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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.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

49: Wheels within wheels

Thieves in the Empire, like thieves anywhere, have always been organized, though calling them a guild is perhaps an overstatement. The Imperial Legions, and other enforcers of the law, will usually scoff at the suggestion, and rightly so. There is not the structure that one finds in a regular guild. The Mage's Guild and the Fighter's Guild are patterned on the traditional crafts guilds, with their system of ranks, while thieves form more of a free flowing brotherhood. In any event, it is very difficult for a thief to operate completely on their own, so some sort of conclave is almost inevitable.

I grew up in just such a conclave. My 'father', who was not really my father, was well respected in the community at large, and even better respected among those who plied their trades in the dark alleys and byways. He owned a small warehouse and appeared to make a small but honest income storing goods for various traders, whocame to our city to supply the local merchants with trade goods and take the local products away to stronger markets. What the community at large did not know was that under the warehouse floor a hidden storage area served much the same function, except that the goods stored there were only being shipped away because they were too recognizable to be sold locally...their rightful owners would no doubt object. Some of those goods my father and a small group of friends would acquire themselves, but most came from a larger group of friends who much preferred a little coin in their pockets to a house full of stolen goods.

This circle of friends expanded slowly, for obvious reasons, and in many cases a new friend would be added to the circle without the convenience of a formal introduction. When someone new arrived in town, having fled the authorities in their former home, they obviously couldn't just ask around to find a business like my father's, and if they knew of him from his reputation in criminal circles they still could not just walk in off the street loaded with stolen goods and expect a friendly reception. A unique language of signals has developed over the ages to manage such obstacles. More like a multitude of local dialects than a language I suppose.

I've not seen fit to pursue the local 'dialect', though I'm sure Ahnassi would be happy to share it with me. Today, I was totally surprised to see the familiar signs of my own native dialect. The surprise came, really, from the confidence with which the signs were given, as well as the specific details. Frelene Acques turned out to be a 'relative' after all, and she knew it. The signals she gave were straight from my childhood. I acknowledged her signs without alerting Percius Mercius. Throughout the interviews and negotiations with my new guards I puzzled about what I had gotten myself mixed up in.

Three things were obvious. The attractive Breton was no warrior, or member of the Fighter's Guild. She had ingratiated herself with the guild steward for some reason that was most likely not what the pompous Cyrodiil believed. Somehow I was now a vital part of her plan, whatever that might be. In an effort to figure out more I invited Mercius to dinner, timing the invitation so that he could neither refuse nor go without the girl. She helped by letting out a delighted squeal at the mention of a dinner out. I sent word with one of my newly hired guards to let my household staff know that Bal Isra would be hosting its first guests.

The dinner was excellent, though I was too distracted to really appreciate it. I listened to everything the girl said, sorting it into broad categories.

There were obvious lies about her past, told for the benefit of her patron. She had apparently presented herself as a legitimate trader from the mainland, caught by the embargo and then infamously stripped of her goods by bandits. It was a good story, and played well with Mercius. A warrior, he sees himself cast as the hero in the damsel's tale. Like most good fabrications it is most likely embellished from some kernal of truth. Most likely she was running black market goods through the embargo.

Another series of half truths had lead Mercius into a very awkward position. The Comonna Tong presents themselves as a society of Dunmer businessmen; a sort of merchants guild that promotes local business. As such they can, and do, contract services from the fighter's guild. The fighters guild charter prevents them from contracting any illegal services, but in doing the legal tasks the mercenaries free the tong's own thugs for their less savory tasks. Very lucrative, and as long as the guild doesn't find out too much about their client's activities a fine relationship. In the course of investigating Frelene's losses Mercius has learned too much about the Tong, and nothing much about her.

Frelene's arrest by the Hlaalu was the final touch. Mercius was left with no way to avoid the truth of the connections between the 'innocent' Dunmer businessmen, the thugs of the Cammona Tong, and the leadership of House Hlaalu. There was no way he could avoid recognizing the truth, but also no way for him to prove it. The clever Breton thief was treading a very fine line. A search for solid evidence could easily reveal sordid truths about her that would sidetrack her intentions.

Laced through this background of the deception of Mercius were a number of points made for my benefit. These were harder to assess, as far as truthfulness, but their intent was clear. As Redoran Hortator and Archmage I have significant influence. Frelene is maneuvering to have that influence brought to bear against the tong. She is willing to draw heavily on our connected past to accomplish her aims. Her methods have fallen short of outright blackmail, so far, but I have to wonder how far she will go.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right.......I'm confused. I have almost no idea what the words that I just read mean.

-Noozooroo

1:45 PM  
Anonymous mikekearn said...

I think it means that the woman Arvil rescued is planning on using him, and is blissfully unaware of what sort of power he weilds, physically, magickally, and politically.

Or maybe I'm completely wrong. Ask Tim.

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I missed this part of the redoran quests. but you are doing a very good job at mixing the main quest and the redoran quests. however i am a bit confused. Frelene knows that Arvil is the guildmaster and the reodran hortator, but doesnt know he is the nerevarine correct? she is using percius as a stepping stool into the upper society of guilds and houses. and she wants Arvil to "lean" on the Hlaalu's and the cammonna tong right?
BTW im a long-time reader, first time posting. love your stuff tim.
Tantalus

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anonymous..
NO! NO! NO!
Arvil Bren, is only; Temple, Redoran and Mages Giulds...

I'll let Tim - Arvil Bren expain this...

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She had ingratitude herself with the guild steward for some reason that was most likely not what the pompous Cyrodiil believed.

I think this should be Ingratiated.

When someone new arrived in town, having fled the authorities in their former home,

Wish you could do this in Morrowind.

8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous..
Sorry for the NOs!!!

Arvil Bren, yes he Redoran Hortator.. I belive Arivl, is only an Councilman, in House Redoran. He still needs the votes - support of Garisa Llethri and Miner Arobar.. Athyn Sarethi is the acting ArchMaster.. Arvil, has his own little war with the Camonna Tong..

8:56 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I appreciate the apology. There's really not a call for any such stident correction of anyone elses theories. Even I, who have some idea of what is going on, have no intention of correcting anyone. I will clarify a couple things though.

First off, everyone 'missed this part' of the Redoran quests, since like a great many Morrowind quests the actual wrap up was limited to 'thanks, let me know if you have any problems with your new guards.' To the best of my knowledge, the freed prisoner is never seen again, and why the guild steward of the fighters guild needs the Redoran man off the street to free her in the first place (rather than send some fighters guild types)is never explained at all.

Second, yes, Frelene knows Arvil is the Archmage (certainly no secret), and the Redoran Hortator (common knowledge in Ald-ruhn at least...probably everywhere), and has no reason for knowing that he is the prospective Nerevarine. I'm not really sure myself exactly who knows that...I have to check back sometimes with recurring characters...but it's not widely known.

So...conclusion...where this ends up will be revealed in the next few episodes...and nowhere else. You can play every quest in Morrowind, memorize the strayegy guide, search the internet...as of this moment only I know...but truthfully I'm done with the 'free the prisoner/staff the stronghold' thing, what I'm actually working on is setting up Arvil's next project in a way that will hopefully make some sense.

11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tantalus..
As before I must, say I'am sorry!!
I have forgotten.. The Temple Notice..

The outlaw named "Arvil Bren" called Incarnate and Nerevarine, is an agent in the pay of the Imperial Itelligence Service. If seen in public, give the alarm.

Order of the Watch
Captain and Grandmaster
Berel Sala..

This notice is now in every tavern within the Hlaalu and Redoran Regions..

7:51 AM  

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