By dankempster 9 Comments
Day Six - Kynareth's Will Be Done?
I rose before the sun this morning, but that choice was not my own - I woke to find a hooded figure standing over me in the darkness, and a dagger at my throat. What my attacker had not reckoned on was my power of the Voice. With a cry of "Fus!" I pushed him away from me, and drove the Nettlebane into his neck whilst he was still stunned from the blast. At first I thought him nothing more than a simple thief, but that belief was dispelled when I searched his body for anything he might have taken. Concealed in his cowl was a hastily-scrawled note, identifying this man as an assailant from the Dark Brotherhood, and specifically naming me as his intended victim. I mused for a while on who might have called for my assassination, but could think of nobody I'd recently met or anyone in Cyrodiil who I'd wronged enough to warrant this.
I pocketed the note, trying to forget about its implications, and began my journey back to Whiterun a little earlier than planned.I returned the way I came, passing through Helgen and Riverwood en route to the city. In Riverwood I crossed paths with a courier who had a message from me. While its author was also anonymous, its tone was much less sinister than the assassin's note. A nameless friend was pointing me towards Mount Anthor to the north, where the promise of a great treasure awaited me. Perhaps when all this business is over, I'll follow it up.
The sun was just reaching its zenith when I arrived back at the Temple of Kyraneth in Whiterun. Danica seemed happy to see me, if a little surprised. When I offered the Nettlebane to her, she confessed that she would rather not handle the blade herself, and asked me if I would go to Eldergleam's sanctuary and extract the sap in her stead. I willingly accepted. Before I left the temple, a pilgrim named Maurice Jondrelle explained that he also wished to travel to Eldergleam, and asked if he might join me in my travels. I agreed to keep his company, and we set off immediately.
Eldergleam's sanctuary lies to the east, not too far from the fort at Mistwatch that I visited a few days ago, so I followed the same well-worn path along the south bank of the White River. The journey was unremarkable, until Maurice and I reached the border of Eastmarch Hold. Just after crossing the Darkwater River, we were beset by another enormous dragon. I ran into the cover of the trees and loosed a few arrows into the sky, then moved in with my sword when it landed to put the creature down. Sadly, Maurice did not survive the struggle - I found his body lying in the road. It pains me that he didn't manage to see his pilgrimage through to its end. It was all I could do now to give him a decent burial.
I reached Eldergleam's sanctuary early in the evening. A woman named Asta introduced herself as the self-appointed keeper of Eldergleam. When I produced Nettlebane and told her of my intentions, she became very hostile towards me. She warned me that tapping sap from the ancient tree could possibly anger Kynareth, with dire consequences. This left me confused, concerned as to how I should act, and fearful of invoking Kynareth's wrath. One side of my mind was telling me that since Danica was a priestess in the service of Kynareth, she would surely know the goddess's will. The other side kept reminding me that Asta clearly had some kind of spiritual affinity with both Kynareth and Eldergleam, adding some gravity to her words of warning. If I did plunge Nettlebane into Eldergleam's trunk, might I inadvertently kill the oldest living thing in all Tamriel?
After almost an hour of deliberation, I decided to run the risk of collecting the sap. No sooner had I drawn Nettlebane across Eldergleams gnarled bark, than the tree itself seemed to summon a quartet of Spriggans in its defence. These creatures posed one of my toughest challenges yet, only falling to concentrated blasts of fire magic and strikes from the flame-imbued Axe of Whiterun. Asta was set upon by two of the Spriggans, her dreaded prophecy proven true by her own death. When all of the beasts had been dealt with, I collected a small amount of Eldergleam's sap and sealed it in a glass phial, then left the sanctuary in a state of muted disarray.
I travelled the road back to Whiterun under a night sky, and arrived back in the city just before midnight. While passing the Valtheim Towers I encountered another pilgrim. He informed me that he was on his way to the Shrine of Azura, to the northeast, and marked it on my map in case I should ever decide to visit. Back at the Temple of Kynareth I presented Danica with the phial containing the sap of Eldergleam. Thanks turned out to be my only reward in this instance - that, and a feeling of tense uncertainty that now blankets my relationship with the Divines.
Once again, I write this from a rented room in the Bannered Mare. Right now I am not sure where tomorrow will take me. I may head to High Hrothgar and consult with the Greybeards, or pick up another contract from the Companions. I may instead turn my attention to the mysteries of Mount Anthor, or visit the Shrine of Azura. Right now, all I know is that I am in need of rest. I will see where my head lies in the morning. Until then,