I've just cleared out Forelhost for the first time today, and as it was such an epic adventure, I thought I'd share my experience. This may not be a Milkman-standard blog, but I'll do my best.
I climbed a snowy mountain to the southeast of Riften, to see if there was anything worth searching up there. My compass said that there was a Nordic ruin there -- usually a good place to find treasure. So, I started up the mountain path, cutting down a few wolves on the way, and found the ruin: Forelhost.
As I approached, I saw that someone had made camp there. Upon closer inspection, he turned out to be an Altmer in Imperial armour, called Captain Valmir. As I walked up to his camp, he started a conversation with me.
"You there!" he told me. "As an officer in the Imperial Legion, I require your assistance to complete my mission!" He went on to explain that Forelhost was no ordinary ruin -- it was the last stronghold of the infamous Dragon Cult. Their leader's mask was supposed to be pretty powerful, and so General Tullius had sent Valmir to get the mask for the war effort.
He then offered me a job -- I would journey into Forelhost, get the mask, and bring it back to him. Sounded easy enough, and after all, I'd do anything to help a fellow Legionnaire.
So, Valmir headed back to his camp, and I set forth into the ruins of Forelhost.
Upon entering the ruins, I had to contend with the ghosts of several former cultists. There were a couple of Imperial corpses, and also, further on, a dead Stormcloak. Clearly, the Legion weren't the only ones looking for the mask. I ventured on, fighting through a few more cultists, and found what I was looking for -- Skorm Snow-Strider's journal.
The journal made grim reading. Way back in the First Era, Skorm's forces had assaulted Forelhost in order to kill the cultists there. After a long siege, they finally broke through, only to find that the cultists had taken their own lives and collapsed the stairway leading further into the monastery. They also poisoned the water supply, as some of Skorm's men learned the hard way. The key to the well was somewhere in the catacombs, apparently.
So, I pushed on, into the bowels of Forelhost.
After a long, hard slog through seemingly endless Draugr in the catacombs, I finally got the key. So I went back, unlocked the well, and proceeded downward.
Before long, I found a room that had clearly been used as an alchemy lab. There was nightshade and deathbell all over the place. I realised with a shudder that the alchemists must have been ordered to brew poisons in order to assist in the mass suicide. One alchemist objected in writing to Rahgot, who said that they would "talk" about her views. The arrow-ridden corpse nearby showed how that turned out.
Anyway, the rest of the dungeon was mostly nondescript. I finally found the room where Rahgot was buried. So followed an epic battle with the furious priest, that I finally won. I found what I had been looking for all this time -- Rahgot's mask. Feeling very pleased with myself, I hastened to return the mask to Valmir for my reward.
As I walked across the battlements outside Forelhost, I saw Valmir down below. Only here's the thing. He was in Stormcloak armour this time, and talking to a Stormcloak soldier! What was going on here?
My first thought was that I'd been set up -- that Valmir was a Stormcloak all along. I quickly dismissed this theory, however. I mean, come on -- an Altmer? In the Stormcloaks? I don't think so. Then, as I got closer, I heard Valmir giving the soldier the exact same speech he had given me. What the (insert Tamrielic equivalent of "fuck" here) was going on?
As I approached, Valmir stuttered, then snapped and attacked me, along with the Stormcloak. I killed them both easily, then found a very interesting note on Valmir's body.
It seems that Valmir wasn't with the Stormcloaks or the Imperials. He was working for someone else who wanted the mask, and was told to impersonate an officer to trick people into doing all the dangerous work for him.
After letting this sink in, I decided to keep Rahgot's mask as my reward. I certainly felt I deserved it more than whoever was waiting for it at Labyrinthian.
"Now, why did I come out here in the first place?" I mused. "Um... oh, yeah! I'm supposed to be meeting Brynjolf and Karliah at Nightingale Hall."
So I set off in that direction, leaving Forelhost, and all its dark secrets, behind me.