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, August 26, 2005

Chapter 14: Power through money

I knew exactly what to spend my newfound fortune on. Better armour and weapons, of course, for one thing: anything to better protect myself from the wild animals apparently rife outside the towns, and from my enemies. The Dark Brotherhood sprang to mind: if the Hlaalu guards of Balmora were to be believed, I should expect more attempts on my life. Also though, apart from the obvious armaments, I wanted more spells. I knew only a few basic ones; there were many that would make my life much easier and safer if I could master them. Mages Guild members taught spells to anyone who could pay them for the service - even other members had to pay, albeit at a discount depending on their rank.

As soon as I arrived back in the Balmora guild via the Caldera guild guide, I went from one guild member to the next, learning as many useful-sounding spells as I could reasonably afford. Each mage there appeared to specialise in a different school of magic: the dunmer Marayn Dren being an exception, teaching spells from the Alteration, Destruction and Conjuration schools. He also had a vaguely disturbing selection of Illusion spells. The school of Illusion contained spells of mind control and invisibility. Mastery over the school of Illusion would enable one to manipulate others to such an extent that one could get almost anything he wanted. As such, Illusion spells were a magically-inclined thief's best friend. There was a reason why stories of the exploits of masters of the Illusion school were rare: those masters wanted it that way; and more importantly had the ability to ensure that that was the case.

As much as I wished it were otherwise, the school of Illusion was (for the most part) too difficult and expensive for me at that point. I did pay Marayn to teach me some Alteration spells, though: a water-breathing spell so I need never fear drowning again, and a spell to open locked objects. Marayn explained to me that the spell would open many things, but more intricate locks would prove too complicated for it. I solved this shortcoming in short order, with Estirdalin's help.

Estirdalin was an intimidating person. She had a subtly aggressive manner for one thing, and being a high elf (or 'altmer') meant that she towered over everyone else in the local guild. More unnerving though was her devotion to the Destruction school, and her natural power as a mage. She was powerful enough to be able to create custom spells for people: so with her help I adapted Marayn's opening spell into a new spell of such power that it could open virtually any lock in the land. I called it my 'Skeleton Key'. I would have to study the Alteration school extensively to be able to cast the spell reliably, and it would drain a large amount of magicka with each casting, but it would be worth it to have no lock stand in my way.

The orc healer Sharn gra-Muzgob unsurprisingly specialised in the college of Restoration. She dispelled any notion I had that healers were always caring people, looking at me as though she would have rather fed me poison than teach me magic. Restorative spells were far too important for me to be turned aside by the rough edges of a grumpy orc, though, and I came away with a spell called Balyna's Antidote. Sharn assured me (or rather, yelled at me) that it was potent enough to cure any poison I was likely to be inflicted with: magical or otherwise. Magical poisons from the school of Destruction could be very fast-acting, killing in seconds; so I was gladdened to discover that I could cast the spell with little difficulty.

My studies took all morning. Finally I approached the guild steward, Ranis, to see what spells she was able to teach me.

"None, I'm afraid. The guild does have a few rules, and one of them is that guild stewards are not permitted to teach spells to members below a particular rank." I must have looked disappointed, because she went on to say: "Do not worry; I have the feeling that the day that I can teach you spells will come before too long. Look, if you're still wanting to spread some of that money around in the name of studying magecraft, I'll tell you where to go." She led me outside, and pointed north, up the street outside the guild. "The Balmora Tribunal Temple is up that hill there." I had to take the dunmer's word for it: Balmora, like Caldera, was under a heavy fog that morning. "They have a good selection of defensive-minded spells. Ask them about their teleportation spells: when in trouble, the best defense is simply to not be there anymore."

I was still keenly interested in protecting myself, so I walked up the hill and climbed the steps to the Balmora Temple. On a stretch of flat ground above the steps was a children's playground. Children were running in and out of the temple to the playground. I knew instantly what I was looking at: it was like a memory from my childhood come back to life. They were orphans in the care of the Temple - just as I had been an orphan (inasmuch as I never knew my parents) in the care of the Imperial Cult. The only thing I knew about the Tribunal Temple was that it was the dominant native religion of Morrowind and the dunmer. I guess at that moment I also came to know that they did good works. I decided to ask inside if there was anything I could do to help the Temple: preferably the orphans.

All the priests and priestesses inside were dunmer, and I drew some curious stares when I asked who I should talk to if I wished to learn more about the Temple, and possibly even join their ranks. Apparently not many 'outlanders' wanted to join the Temple. I was directed to the Master of the Balmora Temple, Feldrelo Sadri, who was polite but not overly friendly. Before making me an Initiate of the Temple, she explained the basics of the Temple to me: the Tribunal was a trio of heroes who were once mortal but ascended to godhood an age ago. Their names were Almalexia, Sotha Sil and Vivec, and the Temple revolved around worshipping them and performing works in their name. Feldrelo told me that I was not permitted to perform any duties for the Temple until I had proven my devotion to them by undertaking the 'Pilgrimages of the Seven Graces': a pilgrimage to seven shrines scattered across the island. She gave me a book engraved with the title 'The Pilgrim's Path' that explained the pilgrimage, saying that it contained all the information I needed. It seemed like a strange way to induct and encourage someone who had asked to join so that they could aid the Temple. Perhaps it was because I was a Breton - an 'outlander' as I was often called by the natives.

After having me lay my hands on a three-sided, monolithic altar and saying a few words that I failed to catch, Feldrelo dismissed me, saying she was very busy. I was left to study magic with the other priests and priestesses, and in that regard I was very satisfied with what they had to offer. The first spell I learned was called 'The Rest of Saint Merris'. It would enable me to regain my breath and energy twice as fast as usual. I later found that with my magicka regenerating constantly, in favourable conditions I could run all day: I just had to cast Rest of Saint Merris every minute or so and I never lost my breath or became tired.

One of the priests told me that certain destructive spells attack a person's bodily attributes, making one too weak to move, or perhaps too stupid to dodge incoming blows. Conveniently enough she had a few spells from the college of Restoration she could teach me that could restore damaged bodily attributes. I obliged her and paid for tuition in the spells: the scenarios she described sounded worrisome to me.

Last of all I learnt the teleportation spells I had wanted from the start. Between them the priestesses were able to teach three teleportation spells: 'Mark', 'Recall' and 'Almsivi Intervention'. I realised that use of the latter one must have been how Ranis Athrys had escaped the attack by the Dark Brotherhood: Almsivi Intervention teleports the caster to the nearest Tribunal Temple.

By that time the day was drawing to a close, but I had one more stop to make before returning to the Mages Guild for the evening. At Meldor's Armoury I sold all my old armour and bought a full suit of Bonemold armour, handing over most of my remaining money. Once I strapped the armour on though, I could tell that it had been worth it. The muddy brown molded armour felt subtly spongy, but also very tough: a good balance between protection and flexibility.

Feeling safer and more at ease than I had since arriving on Vvardenfell, I made my way back to the Mages Guild.


Anonymous William Cahill said...

I like how Edward is not some macho warrior and a real, human (or Breton) guy who has to use intelligence to defeat his foes. Definitely some skills on your end, Joseph, hope you update more often with your yarn.

Friday, August 26, 2005 9:23:00 pm  
Anonymous Vic said...

Ah, finally some politics! I wish that you will underline the relations between the various factions of the rich world Ed is discovering.

(Keeps on reading)

Saturday, January 05, 2008 6:21:00 pm  

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