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.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Chapter 135: At the top of the mountain

We returned to Red Mountain the following evening; appearing at our teleportation Marks in the abandoned mine near Odrosal. There was a path leading out from the mine, carved into the south-western side of Red Mountain. Sirilonwe and I followed it around to the north-west, bound for Gate Citadel Vemynal - and hopefully the hammer Sunder. I had thought the path might be sheltered from the Blight storms somewhat - being in the lee of the mountain - but it was not to be. The winds were just as bad as on our ascent of the southern slope the previous night - and the fighting was just as heavy, too.

The south-western slopes of the great volcano seemed to have been abandoned to the undead. They were everywhere: animated skeletons caked with ash; zombies and bonewalkers; fast, flitting spirits - all of them oblivious to the violent Blight storm, and listlessly wandering the ashen wasteland as if they had been there forever.


During the journey, we passed underneath a Dwemer citadel, perched high above us on a rocky bluff. It looked quite large - from our vantage point - but curiously, it was not marked on the map the Buoyant Armiger gave me. In any case, we decided to leave it alone - there was no point stirring up more trouble: we had quite enough of it already. I could hear something through the storm that I had hoped to never hear again: the great, booming pulse of a dragon beating its wings. The sound was coming from off to the east, somewhere above us - near where I estimated the top of the mountain to be.

I had, of course, told Sirilonwe about my previous encounter with (or perhaps I should say 'flight from') a dragon; and we exchanged concerned glances whenever the faint roar of the dragon filtered through the howling wind. Still, the poor visibility brought about by the ever-present Blight storm would hopefully keep us safe. We continued on, and the path eventually twisted around to lead us down the mountainside a short way, to approach a jumble of haphazard Dwemer towers from above: Gate Citadel Vemynal.

The interior of Vemynal was much smaller than that of Odrosal: but the defenders were waiting for us, this time. We hacked and burned (or froze) our way through the ashen and eyeless followers of House Dagoth, and found Sunder in the deepest chamber of the ruin: in the hand of an Ash Vampire.

I cursed - and ducked out of the way - as the beast swung the deceptively small-looking hammer at my head. The weapon struck the wall of the cramped chamber; letting out a deafening, dissonant tone, and leaving a dent in the thick, heavy metal. Sirilonwe was behind him, and raked her Daedric wakizashi down his back. When the Ash Vampire jerked around to fend her off, I sent my paralysing spell into his side - and thankfully, it held.

Before the thing could regain its mobility, I hacked off the hand that held Sunder, and awkwardly pried open the taloned fingers from around the handle (again, trying not to touch the artefact with anything but the Wraithguard) as we began our flight from the citadel. I discarded the grotesque hand as soon as the hammer was free: there was no telling what the appendage might have done once the paralysation spell wore off.

Once outside again, we rushed back to a dark tunnel we had found nearby, and placed our teleportation Marks inside. The sun was nearly up, and we were faced with another frantic dash back to the castle. This time we were more fortunate, however, and made it with a little more time to spare. Our nerves were already on edge: nearly being burned by the sunlight would not have been a welcome addition to our worries.


It was done: all three of Kagrenac's Tools were in my possession - and very impressive they were, too. Wraithguard, as I have mentioned, had become a permanent part of my armour. I considered making Keening my main weapon, as it was a superlative blade; but I could not abide the constant worry that I - or Sirilonwe, perhaps - might accidentally touch it without the Wraithguard. Vivec had told us that this would result in 'a mortal wound'; to use his words.

Studying the hammer was a little difficult for Sirilonwe and I, since I was the only one who could hold it; and even then, only with the hand protected by Wraithguard - but we determined that the enchantment on it augmented the physical strength of the wielder by a tremendous amount. It was a pity that I was hopeless at using hammers as weapons; Sunder seemed capable of delivering blows of devastating power.


After studying the hammer, we spent the daylight hours attending to Mages Guild business, trying not to think too much about what we would be doing that evening. And it had to be that evening. Word of both Sunder and Keening's loss would have no doubt already reached Dagoth Ur. The time lost while we were trapped inside by the sun was bad enough: who knew what awaited us in Dagoth Ur's citadel, with the time he had had to prepare for our arrival.


We again departed for the Red Mountain region just after sunset, and struck out to the south-east - to Dagoth Ur. It was another long slog up the mountain, with heavy resistance along the way - but things became much worse when we finally reached the top, and peered down into Red Mountain's massive crater.

A tremendous, stinking gale of foul, blighted air spewed from the crater. This was the source of all the Blight on Morrowind. The heat from the lake of molten rock somewhere beneath the choking cloud of ash was nearly unbearable. A number of Dwemer buildings and towers were perched around the inside of the crater; the forest of spiked tips atop the structures arrayed so far below us making me realise just how perilously deep the crater was.

Worst of all, though, was the large, pot-bellied dragon squatting on one of the Dwemer buildings down in the crater. We had no chance to avoid it; it was as if the thing was waiting for us - or perhaps it could just smell us. The dragon launched itself into the air - its great wings fanning the clouds of ash over the lake of molten rock into a flat, plate-like shape for a moment - and came screaming up at us. I cannot imagine a more terrible foe for a vampire than fire-breathing dragon.


"Find a way in!" I shouted to Sirilonwe, and leapt from the lip of the volcano. My 'Touch the clouds' spell took me far across the crater, and up to one of the Dwemer towers built near the top of the steep caldera.

Sirilonwe cried out to me in dismay, but it was too late to take back what I had done. As I soared through the air, I sent my 'Blizzard' spell streaking out to the dragon, to keep its attention on me, rather than Sirilonwe. It worked; and as I caught hold of the needle-like pole atop the tower to arrest my movement, the scaly beast inhaled with the sound of a gale shrieking through a narrow space, and spat a gout of fire at me. I kept my grip on the pole, and swung around it to avoid the flames - and to build up enough momentum to leap out onto the dragon's back.

This may sound extremely foolhardy, but really, I just wanted to be somewhere where I could remain behind the fire-breathing dragon's head. I wrapped my arm around a sharp, curved spine (shaped like a trama-vine's thorn), and held on tight to avoid sliding off the smooth, scaly back. I think the dragon was actually not sure where I had gone. It soared in a wide circle above the crater, twisting its head this way and that; looking for me. The beast did not realise I was perched on its back until I awkwardly pried one of its scales off with my Daedric katana.

The dragon bucked once, trying to throw me off - but it was too late for the beast. I had already discharged my powerful 'Holding Field' spell into the exposed flesh under the scale; paralysed, the dragon plummeted down into Red Mountain's noisome crater. I leapt off and sailed down to a ledge halfway up the caldera, where I could see Sirilonwe waiting for me. I landed gracefully next to her, as she gave me a look of mingled relief, pride, and amusement. A shocking -crash- sounded deep in the crater, as (I assume) the dragon struck the lake of molten rock.

I have never once regretted spending so much money to have my enchanted 'Infallible' belt made. I doubt I would have survived that fall, otherwise.


During my potentially (alright; almost definitely) foolish act of heroism, Sirilonwe had indeed found an entrance to Dagoth Ur's citadel. In contrast to the spectacular environment outside, the interior of the citadel was just like virtually any other Dwemer ruin I had seen. It was eerily deserted, too: like Odrosal before I took Keening. I could not shake off the feeling that we were being watched, though... or perhaps not watched, inasmuch as 'felt'. I felt just like I did growing up; on the occasions that I tried to pick someone's pocket, and they felt the intrusion before I could grab what I was after.

Perhaps that pot-bellied dragon outside used the crater of Red Mountain as its home, and was (or had been) effective at discouraging intruders. Perhaps Dagoth Ur had become so powerful that he did not fear anything anymore; and was capable of killing anything that came through the door.

My nerves were raw, and my senses were screaming at me. I was afraid; deathly afraid.

"You don't have to come with me, Siri." I said, risking a glance at her. I did not like to speak to - or look at - her when we were about to go into battle. The thought that one of us might lose the other in the near future was always hard to bear.

"We are safer together. Both of us. Wherever we may be." Was all she said. I noticed she was not looking at me, either.

The Dwemer tunnels plunged deep into the ground, and eventually led into chambers carved from the rock. We followed them from one cavern to the next, and came to a chamber lit with red candles, and filled with the otherworldly whispering of a Sixth House shrine. Dagoth Ur was there - standing before the shrine, and not moving.


He looked like an Ash Vampire - with ashen skin, ropy muscles in strange places, and taloned hands - only he wore a golden, circular mask with three eye-holes, and three tubes arrayed along the top. Ash floated out from them as if from a trio of small chimneys. I knew the mask: I had seen it before.

Months ago, he had invaded my sleep: it was the masked face from my dreams.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Matar said...

"Hello Neravare my old freind, To this place were destiny is born... why have you come unprepared?"

Allways heard this but I never had the WrathGuard. I found a glitch were I can get both without cheating ;)

Monday, June 05, 2006 1:10:00 am  
Anonymous i'm a nerd hear my roar said...

OBLIVION QUESTION:

i'm in the thieves guild.
I have done all of s'krivas tasks,
I must fence 600 before the gray fox contacts me.

I've done that, but he has'nt contact me.
am I screwed?

btw: when (or if) you whack Dagoth ur are you finished writing.
Please don't!

Monday, June 05, 2006 1:52:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nerd: Just stay in one city (other than Bruma) for a long time and Methredel will find you and tell you to go to Bruma.

Wow, I really liked how you described your fight with the dragon. You know that the only dragon on Nirn is the leader of the Ka Po Tun, who are Akaviri? Read the book Mysterious Akavir and you'll know.

AAAAAAAAAHHH!!! I need to read the next chapter!!!

-Noozooroo

Monday, June 05, 2006 4:05:00 am  
Anonymous Constant said...

I'm speechless. Next chapter is a must.

Monday, June 05, 2006 8:34:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joseph..
Sorry to put an wet sock in it!!
But what about, Gilvoth, the AshVampire, who stands before, Dagoth Ur inner shrine..

As you have put it!! Eyes are watching..

-Cannot Spell..

Monday, June 05, 2006 11:23:00 am  
Blogger Malaki Tarion said...

AAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!

Why are chapters like these ALWAYS on Sundays!!!!!!

Monday, June 05, 2006 11:43:00 am  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thankyou everyone.

Cannot Spell: "But what about, Gilvoth, the AshVampire, who stands before, Dagoth Ur inner shrine..

See, there's this thing called artistic license... :-)

Having said that though, there really was no-one - or almost no-one (no Ash Vampire, anyway) - in the facility when Ed and Siri went through. I have a couple of mods installed that affect the Sixth House (making them tougher, among other things). It's possible that things have been moved around a bit by a mod.

- Joseph.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006 12:12:00 pm  

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