Hidden amongst the lakeside ruins of Jackdaw Cove I discover a Wyress gently tending to a sickly spriggan. There used to be hundreds of spriggans cavorting between the trees here, as in most of the forests of Tamriel, but according to the Wyress this is the last spriggan in Jackdaw Cove; the rest having been corrupted into lurchers by the vile magics of the Reachmen.
I have no affection or affinity for spriggan. They attack me without cause, they rouse their forest companions against me, and they spit their sap at me as I ride by. I feel their enmity and hatred toward me more severely then from any other being on Nirn, indiginious or daedric, and it disturbs me, because they hate me for what I am, not who I am.
And yet… and yet I cannot let this spriggan die without at least making some effort to save it.
But it is not for pity or empathy for the spriggan, the Wyress, or the forest. Nor to spite the insidious interlopers from the Reach. It’s not even for Tamriel herself and her balance of nature; the idea that the loss of the spriggans from the forests of northern Bangkorai might in some deterministic manner have a negative effect upon the rest of the country.
No, not for any of these reasons, It is for me. Because when I lost my soul I was left with a sense of unrelenting emptiness deep inside me, but that abrading emptiness soon became filled by the echoes of my conscience in such vociferous clarity, that I have long forgot the sound of peace.
The dark woods north of Halcyon Lake are full of crumbling forts and towers long ago garrotted by the wilds; but now the woods themselves are being strangled and chocked by the monstrous vines of the Reach.
Uela the Hagraven and her vile clan of Dark Witnesses threaten both the Viridian Woods and the Breton city of Evermore from their camp here in the dark forest. It is from the Jackdaw Cove that the black crows of the Reach fly.
In the past the Wyress might have had the knowledge and craft to drive back the Reachmen, but they no longer have any power here as the Witness’s foul totums suppress the forest magic. I posses the strength and skill to fight the wildmen, but I have not the knowledge of the land to stop their magics, or even find the Hagraven.
Only by working together can the sisters of the Wyrd and I hope to drive out the Reachmen and reclaim this forest. We share no bond of friendship or trust, only a common enemy. This most reluctant of unions must be like the waves of a moving sea between two shores, we each need to have faith that the other side will do their part.
Exploring abandoned delves in High Rock is a risky business, just ask Gluineth, a Bosmer girl I find locked in a cell in a former prison, now commonly known by locals as the Troll’s Toothpick.
The name is rather apt since a troll clan has taken up residence in the old Mournoth dungeon, abandoned since the Knahaten Flu epidemic, where they feast upon rats, skeevers and any bandits stupid enough to come searching for loot in an abandoned delve in troll country.
Perhaps as she waits upon the docks for passage down the bay, Gluineth will reflect upon just how close she came to becoming a toothpick herself, and find herself a less risky business by which to earn a living.
Climbing the steps I struggle for breath as an unnaturally chill wind howls about the crumbling ruins, and the stench of damp moss rises from the ancient stonework. Then I spy him, the ghost of Lakewatch Tower floating between the trees whose twisted branches seem to reach out for comfort like contorted bones in some terrible silent torment. Beside him are his only companions for so many centuries, the spirits of his wolf-children who died by his own hands.
Garach Wolf-Father stopped before the tower. A luminous cloud-like figure, yet it’s eyes and mouth are as black as the night sky. I watch his lips curl upwards at my wary approach in something akin to a smile. The desolate figure beckons me on.
Cursed to know only eternal anger, loathing, and hatred; this is one ghost that cannot be saved.
The spell over Kerbol’s Hollow is breaking and the longer Draven remains wild and free, the weaker it will become. A hero is expected to make tough judgements, weighing the freedoms of a few against that of others, or the life of one, against that of many. But I am no hero, I am just a hypocrite with a double-edged blade.
For it is deeply uncomfortable to admit, but I think if I were Draven I would do just as he. I’d sacrifice this whole damned village and fight to my very last breath rather then live out my days incarcerated like a chained animal in this binding spell of Kerbol’s.
So with every compunctious hack and slash of my blade that cleaves and sunders at the werewolf’s skin and sinew, I hew away more of my own too frayed conscience. And with my final thrust that pierces the werewolves heart, Draven falls lifeless at my feet and I whisper upon the winds to my lost soul, ‘there by the grace of the Eight lay I’.