In the deepest chambers of the Dwemer ruins of Mtharnaz I find the Skystone Amulet which the Star-Gazers believe can help us gain access to the Warrior’s Apex Stone in Kardala. The Scaled Court, as the followers of the insidious Serpent are known, have weakened the Warrior’s Stone with their magics. The Celestial Thief hopes that the aetherial energy from the Mundus stones of the Warrior’s celestial charges, the Lord, the Lady, and the Steed, will allow us to loosen the Serpent’s grip on the Warrior, in much the same way as we did for the Celestial Mage beneath Elinhir.
It is rather strange when we are told that the Dwarves had a far deeper appreciation of astronomy then the scholars of today, that they chose to build so many of their settlements deep underground. Did the Dwarves fear the gaze of Aetherius that much? Or to take this tavern theory a few mugs deeper, could it be that the Dwemer astronomers foresaw the corruption of the Celestials centuries before? Or could they have perceived a far worse threat from the skies above that has yet to come to pass?
Wild hokum and conjecture of course, but all arrows with which to pique and rile the pompous saloon scholars of the Crossroads Tavern the next time I have an evening to sate.
Another day and another Dwarven ruin in Hammerfell. Other then the most studious of scholars, it is perhaps only the treasure hunter that fully appreciates the vast scale of the Dwemer civilization across Tamriel, and just how seismic and monumental must have been their sudden, unexplained disappearance.
The broad and tall caverns of Mtharnaz seem unsuitable for a place of domicile, yet these ruins also lack the giant furnaces, pipes and work stations that suggest it might have once been a place of manufacture. And whilst there appears to be what looks like an ancient orrey, there are no other furnishings or fittings to imply that this may have been a place of study either. What was Mtharnaz’s purpose is now alas a mystery. If only these Dwemer constructs had a voice, of what wonderments they would sing.
The automatons still roaming the tunnels do not enjoy complete dominion over Mtharnaz however, for a cluster of giant spiders has made their nest in the inner delve. These most unfriendly neighbours have between them created a rather macabre battlefield of spiders limbs and metal parts. What is perhaps more bizarre is the thought of the brass constructs trapped in the huge webbed cocoons suspended from the ceilings.
This curious struggle between nature and machine reminds me of the philosophical debates that rage between the scholars whether nature is itself but a deterministic machine of intricate design by the Aedra. Indeed some even suggest that one of the dark elves so-called ‘living gods’, Sotha Sil, was somehow trying to replicate this theory with the building of a ‘Clockwork City’. Absurd of course, and besides that glorified tinkerer has not been seen for centuries; if he ever existed at all.
The only contribution this soldier can add to their debate is that once you have fought enough of their kind, the giant spiders behaviour in battle becomes just like that of the Dwemer automatons, as predicable as the journey of the two moons.
I travel west out of Belkarth to a cave full of crocodiles, giant snakes, and lamias that the locals call Zalgaz’s Den. Finding lamia lurking in the caves of Craglorn is perhaps just as aberrant as finding draugh in a Dwemer ruin. Though this curious phenomenon has been studied by scholars, it seems that just how these amphibious creatures first came to be in the arid wastes of Hammerfell remains a mystery still.
Perhaps I should not be surprised though, for is it any more strange to find lamia in a Craglorn delve then to find a former Imperial Legionnaire searching every cleft and cranny for souvenirs to trade with a daedric prince? Or is it stranger even then the tavern tales I hear told of a whole Argonian tribe making a home in the jungles of the Valenwood. Or even the curious story I heard from a ships captain in Wayrest that the Maormer have laid claim to a small island off the coast of Elsweyr? Sometimes Tamriel is not only stranger than we think it, but stranger than we can imagine.
However the lamia got here they now hide underground because there is no home for them in Craglorn between the earth and the sky. Yet like cured fish these lamia still carry the smell of the sea. Most of us at some point in our lives will have shared that same sense of displacement, feeling we have no part in a place we call home, a place in which we long but can never belong. We may well think ourselves masters of our destiny, but we are also but slaves to our fate.
‘I am the answer to all questions and the question behind every answer.’
Whether mere mortal or Daedric Prince, it is just plain hubris to believe that what we see is everything there is to see.
Perhaps Hermaeus Mora did foresee my coming today, and perhaps my name is already recorded in my realms of Apocrypha as it claims it to be. As to why I am here, well you do not have to be a Daedric Prince of Fate and Forbidden Knowledge to figure that it has to do with the Celestial invasion of Craglorn.
Hermaeus Mora does not give knowledge without a fee, luckily mine has been paid this day by returning its servant Ibrula back to the Prince. The voice from the shrine tells me that if the Celestial Warrior has risen the mighty Anka-Ra from the sands, then their great general Tarish-Zi has risen also; for they are bound to him through an oath of eternal loyalty. The only way to defeat them, is to defeat him.
I had wondered what deal Hermaeus Mora offered to the Yokudans all those years ago to build such a grand temple atop the site of its shine. The same deal Hermaeus Mora offers all its servants… knowledge without wisdom, ethic, or morality.