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!

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