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, January 04, 2006

Chapter 70: Intent

My feelings regarding Ranis Athrys were complicated. As I have mentioned, I felt indebted to her for taking me in and letting me stay in the Mages Guild hall at a time when I was weak, poor, and hunted by Dark Brotherhood assassins. She also gifted me with two very powerful magicka threads that doubtless saved my life on many occasions. At the same time, however, she held her gifts and kindness over me to coerce me into doing her dirty work.

Her latest 'official task' ('official' denoting that it would be counted when considering me for promotion in the guild) was an assassination - and she made little attempt to couch her desire in pretty-sounding terms:

"I believe that Tashpi Ashibael, in Maar Gan, has been practicing necromancy. As I'm sure you can understand, Morrowind branches of the guild cannot tolerate necromancers... I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to kill her."

Her words struck me as false: if she had truly listened in on the conversation between Sharn gra-Muzgob and I that morning, during which the Orc had as good as admitted to being a practitioner of the dark arts, how could Ranis expect me to believe that her grounds for having this 'Tashpi Ashibael' killed were because she was a necromancer? The Steward had one in her own guild hall! Ranis read my hesitation correctly, as she often (and quite unnervingly) did:

"You're wondering why gra-Muzgob is still here." The Dunmer woman's gaze was piercing. "Well - I know what she's been studying. I obviously know what she asked you to do for her today." Her eyes strayed to my pack, which still held the skull Sharn had asked for. "But if Sharn gra-Muzgob is a necromancer, then I'm a naked Nord." She smirked. "She likes to study forbidden and taboo topics, but I've never known her to actually do anything with what she learns."

I was still unconvinced, and again this must have shown plainly on my face. Ranis became somewhat irritated:

"Look Frost, you've killed before. You've killed necromancers before! Find Tashpi Ashibael and kill her - if you wouldn't mind!"

In the end I told her that I would. I kept to myself my intention to ask around Maar Gan about the supposed necromancer first, to see what I was dealing with.


Sharn gra-Muzgob was pleased with the skull, and placed it carefully in a wooden chest near her desk.

"Perfect - thankyou." The Orc sat back down at her desk and rummaged through a mess of paper. "So. You wanted to know about the Nerevarine cult? It is an Ashlander cult. They believe that the long-dead hero General Indoril Nerevar will return as the 'Nerevarine', to honour ancient promises made to the Ashlander tribes. According to their legends, the Nerevarine will restore the traditional ancestor worship to the whole of Morrowind by 'casting down the false gods of the Tribunal'. Oh - they also say that the Nerevarine will drive the 'outlanders' from Morrowind. That would include the Empire, I guess." Sharn snorted. "They'd have their work cut out for them, if that's the case. The only reason the Temple hasn't stomped on the 'heretical' Nerevarine cult members is that they are so few and so widely scattered in the wilds that the Tribunal's finest are too lazy to chase after them. Not many Ashlanders left anymore."

The Orcish healer found what she was looking for - a few sheets of paper - and handed them to me, saying:

"There. Rather than repeat what I've already written, you can take those notes on the cult and read them yourself, yes? Or just give them to Caius - whatever you please. I need some space here now, though; so..."

I left her alone, and settled at a table across the hall's main chamber to look through the Orc's notes. I hadn't known that the Nerevarine cult was an Ashlander belief; I was (mildly) curious to see what else she knew. Sharn gra-Muzgob's notes were fairly extensive, and I won't bore you with the details (I only briefly skimmed through them myself), but a couple of things caught my interest.

One point was the promise Indoril Nerevar made to the Ashlanders: he said he would 'honour the Ancient Spirits and the Tribal law', and that he would 'come again to honour that promise'. He did not actually promise to drive the outlanders and Imperial invaders out of Morrowind, or to destroy the Tribunal gods; the Ashlanders merely chose to believe that doing such a thing would be necessary to honour his promise.

Another was the point that there was more than one prophecy regarding the Nerevarine, and that some of them were actually lost; apparently because Ashlanders passed their knowledge and history down from one generation to the next verbally: they never wrote them down. Some carelessness (or duplicity) along the way caused several of the Nerevarine prophecies to be lost.

Still, as I walked across to Cosades' hut, I couldn't help but wonder again why the spymaster wanted information on the Nerevarine cult - and on the Sixth House, for that matter. Sharn gra-Muzgob's notes did say that the Empire was also opposed to the cult: perhaps that was it; Caius was part of some concerted effort to put a stop to it.


Caius remained tight-lipped about his intentions, however, merely saying:

"Notes on the Nerevarine cult? Excellent. I think you've demonstrated that you can follow orders well enough - and," he grinned, "without getting distracted along the way. This," the old Imperial said, signing a sheet of paper, then folding and affixing a wax seal to it, "is my notification to my superior that I am promoting you to Blades Apprentice."

I was mildly surprised; I had actually forgotten my previous rank of 'Blades Associate'. In my mind, Caius was my superior and I followed his orders (in the context of Blades business); simple as that. As a matter of fact, I was unsure if my promotion would entail any noticeable change...

"Well - thankyou!" I gave a small bow. "What does this mean?"

The spymaster spread Sharn's notes out on his small table. He seemed anxious to read them.

"Apart from discounts for the services of the Blades trainers, it means I can give you more difficult and dangerous assignments. But right now, Mister Frost, I need to read these notes; and you need to deal with your friends in black. I've heard back from a contact in the King's Royal Guard in Mournhold."

I couldn't help myself:

"Do you know why they were trying to kill me?"

"Were trying to kill you? I'd imagine they still are; they're probably just finding it difficult to keep up with you when you're not in your fortified and guarded castle, with all the teleporting about you do! But in answer to your question," Caius said, shaking his head, "I'm afraid I don't know. All my contact could do was confirm that there is a Dark Brotherhood cell in Mournhold, and that it can be found somewhere in the catacombs under the city. He recommended searching the sewers under the Great Bazaar; most reports of the Dark Brotherhood come from that area." The spymaster paused. "He also recommended that anyone actually looking for the Dark Brotherhood should take a strike force with them. But then," Caius clapped me on the arm, "he doesn't know you, or the things you've done."

"For my part," the grey-haired Imperial continued, "I recommend that you get yourself over to Mournhold as soon as possible - no, forget that - I recommend that you go today or tomorrow, and give those boys in black a talking to. Do you know Asciene Rane, in the Grand Council Chambers in Ebonheart?"

I nodded.

"Yes: a Legion officer... Apelles Matius, told me about her teleportation service to the mainland."

At Matius' name, Caius gave me a strange look.

"Young Matius told you, did he? Hmm..." He frowned for a moment, as if in thought. "Well, in any case, feel free to stop by later to talk strategy; but for now, get out of here and let me read. I'll likely have some new orders for you once you've finished your business in Mournhold."

I left him to it, teleporting back home for a late lunch. A couple of the castle guards were in the mess hall for the same reason, but I ate in silence, pondering my Dark Brotherhood problem. There was no question in my mind that I had to do something about the threat of having my throat cut in my sleep. But what would I do? A strike team, the spymaster's contact had said... While I obviously had a retinue of guardsmen at my command, I had hired them to guard Wolfen castle; not assault a cell of legendary assassins.

At any rate, I had no clue about directing a squad in battle... and my offensive spells mostly had an explosive radius that would prove hazardous to any allies. Swallowing my lunch became more and more difficult, the more I thought about it.

I would have to go alone.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Stygian said...

I left him to it, teleporting back home for a late lunch. A couple of the castle guards were in the mess hall for the same reason, but I ate in silence, pondering my Dark Brotherhood problem. A strike team, the spymaster's contact had said... While I obviously had a retinue of guardsmen at my command, I had hired them to guard Wolfen castle; not assault a cell of legendary assassins.

I left him to it, teleporting back home for a late lunch. A couple of the castle guards were in the mess hall for the same reason, but I ate in silence, pondering my Dark Brotherhood problem. There was no question in my mind that I had to do something about the threat of having my throat cut in my sleep. But what would I do? A strike team, the spymaster's contact had said... While I obviously had a retinue of guardsmen at my command, I had hired them to guard Wolfen castle; not assault a cell of legendary assassins.


You posted that paragraph twice with only minor changes.

>_>

Wednesday, January 04, 2006 12:38:00 pm  
Blogger Joseph said...

Curses! I guess it shows my draft-revision work in action... when I make a mistake, at least.

Fixed it now.

Thanks for pointing it out, Stygian.

- Joseph.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006 1:59:00 pm  
Blogger Star said...

Your first paragraph points out something I've wondered about for awhile -- Ranis. At times it has seemed as if she had a crush on Edward, being so kind to him, giving him the threads, other times it just seems like she is using him, holding those gifts over his head to force him to do her bidding. If memory serves, after the necromancer there is only one quest for Ranis left, the spy. I can't wait to see how you bring Trebonis (Sp?) to life in your story. Given your ability to bring Morrowind to life with details, Trebonis should come across as being dumber than a bag of rocks. I love how you have made complicated emotions with Ranis and Frost though, makes it feel real.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006 2:13:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The third word of the 12th paragraph should be "than"

Thursday, January 05, 2006 10:12:00 am  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thankyou, anonymous. (Who was that masked man?)

Fixed it.

And thanks, Star. :-) Yes, I've had some ideas for a while on how to portray Trebonius...

- Joseph.

Thursday, January 05, 2006 10:26:00 am  
Anonymous Matar said...

Ah I see a difference in character between you and me :)

Frosty: I didn't pay them to fight the dark broother hood.

Me: You better fucking help me or I'll chop your fucking heads off!

o.O

:P

Friday, January 06, 2006 8:29:00 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home