Saturday, January 17, 2015

Morrowind Day 117 - Backtracking and Sidetracking

9 Evening Star
Too much of my time at Mournhold has been spent running errands that seem increasingly petty even if the person I am doing them for thinks otherwise. This morning I woke up with a part of yesterday still pending completion: the "apprehension" of the Nord known as 'Hloggar the Bloody'.

Inquiries among the Royal Guards patrolling the city pointed me downwards into the city sewers once again, specifically an area known as the 'West Sewers' off of the main Godsreach sewage system. Adventuring in Mournhold is apparently never a dignified affair.

Nor a lucrative one. The ladder in Godsreach leading into the sewers deposited me among a large pile of crates and barrels, but all of them were rotten and empty. Goblins, my dear old foes from Cyrodiil, were plodding about aimlessly just ahead, but had not noticed my arrival. After two of them dropped with arrows in their necks a short, but fierce, melee with the survivors was ensured. The long reach of Hircine's pike gave their stubby blades no chance of landing a blow. It was the first time I had fought against anything I had encountered in Cyrodiil, making me feel oddly wistful for my simpler days as I wiped blood off of my spear and armor.
Some of the goblins were accompanied by what could be best described as the Nix-Hounds' stronger, larger cousin. Whatever they were, they moved fast and hit hard, and were a much greater danger than their handlers, though fortunately far fewer in number.

My quarry was in an unfinished, or perhaps recently excavated, part of the sewer system, hiding in a small cave of his own. He was just as brash as I expected him to be, boldly asking me what I was going to do about him being a part of the conspiracy I had uncovered. I simply told him I had been sent to kill him, but would rather not if he would like to make some sort of escape.
He appeared confused for a moment, that laughed and called me one of the "good guys", as if such a thing actually existed. With a cheery wave, he activated an amulet of Recall he must have hidden on his body and disappeared from Mournhold, hopefully for a long time.

With all three of the conspirators "executed" I returned to Tienius to bring him the unfortunate news that all three of them had already made their escape, leading me to suspect a leak of information from within his guards. I received no reward, but then I had also failed to do what he asked, so I suppose that is fair.

Naturally he had yet another thing for me to deal with, this time to track down the author of the 'Common Tongue' pamphlet so that I could 'peacefully' force them to stop printing such obvious lies about their glorious King. I fear I am growing ever more cynical by the hour so long as I stay in this city.

The guards were of no help this time other than to suggest I stop wasting their time and start wasting the time of someone who knows about books and letters. The bookstore in the Bazaar was the obvious next step. In turn, the bookseller pointed me towards the pawnbroker, disdainfully stating that a person of 'shady reputation' such as he would be more helpful.

Shady reputation or not, the pawnbroker, an Argonian amusingly named 'Ten-Tongues Meerhat', was very helpful. Ten-Tongues makes it a point to personally know everyone in Mournhold, if such a thing is possible, but the name connected to the 'Common Tongue', Trels Varis, is not known to him nor to anyone else he asked. He first heard the name within the Craftsmen's Hall, so that was my next stop in this increasingly exasperating job.

I discreetly searched the Hall while pretending to view the wall tapestries and a particular door caught my notice as being very conspicuous owning to the large sign hanging on it that simply said "KEEP OUT". When I asked blacksmith about it he said that behind the door was a closet where he kept his more valuable supplies. He could not look me in the eyes as he said this, so I suspected there was more behind the door than ingots and hammers and a locked door is more an invitation to a Khajiit than a hindrance.

He was not lying, the door did open to a closet with a shelf of raw Ebony, but he failed to mention the trapdoor. The hinges were well-oiled and the door opened with barely a sound. The ladder descended only about eight feet and the sound of papers and whispers floated upwards. Confident of what I would find, I quickly climbed down the ladder and was confronted by four very surprised Dunmer, all of which comically looked away, pretending not to see me, save for Trels himself.
Trels asked me why I was in his well-kept secret office and threatened that my death was an acceptable way to keep it a secret. I revealed that I was there to get him to stop printing lies about the King, but he stated that he only printed the truth and there was nothing I could do to prevent him from continuing to print it.

My suggestion that three thousand Septims would stop him was met with disbelief, then suspicion, but I had not come unprepared: three sacks of coins, each holding one thousand Septims, was withdrawn from my pack and dropped on to one of his tables. I then announced that any further publications of the 'Common Tongue' would be met with a blade instead of coins. Trels assured me that he and his co-workers would move out of Mournhold immediately and I climbed back up the ladder, promising to return to the hidden office in two days.

Tienius was pleased that I had avoided bloodshed and awarded me my money back, plus an extremely valuable (and as always: heavy) two-handed Daedric sword he called "King's Oath". It is a nice gesture, but I am at a loss to decide how to dispose of it.

He had also finally run out of things for me to do, but my work had caught the attention of Queen Barenziah and I was asked to speak with her for further work in the name of the monarchy of Morrowind.

I knew the woman to be of high renown and have paged through her biography once, but other than that she was a complete mystery to me. I was allowed in her chambers and she welcomed me with the poise and grace I suppose a Queen would have to have. Her request was not to work for the monarchy, but for me to work for the Temple so that she would better know what they were up to. I doubted they would allow someone who has already worked for the Royal Guard's Captain, but I agreed to try. The Queen warned me that Almalexia's steward, Fedris Hler, was more than he appeared to be and was rumored to have been an assassin before coming to the Temple.

Assassin or not, Fedris either had not heard of my work for the Palace or he did not care, for he agreed to employ me in completing odd jobs for the Temple. I was picturing sweeping the steps or something equally mundane, but I was once again sent down into the sewers, this time to verify the rumors of an army of goblins being trained by King Helseth. Once I located their camp, I was also to eliminate the two goblin war-chiefs leading the tribes, as well as the two Altmer trainers, if I could find them.

This I had much less of a problem with compared to eliminating the King's conspirators. Goblins were an ever-present threat in Cyrodiil and their presence in large numbers always made for a rather bad day. Whatever his motives, I cannot see the King training an army of the creatures to lead towards anything good for Mournhold.

Asking around I was finally given the suggestion to look within the sewers of Godsreach, where the city's less reputable citizens reported seeing one or two of the nasty little monsters. It did not take me long to find a small camp of three goblins in the Godsreach sewers. They were surprisingly well-equipped, for goblins, each of them carrying a weak health restoration potion, but none of them were any more difficult than I expected.
The sewers ended at a section of wall that looked very different from the rest of the sewers. It was made up of very large stone blocks instead of the small, uneven bricks of the sewer. The thick metal door set into the stone screeched horribly as I forced it open and beyond lay the ruined city of Old Mournhold.

Old Mournhold could be called the 'original' copy of the city. I remember reading that long ago during the First Era, Mehrunes Dagon opened up portals to his plane of Oblivion, allowing his hordes of Daedra to quickly overwhelm the defenders of Mournhold. Two of the Tribunal, Almalexia and Sotha Sil, traveled to the besieged city and drove off the invaders, but not before the city lay in ruins. In time a new city was built atop the ruins of the old and the sewer wall may have been part of the original battlements from eras past. Now it was just a wet, leaky wall with a creaky door.

Beyond the wall lay the skeletons of adventurers long since dead, many of them crushed beneath rocks that had come loose from the ceiling above.
The door may have been a sally port, for the corpse-strewn corridor opened up to a giant plaza, just like the city above. Whatever it used to be, there were a dozen goblins using it as a campsite, eating hall, and toilet, all within a few feet of the other. Truly disgusting. The mouth of the corridor lay above the plaza, giving me a great vantage point to rain arrows upon them. The few that survived my barrage found themselves scrambling uphill into my spear. 
None of the goblins fit what I figured the war-chiefs would look like, so I proceeded through a door on the far side of the bloodied plaza. The door led me into a rough-hewn rock chamber with a waterfall that disappeared into the rock beneath me. Just beyond I found the first war-chief, a hulking brute of a goblin that surprised me by flinging a fireball at me. Fortunately the creature was relying on a weakly enchanted ring and the fire did little more than singe my fur. 
The second of them was further along the way and I dodged his fireball before spitting him on my spear. With both war-chiefs dead the goblin army was effectively leaderless and I had little doubt that a great battle would erupt among the goblins as they fought to decide upon their next chief. 

The two Altmer mercenaries were my next targets, but proved much easier to find. I slew the second war-chief in a small plaza with some half-ruined buildings on the far side and both trainers were staying in the same house. They well well-armed with Ebony weapons, but evidently neither had anything to be wary of and I was able to sneak up to them. The first Altmer died with a gurgling rasp as my simple steel dagger sliced across his throat and the second succumbed to close-range shot from my bow.

That was minutes ago. I have no idea how late in the evening it is, but it certainly feels like it has been a long day. I am bedding down in what might have been a room for one of the Altmers, but I think I will only take a short nap before making my way back up to the surface. It occurs to me that one of the scrolls that transports its user to the nearest Dunmer temple might have gotten me back to Mournhold, but I have no such thing. Something to keep in mind for tomorrow after I report back to Fedris.

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