47 - Apocrypha

No welcoming committee this time, but no clear pathway, either. There's something in the middle of the platform that might do something if I knew how to use it. I reached my hand out to touch it, and a ball, teardrop, or whatever fell into some waiting tentacles, and the thing closed up like a flower at night.

And as it did so, a bridge unrolled out onto the liquid sea that surrounded the platform. As I walked out onto it, a large whip-like tentacle ashed at me, but I'd already passed it and entered a moving corridor at the other end of the bridge. The other end of the corridor swung past a platform like the one I'd left, and I stepped off. In the middle of that platform was another of those scrye things I'd used, so this time it was less of a mystery.

I saw a second bridge unroll, from a nother platform nearby, but the only way to it was to ride the moving corridor again. So I waited until it swung past and took the trip. There was a book on a pedestal, and no way out except back the way I came. I assumed the book would be another portal, so I read it. "Chapter II" was ahead.

Sure enough, I was transported to another location, next to a book that appeared to connect back if I needed to retrace my steps. I glanced at the cover, which read "Chapter I".

The narrow passage led to another of those scryes, and using this one made the corridor ahead unfurl, and roll out flat. It became the floor of a large room, open to the "sky", if you can that greenish-yellow murk a sky. Around the edges, I could see some of the same creatures I'd encountered before. A Lurker, like the ones at the All-Maker Stones, and a couple of the tentacled floating spell-casters that Miraak had used in his ambush.

Since there had been no floor until I released it, they were well-spaced around the outside, so I could deal with them one at a time, if I was quick about it. I rushed at the Lurker, as he looked like the fastest-moving of the group, even if he was also the largest. I'd also had some experience of defeating them, so rather the enemy I knew ...

I didn't quite manage to defeat him before the other two - seekers, I believe they're called - caught up to me. But he fell just as the first spells hit me. I whirled around to face the others, and found that I had only one to fight, and the other was still a way off.

That didn't last long, as my first blow seemed to split the creature in two, and now I had a second opponent to deal with. Hoping this was a one-time thing, I struck again, and to my relief, both creatures fell. Perhaps the second had just been a decoy?

But I still had one more seeker to fight, and I drank my last health potion just as he arrived. That was enough to sustain me for that fight, but now I had none, and I wasn't done yet.

I found fonts of magicka and stamina, but none of health. Still, I knew a healing spell, so I cast it until I was out of magicka, and restored myself at a font. I'd need to look out for more as I progressed.

Another scrye opened the door out, and just down the corridor was another portal book to "Chapter III"

From this point on, it was just more of the same. I didn't encounter more than one of the creatures at a time (unless you count the dividing seekers), and the magicka fonts were encountered often enough to keep me going.

Until, that is, I found the final book that would return me to Solstheim. As I opened that, Hermeaus Mora materialised in front of me.

"You thought to reject me, and yet here you are. Your journey towards enlightenment has finally led you here, to my realm, as I knew it would."

I asked him what he wanted this time.

"You have entered my realm. You have sought out the forbidden knowledge that only one other has obtained. You are Dragonborn, like Miraak before you. A seeker of knowledge and power."

"Yes, I came here to learn what Miraak knows," I replied.

"All that he knows he learned from me. I know what you want: to use you power as Dragonborn to bend the world to your will. Here then is the knowledge you need, although you did not know you needed it. The second Word of Power. Use it to bend the wills of mortals to your purpose. But this is not enough. Miraak knows the final Word of Power. Without that, you cannot hope to surpass him. Miraak served me well, and he was rewarded. I can grant you the same power as he wields, but all knowledge has its price."

Here it comes, I thought. "So what's your price?"

"Knowledge for knowledge. The Skaal have withheld their secrets from me for many long years. The time has come for this knowledge to be added to my library."

What if the Skaal refuse to give up their secrets?"

"My servant Miraak would have found a way to bring me what I want. So will you if you wish to surpass him. Send the Skaal shaman to me. He holds the secrets that will be mine."

Mora faded out, leaving me with the second word of Bend Will, and the book to return to Solstheim, which it turned out would also teach me something new, a power to reinforce one of my shouts. Since I hadn't ever used the ones on offer, I chose Dragonborn Force as the most likely to be useful.

Neloth and the others were waiting. "What happened? What did you see? Different people have very different experiences when reading these books."

I told him that I'd talked to Mora, and learned the second word of Bend Will. And that Mora wanted the "secrets of the Skaal" in return for the third. He'd also told me that I'd need it to be able even to reach Miraak, let alone defeat him.

"Hmph. What secrets could they have worth keeping from old Mora? Sounds like a bargain to me. Hermaeus Mora learns some fascinating new ways to skin a horker and you become the second most powerful Dragonborn that ever lived. Well, that gives me a lot to think about. I need to get back to Tel Mithryn. I have some ideas about how to locate more of these Black Books."

The ambush that hadn't happened in Apocrypha happened as we left Nchardak. A dragon swooped down and blasted us with frost. With a full party of mages, archer, and Dragonborn, the outcome wasn't in any doubt, and soon I was restoring Krosulhah and discovering that Miraak had somehow sent him to attack us. I didn't understand how Miraak, still trapped in Apochrypha, could influence dragons here.

Neloth presumed that he'd done it the same way he commanded the people to work on his shrines and temple. "There must be things here, like the Black Books, that communicate between the realms. Those Standing Stones served that purpose, until you did something to them, that I don't yet fully understand. Didn't you say that there was one still in Miraak's control?"