Sunday, July 20, 2014

Day 96 - The More Things Change

19 Sun's Dusk
The completion of my Redoran stronghold is now my highest priority. It will certainly be a great deal more secure than my gifted house in Ald'ruhn and hopefully a great deal larger, for my collection of equipment and curios is starting to overwhelm the small adobe.

However, any further construction on the stronghold has been oddly halted until my place within House Redoran has risen. I cannot think of why they would simply not start the construction until I have met this requirement, but who am I to speculate on the political workings of one of Morrowind's Great Houses?

So I spent today running to and fro for the House, mostly for Councilor Athyn as I am already well-known to him and thought well enough of for him to trust me with problems of a more personal nature.

His son's trouble had not ended with his return to the Sarethi manor. Soon after, the young man was accused of the murder of a friend of his, the late Bralen Carvaren. The death of Bralen was indisputable, for the body was quickly recovered and evidence pointed towards Varvur Sarethi as the murderer. When I spoke to the boy he admitted that the guards found him close to his friend's body, but that he had no recollection of that evening at all. I was about to suggest that he and his friend had been too deep into their cups, but then he mentioned a series of bad dreams he had started to suffer in the days leading up to Bralen's death.

Bad dreams? That sounds familiar! I have not received any in quite some time, I imagine Dagoth Ur has given up on me. But it seems odd that he would target the son of a Redoran nobleman. Varvur was growing increasingly nervous as our little interview went on, but he confessed that all of his bad dreams were of killing his friend, Bralen. He then sought assurance from me that those dreams did not actually mean he killed his friend. Athyn's son is not particularly bright. Of course that's what the dreams meant! But it did not mean Varvur was guilty of murder.

Further supporting my impression of the youth as slightly dim-witted, he appeared to suddenly make the connection between the acquisition of an ash statue and the start of his violent dreams. Hearing this I considered the mystery pretty much solved and took the statue out of his room, leaving him a little calmer than when I found him.
Athyn suggested that I speak to someone at the local Temple about the statue to see if they can determine if it influenced his son. I had no doubt in my mind that it did, but decided that the word of a Temple Dunmer would trump that of a Khajiit in this matter. He recommended a priest named Lloros.

Lloros was friendly enough for a Temple dweller which means he curtly demanded the statue from me immediately. Once in his possession, he was somehow able to sense an enchantment on it that could have influenced Varvur. He asked that I ask Varvur to come see him so that Lloros could determine whether Varvur was still under the enchantment's...enchantment.

And that was the end of it, at least for the Sarethi family. I cannot help but feel that the only manipulated party may be myself. Lloros's part seems to have been a little too convenient and simple. Perhaps the statue was a scapegoat and Varvur's 'visit' to the Temple is for legal consultation instead of divination. I could be wrong. Even if I was not, what could I do about it?

I went back to the manor to deliver Lloro's summons and received Athyn's thanks, along with another task. This one was very political and the result of poor relations between House Redoran and House Hlaalu. Specifically, a retainer of House Hlaalu, Ondres Nerano, is spreading a rumor of infidelity between a Redoran Councilor and another nobleman's wife, a typical indiscretion of the high-class in every province. Of course, House Redoran is complaining of this obvious slander, while House Hlaalu would likely insist it is only stating facts.

Whether true or not, Athyn has decreed that as a retainer of House Redoran myself it was my duty to confront the Hlaalu noble spreading the rumor and 'convince' him to desist with his gossiping. Should this fail, Athyn permitted me to challenge the nobleman to a duel to the death in order to cleanse House Redoran of this stain. I remember hoping it would not come to that, but this is Vvardenfell.

Ondres lived in Balmora, which was fortunate for it meant I only needed to walk to the Mages Guild in order to reach him. The Balmora Mages Guild was surprised to see me back so soon, but I assured them that I was only taking care of a little business in Balmora and not leaving on another long trip. I was not told where Ondres was in Balmora, but a helpful Altmer in the Lucky Lockup corner club gave me directions to the Nerano Manor, which is situated up on the hill across from Nalcarya's shop.

He made the task an easy one. Ondres refused to issue a retraction to his statements, stating that as a Redoran I was obviously too stupid to see the truth of his words. Harsh against a fellow Dunmer I suppose, but we Khajiit are more than accustomed to scorn and ridicule. Most of us retaliate by stealing from our would-be tormentors while they sleep, but I digress. He boasted that if I was looking for a duel, then he would be more than happy to oblige. 

I have written this before, but what is it about me that fails to suggest that I may just be a dangerous opponent? I have slain far more frightening things than Ondres has likely ever dreamed of, yet he charged at me, fists swinging wildly. For my part, I used a scroll to summon a Frost Atronach, which proceeded to chase him around his own manor. His efforts at killing the beast were admirable, if ineffective, for the chairs and cups he threw at it either shattered on impact or were swatted out of the air. 
After a few amusing minutes of this, he yelled that I won the duel and he would retract all of his statements against House Redoran if I would just remove the "ice titan" from his home. I graciously accepted and sent the Atronach back to its Plane with a few strikes from my spear. I do wonder if it felt a little betrayed by my intervention as it disappeared. I used my amulet to teleport back to Ald'ruhn.

I left out the details of the duel, but Athyn was pleased to hear that the honor of House Redoran was still intact. He had an additional job for me, of course and this one meant some walking. Complaints of smuggling have come from Gnaar Mok and the Great House has decided to reply. I am to travel to the fishing village, find the smugglers, and dispatch them. I suspect the "complaint" is from a rival gang of smugglers, for who in Gnaar Mok would see it as anything but another way to earn some more coin? Nevertheless, I left Ald'ruhn as the Sarethi manor was preparing to sit down for lunch and made my way to the hills separating the dusty plains from the marshes of the Bitter Coast.

I made my way across the rolling ash hills outside of Ald'ruhn, dodging bothersome Nix-Hounds and Cliff Racers and was lucky enough to find a stretch of the barrier hillside that I was able to scale without the aid of my levitation amulet. A gentle slide down the other side of the hill and into the humid, wet air of the Bitter Coast's plains. Between the plains and the marshland lie another chain of hills and I had every intention of simply levitating over them when I encountered the Redguard.

She introduced herself as Pemenie and asked if I was interesting in making a deal, immediately marking herself as a suspicious character. Her request was convenient: that I escort her to Gnaar Mok. I was going there anyway, so I agreed to slow my pace on her behalf, though it meant finding a pass through the hills. She was pleased and offered me a pair of magical boots as payment for my service. Boots are useless to me, but she would not hear of my refusing her reward, so I accepted and started thinking of people I knew that needed a pair of boots.

This was evidently not Pemenie's first trip to Gnaar Mok, she knew where a pass cut through the hills into the marshland, her request of me was out of concern for the growing number of hostile Nix-Hounds and Cliff Racers that live along the Bitter Coast. The trip was uneventful and wet; it started raining as soon as we descended the hills into the marshes, but we encountered no hostile creatures.

Once we reached the fishing village Pemenie handed me the boots, calling them the "Boots of Blinding Speed". She made herself scarce quickly, boarding a small fishing skiff captained by a young Dunmer and the two women were quickly sailing away.

The reason for her hurried exit may have been the boots themselves. Though useless to me, I was curious as to how they were enchanted. I could barely sense if the boots would in fact lend additional speed to the wearer, but my skill within the Illusion sphere of magic made it very easy to see that the boots were completely blind the wearer as soon as they were worn. She never lied, they really were boots of blinding and of speed, though of the latter I know not how much. Given the blindness enchantment I did not think it responsible to throw them away, perhaps I can find a mage somewhere willing to pay to display the pair of oddities.

But I had business of my own with Gnaar Mok and made a few inquiries. Rumors had it that smugglers in the cave to the south of the village had lost their 'source' in Balmora and had resumed business with someone in Ald'ruhn. That sounded like Shurinbaal to me.
Athyn had told me that the 'leaders' of the smugglers were a couple by the names of Daroder and Enjine, but I cannot say I had any opportunity to ask any of them for their name while they were trying to kill me. A Redguard woman predictably assaulted me as soon as I stepped inside, but she was poorly armed and the battle was soon over.

Though hardly a match for me in combat, they evidently were worth the attention House Redoran was paying them today. Several large rooms were stacked with crates and chests, all of them full with various goods, most of it sundries worthless to me. After I had slain the smugglers and satisfied my curiosity I used my amulet to travel back to Ald'ruhn.

The councilor's next task was a bit of an embarrassment for me. Athyn wanted me to travel to a former egg mine where a maddened Redoran lord had set himself up as the 'Lord of West Gash' and was busy extracting a toll from passing travelers. He stated that he would rather prefer the man be cured of his malady rather than killed and suggested I speak with the man's father before searching out the mine.

Unfortunately the directions he gave to the mine made me realize I had unknowingly taken care of this problem nearly a month ago when Galsa had asked me to visit the construction foreman at the site of what might eventually become my finished stronghold. Athyn took the news well, graciously stating that I could not have known who the man was at the time. 

That was the last of the tasks Athyn had for me. He recommended that I speak to Councilor Hlaren Ramoran or Mistress Brara Morvayn for further duties. Only after I have won their acceptance will my stronghold be completed. Per Athyn's recommendation I visited the Ramoran estate first.

As Athyn said, the concerns I would be dealing with were 'worldly concerns' and not anything I would have trouble with. Hlaren's first request was for me to travel to Gnisis and speak to his tax collector there in order to collect the money owed to House Redoran. I rather suspect I would be able to pay the taxes out of my own wealth, but the councilor made no mention of how much I was to collect...which I thought odd.

But by then the sun had set and walking to Gnisis in the dark, even with my superior night sight, held no appeal to me. Tomorrow morning I shall be at Gnisis and take care of this matter. I have waited long enough for my much-promised stronghold and a large part of my plan to defeat Dagoth Ur relies on my actually residing there.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Day 95 - Back Home

18 Sun's Dusk
I may be the first and only Khajiit to spend a night at Suran's House of Earthly Delights. By the name I was expecting some kind of high-class eating place, but the main attraction of the place was the three barely-clad dancing girls at the side of the main room. Patrons could sit at their tables, eat the bar's cheap food, and watch them dance and spin. That was the so-called "Earthly Delight". I felt more out of place there than I did in the Telvanni canton in Vivec and spent all of my time there in the cheap room I had paid for. A double bed in a closet of a room just wide enough for the bed itself. Not the high-class place I expected at all. I hope I shed all over it.

Suran is not an especially large town and my hope of selling off the spare equipment I collected was also a disappointment. The blacksmith's shop there is run by an Orc and had a very good selection for sale...but a small wallet to purchase my own goods. I pressed a Dreugh staff I had liberated from somewhere on to the Orc and received two hundred Septims in return, plus one less thing hanging from my pack.

The town actually has an independent clothier run by a Dunmer named Verara. I am not sure how she manages to stay in business in such a small town, but she was willing to purchase my non-enchanted rings for a good price. My last stop was at the apothecary's shop and he was eager to buy whatever I wanted to be rid of. According to him Suran is not a popular stopping place for merchants and he depends on the surrounding plantations for his inventory. My stepping into his store netted him more inventory than he has received within the past six months. Quite a sad figure, honestly, but he should be able to make profitable use out of the ingredients I sold him, even if they were all the cheapest I had.

I took my time walking along the coast from Suran to Balmora. It was nice to feel a breeze that was not throwing thousands of bits of grit and dust at me.
Of course it would not be a day unless I found myself deep within the earth battling something or another. I found the cave conspicuously dug into the shores of the lake, no attempt at all was made in hiding it. Obviously a hideaway for smugglers. I was feeling refreshed and energetic from the lakeside walk, so I stepped inside.

They were slavers, with a little smuggling on the side, of course. Slavers occupying the Dunmer fortresses or caves dug into the ashland up north, those are challenges. Slavers along the lake...not so much. The two Nix-Hounds the slavers kept put up more of a fight than they did. I freed the slaves they were keeping, two Khajiit and an Argonian. I recommended they go to Pelagiad, but they probably looted the bodies after I left and escaped into the hills. One of the Khajiit, a young female, asked if I was part of the Twin Lamps and told me that if someone asks about them, I should respond that the Twin Lamps light the way to freedom. Some secret anti-slavery group? If so, I certainly support it, but I have no clue as to where this group is or if they really exist.

It is remarkable that I could not be outside for more than two minutes in the north without being attacked by a diseased Cliff Racer or foraging Kagouti, but I was able to walk from Suran to Balmora without being attacked by anything at all with the exception of the slavers.

I received a very warm welcome at the Balmora Mages Guild. Everyone asked me where I had been and were eager to hear about my exploits, which I faithfully recollected with an admirable lack of imagination, if I do say so myself. Galbedir was excited to show me the items I had left with her and even Ranis abandoned her aloofness to see Galbedir's small presentation.

First, she gingerly held up the strange bone-dagger I had brought. She announced to Ranis and I that it was the Fang of Haynekhtnamet. I had never heard of such a thing before today, but Ranis immediately offered me six thousand Septims for it! Heedless of Ranis's offer, Galbedir babbled on about the history of the weapon:. According to her, the dagger's "blade" was really a carved tooth from some beast slain in Black Marsh. The creature had the power to discharge lightning from its mouth and the dagger retained some of that power, shocking its victims with every strike.

I am sure there are many Khajiit who would love to have the dagger, but it is useless to me, powerful though it may be. Like most of the equipment littering my home in Ald'ruhn, it simply does not fit well with the fighting style I am accustomed with. I cannot think of anything on Vvardenfell that I would feel comfortable engaging at dagger-length. My short sword is about as close as I would like.

The two rings were powerfully enchanted as well. One, which Galbedir named the "Ring of the Wind", will boost the wearer's agility by a considerable amount. This would have been useful to me if I was not already wearing two rings with more useful enchantments on them. Galbedir advised against placing a third on my hands unless, in her own words: " did not care for one or both of them." Sage advice.

The second ring was a great deal more malicious-looking. This one I at least remembered where I had found it: on the Ash Vampire of Mamaea while searching for the son of Hassour in Ald'ruhn. Galbedir could not conceal the awe in her voice as she explained this ring to Ranis and I. Apparently it can dispel harmless enchantments put upon the wearer while strengthening her health and ability to focus magicka energy. It would also, for whatever reason, protect the wearer from paralysis and magical lightning. It is not so powerful a ring as to bequeath this protection constantly, one has to activate it by rubbing the jewelstone for the ring to have any effect. The look on Galbedir's face as I rejected the usefulness of yet another item was something I shall remember for quite some time!

The pair of gloves I received from the Redguard were enchanted only minorly, one with a Charm enchantment and the other with a combination of blinding and silencing. Being a Khajiit, the gloves are useless to me unless I felt like cutting the fingertips off.

I surprised Galbedir by giving the gloves to her, then further surprised the both of them by giving the second ring to Ranis. The Dunmer was obviously uncomfortable with thanking me, but I found the whole thing rather amusing for Galbedir thanked me more than enough for both of them, especially after I gave her a new set of items and a sack of Septims to fund the required research. Galbedir's "Ring of the Wind" went to Ajira and I am sure the wily Khajiit will make full use of the ring's feature.

I truly have no idea what I am to do with all of the things I have sitting in Ald'ruhn, but giving some of it away seems like a charitable thing to do.

With Estirdalin's help I was able to create a few powerful spells, most of them Illusions, to replace ones that were no longer a challenge for me to cast. Though I doubt I will ever be a great mage, challenging myself should be a boon for my spell-casting skill.

The story-telling and spell-making finally came to an end several hours after I arrived in the Guild and I bade everyone a farewell and paid Masalinie for my long-awaited trip to Ald'ruhn.

Despite living (more or less) in Ald'ruhn, I do not know the Guild members here very well and in stark contrast to my arrival at Balmora, no one at the Ald'ruhn Mages Guild commented on my arrival, even if I was only a very familiar face constantly seen heading for the teleportation room. How many Khajiit do they have coming through here anyway?

The weather was welcoming at Ald'ruhn: a light breeze and no dust in the air, the best one can hope for here.
My home was untouched and the door still magically locked, all of my junk still exactly where I left it. I dumped what I wanted to leave at home in a pile near the door and hurried to Under-Skar before the Redoran offices closed for the day. Galsa confirmed that the second stage of my stronghold's construction had been completed in my abscense, but the third and final stage could not begin until my ranking in House Redoran had risen some more.

That would have been nice to have known before I started plodding across Vvardenfell! I was too tired to argue that maybe being the Nerevarine was rank enough. This can wait until tomorrow.

I had only one last item of business before turning in for the night and that was to inform Hassour of his son's rescue. He was very appreciative, loading me down with five large chunks of uncut ebony ore and his personal blade. 

I returned home as evening set in and simply enjoyed the peace and relative quiet of finally being done with my journey. I am not entirely sure of my next step. Do I pursue tasks for House Redoran? Should I resume my raids into Red Mountain? I do not know.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Day 94 - Ever the Wanderer

17 Sun's Dusk
Welcome or no, sleeping at the Erabenimsun tribe's camp was not a relaxing experience. Probably something to do with my killing a decent percentage of their menfolk not too long ago. Everyone seemed happier with them gone, but it was an uneasy thing for me. I woke from a restless sleep earlier than usual and set out while it was still pitch-black out.

The path from the camp led to a crossroads, towards my left was a Daedric shrine tucked neatly along the curving hills that surrounded it. Though I knew I would not find the dagger there, I spent some time working my way through the Daedra-infested ruins so that I might be able to replenish my purse once I find a decent alchemist. Equipment repairs are expensive and my limited skill with the hammer does not go far.
I managed to salvage two Daedra hearts, distasteful as they are to retrieve and entered the shrine expecting to find a few cultists and maybe some gemstones. The risk versus reward of the shrines are, in my experience, quite similar to the Dwemer ruins and therefore best avoided. Today was no exception to this rule, for all I found were four bandits with cheap equipment and a single diamond. Hardly worth the effort and time.

Returning to the crossroad I turned to my right thinking I was heading south towards Molag Mar and Suran, but I reached another dead-end, this one with a tomb and skeletal guardian.
Guardians outside of the tombs usually indicate there is something inside that the family absolutely wants to keep from leaving. The single skeleton had a simple iron broadsword and shield, making it barely a danger to anyone strong enough to survive in the area. Inside, however, was a very different story.

A Fire Atronach and Clannfear were waiting for me just inside, providing a decent challenge as I struggled to dodge the Atronach's fireballs and Clannfear's razor-sharp beak. Eventually I was backed into a corner by the Clannfear, but this worked out more to my advantage as the Atronach (surprisingly) did not fling fireballs so long as the other Daedra was in the way. I dispatched the Clannfear with my short sword, then moved to engage the Atronach before it could start with its fireballs again. 

My life has never left much room for humor, but I had to laugh at what I found next. Whether intentional or accident, someone had summoned a massive Daedra, an Ogrim into a room off of the main chamber whose doors were too small for the creature to fit through. This little fact did not seem to occur to the monster, for it continued to try to squeeze through the door while roaring and flailing at me.
Shooting it full of arrows seemed the most merciful and safest thing to do. Even I had some trouble fitting through the doorway with the Daedra's corpse in the way, but I managed. Beyond was an altar with a skeleton laying upon it, another unusual find for a Dunmer tomb, and next to it was an old, rusty dagger.
I have no way of knowing if this particular dagger is what I have been tasked with finding, but I am taking it with me on the chance that it is and on the chance that I even find myself at that shrine once again.

Electing to skip Molag Mar I turned west, finally heading back 'home' as it were. I happened to be fortunate not to encounter anything between the tomb and Suran worth writing about and walked underneath the east gate of Suran late into the evening. It is nice to be at an Imperial town after the Ashland camps and Telvanni plant-towers, but skipping Molag Mar for Suran leaves a great swath of land to the east of Molag Mar still unexplored. I have ventured from my original plan to walk the coast, but I have been receiving diminishing returns for my efforts as of late and am growing somewhat discouraged. 

Though I am several days away from Ald'ruhn it feels as though my journey is close to an end. I have destroyed a few Sixth House outposts, but I did not really accomplish as much as I anticipated. The entire experience did show that my equipment needs to be upgraded before I can be expected to survive within the Ghostfence and my catalog of spells need to be reworked as well. 

Always things to do. Writing this reminded me of the stronghold being built for me by the Redorans. I wonder how that is coming along.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Day 93 - Wandering about for Mehrunes Dagon

16 Sun's Dusk
The Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon had hinted that the dagger I was to find was somewhere in a tomb near Molag Mar, the small outpost on the south coast. I certainly have no great love for Daedra, be they good or evil, but there is a certain excitement in dealing with such a powerful entity.

As exciting as it might be, fulfilling his request is not a high priority, but I decided to explore any tombs I found south of Falensarano while on my way to Molag Mar. If one of them held the item that the Daedric Prince was seeking, then so be it. One day I am swearing an oath not to waste any more time visiting tombs, the next I am scouring each one I find for a ruined dagger.

Falensarano sits right in front of the 'gate' into the southern ashland leading to a path that winds and curls around the side of the foyoda to the west, occasionally interrupted by pools of lava bubbling to the surface. The land itself is just as dead as up north, consisting mostly of ash and a few hardy plants whose leaves pose almost as much danger as the cliff racers that constantly flit about the rocks laying about. 

Fortunately the weather was calm and spotting the tomb doors carved into the hillsides was not a difficult task. I came across the first tomb almost as soon as I left the fortress and it was quite an interesting encounter.

Initially the tomb seemed to be identical to most of those that I have visited: skeletal guardians, dozens of urns, and maybe a gem or two laying around. Never anything grand. That this tomb would end up being different was hinted at by the rather recent corpse in one of the first rooms. Whoever he had been, the man (or woman I suppose) died in a rather explosive manner, for the remains of clothing and armor was plastered on the wall opposite the body along with a great deal of greasy black ash. Only the bones, blackened by the magical discharge, and a short sword remained intact. How the robber met his end was no mystery, for the door the corpse was laying in front of was trapped with a powerful lightning enchantment. The thief must have tripped the enchantment, instantly killing him. I, of course, simply disarmed the trap.

It is just as well that the man made it only as far as he did. The door opened to the largest chamber of the tomb which was occupied by an Orc clad entirely in Bonemold and surprisingly wielding a magical staff. He attacked me immediately, roaring a battle-cry as he charged at me, but the staff failed to register the blows he must have thought he was dealing. It is a rather light weapon and not one suited for a wielder as powerful as my opponent. A normal staff would likely have shattered harmlessly against my armor.

I could not tell what the staff is enchanted with, but I am taking it with me to have Galbedir identify it, along with many other items. By the time I find myself back in Balmora I shall be emptying a sack of equipment upon her desk. 

Keeping to the hillside I continued south from the tomb and passed a Dwemer ruin perched dangerously close to a large pit of lava. The guardian statues did not seem at all concerned and having sworn off of Dwemer ruins for life, neither was I.
Further to the south was the Dwemer ruins where I had destroyed a group of vampires and found my Dreugh cuirass. Was it weeks ago? Months? I cannot remember, but there was no point in retracing steps already taken. I instead headed east past an abandoned mine and a Telvanni tower and slew a female Daedra with my bow from across a river of lava.
Continuing south around the lava I found my final tomb for the day, but it did not provide me the dagger I have spent the day looking for. Instead, it provided another crazy person in Bonemold armor who needlessly and fatally attacked me. This one was a Nord wearing an unusual helmet: a troll's skull, probably taken from a troll in Skyrim. His skull-helm is powerfully enchanted as well, but with a Conjuration effect that I have no chance of understanding at all. Another item for Galbedir, but what am I supposed to do with all of these things afterwards?

I had hoped to reach Molag Mar within the day, but the sun had retreated when I left the tomb with the troll's skull slapping against my pack. The camp of the chaotic Erabenimsun tribe was directly to the east of the tomb and very close, but I did not know what sort of welcome I would receive there.

The welcome was rather friendly actually and I was able to get some of my equipment repaired by one of the local warriors before settling in at the wise woman's tent for the night. She had little to say to me other than a solemn reminder of my duty to go to Red Mountain and confront Dagoth Ur and I could do little but assure her that my duty has not been forgotten.

There is only one path for me tomorrow and it still leads to Molag Mar. I will continue to explore any tombs I find along the way, but if I do not find Mehrunes Dagon's dagger then he will have to find some other errand-adventurer to fetch his artifact, powerful though it may be.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Day 92 - The Haven of Falensarano

15 Sun's Dusk
The east side of Vvardenfell has always struck me as rather less "visited" by the Empire compared to the west. Imperials are not often seen at the Telvanni outposts and the other races are represented only as mercenaries or the occasional trader. As for Argonians and Khajiit, it is best not to dwell upon their fate.

Today has given me several reasons to think upon the negative aspects of the Telvanni's domination, chiefly the frequency of Daedra I encountered today. On my last stay in the area I thought they may have been the result of the Sixth House loosing them to sow chaos, but now it's far more likely they are simply the result of errant experiments, though no less dangerous for it.

While walking from Tel Mora, I had to fight not just one Daedra, but four: three powerful Golden Saints and one of the winged Daedra. I tested my prowess against these formidable opponents by deigning to use my spear, instead engaging all three of them with my typically unused silvered stabbing sword. It felt nice to be fighting with a light, maneuverable weapon, but if I am to use a blade against opponents such as these in the future, it will have to be stronger than silver-plated steel. My restoratives were sufficient to refresh me between combat, but the battles dragged on far too long with the sword.

The average Imperial soldier would not have fared well against any one of the Daedra in single combat, but the preferred tactic is to engage Daedra with a mixed unit of troopers, archers, and mages, at least a dozen strong. I do feel somewhat satisfied at dispatching enough Daedra for fifty soldiers, even if they were each alone.

I had previously stayed mostly to the coast when I was last here visiting the Zainab tribe, so I changed my plans a bit and ventured into unexplored territory south of their camp. The area is surprisingly vibrant for being so close to Red Mountain and there are trees that grow so high that the eye can barely see the leaves at the top. It is an interesting sight, one perhaps unique to the area.
I reached Falensarano fortress just after noon without being assaulted by any more Daedra. Until today, this fortress had managed to escape my visitation, but the site's location at the mouth of the southern ash-land marks it as a valuable stopping point should I be called to Molag Amur, as the region is named.
Far more accustomed to bandits and the Sixth House's monstrous garrisons, the enemies within Falensarano surprised me. For one, the upper level of the fortress was empty save for a single Nord who has taken up residence in one of the larger rooms there. I heard him talking to himself as soon as I stepped inside the fortress and followed his voice intending to strike him down with the aid of my invisibility spell.

Fortunately, something about his mannerisms, plus his lack of armament, gave me reason not to be so bloodthirsty and he greeted me jovially while I trained my spear at his throat. He had come to pillage the ruin, only to find that a group of witches had beaten him to the fortress, killing the previous occupants and using the lower level as their summoning chamber. He was able to slay their summoned Daedra, but reached a compromise with them that leaves the upper floor all to himself. An odd arrangement, especially for a Nord to make with magic-users.

I had no such arrangement and their presence complicated my own plans, so naturally I needed to pay them a visit...and fight more Daedra. I was immediately set upon by a Golden Saint Daedra wielding a glass halberd when I entered the lower level, but I kept with my short sword and easily got inside the reach of the cumbersome polearm. 

The witches' lavish bedrooms indicated they had been at the fortress for some time and it was well garrisoned by a variety of Daedra, a Daedroth and two Clannfear fell before I even met a single witch, but I eventually surprised one studying in her bedroom. How she failed to hear the combat that had been raging in the room next to hers, I'll never know. She summoned a Bonewalker, which has long since ceased to be a threat and she foolishly rushed me with a dagger alongside her summoned creature. She had nothing of much value on her aside from her clothing, which was very finely made...and useless to me.

There were three others, all dressed in similar finery and all equally foolish. There was nothing of value in the whole place, save for a Dwemer spear I won in combat from a Dremora. The fortress is now clear and I should be able to safely use it in the future, at least until some other group decides to take up residence. The Nord, whose name I wound up never getting, was pleased to hear that the witches were gone, for he confessed that their summonings made it difficult for him to sleep. I gifted the man five hundred Septims and asked him to stay as a sort of unofficial guard. He seemed happy enough with this.

It was late into the night when I walked back outside and I did not look forward to walking back to the Zainab camp across the Daedra-infested plain. So now I'm in the brightly lit Propylon chamber with a magical lock on the door, preparing to sleep on the stone floor. I have heard bards sing of the many comforts of adventuring, but I have yet to experience such a thing. Somewhere south of here is the dagger that Mehrunes Dagon asked me to find and I shall attempt to find it tomorrow.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Day 91 - A Brief Interlude

14 Sun's Dusk
I overslept this morning for the first time since joining the Auxiliaries years ago. I suppose I needed it and perhaps even deserved it, but it felt strange to wake up closer to lunch than sunrise. As it was, I left Dagon Fel at ten in the morning according to the innkeeper, still feeling fatigued.

It is a good thing then that today was so uneventful. I walked across the water towards the mainland, bidding a certain and final farewell to Sheogorad  and encountered nothing save for some floating debris from a ship long claimed by the sea.
Like most Telvanni settlements, Tel Mora is more plant than village, requiring excellent balance to walk along the vines that serve as stairs and levitation should one wish to speak to the eccentric Telvanni councilor, Mistress Dratha, which I did not. 

Speaking as a Khajiit, there is not much to recommend visiting the Telvanni aside from their apothecaries, which are always well-stocked. True to my recent luck, the local trader had an unexplained infestation in the form of a Corpus-infected man that the shopkeeper had managed to trap in her personal quarters above the store. How he got there was not something the Bosmer female wanted to explain, perhaps he had been a friend she hoped to cure or maybe she had been hoping to harvest the poor creature's flesh to sell.

Whatever her motive and method, the shopkeeper Berwen wanted the thing gone and asked if I would be willing to do the deed. The task was simple and my target was a few seconds away, so I agreed. It proved even easier than I thought, for she had done an excellent job in barricading her staircase with crates. With no way to leave, the Corpus-man continually moaned and lunged at me ineffectively as I mounted the stairs. One merciful strike from my spear ended it's non-life and I dragged the corpse into the water outside, where it was devoured by slaughterfish.
Berwen was very appreciative of my small effort and gave me a steep discount on her wares, most of which I purchased in an attempt to mix health restoratives, which I am always low of. My novice efforts did not amount to much result, but I felt that the experience gained in the art made the cost worthwhile.

After spending an hour in Berwen's shop mixing my potions, I visited the actual apothecary and purchased more ingredients and from the blacksmith I bought some repair equipment.

And that was my entire day. It started late and I am ending it early, for it is barely eight in the evening and I am turning in for the night. I sought only to escape Sheogorad today and prepare for my expedition further south, both of which I have accomplished. Tomorrow I shall concentrate my effort inland, south of the Zainab tribal camp. The fortress of Falensarano guards the passage into the southern ashland and will likely be a great advantage to me in the future if I can ensure it remains clear of slavers and cultists. This will be my priority for the next day and as such I do not expect to cover a great deal of distance tomorrow, probably lodging either with the Zainab or at Sadrith Mora and hopefully seeing Suran before the week is out.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Day 90 - My Final Day at Sheogorad

13 Sun's Dusk
My last day at Sheogorad was certainly not a sad parting, but I did accomplish something today, though I am not sure what it is I have done exactly.

The several days spent wandering the compact and dangerous surface of the island had taken its toll on my equipment and when I woke up this morning I realized I either was going to repair everything the best I could or call my entire plan to walk around Vvardenfell, as I was unlikely to even make it halfway to Tel Mora before my armor dropped off of me completely.

The Legion trained us only in the most basic techniques of smithing and repair, obviously assuming whatever damage we incurred would be repaired by the Legion's smiths when we returned from the field. While such services are available on Vvardenfell, they are not near Dagon Fel and barely even on the east coast at all. I had to do the best I could with the small amount of tools the local trader, Heifner, had for sale.

I had hoped to finish exploring the main island of Sheogorad today, with the surrounding isles being left for any spare time I might have at the end of the day. I left Dagon Fel via the south road and walked past the crossroads leading to Rotheran fortress. I paused briefly to speak with a friendly Orc who claimed she was traveling across the entire province of Morrowind looking for an errant husband-to-be. She was well-equipped for this daunting mission with an Orsimer breastplate, greaves, and two-handed maul. No doubt she has seen and fought many things while on her way to her husband, but she did not seem like she wanted to talk for long, so we talked for a few minutes and parted ways. 

It is nice to know that not everyone you meet on the road is looking to bash your skull in.

Along the shore I also spoke with a trio of Ashlanders who had come to Sheogorad on the rumor of a vampire stronghold in the area. I told them about the vampires I had fought on the island, but they seemed certain that there was a large concentration of vampires nearby. The irony became clear later on.
I was just about finished exploring the main island when, yet again, I found another tomb. It was still early in the morning and I guessed the tomb's nearness to the water would keep it to a modest size. I was correct, but exploring it was simply as waste of time and effort. The skeletal guards skillfully wielded silvered long and two-handed swords, but were guarding absolutely nothing of value. 
And that was actually it for the main island. I walked across the water to the nearest small island and found a small shack built next to a Tribunnal shrine of some kind. The Dunmer lady living there was polite and explained that she was the shrine's caretaker. The shrine is called the Sanctus shrine and is built on what the Temple considers to be holy ground, as it is where the current Archcanon wrote his book of sermons, which I have never once read or even seen a copy of.

So far I was making good progress. All I had left to explore was a long, narrow island to the west of the shrine and a fairly large island farther south. I elected to visit the narrow island first, since I figured I could hop on to the mainland from the larger island and make my way along the shore to the Urshilaku tribe's camp should the day start to draw to a close.

The island managed to emphasis the chaotic personality of Sheogorad while barely being wide enough for two roads. The land rose and fell seemingly at random, the sea would occasionally wash over the entire width of the land and cliff racers flitted amongst the tops of giant mushrooms. It was an island that demanded levitation, but I only have the cheap amulet that I save for emergencies. It was a very difficult place to be walking.

Recalling the ashlanders' warning about the vampire stronghold, I gave the first cave I found more attention than it deserved. I would say it was just another den of smugglers if there had not been so many of them, but the experience was pretty much the same. As usual, they completely lacked cohesion and communication while also being spread out and isolated. The most noteworthy part of my little visit was the one smuggler clad entirely in iron armor, something I have never seen on Vvardenfell until today. The armor was rusty and fit the man poorly, making me think he would have been a great deal better off wearing no armor at all.
A Dunmer, probably the leader of the group, had been fortunate to somehow acquire an Ebony cuirass, but he wore no other armor, making his arms and legs excellent targets for my spear. There were others, but they were typical of who I have been fighting in these places and bear little mention, just as the complete lack of valuables does.

I write on it briefly, but the cavern was quite large and the enemies numerous, so that when I stepped back outside I found that a great deal more time had passed than I expected. It was already growing dark by then, so the exploration of the island was over for good and I turned around to head back to Dagon Fel.

To make the most of what little time I had left on Sheogorad, I went back to the fishing village via the larger island to the south that I had not yet set foot upon. There was a single cave on the island, but it wound up being the vampire stronghold the ashland warriors had been seeking.

The place might have been a regular tomb hundreds of years ago, but the vampires that called the place home must have expanded it extensively, digging out deadfalls through the floors and trapping almost every door in the sprawling complex. I thought I would be able to sneak along and ambush them individually as I normally do, but there were a large number of entranced people, mostly Dunmer, wandering the hallways. They were harmless and could only mutter nonsensically, but they would show surprise at seeing an armed Khajiit stalking the halls. So unless I sank low enough to kill the helpless souls, stealth was out of the question.
However, vampires are not generally known to house themselves close to each other. The complex was a large one, but the number of vampires residing there seemed low to me. I had great luck initially, picking off lone vampires walking the hallways with my bow or an invisible strike with my spear. As I penetrated farther in the hallways started to branch off into living quarters and libraries, where I found myself fighting two or three vampires at a time. I do not know much about how vampires live among themselves, but this group was well prepared with a fully functional smithy, complete with a vampire smith to work it, an Altmer, surprisingly. He was not much of a warrior, perhaps he had been a tradesman in his previous existence. He helpfully kept a stack of armorer's hammers near his forge and I took a few to work with later. 

Eventually my stalking led to a dead-end: a sizable room with a large raised platform in the center of it and a female vampire standing serenely atop the stairs, staring down at me as I entered. She did not immediately attack, but coldly asked what authority I had to slay her kin and clan. I replied honestly, stating that I have been recognized as the Nerevarine and was travelling across Vvardenfell seeking out and eliminating elements of the Sixth House and anything else that posed a threat to Morrowind. The vampire leader was silent for a moment, then declared that my journey was to end tonight. With that, she started casting a spell, but I fled out of the room and hid around the corner, hoping she would be foolish enough to fall into my ambush.

But she was much wiser than her now-deceased comrades and stayed on her platform, surrounded by the magical barrier she had summoned at the declaration of my death. To charge back into the room did not seem a good idea, as I was very tired and wounded after the day's exertions and had no guarantee I could engage her in combat and win. I won by trickery instead, as Khajiit always should.

Certain that she was not going to leave the room, I fished a certain scroll out of my waist-satchel and then used my invisibility spell before dashing back into the room and to the side of the platform, out of her sight. I activated the scroll and broke my invisibility enchantment, much to the vampire's alarm. She yelled something and finally ran down the stairs...right into the arms of the Golden Saint my scroll had summoned.

The battle was over quickly. The Golden Saint brought a Daedric long sword with it which the vampire had little hope of countering. Already wounded and tired, I stayed well away from the two of them ready to jump in with my summoned spear, but that was not necessary. To the vampire's credit she fought courageously and managed to hold her own for a few minutes while they two of them circled each other at the base of the stairs, but the Saint was relentless and wore down her magical defenses enough to impale her with the blade, killing her instantly.  
The Golden Saint disappeared shortly afterwards, back to wherever it came from and taking its sword with it. Six people were trapped in a crude wooden cage built along the back of the platform, probably to be turned into mindless food at some point. They were very eager to be free of the place and ran out of the room as soon as I unlocked the door. As there was no one left between them and the exit, I can only assume they somehow made it off the little island, since I was the only one there after leaving the stronghold.

It was already well into the morning of 14 Sun's Dusk when I returned to Dagon Fel. Simply writing this was a struggle against my fatigue and I do not anticipate making a lot of progress today. I will take a short nap and hopefully be bedding down tonight somewhere far south of here and closer to completing my journey.