Friday, October 16, 2015

Oblivion Day 44 - The Defense of Bruma

11 Frost Fall, 3E433
Cloud Ruler Temple

What a day. As usual, it began with a long ride in the early morning rain. It seems that whenever I am outside, it rains. I step into a building for a moment and perhaps it momentarily stops raining. Who knows? To say the Gods seem to have it out for me lately would not seem an exaggeration.

With the Great Welkynd stone humming at the bottom of my pack, I left Skingrad and rode through the morning (and the rain) to Bruma.
I arrived at Cloud Ruler Temple just as the Blades were finishing their lunches and walked into the Great Hall expecting to see Martin poring over his books. Instead I found Jauffre, Baurus, and Martin in full armor arguing among themselves, with Jauffre and Baurus seemingly against Martin, which I thought unusual.
Martin correctly  assumed my arrival meant the acquisition of the Great Welkynd stone and he spent a moment marveling at the beauty of the massive chunk of crystal. Having the blood of the Divine and the Great Welkynd stone meant we were only one item away from being able to venture into Paradise and reclaim the Amulet of Kings. Acquiring this final item was the topic of the three men's argument.

The final item was the Great Welkynd stone's dark counterpart: a Great Sigil Stone from Oblivion. Martin stated that his plan was to let the cultists open up a Great Gate, the same as the one which destroyed Kvatch, outside of Bruma. Only the Oblivion realm entered into through a Great Gate would contain a Great Sigil Stone. There was a catch of course. Two smaller "normal" Gates would have to remain open before the Great Gate would be summoned and the garrison of Bruma could expect waves of Daedra to pour out of them in support of the Daedric siege engine that would eventually emerge from the Great Gate to destroy the city.

He proudly announced his intention to lead the garrison I had collected to the Gates once they opened and disregarded my objection that the death of the only heir to the throne would doom the world. To him, being the future Emperor somehow meant leading from the front, even if his loss meant the inevitable deaths of millions across Tamriel. This from someone who was a priest just over a month ago. I, for one, had concerns about this plan.

There was one hole in the plan that I felt he was making sure not to mention: how were we to know when the Mythic Dawn would try to open the Great Gate? They certainly never published their intentions ahead of time and I have never caught anyone in the act of opening one. There was no way to know when the Great Gate would appear outside of Bruma, but Martin spoke as if it was scheduled with him ahead of time. He even went so far as to conclude our conversation by asking me to talk with the Countess of Bruma and have her meet him in the Chapel for a council of war. He was prepared to go to war with an unpredictable foe who we were depending on being utterly predictable. It seemed I had no choice in the matter, so I agreed to go and the argument that had been raging on before my arrival restarted as I left the Great Hall.

Countess Narina was the opposite picture of Martin's wild optimism. She listened to my request then commented that I was the first person to speak of victory during this crisis before going on to say that they had been unable to do anything but wait for a hero arise and save them. I had to bite my tongue to prevent several suggestions from escaping. Rather insultingly the Countess declared that Martin may very well be the hero she had been waiting for, not knowing the man, brave though he may be, has not yet done a whole lot other than study his books and send me out after artifacts.

But she agreed to meet Martin in the Chapel and ordered her guards to stop closing the Gates...not that there was any evidence they had been closing any.

The "council of war" in the Chapel was more of an introduction between Martin and Countess Narina. The Countess did refer to me as Martin's "champion", which I gather will be the only praise I shall receive for my role during this entire catastrophe. Contrary to what I expected, there was no planning and there was no strategy. There was simply Martin confidently leaving the Chapel with the Countess's blessing, the bolstered garrison of Bruma following behind.
We walked out of the city via the east gate and followed Martin down the road. I was jogging alongside him and he turned to me and talked to me about his early days in the Mages Guild. He admitted that he and his fellow guildmates had grown impatient with the Guild's rate of education and they dabbled with Daedric magic. Eventually they reached too far and their experiments resulted in peoples' deaths, his friends' among them. I wondered why he was telling me this, but then we came to a depression alongside the walls of Bruma and much to my surprise there was an open Gate there...and a horse.
We quickly lined up before the Gate and Martin delivered a small speech to the nervous guards. I do not recall much of it, my mind was busy processing Martin's story with the coincidence of a Gate having been waiting just where Martin had been leading us. And the horse waiting there placidly was obviously well-trained and used to such a sight to not have fled. Any further thoughts I had on this subject were cut short by the horde of Daedra that started to pour out of the Gate.
Gone were the Scamps and Clannfear I was used to fighting. Heavily-armed Dremora rushed the line, followed by hulking Daedroth. Martin ordered me to wait on the ridge behind us and rush the Great Gate as soon as it appeared. I did not have to wait long. After the first wave of Daedra were defeated the second Gate opened up and both discharged more Daedra which were fought off with losses.

Then the Great Gate appeared, silently rising up from the earth between the smaller Gates. As soon as its blood-red light blazed forth I rushed through the fray and into the Gate. What awaited me was unlike any plane of Oblivion I have visited. The Great Gate sent me to a much smaller place, the bulk of which was occupied by the creeping Daedric siege engine and the Daedric bulwarks flanking it.
My experience in Oblivion this time does not owe itself to much mention. I had to assault a small tower to gain access to the bulwarks, then run along it while being peppered with arrows from Dremora archers stationed atop the towers. After fighting through another tower I had to leap across a broken bridge only to face two more towers between which sat a large tower, undoubtedly where the Great Sigil Stone would be found. I was fortunate to find an Elven long blade in the second of the smaller towers along the bulwark, greatly improving my reach over the short blade I have been using.

The small tower across the bridge had a lever which opened the massive doors separating me from the Sigil tower, but only a single Dremora was guarding it, my long blade making the battle an almost effortless one.
The Sigil tower was no different than any of the dozens I have already faced, though the stone, befitting its name, was larger than the ones I have been finding.
As soon as I yanked it from above its pedestal the Plane started to collapse as it always did and with a bright flash of light I suddenly found myself back on the battlefield of Bruma.
The battle which had been going well when I entered the Great Gate had evidently taken a turn for the very worst. The dead of both sides littered the area and as my eyes adjusted to normal light I saw that only Martin and a guardsman were the only ones left alive, both fighting a losing battle against a Dremora. I rushed to their aid and delivered a blow to the Dremora's unprotected back, killing it instantly.

Martin thanked me for my timely arrival and did not seem to know what to say after that. Nor did I. The Daedric siege engine had made it partially out of the Gate, but my arrival put a halt to its progress. It lay before Bruma in pieces, likely never to be moved again.
Jauffre and Baurus had both fallen while I was battling my way towards the Great Sigil Stone, as did all of the guards save for one 'Ulrich Leland' who introduced himself to me just in order to say he was finished with this whole business. Understandable, I suppose.

After dealing with him I returned to Martin and he asked that I follow him to Cloud Ruler Temple to complete the ritual required to open the Gate to Mankar Camoran's realm of Paradise. He suggested that I rest first, as my return from Paradise may not be a simple matter. He looked around the battlefield, sighed, and collected the blades of Jauffre and Baurus before turning around and trudging back to the Temple, the lone horse having fled some time ago.

I will never mention it to anyone, nor shall I ever ask him about it, but I do believe that Martin opened the Gates somehow. No other explanation is possible for the timing that he was confident of meeting and then successfully met. Our small force was led out to do battle before we should have known there was a battle to be fought, but Martin knew exactly where to go and when. As he admitted to me during our short march he and his friends had experimented with Daedric magicka long ago and I do not believe anyone has studied it as much as he has since arriving at the Temple.

What guilt does he feel for the losses we have suffered here tonight? What was won here tonight has possibly saved the province, maybe even the Empire, from suffering the fate of Kvatch. But our victory was hard-won and it was only luck that had me emerge from Oblivion just in time to save Martin and Ulrich from the Dremora. 

I cannot even consider myself fortunate for having survived, for who but myself knows that the blessing and curse of Dagoth Ur still courses through my veins? Any blow that felled a guardsman I could have born without much harm, but I was tasked with closing the Great Gate, not fighting Daedra. Had Martin fallen, what would I have done? Suffered my immortality as Mehrunes Dagon twisted the world into a bleak, lifeless landscape around me? I do not often reflect upon my curse, but tonight I have spared myself a terrible fate.

It is just past midnight. I am going to rest in my home here in Bruma and enter the realm of Paradise tomorrow, which I expect will be anything but that. I am eager to have all this over with.

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