Friday, May 22, 2015

Oblivion Day 3 - Attack on Kvatch

30 Last Seed, 3E433

I woke this morning in Skingrad fully expecting to walk into Kvatch, speak with the person I had been sent to retrieve, and suffer their presence on the long walk back to the monastery. Why I thought it would be this easy is beyond me.

On my way out of Skingrad a Bosmer urgently whispered that he and I had important business to discuss behind the chapel after midnight tonight, but I did not agree with this statement. Undeterred, he promised to be on time and scampered away. Soon after, a guard warned me about becoming involved with their resident 'eccentric' Wood Elf and I assured him I had no designs about cooperating with the crazy person.

The road between Skingrad and Kvatch were crawling with bandits and I killed four of them in just over an hour. At the time I thought the banditry to be the worst sign of the declining fortunes of the province, but events of the latter day would prove this entirely laughable.

As I approached Kvatch I noticed that the city was completed devoid of greenery. What trees were visible were bare and the ground around the city walls was scorched and devoid of life. Worried, I jogged the rest of the way up the curving road to the city, only to be met by a panicky Altmer urging me to get to abandon the city before the city's guardsmen were overwhelmed, though by what he apparently could not bring himself to say. Having warned me, he continued down the hill, running the entire way.
I got the full, much calmer story from a Redguard named 'Boldon' staying at a makeshift camp closer to the city. Portals had suddenly opened up throughout the town during the night, spilling forth Daedra that immediately cut down the surprised defenders and set fire to Kvatch, nearly burning the entire settlement to the ground, with great loss of life.

An older priest was wandering the camp, ranting that the Imperial line was dead and the "Covenant" was broken, allowing the Enemy, Lord Dagon, to return to this plane. It seemed the ranting of a madman until I started further up the hill to meet with what remained of the Guard.
It was a depressingly familiar experience.. Thunder suddenly rolled in, the sky darkened to blood-red, and sheets of purple lightning snaked overhead. Such an experience might have terrified another Khajiit, but I felt oddly comforted by the hellish horizon. It was as if an old friend decided to stop by and say hello.

The ranking guardsman was an Imperial, Captain Savlian Matius. The refugees had nothing but praise for the man and after speaking with him for a few moments I realized their devotion was entirely justified. The man had anger, fortitude, and skill with a blade, all three of which made him the Man of the Hour, so far as the citizens of Kvatch were concerned. He and three other guards were all that stood between a giant, flaming gate from which Imps poured out of and the defenseless refugees below.

Savlian lamented that he had no way to strike back at the enemy with the giant fiery portal blocking the city gate, so on an impulse, I offered to go into the portal and destroy it from within. He was surprised, sardonically pointing out that he was not in a position to refuse assistance even if it likely meant my death. He had sent several soldiers into the portal a few hours ago, but none had returned.
The land waiting for me was what I would have expected from the Plane of Oblivion: lava, heat, air that could barely be breathed, and a dead, barren soil saturated with the ruins of buildings and servants of Lord Dagon.
A body lay in front of me so badly burned that identification was impossible, the man's weapons and armor fused to his body in what must have fortunately been an instant, painless death. One man managed to escape death, Ilend Vonius, but he was far more interested in getting back to the barricade than he was in helping me shut down the portal. I cannot blame him, I do not believe descending into the Plane of Oblivion is typically what a guardsman expects to face during any given day. He babbled that one of the guards had been captured and dragged into a large tower and I promised to see if I could save the man. I sent him back to Savlian so that the Captain would know I had arrived safely and to save Ilend's life, for he did not seem capable of fighting any longer.

Oblivion was not quite as dangerous as I thought it might be. Outside the towers my foes were entirely Scamps and small ones at that. They flung fireballs at me inaccurately and even in melee proved to be easy opponents.

Courtesy of the ruins and the sparse amount of solid land, I seemed stuck to be walking in a spiral towards a pair of towers, one of which Ilend said one of the guards had been sent to.
As I approached the towers I was given a fine view of the bridge leading from them to the portal. The architecture was simple and effective, allowing large numbers of soldiers to march from within the towers to the portal in short order. It is no wonder the sleepy people of Kvatch had no chance against such an invasion. If the Enemy ever becomes coordinated, hundreds of these portals could discharge millions of Daedra in a matter of hours, overwhelming not only Cyrodiil but the whole Empire.
The entrance to the first tower was only guarded by a single Dremora archer, an old foe I was well-accustomed to fighting and defeating. The tower was more strongly garrisoned with Dremora in place of the outside's small Scamps, but I never encountered more than one Dremora at a time, so I had no trouble, even with my cheap long blade.

I found the missing solder, Menien Goneld, at the top of the smaller of the two towers in a room reachable by a precarious bridge joining the towers together. He was guarded only by a single Dremora, which had a key Menien said would unlock a chamber in the main tower that had something in it that would close the portal. I could find no way to free the man from his iron cage, but he insisted I leave him behind, as every moment the gate was open meant more Daedra could pour into the world. I agreed, but with a heavy heart. I did not like leaving him there, but I still maintain hope that closing the portal somehow freed him from the hellish Plane.

The chamber the key unlocked had another single Dremora, but also a sphere of some unknown material spinning at an incredible speed within a curl of fire. Nothing else in the room could have been it, so I assumed the sphere was the key to destroying the portal. With no idea what to do with it, I smacked it with my blade. Then the world exploded and a bright flash blinded me.
When I could see again (probably seconds later) I was standing in front of the gate of Kvatch between two stone pillars which remained to mark the former portal to Oblivion.
Savlian was overjoyed at the prospect of leading a charge back into the ruined city and asked that I come with them given that I had the most combat experience out of any of his men. I agreed and without further fanfare, charged into the city alongside the guardsmen.

The initial battle was brief and fiery, five Imperials and a Khajiit versus eight Scamps. We won the day with no loss to our side and were able to enter the chapel where my man of interest had taken refugee alongside the rest of the massacre's survivors.
Savlian gloated that we had completely wiped the bastards out, but conceded that the battle would grow increasingly difficult as we drew closer to the castle. He ordered the guards that had been in the chapel to escort the civilians to the refugee camp, then return to join the assault on Castle Kvatch. While we waited, a troop of Imperial Legion soldiers presented themselves to assist with the battle, having seen the smoldering city while on patrol between Skingrad and Anvil.

We hewed our way towards the castle through dozens of Scamps before finding that the portcullis was locked. The only way into the castle then was to lead a small party from the chapel, through an underground passage, and into the castle's guardhouse. Naturally, I was chosen to lead this party, but we did not fight anything that did not fall quickly and soon the full remainder of the Kvatch garrison was engaged in battle within the castle courtyard.

It was in this battle that we had our first causaulties: an Imperial Legion soldier and two guardsmen, but the enemy paid dearly for their deaths, losing more than a dozen of their number before we reached the entrance into the castle itself. One of the Legionnaires offered me the fallen man's steel long blade, a weapon superior to my own. I gratefully accepted, oddly pleased at this small gesture of respect.

The battle inside of the castle was more difficult, the quarters more cramped, and the Scamps significantly larger and stronger. Still, through teamwork and the skill of the Legionnaires we prevailed without further loss of life, only to discover that we were too late, the Count of Kvatch was dead. Savlian and the guards were waiting at the entrance to of the castle, so I and the Legionnaires returned to them bearing the late Count's signet ring. Savlian accepted the news well, thanking me for returning the ring for the next Count and rewarding me with his own armor, stating that he was done fighting for the rest of his life.

The man whose existence in Kvatch was the entire reason for my coming was back at the refugee camp. As a priest, he did not understand why he should follow me away from his own people and refused to leave the camp until he was sure everyone there was being taken care of. 

Having not slept now in over twenty-four hours, I had not the energy to argue nor make the trip back to the monastery anyway. So I am spending the night in the camp and we will be returning to the monastery tomorrow, whether he likes it or not.

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