(I do not own morrowind or any of the related material.)
This story was partly inspired by Merlacs tale.
As I sit here, with my quill just above the page, leaking a drop of ink onto the paper the first thing that at once comes to mind how long it's actually been and how I'm going to need a lot more paper to write it all down.
I feel like some old adventurer at the back of some dingy tavern, telling his old stories to whomever passes by, but finds himself largely ignored. The prospect horrifies me, but still I find myself disliking the prospect of my adventures going unrecorded even less.
And so I take up the quill and start writing. I ask the reader to be patient with me as the delicate business of scribing is not one of my talents and so please do forgive me if mistakes are noted or clumsily corrected. Perhaps I may improve my form as I write.
Which story to tell? Ah yes, the very adventure that lead to me exploring Tamerial in the first place. The adventure in the city of Mournhold, where I faced one of the Tribunal gods in battle. If the reader of this story happens to be a temple going Dumner then I suggest that you discontinue reading.
Let me start from the beginning. The adventure began, I suppose, on the Imperial distinct of Vvardenfell, in the fort like town of Ebonheart on the south west coast. Vvardenfell was the island mainland in the region known as Morrowind, expanding slightly to the mainland. This is the native land of the Dumner, or Dark Elves as their known in Imperial society.
After competing in a swordsmanship tournament in Vivec, I was on my way to a small tavern there called the Six fishes to indulge myself in my favourite pass time, drinking Flin and Greef.
Sorry, how rude of my not to introduce myself. I am Dai-Sona, a high Elf of no rank or consequence. I believe the letter that came with my release from the Imperial cities prison. I never did see much of Cyrodiil, expect the inside of a prison dungeon that is. What may I do for a living you ask? Various things for various Guilds now and then, for money of course but most of my time is devoted to treasure hunting. I sit around in bars for a while and wait for rumours of riches of float around, then go off and see if they're true. I'm a bit of a rouge, I'm forced to admit. I've stolen before, when it suits me. Murdered a few people too, but it doesn't play too much on my conscience. Most of the killing was done in self defence, but I the stress (most of) part.
I like to think myself a handsome sort for my race, tall erect ears, sharp protruding chin, Dark blue eyes set into my pale yellow face. My hair, pale cream and long, tied back into a bun behind my head by a red band. I was dressed at the time, pretty much as always in my favourite type of armour, with which I have the most skill, Glass armour. I got this particular set by….liberating it….from the Hlaalu vaults. Those brain-dead Ordinators still don't know it was me!
An Imperial guard dressed in complete Legionary armour nods to me respectfully as I enter the town across the eastern bridge. I have, what I like to believe, good standing in the East Empire Trading company and so it affords my some degree of respect amongst Imperials and a greater degree of hated amongst some organisations such as the Commona Tong.
Every time I see that Dragon statue that stands in the middle of the square just in front of the docks, I have to say to myself, what a complete waste of ebony. I can tell it's made of the stuff from the colour, can't they use something a little less priceless? The statue itself got to be worth as much as ten Ebony blades if not more.
The Six Fishes lay on the other side of a long stone bridge that stretched across a large drop to the sea below. Imperials believed that building their forts on, in or around Mountains or cliffs gave their forts from protection. The docks at the lowest point are the busiest place, people moving that way and that, helping to load and remove crates and barrels from the ships. Several mercenaries from the Fighter's Guild are standing around the statue. Probably hired to keep an eye on the events, definitely not by the Imperials though. They were too proud for it. Probably some jumpy East Empire clerk who's frightened he's going to miss out on his promotion due to theft.
I cross the bridge, humming the tune to a rather catchy song I heard someone singing in or around the arena. Probably a native Dumner song. The six fishes is a modest little place, like most Imperial taverns made from wood with a thatch roof. A wooden sign hanging outside the door depicting several large slaughter fish on each side. A rather clumsy attempt at painting on the Publicans part.
"N'wah Swit." Someone yelled, thumping a table as I pushed my way inside. I looked in that direction for the moment, watching a couple sitting at a table. It was Dumner having a friendly drink with a Nord women, exceptional rare sighting seeing as how the two races despised each other sat at the one nearest to her. "That bloated Imperial thinks he's so big!"
"Just between you and me, that Selvus Gravius isn't as high above us as he likes us to believe," The Dark elf asked, before pausing to swig down the contents of his personal Dwemer tankard. The Nord nodded. "Well, I was on a Job from Sugar-Lips Habasi the other day, right, I was under an invisibility spell while I sneaking away and as I was passing the census office, I heard voices coming from around the back. Well, being the curious fool I am, I went to have a look. And guess what I saw…" The Nord shrugged, brushing some blond hair out of her face. "Gravius was talking with this Alter woman, hadn't seen her face before, guess she was from Balmora or something. Anyway, after a moment, they started kissing." The Nord leant forward, eyed wide in surprise.
"Strewth, the mans married!"
"Fifty Septims?" A dark elf female said with exasperation, nearly knocking the Nord bartender over as she swung her arm across in a vain attempt of grab him. I sat down on the stoal at the other end of the bar and watched from out of the corner of my eye. She was sitting a few stools away, arguing passionately with the bartender. "For quality Restore Fatigue potions like these? I spent a week brewing these, the bottom bartering price is a hundred and fifty." The Nord did not look too impressed.
"No one has trusted your concoctions ever since one turned that poor Wood Elf from Seyda Neen's hair blue." He stared angrily, jabbing a finger in her direction.
"That was never proved and I'll thank you for not spreading false accusations!"
I must ask the reader to be slightly lenient with me as I honestly can't remember what happened after I ordered the first drink, but I presume I passionately entered into my favourite pass time. I presume so since I remember having a distinct alcohol like smell about me for several days afterward. Anyway, that's not important.
Oh, before I forget, some crucial element. My pet…. Now that may not seem important but it will be of some relevance to the story I've telling. His name, appropriately, is Rat. No prizes for guessing what he is. People, mostly Dumner I've noticed, can't stand the little fellow. Sure he may have red demonic eyes and sharp fangs, but there's never been a more tamer animal in Tamerial. I treated him for any diseases with a potent spell myself and still people detest him.
Still, anyway…. It was probably late at night when I roused from my slumber in a purchased room upstairs. Rat was asleep under the bed itself, his scaly tail hanging out. The thick smell of Skooma hung in the air, which I know could not have been from me as I never touch the stuff, not even when I'm completely legless. I prefer Flin as it was the only alcohol that didn't leave you with a pounding headache afterward. It doses however leave you feeling very groggy if you actively engage in drinking large amounts of it.
I thank whatever deity gave men and mer the need to relieve themselves, for if I had not roused with a sudden urge to go I would never have witnessed the strange figure standing in the open doorway, wearing strange black armour the likes of which I'd never seen before, his face hidden by a black mask. Grasped in his right hand was a very familiar weapon, a Deadric tanto.
When he saw me looking at him, he cursed and drove toward me, his weapon held high. Reacting on instinct, I tore the Dai-katana from the table beside my bed and defended myself from the blow, metal scrapping against metal with a loud clash. My would be assassin however was far too slow to contour attack, for whoever his employer was, had failed to mention my distinct famous speed. That, and I was by far the better swordsman. He put up a better fight than expected, but finally he lay dead on the corridor outside my room. Slashed across the arms and chest. By now all the commotion had roused the guards down stairs who came tearing up the stairs on the left hand side with their broadswords drawn. A Bosmer in the room next to me peeped his head out to see what all the fuss was about, a night capo adorning his head.
"What's going on here?" One of the taller guards demanded, his chin unshaven and skin quite pale for an imperial. I didn't answer, too busy catching my breath, cleaning by blade of blood before sheathing it. Rat was still asleep. He was a good companion, but lazy as hell. Not even the charge of a wild Guar could wake him up.
I paused to examine the body while the guards chattered amongst themselves, finally clued in to what was happening. I wasn't exactly sure what I was looking for, something to identify my assailant in some way. So first I removed his mask, he was a Dumner, probably younger than myself. His armour was very strange, complete black and soft to the touch, almost like skin. Finally, I found something that remotely resembled a clue. In his left hand side pocket was a dart, made from the purest ebony, yet was engraved with strange runes the nature of which I did not fully understand.
"You are the dead man!" The Bosmer hissed quietly, staring in horror at the dart I now held. I turned to look at him. "You have survived an attack by the Dark Brotherhood, they'll be coming for you again and soon." A hushed whisper went up around the guards. Dark Brotherhood? I had heard of them. An assassins guild, very much like the Morag Tong in intention but very different in method. Unsanctioned by the empire. The armour I now noticed was well suited for assassins. In semi darkness, it would make it's wearer nearly invisible. I knew not why I had been marked for death by this group, for as far as I knew I had no distinctive enemies. Well, there were several people I have stolen from in the past and many lady friends who would just love to see me six feat under. But none of them would go the this kind of trouble.
"I think you should have a word with the captain about this…." One of the guards managed, examining the body himself. I looked up, trying to manage a superior stance in my night robe. Apelles Matius, their current captain was currently on duty and so didn't mind being bothered in the middle of his shift. In fact, he was rather grateful. It distracted him from the fatigue the night watch created. I went to see him sometime after I took the opportunity to relieve myself.
"Dark Brotherhood?" He said absently, looking over the Ebony dart. "Yeah I know of them." Apparently this new captain had just arrived from Cyrodiil. He was an Imperial, dressed in the new Adamantium armour that was being introduced into the Legions. It was silver in colour much like steal armour only it did not have the same groves in it.He whistled loudly, shaking his head. "Wouldn't like to be you my friend." He added, handing the dart back to me. I had found the captain on the fort wall near the Hawkmoth legion towers, overlooking the western inner sea. The moon was high in the sky, partly obscured by some storm clouds beginning to gather, the fading moonlight making the captains armour gleam. Rat was still half asleep, resting on my shoulder with his tail woven in and around the large chucks of glass in my armour. I was taking no chances in case the Brotherhood had a back up assailant waiting to ambush me from the shadows. If they did, he would have to fight me at my best. "We can't really protect you if that's what you're come here to ask." The statement felt like an insult, but not because he was refusing to shield me. I had no intention of hiding from whoever wanted me dead.
"Look, I just want any information of the group you have." I stated angrily, crossing my arms, the armour clanking against itself. The Imperial shook his head.
"Now Altmer, if we knew anything useful about this group they'd be shut down in a heart beat. Their not a properly sanctioned guild and outlaws as far at the Empire's concerned." I groaned. This guy was turning out to be no help at all. "You might as well make your own inquiries."
"Any idea where I can start?" I asked him, leaning back against the battlements. I might as well, if the Imperials weren't going to help me.
"Well, I suppose I really shouldn't be telling you this but you're the first person to survive an attack by the Brotherhood and so you've impressed me. There's a rumour of a Dark brotherhood base in the city of Mournhold." Mournhold is a city on the mainland Tamerial, known as the capital of Morrowind since it was within the Province borders. I had heard about it but never had much opportunity or need to visit. "Tell you what." Apelles declared, smacking a fist into his palm as an idea hit him. "I was supposed to send some Imperial soldiers as the Royal place and region Imperial depo can't handle it themselves, but the Imperial Dragon has a good number away dealing with some Rouge Ashlander rebels." He reached into his armour and withdrew a large leather purse, tossing it toward me I caught in my left hand and brought it up toward my face, inspecting the contents. There must have been a good ten thousand septims there. Three times what I won at the tournament. I ran my fingers quickly through it all. "You go and deal with the group as an Imperial Legion hired hand and you may be able to find out something about whoever wants you knocked off." Quite frankly I wanted to leap into the air and yell out load. This is more money then I could ever hope to make in a year and so instead I pocketed the money with a calm demeanour.
"Fine, whatever works out for me." Getting to Mournhold turned out to be a bigger problem then I had anticipated. Ships were not allowed to dock on the mainland as a quarantine had been put in place to deal with the local plague, called Blight. Thank you very much Dagoth Ur! I kept asking around the docks, but it seemed my efforts were futile. I was anxious to get out of Vvardenfell to throw my trackers off for maybe a week or too. It was dawn before the exhaustion from being up half the night, and the long term after affects of Flin dragged me down to the stone ring surrounding the Dragon statue.
By now the Captains shift had ended and I'd been unsuccessful in locating him again to ask for more information. I pull my green glass helm to soak air to ponder my situation more. I had to find someway to reach Mournhold. Usually, when someone offers me to do something for money I just take their money and disappear but one can not con the Imperial legions and expect to get away with it. The docks were empty now, the brief five minutes of silence before the new shift came out.
"Dai-Sona!" A voice, which I am reluctant to admit I knew snapped at me. I looked up to see a very angry Dumner female standing in front of me. Dressed in ordinary netch armour that flattered her figure. I hissed loudly as she angrily drew a slap across my face. "That…" She snarled, grabbing me by the shoulders and forcefully pulling me to my feet. "Was for leaving me to get married to that Telvanni madman!" I pushed her off. "Do you know what I had to do get away from that perverted freak?"
"Now Amila, I know your upset but I swear we were coming back for you." Ah yes, Amila one of my past lady friends. Occasionally my partner in crime. A high ranking member of the thieves guild. A beautiful woman with shapely curved and long raven black hair. Her eyes were blood red like all of her race, but she also had a distinct golden ring to them.
"Come back for me?" She repeat, shaking with rage. "Come back for me? I tracked down Balthazar and he said that you had absolutely no intention of ever returning to Sadrith Mora!"
"Look." I added angrily before she could get another word in. "I really don't have time to talk!" Before I knew what was going, she drew a short blade from her armour, glaring at me with her face burning with rage. Amila always was a hot-headed one. Rat squeaked loudly, recognizing the hostile situation and vanished from my shoulder, retreating to the relative safety of the statue behind me, nestling in the crevices of the Dragons wings. I quickly drew my Dai-Katana and defended myself. Instinct urged me to fight back but I knew Amila, she was boiled up and why shouldn't she be? If I were her, I'd have done the same thing. She kept smashing away and just defended myself.
After a few minutes, she tired out and retreated backwards a few steps to catch her breath. She tried once more to launch another offensive but found herself to tired so she groaned loudly and sat down on the cold stone ground of the docks. We used to do this all the time so I knew what to expect. She could never stay angry at me for long, provided she vented her rage intensely for a moment or two.
"Are you done?" I asked casually, sheathing my blade.
"Bastard…" I sat down beside her and as I expected, she didn't raise a finger to try and silt my throat. "Sometimes I just wish you'd fall in love with some pretty Altmer woman who'd take you to Summerset Isle forever, leaving me with a Dai-Sona free Vvardenfell." I just chucked before replying.
"Actually, I'm glad you're here. You can help me with a small problem." She had connections, presumable she could help me with my little errand. She stared at me like I'd just asked her to go fornicate with an Orc.
"Help you? How can I possibly trust you ever again?" I let her rant on about betrayal for another five minutes. Washed over me as usual. In the end she saw that I wasn't listening to a single word and finally gave up. "Oh to hell with you, I'm going to Mournhold and leaving you to rot here." She said standing up. That certainly got my attention.
"Now, that's what you can help me with…" I added, pulling myself to my feet. Rat scurried down from his statue and back onto my shoulder. "You know a way to the city then please share." I added, gesturing toward the boats behind me. "These fools tell me no ships can sail to the mainland." She groaned, smacking her forehead.
"Oh no you don't!" She snapped. "I'm leaving partly to get away from you and I have no intention of letting you follow me."
"Oh come on, for old times sake?" Her frown deepened.
"Old times sake, is what makes me want to drive a dagger through your chest." As usual, my charismatic charm, enabled me to get her talking. Speech craft, the gift of the tongue it's sometimes called is a powerful thing if used properly. Her disposition of me however in incredibly low and so it took some time to raise it enough to retrieve the information I wanted. "I can't believe you actually tried the docks." She laughed at me, which was refreshing as she was usually screaming at me. "Any idiot knows you can only travel to Mournhold by magic." She lead me to the Grand council chambers. Another part of the castle fort joined to the rest of the town by a long stone bridge with a single Templer knight standing guard on it. Duke Vedam Dren, the official Imperial representative on Vvardenfell worked here. It felt rather uncomfortable to stand there, reeking of the stench of authority. A strange sensation for the rebellious sort such as myself.
"I know why I'm going." She said to me, looking back over her shoulder. "But I can't for the life of me think why you'd ever need to go there?"
"Now that's my business." I said. I didn't not want it spread around that the Dark Brotherhood had marked me for death. That could cause endless amounts of problems.
"Whatever…" She approached a Breton woman and left me to look around. Nice place. Rather too luxurious for my taste but nice just the same. It was a shame the East Empire Company couldn't afford wealth like this, having to make so with the smaller rooms in the Imperial forts and towns. "Asciene Rane?" She asked her. The Breton was currently looking over some scrolls she was carrying before she looked up.
"Yes? Oh you and your husband must be requesting transportation to Mournhold." I pretended naturally I didn't here that. Almia on the other hand was far from it. I confess, I do rather miss the heated arguments with her.
Transportation, magically speaking, leaves you with a disorienting sense of displacement for about five minutes. So I finally intervened and managed to get the rather busy mage, who seemed like she had other things to be doing to transport the both of us. Once the spell was complete, someone told me to sit down on a bench until my senses returned. The voice wad distinctly Argonian by I was so giddy at the time I hadn't noticed. Rat, for some reason I have still yet to discover, was immune to the whole affects and so while I recovered, scurried off to get his bearings in whatever surroundings he found himself in.
Not very surprisingly, Amila was gone by the time I recovered. I hadn't really expected her to stick around for my sake and I hadn't the need for her right now anyway. I found myself in the reception area of the Royal place in the city of Mournhold. At first I wasn't too impressed. The inside of this supposed palace looked like the inside of another Imperial building, although the banners on the wall were marked with Tribunals symbol. A long corridor lead off to my right, lit by candles on long iron shafts. A large set of wooden arched doors on the far wall. Large pots holding beautiful flowers and various plant lift stood rows around the room. Rat's tail was sticking out from between the various plants, squeaking occasionally. I was presently sitting on a bench, waiting for the pins and needles in my legs to go away. I had never liked magical travel, it was just so…strange.
An Argonian in a blue robe was standing around, muttering to himself as he studied from various enchanted scrolls. Mages….in my experience they seemed to be always studying. A man came in from the corridor, striding toward me. He was obviously as guard but the armour wasn't familiar with me. Completely red and segmented like steal. The helm was close, with a simple silt down the front for the eyes. A long steal claymore was strapped to his side. I wasn't aware of it at the time, but he was one of the royal guards of the current king.
"Welcome to Mournhold, City of Light and Magic." He announced proudly. "I'll have to take your name and ask your business in the city before you're allowed out." I looked up at him with an annoyed frown on my face. "Sorry, we have to keep a close track of visitors from Vvardenfell. You know, the Blight and all that."
"Dai-San, High Elf, Agent of the East Empire Company. I'm here as an Imperial hired hand." He answered each of his questions and he more or less seemed happy with them. "Oh, you didn't happen to see a Dumner woman come through a minute ago did you?" I asked quickly before he was about to stride off.
"Oh yes." He replied. "You just missed her. Off toward Godsreach I believe. Well, if you excuse me I have work to do." Mournhold was far more south than Vvardenfell and so I was overcome buy the hot and humid air as I stepped out into the Palace courtyard. The sky was clear above me, the sun beating down like an unforgiving Torch. Rat wisely hoped off my Glass armour and into my shadow. The courtyard was a large, regular shaped area with more royal guards standing around talking to each other. Several imperials, most likely members of the House Hlaalu were on the far side talking and arguing loudly over the prize of a crate of Restore Health Potions. Two large iron gates stood at each end, bolted from the inside. Each one delicately and beautifully engraved. I had barely seen the city and already I was impressed.
"Nice place isn't it, but not like Summerset Isle I'm willing to wager." Stated a voice. I looked to my right, standing there was another imperial but he didn't seem to be of the legions, even though he was dressed in chain mail armour. He was rather short for an imperial, even by myself noticed, and high elves are use to being taller than other races. He had a steal tower shield strapped to his left arm, with a sabre tucked into a sheath on his right hand side.
Like all Imperials, he was light skinned, with a short crop of hair. Chestnut brown and a long black quiff. His chin was unshaven, the beginnings of a beard becoming very plain on his checks.
"I've never seen Summerset Isle." I admitted, taking of my glass helm and letting my hair down, removing the red ribbon. Now this may seem lightly feminine of me, but one must understand that High elves, male and female, seem to enjoy long hair. The Imperial chuckled to himself.
"Calvus Horatius…" He introduced himself, shaking my hand. "Mercenary for hire."
"Oh everyone's in need of a helping hand in fighting these days The tribunal temple for example hired me not too long ago to help them clear out a nasty pit of necromancers in the ruins of old Mournhold." He looked me over. "Now you my friend look like you could use a helping hand." I decided to ignore his criticism. Even if my green, emerald like armour did not impress him he had not seen ME in battle yet. Still, someone to watch my back might prove useful, someone who didn't hate my guts like Amila.
"Certainly could use a helping hand in my ventures." I admitted, studying him more closely. His armour and weapon were none to impressive, but like most imperials he had potential. His lifestyle had given him quite the muscular build. "What's your fee."
"Well normally I charge 500 septims for a 30 days hire but since I'm in a good mood today I'll do it for a half price." I didn't know it at the time but I had just purchased the services of one of my now oldest friends. He and I have been through many adventures over the years, journeying the empire far and wide with others. But I'm getting ahead of myself for now at least. Money exchanged hands, but I careful not to let him catch sight of exactly how much gold I had on me.
"Ok then. What's first?" He asked, rubbing his hands together after he deposited his 250 septims into his chest pocket, inside his armour.
"Well first." I began. "You can show me around Mournhold, then we're going to get some better armour."
(How do you like Gets better…reviews please!!)