Saturday, February 22, 2014

Morrowind Day 79 - A Relaxing Walk Around Ghostfence

2 Sun's Dusk
Yesterday I had attempted a walk around Ghostfence starting towards Ghostgate and following the barrier around Red Mountain. I did not get far due to my lack of knowledge about the terrain coupled with a Blight storm, courtesy no doubt, of Dagoth Ur.

This morning I started in the opposite direction: away from Ghostgate and towards the outpost of Maar Gan, where I had hoped that the land would be more navigable in that direction. The journey started as they usually do lately, with me fighting off blighted creatures as I struggle forwards. This morning was particularly cruel, for the creatures I faced looked to have been simple men once, but the Blight had twisted them into mindless, savage monsters. They lacked the cunning aggression of the servants of the Sixth House, so I assume these three men were unfortunate victims of an infected animal, maybe a blighted rat or Nix Hound. 

I found two of them before reaching Kogoruhn and the third afterwards. I hope their deaths released them from the torture their lives had been transformed into.

I made good time and passed Kogoruhn fortress by early afternoon. Exploring it today was tempting, but I promised myself I would return tomorrow and walked past, eventually coming to a path I had not noticed before leading closer to Ghostfence.
The path curved upwards and crossed several small chasms by way of old and seemingly unreliable rope bridges. It was after the second rope bridge that I released the third Blighted man from his terrible fate.
Even a Kagouti would have noticed that the Blighted men were outside Ghostfence. I am willing to allow for diseased rats and cliff racers outside of the Fence without raising much alarm, but these men plus the Daedra I have been encountering while on the plains is a sure sign that there is a breach somewhere in the Temple's holy barricade.
Thankfully, the last rope bridge
The sky began to darken and storm as I crossed the day's final rope bridge and within minutes I was once again engulfed in a Blight storm. Fortunately the path was much easier to follow than the day before and I continued walking along the Fence, surprisingly meeting nothing along the way. I finished my patrol at Ghostgate late in the evening, having walked the entire perimeter of Ghostfence and finding nothing at all.

I believe Kogoruhn still has secrets I have yet to discover, so the finding of these is the task for tomorrow. After that, I will start visiting the coastal villages, a task I have absolutely no enthusiasm for, but one that I believe is necessary. Such is life.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Morrowind Day 78 - The Planning Stage

1 Sun's Dusk
The documents provided by Vivec have shed a lot of light on the infestation of Red Mountain and what I need to do in order to 'save' Morrowind from Dagoth Ur's blight. I spent this morning reading everything that was provided to me and came up with a plan of my own.

The first document detailed what the Temple believed to be Dagoth Ur's ultimate plan for Morrowind. They helpfully broke down the plan into categories and I have noted on a separate document and in this journal what I believe my response to each of Dagoth Ur's goals should be. Below is my transcription of the Temple document.

Dagoth Ur's Basic Objectives
  1. Establish a theocratic government based on the worship of Akulakhan/Second Numidium (note to self: what is this?) to be created by Dagoth Ur. The resulting unification of the Dunmer would then be used to drive the foreigners out of Morrowind. The Temple document points out that this belief mirrors that of the long-dead Dwemer priest Kagrenac, whose enchanted tools are in posession of Dagoth Ur. I would speculate that Kagrenac may be acting through Dagoth Ur by influence of the tools, but who knows?
  2. Expose the false worship of the Tribunal and destroy the Temple as a religious and political organization.
  3. Eliminate all foreigners from Morrowind.
  4. Recover the ancient Dunmer territories in Skyrim and Argonia.
  5. Extend the religion of Akulakhan/Second Numidium to Tamriel.
Unfortunately I have no clue what form this Akulakhan/Second Numidium thing is supposed to take. Is it a device? A creature? A piece of armor or a weapon? I do not know yet. I remember hearing about something called 'Numidium', but I have forgotten what little I had heard. Whatever it is, the Temple seems to think Dagoth Ur is close to finishing the crafting of such a thing, so time is certainly not on my side here.

Dagoth Ur's Plans for the Sixth House
  1. Secure Red Mountain against intruders
  2. Expand the Sixth House's influence through dream manipulation, targeting coastal villages and the waterfront districts of Vivec. Willing followers from the poorer groups of society are being consciously approached by Sixth House agents. The Temple's document singles out the Dunmer fortress Kogoruhn as Dagoth Ur's largest base outside of Red Mountain.
  3. Expand from coastal villages to inland towns and send cultists to occupy abandoned places.
  4. Utilize assassination to eliminate high-ranking officials in the Imperial and Hlaalu organizations.
Having been within Ghostfence, I can attest to the security of Red Mountain against adventurers, but I have been able to make a respectable amount of progress with mapping its interior. The second item does a lot to clear up the mystery of the babbling people I have encountered and I need to make their release a priority. The fishing villages (unfortunately) require my attention as well.

Vivec's own document, optimistically titled 'Plan to Defeat Dagoth Ur' is really just series of broad steps to recover Kagrenac's tools, Sunder and Keening. I would call it more a series of instructions than an actual plan, for it makes the recovery of the tools sound as simple as walking into the Red Mountain ruins, picking up the tools, and walking out. I have yet to be able to complete a single patrol around the inside of the Ghostfence, so I do not think I would survive an attempt to recover these tools just yet.

The tool 'Wraithguard' that Vivec gave me appears to be a normal Dwemer armored gauntlet and is a very awkward fit. I will not be wearing it until it is absolutely required.

These are the objectives I have set for myself:
  1. Complete a patrol of the area outside of the Ghostfence to probe for weak points and possible routes of entry/exit that may be unknown to the Temple.
  2. Visit each of the coastal towns and search for smugglers' dens/mines that may be harboring Sixth House agents. This will take a lot of time without paying for boats, but Folm's ability to send me to the Dunmer fortresses might make up for it.
  3. Visit each of the inland towns and interview people in an effort to identify those experiencing disturbing dreams. Their presence may indicate a nearby Sixth House base, but I do not know how far Dagoth Ur's control reaches, so my assumption may not be true.
  4. Assault fortress Kogoruhn once again. If Dagoth Ur is using it as his main operational base outside of Red Mountain, then it stands to reason that there is some way to pass between the fortress and the inside of Red Mountain that has escaped the Temple's notice. I need to find this way and either close it or exploit it for my own use.
  5. Raid the ruins of Red Mountain to acquire the tools of Kagrenac, Sunder and Keening.
Objective number one is the easiest. There is nothing I have yet encountered outside Red Mountain that has caused me any great alarm, even immediately bordering Ghostfence. I was resolved to walk entirely around the outside of the Fence and explore any tombs or mines I came across.

The land around Ald'ruhn does not lend well to walking and I wound up having to use my levitation amulet more times than I anticipated, just to get over a particularly steep hill or across a small gorge. It was obvious that the Ghostfence was something of a rushed thing, for it cut right through several paths that used to be roads leading into Red Mountain.

I did find a tomb built just outside the Ghostfence and I admit to being pretty excited at finding an underground entrance to Red Mountain so quickly. But it was just a regular ancestral tomb with a few undead guardians, the skeletal remains of a would-be looter, and no treasure to write of.
My walk around Ghostfence brought me to Ghostgate by early afternoon and I decided to stop in for supplies and information about the interior of Red Mountain. I entered the Temple's tower, the Tower of Dusk, first and received a much warmer welcome from them than I have been in quite some time. They admitted to the situation being very confusing to them, but Lord Vivec's confirmation of me as Nerevarine was all the Temple needed to lend me their support. Some of the Temple's acolytes were selling scrolls and potions, including several each of healing and restoration, which I purchased.

I was not able to get detailed information from anyone within the tower, other than that there were five ancient Dwemer strongholds within Red Mountain, each ruled by Dagoth Ur or one of his kinsmen, the Ash Vampires. Each of the strongholds are named for the Sixth House lord occupying it: Endusal, Odrosal, Vemynal, Tureynulal, and Dagoth.

A Buoyant Armiger standing in the Tower of Dawn eating area provided me a map of Red Mountain listing the compass points were each ruin could be found with Dagoth Ur's citadel at the center. Useful, but the accompanying illustration was a bit of a mystery, for it was really a map of the entire island and I do not know what point it served.
Surprisingly, there was an old Imperial Legion veteran named Wulf visiting Ghostgate. He looked exhausted, but when I caught his eye he motioned me over with a slight smile. He greeted me more amicably than I have been in a long time, describing Ghostgate as a "hell of a place" and asked why a Khajiit would be visiting. Thinking the man was friendly and drunk, I told him the complete truth: That I was recognized as the reincarnation of the Dunmer warlord, Lord Nerevar, and I was at Ghostgate to gather what information I could about confronting and defeating Dagoth Ur. He laughed uproariously and slapped me on the back (a first for me) and exclaimed what terrible luck I had to draw that lot. He explained that he had served in the Legion all his life and had always wanted to see the cursed Red Mountain of Morrowind, but after finally making it to Ghostgate, he found his health and age prevented him from going any further beyond. He asked that I carry his lucky coin with me when I defeat Dagoth Ur as a sort of memento to the warrior he used to be. I agreed and he handed me a very worn coin, wishing me luck with a grin. I did likewise and walked upstairs to talk with some of the Buoyant Armigers.

When I came back downstairs after fruitlessly quizzing the warriors about the Red Mountain, Wulf was gone...and no one could remember ever seeing him at all, even the woman tending the bar where he had been resting. Very strange! Holding the coin makes me feel optimistic for my own journey and I hope the aged warrior is relaxing at somewhere safer than Ghostgate by now.

My journey around the exterior of the Ghostfence continued after lunch and the weather was unusually clear. From a small hillside outside Ghostfence I could just barely see the Red Mountain citadels of the Sixth House.
The weather did not last long. A Blight storm whipped up without warning minutes after leaving Ghostgate and I became disorientated. I stumbled around the unfamiliar ground as best I could, but I had to conclude that Dagoth Ur had won one over on me today. It was simply too dangerous to proceed forwards without being able to see.

I recalled back to Ald'ruhn and spent the rest of the evening repairing my equipment and going over my plans again. Tomorrow I will try to walk around Ghostfence starting from the west side rather than the east as today and hopefully complete the patrol so I can start visiting the coastal villages soon.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Morrowind Day 77 - The Plan to Defeat Dagoth Ur

30 Frost Fall
I woke at Zainab Camp earlier than usual due to the hunters leaving before dawn. I left the camp as they did and walked towards Tel Vos. It was not long before I came across a woman huddled by a campfire and I assumed she was a bandit. I approached, confident of my ability to overpower a single individual, but she proved friendly, identifying herself as a Daedra worshiper. She admitted that she worships what the Temple refers to as the 'bad Daedra' and offered to teach me a little about the Daedra and her life as a cultist. I declined and went on my way. In another encounter we may find each other fighting to the death, but I am not about to start slaying people simply because their beliefs conflict with mine.
Further on I was attacked by a bandit duo armed with chitin clubs...again. I don't understand where all of them keep coming from, nor why I look to be such an appealing target for their ineffectual violence. I would expect word to somehow get around that bandits have been found dead at their campsites and for everyone to be a bit more wary. But no, I can reliably expect Dunmer armed with clubs to attack me. It might be sad if it were not so infuriating.

Between their campsite and Tel Vos lurked a lumbering Ogrim Daedra which charged at me from atop a hill, giving the massive creature great speed and momentum. Unfortunately for it, the speed came at the cost of being unable to slow down or change direction effectively and I neatly dodged the creature's attempted ambush.

I fired arrows into its back as it attempted to use its stubby legs to stop running away from me and the creature took a lot of arrows before it was able to come at me again, though slower this time. By the time it came within melee distance I had shot over twenty steel arrows into it and it only took a few stabs with my spear to finally fell the huge Daedra.
Luck was evidently not with me today, for almost immediately after the Ogrim I found myself under assault by a powerful Golden Saint Daedra, whose battle was placidly observed by a guar foraging for food nearby. Curiously the Daedra was armed with an enchanted glass long sword...and a plain netch leather shield. My summoned Daedric Spear tore the shield in two with one strike and the Saint seemed a bit confused by this and did not fight very well.
My reward for the perilous journey to Tel Vos was one hundred Septims and a very useful amulet enchanted with a levitation spell. It will save me from having to purchase expensive levitation scrolls and potions, as well as from casting my levitation spell which is as weak as can be while still remaining useful. Despite its weakness, my success at casting it is sporadic at best.

I recalled back to Ald'ruhn and went to the Mages Guild in order to be sent to Vivec to meet with the Archcanon of the Tribunal Temple. I tested my new levitation amulet and floated from the top of the Foreign Quarter to the Temple canton, noticing for the first time two large statues of a Dunmer in prayer built on the roofs of the cantons in front of the Temple canton. I wonder how many of Vivec's citizens have ever had a cause to look up and see them.
My contact was a healer of the Temple and explained that the Ordinators might still cause trouble for me and to avoid confrontations. Her advice on the best way to do that was not particularly encouraging. Ordinators were stationed at the two entrances to the Archcanon's private quarters and she suggested sneaking by them via stealth or magic. A second option was to find the private entrance via the canton's canal sub-level and unlock the door. I had arrived with no idea what to expect, but a need to sneak about the sewer system of the Temple canton to meet with the leader of the Temple certainly was not it, but was the path I chose.

The entrance was surprisingly easy to find and my spell unlocked it with no trouble. The Archcanon was not shocked to see a slightly damp armored Khajiit walk into his room and he insisted on immediately speaking about the Temple's doctrine regarding the Nerevarine, a subject he had little to actually say about. His role was that of a facilitator between myself and Lord Vivec, who was really the one who wanted to talk with me after I completed the Trials. The Archcanon gave me a key to Vivec's chamber and hurried me back out the door.

Meeting Vivec was not at all within my expectation for today but I hurried to the Palace of Vivec too quickly to have time for worry about coming face-to-face with someone as close to godhood as I am ever likely to meet. In appearance the man, if you could call him that, is certainly striking: half of him appears Dunmer and half what I can only guess is the ancient and disappeared Chimer race. A blue flame constantly burns about his head, though he seems untroubled by it and it gave off no heat I could feel. 
His voice sounded like it a chorus of Dunmer speaking just slightly out of unison, but he was easy to understand. I would like to have recorded in my journal the whole of our conversation, but he said too much to be able to write all of it down.

He immediately stated that he would end the persecution of the Dissident Priests and of the Nerevarine, proclaiming that I, in name, am the reincarnation of Lord Nerevar  and the last hope to defend Morrowind from Dagoth Ur. Quite a gesture on his part. He then gave me the choice of accepting the responsibility of defeating Dagoth Ur or not...a question which felt slightly out of order to me. I have come too far now and done too much to not accept and my reward was a Dwemer gauntlet he called 'Wraithguard'. 

His plan to defeat Dagoth Ur sounds deceptively simple: fetch two artifacts (weapons called Sunder and Keening) from Dwemer ruins at Red Mountain, then use the two artifacts, while protecting myself with Wraithguard, to destroy Dagoth Ur's source of power within the core of Red Mountain. I am greatly summarizing the actual plan of course, the details of the plan's execution are my responsibility.

He provided four scrolls to me, but it felt rude to read each one while he waited for me. I will read them diligently tomorrow and build my own plan as to how to implement Vivec's strategy. 

One would think this would be the end of my day, but it was not so: it was only early afternoon when I walked out of Vivec's chambers. Once again I teleported back to Ald'ruhn and deposited Vivec's gifts in my house. Surprisingly, Galsa had a new update for me. The construction of the stronghold has been completed and I now had to hire guards to garrison it. She recommended I speak with the drillmaster of the Ald'ruhn Fighters Guild, an imperial named Percius Mercius, who would probably know of a few Redoran warriors looking for employment.

Of course, nothing is as simple as it should be. Percius did know of several guards looking for work, but would not recommend me to them until I broke a friend of his out of prison deep within the Hlaalu canton in Vivec. The arrangement did not seem an equal trade to me, but I had little choice but to accept.

Freeing his friend wound up being a lot easier than I anticipated. The Hlaalu prison was open to visitors and staffed only by a single Ordinator. I was allowed to speak with Percius's friend,  Frelene Acques and she was confident of being able to make her way out if I provided her the key to the cell. Hlaalu must be more accustomed to their criminals buying their way out of jail, for their security precautions were laughable: they key to the cells was on a table at the far side of the room. The Ordinator busied himself with a scroll on the jailer's desk on the other side of the room, so it was a simple task to walk to the table and slip the key into my hand on my way by. The Ordinator never even looked up from the scroll he was reading and completely failed to notice one of his two prisoners receiving they key to her cell.

I told Percius that his friend would be meeting him in a few days and he took my word for it, declaring that he would send the best of the unemployed fighters to live at my stronghold. And that was the end of what should have been a much longer tale. Galsa said she would start the next phase of my stronghold construction after I told her the guards would be there shortly. How long this phase will last and what strange tasks will be required of me remains to be seen.

By then it was late into the evening of a very long day, so I have retired home earlier than usual. Tomorrow I will go over all the documents Vivec has provided and come up with a plan of my own to defeat Dagoth Ur.