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 12, 2005

Chapter 8: Magery and collapse

During my day-long walk from Seyda Neen to Balmora I also stopped in at the Moonmoth Fort just east of Balmora; again hoping to replace my pieces of weak chiton armour with something more substantial. Again I was disappointed by the poor selection. It seemed I would need to locate a shop dedicated to selling armour to find something worthwhile. Before leaving the fort I bought some restorative potions from the Imperial Cult healer, who asked if I belonged to the Cult (it is common practice to offer discounts to members). I showed her my membership papers, the ink still actively bleeding and spreading through the parchment in places, and told her I had in fact joined in the Pelagiad fort that morning. Being more alert than the staff in the sleepy village of Pelagiad, she had also spotted my interest in the armour and weapons for sale at the fort, and asked if I was interested in serving the Cult in an "active" capacity.

"Active?" I frowned.

"A Shrine Sergeant." She explained. "They basically take on any tasks required by the Cult that may involve danger of some kind. Escorting missionaries through the wilderness, investigating threats against the Cult, scouting unsettled areas for possible places to establish new missions; there is a lot of variety in the job. We also always need more laymen to assist our healers, and almoners of course." She directed me to the Imperial Cult Mission in Ebonheart, at the far south of the island, where these jobs are apparently co-ordinated. The life of an almoner sounded extraordinarily dreary and thankless: no-one likes being approached to donate money. I didn't fancy being on the receiving end of such ire on a daily basis, but the duties of a shrine sergeant sounded interesting, and working with an experienced healer could only aid my own restoration skills. I decided that the next time I was in Ebonheart, a visit to the Imperial Cult mission was in order.

I thanked the healer and continued on. My journey for that day was nearly over: I just had to walk down a lane and cross a bridge over the Odai River, and I was there.

It was raining in Balmora when I arrived. Night was falling too, and from my vantage point on a bridge at its southern edge, the city stretched away into the gloom. Balmora is apparently the second largest city on the island, and it certainly felt that way as I hurriedly stopped into a few of the shops near the southern gate: the shops there had a much better selection than the small villages I'd seen so far. My problem at that moment was that I simply didn't have the money to buy the equipment I needed. I bought a bedroll, a proper pack to replace the old sack I had been carrying things in, and a single piece of 'bonemold' armour, which I'd noticed all the guards there wearing. Right then at least my left shoulder felt better protected. Only my left shoulder though...

I sighed - I suddenly felt very vulnerable. My little adventures over the last few days had brought me close to death numerous times. I was still too weak from my stay in a prison cell. My healing spell was the only thing that had kept me alive since I arrived, and right then I could tell that my magicka reserves were almost all gone. After the long walk that day, and the (at best) broken sleep of the previous two nights, I was exhausted. The rain and dark were closing in, and I realised how foolish I had been up to that point - how many risks I had taken. I wasn't ready for anything there on Vvardenfell - it's too wild and dangerous. I told myself I'd get my strength back before venturing off the beaten path again - or walking the dark alleyways at night. Right then I wanted to get indoors, and the shops were all closing up for the night.

Squinting through the rain and the encroaching night, I spotted a familiar sight: a sign with the symbol of the Mages Guild. Growing up, I had passed the Mages Guild in the Imperial city numerous times on my nighttime 'excursions', and they were usually up at all hours of the night. Hoping the local branch here shared similar tendencies, I went inside and found myself staring into the eyes of a severe-looking female dark elf. "Uh... hello!" I said hopefully. Unblinking, she held my gaze and leaned in very close - our noses almost touching. I couldn't look away, and her eyes began to glow brilliantly. After a moment she leant back and asked: "Do you want to join the Mages Guild, Breton?"

I blinked. It felt as if she had extracted some information directly from my mind. On the other hand, the red eyes of the dark elves can appear to glow strangely in certain light. It may be that she was simply trying to work out from my face if I was Breton or Imperial. People of my race generally have a greater affinity with magic than Imperials, but Breton and Imperial individuals are often confused by the other races. I suppose we do share more of a likeness than, say, an orc does with a high elf.

The dunmer female at the door turned out to Ranis Athrys, the steward of the Balmora Mages Guild branch. I introduced myself and told her that I would very much like to join the guild. The Mages Guild in the Imperial city I mentioned before had been home to a few kindly mages (and a few not-so-kindly ones) who dedicated some of their spare time to teaching me a few spells. I knew that without those spells I would not have been alive that day. The sheer utility of magic had always impressed me greatly, and I only knew a select few minor spells. Anyway, despite having taken some measure of pity on the orphan child I was, the mages at the Imperial city guild had never spoken about me joining their ranks, and so when Ranis asked I jumped at the opportunity.

"Good. I'll introduce you to the regulars in the morning." Looking down at my gaunt body, my dirty clothes and armour, haphazardly patched and mended, she went on: "Feel free to stay here if you need to: there are bunks downstairs. A lot of members tend to stay on so late studying that they find it easier to sleep here on many nights than to go home." I was so grateful for her simple kindness I couldn't put it into words. Instead I knelt at her feet, took her thin hand and kissed it, before pressing it briefly against my forehead. It was the greatest gesture of respect I could muster, and one that causes me some embarrassment to recall now.

"Yes, yes. Come on." Ranis withdrew her hand and started down some stairs, into the dim underground rooms of the guild. Upon following her I found that most lights in the place had been doused for the night, with only a couple of mages still awake to give me a nod in passing. The steward led me to some bunks in a screened-off section of the main hall, and waited for me to take a seat on a free bed before whispering: "I will talk to you in the morning."

With that she was gone, and I collapsed immediately into the first decent sleep I had had since arriving on Vvardenfell.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The pictures are too dark.

Sunday, August 14, 2005 6:38:00 am  
Blogger Joseph said...

Hello - thanks for reading.

Apologies if the pictures are too dark on your computer. I use a utility called Quickgamma ( to match my monitor as closely as possible to the recommended Windows gamma of 2.2 (standard for Windows, the Internet and digital photos). Try it out if you're interested.

I deliberately tweak the brightness (up or down) in the screenshots to try and evoke a particular atmosphere. If a lot of people find them too dark, let me know and I'll brighten them.


Sunday, August 14, 2005 12:33:00 pm  

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