Most of the threads in this forum are naturally about "my character's adventures in a TES world", and the rest are meta-threads about writing them.
I'm coming from a completely different direction, or maybe not. I'm trying to create quest mods for Oblivion with a whole lot of NPC's who have linked stories, and I need all the help I can get with those. It's not entirely a different problem from writing the support cast in a regular FF, but it does leave out the central character, who will be the player, and I don't want to write that one.
I like to build a character in Oblivion and play it for a while before making an NPC from it, as this helps to give me some idea of how a pure mage thinks, or an archer, or an axe-wielding Orc, and I can make the NPC more credible that way. I'm currently playing a stereotypical big dumb blonde Nord called Hidy Heidi, who aspires to joining the Imperial Mountain Riders and patrolling the Jerrals on a white bear. I started her off trying to use poisoned daggers and stealth, but found that it's not too viable at low levels, because the damage she could inflict was never enough for a one-hit kill, and using a dagger put her too close for comfort in the remainder of the encounter. So she switched to a Claymore to better use her Blade skill, although she still tries a sneak attack with a dagger first, some of the time. She'd probably use the Claymore if she got a bear to ride, so maybe it's for the best.
This experience now has to be distilled down to some dialog for the NPC in-game, and that of her colleagues, and that's the sort of thing I'd want to post here for criticism and advice. And the content of books, notes, journal entries for the quests. Many of you have experience of rewriting bits of lore for your narratives, or fitting a new piece into the incomplete jigsaw puzzle Betheda provided, so I know it will help me if it works.
Heidi is intended to become part of http://www.tesnexus.com/downloads/file.php?id=26343, of which only the first two quests have been released as a beta. I have another dozen or so in development, including an arc of quests that happen after the player is both CoC and Madgod, based on the idea of Dagon taking revenge on the player by opening gates in his/her new realm.
As an example of what I'd like to post for your consideration, this is the content of an in-game book, which seeks to justify the outfits the girls wear in the context of TES. In reality, I copied the Schnapps ad illustration, but if I'm putting them into the TES IV game, they need to fit.
BEARS for the LEGION
This manual is commissioned to serve as a guide and reference for trainers of bears for the
The bears used by the Legion are specially bred for the purpose. They have
been selected over the years for their disposition, and preference has been given to paler
coats, so that the current bears are almost white. In all other respects they retain the
characteristics of their wild cousins, strength, fearlessness, and resolute will.
While the bears can sustain considerable damage in combat without complaint, they are quite
sensitive to small irritations, such as plucking their long fur. It has been determined that
plate and chainmail armor trap the fur of the animal's back and cause it considerable
annoyance, making it hard to ride.
Their keen sense of smell makes fur and leather armor equally unacceptable to the bears.
It is also believed that scent is the reason they prefer female riders to male. This was
once thought to be more a matter of weight, but they'll carry a Nord woman, and throw off
a male Bosmer.
These observations have led to the design of the current uniform for the Mountain Riders.
Above the waist, they wear heavy plate, as this does not come into contact with the bear.
Below, defense is primarily magical, with the Frost Shield serving a double purpose. The
bears would prefer that the girls wear nothing, but a minimal garment is required to hold
the enchantment, and the girls would refuse to wear less.
Use of a helmet is optional. Most, if not all, riders forgo one, as they already feel
top-heavy in their armor, and many find the restricted view from a helmet a problem in
the mountains It is however, part of the parade uniform for formal events. The rider may
choose a weapon to suit their own style of combat, with the stipulation that it be Silver.
Most choose a claymore for the reach.
Bears appear to share our own tastes in food, and will eat both meat and plant material. A
particular fondness for berries and honey is usual, but individual bears may have different
preferences. These will become apparent during the bear's training, and this information
should be passed on to the rider.
While the bears will naturally reject riders wearing the wrong armor, they should also
receive training in recognition of the Legion as their friends, to the point where they
should permit any Mountain Rider to mount, not just their specifically assigned handler,
but should refuse anyone who is not a member of the Legion. They should defend any Legion
member, including any foresters that venture into the mountains.
Although the manual doesn't say so, the Silver weapon is there for the same reason that the Legion uses them. They work against ghosts, wraiths and wills-o-the-wisp (although the latter seem to win every time)
This is one piece of background for the Riders, among many. I have dialog that establishes that bears have better footing on ice and snow, so they're a better mount in those conditions, as well as providing a lot of offensive support. I could repeat it here, but chose not to do so.
So change gears, everyone, and sub-edit my manual for me.
Just one little nit for me regarding the bit of book you posted.
Many women I know prefer not to be referred to as 'girls' when speaking of them in their professional capacity. (Count me as one of them). So where the text uses the term 'girls', I would suggest changing it to 'women' or 'female'.
I'm not being politically correct here, but I do demand respect from my colleagues, and being called 'girl' is rather demeaning and sexist to me. I figure if you're old enough to take on responsibility such as you describe (patrolling on bearback - I know, I know Foxy!), you're old enough to be a woman. Just my two cents.
Good point. This is a manual, so it probably needs a bit more formality. I noticed a few places where I should probably drop contractions (change "they'll" to "they will", for example). I wrote this after a whole bunch of dialog and didn't really change gear.
I'm leaning towards the Riders referring to their comrades as "girls", though. It's not a duty you'd want to do for a long career, so they're all young and hoping for promotion to a warmer desk job!
I echo h.e.r.'s comment on girls. It makes the riders sound like children, not like professional warriors.
On the thoughts of weapons, my first thought for any mounted fighter is to carry a lance, or several throwing spears/darts. Of course Oblivion does not allow for any of these weapons. My second thought is the riders be archers. Horse archers were one of the most powerful arms-systems ever created. Their only real weakness was that if you could close to them, they could not stand up in shock combat. Well, with a bear as their mount, anything that gets that close would become sushi! Of course this also has the problem of the fact that Oblivion does not support mounted combat. Although the basic idea can still work effectively in the game. Just as with a summons, the mount tends to distract enemies, giving an archer free reign to shoot without retaliation. Under those circumstances, no armor is really needed at all.
The weapon was dictated originally by the picture I was using for the source (you can see it at the Nexus link for the mod in the opening post), which shows a mounted rider with a sword and shield. As you point out, Oblivion has a lot of limitations, and I had to compromise. Since the source picture's sword was closest to a two-handed one, even though she holds in in one hand, I went for that, and that also avoided the need to copy the sheild!
You'll note that the manual allows the Rider the choice of weapon, so I can give future recruits a different one of theit own selection.
No armor at all might just be too cold!
(edited to remove broken link)
Hmm, one problem the riders may have is the fact that their bears spend a good portion of the year hibernating. This would give them seasonal restrictions, so perhaps you could go into a little detail about giving special training for work in the winter months, though with shortened hours so as not to mess with the bear's internal clocks too much.
Another one is what would these rider's main job be? Road patrols? While bears can naturally hit a decent speed, the added awkwardness and weight of a wider would probably upset this. So perhaps they're a more specialised branch of the mounted cavalry designed to track criminals in the mountains, rather than patrol duty they're called out on special assignment. Though granted a bear on the path would make me stop whatever I was doing.
Finally are they meant to be fighting while mounted? If so a claymore would be a bit of an unwieldy weapon. While it's true you want a long slashing weapon, to avoid it being dragged out of your hands when you stab, a claymore might be taking this a bit too far. Perhaps some modded katanas? Or a reskin of the Blade Katanas would be suitable? Though this doesn't keep with the Nord aesthetic.
Woops double post.
Although I am not a fan of steel bikinis, this seems like a well put together mod with plausible explanations for your choices. I expect they will use the same AI/mechancis as Legion riders (no mounted combat), so a silver claymore is a fine default choice.
Would they perhaps refer to themselves as Sisters of the Bear? Like others have mentioned, the term girls seems at odds with the fact that they are Legion soldiers - even noting your explanation. I suppose they might affectionately refer to themselves as such perhaps, but I don't think I would want to address them as such - especially when their bears are near.
Oh, to your orignal question, I think this is a fine place to post this since you are mostly looking for some edit help with the manual it seems. It has no errors that I noticed and provides reasonable explanations and information about the bear riders.
OK, time to try my hand at a bit of what the forum's about. This short piece is based on the first quest of my mod, and I'm intending to do a few more for the other quests. Because the tales will have a different NPC character at the focus each time, I've made it all third-person, and the Hero of Kvatch is Bendu Olo (the default player character), who deliberately gets little or no character development, and could be anything from Saintly Mage to Axe-murderer. He's closed the Kvatch gate, so he's probably not too evil, but that's as far as I'm taking him.
Thor sniffed the air, and his rider, Unna, could feel his muscles tense at the smell of something dangerous ahead.
"What is it?" she asked, as if expecting him to talk to her. She hoped it wasn't Daedra again.
She'd only had Thor for a month, after Grendeline had been killed by a Flame Atronach's fireball, in the same fight that had left her with a patch over her left eye. She wasn't sure if it was the shock spell that did it, or the inexperienced Khajiit that healed her, but she had permanent night-eye now, and needed the patch to stop the constant glare of the daylight.
The Daedra had come pouring out of that Oblivion Gate by the trail when the stranger went in. There had often been one or two around it before, but suddenly it was four or five at once, and that was more than she could handle. If she hadn't rolled down the mountainside when the shock spell hit her, she'd be dead just like Grendeline.
She remembered coming round and wondering why they hadn't finished her, before she realised that she'd come to rest behind a boulder, and she couldn't see the Gate, and so they probably couldn't see her. She'd crept back up the slope, watching for Daedra, and sipping a health potion, so as not to reveal herself by casting a spell. She didn't like using them up, as the ingredients to make them were scarce up here in the Jerall Mountains, but she needed something right then.
Then she'd dropped the bottle, and stood up in amazement. The sky wasn't red! The Gate had gone! Well, there was still a jagged scar on the mountainside where it had been, and the bare patch where the snow had melted, but no fiery arch, and most importantly, No Daedra!! She'd stood there for several minutes, staring at the rubble in total disbelief.
That was all a month ago. She'd seen the stranger once more a few days after that, and he'd bought a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps from her. He didn't appear to be the type to drink it himself, so she guessed that Dumner woman at the Hermaeus Mora shrine, (Norasa, wasn't it?) had asked him to get her another.
He'd shown her the Sigil Stone he got from the Oblivion Gate, and explained how it was those that kept the Gates open. He'd even offered to use its magic to enchant her Silver Claymore, but she'd turned that down. She didn't deserve that, and anyway she'd not be able to recharge it up here so far from any Mages Guild. Her armor was already enchanted, with Frost Shield to keep out the cold of the high mountains as well as defense. He'd smiled at that, and she'd known what he was thinking. Nobody could believe how much skin the Riders' uniform exposed. She'd wondered if her uniform had influenced that generous offer.
He'd noticed the eye-patch, but she'd reassured him that the night-eye was as useful in the dark as it was a problem in the day, and she didn't regret getting it, except that it reminded her of Grendeline.
But now she had Thor, and he was stopping to let her dismount. That meant he could see the danger ahead, and they should get ready to meet it. She pulled her Claymore from her back and broke into a run.
One day, she'd get there first, but of course Thor was faster than she was. By the time she reached the Ogre, Thor was already attacking it, and it soon went down for good.
"Only an Ogre this time", she thought. "No match for a bear like mine!" She bent to see if the Ogre was carrying anything, as they often kept shiny things they'd taken from a luckless traveller, only to straighten up abruptly. "Thor," she complained,."you have a really cold, wet nose!"
Interesting and intriguing !!! WOO HOO !!! Great Start !!!
This is fabulous. You develop Unna a great deal in one episode here. I knew from the previous posts in this thread that the story would invove bear riders but by the end, wondered if you would going to advise any new readers that Thor was a bear. I smiled near the end to see that you did just that. I then got a delightful chuckle at Unna being goosed - all the more so becasue I was not expecting it.
This is a lovely little story! I know you are looking to refine things for your mod, but this is a quality story and I didn't see any 'nits' to pick.
@mALX : The start's the easy part, it will be hard keeping any momentum going once I get close to the point I'm at in building the mod. But that shouldn't happen for a few episodes yet.
@Acadian : Thanks! Considering that Unna has only about three lines of dialog in her quest, I probably gave her much more depth here than she gets in the game. But there's always a chance she'll have more to say as I add quests in the future, so it doesn't hurt to think her through a bit more now.
Next is the other quest that's released so far. Most of the dialog is taken directly from the game, and Claudia has much more than Unna did.
She was sitting at the table, reading a book, when she heard the trapdoor creak open. Expecting it to be one of the Watch Captains, she glanced over to see which one, but the trapdoor just closed again, and nobody came through. She was living in the unused captain's quarters in the North watchtower of the Imperial City and so there was a watch barracks just below. She assumed one of the Legionaries had had second thoughts about coming up to talk to her. The Captains didn't allow that.
When she looked back up from the book a moment later, however, there was a man standing next to her. And not just anyone, the Hero of Kvatch!
"What are you doing here?" she asked, somewhat impolitely, but she was startled by his sudden appearance.
"I came to ask you the same question," he said. "One of the beggars told me he'd seen you going into this tower. What's a Mountain Rider doing in a city watchtower? Shouldn't you be on patrol somewhere?"
Claudia explained. "I'm supposed to be on patrol in the Jerall mountains, but I don't have my bear to ride. I've been waiting for weeks for it to arrive from Skyrim, cooped up here in this tower. As the only woman here, I'm getting a bit too much attention from the guard captains, if you know what I mean. You couldn't help me out, could you? I just need to know what's happening about my bear."
"The white bears from Skyrim make wonderful mounts for the icy mountains. They're so sure-footed on the ice and snow, as well as being a strong ally," she continued. "I'm so looking forward to having one of my own! All my Nord colleagues already have theirs."
"But you're a Redguard." he said, making it sound like a question.
"Oh, and my name's Claudia, forgot to tell you! Yes, it's unusual for a Redguard to train as a bear rider, but I lived in Skyrim when I was young. My family moved here to the city not long ago, and I missed the mountains so much. Father said I could go back when I was old enough to look after myself. Training as a Legion rider made sure I could do that! Of course, nothing's perfect, and I do have the problem with the guard captains."
Claudia took a breath, and changed the subject. "But how did you get up here? And why didn't I see you come in?"
The Hero smiled, and slipped a ring onto his finger, fading into almost total invisibility. "Chameleon enchantment. This is a Ring of Shadows I took from a Dremora mage a while ago. I'll need it again to get back out undetected. Don't worry, I'll find out about your bear."
The trapdoor opened and closed again, and Claudia went back to her book.
. . .
The Hero re-appeared just as mysteriously the following day. This time he took off the ring as soon as the trapdoor was closed. Walking over to the table, he unfolded a map. "Can you show me Sky's Edge Cave?"
Claudia pointed to a mark close to the border, where Skyrim and Hammerfell meet Cyrodiil. Yes, she knew that area. "It's not far from the cities of Elinhir and Falkreath, so it makes a good place to hold goods brought over the borders. Is that where my bear is? Can you take me there?"
"First tell me about the Watch Captains."
"When I was in training, I slept with a Legion recruit because he was a Redguard like me, and the only one in a class of Imperials," Claudia began. "I guess I felt sorry for him, because the Imperials all looked down on him as an outsider, and I know they felt the same about me, the only woman. Anyway, when they found out about us, they all expected me to sleep with them, too, as if they had a right to it!"
Claudia paused a moment to scowl at that thought. "So I complained to the captain, and he said he could work something out. They made me an 'honorary junior captain' and gave me these quarters away from the men. I soon found out what I had to do in return. At first they gave me a lot of wine and tried to get me drunk. But I learned drinking in Skyrim, and they couldn't keep up with me!"
She smiled briefly at the memory of the captains all passed out on the floor as she went to bed alone. They'd played a lot of the old drinking games, but she knew how to cheat better than they did, and after a while they were incapable of noticing that they were the ones consuming the most. "Well, at least there aren't as many of them to deal with, and I did get my own room. Besides, it was only until my bear arrived, so I didn't expect it to be long."
The hero drew a piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to her. "Look at the date on that."
She read the document. It was the invoice for the delivery of her bear to Sky's Edge Cave, and it was dated the day before she'd moved into these quarters! "Where did you get this?" she asked, angrily.
"My Ring of Shadows helped me let myself into the Legion headquarters and I just happened to find this in a locked desk drawer" he replied. "I had expected to find something in one of the captains' quarters in the other watchtowers, but they had more sense than to keep it in any personal space. So we don't don't know whose idea it was."
"That doesn't make a lot of difference," muttered Claudia. "I just want to leave here right away, and go get my bear!"
"Won't you be cold up there in the mountains?" he asked, pointing to her bare skin. "You're not a Nord, after all."
"No, I'm a Mountain Rider, so my armor has an enchantment against cold. I need more than the Nords do, but not much. After all, both my grandfathers were pure Nord, so I'm only a Redguard on the outside."
That seemed to satisfy him, and he slipped his ring back on his finger and let her lead him out to the city streets.
. . .
The journey up to the Hermaeus Mora shrine was all along the roads and trails, so it passed fairly uneventfully. There were the usual bandits and wild creatures from time to time, but together they had little problem dealing with them. From the shrine, they headed North across the open snow, looking for the cave entrance. Their prospects of finding it looked as bleak as the landscape; all the rocks looked the same.
"Is that a trail over there?", asked Claudia suddenly, pointing.
"I think it is, but which way is the cave? I guess we'll just have to try one direction and hope."
Naturally, their first choice was the wrong one, and the trail soon petered out without leading anywhere. They turned back the way they'd come. Just around the corner from where they first joined the trail, there was Sky's Edge Cave.
The two entered, hoping the courier and bear were still around.
There was the bear, and behind him, a tall Nord dressed in furs was checking the contents of a crate. His name was Jokull, and he wasn't exactly happy that he'd had to wait so long for someone to collect the bear. He calmed down a bit when they explained about the captains, but they could tell that there was something else on his mind. Apart from the bear delivery, he felt that he was owed extra for the long wait.
"Those 500 septims are a start. But then I need you to get my amulet back from the ogre that stole it. Ogres like shiny things, and one of them stole my amulet when I was making another delivery here. I didn't want to leave the goods I was carrying to chase after him, in case bandits would steal everything else."
Somehow they didn't quite accept his reason for not chasing the ogre himself, but that still left an amulet that needed recovering. Claudia needed some time to introduce herself to her bear, so the Hero left the cave alone to look for the ogre. It wasn't long before he returned and handed an amulet to Jokull. At last a smile came to the Nord's face. "Now I can head back to Falkreath at last," he said. "And I'll admit now that I was concerned about the bear taking to a Redguard. They're really picky about who they allow to ride them, and I'd only seen Nords on their backs before now".
Claudia repeated what she'd told the Hero about her grandfathers being Nords, and he nodded in agreement that she was Nord enough, if the bear thought so. She wondered if his distrust of Redguards had anything to do with living on a disputed border, but she kept quiet about that.
The Hero broke the awkward silence by asking her where she'd be patrolling, now she had her bear at last. She told him that she'd been assigned the stretch from the Hermaeus Mora shrine to the junction of the trail with the one from Sancre Tor to Bruma. "Then you'll be meeting Unna soon" he replied, "Her patrol ends where yours begins, near the shrine. I met her the last time I was up here in the Jerrals, and helped her with a Daedra problem."
"There aren't any Daedra on my patrol, are there?" asked Claudia. "I'm not sure I've trained enough for them."
"Just bandits, mostly" he reassured her "and maybe an ogre or two."
"My bear can handle those," she smiled "With my help, of course".
That was a nice little piece introducing Claudia. Plus a dastardly plot by the men of the Legion to keep her around to (try to) score on her.
Another great little story that gives folks a very solid feel for Claudia and makes her both interesting and quite likeable. You do have a flair for efficiently and effectively developing pleasing characters.
"Cameleon enchantment. This is a Ring of Shadows I took from a Dremora mage a while ago...'
Chameleon is the spelling.
You have trend toward run-on or complex sentences. Let me show you but two examples. I will offer you a suggested alternative on the first one, then leave fiddling with the second one to you:
'This time he took off the ring as soon as the trapdoor was closed, and walked over to the table and unfolded a map. "Can you show me Sky's Edge Cave?"
My recommendation: This time he took off the ring as soon as the trapdoor was closed. Walking over to the table, he unfolded a map and said, "Can you show me Sky's Edge Cave?"
'From the shrine, they headed North across the open snow, looking for the cave entrance, until at last they found a trail that led them to Sky's Edge Cave, and the two entered, hoping the courier and bear were still around.'
@Acadian: I see what you mean about running them together. I think it's my equivalent of Fast Travel; the "get them moved quickly, so we can get back to the story" habit. But it's having the opposite effect, as I'm adding extra conjunctions I don't need.
However, I'm now thinking I want to slow down the second one and take a look around. That's not a piece of the map that gets many visitors, so it could use some scene-painting. Before I added the cave, that was a trail to nowhere, and it still is a trail from nowhere, as there's nothing at the other end. That quirk probably deserves a mention, if I can think of a way to add it. (Edit: and I believe I did).
What I find most exciting about this is that at some point in your story you will be able to get on the PC and see the story come to life - that is AWESOME !!!
I wanted to do something similar but don't have the skills needed. I did make a mod to go along with my fic - just for my own personal use - but it made a huge difference to me in inspiring the story as well.
I am so excited to see where this goes when you bring in the mod - this is HUGE that you are making a whole story as a backdrop to your mod (or making a mod as a backdrop to your story) - AWESOME !!!
Loving the story so far !!!
The first two tales in this short series featured two of the riders, because the quests did the same. The third quest didn't have a central character, so I just picked one to give the tale a viewpoint. All the dialog with the Hero is taken directly from the in-game dialog, the rest is added for this story.
Svana's bear galloped along the trail towards Silver Tooth Cave, the point where her patrol ended, and Pala's began. She was hoping to see her fellow Rider there, as she hadn't spoken to anyone for several days.
And there she was, talking to a traveler! Svana urged her bear even faster, as the prospect of a real conversation was too good to miss.
"... the same old route, and the same cold weather all the time. Every now and then there's a bit of excitement when a new bunch of bandits move into the camp, but we clear them out and it's back to wild animals," Pala was telling him. "I need a bit of the other kind of excitement, if you know what I mean. And a few days off to enjoy it."
Svana dismounted and went to join them. "This has to be the hardest duty in all the Legion! It's always cold up here and we have to camp out in the open," she agreed. "I patrol this same stretch from Silver Tooth Cave to the road to the Ancestor Moth Temple over and over and rarely see anything but wild creatures." She almost envied Pala's recurring bandits, she thought ruefully. At least they spoke to her, even if it was just to tell her to jump on their swords. "I need a change of scenery for a few days - and a bit of male company wouldn't go amiss, either," she continued, echoing Pala's sentiments.
"The men get to sleep in barracks in the cities, or stay at the Inns and Taverns on their patrols. Every month, they rotate duties, and get a couple of days to relax before their new assignments. We girls don't have a base of our own to go back to. That's what we really need." Pala told him.
It was about then that it dawned on Svana that she was talking with the Hero of Kvatch! Her mind raced with the possibilities. The higher-ups never listened to the Riders' complaints, but would they listen to the Hero? He dashed those hopes almost immediately when he told them about how Claudia had been treated, and how little he'd been able to do through official channels.
But then he raised them again, by announcing that he'd take their cause to Ocato, the High Chancellor himself!
As the Hero strode off down the trail in the direction of Cheydinhal, the two women conferred. "Do you believe he can do it?" asked Svana.
"If anybody can" replied Pala, climbing back onto her bear. "We''ll just have to wait and see."
Several days later Svana met up with her colleague again. Pala told her she'd seen the Hero again just a few hours before, and he'd asked the way to Fort Horunn. He'd brought the good news that he had indeed been able to speak to the High Chancellor. He'd told Ocato about the Riders' lack of a base, and he had appeared sympathetic to the idea.
"So what's the bad news?" asked Svana. "If it was all good, you'd still be jumping up and down."
"Well, the way he put it was that you never get something from a politician, without giving something in exchange. In this case, Ocato wants a book found. It's supposed to describe a powerful spell or something." Pala tried to explain. "Apparently, the Hero had found a spell book when he was in the Chorrol area, called 'Finger of the Mountain', and returned it to the Mages Guild there. They'd sent it to the Mystic Archives at the Arcane University and a scholar there had discovered a reference to this other book, the one Ocato wants."
"So he's going into Fort Horunn to look for it. That's just off your patrol, isn't it?"
"Yes, and I'm glad it's not actually on my route. I'm sure I've seen will-o-the-wisps glowing near it."
Svana shivered, and it wasn't just the cold air.
Another week passed, or maybe a little more. She had seen Pala another time near the cave, but she didn't have any news except "Same old bandits, same old wolves".
She was nearing the other end of her patrol, where the trail forked to go up to the Temple of the Ancestor Moths. A bay horse stood at the junction, without a rider. She dismounted and walked over to it.
"Thanks for watching my horse" said a voice behind her. A Legionary stepped out of the brush, wiping blood off his sword. "Only a wolf", he continued. He sheathed the weapon, and then reached into his saddlebag, pulling out two scrolls of parchment. "You're Svana, I presume". She nodded.
He handed the scrolls to Svana. "These are for you, and I have another pair to deliver to Pala. She'll be further up this trail, right?"
"Yes, her patrol starts at Silver Tooth Cave, and goes all the way to Dragon Claw Rock, due north of Bruma." replied Svana. "She could be anywhere along that stretch."
"Thank you again, ma'am" said the Legionary, remounting. "I'd read those right away, if I were you".
Svana did so. Twice, because she didn't believe it all the first time.
The first was her new orders. They included her schedule for R&R, at the new Lodge they'd just completed outside Bruma! She'd have three days there each month from now on, and sleep in a real bed in a warm room. There was a tavern there, and the prospect of company!
The second was from the Hero, filling in the other half of the story. The book had indeed been in the Fort. The spell it described was so powerful, no mage could cast it! The scholars at the University were currently working on a plan to harness a Dark Welkynd Stone to use it as a trap. He didn't yet know where the trap was to be set, but he'd keep them informed as soon as there was any news.
The Black Horse Courier knew of the Riders' part in the discovery of the book, so she should expect to be interviewed. The letter told her what the reporters were allowed to know at this time..It also gave her a few hints to guide her "speculation" about the things she wasn't supposed to know. Those could be used to feed rumors as well, so she had plenty to talk about at the Lodge when her turn came round.
When was that again? She read that part a third time. "I get to be the first Rider to stay at the Lodge? Pala can keep her bandits; I got the bragging rights now!"
"Wow! this is more than the hut I was expecting" Svana said to herself, as she came in sight of the building. "It looks big enough for us all to stay here at the same time".
When she stepped into the Lodge, she found that was precisely the intention of Gudrun, the new Captain. "If I need to bring you all in for a briefing, you all need proper accomodation. I have to allow for recruitment, too, as Ocato's got big plans for us."
Gudrun told her to go downstairs and pick a room. Since each Rider had a regular schedule for their stay at the Lodge, they'd be able to use the same one each time. Anything they left in storage, such as civilian clothes, could be moved into their room before they arrived, and put back away when they left. "But I don't have any civilian clothes," she protested.
"Then go into Bruma and buy some. You've got a bonus to spend!" replied Gudrun, dropping a heavy bag of coin into her hand.
Svana could only nod, and Gudrun turned and went back up the stairs to her office. Taking the other stairs down, Svana went to check out the bedrooms.
She must be dreaming! Rugs, paintings, tapestries, cupboards and drawers in each of the rooms. And a big, soft, double bed! She checked them all, and every room was the same, except for the colors on the covers, so she chose the green. She sprawled on the bed, sinking into the soft comforter and thought "Three whole days of this, and again every month!"
Sitting up again, she looked around the room once more. noticing the little things. There were potted plants in the corners, a chest she could lock, and a white plush toy bear sitting on the top of the drawers. There had to be a catch somewhere, this was just too good to be true.
But Gudrun told her otherwise. "This place is supposed to help us recruit new Riders," she explained. "You already know what it's like out on patrol, and Ocato's concerned that we couldn't get any more girls to join us if that was all we had to offer."
The Captain continued. "While you're here, the Legion pays your bar tab, and you can eat as much as you like in the dining hall. The smith in town will do your repairs, and send us the bill. When we have more Riders, we'll probably add our own forge and do it all here."
"Oh, and I nearly forgot to tell you about Timo." Gudrun winked when she said that. "He''ll do any recharging you need. You can find him down in the hall, probably taking to Magnus, the barkeep".
Svana looked puzzled. Her armor didn't need recharging, and her Claymore wasn't enchanted, so why...? Her blush told Gudrun that she understood.
I'll add some screenshots here as soon as I have the links sorted out.
Another nice little piece about Svana and Palla. The teddy bear was a delightful touch!
One thing that immediately came to mind at the beginning however, was that the two women were talking to the (presumably male) Hero of Kvatch and saying how they miss male company. Talk about a hint as subtle as the Ministry of Truth crashing into you! Yet it all blows right over the HoK's head, as all he says is he'll take it up with Ocato? Unless the HoK is gay, should we then presume that the women are as attractive as the bears they ride?
Nice background-building on the bear riders, and provides for their own lodge!
"Three whole days of this, and again every month!"
I'm not gonna go here.
@SubRosa: That's the in-game dialog that they say to the player, and I didn't provide alternate lines for all the possibilities of player gender or orientation. This conversation does take place on a bleak, snowy trail, where immediate action would be suicide by frostbite. And it may have influenced his decision to find them somewhere warmer and more comfortable, especially if he considers himself a potential beneficiary in future.
@mALX: I haven't decided if Ocato will visit the Lodge later, but he does have some gratitude "in the bank" if he wants to cash in.
@Acadian: Blame the game's AI scheduling for that. I originally planned for them to cycle through the Lodge every twenty days or so, but that wasn't an option.
I have enjoyed the persistent image of a strapping, manly HoK standing on a snowy path chatting with two nubile young steel g-stringed bear babes, boldly writing “find…dates…for…hot…bear…chicks” in his stalwart little notebook.
Seriously though, since I know absolutely nothing about modding, it has taken me a few read-throughs to figure out what’s going on. But now I think I get it. I like it!!! The warm lodge is a great contrast to the bleak wilderness. I can’t wait to hear Timo’s story. I expect he takes a lot of vitamins.
To help with the persistent images. I'll try an experimental link to a screenshot. The URL isn't stable yet, as I'm still trying to get a static IP address.
http://ghastley.org/Oblivion/images/gudrun_lg.jpg - She's obviously learned a lot from Sigrid about posture.
If my address changes, that link will get broken, and I'll have to come back and edit it later. Let me know if it works for you, and I'll add a few more.
Oh my! Does the Captain’s desk chair also find armor irritating? It works!!
ETA: I love to see your ideas come to life on the screen! The bear toy is especially nice touch, someone being thoughtful.
I know the Nords love the cold but... might she be taking things a tad too far? Normally I wouldn't be making snow-angels in my undies unless I downed a bottle of Amaretto.
Still, there's always good old fashioned Nordic Whiskey (in a jar).
But I digress, that's a mighty fine looking bikini you've got there.
Well I guess that means the link worked.
http://ghastley.org/Oblivion/images/GudrunSleep.jpg - this illustrates the cuddly toy - and the little plush bear as well.
http://ghastley.org/Oblivion/images/LodgeBar.jpg and http://ghastley.org/Oblivion/images/LodgeDining.jpg of the Lodge.
And here's http://ghastley.org/Oblivion/Docs/RidersLodge.jpg.
And while the links are working - http://ghastley.org/Oblivion/Docs/Bear_Riders.html
Academic airhead is a great description. Heidi's way of putting it is that she thinks slowly, but carefully. It may take her a long time to figure something out, but she'll probably take it further than anyone else could. She also has a good memory, because she has to think things through after she's been told something, so she can't afford to miss what was said.
http://www.tesnexus.com/imageshare/image.php?id=83369 - both girls are Heidi. I test-played the start of her quest with her as the player character.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but I feel I owe a few words again.
This introduces the last of the regular Riders, a Dunmer called Ystrel, who is given a patrol in the Valus Mountains. Again, most of the dialog with the Hero comes straight from the game.
The Hero of Kvatch paid a visit to the new Riders' Lodge, to see what came of his dealings with the High Chancellor. Magnus, the barkeep, sent him up the stairs to introduce himself to Gudrun, the new Captain.
"Well met," she beamed, sensing that this was someone she should get to know. "I gather we have you to thank for getting Ocato interested in the Mountain Riders. We wouldn't have this place if you hadn't found that book for him."
The Hero couldn't help noticing that Gudrun's version of the Riders' uniform was even more revealing than the lesser ranks'. When he met her eyes again, she remarked that it was all part of the recruiting effort. It was her job to project the glamour of the job, not the dangers and the arduous conditions of the patrols. The well-appointed Lodge was part of that same plan. It also served to keep up the morale of the Riders.
Gudrun was happy to admit that she was making the most of the opportunity. As a Nord, she didn't regard Bruma as particularly cold, and she had a nice comfortable office indoors anyway.She got to pick her own furnishings, recruit her own staff, and the duties were light. She really only had to look good, and accept any applications to join from suitable candidates.
"And talking of recruits", she said, "we found one already. She's gone through her training. The Legion let her have a few days off to go back to her home town before she reported here."
High Chancellor Ocato had asked her to set up patrols in the Valus Mountains, as well as the Jerrals. She wasn't sure if it would work out. There's no snow in those mountains, so wouldn't they need brown bears? Well, the first step was to get someone from the area.
"Ystrel should have been here two days ago. If you're heading to Cheydinhal, could you ask if anyone there knows where she is?" the Captain concluded.
The Hero was indeed headed in that direction, so he agreed to Gudrun's request.
The Hero described Ystrel to the guard at Cheydinhal's West gate. He remembered her armor, at least. "The girl in the strange uniform? I heard she got tossed into jail. Ask Dervera Romalen about it, over at the Newlands Lodge. She'll tell you all about it."
The Lodge was right there by the gate, so that was easy. The Dunmer innkeeper remembered her somewhat better than the guard had. "Yes, she was in here for a drink the other night. Spent her last Septim on wine, and then some stupid Orc tried to fondle her buns. Got himself slapped right out the door onto the street! She's got a really nice backhander, that one!" laughed Dervala.
Then a frown came over her face "The guards put her in jail for that."
Several of the other people in the town told him tales of the fines the guards were levying these days, so it wasn't hard to figure out that Ystrel just hadn't been able to pay. In that case, getting her out should be simple enough.
The fine was more than he expected. Weren't fines supposed to be the same across the whole of Cyrodiil? He'd have to find out more about that later. The guard opened her cell and let her out.
She confirmed Dervala's account. "I was in the Newlands Lodge having 'one for the road' on my way out of town. I'd just spent my last bit of gold on some wine, when an Orc took my skimpy uniform as an invitation. I gave him such a backhander, he went flying out the door into the street! But that brought the guards in. They usually don't care what happens inside the bar, but when it gets outside, they take action. Everyone said it was the Orc's fault, even he admitted that, but the guards said I hit him, so it was a fine or jail for me. Since I'd just spent all my money, here I am."
"And you should be in Bruma" he reminded her. "Get your uniform on, we need to go".
Back outside Bruma, Gudrun was waiting for them. "Good, you've brought Ystrel just in time to meet her bear. He just arrived from Skyrim. We should go out and get them together right away!"
They all went out to the side of the lodge, where a white bear was waiting. It sniffed at Ystrel, and backed away from her.
"I have a problem" said Ystrel."The bear won't let me get onto his back. He seems to understand I'm Legion, but he doesn't think I'm a proper Rider."
The Hero had noticed the bear sniffing at her, and thought he might know the problem. First he asked Gudrun what she liked to eat. "Beef, Onions and Potatoes, washed down with a good beer. Of course, I have to watch how much of that I eat, or get more exercise."
Ystrel's answer confirmed his suspicions. "Ham and cheese, with lettuce, tomato and a loaf of bread. I prefer a wine with it, but it doesn't have to be anything special, like Tamika's. But I'm not really choosy, that's just what I was brought up on."
He explained to Gudrun that bears have a keen sense of smell, and Ystrel just didn't smell like the Nords he was used to. You are what you eat, and Ystrel hadn't been eating the Nord diet, so her scent was ... foreign.
"So you're saying that bears want their riders to smell of stale beer and radish farts?" asked Gudrun "That's what most of the men around here smell like."
The Hero pointed out that a woman wasn't going to smell like a man, any more than a Dunmer would have the same scent as a Nord.
"So we just need to feed Ystrel the local diet for a while, you think? Couldn't we just get her to dab some Ale behind her ears?" Gudrun pondered a monent "We'll do both!"
A week later, he was passing Bruma again and looked in at the Lodge. He met Gudrun first.
"We had Ystrel eat like a Nord, drink like a Nord, and sleep with a Nord" she told him "Actually that last part was her idea. She is a Dunmer, after all. But finally the bear likes her. Let's hope he doesn't think the Valus Mountains smell strange!"
Gudrun smiled broadly. "Go talk to Ystrel, I think she has something for you."
The Hero walked into the bar to find Ystrel sitting at a table with a mug of ale, rather than her usual wine. "There's more to that scent thing than I realized. After a few days of Nord diet, the Nord men seemed a lot more attractive than before. I mean, more than just a few days without would account for. I hope it hasn't put me off everyone else! Anyway, I think I owe you something for all your help. I hope you like this!".
Ystrel handed him one of the toy bears. Somehow, it was just the right reward.
Note: Although Gudrun mentions needing brown bears for the Valus patrols, they're only training white ones, so that's what arrived from Skyrim.
Oh, I like this one! Just the right touch of action, humor, 'bear rider lore' and character development. Nicely done! You brought quite the chuckle that she decided to sleep with a Nord as well as eat their diet.
Oh! This is that one quest where you help her change her diet? This is AWESOME to see it here in story form and on the mod !!! I am loving this !!!
I've been busy trying to build a new quest to introduce Heidi, so I haven't done much conversion of the story into narrative. I'm also fiddling with the order of the quests to make them flow a bit better. Timo's can be done at any time after the Lodge is opened, so let's have that next.
"I don't suppose you could help me with a small problem I'm having?" Timo asked the Hero of Kvatch. "It's all very embarrassing, really. I keep getting a strange urge to scratch behind my ear ... with my foot. Not to mention trying to lick places I can't reach. And it's changed the way I ... er... approach the girls."
"So when did it start?"
"It all started after I got bitten by that wolf. The wound healed quickly, but it itched for days, and then the urges started."
The Hero assured Timo that he'd do what he could, and went to talk to Pala, whom he'd noticed in the bar.
"He has been acting a bit differently recently." Pala agreed. "It's not all 'missionary' any more, and he's learned to use his tongue."
"Not so sure about all the sniffing and howling, though." she continued, looking a bit disgusted at that thought.
Gudrun had much the same to say. "Now that you mention it, he has developed a few new tricks recently. I like the variety, so I'm not complaining. But you say he's doing other wolf-like things? That's not so good. Maybe that friend at the University can look it up for you."
That was a good idea. The friend she was referring to was Tar-Meena, the librarian at the Mystic Archives. Her research on the spell books was, in part, responsible for the Lodge being built, so Gudrun regarded her as a friend of the Riders, even though she'd never met her herself.
Tar-Meena recognized the symptoms right away. "An Argonian woman I knew had the same problem. Lesser Lycanthropy."
"You're probably aware of Hircine's Curse, or Greater Lycanthropy. It's a disease that actually turns you into a wolf, or other predator," she remarked. "You get to be a hunter and hunted at the same time, so it fits Hircine's idea of sport."
She frowned as she continued. "Lesser Lycanthropy is Sheogorath's doing. You only think you're a wolf or dog, and make an idiot of yourself. Beewos caught it. I don't know if you've met her, but it drove her insane before it could be cured."
"So there is a cure?"
"Yes, it's not all that hard to cure it, if you can do it in time. You should talk to Bothiel and Julienne Fanis about it. I gather there are ingredients to gather and something about a full moon is involved."
Julienne knew about Lesser Lycanthropy. "You'll need to talk with Bothiel about timing, but I can tell you the ingredients you'll need. The main one is Nightshade, and we have that growing right here, but all the others are meat. Any three of Beef, Boar, Ham, Mutton, Rat or Venison. And Daedra hearts are another option, if you can find them."
Bothiel was also familiar with it. "Did you talk to Julienne about ingredients already? That's only half the cure. The rest is determined by the phases of the moons. Go gather the ingredients while I check my charts. Everything must be done at the right time!"
As Julienne said, there was Nightshade growing right outside the door of the Lustratorium, but the meat would have to be found further afield. The Taverns in the city would probably have some of those, and Boar and Deer roamed the island outside. It didn't take long to gather what was needed. While Julienne busied herself with the alchemy, he went to consult Bothiel again.
"Everything appears to be linked to the lunar cycle, but it's not too complicated. A full moon will make the symptoms worse, and that's exactly the time the potion won't work," she explained.
"I wonder if that's what happened with Beewos"
"Possibly, but more likely she just waited too long before looking for a cure. If Timo just avoids a full moon, he'll be fine! Julienne should have the potion ready as soon as you get back to her."
Julienne had indeed completed the potion. She warned that Timo might not be himself when the moons were full, and it was important not to let him take it then. Perhaps letting someone else administer it was the prudent approach?
Gudrun took the bottle. "So I need to make sure it's not a full moon when Timo takes this? I can do that."
She walked outside and looked up at the sky. With two moons to deal with, she didn't expect to remember their phases. Unfortunately it was cloudy, and she couldn't see them. "That won't last" she said, hopefully. "As soon as it clears, we'll know if its safe".
It was several days later that he passed through Bruma again. long enough for Timo to have taken the cure.
"Well, it appears to be cured. When I want to scratch behind my ear, I use my hand now." Timo told him. "But somehow the women smell different, better actually. I suppose I learned a few things from my inner dog!"
Over Timo's shoulder, he could see Gudrun and Ystrel nodding vigorously in agreement. Then they dissolved into laughter that Timo didn't quite understand. "What did I say?"
This was a delightful little story and quest! I think your concept of 'lesser lycanthropy' being a product of Sheo is brilliant. It was also funny to hear how the disease affected (improved?) his services.
"Everything appears to be linked to the lunar cycle, but it's not too complicated. A full moon will make the symptoms worse, and that's exactly the time the potion won't work." she explained
Two tiny problems here near the end. Replace the period after 'work' with a comma and add a period to the very end of the whole passage. The end part should read: …won't work," she explained.
DLed the beta. LETS DO THIS
@Acadian nit fixed. That was a case of adding the "she explained" without adjusting the rest.
This whole story was inspired by talking to Beewos when I did the Shoegorath shrine quest to get a disposable Daedric Artifact for Martin. I used to be a dog, but I got better. Not a better dog, I'm a terrible dog now. Tomorrow, who knows? It just struck me that this affliction was a Sheo version of Hircine's that suited the lore perfectly and it begged for some expansion.
@King Coin don't expect a lot to be available immediately. I'm still shuffling the order of the quests to make the story flow better, and several of them are buggy and lacking in action or story. It will be some time before the full release. The first quests were just to introduce the Riders, and fairly safe against revision, so I could release those as a trial to gauge reactions.
My main problem at the moment with the mod is trying to write something that doesn't depend too much on the Main Quest. The Mythic Dawn are introduced at the outset, and the acolytes in the Lake Arrius Cavern continue to spawn there after the MQ is complete. That means they're fairly safe to use at any time, but I keep having to review dialog to eliminate assumptions that Mankur Camoran is alive or dead, or that Gates are still/already open. The tales here don't have that problem, because I'm recounting one instance of playing a quest that can act differently when played by someone else.
So when you meet Unna, there may not be an Oblivion Gate along her patrol, because it hasn't opened, or it was already closed. However there is a spawn point for a Daedra near there, regardless of the Gate's presence. Claudia's quest works at any point, but you'll need a reasonable level of Stealth (or equivalent spells) to sneak into the Watchtower and Legion Office.
I've just finished creating the quest to introduce Heidi to the story, and it didn't require much change to the one before it, so I should have a couple more episodes written soon for here.
It will probably be a while before my character wanders that far north to run into her patrol route. She [my character] dislikes the cold.
Now all the girls are going to want to upgrade their boyfriends with a light case of Lesser Lycanthropy. Sniffing and howling seems a small price to pay.
I like the gathering ingredients aspect. Sometimes it's hard to find a rat when you want one.
I've been busy adding to the mod itself, and rather neglecting the stories here, mine and yours.
This will give you an idea of where it's going, if I can only find a reason to take Heidi to the Isles with the player, or to fetch her later.
Neat combination of an oblivion gate with Order pylons (or whatever they are called)! I imagine it leads to wherever Jygallag went to after the new Prince of Madness defeated him?
You know... That sounds like a lot of fun!
I've created most of the final(?) quest of the SI arc. Now I need to go back a bit and get everyone in place for it, but before I get too far away from where I left off in Tamriel, here's another quest on the way there.
When the Hero of Kvatch next passed by the Rider's Lodge, Timo was just leaving to go into town. "Did you speak to Gudrun?" he asked. "She was looking for you."
"What did she want?"
"She was heading into the Imperial City, and was hoping you could go with her. Could you meet her at the Waterfront?"
Timo didn't know any more than that. Nor did Magnus, the barman, and all the Riders were out on patrol. If he wanted to find out what was going on, he'd have to visit the City.
The residents of the Waterfront had seen Gudrun down on the docks near the Galleon at the Western end, talking to the crew. She was still there when he wandered down, in conversation with one of the beggars. She noticed him arriving and came over.
"Good, You're here! Now we can go look at the location for the new office." she began.
"Yes, Chancellor Ocato is still insisting that the Valus Mountains need more patrols. I keep telling him there aren't any trails and I can't get the riders." she replied. "He just won't listen, so I asked for an office in the city, thinking that would put him off, but it hasn't. We're here to look at a place."
WIth that, she turned and walked over to a large door next to the archway that lead through to his own small shack. She took a key from somewhere (how can there be pockets in a uniform like hers?) and unlocked the door. They went inside and Gudrun lit a torch.
There were spider webs everywhere, and broken crates and barrels littered the stairs. Picking their way through the debris, they reached a modestly-sized cellar space, just as full of trash as the way in.
And there, standing in the corner watching them, was the reason the place was unused. The ghostly figure of an Argonian lifted his eyes and gazed in their direction. "Why did I ever open that restaurant?" he asked.
"What restaurant?" they asked in return.
The ghost began to explain. He'd rented this cellar from the Imperial Trading Company for several years. He had a hunter for a partner, who would gather venison in the Great Forest, bring it into the City and store it down here. Once a week, a small boat would ferry the meat down to Leyawiin, where he would create his culinary masterpieces.
This arrangement had worked well for quite some time, each of the two doing what they did best, and making a decent profit from it. They didn't meet often, but they didn't need to.
But then it had all gone wrong. The boat arrived in Leyawiin with a cargo of rat carcasses, and no venison. He didn't know what to do!
"For a short time, I was able to serve the rat meat instead, using my heaviest sauces, and in spicy stews, but eventually the customers noticed." he told them "So I came here to wait for Jim, and find out what was going on. When he turned up, he told me he was a goblin now, and stuck a dagger in me. I bled to death here in the cellar, while he ran off. Now I can't rest until I get my revenge on Jim."
"So who was this Jim?"
"Although Jim was my partner, I never knew the rest of his name." the ghost confessed. "I heard that he came from Skingrad, so maybe you'll find out more there."
In Skingrad, nobody remembered a hunter called Jim, but one woman mentioned that Ah-Malz and Parwen at the Fighters Guild were both fond of hunting goblins. Since the Argonian had mentioned Jim saying that he was a goblin before he stabbed him, it was at least a clue. They went over to talk to them.
Neither of those two could tell them anything useful, but there they met an Imperial named Fadus Calidius, who told them about a large cave outside town called "Goblin Jim's". This was too much of a coincidence, so they asked him to point it out on the map.
It was nearly half-way to Chorrol, but this was the best lead they'd had so far. They set out straight away.
Goblin Jim's Cave had the usual pair of skirmisher guards outside, but they had to deal with a Flame Atronach and a bear as well before they even entered the cave door. The goblins had tribal tattoos on their arms, which made it likely that this was a major settlement, home to a whole tribe of them.
"Remind me why we're here" asked Gudrun, as she re-sharpened her claymore..
"We need Jim, because we need the Argonian to leave the cellar."
"Oh, yes, the cellar. The one I told Ocato we needed as an office. Why did I come up with that idea?"
They headed into the cave, Gudrun carrying a torch and following the Hero down the first passage.
Fortunately, the tunnels were narrow and no more than two goblins could reach them at once. Progress through the warren was slow but steady. There were traps everywhere, but the goblins themselves tripped a lot of them before they could do any harm. Pausing frequently to heal and repair, they continued downward into Whiteskin City.
The second level contained more and nastier goblins, including a war chief that took forever to take down. But still no Jim.
A side passge they'd almost overlooked led to another door marked "Pantry". This turned out to be yet another level of caves, with even more goblins. What appeared to be a house, or at least the frame and roof of one, stood on a ledge. Inside it, they saw the green swirl of an illusion spell being cast and heard a human voice. Something they couldn't see sent a fireball in their direction.
Gudrun and the Hero dodged the fireball in opposite directions, and continued to either side of where it came from. If they kept Jim between them, he couldn't attack both at once with an area spell. But where was he? Gudrun swung her long claymore in a wide arc, just hoping Jim was in range.
She didn't make contact, but he had to dodge out of the way, and couldn't fire off another attack before the chameleon effect faded. They both saw him at once and lunged. Jim shot a bolt of frost from the staff he was carrying, but chose the wrong target. Gudrun's uniform did its job, and the frost shield enchantment nullified the spell. Jim died with a puzzled look on his face.
"I didn't think I'd ever need the frost shield" said Gudrun, when she could breathe again. "Not with a desk job, and not having to ride a bear. Wrong again."
Back at the waterfront, the Argonian was pleased to hear of Jim's demise. "Now I can rest, and you can have the cellar."
He walked off as only a ghost can, through the wall.
"Where'd he go?" asked Gudrun, but she didn't wait for an answer. "Well, I know where I'm going, and that's shopping! I'll have to buy new furniture for the place, but Ocato's paying the bills, so It will be nice and comfortable when I'm done. Come back in a couple of days and see what I manage!"
For the next two days he could hear sawing and hammering whenever he passed the door, and a woman's voice giving the workmen orders. Eventually the door was unlocked and she beckoned him inside.
The place was completely transformed. A wooden counter divided the space in two, with a pair of benches on the public side for applicants to wait. A screened-off area at the back concealed a comfortable bed and storage chest, while the other corner held a table, chair and bookshelf. Candle stands in all the corners made up for the lack of windows, Legion banners hid the bare stone of the walls and there was an opulent-looking rug on the floor behind the counter.
"Cozy, isn't it?" asked Gudrun. "I won't mind living here for a while, especially with the Market District shops just across town."
He came back again a few days later and aked how recruiting was going.
"I've had a few men offer to join me, but that had nothing to do with Legion business" she replied. "But no girls. Not even unsuitable ones. There's probably no point being here all the time, so I'll come down from Bruma once a month for a few days. After all, I don't want Timo getting rusty!"
With that, she picked up a number of large bags and headed for the door. Divine Elegance's mark was printed on several of them.
Ah, so now two mysteries are explained!
The mystery of the Leyawiin Rat Delight, and the mystery of Goblin Jim.
Hey, both work for me!
Of course Weebam-Na couldn't afford to eat there, he just heard the story from the ex-customers, and embellished it a bit.
Another fun segment, this one focused on Gudrun and a new office in the IC.
A nice mixture of the familiar and new.
'He walked off as only a ghost can, through the wall.'
How perfect is this?!?
"After all, I don't want Timo getting rusty!"
Goodness no! One must take proper care of one's tools.
I'm experiencing "Modder's Block" at the moment. I have a quest for the player to fetch some water from the Grove of Reflection at Milchar, but I just can't decide what the problem will be with the apparently simple fetch task. So to distract myself for while I've written up the next tale from the earlier part of the story, as that seems to be well-settled now.
"Would you believe it? I have a recruit!" exclaimed Gudrun. "Her name is Heidi, and she comes from just over the border in Skyrim. But why don't you let her tell you her story, and see if you think she'll make a good Rider for us. I'd like a second opinion."
Heidi was siiting on the bench near the corner. A Nord as tall and as blonde as Gudrun, a little less tanned, but conspicuously top-heavy to more than make up for it. She stood up and walked over.
"Hi! I'm Heidi. They all call me 'Hidy' Heidi, because everyone notices me, especially the men. I've always wanted to be a Bear Rider, and when I heard that they were recruiting, I came here to apply". She paused briefly before continuing. "I haven't done much riding. I feel wobbly when I'm up on a horse, but bears are wider, aren't they? And I'm really good with a claymore. My Blade teacher says I'm a natural swordswoman. It's just something I can do without thinking about it. Which is good, because I think slower than most."
He asked about the 'thinking slowly' part, and she did so, before replying "Yes, that's my only problem with joining. I don't have good academic qualifications, because I don't do well in exams. It's all because I don't have enough time. I don't get the answers wrong, but I don't finish enough to get good marks. It also means I can't do much magic, because I can't think of the right spell fast enough. Healing is my best, because I can take my time."
She brightened up a little as she added "And I have a good memory for what people say to me, even if I don't understand it at first. That lets me think it over until I do."
Gudrun seemed to think that she might not be right for patrol duties, as you needed to think quickly for that. "I can't see us squeezing her into the regulation cuirass either, although half the Legion would volunteer to help us try!" But it didn't matter, there were other jobs she could do.
It appeared that Gudrun had already decided, and a second opinion wasn't required.
Heidi wanted to know what she would be wearing, if the regular uniform wouldn't fit.
"With her Blade skill, she doesn't need armor so much as support and restraint." Gudrun reasoned "And nothing's better for that than good strong steel. Gin-Wulm in the Market District should be able to make her something like mine, ... only roomier.''
Gudrun gave Heidi a note to take to Gin-Wulm that would authorize him to make a custom uniform, and send the bill to the Legion. "He made mine, so he'll know what's needed".
Heidi headed off across town and went into the Best Defense to find Gin-Wulm. Despite offers of help from both his assistants, the Argonian Master Armorer took her measurements himself. He pulled a pair of boots from a rack and had her try them on.
"Good, that's one item we won't have to make specially for you."
The rest would have to be uniquely crafted, but only the cuirass would take any significant work. She should return in a day, and they would have something ready for her to try on.
Leaving the shop, she paused outside the door and looked around. She could either return to the Waterfront and spend another night at the Bloated Float, or she could look for an Inn here in the Market District. That would save her walking all the way across the city and back, but she didn't really know this area well. She'd have to ask the Legion Guard for directions to an Inn.
Before she could reach the guard post at the gate, however, a well-dressed man came up to her. "I haven't seen you around here before." he said. "Are you new in town?"
Heidi replied that she was, to this part at least, and she was looking for the nearest Inn, so she could rent a bed for the night.
"I was just on my way there for a drink," he said "Let me buy you one, and I'll take you there."
Heidi smiled to herself. This wasn't the first time she'd been invited to the tavern for a drink, and it wouldn't be the last. She decided to make the most of the situation. "Lead on".
At the Market Inn, Velus Hosidius showed them to a table in the corner. "Since he's paying, I won't ask for Tamika's 399" she joked, "just an ale will do". The man ordered the same, and they sat down together and started to chat.
The table was full of empty bottles, and they were the only ones left in the bar. Heidi raised her mug, and drank the last of her ale. When she lowered it again, the man had disappeared. Standing up, she walked around the table to find him lying on the floor next to his chair.
"I'll be needing a room for the night" she announced to Velus "And I'll pay for that myself, since he won't be sharing." She passed across the twenty drakes for the room, and walked up the stairs, with only the slightest unsteadiness.
Velus watched her appreciatively and chuckled. It's not easy to out-drink a Nord, but the fool had tried it anyway. He'd spent a lot more than he'd expected in the process, without getting anything but tomorrow's hangover.
As she sat eating a sweetroll the next morning, Heidi was thinking about something strange the man had said. He was slurring his words a lot by then, and his small-talk wasn't really worth listening to, but she had heard "dawn is breaking". That made no sense to her, and she resolved to ask Gudrun about it when she got back to the office with her uniform.
It was nearly time to go over to the Best Defense and check on their progress. She needed to buy a sword as well, so her first stop was at "A Fighting Chance", just next door to the Inn. She told Rohssan that she needed a Silver weapon. "Legion standard?" she asked.
"Yes," replied Heidi, "but I need a claymore, not a longsword. It's for the Mountain Riders"
Rohssan showed her a selection, and she picked one that was slightly longer than the others. It felt well-balanced, and as she swung it a few times, Heidi knew that this was the right choice.
"Looks like you're handy with a blade" Rohssan remarked. "Not many are that quick with a two-hander."
Despite the flattery, Heidi haggled hard and got a good price. Then she set off across the street to the Best Defense.
Gin-Wulm had not only made her armor already, but it fit perfectly without needing any adjustment. The steel he'd used was thin and light, with a slight blue sheen. It had a comfortable lining built in, so she wouldn't need to wear anything underneath it. The lower half was somewhat minimal, but she wouldn't get arrested. Not that there was a lot to the top if you took off the pauldrons, but it provided all the support she needed.
It would need to be enchanted as well, or even a Nord like her would feel the cold, and that would provide further magical defense. She'd have to take it to the Chironasium at the Arcane University for that, but Gudrun hadn't provided the orders yet. Thanking Gin-Wulm again for his efforts, she headed back to the Waterfront.
Back at the office, Heidi told Gudrun and the Hero of Kvatch about the events of the previous evening. He recognized the phrase "Dawn is Breaking" and asked her to accompany him back to the Inn to look for the man. On the way he told her what he knew about the Mythic Dawn and their plot.
Velus Hosidius at the Merchants Inn remembered Heidi, but not the man she was with. He'd had his back to the bar, and Velus had been more intent on watching Heidi anyway. After Heidi had gone upstairs, the stranger had been carried out by two other men. Velus didn't recognize any of them. "At least they paid," he remarked.
No-one else remembered the man. Heidi had drawn everyone's attention, and he'd gone almost unnoticed. The trail had gone cold. Back to the Waterfront.
"We'd better keep looking for him. Heidi can stay here and take over the recruiting duty as her cover." Gudrun had the beginnings of a plan. "It will leave her plenty of time to look around the city in case the agent re-appears. Besides, I've done all the shopping I need to for a while. It's her turn!"
So Heidi moved in to the Waterfront office, and Gudrun headed back to Bruma, with another collection of bags.
Yay! Slow thinking, hard drinking, wobbly Heidi! A nice introduction to her!
Nit: 'Not that was a lot to the top, if you took off the pauldrons, but it provided all the support she needed. '
This is unclear. Inserting the word 'there' between 'that' and 'was' and deleting the first comma will clarify it I think: Not that there was a lot to the top if you took off the pauldrons, but it provided all the support she needed.
Just got done reading all of them, good back story. I am looking forward to the completed mod.
GAAAH!!! Your links are broken to the mod now!!
Timo's Tale is hilarious !!!
Gudrun has me in stitches with all her shopping !!! This sounds great so far !!! I've seen your bears in action in one vid, but they were acting up that day, lol.
Looks great, ghastley!! Lots of fun.
Mod construction is progressing and I've made a few updates to the "wiki" on the site. Latest addition is loading screens using this picture.
I'll be using it for the Riders Lodge, and the Valus Passage cave, with different texts. Trying to come up with one for the SI part, where I've added a ruin or two.
I'm getting close to having it playable enough for some people to test if they'd like. There are a couple of quests that have no real conclusion, E.g. After the Oblivion gates are sealed with Order Crystals, what happens next? However, it should be playable enough to get the feedback I need to complete it. And when the stories all connect, I can write it all up here.
Fabulous loading screen!
I'm so glad the mod is coming along well for you!
Will Shivering Isles be required for the mod to work? GAAAAH!!!!
By the time I release it, I'll most likely have split it into two. One that doesn't and one that does. The first half doesn't, but the post-Coc/Madgod quests all take place in the Isles.
I haven't posted anything for ages, because I've been trying to get the last few quests finished. This one was only half-done in the version King Coin has been testing, stopping at the end of the demo.
I still have the problem of the last quest in the Isles being a big anti-climax, and I haven't yet split the SI stuff from the base, so I can repackage and release it. But this piece at least is sort of done.
At last it was finished. The Dark Welkynd stone had been installed in the trap, and the complex incantion had transferred the spell. The other mages were all looking at her.
"Go on, test it" one of them prompted. "You're the Master Conjurer, after all."
"All right, but you'll all have to leave the room in case anything goes wrong." She called out to the apprentice at the switch to close the pillar. As the huge slabs of marble slid into place around the trap, the door unlocked and the mages filed out.
In a few moments, a line of eager faces was at the gratings along the corridor, eagerly peering into the chamber. The switch was operated once more, and the pillar slid back open.
Malandil moved into the corner, so that the creatures she summoned wouldn't get behind her. She started by summoning a Scamp. The stone glowed with power, and the Skull of the Mountain spell destroyed the hapless creature in an instant with a huge bolt of lightning that almost made her jump out of her skin.
"That seemed to work" she said, once she could breathe. "Now for something shock-resistant."
Malandil summoned a Storm Atronach, and once again the Dark Welkynd glowed. This time the Skull of the Mountain's massive ice blast sent the creature back to Oblivion.
The logical test to follow that was a Frost Atronach, which disappeared in an intense fireball, confirming that the spell covered all the elements.
That was enough testing for now, and the apprentice, Eugenie, operated the switch without being asked. Malandil noted that. She'd made a good choice in her young assistant, even if she wasn't an Altmer like herself. Bretons were always good with Magic, but Eugenie had the wits to go with it. She'd make a good mage, if she could concentrate on her studies, and not get too distracted by boyfriends.
Malandil gathered herself and met the rest of the mages at the chamber entrance. She was calmer now the test was over. The trap had done exactly what it should, firing only at Daedra, and using the most effective elemental attack for the target. The power it employed still amazed her, and she wasn't surprised that no mage could use the spell.
She knew she'd be the one who'd have to demonstrate the trap. None of the others in the team could summon all the Daedra, even though each of them could manage one or two. High Chancellor Ocato would expect to see it in action, so she'd have at least one more show to put on. The Arch-mage, fotunately, was more preoccupied with the Necromancers, and she'd just have to provide a report to keep him content.
The performance for Ocato went smoothly, too. Malandil was left thinking that the High Chancellor and other Council members had made her more nervous than any concern about the dangerous spells flying around.
So when Tar-Meena introduced her to the Hero of Kvatch, she offered a demonstration without being asked. Tar-Meena had told her that he'd found the book that described the spell, so of course he should see what became of that effort.
He followed her into the Practice Rooms, and down into the basement. She activated the portal to the chamber and when they arrived, he remarked on the stone disk it connected to. "Is that one of those Ayleid Steps?"
"We think so," she replied. "The portal in the basement was originally intended to take you to Wellspring Grove. After the Necromancers killed two mages in the cave that leads there, it was thought safer if we used a portal instead. The University end was installed, and a Varla Stone placed to power it. Before its companion at the Grove end was complete, however, it lit up to show it was already operational. Someone was brave enough to go through and find this chamber at the other end."
"So where exactly are we?"
"We don't know. There are a few Ayleid Steps that lead into caves and ruins that have no other way out. We can't be sure if they're in Tamriel, or somewhere else entirely. If the Daedric Princes can open portals between Realms, maybe the Ayleids could, too. The Step, and it looks just like one, so we assume it is, is now bound to the basement portal by the power of the Varla stone. If it had another destination before, we'll never know."
"That's one reason we need the trap," she continued. "This chamber could be anywhere, and Ayleid ruins are full of hidden doors and sliding walls. We feel safer now it's guarded, if only against Daedra."
Malandil opened the door to the chamber and walked to the corner near the viewing corridor. Eugenie led the Hero to the other side of the grating where he could watch safely, and then opened the pillar with the switch on the wall. She hurried to take her place at the next grating. This would be an impressive show of spell-power and she didn't want to miss any!
Malandil took her time conjuring each of the Daedra she knew. Scamp first, then Flame Atronach, and on to Dremora, Clannfear, Frost Atronach, Daedroth, Spider Deadra, Storm Atronach, each dispatched in one blast from the Dark Welkynd. Finally she paused to let her Magicka build up for a special spell. Xivilai were able to absorb spells, and she hadn't tried one here before. She knew that her skill would produce a strong example, and the trap would need a collosal discharge of energy to kill it in a single cast.
The sound of the lightning was almost deafening, and she was glad the Xivilai had not chosen to stand near her. Eugenie needed a few seconds to gather her wits and go work the switch again to let her out. She took that time to cast a small Calm spell on herself.
The Hero was amazed by the performance, and asked if there was anything he could do in return. Malandil was hesitant to ask, but Eugenie asked for her. "If you could find Priapus for us, we'd be really grateful".
"Prietus, I mean" Eugenie corrected herself, blushing profusely. "I call him that because, well..." Malandil stepped in to save her further embarassment.
"I sent Prietus, my other apprentice, off to look for rare books in the Ayleid ruins. That was mainly because he and Eugenie can't concentrate on anything but each other, it seems."
She drew the Hero aside so she could talk without Eugenie hearing the rest. "Eugenie's been acting strangely recently. She's all but throwing herself at him, but he tells me that she's also refusing his advances. We suspect she's under some kind of spell compulsion that stops her from that. Her father's a powerful mage, and I think he's quite capable of that kind of spell."
"For Prietus, 'No' means No, whether he believes she means it or not," she continued. "Until they can find a way around their problem, they're better off kept apart. However, I am getting a bit worried that we haven't received any word from him in several days. That's not like him at all. The last note said he was going to Sardavar Leed on the Red Ring Road."
While he was gone, Malandil decided it was time to confront Eugenie about Prietus. "You've been behaving very strangely with that young man" she said accusingly. "why are you leading him on, just to turn him down at the last moment? Are you trying to drive him mad, or something?"
"I don't want to turn him down," pleaded Eugenie, "but when I open my mouth to say 'yes' I hear myself saying 'no' instead. I don't understand what's happening, and it's driving me insane too. I was hoping my actions would speak louder than my voice, but he's too confused to do anything now!"
"Could your father have anything to do with this? I know he's a Master of Illusion, and quite capable of casting a Command spell on you to make you act this way."
"Perhaps, but I couldn't just get it dispelled it if he had. That wouldn't be right."
"But you're trying to get around this compulsion in other ways, what's the difference?"
"I think it's as much a test, as it is an attempt to protect me from myself. So we have to solve it ourselves, to prove we've grown up enough."
Not long after that, a panting Prietus ran into the Practice Room looking for Eugenie. Malandil made him stop and get his breath back, and tell her what had happened.
He'd run into Conjurers and Daedra as soon as he entered Sardavar Leed. There were too many of them for him to handle, and he'd had to run deeper into the ruin to escape. Eventually he'd hidden in an empty room. He lay in the dark until the chase subsided. When he tried to leave the room, however, he'd found the door locked. He'd been stuck there until the Hero let him out.
They'd talked about his problem with Eugenie, and the Hero had hinted that he was asking the wrong questions. If Eugenie could only say "No", then he had to make sure that was the answer he wanted. He was eager to try that experiment, so where was she?
Malandil told him about the chamber. "Eugenie should be down there still. She finds it a quiet place to study. Her own private space." A slight stress on "private" was meant as a hint to Prietus, and he broke into a run again.
The Hero arrived at a more leisurely pace a while later. He described Prietus sprinting out of the ruin like a Clannfear was chasing him. "He really did seem quite eager to get back here to Eugenie. I assume that he's with her now?"
"And I'm sure that he's asking her if he should stop." chuckled Malandil. "I do hope they manage to dispel whatever was holding her back, or they may have the same problem in reverse."
Malandil was pleased to have her assistant back, and offered the book Prietus had recovered from the ruin as a reward. "We already have a copy of this text in the Mystic Archives, but it's a skill book you may find useful - Limnal Bridges, one of my favorites."
They chatted for a further half hour before Malandil decided not to wait for Prietus and Eugenie to return. They'd need to eat eventually, wouldn't they?
Why am I smiling? Because this story involving Malandil was clever, cute, funny, endearing and well-told in a delightfully light manner. Well done!
No means no. Do you want me to stop? No. They have to come up for food. . . don't they? No.
This mod must be AWESOME !!! Your imagination in these storylines is great !!! Acadian already quoted my favorite line, Great Write !!!
I'm trying to get myself thinking about this one again, so let's see a piece of the story from another viewpoint.
She particularly liked it when Prietus did that. "Don't stop now," she pleaded, but he was no longer paying any attention to her. He was staring at a glowing disc that had just appeared in the far corner of the chamber beyond the grating. When a Clannfear emerged from it, he was snatching up his robe, and running for the exit.
"Come back, you coward" she shouted. He didn't know the chamber was sealed whenever the trap was open, but she'd forgotten that. She jumped a little when the shock spell killed the Clannfear, it was so loud and so close, and she was so naked. She picked up her own robe and pulled it around her, and walked round the corner to the gate.
She watched as a Scamp, and a Dremora came out of the portal and each was killed instantly. But then a pair of women in strange dark armor emerged together. One died almost immediately, but the other dodged back into the gate before the stone could recharge.
Shortly after, a strangely dressed man appeared from the fiery disc. The trap did nothing, so this wasn't another Daedra. He walked calmly over and addressed her.
"My name is Haskill, Chamberlain to the Lord Sheogorath, who is presently in Cyrodiil," he said. "Perhaps you would be so good as to convey to him that he is needed. Here. As quickly as possible".
Eugenie didn't know any Lord Sheogorath, but Haskill described the man she knew as the Hero of Kvatch. And he was visiting the University that very day. She ran off to find him.
The Hero knew who Haskill was. As he walked together back to the chamber with Eugenie, he tried to explain to her how he'd inherited the title of the Daedric Prince. He could see she just didn't believe half of the story. "That's just too weird!"
When they reached the gate, the Hero had her close the trap, so he could go through. He spoke briefly with Haskill, and then picked up the body of the Mazken, as he called her, and took her with him into the glowing disc. Haskill just disappeared, startling Eugenie a little.
She went looking for Prietus. She was still mad at him for running off and leaving her, even though she knew she hadn't been in any real danger. The point was that if he didn't know that, he should have stayed to protect her. She found Malandil instead.
Malandil listened to her thoughtfully. Eugenie didn't know about Prietus' previous encounter with Clannfears, so she didn't know why they were a special nightmare for him. She told her all about his ordeal in Sardavar Leed, and reminded her why he'd been sent there in the first place. And her part in that.
"But that wan't me, that was my father's spell," protested the apprentice. "Although I suppose I am judging him too harshly."
"We'll go look for him together," suggested Malandil. "I think we might cure him of that Clannfear phobia, if I just teach him to summon one of his own."
"But that's an Expert spell, isn't it?" asked Eugenie.
"Yes, and he's nearly ready to learn it. Don't forget that Conjuration is his major field of study, so he's more advanced than you. Just as you're further ahead with Destruction."
Eugenie wasn't anywhere near Expert in Destruction, so she was impressed.
A couple of days later, a large Nord woman, wearing the skimpiest armor Eugenie had ever seen, came to the University asking for her. She'd been sought out by one of the worshippers from Sheogorath's shrine, telling a tale that was too strange not to be true.
The hero wanted her to go through the portal in the Ayleid Chamber and join him in the Shivering Isles. "Is that where it goes?" Eugenie asked.
"Not directly" was the reply. "There's a plane of Dagon's Deadlands in between, but the Mazken have that guarded now, so it's the quickest way to get there."
There was that "Mazken" name again. Eugenie knew they must be Daedra, as the trap had killed one, but they seemed to be on the wrong side. Heidi (that was the Nord woman's name) explained that they were Daedra from Sheogorath's realm, not Dagon's, and not really on anyone's side but Sheogorath's. Like the Aureals, except that they were in conflict with the Mazken. Eugenie was now even more confused.
"Dagon's sent his Daedra to fight against Sheogorath's Daedra. Since the Hero of Kvatch, and Champion of Cyrodill, is also currently acting as Madgod of the Shivering Isles, he's trying to toss Mehrunes Dagon out of there, too."
Eugenie wanted to know how Heidi was involved. "They've found a Mythic Dawn agent plotting with the Zealots and they think it's someone I know." she replied. "I need to go and identify the body."
By this time, they'd reached the chamber. Heidi stepped through the flames and was gone. Eugenie went to the switch and opened the trap up again.
A few days later the fiery portal disappeared as mysteriously as it came. One moment it was there and the next, it wasn't. There was no sign that anything had been there. The bodies of the Daedra had been removed long ago, and the Scamp skin, Clannfear Claws and Daedra Hearts were already made into useful potions in the Lustratorium. Life had returned to normal.
Except that Prietus had learned to summon Clannfears, and was working his way back into favor with Eugenie. He was helping her with her Destruction practice. He'd summon a Scamp and she'd dispatch it with a shock spell or two before it could turn on them. They couldn't do that continuously yet, neither had the Magicka for it, so there were times when they just had to wait around for it to regenerate. And what do two young mages do while they're waiting?
She particularly liked it when Prietus did that.
Those who've worked on advancing their Conjuration and Destruction know that the latter is much slower to increase. You can get experience with Conjuration just by repeatedly casting a simple spell, but Destruction needs a live target or it doesn't count. So it's a bit less impressive than Eugenie thinks. Of course, she's not thinking clearly where Prietus is involved.
'She particularly liked it when Prietus did that.
Opening AND closing the episode with this was brilliant, and provided a wonderful sense of unity to the many pieces and places you covered.
Interesting interface between Cyrodiil and the SI that you wonderfully present some glimpses into via Eugenie's limited perspective.
And Haskill! And Mazkin!
Great to see Heidi again. This was quite fun to read!
The updated mod is now on TesNexus http://www.tesnexus.com/downloads/file.php?id=26343. The final quest in the Isles still doesn't have an ending, but you can play it all. It's divided into two esp's, so you can just install the first part if you don't have SI. Easiest install is using Wrye Bash, as the installer is set up for BAIN.
I also updated Gweden Brothel and the Warrior Nuns mod with some bug fixes, and wrote another piece of stuff for here.
We're in SI now, so the Hero has become the Madgod. He's still a nondescript Bendu Olo of no specific build, trying not to get in the way too much.
Dyus was uncertain, a state he found most distressing. He'd lived his very long life with the ability to calculate all the events in the Shivering Isles, but that had faded with the arrival of the new Madgod.
He realised what was happening, of course. The Realm was changing to suit its new ruler, and the old rules, the basis of all his calculations, no longer applied. He knew he would, in time, change with it. Right now, unfortunately, it was changing faster than he could adjust.
The Mazken that came to him was no surprise. He had calculated that Haskill would need help as he, too, adjusted to the new order. No, "Order" was not the right word to use. That was a concept of the past, and one he hoped was gone with the old Jyggalag. Would there be a new Jyggalag? He was pleased to tell himself that he didn't know.
He followed the Mazken as she led him to New Sheoth. The path was familiar to him, but there were signs of change all around. Fewer balliwogs than expected, less decay in the mushroom trees. He might like the new Realm if he lived to see it.
That was another new point to ponder. The old Sheogorath had forbidden him to die, at the same time as confining him to Knifepoint Hollow. Would the new Sheogorath renew that decree? It seemed likely, but uncertain. He didn't like uncertain, although he liked the direction the Realm was taking.
Haskill met him at the Palace, and confirmed his recent predictions of Jyggalag's eventual defeat. The differences in detail from his projection were minor, and he began to feel that his abilities weren't entirely gone. If he could just incorporate this new random element into his formulae, ...
The randomness didn't appear to bother Haskill, but he'd dealt more with the Sheogorath side of the Madgod than with the Jyggalag aspect. He would not have seen the patterns in the Madgod's mind that made him just as predictable in his madness as he was in his ordered mood.
Haskill had further troubling news for him. Mehrunes Dagon had opened gates in the Isles, and he'd just returned from one. He'd been able to contact the new Madgod, and left Mazken guarding the path through the Deadlands.
Dagon was another factor he'd never had to consider before. A new challenge, but a new reason for his continued existence. He felt needed again, which was not an unpleasant feeling.
The new Madgod was expected to arrive shortly, but first Haskill had something to show him. "It's a game called Backgammon," the chamberlain explained. "It incorporates aspects of randomness and calculation, in a way that might help you adjust to to the way things are now."
A reasonable proposition, and it might help pass the time until the Madgod arrived.
The game did indeed help, as he reformulated his understanding of the new Realm, but he realized that something more was required. He reached his new conclusion just as the Madgod entered the palace. There was one person who had the ability to help him process this new situation, to reach valid conclusions from insufficient data. That was Syl, and Syl was dead.
"No matter," he thought to himself. "We can build a new one. The Mazken have the body, Relmyna has a copious supply of hearts, and Ciirta's other eye will help bind them together and enhance the vision she needs."
He explained his conclusions to the new Sheogorath, who actually seemed to be paying attention to what he said. A distinct improvement over the prior one.
When the Madgod left to start gathering the pieces for the new Syl, he resumed his work on recalculating the events to come. There was still a troubling aspect of the new Syl's personality that was eluding him.
Relmyna arrived at the Palace and summoned Herdir to help her prepare for the rebirth of Syl. They moved out the old Syl's torture cage, and put a stone tub in its place. When Dylora and the other Mazken brought Syl's body to the palace, he directed them to Relmyna and her preparations.
Everything was in place when the Madgod arrived with the eye and the heart. Dyus followed into the Ducal palace to watch the ceremony. It was a simple process, similar to the one that rebuilt the Gatekeeper, but on a smaller scale. Relmyna spoke an incantion, and at the appropriate times, the eye and the heart were added to the tub, while the swirling contents churned and bubbled.
At the end of the ritual, a naked Syl stood where the Tub of Rebirth had been. She appeared to be less troubled by her nudity than the old Syl would have been. To her, it would have triggered feelings of vulnerability, and provoked some kind of violent reaction to her fears. The new one apparently took the blame for her condition on herself.
"Have I been naughty?" she asked. "Naked is naughty, isn't it?"
"Not if you've just been born," replied the Madgod. "In your case, born again. But you should go and put some clothes on. Do you remember where the Duchess' quarters are?"
The new Syl didn't remember much about being the Duchess at all, but she did know the way. She soon returned wearing part of one of the Duchess' dresses. She'd left off the flamboyant skirt and collar, and just wore the body suit, exposing more cleavage than the old Syl ever had.
Especially at the back. She bent over to make sure he'd noticed. "Please spank me, I know I must have been naughty! If I get my punishment, it will all be accounted for, and I won't have to worry any more."
Dyus recalled his prior misgivings about the new Syl. "I've created a monster!". He was certain of that.
No it's now properly split into SI and non-SI parts, and has some updates and bug fixes. However the split may have introduced some new bugs.
If you do download again, make sure the second (SI) esp loads right after the first. BOSS doesn't know about it yet.
The main addition is the completion of the "Trap demo" quest with the rescue of
Priapus Prietus. Your copy ends when the firework show does, and that quest has no conclusion.
Unless you have a character who is both CoC and Madgod the SI quests aren't available, so the bugs in that part will only be found by the dedicated few.
The last quest in SI just stops after the gates are sealed. I'm still trying to think of an ending that's not a complete anti-climax, but maybe that's the right thing to do. An "is this really the end?" ending.
Very clever weaving of the Oblivion Gates and new Madgod into the SI via Dyus' perspective. The idea to rebuild Syl was great! Matched only by your description of it and what followed. A monster, indeed!
Nit: 'When Dylora and the other Mazken brought Syl's body to the palace, he direct them to Relmyna and her preparations.'
I expect you wanted 'directed' here.
I played the old mod. I'll play the new one. While it is not really my cup of tea it so far is worth playing. Plus the original concept is awesome.
Malandil's tale had been a bit of a roadblock until I finished the part of the mod it's based on, so the next couple of parts were drafted before.
Now its the (new) Syl's turn
"I don't remember dying. Do you know why I died? Did I do something naughty?"
The new Syl clearly didn't know much about her old life, or was it really her before? This one had a new heart, did that make a difference?
"I remember being naughty. I enjoyed that. But when I was a little child, I didn't like being punished for it . When I got older, it was even more enjoyable, and nobody could punish me, because I was the Duchess"
She did recall something of her previous life, then, but had she changed?
"I was always afraid that someone could, so I was really careful. But that meant doing bad things again." The new Syl cast her eyes down as she said that, and noticed her nakedness for the first time. "Why do I have no clothes? Am I being naughty again? I don't want to be punished before I have the fun!"
The new Madgod, (almost as new as she was) reassured her. "It's normal to be naked when you're born, or in your case, reborn."
"Does that count? Really, if I was naughty, a little bit of punishment would be all right, just so I know it's all over. Maybe a spanking, or something like that? Just enough to make them red and tingly?"
The Madgod sent her to get dressed. The new Syl might not be paranoid like the old one, but she did belong here in Dementia.
For the first few days, the men of the courts indulged her. Kithlan was particularly happy to find that he could look in her direction without Herdir being summoned. The novelty soon wore off even for him.
The court healer thought the old Syl had returned, after she made the mistake of soothing her reddened posterior with a restoration spell. She just didn't know what she'd done wrong. Syl stormed off to sulk in her chambers and left her alone in her bewilderment.
Syl was supposed to be helping Dyus find the other Oblivion gates. They knew only of the one in Dementia, near the village of Fellmoor. There had to be at least one more, as the Madgod had seen another gate, and a Sigil Tower, when he passed through the Deadlands. That gate had to lead somewhere else, probably in Mania, and it was the key to reaching the Tower and taking the Stone.
But she couldn't concentrate. She was restless, and the crystal ball wasn't revealing anything. The cool stone of the chair against her bare behind just reminded her that she hadn't been spanked for at least half an hour. Everyone was getting tired of her demands, and refusing to help.
Haskill was talking with the Madgod about her problem. He suggested that a good line of inquiry might lead through the old Sheogorath's private retreat. "He may have been mad, but he was neither a fool nor a monk. He maintained a retreat in Mania, where he could indulge himself away from the Court of Madness and its attendant complications. I could mark it on your map if you wish to pay a visit yourself. The Mazken and Aureal there may have something to contribute to this matter. You'll also need this key to gain entry."
Dyus also had something to contribute. "Syl's crystal ball needs to be upgraded, and that will require water from the Pool of Reflection. You have been there before, of course, so it should be an easier task this time."
Syl woke up from her nap in the Duke's quarters on the Mania side of the palace. She'd decided to sleep here, away from that annoying crystal ball that mocked her inablity to scry anything useful.
There was a Golden Saint standing next to her bed. Not the usual scowling female guard, but a smiling male, who seemed to appreciate what he was looking at. "What are you doing here?" she asked.
He replied that he had been specially trained to provide for her needs, and that was his duty from here on. "I'm rather confused about that. It appears that my Lady requires me to punish her for being naughty, but expects me to assist her with being naughty in the first place?"
Syl was glad they'd understood the whole picture, but she still had some misgivings about this.
"You were trained for this? How?"
"The training was even more confusing. The Aurig made me watch while she spanked a female prisoner. The prisoner seemed to be enjoying it, even though the Aurig was hitting her quite hard. But when I asked if I should try to please the Aurig in the same way, she just told me to shut up and watch. When she was done, she made me satisfy both of them, as a test of my ability."
"Who is this 'Aurig' you're telling me about?"
"She was the chosen playmate of the previous Sheogorath, no less. I could not help noticing that the Aurig had larger breasts than the other Aureals. She told me that it was because that was the will of Sheogorath. She said that uniformity was what Jyggalag preferred, and so Sheogorath hated that. It was the only thing she said that made any sense."
Syl smiled, at last.
"I've kept you from doing your duty all this time with my questioning. How naughty of me."
Feeling much better, she made her way back to the Dementia quarters to make another attempt at scrying. However, the crystal ball was quickly forgotten when she found a Mazken counterpart to her new Aureal spanker had taken up his post in her bedroom.
This one had a similar story to tell.
"I was trained by Sheogorath's personal playmate. We are always in awe of the female Mazken, but this particular Grakedrig was chosen by Sheogorath himself! She left me in no doubt why that was so."
"The Grakedrig started my training by spanking me. She said that I needed to learn that it could be enjoyable, and didn't stop until I agreed. Then we exchanged positions, but I wasn't allowed to spank her, this part was all about balancing the pain with pleasure. My pain, her pleasure, of course. Repeated until the Grakedrig was fully satisfied, and she is not easy to please!"
She was eager to find out if the training had produced the right results. It had.
"He's not just obeying orders," she thought. "He's enjoying this as much as I am. Is that just his Mazken devotion to duty? Do I care?"
Both of them were quite worn out when Dyus entered the room. She was sitting at her crystal ball, as much for the cool of the seat as any attempt at scrying. She wasn't at all startled when Dyus poured the contents of a bottle straight through the glass surface into its interior. Today was just a magical day, after all.
Dyus replaced the ball in its stand, and she looked into it. A faint glow appeared in one corner. But spheres don't have corners, what's going on?
She looked closer. The corner was in the scene that was coming into focus in the ball, and the glow was an Oblivion Gate! There were rocks, and trees, and a piece of shoreline. She was beginning to recognize the location. Mania, near the northern coastline. Between Cylarne and Brellach.
Dyus handed her a map. She marked a cross on it where the gate would be. The Madgod had arrived in her room, too, and Dyus handed him the updated map.
"I found it. The Mania Gate! I deserve a nice long spanking for that! Oh, wait, I just had that, didn't I?"
She heard the Mazken standing in the corner trying not to laugh out loud at her understatement. Dyus felt no such inhibition, and nor did the Madgod. Soon her face was as red as ... anything else.
Well, I'll be spanked! A pretty creative background going on as the crystal ball gets upgraded and Syl finally gets to divine the location of a gate.
'Syl smiled, at last.
"I've kept you from doing your duty all this time with my questioning. How naughty of me."
This was delightful!
The Madgod sent her to get dressed. The new Syl might not be paranoid like the old one, but she did belong here in Dementia.
No kidding. A magical day indeed for the new Syl, as well as a satisfying day’s work finding the Mania Gate.
Acadian already quoted my favorite line, displaying how you can bring out a character's personality in a very short space of time, you do an Awesome job with your characters !!! Through it all, your ability to weave a storyline is my favorite part of all - unbelievably creative imagination !!
Very nice mod! And you really did a great thing telling the stories of all the women! Nice touch..
But I have one comment
Since you have given the women really "big attributes" it might be terribly painful for them to wear a steel bikini-bra! I mean the darn thing will definitely cut into their flesh....iiihhhh! Maybe you want to either give them a bit smaller "you know what" or change the material in the bra!
Of course you must do what you feel like, but to be more realistic....steel bras are not very comfy!
My understanding of the TES world is that magic is part of everyday life. So women will be using Illusion and Alteration to make themselves look younger, and enhance their shape. (Men will, too, but not admit it). Statistically, half of them aren't really as big as they look, and the other half aren't as heavy as they should be if they were "original equipment".
The few who got theirs the old-fashioned way need help to carry them around, and they'll use magic to assist. A feather enchantment on the bra, for example. There are undoubtedly ways to use magic to make it more comfortable than it looks, as well as looking skimpier than it really is.
Since the rules of the game allow enchantments to contribute more defense than the plain physical armor will provide, I assume the people are aware of that, and use magical defense whenever they can afford it. Steel is still cheaper than a shield spell, but it wears out in use, and it's heavier, and gets in the way of spell-casting. The Legion needs armor in bulk for its troops, so it uses cheap physical armor for most uses, and only applies magic in special cases (like the Bear Riders, there's only a few of them). They also use weapons that don't use up a charge, but can still affect etherals, being Silver (cheaper than Daedric!)
The trade-offs will be that enchantments stay with the item, so that they go away if it's unequipped. Spells cast on the person have a limited duration and must be cast again, except that spells can be used in conjunction with training to obtain permanent effects more easily (drain before you train).
That's why everyone's in such good shape - staying fit is a lot less effort on Nirn. There are presumably ways to finesse "optimum" growth with Alchemical or cast-spell assistance, so that everyone's as intelligent, full-bodied and strong as they can afford to be. They won't always be able to stop at "enough", especially if they neglect Willpower!
"Larger than life" women in skimpy armor are just a natural consequence of the existence of magic.
I just noticed that I'd never put up the final(?) chapter of this story. This was written even before I'd finished packaging the mod. Better late(!) than never.
Aurmazl Kaneh was confused. She'd come back to Brellach much sooner than she'd expected. When she died at Cylarne, as she always did at this point in the Greymarch, she expected to remain in the waters of Oblivion for some time before the chimes called her to return.
Not only was she back early, but the Realm was intact. Everything was still alive and growing. The obelisks were all shut down, as if the Greymarch had never started. What was going on?
Then she had been sent here, to a mysterious archway filled with flame, halfway to Cylarne. She had orders to guard it, and kill anything that emerged from it, but to wait for the Madgod before she entered. Only he would know how to deal with it.
Two figures emerged from beneath the mushroom trees and strode towards her. She recognised one as the adventurer she'd met at Cylarne, when Lord Sheogorath sent him to collect the Flame of Agnon. He'd taken part in the battle, and shown fighting skills that had impressed her.
She didn't know the woman who was with him. She was almost as large as herself, larger in places, if not quite as tall. Her armor was plain steel, not golden like her own, or black like the infernal Mazken wore. She carried a claymore on her back, and wore no helmet, so her pale flaxen hair showed. Probably a Nord from Tamriel, she guessed.
The man came over and announced that he was the new Lord Sheogorath, and that the Greymarch had been stopped. He had defeated Jyggalag, and the new era would be different from before.
"What did happen before, anyway?" he asked.
Kaneh described what had happened in the earlier eras. When Jyggalag became Sheogorath once more, he would wander a dead wasteland until the gnarl emerged from the Fountainhead, and then he knew where to rebuild New Sheoth. As the gnarl cultivators started to replant the Realm, he'd search for the ruins of Brellach and Pinnacle Rock, and use the chimes there to summon back the fallen Saints and Seducers. "I don't understand why he'd want the Mazken back, but that is his will".
The landscape would be bleak at this time, with only small saplings sprouting here and there. The first baliwogs would possibly have hatched, and some scalons might have emerged from the seas. There was little for them on the land yet. The surviving Elytra would stay in their deepest burrows for the same reasons.
The Aureal and Mazken would see to the shutting down of the obelisks, and destroying any remaining knights of order that still roamed the Isles. The priests, too, although they'd shed their robes and hoods. Any mortal still in the Isles could only have been one of Jyggalag's traitors. The forces of Order would have slain anyone else.
In time, there would be a few new arrivals from Sheogorath's shrines in Tamriel. If one proved capable of operating Xylarne, the resonator would bring more. Eventually another would be able to help Relmyna make a Gatekeeper and the Realm would return to its usual state, if not exactly "normal".
But a fiery Gate wasn't usual or normal, and they had to do something about it. Now he was here, she and her two cohorts could do something about it.
"What is this other mortal doing here?" asked Kaneh.
"My name is Heidi, and I've closed an Oblivion Gate before," she said. "I can help."
The Madgod hadn't known about that, so she told them all the story.
"I was just arriving from Skyrim, headed for Bruma," she began. "I was walking down the trail past that farmhouse, Applewatch isn't it? Anyway, I saw this big fiery arch on the hillside behind it, just like the one here. I hadn't seen anything like that before, and I didn't know what it was, so I went over to take a closer look."
"As I got nearer, I heard sounds of fighting, but that stopped before I got there. When I arrived, there were several Daedra lying dead on the ground, and one dead Bruma guard with them. I realized that the other men had gone through the flames into the Gate, and they were now a man short."
"I picked up the dead guard's sword and shield. I took off my dress and put on his boots and greaves, too. The cuirass wouldn't fit because I was too big for it, so I cut the front to make room for my breasts. I think I cut a bit too much.
Captain Burd and the rest of his men were just inside fighting some more Daedra. He thanked me for joining them, even looked me in the eyes when he said that! Mentioned something about improving the men's morale, as well."
"I soon swapped the guard's sword and shield for a dead Dremora's claymore. With my big breasts hanging out of my cuirass, I was doing big swings whether I wanted to or not. It made sense to be using an appropriate weapon."
"By the time we reached the Tower, it was just Captain Burd and myself. I pointed out to him that he'd been losing men because they couldn't heal themselves. He said that they probably hadn't learned, because they always had the Castle healer at hand in their normal duties. He'd been a Legion patrolman before he got the guard job, so he'd needed the skill."
"Burd told me that you were the one that showed him how to close the gates. The one we closed was the last one near enough to Bruma to endanger the town, but there were others he'd heard about near the trails in the mountains. He said if I really wanted to help, I should apply to join the Legion, maybe the Mountain Riders? There was a recruiting Captain at the Lodge just outside the town."
"Of course, Captain Gudrun wasn't at the Lodge when I went there, she was in the Imperial City opening the new office. So I followed, and that's where we met."
"And I didn't find that Mythic Dawn agent you left me looking for in the city, because he'd come here to the Shivering Isles. I suppose he was the one that helped open the gates here. As I understand it, Dagon couldn't open them from his realm, they needed someone on this end to do it?"
"Well, the agent's dead now, so I suppose there won't be any more opening up. We still have to close that last one, though," Heidi reasoned.
Kaneh agreed with that assessment. They all followed the Madgod into the gate.
Kaneh didn't like the deadlands. They reminded her of the Isles after the Greymarch, with destruction everywhere, and little growing. Worse, there was lava where there should be water, and fires burning all over the place. The red sky was just ugly!
A creature looking like a scalon without fins attacked them, spitting a fireball in their direction before it charged. The new Madgod identified it as a Daedroth, one of Dagon's creatures.
Most of their opponents however, were humanoid Daedra called Dremora. They all appeared to be male, and they were all dressed in the same reddish obsidian armor, and carring swords and shields of the same material. Some of them wore no helmets, and she could see they had horns. They all had the same arrogant belief in their own superiority that she so despised in the Mazken. And with less justification; at least the Seducers were almost the equal of the Aureals, or they'd never have given her any problems at Cylarne.
The Dremora, however, were no match for the Golden Saints, and the party soon arrived at the Tower and climbed to the Sigillum Sanguis. The Madgod was about to take the stone and close the gate when Heidi stopped him. "I have an idea," she said.
"Now you're the new Sheogorath, you've also got some of Jyggalag's power, haven't you? At least as much as his priests had. So couldn't you "Order" the deadland, and show Dagon a lesson?"
The Madgod had a Heart of Order with him, and Heidi suggested replacing the Sigil Stone with the Heart, to see what happened. There was certainly an immediate effect. The red sky turned grey, and the fire column changed from orange flame to a blue-ish purple. They all remained in the chamber, rather than being transported outside the gate, as usually happened when one closed.
As they left the Tower, they could see Crystals of Order starting to push up across the landscape. The fire towers had shut down, there was an Obelisk near the path back to the gate. And was the lava starting to cool?
As soon as they stepped through the gate back into Mania they heard a crunching sound as crystals replaced the flames in the arch, sealing the gate. Was that it? Was it all over?
Haskill and Dyus didn't know either. Syl might have been able to find something more in her crystal ball, but she was ... a bit distracted ... as usual. They'd have to ask her later.
Kaneh wanted to know more about what had happened, and why the Gates had appeared. Dyus explained all about Sheogorath's scheme to give his power away before he became Jyggalag. Kaneh had never known about him. She was always in the waters of Oblivion awaiting recall when Jyggalag walked, so she'd never seen him, or the destruction of the Isles. She'd only seen the results, when she returned after it was all over.
Without the full power of the Madgod, Jyggalag had failed this time. The man Sheogorath chose to hold the throne had succeeded against all odds, and had broken the cycle. This same man had also helped defeat Mehrunes Dagon's attempt to invade Tamriel. That was why Dagon had attempted to seek revenge by opening Gates in the Isles.
Kaneh was still confused. Was that man truly the Madgod?
"He holds the Throne of Madness, and therefore he has the power associated with it," replied Haskill. "Doubtless when Jyggalag resumes his normal form, he will return to ask for it back. That was his plan all along. Whether the present office-holder hands it over or not is up to him. He is of course a mortal, and I assume that even with the Madgod's power he will not last forever. He has, however, thoroughly deserved his current position, for as long as holds it"
Dyus recalled Arden-Sul. The first time Sheogorath attempted the strategy, he'd become the Duke of both Mania and Dementia, but had succumbed to the madness in each. His personality was just as divided as Sheogorath's - perhaps one reason he was favored for the task - and he'd left contradictory suicide notes in Bliss and Crucible. When the new populations arrived, they'd found them and instituted the two rituals of succession. Arden-Sul hadn't survived to see Jyggalag, he'd predictably taken his own life before the change.
"I had calculated that the same would happen again. That Sheogorath was incapable of devising a plan that he could not himself defeat as Jyggalag. But I was wrong. Because Sheogorath himself underestimated a mortal's abilities, I did likewise."
"Jyggalag has never known defeat before, so he is bound to be affected by the experience," Haskill offered. "This may really have been the last Greymarch. It remains to be seen whether the previous Sheogorath returns, or something else. Without his customary power, he may not be able to return in the same form."
GAAAAH !!! I'm totally out of sync with this mod now, have my head in the Red Dragon Club !!! Urk !!! The writing is great as ever, but in order to connect it I'd need to re-read the previous chapters. Anyway, Great Write !!!
What fascinating take on the whole SI thing from the historical perspective of a Golden Saint. It was very wise of the Champion to bring the Big Guns (Heidi) to the gate closing party. And how clever to replace the sigil stone with a heart of order. I really enjoyed the result.
There was one more quest in the mod that never had a tale attached to it, the main reason being that it was another one around Ystrel, and I'd already given her her own story. And there was Pala, who'd been mentioned in Svana's tale of the Lodge construction, but hadn't had one of her own. So I bent things together a little and let her tag along with the Hero on this one, even though she normally doesn't.
"'Gudrun, come quickly" cried Pala. "Ystrel's bear came back without her!"
Gudrun leapt out of bed, dressing quickly. This was bad news of the worst kind - almost. Ystrel wasn't dead, or the bear wouldn't have come back at all. It would hunt down the person or creature that killed her. Then it would stay with her body, to guard it until someone came to collect it. The bear wouldn't have come back for help if there was anything else it could do for her. That must mean she was trapped somewhere the bear couldn't go.
Ystrel had been following a rumor of someone moving in to Valus Passage, the old smugglers' tunnel through the mountains to Morrowind. The tunnel had collapsed a long time ago, and it wasn't thought safe to try and dig it back out. That left a section at either end that led nowhere, but could still offer shelter to anyone who was up there.
Bandits weren't interested in it, as the area was hard to reach, and just about deserted now that the smuggling route was cut off. About the only thing that made any sense was that one of the religious cults had taken it over and put a shrine in there. The Daedric cults especially liked obscure locations for their shrines.
Gudrun checked the bear, and found no sign that it had been in any fights recently, which made her feel a bit better. It seemed agitated, as you'd expect with its rider missing, but that was all.
"What's up?" asked a voice behind them. The Hero of Kvatch had come by the Lodge and seen them all gathered around the bear. Pala quickly explained.
He'd go look for Ystrel, and Pala insisted on coming with him. Even if it was her time off patrol, she didn't want to stay at the Lodge while her colleague could be in danger.
Valus Passage wasn't easy to reach, as there aren't any trails that high up in the Valus Mountains. One reason, of course, for the smugglers using it in the past. They arrived in daylight, and they looked around the entrance for signs of a struggle. They really didn't expect to find any, as Ystrel's bear would have been involved in anything outside, and that fight would have been a lot more than anyone bargained for.
The door was clearly too small for the bear to have followed Ystrel inside. So their assumption was that she'd gone in, and was still in there. They should expect someone to be watching the door, so the Hero put on his Ring of Shadows, and told Pala to wait outside while he scouted the entrance.
He came back out only a minute later, with blood on his sword, and a red hood in his hand. "Mythic Dawn" he told Pala. "The same ones who killed the Emperor". There had been only the one guard in the small entrance chamber, but he wasn't sure if he'd raised an alarm before he died. They should assume he had, and move quickly in case Ystrel was still alive.
Chameleon's not useful when you're fighting as a team. You're much too likely to get hit if your partner can't see you, so he left off his ring when they went down the trapdoor in the chamber floor. Nobody was waiting beneath it, so perhaps the guard hadn't raised the alarm after all.
The passage down had many turns, and they were expecting to find more Mythic Dawn around each corner, but they reached the end of the tunnel without encountering anyone. That made no sense, so they backtracked, looking for any hidden entrances they'd missed. Pala noticed a handle in a corner that they hadn't seen before. When he nodded, she gave it a turn, and a section of the rock wall slid down ... noisily.
Shouts from the chamber they'd just revealed made it clear that the cult knew someone had come to visit them. Weapons drawn, they stepped through the opening into a medium-sized cave where three acolytes with daggers and summoned axes charged at them. Either Pala or the Hero could probably have taken them all solo, as they had only their robes for armor, and they weren't particularly skilled at fighting. But they pressed the fight anyway, and soon paid for their fanaticism.
"It won't be this easy further in" the Hero told Pala. "Expect the guards to summon armor as well as weapons, and know how to use them."
There was only one other exit from the cave, and they followed the tunnel to a locked door. A side-passage just before it revealed another acolyte hiding at the end, and they took a key from her that fit the lock.
This time, there was nobody waiting when they opened the door. Pala was sure this was a good thing, as whoever had Ystrel didn't know they were coming.
The tunnel past the door was just as twisting as the first part, but not as empty. This time, they did meet Mythic Dawn as they progressed, and armored ones, just like the Hero had predicted. They hit another dead end, and backtracked a little, but soon they saw they were approaching a larger chamber. They could see a raised area at the end, and several guards rushing towards them.
Desperately hoping they weren't too late to save Ystrel, whom they still hadn't found, they engaged their foes, aided by a Clannfear the Hero summoned. The fight was short and loud, and if Ystrel was anywhere close, she must have heard them. Why didn't she call out?
The raised area they'd seen as they entered held a statue of Mehrunes Dagon, just like the one at the Lake Arrius Caverns. There appeared to be an altar in front of it.
When they climbed the stairs to the platform, they saw Ystrel lying on the altar, naked, and surrounded by several nasty-looking implements that revealed the Dawn's intentions. Pala nearly fainted when she saw the small spiked club and figured out how they were going to use it.
Ystrel was unresponsive when the Hero tried to wake her, but she wasn't dead. He cast dispel on her, and she opened her eyes. He'd guessed correctly that she'd been under a paralysis spell. That was a a favorite with torturers, as it didn't stop the victim from feeling any pain, just from reacting to it.
Pala discretely hid the spiky thing, so that Ystrel wouldn't see it. Ystrel got up quickly from the cold stone slab, and went over to the brazier nearby to get some warmth, so she didn't notice any of the other knives, hooks and tongs lying on the altar with her. Pala moved in front of them, and the Hero picked them up.
"Have you seen my armor and things?" asked Ystrel. "It's cold in here." While they were looking around, she told them what had happened.
She'd been hit with the paralysis spell as soon as she stepped through the door. The guard had called the others, and they'd carried her down here. Some of them had argued that she should be killed immediately, but the others didn't want to waste a potential sacrifice to Dagon. There were so few people that ventured this far up into the Valus Mountains, they might not get another chance for months.
So she'd been stripped, and laid on the slab. She could hear discussions on how the sacrifice should be performed, and she was glad that none of them had survived. She'd have done to them what they wanted to do to her, and she wasn't sure she could live with herself after that.
A chest at the base of the platform held the armor and claymore they were seeking, and soon Ystrel was back in uniform. The Frost Shield enchantment on her armor drove away some of the chill she felt, but it wasn't all physical, so she was still shivering as they left the cave.
Back at the Riders Lodge, Gudrun sent her downstairs with Timo to get warm. She told Pala that she'd get a bonus for her part in the rescue, including extra days off to make up for what she'd missed. But she wasn't authorized to reward the Hero, unless he was a member of the Riders. With a wink at Pala, she asked if he'd like to join them, as an honorary Rider.
When he asked what his duties would be, she rolled her eyes, and the two women dragged him downstairs to show him. As they passed Ystrel's door Gudrun called out to her."Give us an hour, and its your turn to rescue him!"
Whew! Glad Pala and the Hero got to Ystrel before any of those knives or tongs or spiky things did! Loved how Ystrel's enchanted armor warmed her up after the ordeal – but not completely. Timo will take care of that!
And our hero gets his just deserts for a good day’s work. Perhaps a bear hug?
It must be fun to have a bear rider as a follower! Scary times at the shrine, but everyone gets a happy ending back at the lodge.
I love these ridable following bears, I've seen them in Skyrim along with ridable sabertooth tigers, lol. Great Write !!
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