21 Sun's Dusk
Sleeping on the large bed provided for me at the Manor is a far cry from the creaky, worn cot I have been using at Ald'ruhn. I woke this morning feeling as though I had slept for a week, which is likely why I accomplished what I did today.
Before I could attempt anything great I had to complete the minor task of women-finding. Naturally I had no idea how to even begin, but I figured asking around Ald'ruhn would be a decent way to start. I decided to visit the inns, first the Ald Skar Inn and then the Rat In The Pot to ask around, see if anyone female and single was looking to move out of Ald'ruhn.
I was surprised to be told there actually was such a woman: a Dunmer named Fathusa Girethi. She had been spending her nights at the Inn in decreasing sobriety, complaining all the while of the lack of eligible men in Ald'ruhn. She would loudly proclaim to anyone within earshot of her intention to move to Caldera and marry an Imperial, so I gather her frustration was considerable. My offer of living quarters at Indarys Manor was greatly welcomed by her and she set off for the Manor immediately with a piece of parchment from me allowing her residence.
My visit to The Rat In The Pot proved to be just as rewarding. I received a tip that a resident of Ald'ruhn, Aryni Orethi, was planning on moving to the mainland in the hope of getting married. Re-location to Indarys Manor was a much easier thing for her and she accepted just as eagerly as her frustrated comrade, promising to be at my stronghold by the end of the day.
The slave pen of Tel Aruhn was my last stop. The walk across the water from the Wolverine Hall was a bright pink courtesy of weather I cannot even begin to understand or predict. As disconcerting as the sky was, it was still preferable to the blood-red Blight storms and a stark contrast to what I encountered later.
To my surprise, Savile did not have the type of slaves I was looking for. She instead offered to purchase the slaves in my stead, all for the low price of two thousand Septims. I am sure she exaggerated the cost to suit her own purse, but she promised that two young Dunmer females would be at the manor by the end of tomorrow. I judged four women to be sufficient for the small settlement and Recalled back to Ald'ruhn so that I could make the trek to Indarys Manor. Hetman Guls seemed to approve of what I had done, stating that the manor would now grow and prosper. I am just glad to be finally done with all of these middling chores!
Galsa did not bother to check my claim that there were women now at the manor. She simply stated that the final phase of construction would begin shortly and bade me to have a good day. I would think that a manor-holder would get a little more respect than that, but being a Khajiit in Morrowind is a constant struggle.
And just like that I was finished with the day's task...but it was only time for lunch. With nothing left planned to do, I was about to starting collecting all of my possessions so that I can start determining what I shall be bringing to the manor and what I shall be donating. But the first items I gathered were all of the non-enchanted parchments that found their way to me and the sheet atop all the others was the plan given to me by Lord Vivec to ensure Dagoth Ur's defeat.
I had read it before, but I glanced over the plan once again, noting that I did complete, or at least was in progress of, the first phase of scouting raids against Red Mountain. The second phase is a suggestion to slay Dagoth Ur's Ash Vampires, but provides no location for any of them. The third phase is to recover an artifact named 'Sunder' in a Dwemer fortress north of Red Mountain, too far for me to travel right now.
However, the fourth phase of the plan sounded doable to me: find the companion artifact of 'Sunder', a blade called 'Keening', in a Dwemer ruin fairly close to Ghostgate. I felt confident that I could retrieve 'Keening' and still be back at Ald'ruhn before sundown.
Rather than following the winding paths to Ghostgate, I instead walked from Ald'ruhn until I reached the Ghostfence, then simply followed it around until I reached Ghostgate. I did on occasion have to use my levitation amulet to ascend over some hills, but it was a much quicker way to travel than walking. The thought did cross my mind to levitate over the Ghostfence itself, but I will save that strategy for another day. My destination within Ghostfence was the Dwemer ruin (called a 'Gate Citadel' in Vivec's document) of Odrosal and according to the map of the Buoyant Armigers it was just off to the center of Red Mountain, near Ghostgate. Levitation would not help me get there today.
|The deceptively intimidating Ghostgate Fortress|
I was immediately greeted by one of the Sixth House's minions, this one an unfortunate soul recently infected with Dagoth Ur's so-called 'Divine Touch'.
Perhaps he was working in one of the few mines operating within Red Mountain. Maybe an ex-crusader, come to fight the horrors of Dagoth Ur. There is no way of knowing.
His death seemed to trigger Dagoth Ur's attention and soon I was completely enveloped in a screaming Blight storm that reduced my visibility to about half the length of my spear. Not a comfortable way to be traveling, especially within Ghostfence.
Fortunately, none of the Sixth House understand the concept of stealth or I would have been in a great deal of trouble. As if to underline that point, I heard my second opponent charging at me long before I could see it, not that it made the experience any less frightening. It was an Ogrim so large that it's bulk occupied nearly the whole width of the path I was following. The heavy feet of the creature gave away its approach well in advance, but owing to the wind I could not take advantage with my bow, leaving me no choice but to engage the massive Daedra in hand-to-hand combat. One solid strike from the massive hands could have certainly broken a limb or stove in my chest or head, but the lumbering creature, as with his cousins, seem designed to attack castles, not warriors. His attacks were as clumsy and obvious as his approach and I slew the great Daedra with barely a scratch upon me.
Odrosal was relatively easy to find and is probably visible from Ghostgate if there is no storm slashing at your eyes. This Citadel of Dagoth Ur's was sparsely garrisoned by his elite soldiers and my foes were tough, but few. Chief among them was the Ash Vampire Vivec named as 'Odros'. I found him in a room with four pillars supporting a partially open ceiling. I thought this an easier fight than it was, for I failed to notice the Fire Atronach stalking the walkway above the room and it announced its presence by flinging fire at me as I danced among the pillars, stabbing the great Dagoth Odros with my spear. I managed to snatch an enchanted amulet from the Ash Vampire's neck as I dodged fireballs and left the room with the Fire Atronach greatly frustrated behind me.I expected the blade 'Keening' to be wielded by the most powerful foe in Odrosal and the Ash Vampire was no doubt that foe...but the blade was nowhere to be found on the corpse.
I explored the ruin a little further and fought a Golden Saint, the last of the tiny garrison of Odrosal. My survival in this place would have been measured in seconds three months ago, yet I strode through the mostly abandoned place healthy and well-rested, confident that anything I could deal with anything or anyone Dagoth Ur thought to put against me. Imperials have a phrase stating that pride usually precedes some great misfortune, but not today, for I found the blade 'Keening' soon after my combat against the Golden Saint.
'Keening' was in a room by itself, a small tower accessible via a ladder and a trapdoor that I somehow failed to see when I entered the ruin. The dagger, for it certainly is as such, was driven into a stone altar painted with foul illustrations surrounded by six of the Sixth House's iconic red candles.
One would expect with some trepidation of a deadly trap or a summoned creature upon removing the blade, but I pulled the heavy, unbalanced thing out of the altar with no sign that anyone, anywhere, noticed. Shaped like a large dagger, 'Keening' is not a weapon I would ever use, even if the alternative was tooth and claw. The "blade", which is putting it politely, is a solid chunk of crystal, with rounded edges and a blunt tip. Wielding it as if it were a club would be the most effective if striking something with it would not shatter the thing entirely.
But it is not for fighting, so all this can be excused. When the time comes to wield 'Keening' and the hammer 'Sunder', it will be against the magic forces that bind Dagoth Ur to this world, not against Dagoth Ur himself. Or so I hope. A quick activation of my amulet and I was instantly shedding red dust all over my soon-to-be vacated home in Ald'ruhn. 'Keening' is laying rather unceremoniously on a book while I contemplate the best way to acquire its sister artifact, 'Sunder'.
It has felt as if it has been a long time since I made a direct move against the Sixth House and this is the most direct I have moved so far. Should I acquire the hammer 'Sunder', I will at least technically be prepared to face Dagoth Ur himself within the depths of Red Mountain.
The thought of this does not frighten me, nor cause me any worry. It feels right, somehow. Things are progressing the way they should be and my role in all of this is one to be embraced. Perhaps this is just the calm one feels when all of the choices are stripped away.