Monday, May 25, 2015

Oblivion Day 4 - Assault Upon Weynon Priory

31 Last Seed, 3E433
Weynon Priory
~~~

After a grueling day yesterday which started the day before, I was prepared only to sleep after the battle for Kvatch. I curled up on my bedroll before dusk yesterday and woke this morning with the moon still high over the horizon.
I woke my ward and we cautiously moved out of the camp and to the road leading through Skingrad and back to the monastery. Leaving early wound up being a good choice and we arrived at Skingrad just as the sun was beginning to rise. My man thought it a good idea to purchase horses to make the trip quicker and I agreed, but the price the Skingrad stable-master was asking was far too steep for my pockets, so it was on our own pairs of feet that we crossed through the city and proceeded towards the monastery.

We came upon the cave with the skulls in front of it that I passed two days ago and I decided that we had made good enough time to afford me to keep my vow. My ward did not want to follow me into the cave, so he stayed outside while I gently eased the door open and crept inside.

The cave looked to have been a silver mine at one point and I even was able to pry a few nuggets of silver from veins along the cavern wall, but it had also been overrun by goblins and I had my work ahead of me in clearing them all out, just like the last time I was in this province, so very long ago. There was not much of interest in either the goods I found or the battles there that I fought, so let it suffice for me to write here that I won the day (of course), cleared the mine of goblins, made the road a little safer, and was back outside and walking towards the monastery just before what may have been supper time.

I began to regret my decision to clear out the old mine when it started to grow dark while we were still on the road. By the time we finally could see the monastery it was at the limit of our night-vision, for it was very late into the evening. I heard the sound of someone rapidly approaching and motioned for both of us to hide on the side of the road, but I recognized the figure running towards us as one of the groundskeepers of the monastery.

With barely a pause in to his retreat he breathlessly babbled that the monastery was under attack by strange, robed figures that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. This sounded familiar, so I and my ward charged into the monastery, engaging three men dressed in the same garb as the Emperor's assassins. They fell quickly, but not before one of the monks lay dead before them. Sounds of fighting could be heard from the chapel, so I ran there, only to find that Jauffre managed to dispatch four assassins all his own.

He suspected the true aim of the attack was to steal the Amulet of Kings, but he was confident that it was safe in the secret room he had hidden it in. However, after thoroughly searching the room we had to face the unfortunate truth: the enemy, whomever they are, was now in possession of the Amulet. On the other hand, I did deliver the true heir safely to Jauffre, so we did have that going for us.

But the monastery was no longer safe. The heir and I are now to travel to a fortress near Bruma which serve as the headquarters of the Empire's Blades. It is likely the safest place in the entire Empire right now, but Bruma is no short distance away. I need  to rest before rushing off yet again to another possible enemy ambush. Tomorrow, just like this morning, I will set out early for Bruma and this secret fortress of the Blades. Perhaps afterwards I will finally have some time for myself.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Oblivion Day 3 - Attack on Kvatch

30 Last Seed, 3E433
Kvatch
~~~

I woke this morning in Skingrad fully expecting to walk into Kvatch, speak with the person I had been sent to retrieve, and suffer their presence on the long walk back to the monastery. Why I thought it would be this easy is beyond me.

On my way out of Skingrad a Bosmer urgently whispered that he and I had important business to discuss behind the chapel after midnight tonight, but I did not agree with this statement. Undeterred, he promised to be on time and scampered away. Soon after, a guard warned me about becoming involved with their resident 'eccentric' Wood Elf and I assured him I had no designs about cooperating with the crazy person.

The road between Skingrad and Kvatch were crawling with bandits and I killed four of them in just over an hour. At the time I thought the banditry to be the worst sign of the declining fortunes of the province, but events of the latter day would prove this entirely laughable.



As I approached Kvatch I noticed that the city was completed devoid of greenery. What trees were visible were bare and the ground around the city walls was scorched and devoid of life. Worried, I jogged the rest of the way up the curving road to the city, only to be met by a panicky Altmer urging me to get to abandon the city before the city's guardsmen were overwhelmed, though by what he apparently could not bring himself to say. Having warned me, he continued down the hill, running the entire way.
I got the full, much calmer story from a Redguard named 'Boldon' staying at a makeshift camp closer to the city. Portals had suddenly opened up throughout the town during the night, spilling forth Daedra that immediately cut down the surprised defenders and set fire to Kvatch, nearly burning the entire settlement to the ground, with great loss of life.

An older priest was wandering the camp, ranting that the Imperial line was dead and the "Covenant" was broken, allowing the Enemy, Lord Dagon, to return to this plane. It seemed the ranting of a madman until I started further up the hill to meet with what remained of the Guard.
It was a depressingly familiar experience.. Thunder suddenly rolled in, the sky darkened to blood-red, and sheets of purple lightning snaked overhead. Such an experience might have terrified another Khajiit, but I felt oddly comforted by the hellish horizon. It was as if an old friend decided to stop by and say hello.

The ranking guardsman was an Imperial, Captain Savlian Matius. The refugees had nothing but praise for the man and after speaking with him for a few moments I realized their devotion was entirely justified. The man had anger, fortitude, and skill with a blade, all three of which made him the Man of the Hour, so far as the citizens of Kvatch were concerned. He and three other guards were all that stood between a giant, flaming gate from which Imps poured out of and the defenseless refugees below.

Savlian lamented that he had no way to strike back at the enemy with the giant fiery portal blocking the city gate, so on an impulse, I offered to go into the portal and destroy it from within. He was surprised, sardonically pointing out that he was not in a position to refuse assistance even if it likely meant my death. He had sent several soldiers into the portal a few hours ago, but none had returned.
The land waiting for me was what I would have expected from the Plane of Oblivion: lava, heat, air that could barely be breathed, and a dead, barren soil saturated with the ruins of buildings and servants of Lord Dagon.
A body lay in front of me so badly burned that identification was impossible, the man's weapons and armor fused to his body in what must have fortunately been an instant, painless death. One man managed to escape death, Ilend Vonius, but he was far more interested in getting back to the barricade than he was in helping me shut down the portal. I cannot blame him, I do not believe descending into the Plane of Oblivion is typically what a guardsman expects to face during any given day. He babbled that one of the guards had been captured and dragged into a large tower and I promised to see if I could save the man. I sent him back to Savlian so that the Captain would know I had arrived safely and to save Ilend's life, for he did not seem capable of fighting any longer.

Oblivion was not quite as dangerous as I thought it might be. Outside the towers my foes were entirely Scamps and small ones at that. They flung fireballs at me inaccurately and even in melee proved to be easy opponents.

Courtesy of the ruins and the sparse amount of solid land, I seemed stuck to be walking in a spiral towards a pair of towers, one of which Ilend said one of the guards had been sent to.
As I approached the towers I was given a fine view of the bridge leading from them to the portal. The architecture was simple and effective, allowing large numbers of soldiers to march from within the towers to the portal in short order. It is no wonder the sleepy people of Kvatch had no chance against such an invasion. If the Enemy ever becomes coordinated, hundreds of these portals could discharge millions of Daedra in a matter of hours, overwhelming not only Cyrodiil but the whole Empire.
The entrance to the first tower was only guarded by a single Dremora archer, an old foe I was well-accustomed to fighting and defeating. The tower was more strongly garrisoned with Dremora in place of the outside's small Scamps, but I never encountered more than one Dremora at a time, so I had no trouble, even with my cheap long blade.

I found the missing solder, Menien Goneld, at the top of the smaller of the two towers in a room reachable by a precarious bridge joining the towers together. He was guarded only by a single Dremora, which had a key Menien said would unlock a chamber in the main tower that had something in it that would close the portal. I could find no way to free the man from his iron cage, but he insisted I leave him behind, as every moment the gate was open meant more Daedra could pour into the world. I agreed, but with a heavy heart. I did not like leaving him there, but I still maintain hope that closing the portal somehow freed him from the hellish Plane.

The chamber the key unlocked had another single Dremora, but also a sphere of some unknown material spinning at an incredible speed within a curl of fire. Nothing else in the room could have been it, so I assumed the sphere was the key to destroying the portal. With no idea what to do with it, I smacked it with my blade. Then the world exploded and a bright flash blinded me.
When I could see again (probably seconds later) I was standing in front of the gate of Kvatch between two stone pillars which remained to mark the former portal to Oblivion.
Savlian was overjoyed at the prospect of leading a charge back into the ruined city and asked that I come with them given that I had the most combat experience out of any of his men. I agreed and without further fanfare, charged into the city alongside the guardsmen.

The initial battle was brief and fiery, five Imperials and a Khajiit versus eight Scamps. We won the day with no loss to our side and were able to enter the chapel where my man of interest had taken refugee alongside the rest of the massacre's survivors.
Savlian gloated that we had completely wiped the bastards out, but conceded that the battle would grow increasingly difficult as we drew closer to the castle. He ordered the guards that had been in the chapel to escort the civilians to the refugee camp, then return to join the assault on Castle Kvatch. While we waited, a troop of Imperial Legion soldiers presented themselves to assist with the battle, having seen the smoldering city while on patrol between Skingrad and Anvil.

We hewed our way towards the castle through dozens of Scamps before finding that the portcullis was locked. The only way into the castle then was to lead a small party from the chapel, through an underground passage, and into the castle's guardhouse. Naturally, I was chosen to lead this party, but we did not fight anything that did not fall quickly and soon the full remainder of the Kvatch garrison was engaged in battle within the castle courtyard.

It was in this battle that we had our first causaulties: an Imperial Legion soldier and two guardsmen, but the enemy paid dearly for their deaths, losing more than a dozen of their number before we reached the entrance into the castle itself. One of the Legionnaires offered me the fallen man's steel long blade, a weapon superior to my own. I gratefully accepted, oddly pleased at this small gesture of respect.



The battle inside of the castle was more difficult, the quarters more cramped, and the Scamps significantly larger and stronger. Still, through teamwork and the skill of the Legionnaires we prevailed without further loss of life, only to discover that we were too late, the Count of Kvatch was dead. Savlian and the guards were waiting at the entrance to of the castle, so I and the Legionnaires returned to them bearing the late Count's signet ring. Savlian accepted the news well, thanking me for returning the ring for the next Count and rewarding me with his own armor, stating that he was done fighting for the rest of his life.

The man whose existence in Kvatch was the entire reason for my coming was back at the refugee camp. As a priest, he did not understand why he should follow me away from his own people and refused to leave the camp until he was sure everyone there was being taken care of. 

Having not slept now in over twenty-four hours, I had not the energy to argue nor make the trip back to the monastery anyway. So I am spending the night in the camp and we will be returning to the monastery tomorrow, whether he likes it or not.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Oblivion Day 2 - Beware What Ye Summon

28 Last Seed, 3E433
Skingrad
~~~

I awoke early this morning amused to find that, now free, I am resuming the schedule I held in Morrowind years ago. Which is to say: I woke at roughly six in the morning as the monks were finishing breakfast and preparing to go about their daily tasks.

My goal was the town of Kvatch, where I would find a person of interest to Jauffre. This person does not know they are of interest, so it was up to me to convince the man to leave the town and join me in walking back to the monastery.

But before I did anything of the sort, I needed better equipment. Chorrol was right outside the monastery, so I waited for the gates to open and walked into my first city in six years. The experience was a bit underwhelming, but I did learn that some madman had attacked the congregation in Anvil's chapel, leading others to start loudly proclaiming that the end of the world was at hand. I am sure the Anvil city guards can deal with such a problem.

A better weapon was needed before I set out to Kvatch, but the blacksmith's shop completely lacked anything even resembling a spear. I suppose that's just as well, for I am six years out of practice in wielding any sort of weapon and wound up choosing a simple iron long sword instead. I probably have just as much skill with a long blade at this point as with a spear.

Thus armed and somewhat armored, I left the small town and started the trek down the road towards Skingrad and Kvatch. The walk and weather afforded me a beautiful view of the Imperial City, though I am not comfortable with the thought of visiting it quite yet, being the escaped convict that I am.
As if to ruin to the moment, a yell sounded from my right and I turned to see a conjurer charging at me from across a rope bridge, summoning a frail-looking scamp as he rapidly approached. Perhaps he did not see the bow strapped to my back.
The last time I was in Cyrodiil the Imperial Legion constantly patrolled these roads and banditry was a rare and short-lived occurrence. The Auxiliaries were more frequently engaged in fighting bears than bandits, but I like to think our presence, rowdy though it could be at times, helped maintain order. If the death of the Emperor was not bad enough, it appears that the strength of the Legion was diminished in the Empire's home province and the Auxiliaries have ceased to exist.

The lack of patrols had a very visible result when I found a group of imps wandering around near a small cave. As soon as one of them saw me, it would start to fling magicka and make a big nuisance of itself. To an unarmed farmer trying to get home though, even a single imp would have been a dire threat and I wound up shooting down five of them outside the cave, certainly enough to cause a great deal of harm to anyone...if they had attacked all at once.

As I was pondering where so many imps might have come from, one answered my question by flying out of the cave. After putting an arrow into its back I sliced open the imps' bodies and collected the gall into small vials which I could either use myself or sell for a decent amount of coin, disgusting as collecting it might be. Cheered by the prospect of making good money today, I decided to proceed into the cave in the hopes of finding more imps.

I was quite startled to find a large pile of skulls and bones right at the entrance of the cavern, but all it contained was a few rats and some more imps, nothing I could not comfortably handle by myself. There were also several rotted bedrolls strewn about, one with a complete skeleton laying upon it, clutching a small sack in its skeletal hand.
Aside from the imps' remains, there was little of value to be found. The place had likely been used by rogue mages who became overwhelmed and killed by their own summonings. A fitting, though ironic, way for them to go.
The sun was beginning to set when I exited the cave, six more flasks of gall sloshing in my pack. I was not going to make it to Kvatch before night fell, but I thought I could at least reach Skingrad, so I continued down the road. Again: a cave with skulls and other remains littering the entrance. But I had no time left in the day to pursue this, but I may on my way back to the monastery. Someone should and it appears no one else is.
It was dark as pitch by the time I reached the gates of Skingrad and a helpful guard directed me to the Two Sisters' lodge where I could get a bed for the night. The two sisters were Orsimer, but pleasant enough. The proprietor, Mog gra-Mogakh, handed me a pamphlet about the Emperor's death. It was short and light on theatrics, only stating that we must all continue on for the good of the Empire.

I will be doing my part by reaching Kvatch tomorrow. What happens after that or what I will do is a mystery.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Oblivion Day 1 - The Dawn & Dusk of Life

27 Last Seed, 3E433
Weynon Priory
~~~

Ingratitude. It is what I have been suffering for the past six years while languishing in prison. Prior to today, the last breath of fresh air tasted of ash and sea in Khuul village of Morrowind. I had boarded the Khajiit S'virr's small boat for a trip to Solstheim to visit Raven Rock and had just started to relax as Vvardenfell disappeared into the morning fog.

The first hint of trouble came in the form of a crossbolt bolt suddenly sprouting from poor S'virr's throat. He toppled overboard and was immediately set upon by slaughterfish. Even six years later the thought of dying that way makes me shiver, I have always hoped that he died before the fish got to him.

No crossbow bolts shot out of the gloom for me, but a fairly sizable vessel I most often saw wrecked and beached along Vvardenfell's dangerous shore. Hooks latched on to my little rowboat and I was quickly hoisted upon the ship and facing at least two dozen Imperial Legionaries. My arrest for smuggling illict goods to Raven Rock was laughably pronounced and without my amulet, I had the choice to either surrender or kill a few of them before dying. The latter was pointless, so I agreed to be detained below deck.

At the time I thought it a simple mistake. I knew S'virr was smuggling something, for why else but for profit would a Khajiit be rowing a boat between the two islands? Killing him struck me as a bit extreme, but then we arrived in Cyrodiil via the Imperial Run and I was thrown in a dungeon for six years...clearly not for smuggling, but my crime, be it real or imagined, has never been explained to me.

I received my daily ribbing from the Dunmer in the cell across from me, a tiresome tradition just over five months old today and was about to mount a bored riposte when voices and heavy footfalls sounded from the stairs next to my cell. I thought it too early for breakfast and figured another unfortunate soul had found her way into captivity.
The soldiers lacked the sloven indifference of the jailers and carried themselves with a sense of purpose, nervous though they obviously were. An older man was with them and I was curious to see what business this odd group had in the damp depths of the Imperial City.
The man was somber and stared at me for longer than I was comfortable with before declaring that the Gods had placed me in this cell so that he and I could meet. I was about to reply that I had no business with him, but he continued on, nonchalantly identifying himself as the Emperor, Uriel Septim and his solders as members of the Blades, such as I was once. They were escorting him through a secret escape leading out of the city, the beginning of which started in my cell. One of the soldiers sardonically commented that today must be my lucky day before the group left via a passageway behind my cot. Not one to let opportunity pass me by, I followed.
The reason for their escape soon became clear. Creeping behind them as quietly as I could, I spotted the assassins moments before they did, allowing me to shout out a warning as their foes sprang to the attack, cutting down their Captain within melee's initial seconds.
The two remaining Blades quickly dispatched their foes whom appeared to be conjurers of some kind. One of them thanked me for my warning with a silent, curt nod, collected the Emperor, and moved deeper underground, leaving the Captain's body behind.

Unarmed and in an area possibly still housing assassins, I had no qualms about picking through the bodies for useful equipment. I claimed a simple steel short blade from the late Captain and on a whim, her rare Akaviri Katana. My wrist irons had long since lost their chain and I was able to (carefully!) use the short blade to pry the rusted manacles off of my wrists, which conspicuously have all the fur rubbed off of them.

The group had locked the door behind them, so I was at a bit of a loss as to where to go now. Back to my cell was an incredibly depressing thought, but two rats came to my aid, crashing through a loose pile of masonry in an attempt to eat me. Once they had been dealt with, I examined the area the rats had come from.
Save for the scratchings of rats, I heard nothing, so I deemed it better than going back to jail. Evidently someone else had thought the same, for I found upon a gnawed-upon skeleton with rat-damaged, but serviceable, leather armor. It was a great deal better than my burlap shirt and pants. Further inside I found a bow and some arrows in surprisingly good condition and a battered leather-wrapped shield in considerably worse condition, but it was better than nothing. At least I had a decent complement of weaponry.

A zombie assailed me in the next room, eerily reminding me of the Corpus-infected creatures I fought so very long ago in Morrowind. Other than that, I thought the place was only infested by rats until I nearly stumbled over the body of a goblin sprawling in front of the only door I could find. It appeared to have succumbed to wounds from the zombie, but I could not be sure.

The goblins had set up camp further inside...where ever I was. Two of them died underneath a pile of logs I pushed down a small hill and one died after tripping its own trap. The rest, including a shaman who fired bolts of lightning at me, died to my bow or sword.

Through some strange trick of architecture, my journey through the underground goblin caves ended not at an opening to the outside world, but a finished section of the jail once more. Voices floated through the stale air, reminding me that there were others trying to make their way through this odd place.
The Emperor somehow heard me and motioned towards my hiding place. Instantly, I had two angry Blades approaching me, but he ordered them to stop, saying that they could not see what he had already seen, that I would play a part in (once again...) saving the Empire from a dire threat. I felt like asking him if perhaps the Legion might be better suited to the task.

We walked uneasily together for a ways until we were stopped by a gate that should not have been locked. The two Blades told the Emperor to retreat to an adjacent room just as five conjurer assassins sprang from the alcoves above us. Not wanting to die immediately, I retreated with the Emperor, but he pressed the amulet he had been wearing into my hand and told me to bring it to a man named Jauffre. With the sounds of battle growing more desperate in the room behind us, he insisted I go to the aid of the Blades.

And so I did, accounting for two assassins on my own, greatly surprising friend and foe alike. But when we returned to the Emperor he was dead, his throat slit, but his face peaceful, as if he had expected it all along.

The Blades did not take it well and were shocked to see the Emperor's amulet in my hands. The younger of the two told me that it was the Amulet of Kings, a sacred Artifact that could only be worn by someone of the Septim bloodline and one that would keep the Empire safe so long as a member of the bloodline wore it. I will not divulge the Blade's name here, but he told me to go to a specific monastery to find the monk named Jauffre, after which I would receive further instructions. He then thanked me for returning his Captain's Katana, an item which I had completely forgotten I had been carrying to begin with.

There was a small sewer system to contend with on my way out, but it does not bare mentioning compared to what I saw at the end of the sewer tunnel: sunlight.
And finally, the freedom of the outdoors once again.
The monastery was just past the Auxiliary post of Fort Ash and while I doubted that anyone I used to know was still in the Auxiliaries, let alone that they would remember me, I would at least be able to identify myself as a former militia-Khajiit and be sure of a cordial reception. 

To say life can be cruel would be an understatement.
Not only was Fort Ash abandoned, it was also decrepit, neglected, and re-occupied by goblins. In my day it was a thriving toll post and now it is a ruin. I must make time to find out why the Auxiliaries abandoned the fort. For today though, I decided to do some investigation of my own. Into the fort I went.
I found little of note. Just goblins, goblins, and a single dead adventurer. When I left the fort I was accosted by a Khajiit bandit who demanded one hundred Septims to let me pass alive. It did not end well for him.
I arrived at the monastery with no other trouble and even though it was late into the night, Jauffre was still awake at his table, doing whatever it is monks do at two in the morning. For safety's sake, I cannot record what he and I spoke about, but I certainly have an interesting task at hand now. He offered me a good steel bow and arrows and I gratefully traded my worn, bitten bow for it.

Now I am resting in a comfortable bed at the monastery, nervous, excited, and eager to tackle my new responsibilities. This morning I was a prisoner and this evening I am a Blade once again.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Kidnapped

20 Evening Star
Caius Cosades
---

Fishing between the islands of Solstheim and Vvardenfell proved just as lucrative as our informant assured us it would be. We caught two fish, one of which we threw back into the sea. Nets spread in Ald'ruhn and the Redoran stronghold of Indarys manor have dredged up additional valuables. See enclosed list.

Per your orders, our catch will be delivered to the Imperial Prision in Cyrodiil.

Your faithful servant,

Rithleen

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Morrowind Day 127 - Within His Palace, He Mourns

19 Evening Star
~~~
Today was not a day of great activity, but one of much import nonetheless. Almalexia's death at my hands does not weigh as heavily as I feared it might and I am sure King Helseth will move quickly to consolidate his power over the late god's people. 

My business was with the sole remaining member of the Tribunal, Lord Vivec. Though I suspected he likely had some way of knowing of Almalexia's death the instant it happened, I still felt I could offer the former god a re-telling of her final moments. 
He greeted me cordially and asked how I was doing in my new role as Morrowind's savior. When I asked him about Almalexia, he said that the two of them had stopped talking many years ago and that he feared what she would do now that the divinity granted by the Heart of Lorkhan has been lost.

Vivec accepted the news of his friends' deaths rather calmly, simply stating that Sotha Sil's murder and Almalexia's defeat were "very sad". But he viewed their fates as inevitable now that their immortality had been taken from them...and conferred on to me. He asked that I remember all three of them not as were at the end, but rather at the beginning, steeped in glory and the nobility of the pact they strode forwards to make with Morrowind. 

Considering I am viewed in Morrowind as the reincarnation of a Dunmer the Tribunal killed during that stride forwards, I am not sure how to take his words. But he smiled and bowed, dismissing me gracefully as he folded himself into a pose I suppose he found meditative. 

Azura suggested that Vivec's life is not to be a long one now, but I have no reason to suspect he will not disappear from this world as suddenly as the others. But I do think we two are no longer involved with one another and I suspect he is just as grateful about this as I am.


For me, the world waits, I suppose. For now I will return to Solstheim tomorrow and see what requires doing for Raven Rock. I am sure there is at least one thing awaiting my attention. As for after that...I do not yet know.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Morrowind Day 126 - The End of an Era

18 Evening Star
~~~
This morning I reluctantly left the Balmora Mages Guild to Vivec, then to Ebonheart, and finally to Mournhold to talk to Yagak gro-Gluk about the reforging of Lord Nerevar's blade.
The blade was finished, but the design looked like a sketch a child might have drawn. The hilt of the sword has two small, useless blades jutting out from the ends and the blade itself was absurdly top-heavy, the height of the blade being nearly three times as wide as the base. If that wasn't bad enough, the primary side of the sword was uneven, with bits sticking out, possibly intended to catch an enemy's blade or cause them to laugh uncontrollably. Lord Nerevar must have been a very skilled warrior to utilize such a terribly designed weapon.
The sword was supposed to blaze with an unquenchable fire, but Yagak grumbled that if I wanted a Dwemer enchantment then I needed to talk to a Dwemer. This posed several problems, the greatest which was that no Dwemer existed in Tamriel save for the crippled Yagrum housed in Divayth Fyr's underground cavern. I feared I would have to make a very long trip back to the lonesome man, but Yagak said that a Dwemer spirit was said to inhabit the ruin of Bamz-Amschend beneath Mournhold and that he suspected this spirit would be able to set the sword permanently alight.

I wondered at the possibility of a Dwemer spirit just wandering around beneath me and why something like that would not be news of a greater significance save to place some fire upon my ungainly sword. It was not any stranger a request  than I have become accustomed to, so down below I went again.

Somehow the Dwemer guardians managed to fix themselves or new ones had been created, for I faced just as many hostile machines during my second trip to the ruins as I did during my first. The massive, unadorned hallways worked more to my advantage than theirs, allowing me to pick off several of them with arrows.
Yagak only mentioned that the spirit was somewhere in the ruins, not where in the ruins I should look. The dark over-sized corridors made me feel slightly disorientated, as though the ruins were not large, but I very small. It was an odd sensation and very unpleasant. I found myself rushing into each room as I came to them, just to stop the feeling that I was shrinking.

When I entered the room with the giant man-shaped machine, a voice called out seemingly from all around me, asking why I had disturbed "his" rest. I felt more relieved to be speaking with someone at all in the ruin than I was disturbed and simply replied that I had come in search of a Dwemer mystic to enchant a weapon of mine.

The voice laughed and declared that he was no mystic, but a simple soldier who had some skill at the anvil. He grumbled that no one ever seemed satisfied with a plain, effective weapon, but agreed to enchant the sword with fire in exchange for a bottle of something he called 'Pyroil Tar', which I could find deeper within the ruins.

It took one of the sacks of explosives to descend further underground, but when I came upon a large Daedric ruin I suspected I was in the right place. It was mostly flooded, which allowed me to shoot the Dremora inhabitants with little risk to myself. Sitting atop one of their ashy remains, for some reason, was a flask of thick, dark liquid, which I assumed was the Tar.

I returned to the room where I the spirit seemed to reside and he confirmed that the vial was of the Pyroil Tar. I laid the vial and the sword on a table and watched as the vial was invisibly grabbed and emptied over the blade, then a nearby cloth floated over and rubbed the oil into the steel. After a short Dwemer incantation the sword burst into flames and my invisible blacksmith mystic invited me to take the blade, complaining again that people these days did not appreciate a good plain weapon. I cannot say I cared much for the sword before or after the enchantment.
Almalexia was almost beside herself when I showed her the immolated blade of Lord Nerevar. Everything she said made me increasingly wary of her motives, especially the declaration that "our" time had finally come. Come for what? I had a suspicion "our" time was really "her" time. The final obstacle that stood in "our" way was her fellow demi-God, Sotha Sil.

She said that her he had grown unstable as of late and in the few times she spoke with him, he ranted about the fall of the Tribunal and the return of the Dunmer to ancestral worship. Due to his ravings and the attack upon the city by what she called his "Fabricants", he was deemed a threat, one that she declared I must end. The sword she called 'Trueflame' had the power to kill a god if it was wielded with noble intent, according to her and I was to dispatch Sotha Sil if he could not be reasoned with.

Of course I was given no actual choice in this. As soon as she finished her ringing declaration of war on her former friend I was teleported to his home, the Clockwork City.

It was poorly named. The so-called city had much more in common with Dunmer tombs and Dwemer citadels than any city I have seen. The Dwemer influence was especially obvious, with gears and levers and pipes which shot out gouts of steam adorning every wall of the place. Even the doors were devices: massive stone slabs lifted up and out of the way by a combination of levers, gears, and the occasional jet of steam.
The god's hostile creations were the only inhabitants of the broken, flooded city, but there were fewer of them than I expected. Evidence of a previous struggle unfolded as I descended. First was a door apparently blown clear off it's lever via some sort of explosion, though it appeared the destruction was recent, as there was still small fires burning all around it.
Beyond that was a round room with a device set into the ceiling which spun a collection of saw blades around a platform. At the far end of the platform was the only other door in the room, but the remains of Fabricants and the skeletal pieces of people littering the room suggested that it was not easy to get to. I had to discard all of my armor and weapons save for my spear and the glass dagger the King had given me to ensure I was fast and nimble enough not to be chopped into pieces.

I found a machine that created the fast, thin Fabricants, but the machine's doors closed during the creation, so I could not tell what was actually occurring. It also functioned as a sort of guardhouse since the only way further into the city was through the machine itself. Manipulating levers on the side of the thing allowed both doors to be open once a Fabricant was created and I rushed past the confused creature and proceeded deeper inside.
What I thought was the final obstacle between me and the mad God was a pit of lava over which a bridge was lowered from the ceiling after I pushed a lever. Not much of an obstacle, really. What awaited me in the next room was a much larger (and final) obstacle that hit far harder.

The room was domed, with gears spinning wildly on the walls to no apparent purpose. At the other set of doors were two huge mechanical men, one in a state of disrepair and missing an arm. Its brother however was in perfect working order.
It hit like a pack of Kagouti and could fire bolts of lightning, making it very dangerous at any distance. The thing also had no obvious weaknesses and all I had was my spear and dagger, the latter which was utterly useless in the fight. The only advantage I had was the speed my lack of armor provided me, but as always for a Khajiit, it proved enough.

My metal opponent did have one slight problem: it was not quick. This would not have been an issue if  I had been pursued by both machines in the small room, but on its own it was simply too cumbersome to fight me effectively, so long as I stayed closed. A swing of its giant arms would have crushed every bone in my body, but it took the machine a few seconds to actually draw back and swing, letting me duck underneath and strike from behind. Initially I aimed to damage its torso, but switched to jabbing at its aged knee joints so as to cripple it.

That worked much better than I expected, for one when of its knees collapsed it became unable to stand and crashed to the floor. I guessed that a stab to the back of the head would end it like everything else, so I dug my spear into the cables at the rear of its neck and it stopped struggling. I suppose I killed it, but I have no way or concern to be certain of that.
In the final room was Sotha Sil...what remained of him. His body was like nothing I had seen before: part man, part machine, and wholly connected into his "city" via cables running out of his back to various holes and devices set into the ceiling. The effect was similar to a hunter mounting an animal to his wall, which proved oddly prescient when Almalexia appeared behind me with a loud popping noise and the metallic tang of magicka.
She was wearing a mask I had not seen before and immediately revealed her role in everything. I was to meet my death in Sotha Sil's Clockwork City, probably at the hands of the late god's mechanical bodyguard, so that Almalexia could point at Sotha Sil as the murderer of the Nerevarine. Thus martyred, she could mask her murder of Sotha Sil as an act of justice for my death, returning to Mournhold as the savior of Morrowind.

She admitted that when she returned to her own city she would tell everyone that I proclaimed my devotion to her with my dying breath so that she would be hailed as the one "true" God of the Dunmer. Naturally being the only God meant that Vivec would have to disappear as well and she scoffed at the suggestion that he might not be so easy to kill as her former friend had been. She called him a poet and a fool, declaring that his time would be soon to come. Having said that, she drew her sword, companion to my 'Trueflame' now abandoned in the saw-blade room, and attacked.
She was quick, far quicker than Sotha Sil's bodyguard, and just as dangerous at range with her spells and up close with her blue-flamed sword. I knew I had no chance against her in a straight fight with just my spear and dagger, so a certain amount of trickery would have to be involved. 

I did not expect Almalexia to actually try killing me, but I did suspect that something was not right with her story about Sotha Sil, so I was not entirely unprepared for her ambush. Two scrolls to summon Golden Saints distracted her while I hid behind a column studded with Sotha Sil's cables and cast an improved Invisibility spell courtesy of Estirdalin.

The Golden Saints did their best, but Almalexia was barely winded after she dispatched them to where ever they came from. Just as she started to turn around an invisible Khajiit pounced, locked her arms underneath her, and slit her throat, ironically with the dagger her paranoid rival had gifted to her would-be victim.
For all her lust for approval and affection from the Dunmer, she died in a city bereft of people, steps away from her the brother-God that she murdered so that she might once again bask in the glories of her past. She was undone by her own delusions of grandeur and her dismissal of a Khajiit that had already accomplished what the Tribunal never could.

I can only imagine King Helseth was her next target, followed by Vivec. The battle between her Ordinators and the King's Royal Guardsmen would have been quite a struggle and one that would have likely seen Imperial Legionnaires become involved before long. The more I think about it, the more I am certain that Almalexia was doomed to fail, if not by my hand then probably by Vivec's at the request of the Emperor. A very difficult situation, no matter how you look at it.

Despite her attempted murder of me, I cannot bring myself to extinguish all the pity from my heart. She fell victim to fear of her own mortality, something I am personally afraid is not a concern of mine any longer. 

Almalexia's death left me in a bit of a quandary: I had no way to get back to Mournhold. She had managed to get into Sotha Sil's room somehow so I searched her body hoping to find some way back. The ring I had pulled from the lich's fingers some time ago was on her own hand, so I took it as a matter of course, not realizing it was my key in getting back home.

I must have paced around the room for hours before it occurred to me to try the ring on. As soon as I set the ring on my finger there was a flash of light and I was suddenly standing outside the Temple. A familiar figure shimmered into sight before me.
Azura, the Daedric Prince of Dawn and Dusk, stood before me once again, though the people walking around us did not seem to notice. The visitation was apparently for me and me alone.

She assured me that Sotha Sil's death likely came as a relief to him, tired that he was of the life he had been leading, or not, as it were. Azura confirmed my belief: Almalexia's death was fated, the result of godhood set upon a trio of mortals unprepared for the responsibilities and burdens their power had given them. I wondered about Vivec and as if reading my mind, Azura continued on. His time, according to her, is growing short and it was her hope that I remain in Morrowind as the Nerevarine, champion of a people who continually treated me as something to be kicked aside at best.

I delivered what I expected would be unbelievable news to King Helseth, but he believed my whole story and rewarded my "service" to the throne with a full suit of Royal Guardsman armor, which I especially appreciated due to not having any armor at the time.

Tonight I will stay in Mournhold and tomorrow I shall visit Vivec and deliver the news of his former comrades' deaths, though I suppose it is possible that he already knows through some divine method. Then I suppose it's back to Solstheim to continue my work with the East Empire Company.

Another God dead at my hands.