puzzle, but it is useless without the masks.
Erden hates it when I worry. He tells me to be patient, that masks or not, our master will show us the way. I have no choice but to believe.”
I remarked, “I assume this was written by one of Erden Relvel’s recruits.”
Rigmor replied, “Go on, Wulf. Tell us the puzzle is easy.”
“The answer on the wall. Look up.”
Rigmor looked up and asked, “That banner is the answer?”
“Yes. Go on, Rigmor, apply some logic.”
Rigmor looked at the banner and then surveyed the room. After a minute or two, a smile crossed her face.
- Rigmor: Wow, that was easy. Why provide the solution in the same room as the puzzle?
- Wulf: Logic only goes so far, Rigmor.
- Rigmor: Yes, I know. We just have to accept some things and move on.
- Felix: Okay, clever lady, tell us peasants the answer.
- Wulf: Ah, Celestine is royalty.
- Felix: Oh, well then, can you tell us peasants and noble?
- Rigmor: The flag represents the seven mannequins in this room. The four triangles mean those mannequins are not part of the key. The front three are.
- Felix: Oh, I see it now. The front and centre mannequin needs Almalexia’s mask, which it already has. The one on the right needs Vivec’s mask. The one on the left needs Sotha Sil’s mask.
- Meeko: Woof!
- Inigo: Meeko, you are as bad as Mr Dragonfly. He also says the puzzle was easy.
- Lydia: All we need are the masks.
- Wulf: I will talk to Aphia and ask where Curate Melita is. She was the one looking for Vivec’s mask.
- Rigmor: And you need to talk to the Redoran Guard who has Sotha Sil’s mask.
I removed Almalexia’s mask from the front and centre mannequin. It had no dweomer on it.
We looked into the small alcove the mannequins and masks would unlock. There was a large chest and a much smaller one. None of us could feel the pulse described in the note.
I told my friends, “I can now teleport into Severin Manor. I will leave you there while I speak to Aphia and the guard.”
I teleported us to Severin Manor.
Rigmor said, “Talk to me via our amulets. Let me know what is happening.”
“Yes, I promise. In the meantime, rest and eat supper.”
Rigmor gave me a quick kiss, and I exited the house.
I made my way to The Retching Netch.
Bet-Kogo, Raven Rock’s pet Netch, was blocking the doorway. A Redoran Guard gently led her away so I could enter the tavern.
I entered and looked around. I couldn’t see Aphia, but Captain Veleth was there.
“Good evening, Captain Veleth.”
“The treasure is being loaded and will start its trip to Raven Rock on the morrow.”
“That is good to hear. Lady Azura asked my friends and me to investigate False Tribunal heretics. She was worried they posed a threat to the people of Solstheim.”
“You are so casual when mentioning conversations with gods.”
“It is something I often do. The heretics were a danger, although we eliminated most of them. I am about to remove the remainder.”
“Where were they based?”
“Their temple is just above the ebony mine. They have been there for many years.”
“And they remained undetected! That is a concern.”
“I know they have sympathisers within Raven Rock. There will always be Dunmer who are loyal to The False Tribunal. But it is not my place to interfere with religious matters. My only concern is the safety of Nirn’s mortals. These people posed a threat, so we dealt with them.”
“Is there something the Redoran Guard can do?”
“Extra guards for Raven Rock’s Temple would not go astray.”
‘Is Elder Othreloth aware of this threat?”
“Yes, he knows. I will update him soon.”
“Then I shall arrange the extra guards immediately.”
I noticed Aphia had entered the tavern.
“Excuse me, Captain. I have other matters to attend to.”
Captain Veleth left to organise the guards. I walked over to Aphia.
“Aphia, your friends threatened the innocent people of Solstheim. They are now dead.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“Matriarch Drevlan. Hands Kydren Indobar, Kenro Hlan and a female Hand. Priest Drureth and Vishtar. Several Ordinators. Need I continue?”
“Every one of them attacked my friends and me without provocation. Each time we approached with weapons sheathed, and not once did they speak before trying to kill us. Yes, they are all dead.”
“What kind of threat did they pose?”
“They thought they could replace The Restorations through a violent uprising. I am convinced Elder Othreloth was in immediate danger. Lady Azura asked us to investigate.”
“Azura spoke to you?”
“I am her champion, Aphia.”
“Are you going to tell Elder Othreloth of my involvement?”
“No, that is not my intention. I can tell you are a good person, Aphia. Your actions in looking after Crescius are evidence of that. Tell me, did you know of the heretics’ plans for violence?”
“No, I just thought, like me, they were upset at the lack of respect for the saints. That is why I agree to provide minor aid like translating ancient documents and so forth.”
“I believe you. Now, do you know the whereabouts of Curate Melita?”
“Are you going to harm her?”
“Not unless she tries to harm me.”
“Then read this letter she sent me.”
Aphia handed me a letter which read,
You or whoever’s reading this, I need your help. Well, that’s a stupid thing to write. Of course, you’re reading this, and you wouldn’t be staring at a piece of paper and not read it, would you?
Not unless you’re illiterate or mad. Not ‘angry’ mad, but ‘I clip my toenails with a fork’ mad. You get what I mean.
The point is, I think I’ve found it. The Mask of Sotha Sil, in Kagrenzel. It is a Dwarven labyrinth with a surprisingly high vowel count. It’s high up on the Velothi Mountains, and you’re a Velothi too! Funny how that works out.
There’s just one problem. I caught myself in some contraption, and now I’m unsure where I am. We’ve decided to make camp here and have one of the mercs I hired find help. He can’t write or read or put together a coherent thought, but that’s why I’m giving him this letter.
I should have just taken the mask and left the orb. You’d think I’d know better than to fall for an obvious trap. But the orb was glowing and cute and looked kind of lonely.
Side note, if you come to rescue me, DO NOT touch the orb.”
I said to Aphia, “I know where Kagrenzel is. We shall look for Curate Melita.”
“It took almost a week for the mercenary to arrive in Solstheim and hand me that letter. Do you think Melita is still alive?”
“I have no idea, but it will not take my friends and me long to reach Kagrenzel. An hour or two once we set out.”
“Elder Othreloth should do what other temples have done and include shrines to the three saints.”
“I am not interested in religious arguments, Aphia.”
I exited The Retching Netch and headed for the Temple.
I stood before Azura’s statue.
“My champion, is the danger ended?”
“Almost, Lady Azura. They were intent on violence and attacked my friends and me without provocation. They were convinced Almalexia had been resurrected and is giving them orders.”
“And what do you think?”
“I don’t think Almalexia is speaking to them. I would not dismiss one of the Daedric Princes impersonating her.”
“Yes, there are several of us who would use such subterfuge. It matters not which one as long as this problem is resolved.”
“We can eliminate this group, but I must again emphasise that I do this to protect mortals, not promote The Restorations over The Tribunal.”
“I understand. Be careful, my champion.”
Galdrus had been sitting near the statue and listening to my conversation with Azura. He stood as I approached.
“Attendant Galdrus, please inform Elder Othreloth that he was in danger. However, we have almost eliminated those who posed a threat.”
“I will do so. May I ask, why does Azura speak to you with her voice and not in your head?”
“I allow no gods to enter my mind. All the Daedric Princes must speak to me aloud. I only allow certain mortals, my unicorn, my dog and several dragons to speak to me telepathically.”
“Your unicorn and dog?”
“Okay…umm…I shall go and speak to Elder Othreloth.”
“Blessings of The Nine, Attendant Galdrus.”
I chuckled as Galdrus quickly moved away and entered Raven Rock’s Temple.
I approached the solitary Temple Guard.
“Dragonborn, Captain Veleth just visited and told me there might be a threat to Elder Othreloth. Then I heard you speak to Azura and now know that threat is not yet fully neutralised.”
“That is correct.”
“Extra guards should arrive soon. We shall make The Temple as secure as we possibly can.”
“I have great faith in the ability of the Redoran Guard.”
The guard saluted, and I returned the compliment.
A set of stairs led from the temple’s courtyard to The Bulwark.
I approached one of the guards on duty.
“Excuse me, guardsman, but do you know where I can find Vavhus Dalsrara.”
“He is not on duty but is standing over there.”
The guard pointed then continued, “He is staring towards that old farm. I asked him what he was doing, and he told me he just needed some quiet time to himself.”
“Thank you, guardsman.”
The guard continued his patrol. I headed towards Vavhus.
As described, Vavhus stood and stared towards Old Attius Farm.
So intent was Vavhus that I walked up to him without him registering I was there.
He almost jumped out of his skin when I tapped him on the shoulder. Then he quickly turned around.
“Where is the mask, Vavhus?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Do you know who I am?”
“The Dragonborn. You and your friends are heroes to the people of Solstheim.”
“The people who want the mask are violent and threaten the safety of innocents. At the moment, Captain Veleth knows nothing of your involvement with them. I cannot let the threat to innocents remain. I need that mask to protect the citizens you swore to serve. So tell me, Vavhus, where is the mask?”
“Violent? I just thought they were religious fanatics.”
“Most of the violence on Nirn derives from religious differences. They were going to send somebody to kill you and the buyer.”
“Tell me, why did you decide to sell the mask?”
“For twenty years, all I’ve been is a loyal guard. I do what I’m supposed to, pay my taxes, and pray to the Gods. But they return me no favours.
I pray for riches, and I get guard duty. I pray for a good woman, and I get more guard duty.
Now I’m supposed to deliver that expensive-looking mask to their temple. Well, it’s time I made my own luck. I’m selling the thing to an Imperial I met at the Netch.
I’ll just tell the priests the bloody mask got swallowed by a Gaur, so good luck finding it now.
Twenty years and I’ve never spoken a lie. They’ll have no choice but to believe me.”
I fought to suppress my anger. I said with venom, “The Restorations will not give you riches or find a wife for you. After twenty years, you have comrades who depend on you and a sacred oath to protect the citizens of Morrowind. If they no longer appeal to you, find another profession. Don’t be a liar and oath breaker.”
“I don’t have the mask. The buyer is evaluating it. I will receive payment when he is satisfied it is authentic.”
“You are looking in the direction of Old Attius Farm, and I know there is a locked trapdoor in the ruins of the farmhouse. Is that where the buyer is?”
“Do you have a key?”
“No matter. I will retrieve the mask. I advise you to return to your barracks and decide your future.”
“They will still come after me!”
“No, as my friends and I have killed most of them.”
I leapt off The Bulwark and landed with a thud below. Vavhus looked over the edge, and I waved to him.
As I walked to the farm, I briefly looked behind me. A Redoran Guard was following from a distance. It was most likely Vavhus.
I stood over the trapdoor. Heat-Vision showed me a single person below.
I picked the lock, which was of poor quality, so the picking was quick and quiet.
I opened the hatch and descended a ladder.
I kept my eye on the ladder.
The buyer called out, “Is that you, Vavhus? Don’t worry. I haven’t finished evaluating the mask. I am not going to try and steal it from you.”
“I am Wulf, The Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines. That mask needs to be somewhere False Tribunal devotees cannot get it. They know of you and Vavhus and will kill you both. Give me the mask and leave Solstheim.”
“No! I have waited decades to get my hands on it. You can’t have it!”
“I am not giving you a choice. Be sensible and hand it over!”
I moved away from the ladder and approached the buyer. He ran at me with a drawn dagger.
A two Word Unrelenting Force Shout sent the buyer flying. He landed awkwardly, and a snap announced his demise.
I went over and searched the corpse, and the buyer had nothing on him at all.
I retrieved Vivic’s mask from atop a table and a Fahlbtharz forge gem that lay next to it.
I heard the trapdoor open and somebody climbing down the ladder.
I walked towards the ladder with my sword sheathed.
Vavhus yelled, “I need that mask!” He ran at me with his sword drawn.
I drew my sword and cut him down. Vavhus was a self-entitled fool who asked his gods for riches and a wife.
When I inspected the room’s walls, I found a secret door. It swung open when I pushed in the right spot.
It led to a room that once contained a Black Book.
“Rigmor, I have recovered Vivec’s mask and know where to look for Sotha Sil’s.”
“Kagrenzel, a Dwemer ruin in Skyrim. Gather the team, and I will teleport you to me in a minute.”
“Will we have to travel far in Skyrim?”
“Kagrenzel is a few hours hike through the mountains northeast of Riften.”
“I will bring some cheese and bread for you.”
“Thank you. I am so hungry that will go down well!”
I summoned my friends out front of the abandoned farm.
- Inigo: My friend, you do not look pleased.
- Wulf: Vavhus, the Redoran Guard, attacked me. So did an elderly Imperial. Neither of them stood a chance, yet that didn’t stop them from trying to kill me. Attack Wulf and die. That has been the pattern today. I am tired of the violence, and bringing my Dovah to the fore is appealing.
- Rigmor: After we have dealt with Vahlok, you are going home and rest. I don’t care if you think there is more to do in Solstheim.
- Inigo: Rigmor’s advice is good, so don’t argue!
- Celestine: Silverpeak Lodge should be finished by now.
- Wulf: Okay, let us find this last mask and deal with Vahlok. Then Rigmor can arrange the trade agreement.
- Rigmor: Do you still want to tell Mum what is going on?
- Wulf: Yes, Rigmor. Sigunn should know what her out-of-control teenage daughter is doing in her spare time.
- Rigmor: I feel so young when called a teenager.
- Celestine: Ahh, that is because you are young.
- Wulf: I will teleport us to Fort Greenwall. Then we shall cross the grasslands to the mountains.
- Inigo: I love that part of Skyrim!
We startled a few Legionnaires when we appeared out of the ether. However, they soon recognised us and continued whatever they were doing.
Even when using Night-Vision, some parts of the walk occurred in darkness.
We came upon an interesting scene.
Inigo asked, “My friend, why is that fox glowing red?”
“A vampire is using Blood Magic on it.”
Just as the fox died, some Whiterun Militia attacked the vampire.
I Blinked into the melee and thrust my sword through the vampire.
Another vampire attacked, and I cut her down.
I told one of the Whiterun Militia, “You are a long way from Whiterun. I seem to encounter Whiterun Militia all over Skyrim.”
“Thane, our patrols take weeks, and we travel through many Holds. It is good to see the large increase in Imperial Patrols.”
“Well, keep up the good work. Blessings of The Nine on you all.”
A while later, Kagrenzel came into view. We still had to find the stairs leading to it.
We saw a group of hunters camping nearby when the stairs came into view.
Eastmarch Militia were fighting a large bear at the foot of the stairs.
We aided them. Then they thanked us and continued their patrol.
We climbed the steep stairs and eventually reached a door into Kagrenzel.
We entered, and I yawned. Dwemer ruins have that effect on me.
Inigo said, “My friend, I have been here before. I find it hard to remember what happened, though. Something exciting followed by a head injury, I think.”
“Try hard to remember. It would be good if we avoided head injuries.”
A set of doors led to a large, square room with a small dais in the middle. Surrounding the dais were bodies, jars and amphoras.
When I approached the dais, a bright orb appeared.
I inspected the bodies, and there was no sign of trauma. Without a lengthier inspection, I could not ascertain what killed them.
The intact but numerous jars and amphoras were a mystery.
There was a dweomer on the orb, but I did not recognise it.
I turned to Rigmor.
- Wulf: Curate Melita is the woman searching for Sotha Sil’s mask. She became trapped when she touched that glowing orb.
- Rigmor: Are you going to touch it?
- Wulf: Melita had time to write and send a message to Aphia. That means I would have time to escape via teleport.
- Rigmor: Inigo, does the orb seem familiar?
- Inigo: Yes, this whole place does, but the memories are fuzzy. I am trying hard to remember.
- Lydia: I don’t think Wulf has a choice.
- Rigmor: Yes, I know.
- Wulf: Okay, here goes.
I walked over and touched the orb.
A circular cage shot upwards.
The orb then circled the outside of the cage. I had the eerie feeling it was staring and me and deciding what to do next.
Inigo called out, “Mr Dragonfly remembers what happened. The floor dropped away, and we fell a long way. A rock hit me on the head!”
Just as Inigo finished his sentence, the orb chirped and went through some grating on the dais.
Rigmor yelled, “Get out of there, Wulf!”
The floor vanished. It did not slide sideways but ceased to be where it was.
Me, the corpses, jars, amphoras and other items started to fall.
I contemplated willing myself to my Aetherius Room. However, when I looked down, I saw that I would narrowly miss some rocks and land in what looked like deep water. I decided to continue the fall.
I plunged into the water and then quickly surfaced. I wanted to watch where debris was landing. Several large rocks splashed nearby.
I noticed a tunnel and Falmer nests.
“Wulf! Are you okay?”
“Relax, Rigmor. It was quite a long fall, but I landed in deep water.”
“Do you think the curate survived?”
“I will dive and have a look.”
“Inigo says there are many bug people there, whatever they are.”
“That is what he calls Falmer.”
“If the curate survived the fall, she may have succumbed to Falmer.”
“It would be terrific if I dived and found her body and the mask. Well, not terrific for the curate. But that is too easy, so the chances are slim.”
“You can teleport us to you.”
“If I encounter hundreds of Falmer, I might. Otherwise, I don’t think they will pose much of a threat.”
“Keep me informed!”
“Yes, my beloved.”
I dived to see what was in the water.
The bodies, jars and amphoras from above were visible. So was a chest which contained several good quality gems. There was no sign of the curate or mask.
I surfaced then proceeded along the tunnel, not knowing if Falmer still inhabited the area.
The answer came when I encountered a very surprised Falmer.
After I killed it, I used Heat-Vision to give myself some prior warning of other Falmer.
After killing many Falmer, I encountered a Gehenoth battling a Dwemer Spectre.
Gehenoth are feral descendants of Kamal, the Snow Demons of Akavir. The Kamal are highly intelligent, and they invaded Tamriel in 2E 572. The Dunmer, led by Almalexia, a Nord army led by Prince Jorunn and an Argonian phalanx joined forces to defeat the Kamal invaders. Not all Kamal perished, and in about 2E 270, they seized The Ruby Throne and ruled The Empire along with other Akaviri from Rimmen. Father removed them from power in 2E 812.
Gehenoth look like Kamal but are aggressive beasts with little sign of intelligence. It is thought a Daedric Prince has something to do with the transformation.
I eliminated the Dwemer Spectre and then stood back. I was unsure if Kyne’s Peace would work on a Gehenoth.
The Gehenoth stared at me for several seconds.
Then it charged. I leapt back.
The Gehenoth soon lay dead.
I then had to fight my way through many more Falmer.
I followed an underwater creek to a large cave. The curate’s future looked bleak. Some bandits were busy discussing what to do with her and the weird mask.
I leapt down and quickly disposed of the four bandits.
I searched them and found Sotha Sil’s Mask on one who was probably their leader.
I approached the bound curate, who looked young. It is difficult to tell a Dunmer’s age.
“Curate Melita, you did well to survive the fall and Falmer.”
“Are you one of Her servants? Did you come to rescue me?”
“I came to rescue you and retrieve Sotha Sil’s mask. But I do not serve Almalexia or The Tribunal. I am Wulf, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines, Boethia, Azura, Sheogorath, Meridia and Hermaeus Mora.”
“You will rescue me and not kill me?”
“Your associates were homicidal maniacs. I am not.”
“Were? What do you mean by that?”
“They attacked my friends and me and now lay dead. I am about to cut your bonds. If you live or die is up to you.”
“I just want to leave here.”
“I advise you don’t return to the temple. Elder Othreloth will soon have his people scouring the place. I don’t think they will destroy the statue of Saint Almalexia.”
I cut Melita’s bonds, and she grimaced as circulation returned to her hands.
She stood and said, “I warned them against aggression. We can’t force people to worship The Tribunal.”
“Not a single one of them bothered to talk before attacking. Anyway, you are free. I assume the other exit to this cave leads outside. Let me clear the way.”
As I exited the cave, I told Rigmor, “I have the mask and rescued the curate. I am following a tunnel I think leads outside.”
“Okay. Be careful. I love you, my silly Dragonborn.”
The first bandit I encountered tried to run. One of his friends shot an arrow at me. Unrelenting Force killed both.
I only encountered one more bandit before I exited the cave.
I teleported to Raven Rock and then summoned my friends.
When we entered Ashfall’s Tear, we were attacked by undead Dunmer with black tattoos across their empty eye sockets, like a mask, and their mouths sewn shut.
I laughed and said, “These are real zombies, Inigo!”
What the unarmed and unarmoured zombies were supposed to achieve is a mystery. They could beat on my armour for millennia and not bruise me.
- Inigo: My friend, what are they?
- Wulf: Very weak undead.
- Rigmor: Isn’t Erden Relvel a necromancer?
- Wulf: Yes, according to one of the priests, Erden Relvel is a necromancer.
- Celestine: I hope Erden is here. I hate it when necromancers raise the dead.
There were many zombies in the chamber with Almalexia’s statue. Some of them lay motionless. That suggested their undead status was not stable.
Unrelenting Force killed most of them.
My sword removed the last zombie.
We encountered no more zombies after we entered the temple.
We made our way to the armoury.
I placed the masks on the correct mannequins, and the gate lifted.
Within the chest was Hopesfire, Almalexia’s sword.
There was also a note from Erden Revel, which I read to my friends.
“I was told the gate would not open without the masks, but the priests underestimated my master’s will.
It was Dagoth Ur who opened the gate and beckoned me forward. And when I wear his face, I speak his truth. From his words, I spawn the cure that will spread across Nirn.
My temple brother, Arthamis, was the first to receive its blessing. His once melancholy face has been carved into the most delightful shape, and his mouth stitched into a comely smile. He must be pleased with the changes, as I have heard no complaints. I feel now that he is truly happy.
You may have already met him – slain him with Her Hand. Perhaps you have met all my master’s little pets as they descended on Her temple. I knew this would happen, for there must come a time when The Tribunal’s champion will challenge my master, as The Nerevarine once did.
The Tribunal has three heads, and you wear them all. And so, by opening the way, you are worthy of dying by my master’s hand.
Come to the graveyard by Tel Mithryn. My master’s creatures will dine on you there.”
- Wulf: Oh, how scary. More unarmoured and unarmed zombies! What shall we do?
- Rigmor: He claims Dagoth Ur opened the gate.
- Wulf: Cobblers! Dagoth Ur died at the hands of The Nerevarine. I believe a Daedric Prince is playing games here. I wouldn’t put it past Uncle Sheo.
- Celestine: All the Daedric Princes despised The Tribunal.
- Rigmor: Almalexia hasn’t returned?
- Wulf: No. She had a keen tactical mind. What these idiots have been doing is not good tactics.
- Celestine: Dagoth Ur would teach Erden Revel how to create minions far superior to these zombies.
- Wulf: Let’s go to Tel Mithryn and end this idiocy once and for all!
I collected the mask. Then we teleported to Tel Mithryn and headed for its cemetery.
It took seconds to eliminate the zombies and Erden Revel. An Ash Spawn joined in and was also eliminated.
I searched Erden and recovered The Mask of Dagoth Ur and another Fahlbtharz forge gem.
I said, “I have the four gems needed to reforge TrueFlame. Let us do that, and then we can get on with dealing with Vahlok.”
I Recalled to the Mark I had placed in Fahlbtharz’s forge and then summoned my friends.
I placed the four gems into their holders.
The Dwemer machine then emitted a bright light.
I coated the blade recovered from Hand Kenro Hlan with Pyroil Tar. I then placed it, blade down, into the slot of the Dwemer machine.
The light dimmed, and when I withdrew the sword, it had been transformed into TrueFlame.
I turned to my friends.
“We will return to Raven Rock briefly. I want to speak to Lady Azura and Elder Othreloth. Then we shall pick up Tharstan from Skaal Village and deal with Vahlok.”
I was weary, and I wanted to go home. Unfortunately, I could not leave Solstheim just yet.