Beyond the gouge and waterfalls I delve to the deepest chambers of Skyreach Hold from where Exarch Arnoth holds court. His chamber is bare but for the ornately carved pillars and piles of grounded nirncrux. It is either as a result of inadvertent overexposure, or via deliberate consumption, that the Scaled Court leader appears to be glowing with a peculiar scarlet radiance.
Through necessity of fate, we battle, me with sword and shield, him with storm and fire. It is not long before I learn that Arnoth’s consumption of Nirncrux is indeed with intent, for as we battle he summons glowing orbs of crimson energy that seem to imbue him with an ever increasing strength. They say that power attracts the worst and corrupts the best. Now I am not saying that Exarch Arnoth is either of these, but the measure of any man is what he does when he first tastes power. Like a Nord’s first flagon of mead however, it is not that first intoxicating taste that corrupts, but the fear of never tasting it again.
Eventually the nircrux seems to overwhelm Arnoth’s last shred of mortal wit, and he abandons his magics and begins to attack wildly with fist and broil, all whilst ranting maniacally. Inevitably in the end Exarch Arnoth fell to my blade, because no mater how much nirncrux he imbued, and how powerful he felt, he failed to comprehend that power should never be an end in itself, only a tool to be used to reach an end.
Most of his ranting and raving was that of an intoxicated sot, but there was one thing he said that has stuck with me, “Like the Celestials before me, I was mortal and am now something more.” Was he truly claiming that the Celestials were once mortals that somehow transcended, or were elevated, to the heavens? Were it not for the Dark Elves outlandish, yet vehement claims about the legitimacy of their “Tribunal”, I might have felt safe in dismissing his rant as but reverie.
Would it be at all surprising that the greatest truths of Tamriel are found not in books, but in the ravings of a madman?