Chapter 18 The Fifth Man
I looked up to the crimson sky that seemed to swell out from Red Mountain, as if in pain. From the streets of Ald’ruhn I began to notice the effects of Dagoth Ur that were taking place. Even since we had arrived three days ago, the sky had gotten dark and eerie. People acted differently. The growing tension in the city’s populace had become more evident. And I was beginning to feel unease as well. I hadn’t been taking my recent series of unfortunate events very seriously, but when I had woken up in the morning and saw that the devilish grasp of Red Mountain had extended out to the sky over Ald’ruhn, I began to comprehend the significance of the situation. Dagoth Ur had become more than just a name to me. I could feel his presence every time I looked up to the sky. I had begun to feel what apparently all the Dunmer had been feeling for some time now. The religion-bound race of elves knew that the enemy of their holy Tribunal was lurking. Plotting, scheming, manipulating, and ever tightening his grasp on the susceptible minds of Dunmer. It placed an unsettling feel in everyone’s hearts. The three of us were no different.
And on top of that, Hearthfire third was approaching. One day of the year I certainly did not enjoy. It upset me so much so, that at the time, I couldn’t even bear to think about it.
, Snorri, and I sat at a round table at the Rat in the Pot, each with glasses half empty. We sipped our drinks, and said little. Our initial excitement had died down and we were left to simply await our destiny. “It must be almost six now. Hard to tell with the sky the way it is,” Xighden said. He was correct. Half a day left until we set off to Sadrith Mora to meet Magnus and find the Telvanni Lord, Aryon. He was our strongest lead in finding Lemnos and whatever answers that were needed to quell our investigation. After speaking with Doth Berossus, the Redoran noble, we knew that Lemnos was at least partly responsible for the threads of destiny that we were currently tangled in. Still though, it was a shady lead and not a very motivational one.
As we sat in the glum spirited tavern I noticed a man walk in and approach the bar. I paid little attention to him at first, but after he spoke with the barmaid and was pointed in our direction, I was forced to take notice. He came up from behind Xighden and Snorri, and made eye contact with me. “I’m looking for a few people. I wondered if you could help,” he said. The others then turned to face him.
“And who would it be you’re looking for?” Snorri asked. The man grabbed a piece of paper out of his pocket.
“Well, a Khajiit by the name of…Xighden Lienx, for starters,” he said, consulting the paper to remember Xighden’s name. Xighden then turned in his seat and faced the man.
“I am Xighden Lienx. What does the Imperial want?” Xighden queried.
“Just to talk. Can I sit down?” he asked. All three of us silently nodded.
The Imperial was of average height and build, with little about him that stuck out, despite a few small facial scars. He was unshaven and gruff looking; covered in common blue and grey clothes and steel armor. I noticed the hilt of a wide bladed broadsword that hung, sheathed, from his belt. I also noticed a small, green amulet that hung around his neck.
The Imperial grabbed a chair and sat down, referring to his paper once again. “So I suppose you would be Prophiter. And you are either Snorri or …Magnus the Greymind,” he continued. None of us responded to his questioning, but instead simply stared, awaiting some kind of explanation. “Sorry if that sounds strange, but I need to talk with all of you. My name is Vailant.”
“Snorri,” Snorri said.
“I’ve recently come across some information. It involves a …prophecy. Do you know what I’m talking about?” Vailant asked. I looked over at Xighden, who kept his gaze firmly upon the Imperial sitting across from him.
“We have heard of this prophecy. Continue,” Xighden then said to him. We all eagerly turned our attention to the new character to see what information he offered. Xighden’s ears perked up at a better angle to hear his words.
“All right. It was about a week ago when they first approached me. They were noblemen from the House Hlaalu. They asked the Fighters Guild, that’s where I get my work, by the way, for me specifically. It seemed strange but, for the money they offered, I didn’t care.” Vailant then paused in his speech and turned his attention to the others patrons of the bar. No one seemed to be watching us. “Now, I’m a mercenary, and I need to take whatever jobs I can find. What they wanted from me, well, it was to kill someone,” he said.
Vailant seemed unsure about how the three of us would take the fact that he was a killer. As I soon found out, we collectively took it quite well. I felt a bit strange in the midst of assassins, but Snorri and Xighden seemed to be unaffected by the information.
“Go on,” Snorri said.
“Okay, so these nobles have told me to take out an Imperial in Pelagiad. And I go through with it. I plan it out and soon enough, I’m standing in front of the guy, ready to finish him off.” Vailant seemed to be unaware of the visual aid he was providing by holding an invisible dagger in his hand. “And right when I’m about to take him out, he says he knows my name and what I’m doing there. He tells me I’m a “vital player” in some plan. I didn’t understand him at first, but he knew everything about me, and he gave me this.” Vailant then showed us the piece of paper that he had earlier pulled from his pocket.
Notice to all Imperial Forts of Morrowind:
The names listed below are of importance to the Empire’s progress in Morrowind. Under no circumstances are any of the following people to be detained or imprisoned.
Simon Belmont: Breton, Imperial Cult
Xighden Lienx: Khajiit, Fighters Guild
Vailant Damascus: Imperial, Fighters Guild
Magnus the Greymind: Nord, Mages Guild
Doth Berossus: Dunmer, House Redoran
Lemnos: Altmer, House Telvanni
Arwaen: Bosmer, No affiliates
Snorri: Nord, No affiliates
Prophiter: Bosmer, No affiliates
Swift Foot Wanders: Argonian, No affiliates
Draco Brim-Drethan: Orc, No affiliates
This order comes from the Emperor himself. A lack of compliance with these orders will be considered felonious and will bring occupational repercussions.
Glabrio Belienus, Head Secretary to Emperor Uriel Septim the 7th
We passed around the note and all agreed that it looked authentic. It seemed that Vailant Damascus was in the same situation that I was. The five of us, including Magnus, were all “vital players” in the confusing mess of a conspiracy. I felt very unsure about what he said. Not in the sense that I didn’t trust him, although I didn’t, but more specifically it was that as we looked for more answers, things only became more perplexing. And the advice that the Imperial agent, Cauis Cosades, had given us was of no help at all. Go with your gut and hope for the best. It seemed that we were walking blind into every situation that we came across. And our only lead that we had a hope of finding was the Altmer; Lemnos.
“How did you find us?” Snorri asked.
Find you? That wasn’t hard. Soon after I found out about this plot, I started asking questions about all the names on my list. Some mercenaries at the Fighter’s Guild had heard of you,” Vailant said, turning his attention to Xighden. “So all I did was follow you to Ald’ruhn. I tried to see this Doth Berossus, but his Redoran guards would even let me past the front gate. I returned to Ald’ruhn and here I am.” Neither Xighden nor Snorri said anything for a minute. They just sat and contemplated what they were being told. Vailant looked at all three of us, waiting for a response.
“So, are you going to help me with this or not?” Vailant aggressively asked. There was still yet another pause before anyone said anything. Truth be told, I was just leaning back and listening in. I didn’t even know what to say.
“How can we trust the Imperial, though? And what is does it offer us?” Xighden asked.
“What can I offer? Okay, this is the part you’ll like. I didn’t even remember this until a few days after I found out about this whole thing; but a few months ago, I was working for one of the Telvanni lords. My job was to provide protection, and transport cargo up north to an outpost. Except on the way there, one of the Telvanni underlings tells us that we’re changing course. So we stop off at these strange ruins, on an island in the far north. And there was a lot of cargo; he was setting up something big. But what he says to me afterwards was the weirdest part. He says 'You’ll be needed later. You’re a vital player.' I didn’t think much of it at that time, but now I know that something connected to all of this is going on up in those ruins. That one Telvanni was cooking something up. I know it.” I thought about what he had said. The mention of the Telvanni ruins created another possible connection to Lemnos.
“And the Telvanni Lord at the northern ruins; what was his name?” I inquired.
“His name? Uhh…Arron? No, Aryon, I think. And the Telvanni that took us into the ruins was some High Elf. Don’t know his name. You know, tall, snooty, like the rest of them.” Master Aryon? An Altmer Telvanni? Both rerouting supplies to secret ruins and speaking of “vital players?” What Vailant said seemed almost too coincidental. I did not express my suspicious views though. Xighden and Snorri seemed too interested with the mention of an Altmer’s presence to be distracted by the so very timely arrival of the news. And then again, it was destiny we were dealing with.
“All right, so the Imperial is part of this story as well. What is it he wants?” Vailant took a second to understand Xighden’s Khajiit pronunciation.
“Oh, what do I want? I want answers, just like the rest of you. I want to go find the filthy bastards that are trying to toy with me and kill them all! I suppose that’s why I was looking for you. Some security would be nice when we go and slit their throats.” Charming. There was, yet again, an awkward silence as the barmaid and a few patrons leaned over to see what the mention of “killing filthy bastards” was all about.
Now, nothing can break a solid silence better than a bloodthirsty Nord. And so, Snorri did just that as he slammed his hands down, palms open, to emphasize his sudden conclusion.
“I like it! He’s got the right idea. I say we go to these ruins, find some wizards, ask some questions, and kill whoever doesn’t answer!” Vailant looked appreciative of Snorri’s attitude. Xighden appeared to be giving the situation somewhat more thought, although he responded similarly.
“It does seem like the best bet that we’ve got. I think we should at least look, and see if the Imperial is correct.” Their attention then turned to me.
“Well, what do you say, elf?” Snorri said. Xighden and Vailant awaited my response. I told them exactly what I was thinking.
“I…um…well, I suppose that…” The three sets of eyes flared with a new eagerness, and pierced through my sheepish attitude. “Alright. Fine, let’s go,” I said, surrendering my skepticism. And we were agreed. The stranger had been quite timely with his information; something that I found too good to be true. I had no reason to doubt him though. Also, I was beginning to share Xighden and Snorri’s anticipation for answers. I had only been in Vvardenfell for two weeks, but ever since I stepped foot off the Imperial prison ship, I had felt an inkling that something was coming. Perhaps it was destiny, perhaps it was my imagination. Either way, it appeared that we would soon be on our way to the Sheogorad region in search of ancient ruins. Oh well, what the hell. I sang in my head.
The four of us packed our belongings and prepared for an early rise the following day. We were making our way to Sadrith Mora to meet Magnus. He had said that he had Mages Guild business to deal with. I hoped that he was ready for a long trek north, because the Sheogorad region, as I was informed by Snorri, was a dangerous area with poor transportation through it. We would be seeking out Telvanni wizards and traveling to forgotten ruins, surely rife with daedra and other beasts. And on top of that, it would be Hearthfire third, Tales and Tallows. Oh, how I disliked that awful day.