I arrive at the Lightless Oubiette, a Daedric mockery of the White-Gold Tower that’s only purpose seems to be for the eternal imprisonment of servants of Meridia; or ‘the Shining Bitch’ as she is affectionately known around these parts.
The sole detainee I find turns out to be none other then the legendary Ayleid King Laloriaran Dynar, who has been held captive by the darkness for almost three thousand years. And yet I met him not so long ago on the ancient battle-torn moors of Glenumbra, when the Mages Guild took me a step back in time to discover how to overcome the murderous Camlorn Were-beast Faolchu. I wrote of him that ‘I do not believe I have ever met man nor mer possessed of such dignity and equanimity.’ Three thousand years hence, and I stand by that statement still.
And so I make my return to the Hollow City together with the Last King of the Ayleids, and armed with the knowledge that however much we may be afraid of the dark, these creatures of darkness have far more reason to fear the light.
Sometimes on our journey we are forced to choose a side in order to get what we need. There are times like at Haj Uxith where one must choose the side which feels the least wrong, and there are other times like here in the Moonless Walk where one must choose between two sides who both feel wrong. Perhaps neither the Shadow Walkers or the Lamia are the monsters they seem, maybe they are but two sides of the same coin, either way it is as well to look at both, before one commits to either.
The Bosmer girl seems sincere in her desire, and her people would certainly prove strong allies in our battles ahead. But Captain Alphaury was hunted through these woods and killed in cold blood by these Shadow Walkers. How many other of our guild members have they slaughtered in the same manner? And yet they have proven their faithfulness in blindly honouring their age old pact with the Lord of Brutality; and honour, faithfulness and sincerity are qualities I hold above all else.
The Lamia speak truths, and in many ways they are but victims. They did not ask to come to this accursed realm, nor did they make pacts with daedric princes. And they did not hunt my people through these woods like animals. Yet can I truly trust their motives, for they are but beasts, and have no concept of honour, faithfulness and sincerity.
Throughout these woods I have tried to keep my blade clean and attempt not to become a tool for either side in their conflict, yet destiny has a way of folding the corners so you become implicit, and even though there is no blood on my blade, the final actions of the Lamia has soaked my conscience crimson.
To Oblivion with all of them, may they all rot in these damnable woods together.
It is said of Coldharbour, that it is but a perversion of Nirn; like a reflection in a broken mirror, or an echo in a spiralling cavern. If this be so then perhaps this debauched cave is the Dremora’s impression of a High Rock tavern, or a Morrowind Corner Club.
Whatever its true purpose, the Dremora here seem to gain most pleasure from making the Soul Shriven dance and play music till they drop from exhaustion. Without question a most repugnant form of entertainment, especially when you hear how badly the Soul Shriven play.
There are some choices you have to make where there seems no right option, you just have to choose which choice feels the least wrong. For the Argonian village of Haj Uxith, it was their Hist Tree that made the most raw and uncomfortable of choices in making a bargain with the Lord of Brutality to save its tribe.
Now stranded in this land of eternal shadows, with their Hist Tree poisoned by the noxious Coldharbour environment, and kept weak by the Daedra harvesting its sap for insidious purpose, it is time for the tribe to reciprocate, and make the right choice for their Hist.
To say you cannot choose, or you have no choice is but to relieve yourself of responsibility, and as the Argonian proverb says, ‘You cannot cross the swamp merely by standing and staring into its waters.’ Yet this tribe finds itself so ideologically split that it cannot make the choice it needs to.
Would that I could walk away and leave them to make this choice themselves, but in doing so I would only in fact be making that choice for them, for they would be bound to accept their situation. So swiftly and without procrastination I make their choice, and hope that it may be the least wrong.
There is no greater place in all Tamriel to shelter from the rain then in a library. They are full of small windows through which we can see glimpses into other lives, and other experiences. They are archives of dreams, where we can share the hopes, and hearts of all men and mer, no matter politics or religion. We may sit in our local libraries and yet at the same time be in any quarter of Nirn or beyond. They are temples for our minds, taverns for our souls; and they can be anything that we can imagine.
Yet perhaps only in Coldharbour can be found a library turned into a prison.
Members from the mages guild expedition have been locked in the Library of Dusk by Dremora, held not by lock and key, but by spell and glamour. It is whilst here that I discover the famed Telenger the Artificer’s reputation for brutish brilliance is precisely as I read it to be. But more importantly, we also discover one of the fabled Lights of Merida; a source of power which the daedric prince used to push her city into the eternal crepuscule of Coldharbour.