Saturday, April 25, 2015

Morrowind Day 126 - Tribunal's End

18 Evening Star
This morning I reluctantly left the Balmora Mages Guild to Vivec, then to Ebonheart, and finally to Mournhold to talk to Yagak gro-Gluk about the reforging of Lord Nerevar's blade.
The blade was finished, but the design looked like a sketch a child might have drawn. The hilt of the sword has two small, useless blades jutting out from the ends and the blade itself was absurdly top-heavy, the height of the blade being nearly three times as wide as the base. If that wasn't bad enough, the primary side of the sword was uneven, with bits sticking out, possibly intended to catch an enemy's blade or cause them to laugh uncontrollably. Lord Nerevar must have been a very skilled warrior to utilize such a terribly designed weapon.
The sword was supposed to blaze with an unquenchable fire, but Yagak grumbled that if I wanted a Dwemer enchantment then I needed to talk to a Dwemer. This posed several problems, the greatest which was that no Dwemer existed in Tamriel save for the crippled Yagrum housed in Divayth Fyr's underground cavern. I feared I would have to make a very long trip back to the lonesome man, but Yagak said that a Dwemer spirit was said to inhabit the ruin of Bamz-Amschend beneath Mournhold and that he suspected this spirit would be able to set the sword permanently alight.

I wondered at the possibility of a Dwemer spirit just wandering around beneath me and why something like that would not be news of a greater significance save to place some fire upon my ungainly sword. It was not any stranger a request  than I have become accustomed to, so down below I went again.

Somehow the Dwemer guardians managed to fix themselves or new ones had been created, for I faced just as many hostile machines during my second trip to the ruins as I did during my first. The massive, unadorned hallways worked more to my advantage than theirs, allowing me to pick off several of them with arrows.
Yagak only mentioned that the spirit was somewhere in the ruins, not where in the ruins I should look. The dark over-sized corridors made me feel slightly disorientated, as though the ruins were not large, but I very small. It was an odd sensation and very unpleasant. I found myself rushing into each room as I came to them, just to stop the feeling that I was shrinking.

When I entered the room with the giant man-shaped machine, a voice called out seemingly from all around me, asking why I had disturbed "his" rest. I felt more relieved to be speaking with someone at all in the ruin than I was disturbed and simply replied that I had come in search of a Dwemer mystic to enchant a weapon of mine.

The voice laughed and declared that he was no mystic, but a simple soldier who had some skill at the anvil. He grumbled that no one ever seemed satisfied with a plain, effective weapon, but agreed to enchant the sword with fire in exchange for a bottle of something he called 'Pyroil Tar', which I could find deeper within the ruins.

It took one of the sacks of explosives to descend further underground, but when I came upon a large Daedric ruin I suspected I was in the right place. It was mostly flooded, which allowed me to shoot the Dremora inhabitants with little risk to myself. Sitting atop one of their ashy remains, for some reason, was a flask of thick, dark liquid, which I assumed was the Tar.

I returned to the room where I the spirit seemed to reside and he confirmed that the vial was of the Pyroil Tar. I laid the vial and the sword on a table and watched as the vial was invisibly grabbed and emptied over the blade, then a nearby cloth floated over and rubbed the oil into the steel. After a short Dwemer incantation the sword burst into flames and my invisible blacksmith mystic invited me to take the blade, complaining again that people these days did not appreciate a good plain weapon. I cannot say I cared much for the sword before or after the enchantment.
Almalexia was almost beside herself when I showed her the immolated blade of Lord Nerevar. Everything she said made me increasingly wary of her motives, especially the declaration that "our" time had finally come. Come for what? I had a suspicion "our" time was really "her" time. The final obstacle that stood in "our" way was her fellow demi-God, Sotha Sil.

She said that her he had grown unstable as of late and in the few times she spoke with him, he ranted about the fall of the Tribunal and the return of the Dunmer to ancestral worship. Due to his ravings and the attack upon the city by what she called his "Fabricants", he was deemed a threat, one that she declared I must end. The sword she called 'Trueflame' had the power to kill a god if it was wielded with noble intent, according to her and I was to dispatch Sotha Sil if he could not be reasoned with.

Of course I was given no actual choice in this. As soon as she finished her ringing declaration of war on her former friend I was teleported to his home, the Clockwork City.

It was poorly named. The so-called city had much more in common with Dunmer tombs and Dwemer citadels than any city I have seen. The Dwemer influence was especially obvious, with gears and levers and pipes which shot out gouts of steam adorning every wall of the place. Even the doors were devices: massive stone slabs lifted up and out of the way by a combination of levers, gears, and the occasional jet of steam.
The god's hostile creations were the only inhabitants of the broken, flooded city, but there were fewer of them than I expected. Evidence of a previous struggle unfolded as I descended. First was a door apparently blown clear off it's lever via some sort of explosion, though it appeared the destruction was recent, as there was still small fires burning all around it.
Beyond that was a round room with a device set into the ceiling which spun a collection of saw blades around a platform. At the far end of the platform was the only other door in the room, but the remains of Fabricants and the skeletal pieces of people littering the room suggested that it was not easy to get to. I had to discard all of my armor and weapons save for my spear and the glass dagger the King had given me to ensure I was fast and nimble enough not to be chopped into pieces.

I found a machine that created the fast, thin Fabricants, but the machine's doors closed during the creation, so I could not tell what was actually occurring. It also functioned as a sort of guardhouse since the only way further into the city was through the machine itself. Manipulating levers on the side of the thing allowed both doors to be open once a Fabricant was created and I rushed past the confused creature and proceeded deeper inside.
What I thought was the final obstacle between me and the mad God was a pit of lava over which a bridge was lowered from the ceiling after I pushed a lever. Not much of an obstacle, really. What awaited me in the next room was a much larger (and final) obstacle that hit far harder.

The room was domed, with gears spinning wildly on the walls to no apparent purpose. At the other set of doors were two huge mechanical men, one in a state of disrepair and missing an arm. Its brother however was in perfect working order.
It hit like a pack of Kagouti and could fire bolts of lightning, making it very dangerous at any distance. The thing also had no obvious weaknesses and all I had was my spear and dagger, the latter which was utterly useless in the fight. The only advantage I had was the speed my lack of armor provided me, but as always for a Khajiit, it proved enough.

My metal opponent did have one slight problem: it was not quick. This would not have been an issue if  I had been pursued by both machines in the small room, but on its own it was simply too cumbersome to fight me effectively, so long as I stayed closed. A swing of its giant arms would have crushed every bone in my body, but it took the machine a few seconds to actually draw back and swing, letting me duck underneath and strike from behind. Initially I aimed to damage its torso, but switched to jabbing at its aged knee joints so as to cripple it.

That worked much better than I expected, for one when of its knees collapsed it became unable to stand and crashed to the floor. I guessed that a stab to the back of the head would end it like everything else, so I dug my spear into the cables at the rear of its neck and it stopped struggling. I suppose I killed it, but I have no way or concern to be certain of that.
In the final room was Sotha Sil...what remained of him. His body was like nothing I had seen before: part man, part machine, and wholly connected into his "city" via cables running out of his back to various holes and devices set into the ceiling. The effect was similar to a hunter mounting an animal to his wall, which proved oddly prescient when Almalexia appeared behind me with a loud popping noise and the metallic tang of magicka.
She was wearing a mask I had not seen before and immediately revealed her role in everything. I was to meet my death in Sotha Sil's Clockwork City, probably at the hands of the late god's mechanical bodyguard, so that Almalexia could point at Sotha Sil as the murderer of the Nerevarine. Thus martyred, she could mask her murder of Sotha Sil as an act of justice for my death, returning to Mournhold as the savior of Morrowind.

She admitted that when she returned to her own city she would tell everyone that I proclaimed my devotion to her with my dying breath so that she would be hailed as the one "true" God of the Dunmer. Naturally being the only God meant that Vivec would have to disappear as well and she scoffed at the suggestion that he might not be so easy to kill as her former friend had been. She called him a poet and a fool, declaring that his time would be soon to come. Having said that, she drew her sword, companion to my 'Trueflame' now abandoned in the saw-blade room, and attacked.
She was quick, far quicker than Sotha Sil's bodyguard, and just as dangerous at range with her spells and up close with her blue-flamed sword. I knew I had no chance against her in a straight fight with just my spear and dagger, so a certain amount of trickery would have to be involved. 

I did not expect Almalexia to actually try killing me, but I did suspect that something was not right with her story about Sotha Sil, so I was not entirely unprepared for her ambush. Two scrolls to summon Golden Saints distracted her while I hid behind a column studded with Sotha Sil's cables and cast an improved Invisibility spell courtesy of Estirdalin.

The Golden Saints did their best, but Almalexia was barely winded after she dispatched them to where ever they came from. Just as she started to turn around an invisible Khajiit pounced, locked her arms underneath her, and slit her throat, ironically with the dagger her paranoid rival had gifted to her would-be victim.
For all her lust for approval and affection from the Dunmer, she died in a city bereft of people, steps away from her the brother-God that she murdered so that she might once again bask in the glories of her past. She was undone by her own delusions of grandeur and her dismissal of a Khajiit that had already accomplished what the Tribunal never could.

I can only imagine King Helseth was her next target, followed by Vivec. The battle between her Ordinators and the King's Royal Guardsmen would have been quite a struggle and one that would have likely seen Imperial Legionnaires become involved before long. The more I think about it, the more I am certain that Almalexia was doomed to fail, if not by my hand then probably by Vivec's at the request of the Emperor. A very difficult situation, no matter how you look at it.

Despite her attempted murder of me, I cannot bring myself to extinguish all the pity from my heart. She fell victim to fear of her own mortality, something I am personally afraid is not a concern of mine any longer. 

Almalexia's death left me in a bit of a quandary: I had no way to get back to Mournhold. She had managed to get into Sotha Sil's room somehow so I searched her body hoping to find some way back. The ring I had pulled from the lich's fingers some time ago was on her own hand, so I took it as a matter of course, not realizing it was my key in getting back home.

I must have paced around the room for hours before it occurred to me to try the ring on. As soon as I set the ring on my finger there was a flash of light and I was suddenly standing outside the Temple. A familiar figure shimmered into sight before me.
Azura, the Daedric Prince of Dawn and Dusk, stood before me once again, though the people walking around us did not seem to notice. The visitation was apparently for me and me alone.

She assured me that Sotha Sil's death likely came as a relief to him, tired that he was of the life he had been leading, or not, as it were. Azura confirmed my belief: Almalexia's death was fated, the result of godhood set upon a trio of mortals unprepared for the responsibilities and burdens their power had given them. I wondered about Vivec and as if reading my mind, Azura continued on. His time, according to her, is growing short and it was her hope that I remain in Morrowind as the Nerevarine, champion of a people who continually treated me as something to be kicked aside at best.

I delivered what I expected would be unbelievable news to King Helseth, but he believed my whole story and rewarded my "service" to the throne with a full suit of Royal Guardsman armor, which I especially appreciated due to not having any armor at the time.

Tonight I will stay in Mournhold and tomorrow I shall visit Vivec and deliver the news of his former comrades' deaths, though I suppose it is possible that he already knows through some divine method. Then I suppose it's back to Solstheim to continue my work with the East Empire Company.

Another God dead at my hands.

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