This is the autobiographical journal of Arvil Bren, a somewhat reluctant hero who has been placed on an unknown quest by powers that he barely knows exist. Follow his journey as it is updated daily, Monday through Friday, and enjoy! These are the most recent entries in Arvil Bren's third journal; Politics of the Redoran. His first journal can be found in its entirety here. His second journal, Trail of the Archmage can be found here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Day Seventeen: No home for me

So much for moving to Hla Oad. That town demonstrates the cuddly warmth of a mudcrab. I am bedding down on board the Harpy as a passenger of the shipmaster Baleni Salavel, bound for Gnaar Mok. It seemed a better choice than trying to make camp in the dark.

I arose before dawn, eager to start wrapping things up in Seyda Neen. I even squandered precious magica to transport myself using my recall spell rather than taking the strider. Stowing my city clothes and gathering my travel gear took only a few minutes and I headed out to Hla Oad, planning to accomplish two things along the way. It is certainly time for me to move on. I found myself studying the faces of anyone who was out at that hour. Who was surprised to see me? Were they just surprised because no one saw me return, but here I was walking out of my shack? Or was there something sinister, perhaps a watcher for the Dark Brotherhood? I must move on before I start killing people for looking at me strangely in the street.

By mid-morning I had arrived at my first objective, the tomb. I had first found this tomb the same day I found the Tharys family crypt, and remember thinking on the day I first entered that subterranean nightmare that I would explore them both in one day also. Then I learned first hand about skeleton archers and ancestral spirits. Today I learned firsthand about another undead guardian in the tombs of the Dunmer. I don't know if these horrors are constructs of the interred dead, or the lingering remainders of previous tomb robbers. They walk, shambling in a misshapen human way. Skin hangs from them in patches, but they are mostly made up of the naked muscle, oozing fluids that glisten in the torchlight. In places there are protrusions of bone. They speak in guttural moans and gurgles from their wasted throats, emitting harrowing curses that left me weakened and discouraged. In the first chamber of the tomb I was set upon by a pair of these terrifying monsters, and before my wildly thrusting spear could dispatch them they were joined by another, and then another.

Are they constructs, made from the flesh of the dead? When they are struck by a weapon it seems their flesh parts easily, but wounds do not slow them. Only the enchanted devil spear was effective, and it battered through not their flesh, but a magical binding energy that I believe gives them life. Amidst their decaying flesh I found soul gems, which could be the core around which the flesh is bound. I wonder though if that is truly their origin, because I fear I may have been on the way to becoming one. I seem to have contracted something, from contact or their curses. I felt weak, exhausted, and it appeared as if my skin was beginning to grow soft and rotten, taking on a brownish tone. I could imagine, if allowed to continue, that it would soon be hanging in ragged strips much like the skin of my adversaries. I quickly used a curative spell from a scroll, which solved the problem, but I wonder if without that restorative magic I would have ended up a replacement for the guardians I had dispatched.

Like the first, this tomb contains a shrine to Saint Veloth. There are other similarities in construction and the burial process, with large urns supported on block shaped altars used to inter the dead and numerous upturned spears sporting the ancestral skulls. There are differences though, in the size and layout of the tomb. The Samarys clan, to which this tomb belongs, is apparently larger and wealthier than the Tharys clan. The burial urns are for more numerous, somewhat crowding a double entry chamber connected by a short hall. In the second entry chamber I found the shrine, and a door to the innermost crypt. When I opened the door I was beset by a skeleton warrior, this one armed with a broadsword and shield, who I calmly dispatched. After the horrors I had faced a skeleton warrior just did not seem as much of a problem as in my previous encounters. The shorter reach of the broadsword offered ample opportunity to drive my spear through its defenses and it was soon reduced to a pile of dust and bones.

In a place of honor at the far end of the inner crypt, alone on a stone alter, stands an ornate burial urn lidded with a seal promising serious damage to the unwary. I tripped the trap with a well insulated iron probe I carry just for such occasions and let the energies dissipate harmlessly. The inscriptions on the urn identified the contents as one 'Lord Brinne', and the local spectral population murmured their displeasure as I poked through the distinguished ashes. Buried in the ashes I found an ornate ring set with purple stones. Could this be the lost Mentor's Ring? Cautiously I placed the ring on my finger and immediately I could feel the powerful magic that gave it its name. My will and intellect have been augmented, giving me greater access to and control over all areas of spellcasting. My first intended task of the day was complete, and a resounding success.

From that time to this nothing has gone well. Every attempt to climb into the coastal mountains behind the tomb was thwarted by their steep slopes. All afternoon I circled, trying from every side, following narrow ledges, leaping for imagined footholds. As the sun dipped in the west I conceded defeat and followed the road towards my destination. In the gathering darkness I lost the track more than once, and were it not for a seemingly endless flock of cliff racers I would probably have just made camp. Pressing on I arrived at Hla Oad, only to find that the local tradehouse is a front operation for a criminal syndicate known as the Cammona Tong, everyone in town knows it and no one cares, and as a non-member I was about as welcome as a stray slaughterfish in a bathing trough. Fortunately I found the Harpy ready to set sail, and took passage more for the bunk than the transport.


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