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.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Day Thirty-six: The puzzle box

I rose with the dawn this morning and again transported myself to Balmora. I could no longer ignore the call of duty and destiny. The time had come to return to Arkngthand in search of the puzzle box. I hoped that the looters had found it, and even more wildly hoped that they would just turn it over. While I was at it I might as well have hoped that a cliff racer would glide down from the skies and clarify the mysteries of my life for me.

I jogged to the ruins and turned the crank to reveal the doors. I crept inside. My goal was to meet the looters from the head down. The layout of the main entry cavern favored me. Lying on a ledge I watched the building which forms the east side of the huge hall. The main operatives continued their work on the lower level of the building, occasionally climbing to the second level to disappear through a round iron door. Behind that door, I believed, would be the head man of the group. I used my levitation boots and floated down to that upper platform, completely avoiding the sight of the operatives below.

I quietly explored before venturing through the door. The Dwemer built everything with metal it seems. A desk, which would have been stout and sturdy in any material, stood here placed for the ages. Tables, chairs, a small stove; all in the same grey steel. The mundane metal of the furniture served as background for the intricately worked cups and pitcher which graced a shelf, and a gleaming spear which leaned against the desk. The keen edges and delicate balance of the spear were a joy in my hands. Exploration complete I took a brief admiring look at the view out into the cavern, then turned to the round steel door.

I entered as quietly as I could, but immediately drew the scrutiny of a large man in an iron breastplate. The expression on his face left me little hope of a peaceful settlement for the cube. "There is an artifact here that I need," I told him. "Barring that single item you can loot these ruins to the last scrap of tin for all I care."

"I can loot these ruins to the last scrap whether you care or not," he replied. "Imperial law, Dwarven specters, ancient machines. None of those have stopped me. Who do you think you are, Breton?" Whoever I might have thought I was, I was sure the axe he wielded was meant to change my mind.

We circled warily as we spoke, and I worked my way far enough into the room to see that it was stacked with crates. Nearby a shelving unit of stout Dwemer construction held an assortment of artifacts. On the lowest shelf gleamed a perfect cube, intricately carved in ancient runes. I considered a lunge for the cube and a quick teleport to safety. "Listen," I said, "I really want no quarrel with you." I flashed a hand signal, a sign of recognition used in the Theive's Guild in High Rock. I had seen it used and accepted in the South Wall Cornerclub. Though not an active member I hoped it would buy me some favor, but it passed unnoticed. Perplexed, I had to ask "Where are you from, Creto? You don't seem a regular thief."

"I am no thief, Breton scum." He lunged with the axe, and I dodged aside. "Though the Emperor has declared all newly recovered Dwemer artifacts to be Imperial property, Orvas Dren, brother of the Duke himself, holds prior claim to this site. I am under his orders, and you will die for your interference." I ducked under a broad roundhouse swing of the huge blade, spear limber in my hands. My inclination to take the cube and leave the looters to their work was rapidly boiling away. Rumor around the South Wall had it that Orvas Dren was the real power behind the Cammona Tong.

"So you are no thief, but you are clearly no native Dunmer. How did Dren choose you as a footstool for the Cammona Tong? Or were you just cheerfully kneeling when he came along looking to wipe his feet?" The conversation ended there, as there was no longer a question that only one of us would survive the day. Creto was weighed down by a pack laden with artifacts. His great strength may have carried the day against some, but life in Vvardenfell has honed my skills with the spear to a razor's edge. He died groveling and exhausted. I took the cube, and some other artifacts, and transported myself once again to Balmora.

Hasphat received the cube gleefully, turning it over and over in his calloused hands. He gave me a compilation of his information on the Sixth House Cult to give to Caius, and suggested Sharn gra-Muzgob, the Mage Guild's own orc healer, would know far more than he about the Nerevarine Prophecies. The sixth house, House Dagoth, was destroyed and dispersed in the first age after betraying the other Dunmer great houses in what he called the War of the First Council. I don't know what connection this ancient house could have to a dangerous cult in modern day Morrowind. Neither did Caius, but he wants to know, so it appears I will have to find out. While he studies the references that Hasphat provided, Caius has sent me to find out what Sharn knows about the Nerevarine.

Sharn gra-Muzgob is always a surprise to me. She is so smart for an orc, but has all the charm that one might expect from those greenskinned folk. That would be none. I have gotten along with her, well enough to buy potions anyway, but she is always disgruntled when disturbed and today was no exception. And when I mentioned Caius she didn't break into smiles, but did show a flash of cunning. "Ah. So it's Caius that is behind you interrupting me with your questions. Well Arvil Bren, doing research for Caius isn't exactly part of your duties here in the guild, is it? So there's really no good reason for me to put my own research aside to help you, is there?" She turned back to her books, but paused. "Of course, you could perhaps help me with something in turn, so I would have time to produce a report for Caius."

Caius clearly sees no sense in just paying for information. The Blades budget is apparently balanced on my time and risk of life and limb. Now I am headed back to the Bitter Coast to delve into yet another tomb. This one I suspect not the long abandoned variety with which I am familiar. Sharn would have me retrieve the skull of a most revered individual from its entombment. She provided me with some useful equipment for the journey, but her warnings about upsetting the locals leave me feeling very uneasy. The skull has to be returned quietly, as Sharn worries quite a bit about the temple suspecting she is a necromancer. Where there's smoke there's fire, and I hope Sharn doesn't find herself stuck in one by the temple ordinators.

I teleported home for a good night's sleep before setting off on this next task, but it was denied me. I unloaded my pack on the deck of the shack, as usual, but things were not as usual. My pile of Dwemer cogs was shifted slightly, but noticeably, and when I looked closely I found a long Khajiit whisker sticking out from under them. I could think of no explanation. How could a whisker end up under the heavy stack unless it had been moved? I scanned what I considered to be my island carefully, and turned a wary eye to my own door. Slowly I began shifting the stack of heavy cogs. Underneath I found a note from Wadarkhu:

"Wadarkhu knows you are careful Arvil Bren, so I think you will find this note where no one else would look. There is an outlander looking for you. We tell him nothing, but the Cammona Tong will sell their mothers for a bit of gold or a sharp sword. Watch your back."

The gruff and surly Wadarkhu had given me a fair warning. Apparently he had more of a sense for where I stood in the gang war than I had let on. As Calislahn the Dryad would say, fore-warned is fore-armed. I used the tip of my spear to pull open my door, and ducked as a deadly dart shot over my shoulder into the marsh.

The assassin followed, armed with a heavily enchanted Dwemer shortsword. Had I walked in unsuspecting I would have surely been slain. Poison coursed through me at every prick of the blade, but having reversed the surprise gave me a strong advantage, enough to dispatch yet another hired killer. The Dark Brotherhood has raised the standard in what they are sending after me. Once again I have escaped, but I am tormented by a question. Where am I to escape to now?


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