Saturday, January 10, 2015

Morrowind Day 116 - New City, Same Mundane Tasks

8 Evening Star
Mournhold, the city of Light and Magic! Prior to my assignment to Vvardenfell I had never seen a city outside of Cyrodiil, so I was excited yesterday to be visiting Morrowind's capital. Today's adventures have dispelled that excitement entirely.

The first indication of what the day was going to bring was an Imperial named Geon Auline. The man was standing in front of his home beseeching people to help him with a simple task and they were all shying away from him. I do not know what possessed me, but I walked up to him and asked how simple a task his was.

He was overjoyed that someone had stopped to talk to him and assured me that the task really was as simple as walking a few houses over. Geon is a collector of some sort and had a series of daggers in his possession that required only one more to be complete, something he called a 'Droth' dagger, whatever that was. This dagger was in the possession of a recently widowed neighbor of his, but she refused to sell him her husband's dagger. My task was to acquire this dagger and bring it to him.

As it turned out, the task was easier done than said. The widow's husband had been a Legionnaire and I told her I had come to pay my respects, even though I never knew the man personally. She was suspicious of me until I told her about my time in the Auxiliaries, after which she was rather hospitable towards me. She showed me her late husband's Legionnaire equipment, including a silvered dagger she herself called a 'Droth' dagger. I offered to buy it from her and we settled on a price of six hundred Septims. A very simple task.

My Khajiit instinct for bargaining served me well, for Geon paid me eight hundred Septims for the silver dagger. He laid it alongside three other identical-looking daggers arrayed together on his table and was immensely satisfied by the arrangement. I still have no idea what a 'Droth' dagger even is, but I have made myself two hundred Septims richer for it anyway.
As I left Geon's house I heard another hopeful soul asking for assistance. The coins clinking in my pack lent me a charitable sort of curiosity, so I approached the Breton myself and asked if I could be of any assistance.

The Breton introduced himself as 'Ignatius', a very Breton sort of name, and his request was fairly simple as well: he needed scrap metal from the Dwemer ruins underneath Mournhold to repair his Dwemer golems. I was rather taken aback that anyone would have such a thing, but he only had the small spider-like ones and he used them against one another in an arena that was quite a popular spectacle. Unfortunately, the latest arena match disabled many of his little automatons and he lacked the parts to fix them. His request was that I bring him any scrap metal I come across and I readily agreed should I find any.

I thought to stop in the local armory to have my equipment repaired and even the blacksmith had a complaint for me, but not one that I can do anything about. His newest apprentice has apparently deserted his post for the life of an adventurer and I was asked to refer anyone looking for work to his shop. Simple enough and my equipment was quickly repaired.

And that was not all. When I left the armorer's a man was walking around Godsreach, also asking for help. I cannot recall any of my time on Vvardenfell or Solstheim when so many people in such a small area needed something from someone. It certainly does not speak well of the province if the capital city has so many troubled citizens.

Alvan Llarys was his name and he asked that I go to the Sadri family manor with him to discuss his issue. It sounded a little odd, but I agreed, rationalizing that I could easily kill the man if this was his idea of a clever ambush. The mood inside the manor was that of a family mourning their dead and Alvan quietly pointed me towards a woman muttering and pacing at the far end of the room. Nothing she said made any sense to me, but Alvan said that she had been acting normally until she spoke with an enchanter named 'Elbert Nermane' at the Craftsmen's Hall here in Godsreach.

Elbert nearly had a fit when I asked him about the strange woman, but calmed down when I assured him I did not want him to visit her. No longer panicking, he shed some light on the poor woman's condition, explaining that she had found some Dwemer objects that she had wanted him to teach her to enchant. 

Eventually she asked him to visit her to continue helping with the objects and when he arrived at the manor he found the things were everywhere. On her urging he stepped closer to examine one, but it suddenly gave him a very bad shock and he ran out of the manor, the woman laughing behind him the whole time. That was the last he saw of her, for he admitted something about her scared him.

Alvan stopped me just outside the manor, very worried. He had stepped outside for some fresh air when he suddenly heard a scream from inside. An Ordinator had arrived on the family's request to guard the woman against herself while I was speaking with Elbert, but Alvan found that the door had been locked and no one was answering his knocking.

A simple Opening spell unlocked the door, but no one was home. The body of the Ordinator lay in the room, but no one else was present. Alvan rushed back outside to summon the guards while I examined the room for the exit the group had obviously taken.
I found a trapdoor emitting a foul smell in a small closet and opened it to reveal the city's sewer, explaining the particular odor I was smelling. Just inside the sewer lay the body of a woman that had been present the first time I visited the manor, but there were no indications as to why someone felt she had to die.

Further inside the sewers I found another trapdoor leading deeper into the complex, but a crate was resting on top of it and was too heavy for me to move. I found that turning a wheel in the room let water into the depression in the floor where the trapdoor lay, so I let enough water inside to float the crate off the trapdoor. After casting my water breathing spell I dove into the frigid pool and swam deeper into the city's sewer system.

The trapdoor led to a small chamber with another wheel-valve and trapdoor. The wheel thankfully drained the room of water, leaving me very cold and wet, but the second trapdoor opened up to a dry cavern.

Surrounded by cold, indifferent earth, I crept down the cavern and found the first of the devices Elbert warned me about. Mindful of his description of receiving a shock, I sneaked around it, but there were many more ahead of me to deal with.
I managed to avoid the enchanted Dwemer pots or whatever they were, but then I came to a long corridor in which the things were stuck into the walls, making it impossible to avoid triggering their hostile enchantments. 

Very careful experimentation revealed that they shot fireballs at anything nearby, so I simply ran as fast as I could down the dirt hall, fire exploding behind me. I am sure it made for a very adventurous sort of scene, but I was only wondering why I had bothered helping Alvan to begin with.

The lady that everyone had been troubled by was waiting for me in a large room at the end of my fiery gauntlet. She screamed that she had rid herself of the others and would rid herself of me too, so that nobody but her would have "it"...whatever that was. 

We were a fair distance apart and she picked up a Daedric bow and a sheaf of arrows I had not noticed laying on the ground next to her. Before I could react I was dodging surprisingly expensive Ebony-tipped arrows inexpertly shot in my direction. Poor of a shot though she was, even a glancing hit from such a powerful weapon would cause me grievous harm, so I dispensed with my usual strategy of creeping into melee range.

I was confident that my skill with a bow was greater than hers, even if I had a simple Bonemold bow and steel arrows against her Daedric war-bow and Ebony arrows. Her full suit of volcanic glass and steel armor made my task even more difficult, but eventually I managed a lucky shot right into her throat, ending the poor lady's madness forever. I left her weapons and armor with her and dashed back through the corridor of fire traps.
When I finally stepped outside the manor into Godsreach I found Alvan nervously waiting for me. He said that the guards had come and removed the Ordinator's body, but refused to descend into the sewers, not that I can blame them. I told him of my dangerous trek through the sewers, ending with the unfortunate death of his friend. He took the news well, only commenting that she was likely too far gone to save. I never learned her name, nor what "it" was, but this sad story is over.

One of the larger buildings in Godsreach is a nearly empty museum that the curator tells me is the 'Museum of Artifacts'. The goal is a lofty one and there are many pedestals to display artifacts upon, but right now there is only a single artifact: a largely useless weapon called 'Stendarr's Hammer'. The hammer was massive, larger even than the Sixth House's massive bell hammers and I was told it took four men to lift it on to the display pedestal. I am promised a decent price for any artifacts I sell to the museum and I was given a list of ones the curator is interested in. I believe I have two already: the Fang of Haynekhtnamet, which I found in a Sixth House base and the Boots of Blinding Speed, which were given to me by someone with a unique sense of humor. But I do not have them with me and their sale will have to wait.

My last order of business was to find out who the "H" was who contracted with the Dark Brotherhood to kill me. I suspect it is King Helseth himself, but only because there is no one else whose name begins with an 'H' that would have any reason to want to see me dead. Why the King would is a mystery, but one I am intent on solving.

Naturally the King himself is unavailable to be spoken with by just anybody, but his Captain of the Royal Guard, Tienius Delitian, is. I chose to approach him with the contract I found on the body of the Dark Brotherhood assassin and the Captain did more to confirm my suspicions than any amount of searching I could have done.

He outright admitted that the King, for some reason, saw me as a threat and issued the contract against me. Tienius then rushed to tell me that the best way to solve this little misunderstanding was to prove my "loyalty" to the throne. I suspected he merely saw an easy way to take care of some of his own problems and I was absolutely right.

In order to prove my loyalty to King Helseth I first had to speak to the people of Mournhold to determine how they felt about King Llethan's death. Most of the people I spoke with were hesitant to talk ill of the new King, but several spoke more openly about their belief that King Llethan's death was not a natural one. I was given a pamphlet called 'The Common Tongue' that described several suspicious deaths of Helseth's rivals in the West and accused him of being responsible for the deaths of over a hundred people.

Tienius was pleased to receive the pamphlet, though I cannot say how he has failed to find one until now, they are all over the Great Bazaar. His next task was for me to find someone in the Temple that could act as an informant. Tension between the Court and the Temple has been rising recently and Tienius lacks someone to give him inside information, as it were. I thought it unlikely that anyone would trust me enough, but I agreed to give it a try.

As it turned out, I did not need someone to trust me, I just needed to be someone that looked like they would listen. I was allowed to speak with everyone at the Temple and as I was talking with a Dunmer who I shall not name here, I noticed that she seemed sad. When I asked her if there was anything I could do for her, words suddenly rushed out of her. She was doubtful of Almalexia's benevolence now, whereas before she celebrated the return of the Tribunal among mortals, she now felt that there was a cloud over Almalexia's head. She described the demi-god's words as "dark and bitter" and feared what the future held for the Temple.

She also stated that King Helseth was not and would never be accepted by the Temple and that a violent confrontation between the Court and Temple was inevitable. I thanked her for speaking openly with me and she agreed to contact me should anything important occur.

I was hoping that was the end of Tienius little loyalty tests, but he had another job for me. After thanking me and frowning a lot over my news from the Temple, he confessed that he had doubts regarding the loyalty of some of his Royal Guards. The new King does not seem to be an inspiration kind of person. 

As before, I was asked to bring people into my confidence so that I could determine where the disloyalty among the Guards lay. It was suggested that I pretend to be from House Hlaalu and looking to join the Guards, laughable as that was to me. But Tienius felt that would be enough of an opening for a fool to reveal himself to me, so that is what I pretended to be.

One guard, Ivulen Irano, suggested that I speak with Aleri Aren about my Hlaalu connections, but not to mention either himself or Aleri to Tienius. Not very subtle. When I spoke to Aleri she denied any knowledge of why my being Hlaalu would mean anything to her and promised to have a word with Ivulen about it. Even more suspicious! Following a hunch, I went to the guards' quarters and looked around a bit. Sure enough, there was a note penned by Aleri which specified when she, Ivulen, and another guard named Milvela were stationed together in the throne room. I decided this was incriminating enough to give to Tienius.

And that was still not enough! Yet another task was waiting for me when I returned! It is a wonder the city has not already collapsed upon itself with no Khajiit rushing to and fro solving all of these stupid problems. But if this is what I have to do in order to confront Helseth, then I will put up with Tienius's petty jobs.

Again another similar job to the last, this time to uncover disloyalty among the Hlaalu nobles residing in Mournhold.  Tienius asked me to visit the late King's widow's home in Godsreach, Llethan Manor, to see if I could uncover some evidence of a conspiracy to overthrow Helseth. Given what I had been learning of the man I thought this entirely possible.

The manor was unguarded and the object of my quest in plain sight. This too was a letter, penned by a person named 'Bedal Alen' to a 'Forven Berano'. It explicitly stated that the Dunmer assassins, the Morag Tong, would be contracted for an attempt on King Helseth's life and that if they failed, Forven himself would have to become the assassin. And this letter was not hidden at all! I am glad people seem to be a great deal stupider in Mournhold. 

Tienius wrote three official writs of execution for Forven, Bedal, and a Nord called 'Hloggar the Bloody'. To make a long, boring story much shorter I tracked the first two of the three down and told them to leave Mournhold forever, lest death stalk them. The pair nearly wept with relief and left the city immediately. I do not mind helping Tienius prop up his crooked King, it is of no great concern of mine either way, but I will not murder for him. He wanted these people gone and so they are. Should I be questioned, I shall only say that someone must have warned them prior to my coming, for they had already fled. I need only find Hloggar now, but the night was already old when I started on this venture, so he will have to wait until tomorrow.

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