12 Frost Fall
You would think taking a nap in House Dagoth's former stronghold would invite all sorts of nightmares, given what I have experienced from Dagoth Ur while asleep. But my brief rest was undisturbed. Sleep at home: Nightmares and attacks by monsters, sleep under Dagoth Ur's roof: peaceful sleep. I suppose stranger things have happened.
The Blight storm was still raging when I walked outside. Are the storms directly controlled by Dagoth Ur or are they a side-effect of the growing power within the Red Mountain? Whatever their origin, the storm lasted the entire day and I do wonder if it has any connection with the Ash Vampire I slew yesterday.
The walk back to the Urshilaku camp was dust-filled, but uneventful. Sul-Matuul was surprised to see me return, admitting that while he did think I would survive, he did not expect me to complete the task so soon. In bringing the three items before him, I have completed his personal test and he revealed what he knew of the third trial of the Nerevarine.
The third trial really came in two parts: the first was Wisdom's Test, a simple puzzle in the form of a riddle. Solving it would lead me to the Cavern of the Incarnate, the second part of the trial. Decoding the riddle would provide directions. The riddle was:
the eye of the needle lies in the teeth of the wind
the mouth of the cave lies in the skin of the pearl
the dream is the door and the star is the key
Once I found the Cavern I was to acquire 'the moon and star' and bring it to Nibani. Sul-Matuul called the puzzle Wisdom's Test, but the wisdom was simply in asking the right people. Several of the Ashlanders were able to decode the riddle's lines and helpfully pointed me to the east. I was to travel along the coast until I saw two tall stone spires, the 'teeth of the wind', on either side of a small valley, which I guess is the 'eye of the needle'.
The Blight storm reduced visibility to roughly three feet in front of me, but it did the same for everything else in the Ashlands. I walked right along the shore to maintain my direction and was trailed by several Dreugh certainly hoping I would slip and fall into the water. Even in the storm, the spires were pretty easy to locate, as they sat at the very end of the coast before the mountains separating the Ashlands from the eastern grasslands.
The valley did nothing to block the dust of the Blight storm and I was tempted to duck into a tomb I passed along the way, but it was starting to grow late and I did not want to have to walk back to camp at night during a Blight storm.
Finding the door to the Cavern of the Incarnate was very easy, for the valley terminated at the entrance. I had been told the door would only open when Azura's star was visible, but my hands were barely visible thanks to the storm, so I tried pushing it open. If it was stuck I could simply wait a bit.
The door opened easily and I stepped inside the unusually cool air of the cavern. Immediately ahead of me was a very large and skillfully carved statue of the Daedric Prince Azura. Though clearly a Daedric shrine of some kind, it completely lacked the architecture of the other shrines and I felt at peace while I was there. I could see mummified bodies sitting around the shrine as I saw in the Urshilaku burial cavern, but they were not armed as the tribe's were. As I drew closer to the statue, I saw a ring floating within its cupped hands.
The ring was faced with a silver moon and a golden star, the symbols of Azura. Something in me felt compelled to take it and the world froze just as I wrapped my hand around it. Suddenly I was floating just above the Red Mountain, but the sky was clear and I could see the whole of Morrowind. Visions danced before my eyes and a voice exploded within my head. I will forever remember the words:
Nerevar reborn, Incarnate, your first three trials are finished, now two new trials lie before you.
Seek the Ashlander Ashkhans and the Great House councilors.
Four tribes must name you Nerevarine, three Houses must name you Hortator.
My servant, Nibani Maesa, shall be your guide and when you are Hortator and Nerevarine,
when you have stood before the False Gods and freed the Heart from its prison,
heal my people and restore Morrowind.
Do this for me and with my blessing.
...and then I felt something hit my hand and I was back in the cavern again, the ring within my grasp and the voice and visions completely gone. The voice was the same one that plagued my dreams while on the ship to Seyda Neen and it seems that Azura has singled me out to be the savior of the Dunmer people. I wish I knew more about Temple doctrine, but my short time there was spent sweeping floors more often than not. She's credited with creating the Khajiit and said by the Dunmer to be involved with their creation somehow, but more than that I do not know.
When I turned to leave, I was quite startled by the ghost standing behind me. Contrary to the skeletal ghosts the Dunmer guard their tombs with, this one appeared as a young Dunmer woman. The spirit was friendly and called herself 'Peakstar', one of the failed Incarnates.
She had quite a list of titles to bequeath upon me: Incarnate, Moon-and-Star Reborn, Hortator, Nerevarine, Mourner of the Tribe Unmourned, and the Redeemer of the False Gods. I thought this odd, considering I was just told that I was not yet the Nerevarine nor Hortator, but I suppose I would be a bit out of it if my spirit had been stuck in the cave for who knows how many years.
The spirit of Peakstar proved to be quite enlightening. The Moon-and-Star ring on my hand confirms that I am one of the incarnations of Nerevar, for anyone else would have been killed when they put the ring on. As the group of spirits in the cave would attest to, merely being Nerevar Reborn is no guarantee of success: Peakstar's run as Incarnate ended at the clawed hands of an Ash Vampire, the description of which matched the jeweled-head creature I had decapitated under Kogoruhn.
The Tribe Unmourned is House Dagoth and Peakstar advised that I pity the House rather than hate it, for the fall of Dagoth Ur came about only due to "my" instructions to guard the artifacts under Red Mountain. Following the Nerevar's instruction, Dagoth Ur defended the tools from the Tribunal, ultimately leading to the situation I find myself in now. I must say that I do not agree with Peakstar's view, for following that logic means that Peakstar herself is just as much to blame, having been the Incarnate at one time. Either way, it was interesting to hear.
The False Gods that the Incarnate is the redeemer of are the three of the Tribunal: Vivec, Almalexia, and Sotha Sil. They used the artifacts taken from Red Mountain to grant themselves Godhood and raised themselves up as the guardians of Morrowind, to the best of my understanding.
She conjured up a belt and pants from somewhere Beyond and gave them to me as gifts to assist me against Dagoth Ur. The belt is pretty much useless to me, but the pants have a levitating enchantment on them and will actually be useful...if I can get them altered to fit me. Any clothier should be able to help me.
The other spirits were briefer in their advice to me. The next I spoke to was named Ane Teria, who lived her life as a devout crusader for the Tribunal Temple. She was also something of an author and her writings were suppressed after her death, eventually becoming part of the Dissident Priest's hidden library, though I cannot remember if I read anything written by her. While she spent her life in faithful service to the Temple, she ignored the call of Azura and denied her role as the Nerevarine. She provided a book and her old mace.
Next was a sorcerer named Erur-Dan, who lived during Morrowind's surrender to the Empire. He wasted his life away on vengeance against the Imperials and eventually died in battle at Red Mountain, forever buried under the howling dust of the perpetual storm. His gifts were more appropriate for me, but still of limited use: an enchanted chitin spear and an enchanted bonemold cuirass.
Idrenie Nerothan was a thief Incarnate who fought against the Akaviri when they invaded Morrowind, an event I know absolutely nothing about, save for that it occurred a long time ago. She provided a high quality lock-pick and a thief's probe. She claimed to have worked behind the scenes against the Akaviri and learned only of the Nerevarine prophecy when the war drove her to seek refuge with the Ashland tribes. As for her fate, she would only say she died in Kogoruhn while trying to find treasure.
Perhaps the closest to success among the spirits was the former Ashkhan, Conoon Chodala. He led his tribe against the Akaviri which led to his peoples' deaths. He survived the war, making repeated raids into Red Mountain in an attempt to cleanse the horror from the land. In this he was successful, reclaiming many ruined fortresses in his day, but he did not heed the wise-women of the tribes and while he was marked as a savior, he craved only glory in battle, never becoming the Nerevarine. He offered his boots and a battle axe.
The final spirit was a cultured-sounding Dunmer named Hort Ledd. He claimed to have died four hundred years ago, a man of thought rather than action. He knew he was marked as the Incarnate, but he described himself with derision as a 'thinker, not a doer'. He likely died peacefully, having accomplished nothing. From him I received a book and a robe.
And that was my initiation rite into the group of the select few, and up until now, all Dunmer group of Incarnates. I felt it would be quite rude to dump their gifts on the floor, so I was forced to carry all of it out with me, as the spirits did not disappear as I was leaving. I would like to donate them to the Temple, but I gather I am no longer welcome within that institution. I suppose I could just store everything at home...should I ever find myself back there.
The Blight storm was still going strong when I left the cavern and I struggled against the wind all the way back to the camp. I arrived close to midnight, but Nibani had been waiting for my return. She was pleased to hear that everything matched what she saw in her dreams and my story affirmed that Azura has marked the part she is to play in the Prophecy.
She advised that I first be named Nerevarine by the Ashkhans of the four great tribes: the Urshilaku, the Ahemmusa, the Zainab, and the Erabenimsun, before attempting to be named Hortator by the Houses. To be named Nerevarine by the Urshilaku only requires that I ask it of from Sul-Matuul, but it is very early in the morning now and I need to rest. It can certainly wait until...later today.