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, January 13, 2006

Chapter 74: Meant to be

"You killed all of them?" A grin began to spread across Caius' face.

"Most of them, I think." I absent-mindedly rubbed my stomach, where the Dark Brotherhood cell leader had cut me with his poisoned blade. It was completely healed, of course; but I could remember the pain. "I left one alive to tell the others what happened: I wanted to scare them off me. I heard a few more coming, too, but... I killed most of them - and their leader. I found this."

I drew the contract on my life from my robe, and handed it to the spymaster. My armour was still with Ulfred, being repaired - even after several hours. The spectacular fight with the Dark Brotherhood assassins had left it in a terrible state. I had remained at Wolfen castle until the late afternoon, resting after the taxing events of the morning.

"Good, very good," Caius said, reading carefully through the contract. "Excellent, excellent work. So this 'H' is the one who wants you dead... Did you find out anything else; perhaps from this one you didn't kill?"

I shook my head, but then remembered what the cell leader had said before he died. It seemed to greatly interest the spymaster.

"'My liege'?" Caius sat forward in his chair. "He definitely said 'my liege'?"

"I'm fairly certain." I replied. "Why?"

The grey-haired Imperial leant back again, looking thoughtful.

"Well, the people of Mournhold would call King Helseth their 'liege'." He gave a wry smile, adding: "I don't know if the Dark Brotherhood members there would want to count themselves among 'the people of Mournhold' or not, but..."

"The contract is in the name of 'H'!" I finished for him, and then paused. "The king? You think the king is the one who..."

Caius held up a hand to stop me.

"This alone is too tenuous a link. As I'm sure you would agree, accusing a king of such a thing is something you should consider very carefully - even if you were absolutely sure that he was at fault." He began to study the parchment again. "I will have someone look into it. Perhaps we can find someone whose handwriting matches this contract - or find what this symbol means." He tapped the swirling, intricate symbol that took the place of a signature. "Maybe we could even find someone whose sketches look like this! Quite a likeness of you, isn't it?"

I was too distracted by thoughts of King Helseth to reply. What if it was him? Why would a king I had never before heard of hire assassins to kill me? Maybe it wasn't him after all...

"Don't trouble yourself, Frost." The spymaster interrupted my thoughts. "I think those boys in black will leave you alone for now - and I will find out for you who this 'H' is. In the meantime, I do have new orders for you..."

The following morning saw me in Vivec, to carry out Caius' assignment. He had given me two hundred drakes for "bribes and other expenses", and sent me off to the holy city to gather more information on the Nerevarine and Sixth House cults. He had three specific informants in mind: I just had to locate them and persuade them to talk. I was becoming more and more curious about the matter of my sudden release from prison, and about the reason for the spymaster's seemingly insatiable interest in those cults. Caius still refused to tell me anything about either subject, however; merely saying: "Patience."

It was an unusually cold and rainy day for Vivec, and I was able to comfortably wear a robe over my armour. I would still have been quite warm enough in my armour alone; I was wearing the robe to conceal (or at least mostly obscure) the armour; I wanted to blend in more, considering the type of assignment I was on. Full suits of armour draw attention. The bulky shoulder-guards had to be strapped on over the top of the robe (they were necessary to properly maintain the balance of the Netch-Adamantium cuirass). You might think it strange to bother with armour at all if I was simply on an assignment to talk to informants, but my time on Vvardenfell (indeed, my whole life) had taught me to favour caution.

I used Almsivi Intervention to teleport from Wolfen castle across to the High Fane Temple at the southern end of Vivec. My plan was to speak with Endryn Llethan at the Temple, and then search for Mehra Milo (one of Caius' informants) in the 'Hall of Wisdom' library beneath the High Fane. I would ask Endryn if there was some task or act of devotion I could perform for the Temple, and use that as my cover for visiting the Hall of Wisdom; I was supposed to be a spy, after all... and Caius had hinted that Mehra's position at the library was somewhat tenuous. He didn't want me to draw undue attention to her.

Endryn was one of the priests that Tuls Valen had recommended I speak to if I wanted to do more in service of the Temple. He seemed compassionate like Valen, but in contrast appeared to believe -without question - in every aspect of the Tribunal faith. Valen had more of an open mind. Endryn did have a task for me, and it concerned matters of faith: he was in a state of great consternation over it, in fact.

"There's a holy woman, a pilgrim, here in Vivec at the moment; her name is Tanusea Veloth. She is kind, pious and well-known and -loved by the people." Endryn wrung his hands. "It's terrible! In her travels she somehow caught the Divine Disease!" Upon seeing my expression of incomprehension, he added: "Corprus disease".

I was surprised. I had once killed some poor soul afflicted with Corprus disease out in the Ashlands: the disease had left the man swollen, deformed, aggressive, and quite insane. Someone like that loose in the city would be very dangerous; what if it - she - encountered a small child, or an elderly person?

"Where is she?" I asked, loosening my sword in its sheath. "Has anyone been hurt? And the Ordinators - have they been told?"

The priest looked shocked for a moment, then appeared to realise something.

"Oh, no; you don't understand, Curate Frost." (Curate was my rank within the Temple hierarchy). "Tanusea Veloth has been personally blessed by Almalexia: She is, as I said, a very holy woman. She does not suffer from the symptoms of the disease." Endryn began to look troubled again. "However, she is still passing the disease to others! We've already had to send two stall-owners from the Arena canton (a favourite place of Tanusea's) to the Corprusarium beneath Tel Fyr!" Endryn squeezed his eyes shut. He looked personally pained by the subject. "How could this happen to one so devout... one blessed by Almalexia?"

I had to ask him what the Corprusarium was: a place under the care of Divayth Fyr where sufferers of the 'Divine Disease' (a very strange name for such an awful affliction) were sometimes taken. There they could live without being a danger to themselves or others. I was surprised to learn of it: I had, of course, briefly met with Divayth at Tel Fyr, and I had had no idea that the Corprusarium was there.

In any case, I understood what was upsetting Endryn about the matter of Tanusea Veloth. The priest was obviously a very devout man, and the thought of his goddess making such a colossal oversight as giving one of her faithful immunity to the symptoms of a disease - but leaving her contagious to others - had to be quite dismaying. Unless, I thought; it wasn't an oversight...

"Perhaps, Endryn, Almalexia meant for it to happen this way." The priest stared at me, mystified. I continued: "Perhaps she means for Tanusea Veloth to go to the Corprusarium and care for the afflicted there. She would be perfect for the role, after all: she's immune to the effects of Corprus, so she will keep her mind and the proper use of her body. She would be free to care for them without fear of being infected herself..."

A cautious grin crept across the priest's face. He looked quite relieved.

"I think I can see the reason for your meteoric rise through the Temple, Curate Frost. Only four ranks above Curate, you know; and that includes Patriarch." Endryn clapped me on the arm. "Valen was right about you."

In truth I hadn't given much thought to my overall position in the Tribunal Temple. Higher ranks obviously came with greater power, but I wasn't sure whether this would hold with an outlander like myself. Tuls Valen had been quite generous with his promotions: it had all happened so quickly, and really, I barely knew anyone in the Temple besides Valen. I don't think anyone seriously entertained any notion of bestowing real power in the Temple upon me. No-one had yet mentioned such a thing, at any rate.

It wasn't something that really interested me, anyway. I would be happy enough if there was simply some indication that my position would grant me a path to a cure for my condition.

Endryn brought me out of my reverie by saying:

"In any case, Curate Frost, we need to persuade Tanusea to leave Vivec and go to the Corprusarium." The priest looked quite serious again. "You've shown that you are just the man to do it, I think! We did intend for her to go there as a 'patient' - but your idea is much better."

With a promise to look for Tanusea Veloth at the Arena canton later that day, I left and made my way down to the Hall of Wisdom. It was time to get on with Caius' assignment.


Anonymous dagothjake said...

Hi, Im Jake, and I just finished reading your awesome story! its really good! you should consider writing for a career! lol. i also am obsessed with morrowind...surprise, surprise. i look forward to future chapters in the journal of edward frost! keep up the good work!

Friday, January 13, 2006 1:27:00 pm  
Anonymous Matar said...

Look forward to the next chapter :)

Friday, January 13, 2006 2:25:00 pm  
Anonymous dabigpman said...

your stories are very addicting joseph. i cant stop reading this story. i have even scheduled a time to read the new chapter every time it comes out....i agree with jake. make this a book. youll sell millons. (we of course would profit i assume!!! *wink wink*)

Saturday, January 14, 2006 2:23:00 am  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thanks guys - I'm very flattered! :-D

However the chances that something like Frost in Morrowind could be published 'officially' are fairly low, since it's based on copyrighted material.

As for writing other things - maybe for a career - who knows? Maybe I'll get inspired...

- Joseph.

Saturday, January 14, 2006 12:15:00 pm  

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