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, January 01, 2006

Chapter 69: Ulterior motives

"What?" Sharn gra-Muzgob grunted in irritation, looking up from her book. "What do you want, Frost?"

I decided to be direct - the Orc would likely lose interest and cease to listen to me, otherwise.

"Caius Cosades tells me he knows you. He asked me to get some information about the Nerevarine cult from you; apparently you're the person to talk to around here when it comes to local faiths and superstitions."

"Superstition. Yes." With a long, bent fingernail, Sharn tapped the open book she had been reading. "Lots of superstition here. Such as the dark elves' so-called hatred of necromancy. They put necromancers to death if they can! But then they summon their own ancestors back from the dead, to guard their tombs; their own homes, even! Sacred necromancy is good, but academic necromancy is evil. Hah! It's just superstition. They should just give up the act and admit they don't care; like the rest of the Empire."

Caius had mentioned Sharn gra-Muzgob's interest in the dark arts... that would be where her frustration came from, I'm sure. I glanced down at the open page she had indicated. It seemed to be part of a history of laws regarding necromancy in the Empire. The Orcish healer went on:

"Anyway... Caius. Yes. He and I have a satisfactory arrangement; he has been quite helpful with some of my studies." Sharn's attitude towards me had certainly changed when I dropped the spymaster's name. She was talking to me, for one thing. "And the Nerevarine cult? I do know a lot about it. So. You help me with my studies, Frost, and I'll help you with yours - just like good Mages Guild members should."

She gave a humourless half-smile, and continued without waiting for me to reply.

"I will need you to - quietly; for your benefit and mine - retrieve the skull of Llevule Andrano. It's in the Andrano Ancestral Tomb south of Pelagiad, just off the road."

I was not surprised at her request, but came to understand the reason for her unprovoked diatribe against the Dunmer people's attitude towards necromancy. Sharn gra-Muzgob was obviously a necromancer herself - or overly interested in becoming one. It did not serve to improve my opinion of her; I'll say that much... but I was interested to learn that the spirits and undead things that infested Dunmeri ancestral tombs were actually summoned there by the tombs' owners. I didn't know that.

The Orc gave me some more detailed instructions on how to find the Andrano tomb and identify the skull she wanted: she said that Llevule Andrano was an enchanter, and certain ritual markings had been carved into his skull on his death. I felt on the verge of objecting outright to Sharn's request, but then for my own part, it was not as if I hadn't stolen from tombs before. The 'Mentor's Ring' artefact on my finger was evidence enough of that. Stealing bodily remains was quite a different affair, however...

In the end I merely sighed (again), and agreed to her terms.

I was heading for the guild hall's front door when Ranis Athrys appeared from the upper stairwell and grabbed my arm.

"Hold a moment, Frost; I'd like you to do something for me." She paused, but did not let go of my arm. "I won't pretend: I was listening in on your conversation with Sharn. Talking to someone is a little unusual for her, so... it caught my interest." Magical eavesdropping was common practice in the guild hall - but still ill-mannered, in my opinion. Ranis continued: "Such things that Orc says."

Her expression was unreadable. I wondered how she felt about Sharn gra-Muzgob's comments on the Dunmer people and their traditions. In any case, I decided to ignore the Steward's questionable motives and behaviour, and asked her what she wanted. It had been a while since I had performed any tasks for the Mages Guild, and I still felt indebted for the many weeks Ranis had put me up in the hall's sleeping area.

"Since you're going to Pelagiad... are you going right now? Yes? Good. Since you're going that way anyway, I have someone that needs to be escorted to the Halfway Tavern there. Ask for 'Itermerel' at the Eight Plates. He's expecting someone from the Guild this morning. This can be your next official task for the Guild. Speaking of which..."

Ranis waved her free hand in the direction of the hall's main chamber, and the muted sounds of conversation - plus the not-so-muted sounds of Galbedir and Ajira locked in argument - abruptly stopped. Some kind of 'Silence' spell, I assumed. The Steward leaned in to whisper in my ear, tightening her grip on my arm.

"What I really want from you here, Frost, is Itermerel's research notes. Make no mistake: I don't care what you have to do - I don't care if he even makes it to Pelagiad - just get those notes!" She released my arm, and gave me a clap on the back in dismissal.

I stared at Ranis, shocked at her attitude. Her eyes widened in irritation when she saw I wasn't leaving.

"Go!" She exclaimed, with an exasperated wave of her hands. She stood with her arms crossed, watching me until I left. As the door closed behind me, I could hear that the voices of the other guild members were restored: there was much indignant shouting, and Ranis saying: "Sorry - my apologies everyone; I was trying a new spell..."

Itermerel, as I had expected by his name, was an Altmer; and as friendly and genteel as Ranis Athrys was unsettling and self-serving. He did seem to have an irrational fear of the unguarded roads between the towns, as he often asked me to walk on ahead to "keep a lookout". I could see why someone like that would want an escort to Pelagiad: there was no convenient transport to the inland village. No ships, of course - and caravaners didn't take their silt striders there, for some very important and ingrained reason that nevertheless escaped me. No teleportation services either... there was an Imperial Cult shrine in the fort there, but I suspected that the large Imperial Chapel in Ebonheart was in awkward proximity... I had never tried it, but Divine Intervention spells cast near Pelagiad would probably take one to Ebonheart, rather than the village.

What this amounted to was that we had a walk of several hours ahead of us: down the Foyada Mamaea and along the western shore of Lake Amaya. It wasn't too difficult to get Itermerel talking about his research: I just mentioned that I had heard his work was considered to be quite significant in some circles. I think he was glad to have something to occupy the time. He spoke at great length of his studies in the area of 'Oblivion Streams'; and even after listening to him for the final two hours of the hike, I still had no idea what Oblivion Streams actually were.

Still, it sounded as if it would be interesting if it were not so incomprehensible, and I asked lots of questions; mostly engineered to keep him talking. I had decided quite some time ago that I would do everything in my power to avoid carrying out any of the darker hints Ranis made when giving me assignments, and I was quite pleased when my (somewhat) feigned interest paid off. During the trip I noticed a roll of parchment sticking out of the leather satchel Itermerel carried at his side, and 'guessed' aloud that the pages contained his research notes.

When we finally reached the Halfway Tavern in Pelagiad, the Altmer paused before saying goodbye, looking thoughtful.

"I must thank you for seeing me here safely," he said, "and for listening to me babble on about my work. It's been some time since I've met a young one so interested in such things."

I saw my opportunity, replying:

"You're quite welcome. It all sounds very interesting, though I'm unsure how much of it I really understood!" I laughed. "It's difficult without seeing diagrams, I think."

At that, Itermerel did exactly as I had hoped, removing the roll of parchment from his satchel and handing it to me.

"Here: take this with my compliments. Don't worry; they're not my only notes on the subject - just a copy. I was going to give them to... ah, here she is now." The Altmer man waved to someone across the room. "I was going to give them to my friend over there, but I can make another copy later. No, no, it's quite alright: consider it a gift for escorting me here."

And it was as simple as that: appealing to his vanity. Itermerel departed presently to meet his friend, and I was left to skim through his research notes on Oblivion Streams. They were just as impenetrable as his lecture had been, but it was what Ranis wanted, so I rolled them up and secured them inside my pack.

Sharn gra-Muzgob's directions to the Andrano Ancestral Tomb were excellent, and I found the distinctive entryway without trouble. It was very similar to the errand I ran for Hasphat Antabolis, all told: I suspected that Sharn knew her way to the tomb (and doubtless many others) very well, but left it to others to run the risk of being caught or killed inside the tomb itself.

The tomb, while plunging much deeper into the ground and more heavily haunted (or perhaps I should say 'guarded') than others I had seen, was otherwise unremarkable. It was still cold, dangerous, unsettling and filled with eerie whispering, but the Andrano family tomb contained nothing I hadn't seen before. I found the skull of Llevule Andrano, adorned with swirling etchings, near the deepest part of the tomb.

After gingerly placing it in my pack, I teleported away, bound for Balmora to see if Ranis and Sharn gra-Muzgob were happy with my work. Still just an errand boy for the mages.

Or so it would seem to those looking on.


Blogger Joseph said...

Happy new year, everyone. :-)

- Joseph.

Sunday, January 01, 2006 1:44:00 pm  
Anonymous Matar said...

Happy new year!

Sunday, January 01, 2006 4:17:00 pm  
Anonymous lord dnomyar said...

Yes, Merry Start of the Year 2006.

Sunday, January 01, 2006 7:04:00 pm  
Blogger Malaki Tarion said...

Happy New Year to all!!

(Overstated but appropriate)

Monday, January 02, 2006 1:58:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I kind of forgot about that.

Monday, January 02, 2006 7:23:00 am  
Anonymous dabigpman said...

Happy New Year and a Contiuance of a Great Story. Lets give that Joseph character a round of applause. *clap*
*clap* *clap*
*clap* (APPLAUSE) *clap*
*clap* *clap*

Post Script: what exactly were the wolfens. i just got it for the pc and all i found was the journal.

Monday, January 02, 2006 11:48:00 am  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thanks, dabigpman. :-) The Wolfen Castle mod is actually unfinished (by the original author), so that mystery is never explained.

Someone did finish off the mod, but as far as I know it just opens up the buildings and rooms that are otherwise permanently locked in the original version.

- Joseph.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006 2:51:00 am  
Blogger BlueNight said...

I just finished those quests. We took the silt strider (at double cost) to Seyda Neen, then walked to Pelagiad. On the way, we ran into a Nix Hound. I readied my mace, but before I could strike, Itermerel shouted a battle cry and let loose a powerful spell.

Itermerel's ranged area electric attack killed the beast, but brought me to the brink of death! After I healed, before we continued, I had an interesting thought: why not get him to help me in Andrano tomb?

We cleared that tomb in record time; I'm glad I didn't try to kill him myself. I got lots of Spark Arrows and a new bow, along with the skull, and I didn't get a scratch on me!

Very useful to have a powerful ally. And he positively enjoyed it!

Monday, October 29, 2007 3:00:00 pm  

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