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 11, 2006

Chapter 73: Fear and anger

I sliced again and again, putting great effort into every swing - but I couldn't hit him! The (apparent) leader of the Dark Brotherhood cell simply sidestepped or ducked my every attack, contorting his body in seemingly impossible ways. His speed was incredible, and he made absolutely no sound as he fought; no sound of exertion, no intake of breath as he narrowly avoided my blade, again and again.


I hefted the massive Daedric daikatana above my head and cut downwards, predictably hitting nothing but air. The assassin had shifted neatly to the side; and before I could lift the heavy two-handed blade back to the ready, his whole body seemed to ripple up from his feet, a wave passing through him to culminate in his arm, his elbow slamming into my jaw with terrific force. I staggered back, trying to keep myself from moving my jaw until the enchantment in my 'Keeper' shirt healed any damage that might have occurred. The assassin fired another spectral arrow while I was off-balance, and I only just managed to clumsily dive out of the way: the arrow passed through my breastplate (again, as if it wasn't even there) to tear a hole through the flesh under my arm.

From my prone position I sent a Poisonbloom spell at the wall near his head, hoping to keep him from leaping on me before I could get up. He turned his head to avoid the blast and the resulting cloud of acidic poison; and that was my chance. I leapt up and swung diagonally downwards, through the obscuring green cloud of poison. I felt the daikatana connect with something, and for an instant my hopes were raised. The assassin rolled out of the green cloud, his conjured Daedric longbow broken in two; but he was unhurt! He had blocked with the longbow and rolled away, moving with the force of the blow. He effortlessly bounded back to his feet, a shining adamantium short-blade suddenly in his hand (the broken longbow had vanished in a shower of sparks).

Before I could act, the assassin was in front of me, and had slashed me across the midriff three times! A familiar green cloud drifted up from the slashed netch leather, and I gasped; the leather was burning away from the magical poison on his blade. It was agony; I was bleeding heavily, and it felt like my insides were on fire. I was afraid: he moved so quickly! He could kill me in the space of a heartbeat...

As often happened at such times, my instinctive fear turned to instinctive rage. As the cell leader drew his blade back for a vicious upward stab, my fist closed around his throat. I used a spell I had not cast for some time: Frostbite. I watched his eyes: they had been narrowed, intent on my death; but as his throat froze near-solid and his mouth became stuck shut with ice, his eyes widened, full of fear.

I felt another sharp pain in my jaw as the assassin elbowed me away again. He fumbled helplessly at his throat, trying to do something about the ice. I could tell he couldn't breathe. For my part, I directed the 'Balyna's Antidote' spell into my wounded midriff, and, as the burning poison faded away, released a breath I hadn't even realised I was holding. I was still furious with (and deadly afraid of) the Dark Brotherhood cell leader, so with one massive, sweeping blow, I swung the daikatana into his side, slicing him completely in half.

I found myself vomiting on the floor of a darkened space yet again (something I was growing quite weary of); this time both from the after-effects of the poison in my body, and from the grisly sight of the near-dead assassin.

'Near-dead', because as I was being violently sick, I heard him murmuring something, though I don't know who he thought he was talking to. I was sure he was imploring someone to tell his "liege" that he had failed, and he was sorry. Needless to say, perhaps, he died very shortly afterwards.

At the rear of the chamber were a few personal belongings, collected near a bedroll. Among them I found an unremarkable-looking rolled length of parchment, containing an impressive likeness of me - with my new face. Where and when could they have procured such a thing? Below the sketch of my face was a short passage of hand-written text, containing my name and references to both the Mages Guild and Wolfen Castle as places where I might be found. It also identified the document as a binding contract with the Dark Brotherhood under the name of 'H'. That was all it said about the person - or organisation - that wanted me dead: just that one letter.

The sketch of my new face and the mention of Wolfen Castle made it obvious that the contract had been issued relatively recently; most likely to replace older contracts on my life when new information became available. It showed that Caius had been right: though it had been some time since the last Dark Brotherhood attack, this 'H' still wanted me dead.

The parchment was not signed with a name, but rather with a swirling, intricate symbol that I did not recognise. In any case, the way it was worded made it appear as if the Dark Brotherhood needed to have it in their possession to be permitted to attack me. I hoped that by slaughtering the entire Dark Brotherhood cell beneath Mournhold and confiscating the parchment, I would give this 'H' cause to reconsider issuing another contract on my life. Although... if all the assassins were dead, how would anyone know what had happened down there?

The solution came to me in the form of the assassin I had struck in the back of the head with a Frostball spell: the one who had seen me standing amongst the bodies in the great cavern. He was alive: I heard coughing in the corridor, and found him still on the floor, up against the wall. When he saw me he moved to draw his weapon. I stopped him by levelling a hand at his chest, Destruction magic crackling between my fingertips.

"I killed your leader - and I have the contract on my life here;" I said, holding the roll of parchment up. "You should probably stay down; and leave your blade where it is."

He hesitated, but then his hand dropped back to the floor, and he remained where he was.

"Take your hood off." I instructed. The assassin didn't move, so I repeated myself: "Take it off or I will freeze it to your face." I let the beginnings of the Frostball spell in my hand intensify, so that mist and shards of ice began to fall from it to the ground.

This time he did as I asked. He was a Dunmer, as I had expected; and he looked young - and terrified.

"Good. Now listen: you will tell your superiors what happened here. You know who I am, don't you?"

The black-garbed Dunmer nodded, and croaked:

"Edward Frost. Your contract has been open for a while."

I gestured with the parchment again, before stuffing it into a pouch at my waist, saying:

"I am closing it now. Tell your colleagues and employers that it is to remain that way; if you value your lives." At that point, it occurred to me that I should at least try to discover if he knew who had hired them to kill me: "Do you know who it was who took out the contract on my life?"

The prone assassin struggled to give what was probably intended as a mocking grin.

"You have some strange ideas about how we do business, s'wit." He rasped, and began coughing again. "Our clients don't usually want it to be known that they are our clients. Probably the only one who might know is... was the boss;" he glanced in the direction of the room I had just left; "and you said you killed him, so..."

I stared into his eyes, ice and frigid mist still raining from my hand. I was no interrogator. I couldn't tell if he was lying or not, and had little idea how to be sure. At that moment, I ran out of time to find out, anyway: I heard voices outside the building, in the great cavern: people calling to each other. Probably surveying the carnage. Apart from still feeling somewhat sick and off-balance from the poisoned blade, I also felt as if I had pushed my luck quite enough for one day. It was time to leave.

There was another shout outside, this one sounding as if it came from just the other side of the entrance door. Both I and the unmasked assassin glanced at the door, then back to each other.

"Tell them." I said, and finally let the Frostball spell go.

It burst against the wall, high above the assassin's head; showering him with fragments of ice. He covered his face against the deluge; and before he could look again, I slipped the Wolfen Ring onto my finger, vanishing from sight.

5 Comments:

Blogger Star said...

I love this chapter! The fight was grand. One of the few one on one fights where we see Frost actually struggling to stay alive in the fight. I have a non-story question though, can anyone give me good directions to Mudan Grotto, or does Wolfen Castle cover it up?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 1:18:00 pm  
Anonymous Dabigpman said...

Mudan Grotto is on the other side of ebonheart....south of seyda Neen. It is a ways out there so good luck finding it.

Thursday, January 12, 2006 2:29:00 am  
Anonymous Matar said...

Neat-o I like the fight :)

Thursday, January 12, 2006 6:43:00 am  
Blogger Joseph said...

Ptolemy is a great tool for finding places in Morrowind (as long as they are in the original game + addons). It gives you a map you can scroll around and zoom in and out on. You can also search by place name, and it will show you where it is.

I'm pretty sure Wolfen castle doesn't cover up Mudan Grotto - it would be unusual for any mod to cover up some (unrelated) part of the original game.

- Joseph.

Thursday, January 12, 2006 11:22:00 am  
Blogger Star said...

Thanks everyone, I found Mudan Grotto, its on an island just off the Northwest coast of Wolfen Castle island. I walked right past it the first time.

Friday, January 13, 2006 3:59:00 am  

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