Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes
I headed over to the First Edition as instructed. I had done business with Phintias earlier, selling some books I had found in some of my earlier adventures.
"Ah, Shakula, always a pleasure to see you in my shop. How may I assist you today?" he said, greeting me with a hearty smile.
"Phintias," I started, "I have a most unusual request. Do you have any copies of something called the 'Mysterium Xarxes'?"
Trying to be helpful, he corrected me. "Oh, you must be referring to Mankar Camoran's 'Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes,' a common mistake. It comes in four volumes. The first two volumes are rare, but you may bump into them in some shop that has rare books. The third and fourth volumes, oh, those can be impossible to find."
"Well, there is the challange." I replied. "I need volumes three and four. Can you help me find them, or get them for me?"
Phintias looked apologetic. "Well, I happen to have a copy of the third volume on hand, but I'm afraid, well, um, it's a special order, and already paid for by another customer."
"If you don't mind," I asked, "may I know who purchased it? It's important."
"Well, the customer's name is Gwinas." he replied. "He'd be terribly disappointed if it was gone when he came to pick it up. I am so sorry I can't help you."
"What about Volume Four?" I asked. "Can you obtain that one?"
Again, Phintias looked apologetic "I wish I had one," he replied, "but I've never even seen a copy."
Phintias went on to say that his word was his bond, and I understood that. Phintias was being honest with me, as he would be if I had paid for it in advance, so I couldn't fault him for his integrity.
"What about Gwinas?" I asked. "Can you tell me anything about him?"
Phintias seemed a bit uneasy, but our friendly working relationship over the past two months gave him reason to open up to me. "I don't know him personally," he replied, "but he was very eager to get his hands on Volume Three of this set of books. He came all the way from Valenwood to get it. He should be coming in today to pick it up. If you wish, please feel free to sit over there and wait for him if you wish to speak directly with him about the book."
I waited patiently in a corner looking at the latest edition of the Dark Horse Courier to see what news was available. I could see the Legion was still after the Grey Fox, someone they'll probably never capture. I was so engrossed in the details on some Dark Brotherhood organization that I didn't even notice that Gwinas had come in, purchased his book and was heading out the door. Phintias said "Oh, if you wanted to talk to him, he just stepped out. I'm sure you can catch him.
Thanking Phintias, I ran out the door, seeing Gwinas heading to the center of the Imperial City's hub. I stepped in front of him, halting his progress.
"Who are you?" he demanded.
"Listen." I send, in a very stern voice, "I need your copy of the 'Commentaries', that third volume." Not the nicest way to ask, but this book would lead me to those responsible for this huge mess the Empire was now finding itself in.
"Have you been following me?" he demanded to know. "Leave me alone! That book is mine!"
"Tell me about the Mythic Dawn cult." I said.
Gwinas seemed stunned by the question. "The Mythic Dawn?" he stammered. "Are you...I mean, I don't know what you're talking about. I don't know anything about any cult."
I was not in a playful mood. "Don't play stupid with me, little one." I said. "I want answers, and I want them now."
Gwinas could see an anger welling up in me that might prove dangerous to his own health. Rather than take a chance, he decided to spill his guts. "Very well." he replied. I can see you're familiar with the series of books by Mankar Camoran. I know that daedric cults are not quite the thing socially, but that's just foolish prejudice and supersition. For the adventurous, open-minded thinker, daedric worship holds many rewards."
I rolled my eyes to the clouds above. "Fool!" I replied, "They are the ones responsible for the death of the Emperor and his sons. Their 'worship', as you so politely put it, is responsible for the Oblivion Gates being opened all over the Empire, including my home of Ald'Ruhn. That means they're also responsible for the death of everyone I knew as a child!"
I gave him such a glare that I could hear his heart freeze. It was as if something evil was taking a hold of me, driving me into this conversation in a direction I had not designed myself. Was this me speaking? I was about to soften my tone until I noticed it was actually having an effect on him.
"What?" he shouted. "The Mythic Dawn were the ones?" He looked around nervously, expecting an assassin to come after him at any moment. "You have to believe me!" he continued. "I truly had no idea. I mean, I knew they were a daedric cult. After all, Mankar Camoran's views on Mehrunes Dagon are fascinating, even revolutionary." He looked sadily at the ground. "But to murder the Emperor...Mara preserve us!"
"You'd better give me that book, then." I demanded. "I need it to find these murders."
Gwinas quickly handed the book to me. "Yes. Of course! I don't want anyone to think I had anything to do with their insane plots! Here, keep it!" I was going to pay him for it, but he refused. "No, keep your gold. I don't want anything to do with them, the book, or any of this cult anymore!"
"I need the fourth book as well." I added.
Gwinas thought for a moment, knowing that he would betray a secret, but then said "You can only get Volume Four directly from a member of the Mythic Dawn. I had set up a meeting with the Sponsor, as he called himself." He rummaged through his pants and coat pockets, finally producing a small note, which he handed to me. "Here," he said, "take this note they gave me. It tells you were to go. I don't want anything else to do with the Mythic Dawn!"
I took the note from Gwinas, who then turned and walked away, checking once or twice to see if I was still following him. I felt badly for the way I acted. It wasn't like me. It was like an angry beast had taken control of my head. It wasn't his Gwinas' fault, he didn't know what the Mythic Dawn were really up to. The note would tell me where to meet this Sponsor. But first, I would need to get in touch with Baurus and let him know what I had discovered.
I headed back to Luther Broad's Boarding House to find Baurus, only to find him just walking out the door looking for me.
"You're not easy to get a hold of." he said with a wink. "What have you found out?"
"Quite a bit." I replied. "Do you have anything else to tell me about the Mythic Dawn?"
"Well, I can tell you they'll pay for the murder of the Emperor." he scowled, "Now that we know who they are, and that they're behind it, it's only a matter of time."
I produced the note that Gwinas had given me, letting him look it over. He smiled, seeing the opportunity it presented. "You got this?" he asked.
"Yes, I replied. "I'm going to go meet the a Sponsor of the Mythic Dawn."
Baurus handed the note back to me. "This just might be the break we've been looking for!" he said. "Good work. We need to get that fourth book so that Tar-Meena can use it to locate the Mythic Dawn's hidden shrine. Let's go. I know that part of the sewers well."
I didn't have time to change, but was glad I had my short sword with me. I guess if you're a spy, you always need one handy.
We headed over to a section of the city that had an access point to the sewers. We headed down through the tunnels and rat and goblin-infested sections, killing off goblins, mud crabs, and rats as a team.
It seemed like it was taking us forever, going through one tunnel after another, until we finally came to a door that indicated we had arrived at our destination. Baurus put his finger to his lips, whispering "The room with the table I'm supposed to sit down at is just through this door. I had been in this area before, noticed it, and always wondered who put it there." He pointed to a set of stairs right behind us. "I happen to know that if you go up the stairs there, you can get a vantage point on the meeting room. I think I should be the one to handle the meeting. You'll be my backup. Keep watch from above in case there's trouble."
I agreed. I climbed the stairs which lead to a small corrider ending at another door. I opened it as quietly as I could, sneaking to a point were I could see the table that Baurus was supposed to set at for his appointment. I knew this was going to be our only chance to get that fourth book, and that this might be our only opporunity to retrieve the Amulet of Kings.
Baurus entered the room, slamming the door behind him, making sure someone heard him enter. He looked around, then sat in the chair, twiddling his thumbs on the table, patiently waiting for someone to come into the room. I cast an invisibility spell, and not a moment too soon, for just then I heard a grating open near Baurus. It was the Sponsor, Raven.
"So, you want to become one of the Chosen of Mehrunes Dagon." he started. "The Path of Dawn is difficult." he strode around the room like a school teacher, pointing his finger to the sky, continining "But the rewards are great." He put his hand on his sword hilt. "I have the book you seek." he continued. "With it and the Master's three other books you will possess the key to enlightenment." He put his hands on the table, glaring at Baurus, like a training master speaking to an novice trainee. "But, do you have the wit and strength to use the key that you have been given?" Raven straightened up and continued, "If so, I will see you next at Dagon's Shrine. Yes, I think you may..."
I hadn't noticed that my invisibility spell had worn off! Another Mythic Dawn agent entered the room. "There is someone else here!" he shouted.
Raven drew his sword, shouting "I told you to come alone! Brothers, kill them!"
Suddenly, several Mythic Dawn agents ran into the room heading straight for Baurus. He kicked the table at Raven, knocking him back, giving Baurus time to draw his own sword. There was no time to think. I drew my own sword and jumped down from my vantage point. I had just enchanted it to absorb the life of whatever it strikes, learning this skill at the Arcane University. Baurus was able to handle himself, but three of the Mythic Dawn headed right for me. I used one healing potient that would work for several minutes, then started swinging with my own sword. "For my father!" I shouted at one of them as he fell. "For my brother!" I shouted at the second agent, having his life drained out of him with my newly-enchanted sword. "You will pay for what you did to them!" I shouted at the third agent, as my sword struck him, absorbing his life into my own. He fell dead at my feet.
I flew into a blind range, swinging at the now dead agents, hacking at their dead bodies, cursing up a storm. Suddenly, I could hear Baurus calling to me.
"Shakula! Stop!" he shouted. It was almost as if I were somewhere else. I hated these people. They were responsible for the death of my family. "Shakula! Get a hold of yourself!" he shouted again. I stopped myself in mid-swing, realizing that I was already the winner, and there was no need to continue killing the dead.
Baurus looked at me, almost in disbelief. "That could have gone smoother, thought I can't say I minded killing a few more of these bastards. Are you ok?" he asked.
"They deserved...." I started.
"Yes, I know." he interrupted. "They deserved to die for what they did. But Shakuka, you cannot things like that take control of you." he instructed. "You don't want to become like them."
I glared at him for wanting to stop me from my overkill, then realized he was right. Something got a hold of me. I looked at what I had done, not even realizing that I was the cause of the bloody mess I had caused.
"Get the book and let's get out of here." he said.
I bent down and searched Raven's body, finding the fourth volume of Mankar's Commentaries. In the process, I found a small dagger in his belt. I took it out and stabbed his dead body in the heart.
Baurus was watching. "You know that does no good." he said.
"I don't care." I replied. "Call it a calling card, or whatever. I don't care. I did it for Ald'Ruhn. I don't even care if someone puts my name on it. Let them know that my people will be avenged for what was done to them."
Baurus just shook his head. "I had heard about Ald'Ruhn." he said. "Is that were you are from?"
"Yes." I replied, glaring at Raven's corpse.
"I'm sorry for what happened to your people there." he said, "But you must focus on the job we have to do, or more people will die."
I closed my eyes. What was I doing? This was not like me.
"You're right." I said, softening my tone. "I'm sorry. I'll try to keep my anger under control."
"Use it, but don't let it use you." he replied. "Your own anger can be used by your opponent against you just as easily as any spell or sword. I don't want that to happen to you."
I could see he was giving me some of his years of experience as a member of the Blades. I felt my anger subside. I took a deep breath, composed myself, and showed Baurus that I had found the fourth book.
"That's good." he said. "Now that you have all four books, you should be able to handle things from here. I'm going to Cloud Ruler Temple. My place is at Martin's side. I'll see you there."
Baurus gave me a hug, adding a whisper "Be strong, ok?" I nodded in agreement.
I took all four books back to Tar-Meena at the Imperial University. She was amazed to find that for the first time in her life, she had a complete set of all four of these books. She advised that these kinds of cults put hidden messages in their writings. This was to have prospective members show they were able to decipher the hidden meanings in the books. She said to read, and read again. I did so, spending hours going over all four books.
Tar-Meena eventually determined that the first word of each paragraph seemed to fit a pattern. I checked, and she was right; the first word of each paragraph in each book seemed to for a complete sentence, but not exactly.
It was frustrating. Tar-Meena came over and suggested that I take the night off and let her work on it for a while. I admitted I was tired, agreeing that perhaps stepping away from the problem might help solve it.
I decided to check in with another department to see if my Mages Staff was ready. It was. Apparently, every mage must have a staff in this organization.
I used several of the altars to create some multiple summoning spells, but couldn't try them here, as someone might attack the creatures I brought forth.
Tar-Meena was very impressed with my staff. "Ah, paralyzzzze. Good spell." she hissed.
"You sleep now, come back tomorrow." she said. "I will continue working on this problem for you."
I couldn't agree more. My brain was fried tried to figure out what this hidden message was.
COMING UP: Practicing Spells