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 18, 2006

Chapter 141: Strongarm

There were a lot of undead beasts wandering the sewers beneath the temple: animated skeletons, mostly - but also flitting, ephemeral spirits and drifting bonelords. I had only seen a few bonelords in my time, and I did not (and still do not) really know exactly what they were. I only knew how they appeared: strange, floating amalgams of bones with four arms, often no legs, and a very long neck - draped in heavy robes. I had once considered them extremely dangerous, but no longer.

Not so for Urvel Dulni, the Temple priest we were escorting. It was obvious that physical danger and combat was a mostly foreign concept to him; he began to tremble whenever a shambling revenant came into view, and gripped his wooden truncheon so hard his knuckles turned white. Sirilonwe and I were able to stop anything from reaching him, though; and we arrived at the (quite grand) entrance to the Shrine of the Dead without incident.

From the entryway we could see a number of the 'profane liches' Archcanon Drin had warned us about: supposedly ancient wizards that had used their powerful magic to escape from mortality into undeath. They appeared to be waiting for us - they were standing perfectly still and staring at us with their black eye-sockets, at any rate. Dulni hung back at the entrance while Sirilonwe and I went in to face the liches - good thing, too: the skeletal figures in their rotting robes were surprisingly fast; both on their feet and with their spells.

Nevertheless, their brittle bones were quite fragile, and a few good hits with our heavy Daedric blades put them down. It did not take long for the priest to cleanse the shrine; he seemed quite proficient at that sort of thing, at least. We watched as he placed his hands on the shrine and murmured a long prayer. It was hard not to notice that the Shrine of the Dead itself was quite different to the Tribunal's triolithic shrines seen all over Morrowind. It had obviously not been constructed under the Tribunal's tenure. It was rectangular, for one thing... and it certainly looked dead, dark and forgotten.

Suddenly the priest was engulfed in bright light, and a buzz of harsh, whisper-like voices. Just as quickly, it was gone; and the shrine chamber was dark and silent again. Dulni trailed slowly back to our side.

"It is done." He said.

The Archcanon was pleased (in his own reserved way) to see the return of priest Dulni and have his report. Like Chief Steward Hler, Archcanon Drin had a very generous gift for us: a spear of volcanic ebony, apparently blessed by Almalexia herself. In fact, Drin assured me that it was a gift from the goddess personally. He then matter-of-factly told us that we could show our thanks by performing another task for Almalexia; and sent us on to the Steward for the details.

Fedris Hler had just risen from bed when we saw him; the hike to and from the shrine had taken all night (priest Dulni had had a strange phobia about using teleportation magic underground, so we had been unable to use Almsivi Intervention to return to the temple quickly).

"Have you heard of 'Barilzar's Mazed Band'?" Hler asked, rubbing his eyes.

I shook my head. Sirilonwe said she might have read the name somewhere - but she might be confusing it with something else.

"It's a ring;" The Steward said; "and I hadn't heard of it before last night, either. I was speaking with Lady Almalexia, and she told me of it. She has requested that the Mazed Band be recovered - and that you be the ones to do it. Apparently it's a powerful artefact, and she has divined that it actually rests beneath the temple here, in an abandoned crypt. The entrance to this crypt was lost to a cave-in, but our Lady has had the rock-fall cleared. No-one has gone inside yet; look for it in the north-west part of the Temple sewers."

"Can you tell us more about this ring?" I asked. "How are we supposed to find it?"

Hler looked a little nonplussed.

"I'm afraid I don't know anything more about it. It is supposed to be in a crypt though; and crypts aren't known for their spaciousness. I'm sure you'll find it."

Sirilonwe and I returned home after finishing with Hler; in need of blood, and of repairs for our equipment. Once the daylight hours were passed, we teleported once more to Mournhold, and made our way to Godsreach. My plan was to investigate Llethan manor for Delitian; I did not want to put it off for too long, for fear of making the guard captain suspicious of what else we had been doing in the city.

"I swear I've heard of this 'Mazed Band' before." Sirilonwe was saying. "The name Barilzar sounds so familiar... Edward, we should go to the Museum of Artefacts here and ask them about it!"

I looked at her blankly.

"Have you not heard of it?" Sirilonwe asked. "It's famous! It's right here in Godsreach."

Indeed, it was only a block away; we stopped in so that Sirilonwe could satisfy her curiosity. That was a desire I could respect and identify with, after all. The Dunmer curator, Torasa Aram, was about to close up the museum for the night, but quickly answered Sirilonwe's questions (after being Charmed so that she did not mind so much that we were vampires).

"Barilzar's Mazed Band?" She said, arching an eyebrow. "It's probably just a legend, though Barilzar himself was real. He was a powerful - very powerful - mage, hundreds of years ago; in the Second Era. The way the legend tells it, Barilzar disappeared shortly after creating the ring. It is said that the Mazed Band can open rifts in time and space; that it can even open the Gates of Oblivion. Quite a fanciful tale - but further to that, the ring can supposedly only be used by one of divine birth. Make of that what you will."

Sirilonwe was still musing over the Mazed Band as we approached the Llethan manor:

"If what the curator said is true, that ring is extraordinarily powerful. Almalexia seems to be on the hunt for new sources of power, doesn't she? Perhaps she is not as eager as Vivec to give up her divinity and her position of ministry over the people."

It was a curious state of affairs, but I did not presume to know the mind of a goddess; even a self-made one. I did not reply; instead examining the modest manor that - I had learned - did in fact belong to the family of the late King Llethan. The shades were all drawn, and the house was silent. This made me falsely confident.

With Sirilonwe waiting in the street to keep watch, I unlocked the door with a subtle jolt of Alteration magic, and slipped surreptitiously inside - to come face to face with an armoured Bosmer house-guard.

"Vampire!" She screeched, and I heard the rest of the house's occupants come running, to burst into the entrance chamber.

Of course by that time I had already turned myself invisible - and I crept around behind the agitated throng into the (now deserted) manor proper. The search for incriminating evidence of a Hlaalu conspiracy against the new king did not take long. In a desk I found a frankly written letter discussing the best way to assassinate Helseth: it even gave names of three people being considered as assassins. One point I found interesting, too, was that the writer of the letter dismissed the possibility of utilising the Dark Brotherhood, saying that Helseth 'owned them'. Something that did not surprise me overly much.

"Three names, then? Let's see... Hloggar the Bloody, Forven Berano, and Bedal Alen. Superb." Captain Delitian was visibly gladdened to receive the letter I had found, and lead us to an ornate desk in a small office off the throne-room. There he began to copy down the names onto three identical - and official-looking - documents. "I am giving you Royal Writs of Execution for each of these traitors." He said - and I thought I could hear him place an intentional emphasis on the word 'traitor', as he handed them to me. "Dealing with these men should be a fitting job for someone like you, vampire Frost."

I glanced over the documents: they were decorated with the king's seal, and marked each of the three men in the letter for legal execution by the bearer of the writ. The resemblance - in form and function - to the Dark Brotherhood writ that had been taken out on me was remarkable. Delitian proceeded to leaf through a book at his desk, and read out what he knew of the three men he had just condemned to death:

"Hloggar the Bloody, as you might guess from his name, is not a subtle man. Many of my men have run into him, and they all say that he always smells of the sewers. I would guess that that is where he sleeps: he is something of a barbarian by reputation." The captain turned a page. "Forven Berano is a well-known noble of Mournhold; and a faithful Temple-goer. He visits the temple before dawn every morning. Fortunately for you." He looked up at me, giving a cold smile. "Now - Bedal Alen... he is down in the census as living in Mournhold - but that is all I know of him. You will have to learn his location through... other means."

"He's playing with me." I growled quietly to Sirilonwe as we left the Palace. "I'm sure of it! Giving me these writs... and did you hear what he said?"

She had, but she was obviously thinking more about how the captain had called me 'vampire' again:

"Why do you think they trust us in the Royal Palace?" She asked, almost as if wondering aloud. "From the very start - as soon as we arrived, the guardsmen all left us alone. Usually vampires would be attacked on sight."

I swallowed my anger at Delitian and gave her my opinion:

"It's probably politics... and this." I held up the Wraithguard. "Lots of people know about my dealings with the Temple - and they do not know about me killing anyone."

"That's true. I've heard that some people call you the 'Temple-going vampire'." Sirilonwe giggled. "But... politics?"

"Well, I think so." I replied. "It's obvious that King Helseth is not in the Temple's good graces, yes? And it's also obvious that I am. If Helseth's men attacked me - or you - it might be seen as an act of aggression towards the Temple."

Sirilonwe nodded.

"Ah - I see. And while Helseth's administration most likely is aggressive towards the Temple - they probably do not want that to be widely revealed... yet. You think that instead of risking that, Helseth asked Delitian to employ you so that he can keep a close watch on you."

"Yes, that's basically it;" I replied; "and besides - the Palace is packed with Royal Guardsmen. I can sense powerful enchantments on those in the throne-room, especially. They believe we pose no danger in a direct confrontation within the Palace. Didn't you sense it?"

Sirilonwe appeared somewhat surprised, saying:

"I did not think to look."

We walked together in silence for a while, until Sirilonwe spoke up again:

"Edward - what do you plan to do about these men in the Writs of Execution?"

I glanced sideways at her. She looked a little concerned.

"They will do as I ask - or they will die." I shrugged. "There is no other way."


Anonymous Matar said...

I wonder how Frosty is goonna react to the fact that Alma was his bride in there past life?


Sunday, June 18, 2006 8:02:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good question Matar...and when are you going to start bugging Joseph about Lilarcor again? lol.

Nice chapter. I like the way that Sirilonwe and Frosty are dealing with the twisted politics of Mournhold.


Monday, June 19, 2006 3:49:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice as always. I forgot to ask: Didn't equipping Wraithguard cut Frost's magicka thread? Since it banned him from using heavy armor.

Monday, June 19, 2006 4:28:00 am  
Anonymous Im a nerd hear my roar said said...

as Frost is a breton and an aundae vampire I don't think it matters that much.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 12:06:00 am  
Anonymous DaBigPman said...

well it has been a while and i just caught up today. Joseph this is an awesome story. When i came back and saw this new stuff...i was amazed. I liked the defeat of Dagoth Ur and i like your description of Mournhold.

Keep Up the good work buddy!!!

Oblivion Trivia!!! How do you acquire the blade named Chillrend?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 1:43:00 am  
Anonymous Styg said...

There were a lot of undead beasts wandering the sewers beneath the temple: animated skeletons, mostly - but also flitting, ephemeral spirits and drifting bonelords. I had only seen a few bonelords in my time, and I did not (and still do not) really know exactly what they were. I only how they appeared: strange, floating amalgams of bones with four arms, often no legs, and a very long neck - draped in heavy robes. I had once considered them extremely dangerous, but no longer.

Is that supposed to be like that?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 1:50:00 am  
Anonymous I'm a nerd hear my roar said...

by the man in the tavern in chorrol
you get a mission for a reward you get chillrend.

(I think)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 3:40:00 am  
Anonymous I'm a nerd hear my roar said...

i mean:
In the tavern in chorrol there is a man,
he gives you a mission
to help his sons.
if both brothers survive you get chillrend

(I think

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 5:44:00 am  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thanks everyone.

About Wraithguard and the magicka threads: well spotted. I actually made a tiny little mod that changed Wraithguard from Heavy to Medium armour so that wearing it wouldn't disrupt the thread. ;-)

Stygian: No, it's not - and I've fixed it now; thanks.

- Joseph.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 9:26:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wednesday is far off and the suspense is killing me! The story gets more intriguing.

- JoeyRP

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 2:57:00 pm  
Anonymous Matar said...

That reminds me. Have you been thinking about Lilarcor?

It is so awsome. You should try it.

Soooo awsome.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 3:31:00 am  
Anonymous DaBigPman said...

correct!!! In Chorrol...At the grey mare...when you enter you acquire the topic sons. You ask the old man about it and he doesnt think he is strong enough to fend off the goblins. He asks you to go instead. If you manage to kill all the goblins at Odil Farm and keep both sons alive you are rewarded with Chillrend, with depending on you level, casts on strike a weakness to frost and frost damage. Wonderful sword buut it isnt too incredibly strong.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 11:00:00 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home