What Does Aryon Know About the Siege of Odirniran?

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:

  1. He was not aware of all the circumstances surrounding the Siege of Odirniran
  2. He was aware of the situation, but did not feel that the reason for the siege was important or worth mentioning
  3. 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.

Recursion in Alchemy

Apparently it is always pajama party time in Tel Vos or something. I don’t know why, but whenever I write the scripts for these comics, people end up in their pajamas. I guess it highlights the fact that Steen never leaves Tel Vos and basically lives there. Also, I thought it would be hilarious if Master Aryon wore one of those nightcaps that you always see in cartoons but nobody actually wears anymore.

Right. Recursive alchemy. We’ve all done it, just to see what would happen, of course. And we’ve all taken it to an extreme. By the end of my experiment, my intelligence was astronomically high, and the potions wouldn’t wear off for a kabillion hours or something like that. It was really more of a curse.

I made a strength potion, and it made me super strong! But I was so strong that as soon as I would strike a monster, my katana would break. The monster would die instantly, of course, but I’d have to repair the katana. And as soon as I’d repaired it, some other monster would come by, and bam! One strike later, my trusty katana would be broken again. I was so strong, I could no longer meaningfully interact with objects hewn by mere mortals!

I made a levitation potion. But I would levitate so fast, that gently moving forward would launch me on a complete circuit of the planet in a second. So I couldn’t really move or go anywhere, there was no finesse or control.

I made a personality potion. But then everybody loved me, even bandits, and nobody would ever attack me for any reason so it was very boring. I’d go into some dungeon and all the ne’er-do-wells would look up in glee at my arrival. “Oh my gosh, it’s Steen! Oh wow, she is soooo cool, I want to hang out with her!” Come on, you can’t attack people after that!

Pretty much most of the potions I tried were disasters. But it struck me that shooting your intellect into the stratosphere – shattering your mind by forcing the transcendent awareness of a god into your puny mortal meat brain – sounded like a very Telvanni thing to do.