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, April 21, 2006

41: On their guard

The sun rose on the silent grazelands. The mist over the distant sea broke the dawnlight into streamers of pink, purple, and gold. Whatever comes of the fate that brought me here, I will always be thankful that it brought me to Morrowind. As it often does, the vista of the sunrise took my breath away. The three Telvanni guards welcomed the day, though their gratitude had nothing to do with the beauty of the sunrise.

"Finally," said one of them, a pretty female Dunmer with a halo of windswept red hair framing her face, "I thought I would freeze before the sun came up. Does the outlander still have his fire blazing?"

The one who had the watch was peering intently through a gap in the tall grass. "He really built it up a couple hours ago, but it's dying down now. I think he must be asleep."

The third, who crouched uncomfortably in the grass, still had his cephalopod helm pulled down, obsuring his face. His voice was tight, and tired. He had not slept during his time off watch, nor even lain down. "If he is truly hunting a vampire he has not slept, unless he is a fool."

The one on watch, who had put on only the breastplate of his bonemold armor, flexed his brawny arms. "Vampires?" he snorted. "Is that why you've not slept?"

"You didn't sleep at all?" the girl asked. "You're going to be miserable today."

"City folk," the third grunted through his mask. "This plain crawls with the Zainab, the most unpredictable of tribes. Our quarry is not just any outlander, we're following one of the most dangerous men on Vvardenfell. And he says there is a vampire prowling the area."

"Benval was an Ashlander Cellia. He can go days without sleep." The watchman again flexed his arms. "Far be it from him to trust us to keep watch," he concluded.

Benval chuckled. "There's a saying in the Ashlands Gilvath; how many vampires can slip invisibly into your camp in the night?"

The pretty girl, Cellia, waited a moment, then said "Well? How many?"

"As many as want to," grunted the former Ashlander.

"Well, none got past me," said the one called Gilvath, "but I suppose one might have gotten the outlander. I don't see any stirring in his camp. We are going to have to slip closer. Do you think he would leave his fire burning like that and take off to get ahead of us?"

"No," said Benval. "He is a clanfriend. If he went far he would have put out the fire."

"I wish we had had a fire," said Cellia. "I had no idea nights were so cold out here in the grazelands."

"Cold is good for survaillance," said Gilvath with another flex. "Helps me keep alert. Being a 'city elf' I don't have that natural wariness I suppose." He grinned at Benval. The daylight washed completely over the horizon, paling the dwindling campfire in the distance. "Still no stirring. I think we need to get over there. I know you can track him Benval, but if he levitates he'll leave no tracks, and we have to stay close enough to know if he teleports or the council would have us out here searching forever, or at least until he is spotted somewhere else."

"On a search instead of survaillance at least we could have a fire. He has to know he's being watched anyway. I'm so stiff I can barely get my armor on, and I can't even stand up and stretch properly since he might see me."

"Might as well, Cellia. No doubt he knows we're watching. Fair bet he knows where we are."

"Ashlander magic, Benval?" she asked. "How would he know?"

"From the way he picked his campsite, Cellia." He pointed. "He trailed past this hollow right over there, then set his camp on that hilltop." He swung his arm in a short arc. "Perfect distance, and perfect sightline. Anyone on his trail would be right about there when they saw he was making camp, and this hollow is the natural place to get off his trail and watch him. Really the only place."

"So you think he planned our site when he picked his?" said Gilvath. "You give him a lot of credit."

"The Ashlanders don't make clanfriends lightly, especially with an outlander. I think it would be foolish to underestimate him in the wilderness, even if all we are supposed to do is watch him."

The chameleon spell isn't invisibility. It bends light around the spellcaster, so that when you look at them you see a slightly distorted view of whatever is behind them. My amulet of shadows releases a very powerful chameleon spell, so the distortion is minimal, but not completely beyond notice. As the daylight grew the chances of being detected grew also, particularly by the wary guard from the ashlands. It was on its last charge anyway.

"No, they don't," I said as the spell dissipated in a shimmer of magicka around my comfortably seated form.

The two city elves scrambled for weapons. "Hold!" said Benval. "If he wanted us dead, we would be." He continued to crouch, stock still. We're only here to watch him, not fight him, don't let your embarassment override your orders."

"A show of cleverness outlander," sneered Gilvath.

"Perhaps," I said. "Mostly I just didn't want to have to fight any more vampires than I already have to, and I've heard that same saying among the Ashlanders. It would not serve me well if Calvario got the three of you in the night. Besides, Morrowind will need all of our stalwart guards in the days to come."

"Calvario," said Cellia. "You know the vampire's name? You really are here just to fight a vampire."

"Yes," I said. "I'm not here to dispute with the Telvanni. I think we can all agree that a blood vampire is an abomination that merits a little cooperation. I hope your magelords will agree that the ash vampires of house Dagoth call for even more cooperation, but that is for them to decide in their towers. Out here in the grazelands it's just us."

"It's not our job to fight your vampire," said Gilvath.

"I wouldn't want you to," I said. "When I enter the tomb I intend to rain destruction on anything that moves, and I'd rather not have to sort enemies from allies."

"So why are you talking to us? Why slip into our camp?" asked Cellia.

"Well, since we both know you are going to be following me I don't see any reason for you to sacrifice comfort for stealth, and I thought you might want a hot breakfast before we take up the trail." I rose slowly to my feet. "Benval, you were an Ashlander, so I'll make this formal. You are welcome to the hospitality of my hearth, such as it is."

For the first time he pushed back his helm. "Thank you clanfriend," he said gravely. "I accept." He turned to his companions. "It should be a lot easier to track him today."

Over a breakfast of kwama eggs and saltrice I reluctantly recounted my experiences with the vampires of Clan Aundae. Even the hardened guards shuddered at my description of the plight of their cattle. "I don't know if Calvario will be that well established, but if he has cattle I will be leaving it to you to get them back to the city and cared for. I'll be teleporting on my way at that point, so your mission will be complete."

Strangely enough, the arrogant Gilvath seemed the most shaken by my story. "We will care for them," he promised quietly.

As it turned out, Calvario was not living the horrific parody of normal society that I found in the halls of the Aundae queen. He was a vile predator, sheltering from the sunlight in a tomb littered with the rotting corpses of bandits who had chosen the wrong tomb as a hideout. I exterminated him as I would a diseased rat cowering in a basement.

When I emerged from the tomb my escort was waiting. "It's a mess in there," I said. "No prisoners, no cattle, just the dead. Some sort of bandit activity; if you feel a need to investigate. I'm going home, so your job is done."

"Why would you come all the way out here to do this?" Cellia asked. "You are a Breton. Why would you do such a thing for the Zainab? They're practically savages."

"But not savage," I said. "They are people; mostly good people. It's just that their way of life isn't your way. Truthfully, I have my differences with the ways of your magelords also, but those are just differences among people. A vampire is a monster, and so is Dagoth Ur. Whatever our differences, sometimes people all have to end up on the same side."

Ultimately, getting the council to call me Hortator will not be enough to make me the Hortator. I can't say for sure, but I think at least three of the Telvanni guard will be willing to accept an order to follow me. Hopefully from that seed something will grow.


Blogger Victoria said...

Finally up to date with this - I followed it up to about entry 80 (when that was as far as you had got at that point) and then lost the bookmark during a format. Very nice and creative story.

In case anyone is interested I'm doing an Oblivion one - although it is less a story and more of a diary. Anyway, keep up the good writing.

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stealthy stealthy!


3:38 PM  
Blogger Joseph said...

That was a brilliant chapter. Very nicely written, and with a different start to make things interesting.

I'm looking forward to the meeting with Vivec, I can tell you!

- Joseph.

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Incredible, amazing, Avril at his best, and many other witty things that elude me this late at night.


7:31 PM  
Anonymous mikekearn said...

I wondered what sort of trick Arvil would pull on them, since I just didn't see him letting them follow him without them doing it on his terms. Good stuff.

10:08 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home