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Of Brands and Bones

Author: 
Xui'al

While scouting the Memorial District, the Vestige encounters the Drake of Blades

Drake of Blades: I’ve been watching them turn over graves... the Worm Cult, I mean. It’s an ugly business, isn’t it? I used to come here to clear my head. It was quiet - peaceful. Now it’s full of these idiots. Shame.

Vestige: Why is the Worm Cult digging up these bodies?

Drake of Blades: They’re raising the dead. Most are being outfitted as soldiers, but something’s off.

I’ve been watching one group in particular - branded skeletons digging in random locations. They’re clearly looking for something, I just don’t know what.

Vestige: You said they branded skeletons? What does that mean?

Drake of Blades: Necromancers often brand skeletons to bind them to a specific task. In this case, digging.  If you can steal a Daedric brand and a chapel key from one of these cultists, we might be able to discover what Molag Bal and his skeletons are digging for.

Vestige: All right. I’ll find a Daedric Brand and a key to the chapel.

Drake of Blades: Any one of these cultists could be carrying the Daedric Brand or a key to the chapel. So... happy hunting? I have to track down a lead of my own. Once you’ve branded a skeleton and heard what it has to say, meet me in the Undertaker’s Office.

Vestige: What can you tell me about the Daedric Brand?

Drake of Blades: Ever handled a cattle brand? Same principle. There’s a hot end - press it onto a skull. Should be a simple matter of waiting for the skeleton to assemble and makes it confession. Don’t worry if the skeleton falls apart. These things take practice.

Vestige: What do you mean by “make its confession?”

Drake of Blades: Right. The brand binds the skeleton to a single, very specific task. Once you’ve set the mark, the skeleton should recite the details of the task aloud. That will tell us everything we need to know about what they’re looking for.

Vestige: So the skeleton will talk?

Drake of Blades: Yes. And also no. It should be like an echo of the caster’s will... or something.

Honestly, I don’t know all the details. I don’t make a practice of casting spells on dead people. I just read a lot.

Vestige: Can you tell me anything else about the skeletons.

Drake of Blades: I’m not sure what you mean. They’re reanimated dead people. I actually quite like skeletons. It’s a shame they’re so repulsive and dangerous. I’m sure that sounds bad. Please remember, I am not a crazy person.

Vestige: Why do you like skeletons?

Drake of Blades: They never lie.

Spycraft is all about observation - scraping away lies to find the truth. I’m very good at it, but it makes my head hurt. Skeletons are what they are, and that’s it. It’s refreshing. That doesn’t make them any less dangerous though.

Vestige: Why do we need a key to the chapel?

Drake of Blades: It’s quiet, and full of skeletons. You shouldn’t be disturbed there.

The worm cultists were storing bones there for a while, but now they tend to avoid it. Locked it up tight. It’s not all that surprising. It still smells of incense. It feels holy.

Vestige: That enough to keep them out?

Drake of Blades: Well, I also hanged a few of their leaders in there. Right over the altar. That made an impression.

Why are you making a face? Oh... sacrilege. Right. The Eight will understand. After all, it helped keep the cultists out. Ends and means. Simple.

The Vestige collects the brand and chapel key, and uses them on a skeleton, who mentions the “Dragonfire Cathedral. The Vestige then meets the Drake of Blades at the undertaker’s office.

Drake of Blades: You made it. Excellent. I’m sorry about the mess, but this cultist was not very forthcoming. All I got was this map. What did you find?

Vestige: Molag Bal’s skeletons are digging up the “Dragonfire Cathedral”.

Drake of Blades: Dragonfire cathedral? Are you sure you heard that correctly? Skeletons aren’t all that articulate?

Vestige: A ghostly voice said to seek the Dragonfire Cathedral and “quench the light”.

Drake of Blades: Hm. That must have been disconcerting.

Vestige: What do you know about the Dragonfire Cathedral?

Drake of Blades: It’s a legend. Folktale... like Arkay’s magic breeches.

According to the story, Alessia received a vision from Akatosh in one of the old Ayleid shrines beneath the city. Her followers tore it down and built a cathedral there.

Vestige: Why would Molag Bal want to find it?

Drake of Blades: The cathedral is supposed to be the resting place of Akatosh’s “second gift” to Alessia - a powerful relic. What the relic actually does? I have no idea.

Molag Bal must be after this relic - that’s why he’s looking for the cathedral.

Vestige: So how do we stop him?

Drake of Blades: The map I took from this idiot points to the crematorium. I’ll bet that’s where Molag Bal’s skeletons are digging now.

Honestly, I’m not convinced that the Dragonfire Cathedral is real. But we can’t take the risk. We have to stop them.

Vestige: So we go to the crematorium and...

Drake of Blades: We demolish the dig site.

Worm cultists have been using concentrated kindlepitch to clear rubble. The Xivkyn Soulbranders have been distributing it since they arrived. If you can acquire some, we can use it to destroy their operation.

Vestige: All right. I’ll find some Kindlepitch and meet you at the crematorium.

Drake of Blades: Once I’ve finished disposing of the body, I’ll make for the crematorium. It’s probably full of cultists. I’ll try to thin the herd before you arrive.

By that I mean I’m going to kill them all, in case that wasn’t clear.

Vestige: So this cultist didn’t have any other information?

Drake of Blades: None that he was keen to share. He did a lot of begging. Sentiment. I learned a lot about his mother, for instance. I don’t know why people always talk about their mothers.

It’s probably my fault. I’ve never been a very good interrogator.

The Vestige collects kindlepitch and blows up the dig site before meeting the Drake of Blades back in the sewers.

Drake of Blades: You look awful! I’m sorry, that sounded bad. You look... unkempt. To be honest, neither of us should have been standing that close to an explosion. My ears are still ringing.  So Molag Bal’s dig is completely destroyed?

Vestige: Yes, it’s done.

Drake of Blades: Excellent. This will buy us some time. If the Dragonfire Cathedral actually exists, we need to make sure it doesn’t fall into Molag Bal’s hands, right? Yes. Take this for your trouble, and stay in touch. There’s more to Molag Bal’s plan, I know it.