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Kicking Skyrim's Ass Day 9-10: Miraak's Defeat Looms

Though progress has slowed a bit in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (thanks to an unusually thick obligation of real life work that is ongoing for at least another week now) I managed to push my current save game up to 50 hours invested in my current character.  That's a fairly great achievement considering I was completely sick of this game after 450 hours of playing it before I started this character.
Sneaking in the bowels of the Temple of Miraak, I notice figures moving in the murk at the end of a huge chamber. 
Draugr, or perhaps more cultists.  I draw my bow and begin softening them up.  Few survive to face us in melee.
As I mentioned in the last entry, I think the Dragonborn expansion has proven a good reason to come back for a second look.  Over the past couple days, I completed two dungeons that were part of the main quest line involving confronting the titular antagonist, the first dragonborn, a former dragon priest named Miraak.

The first such dungeon was the Temple of Miraak itself.  Nordic ruins like these are as common as dirt in Skyrim, but this temple stood apart with a great deal of custom chambers specially created for this expansion.  At the end of the dungeon was a meeting with Miraak himself, where he currently resides, serving the Daedric Prince of knowledge, Hermaeus Mora.  Of course, all that happened here was that he looked formidable and ran away, a  classic move out of the mustache-twirling villain's handbook.

Following that, I was lead to Skall Village, quite the unoriginal name for a village occupied by nords who call themselves the skall.  These are basically nords who have gone back to nature, revering the idea of the All-Maker, the being that created everything (at least according to their mythology), perhaps in a manner quite similar to the Great Spirit of real life Native Americans.

In any case, all was not well in Skall Village, they had found a way to block the mental suggestion of Miraak, but most of their number had already been brainwashed into building a shrine on a major magical lay line.  A short jaunt later, I had killed yet-another-dragon and unlocked a word of power that let me attack the shrines directly, freeing the captivated villagers.   Soon, I had done the same for all the other shrines in the island, except for one, which Miraak keeps captured deep inside his temple.
The Seekers of Hermaeus Mora's realm,
Apocrypha, may have once been morals
who came seeking knowledge, and were
ensnared by it.

The next step of the main quest involved following a rather stuffy dark elf mage, Neloth, into an unusually advanced dwemer ruin.  The goal was to get my hands on another of Hermaeus Mora's black books.  Getting this book was significantly tougher than the last one I recovered (by simply descending to the bottom of the mine in Raven Rock) as I had to release it from a steam-powered lock.  Doing so required exploring the various halls of this ruin, most of which were flooded, but the flooding could be controlled through the use of mechanisms controlled by mechanical cubes.  All things considered, these ruins made for a more interesting dungeon than most, but it seemed rather short in length.

Getting my hands on this black book turned out to be the next quest in the main line, a significant dungeon in and of itself.  As with all black books, reading it transported me to Apocrypha, and this time I needed to navigate three sections ("chapters") of the dark dimension filled with perils.  There were jumping puzzles (thankfully not all that annoying) and several fights with the denizens of that dimension, seekers and lurkers.  There were also many cool sights to be had: whoever designed these maps really knew what they were doing.  Upon reaching chapter IV, I had a little chat with Hermaeus Mora himself, who gave me the second word of power in the same line of Shouts that I used to free the Skall Village.

I left with my Unyielding Force Shout's potency increased thanks to the contents of the black book, and a new quest: to compel the shaman of the Skall village to give Hermaeus Mora all of his secrets in exchange for the third word of power I would need to confront Miraak himself.  I'm not yet sure how I can convince the old man to do that, as he considers daedra to be evil things.  (And maybe he's right, considering all but a very few daedric princes have a tendency to treat mortals as playthings, and the remaining few may just be more subtle about it.)

Good times.  It looks like I am nearly to the end of the main quest line in the Dragonborn expansion, although there are still plenty of side quests to do in Solstheim after that.  In fact, this expansion is rich in being a legitimate expansion to Skyrim itself, there's a great deal of dungeons and other land features about the island of Solstheim to investigate, if I want.

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