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, March 08, 2006

Chapter 97: On the way out

"A scamp? Only a scamp?" Guild Steward Edwinna snorted. "I suppose we should be thankful it was nothing worse, but really; I don't see that they needed to run to me about such a piffling thing. Anyway, Edward; thankyou for looking into it."

It was relatively early in the morning, and I had just finished describing to Edwinna how the 'disturbance' on the edge of Maar Gan had been due to Huleen's apprentice experimenting with Conjuration magic. The early hours clearly did not agree with the Steward: she looked as if she had spent half the previous night buried in a book, rather than her bed. I was fairly sure I knew which book it was, too.

"Here: I'll need you to return this to Sirilonwe." Edwinna said, dropping 'Chimarvamidium' into my hands. "It wasn't about a Dwemer construct after all; can you believe it? Just a clutch of men talking about armour, wars and surprise attacks." She rolled her eyes. "In any case, I think I have something else you can do for me, if you'll come see me after you've returned that?"

I nodded and departed with the old book, flicking through its pages as I made my way to the hall's guide platform. It did indeed seem to be an account of a conversation between a group of warlords in ancient times, as they planned an attack of some kind - that's all I gathered from the few small sections I skimmed through, at any rate. My mind was more on Sirilonwe. I was very glad that Edwinna had finished with the book so quickly: I could not have hoped for a better excuse to visit the silver-haired Altmer at the Vivec guild hall again.

She was just sitting down to breakfast in the dining chamber when I arrived. There was an early-morning chill in the air, and the tall elf was wrapped in a warm-looking black and white coat. As soon as her striking golden eyes met mine, she flashed a brilliant smile and invited me to join her. For the first time, I was almost thankful for the strange way in which my appetite had been behaving the previous few weeks.

To put it simply, I felt hungry far less often than I used to - on most days. On some days, though, I would feel a hunger so sudden and intense that I almost could not bear the time it took to get food into my mouth. Of course in the time since the magicka leak had sprung up inside me, my body had developed all sorts of odd idiosyncrasies. My drastically increased strength and grace, my mysteriously transformed face, and my accelerated aging obviously being the most drastic of these. I sometimes wondered whether the other myriad little things my body had begun to do were in some way caused by the magicka leak, or whether they were simply all part of growing old, and I was suffering many of them all at once.

In any case, my lack of appetite that morning meant that I had not yet had breakfast: so I could (relatively) comfortably sit with Sirilonwe and make myself eat something.

"You have finished it already?" Sirilonwe took 'Chimarvamidium' from me, and instead of resting it on the dining table as I would have expected, laid it across her lap, out of immediate sight. I guessed that she must have been somewhat protective of the book; and that was why Edwinna had seemed to hint that I might have needed to steal it, rather than ask for it directly. "Did you find it interesting?"

"I... well -" I struggled, my mind racing -"it wasn't quite what I was expecting... the same for Edwinna, too: she thought it would contain more on... Dwemer constructs. Historical accounts from so long ago are always interesting, though."

I think I almost noticeably sighed in relief. Sirilonwe smiled in such a way that indicated to me that she might indeed have noticed - but soon we were deeply engaged in conversation, just like the previous day. For the most part, we had the room to ourselves: members of the Mages Guild were known for retiring to - and rising from - bed quite late. I did, however, notice Trebonius Artorius, the Archmage of Morrowind, pass by the entrance to the dining chamber several times. On the second occasion - and the third, too - I distinctly saw the leader of the guild throw a decidedly odd look the way of Sirilonwe and myself.

Sirilonwe seemed to be studiously ignoring the Trebonius' presence each time, but her sweeping eyebrows were crinkling together slightly whenever he came near. I opened my mouth to ask about the Archmage (I had never spoken to him myself), but Sirilonwe merely shook her head gently, stopping me. Soon we were talking about something else.

Once we had finished our leisurely breakfast, she asked me to come visit her again.

"Come this evening, if you are able;" Sirilonwe said, gracefully brushing a few bread crumbs from her coat; "or the next would be fine, too. I have some books I think you would be interested in."

She would not be drawn further, only repeating that I would have to return that night to find out. So, reluctantly I left the Vivec guild to see what it was Edwinna had in mind for me.

"All I need, Mister Frost, is a Dwemer tube." The Ald'ruhn Guild Steward said, tapping a rough illustration of a glass cylinder, capped with metal at either end. "My research can't properly continue without one."

I glanced down again at the illustration in Edwinna's book. I could only assume that it was a pale reflection of the real item, as the tube did not look all that significant to me.

"Now, I remember seeing several in 'Arkngthunch-Sturdumz' a while back -" Edwinna continued, sounding out the difficult Dwemer name slowly - "why I didn't just take one while I was there, I do not know." The Steward looked irritated. "Ark - Arking... the ruins are on the coast west of Ald Velothi - or if you're more familiar with Gnisis, just head north-west from there. I can't think of a better place to look."

Again, it was a more interesting task than scouring bookstores or delivering potions - and it seemed a good way to pass the time until the evening, when I could see what it was Sirilonwe had been talking about. I accepted.

Folms teleported me to the Berandas stronghold, just south of Gnisis, and I struck out to the north-west from there. The region between Gnisis and the ruin was extensively scored by rocky gullies; like certain parts of the Ashlands, only these were shallower, more frequent and more narrow. A multitude of hanging rope bridges were slung across the many gullies, making my progress much easier than it may have been.

Still, the uneven terrain made it difficult to see my way, and it was mid-afternoon by the time I found the ruin. There is not much to say about Arkngthunch-Sturdumz: it was very much like Arkngthand; the place where Hasphat Antabolis sent me to retrieve the Dwemer 'puzzle-box'. I found a tube of the sort Edwinna wanted; and it looked every bit as unremarkable as the illustration she had shown me.

Steward Edwinna was nowhere to be found when I returned - which was odd - so I left the tube on her desk and returned to Wolfen Castle to wait for the night to come. There was no doubt. I had only met her the previous day, but I could not get Sirilonwe of Dark Copse out of my mind.

When the time finally arrived, I found her in her chambers, bent over several open books on her desk. Without a word, she motioned me over and indicated that I should read. The books were all hand-written by different people, and looked very old. Each, I soon discovered, was open to a passage on the subject of lengthening one's lifespan through magic.

I saw immediately what she was doing: she, like many (probably all, actually) in the guild, knew of my fatal condition - and she was trying to help me. I glanced up to find Sirilonwe smiling lightly - and I realised that I was smiling too. We settled in to read - her at the desk, and I seated on the edge of her bed...

... But after a time it became apparent that every passage referred only to alleged processes and rituals for elves - and no-one else. The human races, it seemed, were stuck with their already short time in this world.

"I'm so sorry, Edward;" Sirilonwe said, coming to sit on the bed next to me; "I began to find all those books that mentioned longer life, and..." The Altmer woman trailed off, and there was a sombre pause before she went on. "I know you don't like to talk about it, but - I heard about your... condition. Can I ask: what's it like? Are you really aging so quickly? I mean - can you feel yourself aging?"

I was surprised.

"It's not that I mind talking about it -" I replied - "I merely... I don't know. It seems like no-one can help me, so it would be maudlin of me to talk about it overly much."

After a moment, I said:

"My hair stopped growing a month or so ago - I think. I'm not sure when it was, exactly. I don't need to shave anymore; which is something, I suppose!"

I attempted a grin, but nothing much happened. Sirilonwe looked shocked - and to tell the truth I felt a little shocked too, at hearing myself say such things aloud. I mostly did not permit myself to even think about things like that. I found that I was staring down at my knees, feeling slightly embarrassed at what I had just said, for some reason.

"Oh - you poor thing." Sirilonwe sighed, reaching over to part the curtain of hair that had fallen in front of my eyes; and at the same time revealing the glowing crescent-shaped mark that crossed my brow, eye and cheek. "May I?" She asked, staring at the curious mark.

I nodded slightly, and she leaned in very close, studying the blotchy, luminescent patch of skin. I could feel her breath on my face, and the moment seemed to hang there for a long, long time. Eventually she drew back, sighing.

"Again - I'm sorry, Edward. I thought I could help, but..." she shook her head slowly - "I really can't think of anything. Unless - " she added with a faint smile - "you wanted to become a vampire."

She meant it in jest, obviously - and that was the way I took it.

"Oh come now, be serious." I said, the corners of my mouth twitching upwards despite myself. "I've met a number of vampires. Mindless beasts, all of them."

Sirilonwe appeared mildly ruffled at this.

"They're not all like that, actually. I told you I study spirits and the undead - well, I've read about a lot of vampires that actually socialise with mortals. There are a lot of rumours about the Mages Guild on the central mainland, actually. And: vampires do not age. So it's not that silly an idea." She said, slapping me playfully on the arm. I could tell by her tone that despite what she said, she was still joking about the idea of becoming a vampire.

We went on to speak about vampires for a while longer: I told her about those I had turned to dust, and she told me about past important members of the Imperial government who were said to have been vampires. The hour grew late, however, and frequent yawning pauses in our conversation indicated that it was time for me to leave. We stood for a moment looking at one another, until Sirilonwe suddenly reached out and drew me into an embrace, again breathing something that sounded like "poor thing".

I hesitated, leaning back. Her height made a close embrace somewhat awkward for me - especially since I was unsure exactly how our relationship stood. After an instant though, I gave in and left myself be drawn close - my head between her breasts. She was certainly very tall.

Once in my chambers at the castle, I lay awake for a long while, despite the late hour.

A vampire. Sirilonwe had set off a spark in my mind.


Anonymous dabigpman said...

i actually became a vampire doing her quest. i loved being a vampire. it made you feel free.....until you went out in the sun. i quickly got that fixed and i came out with a nice sword (eltonbrand).

Thursday, March 09, 2006 2:34:00 am  
Anonymous Person said...

Well well, can it truly be? Is Edward actually contemplating being a vampire? This is going to be interesting...

Good Chapter as always.

Oooh and for bonus points a bit of Morrowind trivia. does anyone know What Resdayn means?

Thursday, March 09, 2006 3:57:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

scripted spells, turn into bat! fly fly high in the air

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

Person: Wasn't that the name for Vvardenfell before the Imperials took it over?

Thursday, March 09, 2006 9:06:00 am  
Anonymous Person said...

Hmmmm... I'll accept that! Resdayn was the name of Morrowind (including Vvardenfell district and mainland) before the Imperial occupation began at the start of The Third Era.

Very good uh, um, You!

Thursday, March 09, 2006 3:09:00 pm  
Anonymous Stygian said...

A Frosty Vampire....

Friday, March 10, 2006 12:53:00 am  
Anonymous Random said...

A Vampire. What a brilliant idea! The whole relationship between Sirilonwe(Hope I spelt it right!) and Frost is very good, rather than going with Ahnissi

As always, an excellen chapter.

Friday, March 10, 2006 2:51:00 am  
Blogger Joseph Kennedy said...

Oh yeah. The best part begins.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 1:10:00 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home