June 7th, 2014
|10:56 pm - Skyrim Part 5 - Revenge of Roleplaying|
Last time we proved that instead of Rita Mordio I should have rolled up Ryoga Hibiki. Somehow, by following signs on a road that claimed to be taking me south, I ended up at the northernmost city on the map. What I think happened is that at some point the road cut north to go around a mountain range and I just missed a turnoff.
Either way, we're now in Dawnstar! Uh. ... What's to do in Dawnstar?
As Rita explores Dawnstar, two threads to pull on become really obvious:
A - Nobody in town has gotten a good night's sleep in weeks. They keep having the same nightmare, over and over. It's becoming a serious problem and people are starting to snap and scream at each other.
B - Vampires. Rita is actively approached by an orc who wants her to join the Dawnguard, out near the city of Riften. Vampires have been launching open attacks on more and more cities, and even destroyed the headquarters of the Vigilant of Stendarr. (Those are a famous bunch of Daedra hunters -- they weren't equipped to fight vampires at all.)
While the second seems like a more urgent problem, particularly given the events of yesterday ... the first is intriguing. While exploring the two, a third thread presents itself: The lighthouse owner, Jaspar Gaerston. He seems depressed, but not from lack of sleep.
He's a writer -- an aspiring writer, he quickly corrects himself. A morose, introspective one. He wrote a manuscript, the best he feels he could ever write. About an orc, based on an orc who inspired him by showing fear of a simple rat. About psychology and the mind and what makes people fight.
It was, of course, rejected for publication. He sent it to his favorite author, and got a letter sneering that it "read like it was written by a blacksmith". So Jaspar left the manuscript on the table of a blacksmith back in Morthal and walked away. Now he just stands or sits and stares at the ocean. He doesn't write anymore.
People can live without sleep for a couple more days. The Dawnguard probably has enough members. This is about a writer. This is important. So, hell with it. A brisk walk back to Morthal, and since the blacksmith doesn't actually OWN the book he has no objection to Rita picking it up and giving it a read. It isn't... actually bad. A little overwrought and flowery, and the ending's a bit... ambiguous, but it's a pretty decent read that flows like someone who's trying a little too hard and needs some time with a good editor.
I am familiar with this, so I have The Sympathies. But you don't have to take my word for it. (Real talk, part of my habit of ending these writeup posts with "I'll see you next time!" comes straight from Reading Rainbow. I am SO HAPPY that's coming back.)
Then it's back to Jaspar, to let him know we read his book and mostly approve of it.
On the way back to Dawnstar, someone named Theodyn Bienne comes sprinting up to us. Rita is a hard person to track down! (No kidding. Even she doesn't know where she is half the time.) Lurius Liore in Whiterun wants us to come and talk to him about a dragon matter. Man, we have a lot of stuff to do in and around Whiterun now! I actually forget why we were... oh, right, the note about taking a room in Riverwood. Well, we will get to that when we get to it.
Back at Jaspar's place, Rita lays it out: Yes it was overly verbose. Yes, it was a bit clunky. No, he doesn't have to apologize for wasting her time. No, it does NOT read like it was written by a blacksmith.
At this, a thought strikes Jaspar. Is it actually possible that the person he sent his book to... didn't actually READ it? He doesn't want to hope... but maybe the story would play better out west. If Rita could show it around the town of Solitude? That is, after all, where the Bard's College is...
That would be a very long walk. Rita tucks the book back in her robes and makes a note to head out there some other time. After all, the Bardic College has a VERY elaborate library which would be worth the trip all by itself. Since both this and the Vampires plot hook want Rita off in other cities, let's investigate the matter of weird shared nightmares.
First, though... at the Windrest Inn in Dawnstar I'm treated to a performance of "The Dragonborn Comes". I quite like the style of the performance, but there's no "give a tip" key. Alas. Also at the inn I meet up with Erandur, who is here investigating the source of the nightmares. He believes it to be the Daedric lord Vaermina, princess of dreams, OBVIOUSLY up to evil.
The Daedric Lords are extremely powerful beings from dimensions outside the mortal realms. They tend to have no particular care about "good" or "evil", they're just interested in amusing themselves and watching the mortal ants scurry around. They are creatures of immense power, and to a scholarly-minded sort like Rita, they're of great interest. So she tags along as Erandur rambles on about the nearby "Tower of the Dawn" and the old temple inside it.
Getting Erandur up the mountain is a bit IRRITATING...
(At one point a goat blocks his path, so he turns around, WALKS BACK DOWN THE MOUNTAINSIDE and back to town, then turns around AGAIN and takes a marginally different path up the mountain. I begin to swear that if he does that again I will Leech Seed his eyeballs until they shrivel into raisins.)
...but eventually he gets there.
Erandur: "Years ago, this temple was raided by an orc war party seeking revenge... they were being plagued by nightmares just like the people of Dawnstar."
Rita: "Were they successful?"
Erandur: "No. Knowing they could never defeat the orcs, the priests of Vaermina released what they call 'The Miasma', putting everyone to sleep."
He's afraid that once the temple is unsealed, everyone will wake up again. Priests and orcs alike... and while the Miasma is a kind of suspended animation that leaves the subject unaging, it ALSO has a side effect of sometimes driving people insane. So, y'know. Crazy orc war party plus irritated priests in there.
Important safety tip. thanks, Erandur. Worse news: Lydia gets bumped out of the party with a note that "Your follower cannot accompany you here." as we enter. This day keeps getting better and better. In irritation I yoink some reading material from the temple while Erandur's busy doing the unsealing.
("The Trials of St Alessia", "The Talos Mistake", "Walking the World v11", and "Lost Legends of Skyrim".)
Erandur explains that the Skull of Corruption has awoken, and it is the source of the problems in Dawnstar. At this, Rita perks up again. The Skull is a legendary Daedric artifact, a creation from outside the realm of humanity. The chance to study and analyze and document the effects of something like that... well, that's a once-in-a-lifetime chance, isn't it?
When confronted with the idea that he knows an AWFUL lot about this temple, Erandur comes clean. He was once a priest of Vaermina. He fled many years ago, when the miamsa was released, as he didn't want to sleep and dream and perhaps die. He betrayed his fellow priests. And now he's back to destroy the artifact for good.
Destroy it? It BELONGS in a museum. Or a properly funded magical research lab. You can't just go around DESTROYING priceless artifacts of immense magical power. Rita's straight-up outraged at the very suggestion. Still, SOMEthing has to be done, and there's a magical barrier blocking the way further in, so Erandur calls for a stop at the proper temple library.
(This stop nets me copies of "Varieties of Daedra", "The Dreamstride", "Feyfolken II", "Mannimarco, King of Worms", "16 Accords of Madness v6", "The Book of Daedra", "Biography of Barenziah v2", and "On Oblivion".)
A bunch of reawakened guys try to kill us, too, but mostly mmmm library mmmm. *roll around in books*
In "The Dreamstride", Erandur finds what he was looking for. A recipe for a potion of Torpor, which will let Rita travel past the barrier in the dream world and then wake up on the other side of it. Rita is more intrigued than ever by the secrets of the daedra and agrees to test it out at once, as soon as they find a supply. Which they do, in the adjacent alchemy lab.
"I understand your hesitation," Erandur starts, and whatever else he has to say goes unheard because Rita's already chugged the bottle.
It turns out that The Torpor lets you relive someone else's memories in the dream world. In this case, it's "Brother Casimir" of the Vaermina worshippers, who swears that he has made peace with death. He will release the Miasma. In a haze of light and color, Rita/Casimir makes their way to the chain and pulls, dooming all in the tower... and reappearing in the real world next to the magical barrier, which is easily shut down.
In the next room, however, are Veren and Thorek, the two priests from the dream. They of course know Erandur as Casimir. They also know he cut and run, leaving them behind to die. He pleads that he wasn't ready to sleep, and they have no sympathy. They can't let him destroy the Skull. I'm personally with them, but they attack just the same, so Rita has to put them down.
Have I mentioned I love ragdoll physics? Unfortunately, this leaves Erandur-nee-Casimir a clear path to the skull. Rita asks him NOT to destroy it, and he claims that Veran and Thorek were liars who would only use the skull to cause havoc out in Skyrim. It MUST be destroyed. He begins to chant, approaching it, arms raised.
Rita clocks him across the back of the head with her quarterstaff, grabs the Skull, and makes a run for it.
I'm sure in our hands this can only do good things.
Bonus! Rita's Reading Corner!
Hey, remember Immortal Blood? It's the story of a vampire hunter named Movarth Piquine, and his tireless hunt to eradicate vampires. Isn't that name familiar? Haven't we heard that name somewhere before?
It's important to remember that no matter what your story is, dramatic irony can strike at any time. Check YOUR personal storyline for excessive hubris or reoccuring one-liners with dual meanings today. Tomorrow... it may be too late.
See you next time!
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"I begin to swear that if he does that again I will Leech Seed his eyeballs until they shrivel into raisins."
Wait, isn't that a Pokemon move? Rita is not a bulbasaur.
That IS a Pokemon move! I bought that spell a while back, and it drains health from others and gives it back to me. So... she may not be a bulbasaur, but she apparently is grass-type.
Maybe I should've rolled wood elf.