I had told Faulk Firebeard I would take care of the scoundrels holed up in the Ironback Hideout west of Solitude.
Faulk is the Steward for the Jarl of Solitude. Elisif the Fair.
As we were in Dragon Bridge (But that is another Treasure Tale) this den of thieves was not out of the way at all. We made quick work of that bunch of amateurs. They did have a decent amount of coin though.
We called on Faulk at the Blue Palace in Solitude to inform him of the gang’s demise. Didn’t have the heart to tell him that in the ruin we took over three times what he paid us in gold for the job. Don’t ask, don’t tell.
On the Road Between Whiterun and Windhelm,
But before the cut for the road to Ivarsted, High Hrothgar, and Riften, at a bend in the White River right beside the waterfall, there was an old shrine to Dibella. It was smashed by a huge tree that had somehow been uprooted. Poor fella name of Lucky Lorenz was caught up under the wreckage.
The map we found with him indicated there was a treasure chest in a waterfall between Riften and Fort Dawnguard.
Fortuitous, as I had business with both the Thieves Guild and the Dawnguard. I had also promised Mjoll in Riften I would try and find her sword GrimSever, in Mzinchaleft. We’d pass by there on the way to Riften.
On to Mzinchaleft!
Mzinchaleft is a Dwemer Ruin located southwest of Dawnstar (which is east of Solitude) and east of Ustengrav.
Took us a couple of days to trudge over to it from Solitude. We were blessed by mostly good weather and few interruptions along the roads.
As we topped the hill leading down into the ruin, someone with delusions of grandeur tried to stop us. I gave him cause to regret this with a fatal blast from my wand. Then two more of his pals showed up from within and The Unbroken and I showed them the sharp pointy bits of our weapons. Up close and personal like. We stripped the bodies of any valuables.
We made camp a little ways off from the entrance and waited for daylight. Easier to see any troublemakers about. Nothing worse than fumbling about in the dark. Good way to end up dead sometimes. Especially if you’re heading into the unknown as we were.
Sometime after dawn we headed in the entranceway. I heard a couple of men talking. About that time we heard a dragon moaning somewhere off in the distance. Too far away for us to do anything about, we continued quietly down the hallway which was open to the elements.
About the time I was peeking around the corner at the end of the corridor to see who we were dealing with, Uthergerd kicked a pail or something alerting the two, an orc and a Khajiit pup. They rushed around the corner. I cursed the Unbroken for a clumsy noisy fool and swung my blade at the orc and kicked out in the general direction of the cat. The Orc parried my swing with a clang, I spun around and stabbed the blade through the cat’s chest and ducked as the Unbroken jabbed her broadsword into the gullet of the orc.
We do work well as a team.
While we paused to catch our breath Uthgerd found some sort of contract between the brigands and some Imperial named Maluril Ferano for the escort and cartage of materials from the dwarven structure we were about to enter. “Could make things interesting,” I mused as we checked out the exterior areas of the underground city. Uthgerd merely gave a noncommittal grunt in reply as we searched.the two towers flanking the entrance.
Found a small chest with some gold and old dwarvish weapons and armor. We took the gold (of course!) and left the antiques.
We opened the great doors to the underground. As we crossed the threshold we were assailed by the clangor and hum of Dwemer machinery. And the unmistakeable stench of Falmer. This would be with us the entire time we were in the ruin. We descended the ramp into the eerie glow of artificial lighting that only Dwarves could produce. Lighting that still worked a thousand years after their disappearance. We got to the first landing and found evidence of their weird maintenance machines that walked like spiders and were powered by gods know what. These were smashed and had nothing of value within. Sometimes the strange things had been known to carry both empty and filled soul gems. These ones did not. They may have already been pilfered.
At the next landing we found a fearsome sphere guardian also smashed and lifeless. It did however, contain an empty soul gem and some Dwemer crossbow bolts. Even after a thousand years these things were still better than any iron or steel ones that I could fashion at a forge. They often carried these things because at the end of one of their “arms” there was often mounted a powerful crossbow mechanism that fired bolts faster than the canniest bowmen.
These machines were fearsome warriors.
And yet here this thing lay smashed on the ground. As we rounded the next bend in the corridor we surprised two men tending a small fire right in the middle of the corridor. I put a bolt in both of them and quietly searched them. Recovered my bolts (Hey! These things are expensive!) and some good steel arrows as well. Uthgerd carries a couple good bows for me. There was also a small chest in an alcove that had a few pieces of gold and some lockpicks. We moved cautiously further into the ruin. Hid behind some rubble as we noticed a bandit pacing a rut in the stone floor. Somehow we alerted the poor guy to our presence and I had to put a bolt in him lest he give us away. He had my bolt and a few ineffective iron arrows which I let him keep. There was also another smashed Sphere Guardian. I took the bolts from it’s storage and we quietly continued our descent into the depths.
Down and down, we came upon a good sized room with two brigands playing bones or something I took one and the Unbroken took the other. There was a chest with a bit of gold and not much else. They were both wearing some sort of fur armor. More of which was spread about the chamber. I didn’t like the look of it. Or the smell. Continuing down to where the corridor teed off I killed an orc and pilfered the key to the room he was guarding. Nothing much in there, couple of nice potions, a few gold pieces and some Dwemer dreck we left behind.
Picked up a few bolts from another smashed Sphere Guard. We descended down the passage until we were stopped by a gate. On the other side a two Spheres were fighting a few of the invaders. They defeated them all. Either with a blade or the damned Crossbow on thier other appendage.
I drew my sword and lightning wand and we burst through the gate. I blasted both of the Guardians and they blew apart with a shower of sparks! Uthgerd and I relieved them and the dead humans of any valuables they were carrying. We moved through the room and down the adjacent corridor where I watched a couple of spider workers pop from their niches on the stone walls. I blasted them both with my wand. I opened an unlocked gate and found a Dwemer Centurion. Dead thankfully. These are even more fearsome than the Spheres. About 10 feet tall and steam powered they can boil a man (or woman) with their breath! This one had been carrying some ebony arrows (not bolts - full size splendidly made ebony arrows) a couple of jewels and some orcish arrows as well. I helped myself to the stuff and closed the gate. I warned Uthgerd to be on the lookout for more of these damned monstrosities!
I opened a locked gate while the Unbroken caved in the sides of a Spider thing. I looted the chest inside. Small pickings unfortunately.
We slipped through an already open gate into a room that was full of those most wonderfully designed Dwemer furniture. Elegant looking finely engineered stuff. Chairs and tables standing on thin, finely cast legs. We wandered through that room and down the next corridor weapons at the ready. We were halfway down the corridor when some sort of sphincter opened up and spit out one of the Sphere Guardians, fortunately we were ready for it. We rounded a corner and down a few steps and found ourselves in a room lined with large water or steam pipes. I could hear something moving through them. There was a sphere patrolling the lower floor below us. Uthgerd followed me as I walked down one of the pipes to open a small chest at the end. Much to our surprise the sphere followed us along the pipe and took a swipe at the Unbroken, who swore in pain and bashed the fucker on its head then ducked and I blasted it with a charge from the wand in my left hand.
We jumped down from the pipes and opened the gate on the opposite wall. We were confronted with a dwemer puzzle consisting of a few switches strategically place in some barred rooms. In order to move on, we needed to figure out the sequence of the switches to the barred gateways. This might take a while…
I pulled the lever in the first room or area, the gate to the left opened up. I stepped in and pulled that lever and the first set of bars went up, and the bars directly ahead opened. I stepped in there and pulled that lever and the bars in the first room closed and the second set ahead opened. I stepped back into the second room , pulled the lever and was able to step back into the first room which gave me access to the third room. Pulled that lever and it opened the bars to the next room. I pulled the lever in there and it opened the bars to the room where the steam valve was. So back to the third room and pull that lever which opened the bars into the first room. Pulled the second room lever, which opened the third again and let me into the room with the steam valve, which I cranked. That opened the wall between the third and fourth rooms and also the penultimate gateway which let us get through to the next corridor and another set of giant doors.
All very confusing sounding unless you were there, which of course I was… Those doors opened into a steam powered elevator that led down into the Mzinchaleft depths…
This was getting deeeeeeeep. Heh heh.
We stepped in and I pulled the lever…
And found a dead Falmer in the hallway. Not sure how or why it died. We stepped through the doorway and into a wondrously wide space for an underground cavern. There was a built up walkway over a rather large body of water. Also some Falmer lurking about. I could also hear some Chauri nattering about. The flooded area was due to one or two of those massive pipes rupturing somehow.
I dispatched the first two Falmer with my crossbow and we stepped out onto the walkway. Something was telling me we might have to get wet here.
“You don’t see that everyday,” said the Unbroken. I had to agree…
The walkway came to another Tee and we moved towards the only door that we could see. Shortly we came to another tee in the pathway.
The right hand led to what looked like a Chaurus nest. Filthy giant bugs. I cannot abide them. I took the righthand path and slew the one guarding the eggs in the huge nest. Grabbed a couple of the eggs and set the rest afire with several fireballs and returned to the original path.
The was a large gap at the north hand I could see a chest there. Would it be worth expending the energy via magic to look and see? I used the Whirlwind shout to cross the gulf and opened the chest. Couple pieces of gold, a sapphire ring, some steel cuffed boots (which I left) and a magic circlet of some value. Used the same shout to get back to the main path and started off towards the door on the east wall. A Falmer popped out of a hole in the same wall and caught me off guard. I blasted him with a bolt of electricity from my wand.
There were a couple more apparently nesting at the base of the northern wall. The Unbroken went through the pair like a hot knife through butter. They didn’t really have anything of value so we moved to the massive double doors.
I was starting to feel weighted down by all the stuff in my pack so I gave a dragon bone to Uthgerd to carry for me. Dragon bones are easily the heaviest thing I carry around aside from weaponry. Very useful things if you have the skill to work the material. Which I don’t.Usually worth a good bit of gold at a market or worthy smithy, so we are loathe to leave them behind when the resale is so high.
The doors opened to a passage which shortly made a right turn to the south. Descending a long staircase we followed the hill to the left. It opened into a sizable auditorium style room. A couple of flamer were in there, and not much else except scrap metal and a book or two. Quickly we moved through. The corridor gave way to a small cave entrance, dark and damp we entered the forbidding doorway weapons drawn and nerves strung tight. Area seemed to be a part of the city but maybe a bit older and more decrepit. More dirt, more dust. More Falmer. And more of those damned BUGS.
Found a dead orc laying in one of the tent like structures the former elves tended to use for sleeping. He was carrying nothing of consequence. We moved further through the cave and it dumped us back into a part of the stone city in somewhat better repair. It opened into a large decorated chamber with a fountain. And a few Falmer. There was a barred gate in the SW corner and a tall tower to the east. We took the path up the face of the tower. Found a Falmer guarding the gate mechanism, a skull, and some scrap metal. It was at least three stories up. I mashed the button to open the gate and took off running, in case there was a timer set as was often the case in these Dwemer structures.
Got through the gate into another courtyard with a smaller fountain and a couple of quickly dispatched Falmer. One by Crossbow and the other fell to Uthgerd’s mighty blade. To the south was a doorway which opened into a small room with a Guardian Centurion and a small chest. To the North was a tall staircase leading up to yet another massive set of doors. At the foot of the stairs there was a dead Falmer and another of the spider things. At the top yet another Falmer. The doors opened into the Mzinchaleft Gatehouse. I suspected we were getting close to our goal of getting Grimsever from the ruin, IF it were still here. We rounded a corner and on the other side of the room stood a Centurion in its service cradle. Before we moved too far into the room it roared to life with murderous intent! And a Sphere guardian plopped into the room from a hole in the wall. I distracted them with an Unrelenting Force Shout. Uthgerd took on the smaller whilst I sent bolt after bolt into the chest of the Centurion. It toppled over and was still after 7 or 8 shots. We walked further into the room and found a locked alcove on the right and the switch to unlock it, there were some dwarven automaton parts and some gold and other trinkets in a chest. We walked back to the main room and found Grimsever right where Mjoll apparently dropped it. It was undamaged and gleaming. I picked it up and put it in my pack We also found a hidden stairway leading down into who knows what as we did not have the required dwarven Mechanism to make the thing open. At the back of the chamber behind the dead centurion was another elevator shaft which took us up and out of the depths and into the fresh air. I realized we were not far from the Hall of the Vigilant which had been destroyed by vampires. I resolved to have a look at this with my own eyes.
It was but a short distance from where we were to the SE. So we trotted over…