I was back to my normal old self, beard and everything. After this harrowing experience, I needed to take a break from just about everything.  I sold the items I had managed to teleport home with me, put a few things in my inventory and telported to Sadrith Mora.  I went to the Telvani Council Chambers and let Fast Eddie know that I was a "normal" person now, and to let me know if there was anything that required my attention.  He seemed to be relieved that I was no longer "looking at his neck" all the time.  I walked to the boat dock and asked the nice man there where to go for some peace and quiet.  He jokingly suggested that my stronghold was the perfect place, being in the middle of nowhere.  After we both stopped laughing, he suggested a quiet fishing village to the north called Dagon Fel.  I had to go to that region for one of the propylon indexes, so I knew where it was.  No adventure for me on this trip, I just wanted to rent a room at the inn and take a couple of days off.

So, after several hours listening to the waves lapping at the side of the boat, I finally arrived at the docks.  It was just a short walk to "The End of the World" inn.  I inquired about a room for several days, gave the appropriate amount of gold for the night, and went upstairs to find my room.

It was pretty nice, so since it was about 8pm, I decided to take a long, 12-hour nap.  This was perfect - no quests staring me in the face, no vampires to deal with, no creatures trying to have me for dinner.  I was truly on vacation.

And bored.

So, of course, I had to have a chat with some of the locals.  I asked if there was any action going on in the local area.  They said that there were the local Dwemer ruins, of course, but one half-drunk Nord suggested taking a boat further north.  North?  "Sure," he suggested with a glazed look in his eyes.  "They say there's a huge castle north of Solstheim.  The owner of it passed away a short time ago.  Some of the rumors are that if you can find a 'key' of some kind, the castle is yours."

"What happened to the previous owner?" I asked.  "Aegir Brondolf?  No one is sure how he died.  Some say it was under mysterious circumstances.  I knew of this Nord, brave one, he was.  Made a name for himself in Skyrim by killing ten bears in just one week.  Brought the pelts back on the back of a bear he had captured and turned into a pack animal.  You don't get tougher Nords than that.  If anyone deserved a castle, aye, it would have been Aegir."  

Ok, I'm impressed, but to find a "key"?  Was that all?

Well, not exactly.  "If you're going there, ye had better be bringing your warm clothes.  It's a might cold for someone like you up there."  Ah, well, I knew there was a catch.  Good thing I had brought a few warm things with me already.

We had a few beers, he sang a couple of Nord warrior songs, and then it was 11pm.  I bid him goodnight, and headed off to bed.  When the morning came, I got up, and went to the boat docks.  It was nice being able to see the sun rise in the morning, and not have to hide from it.  I told the boat captain where I was going, and with a few pieces of gold crossing her palms, we headed to Solstheim Castle.  Just a few hours into the trip, I found out that the Nord was telling the truth.  It was getting cold.  I put on my warm robe that I had brought with me.

I was prepared for the cold.  I was not prepared for the sight that met my eyes when we pulled into the docks late that evening.  Snow.  Lots and lots of snow.  I remembered snow when I was a child in High Rock, but being in the Imperial prisons all these years and taken it out of my memory.  




I could see the castle entrance in front of me.  Just the outside gate was impressive.  It was already very late in the evening, so I decided to hit the sack for the night and investigate this castle in the light of the morning sun.






I found myself at the entrace of Davy Jones' Locker, a seedy little joint that someone at the docks said had rooms for the night.  That is, if I could stand the noise.  "Depends on the noise." I said.  "Oh, dancing, music, fighting.  That sort of thing." was the reply.  I decided to take my chances and sauntered into the place as if I owned it.





Oh, yes, even the owner was drinking his socks off.  "Yeah, I'm Davy, and yeah, this here's my locker.  Don't make a mesh.  I mish her, you know, thish lovely thing I used to know.  You wanna drink?"  I thanked him, took a bottle that had some strange marking on it and laid a few pieces of gold on the table for him.  I would see he was a very busy man and didn't want to take up too much of his valuable time.  He screamed about a bet with the fighters coming up at midnight and asked if I wanted to place a bet.  I didn't respond.



I found the fighters just a few feet away from the front desk.  Couple of Nord toughs they were.  Asked me if I wanted to bet on the fight coming up at midnight.  I said I would consider it.  






An Argonian hissed at me.  "You want to maybe guess where the pearl isssss?  One of these sssshells has a most beautiful pearl under it.  Guess which one, ssssstranger, and it will be yours for the taking."  Argonian's always hiss at you when they talk.  I guess it has to do with that strange tongue they have - it keeps coming at you when you least expect it.  

I looked at the three shells, and decided that this would be a bet that I'd never win.  I had heard of this type of bet before.  The pearl is always under one of the two shells you never pick.  I decided not to take him up on his lovely offer.  I asked him his name.  It was "He's-gotta-deep-pockets".  I decided that I had decided correctly in not trying to place a bet with him.

I found out where the music was coming from - it was a couple of minstrals that had come all the way from Hammerfell.  They asked me where I was from.  When I told them I was from High Rock, they started to play a tune called the Breton Jig.  It sounded foreign at first, but as the song played on, I started to remember things.  A lost childhood, a land I barely remembered, parents I never knew.



It was late at night, and as the music played out, all of the pressures and tribulations of the last few months seemed to disappear.  There was no trouble here tonight, no battles to be fought, no monsters to defeat, no blood to be spilled, just happy feelings in the room.  The music played on, and for the first time in 50 years, Eldorf Dragonmeal, Arch-mage of the Mage's Guild, Champion of the Fighter's Guild, Archmagister of the Great House Telvani, former prisoner of the Emperor, and former vampire, finally cracked a smile.