Woke up at the Six Fishes at my normal time this morning and braved the placid, slow seas of Morrowind once again, this time on my way to Khuul to see about the witch Kaye assigned me to.
Trips via boat are already hardly worth mentioning at this point. A boat from Ebonheart to Hla Oad: five hours. Hla Oad to Gnaar Mok: four hours. Gnaar Mok to Khuul: seven hours. Sixteen hours on small, nearly flat-bottomed skiffs, with a polite, but quiet Dunmer my only company on every leg of the journey.
I write this now: Today is the last day Kerra steps upon any sea-going vessel of any kind. If I have to somewhere unreachable by magicka, I'm walking.
A Khajiit immediately offered to send me to the Imperial Fort of Frostmoth on Solstheim as I stepped on to the docks of Khuul. I'm not sure why any Khajiit would want to go there, we're hardly the type for cold living. He had a bit to say about the local egg mine, Asha-Ahhe. He had heard rumors that the miners were hearing mysterious voices and seeing ghosts. I had no desire to spend the night at Khuul, wasting another day on sea travel, so I purchased the location of the mine from him for a few Septims, determined to take care of the issue tonight.
I stopped in the local tradehouse to see if I could find out more about the mine, but the inhabitants are a droll lot. A Khajiit by the enviable name of Shotherra suggested that if I was looking for civilization, I'd do better to walk along the coast to the west, where House Redoran funds a small outpost with an inn. I do wonder how places like Hla Oad, Gnaar Mok, and Khuul remain in existence since most of the people I talk to in these places seem only to want to leave.
The mine was a little bit of a walk from the dismal village, but close enough that anything potentially hostile kept its distance, so the walk was without incident. I expected the miners to share the same disregard for visitors as the villagers, but they were surprisingly affable even before I revealed why I was there. The oldest among them told me he had tried to find the source of the voices they kept hearing, but did not get very far before his nerve failed him. He felt there was an evil presence there and refused to go back there for any reason.
I never found out what the evil presence was, but I did find two Dunmer and a Nord, the three of which did they meager best to kill me. Or rather one Dunmer and the Nord tried to kill me. I heard them talking among themselves as I was making my way towards the lake and with the help of my Invisibility spell managed to get one shot off with my bow. The "witch" wasn't hard to pick out of the trio, as she was the only female there. If she wasn't, the expensive clothing she was wearing would have marked her as my target anyway. I shot her to dispel what protective spells she might have woven about herself, but she had none and the arrow bit into her side.
She yelped, but I had already dropped the bow and was leaping at her as my spell fizzled out. I stabbed her as she was attempting to summon something from the Outer Planes and the force of the blow combined with my physical momentum knocked her off the small ledge the three of them were occupying. The shock of hitting the ground below probably finished her off if my attack did not and that was it for the infamous Witch of Khuul.
The other Dunmer retreated further into the cave, but predictably the Nord drew his sword and charged. As Auxiliaries we're taught that a trained spear-carrier can handle any type of adversary, but I've always been more comfortable going sword-and-shield against foes stronger than myself. It doesn't sound like it makes sense, but I don't see the wisdom in going after a Nord or Orc with a staff of wood topped with an iron point. Granted, my equipment is now several levels above the Imperial standard-issue, but old habits, especially ones centered around survival, die hard.
But an egg mine is not a place experienced fighters (or witches) choose to hide out in and a Nord showing the signs of skooma addiction makes for a strong, but clumsy enemy. He kept his armor in about as good a shape as his body and my sword found little resistance. His sword was done in the Nordic style and possibly hailed from Skyrim judging by the intricate lettering along the blade. It was the only thing of his that did not look like he picked it out of a trash barrel and I left the family heirloom with his body. Should the miners see fit to loot his corpse, let that be on their hands.
The other Dunmer's fate is not nearly as dramatic, though perhaps more fitting. In his retreat, he managed to blunder into the Kwama Queen's nesting area and was killed by her Kwama Warrior guards. The egg miners were not pleased by this, as the Warriors will be more aggressive for awhile, posing a threat to the miners whom the Warriors usually ignore.
I carefully crept by the corridor leading towards the Kwama Queen's chamber and found the lake where the "evil presence" was said to reside. I was expecting something like a ghost or skeleton, some left-over from the witch's experiments, but the small lake area was quiet and rather peaceful.
The miners were relieved to hear that the witch was dead. In their minds, she seemed a mighty sorceress, bent on twisting their souls and bodies to her own means. In reality, she was an Imperial Cult reject and never got a spell off, dying on the damp stone of the cave, just like the smugglers I've dispatched.
It was already late in the evening, so I used a scroll of Divine Intervention to move myself to Fort Darius in Gnisis. I didn't visit the Fort and instead went straight for the Tradehouse for some much needed sleep. The publican, Fenas Madach, told me I looked the "adventuring type" and confided that two guests of his the previous day had mentioned a cave along the coast they were using for smuggling. Maybe I'll look into it. Maybe I won't.
It's now about two in the morning and I'm barely keeping my eyes open any longer. I have to go back to Caldera at some point and return Nedhelas's basement key to him. I also want to speak to someone at the Mages Guild about learning some useful traveling spells. I also need to find a place to actually live. So much to do, never enough time, it seems, to do any of it.