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, November 21, 2005

5: Murderer or pawn?

Magic. As a Breton my life has been lived within the swirling mists that magic reveals reality to be. Many wizards, the former Archmage Trebonius for example, lean heavily on the destructive power that can be unleashed by their spellcraft. My own craft has always been more subtle. The school of alteration lends itself to changing reality; making objects heavier or lighter, water breathable as air or solid as earth, forming armors of air or elemental energies. I could not resort to destruction to effect a rescue, so I looked the other direction; into the even more subtle school of illusion.

I bid a lingering farewell to Ahnassi and transported myself into Balmora. When I appeared in the courtyard of the temple I quickly surveyed my surroundings, and finding my arrival unobserved called on the shadow shield to make myself invisible. I did not want anyone to wonder at the Archmage of Vvardenfell visiting Nine-Toes the Hunter. Neither of us is identified as a member of the Blades and we both prefer to keep it that way. I reappeared on his upper balcony and ducked quickly inside.

"Arvil Bren! It is our pleasure to greet you!" hissed the Argonian.

"The pleasure is mine Nine-Toes." I struggled again with the pronouns. Argonians refer to themselves in the plural so naturally that it is sometimes difficult not to follow suit. I have been told that to do so would be an insult, but find myself struggling. "I need some guidance my friend."

"As when you were merely an apprentice it is our pleasure to serve." Nine-Toes was my first mentor in the Blades.

"You have used your mastery of illusion to make me invisible before," I began. "I am skilled enough to manage that quite well on my own now, but there are challenges."

"Many; for those who are not practiced," said Nine-Toes.

"Yes. " It is surprising how important it is to see yourself when you move. Picking up an object with an invisible hand is an exercise in clumsiness. "There is a huge difference between being invisible and acting invisibly."

"You speak a truth Arvil Bren. Objects that move on their own, doors that open and close by themselves, sounds without origin; when most people are familiar with the powers of illusion these things are not mysteries, they are evidence."

"So here's my problem," I said, and outlined the situation.

Some time later Nine-Toes stepped out onto his balcony, pacing in the restless way of the Argonians. Through the door he left open I made my own invisible exit, gliding past him without a collision. I let the invisibility lapse in the temple court while casting a minor noisemaking spell. The soft popping sound of teleportation matched my sudden appearance. Nine-Toes had stressed that illusion is less about being undetected than about misdirected detection. I bustled to the guild hall and took transport to Ald-Ruhn.

Heem-la is another Argonian, and a spellsmith. Since I already knew a couple of basic invisibility spells it was not difficult for him to create a spell for me that would allow me to turn another person invisible. He is Edwinna's highest ranked subordinate and took great satisfaction in being of service, but I insisted on paying him the going rate for his craft. I also paid Tanar a fair price for the belt she enchanted for me.

Nine-Toes had said "don't waste invisibility when anonymity will serve", and I was well prepared to follow that guidance. While most of my alchemy studies were directed at the magical properties of various substances I had learned many other useful things. Substances that will stain my pale Breton skin a fair imitation of the Dunmer's grey hues are not uncommon. With the full bonemold armor and closed helm of a Redoran guard my darkened hands completed the picture well enough to pass at a distance. I avoided any close contact, where I would be given away by the lack of gleaming red eyes peering out through the slit of my visor.

"Misdirection can take many forms," Nine-Toes had said, "and often the more physical the form the better." A Redoran guard entering the great shell Skar was nothing remarkable, and it was not difficult to make my way to the vicinity of Venim manor. A word of activation and my belt produced a fine distraction, a towering atronach from the dimension of elemental fire. Any of the guards who failed to notice the ruddy glow and roaring flames could not escape my shout of "wizardry!" as I drew a gleaming but non-descript silver longsword and slashed it about. The atronach charged the manor door and smashed it open before it went down under a barrage of blows from the guards who swarmed around it. Who would notice one guard more or less? I disappeared and slipped into the manor through the smoldering wreckage of the doorway.

The second atronach never stood a chance. It materialized between the front door, where the guards had hardly drawn breath or had time to think since the first one had fallen, and the planter where I had quickly secreted myself. It charged towards the inner quarters and was met by the two heavily armored guards there. The Redoran regulars swarmed after it in its futile assault. During the brief tumult no one could say which armored Redoran had opened the right hand door to shout a warning, but by the time additional members of Venim's personal guard had charged into the room the fight was over. Again, who would notice one guard more or less? I slipped invisibly down the hallway beyond the door.

In a large chamber at the heart of the right wing of the manor I found a guard who had not responded to the alarm at the front door. Instead she had taken a position in another hall, listening closely and with her sword sweeping gently from side to side. It seemed odd that she should guard an empty hall, and I immediately wondered if the tapestry at the far end might conceal the object of my invasion. I crept to an upper balcony. Another bit of Nine-Toes guidance; "to master illusion you must master yourself, a powerful illusion must be built on a foundation of patience."

I waited upstairs. Retainers returned from the fracas at the entry. They began a careful search of the area, long spears sweeping about, prodding into corners. I levitated down into their cleared area, avoiding the guarded stairways, then watched silently as they moved on to clear the upper floor. Eventually they were satisfied and returned to their routine. The woman, who the others called Malsa Ules, took a key and stepped behind the tapestry. Checking on the prisoner. Again I waited.

Locks are based on small objects that hold larger objects in place unless they are repositioned correctly by the appropriate key. No lock can stand against sufficient mastery of alteration. The tumblers of the lock on the door behind the tapestry lost their substance and the bolt slipped freely through them. I ducked into the cell beyond.

I took my time explaining the escape plan to Varvur Sarethi. The difficulties of operating invisibly would be greatly compounded when there were two of us. The problems were balanced though, by knowing where we were going.

We crept invisibly down the hallway. Malsa Ules paced at the opening ahead of us, spear waving unpredictably, sharp ears listening. We pressed flat to the wall and waited for our distraction. The spell of silence I had cast in Varvur's cell expended its limited power, and the guard's head snapped around. The fire I had started in the cell had silently grown to an inferno, and when the spell lapsed it was fairly roaring. Smoke was beginning to curl from the tapestry hanging in front of the open cell door. She charged down the hall, and we fled as soon as she had passed.

The guards in the entry hall had no time to react when the inner door burst open. A Redoran guard rushing through and out the front door made no sense, obviously, but in the seconds it took for me to pass through with my invisible charge close on my heels there was little they could do. I threw in a confusing but true shout of 'fire!' for good measure. I continued to shout once I had cleared the door, again bringing the guards swarming, giving my own armored self some cover as Varvur slid invisibly under the rope railing and tumbled down the steep slope of the shell. In the great open space under Skar it was very easy to get lost. I levitated away from the catwalks and winked into invisibility.

As planned, Lord Athyn Sarethi stepped out of his manor to investigate the uproar, leaving the door open behind him. I made enough noise from high in the dome to keep the guards attention away as Varvur raced home. Eventually Sarethi gave in to the guards urging, and for his own safety returned to his manor and locked the door behind himself. How long the guards raced about with their spears waving I have no idea. I teleported home.

Bolvyn Venim had accused Varvur Sarethi of murder, a charge Varvur may not be able to defend himself against. Venim would claim he held Varvur quietly during the investigation to protect Sarethi. Sarethi would claim Venim had taken his son to prevent disclosure of the plot on Sarethi's life. Either way, I am firmly stuck in the middle of a struggle for the ultimate power of the Redoran council. I hope I've backed the right guar in this race.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So good to have Avril back!

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was amazing......

Thank you - you haven't lost your touch in your fact that was a gem!! Your descriptions of creating illusions is masterful!
Incidentally I remember I lost all my armour at this point in the game, and ended up fighting the guards in my underclothes, which as I didn't immediately realise, meant I died!!
Always a tricky game, Morrowwind, and full of surprises! I therefore particularly enjoyed Arvil's brilliant techniques for evading capture and removing the prisoner from under the enemies noses - the "fire distraction" bit was especially well worded!!

Lovely to be reading the journal again. Thank you.

- Angela

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Mebyon said...

What can we say Tim?

Maybe just "Welcome back, we all really missed you."

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

love ya work mate - keep it up! Gotta get back into morrowind myself asap....


3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to see you're back and even more that you do it wih a bang.

10:47 PM  
Anonymous mikekearn said...

Wonderful. Amazing. Incredible. The words come unbidden to my lips, and yet they fall short of describing the masterpiece that you have made of something which was already astonishingly fun.

You make the world of Morrowind come to life, so thank you.

11:10 PM  
Anonymous klm_coder said...

Great to have u back writing...

3:02 AM  
Anonymous PLightstar said...

Nice to have you back again. Nice to see your illness hasn't effected your quality of writing.

Glad to see you and your GF are feelin better.

4:25 AM  
Blogger Scott Hanson said...

Bravo man! Bravo!

8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've checked your for a new entry since about the 12th entry you made. Every day. Including the time you spent on hiatus. Its great to have you back. Amazing work

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Bravo 1 said...

Always a pleasure Tim. Good to have you back...


1:51 PM  

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