530. The Great Shackle

530 (a). The Great Shackle

The Moorings of the Great Shackle of Coldharbour. Never had I imagined such monstrous power, and much like its daedric laird, it is a power wholly without conscience or empathy. We must risk our all to stop it here and now whilst we have the opportunity. For mortals, whose whole life is but a flicker of a candle to a Daedric Prince, opportunity is the most precious of all things; and with every opportunity comes responsibility, not necessarily to achieve, but to try.

530 (b). The Great Shackle

Responsibility to the next whom they send against this machine, who will likely be less capable then us. Responsibility to the many thousands who stood side by side, back to back with their Banner enemies under the shadows of the Dark Anchors to hold back the Planemeld. Responsibility to the lost members of the guilds whose bodies now litter the azure wastes of Coldharbour. And responsibility to all our family and friends who back in Tamriel know not what comes.

530 (f). The Great Shackle

It is our responsibility to hold back the daedra whilst the great mage Vanus Galerion sets his mind to destroying the Shackle. Two portals open from which wave upon wave of hawkish creatures emerge. We fight and hold the line again and again, and eventually the machine begins to crumble. Finally with crash and blast it collapses, destroying the portals and our triumph is heralded by the most vociferous silence I have ever heard.

But alas we are too late… The Planar Vortex, the convergence of our two worlds, has already began. We have achieved the impossible, and yet we have achieved nothing.

530 (j). The Great Shackle


529. Unlikely allies

529 (a). Unlikely allies529 (b). Unlikely allies

There is no other way now but forward. Molag Bal’s vampires and daedra will be regrouping behind us, and it cannot be long before the vile prince sends reinforcements. So on, on, in the hope that we may achieve together what the great mage alone could not.

Fortunately we make some unlikely allies in the tunnels surrounding the Great Shackle. Sage Tirora and Treva are two Nords from the Rift who were victims of Reachmen and cultists. Together with the improbable knight Sir Cadwell, this most motley crew now stand the very doors of the Moorings of the Great Shackle.

An arrogant mage, two deceased Nords, a befuddled knight, and a soulless legionnaire, surely such a curious band as we cannot hope to bring down the Lord of Brutality’s most prized contrivance; yet here we stand together, perhaps Tamriel’s best, last chance. Maybe it is the fewer the better, for if we had arrived at the Black Forge with an army, we would no doubt have been met by an army in kind. Maybe we are exactly the few that are needed.

Some might call it destiny, others fate, others still serendipity. I would have happily gone along with any of those explanations for our unlikely circumstance… until Cadwell showed up. Now I strongly suspect providence. A Divine hand of one who would take much pleasure from the sabotaging of Molag Bal’s greatest machination. Even if we are somehow to survive this day, I do not believe we will ever know the why.


528. The restoration of Vanus Galerion

528 (a). The restoration of Vanus Galerion

The three circling orbs of light lead me through the tunnels of the Black Forge towards their master, the essences of Vanus Galerion seemingly as desperate to reunite with their corporeal patriarch, as he is with them. However, I find standing between the literal heart-warming reunion is the feared dremoran leader Kothutuik and his pet Clannfear. Ever noble to his ignoble command, for a dremora to ascend to such a high position of responsibility in their martial society, is to climb over the bodies of those ahead.

It is the very pride and arrogance of the immortal dremora that makes them such formidable foes, but is also their greatest weakness. For their lack of mortal humility has led to an inability to learn from the failures and successes of themselves and others. It is perhaps too shallow a thing to say that once you have conquered one dremoran warlord you have conquered them all. Yet it is certainly true that all those I have faced in battle have been most akin in both strengths and weaknesses. Mortals only learn to survive by learning from from those who didn’t. I suspect if all dremora were made mortal for a day, they would be near extinct by sunset.

That Galerion survived capture and endured for so long is indeed impressive, but more so is that once made whole again, he is determined to push forward with his mission. Has he never heard of the old Redguard saying, ‘You don’t drown by falling in the water, you drown by staying there.’ It is here perhaps we find the starkest difference between mortal and dremora. For a mortal hero is one willing to sacrifice themselves so that others survive, the dremoran hero only survives by sacrificing others.


527. The Black Forge foundry

527 (a). The Black Forge foundry

I reach the foundry to find Galerion’s Magicka being siphoned directly into the forge, where it is being used to fuel the numerous daedric machines that creak and heave with steam and oil, the breath and blood of Molag Bal’s industrial war.

527 (e). The Black Forge foundry

Just like the dremora that work them however, these machines exist solely to serve a purpose, to make difficult into routine. They feel neither love nor hate as we do, and despite what damage they inflict upon our lands, and their own, they are incapable of pity or remorse. They are neither “good” nor “evil”, they simply are.

The machines are not our enemy, and neither are the daedra; for all their power and size they are but tools for the God of Schemes. Yet the only way to stop the industrial onslaught is to break them, and this is my purpose, and it too is neither “good” nor “evil”, it simply is.

527 (i). The Black Forge foundry


526. The slave quarters

526 (a). The slave quarters526 (b). The slave quarters

Slaves do not last long in the Black Forge, the work is relentless, and perilous, and the taskmasters are merciless in their agency. Since they began draining the captured mage Vanus Galerion’s stamina to vitalize their slaves however, the soul-shriven have been lasting markedly longer. I forget which House Dres Grandmaster it was who said, ‘It is a poor master that allows his slaves to sink into such a state that he has to feed them, instead of being fed by them.’

I cannot save every slave in Coldharbour, and these soul-shriven are perhaps now too far broke, their spirits sunk too deeply into the abyssal malaise of drudgery… but they are not yet feral. If I can kill their Taskmaster, I pray that they still have enough resolve and desire left within them to take the opportunity to save themselves, just as I did from the Wailing Prison.

526 (h). The slave quarters526 (i). The slave quarters