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 30, 2005

Chapter 68: Six and Seven

Hasphat Antabolis was not in the Fighters Guild training room when I returned. A guild member directed me to the nearby Eight Plates public house - where the weapons trainer was having his evening meal. The handsome Imperial man was not difficult to find in the crowded public house; he was sitting alone (though judging by the stares a couple of young women were giving him, probably not for long) at a table, elbows sticking out to the side as he sawed away at a sizeable slab of grilled meat.

I slid into the seat across from him. Hasphat glanced up, and said, with his mouth full:

"Hungwy?" I shrugged, but nodded. The trainer raised his hand to catch the attention of the Dunmer woman behind the bar, and with his mouth still full, called out: "More food over here!"

I waited until he had swallowed before placing the Dwemer puzzle box in the centre of the table. His eyes lit up.

"Ah - good. Very good! You got it... The food's on me, then." He gave a wide grin, momentarily abandoning his heaped plate to study the metal cube, turning it over and over in his hands. "Not too difficult, I hope?"

"I've had more pleasant afternoons." I said shortly. "They usually involved less broken ribs and spilt blood."

Hasphat looked me up and down briefly. There was little evidence of my rough expedition into Arkngthand, as I of course was fully healed; and my battered armour was currently with Ulfred, being repaired.

"Not... officials, I hope?" The trainer gave me a funny look - but I shook my head to dispel any notion that I had been discovered looting the ruin by Imperial officials, and had fought my way out.

"No. Looters - and those damned walking machines."

Hasphat looked a little sheepish, but gave a small smile regardless.

"Ah - well, I couldn't have known that anyone else would be there... though it seems fortunate you went no later than you did. In any case," he gestured with the puzzle box before putting it down and returning to his meal, not pausing to explain what the box did or why he wanted it; "I greatly appreciate this. And don't worry yourself: I'll tell you what I know about the Sixth House - I've even got some notes about it here somewhere that you can give to Caius." He patted down a few pockets before locating and fishing out a folded sheet of paper, which he tossed across to me.

My food arrived just then, and Hasphat proceeded to give me a small history lecture over dinner.

"Now, you know the five ruling Great Houses of Morrowind?" He began to count on his fingers. "Hlaalu, Redoran, Telvanni, Indoril and Dres. A long time ago - in the First Age - there used to be seven ruling houses - House Dagoth was the sixth of those houses; hence the name the 'Sixth House'. As a sidenote, House Dwemer was regarded as the seventh house."

Dagoth... that word again. For a moment I was at a loss as to where I had heard it before - but then I remembered: the 'guidebook' for the Tribunal Temple's Pilgrimage of the Seven Graces, 'The Pilgrim's Path', had said to beware the 'minions of Dagoth Ur' when inside the Ghostfence. Could these two things be related - or simply share the same name? I asked Hasphat; he seemed a bit put out of stride at the question.

"Yes, I was coming to that - hold on... Well, alright: 'Dagoth Ur' is another name for the Red Mountain region - as I understand it - so 'minions of Dagoth Ur' would likely be the blighted creatures found there." The trainer paused to gather his thoughts. "So... Houses Dagoth and Dwemer betrayed the other houses (some religious disagreement or other) and brought about the War of the First Council - which culminated in the 'Battle at Red Mountain'. In this battle, House Dagoth was eliminated. It is also thought that it was at this time that the Dwemer mysteriously disappeared."

Hasphat paused to take a couple of mouthfuls of his dinner. This gave me a chance to digest what he had told me so far. It was quite interesting, to tell the truth: I had previously been given the impression that the Dwemer were actually another race to the Dunmer - not simply one of the great ruling clans of the dark elves. (I was later to discover that this view of things was not strictly accurate either).

"Now -" Hasphat continued after taking a great swig of sujamma, "all members of House Dagoth were either killed or adopted into other houses, so House Dagoth is gone. Completely dead and finished thousands of years ago... makes me wonder why old Caius wants to know about it." The Imperial trainer gave me a wink. "Although come to think of it, the Temple says that the ancient, legendary evil beings that - apparently - live under Red Mountain are actually the original leaders of House Dagoth, if you can believe it. They maintain that some 'powerful, evil sorceries' are keeping them alive. The Temple says a lot of things, though."

The trainer pushed away his plate, finished, and leaned back in his seat, mug of sujamma in hand.

"So that's that - and that's more or less what I wrote in those notes there." He indicated the folded piece of paper he had given me. "Now, as to the Nerevarine; that's something I don't actually know much about..."

And he was right: everything he told me I had heard before, thought Hasphat underlined again how the Tribunal Temple persecuted 'heretics' who believed in the Nerevarine prophecies; something I knew firsthand after my experience with the false prophet in Suran. Hasphat finished by saying:

"... in any case, tell Caius that Sharn gra-Muzgob, over at the Mages Guild, would be a better person to ask about native faiths and superstitions: I only know the history."

I groaned internally, wishing he hadn't said that. Surely not Sharn gra-Muzgob, the Orcish healer who had considered her own sleep more important than coming to heal me after I had been mortally wounded by one of the Dark Brotherhood assassins! She was one of the most difficult, disagreeable people I had ever met. If Caius wanted me to get information out of her...

I thanked Hasphat for his help (though I did not much feel like it after the trouble he had put me through), and made my way across town to report back to the spymaster.

Caius looked at me over the top of Hasphat's notes.

"Yes, there's nothing about the Nerevarine here. You're saying he recommended Sharn gra-Muzgob?"

Involuntarily gritting my teeth, I nodded.

"Well, that's alright; I know Sharn. Very smart - for an Orc," he added, almost absent-mindedly. "She has a somewhat unhealthy interest in the dark arts, some would say, but she knows what she's talking about. Thankyou for this;" Caius gave the sheet of notes a flick with his finger; "this is good. However we do need more information on the Nerevarine, so I'll need you to go talk to Sharn. You would already know her anyway, correct? Same arrangement as with Hasphat: she'll probably have some silly errand for you to run - but do it - and find out what she knows."

I nodded, but my opinion of Sharn gra-Muzgob must have been plain on my face, for Caius grinned and said:

"Oh come now, she's not all that bad! I think you'll find she warms to you if she feels she's gotten something worthwhile out of you." He clapped me on the shoulder, and turned to file away Hasphat's notes on the Sixth House.

Whatever the spymaster's view of the cantankerous Orc, I would leave it for the morning. I had had enough aggravation for one day.


Anonymous Stygian said...

Holy ****.

You used the word 'Cantankerous!'

That's, like, my second favorite word! You rock!

Friday, December 30, 2005 3:53:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now all he has to do is use "funtastic". ;P

Btw, "Thank you" is two words.

Saturday, December 31, 2005 4:20:00 am  
Anonymous Matar said...

I... still live... you may have tried to stab me to death but I live!

Before I go to the hospital I must say Lilarcar (cough cough weez)

On that note what dose Cantankerous mean?

Saturday, December 31, 2005 10:58:00 am  
Blogger Joseph said...

Stygian - thanks; but if that's your 2nd favourite, I have to ask: what's your favourite word? :-)

'Thankyou' is acceptable in every dictionary I've seen... I think it's another one of those things that can be used either way.

And 'funtastic' is not likely to make it into the story. ;-)

Matar: 'cantankerous' means 'bad-tempered'.

- Joseph.

Saturday, December 31, 2005 11:21:00 am  
Anonymous anondescriptname said...

You're on the Internet, so use it. ;)

Saturday, December 31, 2005 4:28:00 pm  
Blogger Meej-Dar said...

I think 'thankyou' and 'thank you' fall under the same category as 'armor' and 'armour'. It just depends on the region you are in. The spelling of words like 'armour' and 'favour' are why I read this story with an English accent. I just can't help it.

Friday, July 29, 2011 6:12:00 pm  

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