J’Zhirr is taken aback to see a skeleton lying on the ground. There is a note beside the skeleton and it reads:
They warned me not to go through that portal. What did I have to be scared of? I been adventuring for years, and I never seen nothing that I couldn’t wallop. But this place…
Ain’t nothing living here. Just dead things up and about when they should be in the ground. I can hear their bones scratching at the rocks and knocking together when they walk. If I home, I’ll hang up my sword and never go out again…
Looks like this poor adventurer never made it home.
J’Zhirr tries to enter the Soul Cairn but there seems to be an invisible wall barring his way. Not only that, this one hears the crackling of electricity accompanied by a sensation of pain. He quickly backs out of the portal.
J’Zhirr asks Serana if she knows what happened. After thinking about it, she says, “The Soul Cairn is… well, hungry, for lack of a better word. It’s trying to take your life essence as a payment.”
Serana proposes two solutions. One is to turn into a vampire as vampires are not counted among the living. Another is to give up J’Zhirr’s soul as payment for the “toll”. Serana says, “My mother taught me a trick or two. I could partially soul trap you, and offer that gem to the Ideal Masters. It might be enough to satisfy them. It would make you a bit weaker when we travel through the Soul Cairn, but we might be able to fix that once we’re inside. Maybe.”
Neither option sounds good.
It works! The circle on the floor opens up after Serana adds her blood to the ingredients.
J’Zhirr wonders what Serana will do if we find her mother. It turns out, Serana is asking herself the same thing. She says of her mother, “She always seemed happy, before we heard the prophecy. Then it all changed. She become a different person. They both did.”
This one guesses that we will never know why Serana’s mother did the things she did until we find her.
Serana says we will need a sample of her mother’s blood. However, with her mother being in the Soul Cairn, it seems impossible to obtain her blood. J’Zhirr suggests that since Serana shares her mother’s blood, we can substitute her mother’s blood with hers.
Serana says, “Hmmm. Not bad. We’d better hope that’s good enough. Mistakes with these kind of portals can be… gruesome.”
With that warning in mind, J’Zhirr combed the laboratory for the ingredients. Luckily Serana’s mother kept a sample of all the ingredients (except the blood) in the laboratory. It’s almost as if she kept them for Serana to follow her.
J’Zhirr finds the journal next to the ruined books on the bookcase. In the journal, Serana’s mother wrote about her research on creating a portal to the Soul Cairn for a lengthy exile. It seems that is probably where Serana’s mother had gone.
J’Zhirr shows Serana the journal and ask her what is a Soul Cairn. Serana says her mother thinks that’s where the souls inside the soul gems end up when they’re used. She says, “The Soul Cairn is home to very powerful beings. Necromancers send them souls, and receive powers of their own in return. My mother spent a lot of time trying to contact them directly, to travel to the Soul Cairn itself.”
Serana thinks the circle in the center of the room is the portal. Luckily her mother listed the ingredients she used so we can recreate her formula. There’s one hiccup though. Her mother used her own blood as part of the formula.
Serana has no idea that her mother’s laboratory existed. She says, “She had an alchemy setup in her drawing room, but nothing that even comes close to what’s here. Looking at the equipment and materials, it looks like she was trying to advance her necromancy.”
J’Zhirr wonders why and Serana admits that she doesn’t know. She says, “Certainly not longevity. Kind of a waste of time for a vampire.”