Self Similar self similar’s personal gaming nonsense blog

3Jun/170

The Tale of Garn Chapter 54

Warning: potential main quest spoilers ahead!

From Garn's recollections:

Paradise

Martin rode back to Cloud Ruler Temple while I stayed at Bruma to help tend to the wounded and the dead. Many good men died on that day, including many important members of the order of the Blades, and I felt it only right to take a moment to see to them. After helping where I could and ensuring the rest was left in good hands, I met Martin back at the temple. Martin had just finished making his final preparations. After giving me some last minute advice and making sure I was fully prepared the ritual began.

Paradise awaits!
"Paradise awaits!"

Strange smells filled our nostrils and the great hall gradually appeared to be enveloped in a thick, dark haze, then with a mighty crack the ground sprang open and a portal, not unlike a smaller version of the Oblivion gates, appeared before us. At first the portal itself was tiny, but with a second, deafening crack, the portal took on its full shape and after a few brief moments seemed to stabilize. With a quick nod to Martin I gripped my sword and stepped through the gate.

A beautiful backdrop for eternal torment.
"A beautiful backdrop for eternal torment."

In a flash I appeared in a clearing in the middle of a beautiful wood. As Martin predicted there was no return portal behind me - I was simply stuck there. I climbed a nearby hill to take in the area. Exotic wildflowers of rare colors were everywhere and the land was dotted with intricate white marble structures such as bridges and gazebos. I began to follow what seemed to be a path through the hills when I came upon an ice Atronach chasing a man through the trees. I quickly dispatched the Atronach using a flame spell and approached the severely shaken Briton.

The man had little in the way of clothing and was covered in minor scratches and bruises yet to my surprise he addressed me with pompousness not typically heard from someone who was cowering for their lives not seconds earlier. I met several such people while navigating these gardens. From what I could piece together they were servants of Mankar Camoran’s who died and, fulfilling his promise, were blessed with immortality and sent to his paradise. When Mehrunes Dagon had conquered our world they’d return to rule over it as lords. At least, that was the plan.

Always read the small print when signing up for a Daedric cult.
"Always read the small print when signing up for a Daedric cult."

While in this place (which they called Gaiar Alata) they were constantly tormented by the Daedric creatures who shared it with them and if they were killed they would simply be reborn to continue the torturous cycle. Most of them seemed to have been driven to the point of despair, if not utter madness, and seemed to have deep regret for their service to Camoran and Prince Dagon though surprisingly a few still remained loyal.

My retribution is ongoing, actually...
"My retribution is ongoing, actually..."

Eventually I came across a single bridge guarded by a Dremora warrior in full battle gear. To my surprise he greeted me on sight instead of charging at me like so many others I had faced. The Dremora introduced himself as Kathutet and claimed that his kin had fought me and said I fought well for a mortal, so well that they they had a certain respect for me and therefore it was no dishonor to speak with me. He told me he would let me pass if I could do a service for him, that, or challenge him. Either option would bring him honor. While I was unaccustomed to a talkative Dremora, he still served the Daedra, and I would not serve him. I drew my sword. He smiled with approval.

Kethutet: Not-so-adoring fan.
"Kethutet: Not-so-adoring fan."

Kethutet was strong, and his mighty Daedric longsword slammed against my Crusader’s blade, nearly pushing me off of my feet. As I slammed him back I found time to unleash a flame blast and hit him directly, causing him to unleash a horrific roar of pain. I parried his next attack as well, and another I blocked with my shield. Pushing him off of me a second time, I again cast a flame blast at him, knocking him off of his feet. I crossed the bridge and into the cave that he seemed to have been guarding.

I soon found myself in a complicated cave system that appeared to be some sort of Mythic Dawn dungeon. The cultists here were, seemingly, torturing other servants of Mankar Camoran. Given that everyone here was immortal, many of the torture methods I witnessed were particularly brutal. Soon I heard the voice of Mankar Camoran himself booming throughout the cave system. He seemed to be speaking directly to me, so no doubt his servants and guards knew I was here, somewhere.

There's actually a guy at the end of this chain. Yep, glad I skipped Mythic Dawn recruitment day.
"There's actually a guy at the end of this chain. Yep, glad I skipped Mythic Dawn recruitment day."

He spoke of the Daedra being the true gods, and the Divines I serve being false pretenders. He spoke of Tamriel being just another realm of Oblivion. Some of these ideas I heard before, read from some of the heretical books I studied in the Imperial City while searching for clues to my past. In the present though, I had faith in the Divines, and attempted to ignore Camoran’s ceaseless saber rattling.

I tried my best to avoid detection while I continued through the grotto but found myself face to face with one of the torturers. I drew my sword but he put his hands up, pleading for me to stop. He claimed that he could help me escape this place and take my revenge upon Mankar Camoran. Since at this point I had found myself quite lost in these maze-like caverns my curiosity peaked. I listened. He said his name was Eldamil and that he was one of Mankar Camoran’s chief lieutenants before he was slain in the battle of Kvatch. He claimed he had since had much time to come to regret his part of seeing the Mythic Dawn’s plans to fruition. He wanted to attone for his sins by helping me defeat Mankar Camoran. I had no particular reason to trust Eldamil but given what I had witnessed in my short time in “paradise” I also had no reason to doubt that he might have come to regret his place at Camoran’s side. Camoran already knew I was here, after all, so there was no point in attempting to deceive me with someone like Eldamil.

It turns out that the Dremora still hate me after all. :(
"It turns out that the Dremora still hate me after all. :("

Eldamil escorted me through the dungeon as if I was another one of Camoran’s men condemned to torture and while the other ascended immortals ignored me, some of the Dremora who guarded the grotto saw through our ruse. Eldamil and I soon found ourselves in an all out fight to escape the caverns. Thankfully, after defeating several fierce Dremora guards we found the exit and made haste to Carac Agailor, Mankar Camoran’s palace.

We were met at the gates by Ruma and Raven Camoran, Mankar’s children. They escorted us to see Mankar Camoran himself. Mankar spoke of the changes Tamriel would face under he and Prince Dagon’s reign and how fate had brought him and I together, as one final test of his supremacy. He assumed that I was a pretender and that they could make some sort of an example out of me as well as end Martin’s chances of stopping the invasion in a single, decisive move. They were quite wrong. While they might have the Daedra on their side, I was the Divine Crusader, and I had the Nine watching over me.

Err. A little sadistic to kill his children in front of him, but the ends justify the means, right?
"Err. A little sadistic to kill his children in front of him, but the ends justify the means, right?"

Ruma and Raven summoned Daedric armor and weapons and charged me while Mankar sat in his throne, an amused smirk on his face. Eldamil crippled Raven with a surprise electric bolt from behind me as Ruma and I traded swings. Soon it was two against one, and soon, just two. Mankar Camoran no longer wore his smile but instead became enraged. Standing up from his throne and raising his staff over his head he pointed at Eldamil who instantly dropped dead, electricity cracking over his body. I raised my shield and charged.

Catching him by surprise, I hit Mankar Camoran with a mighty shield bash and pinned in him the corner of his throne room, then quickly darted back. I peppered him with fireballs while he answered with a strong blast of lightning from his staff. I blasted him with fire bolt, tumbled to my right, and blasted him yet again. While I had no doubt that Mankar was a powerful mage, and one which had been bestowed the many gifts of a Daedric Prince at that, he seemed to have grown out of practice when it came to dueling. I rolled toward him as he cast his own fire bolt at me causing him to shoot wide and miss me entirely. As I rolled back to my feet the gleaming steel blade of Sword of the Crusader plunged deep into his belly. He he collapsed clutching his wounds I reached out for the Amulet of Kings and snatched it off of his neck.

As soon as Mankar Camoran had drawn his final breath his palace, and indeed his entire world, began to crumble around me. I raised my shield above my head and attempted to weave through the falling debris but it was pointless. Whatever magic bound that realm to our Mundus had been broken and I found myself suddenly tripping over a table in the great hall of Cloud Ruler Temple and stumbling to the ground. I was back.

16Feb/170

The Tale of Garn Chapter 53

Warning: potential main quest spoilers ahead!

From Garn's recollections:

The Great Gate

Finally arriving back at Cloud Ruler Temple I found Jauffre and Martin along with Baurus and a few other senior Blades gathered in the great hall. It seemed that I had interrupted a tense discussion which they were quick to invite me into. Martin, it seemed, had hatched yet another plan. The final reagent needed for the dark ritual that would help create a portal to Mankar Camoran’s paradise had been learned - a great sigil stone. Unlike the sigil stones I’d been using to close the Oblivion portals up till then, a great sigil stone could only be found in great siege portals like the one reportedly used to destroy Kvatch. I hadn’t encountered one of those yet but from the information we acquired from the Mythic Dawn’s spies we knew that they were plotting to bring one to Bruma.

Good for us, not so good for Bruma.
"Good for us, not so good for Bruma."

That was Martin’s plan, it turned out. We needed to stop closing all of Oblivion gates around Bruma allowing them to create a combined passage between our worlds large enough for a great Oblivion gate to open. The Blades were not extremely happy with this plan. More troubling still, Martin demanded to lead the defense against the invading Daedra himself. There was no talking him out of it, nor were there any other plans on the table, and so we made the short ride down to Bruma to share Martin’s plan with the Countess.

Martin and I attempt to convince Bruma's Countess to let us destroy her city.
"Martin and I attempt to convince Bruma's Countess to let us destroy her city."

Meeting us at the Chapel of Talos, Countess Narina Carvain was not so pleased with the plan either. If we failed to hold back the Daedra swarming through the gates, or worse yet, we failed to close the great gate before it could begin its siege of the city, Bruma would take significant losses if not be utterly destroyed. Quite a gamble, but the Countess guessed Martin’s identity quickly enough. Bruma had a long history of working with the Blades of Cloud Ruler Temple and she deduced that he must be the new emperor. She also knew me from my work for Bruma in the past as well as my reputation as the leader of the Fighters and Mages guilds and my victories as the Divine Crusader since. Of course she also knew of no other, better plans to end the Oblivion Crisis and quickly made her decision. She was completely behind us.

As we left the chapel a great crowd of citizens, refugees, and reinforcements from other cities had gathered around the chapel. The Countess silenced the rabble and made a brief speech, announcing that we were at the beginning of a new era, the end of the Oblivion Crisis, and the start of the reign of Martin Septim. The crowd exploded, chanting Martin’s name as we continued to the city gates.

Outside of the city the majority of the Blades, a large portion of Bruma’s guardsmen, and the reinforcements sent from other cities, the guilds, and knights and warriors from all over Cyrodiil gathered and prepared for battle. Martin made an impressive speech, rousing the combined force and underscoring the significance of the moment. This could be the pivotal turning point in which the empire, and indeed the rest of Tamriel, would be saved from the enslavement of Mehrunes Dagon.

Martin Septim takes a fireball directly on the chin. Ouch.
"Martin Septim takes a fireball directly on the chin. Ouch."

A new Oblivion gate appeared nearby and in an instant the battle was on, as swords were drawn and bows were raised. All manner of Daedric soldiers, creatures, and constructs started to trickle through and immediately sought to break our lines. A massive fireball flew from a powerful Xivilai mage and landed almost dead on Martin. I was quick to shield and heal him with my restoration magic but it was a close call that did little for our force's morale. Soon a second gate appeared, and then a third. The battle was utter chaos, with many guardsmen falling all around us. The line was being held for the time, however.

That was about the time the great gate appeared. As wide as a city wall and taller still, the great gate dwarfed the horizon. Many of us stopped and stared in awe at the fearsome sight, temporarily forgetting that we were fighting for our lives. I was snapped out of the moment by Martin, frantically yelling over the clash of battle to tell me to get to the gate. I had no time to waste, I had to find the great sigil stone before the great gate spilled it contents onto Bruma.

Dremora doing their part to slow my progress to the top of the tower.
"Dremora doing their part to slow my progress to the top of the tower."

Raising my shield and charging my way past a unit of heavily armored Dremora soldiers I entered the gate. I arrived on the other side to find myself facing a siege engine armed with a massive cannon the likes of which the most talented machinists and mages in our world had never dreamed to construct. These engines could raise Bruma’s walls effortlessly and I was sure they could just as easily continue onward to the Imperial City. As the machine slowly lumbered forward towards the portal I darted to one side of it to look for a way into the sigil tower. After a brief climb I snuck up behind an unsuspecting Dremora patrol, blasting one of them with an electric bolt and running another through with my longsword.

Well this doesn't look good...
"Well this doesn't look good..."

Inside the sigil tower I found a similar arrangement as other Oblivion portals and began my ascent. While this tower seemed more heavily guarded than most, and many of the guards seemed to be better fighters than most of the Demora I'd encountered previously, my urgency and aggression caught many of them unprepared and soon I found myself standing in front of the great sigil stone. With a huge heave I pushed the stone from its pedestal and was instantly blown back by the resulting explosion.

Aftermath of The Battle of Bruma.
"Aftermath of The Battle of Bruma."

I awoke to two Bruma guards pulling me to my feet, dusting me off and checking for wounds. I was back on the snowy fields outside of Bruma. I was alive. The less fortunate lay strewn all around us in such quantity that it was hard to make out which side came out worse. The great siege engine I had dodged as it lumbered towards to portal had evidently made it only partially through, with the front half of the huge construct resting in our world, the rest seemed to have been sheared clean off when the great gate suddenly closed. While I couldn’t locate Jauffre or Baurus, Martin came running over to greet me. There was no time to count our losses, we had to get the Amulet of Kings and stop this invasion once and for all.

29Jan/170

The Tale of Garn Chapter 52

Warning: potential main quest spoilers ahead!

From Garn's recollections:

What Lies Beneath

I returned to Cloud Ruler Temple to deliver my report but Jauffre was nowhere to be found. My at least partial success with petitioning Cyrodiil’s cities for reinforcements was already evident though, as small groups of guardsmen were already starting to arrive in Bruma. I turned my attention to Martin, interrupting him in his makeshift study in the great hall. Martin excitedly revealed that he had deciphered the next component required for the ritual, blood of the gods. Blood of the gods? This seemed even more farfetched than Martin’s earlier unlikely request for Daedric artifacts since the Aedra rarely show themselves in any sort of tangible form and have few artifacts directly associated with them. I was bewildered, but Martin and Jauffre had already come up with a plan.

Talos was the key, of course. Having ascended from a mortal, Talos left behind relics and yes, maybe even blood. Martin directed me to Jauffre for the details. I found Jauffre sometime later, riding up into the stronghold from personally reviewing the state of Bruma’s defenses. He pulled me into the then deserted armory to explain the plan.

Honestly not sounding like an ideal vacation spot, Jauffre.
"Honestly not sounding like an ideal vacation spot, Jauffre."

There was an ancient city fortress called Sancre Tor of which only a ruin remains. Far below the ruin in the catacombs beneath lies the tome of some of the first emperors of Cyrodiil and a shrine to Tiber Septim erected by the first of the Blades. On the shrine lay one of their most precious holy relics, the Armor of Tiber Septim, said to be splashed with Tiber Septim’s blood. He assured me that while it may sound unlikely that such a priceless relic had not been looted the tomb almost certainly remained undisturbed. For a great many years the Blades made regular pilgrimages to the tomb, until something else arrived.

Jauffre didn’t know what, or how, but an evil presence took possession of the ruin of Sancre Tor after which none who entered ever returned. The Grandmaster of the Blades at the time had the catacombs sealed and Sancre Tor not only fell into further disrepair but was all but forgotten by anyone outside of the order. Jauffre handed me the key and cautioned me about underestimating the threat this presence posed. Many highly regarded Blades had fallen attempting to cleanse the shrine before the decision was made to close off the site.

Approaching Sancre Tor at night.
"Approaching Sancre Tor at night."

The ruin rested on a quiet hillside at the base of the Jerall mountains, west of Bruma. I paused to enjoy the serenity that this much deserved moment of peace brought out in me then drew my sword and slid Jauffre’s key into the humongous, reinforced doors that protected Sancre Tor.

A thick, choking dust hung in the air of the long abandoned corridors, and the absolute quiet was disturbingly eerie. Once I got deeper into the catacombs I began to encounter ghosts, wraiths, and all manner of undead, but nothing I hadn’t encountered before, and not in staggering quantity. Soon, though, I discovered my first challenge. I entered a room with a large, open chamber in it to find myself being charged by a skeletal warrior. Reanimated dead of many varieties are common in such ancient, haunted places, but as we traded strikes I noticed something peculiar about this one: he used the Akaviri sword of the Blades, and fought with more precision than most undead could muster.

Two mighty Blades square off, though I at least have the advantage of being alive.
"Two mighty Blades square off, though I at least have the advantage of being alive."

Once I had dispatched my foe the spirit of man dressed in full Blades garb rose from the its shattered remains, turned, thanked me for freeing it, and seemed to turn its attention towards going somewhere else. When I was briefly able to gain the spirit’s attention to try to learn more he told me that he and three other Blades were sent here to investigate what had defiled the catacombs. They learned that it was the Underking, there to seek vengeance on Tiber Septim for some sort of perceived betrayal. After defeating them the Underking had cursed the spirits of the four dead blades to remain in Sancre Tor forever, guarding it from any living being who dared enter. The Underking himself had long since fled, but the spirits of these Blades were stuck there. I could hold the spirit’s attention no longer and he continued on his route. Walking with him, he arrived at a massive chamber with a series of tunnels that jetted out from its center like the spokes of a wagon wheel.

Burning Blade? Sorry.
"Burning Blade? Sorry."

As I explored more I discovered yet another one of these undead Blades, who also returned to the center chamber. Following him more closely, I noted that he joined the other in a room with a more ornate entrance than the others. As I entered I could immediately tell that I was in the oldest part of the catacombs and that these tombs were of some significance. The two spirits knelt in front of a massive, decorative door, a magical barrier blocking passage through it. I immediately turned around to seek out the other two spirits, hoping the magic that blocked the doorway was somehow related to the magic the bound these spirits in place.

Lifting the curse.
"Lifting the curse."

In time, after exploring more of the maze-like catacombs, I found and defeated the remaining two undead Blades. As predicted, the spirits took their place in formation around the doorway, raised their swords one last time, and vanished. With them, the barrier also disapparated. I entered the shrine, which hadn’t been seen by mortal eyes in an age, and carefully picked up the Armor of Tiber Septim.

Jauffre couldn’t believe his eyes when I presented him with the holy relic and soon a large gathering of Blades formed around to stare in awe at it. Some even began to pray, hoping for a blessing from Talos, perhaps. Martin, on the other hand, was all business. He had discovered another of the components, and soon I was on my way to Miscarcand.

You two should really start a travel agency. Seriously guys.
"You two should really start a travel agency. Seriously guys."

Miscarcand, Martin told me, was an ancient Ayleid city, one of their capitals long, long ago, and one of the few Ayleid ruins rumored to still possess a Great Welkynd Stone. I was familiar with Welkynd Stones, as were all adventurers and treasure hunters, as the valuable, glowing stones are rare but notable finds in most Ayleid ruins, and both collectors of Ayleid artifacts and arcane magic users had an interest in acquiring them. Still, this was a Great Welkynd stone - larger, more powerful, and incredibly rare. The only problem with Miscarcand, and indeed, why the stone was still likely there, was that it was known to be fiercely guarded by the undead lich form of its last ruler. I was not excited, but with the mounting tension surrounding the plot to attack Bruma and the Martin’s efforts to stop the Mythic Dawn, it had to be done.

Luckily, I knew precisely where the ruin was as I had plotted its position when mapping out the province so long ago so it wasn't long before I set off on the long journey down south. Upon reaching the site and exploring the scattered above ground ruins I was surprised to find my foes primarily consisting not of undead, but of goblins! A tribe of Bitterfish goblins had taken up residence in the ruin and most definitely objected to my presence there. They were of little consequence, as their primitive arrows bounced off of my armor and after demonstrating my power by hurling a massive fire blast near a small group of them they mostly left me alone.

Turf war in Miscarcand.
"Turf war in Miscarcand."

Inside the ruin I found more of the goblin tribe attempting to make it their home, but deeper down I also found the expected undead minions driving them back out. Skeletons and zombies in high numbers made me suspect the rumors of a lich living in this place might indeed be true but I hoped I could avoid finding out all the same. More importantly for now this power struggle within Miscarcand occupied both sides, allowing me to explore much of the ruin without conflict.

Great...
"Great..."

After searching for quite some time I eventually made my way to the deepest level of the old city, finding it suspiciously quiet. An intense icy blue glow illuminated the entire center of the largest chamber and after carefully making my way over to it I confirmed a Great Welkynd stone was indeed the source of the light. Lifting the stone from its crumbling metal holder I could feel a pressure plate of some sort raise up from beneath it followed by the sound of a chain running and a distant stone door sliding open. It was too dark by then to try to figure out what I had triggered but at least it didn’t seem to be a trap.

Moving in for the kill.
"Moving in for the kill."

As quickly as I could stash the stone it was on me - the powerful lich flew towards me, hurling all manner of deadly offensive spell at my direction in quick succession. Despite its strong offense I was able to dodge or deflect most the lich’s attacks and when I finally managed to land my own, be they spells or strikes from my blade, they seemed to inflict quite a lot of harm to the cursed abomination. Diving behind a stone pillar, only poking my head out to hurl the occasional fireball at it, I waited for the lich to try to face me up close. As it approached I sprang from my cover and with all of my might I cleaved my blessed Crusader’s sword deep into its shoulder. It threw its head back, dropping its staff in agony. In two swiftly chained motions I kicked the lich off of my sword and made a second massive downward swing into the exact same spot, slicing yet deeper still. Its unnatural glowing eyes faded into darkness of the now pitch black chamber.

I left the ruin, Martin’s new Great Welkynd stone in a sack tied to my saddle, and the fate of Bruma on my mind...