I am interrupting my treatment of the Thieves’ Guild questline in order to provide an update on one of the Daedric quests that has been a real thorn in my side: Boethiah’s Calling. In my first post on this quest, I declared that I would not complete the quest unless I found a follower who deserved to be sacrificed – a condition I did not expect the game to meet. While some of the available followers inhabit a moral grey zone (e.g. Janessa), no one outside of the Dark Brotherhood really deserved to be deceived and murdered, and I could not justify joining the Brotherhood (and committing the prerequisite murders) just to sacrifice one of them. Therefore, I resigned myself to leaving the quest incomplete (since there is no failure condition) for the remainder of the game.
The Dragonborn DLC, however, provided exactly the kind of follower I was looking for. Most of the Dunmer NPCs I met in Skyrim were either enemies or grim figures who, while perhaps on my side of the moral spectrum, were nevertheless prone to a kind of nihilistic cynicism. My visits to Solstheim fleshed out my picture of the Dunmer, but still, I became accustomed to their overall lack of transcendent idealism. Therefore, when I first met Ralis at the beginning of Unearthed, I felt comfortable funding his excavation project in spite of his obvious avarice and the distinct possibility that he was skimming off the top; after all, even if he was bilking me out of my gold, he was spending it in an economically depressed area and providing jobs for the locals with money that I would never miss: I was carrying about 120,000 gold at this point and had far more than that in loot at home.
As the quest haltingly progressed through its stages, I became more concerned about Ralis’s seeming lack of regard for the safety of the miners, but I had little choice other than to provide more funds for the project. By the final stage, I was in for 11,000 gold, but at least a half-dozen miners and guards had died at the hands of the draugr they awakened. Of course, when I returned to the project site, saw the additional carnage, and read Ralis’s journals, I realized that Ralis had been slowly possessed by the Dragon Priest Ahzidal. The truly unnerving part for me was that, unlike other similar possessions in the game, I had actually been speaking with Ralis as he slowly succumbed to Ahzidal’s influence; I had assumed he was just a sociopath.
After defeating the resurrected Ahzidal, I was able to speak with the now clear-headed Ralis about what happened. Although his memory was clouded by the experience, he was aware that he had killed several of the miners himself as part of the resurrection ritual. The fact that he was possessed would have exonerated him as far as I was concerned, but he completely failed to show any remorse; instead, he seemed far more interested in making sure that no one ever found out:
Tamriel is a hard place, and people sometimes commit great
acts of evil. Some characters, such as Erandur, are willing to do penance for their crimes, and should be permitted to do
so in peace. Others, such as Sinding and
Ralis, lack the appropriate moral horror that should accompany their misdeeds,
and therefore deserve punishment commensurate to their sins. Therefore, the question was not whether I
would kill Ralis, but whether I would execute him directly then and there, or
gain his trust, then sacrifice him at the Saracellum of Boethiah. I chose the latter:
|If you choose the dialogue option "I can't let you go unpunished," Ralis flips out, claims that Ahzidal will "command us all" and attacks. So, you can have a sociopath for a follower, or defend yourself from a raving lunatic.|
- As much as I dislike doing the will of a Daedra, killing someone I would have killed anyway hardly seems like an act of devotion.
- I also dislike deception, but given the fact that Ralis himself deceived the miners, and that, as a Dunmer, most likely worshiped Boethiah anyway, leading him to sacrifice feels like poetic justice.
- Furthermore, my reward was to hunt down a gang of bandits and kill their leader in order to obtain the Daedric artifact (the Ebony Mail) he was wearing – something I would gladly have done anyway.