Sunday, August 31, 2014

Day 101 - House Cleaning

24 Sun's Dusk
~~~
I woke for the first time in a long while with absolutely nothing to do. No Ashlanders to woo, no House Lords to convince, no mad God to slay. I finally have accomplished what I was sent here to do and to become, but what is to follow is to be decided only by myself.

My battle yesterday with Dagoth Ur nearly cost my life and it did cost me most of my armor, which has been ruined beyond any hope of repair. Though I slept well, I am still hurting and decided to make today as easy on myself as possible.

So in that way moving my possessions out of Ald'ruhn and to Indarys Manor became the order of the day. All of my Daedric equipment that I brought to Red Mountain yesterday, even the bow and dagger that I did not use, is in very poor condition. The spear I can understand, but I must have been sorely lacking in my diligence for the dagger and bow to be in such a shape despite what little either has been used.

The first things to be moved were my extremely valuable and largely useless collection of Daedric weaponry. Even the dagger is weighty and I find that I simply have no use for the things.

Leaving my small home, I anticipated clear skies and was quite disappointed and surprised to find myself in the midst of another Blight storm.
I thought the defeat of Dagoth Ur would have put an end to these things, but apparently not! I can only hope that with his absence, whatever creates these storms will gradually lose power and they will eventually cease altogether.

So rather than the peaceful walk to the Manor that I was expecting, it was the all too familiar blind stumbling through the hills. Fortunately the stumbling was without incident and I arrived at my small fortress quite quickly. The ring provided to me as a token of Azura's thanks gives me a great deal of endurance and I am pretty much able to jog along without tiring, making the trip a lot easier than it has been in the past.

The Daedric weapons were unceremoniously dumped into a chest in my bedroom, then I Recalled back to Ald'ruhn for the second trip, this time most of my spare gems and alchemy ingredients. The trip to the Manor was repeated and for the third time I Recalled back to Ald'ruhn and brought most of my remaining weapons and armor to the Manor. Hardly the stuff of stories.

I am far more used to action-packed days than what this one had been so far, so my fourth Recall back to Ald'ruhn was my last for the day. Instead of going back to the Manor with more sundries, I went to the Mages Guild and was sent to the Guild in Vivec, where I believe I was expected by someone.
Lord Vivec was pleased to see me, though not surprised. He felt the disconnection of his divinity when the Heart was destroyed and took his loss of God-hood in rather good spirits, stating that he never really regarded it as part of who he was and that rebuilding the Temple would happily occupy him for some time.

He did confide that he had concerns about how the rest of the Tribunal, Almalexia and Sotha Sil, would deal with their lose of divine powers. It is Vivec's belief that Sotha Sil may never notice he lost them, so absorbed is he in discovering this world's mysteries. As for Almalexia, Vivec was concerned. God-hood was a mantle she wore a lot more heavily than Vivec and he feared that her reaction would bring harm to herself and to others. He had not communicated with either of them in a long time and could only give me the most basic of information regarding either individual.

For me, Vivec had no doubts: In his mind, I would continue to be the Protector of Morrowind, not by given duty, but simply out of who I have become. I suppose he is right, I find I have no desire to return to Cyrodil any longer and there are still tasks awaiting me here on Vvardenfell.

And elsewhere, as it turned out. I Recalled back to Ald'ruhn for the last time today (no doubt to the relief of the amulet!) and was approached outside the Guild by a stammering man asking if I was Kerra and if I could help him with something. His story was...an interesting one.

To tell it in full would be giving it more attention than it deserves. The man was a wizard of little renown who had heard rumors of an amulet that would make him irresistible to the ladies who one can assume have only shunned him so far. This amulet is supposed to be somewhere on the icy island of Solstheim. The wizard hired a group of 'sailors' he did not know to crew a ship he had enchanted sufficiently to be able to fly to the island, retrieve this amulet, and fly back. 

Naturally that was the last he heard of the sailors, if that is really what they were, or his magical flying vessel. He wanted me to go to Solstheim, find some evidence of what happened to his ship, and of course bring this amulet back to him. I agreed to give myself something new to do, but the only way to Solstheim without a flying ship of my own is to hire a boat out of Khuul. Not my preferred form of travel, but there seems no other way.

Having to go north will give me a reason to give Mehrunes Dagon the old dagger he covets so much, though I am somewhat anxious as to thought of what my "reward" for completing this task shall be.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Day 100 - My Final Blow Against Dagoth Ur

23 Sun's Dusk
~~~
It is finished. Dagoth Ur is no more. I suppose I should feel victorious and heroic, but instead I am just exhausted, confused, and hurting.

I did not start this morning with the intention of facing Dagoth Ur. I intended to spend the day preparing to make the attempt to reach him in a week or so. In order to do that, I would need restoration elixirs, scrolls, spare weapons, and more arrows, all of it easily obtainable at Balmora.

But when I stepped outside, the sky was bright red, dirt and dust were whipping around in the air, and the screaming wind of a Blight storm constantly assaulted my ears. If the storm was meant as a warning then it failed: I felt so close to being able to confront Dagoth Ur that the storm goaded me into acting more rashly than normally do. Thinking upon it now, perhaps that was Dagoth Ur's intention. Whatever the case, I quickly teleported to Balmora, purchased everything useful that I could find, and teleported back to the Ald'ruhn Mages Guild.

The storm was gone from Ald'ruhn when I returned, leading me to think that the storms had been under the direct control of Dagoth Ur the entire time. Balmora might have been too far to exert his influence and without me to intimidate at Ald'ruhn, why waste his strength? This is just my thought and I shall never know the truth of this matter.
I brought the instructions given to me by Vivec and reviewed them for probably the twelfth time that morning: Wearing the Dwemer gauntlet called 'Wraithguard', I needed to wield the hammer 'Sunder' and strike the 'Heart' once. This would somehow release the energy stored within the device/artifact and it is this energy that the Tribunal used to become, if not Gods, then Divine Beings. However, the secret of how to do this was wisely kept from me. Instead, I then needed to use the blade 'Keening' against the Heart, shattering the connection between Heart and Dagoth Ur. Once this connection to Dagoth Ur has been shattered I was assured he would become a mortal opponent, weak to bow and spear.

This severing would also extend to Dagoth Ur's minions and the Tribunal itself, the repercussions of which Vivec himself could not predict.

The quickest way to Dagoth Ur's private citadel was through Ghostgate and then, according to what little information I had, Dagoth Ur would simply be straight ahead.
Naturally my little walk from Ghostgate to Dagoth Ur was done while almost completely blinded. Twice I stumbled into a boulder and I was even surprised by an Ogrim charging at me out of the gloom. I chose to flee and save my strength for Dagoth Ur's stronghold.

The swirling dust of the Blight storm was almost my killer. Blinded by the storm, I nearly stepped right into a pit of lava that the citadel, unseen by me until that point, encircled. What followed was more blind stumbling about as I searched for a way to open what seemed to be the only door leading inside. This ruin shared the same door-and-crank mechanism that I first saw in the ruin outside of Balmora. It did take me quite some time to find the crank for it was not particularly close to the entrance and I was frequently under assault by the spell-slinging soldiers of the Sixth House.


Inside was no different than any other Dwemer fortress I have had the misfortune to find myself in and the denizens no different than any other Sixth House base. To describe each battle I made against Dagoth Ur's followers does me no good, so it will have to suffice to say that I dealt mortal blows against several of the floating tentacle-faced creatures and three of the tentacle-faced former Dunmer whom I gather served as priests of some kind. Bringing my Daedric spear was a great boon for me, but the bow and dagger wound up never being employed.

Save for the spirits I met inside the Cavern of the Incarnate, I have no knowledge of the past attempts made against Dagoth Ur. The bodies of several adventurers, all partially mummified by the great heat from the numerous pits of molten lava, were scattered over the complex, indicating at least one attempt was made against Dagoth Ur in the past.

As I ventured further inside a voice boomed from the walls itself. The voice was calm, almost genteel. The mysterious voice greeted me and thanked me for bringing the tools of Kagrenac to him. I then realized that this was Dagoth Ur himself.

His ability to project his voice did not extend into using it to alert his loyal minions. As Dagoth Ur continued to speak, I was able to sneak up on several more Blighted monsters and slay them, either under the mad god's notice or not.

The Dwemer section of the ruin ended at a damaged room with an unfinished excavation through one of the walls into which a door had been hastily installed. Nothing about it prepared me for what I found on the other side.
Standing calmly on the far side of the cavern was Dagoth Ur himself. At nearly seven feet tall, the former Dunmer towered over me, but made no hostile gestures as I approached. When I got closer I could see that he had not escaped the power of his own influence, for his body closely resembled the Ash Vampires: all sinew and muscle with the hands elongated into long claws. Despite this monstrous transformation, he was deceptively polite.

But he spoke to me as if I was Lord Nerevar, not Kerra the Khajiit. Our short conversation started with him expressing his sorrow that our relationship could not be mended to where it had been so long ago. This was fine with me. But before we were to fight, he offered me a chance to ask questions so that he could also ask questions of me. A strange request, but one I agreed to, for the sake of my own curiosity.

His first question was understandable: Was I really Lord Nerevar reborn? I decided to be honest with the unfortunate soul and told him that I was not sure. Dagoth Ur paused for a moment and bowed slightly, telling me that I had his sympathy and he would weep for my death, Nerevar reborn or not. 

His second question was of my intentions towards the Heart he was using to power his mad scheme. What would I do with it if I won? Remembering that I was advised that Dagoth Ur would see me as a usurper, I bluffed and told him I had my own secret plans for it. It sounded like a safer answer than the truth, that I had come to destroy it and everything he had labored towards. My answer was accepted without much interest.

His last question was if I would have accepted an offer to join him in exchange for Sunder, Keening, and the gauntlet 'Wraithguard'. That was an easy answer: Of course not! He thanked me for my honesty and asked if I now had any questions for him. If I did not, I was welcome to deliver the first strike of our combat when I was ready.

Rather than recalling each individual question, I think it is better that I summarize his answers. His whole plan was to restore the province of Morrowind to its 'former glory', I can only assume he meant independence from the Empire. Once this had been achieved, the Dunmer could then think about forging their own Empire. The Blight storms would continue until they covered all of Tamriel, but he did not seem to have a reason for this to happen, nor any idea as to the result. He fully accepted that his methods would result in great suffering and claimed ready to stoically bear this burden. He would grieve for the spilled blood in pursuit of his "just and noble" cause. 

I declared my questions to be at an end and he bowed again, awaiting my strike. I made sure it was a good one, my Daedric spear went right through his chest and he fell, laughing. His body disappeared before it hit the ground and a grinding alerted me to one of the spherical Dwemer doors opening behind me.

As I wrote above, nothing could have prepared me for what I found behind the door in the Dwemer ruin. But I did not mean Dagoth Ur himself. Instead I refer to the giant man-looking thing I found in the room behind the sphere.
Dagoth Ur was not so polite this time. He struck with powerful spells and brutal swipes of his clawed hands, yet all of my attacks appeared to do no damage at all. This was the power of the Heart sustaining and protecting him. Despite that, I was still quicker than he and I saw that there were two ways down to the Heart: a long, winding path along the edge of the giant cavern or a steep drop from where he and I were trading blows. I chose the second option, fortunately managing to cast my minor Slowfall spell just before fatally reaching ground. I landed just in front of the Heart at the end of a perilously strung rope bridge swaying over a reservoir of the Red Mountain's lava.
I started to congratulate myself at leaving my foe so far behind just as he teleported on to the bridge and charged at me. Hurriedly, I smacked the glowing Heart with Sunder and vaguely heard Dagoth Ur exclaim something. I tossed the hammer into my other hand and drew Keening, desperately slashing and striking at the Heart before Dagoth Ur could reach me.

Finally, one of my blows resulted in a loud boom and the shield surrounding Dagoth Ur vanished. The mad God (or former God, by then?) screamed and covered the final distance between us with but a few strides. But he was no longer immortal and I was just barely able to bring my spear up to fend him off. The Daedric spear-point only caught him a glancing blow, but he gasped and bled, allowing me to dash past him and across the bridge. My intention was to give him the choice of death at my hands or a reconciliation with Lord Vivec, but I had just reached the opposite end of the rope bridge when everything started shaking.

Pieces of the giant man-statue Dagoth Ur had been building started to rain down upon us and he turned from the ruined Heart, intent on dashing across the bridge as I did. He made it not more than halfway across before a large piece of the statue fell between us and into the lava below, severing the rope bridge in the process. The last I saw of Dagoth Ur was him tumbling downwards along with an increasing quantity of the statue above him. With his immortality stripped away, I can only assume he perished in the molten lava. In what may have been a few seconds or a few minutes, his entire work was in pieces, slowly melting as Red Mountain claimed it.
As for me, I was fortunate that the spiral walkway had not also collapsed, but it felt like a very, very long walk back up to the Dwemer door. My breastplate was missing large chunks of Dreugh chitin and I somehow lost my helm in the chaotic melee. I could have Recalled back to Ald'ruhn, but I had been assured that Dagoth Ur's death would bring blue skies to Red Mountain and it was something I felt that I needed to see.
As I walked towards the door leading into the Dwemer section, a Dunmer woman materialized out of nothing right in front of me. Such was my exhaustion that I could only calmly identify the woman as the Daedric Prince Azura. My vision swam and I was suddenly staring at blue skies over Ghostgate, over Ald'ruhn, and the small villages and the (relatively!) large cities of Vvardenfell. Azura's voice entered my mind, but it was comforting in contrast to Dagoth Ur's sneering overconfidence. She congratulated me as Hortator, as Nerevarine, and assured me that my burden of fighting the Sixth House was finally at an end, but that there were still threats to Morrowind that I would be called to overcome. I was given no chance to speak and she offered a token of her thanks before she disappeared. In her place shone a single ring. I took it, but spared it no more notice. I can look at it tomorrow.
The ruin beyond was devoid of any threat and when I stepped outside I was greeted not by blue skies, but by an orange one. The weather was clear though and there was no Blight storm. Satisfied, I Recalled home and collasped on to the hammock where only by a great feat of concentration have I been able to write all of this. 

I am not sure what time it is, but I do not care. I am going to sleep now and whatever further needs to be done can be done tomorrow. When I wake it shall be as a savior of this land, but I still do not feel comfortable in living that role. It remains to be seen how others will see me after this. It has been one hundred days since I have arrived here. How fitting.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Day 99 - My Second Blow Against Dagoth Ur

22 Sun's Dusk
~~~
After all the weeks I have been spending in preparation for my confrontation with Dagoth Ur it is ironic that the most progress made against him has been due to relatively whimsical decisions of my own. Yesterday's retrieval of the artifact 'Keening' was decided upon only to see how far I could come to retrieving it. Success was not expected, but certainly welcome!

Today I rode my luck a little further and woke in Ald'ruhn certain that I could also retrieve the artifact-weapon 'Sunder' from Red Mountain. Vivec's document called for a raid on Citadel Vemynal to slay a Dagoth named Vemyn and retrieve 'Sunder'. On my way out of Ald'ruhn I prioritized the defeat of Dagoth Vemyn over 'Sunder', rationalizing that the fewer resources Dagoth Ur had, and the quicker I eliminated such resources, would reduce his influence and make further raids into Red Mountain a little easier. That was my idea, anyway, but my ideas never seem to reach fruition.

My pitiful "map" of Red Mountain, as provided to me, is woefully inadequate and served only to inform me that Vemynal is in the northwest of Red Mountain. As to how best to get there, it could not tell me. I figured I would skip going to Ghostgate, instead I would walk the perimeter of Ghostfence until I judged it safe to levitate over. In this way I hoped to elude Dagoth Ur's notice and possibly end up closer to the citadel than passing through Ghostfence in the regular way.
I chose to levitate over a section of Ghostfence right before a small bridge so that should I be attacked upon landing, I at least had the bridge to funnel my enemies on to. I slowly floated upwards and over Ghostfence, bracing myself for the inevitable Blight storm. But when I finally descended on to land, there was...nothing. No wind, no red sky, just an eerie silence.
The unusually clear weather made the large Corpus beast idling just around the bend of the path easy to spot...and shoot. Had I known what I that would have done, I might have snuck by it. Just as the first silvered arrow smacked into the creature's diseased flesh the sky started to darken, the wind picked up, and soon I was engulfed in a Blight storm with an angry Corpus monster charging at me and bellowing.

So my idea that Dagoth Ur controls the Blight storms personally is somewhat supported. Perhaps the sudden assault on one of his minions alerted him to my presence. Or it could be just a coincidence, but I will certainly be keeping this in mind should I ever see clear skies within Ghostfence ever again.

With the Blight storm at full strength, my decision to levitate over Ghostfence was proven a good one, it shortened the walk to Vemynal considerably and as a result I only was ambushed three times while walking outside at Red Mountain. A good number considering my previous journeys to this accursed place.
It was no safer inside Vemynal. Retrieving 'Keening' had been fairly simple and low-risk due to the slight garrison Dagoth Ur placed within it, but Vemynal was much more densely populated with all manner of hostility and evil.
Several of the ruin's denizens were wearing the Sixth House amulets that normally mark the wearer as an elevated individual within the Sixth House, so I suppose it is possible that I have further eliminated more of the Sixth House's upper ranks, if such a thing exists within their twisted hierarchy.

I found Dagoth Vemyn on the lowest level of the citadel, though calling it such is being quite generous, for the entire complex is all of four rooms and one stairway. Only one room was on the lower level and it is there that Dagoth Vemyn met his end...but not by my hand.

The Dagoth's room was nearly identical to his comrade's from yesterday: a large room with a smaller square room in the middle accessible via four large metal doors, one on each side. Dagoth was in the smaller room, as expected, but he was completely alone. Rather than face the Ash Vampire in hand-to-hand combat I used my last Golden Saint scroll to satisfy my curiosity. Would Dagoth Ur's most powerful follower prevail against Sheogorath's?
I was able to peek through the gap between the doors and opened it when the Dagoth was on the far side of the room. By the time he had noticed me I was already stepping out of the doorway to give the Golden Saint room to maneuver. The battle was very one-sided, with the Ash Vampire quickly succumbing to the Daedra's two-handed blade. 

The hammer 'Sunder' was in the Dagoth's posession, strapped to one of the creatures's sinewy thighs. It looks similar to a one-handed hammer any metal worker would have in his inventory for the fixing of small dents and other fine work. Its smallness contrasts with its considerable weight, almost all of it at the weapon's head. A blow delivered with this would be grievous, making its name very appropriate.

I had no other business at the ruin and having left Keening in Ald'ruhn, I had no further business at Red Mountain at all. I waited until the Golden Saint's hold on this plane expired and Recalled back home. It was only just after lunch.

'Keening' and 'Sunder' will now be on my person at all times. I am certain that Dagoth Ur knows of their theft and will take great efforts to re-acquire the means to his destruction. It is for this reason that I re-armed myself with my most powerful weapons: a Daedric dagger, spear, bow, and eight very rare Daedric arrows. So armed, I am ready to face whatever the mad demi-God sends after me. I did discard my shield, for I never really was very good at using one back in Cyrodiil and unlike much of my previous education I did not improve much here in Morrowind. I always have been more comfortable with simply removing my body from a foe's strike than meeting it with a plank of wood or Dreugh chitin.

Most of the afternoon was spent organizing my Ald'ruhn home, firstly to make it easier to move to the Manor once it is completed and secondly to ensure I am carrying only the most essential of equipment, as my Daedric arsenal weighs me down greatly. I am still in need of Restoration potions of several kinds and will be shopping tomorrow...and possibly confronting Dagoth Ur by the end of the week.

It is a somber thought, but not one I dwell on with much anxiety. My skills and my body have improved greatly since arriving here and I am as ready as I shall ever be for the task put upon me. Should I fail I at least have the grim amusement of being the sole Khajiit spirit occupying the Ashlanders' "Cavern of the Incarnate".

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Day 98 - My First Blow Against Dagoth Ur

21 Sun's Dusk
~~~
Sleeping on the large bed provided for me at the Manor is a far cry from the creaky, worn cot I have been using at Ald'ruhn. I woke this morning feeling as though I had slept for a week, which is likely why I accomplished what I did today.

Before I could attempt anything great I had to complete the minor task of women-finding. Naturally I had no idea how to even begin, but I figured asking around Ald'ruhn would be a decent way to start. I decided to visit the inns, first the Ald Skar Inn and then the Rat In The Pot to ask around, see if anyone female and single was looking to move out of Ald'ruhn.

I was surprised to be told there actually was such a woman: a Dunmer named Fathusa Girethi. She had been spending her nights at the Inn in decreasing sobriety, complaining all the while of the lack of eligible men in Ald'ruhn. She would loudly proclaim to anyone within earshot of her intention to move to Caldera and marry an Imperial, so I gather her frustration was considerable. My offer of living quarters at Indarys Manor was greatly welcomed by her and she set off for the Manor immediately with a piece of parchment from me allowing her residence.

My visit to The Rat In The Pot proved to be just as rewarding. I received a tip that a resident of Ald'ruhn, Aryni Orethi, was planning on moving to the mainland in the hope of getting married. Re-location to Indarys Manor was a much easier thing for her and she accepted just as eagerly as her frustrated comrade, promising to be at my stronghold by the end of the day.

The slave pen of Tel Aruhn was my last stop. The walk across the water from the Wolverine Hall was a bright pink courtesy of weather I cannot even begin to understand or predict. As disconcerting as the sky was, it was still preferable to the blood-red Blight storms and a stark contrast to what I encountered later.
To my surprise, Savile did not have the type of slaves I was looking for. She instead offered to purchase the slaves in my stead, all for the low price of two thousand Septims. I am sure she exaggerated the cost to suit her own purse, but she promised that two young Dunmer females would be at the manor by the end of tomorrow. I judged four women to be sufficient for the small settlement and Recalled back to Ald'ruhn so that I could make the trek to Indarys Manor. Hetman Guls seemed to approve of what I had done, stating that the manor would now grow and prosper. I am just glad to be finally done with all of these middling chores!

Galsa did not bother to check my claim that there were women now at the manor. She simply stated that the final phase of construction would begin shortly and bade me to have a good day. I would think that a manor-holder would get a little more respect than that, but being a Khajiit in Morrowind is a constant struggle.

And just like that I was finished with the day's task...but it was only time for lunch. With nothing left planned to do, I was about to starting collecting all of my possessions so that I can start determining what I shall be bringing to the manor and what I shall be donating. But the first items I gathered were all of the non-enchanted parchments that found their way to me and the sheet atop all the others was the plan given to me by Lord Vivec to ensure Dagoth Ur's defeat.

I had read it before, but I glanced over the plan once again, noting that I did complete, or at least was in progress of, the first phase of scouting raids against Red Mountain. The second phase is a suggestion to slay Dagoth Ur's Ash Vampires, but provides no location for any of them. The third phase is to recover an artifact named 'Sunder' in a Dwemer fortress north of Red Mountain, too far for me to travel right now.

However, the fourth phase of the plan sounded doable to me: find the companion artifact of 'Sunder', a blade called 'Keening', in a Dwemer ruin fairly close to Ghostgate. I felt confident that I could retrieve 'Keening' and still be back at Ald'ruhn before sundown.

Rather than following the winding paths to Ghostgate, I instead walked from Ald'ruhn until I reached the Ghostfence, then simply followed it around until I reached Ghostgate. I did on occasion have to use my levitation amulet to ascend over some hills, but it was a much quicker way to travel than walking. The thought did cross my mind to levitate over the Ghostfence itself, but I will save that strategy for another day. My destination within Ghostfence was the Dwemer ruin (called a 'Gate Citadel' in Vivec's document) of Odrosal and according to the map of the Buoyant Armigers it was just off to the center of Red Mountain, near Ghostgate. Levitation would not help me get there today.
The deceptively intimidating Ghostgate Fortress
I was immediately greeted by one of the Sixth House's minions, this one an unfortunate soul recently infected with Dagoth Ur's so-called 'Divine Touch'.
Perhaps he was working in one of the few mines operating within Red Mountain. Maybe an ex-crusader, come to fight the horrors of Dagoth Ur. There is no way of knowing.

His death seemed to trigger Dagoth Ur's attention and soon I was completely enveloped in a screaming Blight storm that reduced my visibility to about half the length of my spear. Not a comfortable way to be traveling, especially within Ghostfence.

Fortunately, none of the Sixth House understand the concept of stealth or I would have been in a great deal of trouble. As if to underline that point, I heard my second opponent charging at me long before I could see it, not that it made the experience any less frightening. It was an Ogrim so large that it's bulk occupied nearly the whole width of the path I was following. The heavy feet of the creature gave away its approach well in advance, but owing to the wind I could not take advantage with my bow, leaving me no choice but to engage the massive Daedra in hand-to-hand combat. One solid strike from the massive hands could have certainly broken a limb or stove in my chest or head, but the lumbering creature, as with his cousins, seem designed to attack castles, not warriors. His attacks were as clumsy and obvious as his approach and I slew the great Daedra with barely a scratch upon me.

Odrosal was relatively easy to find and is probably visible from Ghostgate if there is no storm slashing at your eyes. This Citadel of Dagoth Ur's was sparsely garrisoned by his elite soldiers and my foes were tough, but few. Chief among them was the Ash Vampire Vivec named as 'Odros'. I found him in a room with four pillars supporting a partially open ceiling. I thought this an easier fight than it was, for I failed to notice the Fire Atronach stalking the walkway above the room and it announced its presence by flinging fire at me as I danced among the pillars, stabbing the great Dagoth Odros with my spear. I managed to snatch an enchanted amulet from the Ash Vampire's neck as I dodged fireballs and left the room with the Fire Atronach greatly frustrated behind me.I expected the blade 'Keening' to be wielded by the most powerful foe in Odrosal and the Ash Vampire was no doubt that foe...but the blade was nowhere to be found on the corpse.

I explored the ruin a little further and fought a Golden Saint, the last of the tiny garrison of Odrosal. My survival in this place would have been measured in seconds three months ago, yet I strode through the mostly abandoned place healthy and well-rested, confident that anything I could deal with anything or anyone Dagoth Ur thought to put against me. Imperials have a phrase stating that pride usually precedes some great misfortune, but not today, for I found the blade 'Keening' soon after my combat against the Golden Saint.

'Keening' was in a room by itself, a small tower accessible via a ladder and a trapdoor that I somehow failed to see when I entered the ruin. The dagger, for it certainly is as such, was driven into a stone altar painted with foul illustrations surrounded by six of the Sixth House's iconic red candles.
One would expect with some trepidation of a deadly trap or a summoned creature upon removing the blade, but I pulled the heavy, unbalanced thing out of the altar with no sign that anyone, anywhere, noticed. Shaped like a large dagger, 'Keening' is not a weapon I would ever use, even if the alternative was tooth and claw. The "blade", which is putting it politely, is a solid chunk of crystal, with rounded edges and a blunt tip. Wielding it as if it were a club would be the most effective if striking something with it would not shatter the thing entirely. 

But it is not for fighting, so all this can be excused. When the time comes to wield 'Keening' and the hammer 'Sunder', it will be against the magic forces that bind Dagoth Ur to this world, not against Dagoth Ur himself. Or so I hope. A quick activation of my amulet and I was instantly shedding red dust all over my soon-to-be vacated home in Ald'ruhn. 'Keening' is laying rather unceremoniously on a book while I contemplate the best way to acquire its sister artifact, 'Sunder'.
It has felt as if it has been a long time since I made a direct move against the Sixth House and this is the most direct I have moved so far. Should I acquire the hammer 'Sunder', I will at least technically be prepared to face Dagoth Ur himself within the depths of Red Mountain. 

The thought of this does not frighten me, nor cause me any worry. It feels right, somehow. Things are progressing the way they should be and my role in all of this is one to be embraced. Perhaps this is just the calm one feels when all of the choices are stripped away.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Day 97 - Making A Name for Myself

20 Sun's Dusk
~~~
If the recent chaos within House Redoran was not enough, I woke this morning to a grim reminder of the growing influence of Dagoth Ur. Ald'ruhn was gripped by the violence of a strong Blight storm, bathing the entire town in a dull red glow as the sky appeared to ripple with fire and lightning. A wonderful start to the day.
Visibility was bad enough that I considered breaking my vow not to use the Silt Strider service, but Gnisis was close enough for me to stumble safely to, ending with an unexpected tumble down the side of a hillside and into the river that separates the fortress village from the rest of Vvardenfell. My sudden arrival into the water startled a Dunmer who appeared to be bathing, but I scampered away before he could say anything.

I was looking for Hetman Abelmawia, the steward of House Redoran who represents the village of Gnisis in contrast with whomever is in charge of the Imperial fortress. He was easily found and my suspicion yesterday was correct: the "taxes" only came to sixty Septims. I could have paid Gnisis's taxes, or whatever the Septims really represent, all on my own. So many little things about Morrowind simply fails to make a whole lot of sense to me.

Hlaren had one last task for me before he would support my advancement within the House. This one was the most personal of anything I have yet been asked to accomplish: find a long-lost love of his, a Dunmer named Nalvilie Saren . He seemed confident that this woman would be willing to move from her home in Vivec to be with him and asked that I tell her he was no longer concerned with the past, only their future together. I really had no choice but to agree. Hlaren thanked me and excused himself to take care of the business of his manor. I was just about to leave when a guard that had been loitering nearby during our exchange asked me to spare a moment of my time for her.

Her name, Nalvyna Sarinith, was surprisingly similar to the councilor's love and for good reason I suppose: she had feelings for the Redoran lord. Nalvyna revealed that Nalvilie was living in disgrace at Vivec and has a long history filled with many lovers, of which Hlaren was but one. She pleaded with me to speak to Hlaren on her behalf in order to convince him to, as she put it, "...look a little closer to home." 

I readily agreed, happy to possibly not find myself in Vivec today. Hlaren was further within the manor, but willing to have his work interrupted. He spoke highly of Nalvyna when I asked of her, but was hesitant to meet the woman's shy advances until I rather brashly pointed out that Nalvilie was a woman of much less honor than his loyal guard and much more worthy of his honor. The look of surprise on his face was comical. It was certainly the first time in his life a Khajiit berated him, but he took it with a sense of humor and agreed to speak 'honorably' with Nalvyna. He agreed to support me within House Redoran.

I am just glad to have had only to walk a few dozen steps to earn his approval!

The second approval I needed for the stronghold had to come from Mistress Brara Morvayn. Her husband had been the Councilor until he was killed defending their Ald'ruhn manor from Corpus-infected creatures. I thought this odd, for until today I have never heard of the Sixth House physically assaulting an occupied dwelling, especially one in a sizable town. Her task was obvious: I was to be the counter-assault into her former home. The only help she could provide was an observation that the creatures had started to wander close to the manor only after her husband had brought home a red statue.

This is getting to be quite alarming, but at least I knew what I was going to be facing.

Morvayn Manor lies outside of Under-Skar against the hills encircling Ald'ruhn, making it easy for the monsters to rush the building with the element of surprise. Sadly, Brara's husband had almost made it, perishing just at the foot of the stairs leading upwards into the dining area and the front door. I imagine he made his last stand at the stairs as his wife and retainers fled up the stairs to safety.
The blighted residents soon arrived to welcome me, but compared against what of the Sixth House I have fought against and won these creatures were of little consequence to me. The group was sizable, but not particularly dangerous: six unfortunate Blighted men, probably Imperial or Breton and three of the hulking mountains of flesh the men might have turned into given enough time. Luring them to the stairs evened the odds considerably and they all fell near the body of their final victim.

A conspicuous red glow was throbbing behind one of the doors and I thought I knew what I was about to find. The statue was not in the room as I thought it would be, but the four candles encircling a Sixth House banner were purposely placed there and not likely by the former Dunmer inhabitants. The Corpus creatures I slew did not seem to have the manual dexterity required to arrange and light candles like that, but I can think of no other explanation.
Down the hallway from the candle room was a scrawling of a scarab similar to the design on the banner and the drawings I had found at the various Sixth House bases. While I am willing to assume the Corpus creatures were able to shuffle the candles around, I cannot believe any of them drew the symbol I found on the floor. Despite what recent progress I have made in Ald'ruhn it seems that Dagoth Ur's agents are still at work in this town.
Just past the marking on the floor was the statue sitting on a crate, next to another red candle. I took the cause of all this trouble and brought it to Lloros so that he could disenchant and get rid of it. Whether Mistress Brara moves back into the manor is her own business, but I cannot see how someone could live in a home that has seen such tragedy. It will likely end up in the care of the Temple to whatever use they can manage.

Even though she had lost most of her wealth and all of her family, Mistress Brara still saw fit to reward me materially with an amulet enchanted to strengthen my attacks. Compared against what equipment I currently have it is a paltry thing, but the thought was a nice one. She confirmed that she will support my rather forced advancement within the House.

I returned to Athyn and he confirmed that news of my deeds had already reached him. With the support of the two Councilors I am now a House Father (Mother?), meeting Galsa's requirement and allowing the final phase of the stronghold construction to commence. Finally! Athyn mentioned that I could be named a Councilor myself, but that would require the support of the final two Councilors. Quite frankly I have no interest in the politics of the House, I originally just wanted something to do and now just a safer place to live than my tiny house.

Galsa was just as helpful as she usually is: She had nothing for me but the advice to travel to the construction site once again, this time to see what I can do to attract more settlers to the fortification. I do not see why she lacks for any ideas on that subject.

Having raged all morning and afternoon, the Blight storm was finally spent as evening approached. If anyone was hoping for clear weather they were sorely disappointed for the air was still full of dust, making it just as difficult to travel. But travel I did to the incomplete Indarys Manor so that I may see what I can do to attract a larger garrison.

The Blight storm had worked its ways and it feels as though I had to fight off a maddened animal of some kind every dozen steps. Nix-Hounds are the worst of the lot. While weaker than Kagouti and not nearly as nimble as a Cliff Racer, the beasts come charging at you from within the gloom with just the rustle of its feet as a warning. Kagouti and Cliff Racers are kind enough to roar and screech, respectively. Such is life on Vvardenfell.
The watchtower of Indarys Manor
The caretaker of the manor is an older Dunmer Hetman named Guls. He seemed a little embarrassed to admit that he would have much better success in recruiting additional retainers of the manor had some marriageable young women already waiting for them. I shall have to ask around Ald'ruhn tomorrow. The Hetman did point out that if I cannot find anyone willing to come here, that purchasing slaves is an option. Becoming a slaverowner is a detestable thought, but marriage is probably a happier prospect than slavery. It did work out for Falura.

The manor-house was already complete so I decided to take a tour of what would become my new home eventually. It is a very livable sort of place and has a full staff of servants and guards. Among the latter are an eccentric pair, a warrior and a mage, who share a small room. I say eccentric because the warrior has a fine steel breastplate, a closed steel helm in the Imperial fashion, and an expensive pair of silk leggings with matching shoes. The mage's dress is more appropriate, he only deciding on a Dwemer helmet that, along with the robe, gives him the appearance of a scholarly insect. I do hope the safety of the manor and its inhabitants do not rest on these two.

My own room is a big jump up from the cot jammed into the corner of my Ald'ruhn home. I have been furnished with a double bed by a very optimistic carpenter and have shelves and chests enough to store all of my goods. Once the construction of the manor is completed I will have to spend some time in simply moving all of the stuff from Ald'ruhn, though my Recall amulet should make the toil a little quicker.

There was no reason to go back to Ald'ruhn immediately, so I am spending the night, my first, at Indarys Manor. Writing this at the provided table is far more comfortable than cradling a parchment and pen while on a cot. I do believe I shall enjoy being a Redoran Lady, but as always there is more work that needs to be completed. Dagoth Ur also seems to be making more overt moves to expand his influence and I am certainly running out of time.

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: "...you 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.