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 28, 2005

Chapter 41: Fire, ashes, and dust

I left my armour and weapons at Meldor's to be repaired while I ate lunch in the Guild hall. Once I had reclaimed my arms and paid the hefty fee associated with having such a fine weapon as my glass katana repaired, I gathered together my equipment, refilled my water skins, and set off for Lake Nabia.

The task Ranis had set for me (several weeks ago at least) was to find a Guild research magician, Manwe, and persuade her to pay her well overdue guild fees. Obviously the situation must have been somewhat prickly: otherwise why would Ranis send someone else in her place? Guild dues seemed to me to be a matter usually left between the Steward and individual members. Perhaps Manwe's chosen research quarters had something to do with Ranis sending me instead: the mage had apparently taken up residence in the 'Punabi' cave system near Lake Nabia, deep in the inhospitable and downright dangerous Ashlands. Indeed, Manwe was apparently close neighbours with a Telvanni wizard that Ranis wanted me to talk to, and convice to join the guild.

To put this in perspective, the Great House Telvanni were all but openly hostile towards the Mages Guild. They were the premier arcane 'family' in Morrowind for thousands of years before the Imperial Mages Guild rode in on the back of the Empire's occupation of the land, and thus they held quite a grudge against us. And Ranis wanted me to persuade this Tharer Rotheloth, a Telvanni wizard of unknown disposition, to join the organisation his House despised. I expected it would be an interesting conversation.

Lake Nabia was some way east of Balmora, and located quite far from any settlements. My map of Vvardenfell indicated that it was just north of the 'Marandus' stronghold; and as I noticed that I remembered that Ranis had in fact cited the stronghold as a landmark. I had not yet actually laid eyes on one of those ancient Velothi buildings, so I supposed I would just have to look for a striking structure near a lake. The name 'Marandus' sounded familiar, and after a quick flick through my notebook (that doubles as a journal), I found that it was one of the strongholds that Folms had told me contained a propylon chamber.

I decided that I would have to get back to finding those propylon indices for the Dunmer enchanter before too long. Being able to simply teleport across to a remote place like Marandus would have been a blessing. It also would have saved me from the trying afternoon that was to come.

Since I couldn't teleport all the way there, I did the next best thing I could, by casting Divine Intervention and instantly covering at least part of the distance there. The Imperial Cult shrine in Fort Moonmoth was the closest to Balmora, so it was from there that I set out.

I made better time than I had expected, finding that I was able to use the Tinur's Hoptoad spell to leap up the steep hills and ridges that would otherwise have barred my way. Once atop a ridge, I would then slide down the gritty, ashen slopes on the other side. Soon I was trudging ankle-deep through the ash and loose topsoil of the Ashlands, the region ringing the massive volcanic Red Mountain at the island's centre. This ever-present ash was one of the main contributing factors to the inhospitable nature of the region: the slightest breeze would lift and carry the drifting ash, whereupon it would infiltrate every crack and crevice of anyone caught outside. What's worse, the wind in the Ashlands is normally not what one would describe as 'slight'.

The wind picked up sometime in the mid-afternoon, forcing me to squint and shield my eyes from the flying ash and grit as best I could. My helmet fortunately came with a scarf that I could wrap around my nose and mouth, but there wasn't much I could do to protect my eyes. Luckily, as the wind really began to howl, I spotted the distinctive shape of an ancestral tomb entrance, built into a hillside.

As I made for the tomb, intending to take shelter within until the ash storm blew over, an unusual movement, spied out of the corner of my eye, caught my attention. At first I thought it was some kind of a bird, or perhaps one of those reptilian cliff-racers - but then, a bird - even a cliff-racer - would not be able to soar about so easily as this creature in such fierce winds. After a short, perplexed moment, squinting through the flying ash, I realised that what I was looking at was a good deal further away than I had first thought, and thankfully so: it was a huge, pot-bellied, dragon.

Almost as soon as I had recognised it, the massive creature beat its wings and vanished up and into the drifting sheets of ash and dirt. I could still hear the whoosh ... whoosh ... whoosh of the dragon's huge, beating wings though, and in the gathering gloom of the storm, I could see the clouds and sheets of ash far above my head lit up here and there by what could only be the beast's fiery breath. Shortly, of course, it occurred to me that standing still in the open was probably not the best idea with such a massive, unstoppable predator around.

The ancestral tomb turned out to be entirely vacant of any dangerous undead or spirits (for a change). I sat for a while near the entrance, with my back to the wall, listening to the muffled wind outside. Now and then I fancied I could hear a fearsome roaring above the whistling gale... the dragon?

A dragon! Creatures so rare that most people did not even believe in their existence. I must admit that until that moment, I too believed them nothing more than a myth. I suppose the area around Red Mountain was so remote and untamed that scores of dragons could potentially live there and no-one would know. I wasn't sure how I felt about seeing a dragon flying about when I needed to hike across country. Some of the tales painted them as noble creatures; others described them as predators; nothing more or less.

Once the ash storm died down, I decided to take my chances, venturing out into the settling ash and dust. The sky was clear of both ash and the dragon, and soon I was picking my way through the soft, black cinders; past boulders, skeletal trees, and later, pits of lava, smouldering with a baleful, dusky red glow.

About an hour later I scaled a ridge and found myself facing the dark, hulking stonework of some Daedric ruins. As I slid down the blackened slope, coughing from the ash I stirred up, I spotted a pair of Scamps in the shadow of of a slanting stone wall. Strangely enough, they appeared to be playing like children; clasping each other's brown leathery hands and skipping around in circles. When they noticed my presence, they began to spin ever faster, stirring up a cloud of dark cinders with their feet. In a short moment they were a blur of movement, until they let each other go, one of the Scamps flinging the other right at me, a bundle of fur, claws, and flashing teeth.

I already had my blade out of course, and I was able to sidestep the flying Scamp and cut it almost in half with an upwards swing. Before the poor creature could breath its last, I quickly placed a Soul Trap spell upon it, then turned to face the remaining Scamp. The beast's claws were no match for the much greater reach of my katana, and soon I had two soul gems with the spirits of the little Scamps in my pack. I felt somewhat ashamed of my actions: the two child-sized lesser Daedra lying in a crumpled heap before me reminded me strongly of Creeper, and as unsettling as the peculiar Scamp merchant could be, I had grown almost attached to him... or it.

I wasn't sure if I believed in the notion of karma, but right then, something happened that presented a convincing argument for its existence. Just as I dispatched the second Scamp, a massive shadow eclipsed my own, and an instant later, the dragon I had seen earlier whipped by overhead, close enough to the ground to raise a wave of ash in its wake. With a tremendous, fearsome bellow, the pot-bellied beast spread and angled its webbed wings to turn a half-circle, before hurtling back in my direction!

I had absolutely no delusions of grandeur: I ran for it - as fast as I could. The closest shelter was the jumbled stonework of the Daedric ruin, and that's what I headed towards. Ahead was a stone wall with a hole large enough to admit an armoured man, such as myself. As I neared the wall, I risked a glance over my shoulder, catching sight of a stream of bright yellow flames pouring out the dragon's mouth, and igniting the cinders in a trail behind my feet. At that moment I leapt through the hole in the wall, timing the casting of my invisibilty spell so that I vanished just as I passed through - disappearing in the billowing fire, ash and smoke that exploded outwards from the wall.

It looked to all the world as if I never made it to the other side.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Stygian said...

I must say, I'm always quite excited when I see a new chapter up. You're doing a great job, sir.

Friday, October 28, 2005 8:45:00 am  
Anonymous Matar said...

I like it, im not a fan a giants and I personally think it really sucks, but you make it seem good!! not an easy feat at all.

You only heard of lilancor in baulders gate but you have never played it in morrowind?? You have to at least try it out, it kicks ass and the more you kill with it the stronger it gets, it also says alot of really funny things the just make my day

some of my fav are

"Oh I like Altmer... AT THE END OF MY BLADE!!"

or

You know people sometimes ask me whats the point in all this killing, and well, since I cant think of an answer I usually run them through.

I was gonna tell you sbout another good mod but I forgot what it was while writing this... (I HATE it when that happens)

well you might not put it in your story but you should at least try it out and dont worry I'll be sure to keep reminding you about lilancor aint I nice !!!!

Anyway cant wait for the next chapter!!

Matar Out

Friday, October 28, 2005 4:26:00 pm  
Anonymous Stygian said...

Isn't it called... Lilarcor? I don't think it's Lilancor

Saturday, October 29, 2005 10:51:00 am  
Anonymous Sneakyarrow said...

I believe Stygian is correct. I realy nead to dl it.

Saturday, October 29, 2005 1:21:00 pm  
Anonymous Matar said...

Lilarcor_v4-1 crap your right I have no idea how I got lilancor out of that...

Well at least you know what im talking about.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 8:50:00 am  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thanks guys.

Matar: I have to admit, that is pretty funny...

- Joseph.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005 11:24:00 am  

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