Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Morrowind Day 68 - The Failed Assault on Red Mountain

21 Frost Fall
The sky was unusually purple this morning, a nice change from the typical red or orange one sees in Ald'ruhn when the sky is not blocked by clouds. The weather was not only purple, but clear, making a nice change from the dust storms increasingly plaguing the town.

I stopped at the general store in Caldera to restore my stock of silvered arrows before entering Red Mountain. The trader, an Imperial named Verick Gemain, was the same man from whom I bought my very useful (especially today!) amulet of Recall. No one could fault Verick for a lack of variety in his shop: he carries everything from enchanted Dwemer war hammers to simple cups, plates, and everything in-between. This includes silvered and glass arrows, though the latter are too expensive to justify my wildly random skill at the bow. I have had days where every arrow strikes with fatal intent and others when it seems I could not hit the broad side of a Kagouti. It is very frustrating.

The walk from Caldera to Ghostgate is far simpler than it sounds, but I have noticed that the normally docile rats and cliff racers are increasingly becoming hostile, probably suffering the growing effects of living near Red Mountain. While I have only seen simple beasts affected by the Blight disease in this way, it is only a matter of time before the citizens of towns built near the Ghostfence start succumbing to Dagoth Ur's curse.
The view of the Ghostfence just outside of Caldera
The weather miraculously remained clear (and purple) all the way to Ghostgate, where the purple color faded away to clear sky. I activated whatever system it was that raised the first portcullis of Ghostgate and stepped through. The 'switch' arrangement still strikes me as incredibly insecure. Apparently to make the point more obvious, I was attacked by one of the faceless minions of the Sixth House as soon as I crossed the second gate. There was not even enough time to close the gate behind me before the creature started clawing at me, but the faceless creatures are not terribly difficult to overcome. I thought about leaving the body inside of the gate to prove my point, but that meant actually touching it, so I left it where it fell.
The expected Blight storm kicked up as I was trudging up the path, on top of which was another Sixth House creature, this time one of the tentacle-faced men. Dodging spells while walking uphill in a Blight storm is certainly an exhausting activity, but the creatures have a poor ability to track sideways movement and walking up the path at an angle made it much easier to predict and dodge its spells. Once in melee range it fell quickly to my simple iron spear.

I encountered far more enemies today than yesterday and I suspect, however remote the fear may be, that Dagoth Ur knows I was here and has bolstered his garrison, so to speak. Finding out where all these creatures truly originate from would be a massive blow against Dagoth Ur, but I fear that is a little beyond my capability right now to find out.
As planned, I walked along the same path that led me to Dwemer ruin yesterday, only this time I carefully went by it, hoping to explore as far as north as the northern stretch of the Ghostfence. Like most of my plans, this was not a realized goal today.

The terrain inside Red Mountain at the entrance of Ghostgate is not particularly dangerous or even noteworthy, but this changed soon after I passed the ruins as the path I was following became narrower and the landscape more broken. I very nearly tumbled down a sudden drop which loomed ahead of me, but whether the fall was five feet or fifty, I could not tell due to the storm. I carefully inched my way along the edge, finding (much to my surprise) a rope bridge.

Keeping to what seemed to be an old road past the bridge, I came upon a Daedric shrine nested above the path on a ledge. I am still not clear what the connection is between the Sixth House and the Daedra, if any, but I decided to peek inside a bit. The Daedric shrines do tend to be small on the inside, so I did not anticipate having to spend a lot of time there.
The shrine did seem to be fairly small: The path I was following branched up the small hill to a stairway leading to an observation platform of some kind. A Flame Atronach and one of the spidery Daedra was wandering around the platform, for some reason tolerant of each other's existence. Neither assisted the other against me and they attacked me separately, neither providing much of a challenge, though the spidery Daedra's spells did a fair amount of damage to my equipment. I really should find out what all these creatures I am fighting are named.

To my great surprise, the Blight storm completely stopped for about a minute as soon as the dispatched the last of the two Daedra. The timing makes me think even further that Dagoth Ur does know my location, at least when I am within Red Mountain. The storm did resume, but not before I met Llavelea Nelvani.
I was too busy admiring the rare view of Vvardenfell from the clear sky of Red Mountain to notice her inching closer to me, but when I did I cursed myself for being so stupid. She was fully armored in steel plate and armed with a well-used, but cared for steel long sword. I was not so surprised as to not be ready to fight, but her sword was sheathed and she immediately stepped backwards, assuring me that she meant no harm.

If anyone ever reads this, I am sure they could forgive my suspicion, given the circumstances. The tiny Daedric shrines in the sewers of Vivec were all typically guarded by a 'strong-arm' posted outside and I assumed she was similarly employed. She claimed to be a Temple crusader and had been preparing to descend into the shrine to eliminate its inhabitants when the Atronach and other Daedra suddenly popped into existence behind her. She managed to hide behind a broken column and was just about to attack them when I arrived. The story sounded pretty thin, but she said the episode had made her re-think her luck today and that she would be leaving for Ghostgate in a few minutes.

She sat down to catch her breath and told me I was welcome to the shrine if I had come to loot it. I only shrugged and said I was trying to make a map of Red Mountain, to which she shook her head, declaring it a folly and certain death. The irony of her statement would end up being a cruel one.

The shrine was about as small as I expected it to be and staffed by several Storm Atronachs, which was not expected, but easily dealt with. The cultists were a small bunch, only three and all of which I killed suddenly and silently. Perhaps I have an assassin somewhere in my bloodline, else they were simply overconfident in their Atronach guards. One of the cultists had a strongly enchanted pair of gloves, but I could not tell what they were enchanted with. I took them on the chance that they might be valuable.

I left the shrine expecting that Llavelea would have already started to make her way back to Ghostgate, but the Dunmer woman had not been given the chance. When I stepped outside (Blight storm still raging), I was greeted by the Dunmer's corpse, her steel armor torn and peeled away as if it had been paper. One of the winged half-woman Daedra had just begun to tear into the body when I exited the shrine. It's preoccupation gave me a slight advantage, but I was foolish for the second time today and charged the creature without checking my surroundings. I had just begun to attack with my spear when another one of the spidery Daedra emerged behind the winged woman, flinging spells at me.

Fortunately the spells 'only' damaged my equipment further. Were they designed to damage me I would have been hard pressed to win the melee against the female Daedra, but I was able to activate the enchantment on my spear to summon a Daedric copy and quickly overcame the creature. The spidery Daedra lasted only moments after that, for they do not seem to be particularly good fighters compared to most of their brethren.

Not sure what else to do, I dragged Llavelea's remains behind a column on the platform and covered it with debris from the shrine. Another adventurer claimed by Vvardenfell.

I continued down the road past the shrine and started to encounter Sixth House creatures in groups for the first time, making combat a much more unpleasant ordeal. I fought two battles against two creatures at the same time, but either by coincidence or plan my third encounter was with four Sixth House minions: one of the hulking brutes, a faceless Sixth House servant, and two of the tentacle-faced men. The faceless one and the brute quickly came within range of my spear as the two spell-casters flung lightning at me.
I could have likely been the victor of this combat as well, but I had already been feeling tired and worn from the day's stress and decided that my time at Red Mountain today was at a close. I retreated from combat and activated my Recall amulet.

I repaired my equipment as best I could and I may return to Red Mountain again tomorrow, though as it seems my arrival is now expected and planned for I might try to find something else to do for awhile. It is too soon to check on the construction of the Redoran stronghold, but perhaps I could spend a few days working on my magecraft.

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