Warning: potential side quest (Fighters Guild) spoilers ahead!
From Garn’s recollections:
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.”
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!”
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.
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!”
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!”
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?”
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!”
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!”
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?