"Will you be joining us for a drink?" asked Teldryn. "The Gods know we deserve one."
Marcurio shook his head. “No…I don’t think so. Another time.” 
It was unlike Marcurio to turn down a drink, especially a free one. “The boy has been quiet since we left the Sanctuary,” Teldryn whispered to me as I approached the counter. “I think you should go talk to him.”
I looked over at the far corner of the inn where Marcurio was sitting alone. He does look a bit down, I noted. I took a swig of ale and set the tankard on the counter, then walked over to the mage. “Do you want to…talk?” I asked him awkwardly. 
Marcurio looked up and gave a small smile. “I do…and I don’t,” he replied. “I just have too many questions that I don’t know where to start.”
"About what Festus told you?" I asked, pulling up a chair.
Marcurio nodded. “I don’t want to believe it. Crassius never gave a clue about his…past. He was just a nice old man who took me in and had the patience to teach me magic. But it seems like a lie now.”
"Festus said that Crassius made the decision to leave the Dark Brotherhood. I think you were meant to be his redemption. He might have started by saving you, taking you in and giving you a home. But really, you were the one saving him, making him a better person. That is why Festus killed him. Crassius became a different man — he cared."
Marcurio sat silently, staring at the floor.  After a while, I got up, and placing my hand on his shoulder, I turned to leave. He placed his hand on mine and held it there. Realizing that he wanted me to stay, I sat back down. We didn’t say much for the rest of the night, but the fact that we could find comfort in each other’s presence by just being there was enough.

"Will you be joining us for a drink?" asked Teldryn. "The Gods know we deserve one."

Marcurio shook his head. “No…I don’t think so. Another time.” 

It was unlike Marcurio to turn down a drink, especially a free one. “The boy has been quiet since we left the Sanctuary,” Teldryn whispered to me as I approached the counter. “I think you should go talk to him.”

I looked over at the far corner of the inn where Marcurio was sitting alone. He does look a bit down, I noted. I took a swig of ale and set the tankard on the counter, then walked over to the mage. “Do you want to…talk?” I asked him awkwardly. 

Marcurio looked up and gave a small smile. “I do…and I don’t,” he replied. “I just have too many questions that I don’t know where to start.”

"About what Festus told you?" I asked, pulling up a chair.

Marcurio nodded. “I don’t want to believe it. Crassius never gave a clue about his…past. He was just a nice old man who took me in and had the patience to teach me magic. But it seems like a lie now.”

"Festus said that Crassius made the decision to leave the Dark Brotherhood. I think you were meant to be his redemption. He might have started by saving you, taking you in and giving you a home. But really, you were the one saving him, making him a better person. That is why Festus killed him. Crassius became a different man — he cared."

Marcurio sat silently, staring at the floor.  After a while, I got up, and placing my hand on his shoulder, I turned to leave. He placed his hand on mine and held it there. Realizing that he wanted me to stay, I sat back down. We didn’t say much for the rest of the night, but the fact that we could find comfort in each other’s presence by just being there was enough.

"The whole place is clear. The Jarl will be…pleased."
Rayya came down the steps into the main hall, wiping her curved sword down. I was about to respond that we were ready to leave when I stopped short and squinted my eyes. There seemed to be an area behind her that looked a bit off, as if a cloud of vapor trailed behind her. 
"Move away" I yelled, and threw my axe at Rayya. 
Startled, Rayya ducked, and losing her balance came tumbling down the rest of the way. The axe struck something and hovered in the air for a moment before dropping with a loud thud. 
We ran towards Rayya who was struggling to get up. “Are you okay?” I asked, kneeling down to help her up. She gave out a low moan and clutched her side. When she moved her hand away it was drenched in blood. 
"It seems we missed one," Teldryn called out from the middle of the stairs. A body laid across the steps with my axe stuck to its chest. "A Dunmer, no less. Pity." He bent down and examined the dagger in her hand. "Poison on the blade," he said, then took a sniff. "Hmmm…nightshade, I think."
Rayya moaned louder and began to grow pale. I fervently searched my memory for a healing spell that my mother had once taught me for this kind of poison. The image of my dog, Rabbit, came to me, his goofy face looking up at me.
 “Why name him Rabbit?” my mother had asked when I brought him home. “He’s quite obviously a dog.”
"I found him chewing on grass like a rabbit," I replied, picking the thistles from his unruly coat. In fact, Rabbit would chew on anything he could get his paws on, and one day it would almost kill him.
I found him lying outside where my mother would hang her herbs to dry, his tongue out and taking quick, short breaths. I ran to get my mother who followed me outside. She gently opened up the dog’s mouth and took out a piece of plant that was stuck in it’s teeth. “Rabbit got into my nightshade,” my mother said softly. She closed her eyes and murmured a  healing spell. 
"I remember the words!" I cried out as my eyes blinked open. I placed my hand over the wound and said the incantation. A few minutes passed as Rayya laid on the floor, her eyes bruised and barely breathing. I repeated the spell over and over, keeping the energy flowing uninterrupted. 
Rayya began to stir. “It looks like it’s working!” Marcurio whispered.
I kept the spell going, but I was already beginning to feel it depleting my own energy. 
Rayya moaned and opened her eyes. Already the color had returned to her cheeks and the bruising around her eyes had subsided. I glanced at the already healing wound. It would still require medical attention, but at least the poison had been sucked out of her system.
Marcurio and Teldryn helped her up, and between the both of them, led Rayya out of the Sanctuary. I stopped before the entrance and studied the carving on the door. The red hand still glowed, but it had grown faint.

"The whole place is clear. The Jarl will be…pleased."

Rayya came down the steps into the main hall, wiping her curved sword down. I was about to respond that we were ready to leave when I stopped short and squinted my eyes. There seemed to be an area behind her that looked a bit off, as if a cloud of vapor trailed behind her. 

"Move away" I yelled, and threw my axe at Rayya. 

Startled, Rayya ducked, and losing her balance came tumbling down the rest of the way. The axe struck something and hovered in the air for a moment before dropping with a loud thud. 

We ran towards Rayya who was struggling to get up. “Are you okay?” I asked, kneeling down to help her up. She gave out a low moan and clutched her side. When she moved her hand away it was drenched in blood. 

"It seems we missed one," Teldryn called out from the middle of the stairs. A body laid across the steps with my axe stuck to its chest. "A Dunmer, no less. Pity." He bent down and examined the dagger in her hand. "Poison on the blade," he said, then took a sniff. "Hmmm…nightshade, I think."

Rayya moaned louder and began to grow pale. I fervently searched my memory for a healing spell that my mother had once taught me for this kind of poison. The image of my dog, Rabbit, came to me, his goofy face looking up at me.

“Why name him Rabbit?” my mother had asked when I brought him home. “He’s quite obviously a dog.”

"I found him chewing on grass like a rabbit," I replied, picking the thistles from his unruly coat. In fact, Rabbit would chew on anything he could get his paws on, and one day it would almost kill him.

I found him lying outside where my mother would hang her herbs to dry, his tongue out and taking quick, short breaths. I ran to get my mother who followed me outside. She gently opened up the dog’s mouth and took out a piece of plant that was stuck in it’s teeth. “Rabbit got into my nightshade,” my mother said softly. She closed her eyes and murmured a  healing spell. 

"I remember the words!" I cried out as my eyes blinked open. I placed my hand over the wound and said the incantation. A few minutes passed as Rayya laid on the floor, her eyes bruised and barely breathing. I repeated the spell over and over, keeping the energy flowing uninterrupted. 

Rayya began to stir. “It looks like it’s working!” Marcurio whispered.

I kept the spell going, but I was already beginning to feel it depleting my own energy. 

Rayya moaned and opened her eyes. Already the color had returned to her cheeks and the bruising around her eyes had subsided. I glanced at the already healing wound. It would still require medical attention, but at least the poison had been sucked out of her system.

Marcurio and Teldryn helped her up, and between the both of them, led Rayya out of the Sanctuary. I stopped before the entrance and studied the carving on the door. The red hand still glowed, but it had grown faint.

"Festus! Stop hiding in your hole and get out here!" yelled the Redguard.
"I’m not hiding, " replied an old bald man standing in the threshold of a  doorway. "I’m assessing the situation."
"You…!" Marcurio gasped, turning towards the old man. "What are you doing here, Festus?"
"Looks like you’ve found me out, Marcurio," sneered the old man. "Coming to avenge dear, old, naive Crassius, are you? Now’s your chance." He shot a powerful bolt of lightning at the younger mage.
Marcurio dodged the bolt and looked back at the grandfatherly figure that had, along with his adoptive father, taught him about the arcane arts as a child. “Why?” he asked behind the protective ward he conjured up.
"Crassius must have left a few details out when he took you in," he replied from the dim passageway he was hiding in. "He was one of us for many years. We did contracts together, you know…that is until he grew soft with guilt."
"I don’t believe you!" yelled Marcurio. "Crassius wouldn’t have harmed a fly!"
"Yes, it’s very easy for old men to come off as sweet, doddering grandfathers," Festus replied with a wheezy laugh as he hurled a fireball at Marcurio. "I was trying to convince him to come back, but he refused. When I suggested that I bring you in instead, he attacked me. So you see, it was all in self-defense. He was always a bit of a soft-hearted old fool." He raised both hands and called forth a double stream of lightning that went streaming towards his former protege.
The room lit up as both mages shot at each other from across the room. “Should we interfere?” asked Teldryn, wiping the Redguard assassin’s blood off his mace. 
I shook my head. “No. That one is Marcurio’s.”
"Fair enough. I’ll find a way to come up from behind…just in case things go awry," replied Teldryn, running up the main steps. 
"Crassius was an old fool!" yelled Festus. "I see that you’re just as soft as he is." 
"Your old age is catching up to you, Festus!" Marcurio yelled back. "Or have you forgotten all the spells you taught me?" With a flick of his wrists, he released two fireballs that curved around the room opposite of each other so fast that Festus had little time to react. 
A terrifying scream shot out from the corridor as both fireballs found their target. Festus stumbled out of his hiding place, engulfed in blue flames that didn’t seem to die down. Marcurio stared grimly at the burning figure as it made its way towards him. Festus took a few more steps then fell. As he looked up at the little boy he once knew, he smiled. Marcurio’s face was cold and his eyes hard as he held up his glowing hand. “You…could have…been…” 
"No," said Marcurio, then disintegrated Festus with a lightning bolt. 

"Festus! Stop hiding in your hole and get out here!" yelled the Redguard.

"I’m not hiding, " replied an old bald man standing in the threshold of a  doorway. "I’m assessing the situation."

"You…!" Marcurio gasped, turning towards the old man. "What are you doing here, Festus?"

"Looks like you’ve found me out, Marcurio," sneered the old man. "Coming to avenge dear, old, naive Crassius, are you? Now’s your chance." He shot a powerful bolt of lightning at the younger mage.

Marcurio dodged the bolt and looked back at the grandfatherly figure that had, along with his adoptive father, taught him about the arcane arts as a child. “Why?” he asked behind the protective ward he conjured up.

"Crassius must have left a few details out when he took you in," he replied from the dim passageway he was hiding in. "He was one of us for many years. We did contracts together, you know…that is until he grew soft with guilt."

"I don’t believe you!" yelled Marcurio. "Crassius wouldn’t have harmed a fly!"

"Yes, it’s very easy for old men to come off as sweet, doddering grandfathers," Festus replied with a wheezy laugh as he hurled a fireball at Marcurio. "I was trying to convince him to come back, but he refused. When I suggested that I bring you in instead, he attacked me. So you see, it was all in self-defense. He was always a bit of a soft-hearted old fool." He raised both hands and called forth a double stream of lightning that went streaming towards his former protege.

The room lit up as both mages shot at each other from across the room. “Should we interfere?” asked Teldryn, wiping the Redguard assassin’s blood off his mace. 

I shook my head. “No. That one is Marcurio’s.”

"Fair enough. I’ll find a way to come up from behind…just in case things go awry," replied Teldryn, running up the main steps. 

"Crassius was an old fool!" yelled Festus. "I see that you’re just as soft as he is." 

"Your old age is catching up to you, Festus!" Marcurio yelled back. "Or have you forgotten all the spells you taught me?" With a flick of his wrists, he released two fireballs that curved around the room opposite of each other so fast that Festus had little time to react. 

A terrifying scream shot out from the corridor as both fireballs found their target. Festus stumbled out of his hiding place, engulfed in blue flames that didn’t seem to die down. Marcurio stared grimly at the burning figure as it made its way towards him. Festus took a few more steps then fell. As he looked up at the little boy he once knew, he smiled. Marcurio’s face was cold and his eyes hard as he held up his glowing hand. “You…could have…been…” 

"No," said Marcurio, then disintegrated Festus with a lightning bolt. 

"Arnbjorn! What is going on in there?"
 The Argonian stopped in his tracks when he saw us spilling out in to the room. “Intruders!” he yelled, whipping out his axe.
Another one of the brotherhood came running into the room. “I heard noises…” He ran towards us, swinging his curved sword. “You won’t get out of here alive!”
Teldryn and I rushed towards them while Marcurio hung back to provide cover. “You’ll pay for this,” hissed the Argonian as he nimbly dodged my axe, then with a swift kick sent me tumbling backwards. I fell to the ground and had a split moment to move out of the way before he leaped on top of me. He landed a few inches away, but with a swift move of my own, I managed to kick his feet out from under him. 
Teldryn was faring no better. The Redguard was matching him blow for blow, and had drawn blood. A large gash was struck across his left arm and the blood had already stained it red. The Redguard sneered as an arrow whizzed past Teldryn. “Agh!” he cried out a moment later as an arrow stuck him in the side. “Gabriella! Watch where you put those arrows!”
"Stop getting in the way, then!" Gabriella yelled back, then shrieked as one of Marcurio’s lightning bolts hit her square on.
Suddenly Rayya was by my side. With a yell, she came at the Argonian with all her strength. With each blocked blow, the lizard was being beaten down until Rayya had him on his knees. Finally, with a quick swing, she cut his head clean off. 

"Arnbjorn! What is going on in there?"

 The Argonian stopped in his tracks when he saw us spilling out in to the room. “Intruders!” he yelled, whipping out his axe.

Another one of the brotherhood came running into the room. “I heard noises… He ran towards us, swinging his curved sword. “You won’t get out of here alive!”

Teldryn and I rushed towards them while Marcurio hung back to provide cover. “You’ll pay for this,” hissed the Argonian as he nimbly dodged my axe, then with a swift kick sent me tumbling backwards. I fell to the ground and had a split moment to move out of the way before he leaped on top of me. He landed a few inches away, but with a swift move of my own, I managed to kick his feet out from under him. 

Teldryn was faring no better. The Redguard was matching him blow for blow, and had drawn blood. A large gash was struck across his left arm and the blood had already stained it red. The Redguard sneered as an arrow whizzed past Teldryn. “Agh!” he cried out a moment later as an arrow stuck him in the side. “Gabriella! Watch where you put those arrows!”

"Stop getting in the way, then!" Gabriella yelled back, then shrieked as one of Marcurio’s lightning bolts hit her square on.

Suddenly Rayya was by my side. With a yell, she came at the Argonian with all her strength. With each blocked blow, the lizard was being beaten down until Rayya had him on his knees. Finally, with a quick swing, she cut his head clean off. 

"We’re all here," whispered Rayya. "Let’s go."
I nodded and crept along the wall slowly, trying to make as little noise as possible. The sanctuary was so quiet that I was beginning to think it was empty, and every step we took seemed to echo loudly in the corridor.
I stopped at the doorway and took a quick look in the room ahead. Just around the corner, through the crack of the door,  I could see a large man sitting in the room alone, his wild grey mane covering his face as he sat at the table with a pensive look. I turned to Rayya and signaled to her that there was someone there. She nodded and crept into the room.
He had already jumped from his chair and was running towards her before she had entered the room. “I thought I smelled vermin!” he growled, lunging at Rayya with his long axe. With a swift move, Rayya deflected his blow and spun herself out of the way.
"Go!" she hissed at us, brandishing a curved sword in each hand.
We hurried past them, their shouts and the sound of clashing metal already serving as an alarm to the others in the lair.

"We’re all here," whispered Rayya. "Let’s go."

I nodded and crept along the wall slowly, trying to make as little noise as possible. The sanctuary was so quiet that I was beginning to think it was empty, and every step we took seemed to echo loudly in the corridor.

I stopped at the doorway and took a quick look in the room ahead. Just around the corner, through the crack of the door,  I could see a large man sitting in the room alone, his wild grey mane covering his face as he sat at the table with a pensive look. I turned to Rayya and signaled to her that there was someone there. She nodded and crept into the room.

He had already jumped from his chair and was running towards her before she had entered the room. “I thought I smelled vermin!” he growled, lunging at Rayya with his long axe. With a swift move, Rayya deflected his blow and spun herself out of the way.

"Go!" she hissed at us, brandishing a curved sword in each hand.

We hurried past them, their shouts and the sound of clashing metal already serving as an alarm to the others in the lair.

"He made you Thane, eh?"
Teldryn took a sip from his tankard. “And he wants you to destroy the Dark Brotherhood? Sounds a bit fishy to me.”
"This whole appointment doesn’t make sense," I replied, shaking my head.
"And that one," he said, pointing to Rayya with a nod of his head, "must be your housecarl."
"I am Rayya," said the Redguard stiffly. "I will protect the Thane with my life."
"Yes, yes…but I think we’ve got that covered already." Teldryn gave Marcurio a sideways glance. "Anyway, the real question is: how are we going to go about destroying the Dark Brotherhood with just the four of us?"
We set out shortly after midnight, the four of us walking in silence under the darkened moons. Rayya had provided us with some intelligence as to the location of their sanctuary and the password to get through the door. “Other than that, I cannot tell you more,” she said. “I don’t how many of them will be there tonight. But I do know the Brotherhood is in a bit of a turmoil because their leader has been killed, possibly by a rival faction, I’m not sure. So now is the right time to strike.”
"I don’t trust her," said Marcurio quietly once Rayya had left to get supplies. 
"Neither do I," said Teldryn flatly. "So I propose that we keep an eye on her when things start to heat up in there."
We stuck to the road for a while until Rayya led us off into a well hidden path that took us through a thicket of trees. We hiked the trail in the dark, taking care not to tumble down the steep incline. Soon the trees began to clear and the trail began to widen. After a few more minutes, we stopped. “We’re here,” whispered Rayya. “The entrance is over there.”
I walked towards the entrance. A large skull was carved into the door. The sigil of the Dark Brotherhood — a bloody hand print — marked the top of the skull and gave off a dull red glow. I took another step forward.
"What is the music of life?" whispered the skull.
"Silence, my brother," I responded.
"Welcome home."
The door slid open, and I went in.

"He made you Thane, eh?"

Teldryn took a sip from his tankard. “And he wants you to destroy the Dark Brotherhood? Sounds a bit fishy to me.”

"This whole appointment doesn’t make sense," I replied, shaking my head.

"And that one," he said, pointing to Rayya with a nod of his head, "must be your housecarl."

"I am Rayya," said the Redguard stiffly. "I will protect the Thane with my life."

"Yes, yes…but I think we’ve got that covered already." Teldryn gave Marcurio a sideways glance. "Anyway, the real question is: how are we going to go about destroying the Dark Brotherhood with just the four of us?"

We set out shortly after midnight, the four of us walking in silence under the darkened moons. Rayya had provided us with some intelligence as to the location of their sanctuary and the password to get through the door. “Other than that, I cannot tell you more,” she said. “I don’t how many of them will be there tonight. But I do know the Brotherhood is in a bit of a turmoil because their leader has been killed, possibly by a rival faction, I’m not sure. So now is the right time to strike.”

"I don’t trust her," said Marcurio quietly once Rayya had left to get supplies. 

"Neither do I," said Teldryn flatly. "So I propose that we keep an eye on her when things start to heat up in there."

We stuck to the road for a while until Rayya led us off into a well hidden path that took us through a thicket of trees. We hiked the trail in the dark, taking care not to tumble down the steep incline. Soon the trees began to clear and the trail began to widen. After a few more minutes, we stopped. “We’re here,” whispered Rayya. “The entrance is over there.”

I walked towards the entrance. A large skull was carved into the door. The sigil of the Dark Brotherhood — a bloody hand print — marked the top of the skull and gave off a dull red glow. I took another step forward.

"What is the music of life?" whispered the skull.

"Silence, my brother," I responded.

"Welcome home."

The door slid open, and I went in.

"You’re not as dumb as you look."
I was surprised by Jarl Dengeir’s comment. Is he being serious or is he joking? “I’m just here on a diplomatic mission from Solitude,” I said, choosing to ignore his jab, “making sure that the peace treaty transition is running smoothly in all the Holds. Looks like you’ve taken back the seat here Falkreath.”
The Jarl gave me a piercing look and scowled. “I shouldn’t have been removed in the first place,” replied Dengieir. “And Falkreath is all the better now that I’m back.”
"How so?" I couldn’t imagine that a suspicious old man was any better than a lazy young dolt.   
"For one thing, I won’t empty Falkreath’s coffers to buy myself fine clothes an’ expensive mead! For another, I won’t get mixed up with criminals and other sorts who take advantage of the honest folk for profit! I might be old, but I haven’t forgotten that a Jarl’s first duty is to look after his people."  He crossed his arms and sat back on the throne with a satisfied smile. 
"I see." 
"There is room in my court for a new Thane," Dengeir suddenly announced. "It’s an honorary title, mainly, but there are a few perks that someone like you could make use of."
I was stunned by the Jarl a second time. Before I could answer, a woman stepped forward from behind me. “My name is Rayya,” she said. “I will be your housecarl, my Thane.” 
"By my right as Jarl," Dengeir said casually, "I name you Thane of Falkreath. Congratulations." 
Everything had gone down quickly and I was confused. “Thane?”
"Yes," replied Dengeir. "And good thing, too. We have a small problem that needs fixin’."
"But…"
"Oh, it won’t take long for someone like you. I need you to take out the Dark Brotherhood. Rayya will give you all the details." A faint smile crossed the old Jarl’s face as I gaped back at him in disbelief.

"You’re not as dumb as you look."

I was surprised by Jarl Dengeir’s comment. Is he being serious or is he joking? “I’m just here on a diplomatic mission from Solitude,” I said, choosing to ignore his jab, “making sure that the peace treaty transition is running smoothly in all the Holds. Looks like you’ve taken back the seat here Falkreath.”

The Jarl gave me a piercing look and scowled. “I shouldn’t have been removed in the first place,” replied Dengieir. “And Falkreath is all the better now that I’m back.”

"How so?" I couldn’t imagine that a suspicious old man was any better than a lazy young dolt.   

"For one thing, I won’t empty Falkreath’s coffers to buy myself fine clothes an’ expensive mead! For another, I won’t get mixed up with criminals and other sorts who take advantage of the honest folk for profit! I might be old, but I haven’t forgotten that a Jarl’s first duty is to look after his people."  He crossed his arms and sat back on the throne with a satisfied smile. 

"I see." 

"There is room in my court for a new Thane," Dengeir suddenly announced. "It’s an honorary title, mainly, but there are a few perks that someone like you could make use of."

I was stunned by the Jarl a second time. Before I could answer, a woman stepped forward from behind me. “My name is Rayya,” she said. “I will be your housecarl, my Thane.” 

"By my right as Jarl," Dengeir said casually, "I name you Thane of Falkreath. Congratulations." 

Everything had gone down quickly and I was confused. “Thane?”

"Yes," replied Dengeir. "And good thing, too. We have a small problem that needs fixin’."

"But…"

"Oh, it won’t take long for someone like you. I need you to take out the Dark Brotherhood. Rayya will give you all the details." A faint smile crossed the old Jarl’s face as I gaped back at him in disbelief.

"Is it just me or did the rain just get…gloomier?" asked Marcurio. "Everything about this area is depressing."
The rain, indeed, seemed to get heavier and the sky more grey as soon as we crossed into the Falkreath Hold. It was late afternoon and we had traveled through the day without incident. But now, a sense of despondency clung to the air which was heightened by the persistent drizzle of rain.
We arrived in Falkreath well before nightfall. “I can’t believe how carelessly the dead are buried here,” remarked Teldryn as we passed the sprawling cemetery just outside the city gates. “I can’t imagine my body rotting away like that.”
"This area was the site of many battles fought long ago," remarked Marcurio. "Many that fought alongside Tiber Septim died here. This town is a living mausoleum, really."
"Mausoleum is right," Teldryn. "It is so quiet here, I can hear a pin drop."
We walked through the center of town until we got to the inn to acquire rooms for the night. Teldryn stopped before the sign. “Deadman’s Drink,” he said, reading the sign that hung off the rafter. “At least the people of Falkreath have kept their sense of humor.”

"Is it just me or did the rain just get…gloomier?" asked Marcurio. "Everything about this area is depressing."

The rain, indeed, seemed to get heavier and the sky more grey as soon as we crossed into the Falkreath Hold. It was late afternoon and we had traveled through the day without incident. But now, a sense of despondency clung to the air which was heightened by the persistent drizzle of rain.

We arrived in Falkreath well before nightfall. “I can’t believe how carelessly the dead are buried here,” remarked Teldryn as we passed the sprawling cemetery just outside the city gates. “I can’t imagine my body rotting away like that.”

"This area was the site of many battles fought long ago," remarked Marcurio. "Many that fought alongside Tiber Septim died here. This town is a living mausoleum, really."

"Mausoleum is right," Teldryn. "It is so quiet here, I can hear a pin drop."

We walked through the center of town until we got to the inn to acquire rooms for the night. Teldryn stopped before the sign. “Deadman’s Drink,” he said, reading the sign that hung off the rafter. “At least the people of Falkreath have kept their sense of humor.”

"Where did you say this switch was at?" I yelled.
"It should be somewhere nearby!" Marcurio yelled back, hitting a Falmer with a lightning bolt. "Hurry! It’s getting a little too close for comfort in here!"
I swatted at a Falmer with my axe as I sprinted across the room. What little light there was came from a couple of Dwemer lanterns still pulsating after many centuries, giving off a dim green light that seemed to make it harder to see. 
Marcurio had found the last researcher outside what looked like the armory. We had just bent down to search the body when we were ambushed. With the entrance blocked, we ran down the corridor and escaped behind the massive doors that led into the armory proper. “I’m afraid we’re stuck here,” I said, catching my breath. 
"I managed to grab his journal," replied Marcurio. He took the book out and began skimming the text. "Maybe there’s something in here that can help us."
"I’ll take a quick look around to see if there’s another way out," I said. "It won’t be long before those things find a way in here."
I searched the perimeter of the large chamber, cautiously passing by several automatons that stood poised for battle.
"I think I’ve found something!" the mage yelled out.
I hurried back to him. “What did you find?”
"We can turn on the city’s built in security system," explained Marcurio. "It will turn on all the automatons. We can use them to distract the Falmer away from us so that we can get out of here."
I gave him an incredulous look. “You realize that the automatons will also try to kill us, right?”
"Yes. But there’s more Falmer than there are us. They’ll get so caught up with the new threat that we should be able to slip by fairly unnoticed…if we run fast enough."
"It’s a chance we’ll have to take."
Just then, we heard some scrabbling above us. A moment later, a large, pointed head poked out of a hole in the ceiling. With a shriek, the Falmer jumped down to the floor. A series of shrieks echoed all around us as we ran deeper into the chamber. In a few minutes, the room would be swarming with Falmer.
I could hear Marcurio yelling insults at the creatures as he bought me some time to find the switch. I fervently looked around, squinting in the dimness. “Where is the blasted thing?” I muttered angrily. Suddenly, my eye caught a dark recess in the wall nearby. “Over here!” I yelled. Marcurio ran towards me. “I found a door. Quick! Inside!”
We shut the heavy door behind us. We were in a small room with two levels. The bottom floor was empty, but a soft glow emanated from the top level. We climbed the short flight of steps that led us to a compact cage that contained a long stone table and a large, ornate switch. Without a word, I pulled the switch. I was surprised that the switch had glided into place quite easily.
We stood still and listened to the new sounds that filled the place: the whirring of metal discs, the creaking of gears, the hissing of steam — it was if the city was waking up. The Falmer, too, had stopped their shrieking and listened. A few minutes later, they took up their shrieking again, but it sounded differently.
We waited a few minutes then slipped through the door, running past a Falmer that was being chased by an automaton on wheels. We ran as fast as we could through the corridors, darting behind corners or into shadows to avoid being detected by the Dwemer guardians.
Marcurio’s plan had worked.

"Where did you say this switch was at?" I yelled.

"It should be somewhere nearby!" Marcurio yelled back, hitting a Falmer with a lightning bolt. "Hurry! It’s getting a little too close for comfort in here!"

I swatted at a Falmer with my axe as I sprinted across the room. What little light there was came from a couple of Dwemer lanterns still pulsating after many centuries, giving off a dim green light that seemed to make it harder to see. 

Marcurio had found the last researcher outside what looked like the armory. We had just bent down to search the body when we were ambushed. With the entrance blocked, we ran down the corridor and escaped behind the massive doors that led into the armory proper. “I’m afraid we’re stuck here,” I said, catching my breath. 

"I managed to grab his journal," replied Marcurio. He took the book out and began skimming the text. "Maybe there’s something in here that can help us."

"I’ll take a quick look around to see if there’s another way out," I said. "It won’t be long before those things find a way in here."

I searched the perimeter of the large chamber, cautiously passing by several automatons that stood poised for battle.

"I think I’ve found something!" the mage yelled out.

I hurried back to him. “What did you find?”

"We can turn on the city’s built in security system," explained Marcurio. "It will turn on all the automatons. We can use them to distract the Falmer away from us so that we can get out of here."

I gave him an incredulous look. “You realize that the automatons will also try to kill us, right?”

"Yes. But there’s more Falmer than there are us. They’ll get so caught up with the new threat that we should be able to slip by fairly unnoticed…if we run fast enough."

"It’s a chance we’ll have to take."

Just then, we heard some scrabbling above us. A moment later, a large, pointed head poked out of a hole in the ceiling. With a shriek, the Falmer jumped down to the floor. A series of shrieks echoed all around us as we ran deeper into the chamber. In a few minutes, the room would be swarming with Falmer.

I could hear Marcurio yelling insults at the creatures as he bought me some time to find the switch. I fervently looked around, squinting in the dimness. “Where is the blasted thing?” I muttered angrily. Suddenly, my eye caught a dark recess in the wall nearby. “Over here!” I yelled. Marcurio ran towards me. “I found a door. Quick! Inside!”

We shut the heavy door behind us. We were in a small room with two levels. The bottom floor was empty, but a soft glow emanated from the top level. We climbed the short flight of steps that led us to a compact cage that contained a long stone table and a large, ornate switch. Without a word, I pulled the switch. I was surprised that the switch had glided into place quite easily.

We stood still and listened to the new sounds that filled the place: the whirring of metal discs, the creaking of gears, the hissing of steam — it was if the city was waking up. The Falmer, too, had stopped their shrieking and listened. A few minutes later, they took up their shrieking again, but it sounded differently.

We waited a few minutes then slipped through the door, running past a Falmer that was being chased by an automaton on wheels. We ran as fast as we could through the corridors, darting behind corners or into shadows to avoid being detected by the Dwemer guardians.

Marcurio’s plan had worked.

"This one is Krag."
"Anything else in that journal besides his name?" asked Marcurio.
"Not really," I said, shaking my head. "He really looking forward to exploring this ruin. Poor guy didn’t have a chance."
Marcurio looked around to see if there were any more clues. Realizing that there wasn’t much there, he began walking away. 
"Where are you going?" I asked.
"We’re still missing one," replied Marcurio, already halfway across the bridge. "And I intend to find him so that I can have the pleasure of watching you pay for my drink!"

"This one is Krag."

"Anything else in that journal besides his name?" asked Marcurio.

"Not really," I said, shaking my head. "He really looking forward to exploring this ruin. Poor guy didn’t have a chance."

Marcurio looked around to see if there were any more clues. Realizing that there wasn’t much there, he began walking away. 

"Where are you going?" I asked.

"We’re still missing one," replied Marcurio, already halfway across the bridge. "And I intend to find him so that I can have the pleasure of watching you pay for my drink!"