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> The Story of Trey- Chapter 4
treydog
post Aug 15 2015, 03:49 PM
Post #1


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



Chapter 4


I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat, and a gun.

Farewell My Lovely
Raymond Chandler


My mind swirled with thoughts of the "Emperor's plans for me" versus an anonymous death on a lonely road somewhere, so I settled in to mix and measure and distill potions. As always, the concentration required for alchemy calmed me. I also took a quiet pride in the fact that my homemade concoctions were getting better- more effective and longer-lasting. I had become a thief through necessity; I was an alchemist by vocation. Relaxed by my labors, I went to sleep, only to be awakened by the crash of someone tripping over my equipment. Shaking off sleep, I thought,

"If one of those clumsy mages has damaged my alchemy apparatus wandering around in the dark..."

By then, I was awake enough to see that it was not a mage, but an assassin, whose dagger had a sticky yellowish substance coating the blade. Poison! With a shout, I rolled from the bed, pulling my sword from beneath the pillow. As I had feared, the Dark Brotherhood had sent a more competent killer for this second attempt. In addition, his poisoned blade needed only to make a small wound to cause serious harm. Although my sword was heavier and could do more physical damage with a successful blow, he was striking me two times for every one I managed. The assassin was quick as a striking serpent, darting inside my guard to stab or slice and then dancing away before I could counter. The poison was a fire in my veins, racing toward my heart, slowing my movements. I had left some of the healing potions I had made on the table; I managed to dodge behind it and down a couple in the interval that bought me. The blessed coolness of magical healing came over me, quenching the poison and closing the bleeding wounds. That made all the difference, for my opponent had no way of repairing the damage he had taken. The blood loss had finally weakened him, and I was able to strike more effectively. Sensing that he was about to launch a suicidal attack that would end both our lives, I distracted him by throwing an empty bottle at his face with my left hand. Even the best-trained fighter will try to duck, and he did, only to meet my blade. With that, it was done and I had time to consider.

First, I needed to think about who had sent the Dark Brotherhood after me. They were from "back home" on the continent, which pointed to an Imperial client, rather than someone from Vvardenfell. Besides, it was my understanding that the Dunmer Great Houses would use the Morag Tong for this sort of thing. The fact that I had started working for Caius seemed to eliminate the Emperor as a suspect; I had initially thought the first attack was the unspoken "or else" to accompany, "work for the Blades...." The Camonna Tong wouldn't use an "outlander" organization to do their killing- in fact, they would probably do it themselves. No one else whose toes I had trod on had the kind of money or influence to use the Dark Brotherhood. It was a mystery, and one I would have to solve eventually. But one thing was immediately clear- I was going to have to find somewhere more remote to sleep. The mages had not helped me or even come to see what the commotion was about. Maybe the assassin had cast a Silence spell just before he attacked. Regardless, both attempts had taken place in the Mages Guild, so I wouldn't be sleeping there anymore.

The other thing I could do was convert the late assassin's gear into cash. My Caldera buyer wouldn't ask any questions, even if he was curious about where the armor came from. Better still, he paid full price. Between that and the 1000 drakes from Sugar-Lips, I could probably afford better alchemy apparatus. I still wouldn't be able to get Grandmaster quality, assuming I could even find it, but even Master level would improve my work significantly. If I starting making a few items for sale, I could even recover my investment. And that was my ultimate goal- to get enough money to be left alone- or to at least make it too troublesome for people to bother me.

After taking care of those chores, I should probably talk to Caius or Sugar-Lips about a job or two that would get me out of Balmora. In fact, it might be a good idea to follow Ajira's advice and look up Edwinna Elbert at the Ald-ruhn Mages Guild. I could also consider finishing the pilgrimages for the Temple. Even though I wasn't going to run anymore, neither was I going to paint a target on my back and just sit still. As sleep was no longer an option, I put my plan into effect immediately. With the dead assassin's gear in my pack, I had the guild guide transport me to Caldera. As I passed through the Caldera Mages Guild, Folms Mirel reminded me that there were still a number of propylon indices to find. In fact, he noted that he had just received word that a pilgrim had left the Falasmaryon index as an offering at the Temple shrine in Maar Gan. He added, "That shouldn't present a problem for an enterprising adventurer like yourself." I might have resented the implication that I was a thief, except for the fact that it was true.

Finally, I settled on updating my alchemy equipment and working on a better Chameleon spell with Estirdalin- preferably one that might last 30 seconds or more. Next, I went to see Sugar-Lips, who had some disturbing news. She mentioned that the Camonna Tong had been making threats recently, which was nothing new. What was new was that some of the threats were about "that Breton n'wah who had the nerve to steal from Camonna Tong territory in Hla Oad." Apparently I hadn't gotten away from Fatleg's as cleanly as I thought. And even though Phane Rielle had gotten the official bounty removed, Camonna didn't care about "official." It looked like it was time to settle this issue permanently. I already had the Dark Brotherhood dogging me; someone or something sending me weird dreams; and that didn’t even consider the Dunmer "Sleepers" who kept telling me to bow down to Dagoth Ur.

If I happened to do a favor for Captain Larrius Varro at the same time as I got Camonna Tong off my back, that was a price I was willing to pay. After all, I admired the Captain's show of intelligence and good taste in asking me to handle the problem for him. Before I dove in headfirst, it would be wise to think this thing through. There were at least five Camonna Tong in the Council Club. Regardless of my new skills and toughness, that was a lot to handle by myself. Then, too, there was the issue of the bounty. I really didn't want to have to pay blood price for all that Camonna scum, so I couldn't just walk up and start flailing around with my sword. If I played it carefully, I could cut a few of them out of the crowd one at a time and push them into attacking me first. It may be hard to imagine, but some people found me annoying. All I had to do was play on the Camonna's hatred of foreigners and what some perceived as my natural obnoxiousness. After that it would be, "I don't know why it happened, Officer. I was minding my own business, having a drink, and the guy attacked me. I had to defend myself."

With that in mind, I went to the Eight Plates and bought a bottle of shein. As I made my way to the Council Club, I uncorked the bottle and swished some of the liquor around in my mouth, then spit it out. Next, I splashed a liberal amount on my clothing and dumped about half of the rest onto the ground. With that, I staggered into the Council Club, singing at the top of my lungs. Just inside the door stood Thanelen Velas, the Camonna smith. And he was alone. Cutting off my song, I threw a friendly arm around the startled Dunmer and slurred,

"It's my birthday, pal. Here. Have a drink."

As I breathed, "Here" into his face, I waved the jug wildly, "accidently" splashing him with some of the foul stuff. Already annoyed by my mere presence, Velas called me a series of rude names and wrenched out from under my arm.

"Aw, here now, Elfie," I protested, "that shein makes a nice cover for your usual smell."

With that, I ostentatiously held my nose. "You'd think some of your Camonna friends would tell you," I added helpfully.

That pushed the smith beyond rational thought. With an inarticulate scream, he pulled a Dwemer war axe and swung wildly. It took all my control to stand still and let him draw first blood, but I wanted as good a case for self-defense as I could get. After he hacked my raised left arm, I pulled my sword and soon found myself in a fight for my life. Partly, it was that Velas was tough. Then there was that axe, which did serious damage on every hit. He even managed to knock me down a couple of times. As I looked up from that perspective, I noticed something- he was a Dunmer with red hair, worn in a row, using a Dwemer war axe. Where had I heard that description before? Again, my healing potions literally saved my life; Velas had me in trouble several times before I could finish him. That fight showed me that I was going to need a better sword if I was to survive. Tarhiel's Sparksword was fine for rats and hounds, but it just didn't pack enough punch against a good opponent. After relieving him of the axe and a few gold, I got out of there. It was the first time I had deliberately set out to kill someone, and I wasn't sure how I felt about it.

As much to soothe my conscience as anything else, I decided to talk with Ralen Hlaalo's maid to confirm my suspicion that Velas was the murderer she had seen. She immediately recognized the axe and my description and told me I should see Nileno Dorvayn at the Hlaalu Council Hall. I had never been in the Council Hall before, even though Balmora was Hlaalu territory. It hadn't seemed like a good idea to draw the attention of a Great House. When I explained my presence to Nileno, she was impressed. She said,

"Even though you are not a member of any House, you brought the murderer to justice."

She gave me 1000 drakes as a reward and promised to make sure House Hlaalu knew of my deed. She even offered to put in a good word for me if I wanted to join the House. The reward was nice, but I somehow felt as though it were tainted. No matter how I tried to convince myself that the Camonna Tong was a threat, that it was them or me, I didn't like the way I had goaded Velas into the fight. Always before, I had been attacked directly; this time, I started it. Worst of all, I knew it wasn't over. There were four more Camonna Tong members left. Even if I managed to defeat them all, I didn't think I would feel like a winner. And I wasn't sure there was enough water in all Tamriel to make me feel clean again.


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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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McBadgere
post Aug 15 2015, 04:12 PM
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Councilor
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Joined: 21-October 11



Very much liked that!!...

QUOTE
"It may be hard to imagine, but some people found me annoying."


laugh.gif ...Surely not... biggrin.gif ...

Awesome bit of action against the assassin...Which sounds like a grunge band from 90s Seattle...And I thought it was Tre(y)s cool that there was the decision to go after the Cammora...But then found the after-shock of the way he'd gone about it...Another excellent character moment right there...

Love the way this is all early days for him...All my characters being Knights, and some way into their careers at that, though they don't relish the killing, it's just - a dark, sure - part of the job for them...Very cool that these little moments are in there, for defo...

I also know how standing there - in game, I don't mean me biggrin.gif - and making loads of potions is pretty awesome...

Very much looking forward to the next part...

Nice one!!... biggrin.gif ...

*Applauds heartily*...
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hazmick
post Aug 19 2015, 12:51 AM
Post #3


Mouth
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Joined: 28-July 10
From: Northern England, Southern Tamriel.



Seems you can't move in Morrowind without tripping over an assassin. Glad Trey managed to survive.

Maybe after all the assassins are dead we'll find out that it was a big misunderstanding and laugh about it over a bottle of sujamma biggrin.gif Stranger things have (and probably will) happened.


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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 29 2015, 05:29 PM
Post #4


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Joined: 13-February 05
From: The Smoky Mountains



@McBadgere- I know- hard to understand where Trey would get the idea that people find him annoying…. The deaths, even the “necessary” ones, have shaped Trey’s life- and the one he tried to impose on Athlain in later years….

@hazmick- The assassination attempts are definitely based on a misunderstanding- and a form of liquid refreshment plays a role in the resolution. However, that is all described in a different story…

@Everyone- Between work and aliens in my head (otherwise known as either a sinus infection or a cold), I missed last week's installment. But here I am again to torture you provide more of Trey's story. Thanks as always for reading.

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After the business with Thanelen Velas, the Camonna Tong smith, I felt a need for the sort of cleansing that soap and water cannot provide. As I looked over my library, seeking answers that would most likely have to come from within, my eye fell upon The Pilgrims Path. I had never completed the pilgrimage of the Seven Graces; other "opportunities" had distracted me. Although I still had my doubts about religion, I could use any help that was offered. Besides, the pilgrimage would get me out of Balmora for a time, and the uproar (if any) over Velas' death could die down. The fact that Velas had been revealed as the murderer of Ralen Hlaalo might help keep Camonna from making any direct attacks on me. On the other hand, I was now known as the person who had brought Hlaalo's killer "to justice." I was becoming a lot more conspicuous than I would have liked. A pilgrimage was just the thing to get me out of sight and let other events take people's attention away from "Trey, Instrument of Justice." Although I had a highly-developed- if warped- sense of honor, that particular title tasted like vinegar on my tongue.

As I sorted through my gear deciding what to take and what to leave behind (I really didn't want to repeat the tomb business), I realized that I had accumulated a number of charged soul-gems. At the time, I had merely soul-trapped some creatures with a vague idea that the charged gems could be another method of generating income. Now, the fights with the assassin and Velas prominent in my memory, I decided to try a little enchanting. The concept of enchanting is simple- success is not. The idea is that the mage will take a charged soul-gem and an item that can be enchanted and combine them, along with a known spell, to create an enchanted item. My plan was to take the silver sword from the Puzzle Canal and imbue it with fire damage. Although I only had weak souls, mostly cliff-racers, I could still perhaps double the effective damage of the sword. The other method would have been to give Galbedir the gem, the sword, the spell, and a pile of gold to do the enchantment for me. I didn't like the idea of paying someone to do something I could manage for myself; besides, a lack of money had gotten me into all this in the first place. Anyway, I decided that using the low-value soul-gems would be good practice. And practice was what it turned out to be; I used up five soul-gems before I got a cast-when-strikes fire damage enchantment onto the sword. Maybe I forgot to mention that an attempt at enchanting, even if it fails, uses up the soul-gem. That's why most people pay the steep price for guaranteed success by using an enchanter. Still, even though I wouldn't necessarily want to take my new enchanted blade up against a Dremora, I was pleased that I had managed it myself. That feeling of pride dictated my choice of pilgrimage- I would go to the Fields of Kummu and accomplish the Grace of Humility. That sort of perverse logic always made sense to me.

Perhaps more to the point was the fact that the shrine was on the shores of Lake Amaya, an area known for a plentiful supply of plants with alchemical properties. I was always a strong believer in making an excursion pay for itself if possible. Meanwhile, Tarhiel's sparksword went into the cabinet with my iron saber and books. Leaving Balmora, I turned south, planning to learn something of humility or at least to gather some ingredients. I am not sure the trip itself taught me anything, but it certainly decreased the rat population of the Ascadian Isles region of Vvardenfell considerably. I wasn't sure if "Trey, Rat-Catcher" was a better title than the other. I was able to locate the shrine without difficulty and donated the suggested portion of muck. In return, I received a blessing of Feather, which would have come in handy earlier when I was hauling half the Imperial Library around with me. With that much of my goal accomplished, I decided to explore the area around Lake Amaya.

During my exploration, I came across a Bosmer pilgrim named Thoronor who had become separated from his companion, Edras Oril. It seemed that Edras, who was somewhat of an amateur naturalist, had gone off to investigate some strange animal sounds. While I have been known to get overly focused on learning new things, I generally view "strange animals sounds" as a signal to build up the fire and sharpen my blade, not a cue to wander off into the night. Nevertheless, as we seemed to share a love of knowledge, I agreed to search for the missing dark elf. As I worked my way along the path in the direction indicated by Thoronor, I became aware of a series of grunts and other noises. Moving more cautiously, I came upon a book lying on the ground; the penmanship and the surrounding tracks indicated that whoever had lost the volume had been startled by several large animals. Closer examination proved that this was the journal of Edras, complete with observations on the mating habits of wild kagouti. I could have told the would-be scientist that the best way to observe kagouti was with a telescope or from a tall tree. All too soon, I had my own chance to observe the truth of the passage in Edras' journal that indicated that "Mating kagouti (are) increasingly territorial." I made short work of the three or so that attacked me and found Edras hiding among some trees. When I assured him that the kagouti were no longer a threat, he was happy to walk back to Thoronor with me. He expressed no interest in his journal, so I wondered if he had decided on a different career. As a reward for my assistance, the two pilgrims gave me an Amulet of Slowfalling, a valuable item for one in my line of work, especially if I got into the habit of jumping from high places.

As darkness was falling, I sought out a campsite that would be difficult to approach unnoticed. I finally settled in a dry wash, filled with small stones that would roll underfoot. Having cleared the rocks from a space just sufficient for my body, I prepared to spend a fireless night in the wilderness. A campfire is a wonderful source of warmth and comfort, and it is also useful for keeping wild beasts at bay. Unfortunately, some wild beasts go about on two feet and carry swords. For that variety, a campfire is a beacon that says, "Come, kill me and take my gear." So, hunted man that I was, a fire was out of the question. Ultimately, I could have slept in greater comfort for all the difference my cold camp made. In fact, I might just as well have been in bed at the Mages Guild, for the third Dark Brotherhood assassin to attack me tripped over some stones at the edge of my hiding place, awakening me in a surge of adrenalin. My enchanted sword proved its effectiveness and I had collected another complete set of Dark Brotherhood armor. Although it was a way to make money, I couldn't really recommend it on a risk versus reward basis. One of these days, they were going to send two or three or a dozen at once, and it would be my head that got collected. This also told me that it wasn't the Mages Guild or even Balmora that was the problem. Anywhere I laid my head, they would find me. Among the more fantastic (or so they had seemed) stories about the Dark Brotherhood was one that claimed they could locate a target anywhere in Tamriel through the use of some dark ritual. Apparently it was more than just a story. With that in mind, I used Recall to go back to the Balmora Mages Guild. Caius hadn't been interested when I tried to tell him about the attacks before. This time, he would either come up with some advice or else tell the Emperor that they needed to find a new errand boy.

Determined to get some help with the ongoing attacks by the Dark Brotherhood, I went to Caius' house and entered without bothering to knock. Before he had a chance to say anything, I pulled a Dark Brotherhood helm out of my pack and shook it at him.

"This is serious," I snarled, "and you are going to treat it as such or else tell the Emperor to let me go my own way. I'm either a member of the Blades or I'm not- you decide. But if I am, you owe me some help."

To his credit, Caius actually took some time to think the problem through. Finally he said,

"You probably won't like the answer, but it's the best I can do. You should go to Fort Moonmoth and talk to one of the guards. They work a different side of the street than the Blades. If they can't or won't help you, let me know. We have too much invested in you to let some assassins kill you."

I wondered about that last statement, but the spymaster wouldn't say anything more. He did ask me if I felt like doing something useful while I wasn't dodging assassins. He added that the job would get me out of Balmora. As he had actually made an effort to be helpful, I felt obliged to perform more duties for the Blades. Besides, I hated being indebted to anyone.

The job was more information-gathering regarding the Nerevarine Prophecies and the Sixth House. This time, there were three people to talk to, all in Vivec City. The first was a Khajiit thief named Addhiranirr, who could usually be found somewhere in St Olms canton. Next was Huleeya, an Argonian assassin who frequented the Black Shalk Corner Club in the Foreign Quarter. The final informant was a Tribunal Temple priestess named Mehra Milo, who worked in the library inside the Hall of Wisdom. Caius stressed that I needed to be really careful about talking to Mehra- the Temple didn't like to admit that those other cults even existed. In spite of the warning, he gave me written instructions on how to find the three subjects. I stifled the impulse to ask him what I was supposed to do with the written directions if an Ordinator started to question me; I had a feeling Caius' patience with me was a little thin and he would tell me exactly what I could do with the instructions. So instead, I mentioned that I had been having some odd dreams. That actually set him off more than my threatening to quit.

"Look," he said, "the Temple figures that if you are having strange dreams, you're crazy. So they lock you up. And if you believe the dreams, they figure you're a prophet, so they lock you up. Do NOT tell anyone you are having dreams. Keep it to yourself."

With that cheerful advice and 200 gold "for expenses," I took my leave and went to see if Sugar-Lips might have a paying job that would take me out of town, as well. My luck was better than usual- not only did she have a job, she had a job in Pelegiad, which was on the way to Vivec. Of course, my luck hadn't completely changed- what she needed was a jailbreak. Before I could protest too much, she explained that there was a slick way to do it that would allow me to accomplish the mission without risking a bounty. It seemed that a Thieves Guild member named New-Shoes Bragor had gotten picked up in Pelegiad. One of his jailers, an Orc named Shadbak gra-Burbug, was known to take bribes from a local trader for ignoring the smuggling of Dwemer artifacts. All I needed to do was get an artifact from the trader and threaten to expose Shadbak. His other choice would be to drop the charges against New-Shoes and let him go. That sort of jailbreak I could handle. Feeling that things were finally working out, I made my way up to Fort Moonmoth. It was strange to actually seek out an Imperial Legion guard, but I had to do something about the attacks. The guard captain listened to my description of the assassins and cleverly deduced that they were Dark Brotherhood, which I knew already. He did have some useful advice though- the person to talk to was Apelles Matius, who had just arrived in Ebonheart to begin an inspection tour. That was more good news- Ebonheart was close to Vivec. When everything seems to be working out perfectly, get very nervous. Either you have overlooked something or else something bad is about to happen- or more likely, both.


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

The best-dressed newt in Mournhold.
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hazmick
post Sep 9 2015, 02:48 AM
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Mouth
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Joined: 28-July 10
From: Northern England, Southern Tamriel.



Yep, everything's looking up for Trey. We have break-outs, brotherhood, and Blades stuff to look forward to. What could possibly go wrong?


--------------------
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 Sep 12 2015, 05:09 PM
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Master
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Joined: 13-February 05
From: The Smoky Mountains



@hazmick- Funny you should ask that... ph34r.gif

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As I worked my way down the trail to Pelegiad, I decided to follow the shore of Lake Amaya, where I could find some marshmerrow for healing potions. The side trip also allowed me to practice my marksmanship on mudcrabs and do a little pearl-diving in the shallow water. As I reached a point just a little northeast of Pelegiad, I spotted a strange cave entrance facing the lake. The runes indicated it was called "Panat" in the Dunmer language. I decided to do a little exploring- after all, most of the better stuff was inside caves, not lying around on the ground outside.

"Besides," I thought, "it isn't a tomb. How bad can it be?"

It can be as bad as a cute little wood elf swinging a big ugly axe, attacking while your eyes are still adjusting to the dim light in the cave entrance. She never even gave me a chance to say, "Sorry, wrong cave," and just back out. She rushed me and tried her best to take my head off, nearly succeeding before I got my sword out. The new flaming longsword and some healing potions allowed me to prevail. I did learn one of the limitations of enchanting with lower-value soul-gems- the enchantments don't last very long. Still, I had won the fight and decided to see what was in the cave that made it worth trying to murder me. I probably should have just turned around and gone on to Pelegiad, but the unprovoked attack had sent me into a fury. After all the time I had spent agonizing over the way I had killed the Camonna Tong smith, it was just too much to be nearly hacked to death because I happened to poke my nose in the wrong door.

I pulled out my bow and proceeded to blend in with the shadows as well as I could. Across a suspension bridge, I spotted a couple of nix-hounds, which fell quickly to my arrows. It was hard to believe that one of these beasts had nearly killed me a few short weeks ago. Across the bridge and deeper inside the cave, I found a gate that appeared to be trapped. This time, I had the right tool for the job and was able to use a probe to disable the trap. That was much better than tripping it and taking the damage, as well as probably setting off an alarm. With the trap out of the way, I eased the gate open and slipped deeper into the cave. My stealth was getting better, because I managed to come up behind a Nord smuggler without being seen. Still unwilling to strike another human being without warning, I cleared my throat, preparatory to asking him to surrender. Instead, he tried to match his fists against my blade. That might have made sense to a Nord, but it was still a very bad strategy, as he discovered.

The next chamber of the cave held the usual assortment of containers, which in turn held the usual assortment of ingredients, liquor, weapons, and armor. There was also a small amount of moon-sugar, which perhaps explained the murderous reaction of the denizens of the cave. There was an upper platform, accesible by a rough wooden ladder. As I mounted the ladder, a wizard, who had either ignored the deaths of his partners or else was completely deaf, decided to attack me. He began by sending a number of attribute-draining spells at me, most of which I avoided or resisted. When his spells didn't seem to work, the mage pulled a huge axe from his robes and ran toward me. Having had enough of being smacked with axes for one day, I imbibed a Levitation potion, drew my bow and proceeded to make the few remaining minutes of his life as miserable as possible. Any regrets I might have felt were dispelled when I searched the corpse and found a now-familiar type of key. The key showed that there were slaves somewhere in this cavern. Now all I had to do was find them.

Besides the slave key, the wizard was carrying the axe with which he had tried to kill me. Although I didn't use axes, I recognized this as Orcish work- a valuable piece of weaponry. I should have pursued that thought to the end- that where there are Orc weapons, there are usually Orcs, but I was anxious to find and free the slaves. Beggars Nose had helped me last time I was in a cavern with slaves; the slave bracers showed up as enchanted items. This time the spell indicated three enchantments down a side passage off of the main tunnel. I picked the simple lock on the gate and made my way toward the enchantments. As I have mentioned before, the detection spell is great, except for the fact that it doesn't show human or humanoid enemies unless they are carrying magic items. This time it didn't reveal the Orc with a Nordic war-axe hiding around a bend in the passage. These guys must have belonged to a club that required an axe to get in; maybe they had jumped me because I wasn't carrying one.

Orcs tend to be very strong and very tough, so I downed a dose of sujamma before wading into the fight. I figured the boost in strength and the reduction in intelligence would make it a fair fight. That plan worked and the final smuggler fell to my sword. At the end of the passage, I found a pit with three slaves- an Argonian and two Khajiit. I unlocked their bracers and told them to take whatever they needed and get out of there. After they had departed I collected the best of the remaining goods and got out myself.

I reached Pelegiad without making any more side trips and went straight to Mebestien Ence's shop. The overly-attentive Imperial Legion guard was still hanging around, so I made a show of looking over the merchandise until he moved to a different part of the store. With the watcher out of the way, I approached Ence and asked about any "special" items he might have. Sure enough, he showed me some kind of Dwemer device that looked vaguely like a piece of alchemy apparatus. I was able to purchase the artifact for around 60 drakes; whatever it was, it weighed a ton. To keep the trader from getting suspicious, I bought a few other items, as well. Then it was time to go up to the fort and find Shadbak. It seemed to me that I had been spending entirely too much time around Imperial Legion forts recently; entering the gate made the back of my neck itch.

Shadbak was standing in the common area of the fort near the main entry. As I approached, I let the Dwemer device slip into view from my pack. She immediately spotted it and accused me of stealing it from Ence's shop. When I asked her how she knew Ence had such an illegal item, the Orc blurted, "Because he pays me good money to keep it se-...." As I said before, Orcs are strong but not always very bright. Now that she had trapped herself with her own words, I put the proposition to Shadbak- she could release New-Shoes and we would forget the whole thing or I would denounce her for taking bribes. She wasn't happy with me, but didn't really have a choice. Just to make sure, I went down to the cells to talk to New-Shoes. He was glad to be getting out and gave me a really nice pair of shoes, saying they had only brought him bad luck. He also promised to let the Guild know that I had gotten him sprung. Having accomplished my goal, I left quickly. After my experience in Cyrodiil, I had no desire to stay around a jail any longer than necessary. Now it was time to go to Vivec and talk to Caius' informants about the Nerevarine cult and the Sixth House. If that expedition went well, maybe I could go on to Ebonheart and see Apelles Matius. In any event, I planned to go straight to Vivec without doing any more "exploring." I was happy to have freed the slaves from Panat, but I really didn't want to deal with any more smugglers just yet.

Upon reaching the holy city, I went to the Foreign Quarter to find Huleeya. The Black Shalk Corner Club was located at the eastern end of the lower waistworks. I walked in to find the Argonian assassin and also trouble. When I spoke to Huleeya, he warned me that several Dunmer in the club were trying to pick a fight; it seemed they had a powerful hatred for Argonians. He feared that they were working themselves up to a violent confrontation, which would cause him to dishonor his oath to the Morag Tong. Although Huleeya had no concern about being able to handle the idiots, he did not want to dishonor his weapons in a bar brawl. He asked me to try to persuade the thugs to allow us to leave in peace. With the help of some Telvanni Bug Musk I had found in Panat, I convinced the three that it wasn't worth the trouble a fight would bring. Huleeya and I were able to make our way to Jobasha's Rare Books without incident. Once there, the Argonian assassin, who was also an amateur historian, told me what he knew of the Nerevarine cult. He also assured me that the Morag Tong was nothing like the Dark Brotherhood, who he called a bunch of "murderers-for-hire."

The Nerevarine cult was largely made up of nomadic Ashland Dunmer, who believed that the Lord Nerevar had promised to treat the tribes fairly. They stated that it was Nerevar's promise, sworn on a ring called the “Moon-and-Star” that united the Ashland tribes and the Great Houses to defeat the Deep Elves and the Nord invaders. He had sworn to uphold the traditional ancestor worship and to ensure that the nomads were treated equitably. However, following the victory at Red Mountain, Nerevar was murdered by the mortals who became the Tribunal. Following this deed, the Great Houses seized the best lands for themselves and pushed the tribes into the barren Ashlands. The tribes believed that Nerevar would be reincarnated and lead them to victory over the Great Houses and the "outlanders." He would also cast down the "false" Tribunal Temple. Needless to say, the Temple persecuted the cult and preached that their prophecies were blasphemous. The normally tolerant Empire also saw the cult as a threat and had outlawed it.

There was also a dispute over what were called False or Failed Incarnates, people who had fulfilled some aspects of the prophecies, but not all. The Temple said this proved that the prophecies were in error; the Ashlanders said the failed Incarnates were proof that the "right" person had not yet come. Huleeya gave me a copy of the notes he had made during his study of the cult. He noted that he had not heard anything about a Sixth House cult- although the Sixth House was House Dagoth. I thanked him and sat down to read and consider his notes. I was beginning to understand why the Blades were working on these cults. Any group who could irritate the Temple and the Empire simultaneously definitely deserved close study. I wondered if my connection with the Blades would be enough to protect me. It sounded as if the Nerevarine cult was enough of a threat to cause the Temple to execute me first and ask questions later. Though I was willing to stick a thumb in the eye of the Empire, I wasn't willing to get killed over it.


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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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hazmick
post Oct 2 2015, 01:11 AM
Post #7


Mouth
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Joined: 28-July 10
From: Northern England, Southern Tamriel.



ooh busy busy. Loved the way those slavers/smugglers were dealt with. Quick and efficient. Trey is becoming rather adept at this sort of thing.

Then we learn more about the mysterious cult, and the plot is thickening ever so slightly. A joy to read, as always.


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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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McBadgere
post Jan 26 2016, 05:36 AM
Post #8


Councilor
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Joined: 21-October 11



When in desperate need of some inspiration follow these simple steps...Or steppes...Or Steps...I'd follow them often...*Fans self*...

Aaaamywho...

When in need, follow these steps...

1, Read yer friend's awesome story...

2, Repeat step 1...A lot...



Fair dues...This really is a properly awesome story...

QUOTE
...it was just too much to be nearly hacked to death because I happened to poke my nose in the wrong door.


Hasn't it ever been thus, though?... biggrin.gif ...

QUOTE
These guys must have belonged to a club that required an axe to get in; maybe they had jumped me because I wasn't carrying one.


laugh.gif ...

And that dry wash sleeping place sounds all the cozies...All of them...I wish that was my bedroom!...Minus the 'ssassin, mind... biggrin.gif ...

Properly brilliant stuff...Always...

Nice one!!...

*Applauds heartily*...

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treydog
post Nov 23 2018, 04:14 PM
Post #9


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Joined: 13-February 05
From: The Smoky Mountains



This "Trey of High Rock, Imperial Spy" business was getting complicated, and I didn't like complexity. Without meaning to, I was getting involved in religion and politics, and worst of all, religious politics. Being a thief is simple: see the stuff, steal the stuff, sell the stuff. And don't get caught. Simple. I already had the Dark Brotherhood and the Camonna Tong after me- this business with the cults seemed likely to cause the Temple to take an unfriendly interest in me, too. All of these worries distracted me to the point that I managed to wander out of Jobasha's without even looking around, let alone buying anything. Let me repeat that, I walked out of what was probably the best bookshop in all of Vvardenfell without buying anything! It was probably just as well that I was distracted; otherwise, I would probably have spent every bit of the 2000 or so drakes I was carrying. Fortunately, I didn't. Even more fortunately, the bookshop wasn't going anywhere. While I made my way through the Foreign Quarter, I decided that I should go on over to St. Olms and find Addhiranirr. Even though the implications of this spy game were making me nervous, a deal was a deal. I had told Caius I would do this and I had to see it through.

Inside the St. Olms waistworks, I stopped a rough-looking Dunmer who struck me as the sort who would know something about the Thieves Guild. Idly tossing a coin, I asked him,

"Seen Addhiranirr lately?"

He licked his lips and stared at the gold piece. But he was a tough sell, just the same.

"Who? I don't think I know anyone by that name."

I pulled two more 10-septim coins from my pockets and started juggling them. Sweat broke out on the dark elf's forehead as he watched the display. I palmed the three coins and then made a show of pulling them out from behind his ear.

"I think you must have dropped these," I said, and pressed them into his hand.

"She's probably down in the underworks, dodging that Census and Excise Agent. Go downstairs and then through one of the trapdoors."

I thanked him and set out to explore the St. Olms underworks. If Addhiranirr was hiding from a Census and Excise Agent, I had a feeling we were going to get along just fine. The underworks proved to be a dark, smelly, rat-infested series of tunnels and canals. I couldn't do anything about the dark or the smell, but I thinned the rat population considerably. I really wished the city had a rat bounty- I would never have to steal again. Of course, if there was a bounty, every 12-year-old with a pointy stick would have been down there, falling into the canals and getting into trouble. As it stood there were no children- just a harassed-looking Khajiit. I had found my next contact; like everything else on this job, that was the easy part.

Addhiranirr wouldn't talk unless I could "get rid of" the Census and Excise Agent. She claimed his presence "distracted" her. Even when I mentioned Caius, she wouldn't budge- as long as the tax man was nosing around, she had nothing to say. Of course, "getting rid of" the guy didn't have to mean killing him. If he would just go away, that would serve. Besides, killing a Census and Excise Agent was a very bad idea. With no other choice, I climbed back up the stairs to see if I could find the man and make an arrangement. I didn't think a bribe would work- these guys were chosen because they had an unnatural ability to handle money without any of it sticking to their fingers. How do you even talk to somebody like that?

The agent was easy to find, he was a stuffy Imperial wearing fancy robes and bothering anyone he could corner. Getting rid of him ought to be considered a public service. And I had an idea of how to accomplish that goal. I wandered past as if I hadn't even noticed him and he pounced.

"You look like a fellow who knows his way around," he said. "I'm new here and I'm trying to find my friend, Addhiranirr. Have you seen her?"

I had to admire his gall- claiming to be Addhiranirr's friend took some nerve. Of course, I knew better, so I said,

"Isn't she a Khajiit, about so high? I just saw her taking a boat to the mainland." After all, one lie deserves another.

He left so quickly, the breeze from his robes nearly knocked me down. That was much more satisfying than killing him. It was also a lot safer.

Back in the underworks, the Khajiit thief was in a better frame of mind. She was happy that the tax man was gone, but didn't want any details. She knew nothing of the Nerevarine cult, calling it "silly superstition for fuzzy kitties," but had some interesting information about the Sixth House. What she knew was that the Sixth House was deeply involved in smuggling- and they were moving a lot of something. They were moving enough material that most of the smugglers who usually handled regular contraband were tied up with Sixth House stuff. Even more disturbing was the fact that the smugglers weren't talking about what it was they were moving. Any outfit that could monopolize the smuggling network and convince them to keep quiet was more than just disturbing- it was frightening. Not for the first time, I wondered what I had gotten into. Regardless, I had one more person to see, and I had a feeling she was going to be the most difficult. I was going to have to go right to the heart of the Temple's power base to see Mehra Milo. And I was going to have to ask her about subjects the Temple didn't want discussed.

The trick to getting into places where you aren't supposed to be is to act like you should be there. If you can come up with a legitimate reason, so much the better. I've mentioned before that skulking in the shadows near your target is the surest way to draw unwanted attention. It's far better to walk right up to the guard and ask for directions. What I needed now was a reason to go to the Temple library in the Hall of Wisdom. The proximity of the Hall of Justice made this a difficult proposition. There were going to be Ordinators all over the place, so I needed a cover story that would stand up to scrutiny. I didn't think "rat-catcher" would be enough. Then I overheard some gossip about the series of murders that had taken place in the city. They hadn't been solved yet, and the Office of the Watch was considering looking for some "outside help." That might be the opportunity I needed. Most of the people talking about the murders seemed to believe that anyone or anything that could take out two Ordinators must be big, bad, and scary. I had a different idea- whoever was doing this didn't appear threatening, so the Ordinators and other victims hadn't been expecting trouble. And Ordinators can be taken as easily as anyone else if they are caught flat-footed. The thing was, all the victims had had their throats cut. That meant that these killings weren't fights, they were ambushes- the killer was slipping up behind the victims and making a killing strike. The problem "elite" outfits like the Ordinators have is: they start to believe their own propaganda. "We are the best. We are invincible. We cannot be defeated." And other people believe it, too. So nobody challenges the image. Meanwhile, as the "elite" guards sit around polishing their armor and their egos, their actual skills get rusty. Give me the guy with the scars and the battered armor any day- he has seen combat and survived. That means he knows something about the reality. He may not be pretty, but he will know which end of his sword to use on the enemy. Anyway, this little problem would be my reason for showing up at the Temple. After all, I was a foreigner and five of the victims had been foreigners. So I would offer my valuable assistance in tracking down the "Vivec Slasher." And, while I was there, what would be more natural than paying a visit to the library? And if I happened to speak to Mehra Milo, it was just part of my investigation.

The Office of the Watch was in the Hall of Justice. I had to take a deep breath before opening the door; I just couldn't get used to the idea of going into jails or guard offices on purpose. There were two Dunmer in the room; both were dressed as Ordinators, except without the masks. Unsure who was who, I approached the Dunmer on the left and introduced myself. He was tall for a dark elf and had a nasty and painful-looking rash on his face. He said his name was Tarer Braryn and then asked if I was in the Mage Guild. When I said yes, he asked me if I would be willing to carry his apology to Arch-Mage Trebonius. It seemed that Braryn had gotten drunk and called the Arch-Mage a "flat-head." When he awoke, he was suffering from a rash that no potion or spell seemed able to cure. He would gladly pay me 50 drakes for delivering his apology, along with a book, to Trebonius. As it seemed to be a simple way to make a friend in the Office of the Watch, I readily agreed. Braryn gave me a copy of Aedra and Daedra as well as an expression of regret to pass along. I promised to handle the matter quickly and quietly, then turned to Elam Andas, the Chief of the Watch. As I had hoped, he had a serious matter to discuss.


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

The best-dressed newt in Mournhold.
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treydog
post Dec 9 2018, 08:27 PM
Post #10


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



Andas explained that he couldn't hire me- officially. But he could tell me everything he knew about the murders and the one eye-witness account. And if I managed to solve the killings, he could give me a reward for my "volunteer" effort. I agreed to those terms and settled in to pay close attention to whatever he could tell me. First, he stated that he believed the killer was operating by stealth rather than brute force. His grasp of the situation impressed me; he was more than just another guard. Five of the victims had been foreigners, which seemed to point to someone with a grudge against "outlanders." Even the two dead Ordinators didn't rule that out- they were killed in the Hlaalu Compound shortly after finding the body of the most recent civilian victim. Three of the others had been killed in the Foreign Quarter. There was only one witness, a man who had reported being "threatened by a Dunmer woman with a dagger, wearing netch armor and a skirt." That intended victim had teleported out- he was in the Hlaalu Compound when the attack took place. The idea that a woman might be the killer didn't surprise me- such an attacker would be better able to get close to the victims without raising suspicion. I decided to start my search in the Foreign Quarter; that was the most likely hunting ground for someone stalking outlanders. Also, the Hlaalu Compound was close by, so it seemed probable that the killer was somewhere in or around the two cantons. First, though, I wanted to find Mehra Milo and ask her about cults.

Upon entering the library, I recognized Mehra immediately. She had, as Caius had said, "copper hair and copper eyes." I approached her and she asked me how she could assist me. When I mentioned Caius, she paled and said,

"I can't talk here. Follow me to the back of the library."

Now that she mentioned it, there were a number of Ordinators around, and they didn't seem to be reading books. When we reached the relative privacy of the back room, Mehra told me what she knew of the Nerevarine cult. Her information matched Huleeya's- although the Temple worshipped Nerevar as a saint and hero, they ruthlessly suppressed any talk of his reincarnation. A Temple faction known as the Dissident Priests disputed the orthodox teachings and had gone into hiding. A banned book called The Progress of Truth would provide more information. Although the library had a copy, it would be better if I obtained one from a bookseller. Finally, she asked me to warn Caius that she was being watched by the Ordinators. Some of the Dissident Priests had been her friends before they went into exile. If the worst happened and she was taken, Mehra would leave a message with the code word "amaya."

Although I had finished talking to Caius' informants, I wasn't ready to run back to Balmora just yet. For one thing, I had promised Braryn that I would deliver his message to Trebonius. More important was the fact that I had promised to look into the murders. Again, this was a case of having given my word; also, it was self-preservation. Someone was killing foreigners in Vivec- I was a foreigner in Vivec- so I was a potential target. As the Mage Guild was in the plaza atop the Foreign Quarter, it would be a simple matter to work my way down through the levels, asking people if they had seen anyone fitting the description of the suspected murderer. If I had no success in the Foreign Quarter, I would move over to Hlaalu and do the same.
Trebonius was pleased to accept the book and the apology; he seemed almost lucid when he harrumphed something about, "...Tarer learning his lesson." He gave me a special Potion of Cure for the afflicted officer and an Exclusive Potion of Rising Force for myself. Then I got away before the old fellow could think of some useless errand for me to run. The borrowed book reminded me- I was supposed to find a copy of The Progress of Truth. I decided to stop in at Jobasha's while searching for the murderer.

That side-trip was one of the hardest I had undertaken; getting in was easy, getting out took every bit of my willpower. Besides The Progress of Truth, Jobasha had multiple volumes of A Dance in Fire, The Real Barenziah, and so many other titles that my eyes crossed. I had to keep reminding myself that I was on a mission- I couldn't weigh myself down with books. I barely escaped with The Progress of Truth, and that only after I promised myself that I would come back soon.

The simple errands were done; now I had to begin the harder task of tracking down a killer. Some might wonder at my seemingly ready acceptance of a "bounty hunter" job; hadn't I always said I didn't want to be a sword-for-hire? But this case was different- whoever was doing this would not stop until they were caught. Maybe the victims weren't innocent- but they were being killed for just one reason- they were "outlanders." That was the same so-called "logic" that justified the enslavement of the Khajiit and Argonians- they weren't really "people." I didn't love the Empire, but I was still one of her citizens and I would defend my right to go where I willed without fear of violence. If the killer got away with it, no “foreigner” would be safe anywhere in Vvardenfell- and that included me. And, simpler still, I had agreed to do the job. My honor may have been tarnished, but it was my own- I would keep my word at any cost. So it was that I found myself asking everyone I met if they had seen "a Dunmer woman with a dagger, wearing netch leather and a skirt."

The first few people I encountered didn't recognize the description, but I finally found a fellow in the lower waistworks who had heard about a Dunmer woman down in the underworks. That was an odd place for someone to go if they didn't work there- that was what had made the witness notice her. It certainly seemed an appropriate place for a crazed killer to be hiding out- she could quickly travel the length and breadth of the canton and pop out of a trapdoor to attack someone. Now that my theory seemed to be confirmed, I made up my mind to be careful- this was no time for misplaced chivalry. If she was down there, I couldn't afford to give her a chance. The two Ordinators had made that mistake and they were dead. I didn't much like the idea of being a killer, but I liked the idea of being a corpse even less.

The Foreign Quarter underworks were similar to St. Olms- canals, tunnels, rats, and debris. I reminded myself that, although the shadows were my friends, they could conceal my enemy just as well. And as proof of that idea, I found her in the second canal area I searched, or rather, she found me. I had just finished off a rat with my bow when I heard the sound of running feet coming up behind me. I turned to see, you guessed it- "a Dunmer woman with a dagger, wearing netch leather and a skirt." What the witnesses hadn't mentioned were her eyes- there was nothing sane about them. Almost as unnerving was the silence with which she attacked- most of the people who had tried to kill me had uttered some sort of curse or grunt- she just ran at me with the dagger raised high. I managed to get a couple of arrows into her, but she didn't slow down at all. And then it was blade to blade. Again, she was eerily silent, except for the rasp of her breathing. I did my best to use my favorite "thrust and retreat" method to keep her shorter weapon away from me. It mostly worked- the trouble was, her blade was enchanted to drain my energy- if she hit me a few more times, I would fall unconscious and that would be the end.

Now I understood how the others had died- the enchantment knocked them out and then it was a simple matter to cut their throats. The difference was that I was prepared. I had my sword out and was carrying several Restore Fatigue potions that I had made. Ultimately, the greater reach of my sword prevailed and she fell to the canalside. Now I had a chance to get a better look and didn't like anything I saw. This was certainly the killer- I didn't believe that there were two women matching the description running around down here. And she had saved me the dilemma of whether to shoot first- her clear intention had been to kill me. There was still the mystery of why, and another mystery, as well. Among her belongings were a bronze key and a hunk of something I really didn't want to touch. From what I could tell, it might once have been human flesh, but it was strangely changed and deformed. What purpose it served I truly did not want to know. There was something dangerous down there in the tunnels and canals below Vivec, and it wasn't rats. Every time I went down into the depths below one of the cantons, I got an itch between my shoulder blades.

I decided that, before too many more weeks passed, I would investigate every inch of the underworks in every canton. The idea scared me, but I was even more afraid of leaving whatever was down here untended, waiting to boil over at any moment. There was something evil down here, something that had so twisted this woman that she attacked without reason. It had finally gotten through to me that I couldn't solve my problems by running away. Some dangers simply had to be met head-on. And some wounds had to be cauterized with fire if they were to heal.


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

The best-dressed newt in Mournhold.
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