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 17, 2006

Chapter 89: Beasts and Men

I found Gaea Artoria descending the spiral staircase that led up to Captain Carius' office. We almost collided on those narrow, turning steps. The unusually large (not fat - just proportionately large) Imperial woman grasped me by the shoulders.

"Frost! Edward Frost, yes?" I nodded. "Did you see them?" She asked, a note of hysteria in her voice.

"No, the attack was over when I returned. Someone said that it was wolf-like creatures - but I don't see how they could have done that to the walls..."

Gaea released me and motioned for me to follow her back up to the captain's office.

"Werewolves! They had to be werewolves. They took the captain -" she added dully - "I saw them; dragging him off to the north. I couldn't get to him; they knocked me down." She indicated her breastplate, which sported a series of deeply scored claw marks. Fortunately for her, the metal plates had not been cut all the way through. "I have to ask you for something, Mister Frost. I'm next in command, after Carius; so I can't go after him. I must stay here and lead the men. So, please... please will you find him?"

Gaea was staring at me intently. I studied her face. In her expression - and in her voice - I could sense something deeper than mere concern for a superior officer.

"You're saying werewolves carried him away?" I remarked. " You mean without killing him? Why would they do that? I thought they were wild animals: wouldn't they just..." I trailed off at the look on the woman's face. "I... am going north, in any case; but how would I find him? I'm no tracker."

By way of answer, Gaea slid the top off a storage crate in the corner of Carius' office, and lifted out a very old-looking human skull. This she placed in my hands. It was a strange answer, to be sure. I was about to assume that she was - or had become - a little crazy, when she explained herself:

"There is a group of savages settled on the north-east tip of Solstheim: the 'Skaal', they're called. I've heard that they worship wolves - that they can control them - or even turn into them! I know of no-one else on this island, and certainly no-one more likely: they must be behind the attack. Please... if you could speak with them - maybe gain their trust... give them that skull: they're superstitious. They'll like it. Just... please - find out what happened to Carius."

After a moment, I nodded in agreement - though hardly enthusiastically.

"As I said, I need to go north anyway - to search for some people lost up there. I can at least see if they'll speak with me. Perhaps they'll even have some word on the people I'm searching for."

I also thought to myself that if anyone on that island had some decent fur armour, or other warm clothes, it would be people who lived there permanently. Trekking across the entire breadth of the frozen island to procure some cold-weather armour was hardly ideal, of course; but by all accounts, the really cold part of Solstheim was to the north-west, over the Moesring Mountains. Where the airship had been headed, in other words.

Gaea heaved a sigh of relief.

"Good. Thankyou. I won't forget this." The Imperial woman sank into Carius' chair, and buried her face in her hands, as if exhausted. She may (apparently) be the most powerful fighter in the fort, I thought; but at that moment she did not look ready to assume command of all those men.

Not that it was really my concern. I would look into Carius' disappearance while I was in Solstheim's north, but it was not something I would dedicate my life to. I did not know much about werewolves, but what I had heard led me to believe that even if they had not killed the captain outright during the attack on the fort, it was very unlikely that he was still alive.

Early next morning, I teleported back to the Fort Frostmoth docks once more, and finally set out in earnest on my rescue mission. The Imperial Legionnaires were deep in the awful business of burying their comrades when I passed through. I let them be, striking out into the forest north of the fort.

Gaea had given me a better map of Solstheim the night before: probably the most helpful thing I received from those at the fort. With it, I could tell that the area directly north of Fort Frostmoth was called 'Hirstaang Forest'. And 'forest' was right: it was quite far removed from the wastelands and sparsely-wooded fields of Vvardenfell. There were pine trees, as far as I could see - and their heady scent made my hike a pleasant one; at least initially.

Everyone I had spoken to about the island of Solstheim as a whole said the same thing: it was cold and full of dangerous beasts. Gaea had elaborated a little on this treatise for me, describing many of the dangers I might face on my trek to the Skaal Village and the Moesring mountains. This was how I knew the name of the (nearly) stark-naked Nordic woman running at me through the trees: she was a berserker - or a 'Bare-Sark' in the Nordic tongue. The name was quite appropriate: all she wore was a pair of fur boots and a helmet that looked to be made from a bear's head! She carried no weapons.

Gaea had told me what to expect - saying that insane, naked berserkers roamed the island - but I was still taken by surprise; I suppose I hadn't really expected a female berserker. She came at me swinging her fists, and all I managed was a strangled "Wait - stop!" before she got in a heavy blow to my jaw. I reeled, my vision blurring - and she was on me, trying to bring me to the ground with her weight, while at the same time scratching at my eyes. It was then that the old instinctive anger and fright swelled up; and the next thing I knew the Bare-Sark woman was on the ground, dead.

Her helmet had fallen off in the fight, and I picked it up to examine it; curious to see how a helmet could be made from a near-whole bear's head. Basically, the skull had been hollowed-out and lined with fur: for warmth, comfort and practicality (so it would fit properly, in other words). It was made so that the wearer peered out from behind the bear's fearsome teeth - something of an odd sensation, as I soon discovered. The bear's-head helmet was warm and certainly felt sturdier than my Nordic Fur helmet, containing as it did the thick skull of a bear. I threw the Nordic Fur hat away and replaced it with the bear's-head one.

The Bare-Sark woman was far from the only attack I endured while passing through Hirstaang Forest. While passing a deep thicket of brush clustered around some rocks, I was set upon by a creature I had initially taken to be a young tree. It was a vaguely female-looking, bark-skinned 'Spriggan': one of the fairykin. Its hair was twigs and hanging lichen, its feet were gnarled, dirt-crusted roots, and its fingers were like wood whittled-down to sharp knives. It was also alarmingly fast for something that so resembled a tree.

I hacked into the Spriggan again and again. Each successive blow further widened a wound in the creature's side, and sent it flying - but it always landed deftly on its feet and barrelled back into me, leading with its sharpened fingers. It was like trying to split wood - green wood - upon a chopping block with sideways strokes rather than a chopping motion (and I was unable to land a single blow if I attempted a chopping attack: the damned thing was too fast). My Daedric longsword grew more and more sticky with the Spriggan's sap, until finally I hewed the thing in half - but that was not the end of it.

I watched in astonishment as the sap flowing freely from the creature's two halves appeared to actually pull the Spriggan together again, and then harden. Then the thing leapt up again and went back to the attack! I had to cut it down a further two times before the cursed thing finally stopped moving: and even then I had to hack the creature into many pieces and spread them far and wide among the trees, to be completely sure.

I do not know if I truly 'killed' the Spriggan: I had heard that the fairykin are immortal. Even chopped into pieces and spread out among the pine trees of Hirstaang Forest, it may have still lived. As I carried on my way, I imagined tendrils and rivulets of the Spriggan's sap weaving their way through the undergrowth, linking each of the splinters of wood together in a great web, and finally drawing the creature back together as a whole.

Or perhaps the pieces would rot and be drawn into the soil - and another Spriggan would grow near that thicket of brush.

I found myself wishing - and not for the first time (especially since the moment I learned that I was dying) - that I was more resilient.

That I was immortal.


Anonymous Dnomyar said...

Frost can still be immortal. In theory. If Frost gets Corprus, then gets cured... will he become immortal, or will the magicka leak still be killing him? Just a theory i've been developing while I've been reading this.
Anyway, great work so far. I am excited to see what happens next.

Friday, February 17, 2006 11:53:00 pm  
Anonymous Random said...

Don't we all want to be immortal?

Saturday, February 18, 2006 3:29:00 am  
Anonymous Matar said...

He can also become a vampire to be immortal...

Or Corpus...

Or becomeing a Lich.

Oh if you get cured of Corpus you are immune to all desieses.....

Saturday, February 18, 2006 8:23:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Matar is wright, you can become a lich. Just ask M'Aiq the Liar. He can help Frost :D
Keep on the good Work, man.

Saturday, February 18, 2006 9:36:00 am  
Anonymous Person said...

Now this brings up an interesting question. Will Frost continue looking for the airship crew and forget about the captain?

Or will he fulfill the Bloodmoon Prophecy and defeat the Hunter?

Only time will tell...

Saturday, February 18, 2006 12:55:00 pm  
Anonymous Person said...

Oh, yeah, Joseph what version of BB (Better Bodies) are you using?

Saturday, February 18, 2006 1:00:00 pm  
Anonymous Stygian said...

Person said...

Now this brings up an interesting question. Will Frost continue looking for the airship crew and forget about the captain?

Or will he fulfill the Bloodmoon Prophecy and defeat the Hunter?

Only time will tell...


So why ask?

Saturday, February 18, 2006 5:58:00 pm  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thanks everyone.

Stygian: Person was probably asking a rhetorical question. Which is fine. :-)

Person: It's Better Bodies 2.2, I think. Why do you ask?

- Joseph.

Saturday, February 18, 2006 8:45:00 pm  
Anonymous Person said...

Stygian: Sorry 'bout that. As Joseph said, it was Rhetorical.

Joseph: Curiosity. :)

Saturday, February 18, 2006 9:48:00 pm  
Anonymous Stygian said...

Stygian: Person was probably asking a rhetorical question. Which is fine. :-)

I was being an ass. My question was also rhetorical.

Sunday, February 19, 2006 3:34:00 am  
Anonymous Stygian said...

I simply have to find SOME way to post in these things...



Sunday, February 19, 2006 3:34:00 am  
Anonymous Dabigpman said...

stygian said "I was being an ass. My question was also rhetorical. "

Wow u being an ass.....i recall sumin like that.

Great chapter Joseph

Sunday, February 19, 2006 12:23:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting take on the Spriggans' coming-back-to-lifeness....or something...
keep up the good work, Joseph.


Thursday, February 23, 2006 3:26:00 am  
Blogger Joseph Kennedy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 12:41:00 am  
Blogger Joseph Kennedy said...

Random: Don't we all want to be immortal?
Not all of us. At least not me. It would be very sad, to watch everyone I know grow old and die, meet new people, grow close to them, and watch them die too....and over and over again, for eternity.
THAT is what immortality means to me.
- Joe

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 12:43:00 am  

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