Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Morrowind Day 85 - Kerra, Grandmaster Fisher-Khajiit

8 Sun's Dusk
There will be a day when my plans actually go as intended, but today was not one of those days. My intentions this morning was to cross the foyada separating the northern wasteland from the Bitter Coast and continue my travels into the Telvanni-held territory, with tonight being spent at the Urshilaku's tent village. Instead I am writing from within the Gnisis barracks yet again.

I left Gnisis early this morning and made straight for the fishing outpost of Ald Velothi. I passed the small lake where the two Imperial woman had tried to kill me and saw that their bodies were gone. In their place were sure signs of a large creature dragging something heavy with it, though I lost the tracks when they turned off the dirt road on to the grass. Kagouti perhaps, or Nix-Hounds? I do not know and I think I will be much happier never finding out.

The lake sits at the base of the hill where the Dwemer ruin I passed by yesterday is. As I wrote yesterday, the Dwemer ruins are high in danger and comparatively low in treasure, the best being an ancient weapon or piece of armor. Gemstones are common, but they are much safer to acquire from Daedric ruins, odd as that may sound. At least the denizens of the Daedric ruins are living creatures; the guardians of the Dwemer ruins are soulless and non-living constructs that will stoically reduce any intruder into a fine paste without the slightest hesitation. Should things not go well while inside you will find they cannot be bargained with nor intimidated. The sum of the matter is this: avoid Dwemer ruins whenever possible.

So I trekked up the hillside only to get a better view of the coast I had been planning on traveling along today. But my curiosity got the better of me once again, though in my defense it was sorely tempted by the unusual statue built at the end of the massive bridge leading to the fortress.
None of the other ruins I have visited ever had any sort of adornment and certainly not a giant statue of an ancient Dwemer warrior. The unrelenting weather of Vvardenfell had long smoothed away any fine details the sculptor may have chosen to show, but the statue was still in good condition. The depicted Dwemer resembled a Bosmer with a beard and he was armed with a large shield and a halberd, though how he was supposed to have used both at the same time is a mystery.

The justification for risking my life inside the place was reasonable enough: none of the other ruins had a statue or such a long bridge leading to it (guarded by two giant crossbows), so this fortress must have been very important in its time and therefore worth exploring. I soon found out that this was completely false.

My first encounter with the ancient garrison was with a mechanical guard that sprang out of its golden sphere-like body. This was not a new thing to me, I have fought several of the things in other ruins, but they had been armed with melee weapons. The sphere-soldiers here had crossbows built into their 'arms' which fired unique-looking bolts, no doubt Dwemer. The first bolt fired at me cracked right through my shield, but stopped halfway through it. The second narrowly missed me and I was attacking the construct with my spear before it could fire a third.

Against the Dwemer armor that I guess made up its body, the steel of my spear did not have much effect. I had to retreat behind a pillar to activate the spear's Daedric enchantment to cause significant damage. I recovered a handful of its crossbow bolts from a quiver cleverly built into its back, but as I lacked a crossbow they were of no use to me.

I followed a staircase down into a very hot, stinking hallway heated and lit by a pool of lava sitting right underneath it. I do not understand how this was ever seen as a good idea, but the metal grate making up most of the hallway's floor managed to stay pleasantly warm, despite the molten stone beneath it. One of the Dwemer spider things scurried around the corner in front of me, but fell surprisingly quick to three silvered arrows.

It had been guarding a stairway leading upwards (making it seem that the hallway's only purpose was as a chamber to collect heat) and I had just placed my foot into the room the stairs led up to when a giant metal ball swung from the side and hit me square in the chest, sending me tumbling back down the stairs into the red, glowing hallway.

What followed me down was a giant war machine, easily the largest I have seen. The ball that struck me was an extension of one of the machine's arms, the other had a hand with three large 'fingers'. I scrambled back up, ignoring the searing pain of what was probably a cracked rib or two, and it stalked relentlessly down the hall after me.
The construct was almost completely immune to arrows and nothing in my meager collection of spells was likely to do much of anything, so I had to face it by hand. It seemed hardly a fair fight, but the thing's great strength came at a cost, for it was quite slow in moving and fighting. I dashed up the stairs leading towards the exit, activated my Daedric spear, and finally cast my invisibility spell, hoping to get a lucky strike.

My luck has never been particularly notable. Without a target, the guardian placidly stood in the center of the hall, oblivious to the heat and fumes radiating from beneath its feet. I crept towards it as stealthily as I could manage and got within melee range without being detected. My sudden strike was for its neck, hoping that this represented some sort of weak point. It did not. My aim was true, but the thing's neck was a collection of small tubes with some sort of binding allowing each segment to flex. My strike hit one of these tubes and glanced off, harmlessly gouging the machine's mantle.

The rest of the fight does not bear much mentioning. It was all a matter of timing: it would rear back, pause, and swing its ball-arm in a wide arc, no doubt aiming to smash my head off of my shoulders. But if it missed (which it did!) the machine would spend a few seconds orientating itself for another attack, which is when I would take my turn. We must have gone through at least seven rounds of our dance when the thing started spouting steam out of the gaps my spear had rent. It made one final swing and then suddenly stopped moving completely before toppling into the side of the hallway with a tremendous crash.

I have no idea how it actually died, if that term could be used for it. A stronger and arguably smarter man than I could have maybe pried the machine's breastplate apart to see how it worked, but my interest in the workings of the thing began and ended with how to make it stop trying to kill me.

The rest of the ruin was home only to a small spider-machine, which posed no threat. I pocketed two diamonds I found at the bottom of a steel barrel, but the ruin was really very, very small and there were only two other rooms after the first hallway, neither of which held anything that made the trip inside worthwhile. Again: avoid Dwemer ruins whenever possible!
The ruin's very long bridge
At least the day was a pleasant one when I exited the ruin. The sea breeze did well to clear off the stench of ancient steam and molten lava off of my fur and I could easily spot Ald Velothi.
The Redoran outpost was only a few minutes walk along the coast. I stopped to speak with the Redoran retainer, Theldyn Virith, for whom I did a service some time ago. He remembered me and asked if I had a few minutes to spare. That question never led me anywhere good, but I agreed. His task was very simple: prowl about the beach of Ald Velothi and look for a larger-than-usual slaughterfish. Theldyn called it 'Old Blue Fin' and said they he and the fish had a history, but he did not say what kind of history. Anyway, the fish was causing the little village's fisher-people a lot of trouble: fouling lines, chewing through nets, and attacking anyone brave (or stupid) enough to try their hand at spear-fishing. He asked that I kill the fish, finally ending Theldyn's acquaintance with the creature and saving Ald Velothi's pitiful attempt at industry.

I would not have even mentioned this mundane task if it was not for a Dunmer woman who approached me while I was scouring the shore for Old Blue Fin. She seemed oddly shy and asked if I was Kerra. I saw no reason why she would need to know, but also no reason to deceive the woman. My curiosity again, I guess. When I told her that I was, in fact, Kerra, she gave me a little bow and thanked for waking her from her nightmare.

She had been one of the insane people I have been encountering, though I never met her specifically before today. She said she felt as though she had been asleep for a long time and as for the time passed, she only had nightmares of red places and people turning into horrible monsters. But she happily told me she was finally awake again and would tell everyone of my deeds.

What deeds did I perform to free this person from Dagoth Ur's influence? I do not know and neither did she. I should set aside some time in the future to review what I have accomplished so far, maybe I have missed something obvious.

Old Blue Fin was not making himself scarce, I spotted him myself as he lazily floated underneath one of the raised houses the Dunmer like to build on top of the water.
He was too deep for an arrow from either bow to have a decent chance of killing him and I did not want to merely wound him and drive him off. My only option was to go into the water after him. I checked my short sword, left my other weapons on the walkway, and cast my water breathing spell.

The fish was a bit stronger and quicker than the usual slaughterfish I lunch on occasionally, but it was still only a fish. The battle, if it could even be called that, could not have lasted more than ten seconds. The regular fish of Ald Velothi are safe once again. Theldyn rewarded my heroic effort with a sack full of Dreugh wax processed into little ingots.

Theldyn had another task for me, this one a great deal farther away. The Ashimanu egg mine between Ald Velothi and Ald'ruhn has been invaded by a Blight-infected shalk and he needs someone to go kill the creature. He also asked that I kill any Kagouti I see while on my way to the mine. I have no intention just now of going that far inland, but I agreed to the task since it was close to Ald'ruhn. No one ever seems in a big rush to get these tasks done anyway.

A small island was sitting off the shore and I saw no harm in taking a few minutes to walk across the water to check it out. Contrary to how much luck had been so far, there really was no harm in it, just an abandoned campsite and a chest stuffed with cheap trinkets.
The unknown smuggler's hideaway was less than a minute's walk across the water to Khuul, but I found the village worth visiting just as much as I did the first time...which is not at all. I only stopped in the tradehouse to purchase some arrows, but when I exited the shop I found the weather had grown far worse. Concerned about being stuck in a blinding Blight storm, I made the decision to turn south and walk along the inlet separating Gnisis from the mainland, arguing with myself that it technically constituted a 'coast' of some sort.

I arrived back at Gnisis just as the weather started to darken and spent the remainder of the evening repairing my equipment and trying out new combinations of alchemy ingredients. Tomorrow I definitely will make it to the Urshilaku's camp and continue my journey eastward.

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