“In which Leona explores a not-so-forgotten temple, learns of a returning power, and visits a land of nightmares.”
I was not in the inn. I later learned I was not anywhere near the inn. All I remember is I woke up to a deep voice echoing in my head, chilled to the bone, my hands numb from cold. I was chiseling symbols along a rock column.
Dropping the tool, I backed away from the stone and looked around stupidly. It was daytime and I was still in Morrowind, but this was not the Retching Netch. Borgakh stood next to me working the same stone, with blank eyes and whispering the words I’d heard the voice say. “Here do we toil, that we might remember.” I shook her awake and she stopped suddenly mid-chant and looked at me confused.
Nearby a woman was shouting at some workers to stop and come away, but she was less successful that I. The woman’s name was Frea and she said that it was Miraak that had enslaved her neighbors and she was attempting to free them from his control. This Miraak is the same one Neloth had mentioned. The one that had died centuries ago. According to Frea this Miraak had to be the same one who’d sent cultists after me.
Borgakh and I agreed that the three of us should venture into the temple together and confront Miraak if we could. The temple was clearly of Nord origin, filled with Draugr and familiar runes from the other barrows I’d explored. But something was corrupting them for half attacked us without though and the other half collapsed more than undead just outside their tomes before we struck.
The temple was a huge labyrinth of rooms, traps, and draugr and we slowly made our way past cultists and skeletons. Frea spoke of what she knew about Miraak and his reign during his lifetime. He’d been a Dragon Priest back when all of Skyrim bowed to the Dragons’ powers, but he’d rebelled and sought his own throne. The dragons feared his power and buried him beneath the depths of his temple.
Dragonbones decorated the heart of Miraak’s lair, huge skeletons hung up like toys to scare or warn, I wasn’t sure which. When we reached the heart of the temple, we found a single alter with ethereal book shining with a sickly light. When I touched the book, tentacles enveloped me and I was sucked into his realm.
It was a land of nightmares. Floating beasts, dead-eyed dragons, and decaying monsters and in the center of it all stood Miraak in the flesh. I could not even stand in that place, my power was so weak and Miraak just laughed at me and told me while I might be able to absorb dragon souls, I was a pathetic excuse for a dragonborn and had no idea what powers I could truly wield. He told me that he controlled all of Solstheim and once his work here was complete, he would return and rule all the world.
As I lay helpless on the ground of his realm, I vowed this would not be the end of me. Two of his servants came at Miraak’s command and “escorted” me out. My mind and eyes ringing with pain the book dropped from my hands and I was back in the temple.
Frea said that I’d half disappeared when I’d opened the book. That I’d been there but not there at the same time. When I told her about the nightmare landscape she begged me to return with her to her village where her father would want to hear of it all and perhaps would have some idea of what to do to stop him.