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, July 07, 2006

Chapter 149: Mad gods

"I have watched you from afar, Nerevarine." Almalexia was smiling as she spoke, and her hands were still on my shoulders. "I have seen pretenders to the name come and go over the long years, but you have not shared their failures. Only the Nerevarine could have reaped the accomplishments to your name!"

To say I was surprised by all this would be something of an understatement. I glanced over at Sirilonwe. She looked as shocked as I felt - and angry, as well. Understandable, given the way Almalexia was behaving towards me.

"Trueflame has a twin." The living goddess continued. "My own blade: Hopesfire. On the day you and I were wed, Dwarf-King Dumac gifted us with the two blades: the pinnacle of Dwemer craftsmanship. But in the confusion of the Battle at Red Mountain, Trueflame was broken and its flame extinguished. I saw - and I knew - that only the Nerevarine could reforge the blade. You are he! My Nerevar reborn!"

I had to wonder at the depth - and significance - of her feeling. Some people believed that the Tribunal murdered Nerevar because he opposed their desire to use Kagrenac's Tools to grant themselves divinity. If that was true, and Nerevar was her husband, then had not Almalexia killed her own lover over a lust for power? It made me very wary: but I did not know if that account of Nerevar's death was the true one - it was too long ago. It was not for me to know.

I did know my own beliefs about the Nerevarine prophecies as they related to me, however.

"I am very sorry," I said, lifting her hands - which were hot to the touch - from my shoulders, "but I'm not the Nerevarine. So many people have tried to make me believe that I am - but it is just not true. It's all a coincidence: everything that happened on Vvardenfell. I have done what I can to help those around me... but for my own reasons, and to meet my own objectives. I am not the Incarnate."

I did not feel as if rejecting the advances of a living goddess was a particularly safe move - but what else could I have done? Sirilonwe came to my side, and slipped her hand into mine. A reddish tinge entered the light that radiated from Almalexia's skin. She looked furious.

"You... you say that - you... STAND THERE and say that, when you have Nerevar's blade right there in your hand!"

This was not just a figure of speech on her part: my hand had indeed closed instinctively around the blade's hilt at the dangerous tone of her voice. After a long - and very tense - pause, Almalexia appeared to master her anger:

"Make no mistake: we shall speak more on this later. For now, though, there is a more pressing concern. A very sad matter; and another burden I must place on you while my energies are devoted to healing those in my city." She drew a deep breath, the glow of her skin returning to its usual colour. "Sotha Sil. I have lost count of the number of times I have fought by his side. It pains me to believe it is so, but is he who sent the fabricants into my city."

Finally Almalexia had confirmed Helseth's suspicions about the origin of the attack. I tried to look surprised at her revelation.

"Once Sotha Sil was like Vivec and I: an active god amongst the people - but mortal eyes have not seen the Sorcerer for centuries now. He sits now alone in his Clockwork City, far to the south, and fashions his surroundings into a form that pleases him. He has barely acknowledged even Vivec or I for... a very long time now. He is not the man he once was. I believe his sanity has left him. As you have seen, he now poses a dire threat to my city and its people."

Sirilonwe's grip on my hand tightened. It was obvious where Almalexia was going with this.

"Trueflame can kill a god..." she said, adding: "especially one who has fallen so far from divinity as Sotha Sil. If you can just reach him... he may not even notice you; let alone offer up any resistance. I doubt he still 'sees' as we do..."

I somehow doubted that Sotha Sil had could have survived as long as he did if he was as defenceless as Almalexia made out. Still, the living goddess gave us little choice, in the end:

"Ready yourselves well. I will give you one day to prepare. Tomorrow evening, I will send you - both of you -" she added, with a cold glance in Sirilonwe's direction - "to the Clockwork City; from wherever you may be."

"I'm sorry for getting you involved in this." I told Sirilonwe, after we had left the uncomfortable atmosphere in Almalexia's chapel. "Killing a god of the Tribunal..." I shook my head slowly.

"I'm just glad she let us leave in one piece;" she replied; "but do not worry: I don't blame you. It's not your fault this time - and you know I would have gone with you anyway. And to that end... are you going to show me your secret supplies now?"

I started. I had never actually told Sirilonwe about the secret vault in Wolfen castle; it had never actually been necessary. She seemed to relish my surprise:

"Come now... you were hiding the Warlock's Ring somewhere. So how about it? Where's your hidden stash? If there's anything else that powerful mouldering away at the bottom of one of your strongboxes, I cannot imagine a time when you would have greater need of it."

And so I came to dig out the Mantle of Woe, that extraordinarily powerful - but equally dark and dangerous - artefact that had come into my possession during my brief visit to the frozen island of Solstheim, and show it to Sirilonwe. I did not permit her to try it on. Not even I had tried doing that; just touching the robe's purple fabric put me in a murderous state of mind. Sirilonwe was quick to divine its powers, however:

"This is not just a tool for necromancers. It would make you a powerful summoner, Edward: and your magicka reserves would have to be at least doubled! Actually... if you could only find someone to teach you a powerful summoning spell before Almalexia whisks us away to the Clockwork City, then we would have... 'expendable' allies to help us there."

She was right, of course. The most powerful summoning spell I knew of was the calling of Golden Saints from Oblivion. If I could do that, I would potentially have a limitless supply of formidable allies at my fingertips. The problem was that - being Archmage - I knew that no-one in the Mages Guild on Vvardenfell knew such a spell; or really any powerful summoning spells at all. I had a plan, though: the only other major practitioners of magic in Morrowind were the Telvanni wizards, and Skink-In-Trees-Shade, Steward of the Sadrith Mora branch of the guild, had spies and contacts among them. This was for good reason: the Imperial Mages Guild was not considered a friend of the Telvanni wizards, and Skink's guild hall was deep in their territory.

It was still early in the evening, and Skink-In-Trees-Shade was still awake to direct us to the perfect mer for my requirements: Felen Maryon, a Telvanni member living in Tel Branora; along the southern coast of Vvardenfell. Using our water-walking magic, Sirilonwe and I struck out from Wolfen castle and raced across the bays of the Ascadian Isles, and then Azura's Coast, to find the Dunmer Felen up in the great fungus tower of Tel Branora.

It was widely known in certain circles that the Telvanni wizards were utterly indifferent towards vampires: a good indication of the power and capability of the average member of their ranks. It was certainly the case with Felen Maryon: after offering him a very generous fee, he was quite happy to spend several hours teaching me how to summon a fearsome Golden Saint.

Outside, on a deserted beach, I prepared to attempt the summoning spell. It would mean actually wearing the Mantle of Woe, though: something I was not eager to do. Clenching my teeth, I pulled the Mantle down over my head. The world before my eyes was again merely a shell; a container for the shimmering bones that filled the ground for as far as I could see. Sirilonwe's anxious face was in the way, obscuring my view of the beautiful bones. Suddenly, every little thing about her made me furious.

"Oh Edward... you look awful. It's the Mantle, isn't it? You said it made that boy look like he was a dead thi-"

"Shut your mouth, whore!" I snapped; and then quickly gestured that I was sorry. It was difficult to swallow my sudden fury at her. That robe was an evil thing indeed.

Fortunately, I was able to successfully summon and control a couple of Golden Saints in quick succession. It was difficult, but I could cast the spell reliably enough. The significant drain on my magicka inflicted by the spell was no problem, either: my reserves felt near limitless while wearing the Mantle.

After feeding from Hunter, we returned to Almalexia just before dawn. I had the Mantle of Woe bundled into my pack: I did not want anyone at the Mournhold temple to see what wearing the robe did to me. The time Almalexia specified had not yet come, but I figured she would not complain if we asked to be teleported to the Clockwork City a little early. I was right, and she did not complain: in fact, she said very little at all - only:

"Steel yourself. I will send you to as safe a place as I can find in his city, so you are not surprised by fabricants... Now - do what must be done. Sotha Sil must be stopped."

The passages in which we appeared reminded me more of the insides of a Dwemer ruin than any conventional city I had seen. The first part of the Clockwork City we saw were wet, dimly lit by blue lanterns, and swelteringly hot. As I mentioned, the resemblance to Dwemer architecture was striking: as absolutely everything around us was fashioned of metal, and strange machinery was everywhere. Unlike the deafening clamour to be found in most Dwemer ruins, however, the 'city' was filled with (relatively) quiet hisses, whirs and clicks. No creature stirred in those first chambers (though this trend was not to last). We found a dry spot, and I pulled the Mantle of Woe down over my head again. Sirilonwe helped to fasten down the pauldrons of my Shadow Lord armour over the top of the robe. I was not used to fighting in robes, and the Mantle felt uncomfortably limiting.

There is not much to say about our journey through that insane maze. We made battle with fabricants - just like the ones that had attacked the city, navigated vicious traps, and cursed the humid heat. The Clockwork City was said to be 'somewhere south' of Almalexia - and my bet was that it was quite close to the border Morrowind shared with Black Marsh.

Deeper into the 'city' was drier; but no less hot: fiery sparks spewed from the machines that lined the passages. I had never seen such extensive displays of machinery before; but if any of them actually did anything, it was beyond my ability to comprehend.

After travelling through the endless, hazardous chambers and passages of the Clockwork City for the whole day and much of the night (according to my pocketwatch - we did not catch one glimpse of the sky while there), we came across a domed room that played host to a mechanical golem larger than any I had ever seen. It must have measured at least three or four times my height. At first I thought it was inanimate: but then it lurched towards us with a shriek of released steam.

It moved (alarmingly quickly) with a rasping series of clangs and crashes, and electrical energy leapt from its extremities in great arcs. Sirilonwe and I barrelled around the domed chamber, trying desperately to keep out of reach of its long metallic arms - while sending out our most explosive spells against its seemingly impervious body. One of the monstrosity's swings connected, and knocked me to the ground with a crack. It felt as if several of my ribs had broken.

The gigantic thing was actually about to step on me! Sirilonwe came to my rescue, though: sweeping in from the side and dragging me out of the way. The golem was momentarily caught off-balance, and I took the opportunity to leap up and jam Trueflame's burning blade between its head and neck. With a tremendous -crack- and a shower of sparks, something in the automaton broke, and it abruptly froze in place - just before its mechanical grasp had closed around my frame. I jumped down, and the machine toppled to the ground.

Shaking slightly from the intense battle, I drank down a couple of vials of blood, so that my vampiric body could go to work and mend the bones that had broken. It was all finished in several seconds. Fresh blood worked miracles for a vampire.

"I have a feeling that that thing was a... sort of personal bodyguard." Sirilonwe spoke up. "Do you think we could be close?"

"Let's hope so." I replied, biting back the irritated, sarcastic response the Mantle of Woe was urging me to make. "I don't fancy fighting anything more powerful than it to get to Sotha Sil."

Indeed, Sotha Sil was in the next chamber - I recognised the mask he wore from drawings I had seen - but he was dead! It was one of the more horrible sights I had seen. The 'Tinkerer' had somehow replaced most of his body with machinery: metal rods and wires for bones and veins. If this was not bad enough, what little flesh remained was grey, gashed, torn... and shrivelled, as if all his blood had been drained away. His mechanical legs were just... missing; from the knees on down, and he hung from a metal frame in a tangle of wires, swinging slowly back and forth. The stench of decay was sickening.

There was a rustle behind me, and suddenly the domed chamber was glowing faintly with an orange light. I turned to see Almalexia standing in the entrance, wearing a strange, frightening mask. It was a black, tusked thing; that completely hid her face, and made the angry buzzing behind her words even more pronounced:

"You - yet - LIVE?" She hissed. "This place was to be your death, Frost! A willing martyr to my cause! But... fear not. I will tell the tale myself when I leave here. 'To the victor goes the privilege of writing the history'. Is that not how it goes? 'Vampire Frost: unlikely hero of the Temple, killed in a valiant struggle against the insane Sotha Sil. The glorious Almalexia arrived too late to save her loyal servant, but slew Sotha Sil for the evils he had committed.' Yes... it will work."

I stared at her, aghast. My hand was wrapped around the handle of Trueflame so tightly that the knuckles turned white.

"Sotha Sil has been dead for weeks." Sirilonwe spoke up, the barest suggestion of a quaver in her voice. "You killed him, didn't you?" She said to Almalexia.

The masked, glowing figure just watched us in silence.

"If he has been dead for weeks, then that means..." I said slowly, "that the fabricants were not sent by Sotha Sil. 'It would take the power of a god to create such things'..." I pointed at Almalexia. "You? You were the one behind the attack on the city? But... how? Why?"

Almalexia raised her hand, and indicated a familiar-looking ring on her finger.

"The Mazed Band. It is a powerful item indeed... My thanks, again, for fetching it for me. With it I summoned the fabricants - and with it I teleported here weeks ago, to kill Sotha Sil - as I came here just now."

I was incredulous.

"Isn't - wasn't - Sotha Sil your comrade? Your friend?"

"The Sotha Sil I knew was gone long ago. That much is true. Just look at his 'home'. I put him out of his misery. He would have thanked me for it. He would have pleaded for me to do it - if he could still speak. But he made not a whisper as I killed him. He rejected mortality; but the path he took away from it lead to nothingness."

Almalexia reached behind her back, and slowly drew out a curved blade that looked just like Trueflame - only it burned with a cold blue fire. It had to be Hopesfire, the twin of Trueflame.

"Sotha Sil was a fool." Almalexia continued. "Vivec is a fool. A useless poet and a hopeless fool... a coward who would give up his divinity. I surpass them. I will be saviour to all of Morrowind: my people. Their one true god, who saved them from the mad Sotha Sil! Their faith shall bolster my divinity: I shall not have it taken from me!"

The living goddess levelled her blade at my head, and what she said next made me sure that she, too was quite mad:

"One god. One faith. One rule under my divine law. Those who do not yield will be destroyed."

Horrible draining magics burst from her hands and engulfed the entire chamber; threatening to suck away the energies that sustained our bodies. I called out to the plane of Oblivion and summoned a Golden Saint to help us; before rushing to engage Almalexia - Trueflame at the ready. Hopesfire flashed and crashed against my armour, burning my flesh. Neither my blade nor my spells could find purchase on her, and I very much needed my own draining spells to do so: I was badly hurt.

In desperation, I turned to the summoned Golden Saint (which also seemed incapable of even touching Almalexia), and gripped it by its smooth, metallic neck. The Wight-touch spell worked well enough on the Daedric creature: it expired instantly, and vanished in a plume of golden sparks. My most severe wounds were healed.

Almalexia though, had taken advantage of my distraction, and grabbed hold of my arms; pinning them to my sides, and lifting me off the ground. She began to channel some terrible, unknown spell into the thick fabric of the Mantle of Woe. The robe quickly became almost unbearably hot. Frantic, I summoned another Golden Saint off to my side, to aid Sirilonwe in pulling the insane 'goddess' off me. They struggled in vain, and flames began to lick at the folds of the Mantle. Almalexia meant to burn me to death!

There was a bright flash, and a searing pain all over my body. I was conscious of a sharp pain in my ears - and then I was blinded, and could hear not a thing. I felt Almalexia release me at the moment of the bright flash, but it was not until my vision cleared a moment later that I realised what had happened: the Mantle of Woe had been destroyed in a great (and literally deafening) explosion. Smoldering shreds of the purple fabric were spread around me in a wide circle on the floor. Sirilonwe was sheltering behind the melted remains of the Golden Saint, but Almalexia had not been so lucky.

She leaned against the far wall, her once golden skin blackened and charred. No light came from her now. Her arms hung uselessly at her sides. Her tusked mask had come off, and she was saying something to me: I could see her lips moving.

I could not hear her though. I walked over to her and brought Trueflame down upon her head.


Anonymous Sab Liath said...

His mercy frees the cursed false god, binds the wicked "REDEEMS THE MAD".

Saturday, July 08, 2006 12:20:00 am  
Anonymous Random said...

Not the Mantle of Woe!!!!

Saturday, July 08, 2006 12:42:00 am  
Anonymous I'm a nerd hear my roar! said...


Saturday, July 08, 2006 1:33:00 am  
Blogger Mindstroller said...

"Shut your mouth, whore!"

ohhhhhhhh dannggggg

what now biznatch?!

Saturday, July 08, 2006 3:13:00 am  
Anonymous Constant said...

Mindstroller: tell me about it. O_o

Loved this chapter, especially I liked describing the effects of Mantle of Woe. It's a bit pity it... uh... exploded. Where the heck did that explosion come from? There's not gunpowder in Frosty's pockets?

Saturday, July 08, 2006 3:59:00 am  
Anonymous Constant said...

By the way, Joseph: Is it OK for you if I draw Edward Frost-fanart? I like this blog and I like the character, and of course I'll make sure to credit you. I'm not going to steal him or, hopefully, make him look horrible in the picture. ._.
My gallery:

Saturday, July 08, 2006 5:06:00 am  
Blogger Joseph said...

Wow, for such an evil object, everyone sure loves the Mantle of Woe. ;-) As to why it exploded, well; there were some hints about this in Chapter 93: The Mantle of Woe. Basically though, Almalexia destroyed the robe in her attempt to set Edward on fire, and the 'dark, powerful enchantments' in the robe reacted violently to that.

Constant: "Is it OK for you if I draw Edward Frost-fanart?"

No, I don't mind at all! In fact I'm very flattered, and would love to see what you come up with! I had a look at your gallery, and you have some great stuff in there. It makes me jealous: I wish I could draw...

- Joseph.

Saturday, July 08, 2006 10:20:00 am  
Anonymous DaBigPman said...

Why want to draw when You can create image i n our heads from your amazing talent to write....

Saturday, July 08, 2006 10:40:00 am  
Anonymous Person said...

No! Not the Mantle! Anything but the Mantle!

Great Climax. I was on the edge of my seat!

Saturday, July 08, 2006 4:42:00 pm  
Anonymous Person said...

Btw Does anyone know what the hell Almalexia is wearing? I thought it looked similar to a Daedric Helm but... WTF?

Saturday, July 08, 2006 10:40:00 pm  
Anonymous Constant said... There. I made some compromises with the armor and sword... and as you can see, no Wraithguard. I didn't feel like drawing it :( But personally I like how Frosty's face turned out in the end.

Sunday, July 09, 2006 8:17:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See I told ya.. You should have gone to Tel Branora before goning to Holamayan.. You would have picked up those spells..

Sunday, July 09, 2006 10:26:00 am  
Blogger Joseph said...

Constant: "There. I made some compromises with the armor and sword... and as you can see, no Wraithguard. I didn't feel like drawing it :( But personally I like how Frosty's face turned out in the end."

Oh hell yes! And wow, that was quick! I don't think I have enough exclamation points in me to really describe how flattered and proud I am to have someone create an artwork like that from a story I wrote. Amazing work, Constant; and thankyou very much! I'm certainly going to be showing that to my friends... :-)

(I love how Sirilonwe's eyes turned out, by the way.)

DaBigPman: "Why want to draw when You can create image i n our heads from your amazing talent to write...."

Aww - shucks. ;-) It's because I've been interested in doing 3d art/assets and level design for computer games for a while now, and being able to draw would help a lot with that.

Person: You could try the Imperial Library ( - but apart from that, I don't know what the significance of Almalexia's mask is.

And thanks, everyone. :-)

- Joseph.

Sunday, July 09, 2006 10:58:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that picture is SO cool! I love how Siri looks, and Trueflame looks really cool, too. The only thing that I don't like is that Frost dosen't really look like Frost, at least not how I pictured him. But I still think that it's the coolest picture I've ever seen! Good job, Joseph and Consant! Keep up the good work, both of you! :)

- Mystic Ranger

Sunday, July 09, 2006 1:07:00 pm  
Blogger Derek said...

Holy crap what a great freagin chapter.

constant NICE PICTURE really great picture of sirlonwe and frost.

Monday, July 17, 2006 11:53:00 am  
Anonymous Margie Murder said...

OH MY GOSH! I never would have guessed!! Well, off to kill Almalexia. What a shame. :[

Thursday, June 21, 2007 11:08:00 am  

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