Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Morrowind Day 5 - Justice done

20 Last Seed
I woke up this morning in Shenk's Shovel and wasted no time in finding out about the Khajiit bandit, Dro'Zhirr. After a quick breakfast I started asking around the Imperial guilds and shops and Ernand at the Mages Guild helpfully offered that he overheard someone saying that a group of bandits had been seen moving into a small, abandoned mine on the other side of the mountain ridge. I thanked him and decided to follow this lead.

Getting to the other side of the ridge proved far more difficult than it looked. I'm not much of a climber without armor, let alone a tunic of maille, so it was the long walk back into the ashy foyada for me. The weather was unusually clear and I could see the Ghostfence in the distance, ambling around the Red Mountain, which looked deceptively calm. I passed another Daedric ruin, likely also deceptively calm and cautiously skirted around it.

The bandit's cave was tucked into the mountains at the end of a small canyon off the main foyada. Mindful to make use of my magical abilities as often as possible, I wisely spoke the words of my invisibility spell and cracked open the cave's door. My intention was to sneak in and gather information, but when I had opened the door I found myself staring at a very eager looking, axe-wielding Orc. He must have assumed whomever opened the door was standing just outside, because he yelled some battle-cry and charged out the door...right at me.

Now, I've never had to fight Orcs in Cyrodiil. There were two Orcs in the Auxiliaries and several in the Legion and their strength and pure enthusiasm has always left me glad that I wasn't fighting against them. So when I found my invisible self in the way of an attacking Orc my first thought was to dive out of the way. I'm glad I didn't, my invisibility would have worn off by the time he had realized no one was outside and even if I could have sneaked in behind him I'd still be dealing with him on the way out.

Instead, I braced my spear, thankfully within the sphere of my spell, and thrust it right into his abdomen. I don't know why I expected that to slow him down. Instead, he kept running as the shock and pain hit him and collided into me, wrenching the spear out of my hands as he tumbled into the dry dust of the foyada. A sharp stab with my sword into the base of his unarmored skull mercifully ended his life. Fight smarter, not harder, right? A quick search of his body revealed nothing useful or valuable.

With the doorman safely deceased, I tried recasting the invisibility spell, but couldn't draw the magicka required. I elected to use my natural Khajiit stealth instead of using a potion, which didn't work out nearly as well. 

I crept along the stone walls and managed to catch snippets of a conversation between two women, a Dunmer and a Redguard. As I tried to quietly approach for a better view my foot caught on something and I wound up smashing my shield into the wall while I struggled not to fall over. Naturally, this alarmed the women and they showed the same lack of restraint and strategy as their Orc comrade, drawing weapons and charging down the corridor. They were poorly armed, the Dunmer with a dagger and the Redguard with a chitin spear. The ease at which both fell make me feel a little guilty.

I felt considerably less guilty when I turned the corner and found the first slave pen carved out of a recess in the wall. Inside were two Khajiit, a mated pair, both traders, who had been kidnapped while doing business on the mainland. When I freed them they told me they were heading for Vivec and hopefully back home and advised I visit Vivec if I hadn't already. On their way out, the female, whose name I never got, gave me a quick estimate of how many bandits were in the cave. Subtracting the three I had slain, I figured there were only two left, one of which would be Dro'Zhirr.

The not-Dro'Zhirr was a Bosmer woman, whom I successfully managed to approach without her noticing. Covered in blood as I was and she armed with only a wooden staff and no armor, I tried the honorable thing and announced myself, demanding her surrender. She laughed and said she didn't remain Dro'Zhirr's favorite through cowardice. I expected with her weak armament to have some control over magicka, but she simply swing the staff at me, which though iron-shod at the ends, lacked weight to do me serious damage. I was careful to ensure her end was quick and painless, the futility of her fight demanded it of me.

After the deaths of his gang, Dro'Zhirr's surrender seemed like cowardice rather than prudence. I told him I had come for Aeta's treasures when he asked why such a "great and powerful warrior" had bothered with his tiny band of thieves. He seemed surprised and offered to give me the jewels in exchange for half of the reward money. The notion that I would work with him after slaying five people to get to him was ridiculous and I counter-offered by suggesting it might be in his long-term interest to hand over Aeta's goods, which seemed to have sentimental value at best.

He refused, insisting he would need the money to enter into honest business, having seen the error of his ways. I'm not sure who he thought he was fooling, but I did not fail to notice his left hand dropping slowly to his belt. So when he suddenly lunged at me it came to no great surprise. His weapon of choice might have been one of Ra'Virr's "Devil" weapons, the simple iron dagger morphed into a wicked looking Daedric...dagger, for lack of a better term. The weapon cleaved through my shield with little difficulty, but Dro'Zhirr was a thug, not a warrior and he landed only superficial blows. I pressed my attack once his enchantment wore off and he joined his comrades in death, perhaps plundering the afterlife just as ineffectually as they did in life.

Just behind Dro'Zhirr's shabby living space was a second slave pen, this one with two Argonians. They weren't aware of other slaves in the cavern, so they were probably the earliest acquisition. Unlike the Khajiit they had no idea what to do with their freedom, so I revealed that I had freed other slaves and that they were headed to Vivec. They agreed to head there as well and both stopped to kick Dro'Zhirr's corpse on the way out.

The sun was already setting when I left the cave, having spent some time rifling through the group's inventory. The pickings were slim, Dro'Zhirr's enchanted weapon is probably the most valuable item I have taken. Aeta was thankful to receive her family's heirlooms back again and handed me a purse of three hundred Septims, probably more than what the total value of the gang's cheap goods and lives were worth. 

Before turning in at Shenk's Shovel I stopped by to see Irgola, a pawnbroker, to see what I could get for the meager items I brought from Dro'Zhirr's cave. I was surprised to sense a great deal of magicka from one of his rings. At my level of competency with spells, any magicka I can sense has to both be pretty strong and attuned to Illusion. I wound up trading a few mundane scrolls for the ring and was rewarded with a ring that would make me both harder to see and to hit. Definitely worth the price. 

I decided I didn't want the "Devil" weapon of Dro'Zhirr's and the armory was on the way to the inn, so I stopped there as well. I sold the enchanted dagger and traded in my trusty iron spear, plus quite a lot of money, for a silver-plated, lighter, spear. 

I guess today was productive, even though I spent almost all of it trying to find and kill bandits, shades of my previous life in Cyrodiil. Aeta got her family's heirlooms and I bought a better spear. Having met my final contact near Ald'Ruhn, I may travel to the city of Vivec tomorrow to seek training, it is going to be a long walk, but I'm going to have to endure many hardships if I'm going to further my skills in any meaningful way.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Morrowind Day 4 - Visions of Hell

19 Last Seed
It has not even been a week since I first set foot on Vvardenfell, but I feel like I've been here for months. Events have moved far quicker than I anticipated and while I did write that I was excited about the possibilities that my assignment held, I can now honestly write that, only a few days later, I feel only dread.

The morning started simple enough. I woke early, well before the sunrise, but still was enveloped in another ash storm as soon as I left The Rat in the Pot. I was determined to find Falanu's husband, dead or alive and wound up wrapping strips of cloth on my face, mimicking the guards' full helms. The cloth, naturally, fell off quite quickly. 

I did find her husband, one Drerel Indaren, wedged in the middle of a rock formation, sound asleep. My failure to locate him last night was due to the large blanket he had secured around himself to keep the ash off. When I first spied the blanket, I thought to pick it up for a few septims, thinking it had blown there. As I approached to get a better look, I was surprised to see arms and legs sticking out from underneath it. Fearing the worst, I gave the blanket a gentle jab with my spear and was rewarded with a yelp and ineffectual flailing of limbs against the rocks. 

When he regained his composure, I asked if he was Falanu's husband and he became very excited, saying that he had crammed himself into the rocks to escape the nix-hounds and spent the night fearing his wife had been torn to shreds by the nix-hounds. I tactfully neglected to mention I was the one almost torn to shreds, but he implored me to lead him back to his wife, which I proudly did. Their reunion was emotional, for Dunmer, and Falanu gave me a copy of their favorite book, which they had been planning on reading before their ashland picnic had been brought to a sudden end. I didn't comment on their odd vacationing decision and left the two happily together. The book is the second chapter of "Dance in the Fire" and it seems interesting, but I'd like to find Chapter One first.

I was planning on resuming my small quest to find my last remaining Imperial contact, but then I met Viatrix.

Even thinking back on it now makes my hands shake and my fur stand on end, but I'll record what happened next to the best of my understanding...which isn't much.

Viatrix asked me, in the sort of tone that implies the question has a foregone conclusion, to escort her to an Imperial shrine by a place she called Ghostgate. I thought it harmless enough and still retain my pride as an Imperial Auxiliary to see escorting an Imperial citizen to her place of worship as a worthy task. So I agreed. She was very annoying, complaining every time she tripped or stumbled and whining that we were going too slow. I put up with it well enough I suppose and the trip was initially worth it when our path brought us past one of Morrowind's Daedric shrines, now all ruins. I have heard from several people here that the Daedric ruins are home to demonic creatures and crazed worshipers, but often hold treasure well worth the risk. This ruin seemed abandoned though, I couldn't see any creatures prowling about, save for Viatrix, whom I wanted to throw down the side of the hill we were plodding upwards on.

The cobblestone path wound into the side of the mountain and we walked into a still, dirty fog that tasted of copper. After a foggy, foul-tasting walk that only sounded like an eternity, we stood before the strangely majestic Ghostgate Fortress.
Holding back the horror
Viatrix didn't spare time to admire the view, insisting that we continue through the fortress and into the Red Mountain beyond. I remember thinking only of the joy I'd experience once I left her at the shrine. Too true.

The procedure for passing through the fortress is ridiculously simple. In front sits a button, which opens the first portcullis and allows access to a second button between the two gates, which opens the second portcullis, allowing access into the Red Mountain. Some mechanism automatically closes each gate after a few moments. It doesn't seem very secure and there is no way for the  garrison to engage enemies trapped between the two gates, should they have some way to disengage the buttons from within. I was later to learn that the gates only existed to allow pilgrims to the shrine, the true gate was the Ghostfence, a magical barrier that ran through the fortress and around the entire Red Mountain, jailing the abominations that resided within.

I remember standing just outside the interior gate, looking up the incline that branched off, one direction towards the shrine and the other, I assume now, to a horrible and certain death.
Immediately inside the Ghostfence
What happened next, I'm not even sure of, let alone how to explain by simple writing. Viatrix was behind me, impatient as always and insisted that we continue up the incline and to the right, where the shrine of Pride was. Eager to be rid of her, I started to walk upwards.

I remember walking past a cluster of rock spires when the air seemed to vibrate and thicken. My immediate thought was some sort of earthquake, but then the red haze descended and the sky...changed.
A howling scream rose up and it took me a few panicked seconds to realize it was the wind, whipping the black clouds around at incredible speed, sheets of red lightning coursing between them. The scariest part was that the air was completely still on the ground...a dead stillness. 
The haze, the screaming, probably the storm got even worse as we continued to walk up the slope. Viatrix seemed unaffected and unaware of the unnatural weather and responded to my glance with a haughty comment that she could be going faster, if it wasn't for me. Of the two of us, only I was experiencing a land turned to nightmare.
Aptly named
We did make it to the shrine, but by this time I had a terrible headache and could barely hear her for the tortured howling between my ears. She said something to me and I stared back at her, unsure as to what she said. An annoyed, or more annoyed than usual, expression crossed her face and she handed me a purse. She pushed past me and knelt at the shrine in prayer and I didn't wait to see if she wanted an escort back down. I took a few steps away and when she didn't turn around, I did and ran as fast as I could back down the slope towards Ghostgate, nearly tumbling down in my haste. By the time I exited through the exterior gate my headache had gone and the weather was the placid overcast haze I've been growing depressingly used to already.

It would have been better if she had shown some sign of noticing what had happened, but either she was used to what had happened or it was something else other than the weather...something that happened to me. 

I calmed myself down enough to visit the Ghostgate Fortress. The garrison consists half of the Temple's religious police, the Ordinators, whom reside in one tower, and the other half is of the Buoyant Armigers, a similar force, but answerable only to Vivec, one of the three God-Kings of the Tribunal Temple. The Armigers are much friendlier than the Ordinators and I bought several restorative potions from the apothecary in their tower.

There is an actual Tribunal Temple spanning the two organizations' towers and the priestess was rather chatty, selling me an Illusion spell that would help mask my movement in combat, disorientating my enemies. She spoke of a Dunmer who lived underneath the Red Mountain, calling himself Dagoth Ur. According to her, he tried to betray the Tribunal, but they fought against him until he was constricted from leaving Red Mountain. In a bid to conquer Morrowind, he conjured up the Blight through some unknown means and the Tribunal erected the Ghostfence to hold it back. She assured me that the Ghostfence was strong enough to withstand Dagoth Ur for thousands of years to come and after experiencing what I assume is Dagoth Ur's hospitality I am very glad to hear that and hope he eventually rots there.

I left Ghostgate later in the evening than I wanted, but I definitely am not staying at Ghostgate knowing one side of the fortress lies bare to the Blight and Red Mountain. The trip was nerve-wracking, I constantly had the sensation of something creeping up at me whenever my back was turned toward the Red Mountain. The sun had long set by the time I glimpsed the comforting Imperial walls of Caldera. It's my luck then, that a women should jump out of the darkness, nearly scaring me out of my wits. I almost skewered her, but she must have seen my expression and backed away quickly, hands in front of her. Her name was Aeta Wave-Breaker and she asked my help in tracking down a bandit who had stolen her family heirlooms. Dro'Zhirr was his name, obviously a Khajiit, though that doesn't matter. I told her I'd look into it tomorrow morning and walked through the naked gate of Caldera, seeking nothing but the bed I am sitting in now. 
The unguarded gate of Caldera
I should have taken the time to see my contact in Caldera to explain what I had experienced, but that can wait until the morning. Right now the candle is burning low and hopefully I'm tired enough that whatever dreams I suffer tonight will pass by with nary a trace. Tomorrow I should make an effort at recovering Aeta's heirlooms as I promised, but I really should be practicing my magicka skills. Whatever I do, I'm keeping my distance from the Red Mountain.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Morrowind Day 3 - The Ashlands

18 Last Seed
I woke up early this morning, not sure in which direction I wanted to run off to first. I saw Caius Cosades before anyone else and he recommended that I join on of the Imperial-friendly guilds or find some employment to further my skills and gave me two hundred Septims for training and equipment. Nice of him. He provided me with a quick summary of the guilds and his mention of Ajira at the Mages Guild reminded me of the Alembic I meant to sell yesterday. I thanked Caius and reassured him that he'd be seeing me again soon. He simply smiled and nodded. Thinking back on it now, it sounds stupid. He probably has the resources to force me to see him if required.

Ajira gave me 150 Septims for the Alembic, more than I had expected. She explained happily that for her to earn an Alembic of that quality would take a lot of work and possibly setting "that Bosmer upstairs" on fire. Not wanting to be the one responsible for singed fur, I had Masalinie teleport me to the Mages Guild...elsewhere, in order to meet with a Blades trainer who lived nearby. I wound up purchasing the instructions for a weak Invisibility spell in so that I could to practice casting Illusionary spells. As cheap and weak as it is, I simply cannot get the hang of it. I fail very often and I can only cast the spell a few times before I'm too worn to draw more magicka. I guess I have a long way to go yet.

The Blades trainer in...where I went...told me about the "Sixth House", but she only had rumors to share. She said that a lot of people were nervous and refused to talk about it. I told her that if I found anything, she'd be the first to know, which surprised her. She then recommended I visit a friend of hers, a Nightblade, whom she said would be able to help me further. 

Honestly, he wasn't that big of a help, though I did buy another cheap Illusion spell from him, this one to blur my enemies' vision in a fight. In other words: a weak Blindness spell. Again however, my skill is not quite sufficient to cast it, so I'll have to practice the Invisibility spell until I've mastered the basic evocations for Illusion spells.

There wasn't much to do there, so I had the Guild Guide teleport me to Ald'ruhn so that I could speak with the last Blades trainer. I stepped outside of the Mages Guild and instantly got a face and lung full of my first Vvardenfell ash storm. 

The ash storm lives up to its name, windy, red, and choking everyone with chunks of ash blowing all about. I could barely see in front of me and the ash was already getting stuck in my ears after a few seconds. I had to shield my face while facing away from the storm and stumbled into an armorer's shop to get some reprieve. He was mostly selling a variation on the native Bonemold armor, but I was surprised to see an Imperial dragonscale helmet in his inventory. There aren't many helmets that will comfortably fit a Khajiit, so I bought it immediately. The dragonscale is, of course, not made from actual dragons, but refers to the method: overlapping small steel plates to create what many think of as a dragon's scales. If dragons existed, I'm not sure if they wouldn't be insulted by it.

I figured I'd stay inside until the storm blew over and sprinted into a local tavern, enticingly called "The Rat in the Pot". I lounged about a bit and spoke to an Argonian who warned me that the Ghostgate was the only thing preventing the blight from sweeping over all of Vvardenfell. It sounded interesting, but when I asked him where the Ghostgate was, he told me if I had to ask, I wasn't ready to journey there. That stung a bit.
The ash storms of Vvardenfell
The storm wasn't over, but I was growing tired of the tavern and walked around the town. The storms aren't bad so long as you keep your back to it, but that's not practical outside of town and I feel like I'll be washing grit out of my ears for weeks anyway. I managed to wander outside of town and ran into a woman pacing fretfully by the city's entrance. The woman introduced herself as Falanu and asked if I might be able to find her husband. The two of them were foraging outside of town for alchemy supplies but got separated when a pack of nix hounds attacked them. Her husband distracted the creatures long enough for her to get away, but he hadn't returned. The city guards were apparently uninterested, so I agreed to try to find her husband.

I ran into what may have been two of their nix hound adversaries almost immediately and suffered damage to both my armor and my health. The monsters are large and quick, delivering powerful blows with their legs and jaws. I hope to be able to look back on this journal entry in bemusement that I was almost bested by such base creatures, but as for today, they are a formidable foe, especially in packs. I killed both hounds and continued to search the barren land for the woman's husband, but the sun set before I could find him.

I plan on resuming the search for the poor man tomorrow, but it seems unlikely that an unarmed Dunmer could survive in such an environment overnight. I couldn't persuade Falanu to return to the tavern and she remains outside the gate even now in pitch darkness, waiting for him. Hopefully with more time tomorrow I'll be able to find him, as well as locate my final "contact", who I'm told is residing somewhere near Ald'ruhn.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Morrowind Day 2 - In the Emperor's service

17 Last Seed
The reason for the secretive nature of my assignment is now quite clear to me, as is the foolishness of keeping this journal, though I will continue to do so anyway. I keep repeating my new rank over and over in my head and can hardly sleep for the anticipation of what tomorrow might bring. But if I'm going to be keeping this journal, best to be dutiful about it and start, as always, at the beginning.

I awoke in my room in the Halfway Tavern at about six in the morning, just as the sun was rising. My first stop after a quick breakfast were two shops nesting together across the street. Though I had nothing to sell, I was looking for some sort of shield I could use effectively. The first store had what I was looking for, the merchant was willing to let a shield made of native materials, known as Bonemold, go for a very good price, owing to the state of disrepair it was in. For a handful of Septims I was able to acquire a shield of similar weight to what I was used to, plus repair tools. After some trial and error I was able to repair the shield to a usable condition, saving myself quite a bit of money. I wound up returning to the same shop and purchasing Imperial chain for my shoulders and legs, but nearly depleted my funds in doing so. The chain vest, pauldrons, and leggings were a comfort, both in acquiring better protection and in wearing the standard issue of the Auxiliaries. Between my short sword, spear, and armor, I looked and felt every bit the Auxiliary. It is a comforting feeling.

Fort Pelagiad was a bit of a disappointment. A few vendors had set up tables inside, but nothing caught my interest. I spoke with Ygfa, a Nordic woman of the Imperial Cult, whom offered quite a selection of spells, but unfortunately nearly all from the college of Restoration, which I have no skill in. I wasn't planning on staying long anyway and left for Balmora with the dawn at my back.
Fort Pelagiad
I saw the woman pacing back and forth underneath a large mushroom long before she noticed me, such was the strength of her distraction. When I was close enough to greet her, I managed to startle her and she asked if I had come across a bandit preying on roadside travelers. The bandit had relieved her of her jewelry and I assumed she was asking if I could track down the bandit and retrieve her possessions, but the truth was far odder. The short exchange between the two had sparked the lady's passion and she insisted I track down the bandit if only to convince him to meet her at the Halfway Tavern. I agreed to help her, simply out of amusement of the whole thing, though I doubt the bandit will be as accommodating. Maurrie Aurmine, her name was, and she bade me good luck as I resumed my trip to Balmora. I have not come across this bandit, Nelos Onmar, yet.

The road between Pelagiad and Balmora was uneventful, save for the occasional rat that I dispatched with sword or spear. I passed Fort Moonmoth on my way to Balmora and decided to stop for a bit to get out of the rain which had fallen out of what had been a cloudless sky only half an hour before.
Fort Moonmoth
Moonmoth seems built to be Fort Pelagiad's older sibling. While Fort Pelagiad has a larger courtyard, Moonmoth is built compactly, while housing a much larger garrison. Perhaps the opposite was true in harsher days. Like Pelagiad, Fort Moonmoth had several merchants vying for space within the entrance chamber, but also in an adjacent room. I didn't have much money left after purchasing and repairing my shield, but I did trade my steel sword and the few Septims I had left for a silver-plated sword. The plating aids the wielder in delivering a blow to enemies of an ethereal nature, though I am not sure how or why this works. I do have to be more careful with it though, should the silver wear off, the sword won't be any more useful than the steel one I gave up. Fortunately, I haven't encountered any spirits or demons yet, but it never hurts to be prepared for as much as you reasonably can. 

Another Imperial Cult member and merchant, Peragon, gave me a copy of "For My Gods and Emperor" to read to aid me in making the decision to join the Imperial Cult. I'm still thinking about it, but more recent events will put that on hold.

As I was leaving the fort, I was stopped by an Imperial Legionnaire introducing himself as Larrius Varro. He said I looked like I could handle myself and I truthfully agreed that this was probably the case. He's asked me, unofficially, if I could "take care" of a bandit problem near the fishing village of Hla Old. I'm not sure where Hla Old is, but maybe this bandit is the one Maurrie was looking for.

It was a short walk from the fort into Balmora and I was looking for an inn when a shop's sign caught my eye. It simply said "Ra'virr: Trader", but I was curious to talk to what I assumed would be a long-time Khajiit resident of Morrowind. I was not far off. By the looks of it, Ra'virr ran a semi-legal trading business, with a surprising stash of magical weapons, which he called "Fiend" or "Devil" weapons. These would summon a demon-infused version of itself into the wielder's hand upon command and were advertised as quite powerful. He did carry a "Devil" spear, but it was out of my very narrow price range. Besides the price, the other downside of the weapons were that the enchantments would only last for a few summons, though the Devil spear was steel and would be more useful than what I have now, drained or no.
Just outside Balmora
As I suspected, Ra'virr was in the market for Moon Sugar and Skooma and when I revealed that I had a sizable stash I was looking to be rid of, he started excitably shouting prices at me. I wound up making a trip back to Seyda Neen on the back of a giant bug to grab the goods, then rode the bug back into Balmora with them stashed under my armor. Ra'virr was quite bemused when I expressed my guilt at selling the drugs that kept our people in slavery here on Morrowind. It turns out (if he was honest) that he sells the stuff to alchemists and mages on the black market, who manage to draw out properties of the vile substances to some good. He mentioned that Ajira at the local Mage's Guild also bought sugar and skooma for the same purpose. I left with a lighter conscience and a heavier purse, having decided to wait on the Devil Spear. My Imperial iron spear has served me well so far.

Iron and steel, I hope, since my wandering led me into the Razor Hole, a Nordic weaponsmith's shop, where I bought a steel Imperial crossbow and forty bolts. I admit I'm a rather poor shot, for it is far heavier and bulkier than the Imperial short bow the Auxiliaries were trained with. However, I can't strap a bow to my back with the spear there and the crossbow hangs at my waist. The crossbow's punch will prove an unpleasant surprise for any enemies, provided I manage to get adept enough to hit something farther than five feet away.

It was nearly 5pm when I walked out of the Razor Hole with the crossbow slapping against my maille, so I figured it best to locate Caius Cosades. The South Wall cornerclub was easy to find and the people inside were very friendly and helpful. The owner of the club, Bacola Closeius, gave me directions to Caius's home, stating that it had been a long time since someone was looking for Caius's bed-and-breakfast. I was a bit taken aback by this, wondering why my contact for the mission was a simple innkeeper. What transpired once I found him is a testament to the ingenuity of the Empire's agents.

I was expecting an inn, or at least a large house, but the single-dwelling home at the end of the street did not seem the bed-and-breakfast type of place. The old, disheveled man who answered the door (without a shirt, no less) also didn't seem the deliver-the-secret-package kind of guy. My suspicion heightened when he told me I'd "better come inside" after telling him I had a delivery for him, instead of a night's rent.

The inside of his home was little better and I had apparently woken him from a nap or something. At least, I hope I did, for the bed was unkempt and books lay scattered about the room. He was muttering and reading through a parchment he had unwrapped from the package, but he quickly put it down and spoke to me in a very different voice than he had greeted me with. He asked if I was willing to follow his orders, but refused to answer any questions until after I gave my answer. I had been picked out of the Auxiliaries, transported halfway across Tamriel, and told to deliver a specific package to this man. I remember thinking that whatever orders these were, they had to be in the Emperor's service somehow. How right I was!

I answered that I would follow his orders, provided they were in the Emperor's interests. He laughed and said they certainly were, since the package contained orders to induct me as a Novice in the Emperor's Blades, the secret intelligence service most people didn't even think existed. It occurs to me that writing this down in my journal isn't a good idea, but if anyone else is reading this, it will be because I'm dead and beyond such concerns.

He gave me a list of agents (whose names and locations I will not write down) and advised that I visit them when I could and make use of their training and skills. He then told me to come back once I felt prepared for my first "real" assignment and cautioned me that it would likely be more dangerous than anything I had faced in Cyrodiil, but this was a man who had never tasted Ghamul Loghash's home-made brew behind the archery buttes. Still, his advice was, and is, taken and I left with the intent to visit the names I was given as soon as possible.

Three of them (this should be safe to say) reside in Balmora and I called upon each one of them in order to introduce myself. They were all very helpful and gave me gifts to either sell or use. One told me more about corpus disease and the Blight, a volcanic ash that issues from a semi-active volcano in the center of Morrowind. This ash is either cursed or diseased in some way and exposure can afflict several diseases, one of them corpus. His job on Morrowind was to learn more about the volcano and the Blight and any help I can provide him will be much appreciated, though it sounds a bit too dangerous for me right now.

Similarly, another agent's job was mapping the coastline, which he thought would be for the landings of additional Legions in case of a revolt. Again I was not quite enlisted, but told that any help in this would be great. Curiously, his gift was Moon Sugar, which I was heavily encouraged to sell instead of ingest.

Mercifully, the third individual served as more of a weapons trainer and had no external responsibilities, but did give me steel armor that nearly caused me to topple down the stairs once I left her dwelling. Finished with my social calls, I sold what gifts I could not use (including the sugar!) and staggered into the Lucky Lockup at nine in the evening, had a quick dinner, and rented a room, where I am now. 

I feel worn to the bones and I haven't even done much today. The shock and realization that I am in the Emperor's secret Service hasn't quite hit me yet, but now I have no responsibilities for a while. I'm not sure what to do next or where to go, but it will certainly be interesting!