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, December 09, 2005

Chapter 59: Septims

Folms was quite surprised when I delivered two propylon indices at once - and that's putting it lightly.

"Do you understand how unlikely the chances were?" The enchanter studied the Falensarano index I'd found at the top of the shaft in Maelkashishi, and was apparently satisfied that it was genuine. "As far as I know there is only one of each of the ten index types on the island. That you should just stumble across one is ... quite incredible, Mister Frost."

Once he recovered from the mild shock, Folms paid me for both the indices - a thousand drakes (always welcome) - and told me the location of the next index on his list.

"I've divined that the next one, the Indoranyon index, is in the personal collection of Divayth Fyr. Have you heard of him? No? Well, he's a somewhat famous Dunmer wizard - largely because of the mysteries surrounding him; as he has allegedly lived for thousands of years." It was my turn to be surprised. As I have mentioned, I knew that Dunmer, like all elves, lived far longer than humans - but not for tens of centuries - I had never heard that before. Folms went on: "He's something of a recluse, and a collector of artefacts. So... you might have some difficulty persuading him to part with the index. Be careful: one thing that is not rumour is that Divayth Fyr is very, very powerful. Here, get out your map, I'll show you where he lives."

Divayth lived in 'Tel Fyr', which I had learnt meant 'Tower Fyr' - or 'Fyr Tower', I suppose. It was on one of the shattered islands in Zafirbel Bay, south-west of Sadrith Mora. I decided to leave it for a short while, in any case. If the index was in the personal collection of a powerful wizard, it was not likely to be going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Matters at Wolfen Castle required some attention.

Nothing urgent, but something that would be beneficial to deal with sooner rather than later. Falorn and Idaynia, the Dunmeri general merchant I had hired to aid the groundskeeper in preparing the buildings in the castle yard for use as shops, had informed me that morning that they were ready to begin receiving visitors to the castle. They had asked me if I was ready to open the great hall to the public too; as the museum.

I had items ready for display - various suits of armour, mainly; some complete, others only piecemeal - but I didn't know how to best display them. Falorn, ever the useful font of local information, told me of a 'specialty' shop in Vivec: the House of Mannequins. It was located in Vvardenfell's main centre for the arts and crafts industries, the massive Saint Delyn canton, and apparently stocked display mannequins sturdy enough to bear the weight of even Daedric armour (if deployed in a conservative pose).

Glad to have the rest of the day off from travelling and fighting (as the latter seemed inescapable whenever I went anywhere), I teleported across to the Mages Guild hall in Vivec, and walked out to the armourers' shops in the Foreign Quarter plaza. With me I took the ornate, gold-inlaid daikatana. While it was a fine and beautiful weapon, it was not exactly a rarity or artefact by any stretch, so I sold it instead of putting it in my new museum. Neither of the armourers had the drakes to buy the blade outright, so in the end I traded it for money and several other fine weapons (glass daggers and the like) that I would sell on later.

I bought a number of carved wooden mannequins at the House of Mannequins; they were expensive, and heavy, but the workmanship was exquisite. After I added a small bonus on top of the cost of the mannequins, the shop owner was happy to arrange for the bulky and cumbersome items to be carried down to water level at the edge of the canton and taken by gondola to Wolfen castle that very moment. There was a small stone wharf just outside the castle walls - I asked that they be dropped off there.

Back at the castle, I had a look at what Idaynia and Falorn had done with the previously unused buildings in the yard. I soon found that the reason the pair of them had managed to have the place ready for visitors so soon was that not much work had actually been necessary. The buildings had previously been used to house stores of supplies for the castle, so they were easily adapted to hold stores of items to sell to visitors. Falorn had also arranged to have several resin-coated wooden tables (each with a complement of chairs of the same material) to be placed around the yard for the visitors' use.

Idaynia reported that she had the logistical side of things sorted out: the regular delivery of stock and other supplies for the shops, inventories, logbooks; that sort of thing. She had also arranged the hiring of another merchant with the representative from the Lord's Men company in Vivec - something we had spoken about earlier. There were two buildings we were going to use as shops, and Idaynia couldn't attend to both at once, after all.

It all looked good; I was impressed with their work. There were all the makings of a successful little ... I wasn't quite sure what to call it, actually. A 'service centre'? What I meant was that we had all the services an outpost or small village (or, specifically in our case; Ebonheart) could need. There was Idaynia's general store, and another store for the things Ulfred the smith would craft. We would even have the services of a mage, if Yanika could be enticed out of the laboratory. Perhaps she could even enchant items to be put on sale alongside Ulfred's wares.

These thoughts ran through my mind as I carefully piled the various suits of armour near where I planned to display them in the great hall. The mannequins were due to arrive soon. I was startled from my reverie by Falorn. He had someone with him: a green-robed Imperial with streaks of grey in his hair.

"Master Frost," Falorn said, "this is Calvus Essagan. He tells me Apelles Matius sent him." The Bosmer and I exchanged glances. We knew very well that Matius was not happy that I had taken possession of Wolfen Castle before the Imperial Legion had had a chance to do so.

At that moment I was unfortunately holding a piece of Dwemer armour - one of the few I had found amongst the belongings of bandits and smugglers a while back. I know I've previously expressed my reluctance at having anything to do with Dwemer artefacts, because of the Imperial government making it a law that only they can trade in them, and because of how distinctive they are; but I had found Dwemer armour to be too fascinating to resist. At any rate, there I was holding a Dwemer artefact in front of a man who had to be an Imperial official... it was just plain bad luck. I put the armour piece down and shook the man's hand.

"Ah, yes: you must be the ... er - official Apelles told us to expect."

Calvus gave a pleasant smile.

"Yes, that would be me." The Imperial paused, his gaze travelling about the great hall - lingering, to my chagrin, on the pile of Dwemer armour. "Quite a place you have here, Mister Frost. I think I can see why Matius is concerned. Well," he corrected himself, "why the Legion is concerned, I should say."

I offered him a seat at the table near the fireplace. Sitting down, Calvus drew his eyes away from the hall to regard me again.

"It's quite a well-defended castle, being surrounded by sea and all - and quite close to their fort at Ebonheart. That's what has them worried, I think." He gazed into my eyes, rubbing his chin. "Not to worry, though: I can see you're setting up some shops here, rather than plotting something... nefarious." He gave a wry grin. "And we certainly have no problem with that: it would be good for Ebonheart - not much to buy there, besides a drink at the Six Fishes."

Calvus was turning out to be quite a personable man - though of course I shortly discovered that he was after something.

"Still," he said, opening a small satchel at his side and leafing through the sheets of paper inside, "there are a few things I need from you. Now, as I said, we have no problem with you operating shops from here, but you do need a permit to do so in an Imperial province." Calvus laid a sheet of paper with fine print on the table in front of me. "Also, about the Dwemer items..." I clenched my teeth. "You're not planning to put those up for sale, are you?"

I wasn't quite sure of his intentions, so, cautiously I said:

"No - I'm not quite sure what to do with them, actually. This other armour here," I indicated the piles about the hall, "I'm putting on display... a museum, in a way."

Calvus began searching through his satchel again.

"Well, usually we ask that anyone who finds Dwemer items hand them over to an Imperial office - trade laws, and all that. However, in this case I think we can work something out, if you wish to put the Dwemer armour on display with the rest." The Imperial fished out another sheet of fine print and laid it before me. "A permit is required for that, too."

I was surprised.

"There's a permit for that?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Of course. You're not the first to want Dwemer items for a personal collection. If I remember correctly, there's some Redoran lord or other in Ald'ruhn with a personal guard all decked out in Dwemer armour. Can't imagine where he got it all from... In any case, if you wish to open those stores, and put that armour on display, I'll need you to sign those permits."

Calvus nodded towards the sheets of fine print before me, again leafing through the papers in his satchel. I read through both documents as quickly and closely as I could. The obscure language peculiar to legal writings made my head ache, but I became satisfied that they meant exactly what the Imperial official said; I would not be signing over possession of my castle to the Legion, or anything like that. Calvus waited patiently for me to finish, and then said:

"Before you sign anything, Mister Frost, there are administrative fees associated with the permits. One thousand septims for each."

And there it was: apart from the legal documents the Imperials were so fond of, Calvus was after money. It may have just been my background, but 'administrative fees' always sounded like 'bribes' to me. Still, if it kept the Imperial officials happy and (more importantly) away, then I reasoned that it would be worth it.

"Finally, there is this 'declaration of intent', for the Legion." He handed me yet another document, which I read even more closely than the permits. Basically it amounted to a signed declaration that I promised not to gather a force in my castle with the purpose of attacking them, or somehow undermining their interests in the area. It was something I had no trouble signing, in other words; because why would I want to attack the Imperial Legion? Even if I had a reason to, doing so would be lunacy: the name 'Legion' was a very fitting description for them.

So I signed Calvus' forms, gave him his money, and thanked him for coming. He had been polite enough about the whole thing, but as I watched him go I still muttered a few choice words about Imperials and their bureaucracy.

Calvus had put me in a foul mood. I had been enjoying getting things in order at the castle, but at that moment I just wanted to get out on the road again.


Blogger HopeDagger said...

Another wonderful entry. I'm a great fan of your journal. Keep up the awesome writing! :)

Saturday, December 10, 2005 3:11:00 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home