Monday, September 3, 2018

Skyrim Day 087 - Family Disunion

Unknown Date, 4E201

Sleeping in the former castle of the Volkihar family was easier than I had anticipated. Once I found an actual bedroom I pushed several bookcases behind the door and fell upon the bed, falling asleep almost instantly.

No one attacked me in my sleep, though I did wake with a terrible thirst. Some minor illness, I  hope.

Finding my way back to Valerica's laboratory proved more difficult a task than I anticipated, largely due to my somehow forgetting how to get there! I am not sure how long it took me to find my way back, but it must have been at least an hour of pointless wandering among the rubble of Castle Volkihar. When I arrived the portal to the Soul Cairn was still spinning energetically, sending purple light and shadows dancing about the room.
The Cairn had not changed much in my absence. The confused souls were still lounging around and the soul fragments were still flitting about, chased by blackened skeletons inexplicably wielding swords and bows. For as much as I know about the place it is possible a thousand years passed from my last visit, or a few seconds.

Walking back to the ruined castle Valerica was using as her field camp was just as disorientating as it was originally. At times I felt I was walking without covering any discernable distance, others I was sprinting across the land making great progress. In the end I doubt I approached the place at any pace greater than a careful walk, whatever my confused senses were telling me.

Valerica was still busy at her makeshift alchemy lab and seemed irritated at having her research interrupted. If she wondered why Serana was not with me she hid it well. She took the news of her estranged husband's death with no joy, only commenting that she would move her work back to her old study. She thanked me, but I am just glad to be done with the whole mess, gratitude or not.

I wasted an more time trying to walk back to the portal than I did from it. I kept getting turned around, ending up in sharp-edged ruins and crumbling tombs, assaulted by skeletons and magicka-flinging spirits despite being very sure I was heading in straight line back to whence I came. The skeletons were not a great concern, but I could not help but feel increasingly panicked at the thought of never finding my way back to Tamriel.

This was foolishness, of course, perhaps some side-effect due to the oppressiveness of the place. I eventually found myself at the wall that divided Valerica's portion of the Cairn in two, then followed it until I was able to pass through its gatehouse to the side hosting the portal.
I had barely time enough to ascend the staircase back inside her laboratory before Valerica appeared at the portal, more proof that time and distance in the Soul Cairn is not quite as measurable as it seems.
The vampire matriarch nodded at me as she passed by me on the balcony, declaring that it was time for her to resume her work as an odd desire considering nearly all of her family had been slain and her only daughter, who evidently forgot to retrieve her, was joined with a band of vampire hunters. Alchemy was more important, I suppose.

I asked about the continuing existence of the Cairn portal, desiring privately that it be destroyed, but she offhandedly declared it useful for her research as if there was no reason to not want it to remain open. She must have thought I felt the same way, for she assured me I would be able to come and go through the portal as I please now that my soul has become "attuned" to the place. Great news.

I retraced my steps back out to the jetty and re-entered the castle through the bloodied entrance, where I will be spending my last night in this accursed place. I am not sure what day it actually is due to the capricious nature of the Soul Cairn, but I shall enquire to that tomorrow. 

Tonight I rest victorious, but uneasy. I cannot shake the feeling that I am forgetting something important.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Skyrim Day 086 - Bittersweet Victory

16 Sun's Dusk, 4E201
Isran is a driven man. There was no message at Solitude for Serana and I and no one I spoke to had even seen the Dawnguard passing nearby. With no instructions we had to assume we were to meet the Dawnguard at Volkihar Keep itself...which struck me as odd. No preparation for the attack? No coordination? Their choice, I suppose.

On our way out I overheard a guard complaining to his friend that the "vampire menace" had gotten worse as of late and that they should wipe them out before it became unstoppable. I wonder who "they" was in his mind. Himself and his friend? The Solitude guard? Imagining his reaction to knowing most of the actions against the "menace" have been at the hands of a Khajiit and a vampiress is an entertaining thought...though he would probably not believe me anyway.
But I was not so eager to be rushing off without readying myself. Coincidently a Khajiit caravan was camping outside the gatehouse, allowing me to stock up on restoratives that Angeline's Aromatics had lacked and sell some gems that had been rattling around in my pack.

Of course it would not be a day in Skyrim without a lunatic or two assaulting us on the road. This one had somehow managed to find an Ebony breastplate which did all the more to make his cheap iron sword look even cheaper. I considered carrying the breastplate back to Solitude to display in my manor, but Serana reminded me I already had one there anyway. Luck to the fortunate farmer who stumbles upon that body!

I guess we reached the jetty across Volkihar Keep by noon or so, the icy haze making it impossible to accurately judge.
Once again I was surprised by Isran's lack of coordination, figuring that he and his vigilantes would be waiting for me at the jetty if not before the gates of Solitude. Figuring they were either waiting for me at the actual Keep or had been successfully ambushed en route, Serana and I climbed into the old boat and rowed to her family's estate.

That's where we finally found the Dawnguard...all lined up before the gatehouse bridge.
Upon seeing us arrive Isran let out a cry and sprang forwards, the rest of the Dawnguard following as he charged up towards the Keep. As I expected, several of the gargoyle "statues" came to life, attracting the attention of armored trolls (when did the Dawnguard tame trolls?!) who tussled with the stone beasts as the Dawnguard streamed past them.

Just as they were halfway across the bridge the gates opened and vampires charged out, magicka crashing through the air as they closed to melee. The battle soon became a chaotic mess of individual combats in a very small space. How long it lasted, I cannot recall. But when it was over the vampires were vanquished along with most of the Dawnguard.
Isran and two others ran inside while Serana and I hurriedly took stock of our wounds. Neither of us were badly hurt and I had a bloodied Dawnguard axe in my hand that I did not remember picking up. We each drank a few restoratives and followed Isran.

The two Dawnguard survivors were already dead when we entered and Isran was down on one knee, heavily wounded. We arrived in time to cut down his assailants and provide much-needed healing. Without a word of thanks Isran sprang back up and charged deeper into the Keep, alone.

I was starting to have doubts regarding the leader of the Dawnguard's sanity.

A second melee erupted in the Great Hall where Isran had run into. I feared he was greatly out-numbered, but two Dawnguard members I had not previously noticed were fighting alongside him against four vampires and  two thralls or reanimated bodies, I could not really tell the difference.

We lost one of the Dawnguard, but with myself and Serana the Dawnguard prevailed, again with losses. The Great Hall was clear and Isran moved to the doors at the end of the Hall, but Serana warned him to stay where he was. Lord Harkon was for Serana and I to deal with.
No well-dressed Nordic lord was waiting for us, but the gargoyle form of what he had called a 'Vampire Lord'. Whatever it was called it certainly looked grotesque. He and Serana traded words, but it was clear each of them knew the final battle was at hand. He even asked me to return Auriel's Bow to him, promising me that everything previous would be taken as a simple misunderstanding. It was a desperate request and one I rejected, of course.

The battle that followed was rather anti-climatic. His followers slain, all Lord Harkon could manage was flinging magicka around the room and summoning weak Draugr as he glided around. When wounded he retreated to a statue at the end of the room which provided him with a red shield of magicka.
The first time he did this Serana shouted at me to fire an arrow at the shield with Auriel's Bow. I am a much better shot with a crossbow, but I was never far from Harkon anyway. The first arrow burst into flames against the shield, but it destroyed the shield as it did so. The Vampire Lord shouted something in frustration and resumed his spells and summonings.
Three times we did this, but the fourth arrow against his shield did not cause it to harmlessly explode, instead seeming to draw the energy into Harkon himself. He screamed, burst into red flames, and was utterly destroyed, his blackened skeleton lit for a moment against the fire.
Serana and I walked over to the vampire shrine and silently gazed at the smoldering pile of ash that was her father. Footsteps sounded behind us, but it was just Isran, respectfully alone. Serana sighed and, sounding relieved, told him that the job was finally done. He nodded and thanked her, then, to my surprise, invited her to join the Dawnguard, which she accepted. They left, Serana asking me to stop by and visit if I had any more adventures planned.

I felt like correcting her: none of my adventures have ever been planned! But then was not the time for japes.
In the ashes was a blade in the ancient Akaviri style, the likes of which I have not seen since the Oblivion Crisis. I am loathe to wield it and am planning on displaying it in one of my homes. Perhaps I should see what Lydia has been doing while I have been away.

I have one final task awaiting my attention in Volkihar Keep, one that I am very surprised Serana has failed to remind me of: returning her mother,  Valerica, back to Tamriel. That, however, will have to wait, for I am in need of rest, though I am greatly relieved to have this Dawnguard business finally taken care of.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Skyrim Day 085 - Onwards We March

14 Sun's Dusk, 4E201
Dragon Bridge

It appears that my previous journal entry was too optimistic, for we have settled in for the night at Dragon Bridge, still quite a distance from Castle Volkihar.

As usual we left just as the sun was beginning to rise, confident that we would be masters of Castle Volkihar before night. We were careful to stay on the road and were delayed only by a Bosmer Skooma dealer who foolishly assaulted us and an assassin of the Dark Brotherhood, only slightly less foolish.
The day had started grey and remained grey, making for a rather morose trip, even given our anticipation of being done with the entire Dawnguard-Volkihar feud. A little while after the assassin it even began to rain, which Serana remarked as having not happened since the two of us met. Skyrim seems only to provide, in my opinion, days separated by having snow and day which do not, so I will have to take her word on this.

We arrived at Dragon Bridge before night and could have possibly made it to Castle Volkihar before midnight, but Serana reminded me that the night is not a good time to engage vampires, especially a castle full of them.

I expected Isran would have left a message somewhere along the way for me, but it appears his party traveled the north road, Serana and I the south, so if there were any I have missed them entirely. I may briefly stop at Solitude tomorrow just in case, that is the last settled stop between Fort Dawnguard and Castle Volkihar.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Skyrim Day 084 - The Dawnguard Rise

13 Sun's Dusk, 4E201

I barely slept last night despite the considerable comfort of the Grandmaster's quarters, too excited to finally march with the Dawnguard against the deadly, but misguided, vampires of Castle Volkihar. My excitement, however, is less to do with the Dawnguard's cause and more for being done with them entirely. Serana, too, was eager to leave early, no doubt for the same reason.

The only saving grace of the taking the eastern path from Winterhold to Windhelm is that no one else is masochistic enough to want to. The trip has the resilient traveler buffeted between winds screaming at her from the mountains at her right and a constant barrage of icy slush from the sea on her left. This continues even as the road does not halfway to the city, leaving you searching for a few Septims to pay for a local fisherman to ferry you from your side of the city's river over to the civilized side containing a road. It is an uneventful, miserable path.
A few Septims poorer, Serana and I set foot on the opposite shore and continued along the mountainside. Taking the road to Riften is easier, but slower and I feel both of us are in agreement that the quicker this is over with, the better.
We came upon an Orsimer fortress and I made to pass it by, but Serana wanted to stop to barter for some furs, her family's raiment being ill-suited for the cold. Inside we found few furs for the fortress protected a mine dug into the side of the mountain, providing the Orsimer with all the wealth they needed.

But the Chief gave me a tale of woe no wealth could alieve him of: every wife he has taken dies soon after, none of them providing him a son. He asked that I inquire about an 'Uglarz', a childhood friend of his whom he, for some reason, thought would make a good wife. Why he thinks Uglarz is still in Skyrim and also why she would consent to marry him (if she is not married already!) is certainly unwarranted optimism. At least the conversation gave Serana enough time to buy her pelts.

A Dragon roared over top our heads as we were leaving and we rushed back into the fort to prepare to battle alongside the Orsimer. But after roaring a bit more the Dragon flew back over the mountain to wherever it was calling home. They have been less aggressive as of late, though no less advertising.

We arrived at the entrance to Dayspring Canyon by mid-afternoon and did not experience the ambush we were anticipating.

Isran was more awed by seeing Auriel's Bow than I thought the dour man was capable of. He questioned whether Serana could be trusted in the battle ahead and I assured him she was just as eager to see Harkon de-throned as any one of us...possibly even more. He nodded once and turned to the assembling soldiers of the Dawnguard to address them.
The speech was the typical "This is our hour!" sort of thing, but the soldiers seemed to have appreciated it. I thought Serana and I would be traveling with them, but as the Dawnguard began to file out Isran turned and told us to meet them all at Castle Volkihar. Apparently we were to travel on our own.

So on our own we were, once again. We trailed behind the Dawnguard until Riften, where they turned north and we proceeded west, the more direct route. Isran is probably counting on stopping at Windhelm, Whiterun, or Solitude for supplies along the way.

While navigating the now-dark and icy pass between Ivarstead and Helgen we were accosted by a traveler in the escort of several mercenaries. The traveler introduced himself as 'Taron Dreth', an eminent scholar on the subject of Aetherium, or so he claimed. Recognizing my circlet as being of that metal drove him into an unexpected rage, attacking us along with his rather docile guards.
I will never understand why people are so eager to chance their lives over such petty things.
The ambush we had been expecting at the entrance to the valley came nearly seven hours late and half a province to the west: a Vampiress and a gargoyle jumped out of the woodland as we approached the gate of Falkreath. The gargoyle was a surprise, though not an overly dangerous one.

We shall be at Castle Volkihar tomorrow and, for good or ill, this business of the Dawnguard will be concluded.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Skyrim Day 083 - A Long, Boring Walk

12 Sun's Dusk, 4E201

Spending a night at my Solitude estate is a rare blessing, even if it is much too large for one person, or even two, as the case was yesterday.
I woke with Serana patiently waiting in my bedroom, which was a bit disconcerting. She must have guessed as much for she assured me that she spent most of the night in the basement, working on enchantments and alchemy.

Ahead of us was the task to travel to Fort Dawnguard, rally the Dawnguard, and assault her family's castle. The worst part of that, I am sure, is all the walking. I have almost certainly seen more of Skyrim than many of her residents, even if most of it is either forest or barren snow.

As if on cue we were attacked, in full daylight, by a trio of vampires just out of sight of Solitude's ramparts. They nullified what little advantage greater numbers gave them by beginning their attack while nearly fifty yards away. Between Serana's spells and my crossbow two were eliminated before they entered melee range and the other crumpled quickly.
Serana and I continued east without interruption, passing Dawnstar before noon. Just after the town we encountered a rider on the road who, much to our surprise, shouted that she was on urgent business with the Dawnguard and needed us to step aside. She sounded too young to be on any sort of business, but we were both surprised to see any evidence that things were happening without us.

And that was pretty much the day. We both agreed that stopping in Winterhold was preferable to trudging into Fort Dawnguard after midnight, so Serana is back again at the alchemy table and I am again preparing to rest in comfort, this time in the quarters of the Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold.

Tomorrow we shall be speaking with Isran and readying the Dawnguard for the assault...meaning another trip across the province for the two of us. For all the preparation Isran has been busying himself with why could he not have purchased some carriages?

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Skyrim Day 082 - The Curse of Immortality

11 Sun's Dusk, 4E201

Serana and I left Falkreath later than we had planned, leaving what passes for a gatehouse after the townspeople had started their day. Fortunately for Serana the weather was overcast and we made good time to the fields of Whiterun, at which point the clouds abruptly cleared, much to her dismay.

The plain has the advantage of being relatively flat, robbing animals and bandits of the advantage of surprise. The downside is that it is relatively flat, robbing us of the advantage of our own surprise. With Whiterun just in the distance we suddenly heard a roaring from the sky. Another Dragon, though we have not been seeing many as of late, Soul Cairn aside.
The Dragon flew directly over us, but despite being stuck on the plain it failed to see us, or was uninterested. It roared some more before flapping its way behind the hills to wherever it had settled down. I was not eager to waste time tracking it and Serana simply wanted to find some shade, so we continued on.

We passed through Dragon Bridge and backtracked along the river until we reached where I guessed the Elder Scroll had been marking. After some searching we uncovered a cave (of course!) entrance overgrown with vegetation. A few moments with my dagger saw a serviceable entrance made of it and in we went.

The cavern was wet and mossy, but seemingly empty until we came upon the remains of a Breton and his small camp. The damp had done nothing advantageous to his body, but his rucksack had protected a piece of parchment he had scribbled a warning to his sister on.
Why the man thought trolls could be good neighbors is a mystery, but I appreciated his warning of what lay ahead. Situated inside of a large cavern with several pools of water, the family of trolls numbered almost a dozen, but my crossbow made silent work of most of them.

Once that business was concluded Serana expressed her doubts that this was the correct location. I agreed, nothing of the place suggested it was hiding a powerful artifact, but I pointed out that would make this an ideal place to hide such a thing. She laughed, a rarity, and agreed to continue inwards a bit more.
A good thing we did, for ahead we found a man tending to an underground shrine. He had not seen us yet and we did not know who he was, so we crept behind a small rise in the cavern floor and observed him. Serana whispered that she was fairly sure the shrine he was fussing over was to Auri-El, the first indication we had that we were in the right cave.

Assuming she was correct I rose and greeted the man, startling him greatly. He invited us closer though and it was not until we drew closer than I realized there was something off about the man's appearance. I had taken him for an Altmer, but he introduced himself as 'Knight-Paladin Gelebor', the last of the Snow Elves.

I confess to not knowing much of the Snow Elves other than that they were somehow corrupted into the Falmer. The Knight-Paladin was not one for stories however, assuming (correctly) that we were there seeking Auriel's Bow, for as he acidly put it: why would we be there otherwise?

He and a few others had escaped the corruption by virtue of being away when it happened, but the relationship soured over the many years. Before Gelebor would assist us with finding the Bow we had to agree to kill his brother, the self-styled Arch-Curate Vyrthur, who lay under the sway of the Falmer...somehow.

I admit to confusion on this part. The Falmer are barely above animals and posses no language I have ever heard of. How could they be responsible for the corruption of an un-corrupted Snow Elf? I felt there was more to the story and in this I proved to be quite correct.

Killing Vyrthur would require Serana and I to travel through each of the 'Wayshrines' of Auri-El, the first of which Gelebor was guarding and refused to leave. Once we agreed (given no choice), he cast a spell on the stone effigy of Auri-El, revealing a small gatehouse beneath it. Serana was impressed, but the Dwemer left devices that do the very same thing all over the place.
Initiates to Auri-El had to travel to each wayshrine with an empty jug, collecting water from the basins of each wayshrine as they went. Once they had completed their visitations the jug would be filled and brought to the temple nearby. Simple, but they had no Falmer to contend with. We filled our jug with water from Gelebor's wayshrine and stepped through the shimmering portal that appeared along its brickwork.

In a flash we were in front of a different wayshrine in a very damp, warm cave. The plants were all luminescent, some retracting fearfully as we passed by. Evidence of the Falmer was easy to find, but no Falmer themselves.
After quite a bit of walking we found the second wayshrine, retracted as the first had been. A spectral apparition was faithfully waiting next to it and greeted the two of us as initiates.

We spoke to it, affirming our faith and it opened the wayshrine much as Gelebor had done. Inside was another basin of water and a second portal shimmering along the walls.

This wayshrine deposited us in a wet vale with fog that limited our vision to maybe a dozen paces.
A type of Sabre Cat I have not seen before prowled the valley, seeming to take pleasure in springing out of the fog from above us. They were nothing we could not handle, of course, and the Falmer had yet to be encountered.

The vale's wayshrine sent us to a frozen canyon, complete with a massive nearly-frozen waterfall cascading over the ice. I was dismayed by the sudden change of climate, but Serana was enamored by the sight, claiming it made all the difficulties up until now worth it. I disagreed, but kept silent.

Onward we went, finding the fourth wayshrine (of Learning) along the bank. This one sent us back underground to the realm of the glowing plants, but the path was different. It was here that we came upon the only indication that we were not the first to suffer this strange path, though Gelebor had not mentioned others before us.
The skeleton nearly crumbled to dust as I retrieved its rotten journal from underneath it and I could only make out the last entry the adventurer wrote, noting that there were traps ahead and that he planned to use them to his advantage...against what, he did not say, nor could I determine how he had died.

There were no Falmer ahead of the skeleton and soon the cavern exited outside the valley, on a path opposite where we had originally entered it. The path wound up the side of the valley wall, the final wayshrine (of Resolution) being along it as it continued upwards towards the main temple.
We stopped, filled the water pitcher, and continued on.

And that is when we finally found the Falmer.

Accustomed to the villages the creatures build in caves and Dwemer ruins, I was unprepared for the large Falmer city (if such a thing can be said to exist) that filled up the valley between us and the temple. Where the paths were too narrow to erect a hut they threw a bridge across to the other side. If a hut could be built atop another, it was. The effect was a very crowded mass of chitinous buildings and bridges, with Falmer above, below, in front, and behind.
I had brought a full sheaf of crossbow bolts into the valley, but exhausted them halfway through their icy metropolis. Serana's spells proved the deciding factor, as I am sure I would not have been able to fight off multiple Falmer from different directions and elevations all by myself, especially hand-to-hand!

At the end of the valley lay the final wayshrine, this one of Radiance.
Its portal sent us to our final destination: the Snow Elves' temple to Auri-El.
It was quiet, with no evidence of Falmer having made the place their home. Serana noted that the statue in the courtyard was of Auriel, but using symbols ancient to us. Given that she had been trapped underground so long this would mark the place as very ancient indeed.

Pouring the water we had laboriously collected into an empty basin at the entrance unlocked the door somehow and we cautiously stepped through to an eerily chilling sight.
Falmer and Chaurus stood frozen, encased in ice, around a shrine to their Auri-El. Several of the Falmer were wearing robes and holding staves above their head, suggesting an intelligence that is not quite present today. Perhaps they were seeking a cure for the horrid transformation? I will never know.

The remainder of the temple was more Dwemer in construction, large stone furniture geometrically shaped and littered with bones and skeletons.

And at the rear of the Temple waited the Arch-Curate Vyrthur, seated on a throne and surrounded by more frozen Falmer and Chaurus.
Watching us approach, he languidly congratulated me, saying that I had done exactly as he had hoped, bringing my "fetching companion" to me. Serana gasped and whispered if he was asking about her, which of course he was, for there was no one else with me.

With that the frozen "corpses" of the Falmer and Chaurus burst free and attacked us. Being encased in ice for however long left them weak and the two of us dispatched two dozen of them in only a few minutes. Once the last of his hapless pawns had fallen Vyrthur screamed and unleashed magicka into the ceiling of the temple, shattering it.
We ran for cover as he laughed and disappeared, but we fortunately escaped harm and continued after him.

Serana, probably spooked by discovering she was the center of Vyrthur's attention, ran ahead of me and caught up with the mad Snow Elf on a balcony overlooking the valley. As I caught up with them I heard him demand that she look into his eyes and tell him what she saw.

The Arch-Curate of Auri-El was a vampire.

Infected by one of his initiates, Vyrthur was (or felt) abandoned by his God and grew embittered. Cursed with immortality he had more than enough time to plan his revenge. So he created the prophecy Serana's father is so enamored with for the sole purpose of drawing a pure-blooded vampiress, a Daughter of Coldharbour, to harvest the blood he required.

The entire prophecy is a sham. The long sleep Serana took out of safety, unnecessary, save for the insanity of her father. With a snarl Serana hurled him from the balcony and the fight was on.

It lasted longer than I thought it would. The ancient armor Vyrthur and Gelebor wore provided some protection against Serana's spells, but my blade was another matter. Chasing the crazed man down was a different issue altogether, but eventually we cornered him and pummeled him with spell and blade until he was dead. So ends the prophecy, so far as the truth of it is concerned.

A few moments later a hidden wayshrine rose up in the courtyard and Gelebor stepped out, any help he could have provided no long being required. I walked over to him as Serana started to angrily strip the his brother's corpse, but Gelebor seemed not to mind.
The man's heart was colder than the surroundings. He expressed joy only in that the Falmer were not to blame for Vyrthur's madness, stating that there was still hope that they could be turned back to the guiding light of Auri-El. Sadness for his brother, previously half of Cyrodiil's Snow Elf population, was conspicuously missing.

He proclaimed Serana and I the rightful inheritors of Auriel's bow, despite neither of us being able to shoot it very well, if at all in Serana's case.
I was ready to take on Lord Harkon immediately, but Serana demurred. She felt that we would be overwhelmed by her father's loyal minions and advised a return to Isran on the entire opposite side of the province. 

This is maddening. And frustrating. I want this business over almost as much as Serana does, if only to save me from walking so much!

We used the temple's wayshrine to teleport back to the first one and backtracked through the cavern into the welcome light of the morning.
Serana and I were both surprised to discover it had only taken a day to travel to the cavern, fight to the first wayshrine, blunder about underground, fight through a Falmer city, open the ancient Temple, confront half of the remaining Snow Elves, kill him, claim Auriel's Bow, and return outside.

It was only when we arrived at Solitude for a much-deserved rest that we discovered it is now 11 Sun's Dusk, three days after we set off from Falkreath.

I should have stuck to chopping wood and escorting merchants. I may be immortal, in a way, but there are days like this when I simply feel very old.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Skyrim Day 081 - Eyes of the Gods

8 Sun's Dusk, 4E201

Serana and I left Fort Dawnguard very early in the morning, both of us desiring to reach the Glade before the afternoon and planning on leaving it at dusk.

Predictably another group of vampires assaulted us once we left Fort Dawnguard's canyon, but an ambush only works when your foe is not expecting it for the fourth time. I do wonder where these vampires are coming from and how many of them there are. Serana did not know, her suspicion was that the vampires we have been fighting are from outside the province, having been promised wealth and honors by her father in exchange for my, and presumably Serana's, death.

Facing a nearly limitless enemy is not a pleasant thought. But if Serana is correct vanquishing Lord Harkon will put an end to this business. I tactfully broached the subject of her father's death, but she laughed, stating that she has been assuming for some time now that we would be killing him. She has grown to accept this task, the constant attempts on her life by him no doubt helping in this. However, should it be possible I would prefer to kill him myself, if only to make it a bit easier on her, for she has grown on me.

The quickest way to the Ancestor Glade was via the southern road, past Riften, through the pass, then around or through what remains of Helgen. The walk was long, but mostly quiet. We were ambushed by a single vampire hiding within the mountain pass, but she was alone and no trouble. I would have had allies hiding behind us to close off a possible escape, but she was more confident and less wise than I.
Helgen was, once again, occupied by bandits. There were only three, two dying singly to my blade across their throat or in their back, the remaining to Serana's magicka. There will be more, I am certain.

As if to underscore that point three more bandits, perhaps a mile or so from Helgen, were camping along the road. They loosed arrows at us as we approached, but their bows were, for some reason, self-made and I could just about catch the arrows and toss them back with as much force. Serana, perhaps frustrated by her relative lack of involvement at Helgen, fought and killed the three of them with her magicka.
The hares they were cooking were the only things of value at the camp.

According to the Priest's directions we would have to ascend the mountains south-east of Falkreath to find the Glade. The path was supposed to be marked by a pile of stones and still was, or at least we hoped it was as we climbed the only path we found along the road with a pile of stones next to it.

The path climbed up the side of the mountain as the air, as always, grew colder, despite only being fifty feet or so higher than we were on the road. Soon we were slipping across frozen mud and blinking snowflakes out of our eyes. The view was quite nice though and the path unmolested by bandits or animals.
The Glade was set inside a cavern as just about every place in Skyrim is. Serana grumbled about the place not being particularly impressive and, as I snagged my foot on my third tree root, I was forced to agree. The Glade's entrance was overgrown with roots and weeds and generally appeared to not have been visited by anyone for quite some time.
A hole in the ceiling provided illumination for the draw knife nestled within a hollowed-out rock. I was anticipating a search, so this was a nice surprise. The tree whose bark I need to scrape off was right next to the knife. So far everything had been easy.

Then the moths gathered.
What Dexion had not explained was that the moths, once they were flying around me, would generate a yellow shimmering globe that would make it almost impossible to see. I was forced to rely on Serana to avoid plummeting off of ledges and tripping up stairs. Together we brushed past several groups of moths until I was nearly blinded, which Serana took as a sign that I was ready.

Bracing myself against the possibility of being struck sightless I opened the 'Dragon' Elder Scroll.

Opening the scroll produced a flash of light that persisted, briefly, after I closed it. Repeated openings of the scroll coalesced the light into a vaguely identifiable map of north-west Skyrim. I could see Solitude on the shore and what must have been Markarth at the end of a golden road. In-between the two was an orange rune I did not recognize, but there was nothing else of note, so by the process of elimination I figured that was where the Bow would be found.

We have been walking the entire breadth of Skyrim to thwart Lord Harkon only to discover that the artifact critical to his plan has been nearly at this door the entire time! How he failed to discover the location of the Bow before now is perplexing given the time he has had.

We were talking over our plan, trying to decide between staying overnight at Falkreath against pushing on to the cave without sleep when shouting and the sound of very heavy footsteps issued from the mouth of the cavern. Lord Harkon's people had found us once again.

They brought reinforcements in the way of two gargoyles, not trying to affect any sort of subtlety to their assault. Unfortunately for them the only way to us was via the staircase that wound down from the entrance and no more than two vampires or one gargoyle could stand before us while on it.

It is a bit bewildering that the vampires always find us after we accomplish something in conflict with their goal, but are utterly unable to get a step ahead of us despite having what seems to be limitless manpower and the collective knowledge of thousands of years. Serana expects most of whom we have been fighting are fresh "recruits" to Harkon's cause, folk who were seduced by the promise of long-life and great power instead of the farmstead or shop they were managing. Whatever the case, none of them are great warriors.

As if to underscore that point we were attacked by three more vampires while on the road to Falkreath, all with cheap iron swords they did not bother to use. This is getting tiresome.

Serana insisted on staying awake throughout the night while I stay at Dead Man's Drink in Falkreath. Tomorrow we will strike out for Darkfall cave and be one day closer to being through with this nonsense.