Solstheim solutions

Sundas, 28th Hearthfire, 4E 201

to Tirdas, 30th Hearthfire, 4E 201

We teleported to Raven Rock’s docks.

As we walked through Raven Rock, we encountered Captain Veleth.

  • Wulf: Good evening, Captain Veleth. Can I have a quick word?
  • Veleth: Yes, of course.
  • Wulf: Every All-Maker Stone is free of the dweomer, and no residents of Solstheim remain ensorceled.
  • Veleth: I was told you were to face Miraak in combat. Was he a difficult opponent?
  • Wulf: We did not fight each other, Captain. On the contrary, Miraak fought beside me against dozens of Hermaeus Mora’s minions. After our victory, Miraak returned to Solstheim and removed his spell from the final All-Maker Stone. He planned to kill devotees who disobeyed his instructions and dabbled in dark magics. They are not ensorceled citizens, so do not concern yourself.
  • Veleth: Why did you let Miraak live and return to Solstheim?
  • Wulf: His intentions were not selfish thousands of years ago or in the present. Many people have fallen under Hermaeus Mora’s influence. However, Miraak refused to commit crimes for the Dark Lord and was placed in stasis by him. Miraak thought he needed to kill me to be powerful enough to combat the chaos of this world.
  • Veleth: How would killing you make him more powerful?
  • Wulf: He is a Dragonborn as am I. That means we have dragon souls. If he killed me, he would have absorbed my soul and thereby have access to some of my knowledge.
  • Veleth: You showed him an alternative.
  • Wulf: Yes. First, I showed him he was no match for me in combat. I then offered him the chance to fight by my side as I combat the chaos.
  • Veleth: Will Miraak leave Solstheim?
  • Wulf: If he wants to be one of my comrades, he must be with me in Skyrim.
  • Veleth: Our debt to you increases.
  • Wulf: No debt is owed. And don’t forget The Dragonguard, who are essential if I continue serving the people of Nirn.
  • Veleth: Councillor Morvayn told me of the problem in Cyrodiil and Skyrim. Are you leaving to fight The New Order now?
  • Wulf: No, the enemy forces are heading for Whiterun. It will take them a few days more to reach that city. Therefore, we thought we would see if we could help with other matters.
  • Veleth: Such as?
  • Wulf: Well, we want to look into the mine closure, but first, we will search for Baldor Iron-Shaper, the Skaal blacksmith. We think he has been kidnapped.
  • Veleth: By who and why?
  • Wulf: We have our suspicions on who did the kidnapping. However, until we have proof, I will not divulge who that may be.
  • Dhali: There are few people capable of forging Stalhrim, and we think the kidnappers want him to teach that skill to them.
  • Veleth: So, it is more than likely a foreign power.
  • Wulf: We think so. I will gather the evidence and present it to Councillor Morvayn.
  • Veleth: A foreign power kidnapping citizens is disturbing.
  • Wulf: Does the Morag Tong have an official presence on Solstheim?
  • Veleth: No! Councillor Morvayn insisted that they have no presence here. Why do you ask?
  • Wulf: We were attacked by Morag Tong without provocation or reason. We killed half a dozen sentries but did not enter the ruins they were guarding as I did not know their legal status.
  • Veleth: Where was this?
  • Wulf: Ashfallow Citadel.
  • Veleth: Did you search the corpses?
  • Wulf: Yes, and none of them carried a writ.
  • Veleth: The Morag Tong has no legal right to attack people unless they are trespassing in one of their sanctioned chapters. That building does not contain a sanctioned chapter.
  • Inigo: We were not trespassing but just walking by, and, as my friend said, we posed no danger to them.
  • Wulf: They were stupid to attack us. Now you know they have a presence on this island and where they are headquartered. If they had left us alone, they could have continued their clandestine activities undetected.
  • Veleth: I shall send some Redoran Guards to investigate. The Morag Tong would not dare attack them!
  • Wulf: I wouldn’t be so sure, Captain. They attacked us without provocation.
  • Veleth: Still, we must try. They are under no obligation to tell us if they have a writ. However, they can’t remain on this island in numbers. It is also rare for more than one assassin to be assigned to a writ.
  • Dhali: I assume that hiring Morag Tong is not cheap. Only two high-profile people in Solstheim might be expensive targets.
  • Veleth: Councillor Morvayn and Telvanni Wizard-Lord Neloth.
  • Wulf: Many have tried to kill Neloth over the centuries and paid dearly for it.
  • Veleth: Many of his Mouths have been silenced.
  • Inigo: Mouths?
  • Wulf: The politics in Morrowind can be pretty deadly. Therefore, Councillors often send spokespeople with full authority to attend meetings. They are called Mouths.
  • Veleth: The Telvanni use Mouths more often than other Great Houses. Wizard Lords say it is because they are too busy. The truth is, they are the most hated and most likely to attract Morag Tong writs.
  • Khao: So, they stay atop their giant mushrooms conducting useless experiments.
  • Wulf: It didn’t take you long to summarise them!
  • Veleth: They can show empathy. Master Neloth saved a lot of people after the Red Mountain eruption.
  • Wulf: Many mortals get carried away in their pursuit of magical knowledge. Telvanni Wizards are not unique in that aspect.
  • Veleth: Please, investigate Baldor’s fate and let us know what you find.
  • Wulf: We didn’t tell the First or Second Councillors of these events due to the late hour.
  • Veleth: I shall tell them, as is my duty.
  • Wulf: The Skaal gave us a clue to where Baldor might be. We shall head there immediately.

The streets of Raven Rock were deserted. Sensible people were asleep!

There were no external sentries at the towers and bridge. However, we did not doubt that many hid inside the attached Nord temple.

We soon reached another shortcut over the mountains.

I Blinked to the other side.

When I reached flat ground, I summoned my friends.

I quickly gave the hand signal for silence, then pointed to the fire in front of the abandoned lodge.

I used Zoom Vision.

I whispered, “Four Thalmor are sitting around the fire. One of them is an officer. We shall get closer, and then I shall dispose of them with a Cyclone Shout. That will not alert anybody inside the lodge.”

Cyclone killed three Thalmor.

I Blinked to the fourth and decapitated him before he reacted to the attack. Nobody inside the abandoned lodge would have heard anything but dull thuds as Thalmor rained down.

I found the following note on Skyrim’s Thalmor Embassy letterhead upon the officer.

“If you can’t break the smith, I will be forced to find a more capable interrogator. I expect your report to contain encouraging results. -A”

The officer also had a journal. I read the relevant section to my friends.

“We have Baldor. We surprised the wild Nord on the outskirts of the Skaal village. The damn bastard put up a hell of a fight, and it took four of us to overpower him!

He provides more resistance than we expected. Since he has been at the abandoned shack, he refuses to cooperate.

He refuses to eat. C.A. asked us to question him without torture, which is proving ineffective.

The commander will get impatient if we don’t make progress soon.

To avoid that, we may have to torture him after all. Otherwise, we will be severely punished by the commander due to lack of results.”

I growled, “We have found Baldor just in time.”

The Thalmor officer also had a key that unlocked the hunting lodge’s front door.

We entered the lodge, and Heat Vision showed one person in the basement. No Thalmor were inside guarding Baldor.

I called out, “Do not be alarmed, Baldor. We are here to rescue you.”

A strong voice from below replied, “Yes, I have been taken against my will and need rescue!”

We entered the basement, and the Skaal blacksmith was slumped against a post.

Externally, there were no signs of severe injury. However, he may have been harmed during the scuffle to capture him. Therefore, I cast Grand Healing on Baldor and helped him stand.

  • Baldor: Outsiders! I remember you. You’re the ones who freed the Skaal from the dark spell. Thank The All-Maker that you have come. These accursed elves have taken me from my home.
  • Wulf: We came because Deor was worried about you. He told us of this lodge.
  • Khao: Your wounds were not serious. After Wulf’s healing, you should be okay to return to the village.
  • Baldor: I don’t think the elves were trying to harm me. Perhaps they intended to frighten me?
  • Dhali: The Thalmor would have soon increased their barbarity! They pride themselves on their barbaric tortures.
  • Baldor: I do not know this word Thalmor, but if you mean elves, they were trying to learn the secrets of forging Stalhrim. My captors were loose with their tongues. I learnt that their leader, an elf named Ancarion, has a map that shows the location of a hidden source of Stalhrim.
  • Wulf: The Thalmor are the governing council of The Third Aldmeri Dominion. As far as I know, they are forbidden to enter any territory of Morrowind, including Solstheim. They often intrude on the rights of others in their pursuit of better weapons and armour.
  • Dhali: Do you know where Ancarion is? I want to visit him and say hello with my sword.
  • Baldor: They have a ship. It is at Northshore Landing, an abandoned dock once used by the Imperials. Please, do not let Ancarion make his weapons and armour. Kill him or let him live, but take the map from him. It should be with The Skaal.
  • Wulf: Oh, he will not live. Neither will any other Thalmor we find! Northshore Landing is on my map. The Thalmor will soon regret trespassing on Solstheim and kidnapping you.
  • Khao: You are healthy enough to return to the village. When we retrieve the map, we will bring it to you.
  • Baldor: Thank you. May the All-Maker bless your days.
  • Wulf: And may The Nine bless yours.

We watched Baldor as he climbed the stairs and heard him leave the lodge. We did not worry about him reaching his home safely. He is Skaal and one with the land.

I said to my friends, “I am exhausted and must rest. We shall visit Ancarion tomorrow.”

We teleported to Aurane, ate, and then retired to bed.

The following day, we gathered, broke our fast then teleported to Raven Rock’s docks.

Behind me, Gjalund asked, “Lord Welkynd, can I have a word?”

I turned and replied, “Yes, Captain.”

“Is the problem over?”

“Yes, it is. And I will soon visit Vittoria Vici to ensure fair prices are charged.”

“I like these people and enjoy sailing Northern Maiden. I am more than pleased things can return to normal.”

“Do you know Captain Palevius Rex?”

“Yes, we once fished these waters together.”

“He is also freighting goods to Solstheim but using a long route. Perhaps you can work together and ensure Solstheim’s supplies are more frequent and reliable?”

“When he docks here, I shall speak to him. I think a joint venture will benefit everybody.”

“The Divines’ blessings on you, your ship and your crew, Captain.”

The guard outside Morvayn Manor permitted us to enter.

We did so and approached the councillors.

  • Lleril: Lord Welkynd, Captain Veleth told us of the Morag Tong’s presence. He also informed us you believe that Baldor Iron-Hand was kidnapped.
  • Wulf: He was kidnapped by The Thalmor, who planned to torture him. We rescued Baldor and will soon eliminate the rest of the scum.
  • Lleril: What? That is unacceptable! Do you have proof of this outrage?

I handed Lleril the message from Ancarion and the officer’s journal. Lleril read the message and then handed it to Adril.

  • Adril: This will cause an uproar when I present this evidence to The Grand Council. Just the audacity of it makes me shudder in anger.
  • Wulf: Nothing surprises us when it comes to Thalmor treachery. We rescued Baldor and killed some Thalmor. Baldor should be perfectly okay.
  • Lleril: Are there any others?
  • Wulf: Yes, Ancarion has a ship moored at Northshore Landing. We are about to visit him and recover a map he has. It shows the location of a Stalhrim deposit unknown to The Skaal.
  • Adril: Councillor, it would be best if we capture Ancarion.
  • Lleril: I agree. Would it be possible to do so, Lord Welkynd?
  • Wulf: If that is your desire, we shall try. However, I doubt they will surrender. Usually, I would kill them from a distance and save having to clean my sword.
  • Lleril: It sounds like you have a grudge against The Thalmor.
  • Wulf: I admire the people of Alinor, who are victims of The Thalmor like many others. Nirn will never know peace till they are destroyed.
  • Inigo: Many innocents in Elsweyr and The Empire have been kidnapped, tortured, and killed by them.
  • Adril: I noticed the letterhead is from their embassy in Skyrim.
  • Wulf: First Emissary Elenwen would have approved their mission. I doubt any evidence of permission from those in Alinor will be found. Any diplomatic fallout will end in her recall and untimely death. If that were to occur, I doubt anybody in The Empire would shed a tear.
  • Lleril: Any further documentation incriminating them would be appreciated.
  • Wulf: Yes, of course. I am positive Baldor would testify.
  • Adril: Captain Veleth sent some Redoran Guards to investigate the presence of Morag Tong.
  • Lleril: Let’s hope they have not been sent to their deaths.
  • Wulf: Do you have enemies who would hire the Morag Tong, Councillor?
  • Lleril: No. We are not involved in the politics of Morrowind and are regarded as an unimportant backwater.

I noticed Adril’s discomfort at that question. He knew something he had not told Lleril. I was not surprised when he quickly changed the subject.

  • Adril: The people of Solstheim have been released from their enslavement. For that, you and The Dragonguard have our sincerest thanks.
  • Wulf: And a thankyou is all we need.
  • Lleril: Indeed, if we were to offer a reward, I think you would be angered.
  • Wulf: I cannot speak for The Reclamations, but The Nine have ten commandments that The Empire is supposed to uphold. Therefore, I find it unsavoury that people aren’t used to altruism. So, I would not be angered, but I do find it upsetting I have to explain why we decline such offers.
  • Adril: Our beliefs have not changed much between The Tribunal and Reclamations. Our moral code also expects altruism to be a norm, not an exception.
  • Wulf: We shall leave now for Northshore Landing, and I promise to give them the option of surrender.

We exited Morvayn Manor and headed for a meeting with Ancarion.

Ash could be seen swirling in the air, and the sun had no hope of penetrating the thick layer.

There were still no external sentries at the towers and bridge.

We dispensed with the occasional reaver.

When we approached a large Riekling camp, they were hunting a horker. The little people are pretty deadly with their spears.

Northshore Landing came into view not far past the Riekling camp.

I used Zoom Vision and said, “There are four Thalmor, including a High Wizard. I assume that is Ancarion. We shall approach with weapons sheathed.”

I walked up to one of the Thalmor and who said, “Move along. We are conducting official Thalmor business.”

“No, you are trespassing on Morrowind’s sovereign territory without legal jurisdiction. Move aside, underling! Your better wants to speak to High Wizard Ancarion.”

He wisely moved aside, and I approached Ancarion.

In typical arrogance, he said, “You are interfering with official Thalmor business. You will leave immediately if you value your well-being.”

“As I explained to the other idiot, you are trespassing on Morrowind’s sovereign territory where you have no legal jurisdiction. Councillor Morvayn demands that you accompany me to Raven Rock. There, you will be allowed to explain why you ordered the kidnap of Baldor Iron-Shaper. It is a chance we did not give your troops who kidnapped him.”

“Unfortunately for you, my mission here is a secret. To protect it, I have no choice but to silence you unless you have a reason I should not kill you where you stand.”

Ancarion was surprised when my friends and I burst out laughing.

After a few seconds, I replied, “Grand Wizard Ancarion, orders issued by The Dominion’s embassy in Skyrim have been handed to Councillor Morvayn. Your presence here is not secret, hence the demand you surrender and accompany me to Raven Rock. As for killing me where I stand, Alduin and thousands of others have failed. What chance does a pathetic inbred weakling like you have?”

“You are Lord Welkynd?”

“Yes, and if you need proof, my name is engraved on my Amulet of Talos. Would you like to see it?”

Ancarion yelled, “Kill them! We shall return for Baldor another time.”

Ancarion drew his sword and lunged at me.

I quickly dodged and then cut his head off with a backhand swing.

My friends disposed of the other three Thalmor almost as quickly.

We searched the bodies and cargo hold. On Ancarion, I found the map showing the Stalhrim deposit’s location. He also had an order from Thalmor High Command. Like the earlier note, it was on the letterhead of Skyrim’s Thalmor embassy. It was a dossier similar to those I borrowed at Elenwen’s party. I read it to the group.

“Name: Baldor Iron-Shaper

Status: Refuses any cooperation. He is a high-priority target but not dangerous.

Description: Male, Nord, early 40s

Background: Baldor Iron-Shaper is a blacksmith in Skaal village and the only one able to work Stalhrim. Therefore, his capture is crucial in The Dominion army’s build-up.

Operational Notes: The Skaal of Solstheim are mostly unaware of our operations, and abduction should be relatively easy. Wait until he is alone, ideally outside of Skaal Village and capture him. He is to be kept alive to reveal any helpful information. Make sure you are not seen. The Skaal do not provide any military issues to us. However, as Solstheim belongs to the Province of Morrowind, getting caught and handed over to the Redoran Guard could be grounds for war against The Dominion. Get rid of all the bodies and witnesses.”

Inigo exclaimed, “My friend, they had no intention of allowing Baldor to live. They are bastards!”

“The political fallout of this will be tremendous. However, like The New Order’s pursuit of Azura’s Black Diamonds and Rigmor’s heirlooms, Stalhrim would make little difference to military strength. It is a strange thing to risk war over. Let’s check out the hut and then visit Baldor.”

There was nothing of use in the hut. We teleported to Skaal Village.

Baldor was honing a sword.

He stood to talk to us.

“Greetings, Baldor.”

“It is good to see you again, my friends. Did you find the elves at their ship?”

“Yes, and here is the map.”

I handed the map to Baldor, who looked at it and smiled.

He said, “That source of Stalhrim is unknown to our Shaman. It will aid my people greatly.”

“Councillor Morvayn may want you to do a written or verbal disposition. Those who kidnapped you have violated the sovereign territory of Morrowind and intended to kill you. We have written orders demanding they do so.”

“Please, tell Councillor Morvayn I am willing to do what is required to maintain peace between nations. However, I will not let my abduction be a catalyst for war.”

“There will be a lot of chest-beating, but I doubt war will be the outcome.”

“I know you faced great danger to bring this map to me. There are no words to tell how glad my heart is. Thank you. I will trust you with the knowledge of forging Stalhrim.”

“We did not face any great danger, Baldor. As for the forging of Stalhrim, I can’t see it being different than working ebony or glass.”

“Yes, it’s very much like working ebony. I’d say if you know how to forge ebony, then you know everything you need to know to forge Stalhrim.”

“You would think The Thalmor would have experimented and figured that out before kidnapping you.”

“That would be the sensible approach. Anyway, I must return to working my forge. Until our next meeting, Skaal-Friends, may your hunts always bring you game, and your crops grow tall and bountiful.”

“Divine blessings on you and your family, Baldor Iron-Shaper.”

We teleported to Raven Rock and headed for Morvayn Manor.

Adril was not present.

I handed Lleril the dossier on Baldor. He read it then anger dominated his face.

He asked, “Did they surrender?”

“No, Councillor, they did not. I was talking to their leader, High Wizard Ancarion, with weapons sheathed. I offered him the chance to accompany us to Raven Rock, and he ordered his troops to attack. We killed them all.”

“This incident will cause The Dominion great embarrassment. International Law says the person who ordered the mission is as guilty as those who carried it out.”

“Nothing was signed by First Emissary Elenwen, which is a pity. I am sure they will find some unpopular officer from an unimportant family to pin the blame on. Anyway, we shall now investigate the mine closure.”

“I hope you find something to allow it to reopen. That would transform Solstheim into more than a forgotten backwater.”

When we left Morvayn Manor, I said, “The curiosity is getting to me. Let’s visit the Nord blacksmith before talking to the old miner.”

The blacksmith was always busy. It seems he was content to let others use his equipment.

I confirmed the Shadowmark. It meant the blacksmith was a member of Riften’s Thieves Guild.

I studied the man for a few seconds and guessed there was a family connection in Riften.

He looked at me and said, “Lord Welkynd, Glover Mallory is the name. If you’re looking for a smith, you’ve found one of the best.”

“Pleased to meet you, Glover. May I ask how a Nord blacksmith ended up in Raven Rock?”

“That is a fair question that I hear most often from visitors to our town. I wish I had a more romantic tale, but I sought my fortune and chose Raven Rock to ply my trade. Besides, knowing how to repair Bonemold Armour wasn’t very useful in Riften.”

“I assume it is a rare skill. Who taught it to you?”

“I had a friend over there, a dark elf named Vanryth. He is a very talented armoursmith. I spent a lot of time with the guy swapping smithing techniques. He taught me a lot, including how to repair Bonemold. After he moved on to greener pastures, I decided to pack up, move out here and put those lessons to the test. I have been here ever since.”

“Your surname explains the Shadowmark. I assume Delvin is your brother.”

“Are you a guild member?”

“You know who I am, Glover. Would I be a thief?”

“No, you wouldn’t. And yes, Delvin is my brother. My daughter in Riften wrote me a letter explaining how you and The Dragonguard saved the city from destruction. I thank you for that, as Riften is the only home she has known or wants to know.”

“I assume she is a guild member and was safe in The Ragged Flagon.”

“Are you one of those wanting the demise of the guild?”

“As long as The Thieves Guild abstains from murder, they will be tolerated.”

“Yes, my daughter is a guild member. Her mother was as well until she angered Maven Black-Briar. I found her floating in the canal with her throat slit ear to ear. No doubt a discounted hit by The Dark Brotherhood.”

“Do you have proof it was Maven who hired them?”

“No, she is too slick for that.”

“So, another reason you left Riften was to get away from Maven and her sons.”

“You are intuitive. Next, you will guess my daughter’s name.”

“Sapphire. There is a strong family resemblance.”

“I shouldn’t be surprised you figured that out. Anyway, Captain Veleth likes to chat when not telling me he suspects I am a crook. He said you will be looking into the mine closure.”

“Yes, it seems suspicious to me. I will talk with Crescius and hear what he says about it.”

“Can you ask him to return my pickaxe? He keeps ‘borrowing’ it.”

“There must be dozens of pickaxes lying about the mine. Why would Crescius steal yours?”

“It is an Ancient Nordic Pickaxe. They don’t exactly grow on trees, you know.”

“I bet their handles do!”

“Haha. Very droll.”

“What is so special about an Ancient Nordic Pickaxe?”

“It’s the only tool tough enough to crack Stalhrim. Not many are left in the world, and the forging of them is a lost art. The one Crescius ‘borrowed’ came from the Skaal Village up north. I, uh, traded them some goods for it.”

“The Shadowmark says you are a guild member, not a fence.”

“I only conduct legitimate business in Solstheim. I steal nothing, nor cheat anybody. If Captain Veleth wants to arrest crooks, he should do something about Mogrul and his bodyguard Slitter. The make Maven Black Briar seem like your favourite grandma.”

“Why haven’t you asked a guard to deal with Crescius?”

“Um, I prefer to handle these things on my own. If you see Crescius, tell him to give me that pickaxe back, and I’ll pay you for the trouble.”

“You are a smith. Do I look short of a coin?”

“Ahh…no…and neither do your companions.”

“We don’t do deeds for money, Glover. I will talk to Crescius about the mine and ask him about your pickaxe then.”

“I would look in the mine for Crescius. That is where he has been spending his time lately.”

The market was busy, as per usual.

We took Glover’s advice and headed for the mine.

We heard a heated discussion when we entered the mine, so we had to stickybeak.

A middle-aged Dunmer woman was arguing with an elderly Imperial.

  • Crescius: Damn it, Aphia! I said to leave me be!
  • Aphia: Crescius, the last time you explored the mine, you almost fell to your death! I’m not spending the rest of my days as a widow!
  • Crescius: And I’m telling you, I’ll do whatever it takes to find my great-grandfather’s remains. He’s down here. I can feel it.
  • Aphia: He died almost two centuries ago. There may be nothing left to find.
  • Crescius: Just let me go, woman!
  • Aphia: Crescius, you’re an obstinate old fool who’ll get himself killed.

Aphia stormed past us and out of the mine. We approached Crescius.

  • Crescius: Who in the blazes are you?! Can’t you see I’m busy?
  • Dhali: Speak to us with civility, Crescius. What are you busy doing?
  • Crescius: Why should I tell you? I don’t even know who you are.
  • Wulf: If you had given us a chance before being rude, I would have introduced us.
  • Crescius: Well then, introduce yourself!
  • Wulf: I am Lord Welkynd, The Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines. My friends are known as The Dragonguard.
  • Crescius: The ones who defeated Alduin and stopped the Ash Spawn?
  • Dhali: Among many other things, including freeing the people of Solstheim from Miraak.
  • Crescius: I spent weeks working on something at The Earth Stone. Most of it is a blur, like a bad dream. The majority of Raven Rock’s citizens were affected.
  • Dhali: All of them were affected. Spouses worked at The Earth Stone without their partner noticing. People not working at The Earth Stone did not recognise something was amiss.
  • Crescius: I apologise for my surliness. Trusting anybody has been difficult, as I inevitably get labelled as crazy.
  • Wulf: They don’t believe your suspicions about this mine?
  • Crescius: What do you know of my suspicions?
  • Wulf: Only the basics. I would like you to tell us what you think has happened.
  • Crescius: These mines hold a secret that could put Raven Rock back on the map. A secret that The East Empire Company swept under the rug two centuries ago. It killed my great-grandfather, Gratian Caerellius, and left Raven Rock with a worthless and tainted mine.
  • Wulf: Gratian Caerellius, the explorer and historian?
  • Crescius: You know of him?
  • Wulf: Yes, and I have read some of his works. He is well respected.
  • Crescius: Gratian spent his entire life exploring ancient ruins across Tamriel. He died in these same mines almost two hundred years ago. The East Empire Company called it a terrible accident, claiming he was lost in rockfall, but I know better.
  • Dhali: Do you have proof to support your suspicions?
  • Crescius: Yes. My wife and I were cleaning our home and discovered some of my great-grandfather’s things locked in an old chest. I found a letter he’d received from the East Empire Company and a key.
  • Dhali: Is Aphia your wife?
  • Crescius: How did you guess? Oh, it must be how we were bickering like man and wife.
  • Dhali: You don’t have to be married to bicker like that. But I know love when I see it.
  • Crescius:  Aphia thinks that old age has addled my mind and that I see things when nothing can be seen. I realise she cares about me, but she has to understand I can’t rest until I find out what happened to Gratian.
  • Wulf: What did the letter say?
  • Crescius: It describes a discovery made in the mine by some of the diggers. They wanted Gratian to take a closer look. The East Empire Company must have felt it was of great value, as they locked that section of the mine off from everyone else.
  • Wulf: At that stage, no miners had been killed?
  • Crescius: Correct.
  • Wulf: The mine operation was not suspended while Gratian investigated.
  • Crescius: No, it was business as usual.
  • Wulf: That is negligence. No wonder The East Empire Company wants the whole saga kept quiet. The East Empire Company would have to pay much larger compensation to the families if a rockfall did not kill the miners. If negligence were proven, they would be forced to pay substantially more.
  • Inigo: My friend, you have been suspicious all along. A rockfall would not close a profitable mine.
  • Wulf: Do you have the letter with you?
  • Crescius: Yes, here, have a look.

Crescius handed me the letter. I read it to the group.


I would appreciate it if you could help us with a situation we’ve encountered in Raven Rock. It seems that the miners there have stumbled across some ruins under the surface near shaft three, and we need your expertise to take a look. I could send someone else if you’re busy, but I figured you’d want to go since I seem to recall that you’re originally from Solstheim. Let us know if you make any progress.

Rendellus Thandarian, East Empire Company, Imperial City, Cyrodiil.”

  • Wulf: The letter has The East Empire Company’s seal at the bottom. There is no denying its authenticity.
  • P’Sua: Crescius, you said there was a key. Is it to the locked section of the mine?
  • Crescius: It is. Well, I assume it is. I haven’t been able to find the entrance.
  • Wulf: If you give me the key, we shall investigate and hopefully solve this puzzle for you.
  • Crescius: You believe me?
  • Wulf: An Inigo said, I had suspicions before talking to you and seeing that letter. So yes, I believe you.
  • Dhali: What if Aphia is right, and we fail to find anything?
  • Crescius: If that is the outcome, I’ll settle down peacefully and never set foot in this mine again. I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time… even before I discovered Gratian’s old things. I hope you don’t mistake my enthusiasm for insanity.
  • Wulf: We understand, Crescius, and would never think you are insane.
  • Dhali: I think some people are afraid you are correct because they will look foolish.
  • Crescius: Yes, they would. But all would be forgotten if we could make this mine viable again.
  • Wulf: Okay, Crescius. Head on home and speak to Aphia about anything else but this mine. I promise we will inform you of what we find or don’t find as soon as possible.
  • Dhali: That is good advice, Wulf. It looks like Rigmor’s training is working.
  • Shiva: Celestine was confident it would.
  • Inigo: Please, ladies, don’t tell Ko’rassa your training techniques.
  • Shiva: Sorry, too late. You are under her control but don’t realise it.
  • Dhali: Think of her as your very own Miraak.
  • Wulf: Don’t worry, Inigo. The thumbprints on your forehead eventually fade.
  • Crescius: And they call me crazy?
  • Wulf: Glover wants his Ancient Nordic Pickaxe back.
  • Crescius: The damn fool doesn’t even deserve to have it. The pickaxe was made for mining, not selling. I’ll bet he stole it from The Skaal in the first place.
  • Wulf: No, Crescius, he traded for it. It doesn’t belong to you, and if you insist on keeping it, you will be the thief, not Glover.
  • Crescius: Oh, very well. Here. Tell him I hope he drops the thing on his foot.

Crescius handed me the key and pickaxe, then headed for the exit.

When Crescius was out of earshot, Dhali said, “I would love to know the story behind those two!”

I replied, “Their love must be strong. Aphia will still be relatively young for a Dunmer when he dies of old age. They would have known that from the beginning.”

“Even amongst Mer species, life expectancy varies greatly.”

We made our way into the depths of the mine.

It was not long before we encountered giant spiders. However, Kyne’s Peace was in effect, and Inigo did not want to squish them if they would not fight back.

We came across some extremely thick spider webs that blocked progress. I Shouted Dragonfire and burnt them away.

Beyond the web, a short corridor led to a haphazardly boarded-up tunnel.

  • Dhali: That looks like it was done in a hurry!
  • Shiva: If worried about nasties killing everybody they encounter, you would also hurry!
  • P’Sua: I am impressed they took the time to try and block the entrance.
  • Wulf: Crescius wouldn’t have survived the spiders and probably stopped when he saw their webs. He never came close to this area.

I did a weak Unrelenting Force Shout, and the timbers gave way.

Not very far from the timbers, we came upon a locked gate.

  • Dhali: The East Empire Company thought the ruins were dangerous enough to invest the time and expense to install this gate.
  • P’Sua: Perhaps they were protecting whatever treasure they thought could be within the ruins, not the miners.
  • Wulf: Hey, I have one of those conundrums you all love.
  • Inigo: Is it futile to beg for mercy, my friend?
  • Wulf: This one does not involve gobblygook.
  • P’Sua: We might as well get it over with.
  • Wulf: If Gratian perished in the mine, why do I have his key?
  • Dhali: Well, the obvious answer is that at least one other person had a key and escorted Gratian.
  • Inigo: Somebody could have been negligent and left the gate unlocked.
  • P’Sua: Gratian might have had more than one key.
  • Khao: Gratian forgot his key but was skinny and climbed through the bars.
  • Shiva: Okay, Wulf, what do you think is the answer to the puzzle?
  • Wulf: Why ask me? I have no idea!
  • Inigo: Did you find that amusing?
  • Wulf: Yes.
  • Inigo: Why?
  • Wulf: Albatross! That is why.
  • Inigo: Maybe Rigmor has been pressing on your forehead too hard.
  • Dhali: I assure you, Inigo, that Wulf hasn’t changed since arriving in Akavir.

The key Crescius gave me unlocked the gate, and we soon found ourselves in Nordic ruins.

A little while later, Inigo stopped and whispered, “My friend. I can smell zombies!”

  • Shiva: Inigo, if I said Draugr, would it upset you?
  • Inigo: Mr Dragonfly says if he was free of his jar, and you were not so big, and he had teeth, he would bite you!
  • Shiva: Maybe there are lots of Draugr. Wouldn’t that be fun?
  • Inigo: La la la, I am not listening. La la la la la….
  • Wulf: You should also stick your fingers in your ears, Inigo.
  • Inigo: I need my hands free for when zombies attack!

We were soon fighting dozens of Draugr, and Inigo was at the forefront as usual. His fear of Draugr was far less a force than his loyalty and love for his friends.

Soon after eliminating the last Draugr, we found a sarcophagus containing a Nord corpse encased in Stalhrim.

  • Wulf: Well, this is something rarely seen.
  • Inigo: What is it, my friend?
  • Wulf: In the past, important Nord and Atmoran were encased in Stalhrim to protect them from graverobbers.
  • P’Sua: You have that fancy pickaxe, but you won’t use it, will you?
  • Wulf: I have no right to disturb the dead. Let them rest.
  • Inigo: But if they are zombies, you must disturb them and hack them to pieces!
  • Shiva: We don’t hack corpses to pieces unless they threaten us.
  • Inigo: They are zombies and need to be hacked to pieces!
  • Wulf: The people encased in Stalhrim will not be Draugr, Inigo.

We continued our trek through the ruins. There was nothing special about them, and we found nothing interesting until we arrived at a large cavern. At the end of the cavern were large doors. Horizontal, red lines could be seen on either side of the doors. Two skeletons could be seen. The closer one was next to an inactive Draugr.

  • Wulf: I think we have found Gratian.
  • Inigo: Ahh, there are bodies in cages, my friend.
  • Wulf: Don’t worry, they are just hanging around.
  • Dhali: They were probably placed in cages for telling awful jokes.
  • Wulf: That is cruel! Not everybody can be as witty as me.
  • Shiva: It is crueller to pick on somebody’s handicap. Therefore, we shall go along with your delusion, Wulf.
  • P’Sua: Yes, haha, hanging around is very witty.
  • Shiva: Don’t overdo it, P’Sua!

I leapt off a ledge to the rocks below.

The others soon followed.

We walked over to the first skeleton. It was surrounded by ancient, congealed blood suggesting a violent death. A dead Draugr near the skeleton gave a clue as to the cause of death. Next to the skeleton was a pickaxe.

Up a short flight of stairs was another skeleton. This one lay on a bedroll. A large spread of congealed blood suggested severe injuries, and the victim had managed to move around for some time. Next to the skeleton was a bloodied journal with Gratian Caerellius embossed on its cover and spine. I read the relevant entries to the group.

“30 Rain’s Hand 4E10

I received a letter from the East Empire Company today. They say that some miners broke through the wall in shaft three of Raven Rock Mine and found some ruins. I hope this isn’t another waste of time like that fiasco they sent me to in Cyrodiil. I’ll gather my assistant, Millius and sail back to Raven Rock at first light. It will be nice to see the old house in Solstheim again.

7 Second Seed 4E10

I finally arrived in Raven Rock and was surprised at the town’s number of dark elf refugees. They aren’t from mining stock but will make fine workers one day. Millius and I spent most of the day clearing the ash off my house’s roof. The damn volcano is still erupting almost day and night. It would almost look beautiful if it weren’t for the ash covering everything.

8 Second Seed 4E10

Millius and I are headed into Raven Rock Mine to examine whatever the miners uncovered. I’ll stop by the old Swing and Scoop and pick up a few supplies before we head down. It couldn’t hurt to be prepared.

9 Second Seed 4E10

It looks like the miners broke right through the wall of an old Nordic barrow. It looks like this barrow belongs to the ‘Bloodskal Clan.’ I’ve seen this sort of thing in Skyrim before… damn Nords have barrows dotting the landscape, and almost none of them are ever marked on any maps. I will take some rubbings of the inscriptions on the tombs and see if I can’t learn more information from my history books.

12 Second Seed 4E10

It’s been a few days, and I can’t find a single mention of this clan anywhere. Millius and I decided to proceed ahead. We’ve reached a dropdown point, but I see a massive chamber below. It took the better part of the day to lower everything and climb the almost sheer drop.

13 Second Seed 4E10

It’s been an astonishing day of discovery! After exploring the large chamber beyond the drop-off, I was startled to find the strangest weapon I’d ever seen sitting on a pedestal. The blade appears to be flawless and emits a faint chilling glow. Bits of parchment I found about the chamber seem to call this ‘The Bloodskal Blade.’ I am not sure if I should remove it yet. I think I’ll sleep on it.

14 Second Seed 4E10

I’ve decided against my better judgement to remove the Bloodskal Blade from its pedestal. Millius seems entirely against it, but we must bring this wondrous artefact when we find a way out of the barrow.

15 Second Seed 4E10

I should have listened to Millius. The moment the blade was lifted, we were set upon by Draugr. Millius fought bravely, but he fell. I managed to destroy the remaining ones, but I was severely wounded. I can barely stand. My only chance would be to find a way out of this place, but I fear I’m trapped.

17 Second Seed 4E10

Exploring has been slow. I can only move for maybe a few minutes at a time before I have to rest. My supplies are running low, and I feel weaker by the hour. The only progress I’ve made is finding a strange door with markings I’ve never seen the likes of before.

I’m missing something to them, as they’ve confounded my attempts at getting through. I’ll have to study this further to make any progress… barely can keep awake.

I’m sure that the key to the door involves using the Bloodskal Blade. When swinging the weapon, I notice a ribbon of mystical energy emanating from it. By swinging the sword in different directions, I think it’s possible to manipulate this ribbon and solve whatever puzzle this door presents. I hope to get well enough to put this to the test soon… each swing is a huge effort.

24 Second Seed 4E10

I’ve lost track of time, and my strength is fading. I can’t even stand upright anymore. My wounds refuse to heal. I’m afraid this tomb will become my resting place. If anyone finds this journal, please send these notes to my superiors at The East Empire Company and tell my wife I love her.

Lord Arkay, please guide me to my final rest.”

From underneath the bedroll, I retrieved the Bloodskal Blade. It had a strong dweomer that inflicted substantial magic damage. It was superbly balanced, and I am sure Auryen will know its history.

Everybody tried to talk at once, but I put my hand up, and they fell silent.

I stood over Millius and performed Arkay’s Rights.

I then did the same for Gratian.

After I finished, it was time to talk.

  • Wulf: Gratian died slowly. The copious amount of blood suggests he was severely injured.
  • P’Sua: They have been dead for nearly two hundred years. Would your ritual work?
  • Wulf: Sometimes, a violent death, especially when surrounded by the undead, results in a confused soul losing its way. The ritual is always worthwhile as it does no harm and may aid a lost soul.
  • Shiva: You have to swing that greatsword to match the direction of the red lines.
  • Wulf: Yes, and I assume more lines in a different direction might appear when I do.
  • P’Sua: I can use the sword if you wish.
  • Wulf: No, we don’t know what protection the sword has. A trap may be triggered. I will take that risk.
  • P’Sua: The risk is you swinging a greatsword!
  • Wulf: I am better than you with a greatsword. But we all look like beginners when compared to Rigmor.
  • P’Sua: I was joking, Wulf.
  • Wulf: My apologies. I am mightily pissed off at The East Empire Company.
  • P’Sua: We can see that, Wulf. I think we are all pissed off with those worshippers of profit.

I walked to the first horizontal line and swung the sword in that direction.

Rocks moved with a loud grating sound, and a vertical line appeared.

I repeated the process with the second horizontal line.

I stayed where I was and slashed vertically.

The rocks moved again, and a new, smaller horizontal line appeared higher than the first.

I repeated the process with the second vertical line.

I then did a horizontal slash in front of the small horizontal line.

Rocks moved, but no new line appeared.

I then did a horizontal slash in front of the remaining small horizontal line.

Rocks moved, and an extensive vertical line appeared in the centre of the doors.

I warned the group, “Have your weapons and spells ready. I can’t see anything with Heat Vision, but undead might be waiting on the other side.”

I swung vertically and undead didn’t greet us. Instead, a long winding corridor with several groups of swinging blades lay before us.

The others waited for me to finish playing ‘Dodge the Blades’ by Blinking.

When I reached the far end, I pulled a lever which raised a portcullis and stopped all the swinging blades.

My friends came running.

  • Wulf: There is a Word Wall in the next chamber. There is also a Dragon Priest.
  • Dhali: We know you can hear Word Walls, but how do you know there is a Dragon Priest?
  • Wulf: I can sense his presence. He has a brooding soul full of hate and malice.
  • Khao: Do you know which Dragon Priest it is?
  • Wulf: Remember the towers and bridges that led to Nordic doors.
  • Inigo: Yes, that is where you did those fantastic shots with the bow. We all thought more reavers would live inside the ruins beyond those doors.
  • Wulf: According to my map, those towers are part of Bloodskal Barrow. We are in Bloodskal Barrow, home to a Dragon Priest called Zahkriisos. His name means Sword-Blood.
  • P’Sua: Sword-Blood? That name must be related to the greatsword needed to enter this part of the barrow.
  • Shiva: Is he a powerful Dragon Priest?
  • Wulf: I don’t know. They have all had thousands of years of Lichdom to hone their skills.
  • Dhali: You have never mentioned the ability to detect Dragon Priests.
  • Wulf: If they are in their sarcophagus, I can’t.
  • Dhali: If Zahkriisos is not in his sarcophagus, where is he?
  • Wulf: He is pretending to be a Lurker.
  • Dhali: Why would he hide underwater?
  • Wulf: Mortals can’t cast spells in water once it reaches their arms, as the motions required are inaccurate. Dragon Priests don’t touch the ground. Zahkriisos will wait till I am partway across the water and attack, hovering above the water and expecting me to be at a disadvantage.
  • P’Sua: But you know he is there.
  • Wulf: Yes, and as soon as he realises that, he will attack. I might not have to enter the water.
  • Inigo: Mr Dragonfly says my friend should hurry up and kill the zombie king.
  • Wulf: Okay, Mr Dragonfly, if it prevents Inigo from soiling himself, I will kill the zombie king.

I approached the water and said, “Los dreh niist, Zahkriisos? Strun do Dovahkiin daar tol los vokrii!” (Are you a coward, Zahkriisos? Face the Dragonborn with some dignity!)

As predicted, Zahkriisos arose from the water, faced me, and hovered.

When he started a summoning spell, I Shouted Unrelenting Force.

Zahkriisos turned to dust, as did his summoned Seeker.

I dived into the water and retrieved Zahkriisos’ mask and armour, which I placed in my Journal Case.

We approached the Word Wall.

  • Wulf: It tried to teach me ‘MUL,’ the first Word of Power of the Dragon Aspect Shout. It means strength. I already knew the Word and Shout.
  • P’Sua: The Dragon Priest lasted only seconds!
  • Wulf: He wasn’t very powerful.
  • Khao: I have no idea how you make heads or tails of Dovahzul runes.
  • P’Sua: Why are they shaped like that?
  • Dhali: If a dragon used a talon to write, how would it look?
  • P’Sua: Now I understand.
  • Wulf: In Dovahzul, the inscription says, ‘Pah werid morokei Miraak zok suleykaar do pah sonaak wen mul bolaav naal Fahluaan Do Jul.’
  • P’Sua: Hey, I understood the word Miraak! Am I a Dovahzul expert now?
  • Wulf: Roughly, the text translates to, ‘All praise glorious Miraak, the most powerful servant of all Dragon Priests, whose strength was granted by The Gardener of Men.’
  • Khao: The Gardner of Men is one of Hermaeus Mora’s titles.
  • Wulf: There is a Black Book nearby. I can feel its Magicka pulsing. I couldn’t sense it until the Word of Power transfer was finished.
  • Khao: Pulsing just like Vayu’s tattoo.
  • Wulf: It is a pity he can’t remember how he got it.
  • Khao: Celestine says they ignore it because the tattoo has done Vayu no harm.
  • Wulf: It would be hard to ignore when you extinguish all the lamps and candles, and Vayu’s tattoo lights up the room.

I led my friends to the Black Book. I placed it into my Journal Case without opening it.

I told the group, “I have no interest in obtaining knowledge from Hermaeus Mora. Plus, he might be a bit angry with me at the moment. The Black Book’s title is ‘The Winds of Change’, and Liesl Grey-Hart wrote it. He was a Court Wizard for Jarl Elgryr the Unminded. Elgryr was a tyrannical and despised Jarl of Windhelm in the Second Era. He cared so little for the social inequalities of his people he allowed mages to experiment upon the poor. Things didn’t turn out well for Jarl Elgryr, Liesl or several other mages when the people of Windhelm stormed the Palace of Kings.”

We climbed a set of spiral stairs with a central waterfall.

Then a short, steep corridor led to a hidden door operated by a pull chain.

I told my friends, “There are many reavers beyond the door.”

Dhali replied, “There is probably no pull chain on the other side. The reavers would be the gang who populated those towers and bridges.”

“Let’s perform another good deed for the citizens of Solstheim.”

I opened the secret door, and we rushed the reavers. Within minutes, dozens of them lay dead.

As we searched for the exit, we came upon murdered citizens. I would inform Councillor Morvayn so he can arrange for their identification and cremation.

We exited onto a bridge.

And then we teleported into Aurane.

The usual routine of food, bathing and bed followed.

The following day, I summoned Silah.

  • Wulf: Good morning, my favourite Jill.
  • Silah: I am the only Jill you know.
  • Wulf: Revel in my affection before I meet another, who would undoubtedly become my favourite.
  • Silah: Lord Akatosh is pleased with your handling of Miraak.
  • Wulf: Miraak wants to aid me against what he regards as chaos. The people of Solstheim are no longer ensorceled.
  • Silah: Aedriath’s army is travelling at a good pace. It will still be a few days before they reach Whiterun. When they do, they will be exhausted. The New Order in Cyrodiil is mindlessly walking into His Imperial Majesty’s trap. The Thalmor have special squads ready to eliminate them in Alinor.
  • Wulf: I will continue to help the people of Solstheim until Aedriath is close to Whiterun.
  • Silah: Rigmor misses you terribly but is also full of confidence and determination. She will be a fine Countess.
  • Dhali: Wulf also misses Rigmor terribly, even though he tries hard not to show it.
  • Shiva: We know you well, Wulf, so don’t deny it.
  • Wulf: I won’t deny it. However, I know Silah well, and there is something she is hesitant to tell me.
  • Silah: That is the drawback of this form. It is harder to read the body language of a dragon.
  • Wulf: Spill the beans.
  • Inigo: My friend, I see no beans Silah can make a senseless mess with.
  • Khao: It is one of Wulf’s weird colloquialisms. When you spill the beans, you are imparting knowledge.
  • Silah: Wulf, you are creating major Junctions that have not been foreseen. Each time you do, an event in the future becomes more probable. Saint Alessia and The Psijic Order have both foreseen that event. Your mother named it The Obscurity.
  • Wulf: That sounds ominous.
  • Silah: Nothing can be seen beyond The Obscurity. All we know is that Rigmor and you might be crucial in ensuring Mundus survives beyond it.
  • Wulf: Or we might be the catalyst that causes it.
  • Silah: That is a possible scenario, as we cannot definitively say either way.
  • Wulf: Father didn’t want to tell me this, did he?
  • Silah: No, because he would have to do so as Talos, not your father.
  • Inigo: I am not an expert on this time gobblygook, but I think I understand the cause and effect.
  • Wulf: Please, Inigo, tell us your theory.
  • Shiva: This will be embarrassing.
  • Inigo: Each random Junction increases the chance of The Obscurity happening. That is probably because my friend’s actions increase the chances of everything still existing.
  • Dhali: That is what I was thinking.
  • Silah: That is a sound theory, Inigo, and it is what we think is happening.
  • Shiva: Are you going to raspberry me, Inigo?
  • Inigo: No, you have that skill perfected, and I would look amateurish in comparison. My smug smile should be enough.
  • Wulf: This is interesting, Silah, but I don’t see a reason to change how I do things.
  • Silah: We don’t know enough, Wulf, so we would not suggest you do. However, Lord Talos might ask for something challenging, and I hope you consider why it might be required.
  • Wulf: I am not going to speculate on a maybe, Silah. Father knows that even if something upsets me, I will do what is best for the people of Nirn.
  • Shiva: How are Lydia and the ladies?
  • Silah: They have become firm friends with Rigmor. They gossip together like Jills.
  • Wulf: We have made it possible for the mine at Raven Rock to reopen. That will be a boon for Solstheim. We will return now and tell them the good news.

Silah vanished, and we teleported to Raven Rock.

We made our way to Crescius’ and Aphia’s house.

When I knocked on the door, Aphia let us in. She stood near her husband, who looked at us nervously.

  • Wulf: Good morning, Aphia, Crescius.
  • Crescius: Please, tell us what you found.

I handed Gratian’s journal to Crescius. He opened it and quickly read it.

  • Crescius: I knew it! Gratian’s death wasn’t because of a rockfall. That was just a story designed to keep people away from the tombs and not to pay compensation for those killed by Draugr. Now that I have this journal, I can get closure from The East Empire Company. I will make them pay for lying to everyone!
  • Wulf: Crescius, write a letter to Vittoria Vici, The East Empire Company’s manager in Skyrim. She is a good soul and will make sure things are set right. If you go to anybody else in the company, they will set their myriad attorneys on you, and nothing will happen for years.
  • Crescius: Thank you. Now, I believe I owe you more than a gratitude debt for all your work. Here… it’s not much, but it’s the best an old, retired miner can do.
  • Wulf: We didn’t do it for money, Crescius. So put that bag of coins away before we get offended!
  • Crescius: Oh, ah…okay.
  • Aphia: Crescius, you were right, and I was wrong to doubt you. Please forgive me.
  • Crescius: There is nothing to forgive, my dear. I did sound like an obsessed old man because I was one.
  • Dhali: If I am intruding, tell me to mind my business. May I ask how did you meet Crescius?
  • Aphia: What is your name?
  • Dhali: Dhali.
  • Aphia: It is a frequently asked question that I don’t mind answering, Dhali. After all, we do make a bit of an odd couple. To understand how we met, you must appreciate what Crescius went through. He is a third-generation miner… all his life, he’s lived and breathed nothing else. When Crescius came of age, the ebony mine in Raven Rock was shut down. He took that quite hard.
  • Crescius: This home has been in my family for over two hundred years. Leaving it would have been like abandoning precious memories. Instead of looking for work elsewhere, I stayed in Solstheim and spent most of my life prospecting for a new ebony source. Sadly, it never surfaced.
  • Aphia: A decade ago, this drove Crescius into a deep depression. He shut himself inside this house and refused to come out.
  • Crescius: I was a stubborn, cantankerous old bastard.
  • Aphia: Was?
  • Crescius: Yes, dearest. Now I am a stubborn, cantankerous older bastard.
  • Aphia: After refusing to allow anyone to bring him food, Councillor Morvayn ordered his door to be knocked down before Crescius starved. I was a temple priest then and used my healing arts to restore strength to his ailing body. I stayed for some time and cared for him, then… I suppose we fell in love.
  • Wulf: You were a temple priest? I see you still wear Robes of Azura.
  • Aphia: I’m no longer welcome in Raven Rock’s temple.
  • Dhali: Why? What happened?
  • Aphia: It came down to a disagreement between what I believe and Elder Othreloth’s beliefs. I’d prefer not to get into the details, but let’s say our opinions about the current status of the Tribunal vary widely.
  • Wulf: Are their Tribunal fanatics in Solstheim?
  • Aphia: I believe so.
  • Wulf: Was Elder Othreloth part of the Reclamation Movement?
  • Aphia: Yes.
  • Wulf: Therefore, he could be in danger if religious fanatics are in Solstheim.
  • Aphia: You are perceptive. He insists that every person on this island is a devout follower of The Reclamations. There is no sign of the Tribunal’s saint status within the temple. I argued there should be, and that led to my expulsion.
  • Wulf: If there is a danger, I have no doubt Azura or Boethia will contact me.
  • Aphia: Why would they do that?
  • Dhali: Wulf is the champion of both Dark Lords.
  • Aphia: Wulf, have you spoken to them?
  • Wulf: Yes. Azura saved my life, which allowed me to save my beloved and Nirn. Boethia would only help if I retrieved an artefact and became her champion. I retrieved the artefact and travelled to Oblivion, where I fought and killed her ten strongest acolytes. Boethia then aided me in my task.
  • Aphia: Please, ask Azura. Her seers may have seen something.
  • Wulf: I will do so.
  • Dhali: We are glad we could help not only you two but all of Raven Rock and Solstheim. I don’t think you will have a problem finding a market for the ebony.

We exited the house, intending to tell Councillor Morvayn of our success. However, we were intercepted by Captain Veleth.

“Good morning, Captain.”

“I’m sorry to bother you, but Second Councillor Arano asked me to find you. He said it’s quite urgent.”

“What is urgent?”

“He didn’t say. He wanted me to track you down and send you to him. After you popped out of nowhere, which was quite disturbing at first, but we are used to it now, one of my men saw you enter Crescius’ house. So here I am, ambushing you.”

“Okay, Captain. We were already heading for Morvayn Manor.”

“No, you will meet Second Councillor Arano at the other end of town. He said this is important. Even more important than wiping out the Ash Spawn.”

“We shall head there immediately.”

“Was old Crescius trying to convince you about his crackpot theory?”

“Crescius was right, and the ebony mine will soon make a fortune for Solstheim.”


Captain Veleth wandered away, muttering about how Raven Rock will now be a target for reavers.

On the way to see Adril, we stopped at the blacksmith to return his pickaxe.

I approached and held out the Ancient Nordic Pickaxe.

Glover said, “So you talked to old Crescius, eh? He is quite a character, isn’t he? I tell you what. Since you went through all the trouble of finding it for me, you keep it.”

“Crescius was correct. The mine will soon be open again, which should earn you a bit of coin. As for the pickaxe, I don’t accept gifts.”

I fished around in my gem bag and found a sapphire worth 500 septims. I placed it in Glover’s shirt pocket and walked away.

As we passed the market, an Orsimer threatened one of the stallholders.

  • Mogrul: Milore, you need to talk some sense into your husband.
  • Milore: You can’t get blood from a stone, Mogrul. As it is, we can barely make ends meet.
  • Mogrul: That isn’t my problem. I was clear when I loaned Garyn the money I wanted back, plus interest, by the first harvest.
  • Milore: I’ll see what I can do…
  • Mogrul: Good, because it would be a pity if you or Garyn had an accident.

I walked over to Mogrul and waited for him to turn and face me.

He said, “I’ll give you this warning only once. Stay out of my way, and we’ll do just fine.”

“And if I don’t?”

“Slitter will live up to his name.”

“Mongrel, I’ll give you this warning only once. If you or Slitter harm Garyn or Milore, I will kill both of you!”

“The name is Mogrul, and take your best shot, fetcher! But if you draw on me, the guards will put the bounty on your head, not mine.”

“Mongrel, I could kill you without lifting a finger or saying a word. Your eyes would bulge till they pop. Blood would pour out of every orifice, and you would fall to the ground screaming. Eventually, you would start to gurgle as you drown in your blood. Nobody could blame me for your untimely and messy demise.”

My friends laughed loud as we left the shocked Mogrul and continued towards Adril.

The Second Councillor looked worried as we approached.

  • Adril: Thank you for coming. After everything you’ve done for Raven Rock, I hate to ask for more, but I can’t risk Councillor Morvayn being killed.
  • Wulf: Second Councillor, when we first arrived in Raven Rock, I suggested you ask us for help when needed, and wisely, you are.
  • Adril: The Ulen Family of House Hlaalu, a rival Great House, has placed a deathmark on the Councillor’s head.
  • Wulf: I understand that for much of your life, they were Great House Hlaalu. However, due to their strong ties with The Empire, House Hlaalu is no longer a Great House. They were removed from the Grand Council of Morrowind and replaced by Great House Sadras.
  • Adril: Yes, I stand corrected. Hlaalu deserved every bit of the hatred they received once the Empire released its grasp on Morrowind.
  • Wulf: Your gripes with The Empire, Second Councillor, are misguided at best and ignorant at worst. The fact is the target of Mehrunes Dagon was The Imperial City. The war would most likely have been lost if the Legion had not been taken from Solstheim to Cyrodiil. The Empire did not abandon The Dunmer! Millions of Legionnaires died defending all of us!
  • Dhali: Gentlemen, can we please attend to the deathmark, not ancient history?
  • Wulf: Why would the Ulen Family want to kill Councillor Morvayn?
  • Adril: It’s a private matter. They seek revenge on Councillor Morvayn for ordering one of them to be executed. The problem is I don’t have any solid proof that anyone from House Hlaalu is hidden among us… only my suspicions.
  • Wulf: Are the Morag Tong the only ones who would act on the deathmark?
  • Adril: They are the only ones who could do so legally.
  • Wulf: We told you about the Morag Tong at Ashfallow Keep. Do you think they are the ones hired to kill Councillor Morvayn? 
  • Adril: It seems likely.
  • Wulf: They cannot kill without carrying a writ.
  • Adril: Correct. Writs are legal contracts that protect them from prosecution.
  • Wulf: We are not meeting in Morvayn Manor. Is that because you haven’t told Councillor Morvayn about your suspicions?
  • Adril: I have told him, but Councillor Morvayn feels that I’m being paranoid. He would disagree with me asking you for help.
  • Wulf: I assume you have trusted sources who have informed you of this threat?
  • Adril: Yes, I do. I’ve received some information from my sources that Ulen’s house, House Hlaalu, could have elements already in Raven Rock.
  • Khao: Do you think us outlanders have a better chance of snooping around than you, Second Councillor?
  • Adril: Because Raven Rock is a small settlement, it isn’t easy to accomplish anything in secret. If any citizen is from House Hlaalu, I wouldn’t be able to make a move without them knowing.
  • Wulf: I will not commit to helping without some questions being answered.
  • Adril: Without Councillor Morvayn, Raven Rock has no future. Keep that in mind when you decide to help or not.
  • Wulf: I am Champion of Azura and Boethia. We are willing to risk our lives for the citizens of Solstheim. Keep those in mind when you decide to answer some questions or not.
  • P’Sua: We have a strict moral code, Second Councillor. We must be cautious lest we inadvertently break that code.
  • Adril: What do you want to know?
  • Wulf:  Who was executed and why?
  • Adril: In 4E 95, Vilur Ulen came to Raven Rock with a plan to take over our town. He acted as a generous benefactor and caused agitation amongst our citizens. He thought he could turn them all against Councillor Morvayn and The Redoran Guard.
  • Daenlyn: He underestimated The Redoran Guard, didn’t he?
  • Adril: Indeed, and The Redoran Guard were organised, swiftly ending the coup. Vilur tried to run, but Captain Veleth caught him. Vilur Ulen was executed a short time later, and his remains were placed in the Ulen Ancestral Tomb.
  • Wulf: How many citizens joined Vilur’s failed coup?
  • Adril: Almost half of them.
  • Wulf: Assuming you didn’t execute half your citizens, there will be Ulen sympathisers within the population without importing more.
  • Adril: That is true, but it would be easier to avoid detection by plotting off this island.
  • Wulf: Where should we start looking for evidence?
  • Adril: The best place to start would be Geldis Sadri at The Retching Netch Cornerclub. If he provides any leads, check them out before bringing them to my attention. I can’t afford to make any mistakes.
  • Wulf: We will speak to Geldis and inform you of our progress, Second Councillor.

We made our way to The Retching Netch.

I approached the barkeep.

  • Geldis: Welcome to The Retching Netch Cornerclub, home of the finest Sujamma that will ever grace your lips.
  • Wulf: Are you Geldis Sadri?
  • Geldis: Indeed, I am, and you are Lord Welkynd and The Dragonguard.
  • Wulf: That’s us.
  • Inigo: Your establishment has an unusual name.
  • Geldis: There’s a funny story behind the name, friend. A few years ago, I was walking by the docks and noticed a Dunmer staggering with a bottle of Sujamma. He was one of my patrons and liked drinking heavily, so I wasn’t surprised.
  • Wulf: More proof that Man and Mer are not much different.
  • Geldis: This particular Dunmer was as naked as the day he was born and singing badly at the top of his lungs. As I’m watching this spectacle, a Netch floats over the Bulwark towards him. The man looks straight up at the Netch, then yells, ‘Have a drink!’ He tossed the bottle, which never hit the ground.
  • Wulf: I can see where this is heading.
  • Geldis: Well, the bottle broke on the Netch, and it must have swallowed its contents because it started floating tilted. Finally, it stopped and began to quiver. A few moments later, the foulest liquid to assail your nostrils spewed from its maw. I’ve seen plenty of drunks in my day, and I’ll tell you right now that Netch was sick.
  • Wulf: Hence the name.
  • Geldis: That is a true story, friend.
  • Wulf: Second Councillor Adril Arano says you might be able to assist with his deathmark problem.
  • Geldis: Well, well. Adril’s got himself some spies, does he? Azura knows he needs all the help he can get. He’s been chasing the Ulens for years now.
  • Dhali: Do you share Adril’s concerns?
  • Geldis: Yes, but I think he has been doing it wrong.
  • Dhali: And you know a better way?
  • Geldis: If you want to catch those slippery Slaughterfish, you must let them come to you.
  • Wulf: If you leave the analogies aside, perhaps I can learn your superior plan?
  • Geldis: There’s a Ulen Ancestral Tomb near the Temple. Someone’s been leaving Ash Yam offerings on the altar inside. If you were to wait inside for whoever that is, I’m betting they’ll have some of the answers you’re seeking.
  • Wulf: I can do that and remain undetected.
  • Geldis: I would be careful. Rumour is that Ash Spawn are appearing in the tombs.
  • Wulf: I will ask Elder Othreloth if they need help, but not today. However, that rumour gives me an excuse to be inside the Ulen Ancestral Tomb.
  • P’Sua: You will let the visitor know you are there. That will make them worry.
  • Shiva: And when our enemies worry, they make mistakes.
  • Wulf: I might as well ask about rumours while we are here.
  • Geldis: The Redoran Guard spotted a pack of werewolves in the mountains. The hunters up at Frostmoon Crag might know more.
  • Wulf: Wild werewolves?
  • Geldis: I don’t know.
  • Wulf: That is a fair distance. We will investigate but not today.
  • Geldis: Okay, if you’ve got gold on your hands, you might talk to Ralis Sedaris at Kolbjorn Barrow. He is looking for funding to excavate the place.
  • Wulf: You would have to be insane to do that! Kolbjorn Barrow is the tomb of Ahzidal and should not be disturbed!
  • Geldis: Ahh, is this Ahzidal dangerous?
  • Wulf: Extremely. He is at least as dangerous as Miraak, if not more!
  • Geldis: Would there be treasure in the barrow?
  • Wulf: Yes, unless tomb robbers survived and stole them. There should be powerful artefacts guarded by many Draugr who worship Ahzidal. Kolbjorn Barrow is not far, so we shall warn Ralis.
  • Geldis: The coast has been dangerous lately with many reavers about. I’ve heard they’re searching for the treasure of Haknir Death-Brand, the pirate king.
  • Wulf: I would like to gather that treasure for my museum. However, that will also have to wait for another day.
  • Geldis: Well, that is all the gossip I have now.
  • Wulf: Well, my friends will spend coin here while I stake out the tomb.
  • Inigo: That is an excellent idea. I think I shall try some of that Sujamma, Geldis.
  • Geldis: Perhaps you can tell me why you are blue?
  • Inigo: Yes, of course. But my friends have interesting tales as well. They come from Akavir.
  • Geldis: Well, that sounds fascinating.

My friends soon occupied Geldis with banter and various liquors in their hands.

I exited the tavern and went invisible, so nobody saw me walk to or enter the tomb.

I made my way to the back of the tomb where I hid.

I heard somebody else enter about an hour later. My invisibility had worn off, so I carefully peeked at the arrival.

It was a woman who I had seen before browsing the Raven Rock Market. But I had never spoken to her. She wore a costly dress and stood silently before a pile of bones and ash.

I walked towards her. I said, “Oh, excuse me. Please continue. The tomb is safe.”

“The tomb is safe?”

“Where are my manners? I am Wulf Welkynd, Dragonborn and Champion of The Divines. And you are?”

“What are you doing here?”

“Well, currently, I am waiting on common courtesy.”

“I am Tilisu Severin, wife of Vendil Severin and mother of Miri Severin. Now, I ask again, what are you doing here?”

“I have been informed that Ash Spawn are appearing in the burial tombs of Solstheim. Therefore, I thought I would ensure Raven Rock’s tombs were safe. It would be terrible if somebody were killed by an ancestor while leaving an offering to that ancestor!”

“I wouldn’t expect that sort of behaviour from somebody who isn’t Dunmer?”

“Have you been living under a rock?”

“Beg your pardon?”

“My friends and I stopped the Ash Spawn attacks, released everybody from Miraak’s enslavement and cleared the mine of Draugr and Dragon Priests. Why wouldn’t I check the tombs to ensure people’s safety?”

“Oh, I didn’t mean to sound racist. It was a poor choice of words.”

“I will let you get back to your honouring of the dead. It was nice to meet you, Tilisu.”

My sudden appearance flustered Tilisu. I don’t know much about the Severin family except they are wealthy and own the most prominent house in Raven Rock.

When out of Tilisu’s sight, I went invisible again, returned and pickpocketed her. I retrieved a key, but nothing incriminating.

I stayed invisible as I exited the tomb and went to Adril.

I called Adril’s name, and he looked around, confused.

I ended the spell, became visible, and we talked.

“Second Councillor, I witnessed Tilisu Severin making an offering in the Ulen Ancestral Tomb.”

“So Geldis’s plan worked, eh? Every time we tried it, no one would show up. If Tilisu’s involved in any plot to harm Councillor Morvayn, I will need evidence to prove it.”

“Search their house.”

“I’m not kicking down anyone’s door until I have solid evidence. If you’re wrong about Tilisu, things would quickly go downhill around here, and the real culprits might slip away. I can’t afford for that to happen.”

“Can you tell me more about the Severin family?”

“Tilisu is the wife of the family patriarch, Vendil. They have a single child, a daughter named Mirri. They arrived here ten years ago and have been nothing but a benefit to Raven Rock ever since.”

“A benefit? How?”

“They’re quite wealthy, and they’ve been quite generous by sharing their fortune with the community. They’ve contributed coin, food, supplies… even helped repair a few of the buildings in town with their own hands.”

“Is there nothing unusual about them at all?”

“People have mentioned it’s a bit odd about how close in age Mirri appears to be to her father, but that’s hardly a cause for alarm.”

“Like Vilur Ulen, they have gained the trust of the citizens. Why do the Ulens have a tomb in Raven Rock?”

“Vilur Ulen wasn’t the first Ulen to live in Raven Rock. Valin Ulen’s father was one of the first Dunmer to settle here. Unlike his son Vilur, Valin was a good man. He contributed to the community and was quite respected. When Valin died, his family provided the funds to construct the tomb.”

“I am glad to see Dunmer reverence for ancestors is more important than a deceased person’s past.”

“Indeed, the Ulen family being a part of House Hlaalu didn’t matter. As you know, it is Dunmer tradition for the deceased’s ashes to be placed in an ancestral tomb. Valin Ulen and his son’s remains were laid to rest there because that’s what he requested.”

“If you deputise me, I can legally search their house. They won’t see me. That deputation must also allow me to defend myself if attacked.”

“As Second Councillor of Solstheim, I now deputise Lord Welkynd of Skyrim. If attacked while on approved duty, he may defend his life with whatever force is required.”

“Do you want me to search Severin Manor for evidence about a possible plot on Councillor Morvayn’s life?”

“Yes. Here is a key you will need. Make sure that you find solid evidence. If I accuse the Severin family without it, I’ll be the laughingstock of the colony.”

“I assure you, Second Councillor, that if there is evidence, I will find it.”

I took the key and went to an unpopulated part of Raven Rock. I cast Shadow Walk and then made my way to Severin Manor.

Heat Vision showed nobody was inside, so I opened the door using the key. I entered and locked the door.

Severin Manor is quite large, and I carefully checked each room.

I found a safe, and the key I pickpocketed from Tilisu opened it.

Inside were two letters. One aged and the other recently written. Both were in Dunmeri and written on paper with House Hlaalu watermarks. The older letter said,

“The conditions here in Vvandenfell are worsening by the moment. Red Mountain spews a nearly non-stop gout of ash and flame, and I fear I cannot remain much longer. I’ve done what I could to preserve a few relics from the museum, but I have one very vital artefact that I am entrusting to you, dear Vendil. It is a relic that the great saint once held as a prize and one that both saved and doomed Morrowind in the end. I entrust it to you, The Dwemer Wraithguard of Kagrenac. Keep it safe, and once House Hlaalu is again in power, you can display it proudly. Guard it well and ensure it is well hidden in Skyrim.

Torosa Aram, Mournhold.”

Kagrenac’s artefacts are sought after by many. If Lorkhan’s Heart is ever found, The Tools of Kagrenac would be needed to create something from it. To wield the tools safely, The Wraithguard would be required. The Wraithguard must be hidden where people, such as the Hlaalu family, cannot treat it as a trophy for display. Auryen might have some idea of its location.

The newer letter was unsent and meant for a Councillor.

“Dear Councillor Saldin,

In a matter of days, I believe we’ll be ready. Our forces in Ashfallow Citadel have been training night and day, prepared to strike when we give the signal. The timing seems perfect, with Captain Veleth distracted by the Ash Spawn attacks. I’ve waited nearly a decade to exact my revenge upon Lleril Morvayn for the death of my ancestor, and I long for the moment my blade will be drawn across his throat. The following letter from me will include his head in a sack. Display it proudly in the halls of House Hlaalu, brother.

Vendil Ulen”

How stupid are these people? If their forces were supposed to be hidden within Ashfallow Citadel, why were there external sentries who attacked without provocation? Why tell Councillor Saldin where your forces are?

I also suspect they are not real Morag Tong. They would never send assassins that need training! I think Councillor Saldin might find his throat cut if he approved the use of fake Morag Tong.

As I prepared to leave, I heard two females approaching and talking on the other side of a room partition. Heat Vision showed they had weapons drawn.

“Mother, the front door was locked. Maybe we are being a bit paranoid?”

“Mirri, you saw him talking to Aldrin, then he appeared in the tomb, and you saw him talking to Aldrin again. I don’t think it is paranoia. My key to the safe is also missing.”

“Then let us use the Scroll of Recall and warn Father.”

“Perhaps. Let’s check the safe first.”

I snuck past the ladies and deliberately slammed the front door as I exited the house. I wanted them paranoid and worried.

It was interesting they had a Scroll of Recall. Some Dunmer mages may be more advanced in Teleportation magic than I thought.

I ensured I was visible as I walked to the market and talked to Adril.

I handed Adril the letter to Councillor Sadin and said, “Here is your proof, Second Councillor.”

Adril quickly read the letter, and his anger was palpable.

He growled, “We finally have them! All that remains now is chasing them down and bringing them to justice.”

“The Dragonguard and I will deal with them.”

“Good. We sent two of the best Redoran Guards to investigate Ashfallow Citadel, and they have not returned. It is not unknown for the Morag Tong to imprison guards till their writ is complete. Morag Tong killing guards would bring political repercussions they would not welcome.”

“Think about this, Second Councillor. Why would the Morag Tong send more than one assassin? Why would they send assassins that need training? I don’t know Councillor Saldin, but I think his remaining time on Nirn will be short.”

“Good points. House Hlaalu will find senior members culled by the Morag Tong if they do not have a writ and are pretending to be Morag Tong. I will wait in Morvayn Manor for your report.”

I gathered my friends from inside The Retching Netch.

When we exited, an Ash Storm darkened the sky.

I said to my friends, “We are visiting some assassins. We shall teleport to The Sun Stone and walk from there. I will explain more when we are away from here.”

We teleported to The Sun Stone.

  • Wulf: We are to wipe out a nest of assassins in Ashfallow Citadel.
  • Dhali: Are they Morag Tong?
  • Wulf: No, I don’t think they are. I think they are members of House Hlaalu pretending to be Morag Tong.
  • Inigo: That would explain why they attacked us. I doubt Morag Tong would do that.
  • Wulf: The Severin family are imposters. They are Ulen, a part of House Hlaalu. They want to kill Councillor Morvayn in an act of revenge.
  • Dhali: I am sure the politics are complicated, but our task seems straightforward.
  • P’Sua: Do we risk retaliation from the Morag Tong?
  • Wulf: No. If an assassin, or assassins, are incompetent enough to be discovered and killed fulfilling a writ, the Morag Tong will not seek revenge. But I doubt these are real Morag Tong.
  • Inigo: Whoever planned this will be hunted by the Morag Tong.
  • Wulf: Yes. We have the name of one Councillor, but others in House Hlaalu are likely to be culled as a lesson.
  • Dhali: Morrowind politics sounds like fun!

When the stairs leading to Ashfallow Citadel came into view, the armour of Redoran Guards was bright enough to be seen through the gloom.

Zoom Vision showed two slain guards lying on the steps.

I used Heat Vision as we used stealth to approach the nest of assassins.

I used hand signals to indicate one assassin was acting as sentry.

When we got closer, I indicated there was another sentry close by.

The assassin did not see his killer or the arrow that delivered death. However, he did scream as he died.

The other sentry ran to investigate.

She also died without seeing us.

Neither sentry carried a writ.

We entered Ashfallow Citadel and hunted assassins.

I indicated a single sentry ahead.

They died noiselessly.

A bit further on, Heat Vision showed several assassins in the vicinity.

I whispered, “There will be more than I can see from here. I will flush the assassins out, then eliminate them with The Voice.”

I killed one assassin, who cooperated by screaming as my arrow ended their life.

I then fired a few arrows at a lowered portcullis. That produced enough noise to attract guards further away.

Unrelenting Force killed them all when many assassins gathered along the narrow corridor.

We made our way past several portcullises till one stood between the Ulens and us.


There was urgent whispering as panic started amongst the Ulens.

I said to my friends, “There are four of them. Once we lower the last portcullis, I will Blink to Vendil. Run in and eliminate the others.”

We lowered the last portcullis, and I Blinked towards Vendil, but Tilisu stood in my way.

She had some skill but stood no chance. She died, and as her head rolled, I decapitated her husband.

The other two assassins lasted mere seconds as my friends eliminated them.

I searched the bodies and found no writ. One of those dressed as Morag Tong was Mirri.

We did a thorough search of corpses and Ashfallow Citadel before exiting. There was no indication they were real Morag Tong and no writ.

After teleporting to Raven Rock, we went to Morvayn Manor and entered.

Adril and Lleril were seated. I walked toward them and said, “Please stand Second Councillor.”

Adril stood next to me, and Lleril was perplexed.

  • Adril: Well, what happened? Were you able to track down Vendil? Out with it!
  • Dhali: Take my advice, Second Councillor, and be more polite. Lord Welkynd is not a servant or under your command.
  • Adril: Lord Welkynd, please forgive me for my tone.
  • Wulf: My skin is not as thin as Dhali thinks. You have been worrying about your friend and are eager to learn about his safety, so I understand your tone.
  • Adril: So…
  • Wulf: Ashfallow Citadel was full of assassins. We slew them all. Nearly all the assassins, including Vendil and Miri Ulen, were dressed as Morag Tong. The exception was Tilisu Ulen. We did not find a writ or evidence to suggest this was a Morag Tong operation. They were impersonating them.
  • Lleril: Vendil dead? Assassins? And you, Adril, have not worn such a smile for a long time. Will somebody please explain what is going on?
  • Adril: Lord Welkynd and The Dragonguard have dealt with a threat that could have ended your life. Vendil, Tilisu and Mirri Severin weren’t who they appeared to be. I’m afraid they were here to avenge Vilur Ulen’s death.
  • Lleril: Vendil? But he’s done so much work for Raven Rock… how could this be possible?
  • Adril: They did it to gain our confidence, Councillor. They had us all fooled, and I’m sorry. I should have been more vigilant.
  • Lleril: Don’t say that. It’s not your fault, old friend.
  • Wulf: The assassins killed the two Redoran Guards you sent to investigate.
  • Adril: I will inform Captain Veleth, and he can arrange their retrieval.
  • Inigo: None of the assassins had a writ on them. If they were genuine Morag Tong, would they need to carry one by law?
  • Adril: Yes, they would need a writ. Therefore, I agree that Vendil stooped so low that he impersonated those fetchers. I’m glad you killed him.
  • Wulf: I would have preferred not killing anybody.
  • Adril: You’ve succeeded where I’ve failed by ending the threat to Councillor Morvayn’s life. I shall not forget it.
  • Wulf: We did what had to be done.
  • Lleril: What you’ve done for me… for all of Raven Rock… goes beyond what I would have expected from travellers to our town. For this, you have my deepest gratitude.
  • Wulf: It is my duty and privilege to help all mortals. Borders do not count in that regard. Much of what I accomplish is only possible because of the bravery of my friends, The Dragonguard.
  • Lleril: We know you do not like accepting compensation for what you do. But I must reward you appropriately for everything you have done. Since you will not take gold, I’ve decided to provide something more substantial. Since the Severin family, or whoever they were, turned out to be criminals, their property is now forfeit. Therefore, as Councillor, I now gift you Severin Manor and everything within.
  • Dhali: We will graciously accept and thank you.
  • Wulf: Excuse me?
  • Dhali: A house on Solstheim could be useful.
  • Khao: It would be handy for those wishing to holiday here.
  • Wulf: It seems I am outvoted. Therefore I humbly accept your generous gift, Councillor Morvayn.
  • Lleril: As a property owner, you are now legally a citizen of Solstheim.
  • Wulf: I am honoured.
  • Lleril: Crescius and Aphia showed me the proof you found in the mine. Can you explain the events simply so I can start legal proceedings against The East Empire liars?
  • Wulf: The miners broke through to a Nord barrow. Wisely, they informed their overseer, who contacted The East Empire Company. They sent a well-known archaeologist, Crescius’ great-grandfather, Gratian Caerellius, to investigate. The barrow was the burial place of a Dragon Priest and was populated by many powerful Draugr. The East Empire Company should have vacated the mine until the investigation was complete. They failed to do so, and the Draugr slaughtered many miners and killed Gratian. Luckily, Gratian died before releasing Zahkriisos, the Dragon Priest. I killed Zahkriisos so he no longer poses a threat to Solstheim.
  • Adril: The East Empire Company will pay proper repatriation to the families, substantially more than the compensation for death by rockfall. Not all the miners were Mer, so direct relatives would be deceased, but by law, their descendants will get the compensation.
  • Wulf: A large gang of reavers lived in Bloodskal Barrow but could not enter the part inhabited by Zahkriisos. We eliminated the reavers and found bodies of murdered Solstheim citizens within that part of the barrow.
  • Lleril: We shall send a recovery party to recover them. Hopefully, we can identify them for their families.
  • Wulf: You have a lot of paperwork to write, First Councillor.
  • Lleril: Indeed. We shall advertise for miners. Start legal proceedings again The East Empire Company. Place a formal complaint with The Council about the assassination attempt, which will not end well for House Hlaalu. We will need more Redoran Guards as the income of the island increases.
  • Adril: Are you sure they deserve Severin Manor after creating so much paperwork?
  • Wulf: We shall be in Solstheim for another day or so.
  • Lleril: Oh, are there other problems we should know about?
  • Wulf: I know who resurrected General Falx Carius, so we shall pursue that. I don’t know of anything else at this stage. We shall keep you informed of any problems.

When we exited Morvayn Manor, Inigo asked, “Are we going to sleep in Severin Manor tonight?”

“Yes, after I collect new linen from The Safe House. But first, we have an eager archaeologist to visit at Kolbjorn Barrow.”

As we walked past Old Atticus Farm, a mage attacked us.

Khao and I hit her with spells, then we ran and finished her with swords.

She was a lookout for reavers living in a shipwreck. They attacked.

I said, “I think that is The Strident Squall. Cindiri’s book might be in there.”

We scythed our way through a couple of dozen reavers.

Then we searched the shipwreck.

I recovered the 1st Edition of The Lusty Argonian Maid Portfolio from a chest.

We then continued toward the burial place of Ahzidal.

When Kolbjorn Barrow came into view, the sound of a pickaxe could be heard.

  • Wulf: Do any of you know the story of Ahzidal?
  • Inigo: Not me, my friend.
  • Khao: I know the name.
  • Dhali: Tell us so we know why this person is so stupid.
  • Wulf: Okay, I placed many books concerning Solstheim in my Journal Case. I will read you a book that tells Ahzidal’s story up to a point.

I retrieved Ahzidal’s Descent from my journal case and read it to The Dragonguard.

“In the days beyond memory, when men first walked the lands of Skyrim, a great enchanter arose in the city of Saarthal. His gift for magic and artifice had been evident to his tutors as a boy. As a man, his skill surpassed them all. And finding nothing more to learn among his kin, he left his wife and child and set out to train under the elven masters. A year became two, then three. Finally, when his path led him back to Saarthal, he found only ruins. The elves had sacked the city, and all that lived there were dead and gone. Amid the ashes in the smouldering ruins of his home, he swore a terrible oath of vengeance. And from that comes the name the legends gave him: Ahzidal, which means embittered destroyer.

Alone he could do nothing. And so, he bided his time, delving deeper into his art than any mortal before him. From the Dwemer, he learned the seven natures of metal and how to harmonise them. From the Ayleid, the ancient runes and Dawn-Magic that even the elves had begun to forget. He travelled among Falmer, Chimer, and Altmer, taking what he could from each and plotting how he might turn that knowledge against them.

Finally, word reached him of Ysgramor and his Companions who had recently arrived from Atmora. For many days and nights, he rode north and met them as they made landfall on the icy coast near the ruins of Saarthal, which the elves had fortified against them. He offered The Companions his service and all he had produced in his years of labour. And with Atmoran steel imbued with his enchantments, the elves fell before them, and at last, he had his revenge.

But he was not content. His craft had become his life, and his hunger for knowledge still gnawed at him, driving him to delve ever deeper. At long last, he exhausted the lore of the elves, but it was not enough. He sought the secrets of Dragon-runes and won for himself a seat among their high priests, but it was not enough. And at length, he turned his gaze to the planes of Oblivion and found both power and madness there.

Some say he ventured there, never to return. Others say that he was betrayed by his fellow Dragon Priests and killed or driven into hiding amongst the ruins beneath his beloved Saarthal. Among the Skaal of Solstheim, it is said he fled to their island. The Skaal claim Ahzidal was sealed in the depths of Kolbjorn Barrow, together with the last of his relics.

But that is the tale, as it was told among the bards of Winterhold. Whatever the truth, the legend of Ahzidal was intended as a warning: in pursuit of perfection, one must take care that the pursuit itself does not become all-consuming.”

  • P’Sua: And some idiot is trying to break into his tomb?
  • Wulf: Many believe there is great treasure inside. Maybe there is, but undoubtedly there will be many powerful Draugr and Ahzidal.
  • Dhali: Do you think Ahzidal is conscious?
  • Wulf: Undoubtedly. He will be a Lich like all the powerful Dragon Priests. He was one of Miraak’s acolytes, and I assume he was interred after The Jailor defeated them in battle.
  • Dhali: Why didn’t The Jailor destroy him?
  • Wulf: I have no idea. Anything I say would be pure speculation.
  • Shiva: Is there any evidence he is interred in Kolbjorn Barrow?
  • Wulf: It is part of Skaal Oral History, which I regard as accurate. The Nerevarine also entered Kolbjorn Barrow to deal with a problem caused by Ahzidal.
  • Khao: Did Ahzidal fall into Hermaeus Mora’s trap, like many others?
  • Wulf: Yes, but I wonder if he was insane before meeting The Tentacled Turd.
  • Inigo: Could Councillor Morvayn forbid the excavation of Kolbjorn Barrow?
  • Wulf: I don’t think so, but I am not an expert on Morrowind laws.
  • Inigo: Well, hopefully, we can scare the tomb robbers away.

When we reached Kolbjorn Barrow, a lone Dunmer was labouring away at the tightly packed ash and rock. I assumed it was Ralis Sedarys.

We climbed down and waited for him to crawl out of his pit.

  • Wulf: Excuse us, are you Ralis Sedarys?
  • Ralis: Yes.
  • Wulf: I heard you were conducting an archaeological expedition.
  • Ralis: Who told you that? Was it Geldis? I asked that idiot not to …bah. You look mostly honest. It probably can’t hurt to tell you.
  • Shiva: Did you hear that? The Dragonborn looks mostly honest! Who would have thought of that possibility?
  • Ralis: The Dragonborn?
  • Wulf: Yes, I am Lord Welkynd, The Dragonborn. My friends are The Dragonguard.
  • Ralis: I spent days working on one of those stones chanting about someone called Miraak, and it seems you rescued us all from that fate. Forgive me for my abruptness. The excavation is not going as planned.
  • Wulf: Why are you digging up this barrow?
  • Ralis: A financier asked me to come here to obtain some rare antiquities. The ‘Relics of Ahzidal’ he calls them.
  • Wulf: You don’t seem to have got far?
  • Ralis: This whole thing quickly became a disaster. I come from the northern ashlands, so I don’t expect things to go easy. But this has been something outside of my particular expertise. When I first arrived at Kolbjorn Barrow, the name of this wretched place, I couldn’t even see it. Like most other things on the blasted island, it was buried in the ash. I dug out a pile of the stuff taller than me to find the barrow. Who knows how much more I need to remove to reach the door?
  • Wulf: And what is your speciality?
  • Ralis: Excavation isn’t. The ash storms would fill it in faster than I could dig, even if it were.
  • Wulf: I suggest you tell your financier to find somebody else willing to commit suicide.
  • Ralis: What do you mean?
  • Wulf: Ahzidal is a Dragon Priest. He was one of the most powerful mages in history. Now, he is undead, insane, and hates Mer. He will be below waiting for somebody like you to free him from his buried tomb. You will not find treasure, only death, if you insist on excavating this barrow.
  • Ralis: How would you know this? You might want to scare me away and dig for the treasure yourself!
  • Dhali: We carry weapons and armour worth far more than the trinkets inside this barrow! The Dragonborn has a museum in Solitude full of artefacts more valuable than anything inside this barrow.
  • Khao: We are not interested in the treasures inside the tomb. We are interested in saving lives, and not just yours.
  • Wulf: If you release Ahzidal, he will kill you and any other Mer he sees.
  • Ralis: I have already spent every coin my financier gave me, and getting this far involved considerable time and effort.
  • Inigo: Anybody who finances grave robbers can expect to lose money on some enterprises. Even if you continued to dig, there is no guarantee that previous grave robbers have not stripped this barrow bare.
  • Ralis: It is not grave robbing!
  • Wulf: At a guess, your financier expects to sell any artefacts found to private collectors for exorbitant prices. It is grave robbing.
  • Ralis: Well, Ahzidal isn’t using them.
  • Wulf: You will find only death if you open the burial tomb of a Dragon Priest.
  • Ralis: I can go no further without hiring help, and I have no coin. Perhaps it is best if I walk away.
  • Wulf: That would be wise.
  • Ralis: I will speak to my financier and explain the situation. I am sure he will understand.
  • Wulf: You will cease this foolish enterprise?
  • Ralis: Yes, of course. Thank you for explaining what the reality is.
  • Wulf: Don’t soil your pants when we vanish.
  • Ralis: Huh?

I teleported us into the Safe House and gathered clean linen.

We then teleported to Raven Rock and made our way to Severin Manor.

After changing the linen on every bed, we enjoyed a meal cooked by Shiva.

Each bedroom had a spa, and we washed the ash and dust away before retiring.

I know not what time I fell asleep. I know I was yearning for Rigmor’s company and wondering how she was fairing.

8 thoughts on “Solstheim solutions

  1. It was nice, all considered. 😆 as usual, there are very good spots, mostly because of your writing…
    What mod do you use for the ash ? I couldn’t make work the one I chose …
    Thanks again

  2. Yep, I enjoyed reading this as well. It had been some time for this one, are you Ok? Hopefully you were working with Jim on RoT.

      1. Really?
        You’re like a Penny Dreadful for us or one of our favourite tv show episode. We can wait so don’t fret or stress. Take all the time you need and take care!

  3. Sorry to hear that Mark, hope you are feeling better soon. You bought pleasure to my life, I wish I could do the same for you.

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