Monday, March 9, 2015

Morrowind Day 122 - The Smother Goddess

14 Evening Star
After spending months trying to rid Vvardenfell of Dagoth Ur's Blight storms, I found myself fighting to create a benign version of the mad man's "blessing" over the skies of Mournhold for another increasingly mad god.

Almalexia's reaction to the 'End of Times' cult was a bit extreme: concerned that the people of Mournhold is losing faith in her, she demanded that I descend into the Dwemer ruin where the creatures swarmed out of. It was not to find her missing Ordinators, but for me to find a weather-controlling machine that could bring an ash storm to the city. Once the storm descended, her people would look to her for relief, I imagine I would be told to stop the machine, and Almalexia would bask in the grateful worship.

At least, that's what I think her plan is. I have not been in Mournhold long, but she has grown increasingly distraught every time I see her, occasionally muttering about her "loyal subjects" having turned away from her.

But her apparently instability still left me with no choice in the matter: it was back underground once again. 

Yesterday's battle between the city's invaders and the ruin's guardians ended with no clear victor. The ruined machines of both sides littered the chamber with only two Dwemer spider guardians left "alive". As I watched, they dutifully proceeded with what must have been their original purpose: tidying up the place. The two spiders worked tirelessly to place the bodies and parts of bodies of both sides into neat piles, stopping only when two silvered arrows thudded into their shells from above.
Other than scrap metal there was nothing of any value on the battlefield, so I left their remains in peace and began my search for the Dwemer's weather-controlling machine. While I have not been inside a large number of Dwemer ruins, this complex felt very oppressive and foreboding and I was on edge the entire time, despite there being almost no surviving mechanicals to worry about.

No, this ruin was a great deal different than the ones on Vvardenfell in that there were plenty of remains of its Dwemer inhabitants scattered ashes. Piles of ashes dotted the entire ruins, complete with whatever equipment the former owner had been wearing. However their end came about it was apparently quite sudden, for it appears that many of them were simply occupied in their daily tasks when the Dwemer race came to an abrupt end.

The nature of the ruins did not help my feeling of being watched either. With no volcano to build around, the Dwemer were free to construct this stronghold in the way they preferred to: large square rooms and large straight halls. Very bland, but it gave me the sensation of somehow being very small.

I did find a sheet of parchment with plans for something that greatly resembled Louis's wrecked airship, but the scroll looked as though it would crumble into dust if I even looked at it too hard, so I had to leave it alone. Scattered around were tightly bound bags of what clearly smelled like blasting powder which I used to clear passages through sections that had collapsed.

Further inside I found a partially-constructed...something that resembled a massive suit of armor. Perhaps it was to be the latest in Dwemer war machine designs, but its engineers lay in ashes at its feet, a slumbering giant fortunately never to be awoken.
The weather-controlling machine was deep in the ruins, but like the rest of the place, almost completely unguarded. The only controls seemed to be three levers set in front of the only place Almalexia's powered coherer fit. 

My confusion as to why the levers were installed for the user to face away from the machine was quickly satisfied. I expected something on the weather-controller itself would indicate what weather was being somehow generated, but true to the Dwemer's love of doing everything grandly, the entire wall of the massive room rotated to display a stone-cut of the weather the user selected. The noise was deafening, but I eventually pulled the right combination of levers to rotate a picture of an exploding volcano in front of me. This had to be the ash storm Almalexia was looking forward to.
I used a Scroll of Divine Intervention to bring myself in front of the Imperial Cult shrine, saving myself the drudgery of walking back out and immediately confirming that there was an ash storm over Mournhold.
If Almalexia was hoping for a crowd of worshippers to congregate at the Temple's doors, then she must have been disappointed. The few people that spoke to me while I walked from the palace's courtyard to the Temple merely commented on the "strange weather" and wished me a good day if they were not a High Ordinator or told me to keep out of trouble if they were. No one, not even her own guards, seemed to think that Almalexia was a solution to this new problem, if they even thought of the storm as a problem at all.

The goddess herself was rather magnanimous when I returned with the unnecessary news of my success, crooning that I had done well in serving "my goddess", of which she certainly was not, then immediately threatening me to keep my mouth shut about the machine. She stated that the storm would remain until she had decided the people of Mournhold had learned their lesson. She crowed that no other God had displayed such dominion over earth and sky and I almost replied with "Dagoth Ur", but caught myself.

After basking in her own glow for a few minutes, Almalexia graced me with yet another job I was supposed to be happy with having to complete and this one was a bit grim at that. One of her High Ordinators apparently started seeing through her facade and deserted his post, raving like a madman himself in Godsreach about Almalexia's pending mortality or lack of godhood or something equally distasteful to her.

I thought to save the Ordinator, Salos Valor, from a near-certain death by suggesting he leave the city, but I never had the chance. Something about me immediately enraged him and he attacked me as soon as I started speaking, calling me "her favorite". 

The High Ordinators only admit the best warriors and mages and Salos Valor had been the best among their ranks. The battle turned out to be somewhat of a farce though, with me running away as quickly as possible while discarding my armor and he following me with incoherent words of rage. Eventually I was able to scamper up the side of a house and shoot the poor man full of silvered arrows in full view of a wary, ashy crowd. Hardly a dignified end for Salos, but it was no more dignified than being chopped in two by his scimitar. 

I may have only been gone for half an hour, but Almalexia's demeanor was completely different when I returned. Her dismissive arrogance was gone and replaced with something far more uncomfortable. After basically murdering her former High Ordinator for her, Almalexia was all welcomes, declaring that only the Nerevarine could have accomplished all that I have for her, then declared that I was her long-dead lover, Lord Nerevar, come to reclaim our places as rulers of Morrowind.

This was all starting to sound familiar, with the exception of the part about being her mate. I preferred Dagoth Ur's cordial hatred to Almalexia's sudden outburst of affection.

Almalexia told me of two blades, 'Hopesfire' and 'Trueflame', one of which was given to her as a gift during her wedding to Lord Nerevar, the other to the Lord himself. Nerevar's blade was 'Trueflame', but while Almalexia kept her own blade safe, the same could not be said for Lord Nerevar's, which is now in pieces. She said that 'Trueflame' had been broken during the Battle of Red Mountain, but she had one pieces, which she gave to me and the remaining two pieces somehow managed to find themselves back in Mournhold, an amazing coincidence.

It was late in the day, but I thought I would be staying in Godsreach anyway, so I visited Torasa's museum in hopes that she would have some advice on how best to begin my search.

She did better than provide advice: she told me she had pieces of a Dwemer shield that did not seem to fit together and suggested that a piece of the blade might be hidden within it. However, she asked for a donation to  the museum before she would hand it over and not a cash donation, but a donation of two artifacts.

I had none on me (why would I?), but after reading through a book she provided me I realized I had a few back in Ald'ruhn. My handy amulet sent me effortlessly back to the Redoran town and I gathered up the 'Boots of Blinding Speed' and what must be the 'Fang of Haynekhtnamet' I had found in a Sixth House trough long ago. I am hoping these two humble-looking items will be enough to convince Torasa to part with her Dwemer shield. If not, I suppose I could always complain to Almalexia and have her murdered. 

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