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One 5.5[26]


"Clearly the mercenaries are here for more than one task." The BattleWizard indicated one of the 3Dmaps floating in the air. "The Necrotrine has to expand or be more easily crushed by the increasing power, and number, of forces being sent against it. The Imperial Tenth Legion, along with Auxiliaries and allies, is to the north of Vissernt attempting to reach the city along an Imperial Highway. The Imperial Third Legion, along with Auxiliaries and allies, is bogged down to the east of Vissernt."


Promagnis, the clone of Prograndis, frowned softly. "Something is wrong about how this war is being fought, something does not add up."


Gloridisha spoke. "Many factors do not add up, on the surface; battle maps do not show all the story. There has been wide spread treachery sabotaging the war effort of the Living Alliance. This has been political, economic, civil and military. There is also the drug substance that often come in strange bone-bottles. It is known as necroro and it makes skooma (drug made from moonsugar) seem like harmless candy in comparison when it comes to addiction and effects. It is causing great damage, across Tamriel, to those who would fight the living-dead."


Promagnis shook his head in wonder. "Prograndis did experiments with skooma, that I have memories of, and that means necroro is extremely deadly."


The BattleWizard frowned. "Even the Thieves Guild fights against the distribution, and use of, necroro. Stranger still, so does the Dark Brotherhood and the newer Assassins Guild."


The TriMarshal was there in the form of Aaron. He had attained much knowledge, by then, of Tamriel ways. "What elements are fighting against the sabotage?"


Gloridisha looked thoughtful. "We Blades, the Imperial Eye, the Imperial Hand, the Spies Guild, the Assassins Guild, the Dark Brotherhood, and a large number of other forces, many being of surprising nature. It is said that the illegal Necromancers Guild wages secret war against the living-dead as do darker Daedric Cults."


The unspoken question was clear; with so many forces against them, why was the Necrotrinia still surviving, still expanding? Was the answer to be found in Vissernt?


Aaron spoke out. "If they are heavily addicted by a monster drug, how many traitors to the living are actually traitors to the living and not just victims? On my world we fought a great, terrible war and one weapon used were the superdrugs designed to cause damage to enemy populations and to create drugged, slave soldiers of exotic nature. It would be useful to compare samples of superdrugs with samples of necroro for any scientific studies."


NexusOrb: "The TriMarshal is brilliant, is truly a genius! We will need at least one sample. Please hand them over and I will start the process. Of course it would be best if we work together on the project. I already have samples of five kinds of superdrugs from the world called Terra. I do not know how, or why, I gained the samples."


Gloridisha, and Promagnis, took out small bone-bottles with odd wood stoppers and put them into a metal tray that slid out of a wall and then slid back in again.

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One 6.1[27]

The real SageWizard Prograndis had been aware of what his clone had been, that is the one now called Promagnis, but that contact had been broken off when the clone had gone through a powerful, sophisticated, phase barrier of some kind. So he did not know what had then happened to the expeditionary group that he had tricked, including his beloved BattleWizard Gloridisha. In her case she knew he had to do such things, some times, but this made it no easier for either of them especially because they were secretly married.

He moved through the Vissernt Underways where the living-dead had not gone because it was Ayleid designed and built. There was something about the glowing illuminations, the building materials, that the dead flesh living could not handle. Instead such areas were patrolled, in theory, by mercenaries. In theory because the mercenaries dared not go into some areas and lied about it to their masters.

Prograndis moved quickly, at a crouch, being followed by four hoblins. Hoblins were generally friendly cousins of goblins, being defensive aggressive only. Their coloration was different and less bleak. Like the SageWizard they wore leather armor but in the case of Prograndis this was a form of solid illusion.

Beneath the city of Vissernt was the remains of a very ancient Ayleid city that was very important to the Kingdom of Kingdoms. It was there that the PriestKings stored their most dangerous, and powerful, secrets along with others that they had come upon. A minority of them were so dangerous that even the Ayleid dared not use them. Why had the Mer not destroyed them; the theory was that they did not have the capacity to do so, so powerful were artifacts and other secrets.

Around a corner the three went and then they were facing a small group of freedom fighters. There were four humans, two half-orcs and one human-Mer hybrid (Humeri). One human was a woman who radiated a sense of great confidence, subtle power and other potent abilities. She was giving the SageWizard a frosty look.


Jadekia spoke. "Where have you been? I 'sense' great danger. We must get moving."


Prograndis smile-frowned. "I found it, a copy of the Gwapaedia map of part of the underways."


At that the Eternal Champion nodded. "Then you are forgiven for your tardiness. Look here at something that might interest you very much."


Freedom-fighters carefully uncovered the very long dead remains of a human but it was strange in more than one way. It had exotic devices showing attached to visible bones, it was wearing a kind of jumpsuit and on it was a most curious emblem along with words of a language not used in Tamriel.


"So our fears continue to be proven as true. The damned Umbrella Corporation had people here in Vissernt but how long ago?" He took out a small vial from a pocket, took out the stopper, gently scattered the substance over some exposed bones of the body and recited some magical words. The words meant nothing but he wanted to keep up appearances. There was a flash of light and he studied the color shown, the shading of that reddish color. "I calculate, roughly, that he died back in the last century of the Kingdom of Kingdoms. The cause of death is unclear but was violent. Where did you get him from?"

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One 6.2[28]


The big chamber's contents were in surprisingly good condition despite the many centuries it had been both sealed up and hidden. Long dead Umbrella Corporation (UmbCorp) cyborgs were heaped in one corner. There was an amazing mixture of Terran hitech items such as computers, 3Dprojectors, autorifles and much else. The stuff was modern enough to have been made just a few years ago on Terra as advanced tech. The same was true of the cyborgs and their cybernetic tech.


There were also Ayleid devices and dead Ayleid mages, artisans and alchemists in the robes of their people and showing symbols of their castes.


Then there were some hybrid tech clearly made from combined influences from both Terra and the Ayleid.


Yet the most exotic device there was clearly not Terran or Ayleid or a mixture of either. It was a disturbing thing that floated just above the surface of a big, wide, workbench top as if it was sitting on solid flooring. It was two grey glimmering mist filled crystal spheres, they being exactly a metre wide and semitransparent, with a grey metallic cube between them. All of these were on a rectangular base that they were melded to.


Prograndis scowled. "Necromer! Our worst fears are perhaps confirmed."


The Eternal Champion shrugged. "Perhaps not our worst fears but the involvement of Necromer technologies in what has taken place is of great concern. They could have done far too many evil deeds with a CroNecroUorb but the creation of new forms of microscopic lifeforms would be a very likely one."


Prograndis nodded. "Did these Umbrella Corporation people end up in the deep past of Tamriel by mistake or was it a deliberate move?"


Jadekia snorted softly. "I suggest it might have been a mixture of both. Foolish plans were made but then went wrong; these UmbCorp people ended up going back further in time than the corporation intended. In a similar fashion you were sent right back to the start of Tamriellan History."


Yes, the creation of Earthriel, and then the interference in that creation, had led to all kinds of odd results. One had been groups, and individuals, being scattered across the previous history of Earthriel-Tamriel. The SageWizards had been a team of Terran specialists who had been sent early onto the developing Tamriel to find out what was happening. The result was they had ended up back at the start of Tamriellan History.

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One 6.3[29]

They found other hidden chambers linked to the one with the Necromer created CroNecroUorb. One was filled with spare equipment and supplies of both Ayleid and Terran kinds. Another was a dormitory complete with antechambers that were a kitchen, two toiletrooms and a bathroom.


The other chambers held horrors and discoveries of dark nature!


There were enclosed tanks of strange liquids that held suspended bodies. Some were human, others partly human and living-dead and yet others were of the living-dead. These filled half of a large chamber, another quarter being filled with bizarre machinery that kept the hundred tanks functioning. The entities were in status of some kind.


Another big room held exotic machinery and carefully stored bone-bottles of necroro in huge racks rising up to the ceiling that was quite high above.


There was a chamber that was a crazy mixture of workshop, laboratory, storage, meeting and other areas. Along one wall were big diagrams and drawings showing possible developments of dead flesh living creatures. Some were very much like those existing and the rest were not like them at all. As the group studied the wall, Prograndis was not the only one deeply concerned by what they saw there.


Jadekia pointed to a monstrous dragon like thing that was quite huge. "As big as many of the true dragons of ancient Tamriellan Legends." Then she indicated bizarre, heavy bone armor enclosed, creatures able to swim because they were protected. "Designed to survive water, even salt water, while attacking vessels with great barb-spears."


There were many but Prograndis pointed to the most disturbing for it was outwardly a normal human but was inwardly of the living-dead. "Such Necrotrinia agents could infiltrate into the Empire and if they have human kinds why not Mer or orcs or goblins or others?"


Jadekia sighed heavily. "This could help explain what is happening with the war effort against the Necrotrinia. The question is how do we get the proof to where it is needed?"


That was when, with a sparkling shimmer, a small copperish orb appeared on the floor with a black button on top. The Eternal Champion gave an odd smile. "Balancing and rebalancing; the Lord-Ladies of the Way. If they are intervening then it can only mean that very powerful, dangerous, forces have been causing deep unbalances. Now we have a greater chance of defeating that dark intervention."

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One 7.1[30]


SageWizard Morphiary strode along a big glowcrystal cave tunnel, his two steelgolems following behind. He could 'sense' that danger was quite close but he could not work out just how close or in what direction it was coming from. He had overlooked something vital, he knew it, but his thoughts had been getting increasingly clouded and he was becoming sicker of body.


He halted and drank some water from a metal spigot in the side of one of the golems. Then he took out a bone-bottle of necroro and took a very small sip with a shudder of revulsion. With a shaking hand he returned the terrible drug substance to the pouch it had come from.


His thoughts became coldly clearer, his body gain painful strength and his spirit become somehow weaker. The SageWizard cursed his illness, that he had brought to himself when he had experimented with necroro and had then drank his own version of it. His normal survival smarts had been missing in those days, almost as if he had been under some kind of powerful subtle influence. Had he been? It would account for much that he had done in those days in a secret, long abandoned, underground complex not too far from the city of Bruma. He regretted most of what he had done, then and there.


As for the Necrotrinia, they had existed before the unwise, greedy, Vissernt Guild had started openly manufacturing such as fleshgolems and secretly processing bone-bottles of necroro. The Vissernt Guild, the City Council, and other human VIPs had not known that secret manufacturing was also going on of other living-dead things; there was also the fact that for every bone-bottle, of necroro, they knew of being produced that two more were being made in secret.


On the First Night of Terror the corrupt, foolish, leadership of Vissernt were taken completely by surprise.


Morphiary had come to question his past assumptions of his own superior nature, of his infallibility. He was beginning to feel horribly humble, ashamed and very stupid. He had gone through such times before, though with less intensity, only to go back to his bad old ways. This time, though, he knew he was going to change for good.


Which was when the closest steelgolem, that was living-dead inside, cut his head off with the swing motion of a retractable blade sliding out of one of its massive steel palms. The dead body of the SageWizard, headless, crumpled to the floor and the head rolled away. But then both body, and head, vanished with a soft sparkling shimmer.

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One 8.1[31]


A soft shiver went through the FEAR SanctumOrb as expansions, and other transformations, continued to happen. The contents of the chambers, in the Vissernt Underways, were now in a special sealed off section of the SanctumOrb and divided into chambers like those they had been in originally.


The real Prograndis was rubbing cheek as slapped hard by his BattleWizard wife, Gloridisha. She had now forgiven him. Truth was she had suspected that the clone was not really her husband but felt the need to 'keep him in check' now and then. Then she kissed, and hugged, him.


Prograndis, and many others, had been transported to the SanctumOrb but not the Eternal Champion Jadekia; she had gone elsewhere. SageWizard Morphia had come seemingly out of nowhere.


SageWizard Morphia lay in a special capsule full of both him and shimmering energies. He had returned to life for he was blessed, and cursed, with never being able to stay dead or trapped alive. In this he was the same as all of the SageLords, in their various castes. All of them had been mere mortals, Terran humans, before they were hurled into the time space vortex that was the creation of Earthriel-Tamriel. All SageLords had been such mortal humans but not all such mortal humans had become SageLords.


Prograndis shook his head. "We can now have a far greater chance of discovering the truth behind the dead flesh living and the rise of Necrotrinia."


There was another shivering, along with a shimmering, through the SanctumOrb.


NexusOrb: "We have now 1,267 hoblins, ratlins and other such creatures in life supportive compression energy storage. Did you really need to save so many sewer rats, crabs and such like?"


Prograndis smiled. "Life preserved against the growing Necrotrinia is important. Anyway much of such life remains still below the city of Vissernt safe, so far, in the Ayleid Networks. We need a special chamber of at least double normal Tamriel time to do research in of the items we gained from the secret chambers in Vissernt."


NexusOrb: "That will not be possible for some five days, at least, considering present demands on the SanctumOrb."


The BattleWizard slipped a glowing crystal orb out of an odd looking metallic pouch. The crystal orb glowed translucently gold. "How about an Aldmer golden energy-crystal-orb from the original Mer people to live in Tamriel? Fully charged, of course. I kept it for a rainy day."


NexusOrb: "Will do nicely, thank you!"


The extremely rare, and valuable, kind of device vanished with a sparkling shimmer. At once there was a series of shimmers, and shivers, that went through the SanctumOrb as the massive charge of extra electricity was used by the SanctumOrb.

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One 8.2[32]


The research, into the items brought from beneath Vissernt, brought generally good results. That is it brought better understanding of the living-dead and even some ideas of how to better deal with them as a threat. Yet is also failed to answer all questions, created more questions and revealed some threats to be further feared.


Copies of the diagrams, and pictures, of possible kinds of dead fleshing living were projected into the air. Gloridisha indicated the bizarre aquatic thing enclosed in its armored shell. "Two trader-ships sank, with out good explanation, in the Anvil Harbor about a week ago. Something smashed, and ripped, into their wooden hulls. Two lives were lost along with much valuable cargo and, of course, two valuable sailships."


Then she indicated the dead flesh living disguised as, sheltered as, copies of humans and other humanoids. "Put clothes on them, give them the right gear and if intelligent enough they could infiltrate the Empire, and other parts of Tamriel. This would be especially true if nobody knew there was such a threat. Their outer bodies could conceal them in many ways, perhaps even from such as dogs and magic."


TriMarshal Aaron spoke out. "What about living-dead disguised as steelgolems?"


Gloridisha gave the clone a sharp look. "That is a horrible but likely possibility. It could explain much that is happening in the Empire to hamper the war effort against the Necrotrinia. Steelgolems could be normally dependable but go suddenly on the rampage or just do moments of death and destruction with out being suspected afterwards."


There were other terrible possible threats to be found in all of that information.


A question that remained unanswered was why had the secret chambers been abandoned as they seemingly had been?

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One 8.3[33]


The mercenaries, traitors to the living, sent messages to the FEAR Troopers as best they could and they were of great interest; for the mercenaries wished to form an alliance against the Necrotrinia.


A Necrotrine General, a wizard and a sage-scribe met with Aasta, and Gloridisha, in a very small clearing close to the big clearing. It was the hulking general, infamous for his deeds even before he began to serve the Necrotrinia, who spoke as he stood there in his Legionary like steel armor. "We mercenaries, the majority of us, have never been willing traitors to the living. They do not have much to offer any mercenaries, have always treated us like expendable scum and gained our services by addicting us to necroro. We were betrayed by one of great power in the Empire but you may not believe it when you give his identity."


Gloridisha gained a look of disgust. "The Imperial Prince Jarderis Septum, second oldest son to Uriel Septum VII and Empress Maidia Septum. We have suspected him for a very long time."


The general snorted. "No, not him! Everybody suspects him because he is an arrogant, aggressive fool who assumes he should already be on the throne as Emperor. No, it is an illegitimate son, named Abrurial Handson, of the Emperor. Or at least we assumed he was the main person until we discovered that the real culprit is the youngest of the Emperor's four sons, being the only one who was born to the current Empress. Except that we found that Caprista Uriel is the puppet of his mother, the Empress, who is the great traitor to the living."


Gloridisha, who was hard to surprise, looked shocked. "I have never had much respect for the Empress but I had not thought her evil enough to betray the Empire, let alone the living. She is too vain about her looks and is for ever complaining about getting weak. Perhaps some kind of offer of immortality might get her interested in betraying her own people."


The mercenary general shrugged. "We want freedom, or death. Necroro can help certain kinds of evil magic control people. We wish our freedom from addiction to necroro, to its terrible side effects and from the controlling influence, of a mysterious evil enemy, that comes with it. When we were ordered to come here, we decided to take this chance to gain freedom so we killed a few of our own and then headed here as ordered to."


Which was when the fighting began amongst the mercenaries.


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One 8.4[34]


Necrotrine fought Necrotrine. Steelgolems smashed against each other, most being of 'orthodox' type but the others having living-dead entities inside them. Mercenaries clashed with magical swords, battle-axes and other weapons. Fake humans, and others, with the dead flesh living, were attacking with berserker fury.


It was hard to observe just what was taking place, so confusing and crowded was the violence.


FEAR snipers took down enemy after enemy with sniper-rifles; standard for the fake humanoids and specials for the steelgolems. 20mm shells ripped into the infiltrator steelgolems, destroying the living-dead inside them.


Even as this happened, mercenaries were being taken into the SanctumOrb to start cleansing-healing treatments that would see them transformed even from the beings that they used to be.


Night was falling, the darkness growing stronger, as enemies began to arrive from the outside. Urgazyles came down through the air, the first to arrive, as magical arrows rose to hit them.


Necroro gave its addicts greater ability to function in darkness even as it made them more vulnerable to sunlight. Necroro was like the Terran superdrugs that it was partly based on but also was like many ancient magical serums of much potency. Yet mercenaries were falling along with the imposters.


The strange riding creatures turned out to be all hidden living-dead as they now attacked with barbs, horns, spine projectiles and even clawblade arms coming out of them. They swarmed towards their former riders, often cutting down puppet humanoids in their crazed actions. Heavy machineguns ripped into them with heavy calibre caseless cartridges and advanced rocket-grenades exploded amongst them, killing many.


The BattleWizard hurled jets of elemental energies that burned the urgazyles out of the sky. Around her were the other blades fighting hard but also new style FEAR Warriors, as they called themselves. The FEAR Warriors used elemental magical weapons, armor, and other devices with impressive ability.


The fighting was savage but then the last surviving mercenary was gone into the SanctumOrb and, moments later, so was the last of the others. Even the orthodox steelgolems had been brought in. Everything, everybody, was being heavily scanned.


The battle ended with increasing numbers of enemies seeking to fight a foe that was no longer there to engage with. They swarmed over the big clearing, and beyond it. They searched everything left behind by the mercenaries, including collapsed tents and broken wooden crates of supplies.


It was then that the elemental magical booby-traps exploded into action, along with those put there by FEAR, and great explosions of force, of burning light, of flames, of shrapnel, ripped through the living-dead army in the big clearing. Even low flying urgazyles were destroyed, they being burned away, shredded even as they hovered or glided.


The sight was seen from many kilometres away, in all directions, and the sounds of dying dead flesh living, also spread far and wide.

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One 9.1[35]


The Eternal Champion Jadekia thrust a spikeknife spikeblade into a necroman, a fake human with the living-dead inside a man's body, from behind. The necroman shuddered and died, dropping to the floor softly because Jadekia made sure that this happened. The necroman had been dressed as an Imperial Servitor helping to direct matters for the coming, overly lavish, birthday celebrations of the Empress. The Empire was fighting for its survival and the Empress was spending millions of Imperial Gold on her birthday.


Was the Empress only a fool or was she a high traitor to the living, to the Empire?


The Empress' palace was a big lavish appearing fortress a good distance from the Grand Imperial City, Imperiarna, but was still on the Imperial Inland Island of Imperiarta. It was mostly underground and far better a fortress than most would guess it to be; those, who knew better, classed it as one of the most strongest Imperial Fortresses to ever be built. Only the Imperial Grand Citadels were greater.


Jadekia moved along the service hallway, practical and well built but quite bare of decorations, checked things out, then dragged the dead body into an antechamber half empty except for some neatly stacked up, expensive, furniture. It was said that the Imperial Palaces each held fortunes in such things but while this was true, much was given away as gifts as time passed. On rare occasions there was the embarrassing incident of gifts being given to those who had gifted the items, to the Empire, in the first place. Soon the body was hidden behind the furniture.


So far she had encountered on five of the dead flesh living necromans, one being an orc and the others being human. The first two, that she met, attacked her on sight. They had been disguised as Imperial Servants, a lower caste to the Imperial Servitors but far more common. The others she had not given a chance to attack. The question was had the first two attacked her because she was the Eternal Champion or just because she was living?


Since she had appeared in that large utility area she had met no true living people. Where were they and just how much of the palace was like that?


Then she heard the unmistakeable sound of magical muskets being fired and the howling rage of huloms. Around a corner, of an intersection of hallways, came running two men and then a woman. They were disguised as Imperial Servants and were very much alive, as Jadekia 'sensed'. They clutched, each, two twin barreled musket-pistols but most of the musket balls had been fired off.


They saw Jadekia and then smiled in relief. She knew the three from working with the Imperial Hand, the nastier cousin to the Imperial Eye that was about secretly observing the Empire and gaining information of all kinds. They were assassins, special bodyguards and infiltrators of hard places to get into.


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