Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Morrowind Day 115 - To Mournhold!

7 Evening Star
I woke this morning at Thirsk at complete loss as to how I was going to spend the day. The only thing I possibly had to do was some menial task related to Raven Rock's construction, so I walked down along the river towards the fort. Surprisingly, there was a message waiting for me there from Arvs Raram, the Master-at-Arms at my Redoran manor. The message was short and urged me to visit as soon as I could, for something important had come up.

The 'something important' was an Ebony dart that one of the ladies of the manor found embedded in the door of the manor-house. My largely Dunmer garrison all suspected that it was a sign that an elite cadre of assassins, the Dark Brotherhood, had a contract on my life. Arvs urged me to speak with a guard to see if the Imperials have had any luck in tracking this elusive group down.

One of the Redoran guards at Ald'ruhn recollected that she had heard an Imperial in Ebonheart named Apellus Matius was working, unsuccessfully, to eliminate the Dark Brotherhood groups in Morrowind. Being my only lead, I was forced to follow it. I returned to the manor to pick up some supplies and walked back to Ald'ruhn so that I could be sent to the Mages Guild in Vivec, then suffered a long, warm, and humid walk down the coast to Ebonheart. 

Apellus assured me that the Dark Brotherhood does not actively operate on Vvardenfell, but that he suspects they operate out of the capital city of Morrowind province, Mournhold. Travel to and from the city was stopped due to the Blight coming from Red Mountain and even with Dagoth Ur gone the city remains shut, except by magical means. Apellus directed me to Asciene Rane about securing a way onto the mainland.

I was expecting something like the rooms of the Mages Guilds, but Asciene sent me to a small room in the Palace with only one other occupant who was, surprisingly, an Argonian named 'Effe-Tei'. Unsurprisingly he was able to send me back to Ebonheart, but I wanted to explore the city first.

Effe-Tei warned me to be careful about who I talked to and what I said. The previous king had recently died and the present king, Helseth, was rather suspected of having a hand in the death. Confusing the matter, Almalexia leads her own Temple guards, the 'Hands of Almalexia', which is causing friction between the two houses of government as they battle for influence. He offered to send me back to Ebonheart, but his warning did not deter me from wanting to explore the city.

I met a man outside the palace willing to serve as a hired blade for 250 Septims, but I was, and remain, confident that I can handle any threat here on the mainland. Continuing to wander, I walked through the gate leading out of the walled palace section of Mournhold and into a large plaza.
With no clue where to go, I simply picked another gate at random and ended up in Mournhold's marketplace and in front of a small portable stage. There were shops behind the stage and I moved around it to inspect the displayed merchandise of an armorer, but a Dunmer behind the stage called out to me as I passed by.
The man was the leader of the little acting troupe and one of his actors seemed to be missing. Bizarrely, he claimed I looked just like his missing actor, which was an obvious lie. Nevertheless, I was asked to play the vacant role and agreed, guessing that I had a few days to study whatever play they were performing. I actually only had two minutes to memorize my lines from a play called "The Horror of Castle Xyr"

I managed to memorize my lines from the first three pages of the play before everyone started rushing to their places to begin the show. I was sure I was about to make a fool of myself, but the play did not last even up to the amount of lines I was ready for. As I was waiting for my next line, a Dunmer in the audience suddenly jumped up on stage with a Daedric sword and attacked me!
He was not a particularly skilled assassin and I dealt with him quickly. The play was obviously ruined, so I returned to the man who conned me into taking the part. He introduced himself as 'Meryn' and admitted that he knew that an assassin was waiting for his lead actor, the man I replaced, to appear on stage. Meryn's actor had recently been caught in an indecent situation with the daughter of a Telvanni, which makes my situation even more ridiculous, unless the assassin thought the daughter had a taste for female Khajiit. Anyway, Meryn paid me two thousand Septims for saving his actor's life and wished me well. A very strange situation, but I am certainly growing used to 'strange'.

A local guard suggested I search the sewers for the Dark Brotherhood if I had a death wish, but as unbelievable as it may sound I felt confident enough about my chances against a group of assassins. Assuming there would be a large number of them, I stopped at a tradehouse in the marketplace and purchased several dozen steel-tipped arrows and a simple long bow.

As soon as I stepped back outside I was being yelled at by a Dunmer, evidently a magic-user of some sort. He was yelling loud enough for the entire marketplace to hear him and announced himself as "Ovis Velas, the great, renowned, respected, and feared wizard". Rather foolishly he declared his ambition to "bring the city to its knees" and then stated he would demonstrate his power immediately on one of Mournhold's own. Of course, he then turned directly towards me, called me an "ugly Khajiit" and attacked. The attack lasted all of about three seconds. Two to pull the spear from the sheath on my back and one to drive it into his chest. The great wizard Ovis Velas was quickly the late, great wizard.
There was a key on the man's body and a thankful bystander helpfully pointed out that there was a manor owned by Mournhold's Velas family in a residential area of the city called 'Godsreach'. I felt my assault against the Dark Brotherhood would go better without another Velas family member flinging magic at my back, so I put off my exploration of the sewers to deal with this unexpected threat.

The key opened the front door to the manor a guard in Godsreach pointed out to me, but inside there was only one Dunmer. Much like his brother, this one started to loudly address me before I could even open my mouth. He made quite the incredulous claim: Ovis Velas was his very unskilled brother who was only trying to pretend to be him, Gavis Velas, for some reason or another. Gavis said he understood my situation in having to defend myself and politely asked that I understand his in avenging the death of his foolish brother...right before he summoned two giant Ogrims into the room.

With no room to maneuver I was sure to be crushed into paste by the hulking Daedra if I played defensively. Instead, I recklessly tried a repeat of my attack on his unfortunate brother, charging straight at him with no regards to the massive scaled hands grasping for me on either side. Flat feet must run in the Velas family, for he was entirely too slow to dodge out of my way or perhaps could not due to the bulk of his summoned minions. The pointed tip of Hircine's oddly shaped spear caught him in the chest and I bore him to the floor, withdrawing only to drive it into his throat. The melee could not have lasted more than six seconds.

As he died his summoned help disappeared in puffs of acrid smoke, including two behind me that I never even knew had been there. Had I not attacked him immediately I would have surely been torn to pieces. He had nothing interesting on him, so I locked the door to the manor behind me as I left. Eventually someone will find the body, but I will probably be long gone from this place by then.
My foray into the sewers should have been more interesting than it was. I met a Khajiit near the marketplace's trapdoor, but she refused to speak with me. Probably Thieves Guild. The other was a Dunmer woman who asked that I keep an eye out for the ghost of her dead husband who had been murdered by a gang operating out of the sewers.

Save for those two the only other inhabitants of the sewers were a few irresponsible summonings, mostly skeletons, and the Dark Brotherhood itself. The latter proved to be something of a disappointment. I was expecting a highly-dangerous assault against a den of experienced assassins and what I found was a small collection of poorly armed individuals occupying two decrepit buildings living more like beggars than elite killers.  

There was at least two dozen Brotherhood members living under the sewers, but most of them were only armed with daggers and short swords. The assassin at the play was better armed than this rabble. The approach to their little compound was long and open from where I had come from, letting me pick off the ones outside with arrows while giving those inside the buildings no warning of my approach. Inside the smaller building were eight assassins, all of them armed with silvered stabbing swords and none of them a match for me and Hircine's spear.
The larger building held fewer assassins, but one of them proved to be a difficult opponent and the source of a valuable piece of information. He had a small scroll in his pocket that specifically named me as a contracted target of the Dark Brotherhood, on the request (and presumably payment) of someone only referred to as "H". Very mysterious and I am not sure I even know anyone whose name begins with an H. Mournhold's new king, King Helseth, comes to mind, but there is no reason why he should want me dead. 

By then it was well into the evening and I had no idea where an inn was, so I distastefully re-entered the Velas manor and am spending the night in the former master's bedroom. I have certainly slept in worse places, but I do not think I will want to be staying here tomorrow.

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