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> The Neveragaine, A Morrowind fanfic
Helena
post Aug 15 2010, 02:12 PM
Post #1


Agent

Joined: 14-August 10



Chapter 1: I Don’t Want To Go To Morrowind

It was a weird dream, I tell you that. I mean, I’ve had some strange dreams before, but this one was truly bizarre. Images flashed across my mind in a never-ending reel: fire, storms, a barren landscape, water droplets splashing into a pond... and scrolls covered in Daedric writing, which I don’t even understand. I must have eaten some really bad food the night before.

A woman’s voice was speaking. “They have taken you from the Imperial City’s prison, first by carriage, and now by boat. To the East, to Morrowind.

“Morrowind?” I squeaked. “I don’t want to go to Morrowind!”

Fear not,” she reassured me. “For I am watchful. You have been chosen.

“Chosen for what?” I asked plaintively. “And does it really have to be Morrowind? I mean, how about Valenwood? I always wanted to go to Valenwood.”

I have no idea why I thought I could reason with the mysterious dream-lady, but I guess you don’t tend to think all that rationally when you’re dreaming. It didn’t matter in any case, because at that very moment I was woken up by someone roughly shaking my shoulder.

“Wake up!” It was a hoarse, throaty voice, suggestive of a bad cold. “Wake up! We’re here.”

I opened my eyes to see a male figure, naked from the waist up, staring down at me. He had grey-green skin, red eyes, and huge, sharply-pointed ears – each studded with several earrings – not to mention a vicious-looking scar running down one side of his face. A Dunmer, I thought. Well, that explained the scratchy voice.

He looked concerned. “Why are you shaking? Are you okay?”

“I… guess,” I said weakly, trying to sit up. The back of my head hurt; I must have banged it against a packing crate. “Er… bad dreams.”

He nodded. “Yes, you were dreaming. What’s your name?”

“Um… Ada. Ada Ventura.” I was still half-asleep, my head full of sandstorms and creepy disembodied voices, but I vaguely remembered my companion telling one of the guards that his name was Jiub.

“Even last night’s storm couldn’t wake you.” He leaned a little closer as I swung my legs off the makeshift bunk, rubbing my eyes. “I heard them say we’ve reached Morrowind. I’m sure they’ll let us go.”

My head jerked up. “Morrowind? I don’t want to go to Morrowind!”

“I know,” he said, his eyes narrowing slightly. “You were saying.”

It was all right for him, I thought resentfully. He was a Dark Elf; Morrowind was his home. For me, it was different.

It’s not that I have a problem with Dark Elves in general. I’d got on fine with the more cosmopolitan Dunmer I’d met in Cyrodiil, but if there was one thing they’d all made clear to me, it was that Morrowind really didn’t welcome foreign visitors. Or, as one particularly gloomy fellow summed it up: “We don’t like outlanders.” ‘Outlanders’ it transpired, meant anyone born and raised outside of Morrowind – even other Dunmer. In fact, especially other Dunmer.

Why was I being sent to Morrowind, of all places? It wasn’t Imperial policy to deport convicts to the provinces, as far as I knew. Maybe the jails were getting too full?

Footsteps creaked on the ramp leading to the middle deck, and Jiub hastily drew back. “Quiet! Here comes the guard.”

I heard the jangle of keys as the guard, a fellow Imperial, strolled towards us. He gave me a curt nod as he approached, ignoring Jiub completely. “This is where you get off. Come with me.”

I hauled myself to my feet and obediently followed, wishing my legs didn’t ache so much. Several days cooped up a creaky old carriage, followed by the hold of a prison ship, had left me with a rather severe cramp. I couldn’t wait to get out of here and stretch my legs properly for the first time in days.

They hadn’t actually treated me that badly in the prison. I’d had adequate food and exercise, and I hadn’t been beaten or ill-treated (though the third time I tried to escape, the long-suffering guard captain told me that if it ever happened again, he wouldn’t be responsible for his actions). They’d even given me paper and a quill when I begged hard enough, probably hoping that it would keep me out of trouble. I’d used it to start a journal, which was pretty much the only thing that had kept me sane during my long stay in that tiny, windowless cell.

I clutched it against me as we entered the middle deck, praying that it wouldn’t be taken away. Okay, so it contained absolutely nothing of interest (I’d been in prison, for crying out loud), but it was almost the only possession I had, apart from the ratty old clothes I stood up in and a few small trinkets. Luckily, the guard didn’t even seem to notice.

Over by the next set of steps, he turned to me and fixed me with his best “you’re a disgrace to my people” glare. I scowled back at him. “I’m innocent, you know.”

“They all are,” he said with a sigh. “Now, get yourself up on deck, and let’s keep this as civil as possible.”

I couldn’t wait to get up on deck. I practically ran at the trapdoor, shoved it open, and drank in huge gulps of fresh, salty air, blinking in the early morning sunlight. Hauling myself up on to the deck, I squeezed my eyes shut and prepared to look on my new home of Morrowind for the first time ever.

I drew another deep, heady breath, and opened my eyes. And stared.

From the descriptions my Dunmer friends had given me, I had somehow envisioned Morrowind as an endless wasteland of rocks, lava valleys, and ash storms. But the landscape that stretched out before me was lush and green, with gentle waves lapping against a grassy shore. A village of quaint little huts surrounded the docks, and off in the distance I could see some kind of tower – a lighthouse, probably – surrounded by tall plane trees. It was, to my amazement, quite beautiful.

The soldier standing beside me, a Redguard, grinned at the look on my face. “This is where they want you. Head down to the dock and they'll show you to the Census Office.” He sounded a lot more friendly than the other guards on the ship.

I stumbled down the gangplank to be met by another guard, this one in full Imperial uniform. “You finally arrived!” he exclaimed, as if he’d been waiting all his life for this moment. “But our records don’t show from where.”

I gathered my thoughts. “Er, Ada Ventura, of Imperial City. Temple District,” I added, in case it was important. Though in actual fact, I’d barely set foot in the Temple District in several years.

“Great! I’m sure you’ll fit right in.” Wow, this guy was almost scarily friendly. “Follow me up to the office, and they’ll finish your release.”

I entered the census office, where I was met by an elderly-looking man who I presumed to be a clerk. “Ah yes,” he said briskly, “we’ve been expecting you. You’ll have to be officially recorded before you’re released. Now, just a few formalities…” He took up a sheaf of papers from his desk. “Your class, please?”

“My… class?” I repeated, slightly confused. “You mean my trade? Well… I don’t really have one as such.” The truth was, I’d never really studied for a trade. I’d just travelled around, learning whatever I thought was useful.

He sighed, and shoved the papers into my hands. “Here. Fill in the forms yourself.”

I sat down at the desk and began to note down everything I could think of that I was any good at. It was a bit of a mixed bag; while most of my skills were combat-related (blades, light and heavy armour, armour repair), I’d also learned to pick locks and disarm traps (useful in a tight spot) and to bargain for a good deal with merchants. Magic was a different matter; to be honest, I’d never really had much of a talent for it. The only discipline I’d studied in any detail was Restoration, and even then, all I could remember after five years was a single healing spell which I couldn’t even cast properly half the time.

“Here,” I said at last, handing him back the forms. I couldn’t really think of a good name for my lack-of-profession, so in the end I’d just put ‘mercenary’, which was pretty much accurate.

“Very good. Now, the letter which preceded you mentioned that you were born under a certain sign… which would be?”

Was this really necessary? I suppressed a sigh. “The Lady. Twenty-first of Heartfire, 3E 404.”

Interesting,” he murmured. “Now, just make sure this information is correct before I stamp the papers…”

I checked through the information, noting the date on the papers as I did so: 16th of Last Seed. I’d been in prison for over a year.

Once I’d finished, the clerk stamped the papers with the Imperial seal, and it seemed that I was good to go. “Show your papers to the Captain when you go to get your release fee,” he said with a smile.

I walked out into a small hallway, which contained a bookcase and a table with a half-finished meal on it. My stomach rumbled at the sight of the bread and meat – they’d only given us one meal a day on board the ship – but I didn’t want to take anything in case someone caught me. The last thing I needed was to be thrown back in jail for stealing on my first day of freedom.

The door at the end of the hallway led me out through an enclosed courtyard and into another office, where a man in a gleaming suit of Imperial Templar armour was sitting at a desk. This, I presumed, was the Captain I was supposed to report to.

“Er… Captain?” I said, holding out the papers. “I’m Ada, the prisoner who was just released. I was told to give these to you.”

“Ah, yes. Word of your arrival only reached me yesterday.” He looked slightly harassed. “Still, no matter. I’m Sellus Gravius, and I’m here to welcome you to Morrowind.”

“Pleased to meet you.” I wasn’t sure what else to say.

“I don’t know why you’re here,” he continued. “Or why you were released from prison and shipped here. But your authorization comes directly from Emperor Uriel Septim VII himself.”

I stared at him, wondering if I’d heard correctly. “What?”

“From the Emperor,” he repeated.

“The… Emperor?”

“Yes, the Emperor. Uriel Septim is still Emperor.” He gave me a rather strange look. “You do remember that, don’t you?”

Well, naturally I did. Uriel Septim had been Emperor several decades longer than I’d been alive. “Of course I do,” I snapped, then realised that it probably wasn’t a good idea to piss off the guy in charge of my release. “But… why?”

“Damned if I know,” he said bluntly. “But that's the way the Empire works. Silence. Secrecy. Let not the left hand know what the right hand is doing.”

I nodded slowly, still unable to take in what I’d just heard. Why the heck would the Emperor be personally ordering my release? He didn’t concern himself with people like me. Maybe there’d been a mistake, and the guy who was really supposed to be released had been dragged off to a salt mine somewhere.

“Anyway,” Gravius continued, “this package came with news of your arrival.” He handed me a small package. “You are to take it to Caius Cosades, in the town of Balmora. I also have a letter for you, and a disbursal to your name.”

He handed over an official-looking document and an oilskin pouch containing a handful of gold coins – just under a hundred septims’ worth, in my estimation. Suddenly I felt a lot more kindly disposed towards him. I was still thoroughly confused, but I certainly wasn’t about to turn down some desperately-needed cash.

“Right,” I said, pulling myself together. “Just let me write this down… where can I find this Cosades guy, by the way?”

“Take the silt strider to Balmora, then go to the South Wall Cornerclub and ask for Caius Cosades. They'll know where to find him.” He fixed me with a stern glare. “Serve him as you would serve the Emperor himself.”

I nodded and scribbled down the instructions in my journal, wondering what exactly a ‘silt strider’ could be. “Okay, thanks. I’ll do my best.”

“Goodbye,” he said with a faint smile, “and good luck.”

I hesitated for a moment before the door leading out into the village, then pushed it open. Bright sunlight streamed into the room, and I felt a sudden giddy rush of joy. Freedom! OK, so I was alone, friendless and nearly penniless in a foreign country with nowhere to stay and no possessions, but still… freedom! Freeeeeedom!

I looked around me, still struggling to adjust to the bright light after all those months in a dingy cell. Rather to my surprise, the first person I saw was not a Dunmer but a Bosmer – a Wood Elf, as we call them back West. Wood Elves aren’t my favourite people in general, but right now I was so happy to be free that I could almost have hugged him. I settled for a nod and a cheery “Good morning!”

“Greetings, Cyrodiil!” he said, in that high, squeaky voice that grates on your nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard. “Welcome to Seyda Neen! Are you the one the boat dropped off? Hope the Imperials treated you okay. I swear they took my ring.”

“Your ring?” I said, confused.

“I swear one of the Guards has it. I had it last week before their weekly ‘Let's shake down Fargoth’ ritual.” Fargoth, I gathered, was his name. “An engraved healing ring, family heirloom of mine. You haven't seen it, have you?”

“No,” I said. His face fell. “But I could look for it if you like,” I added, yielding to a generous impulse.

“Oh, thank you!” he exclaimed, brightening up. “Of course, you’re an Imperial, they won’t suspect you.”

I wasn’t quite so sure about that, but I turned around and headed back into the office I’d just left. The Captain, still writing at his desk, seemed more than a little surprised to see me back so soon. “Can I help you, citizen?” he asked, with a slight frown.

“Hi there,” I said, trying to sound casual. “I seem to have dropped my, er… comb… somewhere in here. I don’t suppose you’ve seen it, have you?”

He gave me another of those slightly bemused looks. “No, I haven’t seen it.”

“Okay, never mind. I’ll just have a quick look for it, then,” I said, and slipped through the other door before he could ask any more questions.

I returned to the census office where the clerk had taken my details, and had a quick hunt around for Fargoth’s ring. No one interrupted me to ask what I was doing, but it made no difference, as the ring was nowhere to be found. I even checked the cellar downstairs, but all I found were a few barrels of provisions, none of which looked particularly appetising.

Heading back into the courtyard, I was on the point of giving up when I noticed an ordinary-looking barrel standing close to the door. On impulse, I lifted the lid and peered at the contents. It appeared to function as a refuse bin, and was full of rotten food and broken crockery, but I could see something glinting near the bottom.

I reached into the barrel and pulled out… an engraved ring, enchanted with a minor healing spell. Success!

Damn, and it was a nice ring, as well. I could have done with a ring like that, especially in my current situation. I have to admit, I was sorely tempted to keep it for myself and tell Fargoth that I couldn’t find it.

I went back into the office, where the Captain was waiting. “Found it!” I said cheerfully, holding up my comb (which of course I’d had all along). “I’d just dropped it out there in the yard. Anyway, best be going.”

Fargoth greeted me excitedly as I left the office. “Have you looked for my ring, outlander? Did you find it?”

I looked into his eager little face, and I just couldn’t bring myself to lie to him. Besides, whatever else I might have done, I wasn’t a thief. “Yes, I found it,” I said, suppressing a sigh. “Here it is.”

“Oh, thank you!” he gasped, and before I could react he had flung his arms around me. “Thank you, thank you! You are now my favourite friend!”

“Er, no problem,” I said, a little overwhelmed by this display of gratitude. “I’m Ada, by the way.”

Ada,” he repeated. “I’ll remember that. I’ll be sure to tell everyone, especially my friend Arrille who runs the tradehouse here. Go see him, he’ll be happy to see you now!”

He scampered off, leaving me feeling slightly stunned. Oh well, if he put in a good word for me with the local trader, that couldn’t hurt.

Right, I thought, time to get some food. And before I went anywhere at all, I needed a weapon and some proper armour. Caius Cosades and his packages could wait.

I took the opportunity to observe Seyda Neen more closely as I walked up to the tradehouse. It was a tiny settlement, more a hamlet than a village, set in what appeared to be the middle of a swamp. Apart from the census office, the tradehouse, and another warehouse of some kind, there didn’t appear to be any buildings of interest.

The population was a mixed bag, which I suppose is unsurprising for a port settlement. Besides the Dunmer and Imperial guards, there were several other humans around the place, and I even spotted a High Elf woman emerging from one of the houses. Several Dark Elf citizens nodded to me as I passed, showing none of the hostility that the Morrowind Dunmer were supposedly famous for. “Good day to you, Cyrodiil.”

I was a little surprised to be so quickly recognised as Imperial, as I don’t really look like a typical Cyrodiil. Women of my race tend towards the short, dark and curvy, whereas I’m above average height, with a build that can only be described as ‘wiry’. My skin is pale, with a tendency to burn when I stay out in the sun too long, and my hair a colour that I like to call ‘bright copper’ and everyone else describes as ‘ginger’. Fellow Imperials often ask if I have Nord blood in me – but I guess that to the Dunmer, our distinguishing features must be as obvious as their ash-grey skin and red eyes are to us.

The trader Arrille, another High Elf, looked me over critically as I entered the inn. I felt the back of my neck itch slightly. I’ve always had a slight inferiority complex around Altmer – deliberately or not, they somehow invariably manage to give the impression that they’re looking down on you. (It doesn’t help that they literally are, as most of them stand six inches taller than your average human.)

“Ah, you must be Fargoth’s friend!” he exclaimed, as I approached. “Welcome to Arrille’s Tradehouse. I’m Arille, publican and proprietor. Would you like to hear about our most popular potions, or our most popular scrolls?”

I leaned over the counter. “Do you have any… weapons?”

I bought an iron longsword and shield at a cost of around seventy drakes (the local term for what we call ‘septims’, apparently), regretfully passing over a rather snazzy green robe. Yes, I admit it: I love fine clothes. I wear armour most of the time, but if it didn’t get in the way of fighting, I’d quite happily run around dressed in silks and satins as the mages do. (No need for practical clothing when you can just blast enemies with a fireball spell from twenty feet.)

After that, I bought a map and a cheap meal and headed upstairs to the bar to eat. By this time I was so hungry that I could quite happily have wolfed down three breakfasts at once, but unfortunately I was already getting low on money. I’d have to make some more somehow or I’d end up being stuck in this place for ever.

The dark-skinned woman behind the bar gave me a friendly smile, which I returned. I rather like Redguards; they’re skilled fighters and they know how to have a good time, with none of the snottiness of elves or Bretons. (So do Nords, come to that – just make sure you never try to outdrink one.)

“Hello there,” she said, as I sat down at the bar with my plate of food. “You’re new here, aren’t you? I’m Elone the Scout. If you need any directions, just ask.”

“Thanks.” We shook hands. “I’m Ada Ventura, of Imperial City. Maybe you could tell me how to get to Balmora?”

She wrote down some directions and marked various places of interest on my map, while I settled down to my meal of bread and crab meat. Seyda Neen was on the south-west coast of Vvardenfell, the large island that made up the bulk of northern Morrowind. Balmora was a medium-sized town to the north, though apparently quite a long walk away. “You’d be better off taking the silt strider,” she advised me.

“This may sound like a stupid question,” I said, “but… what exactly is a silt strider?”

She grinned. “Silt striders are giant insects. A compartment for passengers and cargo is hollowed from the shell, and the driver directs it by manipulating exposed organs and tissues. Pretty clever, don’t you think?”

Wow. Back in Cyrodiil, we just use horses.

“So what brings you to Morrowind, Ada?” she asked eventually. “We don’t see a lot of Imperial tourists here.”

“I’m not a tourist.”

“Business, then?” She looked surprised; it was clear from my outfit that I wasn’t wealthy.

“No.” I lowered my voice. “As a matter of fact, I… was just released from prison.”

Elone’s eyes widened. “Really? What did – ” She checked herself quickly. “Sorry, it’s none of my business.”

“No, that’s OK.” I felt a sudden urge to confide in someone, anyone. “You see, it was like this…”

*****

If I had only listened to my parents, none of this would ever have happened. Not my real parents, of course – I never knew my birth family, as they were kind enough to dump me in a basket outside the Temple of the One on the day I was born. To this day I have no idea who they were, or why they abandoned me. Supposedly I’d been wrapped in good linen, which suggested that they were well-off, but other than that there was nothing I could use to identify them.

I was taken in by a kindly local couple, Marcus and Sybilla Ventura, who raised me as their own child for eighteen years (though I called them ‘Aunt’ and ‘Uncle’). I won’t pretend they weren’t good to me; they brought me up well, bought me fine clothes and jewellery to wear, and pretended for as long as they could that I was going to turn out a beauty. The only thing they asked for in return was a dutiful daughter – which I unfortunately wasn’t.

It wasn’t that they were blinkered enough to deny me a trade, but their idea of a suitable trade didn’t exactly mesh with mine. They’d have preferred me to marry some rich merchant and settle down to the normal Imperial pursuits, namely: making money, making more money, hoarding it all up into a nice little pile, and then using it to make even more money. But I had other ideas: from the day I first visited the Arena, at the tender age of eight, I had known that I wanted to be a fighter. It was to lead to many, many bitter arguments between me and my family.

“I wouldn’t have minded the Legion,” Aunt Sybilla had sniffled, after one of these fights. “At least that’s a respectable profession. But what kind of trade is ‘wandering adventurer’? Messing around in horrible dirty caves and brawling in low taverns.”

I’d laughed at the time, but it was one of those ‘low taverns’ that had done for me in the end. I’d only stopped there for the night on my way to a job in Cheydinhal, near the border with Morrowind. The mead there was cheap, but powerful – the kind that doubles your strength at the expense of shutting down half your brain cells – and, fatally, I’d ended up drinking a few glasses too many.

It was all his fault, really. He shouldn’t have tried to cop a feel, and he certainly shouldn’t have called me that name when I shoved him away and told him to get lost. Besides, he was twice my size; how could I have guessed that my first punch would knock him out, or that he’d smash his head against the stone fireplace as he fell? I really, really didn’t mean to kill him.

There were plenty of witnesses to testify that it had been an accident – I’d even drunkenly tried to use a healing potion on him as he died – and I might have got away with a lighter sentence, had it not been for the guy’s family. He turned out to be the son of a noble family, one of those spoiled brats who like to show how ‘hard’ they are by visiting rough taverns and slumming it with the locals. His parents were hell-bent on charging me with murder, and they’d demanded blood money of five thousand septims – far more than I could possibly afford. I was far too ashamed to ask my adoptive family for help, and in any case, I’d hardly spoken to them since I left home nearly four years earlier.

So I went to prison, just under a month before my twenty-second birthday, with no clear prospect of release and my career (such as it was) in ruins. I’d been there ever since, rotting in a cell, only half a mile away from the fashionable district where I’d grown up.

*****

I didn’t give Elone the whole sob story, of course. I just told her that I’d been imprisoned for murder after accidentally killing a guy in a fight. She seemed sympathetic.

“Well, time to make a fresh start, huh?” she suggested. “Wipe the slate clean. Make a new life for yourself here in Morrowind.”

“Hmph.” I wasn’t too sure about that.

I finished off my meal, while Elone filled me in on the latest gossip. Apparently the local tax collector, Processus Vitellius, had gone missing. “Can’t say I’m surprised,” she said with a wink. “He wasn’t very popular around here.”

I wondered if there had ever been a tax collector in the entire history of the world who was actually popular with the locals. If so, he had to be some kind of saint.

As I left the bar, I was accosted by an off-duty Legionnaire at the top of the stairs. He was a typical Nord, big and beefy, with braided flaxen hair and a heavy beard. “Ho there, outlander!” His voice was slightly slurred, and I could smell alcohol on his breath – not a good sign at this time in the morning.

“Yes?” I said warily, keeping my hand on the hilt of my sword.

He leaned towards me. “You look like you could use a friend. Perhaps I could be your friend… if you help me recover some gold.”

“Go on.”

“You see, I’ve had a run of bad luck,” he confessed. “Lost a bit of money playing Nine-holes. Normally, I’d be fine, what with the money the locals pay us for… protection, but – ”

“Protection,” I said drily. “Right.”

“But I know some of them are holding out on me,” he went on. “That little fetcher Fargoth, for example. He’s come up light the last few times I’ve shaken him down. And I’ve been through his whole house, so I know it’s not there.”

I couldn’t help feeling sorry for Fargoth. The Bosmer are basically the racial equivalent of those scrawny kids who keep getting beaten up for their lunch money.

“So what do you want me to do?” I asked.

He motioned for me to come closer, and spoke in a low voice. “Find out where he’s stashing his gold. If you do it for me, I’ll give you a share of the wealth. You up for it?”

I was about to tell him to go and do his own dirty work, when I suddenly remembered how very short of money I was. I had only around fifteen septims left, which would barely be enough to pay for the silt strider, let alone any more meals (and food was pretty high on my list of priorities right now). Maybe this was not the best time to be a stickler for high moral principles.

“Maybe,” I mumbled. “So how would we share this wealth, exactly?”

He sighed. “I’ll give you a third of the gold, and you can keep any other loot you find. Deal?”

“All right,” I said reluctantly. “What do you want me to do?”

“Just wait until nightfall and then watch where he goes. The top of the lighthouse is a good vantage point – gives you a nice view of all Seyda Neen. Figure out where he goes and then bring the loot back to me, okay?”

It wasn’t really stealing, I told myself as I left the tradehouse. This was a Legion soldier, after all. No doubt he was collecting that money for entirely legitimate purposes of… protection. Absolutely.

Anyway, once I had some more money, it would be time to start figuring out a way to get home. Okay, so Morrowind might not be quite as bad as I had expected – but whatever Elone said, there was no way I would consider actually living here for any length of time. I was a Cyrodiil born and bred, and I belonged there.

I knew that my Uncle Marcus, a silk merchant, traded goods through the East Empire Company in the port of Ebonheart. Maybe I could find a ship there that would take me to the mainland? It would be expensive, no doubt, but perhaps I could find someone who knew my uncle – or perhaps even stow away on board a ship. There had to be some way out of this place.

I definitely did not plan to stay in Morrowind.
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minque
post Aug 15 2010, 03:02 PM
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Wise Woman
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From: Where I can watch you!!



ahh I like this, you write in a slightly humorous way that I find really amusing! So "beautiful Helena" be very welcome here and please continue your story!


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Chomh fada agus a bhionn daoine ah creiduint in aif�iseach, leanfaidh said na n-aingniomhi a choireamh (Voltaire)

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haute ecole rider
post Aug 15 2010, 09:04 PM
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Master
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Joined: 16-March 10
From: The place where the Witchhorses play



Ah ha! Welcome to Chorrol.com and to Morrowind, Ada Ventura!

I love her sense of dry humor and her mild sarcasm. It really shines here.

And we're off on another Morrowind adventure. For someone who's never played the game, I've become fairly familiar with the main quest and the unique and quirky land that lies east of Cyrodiil (I play Oblivion), thanks to a few outstanding MW stories here (as well as having read parts of yours before), so I'm going to enjoy reading this one more the second time around, I think.


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treydog
post Aug 16 2010, 12:44 AM
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From: The Smoky Mountains



One measure of how well-written TES fan fiction will be is how the writer handles the obligatory "starter" dungeon/town/quest.

And here we get wonderful indications of things to come. Ada immediately has a distinctive "voice" and personality which are appealing in their dry wit and self-awareness.

You also lay the groundwork for themes which we will no doubt see recur for some time- including the "But I don't WANT to go to (STAY IN) Morrowind" which gives this chapter its title.

This will be a treat to read from the very beginning, and I strongly encourage anyone who is unfamiliar with Ada to jump on before the silt strider pulls out of the station!


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The dreams down here aren't broken, nah, they're walkin' with a limp...

The best-dressed newt in Mournhold.
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D.Foxy
post Aug 16 2010, 01:59 AM
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HEALTH WARNING TO ALL READERS.


'THE NEVER EVER EVER AGAINE' IS A STORY THAT IS NOT ONLY EXTREMELY ADDICTIVE BUT IS GUARANTEED TO CAUSE THE FOLLOWING EFFECTS WHEN READ:

1. EYEBROW LIFTING
2. GIGGLING
3. SPUTTERING AND CHOKING
4. HOWLING ACCOMPANIED BY FOREHEAD SLAPPING.
5. SUDDEN GIGGLES ERUPTING TWO TO FIVE HOURS LATER EVEN WHEN THE STORY HAS BEEN READ
6. 'ACCIDENTS' HAPPENING (ESPECIALLY TO THOSE OF FEMALE PERSUASION) TO THOSE WITH, AHEM, WEAK BLADDERS.
7. DAMAGE DONE TO SCREENS AND KEYBOARDS AND NASAL PASSAGES IF READ WITH BEVERAGE IN MOUTH


YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!


This post has been edited by D.Foxy: Aug 16 2010, 02:01 AM
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Acadian
post Aug 16 2010, 02:38 AM
Post #6


Paladin
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Las Vegas



Welcome to Chorrol, Helena. smile.gif

This is delightfully fun to read. Ada is as wonderful as ever, and so easy to like. What a pleasure to start at the beginning of her story.



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Olen
post Aug 16 2010, 12:54 PM
Post #7


Mouth
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Joined: 1-November 07
From: most places



I should have seen Foxy's warning before starting to read, this is brilliant and peppere with laugh out loud lines. I'm liking how it's shaping up too, sort of parody but with a good story to back it up. Grand.

QUOTE
“You finally arrived!” he exclaimed, as if he’d been waiting all his life for this moment.
“Great! I’m sure you’ll fit right in.” Wow, this guy was almost scarily friendly.

Brilliant.


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Look behind you and see an ever decreasing number of ghosts. Currently about 15.
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SubRosa
post Aug 16 2010, 05:15 PM
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Ancient
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds



Hi Helena, welcome to Chorrol, and Hi Ada, welcome to Morrowind!

A fun read, I am looking forward to more of Ada's tongue-in-cheek observations on the world.

To think that one day Ada will be able to look back and say "I met the guy who drove the cliffracers out of Vvaardenfell!" biggrin.gif

Maybe the jails were getting too full?
Fidel Septim strikes again!

Okay, so it contained absolutely nothing of interest (I’d been in prison, for crying out loud)
Actually prison is a place where people often do prolific writing. It is where Hitler wrote Mein Kampf for example, and Thomas Malory appears to have written Le Morte d'Arthur, and of course where G'kar wrote The Book of G'kar.

One nit I noticed is the post length. 5,000+ words is a lot for a single post. It becomes an intimidating wall of text that tends to discourage people from reading. It is why I have only just gotten around to reading it now, even though I saw it yesterday. Post lengths of 1,000 - 2,000 words, every other day, seem to do best. I know you have it all written and probably want to get it all on the board, but there is no hurry, we are not going anywhere.

This post has been edited by SubRosa: Aug 18 2010, 03:53 AM


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Remko
post Aug 16 2010, 05:47 PM
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Finder
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From: Ald'ruhn, Vvardenfell



How nice of you to grace us with your presence Helena smile.gif Look forward reading your neveragaine again cool.gif


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Strength and honour, stranger!

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mALX
post Aug 17 2010, 12:41 AM
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From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN



Yeah! Helena (and Ada Ventura) in Chorrol !!

This post has been edited by mALX: Aug 17 2010, 12:42 AM


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Jacki Dice
post Aug 17 2010, 05:03 AM
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OMG!OMG!OMG!OMG!OMG!OMG!

You're posting here!!! Yay! This is one of my absolute faves!


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Madness Helps Me Save Myself
Nemesis

Standing on the cliffs that kiss burning winds
We are rising together
Brazen, exalting, a hiss of triumph rings
I am yours
...Yours immortally
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Destri Melarg
post Aug 17 2010, 08:05 AM
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Mouth
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From: Rihad, Hammerfell



I can see why there is so much excitement for this story. Oh, sorry Helena . . . Destri, welcome again to Chorrol. Three things in particular stood out in this chapter for me:

First, I like the way you capture the uncertainty that attends the beginning of Morrowind for the new player. Morrowind was my introduction to the Elder Scrolls series and the way you write it brings it all back for me. That is magic!

Second is the clever way in which you incorporated a description of Ada:
QUOTE
I was a little surprised to be so quickly recognised as Imperial, as I don’t really look like a typical Cyrodiil. Women of my race tend towards the short, dark and curvy, whereas I’m above average height, with a build that can only be described as ‘wiry’. My skin is pale, with a tendency to burn when I stay out in the sun too long, and my hair a colour that I like to call ‘bright copper’ and everyone else describes as ‘ginger’. Fellow Imperials often ask if I have Nord blood in me – but I guess that to the Dunmer, our distinguishing features must be as obvious as their ash-grey skin and red eyes are to us.

It is a difficult thing to do a good main character description in a first-person narrative. Having done the difficult this well, I now trust Ada to take me where she will.

Third is simply this:
QUOTE
I rather like Redguards; they’re skilled fighters and they know how to have a good time, with none of the snottiness of elves or Bretons.

I now officially love Ada Ventura!


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Helena
post Aug 18 2010, 05:19 PM
Post #13


Agent

Joined: 14-August 10



Wow... I go away for a couple of days and come back to find 11 replies! Thanks for all the great feedback, everyone.

SubRosa, I'm sorry if the chapter length puts you off, but unfortunately there's not much I can do about it now - the story is already written in 40 chapters of around 4,000-5,000 words each (some a little shorter, some longer). Personally I find that just the right length for a chapter!

Anyway, here's the next one:

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Chapter 2: Seeing The Sights

Just outside the tradehouse I met an Imperial man in his early forties. It was great to see someone else of my own race – apart from the guards, of course – and I greeted him warmly. “Hi there.”

“Hello, sister,” he said, smiling. “Are you new here? You’ll be wanting to take the silt strider to get out of this place.”

“Where can I find it?”

He gestured towards a steep incline on the eastern bank of the river which surrounded the village. “Just at the top of the hill there. Tell the caravaner that Vodunius Nuccius sent you.”

I stared in amazement when I first saw the silt strider. It was a massive insect, at least twenty feet high, with legs as thick as tree trunks – like a ground beetle blown up to gigantic proportions by some kind of magical accident. The hollowed-out body, where the passengers rode, could only be reached from the top of the hill that Vodunius had indicated.

The caravaner told me that she made a round trip to Balmora twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Since I’d agreed to spy on Fargoth that evening, I’d have to spend the night in Seyda Neen.

In the meantime, I decided to make the most of my time here and explore a little. There wasn’t much to see, with the scenery mainly consisting of swamp, swamp and more swamp, but a few hundred yards from the village I came across a small wooden door in a cliff face. How nice, I thought. A little cave.

I did hesitate briefly before entering, but there was nothing to indicate that it was private or off limits in any way. I assumed that the door had been put there for the benefit of the occasional tourist who came through Seyda Neen – after all, it wasn’t as if the place had many other attractions to offer. It swung open easily on my touch, and I entered the cave through the narrow doorway.

The cave was small and dark, lit only by a few torches and a wood fire in the centre. At the far side I could see another wooden gate, which presumably led further into a system of caverns. I stood on a rocky ledge a couple of feet above the ground; on the floor below, next to an overturned boat, a Dunmer woman in sailor’s clothing sat warming herself by the fire.

The moment she saw me she leapt to her feet, her face contorted with fury. “You n’wah!”

“Er… sorry,” I murmured, backing away slightly. “Am I trespassing? I didn’t realise – ”

I swear to Akatosh, she just rushed straight at me. No warning, not even a “surrender or die!”, just a rusty-looking iron dagger straight in my face. If she hadn’t had to run up to the ledge to reach me, I wouldn’t even have had time to reach for my sword. It was only by some miracle that I managed to block her first couple of blows with my shield.

I’ve no idea why she thought it was a good idea to attack a swordswoman with a dagger – maybe she thought the element of surprise would be enough to give her the edge. As it was, instinct kicked in and I lashed out with my blade, cutting deeply into her arm and causing her to drop the knife with a howl of pain. The blow knocked her off balance and she fell backwards off the ledge, striking her head against a jutting-out rock with a sickening and all-too-familiar crack.

I jumped down from the ledge and ran over to the gate, which opened onto a flight of steps leading down into the cave. Somewhere below I could hear alarmed voices echoing through the cavern. More of them?

Footsteps clattered up the stairs and I had the presence of mind to throw myself into the hollow behind the wooden doorframe, just seconds before another Dunmer rushed through the gate. He wore only a robe, with no armour or weapons visible, and I heard him mutter some kind of protection spell as he entered. Uh-oh, a mage. This was not good.

I’d fought mages before, of course, mainly necromancers. (Necromancy isn’t technically banned in Cyrodiil – though the Mages’ Guild has been arguing about it for years – but they tend to get really shirty when you interrupt them in the middle of their foul rituals.) But I’d always been careful to wear armour with the appropriate enchantments, or simply snipe them from a distance with a bow and arrow – and neither of those things were available right now. Any second now the guy was going to turn around and see me, and when he did, I was dead.

There was no time to think. As the mage bent over the body of his fallen companion, I sprang out of my hiding-place and rushed at him with sword raised. He whirled round, starting to mouth the words to a spell, and I slashed him a heavy blow across the neck. He collapsed to his knees, gasping and clutching at his throat.

Something very sharp struck my left shoulder, and I turned to see yet another Dunmer woman in standing in the doorway, a gleam of metal glinting in her upraised hand. Throwing stars? I deflected the next one with my shield and rushed straight at her, shoving her backwards with all my strength. She shrieked, stumbled backwards, lost her footing and tumbled headlong down the steep flight of steps just behind the gate, coming to rest in a crumpled heap at the bottom.

I glanced around frantically, clutching my injured shoulder, but no further attackers appeared. The two other Dunmer were lying motionless on the floor, still twitching slightly, but clearly either dying or already dead. A sudden heavy silence fell, broken only by the crackle of the fire and my ragged breathing.

With my heart still thumping like a hammer, I crept down the steps to the bottom of the cave, fully expecting to be jumped by more crazed Dunmer at any moment. The sound of a rat squeaking somewhere in the distance nearly gave me a heart attack. At the foot of the stairs I bent over the second woman’s body to check her pulse, but I could tell just by looking at her that she was dead.

I drew a long, deep, shaky breath, trying to get a grip on myself. What the hell was going on here? Why had these people attacked me on sight without the slightest provocation? The only people I knew who acted like that were necromancers, but these guys clearly weren’t necromancers – not enough stylish black robes and fancy skull-and-pentagram decorations, for a start. And just what the heck was an n’wah?

The feeling of something wet trickling down the side of my arm reminded me that I’d been wounded. I craned my neck to see the cut on my shoulder – it didn’t look very deep, but it was bleeding quite heavily, and once the shock wore off it would probably hurt like hell. I really ought to fix it before it got infected or something.

I tried to cast a healing spell, but I was still breathless and shaking, and I stumbled over the Daedric words. The problem with spells is that if you don’t say them exactly right, while gesturing in exactly the right way and focussing the magical energies at precisely the right moment, they just don’t work. A second unsuccessful attempt left me with too little magicka for a third try – meaning that I’d have to waste money on a healing potion later on. I sighed, and looked around for something to bandage up the wound.

The cave had clearly been used as a base by these people – whoever they were – for quite a while. Flickering torchlight illuminated a wooden platform stacked with crates and barrels, by the side of a large pool in the floor of the cave. On one of the crates was a small key, which I took, and – oh, joy! – a pile of clean clothes, probably belonging to one of the female Dark Elves. I wound one of the shirts around my shoulder as a bandage, and tucked the rest under my arm for later.

Further into the cave I could see more piles of crates, neatly stacked. Just what was this place being used for? I cautiously prised open the lid of the nearest crate, to find it stuffed with packets of what looked like moon sugar. Another one contained about a dozen small, opaque bottles, each of the exact same size and shape.

Carefully pulling the stopper out of one bottle, I was almost knocked backwards by the powerful stench of skooma. Ah, so that was what was going on here – smuggling! No wonder those Dunmer had reacted so badly to my innocently stumbling on their little hideout.

I used a sack and some string to put together a makeshift pack, and began to search the crates for anything which I could use to barter. The skooma would have fetched a good price with anyone who was willing to deal in that sort of thing, but I wasn’t touching it. I didn’t know what the penalty was for possession of the stuff here in Morrowind, and I really didn’t want to find out.

I caught sight of my reflection in the still water of the pool as I knelt down by one of the crates, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. My face was streaked with grime, my skin looked even pastier than usual after months of sunlight-deprivation, and my hair was a rat’s nest. Gods, even in prison I’d managed to keep myself cleaner and tidier than this. My comb was one of the very few possessions they’d allowed me to keep, after I’d pleaded with the guard captain (yeah, I know it’s pathetic, but I can’t help it. I’m an Imperial; it’s in the blood.)

Having gathered up anything which I thought might fetch a few coins, I made my way up the stairs to the cave opening. Just as I was about to leave I heard footsteps and a faint cough, somewhere up above me. I spun round, sword at the ready, but all I saw was a wooden gate at the top of another flight of steps.

Very, very cautiously, I crept up the stairs – shield held out in front of me to deflect any attacks – and peered through the slats of the gate. It was padlocked, and inside I could see three figures: two Argonians, a male and a female, and a Khajiit. They looked painfully thin, and the Khajiit’s fur was dirty and matted. Prisoners?

I fumbled for the key which I’d picked up earlier and tried it in the gate; it turned easily. The prisoners cowered back a little as I pushed open the gate; poor things, they clearly hadn’t been treated well by their captors. We stared at each other in silence for a couple of seconds, until finally one of the Argonians hissed “Misstresss?”

“It’s okay,” I said quickly, anxious to reassure them. “I’ve killed all the smugglers. You’re free to go.”

The prisoners exchanged glances, but none of them moved. Finally the Khajiit spoke up: “You must unlock these bracers to free us, good friend.”

I stared at the iron bracers on his outstretched wrists. They had a faint shimmer around them indicating some kind of enchantment – I couldn’t tell what kind without examining them more closely. For a moment I wondered what could possibly be going on here, and then suddenly it hit me.

They were slaves.

…Slavery was legal in Morrowind, wasn’t it?

I’d had plenty of heated debates about slavery with the Dunmer I’d met in the past (generally over several glasses of ale), but we’d always ended by politely agreeing to disagree. But that had been back in Cyrodiil, where the question was entirely academic in any case. Now that I was here in Morrowind, I was going to come across slaves and slave owners all the time… which meant I would either have to stand by and watch it happen, or do something about it. And if I chose the second option, I was the one breaking the law.

I wish I could say that I immediately brushed off all other concerns in favour of Doing The Right Thing, but I didn’t. Instead, I hesitated, wondering if I could really afford to risk going back to jail again. The three slaves stared back at me with mournful eyes, waiting.

Oh, sod it. I couldn’t just leave them here to starve, could I? Besides, who could object to me freeing slaves from smugglers?

I tried the gate key on one of the Khajiit’s wrist irons, and it fit perfectly. Quickly I unlocked all the bracers, tossing them into a heap in the corner. “Thank you, ssssera,” whispered the first Argonian, but they still made no attempt to leave.

“Guys, you can go now,” I told them. “Seriously.”

Nobody moved. “Fine,” I said, with a sigh. “In your own time, then.”

Oh well, at least I’d done my good deed for the day. Maybe it would somehow make up for the not-quite-so-good one I was going to do later this evening.

Leaving the cave I felt a twinge of pain in my left shoulder, reminding me that I still had a fairly nasty wound to deal with. My muscles were starting to ache as well, and I hadn’t even been fighting that hard. It was just beginning to dawn on me how very out of practice I was after a year in prison. When I was in the Guild I’d worked out nearly every day to keep myself in shape, but months of lounging around in a jail cell had taken their toll.

A Dark Elf woman paused in the middle of hanging out her washing as I limped past. “Outlander, you are wounded!”

“Yes, well noticed,” I snapped, too tired and annoyed for politeness. “Did you know that there were smugglers hiding out in the cave over there?”

“Of course,” she said, nodding vigorously. “Everyone knows, but the guards just ignore it. Someone must have paid them off.”

“Well, someone might have told me!” I hissed. “Before I wandered straight into them!”

Her jaw dropped. “Outlander, are you saying you went in there alone? And… and came out alive?”

“Just about,” I said sourly. “Anyway, they’re all dead now. I hope there’s some kind of reward for this, by the way.”

She backed away slightly, clearly unsure whether or not to believe me. I shrugged and staggered on up to the tradehouse, ignoring Snotty Arrille’s look of disgust at my dishevelled state and bloodstained clothing.

“A flask of your finest healing potion, Arrille, my good man,” I rasped, tossing down some coins on the counter. “And do you have any Destruction spells?”

I made my purchases and then headed to the upper rooms for a well-earned bath, clutching a healing potion in one hand and the instructions for a powerful fireball spell in the other. Ten minutes later, relaxing happily in a tub of warm water, I remembered that Dunmer were virtually immune to fire magic – rendering my expensive new spell useless against well over half of Vvardenfell’s population. Oh, well.

I scrubbed myself and my armour until we were both clean and shiny, and managed to torture my hair into something resembling neatness. That done, I put on my new clothes and went out to spend the rest of the day in Seyda Neen. I was careful to stay well within sight of the heavily-armed Imperial guards, though I did return briefly to the cave just to check what had happened to the slaves. They were gone.

At dusk, I went to the lighthouse to take up position for my observation of Fargoth. A young Dunmer woman, probably the lighthouse-keeper, was sat reading on a bench just inside; she shot me a rather curious glance as I passed, clearly wondering what I was doing there. I stuck my hands in my pockets and whistled as I walked up the stairs, trying to look as nonchalant as possible.

The sun was sinking behind the horizon as I emerged on top of the lighthouse; it was getting distinctly colder, and a stiff breeze had sprung up. Suddenly I wished I’d bought some kind of coat or cloak to protect myself from the wind, instead of wasting my money on a near-useless fire spell. I positioned myself strategically behind the base of the lamp, where I couldn’t be easily seen by anyone in the village, and settled down to wait.

You ever read those adventure stories where the hero trails the villains to their lair to spy on them, and it all sounds incredibly exciting? Don’t believe them. I sat there for nearly four hours, huddled up and growing rapidly colder and stiffer, before I finally spotted Fargoth creeping through the shacks at the water’s edge. He was carrying a lit torch, and moving in such an exaggeratedly ‘sneaky’ way that I wondered he didn’t alert the whole village.

To my surprise, he paused suddenly by the bank of a small pond and glanced around him to check that no one was watching. Satisfied, he proceeded to creep into the water, where I saw him stuff something into a tree-stump in the middle of the pond. A-ha!

I waited until I was sure he was gone and then stood up, wincing with pain as the blood rushed back into my frozen muscles. It was near midnight now, and the only light came from the two moons, the lighthouse fire, and a couple of torches down in the village. I made my way down from the base of the lamp to the door which led back into the lighthouse, and gave it a careful push. It didn’t budge.

I pushed again, harder, but it still didn’t move. Oh, bloody hell, they’d locked it!

I looked around frantically, trying not to panic. The walls of the lighthouse were too smooth to climb, especially with all the gear I had to carry, and if I tried to jump from this height I’d probably break my neck. I could try knocking, but that might well alert one of the guards down below. As if on cue, I heard a faint rumble of thunder in the distance and felt a couple of drops of rain splash onto my head.

There wasn’t much choice, was there? Either I stayed up here in the freezing cold and rain for the entire night, and missed my chance to get Fargoth’s loot, or I risked arrest – not to mention severe embarrassment – by waking up the lighthouse-keeper. Of the two options, I decided I preferred the latter.

I had to knock several times, quite heavily, before the sleepy-looking Dunmer woman finally opened the door. She looked pretty astonished to see me, which was understandable. “Outlander, what are you doing up here? I thought you’d gone!”

“Sorry,” I mumbled. “Just don’t ask, okay?”

She shook her head in disbelief, but forbore to ask any more questions. I left the lighthouse as quickly as possible and hurried over to the pond where I’d seen Fargoth. It appeared to be part of the swamp, as it stank and the surface was covered with a thick coating of algae. Once I was sure that none of the patrolling guards were nearby, I rolled up the legs of my pants and waded knee-deep into the cold, stagnant, smelly water.

As I had guessed, the tree-stump was hollow. Inside I found a money pouch, a lockpick and a ring – ironically, the very same ring I’d recovered for Fargoth earlier in the day. Talk about playing both sides…

I managed to leave the pond without being spotted and headed back to the tradehouse, only to find that it had shut up for the night. I groaned in disgust and was just about to leave, hoping I could at least find a dry place to sleep, when I heard footsteps behind me and a hoarse whisper.

“Psst! Outlander!” It was the Nord soldier who had asked me to find Fargoth’s hiding place. He looked even more drunk than he had earlier in the day, and was swaying slightly. “You get my money?”

“Here. Three hundred septims.” I shoved the bag into his hand, trying rather unsuccessfully to conceal my distaste for the entire business.

“Ha! Sherve the li’l fetcher right for lying to me.” He thrust a meaty hand into the bag and pulled out a handful of coins. “Here, take your share.” He took a wobbly step towards me, leering into my face, and my heart sank. “You’re pretty, y’know that?”

“No, I’m not,” I said through gritted teeth. “That’s just the ale talking. Now, if you’ll excuse me – ”

The man chuckled. “Jush kidding, outlander. Heard about you and the shmugglers. I can see you’ve Nord blood in yer, for all you’re a stuck-up Cyrodiil.” I took it that this was meant as a compliment. “Shay,” he continued, “how’d you like to join the Legion?”

“Join the Legion?” I was momentarily taken aback. “Could I do that?”

“Sure! Jush head up north to Gnisish an’ talk to General, uh… wossname. They’re hiring there.” He gave me a little wave and wandered off.

Wow, I thought. Only a day ago I’d been a convict on board a prison ship, now I was being asked to join the Imperial Legion. Truly Morrowind was a land of opportunity.

I’d never really considered joining the Legion before – I preferred the more relaxed atmosphere of the Fighters’ Guild – but suddenly it didn’t sound like such a bad idea. In my current penniless state, the prospect of free food, free beds and good-quality armour and weapons was pretty tempting. Though of course, there wouldn’t be much point in joining if I was heading back to Cyrodiil in a few weeks.

Anyway, right now I needed to find a safe place to spend the night, preferably out of the rain. The cave would be dry, but I didn’t fancy spending the night there with three dead bodies – quite apart from the blood and mess, waking up surrounded by vengeful ghosts was not my idea of fun. I ended up crawling under the wooden steps leading up to the tradehouse, and was just trying to find a comfortable spot when I was interrupted by a passing Legion soldier. “Sorry, citizen, you can’t sleep here. It’s illegal.”

“But the inn is shut,” I protested.

“Then you’ll have to sleep outside the village. I’m sorry, ma’am.”

Cursing under my breath, I gathered together my things and headed over the bridge that led to the mainland. It was seriously dark out here, and since I’d foolishly neglected to bring a torch I had almost no way to see where I was going. After wandering around for several minutes, trying to keep out of the rain and avoid stumbling into a bog, I finally managed to find a relatively dry patch of moss under a tree. There I settled down to sleep, clutching my sword and hoping I wouldn’t wake up to find a mudcrab chewing my face off.

When I woke, it was early morning and the first weak shafts of sunlight were starting to filter through the trees. Birdsong filled the air, and I could hear a faint buzzing noise somewhere behind me. There was also a… rather curious smell, which I couldn’t quite identify.

I hoisted myself into a sitting position, looking around me to see if the village was in sight, and suddenly froze. In the dim light, that weird shape a few feet away looked exactly like… good gods, it was, wasn’t it? A man’s body, lying spreadeagled on the ground and surrounded by a small cloud of flies – and a pool of dried blood.

I had to suppress a shudder as I approached the corpse. I’d seen far too many dead bodies to be squeamish around them, but this one was particularly disgusting; the man had clearly been dead several days, and his body was already beginning to decompose. His throat had been cut – probably from behind, as his face was frozen in a grimace of surprise and horror and it looked like he’d struggled briefly. Poor b*stard.

I crouched down and began to search the body to see if there was anything to identify him. In a pocket of his robe I discovered a bag of money, around two hundred septims in all, and a list of names showing amounts owed to ‘Seyda Neen Census and Excise Office’ by each inhabitant of the village. My amazing powers of deduction allowed me to guess that this was Processus Vitellius, the missing taxman.

Great, I thought. Just great. Now I’d have to go back and report this to the Captain, and he’d probably want to start asking me questions. At least I couldn’t be accused of this murder; anyone could see the guy had been dead since before I’d arrived in the village.

Sellus Gravius looked anything but happy when I marched into his office. “Are you still here? I thought – ”

“Yes, yes, I’m going,” I said testily. “I just came to tell you that I found your missing tax collector, out there in the swamp. Or what’s left of him, at least.”

His eyes widened in shock. “Then… he’s dead? Murdered?”

“Yes. And it wasn’t me,” I added quickly. “He’s been dead for days.”

“Oh, dear,” he sighed. “You’d better go and speak to Socucius Ergalla, over in the census office.”

I returned to Socucius, the clerk who’d greeted me when I first arrived in Seyda Neen, and explained to him how I’d found Vitellius’s body. “What a waste,” he said sadly, shaking his head. “He was a good man, too. But these are dangerous times we live in.”

“Tell me about it,” I muttered, thinking of the cave of murderous smugglers two minutes’ walk away from the village.

“Did you happen to find the tax money he collected?” he enquired. “I hate to sound callous, but I have a job to do.”

“Yes, I did. Here.” I handed him the pouch with the 200 septims, and the tax record showing who had paid.

Ergalla frowned. “How odd that he was murdered, but not robbed. Still, thank you, Ada – I appreciate your honesty.” He paused. “In fact, if you’re looking for some money, I would like to see Processus’s murderer punished. Find him, bring him to justice, and the Census and Excise Office will pay you 500 septims.”

Five hundred! I wished I’d known about this earlier. That way I wouldn’t have had to spend the previous night freezing my a**e off on top of a lighthouse.

“I’ll find him,” I promised. “Or her. Any ideas where I should start looking?”

“No,” he said sadly. “Who could possibly have wanted to kill an innocent taxman?” Who indeed.

Amazingly enough, the people of Seyda Neen didn’t seem all that keen on helping me with my enquiries. After asking several people I was eventually directed to Thavere Vedrano, the Dunmer woman who lived in the lighthouse. Apparently she and Processus had been good ‘friends’ and had been seeing a lot of each other lately.

I greeted her awkwardly, partly out of embarrassment over the previous night’s events, but mainly because I wasn’t sure how to break the news. “Hello, Thavere,” I said softly. “I’m… afraid I have some bad news for you.”

Her eyes widened. “It’s Processus, isn’t it?”

I nodded. “He’s been found dead, I’m afraid. Murdered. I’m really sorry.” Gods, I hated having to do this.

“Murdered!” she gasped. “But – but why?” She turned away, blinking back tears. “He was the gentlest man I’ve ever met. I’ve never seen him raise a hand to anyone. Who could have wanted to kill him?”

“I’m not sure,” I admitted. “I was hoping you might have some idea.”

She thought for a moment, sniffling. “Well, I saw him arguing with Foryn Gilnith about his taxes. He thought Processus had been levying too much, and skimming off the top for himself.” A choked sob escaped her. “Ridiculous! Processus wouldn’t have done such a thing.”

“All right, I’ll speak with Foryn,” I said. “You don’t know of anyone else who might have wanted him dead?”

She shook her head, wiping her eyes with her sleeve. “No. Outlander, Processus and I had become very… close, in the past few months. Could you find out what happened to the ring I gave him? I would like it to remember him by.”

“I’ll do my best,” I promised, and left her to grieve in private.

Foryn Gilnith turned out to live in one of the wooden shacks by the waterside, a small, poky one-room cottage. The inside was as cheerless as the outside, with only a hammock for a bed and some rickety wooden furniture. Gilnith himself looked far from pleased to see me; I got the impression that he didn’t much like outlanders, or at least Imperials.

“Good morning,” I said briskly. “My name’s Ada Ventura, and I’m investigating the murder of a certain Processus Vitellius. Would you happen to know anything about that?”

He met my glance defiantly. “That fetcher? You’re damn right I did him in, and a good thing too!”

My mouth dropped open. I hadn’t expected him to just come out and admit it!

“He was skimming a load of money from all of us honest people,” he continued. “Overcharging us on our taxes and keeping the difference for himself. He was always flaunting his money around, showing off his new clothes and jewels.”

“I see,” I said, folding my arms. “So you slit his throat and dumped his body in the swamp.”

He nodded. “Yes, and good riddance to the b*stard. Look what I found on him!” He dug into his pocket and pulled out an expensive-looking ring. “You think he could afford this on a taxman’s salary?”

“You idiot,” I growled. “He didn’t buy that ring, it was given to him by Thavere Vedrano. His girlfriend.”

“Oh.” For a moment he looked slightly uncomfortable, but then the defiance returned to his eyes. “So what are you going to do, Imperial? Kill me, or side with us poor folk and let me go?”

I stared at him in disbelief. “Look, you can’t just go around killing people because you think taxes are too high! If you’ll come quietly to the census office, I’m sure we can – ”

He lashed out so quickly with the dagger that I only managed to dodge it by a fraction of a second. Automatically I struck back, skewering him through the ribs with my sword before I even had time to think. He staggered back, gurgling horribly as blood began to dribble from his mouth. I finished him off with a few clean strokes, not wanting to prolong his suffering, and he fell lifeless to the floor.

I gazed incredulously at the grim scene in front of me, shaking my head. One single day I’d been in Morrowind, and already I’d killed four people and broken the law at least twice. What kind of reputation would I have by this time tomorrow?

I decided it was probably time to get out of Seyda Neen.

This post has been edited by Helena: Aug 19 2010, 09:02 PM
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haute ecole rider
post Aug 18 2010, 08:07 PM
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Heh heh.

I really enjoyed Ada's take on Seyda Neen. That smuggler's cave was pretty funny - "N'wah!" "Oh, sorry, I didn't know I was tres -" YIKES!

Sleeping outside, waking up to buzzing flies and a certain stench. Unforgettable!


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hazmick
post Aug 18 2010, 08:23 PM
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From: Northern England, Southern Tamriel.



A good story. It's made me wonder if i'm missing out on something (I've never played Morrowind). Freeing the slaves laugh.gif solving crime, what an exciting chapter biggrin.gif


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Haa-Rei

Cirinwe

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

"...a quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business."
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treydog
post Aug 18 2010, 10:32 PM
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My characters died in Addamasartus- frequently. I still remember the first time I poked my head in, it was very similar to what Ada experienced. "Hi, my name is...." "DIE, n'wah!"

Yup, Seyda Neen is a remarkably unhealthy place- of course, Ada has yet to meet one more of the "late" residents- although I believe that is coming up soon...


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The best-dressed newt in Mournhold.
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Kazaera
post Aug 18 2010, 11:11 PM
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And I remember why I enjoyed this story so much! I love Ada's attitude about things. laugh.gif "I don't want to go to Morrowind!" An eminently sensible reaction, I'd say! I also like the way she's a mixture of pragmatic and kind - giving Fargoth his ring back, then stealing from him because, well, she needs the money!

I'm afraid if we're competing for the spot of humorous Morrowind fanfic, I won't be much competition next to this!

As many of the others, I laughed when I read the scene with the smuggler. The tendency of Morrowind enemies to just charge at you no matter what you do is one that most characters take a while to get used to, I think! And the scene with her waking up next to Processius was excellent.

Re: post length - I don't mind the longer chapters at all, but FYI I'm splitting up mine into smaller pieces for posting here (which are all 10k+ because Adryn is very, very verbose. *sighs*)


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Olen
post Aug 19 2010, 07:50 PM
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Woo, great stuff. Addamasartus is the starter cave just by it's location but they didn't really make it easy. I love the tone of the piece, it's very down to earth in a rather insane place (as Morrowind is) and the contrasts are just priceless.

QUOTE
Ten minutes later, relaxing happily in a tub of warm water, I remembered that Dunmer were virtually immune to fire magic – rendering my expensive new spell useless against well over half of Vvardenfell’s population. Oh, well.

But it is good for heating that bathwater...

One thing which I did notice is that the forum's rather eccentric and at times bizarre swear censor ate a few words:
freezing my british boat off on top of a lighthouse
good riddance to the honoured user

It is rather zealous about changing things (I'm far from certain either of those words are rude) and when it does it inserts other words...

Anyway great stuff.

This post has been edited by Olen: Aug 19 2010, 07:51 PM


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Helena
post Aug 19 2010, 09:04 PM
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*Sigh* Bloody auto-censors. I spotted and corrected a couple of others, but not those two. At least the Bethesda filter just replaces everything with [censored] rather than using idiotic substitutes.
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D.Foxy
post Aug 20 2010, 12:57 AM
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BTW Helena why have you gone back to the old Ada Avatar?
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