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 14, 2005

Chapter 22: The other side

I actually flew across the water to Ebonheart. From Vivec's Palace I could see the harbour of the Imperial settlement. Since I was still under the blessing of the Shrine of Daring, I was able to take full advantage of the magical capability of flight that it gave me and soar across the bay, instead of taking the long way around on foot. It was marvellous: flying low over the glistening water I was unafraid of the blessing wearing off unexpectedly, and was able to chase the breaking waves into Ebonheart's harbour.

Imperial guardsmen were everywhere in Ebonheart, and when I asked for Apelles Matius, one of them directed me to the battlements of the nearby Legion fort. Matius certainly looked the part of a high-ranking Imperial Legion officer new to his current posting: his striking armour was different to the other soldiers'. In fact, I couldn't recall ever before seeing a metal that gleamed so brightly in the sun. According to the Hlaalu guardsmen in Balmora, this was the man to ask for more information on the Dark Brotherhood. Needless to say perhaps, I was keen to see if anything could be done to prevent myself being hunted by deadly assassins. After introducing myself and telling Matius of my problem, I was faced with an obstacle that I should have expected: he did not believe me.

"Look, Mister Frost, the Dark Brotherhood are deadly. And no offense to you, but you look like you've ... seen better days. Yes, you're a breton - I can see - and you probably have some magical ability. But magic or no, if you were really attacked, I doubt you would be alive to tell me about it."

To convince him I described the armour and weaponry of the assassins in great detail (all the time wishing I had thought to bring a piece of the armour with me instead of selling it all). At that Matius seemed to change his mind - or at least doubt his conviction:

"Alright, alright. Stop." He frowned for a moment, staring at his feet, before giving a slight sigh. "Alright, if you have been attacked by the Dark Brotherhood, then it's likely you'll be attacked again; in which case it would be remiss of me not to help you. And by help, I mean I'll tell you what I know - I'm not about to head off on a Dark Brotherhood hunt with you; just so we're clear."

Matius indicated that I should follow him on his patrol. We began to walk along the battlements, the Legion officer gazing out to sea as he spoke.

"As it turns out I can't tell you much more than you've already heard: the nearest Dark Brotherhood base is on the mainland, in Mournhold - the capital city. Of course with the Blight, getting to the mainland is a little tricky." When he didn't elaborate further, instead staring thoughtfully into the sea, I had to ask:

"Uh - at the risk of sounding simple, what is the 'blight'?"

"Are you serious? The blight!" Matius frowned at me. "I've only been here a week, and yet I know about the... Alright. The volcano, Red Mountain, at the centre of Vvardenfell has been the source of blight storms for an age. These are like the ash storms that plague most of the island, only they carry diseases. Very, very bad diseases. Until recently the 'ghostfence' - I don't actually know what that is; you'll have to ask someone else - the 'ghostfence' has contained the blight storms and all the 'blighted' - or diseased - creatures in an area around the volcano. Now very recently, these blighted creatures have been cropping up everywhere on the island, and blight diseases are spreading. The Empire has quarantined Vvardenfell. No ships from the island are allowed to dock on the mainland."

At that, the Legion officer appeared to have an idea.

"They are still allowing teleportation - though 'allowing' might be the wrong word: it's not as if we can actually stop anyone teleporting to or from the island." He gave a grim smile. "Take Asciene Rane - over in the Grand Council Chambers - she'll magic almost anyone that asks over to Mournhold; though now she says she won't if they're sick, or have been out in the wild Ashlands recently. There's basically nothing we can do about someone as gifted in teleportation magic as her, anyway: one move to grab her and she'd vanish." He snapped his fingers. "Just like that."

Matius stared off into the middle distance, and murmured, seemingly half to himself:

"Can't grab her in her sleep, either: no-one knows where she goes at night..." After a moment he came out of his reverie and looked directly into my eyes. "Now, you won't repeat this to anyone, alright? We don't need a cavalcade of bodies blinking over to the mainland. We're trying for a proper quarantine, here." He rolled his eyes, shaking his head. I assured him I wouldn't spread word of the apparent transport service to Mournhold around, saying:

"Don't worry - I don't even know if I'll be going, yet." That was the truth. My every encounter with the Dark Brotherhood had been a close brush with death: and each time it had been a single assassin. I was not about to poke my nose into a potential nest of the vipers without feeling a lot better prepared than I did at that point. It was becoming apparent, too, that neither the Legion nor any of the local enforcement companies would be willing to help me; so for the meantime, I would just have to focus on my martial and magical studies and hope that I could withstand any further attacks.

Thanking Apelles Matius for his time, I carried on to the Imperial Cult Mission, my final destination for the day. Ranis Athrys had as good as ordered me to make the trip to the Mission to find someone who could teach me the 'Divine Intervention' spell. I intended to do as she said, but I also wanted to ask the priests if there was anything I could do to aid the Cult. I had not forgotten my debt to them.

The Mission in Ebonheart - also known as the Imperial Chapel - was built out of a steep, rocky promontory, with spectacular views to the west and south; out to sea. Stepping inside, I was immediately struck at how fine the furnishings were. Richly coloured rugs and tapestries lined the walls and floors, the furniture was all of high quality heavy wood, and the shelves were lined with fine books and other expensive items. It was a far cry from the sparse interiors of the Tribunal Temples - and from the Cult orphanage in which I was raised. Still, I suppose it was the headquarters of the Imperial Cult on Vvardenfell, and the presence of the Cult in most places on the island was limited to a single shrine and priest tucked away in a corner of a Legion fort. A place like the Imperial Chapel could be said to inspire confidence in the strength of the Cult.

Seated on one of the benches just inside the Mission was a lithe Redguard man. He laid aside the book he had been reading and rose to greet me, introducing himself as Kaye, the Shrine Sergeants' overseer. He came across as one of those young, devout men and women who believe themselves to be personable links between the 'common' citizen and the insular world of their religion: whereas most of those 'common' citizens see them as being quite stuffy and straight-laced.

Upon hearing that I had recently joined the Vvardenfell branch of the Cult and wished to offer my services, Kaye told me of an assignment he had for a Shrine Sergeant 'Layman' of the Cult.

"There's this Altmer, named Caryarel. We only see him in here if he's sick, or in trouble. This actually means that we see a lot of him, since he's often in trouble: he's a thief." As the Redguard spoke of Caryarel he looked as if he had bitten into something unpleasant. He obviously had little love for the shady Altmer. "We usually manage to keep a close enough eye on him, but when he was here recently being treated for swamp fever, someone must have been careless. After he left we noticed that a rare - and valuable - Chapel Limeware bowl was missing."

I thought I could see where this was going. Still, playing hired muscle on a mission to intimidate someone certainly seemed more appropriate for a Shrine Sergeant than it did for a Journeyman in the Mages Guild. Kaye went on, and soon confirmed my expectations:

"Your assignment is to find Caryarel and retrieve that Limeware bowl, if you can. Now I know what you're thinking: valuable though it may be, it's still just a bowl. The problem is that this bowl was a gift from a wealthy benefactor. We rely heavily on his donations to support many of our good works. If he should happen to visit and find his gift missing, the results could be disastrous." Kaye placed a hand on my shoulder - a friendly gesture, but it seemed somewhat contrived considering we had just met. "You'll have to do some detective work to find Caryarel; though I have a couple of clues to get you started. Swamp fever is carried by mudcrabs, and the only place they are found near here is along the Bitter Coast. You could ask other Altmer people along there - in such a sparsely populated area as the Bitter Coast, any Altmer there are probably a close-knit bunch."

I accepted the Shrine Sergeant assignment. Forming in my mind were the beginnings of a plan for dealing with these debt collection and intimidation tasks I had been given - both by Kaye and by Ranis Athrys.

Before teleporting back to the Mages Guild for a night of well-earned sleep, I spent the rest of the afternoon learning a couple of new spells from the priests. First, I had found that in the scorching sun of the southern Ascadian Isles, my 'Rest of Saint Merris' spell was not sufficient to keep me from overheating and becoming exhausted. So I eagerly replaced it with a more powerful - and more difficult - spell, which the priest simply called 'Stamina'. With that spell in my reportoire I felt confident that even wearing a full suit of armour, in the midday sun, on an uncommonly humid day - I would be able to run for hours without becoming tired.

And finally, I found someone who was able to teach me 'Divine Intervention'. In addition to providing an excellent safety net in case I ever found myself in some kind of danger I couldn't handle, the spell would make reporting back to the Imperial Cult headquarters a fast and very simple matter. Using a combination of my various teleportation spells and the services of Masalinie Merian, the guild-guide in Balmora, I could travel from virtually any point in the land to the Imperial Chapel in less than a minute. And that was only one example of the many places my teleportation spells could quickly take me - as soon as I became practised enough to cast them reliably, of course.

Slowly but surely, I was becoming better and better established on Vvardenfell - at least in the more civilised areas. I was soon to discover just how dangerous wandering off the beaten track could be.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's the third time you've posted a link to the temperature mod.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005 12:39:00 pm  
Blogger Joseph said...

I post a link to a mod any time it plays some part (however minor :-) ) in the story - but only one time per chapter.

I repeat links in separate chapters for the sake of convenience for anyone who may want to check these mods out. I also want to give due credit to the creators of the mods.

- Joseph.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005 4:43:00 pm  
Anonymous Gernot said...

Hi Joseph!

I really like your journal here, it makes a great game even more immersing, makes you virtually replay the game..

Keep it on!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005 6:45:00 pm  
Anonymous Vic said...

You made out a great rationale behind the limeware theft; Congrats to you! I hope the game itself gave more reasoning, more history behind their quests, just as you did.

(Still reading...)

Saturday, January 05, 2008 8:21:00 pm  

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