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.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Day Twenty-eight: On the road

I laid awake in my cot for much of the night, turning plans over in my head. Finally, not much rested, I rose before dawn and went outside. I settled down on my dock to a breakfast of fresh crabmeat. My pier faces west, and the sun rising behind me chased the shadows of darkness out into the Inner Sea. With them went my uncertainty. I had a plan, and I quickly donned almost a full set of bonemold armor and loaded my pack. I am carrying a tightly bundled set of the black chainmail of a Dark Brotherhood assassin, and topped off my pack with as much spare armor as I could carry. Again I was plagued with uncertainty. I had practiced an intervention spell which would take me to the nearest temple, in fact I have scrolls with this excellent transportation spell traced upon them, but where would the nearest temple be? I hoped Balmora. If it turned out to be Ald'ruhn it would delay me slightly. If anywhere else I would probably need a new plan. I was pleased to find myself in the familiar courtyard of the Balmora temple as the spell's effects cleared.

I quickly sold my spare armor, keeping the dark mail hidden and telling Wyan I needed the travel money. I made a point of telling him how excited I was to be on a serious errand for my guild steward, heading to the far reaches of Molag Mar. I was also very conspicuous in my departure as I swept through the guild hall. Ranis was surprised, since she thought I had set out yesterday, but understood that I had needed to rush home to supply myself for the journey. I made a point with her that the bonemold armor would not make for overly fast travel, but would get me safely there and back. By the time I left the guild hall everyone knew I was embarking on a substantial journey. After the high visibility of my first two stops my final one felt incongruous. I slipped into a deep alcove in the pedestal of the strider port, directly across from the Council Club, and left a magic mark.

I left Balmora in a new direction, headed into the interior of Vvardenfell. Just past Moonmoth Fort is a mighty canyon, the Foyada Mamaca. Foyada is a Dunmer word meaning 'river of fire', a reference to the hot, ash laden winds that roar down from the mighty volcano, Red Mountain. My road passed north of the fort to cross over an ancient Dwemer bridge. As I stepped onto the bridge I saw a man standing near the far end, sunlight glinting from his iron plate armor. Remembering Fjol I approached cautiously, half expecting another bridge claiming bandit demanding a toll. Whether he would demand a toll or just try to rob me I'll never know.

As soon as he caught sight of me the white haired man began the gestures of a spell of summoning, and I sprinted for a cart parked near the bridge rail. He completed the spell just in time for me to see a skeletal warrior summoned from the plane of the dead appear before him, then I vaulted over the rail. I fell out of sight and activated my boots to float down into the canyon, curving under the bridge as I went. Once safely on firm ground, I cast a chameleon spell and crept out from beneath the bridge, dodging furtively down the canyon for a short distance. When I was far enough to consider it safe to proceed I turned and climbed the canyon wall, using my boots to master occasional steep passages. Thus I crossed the Foyada Mamaca, but I was not finished with the white crowned bandit.

From my vantage on a high rock spur I could see him pacing the bridge, pausing occasionally to peer over the rail at the canyon floor far below. He wore only the breastplate of iron; his arms were bare, and bronzed by the sun. At one of his pauses I buried an arrow deep in the meat of his left shoulder. As he dove for cover I was nearly knocked from my perch into the canyon far below. Struggling to maintain balance I turned to face a horrid grotesquery. A cliff racer had glided silently from above and struck me a solid blow with its sharp beak, and was now flapping mightily to regain the air. The beast was hampered by thick meaty growths that dotted its wings, and a thickening of muscles that certainly added to the power of its strike, but hampered its flight. It slammed the air awkwardly with deformed wings. Unslinging my spear I struck the creature full in the breast, what should have been at least a debilitating blow. Blood spilled, but the heavy muscle began rapidly growing around the wound, adding another blob to the sickening mass. It took a rapid series of deep stabs, any one of which should have been fatal, to send the blighted creature to its rest. That is what the monster was; blighted. A victim of the dreaded disease that is supposed to be contained behind the ghostfence that rings Red Mountain. I shuddered at the sight of it.

Of course I knew that I did not have time to ponder how the blight had reached to this distant part of Vvardenfell. The bandit had moved like a man injured, but far from dead, and I had no idea where he had gotten to in my distraction. I crouched and surveyed the bridge. He was huddled behind some crates, peering cautiously at my high perch. We were at a standoff. I skipped an arrow off the top of the crates for good measure. After my harrowing experience with the blighted racer I was willing to concede the bridge to it's toll keeper. I slid carefully down the slope on my heels, with my bow at the ready. I could reach the road well past the bridge and be on my way.

I suppose one arrow to the shoulder couldn't be expected to stop a self respecting bandit. Scurrying from shelter to shelter he moved inexorably towards the point where I would intersect the road. My bow was ready, but in my pell-mell slide down the slope there was no way to get off an accurate shot. With the bow in my hands I couldn't activate my boots. A final small avalanche of loose stones and I landed in the road, only yards away from my attacker. He stopped, conjuring again. I drew quickly and fired. The skeleton appeared in front of him and the arrow struck, shattering bony ribs and scattering dust. Still gesturing, my opponent stepped from behind the skeleton, which was turning to charge. A ball of sparks flew from the conjurers hands and enveloped me. I hooked my bow over my shoulder and fled, hoping that the pursuing skeleton would shelter me from any more of the conjurer's spells.

As I ran I triggered first my healing belt, then my boots, and lofted myself over a rockpile and out of harms way. A few more charges from the belt and I was again good as new. Just in time for the conjurer to round the rockpile and open fire yet again. This time I sidestepped his bolt, and returned fire with my bow. We dodged among the boulders trading volleys until he fell from loss of blood. I made sure of him with my spear, but I believe he was already dead.

I continued on my way, following the trail around a huge peak crowned with ancient ruins. The road then descended into an ash covered wasteland, and bits of advice I had received about the Ashland welled up in memory. Don't be out after dark being a common one, and stay out of ash storms being another. As I gazed into the uniform grayness these sounded like wise counsel. The sun was lowering fast with the mountain behind me, and I cast about for some sort of shelter.

Happily I saw a cavern mouth in a ravine, not far off the trail. I entered carefully, thinking that I might not be the only creature taking advantage of such a secure nook. Red candles burning on numerous rocks not far within showed that the cave was home to men rather than creatures...or so I thought, until one such inhabitant shambled towards me. Like the blighted racer I had slain he was horribly distorted, but clearly had once been a man. I fired an arrow into the mass of blobs that had been his chest and the impact knocked him off his feet, perhaps more from a clumsy effort to dodge than anything else. Before he could rise I pumped three more arrows into the mass. I don't know if the internal organs were shifted from their places inside the tortured hulk, but apparently something vital was found by an arrowhead, and the monster accepted merciful death.

To my left I saw a tunnel blocked by an exposed vein of molten lava. I levitated across with my boots. The shambling gait of the corprus stalker would never have managed the narrow ledges and leaps from stone to stone that I magically avoided. The lava thus offers protection as well as warmth and I am bedded down on the cavern's stone floor.


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