|Posted on June 20, 2014 at 9:20 PM|
I was ready. Without any sort of doubt clouding my mind, I knew I was ready. I picked up all of the supplies I would need (and that wasn't much, considering) and tried not to wake Julan as I did so. He was not coming with me. He's only going to get himself killed.
Sunder and Keening were packed up, and they were the only weapons I would be able to use while I was out, finally able to kill him. Dagoth Ur. The Shamat. He needed to die.
"Where are you going?" Julan asked.
I was surprised. I thought he was still asleep.
"I think you know where," I said, pulling on a pair of ebony boots over my shoes. I had obtained the ebony armor recently.
"You can't do it alone," he declared. Julan got out of bed and took my hand. "In fact, there is no way I'm going to let you do it alone."
"Julan," I said sharply, "he could kill you!"
"And at this point, I really don't care."
Julan was stubborn. He always was. There was no way I could convince him to stay at Ghostgate at least. Despite the fact that I was no longer a wanted criminal, the Ordinators still hated us both. Julan could hardly wait to be out of there.
I could at least let him walk with me until we reached Dagoth Ur's citadel.
There we were. Standing by the door to what looked like a dwemer ruin, overlooking what looked like Oblivion itself. The heat was unbearable and dust started blowing my way, but given the few months I had lived in Morrowind, I knew to keep my mouth shut this time.
"So, we're here," Julan announced, "and we have a plan...I mean, it's basically the same plan I had all along, aside from Kagrenac's tool's. Walk in, and kill Dagoth."
"Yeah, we're here," I chose to disregard Julan's other words, and turned to him with a sad smile. "You don't have to do this, you know," I said to him. "You can still go back, lead the tribe…people are depending on you, you shouldn't give all that up for me."
"I'm not just doing this for you," Julan said, "I'm also doing it for me. For Vvardenfell. Besides, this was once my mission. I want to see how it ends."
He pulled me closer after a few seconds. "Want to hear a secret, Ulina?"
"There have been times when I've wondered if I was doing the right thing...Dagoth had planned to drive the Empire from Morrowind, and that's part of what the Incarnate is meant to do, too. Sometimes I wondered if the prophecies really meant that the Incarnate would join with Dagoth Ur, to free Morrowind. And when we were on the mountain, that first time, I had a dream….a dream of Morrowind ruled by the Sixth House."
"What was it like?" I whispered into the ash-filled air. It was a wonder Julan could even hear me.
"It was wonderful, actually," he admitted. "The false gods and the Empire were gone, and the Dunmer were finally free. Everything was perfect…but even then I could tell there was something wrong with the image, an indescribable pale sickness about it all. Somehow I knew the image was false, but still I was so blind. I hated the Empire, the Tribunal, and sometimes I thought that anything would be better."
"Even Dagoth Ur?"
"Yes," Julan nodded. "Even Dagoth Ur. I told you I was blind. Now, I've seen enough of the Sixth House to know it isn't true. This land will become a place of misery, suffering and death if he isn't stopped. I may not like the Emperor, or the Tribunal, but...they're not evil. Things aren't so bad, really. Dagoth Ur is evil. I know destroying him is the right thing to do."
"You're right. Let's finish this," I said.
"Remember, my love, that I'm not afraid to die." Julan and I were now facing the door to Dagoth Ur's citadel. "But that doesn't mean I'm planning on it. And if I'm not dying, you're certainly not dying either. This is no suicide mission. This is just like any other quest. We complete it, and we go home. Now let's do this."
I nodded, and pulled the crank beside the door. Dagoth Ur had to be stopped, even if we didn't come back out alive.
"Come, Nerevar. Friend or traitor, come. Come and look upon the Heart, and Akulakhan. And bring Wraithguard... I have need of it."
"Ignore it," Julan said. "He's trying to trick you."
As if I need reminding, I thought. The sound of the working dwemer machinery in the room made me want to shake in fear. If it was only a few months ago, I probably would have.
A few steps into the ruin, I heard Dagoth Ur's voice again. It was louder this time.
"Come to the Heart Chamber. I wait for you there, where we last met, countless ages ago."
"Bastard," Julan muttered.
The halls ran deeper and deeper underground, and the air only became more sweltering hot. It was ridiculous, given that it was almost Evening Star. Even for Morrowind…
Downstairs, I found another large, metal door and I pushed it open.
"Come to me, through fire and war. I welcome you."
"Don't listen to him, Ulina," Julan reminded me.
Ash monsters and Ascended Sleepers were in the next room, but they spotted us. Fire spells and other nasty attacks headed our way, before they lay dead on the ground. I reassured myself by telling myself it would all be over soon.
"Welcome, Moon-and-Star. I have prepared a place for you. Come. Bring Wraithguard to the Heart Chamber. Together let us free the cursed false gods."
"Free them so that you can take their power for yourself, you mean," I muttered.
The chamber just kept getting even darker and scarier, with dwemer centurions and sixth house minions popping out of nowhere.
"I swear, when we're done here, I never want to see another dwemer ruin again," Julan said.
"Welcome, Nerevar. Together we shall speak for the Law and the Land, and shall drive the mongrel dogs of the Empire from Morrowind."
I felt bile rise up in my throat. He thinks I'm Nerevar.
There was one lone Dagoth standing by a rickety wooden door. Julan started aiming his bow at the monster in front of us, but the now booming voice in my head stopped me.
"Is this how you honor the Sixth House, and the tribe unmourned? Come to me openly, and not by stealth."
"Damn you," I spat, even though I was aware he couldn't hear a word I said. Julan still shot the Dagoth anyways, before I opened the door.
In the next room, there stood Dagoth Ur himself.
He was the man in the golden mask.
He was the one that haunted my dreams more or less every night.
And there he stood, cackling madly. His skin was the color of ash, and all he wore was a red loincloth and several necklaces.
"Mephala…" Julan breathed.
I wanted to say something too, except I didn't.
"It began here," Dagoth Ur's voice was barely a voice. It was more like an echo. Probably because he was wearing that stupid mask. "So it will end here. Have you any parting words? Or would you prefer to skip the speeches, and get to our business?"
I said nothing, but took a few steps towards Dagoth Ur. I could sense that he wasn't taking this seriously at all.
"You are the challenger here, after all. So to you goes the courtesy of the first blow," He finished.
"Parting words?" I finally asked.
It sounded like I had lost my voice. Maybe Dagoth Ur had this effect on everyone?
"Now that you have come to me here, there can be but one result. Many times I have considered offering to share this place with you," Dagoth Ur was starting to walk - not pace, but walk - across the room, slowly circling me. He may have considered sharing this 'place' with me, but I didn't want him to. I wanted him dead. "I considered offering to accept your oath of service. You might try to buy my trust by giving me Wraithguard, Keening, and Sunder. I thought we might once again be friends... comrades... brothers in arms…"
Never, I thought. Who did he think he was? He sent his sixth house minions after me, trying to have me killed and then he wanted me to join him?
"Don't listen to him, Ulina!" Julan said. "Whatever he's telling you...it's all a lie!"
"But I have won this place and power by right of conquest..." the man in the golden mask continued. Despite everything, his voice was melodic. In fact, it was almost persuasive...
"...by right of daring and enterprise. I will not risk it to cunning and deceit. I offer you no deals. If you are my enemy, I cannot trust you. And even if you are not my enemy, I cannot let you live.
"It will all be decided here. I believe I will prevail. But I cannot be sure, and I am vain enough that, should I fall, I would wish to be remembered in my own words. So, if you have final questions you would ask, ask them now. I have final questions I would ask you, if you would answer. My first question is: Are you really Nerevar reborn?"
I looked towards Julan, who stood to the side as if he was made of stone. I had no idea what to say. What could I say that would scare Dagoth Ur?
"By the grace of gods and fate, I am Nerevar reborn," I replied, in as confident a voice as I could muster. In all honesty, I wasn't sure if I was actually Nerevar Reborn, but Dagoth Ur seemed too. I was certain of it. I thought I saw him tense up a bit, as silly as it sounds.
"That is bitter," Dagoth Ur said. "The gods and fates are cruel. I served you faithfully once, Lord Nerevar, and you repaid me with death. I hope this time it will be you who pays for your faithlessness."
I felt myself scowl. I am NOT Nerevar!
"My second question is: if you win, what do you plan to do with the power from the Heart? Will you make yourself a god, and establish a thearchy? Or will you complete Akulakhan, and dispute control of Tamriel with the Septims? Or will you share the Heart with your followers, as I have, and breed a new race of divine immortals?"
"That," my voice was heavier now, "is not your concern." It never would be. My plan for the heart was a secret to him, and by the time he would know, it would probably be too late. I can do this.
Dagoth Ur laughed again.
"Well. Perhaps there may be surprises in store for me yet. Or perhaps you obscure your plans on principle. Or perhaps you are an instinctive bluffer. No matter." He had stopped circling me. He was now staring directly at me. I would have to really stand my ground here.
"My final question is: if I had offered to let you join me, would you have surrendered Wraithguard, Sunder, and Keening to me to seal your oath?"
"No, I would never join you," I snarled, then as an afterthought, I added, "you monster."
I unsheathed my sword after that, and began attacking Dagoth Ur, and he started attacking back. With his bare hands! Luckily, I was quick enough to strike him. Dagoth Ur's corpse lay on the ground.
"Something doesn't seem right about this, Ulina," Julan said. "I mean, it's Dagoth Ur...didn't that seem a bit too easy?"
When I turned back to face Dagoth Ur's body, I saw that it had completely disappeared without a trace. There wasn't even any blood.
"Yeah," I said. "We need to find him."
Just as I said those words, another door opened, revealing a hidden room. I only had to take one guess as to where Dagoth Ur had gone.
Dagoth Ur didn't even attempt to hide his contempt when Julan and I entered the heart chamber. In fact, the first thing he did was shoot a formidable fireball at us.
"DUCK!" I yelled, and then pushed Julan safely out of the way.
"What a fool you are."
Back in the other room, Dagoth Ur actually sounded somewhat polite. That was no longer. He seemed to be running on pure rage now. He just kept shooting fireball after fireball, scorching the stone ground beneath us.
"I'm a god! How can you kill a god?!" He screamed.
But that was not my concern. Where in Oblivion is the heart?!
"What a grand and intoxicating innocence!" Dagoth Ur laughed after he said those words. I was starting to get really sick of his laugher. "How can you be so naïve?"
Just then, I saw it out of the corner of my eye; the heart. It was in a great pair of ivory ribs, beating faster and faster as time went by. The trouble was, it was way down. I could see no way of getting to it without jumping, and that would without a doubt cause my death.
"No Recall or Intervention can work in this place. Come. Lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy."
"Shut up," I yelled at him. Dagoth Ur ignored me and started to move closer. Almost as if he was going to knock me off the ledge…
I was done for…
That was when I heard a yelp, and then a loud cry. Dagoth Ur's body had been knocked to the ground by Julan, and he was struggling to keep ahold of his arms and legs, preventing him from getting up.
"Run," Julan advised. I spotted a spiraling staircase down towards the heart, and then found myself face to face with it.
It was still beating. I took a deep breath, and then pulled out Sunder.
"What are you doing?"
I ignored Dagoth Ur, and then swung the hammer once at the heart. It looked more than a bit battered now.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! STOP! YOU FOOL!"
Except it's you who's the fool, I thought resentfully as I threw Sunder off onto the floor. I threw it harder than I intended to, though, and it fell into the lava below.
I still continued to ignore Dagoth Ur, and then pulled out Keening and hit the heart once.
Three times. And then a fourth. Blood began to spurt across the room, and I felt it spatter all over my face. It was warm and smelt strongly of the blight, if that was even possible. I was about to hit it a forth time, but I felt something grab the back of my neck.
"You have no idea what you are doing, do you?" Dagoth Ur spat. I didn't reply, but stabbed him in the shoulder with Keening. Dagoth Ur took a few steps back, but didn't cry out in pain. It probably didn't hurt nearly as much as it did when I attacked his precious heart. In the distance, I saw Julan across the bridge. He shot a formidable looking fireball from across the room, and Dagoth Ur turned to face him again. I took this chance to stab the heart one last time.
The heart disappeared, and a sudden white, blinding light struck across the room. I felt a sudden rumble underneath my feet, and then took that as my queue to run across the rickety bridge. Luckily for me, it collapsed as soon as I reached Julan, and I fell into his arms. Dagoth Ur, meanwhile, was not so lucky. He fell into the lava.
It was over.
I had done it.
The blight was gone.
The room continued to rumble and shake, and I looked up.
"We need to get out of here!" Julan yelled, and took my hand a second later. We ran to the top of the room, and I pulled a hidden crank in the floor. We were back in the cave. All was quiet, except for the sound of heavy breathing coming from Julan and I. I slumped against the metal door.
"I can't believe it's actually over," I said.
For a moment, I thought I had fallen asleep, but I saw a shadow appear by the wooden door. The shadow became more and more definite as time passed.
It wasn't a shadow. It was a woman, wearing a beautiful blue dress. Her skin was the color of ash, similar to the Dunmer. She held out her hands, and started walking towards me with a smile on her face, before holding out a hand. I took it, and then found myself back on my feet.
She nodded, and then took Julan's hand in a similar manner, and then began speaking. Julan seemed to be in shock. Her voice was familar to me for some reason. I had heard it before. In a dream…
"You no longer bear the burden of prophecy, Ulina Therayn. You have achieved your destiny. You are free. The doomed Dwemer's folly, Lord Dagoth's temptation, the Tribunal's seduction, the god's heart freed, the prophecy fulfilled. All fates sealed and sins redeemed.
"If you have pity, mourn the loss, but let the weeping cease. The Blight is gone, and the sun's golden honey gilds the land. Hail savior, Hortator, and Nerevarine. Your people look to you for protection. Monster and villains great and small still threaten the people of Vvardenfell. Enemies and evils abound, yet indomitable will might rid Morrowind of all its ills. For you, our thanks and blessings; our gift and token given."
The woman held out her hands again, and a ring appeared out of thin air, resting in her open palms.
"Come; take this thing from the hand of god."
Slowly at first, I took a step forwards, and then took the ring from her hand, and then she disappeared. I had no idea of what to make of what had just happened.
"Well, what do you know," Julan began, then took my hand and inspected the ring I held. "Azura was watching over us after all. Well," he smiled, "she was watching over you anyways."
I stared at him. "That was Azura?"
"I'll explain later, my love," Julan pulled out his telepathy ring, "but first, let's go home. I never thought I'd say this, but I think we could both use a bath after all this mess!"