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 25, 2005

Chapter 66: This for that

"Look, I'm going to be honest with you: about your approach to these Dark Brotherhood attacks - or, rather - your lack of approach... I just have to say: stupid. Very, very dim." Caius Cosades shook his head gravely.

I was a little taken aback, and momentarily at a loss for what to say. The spymaster went on:

"I can understand not wanting to poke your nose into a nest of professional assassins who seem to have it in for you; probably quite sensible of you - at least initially - but really, you should have come to me straight away."

I gave a small sigh. There seemed little point in objecting to his manner: I had previously considered getting Cosades' opinion on the attacks, but the truth was that at the time, I simply didn't trust him. Now that he was demonstrating his resources as an Imperial Spymaster by showing how much he knew of my recent actions, I was more inclined to believe that he was who he claimed to be.

"You're probably right, Caius... but by the same token, I haven't been sitting back and waiting for another assassin to come after me; I've been training, and studying magic."

"Martial arts and sorcery... they have their place. I'm certainly glad to hear you've been learning such things; but what I'm talking about is in a realm outside acts of direct physical violence." The old Imperial man stood up and stretched. His muscles bulged as he moved, obvious even beneath the shirt he wore. He was patently a physically capable man himself, despite his years. He continued: "Information. I can help you. I know people in Mournhold; I'll make some inquiries. It's doubtful that I can find out why they're after you - the Dark Brotherhood is just as secretive as the Blades - let alone reach some kind of peaceful resolution, but I believe I can tip the scales in favour of you not winding up dead."

It was quite generous of him, considering I hadn't yet done a thing in service of the Blades.

"Well... thankyou!" I said. "I'll admit I had little idea how to ... approach the problem. I'd heard the nearest concentration of Dark Brotherhood was supposed to be in Mournhold somewhere, but not much else."

"You're quite welcome. I have to look after my interests, of course; such as you - you're no good to me dead. Speaking of which, I have some orders you can carry out while I get in touch with my contacts in Mournhold."

And there it was: no help for free. I wasn't complaining, though; it seemed fair enough to me. The matter of the Dark Brotherhood assassins had been a dark shadow in the back of my mind for far too long; that they hadn't paid me a visit in months made it worse, in some ways. Every night when I went to bed I had to fight back the creeping fear that that night might be the one: that I might not wake up again.

I motioned for Caius to give me his task.

"Right now I need information about two potentially related secret cults: the 'Nerevarine' and 'Sixth House' cults."

"The Nerevarine?" I interrupted him. "I've heard about that..." I told him about my dealing with the 'False Incarnate' Elvil Vidron, in Suran, and what little I had learned at the Temple about the Nerevarine prophecies.

The spymaster looked thoughtful at my tale of the False Incarnate, and appeared to be only half paying attention when he said:

"Yes, it seems like everyone is talking about the supposed reincarnation of this Indoril Nerevar." Caius rubbed his chin. "All I know about it, beyond what you just told me, is that these prophecies say that the Nerevarine will be an 'orphan and outcast', born on 'a certain day to uncertain parents'. The Sixth House cult is supposedly related in some way, but apart from that, all I've heard about them is that they're apparently behind ... certain strange events of late."

Caius sank back down onto his bed.

"In any case, your orders are to go see Hasphat Antabolis at the Fighters Guild here - he's an amateur local historian, of sorts - and ask him what he knows about the Nerevarine and Sixth House cults. He and I have an arrangement: we trade information for favours; so, with you being my proxy in this case, he'll probably have some job for you to do before he'll give us anything. And that's it. Clear enough?"

I hesitated. The old Imperial obviously wasn't telling me everything he knew... and I hated it, but I just had to ask:

"Yes, although... can I ask why you're collecting this information?"

A faint smile played across the spymaster's lips.

"Well... you're free to ask - but I'm not free to say; I'll put it that way."

I grunted, mildly frustrated. As I have mentioned before, I had a natural tendency to try to satisfy my curiosity; and if I couldn't, I was unhappy. At my obvious lack of enthusiasm, Caius added:

"Don't fret; I'm sure you'll do stellar work, and I'll be able to promote you soon enough. Then I'll be able to tell you things I know, and not just things I need." The Imperial motioned towards the door. "Now, off with you - I have some people to talk to if I'm going to find out anything about these nasty boys in black."

It only took several minutes to reach the Fighters Guild from Caius' hut - it was actually right next to the Mages Guild. I was glad to be out of the old Imperial man's presence: he had proven to be occasionally abrasive in his manners. I never knew when he was about to make some insulting, offhand comment. Well, at least he was mostly civil... and he had offered to help me with my Dark Brotherhood problem.

"So, you're with Caius, eh?" Hasphat Antabolis, an Imperial weapons trainer, looked me up and down. I did the same: he was hardly the stereotypical 'historian-type'. In fact, with his rich, straight, dark brown hair and strong features, he looked the kind that would have the young ladies of Balmora swooning. "What does the old man need this time?" His smile was disarming.

I filled the Imperial in on Caius' request. Hasphat nodded.

"Yes, he was right: I can help, and I will need something from you, first. Have you been inside a Dwemer ruin before?" Hasphat, who had been in the middle of an active training session when I came in, began running on the spot. "Caius may have told you this, but I like to study history: mainly local Morrowind history and the Dwemer. There are some Dwemer ruins just outside Balmora, called 'Arkngthand'. Inside is a small artefact I want to study: a 'puzzle box'. It's a metal cube, about the size of your fist, with a circular design and other symbols on the side. If you can bring that cube back for me, I can help you."

I glanced at the Imperial's students, a short distance away. They were talking amongst themselves, and appeared to not be listening. As I have mentioned before, dealing in Dwemer artefacts was illegal; and so I knew the reason behind Hasphat sending me to the nearby ruin.

"You know this thing is there - you know exactly where it is, and yet you haven't fetched it yourself..." I narrowed my eyes at him. "You want me to run the risk of being caught looting a Dwemer ruin - rather than you - is that it?"

Hasphat gave an infuriating grin.

"You're a sharp one, Frost... which means you should have little trouble."

Again I found myself before a Cyrodiilic man with a somewhat galling manner, and again I could do little but sigh. Of course I had my own small collection of Dwemer armour pieces in my 'museum' - but then I had recovered those from smugglers and bandits - and I had bought an expensive permit so I could count myself as exempt from unwanted 'official' interest in the matter. That was a little different from directly sifting through a prohibited historical site and stealing what I found. I rubbed my chin, thinking it through. If the worst potential outcome should befall me and I was caught, I could probably plead ignorance of the 'specific allowances' of my permit, or somesuch...

I shook the irksome thoughts off and, now in a decidedly foul mood, accepted Hasphat's terms. Dancing around self-serving Imperial laws on a fetch-and-carry mission seemed like such a waste of (my very precious) time, but I would do it anyway...

I sighed again. I had my reasons.


Blogger Joseph said...

I'd just like to wish everyone a very politically incorrect (apparently) Merry Christmas! ;-)

Best wishes to all, anyway.

- Joseph.

Sunday, December 25, 2005 12:22:00 pm  
Anonymous Carnivore said...

I'm surprised you updated, it being Christmas eve and all. I hated the fact that the puzzle box was the first mission. I wandered around in that place for days before I figured out where it was. And I had a map!

And, Happy Non-Denominational winter-related celebratory event!

Sunday, December 25, 2005 4:13:00 pm  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thanks Carnivore. :-)

Well, it's actually already christmas day here in Australia, and not winter either. :-P

I write Frost in Morrowind ahead of time, so if I get a spare moment alone with internet access, I can post a chapter at the scheduled time, whatever day it is...

- Joseph.

Sunday, December 25, 2005 8:16:00 pm  
Anonymous Matar said...

Ah nice chapter


Woops sorry sliped out.

If your wondering when i'll stop... after the mage mission sence you wont be by there after that.

Dont get me wrong i would like you to get lilarcor but if you dont i'll understand.

And i'll start everytime your by Seyda neen.


What dont look at me like that! Hey put the knife down!


Monday, December 26, 2005 5:55:00 am  
Blogger Malaki Tarion said...

To all Seinfeld fans, Happy Festivus!!!! But I'm celebrating a wonderful Christmas here in sunny Florida. The Weather was a frigid 50 degrees!!! (lol)

Oh and Joseph, do you have a blogger profile anywhere. I swear I'm not like some kind of creep, I was just curious as to some of your other interests. (namely...

Represent Florida, Australia, and Ireland, the awesomest (if not grammatically correct) places in the world!

Peace and Merry Christmas

Tarion out.

Monday, December 26, 2005 1:11:00 pm  
Blogger Joseph said...

You know, I thought I had put something in my blogger profile - but it turns out that I hadn't; obviously.

And now I have. :-)

- Joseph.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 1:53:00 pm  

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