We entered the stronghold quietly. There were sounds of machines turning, things clicking, steam-powered devices doing whatever it was they had been doing for thousands of years. I found a box of torches and gave them to Laurenna, since I had my enchanted helmet that give me night vision.


"Have you ever been in a Dwemer stronghold?" I asked. "No, I have seen them before," she said, "but I've never had cause to go inside of them." "Ok," I said, "I'll lead the way. Stay close behind me. Remember, there were footsteps leading into this place, so there might be bandits or smugglers in here."

Laurenna agreed, and we started our decent into the depths of this place.    


We made our way carefully down the edge of the cave wall. The walkway had collapsed long ago but there was still a loose collection of stones and outcropping along the side of the wall. Just then, I noticed a bandit or smuggler standing on the lower part of the structure. "Can you hit him from way back here?" Laurenna asked. "Oh, certainly, just watch this." I said. I summoned a spell of God's Fire and the bandit was dead in 20 seconds.        


We found one more bandit patroling the area. Laurenna proved most deadly with her broadsword.      


We found two more bandits within the structure. As the ventured deeper into this place, we found machines still chugging away, doing ..... something. In all these years, no one has ever yet figured out exactly what these machines do.   


We continued our search into the lower sections of the stronghold. As we turned a corner, we were attached by a bandit with a short dagger. I hit him with a spell of Medusa's Gaze, and Laurenna finished him off with her broadsword.

"Listen," she chided, "next time you see someone coming at me with a dagger, don't paralyze him, ok? They aren't as much fun if they just stand still like a statue." "Yes, dear." I replied.


We found a number of bandits as we ventured in further and further, but no puzzlebox as a prize. What we did gain, for all our trouble, was a number of rubies and diamonds, along with several pieces of raw ebony and scrap metal. "This is very heavy." she said, as she picked up a dwemer cog. "Yes, they are," I replied, "and they bring a good price if you sell them to the right merchants in town. The probolem is getting them all back home."


We continued our trek, going down more and more stairs. One set of stairs led to a grating, and the heat coming from underneath it was almost unbearable. Under the grating was hot, molten lava, the power source for this entire stronghold.

It was always known from early explorations that the Dwemer race had used geothermal energy. What they did with it is another question.


We went down yet another set of stairs, then arrived at a locked door. I had to use a lock-pick to get it open. As we entered the next chamber, we heard the sharp clanking of a mechanical creature walking towards us. It was a centurion spider. It came at us quickly, spewing a poisonous gas at the two of us. I stabbed it with my jinx sword, paralyzing it, and Laurenna charged ahead, cutting it down with just two strokes of her sword.


In yet another chamber, we found a centurion sphere, and it was pretty hard for the two of us to take down. "Are you injured?" I asked Laurenna. "Yes, a little, I'll try one of your health potions."

Try she did, and the healing effects worked their magic on her quickly. In no time, she was back to her fully powerful self.

"Do you make these yourself?" she asked. "Of course," I replied, "that's why they taste so good." "Ha ha, very funny." she replied, in a very sarcastic tone.

After doing a little searching, I found a huge hole on the other side of a steam-powered turbine. It was a cave connected directly to the edge of the wall, possibly an ore mine. We decided that since we can this far, we may as well see where this leads.  Who knows? Maybe there'll be a puzzlebox in it.


Inside the mine chamber, we found several Dwemer machines lumbering about, including a reinforced steam centurion that nearly ended my life, had Laurenna not intervened.

I gave her a big hug and a kiss, and then we continued into the mine.

We finally came to the end of the tunnel, and found a huge chamber, with a structure 3 stories high on the other side of a pool of water.

"Do you want to get wet?" I asked her. "No, not really." she replied. "Ok, then," I said, "wait here and I'll levitate up and see if there's anything worth finding. Wait for me here, ok." Laurenna said she'd wait. I could only hope I'd find a puzzlebox way down here, just to make the trip back up to the top worth all this walking.