15 Frost Fall
The Zainab wise-woman, Sonummu Zabamat, was amused to hear of Kaushad's second request. She stated what I already suspected: No Telvanni would ever marry an Ashlander. Sonummu's plan to work around that issue was to go to the Telvanni tower/town of Tel Aruhn where a friend of hers, Savile Imayn, managed the slave trading there. Savile would likely have a Dunmer girl who could pose as a high-born Telvanni lady and all I needed to do was purchase the slave girl and bring her back to the Zainab grounds.
I found the plan distasteful for several reasons, the primary one being that I am a Khajiit in Morrowind and have seen enough of my own enslaved that the thought of buying someone else is rather abhorrent. My other objection was far more practical: there is a lot of water between Tel Aruhn and I doubted the girl would be able to walk atop it as I can. I could use scrolls to get me to Wolverine Hall near Sadrith Mora, but I would have to escort the girl, if I found one, back to the camp, probably partially via boat. Still, I never really had a choice.
The Divine Intervention scroll brought me to the door of the Imperial Chapel in Wolverine Hall and I hopped off the parapet onto the water below. The walk was a short one and the Telvanni mushroom town had many services that did not mind doing business with an outlander. I bought a great deal of repair equipment for my chitin weapons and spent most of the morning heating resin and replacing the chitin barbs that make up my spear.
Savile Imayn was easy to find and started greeting me as soon as she saw me heading towards her...which was still quite some distance away. She was an enthusiastic seller and promised that she had the perfect slave for me. I almost asked her how many Khajiit usually came to her to buy slaves, but I held my tongue. She rattled off a list of names and the crimes they had committed to warrant their slavery, but while one was Khajiit, none of them were the female Dunmer that I was told to purchase. I asked about the Khajiit male and Savile shrugged and told me I was probably only interested in freeing him, which was my right if I bought him. That was my intent, so I gave her the money and met the slave in a nearby underground cell. He made quite a rude suggestion upon seeing me but I ignored him and unlocked his shackles, leaving him free to go whenever he pleased.
Somewhat dejected and lost as to where to go next, I asked Savile if she knew where I could find a female Dunmer that would be able and willing to pose as a high-born Telvanni lady so that she could marry the haughty Zainab ashkhan. I expected to be told that, yes, there is a lady matching your description but she is on the other side of Morrowind. However luck was with me: Savile had "acquired" a young Dunmer lady from a family who sold her to cover their debts. The act seemed deplorable, but Savile assured me that people sold into slavery were treated well and contractually limited to desirable, safe lives. I wondered about the validity of such a statement, but Savile was willing to help me make the arrangement work.
The arrangement was only to find specific items of clothing for the lady to wear, for naturally a high-born lady would only have the very best. Also naturally: Tel Aruhn had no such clothing. Savile recommended Tel Mora, a Telvanni town very close to the Ahemmusa tribal camp. She assured me that the trip via boat was safe and quick, but that was simply not happening for me. I thanked her and prepared for a long walk back to the northern coast.
The trek was certainly interesting. Along the coast there is an abandoned Dunmer fortress of very unusual or perhaps unfinished construction. A sole Altmer cultist was guarding the entrance, along with a simple ghost and somewhat less simple Daedroth.
A note was stuck on the doorway with a dagger, warning someone named 'Telvon' not to enter due to some sort of enchantment within the fortress. Of course, I now had to find out what sort of enchantment this unknown person had encountered, but the only clue he or she gave was that the only way they were able to get out is due to a Recall spell they had cast just outside. Reasoning that there had to be some other way out if cultists had occupied the place, I opened the door and stepped through.
...only to discover once I was inside that behind me was a featureless wall of stone where the door had been. Strange. The interior of the fortress was almost entirely unfinished and it appeared that cultists had been using the fortress as a shrine for a long time, going so far as to drag stones from Daedric ruins into the fortress to form a crude sort of mini-fortress within the fortress.
The cultists all fell quickly, most of them to my bow and there was nothing interesting to take other than a ring strongly enchanted with a Restoration spell I was unable to identify. Predictably the other side of the fortress had a door that opened up exactly outside the door I had entered by. I admit I cannot see the utility in this arrangement other than as a trap, but the fortress is remote enough that I doubt it was ever effective at all. Quite a mystery.
I arrived at Tel Mora just as the sun fell below the horizon and immediately sought out the clothier Savile had instructed me to. Enough time had been wasted at the Dunmer fortress that I felt no desire to wander Tel Mora, even if the clothier described it as the most outlander-friendly Telvanni town in Morrowind. My last scroll of Divine Intervention fortunately zapped me back to Wolverine Hall and I was able to hand the clothes over to Savile before she closed her business for the night.
This led to her second request: Bug Musk to reduce Kaushad's resistance to the lady's charm. This at least could be found in Tel Aruhn, much to my relief. When I returned with the flask of perfume, Savile insisted that I give it to the slave directly...after I bought her. She asked for twelve hundred Septims and I am sure I could have bargained her down a bit, but I was tired and being named the Zainab Nerevarine was certainly worth her asking price. I was given the key to the girl's cage and we each wished the the other a good night.
As for the girl, I had and still have no idea how to talk to her. I am certainly unaccustomed to being the owner of anyone and though the girl seems excited about her new life I cannot help but feel a little guilty about forcing her path like this. For now I have paid for separate lodgings for the two of us at the local tradehouse and tomorrow we will arrive at the Zainab camp, where I shall hopefully be named Nerevarine.