At one time, the Dark Elves of Morrowind thought it was wise to commit the atrocity of slavery. For many years, they made a business of capturing and enslaving members of the Argonian species. Needless to say, this could not go unpunished for long, as the Dark Elves were well aware when they witnessed the largest Argonian military force ever seen approaching their capital.
As chaos ensued in the streets, one of the Argonian warriors entered an ancient prison building searching for individuals to set free. Looking around, he noticed that the small building contained only one dank prison cell in the corner of the room. Seeing the two Argonians trapped inside, he hastily approached the cell and broke down the rusty, barred door.
"Thank you!" exclaimed a light-scaled female named Meesei. "We knew that our people would find us!"
"As soon as we heard the conflict outside, we knew that our vengeance had come," added her husband Nekanza, sitting in a dark corner of the cell.
The warrior smiled, replying simply, "We have come to undo all of the wrong that has been done against us." handing both former slaves a dagger to defend themselves, he said, "You two should get back to Black Marsh as quickly as possible. Be safe!"
As the warrior turned to leave, Meesei said, "Wait! Please tell us the name of the one who has saved us!"
"My name is J'Ram-Ku," he said, preparing himself to re-enter the battle. "Now go! Quickly!"
The two did not hesitate to heed J'Ram-Ku's advice, and ran out of the city as quickly as they could. Despite the extremely urgent nature of the situation, the two found that sprinting through the dry and unfamiliar terrain of Morrowind was rather difficult, and neither of them was able to run for long. When they finally stopped to rest, they sat on a hilltop and watched as Morrowind's capital burned in the distance.
"Is he alright?" Meesei inquired, looking to her husband.
"Yes, my dear," replied Nekanza, handing her the infant held carefully in his arms. "And he shall have a better life than we".
Meesei smiled, looking upon their child. "Noga..."
At once, this moment of peace was shattered by a gout of laughter erupting from behind them. The two turned around to find a small group of armed Dark Elves looking upon them.
"Well ain't this just precious!" blurted their leader, a slender, mocking individual with clear disdain for the two. "Escaping our capital to go home, are you? And what a cute little bite this one is!" he mocked, looking at the child in Meesei's arms.
At this, Nekanza stated, "Why do you do this, Duldan? you have already lost."
"Oh, I wouldn't say that," Duldan replied, his red eyes glaring. "It looks like I've just captured two of the most dangerous criminals in Morrowind! After all, it was you who lead the slave rebellions five years ago, was it not? Quite a nasty bit of work you two did back then!"
"Just let us go," said Meesei. "You do not even have a capital to take us back to!"
"Oh, I'm not taking you anywhere, lizard..." Duldan retorted, taking out his sword.
Immediately, Nekanza struck Duldan's head as hard as possible, sending him to the ground.
"I will hold them off!" Nekanza told Meesei. "You must go!"
"No! I will not leave you!" Meesei shouted.
"It is the only way! You must protect yourself and Noga! I will always love you both!"
In her heart, Meesei knew this to be true. Fighting back the tears in her eyes, she whispered, "I love you..." and turned to run as Nekanza unsheathed his dagger to fight. With her child in hand, Meesei ran as quickly as she could for Black Marsh.
With a desire to see her husband one more time, Meesei looked behind her. What she saw was Duldan's blade plunging into her husband's chest. His body fell to the ground, motionless.
She could not cry. She could not think. She knew only to run. She ran for long after any other individual's legs would have given out. She ran past an endless sea of boulders, ravines and canyons. She ran for what seemed an eternity, taking no notice as the dry and arid ground of Morrowind gave way to the lush and moist terrain of home. When at last she arrived at the vast river marking the border of Black Marsh, Meesei collapsed to her knees. Only now did she begin to process what had just happened. She wept for her beloved, and thought of how remarkable it was that he was willing to give his life so that they could live free. Only one thing mattered now: Noga was safe. Meesei looked at her child, and gave a weak smile. "You... are free..."
It has been 20 years since my mother and I escaped Morrowind. Much has happened during that time, and we now live in a perilous era: Civil wars are running rampant throughout the other regions of Tamriel, and the oppressive Thalmor are attempting to conquer the entire world. Of course, I have never seen these events myself, for in the 20 years since we escaped Morrowind, Not once have I left Black Marsh. To be honest, I do not understand why any Argonian would leave this place. We do not steal from each other, kill each other, or do any of the other horrible things that take place in the other regions of Tamriel. In addition, on the rare occasion that an Argonian does decide to leave, they often face terrible discrimination from the other races. It seems that they dislike us primarily because of our reptilian features, which make us look very different from the other races of Tamriel. What occurred in Morrowind is an excellent example of how my people are often treated.
As horrible as the Dark Elves were to us, however, they did teach us a valuable lesson: We will never be successful in interacting with other races. Clearly, we could not attempt to rule a vast empire like the Imperials, or have great economic prowess like the Khajiit. There was, and still is, only one door open to us: The world of reason. For eons, we Argonians have been fascinated by the ancient and advanced technologies left by the Dwemer- an advanced race that disappeared thousands of years ago, but left plenty to remember them by. The Dwemer only progressed as far as they did because they valued reason, logic, and progress above all else. They did not care for petty disputes, wars, or other minor disruptions of civilization. We are following in their footsteps, and hoping that someday this may be our path as well. To this day, we have succeeded in replicating several of the Dwemer's great mechanisms, and have even been able to improve on certain ones. Our advanced technology is kept as the closest of all secrets. To this day, no living member of any other race knows what lies within our homeland of Black Marsh, and no Argonian traveling outside speaks of it.
I pondered this as I walked through the wetlands. It was the place that I always went when I was deep in thought- There is a quiet, serene atmosphere about it that makes me feel at peace. Today, it happened to be raining. The tropical rain always created a warm and pleasant feeling on my scales, which I appreciated as I walked. On this particular day, it was that my mother, Meesei, had recently left to Cyrodiil for a brief time. She had heard of a newly discovered Dwemer ruin, and needed to go there to explore it for herself. I smiled, happy that my father's demise did not hinder my mother's adventurous nature.
My walk eventually took me to a vast river. This was the border of Black Marsh. As I turned to leave, I spotted something glinting out of the corner of my eye. It was just to the other side of the river, and shone brightly as it reflected the ambient light. I knew that crossing the river was not a good idea, but my curiosity got the best of me, and soon I found myself swimming across it. I swam deep under the water, letting the current pass through my gills. Though my people have predominantly reptilian features, our ability to breathe underwater has proven to be extremely useful. No other race can best an Argonian once one has reached the water. Whipping my tail to propel myself faster, I approached and climbed onto the shore.
The item in question turned out to be a sword. I could see that it was one of Argonian origin. The hilt and center of the weapon were constructed of pure ebony for structural support, while the edges were made of crystalline malachite, so as to create the sharpest blade possible. There was an inscription on the handle. I looked closer, and found my mother's name. This was her blade! Could she have dropped it on her way into Cyrodiil? Looking around at the fields that surrounded me, I reminded myself that I was in Cyrodiil as well. At this time, I saw a group of High Elves, all uniformed in the same armor, walking past. Their leader glanced at me.
"Back to the swamp with you, Argonian!" he said. "Get out of my way!"
"Who are you?" I asked.
"Who are we? We are Thalmor, agents of the Altmeri Dominion, and the future rulers of Tamriel. Now get out of my way, before I-" he stopped, looking at my sword. "Where did you get that?"
Hesitantly, I answered, "I found this on the ground by the river." The Thalmor commander took the sword from me and looked at the inscription.
"Meesei," he read aloud. "That is the name of the prisoner we captured two days ago!"
"Prisoner!?" I asked, showing more emotion than intended.
"Yes," he replied. "A lizard, like you. In fact..." he said, looking at me, "She looked a lot like you."
"What did she do wrong?" I asked, attempting to conceal the fact that she was my mother.
"If you must know, she was trespassing in an ancient ruin that had been marked as Thalmor territory." he answered impatiently. "Now, is that all?"
"Where do you take your prisoners?"
"Enough! I have wasted enough of my valuable time answering your pointless questions! You are not even fit to breathe the same air as us! Now leave my sight, before we take you prisoner as well!"
I stepped aside, and the Thalmor walked on. I needed to find out where my mother was being held! "They are likely keeping her somewhere in Cyrodiil," I thought to myself. Immediately, I decided to head toward one of the cities, for surely someone there must know. I began down the long path, which seemed to run into the horizon.
It was at this time that I met an interesting Nord in my travels. He was a large, intoxicated man who staggered down the road in the strangest manner. Upon seeing me, he called me a "Disgusting lizard." His comment concerned me. Had I been neglecting my hygiene?
Curious, I asked, "Sir, are you sure that you are not simply smelling the alcohol from your own breath?"
He stopped, and turned to face me. He brought his head close to mine, and glared. Suddenly, he burst out laughing.
"I like you, scaly! You're braver than you look!" he said with enthusiasm.
I was not quite sure what I had done to be brave, but I allowed him to continue.
"So where are you headed?" he asked.
I told him that I was looking for the Thalmor prison in order to make a rescue.
Upon hearing this, he shouted, "Thalmor! Those bastards need to leave Cyrodiil and go back to where they came from!"
I nodded in silent agreement.
He continued. "Listen, friend. How's about I help you? I know where their prison camp is."
This was the strangest way I have ever made a friend. Were all Humans like this? Regardless, I looked at the man, and answered, "I would appreciate that. What is your name?"
"My name's Hulgard." he replied.
"I am Noga." said I.
"Let's waste no time, Noga. Come!" he turned and began to lead down the road.
We trekked for two days. As we walked, the mild terrain that surrounded us began to give way to a rough, mountainous region. We were moving into northern Cyrodiil.
"You know," began Hulgard, "I was born in Skyrim, but I couldn't stand to watch the civil war tear apart my homeland any longer. This was the road I used when I left Skyrim for Cyrodiil."
I realized that we had something in common. "I was born in Morrowind," I told him. "My parents were slaves, and we fled when I was a hatchling. Only my mother and I survived. Now, I must save her from the Thalmor. She is the only family that I have."
After hearing this, Hulgard was silent for quite a while. Eventually, he said, "You and I... we're not so different, are we? I guess that you Argonians aren't so bad after all."
I nodded, and replied, "Sometimes, all it takes to destroy racism is for one race to speak with another."
At this point, our conversation was interrupted as a small town came into view. I had never seen a Cyrodillic city before, but I hoped that this was not a prime example. By all accounts, the town looked corrupt and filthy.
Hulgard pointed to a nearby tavern. "Looks like a fine place to get some food and ale!" he said. I was about to tell him that I did not drink, but decided that it mattered not. I followed him in, and found that the small tavern was serving quite a few customers.
As I approached the counter, an intoxicated man sitting at the bar turned to me. In a slur, he shouted, "Your kind don't belong here! Get out!"
Wishing to avoid trouble, I turned to leave, but Hulgard held my shoulder and said, "Wait, Noga".
He looked at the man and said, "What's wrong with my friend here? Can't he get some food like anyone else?"
The drunken man grew belligerent. He stood up, broke a bottle of ale on the table, and stumbled over to Hulgard with the sharp base of the bottle in his hand. At this, Hulgard punched the man, sending him flying into a table where a group was drinking.
The group at the table happened to be mercenaries. One of them grabbed the man by the throat and threw him down the bar, causing everyone's tankards of ale and mead to fly.
The tavern exploded.
Before I could process what was happening, everyone in the building was fighting. Chairs and broken bottles became weapons, and tables became shields. The bartender walked into the center of the room in an attempt to restore peace, but was hit in the back of the head with a bottle of mead and fell to the ground unconscious.
Hulgard and I exchanged a confused glance, and silently slipped out of the town.
We continued on our journey for several hours more, and dusk had just begun to fall. In the distance, a large fortress could be seen against the sunset.
"There it is," Hulgard said with disgust. "I want these Thalmor scum dead as badly as you do. Let's go!"
We approached the front gate of the fortress, and to my surprise, there were no guards to be found anywhere.
Seeing this, Hulgard exclaimed, "No guards! We should go in now, before they return!"
I was suspicious. "Wait, Hulgard. Why would the Thalmor leave such a critical area unguarded? I would think that-"
"That's the problem with you Argonians!" he interrupted. "You spend all of your time thinking when you should be taking action! Sometimes, it really is this easy!" he said, gesturing to the unguarded fortress. "I'm going in!"
"Wait!" I shouted, but it was too late. My Human friend charged inside, and as I suspected, immediately feel victim to a Thalmor ambush. He fought well, but eventually was captured and brought down the dark corridor of the fortress. Using this distraction to my advantage, I climbed the stone face of the building unto the roof. Looking around, I found a nearby trapdoor, and entered without hesitation.
I found that the door lead directly into the prison complex. Sneaking silently past a row of cells, I saw Hulgard, sitting in a cell guarded by a Thalmor solider. Luckily, I always carried one weapon with me: My crossbow. It is a device that has, to my knowledge, not been invented by any other race. Quite simply, it works similarly a bow, but its mechanics allow it to fire faster, more accurately, and with more force. A Dwemer centurion dynamo core within the device provides power for the self-drawing mechanism. All one needs to do is point and fire. I did exactly this, and the guard in front of Hulgard's cell was no more. I ran forth and activated a lever by the door, opening the cell.
"Well! Maybe I should listen to you next time!" Hulgard said with a faint laugh.
"Are you alright?" I asked.
"I'm a little beat up from the fight, but I should be fine." he responded. Despite his words, I could see several fresh lacerations. He was in no condition to fight.
"I think I saw your mother's cell when the Thalmor took me in here," Hulgard informed me. "It was this way!" He lead me to another row of cells, where I spotted my mother immediately. I ran to the cell and opened it as quickly as I could.
"Mother! Are you alright?" I asked, worried.
She looked at me, and smiled. "Noga!" She stood, and we embraced.
"I am alright," she assured me, though she looked exhausted. "The Thalmor attempted to interrogate me."
"What did they ask?" I inquired.
"It seems they found something of great interest in the ruin I was going to search," my mother recounted. "I do not know what it was, and they apprehended me before I could even enter the ruin. They seemed convinced that I was going to take it from them."
"If it is an advanced technology, the Thalmor are the last ones who should have it!" said I.
"I agree, but now is not the best time to speak of this. It will not be long before they discover you are here." She stated, checking the room for enemies. It was then that she noticed Hulgard. "Who is this?"
"He is a friend," I said. "Without him, I would have never found you." Hulgard nodded as I introduced him.
At this time, I began to hear noises coming from a neighboring room. A guard could enter the hall at any moment. It was time to leave.
"Come!" I said, leading the two to the trapdoor.
It was then that I stopped, and had a terrible realization. With Hulgard's distraction over with, the Thalmor would be guarding the entire exterior of the fort again. It would be impossible to leave! I explained this Hulgard and my mother.
"What are we going to do?" Asked Hulgard.
I looked around the prison hall for a solution. It was then that the answer dawned upon me.
"You two need to leave," I began. "I am going to free the other prisoners. They will distract the guards, allowing us to escape."
"Wait!" My mother said.
"We can help you!" Added Hulgard.
"No! Neither of you are in a condition to fight if we are caught. They will kill you if they see you escaping." I pointed to the trapdoor leading to the roof. "There is no one on the roof. After I create the distraction, you can climb from the roof down the face of the building unnoticed. Once you are on the ground, begin toward Black Marsh. I will meet you along the way, as soon as I escape!"
I could tell that my mother did not want to leave me here, but I could see that she also understood that this plan was our only hope of escaping alive. She looked at me, her eyes themselves seeming to say, "Please be safe".
Smiling, I told her, "I will be alright. I promise."
"I know you will," she said quietly. "You are brave, like your father."
At this, she and Hulgard turned and climbed through the trapdoor, waiting for my distraction. As hastily as I could, I sprinted from cell to cell, activating the levers to open them all. I was pleased to see that the prisoners wasted no time in running out of the building's main entrance. I listened as the chaos ensued outside, and made my way to the trapdoor. As I climbed onto the roof, I gazed down at the courtyard for a moment, pleased that my plan had worked.
"Well, well, well," sneered a voice from behind me, "Those other two might have escaped, but it looks like we came just in time to catch you!"
I froze, and turned around. Behind me stood a group of Thalmor officers, each with a clear intent to kill. Worse than them all, however, was the one who had just spoken. I had heard stories about the man who was standing before me. As I read the inscription on his armor, my worst fears came true. It was the man who had murdered my father- Duldan.
Though I wanted nothing more than to kill the murderer where he stood, I was outmatched. He and his cohorts had me backed against the edge of the building. My only hope would be to keep him occupied with questions while I searched for a way to escape.
"You are a Dark Elf," I observed. "Why would you join the Thalmor?"
"I'm just joining the winning side, lizard." he responded. "Everyone knows that the Thalmor are going to conquer Tamriel, and-" He paused, and his red eyes grew wide with recognition.
"Wait... I know you... You're Nekanza and Meesei's hatchling! Was that her who just escaped with that Nord?"
I said nothing.
"Well, I can promise you this, little bite," Duldan sneered. "After I kill you, I'm going to lead my army straight to Black Marsh! We will slaughter every last one of you, and wipe your filthy species off the face of the planet!"
This monologue had bought me precious time to search for an escape. Suddenly, I found it: 50 feet below the fortress was a river, flowing into a wooded area in the distance. I wasted no time, and jumped off of the tower, hoping that I had left the psychopath behind.
The water hit me hard, but I was happy to discover that it was deep enough for me to land in. Arrows penetrated the water, missing me by mere inches. The river was in the open, and I was exposed. Realizing this, I approached the shore and ran into the forest.
I reached for my crossbow, but felt nothing. I had dropped it! It was my only weapon, but I could not possibly stop to search for it. Returning to the river would mean certain death. Instead, I continued to run, but soon made the horrible realization that I was cornered. Before me, a vast vertical cliff soared into the sky. I turned around, scanning the area for enemies. To my relief, I found nothing.
Suddenly, I felt something hit my chest. I looked down, and was struck with horror. An arrow had lodged deep within me, further than any ordinary bow could manage.
I had been shot by an Argonian crossbow.
I was well aware of the irony of the situation as I fell to the ground. To my dismay, I found that I was bleeding profusely. I could not stop the blood from pouring out of me, and began to weaken very quickly. "My heart has been pierced," I thought to myself. My movements became limited as my precious blood continued to leave me. With my last reserve of strength, I looked up and saw Duldan standing over me, smiling.
In the past, I could never quite think of a word that described that man, but now, I knew the perfect description: Sociopath. After all I had been through, this is where it would end. The person who had murdered my father had also succeeded in destroying his only legacy. My arms could keep me off the ground no longer, and I fell, watching as the world around me faded to darkness.
I heard the voice of a man. By the sound of his voice, I could tell that he was an older Argonian. "You need to open your eyes, Noga." He said. "I have managed to stabilize your wounds, but you must stay awake!" I opened my eyes, and the world came into focus once more.
"Excellent!" He said, relieved. "I was worried that you would not make it!" The individual kneeling over me knew my name, and yet I had never seen him before in my life. He had the weathered appearance of one who had traveled far and endured many hardships. Some of the scales below his right eye were damaged. It looked to be a scar from a battle that might have cost him his sight, were he less fortunate. It was then that I noticed that I was no longer in the forest, but in a small, warm room.
"How did I survive?" I asked.
"I was nearby when you were injured," He said. "I heard a struggle and came running, but by the time I arrived, you were already on the ground, bleeding to death. I brought you here as quickly as I could and did my best to heal you."
After offering him my most sincere thanks, I asked him who he was, and how he knew my name.
"My name is J'Ram-Ku." He said. "I was the warrior who helped you and your mother escape Morrowind long ago."
I looked at J'Ram-Ku, the hero who had saved my life not once, but twice, and waited for him to continue.
"I have been looking for you, Noga. There is something that you must know." He hesitated, pondering the best way to tell me the urgent information that he possessed. Finally, he simply said, "Your father is alive".
Four words. Those four simple words conveyed the most important information I had ever heard in my lifetime. How could it be possible? How could my father possibly be alive when my mother saw him die? And if he was alive, where has he been all of these years? My damaged heart began to race.
J'Ram-Ku knew exactly what I was about to ask.
"Your father was never killed. Like you, he was very close to death, but survived the attack. When he awoke, he ran toward Black Marsh hoping to rejoin you and your mother, but before he could leave Morrowind, he encountered remnants of the Dark Elven forces. In his weakened state, he was no match for them, and they captured him."
"How do you know this?" I asked.
"I know this because he escaped from them only two days ago."
I was struck. The irony of the situation was too much for me to comprehend. On the very day that I left Black Marsh looking for my mother, my father had escaped from Morrowind and returned home, looking for us.
"He did not find either of you when he returned home, but he did find me," J'Ram-Ku said. "And I agreed to help locate you and Meesei."
"I know where my mother is." I said. "She should he heading home as we speak."
J'Ram-Ku's eyes widened. "She is not still in the Dwemer ruin?" he asked with apprehension.
"No," said I, "She was captured by the Thalmor and brought here."
J'Ram-Ku hesitated. "I told your father that Meesei's last known location was the ruin, and he left immediately to search it."
"That is where he is, then." I said. "J'Ram-Ku, you have been a noble hero to my family, and to me as well. We are forever in your debt, but I am afraid that I must implore for your assistance to-"
He stopped me. "I live to protect our people. You owe me nothing. I will assist you in finding your father."
I smiled. "You have my most sincere thanks, egg brother."
"Ah! I almost forgot," he said, reaching for something in the corner of the room, "This crossbow is yours. Take it, and ensure that you are not shot with it again!"
I reclaimed my weapon, and we left the cabin. We reached the road, and ran in the direction of home, past the peculiar town Hulgard and I had stopped at. It was not long before we caught up with Hulgard and my mother, still walking toward Black Marsh, as I had instructed. I ran up to them, and was greeted warmly.
"Noga!" my mother said, "Your plan worked excellently! I was beginning to worry that-" She stopped, looking at our mutual friend who had followed me.
"J'Ram-Ku! What are you doing in Cyrodiil?" she asked.
"Looking for you and your son." he replied. "And that is not all..."
We told my mother everything. The news of my father was a clear shock, as it was to me. She could scarcely seem to comprehend it at first, but was soon elated, especially after we told her of his location. We unanimously agreed to go there immediately, and my mother, being the only one of us who had traveled to the Dwemer ruin before, took the lead.
We soon arrived, and found that the perimeter of the establishment was heavily guarded by the Thalmor. At the eastern horizon, I saw a dim light begin to arise. The night would soon be over. If we were going to sneak in, now would be our only chance to do so. Fortunately, we Argonians have always been adept at the art of remaining undetected, and we slipped in unnoticed. Only heavy-footed Hulgard ever startled a guard, and I pulled him into cover before he was detected. We had finally made it inside. My father was somewhere in this building.
I had explored other Dwemer ruins, but have never seen one in such a pristine condition as this. The stone and metal walls were in perfect condition, and displayed a strange sort of sheen. Even the ancient tapestries on the walls seemed untouched by time. The Dwemer must have taken extreme measures to ensure that this particular facility would remain unharmed by the elements. The true question is, why? What was so special about this particular place? And, more importantly, why were none of the Thalmor inside of here? Something simply felt wrong.
We began to walk down a sloped corridor at the end of the entrance room. The ceiling was covered in an array of steam pipes, gears, and pistons, all still operating after hundreds of years of abandonment. While my people were quite familiar with technology such as this, the other races of the world were not. I wondered what Hulgard was thinking. Surely, he had never seen any technology this advanced before. I continued walking, and with a jump, I heard the sudden sound of ancient machinery.
Without warning, two blades horizontally sprung out of the walls at the far end of the hall, and sped toward us with great force! I jumped to avoid the first, and crouched to dodge the second, which missed my head by mere inches. The blades reached the end of the hall and retracted back into the walls, no doubt resetting themselves. I sprinted to the end of the corridor and threw a lever, deactivating the mechanism.
"The Dwemer civilization disappeared over 2,000 years ago, and yet these machines still operate as if they were just built! Fascinating!" My mother said with excitement.
"That explains why none of those Thalmor cowards are in here," Hulgard added.
I nodded, and we continued. We approached a metal door (Which, to our surprise, automatically retracted into the ceiling as we arrived) and found ourselves at the lip of a vast cylindrical shaft, extending down into the darkness. Suddenly, the shaft began to light up, section by section, until even the very bottom was visible.
"That isn't fire," Hulgard said, confused. "So what are those things lighting the room?"
That was a good question. I looked at the light-emitting apparatuses on the walls. They seemed quite similar to the lighting devices we used in our cities in Black Marsh. That stands to reason, of course, as much of our advanced technology was based off of that of the Dwemer. In my contemplation, I was startled when a circular metal platform rose to our level from below.
"It is a lift," my mother said, "We can use it to travel down the shaft."
We hesitantly followed my mother onto the platform, and it traveled downward until it reached the bottom level with a jolt. At the end of the shaft was a lone doorway. We approached it, but it did not open. Instead, we heard the sound of more ancient mechanisms stirring to life. I looked up at the top of the shaft, and found that the ceiling was lowering! We searched for a means to escape, but soon discovered that it was unnecessary, as the ceiling stopped about 15 feet above our heads.
The strangest, most unfamiliar sight I have ever witnessed occurred just then: Four identical mechanical arms lowered from the ceiling, and began to emit what can only be described as concentrated beams of light! I had never seen anything like this before! They repositioned, shining the beams horizontally, and directly through us! They did not seem to cause any harm. Was it, perhaps, a means of analyzing us? I will never know, for as soon as it began, it was over. The ceiling rose back to its original position and the door in front of us slid open. For a moment, we stared at each other, unable to speak for what had just happened, before walking through the doorway.
We entered the room. It was vast in scale, and was filled with pipes and mechanisms running into the center of the chamber. I looked closely, and saw what they were running into: A single pedestal. Atop this pedestal was something that I can only describe as an object of pure beauty. It was a small metallic sphere which shone with a light that was whiter than white, yet seemed to register more blue than any blue I have ever seen. The walls themselves were bathed in this brilliant light.
Out of a dark corner of the room, I saw a figure emerge. The shadowy figure walked up to the sphere and picked it up, holding it in one hand, before turning to face us. To my dismay, it was none other than Duldan.
"You!?" he shouted, perplexed. "I killed you!"
"Our bodies can sustain more damage than you may believe," I responded. "Fortunately, yours cannot. This is your end, Duldan. You are outnumbered."
He laughed at this, showing no sign of fear. "Such a pointless threat, you stupid lizard. Don't you realize what I'm holding?"
I said nothing.
"This is a generator, fool! A source of unlimited power!" he said triumphantly, displaying the sphere. "With it, we will build the most powerful weapons the planet has ever seen! Now, nobody will be able to stop the Thalmor from conquering Tamriel once and for all! Ah, and don't worry! I promise that your pitiful species will be the first to receive the privilege of death!"
These were Duldan's final words. At this, he jolted, and his eyes opened wide. Blood began to trickle from his mouth. He looked down, and gazed at the sword that was protruding from his abdomen.
An Argonian sword, ebony with malachite edges.
The sword pulled back out from behind him, and he fell to the ground, where he moved no more. Somehow, I was instantly able to recognize the man with the sword, as my father.
"Nekanza!" Meesei shouted.
"Meesei! And could it be... Noga!" Nekanza shouted in return, running up to us.
No words could possibly be used to describe the magnitude of the joy we felt at that moment. The three of us embraced for the first time in 20 years.
"My son," stated my father, "It has been so long... I am sorry for never being there for you and your mother..."
I stopped him. "There is no need to apologize, father. You were willing to give your life for us. I cannot imagine a more noble action for a parent to take."
After this joyous reunion, my father picked up the ancient glowing power device.
"We cannot allow this to fall into Thalmor hands." he said.
"I believe that our people will be able to put it to better use." my mother responded. "Simply think of everything that we will be able to learn from it!"
I nodded, and we hid the device. The five of us slipped out of the ruin successfully, and encountered no problems until our journey finally concluded at the vast river bordering our homeland.
"Hulgard," I said, turning to face my friend, "You have been a good friend to me. I cannot thank you enough for your help."
"It was a pleasure, comrade." He said. "I've learned a few important things myself. You Argonians are good people, and I will not forget that."
It was then that we parted ways. Hulgard and I resolved to write to each other, and he even offered his assistance, should I ever embark on another adventure in Cyrodiil. And so it was that Meesei, Nekanza, J'Ram-Ku, and I swam across the river and finally returned home.
This journey changed my life, and has given me an entirely different perspective on the world. No longer did I fear leaving Black Marsh. After all, the world was such a vast and incredible place to be explored! Simply imagine all of the sights left to see! I decided that I must visit each of Tamriel's great provinces, at least once in my lifetime. Only one question remained: Where would I begin this exploration?
Several weeks had passed. My mother, father, and I were standing over a table, on which lay a map of Tamriel.
"Are you sure that you wish to do this alone, son?" My father inquired.
"I am positive." I answered, looking at him.
My mother smiled. "I am not worried about you, Noga. You are an adult, after all, and you have proven that you are more than capable of handling adversity."
"Indeed," my father agreed, "And I support you as well. Now tell us: Where is it that you decided to explore?
I had thought about this question for quite some time before coming to a decision. I finally decided that I wanted see a place quite alien, where very few Argonians had ever traveled before. I pointed to the north of the map. Skyrim.