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, September 23, 2005

Chapter 26: On the run

After my theft of the dwemer artifacts from Raz'hid had devolved into a mad dash out of Hla Oad before I was reported to the guards, I was sure that I now had a price on my head. Bounties for theft were usually roughly equal to the value of the property stolen. The way I saw it, I had two options if I wanted to avoid a life of hiding my face in public: the first of which was to turn myself in to a guard and pay the bounty. I wanted to avoid this, as guardsmen were known to shake down people that did this for any stolen items - or simply for anything they took a liking to. I did not fancy having my hard-won equipment confiscated, so the second option looked like the course to take: I would see if the Thieves Guild would hold up their end of the bargain and help me out of this trouble.

Besides, any bounty on my head was as a result of a job Habasi had sent me on - and I had the pieces she wanted, so I anticipated having little trouble persuading them to help me. I felt calmer once I had worked out what to do, and before I knew it I had arrived at Velos Ancestral Tomb, the time-worn stone entrance jutting from a hillside. I think it was my curiosity again making me stick my nose where I shouldn't - that and the possibility of great power. I imagined finding the Amulet of Scrye and being able to solve age-old mysteries simply by talking to the spirits of those alive at the time. I think I also had some vague plan to ask the spirits for sanctuary from their attacks. I seemed to find undead wherever I went.

I was very naive.

I went into the tomb ready for a fight, but all I found was a book and the Amulet of Scrye, sitting on a stone plinth, caked with dust. I could only tell that I had found the amulet because it had 'Amulet of Scrye' inscribed on it in tiny characters: any enchantment on it escaped my ability to sense such things. Using my Night-Eye spell, I skimmed through the book until I found part that taught me how to cast a spell that would allow me to see into the spirit world and speak with any ghosts that may be 'nearby'. The book explained that wearing the amulet would allow me to hear whispers of the dead; thereby letting me know when spirits were nearby.

I put the amulet around my neck, the metal icy against my skin. Instantly I could hear harsh whispering; someone pleading me to listen, and to look at them. I tentatively cast the spell I had learnt from the book, jumping back with a yelp as the glowing face of a spirit appeared so close to me that our noses were almost touching. It was a man - a dunmer - and he had the ... biggest ears I had ever seen. He was not happy to see me.

"Another one." He clenched and unclenched his ghostly fists. "Did you know that every time some amateur necromancer runs off with that amulet, holding it aloft as if they have the answer to their existence in their hand, they eventually come back gibbering about death and infinity or somesuch? They come back and they beg me to take the amulet and whatever it is they've seen back - as if I could do such a thing. Do you still want the shiny thing, you silly little boy?"

"I'm not a necromancer!" I was indignant. "I actually killed one who was looking for this." I fingered the amulet.

"Necromancers kill each other all the time." The spirit, which I took to be that of Thynim Velos, fixed me with a stare. "Though I suppose that supports your claim that you're not a necromancer. If you were, you'd..." Velos trailed off, his eye narrowing. "You're going to keep it, aren't you? Stupid, stupid mortal! Alright look; there may be a way for you to keep that amulet and whatever fluff blew into your head that you took to calling your mind."

The spirit waved a hand at the back wall of the tomb. A ghostly door materialised slowly, opening onto a dark cavernous passage.

"I have four tasks for you. Complete them and you might not go stark raving mad after all. And before you ask, no, I don't have anything better to do with my time. I have an awful lot of time at hand, being dead, and all. Take that skull." Velos pointed at my hands and I realised I was holding a brittle, pockmarked skull, though I could not remember picking it up. "Place it in the chest at the end of the hall." He ushered me through the ghostly door, calling out to me just before it slammed shut: "One more thing. Honour the dead."

This then, was what I got for following every whim that passed through my mind. I hurried down the wide, echoing passage. It was dark in there, even with my Night-Eye spell, but I could make out skeletal guardians with rusted weapons in various alcoves and small rooms off the hall, following my progress with their empty eye sockets. Partway down the hall, the skeletons began to move, first one or two, then the rest, striding purposefully towards me. I increased my pace, then broke into a run, tucking the skull under my arm in case things came to a shoving match.

The undead followed suit, and soon I was tearing down the huge passage, a mass of skeletons right behind me. With the skull tucked under my arm like a recreational ball, it rather felt like a macabre version of a game I used to play with the other orphans; only this time I wanted to be caught even less than back then. I guessed that by "honour the dead", Velos had meant for me to avoid attacking the undead in the hall; though even if I was so inclined, I would not be foolish enough to turn and face such an overwhelming force.

By the time I reached the chest at the end of the hall, the ungainly skeletons had fallen behind somewhat, and I had time to toss the brittle skull into the chest and slam the lid shut. I was momentarily distracted by an awful shriek from within the chest, and then the mob of skeletal guardians were almost upon me. Trying to skirt around the group while at the same time keeping a wary eye on them should they fan out, I tripped and found myself backed into a corner, a forest of bones blocking my escape.

To my surprise, the skeletons merely stopped and stared at my prone form, making no further move towards me. Wasting no opportunity to escape, I slowly got to my feet and carefully picked my way through the crowd of undead, trying to avoid somehow provoking them. Every skull in the room swivelled in place to watch my retreat, but I was not challenged on my way out. A few short moments later I pushed through the ghostly door to where I had spoken with Velos, the door fading away behind me.

The spirit was nowhere to be seen, but the Amulet of Scrye was whispering menacingly to me again, so I cast the seance spell. When Thynim became visible he was wearing a grim smile.

"Good. That was actually quite good. Now, the second task is to kneel at that prayer stool over there, and pray. I don't much care what you pray for, though given that you seem adamant on keeping my amulet, you may wish to pray for your sanity."

I realised that Velos was right. I did want the amulet, even after originally wanting to avoid anything to do with necromancers and their art. Perhaps it was some effect of the amulet itself, attracting me to it. I couldn't imagine anyone intentionally imbuing an item with unwanted effects during the enchanting process, but then maybe some aspect of the habit of obsession that is said to infest necromancers had made its way into the amulet. In any case I followed the spirit's instructions and knelt at the prayer stool.

Without thinking, I found myself praying for something that I had wished for many times before; of course without expectation that it would ever be granted. I prayed that I would never die.

"That will do." Velos broke my reverie. "Your next task will be more difficult. There is a vampire I wish killed, in the Reloth Ancestral Tomb. The tomb is south-east of Khuul, where the mountains end." The spirit began to fade. "One thing I must insist upon is that you leave the amulet here for now. Trust me." He grinned unpleasantly. "It's safer that way."

With that, he vanished, and the Amulet of Scrye was gone from around my neck too. With the amulet gone I felt as if I was thinking clearly once more. A vampire! While it was true that I had killed a vampire before, the thing had been already half-dead (in a manner of speaking) from starvation. I was not about to go looking for a fight with a vampire.

I hurried from the tomb, resuming my trek north through the muggy swamps of the Bitter Coast. I did not see any evidence of civilisation until dusk, when I came across a wooden door leading into a natural cave system. Inside I was momentarily alarmed by a strange dog-like creature with thrashing black antennae where its eyes should rightly have been. The thing waddled up and regarded me with brief curiosity, before turning and casually wandering off into the caves.

I was exhausted: I had put a great distance between myself and the guards of Hla Oad that day. I made camp right there, at the mouth of the cave. Laying back in my bedroll I felt somewhat uneasy about sleeping there with those strange animals wandering about: that is until I saw how my ioun stone was behaving. It would float up to any of the creatures that approached while I was lying down, and give them a sharp rap on what appeared to be their nose. The creature would then quickly retreat.

Feeling for the first time that day that I could relax, I drifted off to sleep.


Anonymous Ivza said...

Whoa... it's most enlightening to see a better writer than I to write a story partially based on my plotline (my plotline = Amulet of Scrye plotline; I'm the author of the said mod). I very much like the way you've added more oomph to the dialogue and events (and in my eyes significantly improved on the original, both in AoS (not that big a feat) and the original Morrowind).

It is a pity I don't think your character can continue with AoS much longer for a while (the 4th trial will probably take some time to accomplish for a beginning character and IIRC the vampire wasn't exactly a pushover either), since I especially enjoy the way you've depicted the events in AoS. No matter, the rest of Frost's adventures are interesting as well! Keep up the excellent work :)

Thursday, September 29, 2005 1:04:00 am  
Blogger Joseph said...

Wow... thanks! I'm very glad to hear that you like it, Ivza; especially as I feel sort of guilty not contacting you first to see if you would mind me mentioning your mod in the story.

I actually have no idea when Edward will be crossing paths with that vampire... no, wait - I think I'm getting an idea here...

Okay, I have an idea of when he *might* meet this vampire, but everyone will have to wait and see - including me. :-)

Anyway, thanks again, and good work on the mod (I couldn't resist something that reminded me so much of 'Undying'!)

- Joseph.

Thursday, September 29, 2005 11:14:00 pm  

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