Friday, June 27, 2014

Morrowind Day 94 - Ever the Wanderer

17 Sun's Dusk
Welcome or no, sleeping at the Erabenimsun tribe's camp was not a relaxing experience. Probably something to do with my killing a decent percentage of their menfolk not too long ago. Everyone seemed happier with them gone, but it was an uneasy thing for me. I woke from a restless sleep earlier than usual and set out while it was still pitch-black out.

The path from the camp led to a crossroads, towards my left was a Daedric shrine tucked neatly along the curving hills that surrounded it. Though I knew I would not find the dagger there, I spent some time working my way through the Daedra-infested ruins so that I might be able to replenish my purse once I find a decent alchemist. Equipment repairs are expensive and my limited skill with the hammer does not go far.
I managed to salvage two Daedra hearts, distasteful as they are to retrieve and entered the shrine expecting to find a few cultists and maybe some gemstones. The risk versus reward of the shrines are, in my experience, quite similar to the Dwemer ruins and therefore best avoided. Today was no exception to this rule, for all I found were four bandits with cheap equipment and a single diamond. Hardly worth the effort and time.

Returning to the crossroad I turned to my right thinking I was heading south towards Molag Mar and Suran, but I reached another dead-end, this one with a tomb and skeletal guardian.
Guardians outside of the tombs usually indicate there is something inside that the family absolutely wants to keep from leaving. The single skeleton had a simple iron broadsword and shield, making it barely a danger to anyone strong enough to survive in the area. Inside, however, was a very different story.

A Fire Atronach and Clannfear were waiting for me just inside, providing a decent challenge as I struggled to dodge the Atronach's fireballs and Clannfear's razor-sharp beak. Eventually I was backed into a corner by the Clannfear, but this worked out more to my advantage as the Atronach (surprisingly) did not fling fireballs so long as the other Daedra was in the way. I dispatched the Clannfear with my short sword, then moved to engage the Atronach before it could start with its fireballs again. 

My life has never left much room for humor, but I had to laugh at what I found next. Whether intentional or accident, someone had summoned a massive Daedra, an Ogrim into a room off of the main chamber whose doors were too small for the creature to fit through. This little fact did not seem to occur to the monster, for it continued to try to squeeze through the door while roaring and flailing at me.
Shooting it full of arrows seemed the most merciful and safest thing to do. Even I had some trouble fitting through the doorway with the Daedra's corpse in the way, but I managed. Beyond was an altar with a skeleton laying upon it, another unusual find for a Dunmer tomb, and next to it was an old, rusty dagger.
I have no way of knowing if this particular dagger is what I have been tasked with finding, but I am taking it with me on the chance that it is and on the chance that I even find myself at that shrine once again.

Electing to skip Molag Mar I turned west, finally heading back 'home' as it were. I happened to be fortunate not to encounter anything between the tomb and Suran worth writing about and walked underneath the east gate of Suran late into the evening. It is nice to be at an Imperial town after the Ashland camps and Telvanni plant-towers, but skipping Molag Mar for Suran leaves a great swath of land to the east of Molag Mar still unexplored. I have ventured from my original plan to walk the coast, but I have been receiving diminishing returns for my efforts as of late and am growing somewhat discouraged. 

Though I am several days away from Ald'ruhn it feels as though my journey is close to an end. I have destroyed a few Sixth House outposts, but I did not really accomplish as much as I anticipated. The entire experience did show that my equipment needs to be upgraded before I can be expected to survive within the Ghostfence and my catalog of spells need to be reworked as well. 

Always things to do. Writing this reminded me of the stronghold being built for me by the Redorans. I wonder how that is coming along.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Morrowind Day 93 - Wandering about for Mehrunes Dagon

16 Sun's Dusk
The Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon had hinted that the dagger I was to find was somewhere in a tomb near Molag Mar, the small outpost on the south coast. I certainly have no great love for Daedra, be they good or evil, but there is a certain excitement in dealing with such a powerful entity.

As exciting as it might be, fulfilling his request is not a high priority, but I decided to explore any tombs I found south of Falensarano while on my way to Molag Mar. If one of them held the item that the Daedric Prince was seeking, then so be it. One day I am swearing an oath not to waste any more time visiting tombs, the next I am scouring each one I find for a ruined dagger.

Falensarano sits right in front of the 'gate' into the southern ashland leading to a path that winds and curls around the side of the foyoda to the west, occasionally interrupted by pools of lava bubbling to the surface. The land itself is just as dead as up north, consisting mostly of ash and a few hardy plants whose leaves pose almost as much danger as the cliff racers that constantly flit about the rocks laying about. 

Fortunately the weather was calm and spotting the tomb doors carved into the hillsides was not a difficult task. I came across the first tomb almost as soon as I left the fortress and it was quite an interesting encounter.

Initially the tomb seemed to be identical to most of those that I have visited: skeletal guardians, dozens of urns, and maybe a gem or two laying around. Never anything grand. That this tomb would end up being different was hinted at by the rather recent corpse in one of the first rooms. Whoever he had been, the man (or woman I suppose) died in a rather explosive manner, for the remains of clothing and armor was plastered on the wall opposite the body along with a great deal of greasy black ash. Only the bones, blackened by the magical discharge, and a short sword remained intact. How the robber met his end was no mystery, for the door the corpse was laying in front of was trapped with a powerful lightning enchantment. The thief must have tripped the enchantment, instantly killing him. I, of course, simply disarmed the trap.

It is just as well that the man made it only as far as he did. The door opened to the largest chamber of the tomb which was occupied by an Orc clad entirely in Bonemold and surprisingly wielding a magical staff. He attacked me immediately, roaring a battle-cry as he charged at me, but the staff failed to register the blows he must have thought he was dealing. It is a rather light weapon and not one suited for a wielder as powerful as my opponent. A normal staff would likely have shattered harmlessly against my armor.

I could not tell what the staff is enchanted with, but I am taking it with me to have Galbedir identify it, along with many other items. By the time I find myself back in Balmora I shall be emptying a sack of equipment upon her desk. 

Keeping to the hillside I continued south from the tomb and passed a Dwemer ruin perched dangerously close to a large pit of lava. The guardian statues did not seem at all concerned and having sworn off of Dwemer ruins for life, neither was I.
Further to the south was the Dwemer ruins where I had destroyed a group of vampires and found my Dreugh cuirass. Was it weeks ago? Months? I cannot remember, but there was no point in retracing steps already taken. I instead headed east past an abandoned mine and a Telvanni tower and slew a female Daedra with my bow from across a river of lava.
Continuing south around the lava I found my final tomb for the day, but it did not provide me the dagger I have spent the day looking for. Instead, it provided another crazy person in Bonemold armor who needlessly and fatally attacked me. This one was a Nord wearing an unusual helmet: a troll's skull, probably taken from a troll in Skyrim. His skull-helm is powerfully enchanted as well, but with a Conjuration effect that I have no chance of understanding at all. Another item for Galbedir, but what am I supposed to do with all of these things afterwards?

I had hoped to reach Molag Mar within the day, but the sun had retreated when I left the tomb with the troll's skull slapping against my pack. The camp of the chaotic Erabenimsun tribe was directly to the east of the tomb and very close, but I did not know what sort of welcome I would receive there.

The welcome was rather friendly actually and I was able to get some of my equipment repaired by one of the local warriors before settling in at the wise woman's tent for the night. She had little to say to me other than a solemn reminder of my duty to go to Red Mountain and confront Dagoth Ur and I could do little but assure her that my duty has not been forgotten.

There is only one path for me tomorrow and it still leads to Molag Mar. I will continue to explore any tombs I find along the way, but if I do not find Mehrunes Dagon's dagger then he will have to find some other errand-adventurer to fetch his artifact, powerful though it may be.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Morrowind Day 92 - The Haven of Falensarano

15 Sun's Dusk
The east side of Vvardenfell has always struck me as rather less "visited" by the Empire compared to the west. Imperials are not often seen at the Telvanni outposts and the other races are represented only as mercenaries or the occasional trader. As for Argonians and Khajiit, it is best not to dwell upon their fate.

Today has given me several reasons to think upon the negative aspects of the Telvanni's domination, chiefly the frequency of Daedra I encountered today. On my last stay in the area I thought they may have been the result of the Sixth House loosing them to sow chaos, but now it's far more likely they are simply the result of errant experiments, though no less dangerous for it.

While walking from Tel Mora, I had to fight not just one Daedra, but four: three powerful Golden Saints and one of the winged Daedra. I tested my prowess against these formidable opponents by deigning to use my spear, instead engaging all three of them with my typically unused silvered stabbing sword. It felt nice to be fighting with a light, maneuverable weapon, but if I am to use a blade against opponents such as these in the future, it will have to be stronger than silver-plated steel. My restoratives were sufficient to refresh me between combat, but the battles dragged on far too long with the sword.

The average Imperial soldier would not have fared well against any one of the Daedra in single combat, but the preferred tactic is to engage Daedra with a mixed unit of troopers, archers, and mages, at least a dozen strong. I do feel somewhat satisfied at dispatching enough Daedra for fifty soldiers, even if they were each alone.

I had previously stayed mostly to the coast when I was last here visiting the Zainab tribe, so I changed my plans a bit and ventured into unexplored territory south of their camp. The area is surprisingly vibrant for being so close to Red Mountain and there are trees that grow so high that the eye can barely see the leaves at the top. It is an interesting sight, one perhaps unique to the area.
I reached Falensarano fortress just after noon without being assaulted by any more Daedra. Until today, this fortress had managed to escape my visitation, but the site's location at the mouth of the southern ash-land marks it as a valuable stopping point should I be called to Molag Amur, as the region is named.
Far more accustomed to bandits and the Sixth House's monstrous garrisons, the enemies within Falensarano surprised me. For one, the upper level of the fortress was empty save for a single Nord who has taken up residence in one of the larger rooms there. I heard him talking to himself as soon as I stepped inside the fortress and followed his voice intending to strike him down with the aid of my invisibility spell.

Fortunately, something about his mannerisms, plus his lack of armament, gave me reason not to be so bloodthirsty and he greeted me jovially while I trained my spear at his throat. He had come to pillage the ruin, only to find that a group of witches had beaten him to the fortress, killing the previous occupants and using the lower level as their summoning chamber. He was able to slay their summoned Daedra, but reached a compromise with them that leaves the upper floor all to himself. An odd arrangement, especially for a Nord to make with magic-users.

I had no such arrangement and their presence complicated my own plans, so naturally I needed to pay them a visit...and fight more Daedra. I was immediately set upon by a Golden Saint Daedra wielding a glass halberd when I entered the lower level, but I kept with my short sword and easily got inside the reach of the cumbersome polearm. 

The witches' lavish bedrooms indicated they had been at the fortress for some time and it was well garrisoned by a variety of Daedra, a Daedroth and two Clannfear fell before I even met a single witch, but I eventually surprised one studying in her bedroom. How she failed to hear the combat that had been raging in the room next to hers, I'll never know. She summoned a Bonewalker, which has long since ceased to be a threat and she foolishly rushed me with a dagger alongside her summoned creature. She had nothing of much value on her aside from her clothing, which was very finely made...and useless to me.

There were three others, all dressed in similar finery and all equally foolish. There was nothing of value in the whole place, save for a Dwemer spear I won in combat from a Dremora. The fortress is now clear and I should be able to safely use it in the future, at least until some other group decides to take up residence. The Nord, whose name I wound up never getting, was pleased to hear that the witches were gone, for he confessed that their summonings made it difficult for him to sleep. I gifted the man five hundred Septims and asked him to stay as a sort of unofficial guard. He seemed happy enough with this.

It was late into the night when I walked back outside and I did not look forward to walking back to the Zainab camp across the Daedra-infested plain. So now I'm in the brightly lit Propylon chamber with a magical lock on the door, preparing to sleep on the stone floor. I have heard bards sing of the many comforts of adventuring, but I have yet to experience such a thing. Somewhere south of here is the dagger that Mehrunes Dagon asked me to find and I shall attempt to find it tomorrow.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Morrowind Day 91 - A Brief Interlude

14 Sun's Dusk
I overslept this morning for the first time since joining the Auxiliaries years ago. I suppose I needed it and perhaps even deserved it, but it felt strange to wake up closer to lunch than sunrise. As it was, I left Dagon Fel at ten in the morning according to the innkeeper, still feeling fatigued.

It is a good thing then that today was so uneventful. I walked across the water towards the mainland, bidding a certain and final farewell to Sheogorad  and encountered nothing save for some floating debris from a ship long claimed by the sea.
Like most Telvanni settlements, Tel Mora is more plant than village, requiring excellent balance to walk along the vines that serve as stairs and levitation should one wish to speak to the eccentric Telvanni councilor, Mistress Dratha, which I did not. 

Speaking as a Khajiit, there is not much to recommend visiting the Telvanni aside from their apothecaries, which are always well-stocked. True to my recent luck, the local trader had an unexplained infestation in the form of a Corpus-infected man that the shopkeeper had managed to trap in her personal quarters above the store. How he got there was not something the Bosmer female wanted to explain, perhaps he had been a friend she hoped to cure or maybe she had been hoping to harvest the poor creature's flesh to sell.

Whatever her motive and method, the shopkeeper Berwen wanted the thing gone and asked if I would be willing to do the deed. The task was simple and my target was a few seconds away, so I agreed. It proved even easier than I thought, for she had done an excellent job in barricading her staircase with crates. With no way to leave, the Corpus-man continually moaned and lunged at me ineffectively as I mounted the stairs. One merciful strike from my spear ended it's non-life and I dragged the corpse into the water outside, where it was devoured by slaughterfish.
Berwen was very appreciative of my small effort and gave me a steep discount on her wares, most of which I purchased in an attempt to mix health restoratives, which I am always low of. My novice efforts did not amount to much result, but I felt that the experience gained in the art made the cost worthwhile.

After spending an hour in Berwen's shop mixing my potions, I visited the actual apothecary and purchased more ingredients and from the blacksmith I bought some repair equipment.

And that was my entire day. It started late and I am ending it early, for it is barely eight in the evening and I am turning in for the night. I sought only to escape Sheogorad today and prepare for my expedition further south, both of which I have accomplished. Tomorrow I shall concentrate my effort inland, south of the Zainab tribal camp. The fortress of Falensarano guards the passage into the southern ashland and will likely be a great advantage to me in the future if I can ensure it remains clear of slavers and cultists. This will be my priority for the next day and as such I do not expect to cover a great deal of distance tomorrow, probably lodging either with the Zainab or at Sadrith Mora and hopefully seeing Suran before the week is out.