Part 37 - Mzinchaleft

Before he set off for Solstheim, Clark had a few other visits to make. Gilda and Karliah were busy putting the Thieves Guild back together, so he wanted to go to Riften and see how they were getting on. He'd never got round to upgrading Iona's armour, either. It seemed to him wrong to pair Chillrend with plain steel, and she needed something better. It probably wouldn't be long before Riften saw some action, and he didn't want her at a disadvantage.

It turned out that she'd had the same idea herself. She'd been training with Balimund, and could already craft Dwarven equipment. The problem was that the smith didn't have much of a supply of the metal, as most of his customers needed iron and steel.

"You get that from Dwemer ruins," Clark recalled. "But apart from Markarth, at the other end of the province, I don't know where any of them are. We should ask Mjoll, if she doesn't object to being reminded of the subject."

"Oh, I've met her," Iona replied. "She's the one who lost her sword in one of the ruins, isn't she? So she should know the way to that one, at least. Let's go over to the Bee and Barb, and see if she's there. She and Aerin go there most evenings."

Mjoll and Aerin weren't the only familiar faces. "Brelyna, what are you doing in Riften?"

"Looking for a Dwemer ruin," she replied. "I don't expect to find it here in town, but I know it's not too far from here, and someone might know exactly where it is."

"So you're looking for one in particular, not just any Dwemer ruin?"

"Yes, I need to find Mzulft. There's a party of mages from Cyrodiil that I need to talk to, and they were last known to be headed there."

"The local expert on Dwemer ruins is probably Mjoll, and Iona and I came to see her, too. Let me introduce you."

Mjoll didn't remember where Mzulft was. She had been there, but her mind was too full of Mzinchaleft. "I won't be able to think straight until I get Grimsever back, I'm afraid."

"You at least remember where that is, don't you?"

"Not really, but I'm sure Aerin does. That's where he found me, after all."

Aerin was able to mark Mzinchaleft on the map for them. "I do hope you can get Mjoll's sword back."

Brelyna didn't mind the prospect of visiting two Dwemer ruins, as long as one of them was Mzulft. She wouldn't explain why that was important, but "College business" would have to do for now.

"We'll ride in my wagon," Clark decided. "It's a bit slow, but Iona needs to collect as much Dwarven metal as she can, and that stuff is heavy. The wagon can carry all we find, as well as the three of us."

"Three?" Brelyna queried.

"You, me and Iona. Mjoll's not up to going back without Grimsever in her hands. We'll come back here if we find it, and see if that helps her remember about Mzulft."

It took a couple of days to get there, and the welcome they got wasn't exactly friendly. A party of bandits had occupied the buildings above ground, and didn't take kindly to visitors. Fortunately, there weren't many of them, and they had the usual lack of coordination that untrained warriors often exhibit. No more than a couple of them attacked at any time, which meant they were outnumbered in each skirmish.

They also seemed to be particularly intimidated by the Frost Atronachs that Brelyna summoned. They're large, impressive-looking brutes, even if they're slow and don't really do as much damage as you'd think.

"Their size can be a problem in caves," Brelyna admitted. "Although they'll happily fight for you, they also tend to get stuck in the narrow parts, and you can't make them understand that you want to pass. And don't even think about sneaking when one of them is with you!"

They encountered a few more bandits just inside, who weren't expecting them, and were easily picked off as the advancing party met them. They'd apparently dealt with a few of the Dwarven automata in this section of the ruins, as the remains of a couple of Dwarven Spiders were lying around. Iona searched them, but found little to salvage.

The wreck of a Dwarven Sphere a bit further in provided a small plate that could be melted down, and they could hear sounds of fighting from the bottom of the next ramp. Through the gate at the bottom, they could just about make out a couple more of the Spheres fighting some more bandits. They let it play out before opening the gate to finish off the surviving Sphere.

Only one of the Spheres yielded any useful scrap, but there were a couple of pieces of plate in a corner.

Those appeared to be the last of the bandits, and only some more of the automata were roaming the next few corridors. They appeared one at a time, which put them at a major disadvantage against the team.

"I'm surprised we haven't come across any traps yet. The Dwemer seemed to be as fond of those as the Ayleids were in Cyrodiil," Clark remarked.

"Like that?" Iona asked.

"I don't think that's a trap," Brelyna said. "But they were just as fond of puzzles. We're going to have to figure out what order to pull those levers in order to get through."

"I'm betting that the valve in the last chamber will release all the doors, so we don't all have to go together," Clark replied. "Brelyna, follow me. Iona, stay with the first lever, in case we need it pulled again."

"Sounds like a plan," she agreed.

It didn't prove too complicated a puzzle, and Clark's assumption about the valve proved correct. All the remaining gates opened at once, and the path was clear.

In the next room was another lever, operating a lift.