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.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Chapter 3: Death in the caves

After the harrowing night I had endured, I took great comfort in becoming involved in a conversation over breakfast in Arille's Tradehose with a tall, golden skinned Altmer woman named Eldafire. She told me a little about the area surrounding Seyda Neen, a place called "The Bitter Coast". One piece of information that particularly stayed with me was the prevalence of smuggling all up and down the coast here. She told me that there was actually a smuggler's cave just outside Seyda Neen.

I'm not sure why I felt such a need to dash off and investigate this cave. Perhaps it was the lure of more "salvage". After talking to a few of Seyda Neen's denizens, the attitude of local society towards criminals became quite clear. Stealing from bandits, smugglers and the like - alive or dead - would not be viewed as theft at all. With this in mind I went downstairs and traded in the things I had managed to bring away from the necromancer's shack for a large pouch of septims and an offensive spell. It was called "Frostbite" and seemed appropriate considering my own name.

The smuggler's cave Eldafire had told me about was very near to Seyda Neen indeed; almost in view of the silt strider stop-off point on the edge of the village. The silt strider is without a doubt the largest creature I had ever seen: tall as a two-storey building, a rough, bug-like carapace perched atop six spindly legs. This one stood in the shallow salt water surrounding the village, swaying slowly back and forth, occasionally sending out a low, piercing moan. I had been hearing that sound all through the previous day and had been wondering what it was: evidently the creature's cry travels a good long way. I was amazed to learn that the dark elves (or "dunmer" to use their proper name) native to Morrowind had long tamed the silt striders and used them as local transport. They were apparently much more at ease striding up and down the riverbeds of Vvardenfell, their feet in the silt: hence their name.

As fascinating as the creature was, I turned my attention back to the smuggler's cave. The local guards cannot be the most enthusiastic bunch around: first the necromancer's shack, and now this; the cave was not hidden in any way - it had an actual door set in the side of a rocky hill. Both within earshot of the village proper. I pressed my ear against the door, but not being able to hear anything, drew a deep breath and slipped in quickly, my saber drawn. Once my eyes adjusted I noticed light coming from behind some rocks: a small campfire. I tried to get a better look without revealing myself, but a woman by the fire had been alerted by the cave door opening, and spotted me immediately. With a shout she sprang to her feet and ran at me, grasping a dagger. I called out to her to stop, but as she came closer I observed an unnatural, disturbing smile on her lips and a faraway look in her staring eyes. She was obviously not in her right mind.

She had a dagger made of chiton; looking like it had been broken off a particularly large and predatory insect. Weak and brittle as chiton is, I discovered that it is still razor sharp. She attempted to plunge the dagger into my chest; the chainmail cuirass I wore caught it before it went too deep, but she still gouged out a painful wound. With a cry of pain, anger and fright, I shoved her away and swung my saber over my head and down into her shoulder, again and again. I found it difficult to force myself to strike her as hard as I could. I had never killed or even wounded someone before that day, and the thought of it bothered me. More than that, actually: it terrified me. On my final swing, the saber cut into her neck. She gasped, fell back against the cave wall and sunk to the ground. For the first time, she seemed to actually see me. Her unnatural smile melted and she began to cry, slumped and bleeding against the cave wall. I looked away, down at my own body. The woman had stabbed me numerous times as I had been raising the saber above my head, leaving my body unprotected. My legs, especially, were bleeding heavily - I had not been able to buy any armour to cover them. My own blood was collecting in my boots.

My legs shaking, I tried to sit down, but they buckled beneath me and I, too, collapsed to the cold ground. I rolled painfully onto my side and vomited onto the cave floor, the shaking spreading through my whole body. Sensing that at the rate I was bleeding I did not have long left, I forced myself to concentrate on my healing spell, a blue glow forming around my hands. I pressed my palms against my chest and the blue glow seeped through the chainmail and into my skin. Almost instantly I felt better: physically better, at least. The healing magic closed all my wounds and made my body reproduce blood quickly to compensate for that lost; all in a matter of seconds. The woman who had attacked me was dead. I got back to my feet, unable to take my eyes off her. Now that she was still I could see something sparkling around her mouth and on her chin. Blood and tears had run across most of her face and dissolved most of it, but there were crystalline specks collected around her mouth, as if she had been eating sugar out of her hands like a small child.

I didn't want to look at her anymore, and I certainly didn't want to face anyone in the village right then, so I continued deeper into the caves. There were more smugglers in the caves: a robed wizard and a fast-moving woman in leather armour. They both attacked without hesitation as soon as they saw me. I don't know whether they were simply that suspicious of strangers in their "hideout" that they would do such a thing, or whether they simply noticed that I was covered in blood and put two and two together. I count myself as extremely lucky that I encountered the two remaining smugglers separately: with the wizard attacking me on his own, I was able to sidestep his spells. He repeatedly cast the same spell, definitely a quite destructive one judging by the red glow and red heat it gave off as it streaked towards me. Eventually the wizard either became too frustrated or expended his reserves of magicka - as I had hoped he would - and he drew a dagger and charged at me, snarling. He fell relatively easily to a couple of slashes across his chest: he was not wearing any armour under his robes.

The female smuggler in the leather armour fell upon me just as I struck the killing blow to the wizard. She stood at the top of some steep, jury-rigged wooden steps, and I at the bottom. She was holding something small in her hand, and flicked it at me as I turned to face her. It struck me in the shoulder, catching in my chainmail. I pulled it out: a flat, spiked throwing star - a cheap one made of chiton. Thinking about how the wizard could probably have easily killed me had he immediately rushed me with his spells, I shoved my saber into its scabbard and charged up the stairs, keeping as low as I could. The woman backed away from the head of the stairs, no doubt hoping to catch me unawares as I reached the top. I focused the energies of my new Frostbite spell into my hands and found as I leapt over the top of the steps that she had done exactly as I had hoped: backed herself into a wall. I grasped her by each shoulder, hooking my thumbs under her arms, and pinned her against the cave wall. She screamed out as the aching cold of the spell passed straight through her armour and into her body, cracking and burning her skin, and almost freezing her blood. The next thing I knew the woman had effectively thrown me off by violently thrusting a knee into my groin, and I again found myself extremely sorry that - excepting some cheap chiton boots - I had not been able to find any armour for my lower body.

The remainder of the fight saw me alternating between swinging the saber with my right hand and trying to plant either my Frostbite spell on her body or my healing spell on my own with my left hand. It was a desperate fight, and the thought that this woman could have easily killed me several times over had it not been for my healing spell was a sobering one. I had eventually won by planting a Frostbite spell directly on the centre of her chest, stopping her heart. At least, I assumed that's what happened. I do not care to relate the particulars of her death; it was just too horrible.

I washed the blood from myself and my clothes in a deep pool of water I found at a low point in the caves, then set about searching the place for valuables.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey man great story im on like chapter 52 or somthing

but i was wonderin that if i gave you the credit for writing this, if i could post this in the forums at
that i started
that way we can tell everyone what morrowind is

thanx in advanced if yes, if no then thanx for writing the story its great

Monday, January 23, 2006 9:44:00 am  

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