I do not think I will ever get used to the sight of the rock Baar Dau hovering over the Temple canton of Vivec. Ringed by construction, it is obvious that the Tribunal Temple considers it safe enough to live within, but I'm uneasy when I can see it and profoundly nervous when I am under it, as I was this morning.
My third contact was a priestess in service to the Temple, Mehra Milo, and my written orders cautioned me to not ask anyone in the Temple for her, as her cooperation with the Imperial throne was unknown within her organization. Fortunately, she worked in the Library, which is open to the public, and I had no issues with finding her.
Identifying myself, she played every part the spy: beckoning me to follow, she led me to a small room in the rear of the library so that we could talk privately. In what was by then a familiar introduction, she apologized for not knowing much about the Sixth House, but did have many notes on the cult of the Nerevarine. According to her, the Temple does not dispute Lord Nerevar's status as a saint and hero of the Dunmer, but does take exception to the belief of Lord Nerevar's reincarnation, which is in conflict with the Temple's worship of the Tribunal as gods. A splinter faction calling themselves the the Dissident Priests preaches against the Temple's dogma and in favor of something very similar to the traditional Ashland beliefs.
The Dissident Priests' founding document is a book titled 'Progress of Truth', possession of which is outlawed by the Temple. She recommended I secure a copy somehow and deliver it to my friend along with the bundle of notes I have collected, which she added to. Reminded of the caution I was urged by my friend when speaking with Mehra, I asked her about him and she had only praise for the man. I suppose it takes all types or he has yet to warm up to anyone else. She admitted to reading a copy of the 'Progress of Truth' some time ago and said that friends of hers whom she suspects also read the book have been disappearing. She believes the Ordinators are responsible and said that if anything ever happened to her, she would leave a message with the code word 'amaya'. She asked that I convey the increasing vulnerability of her position to our friend and I agreed, though I am not sure what he can do.
Finding the book seemed like a daunting task. The Temple has at least one copy, or did, for Mehra and her friends to have read it, but she could offer me no help in figuring out where such a thing would be kept. With my luck it would be in the floating rock. I dismissed any chance of finding the Temple's copy and did the next best thing: I asked a smuggler.
That's not entirely correct, but Jobasha has to be doing some sort of business on the side to be able to afford the rent on his store, which I'm sure is very high. A book store does not seem to me a very lucrative enterprise, but serves well as a front for any number of other businesses whose goods can be concealed within hollowed tomes.
My hunch proved correct, though getting the book from him took some doing. Smugglers and the people who associate with them are instinctively a suspicious lot and Jobasha was no exception. It took five hundred Septims before he was willing to look into his inventory of "special" books which he kept in a locked closet. He had the book and charged me an additional two hundred Septims for it, but I was glad to be rid of the weight of all that coin.
For all the violence and secrecy surrounding the book, I expected more than what it really is: a thick pamphlet from the Dissident Priests detailing their grievances against the Temple. The entire affair probably deserves to be treated more seriously than I am, but that is my friend's job and not mine. My part in this, for now, was over. I teleported back to the Balmora Mages Guild, sold a few gemstones to Ajira and delivered the book and notes to my friend. He thanked me, gave me two hundred Septims and suggested I wander around a bit more, do some more jobs, then come back. Again he suggested I join House Redoran, but I have enough to do right now without taking on more tasks.
It was the middle of the afternoon when I found myself with free time and Ranis's task of collecting the guild "dues" seemed the easiest accomplished. The tardy mage was last seen in a small cavern named Punabi set along the shore of Lake Nabia, which empties via Nabia River into the greater sea. The Dunmer fortress Marandus is strategically built along the lake's shore opposite Punabi and is a tempting target for a quick peek, though I suppose that can wait until I have the Propylon Stone for it.
I had not left myself enough time to reach Punabi before nightfall and came across another smuggler den on the side of the road. At this point it is a waste of time and ink to describe the battle with the three hapless criminals and it will have to suffice with the assurance that they died and I had survived another battle. As usual they did not have much of value: a few scrolls worth keeping and a chunk of raw ebony.
I am spending the night in their cleanest cot, another violent stop alongside the side of the road in Morrowind. The frequency at which I am killing others is starting to become quite depressing.