Sunday, January 4, 2015

Black Horse Dispatches 15 - Cloak and Dagger

Continued from Dispatch 14 - The Lost Horn of Jurgen Windcaller.

Loredas, 23rd of Last Seed.

I shall not go into much detail about our trip to our contact. That doesn't mean that there wasn't anything of interest, but I did not wish to linger. Nevertheless:

- We saw two corpses of male Imperials, left with nothing more than a loincloth - floating upright above the ground, with outstretched arms.

- A Breton afflicted with a terrible disease who claims he only survived thanks to Peryite's protection. He was on his way back to High Rock, as he felt that their "shepherd has lost his way". and that he feels that "Peryite's wrath may consume those who remain with him".

- Another Imperial-Stormcloak skirmish (Win for the Stormcloaks, 2:0).

- Another encounter with M'aiq who didn't made any more sense than before.

- Rumors that a group vampire hunters called the "Dawnguard" are reforming.

No further dragons, though, for which I am grateful. Which helps me get to the contact without delays, and after we do the whole Cloak and Dagger routine, this person, whom I shall call the Agent, gets down to business.

"So you are the Dragonborn I've been hearing so much about. I think you are looking for this" and hands me the horn.

"We need to talk. Follow me."

A short time later we reach a well-hidden secret room.

"The Greybeards seem to think you're the Dragonborn. I hope they're right."

"You're the one who took the horn?"

"Surprised? I guess I am getting pretty good at my harmless ----- act."

"What's with all the cloak and dagger?"

"You can't be too careful. Thalmor spies are everywhere."

"What do you want with me?"

"I didn't go to all this trouble on a whim. I needed to be sure that it wasn't a Thalmor trap.

I am no your enemy. I already gave you the horn. I am actually trying to help you. I just need you to hear me out."

Well, then she came to the right person - I am always willing to listen. But she doesn't seem to recognize me.

"Go on. I'm listening."

"Like I said on my note, I've heard that you might be a Dragonborn. I'm part of a group that has been looking for you... well, someone like you, for a very long time.

If you really are Dragonborn, that is. Before I tell you any more, I need to be sure I can trust you."

"Why did you take the horn from Ustengrav?"

"I knew that the Greybeards would send you there if they thought you were Dragonborn. They are nothing if not predictable. When you showed up here, I knew you were the one the Greybeards sent, and not some Thalmor plant."

I file this under very interesting for later reference. The Greybeards claimed that the last person to be summoned to High Hrothgar was Talos/Tiber Septim. Unless they regularly have to weed out false Dragonborn aspirants (was Ulfric one of them?) by sending them to Ustengrav, this "group" must have records that go back a very long time indeed.

"You said the Thalmor are after you?"

"Yes. We're very old enemies. And if my suspicions are correct, they might have something to do with the dragons returning. But that isn't important right now. What is important is that you might be Dragonborn."

"Why are you looking for a Dragonborn?"

"We remember what most don't - that the Dragonborn is the ultimate dragonslayer. You're the only one that can kill a dragon permanently by devouring its soul."

Gee, thanks for reminding me - I feel uncomfortable enough about this already, and I feel even less comfortable by deliberately seeking out dragons and serving as a man-shaped Soul Gem for them.

"Can you do it? Can you devour a dragon's soul?"

"Yes, that's how I first learned I was Dragonborn."

"Good. And you'll have a chance to prove it to me soon enough."

No, I don't like where this conversation is going at all...

"So what's the part you're not telling me?"

"Dragons aren't just coming back, they're coming back to life.

They weren't gone somewhere for all those years. They were dead, killed off centuries ago by my predecessors. Now something's happening to bring them back to life. And I need you to help me stop it."

"Do you know how crazy this sounds?"

"Ha. A few years ago, I said almost the same thing to a colleague of mine. Well, it turned out he was right and I was wrong."

"What makes you think that dragons are coming back to life?"

"I know they are. I've visited their ancient burial mounds and fount them empty. And I've figured out where the next one will come back to life. We are going to go there, and you will kill that dragon. If we succeed, I will tell you anything you want to know."

"How did you figure all this out?"

"You should know. You got the map for me. The dragonstone you got for Farengar, remember?"

"Right. You were at Dragonsreach when I gave it to him."

"So you were paying attention. I arranged to have Farengar retrieve the dragonstone for me.

It's what I do. I make things happen from behind the scenes. After all, here you are."

"The dragonstone was some kind of map?"

"Yes. A map of ancient dragon burial sites. I've looked at which ones are now empty. The pattern is pretty clear."

"It seems to be spreading from the southeast, starting in the Jeralls near Riften. The one near Kynesgrove is next, if the pattern holds."

"So that's where we are headed?

"Correct. If we can get there before it happens, maybe we'll learn how to stop it."

"Well... let's go find this dragon."

Continued in Dispatch 16 - A Blade in the Dark.