Monday, September 22, 2014

Morrowind Day 104 - Rethinking My Strategy

27 Sun's Dusk
This island continues to be a sobering lesson in humility and preparation. The equipment I brought with me is wholly inadequate and I am beginning to worry that I am as well. Today was far more difficult than any I have ever had on Vvardenfell.

The day started with a sudden drunken assault by the seemingly ever-drunk 'Erich the Unworthy'. Angry that I had talked to the Redguard, he accused me of trying to steal "his missionary" and declared his intention to, as he said, teach me some manners.

One of those manners was probably not to stab one of your Nord hosts in the throat with a dagger, but he did not have the chance to teach me that, for he of course was that Nord. The dagger was the artifact gifted to me by Mehrunes Dagon, which led to his death being instantanous as whatever enchantments held within the weapon worked their magic. His death was not at all unwelcomed by the other Nords of Thirsk who described him as a good warrior, but a poor man, especially if drunk...which was almost always.
My intention is to complete the Skaal's ritual as quickly as I can, for it appears that my success, and survival, on Solstheim may come to depend on learning their ways...much as it was with the Ashlanders. Their map provided a crude but effective set of directions for finding all of their Standing Stones and the Stone marked as the 'Beast Stone' appeared to be the closest, right on the north shore of the partially frozen lake near Thirsk.

With no description of what the stones looked like, I was forced to peer at every tall stone around the lake. The thick cold fog blanketing the island did not help either. Eventually I came to a very tall stone all on its own with the scars of having been hewn from a larger piece of rock very evident. As I approached, the cracks in the stone began to glow until the rough shape of a wolf's head was apparent. Words started to glow above it and they were surprisingly readable, telling me to travel south and ease the suffering of the "Good Beast". 

The Good Beast wound up being a giant white bear and its suffering was five of the blue goblins hacking away at it. As I watched, it caught one of them with a swipe of its giant paw and flung the creature into a tree, evidently killing it. The dead goblin's fellow warriors seemed to take no notice of its death, but two of them turned on me after I shot one of them in the back. Between myself and the bear, the remaining four goblins were quickly dispatched.
The bear somehow also suffered an arrow strike, though the arrow was a crude wooden thing with a stone head, so at least that was not my fault. It let me remove the arrow and then quite happily patted me on the head with a paw the size of my face. Certainly a new experience for me.

It padded around behind me as I tried to figure out what to do next until I decided to return to the stone. I had a feeling that the Beast and the Beast Stone needed to be joined together and my hunch was correct. Once the Good Beast and I reached the stone it stood up on its hind legs and placed both of its front paws on the stone. The entire Stone began to glow and little orbs of light occasionally seeped from within the stone and rose up into the sky. I could only assume that my involvement with the Stone was now over.
Overall the task had been rather easy. I was confident that I could complete the Skaal's test within a few days. The next Standing Stone I visited was the Wind Stone and it did a very complete job at shattering any confidence I had that I would be completing the quest any time soon.

The Wind Stone sits right at the joining of Solstheim's two rivers and was easier to find than the Beast Stone. Just as with the previous stone, approaching the Wind Stone first revealed a symbol and stepping closer revealed instructions. For the Wind Stone I was to head southeast of the lake and find a burial cavern called 'Glenschul's Tomb' so that I could free the Wind from the Greedy Man's bag...which made no sense to me. Perhaps I should educate myself on the Skaal's history a bit more when I get the chance.

After some wandering I found the cavern very close to Thirsk, wedged between two small hills. What greeted me inside was both horrible and educational. The undead infested this burial cavern, but they were not the enchanted bones most of the burial guards on Vvardenfell are. The monsters I faced were closer to life and far more powerful.

Most numerous were what might have been men at one point, given the tattered breeches and shirts, but some foul magic warped them into hideous creatures, black, leathery skin stretched tight over their bones and skull with red spots of light for eyes. These skin-skeletons were very quick to swarm upon me and it is due to them that I am thinking of fetching my overly heavy Daedric spear from my stronghold. 

They had with them a creature that served to be a mockery of Solstheim's wolves, being just a skeleton with a bit of flesh hanging off of them. They, however, were easily defeated as opposed to their undead masters.

I somehow managed to clear the cavern at great cost to my health and the condition of my armor. There seems no place to bring my equipment to for repair, nor anywhere to purchase supplies to effect my own barely effective repairs and I shall have to bring some from home. I am surprised that S'virr is not smuggling these required pieces of equipment, but perhaps the Fort's needs consume all of what he can bring.

The bag of the Greedy Man was a simple inflated canvas sack sitting in front of a skeleton encased in ice. Mindful that I was to free the Wind, I opened the bag and was immediately blown off my feet by a mighty gust. The gust of wind also blew out all the oil lamps that had been lighting the cavern which would have made getting back out quite the adventure if any of the tomb's undead had been still standing about.

It was still early in the afternoon when I left the cavern, but the fight against the blackened creatures left me exhausted, hurt, and with damaged equipment. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I sought my bedroll long before dark. The sky is still a bright grey haze outside as I write this, but I am preparing to curl up on the floor and sleep. Not for the first time I suspect I am not particularly well prepared for this island. 

Tomorrow I will re-visit the Wind Stone, then see if my amulet can Recall me back home from this far away so that I can return with stronger weapons and more equipment, as it seems there is nothing this island offers to aid an adventurer.

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