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 11, 2005

Chapter 60: Faith and Heresy

"You seem... unhappy, Sera Frost." Tuls Valen gazed at my face, his eyes lingering on the glowing crescent-moon mark emblazoned across my left temple and cheek. "Does doing good in this world not please you?"

I had just reported to the monk Valen that I had cured Bulfim gra-Shugarz, the Sheogorath worshipper in the Maelkashishi shrine, of her blight disease. He was pleased to get the Cure Blight Disease potion back; and I could understand that: making them was just as difficult (I'd heard) as finding an apothecary with them in stock. I was unhappy because I still felt guilty over having killed Bulfim's friends - even if it was in self-defence.

"I... killed people in the shrine." I said, staring at the floor before my feet. "I cured one, but killed three. They were Sheogorath worshippers, but..." I trailed off.

Valen placed a hand on my shoulder.

"Why don't you tell me what happened." The monk stood back and waited patiently. Of all the Dunmeri Temple members I had met; he was certainly the friendliest.

So, after a moment's hesitation, I described my visit to the Daedric ruins; from the haphazard descent down the shaft, to how I had cured Bulfim with the spell I somehow 'learned' from Vivec's Ash Mask, and ending with the Orc asking me to leave before her friends saw me - not knowing I had already killed them. Valen was silent for a short moment, though I suspect that it was more out of respect than not knowing what to say: his comments were quite decisive:

"Sera, this may not actually comfort you, but in the eyes of many in the Temple, killing Sheogorath worshippers would not be a bad thing: they are regarded as our enemies, after all. Aside from that, I'm afraid I can't say anything that would not be an obvious platitude." Valen clapped me on the shoulder. "Still, it may be some consolation for you to know that receiving that curative spell from Vivec's Ash Mask is thought of as a great indication of piety. We call that spell 'Vivec's Touch'."

I thought this was curious, and it did serve to provoke my interest and raise me out of the doldrums a little.

"Really?" I asked, puzzled. "But I only recently joined the Temple - how could that be?"

Valen explained:

"It is said that it is not so much a matter of long service to the Tribunal as it is an indication of a great depth of belief and faith. So... yes, as a matter of fact it is unusual for an Outlander and new member to be gifted with Vivec's Touch."

A matter of 'belief and faith', he said. I couldn't help but think that that rang false - at least in my case. Most religions are signified by their members believing in something that cannot be (or perhaps has not been) conclusively proved to others. With the Tribunal Temple, the gods Vivec, Almalexia and Sotha Sil were not only proven to exist, they could be seen by the naked eye (albeit only by the select few admitted into their presence), just like any mere mortal. For me it wasn't a matter of faith - of believing in them: I knew they were there.

"In any case, it's an impressive thing, Sera Frost. Be glad of it." Valen broke across my thoughts. "Now, I do have another task in service of the Tribunal for you, if you wish."

"Yes, alright: I'm ready." I nodded, bringing myself out of my reverie. The more I did for the Temple, the faster I would gain friends, rank, and influence among its members: that was my hope, anyway. It was a slim hope that such influence would grant me access to some Temple secret that could lead to a cure for my affliction, but I had little else to go on.

"That's good. Now..." the Dunmer monk hesitated, "I'd like to be able to say that this task will be easy, but it involves persuading a man against something he must believe in with near-religious fervour. I'm sure you know how difficult it is to successfully argue a point of belief with someone who disagrees with you..."

I groaned internally. I would be more inclined to describe it as 'nigh-impossible'. Growing up in the Imperial Cult orphanage listening to the priests argue religion almost every day had taught me that.

"... but still," Valen continued, "this man, a Dunmer named Elvil Vidron, is by all accounts somewhat mad - so who can say? In any case, Elvil is a 'False Incarnate', claiming to be the Nerevarine. This in itself is heresy; but what's worse is that he is roaming the streets of Suran, shouting prophecies of doom and disaster to all that pass. The Ordinators wish him dead; 'no man, no problem' is their line of thinking - and that is how they usually deal with those who profess belief in the Nerevarine. In this particular case there are many priests in the Temple who agree: saying that someone should be sent to execute this Vidron; because if he is indeed the Nerevarine, then he is protected by prophecy and cannot die."

I got the impression from the way he spoke that Valen did not count himself among those ordering Elvil Vidron's death. What he said next further persuaded me of this:

"As I am bound to the Temple, I must tell you this: if you accept this task, you must agree to kill Elvil Vidron if you cannot find some way to persuade him to give up these heretical views. However I, like you - it would seem - believe that we should work to preserve rather than to destroy. Find a way. Do you know much magic?" I nodded (of course). "Good - use it if you need it. Even if you have to manipulate him, and make him believe that he agrees with us; it would be better than killing him."

I agreed with him completely. I was thinking more and more those days that mastery of the Illusion school of magic was my path to saving my conscience. It may have been the opinion of many that Illusion magic was the domain of thieves and deviants, but if it would enable me to placate or avoid enemies that didn't need to be killed, then it seemed worthwhile to me.

As to the business of 'False Incarnates' and the 'Nerevarine', I was a little lost by the terminology. I had heard the word 'Nerevarine' here and there during my stay on Vvardenfell, but I could not remember where or when, and didn't know who or what the Nerevarine was. Valen obliged me with a brief explanation:

"Lord Indoril Nerevar lived at the time when the Tribunal were still mortal - indeed, he was their friend and comrade; a legendary General of the Dunmeri people. He is a Saint to the Temple, and a hero to the history books. The Ashlander people have a prophecy that Nerevar will be reincarnated as the 'Nerevarine'; a figure who will - according to their prophecy - unite the Dunmer and drive the 'invaders' (that would be the Imperial Empire) from Morrowind; so restoring the ancient Dunmeri nation." The monk paused to draw breath, and I strived to make sense of the torrent of information. He continued: "As for us, the Temple says this is heresy: a profane superstition. The Ordinators are - usually - set upon those who profess to believe in this prophecy."

Even hearing all this for the first time, I could tell that Valen had given me only a basic overview of the issues at hand. Nevertheless, it seemed straightforward enough, at least on the level at which I would be dealing with it. Vidron held beliefs that the Tribunal Temple forbade (for whatever reason), and was actively trying to convert others to this belief - at the top of his voice.

My task was to argue religion with a madman. It was not my idea of an enjoyable afternoon.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Imperial Empire souds redundant. Kind of made me laugh.

Monday, December 12, 2005 7:02:00 am  
Blogger Joseph said...

I know what you mean about it sounding redundant; but in this case it isn't, since 'Imperial' is a race/nationality. It'd be like 'Breton Empire', if they had one. :-)

- Joseph.

Monday, December 12, 2005 11:00:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you could have said Cyrodiil Empire, because Imperials are often referred to as Cyrodiil in Morrowind.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 10:45:00 am  

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