Monday, August 31, 2015

Oblivion Day 37 - A Place of My Own

4 Frost Fall, 3E433

Today I decided to pursue the Countess's Madstone rather than the Amulet of Kings. This would seem somewhat counter-productive against the difficulties I have been facing as of late, but with Bruma likely being the next target of Mehrunes Dagon's violent attentions I feel that improving my place there is a worthwhile goal.

The Countess made it sound like the Madstone was hidden in a place rather far away, but following the Akaviri messenger's diary provided me a ride to a cave system no more than twenty minutes from the city. I had only to go to a rock formation known as the 'Dragonclaw Rock', turn west until I came upon a statue of a King long since passed, then north until the cavern's ornate carved door.
I was unpleasantly surprised to find that a tribe of Ogres had taken up residence in the cave and the pass beyond it. An Ogre would likely squash any Auxiliary flat, unless she was quick on her feet and experienced in fighting Ogrims, albeit years ago. I have to say fighting the brutes made me long for my spear of times gone by, but spears have since been removed from the Imperial Legion's list of arms and thus are nearly impossible to find in Cyrodiil. I had to do what I could with my short Elven blade and I did it well, carving through half a dozen Ogres on my way through the cave and into the Pale Pass.

While busy with my bloody business I came across a skeleton whose bony hand was still clutching a packet the cold had preserved. I recognized the writing as Akavir, though of course I could not read it. I took it anyway, hoping to later sell it to a collector interesting in antiquity. Just ahead of the corpse was a door leading to the secluded Pale Pass...and more Ogres.
A bow would have been handy, but I had sold my own off some time ago and was forced to close in and engage the Ogres with my short blade, a dicey proposition at best. I eventually stood victorious and battered within the ruined fort hidden in the Pale Pass after dispatching nearly a dozen Ogres.
For some nefarious reason the fort's ancient garrison still patrolled the halls, the skeletons of the ancient Akavir soldiers wielding rusted shields and swords resembling katanas. Their advanced age did little to help their endurance and what remained of their bodies were soon reduced to splinters.

Deeper inside waited the fort's commander, long dead but still bound to the place by an unshakable sense of duty.
Somehow he mistook a Khajiit for a fellow Akavir and asked if I had brought news from his homeland. Risking a guess, I handed him the leather packet I found on the skeleton and waited to see if I was to do battle with the confused spirit. But when he read the papers his semi-transparent visage broke into a smile and he congratulated me on completing my mission. With that, he declared that he could now rest and then simply disappeared altogether. I suppose stranger things have happened.

I had yet to find the Madstone, but the fort's guardians had been put to rest along with their commander and I passed several piles of bones and equipment as I made my way further into the fortress. The Madstone was on a pedestal in a crumbling room, with nothing to indicate why it was in the Pale Pass to begin with. Perhaps an heirloom of the fort's commander?

The Countess was very excited to receive the Madstone, describing it as even more beautiful than she imagined it would be. To me it appeared to be a large piece of jade inserted into a gold amulet, but she was enamored with the amulet and gave me a rather worthless ring as a reward. She also mentioned that he had a house she was willing to adventurous people such as myself and after some negotiation we settled on a price of ten thousand Septims. The house was unfurnished, but I was informed that a local merchant would have everything I need at reasonable prices.

My new home is in an excellent location, at least for me: right next to the main gate. It was as sparsely furnished as I was warned, with only a simple table, one chair, and a bed.

A quick trip to the local outfitter, a few hours carrying furniture, and I had something approaching a comfortable home.
And with that I finally had a place of my own. The location will likely prove very useful in the times ahead. Tomorrow I will undertake the acquisition of Tiber Septim's ancient armor and be one step closer to recovering the Amulet of Kings.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Oblivion Day 36 - Counter-Assault on Oblivion, Finale

3 Frost Fall, 3E433

I set out for Bruma after a short nap, riding past the Imperial City through the seemingly ever-present rain. I suppose it is better than blood-red clouds and lightning, but I do not think a simple sunny day is too much to ask for.
A group of well-armed bandits accosted me outside of a ruin not far from Cheydinhal, each of them wielding Dwemer blades and wear Dwemer armor. Where they got these things is a mystery, but they were not well practiced in the use of their equipment and proved easier foes than I anticipated. Perhaps they had hoped to appear intimidating enough to avoid having to use their apparently new-found equipment, but a Khajiit who regularly fights her way through Oblivion needs more than a few extravagantly attired thugs to give herself pause.

The wet greenery of the forest gradually gave way to the wet grey of the northern mountain region as I approached Bruma. Given my nap and the melee with the trio of bandits, it was well into the evening when I dismounted before the gates of the Cloud Ruler Temple. I wasted no time in finding Martin, who seemed to have not stirred from his books since the last time I spoke with him.
He looked up as I approached, a rare smile stretching across his face. Excited, he told me that he had deciphered the second ingredient required for him to open a portal to Camoran's so-called Paradise: the blood of a Divine. Jauffre solved the mystery of where to find such a thing, suggesting that the blood of Tiber Septim himself, who became one of the Divines, might be acquirable. The secret to doing that lay with Jauffre himself and Martin asked me to talk with him.

Martin accepted my gift of Daedric artifact Spellbreaker with some surprise, stating that many would not give up such a useful thing. When I pointed out that it weighed more than the armor I was wearing, he laughed and conceded that usefulness is very much in the eye of the wielder. He had nothing more for me to do and asked again that I speak with Jauffre about two problems that needed solving.

The first problem was the blood of Tiber Septim, which Martin and I had briefly talked about. Jauffre provided me a key to a hidden catacomb known as 'Sancre Tor' where the armor of Tiber Septim was enshrined. Formerly a holy place, it became cursed with an evil presence a long  time ago and no one had returned from visiting there in many years. My task, of course, is to visit the catacomb, find the armor, not die, and return with the blood of the Divine Tiber Septim. But that had to wait in lieu of completing a second task, first.

The second problem was the expected (by me) opening of an Oblivion Gate outside of the city. Jauffre's request for this issue was a little different though: he did not want me to merely enter the Gate and close it, instead he wanted me to lead a contingent of city guards into Oblivion so that they might learn how to close the Gates themselves. 

I certainly would welcome a little show of self-sufficiency in the Oblivion matter, but I am no leader of soldiers and rode back to the town with no small measure of trepidation. Fortunately the Captain of the Guard, Captain Burd, was tasked with the actual leadership role. I was to be a sort of armed adviser as he led his men through Oblivion, a role I was perfectly happy to take.
I was also happy to have four other men at my back, for this particular plane of Oblivion was the most difficult one I have yet faced. Outside of the Sigil Tower wandered a dozen Flame Atronachs and inside were more Dremora than I ever hope to see in one place. The battle inside the Sigil Stone's chamber was frantic and bloody, us five against seven Dremora and one summoned Daedroth, a foe I have not seen in many years. Captain Burd had accounted for one Dremora before the Daedroth was summoned and quickly hacked the beast's head off with his two-handed sword.

Sadly, we suffered our only casualty as this was happening to a surprise attack from behind by a Dremora. The mace's blow caved in the guard's helmet and he died instantly. For whatever reason, the Dremora then charged past me to engage the Captain, leaving me open to drive my short blade into its back, ending its life just as it ended the poor man's.
We quickly dispatched the remaining Dremora and I took the Captain with me to steal the Sigil Stone from its pedestal. 

The two guards that Captain Burd had stationed outside the Gate had been busy, the corpses of Clannfear and Atronachs lay scattered about when we emerged from the closed Gate. Apparently I have somewhat underestimated the guardsmen prowess, but perhaps the guards of Bruma are made of sterner stuff than elsewhere.

I was informed that it was one in the morning and that a room at 'Olav's Tap and Tack' had been reserved for me courtesy of the City Guard. The ten Septims would not have hurt my purse, but I do appreciate the thought. Tomorrow I have two tasks ahead of me: the acquisition of the blood of Tiber Septim and the finding of the Draconian Madstone. One of these tasks is more important than the other, but I have given my word that both shall be completed.

I suppose this ends my counter-assault strategy on Oblivion. All of the city Gates have been closed and several agents of the Mythic Dawn have been exposed and killed. My priority now is to gain entrance to this Paradise of Camoran's and re-secure the Amulet of Kings. I have accomplished much, but there is yet more ahead of me that needs doing.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Oblivion Day 35 - A Fool's Last Stand

2 Frost Fall, 3E433

With four Gates to close today, I skipped on a lot of sleep and left the Imperial Bridge Inn at one in the morning. My record until today was two Gates in one day, but I felt confident that four was possible if my equipment lasted.

It has been long since a single Gate is worth much of a mention and like the House Dagoth strongholds of years ago, familiarity bred contempt and I can only see the Oblivion Gates as one might see a particularly loathsome, but not difficult, chore. My early start meant that I was able to clear all four Gates along the road to Cheydinhal by nightfall and reached the city by moonlight anticipating a pleasant rest. But a fifth Gate awaited me there, this one with a story.

The Gate was Cheydinhal's own and Cheydinhal's own had gone into the Gate in an attempt to close it. The son of Count Andel Indarys ventured into the Gate alongside his personal warriors known as the 'Knights of the Thorn'. The city guard had set up a barricade around the Gate while they waited for the Count's son, Farwil, and his Knights to return. But they had entered the Gate days ago and nothing, neither man nor Daedra, had come back out. The guardsmen were content to stay outside and ensure no Daedra attacked the city, but it was up to someone else to close the Gate and find the Count's son. 

Naturally this task fell upon me.
I spoke with one of the guards before entering the Gate. His opinion of the so-called Knights was not high, for they spent most of their time at the Inn drinking and telling each other increasingly outlandish stories of their exploits as the drink took hold. Actual work such as patrolling the city or the surrounding wilderness fell to the city guard alone. The guard suspected that Farwil and his men died days ago in Oblivion, but I promised to do my best to get them out should I find anyone alive.

My first steps into Oblivion did not lend any encouragement.
The Knight had fallen just inside the Gate, his woefully inadequate steel armor rent by claw marks, probably Clannfear. Further ahead I came upon two more bodies, both freshly killed, more of Farwil's Knights of the Thorn. The complete lack of Daedra corpses did not bode well for the Knights I had yet to find.

Interestingly, the Gate had led me to an area of Oblivion that I have never been in before. This area was dominated by a massive keep built atop a lake of lava. It was an impressive sight.
Farwil was considerably less impressive. Upon seeing me he immediately demanded to know what took me so long and bragged that he and his knights struck against the forces of Oblivion like lightning. He failed to mention the dead he had left behind him on his noble quest and insisted that I follow him onward into the Oblivion keep. He claimed to have personally killed over twenty Daedra, but the lack of even a single Daedra corpse on my way to him made that claim more than a little suspect.

With him was a slightly more level-headed Knight who introduced himself as Bremman Senyan. He was not too proud to admit that he was afraid, but he gamely had stuck with Farwil up until my meeting with them and continued to follow the headstrong youth until the end of this tragic tale. He deserved a better end than what he got.

The only way into the keep was via a stone bridge spanning lava field between the hillside we were on and the keep's entrance. Three Dremora were milling about, guarding the keep and the body of a dead Knight of the Thorn held testament to the battle I was about to face.
I tried to get Farwil and Bremman to wait while I cleared the bridge, but Farwil would have none of that. Wounded though he and his friend was, with a shout of "Huzzah!" he charged down the bridge with his last living Knight following in his wake. I myself was barely able to engage the Dremora before him, but I managed to draw their attention before they noticed Farwil, allowing him and Bremman to strike from behind. The bridge guards were vanquished in short order, which only served to further fuel Farwil's lust for battle.

We fought through our way up the keep, Farwil constantly getting in my way and Bremman always trying to reign his young lord in. Still, the two of them managed to hold their own right up until we reached the Sigil Stone's chamber. Sighting three Flame Atronachs, Farwil, wounded as he was already, charged...and fell to three fireballs he never attempted to dodge.
Bremman wisely stayed behind me as I dispatched the Atronachs and he handed me Farwil's signet ring to bring back to the Count after the battle was over.

After closing the Gate I spoke with the guardsmen again who told me that the Count was requesting my audience personally, no doubt to hear news of his son. Bremman and I parted ways and I headed towards the castle, he alone to the Knights' lodge.

The Count was oddly cheerful for a man who had just lost his son to the forces of Oblivion. He commented that he was sure I tried my best to save him and that he was sure that I had fought at his side before his end. He awarded me a sack of coins for closing the Gate and asked that I keep Farwil's ring as a memoir of his son's fateful battle against the forces of Oblivion. What else could I do but agree?

It is now early in the morning of 3 Frost Fall and I am turning in to bed for a short nap. I wish to be on the road this afternoon towards Bruma to deliver my Daedric artifact to Martin and be one step closer to ending this business with Oblivion.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Oblivion Day 34 - The Lost Souls

1 Frost Fall, 3E433
Imperial Bridge Inn

I found myself in Oblivion once again today, but on an entirely different task than usual. The innkeeper of the Imperial Bridge Inn had mentioned a nearby Daedric shrine, so I decided to visit it on my way back south to close the Oblivion Gates.

The shrine was to Peryite, a Daedric Prince I know little about, but the innkeeper told me that the worshipers there seemed like decent folk, so I hoped it would be a somewhat safer bet with Peryite as opposed to the capricious Nocturnal.

The shrine was easy to find, but as I approached I realized something was very wrong: none of the worshipers were moving! When I got close, I dismounted and realized that all of them appeared to be asleep on their feet. As I approached the shrine looking for some clue as to what happened, a booming voice filled my head.
The Prince's story was a fairly amusing one: his followers managed to separate their souls from their bodies while trying to summon him to them and they were stuck in a state of almost-death. Peryite asked me to travel into Oblivion and rescue his followers' souls so that they might learn the folly of trying to summon a Daedric Prince at their whim. Having a considerable amount of experience with Oblivion I readily agreed.

Peryite's little corner of Oblivion was much the same as I have experienced, only the sky was simply overcast as opposed to oppressive.
Scamps, Clannfear, and two Dremora made up the populace, nothing I am not accustomed to facing. The souls of Peryite's worshipers were each "standing" near an open bonfire, making it easy to see where they were from any elevated location. Once I had rescued all of the wayward souls, the Daedric Prince spoke to me again telling me to return to where I had started. There a blue gate awaited me, assuredly back to the mortal Plane.
My reward was the thanks of the worshipers and a shield from the Daedric Prince. I do not know what it does, but I am hoping it satisfies Martin's requirement for a Daedric artifact.

By the time I was back on this Plane it was later into the evening than I thought it would be, so I have retired back to the Imperial Bridge Inn. Tomorrow I shall close the Oblivion Gates south of me, then proceed to Cheydinhal.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Oblivion Day 33 - Along the Lonesome Road

30 Heartfire, 3E433
Imperial Bridge Inn

My time in Leyawiin was short-lived. I had expected to spend the day tracking down the city's Mythic Dawn agent, but this morning the agent revealed himself for me.
The man was identified as Cingor, a Bosmer with the local Fighter's Guild who styled himself a sort of crime-fighter, patrolling the city himself alongside the city guards. However, when he saw me he yelled that paradise awaited him and unsheathed a war-hammer from his back, charging at me.

Right past two guards.

They yelled at him to stop, but after realizing he was intent on my death, they drew their weapons and dutifully engaged their fellow citizen. With a swordsman at his front and an archer at his back, Cingor stood no chance and fell with two steel arrows planted into his back.
A search of his home revealed the expected "Commentaries" volume of the Mythic Dawn and satisfied that the city was clear of their malevolence I set off for Cheydinhal. 

The road between Leyawiin and Cheydinhal is the longest between any two cities in the province and was not particularly well-traveled during my previous time in the province, people largely preferring to go through Bravil instead. The resulting privacy is well-suited for some folks, Cingor one of them, as I found out, as well as worshipers of Nocturnal whose roadside shrine I passed by. I may visit the shrine tomorrow to see if I can receive a boon from the Daedric Prince.

Further up the road I found an Oblivion Gate, which I closed, but then I found a second one, then a third, then a fourth! Cingor had apparently been busy. It was too late in the day for me to consider closing anything other than the first Gate, so I marked the latter three on my map and will be returning to them at a later date.

I also encountered my first Spriggan since my time on Solstheim years ago and she (it?) was no less a capable opponent as her cousins on that frozen island, but fortunately she came alone and I had no trouble.

After finding  the fourth gate I figured there would be more ahead and that I was just setting myself up for a lot of work come tomorrow by pushing forward to Cheydinhal. Fortunately there is a small Inn along the road halfway between the cities that serves as a good place for me to temporary base myself while I plan on taking on the opened Gates. The innkeeper also informed me that there is a nearby Daedric shrine to Peryite that I may also visit, though I do not know much about Peryite as I do Nocturnal.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Oblivion Day 32 - Interlude for a Doomed Man

29 Heartfire, 3E433

Before leaving Bravil for Leyawiin I owed a woman my attention in finding out what happened to her husband. I had promised Ursanne some time ago that I would investigate the disappearance of her husband, but became caught up in recent events before I could give the matter the attention it needed. The only clue I had to go on was that the man had racked up a large amount of gambling debt and borrowed money from a local Orc, Kurdan Gro-Dagol before disappearing some time later.

Like most of his kind Kurdan was mean-tempered and unfriendly. It took a "gift" of two hundred Septims before he would talk to me about Ursanne's husband Aleron and even then there was a condition I had to first meet. Kurdan told me that I would have to go to a nearby island to retrieve a family heirloom from the depths of the ruined Fort Grief. Kurdan provided a small rowboat for me to use and I wasted no time in getting to the island and off my small, unstable vessel.
But the story about the heirloom was a trick: Aleron was inside the fort, despondent and informed me that he had been tricked the same way, having been told that his debt would be erased in exchange for the heirloom. The fort was really Kurdan's arena, he tricked people into descending into the ruins where they were hunted by perverse noblemen and rich merchants looking to hunt the most elusive game: other people.

Understandably Aleron was reluctant to go into the watchtower, but I was feeling a great deal more confident. Escaping the island was impossible, for the gate out of the tower was locked as soon as I stepped through it, but Aleron suspected that the "hunters" would had keys to freely come and go. Acquiring these keys became my, well, only priority given the situation.
Unfortunately for Kurdan, his so-called hunters were only murderers, not warriors. Against a skilled opponent such as myself they stood little chance. Each of them had on very expensive Mithril armor and one had even been wielding an ancient Elven short blade, but it appears that they valued the equipment more for the status rather than the function, for they were mediocre fighters and each fell quickly, surrendering his key in death.

When I returned to the surface Kurdan was waiting for me, having just finished killing poor Aleron.
He bragged that the deaths of his clients meant little to him, for there were always more rich folk looking to participate in his "game". With that bit of bravado, he pulled the war-hammer from his back and charged.

The battle was made a great deal more difficult by a friend of his who attempted to skewer me with arrows while Kurdan was trying to smash me into the ground. I managed to maneuver us into a corner of the tower where a fallen column afforded me protection from the arrows and the closer confines worked against Kurdan's two-handed weapon. When Kurdan finally fell, the archer dropped his bow, drew an Elvish dagger, and charged much the same as Kurdan did. But the archer was Khajiit and lacked the weapon and body mass required for that charge to be effective. I think I will be keeping the dagger.

Aleron's widow seemed satisfied that at least his murderer had been brought to justice. She gave me a book as a reward, stating that Aleron had always been meaning to sell it, which is likely what I will be doing with it. With that tragic business concluded I set out for Leyawiin and whatever Gates awaited me there.

Only one Gate was waiting for me nestled in the woods across from the city and I had more than enough time in the day to close it, so in I went!
Evidence that I am not the only one assaulting the gates was present in this little pocket of Oblivion. A body charred beyond recognition lay next to the corpse of a horse, with a melted and twisted sword between the two of them. This particular Gate was swarming with Fire Atronachs whom collectively gave me more trouble than I have had with most Gates, but thanks to a scavenged Fire Shield potion I emerged victorious, if a bit singed.

I have yet to uncover the Mythic Dawn agent at Leyawiin, but as it seems I need only be seen to instigate a foolish attack, I will spend tomorrow simply walking around at my leisure, finding out what I can about Daedric shrines. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Oblivion Day 31 - Counter-Assault on Oblivion, Part 6

28 Heartfire, 3E433

Today was largely spoken for already, with three Gates to close and a hidden cultist in Bravil to unmask. My first task was to ease the city's worry by closing the Gate that obliterated the watchtower ruin.
The Gate led me nowhere I had not seen before, but the denizens within were significantly more powerful and well-equipped than I have been accustomed to. I fought three Dremora who were armed with long blades, powerful spells, and upon investigation of their bodies, enchanted rings and amulets to further boost their prowess and my wealth.

With Bravil's Gate safely closed, I turned my attention to the two nearby Gates that I had found on either side of the road north of the city. This seems to be the pattern: one Gate opened very close to the city and two opened some distance away, perhaps to serve as passages for a rearguard or flanking force.

The Gate on the east side of the road led me to the familiar Plane with the two small towers and their locks connecting to the tower holding the Sigil Stone. Fortunately this Gate was not nearly as well guarded as Bravil's Gate had been and I fought my way through Scamps and Clannfear until I unlocked the bridge to the large tower and claimed the second Stone of the day.
That left me with one more Gate to close northwest of the city in some forest.
The third Gate was unremarkable save for an Elven mace I found lying next to a completely burned corpse. Never one to be squeamish around profit I took the mace, intending to enchant and sell it later in the week. This Gate too was closed with no problems.

My final order of business wound up resolving itself. As I rode back to town from the last Gate I thought about how to find Bravil's cultist. I anticipated spending several days in the city before meeting with any sort of result and stepped through the city gate completely unawares.

The whipping sound of summoning magicka alerted me that something was wrong as soon as I stepped inside Bravil. Still trying to register what was happening, I looked to my left at the charging form of a Mythic Dawn agent, mace raised and ready. The cultist, an Altmer her shocked neighbors identified as Ranaline, appeared to have been laying in wait just inside the gate.
The guards arrived to take the body away and one of them stopped to tell me that the re-building of Kvatch was soon to begin, as the last of the Daedra embedded in the wreckage had been destroyed. Good news for a change, I suppose, but the rest of the province is still under the same threat Kvatch was.

Tomorrow I shall spend a day in Bravil to solve the mystery of Ursanne Loche's missing husband, a task I guiltily remembered taking on the last time I was in town, possibly over a week ago. I do hope the man has managed to look after himself this whole time.