Chapter 18: Chronicle's End
Walking through the halls of the Tower of Dusk, guided by the Buoyant Armiger grand marshal Galdal Omayn, Raedyn lost himself to the events. The moment he spoke his first words at the Ghostgate, his mind was consumed by the moment, and all fears disappeared. The moment had started, and there was nowhere to go but forward.
"We've received a surprising number of volunteers for this mission." Omayn commented. "Honestly, we were expecting far fewer. It was only this morning that we decided which were the best among them."
"Courage and strength is best brought out by necessity." Raedyn explained. Through the Moon-and-Star, he could tell those words stirred something inside Omayn that betrayed his next words.
"That's very true." Studying the images and feelings he got from the elder Dunmer, Raedyn got the feeling he had quoted Nerevar again.
Entering the commons area, Raedyn saw it packed end-to-end with warriors of every race and type. Argonian mages in enchanted robes, Altmer Battlemages, Khajiit swordsmen in heavy armor, knightly Imperials, and every variation in between. Many of them looked edgy, most of them looked at him appraisingly, and all of them looked tough enough to take on a daedroth barehanded. This was exactly what he needed.
"Where's my team?" He asked.
Omayn gave a sharp whistle and pointed toward a table with five sentients at it. The different races quickly stood and lined up. The Armiger grand marshal directed Raedyn to them. "We evaluated each warrior exhaustively, and these are the ones we determined to be the most suited."
Raedyn walked up to the first one, subconsciously keeping his posture perfect and his chin up to give a stronger impression that he was looking down at the warriors. Afterall, he was the shortest of them all. "Identify yourself." He ordered.
This warrior was a red haired Dunmer in glass pauldrons, gauntlets, and boots, while his greaves and cuirass were chitin. His face was ragged and marked with the beginnings of wrinkles despite the fact that he couldn't have been older than a hundred. "Enar Nelas, Buoyant Armiger scout, sir!" He spoke loudly and clearly.
"And why were you picked for this mission?" Raedyn asked.
"Sir, I have more experience than anyone else here exploring Red Mountain. I know the terrain, layout, structures and caves like the back of my hand. I am also ranked within the top five percent of fighters in the Buoyant Armigers." He spoke without pride, only with facts.
"Good. From here on out, you will not fight unless absolutely necessary."
Enar had a double take at that statement. "Sir?"
"Unless I'm mistaken, inside the Ghostgate there are constant Blight Storms, making it hard to find one's way, and every moment you stay you risk getting disease. Am I mistaken?"
Enar still looked confused. "No sir, you're not mistaken."
"Then we must know where we are and where we're going at all times. This makes you indispensible to the team's efficiency. Unless I tell you otherwise, you will leave as much of the fighting to the rest of us as you can, am I clear?"
Enar managed to keep his visage under control, though through the Moon-and-Star, Raedyn could see his ego was deflated. Moving on to the next one, he found himself looking at an Imperial in Templar armor with a thick, enchanted hoplon shield, black hair with a square face, he was approaching his middle years. "And you?"
"Turonimus Toutious, I am a Kinsman in Hlaalu and a Knight by trade, specializing in illusion and restoration." He explained, keeping his eyes forward. Raedyn didn't need his ring to tell him the Imperial didn't like him.
"Explain to me how that will help the group?" Raedyn ordered.
At that, Toutious looked him in the eye as he explained. "I use illusion magic to riot the emotions of the enemy into focusing on me." He held up his shield for emphasis, "And no one has managed to even scratch me after I acquired this. And I can also do temporary on-field healing of most wounds as well as remedy diseases, poisons and other ailments."
Through the ring, Raedyn could tell Toutious's disrespectful tone was affecting the others, giving them doubts about him. He nodded and said, "Good. Those are well needed skills."
Moving on, he found himself forced to look up to a monster of a Nord in Nordic Fur Armor. He had a prominent scar running between his gray eyes, and his dark brown hair was swept back and clean, something Raedyn didn't think he'd ever seen in a Nord. "Your turn. Impress me."
"Jormundr. Jormundr the Boring some call me. I am a Warlock within the Mage's Guild, and technically I'm a battlemage, but in reality, I'm a Voice Master."
Through the Moon-and-Star, Raedyn could tell the man had an almost playful expectation that he would not know what that was. He was glad Caius explained this unusual method of magic to him. "So, not only do you know the Way of the Voice, but you're a Tongue as well?" Not as ignorant as you thought, right? He thought when he saw Jormundr's expression. "I've never worked with the Thu'um before, so we'll go over the breadth of your abilities later. I assume you can be your own siege machine?"
The Nord's chest swelled somewhat with pride. "Of course."
Raedyn nodded, took a step toward the next party member, but stopped and said, "Just out of curiosity, why do 'some' call you 'the Boring'?"
"Because it's more general than 'Jormundr the Sober'."
Raedyn cocked an eyebrow. "You're sober? As in usually?"
Surprisingly, the Nord seemed to beam with pride even more. "Not just usually, I'm proud to say that of my five-and-thirty years of life, I've never once been inebriated."
Now that's something he'd never heard of in a Nord. "Why?"
"Is there not pride to be found in having self restraint? In being self sufficient enough to not need alcohol to have a good time?" He asked, looking Raedyn in the eye with an eyebrow raised questioningly.
The Dunmer smirked and said, "I like you." He reached his hand up, and casually patted the Nord on the shoulder hard enough to drive him to his knees. Through the Moon-and-Star, he felt as well as saw the surprise from everyone in the room at the display of strength. He could tell their doubts about him lessened somewhat.
The next warrior up was dressed in unusual armor that looked to be made half out of silvery metal and half out of ice. "And you?" He asked the Altmer.
"Telasor, Spellwright of the Telvanni and Defender of the Fighter's Guild." He answered.
Raedyn cocked a brow. "Those are very different organizations."
Telasor shrugged, nonchalantly, though Raedyn could tell through the Moon-and-Star that he was rather nervous and his thoughts were racing. "To me, magic and blade should be one in combat. The Mage's Guild focuses too much on academics and not enough in practical applications for my taste."
Raedyn crossed his arms, looking unimpressed. "And why are you here, rather than serving your Telvanni masters or assisting the Fighter's Guild with their peace keeping supply efforts?"
Again, Telasor shrugged, and Raedyn could see through his façade. "They both asked me to volunteer, so here I am."
Raedyn could tell that statement was true, but he could also see that Telasor was as impatient as he was bold. No matter what the situation was, he had to be doing something, and the more dire a situation, the more important it was for him to be involved. This was a mer who succeeded through overachieving due to insecurity. He kept note of this incase it created problems for the group.
The last one was a Dunmer in Chitin armor. "You know the drill."
"Nelan Asharamatuapizizi. I am House Cousin within Redoran." He spoke slowly, but with a strong Vvardenfell accent.
"You're Redoran, and yet you're also an Ashlander?" Raedyn questioned.
He could tell from the visions provided by the Moon-and-Star that this Nelan's thoughts were quick, direct, and unconflicted. "Erabenimsun; I am working to expand our horizons."
"And that's all the explanation I'll get, right?"
"There is nothing more to tell." The Ashlander answered indifferently.
"Very well." He stepped away from the group to look at them all at the same time. "Grand Marshal Omayn, I'll accept them." He eyed the group, and paced in front of them, analyzing them all, sizing them up. "All of you are different, different races, different factions, different abilities. We may all be here for different reasons, but we will work together as one. The moment we pass the Ghostgate, you will leave behind your grudges and misgivings. While we are together, there's only one enemy: House Dagoth. Between the six of us, we represent every power within Morrowind: the three Great Houses, the Ashlanders, the Guilds and the Tribunal." And the Empire and Blades, he silently added, but didn't speak it. "Never before in Resdayn's history have all these powers combined for such an undertaking. If we can fight together, then maybe more great things can come from such fellowship." That last part was intended for everyone in the room, not just his team.
"According to the Prophecy, only I can take down Dagoth Ur. But to do that, I'll need your help in taking down his seven Ash Vampires and acquiring certain artifacts from them; after which, you will choose your fate. You may continue on with me, or leave without fear of reprisal, I will not stop you." He turned away from them, and lifted his right hand, flexing his fingers into a fist, feeling Wraithguard adjust to his hand. "You have three hours to prepare, rest, pray, or whatever else you wish to do. In three hours, we leave. Be prepared."
Raedyn walked through the door into the Temple area, and after a few steps, he heard a familiar voice speak up from beside the door frame; unsurprisingly, he had walked right past Farens without even realizing it. "I'm not coming along, am I?"
"I was coming to inform you of a task I'd like you to perform." Raedyn said, quietly slipping the Moon-and-Star down his finger enough to where its magicks didn't work on him. He didn't want to manipulate the Morag Tong operative unfairly.
"And why am I not coming with you?" His voice was outwardly calm, but still demanding.
"Your talents are better served elsewhere." Raedyn explained in a direct manner. He knew before meeting up with Farens that the older Mer wasn't going to like being left out. "I need you now, more than ever, to be my blade out of sight. I need you and Eno Hlaalu to use whatever resources are available to the Morag Tong to maintain the status quo with the Great Houses. With Red Mountain regularly erupting, the Blightstorms, the Tribunal telling people the truth, there will undoubtedly be people who will try to profit from the ensuing chaos, maybe even seizing power."
"And you want us to take down those who would oppose you?" Farens said, a slight undercurrent of disdain in his voice.
"No, I want leaders and peace keepers, not tyrants. Inform your grandmaster that I ask him to use the utmost discretion when acting, and leave direct assassination as a last resort."
"And you're giving me this task because I'm weak, that the Blightstorms would destroy me." Farens added.
Raedyn subdued his rising frustration. Part of him knew that Farens was right. "I'm giving you this task because there's no one I trust more than you right now. Victory against Dagoth Ur will mean nothing, less than nothing, if we return to a Morrowind at war with itself. To be completely honest, Farens Dren, I'd give anything to be in your shoes right now. You think I want the future of Morrowind in my hands? I'd gladly hand them off to someone else if I could. I don't have much of a choice in the matter, just like you don't have much of a choice in your health or manner of fighting. Besides, as cold as it sounds, those mercenaries are expendable in this task; they'll help but they aren't necessary. I need you to do this for me, or else everything we've done up until this point might end up being for nothing."
Farens didn't break his gaze, and he didn't seem any less angry when he eventually said, "I'll do as you command."
"It's not a command, Farens." Raedyn said. "It's a request. I'd feel better if you were voluntarily doing this rather than because I ordered you to. You want to be my knife in the dark? A true warrior treats his weapon as a partner, not a tool."
Farens closed his eyes to calm himself. "Fine, I'll do this for you." He opened his eyes. "I'll be your knife in the dark as you'll be a shield in the light. Just don't break out there."
Raedyn harrumphed with a smirk. "Don't you know anything about smithing? Tempering metal with hammer and fire makes it stronger."
Securing the pack on his back, wondering for the third time if it was a good idea to bring along the Scroll of Icarian Flight with him, Raedyn checked his armor for the fourth time, then marched out of the room he was assigned, and met up with his team outside the Ghostgate. They looked anxious, even a little nervous. Raedyn disguised a deep breath to calm his own nerves, knowing he would have to be the unmoving stone in the group, the example that would calm the others.
He walked up to the group and said, "Once we pass through that gate, we're not coming back until our mission is over. This is your last chance to take care of any unfinished business. I'll wait."
No one in the group spoke up. All of them looked ready to fight Oblivion itself without reservation. Seeing the look in their eyes, Raedyn knew every one of them were ready to die on this mission. And he was determined to make sure all of them survived.
"Alright then." As he walked toward the mouth of the Ghostgate, he felt a rumbling in the earth. It was subtle, but very noticeable. He looked down the Ghostgate's maw, and saw a wall of red dust moving toward him very quickly. He put his hand on his longsword to keep it in place, refusing to move. You won't win, Dagoth Ur.
The Blightstorm hit the Ghostfence, and blew through the Ghostgate with a roar like nothing he'd ever heard before, hitting him like a stampede of horses. Had he not braced himself a moment before it hit, he would have been thrown onto his back. He wanted to cough, wanted to gag and wipe at his eyes, yet he dared not. If he showed fear or weakness toward this storm, his team wouldn't dare face it with him. Tentatively, he took a step forward, then another and another.
"Everyone get behind me." He ordered. He may not have been as big as Jormundr, or anyone else in the group, but he would still be a significant buffer against the storm for them. And if they were going to get to the top of the mountain, whoever would be at the front of the group would tire out the most. With his strength and stamina, he was the best pick. Through the Moon-and-Star, he could tell the men and mer were lining up behind him, and felt their determination in the face of fear.
Without word, he marched forward, and his team followed him.
Once they were a mile within the Ghostfence, the Blightstorm had calmed just enough for Raedyn to notice a rocky overlay that formed a six-foot-deep cave that was thirty feet wide. "To the right!" He yelled. He could feel through the Moon-and-Star that the others heard him. They coordinated their movements enough to where Raedyn was always directly upwind from them until he reached the cave, where the team filed in and quickly sat on the ground, tired from the trek and fighting with the storm. Raedyn didn't join them on the ground, but he did lean against the rock. He pulled a handkerchief from his pack and wiped his face of the sweat, and noticed that it came away completely red. He was glad none of the others had gotten a good look at his red-dust covered face, or else there would have been jokes at his expense.
"Turonimus," he called out, "pass out water, rations, and stamina spells as needed. Telasor, heal whomever you can of the Blight. Enar, grab a map and help me decide a route." The three immediately got to their assignments, with Enar pulling out a map and grabbing a couple pairs of small rocks. When the Bouyant Armiger reached him, he used the rocks to keep the map on the ground. The wind within the cave was nothing compared to the storm outside, but it was enough that it could easily fly out and into the storm, where it would be irretrievable.
With Enar on the ground, panting lightly, Raedyn decided to join him cross legged. "We're approximately here," Enar pointed out on the map, "we haven't yet reached any passes that take us to other parts of the mountain, so we need to know where to search."
Raedyn closed his eyes and reached out with the Moon-and-Star. He felt a great presence within the mountain, something huge and malicious and fractured, a mind no longer together. Upon closer examination, he felt two different entities within that presence, one of which was sentient and the other was not so much a conscience as it was a large blank slate.
Turning his attention elsewhere on the mountain, he felt several other presences that were similar to what inhabited the mountain, but far more subdued. He couldn't see the shape of the mountain, only the direction and distance to each presence.
"I need a compass, and does this map have something to tell me distance?" Enar pulled a small compass out of his pocket, and pointed to a scale bar in the lower left of the map. Feeling the distance to the nearest Ash Vampire, Raedyn used the compass to get his bearings, and pointed to the approximate location along a line. He could tell how far it was as if he could see it with his eyes, but that was still estimating. "Anything around here? Ruin, tomb?"
"Dwemer fortress." Enar stated. "I'll just mark the ruin itself."
The two of them continued like that for five minutes, Raedyn getting the approximate location of the Ash Vampires, and Enar marking them. Some of them were on or near ruins or tombs, while a few were far from anything marked on the map. When they were done, Raedyn looked over the group. He was surprised that after only a few minutes rest, they looked ready for another trek.
"Alright, everyone back on your feet."
Raedyn crouched down and kept his breathing quiet as he watched the strange creature down in the room below them. This creature, this Ash Vampire, was tall and sinewy, wearing what could barely be considered a loincloth and a strange headdress. It was praying at a small Dagoth shrine.
Raedyn leaned over and whispered to Jormundr as quietly as he could, not sure how acute the creature's hearing was, "Tell Enar to fire arrows ten seconds after I engage it, preferably with its back to him, and Telasor to use a spell to knock it off balance immediately after. Tell Turonimus and Nelan to engage right after that in case it survives."
Jormundr nodded, then took a deep breath, trying to be quiet while doing it, and used the Voice to convey the message to the others on the other side of the room, also using a perch to spy on the creature. Despite being less than a foot away from Jormundr as he did it, Raedyn could barely hear a whisper, while he knew the others heard him clearly.
He stood up and walked down the stairs, trying to be quiet while doing it. Glass armor may have been mostly metal, but it was surprisingly quiet. He pulled out his glass long sword slowly, making as little noise as he could, and inched toward the creature. When he got within striking distance, he lifted his sword above his head, aiming at the creature's skull.
Reacting purely on instinct, he jumped back right as the Ash Vampire turned around, swinging its razor-like claws at him. The creature took a leap at him, swinging its claws again, and this time, Raedyn countered the attack by swinging his sword at the monster's hand, aiming to take off its fingers. At the last moment, the fingers bent back, so far that they should have broken every tendon in them, causing the sword to hit nothing but air. The moment the swing was complete, the fingers bent back to where they should have been.
Raedyn used the momentum of his sword strike to swing his body around to use the kick that Caius had taught him all those months ago. The Ash Vampire tried to block with its forearm, but the bones broke, and the kick collided with its head with virtually no loss in power. The creature went flying ten feet away before slamming into a wall, but landed on all fours as if the attack did nothing to him, despite that part of its face was now missing.
Suddenly, an arrow shot through its chest, quickly followed by three more. "Sorry," Enar called out, "couldn't wait."
With the Ash Vampire distracted by the man's voice, a massive bolt of lightning hit the ground under the monster, which rebounded up and flung it high into the air with electricity sizzling over its body. While airborne, Enar shot another arrow into it. Again, it landed gracefully on the ground, and leapt at Raedyn, only for Turonimus to get in front him at the last second and raised his large shield. A terrible noise shrieked through the room as the Ash Vampire's claws raked against the metal.
Raedyn barely caught a glance as the creature nimbly leapt over them and landed behind them. Time seemed to slow as he spun around as fast as he could to bring his sword to bear on the creature. When his eyes could finally see it, he saw its claw would reach him before his sword could defend him.
A moment before the claw reached him, a very large blur rammed into the Ash Vampire, taking it with him as Raedyn noticed the trademark shouts of the Voice. The blur drove the Ash Vampire into a stone statue, breaking it into several pieces.
Raedyn recoiled as he saw Jormundr leaping back to get some distance between himself and the Ash Vampire, now with its entire chest crushed. With its skeletal structure compromised, it was having trouble moving. Suddenly, Nelan fell on its back, driving it to the ground with his sword through its chest, nailing it to the floor.
Raedyn took the opportunity while Nelan had it incapacitated and cut off the creature's head. After a little effort, the Ashlander pulled his sword out of the ground, and was about to wipe it off when he noticed there was nothing to wipe off the sword. He muttered something about 'abomination' as he sheathed it.
Raedyn took a deep breath and said to the group, "Well, that wasn't so-"
Everyone in the room instantly got ready for another fight as the monster's body got back on its feet, without its head. Everybody tensed with anticipation of what it would do, but it just stood there for a moment before it started walking around. Everyone moved out of the way, giving it plenty of room while avoiding the head as well. After a minute, the body slowly walked into a wall, took a step back after bouncing off it, then stepped into it again. After a few more minutes of this, the body fell over and stayed still.
It was a tense five minutes before the group relaxed. Nelan swore under his breath in Ehlnofex, and Telasor examined the body with a glowing hand. "The soul was fused to the body." He said after a minute. "Normally, it acts through the brain to control the body. This is similar to some high level necromantic techniques. You can relax, its dead for good now."
Everyone visibly relaxed, but no one put away their weapons.
Later that night, they sat around a campfire at the bottom of a tower in a second Dwemer ruin. They had managed to take out a second Ash Vampire, but Nelan was seriously wounded. Their morale was shaken, their confidence on the rocks. They all expected the mountain to test them, they didn't expect the Ash Vampires to be so tough. Within the span of a day, all but Raedyn were physically exhausted, and all were mentally worn out.
This isn't going well. He thought. They're all afraid. I need to give them something to put them at ease.
"I told my son I'd buy him a wooden carving of a horse." Nelan mentioned, out of the blue, in his slow manner. "I promised him I'd bring one from the settlements when I visited the camp next."
"I'll do that." Raedyn responsively said. "If you don't make it back, I'll do this for you."
Nelan looked surprised at this, then brought his eyes back to the flame. "If you could…could you…also tell my wife…that I did everything I could. That I did well. She'll know what I mean."
"Sure." Raedyn said.
"If he doesn't make it back," Jormundr said to Nelan, "I'll do it instead."
"What about you?" Raedyn asked. "Any last requests just in case?"
"Huh?" Jormundr was taken off guard by the question. He scratched his head in nervousness. "I didn't really have any unfinished business, no family or anything."
"I see." Raedyn said.
"Wait, actually," Jormundr said, but hesitated, "uh, well, there was something I had hoped to do someday, when I conjured up the courage to actually do it."
"I'll do it." Raedyn promised. "Anything."
Jormundr scratched the back of his head again, showing unusual nervousness. "Well, I trained mostly in the Imperial College of the Voice in Markarth, but for a time I was trained by the Greybeards in High Hrothgar, atop the Throat of the World."
Raedyn whistled softly. Caius mentioned how rare it was for the legendary Greybeards to actually teach Tongues who followed the arts of war.
"There was this one Greybeard, Albest, who did nothing but give me impossible tasks, and scold and punish me when I couldn't complete them. I swear, I didn't learn anything from that little…anyway, I just wanted to go back there one day and knock his block off."
"Sure. Would you like me to mention you before I deck him, or should I leave a note before I run for my life?" Raedyn added.
Jormundr laughed. "That half-blind, near senile old fool is too proud and full of himself to ever see a punch coming. Go ahead and mention me first. Before he goes on a rant about how he's not surprised I couldn't take down a demi-god."
Raedyn nodded, then looked to the others. "Any other requests?" Some of them were hesitant at first, but eventually they all confessed their last wishes to him, and to each other, and they promised that whoever survived would carry out the wishes of the fallen.
Raedyn limped down the halls, his breath haggard, the tip of his sword scraping against the ground behind him with Keening and Sunder attached to his belt. He was the last one. All the others were gone. With Nelan still healing and acting as a second marksman, the third Ash Vampire proved too much for the group to deal with. As the creature was about to kill Turonimus, Nelan joined the fray and nearly tackled it before it regained its balance. Unable to avoid the counterattack, Nelan took the creature's claws through his chest, and used that to hold it in place as Raedyn cut the monster to pieces.
Telasor was next, as he was forced to fight the fourth Ash Vampire with his quarterstaff as it picked him out of the group and used a powerful reflect spell. He passed away with Turonimus desperately trying to save him with Restoration magic He had begged them not to let him die, that he wasn't ready.
The fifth Ash Vampire used spells that disintegrated weapons, and eventually broke through Turonimus' shield, severing his arm. The rest of the team managed to defeat it without him, and he used spells to stop the bleeding, but with the blood loss, he said he would only be a liability. Enar and Jormundr, even Raedyn offered to take him back to Ghostgate, but he stubbornly refused, saying he either would make it back alone, or not at all. Either way, he wasn't going to slow down the mission.
So they parted ways there, Raedyn's crew going across the mountain, and Turonimus feebly moving down the mountain, despite the weakness and pain. No one mentioned it, but they all knew: he would never survive the Blightstorms, not with his wounds.
Shortly afterward, Enar contracted the Black-Heart Blight, and his condition got bad quickly. With just Raedyn and Jormundr against the sixth Ash Vampire in a Dwemer ruin, they faired very poorly. Both got badly injured, and didn't expect to survive. Jormundr stopped him from attacking the creature at one point, and said, "Thank you for that promise, but it's okay if you don't keep it." He then used a shout which caused a powerful current of air to carry him back to the entrance to the fortress, leaving Jormundr and the Ash Vampire alone. As soon as Raedyn got back on his feet, he heard a deafening shout rock the entire fortress, and he got out just before the entire thing collapsed in on itself. Shortly after, he used the Moon-and-Star to confirm that the Ash Vampire, and Jormundr, were gone.
And as they made their way to one of the main paths running up the length of the mountain, Enar collapsed, unable to go on. He told Raedyn that, even if he were carried, he wouldn't last long enough to make it back to the Ghostgate. He begged Raedyn to ease his suffering, and after a long time of hesitation, he reluctantly made it as quick as he could.
He was the last one. He carried the wishes of those who fought for him, who died for his mission, his destiny. He had fought the last Ash Vampire on his own, leaving him with several cracked ribs, burn scars, and four long lacerations on his left leg.
Slowly, bronze halls gave way to rocky earth as the Citadel went deeper into Red Mountain. He wasn't aware how long he had trekked, he wasn't aware when he stopped, he only knew when he found Dagoth Ur in front of him. What once was a Chimer was now as ashen as his servants, his head encased in a golden mask. This was not the elegant creature that had visited him in his dreams, this was a monster, outwardly the same as he was inside.
"Once, we were friends." It said. "I had thought about asking you to join me, so we could be what we once were. But it's too late for that, isn't it?"
Raedyn breathed slowly, deeply, feeling sweat running down his face, making lines through the filth. His armor was broken in places, scratched and scorched in others. His shield was long abandoned as useless, and his sword's edges were littered with dents and chips. He was exhausted, his mind a haze, and his body ached. He had no illusions about surviving this encounter. "You're the one who pushed it this far."
"Did I not do exactly what you asked?" Dagoth Ur asked with distain. "Did I not protect Kagrenac's Tools? I protected them; you, and those fools who built their religion on your corpse, betrayed me."
"You've lost yourself to whatever influence remained after Lorkhan's death." Raedyn stated. "You're just a perverted echo of a formerly honorable sorcerer, long lost and dead, replaced by a twisted reflection."
"Nerevar," Dagoth Ur said, almost mournfully, "had he not trusted those two fools and been seduced by that woman he would have understood me. He would have joined me."
"You're alone, Dagoth." Raedyn said. "You cannot see past yourself, that is why you spread your power into others through Corprus, so no matter how many are around you, you'll always see just yourself."
"You're alone too, Raedyn Otheril." Dagoth Ur said. "You came here to my mountain with five others, yet only you remain. Your allies are gone; no one is here with you. Everyone who followed you either abandoned you, you abandoned them, or they're dead. You see, we're all alone, no matter what we do. The only certainty in the future is death, and in death we're all alone. Join with me, become me, and never be alone anymore."
"I am not alone. My companions gave me their last wishes, they live on through me. What my mentor taught me, by following his path, I walk alongside him. Vvardenfell is consumed with fear, and I give them hope. I am the hope of Morrowind. I am not alone!"
Dagoth Ur gave off a bestial roar as raw magicka radiated from him. Within a heartbeat, he was surrounded by numerous magical shields, a Dremora Lord, a Fire Atronach, a Hunger, and an Ogrim.
Raedyn gave off a war cry as he charged. He leapt over the Hunger and Dremora Lord, and swung his sword at Dagother Ur. Striking the shields felt like striking near-solid resin, slowing his sword down considerably enough to where Dagoth Ur was able to get away with a cut only a few inches deep across his chest. Raedyn instantly used the momentum of the swing to bring the sword behind him and only his back, blocking the daedric claymore that would have cleaved right through his armor. The impact still sent him reeling, his sword now bent and the armor of his back dented.
He recovered in time to see the Ogrim charging him, and he jumped in the air, over its bulbous belly, and punched it in the head. The skull broke open like a jar of jelly, coating Wraithguard. He then jumped off the daedra, leaping toward the Dremora Lord. Their swords connected, but Raedyn's greater strength made his strike continue forward with speed until the blade connected with the creature's shoulder, denting the daedric armor in a way that must have been painful for the Dremora Lord.
He then hit the daedra with a quick punch across the face. It was done so quick that Raedyn couldn't put nearly as much power behind it as he could have, but it still sent the Dremora Lord into the wall. Suddenly, he felt searing pain course through his body as he was launched into the air by a lightning spell cast by Dagoth Ur. He flew into the Ash Statues over a vent, and found the steam hot enough that it was burning him. As soon as he pushed himself off the vent, he was hit by a red and black bolt to the chest by the Hunger. The attack didn't seem to do anything to him, until he noticed that his cuirass was melting. In a panic, he reached into the side fold of his armor, and ripped the front completely off, causing the back to fall off as well.
Through the pain, he was able to leap at the Hunger, his sword cleaving it from shoulder, through its spine, to its stomach. Right at the time of impact, however, the Hunger cast another disintegration spell, and the moment Raedyn pulled the sword out, most of it was melted off.
Instinct alone had him duck and roll away as a fire spell flew over his head, and he pulled out Keening and used telekinesis to throw it into the Fire Atronach's head, just like he had with the kagouti all those months and a lifetime ago.
Before he could pull Sunder from its loop on his belt, the Dremora Lord attacked again. Acting almost without thought, Raedyn rushed forward, and grabbed the daedra's hands before they could swing the claymore down. He then turned and flipped the Dremora Lord over his hip, pulled the claymore out of its hands, and cut off its head.
Holding the daedric claymore with one hand easily, Raedyn turned around to face wherever Dagoth Ur had gone. He barely saw the powerful fire spell before it hit him in the chest, throwing him back against the wall with enough force to dull him to the pain. He fell onto his stomach, the world spinning around and going dead silent. He became increasingly aware of an incredible pain in his chest, knowing that his shirt was completely gone, and probably most of the skin and muscle on his chest. He was dying.
As he lay with his cheek against the dirty rock, he saw Dagoth Ur step up to him. A hand grabbed his arm and roughly turned him onto his back. He found himself staring up at the Sharmat looming over him. He seemed to be looking at Raedyn's chest. When he followed the gaze Raedyn instantly wished he hadn't. He could see the burnt bones of his ribcage, and the still smoldering ruins of his intestines and stomach.
"You may have defeated me when I was a fledgling deity, but I have long since surpassed you. And now, you shall die alone, as all do."
Through the pain and delirium, Raedyn became aware of a burning on his left ring finger. The Moon-and-Star was growing white-hot, yet it did not burn him. He felt different, like something fundamental about him had changed. It felt like how he had when he managed to cast an Absorb Magic spell, a skill Tyermaillin tried to teach him, saying it would augment his natural ability to absorb magic from being born under the sign of the Atronach, but he was never able to really grasp the skill. However, this felt magnitudes greater than what he normally felt, and he didn't feel any impact on his magicka reserves.
He reached up, and grabbed Dagoth Ur's ankle, and felt magicka, strange and powerful, flow into him. The Sharmat doubled over as if in pain, and Raedyn felt all the pain in his torso disappear. He looked down, and saw bone, organ and skin reforming. Within seconds, his chest was back to what it had been before.
Dagoth Ur kicked Raedyn's hand away, and stepped back in shock. Raedyn slowly got to his feet, and felt a rush of…something, something so powerful and potent that it might as well have been an avalanche. His mind felt overcome by a darkness, without source or cause, and he instinctually knew what it was. All sapient life on Nirn knew of this power as the memory of him was ingrained into all life for creating the mortal world: Lorkhan.
This darkness wasn't a lingering sentiment, or a drive toward evil, or a remainder of his will, it was simply what remained of his mind, as even dead gods dreamed. It threatened to overtake him, to consume him, to fracture who and what he was.
Then he felt the others. Thousands of others, all thinking of him. Through the Moon-and-Star, he felt the prayers of all Morrowind. He was legion, and Lorkhan's influence was held at bay.
He looked at Dagoth Ur and saw distress in his body language. "No, only I can handle this power! How are you not destroyed?" He then threw a powerful fireball, as large as a Nord was tall, and the moment it touched Raedyn, it sank into his body, becoming one with his magicka. "What is this? How is this possible?" He fired several more, and Raedyn felt the spells absorb perfectly into his own magicka reserves.
"All my life my body has been able to absorb some of the magicka used on it." Raedyn said. "Now, through the Moon-and-Star, I can feel the prayers of all of Morrowind, their prayers perfect my ability to absorb magic." He looked Dagoth in the eye, through the mask, and knew the former mer was feeling fear for the first time in a long time. "I told you already, I am not alone. I am the hope of Morrowind!"
Dagoth Ur screamed as he leapt forward, his claws lashing out. Raedyn caught his hand, and punched him in the chest hard enough to crush his ribcage. The Sharmat then swung his other arm, unperturbed by his injury. Raedyn similarly caught the arm, then struck the arm, breaking the humerus bone. He then pulled hard on the arm, driving Dagoth Ur off balance, then twisted the arm until the broken bone pierced the skin before putting his foot against Dagoth's hip, then pushed away until the arm ripped off.
Again, Dagoth Ur didn't seem bothered by his injury. Raedyn saw magick flowing through the former Chimer's body and saw the torn arm starting to regenerate. He leapt forward, striking Dagoth across the face, causing the metal mask to cave in enough to where no one would be able to wear it without killing themselves. He then put his hand on Dagoth's chest, and absorbed the magicka flowing into him. Dagoth desperately tried to pry Raedyn off him, but to no avail. He then used a powerful telekinesis spell to try and repel the Dunmer off him, which was simply absorbed by his body.
Dagoth Ur's attempts to get Raedyn off him got weaker and weaker until he couldn't support his own weight. Then, suddenly his body turned to ash in Raedyn's arms. Raedyn took a few steps back, and felt Dagoth Ur's soul through the Moon-and-Star.
"You won't get rid of me that easily." A disembodied voice declared. "I've delved further into Lorkhan's power than you can comprehend! You may destroy my body, like you did all those centuries ago, but you can't destroy my soul."
"I have a soul trap spell that disagrees with you." Raedyn said back, despite not having any soul gems.
The voice laughed. "Go ahead, it will only delay the inevitable completion of my masterpiece."
"Masterpiece? Are your Corprus beasts not horrible enough that you need to make art on the side?"
"Come and look. I think you'll be impressed."
Raedyn looked around, and saw a large Dwemer-style door he hadn't noticed earlier. As he walked toward it, he said, "It better not be of phallic design, or your next death will be even more painful." He opened the door and walked through. He found himself in a massive chamber, stiflingly hot and humid with the smell of brimstone and other nasty vapors. And in the center of the chamber, with a land bridge leading to it, stood a massive statue, with an exposed ribcage and an either gouged out or incomplete stomach. After a moment, he realized it wasn't a statue, it was a construct: a golem!
"Behold, Akulakhan! A golem to rival the Numidium!"
Raedyn's mind raced with this revelation. This was Dagoth Ur's trump card! The original Numidium was Tiber Septim's greatest weapon, the very thing that allowed him to overthrow Aldmeri dominance. If Dagoth Ur used it, it wouldn't be a tool used to make tactical strikes and to bargain with, it would be used as a tool for wanton destruction. Dagoth Ur wouldn't just drive outsides from Morrowind, he was going to wage genocide against all of Tamriel!
"Young fool, I've sealed the exit to this chamber." Raedyn turned, and heard loud locks clicking into place with the door. "In here, Recall and Intervention spells do not work. You can destroy my body however many times you please, I will always come back. But you, when your body dies you'll be gone. I have you right where I want you, my old friend."
Raedyn felt a teleportation spell behind him, and he saw Dagoth Ur, fully formed, appear. "Not the best way to treat an old friend, old friend." Raedyn said, then pulled Sunder out, and swung it one handed, crushing and taking off Dagoth Ur's head.
"Those are," Dagoth Ur's voice came back at once, panicked "you have Sunder and Keening!"
Raedyn took off at a run, making a dash toward the bridge leading toward the Akulakhan. "You didn't think I came here without a plan, did you?" He leapt off a cliff edge, and landed on the bridge leading to the heart nearly a hundred feet below, rolling upon impact.
"NO!" Dagoth Ur screamed, reforming in his path. Raedyn swatted him aside, and off the bridge into the lava below, without breaking stride. There, in Akulakhan's chest cavity laid the Heart of Lorkhan.
He pulled out Sunder, and swung it at the heart. He half expected the heart to explode from the force he put behind the swing, but the weapon went right through the Heart as if it were merely an illusion. However, the Heart was now surrounded by a sphere of glass-like hexagons. Discarding Sunder, Raedyn pulled Keening out of its sheath.
"NO!" Raedyn turned around, grabbed Dagoth Ur by the throat as the former Chimer stabbed him through the chest with his claws. Raedyn simply drew out a little more of Lorkhan's power from Dagoth, healing his wounds, and threw his nemesis to the far side of the bridge before striking the heart with Keening.
The hexagons surrounding the seemed to shatter at first, but it looked more like the heart itself and everything around it was splintering, as if it were a reflection in a broken mirror. He struck again, and the fracturing got worse. Two more times, and the image of a heart was no longer recognizable.
"NO!" Dagoth Ur screamed, just inches behind Raedyn. He struck it again, this time, the image broke up, each fragment breaking up into smaller pieces which themselves broke up until it became like dust, and was gone.
For a moment, there was silence, nothing seemed to happen. Suddenly, Red Mountain rumbled, and both Raedyn and Dagoth Ur screamed in pain. Bright blue magicka violently blasted from their bodies as the chamber trembled. Massive boulders fell from the ceiling as Akulakhan started falling apart. The bridge they stood on broke apart and started to sink in to the lava below. However, five feet before the bridge they stood on could be consumed by the lava, the rock's buoyancy balanced out, lifting the two thrashing bodies back in the air, then falling down again until evening out into a bobble.
After seemingly an eternity, the pain receded, and through the burning heat, Raedyn looked up and saw Dagoth Ur struggling to stand up on their little rocky island in the middle of the lava pit. As he tried to stand up himself, he found his body was incredibly weak.
No, it wasn't weak, it just wasn't strong like it used to be.
"It's gone." Dagoth Ur mutter, despair in his voice. "It's gone, it's all gone!"
By destroying the Heart of Lorkhan, he had taken away Dagoth Ur's power, and by taking them away, he took away the power source of the Corprus disease. Not only that, but all the magicka in their bodies were taken along with Lorkhan's power. They were both mortal, and equally vulnerable. Raedyn stood up, and saw Dagoth Ur stand up to face him, calm fury evident in his stance. It was all or nothing.
Dagoth charged, and Raedyn followed suit. Raedyn bent over to go for the tackle. Their bodies collided, and Dagoth Ur tried to get his arm around Raedyn's neck. Before he could do that, Raedyn grabbed Dagoth's thigh, and using the leverage, lifted the former Chimer in the air and slammed him onto the ground with Raedyn's shoulder in his stomach. Dagoth then kneed the young Dunmer in the head, disorienting him. He then sat up and punched Raedyn in the face. He fell onto his back, and Dagoth quickly got up and kneeled over him, punching him in the face. Raedyn held his forearms in front of his face, trading blows to his face for blows to his arms. He then lifted his legs up, wrapped them around Dagoth Ur's waist, and pulled him away onto his back.
As Raedyn scrambled to his knees, he saw Dagoth also getting up. He quickly scooted forward, using the momentum to spin on one knee to deliver a roundhouse kick to Dagoth's masked face. It may not have connected with the mer's face directly, but hitting the mask still sent him reeling back off balance.
Raedyn rolled back to put some distance between them, and as Dagoth Ur started to stand up, he grabbed a rock twice the size of his fist and threw it as hard as he could at the Sharmat's head. The rock bounced off, knocking him back to the ground while denting the mask. Raedyn then ran up and started kicking the downed opponent.
After taking several kicks, Dagoth grabbed Raedyn's leg, and rolled over, forcing the Dunmer to jump over him in order to not get tripped. He then found himself stumbling toward the edge of the rock. He managed to stop in time, though he teetered on the edge for a second. He then took a step back and braced for the tackle he knew would be coming. Dagoth Ur tried to push him over the side, but Raedyn dug his feet into the ground too well.
The Sharmat then pushed himself back to arm's length from Raedyn, pulled his right hand back while pushing with his left hand, and brought his open hand up to Raedyn's face. Nothing happened. He heard a grunt of frustration as Dagoth Ur pulled his hand back and tried to turn it into a punch. Lorkhan's power mixed with our magicka, and when I destroyed the Heart it took the power, and our magicka away with it. But why is his magicka not regenerating?
Raedyn deflected the punch and used the motion to drive a punch into Dagoth Ur's solar plexus. The ancient mer doubled over, and the younger mer wrapped his arm around his neck to keep him in a doubled over state. He then started dropping his elbow into Dagoth's back over and over while trying to swing him around toward the edge.
The Sharmat dropped to his knees to increase his traction and reduce Raedyn's leverage. He tried to knee Dagoth in the face, but was taken off balance as he was pushed onto his back. Dagoth Ur scrambled up straddled Raedyn. They fought to get their arms in a better position over the other, but then Dagoth head-butted Raedyn with his mask. The hard bronze disoriented him, and he was struck with the mask again, and again, and again.
His mind started to cloud over as blood ran down his face. After a time, Dagoth Ur stood up and lifted him to his feet by his neck. He started to push Raedyn toward the edge of the rock, and Raedyn regained enough sense to try and fight back. His body felt weak, his breath was short and ragged, and he couldn't fight hard enough. Dagoth pushed him back farther and farther.
As Dagoth put Raedyn up to the edge of the rock, less than six inches from his doom, Dagoth said, "We were both born under the same sign. We both saw the rise of the First Council. We both saw it fall. In this very chamber, you defeated me. Now, I defeat you."
That's why he couldn't use magic on me before. Raedyn realized. He was also born under the Atronach, his magicka doesn't regenerate!
"Once, we might have been friends, but you never let me live down that you were the stronger, the greater in every way. Now, I will have my revenge." Whatever he was going to say after that was cut off as a daedric dagger was thrust into his stomach. "What? H-how…"
"My magicka regenerates, always has." Raedyn said, then pulled the summoned dagger out and stabbed Dagoth Ur again. After he pulled it out a second time, he swiped it across Dagoth Ur's throat. Blood gushed out, and the Sharmat feebly tried to contain the bleeding with his hands. Raedyn took a step to the side, spun around and kicked Dagoth Ur off the edge of the rock. He watched, then, as the ashen lich burned in the lava.
The dagger dissolved in his hands, and he stepped back toward the center of the rock, which was getting hotter very quickly. He bent over to grab his pack. The strap must have broken when Dagoth Ur stabbed him before he destroyed the Heart. The room as getting hotter and hotter. If he didn't get out soon, he wouldn't survive. He needed just another minute…
He started as he heard the sound of rock breaking and grinding. Part of the ceiling fell down, revealing the blue sky above. Those massive boulders crashed into the lava, creating waves that drove toward Raedyn. As a wave of lava crashed into his rock, it splashed up and onto the rock. He jumped away to the far side to avoid it, but even with nearly ten feet to spare, it felt like his legs were going to catch on fire.
There, he should have enough magicka to cast a recall spell. He tried casting it, but it felt blocked. He tried Almsivi's Intervention, and nothing happened. He tried again with Divine Intervention, and again, nothing. Dagoth Ur's sealing of the chamber still worked even after his death!
Realizing that he was too far away from any walls to jump and climb, without Recall and Intervention, he was stuck. There was no way to escape. He dropped his pack, fell to the ground, and slumped. This is it. He thought. This is the end of the road.
He remembered his time as a normal, though fatherless child. He remembered his time as an orphan, unable to find a family to take him in. He remembered his time as a beggar and thief, and the indignities he suffered in the Imperial Prison. He remembered when he first arrived in Morrowind, so afraid of open spaces, unsure what to do with his newfound freedom. That seemed like so long ago, he had changed so much. Was he really that pathetic? Though it seemed like a different lifetime, he remembered the Silt Strider ride, how weird the entire experience was, the weird man who fell out of the sky…
He stopped his train of thought. No way. He thought. He looked down, and saw the last scroll of Icarian Flight poking out of the pack. He just happened to run into that crazy event on his first day, and he just happened to take the scroll with him. Azura, I take back every thing I ever said about you being incompetent.
He pulled the scroll out, ripped the string and unwound it. The lava around him started to bubble and boil, sending little bits of lava precariously close to him. He quickly poured what little magicka he had left into it. He felt the spell engraved on the scroll activating, altering his body. He looked up at the broken ceiling, squatted down, and jumped as hard as he could before a wave of lava covered the rest of the rock he stood on.
When he used the first scroll, he hadn't jumped straight up. Now, he soared up faster than he'd expected. Right as he jumped, the rest of the ceiling caved in. He cleared a rock the size of a Balmoran house with a few layers of skin on his chest to spare, and before he knew it, he was zooming by shear walls of rock as he continued to fly up at a slight angle, heading toward the circle of blue sky surrounded by red clouds, toward the crown of Red Mountain.
That was when he started to notice he was slowing down. No, no! The lip of Red Mountain suddenly felt a lot farther than it had moments earlier. Come on, just a little further! Come on. He was definitely slowing down, and he couldn't tell if he would make the lip. If he fell short, even if he reached the wall at this angle it didn't look like he had a chance of grabbing onto anything to climb. Without Corprus, he was no stronger as strong as he would need to be.
Come on, come ON! He got closer to the edge, a little closer, a little closer…
And with a jubilant whoop, he passed the edge of the Red Mountain's cap. Almost immediately afterward, however, he noticed that the ground below him was getting farther away from him than he wanted it to. He was also moving more horizontally than vertical, and the ground below him was getting farther and farther away from the highest point of Red Mountain.
Oh come ON! When he finally started to fall, there was nearly forty feet of open air between him and the mountain. "Oh this is going to hurt." He muttered as he started falling faster and faster toward the rocky ground below him. His feet impacted hard, sending a painful shock from his feet all the way to his upper back. Luckily, the ground itself was more dirt than rock, and more vertical than horizontal or even diagonal. His feet ripped troughs through the mountainside as powerful winds blew the kicked up dirt into Raedyn's face. Then his butt hit the ground before his back followed as the odd rocks in the dirt cut up his legs.
His feet suddenly hit a large boulder, sending more pain through his legs as his momentum launched him forward, doing a somersault before his back hit the rock and he continued to roll down the mountainside. He continued rolling, unable to stop himself as rocks cut into his legs and back and occasionally hitting his head. Finally, he was able flop his legs down flat against the ground, allowing him to control his fall somewhat, but before he could stop completely, he went over the edge of a wall, and freefell ten feet onto solid rock.
Through the pain, he rolled over onto his back, and saw, through the dust storm, the red clouds eternally surrounding Red Mountain before passing out.
He was awoken by a drop of water hitting his face. What just hit me? He wondered. People usually used a whole bucket of water…
He opened his eyes, and saw a sky that was half blue and half white cloud. Right above him was a slightly darker cloud, and he felt a couple more small rain drops hit his face and chest. It's a nice day. He thought after a minute. I'm really sore. He thought a minute later. I wonder why that is.
It slowly came back to him, his fight with Dagoth Ur, the miraculous powers the Moon-and-Star granted him, and his less than optimal escape. It was then that he remembered he was still on Red Mountain, and that there should be no blue sky above him. "The Blight Storms are gone." He said in wonder.
"Yes." Raedyn whipped around and onto his feet painfully at the voice. He found a Dunmer woman in an intricately cut white dress, with sharper features than was normal, almost more than natural.
"…Azura?" He asked after a moment.
"Yes." She said, her lips moving so slowly, so gently it almost seemed like the voice came from someone else. "The Blight Storms are over, the threat of Dagoth Ur and Akulakhan are no more, and the profane immortality of the Tribunal is gone. Our brother, Lorkhan's power is finally settling down."
"Is that what this was all about?" Raedyn asked. "Freeing Lorkhan's power?"
"No." Azura said. "This has all been about giving you free will."
"That's what you call free will? Forcing me down a messianic path?"
"If I hadn't made this path, Dagoth Ur could very well have toppled the Empire, and spread his Corprus to all of Tamriel. No one would have had free will then."
After a moment, Raedyn responded. "Yeah, I suppose so."
"But this is how far the path goes. From here on, you're free to tread your own path. Nothing is laid out before you."
Raedyn thought about that for a second, then limped over to the wall he had fallen from not too long ago, and leaned against it. "Clean slate?"
"Yes. You no longer have Corprus, for trading one immortal monarch for another would make no difference. Your life is yours to dictate as you wish."
Raedyn thought about that for a second before nodding and looking out from Red Mountain. He could make out the skeleton of the Ghostfence, now without the blue glow keeping it powered. There was no longer any reason to keep anything in, or anything out.
"Do you know what you're going to do from now on?" Azura asked.
"No." Raedyn admitted, a smirk coming to his lips. "Not yet. But you know what? I can't wait until I find out."
Author's Notes: Oh my god, it's finally over! It's over, it's finally over! No more e-mails asking me to update, no more guilt, no more unfinished business. It's all over, I can finally end it.
*puts gun to head and pulls the trigger*
OUCH! That really freaking hurt, man! Next time, I'll use a real gun and not a BB gun.
Okay, so what do I want to get out of the way first, considering this is the last author's note I'll be bringing up? I guess the first thing I should get out of the way is that I'm trading fanfiction right now for Machinima. I have an account on youtube, but in typical style, I don't know when my first project will premiere. I've already got all the equipment and software I need, and I've got a few story ideas that are, more than anything, a little under-developed. If anyone wants more information or wants to be PMed when (and if) I finally get something online, just let me know.
One of the main reasons I decided to write this in the beginning, besides being inspired by the last scene in the previous chapter, is that there were a lot of novelizations back then, and few of them were any good. Most, in fact, were virtually copy/paste jobs of the scripts. No one added anything to the story. Also, in The Elder Scrolls games' novelizations, the main character always was innocent. I decided to do something different and have a main character that wasn't innocent of anything. So far, I think that's one of the things readers enjoyed most, seeing a main character who was a little more human (despite being an elf).
I actually planned forever until the scene actually came up that Farens would disobey Raedyn and sacrifice himself to finish off the last Ash Vampire, and the two would have a tearful bro-ment before his death. I decided against adding another five pages to this monster and just finish this damn thing up. So, Farens lived. Damn it.
With Jormundr, I actually wrote that part about him being a Tongue before Skyrim was even announced, let alone that Dragon Shouts would be integral to the new game. Yes, I knew about those before Skyrim, and yes, Dragon Shouts were in the Lore well before Skyrim went into production. They weren't called Dragon Shouts, however.
Speaking of him, I decided to have Raedyn have a team to go with into Red Mountain because: without some kind of assistance from them, why would I spend so much time getting named Nerevarine and Hortator by the tribes and houses? Also, I figured Raedyn wouldn't realistically be able to take Dagoth Ur out better than the Tribunal would, even with Corprus Disease. So I decided mid-way through the story that the Moon-and-Star would give him some kind of advantage, and some time later that being Nerevarine and Hortator would feed everyone's prayers through that (gameplay-wise useless) ring to give him uber-powers, although it wasn't until about halfway through the chapter that I figured what those powers would actually be. Damn I'm glad I made him an Atronach-born. However, yes, Raedyn using the scrolls of Icarian Flight to escape WAS planned from the beginning.
I'd like to thank every single person who reviewed up until now. I know I made a lot of you wait way longer than you should have, and I hope that fairly tamed ending, showing how Raedyn's finally found a reason to actually live and have hope, would be a worthy ending. This is my first story to have over a hundred reviews, the only one that's lasted for four freaking years, and only the second one I've ever finished.
Again, thank you everyone, sorry about the extremely long waits, and with a little luck, I might make a Skyrim novelization.