Grazhir :: Skyrim :: Yvara :: 32

01062015

10.1

Solstheim

Dragonborn
Rain’s Hand, 24th, 4E 202

I headed for the College first, since it was closer, especially if took an alternate route, which I did to some extent. Along the way I saw a Thalmor patrol, but ignored them. Unless I killed the prisoner with them there’d be a witness, and neither option was palatable to me.

I also ran into the Lost Duo again, this time on the road out from Winterhold. I decided, they couldn’t actually be nobles. No. It was a couple of random Imperials who were lost in some crazy dream or something. Maybe they’d been knocked on the head a few times too many. Maybe that little skooma problem they might have had permanently rearranged their brains. I didn’t know, but I just couldn’t believe they could truly be that incompetent.

I was nearly to the town when I came across two cultist bodies. The ones from before? Stiff and frozen and not gnawed on by bears for some reason? Not that I remember how long ago it was. Either way it made me think of—right.

It was pissing ra—wait, no. It was spitting snow by the time I jogged down the hill into the town itself, but at least it wasn’t another blizzard. I spent the evening going through my things and deciding what I would leave in my quarters, and while doing so ran across that blood thing Septimus had given me. I had actually gotten all the samples he wanted, but—well, if nothing else I could return it to him. He was going to die either way, either from old age or. . . .

Rain’s Hand, 25th, 4E 202

Went to the outpost. Unfortunately, it was noon by the time I got there. The sun was high in the sky, and the glare off the ice, blech. Septimus was overly excited when I got to the bottom and offered him the . . . thing. “I can almost . . . hear them,” he said wonderingly. “I feel their life energy. Come, I will make the mixture.”

He pulled some kind of device out and started fiddling with the two of them, then went over to the Dwemer cube and used the resulting pseudo-Dwemer blood to unlock it. It was very strange how it cycled and extended into a tunnel of sorts. Intriguing and somehow frightening. Then he ran off inside and I followed, curious.

Inside—and the interior was nothing like the exterior suggested—was a pedestal with a book on it. The cover looked as though it had been pieced together from different materials and stitched by the hand of a novice. A closer look made me think that maybe the cover was made from the skins of various races, actually. How comforting.

“What is this . . . it’s . . . it’s just a book!?” he cried. “I can see. The world beyond burns in my mind. It’s marvelous. . . .” He trailed off as his body lifted into the air, and then disintegrated.

That book was an artifact of Hermaeus Mora. The same Prince who said he wanted me to take over as his emissary once Septimus was dead. ‘Yeah, I think I’ll just be leaving that behind. Taking it is as good as agreeing to that role. Hermaeus Mora seems to like to discard his tools and I’d rather not be one of them.’

After a last look at the ash remains on the floor, I swiftly left the cube.

But it remained. Those cultists were a problem. And if they were coming after me it meant I had the power to stop this Miraak person. So . . . I would go, to Solstheim, and try to figure out what was going on. I changed right there in the outpost into my Dragonborn guise and left under the cover of invisibility.

I maintained the invisibility all the way to the docks at Windhelm.

“If you’re looking for passage to Solstheim, too bad. I’m not going back there anymore,” Captain Gjalund said.

“I was attacked by some cultists who came here on your ship,” I replied.

“Now hold on!” he said, half rising from his seat. “That wasn’t my fault. I didn’t know they were going to attack anybody. I don’t even know how I got here.”

I tilted my head inquisitively.

“It’s hard to explain. . . . I remember those people with the masks coming on board, then—the next thing I remember, I was here and they were gone. That’s not right, losing whole days like that. There’s been something strange going on there for a while now, but after this . . . I’m done. I’m not going back to Solstheim.”

“Yes, you are,” I said. “You will take me to Solstheim. And I’ll pay you double your usual fee to do it.”

I could see him thinking hard, weighing the gold against the fear. “. . .Well, a man’s got to make a living, after all. Fine. Besides, maybe you can put a stop to whatever’s going on over there. I owe them a bit of payback myself. We’ll cast off immediately.”

I skulked off to a quiet spot on the ship—namely, I went invisible long enough to get atop the cabin, then stretched out.

Rain’s Hand, 26th, 4E 202

Despite how the captain made it sound we made good time, arriving a little after midnight. We’d barely docked when an officious-looking Dunmer in fine clothing approached, honing in on me. “I don’t recognize you, so I’ll assume this is your first visit to Raven Rock, outlander.”

‘How could you possibly tell considering I’m wearing a mask?’ I wondered.

“State your intentions,” he demanded.

“I’m looking for Miraak,” I said simply. “Do you know him?”

“Miraak. . . . I—I’m not sure that I do,” he said softly, his gaze going distant. But then his eyes went sharp again. “Just remember, Raven Rock is sovereign territory of House Redoran. This is Morrowind, not Skyrim. While you’re here you will be expected to abide by our laws. Any questions?”

“You know who Miraak is?” I pressed.

“I—I’m unsure,” he said distantly. “I swear I know the name, but I cannot place it.”

‘Gods above,’ I thought with a faint sigh. ‘This is messed up.’ “Can you tell me anything about him?”

“I don’t think so. I’m not. . . . The—the name has something to do with the . . . Earth Stone, I think. But I’m not sure what.” He sharpened up again and added, “Remember, we are watching you.”

‘Yeah, sure, friend.’ I left him speaking with the captain and headed into town. Most people would be asleep, so I queried a guard to find the inn, a place called the Retching Netch, and headed there. I would get some rest and start in when morning came. The entire town was an ashy mess.

Just inside was a hireling in some bizarre kind of armor. Must be a Dunmer thing. “Teldryn Sero, blade for hire,” he said. “If you have the coin, I’m at your service.”

I nodded to show I heard and looked around the ground level of the inn. The style of building was odd, to say the least. I headed downstairs to speak with the proprietor. He looked to be wide awake so I asked if he’d heard any interesting rumors.

He practically exploded with information. I learned that: the mines had been shut down; some fellow named Ralis wanted help excavating a place called Kolbjorn Barrow; ash spawn attacks were on the rise for some reason; some fellow named Crescius was mucking about in Raven Rock Mine; Reavers were after some fabulous treasure; and there were some werewolves in the mountains that the hunters at Frostmoon Crag might possibly know about.

I waited a few extra seconds to make sure he was done, then bespoke a room and got some sleep. I woke up feeling well rested and utterly confused.

“Here in my shrine,” I heard someone male say. “That you have forgotten.”

I was outside, doing construction work? What in Oblivion? I shook myself out of the daze I was in and looked around. I was standing in a pool of water, working on some kind of stone thing. In the center was a weird pillar. All around me were people hammering away or otherwise occupying themselves with work to build some kind of construct around the central stone.

“That we might remember,” one said.

Then I heard a voice from off to the side, Dunmer if I wasn’t mistaken. “You there. You don’t seem to be in quite the same state as the others here. Very interesting. Ah, so you were able to resist the effect by exerting your will. Fascinating!”

I followed his voice to his location. Dunmer, all right, and finely dressed, too. Mage-style gear. If I knew more about Morrowind and the Dunmer I probably could have figured out which House he was a member of, but no.

“I would not advise touching the stone again,” he continued. “The effects of repeated contact could be. . . . Unless of course you’d like to contribute to my investigation. It could be very enlightening to observe you. May I ask what it is you’re doing here?”

“I’m looking for someone named Miraak,” I replied.

His gaze went all distant. This was becoming tediously familiar. “Miraak. . . . Miraak. . . . It sounds familiar, and yet I can’t quite place. . . . Oh. Wait, I recall. But that makes very little sense. Miraak’s been dead for thousands of years.”

‘Ah, not that kind of distant, then.’ “What does that mean?”

“I’m not sure, but it is fascinating, isn’t it? Perhaps it has some relation to what’s going on here. Quite unexpected. I’m afraid I can’t give you any answers, but there are ruins of an ancient temple of Miraak’s toward the center of the island. If I were you, I’d look there.”

I nodded. “Any idea what these people are doing?”

“Building something, clearly.”

‘Don’t be so damn literal,’ I complained privately.

“And yet they don’t seem to have much to say about it. I’m very interested to find out what happens when they finish.”

“So you haven’t tried stopping it.”

“Certainly not! Doing so would interfere with whatever is going on, and I would be unable to see how this all turns out. Are we done? I thought so.” He sniffed and strode away.

‘Note to self: if you have to deal with that man again, do not agree to any experiments.’

“That world will cease to be,” one of the workers intoned.

I shuddered and headed back into town. The first place I went was the blacksmith. They were usually sensible people with plenty of information. I noticed, as I got closer, that there was a shadowmark next to the door into his building, which was useful information, and I hadn’t even had to speak yet.

“You haven’t seen Crescius Caerellius have you? That foolish old man’s taken my pickaxe again!”

‘Well now. I suppose that’s as good a way as any to ease into conversation.’ “Why all the fuss about a simple pickaxe?”

“No, no, no,” he said, shaking his head. “This isn’t just your run-of-the-mill pickaxe. I’m talking about an Ancient Nordic Pickaxe. They don’t exactly grow on trees, you know. Look, if you see Crescius, tell him to give me that pickaxe back and I’ll pay you for the trouble.”

“Sure. Do you know someone named Miraak?”

“No, I—wait. Maybe. I don’t know how I know that name. . . .”

Back to being tediously familiar. “Which is it? Yes or no?”

“I—I’m not sure. I don’t want to talk about this.”

‘All right, then. Pressing the subject isn’t going to help. Probably no matter who I ask who might be subject to that—whatever it is.’ I asked him to elaborate on the pickaxe, learned about an ore called stalhrim (or, as some called it, “enchanted ice”), and a place called Skaal Village. I then asked him how he ended up in Raven Rock. He explained, and it was moderately interesting, but of little value.

I waited until the Dunmer woman loitering nearby moved off and said quietly, “I noticed the shadowmark by your door.”

“Well, well. It’s been a long time since someone from the Guild’s bothered to make their way out here. So tell me . . . how’s my brother Delvin? Still spending his nights at the Ragged Flagon trying to win Vex’s heart?”

I snickered quietly and said softly, “Ah, no, not a member, but I have had fairly important dealings with Brynjolf, and someone I’m very close to is a good friend of his. But from what I’ve heard, yes, Delvin is still trying. Brother, eh? I’ve only seen him the once. I should have noticed the resemblance.”

He nodded and inspected the blade he was working on. “Damn layabout never even bothers to send his own flesh and blood a letter saying how he’s doing. Can you imagine?”

“From what I understand there’s been rather a lot of trouble over that way, but it’s more or less cleared up now.”

He paused his work and looked at me directly. “Oh?”

“Oh yes. But I think I’d have to speak to Brynjolf first before I got into details. Or get a letter from him to fill you in. Better still, see if my friend will come here at some point to fill you in. It’s not like she told me much.”

“Is she Guild?”

I shook my head. “She somehow managed to form a close friendship with Brynjolf. It’s very much against her personal philosophy to steal, but doesn’t care that others do, if that makes sense.”

He nodded again. “Anyway, if you’re looking for work around here I’ve got bad news. This place is dryer than a damn bone. But if you’re willing to do a retrieval, there’s something needs doing I haven’t been able to handle myself. I unfortunately caused it.”

“I will at least hear you out.”

“A fellow Breton who went by the name Esmond Tyne showed up on my doorstep about a fortnight ago. He noticed the shadowmark like you did, and I thought he was one of us.”

“Ah. And unlike me, he didn’t correct your impression. He stole something from you?”

“That he did,” he said in a chagrined tone. “Right out from under my nose. Can you believe it? It’s my own formula for improved bonemold. Took me years to perfect. Before he ran off he was talking some nonsense about trying to fence goods to the Rieklings at Castle Karstaag. I told him he was crazy to even think about talking to those vicious little buggers, but he wouldn’t listen. I’d bet a fat purse of coin that he’s either dead or hiding out up there.”

“Doesn’t sound too difficult,” I mused out loud. “All right. If I find myself in that area I’ll look into it for you. And retrieve the formula if possible.”

“You do that, and I’ll make sure you’re set up right. You won’t be disappointed. I’m Glover, by the way. You?”

“. . .Ah, I don’t have a name, actually. Just a title. But you can call me Riften if you want. I’m a Thane there, of all places. Or Rift. That works, too, I suppose.”

He gave me a very strange look, then nodded. But then, given that a number of thieves in the Guild used an alias. . . .

I nodded back and, after having him point the way to the mines, hastened off. I walked right into an argument and, when I got too close to the two of them, heard, “Who in the blazes are you!? Can’t you see I’m busy?”

But the woman had called him Crescius, so—“Perhaps I could help.”

“Hmph, maybe. Been difficult trusting people lately, they think I’m crazy. But mark my words, these mines hold a secret that could put Raven Rock back on the map. A secret the East Empire Company swept under the rug two centuries ago. It killed my great-grandfather, and left Raven Rock with a worthless and tainted mine.”

I prompted him for more information and finally summed it up as: take journal, take key, go investigate, bring back “proof”. He also went all distant when I asked about Miraak and I resolved to just not bother asking anyone else. It was obvious that was getting me nowhere, aside from pointing me at the Earth Stone again.

While I was there I said, “Glover wants his Ancient Nordic Pickaxe back.”

“The damn fool doesn’t even deserve to have it! The pickaxe was made for mining, not selling. I’ll bet he stole it from the Skaal in the first place.”

Save me from crusty old men! “What he may or may not deserve is beside the point. It doesn’t belong to you.”

He heaved a sigh and unhooked it from his belt, then handed it over. “Oh, very well. Here. Tell him I hope he drops the thing on his foot. Now, be careful down there. The mine can be treacherous.”

As I headed for the stairs down his wife said, “Why you’re leading Crescius on, I’ll never understand.”

‘I may not come back with anything except “proof” that there’s nothing down there, which is almost as good and might stop your husband from obsessing over this.’ Went down into the mine—there was a path winding around the edges of a deep hole, but—to Oblivion with that. I dropped down off the side.

Found a boarded up tunnel I opened, and beyond that was a locked gate. The key he gave me worked. It led to an ancient Nord tomb. Shouty draugr, water everywhere. I was finding so much ebony gear that I was forced to use my Arch-Mage pouch to store it all. I’d have barely been able to walk otherwise. Also found an open, upright sarcophagus with some weird ice-like stuff in it. Maybe that stalhrim Glover spoke of?

Well, whatever. My normal pick bounced right off the stuff, but the one I needed to return to Glover worked just fine, if at a third of the usual return for the time expended.

Deeper in I wondered, ‘Why is the stone here all scorched? Traps, maybe?’ There were two alcoves visible, or perhaps halls, so maybe one of those mage traps powered by soul gems? It was. A shock trap, but it barely tickled so it was no trouble.

Opened a door into a large room with at least three shouty draugr, so I sent in my summon, over and over and over. Might as well get some experience from the situation. And besides, it was amusing to see a Dremora Lord go arse over teakettle so many times from being hit with Unrelenting Force.

Eventually, though, play time had to end, so I checked behind the waterfall. Eh, it was just a little room with another upright, stalhrim-packed sarcophagus. Went back out and up the stairs, around, over the bridge, and turned a handle-switch. That opened a door back across the bridge.

Found a strange little circular room with a plinth holding an Ice Spike tome. Ignored that and headed up the ramp. At the top was a bow and some arrows. I was feeling suspicious by then. Ahead was one of those floor-to-ceiling wooden barriers, so I skittered over and peeked around the side.

Another soul gem-powered mage trap. Walked right on over to it, and for some reason it didn’t go off. I took the soul gem anyway, just in case. I was presented with a choice farther along. The door? Or the tunnel to my left with wind shrieking through it? I chose the door, but it was disappointing. Just a locked chest inside a tiny, tiny closet of a room.

The tunnel it was!

It was fairly obvious that the slab of stone on the ground right in front of it used to be part of the wall, so the tunnel was a secret at one time. Came out onto a ledge overlooking a large enough cavern. There were two waterfalls going, into a stream. I saw a corpse in the water. A skeleton, what looked like a campsite—a bedroll, at least—and at the far end a massive set of doors, elaborately carved (even the frame, which in itself was massive), and glowing red in places.

If I dropped down I might well not be able to jump back up, but I was willing to risk it. Surely there was a way to get that door open. The stream went underground, so there was no way out that way. The corpse in the water was a draugr. There were additional “dead” draugr around. The skeleton was uninteresting, but there was another one up on the bedroll. That one had a journal and a strange blade.

After reading the journal I had a rough idea what was necessary, so I wielded that massive two-hander and prepared myself. As I started moving sideways I swung it as hard as I could horizontally and watched as a ribbon of red light emerged and traveled over to the door surround. It crashed into it, just about the point where the glowing red line was.

When it hit the entire thing shifted, the red line disappearing, and a new one showing up, but that time vertical and higher up, more over the doors. The final line was straight down the center, at the seam of the doors. It was all some convoluted mage lock. The doors opened to reveal a long hallway, much like the ones found leading to claw key doors, except longer.

And it had a series of swinging blades, three per section, and swinging slightly out of sync with each other. Not a problem. I threw the lever at the end to open the gate and entered another long room. That one had a word wall at the end—I could hear the chanting already. There was a lot of water in the room, in kind of an upside-down U shape. The spit of “land” in the center had a large chest. There were shallow stairs all around, leading up to perimeter paths.

Something about the situation made me nervy. Maybe I was just remembering that one place, where if you went for the chest the floor would drop out from beneath you. I headed for the perimeter and got about half way when—Dragon Priest! Etched into his mask was “Zahkriisos”.

The chest: two septims. The word wall: Mul—Strength. Dragon Aspect? I had no idea. It sure felt interesting, though.

The way out—the right side while I faced back from whence I came (which had been from the left)—had a large chest which I looted, a spiraling ramp upward, and then a pedestal with a very strange book on it. It—well, there was a dark, smoky aura wisping around it and I could hear some sound . . . like a dragon growling in its sleep? Maybe? Or a sabre cat?

I absolutely did not like the way it looked or, well, sounded, so I left it there. If it turned out to be important I could always return. I continued on, eventually coming to a “secret” door with a pullchain.

‘Oh, how surprising,’ I thought. ‘Bandits! I am super hungry, so this is excellent news.’ I looted the place to the bedrock and exited to the outside, killed more bandits, then looked around. ‘I have no damn clue where I am.’ I picked a direction at random and headed along the coast. Soon as I saw the Earth Stone I patted myself on the back for my excellent sense of direction when lost.

I could go speak to Crescius. Well, once it was day. The townsfolk were all hammering away in that dream they were having, or whatever it was. Then I noticed the still smoking Red Mountain off in the distance and realized that gave me at least a vague idea of direction for any other time I got lost. The sky was bright with an aurora borealis, so it wasn’t like it was dark as a pit at night.

Either way, it was a good thing I’d just fed so well and was energized, because I didn’t want to sleep and find myself back at the stone, banging away with a hammer. It was a long, boring wait.

Rain’s Hand, 27th, 4E 202

Found Crescius, handed over the journal I retrieved. He was thrilled, his wife was thrilled, and I got seven hundred fifty septims out of it. Then I spoke to Glover. “So, you tracked him down, eh? Quite a character, isn’t he? Tell you what. Since you went through all the trouble of finding it for me and all, you keep it. I just wanted to remind that codger; you can’t just go around taking things from other people. Now that you’ve delivered the message, I’m satisfied. Besides, that pickaxe hasn’t done me any good in years. Maybe you can put it to good use.”

I nodded and refrained from pointing out the irony of a thief scolding other people for stealing. Then I asked him for directions to that temple. ‘No more delays!’ I thought. ‘The Dragonborn is not known for being ridiculously helpful to random strangers.’

Glover explained the best way to go about things and I set off, and caught myself picking samples of all the interesting and unfamiliar vegetation, then told myself firmly to stop. The Dragonborn did not wander around whimsically picking flowers, or whatever. Passed by a bandit camp, but I wasn’t hungry. I was interested in those glowing ore veins, but they could wait. And then another bandit camp. Skyrim didn’t have this density of crime!

‘I admit it,’ I thought, pausing to have at it with my pickaxe. ‘I have a problem. Those delicious ore veins, they call to me so.’ I must have tapped every damn one I saw on the way to the temple, ones at the bandit camps excluded.

Stumbled over those hunters the barkeep spoke of, but I didn’t stop to chat. Besides, I could smell that they were weres, and there was every chance they’d be as unfriendly as Vilkas had been at first.

Well now. I came at the temple from off the beaten path. As I looked down from my lofty perch I could see three—no, four—dragon skeletons on the ground at the base of the trail that led up toward the temple. Looking left I could see even more of them. Someone obviously had some fun in the distant past.

There were a number of workers there, hammering away in a daze. I drained the ones that were obviously bandits, but the remainder? They were all dressed to a type, and it wasn’t armor they were wearing. I left those ones alone.

The Temple of Miraak
Rain’s Hand, 27th, 4E 202

At the center of the place was a woman who was not in a daze. She kept going from person to person, pleading with them to stop, to wake up. Naturally, I spoke with her.

“You there. What brings you to this place? Why are you here?” she asked. “I am Frea of the Skaal. I am here to either save my people, or avenge them.”

“Save them from what?” I asked, glancing at one of the workers. “What is wrong with them?”

“I am unsure. Something has taken control of most of the people of Solstheim. It makes them forget themselves, and they work on these horrible creations that corrupt the Stones, the very land itself. My father Storn, our shaman, says Miraak has returned to Solstheim, but that is impossible.”

“This Miraak tried to have me killed,” I said.

“Then you and I both have reason to see what lies beneath us. Let us go. There is nothing more I can do here. The Tree Stone and my friends are beyond my help for now. We need to find a way into the temple below.”

I nodded in agreement and started to check around, but was stopped by the sound of stone grating against stone. Then I heard them. I tracked the sound and found a curving downward pathway, and took care of the cultists who had boiled out. We then went inside.

It was a long journey, and we kept going deeper and deeper. I had started to feel like we would go so far we’d emerge on the other side of the world. There were plenty of draugr, including the shouty ones, and traps, including more swinging blades. For that room Frea waved me on ahead.

“You have a much better chance than I to make it through these,” she said, though why she thought that I was unsure. “I have no doubt that lever turns these blades off. I shall wait here for now.” Then she sat down in a safe spot.

I was having flashbacks to dealing with Delphine and Esbern, actually. I sped past the blades and threw the lever and waited for her to get up and catch up. I also picked up the second word to that new Shout: Qah—Armor. That, at least, made what it did a bit more clear to me. In that same room we fought another handful of draugr. One—the one that cracked out of the center sarcophagus—was a shouty sort, and he had a key. The back of his resting place was a locked door.

Deeper and deeper—the temple was ridiculously deep—and the statues that started to appear were creeping me out. And there was Frea, still waving a hand and letting me do the dangerous things. I rather wanted to growl at her, or maybe “accidentally” Shout at her.

And then, we came to a spot at the end of a very long room. It had a statue there that gave me the wibblies. It reminded me very strongly of Hermaeus Mora. There was a secret door behind it, and through that, down at the end of a very long, rounded, winding tunnel, was another book.

“There are dark magics at work here,” Frea said. “Ready yourself. This book. . . . It seems wrong, somehow. Here, yet . . . not. It may be what we seek.”

And I would be the one using it, of course. It had the same smoky aura wisping away from it. I heard the same rumbling growl. I was very much tempted to just walk away, but—I went ahead and picked it up.

And lost control of my actions. I opened it—the title was Waking Dreams of a Starless Sky—and bands of symbols wrapped around me, crafted from green light, that turned into tentacles. The next thing I knew I was elsewhere, in the darkness.

“The time comes soon when. . . . What?”

My vision began to return. I could see someone, in a mask not unlike the one the cultists wore. This was Miraak? To either side of him were strange, floating creatures. The figure turned and I was lashed with lightning and sent to my knees, still not quite aware enough to stay fully upright.

“Who are you to dare set foot here?”

And then my vision cleared entirely. He was a Dragon Priest, so the odds of him being Miraak were excellent. The creatures were nightmare abominations. Behind all of them was a dragon and a tower.

“Ah. . . . You are Dragonborn. I can feel it. And yet. . . . So you have slain Alduin.”

‘How can he tell? Does he have someone whispering in his head or something?’

“Well done. I could have slain him myself, back when I walked the earth, but I chose a different path. You have no idea of the true power a Dragonborn can wield! Mul Qah Diiv!” he Shouted. He took on a ghostly semblance of . . . armor? With horns.

“This realm is beyond you. You have no power here. And it is only a matter of time before Solstheim is also mine. I already control the minds of its people. Soon they will finish building my temple, and I can return home.” He turned away and said to his minions, “She can await my arrival with the rest of Tamriel.”

As he walked away toward the dragon the minions floated over to me. They were even more disgusting up close, with tentacles where legs should have been, four withered arms, and what looked like a very strange mouth at their middles. They began lashing me with repeated casts of lightning as Miraak mounted the dragon, and as he flew away I sank into darkness again.

“What happened to you?” I heard Frea ask. “You read the book and then. . . . It seemed as though you were not really here. I could see you, but also see through you!”

‘Well,’ I thought muzzily. ‘That explains one thing. They “killed” me, yet I live. I just ended up back here is all.’ “I’m not entirely sure. I saw Miraak fly away on a dragon.”

“Where? Where is he? Can we reach him? Can we kill him?”

The way she said “kill” was disturbing, which was an odd thing for a vampire to think.

“Somehow, reading this book took me to where he was.”

“This is a dangerous thing, then. We should return to my village, and show this to my father. Perhaps Storn can make sense of what is going on. Come, there looks to be a way out through here.”