Grazhir :: Skyrim :: Yvara :: 27

26042015-23052015

7.2

Interlude

Sun’s Dawn, 19th, 4E 202

I had spent so much time at the College that I simply had to get away. Sitting around in one place for more than a few days made me positively itch with the need to wander. So I was back in Riften. I ran into that Argonian again, the one with the skooma addiction issue, and she looked awfully haggard. It seemed she was keeping to her promise, but it reminded me that someone in the area must be dealing the stuff.

Did I care? Well, an otherwise hard-working person had been dragged down by it. I could be mistaken, but I thought it affected Khajiit differently than any other race, and they were far less susceptible to any negative side effects. With a faint shrug I questioned her about her former supplier. At first she didn’t want to talk, but I reminded her of who had helped her and her hesitance faded.

I headed for Mistveil Keep to speak with the Jarl. It was there I was reminded that Maven Black-Briar was now on that throne. I hadn’t even opened my mouth when Maven said, “I am hereby granting you permission to purchase property in Riften. Talk to my steward if you’re interested.”

After a slight pause I nodded, then said, “There is a skooma dealer in Riften.”

“Ah, yes,” she said. “Sarthis. A thorn in my side for the last few years. I’ve repeatedly tried to eradicate that meddler, but he has ears within the city guard. Gives us the slip every time we try to raid the warehouse. However, if you wish to eliminate that burden for me . . . well, let’s just say it would go a long way with earning my favor.”

‘As if I haven’t inadvertently already?’ I thought. I nodded again.

“Good. Here, take the key to the warehouse. Pay dear old Sarthis a visit and tell him Maven sends her regards, would you?”

I accepted the key and turned to her steward. I didn’t need another house, but Brynjolf might find some use in it. The real value would be in people knowing the Dragonborn had a presence and home in the city. I exchanged coin for a deed and key and went on my way. I had a warehouse to go to, and something told me the inhabitants would attack me on sight. And they did, Sarthis and his “friend”, and they died and helped make more blood potions.

I cleared the place of any moon sugar or skooma, tucking all of it away to store later or dispose of. No sense leaving it there for someone to find and abuse, like that poor Argonian woman—I never had learned her name.

“Results speak volumes over words and you’ve just proved it,” Maven said when I told her Sarthis was no longer a problem. “Did you happen to discover where the fetcher was getting his skooma from?” she asked, and when I nodded continued, “Then I want you to head out there immediately and eliminate all of them. I can’t afford to have another Sarthis blunder into Riften because they think we’re too lazy to disrupt their pitiful operations.”

As I left I thought, ‘Operations you don’t have a hand in and aren’t gaining gold from? Or is it also that it makes people less likely to buy your mead?’

Sun’s Dawn, 22nd, 4E 202

Brynjolf had helped me out when it came to finding where Cragslane Cavern was, after I told him about Honeyside and said he could use the place if he ever needed to get away, but not too far away. I assumed he would add a “leave alone” shadowmark to that one, too, possibly the one that denoted danger. After all, thieves going after a home of the Dragonborn? Someone who could single-handedly take down dragons? If they were stupid, perhaps. Or too brave for their own good. Not that it mattered as I didn’t intend to actually leave anything there.

Cragslane Cavern was a gambling and skooma operation. The gambling involved betting on which wolf would win in pit fights, apparently. They attacked—the people, that is—they died, and I cleared out all the moon sugar and skooma. I also killed the wolves, because frankly, they were vicious wild beasts doing everything they could to get over the enclosure fence to attack.

On my way back I was feeling a bit of anger about people trapping wild animals just to get them to fight for their amusement and betting on the outcome. True, that operation had been shut down, though I held no illusions that someone might start it up again. It didn’t help that a wolf pack attacked.

So when I saw something off to my left, to the east, shining in the darkness, I went to investigate. It was surprising the number of bandit groups and the like that had fires or braziers burning outside their hideouts at night to alert both friend and foe.

‘Now that’s different,’ I thought. ‘Mages co-opting draugr to do their menial labor?’ There were draugr mining while being overseen by necromancers and other mages, and it reminded me of that other place, I already for—oh, right, Lydia had been with me so it had to have been Ustengrav—where necromancers had been thralling bandits to mine for them.

When I got to the third room I heard a disembodied female voice. “I am Lu’ah Al-Skaven. Who are you to disrupt my work? Begone, or I will add you to my army of the dead!”

I snorted and rolled my eyes. ‘Sure, lady. Even Potema couldn’t get that done.’ Farther along, before I was forced to kill them, I heard two people talking.

A female said, “I think it’s sweet Lu’ah is so worked up over her dead soldier.”

“Yeah,” replied a male, “but raising draugr to take on both the Imperials and the Stormcloaks? That’s just crazy.”

“True, but I’m not going to be the one to try to oppose her.”

Lu’ah also raised some of the dead against me, saying, “Rise from your graves to defeat this worm!”

I wondered if she had any idea she what she was dealing with, or if worm was just her generic insult. The next room had a spike trap in the ceiling, which I almost didn’t notice in time, but a path leading upward brought me to a room with another of those Nord pillar puzzles. There was a journal and a book on a table beneath the pillars.

The journal belonged to Lu’ah. She spent twenty-five years grieving her husband, who had died during the Great War, and she researched necromancy for a way to bring him back to her. During that time she had run across the story of Fjori and Holgeir—the book, I noticed—and found this place, eventually deciding that Holgeir’s remains would make the perfect vessel for her to bring Saeel back to life into.

She had co-opted the draugr and other dead as laborers to clear the way to the main burial hall. At least she was using them for something other than ore mining! And then the civil war broke out. Lu’ah was angry at Ulfric for his lack of aid to Hammerfell and his sudden stir to activity against the Empire, so she intended, as I had overheard earlier, to strike out against Empire and Stormcloaks both.

The book gave the hints I was after to solve the pillar puzzle and I was shortly on my way, though it begged the question: had the book been left there because Lu’ah expected her living minions to be too stupid to figure it out, or because they were thoroughly enough cowed?

“I shall have vengeance for the death of my husband. Rise!”

‘Oh gods.’ Maybe I was getting a bit too sure of myself, but honestly, draugr? Against me?

Deeper, more draugr hacking away at the walls and overseen by a mage of some sort. More fighting, more people and undead burning, and me moving deeper yet again.

“I could not raise him, but I will raise an army to avenge his defilement!”

Eventually I got to the final room of the place, where Fjori and Holgeir were—their remains, anyway. Up on a dais was an alter with a sarcophagus to either side. Those two, I assumed. When I stepped into the room a woman skulked into view and said, “They burned his body before I could raise him. It should have been returned to me. You will not stop me from killing those who wage this pointless war!”

With that the sarcophagi lids cracked off and draugr-like undead emerged ready to fight, while Lu’ah raised a nearby skeleton, and then started sending ice-based spells at me. I brought in a Dremora Lord to hold some of the attention and started in with fire. Lu’ah had raised the others, so I ignored them and concentrated on her. If she died, they’d drop like puppets with cut strings. The skeleton, of course, could not be re-raised once shattered, which my summon took care of, but when Lu’ah was dead the two “draugr” tumbled to the ground.

From them arose two spirits: Fjori and Holgeir.

“Thank you for releasing us from her spell,” the woman, Fjori, said.

“Now we can rest in peace once again. Come, Fjori, my love.”

The woman held back long enough to place a ghostly blade on the altar. “Take this with our gratitude.”

After they faded away I searched Lu’ah, then picked up the blade. A quick sensing of it told me it would do a little additional damage, ignoring whatever armor an opponent was using. Another weapon for display, essentially. Personally, I found it bizarre that people who’d been dead for who knew how long would actually show up at all in spirit form.

In Lu’ah’s little sanctuary were books, gems, and a spell tome, and it wasn’t until I returned outside that I realized it was morning.

Sun’s Dawn, 23rd, 4E 202

“What has you so preoccupied?” I asked.

Wylandriah, the court mage, said, “My experimentation involves a magical construct and a reagent that will allow the construct to maintain a field of permanent harmonic energy!”

‘Sounds like she’d get on fine with Arniel,’ I thought. “Fascinating!” I said, though the sarcasm was lost on her.

“A-ha! So you’re a student of theoretical applied harmonics! Putting aside Ralston’s Constant of Universal Inversion for a moment, how would you approach the problem? Draw the harmonic energy into the reagent or allow it to generate its own field?”

‘Why is this sort of thing not taught at the College?’ I wondered. ‘Or is she crazier than a bag of cats?’

“I’ll tell you why you won’t tell me,” Wylandriah said. “Because you were absolutely right not to. It’s a fundamental rule of magic and it would be ridiculous. You can’t draw harmonic energy without a soul siphon. Since you’re so well informed I’m certain you’ve solved the problem with thermic drift, right?”

I shook my head slightly. I’d only bothered to speak with her because Maven wasn’t in the main room yet.

“What’s not to get? It’s as simple as Traven’s First Axiom of Magic . . . or was it Galerion’s Law of Casting. Hmm.”

‘Traven, as in Arch-Mage Hannibal Traven?’

“I tell you what, let me find out where that’s from. I’ll need to look through my library, and get you an answer.”

I was almost curious enough to make a note of what she said to ask Urag or one of the trainers about. “You appear to need help getting organized,” I observed.

“Yes, I could use some help with that. As assistant perhaps? No, no, no. Maybe a familiar. No, too messy. Well, at any rate, organization is not my strong suit. Not at all. I need as much help as I can get. In fact, if you could retrieve a few things for me, I could start my next set of experiments. As you can imagine, I tend to forget things often. Leave things around. I really must learn to put these things away. What I need is my Dwemer stirring spoon, my orichalcum ingot, and my grand soul gem. In fact, I could use them immediately. Bring those items back to me and I’ll be happy to experiment on you. No, no . . . that isn’t right. I’d be happy to reward you.”

She stuck a hand on her hip and stared at me. “Well, why are you still standing here? Oh, right. You need to know where they are! That would help. Let’s see. Last time I used the Dwemer spoon was at my dear friend Boti’s house in Ivarstead—Fellstar Farm I believe it’s called. The orichalcum ingot should still be at Winterhold at the Frozen Hearth Inn. I don’t know why I didn’t just take it with me. And last is the soul gem. I left that one in Windhelm at the White Phial alchemy shop. It was a good trade too. Ah well.”

Maven and her entourage finally arrived so I let her know the operation at Cragslane Cavern had been seen to.

“I’ll send my men to secure any of the remaining goods you left behind,” Maven said. “We can’t have that substance falling into the wrong hands now, can we? Here, this should suffice as your cut of the . . . or rather, a reward for your actions. Also, I’ve been informed you purchased Honeyside. I expect that you’ll distance yourself from the affairs of state. In other words, keep your nose out of my business and we’ll do just fine. Just remember that you’re only a part of my court, this doesn’t make you one of the family. I guess all that’s left is to bestow the title. What were those words again? Doesn’t matter, the title is yours. I henceforth name you Thane of Riften. Don’t disappoint me.”

Right. Off I went. Brynjolf wasn’t anywhere visible so I headed out and west, eventually stumbling over a campsite outside a cave entrance. There were ruined pillars there, so there was perhaps something of interest inside. There was a journal showing, tucked into the bedroll, so I gave it a look.

The Journal of Medresi Dran

On Angarvunde:

Whispers of this ancient temple have been few and far between, and most real knowledge seems similar to Angarvunde itself; buried and forgotten. Yet, every story or legend I hear all seem to speak of immeasurable riches found deep within.

“Great treasure waits for the worthy adventurer,” said one old fool after many false flirtations and tankards of mead. Though he may have been a nuisance, his information matches most of my research, specifically the location of Angarvunde.

Tomorrow I will hire a mining team to assist me in my excavation and head towards the ruin. By this time next month, I shall be rich!

—M.D.

When I went inside there was a woman there, complaining. When I asked she said, “Of course I’m troubled. I’m on the verge of incredible wealth, but my cowardly work force ran at the first sign of danger.”

She offered to split the treasure with me if I would clear out the draugr. I thought about it briefly, recognizing that to mean I would do all the work and she would reap half of any profit, but I was bored and nodded in agreement. She handed over a key I would need (though where she got it from I had no clue) and I set off to clear the place of the infestation of undead. Better those than Falmer, I supposed.

I eventually had swept through both areas off the main room and returned to Medresi, who looked pleased and said we should then be able to continue on forward. Unfortunately—for her, anyway—she raced forward in anticipation of some fabulous treasure and walked right into a trap. Something she ran over caused a column to rise up just as she stepped on top of that part of the floor and she was smashed against the ceiling.

‘Well, more for me, then,’ I thought. The column was actually a circular stairway, which I used, and found myself in front of word wall: Mir—Allegiance. There was also a large chest begging to be looted. Sadly, there was no shortcut, so I was forced to backtrack the entire way. From there I headed to Ivarstead, for the first of Wylandriah’s items.

Sun’s Dawn, 24th, 4E 202

“Alduin’s wings, they did darken the sky. His roar fury’s life, and his scales sharpened scythes,” sang the bard. “Men ran and they cowered, and they fought and they died. They burned and they bled as they issued their cries. We need saviors to free us from Alduin’s rage. Heroes on the field of this new war to wage.”

‘Now just a minute,’ I thought. ‘I already killed him.’

“And if Alduin wins, man is gone from this world. Lost in the shadow of the black wings unfurled. But then came the Tongues on that terrible day. Steadfast as winter, they entered the fray.”

‘Ah, she means way back, not just recently.’

“And all heard the music of Alduin’s doom. The sweet song of Skyrim, sky-shattering Thu’um. And so the Tongues freed us from Alduin’s rage. Gave the gift of the Voice, ushered in a new Age. If Alduin is eternal, then eternity’s done. For his story is over and the dragons are . . . gone.”

Right. ‘Except that they’re not, any longer.’ I finished off my “breakfast” mead and headed downstairs. On a bench by the exit door was an Imperial fellow who was obviously feeling chatty, as he said on seeing me, “I’m a writer by trade. Not that the people of Skyrim do much reading. I write drama, friend. The legends and history of Skyrim made to excite and inspire. Poor Giraud Gemane at the Bards College has been waiting for my latest work, Olaf and the Dragon, for weeks now. Roads are a mess.”

I knew there was something I should be doing at that point. It was the way of things, for some reason. “I’ll deliver the book for you,” I said, never mind that I was still dressed in my Dragonborn armor and really ought not to be running errands for people.

“You’re sure?” he said, then handed it over. “When you see Giraud, ask for a tip. I’m sure he’ll be in a good mood after reading this. May you lose yourself in the pages of a good book!”

I nodded and went to leave, but he added, “Know any tales of nobility and courage? I’m keen to record them.”

‘Gods above,’ I thought and quick-stepped over to the door and out of Candlehearth. I headed over the the White Phial long enough to grab Wylandriah’s soul gem, then left the city. I still needed to swing by the inn at Winterhold for the ingot.

Sun’s Dawn, 25th, 4E 202

I reached Solitude fairly early, but obviously not so early that the bards were all asleep. I was accosted on entering by an Altmer male. “Welcome to the Bards College. I am Headmaster Viarmo. How may I help you? Here to apply?”

I held out the poetry I had found because of that spirit bard.

“Oh my!” He went into raptures over it once he looked inside, then frowned unhappily. I was then subjected to a long speech about the Festival of the Burning of King Olaf, how it had been forbidden, and—

I confess I zoned out at that point, only paying attention when he asked my opinion—because a random stranger off the street was the perfect person—about how to restore the missing parts. I was feeling flippant so I put all my persuasion to use and got him to write in the most outrageous things I could think of.

Once he was done scribbling he said, “I need to head to court immediately and present this. You should come.”

I shrugged and followed along. There was no particular harm in the world thinking the Dragonborn was appreciative of bards.

Along the way he said, “I do hope the court likes the verse. I think we’ve done an excellent job of recreating it.”

The corner of my mouth twitched in amusement. Right. Sarcasm always seemed to go right over these people’s heads.

We arrived quickly; the Bards College wasn’t that far from the Blue Palace. He walked on up the stairs muttering, “I think my voice is ready. I hope we’ve done this well.”

‘Gods above, you’d think he’d never performed for an audience before.’

“Ah, Viarmo,” Jarl Elisif said on seeing him. “I assume you are here to petition for the reinstatement of the Burning of King Olaf Festival.”

“I am, Jarl. I wish to present King Olaf’s verse from the Poetic Edda. Recovered this very day from the Bards Tomb.”

I eyed him askance at the lie.

“Ah, you mentioned something that would convince us the festival should take place, but I didn’t expect King Olaf’s lost verse. Please proceed.”

I zoned out while he recited, already having ignored it once, and wondered just what he had intended to present to her before I showed up with a long lost whatever it was. There was a long silence once he stopped speaking, which made me come back to attention.

“You have proven your point, Viarmo. The festival is truly a celebration of Solitude and a condemnation of false kings,” Elisif said.

“I thank you and the college thanks you, Jarl.”

“Furthermore, I believe such a fine poem deserves some payment of Patronage. The college will be generously rewarded,” she added.

“I thank you yet again. I will make sure our applicant, who was instrumental in . . . recovering the poem will be well rewarded.”

I got the sinking feeling I was now counted as a bard. Viarmo wandered off to prepare for a festival and I approached Falk.

“Yes, Dragonborn?” he said.

Well, that simplified things. “I wish to know if it would be . . . indelicate of me to mention to the Jarl that I spoke with the High King while I was in Sovngarde.”

He blinked at me a few times.

“Perhaps you could speak with her, at a less visible time, such as not during court hours,” I continued. “I simply wish her to know we spoke, and he expressed his concern for his lady’s heart. I found him in the Hall of Valor, safe amongst fine company such as Harbinger Kodlak Whitemane, Jurgen Windcaller, and Ysgramor.” I neglected to mention that Olaf One-Eye himself had been there.

Falk appeared to be momentarily speechless. He nodded and said, “I will pass on the message. Thank you, and I know the Jarl will also thank you.”

I nodded in return and departed, only to find that Viarmo was waiting for me outside. He passed over a coin pouch and told me I should come to the festival. He had every intention of having it that very night, and wanted me there so he could let everyone know who was responsible.

I ended up hanging around the Bards College reading any books I had not yet read after delivering that book to Giraud, and that evening went outside to be “thanked” and watch the festivities. All it really consisted of was the burning of an effigy, and then a lot of music and feasting.

Sun’s Dawn, 28th, 4E 202

I made the mistake of stumbling over Meridia’s Temple and heard in my head, “Look at my temple, lying in ruins. So much for the constancy of mortals, their crafts and their hearts. If they love me not, how can I reach them? Restore to me my beacon, that I might guide you toward your destiny.”

I frowned. I would like to think I had already achieved my destiny, but I was more than willing to summon Luggage long enough to get the beacon so I could return it. If nothing else it meant I’d be rid of the thing. I headed up to the top of the temple where her statue was and placed the thing into the waiting cradle. Unfortunately for me, I was then shot up into the air quite a distance and approached by a radiant orb of white light.

“It is time for my splendor to return to Skyrim. But the token of my truth lies buried in the ruins of my once great temple, now tainted by a profane darkness skittering within. The Necromancer Malkoran defiles my shrine with vile corruptions, trapping lost souls left in the wake of this war to do his bidding. Worse still, he uses the power stored within my own token to fuel his foul deeds. I have brought you here, mortal, to be my champion. You will enter my temple, retrieve my artifact, and destroy the defiler.”

“It doesn’t really sound like I have a lot of choice in the matter,” I said.

“But a single candle can banish the darkness of the entire Void,” she replied. “If not you, then someone else. My beacon is sure to attract a worthy soul. But if you are wise, you will heed my bidding. Go now, the artifact must be reclaimed and Malkoran destroyed. Malkoran has forced the doors shut. But this is my temple, and it responds to my decree. I will send down a ray of light. Guide this light through my temple and its doors will open.”

I was released to glide back down to the temple, where her statue was, landing softly. I will still unsure that I wished to treat with another Daedric Lord, even one such as Meridia, who was counted as one of the “good” ones. While I was thinking chanting impinged on my hearing and made me realize there was a word wall nearby, so I followed the sound: Dun—Grace.

First Seed, 1st, 4E 202

I wandered into a fort of some kind in time to see an adventurer killing a large spider. He turned and saw me, then said, “What was going on with that spider? Look, I’m getting out of here. Normally, spiders make my skin crawl, but magic spiders? Blech.” He took off and I decided to investigate.

I eventually took down some psychotic Altmer mage, looted everything, and left. Funnily enough, his surname was Frey, but I sincerely doubted he was connected to Mercer Frey.

First Seed, 2nd, 4E 202

A dragon by the name of Nahagliiv attacked me while I was wandering. It was obviously feeling cocky or something else it would not have told me its name, but it went down just like all the others. The Dremora Lord I summoned seemed to take great delight in attacking it once it was on the ground.

Later on I wandered through some Forsworn encampment and wiped them all out, eventually coming to an overlook high above a deep pool of water. Not especially wishing to walk all the way down I jumped. As I stepped out of the pool a spirit appeared and spoke.

“Been a long time since someone took the leap. Longer still since any survived it. I once performed the entirety of the Poetic Edda from atop Bard’s Leap before trying my luck. . . . Well, you can see how that turned out.”

The days and my deeds seemed to blur a bit after that, though I know I fought and killed another named dragon: Viinturuth. I spent time in Riften (and dropped off Wylandriah’s things), and at the College. During that time I spoke with Faralda and Tolfdir for mastery quests, and took care of those. Illusion was close, Conjuration behind that, and Restoration lagging at third. But eventually, I knew, I would be able to take those mastery quests as well. And then I wandered quite a bit before taking a brief rest at Elysium.