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, February 10, 2006

Chapter 86: Agitator

"You! I heard you were the one to... you know - speak to..." The Legionnaire licked his lips, none too subtly.

He had stopped me just inside the building that housed the Frostmoth Fort's Imperial Cult shrine. I was there to question the fort's priest, Antonius Nuncius. Captain Carius had stopped just short of accusing Nuncius outright for starting the 'dry fort' story. It seemed he did not want to approach the priest himself. Petty politics; as I said.

The Legionnaire was eyeing my pack, and the various pouches at my waist. It was obvious what he wanted. I produced the second bottle of Cyrodiilic Brandy I had brought, and dropped it into his palm.

"Ahh - many thanks." The soldier wasted no time in taking a swig. "Listen: I heard you were asking about this being a dry fort. Trying to put things aright, eh?" He indicated the brandy I had given him. "Well, we'll all be wanting to help with that, I'm sure. So if there's anything I can do..."

"Where did you first hear about the alcohol ban?" I asked. I had no time for idle conversation. "Who told you about it?"

The soldier took a moment to reflect, thoughtfully swishing a measure of the drink about in his mouth.

"Well," he swallowed, "a few of us heard it from Nuncius - Priest Nuncius - in the mess hall one night. He seemed none too happy about it, either. Was just passing on the message, I suppose."

Now that was interesting. The priest had campaigned for an alcohol ban - which the Captain had denied - and then proceeded to tell the men of the fort that the Captain had dreamt up a ban, and made it seem as if he was opposed to it! What about the stoppage of the shipments, though? Was that just good luck on Nuncius' part? In any case, I was almost certain that the priest was the 'agitator' Captain Carius was looking for. It was time to pay Nuncius a visit.

"Oh, yes... this dry fort business." I found Antonius Nuncius near the Imperial Cult shrine, tightly wrapped in an abundance of warm clothing; even in the relative warmth of the fort interior. "Odd that the Captain would ban liquor for his troops;" the priest said; "there's no understanding the actions of some people."

I knew he was lying, so I gazed into his eyes for a time before I spoke, hoping to unnerve him. It seemed to work. He shifted his weight uneasily and seemed unable to meet my gaze.

"The Captain tells me the ban was your idea, Nuncius: and that he actually denied the request. So what seems odd to me is that you would then make the rounds and tell the men that Carius banned alcohol here." I raised an eyebrow theatrically. "Why would you do such a thing?"

The Cult priest was now well and truly anxious. I could hear it in his voice:

"L-Look: this is all academic anyway. I'm sure you heard that the shipments of alcohol stopped arriving. The ships have been coming without it even on their manifests."

"You seem to know a lot about this, Nuncius..." I said.

At that point the priest excused himself with a noticeable quaver in his voice, saying he was quite busy. For a moment I considered using a Charm spell, but several soldiers were looking on with interest from across the room, so I thought better of it. In any case, I had heard that Antonius kept an office above the armoury: a comfortable distance from the Cult shrine, and worth investigating given the priest's suspicious behaviour.

Magically neutralising the locks on the cabinet and desk in the priest's office (the nearby Legionnaires studiously looking the other way - I was convinced they now knew exactly what was happening - and supported me), I reminded myself that even by whatever twisted logic, I was doing it all to get to those stranded souls on the airship crew. Otherwise, given the debt I felt I still owed to the Imperial Cult for taking me in as a baby, the guilt I would have felt at breaking into and rifling through a priest's belongings might have been too strong.

Though as it turned out, I would not describe most of what I found as belonging to Nuncius at all. In his desk, in his cabinet; in every piece of furniture that could be locked, I found stockpiles of alcohol. Flin, Shein, Sujamma, Cyrodiilic Brandy: even a couple of vials of the very illegal drug Skooma!

"What are you doing?" Antonius Nuncius was at the door, looking incensed. He must have followed after me out of (well-founded) suspicion. "A common thief, are you? Breaking into a priest's office! I'm taking this to the Captain!"

I held up the Skooma I had found, plus a couple of bottles of Shein.

"That's quite convenient, actually;" I said; "I'll go with you. I was heading there myself, directly. He'll be interested to hear about what I've found here, I'm certain."

Nuncius was visibly deflated. The colour drained from his features.

In Captain Carius' office, the whole story came out. The priest had hidden the incoming shipments of alcohol and spread the story of the ban in an attempt to lower morale in the fort to a critical level and engineer a revolt. And all because he wanted to go home, apparently.

"I thought that if things got bad enough here," Nuncius said softly, "I could appeal to my superiors to send me back home. It's the cold. I... can't take the cold here." A haunted look entered his eyes as he spoke, and I again noticed his abundance of warm clothes.

Carius shook his head slowly.

"Did it not occur to you, Nuncius, to simply ask to be reassigned? By Oblivion, I could have had you sent to the Ascadian Isles - or even back to Cyrodiil, had you just asked! But no -" the Captain sat back in his chair - "I think you can stay right here. With this new abundance of liquor at the fort, we'll need someone to save the souls of these men: after all it was you, Nuncius, that told me they needed to be 'saved' from alcohol."

The priest looked stricken, and shuffled out of the room without a word upon being dismissed. Once he had left, Carius turned to me.

"That was very well handled, Mister Frost - and from what I hear, my men regard you as their 'saviour' now. I imagine Faustus at the armoury might actually help you. But yes - well handled indeed. I actually have another ... job here for you, if you're interested."

I opened my mouth to object, but Carius pressed on:

"No, no - hear my proposal first. You are here on Solstheim to rescue a group of people up north, correct?" Sighing, I nodded and motioned for him to continue. "Now I imagine that if these people are stranded up there somewhere, they are stranded for a reason: they are hurt, or trapped in snow, or some other calamity. How do you propose to move them all yourself?"

I frowned. He actually had a valid point.

"My plan was to assess the situation and -" I began.

"Look -" The Captain interrupted - "you help me with this job, and I will send some men with you to help on your rescue mission. They will have a better grasp of the area than you, I'd wager."

I rubbed my temples. There it was: a powerful headache. I had felt it coming... Such delays!

"What is the job?" I asked wearily. "If it is too involved, then I really will not have time."

"Not to worry." Carius smiled. "This job also involves my fine men - and more to the point here, my not-so-fine men - and as I mentioned we are but a small outpost. Finding the culprits should not take overly long."

"Culprits?" I asked.

"I also mentioned earlier that some of my men were sent here as punishment. I can tell you that some - were they not here - would be in the Ebonheart dungeons. I'm afraid to say a criminal element has developed among some of the soldiers here. Stores of weapons and armour in the armoury have been decreasing recently - and I know that there is no official reason for this. In other words... smugglers. I believe some of the men are smuggling Imperial arms and armour to Vvardenfell and selling them there for their own gain."

"And you want me to find out who they are."

"Yes, Mister Frost: and should you do so, I will leave you to deal with them as you see fit. Defend yourself to your full ability should the need arise. There are some... rough - men here."

When I made no move and no comment, Carius carried on:

"Take some time to think about it... If you can spare such time, of course." He added wryly. "If you decide to take me up on my offer, I'll have someone help you identify the smugglers. Just go and see..."

The Captain mentioned a couple of names: Saenus Lusius and Gaea Artoria. He wanted me to choose one out of the pair to accompany me in the search (apparently he could only afford to have one of them off-duty at a time). Gaea Artoria, he said, was the most powerful and skilled fighter at the fort - and this despite being a woman. In contrast, I gathered that Saenus Lusius was a bit of a rogue, but knew everyone at the fort, and could prove instrumental in "ferreting out the smugglers", as Carius put it.

For my part, I had not yet decided if I should help the Captain or not. Before I did anything else, I was going to check the armoury for warm armour or clothes. On my way to the armoury I noticed that every soldier I met had a drink in his hand. The liquor in Nuncius' office had somehow made its way into the possession of the soldiers, and a party of sorts was obviously underway.

Zeno Faustus, the quartermaster, looked through the stores of armour for me, but returned empty-handed. There was not one piece of fur armour or other warm clothing to be found. It did not take a genius to work it out: any available cold-weather armour was most likely in the hands of the smugglers. The ache in my temples and behind my eyes intensified. I would probably be forced to take Captain Carius' job after all: if only to lay my hands on some appropriate armour for the frozen island.

Luck was just not with me that morning. Little did I know just how much worse that day would become.


Anonymous Random said...

Sorry about the outcry, it's just that us ozzies always get attacked for our liking to alcohol. Where do you live? I'm in Perth, Western Australia.

Friday, February 10, 2006 8:17:00 pm  
Anonymous Matar said...

YAy fer beer in video games! Ummm yah anyways cool chapter and would becoming a werewolf cure Frostys problem?

See I did not forget >.>.

Friday, February 10, 2006 10:21:00 pm  
Blogger Joseph said...

Random: Ah - I see what you mean now. I'm in the Snowy Mountains, New South Wales.

- Joseph.

Saturday, February 11, 2006 1:51:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

beer leads to many things ,especially when you are so drunk that you do or say things whichyou wouldn't usually do and are too afraid to do ,when you are not drunk.

Saturday, February 11, 2006 4:45:00 am  
Anonymous Matar said...

I said yay fer beer because in games it help'd me kill bosses in one hit >.>.

Saturday, February 11, 2006 8:25:00 am  
Anonymous person said...

Just out of curiosity, has anyone ever opened the closet in Antonius Nuncius' office? I've unlocked it with a pick and it said I still needed a key to open it. I've never killed Nuncius so I don't know if he has a key or not.

Soo... What's in the Closet?(insert X-files theme here)

Saturday, February 11, 2006 4:07:00 pm  
Anonymous Matar said...

Beer. in it is alot of beer.

Saturday, February 11, 2006 6:29:00 pm  
Anonymous person said...

okie dokie thanks matar

Saturday, February 11, 2006 10:46:00 pm  
Blogger Joseph Kennedy said...

yeah go Moses and his beer

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 12:31:00 am  

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