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Three of the ships headed towards the south of Solstheim while one headed towards the north of Raven Rock and the last remained on standby at the sea.
Each of the Dare Fleet ships was uniquely designed to fulfill a certain purpose. While they were all considered warships, the Imperial Laws were clear about who can own this class of fighting vessels and so the Dare Dragon Trading Company had a few ways to evade those laws.
While they were famously known to use no sails and have most of their hulls made of metal, the ships were remodeled lately to be ambiguous regarding how armed they are. Their weapon systems would be easily removed and installed to make all ships look like they are used for general transportation purposes.
The Imperial Authority dispatched many investigators last year in order to keep the Dare Fleet in check while issuing some absurd penalties over certain classes of weaponry on deck.
The engineers of the Dare Fleet met those demands with an incredible level of ingenuity as all the weapons were scrapped and then remodeled to fit all ships before getting stored away. Once needed, those weapons couldn't just be swapped and placed, Jon made sure that these weapons can be teleported through a highly advanced teleportation array on each ship.
On paper, the Dare Fleet has no teeth whatsoever. In action, every ship in the Dare Fleet can be considered a mini-destroyer on its own and can fight in all ranges with high mobility and transportation ability.
However, seeing one of those things up close was like seeing the sphinx, it is not as big as you would expect but it is still impressive. That was the impression felt by the Redoran guards as they were ready to meet the Dare Troopers on the shore north of Raven Rock.
There were some customs to an army walking past a land out of their jurisdiction that they aren't meaning to conquer. They can move with their gear but without their weapons. All of the weapons were loaded on carts and started being transported outside Raven Rock while the Dare Troopers marched in groups outside the city under the watch of the Redoran guards and Councilor Morvayn.
A few individuals were exceptions to the said laws, these were Jon, Alina, Wulfur, Jullanar, as well as some senior officers of the Dare Corps.
Jon had to be at the forefront of his men leading them while Alina headed out to meet the Councilor of Raven Rock.
"Thane of Winterhold and High Priestess of Kyne, Lady Alina Dare." A flag-bearing Herald announced.
"Lady Alina. I trust that Thane Jon isn't planning to meet us any time soon. We're no longer in his class, are we?" Councilor Morvayn spoke as he jumped off his guar.
"It seems that he is. Everyone now is calling him a Grand Thane and the first thing he does is to send his own wife as an envoy." Alina replied.
Councilor Morvayn looked at Alina and frowned before realizing that she was jesting and laughed awkwardly.
"I was slow to take on. But a Grand Thane? That's a new one." The Councilor said.
"A week hasn't passed before all the Jarls named him that at their peace moot." Alina replied, "And how is your wife, Lord?"
"She bids you peace, my Lady." Councilor Morvayn said before going right into the main subject, "The force you have landed on our island today is a breach of the contract struck with the Great House Redoran on trading. This many men is twice the limit we allow."
"We have ten times the permissible amount this time. We are willing to pay the penalties." Alina replied and as she pointed to the side, two Dare Troopers loaded off a large chest and opened it.
It was the largest pile of gold Councilor Morvayn had seen in his long Dunmer life and his town runs an Ebony mine. This is twice the amount of money Raven Rock made annually in its glory days.
"That is… enticing." Councilor Morvayn said, "I'm afraid I can't take that without a reason."
Alina snapped her fingers for the Troopers and this time, three more chests were loaded off.
"Lady Alina, more money isn't…" Councilor Morvayn had to take in a cold breath of air as he tried to push away the enormous wealth of the Dares but as the chests were opened.
"Mephala!" The Councilor's face went pale.
Two of the large chests had around four corpses each, the other one had living people in it.
These people were bound in chains, dragged out, and out at the feet of the Councilor.
"These men came from Solstheim to Winterhold and aimed to wreak havoc in our beloved city to cause enough distraction and assassinate the Dragonborn." Alina said.
Hearing that, Councilor Morvayn and his assistants went from paled to disturbed.
"That can't be." He denied immediately, "Raven Rock is a small settlement and aside from us, there are only the Telvannis and the Skaal living on Solstheim. We do not identify any of those people."
The matter seemed serious and the Councilor didn't like where this was going.
"I knew you would say that." Alina said and ordered the guards to remove the gags from the cultists.
"… Our eyes once were blinded… Now through him do we see… Our hands once were idle… Now through them does he speak… And when the world shall listen… And when the world shall see… And when the world remembers… That world will cease to be."
The Cultists kept chanting and chanting as they faced a certain direction in land. Without realizing it, the Councilor was already frigid with fear as he heard what he heard.
"Familiar, right?" Alina asked.
Councilor Morvayn looked at Alina with a shaken expression.
"Are exactly the same thing chanted by the people who work the stones over there." Alina pointed to the stone spire far towards the city.
"Let one go." She said to the Trooper.
The Trooper let go of the chains of one cultist and he stood up and started walking.
Seeing the charmed man walk like he was possessed, Alina walked after him a fair distance followed by the Councilor and their escorts.
Where they arrived was the site of the Earth Stone right to the north of Raven Rock. The closer they got to the stone, the more difficult it seemed for the Councilor and his escorts as well as some of the Troopers to even advance.
Just there, they saw a man standing tall and watching the Earth Stone from a distance.
"Husband." Alina called the man.
"That's the safest distance from the influence of the stone." Jon said as he turned around and walked ahead, "Further than that, those with lesser resistance to this kind of mind tricks shall be enthralled, Councilor Morvayn."
"Lord Jon." Councilor Morvayn barely stood right as he watched the Earth Stone and then turned to Jon, "What is happening?"
"Wasn't this what you planned? You wanted to make us land at the northern shores to solve your problems for you." Jon said.
"I… I did… but I don't understand." Councilor Morvayn said as he looked at the stone, "I can't seem to have any single thought that is going right in my head."
"That's because of the stone. It is causing mental waves to jam the signals of the brain." Jon said.
"Councilor, have you ever heard of the name Miraak?" Alina asked.
"Do I?" The Councilor felt the name was something he was surely aware of but no matter how he tries to focus, it slips off his mind, "What a strange thing. It sounds so familiar, and yet I cannot place the name anywhere in my memories."
"What is the first image that comes to mind when you think about the name Miraak?" Jon asked.
"I'm not even sure... I can picture a temple here in Solstheim. Must've been a bad dream." The Councilor replied.
"I'm sorry, Councilor. It is a memory, not a dream." Jon said.
"A memory…" Councilor Morvayn turned to Jon and he was already sweating so badly that he looked as if he just dipped himself into the sea.
"None of the people working the Earth Stone are aware of anything. Their minds aren't theirs anymore. You can guess that on your own. Anyone who gets closer is endangered. The Magic holding those people all here isn't strong enough though, it can't control more people than it currently has but gradually and with time, it is getting stronger."
"Are you saying I was once… enthralled like those people." Councilor Morvayn asked.
"Yes." Jon nodded.
"But… I don't remember… Nobody remembers such a thing." The Councilor made a strong tone as he said to the man questioning his sanity.
"It controls minds as you can see, altering memories isn't anything impressive past that point of mastery, Councilor." Alina said.
The Councilor and his aids were beyond shocked. Some outright denied it, some stood frozen, and some kept a clear mind and started calculating their next steps.
"Impossible…" Councilor Morvayn said in outright denial, "This is utter madness."
"I agree." Jon said and pointed to the people gathered by the Earth Stone, "And we are witnessing it first hand."
It can't be ignored, seeing these mysterious events unfold in front of their eyes, feeling these strange mind influences, and having memories of places they never knew.
It all proved Jon's point.
"And what should we do?" Councilor Morvayn asked, "I've sent messengers to House Redoran and…"
He seemed desperate and befuddled at the same time before turning to his second, Adril Arano.
"Did I even send a messenger?" He asked.
"Yes, Councilor." Adril Arano seemed distressed but he answered to the best of his ability, "I believe I have sent two messengers this week alone."
"It is not wise to question our actions and be unsure of what we have done, Councilor." Jon spoke, "I have brought 500 men with me and I intend to drive out this evil with numbers." Jon approached Councilor Morvayn and put his hand on the elf's shoulder.
"And what sort of evil are we talking about?" The Councilor asked.
"Our initial investigation led us to a man who lived in Solstheim hundreds of years ago and his name is Miraak. After careful investigation, we found that Miraak is a servant of the Daedric Prince of Knowledge." Jon offered Councilor Morvayn the information.
"Hermaeus Mora." Councilor Morvayn concluded by himself.
"Then we're all on the same page." Jon said.
Councilor Morvayn had an idea he wanted to try with Jon Dare and he made him land on the northern shores near the Earth Stone. However, he had no idea Jon's knowledge of their situation was at this level.
He remembers sending many messengers to seek advice on the situation from House Redoran. As a Council Member of the house, he has enough influence for that.
Still, it seemed that the only one that managed to make it to Solstheim is Jon Dare. The authority of House Redoran and the stability of Solstheim are now at risk not only from the danger rising from within but with the one coming to deal with it from without.
It is basically a war they were dragged into as it happens on their own land.
But there's little to no choice here. Councilor Morvayn has to seek help from the only help that came.
"What… should we do?" He asked.
"Quarantine your settlement. Set up checkpoints and rotate the guards to prevent them from falling to the enemy. Accepting visitors from outside is fine since it seems that the evil within isn't trying to attract outside attention… Well, except my attention at least." Jon said before thinking deeply, "And make sure that your temple is in on this. You need a lot of help from your Good Daedra. You can mention my name, I'm a good friend."
And that's how Jon started to operate in Raven Rock. Still, as he made alliances with the local authorities, the ally he was really looking forward to wasn't that far from here. Actually, he was standing closer to the Earth Stone than anyone else.
As the Councilor and his people moved away, Jon approached that man who was standing almost next to the Earth Stone.
"Am I supposed to call you Master Uncle or this title doesn't exist here?" Jon asked.
"And who are you?" The Dunmer man turned to Jon with a frown that seemed to be more like his natural way of looking at people.
"Jon Dare, a mage from Winterhold and the disciple of Nurina Aren who is the disciple of Alfe Fyr."
"Oh, Boethiah!" The man looked away and to Jon's surprise, his frown wasn't actually his natural mood.
"Something wrong?" Jon asked.
"Why am I always being put in the same class with a child like Nurina? I am a Telvanni Wizard, I'm older than 600 years old and I am being compared to the likes of that 200-year-old brat. You should call me Grandmaster then."
"My Grandmaster is Lord Fyr. He's over 4000 years old." Jon said.
"Blasted Fyr!" The man almost kicked the ground from rage, "And if I want to make myself a senior to Nurina, I'd have to compare myself to one of those Fyr clones. Why is my Fate so unfair?"
"I'm 21 years old by the way."
"…" The man looked at Jon and sighed as he fished out some candy from his pocket and gave it to Jon, "Just go away, infant."
Jon chuckled lightly as the man was someone he really wanted to meet.
It is none other than the Telvanni Wizard of Solstheim, Master Neloth.
A/n: Help me reach my Goal on P4treon & Join Discord! ➡️ https://linktr.ee/donovel or Google "Donovel Linktree'' ⬅️