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.

Friday, December 31, 2004

Day Twenty: Dumb as a kagouti

Today has been a day of running. My time in Morrowind has certainly improved my conditioning. A steady stream of restoratives helps too. I could jokingly say that I ran like the Dark Brotherhood was chasing me, but I wouldn't be able to laugh. Well, safe here in the guild hall I probably could.

The Priggage docked in Hla Oad shortly before dawn. I had no reason to talk to anyone there, so I set out resolutely for Seyda Neen. On the way I mapped out the area from the village to the river Odai, which seems to be some sort of nesting ground for the cliff racers, which attacked me in swarms. My healing belt served me well, as I could heal near instantly and move on where previously I would have had to seek shelter and rest.

Once I crossed the river I was in familiar territory. As I ran along the base of the coastal mountains a feeling came over me, a strange dissatisfaction. Whatever the purpose of Nine-Toes mapping project it would probably be well enough served by just noting this area as 'mountains, impassable'. That weighed on me though, and a new sense of determination welled up in me. I will survey those mountains. With that determination came the beginnings of the plan which has me here in Balmora tonight.

Driven by my sudden urge for completion I added a brief dash across the water to map out some rocky outcrops visible offshore. They turned out to be barren; too small to serve any useful purpose. Adding them to my map added to my own newfound sense of purpose though, and I was glad to have made the slight detour. After making my landfall I rushed on to Seyda Neen, arriving in time for lunch at the tradehouse.

Having settled on spending a little more time before my move to Gnaar Mok I was faced with the prospect of sleeping in my familiar shack, which I had come to consider as marked with a bullseye on some map in Dark Brotherhood headquarters, wherever that may be. I suppose not wanting to sleep there was at the root of my thoughts over lunch, as reasons to make a trip to Balmora boiled to the surface one after another. Gnaar Mok is even more remote than Seyda Neen, I should get all my spears sharpened before I go. Someone at the Mage's Guild should have some idea about surveying impassable mountains. I have a handful of soul gems charged with the energies of cliff racers, perhaps I could get another item that would turn out as useful as my belt.

With all of those thoughts rushing about my conversation with Raflod and Elone, who are both widely traveled, naturally turned to ways to get to Balmora. My only experience had been taking the silt strider, but the two scouts debated the virtues of the roads and cross country paths they had taken. When Ajira set me to the task of collecting flower samples she had suggested the road to Suran along the shores of Lake Amaya as a good place to look. I already had two of the four she specifically requested, and asked my guides if the various roads they were discussing would lead me to areas likely to yield the others.

Armed with Elone's assurances that I could reach Balmora by nightfall, and likely find Ajira's flowers growing alongside the road, I took off at a steady jog. Heavily laden with all of my spears it was a tiresome run. Since I had no desire to camp in the wilderness tonight I pressed for a fast pace and used restoratives to maintain my energies rather than stopping to catch my breath when I grew fatigued. I also reasoned that any assassin following me out of Seyda Neen would be hard pressed to keep up.

My only respite came when the road was clearly blocked by a fearsome looking creature. I halted some distance away after angling off into some underbrush. The creature stood on two powerfully muscled legs, its oval body suspended between. The hide, mottled on top and creamy white underneath, looked to be very thick but pliable, especially around the leg joints. I surmised that the beast would be surprisingly fast for such a behemoth. A bony pointed snout and two long glistening tusks made me suspect that I would not fare well if it ran me down. I considered working my way around through the brush, but Elone had said there were many roads in the area, and while they are clearly marked at junctions I could get lost if I stumbled out of the brush onto the wrong road. Willing my aim to be steady I stepped out into the road with my bow in my hands.

My aim was true enough to get the monster's attention, but the shot fell higher than I had intended and glanced off the thick hide of its back. It raised its head from its browsing, and uttering a horrible bellow charged down the road. Thankfully, as the creature hurtled down the road it continued to raise its head high to scream out its challenge, exposing the wide pale breast. I buried shot after shot, wondering how much punishment the oncoming horror could withstand. With a final shot I tossed my bow to the ground and quickly unslung the sharpest of my numerous spears. I crashed the butt of the spear into the soil to make a divot and braced it with my foot. Bearing down with all my weight I laid the point low. Without hesitation the snout and tusks passed over the tip, and I leaned quickly to lift it into the belly. The weight of the fast charging beast hit the spear and the impact sent me sprawling to the ground. It also drove the spear completely through to emerge in a gush of blood from the thick hide of the back just above the stubby tail. The entry was a long rip in the softer underbelly, and the beast's entrails glistened in the sunlight as it thrashed on its side in the dirt.

I marveled at the four arrows protruding from the breast, only three of which were mine. The fourth was surrounded by thick scar tissue, a memento of a previous encounter from which the beast obviously learned nothing. This evening, when I was describing the incident to Ajira she laughed her purring Khajiiti laugh and said "now friend Arvil Bren, you know the meaning of the saying 'dumb as a kagouti'." There is a market for kagouti hides, and clearly a market among the kagouti for brains, though they don't know it.


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