Stendarr's Sanctuary Aug 24, 2013 22:56:12 GMT -5
Post by The Lost Traveler on Aug 24, 2013 22:56:12 GMT -5
Name: Stendarr's Sanctuary
Nickname: The Sanctuary, The Retreat, The Mountainside
Type of Faction: Vigilants of Stendarr
Faction Leader: Keeper Tarvynl
Active Characters: Vigilant Mhalla
Other Notable Figures: Calilian the Mystic
Goals: The Vigilants at the Sanctuary, like all Vigilants, hold to the Vigil to be steadfast and assistant against the detection and destruction of all aberrations. In particular they wish to hunt down a coven of witches that have been harassing Hammerfell for some period of time.
Beliefs: The Vigilants worship Stendarr, the god of mercy and divine justice. The way they enact on that worship is by bringing comfort to those who have suffered at the hands of Daedra and their ilk by destroying the victim's persecutors. As is a common saying among them, “Stendarr's Mercy be upon you, for the Vigil has none to spare.”
Allegiances: While it still stood, the Sanctuary had a strong connection to the Vigilants' Skyrim chapter – the Hall of the Vigilant. Being that the two were in close proximity to each other and so could relay issues and missions. However, now that the Hall is gone, the Sanctuary still stays in contact with the Dawnguard, being some of the first Vigilants to learn of the new spell branch – Sun Fire.
Enemies: The primary enemies that the Vigilants of the Sanctuary hunt for is the witches of the Halivid Wyrd, a offshoot of the Glenmoril Coven, having turned away from Hircine to Clavicus Vile – seeking to gain direct power through pacts. Previously, Halivid worked in the heartland of Hammerfell, with their headquarters being in the eastern Alik'r Desert. After initial conflict, Halivid vanished. However, a decade ago she reappeared with a band of Forsworn witches and they began capturing victims along the border of Skyrim and Hammerfell, bringing the attention, and wrath, of the Vigilants. Though quickly found, they managed to evade entire annihilation. Since then, they've popped up all along Hammerfell, High Rock and the Reach causing the Vigilants to chase them wherever they appear.
Headquarters: The headquarters of Stendarr's Sanctuary, the Hammerfell chapter of the Vigilants of Stendarr, resides just north of Elinhir. It juts out of the Dragontail Mountains, high above the town it watches over. Unlike other chapters, who only began fortifying after the destruction of the Hall of the Vigilant, the Sanctuary is already a stunning fortress. Twin towers overlook the winding dirt trail, lined with candelabras, that lead from the foot of the mountain up to the fortress. In between the towers is a gate, with iron doors barring entrance to the bridge behind it. The bridge itself stretches over a drop, and while the bridge is made out of solid stone, with high siderails, there are parts of the walls that are collapsible, so if there was ever a fight on the bridge, the defenders would know where to push their foes so they'd fall off.
The bridge leads to the heart of the Sanctuary, a U shaped stone structure, with two more towers on each arm. The left arm is the main barracks with an attached stable on the outside. Within, the women's quarters is situated on the bottom floor and the men's on the top. Behind it is the Sanctuary's graveyard, well maintained on a sloping hill, at the top of the hill, surrounded in a cordoned off fence, are the graveplots for the past Keepers.
The right arm is split into two sections, one which houses the fortresses forge along with a cellar door which lead to the Sanctuary's armory and vault while the other holds the library, four beds which makes up the healing quarters and a arcane enchanter. Both the resident blacksmith and the wizard, Calilian the Mystic, a mage of some renown, sleep there. However, what took up the majority of the fortress is the middle section, directly across from the bridge. Here is where Keeper Tarvynl worked. The bottom floor makes up the dinning commons, a long table with benches on either side, while in the back of the room is the kitchen. The top floor holds Tarvynl's office, a spartan arrangement with a single desk, a door to his sleeping quarters and table to discuss plans with high ranking members and issue orders.
However, more than any of this, the most impressive sight that the Sanctuary has to offer is the towering statue of Stendarr. A marble sculpture elevated on a ledge directly above the Sanctuary. He holds his Hammer in triumph above his head – a mane and beard of gold, which halo about his skull like rays of the sun. Beneath his feet lie Auragloam Mine, a source of silver that Keeper Tarvynl discovered right before his initiation nearly a century before. This, combined with the lush courtyard between the U and the flowing water used for drink and bathing that cascades down the drop beneath the bridge to a pool below, gives the Sanctuary it's nickname of the Retreat – a beautiful solace to Vigilants after the trials faced abroad.
Given all this, it's understandable that some would mistakenly believe the Sanctuary is the head of the Vigil – and not just a chapter.
Locations: Stendarr's Sanctuary only has it's one main location. However, being on the border between Hammerfell and Skyrim means that their influence extends over the mountains and into the Reach. There have been times in the past where the jurisdiction have overlapped – particularly with the Vigilants of the Sanctuary crossing the border to chase down the Halivid Wyrd. Now with the Hall of the Vigilant gone the Sanctuary has picked up a more hectic workload to cover up the slack.
Weaponry: Unlike other chapters of their order, the Vigilants of the Sanctuary do not wield maces. Rather, as a good majority of them are Redguards, they forte in swordmanship. More particularly they use the silver ore mined in the Auragloam Mine plus the Sun Fire enchantments from Calilian the Mystic to create some of the deadliest weapons against the Undead that the Vigil has ever seen.
Magic: Outside of the standard magic practice of Oakflesh, Healing and Lesser Ward, Stendarr's Sanctuary has become famous for one thing – it's Sun Fire magic. It's due to the Sanctuary's popularizing of this Restoration branch that other Vigilants have taken up the mantel of learning and using the spells, in turn becoming a more effective and potent force against their foes.
Armor and Uniform: Like others in the Vigil, the Vigilants wear the standard garb. A suit of steel armor, boots and a optional pair of gauntlets with robes adorn over it, enchanted to aid in restoration magic and a similarly enchanted hood, and lastly a Amulet of Stendarr nestled underneath the cloth. However, there are a couple minor differences that mostly have to do with the amount of wealth at their disposal – all Vigilants have a matching pair of steel plate boots and gauntlets instead of the issued pair of steel boots and a optional pair of guantlets and a round buckler of hide, which has the largest change on it - stitched into the center is a hammer embraced by rays of light – Stendarr's Hammer, the Sanctuary's insignia. The same insignia is also emblazoned onto their robes making it so that wherever they go those who see them know from which chapter these Vigilants came from.
Transportation: While the Sanctuary has a stable, there's not enough horses there for the amount of Vigilants at their disposal. As such, the policy is that for those who need to journey far, then the horses will be provided. Otherwise – they had to hoof it on foot.
Other: In the library in Calilian's quarters technical books on enchanting and restoration are stored. Works such as Catalogue of Weapon Enchantments, Complete Catalogue of Enchantments for Armor, Racial Phylogeny, Withershins, The Exodus, 2920, Rain's Hand, v4, and the Mystery of Princess Talara, v2. However, the only books that the Vigilants are known to borrow are The Book of Daedra and Immortal Blood.
Numbers: The Vigilants of the Sanctuary number close to fifty total. However, they come and go in shifts, meaning only half of that was there to guard the fortress at any given time. Still, it is quite larger than it had been in years past. This was due to a couple factors.
This first of which is the Sun Fire magic. Calilian the Mystic, once he had fully Master the craft, began teaching it not only to the members of the Vigilants, but for a fee to other wizards who come seeking teaching.
Which leads to the second reason. This, along with the trade of silver, has helped not only fund the Sanctuary, but increased their total wealth. With such fortune at their disposal, the Sanctuary could afford to buy a good quantity of steeds, fine armor and even enchanted silver blades for standard use (granted, such was of their own making, but still an impressive feat). However, it was the construction of the statue that aided them the most. Though some within the Vigil has criticized that the effort was merely an extravagant expense, but it can not be denied that it is a effective recruiting method. With the influx of fleeing immigrants in the direct aftermath of the Dragon Crisis, many who hopped the border from Skyrim stopped in the small town of Elinhir due to the sight overhead who would otherwise not have stopped, influencing a couple enough to join the Vigil's ranks, and helping bolster the size of the town as well.
When the Oblivion Crisis struck Tarvynl's life was torn to shreds.
Particularly because he was Tarvynl Hlaalu.
Tarvynl was born and raised in Narsis, the headquarters of House Hlaalu in the mainland of Morrowind. That is not to say he did not visit Vvardenfell – he did, innumerable times during the 3rd Era, mostly in Balmora and the surrounding areas. However, he always felt uncomfortable there, where the Dumer traditions, religions and customs held sway, and he, like all his family within the House, had been fully incorporated into the Empire.
For while he knew of the Dunmer culture, he was never truly a part of it, more likely to go to towns on the border of Cyrodill and Morrowind to pray in one of the Chapels to the Nine Divines then ever worship any of the Daedra or the Tribunal. It was during this time that he first learned of Stendarr, in those early fuzzy memories that grow faded as the many years go on, but the deity didn't truly stand out, just another one of the Nine.
That preference and the Houses favor with the Empire came back to haunt them in the Oblivion Crisis when the Empire fully abandoned them for it's own defense. Tarvynl knew then what was going to happen, the whole House did – to some extent. In a blink of an eye, the distrust, the tension, that had been there and building up between Hlaalu and Redoran and Telvanni exploded. One by one, all the Houses supporters, it's wealth, it's power fell out of it's grasp. Tarvynl's family, being weaker and less prominent members of the House, were one of the few targeted first – their land, which had been in their possession for generations, was stripped from them, their houses in Morrowind confiscated, even the one in Balmora, until only the one in Narsis, the main house, was left to them – but Tarvynl watched as riches too left it – bit by bit.
While his family bickered over what to do to regain power, as everyone in House Hlaalu was likely doing. The choice was suddenly, and irrevocably, stripped from them. For what decisions they could make, and indeed, the choices, ambitions and desires of everyone in Morrowind were changed on that day.
The city of Vivec began to fall.
There was some fear for it, of course. The god Vivec's disappearance was a open concern, but the Oblivion Crisis and then House Hlaalu's disgrace was a far more pressing matter. Or, at least, that was the thought. Though the efforts were made to slow the fall with the sacrifice of souls, already at that time there were many, hundreds, of refugees fleeing from Vvardenfell – trying to get out of the range of the blast.
But it was too late.
The Red Year would always be seared into his memory. When all the others became dim and foggy as the centuries went on that one year all would be carved, stamped and burned into his mind like the flames of the heavens that painted the sky that year. There were tales of the Red Mountain obliteration everything on Vvardenfell, and the few who did make it over were burned, their skin melting off them before they died screaming. But that wasn't the final sign of the death of Morrowind. No. It was the ash. It poured out of Red Mountain, covering the land, killing flora, fauna, and leaving the trees as petrified stumps. The family had already known, with a silent agreement what they were going to do, the Arogonia invasion into mainland Morrowind only sealed the deal.
They packed up what few valuables they had remaining and fled north – to a ship. To Solstheim. To Skyrim.
They didn't know. They didn't care.
The family moved up the coast towards Blacklight in the far north. It was there that they learned a startling truth. The family had known that House Hlaalu was out of favor, but the animosity they received while at the heartof House Telvanni shocked them. While House Hlaalu became a scapegoat following the Empire's abandonment after the Oblivion Crisis, it seemed they were also the brunt of ire now, during the Red Year, since the blame had no where else to go. This hostility only cemented their decision – Solstheim was no bastion for them with House Redoran there waiting. They hired a boat while in the harbor of Blacklight, going west, through the Sea of Ghosts. The plan was to stay at one of the cites of Skyrim until the fallout in Morrowind was done and they received word from the main House to return to their place of prominence.
They never made it across.
The sea was rough this night. Waves as tall as two men standing, smacking the side of the ship and washing water over the bow. The sky was a deep red as always, but thunder boomed, and flashes of lightening – a contrasting white against the crimson soaked heavens – broke out time and time again. The Captain of the vessel assured Tarvynl's father, Raruls Hlaalu, still acting head of the household though he held no power save over his wife, eldest son and twin daughters, that though it was rough going there was no reefs in a hundred mile radius and so no fear of wreaking.
While there were no reefs in a hundred miles, there were dreughs.
They came out of the water, clawing up the sides of the ship with claws digging into the wood. All actions on board stopped as six of them came up, snapping their pinches and opening their jaws in savage howls. The next instant were a blur of motion and conflict, as swords rang out against their sheaths. Tarvynl hurried drew as well. He had been trained as a boy, but drew his first blood during the Oblivion Crisis while defending Narsis.
But while during the Oblivon Crisis they had the whole town militia and the powerful wizards of the Telvanni House, now the sailors struggled, being pushed and overwhelmed on either side. No one was manning the rigging, the rudder and the captain had left behind the wheel in his haste – it was the perfect, terrible combination when a wave, taller than all the others came by, slapping the face of the ship and tossing Tarvynl overboard.
Right before he hit the water he saw his father, Raruls Hlaalu, go down in a spray of blood.
When he surfaced, he saw the ship some distance away – the mast torn down and a fire raging.
When he resurfaced, the ship was only a distant blot. The waves carried him – chucked and hurled and spun him around.
In the white, blue, all encompassing red and the flashes of white lightening, in the midst of it all, he found a slab of wood, torn off from the ship far away, and Tarvynl held onto it for dear life. As the world spun out of his control once again. Darkness fell and the storm abated. And there, in that lull, Tarvynl floated – bloodied, beaten, exhausted and on the brink of falling asleep. But he held on. For sleep meant letting go, and letting go meant death.
He let go as dawn struck.
Despite his fears during that turbulent storm and aftermath, Tarvynl woke up again. Or rather, he was shaken awake. Through bleary eyes he glanced up to see a Nord standing above him. The man wore a tattered belted tunic, with tanned breaches and a iron war axe hanging from his belt. However, what stood out was the fishing pole slung over his shoulder along with a burlap sack by his feet that held baits and lures.
“This ain't quite what was expecting to fish out of the sea.” The main said jovially. Before shifting to a more serious tone. “You hurt anywhere? I'll take you back to my place and patch you up.” Tarvynl just stared dumbly at the man, even as he set aside his things and began pulling the Dunmer up. After the Nord got one arm over his shoulder, he asked, “So what's your name stranger?”
Through cracked lips and a foggy mind the word came, “Tarvynl, Tarvynl H – ” His voice cracked, “Just Tarvynl.”
It turned out the man's name was Harvir, Harvir Fjordson. He was a fisherman living a quiet life out of a rundown looking shack just underneath Winterhold. The rocky ledge the city was built on was sturdy and offered decent protection for the fisherman against the dangers of the wild. Also the fact that the capitol of a major Hold was directly over head helped with selling his wares.
Granted, Tarvynl only heard bits and pieces of this. That first night that Harvir brought him in, the Dunmer spent the entire night wrapped up in a woolen blanket and staring at a campfire that Harvil made on the rocks right outside the cabin. Underneath the blanket, Tarvynl was wearing a spare set of clothes that Harvir prepared while, at that very moment, his old fine linen garb was being burnt in the flames – both having realized that the garb wasn't even salvageable for leather strips. As Tarvynl watched the last bit of his life, the last remnant of who he was in Morrowind, char he felt a part of him melt away as well. He did not say a word that night.
In fact, Tarvynl didn't say a word the following night either. After some initial conversation trying to pry answers about the crash from him, eventually Harvir gave up and instead gave Tarvynl some simple instructions while he was away fishing or up in the Winterhold market. It became sort of a routine. Tarvynl chopped firewood, mended the nets, tended the garden out back and used it to prepare the meals each day, while Harvir did the fishing and sold extra catches and crops in town. In the evenings, as they ate, Harvin regaled the day's events, sharing the things that happened and the people he talked to.
During one of these times, he recounted one of his regular customers, a Nordic family of three, a mother, father and baby daughter. It was then that, despite himself, Tarvynl spoke up for one the few times since he had woken up in Skyrim, “What about your family?”
It was understandable really. The more he got to know Harvir and realized just how friendly and open the man was, the more odd it seemed that he was living alone, in solitude, on the outskirts of a major city but never truly a part. Harvir stopped, a tankard of ale halfway to his lips. Such a frozen surprise has happened before when Tarvynl spoke, and normally Harvir would slam the tankard down on the table, spilling it's contents all over, in his eagerness to respond and get a conversation rolling.
But this time … this time was different. He lowered the ale slowly. Gently resting it against the wood. Tracing a finger along the rim. At those gestures alone, along with the glazed over eyes that Harvir had, Tarvynl knew he had over stepped some boundary. But then Harvir glanced up and his eyes were lit with fire.
“A sunofabitch of a Daedra butchered them all. I'm gonna find him, slit his throat, cut open his bowels and leave him for the buzzards.”
That was … so much unlike Harvir in every way that the Dunmer wasn't sure how to react. To start with, Harvir was primarily a pacifist to the best of Tarvynl's knowledge – he often told of how fights would break out in taverns he visited in town for a quick drink and he would always be quick to try to break it up. Secondly, the man hated boasting, and often mocked other great “warriors” in Winterhold who boasted of their deeds to him. But, more than any of that, Harvir had seemed lost to Tarvynl – not having any greater purpose, any greater goal – merely living day to day, moment to moment, living in the lull and monotony of daily routine.
“Go on.” Tarvynl ended up saying, his attention focused on the present for the first time since he had woken up.
Harvir licked his lips, before pushing aside the ale and the rest of his meal. He clasped his hands and while he looked Tarvynl in the eyes, he seemed to be looking elsewhere. “It was about six years ago, in the middle of the Oblivion Crisis. My whole family didn't know much about it at all, living out in the middle of nowhere as we did. I grew up in a manor called Heljarchen Hall, in the Pale just south of Dawnstar. The land had been in my family for generations. My father died when I was young, so my mother was the master of the house. There was us, my two older brothers, along with my baby sister. Then there was a slew of servants and even a bard. It was a lively household, no matter how far away from civilization it was.”
He stopped there. His fingers shaking some. In a spur of the moment he grabbed the tankard he pushed aside and guzzled it down in a gulp.
“Huh.” He sighed. Staring at the empty flagon. “I never did find out where that Oblivion Gate opened. All I know is that it was a quite a distance away, since it wasn't a whole army or patrol of Daedra that came, but just one Dremora Lord. He came through the door, wearing the most terrifying armor I have ever laid my eyes on, wielding a great monster of a weapon enchanted with hellflame. My brothers and I went after him, but he just split them in twain with a swing of his Greatsword. I was only caught in the side, but the fire that burned just seared – it was so immense I couldn't move – couldn't think. But I could see. After that he slaughtered the male servants and then ...” His eyes took on a new light, the feverishness grew boiling. He swallowed, but there was no ale in his mouth this time. “When he was done, he left the bodies, butchered limbs and all, in a pile before heading out of the room. I … I crawled to him. Begged for death. Not the Nordic way, with sword in hand, but a coward's mercy. That … thing just smiled at me, smiled and left. I followed, tried to open the door – to either be granted death or have a futile attempt at revenge – but it wouldn't budge. Tried the windows. Same thing.”
He laughed, bitter like the scraping of rocks. “A week later, some mages came by. Seemed he magically locked the place down.”
“By the Nine.”
The strength had slipped out of Harvir then, the fire gone – replaced with weariness. Like that, Harvir was transformed into a old man. A old man in a young body. Older than Tarvynl was – to some extent. Harvir's voice became soft, his tale, now done with the climax, trailed to it's finish, “Those mages were from the College. They brought me here, after burning down the Hall due to the stench and the fear of haunting. Offered me a place to stay, but I declined and stayed here instead. So here I am, a fisherman, alone, without a penny to my name with the Jarl of Dawnstar holding the deed to my land to give to whoever he pleases. That's how come I have no family, Tar.”
“I'm … I'm so sorry. I wouldn’t have asked if – “
“Asked. I know. I was wondering when you'd start opening up and asking questions – you just had to start with the dozy first.”
At the time, Tarvynl thought it was merely out of a sense of obligation, of duty, to tell Harvir about his tale, what he went through right before he fell into the waves. But, looking back, he thinks of it differently. What Harvir went through was horrific, yet, at the same time, Tarvynl felt he could somewhat related. Their lives had both turned on it's head during one fateful moment, both leading up to the destruction of their family and lives. However, for Harvir, while he had never gotten to the point where he was comfortable enough with people to live in Winterhold, he was enough so to put on a happy facade – to try to change. More so, he had told his tale to Tarvynl, for the first time ever, it seemed.
That was something Tarvynl couldn't ignore.
So he spoke.
And continued to speak.
The routine resumed after that, but there was a shift in their friendship. Instead of Harvir merely speaking at meals or at night to fill the void, conversations sprung up and the two began to form a close bond. To the point when Harvir disturbed it, broke out of that daily routine, Tarvynl was left stunned.
“I'm going to join up with the Vigilants of Stendarr.”
Tarvynl sputtered on his drink. “The who now?”
“It's a new order that's sprung up. It's filled with people like me, who have this hatred, though I'm not sure if even that is a strong enough word, have this intense desire for the desolation of Daedra and all their kind. There isn't one in Skyrim yet, but there is a branch starting up down in Hammerfell, right across the border from Falkreath.”
“Do you think they will give you strength? Strength to find him? Strength to kill him?”
“I don't know. But at the very least they'll change me. I won't be a fisherman no longer.” He looked Tarvynl in the eye. “Come with me.”
And so he did.
The Journey and Training
The trip to Hammerfell to join the Vigilants was a rough one, though relatively short. In the beginning, Harvir asked if they wanted to go to a port and take a ship through the Sea of Ghosts to Eltheric Ocean before landing in Hammerfell but one glare from Tarvynl silenced him. They traveled down into Morthal, then south through the middle of the Whiterun Hold, before passing to the east of Lake Illinalta and then west of Falkreath. And even though they stopped and major towns and stayed on the road they still had to fend off a couple packs of wolves and even a bandit raid.
Once they crossed the border it was easy to ask the people of Elinhir of where the Vigilants were. It turned out they were situated at the top of a winding path. Making their way up, the duo found a single guard blocking their path. Behind him was a rope bridge that lead to a small encampment. Though the tents were spread out for room, there was still a large expanse of hilly grassland that dotted the clifftop behind them. Given it's location and space, Tarvynl already thought it was a ideal spot – though he had to wonder what the Vigil must have paid to reserve this spot for building.
Once informing them that they were new recruits for the Vigilants, they were quickly ushered to the main tent in the center. Standing inside before a half a dozen men and women was Keeper Lionex, though they would only learn that name in a bit. Unlike the majority of the men and women there, which were mostly Redguard with a couple Nords, Lionex seemed to be Imperial, having come from the heart of the Empire, where the main headquarters of the Vigil resided.
Lionex was quick to inform them that this moment on their time belonged to the Vigil. From sun up to sun down, they would be training in arms, magic and the tenets of the order. While they could leave at any time during the training any possessions that they brought with them would stay within the confines of the Vigil, having now relinquished all they owned to the order upon starting the training. If they wished to leave with more than just the clothes on their back, now would be the time to do so.
Surprisingly, only one man got up and left – a local from Elinhir. As for the rest, Keeper Lionex was good on his promise. They began their training the next day at the crack of dawn. They practiced first with blunt maces until noon, followed by study of the basics of magic after the midday meal, and lastly covering the oath, tenets, beliefs and mission of the Vigilants of Stendarr.
While most of the new recruits were drawn by the teachings of weapons and magic, hoping to become great fighters, Tarvynl noticed, quickly, that Harvir was drawn by the latter. While most of the youths were bored of the Daedric lessons, Harvir took to it with a passion – hungrily learning all he could about the Children of Oblivion – their kinds, their weaknesses, their history of plaguing Tamriel. The fury that he felt for years and had no outlet for was finally coming to the forefront.
Tarvynl was not the only one who noticed. Lionex quickly realized that of all the new recruits it was only Harvir who had true passion for the Vigil's mission. However, if it was that alone, Harvir would have merely been a favored student, perhaps rising up to be one of the head members of the Sanctuary latter in life. But it was when the construction crew came, having completed the proper paperwork to cross the border from Falkreath to work in Elinhir, that Harvir's true talents rose to the fore.
It seemed that Harvir was from a family of builders, their family having gained it's wealth in years past by constructing buildings across all the Holds in Skyrim, even building Heljarchen Hall as a family project, each head adding a new wing to the Estate. As such, when the crew was preparing to chop down some of Hammerfell's few forests around Elinhir Harvir felt compelled to point out that the Dragontail Mountains were a natural source of stone. When the crew revealed that they did not know how to construct using stone, Harvir stepped up to the plate, leading the crew, giving pointers to the original lead of the construction crew, while also staying up to date with his training.
In fact, he was more than just staying up to speed with the other recruits. He was fast surpassing them, his skill with the mace and knowledge of both Restoration magic and the doctrines of the order quickly becoming polished. A unspoken understanding came upon the recruits that it was with Harvir that the future of their chapter lay following Keeper Lionex's departure – one way or another.
It was in the fifteenth year of the fourth era, as the finishing touches were put on the Sanctuary, that the first troubling sign of that departure came.
It was the sign of Halivid.
The Origin of the Halivid Wyrd
Halivid was a necromancer out in the fierce Alik'r Desert. The Vigilants first heard of her through some nomads from the Al'in dras tribe who came into Elinhir seeking aid. Halivid had set her base around their tribal lands and attacked lone tribesmen who had been out on their own at night, killing them and then rising them again as her undead servants. This has continued until the witch built up a sizable band to go out and plague the desert sands. While the tribe is usually apt at handling itself, every time they chase after her the witch and her undead flee deeper into the desert – to where they know none can survive. They are sure that some foul sorcery is at play, but they do not know enough about such sorcery to determine it. At this far eastern edge of the northern desert, they were simply too far away from Sentinel who has control of the Alik'r and they can't allow any of the other tribes to know of their weakness and vulnerability. So some of the young nomads had traveled into Elinhir, where they had sometimes come to the bazaar to trade, and came for the aid of the Vigilants that much was said about.
It had been nearly a decade since Harvir and Tarvynl had arrived, and they, along with the rest of the recruits, had already finished their training and the hall was nearly done. Though they had been to some minor altercations before during and after the training, nothing so major that they needed a trip into the heart of the Alik'r Desert. After the commission was given, Keeper Lionex gave a speech saying that he thought they had prepared as much as they could and were ready for this. With the decision to come back after the victory to celebrate and christen the completed fortress, the Vigilants saddled up and headed into the desert, lead on the way by the two nomads who served as guides.
Though there were a couple Redguards within their ranks, they were all city born along the more fertile fringes and coastline of Hammerfell. While they had traveled through the Desert at time, they had never done so like this, entering the tribal lands. As the sand kicked up and the wind swept over them, the two nomads finally reached their campsite – lines of tents that dotted the distant horizon.
Once they pointed to which direction Halivid went Keeper Lionex asked if there was any possible hiding place that the witch could have made a home. He replied that there was nothing out there for miles, no oasis or stream. Even if one packs water and rations like the Vigilants did, the chances of finding anything and then coming back are slim.
With nothing else to do they started at the site of the last known attack and moved deeper into the desert, to where the witch had vanished.
It was grueling. Though living in Hammerfell meant they were used to the heat, it was different up in the mountains and in the serenity of the recently built Sanctuary and the verdant forests around Elinhir. Here, in the Desert, there was nothing to shade them. Each step made the Vigilants drag their feet through the sand. Though they tried hard to ration their food and drink, the dehydration was terrible. Keeper Lionex was about to call it off, when the party spotted it.
It rose out of the sand, a white slab of a building with a circular door. The stone itself merged into the desert sands, the only thing standing out was a black mold of some sort pooled around the base of the door and stuck along the edges of the building.
Harvir took one look at it and said, “The witch knew these ruins were here.”
It was easy enough to roll the stone aside, but all that faced them was the dark depths of a passage descending into the earth. One by one they filed down below, as the cover of the shadow, the coolness of stone and the underground served as a ultimate relief. The band stopped, wiping down their sweat and drinking down their spare water, leaving just enough to travel back out of the desert.
It did not take long to find confirmation that they were in the right place. After they rested, through the very next door they found two skeletons standing guard, along with a third with a bow, standing on the top of a flight of stairs to a upper door.
Harvir wasted no time in repelling these lesser undead, while, at the same time, Tarvalyn and Lionex rushed to the stairs on either side, meeting the archer in the middle. With Harvir and the five other Vigilants working on the two below while Tarvalyn and Lionex took out the one archer the group made quick work of them. In the immediate aftermath, the Vigilants were exultant, cheering and hugging and slapping each other on the back. After such a treacherous trip, a good beginning rose morale up to great heights. Eagerly the pushed on pass the door and through a long hallway lit with torches stepping out onto a balcony.
And then, they stopped.
Before them was a large rectangular room. It was split in half, with benches lining either side. Standing amid the aisles were five skeletons, looking considerably tougher than the last. Wearing armor, shield and sword. And in the front was Halivid, on her hands and knees, with a red cloth before her with eight Black Gem stones lined on it. Up above her, shadowing over her form, was a statue of a man in robes holding a mask in one hand and holding onto a dog in the other. A man with down-turned horns.
Tarvalyn took one look at it and knew, “This is a shrine to Clavicus Vile.”
With the sound of his voice, Halivid spun around screeching more like a raven than an Altmer.
The Skeletons turned around as one, charging up at the steps.
But all that Tarvalyn could see was the eight Black Gem Stones behind her, that vanish at once without a trace.
They clumped together on the stairs, blocking the way so that the skeletons had to face them one on one instead of flanking them on the sides. That would have been all well and good, if they weren't consistently distracted by Halvid's flying magics. Fire scorched, smacking against the skeletons, stairway and Vigilant Yorda, who shrieked as her hair caught on fire.
“I'll take care of her!” Lionex shouted, leaping over the edge of the stairway and charging at Halivid. Distracted from firing at afar, she focused her magics at Lionex, who threw up a Lesser Ward in time to block it. Tarvalyn had just slain one of the skeletons, causing it to tip over the stairway when he saw Lionex reach the witch. Suddenly, the black muck from before came to mind, and Tarvalyn suddenly realized what it was – melted sand, disintegration magic. “No!” He screamed, as Lionex swung his mace down.
In a flick of her wrist, Halivid thrust out her left hand. A red glow encompassed both it and the mace, and at once the steel grew red hot and them melted, leaving just a staff in Keeper Lionex's hand. While the warrior was left stunned, the witch continued her momentum, resting her hand against Lionex's chest – a flash of blue pierced through his armor, the Ice Spear out the other side of the Vigilant's back, before the Imperial was flung to the other side of the room.
Halivid swooped over to where Lionex went down, a glass dagger clutched in her palm. However, before she could swing down and end him, Harvir managed to break through striking a blow against Halvid's side. The witch screamed, stumbling backward. Only to look up to see yet another one of her minions go down and Tarvalyn rush through the breach now. As both Tarvalyn and Harvir approached, Halvid muttered words of power beneath her breath and began to glow a sickly purple, in the next second she was gone – vanish in a cloud of fallen feathers.
“Hagraven.” Tarvalyn murmured, stunned. “She is being corrupted by black magics.” He had heard of the abominations – but never seen a witch start to become one before.
“Give me a hand here!” Harvir asked who's attention had turned to Lionex once the witch was gone.
The trek back was a arduous one. It was difficult enough to traipse across the desert when everyone was fit, but with Lionex fading in and out of consciousness while being hoisted up by both Harvir and Tarvalyn made the going rough. The other Vigilants at least were generous, carrying over their canteens to pour water down the two's lips, or dabbing their foreheads with towels. But Tarvalyn couldn't help but notice that they were taking extra care with Harvir, as if they wanted to be sure that he was well taken care of as Keeper Lionex was on the brink of life and death.
Once at the tribe, Lionex was quickly taken off their hands and treated, while Harvir was put to the task of explaining the situation to them. Once they realized the threat was removed the Al'in dras insisted on giving them some recompense for their troubles. Despite assuring them that it was merely their way to stop witches and the undead where they find them and that Keeper Lionex's treatment was more than enough repayment, the band left the tribe and entered the plains surrounding the desert with Lionex bandaged, carried on a stretcher with sacks that held his armor and it's weight in gold.
While carrying his own share of gold, Tarvalyn said to Harvir, “You're going to have to learn to say no to payment from now on.” '
However, what he expected to be just some friendly banter turned to Harvir snapping at him, “Don't say that. Lionex will survive.”
They came to that conclusion midway on the final leg of the journey. Lionex was pale and each step, each jolt of the stretcher just caused him to lose more color. While during the beginning of the journey he was talkative, congratulating the Vigilants and giving them tips for fights in the future, now he was deathly silent and still. They finished the very last bit, climbing the steps up to the bridge and walking stonily past the construction crew that was just standing up from playing a game of dice in the courtyard, and laid him to rest in his bed chambers. After that, he called Harvir into his room and asked everyone to step outside.
Tarvalyn would not find out what the two talked about until nearly three decades later, but when Harvir came out, he was a changed man. Tarvalyn had seen the man talk about the death of his family, but then live the rest of his life attempting to get over it – being as sunny as he can be. But the moment he stepped out of that chamber his face was ice cold, a grim line replaced his smile. “I would have everyone meet up in the office.” The authoritative voice along told them all they needed to know. Even if they didn't see him stand behind the desk or told them what they already knew moments later.
They found a soft bit of land right behind the barracks and deemed it was a suitable place for Keeper Lionex's burial.
The years went by smoothly after that, one after another. While there wasn't another major conflict since then with Halvid or any similar potent threat – in the larger world things got hairy quick. With the Oblivion Crisis, the Red Year and the succession of Black Marsh and Elsewyr, he had thought nothing else could startle him. He was wrong. Shortly after Harvir became Keeper, a new Emperor was crowned in Cyrodill, starting the Mede dynasty. However, it is eighteen years later, on the twenty ninth year of the fourth era that the greatest change of all occurred in the form of a coup in the Summerset Isles and Valenwood, after which the new nation, the Aldmeri Dominion, severed all ties from the Empire.
In the mean time, the Sanctuary was active. After they got the good word of Al'in dras tribe, word soon reached across Hammerfell that the Vigilants at Elinhir were the folks to go to when justice need be served. Of course, in the early days not everyone quite understood that the Vigilants were only seeking to root out witches, ghosts, undead, vampires, werebeasts, Daedra and the like, but understanding grew as the Vigilants of Stendarr became more well known. Soon, however, their numbers grew to a size where they simply did not have enough gear, weapons and armor to provide for everyone.
“We need more funds,” Tarvalyn told Harvir one night. “We can not keep growing at this pace without having the proper necessities met for all the members.” That was how all their conversations went since he had become Keeper Harvir. Their old talks during the night had been replaced with business discussions and deals. While Tarvalyn appreciated being included in such important decisions, especially since he had become Harvir's most trusted advisers, he still missed those times where the two of them could truly connect.
“But even if we had funds, what exactly would we use it on? What does the Sanctuary need?”
Following that, their conversations had been about inventory. After a few discussions, a basic list was decided. Outside of standard provision for all Vigilants, they felt that they should replace the issued maces with swords, scimitars most likely, since so many of their Vigilants were Redguards and were already familiar with swordplay- reteaching them to fight when they already knew how seemed a waste of valuable resources. As for armor, steel plate armor for both the feet and the arms would be mandatory to have – instead of optional as per the regulations. The other obvious decision would be to provide shields. The Vigilants already used one handed weapons, primarily maces, however the Amulets of Stendarr that they wore were merely a sign of their devotion at the moment the divine enchantments on them to bolster a person's blocking ability were going to waste. Lastly, some horses would be ideal for long range missions, and if, by some chance, they managed to get enough for every Vigilant they could always take their own steed out on regular missions as well.
Immediately after that Tarvalyn was tasked with calculating the total cost …
and quickly deemed their desired equipment to be pipe dreams.
The Night of Green Fire
It was bickering first, at that moment. How to find funds, and whether finding them should be as important as doing the standard missions. Harvir wanted to stay on task, to focus solely on the missions , the oath of the Vigil. While Tarvalyn wanted to expand, to not just do missions, but do them effectively. But since he wasn't sure how to find funds, the two then bickered about what to do then.
It was only in the forty second year of the fourth era that the bickering, the old, old argument between the two, turned into something more entirely. Everyone within the Vigilants had forgotten about the Aldmeri Dominion at this point. The two former provinces of Summerset and Valenwood had gone cold for nearly a decade. No one heard or seen anything from them. But that changes on the Night of the Green Fire. Prior to that, Tarvalyn had never even heard of the refuge district in the capitol of Hammerfell, hadn't known that the dissidents of the Dominion had been fleeing from Summerset into their country. However, the day before the attack come, word was received from Sentinel from some of the sources the Sanctuary had in the city that a eminent attack was due. Tarvalyn was prepping to go in and was only informing Harvir of the decision (the old man had been bedridden for the last several years) when with a single hand the Nord stopped him.
Tarvalyn thought the man had gone senile. “What?”
“But – ”
“It's an order.” Harvir hadn't played that card often. A part of him just wanted to let it go.
A larger part of him wanted to screw that.
“Like hell I will! If we don't do something now, those people will die! Have you forgotten about the Oblivion Crisis, about the Red Year, about your family?”
And the moment he said it, Tarvalyn knew he went too far.
Harvir's voice was cold, he croaked it out through his graveling voice. “A new mission came in yesterday. There's been a ghost plaguing Elinhir. Deal with it.” Tarvalyn stopped then. Halted whatever he was about to say. We were going to have a new recruit deal with that. Before he could even think of a coherent response, Harvir's voice dipped, smooth as silk, “Now. Out.”
Tarvalyn opened his mouth. Closed it. Then stepped out the door.
He wanted this mission done and over with. He wanted to talk some sense into Harvir before the day was done, so they could be quick to act in Sentinel. He asked around town in Elinhir, but despite his efforts there only seemed to be half glimpses and sightings in the night. Tarvalyn was afraid he would have to wait until the night came before he could truly find it. And everyone hour he wasted trying to find this one ghost was more time taken away from preparing for the Thalmor intrusion.
Without any options though, he did wait for nightfall.
However, even in the twilight of the night, when those within the town had spotted the spectre Tarvalyn had no luck. Dejected but still determined to speak with Harvir anyway about Sentinel – successful mission or not. He began to head back up to the Sanctuary. As he was passing by the central courtyard to the Keeper's Compound that's when he saw it. To the left, by the barracks. It can't be.
But it was.
Upon rushing over to the barracks, the figure vanished out of sight only to reappear behind the main complex.
“Keeper Lionex! Wait!”
But the ghost continued on, fading in and out of sight. It became apparent to Tarvynl that the spirit of the previous Keeper was leading him somewhere. But the Dunmer refused to be swayed by fear – there was no way that Lionex could have become a malevolent spirit. With this in mind, climbed up to a ledge behind the Sanctuary and then into a crevice in the rock surface that the ghost had slipped into.
It was dark inside. True darkness. Not even light by the moons or starlight outside. But the spectre of Keeper Lionex flicker, guiding him ever downward. Despite himself, Tarvynl felt himself gripping the handle of his mace and then letting go and then gripping it again – a instinctual, twitching habit. Eventually though the ghost stopped, resting a hand against the rock wall, so Tarvalyn relaxed, letting go of his mace.
“What is it?” Tarvynl asked, before he realized that the ghost wasn't touching the wall – just gesturing to it.
So Tarvynl looked – and saw the silver vein.
Walking closer, he saw that the vein wasn't just that one, but rather lead to a crack in the wall which opened up to a larger cavern filled with countless lines of silver – too many for a quick count. Looking up, Tarvynl looked into Lionex's ghostly eyes and understood. “Thank you.” He said finally, before breaking off a chip of silver. Tarvynl pressed it through the spirit and Lionex vanished for the final time.
A whole realm of possibilities had opened up – the future of the Sanctuary written before him in stone, in silver. Eager, Tarvynl jumped down hurryingly entering into the Keeper's Compound and then going to Harvir's bedchambers. He pounded on the door. “Harvir.” He stated, the earlier fight forgotten, “Keeper Harvir! There's something you need to know!”
“Yes. Come in. There's something you need to know as well.”
Tarvynl entered, however, one look at the old Nord and his excitement fled.
“Come by my side, old friend.” It's been years since Tarvynl heard Harvir call him that. He was already crying as he walked over.
“Are you sure?” Tarvynl pleaded, “You've been unwell for a while now, perhaps – ”
“The Sanctuary's yours now. You've been running it already, it's just time to make it official.”
A sad smile came to Tarvynl. “Then, I have good news for you. While looking for the ghost, I found veins behind the Sanctuary, in the land we own. Silver veins. Enough to make everyone weapons and then some.”
A smile broke out on Harvir's face. “There'll be changes around here then. It's a shame I won't see it.”
“Harvir, I – “
“One last thing. A promise, you must keep, as I have. A dying wish.”
“Name it.” He would regret those words.
“Stay out of Sentinel.”
Tarvynl had forgotten their petty fight, but now it came back – slamming into him. “What?”
“We can't … we can't afford to be involved. Not only in Sentinel, but in all the politics of Tamriel. I watched a emperor emerge from Cyrodill, a new dynasty birthed in my lifetime. But I did nothing. I did not attend the coronation, though I am a true Nordsman of Talos, the first Emperor. I heard of the resurgence of the Aldmeri Dominion once more, but I sit here determined to do nothing, no matter what they might do in the future. Because, in all things, Sanctuary must be neutral. Kingdoms come and go, nations rise and fall but we – our mission – our goal, must be eternal. Can you promise me that, Tar? Promise me that you will kill as many of them as you can for me?”
Tarvynl was silent.
But then –
Alright. That's it for now. There's more to the story of the Sanctuary than that, but I decided I'll save the rest of it for my character sheet of Mhalla, since a good deal of it overlaps.
Now that I'm done with this whozey I'm looking forward to hearing all your thoughts!
Thanks for reading!