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, June 14, 2006

Chapter 139: Catacombs

While moving through the Mournhold Temple to talk to the priests and priestesses, I fell into the habit of holding the Wraithguard up in front of me as I entered each room; as if I was adjusting its fit on my hand. Having the eyes of such religious people fall first on an object given to me by one of their 'gods' - rather than on my vampiric face - was generally more convenient for me.

"Have you noticed, Edward, that we are not harmed by walking on holy ground here - or by coming near their shrines?" Sirilonwe asked, as we explored the temple.

"Yes..." I replied, thoughtfully; "although it may not be that surprising, really. If the Tribunal are no longer gods - or are in the process of losing their divinity - then the 'gods' that temples like this were devoted to no longer exist... and have no power over us."

Sirilonwe nodded, and added:

"Maybe that will change if the Temple returns to their old worship of the Anticipations - the good Daedra; as Vivec said."

I asked several priests and priestesses if they had heard anything of substance regarding the reports of goblins being in or near the city somewhere. Most of them said the same thing: people in Godsreach - the small residential area in Mournhold - had been complaining of strange creatures lurking around the sewer entrances for some time. One of the impressively armoured High Ordinators patrolling the halls of the temple confirmed that these 'creatures' were indeed goblins. From what he said, many of the Ordinators assigned there would much rather have the opportunity to hunt goblins in the sewers than trudge the halls of the temple.

I knew from my last visit to the holy city of Almalexia that the ancient sewer system there delved deep into the ground, breaking into even deeper caverns and even more ancient ruins. They were catacombs, in other words; and someone could get so lost down there that they would never escape. A goblin army could be easily hidden beneath Almalexia, and Godsreach was obviously the best place to start looking for it.

One of the priestesses I questioned was the healer, Galsa Andrano; and she seemed distracted as we spoke. She stared at Wraithguard (once she got over the alien idea of speaking to a vampire, and stopped staring at my face). Eventually she said:

"So you're the one who struck down Dagoth Ur... and the Tribunal's 'divinity'." She paused, and then said decisively: "I just knew it! I have to say: for some time now - years, actually - I could tell that something was not right with Almalexia. Even when she began to walk among us once more - as she always did in the past - I could tell. Almalexia's Homilies are about compassion, understanding, wisdom and acceptance. Now her sermons incite the destruction the wicked, punishment of the foolish, and rewarding the faithful; the truly, blindly faithful - if they are worthy. Still;" she sighed; "hard times call for a hard goddess... and even if she is no longer divine... I don't think we've seen the end of that aspect of her, with Helseth taking the throne."

"Helseth?" I prompted. At the front of my mind was the possibility that the priestess might be the sort of informant Captain Delitian was looking for. The healer certainly seemed disillusioned with her faith.

Her response was surprisingly blunt:

"Hlaalu Helseth murdered King Llethan. He is wearing a stolen crown. His majesty - 'ruler' of Morrowind - has always been a puppet king; but Llethan was a fool, and danced when we pulled our string. Helseth is no fool. I have heard Almalexia say it herself: if Helseth is set in his wish to be king, then the Temple is sworn to destroy him."

So that was that. It was exactly the sort of information Delitian was looking for - and it was actually good news for me, too. Hearing that Almalexia herself had professed a desire to destroy Helseth made me believe that receiving aid from the Temple - should I ever be in a position to attack the king directly - was a distinct possibility.

In any case, that was a consideration for the future. In the short-term, Sirilonwe and I were bound for the Godsreach sewers. As usual though, it would have to wait until nightfall (some time would have to be spent beneath the open sky while looking for a sewer entrance). While we were shut up inside for the day - back at home - we discussed what we would do about our search for the goblin army. As was often the case, Sirilonwe was the first to voice concerns we both felt:

"That Steward, Hler, may say that Helseth and Delitian cannot admit to knowing about the army, but it would not stop them from retaliating in other ways - if they discover our part in this. At the least, you would lose your chance to get close to Helseth."

"I know." I replied. "It means that anyone who sees us down there near the goblins will have to be killed."

"Any enemies that see us, you mean?" Sirilonwe frowned.

"Of course." I nodded - secretly hoping that no-one I would normally deem 'innocent' somehow happened to see us fighting the goblins; because I did not know what I would do if it came to that.

"And... the Altmer trainers..." Sirilonwe continued, looking troubled.

I had almost forgotten: Sirilonwe had never actually fought against a human (or elven) opponent in all the time we had travelled together - save for when Hunter attacked us, of course. And there were the times we went hunting for people to feed from - but none of those encounters resulted in a death. I still did not know very much about her past, but it could be that she had never killed another elf (or human). Starting such a practice with a member of her own race would make it especially difficult for her.

"Leave them to me." I said.

In the evening, Asciene Rane again teleported us across to Almalexia. A trapdoor to the Godsreach sewers was not too difficult to locate; and we went through once we were sure no-one was looking.

The reek was worse than the last time, thanks to my vampiric sense of smell. Fortunately, it became more bearable when we left the functional parts of the sewer behind for the drier areas. The goblins were definitely down there: and in force; I could smell them, too. Soon we encountered the first party of them: a rabble of grey or green-skinned creatures about three-quarters my height, all muscle, with glistening eyes, and pointed teeth. They carried weapons that looked like they were made from some strange, fawn-brown bones - with thick ridges and protrusions, and wickedly sharpened edges.

They had Durzogs with them too: with spiked collars on. Steward Hler had warned me about them: huge beasts - almost the size of a bear, only shaped more like a bizarre combination of a dog and a lizard.

The Durzogs were tough, and the goblins swarmed us; but we were faster than they, and killed them all without taking serious injury. With the immediate threat gone, we were able to have a better look around the area in which we had found the beasts. Torches had been lit along the walls in that part of the sewer, and upon following them we found more goblins - and more, and more. They were probably patrol-groups, but their behaviour more closely resembled that of a gaggle of drunken, oafish and belligerent young men.

As I hinted at earlier, the sewers and passages beneath Almalexia were often referred to as catacombs for good reason. We walked the catacombs for hours upon hours, fighting goblins all the way. Eventually we entered some natural tunnels that led to ruins of the type I had seen around the Dark Brotherhood's lair; though these ones were inhabited by still more goblins - rather than black-clothed assassins.

Eventually we found an incredibly large cavern; roughly cylindrical, like a gargantuan well. A fat, monolithic stone sat in the centre, standing at a height maybe half that of the cavern itself. A combination of paths hewn from the stone, walkways, and scaffolding allowed us to scale the monolith; and at the top was a makeshift camp - inhabited by the largest goblin I had ever seen. It was taller than I - and much broader - and barked orders in a guttural tongue to a group of smaller goblins surrounding it.

They all attacked us, and it was a difficult fight; the flat area atop the monolith was too small to allow me the room to manoeuvre properly. We defeated them all - the big goblin (who was obviously a leader of some kind - hopefully one of the 'War-Chiefs') toppling off the side of the monolith to land with a sickening crash far below - but were wounded doing so.

We were both starving and feeling vaguely sluggish by that point, and our wounds were not closing over; the blood left in our bodies was not fresh enough. According to my pocketwatch, it was already the tenth hour of the day: we had been searching through the catacombs all night long. They were just too extensive - but to teleport away right then, and lose our hours and hours of progress... well, we may as well have not gone after the goblin army at all, if we did that.

We had to have more blood, though; there was no getting around that. In the end, Sirilonwe drank her fill from the blood vials we had brought with us, and then stayed there on top of the monolith (invisible), while I placed my teleportation Mark next to her, and used the Wolfen ring to return home quickly. I fed from Hunter, refilled the glass vials, and Recalled back to Sirilonwe's side, to continue the hunt immediately. We could (literally) go forever without sleep: all we needed was blood.

The hunt continued for hours more: we followed our noses to track the goblins - through natural tunnels littered with human and elven bones that crunched and scraped beneath our feet, massive caverns with large packs of goblins (that fell quickly to our ranged Destruction spells), the shattered ruins of ancient buildings, and water-logged passages filled with waterfalls and underground streams.

We killed another huge goblin who had been drinking from one of these streams, and then another a short time later. That one was also bellowing orders to other goblins nearby, making it the second obvious leader we had put down - were they the War-Chiefs?

By the time we found the Altmer goblin-trainers Steward Hler had told us to expect, a whole night and day had passed since we first entered the sewers. I had just Recalled back to the catacombs after another quick visit to the castle, and was beginning to feel like we would never find the High Elves in charge of the army - or know if we had killed the right goblins. As fate would have it, though, the trainers were in the very next ruined building we searched. They wore a battered hodge-podge of iron and steel armour, and were not glad to see us:

"You!" One of them screeched. "It was you! You killed the War-Chiefs: they'll all go crazy now! You'll be the death of us!" They charged to the attack, their heavy volcanic-ebony weapons almost one with the darkness of the buried chamber.

Sirilonwe hung back, and I - feeling full of life (so to speak) after just feeding from Hunter, killed them both quickly. They were powerful warriors: muscular as well as tall - but I leapt from one to the other with quick flashes of my blade, faster than they could hope to move.

The second Altmer to fall did so at Sirilonwe's feet. She stepped back to avoid the dark, spreading pool of blood; and regarded me steadily, her face a mask.

"Sorry." I said to her quietly. "It had to be done."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this ends, doing the temple's gobbins.. The quests you would have gotten by Delitian, the king's Captain of the Guards..
If not carry on!!

-Cannot Spell..

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 11:03:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you have named the location for the two books.. The Gold Ribbon of Merit, and Surfeit of Thieves.. Within an back post - can you list that post.. I know, thats to long!!
But looking into every back post, I just not going to do.. Yes I could do it - It's too long!!

-Cannot Spell

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 11:10:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I will narrow the search.. In the East/South Morrowind there are only two seashore land areas.. The first is the shoreline between Suran and Molag Mar!! And the shore-lands between, Tel Fyr and the Gazelands.. the island of Tel Fyr and Gazelands is not it!!
The books are in a cave.. That has the Bannits/Summagers - holding slaves..

-Cannot Spell..

Thursday, June 15, 2006 12:36:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Must've been horrible to do that quest in-game with Sirilonwe! I mean, considering the AI of Morrowind and the length of those tunnels... My followers always got stuck into every single flower and rock they encountered, I got so frustrated to them.

Thursday, June 15, 2006 2:10:00 am  
Anonymous Constant said...

Please stop flooding, Cannot Spell. In case if you don't receive an answer to your post in the first two minutes, you should still have patience to hold your urge and wait until someone answers. As for me, because of the time difference this chapter comes to me a bit late (I guess). And that's how I think it's with most of the readers here. They can't just simply be online all the time, watching if you're gonna write something again.

Well, your flooding might be a bit more tolerable if your grammars were fine. Usually, because of the gibberish language you use, I have no idea what you're blabbing about. Also, you really should have enough energy to click a couple of times to check the previous comments from the previous chapter. Of course, if you have such a slow connection or something...?

OK, now you can hate me.


About the chapter, Joseph.
I like how you described the whole thing under Mournhold - it was painful adventuring, with all those corridors and tunnels there. Personally I think it's good that you didn't get stuck there any longer in your story. Keep up the great work!

Thursday, June 15, 2006 2:17:00 am  
Anonymous Matar said...

Man I hope Siri dies.

Not that I don't like her I just don't like mages is all... unless I am the mage of course :P.

Thursday, June 15, 2006 2:43:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'am sorry.. As for the trivia, the cave is Minabi.. In Minabi lower cell can be found the two books..

I know, can't spell and have bad wrigthing skills.. This was Cannot Spell - last post!!

Thursday, June 15, 2006 8:33:00 am  

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