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.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Chapter 19: Desperation

I had a big day planned, and rose early. My main goal was to learn more about the Dark Brotherhood, since last night's attack had made it apparent that they were not going to give up their attempts to kill me just yet. The Hlaalu guards that had removed the body of the first assassin had told me that I should look for a man named Apelles Matius in Ebonheart: that he would probably know more about them. According to my map, Ebonheart was at Vvardenfell island's southernmost point, just south of the holy city of Vivec. Ranis told me that the fastest way to reach Ebonheart from Balmora would be to ask the guild guide, Masalinie, to teleport me to the Vivec Mages Guild. Once there I should cast 'Divine Intervention', which would teleport me to the nearest Imperial Cult shrine; in this case the Mission in Ebonheart. Upon learning that I didn't know the 'Divine Intervention' spell, she huffed impatiently and said:

"Then teleport to Vivec and walk, swim or take a boat to Ebonheart. Or fly - if you know the spell." She said pointedly. "Then go to the Cult Mission and LEARN Divine Intervention! Believe me, whatever you may do from this day forth, you will need that spell." I was about to tell her that I did at least know a levitation spell, but reconsidered and held my silence, reasoning that she would be less than impressed to hear that although I knew 'Levitate', I could not actually cast it reliably.

In any case, I wanted to see Vivec: by all accounts the city was spectacular. There were also a few things I wanted to do in Vivec, so it would make more sense to explore the city on foot and then find my way to Ebonheart. The next propylon index that Folms Mirel had sent me after was in the St. Olms Temple in Vivec, and three of the 'Seven Graces' pilgrimages were close to the big Tribunal Temple at the south end of the city.

The St. Olms Temple, the Vivec Temple and its nearby shrines, and then finally the Imperial Cult Mission. It would be a big day of visiting religious sites. The 'Pilgrim's Path' had indicated that the offerings traditionally given at the 'Seven Graces shrines' in Vivec were (respectively): one hundred coins, a potion of Rising Force (levitation), and a silver longsword. I conveniently had in my possession an extra silver longsword - from one of the Balmora noble's manors - and Ajira had a few Rising Force potions in stock, so in very short order I was ready to depart.

Masalinie gave me a knowing smile as I hoisted the sack of Dark Brotherhood armour over my shoulder and asked her to send me to Caldera - instead of Vivec. She knew that with a new set of the high quality black chain, I would be going straight to Creeper to sell it.

I arrived in Caldera during the dawn hour, but it was a lot darker outside than I had expected. Squinting into the dim sky I could see heavy rainclouds knitting together above my head. I hurried to the run-down manor where Creeper lived, not anxious to have my already heavy load burdened any further by getting my equipment soaked through. When I reached the manor I decided to try using my new 'Tinur's Hoptoad' spell to reach the second-floor balcony. It was an Alteration spell, and simply caused the caster to be able to jump much higher than he or she normally could. It did not provide any means of softening a fall, however, so caution was advised in its use.

Upon casting the spell a faint purple glow ran from my hands down to my legs, then vanished, leaving me feeling no different than usual. Until, that is, I tensed my legs for the jump: suddenly I felt much lighter than usual; though not light enough, as it turned out. In retrospect I should have suspected that in my physical condition, wearing a full suit of bonemold armour, carrying three long swords, my usual supplies, and the Dark Brotherhood armour in a sack may have been too much weight to allow me jump onto a second-floor balcony, magic spell notwithstanding. I scrabbled at the wooden rungs on the balcony but lost my grip and my footing, and came crashing down to the stone street in a heap, the black chain armour breaking the sack and spilling out everywhere.

I jumped to my feet with a curse and looked up the street, embarrassed, to see if anyone had seen my abortive attempt at acrobatics. I almost bit my tongue in fright when an arrow skimmed off my shoulder-guard with a crack. I span around to face the other way, spotting in the gloom a lone figure with a bow down the street: it looked like a khajiit. He and I were alone: not a guard to be seen. Weighted down as I was I couldn't run from my attacker, and I was not about to cast a teleportation spell and abandon the valuable Dark Brotherhood armour. Leaving the black chain where it had spilled onto the stones, I dashed to the left to get a building between myself and the bowman. I had my helmet tied to the top of my pack, within easy reach. Once behind cover I reached back and flipped it onto my head, before unslinging the tower shield from my back and drawing my katana.

The khajiit with the bow had run up the street to expose my cover, but with the huge bonemold towershield held in front of me I was able to charge him without taking injury. As I approached I could see that the khajiit was bare-chested, dirty, and quite gaunt, and that there was something wrong with his eyes: they glowed with a pale, unnatural light. Once within striking distance I knocked his bow aside with my katana, slicing it in two. My swing also cut across my assailant's bare chest, opening a long bloody furrow in his fur. I felt a momentary surge of confidence, which was immediately quelled as the wound quickly closed of its own accord. The khajiit snarled, revealing a set of very long fangs, and with a sinking feeling I began to suspect that what I was fighting was not mortal: it was a vampire.

The thing launched itself at me, claws extended, and with its legs wrapped around my waist, began violently tearing and pulling at the joints of my armour, trying to pry them open. Its claws found my skin through the joints, and tore into my flesh. Before it - or he - could bring its fangs too close to my throat, I headbutted the vampire khajiit in its sensitive nose. The hard bonemold of my helmet did the trick, and the thing released me, stumbling back and clutching at its face. I let my katana fall to the ground, and drew one of the silver longswords I had brought with me. While not as sharp, strong, or well-balanced as my steel katana, I had been taught that silver was deadly to supernatural creatures that might otherwise shrug off weapons of iron and steel.

I thrust the sword at the vampire's heart, and the thing actually tried to catch the blade with its hands! It quickly let go of the blade and cried out, holding up hands dirtied with wounds that were definitely not instantly healing over. Still, it had deflected my sword, which buried itself in the bony khajiit's stomach instead of its heart. In one fluid motion the infernal cat pushed me away (my sword coming with me), gave me a stunning kick to the head, then span around, whipping the filthy tip of its tail across the eye-slit in my helmet. My vision blurred from the dust and dirt in my eyes, I did not see the attack that threw me backwards to the ground. Even with my helmet, my head was struck a jarring blow. Blinking as rapidly as I could to clear my eyes, I swung out from my prone position at the blurry figure as it moved to pounce on me, the blade catching it in the side. The thing growled and spat in pain and frustration, stumbling back.

My vision was clear enough to stab the vampire a couple of times as he tried to dart in and latch onto me while I rose to my feet. The khajiit howled, and through its dead white eyes I thought I could see a mounting desperation. It kept glancing at the lightening sky, and thus distracted I was able to open a few deep gashes in its chest. The gaunt vampire could now hardly stand, its matted fur becoming soaked with its own blood. Dropping the cumbersome tower shield, I gripped my silver sword in both hands and swung as hard as I could at the vampire's neck, taking his head off.

The body wobbled for a moment, still on its feet. Then - I blinked - and the next thing I knew the body had the appearance of a crumbling, black statue. The gathering clouds broke, and rain started to patter down onto the stone street. A few drops hit the dead vampire, and it crumbled under its own weight, collecting in a pile of drifting ashes on the ground. I picked up my tower shield and placed it over the ashes to protect them from the rain and wind while I looked for something to collect them in. The ashes of a vampire - 'Vampire Dust' as it is commonly called - are quite valuable to alchemists. Shortly I found a chipped bottle and a cork in an alleyway, and scraped as much of the dust as I could into the makeshift container.

As I did so it dawned on me: I had fought a vampire, one of the more deeply feared creatures of the night. More than that, I had defeated it! Still, the wretched thing had looked malnourished, weak and filthy. And what force could have made a vampire hunt a person in the middle of a (supposedly) guarded town - at dawn? It must have been starving - truly desperate.

Somehow I felt little sense of triumph at my victory over the creature.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed reading as Edward arrived, afraid to fight skeletons in a shack to fighting and defeating 2 assassins, a necromancer, and a vampire. Will the story ever include portions from Bloodmoon?

Thursday, September 08, 2005 6:30:00 am  
Blogger Joseph said...

I am planning to go to Solstheim, yes.

The story develops and changes as I play though...

- Joseph

Thursday, September 08, 2005 11:51:00 pm  

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