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, March 14, 2005

Day Seventy-one: Humility

This morning I joined the Temple and began the Pilgrimage of the Seven Graces. Tuls Valen, the senior priest at the temple in Ald-ruhn accepted me warmly. Hopefully I can impress him and build enough of a reputation in the temple to get past the ill will in Balmora. I don't know how good a start today was.

The first of the seven graces is humility. There is a shrine at a place called the Fields of Kummu. Kummu was a farmer. Upon the death of his guar he could not work his fields, and without the harvest he could not afford a replacement for the guar. Kummu and his family were facing starvation when Vivec, the warrior poet, happened upon them. Kummu believed that his plea to his ancestors had somehow been answered, and Vivec, to honor the ancestors resolved to help the farmer. Rather than just buying a new guar, which he obviously could have done, Vivec humbled himself and joined the farmer in his fields to take in the harvest. I personally suspect the farmer would rather have had a new guar, but that is neither here nor there.

The Shrine of Vivec's Humility turns out to be on the shore of lake Amaya, not far from Pelagiad. I thought that was an excellent turn, and was planning to use my recall spell to come home when Tuls Valen pointed out that the truly humble would not shortcut the pilgrimage by magically flitting about. I wanted to point out that the Ald-ruhn temple is a lot further from Lake Amaya than Vivec City or Balmora, and I could just as easily have started my pilgrimage from either of those much handier temples, but...humility. I trudged up the dusty hill to the southeast of Ald-ruhn muttering to myself.

The first thing I learned from being a pilgrim is that a straight line might be the shortest distance, but not necessarily the quickest path. There is a road from Ald-ruhn to Caldera, and on to Balmora. The road heads west from Ald-ruhn before winding south, skirting the foothills of Red Mountain. I am a Journeyman in the Blades exploring Vvardenfell, I will not be confined to the roads. I am a Conjurer in the Mage's Guild, I can levitate over otherwise impassable ridges. Humility was clearly lacking.

By noon I was hot and miserable in my heavy armor. Despite floating over the steepest and rockiest passages I had climbed numerous hills, raising clouds of dusty ash that inevitably found their way inside my armor. The grey landscape, barren except for the thorny trama vines that writhe across the gritty surface, depressed my spirits. In the distance to the east I could see the shimmer of the towering ghostfence. The blight contained behind it added to the oppression. As I crossed yet another ridge a shear drop yawned at my feet, and I recognized the mighty Foyada Mamaca. I abandoned the straight line approach to pilgrimages. The bottom of the deep foyada would offer shade, and would take me down the slopes of Red Mountain into the lush greens of the Ascadian Isles without further climbing. Arrogance had given way to convenience. Humility was still distant, but waiting.

The path along the bottom of the Foyada was all that I had hoped it would be, though I was beset by swarms of cliff racers. These rapacious predators diving from the walls kept me alert, until I reached a huge Daedric ruin that clots the foyada. There my alertness failed me. It wasn't a diving cliff racer that escaped my notice, but something far worse.

As I approached the ruins I couldn't miss the glow of a flame atronach. The elemental monster stalked the ruins, trailing smoke as bits of grass and trama vine smoldered in its wake. I activated my amulet, blending into the chaotic patterns etched into the stone. The powerful chameleon spell and the atronach's sense of its own power made it easy to sneak up behind it with my conjured spear at the ready. I put everything I had behind a mighty thrust, squarely into the mass of flames between the broad shoulders. The atronach pitched forward into a mass of trama vine, which instantly burst into flame. I struck swiftly to finish the beast before it could launch the blistering jets of flame that are the favorite weapon of these visitors from the elemental planes.

That was when my lack of alertness nearly finished me. Having just speared the atronach in the back I cannot complain of the tactics. The thin whistle of a blade through the air came a split second before the blow, but gave no useful warning. The mighty Daedric axe shattered steel and bone, crushing my shoulder and ribs and driving me headlong into the arms of the atronach writhing on my spear. The stench of burning flesh invaded my senses as agony blackened my vision.

Long ago in High Rock my father took me to an alchemist's shop and bought a potion. The potion binds the mystical energy of a recall spell. He told me to always keep the small vial handy on my belt, for quick escapes. I picked up a vial in Balmora shortly after my arrival. In my arrogance lately I have considered many times giving up the habit of carrying it. My skills have grown, I can cast a recall spell reliably enough. My spear has slain innumerable horrors. I thought I was beyond the need for quick escapes, but I kept the vial; my father's voice haunting me over the vast distance and time. I thank him tonight for my life.

Thankfully my mate has the abilities and demeanor to have reached a high rank in the theive's guild. She was certainly startled when I appeared in the hall shattered and afire, but with feline grace she swept a blanket over me to put out the flames, then doused me with water from the mop bucket to cool the glowing oven of my steel breastplate. Whether she used spells or poured magical restoratives down my throat I don't know, but she pulled me back from the brink of death far enough for me to activate my own healing magic. Soon the wounds were reduced to angry scars, and the burned off hair will grow back, but the memory of that shattering blow will be with me always. Tomorrow I will complete the pilgrimage to the Shrine of Humility. I may not have walked the entire distance, but I will have traveled a long course.


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