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An Enchanting Tale By AaronDennis Characters: 13552

Updated: 2018-01-10 12:02

Intense preparations were made for the final journey. The group was certain that whatever waited for them beneath Damlzthur was going to provide a most compromising situation. For a full week after the agreement, the group traveled all across Skyrim, making sure every end was covered, every loose end tied.

They started with a journey towards Markarth. Along the way, they made a stop by the Lord's Stone to receive its blessing, one of protection against physical and magickal forces. Next, they stopped in Morthal where Falion gathered everything he deemed necessary including scrolls, potions, filled soul gems, and the like. While standing in his shack, and resting before continuing to Markarth, S'maash spoke.

"Master Falion?"

"Hm?" Falion replied while sifting through reagents at his alchemy table.

"I have heard you have spoken with the dwemer, but it sounds unbelievable. Is it true, " S'maash asked.

The rest of the group, while cramped for the moment, perked up to listen. "It is. You understand, the dwemer no longer reside in Tamriel. Like traveling to Moonshadow, one can move from plane to plane in a dream-like state. I call it astral projection.

"So you see, I have never physically carried on a conversation, but I have seen them and their world. It can be difficult to ground oneself in dreams, but if accomplished, many things can be discovered, " Falion explained.

"Curious. Anything that can help with our current quest, " Zolara asked.

"Not particularly, no, " Falion began as he stuffed food and drink in his pack. "But observing them through the mist of dreams has given me an understanding of their reality."

"I can scarcely believe this. Uncle Calcelmo would have given anything to meet the dwemer. Now, I may do this for him, " Aicantar commented.

"I'm ready. We can continue to Markarth, " Falion said.

The group traveled back to the cart and back onto the road. Along the way, Falion provided a bit of conjuration training to everyone, S'maath included, though he did not truly pay attention. Zolara was absolutely jubilant when he mastered the summon flame thrall spell, an incantation allowing the conjuring of a flame atronach, yet bypassing the natural pull of Oblivion. In short, the atronach stayed until it was defeated or banished from Tamriel by spell.

It was night when they reached Left Hand Mine, just outside the walls of the city of stone. S'maash saw Colville standing guard. He was no longer wearing his blue, steel, Blades armor. They nodded to one another, but no words were spoken. S'maash felt a small pang of guilt and wondered if Colville knew what had taken place. But it was needed, friend.

Upon entering Markarth, Aicantar rushed to Understone Keep. The group split, and the dunmer brothers stayed at the Silver-Blood Inn for a few hours while the mages followed Aicantar. The inn was alive with music, food, and good spirits.

"Two mugs of ale, please?" S'maath called. The brothers sat at the counter and joked about the trip to Damlzthur. "Now, remember, alits can be very dangerous, " he added, snickering.

"You're an alit, " S'maash rebutted.

Upon the culmination of merriment, and forgetting their worries, the brothers were met by the remaining group. "We're all set, " Brelyna said.

"Good, " S'maash replied.

Their next stop took them by Whiterun. S'maash explained that as court wizard, he owed allegiance to Thorald and needed to speak to him. Everyone cherished his loyalty and sense of duty.

The sun was high, and it warmed their skin when they arrived. S'maash left the group and made for Dragonsreach. Inside, he approached the Jarl and provided a recounting of his quest.

"Aye, come back alive or don't come back at all, S'maash, " Thorald said, half in jest.

The elf then stopped by his room in the palace to pick up more supplies, which included bone meal and powdered, mammoth tusk. He had plans to stop in Riften, and speak to Balimund about improving their equipment, and knew those specific ingredients were required to improv

way; there were no rails, although the path was butted up against the wall, and such a heat welled up from below, they had trouble breathing.

"Goodness, " Aicantar started. "It appears to lead into the lava."

"Perhaps not. We won't know until we reach the bottom, " Falion added.

"If we can reach it, " Brelyna said, furrowing her brow.

S'maash and S'maath made eye contact. "We will reach it, " S'maash vowed.

He took the lead, the others following single file. They walked carefully down the stone spiral, constantly circling left. The closer to the bottom they reached, the hotter it was. Save the argonian, they perspired profusely. After moments, the wavering heat and orange light obscured their vision to some degree.

The path did not appear to end at the lava, but instead traveled beneath it. Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be any way to advance.

"I can swim pretty good, " Zolara said. "But I don't plan on lava diving today."

Furrowed brows and frowns creased everyone's faces. S'maath shrugged.

"What now?"

"There…there must be something here we're not seeing, " S'maash said.

"It is possible, " Aicanter said, but trailed off. The group observed him as he walked up the ramp. The altmer then started pounding the side of his fist against the wall while he kept one, pointed ear pressed against it. The others followed suit, although they had no idea what it was they were doing. "Aha, " Aicantar cheered.

"What, " Falion asked.

"This part here sounds hollow. Someone, help me to find a hidden seam, so we might remove some form of panel or sliding stone, " Aicantar explained.

S'maath gingerly pushed him aside, took the great sword from his back, drew it to his hip, and rammed the blade right into the wall. It sank in a ways as the group gasped, but when he pulled the blade out, chunks of stone fell away, revealing a turn handle. S'maath smiled and pulled it.

"Handled…get it?" he joked.

Zolara chuckled, but the others did not join in his mirth. The turning of the handle forced such a groan from the old ruin that it reverberated through the groups' bodies. Then, the lava started to drop. Inch by inch, the bubbling liquid lowered, thus revealing a new, steamy path for them to traverse.

Further down the ramp they traveled to a small bridge leading off to the right. An entrance shrouded in darkness sat before them. Like a mouth carved into the stone, it invited the group to whatever lay beyond. Brelyna casted candle light and they entered.

It was little more than a short passage to a round, stone door lined with dwarven metal. S'maash touched it carefully; it was surprisingly cool. He pulled it open, and they entered.

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