Frost in Morrowind

Edward Frost's time in Morrowind has come to an end; but his struggles are recorded here for any to read. A year in the making, and spanning one hundred and fifty chapters… Violence, suspicion, loss, betrayal, revenge, power with a price, a fight for survival, ages-old mysteries... all thrust in the way of Edward Frost, a man simply trying to rebuild his life.

Chapter 1 can be found here.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Chapter 2: Bones

At the tradehouse mentioned by Sellus Gravius I bought some new clothes: cheap and rough, but better than my threadbare prison rags by a long way. At the sight of a squat brown crab the height of a large dog trundling along the shore outside the tradehouse, sifting through the muddy sand with huge, powerful-looking pincers, I also bought some armour and a weapon. I traded in the silverware I had stolen from the Census and Excise building for these armaments, but truth be told Arille, the owner of the tradehouse, didn't have the greatest selection. I didn't fancy myself as strong enough to wear the likes of full plate armour, and couldn't afford it even then. The lighter armour available, such as the leather or dirty white chiton armour (as Arille told me it was called) looked too flimsy to afford much protection at all. I needed something in between, but all Arille had was an old chainmail cuirass and a chain coif. I wasn't complaining too much: my first day out of prison and I was wearing chainmail - however old and rusted it may be. I rounded out my outfit with several pieces of the chiton armour, because it was cheap, at the least.

With some bread, crab meat and bottles of water bought from the small bar in the tradehouse, I took my purchases outside and sat in the shade near the shore, keeping a wary eye on the mudcrab I had seen earlier. The crab meat I was eating tasted extraordinarily good, and I don't think it was only my half-starved state that informed my opinion of it. On a full stomach the mudcrabs meandering about Seyda Neen's shore didn't look nearly as formidable as they had earlier, and I resolved to hunt some that afternoon - both to get some exercise and practice with a blade, and to secure some more food for myself.

Finding a secluded spot along the shore just outside of Seyda Neen, I stripped off my prison rags and had the first decent wash I'd had in a long time, out in the salt water. Donning my new armour and readying the iron saber I had just bought, I set off to spend the afternoon hunting mudcrabs. It's true I was no fighter - and I received more than one nasty nip on the legs from the pincers of those huge crabs. The bleeding and bruising was easily stopped with my healing spell though, and I procured a fair amount of meat (which I packed in salt found on the rocks on the shore) by the time dusk fell.

During the afternoon I had come upon a small stone shack separated from the main village by a shallow inlet. It was still within sight of the village, and when I made to knock on the door, one of the town guard called across to me:

"Stop! Don't go in there - that's a necromancer's house!" He gestured frantically for me to come over to him, and so I did, curious to hear more. He admitted that the necromancer had recently been driven out by a passing paladin, and I gathered from him that no-one had been game to go anywhere near the house since; even to burn it down. Upon hearing that nothing had emerged from the house since that time either - and not knowing anything about the undead - I decided to return later to spend the night in the necromancer's house. It may sound like I was trying to prove something, but in truth I just needed a place to sleep.

In the moonlight the shack did look somewhat menacing: inky darkness in the empty windows. I slowly pushed the door open and let the flaming branch I was carrying lead the way into the house. I almost lost my nerve altogether when I saw the first set of remains: a skeleton reclining on the bed, its head hanging over the side. Head turned towards the door as it was, its empty eye sockets seemed to be watching for someone to enter the shack. I had never seen this sort of death before: the abandoned remains of a thing - a person - who could have once held a conversation with me. There were more, too: entire skeletons, piles of bones, skulls arranged in rows on the shelves. After I got over the initial shock I was glad of my fortitude, as there was some good salvage to be found among the bones (and luckily nothing more grisly than bones).

Eventually I got over my fear enough to be able to drag the skeleton from the bed and place it in a corner, as gently as I could. I did not intend to share the bed with a rotting skeleton. The day's exertions thankfully made me drift off to sleep quickly, and soon I was dreaming... Until I was woken by a loud scraping noise. It was coming from the corner in which I had dumped the skeleton, now pitch black since I had tossed the burning branch into the water near the shack. My breath caught in my chest when the skeleton stood up, its upper body silhouetted by the moonlight from the window. It turned to face me, and stared for a long time. I thought I could see a faint light in each of its eye sockets, and they seemed to bore into me, filling my vision. I was frozen in place I was so terrified. I could not move, even when the thing shuffled over to the side of the bed and bent in close, raising a skeletal hand. It slowly reached out for my face, finally prodding it with an icy fingerbone, then running its freezing grasp lightly across my forehead. Even had I felt capable of movement, I doubt I would have dared to. My relief was unmeasurable when the skeleton, apparently satisfied, abruptly withdrew its hand, and shuffled slowly back to the corner I had originally left it in. I swear I heard it sigh before it collapsed with a resounding crash to the floor.

Needless to say perhaps, I did not sleep at all for the rest of the night, but lay there, heart pounding, shivering despite the muggy heat of the swamp. I would have bolted from the place immediately, but the noisy collapse of the skeleton appeared to wake the rest of the shack's occupants. I was surrounded until dawn by the sound of bones scraping against each other, and the skulls grinding against the wooden shelves as they spun in place to murmur quietly to each other. One skeleton paced the length of the shack for what seemed like hours, never taking its "eyes" off me. As the first reflected light of dawn reached the interior of the necromancer's house, the unintelligible conversation of the skulls died out, and the pacing skeleton took a seat at the shack's small dinner table, where it fell still.

A moment later I was sprinting from the house, clutching my sack with the old weapons and rare alchemical ingredients I had salvaged from the place. I began the day with strong drink at the tradehouse.


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