I once heard a bard in the Imperial City complain that money could not buy love. I do not know what sort of love he was looking for, but I suppose he is right. Wealth is quite literally sitting around waiting to be taken in Morrowind, but I still wake up with a cavern over my head. If I run into the bard again, I will have to make sure I correct him: money can neither buy love nor a roof over one's head on this island. Money can buy just about everything else in Morrowind though, including loyalty.
A heavy dust storm greeted me as I stumbled out of my cave dwelling and I had the misfortune of trying to locate a small cave in the middle of a dust storm. Reaching Lake Nabia provided no relief, for the dust manages to float along the top of the water, at least for a short while, creating a layer of grime that deterred me from attempting a quick wash.
To add more to my misery, the flying creatures which normally left me alone were quite vicious and suffering no apparent defect in vision due to the storm. The only prelude to their attacks was a loud screech and a sharp beak or talons scraping across my helmet. My bow was useless in the strong winds, so I had no choice but to stay alert, wildly stabbing the sky with my spear as soon as I heard the screeching. I missed often and suffered their raking attacks, but I did manage to kill one in this manner. Once engaged they fall quickly and all of them that attacked me had growths on their bodies, an affliction perhaps gained from time spent roosting on the Red Mountain.
It was a relief when I found the weather-beaten door to the former mine of Punabi. Manwe met me a little ways inside, clearly there to prevent me from going any further, not that I had any reason to. I was only there to collect some money and I was able to leave it at that. She was not cooperative though, telling me that she left the Mages Guild and was therefore not responsible for any money, suggesting that I pay Ranis myself.
|The barely visible door into Punabi|
The point was not that I easily could pay Ranis myself, it was that I killed several smugglers on my way to see her and walked all morning in absolutely miserable weather to find her, only to receive the suggestion that I should have stayed nice and dust-free at the Guild and paid Ranis out of my own pocket. I remembered Ranis's willingness to accept the woman's death and really almost took that option. But I wanted to be able to tell myself I tried not to if it came to it, so I threatened her with imminent death instead.
My threat was not stated that crudely, of course. I simply pointed out that I had spent all morning in the dust storm being attacked by diseased creatures and that on my way here I had stumbled upon a den of smugglers and killed them all before spending the night on one of their cots, all of it in an effort to clear up this misunderstanding between Manwe and the Mages Guild. Still maintaining what I hoped came across as a friendly tone of voice, I told Manwe that while Ranis was looking forward to receiving the money, a report of her death was also acceptable.
The last part did the trick. I do not know what sort of relationship exists between Manwe and Ranis, but Manwe shuddered and muttered something while handing me a sack of coins from inside her robes. I made a show of not counting them, but I am sure all parties involved know that Ranis would send me back to kill Manwe if she tried to cheat her way out of the situation. Having received the money, I smiled, wished her good fortune with her studies, and walked out of Punabi, right back into the dust storm.
|Marandus across Lake Nabia|
The Dunmer fortress Marandus loomed across the lake, its squat roof just barely visible in the storm. I anticipated that it would be occupied by hostile creatures or people, but the fortresses' Propylon chambers have so far been unoccupied and a safe place to wait out the storm for a short time.
Declining to spend more time getting covered in dust and dirt, I walked across the lake and was surprised to find an armored Dunmer loitering outside of the main doors into the fort. Seeing me, he waved and approached with his sword sheathed. He was suspicious of me at first, but relaxed when I told him I was in the area on Imperial guild business. He invited me to use the Propylon chamber for shelter and I asked him why he was standing in the storm instead of finding shelter himself. He introduced himself as Tevyn Athin of House Redoran and told me quite a story.
He was actually standing guard over the fortress entrance, along with a few of his comrades stranded on the fortress roof. He was part of a Redoran expedition out of Vivec tasked with clearing out the fortress and reclaiming it for the House.The first part went well enough, the fortress was inhabited by smugglers whom were no match for the Redoran warriors and the expedition occupied the fortress quickly.
However, treachery struck from within and a large number of House retainers rebelled as one, battling the now outnumbered retainers who were not included in the plan. A small number of loyal warriors battled their way out of the fortress, while the rest of them were driven to the roof, where they remained. The group Tevyn had been with was heading back to Vivec to gather reinforcements, leaving him behind to guard the front gate.
His manner was stiff, but not hostile, so I spoke with him about his House for a bit, mentioning that a few people had suggested I talk to someone about admission, which interested him. He asked me what I did and where I had been, but those are difficult questions for me to answer right now. I settled for telling him I am a former mercenary, now a freelance adventurer. When he commented that I looked young for a mercenary, I replied that I never said I did it for long, which actually got a laugh from him. He encouraged me to join his House, a recommendation I seem to be receiving with increasing frequency. I asked him if he would mind if I ventured inside to test my skills against the rogue Redoran. He had no issues with it and asked if I could let the men trapped on the roof know of their impending rescue, since he could not make himself heard over the howl of the storm. I guess he thought I would be sneaking my way past the rebels, but I wound up becoming the "impending rescue".
The rebels themselves, like the smugglers, do not bear much mentioning. After hearing about the martial prowess of the House Redoran warriors I was excited to finally be facing them in battle. Luck was not with me in that regard, nor with them. The rebels were all recent recruits, maybe convinced that the House would somehow judge them not worth the time and ignore them. The proximity of the fortress to the city of Vivec makes that nearly impossible and I have no idea what they were thinking.
Inexperienced, they spread themselves out among the rooms and corridors of the fortress, diluting their advantage in numbers. At no time did I ever find myself up against more than two foes at a time and I killed the ones on their own invisibly and quickly.
The combat was not worth it and neither was the loot: just a single glass dagger, a chunk of raw ebony, an emerald, and a sum of about two hundred Septims, gathered in tens and twenties throughout the place. I did find an apparent worship book of the Sixth House, which titled Dagoth Ur the 'Sharmat', whatever that is. The book itself is titled 'Sithis' and contains only a few paragraphs. I plan on giving it to my friend next time I see him.
The men stuck on the roof were very surprised to see me and I suspect that if I was a Dunmer I would have been killed before I could announce myself as a friend. As it was, their expedition contained no Khajiit, so my presence demanded explanation, possibly followed by death. But when I informed them that additional Redoran were on their way from Vivec and that I had cleared their way through the fortress, they became quite friendly. They left the roof immediately and one of them handed me a key to a dome hut atop the roof, so far unique among the Dunmer fortresses. I wonder why they did not take shelter there instead of standing in the open collecting dust and dirt.
The dome was obviously someone's home at some point, containing a bed, two chests (empty) and a dresser. Once I get the Propylon Index, it may be a good place to live, provided House Redoran has not taken over the fortress by then. With nothing else to do there, I left the fortress and walked across the lake to stand in front of Punabi again. According to Ranis's directions, the man whom I was supposed to convince to join the Guild lived along the same road as the cave. It was about two minutes away from Punabi, but I had failed to see it in the storm earlier this morning. I had left the fortress in the late afternoon and the storm was still going strong, but by then the setting sun provided slightly better visibility.
The small tower of Sulipund was open to visitors and I had to only knock on the door to be let in. I was a bit surprised to be greeted by a young Bosmer instead of the Dunmer I had expected, but she, as well as the others in the tower, was a House Telvanni retainer and a minor mage herself. Unsurprisingly, the four House Telvanni retainers were an unfriendly lot, demanding to be left alone to their own business, just as their master allowed. Their master was Llarar Bereloth, the man I was supposed to convince to join the Guild. I thought it would be a difficult task, but if it came to it I was permitted to kill him too.
It never came to that. He was low-ranking in House Telvanni and I suspect he only joined for the discount on magical services. He cared neither for the House nor the Mages Guild and snapped at me to give him a reason to listen when I asked him to join the Guild. 'Reason' came in the form of Septims whose weight I was eager to be rid of, in this case one thousand of them. The money changed hands and he agreed to join the Guild if I left him in peace to pursue his work, promising to talk to Ranis next time he was in Balmora. I suspect if he does not I shall be paying him another visit. There was no point in walking back to Balmora, so I expended a scroll of Divine Intervention which sent me from the tower of Sulipund to the Imperial Fort of Moonmoth which was lucky: I was expecting Ebonheart.
Ranis was pleased that I had succeeded, stating that I was the first member to get Manwe to pay her 'dues', whatever the true reason for them was. That I also managed to convince Llarar to join the Guild was even better. She gave me four powerful magicka restoration potions for my efforts and promoted me to the title of Evoker, which I am sure will not be going to my head.
I sold some empty soul gems and scrolls to Galbedir and gems to Ajira before turning in for the night. It is now just before midnight and I am quite exhausted. I may resume my quest for the Propylon Stones tomorrow.