Friday, July 31, 2015

Oblivion Day 30 - Counter-Assault on Oblivion, Part 5

27 Heartfire, 3E433

I woke this morning the hero of Anvil, receiving congratulations and even an offer to purchase a cheap manor in the city itself.  But Anvil is too far away from everything else for me to consider buying a house here and I had a lot that needed to be done today.

First on my list was to lighten myself of the Sigil Stones I have been collecting. I can transfer the magicka stored within each stone to enchant something, though I cannot be sure of what enchantment my item will receive until the process is done. Any enchantment is more valuable than no enchantment at all, so I have been carrying around the potential to make quite a bit of money.

This morning I visited Anvil's blacksmith and surprised him by purchasing all of his weapons. Thus burdened I staggered back to the Mages Guild with the large and very heavy sack of equipment and dumped them on the street in front of the Guild. Then, one by one, I matched a weapon with a Stone and soon had a pile of weakly enchanted bows, swords, and axes. The blacksmith, a Dunmer named Varel Morvayn, was even more surprised to see me return with his wares enchanted and for sale back to him. Varel eagerly bought back every enchanted weapon at considerable cost to himself, enriching me by several thousand Septims. I partially spent my new wealth at the Mages Guild for lessons in casting Illusion spells and to identify the amulet I found in Oblivion, which is just as valuable as I hoped: it will reflect a portion of an enemy's spell against them. Very useful!

That concluded my first order of business, finding the hidden agent of the Mythic Dawn cult was the second. With its constant flow of nearly anonymous sailors in and out Anvil's waterfront would serve as an excellent place to get a menial job while keeping one's identity a secret.
I noticed that an Altmer was pacing along the deck of one of the ships, apparently yelling and complaining to herself about something. As I walked by the ship's dock she called out to me saying that I looked like an adventurous, brave sort of person. Naturally.

Her name was Varulae and the problem was a deceptively simple one: In the holds of the ship lay her family's heirloom, a crystal ball. The catch was that the entire hired crew had been murdered overnight in a manner which left their spirits angrily floating about the lower decks, preventing Varulae from getting the crystal ball herself. My task of course was to descend into the ship, banish the hostile spirits, and retrieve the heirloom.

The spirits were actually Wraiths, souls of people killed unjustly enough for their anger to manifest into a spectral being bent on killing everyone else. The sailors' deaths must have been foul indeed, for there were many Wraiths aboard the ship, each wielding a sailor's cutlass and flinging frost magicka at me. Individually they were not particularly strong and the close confines of the ship meant not having to fight more than one at a time, so I had little difficulty in putting the spirits to rest and retrieving the Varulae's treasure.

My reward was a cutlass of my own, grimly enchanted to drain the life of any creature struck by the blade. I also kept one of the Wraiths' cutlasses to enchant with a Sigil Stone at a later date. A seaport town like Anvil would find many buyers for such a weapon.

I continued to prowl about the waterfront for any rumors of new residents and heard that there was a boarding house appropriately named 'The Forecastle' that catered exclusively to sailors' requirement for temporary lodging between voyages. I suspected that a sailor might be the perfect cover for a cultist and I was right.

She attacked as soon as I entered the boarding house, summoning the typical Mythic Dawn attire upon herself while rushing me with a mace. The rest of the sailors scrambled out of her way and during the ensuring chaos one of them accidentally tripped the cultist, sending her sprawling. A blow from Varulae's cutlass ended her life. On her body was a copy of 'Commentaries, Volume I'.
By then it was only early in the afternoon, so I figured I may as well go back to Skingrad in preparation for the trip to Bravil. The trip was uneventful save for a foolish bandit who was wielding a rather rare Dwemer dagger, which I am keeping for now.

When I arrived at Skingrad it seemed as though I might have been able to make it to Bravil before the night grew too long, but that wound up not happening.
Someone with a cruel sense of humor had opened a Gate directly over a small graveyard of Skingrad's, uprooting caskets and destroying the surrounding landscape. The plane of Oblivion the Gate sent me to was the smallest and easiest of any of the ones I have visited and aside from fighting a new type of well-equipped Dremora nothing about it surprised me.
Despite the time I spent closing the Gate I chose to push onwards towards Bravil, even though it meant arriving some time after midnight. On my way I found two more Gates in the trees near Bravil but they will be taken care of tomorrow.

Bravil's own Gate was not opened over a shrine, but instead over the decrepit remains of an ancient watchtower.
Extra guards were stationed at the city gate and the Captain there assured me that if Daedra started to pour out of the Gate they would be ready to meet them. After what happened to Kvatch I have my doubts, but I am sure an alarm would at least be raised in time, if nothing else.

For tonight I am trusting the guards' vigilance and renting a bed at 'Silverhome on the Water'. Tomorrow I have three Gates I need to close, quite a large order, but I am sure that I am up to the task, for if I am not then no one is.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Oblivion Day 29 - Counter-Assault on Oblivion, Part 4

25 Heartfire, 3E433

As I have been doing lately, I woke very early in the morning to give myself enough time to ride from Skingrad to Anvil while also leaving extra time for any Gates encountered on my way. I anticipated finding many Gates around the ruined city of Kvatch, but as I passed the blackened city only one Gate made an appearance along the road.
The Gate led me to the smaller world which required that I stumble around a gradually ascending cave system which led to the plane's Tower, fighting Scamps and Clannfear the entire way. Waking up early paid off though, for when I stood before the destroyed Gate it was still early in the morning, though the sun had risen. As I trudged back up the hill towards the road I heard the sounds of combat in front of me. By the time I got to the road it was already over; a Legionnaire was standing over the bodies of the Scamps the Gate's destruction had driven away. He greeted me cordially and told me that the Legion was sending what troops it could spare to the locations of known Gates, not to close them, but to slay the Daedra as they emerged. That takes a little of the burden off of my shoulders, though it will do nothing to stop additional Gates from emerging.

A second Gate lay on a hill overlooking the city and must have been quite a sight for the city's residents at night. This is keeping with what I have already seen: two or three Gates opened close to each city by cultists stationed within the cities.
Curiously this gate also led to the same world as the Gate near Kvatch did, only somehow with the Clannfear, Scamps, and Dremora alive and well. I suppose it is possible that each Gate is connected to a separate, tiny piece of Oblivion instead of a few select locations as I originally suspected, but whatever the case I still had to fight my way through the caves for a second time today.

I have been noticing as of late that my reserve of Magicka energy has been regenerating itself. At first it was a slow thing and I thought little of it, but now I can cast a simple Illusion spell and feel just as refreshed in a few minutes as if I had slept for several hours. I can only assume this has something to do with Dagoth Ur's so-called "Divine Disease" and is a secret I will be very sure to keep to myself.

Closing Anvil's Gate turned out to be a very profitable venture for me. On the body of one Dremora I found an amulet enchanted powerfully enough that I cannot determine what it actually will do when worn. The local Mages Guild will be able to tell me what the enchantment is and it will be quite powerful, whatever it is.

Like Skingrad's gate, Anvil's was opened over a shrine, utterly destroying it.
The Gate itself was nothing special and night had fallen by the time it was destroyed. The gate guards had watched me charge into the Gate and gratefully let me in despite the late hour. Only guards were walking around inside, so I went to the Mages Guild where one of the members congratulated me on eliminating the threat to the city. 

No one else was awake, so I have secured an empty bed and will spend a day or so in Anvil before riding all the way to Bravil. One of the things I will be seeking to do at each city is to try to root out the cultists that have been opening the gates. The brazen attack on myself at Skingrad proves that they are still here, I just need to find a way to bring them to me.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Oblivion Day 28 - Counter-Assault on Oblivion, Part 3

24 Heartfire, 3E433

I woke very early again, intending to finally make it to Skingrad before dawn broke. Having closed three gates around Chorrol I felt confident that the journey between the two cities would be relatively peaceful.

Skingrad's Oblivion Gate was on the side of the road, obliterating a shrine it had been opened on top of. Clannfear were sauntering out of the Gate as I dismounted and approached on foot.
Clannfear are easily dealt with so long as you remember to sidestep their initial charge. Having their target seemingly disappear from in front of them momentarily confuses them and allows for a strike at their unarmored backs.

The Gate was the smaller one with the two small towers connecting to the one large one after unlocking the bridge locks atop the small towers. It was weakly defended and I quickly claimed another Sigil stone, closing the Gate and temporarily securing the city of Skingrad.

As I stepped inside the city I was accosted by an Orc who congratulated me on closing the Gate. He was not the only one either. The proprietor of the local alchemy shop, a Dunmer with the telling name of Falanu Hlaalu also thanked me for closing the Gate, then asked me if I knew what the punishment for necrophilia was. I had to admit I did not and she seemed a bit irritated by this. I hesitate to speculate why.

Strange interests aside, she had an excellent selection of potions and I spent quite a sum on twenty flasks of healing draught of various potency. They will surely come in handy for the Gates I no doubt have yet ahead of me.

I left Skingrad without much expectation that I would be able to reach Anvil without incident. I was correct. I had ridden for only a few minutes before two Oblivion gates loomed before me on either side of the road.
Both Gates were both strongly guarded and every floor of every tower felt like it was teeming with Dremora. In one room of a tower within the second Gate I faced three of the armored Dremora at once, dispatching them only after a punishing melee.
When I finally emerged from the second Gate it was far too dark to ride any further, so I retired back to Skingrad and took a room at the West Weald Inn. It proved to be a fateful decision. As I was walking into my room a Mythic Dawn assassin burst out of one of the adjacent rooms, swinging a two-handed sword.
The woman looked to be a resident of the town and the Gates were likely her doing. This was the first assassination attempt made against me and I do not think it will be the last. If the Mythic Dawn 'Commentaries' volume is anything to go by then I suspect that each town has at least one agent within it to open the Gates and subvert any attempts to close them. I shall have to be on higher guard following today's attempt, but I will not let it deter me from doing what needs to be done.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Oblivion Day 27 - Counter-Assault on Oblivion, Part 2

23 Heartfire, 3E433

The morning started out very early, 2AM, just so that I would have more than enough time to reach Skingrad before the day was out. It was a notion born of hope and desperation given the number of Gates that have been opening.

I may have closed the gate immediately outside Chorrol, but I was not more than ten minutes into my ride to Skingrad when I came upon another Gate.
Annoyingly, the area the Gate led me to required that I descend into a series of caves and work my way through them, eventually ending up back outside and in front of the tower holding the Sigil Stone. Khajiit are not cave-dwellers and I felt as though the earth was closing in on me as I fought through Scamps and Clannfear. The oppressive red light emitting from every carved surface certainly did not help. My anxiety was soothed somewhat by finding a robe powerfully enchanted with a Shield enchantment, but it is a pity the robe itself is cheap and uncomfortable and not likely to replace the red velvet garments I wear now.

As I wrote yesterday, the garrisons within Oblivion have been getting stronger. I faced three Dremora at once in the Sigil room, one well-armed and armored, one not so much, and one was a mage of some kind.
By the time I found myself back in Cyrodiil it was late in the morning, but I still had enough time to get to Skingrad before dark. So naturally I came upon a second Gate only a few minutes ride past the one I had just closed.
This Gate led me to the small world with the two towers that each held a lock at the top of them, which unlocked a bridge to the main tower where the Sigil stone was held. It was not as heavily guarded as the first Gate was, but I did encounter my first Flame Atronach in many years within this Gate.
Unfortunately it was late into the evening when I left the second Gate, much too late to ride to Skingrad, especially if there were even more Gates ahead of me. So I have returned to Chorrol with the hope that I will be able to be in Skingrad tomorrow and close its Gate.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Oblivion Day 26 - Counter-Assault on Oblivion, Part 1

22 Heartfire, 3E433

"Modern Heretics" was less helpful than I had been hoping for. It did provide the location of Azura's shrine, but neglected the other Princes save for the advice to ask wandering woodsman if they knew of a shrine's location. At any rate, I think I am not yet ready to curry the favor of a Daedric Prince, but I certainly am ready to thwart the attempts of one to conquer the province.

While leaving Bruma I happened to find a Daedric shrine of my own, this one dedicated to Namira. What little I know of Namira is that she is known as the 'Lady of Decay' and is associated with bugs and beggars. Something like that. She found no worship in Morrowind that I can remember, but she appears more popular in Cyrodiil, with three worshipers tending to the shrine as I approached.
They were a curt, unfriendly bunch and I did not bother to ask them about their shrine or any others. Continuing towards Chorrol I stopped along the road to speak with an Imperial soldier who angrily declared that his post was patrolling the roads and not assaulting the Gates that each city now warily boasted. I assured him that I was going to Chorrol with the intention of entering the city's Gate and closing it and he wished me luck before continuing on what likely seemed like a pointless task. Still, there are many who depend on the roads and keeping them safe is no small feat, even if it seems like that is not successfully being done any longer.

Chorrol's Gate was conveniently wedged inside of a ruined tower just outside of the city, but no Daedra were wandering outside of it as I expected. Perhaps the guards or other adventurers had already taken care of them. Unhindered, I stepped through the gate, confident that I would find nothing unusual beyond it.

I did not. This gate sent me to the larger of the Oblivion planes with numerous gates that needed a visit to each of the small towers in order to open. Once the gates were open I gained entrance to the larger tower, fought my way to the top, and claimed another Stone, closing the gate. The garrisons are definitely getting more difficult. This gate hosted Scamps far larger than the ones I have been facing so far as well as Clannfear and Dremora much more impressively armed. Still, I had no great difficulty, but I fear it will only become increasingly difficult as my enemy's desperation or confidence grows.
Everyone I spoke with in Chorrol thanked me to an almost embarrassing amount for closing the Gate. The guards were especially shameless in their thanks, for it almost fell on them to descend into the Gate. Inexperienced as they are, I do not think they would have met with success. I accepted Seed-Neeus's offer of a few techniques for better bartering and spent three hours under her instruction learning these "few" techniques. 

I have since retired to the Mages Guild, well after everyone else has gone to sleep. Tomorrow I shall be resuming my journey around the entire province (for a second time!), but at least I can console myself that my reason now is less self-serving.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Oblivion Day 25 - Delivering the Mysterium Xarxes

21 Heartfire, 3E433
Cloud Ruler Temple

Things continue to escalate, seemingly out of control. My discovery yesterday of the Mythic Dawn's secret hide-away and the knowledge that my battle will have to continue into a third Realm outside of my own and Oblivion has already been over-shadowed by today's revelations, but I have no other course but forwards.

My first stop this morning was the Oblivion gate I found last night. It was a small Plane with the two small towers and the single large one and I anticipated a quick closure.
What I did not anticipate was the failure of my blade. While fighting my way through the second small tower the blade became detached from the hilt, making it utterly useless. Fortunately the Scamp I had been fighting broke my blade when I delivered the fatal blow, so I was able to sweep up the pieces and secure them in my satchel, hoping to have it repaired later. 

But this left me in a quandary, for now I had no weapon at all. I wound up nervously improvising with a mace I back-tracked to which had belonged to a Dremora I had slain. Fighting with a mace was not by choice, but it was still better than fighting with my bare claws.

It also almost led to my death. The Enemy has definitely been bolstering his Oblivion garrisons, for not only have I fought more Clannfear today, but I fought with and defeated what must be a higher ranking Dremora clad in armor I have never seen before.
Desperation lent me strength and I brutally bludgeoned the Dremora to death, taking several blows of my own in the process. If I had been unarmed I would not have survived and I claimed the Plane's stone in no condition to venture into another Gate so far armed. Naturally I rode past another Gate while riding to Bruma and noted this one down in my map as well for later attention.
The greenery of Cyrodiil gradually gave way to the grey of the mountains as I got closer to Bruma and I was relieved to arrive without finding any more Oblivion gates spewing evil into the land. Most of the day was already gone by then, but I had business in Bruma that could not wait, the first being my equipment. I stopped by the local blacksmith and negotiated the purchase of a well-made steel long blade and backup dagger in exchange for my broken short sword and two hundred Septims. The short blade was enchanted, but quite simply it was just too short for my comfort and I greatly appreciate the greater length of the blade I am wielding now after the desperate fighting with my mace.

As I left the shop a man came running up to me and announced himself as Tolgan, herald to Countess Narina of Bruma. He extravagantly exclaimed that the Countess had requested my presence at the earliest convenience. I had time, so I detoured to the castle to find out what she was going to request of me.
The Countess of Bruma is a collector of Akaviri relics and boasted one of the most complete collections in Cyrodiil, except for one artifact, the Draconian Madstone. I had never heard of such a thing before today and the Countess explained that it was a stone talisman that would protect the wearer from poisons when worn like an amulet. Through her sources, she learned that the Madstone was at some ruins beyond the trail leading north into the mountains that I am actually familiar with. Should I succeed in retrieving the Draconian Madstone I will receive an Akaviri relic of some use. It sounds like an interesting diversion and one I will be sure to take up soon.

I was stopped by Jauffre as soon as I ascended the steps towards the fortress. He immediately pointed out that I did not have the Amulet of Kings upon me, but I soothed his worry by presenting my stolen Mysterium Xarxes. It was not what he had been hoping for, but Jauffre recognized the evil book as a possible weapon against Mehrunes Dagon and hurried me on to Martin.

Martin was still busily studying his books when I walked into the Great Hall but jumped out of his chair when I proceeded to withdraw the Mysterium Xarxes from my bag. He exclaimed that just handling the book was dangerous and was relieved to see that I had not been so stupid as to try reading it, for I would have gone insane instantly, at least according to him.
Martin was confident that he would be able to safely read the book and hoped to find a way to use it to open a portal of his own to Camoran's hiding place and therefore the Amulet of Kings. While he settled back down to his studies he asked that I speak to Jauffre about two suspicious people that had been seen prowling about the road for the past several nights.

Jauffre suspected that the individuals were Mythic Dawn spies sent to probe the Cloud Ruler Temple for weaknesses. This was doubly alarming, for it meant that they obviously knew of the heir's existence and location and I was tasked with eliminating this potential leak of information. So I set a trap of my own: the two always stopped at a painted stone along the road and I decided to wait for them there. If they proved themselves to be agents of the cult, then I hoped my sudden assault would kill the both of them without much warning.

Springing my trap required that I remain near the stone motionless, in the cold, for several hours. It was a very boring thing, but it paid off. As dusk approached I heard the sound of at least two people walking up the path towards me and the Temple. A Dunmer and Redguard came into view, stopped at the Stone, and began talking about my raid on the Mythic Dawn cavern! Clearly these two were the spies I had been waiting for and I sprung from my hiding place in the bushes and charged at them, long sword at the ready. I caught them completely unawares.
On each body was a key with a tag labeled 'Basement'. Somewhere in Bruma there was a Mythic Dawn base and I guessed the Captain of the Guard would be the best person to approach regarding the matter.

The first thing he said to me proved a shock: Oblivion Gates had opened outside each city! I thought the one outside of Leyawiin to be a fluke, but apparently the other cities are now suffering the same proximity, necessitating perhaps a journey identical to the one I committed to while trying to gain access into the Arcane University.

The second thing said was relevant to my current issue. He identified one of the spies as a citizen named 'Jearl' and authorized me to search her home for further evidence of her involvement with the Mythic Dawn cult. Like all good villains the evidence was found in the basement.
On a desk was a scroll from someone in the Mythic Dawn congratulating Jearl on her success in opening a gate outside of Chorrol and instructing her to move to Bruma in order to spy on the Cloud Ruler Temple so that the Blades could be eliminated for good. The letter talked about something called a 'Great Gate' which was talked of at a higher priority than three of what I assume are "lesser" gates. My own suspicion was confirmed when I read that the smaller gates are easily opened and re-opened after their closing, making my quest to eliminate the gates just as important as it apparently is futile. Amusingly, the letter closed with a warning not to engage the agent responsible for Martin's escape from Kvatch, as this person is "...not to be trifled with." Indeed!

Jauffre was predictably pleased with their deaths and even more-so by the acquisition of the Enemy's plans, at least part of them. Martin had already made progress with the Mysterium Xarxes and had discovered that four elements are needed to open a portal to Oblivion, one of which he was able to identify as "blood of a Daedric lord". He interpreted this to mean that a Daedric artifact would be required for the ritual and asked that I simply go out and get him one.

These artifacts are not found easily, nor granted lightly. Only service to a Daedric Prince can result in these gifts and according to the histories the artifacts never seem to stay with one person for very long. Martin referred me to the "Modern Heretics" in the Temple's library to aid me in my acquisition of such a thing. But it was too late for reading and I visited the west wing of the Temple so that I might find some place to sleep instead.

Tomorrow I need to review my plans. Gates right outside each city is a drastic threat, but claiming a Daedric artifact may be the only way to really stop this invasion. I am torn between two priorities and I wish there were somehow two of me to attend to everything. Three or more would be better. I can only take things a day at a time the best I can and hope that everything I do aids, in some way, against the forces of Oblivion.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Oblivion Day 24 - Undercover Cultist

20 Heartfire, 3E433

Tar-Meena was good on her word. The next morning I found her back in the University library, poring over the copies she had made of the first two volumes. She suspected the first letter of each paragraph, which was larger and stylized, was significant, but did not have anything more than that for today.

But it was enough for me. It was so simple that I am embarrassed to admit that I did not think of it first. Each of the letters in each paragraph of each volume combined to spell out "Green Emperor Way Where Tower Touches Midday Sun". I thought this was telling me the location of the Mythic Dawn, but it did not. I had quite some time until midday, so I futilely spoke to the other students at the University about finding someone willing to train with Illusion magic, but my questioning turned up nobody.

At midday I walked to the Green Emperor Way plaza which doubled as the city's graveyard. The clue did not give any hint as to what I was looking for exactly, so I walked along the graveyard examining the headstones. My thought was that one of them was a fake and would serve as a switch to some secret underground staircase or something, but things were not to be that simple.

What I found was a hidden map on the tomb of the unfortunate Prince Camarril, glowing red with the symbol of the Mythic Dawn.
The map depicted a much-shrunken Cyrodiil with a marker set over a small lake near Cheydinhal. This is the clue that prospective cultists clever enough to decipher the "hidden" meaning of the 'Commentaries' received, so I was obviously meant to go where ever the marker was depicting. I knew of nothing notable in the location it pointed me to, so I guessed my destination was a ruin or ex-mine of some kind.

Thanks to my trusting horse I made it to the lake before the sun set and went about finding an entrance to the Mythic Dawn's hidden site. Soon enough I came upon a very old door set against the hill side and cautiously crept in, aware that there could be dozens of cultists if I was in the right place.

They were a great deal more confident than they should have been. Only one guard was posted at the front door and he let me in without a blink, self-assured that I was a loyal worshiper of Mehrunes Dagon. Once inside I was greeted by Harrow, a Dunmer who described himself as the Warden of the shrine which lay deeper inside. He insisted I leave all my equipment with him and not wanting to ruin my seemingly perfect cover, I agreed, throwing all of my sacks, satchels, and equipment into a huge bag he had been carrying around. In return I was given an ill-fitting Mythic Dawn robe and told to follow.

Mankar Camoran himself was in attendance at the shrine and Harrow whispered as we approached that I would be given the honor of being inducted into the Mythic Dawn by the Master himself.
Alas, the honor was not to be mine. As soon as he was done with whatever speech he was giving a small portal opened behind him, looking very much like the Oblivion Gates I have been closing. He stepped through the portal and it disappeared, taking the Amulet of Kings with him. Clearly the man was favored by Mehrunes Dagon and therefore is not one to be underestimated.
I could not go back to the Blades empty-handed, so I designated a secondary target: the Mythic Dawn's holiest book: the Mysterium Xarxes, said to be penned by Mehrunes Dagon himself. To attempt to read it was to court madness, yet Mankar had read it and from the book wrote his 'Commentaries', forming the Mythic Dawn as it is today. Perhaps if the Blades had the Daedric volume someone could use it to track down the Amulet of Kings. I have to hope something is possible for us to succeed. 

The cultist next to me died without knowing what had happened, his throat torn open by my inexpert swipe of claw. The next closest started to react and died just as messily. But I only got two free kills and the remaining cultists yelled and started to swarm me. As luck would have it Harrow was at the head of the assault. The man had no skill in melee and foolishly attempted to wield my own blade against me. He was quickly disarmed and impaled, quite a sudden reversal of fortune. 

Armed with something familiar I made short work of the remaining four cultists and only then realized I was still not alone. An Argonian lay on a slab underneath a large statue of the Daedric Prince and I quickly cut his bonds. As soon as he was able he leaped off of the slab and ran out of the room, ignoring my warning about more cultists possibly lying in wait ahead of us.

I grabbed the ordinary-looking book and ran after him through more corridors and rooms, pausing twice to duel with cultists desperate to curry their Master's favor by slaying me.
The Argonian was nervously waiting outside of the cavern for me. He introduced himself as Jeelius and thanked me profusely for saving his life. He is a priest in the Temple of the One in the Imperial City, so I will have to visit him once I am back in the capital. But it was too late in the night to ride back there today, so I left him to his determined journey and turned my horse towards Cheydinhal. On my way I came upon a sign of Mehrunes Dagon's displeasure: another gate to Oblivion and I marked it on my map for later attention.

Tonight I am staying at the Newlands Lodge and tomorrow I shall close the Oblivion gate on my way back to Bruma, for Martin will surely be interested in the book I managed to recover. I can only hope that it is enough to make up for the temporary loss of the Amulet of Kings.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Oblivion Day 23 - The Mythic Dawn

19 Heartfire, 3E433
Imperial City, Arcane University

My morning ride from Bruma to the Imperial City should have been my victory march, but naturally an Oblivion Gate had opened right next to the road during the night.
They are getting more dangerous to venture into since the past couple of days. Whereas I used to be able to step through a gate confident of facing nothing worse than a bunch of irritated Scamps, I now have to contend with far more Dremora than before as well as Clannfear daedra. I have yet to have an encounter that I have had to flee from, but I must ensure my skills improve alongside the Gates' garrisons.
Of particular note is a steel breastplate I found in the Gate's tower. It is enchanted with a minor shield spell that will protect the wearer from the blows of ordinary weapons, though I cannot tell how much protection the breastplate has upon it. Whatever it is, armor enchanted as such is very rare and valuable and I considered it a welcome burden to strap the thing against my back as I wobbled through the rest of the Oblivion Plane.

Anticipating such a delay, I left Bruma very early in the morning and arrived back at the Imperial City just as it was beginning to rise from its slumber.
My entry into the University was an anti-climatic affair. After days of riding to and fro seeking all the recommendations, all I got was a key, a half-hearted congratulations, and an inquiry as to whether I was seeking to perform more duties for the Mages Guild. I am not. I performed the tasks requested of me so that I could find out what the stones are and I have already accomplished that.

Though not on my own. An Argonian mage named Tar-Meena is something of an expert on all things Daedric and identified the stones as Sigil Stones, powerful containers of magicka that bind the Oblivion pocket planes together. As I remove them, the planes and their gates collaspe, but the magicka still remains. Each stone can be coaxed to to lend its power to a piece of equipment, whether it be weapon or armor, but the resulting enchantment will not be of my choice. Should I have any free time in the future I will be sure to experiment with them.

While I was examining the stones a mage came up to me to let me know a courier was waiting on the public side of the University with a message for me. The message was quite short: "Go to Luther Broad's Boarding House and order a drink."
I was not surprised to see Baurus also sitting at the bar. I sat down and ordered my drink and he hissed at me to sit down and not say anything...which I was not anyway. He said that he was going to go to the basement in a moment and that the man in the corner reading a book would follow him. I was to follow the man and see what he does. Once the man disappeared behind the basement door I sneaked behind him, certain of what would happen next.

Predictably the man drew a dagger once he thought he was alone with Baurus. I can only imagine his surprise to find the blade of my short sword protruding from the front of his chest. On his body was a book titled 'Mythic Dawn Commentaries, Volume I'. Baurus confirmed that the man was an assassin from the Mythic Dawn, a Mehrunes Dagon cult. This tied in very neatly with my forays into Oblivion, so I had no doubt that he was correct in everything he said. My next move was to go back to Tar-Meena and speak to her about the Mythic Dawn.

She was able to give me a little history on the secretive cult, including the name of its founder, Mankar Camoran, for what little good that did me. He was also the original author of the cult's four volumes of  'Commentaries', which Tar-Meena suspected contained clues as to how to contact the cult. Those who could decipher the 'Commentaries' successfully to find the cult would have then proven themselves at least somewhat intelligent. But that would only be possible if someone had all four volumes. I had one, but Tar-Meena lent me the second volume from the University's library and suggested I visit the 'First Edition' about the third and fourth volumes.

Phintias at the 'First Edition' is easily the most uptight Redguard I have ever dealt with, but he did have a copy of the third volume which was already paid for by someone else. I was able to persuade him to part with it nonetheless, then patiently waited in his store for the interested party to arrive. I was expecting a would-be cultist, but I received a scholar instead. When I confronted him about his interest in the cult and their part in the Emperor's murder he caved and swore he did not know they had committed such a crime.

He revealed that the cult had contacted him via a letter and set up a meeting, likely to induct him into the cult...or kill him, I suppose. The letter told him to go to a location in the city's sewers where a table and chair were waiting. With this information and books in hand I returned to Baurus.

The Blades frequented the sewers as a clandestine way of moving about the city and Baurus was familiar with the table and chair in question, having always wondered who had put them there and why. We made our way through the sewers, fighting off the occasional goblin or rat until he stopped and directed me up a stairway, where, according to him, I would be able to see and hear everything that occurred between him and the Mythic Dawn representative.

This was not a meeting, but an ambush. As I listened to the representative drone on about the glories of Mehrunes Dagon, two more Mythic Dawn cultists crept up the stairs right in front of me, apparently unaware that I was watching them. I charged just as they opened the gate separating us, heaving one of them off our platform and into the meeting below, ending it rather suddenly. The remaining cultist in front of me cast a spell that armored him in the same equipment I saw during the Emperor's murder, but he was not skilled in its use. While Baurus finished gutting his cultist, I slashed mine across the throat, sending him tumbling down into the room below. On Baurus's contact we found the fourth volume of the 'Commentaries'.

Having acquired all four books, Baurus felt that I could handle things from there, declaring that his place was at Martin Septim's side. I continued along the sewers, mysteriously ascending a ladder into someone's basement. Fortunately, no one was home and I slipped out with no one the wiser.

Tar-Meena would both be interested and helpful in deciphering whatever mystery lay within the books, so I brought the volumes to her and she agreed to study them, asking that I come back tomorrow to discuss anything she might have found. This was acceptable by me, for it was already late in the evening and I was too tired to put my own mind to the books. Hopefully she will have something for me tomorrow, else I am sure I can figure out whatever lies within the books, for the cultists I have fought so far have not demonstrated a great deal of intelligence.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Oblivion Day 22 - A Simple Joke

18 Heartfire, 3E433

It feels somehow fitting that my personal quest to gain entry into the University should be completed on such a pointless, ridiculous note. The Guild was still asleep when I called upon it early in the morning, leaving me with nothing to do but examine the Hall for clues as to what would be required of my recommendation here. I found nothing unusual to indicate what would be expected of me, but that's only due to not knowing how incompetent Bruma's guildmaster was.

Her name is Jeanne Frasoric, a Nord who owes her position due to her sociability rather than her ability. The other members see her as something of a joke and it is common knowledge throughout the guild that she still relies on a basic manual to cast even the simplest of spells. Not that it concerns me at all, I just needed her to write a recommendation so that I could move on. But the lack of respect the Guild has for her would influence what my task would be.

The task sounded similar to Skingrad's: find a missing mage, J'skar, before anyone outside of the guild (somehow...) realized that Jeanne could not keep track of her own people. The guild boasted the smallest roster of individuals of any of the guilds, so asking around did not take long. The Altmer Volanaro agreed to help me if I would first help him play a prank on Jeanne. All I had to do to find J'skar was to fetch Jeanne's Manual of Spellcraft from her desk and deliver it to Volanaro. He taught me an Alteration spell to unlock simple locks, but it was beyond my capability to cast, simple though it was. My only skill lies in Illusion magic, but a Khajiit with a lockpick is better than any spell. I sneaked into Jeanne's room, picked the lock on her desk, pocketed the volume, and was back in front of Volanaro with no one else the wiser.

For his part Volanaro told me to come back at ten o'clock at night to find out where J'skar was, which irritated me a little bit, but if all I had to do to gain my recommendation was to wait, then that was fine. It did provide me with the question of what I was to do with the rest of the day though. No one at the Guild was interested in teaching me anything and none of them had any Illusion spells to purchase, so I left the Hall and wandered out of town.

My vague plan was to mount up and ride east into the wilderness in an effort to find an Oblivion gate to close. I have been finding so many of them lately that it seemed that if I picked a direction and rode long enough I would find one. That turned out to be completely true, though after a great deal of riding.
The gate led me nowhere new, though I found myself facing a great deal of Dremora and Clannfear in place of the Scamps I have grown accustomed to. Nevertheless, I closed the gate without much difficulty, as is usual.

Near the expired gate lies an ornate tower, but when I approached I found it to be completely abandoned. I wonder who resided there.
I wandered around a bit more looking for more Gates, but found none. When the sun started to dip below the horizon I judged it late enough to head back to Bruma in time to solve the mystery of J'skar.

It was not much of a mystery. I arrived back at the Guild at about half past ten and Volanaro was true to his word. He bade me wait in the living quarters for a few minutes, then returned, apparently alone. But with a single incantation the Khajiit J'skar popped into existence next to him, having been invisible the entire day. This was their strange idea of a joke.

Funny or not, my work was done and I was able to report to Jeanne that I had located her missing Khajiit. She was not at all interested to hear what had happened to him and assured me that my recommendation was practically on its way already, adding that she hoped I would remember her in the future. 

And with that I am done with my required recommendations. Tomorrow I shall ride back to the Imperial City and hopefully find my way into the University unbarred. Then I can find out what these stones are and maybe pick up some Illusion spells as well. Once I am more skilled in combat and magic I can once again pick up with the Blades and fight off these increasingly threatening invasion.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Oblivion Day 21 - A Most Disagreeable Fellow

17 Heartfire, 3E433

It was inevitable that I would eventually run into someone at the Mages Guild like Falcar. While the other guildmasters have been at least begrudgingly accepting of my desire for their recommendation, Falcar acted downright hostile.

I presented myself to the Guild well after everyone was awake and breakfasted, but it had done little to improve Falcar's mood, for the first thing he said to me was, "Don't tell me you're here for a recommendation". Well, I was! He invited me to travel to the Imperial City and attempt entry into the University without all my recommendations just to get used to the feeling of rejection...something which I am not sure why he felt I needed. Tellingly, he said that the Guild was still powerful overall, but that "recent decisions" had weakened it, possibly killed it. I assumed he was talking of the ban on Necromancy, but at the time had no idea why he would feel the Guild was dead as a result of it.

His task was deceptively simple: retrieve a ring of Burden from an old well behind the Guild where a previous and disappeared Associate had misplaced it. The well was locked and an Argonian named Deetsan at the Guild possessed the key.

When I approached Deetsan she was upset to hear that I had been given the same task as the missing Associate, Vidkun and asked to speak with my privately. This was difficult owing to the Hall's construction of two simple open floors. Eventually Falcar left the Hall on personal business and Deetsan was free to tell me the real story of Vidkun.

Deetsan's suspected that Vidkun's disappearance shortly after being given Falcar's task was not a coincidence and that Falcar was seeking to have me disappear in the same way, though this was all just a feeling on her part. She gave me the key and hissed at me to be very careful around Falcar. He still had not returned, so I quickly left the guild and made way around the building and into the well.

Swimming is never a fun thing when you are covered with fur, but I had a much better time of it than the unfortunate Vidkun.
The poor man had apparently retrieved the ring of Burden only to find that he was entirely too burdened to swim any longer. Perhaps he could not get the ring off in time or thought himself a better swimmer than he was, whatever the case, he met his death in the abandoned well behind the guildhall. It is possible I may have met a similar fate if it were not for Deetsan's gift of two potions of Buoyancy, which gave me an almost Argonian ability to swim, albeit for a short period of time.

But when I returned I found that Deetsan had taken matters into her own hands and confronted Falcar with her suspicions surrounding Vidkun's death and my strange assignment. According to her, the man flew into a rage and stormed out of the guild, promising that the hall's days were numbered. Deetsan's intuition was telling her that something else was amiss besides murderous recommendations and requested that I look around his room for anything out of the ordinary, as well as to see if he actually wrote the recommendation, which I doubted.

My doubt was correct, he did not write anything, but the Argonian's crafty mind was also correct: my searching produced two Black soul gems buried underneath a pile of linen in one of his cabinets. These soul gems can trap the souls of actual people and are highly illegal to possess and a warrant of instant death should someone use one. I returned immediately to Deetsan with my (fortunately unused) evidence.

Deetsan is made of sterner stuff than Falcar gave her credit for. Confronted with evidence of her guildmate's illegal activities, she wasted no time in summoning a courier and writing a report to the council, including both the soul gems and my recommendation with it. I do have a feeling Falcar will never be seen again and that Deetsan had just secured herself a promotion within the Guild, deservedly. 

I had no business left in Cheydinhal, so I left the town, mounted my horse, and eagerly started my way towards the last guildhall I have to visit before I can enter the University. En-route I was half-heartedly ambushed by a bandit duo, one who was wielding a bow whose arrows froze anything they came into contact with. It was a minor enchantment, but I took it with my out of a sort of curiosity. I wonder where or on who he found the weapon.
They might have put themselves to better use had they simply walked further down the road.
A Gate in the wilderness, I can come back to that. A Gate right on the side of the road, I cannot pass by. I expected the usual collection of Scamps sulking about and was surprised to hear the screech of a Clannfear as one charged out of the gate at me.
It is nice to have some variety to one's opponents and I fought enough of them while in Morrowind to not have any trouble with this one, even given the skills that have lapsed since my last adventure. The gate itself led to a world I am becoming very familiar with: the one with the many towers, each opening a gate which allows me entrance to the main tower and eventually the pocket plane's Stone.

The Stone I received is larger than the others and has cracks along the surface which glow, unlike the smaller stones that have no glow at all. It is interesting and I am looking forward to hearing a learned opinion on these things.

The rest of my journey passed quickly and I arrived in Bruma well after the sun had set, giving me no time to visit the Guild today. Tomorrow I will finally be done with my province-spanning journey and can gain access into the University...ironic, for I am hardly a spell-caster of great skill and with only a few Illusion spells of dubious use at my command. Perhaps my entry into the University can be a first step towards changing that.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Oblivion Day 20 - The Harrowing Ride to Cheydinhal

16 Heartfire, 3E433

My stop at Bravil proved fruitful: I left the guild with three Illusion spells to try out during the long trip to Cheydinhal, one to send my enemies into a senseless rage, another to make myself seem charming, and a third to simply allow me to see in the dark, though my Khajiit eyes do that well enough already. It is however the easier spell of the three and I bought it solely to practice my spell-casting with.

Before starting for Cheydinhal there was the small matter of the Oblivion gate I had found yesterday between Bravil and Leyawiin. I woke early to give myself enough time to close the gate and still arrive at Cheydinhal. While leaving Bravil I noticed a small island in the bay that had a stone on it that strongly resembled a head. Perhaps it is a shrine of some sort, but it is not of any interest to me, at least right now.
The gate was identical to one I had already closed: three towers, two small and one large. Entering one small tower enabled passageway into the second small tower, which in turn led into the large one and the Oblivion Stone. The Dremora seem to be increasing in numbers and the Scamps are decreasing, but I do not yet know if this is a sign of a permanent change or not.

After closing that gate I turned around and started towards Cheydinhal, expecting a very long trip. On my way I passed two Oblivion gates in close succession, each just off of the road leading to the crossroads to the Imperial City or Cheydinhal.

I was not even halfway done with my ride to the city, so I marked them on my map for later attention. As a result of their proximity and my temporary ignorance of them, I spent quite some time under a very ugly, very red sky which appeared to not bother any of the three bandits whom tried to kill me for my horse.
Other than their poor attempts at murder and horse-thievery I had no trouble during the ride, but still arrived at the gates of Cheydinhal just before midnight, having been distracted by the closing of the first gate, the discovery of the other two, and combat with three desperate individuals.

I took a room at the nearest Inn and will be presenting myself to the local Guild tomorrow. All I have left after this is Bruma, then I should finally have access to the knowledge of the University to better understand the nature of the enemy I am continually facing.