The walls of Matasten are impressive, but serve as no barrier to the paths of the treeborn. We crossed the water by canoe in the middle of the night, then climbed into the canopy and waited. Nothing stirred to greet us so we moved through the trees until we sat above the walls where we could watch the streets below.
This place is rank with Daedric power. There is a scent here, like a stain on the city, one that only the reek of human sacrifice can produce. The streets themselves are crowded, the buildings in different states of disrepair. This was a majestic city once, but the Daedra have let it slide into something less. There wasn’t a lot of movement when we arrived, though the torches of guards on patrol could be seen bobbing about across the expanse of the city.
It easily covers a few square miles, the dark silhouettes spilling out from its center as if poured into a pan. The trees within the walls are sparse, and the spires near the center of Matasten soar to twice their height. They feel as tall as the Crystal Spires of Sterling, though I doubt it possible.
We dropped to the far side of the wall near one of the two insertion points marked on my small map of the city. The safe house was marked with a symbol I only recognized because I held it in my hand as well, reproduced on Salisir’s letter. We knocked as loudly as we dared, the darkened street as black as any avenue through the jungle. The stars were an unfamiliar addition, lending drama to the jagged edges lining the low houses running in either direction.
Finally an old woman opened the door to us and, after a few quietly whispered words, permitted us inside. She is not our contact, though she has been expecting us for some time. She told us that she would bring her to us, and left as soon as she had settled us in with some tea and dried meat.
Waiting in that dark little hovel, the oppressive weight of Daedric Society upon us, it was an anxious few hours to say the least. Wudan took the brunt of it the worst, his sensitivity even higher than our own in its raw state. Dionus kept him close, arm over his shoulder as he leaned in for comfort. There is a corruption in the Atmosphere here. It’s tainted just to the touch, which makes me wonder what it will feel like to draw upon it.
The woman that came back with our host was lean and, though she didn’t look particularly unhealthy, showed signs of great stress. She showed us the route by which she plans to take us to the palace at the center of the city. We are to stay at a safe house a few blocks from it at the end of a long parade ground, enabling us to strike immediately when the opportunity presents itself.
Getting there, she said, will be the most challenging part. All of the Daedra have been withdrawn into the city. There is to be a massive sacrifice in the coming days which they believe will enact the ascension of a Demon. That is what they’ve been waiting for this entire time, and once it has come to pass they will launch an assault with the intent of finishing off the Nantese resistance.
The palace grounds are thus filled with Daedra. The whole city, she said, is as full as it has ever been. She will do her best to move us first thing in the morning. There are underground tunnels that pass beneath our destination, but the entrance is almost a mile closer to the palace from here. As long as we cover ourselves properly, we should draw no attention. There is a curfew, and the guards tend to harass people at random, so we will move early and break up in pairs to hopefully pass unnoted. I should try to get some sleep before the attempt.