Part 5 - Cavern of the Incarnate

The problem was that Vivec was weakening further. Archcannon Tarvus quickly reached the same conclusion I had, that Chodala was using Sotha Sil's "tool" - the staff he called Sunna'rah - to steal Vivec's energy. Presumably it powered the staff, and it was that effect that Chodala wanted, rather than any harm to Vivec, but it was hard to tell.

We went to consult Vivec himself, who felt it strange that an Ashlander was involved. He'd had no problems with them before. He nevertheless sent me to discover more about Chodala.

This was what I'd expected, and the prospect of dealing with Seryn again was a pleasant thought. I rather liked women who could take care of themselves, and she'd shown me that in her confronttion with the Red Exiles.

Since this was no longer my first trip to Ald'ruhn, I now had the option of taking the wayshrine to get there. However, there were a few things I needed to do before travelling, which included some upgrades to my equipment. So I found my self approaching the wayshrine on the land side of Vivec City, rather than the one near the temple. And just beyond that was a stable.

Perhaps because I'd helped her before, I had no problem persuading Seryn to help. In fact it was she who approached me as I returned to Ald'ruhn. She'd been thinking about her brother's ambitions, and needed to head him off before he could do anything rash. She asked me to talk to the Wise Woman of the Urshilaku. I agreed, but found Chodala in her hut, and the Wise Woman gone.

Apparently she'd left for the Cavern of the Incarnate to ask Azura for advice about Chodala's claim to be the Nerevarine. Chodala, who I noticed was holding a staff I assumed to be Sunna'rah, was convinced she'd return with confirmation.

When he left, Seryn told me to go after Wise Woman Dovrosi, and talk to her, try and persuade her to find against Chodala. She'd remain behind and try to rally the tribes.

The Cavern of the Incarnate was a long way away, up in the northern part of the island, where I'd never been (and apparently wouldn't in the distant future). So I didn't know any wayshrines in that area. The best option was actually to go back to Balmora, where I had found the wayshrine, and I could take a Silt Strider to Gnisis, which would get me half-way there, at least.

I didn't ask what a Silt Strider was, and perhaps I should have. I wasn't really prepared for the experience of riding a giant insect, and watching the way it was steered left me feeling a bit unsettled.

Gnisis didn't feel familiar at all. It probably changed a lot, or else this was my first visit. A bit of familiarity would have helped a lot, as it was a maze of bridges and canyons that I found it hard to navigate. However, I eventually found myself on the road to the Urshilaku camp near the shore. From there, I'd been informed, I could just follow the coastal trail to the Valley of the Wind, and the Cavern was at the end of that.

Red Mountain had erupted in this direction not long ago, and much of the trail was across barren lava flows, some of which were still warm. Indeed, I saw several pools of still-molten lava. There were abandoned settlements in a few places, and others that appeared to have been deserted, and then re-established, as there were makeshift buildings among older ruins.

There were Dwemer and Daedric ruins here, too, but I avoided those on this trip. If I passed a wayshrine, I could always come back. Except that there didn't seem to be one, until just at the end of the Valley of the Wind itself. From there it wasn't far to the Cavern.

I found the Wise Woman had only just arrived there herself, and had been ambushed by Daedra at the entrance. The Skaafin weren't particularly strong, but they were a nuisance. I sent her inside while I dealt with them.

Once inside, I found Dovrosi already in conversation with Azura, via her statue. "The outlander? Surely there's another way. No, my lady, I'll do as you ask."

"The Queen of the Night Sky insists I need your help. I must render judgement on an important claim, and she says you can offer guidance."

"This is about Choldala, and his not being the Nerevarine, right?" I surmised.

"The Red Exiles and a few others believe that Choldala is the Nerevarine. He has convinced them, but not me. However, I fear bloodshed if I find against him."

"So we need strong evidence against his claim, that you can't ignore." I suggested.

"Right. I need to remain impartial. Another needs to reveal the flaws in his claim, so I can reasonably deny it. Perhaps comparing him to the failed incarnates here would do it."

She gave me a bag of dust that would raise their spirits, so that I could talk to them. They each had a tale of believing themselves the one, and each had failed in a different way. Ranso had been the most powerful Ashkhan of his day, but power was not enough. Adusi had chosen a path of war, but it was the wrong path, and Danaat had ignored the council of the Wise Women, only to find they were right, and he was wrong. Each gave me a scroll to call on their testimony at the coming judgement.

Cavern of the Incarnate

Azura's statue then spoke to me, although she could have done so directly. I think she wanted Dovrosi to hear what she said.

"I foresaw your usefulness before you even set foot in Vvardenfell. Now comes a test that will challenge your ability to separate truth from lies. You must convince the tribes that Chodala is not the Nerevarine."

I agreed to do so, of course, and she continued. "Let Seryn asist you. She is my champion, and a trusted friend of all Ashlanders."

That part was almost certainly meant for Dovrosi's ears.

The Wise Woman and I walked back to the wayshrine at the end of the valley, stopping several times along the way so that she could collect alchemical ingredients. Many of them were unknown to me, being plants that probably grew only on Vvardenfell. "You should get Seryn to teach you the plants," Dovrosi told me. "You'll be spending more time with her, and probably going to other areas of the island, where the plants are different. The Ashland ones are different from the Grazeland ones, for instance."

"Seryn is an alchemist?" I asked.

"Not specifically, but she does make all her own potions and poisons. She's often journeying alone, and it helps to be self-sufficient.

"And that reminds me, you should get yourself a guar, even if it's only to carry your extra equipment. They can use the wayshrines, if they're with you, so you don't have to choose between methods of transport."

"A guar, rather than a horse?"

"They're better suited to this place. A horse would probably starve in the Ashlands. It would have your problem of not knowing the plants, and which were edible, and which were poisonous. A guar can forage for itself, so it's much less bother. Take Seryn with you when you buy one, so you don't get fleeced."