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.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Chapter 64: A Red Day

In the morning I asked Masalinie to teleport me to the Vivec guild hall. The silt strider platform was just outside, and fortunately I was able to charter a strider to take me across the Ascadian Isles to Suran straight away. From there I struck out to the east, heading along the coast to the Telasero stronghold.

Folms' warnings about the Velothi stronghold were dire - but admittedly vague. Walking along the ashen coast, I was restless in my mind. What had the enchanter seen in his vision of the place? I had never heard anything about Telasero; what was it that people said about it? I began to run, putting my 'Tireless' pants to use. I had to know... I wanted to stop wondering.

I ran through fields of dead, skeletal trees, and leapt over shallow, steaming pits of soft and damp sand. I was coming fairly close to the Molag Amur region; the part of Vvardenfell with the most volcanic activity - after Red Mountain itself, of course. Compared to most of the island, the south coast near Suran was home to terrain that was fairly flat and agreeable to travel on foot. Before very long at all, I crested a hill and beheld the massive Telasero stronghold, squatting in its crater as if some giant thumb had pushed it down into the ground.

No living thing grew near the stronghold - not for as far as I could see - all around; even to the nearby coast. A pall of steam and smoke from Molag Amur hung in the air, and everything was grey; and quiet. There were no windows in the stronghold, and only one way in or out: a massive pair of heavy wooden doors. Taking a deep breath, I readied my weapons and went inside.

I almost immediately dashed back out again: the oppressive atmosphere in the stronghold was nearly too much. The air was sweltering, and thick with the stench of rotting flesh and bodily waste. Inside was as silent as the outside - at least I thought it was. I couldn't shake the feeling that someone or something was whispering to me. Clusters of glowering red candles were strewn about the floor, all down the entrance corridor and the chamber beyond; but they did little more than give a rough indication of the dimensions of each room. Even with the candles it was black as pitch - my Night-eye spell would be a necessity.

The smell was by far the worst part - it filled me with revulsion and horror at what could be the cause of it. I constantly felt as if I was about to retch - but shortly I was faced with a more pressing problem. The entrance corridor sloped downwards from the door, and there was something moving at the base of the slope: it was in the doorway to the large chamber - I could see its silhouette in the candlelight.

With my Night-eye spell in place, I could see it more clearly... but I still had no idea what it was. It was a swollen, obese thing in brown and purple robes, roughly shaped like man or mer, with tiny grey arms sticking out uselessly either side. Its head was truly alien, though: two big black cavities where its eyes should have been, and a long central trunk surrounded by two or three waving tentacles. The beast appeared to have trouble shuffling about very quickly, but then it proved that it didn't need to be near to attack me, its tentacles writhing as it projected bolts of magical ice and fire at me.

Keeping low to avoid its magical attacks, I dashed up to the 'tentacle-faced man' (for want of a better name) and swung into it with the Daedric sword. With an angry, trumpeting cry, the thing lashed out with its dry yet awfully sticky tentacles, battering me about the head. I quickly realised that the creature breathed through the central trunk: it exhaled a cloud of musty, pungent air into my face with every swing of its tentacles.

Hacking away at the tentacle-faced man's swollen body seemed to do little more than put the beast off-balance, so when I the opportunity presented itself, I thrust my blade into the base of its waving tentacles, just beneath the central trunk. With a gut-churning gurgle, the thing toppled over backwards - but before it could hit the ground it dissolved into putrid yellow dust, only leaving its monstrous, deformed skull behind.

Blinking, and shaking my head in an attempt to clear it after the pummelling it had received, I prodded the skull experimentally with the tip of my blade. What in Oblivion's name was that thing? Its grey-skinned arms could have belonged to a Dunmer, but the tentacles...?

Before I had a chance to examine the skull more closely, my still tender head received further punishment at the 'hands' of a rock - glancing off my helmet. I was standing in the large chamber I had seen earlier, and up above me on the opposite wall was a balcony - which held a couple of completely naked Dunmer men. They were throwing rocks at me - plus the occasional stone block that had come loose from the stronghold wall or floor. They made no sound, staring dispassionately my way as they went about their haphazard attack. Their eyes reminded me of the first person I'd ever killed: the woman in the smuggler's caves near Seyda Neen who had attacked me while out of her mind on Moon Sugar. She too had stared into the middle distance, as if not really seeing me at all.

With the aid of my Tinur's Hoptoad spell, I leapt up to the balcony and slammed them each, in turn, into the wall with my shield; knocking them unconscious. Aside from rocks they were unarmed; I didn't want to kill them if I didn't absolutely have to.

I didn't know what kind of opposition to expect, or what numbers I would face, so as I carried on deeper into the twisting passages of the stronghold I tried to remain as quiet as possible. Even so, when I rounded a corner and saw another Dunmer shuffling towards me, I was spotted at the same time. I don't know how he did it - he had no eyes! Nevertheless, his swollen, wrinkled head followed me as I moved - he definitely knew I was there. He seemed different to the naked, rock throwing Dunmer men - he was wearing a soiled grey loincloth for one thing - but he also seemed more ... aware, somehow.

He also threw offensive spells at me with frightening speed - using both hands - one spell after the next. Reflexively, I dived to the side, drawing the power of invisibility about me as I went. The eyeless Dunmer tracked my movement, scorching my legs with an electrical attack. But then I winked out of sight and he stopped, confused! I was surprised, but thankful: since he could 'see' me without eyes, I was half-expecting the Invisibility spell to have no effect on him.

In any case, he was far too dangerous to leave at my back while he was still breathing: I dashed up and sliced him in half with a single stroke, becoming visible as the eyeless Dunmer crumpled to the floor. Magically powerful, physically fragile.

By that time I thought I had mastered my unsettled stomach, but as I pushed through another heavy set of doors at the base of a flight of stairs, my nose was assaulted by a stench somehow much worse than in the above chambers. The reek of decay and bodily wastes was redoubled, but on top of that, and worst of all, was the smell of infection. At that moment I vomited on the floor - I just couldn't control myself any longer; the smell was too much.

I was in a great long hall, interspersed with pillars and the ever-present red candles. The whispering I was now sure I had been hearing since setting foot in Telasero was louder here, but nowhere near loud enough to drown out the sound of a Breton man being violently sick. Doors lining the length of the long hall slammed open, and a crowd of naked Dunmeri people - men and women - boiled in from the adjoining rooms. They all remained unnervingly silent as they came, but every last one brandished a vicious-looking spiked club. I was quickly surrounded by a sea of naked, filthy bodies, clambering over each other to bash my head in with their clubs.

"Stop!" I cried, my sides aching from my fit of retching. "What do you want?"

The naked Dunmer never hesitated for a moment, pressing in around me. Truly they must have been insane. Just then was the worst possible moment for my Night-eye spell to wear off, but that is exactly what happened. The world before my eyes was plunged into darkness, and before I could renew the spell, I felt the first of the blows - on my armoured back. Lunging forward to escape injury, I hacked at a dark shape in front of me, cutting right through one of my attackers, from shoulder to waist. I was hammered with blows from their clubs, becoming bruised and bleeding in a short moment.

Seeing no other means of escape, I drew my shield in to my side (I couldn't see well enough to actively block incoming attacks, in any case) and began to swing the heavy Daedric sword in flat arcs about me, left and right, hacking through the stinking crowd of insane Dunmer. It was too dark to do otherwise: I span about again and again, laying about me with the blade; striking at the merest suggestion of movement. In a moment it was done, and they were all on the floor around me, dead or dying. In a way I was glad that I hadn't been able to see details of what I had been doing - the carnage was, in more than one sense of the word, shocking.

I stepped gingerly over the bodies, nursing my shield-arm. I was hurt - bruised and bleeding all over. The Keeper shirt was doing its job and slowly healing my wounds, but to speed the process I still used my healing spell, letting it gently spread through my body instead of directly applying it to any one area with my hands. It hurt too much for that kind of intricate movement.

I found the trough Folms had mentioned seeing in his 'vision' - or whatever it was he sensed when he divined the locations of the propylon indices. Well, actually I found two troughs, and looked in the wrong one first. I immediately wished I hadn't: the trough was the source of the smell of infection that polluted the hall, being home to hunks of grey and yellow, decaying flesh. Needless to say perhaps, I reeled away from the trough and began retching again, uncontrollably.

The other trough was more agreeable to the senses; it was filled with miscellaneous objects (again, much as Folms had described), most of moderate value: fine clothes, a few weapons - that sort of thing. Besides the Telasero index (to my great relief - I don't know what I would have done had it not been there), a sack of coins and several gems, there was nothing in the trough I needed or would have taken from such a place.

I was about to teleport home when I noticed a brighter, yet deeper, red glow in a small chamber at the end of the hall. I felt drawn to it - by my own curiosity and perhaps some other force. The malevolent whispering in the air became louder and more insistent the closer I came to the red glow. I stopped at the mouth of the chamber, looking in. The whispering and murmuring was making my head hurt, and something about the room felt very wrong.

At its centre was a low, hexagonal platform, adorned with thin red candles that burned brighter than the fat, squat ones I had seen throughout the rest of the stronghold. A vaguely man or mer-shaped statue sat in the centre of the platform. It was a vivid red, with three strangely luminescent 'eyes' arranged like the points of a triangle. It had to be a shrine of some kind: more of the lumps of rotten, infected flesh were piled on a plate in front of the statue. I was certain the statue was whispering to me; but I couldn't understand what it was saying.

I teleported away home. I couldn't take the heat and the stench any longer. I only realised how much of a mess I was when I appeared in the light of the great hall. The main doors were open to allow visitors in to see my small collection of rare arms and armour. I looked a fright: my armour was scored, torn and dented all over, and I was coated in blood, gore and filth.

I instantly regretted teleporting directly back to the castle - especially since we had a few visitors - both in the yard and in the hall. Shooting an apologetic glance at a collection of visitors being shown about the 'museum' by Falorn, I dashed outside and, with the Tinur's Hoptoad spell, leapt over the castle walls to wash myself in the sea. I wanted to spare everyone such a grisly spectacle; but in hindsight, appearing out of thin air, covered in blood, then leaping over the castle walls was probably quite scary in itself.

Falorn came out to see me a moment later, looking quite worried.

He of course wanted to know what had happened, and if I was alright - but for a long while I could say nothing at all. I just stood there and let the waves break over me.


Blogger Star said...

Until now, I've never actually thought of what actually visiting a sixth house stronghold would do to someone mentally. Its amazing how you make bring Morrowind to life with detail like you do.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 2:17:00 pm  
Anonymous Matar said...

:P i like to roleplay when i play morrowind and when he visets a sixth house base it has a different effect on him. :)

Could you tell me, is frosty gonna have any... darker tendensys? My character a kind nice mage but gose a little bit... crazy when things get gory. THough lilarcors remarks dont help his mind any. :P

Hmmm if I made a companioun mod that was the base of my character whould you put it in your story?

... Hell im gonna try and make him anyways. :P

Time for the first insane mage character ever made!... For morrowind!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 7:41:00 pm  
Blogger Malaki Tarion said...

This chapter is by far my favorite so far. Like Star said, the detail was vivid, and almost frightening.

You bring to mind a major sense that is never otherwise represented in morrowind: smell. It would be neat if someone created a realism mod where different locales have different smells (incense in daedric shrines, decay in 6th house bases, etc.) Some smells could have benenficial effects on the PC, while others could have negative effects. Wierd, yes, but it may be cool.

Tarion out.

Thursday, December 22, 2005 2:54:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Commenting the comments)
Hey, hey... Keep the game simple.
I think smells and temperatures are too complicated for a game like Morrowind. That's why I didn't download Zappara's temperature mod.

But in this blog, they are cool as details. :)

Must've felt horrible from Frost to slaughter all that people.

Thursday, December 22, 2005 4:16:00 pm  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thanks, everyone. :-)

Matar: with the inclusion of the companion mod - it would depend on whether or not I get inspired from it.

Malaki and anonymous: A Smellmod... hmm. :-) I guess it could work in a similar way to the Temperature mod; and I *do* like that mod. Especially when going to Solstheim, and you have to put warm clothes on; it reminds me of Ultima 7 part 2: Serpent Isle (Ultima 7 parts 1 & 2 are my 2nd favourite game/s of all time, after Morrowind).

If that makes sense.

- Joseph.

Thursday, December 22, 2005 8:30:00 pm  
Blogger Malaki Tarion said...

I wasn't trying to be overly complex, just a spur of the moment idea.

You know, like canned cheese.

Friday, December 23, 2005 3:34:00 pm  
Anonymous Lord Dnomyar said...

Ah yes, I remember the first time I went to a Sixth House Base. I was scared out of my mind. I don't like the Night Eye Spell so I was walking around nearly blind.

Sunday, December 25, 2005 7:15:00 am  
Anonymous §hade said...

too right - the 6th house seriously freaked me out - especially the base with d. gares in it (hope that's not a spoiler)
So glad I was on xbox so I didn't have realism mods otherwise....*shudders*

Sorry bout the overreaction, but I do serious roleplaying and I sometimes make it a little too convincing and memorable...*sheepish grin*

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 1:22:00 am  
Blogger Meej-Dar said...

Ah, I remember my first Sixth House. I, too, vomited, but that may have had something to do with food poisoning. Never eat Kid Cuisine is all I'm saying.

Friday, July 29, 2011 5:33:00 pm  

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