TESA Redguard: Arrival In Stros M’Kai, Part 2

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Once inside the silversmith, I saw a Redguard woman behind the counter and spoke with her.

Krisandra: Yes?

Cyrus: Greetings, my lady. I am Cyrus.

Krisandra: A Sentinel accent, isn’t it? I am Krisandra, Silversmith of Stros M’Kai. Pleased to meet you.

Cyrus: I’m looking for my sister, Iszara. Do you know her?

Krisandra: I’m afraid not. I have few friends here as yet. I’m hoping that as time passes things will get back to normal, but the war is still too fresh for people here to forget that I’m a Forebear.

Cyrus: Are you from Sentinel originally?

Krisandra: Yes, I owned a shop there for six years — On Market Street. Perhaps you know it? Sentinel is overcrowded these days, and when I heard of a business for sale here, I decided to take the chance. So far I haven’t had too much trouble from the locals.

Cyrus: Why would the local people give you trouble?

Krisandra: Forebears aren’t exactly popular around here, you know? I’ve never been much involved in politics, but I always supported the Forebear cause. Before the war, all that didn’t matter. I had many friends who were Crowns. But things are different now.

Cyrus: You’re new here, then?

Krisandra: Arrived only 2 months ago. I’m still trying to get things sorted out. The former owner must not have cleaned this place for twenty years, there was so much junk piled up. I tossed most of it in my warehouse next door just to get it out of the way.

Cyrus: The old Silversmith — He left because of the war?

Krisandra: He died, actually. I bought the shop from his estate. I guess there was some kind of incident in the Old Quarter, where the most fanatical Crowns lived.

Cyrus: Do you know what happened?

Krisandra: It was before I arrived. The people here tell some pretty fantastic stories. As near as I can figure, the Crowns burned their houses down around their heads rather than surrender after the Imperials took the city. Some would call that admirable, but I think the Redguards put too much stock in zealotry.

Cyrus: I haven’t been back to Sentinel since before the war. How did it fare?

Krisandra: Better than Stros M’Kai. Before I came here, I thought the stories I’d heard were just Crown propaganda. The Crowns recaptured Sentinel just before the Empire intervened, but it was nothing like this. Stros M’Kai was the center of Crown resistance, and I suppose the Empire is making an example of the city.

Cyrus: How has Stros M’Kai fared under Imperial occupation?

Krisandra: It’s suffered greatly. The incident in the Old Quarter seems to have left the city in shock. The Crowns lost the war, after all. You can’t expect to get over that in a few months.

Cyrus: What can you tell me about the Restless League?

Krisandra: I know I sound just like every other Forebear, but they were nothing more than Pirates, using the civil war as cover for their crimes. They were a black mark on the Crowns’ cause from the beginning. The destruction of the League is one of the few good things to come from the Empire’s victory.

Cyrus: So the League has been wiped out?

Krisandra: As far as I can tell. They haven’t been seen in Stros M’Kai in weeks. Their last hurrah was blowing up the Governor’s flagship — A pointless gesture which only spurred Richton to finish cleaning out their organization from the city.

Cyrus: You call it the Empire’s victory? What of the Forebears?

Krisandra: Please. I’m not one of the Forebear fanatics. Anyone can see that Baron Volag was used then cast aside by the Empire. He hoped to be King of Hammerfell, but who has seen him since his supposed victory?

Cyrus: You disagree with Baron Volag’s decision to ally the Forebears with the Empire?

Krisandra: A gamble that he lost. As a Forebear, I supported Volag’s claim to the throne of Hammerfell. I never supposed he was infallible. But the war’s over now, and the only thing to do is to make the best of the new situation — A philosophy more Crowns should embrace, if you ask me.

Cyrus: I admire your courage, a Forebear in the Crown capital.

Krisandra: When I first arrived, the Restless League made a few threats, but the Empire seems to have them under control now. Forebar and Crown, that’s all in the past anyway. Hammerfell is part of the Empire now. At least we finally can stop killing each other.

Cyrus: What do you know of the new Provisional Governor Richton?

Krisandra: Ruthless to a fault. Served him well during the war, but not a trait guaranteed to win loyalty in a new province. I wonder how much Tiber Septim knows of what Richton is up to here in Hammerfell.

Cyrus: Tiber Septim, the colossus of our generation, Tamriel’s new self-proclaimed Emperor. What’s your take?

Krisandra: The Empire’s expansion has proceeded according to the merits of the Emperor’s servants. By all accounts, Septim’s Governor in High Rock has ended the feuding of the Witch-Kings there with tact and skill. The Emperor’s representative here in Stros M’Kai is not of the same caliber, and the Emperor is viewed dimly as a result.

Cyrus: I’ve been told of a Smuggler’s Den under the Cartographer’s shop. Have you heard of it?

Krisandra: Sure I have. Smuggler’s Den! Ha! A pretty grandiose name for a place where the local boys go to get away from their wives and play cards.

Cyrus: So you think it’s nothing more sinister than that?

Krisandra: Well… I’ve heard rumors it was connected with the Restless League, but they’re hard to take seriously if a joker like Lakene could get in.

Cyrus: Lakene? Who’s he?

Krisandra: The local handyman. Not a bad sort, don’t get me wrong, but a bit lunatic fringe. Harldy what I’d call the foundation of a revolution.

Cyrus: What does Lakene have to do with the Smuggler’s Den?

Krisandra: Oh… I really shouldn’t gossip, but I’m sure you won’t tell anyone, will you Cyrus? Seems he was gambling at the Smuggler’s Den and lost his wife’s antique silver locket. He came to me, desperate to have it replaced so she wouldn’t find out. I’d have been glad to help, but I couldn’t reproduce it simply from his description. Poor fellow, he went away quite crushed.

Cyrus’ Logbook
Krisandra says Lakene, a local handyman, came to her to replace an antique silver locket of his wife’s that Lakene lost while gambling in the Smuggler’s Den. When Krisandra said she couldn’t help him, he was quite distressed.

Cyrus: Excuse me. Perhaps we can speak later.

Because I had nothing else to say to Krisandra for the moment, I left her shop and went to the belltower near the entrance to the plaza.

Inside, I found an old Redguard man sitting on a chair, next to him being a rope that he used to ring the bell. In the middle of the chamber there was a rope leading up to the bell itself. I decided to speak with the man.

Favis: Ehn-ehn-ehn.

Cyrus: Greetings, old man. I am Cyrus.

Favis: Cyrus, eh? Never heard of you. Must be new around here. My name’s Favis. Everybody just calls me Favis though.

Cyrus: My sister, Iszara, is missing. Do you know her?

Favis: Sure, nice young lady, too. Sister, you say? I haven’t seen her around in a while though. Wonder if she might be missing.

Cyrus: Apparently no one has seen her for months. Do you have any idea what might have happened?

Favis: Might have something to do with the Restless League. Some of them fellows came around looking for her a while back.

Cyrus: Iszara was in trouble with the Restless League?

Favis: I didn’t say that, although come to think of it, they didn’t look too friendly. No one you’d want to cross, that’s for sure. Their enemies have a way of turning up dead.

Cyrus: My ship was attacked by two members of the Restless League just off Stros M’Kai. What can you tell me about them?

Favis: Not much. Fire-eating Redguard nationalists– More even than most Crowns could stomach. But they’ve kep quiet since the Old Quarter was burned. I wonder why they decided to attack your ship?

Cyrus: I don’t know. How long has it been since their last attack?

Favis: Hmm. Must’ve been a month or two, at least. Their last big success was blowing up Richton’s flagship, right here in the harbor. A pity, in a way. Whatever else you say about the Imperials, they make beautiful ships. But that little caper cost the League plenty. Afterwards, Richton rounded up anyone who’d ever spoken to a Leaguesman. I was starting to think he had crushed them completely.

Cyrus: You’re not in the Restless League?

Favis: Me? Ha! If I was, do you think I’d still be here, with precious Governor Richton throwing every known Leaguesman in the Catacombs? In my day things were simple. A Redguard was loyal to the King and that was that. All this new-fangled politics — Crowns and Forebears, Restless League — Not for me.

Cyrus: What of these Catacombs?

Favis: You’re a nosy young fellow, aren’t you? The less you know about them the better. If Richton doesn’t like you, he throws you in Jail. If he really doesn’t like you, he throws you in the Catacombs. No one comes out of there alive.

Cyrus: Stros M’Kai was a Crown stronghold, wasn’t it?

Favis: It was the seat of power for the Crowns. A’Tor led the Crowns here after Thassad’s death. We’ve suffered greatly for it since young Prince A’Tor died. Took all hope out of the Crowns, but not all the fight.

Cyrus: Not all?

Favis: No, the battle in the Old Quarter did that.

Cyrus: What happened to Prince A’Tor?

Favis: Died in battle, like a Redguard hero of old. I’ve heard tales that he ain’t dead, but that’s all rubbish.

Cyrus: Really —

Favis: I spoke with sailors from the Garamar, second in line of battle behind A’Tor’s flagship. They saw him on deck just as the Dragon lit up his ship like a festival bonfire. Weren’t any survivors from the flagship, not a one.

Cyrus: King Thassad’s death was inconvenient for many, but I’ve never heard tell of foul play.

Favis: Nor I. The Forebears preferred Thassad to his son A’Tor, a known League sympathizaer. Thassad had no patience for the League himself. Called them terrorists — Maybe true, but they’ve shown more sense than the Crowns through this whole bloody mess.

Cyrus: I expected to see Stros M’Kai full of Forebears, after their victory.

Favis: Hardly a Forebear victory. It was Imperial might that defeated the Crowns, laddy, make no mistake about that. The for-show few that Richton brought with him mostly stay up in the Palace or drink themselves to stupor. You might run into ’em at the Draggin Tale, looking for trouble, so you’ll want to be careful.

Cyrus: Tell me what happened in the Old Quarter.

Favis: The Crowns made their last stand there after the Dragon destroyed A’Tor’s fleet. Senseless bravado — Should’ve done what the League did, and laid low until the Imperials were off guard. Instead they went down fighting, Redguard heroes but dead all the same.

Cyrus: This Dragon — Have you seen it?

Favis: Not with my own eyes, but I heard tell of it from the survivors. They say Richton keeps it in the Catacombs, feeding it on captured Leaguesmen.

Cyrus: What can you tell me about Governor Richton?

Favis: You don’t look like one of his spies.

Cyrus: Rest assured.

Favis: I’m too old to worry about such things anyway. Hmm. Why was I worrying?

Cyrus: Richton.

Favis: Oh yeah: good Soldier, maybe, but a bloodthirsty beast of a ruler. Enjoys having Stros M’Kai under his thumb, he does. Won’t be much left of it when he’s through.

Cyrus: How do things stand in Stros M’Kai, under Imperial occupation?

Favis: As bad as they can be. Looks peaceful now, doesn’t it? The peace of the grave, it is — Most of the younger folk dead or run off. In the old days, this was the bustling south heart of Hammerfell. Harbor jammed with shipping, sailors from all over walking the streets. What you see now is the ghost of the old Stros M’Kai, dead but it just don’t know it yet.

Cyrus: You’re in charge of this belltower?

Favis: Don’t want to be, but I’m stuck with it. Damn Prnell’s fault. Leaves me stuck here while he sits in the cool breeze and watches Hundin Bay roll by. Doesn’t he think I’d like to wave the flag once in a while? Stubborn as a Mule, he is, and ungrateful to boot.

Cyrus: Prnell…? A friend of yours?

Favis: Friend? Ha! Blind as a Bat, he is, but will he ever let me wave the flag? No. Too stuffy down there, he says. You’d fall off the chair, he says. Always some excuse. Now he’s gone and broken the bell. Don’t know why I put up with him.

Cyrus: I’m not sure I follow you. What flag do you mean?

Favis: We’re supposed to trade off. One of us watches for ships, waves the flag when he sees one, then the other rings the bell to let people know. But he never lets me take my turn in the watchtower. Doesn’t care about my feelings, not at all. Always about what Prnell wants. Hmph!

Cyrus’ Logbook
Favis says a fellow in the watchtower, Prnell, waves a flag when a ship arrives, signaling Favis to ring the bell. Favis complains that Prnell never lets Favis have a turn waving the flag.

Cyrus: The bell doesn’t look broken.

Favis: Well, not broken exactly, but I’m sure it doesn’t ring as loud as it used to. But Prnell wouldn’tlet me have Lakene look at it, would he? Insisted on doing it himself. Typical. Took him half the day, then had the nerve to tell me there’s nothing wrong with it!

Cyrus’ Logbook
Favis says the bell is broken, or it doesn’t ring as loud as it used to.

Cyrus: Prnell said that he lost his eyepiece. Have you seen it?

Favis: That’s just perfect! He’s as blind as true love without his eyepiece! I guess the only way he can see is through his damn telescope now!

Cyrus: So you haven’t seen it, then?

Favis: No. He’ll never leave the telescope chair now! And I’ll never get to wave the flag!

Cyrus: I’m not sure if I’ve met Lakene.

Favis: Me neither. Now that Lakene on the other hand — Handiest young fellow I ever met. Can fix anything. Hey, you look like a handy sort yourself. Maybe you could take a look at it for me?

Cyrus: Sure, I’d be happy to.

Favis: Good lad!

Although I had accepted to fix the bell, I knew that this was part of a quest that I didn’t want to do yet. So I left the belltower, knowing that I would return eventually, and went to the beautiful Plaza of the city, where I started walking around. I stumbled upon no one else but Mariah, a Redguard woman and one of the most notorious characters in the game… While I knew that she had one of the worst character voices in video gaming, I decided to be brave and talk to her!

Mariah: Well met, stranger.

Cyrus: Excuse me miss, can I have a word?

Mariah: Yes, my name’s Mariah. What can I do for you?

Cyrus: Do you know of a woman named Iszara?

Mariah: Used to see her around. But that was a while ago. Last time I saw her — Mnnn… She was headed toward the Cartographer’s. Never saw her again — …And that was three months ago if it were a day.

Cyrus: The Cartographer’s? I wonder what she would want there?

Mariah: Hopefully she was just seeing Maiko, the Mapmaker, and not the boys in the Smuggler’s Den below.

Cyrus: What do you know about this Smugglers Den?

Mariah: Below the Cartographer’s. I’ve seen all sorts coming in and out of there, even so-called “League members” from time to time. I hope Iszara didn’t end up there.

Cyrus: You wouldn’t happen to know the password to the Den, would you?

Mariah: Oh no. I stay far away from that sort of trouble.

Cyrus: Any idea how I can get into the Palace?

Mariah: Richton doesn’t take to uninvited guests, and there’s no way to sneak in that I’ve heard of.

Cyrus: What do you know about this Restless League group?

Mariah: They scare me, frankly. They’ve been around since the days of Thassad, and no one seems to know much about them. They seem to remain as quiet as possible, not like your usual Pirates, there’s something else to them.

Cyrus: And what does life hold for you in Stros M’Kai?

Mariah: Not as much as it used to. Spend my days landscaping. Before the civil war there were more of us. The Town Square and the Park were so beautiful. But I do what I can.

Cyrus: I’m surprised Richton even allows such a practice to continue.

Mariah: City beautification may not be one of Lord Richton’s concerns, but he still needs to put on the right airs, should his Emperor, Tiber Septim, ever check up on him. All leaders like their gardens full and the smell of success in the air.

Cyrus: Where’s the Park?

Mariah: Over by the waterfall! I’m ashamed you didn’t notice… I’ll have to spend more time on it. People really do enjoy it, especially that Arkay boy, Kithral.

Cyrus’ Logbook
The Park is over by the waterfall, Mariah says.

Cyrus: What were you saying about Kithral?

Mariah: He’s one of the Temple members. Loved the park. Would stare at the waterfall and write in his journal. Passionate Crown, that one. But now that you mention it, I haven’t seen him in months.

Cyrus: Thanks Mariah.

Cyrus’ Logbook
Mariah recalls that she saw the Arkay boy, Kithral, visiting the park, gazing at the waterfall, and writing in his journal. She also describes him as a “passionate Crown,” and muses that she hasn’t seen him in months.

After having spoken to Mariah, I saw a drunken Breton man walking around the City Plaza and decided to speak with him.

Cyrus: Name’s Cyrus. You ok?

Crendal: No. I’m Crendal.

Cyrus: You seen a woman named Iszara around?

Crendal: Sure I have! Not that I remember names though… Oh, but they remember mine. Dem broads love Crendal… Have my way with em all, ya know, hee hee.

Cyrus: What do you know about the group called the Restless League?

Crendal: Dem punks. Killed em, killed em all once I did. Bunch a Redguard pansies… Hick… They want me to join em, but I got too much thinkin to do.. Heavy load, I saaay! Richton’s got it out for them. You watch out.

Cyrus: So, Stros M’Kai’s one big party for you, eh?

Crendal: Gotta drink to keep sane in this place. Dem sissies round here think they can make the best of it. They makin nothing. Noooaathing. Richton’s got em all scared.

Cyrus: Richton doesn’t have you scared?

Crendal: No sir. I kicked his fat butt. No throwing me in his Catacombs!

Cyrus: You’re scared of the Catacombs, eh?

Crendal: Didn’t say that. Did. Not. Say. That. Richton throws the Crowns in Jail, and Pirates in the Catacombs. I ain’t neither. Doubt his cronies could take me anyway.

Cyrus: You’ve certainly spent a lot of time at the local tavern.

Crendal: Richton’s got that damned Lizard, Dreekius, charging three gold pieces for lousy Valenwood wine! He freaks me out… Picking flies off the bar with his tongue. I can’t… Hick… I can’t relax with that… Hick… Going on.

Cyrus: Liquor tax?

Crendal: That’s right! It’s a real shock that sailors don’t hang around anymore. He… He… Who’s in charge of that one?

Cyrus: Just like a drunk to blame the bartender for his troubles —

Crendal: Pahh! Who the (hick!) do you blame for yours, tough guy? I know Dreekius’ story… Just no one, no one else does. Damn Argonians…! Dem Darkelves got it right: cage em up and let em hawl ash!

Cyrus: Don’t like Argonians either? Who do you like Crendal?

Crendal: Fine, then, fine. Hang ’round that scaly bastard an’ catch the flu —

Cyrus: There hasn’t been a case of that in two hundred years.

Crendal: All I’m sayin’, those of us play our cards right could open a right-good belt shop.

Cyrus: I’ve had enough.

Crendal: Good!

After talking to Crendal, I decided to see if there was any way to enter the Old Quarter. Unfortunately, the path was blocked.

Since there was no way to get inside, I decided to talk to the Redguard man nearby.

Lakene: Hello there.

Cyrus: Hi. Cyrus. And you are?

Lakene: Lakene. You’re new here aren’t you?

Cyrus: You know anything about a woman named, Iszara?

Lakene: Iszara. Name sounds familiar. But I can’t say that I do.

Cyrus: What do you know about the Restless League?

Lakene: Nothing. Who said that I did?

Cyrus: And what does Stros M’Kai hold for you?

Lakene: I’m what everyone likes to refer to as Mr. Fix-It. I’m cursed by it actually. Oh… And by the way… If you see a man named Trithik, tell him I’ll get to his boat when I have time.

Cyrus: If I’ll see the fellow, I’ll tell him.

Lakene: And as for what keeps me in Stros M’Kai, with the Empire and Richton and all… Well, I’ve lived here for a long time, got friend and roots here — And Stros M’Kai has deep roots… Ancient history… There’s the real mystery.

Cyrus: The real mystery? Huh, I’ve heard too many already.

Lakene: The ruins. In the mountains. Dwarves, sailor. Long dead. An ancient technological trove. Empire’s searching the world for such knowledge. They may have found it here.

Cyrus: What does the Empire hope to find there?

Lakene: Power! Before you know it we’ll have steam-driven carriages and flying machines-whole Empire’s interested in them Dwarves for some reason. Sure, sure, Prince A’Tor, Arkay bless his soul, might’ve said they were dangerous and we should leave dead civilizations be, but, hell, man, there’s progress to be made.

Cyrus: Flying machines? Are you ok?

Lakene: You wait! You just wait! Those Dwarves made up for their lack of magic in other ways. Magic is the crutch of the world! Why build a better bridge when a mage can teleport you to the other side? Things have been the same for thousands of years, and it’s going to end soon.

Cyrus: Steam-driven carriages, huh?

Lakene: That’s right. Dwarves knew how to use the steam. You may laugh, but it’s a powerful force and Richton’s got his boys looking at it right now. Empire may have what they need to conquer all of Tamriel sooner than you think.

Cyrus’ Logbook
Lakene says the Imperials are searching for the ancient technological treasures of the Dwarves in the ruins in the mountains.

Cyrus: What’s wrong with Trithik’s boat?

Lakene: Not sure, really. I think he’s had some vandals at night.

Cyrus: Do you know the password to the Smuggler’s Den?

Lakene: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

I knew that Lakene knew the password to the Smuggler’s Den, but I didn’t want to make him tell me what the password was because, once again, I didn’t want to do the quest that he was going to ask me to do just yet.

Cyrus: We’ll talk later.

Having spoken with Lakene, I decided to go into the shop with the book signs with the text “J’Ferr’s”.

Inside I found bookcases filled with books. A male Suthay-Raht Khajiit was behind the counter.

J’Ffer: Welcome to J’Ffer’s.

Notice how the signs outside say that the Khajiit’s name is “J’Ferr”, and the Khajiit himself says that his name is “J’Ffer”. Still, I’d rather trust the Khajiit; it’s likely that he knew his own name better than the person who made the signs did.

Cyrus: Hail, desertwalker. I am Cyrus.

J’Ffer: J’Ffer is at your service.

Cyrus: My sister, Iszara, is missing. Do you know her?

J’Ffer: An all too common tale in this city. J’Ffer regrets that he cannot count your sister among his friends.

Cyrus: Ever heard of a group called the Restless League?

J’Ffer: Some say Pirates, some say rebels. J’Ffer knows too little to judge. Rumor calls them secret allies of the late Prince. Whether they survived the Crowns’ defeat, J’Ffer cannot say.

Cyrus: Stros M’Kai seems quiet, almost deserted. Has the Imperial occupation been so harsh?

J’Ffer: Tiber Septim has many clansmen, of lesser repute than he. The city of Redguards suffers under one of the least of these, Provisional Governor Richton.

Cyrus: Tiber Septim’s reputation seems to depend on who you ask.

J’Ffer: True. And the Redguards have long memories, as the statue in the Harbor attests. History loves an empire-builder, though. J’Ffer cannot yet say who will write Septim’s epitaph.

Cyrus: I was surprised to see Hunding’s statue still standing, national treasure or not.

J’Ffer: Doubtless our esteemed Governor has reasons aside from Redguard sentiment. Lord Richton has shown indifference to such niceties in other matters — Witness the fate of the Old Quarter.

Cyrus: The Old Quarter? What happened there?

J’Ffer: In his excessive zeal to root out his clan’s enemies, Richton put it to the torch. A silent history of Hammerfell, wrough in stone and wood, now ashes. The Redguards speak of dragonfire in the night, but J’Ffer remained indoors and so saw nothing.

Cyrus: Do you mean a Dragon was here in Stros M’Kai?

J’Ffer: Was, is. J’Ffer hears much, but knows little.

Cyrus: Is there any way to gain an audience with the Governor?

J’Ffer: Proclaiming yourself a Crown might work, but more likely will lead to a speedy death. Few besides Forebears have access to the Palace.

Cyrus: There must be some other way into the Palace.

J’Ffer: An interesting architectural puzzle. The present structure dates to the early Common Era, a harmonious design, that is until our esteemed Governor began his renovations. The foundations are much older, connected to a maze of Catacombs which may predate the arrival of Redguards in Hammerfell.

Cyrus: How do I get into the Catacombs?

J’Ffer: That honor is now reserved for Crowns, who must find it a pleasant place, for none has ever returned.

Cyrus: The Forebears run Stros M’Kai now?

J’Ffer: Redguard politics largely escape me. The Forebears allied with the Empire to win the throne, yet who sits on the high seat of Sentinel? Not Baron Volag, strangely absent from public view since his victory.

Cyrus: Do you think Richton dared murder the Forebears’ leader?

J’Ffer: A strange reward for your chief ally, J’Ffer agrees. And no mention of murder passed J’Ffer’s lips. Still, there is no King in Hammerfell.

Cyrus: Is it so dangerous to be a Crown these days?

J’Ffer: J’Ffer’s interests lie more in the past than with the current upheavals, but even J’Ffer can see that the city has been cleansed of dissidents. Yet Soldiers continue to scour the island, to what end?

Cyrus: Do you have any idea what the Imperials are looking for?

J’Ffer: J’Ffer sent four copies of Dwarven Lore to the Palace last week. It may be no coincidence that Stros M’Kai, with the largest Dwarven Ruins in the windward lands, has received particular attention from the mighty Tiber Septim’s clansmen.

Cyrus: Windward lands? I’m not familiar with that term.

J’Ffer: My apologies. J’Ffer almost forgot he spoke to the unclawed. The coastlands of Tamriel, to the northwest of our desert homeland. Mighty Tiber Septim bids fair to become Clan-Mother to them all, Hammerfell included.

Cyrus: Dwarven ruins? I’m intrigued.

J’Ffer: As well you should be. An amazing site, full of the inexplicable work of that vanished people. No longer open for visitors, however. The Imperials have resealed the ancient gates, for reasons known only to our honored Governor.

Cyrus: Peace, desertwalker. I must go.

After I was done talking to J’Ffer, I left his shop and went to the Mage’s Guild. To the left, you can see concept art of the Mage’s Guild, which actually looks fairly different in the game. I went inside the building, and found myself in a chamber with a table and many chairs in the middle, a carpet on the floor in front of me, a walkway above, a counter to the right, behind which there was a female Wood Elf, bookcases in the further right corner of the chamber, where there was also a pedestal with a book, a door in the further left corner of the chamber, stairs leading up to the left and a door with a “Keep Out” poster on it, also to the left. There was a Redguard man in robes walking around the chamber. I decided to speak with him…

Cyrus: Excuse me. Are you the Archmage?

Jaganvir: Leave me, please. I have much to do.

Cyrus: Can I have a moment?

Jaganvir: Are you slow boy? Begone!

Cyrus: This really won’t take long.

Jaganvir: The Battlespire test awaits. I have no time for you now. Please.

Cyrus: I was wondering…

Jaganvir: Don’t make me throw you out! Now leave me!

Because the Archmage was proving to be… Slightly uncooperative, I decided to speak with the Wood Elf female.

Falicia: Good day.

Cyrus: Hello.

Falicia: Hello, stranger. Welcome to the Mage’s Guild of Stros M’Kai, fully chartered since 638 CE. I’m the resident Shopkeeper hereabouts. Feel free to look around, but remember everything is guild property. If there is anything you’d like to buy, just let me know.

Cyrus: I am looking for a young woman named Iszara.

Falicia: The name is not familiar, sir; might she have been a member of the Guild?

Cyrus: I doubt it, but she may have been.

Falicia: My apprenticeship here has lasted several years, and I haven’t met any member named Iszara yet. But, who knows, many members of the Upper Cabal are of the secretive sort.

Cyrus: It’s unlikely then, but she may have been a customer here at your shop.

Falicia: I can’t recall anybody by that name, but so many people come here from day to day it’s no surprise. And I would be the only one who works the shop since my apprenticeship, for some cruel reasons, seems relegated to retail.

Cyrus: How long do you have to be an apprentice, Ms…?

Falicia: Falicia. And it’s been way too long. I think the Guild has a prejudice against Elves based on the fact that we live so long — — And have the potential of reaching heights no Human Wizard could ever dream for, unless he goes the rotting way, which so many do, but I guess I’m just being bitter. One day I’ll make Archmage, and maybe none too soon considering there’s an opening now.

Cyrus: Who is the Archmage?

Falicia: Human named Jaganvir, a real hardcase. Doesn’t really have enough secrets to be Archmage, but the last one was killed at the Battle of Stros M’Kai so there was a vacuum to fill.

Cyrus: What happened to the last Archmage?

Falicia: Voa’s Redguard blood got the better of him. He died in the Battle of Stros M’Kai fighting alongside the Prince.

Cyrus: The Mage’s Guild helped the Crowns in the battle?

Falicia: Not the Mage’s Guild, just former Archmage Voa. He was a Nationalist as well as a Guildmember, and couldn’t help himself. Got killed for mundane politics.

Cyrus: Do you think Jaganvir knows anything about Iszara?

Falicia: Wouldn’t tell you if he did. He doesn’t talk to mundanes, and he’s too busy studying for the Battlespire to be seen lately.

Cyrus: What’s the Battlespire?

Falicia: A War College set up by the Empire to test its Battlemages; an Elite Mage’s Guild, really. Archmage Jaganvir’s got his sights on the Battlespire recently, though why anybody would want to hang out with those losers is beyond me.

Cyrus: Maybe I could speak to somebody in the Upper Cabal…

Falicia: Sure. You’ll be right after me, as soon as you get ten years of apprenticeship under your belt and can cast an “alter reality” spell. The new Archmage, Jaganvir, he doesn’t talk to nobody, and would make everybody else in the Guild do likewise, except for me, since I run the Shop.

Cyrus: Has the Empire interfered with the Mage’s Guild yet?

Falicia: Of that I am not at liberty to say. Let’s just say Archmage Jaganvir is trying to stay on their good side. He’s got his greedy eyes on the Battlespire.

Cyrus: Do you know anything about the Restless League?

Falicia: I’m afraid not. The Mage’s Guild tries to stay out of the lesser politics.

Cyrus: What kind of town is Stros M’Kai?

Falicia: I’m too busy studying to pay it much mind. Plus, with the Empire here, the streets feel kind of dangerous.

Cyrus: So you never leave the Guild?

Falicia: If you want to know the truth, wide open spaces kind of make me nervous. Many Wood-Elves are like that, you know.

Cyrus: They miss the canopies of the Valenwood trees…

Falicia: Our second sky, the Middle Green. Let’s just say I don’t wander around in Stros M’Kai enough to know that much about it.

Cyrus: How old is the Mage’s Guild?

Falicia: This one, or the institution itself? This one is fairly new, two hundred years and a fourth more. Modern magicks came late to Hammerfell.

Cyrus: Redguards have strong traditions.

Falicia: But even they took finnaly to the notion of a more controlled and conscious auspice for magic. The Mage’s Guild was a reaction to the mass hedgery of old, when magic was wild and unbalanced.

Cyrus: How very modern for an Elf.

Falicia: When you’re a student you embrace the institutional line– If you want to graduate.

Cyrus: Thanks for your help.

Falicia: The name’s Falicia. I’ll be here.

Cyrus: Thanks, Falicia.

Falicia: Thanks yourself.

After talking to Falicia, I went to the books in the bookcases.

Cyrus: Volumes on the art of magick. I would never have the patience.

On the shelf were a piece of Amber and a vial of Orc’s Blood.

Cyrus: Sure smells like Orc’s Blood.

On a small table was a Crystal Ball.

Cyrus: Huh. What’s a Wizard without a Crystal Ball.

There was also a Unicorn’s Horn on the table.

Cyrus: This Horn looks to be from a Unicorn.

On a shelf of a bookcase, there were some Pig’s Sac and a Salamander.

Cyrus: It’s a small purple Salamander.

I went to the book on the pedestal and activated it.

Cyrus: Hmmm. Text on potions. Says here that Orc’s Blood mixed with Pig’s Sac provides great strength.

I then went to the door with the “Keep Out” poster and entered it. Inside there was an empty opened chest and a table with destroyed alchemical tools. There was also a locked door which led outside. I left the small room returning to the chamber in which Falicia was, after which I went up the stairs. Above, I found a walkway which led to a magical pool, which had the power to show the past… And the future.

Looking in the pool for the first time, I saw the future; Cyrus in a grave with a sword. Looking in the pool again, I saw the past; the moment when Cyrus killed his sister Iszara’s husband in a brawl. After I looked in the pool the third time, I saw, as Cyrus put it, “old friends long gone”.

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