Middas, 5th Sun’s Dusk, 4E 201
My squad members for the day were Bashita, Kogo, Taku and Jin. We sat at a table to discuss the day’s activities.
- Wulf: First thing this morning, I want to check on Honourhall Orphanage in Riften.
- Bashita: You haven’t visited since it was refurbished.
- Wulf: I never had an opportunity. While I have some freedom of choice in matters, I will visit.
- Taku: You think things will get out of control again?
- Wulf: My role as Dragonborn makes it inevitable that I will get entangled with an impending disaster with little time for anything else.
- Bashita: What comes after the orphanage?
- Wulf: I will try and recover Dawnfang and Darkfang, a cursed Tsaesci Blood Drinker longsword, and thereby release a Blade from a magical prison.
- Taku: Some of those who destroyed our Akavir headquarters carried Blood Drinker swords.
- Wulf: This sword has two names and four forms. It changes its nature according to the time of day and how many kills the wielder makes during twelve hours.
- Bashita: I have heard of this sword.
- Wulf: It was made by the Tsaesci and discovered in the Ayleid ruins called Trumbe in 3E 341.
- Jin: That is an unusual place to find a Tsaesci sword.
- Wulf: There is a lot of speculation about how it got there. The sword was not lying around or in a chest but within a specially crafted metal box. An Orsimer named Grommok gro-Barak then wielded the sword, not knowing it was cursed.
- Bashita: Before continuing the history, can you tell us its traits?
- Wulf: At dawn, and for twelve hours, the sword becomes Dawnfang. Its pommel and hilt jewels are bright orange. When Dawnfang strikes somebody, they receive severe lacerations and fire damage. At dusk, and for twelve hours, the sword becomes Darkfang. Its pommel and hilt jewels are blue. When Darkfang strikes somebody, they receive severe lacerations and frost damage. In both forms, the sword will absorb the Lifeforce and Magicka of somebody slain by the weapon. The sword craves these things and urges the wielder to kill indiscriminately.
- Bashita: What are the other two forms?
- Wulf: If the sword slays twelve or more people in twelve hours, the next transformation will be in superior form. i.e., If you slay twelve or more people with Darkfang, then the sword will become Dawnfang Superior at the next transformation. Its damage is much more significant than the standard Dawnfang form. The reverse applies. If you kill twelve or more people with Dawnfang in twelve hours, it will become Darkfang Superior at the next transformation.
- Jin: Is the wielder enslaved as soon as they use the sword?
- Wulf: No, it is gradual. However, the sword is so well balanced and effective it is almost guaranteed that the wielder will continue using it and become enslaved. The wielder will habitually call out their kill count, for the sword keeps track and lets them know.
- Jin: Is the sword sentient like the Honour Sword you discovered in Sky Haven Temple?
- Wulf: It supposedly contains the soul of a Tsaesci vampire. I don’t think it is as intelligent as that Honour Sword. People who wield the sword are flittingly seen in reptile form.
- Bashita: Please, continue its history.
- Wulf: In 3E 433, there was a civil war in The Shivering Isles which is Uncle Sheo’s realm of Oblivion. Grommok gro-Barak was killed in that realm, and The Champion of Cyrodiil was gifted the sword. But soon after, he was transformed into Lord Sheogorath, and the sword was returned to the mortal plane.
- Bashita: Did Uncle Sheo return it to Nirn because it sends people insane?
- Wulf: I have no idea. All of what I know is the research Auryen undertook for me. The next mention of the sword was 4E 130. A Blade Captain called Lorant Bouchard had acquired it sometime earlier. He had a stellar career and was liked by many, but then his beloved wife, Emma, died. Lorant turned against The Nine, started dabbling in necromancy, and fell under the sword’s influence. He became ruthless and reckless when undertaking his duties and people who once admired him became fearful of him. He was dismissed from The Blades but continued his killing, as the sword wanted him to do. A group of mages called The Guild was hired by a woman called Sychelle Gatharian to capture Lorant. They thought the motivation was to hold Lorant responsible for his crimes and perhaps show lenience if the sword’s influence was removed. The Guild was a mercenary group, but unlike The Companions, the members were all mages and didn’t demand payment whenever somebody asked for help.
- Bashita: What was Sychelle’s real motive?
- Wulf: She was a necromancer and wanted the sword.
- Taku: Why didn’t The Blades eliminate Lorant?
- Wulf: As I mentioned, Lorant was well respected. The Blades were content to let The Guild try and capture him and remove the sword’s influence. Alas, their first effort was a disaster. Lorant was a Swordmaster, with his skills improved by the sword. He could also resurrect the fallen. The Guild had to retreat after suffering many losses. However, they regrouped and formulated a different strategy that led us to the current, grim situation.
- Jin: If you fail the first time, try again and fail even more miserably!
- Wulf: Sychelle funded the second attempt and hired a group of smugglers to aid The Guild. The smugglers controlled a large part of The Ratway under Riften, and their headquarters were chosen as the battleground. To lure Lorant into their trap, they exhumed Emma and placed her corpse inside the smuggler’s headquarters. We know Lorant entered their trap, but not what occurred during the battle. Only one person survived, and he told nobody about the battle’s outcome until close to his death, forty years later.
- Bashita: Celestine mentioned this. A ghost in The Ratway and a well-preserved corpse.
- Wulf: As we travelled The Ratway looking for Esbern, the spirit of a woman wanted me to follow through a portal. Near the portal was a body that we mistakenly thought was Sellonus. It wasn’t! It was that of his son, Vellonus. On him, he had the following letter from his father.
“7th of Morning Star, 4E 171
My son, I do not have long for this world, but before the winter night embraces me, I would confess a great regret that has burdened my heart for many years.
Long ago, my brethren and I were commissioned to hunt down and ensnare a dark and powerful renegade captain. He was a man who, once a proud soldier, had become corrupted by a powerful artefact and turned to great darkness of deed. We fulfilled our commission, but not without significant cost, for I managed to survive the encounter alone.
But, in the decades following this venture, I have often wondered if our ensnaring him was equally evil. We have bound him to an eternity of misery with our combined enchantments, for we bound him to the guardianship of the thing that drove him insane, the artefact. It is a powerful weapon that now, despite his yearning for it, he cannot yield while he lives.
It is a cruel fate for a once-great man, for he was just that until grief and anger laid him bare to such utter corruption and malice. That story is a sad tale indeed.
But now, these many years on, my heart sees the truth. I would undo that which was done and free him from his misery. But it is too late for me to take on such a quest. Therefore, I pray that you, my son, will do this task in my stead.
I beg you to seek him out as a father’s last wish and set him free.
Your father, Sellonus.”
- Wulf: I believe Vellonus died trying to fulfil his father’s wish. He was not killed by Lorant but by age. I think he sat vigil near the portal for many years. However, that is an educated guess.
- Bashita: A fellow Blade is in some sort of perpetual enthrallment. No wonder you are keen to retrieve the sword and release him.
- Taku: Was it Emma’s spirit that wanted you to follow?
- Wulf: I am confident it was and that she knew I am a Dragonborn. Usually, Lorant would obey me as the leader of The Blades. But I doubt that reverence will stop him from guarding the sword and trying to kill me. The Guild replaced the enthrallment of the sword with one of their own.
- Bashita: Did many people see the woman’s spirit?
- Wulf: Recently, quite a few travellers through The Ratway saw the spirit. There used to be only sporadic sightings.
- Bashita: That supports the theory she was waiting for you.
- Wulf: We shall travel The Ratway, and I will enter the portal. I know it goes somewhere on Nirn. Most likely to the smuggler’s headquarters.
- Kogo: By yourself?
- Wulf: Solo, alone, unaccompanied, unescorted and solitarily. Just me, myself and I.
- Bashita: Kogo, you know Wulf won’t take us through portals to the unknown.
- Wulf: I don’t think the portal would let you pass through it, anyway. I think Emma’s spirit controls it, which is why Vellonus was camped nearby. He might have seen Emma’s spirit and hoped that one day she would let him try and complete the task set by his father.
- Jin: Have you asked Vayu about Captain Bouchard?
- Wulf: Vayu knows of him. However, without access to The Blades records in Cyrodiil, we can’t find out much more than what we currently know. Captain Bouchard was of good character but wracked by grief. He then turned from his gods and was snared by the darkness.
- Bashita: Is there anything else on the agenda for today?
- Wulf: There are rumours of a renegade Blade hiding near Old Hroldan Inn. I want to investigate.
- Taku: If you have heard the rumour, then it is likely The Thalmor have.
- Wulf: Wouldn’t that be a shame if we came across some Thalmor?
- Taku: A terrible, terrible shame. You must visit your father’s room.
- Wulf: Excuse me?
- Taku: At Old Hroldan Inn, they have a room they charge extra for because Tiber Septim once slept in it.
- Wulf: I spent eighteen years of my life sleeping in the same room as Tiber Septim.
- Taku: Yeah, but he never slept, did he?
- Kogo: Taku has a point.
- Wulf: Don’t encourage Taku! He will start thinking, and that isn’t good for him.
- Bashita: If the sword is sentient, will you put it in your journal case?
- Wulf: That worked with the entity inside the Honour Sword. If it is the soul of a Tsaesci vampire, then it is worth a try. Their soul would be Molag Bal’s and would have to flee the sword or be destroyed.
- Kogo: That doesn’t sound pleasant.
- Wulf: Okay, let’s go.
We stood, and then I teleported us to Honeyside.
We exited the house to a typically foggy Rift morning.
I was tempted to stop and talk to Lady Mara, but that was inviting a Divine Task being given. If there were anything urgent, Silah would tell me. But that doesn’t mean any of The Nine wouldn’t give me a Divine Task if I gave them a chance.
Therefore, we continued to Honourhall Orphanage instead.
We entered and could hear many children laughing but could only find one.
“Hello, Samuel. Where are the other children?”
“Downstairs having a bath. I had one last month, so I don’t need another yet.”
“Okay, but a clean, not smelly orphan has more chance of being adopted.”
“Yeah, you’re right. I think I will go and join them.”
I decided not to have a look around. That could wait for a time when the children can show me the new parts of the building. I found Constance in her room.
“Good morning, Constance. The children sound happy!”
“It is a wonder what proper bathing facilities and privies can do for a child’s self-esteem.”
“I am sorry I haven’t visited. After the battle, I didn’t even check this place.”
“Many citizens came inside and were prepared to put out fires and defend the children. It was quite a surprise after years of being ignored and left to Grelod’s deprivations.”
“Did the children enjoy the wedding feast?”
“Yes, indeed. It was amazing how many grubby children living in The Ratway and other hidden places came out to indulge. It showed me how much work still needs to be done for the orphans of The Rift.”
“I am sure it is the same in every Hold. Anyway, I have placed another fifteen thousand in the orphanage’s account. Is that enough to finish the renovations?”
“Way more than is needed.”
“Use the rest to buy some luxuries for this place plus more toys, books and other items to keep the children entertained.”
“Do you want me to show you around?”
“No, thanks, Constance. I will return soon and bring my daughter, Olette, with me. The children can give us a tour.”
“You adopted Olette? That will make the children who know her extremely happy. Despite Grelod’s threats and nasty words, Olette always brought them treats and small toys.”
“I knew Olette talked to them but not about the gifts.”
“Even though Olette was living in poverty and danger, she only thought about the welfare of others. I know you are not her sire, but it is like she has inherited your good nature.”
“The orphanage in Solitude is almost full. The children there run through the city streets and lighten the mood of all who see them. Perhaps when the new Jarl takes over, the streets of Riften can be made safe enough for the children here to run through them.”
“Maven Black-Briar is being removed. She has connections with The Thieves Guild and The Dark Brotherhood, which has been deemed unacceptable.”
“With a proper Jarl and the Legionnaires patrolling the streets, the children may well be able to run through the streets of Riften. Wouldn’t that be a glorious thing!”
“Yes, it would. I will visit with Olette soon. Till then, Lady Mara’s blessings on all who dwell here.”
We made our way to and through The Ratway. A few residents watched us pass, but none dared cause trouble.
I stood in front of the portal. It felt no different than the last time. The body of Vellonus had been removed.
I turned to my friends and said, “I am sure the portal leads to another part of The Ratway. It is not a portal to another plane. I will be as quick as I can.”
I entered the portal and teleported to another part of The Ratway. I could see Emma’s spirit in the distance, standing in front of a red glow.
In a small alcove lay the skeleton of a mage. On him was the following note.
“I am done. My wounds are too deep, so I have chosen to remain and lock this area. I can only pray to The Nine that Sellonus made it out and sealed this dreaded place forever. At least then, my death will not be in vain.
Master Levard Calinius, The Guild.”
I looked through a closed gate at Emma. Beyond her, surrounded by a red glow, Dawnfang floated and rotated. Emma and Dawnfang were on a platform above a still body of water. The glow from brasiers and candles was unnaturally green. Several skeletons were dotted around the room. Three iron-bound doors led from the room.
I opened the gate and stepped into the chamber.
I said, “Emma, I am Wulf, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines. I am here to release Lorant from this prison.”
Emma vanished, and the door opposite the entrance opened.
I stood within the red beam of light and studied Dawnfang. Grommok gro-Barak had named the four forms of the sword, and Auryen could not find the original Tsaesci name for it. If it does contain the soul of a Tsaesci vampire, it was probably named after them.
Night-Vision negated the green glow and made the chamber less disturbing.
Sometimes skeletons inexplicably remain in a position that defies gravity and decay. To me, a kneeling skeleton invoked an image of a person devoid of hope and accepting of their imminent fate. Next to the skeleton was a hastily written note.
“I can’t resist him…
Those eyes…those terrible eyes!
So full of anger, fear and remorse…
The only escape is death.”
I was heartened by the sense of remorse the deceased recognised in Lorant. It boded well for his soul’s chance of joining Emma’s in an afterlife.
I examined a prone skeleton and did not know if it was a mage or smuggler. It was strange no sign of armour, clothing, or weapon remained. The air was thick with Magicka being used, and there could be much dweomer of which I am unaware.
I walked through the open door and down a short flight of steps.
I entered a cavern with many wooden platforms. I would say this was where the mages and smugglers sprung their trap with many attackers upon the platforms. Copious blood on a stone stairway was evidence of a melee.
Emma stood on a level above that reachable by the stairway. At first she watched me enter. Now she was staring at a skeleton floating above her.
I used Zoom-Vision to look closely at what appeared to be Lorant. He looked like he was reaching out for Emma. I heard no sound, but I have no doubt he was calling her name. He was striving to reach his beloved but was unable to do so.
It was not the spirit of Lorant. There was no soul in the thing before me. It was an illusion, but one I had no doubt was capable of killing a mortal with all the skills of a Swordmaster at its disposal.
I called out, “Captain Bouchard, I am Dragonborn, and I ask you to honour your oath and obey me. Let us work together to release you from this prison.”
I walked forward, weapons sheathed.
Emma vanished. Lorant drew his katana, turned and ran toward me.
Years of training and countless melees have honed my ability to assess an opponent quickly. As I expected, the illusion before me had Lorant’s superb skills. I saw some hesitancy in the eyes of my opponent. Illusion or not, it questioned the morality of attacking a Dragonborn.
I parried the illusion’s katana and then surprised it with the speed of my counter-attack. The illusion was too slow to raise its shield, and my sword sliced through it. The illusion vanished in a burst of Magicka.
I decided to search the platforms and the gate where Emma had stood.
One skeleton still had hold of a bag of septims. Once again, no clothing, armour or weapon remained. It was as if the leather coin bag was left as a lesson. A note next to the skeleton told me what was obvious. It was one of the smugglers.
“Damn these mages with their magic! Things were good here! Life was sweet, and profits were aplenty before the boss agreed to help these fools with their trap. This venture will cost us the shirts off our backs.
Reader, remember that I, Fjroendr Swift-Smasher, predicted disaster, but nobody listened!”
Another skeleton had nothing to indicate if it was a mage or smuggler.
The levitating skeleton was that of a mage. I retrieved a note from within its ribcage.
“How could this have happened? Our plan should have worked. But who could foresee that his weapon would interfere with our simple enchantments? And now we have become ensnared in our trap.
What is this weapon, and what does it herald?
Mage Aidar Laemor, The Guild.”
I could approach and touch Dawnfang, but I could not remove it. I wonder what research the mages did because sentient weapons have been known to defend themselves. The sword did not want to be taken by the mages or smugglers, so it defended itself the only way it could. It made Lorant a more formidable guardian than a single, mortal entity could be and also raised a shield of Magicka.
There was nothing useful beyond the gate that Emma had stood in front of. I leapt down and headed back to the central chamber.
I was expecting Dawnfang to be available since I defeated the illusion of Lorant. However, it was now held in place by a green beam of light.
A previously locked door to my left was now open.
A short descending stairway led to a prison and torture chamber. It is not unusual for smugglers to employ torture to gain information from recalcitrant prisoners. Emma’s spirit stood at the entrance to the chamber, awaiting my arrival. She entered and I followed.
The illusion of Lorant now glowed green to match that surrounding Dawnfang. It stood on a landing halfway up a flight of stairs. It was staring at Emma, whose spirit form seemed more solid. There was palpable yearning between the two, but no communication did I perceive.
I said, “Captain Bouchard, it appears I have to defeat more than one projection. So be it. I will do so to release your soul.”
As I approached, Emma vanished, and so did the illusion’s shield and katana. This time it summoned two Storm Atronachs and attacked with Blood Magic.
I growled, “Whatever you are, I am immune to Blood Magic, and the Atronachs cannot harm me. Now experience the power of my Thu’um!”
Unrelenting Force eliminated the Atronachs and sent the illusion crashing against a far wall.
I Blinked to the illusion as it stood and prepared to cast more spells.
My sword again sliced through the illusion, which vanished in a flash of Magicka.
I had a look around the chamber and found nothing of interest.
A locked gate led from the room. I picked its lock and entered. I knew that a sitting skeleton would attack as it was the only one I had seen with a weapon.
As predicted, the skeleton rose and attacked with an axe. Unlike the illusion of Lorant, it lacked skill, and I quickly cut it down.
On the table where the skeleton sat was yet another note.
“I met Sychelle Gatharian on a Morndas, outside the docks in the rain. I should’ve taken it as a sign.
We’d done business before, she and I. Smuggling black soul gems, corpses, the kind of dark and dishonest things that would make grown men sleep in pairs. But this was different. This was big.
The sword she gave me was like nothing I’d ever seen. It had teeth like a Slaughterfish and a blood-red gem in the centre. I said it must’ve been one of a kind. That’s when she smiled and told me there was another.
My job was to swap them.
We sealed the venture with a coin, of which more was promised later. The mage told me I’d be contacted in a week. A group of her associates would pay us to use the hideout to kill some captain, after which I’d make the switch.
She told me to keep this a secret from the mages, which made me pause, but the details didn’t matter much to me. All I wanted to know was the number on the ledger. It was enough.
Months later and the deal has turned rotten. The mages overestimated their magic, and we underestimated our greed. Now we’re all paying the price for our stupidity.
Some tried to fight their way out, but the bastard won’t die. I’m beginning to think he can’t. On top of that, every man he’s felled has risen to fight beside him, making him that much harder to kill.
I guess I have no one to blame but myself. I should’ve trusted my gut from the start. Mage jobs always have a terrible stink on them, but this one smelled especially foul. But I wanted that gold so bad I convinced myself and the men it was moon sugar.
The funny thing is, I don’t even have Bloodthirst anymore. I lost it at the pits at Faldar’s Tooth, thinking I could just kill the mages and Gatharian once I got my hands on the other one. But when the spell went bad, the guild sealed the captain in these chambers and us along with him.
Now all I have left is a festering wound, an empty stomach, and the mage’s coin to show for it.
Chances are, this coin is probably the only thing that will ever make it out of here. But it could tell you a story because it has bought a lot of lives.
It’s sold a lot of dreams and has spilt a lot of blood.
I know now the coin is cursed. Yet, for some reason, I can’t let it go.
The supposedly cursed coin sat on the table. I knocked it to the floor with the tip of my sword and melted it with Dragonfire. I noticed it was an older coin with Father’s face on it. I am sure he would understand my caution.
I will ask Auryen about the sword called Bloodthirst and decide if it is worth retrieving.
All Tsaesci Blood Drinker longswords are of the same design, with the colour of embedded gems being the differentiator. Even if the sword switch happened, I think the mages would have realised Bloodthirst had a different dweomer than they expected. If Verrick was weak of will, Dawnfang and Darkfang might have ensorceled him when he tried to do the swap.
I was not surprised that Verrick intended to double-cross and murder Sychelle. My tasks would be far harder to complete if evil stopped killing evil.
Next to another skeleton was Sellonus’ Journal.
It told me the details of what occurred.
“4th of Last Seed, 4E 130
Our guild has been commissioned to capture and restrain a renegade Blades captain. Many tales have spoken of his cruelty and malice, some claiming he is a part serpent. In addition to bearing the arms of his former employers, it is said that he wields an Akaviri weapon of dark magic. The combination makes him quite formidable.
Thankfully, The Guild has much experience dealing with such things, and we will win the day!
6th of Hearthfire, 4E 130
We encountered our foe, but all did not go as planned, and he escaped us. He was more powerful than we had imagined, and many lives were lost due to our misjudgement.
However, I am convinced that his dreaded blade is the source of his power, as I have witnessed first-hand the dark magic it yields, for the blade drinks both Lifeforce and Magicka from any that fall to it.
We must think of a way to separate our foe from the source of his power.
2nd of Sun’s Dusk, 4E 130
We have devised a means to separate our foe from his blade, and we must now set a trap and lure him to us. I am confident that it will work, but to be sure, I must think of an incentive to draw him to us.
I think it will be prudent to research this former Captain in more depth.
13th of Sun’s Dusk, 4E 130
Upon reading what I have regarding our Captain, my heart almost feels pity for him. It would seem that his madness and malice stem from the loss of his wife. The records reveal that it was after this tragic event that the darkness of the soul overcame him.
However, pity will not save lives. He must be stopped at all costs! Therefore, I have decided to acquire the remains of his loved one in the hope that this will draw him to us.
1st of Evening’s Star, 4E 130
We have secured a location that will serve us well. It is a smugglers’ hideout in Riften. One of the council members, Sychelle Gatharian, had done prior business with the inhabitants and pointed us in their direction.
It was a prudent choice, as this small band of unsavoury entrepreneurs seem more than happy to assist us with our venture, for they love gold above all else. With this much aid, building our trap should be accomplished reasonably quickly. Once this is done, we will bring her remains to us and draw our spider out!
18th of Morning Star, 4E 131
It is done. Now, all we can do is wait.
We will incapacitate him with our magic when he arrives and separate him from his blade. We will then channel his Lifeforce and Magicka into our constructed device, using his Lifeforce to shield the weapon from him. In essence, he will become bound to it, for the shield will hold whilst he lives. Hopefully, this plan will work, and we can avoid bloodshed, for given what we know of him, we do not wish for his death.
Perhaps, there is hope that, without his blade, we can rehabilitate him, for, despite his crimes, I pity the poor soul.
22nd of Morning Star, 4E 131
What was done cannot be undone! We did what we set out to do, and our commission was fulfilled, but at such a horrid cost for all of us.
Together we endeavoured to lay a trap here, with the aid of the inhabitant smugglers, and ensnare him. Knowing something of his past, we brought the remains of his dear departed wife, hoping that this alone would lure him into our grasp. Our plan worked, but something went horribly wrong!
Perhaps it was a mishap of our magic or the deeper magic of the weapon he wielded? I know not which with any certainty. All I know is that our enchantment caused his being to divide for some reason, and we suddenly found ourselves caught in a battle with three where there had once been one!
But with great effort, we managed to separate and contain these divisions within the chambers of this vault. But this was a small victory, if any, for I have yet to determine the actual cost of it. I know not how many members of my guild survived the deed, for I cannot break the seals to these doors without undoing all we have achieved. All I can do is await their return and pray.
There is at least some comfort in knowing that our foe can no longer wield his blade, for he and the magical shield are one. He is bound to it. He is now both its prisoner and its guardian!
23rd of Morning Star, 4E 131
Alas, our casualties were too high. Although we have trapped him here in this vault, it is clear that only I and one other may live to tell this tale. However, there is no time to grieve the loss of our guild, for we must seal this place shut and report to the council at once. They must be informed of what has happened here.
My colleague is severely wounded, but hopefully, he has strength yet to assist me, for we must not fail!”
I have no idea what the council is that Sellonus mentions.
The mages planned for Lorant to remain alive, and he is, but not where they wanted him to be. What happened to Lorant was not a division of his soul. I think he and his soul are trapped within the sword.
I made my way back to the central chamber.
As soon as I entered the central chamber, the light surrounding Dawnfang turned blue.
The remaining door had opened. It seems I have to face Lorant a third time. As with the previous encounters, I first had to descend a set of stairs to a lower chamber.
This chamber had a couple of feet of water in the middle of two stairways. At the far end was a casket which undoubtedly contained Emma’s remains. Many skeletons on the far stairs and around the casket suggested some mages and smugglers fought Lorant to no avail. I could see some of the skeletons were armed. Predictably, they will attack when I approach the casket.
Neither Emma’s spirit nor the illusion of Lorant was present.
I approached and saw that unnaturally persevered lavender lay on the casket’s lid. I assume lavender was a favourite flower of Emma’s.
Skeletons became animated but were slow, and I had time to position myself for the attack.
Unrelenting Force destroyed them.
A colourless illusion of Lorant, kneeling and surrounded by blue light, appeared at the other end. The once open door was shut and, I assume, locked.
This illusion used Lorant’s necromancy skills and reanimated skeletons.
Unrelenting Force destroyed every one of them.
The green magic using illusion appeared and summoned Storm Atronachs.
Unrelenting Force killed the Atronachs and sent the green illusion crashing against the far wall.
A second Shout destroyed it.
The blue light vanished, and the colourless illusion of Lorant approached.
I Blinked to it, and the corporeal Lorant replaced the illusion.
I took a defensive stance, for this was a live person before me, and I was hesitant to end his life.
Lorant said, “Forgive me, Dragonborn, for only my death can release the curse.”
Lorant used all of his considerable skill to attack, and I would be a fool to continue a defence. I countered his swordplay for several seconds and then ended his life.
I honoured a worthy opponent with a Dragonguard salute. I then searched Lorant and found the following letter from Emma.
“My dearest Lorant,
I know there is no power to stop them from taking you away from me and into battle upon foreign fields, for I understand that this is your duty as a captain of the Blades. As your wife, I should respect such things. Nevertheless, the fear that you may never return troubles me.
Know that I think of you always. We are bound together in this life and the next.
Your beloved, Emma.”
The spouse or partner of a soldier suffers much when their loved one is away. Rigmor would echo Emma’s lament, and I often wonder if she would be better off without me. Am I selfish to ask her to wait for me if I am to enter Oblivion or another place where our amulets do not work?
I shook my head. The answer to that question lies within Our Quiet. That peculiarity is proof of our entwined souls. Who knows what Rigmor has endured in previous Kalpa? We should enjoy our time together, knowing we will be reunited in our afterlife and future Kalpa. Rigmor once compared me to a pet dog. You expect to outlive it but love it nonetheless. We both laughed at the morbidity of that analogy.
Standing in the now still water, with tears streaming, I performed Arkay’s Rights over the corpse of Captain Lorant Bouchard.
- Behold, faithful of the divines, the beauty of your transformation.
- Do not fear the journey but rejoice as the gate opens.
- Enter Aetherius with joy in your heart and a smile on your face.
- The gate opens for all mortals.
- Not riches nor rank nor power can deny this return to Aetherius.
- As you approach the gate, Aetherius will approach you.
- Do not turn from the gate, as that is to reject your new life.
- Walk without fear and with dignity through the gate.
- Welcome your transformation.
- You need not fear losing your way, for he will guide you to your reward.
- Your body will decay.
- Your soul will remain safe behind the gate.
- Once the gate closes, you may never return.
- This is Arkay’s Law.
I headed for the central chamber, not knowing what I would find.
The spirits of Emma and Lorant stood facing each other, and they talked, although I could not hear their words.
Then they embraced.
They vanished into Aetherius, and recently dried tears flowed once more.
I removed my gauntlets and then walked up to Dawnfang. I took the sword and did several sword forms with it. The balance was superb, even if the grip was narrower than I preferred.
The entity in the sword beat itself against my mental barrier. I let it in enough to talk.
“You are Dragonborn! Not one of your kind has wielded me before. What fun we shall have!”
“What was your name?”
“And you used the serpent form?”
“Yes. That was my preference.”
“Why do you need the Lifeforce and Magicka of the fallen?”
“Not for anything mundane like sustenance. No, I want those things because I can take them. There is no other reason.”
“You like to count those who fall to your wielder.”
“Yes. It entertains me.”
“I also count those I slay with my sword. I have killed over fifteen hundred mortals with my katana in the last three months. It is a weapon given to me by a Tsaesci Swordmaster. Did you know Grandmaster Yru? He took me from my home and trained me in Akavir.”
The vampire’s spirit hissed, and hatred emanated from the sword.
I continued, “Vampiric Tsaesci attacked our headquarters in Akavir and eventually killed Grandmaster Yru and the other Dragonguard that had been my family for years. Dawnfang and Darkfang, even in their superior forms, are weak compared to my katana. I am Champion of The Divines and several of the Dark Lords. You will be sealed inside a vault, never to be used again in this Kalpa.”
I raised my mental barrier, and General Chyddej-Zhafien’s spirit pounded against it. I placed Dawnfang in my journal case. The spirit’s pounding ceased once I let go of the pommel.
I held my amulet and asked, “My beloved, have I told you how much I love you?”
“Not since last night. Therefore, I thought you were an old pervert taking advantage of an innocent, naïve teenager!”
“Damn, my cover is blown!”
“Something has saddened you.”
“I wonder if father realised our feelings would start to be transmitted via the amulets?”
“He is a god, so, most probably, maybe, perhaps he knew.”
“I am happy but melancholy. I just enabled the spirit of a soldier and his beloved wife to rejoin and enter Aetherius together. It is a sad tale with a happy ending.”
“Then you must tell me its entirety tonight. Right now, I have to settle a paternity dispute. Sometimes I think the aggrieved parties expect me to know who is knocking boots with who.”
“I love you, my Dragonborn.”
I exited via the portal, and my friends were relieved to see me.
Bashita asked, “Well, what happened?”
“I will tell you the tale as we travel to Old Hroldan Inn via Sky Haven Temple.”
My friends gathered around me, and we teleported to the home of The Blades.