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, October 05, 2005

Chapter 31: A leak, a bruise

I had a dream just before I came back to the world. I dreamt of all that had happened since I arrived on Vvardenfell, the visions, smells and feelings flashing past with great speed. I knew I was dreaming because all the fighting, all the wounds I received didn't hurt. Conversely, I knew that the dreams had shifted back to reality when the aching, throbbing pain in my head returned.

I opened my eyes and my vision was filled with the broad, ruddy face of Synnolian Tunifus, the master healer of the Imperial Cult Mission in Ebonheart. All things considered, I had probably chosen the best possible place in all of Vvardenfell to collapse; Synnolian was regarded as an excellent healer. However, the look on his face dispelled any relief I may have felt.

"Can you hear me, Frost? Young Kaye and that trooper carried you in off the street." I didn't reply - instead bringing a hand up to my aching head. The pain was too intense for me to speak. Synnolian went on: "Do you know where you are? Can you tell us what happened?"

When I still remained silent, clenching my teeth and squeezing my eyes shut against the pain, Kaye spoke up, from somewhere off to the side:

"Can't you give him something?"

"I can, but I'm not sure what's wrong with him - there's something very strange..."

"I think you may have to: it looks like he's really hurting."

Synnolian sighed and pursed his lips, before moving out of sight. A moment later, someone propped me up and slowly poured a pungent liquid down my throat. A familiar warm glow spread from my stomach: it was a healing potion. The pain lessened somewhat; not melting away completely, but still enough for me to be able to focus on my surroundings.

I was sitting on a bunk bed somewhere in the Imperial Chapel, with Kaye, Synnolian and Lalatia Varian, the Oracle, all gathered around. The master healer was holding an empty vial, and asked me again if I could explain why I had collapsed. For a moment I still didn't answer - I was distracted by a new sensation. Through my atrocious headache I could feel magicka rushing into my body, faster than ever before. It seemed to burn as it came, like the midday sun on a roasting hot day.

Since the moon emblem had dived into my skin, the magicka was flooding into my body. And... there was something else. I don't know how else to describe it but to say that there was a leak, somewhere inside me: my magicka reserves slowly seeping out, but to where, I couldn't tell. The new flood of magicka was much faster than the mysterious leak, at any rate.

I explained all this to Kaye, Synnolian, and Lalatia (finally breaking my silence); I told them of the magical items I had found and been given, and how most of them fortified my ability to perform magic and store magicka. They were dumbfounded when they heard of the threads I had woven into the plane of magicka, and of the enchanted items that acted to accelerate this flow of magicka into my body. I finished by describing how the moon emblem had unravelled and burrowed under my skin as soon as I teleported outside.

"Are you saying that this 'emblem', in the shape of a moon, only came alive when you stepped outside?" Lalatia Varian, the Oracle of the Ebonheart Mission, spoke for the first time. I had met her only briefly before.

I nodded, suddenly remembering how I had seen the moons of Nirn, full and clearly visible, just before I had passed out. I thought I knew what Lalatia was about to say - and I was right:

"The moons are in a position of influence over the lands at the moment. It could be that coming within their sight triggered and brought out the properties of the emblem." The Oracle bent in close to examine my skin at the place where I had indicated the wormlike threads had been. "A patch of your skin is raised and looks irritated here." She pointed at my upper chest, then at my face. "Also here. They are both vaguely in the shape of a crescent moon, too."

Synnolian joined her examination, and asked:

"Lalatia, can you help me determine what's happened to our young Adept?" He rested a hand on my shoulder, and held out the other for the Oracle to take. Once they were holding hands, Lalatia placed her hand on my other shoulder, and the pair closed their eyes. I could see out of the corner of my eyes a gently pulsing blue glow, spreading out from their hands and disappearing into my body. They remained like this for a time, all the while their frowns deepening.

I noticed Lalatia's hand shaking, and then she pulled away, moving off without a word to sit down heavily across the room. Synnolian remained as he was for a moment before withdrawing his hand. He glanced across at the Oracle, who merely nodded, staring into the middle-distance. The healer pulled up a chair and sat down next to my bed, facing me. Finally he spoke:

"It is not really understood how the body stores magicka, and I must say that I've never seen anything like this before, but think of it this way: Blood is kept in your body, and yet certain injuries can cause a person to bleed inside their body, even to death - without any loss of blood from their body as a whole. That is what seems to be happening to your magicka reserves: they are bleeding out, into your body - like a bruise. Magicka will slowly seep into every fibre of your being. I have no idea what this will do to you in the meantime, but... one thing is absolutely certain." Synnolian held my gaze for a moment, then looked away.

"Mister Frost, I'm afraid you're dying."

My reaction to this news was... well, it's not something I can easily relate in words. I didn't say or do anything for a long while: I just sat there. Inside, I was in turmoil; a mess of anger, despair, and fear... mostly fear.

"It's as if your life force is being gradually edged out of your body. It will be like aging more quickly. If the process remains as it is now, you should have a good five years or so." I buried my face in my hands. I could feel helpless, burning tears welling up. Synnolian kept talking: "Perhaps more if... How are you at the College of Restoration?"

I looked up at his ruddy face, blinking the tears from my eyes. I could tell from his expression that he was not joking with any of this, and he had no reason to lie to me. Still, it was hard to believe - I was actually dying... Though I suppose after my extremely good fortune since arriving on the island, I was due to fall foul of some intensely bad luck. It was my own fault for messing with an unidentified magical device.

I remembered that Synnolian had asked me a question:

"What? Oh ... passable. I have healing spell I use - a lot." It's funny how in tragic and uncomfortable situations, one's unconscious mind sometimes forces the corners of your mouth upwards in a nervous twitch. I'm sure in my upset state it resembled a grimace more than a smile, however.

"Good, good." Synnolian stood up and began pacing back and forth slowly. "Because it looks like healing magic should help to slow the progress of this... affliction. If you can cast your healing spell every so often, you should live somewhat longer. If that headache stays with you, or returns again, healing magic should help with that too. Although..." He paused, tapping his chin with a forefinger. "This leak - this contamination - is constant, and you can't very well go on casting the same spell every few minutes, or drinking down one restorative potion after another. You have to sleep sometime."

I was sick of just sitting there and trying to maintain my composure, so as he spoke, I touched my fingers to my forehead and let the soothing waves of my healing spell wash away the throbbing headache. It seemed that Synnolian was right about that helping, at least. The healer was still talking - he appeared to be half thinking out loud:

"I'm afraid what you really need - what will really slow this thing down - is not easy to come by at all. You need a constant, permanent healing enchantment to combat the constant leak into your body. The enchantment would need to be placed on something you can keep in contact with your skin at all times: a shirt might be best."

I had felt a little hopeful again at the mention of something that could delay my apparently inevitable early death, but my heart sank when Synnolian started talking about constant effect enchantments. I had learnt enough about the process of enchanting objects to constantly radiate a magical effect was extraordinarily difficult, as was gathering the resources necessary to perform such an enchantment. Because of this, enchanters charged exorbitant fees for the service. Synnolian was talking about a magical item that would effectively cause the bearer's body to continuously regenerate, healing any injuries over a short time. Such a powerful enchantment would be hideously expensive, even by enchanters' standards.

My train of thought must have been apparent by my expression, because Synnolian said:

"Don't give up hope. There may be something out there that can help you: I mean really help - not just hold off the... Not just slow things down. Lalatia here is forever telling me of all these mystical items she senses all over the land. Some of them with power to make your head spin. And learning, only today, of the existence of such things as 'magicka threads' makes me believe all the more strongly that you may find something out there that can cure you... Now, Adept Frost: in the meantime you should feel little different, but be sure to come and see me regularly so I can monitor your condition..."

His voice seemed to fade away - I was lost in my own head, thinking of all I had lost - all I would lose.

Despite my prayers, I was dying.


Anonymous Carnivore said...

Holy sheepshanks!
I assume this is quite exaggerated in comparison to the actual trinket in the mod, Yikes, though... If that was an actual item in the game...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 2:57:00 pm  
Blogger Joseph said...

Heh - yes, the Magical Trinkets of Tamriel mod doesn't actually do anything *that* nasty (as far as I'm aware - I don't think I've seen everything the mod has to offer). :-)

I actually got the idea when playing an earlier character, and the game crashed whenever I tried to swap out the moon emblem for a different one. It only seemed to happen with the moon emblem, so the idea came to me that maybe the emblem *burned in* or something, and that's why my character couldn't take it off. The concept for this part of the story developed from there...

- Joseph.

Thursday, October 06, 2005 9:52:00 am  

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