Sunday, May 25, 2014

Morrowind Day 90 - My Final Day at Sheogorad

13 Sun's Dusk
My last day at Sheogorad was certainly not a sad parting, but I did accomplish something today, though I am not sure what it is I have done exactly.

The several days spent wandering the compact and dangerous surface of the island had taken its toll on my equipment and when I woke up this morning I realized I either was going to repair everything the best I could or call my entire plan to walk around Vvardenfell, as I was unlikely to even make it halfway to Tel Mora before my armor dropped off of me completely.

The Legion trained us only in the most basic techniques of smithing and repair, obviously assuming whatever damage we incurred would be repaired by the Legion's smiths when we returned from the field. While such services are available on Vvardenfell, they are not near Dagon Fel and barely even on the east coast at all. I had to do the best I could with the small amount of tools the local trader, Heifner, had for sale.

I had hoped to finish exploring the main island of Sheogorad today, with the surrounding isles being left for any spare time I might have at the end of the day. I left Dagon Fel via the south road and walked past the crossroads leading to Rotheran fortress. I paused briefly to speak with a friendly Orc who claimed she was traveling across the entire province of Morrowind looking for an errant husband-to-be. She was well-equipped for this daunting mission with an Orsimer breastplate, greaves, and two-handed maul. No doubt she has seen and fought many things while on her way to her husband, but she did not seem like she wanted to talk for long, so we talked for a few minutes and parted ways. 

It is nice to know that not everyone you meet on the road is looking to bash your skull in.

Along the shore I also spoke with a trio of Ashlanders who had come to Sheogorad on the rumor of a vampire stronghold in the area. I told them about the vampires I had fought on the island, but they seemed certain that there was a large concentration of vampires nearby. The irony became clear later on.
I was just about finished exploring the main island when, yet again, I found another tomb. It was still early in the morning and I guessed the tomb's nearness to the water would keep it to a modest size. I was correct, but exploring it was simply as waste of time and effort. The skeletal guards skillfully wielded silvered long and two-handed swords, but were guarding absolutely nothing of value. 
And that was actually it for the main island. I walked across the water to the nearest small island and found a small shack built next to a Tribunnal shrine of some kind. The Dunmer lady living there was polite and explained that she was the shrine's caretaker. The shrine is called the Sanctus shrine and is built on what the Temple considers to be holy ground, as it is where the current Archcanon wrote his book of sermons, which I have never once read or even seen a copy of.

So far I was making good progress. All I had left to explore was a long, narrow island to the west of the shrine and a fairly large island farther south. I elected to visit the narrow island first, since I figured I could hop on to the mainland from the larger island and make my way along the shore to the Urshilaku tribe's camp should the day start to draw to a close.

The island managed to emphasis the chaotic personality of Sheogorad while barely being wide enough for two roads. The land rose and fell seemingly at random, the sea would occasionally wash over the entire width of the land and cliff racers flitted amongst the tops of giant mushrooms. It was an island that demanded levitation, but I only have the cheap amulet that I save for emergencies. It was a very difficult place to be walking.

Recalling the ashlanders' warning about the vampire stronghold, I gave the first cave I found more attention than it deserved. I would say it was just another den of smugglers if there had not been so many of them, but the experience was pretty much the same. As usual, they completely lacked cohesion and communication while also being spread out and isolated. The most noteworthy part of my little visit was the one smuggler clad entirely in iron armor, something I have never seen on Vvardenfell until today. The armor was rusty and fit the man poorly, making me think he would have been a great deal better off wearing no armor at all.
A Dunmer, probably the leader of the group, had been fortunate to somehow acquire an Ebony cuirass, but he wore no other armor, making his arms and legs excellent targets for my spear. There were others, but they were typical of who I have been fighting in these places and bear little mention, just as the complete lack of valuables does.

I write on it briefly, but the cavern was quite large and the enemies numerous, so that when I stepped back outside I found that a great deal more time had passed than I expected. It was already growing dark by then, so the exploration of the island was over for good and I turned around to head back to Dagon Fel.

To make the most of what little time I had left on Sheogorad, I went back to the fishing village via the larger island to the south that I had not yet set foot upon. There was a single cave on the island, but it wound up being the vampire stronghold the ashland warriors had been seeking.

The place might have been a regular tomb hundreds of years ago, but the vampires that called the place home must have expanded it extensively, digging out deadfalls through the floors and trapping almost every door in the sprawling complex. I thought I would be able to sneak along and ambush them individually as I normally do, but there were a large number of entranced people, mostly Dunmer, wandering the hallways. They were harmless and could only mutter nonsensically, but they would show surprise at seeing an armed Khajiit stalking the halls. So unless I sank low enough to kill the helpless souls, stealth was out of the question.
However, vampires are not generally known to house themselves close to each other. The complex was a large one, but the number of vampires residing there seemed low to me. I had great luck initially, picking off lone vampires walking the hallways with my bow or an invisible strike with my spear. As I penetrated farther in the hallways started to branch off into living quarters and libraries, where I found myself fighting two or three vampires at a time. I do not know much about how vampires live among themselves, but this group was well prepared with a fully functional smithy, complete with a vampire smith to work it, an Altmer, surprisingly. He was not much of a warrior, perhaps he had been a tradesman in his previous existence. He helpfully kept a stack of armorer's hammers near his forge and I took a few to work with later. 

Eventually my stalking led to a dead-end: a sizable room with a large raised platform in the center of it and a female vampire standing serenely atop the stairs, staring down at me as I entered. She did not immediately attack, but coldly asked what authority I had to slay her kin and clan. I replied honestly, stating that I have been recognized as the Nerevarine and was travelling across Vvardenfell seeking out and eliminating elements of the Sixth House and anything else that posed a threat to Morrowind. The vampire leader was silent for a moment, then declared that my journey was to end tonight. With that, she started casting a spell, but I fled out of the room and hid around the corner, hoping she would be foolish enough to fall into my ambush.

But she was much wiser than her now-deceased comrades and stayed on her platform, surrounded by the magical barrier she had summoned at the declaration of my death. To charge back into the room did not seem a good idea, as I was very tired and wounded after the day's exertions and had no guarantee I could engage her in combat and win. I won by trickery instead, as Khajiit always should.

Certain that she was not going to leave the room, I fished a certain scroll out of my waist-satchel and then used my invisibility spell before dashing back into the room and to the side of the platform, out of her sight. I activated the scroll and broke my invisibility enchantment, much to the vampire's alarm. She yelled something and finally ran down the stairs...right into the arms of the Golden Saint my scroll had summoned.

The battle was over quickly. The Golden Saint brought a Daedric long sword with it which the vampire had little hope of countering. Already wounded and tired, I stayed well away from the two of them ready to jump in with my summoned spear, but that was not necessary. To the vampire's credit she fought courageously and managed to hold her own for a few minutes while they two of them circled each other at the base of the stairs, but the Saint was relentless and wore down her magical defenses enough to impale her with the blade, killing her instantly.  
The Golden Saint disappeared shortly afterwards, back to wherever it came from and taking its sword with it. Six people were trapped in a crude wooden cage built along the back of the platform, probably to be turned into mindless food at some point. They were very eager to be free of the place and ran out of the room as soon as I unlocked the door. As there was no one left between them and the exit, I can only assume they somehow made it off the little island, since I was the only one there after leaving the stronghold.

It was already well into the morning of 14 Sun's Dusk when I returned to Dagon Fel. Simply writing this was a struggle against my fatigue and I do not anticipate making a lot of progress today. I will take a short nap and hopefully be bedding down tonight somewhere far south of here and closer to completing my journey.

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