Part 28: The Elder Updates XXVIII - Bruma is TerribleBruma is Terrible
Bruma's not far from here. Perhaps I'll head on into town, do some work for the Mages Guild.
Or...anything else, really.
All I want to do is get out of the wilderness and into civilization for a bit.
See the sights, maybe commit a good old-fashioned burglary, and-
ENOUGH WITH THE WOLVES.
Dreadful creatures. At any rate, I will go to Bruma, and I will find something to occupy my time. Ideally, this thing will turn a profit so that I can-
CUT IT OOOOOOOUUUUUUUUTTTT.
I suppose at the very least it affords me a reason to practice my repair skills.
Now. To Bruma.
I'll just pick up some, uh...
..human blood, first.
Ahh, Bruma. A bit nippy, but the stonework is nice.
Hm. Where's the Mages Guild?
Let's see...temple, houses...
Do some work, get a spell or two...this'll be nice.
...oh, right. It's the dead of night.
No big deal. I'll just get some shuteye.
A night in a warm bed is a rare luxury these days.
...okay, this is getting silly.
It really is oddly bare in here. I swear the NPCs never come up to this main room.
Ahh, there's someone.
And hello self shadows!
If you ever need anything, just let me know. I have friends in all sorts of high places, you know, so I can get things done that others can't. And if I can do something for you, I'd be happy to! Someday, maybe you could return the favor!
Could you write me a recommendation, then?
A recommendation, from me? Well, of course. Raminus would naturally want my opinion, wouldn't he?
This is a situation we can both benefit from, Associate. You do me a small favor, and I'll happily send along a glowing recommendation. If you can find J'skar, I'll write the recommendation immediately.
You've...lost a guild member?
I mean he's really disappeared. No one here has seen him in days. Volanaro thinks maybe a spell backfired. If someone from the Council were to stop by, and find him gone, it'd look bad for me. I can't have that.
And you're worried about J'skar. ...aren't you?
Talk to the mages here, and see what you can find out. If you can make J'skar re-appear, you'll have your recommendation.
Right, then. I'll start my questioning the mages.
Perhaps they're all in the living quarters?
Volanaro, is it? Tell me, have you seen J'skar?
Hmm? Oh, Jeanne has you looking for him, does she? I'm afraid you're not going to find him easily. I think a...er...a spell backfired. That's probably it.
Really now? You know, I've been working on my alchemy.
Recently found a way to turn gold into information.
How nice! It's just what I wanted.
All right, I think I can help with that. But you have to agree to do something for me, first. And whatever you do, you can't tell Jeanne about it. All right?
Okay. What is it?
That's the spirit! You help me pull off a little prank, and I'll help you find J'skar.
A prank, you say?
Heh. Really, you're going to love this. I'll teach you a spell to unlock things. What you need to do is get into Jeanne's desk, and bring me her Manual of Spellcraft, okay?
I...don't exactly need a spell for this.
You don't really like Jeanne much, do you?
With all due respect to our wonderful leader...she couldn't cast her way out of a paper sack. It's insulting that we're here, working for her, when she knows nothing. She's managed to butter up the right people just enough to keep her position, and there's little we can do about it. But we have our ways of coping with the situation.
Just up here, then.
One Manual of Spellcraft, as promised.
You've got Jeanne's book, I see. All right, then. I'll just take that from you...meet me in the living quarters just after 10 PM.
Well. This leaves me with no shortage of time to kill.
Might as well get the magic items repaired.
And sell off these artifacts.
I suppose I still need to rob someone...
A crime scene?
The culprit in this crime has already been dealt with. It's juts a matter of wrapping up the details. I'd tell you more, but frankly, I don't know who you are, so I'm not sure that I can trust you with that sort of information.
Oh, you can trust me. I'm a friend of the SEPTIMS.
I suppoe there's no harm in telling you what happened. Word is bound to get around Bruma anyway.
So what DID happen?
Turns out that Bradon Lirrian is a vampire. Or was. If it wasn't for Raynil Dralas, we may never have uncovered the truth. Let me explain.
The bodies were those of some beggars who used to wander the streets looking for handouts. Vampire probably thought no one would miss them.
Luckily for us, Raynil arrived in town. He said he was a vampire hunter, so we asked for his help.
Luckily, Bradon's wife wasn't home. Poor thing, she didn't even know her husband was infected.
We did a follow up investigation, and it's true that no one recollects seeing Bradon out in the daylight. He's only been spotted at night.
I just want to point out that I love the little red flag in the guard's dialog. If the player's familiar with how vampirism works, they'll KNOW something's up. Nice little detail.
I'll do just that.
Please...please. I need your help. My husband was no vampire! It's ridiculous! No one will listen to me!
Please, calm down. I want to help.
Forgive me. I loved my husband dearly, and to lose him this way makes no sense. Anything you can do to help would be wonderful.
Easy, now. Tell me what happened.
I came home only just a few hours ago. I found the door open, and my Bradon dead. Standing over him was a Dunmer. I screamed and ran out into the street. Some city watch were nearby and heard me I suppose, as they arrived quickly.
The guards seemed to know about Raynil, and after a search of the house, the body of some beggar was found stashed in our basement. The guards sent for Carius, who is an investigator for crimes here in Bruma. In minutes, Raynil convinced Carius that Bradon was a vampire.
The cellar-corpse DOES make Bradon look bad.
Well of course it does! It was obviously planted here. Why would he stash a body n his own house? That's ridiculous!
He works at night, and has to sleep during the day. Why does that make him a vampire?
It's very circumstantial.
It's all that Raynil character. I don't trust him. The thing that bothers me the most is that I swear I've seen him before. Of course he says he's never been here.
Of course he would.
Look, there isn't much more to say. Please...help me clear my husband's name.
Right then. Time to investigate.
Strange indeed, but I don't think talking to random townsfolk is getting me anywhere.
The local bar would be a good place to find information.
Gosh, I'm sure we'll never see this guy and his unique dialog ever again.
What can I do for you today?
Might you know anything about the late Bradon Lirrian?
I know I might be out of line by saying this, but I think the city guards may be wrong. It's hard to imagine Bradon was a vampire.
I'm with you on that.
I could have sworn I saw him outside in the daylight before. Unless he just got that disease very recently, I'd say they were mistaken.
And what of our great and powerful vampire hunter, Raynil Dralas?
I don't usually give out that kind of information. Especially to people I don't know.
Would you volunteer that kind of information to my friend DRAKE?
See? Was that hard? Raynil is staying in the last room down the hall upstairs. Here's the key.
Olav, you're awesome.
Now, let's see...
Anything in here?
"Gelebourne's Journal". Let's have a look.
Gelebourne's Journal posted:
The eighth day has passed, and still there's no sign of the artifact. We've covered most of the remainder of the outer guard tower, and scoured the crumbled gatehouse ruins, but not one clue has arisen as to where it may have been buried.
It's quiet out here, as if the ruins were paying respects to the Ayleid inhabitants that disappeared here long ago. We haven't encountered anything hostile, but if we do, I think we're ready. The Brotherhood's been in worse scrapes before. Bradon paid good money for the information as to our treasure's whereabouts, and I hope it doesn't turn out to be yet another fiasco.
This morning, our camp was set upon by some bandits who were protecting what they claimed was their territory. Considering that we were outnumbered three to one, we did very well. Only Raynil suffered a small wound, but that was easily healed by a potion that Bradon had thoughtfully brought with him on our expedition.
After getting rid of the bandit's corpses, we set out to tackle the largest part of the ruin, the remains of the great keep. Two of the walls of the once-mighty structure were collapsed, scattering the telltale whitish rock so typical of the Ayleid architecture in this part of Tamriel. This made our assault on the ruin difficult, as many of the larger chunks of wall were far too heavy for us to move.
Bradon suggested that we search the center of the building's foundation for any underground entrances, which was typical for this type of keep. His guess paid off, and after several hours of backbreaking work, we managed to clear an opening just large enough for us to squeeze through and enter an ancient stairwell leading down into the ground. We decided to wait until morning's light to begin our descent into the depths of the ruin.
After a restless sleep, all of us were quite excited at the prospect of what might lie ahead. Eagerly, we dipped our torches in a fresh container of pitch, lit them, and entered the inky blackness of the stairwell.
The stale air was choked with dust and fine grit, a sign that no one had entered this portion of the ruins in a very long time. We became excited, as that meant no other tomb robbers had gotten there before us.
The stairwell eventually leveled out into a corridor of sorts that snaked its way to the north. As we carefully walked along, I scanned the floor and walls very carefully for any type of triggers, tripwires or pressure plates; such was my specialty. The Ayleid were well known for their cunning traps protecting their tombs, and I wasn't taking any chances.
Bradon, the scholar of the Brotherhood, was getting more and more excited as we traversed the passage; he was translating the wall carvings and was becoming certain that we had finally found the true location of our prize. After walking for several more minutes, we were overjoyed to see what we were hoping to see: the hallway ended at a metal door with the carving of a spider upon it.
Now came the true test of Bradon's information. The door supposedly had a puzzle lock; by pulling the spider legs in a certain combination, it would unlatch. The wrong combination would spell our deaths, perhaps triggering a collapse of the hallway or some other equally deadly trap. With a shaky hand, I pulled the legs one by one in the order I had memorized: the sixth one, then the first one, the second one, the eighth one, and finally the first one again.
I closed my eyes, as there were a few loud clicks and then the door popped open. We all breathed a sigh of relief. Pushing open the door, I looked in at a huge room with a pedestal at the center. Sitting on the pedestal illuminated by a shaft of sunlight from a tiny hole in the ceiling was our prize.
The floor was covered in a huge mosaic of a stylized spider, all eight of its legs coming to a point and ending up at the door entrance. This was the last of the traps the Ayleid left behind to protect their treasure. Again, if it hadn't been for Bradon's skill at acquiring information, we may never had known how to solve this last line of defense.
I instructed Bradon and Raynil to remain at the entrance and to tie a rope around my waist in case of a sudden pitfall. Carefully, I began to walk on the darkened tiles that formed the third leg of the spider. Sweat beaded on my forehead, as the pathway made by the tiny pieces of ceramic was very narrow at the start, and one slip could again mean instant death.
But death never arrived. The information had been correct, and I was able to make it to the pedestal and secure the artifact! Quickly as possible, we made our way back and out into the daylight. Once again, the Brotherhood was triumphant and it was time to return home.
At the tavern that night, we decided to make a pact. We would stash the artifact in a cave not far from Bruma until we researched it further. An item of its magnitude could be very dangerous if mishandled, and we certainly didn't want to sell it without understanding its true value. Bradon agreed to contract a local cooper to construct a chest with three locks. Each of us would hold a key to one of the locks so none would have access to the artifact without the others being present. For the rest of the evening, we drank merrily and sang many a song of adventures passed, and adventures to come.
Hmm. Starting to get a clear picture here. That Raynil wants the treasure to himself, so he's picking off his comrades for the keys.
You know anything about a Gelebourne?
Gelebourne? That's odd you should mention that name. Raynil told me that he was the last vampire he hunted.
Yeah, that's right. Somewhere in Skingrad I believe. He said he tracked Gelebourne down and killed him. That's apparently why the guards trust him so readily. They had gotten word from Skingrad's city watch about Raynil and his so-called accomplishment.
I believe I have an investigation to blow the lid off of.
Just look for me if you need anything else.
Carius needs to see this journal.
What's this about?
Countess Carvain would prefer if you speak to her in person. She also said to present you with this stipend as a taste of things to come. [25 gold added]
I DO like coin.
My lady holds court from 8 in the morning until 6 in the evening each day. That would be the best time to see her.
Well, it's not out of the way or anything.
I've heard much about your deeds from my people in Bruma.
I trust that the stipend Tolgan gave you whetted your appetite?
That and the intrigue.
Good point. Allow me to formally introduce myself. I'm Countess Narina Carvain. I assume you've noticed all the Akaviri relics I'm displaying.
In fact, I'd be so bold as to proclaim my collection the most complete in all Cyrodiil; perhaps even beyond. Except for one thing.
I see where this is going.
A particular relic has eluded me for many years. Possessing this piece of Akaviri antiquity would make my collection complete.
And that would be...?
I'm of course referring to The Draconian Madstone.
...yes, of course. Tell me about this Madstone.
The stone is a fine bit of Akaviri craftsmanship. Worn like an amulet, this talisman is said to protect the wearer from poisons of any type.
The Madstone appears as a snake coiled around and encircling itself. The eyes of the snake are supposed to be precious gems or some such.
And where can I find it?
Through my sources, I've learned that the last reported location of the Madstone was the ruins at Pale Pass.
Are you familiar with the history of Pale Pass?
Not unless it's particularly important to finding the amulet, no.
Look, there's no need to be rude. I just thought it might have been interesting to you.
Anyway, the Madstone.
If you retrieve the Draconian Madstone for me, I'll be happy to compensate you by rewarding you with another Akaviri artifact. Are you game?
I had a feeling you'd accept. Good. Then let me tell you how you're going to find the Madstone.
Here's a translation of the passages we could still read. It was quite damaged. I've also included a rough map that was drawn in the diary as well.
The map will go a long way, I'm sure.
I'm also providing you with a unique key that was supposedly found with the diary. I'm assuming it will prove useful when you arrive at the site.
All right, then.
I'll study this translation later. Right now, I've got a "vampire hunter" to expose.
So, any new revelations in your...mmmn...investigation?
There's something you may want to know about Gelebourne.
How'd you know about that? Agh...too many people don't know how to keep quiet about official matters. Very well.
Oh, but I disagree.
What do you mean you disagree? That's a bold statement. What proof do you have that Gelebourne was not a vampire?
I heard no mention of a key either. It must have bene removed by Raynil from Bradon's body before we arrived.
Of course it was. That's WHY HE KILLED HIM.
To think that two innocent men were killed, and that I'm responsible for one of their deaths...I...I'm speechless.
And so, at Olav's Tap and Tack...
Raynil was spotted heading west out of Bruma. The scout tried to follow, but lost him in the mountains.
Going after the treasure, perhaps?
The only cave to the west that comes close to the one described in Gelebourne's journal is Boreal Stone Cave. That must be where he's headed.
I'm keeping the city guard in Bruma, as Raynil doesn't know we're after him. If he sees a guard, he may panic and run.
You're my only hope at the moment. Please, you have my authorization to do everything you can to bring him to justice.
Everything, you say?
If he won't surrender, I think you know what to do.
Hurry, I fear you have a day at the most to stop him.
Right! Off I-
Oblivion, ladies and gentlemen!
Anyway, I've got to stop Raynil!
Boreal Stone Cave, ho!
Two bandits and a brisk jog later...
I hope I'm not too late.
Congratulations. I had a feeling you would catch on sooner or later. Leaving that journal behind was a stupid mistake on my part.
We all slip up sooner or later, Raynil.
I saw you enter Olav's Tap and Tack before I could get there, and I knew that I had to sneak out of Bruma somehow. It was only a matter of time before you or Carius figured it out. No matter. After I've killed you-
OH, SHUT UP!
I think I'll hang on to the dwarfmail for weight training for a while, though.
For those of you playing along at home, that's a fancy way of saying I'll be switching to light armor in a level or two when I'm happy with Sterv's endurance.
I'll want these keys, of course...
Let's see what secrets they unlock.
...hm. Well, I'm sure Erline would want it.
Back to Bruma, then!
Raynil is dead. He was after a treasure he had retrieved along with Gelebourne and your husband some years ago, and took the keys from their dead bodies. Here is the, er...treasure.
Long ago I made a promise to Bradon. I promised to never reveal to anyone what I'm about to reveal to you now.
Bradon told me about this amulet when the first brought it home from whatever distant land it came from. He never really trusted anyone else in the group, and before he secured the treasure in that cave, he had a special enchantment placed upon it.
An enchantment, you say.
The magic masks the true identity of the item. All it takes is a simple command word, and the amulet woudl be restored to its true state.
Did the word die with Bradon?
No. He always feared this day would come. He left me knowledge of the word in the event that he died and I came into possession of the keys. If the other members of Bradon's group were still alive, and I on my deathbed, only then would I pass the knowledge on to them.
He certainly planned ahead.
If you'd give me that amulet, I would like to show you what you've recovered.
Of course. Here it is.
Thank you. I will now speak the word.
Here is the amulet back. It's as beautiful as it was the day I remember seeing it long ago. I want you to keep it, as I have no use for this anymore.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope that the amulet helps keep you safe on whatever roads you may travel.
Not a bad amulet at all! Might be taking the place of Cruelty's Heart before long.
And now to see Volanaro about finding J'skar.
Just need to wait until the agreed upon time.
What do you mean?
Just watch. You'll see.
Don't be mad. We were just having some fun.
We just get tired of Jeanne lording her position over us, when she barely knows anything about magic. Every now and then, we like to trick her.
We figured it was time to move on to a new prank. This one was getting boring, anyway. So you can tell her you've found me!
You guys are pricks.