Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Morrowind Day 58 - The Ruins of House Dagoth

11 Frost Fall
I woke at my normal time and spoke to Nibani before breakfast about her judgement of the Nerevarine prophecies as they may related to me. She claims her ancestors' spirits and various astrological signs show that I can in fact become the Nerevarine, prophesied hero of the Dunmer people. To become such, I must lift the seven curses of Dagoth Ur through seven tasks spoken of in The Seven Visions prophecy, the whole of which I have re-written here:

seven trials
What he puts his hand to, that shall be done.
What is left undone, that shall be done.

first trial
On a certain day to uncertain parents
Incarnate moon and star reborn.

second trial
Neither blight nor age can harm him.
The Curse-of-Flesh before him flies.

third trial
In caverns dark Azura's eye sees
And makes to shine the moon and star.

fourth trial
A stranger's voice unites the Houses.
Three Halls call him Hortator.

fifth trial
A stranger's hand unites the Velothi.
Four Tribes call him Nerevarine.

sixth trial
He honors blood of the tribe unmourned.
He eats their sin, and is reborn.

seventh trial
His mercy frees the cursed false gods,
Binds the broken, redeems the mad.

one destiny
He speaks the law for Veloth's people.
He speaks for their land, and names them great.

According to Nibani, I already fulfilled the first trial by means of my birth. Nibani did not understand the implications of the second trial, but when I told her of my being "cured" of Corpus by Divayth Fyr she merely remarked that being cured of Corpus was beyond belief, but to stop aging was a whole other matter. Still, she put faith in her ancestor spirits and accepted my words as truth.

The reminder of '...nor age can harm him' made me uneasy and I had succeeded in putting my apparent immortality out of my mind until this morning. Should someone find this journal (for whatever reason) in the years ahead, please track me down and ask me how I feel about it . I am sure I will have an interesting story to tell, if nothing else.

The third trial is unfulfilled. Nibani claimed the trial was a mystery whose answer was not hers to share and sent me to the aloof Sul-Matuul, whose role as the warrior-guardian of the Nerevarine cult made him a part of the prophecy as well.

True to his abrasive personality, he blandly told me that my being the Nerevarine was hard to believe and that Nibani's words have not yet swayed him to accept me. Instead, he bade me to go to a Dunmer fortress named Kogoruhn, the former home of House Dagoth, located close to Falasmaryon. 

Sul-Matuul gave me some advice before I left: be prepared. Haughty though he may be, the Dunmer is every bit the warrior as he claims to be. He and several warriors of the tribe had actually gone into the fortress and the man was not ashamed to admit that he was afraid for himself and his men the entire time. They left the fortress without losing anyone, but it was easy to tell that the raid left the proud warrior shaken.

He asked that I retrieve three things from the ruins: rags from a corpus beast, a goblet bearing the crest of House Dagoth, and an enchanted shield he called the 'Shadow Shield', which he said was lying deep underneath the fortress among pits of lava, on a tomb for a Dagoth Morin. Sounds like a wonderful resting place. If I bring him the three items, he will acknowledge me as warrior enough to be the Nerevarine and tell me what he knows of the third trial. Kogoruhn did not have a functioning Propylon Index (the latter events of today making the reason for that quite obvious), so it was another walk in the Ashlands for me.
Kogoruhn fortress
Curiously, the ruins of what I guess used to be houses dotted the area around the fortress. Was that to be typical of all the fortresses, or perhaps a plan of Dagoth Ur's to consolidate his people into one location? Whatever the plan, it did not come to fruition. The roof had no Propylon chamber, instead having three separate chambers, plus the main entrance. For reasons unknown, a simple ancestor spirit was wandering around and dispatched with less effort than it took to write this sentence.

Being the former residence of House Dagoth, I made sure to be well-prepared before I stepped into the first of the chambers. A good thing I was, for just inside was one of Dagoth Ur's tentacle-faced minions, who immediately rushed to engage me in melee combat. However, their strength lies in their spell-casting  and I quickly overpowered it.

The other two chambers each contained one of the floating horrors I encountered yesterday. They are far more powerful spell-casters than the tentacle-faces, but their withered arms make them just about defenseless when closely engaged. Each of the chambers had a supporting pillar in the center, making it easy to dance around and strike at the abominations as they ponderously tried to get into position to hit me with spells.
Scrawled on the floor of the two chambers were symbols I did not recognize and the phrase "The dreamer is awake". Is the dreamer Dagoth Ur? Or does it refer to the nightmare-haunted townspeople I have been encountering? 
I found a pile of corpus-infected rags in one of the chambers. Though not taken from a corpus creature, the stench was more than enough to give away their origin. Sul-Matuul will certainly be satisfied with them.

The inside of the actual fortress was typical of the others: one long passage circling the structure with open alcoves built along the way. Dagoth Ur's minions were in full occupancy of the place and I was able to kill the majority of them via bowshot down the long corridors. In one room I found a sheaf of poetry pinned to a table by a dagger, but the papers were full of fawning nonsense over the 'coming' of Dagoth Ur's new reign. Sitting atop a crate was a cup of House Dagoth. Two down, one to go.

I fought my way around the circular hallway and took the stairs upwards on to the roof once I had cleared the floor. Stepping outside on to the roof, I was greeted by the most pleasant sky I have seen since arriving on Vvardenfell. It proved to be an ironic gift given what I was to soon encounter underground.
I worked my way down to the lower level of the fortress and found more writing on the floor, this time in blood. I could not read the runic letters though. Perhaps I should have paid more attention to my temple studies after all.

Three richly equipped and long-dead adventurers were each locked in their own cell. Their manner of dead was impossible to determine, for they seemed unharmed physically. I initially thought they had been kept in the rooms until lack of water killed them, but their weapons were in the room and I think they would have killed themselves before succumbing to thirst. Whatever the case, one of the adventurers had been Khajiit and I left his body in peace. One of the adventurers had been wielding a glass halberd and I took a few experimental swings with it. Either the weapon is light enough or I am now strong enough, but it does not unbalance me the same way standard-issue steel halberds did. I took it with me and superstitiously left a few gemstones in its place.

 The fourth door led not to a dead adventurer, but a sewer system in the middle of the Ashlands somehow still filled with water. The wide open space provided ample opportunities for my bow and I felled one of the stone-skinned creatures, a Frost atronach, and a tentacle-faced creature without receiving a scratch.

A rough tunnel had been hewn out of the side of the sewers and the doorway had bloody rune lettering all over it. The tunneling beyond the door was similar to the underground section of Berandas, only with less breathable air and a great deal more lava. The latter proved to be handy after I lured my second angry Bonewalker into the molten sludge, destroying it instantly.

Beyond that Bonewalker was a long corridor, at the end of which I could see a vaguely human-shaped creature staring at me. It was not attacking, or shouting, or even pacing. Just standing there, watching me approach. This was entirely new behavior and with the air clouded by the lava fumes, the "creature" could have been Dunmer, possibly a stranded Ashland tribesman, so I declined to send arrows its way.

What ARE you?
The monstrous nature of my secret admirer became steadily more obvious as I grew closer and I began to regret my decision not to shoot whatever it was full of arrows. While it was easy to see that the thing used to be a Dunmer, the magics of Dagoth Ur had changed him (or her, I suppose) into a truly terrifying opponent. 

Easily seven feet tall, the monster was all muscle and looked completely capable of tearing me apart with hands stuck halfway between fingers and claws. A glowing orb was set into its forehead, which strongly resembled an eye and could not be removed. It was nearly naked, wearing only a loincloth and a bronze head-dress with unreadable runes all over it. The thing was not nearly as bizarre looking as some of Dagoth Ur's minions, but it was certainly the most menacing.

When I got close, it screamed and launched itself at me, but I had put my bow away in favor of my new halberd and was able to keep it at a distance with the weapon's longer reach. Unfortunately, my good sense must have failed me, for the Daedric spear was a far better choice but was then lying in the corridor so that I could be more mobile for combat against this horror.

Whatever abilities or magicka the creature may have possessed, it was set on grabbing me and presumably dashing me against the stone walls. It was very fast on its feet despite its size and I suffered several raking blows from its fingers which left wounds that alternated between burning pain and cold numbness. But the fight was not one-sided. The glass halberd took well to the creature's muscular flesh and the battle ended brutally. While it was dancing around me, I managed  to lop one of its feet off with a low swing, then immediately followed up with a strike against its neck when it toppled to the ground, completely severing the creature's head from it's shoulders. However, the blow also severely damaged the halberd's blade as it bit into the cavern floor.

I have an Orc back in the Auxiliaries to thank for that maneuver, though I find now I have forgotten almost all of their names and faces.

Distasteful as it may sound, I tried to pry the gemstone out of the creature's forehead, but it proved impossible to dislodge. I threw the head into a lava pit and took a few moments to examine the body. Naked as it was, there was not much to examine. It had a belt that was strongly enchanted, but I have not been able to identify with what. Someone at the Mages Guild will probably be able to tell me. The damage done to the halberd was enough that I left it with the headless corpse and I like to think that its final use was revenge enough for the fallen adventurer and his friends.

Everything after that seemed rather anti-climatic. I found Sul-Matuul's Dwemer 'Shadow Shield' in a room lined with altars and memorials, helpfully staffed by one of the tentacle-faced things. There was an Orcish warhammer on one altar and a pair of Daedric gauntlets on another, but I left everything alone. Anything taken from this place is a curse.

By the time I made my way back up and out of the fortress it was well past midnight, but the clear night sky was a welcome sight. Rather than walk back to the Ashland camp tired, wounded, and very nervous, I have locked myself in one of the small domes and will take a nap for a few hours until daybreak.
I do wonder if Sul-Matuul is actually expecting me to return.

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