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, October 14, 2005

Chapter 35: Burning away

On a peninsula a little way north of the Mabu-Ilu caves, facing onto a small cove on the south-east coast of Vvardenfell, I found the jumbled stonework of a Daedric ruin. I approached from a nearby hill, so I could see down into the ruins. They appeared abandoned, so I slid down the steep, slick slope to have a closer look.

This was despite my earlier misgivings about Daedric ruins, of course; all the stories about them agree on one thing: they are often as not crawling with Daedra summoned from Oblivion, and as such are very dangerous. Some even say that the people that frequent the ancient ruins and shrines, to worship the Daedra gods, were even worse. So what was I doing there? Perhaps, fresh from my victory over the Dremora and its summoner in the caves, I was feeling overconfident. Perhaps my affliction bred a fatalistic and self-destructive streak in me that I had not known before. And maybe the search for something to prolong my clipped lifespan was leading me to desperation.

It was probably all these things. In any case, when I found a door to an underground Daedric shrine, I decided to investigate. Those Daedric doors were a mystery to me, and I never could discover how they worked. This one, like all others I saw, was oval-shaped, and appeared to be made up of flat stone triangles, with their points meeting at the centre of the oval. A little below the centre was a stretched, hemisperical stone, somewhat resembling the carapace of a beetle. Attached to each of the lower 'corners' of the hemisphere were roughly horseshoe-shaped stones, ending in dull tips that pointed away from the hemispherical stone.

None of this appeared to account for anything, though: as when I tentatively reached out to touch the door, there was a loud crack - which made me blink - and then I was facing a darkened flight of stairs leading down into the ground. The door had opened seemingly of its own accord - and too quickly for me to observe how it had done so.

Not wanting to tempt fate more than I already was, I quickly jumped through the door, which promptly sealed me in with a booming crash. Inside was sparsely lit at best; a couple of guttering torches here and there. The dark purple stone of which the place was constructed caught very little light - my Night-Eye spell was a necessity.

At the bottom of the stairs, I was almost blinded (thanks to my amplified vision) by a bright flare of light from the hands of a dunmer woman, pressed into one of the many alcoves lining the passage. The spell streaked by under my arm - I had sidestepped it as I did most offensive spells - though only barely. Unfortunately I was quite close to a wall, and with a low, concussive boom, roaring flames leapt out and engulfed me.

It's strange: I remember my first thought at that moment was about my hair. It was all gone in an instant, and I could feel it - it was a weird sensation. Then came the pain - and I won't attempt to describe it: the agony was just... too much. Every part of me was on fire, my skin burning away. I think I was writhing around in a wretched heap on the floor when my healing spell instinctively came to me, spreading throughout my body. When my mind came back to me, I was on my knees, staring down at my arms, legs and midriff. The blue glow of healing magics was floating outside my body now, all over, the flames feeding off them instead of me. My flesh was regenerating beneath the dancing light, my nose and ears growing back, my skin re-forming - even my hair sprouted again, to hang down in lank strands in front of my eyes. It was horrific: I was glad, in a way, that I had been too out of my mind with pain to really witness everything being burnt away to begin with.

All this must have only taken a few seconds, because as the magics surrounding me faded away, I lifted my head to see the dunmer mage preparing another spell. I threw myself onto my side as the dull red, destructive spell lashed out, sailing down the long passage to detonate against the steps some distance behind me. I breathed in sharply: my skin was still burnt and raw, and the movement of clothes and armour against it was quite painful. I cast my healing spell again and rose to meet my attacker, katana in hand.

Casting the deadly flame spell twice in quick succession had evidently drained the woman's magicka reserves, as she gave a colourful curse and closed the distance between us, dagger in hand.

I was furious. My first blow sent the mage's dagger spinning away into the gloom, and my second cut her completely in half, through the abdomen. The next thing I knew I was vomiting in one of the dark alcoves off the passage - something I had not done in the aftermath of a fight since my very first time; in the caves near Seyda Neen. It was likely a combination of the headache I had carried almost constantly since the moon emblem buried itself in my body, the revolting, horrifiying and agonising experience of being burnt almost to death, and the grisly sight of my handiwork - lying in two pieces behind me.

"There she is! She's ... she's dead!" The shout came from down the passage, along with the sound of several pairs of feet quickly approaching.

Taking a deep breath, I tucked my katana under my shield-arm and stepped out of the alcove, sending my Frostball spell hurtling from my now-free hand, towards the small group of (I assumed) Daedra worshippers. There were three of them: two roguish men with glittering, obviously enchanted short swords, and a massive dunmer woman in a full suit of heavy steel plate armour, wielding a large two-handed sword; a claymore. My spell caught all of them in its icy blast, but both the lithe, quick-limbed men had spun around and ducked into a ball, escaping most of its effects. The heavily armed woman strode forward as if nothing had happened, ice coating her steel armour.

Soon I was embroiled in a desperate, chaotic brawl, hemmed in on three sides. One of the rogues had an enchanted poison blade, the other, a flame-blade. The woman simply relied on an incredible strength to propel her scything cuts with the claymore. I whirled, slashed, shoved, scrambled, kicked and cut, half-blinded by the acid, fire, smoke and blood in my eyes. I fought like a wild animal, frantic to keep them off me, until there was only me left standing; among the remains of my attackers, cut into more pieces than I felt comfortable counting.

I knew then, without a doubt, that something incredible was happening to my body. I was stronger, faster and tougher than ever before. Was this, then, the unexpected effect of my internal magicka leak Synnolian Tunifus had been wondering about? An artificial boost to my every physical attribute?

Could I expect to become ever stronger until I was overtaken by premature old age? Or would even that fail to stop me?

Perhaps I would grow faster, stronger and tougher day by day until my body could no longer contain the magicka, and I would simply fall down dead.


Anonymous JeeBee said...

"cut into more pieces than I felt comfortable counting."

Nice wording :p

Friday, October 14, 2005 11:32:00 pm  
Anonymous JeeBee said...

cut into more pieces than I felt comfortable counting.

I meant that... somehow it screwed up

Friday, October 14, 2005 11:33:00 pm  
Anonymous JeeBee said...

cut into more pieces than I felt comfortable counting.



Friday, October 14, 2005 11:34:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all have those days. I especially liked the burning part.

Sunday, October 16, 2005 5:09:00 am  

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