I held my breath, knowing not what to expect. The predicament of having to respirate to avoid asphyxiation while at the same time assuming that any noise I make might result in my immediate demise was troubling beyond conception. Either way, a premonition of unavoidable doom crept through my mangled brain. That was until I heard the voice of whom I conjectured to be my captor.


"Aaah, yes. Yes! Yes! Indeed. Quite indeed though!". A rather quirky voice boomed from behind the wall to my feet. Such an expression was entirely unheard of. Anguish quickly transmuted into curiosity and intrigue. What kind of person would sport such a queer form of articulation? At last, the strange man whom the words spoken belonged to stepped out of the shadows and into my field of view. From his appearance, the white skin, the pointy ears, the slender stature and the gleaming, red eyes, I immediately knew who I was dealing with.


"I see thou'rt awake, Outsider.", he said excitedly with a wicked smile on his face. "Prithee, tell me thy name. I believe introductions are of the importance."

Puzzled, I replied. "Thorus", I wheezed under my breath. 

"Aaah, Thorus it is. Now then! The name that was graciously bequeath'd to me and which I have hitherto been call'd by is Shthelith. I crave to impose on thee that making thine acquaintance is pleasurable to the utmost! Last time an Outsider the likes of thee trod our domain was long ago, yes yes…".


The funny character paused his extraordinary speech for a moment and assessed the situation. After Shthelith had scrutinized my injuries, he appeared lost in thought for a short period of time before speaking up again. 

"I concern'd my good self with mending thy wounds to the very pinnacle of my ability! However! In order to finalize the healing process, thou must drink from this here goblet, the contents of which I, in fastidious meticulosity, selected by hand while thy consciousness had yet to make back the journey from the lands of phantasm".


He produced a silver goblet from the place I could not see and rambled on.

"Thou belike wond'rest just what ingredients this broth hath. Now, the major part of this here concoction is compris'd of only the finest, most luxurious local herbs thy race most assuredly hath no name for. These are but of minor import. The key component is an ingenious anomaly of nature that our race calleth 'The Golden Drop'. I shall affright thee not with its specifics, lest thou resortest to reject my potion. Thou need'st only know that thou wilt find it an excellent remedy for thine ailments. Prithee, ingest."


And with these words, the queer elf held the goblet up to my lips, beckoning me to drink whatever cure he had been so carefully brewing. Albeit I had been dissuaded somewhat at the mention of the so-called 'Golden Drop', I concluded that I had nothing to lose, prompting me to swallow the bitter liquid.

In a matter of seconds, while it slowly coated my tongue and filled my mouth, the horrible pain my body had been subjected to began to ebb. My fatigue subsided. And although all my of my injuries were not magically closed, I could move my limbs again without fear of paralyzing agony.


I was taken aback by how effective this potion was and I was, at that moment, sure that, had I ingested another, I could have battled whatever beast nearly devoured me all by myself. But Shthelith was quick to warn me of overexertion, for the broth was known to cause euphoria and elation.

"Careful now, Thorus. Thine injuries have not heal'd completely. Thou'rt at risk for the next two sleep cycles. However, past that period, no impairment shall hobble thee."

Truly, I felt thoroughly rejuvenated. Furthermore, my ability to formulate articulate speech in coherent sentences had returned. I used this reclaimed capability to question the strange elven creature.

"Shthelith", I asked, "tell me of the events that transpired. Where am I? And where is Nephethys?"


The pale mer donned an almost menacing grin and proceeded to satisfy my inquiries.

"Thine own reckless manner brought thee hither no doubt. As far as good old Shthelith can tell, ye were too abstracted by the presence of my fair kin to notice how detach'd from the surrounding reality ye were", Shthelith explained. According to him, while Nephethys and I were prowling near the decrepit settlement, a creature his race calls 'Scavenger' snuck up behind us. In our limitless wonder we failed to notice the threat and were only made aware of its presence when it was already too late.


"Savage beasts", he went on, "by far the most prodigious, most perilous hazard on four legs out on the plains. Ye sure are fortunate our Order harbours great witches and wizards. Else, the fate of thee and thy fate would have taken quite the tragic turn indeed". He paused for a moment, gently stroking his chin. He nodded faintly and mumbled " Yes, yes, indeed…" before proceeding.

"As for thy present residence; welcome to my abode", he announced. "After the calamity that has befallen thee so brutally, I just could not let thee expire. So, after my race scatter'd, I took thee under. This house is my studie, laboratorie and home."


I was swiftly taken from elation to confusion with all this information flooding my head. What was it this queer character studied in this barren world? I wondered only briefly, for I had to yet again brace myself for Shthelith's ramblings. I watched him take a deep breath before he continued to speak.

"As for the fate of thy friend, good old me is fairly certain my Order hath taken her to the Chapel of Sárka. Consider thyself lucky. The Aímamer are fond of practices quite abhorred and iniquitous by Tamrielic measurements".


"Iniquitous? Aímamer? Where is Nephethys?", I inquired sharply, growing ever more impatient as time went on. I was intensely in worry for her safety. Everything we heretofore encountered proved itself to be hostile in some capacity after all. The elf enunciated, having noticed my rising temper:

"Worry not! Shthelith knows a way. He always does!"

He turned away from me and went to the still undetectable compartment of his house. In response and with newfound strength, I leaned forward and carefully turned my body to heave my legs out of the bed. As my feet connected with the cold stone floor, I finally saw what stayed hidden from me for so long.


A large bookshelf covered the entire wall. Embedded within said shelf was a quaint desk. On top of which, alchemical formulæ alongside several phials of versicolor appearance. While I was busy inspecting Shthelith's belongings, he spoke further, detailing his race and iterating upon the chapel.

"The Aìmamer are what we call ourselves. Though, for thine understanding I deem it best to use the term 'Blood Elves'".

The mer was busy shuffling through various parchments as he explained to me that the Aímamer were the indigenous race of this world. According to him, the Blood Elves populated this realm ever since its creation. Similar to the Golden Saints and Dark Seducers from the fabled Shivering Isles, the plane of the Daedric prince of madness.


"A long time ago, we called into existence an Order, its name of no concern to thee, devoted to our deity", he explained as manuscripts were torn from the shelves and tossed around, piling up in diverse places. Evidently, my new acquaintance was looking for something.

"And by our deity's help, me and my kin were suddenly capable of tapping into unknown energies to draw from remote planes of existence. The Mundus is one such plane. Only by our rites was it possible for thee to gain entrance to my homeland".


I observed a small number of vials being pushed away by various volumes the elf, in his haste, carelessly placed on the table. Some of the transparent fluid containers tumbled from the table's edge, shattering and spilling their contents on the floor to Shthelith's feet. I heard him curse audibly before he resumed his explanations.

"In respect to thy friend, that burnt elf should be in the clutches of our High Priestess, Sárka", he said, still searching. "What should be of concern to thee is the circumstance that her tibiæ have been alter'd in a manner quite ritualistic to us. Either she is guaranteed survival - or death".


At last, he let out an excited cry of joy, a great, red tome in hand. Shthelith circled around the mess he had made and sat down on the bed beside me 

"Look! Gaze! Observe! Wonder! This ancient volume is called the Book of Prayer. Contained therein - our rituals and the bulk of the magicks we use", he said, a strong sense of pride radiating off of his blazing eyes. He benevolently handed the heavy, leather bound book to me and told me to open it. He then ordered me to skip to the twenty first page. As I did, I was struck by awesome wonder at the pages I now beheld. On the left, I could see a visceral scene. A robed figure, apparently torturing another by cutting the flesh off their limbs.

My Blood Elf host then asked forebodingly: "Does this appear familiar to thee?"


It dawned on me. Displayed on that page was the detestable rite Lord Atebid had tormented Nephethys with! I gasped for air in astonishment. My shaking hands almost let the book escape my grasp.

"Aaah yes. I thought as much!", the elf shouted before he stood up again, ripping the volume from my moistening palms.

"I know a Shaping when I see one! The Lord is rumoured to have done it on close to three hundred men and mer in Cyrodiil prior to his return. Didst thou encounter any?"

I nodded in oppressive fear. 

"I see. Then it's true. He is the Prophet".


I was as discombobulated as I was terrified. What did this mean? Shthelith eyed me closely, thereby picking up on my speechlessness. 

"It is said that only he who heraldeth our advent into the realm of mortals could possibly perform this rite on a strong enough subject. The Lord sought a special vessel to bring back here. Communion with our god - and the eventual transference that ensueth, are his agenda."

The Blood Elf explained to me that Atebid sacrificed all of those poor citizens in an effort to find one strong enough to be used as some form of effigy or vessel. And I knew that Nephethys was nothing if not strong. Perhaps she only survived because Atebid was interrupted and forced to retreat.

Nonetheless, he lured us here with the promise of vengeance when his plan appeared to be to get his vile, callous hands on my Dunmer friend.


I could not let either of these things happen, so I asked Shthelith, whom I began to subconsciously trust, what I should do.

"Thou? Hah! Do not think I would leave thee to thyself! Thou'rt in need of a guide. And good old me is sure to be perfect for that purpose. I shall accompany thee to the Chapel."

He explained to me that, whatever unhallowed processions were being held within their church, either way my fate would he sealed.


"According to this here volume, thy friend will either expire or be assimilated. Both options provided are in no way even remotely beneficial to thee. Thy doom is certain if none action is taken".

I was determined to save Nephethys' life. And so, Shthelith and I began to devise a sound strategy for infiltration and extraction.




I am, by profession, an investigator. During my time in the IID I have been confronted with unforeseeable situations, oftentimes involving breaking into thieves' hideouts or bandit infested caverns. Notwithstanding all of my heretofore acquired experience, Shthelith was quick to bring to my attention that this very experience is void when it came to the Chapel of Sárka. From what he told me, the building had only one guarded entrance and one guarded drain in the back. 

I briefly and shudderingly wondered why a church would even need drainage pipes but stopped thinking after taking into account who it was that I was dealing with.


Aside from these two protected and thoroughly closed entrances, the only other means of ingress appeared to be through the towering, multicolored, stained glass windows. The two of us realized, though, that shattering the panes was rather counterproductive.

As we pondered, I felt time's crushing pressure on my shoulders, slowly choking me, a lump in my throat growing ever greater in size while my already profound sorrow deepened itself to unknown abysses never before realized. 

What if we were too late? What would happen if the High Priestess were to convince Nephethys to change allegiances? What if she died? Such were the grim vistas haunting my mind when all of a sudden, Shthelith spoke up in excitement.


"I have thought of a grandiose proposition!", he exclaimed at the top of his lungs. "Thou shalt be my sacrificial offer, a gift, to Sárka!".

I was about to expostulate at his madness and already did I draw breath, inhaling with discontent, when the elf silenced me at once.

"No no no! No no! Thou hast misunderstood! Shthelith does mean not to truly bestow thee unto our evil priestess, no no. It shall serveth as trickery to get thee into the church. Once inside, I will release the shackles that will bind thee".


I stopped in bewilderment at his proposal. At this point in time I had not yet been completely sure of his sincere virtue. He may very well have been playing me for a fool no doubt. Sacrificing me to save his own hide, perhaps. However, after considering all possibilities that were offered to me I came to the conclusion that trust was not of the importance, however faint it was. If I remained inert, I could only die. So, in the end, I resolved, albeit teeth-gnashingly, to agree to Shthelith's plan. I had nothing to lose after all.


Preparations for our act of deceit that would hold court over life and death went fast. He envisioned me to become enshackled to uphold the illusion that he captured me out on the plains. When the chapel guard would let us pass, he was to afterward unbind my wrists whereunto I, in turn, had the task of interrupting whatever ritual was being conducted. However, what we refrained from taking into account was the aftermath of the little disturbance that we intended to cause.


"Too many variables", Shthelith iterated, "I can not know what number of members is present within the hall. I have no fathom in respect to Sárka's reaction. Or of how far thy friend is gone - in one way or in another".

The premise of incalculable factors unsettled me whereas Shthelith appeared to be remarkably calm about the oncoming ordeal. He noticed my severe disquiet and attempted to ease my mind by telling me how too much worry might be hobbling in my present situation. I knew this of course.


But even so, I could not shake the feeling that there was one minute detail to this undertaking that my subconscious made every effort to hide from my woke self. A thought, an implication so extraordinarily terrible as to warrant secrecy. A cogitation unreachable, for it lay at the bottom of the well of my inner eye. 

Notwithstanding my obscene irritation as a result of my continued contemplation, I decided to follow Shthelith's proposition. What other chance than this did I have?

And so, the two of us braced ourselves for the task at hand. 


Before we went out into the neglected settlement, my hands got bound behind my back. Naturally, I have properly armed myself afore, carrying my gladius and Cloudbreaker in my now filthy coat. 

"I shall release thine enshacklement upon my first spying an opening to liquidate the threat", he reassured me.

And although I had no way of knowing if the pale elf spoke with sincerity in his heart, I could not help but trust him. Maybe it was his general demeanour that continually chipped away at my prodigious unrest.


After I had been sufficiently prepared, Shthelith armed himself also. He chose a weapon the likes of which I have never seen before. It appeared to be a jagged lance, its blades lined with regular outcroppings likened in appearance to hooks, but all in the portable size of a dagger. 

I inquired about what this weapon was.

"This is an Exsanguinator", he elaborated with glee, "It hooketh onto the victim's flesh, impossible to remove without tearing oneself apart. If thou'rt getting stabbed with one of these, thou wilt either bleed out through its built-in canals or murder thyself if an attempt at extraction is made. Quite effective, if a little cumbersome to use in a war. Excellent for assassinations, however", he explained with a bewitching grin of satisfaction.


Confidence in the success of our task surged as soon as I noted how easily he could have killed me at any time. He chose not to. In fact, he deliberately went through the trouble to assist my body in recovery. Trust in his righteousness gained purchase and I began to develop a determination of divine extent. I was sure we could fulfill our quest. With his help at least.


Before we left the confines of his residence, Shthelith explained further that his weapon of choice was specifically designed to eliminate blood mages.

"It has been forged in such a way for it to prohibiteth the magickal recreation of flesh. It is enchanted to drain all magicka and all blood from the target's body. Moreover, if removed, the injury caused is in most cases great enough to bring upon instant death."

Even blood mages out here in this remote region appear to rely on magicka to cast spells and make use of their witchcraft. Truly, this aetherial energy indeed seems to pervade all things.


After making sure we were prepared to the utmost, we at last stepped outside.




The feeble wooden door of Shthelith's house closed behind us as my eyes were met with a vista of rundown dwellings of various shapes and sizes. Shthelith led me through crooked alleys and crudely constructed roads. Looking around me, I espied several sceptical, red gazes from behind doors partly ajar while we traversed the dry grounds.


At last, the chapel came into view, the slightly bent tower visible from afar, amidst the crumbling roofs, plagued by a long history of disuse and weathering, of this sorry excuse for a village. I finally rested my orbs on the great archway of this unsaintly temple and wondered just what kind of forbidden, secret deity might be revered here. These wondrous cogitations were quickly swept away by waves of concern however, for Nephethys' life was at stake.


I surveyed the entrance, guarded by one cultist whose face I didn't recognize and a thing that I had seen before - a Guardian. This nightmarish creature we, Nephethys and I, had encountered before in the horror-infested Ayleid ruins underneath the Imperial City.

The two of us carefully approached the guards. I inspected the armored Guardian whereunto I was reminded of my own mortality. Suddenly, a most infandous dread was made manifest inside my quivering mind as one question lingered with evil persistence; the one query my subconscious had been trying to hide from me all this time.


What if I died here? What fate would befall my aching soul should I meet my end? I had, up to this point, suspected that I was outside Mundus. If not, at least outside Nirn. Most certainly not within one of the planes of either Oblivion or Aetherius. This harrowing circumstance gave me reason enough to believe myself outside the jurisdiction of either of the two aforementioned planes of existence and their associated deities.

What if it was true? Would I be trapped here upon expiry, damned to interminably tread these grounds? Or would my soul simply be taken to the Void or the Darkness of Sithis? Did Sithis even reach here? 

Yet again, the inquiries mounted. But I was pulled back into reality, if reality it was, by the chatter of Shthelith and the other cultist.


"What is thy desire?", a deep, almost droning voice asked.

"Oh! Ah! Thladth! I have persecuted this here prisoner. It seemes to originate from the same realm as that particulately shaped one ye captured earlier. I do believe Sárka can find a good use for its blood!", Shthelith enunciated. Although he called me an 'it', which, admittedly, hurt my emotions to an extent as I was reduced to a mere creature through his speech, I knew that it only served to form an elaborate ruse. I could tell that he was lying rather bluntly to that Thladth character. But even so, the other cultist was none the wiser.


"Oh Shthelith. Thou must exert caution around our High Priestess. Thou dost not want her to heareth thee abuse her name in such casual fashion. But if thou insistest, prithee, present thy sacrifice to her. If thou'rt lucky, her Highness might not consume thy blood for disturbing the rite."

With these words, the two of us gained admission to the Chapel of Sárka. The heavy doors swung open as Shthelith pushed me through rather brutally, and we claimed ingress.


Before my eyes unfolded a scene of profound terror. I beheld Nephethys, paralyzed and limbs fastened to the four corners of an altar fashioned from a marbly-white stone on which she lay. This ritualistic piece of furniture stood at the far end of the great hall we had just entered.


There was a carpet woven from scarlet strands of fabric, about a meter in width, stretching in length across the entire fifty meters of the room. On either side it was lined with rows of slowly crumbling, wooden benches that were perfectly aligned with the enormously tall, cyclopean stained glass windows depicting scenes of misery, despair and gruesome beings not to be described, tinging the entire space in a marvellous splendour of gold, lilac, emerald and ruby.


The benches themselves were, to my relief, vacant. In between the benches, the high ceiling was supported by erect buttresses of light grey masonry, at their central compartment carved into the shape of female humanoids with arms outstretched upwards and grand, golden candlesticks in front of them. The impressively ginormous ceiling was built with salient rib vaults that disembogued into the internal feminine buttresses, bringing to my attention the utmost effort that has been put into the construction of the church in spite of its relatively small size.


Each of the indentations in between the ribs of the prodigiously sized brickwork was decorated with a beauteous fresco depicting the landmarks we designated for acquisition of the three seals we needed to unlock the gate to the city of Bendicia. From each of the points in their respective centers hung a great chandelier of gold, their candle holders molded into the form of perfect trapezohedrons containing white, lit candles illuminating the area.


For the last stretch of the carpet, three stairs led up to an unoccupied lectern, behind which the altar rested in malevolent grandeur. Directly behind the stone podium that supported it was an empty space of about five meters squared containing only a ladder which presumably led up to the tower of this chapel. Scanning the wall, I let my eyes wander up the ladder whereby I noticed a great rose window, a few meters before the wall I inspected vanished out of sight. The circular piece of vitreous art shewed a thing that I could not interpret. I was certain that I could make out what looked like a head, torso and claws, but consisting of strangely triangular lines and geometric shapes. I averted my eyes in confusion and instead focused on the altar in front of the space I just surveyed.


A robed woman stood before the structure, her back facing us. She held a gleaming dagger of ebony with silver linings in her right, and a darkly radiating red orb hovering above her left hand. As we entered with some clamour, a gust of wind wound itself through the hall. In response, the figure turned around to focus her attention on us. When she did, I could observe that her garments were not dissimilar to those Shthelith and Thladth donned.

However, hers featured additional, spiked pauldrons, connected to a bladed collar protecting her neck, forged also from ebony. Her hands were enshrouded in bladed, metal gloves of the same material, as was her crown, at the top of which protruded from her pulled down, crimson cowl three jetty black talons.


The woman reacted swiftly, with agitation tracing our every step.

"Halt!", she ordered, "what purpose hath brought ye hither? Shthelith! What miscreated creature hast thou dragg'd into my sacred fane? Explain thyself!", the High Priestess boomed, unmistakably furious at his rude interruption of the woeful act she had prepared.

My new elven friend cackled hubristically, staring back at her glaring eyes, burning with disgust. Thereafter he spoke: "My Mistress! Good old Shthelith never means harm! I came here to bequeath to you this humble gift. I believe you can make good use of its Mundus blood."


Sárka looked at us in discontent, sheathing her dagger and dispelling the crimson sphere. 

"I must punish Thladth, it seems. He hath refused the imperative given to him one too many times. But foremost, I shall have thy blood for this impertinent disruption!", she threatened before dissolving into a thin, red mist, gathering into a viscous puddle.

Moments later, the bloody Mistress rematerialized behind us, dagger in hand. She launched herself at Shthelith who, in that instant, proved to be fiendishly agile. In the very same second, he unlocked my chains and deflected Sárka's strike with his blood draining instrument of torment. I seized this opportunity and drew my gladius.


I consciously used the lapse in the High Priestess' concentration to swing my blade at her, causing a mild laceration on her left forearm while she was preoccupied with dodging his Exsanguinator. Following her injury, despondence rose in me as I watched the wound close shortly after. Knowing that failure to defeat this diabolical adversary was not an option drove me to continue the fight regardless.

Sárka pushed my newfound companion away several meters with astounding might, turning her back on him to face me. And lo, her face was filled with implacable hatred.


Crimson fumes perspired from her offhand. I gasped for air. I knew this witchcraft all too well. The Bloodwraith in Cyrodiil cursed me with its red hand before. Adrenaline surged and I narrowly avoided her radiant palm by mere inches. In response, I tumbled to the ground as my feet gave way under my not fully healed injuries. I fell into one of the church benches whereunto it came crashing down with me. 

While I was busy to remove the wooden splinters, great and small, from my hands and arms, Shthelith did his utmost to defend me. He knew that his very own life was on the line, just as much as mine and Nephethys'.


"Thou'rt a traitorous devil. I shall condemn thee to perpetual torment at the hands of Thellur!", Sárka yelled, readying a crimson orb in her fist as she expertly materialized around Shthelith's continued assault.

Whoever Thellur was I did not know, but the notion of 'perpetual torment' was an ill omen indeed.

Ere I could stand up again, I beheld a writhing Nephethys, still chained to the altar. To my dismay, I could not release her without the corresponding key that was indubitably with the priestess. I could likewise not count on her proficient aid in this battle. No. This time, I had to prove my worth, absolve myself of my sins and stand my own ground against this mad dæmon.


I regained courage and rushed forth, driving my sword into distracted Sárka's back as she was about to sap Shthelith's life with the red sphere she had just conjured up, penetrating her abdomen. She screeched but was muted by Shthelith who drove the Exsanguinator through her sternum. As he let go of its hilt, the High Priestess spoke only three words, albeit of prophetic import:


"You ignorant fools".


She was pronounced mad by us when she tightened her grip around the hooked and bladed lance. We believed her attempt at extraction farcical. We already considered ourselves victorious. We were wrong.


Sárka pulled out the weapon with prodigious strength, her chest exploding as a result. Her ribs and their attached flesh stretched sideways, then up, beating like wings. In their wake a copious number of bloody droplets sprayed and splattered everywhere. She flew into the air, hovering above us. 

At this point, I witnessed her left arm split apart, its two halves contorting and elongating, transmogrifying themselves into whipping tendrils. Her bones broke several times over, their sharp and pointy edges jutting out of the new extremities. As they swayed back, forth and back again, I saw that a devil had been born.


With incomprehensible rancor did the malformed High Priestess, her pulsating heart exposed and her guts and organs hanging free under the beating wings that kept her afloat, cast the Exsanguinator towards Shthelith who ducked under it just in time. A piece of cloth from his hood got carried away, impaled on the great double door of the church that slammed shut a while ago.

The ongoing commotion had arrested the attention of the guards outside, resulting in Thladth and that Guardian to break down the doors.

The other blood elf looked at his priestess and Shthelith in shock before he went on to make petty excuses.


"Mistress! I have been deceiv'd by this blasphemous traitor!", he shouted. An unexpectedly deep and raspy voice replied from over us.

"Bring me his head and thy soul might be redeem'd, free of thy mortal sin!"


With the order to kill received, the two of them assumed combat stances and assailed my friendly Aímamer. I was left to battle the detestable thing that had just arisen alone. I could no longer rely on Shthelith's support, since he was very much occupied with defending himself against the fresh peril that had been added in.


I gathered all the strength I could muster, tightened the grip around my gladius' hilt and prepared to fight a war I was unsure of winning. Sárka's tendrils swung at me in a wide berth continuously. I managed to evade several strikes before I was hit with crushing force in my already weakened side, causing me to stumble about. I steadied my footing however, the pain still numbed by the concoction I was given. 

With impetuosity, and loathing in her likeness, the dæmon buried her tentacles into the ground. I attempted to cut one of them off when the flooring before me expectorated one of the limbs to intercept me, pushing me away with superior might.


Entire rows of benches broke in my wake as I slid across the marbly floor of the chapel. I cast a short glance over to my battle companion and observed that he had not only reclaimed his deathly instrument. I watched as he already extracted it from Thladth's body, shredding it to pieces. His life got extinguished ad hoc.

Shthelith still had to worry about the opposition of the steel plated Guardian. I watched my bloodied friend defend himself and then got up, recovering from my daze.


Sárka loomed above the pools of blood that had formed in the meantime, latent evil emanating off of her. She launched a barrage of glowing projectiles at me, her tendrils still burrowed deep underground. One of the projectiles pierced my calf. Defiant, I suicidally went towards her with a limp in refusal of giving myself up that easily. With considerable trouble I avoided being sliced into pieces by a tendril that shot up from the ground as I drew closer to my destination. Finally, I deflected an almost fatal blow with my sword's edge, separating one of the tentacles from its host.


It squirmed a while before it stopped moving altogether. In any other instance this probably would have made me sick, if not for the mortal danger I found myself in. 

Before she could retaliate I almost heroically jumped at her other dæmoniac limb, putting myself in harm's way to perchance remove it quickly enough.

The Divines must have smiled on me that day, for I managed to sever its connection to Sárka's body before it had a chance of driving its osseous tip into my heart.


The High Priestess had been weakened. That was when I remembered that I still had a bullet left in my Cloudbreaker. She hovered in place, channeling her blood magic to heal her injuries and reattach the lost tendrils. She was painfully unaware of the judgement I would hail down upon her. In a moment of inadvertence, when that Mistress of outer pits of darkness averted her hellish gaze, preposterously certain of her invulnerability, I aimed my weapon at her, ready to cast forth virtuous retribution.


Suddenly, she looked at me in utter puzzlement. Then, a thunderous noise tore asunder the sound of battle, leaving nothing but serene silence. I watched her body implode, a hole as great as a Nord's head taking residence where her heart of malignity used to beat to the rhythm of otherworldly corruption.

Her eyes widened, her mouth agape, though mute with terror and disbelief. Not long after, she came falling down from the ceiling like a flock of birds caught by a poisonous cloud. A deafening crack of fracturing bones announced her impact as the shadow of death claimed her.


The thing that was the Guardian got distracted by the thunderclap. Long enough for Shthelith to find a weak spot betwixt its protective plates of armor to drive his weapon into and immediately retract, ripping it apart.


An eerie silence held dominion. Only our cumbersome breathing and the cold-hot breeze flowing in from outside disturbed the stoic stillness. 

Shthelith and I triumphantly smiled at each other, but all was not yet done.

Exhausted from the combat I collapsed to the floor. My vision went blurry, my ears rung, but I held fast, crawling towards Sárka's corpse on all fours. After pushing away some dead meat, I at last found what I sought. A key, forged from ebony. I crept over to the altar, up the stairs, and unlocked the locked locks.


Nephethys, now set free, immediately ran towards Shthelith with murderous intent. I collected myself and went after her as fast as I was able. I grabbed her hand at the last second, pulling her back. "Stop!", I entreated her. 

She was flung into my arms. The sheer speed she had morphed into a mighty crash that brought both of us down.

"That elf helped me back up on my feet", I aspirated, "and he is responsible for your freedom. Together, we have slain the fiends that held you captive".


Her eyes watered. "I thought you had forsaken me!", she sobbed, "I believed you were dead!". Tears streamed like a salty cataract down her cheeks as she pressed her quaking body against mine. 

"I can't lose you. You vowed to never leave my side! I…", is all she was able to mutter when her emotions reigned supreme and threw her into a fit of crying in cruel bitterness.

Consolingly, I stroked the back of her head when she rested her wet face on my shoulder.


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