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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.

Friday, February 17, 2006

18: Ald-ruhn after dark

I spent most of the day observing Lloros Sarano as he worked with Varvur Sarethi. I didn't interrupt him, but he took frequent breaks to let Varvur's mind settle so I did have a chance to ask some questions. Apparently, while the statues snared the minds of their owners the owners left their own imprints on the enchantments of the statues. By comparing the two the priest had isolated the threads of magica that had impacted Varvur's mind, and his delicate administration of restorative magica was designed to bring back Varvur's memory.

I was impressed. Sharn gra-Muzgob is the guild's most skilled student of the school of restoration. She can direct a powerful stream of magica in a virtual explosion of healing. She could reattach a severed head before it hit the ground, but undoing the tiny scars in Varvur's mind is an entirely different world.

Between council sessions Athyn Sarethi would return to the manor to check on the progress, and also to keep me up to date on whatever he thought I needed to know. I am fully aware that what he thinks I need to know is whatever keeps me on a path that works for him, but again, our intentions are at least parallel if not the same. My own experience tells me that when he says Venim is furious about events at Morvayn manor that he is telling the exact truth. There's no question that slipping invisibly into Skar as he recommended was a wise choice. When he had completed his work I left even more surreptitiously.

I waited until late in the evening. The swirling ashstorm engulfed the purple glow of magica as I teleported myself to the temple courtyard, and I quickly lost myself in the darkness. With the storm raging it was not difficult to avoid the patrolling guards in the streets, but I needed to get inside unidentified. A quick trip to Balmora was called for.

At the Southwall Cornerclub I am always welcome. I think Habasi still holds out hope that I will actually join the thieve's guild. I quickly explained my needs, without going into too much detail about my objectives. The Rat in the Pot is the headquarters of the guild in Ald-ruhn, and even my friends would be hard pressed to help me if they knew that was the target of my infiltration.

Armed with only a common dagger I had no intention of getting in a fight. I suppose I should have expected otherwise, given the reputation of the Rat in the Pot. The club where, according to Varvur's cleared memories, he had won the ash statue in a dice game; a club that is generally avoided by the good citizens of Ald-ruhn.

The bartender didn't recognize me as I unwrapped the turban that had protected me from the blowing ash, as well as completely obsuring me from any guards I passed in the street. The art of disguise is meeting the expected. My rough dark clothes and soft boots, the turban, the well-used hilt of a dagger peeking from the ragged sash around my waist; the combination spoke of a road-weary thief struggling to stay above begging; no surprise at the Rat. The location and costume establish a mental trend, a trend that would overwhelm any recognition of my face.

After a couple of drinks, purchased with much grumbling about prices and recounting of well worn coins, I managed to find my way into the dingy room below the bar. The players in the dice game opened a narrow space, making room grudgingly for what looked to be a rather ragged new mark. I did not disappoint, playing rather badly and losing, but bemoaning my small losses as if they were my last coins.

In fairly short order I had 'successfully' lost the contents of my small coin pouch, and was reduced to pleading with the other players to be allowed to bet more bulky goods. Reluctantly I produced a dagger crafted from the chitinous hide of an ashland beetle. "I have a few Ashlander artifacts in my bag," I said, holding my voice low. A Dunmer who was not actually in the game looked on with sudden interest, and the other players introduced Galtis Guvron, suggesting that he might buy something from me to restore my stake in the game.

I settled at a corner table with my newfound fence. Though trafficking in Ashlander artifacts isn't illegal it is certainly frowned upon outside the lower circles, and I doubted that there would be more than one person involved in such business even in this dive. I argued and bargained over the worth of the dagger and a few other bits and pieces, then let slip the reason I had come to Ald-ruhn. "I've heard that there are some new items coming out of the Ashlands. My usual buyer would pay handsomely for such a novelty."

Galtis kept his face blank, but there had been a brief flicker of something, I was sure of it. "I've seen nothing new," he said. "The Ashlander life hasn't changed for millenia. They are not innovators." He waved at his sack, which now contained the handful of chitin tools and such that I had brought. "These are relatively new, but they could just as easily have been made by the ancestors a hundred generations ago."

"Apparently it is some new religion. Some sort of idol worship. I've heard they have some kind of statues made of ash, with glowing red..." Before I could finish I was hit hard in the chest by the table's rough edge. Galtis had leapt to his feet and a dagger was flashing in his hand.

"Who?" he shrieked. "Where did you hear this, and why come here?" The dagger slashed towards my face and I rolled out of my chair. I came to my feet with my own dagger in hand. The other patrons closed in a circle around us to watch. His reaction to the mere mention of the statues was a sufficient indication of guilt, and I wouldn't feel bad if I had to kill Galtis, but I wanted more information. I wasn't going to get it, at least not directly. Asking a lot of questions would have brought a lot more questions from the onlookers. Besides, Galtis clearly had every intention of killing me out of hand., so it was better to save my breath.

An explosive outburst of magica would have been completely out of place and out of character, but it seems like there is someone hawking potions of dubious value on every streetcorner, so a swig from a battered vial didn't raise any eyebrows. No one needed to know that the contents had been brewed by one of the finest alchemists in Vvardenfell to provide a substantial boost to my quickness and reflexes. That ended any possibility of getting information though. I had to strike immediately and with deadly intent. One of the biggest differences between a quality potion and the streetcorner swill is the duration of the effects. My ragged persona would expect only a brief burst of speed and would feel pressed to take advantage, so I did.

I stood over Galtis' fallen body with my dagger point low, but ready. The circle of spectators stood warily, but did not approach. "To the victor go the spoils," I snarled. I snagged whatever obvious pouches were attached to his belt, then checked inside his jacket, where I found a folded bit of parchment.

Being a stranger I could assume that my welcome was overextended when I killed one of the regulars. The Rat is no stranger to knife fights I suppose, and had their own manner of disposal for the remains. I quickly left them to it.

The parchment is coded, I think. Either that or it's just scrawling. I left it for Lloros. Hopefully the scholar will be able to make something of it. For my part I will be getting out of town. A chance to get in favor with another member of the council has arisen. Since I have dropped yet another notch with Bolvyn Venim that is obviously important.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice writing, man. You added the atmosphere to the corner clubs which the game lacks.
Greetings from Central Europe & keep up the good work!

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could U please post some pictures of the Archmage Arvil and of his (your) loot? ;)

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Mike L. said...

Very nice. You've really brought in the atmosphere very well. Arvil Bren, in a knife fight. Who would have thought that?

3:01 PM  
Blogger Xikorolkel said...

I agree with the above comment that we need a new picture of Arvil, perhaps as a new site-header.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous mikekearn said...

I believe in the first paragraph, you meant to write "the owners left their own..".

Unless of course Arvil gets to invent his own words. I doubt many would argue the point to harshly in front of his face, especially if he had a spear nearby. :D

2:26 AM  

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