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 18, 2006

Chapter 76: Conviction

When I found Tanusea Veloth, what she was doing caused me to flinch internally. The Dunmer holy woman was inspecting the trinkets available for sale at a merchant's portable stall, far up behind the spectator's seats in the Arena canton. She would pick each item up and hold it close to her face to examine it, before replacing it amongst the jumble of other wares. She certainly didn't look as if she suffered from Corprus disease, but if Endryn Llethan was right and she was contagious, she could spread the disease to any number of people by fondling those trinkets.

I knew what happened to sufferers of Corprus disease; I had to do something to remove her from Vivec. She smiled and seemed friendly enough as I introduced myself, saying I was from the Temple, but a scowl dirtied her otherwise serene face as I mentioned Endryn's name.

"Listen here, young Breton; I'd wager I've been living in this world since before your great-grandfather was a suckling baby - I've travelled over Tamriel in the name of Almsivi, and I've caught more diseases in my travels than you could name. Oh yes! Almalexia has cured them all - and as I'm sure Priest Endryn can't have failed to mention, eventually the goddess blessed me with immunity to the worst afflictions. No vampirism, or lycanthropy, or blight for me - and no Corprus!"

I blinked under her verbal barrage. Her sheer force of personality was astounding.

"Vampirism?" I asked weakly.

"Please don't interrupt, young one. I wouldn't have thought so, but it seems I have to ask: do I look like I have Corprus? Are there great, swelling lumps on my body that have escaped my notice?"

I cleared my throat. It was time to try in earnest.

"Sera Veloth, I'm told that at least two cases of Corprus have been directly linked to you. Two stall-keepers, from right here in the Arena;" I indicated the merchants gathered around the edge of the Arena chamber; "friends of yours, even..."

I told her my theory on why Almalexia may have made her immune to the effects of Corprus, but still able to carry it: perhaps the goddess meant for her to care for the poor souls in the Corprusarium? But Tanusea just shook her head incredulously.

"Go and live the rest of my days amongst vicious monsters? You must be joking!"

She had a stubbornness born out of the conviction that she had survived her dangerous life for so long that she was too wise to be wrong about anything. In the end - and I'm not ashamed to admit this, as I believe it was the right thing to do - I used my Charm spell on her to change her mind.

The shift in her demeanour was immediate. She paused, and began to stare into the middle-distance, deeply in thought. After a short while she sighed, and said:

"Maybe... you are right after all, young Breton. I can't stay here and make my friends and my... I can't stay and make others sick. More than sick..."

The holy woman looked sad as she departed for the High Fane - which I could understand. Spending the rest of one's life caring for Corprus-men sounded a grim and thankless existence. Even when influenced by magic, it was still an incredibly noble and selfless sacrifice on her part.

Before I too left the Arena canton, I cast a wary eye over the merchant's wares, considering what should be done about them. What if they had been infected or dirtied in some way? I certainly couldn't persuade the storekeeper to dispose of all his stock, and I was not willing to touch any of it myself; otherwise I might have bought everything he had there on that table and disposed of it somehow. It couldn't have cost all that much.

I decided to take the merchant's name and tell Endryn about it: the Temple could work something out.

The last of the informants Caius ordered me to contact was an Argonian named Huleeya: a professional assassin for the 'Morag Tong'. As I've mentioned, the spymaster certainly had some colourful acquaintances. Caius had been quick to assure me of Huleeya's trustworthiness - which was a good move on his part as after my experiences with the Dark Brotherhood, assassins were not people I exactly held in high regard.

Caius also told me a little about the Morag Tong, and the two main points I brought away from his summary was that they were nothing like the Dark Brotherhood, and they were honourable and in fact legal in Morrowind. That something is legal does not necessarily mean that it is good (or even 'right'), of course; but it did ease my mind to learn that they were benign enough to be regarded as legal.

The spymaster had suggested looking for Huleeya in the Black Shalk Cornerclub in Vivec's Foreign Quarter; and sure enough there he was, seated at the bar and studiously ignoring the jeering calls of a nearby group of Dunmer men. They were loudly referring to the Argonian as a "worthless slave" - an "animal" - and worse. Closing my ears (for the moment) to their insults - which came to also target me - I took a seat next to Huleeya and introduced myself.

"With Caius, are you?" Huleeya remarked. He had the least inflected speech I had ever heard from an Argonian. In fact, if it were not for a slight hiss in his voice at every 's', he might not have sounded like an Argonian at all. "Am I right to suppose that the old man sent you to fetch information from me? He has a habit of doing that."

I nodded, and told him of my search for information on the Nerevarine and Sixth House cults. Huleeya was contemplating my request when a piece of bread, thrown by one of the ruffians at the table behind us, bounced off the Argonian's back. He gave an exasperated sigh, and said:

"We can't talk here - and I'm afraid that in their present state of inebriation, these 'Dungmer' here might not let us leave peacefully."

I'm sure my puzzlement was plain on my face.

"I heard you're an assassin;" I said quietly; "surely you can handle three or four drunken louts?"

Huleeya shook his head gravely.

"The oath I swore forbids such an act of pointless violence - and I don't want to cause trouble in my friend's establishment, if I can help it." He indicated the (rather more reasonable-looking) Dunmer currently busy behind the bar.

I gazed at the Argonian for a long moment, unsure what to make of him. It seemed I would have to do something about the loud, racist fools if I was to receive any help from Huleeya. I think, though, that I would have done something regardless: the behaviour of the small group of Dunmer made my blood boil.

At my approach, the three abusive Dunmer at the table fell silent, save for the occasional drunken titter.

"What do you want, lizard-lover?" Asked one of the men, with an insolent grin.

"I want to know what you intend to do regarding the Argonian over there." I said, stony-faced.

The mouthpiece for the group shifted in his seat to reveal a leather whip at his side.

"I think we'll teach the slave to wear a leash as he should." His grin broadened.

The other men sniggered. I was close to the end of my patience, but motioned for him to lean closer, and whispered in his ear, so the others couldn't hear:

"You know, I just heard a very funny name for you three..." The dark elf with the whip stiffened. "I think you'll appreciate it... Dungmer."

At that, the man made to leap up, his face a mask of fury. I released the Paralyse spell that had been building in my hand into the small of his back, freezing him in place, half out of his chair. His cronies stared on in shock, looking as if they too had been paralysed.

I poked the immobilised Dunmer with a forefinger, and then stomped on his foot to stop him from toppling right over. Next I caught up the man's drink and balanced it carefully on top of his head, addressing the other dumbfounded elves as I did so:

"As you can see, and as I think you can imagine, I can do anything I wish to you fools. You should count yourselves fortunate that I'm not in the mood to slit all your throats, and leave you to bleed to death before you're able to move again."

I noticed the Dunmer's faces were turning a very pale shade of grey.

"Now," I continued, "my friend and I are leaving. We've had quite enough of the scintillating atmosphere here, I think. You boys won't cause any... trouble, will you?"

The now terrified-looking young ruffians merely shook their heads.

"Good." I said, and fixed them with one last lingering stare, before moving off to rejoin Huleeya - who looked to be struggling not to laugh.

We left the club before the whip-carrying Dunmer regained his mobility. The Argonian assassin let out a long, hissing laugh as I pushed the door closed behind us.

"That was very nicely done, Sera Frost." Huleeya said with a chuckle. "Well worth whatever help I can give you; follow me to my friend's store: we can talk there."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hehe. Dungmer.

Friday, January 20, 2006 7:09:00 am  
Anonymous Matar said...

Hmm you let them live... I just plane killed them but whatever still a nice story even if Frosty ain't evil... Yet >:-O

Friday, January 20, 2006 11:34:00 am  
Anonymous Stygian said...

Evil is blunt and tasteless (when there is no grand consipiracy involved, which is the case here in Morrowind. You can only commit wanton manslaughter). Frost has taste.

Friday, January 20, 2006 1:35:00 pm  

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