Light Armor Forging

There are two classes of light armor, metallic and non-metallic. Elven and Glass are metallic light armor. You may be surprised to think that Glass can be thought of as metallic, but appearances are deceiving. What we call Glass is nothing like the windows panes you see in houses. The greenish material is far stronger and has a much higher melting point.

Non-metallic armors are Hide, Studded, Leather, and Scaled. For these armor types, the forger is as much tailor as blacksmith. All use large pieces of leather, stitched together with leather strips.

Studded armor also need iron ingots, from which you will make the studs and metal rings that make it more effective than simple hide. Scaled armor uses steel instead of iron, but the steel is infused with Corundum to make the metal inserts stronger.

For centuries the secret of making Elven armor was a closely guarded secret on Summerset Isle. Then the Betrayal of Ulvul Llaren brought it the rest of Tamriel. Ulvul was a Dark Elf slave, working the bellows for Nuulion, master smith of the isle from the fifth through the seventh century of the second era. When Ulvul escaped, he could think of no greater punishment to mete out to his cruel master than to reveal all his secrets to the world. Thus we came to know that Moonstone is the key ingredient in Elven armor, and that salt water must be used to quench the hot metal.

For Gilded Elven armor, you must also meld in Quicksilver. It melts at a much lower heat than Moonstone, making it tricky to work the two metals together.

The trickiest of all is Glass. Hammer blows struck across the grain run the risk of shattering the armor. It’s principle ingredient is Malachite, although it also requires Moonstone to give it the right strength.

Legend of Krately House

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

THEOPHON Imperial man, 24, thief
NIRIM – Bosmer man, 20, thief
SILANUS KRATELY – Imperial man, 51, merchant
DOMINITIA KRATELY – His wife, 40
AELVA KRATELY – Their daughter, 16
MINISTES KRATELY – Their son, 11

Setting: The famous haunted Krately House in Cheydinhal, first and second floors, requiring a stage with a second story where most of the action takes place.

The stage is dark.

There is a CREAKING noise, footsteps on the stairs, the sound of a man breathing, but still we see nothing.

Then, a voice calls from above.

AELVA (off stage): Hello? Is someone down there?

MINESTES (off stage): Should I wake up Papa?

AELVA (off stage): No… Maybe I was imagining it…

A light from a lantern can be seen coming from the upstairs, and the slim form of a beautiful young girl, AELVA, descends the staircase at stage right, nervously.

From the light of the lantern, we can see that we are looking at the second floor of a dusty old house, with a set of stairs going up and another one going down on stage right. An unlit stone fireplace sits at stage left. A table, a locked chest, and a wardrobe complete the furnishings.

MINESTES (off stage): Aelva, what are you doing?

AELVA: I’m just making certain… Go back to bed, Minestes.

As the girl passes the table, we see a Bosmer NIRIM slide gracefully up from behind and around her field of sight, carefully avoiding the pool of light. She doesn’t appear to see him as he creeps closer to her, his footsteps silent on the hard wooden floor.

When he is almost on her, there is a sudden CRASH from down below. This causes the Bosmer to leap away, hiding again behind the table.

The girl does not seem to notice the sound, and Nirim, peeking out from behind the table, watches her.

MINESTES (off stage): Found anything?

AELVA: No. Probably just my imagination, but I’m just going to check downstairs.

MINESTES (off stage): Is there a fire? I’m cold…

Aelva looks towards the long dead fireplace, and so does Nirim.

AELVA: Of course there is. Can’t you hear it crackling?

MINESTES (off stage): I guess so…

Aelva suddenly jumps as if she heard something which we do not. She turns her attention down the stairs to the first floor.

AELVA: Hello?

Aelva, lantern ahead of her, begins the descent. She does not seem to notice as an Imperial, THEOPHON, carrying a big bag of loot and a lantern of his own, calmly walks up right past her.

THEOPHON: Excuse me, young lady. Just robbing you.

Aelva continues her slow, nervous walk downstairs, which we can now see thanks to her light. She looks around the low-ceilinged, thoroughly looted room as the action continues upstairs

Theophon’s lantern provides the dim light for the second floor.

THEOPHON: Why are you hiding, Nirim? I told you. They can’t see you, and they can’t hear you.

Nirim sheepishly steps out from behind the table.

NIRIM: I can’t believe they’re all ghosts. They seem so alive.

THEOPHON: That’s what spooks them superstitians. But they ain’t going to hurt us. Just reliving the past, the way ghosts do.

NIRIM: The night they was murdered.

THEOPHON: Stop thinking about that or you’ll get yourself all willy spooked. I got all kinds of stuff on the first floor – silver candlesticks, silk, even some gold… What’d you get?

Nirim holds up his empty bag.

NIRIM: Sorry, Theophon, I was just about to start…

THEOPHON: Get to work on that chest then. That’s what you’re here for.

NIRIM: Oh yeah. I got the talent, you got the ideas… and the equipment. You refilled that lantern before we came here, right? I can’t work in the dark…

THEOPHON: Don’t worry, Nirim. I promise. No surprises.

Nirim jumps when a young boy, MINESTES, appears on the stairs. The lad creeps down quietly and goes to the fire. He acts as if he’s stoking a fire, feeding it wood, poking at the embers, though there is no wood, no poker, no fire.:

THEOPHON: We got all the time in the world, friend. No one comes near this house. If they sees our lantern light, they’ll just assume it’s the ghosts.

Nirim begins picking the lock on a chest of drawers, while Theophon opens a wardrobe and begins going through the contents, which are mostly rotten cloth.

Nirim is distracted, looking at the young boy.

NIRIM: Hey, Theophon, how long ago did they die?

THEOPHON: About five years ago. Why you asking?

NIRIM: Just making conversation.

As they talk, Aelva, downstairs, finally having searched the small room, acts as if she’s locking the front door.

THEOPHON: Didn’t I already tell you the story?

NIRIM: No, you just said, hey, I know a place we can burgle where no one’s at home, except for the ghosts. I thought you was joking.

THEOPHON: No joking, partner. Five years ago, the Kratelys lived here. Nice people. You seen the daughter Aelva and the boy Minestes. The parents were Silenus and Dominitia, if I remembers rightly.

Nirim successfully unlocks the chest and begins rummaging through it. While he does so, Ministes gets up from the ‘fire,’ apparently warmed up, and stands at the top of the stairs down.

MINISTES: Hey!

The boy’s voice causes Nirim, Theophon, and Aelva to all jump.

AELVA: Why aren’t you in bed? I’m just going to check the cellar.

MINISTES: I’ll wait for you.

NIRIM: So, what happened?

THEOPHON: Oh, they was rip to piece. Halfway eaten. No one ever knew who or what did it neither. Though there was rumors…

Aelva opens the door to the cellar, and goes in. The light disappears from the first floor. Ministes patiently waits at the top of the stairs, humming a little song to himself.

NIRIM: What kind of rumors?

Theophon, having exhausted the possibilities in the wardrobe, helps Nirim sort through the gold in the chest.

THEOPHON: Pretty good haul, eh? Oh, the rumors. Well, they says old lady Dominitia was a witch before she married Silenus. Gave it all up for him, to be a good wife and mother. But the witches didn’t take too kindly to it. They found her and sent some kind of creature here, late at night. Something horrible, right out of a nightmare.

MINISTES: Aelva? Aelva, what’s taking you so long?

NIRIM: Ye Gods, are we going to watch them get killed, right in front of us?

MINISTES: Aelva!

SILENUS (off stage): What’s happening down there? Stop playing around, boy, and go to sleep.

MINISTES: Papa!

Ministes, frightened, runs to the stairs up. Along the way, he bumps into Nirim, who falls down. The boy does not seem to notice but continues on up to the dark third floor sleeping porch, off-stage.

THEOPHON: Are you all right?

Nirim jumps to his feet, white-faced.

NIRIM: Never mind that! He touched me?! How can a ghost touch me?!

THEOPHON: Well… Of course they can. Some anyhow. You heard of ancestor spirits guarding tombs, and that ghost of the king they had in Daggerfall. If they don’t touch you, what good are they ? Why you so surprised? You thought he’d move right through you, I figger.

NIRIM: Yes!

SILENUS, the man of the house, comes down the stairs, cautiously.

DOMINITIA (off stage): Don’t leave us alone, Silenus! We’re coming with you!

SILENUS: Wait, it’s dark. Let me get some light.

Silenus goes to the cold fireplace, sticks his hand forward, and suddenly in his arm, there’s a lit, burning torch. Nirim scrambles back, horrified.

NIRIM: I felt that! I felt the heat of the fire!

SILENUS: Come on down. It’s all right.

Ministes leads his mother DOMINITIA down the stairs where they join Silenus.

THEOPHON: I don’t know why you so scared, Nirim. I must say I’m disappointed. I didn’t figger you for a supersitionalist.

Theophon goes for the stairs up.

NIRIM: Where are you going?

THEOPHON: One more floor to search.

NIRIM: Can’t we just go?

Nirim watches as the family of three, following Silenus and his torch, walk down towards the first floor.

SILENUS: Aelva? Say something, Aelva.

THEOPHON: There, you see? If you don’t like ghosts, third floor’s the place to be. All four of em are downstairs now.

Theophon goes upstairs, off-stage, but Nirim stands at the top of the stairs, looking down at the family. The three look around the first floor as Aelva did, finally turning towards the cellar door.

NIRIM: All… four?

Silenus opens the cellar door.

SILENUS: Aelva? What are you doing down in the cellar, girl?

DOMINITIA: You see her?

NIRIM: All four, Theophon?

SILENUS: I think so… I see someone… Hello?

NIRIM: What if there’s five ghosts, Theophon?!

Silenus thrusts his torch in through the cellar door, and it is suddenly extinguished. The first floor falls into darkness.

Ministes, Dominitia, and Silenus SCREAM, but we cannot see what is happening to them.

Nirim is nearly hysterical, screaming along with them. Theophon runs downstairs from the third floor.

THEOPHON: What is it?!

NIRIM: What if there is five ghosts?! The man, the wife, the girl, the boy… and what killed them?!

THEOPHON: And what killed them?

NIRIM: And what if it’s a ghost that can touch us too?! Just like the others!

From the darkened first floor, there is a CREAK of a door opening, though we cannot see it. And then, there is a heavy, clawed footfall. One step at a time, coming towards the stairs.

THEOPHON: Don’t get so upset. If it can touch us, what’d make you think it’d wants to? All the others didn’t even notice we was here.

Theophon’s lantern dims slightly. He adjusts it carefully.

NIRIM: Only… only what if it ain’t a ghost, Theophon. What if it’s the same creature, and it’s still alive… and it ain’t ate nothing since five years ago…

The footsteps begin the slow, heavy stomp up the stairs, though whatever it is, we cannot see it. Nirim notices the light beginning to dim from the lantern despite Theophon frantically trying to fix it.

NIRIM: You said you refilled the lamp!

The light goes out entirely, and the stage is filled with darkness.

NIRIM: You promised me you refilled the lamp!

More footsteps and a horrible, horrible HOWL. The men SCREAM.

The curtain falls.

Last Scabbard of Akrash

For several warm summer days in the year 3E 407, a young, pretty Dunmer woman in a veil regularly visited one of the master armorers in the city of Tear. The locals decided that she was young and pretty by her figure and her poise, though no one ever saw her face. She and the armorer would retire to the back of his shop, and he would close down his business and dismiss his apprentices for a few hours. Then, at mid-afternoon, she would leave, only to return at precisely the same time the next day. As gossip goes, it was fairly meager stuff, though what the old man was doing with such a well dressed and attractively proportioned woman was the source of several crude jokes. After several weeks, the visits stopped, and life returned to normal in the slums of Tear.

It was not until a month or two after the visits had stopped, that in one of the many taverns in the neighborhood, a young local tailor, having imbibed too much sauce, asked the armorer, “So whatever happened to your lady friend? You break her heart?”

The armorer, well aware of the rumors, simply replied, “She is a proper young lady of quality. There was nothing between her and the likes of me.”

“What was she doing at your shop every day for?” asked the tavern wench, who had been dying to get the subject open.

“If you must know,” said the armorer. “I was teaching her the craft.”

“You’re putting us on,” laughed the tailor.

“No, the young lady had a particular fascination with my particular kind of artistry,” the armorer said, with a hint of pride before getting lost in the reverie. “I taught her how to mend swords specifically, from all kinds of nicks and breaks, hairline fissures, cracked pommels, quillons, and grips. When she first started, she had no idea how to secure the grips to the tang of the blade… Well, of course she was green to start off with, why wouldn’t she be? But she weren’t afraid to get her hands dirty. I taught her how to patch the little inlaid silver and gold filigree you find on really fine blades, and how to polish it all to a mirror sheen so the sword looks like the gods just pulled it from their celestial anvil.”

The tavern wench and the tailor laughed out loud. No matter what he alleged, the armorer was speaking of the young lady’s training as another man speaks of a long lost love.

More of the locals in the tavern would have listened to the armorer’s pathetic tale, but more important gossip had taken precedence. There was another murdered slave-trader found in the center of town, gutted from fore to aft. That made six of them total in barely a fortnight. Some called the killer “The Liberator,” but that sort of anti-slavery zeal was rare among the common folk. They preferred calling him “The Lopper,” as several of the earlier victims had been completely beheaded. Others had been simply perforated, sliced, or gutted, but “The Lopper” still kept his original sobriquet.

While the enthusiastic hooligans made bets about the condition of the next slave-trader’s corpse, several dozen of the surviving members of that trade were meeting at the manor house of Serjo Dres Minegaur. Minegaur was a minor houseman of House Dres, but a major member of the slave-trading fraternity. Perhaps his best years were behind him, but his associates still counted on him for wisdom.

“We need to take what we know of this Lopper and search accordingly,” said Minegaur, seated in front of his opulent hearth. “We know he has an unreasonable hatred of slavery and slave-traders. We know he is skilled with a blade. We know he has the stealth and finesse to execute our most well-secured brethren in their most secure abodes. It sounds to me to be an adventurer, an Outlander. Surely no citizen of Morrowind would strike at us like this.”

The slave-traders nodded in agreement. An Outlander seemed most likely for their troubles. It was always true.

“Were I fifty years younger, I would take down my blade Akrash from the hearth,” Minegaur made an expansive gesture to the shimmering weapon. “And join you in seeking out this terror. Search him out where adventurers meet — taverns and guildhalls. Then show him a little lopping of my own.”

The slave-traders laughed politely.

“You wouldn’t let us borrow your blade for the execution, I suppose, would you, Serjo?” asked Soron Jeles, a young toadying slaver enthusiastically.

“It would be an excellent use for Akrash,” sighed Minegaur. “But I vowed to retire her when I retired.”

Minegaur called for his daughter Peliah to bring the slavers more flin, but they waved the girl away. It was to be a night for hunting the Lopper, not drinking away their troubles. Minegaur heartily approved of their devotion, particular as expensive as the liquor was getting to be.

When the last of the slavers had left, the old man kissed his daughter on the head, took one last admiring look at Akrash, and toddled off to his bed. No sooner had he done so then Peliah had the blade off the mantle, and was flying with it across the field behind the manor house. She knew Kazagh had been waiting for her for hours in the stables.

He sprung out at her from the shadows, and wrapping his strong, furry arms around her, kissed her long and sweet. Holding him as long as she dared to, she finally broke away and handed him the blade. He tested its edge.

“The finest Khajiiti swordsmith couldn’t hone an edge this keen,” he said, looking at his beloved with pride. “And I know I nicked it up good last night.”

“That you did,” said Peliah. “You must have cut through an iron cuirass.”

“The slavers are taking precautions now,” he replied. “What did they say during their meeting?”

“They think it’s an Outlander adventurer,” she laughed. “It didn’t occur to any of them that a Khajiiti slave would possess the skill to commit all these ‘loppings.’”

“And your father doesn’t suspect that it’s his dear Akrash that is striking into the heart of oppression?”

“Why would he, when every day he finds it fresh as the day before? Now I must go before anyone notices I’m gone. My nurse sometimes comes in to ask me some detail about the wedding, as if I had any choice in the matter at all.”

“I promise you,” said Kazagh very seriously. “You will not be forced into any marriage to cement your family’s slave-dealing dynasty. The last scabbard Akrash will be sheathed into will be your father’s heart. And when you are an orphan, you can free the slaves, move to a more enlightened province, and marry who you like.”

“I wonder who that will be,” Peliah teased, and raced out of the stables.

Just before dawn, Peliah awoke and crept out to the garden, where she found Akrash hidden in the bittergreen vines. The edge was still relatively keen, but there were scratches vertically across the blade’s surface. Another beheading, she thought, as she took pumice stone and patiently rubbed out the marks, finally polishing it with a solution of salt and vinegar. It was up on the mantle in pristine condition when her father came into the sitting room for his breakfast.

When the news came that Kemillith Torom, Peliah’s husband-to-be, had been found outside of a canton, his head on a spike some feet away, she did not have to pretend to grieve. Her father knew she did not want to marry him.

“It is a shame,” he said. “The lad was a good slaver. But there are plenty of other young men who would appreciate an alliance with our family. What about young Soron Jeles?”

Two days nights later, Soron Jeles was visited by the Lopper. The struggle did not take long, but Soron had had armed himself with one small defense—a needle dipped in the ichor of poisonplant, hidden up his sleeve. After the mortal blow, he collapsed forward and stuck Kazagh in the calf with the pin. By the time he made it back to the Minegaur manorhouse, he was dying.

Vision blurring, he climbed up to the eaves of the house to Peliah’s window and rapped. Peliah did not answer immediately, as she was in a deep, wonderful sleep, dreaming about her future with her Khajiiti lover. He rapped louder, which woke up not only Peliah, but also her father in the next room.

“Kazagh!” she cried, opening up the window. The next person in the bedroom was Minegaur himself.

As he saw it, this slave, his property, was about to lop off the head of his daughter, his property, with his sword, his property. Suddenly, with the energy of a young man, Minegaur rushed at the dying Khajiit, knocking the sword out of his hand. Before Peliah could stop him, her father had thrust the blade into her lover’s heart.

The excitement over, the old man dropped the sword and turned to the door to call the Guard. As an after thought, it occurred to him to make certain that his daughter hadn’t been injured and might require a Healer. Minegaur turned to her. For a moment, he felt simply disoriented, feeling the force of the blow, but not the blade itself. Then he saw the blood and then felt the pain. Before he fully realized that his daughter had stabbed him with Akrash, he was dead. The blade, at last, found its scabbard.

A week later, after the official investigations, the slave was buried in an unmarked grave in the manor field, and Serjo Dres Minegaur found his resting place in a modest corner of the family’s opulent mausoleum. A larger crowd of curious onlookers came to view the funeral of the noble slaver whose secret life was as the savage Lopper of his competitors. The audience was respectfully quiet, though there was not a person there not imagining the final moments of the man’s life. Attacking his own daughter in his madness, luckily defended by the loyal, hapless slave, before turning the blade on himself.

Among the viewers was an old armorer who saw for one last time the veiled young lady before she disappeared forever from Tear.

King

Gentle reader, you will not understand a word of what follows unless you have read and commited [sic] to memory the first three volumes in this series, Beggar, Thief, and Warrior, which leads up to this, the conclusion. I encourage you to seek them out at your favorite bookseller.

We last left Eslaf Erol fleeing for his life, which was a common enough occurrance [sic] for him. He had stolen a lot of gold, and one particularly large gem, from a rich man in Jallenheim named Suoibud. The thief fled north, spending the gold wildly, as thieves generally do, for all sorts of illicit pleasures, which would no doubt disturb the gentleman or lady reading this, so I will not go into detail.

The one thing he held onto was the gem.

He didn’t keep it because of any particular attachment, but because he did not know anyone rich enough to buy it from him. And so he found himself in the ironic situation of being penniless and having in his possession a gem worth millions.

“Will you give me a room, some bread, and a flagon of beer in exchange for this?” he asked a tavernkeep in the little village of Kravenswold, which was so far north, it was half situated on the Sea of Ghosts.

The tavernkeep looked at it suspiciously.

“It’s just crystal,” Eslaf said quickly. “But isn’t it pretty?”

Let me see that,’ said a young armor-clad woman at the end of the bar. Without waiting permission, she picked up the gem, studied it, and smiled not very sweetly at Eslaf. ‘Would you join me at my table?

“I’m actually in a bit of a hurry,” replied Eslaf, holding out his hand for the stone. ‘Another time?’

‘Out of respect for my friend, the tavernkeep here, my men and I leave our weapons behind when we come in here,’ the woman said casually, not handing the gem back, but picking up a broom that was sitting against the bar. ‘I can assure you, however, that I can use this quite effectively as a blunt instrument. Not a weapon, of course, but an instrument to stun, medicinally crush a bone or two, and then – once it is on the inside …’

‘Which table?’ asked Eslaf quickly.

The young woman led him to a large table in the back of the tavern where ten of the biggest Nord brutes Eslaf had ever seen were sitting. They looked at him with polite disinterest, as if he were a strange insect, worth briefly studying before crushing.

‘My name is Laicifitra,’ she said, and Eslaf blinked. That was the name Suoibud had uttered before Eslaf had made his escape. ‘And these are my lieutenants. I am the commander of a very large independent army of noble knights. The very best in Skyrim. Most recently we were given a job to attack a vineyard in The Aalto to force its owner, a man named Laernu, to sell to our employer, a man named Suoibud. Our payment was to be a gem of surpassing size and quality, quite famous and unmistakable.”

“We did as we were asked, and when we went to Suoibud to collect our fee, he told us he was unable to pay, due to a recent burglary. In the end, though, he saw things our way, and paid us an amount of gold almost equal to the worth of the prize jewel … It did not empty out his treasury entirely, but it meant he was unable to buy the land in the Aalto after all. So we were not paid enough, Suoibud has taken a heavy financial blow, and Laernu’s prize crop of Jazbay has been temporarily destroyed for naught,” Laicifitra took a long, slow drink of her mead before continuing. “Now, I wonder, could you tell me, how came you in the possession of the gem we were promised?”

Eslaf did not answer at once. Instead, he took a piece of bread from the plate of the savage bearded barbarian on his left and ate it.

‘I’m sorry,’ he said, his mouth full. ‘May I? Of course, I couldn’t stop you from taking the gem even if I wanted to, and as a matter of fact, I don’t mind at all. It’s also useless to deny how it came into my possession. I stole it from your employer. I certainly didn’t mean you or your noble knights any harm by it, but I can understand why the word of a thief is not suitable for one such as yourself.’

‘No,’ replied Laicifitra, frowning, but her eyes showing amusement. ‘Not suitable at all.’

‘But before you kill me,’ Eslaf said, grabbing another piece of bread. ‘Tell me, how suitable is it for noble knights such as yourself to be paid twice for one job? I have no honor myself, but I would have thought that since Suoibud took a profit loss to pay you, and now you have the gem, your handsome profit is not entirely honorable.’

Laicifitra picked up the broom and looked at Eslaf. Then she laughed, ‘What is your name, thief?’

‘Eslaf,’ said the thief.

‘We will take the gem, as it was promised to us. But you are right. We should not be paid twice for the same job. So,’ said the warrior woman, putting down the broomstick. ‘You are our new employer. What would you have your own army do for you?”

Many people could find quite a few good uses for their own army, but Eslaf was not among them. He searched his brain, and finally it was decided that it was a debt to be paid later. For all her brutality, Laicifitra was an simple woman, raised, he learned, by the very army she commanded. Fighting and honor were the only things she knew.

When Eslaf left Kravenswold, he had an army at his beck and call, but not a coin to his name. He knew he would have to steal something soon.

As he wandered the woods, scrounging for food, he was beset with a strange feeling of familiarity. These were the very woods he had been in as a child, also starving, also scrounging. When he came out on the road, he found that he had come back on the kingdom where he had been raised by the dear, stupid, shy maid Drusba.

He was in Erolgard.

It had fallen even deeper into despair since his youth. The shops that had refused him food were boarded up, abandoned. The only people left were hollow, hopeless figures, so ravaged by taxation, despotism, and barbaric raids that they were too weak to flee. Eslaf realized how lucky he was to have gotten out in his youth.

There was, however, a castle and a king. Eslaf immediately made plans to raid the treasury. As usual, he watched the place carefully, taking note of the security and the habits of the guards. This took some time. In the end, he realized there was no security and no guards.

He walked in the front door, and down the empty corridors to the treasury. It was full of precisely nothing, except one man. He was Eslaf’s age, but looked much older.

‘There’s nothing to steal,’ he said. ‘Would that there was.’

King Ynohp, though prematurely aged, had the same white blond hair and blue eyes like broken glass that Eslaf had. In fact, he resembled Suoibud and Laicifitra as well. And though Eslaf had never met the ruined landlord of the Aalto, Laernu, he looked [sic] him too. Not surprisingly, since they were quintuplets.

‘So, you have nothing?’ asked Eslaf, gently.

‘Nothing except my poor kingdom, curse it,’ the King grumbled. ‘Before I came to the throne, it was powerful and rich, but I inherited none of that, only the title. For my entire life, I’ve had responsibility thrust on my shoulders, but never had the means to handle it properly. I look over the desolation which is my birthright, and I hate it. If it were possible to steal a kingdom, I would not lift a finger to stop you.”

It was, it turned out, quite possible to steal a kingdom. Eslaf became known as Ynohp, a deception easily done given their physical similarities. The real Ynohp, taking the name of Ylekilnu, happily left his demesne, becoming eventually a simple worker in the vineyards of The Aalto. For the first time free of responsibility, he fell into his new life with gusto, the years melting off him.

The new Ynohp called in his favor with Laicifitra, using her army to restore peace to the kingdom of Erolgard. Now that it was safe, business and commerce began to return to the land, and Eslaf reduced the tyrannical taxes to encourage it to grow. Upon hearing that, Suoibud, ever nervous about losing his money, elected to return to the land of his birth. When he died years later, out of greed, he had refused to name someone an heir, so the kingdom received its entire fortune.

Eslaf used part of the gold to buy the vineyards of The Aalto, after hearing great things of it from Ynohp.

And so it was that Erolgard was returned to its previous prosperity by the fifth born child of King Ytluaf – Eslaf Erol, beggar, thief, warrior (of sorts), and king.

Jornibret’s Last Dance

Women’s Verse 1:

Every winter season
Except for the reason
Of one war or another
(Really quite a bother),
The Queen of Rimmen and her consort
Request their vassals come and cavort.
On each and every ball,
The first man at the hall
Is Lord Ogin Jornibret of Gaer
The Curse of all the Maidens Fair.

Women’s Refrain:

Oh, dear ladies, beware.
Dearest, dearest ladies, take care.
Though he’s a very handsome man,
If you dare to take his handsome hand,
The nastly little spell will be cast
And your first dance with him will be the last.

Men’s Verse I:

At this social event
Everyone who went
knew the bowes and stances
And steps to all the dances.
The Queen of Rimmen and her consort
Would order a trumpet’s wild report,
And there could be no indecision.
As he revelers took position.
The First dance only ladies, separate
Away from such men as Lord Jornibret.

Men’s Refrain:

Oh, dear fellows, explain.
Brothers, can you help make it plain:
The man’s been doing this for years,
Leaving maidens fair in tears
Before the final tune’s been blast.
And her first dance with him will be the last.

Women’s Verse II:

Lord Ogin Jornibret of Gaer
Watched the ladies dance on air
The loveliest in the realm.
A fellow in a [sic] ursine-hide helm
Said, “The Queen of Rimmen and her consort
Have put together quite a sport.
Which lady fair do you prefer?”
Lord Jornibret pointed, “Her.
See that bosom, bob and weave.
Well-suited for me to love and leave.”

Women’s Refrain:

Men’s Verse II:

The man in the mask of a bear
had left the Lord of Gaer
Before the ladies’ dance was ending.
Then a trumpet sounded, portending
That the Queen of Rimmen and her consort
Called for the men to come to court.
Disdainful, passing over all the rest,
Ogin approached she of bobbing breast.
She was rejected, saved a life of woe,
For a new maiden as fair as snow.

Men’s Refrain:

Women’s Verse III:

At the first note of the band,
The beauty took Ogin’s hand.
She complimented his stately carriage
Dancing to the tune about the marriage
Of the Queen of Rimmen and her consort.
It is very difficult indeed to comport
With grace, neither falling nor flailing,
Wearing ornate hide and leather mailing
Dancing light as the sweetest of dreams
Without a single squeak of the seams.

Women’s Refrain:

Men’s Verse III:

The rhythms rose and fell
No one dancing could excel
With masculine grace and syncopation,
Lord Jornibret even drew admiration
From the Queen of Rimmen and her consort.
Like a beauteous vessel pulling into port,
He silently slid, belying the leather’s weight.
She whispered girlishly, “The hour is late,
But I’ve never seen such grace in hide armor.”
It ’twas a pity he knew he had to harm her.

Men’s Refrain:

Women’s Verse IV:

The tune beat was furious
He began to be curious
Where had the maiden been sequest’ed.
“Before this dance was requested
By the consort and his Queen of Rimmen
I didn’t see you dance with the women.”
“My dress was torn as I came to the dance,”
She said smiling in a voice deep as a man’s,
“My maids worked quickly to repair,
While I wore a suit of hide, a helm of a bear.”

Women’s Refrain:

Incident in Necrom

“The situation simply is this,” said Phlaxith, his face as chiseled and resolute as any statue. “Everyone knows that the cemetery west of the city is haunted by some malevolent beings, and has been for many years now. The people have come to accept it. They bury their dead by daylight, and are away before Masser and Secunda have risen and the evil comes forth. The only victims to fall prey to the devils within are the very stupid and the outsiders.”

“It sounds like a natural solution to filtering out the undesirables then,” laughed Nitrah, a tall, middle-aged woman with cold eyes and thin lips. “Where is the gold in saving them?”

“From the Temple. They’re re-opening a new monastery near the cemetery, and they need the land cleansed of evil. They’re offering a fortune, so I accepted the assignment with the caveat that I could assemble my own team to split the reward. That’s why I’ve sought you each out. From what I’ve heard, you, Nitrah, are the best bladesman in Morrowind.” Nitrah smiled her unpleasant best.

“And you, Osmic, are a renowned burglar, though never once imprisoned.” The bald-pated young man stammered as if to refute the charges, before grinning back, “I’ll get you in where you need to go. But then it’s up to you to do what you need to do. I’m no combatter.”

“Anything Nitrah and I can’t handle, I’m sure Massitha will prove her mettle,” Phlaxith said, turning to the fourth member of the party. “She comes on very good references as a sorceress of great power and skill.”
Massitha was the picture of innocence, round-faced and wide-eyed. Nitrah and Osmic looked at her uncertainly, particularly watching her fearful expressions as Phlaxith described the nature of the creatures haunting the cemetery. It was obvious she had never faced any adversary other than man and mer before. If she survived, they thought to themselves, it would be very surprising.

As the foursome trudged toward the graveyard at dusk, they took the opportunity to quiz their new teammate.
“Vampires are filthy creatures,” said Nitrah. “Disease-ridden, you know. They say off to the west, they’ll indiscriminately pass on their curse together with a number of other afflictions. They don’t do that here so much, but still you don’t want to leave their wounds untreated. I take it you know something of the spells of Restoration if one of us gets bit?”

“I know a little, but I’m no Healer,” said Massitha meekly. “More of a Battlemage?” asked Osmic. “I can do a little damage if I’m really close, but I’m not very good at that either. I’m more of an illusionist, technically.”

Nitrah and Osmic looked at one another with naked concern as they reached the gates of the graveyard. There were moving shadows, stray specters among the wrack and ruins, crumbled paths stacked on top of crumbled paths. It wasn’t a maze of a place; it could have been any dilapidated graveyard but even without looking at the tombstones, it did have one very noticeable feature. Filling the horizon was the mausoleum of a minor Cyrodilic official from the 2nd Era, slightly exotic but still harmonizing with the Dunmer graves in a complimentary style called decay.

“It’s a surprisingly useful School,” whispered Massitha defensively. “You see, it’s all concerned with magicka’s ability to alter the perception of objects without changing their physical compositions. Removing sensual data, for example, to cast darkness or remove sound or smell from the air. It can help by–”

A red-haired vampire woman leapt out of the shadows in front of them, knocking Phlaxith on his back. Nitrah quickly unsheathed her sword, but Massitha was faster. With a wave of her hand, the creature stopped, frozen, her jaws scant inches from Phlaxith’s throat. Phlaxith pulled out his own blade and finished her off. “That’s illusion?” asked Osmic. “Certainly,” smiled Massitha. “Nothing changed in the vampire’s form, except its ability to move. Like I said, it’s a very useful School.”

The four climbed up over the paths to the front gateway to the crypt. Osmic snapped the lock and disassembled the poison trap. The sorceress cast a wave of light down the dust-choked corridors, banishing the shadows and drawing the inhabitants out. Almost immediately they were set on by a pair of vampires, howling and screaming in a frenzy of bloodlust.

The battle was joined, so no sooner were the first two vampires felled than their reinforcements attacked. They were mighty warriors of uncanny strength and endurance, but Massitha’s paralysis spell and the weaponry of Phlaxith and Nitrah clove through their ranks. Even Osmic aided the battle.

“They’re crazy,” gasped Massitha when the fight finally ended and she could catch her breath. “Quarra, the most savage of the vampire bloodlines,” said Phlaxith. “We have to find and exterminate each and every one.” Delving into the crypts, the group hounded out more of the creatures. Though they varied in appearance, each seemed to rely on their strength and claws for attacking, and subtlety did not seem to be the style of any. When the entire mausoleum had been searched and every creature within destroyed, the four finally made their way to the surface. It was only an hour until sunrise.

There was no frenzied scream or howl. Nothing rushed forward towards them. The final attack when it happened was so unlike the others that the questors were taken utterly by surprise. The ancient creature waited until the four were almost out of the cemetery, talking amiably, making plans for spending their share of the reward. He judged carefully who would be the greatest threat, and then launched himself at the sorceress. Had Phlaxith not turned his attention back from the gate, she would have been ripped to shreds before she had a chance to scream.

The vampire knocked Massitha across a stone, its claws raking across her back, but stopped its assault in order to block a blow from Phlaxith’s sword. It accomplished this maneuver in its own brutal way, by tearing the warrior’s arm from its socket. Osmic and Nitrah set on it, but they found themselves in a losing battle. Only when Massitha had pulled herself back up from behind the pile of rocks, weak and bleeding, that the fight turned. She cast a magickal ball of flame at the creature, which so enraged it that it turned back to her. Nitrah saw her opening and took it, beheading the vampire with a stroke of her sword. “So you do know some spells of destruction, like you said,” said Nitrah. “And a few spells of healing too,” she said weakly. “But I can’t save Phlaxith.”

The warrior died in the bloodied dust before them. The three were quiet as they traveled across the dawn-lit countryside back toward Necrom. Massitha felt the throb of pain on her back intensify as they walked and then a gradual numbness like ice spread through her body. “I need to go to a healer and see if I’ve been diseased,” she said as they reached the city. “Meet us at the Moth and Fire tomorrow morning,” said Nitrah. “We’ll go to the Temple and get our reward and split it there.”

Three hours later, Osmic and Nitrah sat in their room at the tavern, happily counting and recounting the gold marks. Split three ways, it was a very comfortable sum. “What if the healers can’t do anything for Massitha?” smiled Osmic dreamily. “Some diseases can be insidious.”

“Did you hear something in the hall?” asked Nitrah quickly, but when she looked, there was no one there. She returned, shutting the door behind her. “I’m sure Massitha will survive if she went straight to the healer. But we could leave tonight with the gold.”

“Let’s have one last drink to our poor sorceress,” said Osmic, leading Nitrah out of the room toward the stairs down.

Nitrah laughed. “Those spells of illusion won’t help her track us down, as useful as she keeps saying they are. Paralysis, light, silence — not so good when you don’t know where to look.” They closed the door behind them.
“Invisibility is another spell of illusion,” said Massitha’s disembodied voice. The gold on the table rose in the air and vanished from sight as she slipped it into her purse. The door again opened and closed, and all was silent until Osmic and Nitrah returned a few minutes later.

Ice and Chitin

The tale dates to the year 855 of the Second Era, after General Talos had taken the name Tiber Septim and begun his conquest of Tamriel. One of his commanding officers, Beatia of Ylliolos, had been surprised in an ambush while returning from a meeting with the Emperor. She and her personal guard of five soldiers barely escaped, and were separated from their army. They fled across the desolate, sleet-painted rocky cliffs by foot. The attack had been so sudden, they had not even the time to don armor or get to their horses.

“If we can get to the Gorvigh Ridge,” hollered Lieutenant Ascutus, gesturing toward a peak off in the mist, his voice barely discernible over the wind. “We can meet the legion you stationed in Porhnak.”

Beatia looked across the craggy landscape, through the windswept hoary trees, and shook her head: “Not that way. We’ll be struck down before we make it halfway to the mountain. You can see their horses’ breath through the trees.”

She directed her guard toward a ruined old keep on the frozen isthmus of Nerone, across the bay from Gorvigh Ridge. Jutting out on a promontory of rock, it was like many other abandoned castles in northern Skyrim, remnants of Reman Cyrodiil’s protective shield against the continent of Akavir. As they reached their destination and made a fire, they could hear the army of the warchiefs of Danstrar behind them, making camp on the land southwest, blocking the only escape but the sea. The soldiers assessed the stock of the keep while Beatia looked out to the fog-veiled water through the casements of the ruin.

She threw a stone, watching it skip across the ice trailing puffs of mist before it disappeared with a splash into a crack in the surface.

“No food or weaponry to be found, commander,” Lieutenant Ascutus reported. “There’s a pile of armor in storage, but it’s definitely taken on the elements over the years. I don’t know if it’s salvageable at all.”

“We won’t last long here,” Beatia replied. “The Nords know that we’ll be vulnerable when night falls, and this old rock won’t hold them off. If there’s anything in the keep we can use, find it. We have to make it across the ice floe to the Ridge.”

After a few minutes of searching and matching pieces, the guards presented two very grimy, scuffed and cracked suits of chitin armor. Even the least proud of the adventurers and pirates who had looted the castle over the years had thought the shells of chitin beneath their notice. The soldiers did not dare to clean them: the dust looked to be the only adhesive holding them together.

“They won’t offer us much protection, just slow us down,” grimaced Ascutus. “If we run across the ice as soon as it gets dark –”

“Anyone who can plan and execute an ambush like the warchiefs of Danstrar will be expecting that. We need to move quickly, now, before they’re any closer.” Beatia drew a map of the bay in the dust, and then a semicircular path across the water, an arc stretching from the castle to the Gorvigh Ridge. “The men should go the long way across the bay like so. The ice is thick there a ways from the shoreline, and there are a lot of rocks for cover.”

“You’re not staying behind to hold the castle!”

“Of course not,” Beatia shook her head and drew a straight line from the castle to the closest shore across the Bay. “I’ll take one of the chitin suits, and try to cross the water here. If you don’t see or hear me when you’ve made it to land, don’t wait — just get to Porhnak.”

Lieutenant Ascutus tried to dissuade his commander, but he knew that she was would never order one of her men to perform the suicidal act of diversion, that all would die before they reached Gorvigh Ridge if the warlords’ army was not distracted. He could find only one way to honor his duty to protect his commanding officer. It was not easy convincing Commander Beatia that he should accompany her, but at last, she relented.

The sun hung low but still cast a diffused glow, illuminating the snow with a ghostly light, when the five men and one woman slipped through the boulders beneath the castle to the water’s frozen edge. Beatia and Ascutus moved carefully and precisely, painfully aware of each dull crunch of chitin against stone. At their commander’s signal, the four unarmored men dashed towards the north across the ice.

When her men had reached the first fragment of cover, a spiral of stone jutting a few yards from the base of the promontory, Beatia turned to listen for the sound of the army above. Nothing but silence. They were still unseen. Ascutus nodded, his eyes through the helm showing no fear. The commander and her lieutenant stepped onto the ice and began to run.

When Beatia had surveyed the bay from the castle ramparts, the crossing closest to shore had seemed like a vast, featureless plane of white. Now that she was down on the ice, it was even more flat and stark: the sheet of mist rose only up to their ankles, but it billowed up at their approach like the hand of nature itself was pointing out their presence to their enemies. They were utterly exposed. It came almost as a relief when Beatia heard one of the warchief’s scouts whistle a signal to his masters.

They didn’t have to turn around to see if the army was coming. The sound of galloping hoofs and the crash of trees giving way was very clear over the whistling wind.

Beatia wished she could risk a glance to the north to see if her men were hidden from view, but she didn’t dare. She could hear Ascutus running to her right, keeping pace, breathing hard. He was used to wearing heavier armor, but the chitin joints were so brittle and tight from years of disuse, it was all he could do to bend them.

The rocky shore to the Ridge still looked at eternity away when Beatia felt and heard the first volley of arrows. Most struck the ice at their feet with sharp cracking sounds, but a few nearly found home, ricocheting off their backs. She silently offered a prayer of thanks to whatever anonymous shellsmith, now long dead, had crafted the armor. They continued to run, as the first rain of arrows was quickly followed by a second and a third.

“Thanks, Stendarr,” Ascutus gasped. “If there was only leather in the keep, we’d be pierced through and through. Now if only it weren’t… so rigid…”

Beatia felt her own armor joints begin to set, her knees and hips finding more and more resistance with every step. There could be no denying it: they were drawing closer toward the shore, but they were running much more slowly. She heard the first dreadful galloping crunch of the army charging across the floe toward them. The riders were cautious on the slippery ice, not driving their horses at full speed, but Beatia knew that they would be upon the two of them soon.

The old chitin armor could withstand the bite of a few arrows, but not the lance driven with the force of a galloping horse. The only great unknown was time.

The thunder of beating hooves was deafening behind them when Ascutus and Beatia reached the edge of the shore. The giant, jagged stones that strung around the beach blockaded the approach. Beneath their feet, the ice sighed and crackled. They could not stand still, run forward, nor run back. Straining against the tired metal in the armor joints, they took two bounds forward and flew at the boulders.

The first landing on the ice sounded an explosive crack. When they rose for the final jump, it was on a wave of water so cold it felt like fire through the thin armor. Ascutus’s right hand found purchase in a deep fissure. Beatia gripped with both hands, but her boulder was slick with frost. Faces pressed to the stone, they could not turn to face the army behind them.

But they heard the ice splintering, and the soldiers cry out in terror for just an instant. Then there was no sound but the whining of the wind and the purring lap of the water. A moment later, there were footsteps on the cliff above.

The four guardsmen had crossed the bay. There were two to pull Beatia up from the face of the boulder, and another two for Ascutus. They strained and swore at the weight, but finally they had their commander and her lieutenant safely on the edge of Gorvigh Ridge.

“By Mara, that’s heavy for light armor.”

“Yes,” smiled Beatia wearily, looking back over the empty broken ice flow, the cracks radiating from the parallel paths she and Ascutus had run. “But sometimes that’s good.”

The Horror of Castle Xyr

Dramatis Personae

Clavides, Captain of the Imperial Guard. Cyrodilic.
Anara, a Dunmer maid.
Ullis, a Lieutenant of the Imperial Guard. Argonian.
Zollassa, a young Argonian mage

Act I

Late evening. The play opens in the interior Great Entrance Hall of a castle in Scath Anud, replete with fine furnishings and tapestries. Torches provide the only illumination. In the center of the foyer is a great iron door, the main entrance to the castle. The staircase up to the landing above is next to this door. On stage left is the door to the library, which is currently closed. On stage right is a huge suit of armor, twenty feet tall, nearly touching the ceiling of the room. Though no one can be seen, there is the sound of a woman singing coming from the library door.
A loud thumping knock on the iron front door stops the woman’s singing. The door to the library opens and ANARA, a common-looking maid, comes out and hurries to open the front door. CLAVIDES, a handsome man in Imperial garb stands there.

ANARA: Good evening to you, serjo.

CLAVIDES: Good evening. Is your master at home?

ANARA: No, serjo, it’s only me here. My master Sedura Kena Telvanni Hordalf Xyr is at his winter estate. Is there something I can do for you?

CLAVIDES: Possibly. Would you mind if I came in?

ANARA: Not at all, serjo. Please. May I offer you some flin?

Clavides comes into the Hall and looks around.

CLAVIDES: No thank you. What’s your name?

ANARA: Anara, serjo.

CLAVIDES: Anara, when did your master leave Scath Anud?

ANARA: More than a fortnight ago. That’s why it’s only me in the castle, serjo. All the other servants and slaves who tend to his lordship travel with him. Is there something wrong?

CLAVIDES: Yes, there is. Do you know an ashlander by the name of Sul-Kharifa?

ANARA: No, serjo. I don’t know no one by that name.

CLAVIDES: Then you aren’t likely to now. He’s dead. He was found a few hours ago dying of frostbite in the ashlands. He was hysterical, nearly incomprehensible, but among his last words were “castle” and “Xyr.”

ANARA: Dying of frostbite in summertide in the ashlands? B’vek, that’s strange. I suppose it’s possible that my master knew this man, but being an ashlander and my master being of the House of Telvanni, well, if you’ll pardon me for being flippant, serjo, I don’t think they coulda been friends.

CLAVIDES: That is your master’s library? Would you mind if I looked in?

ANARA: Please, serjo, go wherever you want. We got nothing to hide. We’re loyal Imperial subjects.

CLAVIDES: As, I hear, are all Telvanni.

(Note from the playwright: this line should be delivered without sarcasm. Trust the audience to laugh — it never fails, regardless of the politics of the locals.)
Clavides enters the library and looks over the books.

CLAVIDES: The library needs dusting.

ANARA: Yes, serjo. I was just doing that when you knocked at the door.

CLAVIDES: I’m grateful for that. If you had finished, I wouldn’t notice the space in the dust where a rather large book has recently been removed. Your master is a wizard, it seems.

ANARA: No, serjo. I mean, he studies a lot, but he don’t cast no spells, if that’s what you mean by wizard. He’s a kena, went to college and everything. You know, now that I think about it, I know what happened to that book. One of the other kenas from the college been round yesterday, and borrowed a couple of books. He’s a friend of the master, so I thought it’d be all fine.

CLAVIDES: This kena, was his name Warvim?

ANARA: Coulda been. I don’t remember.

CLAVIDES: There is a suspected necromancer at the college named Kena Warvim we arrested last night. We don’t know what he was doing at the college, but it was something illegal, that’s for certain. Was that the kena who borrowed the book? A little fellow, a cripple with a withered leg?

ANARA: No, serjo, it weren’t the kena from yesterday. He was a big fella who could walk, so I noticed.

CLAVIDES: I’m going to have a look around the rest of the house, if you don’t mind.

Clavides goes up the stairs, and delivers the following dialogue from the landing and the rooms above. Anara continues straightening up the downstairs, moving a high-backed bench in front of the armor to scrub the floor.

ANARA: Can I ask, serjo, what you’re looking for? Maybe I could help you.

CLAVIDES: Are these all the rooms in the castle? No secret passages?

ANARA (laughing): Oh, serjo, what would Sedura Kena Telvanni Hordalf Xyr want with secret passages?

CLAVIDES (looking at the armor): Your master is a big man.

ANARA (laughing): Oh, serjo, don’t tease. That’s giant armor, just for decoration. My master slew that giant ten years ago, and kind of keeps it for a souvenir.

CLAVIDES: That’s right, I remember hearing something about that when I first took my post here. It was someone named Xyr who killed the giant, but I didn’t think the first name was Hordalf. Memory fades I’m afraid. What was the giant’s name?

ANARA: I’m afraid I don’t remember, serjo.

CLAVIDES: I do. It was Torfang. “I got out of Torfang’s Shield.”

ANARA: I don’t understand, serjo. Torfang’s shield?

Clavides runs down the stairs, and examines the armor.

CLAVIDES: Sul-Kharifa said something about getting out of Torfang’s shield. I thought he was just raving, out of his mind.

ANARA: But he ain’t got a shield, serjo.

Clavides pushes the high-backed bench out of the way, revealing the large mounted shield at the base of the armor.

CLAVIDES: Yes, he does. You covered it up with that bench.

ANARA: I didn’t do it on purpose, serjo! I was just cleaning! I see that armor ever day, serjo, and b’vek I swear I ain’t never noticed the shield before!

CLAVIDES: It’s fine, Anara, I believe you.

Clavides pushes on the shield and it pulls back to reveal a tunnel down.

CLAVIDES: It appears that Sedura Kena Telvanni Hordalf Xyr does have a need for a secret passage. Could you get me a torch?

ANARA: B’vek, I ain’t never seen that before!

Anara takes a torch from the wall, and hands it to Clavides. Clavides enters the tunnel.

CLAVIDES: Wait here.

Anara watches Clavides disappear down the tunnel. She appears agitated, and finally runs for the front door. When she opens it, ULLIS, an Argonian lieutenant in the Imperial guard is standing at the entrance. She screams.

ULLIS: I’m sorry to frighten you.

ANARA: Not now! Go away!

ULLIS: I’m afraid the Captain wouldn’t like that, miss.

ANARA: You’re … with the Captain? Blessed mother.

Clavides comes out of the tunnel, white-faced. It takes him a few moments to speak.

ULLIS: Captain? What’s down there?

CLAVIDES (to Anara): Did you know your master’s a necromancer? That your cellar is filled with bodies?

Anara faints. Ullis carries her to the bench and lays her down.

ULLIS: Let me see, serjo.

CLAVIDES: You’ll see soon enough. We’re going to need every soldier from the post here to cart away all the corpses. Ullis, I’ve seen enough battles, but I’ve never seen anything like this. No two are alike. Khajiiti, sload, dunmer, cyrodiil, breton, nord, burned alive, poisoned, electrified, melted, torn apart, turned inside out, ripped to shreds and sewn back up together.

ULLIS: You think the ashlander escaped, that’s what happened?

CLAVIDES: I don’t know. Why would someone do something like this, Ullis?

There is a knock on the door. Clavides answers it. A young Argonian woman, ZOLLASSA, is standing, holding a package and a letter.

ZOLLASSA: Good morning, you’re not Lord Xyr, are you?

CLAVIDES: No. What do you have there?

ZOLLASSA: A letter and a package I’m supposed to deliver to him. Will he be back shortly?

CLAVIDES: I don’t believe so. Who gave you the package to deliver?

ZOLLASSA: My teacher at the college, Kema Warvim. He has a bad leg, so he asked me to bring these to his lordship. Actually, to tell you the truth, I was supposed to deliver them last night, but I was busy.

ULLIS: Greetings, sistre. We’ll give the package to his lordship when we see him.

ZOLLASSA: Ah, hail, brothre. I had heard there was a handsome Argonian in Scath Anud. Unfortunately, I promised Kema Warvim that I’d deliver the package directly to his lordship’s hands. I’m already late, I can’t just —

CLAVIDES: We’re Imperial Guard, miss. We will take the package and the letter.

Zollassa reluctantly hands Clavides the letter and the package. She turns to go.

ULLIS: You’re at the college, if we need to see you?

ZOLLASSA: Yes. Fare tidings, brothre.

ULLIS: Goodnight, sistre.

Clavides opens the package as Zollassa exits. It is a book with many loose sheets.

CLAVIDES: It appears we’ve found the missing book. Delivered to our very hands.

Clavides begins to read the book, silently to himself.

ULLIS (to himself, very pleased): Another Argonian in Scath Anud. And a pretty one, at that. I hope we weren’t too rude to her. I’m tired of all these women with their smooth, wet skin, it would be wonderful if we could meet when I’m off duty.

While Ullis talks, he opens the letter and reads it.

ULLIS (continued): She looks like she’s from the south, like me. You know, Argonians from northern Black Marsh are… much… less…

Ullis continues reading, transfixed by the letter. Clavides skips to the back of the book, and reads the last sentences.

CLAVIDES (reading): In black ink “The Khajiiti male showed surprisingly little fortitude to a simple lightning spell, but I’ve had interesting physiological results with a medium-level acid spell cast slowly over several days.” In red ink on the margins, “Yes, I see. Was the acid spell cast uniformly over the entire body of the subject?” In black ink “The Nord female was subjected to sixteen hours of a frost spell which eventually crystallized her into a state of suspended animation, from which she eventually expired. Not so the Nord male, nor the Ashlander male who lapsed into their comas much earlier, but then recovered. The Ashlander then tried to escape, but I restrained him. The Nord then had an interesting chemical overreaction to a simple fire spell and expired. See the accompanying illustration.” In red ink, “Yes, I see. The pattern of boils and lesions suggest some sort of internal incineration perhaps caused by the combination of a short burst of flame following a longer session with frost. It’s such a shame I can’t come to see the experiment personally, but I compliment you on your excellent notation.” In black ink, “Thank you for the suggestion about slowly poisoning my maid Anara. The dosages you’ve suggested have had fascinating results, eroding her memory very subtly. I intend to increase it exponentially and see how long it is before she notices. Speaking of which, it is a pity that I haven’t any Argonian subjects, but the slave-traders promise me some healthy specimens in the autumn. I should like to test their metabolism in comparison to elves and humans. It’s my theory that a medium-level lightning spell cast in a continuous wave on an Argonian wouldn’t be lethal for several hours at least, similar to my results with the Cyrodilic female and, of course, the giant.” In red ink, “It’d be a shame to wait until autumn to see.”

ULLIS (reading the letter): In red ink, “Here is your Argonian. Please let me know the results.” It’s signed “Kema Warvim.”

CLAVIDES: By Kynareth, this isn’t necromancy. It’s Destruction. Kema Warvim and Kena Telvanni Hordalf Xyr haven’t been experimenting with death, but with the limits of magical torture.

ULLIS: The letter isn’t addressed to Kena Telvanni Hordalf Xyr. It’s addressed to Sedura Iachilla Xyr. His wife, do you think?

CLAVIDES: Iachilla. That was the Telvanni of the Xyr family who I heard about in connection with the giant slaying. We’d best get the maid out of here. She’ll need to go to a healer.

Clavides wakes up Anara. She appears disoriented.

ANARA: What’s happening? Who are you?

CLAVIDES: Don’t worry, everything is going to be fine. We’re going to take you to a healer.

ULLIS: Do you need a coat, Iachilla?

ANARA: Thank you, no, I’m not cold —

Anara/Iachilla stops, realizing that she’s been caught. Clavides and Ullis unsheathe their blades.

CLAVIDES: You have black ink on your fingers, your ladyship.

ULLIS: And when you saw me at the door, you thought I was the Argonian your friend Warvim sent over. That’s why you said, “Not now. Go away.”

ANARA/IACHILLA: You’re much more observant than Anara. She never did understand what was happening, even when I tripled the poison spell and she expired in what I observed as considerable agony.

ULLIS: What were you going to use on me first, lightning or fire?

ANANA/IACHILLA: Lightning. I find fire to be too unpredictable.

As she speaks, the flames in the torches extinguish. The stage is utterly dark.
There is the sound of a struggle, swords clanging. Suddenly a bolt of lightning flashes out, and there is silence. From the darkness, Anana/Iachilla speaks.

ANANA/IACHILLA: Fascinating.

There are several more flashes of lightning as the curtain closes.
‘THE END.’

Herbalist’s Guide to Skyrim

Those avoiding this northern province due to claims of barbarism or concerns over climate are doing themselves a disservice; in fact Skyrim has a wealth of materials that every Alchemist would do well to avail himself of. I have traveled extensively throughout this land, and here are but a few of my findings.

Bleeding Crown

The caps of these mushrooms do indeed appear smeared with blood, though it is often hard to see in the dark, damp places in which they grow. Not uncommonly found in Skyrim, their abundance is countered by the difficulty in acquiring them. As any experienced herbalist knows, the darkest of caves often conceal far more than mere mushrooms.

Nonetheless, these potent fungi, when combined with certain powdered antlers, produce a mixture rendering one quite susceptible to poison. Their usefulness is also quite apparent when mixed with lavender, creating a substance highly resistant to magic.

Deathbell

Folklore abounds about this flower found in the swamps of Hjaalmarch. Some stories claim it grows where unfortunate deaths have taken place, others insist it grows first and then lures unsuspecting people and animals to their doom. I have found no direct evidence to support these stories; indeed I found the flowers difficult to locate at all. While it is most well known for its use in poisons, it would be remiss to overlook that the blooms of the deathbell are very effective in mixtures for boosting one [sic] Alchemy skill.

Dragonfly

A surprising number of insects survive in Skyrim’s climate, many thriving in the lower, southern areas of the province. Dragonflies can be found in a great many places, and while catching them can be a daunting prospect, the reward is well worth the effort. It was beyond the scope of my research to determine whether the orange and blue dragonflies are fully different breeds or merely simple color variations, but through experimentation, I found that the orange dragonfly, when combined with the very hardy barnacles found along the coast, transfer some of their flighty nature, giving the herbalist some very nimble fingers.

Hagraven Claw

The claws of a hagraven are best obtained in shops; it is inadvisable to suggest one collects them oneself. These creatures have traded in their humanity for access to powerful magics, and the transformations they undergo infuse their entire beings with some element of that power. Ingesting the powdered claws makes one more resistant to magic, but an especially curious property of the claws is revealed when mixed with snowberries (often found in Skyrim’s higher elevations). I found myself capable of comprehending enchantments I had believed mystifying after ingesting the mixture, and have passed the knowledge on to several court wizards who were grateful for the knowledge.

Jazbay

There was a time when it would be considered treason to pick one of these grapes without express permission from the Emperor himself. It is my understanding that although growers in Skyrim were successful in improving the fruit’s survivability, it came at the cost of flavor. No longer is it quite the prize it once was. And yet, growing amidst the volcanic tundra of Eastmarch, it is still immensely useful for concocting potions. Mages value it highly as it can be combined with simple garlic to enhance the regeneration of magicka. While no longer against the law, picking these grapes in large amounts is best kept to oneself.

Luna Moth Wing

As with the dragonflies, I was taken aback by the number of butterflies, moths, and other insects that manage to thrive in Skyrim. The Luna moth is especially beautiful; its thin, almost ephemeral wings seem too delicate to hoist anything into the air, giving them an almost magical appearance. Indeed, that sense extends to the properties they exhibit when crushed and distilled (an action I admit was difficult to perform at first, no matter my resolve to discover all that Skyrim has to offer. These creatures are simply that beautiful!) While they can be used for creating poisons that damage magicka, I feel that would be a waste of their potential. Do not be alarmed if, when the wings are broken down almost completely, they appear to almost disappear under your mortar. That very quality makes the wings quite effective in potions of invisibility!

Tundra Cotton

Not all Nords are savages wrapped in animal skins, howling at the moon. There are a wide variety of fabrics worn throughout the land, thanks in no small part to the stubborn Tundra Cotton plant. It soaks up what rain it can in the plains west of Whiterun, and blooms frequently. When it does not exhibit any of the more striking alchemical properties, it is a staple in potions for not only fortifying magicka, but for resisting spells as well. I wonder what quality is what allows it to have adapted so well to this climate.

Nightshade

The name and shape of this plant are known to all; long understood to be one of the more potent components in many poisons, the average Nord keeps his distance from the bright purple flowers nestled among dark leaves. It is exceedingly effective as a pure poison, but can also be combined with other compounds to stiffen joints as well. It is thus favored amongst those who wish to disable their opponents in battle, and can be found coating the blades of many of the more unsavory characters in Skyrim.

Heavy Armor Forging

Heavy armor must be designed to take a lot of punishment. It will receive direct blows from all sorts of weapons while protecting the wearer. Leather strips are used to make the straps and bindings in all armor.

Iron and steel are easy to work. Just heat them up and pound them into shape. The heat of the forge is not that critical. Avoid filing off any of the metal. Always try to conserve the metal and work it back into shape.

Iron armor requires a large number of iron ingots. A smith might need a couple of dozen to complete a full set of iron armor. Steel armor primarily uses steel ingots, but some iron is used as well.

Dwarven armor is made from dwarven metal. The secret of this material was lost when the dwarves disappeared millennia ago. Now it can only be found as scrap in the ruins of their abandoned cities and fortresses.

Orcish armor requires large amounts of Orichalcum, melded with a bit of iron. Heat should be used sparingly, lest it become brittle. The Orcs are masters of this technique, but it can be learned by any smith with patience and skill.

Steel plate mail is made by adding steel to molten Corundum Ore. The alloy is stronger than either metal by itself. Corundum is a finicky material requiring the heat from the forge to be steady and not vary much.

Ebony can only be worked when heated. It will develop small cracks that eventually shatter the material if hammered cold. Unlike most other armors, Ebony will not alloy with iron. It must be used pure.

I can only tell you tales of how to make Daedric armor. I have never seen it myself, nor do I know anyone that has. The stories say that it should always be worked on at night… ideally under a new or full moon, and never during an eclipse. A red harvest moon is best. Ebony is the principal material, but at the right moment a daedra heart must be thrown into the fire.