Letters to an Innkeeper

My dearest Voghnar,

I’m sure you must have been wondering why your shipment of sujamma berries and kwama eggs is so late this month. My fool of a dunmer assistant has returned to the plantation early (and empty-handed, no less) with yet another tall tale. I do not believe that there is any truth to it, and I know not what I am going to do with him. Perhaps I’ll put him to work in the farm, or better yet, send him down into the mines to collect eggs (a few bites would do him good, don’t you think?)

I hope your business isn’t doing too badly for lack of the goods; I know how much your dunmeri patrons love Liliah’s sujamma. This batch should reach you quickly enough; Asgar seems to be a promising young lad, strong as a shalk, and his quick wit makes for a nice change in this dreary place. Remember to ask him about the time he caught and rode a dreugh all the way to Narsis, he’ll have your inn rolling about in tears.

Lledras insists on sending you his account of the “incident”, make what you want of it. Convey my love to Liliah (along with a little gift for her).

Yours truly,

Fenrik

***

Patron,

I must apologize to you for not being able to make your shipment to you this month. But I am sure you will understand once you hear my reasons, for I was privileged to a remarkably bizarre encounter that is truly unimaginable. Do you recall how I told you about the spellcasters I came across last year in an abandoned cave that I chose to spend the night in, and how they enchanted my guar so that it flew off with all the goods? This incident is stranger still!

I arrived in Davon’s Watch three days ago, and was making my way on the new road connecting Davon’s Watch to the beautiful city of Ebonheart. I longed to have a drink at the finest tavern in all of Stonefalls, the Ebony Flask (Have you ever lodged there? You surely must!), and greet my old friend Goveled. That drink was to be delayed, I’m afraid, for you would not believe what I saw on the road. Nay, I could not believe it myself, had these fleshless creatures not called out to me by name.

Skeletons. Yes, you read that right. There were about ten or fifteen of them, walking gaily along the road as if they did this every day, singing out loud of things that I dare not put to words. I clutched my guar closely as soon as I spotted them, and hid behind a large boulder so that I would go unnoticed. I was waiting for them to pass by, for fear that I would be abducted. That was when I saw that something was amiss, that it wasn’t just a band of laughing, singing skeletons. Huddled right in the center of the group, naked but for his smallclothes (as can be seen dancing in many of your northern inns) was a trembling nord begging for mercy. Clearly these skeletal beings were escorting him somewhere.

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I was mesmerized by this sight. I wanted to run away, and my guar kept trying to escape my grasp as well. But I decided, against all rational thought, to follow the skeletons and observe them from a safe distance (how often do you get to be a spectator to such things anyway!). This was the point my guar broke free of my grip and sprinted away, along with all the goods I was supposed to deliver. I shrieked after him, which in hindsight was a mistake, for one of the skeletons heard me and whispered in my head.

“Lledras,” said he (it?) in a hoarse, rasping voice, “Come, be merry with us! Watch as we turn this mortal into one of us.” The man beseeched me to help him, but I wasn’t sure of what I could have done.

I followed them at a distance, both enraptured at the sight, and horrified at the thought of what would happen to me once they were done with this man. He was a strange one too, I felt. At times he seemed to be petrified with fear, at others he appeared to be going along with the skeletons’ banter, as if it were a charade. As we neared Ash Mountain, the man pleaded for some water and a morsel of food, at which point one of the skeletons led him to a nearby lava pool, and offered to feed him his own flesh! Thankfully they decided not to follow through with this, although they did enjoy making the man walk around barefoot (did I mention he was naked?) on some newly cooled lava. He danced gleefully and sang along with them, and somehow he did not sustain any burns.

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All this time thoughts of escaping were forever in my head, but whenever I would hesitate, I would hear whispers of “Lledrasss,” from behind me, so I kept on going.

We arrived in Davon’s Watch, back where I’d started. Not one of the residents seemed to notice this strange procession; singing skeletons forcing along a naked man along the streets, although I did get some odd looks. Did I smell of fear? It was very likely. Vivec knows what they thought of me.

The courtyard in front of the Bank of Davon’s Watch was where they stopped. I hovered behind them to see that they had formed a circle around the man, as if they were about to embark on a ritual. And that they did, whispering stories of long gone ghosts and the ghosts to come, casting numerous arcane spells upon this poor individual, who was screaming in agony.

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At long last, he could take it no more and fell to the ground. The skeletons appeared to be satisfied, and starting chanting in unison:

Come to us, mortal, may you be stripped of all flesh until bones remain.

Come to us, mortal, may you be rid of all torment and worldly pain.

Come to us, mortal, may the Lord of Bones cleanse the blood from your veins.

Come to us, mortal, may lost souls forever shudder under your reign.”

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What happened next did not appall me in the least, and I myself was taken aback when I realized that I had been numbed by all the strange events of that evening. I watched on with mild interest, some intrigue even, as various layers of skin and tissue slowly began to disappear from the nord’s body. It was not a gruesome sight by any means, it seemed almost … natural. His arms and legs were the first to go, and then his torso and head also slowly faded away until all that was left of him was a fully beating heart contained within a faint shadow of his former self. His heart pulsed rapidly a few times before he sprang back to life. Wordlessly, he walked up to each of the skeletons, who appeared to be very baffled at this new development, as if this was not what they intended to happen, and started to furiously whisper amongst themselves. The man, or beating heart, waited patiently awhile, and suddenly he took off to the streets, screaming at the top of his voice, “I’m free! I’m free!”

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The skeletons just stood there for some time, scratching their heads (skulls?). I wondered if they had forgotten about me, and decided to slip off to the market square. Just as I was leaving, I heard the same dreadful rasping voice inside my head, “Lledrasssss, you’re next!” Terrified, I stole a guar from the stables and ran as far as I could towards the plantation.

That concludes my strange tale of how I lost the goods that were to be delivered to you, patron, as well as my guar. The farm owners are not at all pleased about the replacement guar, as it trampled over and ate all the cabbages. I now have to tend to those cabbages, so I’m afraid I might not see you again. So once again, I must apologize for these unfortunate events, but know that I am not sorry to have witnessed them.

Lledras Sedrethi

“Guar Stealer”

Written by Lariana of the Nirnroot
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Tirvril – 03: Black-Thorn’d Roses

Dearest Mylindra,

I scratch this out with haste while I walk through Daggerfall, on my way to an inn called the Rosy Lion – I have begun the pursuit of Truth!

As I’m certain you remember, I had found that note with the list of three items upon it.  I chose to follow it in logical order, starting with the first item – Three Blood Oranges.  I left Roy’s body and headed for the Grocer in the Market Square, owned by a rather roguish man, hair tied back in a tight bun, clothing a bit tattered.  His name was Christoph Lamant, and he looked rather confused when I mentioned three blood oranges.  Once I explained how I came upon the note, he made explained that the dead man, who’s name is – was – Roy, was a King’s Intelligence Agent!

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Immediately I thought it to be another mention of Copper and her Ring of Dagger’s, but unfortunately this turned out to be a mention of King Casamir’s intelligence, the leader of Daggerfall, rather than King Emeric’s intelligence, High King of all of High Rock.  A lesser intelligence, but still an intelligence, eh?

Christoph also informed me that Roy – or perhaps the people Roy was spying upon, that part was unclear – may have been involved in Dark Magic.  Yes, I know what you are thinking and I am as well!  Molag Bal!  How is he involved in all of this??  I am beginning to suspect that our good Cleric Talborad may have struck upon something, though nothing yet proves the Chancellor’s involvement.

When I asked further questions about dark magic, Christoph refused to involve himself further and asked me to leave.  I moved on to the next item on the list: a Crescent Emblem Cloak – oh, how that description itself gave me shivers!  It is the perfect item to lead with in the article – make a note of that, for I am bound to forget.

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Where was I…ah yes, the cloak!  The tailor’s stall stands in the same market as the grocer, staffed by a hairy gentlemen in a lilac tunic, very pleasant and welcoming, named Kareem.  When I walked up to him he suggested I choose something in silk – though flattered, I asked outright for “a crescent emblem cloak.”

His eyes, Mylindra!  They revealed all I needed to know!  This man knew exactly what I was talking about.  He grew afraid, head swiveling, and leaned in closer.

“Where’s Roy?”

I explained what had happened, and Kareem seemed genuinely upset.  He asked after the dog, and I realized, with a touch of surprise, I had completely forgotten about the loyal hound.  I had no answer for him.

While I didn’t get an actual cloak, I received something even better – confirmation that I am dealing with the world of dark magic!  But after a cryptic statement about “information channels” that lit my mind afire with possibilities, Kareem closed his mouth and his shop.

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Next on the list – Black Roses with Thorns.  Off to the florist.  A lovely young woman named Diane, very astute and professional yet warm and friendly.  She wore a long green dress with an intricate design down the front in silver.

Her face, Mylindra, when I asked for black thorn roses…it paled, slacked a little, her eyes wide.

“You’ll get yourself killed.”  This she told me a little while later, after demanding to know why Roy was not in front of her and how I had learned the code word..  Yes, the code word!  Apparently Roy used these three traders to get word to the Captain of the guard and the King’s Intelligence about certain goings-on in the dark magic world – and “roses with black thorns” was one of the most dire of warnings!

“If I die in the pursuit of Truth, I die gladly,” I replied in what I thought to be a very gallant tone.  Diane just sighed.  I went on, “Roy and I are quite similar. We both believe certain information should be made available to certain people.  The only difference is that I believe “certain people” to be “everyone.”

To this Diane studied me for a moment, then said,

“Go see Captain Aresin.  He’s commander of the guard here in Daggerfall.”

See Mylindra?  I know you have little faith in the belief that the truth is always best and “will set you free” and other such clichés, but they are true!  I am more certain than ever that this is a story that will set the world alight – following the trail of information truly is exciting!

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The tranquil Western bridge. You can just make out the Castle to the right, those tall spires

I immediately set off for Castle Daggerfall, which soars above the city to the North.  To get to the staircase leading to the castle, you must cross a most tranquil and beautiful bridge.  It crosses a shallow river, and is on the opposite side of the city from where I discovered poor Roy’s body.

It began to rain as I crossed the bridge.  I pulled my cowl closer about my face, tucking my parchments inside my shirt.  Just as I had secured my pen in my pocket, a strange mist popped into existence directly in front of me, coalesced to a solid form, and stood up, all within a single moment!!

I reacted by dropping my mouth open and staggering back.  The man – for he was clearly a man now – yelled something I couldn’t understand or was too stunned to hear, and leapt at me.

From my right a short shape disengaged itself and intercepted the attacker – a Banekin!  From the Daedric realms!  Lighting flashed down from the sky, struck the man and nailed him to the cobblestone.  The Banekin skipped and skittered in their typical fashion, quite gleefully if I must be honest.

The man climbed to his feet, wicked dagger in hand.  He had cropped red hair, shaved on one side, and dark tattoos or paint covering his eyes.  I roused my strength and ran into the fray, beating at him with my fists.  I had no thought for my dagger – I must defeat this man immediately, as quickly as possible, before he can summon his strength and strike me!

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The valiant, unnamed hero who came to my aid! As well as my Banekin companion

I and the Banekin pummeled him, but he would not fall.  Just as my strength began to flag, a warrior appeared like Ysgrammor himself had come to my aid!  The gallant hero struck the attacker down with a single blow from his blood-stained axe and, with hardly a pause, continued down the bridge as though nothing had happened.  I called out my thanks to him, but he did not acknowledge me.  Breath heaving a bit more than I would have liked, I turned to the Banekin.  It looked up at me, grinned, and varnished.

I can only assume the Mages Guild has given me a Familiar of some sort to protect me in my travels – for which I am exceedingly grateful!  Without that Banekin I would certainly have died at the first blow from the assassin  – yes, assassin!  For that is what he must have been, sent to kill me for interceding in this matter—

But that is a thought for later.  I proceeded most cautiously to the foot of the castle steps, avoiding the shadows, where Captain Aresin waited.  He stood at the edge of the promontory, looking out over the Market Square.

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At first he tried to usher me away as yet another visitor, but when I explained that I had information from Roy and the exact nature of that information, the Captain immediately engaged me with the exclamation, “Mara’s Hands!” (a new use of the Goddess’ name that I have never heard before – could you enter it in my running list of phrases?  The list is in the top drawer of my desk, please make a new column titled “High Rock – Daggerfall”, thank you).

He made mention of “dark nature magic” – is this Daedric magic, or some other form of magic?  I had no time to ask any questions.  The Captain, as suits his position, is a brusque, serious person, shaved head, narrowed eyes, a gigantic Greatsword slung over his back like a weightless rucksack.  Quite a noble bearing as well, despite the lack of hair.

To summarize, the Captain requested that I assume Roy’s role.  Well, he may not have said those words exactly, but I can read between the syllables.  I am to gather more information for him from a contact at the Rosy Lion Innan Orc, no less!! – and who better to gather information than Tirvril Dathnim, Cyrodill’s most famous information distributor??

Oh, make a note of that name, “information distributor” – perhaps some amalgamation of those words for the future paper of news you had mentioned some months back!

My hand grows tired from writing so quickly – I will give this note to the Mages Guild as soon as I return from the Rosy Lion Inn.

Tirvril 

Dar’Raksadarg – 01: Prelude

“Son, you are now a cub scout!”

Dar’Rakr had his big paw resting on my shoulder, facing me. “Roarhahaha, that’s a joke, Lil’cat. What I mean is, you are now a cub dragon. ROARHAHAHA!”

I stared without expression at my father. I already knew the details; those were given to me by my mother. Through her tears I managed to figure out that my father was sending me to Skyrim. No surprise there. My cousin J’zargo was attending college in Winterhold without any tuition fees plus free room and board, compliments of the Arch Mage. J’zargo was the first Khajiit to attend the College of Winterhold, so special treatment for him, I guess. My fire-red eyes flickered as my whiskers twitched when my father told me a minor detail of the journey. You know, those details that everyone leaves out:

“Dragons have come back to Skyrim. I see in your eyes that you are the real Dragonborn.”

“I’m not sticking around to fight a dragon!” No more!  I yield to my father’s craziness.  I will now begin to search for jarrin root.

“All you need to do is find that finger-wiggling disgrace of a skeever-mage named J’zargo and watch him crumble when he learns you are a dragon!” My father’s tail was wagging so fast from the sheer joy of beating out his brother that I swear it was about to fly off.

“You want me to go Skyrim, become a dragon and tell J’zargo about it?” Never hurts to get the real details so I asked.

“Powerful idea, isn’t it? Roarhahaha!” My father was shoving a backpack into my arms while my mother was frantically trying to fill it with food and drink. “Time to end this little game with my brother! You are the greatest and most powerful of all. But not as a mage! Go forth, cubbyson and show everyone who the real Dragonborn is! Just make sure you prove it to J’zargo and send that whimpering, weak, milk-drinker home! ROARHAHAHA!”

“I don…” My eyes narrowed at him as he shoved some catnip mixed with moon sugar into my mouth. “Wha…” The last thing I remembered was my father pouring ale down my throat.

The next thing I recalled was smiling up at some Imperial guards on patrol. Apparently it is not legal for Khajiits to cross the border without having a caravan license. Minor detail my father overlooked. Nor is it legal anywhere in Skyrim to pass out while under the influence and not know how you got there. So they put me into a wagon filled with other prisoners until some General saw me.

“Get that thing out of my cart! Stendarr’s Mercy, I’m not running a sideshow here!” The General’s horse paced nervously as the officer glared at his men. “Take him to the regular location.”

LadyMara
Shrine to Mara – where will she send our hero?

Dar’Raksadarg’s adventure continues…