Sir Hughes lies in a comatose state, his mind now fully subjugated to whatever power has been influencing his recent crimes. I cannot, will not, condemn a sleeping man. It seems I myself must enter his dream-state to repel whomever, or whatever holds his mind bewitched.
People believe that just because we cannot physically touch them, taste them, feel them, that our dreams aren’t real; but they are. They are made of perception, of imagination, of memories, and of hopes both lost and won.
I dream of dragons, yet I’ve never seen one; I dream of kisses, I have never once tasted. I dream of songs, I have never heard sung; and I dream of souls, yet I have none.
It is said that the difference between a good man and a bad one is the choice of their cause, but that’s only partially true, as the perspective of the victor is the interpreter of all history.
I do not believe that Sir Croix is a bad man. He may truly believe that he is fulfilling his duty as a Knight of the Flame to protect the people of Alcaire by attacking the Redguards. Or perhaps like Sir Hughes, he may have fallen under the insidious influence of another.
The point is, it doesn’t matter his reasons or his cause; in the end the only difference between a good man and a bad one is whether or not he wins the day.
Soldiers by their very natures are as stoic as cattle stood in the rain. So what we must ask of these Knights today is to go against their nature and disobey direct orders from their officers. To follow their heads instead of their hearts, and to choose their Covenant over their commander. That some may stubbornly choose to follow orders does not make them my enemy. I shall harbour no less respect for those who draw swords against us today, as I shall for those who choose to fight with us.
The Khajiit have a proverb they like to call ‘the Baandari Fork’. It is the story of a Baandari peddler travelling through Nordic lands who comes to a fork in the road. Both paths of the fork will eventually end in the same destination, but whilst one road leads straight through a military encampment, the other is open and unguarded. Choosing the encampment would most likely lead to a significant loss of stock and profit to overzealous taxation and bigoted extortion. Following the unguarded road however would be to risk losing everything to the infamous highway robbers who were known to prowl those roads uncontested. It is a choice between two very undesirables; a dilemma.
And it is just such a ‘Baandari Fork’ that faces each and every Knight of the Flame this day. Their choice will be sure to shake the very foundations of Firebrand Keep, and possibly change the future of High Rock and Tamriel forever.
Approached from the high road of Northern Stormhaven, Firebrand Keep looks little more than an atrophied ruin. A crumbling monument of a once noble order whose reputation is as buckled as its battlements.
Yet when I arrive inside the stronghold, I find the inner keep fully functioning and intact. The Knights follow their habitual duty whilst the keep’s retinue maintain property and order. Despite its dilapidated outer walls, this home of the Knights of the Flame is built upon stoic foundation.
Just outside of Firebrand Keep there stands the dilapidated ruin of an old watchtower. Upon closer inspection I discover a trapdoor leading down to subterranean chambers perhaps once used as barracks or storage, although the presence of stocks and heavy iron gates suggest that it may also have served a more disquieting purpose. I hear voices upon the dank and fusty air and remember that nothing abandoned in these lands will remain unoccupied for long.
It appears a group of bandits led by a Breton and a Khajiit have made occupation of the ruin, but to what intent? Scraps of messages found on table and corpse intimate only that mutiny and unrest amongst their number undermines whatever insidious ambitions they might have.