Thursday, January 30, 2014

Morrowind Day 76 - Back to the Zainab

29 Frost Fall
I spoke to Galsa about this morning about the stronghold before starting my day. I expected some sort of news, but she said that the construction was proceeding as planned and that she would leave word with the Mage Guilds when I was needed. Her indifference felt a little rude, considering it was being built for me (and the House, of course). I am sure it will not be long until she is badgering me to take care of some minor problem.

My agreement with the mercenary captain of Tel Vos was to visit the camp of the Zainab and find out what trade opportunities existed between the two of them. I had meant to do this yesterday, but never found the time. It was first on my list of tasks to do today and would provide a good opportunity to scout the area. My previous visits to the area kept me to the coast and the roads to my various destinations. A large part of the interior was still a mystery to me, which is always unacceptable.

Dandera Selaro is the Smith outside of Under-Skar and she has grown accustomed to my visiting her every morning to have my equipment repaired. The repairs to the bow I received from Sul-Matuul have been very expensive, owing to its age and enchantments. Most of its use has been against blighted wildlife rather than Daedra and the repair expense is not really worth it. Dandera had no bows for sale, but I knew the Razor Hole in Balmora did.

Holding the cheap short bow reminded me of my first days on this island and how far I have come since then. A sheaf of cheap iron arrows plus the bow barely cost me fifty Septims and will hopefully save me money going forward.

I could have gone to Caldera to have Folms send me to the coastal fortress again, but I went to Sadrith Mora instead so that I could explore the islands surrounding the town. My expectation was that I wound find nothing but cliff racers and mudcrabs...and my expectation were mostly correct. There is a Daedric shrine surprisingly close to the town, but I could not find a way into it. I did walk away a little richer in Frost Salts after besting the ruin's guardians, so there's that.
I came across a shipwreck just off the coast of the town's island. The ship was wedged between two large rocks, almost entirely out of the water. I have never seen any evidence of waves in the waters surrounding Vvardenfell, so it must have taken an amazing lack of seamanship to cause the ship to end up where it did.
The lack of seamanship is understandable, for the meager remains of the ship's stores included a few bottles of Skooma and some satchels of Moon Sugar. Smugglers are not known for their skill at sea and while I know nothing of boats, the coastline certainly looks daunting what with all the strange rock pillars littering the sea.
When I made my way back to the mainland I was greeted by a sword-wielding skeleton who was likely guarding a tomb I found nearby. Further on I spotted two bandits arguing around their campfire and I tried to sneak past them. Normally this would not pose a problem, but one of them managed to catch me and shouted an alarm. I felled both with three shots from my new bow. The ease at which I alone can dispatch them makes me wonder why there is even a bandit problem in the first place. Political, I suppose. The Imperial Legion could certainly take care of it, but that would require far more soldiers than is practical and the Great Houses are too busy bickering among themselves to accomplish anything at all.

The sky was begining to grow dark and I still had not made much progress towards the Zainab camp. My wandering had not been a waste of time though, for I explored a good deal of previously unseen territory. The whole experience almost made me feel like I was back in the Auxiliaries again. I started to head directly towards where I thought the camp was and ran into a comical duo guarding another shrine.
The tombs in the west of the island never had skeletal (or mudcrab) guardians, so I guess the practice is due to being in Telvanni-controlled land. A single skeleton does not mean much to me any more, but neither does the few coins and dusty potions that tombs usually cough up. Khajiit are not born to be delving underground anyway.

The night seemed to close in early, but I suppose the day's lack of terror and violence made it seem to go by quicker. The night was amazingly clear and I was treated to a smear of bright purple stretching across the sky. I do wonder what causes so much purple to end up over Morrowind, for it cannot be any action of Dagoth Ur's to cause this kind of weather.
I passed Indoranyon fortress and a small squat tower just behind it that I had not seen before, but had no interest in exploring. It looked similar to the the Telvanni hideaways I have visited once or twice and if this was the same I had only undead, an irate wizard, and a few coins waiting for me. Best to skip such a thing. A nearly naked Nord was pacing across the road in front of the tower and he started yelling and waving his arms while I was still a good distance away. Strong as they are, a naked unarmed Nord would have no chance against a well-armed...anything, so I let him approach.

His story was a short one: He had been escorting a 'witch' named Iveri Llothri when, according to him, she attacked and put him under a paralysis spell. She, for some reason, stole all his armor, clothes, and a prized axe he charmingly called 'Widowmaker'. Naturally he wanted my help in finding Iveri, exacting bloody revenge, and retrieving his stolen goods. There was something about his tale that did not ring true to me and I refused to help him, ready to cut him down if he became angry. But he shrugged and said he would figure it out on his own.

By then it was nearly pitch-black and the second group of bandits were very easy to see clustered around their campfire. I was able to sneak past them without a fight, only to encounter another of the winged Daedra just beyond them. I was concerned that fighting the creature would create enough noise to summon the bandits at my back, but I need not have worried. The Daedra crumpled after a few arrow shots, having made it no more than halfway to me from where she had been stalking about.

As seems to be my habit I reached my destination late into the night. The Zainab were very welcoming of me and ushered me into the Ashkhan's tent before I could explain why I was visiting. His wife was out, but Kaushad was in a jovial mood. He winked at me and confided that he realized that Falura was no high-born Telvanni lady soon after I left after being named Nerevarine. This deception met with his approval and he stated that a Nervarine clever enough to fool the Ashkhan of the Zainab was a good thing indeed. He said that he was much happier with Falura than he would have been with some, in his words, 'stuck-up Telvanni lady'. He gave me a fine shirt as a token of his appreciation and hoped it would remind me of them when (if) I wore it.

He had nothing to say about trade goods, disdainfully pointing out that such concerns were beneath an Ashkhan. He recommended I speak to the tribe's trader, Ashur-Dan, and the wise woman. Falura walked into the tent as I was leaving and was just as happy to see me as Kaushad was. She expressed her happiness and bemusement at being wife to the Ashkhan and wryly pointed out her change of fortune: from slave to a companion of the Nerevarine, to wife of the Ashkhan of the Zainab tribe.

Ashur-Dan was not cooperative. In his opinion the tribe did not need anything from the outlanders at Tel Vos. He was genial, assuring me he did not blame an outlander like myself for misunderstanding the Ashlanders. I suspect he had no idea who I was. 

The wise woman Sonummu was far more helpful. She knew why I was asking about trade goods and that Aryon hoped to bind the tribe closer to the Telvanni through trade relations. She saw more help than harm in the exchange and asked that I relay the tribe's need for potions to cure common and Blight diseases. The hunters travel far and cannot return to the camp to be cured before the day is out, hindering the day's catch. She claimed that the Ashlanders as a people just never got the hang of 'bottling magic' and us 'roof-loving people' were far better. Interesting.

I had only to go to Tel Vos now and tell them what I learned, but it was late, so I am staying with the Zainab tonight. I will try to make it to Vivec tomorrow and speak to the Archcanon regarding Dagoth Ur.

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