Every time I leave the safety of the Hollow City for the blighted azure wastes of Coldharbour, I find I am forced into making a choice between one life or another. First there was the fate of the lost Argonian tribe at Haj Uxith. Then the exiles war between the Lamias and the Shadow Walkers at The Moonless Walk. But now here at this Vile Laboratory I find myself faced with the most onerous choice of them all; who is to live or die between two equally worthy souls. The one rationale I have to guide me is perhaps the most uncivilized of all; whom benefits my cause the most.
When they arrived in Coldharbour, the Dark Elf mage Gadris, and the Khajiit alchemist Zur were captured by Dremora. In insidious procedure at this Vile Laboratory, their souls were melded together in one body. This soul-meld has weakened them such that If they are not soon separated then they will both surely die. But only one can survive the separation.
If you have ever witnessed the majesty of the sunrise over the forests of Southern Elsweyr, then one could surely never choose against the Khajiit. Yet if you have seen the wondrous ashen skies above Vardenfell in twilight, then how could you choose any above the Dunmer.
I cannot see the future, I have no scroll or spell to predict or judge who will better serve the kismet of Tamriel. Conscience and compassion are all I have to guide me, but alas that they are both tainted by my own experience and prejudice. I resent the Dremora for their cruel experiment, I resent Zur and Gadris for becoming their victims, but most of all… most of all I resent myself for this bigot’s choice.
To the east of the Hollow City lies the bleakest of land, haunted by sombre mists from morn till eventide. The sun, such as it is, appears only beamless and pale. The earth beneath is as contrary as an Altmer’s heart, either a quaggy sludge, or as hard as iron. Life is sparse. Occasionally the coarse chatter of a scamp, or the guttural bellow of a dremora may be heard upon the the chill winds that blow invisible without leaf or bush to see. But there are no timid critters in these dead forests, crouching, hiding under grassy lair. No doe that startles at passer-by, caught betwixt instinct, to bolt or stand and stare. No dogs that bark at foreboding unseen. No moody Guar foraging, oblivious to anything but sating greed. Yet this is no land of quiet and peace, for the uproar of nefarious Industry hums deep beneath the blackened arches, into which no entrance can be found. This is an unpromised land of winter’s twilight, from where all hope ebbs, and wishes flee in disbelief.
In a hidden subterranean ruin deep in the bleak of Western Coldharbour I discover members of the Worm Cult laboriously searching through the debris. These ruins are thought to have been the very crypts of Abagarlas, once the bastion of Molag Bal worshippers in Merithic era Cyrodiil.
It was perhaps naive of me to hope that with the lose of their founder, that vile thief Mannimarco, the Order of the Black Worm might crumble and ne’er be heard from again. Recent reports from home read that they still occupy the Arcane University and hold Clivia Tharn under their sway, whilst their necromancers continue to torment the provinces of Tamriel.
What this Altmer Cirterisse and her subordinates are searching for is unclear. I wonder, are they still holding loyal in enterprise to their former ally Molag Bal, or are they here without the Lord of Brutality’s knowledge?
Perhaps they already search for a way to liberate their wretched King from whatever damnation he has been sentenced to. Their yearning for somebody with zeal and ambition to save them doesn’t simply go away. For what are cults truly but desperate people huddling together out of fear of nothingness.