I’m still surprised at how effectively Master Aryon managed to forge me into a weapon which only he can yield. I’ve only just recently realized, for example, how much dialog Gothren has for stalling over his decision on naming you Hortator. I never even spoke to Gothren to see if maybe he would consider naming me Hortator of House Telvanni – Aryon told me that I should kill Gothren, so I did, and didn’t even try to find a way out of it.
Usually when I get those sorts of quests, I investigate every angle to try and find any way possible out of killing a character. But not when Aryon gives me those quests. Apparently. Even though Aryon was absolutely correct in this particular case, it is still surprising that I charged in so devoutly and unquestioningly.
I’ve also recently learned that Aryon’s description of the Siege of Odirniran was not exactly the full picture. Aryon informed me that Odirniran was under siege by House Hlaalu and that we needed to assist Mylin Faram, the lord of Odirniran, in repelling the siege. He explained that, for the vision of a stronger and more unified House Telvanni, we needed to send all the houses the message that you could not simply lay siege to a Telvanni tower without dire consequences. If I were to slay the Hlaalu forces, then even minor Telvanni nobles would be safer from the rival houses.
So of course I went straight to Odirniran and slew the Hlaalu forces to a man. It seemed slightly strange that the Hlaalu troops putting Odirniran to siege all appeared to be under-equipped irregulars, but I had never encountered a Hlaalu fighting force so it didn’t give me too much pause.
Not until much later did I learn (via reading about some tangentially related Hlaalu stuff online) that Mylin had actually kidnapped a Hlaalu noble and had her imprisoned in Odirniran to perform experiments on her. Her sisters raised a fighting force to rescue her and bring her back home. This is then the objective of your quest should you join House Hlaalu.
I’ll admit I was a bit shocked by this revelation. If you play House Telvanni, you never hear a peep about any of this. And, honestly, I might not have done the quest (or at least would not have slain every standing Hlaalu in the tower) if I had known. We have three possible reasons for why Aryon did not divulge this information:
- He was not aware of all the circumstances surrounding the Siege of Odirniran
- He was aware of the situation, but did not feel that the reason for the siege was important or worth mentioning
- He was aware of the situation, and deliberately withheld most of the information in order to manipulate me
I’m going to come right out and say that I think #1 is very unlikely. I seriously doubt that Aryon was unaware of the cause for the siege. It is possible, but it doesn’t quite fit his character.
#2 seems like it could be very likely. Aryon’s retainers and servants all speak of him as being very brilliant, but spacey and not very grounded. That’s why they’re there, to take care of mundane matters, freeing him to pursue his lofty and unfettered creativity. This is also strongly suggested by the fate of his foreman working in the lower levels of Tel Vos whilst Aryon was growing his tower. Aryon’s tower kept growing roots deeper and deeper, destroying the construction below about as fast as it was built, and his foreman complained about how Aryon up in his lofty tower didn’t seem to think it was important enough to mention or worry about. Aryon’s further magical experimentation (apparently?) also opened some kind of portal under the tower, which ultimately resulted in daedra being released and killing many of the men his foreman hired. So I can definitely see Aryon being well aware of the kidnapping, and not really thinking that it was important. Indeed, he might not have even thought I’d care to know why he ordered me to Odirniran. My briefing was certainly brief.
#3 also seems pretty likely, alas. I can just as easily see Aryon being fully aware of the situation in Odirniran, and suspecting that if he gave me all the information I might not follow so willingly. He may or may not have even been sympathetic to the Hlaalu involved, but ultimately he decided that the good of House Telvanni was more important than anything else here. He has his vision for a stronger House Telvanni, and that starts with presenting Telvanni as a unified force whose nobles will not fall to siege or invasion by rival houses. If the situation could have been identified earlier, before it came to the siege, perhaps he would have asked me to negotiate the release of the Hlaalu noble. His dealings with the Ashlanders in particular make me believe he would have done this. However, the situation had already spiraled out of hand. Odirniran was under siege, and at that point wrong or right didn’t matter anymore. If the Hlaalu successfully broke the siege, then the might and prestige of Telvanni everywhere would be weakened. Young nobles from rival houses looking to make a name for themselves would be much more likely to consider Telvanni strongholds as targets. And therefore he chose to keep key details to himself, to ensure that I would not hesitate or question my orders.
It is interesting to think about, and certainly gives Master Aryon another dimension that I hadn’t seen before. He’s usually so open, honest, and supportive. And I do still think he is all of those things. Most of the time. But he’s also always pragmatic.
Not much has changed in light of these revelations: I’m still ferociously loyal to Aryon. I kill at a word from him, I would die for him, and would follow him to Oblivion and back. And I still live in Tel Vos and keep all my junk on his floor, even though I actually have my own tower. That’s just how it is!
I guess the Steen and Aryon relationship is some kind of strange mix between “Todd and Bojack” / “Childermass and Norrell. ” Yeah, that sounds about right.