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> Sleeper in the Cave, a Morrowind fanfic
haute ecole rider
post Aug 31 2010, 03:01 AM
Post #41


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You had me at
QUOTE
I let my sack fall to the ground with a sigh. Arrille, then Fargoth entered the room as I shook out my arms, which were informing me that they had got used to lazy lounging about in prison and did not hold with this sort of strenuous activity. Painfully. Fargoth closed the door behind him carefully, then hopped up to sit on a large crate. I covered my nose when I saw the dust billow up, but he didn't seem to mind.
Then it only got better.

I see treydog has already caught two of my favorite lines. So without further ado:

QUOTE
"Now although I usually don't look well on such activities, I could make an exception for a clearly good-hearted young lass who's been helping my good friend Fargoth, and one who's been a nuisance to the Imperials up at the Census office instead of any of us townsfolk."
Considering the asinine way the game apparently sets up the Imperial presence in Seyda Neen, this is a hysterical poke in the rear at the game start.

QUOTE
I was beginning to think I could run through the town stark naked at noon and paint 'URIEL SEPTIM IS THE ILLEGITIMATE SON OF A MONKEY AND A SLOAD WHO COMMITS UNSPEAKABLE ACTS WITH SHEEP' on the walls and none of the citizens would report me.
Not in IC! This cracked me up.

The rest of the chapter is just rollicking pure fun. I really enjoyed it!


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Acadian
post Aug 31 2010, 03:24 AM
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Yes, still bubbly delightful. tongue.gif


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hazmick
post Aug 31 2010, 11:48 AM
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Hilarious, my laptop is now covered in tea. laugh.gif


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"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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Olen
post Aug 31 2010, 12:11 PM
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Well all my favourite lines have been quoted so I shall just say 'what they said' (especially the graphitti and the comment that if you're going to you might as well do it properly). Certainly this piece is very fun.

And plants appeared again, I can see this becomming a recurrent event. God help any stronghold she has built.



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Remko
post Sep 1 2010, 11:55 AM
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I love your interpretation. Can't wait for her rendez-vous with Caius. I suspect Ad.Ryn will have some snidy remarks about him too.


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treydog
post Sep 15 2010, 01:04 PM
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It has come to this- I am reduced to rhyme. The only way to stop it is to write more. (Please?)

There’s a lass we're missin’
Who calls herself Ad-ryn
(She has a name!)

She has a temper they say, aye it is true
But stranded in Seyda Neen, so would you
(Syllables two!)

She stole from the Legion, to give to herself
A clever klepto is our dark elf
(Something for me?)

Hrisskar will be sorry he bullied her so
He might find his flat foot missing a toe!
(Maybe a plant?)


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Kazaera
post Aug 7 2011, 08:07 PM
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Remember me?

...thought not. kvleft.gif kvright.gif I am really sorry for disappearing without warning, but honestly, this is how things tend to go with me (@#$*% interest patterns, I swear). I was hoping I'd get back to Adryn's story sooner than a year later, and that I'd get the chance to post more of it before I disappeared, but... well.

However! I've been writing more of it again and I have finally finished that rewrite of Chapter 1, which means that I can actually post more of what I've already got written now. There are still bits I'm not too happy with but I figure I can always go back and fix them later. So at least for the next few weeks, barring exceptional circumstances or sudden massive rewrites (which are unlikely, because there are no bits as old and stylistically out of place in any of the other chapters as in chapter 1), Adryn will grace Chorrol's forums again! After that? We'll see.

Previous

*****

Sleeper in the Cave, Chapter 1 Part n

Downstairs, both Elone and Flat-Foot were gone. Instead, there was a dark elven girl, maybe eight years old, sitting on Arrille's counter. I looked at her curiously. She was the first other dark elf I'd seen since disembarking, which was rather surprising given that this was meant to be their, our, homeland. She was wearing rough clothing so covered in patches of various colours I could hardly tell what its original shade had been and holding a short wooden sword firmly in one hand. Red eyes peered back at me behind messy black hair that had apparently escaped from a rather bedraggled ponytail.

"Are you going to do something evil?" she asked me solemnly.

My mouth opened and shut wordlessly. Maybe it was because it had been a long and confusing day, maybe because I wasn't often accused of being evil by people half my height, but I found myself speechless.

Luckily, Arrille came to the rescue. "Good day, Llavani. I assure you Adryn is not evil. Does Indrele know you're here?"

"Mother is busy. And Miss Elone said she'd give me two whole copper pieces if I stayed and protected your things from evildoers, Uncle Arrille!" Llavani swung her sword, I presumed at an imaginary foe. Arrille ducked. "I dunno what evildoers look like, though, so to be safe I've just been asking everyone. Did I do good?"

Arrille reached over and ruffled her hair. "You did wonderfully, scrib. Why don't you run over to Elone now and tell her your guard duties are no longer needed, and that I'd like to talk to her when she has time."

"And," I threw in, "tell her I happen to know that in Imperial City little girls get three drakes for guard duty."

She grinned at me. "You're all right, muthsera." Then she vanished out the door.

"Who was that?" I asked.

"Llavani Rathryon. She's the daughter of one of the commoners around here. Very conscientious lass, but... I'll have to ask Elone just what she was thinking." Arrille shook his head. "Anyway. I think you had some items you wanted to buy?"

"Which is my cue to disappear, I think," Fargoth threw in. "I still have some work to do at home, after all. Arrille, I'll see you tonight. It was nice to meet you, Adryn, and thank you for all your... help. I'm sure you'll do excellently here." He winked at me.

I bade Fargoth farewell and looked around the shop. Honestly, I had to wonder whether there was actually anything there I'd be interested in. I saw a lot of weapons - and not even daggers or anything sensible or easy to use like that, but giant warhammers and blades almost as long as I was tall. I saw heavy metal torture devices, I mean armour, polished so brightly they were almost painful to look at. (As if the possibility of blindness would give me incentive to strap myself into a heat-absorbing death trap heavier than I am.) The only thing that looked remotely useful was a stack of rough woolen clothing in the corner - it looked as if some of it ought to fit reasonably well, and I wasn't in much of a position to be very snobby about clothing. (An understatement. I'd definitely ended up with the 'sack with more holes' of Jiub's explanation of prison garment options.) But apart from that...

Wait. Was that up in the corner of that shelf...

"That's Eldafire's old mortar and pestle," Arrille said, following my line of sight. "Sold it to me a few months back, said her eyesight was getting too bad to keep making potions but it was an excellent set which had served her well all the time she had it. Do you want me to-" he noticed my hungry gaze and amended himself, "I'll just get that down for you, shall I."

Honestly, and despite Arrille now trying to talk it up as the finest mortar and pestle which had ever graced Tamriel, it didn't look like much. Too small to make larger or more complicated potions, battered, with some of the surface already worn smooth from repeated use - a far cry from the equipment you see master alchemists or even journeymen use. So it may be difficult to understand exactly why my fingers twitched at the sight of it.

At least, difficult to understand unless you have ever had the experience of trying to grind wolfsbane petals for an invisibility potion using two smooth rocks because you have nothing else to hand. In the middle of a rainstorm. While the guards the invisibility potion is meant to help you escape from are coming steadily closer. On the other hand, if you have had this experience I believe you will agree (albeit possibly from prison) when I say you never quite view alchemical equipment the same way again.

"So I'd sell it to you for eighty drakes,"Arrille said, finishing up his spiel.

Of course, none of that is reason to act like a fool. Which spending eighty drakes (almost all of the money I was supposed to have at my disposal!) on that would certainly be.

"Eighty? Eighty? You must be joking. You say it's served her well for years - I can certainly see the years part of it! Honestly," I sniffed, "I'm doing you a favour, offering to take this off your hands when you were probably planning to toss it out with the rubbish at the next opportunity since no respectable alchemist would go near it. Half a septim and no more."

"You exaggerate mercilessly - it might be old, but it's still perfectly functionable. How about... one septim, and I'll teach you a Firebite spell as well." That was actually quite a tempting offer. I didn't know one myself, but I knew fire spells could be very useful in a pinch - lighting fires even without flint and tinder, as an emergency replacement for properly cooking, and even for defense. Although to be entirely truthful, I wasn't planning to use it for the last; the first item in my arsenal when it comes to combat is neither spell nor weapon but my legs. Running away at the first sight of trouble has served me well for quite a while now and I wasn't planning on changing that (I personally blame this attitude on an excess of sanity, although some people would dispute that.)

"Ninety septims for both, and you add in a shirt and a pair of trousers from that stack there," was my counter-offer.

"Done and done." Arrille smiled, satisfied, as I handed over every last drake that Gravius had given me. Usually I'd be a bit more careful about my money, but the weight of three hundred fifty more hidden inside my shirt reassured me that I still had enough to be reasonably secure. "Now, the way you construct a Firebite spell is like this..."

It was quite a bit easier to pick up than I was expecting, even though I had relatively little experience with Destruction magic. Arrille shrugged and muttered "Dunmer" when I managed to successfully light a candle on his table on the second try.

I'd just managed to pick a shirt and trousers that looked to fit at least no worse than what I was already wearing (and silently vowed that at the next opportunity, I'd squander some of my hard-earned money on a tailor) when the door creaked open.

"Elone!" Arrille barked. I looked at him in surprise; this was the angriest I'd heard him so far. "Since when does 'I'll keep an eye on things' mean you wander off and leave a little girl to look after things? Llavani's not a lass that goes running off, no, but she's no guard."

Elone raised an eyebrow. "Calm down, will you? I'm sorry for leaving the store unattended - I wouldn't have, but something urgent came up which I had to look into right away. I figured Llavani would look after things for you."

"Look after? The girl is eight."

"Eight and probably more careful about who she lets in than I'd be." I remembered being asked whether I was evil and had to choke back a giggle. Elone continued, "It's not as if you get a lot of thieves here, and if something happened Llavani'd raise enough of a fuss that you'd hear it even from upstairs. And nothing happened, did it?"

Arrille seemed to be calming down despite himself. "Still, Elone, whatever your 'urgent business' was, and no doubt you'll be telling me it's yet another secret of yours..."

"No secret this." Elone's voice was grim. "Processus has gone missing. No one's seen him since yesterday evening and I couldn't find him anywhere in town. Some people are searching the surrounding area, I'll join them in a bit. But first..." her gaze fell on me. I crossed my arms in instinctive defensive reaction. (It was a 'what am I going to do with you?' look. I don't like those looks; as previously mentioned I am not a game piece and the only one who ought to be doing anything with me is me, thank you very much.)

"Processus gone missing? Don't tell me..." Arrille trailed off, brow furrowed in thought, then noticed where Elone was looking. "Oh, I just finished selling Adryn here some items."

"Not, I note, any weapons or armour," Elone said drily. I stared at her in confusion; I thought the general idea was to make me more, not less, likely to survive.

Arrille shrugged. "Lass didn't seem to want any. Doesn't seem to be a warrior type if you look at her, now does she?" They looked at me. I glared back. "I did talk her into a Firebite spell, though, and was about to have a word with her regarding weaponry."

"Of course you will. After lunch."

"What?" Arrille asked.

An arm snaked its way around my shoulders. I tried to jerk away, but it was holding me too tightly. "Lunch. Arrille, you should be ashamed of yourself. While you've been making the girl pay for your cast-offs and telling her all sorts of nonsense, she's faint with hunger." Elone's voice was coming from right next to my ear. I moved my head as far to the other side as I could.

"My name. Is not. Girl," I muttered between clenched teeth.

"I'll take her outside for some fresh air, get some food into her and try to tell her how things really are."

"And you can stop ignoring me anytime, yes. Oh, and let me go. That too."

Elone ignored me. "I've got food at my place. Come on, let's go."

Now, lest anyone get the wrong impression I should note that ordinarily I defend my personal space with all the force and dedication of a rabid war dog. (Some people would tell you that there are other similarities. This is, of course, a barefaced lie.) Anyone trying to so much as tap my shoulder generally ends up with their fist in my face or, failing that, my teeth in their hand. Someone actually putting their arm around me without me doing my best to remove the offending appendage... remove it from their body, that was... was next to unheard of. However, in this case there was an overriding impulse, one of the few things that would make me put up with such manhandling with only grumbling.

Free food.

More to the point, free food that was hopefully not gruel or at least not mobile gruel after far, far, far too long being forced to subsist on that... that... substance. At the moment, I was willing to swear my soul to the Emperor for something that could actually be classified as food without being academically dishonest. Tolerating someone being overly familiar, as long as their hands didn't venture any further down than my shoulders, went only slightly more against my basic nature.

As a result, I only put up a token struggle as I was dragged out of the tradehouse.

*****

Next

This post has been edited by Kazaera: Jul 11 2013, 02:28 PM


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treydog
post Aug 7 2011, 10:03 PM
Post #48


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From: The Smoky Mountains



Remember? Did you say “remember”? I am thrilled to see you back and writing! First Olen, then Destri- and now you. If one or two more (pointedly NOT looking in Sierra and minque’s direction) post soon, I will be a catatonically happy doggie. Waves wildly- LOOK EVERYONE- IT'S ADRYN! (Whispered- DO NOT call her "girl," "kid," "sweetie," or etc.)

Too many snortle-inducing parts to quote all of them- so here are some of my favorites:

QUOTE
"Are you going to do something evil?" she asked me solemnly.


QUOTE
"I dunno what evildoers look like, though, so to be safe I've just been asking everyone.


QUOTE
(As if the possibility of blindness would give me incentive to strap myself into a heat-absorbing death trap heavier than I am.)

The alchemy explanation was perhaps the best- and certainly the funniest- I have ever read.

QUOTE
"My name. Is not. Girl," I muttered between clenched teeth.


And of course the whole- "Touch me and die" part- which is just icing on the Ardryn cake....

This post has been edited by treydog: Aug 8 2011, 12:44 AM


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haute ecole rider
post Aug 8 2011, 12:04 AM
Post #49


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ninja'd by treydoggie again!

Course I remember you! And I'm glad to see you back! Now where's Remko??

Anyways, loved seeing Adryn pick up where she left off.

Little Llavani is adorable! Treydog already picked out the two little things I loved about her, so let me add this one:
QUOTE
Llavani swung her sword, I presumed at an imaginary foe. Arrille ducked.
laugh.gif
And this one:
QUOTE
"And," I threw in, "tell her I happen to know that in Imperial City little girls get three septims for guard duty."

She grinned at me. "You're all right, sera."
Two of a kind! cool.gif cool.gif

QUOTE
Arrille shrugged and muttered "Dunmer" when I managed to successfully light a candle on his table on the second try.
Heh heh. Yup, I remember my Dunmer character very well. She was my jill-of-all-trades, that one. A bit of a firebrand, too. wink.gif

And that whole last bit about physical intimacy had me rolling!


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Grits
post Aug 8 2011, 05:45 PM
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Oh my gosh, hilarious. I love Adryn’s tone. I would like to read some more, please. smile.gif


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Kazaera
post Aug 8 2011, 06:25 PM
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@everyone - thanks for reviewing, and I am honoured that I'm remembered even a year later! smile.gif

@Treydog - ah, you remembered the key important parts of interacting with Adryn. *g* Very glad you liked Llavani - one thing I really want to do with this write-up is make Morrowind feel like an actual place that actual people live in, not a computer game, and a key part to that is adding the missing children! But I actually haven't spent much time with kids since I was one so I was quite uncertain of my ability to write Llavani believably. And yeah, Adryn has some... interesting things to say about alchemy.

@Haute - see above re: Llavani! And yes, that +15 racial bonus to Destruction is coming in *very* handy for Adryn here. biggrin.gif

@Grits - glad you like the humour, and ask and you shall receive!

I think I was updating every other day before, but you get an update today because I'm not sure I'll be able to do one tomorrow.

(Notes: I gave Elone a house although she didn't seem to have one in-game because... well... if she's based in Seyda Neen she has to live somewhere, right? I was going to have her live with Draren Thiralas, but I have plans for marriage and romance in Dunmer culture that I didn't want to spoil.

Also, Solitude is one of the major cities in Skyrim, described in lore as rich and prosperous, but it's also the northernmost city in Tamriel and looking at the map it seems to be at a similar latitude as northern Solstheim...)

Previous

*****

Elone's house turned out to be one of the nice-looking thatched houses clustered to the north of the tradehouse. I was glad of it, as most of the other "buildings" in this place - I use the term loosely - looked as though the instant you set foot in them they would collapse on top of you and drown you in the swamp. (Traps set for newcomers, perhaps?) Inside, it was also furnished much as I expected from a Cyrodiilic home. I'd have spent more time studying the surroundings except that my attention got diverted by a truly amazing gift of the gods exuding a heavenly smell-

Food.

I'm sorry, where was I?

"It's not much, just warmed-up crab chowder from this morning, but I can't afford to spend much more time here and you don't look as if you want to wait much longer," Elone said as she put a steaming bowl of soup and a chunk of bread in front of me.

"Mmfgrmp," I answered. It was meant to be 'thank you', but somehow my mouth had filled itself with soup without my even noticing. Strange how that happens.

Thankfully, Elone didn't take offense at my lack of manners; instead she just grinned and dug into her own portion.

Despite the fact that I ended up taking thirds, Elone and I finished at the same time - her with a somewhat amazed expression on her face. I didn't see what the issue was; time in an Imperial prison teaches you quickly that anything resembling food is to be devoured as quickly as possible before anyone takes it away from you. Or it runs away. (I remembered that gruel.)

"Well, you certainly seemed to need that," Elone said, looking at me critically.

"Thank you very much," I said, comprehensibly this time. "It was delicious." Although honestly, what I was comparing it to was a very, very low bar - I'd almost have called Legionnaire hardtack delicious at that point - but I figured it was more diplomatic not to point that out.

"Almalexia's mercy, she does have manners after all!" I scowled and was about to snap a retort (probably proving her point), but Elone continued with something that made my blood run cold. "Pity she has next to no sense to accompany those, given what I saw from the lighthouse earlier today."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," I said woodenly.

"Oh? How strange. Then it must have been some other newly-released prisoner who stole everything that wasn't nailed down in the Legion's supply room and tossed it over the wall! Don't worry, I won't tell," she continued, correctly interpreting my expression as 'terrified'. "But you do realise the main reason you got away with it is Fargoth opting to help you? By all rights, you ought to be back in prison right now."

"It may have been slightly short-sighted-" I started.

Elone laughed. I glared at her. "Slightly short-sighted? Girl," seriously, two syllables, what is so difficult about this, "that was one of the stupidest things I've ever seen. Now, I can't say the other ones were particularly clever, but at least none of them decided to start their criminal activities when they hadn't even been officially released yet!"

"Look," I retorted, "I fail to see what business it is of yours anyway, but in any case what's done is done so if you're not going to turn me in-"

"What's done is done, yes." Elone didn't seem inclined to let me finish a single sentence. "Except that I can't help but think that now, after you've successfully robbed the Census and Excise office - thanks more to luck than skill, I should note - you'll decide to continue on in this manner. And next time, or the time after, or the time after, your luck will fail you and you'll end up in prison again. Which would be a right shame, if you ask me."

My shoulders slumped. Elone was right; by all rights my stunt earlier should have landed me straight back in prison. I'd been overconfident and hadn't thought about consequences, yes, but the main problem was that I simply wasn't used to working on my own. I'd always had someone else to go through plans with, be a look-out, cause distractions, bail me out of trouble when worst came to worst - at this rate I'd end up arrested or killed soon simply because I was relying on back-up that wasn't here. But... "It's not as if I can do anything else." I hadn't actually been planning on sharing, but the words just spilled out of me. "Not like anyone'd hire me for a proper job, and I have to eat somehow."

Elone's expression softened. "Of course. For a moment there, I forgot you weren't from Morrowind. Most of the people on that ship looked to be from Cyrodiil... but no. Skyrim, by your accent. Solitude, would be my guess?"

I nodded reluctantly. "Lived there since I was twelve. Just moved to Imperial City recently before... all this happened." Maybe I'd developed mind-control powers in the last five minutes so that the please stop asking about this I was currently thinking at her would induce her to change subjects. Hope sprang eternal.

"Well, no wonder then," Elone said decidedly. "You've got pretty limited career choices in a city where going outside the gates is a near death sentence close to nine months of the year. And Imperial City's no better for all that the climate isn't so extreme. But," she fixed me with a stare, "you've got to remember that you're not in either of those places anymore. You're on Vvardenfell. It was a Temple preserve up until recently, you know?" I didn't - in fact I didn't even know what that meant - but Elone didn't seem inclined to let me get a word in between. "So most of it's still unsettled and a lot of the settlements that do exist are new. Vvardenfell is wild, untamed, dangerous, and in a place like that there's a lot of ways a bright, resourceful girl like you can make a living without resorting to crime."

"Like?" I couldn't help but be dubious, as this did not correspond with my previous experience in the slightest.

"Well, you could follow in my footsteps and become a scout." Elone grinned. "Honestly, I might find myself resorting to crime in Solitude myself - not much call for scouting if you can barely get outside without braving frostbite. Or if you're not so much for the wilderness, there's a lot of organisations and guilds recruiting these days, and they usually offer room, board, and a lot of ways to make money. If you're more of the adventuring sort, I know quite a few people who make a tidy sum of money by hunting smugglers and bandits - although by the look of you I'd guess that's not quite your thing." However could she have guessed? I mean, I'm sure I cut the precise image of an imposing warrior. They'll ask for my portrait to put next to 'adventurer' in the Imperial Dictionary any day now, I'm just waiting for the letter.

Elone continued, "If you can cast a water-breathing spell or get an item enchanted there's pearl-diving, although you need to be wary of the slaughterfish. Or you can gather ingredients in the wild and sell them to apocetharies or merchants, or make potions from them to sell yourself- aha, that caught your interest." She'd noticed my eyes light up. "Should have guessed when I saw you spend most your money on a mortar and pestle. Alchemy's an excellent way to make money here. There's enough call for potions that most merchants will buy home-made potions, and it's easy to get ingredients just by stepping outside and plucking flowers. Most everything growing out there, and some of the things walking, have some alchemical use. Who knows, you might even manage to open a shop if you play your cards right."

Alchemical ingredients just growing outside for anyone to pick up? Which you didn't have to dig out from under several inches of ice? Or have to beat the other dozen poor people with alchemical pretensions to? I hadn't seen anything like it since I was a child. If Elone was right and ingredients were readily at hand and it was easy to sell homemade potions, I might be able to eke out an honest living that way... and getting away from a life of crime had more advantages than she knew.

At that point, Imperial guards couldn't have stopped me from going outside to test this myself.

"Wait!" Elone might succeed, though. "Are you planning to go unarmed and unarmoured?"

I stared down at myself (still clad in dreadful prison clothes and conspicuously devoid of anything resembling armour), at my hands (empty), then back at Elone, raising an eyebrow. Honestly, did I look as though I had anything like that on me? Perhaps she thought I'd mastered the art of storing items in some sort of dimensional pockets, a feat I'd read about in books. If so, I was going to have to reconsider all the advice she'd given me; I prefer to take my guidance from people with at least some resemblance of sense.

"Don't be cheeky," Elone said, fixing me with a look. "And I wasn't joking when I said this land was dangerous, you know. You're not safe even close to town, and going outside without any way to defend yourself is just asking for trouble. In fact..."she sighed heavily, then stood up. "I have an old iron short-sword I was planning to sell to Arrille one of these days. Giving it to you is probably a good investment."

"But... Elone, I don't know how to use a sword," I pointed out.

"Which end would you stick into whatever's trying to kill you?" she called back from where she was rummaging through a chest.

Was this a trick question. "The... pointy one?"

"Wonderful! See, you already know how to use a sword better than some Imperial Legion recruits." Seeing the quality of their officers, I honestly wasn't all that surprised. "And 'the sharp bit goes into the enemy' is just about the most important thing to know when you're looking at a charging nix-hound or alit. Here, how's this?"

She pressed a sword into my arms, which sagged immediately. I pondered who on earth had come up with the idea of calling this thing a 'short-sword', as I had no idea what was meant to be so short about it. I could barely lift the thing.

"Well," Elone said, "I'm sure you'll get used to the weight in time."

I wasn't convinced. "Look, Elone... I owe you a lot, for the food, for the advice, for... er... keeping quiet about certain things which the Imperial authorities really don't need to know." I gave her my best smile. "But honestly, I'm no good with weapons. I'd probably stab myself by accident instead. And I know a Destruction spell now," I held my hand up and let flames play around it. "That'll probably be more useful in a pinch than a weapon I can barely lift. So thank you, but..."

Elone's brow furrowed. "I take your meaning, but... how about this. I'll probably be here for another half an hour, gathering up some things before I go back out to search for Processus. If, during that time, you redecide, just come back here and I'll give the sword to you."

I smiled at Elone. "I'll do that. And honestly, thank you for everything. I don't know why you're spending so much time on me..."

"Let's just say I have a suspicion you might just become a productive citizen if you don't get yourself killed first. Now, off you get." She smirked. "See you in five minutes."

It took ten.

*****

Next

This post has been edited by Kazaera: Jul 11 2013, 02:23 PM


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haute ecole rider
post Aug 8 2011, 08:45 PM
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Hey! I wanna know why it took Adryn ten whole minutes to come back! I hope that's in the next post!

Loved the rich leavening of sarcasm throughout. It really sets the tone for Adryn - I can soooo hear her asides in my mind's eye. I believe that's called breaking the third wall, and you do it quite well.

Keep it up! No need to post every other day, y'know. Just once or twice a week will be fine. That might be easier to maintain in the face of real life, which has a nasty habit of breaking any good writing habits we try to cultivate. wink.gif


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Kazaera
post Aug 10 2011, 11:16 PM
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@Haute - you'll see in this post! She would've been back earlier if she could, you know. *g*

Breaking the fourth wall? Huh. I hadn't thought of it that way, but I guess that is what she's doing! She does seem to be narrating for an audience in some places; I've thought about this a number of times and figure that this is sort of the journal Adryn would be keeping if she had time, energy, desire, and a perfect memory - hence speaking to the reader but not actually having any audience in mind. (I started off using the "she's recounting this many years after the fact" trope but in that case she'd be narrating it very, very differently, so that didn't work.)

And re: posting intervals... I've actually been wracking my brain about this for the last few days since you brought it up and debating pros and cons.

The thing is - for one thing, I do actually have a pretty big backlog of material. (About three chapters in over 30k words, I think.) So even though I'm not currently writing fast enough to keep up I could still post quite a bit before I need to slow down. For another... the problem is I can't actually settle down for the long haul because of the way my interest patterns work. (Roughly: like a magpie on amphetamines with chronic amnesia.) Chances are that in a month or two something else will have forced itself into the foreground and I'll be gone because my mind is totally fixated on something else. This really sucks and has caused me no end of frustration over the years, but I've come to accept that this is just the way my brain works - flares of extremely intense interest that slowly die down and become replaced by a different one. If this time is the exception that would be *amazing*, but I'm not betting on it. So honestly, I sort of want to be able to unload a reasonable amount of what I've got before the switch hits and I'm gone to only reappear six months to a year later (I generally hit Morrowind as an interest about 1-2 times a year, so you *will* see me again!)

So unless there's a reason you think it's worse from the reader's side of things I think I'd prefer to stick with every other day for the time being, although they may be a bit shorter than my earlier ones.

Previous

*****

Elone was kind enough not to say "I told you so" out loud when I knocked on her door, but her face more than made up for that courtesy. My face burned. I truly hate to admit being wrong, but... they had rats.

I can already imagine the cat-calls – "Oh, don't tell me you're scared of rats." Well, ordinarily I'm not. But I'm not talking about your average household rat here. I am talking about giant rats. Monster rats. Rats like you've never seen them before. The thing came up past my knees! Its fangs were several inches long! Destruction spells aren't much use if by the time you're close enough to use them you'd have already lost that hand to a monstrous beast cleverly disguised as a rodent. I'm lucky it couldn't climb trees, or else I might not be here today.

I decided I'd stay close to Seyda Neen for the time being. Just in case.

Several hours and an interminable amount of mud, insects, and insect bites later, I'd managed to avoid any further encounters with the Evil Rats of Doom (as I'd dubbed them) but had run into several crabs of similar size - I suspected they were the source of the soup I'd had for lunch. Luckily, they were slow enough that even with a really-not-short-sword at my side I could easily get a good distance away and wait for them to calm down. I was wondering again if taking that had really been such a good idea - after all, "the pointy end goes in the enemy" is all well and good but hard to manage if you can't even hold the point steady. I supposed that I could always use it as bandit-repellent; I'd be much less likely to be attacked if they erronously believed I could lift a sword without being a danger to myself.

At any rate – what was wrong with this country? Rats and crabs are supposed to be around the length of my forearm, tops. Maybe it was something in the water? A kind of magical algae, perhaps, that made all the creatures grow to monstrous sizes? But then again, wouldn't the people be just as big? A mystery indeed.

Crabs weren't the only thing I'd encountered, as it seemed Elone had been telling the truth about more than just the wildlife. I'd found no less than four types of mushroom, one type of fern and one type of flower in the swamps near the town. I didn't recognise any of them and none looked even remotely edible, two downright poisonous. However, some experimenting proved that the glowing purplish mushrooms combined with the buds of the flower, ground to a powder and mixed with water, created a bitter substance that enabled one to walk on water for short periods of time.

I didn't feel like testing just how short; I'd seen some fish in the water and they looked just as overgrown as every other creature on this island. And hungry. Very hungry. And let's not forget their big sharp teeth, shall we?

Returning to Seyda Neen, I noticed a door in a rock nearby and an inscription engraved above it. Nearing it, I could make out that the letters read "Addamasartus" - the name of a cave, perhaps? More importantly, I could make out footprints in the marshy ground. Someone had been here, and not all that long ago.

I had no idea who might live in such a place. Maybe some more inhabitants of Seyda Neen who hadn't found housing in the town itself. Maybe caves passed for expensive housing here (I could almost believe it after the shacks I'd seen in Seyda Neen). But perhaps it was someone far more dangerous. I told myself I'd really done enough on impulse today and, despite curiosity, gave the cave a wide berth as I returned to Arrille's Tradehouse.

Arrille seemed happily surprised to see I was still alive, although the "happy" part didn't change his ruthless style a whit. It took some hard bargaining, but he gave me fifteen drakes apiece for my homemade potions, more than I was expecting; I suspected he'd agreed just to get me out of the place, as I was dripping swamp all over his floor. Not that I was going to complain. Furthermore, the flowers (called 'coda flowers', according to Arrille) were apparently quite valuable, as they had a levitating effect when chewed (I made a mental note: Substances that give levitation are valuable. Exploit this). Even after haggling myself a set of proper ingredient vials and a decent pack, my "legal" purse was once again heavy as I left the tradehouse.

I considered staying near Seyda Neen for a bit, learning about the area and earning a bit of gold through alchemy, but I really didn't plan to stick around until Arrille set his plan into motion. From what I'd seen of Hrisskar Flat-foot I suspected that if he found out who had set him up, I wouldn't get away with my head intact. Besides, although it was tempting to disappear into the wilds with the package bound for Balmora with me I knew it would be a very bad idea. Imperials tend to get cranky when their mail gets delayed or mislaid. No, the best thing to do would be to deliver the package without any further side trips and then make myself scarce. I was sure the recipient wouldn't keep me around; after all, I was hardly anyone special. Just your average thief trying to turn over a new leaf; there was really nothing more the Legion could want of me, was there?

I ignored the nagging doubts about this, which were whispering things like "Emperor's personal orders" and "shipped all the way to Morrowind" and, of course, "release fee", hardened my resolve and stepped onto the road headed for Balmora.

Gravius had mentioned a 'silt strider' travel service that could take you to Balmora. I didn't mean to use it – for one, although I had some spare money now, I wanted to make that last for a while; for another, I was distinctly unsure about how safe giant bugs were as travelling devices.

On the other hand, it was getting dark. And...

I heard a squeaking noise from further along the path, and red, beady eyes gleamed at me out of the darkness.

I took the silt strider.

*****

Next

This post has been edited by Kazaera: Jul 11 2013, 02:25 PM


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haute ecole rider
post Aug 11 2011, 12:48 AM
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Tell me about the backlog! I wrote the first 20 or so chapters of Julian's story in three months, then spent the next six months posting every other day! And I kept writing! Right now I have about a month's worth of posts already written (at my current posting pace of Mondays and Thursdays). So if you've got a backlog, by all means go every other day (or three times a week). Keep in mind that not everyone can keep up with that kind of a pace, so from the reader's perspective less frequent posting is better.

Okay, now on to your current post. I had to bust out laughing at Adryn's comments about the size of the creatures in Morrowind. I think it's the Blight. Just what is the Blight? I suspect it's some kind of spore that affects creatures (and humans and mer) differently depending on the sort of DNA one possesses. That would explain why Dunmer (and other mer and men and tailed folk) are normal sized in the game, but the creatures - ARE. NOT. Nah, just my overactive scientific mind seeking explanations for some of the weird stuff I've seen trying to play Morrowind on XBox 360.

After all the discussion about 'exploiting the game' I've seen on the forums, this cracked me up as well:
QUOTE
(I made a mental note: Substances that give levitation are valuable. Exploit this)
laugh.gif

QUOTE
I was sure the recipient wouldn't keep me around; after all, I was hardly anyone special. Just your average thief trying to turn over a new leaf; there was really nothing more the Legion could want of me, was there?
Famous last words!


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treydog
post Aug 11 2011, 01:37 AM
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First- the greatest hits. Well- no. Actually, that would be the entire post.... So- a brief set of the highlights then:

QUOTE
I'd almost have called Legionnaire hardtack delicious at that point - but I figured it was more diplomatic not to point that out.


It takes SERIOUS starvation to make that stuff look edible.

QUOTE
”…Girl," seriously, two syllables, what is so difficult about this,


I think it is some kind of Illusion magic that clings to Adryn. It clouds people's minds so they cannot remember her name.

QUOTE
They'll ask for my portrait to put next to 'adventurer' in the Imperial Dictionary any day now, I'm just waiting for the letter.


QUOTE
"Which end would you stick into whatever's trying to kill you?" she called back from where she was rummaging through a chest.

Was this a trick question. "The... pointy one?"


Congratulations- that qualifies Adryn to be a corporal!

QUOTE
I truly hate to admit being wrong, but... they had rats.


QUOTE
”…for another, I was distinctly unsure about how safe giant bugs were as travelling devices.”


Trey agrees completely. Although, he also has to admit that the choice between a giant flea that MIGHT eat you, as opposed to a giant rat that WILL- is difficult.

I would incline toward advising you to post less frequently- because I am already so far behind on all my reading. But... if it is a choice between having to catch up or not having this story at all... no contest. Post away and I will dogfully deal with the time needed to read.


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Kazaera
post Aug 12 2011, 11:42 PM
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Hmm. This is tricky because I also don't want to overwhelm my readers. :/ I might move onto a somewhat slower posting schedule - 2-3 times a week, maybe - but for now I want to get chapter 1 finished!

@haute - the Blight, huh? Definitely possible! Although I guess my question would be whether we can really assume that the animals have only recently gained in size, since the Blight hasn't been around that long. For instance, given that guars seem to be a traditional herd and pack animal one can probably assume they've been that big for a while! (Although this, of course, raises the question of what guars are herded *for*, since you can't find guar meat in the game. :/ The only guar product that seems to be around is hide, which I'm not sure justifies the guar as one of the only herd animals - netches being the other one, and *they* only seem to produce leather... I'm overthinking this, aren't I.)

And I am probably going to have to take steps to make sure Adryn doesn't end up ridiculously rich through alchemy, since that is SO easy to do in-game. wink.gif I always wonder at the guides that tell you to go pick up X item from Y heavily-guarded shrine - look, you can make an infinite amount of money standing next to Ajira...

@treydog - ha, Illusion magic! That might just be it - I should nudge Adryn towards a Dispel spell, huh. XD And indeed, evil rat of doom or OH GOD THAT FLEA IS AS BIG AS A HOUSE, I suspect a lot of characters would like to take option c) swim back to mainland at that point... (also, introducing newcomers to silt striders must be some sort of Morrowind hazing ritual. I can already see the residents of Seyda Neen all collapsing laughing every time another newcomer goes "please tell me that's a hallucination.") And I might slow down my posting, especially because both of my readers have said that it'd be better for them. *ponderponder*

Previous

*****

It was actually much better than I was expecting. Some clever mer had hollowed out the shell on top of the beast and installed seats, meaning that passengers could ride in relative comfort, and it moved with a gentle swaying motion that was vaguely reminiscent of the ship I'd arrived in. Other people might find the gait nauseating, but my stomach remained quiet... at least, as long as I didn't look too closely at exactly how the beast was steered. There are things I never wanted to know about giant flea anatomy.

I was the only passenger but the silt strider operator, Darvame Hleran, was friendly and we whiled the time away chatting – she said she was glad for the company, as she usually transported Legion members newly off the ship from Cyrodiil to Fort Moonmoth in Balmora or, lately, Fort Buckmoth further north, near Gnisis. The moue of distaste she made speaking of the Legion made me like her quite a bit more.

Darvame also gave me what was undoubtedly the single most important piece of advice I received that day, and I'd received many.

I'd mentioned that I had never been to Morrowind before and could probably count the number of other dark elves I'd met on one hand. Surprisingly, a flash of anger crossed her features, then she sighed.

"Don't say dark elf. Say Dunmer," she told me.

I blinked, puzzled. "The old word?"

"The only word," she stressed. "Dark elf is an insult. Not quite as bad a one since you're Dunmer as well, but bad enough. And you're an outlander. No need to make people even more angry with you."

As said, the most important advice I received. Of course, Elone had been immeasurably helpful but all that wouldn't be worth anything if I accidentally gave mortal insult to a local as soon as I got into Balmora and got myself killed.

In retrospect, it should have been obvious – we say Altmer and Bosmer, so why not Dunmer? But I'd spent my life being called a dark elf, with capital letters if people wanted to be polite, it never even ocurred to me that this might qualify as an insult.

Even apart from the conversation, the ride was pleasant. We were up high enough that I had a lovely view of the surrounding countryside – swamps giving way to fields and hills, covered in flora that I was just itching to inspect, an Imperial outpost in the distance I'd make sure to avoid. Then, from one step to another, the green hillsides gave way to the grey, ashy wastes of the Foyada Mamaea, as Darvame called it.

Now, after my complaining about swamps, midges, armour, crabs, E.R.Ds, Imperial outposts and other such annoyances, one might believe I didn't like Vvardenfell, and that my first sight of the barren ashes that apparently covered much of this island would only reinforce that opinion. It was true that up till then I had been getting steadily less fond of Vvardenfell, and was seriously contemplating getting off it as soon as possible; even the fact that Morrowind was undoubtedly my ancestral home (unless anyone finds Dunmer in, say, Akavir) and that I might be able to make money from my alchemy hadn't managed to change my impression of the island. However, at my first sight of the Foyada Mamaea all that changed.

It turned out that I had left at exactly the right time. Usually, Darvame told me, the volcanic regions were an ugly grey, the monotony only broken by the occasional trama shrub, scathecraw or fireflower – none of them particular aesthetically pleasing either. Adding in the dangerous wildlife (remembering the E.R.Ds, I was tempted to ask "more dangerous than the wildlife in the swamps?" but thought better of it) it was hardly the most pleasant region of Vvardenfell. But all that changed for a brief time every day and when the silt-strider's footsteps stirred up the ashes of the Foyada Mamaea, the setting sun turned them into glittering diamond dust floating in the air.

The sight was breathtaking, the grey wastes turning gold in the sunlight. It only lasted a short while, but after it was over my eyes seemed to have changed. Rather than the drab ugliness Darvame had described, I saw austere beauty in the grey slopes, the ash whirling in the air, the few struggling plants-

Suddenly, neither this island nor the idea of spending a long time - possibly the rest of my life - here seemed as dreadful. Even if I still thought someone should come up with an extermination program to deal with the rats.

We didn't spend long in the ash-wastes – I discovered the Foyada Mamaea was apparently bordered by green lands on both sides, and decided to try and find a map as soon as I could. So the grey country quickly gave way to green fields again, although the air had a marshy tang more reminiscent of the swamp-lands I'd explored than the lands we'd travelled through. Nevertheless I saw it with new eyes, ignoring the midges and muck in favour of the lush greens, the blossoms, the smell of growing things overlaying the acrid sting of the swamp.

We reached Balmora just past sunset.

After bidding farewell to Darvame and getting off the silt strider, I stopped and stared for a while. Unlike the village of Seyda Neen, Balmora was a proper-sized town, and one built in what seemed to be the local style at that. Rather than the wood-stone-and-thatch I was accustomed to, the buildings were made out what I guessed to be daub. They were oddly rounded, looking almost slightly organic, and with flat roofs easily accessible by stairs – which I decided was a clever idea in the balmy climate. It was dark, but the city was well-lit by torches, lanterns, candles and mage-lights; by their light, I could see that the city was still alive despite the hour – people strolled down the streets or reclined on the roofs of their houses, chatting. Most of the shops still seemed to be open, their services announced by flapping banners with symbols and Daedric wordings. A similar banner stood at the gate of the town, saying simply "Balmora". I touched it as I went by.

There were a number of traders near the town gate, but I ignored them; time enough for all that tomorrow, after I'd dropped off the package. Instead, I accosted a Nord passerby for directions to the nearest inn.

She looked at me disdainfully and I winced, uncomfortably aware of the sight I must cut – rough, ill-fitting prison clothing, torn and stained with swamp-muck and ash, red, greasy hair in complete disarray, my face smudged with dirt, a worn iron sword awkwardly sheathed at my side...

"Try the Eight Plates, straight ahead past the Mages' Guild. Or better the South Wall Cornerclub on the other side of the river, they cater to your kind."

Although I was loath to spend more money than I needed to on accomodations – already I was richer than I'd been in a long time and found that I quite liked that state of affairs – the sniff that accompanied the comment of "your kind" decided me. I thanked the Nord politely and set off towards the Eight Plates. (Let no one say that I am not contrary to the point of absolute idiocy.)

The Eight Plates turned out to be an upper-class establishment on the far side of town; the looks its patrons gave me as I entered almost enough to make me forget my bravado and flee back outside again. In the end, it was sheer exhaustion that compelled me forward; I didn't think I'd be able to make it to the bridge, let alone the other side of the river, without collapsing.

The proprietess looked aghast as I approached her. "Now look here, this is a good establishment and we don't serve- ah." She quieted as I hefted my full purse and turned positively friendly once I slid her a few coins.

"My pardon," I murmured, trying to sound like a useless dimwit with more money than- I mean, a noble. "I have been travelling for some days now and seek accomodation for the night."

Either my attempt at an upper-class accent was not a complete failure or the promise of money had mellowed her more than I had hoped; not only did the woman agree to rent me one of her better rooms, but also offered to run me a bath and give me supper despite the late hour. Needless to say, I accepted gladly.

The bath was just the right temperature, deep, long enough to lie down in... in short, perfect after a long day of digging up mushrooms, running from E.R.D.s and dealing with bureaucrats (I think it is obvious which of those three was most exhausting). Too perfect, actually; after scrubbing myself repeatedly and lathering my hair, I dozed off and only woke up when I tried to breathe water. Bathing when tired is a perilous business, one best attempted with either cold water, iron self-control or a ring of water-breathing.

After a great deal of choking and spluttering, some sad looks at my change of clothes (although protected from the ravages of the journey in my pack, they were just as rough and ill-fitting as the others) and a vain attempt to tame my hair, I descended into the common room.

I was informed that supper was a soup of marshmerrow, saltrice and roobrush, followed with fried nix-hound meat and kwama eggs, and decided it was probably better not to ask what any of these things were. When the meal came, the only thing I recognised was the bread on the side – but it didn't matter anyway, as I was so focused on not falling asleep in my soup I didn't even register the taste. I finished quickly, as the noise from the other patrons was making my head hurt, bade goodnight to the landlady and stumbled up the stairs again.

My room was situated on the second floor, with a lovely view over the river, a night-stand and desk and – most importantly – a large, soft-looking bed. I let myself fall on that last and was out before my head even hit the pillow.

*****

Here ends Chapter 1.

...look, look, it only took me fifteen thousand words to get Adryn to Balmora!

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This post has been edited by Kazaera: Jun 22 2013, 02:47 PM


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haute ecole rider
post Aug 13 2011, 12:13 AM
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I see that Adryn is capable of finding beauty in the most unlikely places (though luck may have had to do with her timing). Sounds like the Foyada is an enchanting place indeed.

I loved her description of the ERD's - Enormous Rats of Doom! laugh.gif

And I see that she is in for quite the education about Dunmer vs. Dark Elves. I myself prefer Dunmer, Bosmer, Altmer, etc to the more mundane English terms. Better to call the natives by the term they call themselves! Or else she might find herself run out of town as an outlander! The level of prejudice in Morrowind is pretty high compared to what I'm used to in Cyrodiil. Ah well. At least Adryn is a Dunmer herself - that's her one saving grace. That and her dislike of anything Legion, which seems to be shared by the locals. Gee, I wonder why . . . Oh, that's right. Julian never served there! wink.gif


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Kazaera
post Aug 15 2011, 07:23 PM
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@Haute - yep, Adryn was very lucky! Although part of it was that I actually like the Ashlands region in game - true, it's not exactly beautiful, but there's something haunting about it - and wanted to have a character share that.

Adryn is still of the opinion that rats should NOT grow to that size oh god what is WRONG with your country. wink.gif

And yeah, Adryn's going to have some adapting to do - being a Dunmer outlander in Morrowind can be very much not fun, and she's going to get blindsided by the level of prejudice of varying types. sad.gif Also, I think if the Legionnaires Adryn met had been like Julian she'd a) have more respect for the Legion, even if grudgingly and cool.gif be terrified to badmouth it out loud in case they somehow heard...

Chapter 2: 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6, 2.7, 2.8

Previous

Chapter 2, part a

*****

I woke when it was barely dawn, and groaned when I tried to sit up. Every muscle in my body seemed to be screaming – and no wonder, I thought ruefully, when one considered yesterday's exertion in light of the time in prison. I was sore, bruised and terribly exhausted, and simply going back to sleep seemed very, very inviting.

Except, of course, for the dream.

Even so soon after waking my memory of it was confused and broken, but I remembered enough. It had been... not quite the same dream as yesterday. The voice was gone, for which I was deeply thankful. But the changes – those had been the same. No, not the same-

Stronger.

I shuddered, remembering the feel of my body shifting in ways it had never been meant to, the sound of bones creaking under the immense strain, the sight of grey-golden skin...

This time I ignored my muscles and forced myself up and out of bed. There was a mirror hanging on the opposite wall. It reflected a dark el- a Dunmer (thinking of myself that way would take some getting used to), gaunt from prison, with bleary red eyes and hair the same shade going every which way. In short, just as always, and I let out a sigh of relief. It wasn't that I'd been expecting to see... someone else... but the dream had seemed so real...

"That's enough of that," I told my reflection, and busied myself with trying to bring my hair into some kind of order. Given that I didn't have a brush or comb it was a futile endeavour, but it did get my mind off the odd recurrent nightmare.

When I was satisfied I'd done all I could, I sat back down on the bed. It was very early and I was still bone-tired, but sleep was out of the question. Perhaps I'd go down and see if anyone else was up yet. I decided to leave my pack in my room, but take my purse with me. I didn't want to look as if I were sneaking out without paying, but I didn't trust the security in this place enough to leave my money unguarded. (Frankly, if any thief wanted to take Elone's short-sword they were welcome to it. And I wouldn't grieve over-much for the Imperial package, either.)

To my surprise, the proprietress was not just up but was already making breakfast. She exclaimed when she saw me and bustled me to a chair. Thinking back to the mirror upstairs, I had to agree that I looked dreadful.

"Bad night," I told her weakly when she asked why I wasn't still in bed, I certainly looked as if I needed the rest, poor dear. (I wasn't quite sure how I'd made it from "poverty-stricken scum that shouldn't set foot in my guest-house" to "poor dear" in one night, but decided not to ask.)

"Dreams?" she asked, sounding unsurprised.

Off-balance, I nodded. "Well... yes. How did you guess?"

She clucked. "It's been going around. More and more people have been having strange dreams. The soul-sickness, they call it. Feldrelo Sadri, our main priest at the Temple, is at her wits' end – or so I hear."

"This is common?" I found myself startled. Of all the things I'd expected to hear, that hadn't been it. How could nightmares be 'going around'? 'Soul-sickness' indeed, it wasn't as if they were a common illness! Or contagious!

And besides, the dreams had seemed so oddly... special, personal, tailored to me and me only. Dozens of strangers having ones like it, the voice speaking to them just as it had to me, just felt... wrong. And wasn't that a nice bit of arrogance or more probably stupidity right there, given that I didn't want the dreams to begin with?

The other woman was talking. "Not common, precisely. But growing, growing. And what's worse, the people affected, some of them start acting... strange. Not themselves. Saying odd things. And sometimes, sometimes-" her voice was now barely above a whisper, "the ones it takes very badly, sometimes they just get up and walk away. And no one ever sees them again."

Something clattered outside. I jumped, the spell broken.

"I hope you'll excuse me if that doesn't exactly make me feel any better," I said weakly.

Her mouth opened in horror. I suspected she'd been so caught up in her tale that she forgot she wasn't telling ghost-stories to passersby, but rather speaking to someone who was having the dreams herself. "Oh no, dear! I'm sure you're perfectly safe. It never takes outlanders as badly as the natives. In fact," she grew thoughtful, "I think you're the first I've ever heard of..."

"Mm," I muttered noncommittally. I didn't bother to point out that if I was the first outlander she knew of who'd ever had this 'soul-sickness', she wouldn't very well know whether they had more or less problems than the natives. For all she knew, the reason no outlanders ever reported odd dreams was because they succumbed to... whatever it was... almost immediately.

All this was unimportant, of course, as I certainly wasn't going to succumb to anything. Especially not dreams! I mean, I decided a long time ago that when I die it had better involve the gates of Oblivion themselves opening or something else appropriately dramatic. Nightmares simply do not measure up.

Suddenly, a mug of steaming dark liquid was placed before my nose. "Drink this, dear," the woman said kindly. "It'll wake you up while I finish breakfast."

I blame the lack of sleep; I didn't study the drink at all, didn't note its precise colour or viscosity, didn't so much as sniff it before taking a sip. Me, who calls herself an alchemist. The shame will follow me to my dying day.

The liquid was very hot, and very bitter. I, of course, did not mind – regarding the first, it takes a lot more than hot tea to burn any Dunmer's tongue; as for the second, I am, as mentioned, an alchemist. You would not believe the things I have voluntarily ingested. 'Bitter' is harmless.

More to the point, I could already feel the liquid clearing up the fog in my mind. It was more a restorative than a stimulant, I judged, meaning that the effect would be lasting instead of sending me crashing down once it wore off.

"This is excellent," I said. "What's in it?"

The other woman didn't turn around from the hearth, but I could almost hear the smirk in her voice. "Secret recipe."

I, of course, took this as a challenge.

I took another sip and tried to sort through the flavour. Bitter, of course. But there was a subtle, smoky undertone. Hmm. Bitter with a smoky undertone, a restorative but not a stimulant, what kind of ingredient would produce that effect?

Then I realised that of all the growing things in this country, I could recognise all of five by taste. And two of them were poisonous mushrooms..

...Perhaps it would be better to answer this challenge at a later date.

"Food's done!"

On cue, my stomach gave a loud growl, and I decided to focus on more mundane things for the next while.

*****

I lingered over the breakfast of kwama eggs – apparently a staple of Morrowind diet, although this time they were boiled rather than fried – and bread with scrib jelly, chatting with Dulnea Ralaal (as it turned out the publican was called.) She was able to tell me a lot of things about the city. Most of it was left as undigested lumps of information in my head – I simply didn't know enough about this land to know, for instance, what being "the main Hlaalu city in Vvardenfell, although none of the Councilors make their home here" entailed – but some of it was very helpful. I now knew, for instance, that there were both a Mages' and a Fighters' Guild in town, that outside of the guilds there were numerous traders and pawnbrokers, an armourer, a bookseller as well as an alchemist (my ears perked) and a clothier offering services on this side of the river. Apparently, the other side was the slums. Well, she didn't say "slums" but as her description was much longer and much less flattering, I try to summarise.

Unfortunately, she wasn't able to tell me where to find Caius Cosades. "But if I haven't heard of him," she said thoughtfully, "he can't live westside. You might try asking at the South Wall Cornerclub, I've heard that's where those people spend their time."

The South Wall Cornerclub – that was where that Nord had wanted to send me yesterday. I sighed inwardly; so much for stiff-necked pride. If I'd gone there yesterday, I might have found Cosades right away.

Dulnea wondered why I was looking for what was undoubtedly a "dull-witted layabout, too lazy to do an honest day's work. And probably addicted to some horrible substance on top of it all." I told her I was running an errand, delivering a package from Seyda Neen, although I did my best to make her believe this was more of an ordinary mail run. "He must be an Imperial by the name," I said, "maybe he has family back in Cyrodiil or something who want to stay in contact. I wouldn't have taken the job but, well, I've fallen on hard times recently..."

All true, of course, but rather misleading – I wanted to keep the full story for myself until I knew either exactly what was going on or that it had absolutely nothing to do with me (the latter, preferably). Luckily, Dulnea didn't seem to catch the deception.

Instead, she clucked over said hard times, how skinny I was, how it was terrible that someone such as me was running errands for a person like this Cosades and, of course, how I absolutely had to stop by her friend Millie and get better clothes as soon as I could. I nodded in the appropriate places and wondered again how I'd managed to rise in Dulnea's estimation. If I could only figure out why the change, I might be able to pick up a new trick for my Making People Not Hate Adryn arsenal. It needed all the help it could get, after all.

At that point, the first other overnight guests started making their way downstairs, yawning hugely. Dulnea quickly had her hands full and since I didn't want to make a bother of myself, I paid as soon as I could and made myself scarce.

*****

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This post has been edited by Kazaera: Jun 22 2013, 02:52 PM


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Kazaera
post Aug 18 2011, 06:32 PM
Post #59


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...so is anyone still reading this? huh.gif

Last installment, Adryn had a nightmare, learned that this was both common and a terrifying symptom associated with people vanishing, and had breakfast. smile.gif She was also told to ask for Caius at the South Wall Cornerclub, and is now off to find him - except that her search runs into obstacles...

Chapter 2, part b

*****

By now, the city of Balmora was waking up. Some of the shops were already open, and I spied several people waiting impatiently beside ones that weren't. A group of children – mostly Dunmer, but I saw several from the human races as well as one Orc and one Khajiit – were playing tag in the street, occasionally tripping up a passing guard in the process. Their laughter mixed with the sound of clangs and thuds coming from the lower doorway of the Fighters' Guild; clearly someone was already training. The Mages' Guild, on the other hand, was entirely silent and the door was still closed. Apparently they liked to sleep in.

On the east side of the river, things looked very different. The buildings were smaller and more run-down and the streets dirtier - I had to pick my path carefully if I didn't want to step straight into something that I never wanted that close to my skin. The people wore simple, ragged clothes, and I could spot several who looked to be homeless. What I couldn't spot, however, were guards.

Now, this would be the part where some rich person would probably run away or act as if they were surrounded by hungry wolves. I, however, relaxed. This sort of area was more familiar to me and somewhere I fitted in much better than the nice clean guard-ridden streets with fancy shops and manor houses of the west side - and honestly, I'd take pickpockets and beggars over guards every day! After all - and this is something we all work to keep away from the rich - the easiest way to get through this sort of area without a fuss is to look as though you know what you're doing and not look as though you have anything worth stealing. With my rough clothes and purse tucked out of sight inside my shirt, I fulfilled both conditions beautifully. Guards, on the other hand, are a plague on Nirn.

So I made it to the South Wall Cornerclub unmolested, with most people not giving me a second glance. It was quite noticeable that near the South Wall, the people looked more... purposeful. It wasn't anything overt, they looked just as poor as any other person living this side of the river, but there was something about them and the way they moved, something familiar...

Warning bells were going off in my head, but I couldn't quite pin down what it was.

Inside the South Wall, it was surprisingly busy; there were a few people coming and going and I could hear a great deal of conversation and activity downstairs. I blinked in surprise. I'd actually expected that no one would be up yet and I'd have to come back later. This bustle was... odd. Odder was that apparently – judging by the snippets of conversation I caught here and there – most of the people here were just 'finishing up business' before heading home and to bed.

Very nocturnal business, apparently.

The warning bells were very loud now. In just a moment, I'd-

"'Scuse me, are you Guild?"

I stared at the Nord girl who'd spoken, mind whirling. Of course. Of course, it had been so obvious, all the signs had been there, how could I have been so unbelievably stupid.

Thieves' Guild!

Clearly, my mouth was smarter than my brain; even as the latter was busy with self-recrimination, the former was working at getting me out of this situation.

"Guild? But this isn't a guild, I mean the Mages' and Fighters' Guilds are on the other side of town." I affected an expression of honest confusion. "I'm not a member of anything, I'm just looking for a person – have a package to deliver-" I hefted my pack. Harmless errand-runner, that's me. "Someone told me I should ask here."

Apparently my act of ignorance had worked. "No, of course we're not a guild of anything, we just, uh, have special discounts for, um, Mages' Guild members sometimes! Um, who are you looking for?"

"Caius Cosades," I told her, heart rate finally slowing down. Clumsy fool, that girl. First she just asked like that. After all, there were signs. Codes. Ways to make delicate inquiries such as that one without immediately arousing the suspicion of any innocent passerby. And the way she tried to backtrack... well, the less said of that the better! Why, if I were her-

Don't go down that line of thought, Adryn. You know where it leads.

"Never heard of him. You could ask Bacola Closcius, he owns this place. He knows a lot of people."

I could ask him, yes. Of course, what I really wanted to do was start running now, never come near here again, and figure out something else (such as knocking on every door in Balmora, or throwing the damn package in the river and being done with it.) Unfortunately I couldn't think of a good excuse for leaving now, and appearing suspicious was a very bad idea. So asking him it was - and sending up a prayer to Stendarr that I wouldn't be noticed by anyone else. "That sounds like a good idea," I lied. "So where can I find him?"

"Oh, right." She blushed. "His office is upstairs."

I thanked her and made my way upstairs, trying not to look as if I was running. Apparently, some small measure of luck was with me after all; judging by where all the noise was coming from, Guild business seemed to be downstairs rather than upstairs. This made avoiding them easy and meant that Closcius was probably a front for the Guild rather than an active member or – Stendarr forbid – the Mastermind of this town.

I was in even more luck – Closcius was engrossed in what looked like an account book and didn't seem to be very interested in me. He reminded me of Sellus Gravius, in a way – elderly Imperial, probably very smart and very dangerous but with his mind someplace else. (I wasn't complaining about that last part.) He didn't even ask me why I was looking for Cosades, just absently gave me directions to the man's house and then ignored me entirely. I think he'd forgotten my existence before I even left the room.

I nodded to the Nord girl as I left the building, turned a corner and collapsed against the wall.

That had been close. That had been much too close, and I silently cursed Gravius for suggesting I "ask around" in town, and Dulnea for telling me to ask here of all places. And I hadn't got away with it yet – if the Nord girl told the Mastermind about the odd messenger who'd wandered in, if they were in contact with the Skyrim guilds... I hadn't given my name, but it wasn't as if I were particularly inconspicuous...

Then it hit me, and I almost laughed out loud.

I was inconspicuous. For once in my life, I blended in with the crowd perfectly. I was a Dunmer in a land full of Dunmer. The only thing about me that was even remotely unusual was my hair colour, a coppery orange-red, and even there I'd seen another person with the exact same shade on the street.

I was safe.

"Oi, this's my spot! Y'can't sleep here!" A foot prodded my side, none too gently.

...well, safe in a general sense.

I apologised to the surly-looking local, dodged a second kick and got out of there. I'd run this gauntlet; now it was time to find Cosades.

*****

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This post has been edited by Kazaera: Jun 22 2013, 02:53 PM


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haute ecole rider
post Aug 18 2011, 09:13 PM
Post #60


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Oh, don't worry! I'm still reading!

Keep up with the posting, I'm enjoying this story immensely. I do apologize for being remiss in my commenting (here and elsewhere) because I've been very busy with school and troubleshooting recalcitrant computers and et al.

I really enjoyed Adryn trying to figure out why Dulnea is treating her so nicely compared to how she had been treated previously. Then in the next post it hits her - she's a Dunmer in a land of Dunmer!! Facepalm time!

That was a close call indeed with the Thieves Guild!


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