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Saturday, July 30, 2011

XXXV - The Citadel of Dagoth Ur

Fen’s eyes adjusted slowly to the light. She was in a stone chamber, eerily reminiscent of Ilunibi with its draping vines and melted Sixth House candles. At the far end of the chamber, an familiar figure stood silently in the blood-coloured light of the candles.
Welcome, Moon-and-Star, to this place where destiny is made.
Fen walked forward, her eyes narrowed in cold determination. The man looked exactly as he had in her dreams – tall, with a powerful-looking chest and a white cloth tied around his waist, held there by a belt bearing the Sixth House sigil. Sleek, dark hair hung over his shoulders, held in place by thick gold bands. His face, though – that was what she remembered the most.
A golden mask, round and topped by three wide strips as if it were a sunburst. The lips were impassive, the slots for the eyes dark slits with a third in the forehead. The mask had floated in her mind for months, and now it was here, watching her as she stepped forward into the crimson light of the candles.
“It began here. It will end here.” This time, the words came from his mouth, rather than echoing in Fen’s mind. The voice was so eerily familiar that she felt a chill rush down her spine.
“Now that you have come to me here, there can be but one result,” Dagoth Ur said, the golden lips of his mask quite still. “Many times I have considered offering to share this place with you. I considered offering to accept your oath of service. You might try to buy my trust by giving me Wraithguard, Keening, and Sunder. I thought we might once again be friends...comrades...brothers in arms.” Dagoth Ur crossed his arms, the dark slits of his eyes boring into her’s. “But I have won this place and power by right of conquest. By right of daring and enterprise. I will not risk it to cunning and deceit. I offer you no deals. If you are my enemy, I cannot trust you. And even if you are not my enemy, I cannot let you live.
“It will all be decided here. I believe I will prevail. But I cannot be sure, and I am vain enough that, should I fall, I would wish to be remembered in my own words. So, if you have final questions you would ask, ask them now. I have final questions I would ask you, if you would answer.” Fen drew her shoulders back, staring straight into the dark pools behind each eye slit.
“Then ask them.”
“Are you truly Nerevar Reborn?”
“By the grace of the Gods and Fate, I am Nerevar Reborn.”
“That is bitter,” Dagoth Ur replied at once. His tone was hard to read. “The gods and fates are cruel. I served you faithfully once, Lord Nerevar, and you repaid me with death. I hope this time it will be you who pays for your faithlessness.” Fen said nothing, and he continued. “My second question is: if you win, what do you plan to do with the power from the Heart? Will you make yourself a god, and establish a thearchy? Or will you complete Akulakhan, and dispute control of Tamriel with the Septims? Or will you share the Heart with your followers, as I have, and breed a new race of divine immortals?”
“My plans for the Heart are not ones that I would share with you,” she said icily. There was a short silence, the distant throes of moving lava far beneath them. “Perhaps there may be surprises in store for me yet,” Dagoth Ur replied finally. “Or perhaps you obscure your plans on principle. Or perhaps you are an instinctive liar. No matter. My final question is: if I had offered to let you join me, would you have surrendered Wraithguard, Sunder, and Keening to me to seal your oath?” Fen faltered. She thought of her dream, of Voryn Dagoth standing across from her on the grassy cliff, holding out his elegant hand, his eyes kind. She remembered how she had laid her hand in his, how the eye upon his forehead and snapped open and the world seemed to crumble to dust…
There was a way to rebuild Resadayn, and this was not it.
“I would never join you.” Fen could almost sense Dagoth Ur’s smirk beneath his mask.
“Thank you for your forthright response. And now, if you have any questions, ask them.
“What are your plans for the Heart?” she asked at once.
I will continue to draw divine power from the Heart and distribute it to my kin and followers. I will continue to broadcast divine power upon the blight winds, so that it will touch each soul on Vvardenfell, and then more broadly, across the waters to the rest of Morrowind and Tamriel. In time, every mortal in Tamriel shall feel the liberating contact with the divine.”
“And the Sixth House?”
“The Sixth House will serve as the elite cadre of our movement. As cultists evolve through various stages of enlightenment, they will become, as suits their abilities, either holy warriors or priests. Their duty is to prepare themselves for service; their joy and liberation is to enter ever-more-deeply into the profound enlightenment of the divine dreamworld.”
“Then what of us?” Fen asked, opening her arms. “What of the Dunmer that hate and despise you, but hate and despise the Empire equally?”
“I will free the Dunmer from the Imperial yoke, and cast down the false gods of the Temple,” he answered without hesitation. “I will lead them out of their ancient superstitions, and gift them with intimate knowledge of the divine. Then, perhaps, when Morrowind is once again restored to its ancient glories, it will be time to consider whether the Dunmer should cultivate ambitions of Empire.” He paused. “You would have appreciated me in time as well, Nerevarine. I know you would have.”
“Me?” Fen asked darkly, her hands curling into fists. “You have plagued my sleep with dreams since I arrived on this island. You have sent your madmen after me, spread my identity to the public, dispatched creatures to kill me in my sleep, infected me with corprus. You’ve rained the Blight down upon this land, bringing disease and sickness upon all it touches. You have crushed the hopes so many people, infecting their minds and their bodies. And you think I would be appreciative of these crimes?”
“If, by my crimes, you mean the inevitable suffering and destruction caused by war, then I accept the burden of leadership. The Sixth House cannot be restored without war. Enlightenment cannot grow without the risk of upsetting the tradition-bound and complacent herd. And the mongrel armies of the Empire cannot be expelled from Morrowind without bloodshed. As I have charity and compassion, I grieve. But our mission is just and noble.”
“The Dwemer thought their mission was just and noble,” she replied. “And now they are gone from this world forever, because of the temptation of the Heart.”
“I have no idea what happened to the Dwemer,” Dagoth Ur said dismissively. “I have been denied the opportunity to study Wraithguard, and I am not sure how much of Kagrenac’s lore was invested in his tools, and how much in his own sorcery and mastery. I have long studied Kagrenac, and have come to admire his wisdom and craft. Someday, after the campaigns of the Sixth House are secure, I hope to have time to dedicate to this mystery.”
“Then why,” she asked slowly, “are you building Akulakhan? If the Dwemer, the most advanced civilization Mundus has ever seen, brought about their own death by trying, what would you do that is different?”
“Akulakhan will serve three purposes. First, it will be the champion of my armies, liberating first Vvardenfell, then Morrowind, and then, perhaps the rest of Tamriel. Second, it will serve as a sower and cultivator of the divine substance derived from the Heart. Three, it will serve as the prominent banner and symbol of our cause – to defy the Empire, to liberate mortals from ancient superstitions, and to glorify our crusade against the gods.” Dagoth Ur lowered his arms slowly, stepping down from the rock on which he was perched. “So, Moon-and-Star, if you are done asking questions, we should conduct our business. A pity it has to come to this.” Dagoth Ur raised his hands, preparing for a spell, but Fen hit him first, immediately knocking him backwards with a spell of God’s Fire. Her mind was strangely clear. He sprang nimbly to his feet and came toward her, but she was ready with her Mages’ Staff. She swung the staff, hard, into the side of his head, then thrust it into his chest, making him sputter. He fell backwards, only this time he did not rise up. Rather, Dagoth Ur’s body exploded into gold light that enveloped the room for a fraction of a second, then was gone.
For a moment, Fen merely stood in disbelief, feeling her heartbeat pounding in her hands as she clutched her staff. Had she done it? Was Dagoth Ur gone without her even having to approach the Heart?
But no. To her left, there came a sudden loud grating, and an iron shell peeled back to reveal a door that had not been there before. It stopped halfway, leaving the path to the door clear. Fen slowly returned the staff to her back, crossing the cavern to stand before the portal. She reached out, resting one hand on the door. It was carved with an intricate drawing of the Numidium, surrounded by Dwemer text. This had to be the Heart Chamber, the place where the Daedra had hidden Lorkhan’s heart thousands of years ago.
The place where every moment of her life had been taking her.
It was here.


  1. Did you make all of this story yourself? how nice! :D

  2. Well, the plot and some of the dialogue are from the game, but I've written the story of my character around that. I'm glad you're enjoying it!