Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Morrowind Day 123 - The World On My Shoulders

15 Evening Star
I woke this morning at Ald'ruhn surrounded by clutter both worthless and valuable intent on delivering some of it to Mournhold in exchange for what is likely a piece of Lord Nerevar's broken blade. But the thought of traveling back to the dismal city ruled by another mad god of the Dunmer was sufficient reason to divert myself to a place only slightly less hated. Solstheim.

The island is a much quieter place since Hircine's little game was thwarted, so perhaps I don't hate it like I used to. Still, I do not think it is going to be warmer any time soon and I still do not enjoy my time there. However, it made for a good distraction today and kept me out of Almalexia's city for one day, so at least it has that going for it.

Still burdened with the artifacts I had hoped to be rid of at Mournhold's museum, I walked from my small Redoran manor to the north coast to see about securing passage aboard S'virr's smuggling vessel. As luck would have it, he was busy loading his ship with crates as I arrived. For a few Septims and an hour of helping his load his ship, I was back on my way to the icy land. The crates were labeled 'Foodstuff', but I am not sure what food I would want to eat that rattled and clanked as those crates did on the way over.

The little colony of Raven Rock has made much progress since I saw it last and everyone there seems fairly pleased to be there. The tradehouse I recommended be built had been completed, but no merchant has yet been found to take up residence.
When I spoke to Falco about any tasks he might have for me, he brightened and suggested that I go to the fort so that I could tell Carnius that the tradehouse is waiting for an occupant. Unsurprisingly, Carnius holds the deeds required for anyone to open a business at the colony and he has been less than helpful in finding a wayward merchant to open up the store. 

By the time I walked back from the fort to the colony it was already well into the early night, but Falco was still pacing fretfully as he always does. There was another problem. The ship that Carnius hired to replace the one that ran aground arrived at Raven Rock yesterday, but the captain refused to unload his goods or load the colony's ore until he received additional payment. Falco refused and the two men had been at an impasse all day today. Naturally Falco thought I could re-arrange this matter to his advantage.

The captain was a very boastful fellow with little to support his arrogance, the kind of man that seem to exclusively inhabit the worst inns and drinking halls of every major city in Cyrodil and never one to be a friend to Khajiit. After speaking to him for a few minutes I knew this was going to be no easy task unless I resulted to murder, which Falco helpfully warned me against prior.

His name was 'Baro Egnatius', a fact delivered with pride enough to propel his ship back home, though I saw nothing to be particularly boastful of. He told me that he would not accept what Elberoth was being paid and demanded more. The name sounded vaguely familiar, but I could not place it. Fortunately, Baro was the gregarious type, as many Imperials are. 

Elberoth was the Bosmer the undead Nord had been making a meal of several days ago. He was the captain of the first ship and according to Baro a "hell of a fighter", but offered little more than that. I decided to ask the only surviving member of Elberoth's unfortunate voyage.

Apronia outright laughed when I described the former captain as a skilled warrior. She said he had been a completely incompetent captain and spent more time describing his likely imaginative combat exploits than sailing the ship effectively. Perhaps he was in the middle of a tale when he ran it aground. According to her, he lasted for about three seconds against the Draugr, enabling her to scoop up his saber and defend herself, which explained the dead Draugr I found in front of her. Impressive, really.

She still had the blade under the considerable volume of her gown, but said she had no skill or use for the thing anymore and gave it to me. I was at a loss as to what I needed it for as well before a rather cruel idea grew within my mind.

Brandishing Elberoth's saber, I sauntered up to Baro and stuck the point of the sword just under his chin, loudly declaring that he was not the only captain to underestimate Shema: Khajiit and renowned scourge of  the coasts of  Vvardenfell. If he did not agree to Falco's demands, then I would have no choice but to run him through and sell his cargo to Falco myself!

Of course I had no intention of killing the man and I felt Falco's stare at my back as he had specifically told me not to kill anyone. But Baro's bravado collapsed like the facade it was and he started stammering that he was only joking, it was all a misunderstanding, and so on, that he would happily unload his cargo right now and load Raven Rock's ore for sale to the mainland. 

Falco had watched the whole exchange and was nearly laughing while thanking me for resolving another tiny crisis for his colony. My reward was a healthy one thousand Septims, making me wonder what Baro's demand was to make it so unreasonable.

I thought my day over then, but Falco had a more pressing matter than uncooperative captains on his hands. He had been reviewing the mine's logs and the numbers were not adding up. Falco suspected theft, specifically a miner named 'Uryn Maren'. I was given the key to the man's house and told to take a look around, but I found nothing that indicated he was stealing. He was obviously not at home and there was not yet an inn to be drinking at, so I assumed Uryn was still working in the mine.
He was, not with shovel or pick, but a canvas sack I watched him stuff rough-hewn chunks of stone embedded with ebony ore into. I waited until he entered a dead-end to confront him and he comically dropped the bag in shock, spilling all the ore he had been furtively hiding away. He readily admitted to stealing the ore before I even had a chance to open my mouth, babbling that Carnius had put him up to it, threatening to kill the man if he did not cooperate. This sounded unbelievable to me, even for Carnius, but Falco revealed that the true suspect the whole time was Carnius, not Uryn. Evidently relations between the two men have been dropping faster than I expected.

Carnius laughed off Uryn's confession as the fictional story of a madman and liar, but I have not the energy to walk back to the colony tonight. I will deliver Carnius's completely useless response to Falco tomorrow. Everything I have done today could have easily been done by far less adventurous individuals, yet it seems people delight in saving these petty problems just for me to solve.

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.