188. Hidden motives

188 (a). Hidden motives188 (b). Hidden motives188 (c). Hidden motives188 (d). Hidden motives188 (e). Hidden motives188 (f). Hidden motives188 (g). Hidden motives

I receive word from Shalidor that Valaste of the Mages guild has managed to translate Sheogorath’s book, and they have need of my blade and shield once more.

The Arch-mage opens a portal for us to what is reputedly the most aberrant realm of Oblivion, the Shivering Isles.  We are met by the serf Haskill, who has been awaiting us with instructions to retrieve two relics from the past.  In doing so we must face two legendary figures, the dragon priest Korthor, and Prince Maleel, the Scythe of Yokuda.

Clearly we have been led to this Mad Lord’s realm to play for his entertainment, but there is something more beyond, some hidden motivation for sending us upon tasks which the Prince of Madness could achieve far quicker himself.

The temple priests would have us believe that the motives of the Gods are beyond mortal comprehension, and hide their ignorance behind meaningless expressions like ‘the Gods move in mysterious ways’.  To simply accept without question makes us little more than a drift of sheep spending our entire lives being driven from wolf maw, to durzog maw.  There is always some unspoken motive to be revealed, and no matter whether they be mortal, immortal, or divine, it is a motive as primitive and animalistic in its nature as pride, greed, lust, envy or wrath.

As a young man back in Cyrodill, such naive motives led me into a fist-fight with an Orc in a fair-ground fighting pit.  It was there I learned that some games are not about winning, but simply about surviving.  About taking everything your opponent has to throw at you and still be standing at the end.  It is what we mortals do, we endure, no matter the odds we keep on playing the game, because some games are not about the winning, it’s about not losing.

I will not lose this game to the Mad God, and come the end, whatever end, I shall still be standing.


187. The Cloudy Dregs Inn

187 (a). The Cloudy Dregs inn

187 (i). The Cloudy Dregs inn

There is an old Colovian adage which says, ‘the traveller loses a small piece of his heart in every city tavern’.  Certainly, most travellers believe that the heart of every town is its tavern, but in truth, any that has spent time living amongst Bretons will tell you that the heart of any High Rock town is most definitely its treasury.

The innkeeper of the Cloudy Dregs inn, Cherese Brigette, offers a warm welcome to all irrespective of race or stature.  No matter the time of day or night her bar is always full of weary travellers hungry for refreshment and rumour, and of regulars thirsting to forget their misery, heal heart, and imagine themselves, for a while at least, happy.

On most nights a visitor might get to meet Annabelle, the attractive dusky barmaid who seems to sup more then she sells; whilst almost a fixture sitting by the hearth one might find the sea captain Marck who never sets sail.

In a room on the first floor the Midnight Union’s moneylender has a chain of prospective clientele anxiously awaiting audience.  Word on the street is that S’rashi has work for any adventurer looking to earn a few extra coins, so long as you are willing to leave your morals at the tavern door.

The bard Oceane’s melodious voice fills the tavern with ballads and odes from all over Tamriel, whilst very occasionally, if you are so lucky, you might get to witness the mysterious Khajiit Arincra Shadowfur take to the stage and perform her hypnotic Two Moons dance; but beware, you wouldn’t be the first traveller to lose a small piece of your heart in the Cloudy Dregs Inn.


186. Wayrest, city of echoes

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The history of Wayrest has kept tavern bards across Tamriel well fed and wetted for generations.  Once but a trifling fishing village sitting atop the mouth of the Bjoulsae River, now the grandiose capitol of all Breton lands, and the heart of Emeric’s Covenant.

Wayrest is a city of echoes.  As you ride through her imposing gates you perceive the weight of that history in her stoic walls, her every street is an interpretation of this age, and her every building is a story set in stone.  She is a city that rouses the ambitious for good and ill; hated by Ranser, coveted by the Black Drake, envied by Daggerfall, mistrusted by Orsinium.  She is a flirtation that haunts the hearts of all who see her grim beauty. 

The Summerset Elves say that Breton architecture is all alike, as if there were only one architect in all Stormhaven who had a very singular obsession.  But unlike the high elves, Breton’s appreciate that buildings should serve people, not the other way around.  Societies raise their highest monuments to what their people value the most; thus it is that the Wayrest skyline is dominated by the treasury, temple, and castle.

But a great city is not gauged by its broadness, or the height of its minarets.  What makes a city great is its people, as flawed and fickle and uncertain as they may be.  Wayrest is a city of merchant and maker, of traveller and adventurer, of diplomat and soldier, of artist and bard, of blacksmith and tailor, of alchemist and apothecary, of brewer and baker and of noble and scullion.  It is a city of Bretons; yet also of Orcs, of Redguard, of Elves, of Cyrodiilics, of Nord, and of Beastmen.  It is a city of all Tamriel, and within it all may find brotherhood, and a sense of our dependence, one upon another.


185. Encountering the Dreugh

185. Encountering the Dreugh

To most people the crustacean race of Dreugh are an enigma.  Common belief is that whilst they usually inhabit the coastal waters, for a year of their lives they will migrate inland to breed.  Favouring mud, marsh and river bank, it is not unknown for Dreugh to have been encountered as far inland as Cyrodiil.  Some scholar’s however have argued that the Land and Water Dreugh are in fact two distinct species.

The Dunmeri, who hunt Dreugh for their hide with which they fashion weapon and armour, teach that the Dreugh were actually devolved from a far more intelligent race that once dominated Tamriel.  According to their histories, colonies of Dreugh once lived in stone, glass and coral structures, but have since devolved into the more primitive creatures we see today as a direct result of centuries of conflict with the Dark Elves.

Histories are sometimes written not for prosperity, but for propaganda.  The sceptic might suggest that the Dreugh were once far more common before the Dark Elves voracious hunting drove them into more coastal fringes, and that the myth of the great Dreugh civilization is but an embroidery of the truth intended to impress upon outsiders the potential dangers of future disagreements with the Dunmeri.  

The sole truth about Dreugh of which I am now certain is that those I battled in Dreughside today fully lived up to their reputation as ferocious and dangerous enemies.  Their serrated claws and sharp pincers are enough to shred and lacerate even the most well armoured Knight; but it is their powerful shock and lightning attacks that are more likely to catch the inexperienced off-guard, leaving them unconscious and helpless to prevent the Dreugh from cocooning their still living bodies in mud to feed their hatchling young.


184. Abominable bones

A goblin tribe has infested the catacombs beneath Pariah Abbey, setting up camps inside and outside of the tomb.  Members of the Spirit Warden order have been sent to investigate, but thus far none have returned.  Once these were the principle burial grounds for Stormhaven’s nobility, now just another of High Rocks derelict mausoleums slowly eroding away into forgotten yore.

I enter the catacombs half of the opinion that perhaps we should just leave the green skins to their pit; let them rot down here with the rats and crawlers.  But soon I find evidence that there is something far, far worse than mere goblin and durzog prowling beneath this Abbey.

In the nethermost chamber I spy it, the animated bones of a dead being.  Taller than an Altmer, perhaps even broader then an Orc; it was difficult to fully gage its size as it was stooped over the remains of numerous goblin dead.  I began to creep closer but soon I was stopped dead in my tracks by an unexpected sight which filled me with equal measure of revile and horror.  The skeleton was feasting upon the flesh of the dead!

Even the most odious realms of Oblivion has yet to spawn such an abomination as this.  There is no nourishment to reap for the skeleton, no digestion, no hunger to sate, even the zombie feeds for sustenance.  This thing was feeding upon mortal flesh for desecration sake.

I charge and take the abomination unaware, but swiftly it becomes apparent that thrust and parry cannot win this fight.  Even a clean strike from my Orichalc-wrought blade could not so much as make a knick in the skeleton’s ribs.  But sword and shield are not my only weapons.  I began training in the traditions of the Dragonguard when I first entered the Legion.  I believe with much discipline endued, I now wield Draconic flames with such art that might shame a flame atronach, or rouse envy from a Dunmar pyromancer.

Nothing of Nirn is infrangible, it is the first principle of a mortal realm, all that is kindled will eventually burn to ash.