Thursday, May 2, 2013

Morrowind Day 45 - The Archer's Lonesome Death

29 Hearthfire
I had another dream last night, though this one was a great deal less...physical, I guess I could say. In it, I stood alone on a hill somewhere in Vvardenfell, overlooking a green plain with farms and foraging creatures dotting the landscape. As I surveyed the landscape, a voice spoke up behind me, but I did not turn around. 

"Three lied to you", the voice said, "Three betrayed you, but the one you betrayed was three times true! Lord Voryn Dagoth, Dagoth Ur, steadfast liege-man  faithful friend, bids you come below to Red Mountain once again, shed your flesh and be born again to purge Morrowind of the n'wah!"

At least he is not being subtle any longer. I woke up after the talking stopped and never once turned around or spoke in the dream. I would be tempted to ask if the faceless monsters and shambling mountains of misshapen flesh are his plans for the future of Morrowind and the Dunmer. I suspect my friend and Dagoth Ur share the belief that I may be able to become the Nerevarine. I do not harbor such a delusion for myself.

Folm's latest request will put me close to Maar Gan, on the opposite side of the hills, as well as fairly close to the last known location of Hassour's son. I had hoped to take care of both tasks, but fetching the Propylon stone took up my entire day as I battled Daedra and cultists to fetch a piece of rock.
The day was nicer than most, which in Vvardenfell generally means dull, hazy weather. The walk from Ald'ruhn was uneventful save for the few shots I took at Nix-Hounds with my bow. The shrine of Maelkashishi was said to sit right against the foyoda, so I carefully kept on top of the hills until I spotted the shrine, then slid down the hillside so that I could make a cautious approach. For the most part the shrine was guarded by simple Scamps whom posed no threat, but I also encountered a Daedra I had not seen before.
I am at a loss to describe the creature other than being ash-colored, with long, thin limbs with very long, almost skeletal, fingers. The creature attacked first with spells that chipped away at my spear and cracked my armor before closing the distance to strike at me with its arms. Fortunately, the damage to my equipment was mostly cosmetic and the creature barely had an animal's cunning for battle. A group of them casting their spells could leave a person's armaments severely weakened and their chances of survival quite slim. Had I encountered this Daedra while I was still hefting my simple iron spear and chainmail tunic, I am sure I would have been killed.

After some time of searching about, I was forced to conclude Folm's outlander, Huunen, had not been killed outside of the shrine, which meant going inside. While the treasure is almost always worth the effort, I have faced some of my most difficult opponents inside of the ruined shrines and treasure does nothing good for a dead Khajiit.

 The obvious entrance into the shrine led to a Daedric altar with four cultists wandering about. My invisibility-paralysis trick worked on three of them, but the final cultist, an Orc, resisted the paralysis and spun around to attack me. However, she seemed unsteady and in comparison to most Orcs, barely put up a fight. One of the cultists had an Imperial silver cuirass, perhaps a former officer of the Legion or the killer of one.

The loot was pretty disappointing: some scrolls, a charged soul gem, a few gemstones, and no sign of the Propylon stone. I could see that the statue of Sheogorath rose above the ceiling and into the floor above me, but I had no levitation potions or scrolls to get myself up there. I left the shrine and hiked up the hill it was set against and my scout instinct paid off: The tower of the Daedric shrine was part of the center fixture for the statue and had a separate entrance. I had to jump from the hillside on to the tower, suffering nothing worse than a few scrapes.

The tower entrance opened into the hillside itself and I found myself on a platform several stories high, with more platforms above and below me. I could not see what was above me, but one of the winged female Daedra I encountered in Berandas was pacing around on the lower platform. While shooting her with silvered arrows I discovered that despite the wings, they cannot fly and she fell after five shots.
While I had no ability to levitate, I did have a Slowfall spell. I had never used it before and the sensation of slowly drifting towards the ground while my mind was insisting I should be plummeting to my death was interesting. Similar to levitation, I was able to guide my descent and landed on a small platform high enough that I would be safe from enemies on the ground and low enough that I could jump down without a second spell.

This proved to be wise, as I could spot another one of the equipment-damaging Daedra sulking nearby which had not noticed my arrival. Being on the platform meant I was an easy target for its spells, so I hopped down on the side opposite the creature and used a scroll of Invisibility I had taken from the shrine. The scroll allowed me to sneak up behind the foul-smelling creature and run it through with my spear.
Beyond the creature lurked another one of the winged female Daedra, but she needed a lot of room to maneuver about and the ruins served to keep her contained and clumsy. I took advantage of this with my nimble sword and shield, striking before she could move to bring her barbed tail against me. 

She had been guarding a chest containing a few pearls and emeralds, plus two weak potions of levitation. The ground floor of the cave exited in to the very top of the shrine, where I was attacked by an Imperial, who managed to suffer a "fall" into the shrine below during our brief struggle. I assumed the Propylon stone, if it was here at all, would be on his body, but I decided to leave the way I came in, just in case I had missed anything while drifting down from the entrance.

This choice saved me a great deal of frustration. I reached the ledge I had entered by and was just about to walk out when I noticed two Daedric arrows stuck into a pillar.
The arrows were not stuck straight in, but at a steep angle as if someone had fired them from above. I drank the second levitation potion after collecting the two arrows in the pillar, plus another lying on the ground nearby. I floated up to the only platform above the entrance way and found what must be Huunen's final resting place.

Completely clean and dry, the skeleton was slumped against the cavern wall looking as though it had been there for centuries. At the skeletal feel was two potent levitation potions, eight more Daedric arrows, and a chest containing nothing of notice.

The Propylon stone was near his corpse, but of more importantly, so was an incredibly rare Daedric-enchanted glass longbow. Unlike the spear, the bow is definitely not too heavy a burden for the benefit and I carefully slid it away from Huunen. Hopefully I will have better luck than its previous owner.

But it does raise questions. The man was seen alive fairly recently and had not only a powerful Daedric bow, but a sheaf of very rare Daedric arrows. He had levitation potions enough to get him up to and down from the platform and he was in no danger where he was. Yet despite his precautions and equipment, he was killed. My only guess is that one of the Daedra managed to poison him and he fled to the platform in desperation. But that makes little sense either, for the exit to go outside was closer at any point within the cavern than where I found him. And why shoot the arrows into the rock? Only Huunen knows, but Vvardenfell has turned him into yet another mystery.

Unlike Huunen, I had a Divine Intervention scroll and popped into Gnisis well after the evening had begun. The quickest way to a Mages Guild was Silt Strider and I suffered the trip so that I could be one step closer to finishing my business with Folms that much faster. The Strider stopped at Ald'ruhn some time after midnight and I stumbled into the Mages Guild and collapsed into the nearest bunk.

It is only from habit that I have the energy to write this before sleep claims me, though I have had worse days than this, but certainly none as bad as Huunen had.

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