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.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Day Ninety-seven: The Gnissis egg mine

Gnissis is a very tense place. House Redoran is very traditional. They strongly support the temple, but there is an undercurrent of sympathy towards the even older ways of ancestor worship. The presence of significant temple shrines in Gnissis and the surrounding area made it difficult for the temple to turn jurisdiction over to the Redorans. The Empire, in their usual overbearing way, has built a fort here in the questionable guise of keeping the peace. To some extent it worked, the Redorans and the Temple are united in their unhappiness with this turn of events.

The demands on the Legion left General Darius with few options. To garrison the new fort he has had to find soldiers as best he could. Monsters flowing out of Red Mountain are providing a lucrative market for mercenaries familiar with Vvardenfell as well as occupying the locals who have a heroic bent, so recruiting is difficult. Orcs, fresh from the mountains of the far west, have been inducted into the Legion in droves, and swell the ranks in backwater posts like Gnissis. A horde of green skinned barbarians unfamiliar with Vvardenfell's factions and subtleties perhaps raises more tension than it eases. Just keeping order in the ranks is a challenge I'm sure. I don't think the General was even aware of the discovery of the Dwemer ruin.

The mine has been closed to the public due to the kwama queen contracting the blight. The miners are allowed limited access to work, and there is a thriving black market for kwama eggs, but the export trade is completely stopped. The port is idle, adding to the economic woes of the underworked miners. The legion has a guard posted at the locked door of the mine. Although he was reasonably courteous it was clear that to get the key from him would involve a display that would have roused the entire garrison. The armored Orcs roaming the streets would surely respond without even limited courtesy.

It seemed I was at an impasse. I was sure that taking on the legion garrison was not what Edwinna had in mind, and it certainly didn't strike me as a good idea. I had lunch at the tradehouse after a morning of fruitless inquiries. My fortunes rose as I ate.

Though priced high, the tradehouse menu did offer kwama egg fare. The proprietor was not the most open source, but a few drakes slipped across the counter got me a recommendation about someone who 'might know a bit' about where eggs could be had. I set off to find a Hainab Lasamsi, an unemployed Dunmer who had opted out of the egg mine completely rather than scraping along on the limited work being allowed.

Hainab was not hard to find. The unveiled hatred passing between him and the Orcs of the garrison arced through the air like lightning as he passed through the streets. Just being seen talking to him seemed like a bad idea. I managed to walk near enough to say "I'd like to propose some business, but not the kind your admirers would approve. Can we get out of sight?" He gave the slightest nod, and I went to a nearby merchant's open air stall to watch him surreptitiously. He wandered idly, but eventually drifted out of town to the south. I continued my shopping until the guards had eased into more relaxed postures, then followed at my own leisurely pace.

As I walked along a trail by the river the dark elf leapt out of the brush. It was not an ambush, but he was clearly wanting to show that it could have been. Our negotiations did not start well. "The loss of output from your mine is causing concern among," I began.

He cut me off. "Your words fall from your mouth like the droppings of a guar outlander. There are a hundred egg mines in Vvardenfell, all bursting at the seams with eggs that have no transport to market. The ships do not come for fear of the blight. There is no shortage of eggs to keep the legion from closing us down, and your 'associates' have no concern for our problems. Tell me the truth of your business or I will be throwing your bones to the slaughterfish."

Perceptive, better informed, and straight to the point; I hated him, briefly. After some frank discussion though we realized we had mutual interests. One Orc in particular presented a serious problem to Hainab's new business, and that particular Orc was going to be an unavoidable obstacle in my search for the ruins.

Hainab was among the first miners to recognize that the burrowing kwama had broken into something special. His first thought was that all the miners were going to be rich, as perhaps by right they should have been. But the Orcs of the garrison had been quick to point out that Dwemer artifacts were property of the Emperor despite the standard mining agreements that said the workers of a mine would split any and all profits from unusual finds. Their leader in fact, though not rank; a former warrior chieftain whose fractious nature kept him from rising in the legion, established a plan to smuggle the artifacts away that was supposed to enrich everyone involved. In practice only the Orcs profited. Claims that the ruins had yielded little; threats to blame everything on the miners; fierce beatings from armored warriors; the miners were a down trodden lot with no recourse. Hainab turned to smuggling eggs out of the mines.

Our paths crossed at the Orc leader. This villain had established himself in the lowest levels of the egg mine near the entrance to the ruins, where he could turn away any investigation by the miners. He had a bedroll, and apparently his minions covered his duties and kept him supplied; mostly with liquor as he could get fat from the vast supply of kwama eggs and scrib jelly in the inoperative mine. Hainab knew of a secret entrance to the mines, by way of an underground stream, but slinking past the Orc with his loads of eggs was a constant risk. He revealed the entrance to me, and gave me directions to the ruins. The only catch in this generous sharing being that his directions included one unmistakable landmark; the Orc.

The trek through the submerged passage was long, and I was still dripping when I met the enemy. There was no question of negotiation. I was there to kill him, and since I was obviously no passing miner he was set on killing me. The battle was short and viscous. He did not seem as skilled with his longsword as I expected, and the Legion armor he wore was heavier than the Orcish mail to which he was no doubt accustomed. The ebony lifetaker, my shortsword that draws life from those it strikes and channels it into healing magic for me , made short work of him. I think he was probably drunk, though with an Orc that can be hard to tell.

The ruins have been stripped of artifacts, but fortunately only the Orcs of the garrison were involved. A book, written in Dwemer, lay discarded under a dusty table. Being Orcs they probably pushed it aside in their hurry to claim the glittering baubles of Dwemer metal, not realizing that to a scholar the book would be far more valuable. I will be keeping it for myself. With the translation key that I found these ancient texts may provide the solution to the riddle of the Dwemer's disappearance. Edwinna will be happy enough without the book. Inside the cover, folded and brittle, I found a set of plans that seem to be for some sort of mechanical netch. It appears to be designed to float through the air. I can only guess what she will make of that.

The strider will be arriving in Ald-ruhn shortly. I will take straight to my bed. It has been a long day.


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