Denying The Woodland Man

Loredas, 27th Hearthfire, 4E 201

& Sundas, 28th Hearthfire, 4E 201

We headed for a shortcut over the mountains. It will save us many hours of travel to Saering’s Watch. It will also reduce the chances of hostile encounters.

I used Night Vision as there were no artificial lights in this part of Solstheim.

We arrived at a waterfall. The route over the mountain started just after it.

My group knew the drill. I would Blink over the mountain and summon them on the other side.

I stood for a few seconds and took comfort in the unintelligible voices of Aetherius.

Mother and her people, The Nede, found comfort in the cosmos, even when subjected to the worst deprivations by the Daedra worshipping Ayleid. Saint Alessia knew that not all Ayleid were the same deprived savages that enslaved her people. There is a stark contrast between her treatment of Mer and Ysgramor’s. That Nord butcher decided all Falmer, Snow Elves, should die because of The Night of Tears. He spent decades slaughtering the innocent because they were Mer.

I summoned my friends opposite a Riekling barricade and cave named Benkongerike.

As we approached Saering’s Watch, I said, “I can already hear the Word Wall. External ones in Skyrim have been guarded by dragons since Alduin’s return. I don’t know if it is the same in Solstheim.”

Then Draugr came down from Saering’s Watch and attacked.

We fought Draugr to the Word Wall.

The Word Wall tried to teach me ‘GOL,’ which means earth and is the first Word of Power in the Bend Will Shout. I already knew both Word and Shout.

I laughed out loud.

  • Inigo: My friend, is the message that funny?
  • Wulf: No, Inigo. I laugh at how I missed the obvious.
  • Dhali: What did you miss?
  • Wulf: Of the dozens of Shouts that I know, only one can be used to control people and dragons. It is called Bend Will.
  • Dhali: You described it to me once. You don’t like anything that removes free will. Therefore, you wouldn’t use it.
  • Wulf: Miraak is using the power released by the Bend Will Shout to control the citizens of Solstheim. At first, it makes them want to touch an All-Maker Stone. When they do, it is like Miraak used the Shout on them. It is still similar to The Sea Sload Mind Magic and uses the power of the All-Maker Stones to make it effective over a large area.
  • Khao: How would you Shouting Bend Will on an All-Maker Stone help?
  • Wulf: I still don’t know the specifics of the dweomer used by Miraak. We might better understand the dweomer when I Shout at an All-Maker Stone and observe the result.
  • Khao: Don’t you think it strange that Skaal Shamans, who know nothing of The Thu’um, passed on the information about this Word Wall? I wonder when it became part of their Oral History.
  • Wulf: Speculation time! What if one or more avatars of The All-Maker knew what Miraak planned on doing? Therefore, an avatar told a Shaman the information about this Word Wall. Miraak and his fellow Dragon Priests planned to use the All-Maker Stones and Bend Will to control the dragons and end Alduin’s reign. However, The Jailor defeated Miraak before the plan was implemented and only now can Miraak try again. But this time, he needs ensorceled mortals to help construct the arches around the All-Maker Stones. When Miraak ruled Solstheim as a Dragon Priest, he could order mortals to do his bidding.
  • P’Sua: Miraak had a plan, so he didn’t help the Tongues.
  • Wulf: That is what I concluded. But as I said, it is speculation.
  • Dhali: But why would avatars of the All-Maker object to Miraak stopping Alduin?
  • Wulf: They didn’t object at first, but when Miraak ended up in Apocrypha, an avatar told a Shaman the information as a precaution against a corrupted Miraak.
  • Dhali: This is very complicated and very speculative, Wulf.
  • Wulf: Curiosity drives me to understand how Miraak has done this. I can always figure out the how and why later on. However, if Shouting Bend Will at All-Maker Stones stops the dweomer, that is our priority.
  • Shiva: What does the message say?
  • Wulf: In Dovahzul, the inscription says, ‘Qethsegol vahrukiv Bhar fin Golah wo praal het mulhaan ol gol saraan onikiv nunon wah meyz wuth sinon do onik.’
  • Shiva: I still think Dovahzul sounds like you need to cough up some phlegm.
  • Wulf: Im Tamrielic, it says, ‘This stone commemorates Bhar the Stubborn who sat here still as Earth awaiting enlightenment, only to become old instead of wise.’
  • Dhali: Do you have any idea who Bhar was?
  • Wulf: No, but apparently, he was very stubborn.
  • Dhali: One day, you will find your sense of humour.
  • Wulf: We shall teleport to the Skaal village and inform Storn what we are doing. Then we will go to The Wind Stone, and I will try the first Word of Bend Will.
  • Khao: Is there any danger?
  • Wulf: There may be defensive measures hidden within the dweomer. However, I must try it.

We teleported into the village.

Then I approached Storn.

I said, “Please, keep your concentration, Shaman. I want you to know we went to Saering’s Watch, but I already knew the Word of Power and Shout. We shall now try it on The Wind Stone.”

Storn nodded, and we headed for The All-Maker Stone.

We encountered some reavers who were planning an attack on the ensorceled Skaal. Their attack would have failed as the dweomer would have made them touch The Wind Stone. They turned hostile and died for their stupidity.

My friends stood back as I stepped up to the monolith. Miraak’s dweomer beat against my mind’s barrier but was nowhere near strong enough to penetrate.

I told them, “I will use a single Word Shout. That is what is supposed to cleanse The All-Maker Stones.”

I Shouted the first Word of Bend Will.

The effect was instantaneous. The green beam emitted from The Wind Stone vanished. It was replaced by a yellow and orange plasma, which interacted with the new structure.

The yellow and orange plasma dissipated, and for a second, nothing happened.

Then red cracks appeared in the new structure as if it contained magma.

The new structure exploded brightly, but no damage was done to the freed Skaal or The Wind Stone. No debris remained.

Simultaneous with the explosion, a summoned Lurker appeared.

I cut it down.

Then a troll came charging towards the confused Skaal.

I cut it down with a backhand slice across its midriff.

As people gathered around the dead Lurker to discuss how ugly it was, I talked to an Imperial who had been ensorceled.

“Excuse me, are you Professor Tharstan Platus, or to use your alias, Tharstan of Solitude?”

“Yes, and I am confused!”

“I am Lord Welkynd, the Dragonborn. My friends are known as The Dragonguard. Miraak ensorceled you. He was the Dragon Priest placed in charge of Solstheim before The Dragon War. He has been in Apocrypha for forty-five centuries and is trying to return to Mundus. People throughout Solstheim have been enslaved to make structures attached to The All-Maker Stones.”

“That is a bit to take in!”

“Speak to Shaman Storn Crag-Strider after you have rested. This situation must be explained to the Skaal in terms they will understand.”

“I will do so, but looking around, I think they just want to go home and sleep.”

“The morning is good enough when everybody is more alert.”

“I look forward to hearing the explanation from you, Lord Welkynd. The details can be lost when everything is categorised as All Maker and Adversary.”

“When I can, I will gladly tell you the details. In the meantime, my friends and I must cleanse the other All-Maker Stones.”

The Skaal were slowly returning to their village when I inspected the Lurker.

I turned to Inigo.

He commented, “My friend, that is a hideous creature!”

“They are not much of a danger to us. However, they are powerful enough to kill many unarmed villagers before being taken down.”

“Why make them so ugly?”

“Hermaeus Mora’s various avatars are all hideous. Who knows, Seeker and Lurker might be aesthetically pleasing to him.”

“Are we going to tell the shaman?”

“He has probably gone to bed exhausted, but I want to let him know what we are doing. He needs to reassure the villagers.”

We teleported to the village and entered Storn’s hut.

Frea was asleep. I gently shook her awake

I did the same with Storn, and he stood groggily.

  • Wulf: Sorry to wake you both. However, I thought you should know that I have removed the dweomer from The Wind Stone, and your people are free.
  • Storn: We felt the change when you prevailed.
  • Frea: We were struggling to maintain the shield. I am glad you finally freed our people.
  • Storn: You have proven yourself allies to the Skaal, so the Skaal shall be allies to you.
  • Wulf: We are glad to have freed the Skaal. Now we must visit all of The All-Maker Stones and free others.
  • Storn: Indeed, but I doubt it will stop whatever Miraak is doing. However, it may slow his progress.
  • Wulf: You are correct; it won’t stop Miraak’s plans. Eventually, he will find another way to return to Nirn. I will have to revisit Apocrypha to stop him. Therefore, I will need more Black Books to take me to different parts of Herma Mora’s realm.
  • Frea: But you can already travel to Apocrypha via the Black Book you carry.
  • Wulf: Each Black Book takes you to a different part of Apocrypha. The magic Miraak used to enslave the Skaal and other mortals could also enslave dragons. Miraak enslaved a dragon named Sahrotaar. He flies on Sahrotaar to different parts of Apocrypha. I could summon my dragon friends to Apocrypha, but they would risk being enslaved by Miraak. Therefore, I must rely on Black Books.
  • Storn: You have dragons you regard as friends?
  • Wulf: Shaman, not all dragons are evil, and some who harmed mortals seek redemption. If one dragon named Paarthurnax had not done so, Alduin would have won the Dragon War. Another of my Dov friends, Nafaalilargus, helped Elsweyr prevent a Dovah from becoming a malicious god.
  • Frea: And you fly on them?
  • Wulf: Yes, and it is a beautiful experience. Perhaps you could fly on a dragon when Solstheim is freed from Miraak and see The All-Maker’s work from up high?
  • Frea: That would be wonderful!
  • Khao: Wulf, what do you think happened when you Shouted Bend Will at The Wind Stone?
  • Wulf: The Thu’um was corrupted within the structure the ensorceled were making. When I Shouted Bend Will, the corruption was removed. The structure vanished into the winds, and no debris was left behind. I am sure those structures are an affront to Lady Kynareth.
  • Storn: Your Shout broke whatever evil controlled The Wind Stone and restored its true nature as a conduit of The All-Maker’s gift. Freeing the other Stones will diminish whatever dark influence is spreading across Solstheim.
  • Khao: Now, touching The Wind Stone should provide a boon as it once did.
  • Wulf: I should be able to cleanse all All-Maker Stones except The Tree Stone.
  • Frea: Yes, it is imprisoned in Miraak’s new temple and most likely beyond the power of The Voice.
  • Wulf: As I said earlier, I need to go to Apocrypha and stop Miraak from there.
  • Storn: The Black Books are dark things and unnatural. I will have nothing to do with them. However, the Dark Elf Wizard, Neloth, came to us some time ago, asking about Black Books. I believe he knows a great deal about them. Perhaps too much. Seek him out to the south. Be cautious, Dragonborn. There is something else at work here.
  • Wulf: Yes, Shaman, there is far more to this than Miraak seeking freedom and control of Solstheim. I believe Miraak has altruistic intentions, but his methods are unacceptable.
  • Storn: The Black Books and Miraak are connected. You read a Black Book and saw him. And the book’s power comes from the same dark source that corrupted The Wind Stone. But beware. You are now walking the same road as Miraak.
  • Dhali: Other gods have tried to corrupt Wulf and failed. He cannot be bribed or persuaded by any of them or their agents.
  • Wulf: It was not a dark source that corrupted The Wind Stone. I was Thu’um mixed with Magicka, neither of which is evil. They are forces of nature and, therefore, products of The All Maker. I wield both forces. The link between the Black Books and Miraak is Herma Mora, and I know that Dark Lord’s tricks, Shaman. He will try to convince me that all of this is predetermined and that I have no free will. He is not the only avatar of The Adversary to use such tactics. He may offer knowledge in exchange for a favour or other knowledge. He regards me as his champion, although I refuse to cooperate. You must be careful when bargaining with any of the avatars of The Adversary that we call Daedric Princes. Those avatars will not renege on a verbal contract, but unless worded correctly, the mortal may not get the outcome desired.
  • Frea: Father, Wulf has dealt with many of The Adversary’s avatars.
  • Wulf: A few, but I have studied their interactions with other mortals.
  • Khao: Shaman, does Lord Neloth own any Black Books?
  • Storn: When he visited here, he had one that he showed to me. It was like the one The Dragonborn carries. It was a thing of dark magic and not The All-Maker.
  • Wulf: Many would say that all we encounter is natural, Shaman. The natural laws of the Aurbis dictate everything, but that is a philosophical discussion for another day. We will vanish now. Do not be alarmed, for it is teleportation magic.
  • Dhali: Which All-Maker Stone next, Wulf?
  • Wulf: The Earth Stone. Then we shall need to rest and cleanse the others in daylight.

I teleported us to Raven Rock.

Then we made our way to The Earth Stone.

This time I had my sword drawn in case minions were summoned again.

The sequence was the same as with The Wind Stone.

I Shouted the first Word of Bend Will.

The green beam emitted from The Wind Stone vanished. It was replaced by a yellow and orange plasma, which interacted with the new structure.

The yellow and orange plasma dissipated, and for a second, nothing happened. Then red cracks appeared in the new structure as if it contained magma.

The new structure exploded brightly, but no damage was done to the freed mortals or The Wind Stone. There was no debris left behind, and a Lurker was summoned.

Inigo and the others shot the Lurker before it could harm anybody.

Then another Lurker waded ashore. It made a trumpeting sound which ruined its chance of a surprise attack.

I ran to it and ended its life.

I returned to my group and said, “That’s it for today. We shall explain what happened to the Councillor in the morning.”

I teleported us to Aurane, where we ate and then retired to bed.

After spas and breakfast the following day, we teleported to Raven Rock.

An Ash Storm significantly reduced visibility as we walked to Morvayn Manor.

I asked the solo guard, “Is the Councillor in attendance?”

“Lord Welkynd, I was told to let you in unannounced. Everybody seems to have woken from a bad dream, and we have you and The Dragonguard to thank.”

Cindiri Arano, Second Councillor Adril’s wife, approached me when I entered.

She asked, “May I have a word, Lord Welkynd?”

“Yes, of course. I assume I am speaking to Lady Cindiri Arano?”

“Yes, and forgive me for not introducing myself before asking to talk.”

“I am not a stickler for protocol, Lady Arano.”

“Your efforts in Raven Rock have proven most invigorating for my husband. I haven’t seen him this pleased in many years.”

“We are merely doing what is right, Lady Arano.”

“This might seem unimportant, considering the other tasks you have been doing, but something of great sentimental value has been stolen from me.”

“What was it?”

“A few months ago, I sent an important folio to the First Edition Bookshop in The Imperial City to be rebound. They sent it back to me recently, but it never arrived.”

“What is the name of the folio?”

“It is the first edition of The Lusty Argonian Maid Folio Edition signed by Crassius Curio. It was gifted to my family in Morrowind when we offered him food and shelter. He was in dire straights then, not the wealthy and famous author he is today.”

“Was it sent by ship from The Imperial City or transported by land first?”

“It was sent from The Imperial City aboard the ‘Strident Squall.’ The damn thing sunk right off the coast of Solstheim. Can you imagine?”

“Shipwrecks happen, Lady Arano. How do you know your heirloom was aboard that ship?”

“One of the sailors survived. Poor thing crawled to Raven Rock on his hands and knees. Before he died, he told the Redoran Guard about the wreck and warned us that it would be crawling with reavers.”

“Well, if he were that badly injured, he wouldn’t have travelled far. I did notice a shipwreck on our travels. If we get the chance, we shall investigate it for you.”

“Thank you!”

“Please, Lady Arano, don’t think of it as trivial. It must hurt to lose such a precious heirloom.”

“Indeed, Lord Welkynd. It makes it worse to think reavers use it for base purposes rather than appreciate its sentimental value.”

“May I ask? Lady Arano, did it just need rebinding, or was there other damage, such as stuck-together pages?”

Cindiri turned bright red, and my friends battled valiantly to suppress their laughter as we approached the First and Second Councillors.

  • Lleril: Welcome, Lord Welkynd and Dragonguard. It seems you have resolved the Miraak issue.
  • Wulf: Only partially, Councillor. We have removed the offending dweomer from two of The All-Maker Stones. We are about to remove it from several more. However, a danger to Solstheim and all of Nirn still exists. I will need to confront Miraak in Oblivion to end that danger.
  • Adril: You intend to travel to Oblivion?
  • Wulf: I have been to several realms of Oblivion, Second Councillor. These forays in Dark Lord territory are essential if I am to protect the mortals of Nirn.
  • Lleril: It is hard to comprehend how many people, including Lady Arano, worked on the structure around The Wind Stone, yet nobody recognised the problem.
  • Wulf: Half the vendors were not attending their stores at the market. Probably half of your guards were not reporting for duty. Yet you all remained ignorant. I understand the magic used, if not the mechanics of how it was achieved. But you don’t need to know how a machine works to sabotage it.
  • Adril: You also saved us from The Ash Spawn. Captain Veleth was most complimentary.
  • Wulf: That danger was of priority as your defence was weakened.
  • Lleril: Adril says you will try negotiating better prices from The East Empire Company.
  • Wulf: I am confident that Lady Vittoria Vici would be unaware of such scandalous price gouging. She is an honest businesswoman, but her time is spent mainly at Solitude’s docks. Underlings at Windhelm docks act independently with little intervention. However, once I bring the problem to her attention, she will rectify it.
  • Adril: Good, because we have little coin to spare.
  • Wulf: From what I understand, the ebony mine was producing record amounts of ore just before it was closed by The Empire.
  • Adril: Yes, after a cave-in killed several miners, they deemed it too dangerous.
  • Wulf: I am not a miner, but I know The Empire doesn’t easily give up such valuable resources. It would not take long to excavate new tunnels and little money to increase shoring and strength. Many mines suffer such tragedies and are not shut down. Miners know the risk. They are willing to work in a mine if proper precautions are taken.
  • Lleril: An aged Imperial, Crescius Caerellius claims there was more to The Empire’s decision than the collapse. I admit we have dismissed him as being a bit eccentric. Perhaps, if you also think things don’t add up, you might want to speak to him.
  • Adril: We would both apologise to him profusely if he has been right with his suspicions.
  • Wulf: Okay, after I have dealt with Miraak, I might take a look. However, I may have to attend to the invasion first.
  • Lleril: Invasion?
  • Wulf: The New Order, a breakaway sect of The Dominion, is about to invade Cyrodiil and Skyrim. We are herding them to battlefields of our choosing. I must return for the final battles as I command a combined force of the Imperial Army and Stormcloaks.
  • Adril: It must be a genuine threat if a truce has been called in your civil war.
  • Wulf: I don’t think The New Order has a hope of defeating us. But still, we have endeavoured to reduce casualties.
  • Adril: If it is not impertinent, may I ask what side of the civil war you fight for?
  • Wulf: Ulfric is a blasphemous, racist, murdering kingslayer I intend to kill.
  • Lleril: On the off chance Ulfric wins, what would it mean for Skyrim?
  • Wulf: It would be a disaster for all of Tamriel. For a start, your population would triple as Ashlanders in Skyrim fled his tyranny. A weakened Empire would invite The Dominion to renew hostilities. Most of us regard The White-Gold Concordat as a truce, not the end of the war. If The Empire fell, Morrowind would follow. But that scenario won’t happen, for Ulfric has as little chance as The New Order and will be crushed.
  • Lleril: What about Ulfric’s claims of religious persecution?
  • Wulf: Lord Talos suggested to His Imperial Majesty that I be put in command of the combined forces. I speak to the NIthth Divine often, and he did not ask Ulfric to fight on his behalf. Many Legionnaires who die at Stormcloak hands are the proud wearers of an Amulet of Talos. Emperor Titus Mede II will owe me a great deal, and I will ask for the ban on Talos worship to be removed. I doubt The Dominion would renew hostilities if Ulfric has been defeated with minor damage to Skyrim and minimal casualties within The Imperial Army.
  • Adril: The Dominion have an excellent network of spies. They must know of The New Order’s plans.
  • Wulf: We told them, but they knew before that. They hoped The New Order did considerable damage to The Empire and then claimed plausible deniability. However, they now have no choice but to coordinate the destruction of The New Order on their homeland whilst we demolish them in Cyrodiil and Skyrim.
  • Lleril: I had better word an explanation about Miraak for the citizens of Solstheim. I will prepare a draft and would appreciate your opinion after you defeat Miraak.
  • Wulf: Certainly, Councillor.
  • Adril: Have you encountered many reavers on your journeys across Solstheim?
  • Wulf: A few isolate pockets here and there.
  • Adril: Take care, Lord Welkynd. I cannot imagine another Dragonborn would be easy to better in combat.
  • Wulf: I don’t intend to fight Miraak, but I would defeat him if I did. I will keep you updated.

We exited Morvayn Manor and headed for the northern exit. It was so dark, I decided to use Night Vision.

The market was busy, and I was pleased to see the vendors attending their stores.

We would have to walk past a watchtower and walkway.

I could see reavers populating the structure.

I decided to do some long-distance culling.

I quickly eliminated all external sentries. A bridge from the watchtower led to a Nord temple. I have no doubt many reavers currently call the temple home.

A bit further on, I noticed three shirtless Nords walking our way.

I told the group, “It is too cold, even for a Nord, to walk around shirtless. I don’t think they have shoes, either. Let’s introduce ourselves with weapons sheathed.”

The trio saw us approaching and turned around.

When we got closer, one of them transformed. All three were Werebears.

I yelled, “Kill them before they transform!”

I cut down the transformed Werebear, and my friends killed the other two before they could change.

All three of them carried fresh human flesh for consumption.

I told the group, “Like vampires, lycanthropes have free will. Hircine’s curse does not force them to hunt mortals. They choose to do so. Let’s continue to The Water Stone.”

Close to The Water Stone was a rowboat. It has come from a trading vessel anchored in the deeper waters.

We had to walk up a steep embankment.

A Miraak Goon was guarding The All-Maker Stone.

A single arrow eliminated her.

Only four people were working on The Water Stone’s additions.

  • Inigo: My friend, I don’t think many people pass this way. That is why so few of them are enslaved compared to the other All-Make Stones.
  • Wulf: I think you may be right, Inigo.
  • Khao: I am not an expert on your furless species, but I would say the elderly man is an Imperial, and the other three are Nords.
  • Wulf: You are right, Khao. They might be the crew of the nearby trading vessel.
  • Dhali: Weapons at the ready. Another Lurker or two will visit us.

I Shouted the first Word of Bend Will, and the same process occurred as at the previous two All-Maker Stones.

A summoned Lurker took a swipe at Inigo. He easily dodged the attack and swiftly ended his opponent’s life.

I approached the elderly Imperial.

  • Wulf: Hello, I am Lord Welkynd, The Dragonborn, and my friends are called The Dragonguard.
  • Palevius: I am Palevius Rex, and I am honoured to meet you, Dragonborn. What happened to us?
  • Wulf: What is your home port, and when did you sail?
  • Palevius: We sailed from Windhelm on the 21st Hearthfire.
  • Wulf: Today is the 28th.
  • Palevius: Oh, I hope our goods from Skyrim are still fresh! We would not take such an extended shore leave. What happened to us?
  • Wulf: You were ensorceled and forced to build a structure here. But we just destroyed it and freed you.
  • Palevius: Then we owe you and The Dragonguard our thanks.
  • Dhali: Did you come ashore for any particular reason?
  • Palevius: I don’t know. We usually sail to Raven Rock directly. I can’t think of why we would anchor anywhere near this place.
  • Dhali: What goods are you carrying?
  • Palevius: Basic foodstuffs. We return to Skyrim with the exotic alcohol beverages of this land and Netch leather. It is very profitable.
  • Wulf: We are glad to have helped. I advise you to get your goods to Raven Rock immediately. They have had difficulty with supply reliability lately.
  • Palevius: We will, and thank you once again.

Palevius and his crew hurried to their rowboat.

Inigo asked, “Where next, my friend?”

“We shall teleport to Miraak’s Temple and fix The Beast Stone.”

We teleported to the temple, and curiosity got the better of me.

I remembered a place that I would like to visit when time permits. We walked to a nearby cliff and looked down upon a Dwemer ruin.

I told my friends, “That is Kagrumez. It was an arena like the ones that once flourished in Cyrodiil. The Dwemer enjoyed blood sports, but I am sure they had a logical reason, not just bloodlust.”

Dhali noted, “There is a tent. There might be archaeologists down there.”

“We only know what Kagrumez is from Dwemer documents. Nobody knew how to unlock the Dwemer lift. Perhaps those below have figured it out. If so, good luck to them.”

On the way to The Sun Stone, we encountered two Riekling riding boars.

They showed no aggression, so we let them be.

I cleansed The Beast Stone.

Then we killed a summoned Lurker.

A Riekling chittered at me.

I said, “I am sorry, but I don’t know your language. You are free now. Return to your village.”

I told the group, “I don’t know any places close to The Sun Stone, so we shall have to walk.”

We approached a destroyed Imperial fort called Ashfallow Citadel. We were not sneaking or trying to be quiet. I spotted a person in distinctive armour and put my hand up in the signal for halt and quiet.

I used Zoom Vision and confirmed my suspicion.

Then a voice to my left said in Dunmeri, “Intruders. Kill them!”

Well, we weren’t intruders and were not in a restricted area. I had no idea Morag Tong had a chapter on Solstheim, and they had no right to attack us.

I decided not to argue legalities when they knocked bows and aimed them our way.

They are not warriors, and their skills proved insufficient. We killed the six Morag Tong sentries in seconds.

I searched the bodies and found no writ.

  • P’Sua: That was a bit rude of them.
  • Inigo: We taught them manners, but I don’t think they will remember the lesson.
  • Wulf: I didn’t think the Morag Tong has a chapter on Solstheim.
  • Dhali: Wulf, any assassin that sees you is overcome with the desire to kill you.
  • Inigo: Are we entering their nest?
  • Wulf: No. If it is a legal chapter, then we would be trespassing. However, they attacked us outside the fort’s boundaries, which was illegal.

We continued our trek to The Sun Stone.

Reavers and necromancers were modifying The Sun Stone. If they attack us after being freed, we will kill them. If they leave us be, we will let them live.

I decided to Shout from a distance to observe the routine from a different perspective. The sequence of events was the same as earlier.

After we ended their enslavement, the necromancers and reavers wisely decided not to attack us.

I told my friends, “We might as well visit Master Neloth and ask him about Black Books.”

It was a relatively short walk to Tel Mithryn.

Dhali seemed intrigued by the giant mushrooms.

  • Dhali: I wonder if you can eat them?
  • Wulf: That is probably not advisable. The Telvanni use the souls of Daedra to grow them.
  • Khao: The wizards capture the souls of Storm Atronachs, Winged Twilights or Golden Saints into Grand Soul Gems. One of those Soul Gems will be at the base of each giant mushroom.
  • Dhali: What are Winged Twilights?
  • Wulf: Lurkers and Seekers are the minions of Hermaeus Mora. Winged Twilights are the minions of Lady Azura.
  • Khao: They are beautiful women with the wings and talons of an eagle. Some believe they are a modified form of Harpy, which in turn are supposed to be creations of Lady Nocturnal.
  • Inigo: I have heard of Harpies. Don’t they live in the Iliac Bay area?
  • Wulf: Yes, but they have migrated in the past. However, their presence is not tolerated, and small colonies are quickly eliminated.
  • Khao: Golden Saints are the minions of Uncle Sheo.
  • Wulf: I don’t know why the Telvanni can only use the souls of those three types of Daedra to grow their mushrooms.
  • Inigo: My friend, I was going to ask that. I was also going to ask why they live in giant mushrooms.
  • Wulf: The mushrooms require far fewer raw materials, such as stone and wood. Plus, the larger towers where Telvanni nobles reside provide better security.
  • Inigo: How?
  • Wulf: When you see inside Neloth’s home, it will become self-explanatory.

We approached a young mage who seemed to be studying a spell book and practising casting a spell. A Dunmer woman stood behind him. The mage was wearing Adept Robes of Conjuration. Listening to the incantation, I ascertained he was trying to summon an Atronach species known as Ash Guardian. If your skill is insufficient, a catalyst is required to summon some creatures and keep them under control.

After several failed attempts, the woman spoke to him.

  • Varona: Talvas, why are you out here? Aren’t you supposed to be in the tower assisting Master Neloth?
  • Talvas: If you must know, Verona, I’m trying to get this Ash Guardian spell to work. Now let me concentrate. Besides, shouldn’t you be more worried about the damage to the tower?
  • Varona: Master Neloth has tasked Elynea with repairing the tower. Why aren’t you doing this in the lab, where it would be safer for all of us?
  • Talvas: Oh…umm…the…uh…the lab is too small. Also, I need ashy soil. Master Neloth knows what I’m doing. There is no need to bother him about it, though. He’s pretty busy at the moment.
  • Varona: It’s on your head if something goes wrong. Just let me get back inside first.
  • Talvas: I don’t understand why there is no Ash Guardian. Maybe the book has something? Tort bones? That doesn’t even make sense. I’ll ignore that part.

Talvas was busy studying the spellbook and seemed not to notice the heavily armed and armoured strangers standing nearby. When Varona greeted us, Talvas looked our way worriedly.

  • Varona: Outlanders, I am Varona Nelas, Master Neloth’s Steward. Welcome to Tel Mithryn.
  • Wulf: Thank you for your kind greeting, Varona. I am Lord Welkynd, and these are my friends. We are here to speak to Master Neloth.
  • Talvas: Greetings. I am Mage Talvas Fathryon. Does Master Neloth know about you?
  • Varona: Everybody knows who Lord Welkynd and the heroes with him are!
  • Talvas: Okay, Varona, who are they?
  • Varona: Lord Welkynd is The Dragonborn, and his friends are called The Dragonguard.
  • Talvas: Oh… um… of course, I knew that.
  • Khao: Perhaps you can teach Talvas some manners, Varona? You might have to wait till he has stopped embarrassing himself first.
  • Talvas: What do you mean? I am simply trying to cast a highly complex spell.
  • Khao: That summoning spell is beyond your ability without a catalyst. If you let Lord Welkynd or I look at the spell, we can tell you what catalyst is needed.
  • Talvas: No, this is a spell known only to a few people. You want to steal it. Ask Master Neloth if he will sell you a spellbook!
  • Inigo: If you ever again accuse any of us of such dishonesty, I shall beat you till you are as blue as me. Understood?
  • Talvas: Look, I’m having trouble deciphering Master Neloth’s handwriting. I don’t mean to be rude, but I need to concentrate.
  • Wulf: You work with Master Neloth?
  • Talvas: I work not so much with him as for him. I am Master Neloth’s apprentice. He’s teaching me the art of sorcery.
  • Wulf: It is a great honour to train with a Telvanni Wizard-Lord. He must be an excellent teacher.
  • Talvas: Um. He is, ahh, a very great wizard. And it is a great honour for him to have taken me as his apprentice.
  • Shiva: You sound uncertain.
  • Talvas: Well, to be honest, it’s horrible! He’s very unpleasant and hardly teaches me anything. Sometimes he uses me in his experiments. Even so, I pick up a lot from just watching him.
  • Wulf: Does he have more than one apprentice?
  • Talvas: No, just the one.
  • Wulf: What can you tell me about Ildari Sarothril?
  • Talvas: Ildari was Master Neloth’s apprentice before me. I never met her. Master Neloth took me on because she died. I heard it was messy.
  • Wulf: How long ago did Ildari die?
  • Talvas: I am not sure. I have been here five years, so on or before 4E 196.
  • Wulf: Mmm…I don’t believe Ildari is as dead as Master Neloth thinks.
  • Talvas: I am sure Master Neloth knows what death looks like.
  • Varona: We don’t get many visitors.
  • Dhali: I am fascinated by the giant mushrooms!
  • Varona: In Morrowind, the Telvanni grow buildings from particular fungus spores. Master Neloth grew one here to be his home. Please don’t ask me how.
  • Dhali: What are your duties?
  • Varona: I manage the day-to-day affairs of Tel Mithryn.
  • Talvas: And brew that damned tea of his!
  • Rigmor: Who else lives here?
  • Varona: Talvas, myself and Master Neloth and Elynea. She is our alchemist and specialises in mushrooms and other types of fungi. And Ulves runs the kitchens.
  • Dhali: I assume the largest mushroom is Master Neloth’s home?
  • Verona: Yes, head up that ramp.
  • Wulf: Before we go, watch, and learn, Talvas.

I summoned what Talvas calls an Ash Guardian, aka Ash Atronach.

Talvas shrieked and ran away. Varona laughed.

I quickly dismissed the Ash Guardian and approached Talvas.

I told him, “I am a Master of The College of Winterhold. Like me, Khao is a master of all the schools of Magicka. We offered you good advice, Talvas. You would be a fool to ignore it.”

We headed up a ramp to Master Neloth’s abode.

On the door, the symbol of House Telvanni was proudly displayed.

When we entered, Inigo asked, “My friend, how are we supposed to get up there?”

“This is why these large mushrooms are so secure. You can only get to the top using the magic lift, which can be deactivated. Watch, but please stay below. Master Neloth is guaranteed to be a bit paranoid with Morrowind politics being quite bloodthirsty.”

I stepped into the centre of the lift and slowly rose upwards.

I stepped onto the platform.

Neloth was studying a map and did not notice me approaching.

I coughed, and the startled wizard cast a ward and held a Thunderbolt spell ready.

I told him, “Relax, Master Neloth. I am not a danger to you unless you cast Thunderbolt. Don’t, as it would be a shame if I ruined those wonderful robes by cutting you in half.”

“You again. Didn’t I see you in Raven Rock?”

“Well, it couldn’t be me again if you had not met me at least once.”

“Good point! However, I don’t recall inviting you into my tower. I do hope you make this worth my while.”

“Master Neloth, Varona welcomed us warmly and allowed us entry. Therefore, logically, an invite was not required. Hence, I advise you to watch your manners!”

“Okay, Lord Welkynd, why are you here?”

“I was informed that you know much about the Black Books.”

“Do you refer to the tomes of esoteric knowledge that old Hermaeus Mora has scattered throughout the world? What could you know of them?”

“I have one of them, which I have read and used to teleport to Apocrypha. I need others to end Miraak’s threat.”

“You’ve got the look. I can see it now. Dangerous knowledge is still knowledge and, therefore, useful. It usually turns out to be the most useful, in my experience.”

“You can see nothing, Master Neloth. I am merely trying to save everybody on Solstheim from becoming enslaved by Miraak. The danger to me in Apocrypha is negligible. I need more information, so I can voluntarily risk my life by confronting Miraak! That is the real peril I face!”

“Hermaeus Mora has always tried to seduce mortals into his service with the lure of forbidden knowledge. Where the Black Books came from… no one knows. Some appear to have been written in the past, while others might be from the future. Apparently, time is more malleable if you’re a Daedric Prince of fate and destiny.”

“Like all Daedric Princes, he has adopted a fancy title. He has no power over anybody’s fate or destiny. It seems Mora can’t even control Miraak!”

“You keep mentioning Miraak. Is he the one the townsfolk are always chanting about?”

“We have already stopped that chanting and released the All-Maker Stones from Miraak’s grip. People are no longer under Miraak’s control. You can think about Miraak now without confusion which was impossible when last we spoke.”

“I remember meeting you but not discussing Miraak. I knew something connected with Hermaeus Mora was spreading its influence across the island. I wasn’t sure that it was, in fact, the same deity as this legendary namesake of the central temple. However, the villagers seem entirely convinced.”

“Miraak is not a deity! He is a mortal, a Dragonborn as I am. The villagers do not revere him now that we have removed his dweomer. The small number of followers he does have are delusional. Are you afraid of Hermaeus Mora?”

“Hermaeus Mora should not be trifled with! But he is subtler than most of his ilk, appropriate for the prince of knowledge and fate. Many scholars and loremasters have been ensnared by the lure of learning the secrets that only Hermaeus Mora possesses. But don’t worry. I have no intention of joining them in their endless search through the infinite halls of Apocrypha.”

“Hermaeus Mora hoards knowledge because that is his nature. In the same as a dog that drools over a bone and then buries it, never remembering he ever had it. Mora has collected and stored a fraction of the knowledge possessed by those who created all you see. Those builders include The Divines. I have refused to be Mora’s Champion and will continue to do so. I refused to read The Oghma Infinium. Similarly, I will refuse any knowledge he offers while I am in Apocrypha unless it aids me against Miraak.”

“You found The Oghma Infinium?”

“Yes, and I have placed that abomination where no Daedric worshipper will ever travel. It will not snare further souls for that foul Dark Lord!”

“It seems you are more equipped to deal with Hermaeus Mora than those who fall prey to his words and promises. I can find Black Books. They’re not hard to locate once you know how to look for them. I have one here that I have been using to discover more.

“How can you be certain The Black Book you possess is not the book I require?”

“I haven’t been idle while this fascinating madness engulfed Solstheim. But my book isn’t what you’re looking for as I’m pretty sure it is unconnected with this Miraak. But I know where to find the Black Book to help you.”

“You can determine the subject matter of a Black Book without reading it?”

“Yes, and the one I possess is not associated with the same power that has overtaken the island. And I’m not talking about Hermaeus Mora. These Black Books are all his, of course. You’re looking for a specific book, presumably because Miraak’s power derives from it.”

“You’re mistaken, Master Neloth.”

“I doubt that, but amuse me with an explanation.”

“You admitted the last time we met that I have superior knowledge regarding this matter. But I will exercise your bruised ego again. A Black Book might be able to teach Miraak a Word of Power. It cannot teach him how to use the Words of Power within a Shout. That knowledge comes from the souls of dragons or is transferred via the Thu’um from another being. If stuck in Apocrypha, Miraak would likely rely on Hermaeus Mora to transfer the knowledge required to use a Shout.”

“Okay, once more, I admit, your knowledge of The Voice exceeds mine.”

“You are also mistaken when claiming what knowledge will be imparted by a Black Book. Logic dictates that Hermaeus Mora decides on the knowledge to be offered after a being has traversed Apocrypha. For example, if a Black Book only taught Words of Power, what use would that be to a thief or warrior? They would not be tempted by irrelevant knowledge, and Mora would lose them as potential recruits.”

“That is, as you say, logical.”

“Each Black Book transfers you to a different part of Apocrypha. Hermaeus Mora did not appear when I entered Apocrypha, but Miraak did. I believe Miraak has claimed that area as his and barred Mora. Think of it as a pocket plane. I believe Mora will say hello if I appear in another part of Apocrypha. Master Neloth, I seek the Black Books for the knowledge needed to help others, not for self-gratification!”

“I see you have learnt quickly by reading one of them what decades of research revealed to me.”

“I will read each Black Book till I find the one that leads me to Miraak. We will ignore the one you already have for now. Please, can you tell me the whereabouts of this other Black Book?”

“I could, but I haven’t been able to get it by myself. Maybe together, we can unlock the secrets the Dwemer left behind.”

“Is it within a Dwemer ruin?”

“Yes. It seems the ancient Dwemer discovered this Black Book and took it to study. I have found their ‘reading room’ in the ruins of Nchardak. The book is there but sealed in a protective case which I couldn’t open. But perhaps we can work together and will be able to get the book.

“Nchardak is not far from here. I find it ironic that Hermaeus Mora needed my help to open a Dwemer Lockbox, and now their greed also protects the Black Book.”

“Forbidden knowledge was somewhat a speciality of the dwarves, eh? Can you briefly explain how Miraak accomplished the enslavement of so many?”

“Miraak used a particular Shout and Magicka to create his dweomer. He used the All-Maker Stones to spread a compulsion. That compulsion made many people touch an All-Maker Stone and thereby become ensorceled. Everybody ignored what was happening and forgot they were working on the structures. The Shout being used is one that I would never use. With it, I could command armies of Dov. I could bend the will of emperors, kings, and queens with it. Even you would be at my mercy.

“If it is so powerful, why did Miraak remain hidden?”

“I think Hermaeus Mora kept him in stasis until Alduin appeared. Mora would not want mortals to be enslaved by Alduin as his compulsion to trade in knowledge would be severely curtailed.”

“I have seen the dragon skeletons surrounding his temple. Surely with this Shout, Miraak could enslave any dragons that attacked him?”

“Every time you use a Shout, you must wait before using another. The length of a pause is dependent on many factors. The Shout in question has a considerable delay associated with it. Without troops to keep the Dov occupied, Miraak would quickly perish as he waited for his chance to use the Shout again. I also doubt the Shout would work against Alduin, as he might have the form of a dragon but is something else.”

“If you do not want to use the Shout, how will you defeat Miraak?”

“I know the Shout as it was taught to me by Lady Kynareth or Kyne if you prefer. I don’t need to use that Shout to defeat Miraak in combat. I need to get close to him. I will figure out how to do that first and the rest when he is in front of me.”

“That seems a rather thin plan to stake your life upon.”

“I risk more than my life, Master Neloth. I have the soul of a dragon. Therefore, if Miraak killed me, he would absorb my soul, and I would cease to exist from that point in this kalpa and any future kalpa. However, I am confident. If I can’t formulate and execute plans rapidly, I will not live long.”

“Well, that is an incentive to be creative. To Nchardak, then. Follow me!”

Neloth floated down, and I soon joined him.

We then exited and ran past Talvas.

Neloth warned, “If you are summoning things you can’t control, Torval, I will not rescue you.”

Neloth ran with minimal regard for dangers in his path. He proved to be quite fluent in Dunmeri swear words when a Bull Netch attacked him.

We rescued him and received no thanks. Inigo line Neloth up with his bow and growled. He looked at me and I shook my head. He grinned and we continued to follow the wizard.

I searched Nchardak on the shore opposite it with Zoom Vision and Heat Vision.

I then eliminated a few reavers with Fireballs.

  • Neloth: Do you enjoy randomly throwing balls of fire at Dwemer ruins? It is a waste of effort as the Dwemer knew how to build for the ages. Those towers have outlasted their creators by millennia.
  • Wulf: The place is infested with reavers. I just roasted a few.
  • Neloth: How can you tell from here?
  • Wulf: I have the eyesight of a dragon.
  • Neloth: Fascinating! Can I…
  • Shiva: If you suggest experimenting on Wulf, I shall be forced to punch you in the nose.
  • Dhali: We would stand in line, waiting for our turn to punch you in the nose.
  • Neloth: Oh. Well, the book is housed inside that dome. I’ll need to unlock the door for us. Let’s get on with it.
  • Wulf: Have they used Tonal Locks?
  • Neloth: I should have known you would have visited your share of Dwemer ruins. No, in Nchardak, they use Control Cubes. You will see what I mean.
  • Dhali: I advise you to stay behind us while eliminating the reavers.
  • Neloth: Hmm. This place was deserted when I was here last.
  • Dhali: Solstheim is riddled with reavers. I don’t think there are enough Redoran Guards to control them.
  • Neloth: Blame that on Morrowind politics. If the mine reopened, the Councillor could ask for more Redoran Guards to be assigned to Solstheim.
  • Wulf: We might investigate the closure of that mine. There is something suspicious about it.
  • Neloth: Ahh, you, too, wonder why The Empire abandoned such profits. After all, miners are an expendable commodity!
  • P’Sua: You are getting closer to a bloody nose with every sentence, Master Neloth.

We quickly eliminated the remaining reavers.

  • Neloth: Maybe now we can finally begin what we came here for.
  • Shiva: I think you meant to say, ‘Thank you for killing the reavers.’
  • Neloth: I don’t praise people for doing their duties efficiently. It is an expected outcome that should require no encouragement.
  • Dhali: Now I know why the reavers yelled, ‘Kill the Telvanni bastard!’
  • Inigo: I didn’t hear them say that.
  • Dhali: Maybe not, but I am sure they thought it.
  • Inigo: True.
  • Neloth: The Dwemer of Nchardak were fond of control pedestals. Luckily, on my last visit, I found a Control Cube to operate them. I sealed the door when I left to keep out ignorant meddlers. Let me unlock it. The book is just inside.
  • Wulf: I have an Attunement Sphere with me in case they use those.
  • Inigo: Is that what we used to enter Blackreach?
  • Wulf: Yes.
  • Dhali: I would like to visit Blackreach.
  • Wulf: Why not? Apart from the odd dragon and thousands of Falmer, it is a pleasant place to visit.
  • Neloth: You have been to Blackreach?
  • Wulf: Yes. Mainly to obtain an Elder Scroll for me to read but also to transcribe it onto a Dwemer Lexicon for Hermaeus Mora.
  • Neloth: You have read an Elder Scroll and are not blind?
  • Wulf: I needed to read it to go back in time and learn how to defeat Alduin. The Elder Scroll opened a conduit for me to do that.
  • Neloth: You told me you were not cooperating with Hermaeus Mora.
  • Wulf: I didn’t know I was aiding him at the time.
  • Neloth: And there is a machine to transcribe Elder Scrolls?
  • Wulf: As you said before, Dwemer specialised in forbidden knowledge.
  • Neloth: You went back in time?
  • Wulf: My consciousness did. Alduin was there, and he would not have appreciated a Dragonborn popping out of the ether. My soul is that of a dragon which makes me sensitive to the flow of time. Using the Elder Scroll within a Time Wound, I observed the Ancient Tongues battle Alduin.
  • Neloth: I hope you have been writing down your observations for future historians!
  • Wulf: For years, I have been keeping a daily journal.
  • Neloth: Good. When you finally die a horrible death on one of these adventures, we shall at least have a record of previous ones and know not to replicate your last.
  • Wulf: You don’t have many friends, do you?
  • Neloth: Superfluous.

Neloth removed a large Control Cube from under his robes and approached the pedestal.

Inigo looked puzzled, so Khao explained, “Master Neloth’s robes are four-dimensional, like Wulf’s Journal Case.”

When Neloth placed the Control Cube on the pedestal, a red light showed it had been accepted, and then the gate blocking the entrance slid aside.

Neloth picked up the cube, and then we made our way inside.

On the floor was a cylindrical vault containing the Black Book.

Four Dwemer lenses surrounded the vault.

When uncovered, a button would open the vault.

  • Neloth: You can see the book right there. So tantalisingly close… But trust me, no magic will open that. I’d have had the book already if it could. No, we’ll have to do this the hard way. If we can restore the steam supply to this room, I can open it. As you’ll see, that’s easier said than done.
  • Wulf: Can you feel and hear the pulses emanating from the Black Book?
  • Neloth: No, but my research indicated those who have read one are then attuned to them.
  • Wulf: I have found the same with Word Walls.
  • Shiva: Wouldn’t that be maddening for any Dwemer who had read one?
  • Wulf: Yes, but it served them right!
  • Shiva: There are four lenses on the floor.
  • Wulf: I assume light must shine upon all four lenses to unlock the vault. It will have to be of a particular frequency.
  • Shiva: Restoring the steam supply will drive the machinery to make that light. Then the cover on the button will open. Pushing the button will open the vault.
  • Neloth: That is an intelligent deduction.
  • Inigo: Sometimes, she even puts her underwear on the right way around.
  • Shiva: I am brighter than any blue Khajiit!
  • Neloth: That is abundantly apparent. Come, the boilers are this way.

Shiva looked at Inigo and gave him a wonderfully childish raspberry.

Neloth used the Control Cube to open some more gates and unlock doors which swung open. That gave us access to a Dwemer Lift.

The lift took us deep underground.

We raced ahead of Neloth to deal with several Dwemer automatons.

Neloth caught up to us.

He said, “The last time I was here, I only explored a small part of the ruins. I was here alone then, and I find assistants essential for this dirty, dangerous work.

“Master Neloth, we are here to aid the people of Nirn, and you are assisting us. Don’t confuse the roles being played.”

“Pedantic, aren’t you? Nchardak was called The City of a Hundred Towers. It was the largest of the great Dwemer Archives and perhaps the most advanced. In the old stories, when the Nords came to conquer it, the Dwemer submerged the entire city beneath the sea until the invaders gave up. I have my doubts. But the city was a marvel of Dwemer engineering. Now reduced to this.”

Inigo quipped, “The Dwemer probably threw soap into the water to deter the Nords even further!”

Neloth continued, “Was that humour? A waste of time if you ask me. As you can see, most of the city’s lower levels are flooded. But it isn’t hopeless – the old Dwemer pumps still seem to work. Watch.”

Neloth placed the Control Cube on one of the pedestals.

Hidden pumps could be heard, and the water level dropped. As boilers emerged, their insides started to glow.

I said, “The four boilers have control pedestals. I assume that each one requires a Control Cube to open valves and start the pumps. The pumps force steam into the room with the Black Book. Steam is used to operate machinery that produces light beams of a certain frequency. Four beams of light strike the four lenses on the ground, removing the button’s cover. Pushing the button opens the vault containing the Black Book.”

“Correct, so we need four more Control Cubes. Bring this cube. We may need it.”

I removed the Control Cube from the pedestal, and the water rose to its previous level.

We then followed Neloth to a machine that I could not decipher. Luckily, he could.

He explained, “Yes… here we are. This device shows the location of four more cubes in this city section. It looks like most of the cubes were moved to the lower levels, perhaps to control the flooding before the city was abandoned. Interesting. That would suggest that the city must have originally sunk during the first cataclysm of Red Mountain. Or that the Dwemer’s servitors continued to try to preserve the city after their creators’ disappearance.”

We walked to a door protected by a closed gate.

Neloth said, “Three of the cubes are through here, so this seems like a sensible place to start. You should be able to unseal this door with the Control Cube I gave you.”

I placed the cube on the pedestal, which unlocked the door.

(The rest of our trip through Nchardak involved finding cubes and killing automatons. Like all Dwemer ruins, I found Nchardak to be monotonous and mind-numbing. There is no need to describe it in detail.)

Neloth quickly learnt to shut up and let us solve puzzles and figure out what to do next. Despite his age, he had a fraction of our experience traversing ancient ruins. History shows him hiring people to do such things.

We eventually returned to the water pump with the required number of cubes.

Neloth placed a Control Cube onto a pedestal to lower the water and allow access to the four boilers.

After enabling the four boilers with the other four Control Cubes, a bridge lowered, and a Dwemer Centurion attacked.

We quickly dispensed with the Centurion and another automaton that attacked.

We then used the Dwemer Lift, which took us to the room with the Black Book.

The button was exposed, but no light beams were hitting the lenses.

Inigo gloated, “Aha, I knew Shiva would get it wrong!”

Neloth replied, “She merely got the sequence wrong. You, on the other hand, would not have deduced a single step of the sequence.”

“I knew we had to push that button!”

“A drunk Skeever could have deduced that.”

Shiva laughed and gave Inigo another perfect raspberry.

I pushed the button, and light beams hit the lenses.

The receptacle containing the Black Book opened, and the floor of the receptacle rose.

The machinery stopped, and the Black Book sat pulsing upon a pedestal.

  • Shiva: See, I was right about the light!
  • Wulf: And you are a poet but didn’t know it.
  • Inigo: Please don’t try and rhyme all the time.
  • Neloth: If you don’t mind, some things need doing!
  • Wulf: Master Neloth, be my guest. Go ahead and read the book if you are in such a hurry.
  • Neloth: Um… Please… be my guest. You deserve the first look. Besides, it could be perilous. These books are known to drive many people insane.
  • Wulf: Not everybody believes madness to be a curse. For some, it is the greatest of blessings: bitter mercy perhaps, but mercy non the less.
  • Neloth: That is good. Did you make that up?
  • Wulf: No, Sheogorath did when he was still a mortal. He liked it when I quoted it back to him. I mean the new Uncle Sheo, not the old one who is now Jygallag.
  • Neloth: You spoke to Sheogorath?
  • Wulf: Yes, when I was inside the head of a dead emperor.
  • Dhali: The General has read a Black Book and talked to Sheogorath yet remains completely sane.
  • Wulf: ALBATROSS!
  • Dhali: Well, mostly sane.

I read the Black Book, and tentacles dragged me into Apocrypha.

Hermaeus Mora appeared, and much bullshit was spoken.

The Dark Lord drawled, “I know you, Champion. As I told you when I gave you the Oghma Infinium, your free will is an illusion. Why else would you be here?”

“I used my free will to place the Oghma Infinium where you can’t see it. I did so without reading it. As I told you then, I will not serve you. You had no idea I would come here.”

“This is Apocrypha, where all knowledge is hoarded.”

“Then why do you constantly bargain with mortals to obtain more knowledge?”

“Sate your thirst for knowledge in the endless stacks of my library.”

“I am not interested in random knowledge. Do you not know why I am here?”

“If you tire of your search, reread your book to return to your mortal life for a time. The lure of Apocrypha will call you back. It is your fate.”

“There is no such thing as fate, and Apocrypha will not lure me.”

Hermaeus Mora vanished.

(As with our trip through Nchardak, I will not bore those reading this journal with a description of my monotonous journey through Apocrypha. It was a tedious maze full of simple puzzles and weak minions. The maze would change for each read of a Black Book, so any description would not provide clues to others who traverse it.)

I eventually reached a Black Book at the end of the maze and opened it.

Hermaeus Mora then made another unwanted appearance.

In his gurgling drawl, Mora said, “You seek the forbidden knowledge that only one other has obtained.”

“I am looking for Miraak, not searching for forbidden knowledge.”

“You are Dragonborn, and like Miraak, you seek knowledge and power.”

“I seek knowledge for the betterment and defence of others. As I believe Miraak did before falling for your falsehoods.”

“All that Miraak knows he learned from me.”

“And that is why I am so much stronger than he is. All Miraak learned from you was how to lose against Vahlok.”

“You will not defeat him without my help.”

“You can’t defeat him and need my help.”

“Miraak had served me long and well. But he grows restless under my guidance. His desire to return to your world will spread my influence more widely. But it will also set him free from my direct control. It may be time to replace him with a more loyal servant. One who still appreciates the gifts I have to offer.”

“I could have killed Miraak the first time I met him. I have given him time to use his free will and decide his future. He is not subject to a predetermined fate! He rejected you long ago and has not served you at all. Not once has he acted as your servant within the mortal plane. The Greybeards, Lord Akatosh or Lady Kynareth would have known if he had. You panicked when Alduin returned because you feared this kalpa would end or he would enslave all mortals. You freed Miraak from stasis because you hoped he would defeat Alduin and did not know I existed. You did not know Miraak would once again prove rebellious. Is my summation accurate, Lord Mora?”

Mora remained silent. I am not adept at reading the body language of a multi-tentacled, multi-eyed avatar of a Daedric Prince. However, I am positive the Dark Lord was surprised by the accuracy of my summation.

I continued, “Lord Mora, I will never serve you. Yet, you need me to stop Miraak because you can’t.”

“You will serve me, willing or not. All who seek after the secrets of the world are my servants.”

“I need to find a way to reach Miraak. I can do that without your help!”

“No, look around. You have done nothing here on your own. You could spend a hundred lifetimes searching my library and never find what you seek!”

“I can leave whenever I wish and ask my gods for assistance.”

“Why go through that effort? I know what you want. You desire to use your power as Dragonborn to bend the world to your will. Here is the knowledge you need, although you did not know you needed it. I gift you the second Word of Power. Use it to bend the wills of mortals to your purpose.”

The second Word of the Bend Will Shout is Hah, which means ‘mind.’ The Power Word appeared before Hermaeus Mora, then faded after I read it. Mora then tried to gift me the knowledge to use it. He did not realise I already knew the Word and Shout.

I decided to lie to the liar.

I grovelled, “Lord Mora, you are right, and I need your help. I thank you for that gift of knowledge.”

“It is not enough. Miraak knows the final Word of Power. Without that, you cannot hope to surpass him. Miraak served me well, and he was rewarded. I can grant you the same power he wields, but all knowledge has its price.”

“What is the price?”

“Knowledge in exchange for knowledge. The Skaal have withheld their secrets from me for many long years. The time has come for this knowledge to be added to my library.”

“That knowledge is not mine to give.”

“My servant Miraak would have found a way to bring me what I want. You will as well if you wish to surpass him.”

“Why do you think I need the third Word of Power?”

“Even dragons submit to Miraak’s Voice. Without that power, you cannot face him. Says I, Hermaeus Mora, master of the tides of Fate.”

I suddenly realised what a fool I had been. The path to Miraak was obvious.


Even within Apocrypha, my Thu’um echoed with its power.


“I am not surprised you do not know what that means. You know nothing about me. Nor have you aided me in my endeavours. If you knew who my parents were, you would realise the futility of your lies and false claims.”

Hermaeus Mora faded from sight without another word.

I could choose one of three choices of knowledge. Any of the choices would strengthen my Thu’um in some way.

I said aloud, “Once again, I reject the knowledge you offer. Lady Kynareth and dragon allies provided me with superior knowledge. Even if they had not done so, I would not accept your knowledge, Lord Mora.”

I opened my copy of the Black Book and returned to Nchardak.

I approached Neloth.

  • Neloth: What happened? What did you see? Different people have very different experiences when reading these books.
  • Wulf: Miraak did not appear, but I talked with Hermaeus Mora.
  • Neloth: What did he have to say? He must have wanted something from you.
  • Wulf: He wants something like every other Daedric Prince with whom I have dealt.
  • Inigo: My friend, did Lady Azura ask you for something?
  • Wulf: She wanted me to rescue her daughter and Nirn.
  • Neloth: Azura has a daughter?
  • Wulf: Yes, a celestial daughter who is annoying and whiny!
  • Dhali: And she can kick men in the wedding tackle when they go too far!
  • Neloth: Wedding tackle?
  • Dhali: Just a name for male genitals that I learnt from an idiot.
  • Neloth: You people are….
  • Inigo: Weird?
  • Neloth: Yes, that is an apt description.
  • Shiva: The blue Khajiit who speaks to dragonflies is commenting on weird again.
  • Inigo: A dragonfly. Mr Dragonfly, to be precise.
  • Wulf: I think I made Mora very angry again.
  • Dhali: I advised you against aggravating him while in Apocrypha.
  • Wulf: I pretended to be a power-hungry megalomaniac and was grateful for the second Word of Power he gifted me.
  • Khao: He would only have dealt with such mortals in the past.
  • Wulf: Correct. He deals with mortals like necromancers who want to be a Lich, mages seeking the secrets of Dawn Magic and Telvanni Wizards looking for their compassion.
  • Neloth: I don’t do friends, and I don’t do humour.
  • Inigo: Obviously.
  • Wulf: Mora wanted to exchange the third Word of Power of the Bend Will Shout for the Skaal’s secret knowledge.
  • P’Sua: Please remind me. What do the second and third Words of Power let you do?
  • Wulf: The second Word lets me enslave mortals. The third Word lets me enslave Dov.
  • Dhali: Master Neloth, dragons already ally with Wulf. He does not have to enslave them.
  • Wulf: Hermaeus Mora cannot conceive of such things. Remember, he regards me as a power-hungry Dragonborn trying to usurp Miraak. The tentacled turd continues to think I will be his servant.
  • Neloth: Mora wants you to be Miraak’s replacement?
  • Wulf: Yes. He is almost as bad as Meridia, disregarding mortal morality and free will. He has previously asked me to murder another of his assistants and be his champion.
  • Neloth: Hmph. What secrets could the Skaal have worth keeping from old Mora? It sounds like a bargain to me. Hermaeus Mora learns fascinating new ways to skin a horker, and you become the second most powerful Dragonborn ever.
  • Wulf: For a learned mortal, you say some stupid things! I am already more powerful than Miraak. I know dozens more Shouts and Words of Power than him! Maybe Wulfarth was more powerful than me in the Thu’um, but who knows, for I have never faced him. If I used the Bend Will Shout, I would become less than I am, not more powerful.
  • Khao: The Skaal can manipulate the magic of All-Maker Stones and have thousands of years of oral history. I am sure they can offer Mora more knowledge than you possess, Master Neloth.
  • Neloth: Perhaps. Well, that gives me a lot to think about. I need to get back to Tel Mithryn. I have some ideas about how to locate more of these Black Books.

When we exited Nchardak, a dragon greeted us.

  • Krosulhah: Miraak has commanded your death. So, it shall be.
  • Neloth: By Malacath’s toenails, where did that come from?
  • Wulf: When I visited him, I couldn’t tell if Malacath needed the services of a good pedicurist. He was wearing boots.
  • Neloth: Are there any Dark Lords you have not visited?
  • Wulf: A few. I want to talk to our scaly visitor if you don’t mind.
  • Neloth: Hmph!
  • Wulf: Wo los hi? (Who are you?)
  • Krosulhah: Krosulhah.
  • Wulf: Do you attack me out of choice or enslavement, Krosulhah?
  • Krosulhah: Miraak has commanded your death. So, it shall be.
  • Wulf: We defeated Alduin. Do you think you stand a chance against my Thu’um?
  • Krosulhah: I must try.
  • Wulf: No, you don’t. It is a matter of will. Fight the dweomer and reject Miraak’s command!
  • Krosulhah: I… I cannot. When Miraak returns, all will bow before him!

Krosulhah stopped hovering and swooped to attack. I hit him with Dragonrend.

Krosulhah crashed to the ground and said, “Bein Rotmalaag! What foul Words are these?”

“Alduin asked the same question.”

“No Dovah would stoop to such vile tahrovin!”

“I have replaced Alduin as the most powerful of the Dov. The only tahrovin, treason, is yours. How dare you attack your rightful Overlord! You should bow before my Thu’um!”

I was appealing to the base nature of Krosulhah. I hoped to give him the nudge he needed to break Miraak’s hold over him. Alas, my ploy failed, and he lunged for me.

I knocked Krosulhah’s snout aside with my shield, then leapt upon his head.

It was a familiar story. Krosulhah tried to shake me free, but I soon gained enough balance to plunge my sword into his brain.

I leapt off the dying dragon and prepared to absorb his soul.

A shadow of Miraak appeared and said, “This dragon’s soul belongs to me!”

“You are welcome to it.”

“I grow ever stronger, Dragonborn.”

“I have over a dozen dragon souls I am yet to use. You know from our previous meeting that you have a fraction of my strength in Thu’um and Magicka.”

Miraak stared at me.

I continued, “I know where you are, Miraak. I will read Waking Dreams and appear in your part of Apocrypha. Then we shall talk once more.”

Miraak’s shadow faded after absorbing the soul. Neloth didn’t say a word before running towards Tel Mithryn.

I was visibly upset.

  • Dhali: Wulf, you tried. You had no choice but to kill Krosulhah.
  • Inigo: We understand why you did the whole ‘Overlord’ act.
  • Wulf: I know I am not dealing with evil with Mora. It is just his nature. But still, I feel unclean dealing with him at all. Miraak feels compelled to do what he does to escape the Dark Lord’s prison.
  • Dhali: It can be no worse than dealing with Boethia.
  • Wulf: It is different. Boethia takes on the form of a mortal as it reflects her personality. Hermaeus Mora takes on the form of a hideous monstrosity because that reflects his personality. Disgusting. Repugnant. Terrible. Greedy.
  • Shiva: Neloth ran back home after your confrontation with Krosulhah and Miraak.
  • Khao: Did Mora tell you how to reach Miraak?
  • Wulf: No, it just came to me. The answer was evident, and I was too stupid to see it.
  • Dhali: Repeat after me, ‘I, Valdr Septim, are not omnipotent and cannot logically be expected to see the seemingly obvious on every occasion.’
  • Wulf: I think we shall go to Aurane for a feed, a bath, and a sleep. Tomorrow we shall visit Storn and tell him what is happening.
  • Dhali: And then?
  • Wulf: And then I return to Apocrypha to tinvaak with Miraak.

We teleported into Aurane. As the others left to bathe before heading to the inn for supper, I summoned Vayu.

He said, “There is nothing much to report. Aedriath is pushing his troops hard. We shall wait until he almost reaches Whiterun before destroying his trebuchet and catapults. Tomorrow we shall kill a few officers to help with New Order morale.”

“How is Rigmor?”

“Celestine says she is healthy, apart from some tummy cramps.”

“I revisited Apocrypha and had a pleasant talk with the Tentacled Turd.”

“Somehow, Wulf, I doubt you and Mora could ever have a pleasant talk.”

“I realised where Miraak must be. He will be where I first met him. Therefore, I shall return to that part of Apocrypha and figure out how to reach him. Undoubtedly that will involve another mindlessly boring maze.”

“I have heard Apocrypha is like that. Shifting corridors and so on.”

“Well, they aren’t mazes. Just a single path with simple puzzles that need solving. I don’t get the concept. If Mora wants to bargain for knowledge, why risk a potential devotee’s life with such trivial bullshit?”

“Don’t strain yourself trying to figure out the whims of a Daedric Prince. You know they act on impulse, and although their main interests may be apparent, their subconscious thought processes must be foreign to us.”

“Don’t you shamans take hallucinogens in an endeavour to understand the whims of the gods?”

“If I have ever had such insight, it was lost when I returned to normality.”

“So why take the risk?”

“Because I feel like I have learnt something profane, even if I can’t remember what it was.”

“And people call me weird.”

“You met High Priestess Akamizu. Do I seem weird compared to her?”

“Not at all. I can summon Akamizu if you ever want to speak to her.”

“I just have to chew on the correct mushrooms to do that.”

“Okay, I will bathe and then eat supper with the children. I will enter Apocrypha tomorrow morning from within the Skaal village.”

Vayu vanished. I bathed and then ate supper with the children. I slept for a few hours, even though my mind was racing. I could have done with Our Quiet to soothe my worries. I was tempted to find and visit Rigmor, but she needed to find herself without me.

After breakfast, we gathered in my quarters.

Then we teleported to the Skaal Village.

Two villagers were having a discussion. One of them seemed very upset.

  • Fanari: Don’t worry yourself, Deor. Do you want a head full of grey hairs before you’ve seen forty winters?
  • Deor: Something isn’t right, Fanari. I feel it in my bones and smell it in the air. Baldor wouldn’t leave without telling someone.
  • Fanari: Deor, you must be calm. I’m sure there’s a good reason Baldor left us.
  • Deor: It makes my heart heavy that you don’t believe me, Fanari. Baldor could be in danger, and you will do nothing. If you don’t help me, I’ll ask The All-Maker to send someone else who will.

Fanari was the leader of the Skaal and wife of Tharstan, the Imperial Historian we recently released from Miraak’s dweomer. She walked away, unwilling to aid Deor, which put him in a foul mood.

We approached Deor.

  • Deor: I am in no mood to talk to outsiders. One of the Skaal has gone missing.
  • Wulf: We are not outsiders but Skaal-Friends!
  • Deor: My apologies. I am concerned about our only smith, Baldor Iron-Shaper. He is vital to our village and a good friend.
  • Dhali: Did anything unusual happen around the time of his disappearance?
  • Deor: Hm, I do not remember Baldor acting strangely. Although now that you ask, I saw something in the woods when he disappeared. I saw two elves in the far distance, dragging something behind them. Hunters often visit our lands, so I thought little of it.
  • Dhali: Were they Dunmer?
  • Deor: No. Even from a distance, I could tell that the elves had skin yellow in hue. They were also quite tall.
  • Wulf: Do you know where they were headed?
  • Deor: Yes, they were heading south and west. If your road takes you that way, perhaps you could search for any sign of Baldor. The Skaal would be grateful.
  • Wulf: Are there any buildings out that way?
  • Deor: There is an abandoned hunting lodge. The hunters living there were killed by reavers long ago.
  • Wulf: Can you mark it on my map?
  • Deor: Yes, hand it over.

I gave Deor my map, and he duly marked the location of the hunting lodge.

  • Dhali: Do you think Baldor has been abducted?
  • Deor: Yes. Baldor is the keeper of an ancient tradition, the forging of Stalhrim. It is an art we Skaal hold sacred. If someone wanted to make such weapons, they would have to get that knowledge from Baldor.
  • Rigmor: Wulf, do you think Thalmor abducted Baldor?
  • Wulf: That is a possibility, but too much is unknown.
  • Khao: Talk about a political shitstorm if there are Thalmor on Solstheim!
  • Inigo: Shitstorm? Is that another Wulf colloquialism?
  • Khao: No, it is a Bosmer saying Celestine often uses.
  • Shiva: Does Miraak have an accent?
  • Wulf: Random question! Yes, he sounds like the Ancient Tongues. He has an Atmoran accent but doesn’t speak the archaic way the Tongues did.
  • Dhali: Let’s speak to Shaman Storn and deal with Miraak. The quicker we do that, the quicker we can look for Baldor.
  • Wulf: Deor, we shall search for your friend soon. However, there is a danger to all on Solstheim that we must attend to as a priority.
  • Deor: I understand. All Maker bless you, Skaal Friends.

We approached Storn. He was kneeling in prayer, and we waited for him to acknowledge us.

  • Storn: Skaal Friends, do you have news?
  • Wulf: Yes, Shaman. I have spoken to Herma Mora. To aid me, he has asked for the secrets of the Skaal in return. I told him they were not mine to give.
  • Storn: We have many tales of Herma-Mora trying to trick us into giving up our secrets to him. And now he comes again for what we have long kept from him.
  • Wulf: What secrets does he crave?
  • Storn: Ancient lore, handed down from Shaman to Shaman since The All-Maker first gave Solstheim to the Skaal. Such as how to talk to the wind, listen to the earth, etc. These are our secrets. There is nothing of power or mastery.
  • Wulf: Mora collects knowledge for the sake of ownership and nothing more. The subject matter is not relevant.
  • Storn: You are correct. It is in his nature to hoard secrets to himself. Their value to him is of no consequence. The fact that we kept knowledge from him has increased his desire to have it.
  • Wulf: Mora thinks I want the knowledge he will give me in return.
  • Storn: So, it falls to me to be the one to give up the secrets to our ancient enemy. I do not know if I have the strength to face him. The Tree Stone is still corrupted… the land is still out of balance. But with the others restored… it may be enough. It will have to be.
  • Wulf: That is brave and honourable of you, Shaman, but it won’t be necessary. Mora was wrong, and I do not want or need his knowledge, for one of our gods already provided it.
  • Storn: I don’t have to surrender our secrets?
  • Wulf: No, you don’t. I tell you this tale as a lesson in how Adversaries work. They lie and claim abilities they do not have. I have denied them in their realms of Oblivion. Mortals should not fear defying them on Nirn.
  • Storn: That is a lesson that most ignore.
  • Dhali: People are afraid of the Daedric Princes because, in the distant past, they could harm mortals on Nirn.
  • Wulf: Now mortals are safe due to The Liminal Barrier.
  • Storn: Will you confront Miraak and kill him?
  • Wulf: I will only kill him if necessary. I prefer to make him an ally.
  • Storn: You would forgive his sins?
  • Wulf: His greatest sins were directed at me. He did not harm the people he enslaved.
  • Dhali: Wulf often offers a chance at redemption.
  • Inigo: As he did for this wayward blue Khajiiti.
  • Storn: May darkness never touch you.
  • Wulf: Blessings of The Nine, Shaman.

I turned to Inigo.

He said, “My friend if Miraak kills you, he will absorb your soul. We will never see you again, and you will be lost to us for all eternity. I can’t speak for the others, but I prefer you attack Miraak and destroy him. However, I know you won’t, no matter the danger.”

“I would not be the Wulf that you know if I did not trust my instinct. I must give Miraak a chance!”

“Yes, and that is why, my friend, I will not try and change your mind.”

“Creepy tentacles time!”

I opened Waking Dreams and was transported to the same part of Apocrypha where I first encountered Miraak.

I looked to the top of a distant tower. I thought that might be where Miraak waited. Three Dov circled the tower. All of them were serpent breed, and I assumed one was Sahrotaar.

I walked towards the tower and found a book on a pedestal.

It was designed to teleport me to another part of Miraak’s pocket plane. I touched it.

I was instantly transported to another area.

I killed several minions.

Then I found another book.

This one was called Boneless Limbs. Its entire content consisted of a single quatrain.

  1. A writhing mass of heaped appendages
  2. Slipping grasp the squirming slick
  3. Extend the reach to touch the face
  4. Burn the mind, reveal the quick

I placed the book in my journal case.

I spent several hours using teleport books, killing minions and collecting three other books containing quatrains. It is arguable what is more tedious between Dwemer ruins and Apocrypha.

I found Delving Pincers.

  • Crushing razors, hollow shells
  • That snap, that twitch that cinch and rend
  • To hold the subject bodily,
  • ‘Til mind blows soft, and life meets an end

Then Prying Orbs.

  • What takes the world in a lightened sense
  • Can also seek the outward gleam
  • They rob the all of essence to
  • Report the nothing they have seen

The final book was Gnashing Blades.

  • Bone extrusions gash and grind
  • In moistened depths of smacking heat
  • While tearing flesh from adverse bone
  • The body whole prepares to eat

I found the purpose of the four books in a circular room.

I had to kill several Seekers before I could study the room in detail.

Six walkways met at a central hub. At the end of four of the walkways were empty pedestals. Each pedestal displayed a glowing, stylised symbol of one of Hermaeus Mora’s body parts. An empty pedestal was in the centre.

The first pedestal was meant for Gnashing Blades.

I placed Gnashing Blade on the pedestal and moved to the next. I placed Prying Orbs on that one.

The third pedestal required Boneless Limbs.

The fourth pedestal was for Delving Pincers.

As soon as I placed the last book, all five pedestals glowed green.

A teleportation book now rested on the central pedestal.

Touching that book teleported me to the top of the tower.

Miraak was not there. However, two Seekers guarded a Word Wall.

I quickly disposed of them.

Logic told me the Word Wall would try to teach me Dov, the third Word of Power of Bend Will.

There were other towers across the inky black sea. It seems one more obstacle lay between me and Miraak. I did not know which tower Miraak occupied. I did not know how to cross the deadly liquid.

I approached the Word Wall, and as predicted, it tried to teach me the Power Word Dov, which means dragon.

There was no inscription on the Word Wall, just moving glyphs and random words in Dovahzul.

Sahrotaar appeared and hovered over me.

“Drem Yol Lok. Greetings, Sahrotaar. Have you come to tinvaak or to die?”

“Hail, thuri. I have come to take you to Miraak. Only if you defeat him will I and my brethren be free again.”

“You call me overlord, so I assume this offer contradicts Miraak’s commands?”

“Miraak knows you are in his realm and expects you will slowly find your way to him. I decided to hurry the process. Therefore, if you are brave, Dovahkiin, I can fly you to Miraak.”

“I assume Miraak is atop one of the other towers.”


“Then land, Sahrotaar, and we will surprise Miraak. And do not fret, for I have ridden on the backs of my brothers and sister many times.”

“Sister? You have ridden a Jill?”

“Yes, her name is Silah. Bormahu sent her to aid me. We have become firm friends.”

“Bormahu aids you, so that is another reason I should do so.”

Sahrotaar landed, and I climbed aboard.

Sahrotaar lifted from the tower with mighty flaps of his enormous wings.

As we flew towards the another tower, we talked.

“Can you remember your original name? Sahrotaar is an insult. You are more than a mighty enslaved person!”

“Alas, Miraak commanded me to forget my name. But Sahrotaar is what I have become, and I am content with it now.”

“Does Miraak speak Dovahzul?”

“Yes, but rarely. Miraak rejected all that makes him Dovahkiin except for the power it gives him.”

“If he remained true to our father, he would be far more powerful than he is.”

“When he boasted that he could have defeated Alduin, he lied. He hid in Apocrypha like the coward he is.”

“I think he was prepared to fight Alduin on his terms. I don’t think Miraak is a coward.”

“I would not know. Miraak spoke to you for longer than he has ever spoken to me.”

“I see two Dov circling the tower. Who are they?”

“Miraak enslaves them. One is called Kruziikrel. The other is Relonikiv.

We arrived at the tower. Sahrotaar hovered low, and I leapt off.

Miraak called out, “Sahrotaar, are you so easily swayed?”

Sahrotaar perched on an arch. The other two dragons continued to circle overhead.

I walked towards Miraak and stopped two steps away. My weapons remained sheathed as I did not want him to think I would attack.

Miraak said, “And the First Dragonborn meets the Last Dragonborn at the summit of Apocrypha. No doubt, just as Hermaeus Mora intended. He is a fickle master, you know. But now I will be free of him. My time in Apocrypha is over. You are here in your full power and thus subject to my full power. You will die. And with the power of your soul, I will return to Solstheim and be master of my fate once again. Kruziikrel! Relonikiv! Now!”

The dragons did not attack me.

“Miraak, the dragons have used their free will to neutralise your dweomer. They recognise the superiority of my Thu’um.”

“This is the only way, Dragonborn. The only way I can be free.”

“You know that is not true, Miraak. Hermaeus Mora is relying on me to kill you as he cannot. He has no power over you. I believe you are a good person led astray. Therefore, I offer you redemption. Help me fight the chaos.”

“No, this is a trick!”

Miraak leapt back and cast a spell. It did not harm me.

I contemplated casting Lightning back at him, but that may have injured him.

Instead, I hit Miraak with Unrelenting Force. I only used two Words of Power as I did not want him to fall off the tower’s edge.

Miraak flew through the air, landed, and rolled. He tried to stand but could not.

I slowly walked towards him with my weapons still sheathed.

I could have slain Miraak. Instead, I spoke to him.

“It is no trick, Miraak. My name is Valdr Septim. I am the son of two gods but am mortal as you are. However, I am not strictly Dragonborn but am a Dragonchild. I was born with Lord Akatosh’s blessings. Fight beside me, live and find redemption. Fight me and die. Your soul will be lost to this kalpa and all others that follow. You will cease to exist.”

“You would trust me, Valdr?”

“I can read souls. Yours has far less darkness within than other mortals I call friends. Lord Akatosh chose you for his blessings and must have seen good in you. So yes, I would trust you, Miraak.”

I cast Grand Healing, and Miraak slowly got to his feet.

I asked, “What is your decision, Miraak?”

“I am done with being Hermaeus Mora’s pawn. I will fight the chaos beside you, Valdr.”

“Call me Wulf. That is the name I use for now.”

Hermaeus Mora appeared as several smaller avatars.

Mora growled, “Did you think to escape from me, Miraak? You can hide nothing from me here!”

I replied, “Lord Mora, you needed me to defeat Miraak as you needed me to help open the Dwemer lockbox. You can do nothing to stop us from leaving Apocrypha. You have lost this battle.”

“You are a Septim?”

“I am the son of gods, Lord Mora and am the only mortal to be born with Lord Akatosh’s gifts. I am also a Ningheim.”

“Kill him, Miraak, and you will absorb his soul and become as powerful as he.”

Miraak replied, “Your lies and deceit are no match for our free will. I will return to Mundus and seek forgiveness from The Divines.”

Wave after wave of Seeker, Lurker and spirits attacked us.

The spirits were mortals who died in Apocrypha whilst pursuing knowledge.

The Voice roared from Miraak and I. Spells and sword killed as many as our Thu’um.

Miraak’s power combined with mine was devastating. We could destroy armies, so the weak minions stood no chance.

Miraak laughed then yelled, “Mora, our free will is in abundance and lays your lies bare!”

The final minion was a gigantic Lurker.

A single Shout killed it and turned it into a pile of dust.

Hermaeus Mora, in his Wretched Abyss form, made one last appearance.

“Dragonborn, as I warned you once before, many have thought as you do. I have broken them all. You can’t evade me forever.”

“You have no power in Mundus or the realms of other gods. Even within Apocrypha, you could not defeat Miraak and I am far more powerful than he. A lesser god like you cannot break my faith in The Nine.”

Mora vanished once more.

I walked over to Miraak.

“I have a plan on how you can return to Nirn. However, I don’t know if it would work or its safety.”

“You did not cleanse The Tree Stone, and the enslaved have continued its construction. I can use it to return to my temple. Not with the power I originally envisioned, but at least I will be away from this prison. Upon arrival, I will immediately remove my dweomer from The Tree Stone.”

“Then I shall meet you outside your temple.”

“Give me a couple of days. Many of my followers will turn hostile once they learn of my defection. I will cleanse those who disagree. Perhaps some will wish to join my journey of redemption.”

“What of the enslaved dragons?”

“They have overcome my commands via willpower. However, they will stay with me as that compulsion cannot be overcome. Therefore, they will return with me to Solstheim. In time, perhaps they and I will regard each other as equals. After all, we share a celestial father.”

“If they speak to Paarthurnax, he will help with the compulsion that cannot be overcome.”

“Farewell, for now, Wulf.”

Miraak vanished.

I opened my copy of Waking Dreams and was teleported to the Skaal village.

Inigo greeted me.

“My friend, you have returned!”

“Have I?”

“What happened?”

“Listen as I talk to Storn.”

The elderly Skaal waited for me to approach.

  • Storn: I can feel it. The Tree Stone is free again. The Oneness of the land is restored. Does that mean it is over? Is Miraak defeated?
  • Wulf: Miraak is defeated but not dead. He has returned to his temple. It is he who cleansed The Tree Stone.
  • Storn: You said you might let Miraak live.
  • Wulf: You believe that when you die, The All-Maker will send your soul back to Nirn, where, hopefully, you live a better life.
  • Storn: A brief outline of our religion, but that is what we believe.
  • Wulf: I believe that beings should be allowed to live better lives during their time on Nirn. Many people make wrong decisions that should not define their moral worth. Redemption allows them to atone for previous actions.
  • Dhali: Shaman, if our gods did not allow the chance for redemption, we would never have defeated Alduin. Paarthurnax, a mighty dragon, would not have aided mortals.
  • Inigo: As mentioned before, I seek redemption, and my friend is helping with that arduous and lengthy search.
  • Storn: I see the wisdom and will enter it into our histories for future shamans to learn and teach. I thank you all. Walk with the All-Maker, Skaal-friends.
  • Wulf: We go now to seek Baldor Iron-Shaper. Along with Deor, we believe he was kidnapped by people wanting to learn how to forge Stalhrim.
  • Storn: The Dunmer would not do such a thing.
  • Wulf: We believe it is a foreign power, but that is conjecture without proof.
  • Storn: Why hasn’t Fanari sent a search party?
  • Wulf: Ask her. It is not my place to speak her words or announce her motive. We will probably visit again in a few days. Till then, Blessings of The Nine on you and our friends, the Skaal.

There were still a few days before The New Order reached Whiterun. Therefore, I decided we would see what other help we could provide the people of Solstheim. Finding Baldor was the first task.

I said to my friends.

“We shall start our search from Raven Rock.”

We teleported to the jetty then headed for the abandoned hunter’s cabin.

8 thoughts on “Denying The Woodland Man

  1. You out did yourself! You spoil us with the twists and turns of your outcomes. I really like this outcome. Thank You Mark

  2. As usual, a worthy read. And the conclusion is a prize after the terrible ‘trips’ in Apocripha. I thought I disliked Neloth but in your pages is worth.
    May the Moons watch over your path!

  3. I enjoy reading these journals, I’m glad you fast forwarded through Nchardak, it is a little tedious. Every time someone what’s to describe something that is nauseous poor old Lydias apple cabbage stew is bought up, I laugh every time. Thank you Mark, your journals bring a little joy to my life.