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, October 18, 2005

2: Mystery of the Morag Tong

The Morag Tong are assassins. They are not shy, nor clandestine; they are assassins and proud of it. In Morrowind they are not criminals, they are a vital part of great house society. The great houses have always battled for supremacy in Dunmer affairs, in fact the division with the Dwemer and the fall of House Dagoth could be seen as just another chapter in this continuous struggle. The services of the Morag Tong allow this struggle to take place without breaking out into civil war.

Assassination is legal, but there are rules. The Morag Tong has very strict limitations. Any member of a great house who stands in the way of another house's ambitions may find their name on a writ of assassination. Obviously, being a member of the ruling council of House Redoran would suggest any number of possible enemies who would want Athyn Sarethi dead. Closer examination only deepens the mystery though. Sarethi's views are very moderate as Redorans go.

I pondered the issue as I walked into Balmora this morning, but only got more puzzled. I've had Ranis examining the question there. She is a Dunmer, and the Athrys family is not unfamiliar with the intrigues of the courts of Mournhold. With the conflict with House Hlaalu over the Caldera land grab right at the boiling point the capital of Hlaalu territory is a good place to seek the solution. She could not help.

"Sarethi would not seem a likely target," she said. "He would confront the Hlaalu if there were hard evidence they had conspired with the Empire, but who wouldn't? There are certainly more vocal targets on the Redoran council."

"More vocal targets?" I asked.

"If Miner Arobar was Lord of the South Gash he would be screaming for war, for example," she said. "If Lady Morvayn weren't so busy with the defense of Maar Gan she would be more of a concern for the Hlaalu as well."

"Could they think Sarethi's more moderate position is somehow in their way? Do they really want a war?"

"I don't think anyone wants a war Archmage. Besides, the Tong will not be involved in maneuvering inside the council."

"They won't?" I didn't understand.

"The Morag Tong will only accept a writ on a rival house. Whoever contracted Sarethi's death, they aren't a Redoran." That seemed conclusive, but it still nagged at me as I climbed onto the guild guide platform and transported to Ald-ruhn. Maybe I just remember it nagging at me now.

When I arrived at the council chambers under Skar I was led into a small meeting chamber. Athyn Sarethi greeted me warmly. "Your guild has been most helpful. The house is in your debt."

"I am proud to call it my own house, Lord Sarethi. No debt."

"I appreciate your loyalty Arvil Bren. We are always surprised with retainers who are not Dunmer." I appreciated the way he avoided the word 'outlander'. "To me it seems you just joined the house. Sometimes we forget that your lives pass so much faster that your perspective is much different."

I think I made good progress on having him sponsor me as a house cousin, but the conversation turned in a different direction. I tried to have the patience that a Dunmer would have naturally, with a lifespan measured in centuries rather than years. Arethi actually was displaying some impatience himself.

"My son is late," he said suddenly. I didn't quite follow, but as it turns out his son has been in Balmora and has some light to shed on who has taken Sarethi as an enemy. Too much information perhaps. He has disappeared. Instead of the expected son we were visited by a member of Sarethi's household staff, bearing a written message.

Sarethi exploded. He threw the message in front of me, which I took as permission to read it. More an order to read it I suppose. From the Morag Tong, a complaint that Sarethi had sent his son to investigate them, or so it seemed.

"He found something. Someone is nervous," Sarethi said. "I need you to find him."

"You think the Tong didn't just kill him?"

"That isn't from the Morag Tong," he said. "Even if they were offended, which they wouldn't be, they would not take action against him. The Tong has honor. They would not act without a writ. If they would, they would be taking action against whoever is behind this hoax," he gestured disdainfully at the message. "That they would be offended by."

I had not thought that things could get any more confusing. I think that was the deepest point. Sarethi began to explain there.

"The writ against me was taken by a petty Hlaalu noble," he said. "The Hlaalu would consider it 'business', and they do not look deeply at right or wrong where business is concerned. The Morag Tong, however, takes their rules very seriously. My son proved to their satisfaction that that noble had been paid to issue the writ; paid by a Redoran."

"That's not a legal writ, is it?"

"No, it isn't. The writ on me is cancelled and the Hlaalu has been executed."

"By the Tong? I thought they couldn't act independently."

"It is in the contract," he explained. "If you contract with the Morag Tong, there is a requirement that you follow the law, under penalty of death."

"So who is the Redoran?" I asked.

"I don't know. My son might have known. I'm sure he knows now. Whoever it is has him. You must find him."

"Where do I look?"

"He is somewhere under Skar. My enemy is on the council."


Anonymous Allan said...

I like where this is going... my knowing how this turns out doesn't affect my enjoyment of the story. Can't wait to read more of your take on Redoran politics!

6:50 PM  
Anonymous mikekearn said...

Man, when you come back, you come back with a vengence. I can't wait to see what happens.

8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahh yes the honnor of the morag tong. Avaric Svarlet mentions your assasination in my story as I try to stay true to the game and yet your wonderful story w/o crossing any of your adventures while doing mine. As in not doing the neverine and stuff like that.


11:21 PM  
Blogger concaib said...

This is the greatest blog i've ever put so much detail into every sentence and it must take up a lot of your time so congrats on a job well done. :D

3:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never fully get to grips with Morrowind politics, and it is encouraging to read that Arvil Bren also struggles on occasion to understand what's going on with the Morag Tong and the Great Houses etc; but now I have a clearer idea of things! Thank you!

A very good instalment.


3:30 PM  

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