Monday, August 3, 2015

Oblivion Day 31 - Counter-Assault on Oblivion, Part 6

28 Heartfire, 3E433
Bravil
~~~

Today was largely spoken for already, with three Gates to close and a hidden cultist in Bravil to unmask. My first task was to ease the city's worry by closing the Gate that obliterated the watchtower ruin.
The Gate led me nowhere I had not seen before, but the denizens within were significantly more powerful and well-equipped than I have been accustomed to. I fought three Dremora who were armed with long blades, powerful spells, and upon investigation of their bodies, enchanted rings and amulets to further boost their prowess and my wealth.

With Bravil's Gate safely closed, I turned my attention to the two nearby Gates that I had found on either side of the road north of the city. This seems to be the pattern: one Gate opened very close to the city and two opened some distance away, perhaps to serve as passages for a rearguard or flanking force.

The Gate on the east side of the road led me to the familiar Plane with the two small towers and their locks connecting to the tower holding the Sigil Stone. Fortunately this Gate was not nearly as well guarded as Bravil's Gate had been and I fought my way through Scamps and Clannfear until I unlocked the bridge to the large tower and claimed the second Stone of the day.
That left me with one more Gate to close northwest of the city in some forest.
The third Gate was unremarkable save for an Elven mace I found lying next to a completely burned corpse. Never one to be squeamish around profit I took the mace, intending to enchant and sell it later in the week. This Gate too was closed with no problems.

My final order of business wound up resolving itself. As I rode back to town from the last Gate I thought about how to find Bravil's cultist. I anticipated spending several days in the city before meeting with any sort of result and stepped through the city gate completely unawares.

The whipping sound of summoning magicka alerted me that something was wrong as soon as I stepped inside Bravil. Still trying to register what was happening, I looked to my left at the charging form of a Mythic Dawn agent, mace raised and ready. The cultist, an Altmer her shocked neighbors identified as Ranaline, appeared to have been laying in wait just inside the gate.
The guards arrived to take the body away and one of them stopped to tell me that the re-building of Kvatch was soon to begin, as the last of the Daedra embedded in the wreckage had been destroyed. Good news for a change, I suppose, but the rest of the province is still under the same threat Kvatch was.

Tomorrow I shall spend a day in Bravil to solve the mystery of Ursanne Loche's missing husband, a task I guiltily remembered taking on the last time I was in town, possibly over a week ago. I do hope the man has managed to look after himself this whole time. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Oblivion Day 30 - Counter-Assault on Oblivion, Part 5

27 Heartfire, 3E433
Anvil
~~~

I woke this morning the hero of Anvil, receiving congratulations and even an offer to purchase a cheap manor in the city itself.  But Anvil is too far away from everything else for me to consider buying a house here and I had a lot that needed to be done today.

First on my list was to lighten myself of the Sigil Stones I have been collecting. I can transfer the magicka stored within each stone to enchant something, though I cannot be sure of what enchantment my item will receive until the process is done. Any enchantment is more valuable than no enchantment at all, so I have been carrying around the potential to make quite a bit of money.

This morning I visited Anvil's blacksmith and surprised him by purchasing all of his weapons. Thus burdened I staggered back to the Mages Guild with the large and very heavy sack of equipment and dumped them on the street in front of the Guild. Then, one by one, I matched a weapon with a Stone and soon had a pile of weakly enchanted bows, swords, and axes. The blacksmith, a Dunmer named Varel Morvayn, was even more surprised to see me return with his wares enchanted and for sale back to him. Varel eagerly bought back every enchanted weapon at considerable cost to himself, enriching me by several thousand Septims. I partially spent my new wealth at the Mages Guild for lessons in casting Illusion spells and to identify the amulet I found in Oblivion, which is just as valuable as I hoped: it will reflect a portion of an enemy's spell against them. Very useful!

That concluded my first order of business, finding the hidden agent of the Mythic Dawn cult was the second. With its constant flow of nearly anonymous sailors in and out Anvil's waterfront would serve as an excellent place to get a menial job while keeping one's identity a secret.
I noticed that an Altmer was pacing along the deck of one of the ships, apparently yelling and complaining to herself about something. As I walked by the ship's dock she called out to me saying that I looked like an adventurous, brave sort of person. Naturally.

Her name was Varulae and the problem was a deceptively simple one: In the holds of the ship lay her family's heirloom, a crystal ball. The catch was that the entire hired crew had been murdered overnight in a manner which left their spirits angrily floating about the lower decks, preventing Varulae from getting the crystal ball herself. My task of course was to descend into the ship, banish the hostile spirits, and retrieve the heirloom.

The spirits were actually Wraiths, souls of people killed unjustly enough for their anger to manifest into a spectral being bent on killing everyone else. The sailors' deaths must have been foul indeed, for there were many Wraiths aboard the ship, each wielding a sailor's cutlass and flinging frost magicka at me. Individually they were not particularly strong and the close confines of the ship meant not having to fight more than one at a time, so I had little difficulty in putting the spirits to rest and retrieving the Varulae's treasure.

My reward was a cutlass of my own, grimly enchanted to drain the life of any creature struck by the blade. I also kept one of the Wraiths' cutlasses to enchant with a Sigil Stone at a later date. A seaport town like Anvil would find many buyers for such a weapon.

I continued to prowl about the waterfront for any rumors of new residents and heard that there was a boarding house appropriately named 'The Forecastle' that catered exclusively to sailors' requirement for temporary lodging between voyages. I suspected that a sailor might be the perfect cover for a cultist and I was right.

She attacked as soon as I entered the boarding house, summoning the typical Mythic Dawn attire upon herself while rushing me with a mace. The rest of the sailors scrambled out of her way and during the ensuring chaos one of them accidentally tripped the cultist, sending her sprawling. A blow from Varulae's cutlass ended her life. On her body was a copy of 'Commentaries, Volume I'.
By then it was only early in the afternoon, so I figured I may as well go back to Skingrad in preparation for the trip to Bravil. The trip was uneventful save for a foolish bandit who was wielding a rather rare Dwemer dagger, which I am keeping for now.

When I arrived at Skingrad it seemed as though I might have been able to make it to Bravil before the night grew too long, but that wound up not happening.
Someone with a cruel sense of humor had opened a Gate directly over a small graveyard of Skingrad's, uprooting caskets and destroying the surrounding landscape. The plane of Oblivion the Gate sent me to was the smallest and easiest of any of the ones I have visited and aside from fighting a new type of well-equipped Dremora nothing about it surprised me.
Despite the time I spent closing the Gate I chose to push onwards towards Bravil, even though it meant arriving some time after midnight. On my way I found two more Gates in the trees near Bravil but they will be taken care of tomorrow.

Bravil's own Gate was not opened over a shrine, but instead over the decrepit remains of an ancient watchtower.
Extra guards were stationed at the city gate and the Captain there assured me that if Daedra started to pour out of the Gate they would be ready to meet them. After what happened to Kvatch I have my doubts, but I am sure an alarm would at least be raised in time, if nothing else.

For tonight I am trusting the guards' vigilance and renting a bed at 'Silverhome on the Water'. Tomorrow I have three Gates I need to close, quite a large order, but I am sure that I am up to the task, for if I am not then no one is.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Oblivion Day 29 - Counter-Assault on Oblivion, Part 4

25 Heartfire, 3E433
Anvil
~~~

As I have been doing lately, I woke very early in the morning to give myself enough time to ride from Skingrad to Anvil while also leaving extra time for any Gates encountered on my way. I anticipated finding many Gates around the ruined city of Kvatch, but as I passed the blackened city only one Gate made an appearance along the road.
The Gate led me to the smaller world which required that I stumble around a gradually ascending cave system which led to the plane's Tower, fighting Scamps and Clannfear the entire way. Waking up early paid off though, for when I stood before the destroyed Gate it was still early in the morning, though the sun had risen. As I trudged back up the hill towards the road I heard the sounds of combat in front of me. By the time I got to the road it was already over; a Legionnaire was standing over the bodies of the Scamps the Gate's destruction had driven away. He greeted me cordially and told me that the Legion was sending what troops it could spare to the locations of known Gates, not to close them, but to slay the Daedra as they emerged. That takes a little of the burden off of my shoulders, though it will do nothing to stop additional Gates from emerging.

A second Gate lay on a hill overlooking the city and must have been quite a sight for the city's residents at night. This is keeping with what I have already seen: two or three Gates opened close to each city by cultists stationed within the cities.
Curiously this gate also led to the same world as the Gate near Kvatch did, only somehow with the Clannfear, Scamps, and Dremora alive and well. I suppose it is possible that each Gate is connected to a separate, tiny piece of Oblivion instead of a few select locations as I originally suspected, but whatever the case I still had to fight my way through the caves for a second time today.

I have been noticing as of late that my reserve of Magicka energy has been regenerating itself. At first it was a slow thing and I thought little of it, but now I can cast a simple Illusion spell and feel just as refreshed in a few minutes as if I had slept for several hours. I can only assume this has something to do with Dagoth Ur's so-called "Divine Disease" and is a secret I will be very sure to keep to myself.

Closing Anvil's Gate turned out to be a very profitable venture for me. On the body of one Dremora I found an amulet enchanted powerfully enough that I cannot determine what it actually will do when worn. The local Mages Guild will be able to tell me what the enchantment is and it will be quite powerful, whatever it is.

Like Skingrad's gate, Anvil's was opened over a shrine, utterly destroying it.
The Gate itself was nothing special and night had fallen by the time it was destroyed. The gate guards had watched me charge into the Gate and gratefully let me in despite the late hour. Only guards were walking around inside, so I went to the Mages Guild where one of the members congratulated me on eliminating the threat to the city. 

No one else was awake, so I have secured an empty bed and will spend a day or so in Anvil before riding all the way to Bravil. One of the things I will be seeking to do at each city is to try to root out the cultists that have been opening the gates. The brazen attack on myself at Skingrad proves that they are still here, I just need to find a way to bring them to me.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Oblivion Day 28 - Counter-Assault on Oblivion, Part 3

24 Heartfire, 3E433
Skingrad
~~~

I woke very early again, intending to finally make it to Skingrad before dawn broke. Having closed three gates around Chorrol I felt confident that the journey between the two cities would be relatively peaceful.

Skingrad's Oblivion Gate was on the side of the road, obliterating a shrine it had been opened on top of. Clannfear were sauntering out of the Gate as I dismounted and approached on foot.
Clannfear are easily dealt with so long as you remember to sidestep their initial charge. Having their target seemingly disappear from in front of them momentarily confuses them and allows for a strike at their unarmored backs.

The Gate was the smaller one with the two small towers connecting to the one large one after unlocking the bridge locks atop the small towers. It was weakly defended and I quickly claimed another Sigil stone, closing the Gate and temporarily securing the city of Skingrad.

As I stepped inside the city I was accosted by an Orc who congratulated me on closing the Gate. He was not the only one either. The proprietor of the local alchemy shop, a Dunmer with the telling name of Falanu Hlaalu also thanked me for closing the Gate, then asked me if I knew what the punishment for necrophilia was. I had to admit I did not and she seemed a bit irritated by this. I hesitate to speculate why.

Strange interests aside, she had an excellent selection of potions and I spent quite a sum on twenty flasks of healing draught of various potency. They will surely come in handy for the Gates I no doubt have yet ahead of me.

I left Skingrad without much expectation that I would be able to reach Anvil without incident. I was correct. I had ridden for only a few minutes before two Oblivion gates loomed before me on either side of the road.
Both Gates were both strongly guarded and every floor of every tower felt like it was teeming with Dremora. In one room of a tower within the second Gate I faced three of the armored Dremora at once, dispatching them only after a punishing melee.
When I finally emerged from the second Gate it was far too dark to ride any further, so I retired back to Skingrad and took a room at the West Weald Inn. It proved to be a fateful decision. As I was walking into my room a Mythic Dawn assassin burst out of one of the adjacent rooms, swinging a two-handed sword.
The woman looked to be a resident of the town and the Gates were likely her doing. This was the first assassination attempt made against me and I do not think it will be the last. If the Mythic Dawn 'Commentaries' volume is anything to go by then I suspect that each town has at least one agent within it to open the Gates and subvert any attempts to close them. I shall have to be on higher guard following today's attempt, but I will not let it deter me from doing what needs to be done.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Oblivion Day 27 - Counter-Assault on Oblivion, Part 2

23 Heartfire, 3E433
Chorrol
~~~

The morning started out very early, 2AM, just so that I would have more than enough time to reach Skingrad before the day was out. It was a notion born of hope and desperation given the number of Gates that have been opening.

I may have closed the gate immediately outside Chorrol, but I was not more than ten minutes into my ride to Skingrad when I came upon another Gate.
Annoyingly, the area the Gate led me to required that I descend into a series of caves and work my way through them, eventually ending up back outside and in front of the tower holding the Sigil Stone. Khajiit are not cave-dwellers and I felt as though the earth was closing in on me as I fought through Scamps and Clannfear. The oppressive red light emitting from every carved surface certainly did not help. My anxiety was soothed somewhat by finding a robe powerfully enchanted with a Shield enchantment, but it is a pity the robe itself is cheap and uncomfortable and not likely to replace the red velvet garments I wear now.

As I wrote yesterday, the garrisons within Oblivion have been getting stronger. I faced three Dremora at once in the Sigil room, one well-armed and armored, one not so much, and one was a mage of some kind.
By the time I found myself back in Cyrodiil it was late in the morning, but I still had enough time to get to Skingrad before dark. So naturally I came upon a second Gate only a few minutes ride past the one I had just closed.
This Gate led me to the small world with the two towers that each held a lock at the top of them, which unlocked a bridge to the main tower where the Sigil stone was held. It was not as heavily guarded as the first Gate was, but I did encounter my first Flame Atronach in many years within this Gate.
Unfortunately it was late into the evening when I left the second Gate, much too late to ride to Skingrad, especially if there were even more Gates ahead of me. So I have returned to Chorrol with the hope that I will be able to be in Skingrad tomorrow and close its Gate.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Oblivion Day 26 - Counter-Assault on Oblivion, Part 1

22 Heartfire, 3E433
Chorrol
~~~

"Modern Heretics" was less helpful than I had been hoping for. It did provide the location of Azura's shrine, but neglected the other Princes save for the advice to ask wandering woodsman if they knew of a shrine's location. At any rate, I think I am not yet ready to curry the favor of a Daedric Prince, but I certainly am ready to thwart the attempts of one to conquer the province.

While leaving Bruma I happened to find a Daedric shrine of my own, this one dedicated to Namira. What little I know of Namira is that she is known as the 'Lady of Decay' and is associated with bugs and beggars. Something like that. She found no worship in Morrowind that I can remember, but she appears more popular in Cyrodiil, with three worshipers tending to the shrine as I approached.
They were a curt, unfriendly bunch and I did not bother to ask them about their shrine or any others. Continuing towards Chorrol I stopped along the road to speak with an Imperial soldier who angrily declared that his post was patrolling the roads and not assaulting the Gates that each city now warily boasted. I assured him that I was going to Chorrol with the intention of entering the city's Gate and closing it and he wished me luck before continuing on what likely seemed like a pointless task. Still, there are many who depend on the roads and keeping them safe is no small feat, even if it seems like that is not successfully being done any longer.

Chorrol's Gate was conveniently wedged inside of a ruined tower just outside of the city, but no Daedra were wandering outside of it as I expected. Perhaps the guards or other adventurers had already taken care of them. Unhindered, I stepped through the gate, confident that I would find nothing unusual beyond it.

I did not. This gate sent me to the larger of the Oblivion planes with numerous gates that needed a visit to each of the small towers in order to open. Once the gates were open I gained entrance to the larger tower, fought my way to the top, and claimed another Stone, closing the gate. The garrisons are definitely getting more difficult. This gate hosted Scamps far larger than the ones I have been facing so far as well as Clannfear and Dremora much more impressively armed. Still, I had no great difficulty, but I fear it will only become increasingly difficult as my enemy's desperation or confidence grows.
Everyone I spoke with in Chorrol thanked me to an almost embarrassing amount for closing the Gate. The guards were especially shameless in their thanks, for it almost fell on them to descend into the Gate. Inexperienced as they are, I do not think they would have met with success. I accepted Seed-Neeus's offer of a few techniques for better bartering and spent three hours under her instruction learning these "few" techniques. 

I have since retired to the Mages Guild, well after everyone else has gone to sleep. Tomorrow I shall be resuming my journey around the entire province (for a second time!), but at least I can console myself that my reason now is less self-serving.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Oblivion Day 25 - Delivering the Mysterium Xarxes

21 Heartfire, 3E433
Cloud Ruler Temple
~~~


Things continue to escalate, seemingly out of control. My discovery yesterday of the Mythic Dawn's secret hide-away and the knowledge that my battle will have to continue into a third Realm outside of my own and Oblivion has already been over-shadowed by today's revelations, but I have no other course but forwards.

My first stop this morning was the Oblivion gate I found last night. It was a small Plane with the two small towers and the single large one and I anticipated a quick closure.
What I did not anticipate was the failure of my blade. While fighting my way through the second small tower the blade became detached from the hilt, making it utterly useless. Fortunately the Scamp I had been fighting broke my blade when I delivered the fatal blow, so I was able to sweep up the pieces and secure them in my satchel, hoping to have it repaired later. 

But this left me in a quandary, for now I had no weapon at all. I wound up nervously improvising with a mace I back-tracked to which had belonged to a Dremora I had slain. Fighting with a mace was not by choice, but it was still better than fighting with my bare claws.

It also almost led to my death. The Enemy has definitely been bolstering his Oblivion garrisons, for not only have I fought more Clannfear today, but I fought with and defeated what must be a higher ranking Dremora clad in armor I have never seen before.
Desperation lent me strength and I brutally bludgeoned the Dremora to death, taking several blows of my own in the process. If I had been unarmed I would not have survived and I claimed the Plane's stone in no condition to venture into another Gate so far armed. Naturally I rode past another Gate while riding to Bruma and noted this one down in my map as well for later attention.
The greenery of Cyrodiil gradually gave way to the grey of the mountains as I got closer to Bruma and I was relieved to arrive without finding any more Oblivion gates spewing evil into the land. Most of the day was already gone by then, but I had business in Bruma that could not wait, the first being my equipment. I stopped by the local blacksmith and negotiated the purchase of a well-made steel long blade and backup dagger in exchange for my broken short sword and two hundred Septims. The short blade was enchanted, but quite simply it was just too short for my comfort and I greatly appreciate the greater length of the blade I am wielding now after the desperate fighting with my mace.

As I left the shop a man came running up to me and announced himself as Tolgan, herald to Countess Narina of Bruma. He extravagantly exclaimed that the Countess had requested my presence at the earliest convenience. I had time, so I detoured to the castle to find out what she was going to request of me.
The Countess of Bruma is a collector of Akaviri relics and boasted one of the most complete collections in Cyrodiil, except for one artifact, the Draconian Madstone. I had never heard of such a thing before today and the Countess explained that it was a stone talisman that would protect the wearer from poisons when worn like an amulet. Through her sources, she learned that the Madstone was at some ruins beyond the trail leading north into the mountains that I am actually familiar with. Should I succeed in retrieving the Draconian Madstone I will receive an Akaviri relic of some use. It sounds like an interesting diversion and one I will be sure to take up soon.

I was stopped by Jauffre as soon as I ascended the steps towards the fortress. He immediately pointed out that I did not have the Amulet of Kings upon me, but I soothed his worry by presenting my stolen Mysterium Xarxes. It was not what he had been hoping for, but Jauffre recognized the evil book as a possible weapon against Mehrunes Dagon and hurried me on to Martin.

Martin was still busily studying his books when I walked into the Great Hall but jumped out of his chair when I proceeded to withdraw the Mysterium Xarxes from my bag. He exclaimed that just handling the book was dangerous and was relieved to see that I had not been so stupid as to try reading it, for I would have gone insane instantly, at least according to him.
Martin was confident that he would be able to safely read the book and hoped to find a way to use it to open a portal of his own to Camoran's hiding place and therefore the Amulet of Kings. While he settled back down to his studies he asked that I speak to Jauffre about two suspicious people that had been seen prowling about the road for the past several nights.

Jauffre suspected that the individuals were Mythic Dawn spies sent to probe the Cloud Ruler Temple for weaknesses. This was doubly alarming, for it meant that they obviously knew of the heir's existence and location and I was tasked with eliminating this potential leak of information. So I set a trap of my own: the two always stopped at a painted stone along the road and I decided to wait for them there. If they proved themselves to be agents of the cult, then I hoped my sudden assault would kill the both of them without much warning.

Springing my trap required that I remain near the stone motionless, in the cold, for several hours. It was a very boring thing, but it paid off. As dusk approached I heard the sound of at least two people walking up the path towards me and the Temple. A Dunmer and Redguard came into view, stopped at the Stone, and began talking about my raid on the Mythic Dawn cavern! Clearly these two were the spies I had been waiting for and I sprung from my hiding place in the bushes and charged at them, long sword at the ready. I caught them completely unawares.
On each body was a key with a tag labeled 'Basement'. Somewhere in Bruma there was a Mythic Dawn base and I guessed the Captain of the Guard would be the best person to approach regarding the matter.

The first thing he said to me proved a shock: Oblivion Gates had opened outside each city! I thought the one outside of Leyawiin to be a fluke, but apparently the other cities are now suffering the same proximity, necessitating perhaps a journey identical to the one I committed to while trying to gain access into the Arcane University.

The second thing said was relevant to my current issue. He identified one of the spies as a citizen named 'Jearl' and authorized me to search her home for further evidence of her involvement with the Mythic Dawn cult. Like all good villains the evidence was found in the basement.
On a desk was a scroll from someone in the Mythic Dawn congratulating Jearl on her success in opening a gate outside of Chorrol and instructing her to move to Bruma in order to spy on the Cloud Ruler Temple so that the Blades could be eliminated for good. The letter talked about something called a 'Great Gate' which was talked of at a higher priority than three of what I assume are "lesser" gates. My own suspicion was confirmed when I read that the smaller gates are easily opened and re-opened after their closing, making my quest to eliminate the gates just as important as it apparently is futile. Amusingly, the letter closed with a warning not to engage the agent responsible for Martin's escape from Kvatch, as this person is "...not to be trifled with." Indeed!

Jauffre was predictably pleased with their deaths and even more-so by the acquisition of the Enemy's plans, at least part of them. Martin had already made progress with the Mysterium Xarxes and had discovered that four elements are needed to open a portal to Oblivion, one of which he was able to identify as "blood of a Daedric lord". He interpreted this to mean that a Daedric artifact would be required for the ritual and asked that I simply go out and get him one.

These artifacts are not found easily, nor granted lightly. Only service to a Daedric Prince can result in these gifts and according to the histories the artifacts never seem to stay with one person for very long. Martin referred me to the "Modern Heretics" in the Temple's library to aid me in my acquisition of such a thing. But it was too late for reading and I visited the west wing of the Temple so that I might find some place to sleep instead.

Tomorrow I need to review my plans. Gates right outside each city is a drastic threat, but claiming a Daedric artifact may be the only way to really stop this invasion. I am torn between two priorities and I wish there were somehow two of me to attend to everything. Three or more would be better. I can only take things a day at a time the best I can and hope that everything I do aids, in some way, against the forces of Oblivion.