Thursday, February 17, 2011

Adventures in Morrowind Part 11 - Subterfuge in Vivec, Part One


Fearing that my time in Vivec may be wasted without some guidance, I spoke with the boatman who was manning his station to the left of the bridge into the city. He told me that I was in front of the Foreign Quarter of Vivec, where my Morag Tong contact was supposed to be. A good a place as any to start, I supposed, and went into the looming building with my pack guar and Grimm.

This imposing mother fucker barred my entrance for a moment. Now I know where this helmet came from, and I was a little impressed Orvus Dren had managed to get his hands on such a rare piece of equipment. I wondered if he had gained it in trade or conquest. These gentlemen are apparently known as Ordinators, and their beefy armor and scary helmets loom all over this city. I can't wait to get out. Balmora seems welcoming in comparison, and everywhere I go there are angry red eyes glaring at me out of shadows.

This lizard is an enchanter in the Foreign Quarter. Initially I thought he might be my contact in disguise, but a couple of minutes of bartering showed that whatever he was, he was no deadly assassin. He offered me a discount in exchange for getting rid of a dude that had been lurking in front of his store making a nuisance of himself. Again with these menial tasks. I'm terrible at rejecting people, even when they're taking advantage of me, so I found myself saying "Sure, I'll do that for you!" before I had a chance to think twice. Awesome.

This is the nuisance. A failed actor, he apparently had been cruising the halls of Vivec selling second-rate enchanted gear and complaining about a lack of roles. I asked him to leave and he said he wouldn't be able to unless he could find other work more pertinent to his professed profession. I thought about scaring him off with weaponry, but with the golden elves swaggering up and down the hallways it seemed like a poor decision to resort to violence in any case. Having no leads or contacts in the theatrical professions, at least in Vivec, I made a note to myself to keep an ear to the ground for information useful to this faggot.
"You should have just killed him and ate the consequences," said Grimm, "I've gotten in trouble in Vivec before and it's really no big deal. They make you live in a rock a couple weeks. Bread and water and a chance to relax."
"I'm not interested in taking a break on this job," I said. "Cosades doesn't seem the patient type and this city is as unfriendly as everywhere else in this pointless wasteland. Anyway, what would you do while I was locked up?"
"Break you out, of course." I don't really believe him. I think he would pick pockets and use his magic to lift skirts. I have seen him do this in bars. Grimm is increasingly worrying, and his behavior is scary kinds of unpredictable.

I found Huleeya the Morag Tong assassin being pestered by a trio of burly looking dark elves in the Foreign Quarter bar. Each of the menacing young elves took a turn to tell me to mind my own business and stay away from the filthy lizard, and given the option I'd listen to them and be on my way, but Cosades insisted that I speak with him.

I singled this one out as the leader. He snarled at me as I approached, but the hundred gold I slipped into his palm turned the snarl into an understanding grin.
"I think the lizard belongs to this redguard," he told his fellows. "Let's leave them to go to their room in peace." The thugs chuckled and giggled like a few ladies. I played it up and took Huleeya's hand as we slipped out the door unmolested.
"Thank you," he whispered with a sibilant hiss. "Take me to the bookstore down the hall and we can talk in peace."
The bookstore belonged to a rugged looking Khajiit, and the shelves were stocked with books that had titles the Ordinators would bust you just for reading. One of the big yellow guys stood in a corner glaring at everyone that came in, remembering faces no doubt, and I nervously went into a back corner with the deadly-looking Argonian.
"I know nothing of the Sixth House," he said, "But I can give you information about the Neravarine for Cosades. Critical to understanding the Temple's prohibition on the prophecy is understanding the differences between the Ashlanders and the House Dunmer. The House Dunmer revere Neravar as a hero and demigod, but the Ashlanders revere him as a revolutionary and his return is supposed to bring the resurrection of the Ancestor Cults and destruction of the Tribunal. The Empire tolerates the brutal repression of these teachings because Nerevar's reincarnation is supposed to sweep aside not only the five houses, but the Empire itself, or at least its influence in Vvardenfell."
"You think Cosades is going to care about this?" I said to Huleeya.
"I do, or he wouldn't have sent you. Tell him what I told you and don't do his job."
Sassy fucking lizard.
"What's up, boss," I told the Ordinator on my way out.
"Hey," he said, "What were you talking about, outlander?"
Great. I had to have a conversation with this guy for a few minutes, but during the course of the conversation I found out that a guy named Curio over in the Hlaalu conclave was working on a play. Great. That'd get that guy out of the way for sure.

I read a few books on the way out, just to not seem suspicious. This one hit me somewhere weird. Reality is a prison? Existence is a trap? I could see the bars of black steel in my mind. The limitations of existence weighed heavily on me. I think Nirn will haunt my dreams for sometime after.

More about Daedra. These seem to be important here. I wonder how I didn't already know more about them.

Standing on the edge of the second level of the Foreign Quarter, I feel like I can see a long way into the distance. I wonder where that boat down there goes.

Disaster strikes! I'd been working on my own so long, I forgot about my companions, and when I jumped down to the first story my pack guar followed me. He did not survive the fall. I took all the good out of his packs and destroyed the corpse. Goodbye, little buddy, I'm glad I didn't name you.

I went up to Curio's Manor in the Hlaalu conclave to ask about this play the Ordinator had told me about. The top level of the Hlaalu building is lovely, with the rounded Vvardenfell architecture that you find all over this place. I went into a bedroom and looked through the dresser you can see here. Marvelous clothing! Fabulous shoes! I couldn't help myself, and I closed the door behind me to try on these fancy new duds. I'd never seen such fabrics before.
Suddenly, a hammering on the door! "Who's in there?" yelled a man, Breton if I wasn't mistaken.
"Get down here and take off that shirt," said Grimm. "I don't think these are the type of people who are going to call the Ordinators."
The door came crashing down and a mixed group of individuals came in. "Hey!" said a burly Breton, "That Redguard is wearing my shirt!" A dozen spells came at me at once and I blocked a few with my shield, but Grimm was not as well equipped. He went down, his fine robes bursting into flames as poison swept through his veins and stopped his heart cold.
"Grimm!" I said, "No!" I put away my sword and pulled out my claymore, laying about me in the cramped quarters. Blood gushed from a dozen wounds and two of the enforcers went down screaming but before I could quaff a potion and regain my wind, their spells overpowered me and I crumpled to the ground. Everything went black.

"Shit," said Grimm when we reappeared outside of the Foreign Quarter. "Just, shit man. Don't do that again."
"I'm sorry," I told him, "I just can't help myself with clothes."
I had to retrace my steps and talk to the Argonian again and reaccompany Huleeya to the bar. It went more smoothly this time. Off the edge of the parapet, I saw this critter and took a few shots at him. He got mad and came after me but didn't know about, like, stairs so he just ran his head into the side of the canton until he drowned. Haha, retarded lizard thing.

This lady thinks Hlaalu is Imperial-aligned, but I know better. I know real better because I've met Orvus Dren. Keep dreaming, lady.

This is Curio. He kept coming onto me. It was pretty weird, because he was really bad at it. I think he wanted me to be a little more forthcoming, but a secret agent can't show his hand too quick. He was excited that I knew someone to be in his play, and I took the excerpt from his script to bring to that guy in front of the Argonian's enchantment shop.

Grimm read the play first while we were walking back to the Foreign Quarter. He started laughing hilariously and I took the script away from him to take a look myself.
This... this is not a play. This is a porno. I am pretty sure that when he talks about his spear here he is not really talking about a spear. The Ordinator had mentioned that Curio's last play had been terrible and involved a three-legged Khajiit and now I don't think that was actually an extra leg. God damn it. Existence really is a black iron prison of torturous mayhem.

Marcel pranced off as fancy as can be and the Argonian rewarded me with a sword worse than the one I had. I traded it, and my old one, for a better one he was selling. I also bought a few scrolls. The lady near the courtyard outside was selling guides to Balmora and Vivec, and I picked those up too. Now I need to find a Khajiit thieves' guild member and a monk. I hope they go a little more smoothly than these last couple of tasks have.
Grimm thinks it'll work out okay. Suddenly I notice that, even though we've died and returned, the same is not the case for my pack guar. Where could he have gone?

What's Next?

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