To Summerset

I started to wonder if my part in this was over, as we'd concluded all Nocturnal needed in Clockwork City, and she now had Veya for anything that would happen in Summerset. I was happy killing time with Seryn in Vivec City, but expecting at any time that Azura would yank me out of there and send me somewhere else. It didn't quite happen that way.

Azura did change our plans, but not in the way I expected. She told me that I needed to go to Summerset, as it wouldn't all be over until Clavicus Vile's scheme had been thoroughly undone, but I could take my time. Why not take Seryn with me, and go on a slow cruise to Summerset? I could board a ship in Mournhold, travel around the coast, stop off at a few interesting places along the way, and arrive before Nocturnal needed me. Seryn could then take the wayshrine home.

Since she was explaining this to both of us, and Seryn liked the idea, it was going to happen.

The war between the Alliances meant that many of the potential stops along the way were blockaded, or at least closed to commercial traffic, but we did get to visit Lilmoth, Kenarthi's Roost, and Vulkhel Guard before we landed at Shimmerene. So now I knew wayshrines in three more provinces, should I ever need to travel there again. I started to wonder if that was part of Azura's plan.

I also suspected that Azura had plans for Seryn. She hadn't ventured off of Vvardenfell before, and the Argonians and Khajiit she'd met were all merchants, not exactly representative of their races' diversity. Altmer seldom visited Morrowind, either, preferring to keep their own company.

I had been referred to as an outsider in Morrowind, but the term didn't seem to include any resentment, just that I wasn't Dunmer, so wouldn't understand the local customs. Here in Summerset, "outsider" was a term of derision, and I was clearly inferior for not being an Altmer. And unwelcome, to boot. They seemed reluctant even to let us off the boat.

We quickly made our way through town to the wayshrine, so that Seryn could return to Vivec City. When a mer ran up to us shouting about the Island springing a leak, and "let the cat take care of them", I decided to investigate, if only as a reason not to head back into Shimmerene. I took my leave of Seryn, and headed in the direction the mer had come from.

Not far up the road, I came upon the Khajiit mentioned, finishing off the last of some hostile creatures I had never seen before. The bodies lying on the road were spiny things that looked like they'd come out of the ocean, and didn't really belong on land at all.

I asked a woman standing nearby what they were, but she didn't know either. "Ask Razum-dar, " she told me, pointing at the Khajiit.

I didn't get the chance to ask, because, after smashing what looked like a large pearl radiating dark magic, he spoke to me first.

"Have you ever seen such creatures? Raz has not. Probably neither have you. You are a newcomer, yes? New to this island of High Elves? This one has an eye for such things. And you look capable. So, can Raz interest you in some cloak-and-dagger work?"

"Cloak-and-dagger work? Sounds ominous," I responded.

"Ominous? No, nothing of the sort. Well, maybe a little of the sort. Depends on how things develop. Raz has come to Summerset at the behest of Queen Ayrenn. To make sure her decree regarding the opening of the island proceeds as she directed."

"So how can I help?"

"Ask some questions. Determine the mood in Shimmerene and see how the newcomers are faring. Rumors have reached the Queen and she is concerned. So Razum-dar comes to see what's happening and fights strange creatures. Now Raz is concerned as well."

"I'll ask some questions around the city," I told him. I'd like to find out more myself, especially if this had anything to do with my being sent here.

"While you ask questions around the city, Raz can take care of some other business. It may or may not involve scratching and clawing. Let's meet near the entrance to Shimmerene when you have something to report."

I started by asking a few of Razum-dar. What was this decree he'd mentioned?

He explained that Queen Ayrenn had lifted the prohibition on foreigners entering the main island, as it hampered her from strengthening the Alliance with the Bosmer and Khajiiti, but many of the more hidebound residents had opposed it. The prohibition was relatively recent, and many had settled here before it came into effect. Of the three people he wanted me to question, only one was an Altmer. The other two were a Redguard and an Argonian.

And I wanted to know why he just decided to trust a complete stranger with this mission.

"But you are not a complete stranger. You are the Champion of Vivec, and the rescuer of Sotha Sil, and Divayth Fyr informs us that Almalexia owes you more than she'd admit. You are known to be in a relationship with Azura's champion, who accompanied you here. And how does this one know it is you? Sotha Sil records his memories, and he shared an image with us when you set off on your trip here. The common folk may not know you, but Raz does."

"Besides, when those creatures attacked, everyone else fled, but you came closer. Raz would have preferred that you arrived a little earlier, but he needed the exercise."

I spoke with the three people Razum-dar had directed me to, or rather two of them. The Argonian was dead, and I found a note in his backpack that provided the same information I got from the live ones. Recent arrivals, "newcomers" as they termed them, non-Altmer from other provinces, were being rounded up and taken to the monastery. When I took this back to Raz we witnessed a further example, with several of the locals complaining to an official about their servants being taken away. At least one of them agreed with his pronouncement that they needed to be "sequestered" until their suitability for Altmer society was determined. "Lock up the newcomers" was a bit of an extreme way to phrase it, in my opinion.

\lang9 Raz and I agreed that we needed to check out the monastery. We split up to approach it from different directions. Raz told me he'd distract the guard, so I could slip inside, and It would be best if I did so from behind the guard's back.

On the way there, a golden-clad knight appeared, from a bright portal, and almost immediately left again, complaining that the portal wasn't working. I don't understand why, but this suggested to me that Meridia was trying to get involved, but was meeting resistance. I'm guessing that thought came from Azura, but she's not confirming it. Nocturnal had mentioned that possibility, and it would mean that Mephala had involved the Sload, whatever they were. The resistance could have been Mephala's doing, but it was also possible that Azura and Nocturnal wanted to keep her involvement in reserve.

Entering the monastery went as planned, and there seemed to be few, if any guards inside. I talked to one monk, who seemed disgruntled by the new Aldarch's methods, but I found nothing of major interest on the ground level. One the floor above, however, I found a large pearl similar to the one Razum-dar had destroyed, but seemingly inert, just sitting on the Aldarch's office desk.

"Unusual knick-knack for an Aldarch's office, wouldn't you agree?"asked a voice behind me. I turned to find an elderly Altmer woman entering the room. She was here looking for a friend who had disappeared, and was about to continue her search in the undercroft. She suggested we do so together.

Immediately on entering the undercroft, we both felt uneasy. "I sense magic, dark magic," she told me. And we both saw the cages. I went to let the one remaining prisoner free, while Valsirenn examined a corpse on the floor. "What's a skaafin doing down here?" she asked.

The obvious answer was that Clavicus Vile was involved, but that was ... obvious, so I said nothing. We continued down the passageways.

It wasn't long before we encountered live skaafin, and some of the same creatures that Razum-dar had been fighting when I met him. It was now apparent that they were being summoned by the same Daedric cultists, so Vile and Mephala had already started to join forces here. There was yet another pearl here in the great hall of the undercroft, and it appeared to be the focus for summoning the sea creatures.

"I'll deal with the pearl, you keep the creatures away while I do that," she decided. Since that was the method I was about to suggest, it's what I did. The cultist that had summoned them had already escaped, so that might mean that reinforcements weren't on the agenda.

When we had time to talk, Valsirenn told me that she was a member of the Psijic Order, and she'd sent the pearl to them for analysis. I told her about Razum-dar and Queen Ayrenn's decree triggering this uprising.

"You'd best inform him about what happened here. I'll catch up with you later," she said. "Living on Arteum for a few centuries doesn't prepare you for physical action, and I need a rest."

Razum-dar had a room at the nearby tavern, and he'd been doing a bit of snooping of his own. None of it had turned up anything like a Daedric cult, and a life-sucking pearl, however. But he'd managed to obtain an invitation to an event at the Kinlady's townhouse, where it was likely that the decree would be discussed. In particular he wanted to know whether the Kinlady had sanctioned the Aldarch's actions, or if he was acting on his own. Since the Kinlady knew Razum-dar, and they did not get along, it fell to me to attend.

Talking to Kinlady Avenisse convinced me that she had taken the Aldarch's story about sequestering the newcomers at face value, and had no idea what was really going on. She did have a slight suspicion about him, as her chancellor had been unable to verify the Aldarch's existence prior to his coming here. "He did have high recommendation from Kinlord Mulinthel, whom I trust," she told me.

As I was about to leave, a servant brought in a note from the Aldarch. "He wants me to meet him at the Coral Forest? That's an odd place for a meeting, but I need to hear him out."

Raz agreed with her assesssment. And confirmed that Tilcalar did not not exist until he arrived here. "and is this your Psijic friend?"

"I'm glad i found you both," Valsirenn said. "I just saw Kinlady Avenisse sneaking out of the city, and came looking for you."

I made the introductions, and we agreed to meet again at the Coral Forest. "We should travel separately, so we don't arouse suspicion, yes?" Raz suggested.