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The Call of the Obelisk (Kirstia's Third Adventure, Chapter 2)


gregaaz

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I don't think the gate guard was sure what to do with me. I repeated myself, with a bit more wind in my lungs this time - "I need to talk to Captain Veleth. It's about the ash spawn."

 

"The ash spawn," he asked, as if slightly dazed. "What do you know about the ash spawn, outlander?"

 

I was starting to get a little impatient at that point, but before I could unleash on the dumbstruck guard I saw Veleth in the distance. Pushing past, I closed the distance with Veleth and called out to him.

 

"Captain!" I said, "I was just trying to find you."

 

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"You're back already," he said in answer. There was a distinct hint of skepticism in his voice - perhaps he feared that I'd fled the fort with my mission unfinished. "What news do you bring from Fort Frostmoth."

 

"Falx Carrius is dead," I explained as I fished out the necromancer's journal. Offering the book, I added, "and I think I know how he returned." 

 

The captain took the book, skimming briefly through it before tucking it into his satchel to keep it from the rain. "I had my suspicions that he was undead. It certainly made more sense than the idea that he'd been alive for the last two hundred years. It's a shame, though."

 

"Oh?" I asked.

 

Veleth shook his head, a thoughtful look crossing his face, "part of me hoped to meet him alive. I've heard tales of his exploits - including the founding of Raven Rock."

 

"I can understand that. But at least with him gone, I think you'll be safe from the ash spawn. I'm not sure what the link is between him and them, but he was clearly controlling their movements at the fort."

 

"That's good," he agreed. Then he offered me a leather pouch. "Here, Councilor Morvayn told me to give you this if you made it back - and if you'd slain Carrius. Be grateful, for it's far better than a soldier's pay."

 

From the weight of the coin within, I was inclined to agree. I took it with thanks, but Veleth countered, "no, thank you for your assistance. It's raised my men's spirits quite a bit."

 

He left then, and I found myself alone in the rain. As my heartbeat slowed and the last of the burst of energy that fueled my escape faded, I started to feel the full chill of the night air against my damp skin. Shivering a little, I started to make my way to the inn where I'd reserved a room, but something caught my eye: a pillar of green light rising into the sky just outside the city limits.

 

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Intrigued, I wended my way through the city's streets until the source of the light came into view. It was a construction site of sorts, centered on a rough stone obelisk that pulsed with eerie green light. All around, locals carried large stones, carved them with hammer and chisel, and positioned them in what must have been the foundations of a large structure - perhaps a temple. I tried to ask one what they were doing, but all I got in response was a mumbled answer, as if the woman was in a trance. 

 

On closer examination, I realized that all of the workers were glassy-eyed, seemingly lost in their thoughts and oblivious to the world around them. Unable to contain my curiosity, I approached the obelisk and looked it up and down. If there was a meaning to it, it eluded me. Almost on impulse, I reached out to touch the stone. Warmth rushed over me and then my eyes grew heavy.

 

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I floated in darkness, detached from the world. There was only a voice.

 

"Once, your eyes were blinded," it rumbled. "Once, your hands were idle."

 

Before I could speak further, a different, more familiar voice whispered to me.

 

"Awaken, my student. It is not your time to stand here. Not yet."

 

I resisted The Teacher's instructions, I strove to stay floating in this void, free of all my troubles and concerns. 

 

ARISE BEFORE YOU ARE CONSUMED

 

Hircine's command washed over me, but I was content to remain. There was a profound lightness to the emptiness I felt, as if at last all was set in order in the world. As if all was well.

 

"Do not be deceived, my child," Dibella spoke to me. "This is a false peace."

 

Still I wavered, unwilling to surrender the peace I'd found - false or not. I drifted for I don't know how long, until a sharp pain jerked me back to consciousness. A whisper, barely audible, came to me, as if it was echoing across the sea. "Piss pig..." it was Wojtek. I realized then that I hadn't heard his voice since I landed in Raven Rock. The sharp tug on my Daedric shadow's leash had already started to return me to wakefulness, and as my mind came back to me I could feel the reverberation of iron on stone under my hands.

 

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If Wojtek had more to say, it was lost beneath the peal of the hammer and the roar of waves against the nearby beach. But he had succeeded and I was awake. I must have been sleepwalking, because I was standing near the obelisk, carving at a partially erected stone wall with a chisel. I shook myself once more, coming fully awake, and dropped the tools. Again in command of my body, I backed away from the temple-to-be, retreating into the city. 

 

Slipping through the door of The Retching Netch, I waved off the greeting of the woman serving drinks around the hearth. I had every intention of going directly to bed - between the peril of Fort Frostmoth and the subsequent, disturbing experience at the obelisk, I was more than ready for some sleep. 

 

"What's the big hurry, honey?" called a voice to my right. 

 

Turning, my eyes fell on a naked Nord woman, her skin glowing in the warm firelight.

 

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"Who are you?" I asked. I hadn't seen here here before, and on consideration I hadn't seem many whores in Raven Rock overall. 

 

"Gwessa Deep-Holed," she purred. "I collect... bodily fluids. And I put them in myself. Normally people pay me, but sometimes," her lips curled upwards a bit as she said it, "I do it for free." 

 

Glancing towards the stairs down into the sleeping quarters she added, "Geldis lets me sleep here for free and lets me have the kitchen scraps when I'm hungry."

 

"I haven't seen many people like you here. Do the Dark Elves have a problem with your... profession?"

 

She laughed at that. "That's an understatement. I don't know why my... kind annoys them so much. I think a lot of it's just because I'm a Nord, though. I'm sure you understand that."

 

I nodded slowly, thinking back to the curt words of the priest at the foot of the temple. "Outlander, unbeliever, all that?"

 

"Snow ape, whore-barbarian, drunken cunt, elf-pillow. They surely love to humiliate me."

 

"Humiliate you? Beyond just the name calling?"

 

She grinned dreamily at that. "Oh, yes. They throw little needles at me and make a game of it - points to whoever gets my most sensitive spots. They case spells on me to sicken me so I vomit or empty my bowels. Get me drunk and them make me serve drinks - and make me lick up anything I spill on the floor."

 

I wasn't sure how to read her. I'd expect her to be outraged about this treatment, but she seemed wholly unconcerned. 

 

"I could take you away from here, if you want. I am a priestess of Dibella, and even here I have authority."

 

She smiled indulgently, then leaned forward to whisper in my ear. "Listen, hero. Don't tell anyone, but I love it all. Every time one of these dusky bastards insults me, it warms my skin and wets my cunt. It's my little joy in life, so don't spoil it."

 

Then she leaned back and took a sip at her mug. "Fine," she said more loudly, "then move along so I can get a paying client."

 

Still a little unsure what to make of the exchange, I wandered down to my room. I understood in principal, of course, that there were women and men alike who thrived on humiliation. Nelacar and Larak had both felt that calling in their own ways, and I'd indulged them both. But after my experience with the obelisk, I had to wonder if she was acting in accord with her will or if she was under some sort of influence. 

 

The thoughts followed me as I tried to fall asleep. I remembered the weightless calm that had fallen over me after I touched the obelisk, and I wondered if I would have even noticed had someone had their way with me. How would my body have reacted? Would it distract me from the task the obelisk had seemingly compelled me to? The thought of some stranger using me as I tried to work the stone proved surprisingly arousing, and before long I found my hands wandering across my body.

 

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I continued for a time, ruminating on my situation and on Gwessa's for a time until a warm release slowly crept up my body and, at last exhausted, I was able to roll over and fall into sleep. 

 

"By night we reclaim what..." I heard a voice speak.

 

"...was by day stolen." Said another. Then I could feel rain on my skin, hear the call of seagulls, the crash of waves, the rhythmic cadence of hammer on chisel. I was back at the obelisk. I must have been sleepwalking. 

 

This time there was no sense of being swallowed up and dissociated from my body. It was just as if I'd awakened from any dream. And yet, here I was. 

 

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My experience training in the House of Dibella had long since inured me to any shame about being undressed in public, but the chill of the rain was another concern altogether. I decided to not linger here and instead push back towards the inn so I could reclaim my gear. Fortunately, I at lest felt fully rested, so I wasn't in any danger from fatigue - but still, this could quickly become a problem if every time I closed my eyes I returned to this place. As I left the construction site, a woman carrying a heavy stone looked right at me and said, "he grows ever nearer," before returning to her labors.

 

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As if to punctuate her odd words, my stomach growled loudly just then. Clearly I needed to not just retrieve my clothing and weapons, but also find some breakfast.

 

 

Behind The Scenes

 

Raven Rock Congestion

Coming back from the gate, I noticed some Prison Overhaul furniture blocked in by geometry, as well as an NPC playing a seated idle in thin air. We'll want to hop into the CK to address these issues. 

 

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We'll address this the way we've done similar situations in the past. We'll start out by creating a working file that has Prison Overhaul and my Raven Rock overhaul as masters. Then we'll load the working file in the CK (this way, if we mess something up, it'll just break the working file and not the real mods). 

 

Here's the same area in the CK - you can see both the floating chair and the blocked in X Cross. In the second picture you can see the change I made: I moved one crate to under the sit idle and then lowered the actor position so they should be seated on the crate when idling there. Then I deleted the other two crates (I'll undelete and disable them when we're back in xEdit).

 

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Here you can see the edits in xEdit. When we clean this for ITMs, the gray ones will disappear - they were created in error by the CK when I examined the properties of those items.

 

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For the two deleted boxes, we could filter for cleaning and then fix them that way, but it's a little quicker to just go into the scripts and apply the "undelete and disable references" one manually.

 

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Last but not least, we'll copy these edits as overrides into our conflict resolution patch. Since none of these are persistent records, these changes should be visible in the game world when I load back in.

 

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More ENB Lights

wSkeever released another ENB Light mod on the Nexus today. This one partly supersedes two previous mods, but we can still keep them since their high quality textures ought to work with the ENB Light-enabled meshes. Since this mod doesn't include a plugin, we can safely install it in the middle of our playthrough - we just need to make sure we put it at the right priority so the nifs from this mod win their conflicts.

 

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