Blood and sweat dripped down my body as I faced down yet another scamp. I slashed at its face as it lunged forward, creating another hole in its head.
Once I had returned with the Sigil Key, I approached the guards and Captain Matius. They couldn’t believe that I had survived the gate and had managed to return one of their men to them. I told them that we shouldn’t waste any more time and that now would be the time to attack since we wouldn’t have to worry about any more Daedra coming through behind us.
We barged through the front gates, weapons ready, when we saw a large group of Daedra waiting for us. I do not know if they could sense that the gate was closed or if they could communicate in any way with one another, but they knew we were coming and they were ready.
As the others rushed past me, swords drawn, I took an arrow from my quiver. I felt far more focused against the Daedra than I had felt the first time I faced one down, which had only been twenty minutes prior to this moment. It felt like it had been a lifetime ago. A scamp rushed forward to attack Matius, its arms and claws outstretched, going in for the kill. My arrow sung as it flew through the air and then it made a sickening sound when it found itself lodged in the scamp’s ear.
With fluidity, we managed to clear out the merchant area of Kvatch rather easily. The entire area had either been lit on fire or crushed in some way making pushing through the rest of the city difficult. The only way we were going to get to the other side was to go through the church, which was where I needed to go.
I led the group to the church doors and pushed them open. Inside we saw several citizens standing around in a daze, bedrolls on the ground, a few bags and barrels of provisions, and a handful of guards. No one looked like they had gotten any sleep. I didn’t see Martin, but then again, I didn’t know what he looked like.
I approached the first guard and asked, “Are these all the survivors?”
She looked at me with a shocked expression. “How did you make it in here?” she said. “The gate at the front of the city made sure no one was getting in or out. We knew for sure we were dead.”
I stretched out my arm and clasped her on the shoulder to reassure her.
“The gate is closed. Myself, and these guards, made sure of that. The courtyard is clear of the Daedra,” I said. “You must get as many of these people out while you still can.”
She shook her head. “No, no! I want to stay and fight. You don’t understand, I have seen so much destruction,” she begged. “Kvatch was… is my home. I will not abandon it.”
I could see her desperation in wanting to stay, I understood that need all too well.
“Fine, but you must find someone willing to bring these people out. There is a camp just a the bottom of the mountain where they can go.”
“I will get one of the other guards to take them,” she said. “Thank you, let me know what I can do to assist you.”
“I do need one thing,” I said. “I am looking for a priest. His name is Martin.”
“Yes, I know him. We would not have gotten this many survivors had it not been for his help,” she said. “He is over there, praying.”
I nodded my thanks to her and headed over to Martin. I needed to get him away from the destruction of Kvatch, I needed to get him to safety.
“Martin?” I asked softly as I approached him.
He turned to face me. His face worn, tired, scared, and drained. This man had gone through a lot in the last few days. He had seen things that no person should see. Death and destruction. This was only the beginning.
“And who might you be?”
“My name is Talisa. I was sent here by a monk named Jauffre. I need to take you to Weynon Priory.”
His eyes narrowed as he took in the information.
“I do not know a Jauffre, nor do I have any reason to go to Weynon Priory,” he said. “My place is here with my people.”
He turned back around, not giving in to my urges to get him away from here.
“Martin, if you stay here, you will die.”
“Then I will die with my people!” He shouted angrily.
“I was sent here because you are in danger. You are Uriel’s last remaining heir and I must get you to safety!” I urged, taking a step closer to him.
His eyes widened. “Uriel cannot be my father. My parents were farmers.”
“You are Uriel’s son. That is why the Oblivion gate opened here, they’re looking for you.”
“A whole city burned because I am the Emperor’s son?”
“If you don’t believe me, then stay here and die. But, if even the slightest bit of you believes what I am telling you, then come with me to Weynon Priory,” I begged.
“If what you say is true, then yes, I will go with you,” he said. “But not until these people are safe. You must do that for me.”
“When we have finished off the last of the Daedra and secured Kvatch, then I will return for you.”
I left Martin to speak with Matius. As I walked up to him I noticed that two Imperial guards were grouped up with the others. When they saw me they told me how they had seen fire from the road and had come to help. I told them that any help would be welcomed.
Then we rushed out the doors opposite of the ones we had entered from. We were welcomed by several more groups of Daedra. Beyond the Daedra I could see a stone wall barricade, a moat, and a bridge. Matius had told me that the Count of Kvatch was on that side of the city. In order to get there, we were going to have to fight off many Daedra.
We sliced through group after group of Daedra. There were so many it was easy to understand how the city had been overrun so quickly. I heard one of the survivors mention how Mehrunes Dagon himself had come out of the Oblivion gate and assisted in the destruction of the city, but that can’t be possible.
After we cleared the second courtyard, we tried the gate door that would lead us onto the bridge, but it was locked.
“Captain!,” I shouted. “The gate is locked. Is there another way to get to the castle?”
“Yes, there is a key that leads to the undergrounds of the city,” he said, worry in his eyes. “The guard with that key is in the church. Find him.”
The two Imperial guards made it known that they would come along with me despite my desire to go alone.
“I am quicker on my own,” I told them.
“We understand but there are many Daedra to deal with.”
And so they followed.
I found the guard in the church. Thankfully, he had not been the one to volunteer to escort the survivors to the bottom of the mountain. I explained the situation to him, he responded by handing me the key to the door that led under the city.
“But, I must insist that I go with you,” he said. “Before you protest, I know this city like I know my own face. You will need me.”
An hour before I was traveling on my own. Now, I was stuck with three other soldiers and fighting a foe I had only heard about in story books.
With the key in hand we rushed down the steps to the undercroft of the church, where we were approached by many more Daedra. They had made quick work of Kvatch, making sure that the entire city was overrun before anyone even knew it was being invaded. Thankfully, the Daedra in the undercroft were mostly scamps and not the Daedric Knights. Those suckers knew how to fight.
We fought off Daedra as we made our way through winding underground tunnels. The tunnels had several rooms throughout it that were clearly used for storage of food and goods. Finally, we found a ladder that led us up to the other side of the bridge. The guard promised me that we would be able to reach the gate controls and be able to let the others through. I went first. I drew my dagger from underneath my cloak and placed my bow over my shoulder to make the task of climbing a little easier.
I pushed the trap door open slowly to allow my eyes to adjust to the change of light and to make sure no Daedra were going to see us. Peering through the slit I had made, I could see several scamps running around not able to fight because the guards were locked on the other side. I saw several xivilai shooting arrows at the guards. I was about to bring a stop to that destruction. I pushed the door open quickly and jumped out of the whole. I held my dagger out in case I had to close combat. I was able to skirt around without being seen and find the lever that unlocked the gates. I pulled the lever and turned around to see the guards begin rushing the Daedra. They had clearly not expected a rush of guards because they hesitated long enough for us to cut through several Daedra before they realized what had happened. Which made my position a little more dangerous.
I took off running when I saw several clannfear heading my way. I needed higher ground so I could pick off the Daedra and assist the guards. The ones that had followed me through the under croft rushed the Daedra and started picking them apart. Once I got to high ground I was able to see the many different Daedra that were attacking the guards. There were scamps, clannfear, xivilai, daedroth, flame and frost atronachs. The scene that was displayed before me looked like someone had taken a battle from a horror novel and had brought it to life. This was not supposed to happen in Cyrodiil. It was a quiet and calm nation, why would these creatures be walking on our homeland? What was the end goal of all this destruction and hate?
I would have kept on pondering those questions if a clannfear had not snuck up on me and tried taking a chunk out of my shoulder. I reacted by pulling my dagger back out and slicing across its neck. I watched its eyes as the life, or whatever they have, left its body. I felt no remorse for these creatures. Woodelves grow up having distinct morals and values embedded in them, but since I couldn’t remember what those were, I figured I didn’t care much about what happened to these Daedric creatures.
I spent the remainder of the battle on top of the overpass, picking apart Daedra that were wounded or shooting an arrow into their soft heads. The guards fought valiantly now that they knew it was possible to take back the city they had previously thought was lost to them. Hope could give any man the strength to fight against a nightmarish foe.
After a great deal of time had passed, we had cleared out this last courtyard. The only task left was to clear the castle and find the Count of Kvatch.
I regrouped with Matius and the others before heading through the castle doors. Matius told us that our strength needed to continue to hold strong in order to push through this last battle. And with those words we made our final push through the castle.
I would be lying if I said that the Daedra had given up once we entered the castle proper. There were just as many creatures inside the castle as there had been in all the other areas of the city. There was definitely something within the castle that they wanted. Had they already found it? Didn’t matter, we were going to kill every single last Daedric creature that breathed inside the castle walls.
And so we fought.
The scamps and clannfear were the easiest for me to pick off quickly with my arrows but I found myself face-to-face against xivilai and daedroth. One daedroth approached me from behind while my bow was still out, I had been firing against some limping scamps that Matius had taken on. The daedroth lashed his claws out against my back. A searing pain rushed through my entire body causing me to yell out. I clearly was not in my right mind or I would say that the daedroth actually chuckled to see me in so much pain. It really shouldn’t have. Something clicked inside my head, something that I can only describe as hours of training. On my knees I grasped at the only weapon I really had within quick reach, my quiver of arrows. I reached over my shoulder for my arrows as I saw the daedroth, from the corner of my eye, reaching out to swipe at me again. It was grinning. As its arm swung at me, I ducked and rolled forward to where I was just underneath the disgusting creature. I was so close that I could smell its putrid breath. I took my arrow and jabbed it up the bottom of the daedroth’s mouth, pushing hard enough to reach its brain. The creature went from full attack against me to taking its last breath. The death of the daedroth was almost immediate. I could feel it as it took its last breath. I got up from my position and walked away, not bothering to collect my arrow.
By the time I had taken care of the daedroth, the others had cleared out the rest of the room. Matius saw me and walked over to me.
“The count is not here,” he said. “I need you to go through the rest of the castle and find him. Either bring him back alive or bring something that proves he has fallen.”
I nodded and headed toward the large hallway at the back of the giant room filled with bodies and tapestries. The two relentless Imperial guards jogged up to me and once again pledged that they would not leave my side until my quest was completed. They were like an annoying stray dog that wouldn’t leave me alone. At least dogs don’t speak.
The Daedra must have been planning on leaving the castle and Kvatch because the rest of the castle was fairly empty. We found the count’s room with only having to fight a few scamps along the way. Unfortunately, the count’s room was overtaken by flames. Peering into the room I could see a body on the ground, it had to be the Count. I wrapped my cloak over my head and body and rushed into the room. The guards were not thrilled that I had ran into a burning room, but I had made a promise to Matius. I checked to see if the Count was breathing but his body was cold despite the fire raging in the room. I saw his count ring on his left finger and took it off. This would have to be my proof that the Count had fallen in the battle for Kvatch. He would be seen as a hero.
I returned to the guards and motioned to them that we could head back. We were running back when I heard sounds coming in from one of the side rooms that we had not checked before going to the Count’s room. I stopped running and walked over to the door, I could hear movement from within the room. I pulled my bow out and shot the first creature I saw inside the room, which just happened to be a scamp. In my rush to get to the door, I had forgotten about my temporary companions, which is why I reacted the way I did when I heard a sound coming up from behind me. It was loud enough to have been either a xivilai or a daedroth, either one would take me down quicker than I could them. I drew an arrow back and shot before seeing what was really behind me. I thought that maybe we had left more rooms full of scamps or Daedra, I would never have thought it could’ve been one of the Imperial guards. His body fell to the floor, lifeless, before I could even register what had happened. I had shot a man that had offered his expertise to me when I needed assistance. His body lay on the floor, his friend came rushing forward, the scamps in the other room were forgotten. I got up and ran to the fallen Imperial. I checked for a heart beat only to confirm what I already knew, he was dead. I had shot him square in the heart. A shot that I often made to bring any creature to the floor. The heart is the easiest target when making a quick shot. This time it cost a man his life. One look at the other guard told me that I was going to be in a lot of trouble when we got to the others, lucky for me, the scamps started making more sound.
It was easy to render the last few Daedra incapable of living any longer. The tough part was going back to the others and telling them that their leader was dead. The guard and I pushed the heavy doors open to see that the others had been gathering the dead bodies into a pile outside and lighting them on fire. No time for proper burials.
I turned toward the Imperial guard, waiting to hear what he was going to do with me.
He looked at me and said, “You have someone you need to go speak with. Take care of that for now.”
I nodded and went to find Captain Matius.
I approached Matius, extended my arm, and handed him the Count’s ring. Matius looked worn before I gave him the ring and looked much worse once the realization settled in.
“That’s it then, Kvatch has no leader,” he said.
“The city has you,” I responded.
“No one wants a war hero for a leader,” he replied, and began taking his armor off. “I am done fighting this fight. Here, take this armor, it will serve you better now than it will me. You have fought valiantly and will always be remembered as the Hero of Kvatch, Talisa.”
“Thank you, Matius,” I said, genuinely. “One day I may need you to retell me stories of my time here at Kvatch. It seems that I am missing many of my memories.”
He nodded, his brow furrowed. “I would do anything to assist you, Talisa.”
With that, I left him to mourn the many fallen.
I walked out of the castle doors and was greeted by the Imperial guard.
“I guess this is where you clasp me in irons and haul me off?” I asked, holding my arms out for him to restrict me.
“No, not today. If it were any other person, then yes, but you are the reason so many are alive right now,” he stated. “Hear this, if you ever cross the laws or me in the future, I will not hesitate in cutting you down.”
“Thank you, I think.”
“You are the one who deserves many thanks,” he said. “For now, I will stay and assist in cleaning up the dead. I believe you have something to take care of.”
He was right, I did have something to take care of.
Martin was still in the church, he was tending to some wounds of some of the guards. When he saw me, he stood and came over.
“I guess it is time then? You did as I asked, now I will come with you to Weynon Priory,” he said. “Lead the way.”
Kvatch will never be the same but we proved a formidable enemy to the Daedra. I know this is only the beginning but I know it is the first victory against the world of Oblivion.