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> Trey In Mournhold, Chapter 3
treydog
post Dec 2 2005, 03:24 PM
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From: The Smoky Mountains



First, I apologize for the over-long delay in getting back to this story. Job change, severe writer's block, and my usual autumn depression combined to stop my writing cold. Anyway, for those who are still interested, here is the next installment.

T.

Chapter 3

The long struggle against the goblins had left me physically and emotionally spent. So great was my weariness that I would not even think of the purpose that had originally brought me to Mournhold. The Dark Brotherhood were agents of death, mercenaries who killed without honor or remorse, concerned only that they receive their blood money. And, just at the moment, that description hit too close to home for my comfort. Like the goblins, the assassins likely made their lair in the ruins of Old Mournhold, and I could not bear the thought of returning to those spirit-thronged tunnels. Although I was a thief, by definition a creature of darkness, the dark of a moonless night was far different from the unrelieved blackness beneath the city. At least when I crouched upon a rooftop, the air was wholesome- filled with the scents of cooking fires and stable yards- the odors of life in all its glory and simplicity. Under the city, every breath was labored, the air tainted with a miasma of deaths old and new, and thick with the plotting of deaths still to come. What I needed desperately was the light of day and the rumble of humanity going about the business of living. I wanted to wander through the Great Bazaar, acting as if I had nothing in mind beyond seeking a bargain on some exotic piece of art or craft from a far place, a place that had never heard of goblins or assassins.

Before making my way to the marketplace, I washed away the worst stains of my labors at the fountain in the Brindisi Dorom. As I did so, I was not certain that the High Ordinators would not object to my ablutions. In truth, I rather hoped they would make an issue of it- I held no very great love for Almalexia’s version of the Temple at that moment. Other than a few penetrating glances, my impromptu bath drew no reaction though, and I was soon refreshed and on my way. Although the idea of a real bath with hot water and soap tempted me to take a room at the Winged Guar, I was not ready to confine myself indoors just yet. Satisfied that my appearance would no longer cause some concerned citizen to call the guards or the healers, I proceeded to the Great Bazaar, where I frankly acted like a country lout loose in the big city for the first time. There was talk of a play to be performed, and I waited for a few minutes in hopes of seeing such a novelty, but there seemed to be some delay, so I moved on. As I climbed the steps, staring at the shops and plants and people, I became so distracted that I failed to notice a young Dunmer woman until I placed my foot directly in the midst her lunch, which she had set out upon one of the steps. She accepted my profuse apologies with more weariness than grace, and began to gather up the remains of her ruined meal. When I offered to at least pay her the price of a decent dinner at the inn, she merely sighed and said,

“That would be nice, but I really have no time to talk. There’s much work to do… No time for silly fancies like dancing or dinner. Oh, but what I wouldn’t give to meet someone new.”

The way she said it made clear that she was really just thinking out loud rather than trying to interest the bumbling Breton who had just clumsily trodden on her lunch. Still, it seemed that I should at least offer her a sympathetic ear if that was what she needed. She was still fairly young, older than I- perhaps in her 30s- although it is always hard to judge such things among the Elven races. Her eyes were interesting- sad, thoughtful, with a spark of intelligence lurking in their depths. Recalling my own recent travails with employment, I agreed that work could be wearing. She nodded and said,

“Yes, that's right. Believe it or not, I had no intention of working here when I came to Mournhold. It's quite a sob story; are you sure you want to hear it?”

When I signaled my assent, she continued,

“Well, it's mostly my fault, really. My name is Marena Gilnith, and I grew up in a small village in the south of Morrowind. They cared for me a great deal, and only wanted the best for me. But when they arranged my marriage to a wealthy nobleman, I couldn't take it. He was disgusting, and I wanted nothing to do with him. So I ran away, and ended up here in Mournhold. I was convinced that I'd be able to find the man of my dreams. Only, it hasn't worked out that way.”

She gave a self-deprecating shrug and continued,

“I was foolish about it, to be sure. I never considered that I'd need money to survive on my own. I was determined, though, not to go crawling back to the village and beg forgiveness from my parents and that loathsome man. I'd make it on my own, and only then would I contact my parents and let them know where I was. So I started working... and now it's all I do. I never have time to meet anyone. Let me know if you meet any nice, single men.”

It was the sort of request you hear fairly often- usually spoken in jest. But somehow I knew that she spoke from sincere hope, and a part of me responded with equal sincerity. It was as if our lives had followed similar paths, paths that could lead to loneliness and bitterness- if no kind stranger intervened. And so I said,

“Give me a little time, and I will try. Whatever chances, I will meet you here at this same hour in two days’ time.”

Perhaps it would have been wiser to refuse her request or to pretend that it was simply a joke, but it was hard to ignore the unspoken appeal in her eyes. Maybe I felt the need to do something that celebrated life instead of death. Or maybe I responded to the fact that she had confided in me, a stranger. In any event, though I had no idea of how to accomplish the task, I agreed. In truth, I wasn’t certain that I knew what a “good man” was; I definitely knew nothing about finding one. But as I considered more deeply, I realized that much of what I knew about choosing horses could apply to men. You wanted a good temperament, determination that did not shade into stubbornness, intelligence, loyalty… maybe I could manage this after all. Of course, that assumed that I could find any men who sought marriage- I did not really think Marena was interested in the other sort. That made things a bit more difficult- somehow, I doubted that even fabled Mournhold had a shop or market for marriageable men.



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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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minque
post Dec 2 2005, 05:07 PM
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What a great joy to see Trey back! I´m so happy and I think we all are to see you back in business again....

This was a very sweet installment, vividly described as always....and I especially liked the encounter with Marena Gilnith!.....Just imagine! steppiong in her lunch! biggrin.gif That reminded me of an event in my youth, when I, standing on a table watching a very popular band..got pushed forwards and ended up.....in someone´s pizza!!

Enough of that......I wonder, Trey is supposed to look for a suitable man for Marena......Hmmmm what about volunteering? Trey is a good man.....and he certainly would need a woman..or???

Very well.....I´m sure treydog won´t keep us chewing our fingernails for too long before we´ll find out about Trey´s further adventures! tongue.gif


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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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Wolfie
post Dec 2 2005, 06:27 PM
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YAY! Trey is back! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!


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D�anaim smaoineamh, d� bhr� sin, t�im ann - Descartes

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Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed. - G.K. Chesterton

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Alexander
post Dec 2 2005, 09:01 PM
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Woohoo, glad to see it come back Treydog.

can't wait to read on with trey cool.gif


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Soulseeker3.0
post Dec 2 2005, 10:37 PM
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Woot, welcome back and another great instalment to your story


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This was pretty unusual, because most children at his age wanted to become great warriors, known all through time as saviors of, well, anything - Toroabok
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Jonajosa
post Dec 3 2005, 01:52 AM
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QUOTE(treydog @ Dec 2 2005, 09:24 AM)
First, I apologize for the over-long delay in getting back to this story.  Job change, severe writer's block, and my usual autumn depression combined to stop my writing cold.  Anyway, for those who are still interested, here is the next installment.

T.
*



Apology accepted... for now. ;) I recently have also undergone a job change. From full-time Job to full-time retired. Lots of "work" to do around the house. Can't say I share your autumn depression for I myself love the last seasons inthe year. Cold is my ally. Time to build fires when the oil truck can't make it to my house to fill up the tank. Last I heard from my faithful weatherman on News 13 is that it's supposed to be snowing sometime this weekend. Hope we catch some of it.

Liked the update. I was waiting for this to show up.


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mplantinga
post Dec 3 2005, 01:53 AM
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Thanks for once again finding time to continue your story. I particularly enjoyed the bath in the fountain; I'm quite surprised that the Ordinators didn't do anything about it. What a great way to show disdain for Almalexia.
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treydog
post Dec 5 2005, 01:56 AM
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Determined to make an honest effort searching for a suitable man for Marena Gilnith, I wandered through the Bazaar, looking at the people with a calculating eye. Some men were with their wives; others had the sheepish, slightly harried look that is the sure mark of a married man. Still others were too young, too old, too unattractive, or simply too busy. One fellow who hailed me seemed like he might be a possibility, though his manner gave me pause. As I climbed the Bazaar steps, a flashily-dressed Dunmer reached out to clasp hands with me and exclaimed,

“Well met friend! You’re not a familiar face…new to Mournhold are you? I don’t suppose you arrived with any female friends? I get on quite well with the ladies, you know. The name’s Fons Beren.”

Although I wasn’t sure of the wisdom in doing so, I gave him my name and allowed that I had, in fact, traveled to Mournhold alone.

Beren gave a toothy grin and said,

“That’s too bad! I hate to travel alone, myself. Ah, women. Can't get enough of them. But then, who can? Ha ha! Erm... you wouldn't happen to know any eligible ladies, would you Trey? I'm looking for a saucy wench that can satisfy me. A tall order, to be sure, but you never know. So, familiar with any?”

I thought about Marena. And then I looked at Fons Beren. The first word that came to mind was “slick.” Everything about him was oily. He even appeared to have guar-grease in his hair. This was definitely NOT the sort of man she wanted- or needed. She would not thank me for an introduction to a fellow that was all flash and no stay. Therefore, I pulled a long face and said,

“No, I really haven’t had a chance to meet any women in town.”

He gave me a look that was more insult than commiseration and said,

“Well, in your case I can see how it might be a problem. Good hunting, though, old sport.”

As the Bazaar didn’t seem to be the place to find a reliable fellow, I decided that the Temple courtyard might prove more fruitful.

The Temple district suffered from the same lack of eligible men as the Bazaar, but I finally saw a rather youngish Dunmer who appeared mesmerized by his surroundings, but was willing to talk. When I approached him he said,

“Hi there. Wow! Can you believe this place! It’s just…amazing! Everything’s so beautiful! The buildings, the shops, the women…I’m stunned. Oh, my name’s Goval Ralen. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

He grasped my hand in one of his, and I felt calluses that spoke of hard work. He continued to speak enthusiastically,

“I mean, I've seen pretty women before, but I just can't get over it. I came from a small town to ‘seek my fortune,’ as my father would say, but it's hard to get anything done here. It's all just so overwhelming. And, I guess, a little intimidating, too. I mean, what would any of these women want with me? It's hard to hope that I might meet the woman of my dreams...”

Now here was a possibility. Goval certainly seemed to fit the definition of “nice man” that I carried around in my head. He was a worker, seemed sincere and honest, and even admitted that he was seeking a permanent arrangement. Still, I wanted to look around a bit more before making a final decision. So far, I had found only two prospects, and only one of those had any real potential. Also, I wanted to check out some of the shops back in the Great Bazaar. After that, I could find Marena and let her know how I had fared.

The magic and weapon shops did not strike me as being likely to have anything of interest- at least that I could afford- so I made my way to the general trader’s. The advantage of a general trader is that he sees a bit of everything, and rarely turns anything down. Sometimes, extremely rare items can turn up in dusty little shops. The trader in this case was a solid, rather sour Dunmer, with eyes that looked on the world with cynicism tinged by ancient grief. His greeting confirmed my suspicion that he did not view anything with very great pleasure or favor.

“I suppose you’ve come to trade, and that’s fine with me. Azura knows there’s little else in the world worth doing. None of the rest of it matters…adventuring, fame, women. It’s all pointless. So say I, Sunel Hlas.”

Something about his use of the name of the goddess of dawn and dusk caught my interest- enough that I said,

“Surely the love and companionship of a good woman is of some value?”

He barked a sharp laugh and responded,

“Hrmph. Women. Not worth the effort, if you ask me. Not anymore, at least. There's no happiness to be found. No lasting happiness, anyway. It's all a sham. Oh, I didn't always think so. I had a wife once, and was madly in love with her. But then my foolishness took her away, and now here I am. Bitter, alone, and tired of life. I'll have little else to do with women, that's for sure.”

What moved me in that moment I cannot say- perhaps it was the perversity of my nature, my inability to let a challenge pass unanswered, or perhaps Azura herself responded to the invocation of her name. However it came to pass, I found myself praising the virtues of Marena Gilnith and urging the gruff merchant to take a chance. At last, as much to shut me up as anything else, he threw up his hands in surrender and growled,
“Who? Marena Gilnith? I don't know her. Don't particularly care to either. But fine. If it will get you to leave me alone, then I'll meet her. It'll be a waste of time, though.”

Without quite knowing how, I found myself outside the shop, head awhirl with what I had just done. I could still get out of it- I could tell Marena that I hadn’t met anyone appropriate or I could offer her an introduction to Goval Ralen, instead. But… in my mind, I saw two pairs of eyes- Marena’s, shadowed with work and care, but still willing to hope. Sunel Hlas’- filled with the pain of loss, and the fear of still more pain to come. Goval seemed like a nice enough fellow, but he was even greener than I had been when I traveled to Cyrodiil. I had my doubts as to how long he would be able to last in the city. My heart told me that Marena needed an older man, a steady fellow who was already established. As clearly as I had ever known anything, I knew that the two of them should meet. Impatiently, I loitered about the Bazaar, waiting for the appointed time to arrive. At last, the hour struck and, with a confident stride, I made my way to my rendezvous with Marena. When I saw her on the steps, her expression betrayed uncertainty over our agreement. She put on a brave face, but said,

“Well, Trey, here I am. I apologize for foolishly causing you to waste your time in such a silly pursuit. Although I thank you, I am sure you met with no success.”

When she paused for breath, I bowed low and said,

“On the contrary, I believe that I have met a gentleman who will meet your expectations- an established merchant by the name of Sunel Hlas.”

Her look of resignation was replaced by one of intrigue as she considered my words.

“Sunel Hlas, you say? Hmm... I think I've heard the name before, but can't remember where. Whew. Okay, I'm really trusting your judgment, Trey. Tell him to meet me at the Winged Guar two days from now. I hope he's nice...”

I promised to pass on the news of the appointment and to ensure that Sunel would keep it, then took my leave to report back.

My certainty suffered a blow when the trader frowned at me and grumbled,

“Now what? Is this about that Marena Gilnith woman again? Can't you just leave well enough alone, Trey? Why must you continue to pester me about this? I don't know why I'm even discussing this. There's no way this is going to work out. It'll just end in heartbreak.”

Still driven by that uncanny force, I argued,

“But how do you know? Even if nothing comes of the meeting, you will have enjoyed a decent meal with pleasant company. Where is the harm?”

At last, Sunel relented and muttered, “Very well, I'll meet her.”

Talk of the Winged Guar reminded me that I had planned to take a room there, followed by a long soak in a hot tub of soapy water. Suiting deed to thought, I made my way to the inn and secured the best room available. Pausing only long enough to wave to Ra’Tesh at the bar, I was soon locked in my room and enjoying a glorious bath. Afterward, I collapsed upon the bed and did not move for a day and a half.


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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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Soulseeker3.0
post Dec 5 2005, 04:12 AM
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Very good Trey. Very nice uh geeze, I can't think of the right word. I know what I mean but I can't say it...... Interperation (thats good enough tongue.gif) of the Npc's personalities and characteristics.


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This was pretty unusual, because most children at his age wanted to become great warriors, known all through time as saviors of, well, anything - Toroabok
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mplantinga
post Dec 5 2005, 07:45 PM
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I've always found this particular side-quest to be quite intriguing. Trey certainly shows an instinct and depth of character that make him so much more than a "simple thief." One of the things I've always appreciated about this story is the installments that focus on non-combat experiences. Thanks for the great update; I'm looking forward to seeing how this match-making experience affects Trey after the couple have met.
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Florodine of Hlaalu
post Dec 5 2005, 09:23 PM
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yay hes back, as always a great installmen trey
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Haw
post Dec 14 2005, 07:37 PM
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*Waves flag* Yay! I missed this. Dang school! Either way, t'was most interesting, and I'm sorry I never got around to commenting on the earlier instalments.


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treydog
post Dec 17 2005, 04:08 AM
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I may not have slept the sleep of the just, but I certainly did sleep as one mortally tired and awoke refreshed and ready to face a new day. After bathing my face and hands, I stepped out into the bar area, where Ra’Tesh immediately called me over. The Khajiiti bartender quietly passed over a bulging pouch of gold and a sealed note, saying only that a “priesty soldier” had left them for me. A glance at the wax seal, which bore the symbol of the Tribunal Temple, clarified what he meant. Not wishing to draw too much attention, I retreated to my room and unsealed the note. Written in a spidery script, it bore the signature of Fedris Hler, and I could almost hear the Temple steward’s dusty voice speaking the words as I read them:

“You've gotten rid of the goblin warchiefs and that is excellent. I'm certain the army itself will scatter over the next few weeks. Our Lady will be pleased. A shame you weren't able to find the Altmer training them, but what can one expect from such as you.... Still, the Lady would wish for you to be rewarded. Take this paltry sum of 5000 gold and our thanks. If you wish to be of further service, the Archcanon would be pleased to speak with you.”

The gold and Hler’s words brought the horror of the goblin hunt crashing back upon me and I was sorely tempted to simply put the blood money aside. But common sense prevailed and I realized that I could perhaps use some of the money to make amends with Bols Indalen for costing him an apprentice. In that way something good could come from gold earned in a dubious fashion.

When I arrived at the armorer’s shop, it was to find the master smith in full cry, berating his former apprentice.

“Damn that Ilnori Faustus! Damn him! He left me a few days ago without so much as a wave goodbye. Just walked out the door. Well, good riddance, I suppose, but I still need an apprentice. If you find any able-bodied young person looking for work, let them know I need a new apprentice.”

When I admitted that Ilnori’s absence was perhaps my fault, and that I was willing to pay damages, Master Indalen waved it all aside.

“No, good sera, it is not your doing. That strutting cockerel was bound to do something foolish sooner rather than later- he just used you as an excuse. Still, if you know of anyone who appreciates craft and is looking for a job, send him my way.”

Although the smith had refused payment, I felt better for having taken responsibility for my actions and left with a lighter step. If I could not give the gold away, I would at least spend a bit of it on a drink and a decent meal back at the Winged Guar. As for Fedris Hler’s suggestion that I might be of assistance to the Archcanon- well, I would just have to think about that. So far, I had not been pleased with the Temple’s methods.


When I returned to the Winged Guar, I was greeted by a morose Redguard who said,

“Hi there, Breton. Care to drink away your troubles with me?”

Since that was precisely my intention, I agreed and paid for the first round. Still, my melancholy was not so great that I wished to broadcast the cause to all and sundry, so I asked him the source of his sadness.

He responded with a grimace and said,

“Well, my life isn't exactly gold-kanet-sunshine-happy at the moment. More like bungler's-bane-bummer. I got laid off from my job at the pillow factory last week. The market for pillows has really bottomed out in the last few years. Turns out that the average family home doesn't need 25 pillows per person like we originally thought. Who knew the market would turn so sour so suddenly?”

Slowly rotating his mug of flin on the bar, he continued,

“I really loved that job. For me, it was all about the work. But it didn't take long for the money guys in the exquisite robes upstairs to burn through all our pillow venture capital. Offices in the best Telvanni towers, 1500-septim chairs upholstered in the finest scamp skin, and unlimited stores of matze. We would spend 16 hours a day or more in there, doing what we loved -- crafting pillows. It was a dream come true for me. Ever since I was young, I dreamed of creating the perfect pillow. Well, those days are over now. I need to find work.”

Sometimes, I almost believed in the gods. Or rather, in the generosity of the gods. I had certainly seen enough of their vindictiveness in my short life. With a smile, I told Therdon (for that was his name),

“My friend, I happen to know that Master Bols Indalen in the Craftsmen’s Hall is searching for an apprentice at this very moment. Tell him that Trey sent you.”

Therdon’s face cleared and he said,

“Hmm.... Well, it's not making pillows, but it is work. I just might try that out. Thanks, Trey. Next time you see me, perhaps I'll be working in the smith's shop. Have a drink on me!”

With that, he bought me a bottle of vintage brandy, straightened his tunic and headed for the stairs. As for me, I gave Ra’Tesh a generous tip and retreated to my room to seek answers at the bottom of the bottle. Any seer will tell you that pure water is a far better medium for scrying, but the truth was that I didn’t really want to know the future.


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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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Florodine of Hlaalu
post Dec 17 2005, 04:48 AM
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yay another update is always exciting. Good job trey, again you made the most simple character flow with life and realism. Bravo
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Jonajosa
post Dec 17 2005, 09:25 AM
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You know... I can't help but feel you might have changed your style for this new book of Trey. There somthing diffrent about it. kvright.gif

But it's still great and I would love to read more.

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mplantinga
post Dec 17 2005, 08:09 PM
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Trey certainly is finding ways to make a difference in Mournhold. Considering how insane and vindictive Almalexia has become, it is good to see someone acting for the greater good.

Thanks for the great update. Once again you've demonstrated you ability to make an exciting story even out of non-combat situations. goodjob.gif
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minque
post Dec 17 2005, 09:30 PM
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Oh my precious Trey......hmm I have the feeling he doesn´t feel at home in Mournhold..really he doesn´t seem happy! And I can´t blame him, I didn´t like it in Mournhold either.....

See how Trey get´s under your skin! At least he´s under MY skin..I´ve followed his adventures since he was a simple stable-boy i High Rock.....and I´ve loved him all the way.

I can´t say how happy I am to be able to follow this great man in his adventures, to me he´s real, and I feel what he feels..

Now THAT´S some excellent writing don´t ya think?


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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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Soulseeker3.0
post Dec 18 2005, 12:10 AM
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well that was a great addition to the story trey. I can't think of anything better to say so.... goodjob.gif


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This was pretty unusual, because most children at his age wanted to become great warriors, known all through time as saviors of, well, anything - Toroabok
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treydog
post Dec 19 2005, 09:14 PM
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Breaking my "rule" of not commenting on comments, I wanted to respond to a few-

The style probably IS different- Mournhold is such a dark place, with Almalexia's insanity and Helseth's paranoid plotting. So it is a struggle for Trey to maintain his sense of humor or even his equilibrium. Like his creator, Trey is more comfortable in a rural setting- the "big city" is not home.

As I adjust to my new job, I hope to write more and respond more to the excellent work of others who post here.


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The best-dressed newt in Mournhold.
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treydog
post Dec 20 2005, 02:35 PM
Post #20


Master
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Joined: 13-February 05
From: The Smoky Mountains



As so many have discovered before me, while there may be truth in wine, the greatest truth of excessive drink is that it makes one exceedingly ill. Worse for me, the alcohol-induced sleep was not dreamless, as I had hoped. The nightmares were vivid and horrible, and my impairment prevented me from wakening and thus finding relief. I will say no more of my adventure with brandy except that it did finally end and that I cannot stand the taste of that particular spirit even now.

Ra’Tesh, who either knew a great deal about hangovers or else had sadistic streak and a willingness to experiment, recommended immersion in cold water followed by immersion in steaming hot. Surprisingly it worked, and I emerged feeling somewhat human and as if I might be willing to think about food in a month or so. As I drank copious amounts of fresh water, Ra’Tesh mentioned that some people had asked after me while I was “indisposed.” A feeling of dread compounded with the last traces of my binge as I envisioned what would have happened if the Dark Brotherhood had found me while I was weakened and impaired. Seeing the look on my face, Ra’Tesh waved a paw and said,

“No, no! Not bad peoples! Nice lady and a gentleman merchant. They asked that you come see them when you feel better.”

That reminded me- I wondered how Therdon had made out with Bols Indalen. At last ready to face the day, I left the inn and went to the Craftsman’s Hall. The sound of hammers pounding on metal set up an echo in my head, but that was the price for my foolishness, so I persevered. The master smith caught sight of me and rushed forward, a smile lighting his normally dour features.

“Thank you so much for sending Therdon my way. He’s a tremendous help around the place, even if I can’t ever get him to shut up about the blasted pillows! He’s working right now, if you wanted to see him. I’m sure he would like to thank you himself.”

Following the master smith’s advice, I found Therdon happily pounding a sheet of steel into a shield. He ceased his labors (much to the relief of my throbbing skull) and reached out to vigorously shake my hand. Then he enthused,

“Hey there, Trey! I got the job! Thanks so much for recommending this to me. It's hard work, but I imagine that every breastplate or shield I turn out is just a thin, hard pillow made of metal, and I get through the day just fine. Here, I don't have much money, but I can offer you some tools that might come in handy. Also talk to my boss, Bols. He's pretty happy at having a new apprentice, and will give you some good deals.”

With that, he gifted me with a number of armorer’s hammers, knowing that I preferred to repair my own gear. I thanked him for the gift and made my way to the Great Bazaar and Sunel Hlas. Even though Ra’Tesh had said the merchant was seeking me, he hadn’t said what demeanor he presented. Thus, I entered the shop with some trepidation.


The change in Sunel was remarkable. Before, he had been stooped and weary, seeming to carry the weight of all the Mundus upon his shoulders. Too, his expression had been sour, as if he scented something unpleasant. Now, he stood straight, and his eyes bore a mixture of surprise and delight.

“Trey, I don't know what to say. Marena is just what I needed in my life, but without your help, I'd have been too blind to see it. Thank you so much. I... I know it's wrong to offer you something, as if in payment, but I want you to take this. It's sort of valuable, I guess, except that no one has ever wanted it, and, well, just take it and think of me. Or something. I don't know. I'm not very good at this sentimental stuff.”

As he spoke, he lifted a cloth-wrapped bundle to the counter and presented it to me. Even through the muffling covering, I could sense a strong and rather odd magical aura. Clearly, the item was a magical sword with some rare enchantment. Not wishing to appear too mercenary, I mumbled my thanks and put the weapon away without examining it.

As I turned to go, he added,

“It's high time that I get on with the rest of my life, and Marena is the perfect woman to do that with. Actually, she’s upstairs and I’m sure she would like to see you if you have a moment.”

He turned away and began polishing the counter, humming a jaunty tune to himself. Although Sunel certainly believed that things had gone well, I did want to hear from Marena, for it was on her behalf that I had first undertaken this task.

One look at the smiling figure who greeted me was all I needed to know that I had chosen well. Not satisfied with a simple hand-clasp, Marena impulsively hugged me and then stepped back, blushing and glowing at the same time.

“Oh, Trey, how can I ever thank you for helping me find Sunel? He's such a sweet man. At first, his attitude was a little off-putting. I felt badly about his wife... and a little awkward too. But as we talked, I really got to know him, and he's just so kind. He's had some bad experiences, but I know we can work through them. I just can't thank you enough, Trey!”

She embraced me again and then went off to find Sunel. As I left the shop, they were chasing each other around the counter, laughing like two children. Suddenly, I felt much better than I had in many days. Marena and Sunel proved that there was joy in life; Therdon showed that there was also satisfaction in doing a job cheerfully and well. Perhaps someday, I would be able to find that same joy and satisfaction for myself.

Some may wonder why I had not put myself forward as a contender for Marena Gilnith’s affections. My reasons were manifold- some reasonable, some less so. First, at that time, I believed that my life expectancy could be measured in days rather than years. Thus, I refused to trap any woman into a relationship that might end suddenly and violently. More, I knew the capacity of my enemies for savagery and had no desire to provide so convenient a hostage. It was not that I did not dream of romance, sometime in the future- if I had a future. When I dreamed, I thought I saw a girl from my own home of High Rock. I could not see her face, but I knew that her hair was the red of a mountainside on a late afternoon in the month of Hearthfire and her eyes the green of one of the high lakes.

Still, even as I took joy in the knowledge of a match well-made and in my secret dreams for my own future, the cold breath of fear blew upon my neck. I had only to look at my armor, taken from the body of an assassin who had sought my life, and I knew that I could not rest, could not forget. My enemies were many and merciless- they would come upon me when I was injured or asleep and snuff me like a candle. The only way to prevent that was to seek them out where they hid and destroy them. And if I could discover the name of the client, so much the better. The Dark Brotherhood did not operate from such complex motives as passion or revenge- they killed for money and someone had paid them for my death. If I survived, that individual would pay me in a different coin- blood for blood, pain for pain. I had never set out to be a killer, and the role did not sit well on my shoulders. Necessity and the machinations of the Emperor and the Temple and my unknown enemy had forced me to become a hunter, with blood on my hands. They had made me as I was and I swore by the bones in the earth that they would regret their thoughtless act of creation.


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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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