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, January 21, 2005

Day Thirty-five: Ruined at the Daedric ruin

Today I hid from destiny and returned to the simple life; mapping the coast and hunting in the swamps. That was the plan when I arose this morning anyway. The islands that the Dwarven tower and Daedric shrine lie on are part of a chain that arcs out into the sea to the southwest, and I put all my concerns aside and set out to explore that chain. I did not get far.

By mid morning I had passed the familiar ruins, skipping from outcrop to outcrop using my spell of water walking. I came ashore and began my explorations of the larger islands of the chain. Sketching maps, watching the netch float peacefully about, skewering the occasional cliff racer, gorging on mudcrabs; I let my cares drift. Not like I stopped thinking about them; the Dark Brotherhood, the Cammona Tong, my responsibilities to the Blades, Ranis Athrys persistent use of me as a thug for the Mage Guild. In little over a month I have become thoroughly embroiled in the swirl of Morrowind events. Such were my thoughts as the twisted towers of another Daedric site rose ahead of me. I am not alone in being affected by these troubled times. Like Addadshashanammu this site has been revitalized by a new Daedric cult, gathered in secret to worship and empower the bad Daedra.

A Daedric shrine, with a cult of worshippers, provides a powerful portal between planes of existence. This access allows the Daedric servants who are normally only seen when summoned by conjurers to roam freely into our plane. Fortunately this particular shrine seems to have only attracted the relatively weak scamps rather than the voracious clannfears and fearsome atronach I faced before. Scamps can be dangerous as they do have sharp claws, but they tend to panic when struck solidly which makes them easy to finish off. Much easier than the high Elven conjurer who I encountered near the entrance to the shrine. I suppose I should have known from Holmgeira's initial hostility the other day that I would not be welcomed with open arms by a Daedra cult.

Before I could even say hello, the Altmer conjured a horribly misshapen creature. It was familiar, similar to the creatures I encountered in a tomb, but seeing it with the bright sunshine reflecting off of its oozing flesh made it all the more horrifying. The conjurer called it a bonewalker. Gasping sounds that may have been words tore from the beast's ragged throat, and I could feel my own muscles sag with decay. Desperately I hacked at the creature with my spear as the conjurer scrambled to a safe distance. The bonds that held the monster in pseudo life failed quickly under the onslaught of the devil spear, but the ill effects it had had on me remained. My spear was a terrible burden in my weakened hands as I charged the Altmer. Had he fled I am sure I could not have endured a chase.

Rather than flee the villainous Altmer opted to conjure another bonewalker. This time I would not allow myself to be distracted. Knowing that the spell would be broken with the fall of the conjurer I drove my spear with all my remaining strength into his unarmored chest. He jerked violently, like a gaffed fish, but clung to life. The bonewalker struck, and my limbs weakened even further. The devil spear which had served me so well became too heavy to hold and slipped from my desperate grip. I lunged forward onto the collapsing Altmer, praying that as we fell the spear lodged in his chest would twist its way into some vital organ and end his life. The ragged gasping of the bonewalker sounded in my ears like eerie laughter. Then it faded off as if to a great distance. The Altmer was dead.

I pulled myself across the corpse to get a grip on my spear. The effort left me near exhaustion, and I could not escape the sickening stench of the blood that had welled from the conjurer's shattered heart. With weakened gestures and shuddering incantation I cast my recall spell. When I appeared on the deck of my shack I abandoned my spear, and rolled free of my bow and quivers as well. Exhausted legs struggled free of my bonemold boots, and I dropped my bloodied clothes into the sea. I struggled to my feet and dragged my pack inside to be left at the door. I could not trust my strength for a cleansing dip in the ocean, and struggled into a rough robe and light sandals with only a cursory wiping off of the gory mess. My brain fogged with exhaustion and I could not trust myself to cast the spell on my own. I drew a scroll from my pack and read, unleashing the mystical energies that would sweep me across the distance. As I appeared once more in the courtyard of the Balmora temple I collapsed in a heap.

Although Feldrelo Sadri, Mistress of the Temple, has taken a strong disliking to me, she did not refuse me when some of the other temple priests half carried me to the Tribunal Shrine. I made a humble offering and the power of the Tribunal was invoked to restore my strength and endurance. I tried to press some additional gold on the priestess in gratitude, but that was clearly a mistake. Judging by her strident rebuke I would be well advised to stay clear of her presence. I suspect nothing short of joining the Temple as an initiate will appease her. Fortunately I have made friends among the lesser priests on my various forays to the city, and Feldrelo's ire did not keep them from assisting me once we were safely out of her sight. Their assistance was of course not free; they clearly do not share their leader's distaste for 'ill-gotten adventurer gold'. I learned an array of spells which will allow me to recover my strength, endurance, or any other attribute lost in battle with undead or Daedric monsters I may encounter. The spells are a bit complicated. I may have to spend some time improving my restoration skills.

When the dinner gong rang through the Temple I thanked my benefactors and headed for the guild hall. I immersed myself in the camaraderie with a sigh of gratitude. I don't think I could live there, but it is so nice to be a welcome visitor. Galbedir has apparently forgiven me and we had a lively conversation about charging soul gems. She has ambition, but it is tempered by her taste for fancy robes and the comforts of the guild hall. She does not seem inclined to the dirty work. The way she listened to my tales of cliff racers and netch I had faced, with ooohs and ahhhhs and her small hand gripping my arm...well I clearly understand how men fall prey to the charms of the wood elves. She made me feel heroic.

After dinner Ranis called me aside. She is so protective of the guild. She had mentioned the unsanctioned healer who was offering training before, and had obviously gnawed at this problem continuously in my absence. In her office she got right to the point; "Bren, what's your status with the thieve's guild?"

I stammered a vague reply. I haven't been a member of the Thieve's Guild since leaving High Rock, and even there I was just a token apprentice registered by my father. "Ranis, I would not join another guild!"

"Relax, relax, I'm not trying to find a reason to purge you from the Guild. There is an Argonian offering training at the South Wall Cornerclub. I know you have frequented the South Wall, and I'm sure you've noticed that many of the patrons there are...a bit unsavory."

I could see where this conversation was headed. "Yes. The South Wall is clearly the local hangout for thieves. I think I know the Argonian you mean. Quiet, like most of his kind. His name translates as Only-He-Stands-There. Ranis, I've made some friends at the South Wall. I don't want to go in there and kill this Argonian."

She looked a bit irritated, but shrugged. "Who said anything about killing the lizard? We aren't a band of thugs." I couldn't help replaying in my mind the numerous times Ranis had said 'or kill them' at the end of her requests. "You say you have friends there. Talk to them. Talk to this Argonian healer." I was familiar with her expression as she said this. Whenever Ranis mentions anyone with any skill in the mage's arts who is not in the guild she looks like she just bit into a piece of spoiled fruit.

"I'll talk to him. I'm sure this can be worked out." I scampered out of her office before things could get any more strained.

When Ajira heard that I was headed for the South Wall she invited herself along. I was happy for the company, and the South Wall usually has an abundance of Khajiit. The cat people are often skilled in the thieving arts, so a hangout for thieves can usually be identified by looking for them. I thought of the taciturn Wadarkhu in Gnaar Mok, obviously a ranking member; and from what I had gathered a Khajiit called Habasi runs the guild in Balmora. Ajira seemed sympathetic, and I found myself telling her about feeling like Ranis was using me as a thug more than a mage.

"But good friend Arvil Bren," she purred, "you are so brave, and face so many dangers. Ranis can not help but be impressed." She laid her paw on my shoulder, extending her claws to very gently rake my skin. Suddenly I had a twinge of foreboding about what Ajira and Galbedir might be betting on now. She did give me a valuable suggestion. Her friend Edwinna is the guild steward in Ald-ruhn, and Edwinna is more interested in research than the recruiting and politics. I could probably improve my standing by assisting her without having to browbeat anyone into the guild.

Overall the evening went well. Only-He-Stands-There was agreeable, after a few drinks, and will curtail his training. I'm sure he isn't really going to stop, but will be far more circumspect and probably limit himself to members of the Thieve's Guild. Arriving with an affectionate Khajiit on my arm raised my status with Habasi, who I am now certain is in charge around here, and she directly offered me an opportunity to join the Thieve's Guild.

On the way back to the Guild Hall Ajira was again embarrassingly admiring, this time praising my diplomacy with the Argonian. She also commented on Habasi, but lapsed into the gutterals and hisses of Khajiiti. I caught a bit that might have referred to 'scratching her eyes out'. We had both drank a fair quantity of sujamma; Galbedir was glaring again when we boisterously returned; and Ranis was satisfied with my brief report. Discretion is the better part of valor. I transported home rather than risk the sleeping chambers of the hall.


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