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, April 21, 2006

Chapter 116: Tears for the ancestors

The Ashlander woman's cry of "vampire!" caused a ripple of movement through the camp; tent-flaps were thrown open and spewed out men and women armed with longbows - which were quickly trained on me. The woman who raised the alarm had been uncommonly sharp: I had not thought myself close enough to be recognisable as a vampire.

When I made no move beyond stepping in front of Sirilonwe (in the event that arrows began to fly), a few of the armed Ashlanders - who had fortunately not immediately released their taut bow-strings - began to relax their stance, lowering their weapons.

"What do you want, vampire?" One of them called out; a man with black tattoos around his eyes.

I was perhaps a little surprised that they did not attack me outright upon recognising me as a vampire; but then again, they were quite far removed from the 'civilised' Temple-going Dunmer of the native Vvardenfell towns. It was the Tribunal Temple that held a special hatred for vampires, I reminded myself: not the Dunmer race as a whole.

"I want to learn more about the Nerevarine prophecies." I replied. "I'm told that the leaders of the Nerevarine faithful are here, in the Urshilaku people." Having looked over my notes from my meeting with Hassour Zainsubani before leaving for the Urshilaku camp, I had refreshed my memory as to a couple of relevant names - and I felt it was time to use them. "Can Ashkhan Sul-Matuul and the wise-woman Nibani Maesa be found here?"

Dropping the names of (who I assumed to be) the most important people in the Urshilaku tribe - and the way in which I had moved to protect Sirilonwe - seemed to satisfy the armed Ashlanders that I could be trusted to enter the camp - albeit surrounded at a distance by a number of bowmen. I felt confident that, as long as I made no move that could be construed as threatening, I would not find myself pierced by a volley of arrows.

However, it was (of course) not quite as simple as that. Sirilonwe and I were left standing in the centre of the camp - a rough circle of yurts - with the armed men and women all around us.

"Vampire, you may not speak with our Ashkhan or the wise-woman just for virtue of asking for them by name." The same tattooed Dunmer said. "Wait here and I will bring the gulakhan."

I soon learned that the 'gulakhan' was an impressively-muscled Dunmer called Zabamund, and that his title marked him as the 'champion' of the tribe - and Sul-Matuul's second-in-command.

"So, vampire Frost," Zabamund said (upon learning my name), "you are here to talk of the Nerevarine, and the prophecies about him? You have questions?"

The large Dunmer was regarding me with an expression of great interest - curious to see what the 'oddly-civilised' vampire would do, perhaps. For my part, I was remembering Zainsubani's advice about the popularity of gift-giving with the Ashlander people.

"Yes, I am." I replied. "Though I think it would be ill-mannered of me to ask for such a favour without first offering something in return. I would like to present you with a gift... however I don't know what would best suit you, gulakhan."

"Ha!" Barked Zabamund, apparently well-amused. "Well said. I'll make it easy for you, then: among strangers, we honour our gift-giving custom with gold. A tribute of two-hundred coins, and you can speak to Sul-Matuul. He knows more about the prophecies than I do, in any case - and as well he should!"

That was easy for me. I counted out roughly two-hundred septims from my coin-pouch and tossed them over to the gulakhan.

"The Ashkhan may be angry with me for this, but -" the muscled Dunmer hefted the money happily in one hand - "I think I can bear that."

Zabamund vanished into one of the well-appointed yurts underneath a large secondary shade-cloth, to emerge a moment later followed by a wiry but quick-looking Dunmer, who I took to be Sul-Matuul, the Ashkhan. He was surrounded by a nimbus of magical light (a protection spell of some kind), and his hand rested upon the handle of an intricately-carved silver axe, hanging from his belt. He was obviously prepared for any duplicity on my part, and looked as if he was indeed not very impressed with his gulakhan.

"Vampire." He addressed me baldly, dislike etched into his features. "I don't care what Zabamund told you - I will not traffic with-"

In a flicker of movement barely perceptible to the mortal eyes around me, I dashed in close to Sul-Matuul and let my Charm spell leap from my fingers to his rigidly unwelcoming body - before returning to the exact spot I had been standing - next to Sirilonwe. There was a rustle of tense movement among the Ashlander bowmen that surrounded us: they had seen me move, but could not not tell where I had moved to - or what I had done. Sul-Matuul did not notice, but his manner changed abruptly, and in mid-sentence:

"... one who has not offered me an appropriate tribute."

I dutifully counted out another two-hundred septims and tossed them over. With a Charm spell and suitable bribe in place, the Ashkhan - his hand dropping from his axe - was in a much more helpful mood.

"You think that you are the Nerevarine?" Sul-Matuul, an incredulous look on his face, exclaimed after I explained my interest in the prophecies.

"It... seems that I might be." I replied, gritting my teeth. It galled me to put on such an absurd charade, but Caius had been specific... "At least -" I continued; "according to what I've heard of the prophecies, it seems that I... fit the description."

The Ashkhan shook his head, perplexed.

"It's ridiculous, but... if what you say about your birth is true..."Sul-Matuul appeared thoughtful for a moment, then seemed to reach a decision. "It is not really my place to decide such things. Far be it from me to judge, when wise-woman Nibani is the one who should test you. She will not help one who is not a member of the Nerevarine cult, though. She is stubborn. Although... if you were a Clanfriend - an adopted member of the Ashlander tribes - " he explained; "then she might be willing."

Sul-Matuul became businesslike, as if the bizarre backdrop of a circle of armed tribesmen training their arrows on a vampire and his mortal companion was nothing unusual.

"An initiation rite is required for someone to join the tribes as a Clanfriend; and I have one in mind. A harrowing. You must be judged worthy by our -" he indicated the Urshilaku people around him - "ancestors and spirits..."

The Ashkhan sent us on our way, bound for the nearby burial caverns of the Urshilaku. He wanted me to fetch an old bonemold longbow; a family heirloom of sorts. It was called 'Bonebiter' (leading me to assume that it was enchanted, as it was customary to give enchanted items a name of some kind), and was apparently still guarded by the spirit of Sul-Matuul's father, Sul-Senipul - somewhere in the burial caverns.

Sirilonwe and I found the rock cairn Sul-Matuul had told us to look for - on the northern shore a little way east of the Urshilaku camp - and from there we struck out south for a way (again, as directed), until we came across the entrance to the caverns. I left Sirilonwe by the simple wooden door that capped the dark tunnels, as the Ashkhan had insisted that I undergo the harrowing on my own. He had gone so far as to say that we would be watched, so I thought it best to comply. Sirilonwe was not keen on the idea, but was persuaded in the end. She sat herself down on a nearby ashen slope and began to practice some complicated-looking spells, as I pushed my way into the burial caverns.

A feeling of deep sadness pervaded the caverns. Not hopeless despair or despondency: just simple sadness for those interred within. Even the rocks seemed to weep, for there was water everywhere: running down the walls, flowing through the lower parts of the caverns, even falling in great torrents from fissures in the walls. Where so much water could have come from was a mystery: the Ashlands were a desert, after all. I waded out into the icy water, feeling the pressure of a thousand mourned souls upon me.

The caverns of sadness were deep, and it was a long time before I came out again.


Blogger Mindstroller said...

Touching. Frosty must be one of those compassionate vampires.

Saturday, April 22, 2006 5:20:00 am  
Anonymous DaBigPman said... see tons of those running around these days. OMG! jk!

great chapter Jospeh.

Saturday, April 22, 2006 5:27:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aundae family crest ring...
Did you know.. That if wearing this same ring, the Sinyaramen ordered potion you as the newly Aundae vampire, you can still get this same potion.. Tusamircul will continue to give you this potion even after, or once you are no longer an vampire.. This potion bost your heatlh and fig sats upto 1000 health and fig...

Saturday, April 22, 2006 8:22:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um...anonymous? What in the hell did you just say?

Great chapter!


Saturday, April 22, 2006 8:45:00 am  
Anonymous Person said...

I will become violent with my computer if you tell me that you didn't pick up the Magebane. Did you pick it up?

The Ashlanders were a bit more willing to speak with you than I thought they would be. I liked how you charmed Sul-Matuul.

Morriwnd Trivia - Where is the book 'Last Scabbard of Akrash'?

Saturday, April 22, 2006 10:15:00 am  
Blogger Devlin said...

once again, you take a simple level that I breezed through at FILL it with plot, tension, and several other random literary elements which will be on my final in one month... I hate finals

Saturday, April 22, 2006 1:00:00 pm  
Anonymous Matar said...

When I did this level I died 3 times.

I was like level... 20.

Then again MWSE was making every monster about 5X stronger and my diffivulty was at like +100.

...So yeah....

Saturday, April 22, 2006 1:14:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok tip two: Jion both the Fighters and the Thieves Guilds.. First jion the Fighters, but do not advance in any the racks, until you get the Code Book mission..
Once you have Sottilde's Code Book drop it!! Then ask Sugar-lips for membership within the Thieves Guild.. Now return the Code Book to the Fighters Guild.. Now!! You should be members of both these Guilds...

Sunday, April 23, 2006 6:11:00 am  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thanks everyone. :-)

Person: Yes, Magebane is quite a sword... :-P

Tip-giving-anonymous: You don't actually have to trick the game that way if you want to join both those guilds. Just join them and do the quests normally, and then to get the code book, you can do a couple of things. I'm pretty sure that if Sottilde likes you enough (bribe/persuade/charm her), she will just give the book to you. You can also (and this is what I did on my very first run-through of MW way back when) pickpocket the book, if you are good enough.

As to your other tip, I couldn't quite understand you either.

- Joseph.

Sunday, April 23, 2006 10:23:00 am  
Anonymous Person said...

Whew. Magebane is my favourite sword so... go kill stuff with it!

Well Joseph, if you are part of the Thieves Guild when you attempt to get the book from Sottilde, no matter what you do she doesn't give it to you... willingly. You have to kill her or Pickpocket it.


When you are receiving Quests from Gentleman Jim Stacey he asks you to Bribe Eydis Fire-Eye with the Bitter Cup. After she receives the cup, she says you dont have to get the Codebook from Sottilde or collect the debt money from Desele in Suran.

Morriwnd Trivia - Where is the book 'The LAst Scabbard of Akrash'?

Morrowind Trivia - Who is Engaer?

Sunday, April 23, 2006 12:16:00 pm  
Blogger Joseph said...

Person: Is that right? I guess I must not have been in the Thieves Guild the time I persuaded Sottilde to give me the book. *shrug*

Well, as you said; pickpocketing it does work. And is quite fitting for a member of the Thieves Guild. ;-)

- Joseph.

Sunday, April 23, 2006 2:27:00 pm  
Anonymous Stygian said...

Really late/early post.

Sunday, April 23, 2006 3:08:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok on the tips I give I goning to need more time.. I'am not an good speller.. As you can see.. I'll need someone to help me!!! So that I can expain better!!! Just give me some time...

Sunday, April 23, 2006 3:41:00 pm  
Anonymous Person said...

Personally? I've never succeeded in pickpocketing. Every time I try, I fail. Gets on my nerves.

Sunday, April 23, 2006 6:00:00 pm  

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