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, November 06, 2005

Chapter 45: Relief

The Golden Saint I summoned was better armed than the one I fought on the island near Dagon Fel. It was carrying a massive, two-handed glass sword, hanging loosely from one hand. The spell-scroll I had bought from Folms Mirel crumbled and blew away, and I gingerly stepped up to the immobile Daedra, which appeared to be waiting for me to tell it to do something.

While it did nothing more than tilt its head to the side in apparent curiosity when I cast Soul Trap on it, the Golden Saint whipped the glass claymore to the ready as I struck a solid blow to its head. I had summoned the creature just outside the town limits of Caldera: that way I could run to the guardsmen for aid, should the Saint become too much for me. Truth be told, though, I might have died of embarrassment had it come to that: running from my own summoning, with all of Caldera looking on.

I, of course, was wearing my full set of Netch Adamantium armour again, and was glad of it, as I was hard pressed to block the Saint's lightning-fast strikes. After another long, hard fight, I eventually dispatched the Golden Saint in much the same way as I had the last one: by snapping its metallic head off. This time, however, I managed to back the Daedra up against a low boulder, so that it fell onto its back, across the stone. From there I was able to jump up next to it and break the thing's head off with an almighty stamp of my armoured boot.

The Daedra, of course, gave me several nasty cuts to my legs as I did this, but when it was over and I had healed myself, I finally had the soul of a Golden Saint; trapped safely in Azura's Star. There was only one thing left to do.

"It's been a long road, hasn't it?" Folms remarked, taking my fine shirt, folded neatly, and with Azura's Star glittering away on top.

On the table between us were several large sacks of coins, plus one of the many inhabited soul gems I had in keeping. Altogether there was around thirty-one thousand septims worth of goods and currency on the table; and that was almost all the cash I had to my name. I had been burying caches of drakes in the wilderness south of Balmora - near the river Odai. Vvardenfell was certainly a frontier region: it had no banks. Vvardenfell citizens with the amount of money I had been saving up generally had their own store-rooms - or even vaults - to store their money and valuables in; not to mention their own guards to protect said valuables. Someone like me had to improvise.

The experience of paranoia that went along with sneaking into the wilderness in the dead of night to bury money acted as a reminder for me: I really needed my own place. At that stage I just couldn't afford it, though: all my money was going towards the enchantments needed to make my life somewhat more bearable (plus longer, of course). I didn't know what I would do.

Folms disappeared into the hall's 'alchemy tower' with Azura's Star and the shirt, apparently to protect whatever secrets went into his enchanter's craft. In the meantime, I tried to occupy myself through study: the Caldera Guild hall had several volumes that the Balmora hall lacked. During Folms absence, a lithe, muscular Argonian porter came in and ferried away my fortune in coins to parts unknown. I guessed that as a master enchanter, Folms was well-used to storing and handling vast sums of money.

After an hour or so, Folms returned, his Dunmer eyes looking a little redder than usual. With a weary smile, he placed the shirt and Star on the table in front of me. The shirt shimmered strangely in the candlelight, and felt wonderfully soft and soothing to the touch. It was most definitely enchanted.

"Try it on." Folms murmured, sitting down heavily across from me. I pulled my robe off (my armour was back at the Balmora guild), and slipped into the shirt. Instantly, the pain that had been building, yet again, behind my eyes - melted away.

I heaved a deep sigh of relief. Finally.

"Thankyou, Folms. Very much." I reached across and shook the Dunmer's hand.

"You are quite welcome." Folms replied. "Enchanting with Azura's Star was a real pleasure, I must say; it was actually easier than usual. Oh - before I forget: It is customary to give enchanted items a name, so... I'll be your witness, should you think of one now."

I gave it some thought, and said:

"This healing enchantment is supposed to keep me alive for longer, according to Healer Synnolian, so; what about 'Keeper Shirt'?"

Folms gave one of his small smiles.

"Simple names are often the best. Very well, I hereby witness the creation of Edward Frost's 'Keeper Shirt'. Now, I'm sure you can tell that the enchantment is working, but, should you wish to test it..." The enchanter drew a silver dagger from somewhere beneath his robes and slid it across the table to me.

I was curious, so, clenching my teeth, I took up the dagger and opened a small cut on the back of my hand. It still hurt as usual, but within a matter of seconds, the wound had completely closed up.

"I'm sure I've said this before, but the enchantment in that shirt is nowhere near as powerful as your average healing spell." Folms took his dagger back. "Given enough time, it could heal any wound - save the one that kills you - but do not rely on it to protect you in combat; it works far too slowly for that." I nodded, and assured him that I understood. "Excellent. The good news, though, is that I included my own little speciality in the enchantment: any rips or tears in the shirt's fabric should repair themselves on their own: the shirt's own little regeneration effect." Folms grinned. "For any major damage to the shirt - extensive burns for example - just bring it to me, and I'll repair it."

Thanking the Dunmer again, I took my leave.

The creation of my 'Keeper Shirt' marked the beginning of a week or so in which I felt at something of a loss for what to do next. I spent much of the time in study, scouring the books in the Mages Guild in the vain search for something to cure my condition. As usual I would visit Creeper every day to sell him more soul gems, meaning that as long as I had gems to sell, I had a steady income of around five thousand septims a day: most certainly nothing to sneeze at.

The day after obtaining my Keeper Shirt, I paid an overdue visit to Master Healer Synnolian, at the Imperial Chapel in Ebonheart. He was, of course, astounded by what had happened to my face, but could not offer any better explanation for it than Folms' theory. He did say that he had little doubt that the moon emblem was ultimately responsible for my 'transformation': the crescent-shaped mark on my face made that much abundantly clear to him.

Synnolian was in no doubt that I was who I claimed to be - after laying his hands on me and detecting the magicka leak I carried. While examining me, he took the opportunity to check the condition of the leak - and my body's reaction to it - and the news was, well, not exactly good; but not bad either. In Synnolian's words:

"I'm afraid the leak is still much the same, Mister Frost. Fortunately, though, the enchantment on that shirt seems to be helping: I'd say you have a good seven or eight years now, as long as you only take that shirt off when you or it needs a wash." The healer's broad face broke into a mild grin.

When Synnolian had laid his hands on me, I had gazed out the window, off to the south of the Chapel. In the distance, half-obscured by mist from the sea, I spied a castle I couldn't remember noticing before. It seemed to rise right out of the water itself. Once Synnolian had finished his examination, I asked him about it. His response was slightly... odd.

"That? I don't really know anything about it. You might want to ask one of the Legion soldiers about it. They're more keen on castles and forts and such than I am."

The castle soon turned out to be quite the mystery: I asked several soldiers about it, and they all gave me variations on the same vague answer: it was hidden by mist or fog most of the time, and no-one knew much about it. They all said that nothing out at the distant castle had changed for as long as they had been posted at Ebonheart, and they all spoke with a 'now that you mention it' kind of manner. I got the impression that no-one had ever much cared about the castle: until just then.

It was strange. How was it that no-one even knew if the castle was inhabited or not? As we talked about it, the soldiers and I became more and more curious. For me, that could mean only one thing: I set out immediately to have a closer look at this mysterious castle. A beaten dirt path led south-west from Ebonheart, following a narrow, lightly wooded peninsula. After ten minutes or so, the path came to a very long and narrow stone bridge, cast across a wide stretch of water. The impressive bridge was lined with parapets on each wall: it looked like a large force of archers could take up an excellent defensive position on that bridge. Ships would have a difficult time approaching the bridge from the sea in such a situation.

I jogged across the bridge, my eyes fixed on the castle on the other side. It completely dominated a tiny island; in places, the castle walls were only several paces from where the rocky shore dropped off into the sea. As I approached, I saw that the ramparts were unmanned, and the portcullis set in the towering wall a little way from the bridge was open. The castle was built in a similar style to the ubiquitous Imperial forts, though in sharp contrast to every Imperial fort I had ever seen, this castle was not bustling with activity.

It was a little eerie. I could hear nothing but the waves crashing against the rocky shore of the island. I passed beneath the portcullis and into a paved courtyard. The pavings were uneven and taken over by grass and creeping plants in places, but a short distance away, up against the modest keep, was an immaculate flower garden. I walked over to have a closer look, and just about yelped out loud in fright when a wrinkled, leathery-skinned Bosmer man popped up out of the flowering shrubs, stretching his back.

"Well, hello there!" The Bosmer said. "Can I help you, sera?"

I soon learned from the weathered Bosmer - named Falorn - that the place was called Wolfen Castle. He had quite an interesting story to tell.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this chapter is really cool,it's one of my favorites.
The castle sounds cool too,I can't wait to see what happens!

Sunday, November 06, 2005 2:40:00 pm  
Blogger Star said...

This story only gets better with time. Well done! Will you continue on with this story after Elder Scrolls 4 comes out?

Monday, November 07, 2005 7:41:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you use on the screen shots to give them the "bloom" effect?

Monday, November 07, 2005 7:53:00 am  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thanks, everyone. :-)

Well, I plan to continue the story until it is finished - and I do have an end in mind. With the way I write Frost in Morrowind, I have no idea about most of what will happen between here and there (or even if the end will still be the same by the time I get there); but if Oblivion still comes out when it's supposed to, Frost in Morrowind won't be finished until quite some time after that.

Okay, the "bloom" effect (deep breath). There are two techniques I use; the first is a simple one I thought of myself, and is the one used for all the screenshots except the three most recent (the ones in the "Relief" chapter). The second method is one I learned on a forum recently, and is similar to the first, but a *little* more involved. They each give different effects, so, you know, experiment. Anyway:

You will need photoshop or The GIMP to do this. (Other programs can probably do this too, but these are the programs I know). The GIMP is similar to photoshop, and is open source too. You may also need some basic photoshop/GIMP skills to do this. Use google to find photoshop tutorials, and go here to learn The GIMP.


These steps are exactly the same for photoshop and The GIMP:

1) Open your screenshot. It is best to use the bmp file placed in your Morrowind directory.

2) Duplicate the only layer there - the background layer.

3) Change the blending mode of the duplicated layer from 'Normal' to 'Screen'. (You may want to try different blending modes on different screenshots, but 'Screen' is what I always use.)

4) Now, with the duplicated layer still selected, choose Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur from the menu along the top of the window. Experiment with different blur values in the window that pops up to find one that suits your screenshot. (I usually use a value of 4 for 1152x864 resolution screenshots). Click OK and you're pretty much finished: you have a 'bloom' effect.

5) Optional - Tweak the Levels of one or both of the layers to get the brightness and contrast right. This will also affect the 'bloom' level of the image: if you used the 'Screen' blending mode, making the background layer darker - compared to the duplicated layer - will increase the 'bloom' effect, making the image blurrier.


Again, steps are the same for photoshop and The GIMP:

1) Open your screenshot.

2) Duplicate the background layer.

3) Now, with the duplicated layer still selected, choose Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur, and give it a relatively large value (I usually use a value of 20 for 1152x864 resolution screenshots).

4) Now, duplicate the blurred layer, giving you three layers altogether.

5) Change the blending mode of the topmost layer to 'Screen', and the blending mode of the middle layer to 'Multiply'. Leave the background layer as it is.

6) Change the transparency of the 'Multiplied' layer to between 30-50% (well, set it to whatever works well for you, but this is what I normally use).

7) Change the transparency of the 'Screen' layer to around 70% (again, experiment).

8) That's pretty much it. Just fiddle around with the transparencies of the duplicated layers to get the look you want, and maybe with the levels to get the brightness/contrast you want. Changing the levels of the background layer is easiest.

Hope that helps. If anyone has problems, post another comment.

Monday, November 07, 2005 12:37:00 pm  
Anonymous Matar said...

juyst relized there was a new chapter. not much to say for this chapter except for is the castle mod any good?? I myself really the the Daedra Manor by Trylobit its not really a evil house mod (unless you want it to be) andit has everything I could need but then agine I really daedra stuff :P.

wll thats all I have to say

Matar Out

P.S if you haven't allready try Trylobits Daedra Manor its really nice... but you may not like the daedra style

p.p.s I use p.s allot dont i :P

Monday, November 07, 2005 6:08:00 pm  

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