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 28, 2006

Chapter 145: King's confidence

"So you are the vampire who routed the Dark Brotherhood from Almalexia, and has been doing such stellar work for Captain Delitian. Extraordinary to see such an... agreeable vampire." King Hlaalu Helseth was reclining casually on his throne, resting his chin upon his hand; as if the holy district outside was not in chaos after the attack of those strange creatures. "A fair length of time has passed since your encounter with the Brotherhood -" the regal-looking Dunmer went on - "may we ask what brings you back to Mournhold?"

The question may have sounded innocent enough to others, but I knew it for the barbed probe it really was. He was trying to discover whether or not I knew that he was the one behind the attempts on my life made by the Dark Brotherhood - and if I had come to have my revenge.

"I had some business with the Temple... your majesty." I replied. A bald-faced lie, but plausible enough.

Helseth's gaze rested on the Wraithguard for a long moment, before he spoke:

"Yes... Delitian tells us that your ties to the Temple have proven valuable to his... security work. He has also mentioned just now that you have come from aiding in the defence against these constructs that attacked the city. You have our thanks for this, but you may leave these matters to the enlisted guardsmen now. We have another task that you may help us with. As you have probably noticed through your work with Captain Delitian, my accession to the throne has not resulted in goodwill from all quarters. Even now, my informants tell me of a possible assassination plot against our royal person."

The king stared directly into my eyes as he spoke. I was in no doubt as to the subtext of his words.

"We have an informant you may find at the Winged Guar tavern - an Orc. Ask him about his 'uncle's farm'. He will give you what information he has about this plot." Helseth straightened in his throne a little. "He is a useful informant, but not always mindful of his place. A visit from someone of your... 'nature' may remind him of the need for proper conduct. At any rate; please go see him immediately, and return here with your findings as soon as possible."


"I was not expecting to see him there." Sirilonwe said, as soon as we were outside the palace. She studied my face for a moment. "I'm guessing that your plan here is more involved than just attacking Helseth on sight, then?"

"There were around ten Royal Guardsmen in the throne room;" I said, by way of reply; "plus Delitian, plus Helseth himself. And did you see the size of his bodyguard?"

"The Redguard? Yes... he looked powerful."

"Yes." I rubbed my eyes. It felt like it had been a long night - and midnight had not even passed yet. "I need to get him alone - or close enough to alone."

"You mean to get him to trust you, then?" Sirilonwe appeared sceptical.

"I can't think of another way, at the moment." I replied. "He is the king. His guardsmen are deployed specifically to prevent strangers from getting close to him; especially when he is alone."

It only took several minutes to reach the Winged Guar. No more than three or four of the odd constructs had made it into Godsreach, it seemed, so our passage was not slowed much by any debris from the attack; as it might have been in other parts of the holy district. There was only one Orc in the tavern. He was not happy to see us approaching him.

"Vampires!" He jumped up and away from his seat at the bar. "How'd you get in here?"

He looked as if he was about to take flight, so I quickly said:

"Wait! How's your uncle's farm doing?"

This served to keep the Orc from running, but he did not come any closer.

"The king sent you?" He stared at our fangs for a moment, and then shrugged. "Paranoid git keeps some strange friends." The Orc shook his head to himself. "Alright, look: for once, our majesty the suspicious one is right; there is an assassination plot. But the attempt will be on his royal mum, Barenziah - not him. That's all I have, so if you don't mind?"

The Orc looked pointedly at his drink; sitting on the bar near my elbow. We left him to it.


"Yes... we thought as much." Helseth nodded. "I have other sources, of course; and they tell me the same thing... and also that the attack will occur tomorrow night. It is absolutely imperative that our mother be protected. If we merely reinforce the men guarding her, it would tip my hand to these would-be assassins, and they would come for the Queen Mother in another way, on another day. This is what I intend: we shall catch these men in the act. We would have you two help in the plan." The king glanced briefly at Sirilonwe as he spoke. "Will you do this?"

I was a little surprised that the king would actually ask if I would help; and I could not help but think that there was some significance to him doing so. In any case, I agreed:

"Yes... your majesty."

"Good." Helseth nodded. "This is what you will do: there is an antechamber outside our mother's chambers; it is the only way to reach her when she is inside. You will hide in the antechamber tomorrow night, and keep watch for anyone attempting to enter our mother's chambers. Kill any intruders. That will be all."

It was obvious that we were dismissed for the night. Sirilonwe and I left for the streets of Mournhold, heading in the direction of the Great Bazaar and the Plaza Brindisi Dorom. We had not had the opportunity to do anything about it earlier - with Delitian and Helseth sending us here and there and back again - but since the attack, my ears had been burdened with the screams, groans, and whimpers of pain coming from the wounded all through the district. Only I and Sirilonwe could hear it, I am sure: and it was weighing on her, too.

In the hours before dawn, we walked the streets of Mournhold, healing all those who would allow us near. It was easier with the unconscious ones; we simply healed them and moved on before they woke up. Others had to be pacified with spells from the College of Illusion first. A scant few exhausted-looking healers from the Temple and the Imperial Cult were doing their part as well, but it was still a number of hours before the screams of pain faded (mercifully) from our ears. It was draining: just as it had been when I had healed the survivors of the attack on Fort Frostmoth.

We spent the daylight hours locked in my chambers in Wolfen keep, having some rare sleep. Sirilonwe needed it, especially: her magicka reserves were completely drained.


On our return to the Mournhold Royal Palace in the evening, we took up position behind a translucent changing-screen in the antechamber to the Queen Mother's chambers - making ourselves magically invisible, for good measure. Barenziah was apparently asleep in the rooms behind us. She was famous - or so I had been told. I must admit I had never taken it upon myself to read anything about her, so I did not even know why she was famous. Helseth had asked that I not disturb her, so it seemed that I would not get a chance to meet the famous Queen Barenziah, at any rate.

Two tedious hours passed before the rumoured assassins showed themselves; creeping into the room - and blowing out the candles as they came. I could still see them perfectly well through a gap in the changing screen, though; and something was strange about the three men. They wore the familiar black chain of the Dark Brotherhood, but they appeared broader and more heavily built than the other members of the fell group I had encountered. They were not exactly as stealthy and agile as I would have imagined, either: one of them actually tripped on the edge of a thick rug in the gloom, and nearly fell.

They were powerful fighters, though; as I discovered when I stepped out to meet them. With all three attacking me at once, several of their blows actually connected with my armour. Sirilonwe skirted around the edge of the scuffle, casting draining spells on them to rob them of their strength and balance. In a few short moments, I had cut them all down. In their weakened state, they were no match for the speed of a vampire.

I pulled the masked chain hoods off the bodies, receiving a surprise as I did so.

"They're Imperials!" I exclaimed. Sirilonwe gave me an inquisitive look, so I elaborated: "Every member of the Dark Brotherhood I've met so far was a Dunmer. This is strange..."


It was not yet midnight, and King Helseth was still awake.

"Good." He was saying, after hearing my report. "I think it's obvious I can trust you, now - and that you are capable of providing a valuable service to our government." Helseth pulled absently at his short beard. "I require those close to me to have great strength, however. There are plans I have in mind for you - and for your friend, if she will follow you - but you must prove yourself to me first. I cannot afford to have the weak in my confidence. Perhaps you have met my bodyguard, Karrod?"

Helseth gestured towards the giant of a Redguard Sirilonwe and I had noticed earlier. He wore the reddish armour of the Royal Guard, save for a helmet; and nodded to us briefly as the king introduced him.

"He has been with me since he was a child on the streets of Wayrest, deaf and dumb. A petty thief. I took him into my employ after the courage he showed in actually trying to rob Elysana - my sister." Helseth stared directly into my eyes again, as he had done on the previous night. "When a dog has been beaten, vampire Frost, he will lick the hand of one who feeds him even the most meagre scraps. Now Karrod is my most loyal servant, and one of my most deadly."

I glanced at the large Redguard. He had shown no reaction at being called a dog... he really was deaf, then?

"I wish for you, vampire Frost, to duel my champion - Karrod." Helseth said, drawing my attention back to him in an instant. "Tomorrow evening, so that you may both prepare adequately. Should you defeat him, you will have proven yourself to me. Do you accept the challenge?"

I nodded. What else could I do?


I spent another dull, restless day being the Arch-mage of the Mages Guild in Vvardenfell, and was relieved when darkness finally fell. I felt no relish at the thought of facing Karrod in a duel. Either I would defeat him, and have still more blood on my hands, or... he would prove superior, and I would lose my chance to get close to Helseth. I just wanted to have the whole business behind me. Shortly after arriving at the Royal Palace for the duel, I discovered that the stakes were perhaps much higher than I had first thought.

"Did I mention that Karrod has never been defeated in battle?" King Helseth almost smirked, as he and everyone else (including Sirilonwe) retired to the edges of the throne room. The fight was to occur on the great dais in the centre of the chamber. "You shall start on my command."

As I stood there facing the giant of a Redguard, I suddenly realised what the king was doing: why he had asked me if I would protect Queen Mother Barenziah from the assassins, and why he had again asked if I would accept a duel. If Helseth did not want to have me killed outright for fear of a reprisal from the Temple (perhaps before he was ready for one), then he would have me die during the course of performing a task I had freely accepted. The Temple could not rightly object to that.

And if the Dark Brotherhood assassins supposedly sent after Barenziah failed to kill me, then perhaps his undefeated champion, Karrod, could. If Helseth suspected me of plotting his death, then he knew that offering a place in his confidence (in return for defeating Karrod) was exactly what I wanted. He had to have been exceedingly confident in Karrod's abilities. Would I be able to defeat him?

King Helseth raised his fist, and shouted:

"Commence!"

15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched that video that Constant told us about last entry and Karrod lasted a hell of a lot longer than everybody else did, including Dagoth Ur. That's just not right.

Also, that's not such a big deal that Karrod has never been defeated. Usually, when you have been defeated, you've been KILLED.

-Noozooroo

Thursday, June 29, 2006 7:34:00 am  
Blogger Mindstroller said...

not neccessarily, not all duels are to the death, after all. But yeah, i see what youre saying.

Thursday, June 29, 2006 10:25:00 am  
Anonymous Person said...

Helseth is a fickle one isn't he?

Morrowind Trivia - Where is the Yassu Mine?

Thursday, June 29, 2006 1:05:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Joseph, I've noticed that you occasionally use mods every now and then(Ha...HA.) Well, the most popular modsite I've seen is Planet Elder Scrolls, and you have to PAY for those mods(free music on the internet, but NO FREE MODS FOR YOU.) I was just wondering if you knew a place where I could download mods for free.

-Noozooroo

Thursday, June 29, 2006 1:45:00 pm  
Blogger Joseph said...

Noozooroo: That's a good point, but in a world like the one represented in Morrowind, with magic that can bring one back to full health from the brink of death - in an instant, and teleportation spells that can instantly remove one from harm's way... death doesn't always have to accompany defeat.

Anyway, I think what Helseth is hinting at is that Karrod has done an awful lot of fighting - and perhaps defeated and/or killed an awful lot of people - without suffering one defeat in that time.

- Joseph.

Thursday, June 29, 2006 1:58:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Touche. Or however the hell you spell it.

Oh, I see how it is. You criticize my criticism of your work but you don't have time to answer my question about mods. No, don't try to apologize, it's too late for that. I see how it is. You hate me. Well, I HATE YOU TOO! I'M NEVER GOING TO READ YOUR BLOG EVER AGAIN!!

Just kidding. I get bored sometimes.

-Noozooroo

Thursday, June 29, 2006 3:39:00 pm  
Anonymous Goldeneyes said...

Noozooroo: Here are two sites for downloading morrowind mods for free
1. http://www.elricm.com/nuke/html/index.php
2.http://gmml.pbwiki.com/Categories

hope this was helpful

Thursday, June 29, 2006 4:03:00 pm  
Blogger Joseph said...

Noozooroo: Actually, I think you posted while I was typing, so I missed your question. :-) If you look at our post times, you'll see they're fairly close together.

Anyway, to answer your question; you do not need to pay to download mods from Planet Elder Scrolls. The site has the mods hosted by www.fileplanet.com, which requires either a free sign-up or a paid subscription.

Having said that, www.tessource.net and www.elricm.com both contain fairly good databases of Morrowind and Oblivion mods.

- Joseph.


PS - And now Goldeneyes posted while I was typing too! :-) I only noticed this time because I hit Preview first... (It's because I open the comments page, and then go off and do other things before actually making a comment).

Thursday, June 29, 2006 4:35:00 pm  
Anonymous I'm a nerd hear my roar! said...

poor yagrum ;-(
anyway does Helseth always carry around a daedric dai-katana?
And who was the third guy he fought in this clip?

Thursday, June 29, 2006 8:50:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The trick with Karrod is that he has a lot of hitpoints, but anyway he doesn't hit very hard. you can take him... ;)
And Joseph, if you don't mind me asking what level has Frosty reached?

P.S. Constant: That was a funny video. Thanx

-Ahriman

Friday, June 30, 2006 5:32:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok thanks guys.

-Noozooroo

Friday, June 30, 2006 8:42:00 am  
Blogger Joseph said...

Ahriman: Edward is level 43 now, I think. He's come a long way. :-)

- Joseph.

Friday, June 30, 2006 10:11:00 am  
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