Laurenna didn't receive the same nightmare that I did last night. I assumed that the dream was meant for me and no one else. She woke me up at the crack of dawn, ready to go on this mission, more so than I was. Only half awake, I lumbered out of bed, got dressed for travel, then went to her clothing chest to show what I had brought for her.

"Oh, Eldorf!" she exclaimed. "This is a full set of Nordic armor? Where did you get this?"

I smiled, glad that she appreciated the fact that I spent a pretty penny on this armor while I was in Lokken.

I set her up a half of the Daedric paralyzing arrows in my collection. They'd come in handy in our walk to the north of Vvardenfell.   


After a quick breakfast, we headed out the door and towards the fort for these "essential" supplies. I was certain that mine would be better, but decided to check anyway. I had been to this camp once before (searching for one of those Dunmer stronghold indexes), and was aware of the number of beasts up there carrying disease and blight.

There was a light rain falling as we left, but it didn't bother either one of us. Laurenna seemed pleased with her full Nordic armor outfit and Daedric bow.

As instructed, we headed to the Moonmoth Legion fort, and as expected, my own homemade potions were better and lighter. I politely thanked the Captain for his time, and we headed up the road to Caldera, and from there, north, to Maar Gan.   


We followed the road through Caldera, then continued north, following the roadsigns showing the way to Ald'ruhn, until we came to the ashlands region. We then followed signs showing the road to Maar Gan.

The land was barren, having been ravaged by ash and blight storms for hundreds of years. It was a wonder that anything could grow in this area of Vvardenfell at all, and yet, a number of plants had managed to survive, upon which a number of larger beasts could feed.

We continued our trek north when suddenly I heard Laurenna call out from behind me. A pair of alits, feeding in a nitch of rock raced out to attack. I turned to attack when suddenly, the one closest to me froze in mid-stride. The second one continued to attack, but was also frozen in mid-stride a second later. "Hurry up and get them, Eldorf!" she shouted, readying a third arrow. Using my own Dwemer shortsword, I finished them off, just as the paralyzing effect wore off.

"You're pretty good with those arrows." I said. "You were lucky." she said. "The first arrow didn't paralyze it. I had to hit it a second time." "You mean you were able to get two shots off that quickly?" I said, amazed. "Oh, you didn't know I could do that, huh?" she said, joking. "That's why I need the practice."

We checked the creatures, but decided against taking anything from them. Both animals showed signs of advanced blight disease, and not wanting to catch it ourselves, decided to leave them were they fell.  


I finally saw the outline of the stilt strider just outside of Maar Gan, and Laurenna let out a squeal of delight that we had made it, and that she had gotten lots of marksmanship practice with her bow and arrows along the way. It was a shame that we couldn't have taken the hides from these creatures, and just about every cliffracer, alit, and kagoti had some sort of common or blight disease. I could see what Caius meant about it being so bad up here.  


After checking around with the guards, we found the location of Nuleno Tedas, and went off to have a chat with her.

"You're going to the Urshilaku Camp?" she asked. "That is a pretty dangerous area. I wouldn't go." "Why is that?" I asked. "Their camp is right next to the Assurnabitashpi Shrine." she said. "A lot of evil Daedra live there." She looked at me, then added, "If you insist of going there, you could probably go around the south side of the shrine, but there are two Dwemer strongholds nearby, and one of them has a clan of vampires in it."

"I don't think either of those places will be a problem for me." I said.  

"Very well." she said. "Their camp is currently due north from Maar Gan, but there are a number of high ridges in the way. Go north of here until you hit that first ridge, then follow it northwest until you see two twin spires. That pathway will lead you into Foyada Bani-Dad. Keep following it northwest until you see two more spires, and that pathway will lead you east. You'll see the shrine almost immediately. Stay south of it to avoid attacks. The camp is just east of the shrine. If you want the safer route, follow the foyada northeast to the sea, then swim around the shrine.  


We thanked Nuleno for her directions to the camp, and headed north. Even before we hit the ridge she had spoken of, we had at least 3 cliffracers and several kagoti attack us. Both Laurenna and I got in some marksmanship practice. All but one of the creatures were blighted, showing terrible discolorations over their skin and eyes. 


We finally saw the twin spires that we had been told about, and headed east, then following the foyada northwest again. The spires were similar to ones I had seen near Balmora, just east of Fort Moonmoth, and make good landmarks.  


"Eldorf," asked Laurenna, "what did she mean by a 'foyada'? I've never heard of such a thing."

"I'm glad you asked." I replied. "The word 'foyada' means 'fire-river' in the native Ashlander language. The deep, ash-dark ravines which run down from the Red Mountain volcano are called foyada. The lava from Red Mountain is very fluid, and it runs almost like water. During an eruption, fire-rivers run down the mountain, clearing the ravines of vegetation. Because they have good footing, are clear of brush, and run long distances, they're used pretty much like roads. A number of them even have names."  


We continued on our way, cutting down one attacking cliffracer after another, one blighted beast after another, both of us getting lots of practice in with the bow and arrow.

Laurenna was having a great time.

As for myself, I was just glad there was no ashstorm in progress at the time, even though sky was gloomy and overcast.  


Another set of twin spires on the eastern side of the ridge showed us the way east, and out of the foyada, into the northern part of the Ashlands. As predicted, as soon as we were on the other side of the ridge, we came face-to-face with the evil, forbidding sight of the Assurnabitashpi Shrine. I had been past this place before, and knew a safe route to the south of it.

"Oh, let's explore!" Laurenna said, like a spoiled child. "No, I've already been in there, cleaned it out." I replied. "Besides, I was instructed clearly: no side trips. This is, apparently, an important mission for me."

Laurenna pouted but understood what I meant.  


We made our way south around the shrine, and as expected found the Urshilaku camp and made our way to the collection of yurts they had set up for camp.  


The people were none too friendly towards me, but a few hundred gold coins made everyone my best friend.

After asking how I should go about talking to their leader, one of the tribe directed me to the yurt of Zabamund, who would determine if I would be allowed to speak with the camp's ashkhan, or leader.  


After introducing myself, Zabamund seemed to remember my first trip to this camp so long ago. I decided to brighten his mood somewhat with a gift of 3,000 gold pieces, which he gladly accepted as a token of my respect for him and his position.

"What brings you here, Eldorf the Wise?" he asked.

"Zabamund," I said, "I need desperately to speak with Sul-Matuul. It concerns the Nerevarine prophecies."

Zabamund thought for a moment, then replied, "The Nerevarine prophecies are not for outlanders. Why should Sul-Matuul and Nibani Maesa speak to you about them. You are known as a wise man in these parts, but why should we trust you with this matter?"

It was a very honest question, and one that I could answer. I spent the next 10 minutes explaining all the things I had learned about the Sixth House, and the Nerevarine, as well as the disturbing dreams I had been having lately. Zabamund could see I was sincere in my desire to speak with Sul-Matuul. He turned from me for a minute to think it over, then turned to me and said, "As far as the dreams are concerned, you would want to speak with our wise woman about that." He paused, then added "These are not simple matters. You know a great deal more than I would have thought, and some of what you say is news to me." He gave pause, weighing what I had told him, then said "Yes, I believe you should speak with Sul-Matuul. Perhaps he will be angry with me, but I think I can bear that. Go to the Ashkhan's yurt and speak with Sul-Matuul. Ask him your questions, and tell him that I have sent you."

I thanked him for his time, and his wise counsel, then made my departure from his yurt.   


I found Sul-Matuul in his yurt, and found that expecting an attack from an outside, he had formed a barrier around himself. He soon found out that it was not needed, that I provided no threat to him.

"Zabamund has sent me to speak with you about some important matters." I said. "I also offer you a gift of 3,000 gold coins out of respect for your position."

"You show wisdom in your actions, Eldorf the Wise." he responded respectfully. "Your reputation precedes you. What is it you wish to discuss with me?"

I told Sul-Matuul about my involvement with the Nerevarine prophecies, and gave him all the information I had concerning the subject. After I finished my story, he sat in front of his fire, lost in thought for a few moments. I did not rush him, as I realized he was taking a big chance even discussing this cult with someone not a member of his tribe.

After a few minutes of meditation, he finally looked up and said "You think you fulfill the Nerevarine prophecies. You wish to be tested to see if you are the Nerevarine." "Yes, sir. That is correct." I confirmed. "Here is my problem, Eldorf the Wise: No outlander may join the Nerevarine cult." I started to protest, but he held his hand up, giving me pause. "If you were a Clanfriend, an adopted member of the Ashlander tribes, then perhaps."

"I see." I said, "Is there anything that can be done?"

Sul-Matuul smiled and said "I have an initiation rite in mind. If you pass this rite, I will adopt you as a Clanfriend of the Ashlanders, and then submit you to Nibani Matsa, our wise woman, who is stilled in oracles and mysteries. She will then test you against the prophecies."

"I am willing to undergo this rite." I said. "What do I need to do?"

"You are indeed brave." he replied, "To be adopted into the tribe, you must undergo a harrowing. In a harrowing, you will be judged by the spirits and ancestors to see if you are worthy. You must go to the Urshilaku Burial Caverns and fetch me Sul-Senipul's Bonebiter Bow."

I gave him a "who?" look, and understanding that I didn't know anyone here, he realized that I didn't know the significance of the name. "Sul-Senipul was my father, and his spirit guards his bonemold long bow deep in the burial caverns. Return to me with this bow, and I will adopt you into the Ashlander tribes as a Clanfriend."

"I will do this rite for you." I replied, "Where are the caverns located?"

He explained the directions on how to find the caverns, then added "Be warned: The spirits of our ancestors guards the caverns. They will attack and will kill you if they can."

"I understand." I said. "One more thing." he added, "Your wife will remain here with me until your return, or until there is news of your death. You understand, of course, that this is a mission you must complete on your own."

"Of course, and I understand. I assume Laurenna will be well cared-for."

"Naturally." he replied. "If necessary, one of my people will see here safely as far as Maar Gan. We will wait several days for your return."  


I gave Laurenna a kiss and promised that I would return for her shortly. "You had better." she said, "You've got the rest of those really neat arrows I like using."  


I followed the directions given, and sure enough, just a short walk south, I came upon the doorway to the burial caverns.

Making sure I had all my restore health and magicka potions ready, I put on my belt of Night Eye, in case it was dark in this cavern, readied my sword, and carefully stepped inside the door.

The things I have to do for this Emperor person....