Monday, June 29, 2015

Oblivion Day 19 - An Orc's Vengence

15 Heartfire, 3E433

Another day, another two or three Oblivion gates. I cannot keep up this pace for much longer and maintain any sort of belief that I will be able to accomplish anything else with my time.

The gate I had marked on my map lay in-between Leyawiin and Fort Blueblood, making it an hour's journey at worst. The increasing stink of molten rock led me in the right direction and the sun was just rising as I finished dispatching the last of the Scamps outside the gate.
Like yesterday's this gate led to a very small pocket of Oblivion with only one tower to ascend, but this one contained far more Dremora than the last and hardly any Scamps. It was a refreshing change of difficulty, for the Dremora themselves were still quite weak and their tactics uninspired. I did find a Dremora bow on one of them, but it was much heavier than my own, so I took it with me to sell later. It is a fearsome looking weapon, but my testing revealed it to be not much more powerful than my simple wooden bow. I suppose that is a good analogy for the Dremora themselves, none of which posed any sort of challenge for me.
The Daedra's hearts fetched a nice price back in Leyawiin, the bow not so much. The story of the Orsimer Knight who had been bothering the Count of Leyawiin about something stuck in my mind, so I put off my trip to Cheydinhal and visited the castle. 

The Count, Marius Caro, is a friendly, approachable sort of person. He greeted me and asked what business I had in his city. When I replied that I was visiting each of the cities in the province to secure my entry into the University, he exclaimed that my quest was an admirable one and asked if I could be persuaded to delay my journey to provide a small service to Leyawiin.

The small service, unsurprisingly was to speak with the Orsimer and determine what it was she was in the city for. Like most of her kind, she was surly and uncooperative and would not reveal her business to anyone, including the Count. I was not sure then what I could do to succeed in this task, but she solved that problem herself.

Upon approaching her she immediately demanded to know if I knew how to speak properly to a Knight. I felt the best answer was "No", receiving the reply that I needed to address her as 'Sir' every time I spoke with her. An Orsimer putting on airs is not the strangest thing I have had to deal with, but she was certainly an odd character. After ensuring my speech was up to her standards she demanded that I fetch an Argonian hunter named 'Weebam-Na'.

Weebam-Na was also less than cooperative and it took some persuading before he would agree to visit the castle to speak with Mazoga.
Mazoga wanted to go to a place known as 'Fisherman's Rock', but Weebam-Na refused to take her. He excused himself from the conversation and told me where this Rock was, wished me luck, and left, leaving me to escort the heavily-armed Orc. She meant to meet a man there named 'Mogens Wind-Shifter', after which we would, in her own words, see what happens. Clearly this was not to be a friendly chat.
It was a short, unfriendly talk. Mazoga accused Mogens and his little band of murdering a friend of hers, Mogens denied it, then as one the gang leaped at us. But an Orc in full steel armor with a heavy shield and long blade is a foe not to be leaped at without a great deal of thought. Mazoga cut down three of the bandits, including Mogens and I accounted for the two who, for some reason, rushed at me instead.

Having killed all the bandits, Mazoga was satisfied that her oath to avenge her friend was complete. Only then did she admit that she did not know much about being a Knight, but that she thought doing some "good deeds" would be a step in the right direction. She declared my helping her to be a good deed of its own and suggested that I become a Knight as well, which I suppose is as kind a word as I will ever get out of Mazoga.

The Count was pleased by my story and of what Mazoga had been seeking. He declared that Mazoga and I should join his chivalric 'Order of the White Stallion' and that eliminating a local bandit leader was the entrance fee to his self-started Order. However, Mazoga still had not returned from Fisherman's Rock and I was due to be elsewhere by nightfall, so if I do join this Order it will have to be during another day.

It was evening when I left the castle again, so traveling to Cheydinhal was out of the question. Instead I climbed back on my horse and rode to Bravil, intending to spend a day or so there training at the Guild before claiming my recommendation at Cheydinhal.

Naturally the sky began to glow almost as soon as I left the stables. A Gate has opened just off the road, but I had no time to close it today. Once again, that will have to wait until tomorrow.
I arrived at Bravil an hour or so before midnight and am staying at the Guild. After some training and perhaps the purchase of a few spells I will begin to make my way to Cheydinhal, then Bruma, and then I will finally be allowed entrance into the University so that I can find out what these Oblivion stones do. They are clearly enchanted with something, but I am reluctant to pry owing to my lack of knowledge and the deterioration of my magicka-related skills. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Oblivion Day 18 - Betrayal at Fort Blueblood

14 Heartfire, 3E433

After yesterday's Oblivion gate just outside of the city I thought I had somehow earned a reprieve from the gates for a few days, but that was not to be, nor do I think it shall be for quite some time.

I woke early, not looking forward to the dark walk into the forest to search for the ruins of Fort Blueblood. I fought off several wolves and a wandering gang of Imps before I somehow managed to stumble into the ruins of a fort I assumed was Fort Blueblood.
As usual a group of bandits had taken up residence within the ruins and were in no mood to tell me whether or not I was even in the correct ruin to find Dagail's father's amulet. If I had been in the wrong ruin they would have died for nothing more than a mistake of direction.
On the body of one of the more better-armed bandits I found a key that opened a door into some sort of graveyard that had become infested with Imps. Two bodies indicated that the bandits had either been caught unawares or tried to clear our the infestation, but without success. 
Of the coffins that the bandits managed to unearth before their deaths, one contained nothing more than an amulet, with not even a skeleton to mark the remains of Dagail's father. Only then did I realize with some relief that I actually was in the correct ruin and that my recommendation for the University was assured. As I turned to leave I realized to my chagrin that someone had managed to sneak up behind me, though fortunately this person remained some distance away.

It was Kalthar, the reformed Necromancer from the Mages Guild. He demanded the amulet from me, saying that he had taken the other one thinking it would be enough to force Dagail from the Guild and that my amulet would prevent this from occurring. Somehow he thought that without her amulet Dagail would promote him and leave the Guild, allowing him to leave Leyawiin for the University. Only then would he return the woman's amulet. 

The plan made no sense of course, but neither did confronting someone who just fought her way through a dozen bandits when all you had was an iron dagger and a conjuration spell. He joined the other spirits inhabiting the desecrated, forgotten graves.
While on my walk back to Leyawiin I was surprised by an Oblivion gate standing right where I had freely walked only hours before. I have yet to observe the opening of a gate, but it is apparently a rather quick process.
The gate was right in my way and the day was still early, so I decided to pay Oblivion another all-too-familiar visit. This gate led me to a piece of Oblivion I have already seen three times: a simple island with one large tower accessible via a series of tunnels infested with Scamps. The tower had equal parts Dremora and Scamps, but neither were any difficulty for me. I claimed another stone of unknown power from Oblivion and found myself standing between the smoldering spires of another closed gate.

By then it was late into the night and I was looking forward to reaching Leyawiin, but yet another Gate had opened in my way. Rather than spend the remaining hours of today in Oblivion I simply marked the Gate on my map to tackle tomorrow. 

Dagail was relieved to be able to slip her father's amulet on but her distracted demeanor did not change much after, though her speech improved significantly. She warned me that the voices spoke of me and of my choosing life or death for many people in the times ahead. She also assured me of her recommendation. 

I would be leaving for Cheydinhal except for the gate I left behind today. I cannot in good conscience leave with it still open and I do not think there will be enough time tomorrow to close the gate and make it to Cheydinhal before the day ends. I may close the gate and go back to Bravil instead, but I shall make that decision tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Oblivion Day 17 - The Near-Invasion of Leyawiin

13 Heartfire, 3E433

Given the length of the ride from Bravil to Leyawiin I elected to get up earlier than usual, anticipating bandits, Oblivion gates, rain, whatever this land has to offer a weary traveler. As it was, I found the body of a bandit dead at least two days, but nothing else save for two wolves and a little dock along the road with a boat tied to it. It reminded me of the nearly uncountable numbers of smugglers that had dotted the coast of Vvardenfell. I made good time and was standing before the gate of Leyawiin before the dawn broke.

Leyawiin has always been an interesting city. Stuck in-between Elsweyr and the Black Marsh, the city boasts the highest population of Khajiit and Argonians of any city of Cyrodiil, including the Imperial City. Such a diverse group of people tends to attract a diverse group of visitors and the few who were awake when I arrived wasted no time in telling me about an Orc name Mazoga who had presented herself to the Count claiming to be a knight of some kind. Interesting, but hardly relevant to my reason for being here.

I sold my silvered long sword at a blacksmithy called the 'Dividing Line' and purchased a steel short blade to replace it. The long sword had been a welcome addition when I received it, but I am no armorer and rigors of my several trips to Oblivion has left the blade worse for it. I could have had the Argonian blacksmith repair it, but I would much rather have a sturdier, if somewhat shorter, blade in its place.

The Mages Guild in Leyawiin has fallen on hard times. It's Master, an Altmer named Dagail, has been unfocused to the point of incoherence and her second, an Imperial named Agata, has been running the guild in her stead. This lack of focus is a recent thing however and Dagail was normally an effective leader. Focus or no, only Dagail could give me the recommendation I sought, so I had no choice but to speak with her. Her speech was not as vague as I had been led to expect and I found her understandable, if rather meandering. She did complain of constantly hearing voices and I assumed that they were the cause of her unending distraction.

Dagail did say that her amulet silenced the voices, but that it had recently gone missing. She asked my help, but could do little else but direct me to Agata to learn what was required of me. Agata was surprised that Dagail revealed the cause of her misery to me, but she did not know much about the disappearance herself. She suggested I ask around the Guild to see if anyone had seen an amulet laying around, but I figured if it had simply been laying around it would have been found before my arrival. Nevertheless, I spent some time acquainting myself with the other guild members, including the resident Alchemist, S'drassa who asked that I keep my eyes open for crystals called "Garridan's Tears", powerful ingredients that I have been promised a fair quantity of money for, should I bring him any. He also mentioned that a guildmember, Kalthar, had been talking about an amulet.

Kalthar was happy to hear that I was searching for the amulet, but not in a helpful sense. He crowed that the guild's "facade" was ready to collapse and that Dagail's entire family had always suffered from these bouts of strangeness. He then talked of Dagail's father, who according to him served the Empire for years and died in an unmarked grave. Why the man's anonymous fate bothered Kalthar, I have no idea. 

After asking Dagail about her father she told me in a roundabout way that he had fallen in battle, possibly against a dragon, near Fort Blueblood. I am not familiar with the specific fort, but Dagail told me to search the south-west for its ruins and within it, her father's amulet which would quiet her own voices. I left the guild expecting the rest of the day to go rather quickly.

On my way out I encountered the Countess and her bodyguard and she actually stopped to speak with me, asking if I was an adventurer. When I replied that I was, she praised my actions, stating that the Empire depended now on people like me to keep the roads safe from bandits and "rabble-rousers" instead of Legion. Disquieting, but I pretty much already knew this to be true.

As I left the city via the east gate the sky began to glow red and my fur stood on-end, sure signs of an Oblivion gate, but I was literally standing just outside the city. I thought the gates opened only well outside the cities to stealthily stock the land with Daedra, but this gate was an arrow's shot away from the city wall.
When I asked the gate guard about it, he admitted to being scared of the thing and said that the Count had been trying to raise a small force from the city guard to invade the gate, but that had been days ago and no one stepped forward. Thus the gate was left alone to spew forth Daedra and eventually destroy the city. As the Countess had said moments prior, it seems up to adventurers to defend the Empire in these difficult days.

The gate led me to an area of Oblivion with which I was very familiar already: six small towers surrounding a large tower, each of which controlled a gate on the ground. Opening the gates allowed entrance to a smaller tower which led inside the large one, enabling me to claim the Stone and close the Gate.
By then dusk was closing and I did not feel as though I had time enough to wander the forest southwest of Leyawiin in search of a fortresses's ruin, so I have ended my day early at the 'Five Claws Lodge'. The Countess's observation has been in my head all afternoon and I realize my initial strategy of tackling these Gates myself is not a winning one. I need to encourage others to do the same and in this town, the Orc Mazoga may be adventurer enough for the task. I do not yet know.

Tomorrow I shall complete my own business and then look after the Orc and see if we cannot come to some sort of understanding about what the Empire requires from people such as us.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Oblivion Day 16 - Within a Dream

12 Heartfire, 3E433

If the outside of Bravil's Mages Guild was shabby and worn-down, it did well to disguise the inside of the Guild, both materially and organizationally. The Guild's master is Kud-Ei, an Argonian with a very strict sense of responsibility and obvious pride in her Hall and her people. She greeted me and immediately assumed (correctly) that I had come to her seeking a recommendation.

Kud-Ei apologized for not having a "conventional" task to assign to me, being preoccupied instead with friction between two of her guildmates, the Dunmer Varon Vamori and the Altmer Ardaline. I assumed the difficulty was due to hostility between the two, but the reverse was actually the case: Varon had an interest in Ardaline, but all of his advances have been spurned. For whatever reason, the man decided to steal his would-be lover's magical staff and she could not bring herself to confront him, leaving the problem at Kud-Ei's feet instead and as a result, mine as well.

Kud-Ei did not want to get involved as the rest of the Guild did not yet know about the theft and she did not want to embarrass Ardaline by bringing her authority to bear on Varon. What Kud-Ei was willing to do was far more clever: I was to speak with Varon and use Illusion spells while doing so to make the man more willing to talk. Thus, I would be helping Kud-Ei and presumably learning something about magic in the process, though I feel what magic I wound up using was still within my rather depleted set of skills. I was given several scrolls to enhance my personality and free reign to tackle this problem however I saw fit.

The freedom was nice, but there was little else to do but speak to Varon. With a scroll providing me with additional charisma, I approached Varon and asked him directly about the missing staff. He readily replied that he did, in fact, take it, but could not justify the action even to himself. Varon stated that he only wanted Ardaline to feel about him the way he felt about her, but admitted to completely botching his latest stratagem by both taking the staff and then, astonishingly, selling it to a friend of his in the Imperial City, Soris Arenim. 

When I reported back to Kud-Ei with news of the staff's location I was given more scrolls and asked to travel to the City in order to retrieve the staff. Again, how I accomplished this was my decision alone. Fortunately, it was still early in the morning and the Imperial City was not a time-consuming destination from Bravil by horse, so I went back to the stables and rode back to the Capital. Having encountered nothing hostile along the way, I arrived about two hours later, having made good time.
Varon had given me the location of his friend's home, so I had no trouble finding where the staff was, but acquiring it would be a different matter. When I arrived at the man's house he already had a visitor present, so I spent some time talking with his wife, Erissare. With one of Kud-Ei's scrolls discreetly in effect she told me that the staff was locked away in the basement and that the key was upstairs in their bedroom. Having learned this, I waited until both husband and wife were busy with their business visitor and sneaked upstairs to take the key. With another scroll I convinced both of them that I was in the market for a staff and they allowed me into the basement alone. From there it was a simple matter to take the staff, though I did leave one hundred Septims in the drawer where the staff had been to soothe my conscience. Leaving the house was a rather uncomfortable and stiff affair, as I wound up tying the staff to the side of my leg underneath my gown.

I did not dally at the City, instead immediately returning to the stables before either one of them called the guards on what seemed to me to be an obvious theft. Hopefully the coin will soothe their tempers. When I arrived back at Bravil it was just after dinner and I was looking forward to an evening of magical study, but that was not to be. I received the promise of a recommendation, but Kud-Ei asked if I would be interested in helping her with a more personal problem. The Guild specializes in my magical School of choice so I agreed figuring that it was only good to earn the Guildmaster's favor if I was to be a somewhat frequent visitor.

The personal problem was the disappearance of her friend, Henantier. He had a reputation for being careless with his experiments and she feared one had finally gotten the better of him. When I expressed my interest in helping her find the man she sighed and told me that she had been lying slightly: Henantier was not missing, but...unavailable, in a way. His latest experiment was in finding a way to enter his own dreams where he could study or train as much as he liked. Kud-Ei's story about him disappearing was merely a cover to protect him from being expelled from the Guild, as his latest experiment was well outside the accepted norms.

I was led to his house where he remained trapped in his own dream, courtesy of an amulet he constructed. Kud-Ei had the amulet and told me that all I had to do was wear the amulet before I went to sleep and I should then find myself inside Henantier's dreamworld. She would not go herself, fearing that her friend's memories of her would make it impossible for her to convince him that he was merely dreaming. I, as a stranger, would have no such difficulty. So I placed the amulet upon myself and settled into the bed next to the restless man, nervous about what I would wake up to, so to speak.

The man's dream was a nightmare of the worst sort. He was trapped in what looked like a ruined version of his own bedroom, everything was colored by a sickly red light, and he had no idea who or where he was. I also happened to be naked, much to my displeasure.
Speaking to Henantier only generated the babbling that he had lost several items in the area and repeatedly asked me to find them until I agreed. A brief exploration of the tiny area revealed four different doors, but I found nothing that suggested it might be one of the "lost" items. It was clear that these items of his lay behind each of the doors.

Each door contained a test, I suppose each one was to improve some skill or spell. The first door I chose placed me in an arena with a two-handed blade and two angry Minotaurs. Defeating each of them was easier than I anticipated, as it only took a single blow to fell these dream foes. After defeating both of them a staircase appeared at one end of the arena leading towards a small ball spinning wildly within a shaft of bright light. It strongly reminded me of the Oblivion stones. Taking it sent me back to Henantier.

The other three doors led to different tests. One was simply a room filled with traps, the second contained three sets of tiles that needed to be walked on in a precise order and the third, my least favorite, had me swim through an increasingly dark, foreboding tunnel until I finally reached dry land and the last of the dream-stones.

Once I had all the stones talking to Henantier began to have some positive results. He accepted my story of being sent into his dream by Kud-Ei to rescue him and lamented his own foolishness at being conquered by the tests that were supposed to improve him. With understanding came release and his dreamworld dissolved around us as we both woke up.

Now awake and back in the real world, Henantier was very thankful and gifted me six scrolls as a reward, though I have not yet looked to see what they do. Kud-Ei was just as grateful for the safe return of her old friend and promised me discounts at the Guild whenever I return. 

Despite having slept I was utterly exhausted and bade them farewell so that I could take my plain lodgings at the 'Silverhome on the Water' inn. Tomorrow I make the long trip to Leyawiin and I am certainly not looking forward to the ride from that city to Cheydinhal later this week. But my tour of the province's Mages Guilds is almost complete and then I can hopefully find someone in the University to explain what the Oblivion stones actually are.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Oblivion Day 15 - Murderer on the Gold Road

11 Heartfire, 3E433

I was already awake when Arielle slid into my room several hours later. I was already pretending to be a merchant, so my role in her plan was to act as bait. At my own discretion, I was to leave the inn and continue to travel along the Gold Road heading east into the area where the bodies have been found. With luck, I would serve as a tempting target and the murderer would be flushed out of hiding. Arielle and her battle-mages would be following me discreetly, ready to leap out as soon as the murderer made his move against me. I concurred with the plan and left the Inn after midnight, trusting my Khajiit eyes to give me early warning of any attack.

The murderer revealed herself to be none other than my fellow inn-mate, the Altmer Caminalda. She gave no reason for her wanton hostility and said little other than that my time had come. Very uninspired. As it turned out, neither myself nor Arielle and her battle-mages were required. Caminalda's oratory was matched by her environmental awareness and she launched her attack upon me just as a Legionnaire turned the corner of the road on his horse. A blow from the man's long blade nearly cleaved the woman in two as she concentrated on a spell.
Arielle asked me to return to the Guild while she and her people cleared the road of the Altmer's remains. Having left so early in the morning, everyone was still asleep when I arrived at the guildhouse, so I idly experimented with some of my alchemy ingredients to pass the time. When Carahil came down for breakfast I reported her fellow Altmer's death and my recommendation from her was assured. I set off for Bravil after a hearty breakfast, though it was obvious I was still an outsider there, recommendation or no.

While enroute to Bravil I came upon an Oblivion gate close enough to the road that Scamps were actively tearing the path's cobblestones out of it. After clearing the area of Scamps, I secured my horse and stepped back into Oblivion. Fortunately where I ended up was a place I have been before and I stole another Stone from Oblivion effortlessly, even with the rather welcome addition of more Dremora than usual. I left the smolder wreck of the gate behind as it began to rain, quenching what little fire remained of it.
Bravil is an ugly, poor town, the houses are little more than shacks and the residents little more than beggars. They all have a desperate, haggard appearance, as if there was some secret way out of the town that everyone was looking for. The town universally smells like a latrine, as they use the sluggish canal winding through the town as one, as well as for bathing and washing. It is a rather archaic way of living and I cannot think of a reason why Count Regulus does not seek to improve his squalid city.

As soon as I stepped inside the gates I was approached by a woman named Ursanne who had been looking for anyone to help find her missing husband. The man had borrowed from a notorious lender of money and she feared his final location was somewhere underneath the waters of the canal. Still, she had hope that he lived and that someone could re-unite them and this hope is what drove her to approach a richly dressed, armed Khajiit who had just walked into her town. 

Despite my misgivings of the town itself, I felt I could spare the time to help the woman and agreed to look into her husband's disappearance as soon as my own business had been attended to. She thanked me profusely and gave me the location of her shack so that I might return him to her once I was able.

But the trip from Anvil to Bravil had been a long one and the Oblivion gate also ate into the day quite well. When I finally was able to distinguish the town's Inn from the rest of the shacks, it was deep into the evening and I had no energy to either look for her husband or visit the local Mages Guild. I have rented a very plain room in the 'Silverhome on the Water', an inn whose name is far more extravagant than its furnishings.
I have slept in worse places, the ruined strongholds of the Sixth House certainly being one (or several) of those places. The room is dry, if rough, and I am content enough with that. Tomorrow morning I shall call upon the Guild and see what is required for my recommendation from Bravil. I was told that the Bravil Guild specializes in Illusion spells, so I am eager to see how I can improve my own skill in that school, for it has been a very long time since I have cast much of anything and a Khajiit is always well-served by illusions.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Oblivion Day 14 - Mystery in Anvil

10 Heartfire, 3E433
Brina Cross Inn

A day spent without setting foot in Oblivion is a day increasingly becoming more rare, making the land a much more hazardous place to travel in. Today I made the trip between Skingrad and Anvil, passing the ruined town of Kvatch on my way, a not-so-gentle reminder of what will happen again if I cease to close the gates as I meet them.
Today's gate lay just outside of a inn new enough to be unknown to me and certainly close enough to it to be visible to anyone inside. I do wonder why no one has been summoning the Legion to deal with these things and why it is up to a former Khajiit prisoner to do so. Such is one of the many mysteries of my life, I suppose. The gate itself, by now, bears little mention.
What does is the nature of my business at the Anvil Mages Guild. The head of the local guild is an Altmer named Carahil and unlike at Skingrad she did not treat my presence as something to be merely dealt with. Rather she seemed eager to have me there, even temporarily and assured me my recommendation was certain so long as I was willing to prove able-bodied and willing to learn. 

The matter sounds more serious than what occupied my other recommendations. Merchants have been found dead along the Gold Road and the wounds on their bodies suggests a rogue mage is to blame. The ruling council has asked Carahil to find the murderer and bring him or her to justice. The council dispatched battlemages to the Brina Cross Inn, curiously the same inn that the gate was outside of, but they are awaiting her orders before acting. Carahil instructed me to go back to the Inn, present myself as a merchant, and introduce myself covertly to a Arielle Jurard, who is waiting for an "assistant" of Carahil's.

No doubt due to the recent murders the Inn was nearly deserted, aside from the battlemages only another Altmer is staying alongside me tonight. She introduced herself as Caminalda and asked my business on the road, so I told her I was a merchant of small, shiny things, so she likely thinks I am either a merchant or a thief. Not that it matters. Arielle told me to rent a room and that she would visit me secretly at midnight tonight to tell me what the plan is. Apparently things have progressed further than Carahil was aware.

Midnight is not for several hours still, so I will get what rest I can and earn my recommendation soon enough.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Oblivion Day 13 - Fetcher of Mages

9 Heartfire, 3E433

The decision was made to pursue my Mage Guild tasks in Skingrad and Anvil first, then visit Bravil and work my way around the province, counter-clockwise. Along the way I shall close any gates I come across and, should I find a teacher, practice my Illusion magic, which I am sorely lacking in skill after languishing in prison for so long.

My horse had miraculously returned to the stable after abandoning me outside of an Oblivion gate several days ago, so I elected to save time by riding directly to Skingrad, past Hackdirt and through a lot of untamed wilderness. I only hoped that I did not run into another Oblivion gate on my way there.

I passed the ruins of the gate by Hackdirt which I closed yesterday and all that remained of it was a smoldering pile of stone and a few dead Scamps.
I also found a shrine to some Daedric Prince, though I could not tell which one. Three worshipers were gathered around the shrine, chanting and gesturing towards the statue of whichever Prince the statue was of. Cultists though they were, they left me alone and I had no desire to start a fight where one was not warranted, so I left them in peace.

I had just passed a small farm with a large church next to it when the sky began to turn red, exactly what I had been hoping to avoid. There are more signs inside the Gates that other people have started to try to close them, but so far I have not seen any sign of that success. This Gate had the body of a horse just inside the entrance, with two Scamps having a terrible feast of the animal's body.
Fortunately, the Gate was another small one, just three towers, two of which conspired to keep two gates leading to the third tower closed, but after opening the gates there was little opposition against my ascending the third tower and yanking the stone from its fiery pedestal. Another Gate destroyed, though the apparent ease at which they open diminishes the accomplishment somewhat. The rest of the trip to Skingrad passed uneventfully.

My first exposure to the Skingrad Mages Guild was that of Druja, an Argonian who warned me that the head of the guild, Adrienne, hated being pulled from her reading and would likely be annoyed at my request for a University recommendation. I was in luck though, for Adrienne was not reading when I arrived, but instead was speaking to a guild member, fretting about Erthor, a member whose absence was "disturbing her research", as she put it. 
She was of no help telling me where to even start looking for the man, but the other members of the guild were well-educated in Adrienne's absent-mindedness and told me that she herself had told the Bosmer to leave the guild, as his experiments had been disturbing her reading. He had made it known to everyone (including Adrienne) that he was to be found in a nearby cave called 'Bleak Flats' where he was continuing his experimentation.

When I reminded Adrienne of her order, she brushed it off and said that something should be done about it, that "something" being my visiting Erthor and bringing him back to the guild. Bleak Flats was not terribly far from Skingrad, so it was much to my displeasure when I found another Oblivion gate lit up a hundred yards or so from the cave.
But Erthor's return was my highest priority, so I tied my horse outside the cave and stepped inside. Immediately my nose was assailed by the smell of rotting flesh and I feared the worst for the Bosmer, but the place had been invaded by zombies, somehow lured by the careless mage's experiments. He was relieved to hear they had been dispatched and asked that he be allowed to follow me back to town. I had been planning on closing the gate immediately after, but agreed figuring that his accidental death while on his own would be a large problem towards my access into the University.

We reached the town without incident and Adrienne gave him quite a cold reception, but I could tell she was happy to have him back. She agreed to write my recommendation in-between her books and I left the guild, intent on closing the Oblivion gate. There seems to be at least one near every town I have visited and closing these "invasion" gates as I canvass Cyrodiil is my highest priority, even moreso than gaining entrance to the University and determining what these stones are.

Curiously, this gate had another dead horse within it, but the area was not the same as the previous horse-gifted plane of Oblivion. It was just as easy though and until I stop facing tiny Scamps and the occasionally lonesome Dremora I will not have anything further about the gates to really speak of. The pattern to close them remains the same: gain entrance to the tallest tower, ascend to the top level, and snatch the stone. Sometimes getting to the tower means extending bridges, other times opening gates, and still other times just plain fighting my way to the top. Perhaps things will change eventually.

But my time in Skingrad, though short, is now complete. I must keep moving. Tomorrow is scheduled for Anvil, the reaching of which promises to take up much of the day and after that will be Bravil, the trip to which will certainly consume an entire day. From what I have been told, the Bravil Mages Guild should be of particular interest to me, as they specialize in Illusion spells. Perhaps I can find a reason to dally a day or two in Bravil once I'm there.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Oblivion Day 12 - Abduction in Hackdirt

8 Heartfire, 3E433

The 'Fingers of the Mountain' book is now in the hands of the Mages Guild and I am glad it is, as I was told while on my way to the Guild that Teekeeus used to be in a position at the Arcane University. Earana's scheming successfully saw him removed from whatever post he held there, but apparently she felt that she could not rest for as long as the Argonian was in the Guild at all. I cannot understand such spitefulness and I am glad to have helped him with his problem. He received his book and I received the promise of my recommendation, which is good enough for me.

That left only the unfortunate Dar-Ma to rescue from the equally unfortunate village of Hackdirt. I had been posted there many years ago as part of a small detachment guarding isolated villages from goblins. We had received a warm reception at every place we stopped at...except for Hackdirt. True, the town had been mostly burnt-out rubble then, but that had not been our doing. I simply remember it being a very unfriendly, unpleasant place and we were all glad to move on after a few days to the next village on the list.

The more things change, the more things stay the same. Hackdirt is still the same miserable patch of land that it was back then, with one rather important difference. I got the same glares I remembered from years back when I walked into town and the same curt responses to any question I had, including why there was a white horse crudely stabled within the wreck of an old house.
Dar-Ma was still there or had been. But the people of Hackdirt were not the most clever of folk and when I asked about only a "missing shopkeeper", one of the older men replied that he knew nothing about an Argonian...a detail I had not mentioned. Further investigation netted a trapdoor in the corner of one of the ruined homes and underneath it a sprawling cavern that used to be a mine, if my memory is correct.

But there was no more ore in the mine, just strange half-naked men with large eyes, clubs, and a rather hostile attitude. I was attacked immediately by these brutes, but dispatched them all handily, and found Dar-Ma alive and well in a cage during the running melee I was engaged in. The key to Dar-Ma's cell was on one of the man-creatures and she seemed unharmed and understandably frightened. I escorted her back to the surface and her horse Blossom, but we were attacked by more of the brutes, as well as some townspeople, as soon as she had mounted.

I told her to flee to Chorrol before we were surrounded and she took off, leaving me to deal with the small riot assaulting me without having to worry about her. When things had finally quieted down I was covered in blood and the town of Hackdirt had probably half the living residents it had this morning. Everyone else was inside their homes, so I began the long trek back to the city, welcoming the cleansing rain that started to fall as I did so.

But I had only been walking for a few minutes before I heard the unmistakable sounds of a horse in distress. I rushed forwards thinking that Dar-Ma had run into some sort of ambush somehow set by Hackdirt, but as I drew closer to the sound I noticed the sky was turning a deep red.

Dar-Ma managed to stumble into an Oblivion gate, scaring the wits out of her horse. I helped the frightened Argonian drag the horse away from the gate and told her to ride as quickly as possible around it once Blossom had calmed. When she asked why I was not following, I told her I was going to close the gate and she looked at me as if I had suddenly grown a second head. Once I saw that she was safely around the gate and heading to the city I stepped forwards, wary of scamps' fireballs, and entered the Gate.
At least it feels like the Gates are becoming easier. This one was new again: two small towers and one large tower. I had only to release the lock on a bridge from one small tower to  the other, then from that tower release a second lock to extend a bridge to the large tower, atop which sat the Stone powering the entire place. And that was all there was to that Gate. Scamps are no longer an issue at all and I found myself wishing for the days of Morrowind when I was going toe-to-toe with powerful Dremora. At least life was challenging then.

As usual time seems to pass quicker in Oblivion and again it was deep into the evening when I had closed the Gate, despite it being late morning when I entered it. An Oblivion gate is a guarantee on how your day will be spent.

Still, I made it back to Chorrol before too long and stopped at Seed-Neeus's tradehouse to make sure Dar-Ma had arrived home safely.
For having rescued her daughter Seed-Neeus promised me her undying gratitude and friendship, two things which I have learned go a lot farther than a handful of coins. If at all possible I shall endeavor to sell most of my future goods to her as I am promised the best prices for everything. This will not always be possible, of course, but whenever possible, it shall be done.

I have spent enough time in Chorrol I think. I have a decision to make now: do I travel west to Skingrad and Anvil or east to Bruma and Cheydinhal? The choice is somewhat pointless, I have to visit each city eventually to gain the Guild recommendation for entry to the University, but I am leaning towards Skingrad and Anvil to keep myself from having to double-back once I have finished my business in the east.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Oblivion Day 11 - Time in Chorrol

7 Heartfire, 3E433

I woke early just to make sure I gained an audience at the Arcane University and was disappointed to be told that only members of the Mages Guild were allowed access. The stones I have taken from the Oblivion gates are obviously enchanted and I had hoped to see someone at the University about them, but they now have to wait until I am a fully accepted member of the Mages Guild, which may be some time.

While I was futilely attempting entry into the University a Bosmer introducing herself as Bothiel handed me a pamphlet calling on all adventurers to undertake the adventure of repairing something called the Orrery, which she explained is a device for predicting where the planets will be at a particular time. It requires Dwemer parts to repair and the shipment from Morrowind has been waylaid by bandits, the location of which she hopefully provided, though I cannot see why the mages are not journeying to the bandit camp themselves. Perhaps I will undertake this charitable task once I am able to enter the actual University and see this broken Orrery for myself.

Joining the Mages Guild was my next step, but one cannot join from the University. No, an applicant has to present themselves at one of the guilds in the surrounding towns. Chorrol is closest to the main gate leaving the Imperial City, so it was back to the town I went. My horse made the trip far less arduous than my walk there with Martin and I reached the town well before the afternoon.
The Argonian shopkeeper, Seed-Neeus, asked me if she could bother me about a problem she was having. When she told me what it was, I wondered how anyone could calmly ask to bother someone with such a problem. Her daughter, a friendly Argonian named Dar-Ma, had gone to the isolated village of Hackdirt to make a delivery, but has been away overlong and Seed-Neeus was worried something may have happened to her. I agreed to the task of course, for I am not yet a completely heartless individual.

Two clues were available to me. One, the person in Hackdirt expecting the delivery was one Etira Moslin and two, Dar-Ma always rode her horse, Blossom, where ever she went. That was all I had to go on, but I knew of Hackdirt before today, having spent some unpleasant time there years ago while defending it from goblins. The people there are just as isolated as the village and I suspect they have something to do with Dar-Ma's tardiness. I hope for their sake that they did not do anything stupid.

The Chorrol Mages Guild accepted me as a trial member, but I did not realize that I would need a recommendation from ALL the Mages Guilds in Cyrodill before I would be allowed within the Arcane University. This is troublesome and I do not think I have the time for that, but I will see what I can do.

The head of the local Mages Guild is an Argonian, Teekeeus, has been embroiled in an argument with an ex-member of the Guild, Earana, an Altmer who (not suprisingly) feels she would be a better leader of the guild than he. She had been loitering near the Guild as of late and making Teekeeus nervous. My task was to speak to Earana, who courtesy of not knowing I was a member, would speak to me.

And she did. The task was not to set fire to Teekeeus's home, but to fetch a book titled 'Fingers of the Mountain' from a shrine atop the mountains north of the city. When I reported back to Teekeeus he was surprised at her request, but also had heard of the book and instructed me to return it to him instead of Earana, not a difficult decision to make.

The trip up the mountains was uneventful and I found the book on a small pedestal next to which the charred body of someone lay. I was warned not to attempt to read the book and can assume a similar warning did not reach the unfortunate soul. Safely storing the book in my pack, I turned around to find yet another Oblivion gate steaming in the heavy rain.
Evidently I was not the first warrior to step through this gate, three unidentifiable bodies lay close to the inside of the gate, their armor and weapons fused to the bodies via a great heat.
I can only wonder at the combat prowess of the deceased, for I found nothing dangerous, just small Scamps and weak balls of fire. This pocket of Oblivion was new to me, but it was very small and had only a single structure within it, the tower containing the Stone. 

Dremora patrolled the inside of the tower, but they were poorly equipped for their kind and save for a pair that accidentally attacked me at the same time, I dealt with no strategic intelligence among any of them.
The moon was high when I had feet on Cyrodill soil once again, so I am camping out tonight and will return to Chorrol in the morning, return the book, and then see what I can do about the situation in Hackdirt. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Oblivion Day 10 - Oblivion, Then Shopping

6 Heartfire, 3E433
Tiber Septim Hotel, Imperial City

The gate outside of Roland's cabin was sparsely guarded as usual, but led me to a location in the Plane of Oblivion that I had not seen before. It was no more dangerous for being unknown than the other ones I have vanquished and I believe I closed this gate quicker than the others. Hopefully more gates will send me to this much easier location.
The stones that I am recovering from these gates seem to be enchanted somehow, but I do not know with what or how to use them. Should I find the time, I will have to visit the Arcane University and make some inquiries.

Roland was obviously very happy to hear that the murderer of his lover had been brought to bloody justice and that his own life was no longer in danger. My service convinced him that Seridur's 'Order of the Virtuous Blood' should continue its work, though perhaps more accurately in the future. He said he would return to the Imperial City and speak with the remaining members about joining himself and asked that I stop by to see him there when I get a chance.

I returned to the City as well to do some shopping, mostly selling off the various things I have collected from the Oblivion gates, bandits on the road, and Memorial Cave. Jensine at the 'Good As New' general store asked me to look into the suspicious inventory of one of her competitors and I turned her down assuming it was just a ploy to get more business of her own, but after three other shopkeepers complained about the same merchant, I returned and agreed to speak with the Bosmer Thoronir about where his exceptionally cheap merchandise is coming from. I suspect it is stolen, but I could not get anything out of Thoronir when I spoke with him. I will have to return to the case later on.

Visiting all of the shops in the Market Distract left me with a much fuller purse, a complete set of alchemy equipment of somewhat plain quality, and a red velvet outfit of far better quality than I am accustomed to. When I visited the Order I found that Roland was now in charge of vampire-hunting and gladly paid me two hundred and fifty Septims for each vial of Vampire Dust I had, enriching me greatly. Grey-Throat gifted me his family's ring, the 'Ring of Sunfire', which he said would protect me against vampire spells and disease. Apparently vampire-hunting runs in the Argonian's family.

While leaving the Temple Distract I was stopped by a Dunmer who asked if I had ever been to Morrowind. I had to say yes, of course, and she surprisingly exclaimed how much better life was in Cyrodiil, stating that she deplored how Khajiit and Argonians were treated in her home province. A nice thing to hear, but it felt rather out of character coming from a Dunmer.

The trip from Roland's cabin had already taken up much of the day and my shopping took the rest. It is rare that I am afforded the opportunity to sleep in any sort of luxury, so I am treating myself to a room at the expensive Tiber Septim Hotel in the Talos Plaza district of the City. I am not sure what I will be doing tomorrow, but it may be good to get out of the City and start visiting the other towns in the province. Also, I need to speak with someone regarding these Oblivion stones I am carrying around everywhere.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Oblivion Day 9 - A Familiar Foe

5 Heartfire, 3E433

I had never previously stayed at the Wawnet Inn, but as I was leaving the owner, an Altmer named Nerussa, asked me to return if I found any bottles of a rare vintage she called 'Shadowbanish Wine'. The stuff was made by an alchemist years ago for the Legion and the wine was not only said to be excellent, but also to provide the imbiber with a temporary ability to see in the dark. Obviously useful for the Legion during cold, dark hours on watch. Nerussa said that any surviving bottles would likely be found within the ruined forts that have always dotted the land and should I find any, a handsome reward was waiting. If I ever have the time perhaps I shall search for this wine.

As soon as I stepped out of the inn I felt as though I was in danger of drowning. I have never before experienced such rain as I have today. It started before I left the inn and let up late into the night in time for me to finally write this.
The Imperial City's bridge remained as imposing as ever, but the patrols of guards and the watchful eyes of the archers stationed atop the bridge's towers were absent, further disquiet to a province rapidly losing itself to a war with Oblivion itself.

A Dunmer woman approached me while I was huddling under an awning in the Market distract waiting for the shops to open and trying not to get too wet. She introduced herself as Ralsa Norvalo and apologized for bothering me, but stated that she had been sent by her husband to ask for my help. When I asked what it was they needed help with, she said that she did not know, but that her husband had described the task as one critical to the safety of the entire City. 

The critical business was with an Altmer named Seridur and his group of individuals known as 'The Order of the Virtuous Blood', a vampire-hunting organization that had so far failed to hunt a single vampire. Somehow my deeds in Kvatch followed me to the Imperial City and Seridur had been dispatched Ralsa as soon as he had heard I was in town.

Today was a banner day for the Order: they finally found themselves a vampire in the form of one Roland Jenseric, an Imperial. Seridur said he had been roaming the city at night as he often does on his quest to root out vampirism and heard a scream coming from the gardens near Roland's house. Seridur rushed to the scene to find Roland struggling with a woman he had been previously courting, but Roland's vampiric strength was too much for Seridur, who was overpowered and thrown aside. 

The next part of the story was odd though: Seridur said he then ran away and hid, returning twenty minutes later to find the dead body of the woman with two puncture marks on her neck and Roland no where to be seen. Why would he flee and hide instead of summoning the Watch? As a quasi-ex-watch-khajiit, the story triggered some alarm bells in my mind. Something about the story was off, but I did not yet know what.

My quest, of course, was to find Roland and slay him as the Order's newest and soon-to-be most successful member. Seridur suggested I search Roland's house to see if I could find any clues to point me towards the vampire's hiding place. He also recommended that I speak with the Argonian, Grey-Throat and Ralsa's husband, Gilen, before setting out.

Grey-Throat pointed out that vampires would suffer greatly under the sun and hoisting one out into the day was the only way to be certain someone was infected with the disease. Gilen seemed like he did not want to be bothered, so I did not speak with him.

Roland's door was locked, but it surrendered even to my meager lock-picking ability. Evidently the man lived well, he had a fully stocked bar in his basement with expensive-looking vintages. I found a letter on a table written to him whose flowery script and language suggested a woman deeply enamored with the man. The letter writer longed to visit their cabin in the woods once again and the back of the letter had directions to the place, though written with a different, harsher hand, probably Roland's.

The cabin was close to where the road around the Imperial City forks towards Cheydinhal and seemed like an easy trip, especially via my faithful horse, which has yet to abandon me. The rain started up again just as I mounted my horse and I endured a boring, wet ride to Roland's cabin.
No one answered my knocking at the door, so I opened it and stepped inside, startling an Imperial man that looked to be about middle age. This was the supposed vampire, Roland Jenseric. He rather fearfully demanded that I go away and leave him be, but when I confronted him about being a vampire he laughed and told me that it was Seridur who was the vampire, not him. 

Roland had been successfully courting a young lady named Relfina for some time when she suddenly started taking walks in the City's gardens late at night. Suspicious, Roland followed her one night only to witness Seridur casting a Calm spell over the woman before sinking his teeth into the side of her neck. Enraged, Roland burst out of his hiding place and attacked Seridur, but a man's bare hands are a poor weapon against a vampire and he was knocked down with a single blow, quickly losing consciousness

When he woke his lover's body was gone and he realized he was being set up for the crime. So he fled to the cabin to panic and do nothing useful. At my invitation he stepped outside the cabin and into the somewhat overcast sunlight to no harm at all. Clearly he was not the vampire. He argued that Seridur's "order" was the perfect cover for an actual vampire but that Seridur did leave the city now and again to parts unknown. He suggested that I speak with the owner of the 'First Edition' bookshop where Seridur would occasionally frequent prior to his trips.

So it was back to the Imperial City once again. I fear I shall not have fur on my legs if I am to ride any more than I have today. The rain had turned to a thick fog, a small blessing that I was grateful for as my horse and I galloped around the bay to a small bridge just south of the ruins of old Fort Empire which led to the City.
The bookshop's owner, Phintias, freely told me that Seridur regularly frequented his shop in the evening, always with a large satchel full of food for his regular trip to Memorial Cave. I had not heard of this cave before, but Phintias explained that it was a natural cave just outside the City that used to be a place of internment for fallen soldiers. Curious, he had looked it up in an old atlas of his and was able to mark its location on my own map across the bay directly east of the Arcane University. Very helpful of him.

If I had any doubts as to whether I was on the right track, the hanging corpse just inside the cave dispelled them. Vampires are normally a subtle collection of creatures, but when they decide to let go, they really enjoy embracing their new "lives", I suppose.
Memorial Cave was swarming with vampires, but aside from Seridur they were all weak, possibly new. Shots from my bow would physically drop them, allowing me to safely rush forwards and land a dispatching blow from silvered blade.

When I found Seridur he seemed annoyed, saying that he knew it had been a mistake to bring me into his Order, which genuinely existed to find vampires, only not to kill. He said that it was his plan to lure me to Memorial Cave so that it would be easier to hide my body and that he deplored loose ends, intending of course to kill Roland, but also the other members of the Order. Having said that, he attacked with unnatural speed.

But not skill. The man was a vampire, but only his comrades had been warriors. A strong parry of his blade sent him reeling and I followed through by impaling him on my blade, killing him instantly, as is my way. With Seridur dead, I had only to inform Roland of his sudden change in fortune before returning to the Imperial City.

But by then it was late into the night when I left the cave, but when I arrived at the cabin the sky was as bright as day...and red. A gate to Oblivion had opened up just over the hill from Roland and the man had wisely locked his door, refusing my entry until the gate was closed. Evidently news my talent for descending into Oblivion and coming back alive somehow made it into Roland's cabin in the woods.
So I now am readying myself to step into Oblivion once again, but that will be for the next day's entry, for it is early in the morning already and I need to find some place to rest for a few hours.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Oblivion Day 8 - The Unseen Defender of the Imperial City

4 Heartfire, 3E433
Wawnet Inn, outside the Imperial City

The problem is getting worse, not better.

I had figured my new status as a member of the Blades would protect me against arrest for having "escaped" the Imperial prison and wanted to visit what is nearly the place of my birth, the Imperial City. While I do know I was not born there, my earliest memories certainly begin there and I thought it nice to be able to walk around and see the familiar sights once again.

But before I could do that I had another Oblivion gate to demolish. I had ridden back to Bruma to rest for the night before tackling this latest surprise and rode back out early in the morning to confront it.
The sight that greeted me after I stepped into the gate was an imposing one, but still I only faced Scamps and two Dremora sorcerers of hesitant, uncertain skill. Despite looking at first like a challenge, I had no difficulty in fighting my way through to the stone that kept the gate open.
Closing the gate remains just as satisfying as it was the first time.
I could clearly see the Imperial City from the remains of the gate, so I can only assume the gate was just as visible from the higher points of the city, especially at night, yet the Legion had not been dispatched. This entire crisis is becoming more worrisome.

Continuing south towards the City, I encountered nothing worse than two hopeful bandits, one of which my horse dispatched with a kick to his head before I could do anything.
As I passed the ruin of fort Caractacus and the seemingly abandoned village of Aleswell the sky began to take on a red glow and lightning started to flash between the clouds. Another gate, this time one I would have walked by had it not been for the change in weather. The road was lower than the surrounding forest and it took a bit of searching until I came across the gate.
This gate sent me right back to the same place the small gate near Bruma had: a larger tower surrounded by several smaller towers linked by sky bridges and whose ground entrances were sealed by massive metal gates. Only by venturing into each of the smaller towers could I unlock a metal gate, eventually giving myself access to the ground floor of the main tower, atop where the gate's stone spun merrily within a column of fire.
My familiarity with this particular pocket of Oblivion served me well and I was able to complete it quite quickly compared to the others. Nevertheless, it was night when I returned triumphant to Cyrodiil and the City's gates were closed until the morning.

Anticipating this, someone had opened an inn right outside the City's bridge and I was able to get a bed for the night, though the inn lacked a stable, so I can only hope my horse decides to wait for me come the next morning. I have no doubt that tomorrow shall be an interesting day.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Oblivion Day 7 - Betrayal at Bruma

3 Heartfire, 3E433
Outside Bruma

My stay in Bruma's dungeon was mercifully short and I was released this afternoon just after the guards had eaten lunch. The two theives' stories blamed the other for their joint misfortune, but I felt that Jorundr's story was more believable simply because there was no reason for him to lie: he was probably in jail for the rest of his life.

When I visited Arnora again she was busy practicing some lightning magicka, making it look even more likely that she and not Jorundr killed that guardsman.
Arnora listened patiently to my rendition of Jorundr's story, then dismissed the whole thing by asking how I could stand to share a cell with him at all. Understandably she had an alternative to my killing her: I was to take her amulet to Jorundr, tell him that I killed her for it, and then the two of us would split the quantity of the treasure after he revealed where he had hidden it. I agreed suspecting she was planning on making out with all of it somehow, but I felt confident that if it came to it I could overpower her in combat, lightning or no.

He was overjoyed to see Arnora's amulet in my hands and crowed that someone had finally wiped her grin from her face for good. He explained to me how to find the hidden chest and bid me enjoy it.

But when I arrived at the site there was an angry looking guard there already: Tyrellius. I thought myself in trouble with the law once again, but he started our brief conversation by declaring me a loose end that needed dealing with. He said that he had overheard the conversation I had with Jorundr and freely admitted to killing Arnora before making his way toward the gold. With Anora dead and Jorundr already in jail, there was no one to implicate Tyrellius except for me. Hence the 'loose end'. With a shout, he drew a surprisingly expensive silvered long blade and rushed at me. It did not turn out very well for him.
His unintentional gift of a silvered blade is much appreciated and somewhat sadly, the "treasure" the two thieves were in such knots about turned out to be rather meager: a few short stacks of coins, some imperfect pearls, and two brass rings each with a pearl laid into them. Not worth the deaths it took.

I met the rather dim-witted guard from the murder case while walking to the blacksmith. He stopped to thank me for handling it as well as I did. A messenger is on his way to Skingrad to clear Gelebourne's name for what little good it will do. Imperials do like to keep orderly records of everything, it seems.

Conscious of how close the small Oblivion gate I closed was to the town, I thought it best to explore the wilderness east of the gate to make sure there were no gates spewing out annoying Scamps...or worse. To my surprise, Jauffre and Martin's horses were still idly snorting and stamping outside of the city walls and the smaller of the two allowed me to mount with no complaint, speeding up my exploration and cheering me considerably.

My instinct for danger served me well today. I was still along the main road leading south from the city when I smelled the particular scent of burning rock and grass.
Another gate to Oblivion, but a small one once again. My horse refused to get close to the gate, so I dismounted and picked off the roving Scamps one by one with my bow. I was just about to step through the gate when I glanced up at the red sky and seeing the moon, figured maybe a decent night's sleep would serve me better for now. 

I returned to Olav's Tap and Tack and took a meal and a room for the night. Tomorrow, after a decent rest and a good meal, I will return to the gate and close this one as well. It appears no one else can do this thing, but I am not sure if I am up to defending the entire province by myself.