Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Morrowind Day 13 - Last Day of Practice

28 Last Seed
Another day of practice and training before I start what will likely become my larger part in service of the Empire. I spent all morning working on Illusionary magic with Estirdalin until I finally was able to cast my basic spells successfully.

I walked into the Fighter's Guild after lunch, intending to find someone to help me train either my skills with the bow or the shield. I probably could have found someone to train me, but one of the guild members, Wayn, distracted me with an Adamantium shield he was peddling. The shield is a smaller round shield compared against the more common rectangular Adamantium tower shield and I spent just over three thousand Septims to acquire it, which left me with no money in my budget to train my skill in using it.

No one in the Fighters Guild could help me with my bow, which came as a surprise. The Thieves Guild was similarly unhelpful, though this was likely due to my not being a member. I have always fought against the prejudice Khajiit receive in assuming we are all thieves and I could not bring myself to break my small, admittedly pointless contribution towards equality by joining now. 

While I was contemplating buying two hundred arrows from The Razor Hole and peppering trees with them, I remembered the fletcher in Vivec, Aradraen, from whom I purchased my bow from. She had a straw dummy set up in her shop, so I teleported to Vivec via the Mages Guild to see if she would be willing to earn a few Septims training me. At the very least I figured I could negotiate the usage of the dummy and practice a little.

She was glad to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening coaching me with the bow. It cost me the rest of my money, just under one thousand Septims, but she is an effective teacher and I am much more confident about using the bow. I'll never be using it as my primary weapon, but if I can soften up my opponents before closing in with my spear or sword, then the lessons were worth any amount of coin. 

I'm spending the night at the Vivec Mages Guild and tomorrow I will be starting on whatever task my "guild" has for me. I also want to find out more about the Imperial Cult, but I feel my responsibility to my duties will have to come first, at least for a while.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Morrowind Day 12 - Learning by Doing

27 Last Seed
Today will certainly wind up being one of my more boring entries. I spent the entire day in the Balmora, most of it in the Mages Guild, training and practicing with my slim inventory of spells. Joining the Imperial Cult has been constantly on my mind, but my induction into...my new group of friends even moreso and I should begin with some of their tasks soon.

Before doing that though, I need to train my magicka skills until I can be confident about having a reasonable chance of successfully casting the spells. Khajitt are not exactly known for their command of the arcane arts, but enough of us succeed at becoming quite good to make me think that a large part of our reputation in this matter is simple prejudice.

I have been carrying a good number of potions on me, but the increased weight of my new armor meant I would have to dispose of all but the most useful. To that end, I sold every vial that wasn't a protection, restoration, or healing potion to Nalearya. For twenty-six potions she paid me 475 Septims, mentioning that she heard Ajira was unhappy about a recent delivery she had received and if I had heard anything about it. I hadn't, having left the Mages Guild earlier in the morning than usual and I doubled back to the Guild to see what she was talking about. 

When Ajira told me what had happened, I wondered if she had more connections with the Thieves Guild than the Mages. A "debt" had been repaid to her in full, but instead of the Septims (or sugar, I suppose) Ajira had been expecting, her debtor had paid in Kwama eggs and Nix-hound meat. The person must either have confidence in his feet or Ajira's sense of humor, but the indignation and rage on my friend's face made me doubt either would spare the joker from his fate.

My own alchemy skills are not very good, but I know that if I powdered the eggs and mixed it in a pot of boiling Nix-hound meat the resulting liquid should be a stamina restorative. I offered to buy all of Ajira's stock of eggs and meat and when she recovered from her surprise, sold me the goods at a very reasonable price. I spent most of the morning brewing potions and sold them to Nalearya at a slight loss, but the practice was worth the cost.

It was early in the evening by the time I finished working through Ajira's unwanted inventory, feeling that I gained something from the hours I spent working at the alchemy laboratory the guild set aside for guests. Too late in the day to begin any journey, I instead practiced locking and unlocking the doors of the guild with my spells and a hip of magicka refresh flasks. Again, not terribly exciting, but time well spent nonetheless. 

Ranis annouced my promotion to Journeyman over a late dinner tonight. Ajira and Galbedir both congratulated me, making me feel that their "rivalry" might be a ruse to draw more work out of the guild's recruits. Or it could be genuine and simply not extend to me.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Morrowind Day 11 - An Unexpected Windfall

26 Last Seed
I woke up this morning, excited to finally claim the valuable Orcish armor I left at the shrine.After a very quick breakfast, I stripped myself of my shield and all my armor except for the cuirass and left it all in Ajira's care before teleporting to Mages guild in Vivec.

I hurried into the sewers of the Foreign Quarter and crept into the shrine, which was depressingly empty, devoid of bodies and armor. A book left on the floor titled "Corpse Preparation v II" left little doubt as to why they were taken. I admit I was bitterly disappointed and angry at myself, having counted on either having far better armor or far more money coming into my possession.

While I was reexamining the room for clues as to where my armor had gone, I spotted a large diamond on the shrine that had rolled underneath the lip of the offerings plate. Perhaps due to the disappointment at having the armor taken from me, I foolishly grabbed a very valuable item off of a very potent and evil shrine.

Almost immediately a hideous, gurgling scream exploded behind me, along with a ball of fire. I spun around and to the side, intent on dodging behind the shrine. Facing me was some sort of humanoid daedra, angered at my theft of his goods. The only reason I survived the battle is due to Ajira's potions, especially the magicka absorption vials. I was able to limit the affect of the creature's exploding spells by dodging between the pillars of the shrine, taking jabs at it with my spear. When it finally screamed its last and collapsed into a pile of dust, my equipment was damaged and I was heavily injured.

Again, Ajira's potions came to the rescue and I felt far better after drinking three of her restoration mixtures. I'm not sure how long I spent sitting on the ground against one of the pillars, but I noticed the boots buried underneath the creature's ashy remains as I was getting up. While the creature left nothing solid of his own behind, underneath the remains rested its final gift to me: a pair of very valuable and very heavy Daedric boots.

Just for the feel of it, I set each boot on the floor, right side up and uncomfortably crammed my feet halfway into them. As hard as I strained, I could not get either boot to move at all, though Khajiit feet are not made for wearing armored boots anyway. Any warrior who is strong enough to acquire and wear a full suit of this stuff is definitely one to respect. Preferably from a distance.

It was fortunate that I lightened myself at the Balmora Mages Guild prior to coming to Vivec, since I could just barely stagger out of the shrine with the boots and my nearly fatal diamond. I used up several of Ajira's rejuvenation potions as I struggled up all the stairs and ramps leading from the canton's underworks up towards the Mages Guild. I teleported back to Balmora and unbuckled my chain curiass on to my pile of equipment. I assured Ajira that I was not using her laboratory as a storage area and that I'd return soon. She claimed to not mind having it there and she seemed genuine. It is good to have a friend to depend on, at least until she trips over it.

I knew what I wanted to do with the boots as soon as I had dropped them into my pack and I walked into Meldor's armor shop, anxious to see if the Adamantium armor he was selling earlier when I was purchasing armoring hammers was still there. It was, all of it, but the prices he was asking were far too high, even with the Daedric boots. After a lot of negotiating, we settled on an exchange of one Adamantium breastplate in exchange for the boots and 700 Septims. The armor is a bit heavier than the Imperial chain cuirass, but provides a level of protection similar to a high quality steel plate at probably half the weight and a much less limiting factor on my agility. Ajira was impressed with my acquisition when I returned to pick up my armor and listened attentively to my story about the Vivec shrine. She advised that I think about exploring the Daedric ruins scattered around. Though dangerous, she assured me the rewards were usually worth it.

I left the Mages Guild and actually had nothing to do for all of a minute until I remembered that General Larrius Varro in Fort Moonmoth had asked me to patrol the small fishing village of Hla Oad, west of Balmora. Back into the swamps unfortunately, but the trip was short, as the bandit in question made no attempts to remain subtle.
The delightful Bitter Coast
I heard him long before I saw him and I suspect that if it wasn't for the swamp, I'd have smelled him too. Drunk on whatever brew he had found or stolen, the Nord was pacing along a small wooden walkway that bridged what must be the smallest bay in Tamriel. I'm not even sure why the bridge exists, a person could simply walk around, losing only a few seconds over using the bridge. Anyway, the drunken Nord shouting about being the ruler of the bridge had to be the bandit I had been sent to take care of, but while a sober Nord is dangerous, a drunk one is moreso. A Khajiit such as myself who can't sneak or pick a lock doesn't survive by being stupid and I confess without any shame that the "fight" was entirely unfair. Inebriation combined with an opponent who has an Invisibility potion on her makes for a very short encounter. To my credit, he died instantly when I snapped my dagger into the back of his skull. I pocketed the few Septims he had and rolled his body into the water for the slaughterfish to feast on, the furious churning of the water receding in my ears as I walked back to Balmora. So falls the King of the Smallest Bridge.
The Bridge to Nowhere
For my "service" I received a paltry one hundred Septims. True, it isn't really a small amount, but I was negotiating in the thousands when I was selling the Daedric armor. Larrius expressed his regret that I could not bring the bandit, Fjol, back alive, but immediately followed up with stating it wasn't that big of an issue either way. Callousness does one well in Morrowind and this comes from a Khajiit who killed an unsuspecting drunk for money today.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Morrowind Day 10 - The Machinations of Ajira

25 Last Seed
My first task after I had breakfast was to sell the Sugar I had taken off of the smugglers' ship in Ebonheart. With nearly forty bags of the vile stuff, I hoped that I could sell them all between Ra'Virr and Ajira. Unfortunately, Ra'Virr had not yet finished moving the previous stock I sold to him, so he only had money enough for a few bags. 

Ajira had not been awake yet when I had gotten up, but she was up and at her laboratory when I came back from Ra'Virr's. The gift of the mushrooms she requested was very much appreciated and I was unexpectedly rewarded with several healing potions. She asked if I could place a soul gem in the desk of the Enchanter upstairs, Galbedir. The two of them have a friendly rivalry going and the gem, which I did place on her desk as requested, was actually a piece of glass. It is Ajira's hope that Galbedir will unknowingly waste her time experimenting with the inert glass gem. The task seemed harmless enough and I'm sure Galbedir will realize her error soon enough.

Returning to Ajira after this small, amusing deed, she announced that she now needed me to collect flowers for her, similar to the mushroom collection she had requested. She requested Gold Kanet, Stoneflower, Willow Antler, and Heather. Of the four, I already had three of them, lacking only the Stoneflower petals. I left what I had with Ajira and promised to return with the petals. In exchange, she purchased the remainder of the Moon Sugar for nearly nine hundred Septims. 

Ajira recommended that I look for the Stoneflower Petals near Lake Amaya near Pelagiad. I did not want to go that far for mere flowers, but a fruitless visit to the Balmora alchemist left me little choice. By the time I got back to the Mages Guild with the petals it was already late afternoon and I knew I wasn't returning to Vivec today. The reward was worth it for someone of such limited skill at magicka as myself: six potions of energy restoration. With these I might be able to actually cast something successfully. Probably after using up all six potions.

Ajira started energetically flinging flowers and mushrooms all over her desk, intent on creating some sort of potion, when she accidently elbowed one of her bowls off her desk. The ceramic bowl had no chance against the polished stone floor of the guild and shattered into dozens of pieces. She didn't pause in her work, sweeping the broken pottery underneath her desk with her foot and slapping a handful of coins on the desk with a request for me to run to Ra'Virr's and buy another bowl. She was engrossed in whatever she was doing and my acceptance of this task seemed to go without saying, so I grabbed the money and left.

Ra'Virr greeted me like a long-lost friend, lamenting that he still didn't have enough money to purchase the rest of my Sugar. This did not come as a surprise, it had only been fifteen minutes or so since I had last set foot in his shop. Though he strikes me as an odd character, his goods are what he says they are and befriending a merchant of somewhat shady means in one of the largest towns on Vvardenfell will certainly pay off in the future.

His pleasure at finally selling me something makes me suspect he has similar thoughts about a Khajiit that walks into his shop loaded with pounds of valuable, illicit goods. Acquiring the bowl was a matter barely worth noting and I left him enjoining that I return soon, when he has more money.

I returned to the Mages Guild, expecting that I could finally be free of Ajira's tasks and go back to Vivec, but I heard her hissing and muttering as soon as I walked into the basement. The Guild Guide, Masalinie, had retreated into the sleeping area, waiting out Ajira's temper with the bored patience of someone who has obviously been through it before.

The cause of Ajira's agitation was the sudden disappearance of her reports on the mushrooms and flowers I had collected for her. I set the bowl on her table, certain that I'd become involved in this sudden calamity. Ajira was certain that Galbedir had stolen the reports so that she couldn't hand them into Ranis on time. I suspect that Galbedir realized the truth of the fake soul gem sooner than Ajira had planned on and took a small revenge of her own.

Masalinie wound up being an unexpected source of assistance. She admitted to seeing Galbedir rustling around Ajira's laboratory as she was returning to her Guild Guide post earlier. Galbedir had fled with several scrolls tucked underneath an arm and Masalinie saw her ditch one of them in the sleeping quarters. 

She didn't hide it very well, I spotted the scroll almost immediately, it having been lazily thrown between two dressers. The contents of the scroll was far more amusing though. Ajira has written her reports to make it sound like she went out and collected her requirements, but anyone reading them who has been outside of Balmora for more than an hour will realize this was not the case. The report on the flowers was the one in the sleeping area and Ajira, to her credit, did present a very good report on the actual flowers. I thought her last paragraph classifying Lake Amaya as dangerous was amusingly self-serving and she could not help but point out that she had to do two reports to Galbedir's one.

I found the other report quickly, courtesy again of the other members of the Mages Guild. Marayn Dren, quiet as most Dunmer are, told me that he saw Galbedir carrying a scroll upstairs, but until now did not connect it with the disappearence of Ajira's reports. The second scroll was hidden a little better, tucked between the barrels at the foot of the staircase leading to Galbedir's workshop. This report, the one on mushrooms, was again very well done academically. It is obvious that Ajira is a competent Alchemist, but the final paragraph proudly stated that Ajira worked very hard traveling all over the Bitter Coast for these mushrooms and that she deserved to be promoted ahead of Galbedir because of it. I like Ajira, but I wonder who she thinks she is fooling. Ranis no doubt knows that Ajira never left the Mages Guild. 

I suppose it isn't really my concern. Having secured both scrolls, I returned them to Ajira, who gleefully handed over several very powerful potions, three of which are elemental shielding against fire, frost, and lightning. Two of them are equally powerful magicka absorption vials, which will be a massive help against any spellcasters.  While Ajira is competent, these potions seemed a bit beyond the skill level I have witnessed. The glass vials bear the maker's mark of the College of Winterhold in Skyrim, though whether the concoctions within also hail from the North is a question probably best left unanswered.

Ajira has no more duties for me at the time, once (if) I attained the rank of Warlock she will have additional tasks that she hinted may be a bit outside normal Mage Guild assignments. Whether I wind up climbing the ranks of the Mages Guild remains to be seen. Ajira suggested I see Edwinna Elbert in Ald'ruhn for more assignments, she expressed a slight dislike of Ranis, her method of leadership are not to Ajira's taste.

My involvement with the machinations of Ajira and Galbedir have not gone unnoticed by Ranis and I have been promoted a single rank, to Apprentice. Ranis stated I qualify for Ajira's coveted rank of Journeyman, but my magicka skills are so weak that it would be an embarrassment on her part. I don't much care really, though it does drive the point home that I need to work on my magicka skills. 

I spent the remainder of the evening studying alchemy with Ajira, who was more than happy to accept my money in exchange for lessons in the preparation of flowers and mushrooms. I retired to bed late in the evening, having learned quite a bit from Ajira, whom I count now as a friend, my first on Vvardenfell.

I absolutely need to go back to Vivec tomorrow and collect my treasures presently rusting in the sewers. Rats are not the only scavengers prowling within the dark corners of Vivec and I am loathe to leave the armor there one more day, should it remain there even now.