A Thousand Words

The miscellaneous quest A Thousand Words can be started by speaking to an Altmer named Halcar, who is located in Solitude’s Radiant Raiment. Halcar will tell you that he is waiting for his assistant, who was supposed to return with the final piece in a series of paintings by Ester Maroux. Maroux, an artist and a writer of Dwarvern stories, painted a series of pictures to take the place of a novel. The seven paintings are said to be her greatest work.

The enthused high elf explains that he is currently in possession of the first six of the seven paintings, and that he recently purchased the last one from the Silver Bloods in Markarth. His assistant, unfortunately, has yet to return with the painting.

Thus it is left to the player to track down Halcar’s missing assistant, as well as the whereabouts of the painting. Head to the Silver Blood Inn in Markarth, and talk to a Redguard named Primlei. She reveals that the painting is dangerous, that it is cursed- whoever looks at it, dies mysteriously a few days later. The woman also inadvertently discloses the location of the painting- The Treasury House.

The painting is in the safe behind the gate, both of which have expert level locks. If not already completed, The Forsworn Conspiracy provides an excellent distraction when done in conjunction with this quest- one which leaves the player free to pick the locks with a relatively minimal chance of detection. In any case, grab the painting. The Player will then be teleported into what appears to be a room of a house, one that is filled with dead bodies- and one live one; Ester Maroux.

The writer explains that there is no ending because the best ending, according to her, is the absence of one. Once, Maroux tells the player, she sought the perfect ending. When the words eluded her she tried to tell her story with pictures, once again failing to create what she sees as a perfect ending. It was then she met a man, a wanderer with a dog. She asked the wanderer for the perfect ending. This man -also known as the Daedric Lord Clavicus Vile- reveled in the irony of perfection being its own disappointment, and thus the current arrangement was struck;Clavicus provided Maroux with the perfect ending, but in exchange she would become the painting’s guardian, offering all who were teleported to its depths a certain choice. In this way, the author explains, Clavicus kept his end of the bargain- he provided the painting with the perfect ending; only to have none of its owners ever see it.

Maroux then gives the Dovahkiin two options; they can either fight her or they can take the painting behind them, which Maroux says is drivel, the worst kind of ending.

If the player chooses to fight and kill Ester, they will be teleported back to The Treasury House Return to Halcar and watch as he derives his own interpretation of the work -which is of deathbells. Before he can explain what the ending is, though, he dies, completing the quest.

If the player chooses to take the painting, they will be teleported back to The Treasury House. Return to Halcar and watch as he derives his own interpretation of the work -which depicts a dunmer woman- which he declares to be a satire of written work. He thanks the player, completing the quest and rewarding them with one of Maroux earlier works, a book by the name of A Winter Siren, Volume I.

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