This is the autobiographical journal of Arvil Bren, a somewhat reluctant hero who has been placed on an unknown quest by powers that he barely knows exist. Follow his journey as it is updated daily, Monday through Friday, and enjoy! These are the most recent entries in Arvil Bren's third journal; Politics of the Redoran. His first journal can be found in its entirety here. His second journal, Trail of the Archmage can be found here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

28: Failure

My suspicion was correct, the waterway led under the ghostfence and deep into Red Mountain. It connects to a series of caverns that are filled with the stench of brimstone where the oppressive heat saps the will. I found an exit from the cave, hoping that I could step out for a breath of fresh air. I emerged into the torrid crater of Red Mountain. The ash swirled, blotting out the sun, lit by a lurid red glow from the steaming lava flows. I returned quickly to the cave. All I could do was complete my task and get away as soon as possible.

I followed every cranny of the caves, searched every altar raised by the Dagoths to their malignant elder. I battled ash minions, conjured creatures, and blighted beasts that dwelled among the smoldering lava pits. I gasped for relief from the blazing heat that turned every breath into a scorching agony in my throat. I found the Shadow Shield. I did not find a cup. Eventually, completely demoralized and bedraggled, I sat on a stone with my head in my hands.
The small buildings among the ruins came to my mind as I sat. Sul-Matuul said that he saw the cups marked with the sign of House Dagoth. He saw those himself. But he only said that the Shadow Shield would be deep beneath the fortress, he did not say that he had seen that artifact. It finally gelled in my exhausted mind that Sul-Matuul had likely not descended into the misery of these caverns. He saw the cups in the ruins above ground; the ruins I did not explore.

The shipment of moon sugar that I hijacked was a weight in my pack. There would be a search for the lost shipment and the lost party of porters. The fortress would be a hornet's nest of activity. By now they have likely realized that I spent a night in their own dungeon. Trekking back along the waterway to the depths of the fortress would be returning to that hornet's nest; a nest that I myself have kicked open.

If I left the cave I would be deep inside Dagoth Ur's territory and confined within the ghostfence. If I succeeded in crossing that blasted and tortured landscape to reach Ghostgate I would not be allowed through. The Ordinators diligently record every pilgrim that enters, and only they are allowed to leave. I found myself sinking further and further into black despair.

I woke with a start. Exhaustion and the heat had taken a toll, and I had dozed there on the stone seat. I had dozed in a cavern in the crater of Red Mountain, haunted by the ghosts of the annihilated Dwemer, prison of Dagoth Ur. My despair had fouled my dreams, in which I had been on the brink of madness. I do not know if it was my own dreaming, or the invasive murmur of Dagoth Ur, but I woke with another course of action in my thoughts. I was in the crater of Red Mountain, I could find Dagoth Ur and confront him, now, and put an end to this. Madness. To confront Dagoth Ur before completing the prophecies would be utter folly. But I could feel the grip of this idea tightening on my mind, twisting in like taloned fingers.

It took a great effort of will. I drew myself inward, pushing away the heat, the gritty ash that had crept inside my armor to grind my skin raw, the aching soreness of my exhausted legs. I pushed away the voice of failure, the voice saying that to leave without the cup was to doom the Dunmer, and myself. I drew on Mentor's ring, and the sorcerer's amulet that clasped my robes, and the staff of my office. I brought the beautiful face of Ahnassi into my inner vision and cast the spell of recalling, then collapsed against the wall.

Ahnassi's face swam before me, and it took a moment for me to see that it was real. I was home. The grasping tendrils of Dagoth Ur's will still twitched against my faculties, but distance and the ghostfence reduced their razor talons to mere nettles. As they faded away a howl of rage echoed in their wake, the howl of the beast whose prey has been snatched away.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember this part of the game, only too well. Your description brought it all back, only too vividly!! Your style not only records the bare bones of the missions etc, but horribly accurately recalls how terrifying I found most of Kagoran and the nasties therein!!

And that emergence into Red Mountain for the first time is truly awful- you captured it BRILLIANTLY. I also turned and ran - I don't feel so bad about it now that AB, that brave Breton, also left speedily, although I have to admit, he left with rather more panache than I did!!


Wonderful stuff. thank you.

- Angela

1:32 AM  
Anonymous Abramul said...

Odd that there was no mention of the Daedric Gauntlets...I remember one time I was in Kogoruhn, with the GIANTS mod, and met a beholder-talk about freaky!

12:28 PM  

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