45 - Miraak's Temple

So Zahra and I headed for Miraak's Temple, leaving Brelyna and Ranyu behind at Tel Mithryn. She was here on Solstheim mainly to visit with Neloth anyway, and Miraak was my business, not hers.

More of the thralls were working on the construction there, too, including a number dressed in thick furs, with an armoured woman trying to get their attention. She was the only one who didn't appear to be under the compulsion to build.

We found out that her name was Frea, and that she was the daughter of the shaman of the Skaal Village, to the north-east. She seemed to know more about Miraak, too, but we didn't get to hear it, as a number of the cultists came up from the lower levels to attack us.

That at least told us where the entrance was. The three of us - Zahra, Frea and myself - went in to see what we could find. Below ground, it looked a lot like the old Nordic ruins that we'd found dragon priests in, back on the mainland. "Expect traps," I told the women.

And traps there were, but the cultists seemed to have as much trouble with them as we did. The draugr we encountered were more of a problem, as they seemed to pop out of their coffins every few yards. Still, Frea with her pair of axes was a welcome addition to the party for dealing with them. Her armour stood up well, too.

There was one point where I had to use my "Become Ethereal" shout, or else dodge several sets of swing blades. The former was a lot quicker, so I did. I just hoped I wouldn't want to use it again right away. These traps were getting tiresome.

We seemed to have passed the point where cultists gave way to draugr, and from here on it was just like the mainland tombs. After finding a word wall, with an attendant guardian, I was expecting the next chamber to have a resident dragon priest.

But instead, it just had a number of regular draugr and skeletons, several of which we were able to lure into the traps. We left the chamber through a doorway at the other end and followed the passageway to a small room with a pedestal, on which was a mysterious black book.

I picked up the book and opened it, not expecting what happened next. I found myself in a strange realm with a greenish-yellow sky and what looked like stacks of books all around. Some strange tentacled creatures were standing, no ... hovering around, and a man in a mask climbed off a dragon and walked over to me. The mask looked similar to a dragon priest's, but somehow different. The lower half looked like tentacles, rather than a chin.

"Who are you to dare set foot here? Ahh... You are Dragonborn. I can feel it. And yet..." he began. "So you have slain Alduin... Well done. I could have slain him myself, back when I walked the earth, but I chose a different path. You have no idea of the true power a Dragonborn can wield!"

He shouted, and was covered in what looked like a suit of armour, but made of light. "This realm is beyond you. You have no power here. And it is only a matter of time before Solstheim is also mine. I already control the minds of its people. Soon they will finish building my temple, and I can return home."

He turned to the tentacled creatures and spoke to them. "Send him back where he came from. He can await my arrival with the rest of Tamriel."

I was struck by magical attacks from all of them, which must have included paralysis, as I could do nothing. I soon found myself blacking out, and regaining consciousness back on Solstheim. Frea and Zahra wanted to know what had just happened. So did I.

Frea told us that we needed to go to her father Storn Crag-Strider at the Skaal Village. He'd know more about this, she hoped.

I knew that I'd just been to another Realm, but it wasn't one I'd ever been in before. The books everywhere - and all the tentacles - suggested Hermaeus Mora, but I'd never heard about dragons in Apochrypha. They didn't seem to fit.

Frea believed that I'd just seen Miraak. That's what she told her father, anyway, and I had no reason to believe otherwise, especially as he'd admitted being the source of the mind control. And I'd figured out that the word wall in the Temple had taught me the first word of that Dragon Aspect he'd demonstrated, so that fit, too.

Storn told me that I'd need to learn more of the shouts that Miraak knew if I was going to defeat him, and the first should be the one from Saering's Watch, a dragon roost on the northern coast. I set off with Zahra, leaving Frea to help defend the village, in case we'd just stirred up more interference from Miraak.

Of course, there was more than just a word wall with a dragon on it. Saering's Watch had its complement of draugr for us to deal with, too. And when I brought down the dragon with Dragonrend and defeated it, Miraak appeared to prevent me from restoring it. He couldn't stop me learning the word of power from the wall, though, and that's what I really needed.

Storn told me that I could use the shout, "Bend Will", to cleanse the Wind Stone outside the village, and free the Skaal who were labouring there against their will. When I did so, a large creature rose up from the pool around the stone and attacked me. The tentacles marked it as another of Mora's minions, but it wasn't one of the floaty spell-casters. This one had a more physical attack.

When I returned with the Skaal to the village, Storn asked me to do the same for the other stones, and marked tham on my map. We already knew where the Sun Stone was, and the Earth Stone was just outside Raven Rock, the Beast Stone near Miraak's Temple, and the Water Stone was on the West coast.

"There is another stone, the Tree Stone, but that is part of Miraak's Temple and won't be freed until Miraak himself is defeated," Storn told me.

Zahra asked him if cleansing the stones, the ones we could, would be enough to lift Miraak's spell on all the people. He thought so, but it might only delay his plans. "At least it will slow him down."

"We should do so right away," Zahra told me. "Then Brelyna won't be stuck at Tel Mithryn."

I didn't feel she was exactly stuck there, but I knew what she meant.

The Beast Stone was nearest, so we went there first, and encountered one of the cultists supervising the work. Since he attacked us immediately, he was already dead when I shouted at the stone. The shout released everyone there, who seemed mostly to be small humanoid creatures that the one Skaal present named as "Rieklings". I hadn't encountered them before.

Another of the tentacled things - a "Lurker", apparently - was guarding this one, too. It got a number of the small guys before I could kill it. The rest ran off before I could talk with them.

The Sun Stone was next, and after we cleansed that, I went to ask Brelyna if the illusion spell had weakened. "A bit," she told me, "but it hasn't stopped completely."

We went back through Raven Rock, and cleansed the Earth Stone there, before heading up the coast towards the Water Stone. This time two of the Lurkers attacked, one emerging from the sea nearby.

Close to the Water Stone, we were attacked by a dragon, and this time Miraak didn't get involved. I used "Slen Tiid Vo" to restore him, and sent him on his way. Perhaps he'd help restore the balance here.

The Water Stone was being worked on by sailors from a ship that was anchored nearby. Another cultist had been acting as overseer, but the dragon had slain him before we reached the Stone. At least something was going our way.