Blackreach

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Blackreach

Post  Minus2Degrees on Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:02 pm

As always, don't read any of this if you haven't done the main quest, because it's full of spoilers.




The second most significant thing I picked up from my experience in Blackreach is this: I am in awe of the Dwemer, and their mysterious lost civilization. Their technology, seen through the eyes of a Tamriel surface-dweller who lights his house with burning charcoal, is simply frightening. I am still in there yet as I write this, standing in front of the gigantic machine that guarded the Elder Scroll, the massive mechanical orb that swung its metal pieces to and fro, powered by some unfathomable energy that surpasses even the most powerful mage in Winterhold.

But what is the most significant, you say? It is that the Falmer -- those grotesque, unseeing (but all-sensing) ghostly ogres of the underworld -- have taken the fight to a new level.

They made it personal.




Septimus Signus, that crazy old man living amongst the ice floes of the Sea of Ghosts, had pointed Aela and I in the right direction, down into a Dwemer ruin where he had said an Elder Scroll was kept.

My wife and fellow Companion Aela and I had seen Dwemer ruins before, as well as their Falmer keepers. We both knew that even though we had relentlessly trained for such battles, and hammered our armor and weapons to near-perfection, exploring the interior of these lost subterranean cities was always going to be a question mark.

We felt we were ready for anything by now, but there was no way to know what to expect without simply tackling it head-on and finding out. So despite our confident stride as we marched down into the Alftand ruin, I'm willing to admit a nervous grinding of my Orcish tusk-teeth. We were headed to Blackreach.

The journey through Alftand was reasonably straightforward. From experience in other ruins we'd discovered in the Rift, we knew how to pace ourselves, how to check for traps, how to lure the Falmer out of their hiding places and deal with them as only a well-practiced team knows how.

The gods as my witness, I thought this was going to be easy. A sweetroll for lunch.




The Attunement Sphere, given to me by Septimus, was in place. A mechanical staircase formed and beckoned Aela and I to the realm of Blackreach.

We stepped through the door and beheld it with our own eyes... stunned.

We don't get stunned. It's just not what we do -- we're battle-hardened mercenaries, Imperial fighters, the blood of fearsome beasts coursing through our veins, encased in finely-honed and tempered metals. We are merciless wagons of war.

But there we stood... stunned.

We were looking at a vast, seemingly endless underground city -- no, an entire hold, with roadways and countless buildings and towers stretching off into what looked like infinity. There were glowing points of light overhead -- those weren't stars, were they? Did the Dwarves re-create all of Nirn down here, with their own universe? What incomprehensible power did this lost race possess, that they could achieve such wonders?

We moved at a brisk pace down a cobbled road by buildings, overpasses, and structures of dizzying number. Waves of Falmer had been mobilized to meet us every step of the way, and we had held our own, more or less, although their numbers had increased steadily as we fought our way to what looked like the center square of this dead metropolis.

It was at this square -- watched from above by an unbelievably huge, glowing oval lantern -- when the Falmer hordes stepped up the pace, joined by squads of their human servants. Aela and I had to split up to engage them, as they stampeded into the square from every direction. Rushing up a flight of stairs to one side, I was in the midst of eliminating a team of three Falmer attackers when I heard the scream.

It was Aela. She was being overpowered.

I sprinted, feeling all my stamina draining from me as I ran. I arrived with barely enough strength left to destroy the assailants, lashing out to hack them apart... but it was too late.

Aela lay still. Blackreach, that hauntingly beautiful chasm, was now her grave.

For me, Kharnus Kor, Orc, Dragonborn... it was now a battle of revenge, as much as it was a battle of duty.

----------------------------------------

I'll keep building on this little story of mine, of the Orc Kharnus Kor, once I navigate my way back out of Blackreach. I'm going to be spending the week examining every nook and cranny of this place, looting it bare, and bludgeoning every blasted Falmer monster I see to a bloody pulp. They killed my wife, dammit. (I have a saved game from before we entered Blackreach, with Aela still alive, but I'm not going to use it. Fate is fate -- some are destined to die in battle, and if I've got to lose my wife and follower in a battle, it might as well be in Blackreach while trying to find the Elder Scroll.)

In the meantime, let me venture the personal opinion that Blackreach is the most beautiful video game level of all time.
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Re: Blackreach

Post  Minus2Degrees on Mon Mar 26, 2012 1:17 am

Additional things that wowed me about Blackreach (again, spoiler-riffic):

- SOUL GEMS, SOUL GEMS EVERYWHERE. There are literally dozens (a later check of UESPWiki says 38 of them!) geode veins in Blackreach, each of which will yield several leveled soul gems. If you're over level 31, this will include black soul gems, which are priceless if you're an enchanter -- they result in the most powerful enchants when you fill them, and the most valuable crafted items. Fill them with those pesky Falmer servant guys that keep attacking you.

- Remember the huge orange lantern hanging over the Debate Hall courtyard I mentioned? If you shout Unrelenting Force at it, you discover that there's a freaking dragon up there! It is the dragon Vulthuryol, who is understandably ticked off at you for disturbing its slumber, so it flies down and tries to totally end your ass with Fire Breath. If you've got the Deadly Dragons mod installed, you're in for it... but the good thing is, this guy doesn't stay in the air too long. He eventually lands and walks around, so he's a fairly easy target for melee characters. I guess being trapped in an underground cavern for centuries made its flight ability a little rusty.

- The observatory in the Tower of Mzark is one of the most awesome things I've ever seen in an RPG, and I mean it. These guys, at Bethesda, who think this stuff up? They're total geniuses.
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Re: Blackreach

Post  Genis on Mon Mar 26, 2012 3:06 am

I cleared Blackreach about a week or so ago and I was blown away by it as well. I believe I read somewhere that is just a little smaller than the entirety of Skyrim.

I was around level 45 or so, so I didn't have a whole lot of trouble. I'm sorry to hear about your wife, though. I'm sure she's glad she fell in battle for the good of all of Nirn instead of lazing around all day in Jorrvaskr. I'm sure your orc's revenge will be violent and messy toward all the Falmer out there.
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Re: Blackreach

Post  Minus2Degrees on Mon Mar 26, 2012 3:14 am

Genis wrote:I'm sorry to hear about your wife, though. I'm sure she's glad she fell in battle for the good of all of Nirn instead of lazing around all day in Jorrvaskr.

It's how she wanted it, after all. We shall someday meet again on Hircine's hunting grounds.
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