Skyrim Day 074 – Mystery’s End

From Traversing Tamriel

30 Frostfall, 4E201
Nightgate Inn
Katria’s adventure is almost at an end and not a day too soon. Serana and I left Whiterun before the rest of the city woke (including Lydia) and continued yesterday’s journey to Katria’s third, unnamed, Dwemer ruin. She placed the ruin across the river north of Ivarstead, noting that it was the primary source of Aetherium.
We reached the river by mid-morning, but had some trouble finding a pass through the hillside. We stumbled upon a family of trolls in residence, the entrance of the cave splattered with blood, gore, and skeletal remains. Serana surprised me by suggesting that we venture inside to exterminate the trolls and waved aside my remark that it would require her to be underground again, though briefly.
Nestled at the far end of the trolls’ home was a battered chest that probably belonged to whatever bandits inhabited the cave before the trolls chased them off or killed them. There was not much inside, but there was a pair of leather boots with an Illusion enchantment on it. Boots enchanted to make the wearer’s footsteps quieter are popular among those who keep to the shadows, I am sure I will get a good price for them from the next Khajiit caravan I meet.
Leaving the cave we resumed our search for a path into the hills, presumably where the Dwemer ruin would most likely be. After half an hour we found the path nearly overrun with fallen rocks and opportunistic plants and had to spend more time clearing enough of it to climb up. A giant’s camp was sitting right in front of us after we finally made our way on to the hill and we skirted around it hoping to avoid a battle.

The Giants must be able to sense vampirism somehow, for this one left his camp and lumbered after us as we passed, focusing specifically on Serana. They are not stealthy creatures, nor fast, and we easily outpaced it until the Giant lost patience and returned to his camp.
As if that was not trouble enough the Dwemer ruin was being guarded by zealots of the Silver Hand, a band of vigilantes supposedly dedicated against Werewolves, but my few experiences with them showed that they view a Khajiit as close enough to a Werewolf, but I have heard from others that they are no better than common bandits, so perhaps I should not feel their slight to be a personal one. I wonder if, in death, the ones at the ruin felt my slaying them to be personal as well.
Katria’s unnamed Aetherium mine boasted an impressive exterior and inside, signs that the Silver Hand were not quite as stupid as they appeared.
The Silver Hand had been using one of the Dwemer’s flame traps to cook their meals and I thought it clever, though it did bar the main hallway from being entered, as I could not find a way to disable it and had no desire to walk through a constant jet of fire. Serana and I had no choice but to proceed down a side passageway
We fought through a small encampment of bandits and came upon a second unnoticed.
They were camped beneath two Dwemer ballista, each loaded and glistening with oil dutifully applied thousands of years ago. Serana wanted to activate one to see if it would fire, so we crept up to the parapet and each manned a ballista. Mine fired, but the bolts broke with the force of the shot. Serana was slightly more lucky: hers fired, wildly missing the now-alarmed bandits. They sprang from their campsite and charged up the ramp towards us. It ended quickly.
The hallway beyond was trapped with two bladed rods that traveled back and forth, guaranteed to remove the feet of any invaders in too much of a hurry to be careful. Serana and I shuffled along the sides, barely avoiding the blades. I recall wondering if I would grow back my feet if I slipped. I am glad to have not found out.

The hallway ended at a functioning elevator which deposited us into another hallway guarded by the spinning blades. After carefully skirting the sides we founds ourselves in the middle of a Falmer “village”, slowing our progress considerably as we stealthily eliminated the hideous creatures one by one.

Eventually we came to a large room with a pool of water on one side and gears all over the walls. The noise was tremendous, but we could not find a way out of the room other than back the way we came. I even suffered the near-freezing water thinking the door might have been hidden in the pool, but to no avail.

It was Serana who pointed out that many of the gears were jammed, greatly contributing to the clatter that bounced all around the room. She pulled a bone from one and it began spinning quickly and far more quietly. We split up and released the remaining gears, after which Serana happily pressed a button she found a pedestal set before the pool. She seems to be warming up to the concept of adventuring, though one would not judge this based on the quantity of her complaints.

With the gears spinning as they were supposed to, the button opened a hidden door at the end of the pool, releasing a massive Dwemer war-mechanical. My crossbow bolts did not seem to do much, but Serana’s lightning magicka sent it tumbling, inert, into the water before it had made it even halfway across to us. Rather anticlimactic, but easy.

The metal warrior had been guarding a small staircase that led down to a small room with some sort of device in the middle of it.
Two gemstones were set into the center of the thing, one the size and shape of a large egg, the other a dish for something to be set on to. I had nothing to use with the thing and left it alone.
What I did find was the shimmering form of Katria staring longingly at the piece of Aetherium we were after.

She kept this speech short, exclaiming that it was the last piece we needed and that she would be waiting at the Forge. With that, she blinked out of existence. Serana commented on the possibility of passing on the Forge entirely, but I secretly want to see this thing for myself, so I told her I could not bear to keep Katria’s spirit enthralled on this plane any longer than it needed to be.

An elevator adjoining the room led us back to the surface, by then well-enshrouded by the night. The Nightgate Inn was the closest accommodation and the walk was without incident.

Tomorrow the three of us shall see what this Dwemer Forge is capable of and of what use the Aetherium can be put to. I am mildly curious at best, but it looks to be at least somewhat on the way back to the Dawnguard, so it shall not be a wasted adventure.

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