The others catch up and praise me as a genius for figuring out that the fox, moth and dragon symbols on the claw correlated to the fox, moth and dragon symbols above the claw-shaped hole. Please, friends, this is what I do.
Through the door, a side corridor lined with swinging blades leads to a temptingly large chest. I'll take those odds. It's actually an easy sprint, and the chest is full of magical armour I can't use but can sell. It's all going excellently until I turn around.
Belrand, with his puppydog enthusiasm and John Malkovich face, has followed me into the corridor. Belrand is not adept at avoiding swinging blades. And swinging blades, importantly, are not adept at recognising when an enemy has surrendered.
In combat, Belrand can only be knocked down: enemies will leave an incapacitated foe alone to focus on upright people like me. So physical traps are one of the few ways he can completely and permanently die. This is about 0.3 seconds away from being very, very bad.
There's a lever next to the chest. I don't know what it does. I pull it. The blades stop.
Belrand trots cheerfully through and stares at me with his fixed, thin smile, as if to say "What?"
Recognising my talent for doing obvious things, Rikke sends me to find a way to open a gate. There's a switch. I pull the switch. I am the brains of the operation.
There are no Stormcloaks this deep into the ruin—the symbols-door stumped them completely, it seems. But in this room, there are Draugr. Nordic zombies . They climb out of their stone beds and come at our party from all sides, and like all undead, they're completely immune to my Illusions.
All I can do is Courage my friends, but just as I buff the last one, he drops down dead. Um, that wasn't me. Another is killed before the fight's over, but Belrand, as usual, is fine. On to the final chamber.
The Jagged Crown is in the middle of this room. The only trouble is, it's on someone's head. A Draugr Scourge sits slouched on the throne, and I have a feeling he's going to—yep, he gets up. So do about five lesser zombies.
The fight gets nasty. I can avoid being attacked directly, but the Scourge can hit almost all of us with a shout attack. By the time the lesser Draugr are dead, so is every Imperial soldier except Rikke, and I'm low on health. Rikke goes down, but not out—I Courage her back on her feet, and she goes at the Scourge with renewed vigor.
Her assault knocks him down to his hands and knees, and Belrand brings his huge axe down on him. It's over.
Rikke asks me to take the crown back to Solitude, so I dutifully loot it off the Scourge's wrinkled head, and Belrand and I head back up the surface, feeling guilty about all her brave, dead comrades.
Next: first horse to Whiterun.