I had another dream last night, this one containing the same Dunmer with the golden mask. Rather than showing me to a party, he stated that he had delivered me from my 'enemies' and suddenly I saw my own body on a stone slab, as if I had died, surrounded by marble and expensive furnishings. In the dream, I (or someone) touched my body and I seemed to wake and start to rise off the stone. But then the room we were in disappeared and a white light blinded me...then I woke up.
It was not as disturbing as the first dream, but I still could not fall back asleep. I left the Mages Guild just after midnight this morning and ate a quick breakfast at the Eight Plates, which never seems to close. Rather than accept another job from Ranis, I decided to make the journey to the Telvanni tower of Tel Fyr to steal the Propylon Stone, hopefully avoiding the wizard residing within. As always, Morrowind took my expectations and laughed at them.
If the dream was not bad enough, I ran into another sleep-walking acolyte of the Sixth House outside the Eight Plates. This one was pushier than most, demanding that I serve Dagoth Ur and claiming that the Sixth House has risen again, bringing Dagoth Ur his glory. While he was raving and shouting at about two in the morning, he made no physical threats against me, so I left him alone. What the guards wound up doing with him to quiet him down is their own business.
I managed a pretty good pace initially, reaching Lake Nabia (again!) after an hour or so of walking, but a Blight storm started to redden the sky and I was engulfed in choking dust and screaming wind coincidentally near Punabi. I doubt I would have been welcome either there or at Sulipund and I walked past them, still peering into the red haze for shelter. Lava pools started to appear as I headed further east and I kept them in sight to use as navigational aids. It is in this way that I found the unnamed Dwemer fortress.
The ruined Dwemer fortress was built into the the hillside adjacent to a giant telescope as they commonly are and I saw no signs of habitation outside. But experience taught me well enough to know that this was no indication of what I would find inside and I used one of my weaker enchanted rings to summon a barrier around me to deflect and soften blows.
My precaution paid off. I was attacked by an Imperial woman as soon as I slipped through the heavy iron doors and she got in several good slashes with her sword against my bare arms before I could bring my own weapon to bear. Immediately I recognized that something about the woman was a little 'off' and the unique grating sound of her voice identified her as a vampire, though evidently a young one. The battle was a short one: She fought with her back to an open pit in the entrance chamber and I drove her into it, thinking it a refuse pit that I could use to collect myself for a few moments. She fell into it with a snarl and I readied myself, prepared to attack her when she climbed out. But she never did.
Distracted by the immediacy of combat, I had not really looked at the room I was in. It was only then that I realized that what I took for a refuse pit was...probably a refuse pit at some point, but more importantly was where Dwemer architects had exposed a pit of lava maybe eight feet below the giant grate that I mistook for a solid floor. The heat and stink of the molten rock crept into my senses as the rush of combat wore off and I carefully skirted the opening as I moved deeper into the ruins.
A second Imperial vampire, this one a male, charged at me from the end of a hallway and I had no time to draw my bow before we became engaged, but his chitin armor was little use against my spear. I suppose the poor quality of his armor might mark him as a young Vampire, but he proved less of an opponent than his unfortunate comrade at the entrance.
The most distasteful thing to encounter when fighting vampires are the slaves whom they keep to feed on. The ones here were mostly Khajiit and had enough of their senses so that I was able to converse lightly with them, though they spoke of events that I think occurred before their enslavement and had little understanding of their current predicament. All of the slaves I talked to declared themselves 'cattle' of the 'Berne Clan' and nothing else. Their minds were just as dulled as the ones in the other den, just in a different way. I left them alone as I proceeded further, angry at seeing so many Khajiit like that.
Two Vampires were guarding a room they were using as a sort of vault, shelves and chests full of equipment stacked against all four walls. I never will make the mistake of assuming Vampires are stupid, but the younger ones seem afflicted with a blinding aggression and I was able to lure both of them into a doorway, where they divided their attention between killing me and continually jostling past one another in an effort to kill me. The second Vampire nearly tripped over the corpse after I slew the first one and she joined her crumpled friend in the doorway.
The vault was a massive collection of equipment, most of it mundane, but some quite valuable. A pair of Daedric armored boots were precariously set on shelf alongside a Dreugh cuirass, but the rest were steel or leather armors and not particularly useful. As usual, I could not actually carry the boots with me, but I am beginning to take pride in not taking such things: my skills are well enough that my silver spear and sword are more than adequate.
The huge Dwemer chests held more armor and weapons, most of which could have been purchased at any shop, but again there were a few valuable pieces: armored boots of volcanic Glass, a few Dwemer weapons, and the most valuable (to me): four throwing stars of Ebony crystal, sharper than any steel weapon and each more valuable than an entire suit of steel armor. I took them not to use, but to hopefully display alongside the two Daedric arrows once I find a secure home.
The room beyond the vault contained an older Vampire, either unaware or uncaring of the combat in the previous room. I say she was older because she seemed more capable, casting several Conjuration spells, one of which placed a Daedric Cuirass upon her. She summoned several hostile spirits that were similar to the few I had encountered the the Dunmer burial tombs, but kept use of her steel short sword. I ignored the ghosts and concentrated on the unarmored parts of her body. Her style was rough and unpracticed, more accustomed to spells than sword. Interestingly, the summoned Daedric Cuirass remained on her body even after death, though her ghosts had obediently disappeared. Whatever energy was sustaining its existence also maintained its position and could not be removed from the body, no matter what I tried.
The Vampires had only inhabited the rooms closest to the entrance, for when I entered the lower level I found no Vampires, but I still was not alone. Garrisoned on the lower level were several giant Dwemer constructions, each far larger than any race and all armed with weaponry somehow fused into their arms. Constructed entirely of Dwemer metal, they were incredibly tough to destroy, but not very dangerous. The many years of neglect appears to have taken their toll and I imagine in their prime they were far quicker, quiet, and more dangerous compared to the squeaking and squealing of their cumbersome metal limbs today. Their blows were delivered slowly with great strength, but they lacked the cunning of a thinking enemy and their attacks were easily predicted and dodged. If they were effective at one aspect of combat it was in damaging my spear and sword during my attempts to damage them. Attacking their joints seem to have the best effect.
The room with the giant telescope contained the last Vampire, this one larger and stronger than the others. He had his back turned to me when I entered the room, evidently poring over a book he had laid out on the table. I made no noise that I could hear, but he suddenly spun around and ran at me, maybe hoping to dash me to the ground before I could react.
For whatever reason, my first reaction was to cast my Blindness spell, despite it never having worked well previously. To my amazement, I not only cast it successfully, but it struck the Vampire and blinded him momentarily. I positioned myself to receive his attack once the spell wore off as he howled and swung his arms wildly (he wielded no weapon) in an attempt to find me. It would have be comical if the situation was not as deadly. I drank a potion of Invisibility just as it appeared he was regaining his vision and moved towards his desk, throwing a glass dagger past him and into the hallway to distract him. He spun towards the clattering and assumed I had run away, just as I had hoped. Amazingly, he returned to his book with a smug grin.
The grin did not last long. I drove my spear into his back as soon as he resumed reading and he gave an inhuman roar as he spun to attack me. He seemed to give no thought to the spear lodged in his back and eagerly clawed at my throat...and then collapsed in a heap. His struggling attacks had caught the spear's shaft against a Dwemer construct and when he moved again, the spear head slashed sideways through his spine. I made sure he died quickly. Other than the telescope, the room contained nothing of much interest and I steeled myself for my next task.
With their sadistic caretakers dead, the 'cattle' slaves would suffer slow, painful deaths as they starved or thirsted without sustenance. I knew of no way to help them recover their enchantment, nor did I think it would simply wear off. I killed each one of them, nearly all Khajiit, instantly and painlessly and buried them outside the fortress. I dumped the vampires into a lava pit, ensuring no trace of them remained.
|The Vampires' final sleep|
The storm was still raging when I left the ruins and I continued onward towards Tel Fyr, following a narrow snaking lake of lava to keep my bearings straight. I encountered a wild guar peacefully munching on some spiny ashland grass, not seeming to notice or care about the storm raging around it. The guar eyed me as if to gauge the likelihood of its lunch being interrupted, but I left it alone. After the death at the ruins, this little episode seemed not quite real.
I had no further adventures between the ruins and the Telvanni tower of Tel Fyr and the storm died down just as I was walking from the shore to the small island housing the tower.
Telvanni architecture always looks to owe more to being grown than built and Tel Fyr was no exception to the rule. It spirals up from the ground and actually sprouts branches and trunks at odd intervals, large mushrooms growing on top of some. Living quarters are carved out from the inside of the mushroom-tree and I expected the inside to be what living inside of a tree must look like.
I could not have been more wrong. Contrary to my expectation, the tower was open to visitors, so I knocked on the door and was greeted by a young Dunmer woman who asked if I was sick. Confused, I told her I was seeking a stone from Tel Fyr and she shrugged and said I was welcome to search for it. The architecture of the building was a very bright to my eyes and very gold, the combination unlike the inside of any tree I have seen.
The woman returned to whatever she was doing before my arrival and paid me no more attention. She was quite friendly though and cheerfully answered all of my questions. She introduced herself as 'one' of Divayth Fyr's wives, which was surprising, as I had not heard that the Dunmer subscribed to the practice of multiple spouses. She did not know about the Propylon Stone and suggested it might be below in what she called the 'Corprusarium', which she described as a haven of sorts for people and creatures afflicted by the Blight. Apparently Divayth Fyr enjoyed letting would-be thieves into the Corprusarium, with the understandable expectation that many of them would not be making it back out. Rather barbaric.
Another Dunmer woman, one of his other wives I suppose, informed me that 'Lord Fyr' was in his study and only reachable via a flywell. I had never heard the term before, but a flywell is really just a hole in the ceilings above, allowing one to levitate to the various upper levels via one common path. Very useful, if you can fly.
Which I normally cannot. But I had snatched a scroll which seemed to promise levitation a few days ago from the bandit cave and confidently stood below the flywell, recited the incantation, and brushed the ash off my hands as the scroll disintegrated. I expected to gently float upwards, but the scroll's magic sent me flying up three floors and dashed me against the ceiling. Had I not had my helmet on, I may have been knocked out at the very least, if not killed. The magic in the mysterious scroll was far more powerful than I anticipated and was certainly not written with flywells in mind. A painful, though harmless lesson in the risks of using scrolls you do not fully understand.
A second woman had witnessed my embarrassing ascent and sarcastically asked me if that had been my first time. It had, but I did not answer her jibe and asked for directions to Divayth, which she silently pointed out, her attitude a marked difference from the woman downstairs.
Divayth had his backed turned to the entrance of his chamber, his attention focused on something on the table in front of him, but my own was focused on his armor. With the exception of the helm, the man was (and still is) entirely armored with Daedric-infused plate. Value aside, the sum of the armor's weight must have been incredible and the man himself did not appear very strong, so the armor was not only rare on its own, but powerfully enchanted to either reduce the burden or increase the wearer's capacity to bear it. I remember thinking I would have to fight him in order to get the Propylon Stone, but I would quickly have been destroyed. I have fought Golden Saints, Dremora, and Daedroth, but Divayth would have been a foe all his own.
But my expectation was completely wrong. Divayth may be the most approachable Dunmer on Vvardenfell and perhaps not coincidentally, the most mad. Hearing me walking in, he turned around and greeted me jubilantly, catching me completely off-guard. He asked if I was infected with 'the divine disease', or if I came to plunder the Corprusarium or leer at his daughters...the last question being very odd for several reasons. I would wager not many Khajiit, male or female, came to his tower at all, and none just to look at the women.
He professed interest and amazement with the Blight disease and he works continuously to find out why the afflicted seem not to age, though their sanity rots and their body warps into hideous, unthinking monsters. He called the affliction both a curse and a blessing and has made it his life's ambition to separate the two. But immortality would be in itself a blessing and a curse, at least in my opinion, and I wonder what drives his ambition.
His speech grew stranger from there. He declared that the woman the he referred to as his 'daughters' were neither his wives nor his daughters, but the results of an experiment with flesh taken from a Corpus victim. He claims all of the women were grown in a jar from a combination of his own flesh and that harvested from a victim of the Blight. This is of course utter nonsense for people cannot be born in jars! The women must be very patient House retainers or private caretakers of some sort, perhaps making sure Divayth pauses his studies eat now and then. He seems the type.
Being over a thousand year sold, it may be that time is starting to play tricks on his mind. Whatever the case, the man is quite friendly and exceptionally skilled, definitely not what I expected when I came to visit the Telvanni wizard. When I asked him about the Propylon Stone he invited me to take it, declaring that he was thinking of tossing it into the Corprusarium for the 'guests' housed within to play with. I thanked him, pocketed the stone, and left him to his work.
The Divine Intervention scroll dropped me just outside of the Imperial fort 'Wolverine Hall' near Sadrith Mora and I walked through the deserted-looking Telvanni town to the Gateway Inn, where I rented a room. I could have stayed at the Mages Guild for free, but I am conscious of becoming insulated into the Guild like many of the others, most of who never seem to go outside, instead just teleporting from one guildhall to another, lost in their own little worlds.