Tales of a necromancer

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Tales of a necromancer

Post  Sovngarde on Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:51 am

As the most senior apprentice to Urag gro-Shub at the College of Winterhold, the Arch-Mage assigned me the task of collecting and chronicling all first-hand accounts of the anomaly that took place within Mzinchaleft on Tirdas, 5th day of Heartfire, 3E 389.

The event has since been informally named “The Great Geyser.”

The height of the purple water is estimated to have reached over seven thousand feet in the air, and citizens from Morthal, Dawnstar, Solitude and even Whiterun—which saw unusually clear weather that day—claim to have seen it. I have taken the time to highlight seven especially noteworthy entries herein.

As the days ahead seem to carry little else besides bleak news and dark omens, I wonder at the value of this information. Is the Arch-Mage looking for a clue of some kind? A weakness, perhaps?

Is the key to defeating the necromancer, Akavarin, buried somewhere within these words?

“I was tending to my cows when it burst through the air. Only a morning’s walk from my farm outside Dawnstar. Made a hissing sound, like some kind of snake might. All the next day, my sheep were running down from the hills, hair singed and bodies deformed. Full of evil, they were. At least as evil as a sheep’ll get.

Me and Garba gon-Galak, we are leaving this place. If the sheep have gone bad, what darkness is following behind them, soon to crest the hills?”

-Urksha-Mare, an Orsimer. Former sheepherder, current occupation unknown.

Many citizens living near and around Dawnstar, who possessed less foresight than this man, have since met an unfortunate end.

“I saw the thing. What of it, Beef Tip? It’s a plague. The Morathi Covenant come to turn the world black.”

- A Nord, name unknown.

Subject was both physically menacing and terse with his description. But the mention of the Morathi Covenant is noteworthy and was the inspiration for extensive investigation and discovery into the cause of the Geyser.

Incidentally, the massive Nord was searching the surrounding area for a black-haired Bosmer. I could not help him.

“Thing looked like some secret god of the underworld pulled out his cock and took a giant piss on the heavens.”

-Rogvir – An Imperial, and notorious drunk in Whiterun.

Subject was intoxicated during the interview—information is of note due to Rogvir’s distance from the Geyser, not for its content.

“By the gods, it’s inside of me! The burning scrapes as my veins and penetrates my soul. I am…I am…lost!”

- Veralin Kush, a Breton mercenary.

Subject fell into the purple water that now covers the majority of northern Skyrim, yet somehow had the strength to hobble into Morthal, where I took her statement.

“We had several teams in the area at the time, why do you ask? What are you writing? I must asked to see your credentials again!”

- Elenwen, an Altmer sorceress and First Emissary of the Thalmor.

I was able to take this statement under the guise of a different purpose, but was then expelled from the Thalmor Embassy. To date, I have been unable to find any of these “teams” she spoke of, or discover the reasons they were nearby.

“I have been taking in all of the refugees that I can. But my city can only help so many. I have begun asking my soldiers to divert men and women to Whiterun and Falkreath.

- Elisif the Fair, Nord and Jarl of Solitude. The issue of the refuges—and what to do with them until their land is reconquered from Akavarin—remains unresolved.

“The purple waters are the stones with which I shall raise my castle walls. The brimstone smell is the mortar. The Covenant rises, and there is nothing you can do.”

- Shurien Ulil, a psychotic Dunmer I interviewed in the dungeons of Solitude. He claimed to have been told these words by an albino Skeever.


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Part 2

Post  Sovngarde on Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:52 am

I knew right away Divayth Fyr was a dead man. The wizard didn’t have the bones for what was coming.

Akavarin came to meet us at the mouth of the cavern.

I had never seen him before—just heard the myths and legends of old. But I have seen gods. And in that moment, as he walked towards me with a chilling kind of grace, he reminded me of Vivec and Almalexia—the deities that I had murdered—more than any necromancer.

His skin was bone-white, eyes glowing with the purple mists of the Netherworld. Robes flowing all around him, as if they were an extension of his body.

For a creature so infamous for his work with the dead, I’m not sure I have ever seen someone look so alive.

Behind him the remaining ranks of the Falmer army were chanting in unison.

Hum-Ha. Hum-Ha. Hum-Gorah.

It sounded eerily like a heartbeat. Repeated over and over. The twisted Snow Elves hadn’t done anything with one another besides fuck and kill for hundreds of years. And now they were singing in unison.

“We’re too late,” Divayth whispered.

“What do you mean?” I asked, drawing my sword.

“He means,” Akavarin said—his voice echoing and reverberating across the walls of the cave, as if the rocks themselves were speaking—that I’ve already activated the Orb. You were too slow.”

“You have no idea what you’ve done,” Divayth said softly. “Nirn will rot down to its core if you if you use that power. You’ll—”

Divayth stopped talking. I glanced over at him, thinking he’d begun casting a spell.

Instead, I saw his head implode.

Flesh and bone and blood were crushed and squeezed into a tiny lump, as if an invisible hand was pressing on him. His limbs went rigid, and I caught a foul smell on the air. I guess something like that would make me shit myself, too.

Then every part of Divayth seemed to go limp and he crumpled to the ground in a heap. His Daedric armor made a metallic clang.

I turned back to Akavarin. He studied me with those purple eyes. It did not appear that it required a great deal of his effort to murder the greatest wizard I had ever known.

“He was fond of exploding heads in his youth,” Akavarin explain. “I thought it fitting.”

I couldn’t exactly disagree, but I said nothing.

“That wouldn’t work on you, would it?” he continued.

“No.”

“You think that I can’t defeat you?” His voiced continued to reverberate off the walls. It made my vision blur a little around the edges.

“You would be the first one,” I said.

He smiled. “Nerevarine. Savior of Ashlanders. Hortator of the Great Houses. Slayer of Gods. You carry the burden of so many names, it must be…tiring. Why is that you summoned the energy to come all the way down here?”

“What does it matter?”

“I understood Divayth, but I don’t understand you. I find that irksome.”

“Well, Akavarin,” I said, taking a step forward and drawing back my sword. “When the bards write a song about this, I’ll have them call it the Irksome Swordsman.”

I attacked.

Akavarin was smart—he didn’t try to use magic on me. But as I brought my blade down upon him he seemed to fade out of this world. Lose his corporeal nature. My sword cut through his wispy form as if he was nothing more than a puff of mist.

I cut at him three more times—all within the space of a single heartbeat. Nothing.

He disappeared, forming up again behind me and attacking with a twisted claw of a hand. Razor-sharp talons had grown from his fingernails out of nowhere. I dodged him easily, but Akavarin had to materialize to try and strike me, and on his third attack I managed to shear off two of the talons with a counter-riposte.

I moved in to attack again—figuring I’d be able to slip past the sliced nails with a quick thrust—but they’d somehow already regrown.

Quick.

I bulled forward and kept attacking, slashing and thrusting at his arm. I must have cut it off fifty times in half a minute, but each time it regrew before I could come around for another stroke. After a while, Akavarin seemed to grow bored of the game, and he disappeared entirely. Teleported to the top of a stalagmite about thirty feet above my head. I could have jumped up there, but decided to be patient. Let things play out some more.

“It seems we are at impasse,” Akavarin said. He wasn’t the least bit out of breath. But, of course, neither was I.

“Yes.”

“Magic and physical violence may not work on you anymore,” he said. “But that doesn’t make you invincible. Let’s try something else, shall we?”

He closed his eyes and began to chant along with the Falmer. That same strange heartbeat song. The rocks around me began to shake and crack. A rushing sound filled the cave. It was as if there was an ocean below my feet that had suddenly begun to boil upwards.

And then it came—purple water streaming through the cracks and chutes of rock. It smelled like brimstone and carried its own strange light as it rushed around my ankles. Already, the current was strong enough to put me on my heels.

Akavarin was smiling.

“If you survive, you best bring more than a sword and some jokes when come for me again.”

The necromancer disappeared. The water continued to rise.
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part 3

Post  Sovngarde on Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:55 am

Narova Blackhair’s body went rigid—a terrible current of undead energy searing through her nerves and veins and muscles. The crooked gash along her side filled with the purple pus of the Netherworld. Piss ran down her leg.

Her eyes began to smoke.

Akavarin used telekinesis to pull the dismembered chunk of his hand back towards the stump of his arm—sealed the severed bone back into place with the same unearthly pus that was filling Narova’s ribcage. He kept the elf suspended in the air, but turned the rest of his energy to Mordred.

For a man who had lived with such grace, his apprentice had died in a most undignified way—testicles stuffed into his mouth. Heart and lungs filled with holes. Akavarin reached into the Netherworld, trying to find Mordred’s soul wandering the Far Plain.

Nowhere. Nothing. Mordred had died while that strange poison still flowed through his veins, cutting him off from the source of his power. He was gone.

All those years of hard work wasted. Mordred was the best he’d ever trained. There may never be another with such talent.

“You will suffer for this, elf,” Akavarin rasped. “I’ll kill you a thousand times over. I’ll let every single one of my Falmer rape you to death. The gods will weep when they see what I’ve done to you!”

He increased the current of energy flowing through her body—letting it squeeze down on her organs. She gritted her teeth and met his eyes. He could still see the fury burning inside of her, boiling up from beneath the layers of purple energy.

“Fuck yourself,” she whispered. Then she spat in his face.

Strange. With that much current, she should not have been able to do that. But Akavarin wasn’t particularly interested in necromantic anomalies right at that moment.

He ripped Narova Blackhair’s soul out and left her crumpled body on the stone floor of the platform. Then he pulled the soul towards him and drank a small sip of it. It had an odd flavor—like a mossy forest floor mixed with sweat and sex and shadow.

What life had made that taste? Akavarin wondered, in spite of himself. So brutal and raw. No wonder her rage had burned to the top like that.

Behind him, that Falmer heaved the Blue Orb forward. He was about to order them to hold—he needed a moment to prepare himself for the activation of the Orb—but the idiot Falmer had gotten the thing’s momentum going too strong.

The Orb rolled off the platform and was pierced on the spike.

It made a sound like a giant being stabbed—as if the massive Dwarven creation was a piece of living flesh that had just been wounded. Then the intricate scales that covered the surface of the Orb began to blink. The pattern was frantic and fast—completely different from the gentle hum Akavarin had grown used to over the days they’d spent excavating the thing. The message was clear: panic.

The blue liquid began oozing down the spike that had impaled the Orb, and Akavarin was just about to gulp down the remaining bits of the Narova’s soul—which he still held inside of his mouth—when the blue liquid reached the ground.

There was a blinding light. Both of Akavarin’s ears popped. His jaw fell open and Narova’s soul was blown away by a sudden and powerful wind.

Something strange and wonderful filled Akavarin’s body.

Akavarin hadn’t felt so vulnerable in a thousand years. His skin ached. His eyes burned. He could feel the weight of all those miles of stone and earth above him. The pull of gravity from the core of Nirn, below.

And he could feel, deep down, the ability within himself to change them.

Akavarin took a deep breath and opened his eyes. Everything was different. He could see the souls of every one of his Falmer—their wildness clawing around inside of their brutal bodies like a separate being. He wasn’t just ordering them around anymore. He was them. Akavarin could move their hands as if they were his own. Blink their eyes. Gnash their teeth.

Akavarin could see through the eyes of the Falmer further above, too. They were being slaughtered—cut down by Divayth Fyr and the Nerevarine as they came for him. It mattered little.

They were too late.

Akavarin turned to meet his two soon-to-be-destroyed assassins, but something caught his attention from the corner of his eye.

The elf’s soul had been thrown against the far wall of the cavern. Somehow, it was still intact. Vague, almost mist-like appendages were stretching out along the platform floor. Whatever it was the Orb had done to him, it seemed to have had an effect on her soul as well.

No one’s soul should be able to survive outside the body for that long.

Slowly, weakly, she was crawling back to the naked body Akavarin had pulled her from. The ethereal ropes of purple mist looked desperate but determined, inching forward along the ground.

“You’re a stubborn one,” Akavarin said.

Her soul ignored him. Just kept moving.

Akavarin’s instinct was to absorb her soul again, but when he tried to suck her back into his mouth, he couldn’t do it. It felt like trying to stick his head into a lake and drink it up in one gulp.

Fine, he thought. The other way, then.

Akavarin crossed the room and picked up her corpse. Dangled it in front of her soul by that neck as if it were a children’s toy.

“Do you want this?” he asked. The soul just kept crawling. “Here then, take it.”

He flung the body off the platform, where it fell into one of the grave pits the Falmer were so insistent upon digging, and then disappeared into the darkness. Akavarin looked down at her soul. He almost thought he could see two rage-filled eyes looking back at him. Almost.

“Pathetic,” he said. “To think you could have killed me. When the last wisps of your soul are dissipating, and you finally realize that your existence is over, know that the best you could do was cause a minor inconvenience.”

Akavarin left her there—turned towards the large tunnel leading to the surface. He intended to turn Divayth Fyr inside out and then use his mutilated body to suffocate the Nerevarine.

And he highly doubted they could stop him.
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part 4

Post  Sovngarde on Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:56 am

Mordred rushed forward—two daggers appearing in his hands from some hidden place in the sleeves. They were long and thin with a wavelike edge—made from some kind of dark, purplish metal I’d never seen before. But as ethereal as his weapons looked, there was no magic behind his attack. Just the graceful movement of a practiced killer.

He held his daggers in a reverse grip and bulled forward, slicing first with his right and then the left. I ducked his first strike, but the second came so quickly I had to parry awkwardly and then backpedal to keep some distance between us.

I wasn’t so good with the sword yet. Stupid to have tried to kill him with it.

He pressed hard, unleashing one vicious attack after the next. High, low, sideswipe, uppercut. It was all I could do to keep ahead of him—parrying what I couldn’t dodge. Attacking when I could, but never anything that would give the quick bastard trouble.

He fought like he spoke: Deliberate and precise. Not a single wasted movement.

I could hear the Falmer gurgling and snarling on the lower level of the platform. I wondered why they weren’t attacking, then I heard the papery voice of the Master at the edges of my mind.

Leave them alone. Pull the Orb to its place.

Mordred kept attacking, pushing me from one side of the circular platform to the other.

He’s just killing time, I realized. He knows the poison won’t last forever.

I wasn’t good enough with the sword to finish him off. And once they could reach into that dark plain again, I’d be dead in about two heartbeats, I figured.

So I let one of his daggers slide off my blade and scrape along my ribcage.

“Guh,” I grunted, dropping to one knee and letting the sword fall from my hands.

He was a true killer—didn’t even hesitate. Just brought that second dagger around in a sweep that was level with my neck.

But I was ready.

I pulled one of my daggers free and jammed it into his wrist about an inch up from his hand—right where all the bones and blood vessels met like the delta of a river.

He grunted, letting the strange blade fall from his ruined hand. But to the evil bastard’s credit, he had the other dagger swinging almost immediately.

I rolled out of the way, leaving that dagger inside of him and reaching for another one that I’d lashed to my body. I scrambled to my feet and got a good grip—figuring he’d keep on coming hard—but when I turned around he hadn’t moved: one arm dead at his side and bleeding all over the platform.

Just looking at me.

“You’re quick,” he said. There wasn’t an ounce of pain in his voice. “And far better prepared than your predecessor.” He moved to the right, keeping an eye on me. “What was in that dart?” he asked calmly.

“Giant cum and pig shit,” I hissed, following his lead and trying to decide whether to come at him high or low.

Low, I figured.

“That’s an awfully ugly image coming from such a beautiful creature. Why don’t you drop that blade, elf? If you make this easy, I’ll promise not to rape your corpse.” He smiled—mouth full of perfect white teeth.

“Why don’t you drop your blade. I promise not to stuff your balls in your mouth before I kill you.”

Mordred flipped the blade over once in his good hand. “I think not.”

His smile faded a little, and I could tell he was trying to pull at the Netherworld again, but still not getting anything.

I sprinted forward, taking four fast steps and covering the space between us. He reacted just like I thought he would—shifting to the left and preparing a counterattack.

When I was two steps away, I hurled my dagger at his face and dropped to my knees—skin burning against the stone platform. The flying blade caught Mordred by surprise, and it was all he could do to twist away from the flying steel. I pulled the last dagger I had from the hidden spot in my hair and crashed into his legs, knocking him over.

Then I stabbed him in the chest five times, caving in both of his lunges and cutting through the ventricles of his heart.

I’d planned out a whole speech for him—dark, evil words. I wanted him to know whose soul I was revenging.

But I couldn’t much remember the words I’d planned out. And a promise is a promise.

Keeping one eye on the Master—whose face was stone—I sliced through Mordred’s pants, took his balls in my fist, and then cut them off. He started to make a terrible, animal sound of pain, but I put a stop to that by ramming his own manhood into his mouth and down his throat.

He choked to death on his balls before he bled out, and I smiled down at him while it happened.

“Try raping my corpse now, prick.”

I moved to my left, picked up Garland’s sword. The cut on my ribs was deep—I could feel the muscles pulling apart a little further each time I twisted or moved. Blood was pouring out of it—I could feel that liquid warmth dripping down my side and running along my pelvis, between my legs. Strange feeling.

It was the kind of wound that killed people.

“Dog of Sithis,” the Master said in his terrible voice. “I am going to pull your heart out of your cunt for that.”

He raised both hands, and I could tell he was trying to make good on that threat, but he still couldn’t get at his precious Netherworld. How much time did I have left? Ten minutes? One minute? No way to know.

Stay or run? Stay or run?

“Who are you?” I asked.

The Falmer almost had the Orb in position over the strange spire. They were all on one side, pushing it towards the edge. What would happen when the Orb fell onto the spire?

He twisted his pale face in an odd way—it might have been his version of smile. “Akavarin, the Lord of the Netherworld.”

Fuck it, I thought, I’ll never get to the surface alive anyway.

“Well, I’m going to kill you now.”

Covered in blood and sweat, weak and exhausted, I rushed towards Akavarin. He seemed surprised that I’d do it, as if the mere mention of his name should have made me piss myself. The Dark Lord’s eyes turned into two white saucers of horror, and he made the same stupid face every other bastard made when my blade came down for their life.

I swung Garland’s sword as hard I could—every last wisp of energy I had crushing down on him. The muscles along my ribs pulled apart more. Akavarin put a hand up, like some feeble old farmer might.

The sword cut through skin and muscle and bone. A spray of blood hit my face. His arm bent at an impossible angle and then fell off. The sword kept going—covering that last foot of air between his dismembered arm and his frightened face.

Then it stopped.

One inch from his eye, it stopped. Felt like I’d slammed the thing into the side of a castle.

And then my insides all went to shit and I pissed myself.

Because his eye was glowing a pale, impossible shade of purple. And he didn’t look afraid anymore.
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part 5

Post  Sovngarde on Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:57 am

I buried my wife yesterday. She caught a bad cough last month that wouldn’t quit. She died in the early morning, when the world was still frozen and stiff.

Eslen always wanted me to keep a journal. A record of my thoughts for future generations, she said. I think she hassled me about it because I’m the only one we ever knew who could read and write.

Learned it in the army, when I was kid running messages for Imperials.

I never listened. But with Eslen gone into the ground, I find it brings me a strange comfort—hunched over my desk my candlelight, scratching away with this makeshift quill.

I’ll write when I can.

Loredas, 7th day of Morning Star, 4E 201

You grow turnips all your life, it teaches you some things.

Those roots taught me what a day’s work really meant. And how you can fold one hard day on top of the next for months and years at a time—have nothing to show for it except a bent back and a one-room cottage on the outskirts of Dawnstar.

They showed me what a cold snap’ll do to hopes and dreams. How the gods will shit on you day in and day out, without ever letting up. Like they got nothing better to do than crap bad luck out on my lot in life.

Aye, turnips’ll turn a good man bad. That is a fact.

But I’ve learned other things, living out here on the frontier. No company except for Eslen, the wind, and the wolves.

I’ve learned what silence truly means. And how beautiful the snow can be, falling at midnight with a full moon in the sky.

I’ve learned how to be quiet in my mind. Bury the restless feet of my youth along with my crops. Let life settle in to its steady ways.

And, of course, I’ve learned to fear the Falmer.

You can laugh at me. Call me a superstitious peasant with nothing but legends and wives’ tales in my head. I’m used to it. When I go into the city for market and tell people of the things I’ve seen—the monsters I fear—all I get are japes and jokes and cruelty.

But they don’t have to endure the long nights out on the plain. City folk haven’t heard the shadows moving in the darkness. Haven’t seen the eyeless creatures boiling up from the deep.

Sundas, 1st day of Sun’s Dawn, 4E 201

Used to be, I’d go years without seeing one. Hardly even worried most of the time. But lately there’ve been more of them.

A lot more.

Something is down there helping them. Giving them courage. There is an odd smell in the air whenever they come now—greasy and metallic.

Nothing smells worse than a Falmer. But these things…this smell. It’s stranger than it is foul.

Still, it brings me fear.

Tirdas, 11th day of Sun’s Dawn, 4E 201

Dark times, these. There’s been a hard frost for the past three weeks. I fear most of my crops are dead from it. Can’t say I’m surprised. With the dragons returning, Eslen dead, and the Falmer making moves on the surface, the gods stepping in to jam a finger into my eye makes pretty good sense.

As long as I have a few goats, I’ll make it till spring. You can live a long time off a goat.

Middas, 21st day of Sun’s Dawn, 4E 201

Sighted four Falmer yesterday. Their hazy figures loping along my southern field—body of my last goat slung over one’s shoulder.

I’ve known those eyeless fuckers to steal a stray calf form a herd. Something young that wanders off a bit too far. But to sneak into my barn like that in broad daylight? Never heard of something like that. Never seen them so brazen.

And always, there is the smell of burning metal in their wake.

Tirdas, 27th day of Sun’s Dawn, 4E 201

Revenge. Sweet revenge. Without the goat, I thought myself lost. But it seems the gods are not through with me just yet.

This morning I came upon a wounded Falmer. Something big had chewed his leg up good. Cave Bear. Sabre Cat. Dragon, maybe.

I stoved it’s head in with my hatchet and drug the bastard’s corpse back to my cottage.

Been eating him.

You’d think it’d take a lot to make a man turn to something so dark and evil for a meal. I certainly did. But you try going six days with nothing but ice chunks and root wisps in your belly. You’d have had that blind bastard on the spit just as fast as I did.

Tastes a lot like pork.

Fredas, 28th day of Sun’s Dawn, 4E 201

Been puking and shitting most of the day. Only stopped to write this down, so that my position can be made clear to future generations:

Fuck the Falmer.

Loredas, 29th day of Sun’s Dawn, 4E 201

They’ve come for me. Must have been able to sense I was about finished. I been burning all my furniture—trying to keep the shakes away. Failing at it. It’s just me and the stupid diary that’s left.

The Falmer’s claws scrape at my door. Guttural moans echo inside my pounding head.

That smell. That burning smell. I’d have liked to die with just about any other smell in my nose.

I have my old crossbow out. Managed to load a quarrel into it—although it took some doing. Don’t think I have the strength to load another. I figure the Falmer will be through my door sometime before dawn. They’ve been at the thing pretty good.

So now I got just one last decision to make.

I can wait on em, and greet the first ugly fuck to make it through with a bolt through its face. Or I can prop the bitch up under my chin and send my own damn self to the gods.

Haven’t made up my mind yet. I’m waiting on them to snap another hinge or two before I force a decision.

I guess if you find my body along with this book, it’ll be pretty obvious which direction I went.
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part 6

Post  Sovngarde on Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:58 am

I smelled the brimstone volcano from fifty miles off the coast of Vvardenfell. An awful smell—salty a putrid—like the entire world was smoldering in the distance.

The wind was gentle and favorable, though, and I was able to guide my skiff between the rocky islands and shoals of the Azura’s Coast. Steering that boat and listening to the single-sail flap in the breeze overhead, it was impossible not to remember the first time I came to this immense island a quarter millennia ago.

Chained up in the hold of an Imperial galley. Dumped off in Seyda Neen like a cheap piece of cargo. Told to go meet Caius Cosades.

It was much different the second time around, no way to argue that. But I couldn’t help feeling like my life was just a long, pointless walk in some massive circle. And that I was just now starting on the second loop.

Always, in the distance, the Red Mountain gurgled out lava and ash—an incessant, searing wound in the land.

But I did not come for the volcano. I came for Divayth Fyr.

Where else to start? I steered my skiff to Tel Fyr. It looked entirely abandoned—the mushroom buildings and the yawning towers were full of holes and covered with burn marks.

Just like the rest of the dying country.

I anchored my ship and stepped onto the rocky ground. Stretched out my arms and legs, then pulled my Akaviri katana from the hold, slid it through my belt, and strode towards the remnants of the wizard’s tower.

The main hall was burned out. Nothing left but scorched support beams—broken and bent in different directions like the skeleton of some enormous, crushed insect.

I remembered the great tower of Divayth Fyr in all of his majesty. Stretching up and up into a sky that wasn’t marred by burning ash. I remembered his four daughters—gray skinned and beautiful. I remembered the day Divayth Fyr gave me the Cuirass of the Savior’s Hide as a gift. Powerful armor that I still use for protection.

The tower was a ruin, though. It was just me, Hircine’s armor, and the memories that remained.

And the dark tunnel leading down to the Corprusarium.

I took one final breath of at least semi-fresh air, lit a torch, and then strode into the pit. For hundreds of years, Divayth had conducted his dark experiments down there. Funny that he would leave evidence of it behind—like a bite of a scrape left from an illicit and dangerous lover. Proof of his deviant tendencies.

He always was an absentminded bastard, though.

I didn’t know what I was looking for. Nothing in particular, really. In my experience, lowering your expectations and wandering around is the best way to figure out what’s coming next.

I wound through the dark tunnels, noting the piles of bones and pieces of Dwemer machinery, most of them half-sunk into the muddy ground. Had there been so much Dwemer technology the last time I was here? After so many years, it was difficult to remember.

As I approached the dark corner where Yagrum Bagarn—the last of the Dwemer—had made his home, I smelled a foulness in the air. Something much worse than the lingering scent of Corprus disease. An evil smell.

The reek of the Netherworld.

Sure enough, a dark shape melted out of the shadow in the far corner of the chamber. Two pale green eyes swimming in the blackness.

“What are you?” the person hissed, body still invisible in the dark. A female’s voice, though—old and papery, like soil that hadn’t seen water in years.

“Just an ordinary traveler,” I said. “Come to explore Vvardenfall.”

The woman took a few steps forward, moving just close enough for my torch to shed some light on her. She was a Breton with long black hair and perfect skin. A lithe body and haunting, impossibly green eyes.

A Morathi Necromancer. No doubt about it.

“A traveler, you may be,” she said. “But nothing is ordinary about you, Nerevarine. My master said you might turn up. It is an honor.”

I flicked my eyes around the chamber, making sure there was just one of them. I learned the hard way that the Morathi were not to be underestimated. Two or three of them could cause a powerful amount of trouble.

Seemed like she was alone, though.

“You lot have roused me from my stony sleep,” I said, moving the torch into my off-hand.

She grunted at that. “Did we send some ship across the vast sea and knock on the door of that ramshackle hut you’ve been calling a home? I think not. You are an uninvited annoyance. An interloper.”

I wondered how this Breton devil knew so much about my life, but decided not to ask for an explanation. Sometimes violence is the only way to get answers.

“That may be,” I said, pulling my blade from its scabbard. “But you’re the corpse-fucker who drew the short straw running into me, and you’re not walking out of this pit alive.”

She smiled—perfect white teeth reflecting in the light of my torch.

“We’ll see.”

With a group of Necromancers, you always need to rush, otherwise they’ll raise the corpses on you and make a big fucking mess. But with just one, it’s a different story. Best to be patient—let them burn down some of their magicka before you make a move.

The Breton unleashed a huge ball of fire from her palms—flames pouring through the air and filling the chamber with light and heat.

It had been a long time since someone had tried to kill me. Decades. I was surprised by the thrill of it. Hear racing, mind focused.

I had gone looking for that feeling everywhere. There is nothing else like it.

My face flushed from the heat as I cast a shell around myself—fire bending away to each side and scorching the walls of chamber. She must have been an apprentice, because even for a Morathi Necromancer she was arrogant enough to think her magic would outlast mine.

I watched the flames weaken and dwindle. Saw the doubt creep across her face when she realized she could not keep it up much longer.

When her spell finally quit, I smiled at her. “Just so you know, I’m not going to leave your corpse around after I kill you,” I said. Taking a few steps to the left. “Your soul won’t be able to slink its way back into that sack of flesh after I’m gone. I’ve seen that trick before.”

She drew a jagged daedric dagger from her belt. “First you have to kill me!” she snarled.

I waited until she’d drawn her arm all the way back—preparing for a vicious thrust, no doubt—before I dropped my torch and bolted forward.

I cut off her arm before the torch had fallen halfway to the ground. When she came around for her killing stroke, there wasn’t anything to swing at me besides a bleeding stump.

Before her eyes had begun to widen with horror, I cut off her other arm and both her legs. Kicked her mutilated torso into the corner.

Then she had time to scream.

Between her shrieks and howls I felt her weaving a spell—trying to pull a set of phantom limbs from the Netherworld.

I opened up my palm and drank in her magicka—sucking her power down to nothing. An empty glass.

Caius had enjoyed tortures and interrogations. The pumping for information. And for a time, I must admit, I was relegated his methods. But between my travels and my sins I discovered a more elegant solution to the gathering of intelligence.

I cast a charm spell on the Breton. Wiping away the pain and the fear that was flooding through her destroyed body. It would never have work on her at full strength, but cutting off all of a person’s limbs has a way of diminishing their spirit. She clung to my charm like a child on her mother’s tit—drinking in the lies my spell sung to her.

You can trust me, it sung to her. He is a friend.

“Why were you waiting here?” I asked.

She didn’t even hesitate. “Divayth took what he could as Vvardenfell collapsed upon itself, but he was rushed…” she choked, blood pouring out of her mouth. “We thought he might return for something…a forgotten piece of machinery, maybe.”

“Where is he now?”

She made a shrugging motion as best she could with the stumps of her arms. “Nobody knows. There are many like me. Waiting…watching. Divayth will soon make his move, our Master is sure of it.”

“Where is you master? Where is Akavarin?”

She frowned at that—knowing it was secret information. I wove my spell deeper into the caverns of her mind. Watched her caution melt down to nothing.

“Skyrim,” she said, blooding dripping out from between her perfect teeth. “All roads lead to Skyrim.”

I nodded, and then drove my left hand into her chest. Wrapped my fist around the ventricles of her hear and then yanked it out. Burned it down to nothing with a flame spell.

I watched the life drain from her body. Smelled the rotten wisps of the Netherworld as her soul began to perform its dark, twisted search for a place to land.

Then I set it on fire, and started thinking about the fastest route to Skyrim.
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part 7

Post  Sovngarde on Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:59 am

The underground ruin stretched out for miles.

Mordred walked through the narrow passageways and massive halls—wrinkling his nose at the damp smell and the crumbling brick. The walls were festooned with moss and ivy and mushrooms. The ground was wet and slick beneath his feet.

And in every dark corner, there were the Falmer.

Twisted creatures. Mordred did not care for them. Their blindness made them difficult resurrections to control, and their base nature made them unpredictable in a battle. One moment they’re fighting for you, the next they’ve wandered off to gnaw at a bone or hump some corpse.

Yet, Akavarin had turned an entire ruin of them into his minions.

Strange. Strange and unsettling. Mordred had never known his Master to put much stock in creatures of the deep. He preferred birds and beasts—fast moving allies who could keep a watch on the world for him. Let him know what was coming.

But there was no mistaking Akavarin’s presence further below. Mordred felt his Master’s power growing stronger with each step he took—heard his summons in the back of his mind.

“Closer, closer,” it called. “Return to me.”

What could the great Akavarin want down here among this destroyed civilization? Mordred did not know. Although after what happened on Solstheim, he could start to guess. There was more to the Morathi Covenant than he knew. Much more.

Mordred found his Master seated behind a massive stone table in dining hall. The smoking skeleton of a Centurion was heaped in one corner, no doubt destroyed by Akavarin. Countless Falmer zombies huddled in the shadows—grunting and groaning and waiting to do his bidding.

“You’re being followed,” his Master said. His voice barely above a whisper.

Mordred frowned. He had felt the assassin tracking him, of course, but didn’t think he’d have had the courage to follow him down here.

“I had planned on dealing with him on the surface, after we spoke,” Mordred said.

“It would seem Sithis’ dog has made other plans. He comes closer.”

“The Falmer can’t stop him?”

Akavarin grunted, and all at once the blind, deadened eyes of the Falmer in the room locked onto him. “I did not raise these creatures to clean up your mess. They have another purpose.”

That made Mordred uneasy. “Shall I deal with the assassin now, and return?” he offered.

“No.” Akavarin voiced was final. “Tell me about Neloth, then kill him.”

Mordred shrugged, relaxing a bit. “It would seem that Divayth Fyr has found a map of some kind to the Netherworld. He’s looking for something, although Neloth didn’t know what. Just that Hermaeus Mora was involved.”

“Mora…hmmm.” That seemed to give Akavarin pause. “Fyr always was thirsty for knowledge. Knowledge and power. What does he want with the Morathi Covenant?”

“Neloth said that…” Mordred paused, unsure of how best to continue. “We are in the way.”

Akavarin’s red eyes burned. He said nothing.

“Perhaps something we’ve been guarding?” Mordred ventured.

Another long silence. One of the Falmer made a grotesque sucking noise with its mouth.

“Guarding is not the word I would use.” Akavarin glanced around the room. “The assassin draws near. Put an end to him, and then meet me below.”

“How far below?”

Akavarin smiled. A deeply unsettling expression.

“Far.”

His Master stood up and disappeared down a dug-out Falmer tunnel. The sound of his minions following after him filled the hall. A hundred deformed and dirty feet shuffling into the earth—gone to perform some unknown and dubious purpose.

When it was silent again, Mordred closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. The assassin’s magic felt strong—like a flood of water coming inexorably towards him.

Best stay focused.

He entered the room under the blanket of invisibility. Footsteps muffled with another feeble spell. Mordred sighed, and then sent a ball of fire hurtling towards the assassin’s chest.

Surprisingly, he managed to deflect it into a wall. A cloud of dust and singed rock puffed into the air, and the man materialized.

An imperial with a wrinkled and weather-beaten faced. He wore the black and red robes of the Dark Brotherhood. Mordred had never met one before, but he knew what they looked like.

A servant of Sithis.

“You should not have come down here, interloper,” Mordred said.

The old man shrugged. “Yet here I am.”

Mordred eyed him curiously. “Who sent you? Divayth Fyr?”

There was the smallest flicker of recognition in the old man’s eyes—a moment of panic that he suppressed as soon as it appeared.

Divayth hadn’t sent him, that was clear, but this shadow of a wizard knew enough to know he was never going to see the light of day again.

“Sithis sent me,” he said.

“Of course.” Mordred took a step towards the center of the room. “Let’s have it then.”

The old man frowned, summoning the magic inside of him. He had some skill, Mordred had to admit. The energy was pulled from the moist air and the old stones, filling the man’s old body with the power of destruction.

The assassin moved forward, and Mordred came to meet him.
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part 8

Post  Sovngarde on Sat Jun 08, 2013 3:00 am

sk your average citizen—a farmer or merchant or whatever—about necromancy, and you’ll get a vague, unsatisfying response.

It might be they’ve heard tales of bonewalkers and zombies haunting dark caves in the wilderness—sallow corpses with rotting flesh hanging from blackened bones. Or maybe some traveling, hack wizard brought a chicken back to life in front of them for a Septim or two.

Children’s stories and parlor tricks. That is the average understanding of my dark art.

It is like a farmer grasping a handful of dirt in his hand and saying that he understands the forces that raise mountains into the clouds, and bury civilizations beneath the sea.

So when I began kill the citizens of Tel Mithryn on their feet—sending a death-rattle down each spine with little more than a glance in their direction—and resurrect them immediately as my servants, there was some confusion.

It must be some joke, they thought. Some trick. Some cruel game their husband or wife or friend was playing on them.

But there was no trick. There was only me.

One by one I turned them all, filling their eyes with the purple glow of the underworld.

I spared no one. Not even the children.

If Neloth was as powerful as Akavarin told me, I would need every available soul at my beck and call.

I turned the citizens of that quiet, mushroom city into my own private army of darkness, and then ordered them to charge the tower of Tel Mithryn. I could feel the wizard in there, as I’m sure he felt me below. Polluting his gentle creations with the putrid smell of death.

My minions rushed forward in a hazy cloud of purple. Breaking down the door and cramming themselves into the small vestibule. They were jettisoned up the wizard’s magical passageway like a drunk vomits up stomach bile.

I waited below as they began to attack Neloth. Watched through their eyes as he defended himself. What else was he to do? They wanted to tear the very limbs from his body.

Akavarin was right, he was strong.

Lightning filled the tower. Thick blasts of electricity sawing into the mushroom walls and burning through my army. I heard their screams. Tasted the strange, charged flavor in my mouth. Smelled the scent of cooked flesh and burnt hair filling the air.

He laid waste to dozens of my minions, but each bolt of lightning sapped more of his strength. And they kept coming—filling his halls and rooms with smoking flesh.

I heard Neloth screaming, too. For these were his people. There is nothing quite like the cries of a man forced to kill those that he has loved. Such passion. Such rage. I admire the song every time it touches my ears.

When I felt the wizard’s imposing strength begin to ebb—his magicka burned down and exhausted by the slaughter I forced upon him—I entered the tower.

Smoke was everywhere. Charred limbs and sizzling bits of flesh.

My poor children.

I found Neloth in his chambers, struggling to draw even the faintest of sparks from two fingers as my last two resurrections closed down upon him. I glided across the room, ready to call them off if Neloth was truly spent.

But I was pleasantly surprised.

He pulled a staff from beneath his bed and unleashed a blinding ball of lightning. It incinerated my two zombies and then barreled onwards towards me. Probably would have burned the very fibers of my bones down to nubs.

If I had still been standing there.

I slipped into the outer realm—my body momentarily losing its corporeal nature—and the bolt of lightning flew past, exploding out the entire side of Neloth’s mushroom tower. I breathed in the moist, damp scent of the netherworld, enjoying its dark, twisted ways, and then rematerialized behind the wizard’s searching eyes.

I snatched the staff from his trembling hands and smashed him across the face with it.

He raised a hand to me—even managed to fill it with one last churning ball of lighting that may have had the strength to singe away my eyebrows. But with a flick of my wrist I killed every bit of flesh he had in his arm. Melted his skin down to a puddle on the floor.

“Gaaaaaaaaaah,” he cried. Dropping to his knees and writhing on the floor.

I assumed the wizard would be strong. Loyal to his master, this Divayth Fyr. And I had no desire to waste time.

So, I melted down both of his legs, too, and fused his bones to the floor.

His screams were loud, and certainly filled with agony, but the animal cries of pain were nothing compared to the sounds he had made earlier while incinerating the citizens of Tel Mithryn. I was not interested in his own pleas for survival. I just wanted answers.

“This can last for a few more minutes, or it can last for an eternity,” I said, speaking slowly so that his panicking mind would be able to process the information. “The choice is yours.”

Neloth gritted his teeth and tried to pull himself up from the floor with his last remaining arm. There was a popping sound as his thigh-bone separated from floor.

More screams.

I fused the bone back onto the floor and pulled a chair from the corner into the center of the room. Sat down and stretched out.

“Don’t prolong this debasement. Just answer a few simple questions.”

He looked at me with his burning red eyes. Blinked once. Most of the fire seemed to have gone out of them.

“Ask, demon-spawn,” he spat.

“Why has Divayth Fyr returned?” I asked.

I saw the instinct to lie flicker through his eyes. The false stories weave their way around his tongue. Then he looked around the room at the mounds of corpses that surrounded him, and I saw the truth take bloom inside of him.

“Because he did not find what he was looking for beyond the eastern continent of Akavir. Not exactly, anyway.”

“What did he find?”

Neloth grunted. “Tell me, when you cross over to the netherworld and make your sinful pilgrimages to the night-lands, what do you use to navigate?”

“I’m asking the questions,” I said. Balling up my fist and bending a few of his ribs backwards.

He groaned and wretched up some vomit. Begged for me to stop.

“This is the answer!” he gasped. “What do you use?”

I considered this. He was dead anyway, there was no reason to guard the sacred knowledge of the Morthathi Covenant from him.

“A strand of silk, dipped in a newborn’s soul.”

Neloth smiled. There was some blackened blood between his teeth. I found it unpleasant to look at.

“Of course you do. Silk.” He even laughed a little, but stopped from the pain it caused him.

“What did he find?” I asked, raising my hand and threatening to bend more ribs.

“A better way,” Neloth said quickly. “He found a map. A true map. Not a shoddy bread-crumb trail made from the blood of infants.”

“Where is he going now?”

Neloth shrugged as best he could in his condition.

“He was only here for a short time, and he did not leave an itinerary.”

“Not good enough.”

The wizard swallowed a few times and then looked into my eyes. There was a resignation there, and a fear. The great fear all mortals carry when they know their end is near. It seemed more potent on him, somehow. Perhaps because he was so old.

“Hermaeus Mora. Whatever Divayth is after, Mora is involved. That’s all I know.”

“What does Divayth want with the Demon of Knowledge?” I asked.

“The same thing everyone wants with him. To know more.”

It didn’t fit together. Mora was powerful, but he had little and less dealings with my order.

“How is the Morathi Covenant involved?”

Neloth laughed again. “All those years, all those lifetimes, and Akavarin still doesn’t get it, does he? You filth aren’t involved, you’re in the way,” he hissed.

His eyes rolled back in his head. His soul weakened. I reached out with my mind to pull him back, to dig more answers from him, but the wizard’s magic had regenerated just enough for a final spell. He couldn’t defeat me in life, so he ran from me into death. I couldn’t follow the path of his soul.

The room shuddered. I was left alone with the cool wind and the stink of burning flesh.
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