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, October 09, 2005

Chapter 33: Fever

I spent the night before I left for Azura's Coast unsure whether I was asleep or awake, wracked with nonsensical visions - and pain: neverending pain. Periodically I would escape from the mire for long enough to send healing magic into my head, buying myself a brief reprieve from the torment.

Eventually, just before dawn, I fought my way up from the visions and staggered outside to the nearby public pump to douse myself with cold water and wash the detritus of the useless night away. I felt as if I hadn't slept at all; so even though it was not yet light, there was nothing to keep me in Balmora for any longer that day.

I had prepared everything the night before: cooking and packing food for an extended journey, filling my water skins, having my armour and weapons repaired. I had spent the night in my armour, as usual: all I had to do was gather up my pack, shield and helmet, and I was ready to go. Masalinie was kind enough to teleport me to the Vivec guild hall without grumbling too much at being woken so early. From there I cast Divine Intervention and was drawn through space to the Imperial Chapel in Ebonheart. I planned to charter a boat from the Ebonheart docks to as close to the Shrine of Azura as they could take me.

There was a cargo vessel leaving at dawn, bound east for Tel Branora and Sadrith Mora. The ship's captain, a weathered-looking dunmer man, told me that he would indeed be passing through the Azura's Coast region, but that he would not be going anywhere near the Shrine:

"Apologies, sera, but the sea in the whole area - and I mean the whole Azura's Coast - is full of monolithic rocks, sticking up out of the water. It's impossible to bring a ship anywhere near the Shrine - there are only a few safe channels through the region: and none of them even come within sight of that statue, big though it may be." He elaborated when I asked about the statue: "You'll have no trouble finding the Shrine: there's a huge statue on top - a robed woman with her arms stretched out from her sides. I saw it once years ago; back when I was a scout."

I frowned and rubbed my temples. The captain seemed to take it as a sign of irritation, but in reality the sun was starting to come up, and it hurt my eyes and set off that headache yet again.

"Listen, sera, I wasn't going to stop in Tel Branora today; but that's as close as I can take you to the Shrine, so if you say the word, I'll drop you off there."

I agreed and climbed aboard, after giving him thirty drakes or so for his trouble and a place on his boat. Despite my restless night, I found that I couldn't bear sitting still during the voyage. I was constantly beset by pins-and-needles and muscle cramps, in addition to a headache that only intensified as the glare of the sun on the water became ever brighter. I paced up and down the ship's deck for most of the trip, only stopping occasionally to jump up and down in place. It was no good though: nothing I did had the slightest effect on my muscle cramps. The captain would from time to time glance at me curiously from his position at the ship's rudder. I'm not sure what he thought of my strange behaviour: perhaps he simply assumed I was ill at ease travelling by boat. He would not have been wrong: on top of everything else, I soon felt queasy from the rocking motion of the vessel.

The pain in my head grew stronger as the trip wore on: eventually I could not wait any longer, and quickly sent my healing spell into my temples when the captain and crew were not looking. My restless behaviour must have made them think I was eccentric already; seeing me cast a healing spell upon myself, when I had obviously come to no harm, might have made them think I was mad: making things a little socially awkward on a cramped vessel out to sea. I felt better afterwards, though: the pain lessened, and the jumble of visions that had been pushing in again on my mind retreated.

We arrived in Tel Branora around midday. At first I thought that I had gone quite mad - that the visions had taken over - for near the docks was a monstrous tangle of fungi that towered far above the people milling about below. More than that, the bulbous parts of the fungi - joined to one another by massive, trunk-like shoots - had doors and windows carved into the side, and people apparently living in them! I had seen the 'Emperor Parasols' in the Ascadian Isles: mushrooms the size of trees - but this was something else. I was able to satisfy myself that I wasn't dreaming on my feet by asking a local to explain to me what I was looking at.

She told me that the Telvanni - one of the Great Houses of Morrowind - have always grown their towns and villages, rather than built them, using a gigantic species of fungus native to Vvardenfell. The process of growing a Telvanni building from spores apparently only takes a few weeks, which, given the tendency for the 'normal' fungi I was familiar with to spring up from nothing overnight, is perhaps not overly surprising.

I had been told that the Telvanni had a great propensity to magic, and I was not disappointed when I entered a general store in one of the bulbous 'buildings'. Inside the creaking and groaning single-room building, the proprietor had exactly what I needed: a generous supply of soul gems. I bought a number of every grade of soul gem she had: from 'petty' to 'greater' - though I was crestfallen to learn that she had no grand soul gems, and had no idea where to get them. For a moment I had thought that my journey out to the remote Shrine of Azura might have been rendered unnecessary.

Still, that shop had been the only place I had found with any soul gems available for sale (discounting a few street peddlers with a couple of filthy, brittle petty soul gems), and after visiting it I was ready to harvest the souls of any hostile creatures I met. It may sound more than a little mercenary, but I desperately needed the money.

Azura's Coast was much as the ship's captain had described: it was as if the land there had been shattered into thousands of pieces. There were scores of tiny islands as far as I could see, some so small they would not be able to hold more than thirty or so people on their barren backs. And, like the captain said, interspersed with the islands was a forest of monolithic stones, reaching out of the glassy water like fingers.

I spent the afternoon picking my way from one island to the next, bound north for the main body of Vvardenfell. From there I would strike out east along the coast, and hopefully catch sight of the giant statue of Azura as I went. In many places, the islands were so close to one another that I could leap from one to the next with the aid of my 'Tinur's Hoptoad' spell. I bridged the gap between those that were farther apart by magically walking on water.

Some of the larger islands were inhabited, and I poked my nose into every remote dwelling and natural cave I found, even though I was obviously not welcome in any of them. I had decided that the frontier land of Vvardenfell was as close to a good place as I was likely to get for finding some kind of cure for my condition; but if I was to have any chance of locating such a thing, I would have to almost literally scour the wilds for it. A previously unknown cure for a previously unknown ailment: that was my hope - and the wilds of Vvardenfell were mostly unknown to the Empire; and by extension, an outlander like me.

So I cut my way through smugglers and undead, finding nothing, but realising that those petty criminals and shambling dead things weren't as much of a threat to me as they had been. At first I put it down to my new (and very expensive) Netch Adamantium armour, and then I came to believe that I had made some kind of semi-conscious breakthrough in the art of combat: that I had simply become more adept at wielding a sword. There was actually more to it than that - but of course I didn't know that at the time.

First though, sometime in the mid-afternoon, I encountered a large stone dome rising out of the ground of one of the larger islands. It resembled the domes atop the cantons in Vivec, only smaller. Inside was a marked contrast to the sun-drenched islands I was picking my way through: the clammy, windowless passages lit only by the occasional torch, spitting and fizzling in the gloom. The place looked like the Ancestral Tombs I had seen, but there were no urns or ash pits to be seen. I knew immediately that something was not entirely right with the place, though: I think it was the faint, sickly sweet smell of rotting, dead things that gave it away.

Sure enough, the haphazard jumble of rooms and passages were crawling with reanimated skeletons and hideous bonewalkers. Some of the skeletons had apparently retained some vestige of magical power they had once commanded in life, their every bone glowing and rattling unnervingly with each scorching spell they sent my way. They gave the disturbing impression of someone with the uncontrollable shivers.

Also wandering the dark spaces under the dome was a mystifying creature: a skeletal guardian with some tattered pants and ancient gauntlets rusted in place around an iron warhammer. That in itself wasn't that strange - what was strange was that the thing had no ribcage, backbone or hips; in fact its whole torso was replaced by a blinding nimbus of cold light, its extremities floating around the outside. Needless to say, perhaps, the strange creature was quite difficult to hit - my blade passing right through the space where its torso should have been, and its arms and legs sliding effortlessly out of the way of my every swing. Eventually I managed to slice the floating, grinning skull in two, and the blinding light vanished abruptly. In the sudden dark, it was a moment before my eyes adjusted and I saw that the bones of the creature had also disappeared, leaving the decaying pants, gauntlets and warhammer in a pile on the floor. Next to them was a soul gem - a 'greater' soul gem in fact - which I gladly pocketed.

Climbing the long flight of stairs to the upper reaches of the dome, I tripped over a skull in the dim light. I cursed lightly at my own clumsiness, and then heavily when the skull leapt up off the floor and attempted to take a bite out of my face! Luckily I jerked back just in time to avoid having my nose bitten off, and swatted the brittle skull into the wall with my sword, shattering it into crumbling pieces.

"What is it with me and the undead?" I muttered to myself. "Everywhere I go..."

A moment later I discovered the reason for the somewhat unusual undead menagerie I had disturbed: a necromancer had taken up residence; his study and living quarters were in the large room beneath the dome's ceiling. He was a dunmer, and proved to be just as personable as the last necromancer I had met, summoning a massive bonewalker and pointing it in my direction. I was somewhat staggered by its draining attacks - as always with those revolting things - but I managed to fracture enough of the revenant's bones quickly enough that the forces binding it to this world melted away before it could bring me to the ground.

The dunmer's silver skin paled somewhat as the bonewalker vanished in a flash of light, its spirit sucked into a soul gem in my pack. He yanked a black shortsword from his robes and leapt to the attack regardless, obviously hoping that I was weakened enough by the bonewalker to make an easy target. He proved to be the easy target instead, even the glimmering enchanted blade he carried failing to save him from my sword.

For the blade was quite the find. It was an ebony shortsword: heavier, more durable and sharper than a steel or silver weapon. This one had the word 'Shimsil' engraved on the blade, and was enchanted to, on command, give the bearer the temporary ability to blend in with his surroundings. It was a thieves' weapon, and an excellent one, but I felt uncomfortable wielding a blade that short. I would sell it: it ought to be quite valuable.

I was finding a lot of things on my journey, but none of them were things that I really needed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your story BUT you forgot the best mods ever made!!! i mean how could you forget Lilarcor and Carnithus Armamentarium and lets not forget Scripted_Spells all of whitch can be found on morrowind summit!!

And what happend to Ahnassi in pelagiad HOW could you forget about the original romance char in morrowind!!

im not really annoyed or anything you just havent said anything about thoughs mods and Ahnassi so im not sure if you ever heard of them.

anyways keep up the neat strorys and consider useing thoughs mods

Matar Out

Monday, October 10, 2005 2:22:00 pm  
Blogger Joseph said...

Hey Matar - thanks.

I have heard of all those mods, and I know about Ahnassi. Edward doesn't feel anything for Khajiiti (at least not in that way), so no romance with Ahnassi.

Not to give anything away, but I do have a sort of romance planned ... it will be a crucial plot point for the overall story, actually.

Carnithus' Armamentarium is a great mod, and *might* come into play at some point - I'll see how it fits in.

Scripted Spells could be interesting, too, especially considering the focus on magic the story seems to have developed. ;-)

Thanks for your suggestions, anyway.

- Joseph.

PS - Oh, in case anyone's interested, there are a *lot* of mods out there that I think are very cool, but don't use because they don't serve the story I'm trying to tell. (Well, that's the case most of the time, anyway).

Monday, October 10, 2005 9:46:00 pm  

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