Retaking the Pass [Quest]

Faction: Aldmeri Dominion
Province: Valenwood
Location: Greenshade
Required Level: 30

Text of the Quest:

An undead army surges through Driladan Pass and assaults Marbruk on the command of the Shade of Prince Naemon. I've been asked to rescue Mane Akkhuz-ri whose party was cut off somewhere within the Old Imperial Tunnel.

Bodring: It's ugly and getting uglier out here. As our living soldiers fall, the ranks of the dead swell. At this rate, we'll all be fighting for the other side by tomorrow's dawn. And that's not even the worst part.
Hero: What is the worst part?
Bodring: It's Prince Naemon. Poor old boy's been raised from the dead himself. But he's not himself... no trace of the hero Ayrenn says he was in life. He's pure evil now, and from what we can tell he's the one leading the undead army.
Hero: Why is he attacking here? lpr
Bodring: I haven't a clue ... and I don't have time to worry about it. We need to focus on the living, not the dead. Mane Akkhuz-ri and several soldiers are stranded in the old merchant tunnel up the northern path. Think you could get to them?
Hero: I think so. I can certainly try.
Bodring: If you see any soldiers in need, help them out. Any one who falls ... the Heritance will just raise them to fight against us. But the most important thing is getting to the Mane though. He dies here, that's one more blow to the Dominion.
Hero: Where is Prince Naemon now?
Bodring: I don't know. I haven't seen him myself, but I can't tell you how many soldiers have fled from the forest terrified and bewildered, mumbling to themselves about Naemon. To hear them tell it, the prince ... or whatever he's become ... is everywhere.
Hero: Who is raising your fallen soldiers as undead?
Bodring: Not long ago, I heard Naemon was leading them, then he died, and I heard that wasn't true, that he was a hero. Now, I don't know what in Oblivion to believe!
Hero: How did the Mane wind up getting stranded?
Bodring: After the death of the Silvenar, the Mane came to offer his condolences ... and his assistance to Valenwood. Then this mess started. He led a scouting patrol into the old merchant tunnels, but they got cut off. It's possible they've all been killed.

Mane Akkhuz-ri: The incessant clamor of the undead at the gate finally stops, and you come through the gate—it is a relief to finally see someone new from among the living. Is Akkhuz-ri correct in thinking you have come to our aid?
Hero: Yes. I’m here to help you get to safety.
Mane Akkhuz-ri: Good. Very good. The tunnel is cleared then, yes? Akkhuz-ri is eternally grateful. He can make it back to Marbruk and send reinforcements to hold the tunnel. The far greater concern is discovering what has prompted the undead to attack.
Hero: I was told Prince Naemon is leading the undead.
Mane Akkhuz-ri: Yes. This one saw the prince with his own eyes. He is no longer Naemon though—he has been raised and possessed by some darkness. Even so, Akkhuz-ri does not understand. The prince ordered his forces to attack, and then he disappeared.
Hero: Where did he go?
Mane Akkhuz-ri: No one knows, but if destroying Marbruk were his goal, you would expect the prince to remain, yes? No. The prince plans something else, and his plans must be uncovered. You are clearly capable. I think you should undertake this task.
Hero: All right. Where do I start?
Mane Akkhuz-ri: You must consult with Indaenir. He has already been considering this question. Akkhuz-ri must warn you—Indaenir is very strange, even for a Bosmer—but this one has never met an Elf with such understanding of nature. Come, let me introduce you.
Hero: All right. That makes sense.

Indaenir: I appreciate the Mane's sentiment... and the support of the Dominion, but ultimately, it falls on us to protect Valenwood. Since the Silvenar's death, I get the sense that Queen Ayrenn feels she owes us something, but we Bosmer are not helpless.
Hero: I'm sure it's not meant as an insult.
Indaenir: Of course not... and I am grateful for your assistance. It's true that I can't do this alone. I just think marching the entire army into the forest would be a mistake. Come though. We mustn't tarry. We must discover the Shade's true motivation.
Hero: By "the Shade", you mean Prince Naemon?
Indaenir: I don't think it's that simple. The Shade has assumed Naemon's form. It retains some of Naemon's memories, but it's a different entity now—with different motivations. The Shade is undead, so we must consult the dead to discern its intentions.
Hero: How do we do that?
Indaenir: Driladan Pass is old. Many Bosmer died here and some cannot be raised by any magic—they are the accursed souls who violated the Green Pact. Come with me and we will try to commune with them. Perhaps they will know what the Shade truly plans.
Hero: How did they violate the Green Pact?
Indaenir: Oh. There are many ways. Perhaps they cut down a tree or ate berries from the local plants. Sometimes their intentions were good, but Valenwood is unforgiving. If they violate the Pact, they cannot pass from this plane.
Hero: And they can't be raised as undead?
Indaenir: No. They are tethered to their remains and they cannot pass into death, nor can they return to life. Thus they remain witness to all that transpires among living and dead alike, but unable to participate. Come, let us see what they know of Naemon.
Hero: All right. Let's go then.

Indaenir: I think we're in luck. Though most of the local wildlife has fled from the undead, the torchbugs have remained. Many people do not know this, but torchbugs are among the most perceptive creatures in the forest. They're amazing.
Hero: And how will that help us?
Indaenir: I can ask one of them to lead you to the remains of the cursed dead. If you can find the skulls or some such—bring them to the Stone Table. I will go ahead and prepare so we can commune with them. Just trust me on this. It'll work. You'll see.
Hero: If you say so.

Indaenir: I suspected something like this. It explains what we've seen. The Shade of Naemon does not seek destruction—it seeks transformation. We need to close these shadow rifts quickly. First though, I promised their souls release.
Hero: You can actually release their souls?
Indaenir: Not easily, but I promised them. Since I will fulfill the sentence, I think you should decide whether any of them should be released.
Hero: I will talk to them.

Skull of Thraul: Fool, do you not see what's upon you? Look around, the Shadow will consume all Tamriel and usher in a new age—an age where the dead will be redeemed and the living will suffer.
Hero: Why was your soul trapped here?
Skull of Thraul: The other races laugh at us. Why do we depend on them for wood we could easily take for ourselves? The Green Pact is for the weak. We are not the servants of the forest. The Green should serve us!
Hero: Then you are rightly condemned and will remain here.

Skull of Ollion: It's odd to watch the slaughter of your people through the empty sockets of your own skull.
Hero: Why was your soul condemned?
Skull of Ollion: My family was slaughtered by the Wood Ores, and I burned down their village, every last structure, every last tree, for revenge. I shouldn't have harmed the forest. I should have rallied my people in a mourning war and feasted on my enemies.
Hero: You understand what you did wrong. You may pass on freely.

Skull of Ethril: We told you what you wished to know—little good that it will do you. But we were promised release. Please ... you must release me.
Hero: Why were you trapped here?
Skull of Ethril: I shifted, which is strictly forbidden by the Green Pact. I was cocky, did it to prove that I could, that's all. It was a mistake, I understand that now. Please, I've suffered enough.
Hero: All right, I release you.

Indaenir: Glad that's done. The pleading of the condemned is almost too much to bear. One way or another, they are returned to the Forest.
Hero: I did what I felt was right and just.
Indaenir: I won't question your judgment. Their fates are decided, but the fate of Valenwood is what concerns me. These shadow rifts the skulls mentioned—we must close them quickly. That's where the Shade's realm is bleeding into ours.
Hero: How do we close the shadow rifts?
Indaenir: I haven't quite figured that out. I can feel them, though. They feel like wounds in the forest. I have some small ability to mend the Green, but it requires all of me. I'm going to need your protection.
Hero: Let's see what we can do.

Indaenir: Whatfoul magic is this? This ... is this the Shadow Wood? It is. This is what the Shade seeks—to transform Valenwood into ... this. A realm of darkness and evil. It's inconceivable!
Hero: What should we do?
Indaenir: l-l do not know. I never imagined this realm would be so ... elaborate. How could he create this? Where does he get such power? We have to stop this—whatever it takes. Perhaps we can find the source of it. Yes. We must.
Hero: Where do you think the source would be?
Indaenir: Perhaps there is a gateway back to our realm, back to Valenwood ... some place where life and death intersect.... That's it! The Stone Table. I must go. I'll meet you there.
Hero: All right. I'll come right away.

Indaenir: It seems our circumstances are even worse than I imagined. The corruption of the Shadow Wood expands across the forest. I fear it's too late to contain it. We must find the Shade of Naemon himself, here on this plane, if we are to stop him.
Hero: Where do you think he might be?
Indaenir: I know not, but I certainly aim to find out. First though, you must report what we've learned to Marbruk. We need to at least keep them informed. Don't worry, when the time is right, the forest will help me find you again. Until then, be safe.
Hero: All right. I'm sure I'll see you again soon.
Bodring: I can't believe my eyes. The undead are actually receding. For a while there, I thought we were making a last stand here. I'm betting it wasn't our brilliant tactics that drove them away though. Conquering Marbruk wasn't their top priority, was it?
Hero: No. Naemon seeks to corrupt all of Valenwood.
Bodring: Then it's as the Mane suggested. Magical forces are at work here that we can't fight with sheer numbers. I shouldn't be surprised. I'm just glad we have you and Indaenir on our side to sort this out. Yes. I think maybe Y'ffre smiles on us after all.
Hero: Complete Quest.

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