Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Tale of Garn Chapter 35

Warning: potential side quest (Fighters Guild) spoilers ahead!

From Garn’s recollections:

Hist Heist

The Blackwood Company’s presence in Leyawiin was hard to ignore – they had a hall directly across from the Fighters Guild guildhall which, to add insult to injury, was larger and grander in every way. My hand on the pommel of my sword, I cautiously entered. The hall porter referred me to an Argonian named Jeetum-Ze who at first seemed to recognize me. I was worried for a moment but then the Argonian scoffed it off and said that he had a lot of Fighters Guild members defecting to the Blackwood Company for work so my association with them was of no concern. After interviewing me further he agreed to let me tag along to a new member evaluation and training mission and sent me to a basement room where some other prospective members had gathered for their assignment.

Well, it was a good plan while it lasted.
“Well, it was a good plan while it lasted.”

Jeetum-Ze joined us after only a few minutes to tell us about the job. Apparently the villagers at Water’s Edge just north of the city had reported a goblin infestation and we were to handle it. This sounded like a reasonable first task for a group of four new recruits – most goblins were easy fare for experienced fighters so even if it were swarming with them we should be up to the task. Before we set off Jeetum-Ze demanded that we all partake of a potion to aid us in battle as part of a Blackwood Company traditional ritual. When I inquired with him about what it was he told me that Hist tree sap. I expressed my surprise that they had been smuggling in Hist Sap from Black Marsh but he laughed at the notion, admitting instead that the Blackwood Company had brought a entire Hist tree back to Cyrodiil with them. Intriguing, but not much else at the time. The four of us toasted and downed the strange concoction then prepared to head out.

Let the goblin slaughter commence!
“Let the goblin slaughter commence!”

At Water’s Edge we found the village overrun with Goblins, as reported. They roamed the streets, they infested houses, they were positively everywhere. Thankfully these seemed to be a relatively weak variety of goblin and most fell without even putting up much of a fight. Soon enough we had cleared out the entire place. We were preparing to leave, sending one of the recruits to ride ahead in order let Jeetum-Ze know that it was safe for the villagers to return. That was the last thing I remember before waking up in Modryn Oreyn’s house in Chorrol. Modryn told me that I was found passed out in the streets of Leyawiin and some guild brothers brought me to him. When were began discussing the mission’s progress and I told him about the Hist Sap he was amazed. He explained how Argonians ritualistically used the powerful sap to communicate with the Hist trees but he had never heard of non-Argonians taking the stuff and suspected that it was the reason I lost consciousness. He was to investigate further and in the meantime wanted me to return to Water’s Edge to independently check on the status of the contract.

Umm... oops?
“Umm… oops?”

In Water’s Edge I returned to a grizzly sight – There were bodies piled high in the streets but much to my surprised they were not goblin bodies. Where we had slain goblins now lay villagers. Something had gone terribly wrong. Had the Hist Sap made us hallucinate, or maybe even controlled us to commit this crime? Even so, the orders came from the Blackwood Company beforehand and where quite explicit. To what end would they do this? I was sickened by my participation in this tragedy and returned back to Chorrol to relay the horrible news with hope that Modryn might have some insight.

Modryn assured me that the massacre at Water’s Edge was in no way my fault and asked me to instead focus on our next move. He theorized that the Hist Sap was the key to the Blackwood Company’s seemingly unnatural power and that it might also explain their insane behavior at times. The mission was obvious – head back to the Blackwood Company hall and attempt to locate and sabotage the Hist tree and their stores of sap. I’d have to go it alone as I was the only member of the guild who had infiltrated them and we agreed that a more direct assault could be disastrous given their growing size and power, never mind that we didn’t have any official backing from the Fighters Guild on the matter.

Does this mean I finally get to kill all of you Blackwood motherfuckers? Yes!
“Does this mean I finally get to kill all of you Blackwood motherfuckers? Yes!”

When I entered the Blackwood Company hall I was immediately halted by the porter and a retinue of guards. Soon other members gathered including Ja’Fazir, their second in command. Ja’Fazir drew his sword and proclaimed me to be a traitor, ordering the Blackwood Company to dispatch me. Surprised, I drew my sword, raised my shield, and began to back away while I prepared to summon help from the Daedra. Underestimating me, some of the lower ranked guards and probationary members were first to come at me. I dropped my shield and cleaved one, cleanly passing his armor, into the neck. I cast a powerful lightning arch at another. The Dremora I had summoned tied some of the others up as I rushed towards Ja’Fazir. Ja’Fazir seemed to be a capable mage as well as a swordsman and we locked into a fierce sword fight, stopping at times to hurl lightning and firebolts at each other. Soon the fight was over as I timed one of my spells perfectly and set him aflame. I looked around to find the skirmish completely over – I had just slain the core of the Blackwood Company.

Ack! Cut that shit out!
“Ack! Cut that shit out!”

Largely free of the restriction of being overseen by guards and other members, I then searched the Blackwood Company hall for signs of the tree. I located a locked door that seemed to be worth investigating but it was too secure to bash open or even my strongest spells and I had no luck picking the lock. I set off into the upper rooms and offices to try to find a key or some other way of opening the door. Instead what I found was Ri’Zakar, the leader of the Blackwood Company, apparently waiting for me. The battle that unfolded was fierce, I had to summon another Dremora just to even the odds a bit. Ri’Zakar must have confused the Dremora with me because of my Daedric armor and foolishly focused on it, giving me opportunity to focus on attacking from afar with spells. Just as he finished off the Dremora I blasted him with a fireball that blew him off his feet, sending him smashing into a bookself, dead. I found a ring of keys on his belt and returned to the suspicious door on the ground level.

Burning the hist tree: Now where are my marshmallows at?
“Burning the hist tree: Now where are my marshmallows at?”

On the other side of the door was a staircase leading down to a small courtyard on the basement level of the hall, a huge Hist tree sat in the middle, with all kinds of odd machinery surrounding it. The machinery, which Jeetum-Ze had made a passing reference to when first talking about the Hist tree, was evidently crucial in helping the tree survive in the foreign client so I figured destroying it would help ensure the destruction of the tree. After dispatching two of the attending Blackwood Company mages, I bashed the machine to pieces, break pipes, jamming levers, and causing whatever damage I could. I also set the tree ablaze for good measure. Modryn said that the Argonias believe the Hist trees are living, intelligent beings. If this is true I hope I’ll be forgiven for dispatching this one in such a cruel manner.

Oh, how I've been looking forward to cleaving your stubby little Elvish head in half, Maglir!
“Oh, how I’ve been looking forward to cleaving your stubby little Elvish head in half, Maglir!”

Exiting the Blackwood Company hall I was greeted by Maglir, shortsword in hand. Surprised to see that it was me who had caused the destruction surrounding us, he cursed the day I joined the Fighters Guild and charged haphazardly towards me. Maglir, evidently overcome with anger over losing his new and more fruitful job after deserting the Fighters Guild, fell swiftly as in two quick motions I parried his attack and returned my own, slicing deep below his shoulder, through the meager protection of his armor and into the soft flesh of his armpit. It occurred to me that Maglir’s death might earn me an initial denouncement from the Fighters Guild but I was sure my actions would be quickly proven justified once everything was revealed. Attempting to appear as inconspicuous as possible, I left the scene and rode back to Chorrol.

Free hard work and responsibilities I didn't ask for? Sign me up!
“Free hard work and responsibilities I didn’t ask for? Sign me up!”

In Chorrol I updated Modryn on the situation. He was quite pleased with the results – vengeance was served, though justice had not been completely done yet. I decided to return to the guildhall to see if I could talk Vilena into restoring Modryn’s place in the guild. Vilena was quite shocked to learn of all that had transpired. While Modryn had intentionally kept her in the dark about many of the details surrounding the guild’s conflict with the Blackwood Company, Vilena seemed to have the wool over her eyes even further than I had ever suspected. She seemed to realize this fact though, and after further questioning, thanked me for my part and decided that she would step down as Guildmaster and hand the title to me. I was surprised to say the least. My first order of business was to name Modryn as my second in command and place him in charge of handling the day to day operation of the guild so that I could continue concentrating on my original goals. One thing was for sure, there was no avoiding notoriety now…

Stupidly enough, when Maglir attacked me during the last part of the quest it somehow flagged me as killing a Fighters Guild member despite Maglir attacking me first and not even technically being a member of the guild at that point in the story. This meant when returning to Modryn and Vilena to finish the quest line they pretty much told me I was an asshole and to fuck right off. Needless to say I was quite confused as that was far from the reaction I was expecting… 😉

In general, I’m not a big fan of the Fighters Guild quest line in Oblivion. Most of the missions are of the very simple “go to this cave and kill something/everything and/or find this item” variety and I never quite understood the Blackwood Company’s motives in the latter parts of the story arc. We learned that their strength and boldness in challenging the Fighters Guild may have been because of the effects of the Hist Sap that they’re all slurping down constantly, but other than the Water’s Edge incident we don’t really see them doing anything all that “evil”. Was having a Hist tree and drinking its sap evil? The conflict with the Fighters Guild mostly seemed like businesses squabbling over territory. The Water’s Edge incident is a bit more confusing – I suppose it could be explained as an unintentional side effect of the fact that the new recruits had yet to become used to the effects of the Hist Sap but then why did we receive a mission from higher up to go kill goblins at all if there weren’t actually any there? Was Jeetum-Ze and/or the rest of the Company actually trying to get us to mass murder villagers and, if so, why? Perhaps there really were some goblins reported in the area and the job was legitimate? Hmph! I suppose what I’m getting at is that they never seemed all that evil to me, and the one truly evil thing they did never made much logical sense to me… but we murdered them all regardless. Theories?

The Tale of Garn Chapter 34

Warning: potential side quest (Fighters Guild) spoilers ahead!

From Garn’s recollections:

Theft and Abduction

As soon as I stepped into the Anvil guildhall I was greeted by Azzan who told me that he only had one contract on the books for me, but he had me in mind for it and wanted it taken care of as soon as possible. The job sounded interesting: apparently the Stone of Saint Alessia, a religious artifact of some significance to followers of the Nine, had been stolen from the Chapel of Talos in Bruma and I was to track it down and see it returned. I joined in a small banquet with some of my Fighters Guild brothers and then set off on the long ride north from Anvil to Bruma.

Like a sore thumb, the Chapel of Talos in Bruma.
“Like a sore thumb, the Chapel of Talos in Bruma.”

Arriving at the Great Chapel of Talos in Bruma I was quickly greeted by Cirroc who introduced himself as the chapel’s resident healer. Cirroc said that 4 or 5 men were spotted leaving the chapel and heading east on the road out of the city on the night that the artifact was stolen. Bandits? Thieves? Pagans? It didn’t really matter – I left immediately, mounted up, and began riding along the road to the east.

Soon I came upon a lone Khajiit limping along the road back towards the city. By his dress I suspected that he was a bandit or a thief of some sort so I rode up upon him, leveled my sword to his throat, and began to question him. Surprisingly the Khajiit gave no resistance at all – without much prompting he fully admitted to being part of the group of thieves who had stolen the stone and that he suspected I was the one who was hired to retrieve it. He then told me that the gang had camped near the Ayleid ruin of Sedor when they were ambushed in the night by a large group of ogres. Apparently he was the only one who managed to get away. With the stone most likely in the possession of the ogres now I sheathed my sword and rode onward to the east.

Almost more appealing than staying out here in the biting, frigid cold... almost.
“Almost more appealing than staying out here in the biting, frigid cold… almost.”

True to his word I found the freshly devastated site of the camp exactly as the Khajiit thief had described it. There wasn’t too much to investigate though as it had apparently been looted clean by the ogres. Given the proximity to it, I figured there was a good chance that the ogres lived in the old ruins and made my way there. While Sedor resembled most Ayleid ruins on the surface when I breached the subterranean level it was obvious that something else had been living there, and recently too.

It's an ogre party!
“It’s an ogre party!”

Creeping into the lower passages it was only a matter of time before I encountered my first ogre. Soon, one ogre became two, and then three, with the sounds of battle attracting them from all around. By the time I had cleared the ruin I had faced more ogres than I’d ever encountered in one place before and they were of a particularly fierce variety as well. Still, between my blade and my magic they posed little threat to me. I then tended to the unpleasant task of rummaging through their stores to find the precious artifact. Finally I found the stone placed carefully upon an pedestal – apparently the church weren’t the only ones fond of it.

Azzan had no more contracts for me and didn’t think Burz did either. Work was really starting to dry up for the Guild. When I made a casual mention of the Blackwood Company being at least partly to blame Azzan dropped several hints that I should give Modryn Oreyn a visit at his home in Chorrol. Curious… and at his home? Having nothing else on my agenda I set off back up north to Chorrol.

A rather dejected and somewhat washed-up looking Modryn answered his door. He explained how he had been relieved of his title and his duties in the Fighters Guild after the death of Viranus Donton. He didn’t seem too upset about it though, at least not in contrast to his focus on exposing and/or destroying the Blackwood Company. In fact apparently his time away from the guild had proven quite productive, as he had already started hatching a plan to delve deeper into uncovering their secrets.

Seriously, you can just say we're going to torture him for information. It's not like I haven't already ruthlessly murdered like 500 people for you...
“”Seriously, you can just say we’re going to torture him for information. It’s not like I haven’t already ruthlessly murdered like 500 people for you…”

Modryn wanted to capture some high-ranking members of the group. This might have been fairly challenging under normal circumstances but he had learned of a camp being setup in a cave off of the Orange Road, to the east of the city. He theorized that this new hideout was probably meant to be strategically located near the Fighters Guild’s headquarters in Chorrol, perhaps they even had plans for a full scale war against the Guild. Regardless, one of their leaders, an Argonian mage named Ajum-Kajin, was said to be overseeing the project. Modryn then asked me if I’d do the honors of attempting to infiltrate the hideout and capture the Arongian. He feared that his Guild status and notoriety made him pretty poor choice for pulling such a stunt. I was definitely no fan of the Blackwood Company and had of course witnessed some of their schemes first hand so gladly volunteered to help out Modryn even if this time the job came without pay.

Glademist Cave was dusty, well lit with torches, with corridors lined with fresh supplies. Further into the cave I started coming across Blackwood Company guards. Although I had hoped to make a stealthy infiltration the layout of the cave system made avoiding direct action impossible. Perhaps if I had been able to disguise myself as a Blackwood Company member, but alas, after the first time I was spotted I was left with little choice but to slaughter my way to my goal. The Blackwood Company guards and other workers here seemed to be fairly inexperience and fell easily. Soon I was face to face with my target.

Fancy meeting you here, my friend!
“Fancy meeting you here, my friend!”

The Argonian called for his guards but upon hearing nothing but silence in response, agreed to come with me. I lead him out of the cave with the tip of my sword in his back, then tied him up, blind folded him, threw him on my horse, and brought him to Modryn’s house.

This is where it gets ugly... (Argonian joke!)
“This is where it gets ugly… (Argonian joke!)”

Untying Ajum-Kajin and having him sit down, Modryn and I began to interrogate him. He wasn’t cooperative at first. Modryn insisted we force him to talk but I decided to try to win him over by making it seem like we were sympathetic to him. At first he refused to have any of it but eventually I succeeded in swaying him a little. We learned of the Company’s size and who their leader was, but as we started to put more and more pressure on him to provide more details he suddenly screamed in defiance and exploded into a fireball nearly taking us up with him. He must have had some sort of enchanted item on him, or had some kind of a suicide spell, but regardless our interrogation was widely unsuccessful.

Modryn’s next course of action was slightly less direct but perhaps much more risky: He suggested that I infiltrate the Blackwood Company itself by pretending to be a perspective member. This was definitely a surefire way to learn more about them but how long would it take? Still, it seemed like an easy way to get started, providing of course that my identity hadn’t been linked to any of the previous assaults on the Company. I rode for Leyawiin while Modryn stayed behind to clean up the mess…