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, December 04, 2005

Chapter 57: Treasure through foul waters

In contrast to my mood, the morning weather in the western Ashlands was bright and sunny. Trusting my enchanted belt, I leapt from the very top of the steep ridge near Maelkashishi, using 'Tinur's Hoptoad' to increase tenfold the distance I could jump. My heart still leapt into my throat at the sight of the barren wasteland laid out far below me; I didn't think I would ever get used to being able to fall so far without coming to harm.

I came to land in a great plume of dust and ash, and set off for Maar Gan at a steady pace. My jump from the ridge had let me sail over much of the rough terrain between it and Maar Gan, saving me some time; but I still had a long way to go that day.

My destination was the camp of the Urshilaku Ashlander tribe: the location of the Valenvaryon propylon index; according to Folms. The Dunmer enchanter had divined that the current location of the camp was on the north coast of the island, some way east of the village of Khuul. I was able to take a silt strider from Maar Gan to Khuul, and from there I struck out along the coast.

The terrain between Khuul and the apparent location of the camp was quite rough, like much of the Ashlands: full of ridges, ravines, boulders, and always the great drifts of black ash. I skirted around all that, using my water-walk spell to run across the surface of the sea, just off the coast. Off to the north-west, far in the distance, I could see the dark green coast of Solstheim. I fancied I could feel a chill breeze blowing across the water; the island was supposed to be mostly frozen wastes of snow and ice.

Apart from the far-off vision of Solstheim, there was not much to see during the dreary trip. I passed the time by attempting to run along the crests of the breaking waves; not easy, considering that even water-walking on a still, placid lake is like walking on slippery ice.

Such was my need to occupy my mind with something other than feelings of guilt over the events of the previous day, that I could not help but stop and explore a cave I found along the way. The most interesting thing about the entrance to the cave, and the other thing that had attracted me to it, was that it was situated very close to a Daedric ruin. I wondered if it could be a back-entrance to some underground Daedric structure. The name 'Ibar-Dad' scratched above the entrance didn't sound much like a Daedric name to me - but still; who was I to judge?

I made my way through the gloomy chambers of the cave as quietly as I could, my invisibility spell in place. The brightly burning torches along the cave walls made it obvious that the place was inhabited, and I wanted to avoid bloodshed if I could. I think I felt the need to atone - again, for the events of the previous day. I needn't have bothered with the spell, in the end, for the female Altmer necromancer I encountered saw right through the illusion with a single glance.

She did not even start, or make a sound: with a wave of her arms, she summoned a large bonewalker. The beast erupted from the cave floor in a shower of fiery sparks and lumbered towards me, arms outstretched. Not wanting to come within reach of the bonewalker's draining attacks, I cast a Frostball spell at its feet, and then another: effectively freezing it in place, with its rotting feet stuck to the floor.

The necromancer was no fool. Upon seeing that her minion was incapacitated, she waved a hand and dismissed it back to wherever it had come from, before summoning another one in its place! She was too dangerous: I would never get close enough to use my 'Calming Touch' spell - if it would even work on a mage as obviously powerful as she. Side-stepping a crackling bolt of electrical energy, I pointed one hand at the summoned bonewalker and the other at the Altmer woman, then proceeded to pummel them with Frostball spells.

They both expired at about the same time, and were left standing, frozen in shells of ice. The body of the bonewalker vanished with the death of its master, leaving an empty ice cast behind. The necromancer's neutral expression had never changed, the whole time: and now it was literally frozen in place.

The chamber in which I had disturbed the Altmer woman was home to a makeshift laboratory, study and camp; with alchemical equipment, books and spell-scrolls strewn about on a couple of rude tables. One of the books was open, and the ink on the final page still wet: the woman's journal. I skimmed through the pages, reading about what had brought the necromancer to Ibar-Dad caves. Her writing revealed her to be quite driven; she had been searching for an entrance to the underground chambers of the nearby Daedric ruins. Elante (for that was her name, according to the journal) made vague reference to some kind of 'treasure' to be had there, in 'Mordrin Hanin's tomb' - and this naturally piqued my interest.

The late Altmer's journal also revealed her to be more of a general summoner than a necromancer: she wrote of binding Scamps into her service as diggers. The last entry in the journal, the one Elante must have just finished writing when I stumbled across her, mentioned that the Scamps had broken through to a lost passage containing Daedric stonework. She wrote that she could go no further until she had brewed potions to let her pass through the foul water on the other side of the breach.

It was just too perfect: a potential treasure cache, lost for ages; and all the heavy excavation work done already. And since the summoner Elante was dead, that left the treasure all for me - if it existed, of course.

The wooden beams shoring up the freshly dug passage at the back of the cave system were easy to find, and beyond it lay the breach Elante had wrote about. While not quite as rancorous as her words had led me to expect, the dark water still reeked somewhat, and left me feeling light-headed. As was often the case, my magic allowed me to go where many others couldn't: with Night-Eye and water-breathing spells in place, I waded into the foul water.

The underwater passage was quite long and winding, and was littered with haphazardly scattered blocks of Daedric stonework. The water made my eyes sting, and my bleary vision put me at a distinct disadvantage when I eventually emerged from the pool at the other end to face two Dremora.

Each sent a roaring ball of flame towards me, and I was able to dodge one - which actually set the surface of the pool behind me alight - but the other burst at my feet, just about setting me alight. My Netch and Adamantium armour was flame-retardant to an extent - so I at least did not instantly catch on fire - but the flames leapt up all around me, right up to the cave ceiling. The intense heat was agonising; I staggered to the side to escape the fire-burst, somehow managing to focus enough to successfully cast 'Dispel'. The spell instantly negated the magical flames, as if they had never been. Giving a silent vote of thanks that the spell had actually worked ('dispelling' magic was often fickle), I charged to the attack.

Rushing headlong to meet two enraged Dremora may sound foolhardy, but I had little choice: each of the armoured Daedra wielded weapons of fearsome length - a spear and a massive, two-handed daikatana, respectively. Even worse, by the flash of the red and black metal, I could see that both weapons were Daedric in origin. I could not hang back and use magic: the demons were likely as not to simply catch my spells and hurl them back at me. The chamber was too small, and their reach was too great for me to do anything but charge in and stay close enough to limit the effectiveness of their huge weapons.

I was able to keep the Dremora with the daikatana mostly off-balance through keeping the ground at his feet slick with magical ice; allowing me to deal with the other one. I stayed close enough to the Dremora to prevent it making full use of the razor-sharp tip of its spear, and pummelled the thing's helmet with my glass katana. The Dremora used its spear as a war-staff instead, and I received quite a bruising from the metal shaft. Before too long (thankfully), I got in a strong enough blow to break the demon's helmet half-off its shoulders, banishing its invisible spirit back to Oblivion.

As the first Dremora crumbled to dust, the other lurched out of the darkness to my side, its massive daikatana raised high above its head - and mine. I span around, whipping my shield up and into the Daedra's 'head'. The side of the shield connected with its temple, and with a piercing shriek, bent the helmet to the side; leaving a jagged cleft in the thing's neck. The stunned creature stumbled sideways, its blade falling to its side. Before it could recover, I thrust the blade of my katana into the Dremora's neck and pulled downwards with all my might. My ploy worked perfectly... almost: The Dremora's helmet snapped off, 'killing' it instantly, but at the same time, my katana broke in half. Glass weapons may be very sharp, but they are brittle if mistreated.

And so it was at the worst possible moment, with my primary weapon broken in my hand, that a nearby Daedric door ground open and spat forth a Golden Saint. The thing carried a blade in each hand: a glass kama and a long, heavy-looking 'wrist-scythe'. With alarming speed, the powerful Daedra sprinted up and swung into me with both blades at once. I dropped the broken katana and brought my shield up, but the frightening strength of the Saint ripped it from my grasp and sent it clattering off into the darkness.

I was pitched backwards, down through the still-crumbling remains of the second Dremora's armour. I landed flat on the cave floor, the Daedric daikatana digging uncomfortably into my back. Thankful as ever that Dremora tend to leave their powerful weapons behind when banished, I rolled away from the Golden Saint's follow-up blow, grabbing the Daedric blade as I went. Jumping to my feet, I gripped the massive (and very, very heavy) blade in both hands, span around in a complete circle, and swept the daikatana into the Saint's metallic head.

With a shriek that signified either pain or the twisting of metal, the Golden Saint was knocked completely off its feet, sprawling to the ground a short distance away. Even after such a savage blow, the thing was not yet dead, though its head was bent completely to the side, as if resting on its shoulder! The creature got to its hands and knees, but before it could get any further, I leapt across with the blade raised above my head and brought it down upon the thing's neck, killing it.

Reeling from my wounds, I staggered across the chamber to support myself against the cave wall. My head swam from a combination of the pool's noxious fumes, adrenaline, and blood loss (I hadn't completely avoided the razor-tip of the Daedric spear). It took a while to persuade the healing magic to come.

Once I was healed and feeling better, I was able to collect my shield and broken katana, and take proper stock of the chamber. My dive through the foul water and the savage fight that had ensued were already worth it: the weapons of the three Daedra were worth a fortune: especially the Daedric spear and daikatana. Just holding it, I could feel that the balance of the daikatana was superb, and the blade, being made of Daedric metal, was by all accounts the sharpest and most durable I was ever likely to find. Its only drawback was that it was incredibly heavy. I decided to keep it for my own use (I doubted I could find anyone who could afford to pay what it was worth, in any case), but I would leave it at the castle, keeping it in reserve until such a time as I had need of a really, really big sword.

I was already very fortunate with what I found, as I said, but beyond the door that had produced the Golden Saint was the treasure cache Elante had written about! And it was just ... incredible. I could do nothing but stare for a long time.

In an instant, my worries about finding the money to support the running of Wolfen Castle were behind me.


Blogger Malaki Tarion said...

Yes! Frost finally made it to Ibar-Dad, one of my personal favorite caves:)

Ive been reading your blog since July, and I have to say its a great piece of MW fan fiction. You do a really great job of bringing realism and life to Morrowind in a way that the game itself doesn't.

I also have a question. Are you writing the story pretty much as you go along, or have you played the game in the recent past and are now putting a deeper story to it.

Overall, you have a great work going on here. Keep it up!

Sunday, December 04, 2005 3:09:00 pm  
Blogger Joseph said...

Somehow I always forget about Ibar-Dad caves - I'm always surprised when I stumble across them.

Thanks Malaki - glad you like it.

In answer to your question, it's a bit of both. I take notes and screenshots as I play, and write the story from that; so a lot of unexpected (for me) stuff happens. At the same time, I have an overall storyline in mind (which *is* in motion already) - though parts of it might change depending on what happens as the story progresses.

- Joseph.

Sunday, December 04, 2005 4:38:00 pm  
Anonymous Matar said...

Ibar-dad is that the place the shull-crusher is? i forgot.

Anyway thats all i have to say. Matar out

Sunday, December 04, 2005 5:05:00 pm  
Blogger Malaki Tarion said...

Ibar-Dad is where a very nice shield is (not giving away name for fear of a spoiler) along with TONS of other loot. (again, I apologize if ive inadvertantly given away a spoiler)

Monday, December 05, 2005 12:53:00 am  

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