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, September 04, 2005

Chapter 18: When to hold a sword

After selling my 'loot' from the night before to Creeper, I used the proceeds to pay for some instruction in the fine art of holding a longsword by the proper end. The Redguard woman Rithleen was my instructor: one of the Blades trainers recommended by Caius. Her sessions usually last two hours, but I paid her enough to spend the entire day training me: I knew I was hopeless with a sword. We talked a little during the sparring sessions, my questions and comments usually spat out between ragged breaths; Rithleen would not let me use my 'Rest of St Merris' spell to keep myself from running out of breath, saying I had to learn to fight properly first. I was mostly curious about Caius, but she didn't have much to say about him, other than to assure me that he was genuine.

I felt more confident with my long bladed weapons by the end of the day, but I knew I would have to return for more instruction as soon as I had the money and the opportunity.

After dinner at the Mages Guild, I again packed my armour into the cabinet and donned my Pilgrim's Robe. It was dusk as I made my way over to Nalcarya's Apothecary. Habasi Sugar-Lips - who had turned out to be the head of the Thieves Guild in Balmora - had asked me to steal a diamond for her. 'Nalcarya of White Haven' as she was known, apparently had some.

My plan was to do just a few jobs for the Thieves Guild: enough to gain me the right (in their eyes) to do my own thing in their territory. I also wanted to do enough for them to grant me access to the services Habasi had spoken of. Should someone ever see me steal something, being rid of the bounty on my head that could result from such a thing - without involving the guards - would be very useful.

The theft of the diamonds was easy. At dusk, the gathering darkness granted me cover as I entered through the upstairs door; and since it was not yet late, Nalcarya was still downstairs in her store. Luck had a particularly dazzling smile for me that evening: in a small box on a high shelf I found three diamonds. Before visiting Habasi I sold two of the diamonds to Ajira. She actually gave me a good price for them: as it turned out, with my help she had won her bet with Galbedir and beaten the bosmer to the rank of Journeyman.

I was somewhat disappointed in my payment for delivering Habasi's diamond: an invisibility potion. While spells and potions of invisibility may sound good, they sputter out the instant you touch something: making them less than useful for thievery. The khajiit assured me that her next job for me would only take a small time to complete, and would pay much better than the first.

In short, she wanted the upstairs door key to Nerano manor: her suggestion being to get it from a servant who worked at the manor but spent his free hours at the Council Club: Sovor Trandel. Again, the job was easy. Sovor Trandel was deep in his cups when I walked into the Club, and even deeper in them after I paid him two hundred drakes for the key. I was glad to be out of the Council Club quickly: I had heard bad things about the place, and I certainly felt unwelcome there.

After the weak payment Habasi had given for my first job, I decided to have a look around the Nerano manor myself before handing the key over. I found a number of pieces of fine clothing in the manor bedrooms: some of it was more exquisite than anything I had ever even touched before. Clothes were all I came away with in the end. Back at the Mages Guild I sold most to Galbedir: enchanters made good use of fine clothes, as they could hold better enchantments than a simple peasant smock.

The most beautiful set of clothes I kept for myself: a robe, belt, pants and a shirt. I hid the robe away in the cabinet across from my bunk. There was no way I could wear something like that without raising suspicion: I would have to wait until I could justify owning something that expensive. The other items though I would wear under my armour or a common robe. The fine pants and shirt especially were so well-made, soft and durable that they would serve well as comfortable padding under my armour. Perhaps one day I could even get them enchanted.

Habasi paid me five hundred septims for the key: somewhat more in line with what I had been expecting. The next task she set for me would take more than an hour or two: a khajiit named Ra'Zhid had been expelled for stealing Dwemer artifacts from the guild. He was hiding out at 'Fatleg's Drop Off' in the Bitter Coast village of Hla Oad. Habasi wanted me to retrieve the dwarven goblet, bowl and tube he had stolen.

Everyone knew about the Dwemer: their huge, metallic ruins dotted the landscape over the entire Empire. No-one, however, knew what had happened to the dwemer race: the way history told it they somehow vanished all at once, thousands of years ago. There was a huge demand by collectors for the items found in the dwemer (or 'dwarven') ruins, and this was down to three things: (relative) rarity, craftsmanship and durability, and the danger involved in retrieving them from the ruins. The creaking metal monstrosities were apparently still patrolled by automated thinking machines. The Empire had laid claim to the trade of dwemer artifacts, prohibiting their sale by anyone else. This of course only increased their value on the black market. I was not overly keen to become involved in the smuggling of such bulky, distinctive items. I would leave it unless I found myself somewhere near Hla Oad.

By the time I went to bed I was exhausted, but as fate would have it I was in for another night of disturbed sleep. I'm not sure what it was that woke me: at first I thought I was dreaming of the Dark Brotherhood assassin again - that his eyepieces were there, glinting in the half-light of the guild at night. He rose from the shadows beside the cabinet, drawing his wakizashi blades. As that metallic ring reached my ears my heart lurched painfully and I realised that I was certainly not dreaming.

With a strangled shout I rolled out of bed, aiming for his legs, trying to trip him with my body. The assassin simply hopped over me and twisted to strike at my prone form. It was not luck that I had slept in my armour this time: I had left it on for just such an occasion as this. I managed to catch his blades on my bonemold bracers and push them away before scrambling to my feet. I didn't have my weapons - they were under my bunk, and the assassin must have seen them: he was keeping me away. I continued to block his attacks with my bracers as best I could, but it took the biting pain from a couple of deep cuts to wake me up enough to use my Righteousness spell.

From then on, with every swing he made, arcs of light jumped from his hands to mine, healing my wounds. He couldn't attack me without coming in range of the spell, and soon he was coughing and shaking, blood collecting at his feet. I was still without my weapons however, and just before I managed to land the spell that killed him, the assassin thrust one of his blades deep into my side; leaving it there as he crumpled to the floor.

The Dark Brotherhood assassin dead in an expanding pool of blood behind me, I staggered across to lean on a table, trying to hold myself up. The rest of the guild was awake by now of course, and most of them were trying to persuade Sharn gra-Muzgob to get up again and come over to heal me. I wasn't about to let myself bleed to death while I waited for a stubborn Orc, so with a howl of pain I yanked the blade out and pressed both hands on the wound, focusing my healing spell into them.

A moment later I collapsed into a chair, shaken but fully healed. I didn't know what I would do if it wasn't for the College of Restoration. A moment after that I rose again and angrily kicked the offending wakizashi blade into a skittering path across the floor, causing a couple of the guild members to take a couple of steps back.

"I'm going to Ebonheart. I must see what's to be done about this Dark Brotherhood."

4 Comments:

Anonymous Stygian said...

This is a great story.

Monday, September 05, 2005 2:08:00 am  
Anonymous Lucidarius said...

Nice as always. I especially liked the thieving part in no. 17 and how Sugar-Lips approached Frost. Well-laid out thinking on his part that it would be to his own advantage to join the Thieves Guild.

Great detail about how the transference of health from undead made Frost queasy.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005 5:28:00 am  
Anonymous h*r said...

I can always tell a good story by how it makes me want to write a story myself...

Keep up the good work!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005 6:29:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great story, keep up the good work.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 4:00:00 am  

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