THE WHITE WOLF OF LOKKEN MOUNTAIN
(PART 5 OF 10)
A CHAT WITH A WOLF
Well, I know how to change myself into a wolf, but I've never had a conversation with one before. I went into the back part of the cave, and found the big white wolf. He was big, just as others had described him, pure white fur, and deep blue eyes, most unusual for a wolf. "I understand you wish to speak with me? I am Eldorf Dragonmeal." "Yes," replied the wolf, "Snorri told me how you saved my life. I am grateful to you for that. Allow me to introduce myself to you. I am Wulfren, son of Wulfgar."
He stopped, and let that sink in for a moment. The son of Wulfgar, missing for a year, alive, but transformed into a wolf. No wonder Ragner wanted this creature dead.
"Kreikan," the wolf said, "is the one that did this to me. I saw that it was Ragner that killed my father. Kreikan changed me into this white wolf so that Ragner could have the pleasure of hunting me down and putting my head on his trophy room wall. As long as Kreikan is alive, I remain as I am. Snorri has tried to undo the spell, but it's just no good."
I know what it's like to be a beast - I've done it myself a few times already. However, I've always had the option to become human again. Poor Wulfren.
"What can we do about this?" I asked. "Ragner is a powerful warrior, and is surrounded by at least four guards at all times. I know there is at least one weapon that could defeat him, but I don't know....." his voice trailed off.
"What do we need?" I asked. "The Warhammer of Thorjan Bjorgun." was the reply. "But," he added, "it's too heavy for anyone to carry. You'll need 'Thorjan's Gauntlets'. They're enchanted, and will allow anyone who wears them to lift this hammer." I wondered: how heavy his this thing? "How do we get started?" I asked. Wulfren thought for a moment, then suggested I contact Laurenna. She might know someone in the village that has knowledge of the gauntlets. We would definately need those first before even thinking of going after this warhammer. Just in case, I asked Snorri about the warhammer. He had heard of it, but had no idea where it would be. Oh well.
I became a mist once again, and floated back to the castle. No one noticed my arrival, thinking it was just a small cloud in the sky. Good - let them believe that's what they saw.
I changed back to human form behind the castle, out of sight of the castle guard, and walked back up to the hunting lodge. I saw Laurenna, and told her the good news. She was elated that her brother was still alive, but visibly upset that he was a wolf, and that it was Kreikan's fault.
"He's evil. I've known it all along. I KNEW he was behind all of this." "He's probably not behind ALL of it." I corrected her. "Ragner is behind it. Kreikan is a tool, but appears to be a willing tool. We will have to deal with him carefully." "He's obviously a powerful mage to do this kind of permanent spell. How can we ever hope to free my brother from it?" "Don't worry, Laurenna," I reassured her, "your brother and I are working on a plan already."
"Listen, do you know anything about Thorjan's Warhammer, or Thorjan's Gauntlets?" "No," she replied, "but I think if you ask Lisendra, she might know." "The girl with the Winterhold hunting party?" I asked. "The very one." Laurenna replied. "She's a talker, but sometimes you have to get her drunk to get her to spill her guts, if you know what I mean." I knew what she meant. Mead. Lots and lots of mead. I was glad I had brought a decent amount of gold with me. This would not be cheap.
I headed back to the inn, paid for another night, and went back to my room. There, I dumped as much weight as I could, and still be effective in this quest. This warhammer would likely be heavy. That means I would have to travel with only restore health and restore magika potions, a few enchanted items, arrows, and something to keep me from freezing. I hated dropping my daedric hammer, but really had no choice. I didn't think to bring my enchanted "Ring of Weapons" with me, but I knew how to do the spell myself. The spell would create a chestplate, longsword, and shield, strong as anything but as light as a feather for 60 seconds. I could also summon a daedric bow or battle axe for 60 seconds as well. That would have to do.
I found Lisendra in the front section of the inn. She and her hunting party from Winterhold were celebrating a successful hunt, and showing off some of the skins they had gotten. I asked her if we could chat, and she said sure, as long as I bought her a drink. Well, we all knew that was coming, didn't we? I went to the innkeeper, and picked up 6 mugs of mead for her. I guessed that might be enough. It was. She told me that she didn't know exactly where the gauntlets were, but said that two hunters she knew of, Ingemar and Gartheim, might be able to help. She said they were both hunting east of the inn.
It wasn't too cold out, so I packed my robe away. My Nordic clothing kept me pretty warm. I headed out into the wilderness, and sure enough, after about 20 minutes of making footprints in the snow, I came across Gartheim, doing a little hunting on his own.
"Thorjan's Gauntlets, ya say? Aye, I know about them. Don't know where they are, though."
Well, that's not much help, I thought to myself.
"Ya know," he continued, "my friend, Ingemar, he's always talkin' about things like that. I'll bet he'll know where they can be found." "Ok," I said, "can you tell me where to find Ingemar? I thought he'd be with you." "Ya, well, normally, he's with me," Gartheim said, "but he had gone off to explore a snowbear cave he said he knew about. It's off in a mountain side on the north cape of the island." "Oh," I said, "so he might be back shortly, then?" I was hopeful I didn't have to make yet another long walk. No such luck. "No," Gartheim said, "he went off about two days ago. Haven't seen him since. Say, ya think maybe you could go look for him? I'd go, but I have this really keen dislike for bears." "Sure," I said, "I'd be glad to look for him.
Ok, let's summerize: you're a Nord, a hunter, bold-looking, strapping young man, bulging muscles, scary tattoo on your face, and you're afraid of a snowbear. Send the old man instead. Nice.
I headed out to the shore of the island, and saw a plague wolf nearby. Best to put them out of their misery before they put you out of yours. I summoned a daedric bow, and put the beast down with just two arrows.
I could see it would be another long walk, so I changed into a mist again, and floated over the island like a cloud once more. Not fast, but certinly not as much walking involved.
I finally arrived to the north side of the island, and saw a cave below me. Unfortunately, I also saw a bunch of bandits outside of the cave entrance. There was a small outcropping of rock nearby, so I landed gently on to the top of it, and changed back to human form. There were at least 4 raiders, more than I could fight at once. I would need help.
I summoned a dwemer sphere, flame antronch, storm antronch, winged twilight, a hunger, and a skeleton warrior. As the raiders were distracted by all of the fun creatures I had summoned, I brought forth a daedric bow, and used it to dispatch the raiders, one by one.
With the raiders out of the way, my bow spell wore off, and I was once again weaponless. I used a spell of slowfall to jump easily down to the ground, and checked the raiders for anything of value. I didn't want to carry a lot - I was expecting a heavy load soon.
I turned and headed to the entrace of the snowbear's cave. I readied myself with a few weapon spells, took a deep breath, and headed into the cave.
AGAIN, WITH THE RICKLINGS
It turns out this was a very busy cave. I barely had time to activate my sword/shield spell before I was attacked by two rickling raiders and a bonewolf. I had to use a restore health potion in order to survive the attack. A little way further into the cave brought 4 more ricklings, two of them riding a bristleback boar, and two more bonewolves. I was lucky that the sword/shield spell held long enough to finish them off. Just seconds after the last attacker died, the spell disappated, and I was again without weapons.
I continued into the cave and encountered even more ricklings, along with a few hags that created a bonewalker or two. After two of those, I used my amulet of shadows to make myself nearly invisible. I snuck up on the next group of ricklings, summoned a few creatures of my own, and let the whole group play with each other until there was no one left standing but me.
I managed to go all the way to the end of the cave, but didn't see Ingemar anywhere. I made my way back to the front of the cave, and noticed a smaller cave leading off in a different direction. Just a few yards into the cave, I saw a huge female snowbear. Even though I was nearly invisible, she could sense my presence. She roared in my general direction, bearing her long, sharp teeth.
That's when the spell for the amulet of shadows wore off.
With my appearance, she reared up on her hind legs, and roared again. Once again, I summoned my sword and shield. That's when I heard Ingemar. "Help!!" he shouted. "I'm stuck up here. Get me out!"
So much for Nordic bravery.
The snowbear lunged at me, fangs beared. The fangs missed, but her huge forepaw didn't. The impact nearly broke my left arm. Luckly, the daedric shield took most of the blow for me. Strong as anything, yet light as a feather. I struck back with my longsword. This would have to be fast. That sword/shield spell only lasts 60 seconds. If it should fade, it would have to be re-cast, and I didn't know if I'd have the time to do it. My chestplate would also disappear, and I'd be without armor as well.
Again and again, I struck the snowbear. She struck back, trying to grab me by the chest, but my daedric curras protected me from her very, very sharp teeth. I swung again with my longsword, and the huge snowbear finally collapsed.
I found Ingemar in a nitch in the side of this tunnel. "Thank you for saving my life." he said. "That snowbear was just too much for me. She knocked my axe right out of my hands. I was lucky to scramble up into this little corner. It was too small for her to get up into."
I asked him about the ricklings. "Oh, they seemed to have set up shop here shortly after I arrived. They didn't come into this part of the cave. If they had, I'd be dead right now. Too many of them. Personally, I would have rather taken on the snowbear. If there's anything I can do to thank you for saving my life, just name it." Works for me.
"Can you tell me about Thorjan's Gauntlets?" I asked. "Oh, sure, I like to read about lore such as that. According to what I heard, you should be able to find them somewhere in Grundalund Cavern." "Where is that?" I asked. "Oh, not far from here, actually." he replied. "You'll find it on the north-west side of this island. The entrace will be facing the water, and should actually be directly opposite of the entrance to Gyldenhaul Barrow. That's a Nordic-style tomb, you know."
I thanked him for his information, but he stopped me before I could turn. "Moment, friend." he said. "You should know a few things about what you're going into." "I'm listening." I replied.
"The dead live there." he said. "No problem," I replied, "I've been in tombs before, and faced their guardians in the past. I'm still here. They are now sleeping peacefully with their bretheren." Ingemar looked at my squarely in the face and said "Aye, but have ya faced an army of the dead?" "An army you say?" I asked. "Aye, the cavern is said to be guarded by an entire army of the dead. You'll also need a levitation spell or two, just to get up to the entrance. You didn't think you'd just walk into the place and just pick up a pair of gauntlets laying about, did ya?" He winked at me and gave me a knowing grin. "Hmmmm," I said, "I'll have to plan something out going into this." "Be sure ya do, laddie." came the reply. "Anyway, thanks again for saving my life. Too bad about the snowbear. She was protecting her cubs in the next cave. It'll be a shame to let them starve to death."
Ugh. I didn't know there were a couple of bear cubs in here. That's why the snowbear was so angry. She was protecting her babies.
I went into the end of the side tunnel, and there they were. They looked at me with big, dark eyes, as if wondering who was going to take care of them now.
I told each one of them to follow me, and they did. I guess I was their daddy now.
We headed out of the cave, and I replaced some of my damaged fur armor with that of the raiders that I had killed earlier outside of the cave entrance.
I had kind of an idea of where Ingemar meant to point me, so the three of us headed down a slope, towards the shore.
I saw the Gyldenhul Barrow across the water on a small island. Hard to miss, it's the only one there. I told my bearcubs to wait for me by the shore. They looked very sad at me. Was I going to abandon them in the wild??? I assured them I would be back shortly. They went over to a hollyberry bush and nibbled on berries. I figured that would keep them busy for a short while, anyway.
I went up the side of the mountain as high as I could go. I finally came to the edge of a cliff and could go no higher. Ingemar was right: I'd need levitation to go further up.
The belt of flight was good for 60 seconds, but I would have to look for the entrace, which might take longer than that. I decided to use the transformation spell once again, and changed into a mist. I was then able to float up slowly and gently, looking for the entrace to Grundalund Cavern.
It took more than 60 seconds, but I found the entrace, landed gently, and transformed back into my very handsome self.
After my encounter with the ricklings in the snowbear cave, I took what Ingemar said to heart. This might be a bit of a problem, since I hadn't brought a lot of equipment with me. I really wished I had brought my ring of weapons along for the trip; at least then I wouldn't have to constantly recast the spell myself over and over. Well, I would have to make do with what I with me.
This time, before walking into an attack, I decided I'd better have a plan. I would use Aryon's Helper, which I received from Master Aryon of House Telvani. It would summon several creatures to fight in my place. I also made sure all of my Rings of Leaches were fully charged. They would absorb health from whatever their spell hit, but most of them were only good for one shot at a time. I also made sure that Dracula's Ring was fully charged. Not as powerful as the leach rings, but good for a number of shots from a safe position. I activated my Amulet of Shadows, and became nearly invisible. With that, I opened the cavern door, and stepped inside.