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 29, 2006

Chapter 81: Generosity

Folms was surprised to see me teleport into the Caldera guild hall directly; usually when I finished my business abroad I used the Wolfen ring to go directly back home to the castle. He understood the situation as soon as he saw Abelle Chriditte in tow:

"Ah, Mister Frost. Back so soon? Oh - I see you have a passenger..." The Dunmer enchanter reached out a silver hand to steady Abelle as I slid her from my shoulder. "Young lady, would I be right to assume that this armoured figure here brought you back from some dark, dank hole or other?"

I removed my helmet and cast about me for some piece of cloth I could use to wipe the congealing blood from my face. Folms was speaking to Abelle as I did so, and I heard him generously offer to lend a Master Index to her so she could return to Valenvaryon for her expensive alchemical equipment and other belongings.

In the end he sent the Breton woman and I back at the same time, so that I could act as a bodyguard while she collected her things - just in case I had failed to slaughter all of the Orc bandits. I stood watch outside the propylon chamber door, doing my best to avoid looking at the heaped bodies of the Orcs I had killed.

Killing almost felt like second-nature to me by then, but at the same time I was all too aware that the power (physical and magical) inside me was not something I could truly call my own. It was not training, study or exercise that made me what I was. It was the magicka leak... it made me strong - very, very strong - but it was too much for my body to contain. It was still slowly killing me, and I could feel it from day to day: a kind of... brittleness inside. It's difficult to explain it better than that.

The same sense of helpless urgency I felt so often overtook me once more, and as soon as Abelle had teleported safely away I set off at a run, heading north-east for the Sanctus Shrine. There was, of course, nothing for me to really run towards or away from - nothing that would truly help - but with my shortened life-expectancy, I felt the suffocating pressure of time; every day. Running made me feel a little better.

The triolithic shrine was on a remote, boulder-strewn island, near a small wooden shack. I could see curls of smoke drifting from the chimney, so I placed my magical Mark a respectable distance from the shack, behind a large boulder. By choosing to close the vast distance involved with the Sanctus Shrine pilgrimage through teleportation, I was not violating any rules of the pilgrimage (at least as I understood them), but at the same time I did not want anyone in the Temple to know what I was doing. I needed their respect, and cheating at a sacred pilgrimage was not the way to go about it.

It took the space of a few scant minutes to teleport to Wolfen castle, cast Almsivi Intervention to bring myself to the High Fane, have Priest Endryn Llethan swear me to silence (and mark the beginning of my pilgrimage), and then teleport directly back to the island of the Sanctus Shrine.

As I made to kneel before the triolith, I took especial care to let my feet crunch noisily on the loose stones and gravel near the wooden shack. I wanted whoever was in there to know that I was outside. I assumed that he, she or they were in the Temple; and I wanted there to be a witness to my visit to the shrine. There was no inscription on the triolith - no passage to read aloud, or offering to make - so I chose my own prayer.

I prayed to the Tribunal gods to reveal the truth of the allegations the Dissident Priests levelled at them. It seemed appropriate, and I was very curious to know if such significant claims as they made were true.

If Vivec, Almalexia or Sotha Sil heard me somehow, they did not answer. I heard nothing but the soft sigh of the wind and the breaking waves, and felt nothing but the cold, misty drizzle of the northern Sheogorad region settling on my skin. After a moment, a Dunmer woman emerged from the shack behind me. We spoke for a while before I left; she was the sole caretaker of the remote shrine, and I imagined it could get quite lonely out there.

I planned to report back to Endryn after several days had passed, to make it appear as if I had completed the pilgrimage on foot. In the meantime I paid Caius a visit at his small, smoky hut in Balmora, to see if he had any new orders for me. I'll admit to actually being keen to do more work for him; such was my curiosity in some of the things I had uncovered for the spymaster. He leapt straight to business when I arrived at his door.

"Ah, Frost - good, good. Come in: I was hoping you would show up soon. We need an Ashlander informant, since so much of what you've brought back points to them. There's a fellow in Ald'ruhn I've heard of - Hassour Zainsubani, his name is."

I quickly learned that this 'Hassour' was an Ashlander man who had left the wastes to become a quite successful trader; apparently embracing Western culture.

"We need a way in to the Nerevarine cult Ashlanders, and I'm hoping that Zainsubani will provide that. If you've had anything to do with Ashlanders before, you'll know that they don't like outlanders - us - very much." I nodded. I had experienced that firsthand when I went to fetch that propylon index from the Urshilaku Ashlanders. "Zainsubani should prove to be more friendly: he's a trader, after all. I'll need you to learn what you can from him about the Nerevarine cult - and about Ashlander customs, to save you from treading on any toes later on."

Caius dropped a small pouch of coins in my hand, saying:

"I can tell you that they love to give and receive gifts - so find out what Zainsubani likes, and -" he indicated the money he had given me - "buy him a gift. He should help us then."

Several minutes later, I was on the streets of Ald'ruhn (I couldn't imagine how I had ever lived without teleportation). Caius had suggested looking for Hassour Zainsubani in the 'Ald Skar' Inn, one of the more respectable public houses in Ald'ruhn. I was in luck: the proprietor directed me to a cool, underground room containing several patrons - including the Ashlander. I found Zainsubani to be an exceptionally polite and forthright man:

"Yes, I am Hassour Zainsubani, Edward Frost. May you bless and be blessed." He said in reply to my self-introduction. "Please speak your business now, if you have any, for I am at leisure and would prefer to be left alone."

I gave a slight bow.

"I am actually very interested in Ashlander customs and traditions," I said, frantically racking my brain for the right thing to say; "especially their gift-giving customs... among other things..."

The Dunmer man gave me a curious look.

"A very... appropriate question, Sera Frost;" he said, a faint smile colouring his face; "it appears you know something of Ashlander ways already. Nevertheless, I'll tell you that a gift between strangers is a show of courtesy. A thoughtful gift is a sign that you are cautious and considerate - that you have taken care to learn something about the receiver - their wants and needs. For example, I love poetry. If a stranger were to gift me with a book of poetry, it would show that he had made a special effort to know and please me, as no real stranger could be expected to know of my love for poetry. I am an Ashlander, and unusual among my people because I do not reject the written word."

I was now sure that he was giving me a generous hint. He continued:

"A complete stranger would probably not think to present me with a book - of any kind - assuming that since I am an Ashlander, I cannot read!" He paused, still smiling pleasantly. "But now I have answered your question, and would like to be left in peace. If you would excuse me?"

It was fairly plain that a gift of a poetry book is what Zainsubani wanted. I was grateful to him for making the whole gift-giving business easy on me. I knew of a nearby bookstore (just around the corner, actually) - Codus Callonus'. Codus directed me to the poetry books, and before too long I found the perfect volume: 'Words of the Wind' - a "collection of verse gathered from Ashlander wise women".

Zainsubani was, unsurprisingly, pleased with the gift. His eyes seemed to light up as he flicked through the book - and I mean that literally: like many Dunmer, his red eyes actually appeared to glow of their own accord from time to time.

"The words of the blessed mothers... I thank you, Sera Frost, and I honour your courtesy. In return, it would please me to answer your questions fully. I assume you wanted to know about more than just our gift-giving customs?" His smile was now somewhat crafty-looking.

I took the offered seat next to him, and told him of my studies into the Nerevarine cult. Initially, most of what he said was not new to me, but it was interesting to hear his version of the story, and illuminating to learn a variety of Ashlander terms:

"The cult venerates the great Ashkan and Hortator, Nerevar Moon-and-Star; who, many ages ago, destroyed the evil, godless dwarves (the Dwemer), and banished the treacherous Dagoth Ur and his foul hosts beneath Red Mountain. The Nerevarine cult is very small: only in the Urshilaku clan is there a notable concentration of cult members - most Ashlanders are born into the Ancestor worship of their clan. Most Ashlanders - myself included - think the Nerevarine prophecies are just silly superstition; even if they sympathise with the sentiments of the cult."

"Sentiments?" I asked - though I thought I already knew what he meant.

"I assume you already know of the cult's anti-Imperial sentiments - that they wish for the Nerevarine to come and drive the foreigners from Morrowind. Most Ashlanders are not stupid enough to believe that they could actually succeed in a war with the Empire: but many would gladly give their lives in battle if they thought such a war could be won. That is what I mean by 'sympathising with their sentiments'."

I noted that Zainsubani was careful not to explicitly align himself with the ideals he spoke of. He knew as well as I did, I think, that such words would be regarded as treason.

Zainsubani went on to tell me about the Urshilaku clan - which was welcome, since though I may have already visited the Urshilaku camp (quite a coincidence), I did not really speak to anyone there properly. I knew little of them save their location. Zainsubani was full of useful information: he even knew the names of a couple of important figures in the Nerevarine cult: Sul-Matuul, the Ashkan (or warlord) of the Urshilaku, was also the 'Warrior-Protector' of the cult - and Nibani Maesa, the wise-woman, was the Oracle-Seer of the cult.

Since Caius would probably send me to speak with the Urshilaku next, I was glad to learn the last few pieces of information that Zainsubani imparted. It concerned matters of Ashlander honour and traditions, again. He reinforced the importance of thoughtful gift-giving, and listed a few other points: Do not enter someone's yurt (or 'tent') without permission, be especially courteous to Ashkans and wise woman, and always, always leave the presence of an Ashlander if asked.

"Violations of these customs could lead to you being challenged to a duel." Zainsubani said. "For the Ashlanders, honour and courtesy are matters of life and death."

I sighed.

"Of course they are."


Blogger Joseph said...

In the comments for the previous chapter, Lord of Vas asked if I could post a list of the mods I use. Since it's as easy as a copy-and-paste from my Morrowind.ini, here it is: the great big mod list.

(Keep in mind that some of these were installed on a whim, and some are for other characters besides Frost).

GameFile0=Assassins Armory.esm
GameFile1=Beyond YsGramor v2.5.esm
GameFile9=Akavirian Armor V 1.0.esp
GameFile10=Amulet of Scrye.esp
GameFile11=Amulet of Vampire Becoming.esp
GameFile12=Animal Behaviour.esp
GameFile15=Armored SkeletonsV2f.esp
GameFile16=ASE Bloodmoon Expansion.esp
GameFile17=ASE Tribunal Expansion.esp
GameFile18=Assassins Armory - Arrows.esp
GameFile19=Assassins Armory - Bolt Rifles.esp
GameFile20=Assassins Armory - Unofficial Patch 7.7.esp
GameFile21=AstralFyziks- Undead Revival.esp
GameFile26=Better Bodies.esp
GameFile29=Birdies by Cait and Leeloo.esp
GameFile30=Blight Idol.esp
GameFile34=Dracus's Durzog Armor Tribumal V1.1.esp
GameFile37=GIANTS Ultimate Control file.esp
GameFile38=Gothic&Regal Dresses_1.1.esp
GameFile39=Great House Dagoth ( Master Index Compatibility ).esp
GameFile40=Great House Dagoth.esp
GameFile41=Haunted Tombs v1.06.esp
GameFile42=HelioS - Better Necromancers Amulet.esp
GameFile43=HelioS - Giants Fix.esp
GameFile44=House of Mannequins v1.0.esp
GameFile48=Illuminated Order v1.0 - Bloodmoon Compatibility Extras.esp
GameFile49=Illuminated Order v1.0.esp
GameFile50=Illuminated Windows - Bloodmoon.esp
GameFile51=Illuminated Windows.esp
GameFile54=JCS - Gogetto's Stalhrim Weapons.esp
GameFile55=LBS_Lite v1.4(trib).esp
GameFile57=Light Death's Doorstep.esp
GameFile61=Morrowind Crafting patch V1-1.esp
GameFile62=Morrowind Crafting.esp
GameFile63=MTT Vol III.esp
GameFile64=Necessities of Morrowind 2.02.esp
GameFile65=Netch Adamantium Armor II.esp
GameFile66=New fire damage effect v1.1 .esp
GameFile68=Nymeria's Faster Walk.esp
GameFile69=Nymeria's Monthly Respawn.esp
GameFile72=Ring Texture Fix.esp
GameFile76=Sixth House Advanced 2.1.esp
GameFile78=Slof's Better Beasts b.esp
GameFile79=Slof's Goth Shop 1.1.esp
GameFile80=Slof's Vampire Faces.esp
GameFile82=Statue Replacer - Gold.esp
GameFile83=Stealth Enhancements-LD 1.5b (Tribunal).esp
GameFile85=Tales of Miridian.esp
GameFile86=Temperature 1.13.esp
GameFile87=Temperature LoKKen addon.esp
GameFile88=The Clockwork Tower.esp
GameFile89=The Ebony Blade V1.02.esp
GameFile90=The Undead.esp
GameFile94=Vampire Realism II - BM Add-On.esp
GameFile95=Vampire Realism II - TB Add-On.esp
GameFile96=Vampire Realism II - VE Patch.esp
GameFile97=Vampire Realism II.esp
GameFile100=Vampiric Hunger - SU.esp
GameFile101=Vampiric Hunger Base.esp
GameFile102=Vampiric Hunger MGE Addon for MGE 1.11+.esp
GameFile105=WC_Indoril Greaves.esp
GameFile106=Weapon collection.esp
GameFile108=Wolfen Castle.esp

Sunday, January 29, 2006 8:48:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great googly moogly!

Sunday, January 29, 2006 9:22:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh btw, here is a little site that has a VERY specific mod that may add a certain new spice and flavor not seen since...well, i would suppose the current sickness and landing on vardenfell!

Sunday, January 29, 2006 9:25:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and more directly

Sunday, January 29, 2006 9:27:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sunday, January 29, 2006 9:27:00 pm  
Blogger Joseph said...

Okay, when I saw what was at the other end of that link, my eyebrows shot up higher than they have for some time.

Co-op Morrowind? It's like a dream... But damn it - I was just at a LAN party with my friends a week ago, and some of them had Morrowind! Arrgh! Frustrating! Why couldn't you have told us about this a couple of weeks ago?! ;-P

Seriously though - thanks for the link - that's some pretty intriguing stuff...

- Joseph.

Sunday, January 29, 2006 10:38:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you said before , that you work as a trainer.

Where do you work - in a school or university , at a institute?

How did you become a trainer, as I too, want to teach.

Monday, January 30, 2006 8:17:00 am  
Blogger Joseph said...

The training side of my job might be sort of specific to Australia. Here, unemployed people of a certain age must attend a "Work for the Dole" activity if they wish to receive unemployment benefits for longer than a certain period of time.

I work for a not-for-profit organisation that (among other things) runs these WFTD activities. I'm the supervisor/trainer for one of these projects; a web design/digital imaging project.

I teach them the skills needed, and later on we work to create a number of multimedia works - usually for other not-for-profit organisations.

To get into a teaching/training job, I imagine the specifics (qualifications, etc) would be different in different countries, but you would probably identify the area in which you want to work (primary school, high school, university, adult, etc), and find an organisation that covers that area. Talk to them and find out what kind of qualifications and experience you would need for the teaching job you want.

For me, I started working at my job doing just the multimedia stuff, and then they asked me to do a 3-month course (1 day a week) to learn how to train small groups.

- Joseph.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 4:21:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting chapter. ^^ You know, I never had to give the guy anything. I simply said "thoughtful gift" and he would tell me everything. I suppose that has to to a high personality and speechcraft score.

Thursday, February 02, 2006 7:49:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dang thats a ton of mods.... how much time did you spend installing them????

Wednesday, June 07, 2006 12:07:00 pm  

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