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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Maxymiuk's Avatar

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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    Posting this earlier than the other entries, since it's so much shorter than the previous chapters - a mini-epilogue to Part I, if you will. This also marks the end of my original buffer. Chapter 5 is about two thirds finished, but don't expect it to go up sooner than sometime during the weekend. I've decided that I'd like to have at least one extra update ready to go before posting the next one, mostly for reasons related to keeping the narrative coherent.


    Chapter IV - Questions
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    I was being an idiot. Again. Five hundred septims could've kept me fed for months. But back when I decided that me and law were going to part ways, I set some very clear rules for myself on what I was and wasn't willing to do, and killing people for money belonged to the latter category, even if in this case it was sanctioned by the lawgivers themselves.

    I sneaked down a flight and took a peek at Thavere, asleep on her mattress. At least now she'd be able to afford a proper bed. I felt a twinge of guilt for slipping away in the middle of the night like that – with her lover and only friend dead, she'd be a very lonely woman right now. Which was the problem – she might've asked me to stay, and I could've acted stupid and agreed. No, I was far too well known in Seyda Neen, and not in a good way, if the conversation about the "'Gonian what went and killed Foryn" I overheard on the way back from the Census Office was any indication.

    For the twelfth time tonight, I checked that I had everything with me – ingrained habit, I suppose. The lockpick I swiped from the Office, the scrolls from the dead Bosmer in the swamp which I still had no idea what to do with, the book from Foryn's house – I was surprised the Imperials let me keep it after all – some smoked crab meat for the road, two healing potions Thavere gave me as a gift last evening - "But you better stay out of trouble, you hear?" - the mysterious package for Caius Cosades, a staff in my hand, the clothes on my back, and a moneypouch with 87 septims inside. That was it as far as my worldly possessions went. I suppose I couldn't complain, since it was still more than I had a week ago.

    Time to go. I stepped out the door, into the cool night air. It was still two or so hours before dawn, so most people would be asleep right now.



    Except for the guards, of course. I'd avoid them, just in case. No reason for anyone to know which way I left.

    Once on the ground, I circled the village, keeping myself to the shadows. I may have made a splash when making my way through the shallows on the northwest end, but I don't think anyone was close enough to hear.



    No, I wasn't going to ride the silt strider, forget it. Besides, I could do with a walk. Back in the capital, I used to go wandering down the streets all the time. It helped me think. And right now I had a lot of thinking to do. Who could've set me free five years before my term was up, and why? Why on Vvardenfell, of all places? Why keep my arrival secret (which I managed to ruin almost immediately anyway)? Why did I seem to be immune to compulsion spells? How come they still appeared to work, for that matter? Above all else, why me?

    So far I only had questions, with no answers to give, and I had this ugly feeling staying ignorant for too long wouldn't end well for me. I hoped Cosades could fill in at least some of the gaps.

    To Balmora then.

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    I wasnt sure if i liked this. Then i saw Morgan Freemans face.


    Im still going to do an Oblivion Lets Play the moment they let me take screenshots on my 360.

  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    This is quite nice. I was uncertain what i thought about essentially writing a novel about the game, but after reading the first four chapters i can say it comes out in favor. A rather atypical main character certainly helps too.

  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    I'm fully aware that, going at a dead run, you could cross Vvardenfell in about 10 minutes - I simply assume that the space compression goes hand in hand with the in-game time compression. So if I say it's "around noon" it's because it is, and I assume Mara has traveled an appropriate amount of distance during that time.

    Otherwise this whole thing would get silly, don't you think?


    Part II - Spurious Choice

    Chapter V - Distractions
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    By the time I reached the top of the pass, the sun was rising in the east, so I stopped there to watch.

    Back on the ship, it was all I could do to make Jiub shut up about his homeland. He'd go on and on about the green charm of the Ascadian Isles, the majestic cantons of Vivec, or the terrible beauty of the northern ashlands. He'd tell me about hunting the roaming packs of guar, or the navigator's hell that was Sheogorath, and warn me to never, ever get anywhere near Red Mountain.



    And in all this, he completely failed to mention the giant mushrooms.

    Or the giant rats, for that matter. Or the giant passenger insects. Or the giant...



    ...hopping worm... thing.

    That suddenly leapt towards me and sprayed some kind of green spittle all over the hem of my robe. Which turned out to be acid, as it started to quickly eat through the fabric. Some of it fell on my foot, and it hurt.

    I jumped away with a hiss. The worm followed, but I brought up my staff and drove the point down into its body. It squealed as it pierced through its skin, and contorted itself, trying to reach the shaft to attack it. I withdrew the weapon quickly, before the creature could spray it with acid as well, then slammed it down again, aiming for the head. The worm shuddered, curled up, and lay still.



    Was everything on this island trying to kill me?

    I sat down on the nearest stone and hitched up my robe - which now had a large hole with blackened edges in it - and looked at my foot. The injury felt worse than it was, luckily. A raw spot about the size of a pebble where the acid ate through my scales, a few pits where the drop fell onto the claws - I'd live.

    Still, not a good start to the day.

    I ripped off a strip of fabric from the sleeve of my robe and bound the raw spot. I'd have to dress it properly later, but for now this would do to keep the dirt out.



    Once I descended from the pass, I found myself on a crossroad, with paths leading off to the north and south. The signpost informed me I'd reach Balmora by following the northern path, so I complied.

    As I walked, I heard the island wake all around me. There were birds chirping in the trees, some rodent rusting in the bushes, shrill cries of some creature or other in the distance, the buzzing of insects, growls, squawks, hollow trumpeting... I heard people exult about the beauty found in this "nature's symphony," but after my run-in with the worm, all it did was make me jumpy about the next thing that'd try to make me their breakfast.

    Maybe it'd have been easier to take the silt stri- hello, what's this?



    Jiub never said anything about doors leading into mountains either. What was this supposed to be, a mine? No, this was quality stonework around the entrance, and I somehow imagined areas around mines to be littered with... stuff. Piles of dirt, carts, tools, that sort of thing.

    Neither did it look like - at least I hoped it wasn't - someone's house. I was starting to glean that Dunmer were weird folk, but this would've been pushing it, even for them.

    Curiosity may have killed the Khajit, but I had to take a closer look. It'd just be a peek - if anyone did live there, I'd just make my excuses and leave. Besides, knowing my luck with doors so far, it'd be locked up tight.

    It wasn't. In fact, the hinges seemed to be well-oiled. And just inside, I saw two torches burning on either side of the entrance, providing light.

    I slipped inside, closing the door quietly behind me. I found myself in a very short corridor - you could almost call it a landing - ending with a set of stairs leading down. Everything here, the floor, the walls, the ceiling, was made of smoothed stone - someone put a lot of work into building this. I approached the stairway and looked down its length. It ran straight for about twenty steps and at the end-



    A body is usually the first sign turning around and making yourself scarce is a good idea.

    No, wait, I was just jumping to conclusions here. For all I knew, that pair of legs belonged to someone who passed out drunk after coming back home. Seen that happen a million times - usually when I trailed a tavern patron back home and nicked his valuables while he snored away. Same thing here, most likely. You didn't just find random bodies dotting the countryside every day, I mean.

    On this island?

    Shut up.

    In any case, it couldn't hurt to make sure. I sneaked down the stairs, keeping my back to the wall and one hand on the staff. At least here, the steps were nice an solid.

    I was about halfway down when I heard something. Like a whisper. I froze, listening. Nothing. Not a sound, except for my heart suddenly beating rapidly against my chest. Was I hearing voices?

    And was it me, or was the light in here actually pulsing, independently of the flicker of torches?

    Oh, will you cut that out, I told myself. Like a complete greenhorn on your first burglary, that's how you're acting. Sure, the place is a little weird, but you've seen weirder in your time. And even if it is a corpse down there, you've seen your share of those too.

    Not feeling reassured in the least, I nevertheless managed to get moving again. Step by step, I made it to the bottom of the stairs and peeked around the corner.



    Well, of course it was a tomb. How silly of me not to notice earlier. What other reason would anyone dig corridors into solid rock and put more effort into the stonework than you'd see in most houses?



    As for the Dunmer here, he must've been a tomb robber. A fairly well dressed and armed one at that - sword and shield, clothes you'd get from a tailor in the good part of town, a pouch full of... well, no, judging by weight, there was only a handful of coins inside. Still, septims were septims - I slipped it into my satchel.

    There was still the matter of how he died, but that was easy - anyone could've seen the unnatural angle his neck was twisted at. I checked the rest of the body anyway, and sure enough, the multiple bruises I found confirmed that he must've tumbled down the stairs and broken his spine. No guards, no traps, no spooky things - just clumsiness.

    Or was it? - I glanced back up the stairway. The fear that seized me on the way down – usually I didn't scare easily, and yet I all but pissed myself when standing there. Was that the trap, maybe? Make a would-be robber so afraid, he'd make a dash for the entrance, trip, and break his bones? Nasty.

    But since I was already here, I might as well do some exploring. Once you got past the guards and the traps, tomb raiding was an easy job, usually with good payoffs. I didn't consider it stealing - not like the dead needed all that junk wherever they were right now. I don't think they even minded, to tell the truth. I've yet to see one of them get up and complain anyway.



    ...

    Right. First time for everything then.

    I tried to back up before the thing saw me. Too late. It rushed at me with an enraged shriek. I turned to run, but I felt something strike me in the back, and I stumbled into a wall, feeling a sudden weakness seize my limbs.

    The apparition came around the corner and slashed at me with the skeletal claws it had for hands. I brought up my staff out of pure reflex - I was fighting a ghost! - in an attempt to fend it off.



    It connected. And the apparition flinched away.

    I wish I could say that at this point I calmly and methodically engaged my foe, using the superior reach of my weapon to full advantage.

    What I actually did was grab the end of the staff in both hands and swing it around wildly, at the same time backing away towards the stairs as quickly as I could. I hit the walls, I hit the floor, I occasionally even hit the ghost, which followed me, lashing out relentlessly with its claws. I nearly lost my balance when I stepped on the Dunmer's corpse, giving the apparition an opening, which it took by raking me across the chest. I recovered and leap backwards, giving it another whack.

    The trap! flashed through my mind when I've felt the first step under my foot. I was barely holding on to my wits right now, if I got a panic attack now, it'd be over. With strength born of desperation I swung the staff in a wide arc, connecting soundly with the ghost's head. Which gave one last scream and crumbled into a pile of silvery dust.



    I sat down heavily on the steps. What. The hell. Was that?! Seriously, ghosts? This wasn't some, I don't know, necropolis on the moors, or, or an old battleground haunted by the spirits of the fallen. This was a nice, friendly tomb that probably still saw regular use. It did happen that you'd get the dead themselves raised to guard the tombs, but that was back in the old days. Ancient history. Necromancy was ten kinds of illegal in the empire. Or was this another "Morrowind amendment" everyone ignored?

    There was a loud clatter in the corridor the ghost came out off. I practically flew up the steps and, moments later, was leaning against the tomb's door, shaking all over. You know Mara, maybe you'd like it better back in your nice cell in the imperial prison. Sure, the food sucked, and you shared your bed with a couple dozen cockroaches, but at least you were safe there. This made what, four brushes with death - literally, in this case - in five days? That freedom thing just wasn't working out for you.

    It didn't seem like anything was coming out of the tomb after me, so I hurried back onto the main road. But, once there, I found out I couldn't continue. I was coming down from the adrenaline rush - two of them, even. My body needed a break. But not here, not by the road. Knowing my luck, this would be the cue for some bandit to appear, waving a sword in my face and demanding I make that tired choice of "your money or your life". Or, better yet, he might decide that I'll make a good addition to the nearest plantation.

    Just then, my ears caught a familiar sound - a splash. There was water nearby.



    Just off the road and over the rise, as it turned out. A small pool nestled between the rocks, probably fed by excess runoff from the mountains during rains.

    I made my way down to the rocks and kneeled on the edge, taking some water into cupped hands and tasting it. Fresh - it did rain just three days ago.

    Without thinking much, I took off my clothes, and slid down into the water. It was still cold this early in the morning, but I quickly adjusted to the temperature and felt myself start to relax. It was an Argonian thing, I guess. Even the city-born like me, you could catch at the docks a few times a week, walking about, sitting on the pier, and being cussed at by dockworkers for getting underfoot.

    Though you didn't go for a swim in the docks, not unless you didn't mind all the scum and refuse floating around in there with you. Or the guards who'd be waiting to arrest you for public indecency once you got out.

    This pool was too small and shallow for a proper swim, so I simply let myself soak for an hour or so with only my eyes and nostrils sticking out above the surface, trying to forget about the entire day so far.

    I still felt it, though. The ghost's touch. The armor caught the worst of its claws - I only had a few shallow scratches across my chest from when I left myself open. But the thing, whatever it was, that it did right at the start, that bout of weakness, it still lingered with me. It wasn't even noon yet, but I felt tired, like after a full day's work. That's how ghosts killed, as I recalled. Drained your life away, while you hacked away at their incorporeal forms uselessly with your weapons.

    Only I didn't hack away uselessly. The staff connected.

    I crawled out of the pool, sat down on a stone and laid the staff across my knees. My mad flailing put it in dire need of a visit to the blacksmith - the shaft was bent in the middle and dented all over, and the stone set in the head was chipped. A fair amount of the silver coating got scraped off, with the dull sheen of iron showing from underneath.

    Hold on, hold on, how did that ditty go...

    What starts spirits shivering
    And sets shifters scuttling scared.

    Stern silver, shining
    In sunless schisms.


    Silly stories shamming superstitious simpletons, is what I'd have said - if I hadn't just beaten a ghost to (ahaha) death.

    With a weapon I bought only because I liked the way it looked. And it just saved my life.

    I gathered up my sleeve and used it to start cleaning the staff. It definitely deserved better treatment than I've been giving it so far.


    ***


    I've been back on the road for a few hours - I judged it to be around noon - when I caught the scent of wood smoke on the air, and spotted buildings in a gap between two hills.



    Civilization!

    A few minutes later I was walking down the main street of the town of Pelagiad - a collection of shops, inns, and farmhouses surrounding a Legion fort.



    The town was fairly empty - I guessed most of the people were off working the fields, but that was fine with me. The less pairs of eyes saw me arrive, the less talk about "that 'Gonian what stumbled into town wearing a torn up robe and carrying a bent staff, and hey, did you hear about what happened in Seyda Neen a few days back?" there'd be once everyone gathered in the tavern for the evening drink.

    In fact... I ducked into the gap between two houses and quickly removed the robe, folding it up tightly and stuffing it into the satchel. The clothes I got from Thavere were still intact, and I sincerely hoped body armor wouldn't raise many eyebrows – judging by what I've been through so far, travelers who didn't wear any protection probably weren't heard from ever again.



    Uulernil's Arms and Armor. Just the thing I needed.



    Uulernil turned out to be an Altmer, which made two for two from the shops I've visited so far. Did the high elves somehow manage to build a trade empire here when the Dunmer weren't looking?

    "What do you want," he asked, with barely concealed disdain. If they did, it wasn't due to their sunny disposition, that was sure. Lay off, tallpole, so what if I look a little shabby. I saw a guy today who spent his money on a fancy pair of pants. Know what he's like? Dead.

    I raised my staff and handed it to him. He took it from me, making annoying "tut, tut" noises under his breath.

    "There's a lot of damage," he said finally. "I'll need to replace most of the silver coating. It'll be ready tomorrow. Payment up front."
    Right. I crossed my arms and gave him a long glare. Tell me another.
    "What? Didn't you hear me? You're not the only one to come here with things to fix. It's harvest season - everyone's bringing me their farm tools. And I have an important contract with the Legion on top of everything else."
    I shifted my gaze to the flower pots behind him - the ones he's been watering when I entered the shop.
    "It's going to take a long time to do properly, alright?" he changed tactics. "I'm not some second-rate hamfisted anvil-pounder who'll hit this with a hammer twice and call it a day. When I fix things, I fix them."
    I raised both my hands and wiggled my fingers at him. Use magic, you bum. In fact, you'd probably do it anyway and the whole "got lots of work" routine (including the fake Legion contract story - the legionnaires always employed their own blacksmiths) was so that you could gouge the price. Never met an Altmer who wouldn't try and make things easier for himself using his vaunted "mastery of the arcane."

    At the same time, I thanked my kind for working so hard on achieving a reputation for being needlessly inscrutable little gits. Unlike Arrille, this elf had no reason to like me. If he twigged in that I couldn't, or wouldn't speak, he'd try to shaft me, just because.

    "This will cost extra," he drew himself up haughtily. "While I have indeed mastered the arcane arts, the manipulation of prerequisite energies is a very delicate and complex task, requiring-"

    I held up my hand, cutting off the stream of salesman babble before it got in full swing. Then I reached for the moneypouch I got from the tomb and counted out the septims from there, curious as to how many there'd actually be. Seventeen. Good enough - I laid the coins on the counter.

    "Well I never," Uulernil huffed. "This is the worst anyone has ever insulted my craft. I'll have you know that I had clients from as far a Dagon Fel travel here specifically for my merchandise. And I'll have you know that Vonden Mano of House Redoran himself carries one of my blades. I couldn't ask for less than fifty septims for the repair."

    Yeah, never heard of him. I slowly pulled out two coins from my own moneypouch and added them to the pile. But good try.

    In the end, we settled on twenty-eight septims for the repair - better than I expected, to tell the truth. The good blacksmith told me "manipulating arcane energies safely was a task requiring levels of concentration he could not achieve with distractions present" and told me to come back in two hours. Which was fine with me, since I recalled seeing a tavern on the other side of the street.



    I knew I couldn't exactly afford to spend money on booze, but I needed something warm in my stomach to stave off the chills that ghost gave me. Besides, it's been ages since I had a decent drink.


    ***


    Three hours later and ten septims poorer, I was on the road again, repaired staff in hand and half a bottle of some local beer sloshing along in my satchel. Some would say that drinking so much on an empty stomach after so many years of forced abstinence, but then, they weren't Argonians, were they now? Livers like iron, us. It'd take more than some third-rate brew to get me drunk.



    More doors in mountains. Well, I'm wise to your tricks now, island. No more distractions for me - it's straight to Balmora.



    Quit taunting me, y'hear? Stinking death trap, that's what you are. I'm not dying in some forsaken tomb, or cave, or whatever. I mean, damn, you'd think half the island was actually underground. Must look like a piece of pumice. I better watch my step, or the ground itself might decide to swallow me up. Then it will be fun and adventures with whatever little horrors have never seen the light of day.

    And what's this?



    A Breton woman, and a noblewoman at that, by the look of her clothes. Without weapons, without escort, and quite possibly without a clue, here in the middle of nowhere.

    "Yoo-hoo!" she waved, noticing me. "Over here!"

    Sweet Seryn, you've got to be kidding me.

    Well, seeing as there was no one other than us two on the road, I couldn't pretend I didn't see or hear her. So I ambled over in her direction.



    "Greetings to you, my good, er," you could see her trying to divine my gender somehow. "Argonian," she decided finally. "I am Lady Maurrie Aurmine and I would entreaty you for your assistance in a vital matter."

    I stared at her blankly.

    "I have been traveling to Vivec," she continued blithely, "when I was accosted by an absolutely dashing bandit who demanded I hand over my valuables. I acquiesced, naturally - he had a really sharp sword with him."
    So you got robbed and want me to get your baubles back? I don't think-
    "However, once I handed over my jewels, we started talking - he was very polite about the entire matter. And well-dressed, and quite handsome too... " she giggled. "I think I may have even caught his eye. I know he caught mine. In fact I think," she blushed, lowering her voice to a confidential whisper. "I think I may have fallen in love with him."
    What?!
    "Alas, he departed before I could muster the courage to tell him so," she pouted. "And now I haven't a clue as to where he is. Moreover, someone of my station can't very well gallivate about these trackless hills. What if someone saw me. Think of the scandal!"
    Sorry, still stuck on the part where you fell in love with the guy who robbed you.
    "As you can no doubt see, I have quite a quandary. However, oh happy day, you have happened along. Please, I beg of you, could you find the bandit for me? Could you tell him of my love - perhaps take him a token of my emotion?"
    Are you serious? Damn. She was serious.
    "His name is Nelos Onmar. He's a tall, muscular Dunmer with piercing eyes, dressed in expensive clothing," she started pulling off her right glove. "I'm sure he's still somewhere nearby."
    Snerk. Ahaha. Ahahahahahahahahahaha. Oh dear. Bwahahahahahahahahahaha.

    I couldn't help it. She was so... so earnest. And that innocent confusion in her eyes, as she looked at me shaking in silent laughter.

    Ahahahahahahahahahaha.

    I shook my head and started walking away, still laughing.

    "Hey!" Maurrie called out. "Come back!"

    Bwahahahahahahahahahahahaha. The beauty and the bandit. Love story for the ages. Hahahahahahahahaha.

    "Won't you help me? In the name of love?!" she still shouted after me. "You- you cruel beast! I should've known one such as you would not understand human emotion!"

    I looked back at her, and she stomped her foot and turned away, ignoring me.



    Ahahahahahahahahaha. Ahem. Oh my.

    Alright, so maybe I was a little drunk.

    But come on, this was just precious. Things like that didn't happen. Except when they did, and it all ended in laughter, or tragedy. Call me cruel if you want, lady, at least this time it was the former. You're lucky that "dashing bandit" didn't throw you down and have his way with you. Love indeed. I did you a favor back there. Teach you not to run your mouth off to complete strangers in the middle of the road.

    And I had a good laugh, at least. I needed that after all the doom, gloom, dungeons and ghosts.


    ***


    Around mid-afternoon I reached a crossroads and, following the signposts, entered a mountain pass.



    The scenery took a definite turn for the worse. Dead or burned out trees, ashen ground, not a living thing or a green plant to be seen.



    I take that back. Here was a curious-looking critter. And, for once, it didn't seem interested in tasting my flesh. Instead, it seemed to be sniffing along the ground, as if searching for something. As I watched, it raised its tail and then smacked it into the ground a few times, producing a surprisingly loud WHUD-WHUD-WHUD sound.

    It moved away, still sniffing, and repeated the process. I considered walking over and poking it with my staff, but then smacked myself for even thinking about it. If it wasn't bothering me, I wouldn't bother it either. Let's move on.

    The walk along - I suppose you could call it a miniature valley - didn't last very long. The next signpost I came across pointed me towards another pass, and by the time the hour was up I trod on ground that looked like it simply didn't get enough rain, as opposed to too much fire.



    And that ugly gray-green stone wall could only be Forth Moonmoth, where brave legionnaires did nothing much, really. I was close.

    I heard it before I saw it. The plaintive, hollow cry of a silt strider. On an impulse, I left the road and ran up a hill on my right.



    Balmora.

  5. - Top - End - #35
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    chiasaur11's Avatar

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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    Quite good.

    I really wish I could comment further, but the words I can add seem rather irrelevant at this juncture.
    Remember how I was wishing for the peace of oblivion a minute ago?

    Yeah. That hasn't exactly changed with more knowledge of the situation. -Security Chief Victor Jones, formerly of the UESC Marathon.

    X-Com avatar by BRC. He's good folks.

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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    That's the second Let's Play of Morrowind I see in which Mauriee's request is met IC with nothing but laughter and a big WTF. Really says something about the absurdity of the situation. The good thing about though, is that you don't feel compelled to do stupid or out-of-character quests for XP.
    Last edited by Morty; 2009-09-06 at 10:46 AM.
    My FFRP characters. Avatar by Ashen Lilies. Sigatars by Ashen Lilies, Gulaghar and Purple Eagle.
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    Maxymiuk's Avatar

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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    It's almost like someone on the dev team said: "Guys, pretty much all the quests we have require the character to act like a sociopathic kleptomaniac with no compunctions or morals. We need to balance this out somehow." And so they did - with just that one quest to carry the load.
    Last edited by Maxymiuk; 2009-09-06 at 10:02 AM.

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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    And instead made a completely unrealistic request for the player to carry out. In any case Mara is a pretty fun voice for the exploration of Morrowind.

    The greatest problem with let's plays of this game is that it is so vast, yet there are some things you just tend to start out doing, meaning a lot of them will cover the same ground and never go beyond that.

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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    This is... good. Putting the quality writing aside, you managed to weave your story into the game so seamless that I felt the game I originally played... sucked. In comparison to this, I mean.

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    A bit on the late side, I know, and a bit shorter than I was originally planning on. Had some RL turnmoil come my way lately, making it hard to focus on writing.

    Speaking of which, this may be my last update in awhile. I'll try to squeeze in another one by the end of the working week, but I make no guarantees, and after that date I'll be left with no internet connection for at least a month.

    I choose to look at this as a chance to build back my buffer.


    Chapter VI - Caius Cosades
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    Hey there, big guy.



    Come to think of it, you're about the only thing on this island that didn't try to kill me on sight. Maybe I'll even risk taking a ride on you one of those days.

    Naah.

    For some reason, reaching in the city put me in a good mood. I had no illusions that my involvement with whatever was going on here wouldn't end with delivering the package resting in my satchel. I hoped it would. I hoped I could just hand it over, maybe even get paid, and start looking for a job, a room to rent, maybe even a place to call my own.

    Like that would happen.



    It was probably the river. It made me like Balmora right from the start. I could see myself spending hours, just watching the water flow past. The only thing I could think of that would be better was if the city was on the shore of a lake. Nothing like being able to go for a swim whenever I'd want

    Though, knowing my luck, any lake here would be full of Morgan's fish.

    Alright, enough daydreaming, back to the present. I was looking for the South Wall Cornerclub - if I didn't find Cosades there, the club's owner, Bacola Closcius, would be able to tell me where to find him. And with such an uncreative name, the club itself should be a snap to locate. Just follow the south wall - the one housing the gate I've entered through.



    As it turned out, I could've jumped onto the building's roof from the hill I've climbed before entering the city. Would've saved me some walking, if I did, but at least this way I didn't draw any attention with dumb stunts.

    I hesitated before entering - I hoped this wasn't one of those clubs that kept a bouncer around to throw out guests that didn't dress right. Or weren't the right race.

    Indeed, there was a burly Nord woman just inside the door, but she gave me a disinterested look and returned to whittling a piece of wood she was working on before I came in. So far so good then. I headed down the corridor and 'round the corner.



    And suddenly I was a lot less worried. Maybe it does "take one to know one," but I could tell a thief when I saw one. And if this Khajit never had her claws around someone's moneypouch, I'd eat my own hat - I'd even go out and buy one just for the occasion. But if this was a thieves den, I didn't need to worry about looking out of place - pickpockets were a cosmopolitan bunch.

    Ordinarily, I should've done the polite thing - introduce myself and give assurances I wasn't here to tread on any toes. But I decided I wouldn't. I wasn't one of them anymore. I didn't need to be. Let's keep it that way.



    Instead, I could wonder why the taproom was underground. Was it just because thieves always seemed drawn to smoky cellars, or was this some sort of Dunmer fixation with burying themselves underground?



    When I entered the taproom itself, every eye naturally turned towards me. I was a newcomer - an unknown quantity. But I just kept moving. Business as usual, folks, don't pay attention. Not here to cause trouble, I'll get what I need and leave.

    The other patrons returned to their drinks and conversations.



    Except for him. He kept his eyes on me as I approached the bar. Crap, I hoped he wasn't one of those "hey, I've noticed you're Argonian too" guys. You ran into them all the time back in the capital, desperate, lonely youngsters who thought that simply being the same race as me made up for them lacking in everything else.

    I couldn't really blame them, truth be told - lack of viable partners was a big issue for the Argonian population in the Imperial City (unless they fished around in other pools, so to speak, but the less said about that, the better). But it still didn't mean I'd raise my tail for the first guy I saw with a nice shine to his scales.

    No, not even after a five-year fast.

    "Can I help you?"



    "Haven't seen you here before," the barkeep smiled at me. "New in town? What can I get you? Mazte? Brandy? Flin?"

    Oh well, I knew this would come up again sooner or later. Can't run around waving notes at people forever, unless I wanted to be taken for crazy.

    "Looking," I rasped, my throat feeling as if I've just swallowed a handful of broken glass, "for Caius Cosades."
    "Cosades?" the barkeep raised an eyebrow. "What would you want with that sugarhead?"
    Sugarh- Damn it.
    "He's usually in the club most nights. Haven't seen him lately though. This is urgent, I take it?"
    I nodded. I wanted to get rid of that package as soon as possible.
    "Go talk with Bacola Closcius then - he's the club's owner. He should be somewhere upstairs. You'll know him when you'll see him - short, stocky Imperial. Him and Caius are old friends, I think they served in the Legion together. If anyone knows where that old fart lives, it's Bacola."

    Wonderful. More talking. I dropped two coins on the counter and headed out of the taproom. I could still feel the Argonian's eyes on me, but he seemed content with simply watching.

    Climbing up the stairs, I found my way blocked by the Khajit thief. She put her hands on her hips and gave me a questioning look, cocking her head to one side.

    "Habasi thinks," she said in an accent thick enough to build walls out of, "you come for work."
    Takes one to know one indeed. I shook my head. Definitely not.
    "Then," she bared her fangs slightly, "competition?"
    Oh hells no, I shook my head even more emphatically. I liked myself without a knife in my ribs, thank you very much.

    Habasi gave me a hard look and I matched it with a (hopefully) sincere one. Finally she stepped aside with a quiet snort, letting me pass. As I walked past, I heard her mutter "We watch you."

    No doubt.



    Bacola Closcius, whom I found upstairs, looked as if someone hid his legionnaire armor and left a frilly shirt in its place.

    "What can I do for you?" he asked, and you could hear him avoiding adding "citizen" at the end. "Do you need a room? I still have one free, just ten septims for the night. It's small, but clean, and the bed has a straw mattress."

    Tempting, but no. I repeated the query about Caius Cosades, keeping my voice to a whisper. It still hurt.

    "Caius, eh? What would he want with an Argonian?"
    I gave him a flat look.
    "Right. Not of my affair what kind of company he keeps these days."
    And that was the most reasonable thing I've heard all day.
    "You'll find his house on the other end of the residential district. After you leave club, head up the stairs on your right, then head down the street - he lives at the very end. If you still can't find it, just follow the smell of skooma." Bacola sighed. "Damned shame, what age does to a man's principles."
    Moon sugar and skooma? Sweet Seryn, was I going to have to deal with a drooling idiot?

    I nodded my thanks and left.


    ***




    This was the end of the street, so this had to be the house. And - yes, there it was - a faint whiff of skooma smoke as I neared the door. I knocked.

    A few moments later I heard the latch being undone and the door opened slightly. The smell of skooma immediately became a magnitude stronger. A large eye surrounded by a deep network of wrinkles appeared in the gap.

    "What do you want?" the voice of the man addressing me may have once been a pleasant bass, but now it showed all the wear age and heavy drinking could inflict on it. Then again, at least he still had a voice. Those few words I spoke in the club made me feel as if I've spent the whole day screaming at the top of my lungs. I wordlessly handed him the package from Seyda Neen, and a hand appeared to snatch it up quickly. "For me, huh?" The eye withdrew and I heard the seal being broken. Then the door opened wider. "You better come in."

    Can't say I didn't have my misgivings. But the man seemed lucid enough, so maybe I caught him before his evening smoke.



    Though he could've at least put on a shirt.

    Caius was still busy reading through the message that must've been in the package, so I took the time to look around his lodgings. They consisted of a single room - no oversized basements here - and a sparsely furnished one at that. A bed, a couple shelves, a chest, a table, a stool, a bench - that was it. I did notice something that looked suspiciously like a lockpick on the wall shelf, but I turned my head away before Caius could notice. It wouldn't surprise me if he took to thieving to support his addiction, nor that he'd be getting careless with the drug being the most important thing on his mind – there was a skooma pipe out in plain sight by his bed. But something felt off here, and it wasn't just the air.

    "So, Mara-No-Voice, is it?" he said finally. I nodded. "An Argonian, and a mute at that. They just couldn't make my life any harder, could they."
    I see we're going to get along just grand.
    "Says here you used to be an alchemist. And a thief. So I'll go ahead and assume there's something other than air inside that head of yours, and you can understand what I'm saying."
    Har har, no talk equals no brains, tell me another.
    "Yes, you're definitely not stupid. For example, right now you're thinking 'why am I standing here and letting that old addict insult me,' aren't you?"
    It crossed my mind, yes. And if I didn't want some answers from you, I'd be heading out the door right now.
    "But you've got too many questions to just walk away," Caius said smugly. "Like 'why am I here?' or 'what's the catch?' isn't that right? Well sit yourself down and I'll do my best to answer at least some of them."

    He pulled out the stool for me, but I chose to sit on the bench instead, keeping a tight grip on my staff. Even though it wasn't very comfortable, with my tail caught between the wall and my body, it put me closer to the door. Caius shrugged and took the stool for himself.

    "Let's begin then," Cosades said with the air of a teacher addressing a classroom. "First question you probably have is along the lines of 'why was I freed five years before the end of my sentence and sent to Vvardenfell?' Simple answer: it's been done on the orders of our benevolent ruler, Emperor Uriel Septim VII."

    He paused and waited for my reaction. I didn't give him one. While I may overact outrageously on occasion, to compensate for my handicap, I can still do the "expressionless Argonian" just fine. Though I admit, I did nearly lose my poise right there. The emperor?! Why?! I knew it was someone high up pulling the strings but him? Why, what for? And why me?!

    "Next thing you'd probably ask – if you could," Caius seemed intent on getting a rise out of me, "is: what makes you so special? Why were you given this wonderful opportunity? The answer is, once again, simple: in order to work for me."

    That wasn't an answer at all, and he knew it. The old fart was enjoying himself far too much. I crossed my arms on my chest and gave him an unfriendly look. This only provoked laughter.

    "Sorry darlin', can't tell you more than that yet. Got my own orders, you see. Now," he scratched his chin, "what's the next thing you'd ask? Oh, I know. 'Why would I work for you?' right? Couple of reasons. First, there's this thing called an obligation. You weren't just handed your freedom – it's a conditional release. Here," he handed me a piece of paper.

    By order of Emperor Uriel Septim VII… lots of titles, …you are ordered to present yourself to Caius Cosades… here the letter went into detail about his appearance, …follow all his instructions to the letter. At the bottom, there was a signature of someone identifying himself as the emperor's head scribe, and the imperial seal.

    "Second," Caius continued when I was done reading, "what else are you going to do? Here you are, without friends, without money, without shelter, stuck in the middle of a province renown for putting your kind into shackles at the drop of a hat. Don't tell me you didn't worry about that yourself. Whereas with me, if you behave nicely, you'll get financial support, you'll get a safe place to rest your head, and I'll even make sure those skinny arms of yours never feel the weight of chains. What more could you ask for?"

    To talk with someone who isn't a complete turd?

    "Oh, right. I should probably tell you just what it is that I'll expect of you. Can't have you sitting there thinking that maybe the emperor decided to reward me for my service with this very expensive maid, can we?" he grinned. "Know anything about the Blades?"

    I nodded slowly. Spies. There was more to it, with becoming a Blade supposedly being a great honor, and members working openly as advisors, diplomats and such, but everyone knew those few were just cover for the vast army of spies, agents, and informants that formed the core of the organization.

    "We're the eyes and ears of the emperor, darlin'," Caius lowered his voice to a conspiratory whisper and leaned forward, still grinning. "We make sure that the empire doesn't come apart at the seams. The Legions call themselves Emperor's Finest, so we simply settled for emperor's most necessary. Got lots of power and privileges to make sure we can do our job, lots of room to maneuver around the written law. It's a sweet gig, and the only thing we ask from you is your unshaken loyalty to the man on the throne. So how about it, Mara? Ready to do your part for all of Tamriel?"

    I gave him the wagon driver's salute and walked out.


    ***


    I probably wasn't acting rationally, but, well, congratulations Caius, you've managed to get to me after all.

    I strode through Balmora's streets, quite aware that it was only my anger at this old man's foolish antics that kept me from being overwhelmed by hopelessness. Blades. Emperor's eyes and ears. And hands wielding their namesakes, if need be. And Caius Cosades was, by all appearances, their leader on Vvardenfell.

    The skooma addiction – an obvious façade once you heard him talk. He was lucid, aware, sharp. He tried really hard to look like an addict, but it was too obvious, designed to fool casual onlookers, to make everyone dismiss him, to react with laughter to the very suggestion that he could be a spy – and I was quite aware he could probably act like a halfwit if he chose to.

    Caius was right, of course. I was in debt to the emperor. He gave me freedom, and in exchange he had every right to demand my service. Had I actually received an offer like that a month ago, I'd have agreed without thinking (then why not ask? – more questions I had no answer for).

    So why did I walk out on the spymaster?

    I found the river and walked along for awhile until I found an out of the way spot under the south wall, where I could sit down by the bank. While I was talking with the spymaster, evening has crept into the city. Merchants closed up shops and stalls, people hurried home, or to the tavern. A chilly breeze blew through the streets – this night was going to be a cold one.



    Because I never wanted to be a thief, that's why. I started stealing of my own volition, after considering all other options, and all the reasons for and against. It was the best decision I could make given my situation then, even if it ultimately landed me in prison – a consequence I accepted long before forcing my first lock. I made a choice.

    Here, not only would I be expected to do the many things I didn't wish to, but I wasn't even given another choice. Caius's "so how about it?" was a fake choice, a spurious choice, a formality to punctuate a foregone conclusion. I was going to be a Blade, damn it, and no one cared what I thought. So I walked out.

    I was being juvenile, I knew. Childish, even – saying "no" out of pure spite that ultimately hurt no one but myself. Cosades would have the pull to get me thrown into prison if he so wanted, to turn me into a corpse, or sell me to a plantation. He was right, without friends, without backing, I was a nobody, with even less choice than what he offered.

    I could always fall in with the thieves here.

    Not a choice. Not this time. I'd sooner join a temple.

    But I already knew I was going to join the Blades. There were no alternatives – no realistic ones. I just needed some time to get used to the fact. Too much has happened these past few days. Thavere, Foryn, the rats, the ghost… things were simpler back in prison. Yes, I needed time.

    I stayed in my spot until well past nightfall, listening to the water flowing past. When I realized I was shivering, I got up stiffly and headed in the direction of the Cornerclub. Ten septims for a room sounded good right about now.

    And things always looked better in the morning, right?

  11. - Top - End - #41
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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    Don't worry about being late. Also another good installment, i feel kinda sorry for our poor argonian here. I also agree with her that the less is said about relationships between argonians and members of other races the better.

  12. - Top - End - #42
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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
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    The whole idea is that the character is a reincarnation of Lord Nerevar, so why shouldn't he be something other than Dunmer?
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    That, and I recall that there were hints that you actually had to do certain things to "become" the real incarnation of Nerevar. The main character has all the characteristics that the prophecy mentions, but you need to completely fulfill the prophecy for it to become true. i.e. you're not really Nerevar reborn unless you do everything the reborn Nerevar has to do


    Also, that's some really good writing
    Last edited by MickJay; 2009-09-14 at 08:18 AM.
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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    Hm, so our protagonist didn't comply to Caius' orders politely and humbly. Interesting.
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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    Just found this, excellent read! Is the story going to be continued some day?

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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    He did say he'd be without a connection to the internet for at least a month, and if I recall correctly there were some long times in his SE4 let's play without updates, but he eventually finished that.

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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    Hopefully it'll be started back up. However, AFAIK Maxymiuk has real-life complications keeping him from doing so for the time being.



    Edit: Ninja'd
    Last edited by Artanis; 2009-11-21 at 12:32 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesegear View Post
    Girlfriend and Parents: Why do you spend so much money on that stuff?
    Me: Would you rather I spent all my money on alcohol like others in my peer group?
    G&P: You keep spending as much money as you want!
    Spoiler
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    Bossing Around Mad Cats for Fun and Profit: Let's Play MechCommander 2!

    Kicking this LP into overdrive: Let's Play StarCraft 2!

  17. - Top - End - #47
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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    Not a real update, I'm afraid.

    Apparently, update interruptions are a seasonal thing with me. Autumn rolls around, and suddenly I don't have time for anything fun-related.

    The good bit of news is that I have a semi-precise date for the next installment. It'll definitely happen sometime during the last week of the year.

    I should be able to return to more regular updates sometime in February - reason for this being, I found work that takes me abroad for a month at a time, and during that period I can't edit and assemble updates (not to mention, play the game). I'm planning on getting a laptop ASAP, but currently I have more pressing financial concerns.

    Thank you for your patience - or should I say, impatience? - and have a microteaser in the form of the names of the next three chapters (first post).
    Last edited by Maxymiuk; 2009-12-08 at 06:13 PM.

  18. - Top - End - #48
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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    It's not dead?

    Alright! This might well be the best LP to ever grace these forums, and seeing more from it should be quite nice.
    Remember how I was wishing for the peace of oblivion a minute ago?

    Yeah. That hasn't exactly changed with more knowledge of the situation. -Security Chief Victor Jones, formerly of the UESC Marathon.

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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    This is awesome. I have to repeat Chiasaur's comment about the quality of this let's play.

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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    Hooray! It's back!


    ...ish...in a little bit. But still
    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesegear View Post
    Girlfriend and Parents: Why do you spend so much money on that stuff?
    Me: Would you rather I spent all my money on alcohol like others in my peer group?
    G&P: You keep spending as much money as you want!
    Spoiler
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    Bossing Around Mad Cats for Fun and Profit: Let's Play MechCommander 2!

    Kicking this LP into overdrive: Let's Play StarCraft 2!

  21. - Top - End - #51
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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    I like that you stood up to the Blades.

  22. - Top - End - #52
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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    Well, it's time to give this thing the death knell, I think.

    Over the past couple of months I repeatedly tried to make the next couple chapters work, but, to put it simply, I couldn't. It definitely didn't help that I got involved in a few side projects along the way, changed jobs and country of residence again, didn't have enough time to pick up the pen, and a few other measly excuses like that.

    Sorry to disappoint everyone who was waiting for the next installment, but I don't have it in me to do Mara's story justice. This LP is officially abandoned.



    The one bit of good news is that I may have an idea for something else. I'll probably know for sure by the end of the week.

  23. - Top - End - #53
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    Default Re: Fear not, for I am watchful. Let's Play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

    Aww.

    Poop. So, does this confer any new responsibilities on me? It does doesn't it. Double poop.
    Remember how I was wishing for the peace of oblivion a minute ago?

    Yeah. That hasn't exactly changed with more knowledge of the situation. -Security Chief Victor Jones, formerly of the UESC Marathon.

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