Having climbed onto (into?) the Khuul silt strider at just after midnight, I arrived at Ald'Ruhn fairly late: seven in the morning, according to the Ald'Ruhn Caravaner. I had gotten a few hours of sleep during the trip, but the constant jostling ensured it wasn't very restful, though the movement did not wake me in the slightest.
My headache was still terribly painful and on a whim I drank a concoction designed to cure the most common diseases, hoping that it would at least reduce the pain. To my relief, the headache went away entirely after the drinking the ten Septim potion. Whatever affliction I had contracted was cured, though I have no idea what I had. While I was paging through his catalog of spells, Orrent Geontene at the Mages Guild suggested Witbane, but I guess it doesn't matter so long as whatever it was is gone. I purchased a Silence and Slowfall spell from him, both rather weak. The spell of silencing would only give me five seconds of reprieve, but against a mage that may be enough of an advantage. Similarly, the Slowfall spell only lasts ten seconds, but ten seconds is a long time to fall.
The Ald'Ruhn alchemist, Anarenen, did not have a lot of money to spend on my ingrediants and he would only accept two Daedra Hearts for a total of three hundred Septims. I knew my usual customer would be willing to reach into the Guild's budget a little deeper and Ajira did not disappoint. She bought seven of my nine bottles of Skooma in exchange for 760 Septims and a high-quality mortar & pestle. She also mentioned that Ra'Virr and Nalcarya of White Haven would be interested in what goods I had remaining. Before visiting them, I checked on Galbedir to see if she had succeeded in identifying the ring I had found near Gnisis.
She had, and when I asked her about she started babbling so fast as to be nearly incomprehensible and I got her to slow down after a she stopped to take a breath. According to the excitable Elf, the ring "just had to be" an artifact by the name of Denstagmer's Ring, based on the three elemental shields enchanted to provide constant protection when the ring is worn. She could not tell me who Denstagmer was, nor why the ring was in an ash urn. I think she is mistaken and so does Ranis, whom Galbedir had spoken to in an effort to receive permission to utilize enough of the Guild's budget to purchase the ring from me. Say what you will about the Mages Guild's internal bickering, they are a more honest group than most. She had gotten no money from Ranis and I refused to sell the ring, partly due to thinking she was mistaken about what she thought she was buying, but also because the ring is valuable to me. A constant shielding from elemental attacks is extremely useful, especially for an adventurer with fur.
I placated her by purchasing a dozen scrolls, most of them of healing, others of protection or teleportation. The healing scrolls were a lot more expensive than potions would have been. I really need to work on my alchemy and given that I purchased a high-quality pestle today, I have no excuse not to. I asked Galbedir if she knew of anyone interested in Dwemer coins, as I was still carrying around a small pouch of the small, heavy things and it turns out that she was, which surprised me. She paid 500 Septims for all of the coins, making it so that we broke even between our mutual purchases.
I still had a great deal of physical equipment to sell and I wanted to find out about receiving training with the Dreugh club or staff, so I visited the Balmora Fighters Guild next door. On my way out Ranis spoke to me about Galbedir and the ring, sharing my opinion that such a rare artifact would not be found in Morrowind at all and congratulated me on my find of the powerful, though generic, enchanted ring.
The members of the Fighters Guild are a brusque bunch, though not unfriendly. Their resident Smith, a Redguard named Wayn, had quite a collection of weapons for sale. I traded my Admantium shield, a long bow, and all my iron-tipped arrows in exchange for one hundred silver arrows, one hundred steel-tipped arrows, and astonishingly: two thousand Septims. After the exchange he told me he had received a special commission from an unnamed client for a full suit of Admantium and was now only missing the helm. I wished him luck, for I have never seen one either. He commented favorably on the Dreugh armor, noting that it is an uncommon choice, most adventurers wearing either Imperial chain or Bonemold and suggested I visit Meldor the Armorer across the street to buy a Dreugh shield.
He offered a discount on training if I brought him the Admantium helmet and through that conversation I learned that he occasionally serves as an instructor to the local Legion at Fort Moonmoth. He offered to teach me how to use the club and staff more effectively, but his price is steep.
Ra'Virr was not as loose with the purse strings as Ajira had been, but still bought my last two bottles of Skooma for a total of 600 Septims, but Nalcarya had no qualms about spending money. She bought all of the potions I wanted to be rid of and all of the alchemical ingredients I wanted to sell, spending over three thousand Septims without a hint of hesitation on vampire dust, daedra hearts, and three handfuls of gemstones. I wonder how many of the gems will end up on her person instead of in her potions.
Having emptied my inventory of armor and ingredients, I entered Meldor's shop and exchanged two Glass daggers for the Dreugh shield, which is evidently designed to resemble a spiky, chitinous fist. Wide at the top, it tapers down slightly, but instead of coming to a point as an Imperial shield might, it simply tops as if the shield had been cut width-wise in half, and two large tusks are inserted into the bottom. A sideways blow from the shield would likely find a foe's head stuck to it. Fearsome, but at the same time a little silly looking.
My last bit of business was the Propylon stone I had purchased from the Ashlanders. Folms received it with the same showering of coin and sputtering of orders that he had the previous stones and marked the next stone, the Indoranyon Index, as the property of a Divayth Fyr, a Telvanni wizard residing in Tel Fyr. Having to deal with a Telvanni, and a wizard at that, fills me with no great cheer. I may take a small break from Index Stones for awhile.
With that concluded, I spent the remainder of the day in Balmora, visiting various people. The Argonian, Nine-Toes, is in the process of drawing a map of the entire province, a task which he gladly accepted my help with. I was able to accurately describe the walk from Molag Mar to Khuul and the Ashlander Camp, which he illustrated on a giant piece of parchment. I'll be sure to set aside time for him when I'm in Balmora as my journey continues to take me into unknown lands. We spoke briefly of my looking for a teacher to train with the staff and club and he offered to teach me what he knew, which was Illusion magic and sneaking about. I confessed that I was the worst sneak-about Khajiit in Tamriel, which he thought amusing. He suggested I visit our friend Rithleen about physical training.
Rithleen was not much help. She described herself as a "mere courier" and professed to not know much about the current events of Morrowind. Dressed in full Bonemold armor, she looked more than just a courier, but I did not press her for details. When asked, she replied that she would be happy to teach me the ways of the sword, shield, or Bonemold armor, not one of which interested me.
I walked around Balmora for a little while, enjoying not the certainty of not having to fight something for the first time in several days. Returning to Nine-Toes just after a quick lunch at the Eight Plates, I paid him for eight hours of Illusion training and we worked well into the night practicing my spells and criticizing my incantations. The sun had long set by the time we had finished, but I felt I had made good progress. I thanked him and promised to return next time with information for his map.
Now I'm lying in my usual bunk in the Mages Guild, cleaner and more refreshed than I've been in several days. I plan on spending a few more days in Balmora while I work on improving my skills.