Monday, May 28, 2012

Morrowind Day 9 - Kerra, Naval Inspector

24 Last Seed
My first stop after breakfasting at the Vivec Mages Guld was to visit a much relieved Tarer Braryn, who was no longer constantly scratching. He paid me 100 Septims for acting as the go-between. He mentioned that if I was looking for more money, a gang known as the Bemis Gang has set up under the Foreign Quarter canton. This gang was probably the same victims currently rotting in the Daedric shrine off in the sewers and in death certainly help to pad my money satchel.

Casting a spell successfully is sadly still a noteworthy event and I leapt off the Temple Canton on to the water, my spell cushioning my fall and allowing me to walk (briskly!) across the bay. I turned around to admire the view and was surprised to see a giant rock hovering over the Temple Canton. I'm not sure how I missed it before, but its location seems rather precarious and I wonder how it got there. Scaffolding along the rock seems to indicate that it is in use in some form, perhaps mining. The rock is likely not a great mystery, but I'm curious as to its story.
Temple Canton from the middle of the bay
Turning my back to the physics-defying stone, I stepped across the water and into Ebonheart. The Imperial city is small by any standard, but the view of the giant cantons across the bay makes it city seem no more than a village. I didn't wander around though and walked on to the ship I assumed had the limeware, hoping that bluffing the guards would work, sneaking by them seeming too difficult with only one entrance into the cargo hold.

Getting the limeware off of the ship in Ebonheart turned out to be a lot easier, and a lot more discouraging, than I had anticipated. I was told that the ship was an Imperial trading vessel and it was, in fact, guarded by Imperial Legionaries. But the ship was obviously crooked and if the guards weren't, they had to have been well paid to not ask questions. So well paid, in fact, that when a Khajiit in Imperial armor annouced that she had been sent to inspect the caulking of the ship's cargo area in response to an increased frequency of ship's floundering off the coast, they had no objections. In this way I managed to not only acquire the limeware Alaryne requested, but also nearly forty bags of Moon Sugar which I'm looking forward to selling in Balmora.

I tried casting my water walking spell to go back to Vivec, but I couldn't have luck that good twice I guess. I took a small ferry back to the Foreign Quarter and walked to the Telvanni canton to see if I could purchase some spells from the Great House's mages. The atmosphere in the canton was very unwelcoming, the House is so insulated that even the shops are shaded from outsiders, the signs simply labeled "Telvanni Mage/Alchemist/Trader" and so on. I suppose I'd have known who the owners were if I was in the House. I approached a few of the unnamed shop owners, but they acted as though they were doing me the favor of selling me their wares. I wound up buying nothing and left the canton to deliver the limeware, my opinion of the slave-owning Telvanni lower for having dealt with them.

Alaryne was good on her word, handing over a satchel which I later counted out to fifteen hundred Septims. That plus the armor I secluded in the sewers of the Foreign Quarter means I won't be hurting for money soon, but I need to find a place to start stashing my equipment. I'm tempted to use the shrine, but my skin crawls every second I'm in there. Vivec does seem a good place to stay, so I'll continue to look through the cantons. I feel I'll have better luck searching lower in the cantons than higher.

I still have a lot to do in Vivec, but I teleported back to the Balmora Mages Guild so that I could give Ajira the mushrooms for her report and to sell the Sugar to her and Ra'Virr. The day passed a lot quicker than I thought it did, so when I arrived at the Mages Guild Ajira had already closed up her small laboratory. Her mushrooms and the Moon Sugar will have to wait until tomorrow. I anticipate getting a lot of money for the Sugar, but I do not like carrying around so much money. Tomorrow I'll find some secretive place in Vivec to start hiding my inventory away.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Morrowind Day 8 - Murder in Vivec

23 Last Seed
I woke up and went to the Hall of Justice to inquire about the murderer. The office I was directed to was a dual office shared by the Officer of the Watch and his second-in-command. The junior officer, Tarer Braryn, asked if I knew where the Mages Guild was as soon as I stepped in the door. Surprised, I answered that I had just left from there and he asked that I have a word with the Archmage about rescinding the curse of a rash he had bestowed upon Tarer when the latter had insulted him while drunk. I agreed and he handed me a book as a gift to smooth things over with the Archmage.

The Officer of the Watch, Elam Andas, was interested in my offer of assistance, but warned that nothing could be done for me officially, but he would be willing to reward me personally, off the books so to speak, should I be able to either capture or kill the murderer. There were no witnesses to any of the murders, but an outlander in the Hlaalu canton had been threatened by a Dunmer woman with a dagger and netch leather armor. The description seemed a bit generic to me, but I started my investigation at the Hlaalu canton.

No one in the Hlaalu canton could remember seeing a Dunmer woman that fit the murderer's description, but since all the successfully murdered victims seemed to have died without a fight, I gathered that the woman was some sort of rogue assassin perhaps and quite adept at not being seen. The Hlaalu sewers could certainly hide someone, but exploring it revealed no clues and one madman who babbled incoherently about Dagoth Ur's revival, stating that it was the Hour of Wakening for the Sixth House. He was crazy and spoke longingly of the day when Dagoth Ur would drive the foreigners out of Morrowind, but his actions seemed limited to speech, so I left him muttering in the sewers.

My investigation continued in the Foreign Quarter canton and bore fruit quickly. One of the residents recalled overhearing a sewer cleaner at a local cornerclub, talking about a young Dunmer woman slinking about the sewers. He had also complained about a gang that had set up there, but I was not nearly as interested in that, though that turned out to have bigger consequences than the murderer.

The Foreign Quarter's sewers are built much as the Hlaalu canton's are, with the exception of additional storage chambers. I found the body of a fully armored Orc laying in front of one of these chambers, his throat slit. I guessed that the Orc had been searching for the murderer as well, so when I cautiously stepped into the chamber I expected to be dealing with the woman. Instead, evidence suggested that the Orc was probably guarding the chamber and became a victim of opportunity. The chamber has been transformed into a Daedric shrine, complete with a giant statue of some sort of humanoid creature. I found the bodies of two more Orcs dead in their bedrolls, their throats having been slit unceremoniously while they slept.

This would not be a very noteworthy thing, other than the evidence of my drawing closer to the murderer, were it not for the fact that one of the sleepy Orcs had been in posession of a full suit of rare Orcish armor, which was laying next to him, polished and ready for the morning that never came. The armor is comprised of a thick soft leather backing, to which is attached expertly designed metal plates. The standards of the Orcish armorers is so high that most people mistake Orcish armor for plate armor, rather than the scale armor that it technically is. I could wear the armor comfortably, but I was carrying so much that I couldn't manage to sling the armor along as well. Hopefully it will remain there until tomorrow, when I can reclaim it.

I was a lot more nervous after encountering the murderer's latest victims. To kill two Orcs while they slept is a difficult thing itself, but the shrine's guard had been awake, but died without defending himself. Uneasy, I tried casting the few defensive spells I had, but they predictably failed until I could not draw any more energy. As it was, I had an entire minute of warning before she attacked me. I had just exited one of the giant canals that run between the sewers when I heard a shout. Incredulously, the murderer was charging at me with a dagger at least forty yards away from the far end of the sewer. I had time enough to fire two arrows, both of which missed, before she was close enough to stab me.

Every blow from the dagger, no matter how slight, made my armor feel heavier and my limbs more exhausted, while she gained vigor and strength with each strike. The dagger itself was only chitin and was not doing any damage to my armor. Trusting this, I bodily hurled myself at her, using the weight of my armored body to knock her off balance. Her dagger drove straight into my chest as I lunged, but skidded along the Imperial chain as she was hurled into the foul, drifting sewage. I'm sure that would have ultimately been fatal, as she swallowed a great deal of it in her effort to climb out, but I wasn't feeling patient at that point. A quick gulp of restorative had me feeling far more energetic and I have no shame in admitting I stabbed her to death while she clambered up the small staircase leading out of the water. Her body sank back into the muck of Vivec and I did not have the energy to pull the body out.

Elam Andas accepted my assurances and told me he'd dispatch Ordinators to fish the body out. He offered me either the helm and cuirass of the Ordinators, which I would not have been able to wear in Vivec, or a magical belt he called the "Belt of the Armor of God". Unwieldy name aside, the belt was legal to wear anywhere and far lighter, so I chose that. I'm not sure yet of its exact magical properties, but it does have some strong signatures on it.

Seeking to relax after the morning's ordeals, I wandered about Vivec for a few hours and stumbled into the Glassworker's Hall on the top floor of the Saint Delyn Canton after misinterpreting the symbol on the sign outside the door as being related to alchemy. All the employees turned to stare at me as I walked in and I was just about to apologize for intruding when one of the workers asked if I was interested in making some money. It seems I cannot walk around in peace without someone offloading a business proposition to me!

Alaryne Indalas is her full name and she handles the import/export side of the Glassworker's Guild. Her previous (illegal) source of Dwarven limewire had dried up and she asked that I "acquire" some simple cups and bowls out of an Imperial trading vessel docked nearby at Ebonheart. She offered me what seems like the massive sum of 1,500 Septims for five cup and five bowls and I told her I would see what I could do. Fifteen hundred Septims would go a long way towards paying for magical training and her proposition is definitely more attractive after reviewing my successful casting rate. I'll prowl around Ebonheart tomorrow and see if I can't manage to get inside the ship.

Before turning in for the night at the Mages Guild, I spoke briefly with the Archmage. He appreciated the "gift" Tarer had provided and gave me a potion for Tarer that would clear up his rash. He also handed me a potion of levitation, which will be useful in the broken terrian of the foyadas.

Tomorrow I'll deliver Tarer from his suffering and make a brief visit to Ebonheart. I also need to find a place to call my own, I am quickly outpacing my limited ability to carry my possessions everywhere. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Morrowind Day 7 - Welcome to Vivec

22 Last Seed
Mornings seem to be the safest time of day in Morrowind, my walk from Pelagiad to Vivec, though time consuming, was without event. I've been told however that the east of Morrowind, especially the northeast, is far more dangerous than the relatively civilized area I've so far been restricting myself to.

I reached the city of Vivec by early morning and the view was certainly worth the walk. Vivec is an impressive collection of nine blunt, pyramid-shaped structures the Dunmer call "cantons", each one the size of Balmora. The cantons each serve a specific purpose, one as the "Foreign Quarter", one each for the Great Houses, one as a giant arena, and others owned by the Temple for administrative purposes. I wanted to return Piernette's bowl before I got distracted visiting the city, so I followed Ygfa's directions, crossing a small bridge just north of Vivec and following a dirt path which eventually wound its way past Piernette's farmstead. She was grateful to receive the bowl back and promised to put in a good word with the merchants of Vivec, hopefully netting me easier negotiations and better prices.

It is surprising how many farms there really are outside of the city. If you stay to the main roads, you barely see them, but once you start wandering the packed dirt roads they seem to occupy every square foot of the grassland, some farming Vvardenfell's plants, others herding netch or guar. The individual farms are very small and a close-knit community seems to have formed among them. I stopped to chat with a few farmers on the way back to Vivec and heard the latest rumors from the city. Apparently, the duke's daughter, Ilmeni Dren, is openly abolitionist, though the official Imperial policy, and therefore the Duke's, is more hands-off. She has been seen with Jobasha, a bookseller in Vivec who is a well-known abolitionist. While I have been and will be freeing all the slaves I encounter, I have no desire to entangle myself with Morrowind's politics.

Returning from Piernette's farm I met Teris and his guar, Rollie, loitering at a small crossroad. As I approached, he waved his arms, asking if I was interested in making some easy money. Always wary of "easy" money, I asked him what his terms were. He required an escort into the Foreign Quarter canton in Vivec, specifically to a clothing shop to make a delivery. Why he thought an escort was needed for the remainder of his very short trip was beyond me, but I was happy with the one hundred Septims he offered, so I agreed to escort the man and his guar into Vivec. Halfway to Vivec he commanded the pack animal to stay, stating that they were not allowed within the city limits. He shouldered his delivery of cloth and we continued onwards.The man was cordial, but seems to have a strange attachment to his guar.

The Foreign Quarter canton is organized in tiers and is very easy to navigate, despite its size. Teris's clothier had a shop on the lower level of the canton and I was paid not one hundred Septims, but two hundred, once he delivered his goods. I could hear him muttering to himself how much Rollie would have enjoyed sightseeing. An odd man, but one who pays well.

Among the rumors floating about the canton is one that there is a murderer or vampire loose somewhere in Vivec. Several outlanders have been killed, but two Ordinators have also been killed, both without being able to draw their weapons. The Office of the Watch is advertising a reward leading to the capture or death of the criminal or criminals involved. I may look into this later.

While in the Foreign Quarter canton I stopped at a Fletcher's shop to see about exchanging my crossbow for a lighter weapon. While it is easy to carry and use, the weight of the weapon and the bolts is a hindrance. I wound up trading the crossbow and ammunition for a standard, and much lighter, Imperial short bow with fifty arrows. The fletcher, a Bosmer named Aradraen, was kind enough to rig a special harness for the bow so as to not interfere with my spear. She also dabbles in enchantments and sells a very wide range of magical ranged ammunition, most of it out of my price range for now.

While on my way to the top of the canton to visit the Mages Guild I was approached by a man handing out leaflets which stated that there was an alchemist whose shoddy products were poisoning people. The alchemist is in the Foreign Quarter canton, but I don't feel any great need to investigate what is probably a childish attempt by a competitor to remove her.

Today seems to have gone on far longer than it actually has and I'm now in the Vivec Mages Guild's guest quarters, preparing for tomorrow. I may visit the Office of the Watch tomorrow and see what sort of reward they are offering. Otherwise, I plan on visiting a few more cantons tomorrow to see what can be found. I haven't forgotten that I have a greater responsibility on my shoulders, but I do not yet feel ready to start on that business. I need better equipment and more importantly, a lot of magical training, before I can be confident of fulfilling my duties.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Morrowind Day 6 - On the way to Vivec

21 Last Seed
I woke up at Shenk's Shovel earlier than usual, around 5am and performed what is becoming a ritual of mine: visiting the local Mages Guild of whatever city I'm in first thing in the morning. I bought a simple Locking spell to practice Alteration, but I still lack a spell for unlocking. Figuring that the easy road wasn't going to be doing me any favors I passed on using the Mages Guild Guide to teleport me to Vivec and walked out of Caldera before the sun rose.

The journey was uneventful and quiet, a few wild rats provided the only distraction from the morning's doldrums. I was just able to make out the walls of Balmora through the morning haze when I stumbled upon the body of a Dunmer, a note in his pocket identified him as Ernil Omoran. While it was impossible to tell, the presence of the skooma pipe on his person suggested an end from similarly unscrupulous individuals. The note was addressed to someone named "Tsiya" and I pocketed both the note and the pipe in case I ran into this person.

The best walking path between Caldera and Vivec passes through Balmora and I took the opportunity to purchase some minor supplies and ask about Tsiya. Ajira knew of her and she made her disapproval quite clear. Tsiya lives in Balmora, a Khajiit with a bit too much sugar in her head for Ajira's liking. She pointed me towards Tsiya's house along the river and asked that I remind Tsyia that Ajira was not a sugar-dealer.

Ranis, the Guildmaster of the Balmora Mages Guild, stopped me while I was leaving to suggest, quite pointedly, that it would be in both of our interests to join the Guild officially. Her demenor and tone made it seem almost a threat, but her reasoning was sound. The amount of time and money I've spent at the Guild so far does indicate I'm likely to return more than once and as a member I would get discounts on goods and training. For Ranis, increasing her Guild's headcount would bestow greater prestige and political power within the Mages Guild power structure on Vvardenfell. I agreed and am now an Associate of the Imperial Mages Guild. I have no aspirations for great rank, I joined because I know I'll be seeking the Guild's expensive magical training in the near future.

Tsiya's home was barely a minute away from the Guild. I knocked on the door and receiving no reply, walked in. Tsiya's was at the head of the stairs staring down at me and shakily asked me what I needed. She was clearly a bit out of her mind, so I walked up the stairs and handed her Ernil's note and the skooma pipe. Dulled by either sugar or skooma, she still managed to appear dismayed at the news of his death. No lost love though, he was her dealer, though an honest one. The return of her pipe resulted in a reward of 50 Septims and ten packets of her valuable Moon Sugar. I admit to forgetting to remind her that Ajira wasn't going to sell her any sugar.

I returned to Ajira with the sugar and asked her if she needed any help now that I was an official Guild member. She was quite excited to let me know that she needed various mushrooms collected for her experiments, if I could bring her some. I don't make a point of keeping clumps of fungus in my pack, but I told her I'd grab some if I came across any.

I left Balmora, walking past Fort Moonmoth and through the ashy foyada towards Pelagiad. Maurrie's glove was still occupying valuable space in my inventory of miscellaneous rubbish. I figured a quick detour into Pelagiad might net me the information I need to find the lady's bandit. En route to town I passed a small mine cut into the hillside along the road. I remembered passing it on the way to Balmora, but this time there were piles of refuse scattered about the entrance, molding sacks, discarded kitchenware, clothes. Miners would have been more discreet with their waste disposal, so I approached the mine warily, mindful of the last time I opened a door cut into a hillside.

No charging Orc greeted me at the door this time though and I took the opportunity to cast my Invisibility spell. Four times I tried and four times I failed. Joining the Mages Guild is seeming more like a wise financial move now.  While it would have been nice to succeed, it turned out to also be unnecessary. The cave was tiny and only occupied by a female Dunmer and a male Nord, only the latter which provided any challenge in dispatching. Neither fit Maurrie's description and the bandit couple evidently settled on pilfering the surrounding farms, only the Nord's belt, radiating magic, was seemingly of any value at all. A silver bowl was the only other noteworthy find, as it was engraved for a "Piernette Beluelle"  by the East Empire Company in gratitude for services rendered.

Inquiries made at Pelagiad about the bowl led me to Ygfa, the Imperial Cult Healer in Fort Pelagiad, who gave me some rather confusing directions to Piernette's farmstead. The farm is on the way toward Vivec, so I am planning on visiting tomorrow morning.

Before paying for a bed at the Halfway Tavern I asked around about Maurrie's bandit and a young Dunmer asked me why I was looking for him. When I replied that I had the lady's glove as a sign of her infatuation with the thief, he revealed himself as Nelos Onmar, Highway Bandit. He seemed touched by her gift and wrote me a note to give to her. It was getting dark, but I left the tavern and hunted down Maurrie, who was still standing under the giant mushroom, in the dark, seemingly oblivious to the dangers the night brings. She was overjoyed with Nelos's note and I escorted her back to the tavern. On the way she suggested I visit a friend of hers, Barnard Erelie, in Tel Branora, stating that the two of us would get along well. A name to make note of, but I'm not going to go out of my way to see this person without a better reason.

I did not make it to Vivec today like I had planned, but certainly will tomorrow. I would like to find more spells and start setting aside money for magical training as well. As for now, I can content myself with the joy Maurrie and Nelos seem to have found with one another and hope they enjoy a happy future together.