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, February 22, 2006

Chapter 91: Harrowed

After leaving the Valbrandr Barrow, I spent a few miserable hours trudging through the flying snow, fending off wolves, bears, Bare-Sarks, unusually large boars called 'Tusked Bristlebacks', and even 'Ricklings' (little blue-skinned 'men' with long, drooping moustaches) riding Tusked Bristlebacks. The Ricklings were by far the most dangerous beings I had yet faced on Solstheim, as they were incredibly strong for their size - and very fast.

The snowstorm eventually lifted, and the sun shone down on the glittering, brilliant-white snow, all but blinding me. Not having to struggle against the driving wind and sleet made the going much easier, but the increased visibility only doubled the frequency of the attacks I suffered. Packs of wolves, boars or Ricklings could now see me from across the varied fields and clearings I traversed. By the time I reached a small settlement marked on my map as 'Thirsk', my fur armour was in tatters - and so were my nerves.

Thirsk was not much of a settlement, to tell the truth; it was a mead-hall - an Inn - more than anything else. The few people I spoke with there were pleasant enough; the chieftain of Thirsk, Skjoldr Wolf-Runner, even invited me to share a late lunch with him - for the price of news from the south. He seemed troubled at my tale of the (apparent) pack of werewolves that had attacked Fort Frostmoth, saying that werewolves were normally thought to be quite rare. He too could think of no better people to speak to regarding the attack than the Skaal. The chieftain told me that the people of Thirsk were actually descended from the Skaal: they had split from the main community hundreds of years ago, over a schism of some kind.

Talking and eating with Skjoldr Wolf-Runner made for a welcome respite from the harrowing day I had endured thus far. It was a worthwhile stop in my journey, too: the chieftain told me of a few landmarks that would help me on my way to the Skaal Village, and ruled out the area near the mead-hall as a possible place where I might find a stranded airship crew. He told me that people of Thirsk regularly hunted the lands around Lake Fjalding, the Isinfier Plains, and the Felsaad Coast. Along with Hirstaang Forest, this accounted for almost the entire southern two-thirds of the island. I knew that Legionnaires from Fort Frostmoth patrolled the forest, so if neither the Legion or the people of Thirsk had seen Louis' crew, I had only the northernmost part of Solstheim to search.

Upon seeing the sorry state of my armour, Skjoldr also directed me to the small community's armourer - though it might be more accurate to describe him as a furrier. The barrel-chested man specialised in the fabrication of armour from fur pelts, and luckily for me, had sufficient examples of his work on hand for me to walk away fully-clothed in a combination of bear-skin and wolf-skin 'armour'. I had thought my rent, torn and blood-soaked fur armour beyond repair; fit for no better use than to line a dog's bed - but the furrier assured me that he could make something of them. I left them with him in exchange for a moderate discount on my new armour.

So, feeling all the better for my full stomach and my new warm furs, I set out to the north - walking along the ridge above the frozen surface of Lake Fjalding. The day was getting on, but with Skjoldr Wolf-Runner's directions fresh in my mind, I made good time and came upon the outskirts of the Skaal Village at dusk. The collection of wooden buildings, with their sharply-sloping roofs, was gathered at the top of a steep hill that afforded spectacular views in all directions: especially to the west. In the day's last remaining light I could see across the valley in the west - across the Isild River where it split into the Harstrad River, across the fields of fresh snow, the scattered copses of pine trees - all the way to the white peaks of the Moesring Mountains.

I was stopped by a Nordic man in a heavy-looking set of fur-lined scale-mail before I made it very far into the village. It became obvious that he was a guardsman, as he asked me what my business was so far from home. He of course did not need to know exactly where my home was to know that I was very far from it: the same would have been true of anyone not native to the village, so very remote it was.

Hoping that I was doing the right thing (that I would not cause offence), I retrieved the human skull Gaea Artoria had given me from my pack, carefully unwrapped my cloak from around it, and showed it to the guardsman.

"I brought a gift for the Skaal people, as I have questions only they can answer." I said. "Can you tell me who I should present this to?"

The guardsman stared at the skull for a moment. I followed his gaze, and for the first time noticed a series of faint - and very intricate - carvings on the skull's crown. The man eventually grunted, and told me to follow him.

I was soon in the Great Hall of the Skaal, standing before another chieftain: Tharsten Heart-Fang. He was a broad-faced man with greying hair and beard, who when taking the skull from me, adopted the attitude one might when addressing someone who had just offered to atone for damages long since caused.

"Imperials! Pfah! They should learn to leave things as they are. I thank you for returning the bones of our ancestors - but they should not have been moved to begin with!" Tharsten shook his head, and added darkly: "The Imperials shall come to a bad end if they do not realise the error in their ways."

"This 'bad end' may be nearer than you think;" I replied; "this past night they were attacked in force..."

I recounted what had happened at Fort Frostmoth, studying the Skaal chieftain's face all the while. He seemed genuinely surprised at the news:

"Werewolves! Abominations! You suspect us because we believe wolves deserve our respect and worship: I can see it plain on your face, Breton... but if it truly was werewolves that attacked the Imperials, then you can be sure we had naught to do with it. Man is not meant to live a dual live as both rational being and wild beast. A person touched by a werewolf's taint - even if it was the result of noble battle against the things - must leave the Skaal forever. We have nothing to do with them. It was not us."

Nothing. Tharsten knew nothing that could help me. A decisive end to my investigation for Gaea, it seemed - since the grey-bearded Nord went on to tell me that if Captain Carius had indeed been taken by the werewolves, there was no hope for him any longer: by that time he was certainly dead... or worse - he had been 'turned'. If that was true, would he try to return to the fort regardless, I wondered? Or would he join the pack? What would such men and women do with their days - in the times when they were men? Too many questions, and no way to answer them.

Instead I asked Tharsten if he knew anything of the missing airship crew. After a laborious explanation of what an 'airship' was, the chieftain admitted he knew nothing of any people lost in the northern part of Solstheim: but the Skaal knew little of what went on over the Moesring mountains. So, Tharsten was little help, in the end.

I would have to continue the search on my own. So much time had passed since I had embarked on that rescue mission. Would I find them? Would I be in time?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, Frost. People in the cold of the Moesring Mountains would die in two days at the most, and they've been there for more than two days. Apparently Mentor's ring is not doing its job very well.....


Thursday, February 23, 2006 3:46:00 am  
Blogger Joseph said...

Noozooroo: The thing is, Frost doesn't know whether they may have found some kind of shelter or not, whether they are indeed actually on or around the Moesring Mountains, or even if they are in trouble at all.

In Frost's mind, they are probably in trouble, and probably around the Moesring Mountains - but they may have found shelter.

- Joseph.

Thursday, February 23, 2006 8:09:00 am  
Anonymous Matar said...

I wonder how well Frosty will fair aginst the Ice wolf...

Thursday, February 23, 2006 12:01:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it funny that someone with the last name of FROST is having to combat such harsh cold.

and that im so enchanted by your writing. You and Tim have brought me back into morrowind and im loving it

Thursday, February 23, 2006 1:41:00 pm  
Anonymous Matar said...

Indeed! I start'd to play morrowind agine just because of this fic!

Friday, February 24, 2006 11:27:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Joseph, you're right, it's just that actually playing the game doesn't bring much life to it. I guess in my mind theyre all standing around in the cold telling each other little secrets...


Monday, February 27, 2006 1:48:00 pm  
Blogger Meej-Dar said...

You put 'Rickling'. It's 'Riekling'. With an 'e'.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011 7:01:00 pm  

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