THE IMPERIAL LIBRARY
I didn't sleep well that night. Thoughts of dragons, the Sixth House, and so on, keep running through my head. It was around 5 am that I finally decided that I had enough and got up.
"You couldn't sleep either, could you?" Laurenna asked. "You too?" I said. "No," she replied, "I kept having this dream about a man wearing a golden mask. Every time it started, I would wake up."
I remembered that dream. I had one of them myself not too long ago. I surmised that they might have something to do with the Sixth House, but I wasn't certain. Other people in Balmora and Vivic had reported having such dreams. There had to be some kind of connection. I just couldn't confirm it.
We both headed to the stilt strider stand and bought passage to Vivic. As it was only 5 am, there was no need to rush, since everyone we'd want to talk to were probably still sound asleep.
The stilt strider lumbered over the countryside in it's typical, slow manner, and it was around 2 hours later that we finally arrived at the outskirts of Vivic.
As we left the stilt strider, we could see the tallest canton, the Foreign Quarter, arching into the sky, as if to demand the attention of all who approached it.
As we entered the area, we were met by one of the ordinators, the guards of the city.
"Move along, scum!" was his only statement. I felt that he needed an attitude adjustment.
"So, good sir, what rumors are there?" I said, as I slipped him 100 gold pieces.
"Ah, so good to see you." he replied, attitude now adjusted properly. "You know, there are a lot of people complaining about nightmares, bad dreams, that they're unable to sleep at night."
"Yes," I replied, "I have noticed this as well."
"Another thing," he said, is that you should be careful. Several outlanders have been killed in the city recently, throats cut before they had a chance to defend themselves. Not only that, but two ordinators were also killed in the same fashion."
I thanked him for this information, then asked him to direct us to the Library. He pointed to the south. I could not tell through his mask if he was smiling or not, but I could see that the most powerful weapon at my disposal here was going to be gold.
After continuing south through the city, we finally arrived at the Hall of Justice building, which also houses the Library of Wisdom, as well as the High Fane, the Temple Headquarters.
Over the building, we noticed a huge rock floating weightless, with a walkway around it's equator. I had heard of this place: the infamous "Ministry of Truth". According to stories I had heard, this is where you are sent if you are out of line with the official temple teachings.
In a way, I was glad I did not have business to tend to there. Just looking at it, and knowing what it was for, gave me the creeps.
Once inside the canton, we found a long maze of tunnels leading to a number of other hallways and doors.
It took us a while to find the door for the library.
Once in the Library of Wisdom, we found Mehra easily.
"Mehra?" I asked. "Oh, it's you." she replied. "Follow me to the back part of the library, please."
I could tell she was nervous, especially since there was an ordinator not more than 3 feet behind her.
I shut up and followed her without another word to the back section of the library.
"We can talk here." she said, finally.
"I have a few questions concerning the Sixth House and the Nerevarine Cult." I said. "What can you tell me?"
"Well," she replied, "the Temple worships Nerevar as a saint and hero, but prophecies of his reincarnation are punished as wicked heresy."
"Well, if he is a hero," I asked, "wouldn't they want to have him back?"
Mehra thought for a moment, then said "Well, the Nerevarine cult claims the Tribunal are false gods, hence the Temple's persecution of the cult believers. Now, a group calling themselves "The Dissident Priests" dispute the Temple doctrine on these prophecies."
"Is there any way to gain further insight into their differences?" I asked.
"Yes," she replied, "You can find out what they believe in if you read the book 'The Progress of Truth.' This book describes their beliefs. Get a copy of this book for Caius Cosades, and that will tell him what he needs to know about this Nerevarine Cult."
"I assume I might find a copy of the book in Vivic?" I asked.
"Try Jobasha, in the Foreign Quarter." she said. "It's rare, but he might have it."
"What can you tell me about the Tribunal." I asked. "Exactly who or what are they?"
"Mehra looked around to make sure the ordinator wasn't in earshot, then replied, "They are Almalexia, Vivec, and Sotha Sil. They are the mortal guardians who walked the earth, defeated the Dunmer's greatest enemies, the Nords, and the Dwarves." She paused for a moment, then added, "They achieved divine substance through superhuman discipline and virtue through supernatural wisdom and insight."
I thought over the three names. Vivec was one of the so-called "living gods" and was supposed to reside right in this city, bearing his name. Almalexia and Sotha Sil were supposed to reside in the capitol city of Mournhold. If they were truly alive, they would be over a thousand years old by now. That was an interesting thought.
"What about the persecution of this cult?" I asked.
"Well, it's an Ashlander cult, you know, primitive superstition, according to the Temple. The cult members believe that the Tribunal are false gods, though I've never understood why the Temple wastes so much energy worrying about them. After all, the faithful cannot be shaken by such attacks, and the Ashlanders are just ignorant savages. However, since the submission of the Temple to the Empire, and the erosion of faith among the Dunmer, the militant wing of the Temple is increasingly fierce in its attacks on the heretics and heathens."
"Can you tell me a little about the book "Progress of Truth?"
Mehra hushed me quickly, as an ordinator patrolled nearby. She made out as if she was pointing out an interesting book for Laurenna. As soon as the ordinator turned the corner, she replied.
"This book lists the disputes that the Dissident Priests have with the Tribunal Temple doctrines. The Temple has outlawed the sale or possession of the book, so it will be hard to find. There is a copy here in the library, but I fear I'm being watched by the ordinators. Some booksellers ignore Temple bans on outlawed books, so check with some of the local booksellers, such as Jobasha."
"You think you are being watched?" asked Laurenna.
"Yes," said Mehra, "I don't care for the Temple politics, but I have read Progress of Truth, and it troubles me. I have friends, former priests, who have gone into hiding, so I am bound to come to the attention of the ordinators. I'm no secret agent like you or Caius, and sooner or later, I, too, must go into hiding eventually. When you return to Caius, tell him I am worried, and that if something goes wrong, I will leave a message under the agreed code word 'amaya.'"
"What about these Nerevarine prophecies? What is so special about them?" I asked.
"The Ashlanders have a mystical tradition of interpreting dreams and visions as prophecies. These prophecies are recorded in verse, and may be lost or garbled over the generations. Never-the-less, the Dissident Priests have collected many ancient prophecies of the Nerevarine, many of which they believe to be genuine. Collectively, these are called the 'Lost Prophecies of the Incarnate.' One of the sacred missions of these priests is the collection and study of these prophecies."
"Anything more that you can tell me about the Dissident Priests?"
"Certainly." she replied. "They dispute Temple doctrine. Because of that, they are outlawed and persecuted by the Temple. Ordinators arrest and imprison heretics, and by treaty, the Empire cannot interfere. In brief, they challenge the purity and divinity of the Tribunal, suggesting that their powers are sorcerous, not divine. They even go so far as to say the powers are akin to those of Dagoth Ur."
I pondered that last statement for a moment. The Tribunal, the same as Dagoth Ur, so-called head of the Sixth House? Hmmmm.
I took down some quick notes and thanked Mehra for her time.
We were about to leave when I noticed a familiar face behind the bookshelf we were standing next too. It was Illwing Redwood.
"Ah, Eldorf, you survived I see." came his jovial greeting. "I came here to research some things, and I think I have found the one behind the dragon attacks."
"Please, continue." I said.
"Well, some time ago, one of my colleagues, a wizard at the service of the emperor called Julius Estius, discovered an ancient artifact known as the staff of Tharn. He thought the staff would give it's owner the power to control the dragons, but he soon realized that the staff itself was incomplete."
"What was incomplete about it?" I asked.
"Well, Julius found out that the staff needed the Gem of Peryite in order for the power inside to be unleashed. He left us, myself, and a few other wizards, to find that gem. That is the reason why I am here on this island now. I've been reading many ancient manuscripts to find the location of this gem."
"Do you think you found where it might be?" I asked.
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I think I found it's location." he replied. "According to what I have found out, it should be in a dungeon called Dagerloft. I fear that Julius went ahead and found this gem already. None of us wizards have heard anything about his status for a while. I feel he wants this power for himself. The wizards decided that the staff should be used only for good, if at all. A thing of such power should not be taken lightly, but if his plans are as you have reported, then he must be stopped!"
I thought about this for a moment, the said, "I don't understand. Snidzog told me that the one responsible for the current plague of dragons across the land is called 'Unthoiz', so you will understand my confusion with this contradiction."
Illwing gave me a quizzed look on his face. "You said Unthoiz? He isn't a person. He was one of the most powerful dragons, and according to legend, he was one of the dragons that refused the alliance with the empire. He then left this world, from what I understand."
"It seems he has returned." I replied.
"Well, then, you need to get to Dagerloft and resolve this issue. The dungeon is near Sheogorath, in the northern part of Vvardenfell. Good hunting, sir."
TIP-TOE THROUGH THE SEWERS
Well, at least I knew where my next dragon hunt would be.
After this discussion, Laurenna and I headed back to the Foreign Quarter by way of the St. Olms canton, and asked a few people (by way of a few gold pieces), where we could find Addhiranirr. After asking a few people, one person said that Addhiranirr was hiding because there was a Census and Excise agent in the area, and that she was probably hiding down in the underworks.
"Oh good," I thought to myself, "Yet another reason to go running through the sewers."
Well, a check of the waste works proved futile, so, we finally caved in and decided to use the trap door and search the sewers for our illusive kitty.
"You know," I said to Laurenna, "you could have waited for me upstairs."
"And miss this wonderful smell?" she snorted. "All I know is," she added, "is that after this, you're buying dinner."
I also heard her mumble to herself something about how she was going to get the smell out of her dress, but I figured I had better not say anything. After all, I didn't have a spell that got rid of sewer smell from clothes.
After what seemed like hours (it was only a few minutes, but with sewer smell, it seems like hours), we finally encountered Addhiranirr.
"Addhiranirrrrrrr, I am." she said, "You help this one, and this one will answer your questions. Make the bad man go away or hide here I will."
I asked Laurenna to stay with her while I went up to get rid of this agent so we could get our answers and get out of this sewer. Laurenna gave me such a look.....
Going up two flights of stairs, yes, there was the Census and Excise agent, as promised.
He asked me if I had seen his good friend "Addhiranirr" lately. Well, I told him a lie. I said I had seen this Khajiit taking a boat for the mainland.
"Ah, that's exactly where I was headed next. Well, I'm off then. Thanks for the tip."
Ah, if only everything here was that easy.
I returned to the sewers to report my success to Addhiranirr.
She was much more agreeable, now that she didn't have to worry about the agent upstairs any longer.
Addhiranirr provided a lot of information about smuggling, but noted that something strange had happened recently.
"Yes, smuggling is big business. the empire says we can't trade skooma, moon sugar, ebony, Dwemer artifacts, exotic Dunmer weapons and armor, and slaves, so smugglers trade these things. Smugglers also smuggle greef, shein, and sujamma to avoid Imperial tax. Now, the Sixth House hires smugglers, though what they smuggle, Addhiranirr cannot say."
"What do you know about this Nerevarine Cult?" I asked.
"Yes, Addhiranirr knows of this cult. Silly superstition. You tell Caius this. No one in her right mind pays any attention to this moon-yowling. He he, prophecies, and ancient heroes reborn and other silly stories. Ha! Fuzzy tales for little kitties."
According to Addhiranirr, he didn't know anything about the Nerevarine cult, but he did know that smugglers were now working for the Sixth House. Usually bragging about their actives, these smugglers were now tight-lipped about what they were doing. I wondered what they might be smuggling, and why it would be such a big secret. Caius would definitely want to know about this. I figured that I should give this information to him before I go searching for the 4th dragon.
"Can we please get out of the sewers now?" Laurenna asked. Couldn't say that I blamed her.