Part 58 - DeathBrand

"There's more to the enchantments on these pieces than the immediately obvious," Vicuņa told them. "Without the other parts, I can't figure it all out, but they were made to work together in some way. If you had the complete set, there's a further enchantment that would come into play. I'm sure Neloth would be fascinated, but you'd have to stop him destroying it all to find out how it works."

"Is that what he'll do with that staff you found?" Diablita asked.

"No, he reveres Azra's work too much to do that. It will take him a lot longer to examine the staff without taking it apart, but that's the way he'll do it."

"So it's possible to learn an enchantment without destroying something?" Brelyna asked, suddenly a lot more interested.

"Yes, sometimes. If it's an enchantment you know nothing about, then you have no choice. But if you take Fiery Soul Trap, for example, the one on Clark's sword, then a Master Enchanter who knows both Fire Damage and Soul Trap could duplicate it. With a bit more skill, you can combine more than just two."

"So the enchantment on my robes could be put on something else? There are a lot of enchantments on those, but they're all familar ones."

"Let me take a look at them," Vicuņa replied. "Once you're doing multiple enchantments, it's more a case of power than number. A lot of small ones isn't much harder than a couple of big ones."

Brelyna showed Vicuņa the Archmages Robes. "This may be a little more than I can manage, but well within Neloth's capabilities. Definitely something we could do working together."

"I can see why you'd want to wear something else, too. What did you want to put the enchantment on?"

"This amulet." Brelyna showed her the one she meant. "I had it made in the unique shape of the College symbol so it would make a good badge of office, and I can wear whatever I like with it."

"Or like Vicuņa's own amulet, you can wear it without anything else." Clark pointed out. Diablita agreed, of course.

"Getting back to the Stahlrim pieces, we know where the others are, as we have a map. One of them is close to Tel Mithryn, so we'll take these with us when we go there. The other is up to the north-west, nearly all the way to Northshore Landing, where we got the map for Baldor."

"I'd suggest that you three go fetch that one, while I take the staff back to Neloth. I'll bring up the subject of the other enchantments while he's in a good mood, and we'll pick up the last piece when you get to Tel Mithryn."

That sounded like a good plan. They weren't expecting any greater Reaver problems at the other locations, so it wouldn't take all four of them. Neloth was a different matter, and Vicuņa probably would do better on her own there.

There weren't any Reavers at Bristleback Mine, but there were Rieklings instead. Clark thought he preferred Reavers, as a ward is less effective against spears. Brelyna was inclined to agree. But at least the lock was cooperative, and they soon had a pair of Stahlrim gauntlets to add to the set.

At Tel Mithryn, the chest was guarded by Ash Spawn. Well, it would have been Reavers there, too, but the Ash Spawn had seen to them by the time they arrived. Clark's ward was better against firebolts than spears, and Diablita's sword cut through most things, anyway.

"Boots, do you think?" Clark asked as he started on the lock.

Vicuņa had paved the way for them well, and Neloth was eager to take a look at the Stahlrim pieces. "Yes, there's an additional enchantment from wearing all of the set," he agreed. "Velith was right about that. But I also get the impression that this isn't all. There should be a shield to go with it, or possibly ..." He paused to think for a moment. "If there isn't a shield, it could have been constructed to use with two weapons, one in each hand. I'd be using two staves, but then I wouldn't be wearing armour. No, I'd imagine the original owner would probably have used a pair of swords."

"Don't kid us, We know you've read the book," Vicuņa interrupted.

"Oh that book. Well, now you point it out, I see the connection. I was just drawing my conclusions from the evidence. Any correlation to others' conclusions should be made afterward, as you well know. If you don't do that, you just repeat their mistakes."

"And this key that was with the boots will probably provide the proof," Clark added. "I imagine it will open Gyldenhul Barrow, and we'll find a fifth chest there."

"Yes, well you'll have to go and find out, won't you? I have no interest in swords, so I can't help you there."

"How abount enchantments?" Vicuņa resumed. "Could we duplicate this one for Brelyna?"

She showed Neloth the Archmages Robes. He raised an eyebrow when he saw them.

"These are the robes of office of the Archmage of Winterhold. How did you get them?"

"Brelyna is the new Archmage. They're her robes."

Brelyna meets Neloth

Neloth noticed Brelyna for the first time. She'd been off to one side, taking to Talvas, while the others were gathered around the Stahlrim armour.

His other eyebrow went up to join the first. He thought she was one of the two most beautiful women he'd seen, if she wasn't both of them. The resemblance was uncanny, although it couldn't be the same one. It had been so long ago. And they'd called her Brelyna. That wasn't the name he remembered.

"Brelyna ... Maryon?" he asked.

She nodded.

"Was Aryana Maryon your mother?"

She nodded again. "I presume you knew her in Morrowind. They tell me I look just like she did when she was my age."

They found a couple of Reavers trying to pick the lock on Gyldenhul Barrow. Naturally they were hostile on sight, but no match for Clark's team. The key Clark had found in the last chest fit the lock, as expected, but all that lay behind it was a small chamber with a pair of Stahlrim-covered coffins at either end. A dead Nord lay near one of them. Apparently he'd starved to death while trying to mine the Stahlrim with an ordinary pickaxe.

"Did you bring your Ancient Nordic pickaxe?" Clark asked Diablita.

"Of course. I expect those swords will be made of Stahlrim, too, and if I gather some extra material, we can see if Baldor Iron-Shaper can temper them."

Diablita hacked at the first coffin for some time before she chipped off all the Stahlrim. It really was a hard material, even in its raw form. The second one took just as long, but...

"There's nothing in this one, and the back's open. We can go through to another passage."

"Let's go," Clark agreed, raising his ward in case anything was waiting for them.

He soon dropped it again, as they emerged into a long room full of ... piles of gold. There were a few other items mixed in, jewels, weapons, armour, but no paired swords.

At the other end of the room was a door, locked with the same key they'd used on the outer door. It led to a tunnel, and Clark raised his ward again, and took the lead. Brelyna cast an armour spell, and followed. Diablita pulled her sword from her back and joined Clark at the front.

They emerged in a large, empty chamber, and Clark could see a skeleton lying near a single sword on an altar. It was a scimitar, and glowed with some kind of enchantment.

"I wish Vicuņa had come with us," Clark said. "She'd be able to tell us more about that enchantment."

"Well she's helping Neloth enchant my amulet, so I'm happy to have her doing that. We'll find out all we need to know when we take it back to Tel Mithryn."