14 Frost Fall
Sinnammu was eager to accompany me and insisted on leaving before either of us had eaten, something that I am certainly not used to. True to her word, the woman could cast her own water walking spell and I started across the water slowly so that she could keep up with me, only to have her arrogantly trot past me with a command to hurry up.
Gratitude comes harder for some people I suppose.
A Dunmer woman greeted us from the shore as we approached the island shrine, but she asked if we were there for the dance. When asked, she replied that there were free drinks inside and to watch out for the 'silver hats' and their rough dancing. She obviously meant the Ordinators, but seemed unaware that her cultist friends had been wiped out. She was oddly friendly though and Sinnammu's only reaction to her was to irritably ask if I was planning on talking to crazy people all day. We left the confused woman in peace and continued into the shrine.
The Ordinators were still at the shrine but they recognized me and did not hinder us. I expected Sinnammu would at least have commented on the presence of the many dead bodies in her tribe's "safe place", but she was very single-minded in wanting to reach the shrine of Sheogorath. Such was her determination that I would have suspected Sinnammu herself to be a cultist if she had not been spoken of so highly by Nibani.
Either way, she solemnly declared me to be the Ahemmusa Nerevarine and swore that the tribe would follow me unto death, her apparently favorite subject. She handed me an amulet she called the 'Madstone of the Ahemmusa', a name suspiciously in line with their refuge being a shrine to Sheogorath, but I am Ahemmusa Nerevarine now, so I guess it does not matter much. The amulet was enchanted to produce a very loud noise upon activation. I failed to see the use of this and Sinnammu explained that it would make it more difficult for spell-casters to fire off their spells. Useful, but I have not had any major problems with spell-casters so far. Usually sneaking invisibly behind them and impaling them with a spear makes it quite difficult for them to cast spells.
She wanted to stay at the shrine for awhile, so I left her behind and started off towards the Zainab tribe's camp, almost directly (though far) to the south of Ald Daedroth. On the way there, I came across a small round building built adjacent to an egg mine and guarded by a sickly-looking Kagouti.
I felled the Kagouti with an arrow and carefully pushed the door open with my spear. The architecture was mostly Imperial with a fair amount of the walls simply being unfinished rock. A Dremora was patrolling the corridors and attacked me with an odd Daedric-looking club with two dull prongs. It had a very short reach and the battle was no doubt lengthened due to the weaker striking power of my chitin spear, but I was of course victorious. The club will make an interesting addition to my collection at home.
Further into the building I came across scattered pieces of paper that someone named Beram was using as a journal. The first few pages showed his irritation with his 'masters', for the man seemed to have been a foreman among a bunch of miners hired to dig out the cavern I was in. As I came across more of the man's journal pages, they started to spell a pretty chilling story of a monster that stalked and mutilated the miners one by one after they became trapped when their scaffolding collapsed on them.
What I can only assume is the final journal of Beram's simply states 'HE IS HERE'...then nothing. Was the monster really just the Dremora I dispatched with my cheap spear? Aside from some giant bugs and rats, there was nothing else to see and I left the forlorn place.
The Zainab were far more welcoming of me than the Ahemmusa had been. Again, word of my arrival had preceded me, but at least the Zainab I talked to were more accepting of my possibly being the Nerevarine. I was told to talk to the Ashkhan Kaushad who was described to me as 'ever-curious' and friendly towards outlanders. A welcome change.
He was cordial towards me and offered me the hospitality of his tribe in exchange for any news and rumors I had picked up on my travels. When he asked me how an outlander could end up being the Nerevarine I simply showed him the relics of the Urshilaku and Ahemmusa tribes, as well as the ring of Moon-and-Star.
But he laughed in my face and asked I believed my own stories. I guess he expected me to be mad at him, but I knew he was only baiting me. So I matched his disbelief with bravado, asking him to put me to the test as Nerevarine. He seemed to approve of my attitude and grinned as he explained he needed a vampire removed from a nearby ancestral tomb dedicated to the Nerano family. Seemed easy enough.
The directions he gave me were simple: follow the mountains separating the Ashland from the Grazeland and walk north until I passed a Dwemer ruin. Once past the ruin, I needed to find two trees to the east which flanked the tomb's entrance. It was growing dark when I left his tent, but I was confident that I, at least, would be able to see in the dark.
The walk was encouragingly quiet. The Dwemer ruin had an interesting weapon that appeared to be a large bow designed to shoot giant metal spears, but the device had long since been conquered by the surrounding vegetation and was completely inoperable.
I found the tomb without any trouble and as my usual custom, opened the door with my spear. Typical of the Dunmer tombs, the entrance-way only opened on to a stairwell that led down to another door, the entrance to the actual tomb.
Beyond the second door was a Bonewalker busy tearing the corpse of an Imperial into ever-smaller pieces, which it would occasionally slap on to its own body. Quite disgusting! So occupied, the creature failed to notice me and died instantly to a spear through the back of the neck, crashing wetly on to the dead Imperial.
The room beyond was splattered with blood and limbs, all of it evidently from the three mutilated bodies in the center of the room. The tomb's skeletal guardians did their best to deliver me the same fate as the bandits', but skeletons have long since ceased to cause me concern. A note on one of the bodies suggests that the bandits were betrayed by one of their own to the vampire Kaushad had sent me to slay.
The vampire himself was rather anti-climatic. Given Kaushad's urgency with having him removed and the death of a fairly large group of bandits, I had been expecting an elder vampire the likes of which I had encountered in the Dwemer ruins so long ago. Instead I got a rich-looking Imperial with bloodlust in his eyes and little else.
I arrived back at the Zainab campsite just before midnight and spoke with Kaushad, fully expecting to be named Zainab Nerevarine. I had completed his task, right? Wrong! The wily Ashkhan said he would be happy to name me Nerevarine, but Ashland custom dictated that I gift him with something valuable first. I should have expected it.
The 'gift' that he politely demanded was a high-born Telvanni bride and his requirements were pretty strict: "a pretty one, plump, with big hips to bring me many sons". He claimed that any of the noble families of the Great House would consider the betrothal an honor, but to have such an opinion makes me doubt he has actually met any high-born Telvanni. He advised to speak with the wise woman regarding this matter, as she would know whom would be the best match for him.
From vampire-slayer to matchmaker? Certainly a strange twist, but if I need to do this to named Nerevarine of the tribe, then I have no choice. I will speak with the wise woman, Sonummu, tomorrow and figure just how I am to convince a Telvanni of any class to marry an Ashlander.