Friday, April 22, 2016

Skyrim Day 024 & 025 - Mzulft, the Unpronounceable Ruin

9 Heartfire, 4E201

No rest for the weary indeed.

I woke yesterday morning and once again sought out Mirabelle to see if she could answer my latest questions. While wandering about the College I briefly stopped to chat with J'zargo, but he only had boastful things to say about himself, as I suspect is usual. Mirabelle admitted that no one knew where the Staff of Magnus was, but that one of the magical factions in Cyrodiil, the Synod, had recently sent its members to the College to inquire after the same. After sending them away she overheard them discuss their next destination: the Dwemer ruin of Mzulft.

According to what she heard, the ruin was dug into the mountains along the hot springs where I had visited the tree 'Eldergleam'. Another long walk.

So it was out into the snow and ice once again. I had not made it far outside Winterhold before I began to hear shouting carried along by the ever-present stormy winds. Ahead of me a group of hunters were trying to shoot down a Troll that had wandered into their camp. By the time I had gotten close enough to effectively fire my crossbow the hunters were dead and the Troll weakened enough that two bolts into its back were enough to put it down.
One of the hunters had ring with a minor enchantment, but the rest just had bows, axes, and leathers. I found a book inside of one of the tents that provided guidance on how better to move silently while armored, a skill I feel I must continue to work on.

It was early in the afternoon when I arrived at the springs and a helpful hunter directed me towards Mzulft, warning me that others had entered, but none yet left. With that she wished me luck, resuming her scraping of the hide of some creature unfortunate enough to find its way in front of her bow.
The ruins appeared to be similar to every other Dwemer ruin I have visited, it appears they did not value creativity, variety, or artistic talent of any sort. A small, locked storeroom built outside the entrance yielded to my meager lock-picking skill, but there was nothing of value inside and only one item of interest: a curiously blue, metallic emblem.
Naturally I took it.

Just inside the main entrance a man lay dying, a mage of Synod order. All I could hear of his last moments was the word "Oculory". On his body I found the group's journal, which was not helpful, and a key to proceed further into the ruin, which was.

Mzulft contains all of the decorations common with the Dwemer: stoic visages and tubes that shot burning steam everywhere. The constructs were still clattering around well after their architects had departed this Plane, but this was not my first Dwemer ruin, try as I might to limit my adventures into them. I recognized the portals built into the walls that would likely eject a hostile machine as I passed and the spider-like creations patrolling the halls proved rather susceptible to crossbow bolts.

Deeper inside the ruin were the detestable Chaurus, large insects that could swarm an unlucky adventurer if she found herself overwhelmed or asleep. One of these two things had happened to a Synod mage camping atop a hastily-built watchtower, but I only encountered the bugs one at a time and had no difficulty with them.
The natural cavern merged back into the Dwemer architecture and the Chaurus were replaced with more Dwemer creations that fell out of holes in the walls, crawled from behind steam vents, and generally made as much a nuisance of themselves as they could. The spider-like crawling things were the most common, but more articulated warriors were built into spheres that they managed to roll on while firing crossbows at me and swinging blades. Defeating one of them earned me a handful of Dwemer crossbow bolts which, surprisingly, fit my own.

These warriors seemed to draw their power from soul gems inserted into their foreheads and I managed to salvage a 'Greater' soul gem which I am sure I can sell for a decent amount.

Eventually my soul gem collecting brought me to a door in front of which lay a dead Falmer, as if murderous machines and acid-spitting giant bugs were not enough trouble.
Evidently the creature succumbed to injuries sustained against two destroyed Dwemer spider-machines and I had little doubt there would be more Falmer behind the door. I have little experience with fighting the things, for my time spent in Skyrim previously was largely limited to chopping wood and walking alongside wagons, activities which kept me from the underground where the Falmer exclusively lived. It is said their dwelling underground has blinded them, but that their hearing is exceptional. That may be true, but also fails to explain how they still manage to craft their crude swords and shields.

The blind Falmer fell one after another to my Dwemer crossbow bolts and I continued deeper into Mzulft, finding absolutely nothing else of interest or value. Eventually my wandering brought me before a door with the trembling voice of an Imperial sounding behind it, Paratus Decimius, the sole survivor of the Synod expedition.
Paratus explained that his group had been trying to find a focusing crystal to power an astronomy machine that would lead them to objects of great power. I searched through my satchel for anything that appeared to be a crystal, but the only thing I had was the blue emblem which he dismissed as worthless. However, what I took to be a Falmer ornament wound up being the crystal Paratus sought. He led me to the astronomy machine and placed the focusing crystal on top of it.

Instantly a beam of light shot from the crystal into the ceiling.
According to Paratus the crystal could be manipulated by striking it with frost and fire magicka, two things I am not very good at doing. He took my honesty rather poorly, snapping that it was fortunate for me that a member of his team brought the simplest books he could find to sell in Skyrim. I ignored his attempts at humor and studied the books. They were, as he said, very simple and after a bit of study I felt ready to try both sets of spells.

The fire magicka did nothing when directed against the crystal, but the frost spell rotated it within the cradle, reflecting the beam of light into multiple points along the ceiling. After some minutes of exhausting myself with the easiest of Destruction magicka, Paratus nodded and told me to manipulate the buttons behind the machine to spin the ceiling until each beam of light was focused into its own mirror.

This was simple enough, each button turned one of the rings on the ceiling by a certain amount. Lining each one up with the reflected beams was trivial.
Once directed, the beams reflected back into the crystal and projected a surprisingly detailed map of the Tamriel on the wall.
I figured that Paratus would be happy with this result, but he was quite angry. He asked if I was playing some sort of joke on him, but I had no idea what he was talking about. According to his ranting the map should have shown the location of several magical artifacts the Synod were interested in but he claimed "interference" was affecting the output of the Dwemer machine, causing it to point to the College he and his colleagues had left several days ago. He shouted that if "we" wanted the Staff of Magnus so badly then "we" could meet our deaths in Labyrinthian for all he cared...which is exactly the information I had come to Mzulft to find. It was back to the College for me.

As I was leaving the ruins a mage of the Psijic Order popped into existence before me and congratulated me on what little progress I had made, stating that I was on the way towards the aversion of catastrophe. A nice morale booster, that.
Accustomed to using the sun to determine the time of day, I was confused for a moment as I stepped back outside, only to realize that it was already the next day, 9 Heartfire, and I had spent the previous afternoon, evening, and entire night fighting in the ruins of Mzulft. Fate was kind to this tired Khajiit and the long walk back to the College of Winterhold was completed without any incident.
My arrival at the College however was met with quite a bit of incident. The stupid Thalmor, Arcano, managed to shield the Hall of Elements from everyone while he worked on unlocking the mysterious Eye of Magnus. Arch-Mage Savos and Mirabelle were at the entrance when I arrived, both of them attempting to overwhelm the barrier with powerful magicka.
The Arch-Mage insisted that I lend my meager ability towards their effort and miraculously all three of us managed to destroy Arcano's barrier. Savos immediately charged at Arcano as Mirabelle shouted a warning to not do just that. Her warning was not heeded and suddenly there was a blinding explosion.
I woke moments later against the stone wall outside a second barrier. Mirabelle was nearby, slouched against a column. The Arch-Mage was nowhere to be seen, the explosion having flung him into the courtyard, killing him. Tolfdir and the other members of the College came running out of the dormitories, but towards the town of Winterhold, not the body of the Arch-Mage. They stopped at my shout and only then did they realize the Arch-Mage was dead. But there were worse things about than a dead mage. The explosion had somehow brought forth a herd of floating spirits that were busy attempting to level the unfortunate town. Tolfdir and the others had been running to the town's aid before I stopped them. With the Arch-Mage's death Tolfdir decided to keep everyone inside the college, sending me, of course, to the town alone.

Faralda was still guarding the entryway to the College, cautiously zapping any of the spirits that wobbled too close to her. She seemed relieved to see me, suggesting that the both of us work together to clear the town of whatever the things were. I agreed and we crept into the deserted town, the villagers and guards having taken refuge within the few buildings still standing. With my crossbow and Farlda's spells, the little balls of energy had no chance.
The situation was just as grim when we returned to the College. Faralda joined the others in the dormitory and I entered the Hall of Elements to check on Mirabelle. Arcano's barrier was still up, but the Arch-Mage's second-in-command was still okay, though a bit shaky.
I told her that the Staff of Magnus was to be found in Labyrinthian, between Whiterun, Solitude, and Morthal. She appeared puzzled or possibly concussed, remarking that the Arch-Mage had gifted her with an ordinary necklace before he died, stating that she would know what to do with it when the time came. Mirabelle decided that the time came about half an hour after that, handing me the necklace while telling me she was sure it would be helpful where I was going. I do hope she did not strike her head too hard on the column.
So it was back on the road for me without any sleep. An Argonian leaped at me from behind some bushes and died with a very surprised look on his face as he impaled himself on my sword. He had a very nice Dwemer dagger, which I am happy to now call my own.

It was late into the evening when I arrived at Whiterun, but a courier was waiting for me nonetheless. He handed me a sealed scroll, bowed, and left for the city's gate as I began to walk by him. The scroll was an invitation to an incredibly cruel joke.
A museum dedicated to the Mythic Dawn, the cult which destroyed the Septim lineage and brought the Empire to its knees, almost in submission to Mehrunes Dagon. Only through my unsung effort and the sacrifice of Martin Septim was the destruction of civilization averted, though at great cost.

And now someone wanted to give them a museum? Such arrogance from this Silus Vesuius person certainly deserves a personal response. The museum is also his home in Dawnstar, a village I found many years ago to be hostile to Khajiit looking for work. I believe it is time for another visit.

One of the Khajiit caravans was stopped at Whiterun, allowing me to unload a great deal of jewelry and gemstones taken along the way in exchange for a fine Dwemer long blade. The caravan master, Ri'Saad and I spoke of our respective travels for a bit and we parted cordially, his people beginning to set up camp for the night. The sight of the Khajiit gathering around the fire made me feel a bit lonely, so I hurried into the city so that I might be distracted.
It felt like a very long walk from the inside of the city gate to the 'Bannered Mare' inn, but I finally am gong to be getting a good night's rest. Tomorrow I strike for Labyrinthian and the Staff of Magnus. I joined the College so that I might further my skill and have yet to actually perform any useful magicka there. Such is my life.

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