Friday, April 28, 2017

Skyrim Day 067 - From the Skies, Death

22 Frostfall, 4E201
Solitude
~~~

Sorine Jurard was the remaining individual that Isran had asked me to find. A Breton, she was known to him as an inventor of some kind, he described her as being endlessly fascinated with mechanical things and was usually camping at one Dwemer ruin or another.

The last he had heard, she was seen in Markarth buying supplies for a trip into the hills north of the city. If there was a Dwemer ruin there, she would likely be found near or within it.
I used the trip as an opportunity to practice my Illusion magicka, using calming spells on the wildlife and quieting spells on myself when I wished to sneak by something instead. Despite being named the "Archmage" of Winterhold, my range of spells is quite narrow and not much used. I find that I simply do not require the use of it often. Besides, even calmed, a Sabre Cat is not a pleasant creature to walk near.
Unsurprisingly I found a Forsworn camp north of Markarth. With their leader no longer under the Silver-Blood family's thumb the strange bandits have grown more hostile and chaotic. Two attacked me with their wood-and-stone weapons, falling quickly. The melee failed to attract the attention of their brethren in the camp and I was able to sneak by without further trouble.

I came to one of the many meandering streams that run from the mountains and thought nothing of it other than to avoid the mudcrabs and avoid falling into the water.
But as I approached the water I noticed a shimmering between myself and the stream that I could not readily explain. The shimmering became more opaque and green as I drew closer, when suddenly it exploded into tendrils of angry light, flinging balls of energy at me.
I was not wholly unprepared, one of the balls careened off my shield, sending me staggering backwards as it sped towards the sky. Others followed and soon I was beset by four of these things, each trying its best to bludgeon me into submission.

They were similar to the energies that escaped at Winterhold while I was away searching for the 'Staff of Magnus'. The shimmering in the air was not familiar to me though and this is something I will have to return to the College in order to investigate further. If there are repercussions from the Eye of Magnus that we are not yet aware of they need to be dealt with as soon as possible, preferably by someone else, if I can have that hope. My sword-arm proved effective against the angry magicka and the shimmering thing disappeared once the last of its spawn did.

My quarry, Sorine Jurard, I found standing by...something that looked related to the Dwemer, but there was no true ruin around at all.
She greeted me, obviously distracted, not even asking why I was there to begin with. For all she knew then I could have been seeking her coins or her life, but she was too preoccupied with finding a satchel full of Dwemer gears that she had misplaced somewhere in the area. I had no interest in searching for her missing satchel and told her that Isran had sent me across the entire province just to find her.

Sorine was just as surprised as Gunmar to hear that her services were in demand. She said Isran had made it "exceedingly clear" that he was not interested in her help, implying quite a parting between him, Sorine, and Gunmar.

Much like Gunmar, Sorine demanded to know why Isran was having a change of heart and she was not surprised to hear of the newly awakened vampire menace. She told me that she had tried to explain to Isran three scenarios which would result in vampires overrunning the province, but he had not listened to her then. Again much like Gunmar, she appeared hesitant to help until I told her the vampires had an Elder Scroll, after which she was positively eager to start exploring this unforeseen event. Whatever got her walking back to Isran was good enough for me.
Of course I found her satchel of gears seconds after she left. A mud crab must have dragged it away from her, yet it was not more than twenty feet away...completely lost to Sorine. I wonder what help she could possibly be against vampires.

Rather than follow the foolish Breton back to Isran I proceeded around the hillside to make my way back across the opposite side. The tell-tale sounds of mining were echoing between the hills and I soon found a palisade encircling a mine of some kind. I figured the camp was for bandits or Forsworn, but I had stumbled upon another Orsimer Stronghold.
Though an outsider I would be welcome to trade so long as I did not step inside the gate...or so I thought. I approached, but instead of the cold greeting I expected I received the closest thing a Khajiit could get to a hero's welcome at an Orsimer camp. The resident wise-woman, Sharamph, declared me favorably marked by Malacath and I was hailed as Orsimer-friend, allowed inside to freely wander and mingle.

I spoke to Chief Larak, but he had little to say. I walked over to where Sharamph was mixing some concoction and opened my mouth to say...something, I forget what, when a roar from the mountains arrested everyone's attention.
The Dragon circled about harmlessly, giving every Orsimer time to don axe and bow before it chose to land at the gate. The entire tribe save for Sharamph rushed the beast, who took flight, sending streams of icy magicka down upon the angry Orsimer warriors.
Chief Larak fell at the first blast and I decided to join the fray lest more of them senselessly lost their lives. The Dragon chose to land near the gate again and I rushed it hoping to work the Dragon's great size against the confines of the hillside.
Between my Ebony blade and the remaining Orsimer, the Dragon was quickly weakened and overcome. The killing blow was mine, right between the eyes from atop its head. Daring, but I felt the Orsimer would appreciate such audacity in the wake of their Chief's death.
The way back to Solitude was quiet after that, almost unnaturally so. On a tiny island sitting amid a very small lake I found the remains of a Spriggan, long since dead, curled up against a tree trunk. Something about it unsettled me and I left quickly and walked the rest of the way to Solitude much faster.
I reached Solitude as the sun was beginning to set, the guards claiming that the Dragon and Vampire attacks were growing more frequent, heralding the end of the world. At least their end will come outside. To this day I have nightmares born from uncertain memories, being trapped underground in endless tunnels flowing with lava while a man in a golden mask stalks me. Dagoth Ur probably, but I cannot remember anything certain from my time then.

I suppose I should make for Winterhold College tomorrow. Sorine will likely take a few days to meet up with Isran, so I shall have to find something else to be bothered with or perhaps nothing if I can remember how to even do that anymore.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Skyrim Day 066 - Bearly A Problem

21 Frostfall, 4E201
Morthal
~~~

My task today was to find Gunmar, the man Isran said he would need to rebuild his Dawnguard. From what Isran said Gunmar used to be a successful bounty-hunter before he retired to tracking animals instead of people. Gunmar had been experimenting with taming some of Skyrim's more dangerous beasts before he and Isran parted and succeeded with trolls, at least according to Isran. I find the idea of "tame" troll to be unbelievable.

As I exited the chief's longhouse I saw that a horse was waiting by itself in the courtyard. Orsimer do not usually ride and it was not at the camp yesterday. Atub did not know how it came to be there and speculated that it wandered in overnight.
The problem with finding Gunmar was that Isran could not tell me where to start looking. The only thing he said was that Gunmar had last been seen in Morthal, though for what purpose he did not say. So it was to Morthal I was heading from the very south of the province.

Walking half the height of Skyrim proved to be rather boring. I was hailed by a group of drunken revelers along the side of the road, then ineffectively robbed by a Dunmer thief who reconsidered her chances and fled. I was attacked by a necromancer, but she and her skeletons were no match for me. On her body I found an unsigned letter demanding that the death of 'Malyn Varen', the Dunmer who trapped himself inside Azura's Star, would be avenged. I wonder who would care about his death. Nelacar perhaps.

I came upon another horse along the road, saddled but without an obvious rider. It seemed content to wait by the road and I do not ride, so I left the horse to whatever fate it chose.
Jonna at the Moorside Inn in Morthal had spoken to Gunmar two days prior about a contract requiring the elimination of a bear den to the south, along the river. She suggested I search the hills and caverns, he would either be there or in her Inn, drinking, which he clearly was not.

Gunmar had been after a bear, so I guessed that my chance of finding him would be best near a river or stream. I left the road near a bridge and continued along the river, stopping when I heard the roar of a Dragon above me. I turned towards the sound, prepared for a fight...but the Dragon took no notice of me and flew away.
I followed a small creek emptying from the hills into the river and was dismayed to find the body of a Khajiit at the source.
His body showed many claw marks and I thought I had found Gunmar's bear before he did. As I continued to search the area however I was approached by a Nord also sneaking about. Bandits do not typically announce themselves, so I asked the man's business.

The man was Gunmar himself, on the hunt for a family of bears who were being just as much a nuisance for the area's farmers as they had been for the unfortunate Khajiit. When I told him Isran had sent me to request his help he simply laughed, saying that Isran told him years ago that he needed no one's help. He asked what could have possibly happened to prompt Isran to seek assistance.

What happened was a family of vampires with a well-fortified castle coming into possession of what could be a genuine Elder Scroll. This was reason enough for him to reconsider his involvement with Isran and after a moment he agreed to meet with him if I helped track the family of bears.

We found the bears in a cavern underneath the creek's little waterfall. There were four of them and two of us, but we had no difficulty in slaying the bears. Gunmar started skinning the creatures and I reminded him of his new obligation to Isran, for I was not returning with him. He assured me that he would start towards Isran's "personal fortress", as he said, as soon as he received payment for his bounty. I had no interest in bear skins, so I left and returned to Morthal.

The aftermath of a battle littered the streets upon my arrival.
Black hounds lay where they fell, their hewn silver collars familiar to me from an encounter with the creatures some time ago. One of the guards remarked that two vampires had suddenly appeared with a pack of the dogs, setting themselves upon guards and townspeople alike. Those who live in Morthal are a hearty sort however and the invasion was beaten with no loss to the city.

The guards were pleased to claim the solid silver collars.

Tomorrow I will talk with Sorine Jurard, if I can find her. Isran suggested I look in the hills surrounding Karthwasten, the mining village I had hoped contained an Inn. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Skyrim Day 065 - The Cowardly Chief

20 Frostfall, 4E201
Largashbur, Orsimer Stronghold
~~~

Sleeping at Dawnguard proved to be an eerie, but restful experience. The castle is so large, yet isolated and almost entirely empty. The quiet borders on unnatural and being there makes me feel slightly uneasy, like I am in a dream I cannot wake out of. The castle is larger than any of the others in Skyrim, yet it serves only as a partially-abandoned headquarters for an almost-lost Order. It is surreal and out-of-place and I do not like staying there, though I cannot object to their mission.

Seeking to ground my feet, I decided against the north road out of Riften and chose to take the longer road spanning the width of the province along the hills separating the province from Cyrodiil. The morning was peaceful and I passed several patrols of surly Riften guardsmen, ignoring their insults and suggestions as I walked by.
After I had walked far enough down the road for the city's patrols to no longer be a bother I was stopped by a group of Imperial soldiers...or so they would have had me believe. They were three, an Orsimer, a Dunmer, and a Redguard, with the Orsimer leading them, or at least in charge of making the demands. He insisted that I pay a "fine" to fund the Imperial Legion, but I pointed out that the three nearly-naked bodies inadequately hidden along the side of the road marked them for bandits instead of toll-takers.
The Orsimer had a finely-crafted two-handed battle-ax, no doubt heavy and honed enough to cut me right in two with a single blow. But landing that blow proved difficult for him and he fell to a slit through, my small dagger proving far more effective than his giant ax. His comrades took no part in our duel, choosing instead to keep their distance while they nervously watched the Orsimer die. I thought they would flee, but together they halfheartedly charged me and gave so little a challenge as to be literally unremarkable for this journal.

I stayed off the road and passed the ruins of where I found the hagraven mother and her would-be hagraven daughter Illia, whom I saved from a horrible fate. I could not see if anyone was still at the tower and I passed by without investigation.

A minute or so away was a camp build behind a palisade. I thought it another group of bandits, but then I saw a robed figure standing at the opened gate, looking at me. Orsimer, all of them with sword and shield, rushed up to the wall, rather pointlessly, as none of them had bows, and I realized I had stumbled upon one of the four so-called 'Strongholds' of Skyrim's Orsimer tribes.
The Orsimer at the gate beckoned me and I thought she was going to inquire about trading for supplies. The Strongholds are notoriously difficult for outsiders to approach and I suspect three of their dead just outside the wall led them to be a bit more accepting than the others. She introduced herself as 'Atub', the tribe's sorceress.

Atub claimed that her tribe was cursed and requested that I return to her with a bowl of troll fat and a Daedra's heart. I happened to have both, the fat from a troll I could not recall and the heart courtesy of Mehrune Dagon's shrine. Atub was pleased to have her ingredients unexpectedly arrive right in front of her and asked that I follow her into the camp as her guest so that I could witness her ritual. She led me to a crude altar in the middle of the courtyard and asked me to wait for her to summon the head of the tribe.

She entered the largest of the buildings and returned a moment later with a fully armed, entirely sullen Orsimer who demanded I show him, 'Chief Yamarz', respect. I was about to do no such thing, but Atub diffused the situation before he did something foolish.
With the troll fat placed into a bowl and the Daedra's heart upon the altar, Atub raised her hands and beseeched Malacath for his favor. She received the Daedric Prince, but not his favor. Malacath derided Yamarz for his weakness and said that his tribe would not be under the near-constant assault of Giants were it not for his cowardice. Malacath would help, but only after the Chief traveled to a cavern known to the tribe to be lived in by a tribe of Giants. Once Yamarz returned to the Stronghold with the club wielded by the largest of the Giants there, Malacath would lift the curse...the specific nature of which I could not discern.

Atub was satisfied by this, but Yamarz was not. He complained that my interference in his issues meant he had to go fight a Giant now. That he did not relish the battle was a surprise, but an Orsimer who will not fight is an oddity and certainly not a long-lived one.

Yamarz demanded that I follow him to the cave to ensure he got there at all and assured me that he would pay me for my time. I agreed, if only to see how this odd story was going to end.

He gave me directions to 'Fallowstone Cave' and told me to meet him there. With that he lumbered off in his bulky Orsimer armor. Atub wished me well and with that I was off to Fallowstone Cave, just north-east of Riften if I understood Yamarz's directions correctly.

I could not see where Yamarz had run off to, so I proceeded at my own pace back along the road towards Riften. I found the cave without much difficulty: all I had to do was follow the trail of dead bears until I reached Yamarz at the end of it.
The outside of the Giants' cave had similar markings to their camps, mostly swirls and dots, some bones here and there. The inside of Fallowstone Cave was unremarkable save for its inhabitants, all of whom were too slow to pose a threat.

Yamarz seemed to know where he was going so I was content to follow his lead. When the cavern gave way to a clearing he motioned me forward, pointing at a giant wandering before a shrine to Malacath.
If he were any other Orsimer I would have expected him to charge the Giant immediately, but Yamarz had a different idea: for another one hundred Septims I would slay the Giant and he would get the credit. I considered telling him that Malacath would not take such a transgression lightly, but I did not, certain that he would dismiss that concern anyway. I accepted his offer and strode forward to engage the Giant in hand-to-club combat.

I have no arguments against the Giants and no reason to wantonly wander around killing them. I will admit I felt a little guilty as I marched up to the Giant as it placidly stared at me. The guilt did not last long. When I approached to what was about four of my body lengths (two for him?) he lifted his club, took one massive step towards me, and swung, opening our melee.

I ducked, the effect being what I would imagine a tree passing over my head to be. The Giant fought like a larger type of Orsimer, only somehow stupider and slower. Each swing of his club left the Giant open for several seconds while he recovered his weapon and I used the time to slash at his legs, bringing the unfortunate creature to its knees at which point I was able to drive my blade through its throat, bringing a great gout of blood and one rapidly dying Giant.

Yamarz had watched the battle from a safe distance and when the Giant was dead he approached, begrudgingly offering his congratulations before announcing that he would now kill me to prevent the tribe from finding out he had not killed the Giant himself.

So very stupid. The Orsimer was a coward and clearly had always been. He had very little combat experience and against me had no chance at all, even with his fine equipment. He died as he lived: fleeing. I wound up having to leap on his back before I could bury my dagger below the lip of his helmet. Nothing on his body was of much value to me.

I spent a few moments wondering how to return to the Orsimer Stronghold when Malacath's voice started to boom from his forgotten shrine. He dismissed Yamarz and his pitiful dead right away, saying the Orsimer had always been a coward and a schemer instead of a warrior. I, Khajiit though I am, had proven myself. Malacath asked that I bring a weapon he called 'Shargrol's Hammer' back to the tribe. The 'Hammer' was simply an Orsimer war-hammer sitting at the base of Malacath's statue and taking it with me meant leaving behind the two-handed Ebony greatsword I was planning on displaying at one of my homes. Disappointing.

If the Giants remaining at Fallowstone Cave were aware something was amiss they did not let on about it. The two I ran by just stared at me mournfully.
Atub was not surprised to see me return alone. Malacath demands strength and courage from his people, she said, and Chief Yamarz had little of either. When I confessed to killing him myself she laughed and declared it a just fate. Apparently the late Chief was the curse, not the one who was cursed.

As for 'Shargrol's Hammer', Atub asked me to place it on the moose skull that adorned their makeshift altar. I did not think it would take the weight of the war-hammer, but it held, somehow. A flash of light exploded from the skull and Malacath spoke again, naming me (a Khajiit!) as Champion of the Largashbur tribe. Being the Champion did not make me Chief, but Atub felt a warrior, Gularzob, would make a fine Chief. She left to deliver him the news and as for me, I had Malacath's mighty war-hammer, Volendrung, the 'Hammer of Might', to claim...if I had been able to lift it. If I somehow managed to remove it from its pedestal it would have undoubtedly crashed on to my head with grievous results. I left it at the tribe's altar, perhaps they shall find better luck with it there.
As the Champion I am entitled to my rewards: a bed of straw. It still rates far higher than the Silver-Blood Inn. I have yet to begin Isran's task, but there should be enough time tomorrow to meet with one of his people.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Skyrim Day 064 - The Reluctant Dragon

19 Frostfall, 4E201
Fort Dawnguard
~~~

I got as good a sleep at Dawnstar as my late arrival earlier this morning allowed me, but when I visited Silus the man appeared to have not slept at all.

Worry mixed with fatigue marked his face and he lifted the flagon containing his breakfast up in salute when entered, after announcing myself of course. He sighed and took a swig of whatever he was drinking, then laughed ruefully about what a failure he had been. I pointed out that it would have been a greater failure to succumb to Mehrune Dagon's murderous wishes, though privately I wondered how he would have killed me. He brightened up a bit at this and some of his former enthusiasm came back, inviting me to gaze upon the pieces he magically locked away.
I was not any more impressed seeing the pieces together than I did when they were apart. Curiously, the pommel stone was missing from the display, but I did not bring that up. I tested the display case and found it to be securely fastened with no obvious mechanism for a lockpick, so I suspect the case will remain sealed so long as Silus continues to maintain the enchantment.

That anyone interested in the Razor would be just as interested in eliminating him was a point I felt was a mercy to not inform him of. His life is no doubt measured in weeks from today, but it is difficult for me to feel sympathy for a admirer of the Mythic Dawn.

Pending for quite some time now is my report to Isran, the leader of the Dawnguard. My delivery of Serana to his vampire family was likely not going to be good news to him, but I do not recall having much choice in the matter. Being in Dawnstar meant quite a journey ahead of me if I was to arrive at Fort Dawnguard before nightfall.

Naturally this meant I would suffer no end to obstacles along the road.
The first was an Orsimer on the road just outside of the city, well-armed with mace and a sour wit as most of her kind are. I was making no attempt to hide myself, yet she intentionally changed her path to walk right up to me, stopping less than a foot away, a grave mistake.

She sneered and demanded that a "milk-drinker" such as myself should make way for our betters (presumably her) and told me to cry home to my mother while I did so. Such arrogance always deserves to be paid back twice over, after all, I have not seen her fighting any Dragons. 

One uses the advantages given to her. She was standing close enough to me that I could smell the ale on her breath, which was close enough for me to suddenly sink my ebony dagger into her side. She sprang back, drawing her mace and shield from behind her back as she did so. It was smoothly done and she was obviously an accomplished warrior, but a little consideration on the road is always appreciated. Skilled though she might have been, the handicap of already bleeding to death was a bit much to overcome. I was able to slide behind her as I dodged an overhead swing and thrust my blade just under the arm, killing her instantly. Fortunately my dagger was unharmed.

Some minutes down the road later a ragged-looking man jumped out of the bushes and demanded my money. Then he actually took a look at his quarry: a blood-spattered armed Khajiit. He slunk back into the bushes, though I was careful to ensure he was not following me.

Amusingly I had an identical account on a small bridge much further down the road just outside of Windhelm. This time it was an Argonian dressed in the leathers of the Imperial Legion. He demanded my money or my life, but I pointed out trying to acquire either from me would end with his body floating in the frigid waters below. He took the hint and I watched him run down the road to the city, but to both of our surprise a Sabre Cat leaped out of the trees and right on to the unfortunate thief. He was dead before I reached him. The Sabre Cat joined him soon after.

Windhelm is an imposing-looking city and the most heavily fortified in Skyrim. It is little wonder Ulfric Stormcloak feels secure in his rebellion, but I suspect a determined effort would bring the city underneath Imperial rule. It is one thing to have great walls, it is another to garrison them, and I have never seen more than a handful of guardsmen in any of the cities I have so far visited.

The stinking springs between Windhelm and Morthal were unavoidable, but I will certainly take a rotten scent if it comes with heat rather than the cold which infects most of Skyrim. I, however, was not the only creature with a preference for Skyrim's rare warmth.
I heard its roaring before I saw it, but not long before. Though it sounded far away it suddenly swept between the rocks, roaring its challenge and scattering the hardy goats that called the springs home. I expected the Dragon to make directly for me as his brethren usually do, but this one flew over me and towards a nearby giant's encampment, blasting the mammoths as it went by.
This, of course, angered the mammoths and their giant keeper, who immediately turned on the culprit: me. The mammoths lumbered towards me, the giant started to shamble over, and the Dragon continued to roar and assault everything with its icy breath.

It was a very strange situation. The Giant and his mammoths gave the Dragon no notice as they unrelentingly tried to surround me and squash me flat. I was trying not to be flattened while also keeping an eye on the Dragon lest it also focus on me, but it crashed down on top of the Giant, crushing it as it finally turned on me.
My ebony blade served me well, scoring deep slashes on the beast's face and discouraging it from attacking me further...which is not what I actually wanted. Seeking less capable prey, it leaped back into the air and flew towards another Giant's encampment.
I rushed over, but not quickly enough to prevent the death of another Giant, crushed as well. Evidently enraged, one of the Giant's mammoths bellowed and rushed the Dragon. To my astonishment the mammoth swung a tush at the Dragon's head and actually caught it underneath the jaw. The Dragon reared back, blood gushing from the wound, and I thought the mammoth would certainly be killed.
The tusk must have pierced it's skull or spine, for the Dragon collapsed in a heap before the mammoth, who, having accomplished something no other mammoth has likely ever done before or will again, became immediately disinterested and wandered off to pick at some brush. The corpse burst into flames and the Dragon's soul, or whatever it actually is, streamed into my face as it always does.

What will become of the two groups of mammoths bereft of their masters?

The Dragon had come from the wall of words on a plateau known as 'Bonestrewn Crest'. It sat amid the springs and played host to a headache-inducing wall of ancient words and a handful of skeletons last I visited it. The place was still strewn with bones, mostly mammoth, but there were no skeletons climbing out of the earth this time. New to the little area was a stout-looking chest the Dragon must have claimed for its own.

My luck has been on quite a streak recently. The chest contained only two items: a pair of rusty iron gauntlets...and a two-handed ebony greatsword, a very valuable and rare arm! Though useless martially to me, I strapped it to my back anyway. It will make a fine decoration at one of my homes next time I visit.

Leaving the Crest I came upon a wrecked wagon and, curiously, the bodies of three Khajiit. The caravans do not use wagons nor horses. Their goods were more domestic than adventurous, carpets, cookware, things of that nature. Were they hoping to reside in Skyrim or just make a little money?
My destination this morning was Fort Dawnguard, but I stopped at Riften to deliver Ingun Black-Briar's alchemy ingredients. For the delivery of her nirnroot, nightshade, and deathbell she paid fifteen-hundred Septims, far more than the plants were worth. As I turned to leave she remarked that she felt I was owed more than "meaningless" coin and gave me a key to her private supply chest at 'Elgrim's Elixers' where she has been taking lessons. Personally, I preferred the meaningless coin.

It was well into the night when I finally stood before the largely unguarded battlements of Fort Dawnguard. A small battle was raging at the gate when I arrived between the small band of vigilantes and a group of Vampires, but it was over before I could take part.
As I predicted Isran was not at all happy to hear that I reunited a powerful Vampire clan with their long-sleeping daughter, the latter of which claimed to be carrying a genuine Elder Scroll on her back. He started to get angry that I apparently did nothing to stop them, but I pointed out that one Khajiit against a hall full of vampires would not have ended well for the Khajiit.

The delivery of Serana to her family, coupled with the attack against the Dawnguard, opened Isran's eyes to how precarious his situation was. Now he decided he needed more help, well after that should have been obvious. Was he summoning a band of soldiers? No, he had just two names to give me.

The first was 'Sorine Jurard', a Breton with an interest in the Dwemer. He could only tell me she was somewhere in the Reach, likely exploring a ruin as we were speaking. I would have to delve into the ruins myself until I found her, an unpleasant task I am not looking forward to.

The second name was 'Gunmar', a Nord whose specialty lay with the taming of beasts, trolls in particular, if such a thing is to be believed. Isran had no hint as to his whereabouts and helpfully suggested I start looking in Skyrim.

At least I am saving myself a few Septims tonight, as I have been given a small bunk inside the fortress. Whatever I do tomorrow will undoubtedly mean heading west, as I cannot possibly go any further east without leaving the province entirely and I doubt anyone in Morrowind remembers that a Khajiit was declared Nerevarine so long ago.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Skyrim Day 063 - Battling Nostalgia

19 Frostfall, 4E201
Dawnstar
~~~

I had only to deliver the pieces of Mehrune's Razor to Silus for my task to be complete. I thought about dumping the remains of the artifact around the province before realizing that doing so would mean I just spent days at nothing at all. Had I wanted the pieces scattered about I needed to do nothing at all before now. Much as I was loathe to admit it as I carved my way through beast and bandit, I wanted the Razor. I wanted to hold one of Mehrune Dagon's artifacts in my hand...just before tossing it into the sea.

At least, that's what I kept telling myself the past few days. As it was, the rather cliche story of an adventurer being overcome by greed and desire wound up not happening, simply because I am not a murderer. But I get ahead of myself.

Walking from Markarth to Dawnstar meant traveling through either Solitude or Whiterun, but I always seem to be distracted by something at Whiterun so I chose instead to head north to Solitude. I was stopped along the road by a Stormcloak rebel, but she only advised me to tell all the "true sons and daughters of Skyrim" to join up with Ulfric Stormcloak and retake Skyrim for the Nords.

Why she felt a Khajiit would concern herself with this, I do not know.
Dragon Bridge was free of Dragons today and I reached Solitude by mid-morning, having left Markarth as soon as I possibly could. I spent some time at my home, but could not find much purpose in being there. It is an empty place and one that served only to lighten my purse, apparently nothing more.

Hoping to save time I paid a few Septims for a ferry from the warehouse docks to the swamps of Morthal across from it. I planned to trudge through the muck of the swamp and over the snowy hills between Morthal and Dawnstar rather than take the easier, though much longer, road.
I encountered nothing save for a Khajiit standing near the road within sight of Dawnstar. He appeared surprised to see me, covering his lack of attention with an offer to sell me some skooma or moon sugar. I declined his offer, he was probably a smuggler waiting for his goods via one way or another.

It was pleasing to see one of the caravans camped outside of the city. I stopped briefly to unload my gemstones and jewelry in exchange for vials of healing and restorative elixirs. Kharjo was there as well, expressing his delight at seeing me healthy and whole once again. I wished him the same and headed into town, somewhat ashamed that I could do so while the Khajiit behind me could not.
Silus was overjoyed to receive all the pieces of the Razor. Once he judged them all safely in his possession, he admitted that the plan had been to return them to Mehrune Dagon's nearby shrine so that the Lord of Change would repair the deadly artifact. This did not come as a surprise to me and I cautioned him about dealing with the Daedric Princes, especially Mehrune Dagon. Nothing they give ever comes without a price.

But he was not to be dissuaded. With a shout over his shoulder for me to follow, he ran out of his museum and into the cold. He was in an over-excited hurry, but I easily kept up with him, mage that he is.
In all the years since the Oblivion Crisis I have never once felt the urge to revisit my old foe in any way, but it was somewhat gratifying to know time has not altered his appearance for the better. The giant statue in front of his shrine leered down with a grimace, giving the impression the viewer was something unpleasant he had just stepped on.
Silus took no notice of the statue and rushed to the bare altar before it. Laying the pieces atop it, he raised his voice, rather too dramatically I think, and beseeched the Prince to repair the Razor in His Great Name. After a minute or so of this he stopped and looked at me, dejected.

"The Daedric Prince wishes to speak with you", he said sadly, his life's ambition brutally crushed.

That set off numerous warning bells in my head. Perhaps I was remembered and a trap set? I loosened my blade as I walked towards the altar, conscious of the sudden drop to the icy ground just behind me. When I was standing before it a voice boomed inside of my head. I caught Silus wincing out of the corner of my eye, so I immediately knew he was hearing something as well.

Mehrunes Dagon claimed to have watched my little quest to retrieve the pieces with amusement, stating that I had proven myself a worthy mortal to speak with. It sounded as if he did not realize I was the same Khajiit that foiled his plans during the Crisis, but it may be that he also did not much care.

The Prince's price tonight was predictable: a life taken for a life-taker. If I killed Silus Mehrune Dagon would restore the Razor to its murderous glory. If I chose not to do this, I was promised consequences.

When I turned to speak with Silus his eyes went wide and he begged me not to kill him, evidently hearing a message of his own. He spoke quickly, obviously afraid, promising that he and I could return to Dawnstar with just the pieces, which he would put in a harmless display case for the rest of its days. I felt that was just asking for a burglary and a slit throat, but it would not be me doing the cutting, so I agreed.

Mehrune Dagon was not pleased, but the "consequence" was laughable: two Dremora, of whom hundreds were banished back to Oblivion by my hand so many years ago. One of them popped into existence right next to Silus, who took off for Dawnstar with a yelp.
The battle was practically a delight. I have spent over two months in Skyrim as an adventurer again and all I have fought are wild animals, bandits, and Draugr. Occasionally a Dragon, but few and far in-between. Fighting the two Dremora was a pleasant change and I was pleased to realize how much of my experience with them came back to me as we fought. They were well-armed and armored, but they went the way of so many of their brethren. Foiled, Mehrunes Dagon was silent, but there was a key on one of the Dremora that I suspected would unlock the door at the base of the statue.

There was nothing else nearby it could have possibly unlocked, so my being correct in this was not a great accomplishment. The door opened to a tunnel hewn from solid ice, the statue evidently having been built into the hillside itself. The tunnel was short and easily transmitted the sounds of more than one person ahead of me. I was expecting cultists, but found two more Dremora, one in nothing but a robe, the other in full armor.
The robed one fell silently to my dagger, the armored one fell rather more loudly to the same. The ebony blade slipped right through the Daedra's armor, wavy blade and all. It crashed to the ground with a rattling gasp and I was free to explore the inside of the shrine at my leisure.

Mehrune Dagon's shrine had known prosperous times. I pocketed handfuls of gemstones and several ingots of gold alongside several powerfully enchanted items. The greatest find, however, was a full-size ebony blade, a perfect complement to my new favorite weapon, though far more heavier and less graceful.

By the time I returned to Dawnstar it was just past midnight and I did not want to bother Silus until he had calmed down, a process which may take more than a few days after his brush with the Dremora. Joke aside, I will visit him tomorrow before some enterprising thief takes it upon herself to claim the Razor and end the pool fool.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Skyrim Day 062 - A Bloody Business, Done

17 Frostfall, 4E201
Markarth
~~~

This morning I had only to find the pommel stone of Mehrune's Razor before having all the pieces necessary for Silus's museum. He had said that the stone was somewhere south-west of Markarth. The ale-sodden innkeeper, Kleppr, told me that there was a Forsworn camp known as 'Dead Crone Rock' in that area, said to be the home of Hagravens well as Forsworn. He said there was not enough coin in Tamriel to tempt him to that place, but I felt confident that there would be nothing there that I already have not faced.

Walking there was actually quite pleasant, the weather was cooperative and nothing attacked me until I drew close to the mountainside. A small group of Forsworn were loitering near a small bridge, so I ducked out of sight, readied my Illusion spells, and threw my rage-inducing magicka into their midst. I gulped down an Invisibility flask just to be sure before scampering out from behind my rock and skirting my way around the heated melee.
Forsworn are not a subtle people. Their "camp" occupied the base of the mountainside, and terraces built halfway up it.
Dead Crone Rock might have been a stronghold in an era long gone by, but most of the entrances into the mountain were collapsed or used as a garbage dump by the Forsworn. I fought my way along the terraces, dodging arrows made of branches and maces made from rocks. How the Forsworn intend to take back their territory is a mystery to me.
The only functioning doorway in the whole camp was for a tower partially built into the hill.  On the other side was a Briarheart and the Hagraven that probably created the unfortunate creature. The Hagraven must have smelled me, for she and her Briarheart came charging down the tower's stairs at me as soon as I came through the door.

A dagger into the Briarheart's exposed chest ended it quickly, but the Hagraven proved a bit craftier. She was adept at ice magicka and kept her distance from me as she flung it around, trying to slow me with its effects. After a lot of dodging (and a few restoratives) I managed to corner her against the altar she evidently used and drove my silvered blade clean through her body. Her shriek is still ringing in my ears. The Razor's pommel stone was on the hagraven's necklace, crudely glued into a nest of what might have been finger bones to form a grisly brooch. I took the stone, I left the necklace.

The Dragon Wall that the former stronghold might have been built to guard greeted me with the usual headache, teaching me 'Ru', the Nordic word for 'Run'. The Greybeards assured me that I would be able to string together these ancient words to create Shouts of great power, but my blade and bolts seem just as effective as yelling in an ancient tongue.
A nearby chest revealed an incredible find: Ebony-infused gauntlets enchanted to help the wearer strike truer. The gauntlets themselves are useless weight to me, but I may be able to draw the enchantment out of them so that I impart it upon my trusty leather gloves.

I heard someone muttering in-between a rhythm of knocking noises as I descended the mountain and found that one of the Forsworn had, somehow, missed out on the disastrous battle his brethren engaged in earlier. Sensing that he would not be appreciative to learn this I sneaked into his hut and knifed in the back, once for each lung.

This was a fortunate choice for as he collapsed, gasping fruitlessly, I saw an Ebony-infused blade tucked into his belt. First gauntlets, now a dagger. One useless, one very useful. Whomever crafted the deadly blade had a sense of humor or poor eyes: the blade was wavy, the advantage of such an arrangement being unknown to me. Perhaps it was used for a ritual or some kind of ornamentation. I will try it as a weapon and see how it performs.

I thought to explore the road to Markarth a bit to see if I could find Gauldur's resting place and returned to the city in front of a small farm near the river. My many years of experience have taught me that farmers, miners, those that survive on the land, live and die based on their knowledge. It may not be the academic knowledge of Winterhold, but if Gauldur was laid to rest near Markarth it would likely be a farmer who knew, courtesy of family legends, history, or errant exploration as a young Nord prior to settling down.

My hope here was well-founded. Rogatus Salvius, though old and bitter, did recall hearing the tale of Gauldur from his grandmother, but could only remember that it was supposed to be by a waterfall overlooking a small stone bridge along the main road. That narrowed down Gauldur's grave to two locations in my mind, but I wound up choosing the correct location first.

However, I had an interesting encounter before I found Gauldur. I chose to hike over the small hills dotting the area instead of taking the road and was quite surprised to reach the crest of one only to find a Dragon flying right at me.
It roared and I readied myself for a precarious battle on the hilltop, but it did not seem to notice me. Instead it simply flew over my head in circles, roaring at nothing apparent, before simply flying away. A very interesting encounter indeed and another sign that the Dragons are not flying on someone's orders, if they ever were.

With that over I continued up and over the hills until I came to 'Reachwater Rock', the waterfall cavern dug for Gauldur so long ago. As befitting the Nordic love of pointless puzzles, I needed two Dragon Claw keys to get inside. One I found on a pedestal beside a dead Nord, the other was an ivory-inlaid claw I had with me from Mikrul's tomb near Solitude.
The tomb was oddly absent of Draugr, only a few traps awaited me, which I easily avoided. At the end of the cavern was an altar with three plaques set into it, obviously for the three pieces of the amulet Gauldur's sons were willing to murder for.
Placing a fragment of the amulet on a plaque caused the plaque to start glowing, but also prevented me from removing the fragment. I seemed to have no choice but to surrender the two remaining fragments. As I started to place the third fragment I felt a particular tickling on the back of my neck which usually indicated immediate danger. There was no one in the cavern but myself, so I knew the third fragment would do something bad. I slapped the fragment on to the metal plaque and hurried to a dark corner to see what would happen next.
With a flash of blue light the spirits of the three brothers materialized in front of their fragments, One, I could not tell who, sent himself to the far end of the chamber where I had entered as Draugr spirits, armed with bow and axe, popped into existence. They did not know I was there, but I figured that they had far more patience than I did, so when one of the shimmering Draugr walked in front of me I cut it down, alerting the others.

The brothers were considerate enough to attack me one-by-one and while I was winded by the end of my battle, I was victorious. After the defeat of the third brother they all remained in front of the altar in positions of either submission or defeat. I was unsure what to do next, but that was answered for me.

The coffin behind them erupted in flames, engulfing the brothers and banishing them back to wherever their spirits reside. Once the smoke cleared a bit I could see a fourth spirit standing alone before the altar: Gauldur himself, making an appearance of his own while scolding his sons. He stared down at the amulet that they so coveted and then disappeared in a flash of blinding light. When my vision returned I saw that the amulet was whole again.
Putting it on proved a disappointment. I felt a little more awake and refreshed, but not much other than that. I could see that it had a Restoration enchantment on it, but the nature of it was unclear and after all I have gone through for it, the amulet does not appear to have been worth it. Perhaps I will donate it to the College or display it somewhere in Breezehome.

Somewhat depressed, I walked back to Markarth and parted with another ten Septims for a slab of rock. Gauldur's amulet, the "Lost Legend", should have stayed lost, but I have only my own curiosity to blame for the amount of time I have wasted. At least the pieces of Mehrune's Razor are in my possession, tomorrow I will visit the misguided museum guide and see what he expects from them.