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Helseth's Letter

Author: 
Qwerty
Librarian Comment: 

Upon insistence from a certain Daggerfall lead designer, I am obliged to disclose the source of inspiration behind this quest's naughty side. It turns out that the image of a berry half-submerged in cream was taken from a verse by Robert Herrick (1591-1674), an English Cavalier poet, who is best known for his "To Virgins, To Make Much of Time" (the one that begins "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may"). One of his lesser-known poems, the inspiration for that line, goes like this:

Upon the Nipples of Julia's Breast
Have ye beheld (with much delight)
A red rose peeping through a white?
Or else a cherry (double graced)
Within a lily center-placed?
Or ever marked the pretty beam
A strawberry show half drowned in cream?
A pure smooth pearl, and orient too?
So like to this, nay all the rest,
Is each neat niplet of her breast.

This reference was brought to my attention as a response to a certain comment of mine which would claim that "TES2: Daggerfall was designed by a bunch of horny teenage boys". Needless to say, after being confronted by such an impressive example to look back at, I wholeheartedly retract the word "teenage" from the above statement.


 

Prince Helseth of Wayrest gives you what seems like a simple delivery quest. He wants you to play messenger boy for a while and deliver a letter to a certain high-ranking Wayrest noble - one Lord Castellian. He's the head of Wayrest Elder Council, and wields considerable influence in the matters of the state.

When you deliver the letter, Prince Helseth gives you a clue as to what really happened to King Lysandus:

Anyway, here is the (magic item) I promised. Never let it be said that Prince Helseth is not a man of his bond.

Oh yes, I promised to tell you something of the situation in Daggerfall. I suspect my family has more to do with it than is commonly known. We sent advisors to urge King Lysandus and King Camaron to mend their differences on the eve of the Battle of Cryngaine Field. Lysandus was digustingly loyal to the emperor, where Camaron was fighting for more autonomy. According to the advisor's report, they arrived too late because they were waylaid by the orcs of Gortwog en route. However, I have heard stories that, at least some of our advisors arrived at Lysandus' tent and spoke to him briefly. At this time, I cannot say more. If I receive more information or if the situation progresses, I will certainly send you word.

This is directly relevant to your quest to calm Lysandus' spirit. Good info. Thanks, Prince Helseth. Not only that, Prince Helseth would refer you to his royal parents as well, thus enabling the next quest in the chain, the one that has to do with Barenziah's unofficial biography.

But there's more to this quest...

If you decide to be a bad courier and open the letter... And this is here things get complicated. For me at least. Because I've found two versions of this letter. Here's one:

My Dear Lord Castellian,

Forgive this rough delivery, but it would have been impolitic to approach you at the palace with this potential problem. Unfortunately, your much deserved vacation will have to temporarily suspended until this matter is settled.

I refer to your sister, Lady Pasipha. For years, she has been one of the most glamorous figures at the Wayrest court, the darling of all who appreciate beauty and grace. Rather recently, rumors have circulated that the gold she has spent on her gowns and jewels could not have possibly come from her husband, who is at present, impecunious. Distasteful conjectures followed, none of which worth the ink I would use for recitation.

To be quite blunt, a person, who must remain anonymous, postulated to me that you were borrowing funds from the royal treasury to support your sister's extravagance. Of course, I defended your honor, but copies of the Royal books were produced that seemed to support the allegation. I am thus uncertain of the best procedure to take next.

Do not doubt, sir, that I am convinced of your integrity as senior member of the Elder Circle of Wayrest. I only wish for the matter of the financial records be straightened so if they are brought to Eadwyre's attention, they can be confidently defended.

Please send a reply with this trusted courier. I would prefer to meet with you as soon as possible, of course.

Very truly yours, Helseth

And here's the other:

My Dear Lord Castellian,

Sorry about the necessity of delivering this letter by the roughest possible service, but it would be unthinkable to approach you at the castle on such a delicate matter. I have long admired your loyalty to the crown and neutrality in internal affairs. Understand that I only want to save your dignity from a possibly embarrassing scenario.

The problem rests in your sister, the Lady Pasipha, who though she resides abroad still communicates regularly with members of court. I understand and respect the depth of your sibling love and affection for one another, for, in response to a curious inquiry of mine, Lady Pasipha sent me several touching letters penned in your hand.

"Have you ever espied with delight a red berry half-drowned in cream? So I dreamed of you, my dearest love, pouring my soul into you, sweet, for your touch, dear, my soul is quite forfeit."

While you and I know the innocence of your fondness for the lady, the more prurient minds at court, as you are aware, are inclined toward grotesque misintepretation. Her husband, I understand, is famous for his jealous rages. I am of several minds on the matter, how to best avoid possible negative reaction, and would appreciate your response at the soonest possible opportunity. I will await you at Castle Wayrest.

Helseth,
Prince of Wayrest

Now... I don't seem to recall which version is actually active in the game. Chances are, this depends on whether the child-lock is turned on. Further investigation is necessary.

The point of this quest is not simple blackmail. Remember, the question of succession is the hot issue in Wayrest. Lord Castellian supports the old succession law; this makes him an ally to Princess Elysana's cause, since she's the ruling king's only blood heir. Helseth, naturally, uses his means to silence Lord Castellian. This the whole point. After Elysana gets bethrothed with you-know-who, this quest goes inactive, since Elysana's claims are no longer the problem. Before you fulfil the quest, the rumors you hear on streets sound like:

  • Lord Castellian is the most powerful of Wayrest's councilors.
  • I hear that Lord Castellian has the backing to block Prince Helseth's war plans.
  • Lord Castellian seems to be favoring Princess Elysana in the succession.
  • The Elder Council seems inclined to uphold the venerable law of succession.

And after you complete the quest - Helseth succeeds in his blackmail - the rumors are:

  • Lord Castellian is constantly in Prince Helseth's company since his holiday.
  • The Elder Council is talking earnestly about eliminating the law of succession.

Needless to say, if you read the letter, the powers that be won't be happy at all. In fact, Lord Castellian will order your head. And Prince Helseth with deem you untrustworthy. But the letter is just too much fun not to read.

This quest is tightly connected with Elysana's robe quest, since that quest is about upholding Elysana's inheritance claim.

Next: Barenziah's Biography.