3 Sun's Dusk
Today's mission: Explore the possibility of there being an 'underground' passage from within Red Mountain to the outside. Unless Dagoth Ur was in the mining industry, it seemed rather unlikely that he would be using any one of the numerous mines and smuggler dens around Ghostfence to ferry his followers underneath the barrier. The former Sixth House base, Kogoruhn fortress, seemed to be the best place to start my search.
The walk from Ald'ruhn to the fortress was long, boring, and full of dust. I was repeatedly stopped by blight-maddened Cliff Racers and I was feeling quite worn down by the time I finally reached the ruined fortress. I anticipated heavy resistance from the Sixth House cultists within and cautiously entered the fortress. I need not have worried. Whatever Dagoth Ur needs to do in order to garrison his holdings, he had not done yet done it for Kogoruhn. The only creatures I fought on the entrance level was a tentacle-faced priest of the Sixth House and one of the mountainous brutes from the Blight, both taken down by my silvered arrows. Save for them, the floor above ground was completely deserted.
I went down one level and fought a single Clannfear Daedra and poked around a section of the fortress I had skipped during my first terrifying raid. I found little of substance, but I took an interesting looking (and unwearable) helmet.
Gold coins had been stacked on the floor to form the symbol of the Sixth House and a crude sort of paint had been used to duplicate the symbol on the walls. In another room there were piles of furniture stacked into the corners and balanced on one another, with more symbols on the walls, but no sign of who could have done any of this.
The sewer system leading into the underground section was well populated with Atronachs and minor minons of the Sixth House. Nothing I could not handle with my bow. The cavern underground the fortress where I had met my first Ash Vampire was eerily empty. I remembered that there had been a door behind the creature that I had not gone through at the time, but I could not remember if the door looked as though it might lead outside and therefore to Red Mountain.
I could feel and smell the breeze blowing from under the door and I had high hopes that my quest would be solved that easily. Getting outside was the easy part.
Surviving outside however, was going to be a lot more difficult. I walked outside into a Red Mountain Blight storm, because I must not have had enough dust trapped in my fur already. Ordinarily I would have Recalled home and not taken the risk of wandering around, but I needed to try and figure out where the underground passage had actually placed me.
I could just barely see my spear right in front of my face and needless to say, it was impossible to see where inside the Ghostfence I actually was. I did explore a little in an attempt to find a path back to Ghostgate, but I gave up after being ambushed three times by spell-flinging Sixth House monsters. I was just about to use my Recall amulet when I somehow managed to stumble into a mine door.
The mine was naturally abandoned, but remained rich in blighted rats, giant bugs, Dremora, and most importantly: raw ebony. Seams of the stuff ran almost the entire length of the mine and I could not begin to estimate how much wealth was locked up in the rock. Curiously, I also found a Daedric-enchanted two-handed sword implanted in rock spire and surrounded by skulls. Very ritualistic...and heavy. And useless. I left the giant blade stuck in its pile of skulls.
My heart was not into another walk outside and I decided to Recall out from the cave, having confirmed that there is a way to pass through the Ghostfence unseen. I am not sure who would be willing to garrison the ruined fortress. The Imperial Legion? House Redoran? The Mages Guild? I do not know and the unfortunate answer may be 'no one' for lack of resources or inclination.
The helmet I found goes well with the other interesting ones I have on display at home, though there really is no good reason to have any of them other than as decorations.
Tomorrow I will start my coastal patrol, visiting all of the small backwater villages to secure the safety of people who probably view me as a walking wall decoration. It will take more time to visit each village individually from Ald'ruhn as it would traveling from each one, so this will be the last night in some time that I will be spending at home in comfort.