Arrival at Kvatch
"Courage is being scared to death...and saddling up anyway."
--- John Wayne
The next morning found the weather just as wet and rainy as the night before. Resigned to getting soaked, I headed out from Skingrad on the long road to Kvatch.
The rain had finally slowed to a light mist only a few minutes after leaving Skingrad, which left a thick fog all around me. I was walking along the road when suddenly a land dreugh walked right on to the road in front of me!
It had been looking the other way as it strode on to the road, so it didn't see me right away. Quickly, I used my invisibility spell, hiding myself right in front of him.
I manged to walk right behind the monster and summoned a skeleton hero and skeleton guardian, then redid my invisibility spell.
The land dreugh didn't survive. I was very proud of my new summoned creature spells. I figured some of these would come in very handy one day.
I managed to evade a number of monsteres and bandits along the winding road leading to Kvatch. The fog was finally lifting as I approached the small connecting road that would lead me to the city. In the distance, however, was something very disturbing: smoke. Not the normal type of smoke from a fireplace or a blacksmith's furnace. This seemed very different. I wasn't sure what it would mean, but I quickend my pace non-the-less.
Suddenly, just ahead of me, an Altemer came running towards me, screaming something strange. I thought he was going to attack me at first, but as he came closer, I could see he was unarmed, terrified about...something. He saw me approaching and stopped, catching his breath.
"What in the world is wrong with you?" I asked. "Don't you know there are bandits on this road?"
He looked at me as if bandits would be a welcome sight right now.
"Come with me! Run!" he said "Run while there is still time." He pointed up towards Kvatch. "The guards still hold the road, but it's only a matter of time before they're overwhelmed!"
"Overwhelmed?" I asked. "By what? By whom? What are you talking about?"
"By the blood of the gods, you don't know, do you?" was his reply. "Daedra"
"What?" I asked. "Make sense, man! I"ve come a long way here on an important mission, and..." I never got to finish.
"Daedra overran Kvatch last night!" he interruped. "What do you mean?" I replied. "How could..."
"Portals of some kind." he replied. "There were glowing portals outside the walls. Gates to Oblivion itself!"
Gates to Oblivion? I thought for a moment...the Emperor mentioned "Jaws of Oblivion". Could this be...?
"What happened?" I asked. "Tell me everything."
Hirtel regained some of his composure. "There was a huge creature, I don't know how to describe it, something out of a nightmare. It came right over the walls, blasting fire. They, the daedra, swarmed around it...killing."
"The city." I said. "The entire city couldn't be destroyed."
Hirtel looked at me as one would a non-believer in the gods. "Go and see for yourself!" he spat. "Kvatch is a smoking ruin! We're all that's left! Do you undstand me?? Everyone else is dead!"
"So if everyone else is dead, how did you manage to escape?" I asked.
"By shear luck." he replied. "It was Savlian Matius. He and some of the other guards helped some of us escape. They cut their way out, right through the city gates. Savlian says they can hold the road, but I don't believe him. Nothing can stop them. If you'd seen it, you'd know."
"But if they're trapped in the city..." I started to say.
"They opened an Oblivian gate where they wanted." he replied. "What's to stop them from opening another one right here in the middle of the road?"
He had a point, I suppose.
"Anyway, I'm getting out of here." he continued. "If you're smart, you'll do the same!"
"I have a mission to complete." I said. "But I'll take care. Thank you for the warning."
"You'll need more than care if those creatures catch you!" he said, starting his run to Skingrad.
I made the turn to Kvatch a minute later, quickening my pace. There was a sense of urgency to find Martin that hadn't existed before.
Why here? And now? Were 'they' aware of Martin's presence in this city? I could only hope that I was still going to be able to find Martin and bring him safely back to Jauffre.
The "City" of Kvatch, it seems, had been reduced to a refugee camp at the base of the hill.
I asked several people what had happened, but they all gave pretty much the same story about an Oblivion Gate opening up right in the middle of the city, daedra coming out and laying waste to everything in sight.
A little further up the hill I encountered a priest lamenting the fate of his city.
"The covenant is broken." he moaned, "The Enemy has won."
"What do you mean?" I asked. "What covenant?"
"The imperial line is dead," he replied, "and the gods have forsaken us. Where is our blessing? Where is our protection? Where are our gods? The Enemy triumphs, and we die alone!"
"Wait a minute." I said. "What Enemy? Who are you talking about?"
He looked up at me. "Lord Dagon is the Enemy." he replied. "He is the Prince of Destruction, and the Daedra are his servants."
"But there have been issues with the Daedra before." I replied. "Surely something can be done."
He shook his head no. "The chapel is cast down, and the faithful, my friends...all dead."
"Martin." I said. "I was looking for a priest by the name of 'Martin'. Do you know him?
"Yes." said the priest. "He didn't make it out of the city. If he's still alive, he might be holding up in what is left of the chapel in the city."
"If he's still alive?" I asked.
"Yes, child." he replied somberly. "Many did not make it out alive. Those who ran had a chance, at least. Those who stayed and fought, well...they will be remembered by those of us who managed to escape. As far Martin, I saw him last leading refugees to safety, but I do not know if he made it to the chapel or not."
I thanked him for his information, and continued on up the hill's winding road. As I approached Kvatch, however, I could hear shouting, screaming, monsters roaring, spells blasting, swords clashing.
Then, as I rounded one more turn in the road, I saw something that I almost couldn't believe.
Monsters and soldiers, fighting. Not just one monster, but several. Daedra. Not summoned creatures, but actually able to stay in this realm.
And in the background of it all, almost up right against the wall of the city, an Oblivion Gate!
Was this what caused the destruction of my home of Ald'Ruhn?
The guards managed to slay the daedra that had arrived outside the city, but I could see a number of their brothers had already fallen.
Suddenly, a member of the Imperial guard called out. "Stand back, civilian!" he cried. "This is no place for you! Get back to the encampment at once!" It was Savlian Matius.
"What happened here?" I asked.
"Happened?" he asked, wide-eyed. "We lost the whole damned city, is what happened. Daedra are everywhere. We couldn't get everyone out." He pointed to the wall. "We couldn't get everyone out. There are still people trapped in there. Some made it to the Chapel, but others were just run down in the streets." He looked back to the city walls. "And now we can't even get back into the city to help them." He pointed at the gate, glowing in angry red colors, sparks flying out from it. "That damned Oblivion Gate is blocking the way. It's right in front of the city gates."
"Do you know how many are trapped in there?" I asked.
"No idea." he replied. All I know is that some of them, if they're alive, are trapped in the Chapel. I am certain that the Count and his men are still holed up in the castle."
"What can be done?" I asked. I had to get to Martin, hoping that he might be one of the refugees in the Chapel, but I didn't know how much of my mission I should expose to him. My only way in to the city was via the main gate, and the only way to the gate was to close that Oblivion Gate.
"What can I do to help?" I asked, not even realizing that I said it.
Savlian blinked. "You want to help?" he said. "You're kidding, right?" He thought for moment. While he thought, I thought maybe I shouldn't have said anything, but it was too late to take it back. "Well, if your serious, maybe I can put you to use." he said, thinking as he went along. "It'll likely mean your death, though. Are you sure?"
"I think this...thing...is responsible for the reported destruction of my home of Ald'Runh." I said. "If that's the case, I have the death of my family and friends to avenge. I'll do what I can."
Savlian thought for a moment. "Revenge is rarely a worthy cause for any endeavor." he replied. "Still, I won't deny you this opportunity."
"Ok." I replied. "What's the plan?"
"Savlian looked at the gate. "I don't know how to close this Gate," he said, "but it must be possibly, because the enemy closed the ones they opened during the initial attack. You can see the marks on the ground where they were, with the Great Gate right in the middle. I sent men into the Gate, to see if they could find a way to shut it."
"Wait." I said. "You have men in there already?"
"Yes," he replied, with a sad look. "They haven't come back." he turned to me, putting a hand on my shoulder. "Look, if you can get in there, find out what happened to them. If they're alive, help them finish the job. If not, see what you can do on your own. The best I can say is, good luck! If you make it back alive, we'll be waiting for you."
I thought long and hard right then. I had come here to find Martin and bring him back to Chorral. I had not come here looking for caves full of bandits and loot or mines full of goblins. I had no armor with me. I had spells that could summon armor, but they would only last a precious few seconds.
What I had with me were a few potions, a short sword able to paralyze for a second, and several spells that could summon my own creatures to fight for me.
I also had one important spell that had saved me time and time again: invisibility. Not as helpful as a powerful chameleon spell; invisibility spells are broken if you speak, use a weapon or spell, or open a door. Yet, it had gotten me in and out of a number of caves, mines, and other places filled to the roof with monsters.
I would have to make do with what I carried with me. And if this thing was responsible for what killed my home and family, then I would make it work.
I made my way carefully towards the portal. I could see the left-over pieces of a creature to the left. I was fully aware that at any moment, another creature might just step through the Gate.
All I had to do was just take one more step. The roar of the portal was deafing. I touched the energy in front of me. My hand vanished in front of me! I pulled it back, still intact.
I gathered all the courage I had, took a deep breath, made ready to use an invisibility spell, and stepped into the Jaws of Oblivion.
COMING UP: Inside the Oblivion Gate