The Tale of Kalaron Spellire

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Jay_H
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Re: The Tale of Kalaron Spellire

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Hazelnut wrote: Fri Jun 11, 2021 9:25 am What's the "ublamf - map blocks addon" mod you're using? Doesn't seem to be on Nexus.
That would be this one: https://www.nexusmods.com/daggerfallunity/mods/100.
Interesting lore about the ghost road. :D
Ever since part 2 I've been trying to think of what to do with that massive cliff and road leading out to the east. I think I brought it all together in a meaningful way -- at the very least, there's some explanation there.

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Re: The Tale of Kalaron Spellire

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My updates might become more sparing these days. With this change of scenery it's hard to tell where Kalaron's going to go now. Part of me just wants to blast through Myrkwasa entirely and head to the northeast ahead of spring, but I don't want to rush that too fast. I think there's still more we can get from this region.

Part VII: Despondency

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I decided to take a walk around town, and only then I realized just how alien my surroundings were. People looked sullen and despondent here. Not in the same hostile way as in Damu-Ij, but just hopeless. The poor economy that pervaded the Dwarf and Porcupine turned out to be ubiquitous in this whole town, for no one seemed to have any money to spend, or free time to spend it with.

Their misery seemed to parallel mine. I wish I could have said it was good to have companions in my sorrow, but it wasn't. I wanted some ray of hope now that I had lost my Hammerfell paradise, and these people had even greater problems than I. I had enjoyed the vigor of the people of Pothago so. Maybe their active lifestyle kept me distracted from the gravity of my problems. Or maybe I just didn't have problems there and was subconsciously thinking of living there forever.

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I fought back the tears while I walked and was soon overcome, retiring to my tavern room in the late morning. After weeping for a while and wishing I had a book to read, I stepped outside and found it was nearly midday. My one saving grace was the Mages Guild. With it, I at least had something to work toward.

Having nothing else to do, and wishing to push my depression away with some meaningful activity, I went to the guild hall. Inside I found an elderly man who, while absent-minded, clearly wore the mage's robes with pride. I felt to speak to him with more familiarity than I could with Vlarn'kern.

"Hail, Breton. How fares the Mages Guild this day?" I startled him with my question, as he seemed lost in thought about something. Nevertheless, he brightened up with my appearance. "Ah! Well met, child of Summerset! How rare it is to see a High Elf in these parts. What brings you about here?"

I had no interest in breaking down in tears in front of a stranger, so I abbreviated my story while we were yet strangers. I explained my hope to serve the Mages Guild enough to earn the right to teleport. He raised his eyebrow. "Child, what you ask is no ordinary request. Your service will be long and hard before you can obtain such a boon. Are you sure?" I nodded. "It's the only way, I guess. I'm not rich enough to buy a ship and hire a crew, and Sentinel City is completely out of the question." "Really? Why isn't it?" I was taken aback by his question. In the conversation that followed, I learned that the people of Syroccoreg were almost entirely isolated from the outside world. People would occasionally go to the capital city, but talebearers were few even there. This village was months behind the times. This mage thought Camaron and Lysandus were still alive, and knew nothing of the halted traffic by sea. I wondered if things would have been different had the Ghost Road not been lifted by the Breton mages.

"How embarrassing that a stranger has to inform me of the doings in our fine land!" He laughed. "But then again, who better to do it?" I didn't feel like embellishing much on the topic, and cut the conversation short to ask if I could serve the guild with anything.

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I considered it carefully. How much trouble could I get into by taking this on? I reasoned that a single student probably would give me little backlash in the region, and after all, it would be done with the Mages Guild's sanction.

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He mentioned that the fellow was from an even more remote village further south and no one in town knew him besides the guild; his stay here had spanned less than a month. My concerns for my reputation were allayed with this last clarification.

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The journey would be fairly long; Myrkwasa was significantly bigger than Pothago, and the towns were much further apart. I made sure to stock up on supplies before leaving.

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However, closer to the center of the region, more hostels seemed to pop up. I imagined many settlements revolved around the capital city to the north, which I was rapidly approaching.

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I had lunch at one such tavern and was overjoyed to find a menu like Nhashrn's. I ordered an antelope stew without hesitation and savored every last bite.

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The city of Myrkwasa seemed to have a sort of staunchness about it, a dignified but self-preserving ego. If I intended to make money enough to sail away from Hammerfell, I might have had to relocate there, as money seemed to abound in the city.

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Unlike in Pothago, no one here seemed interested in simply decreeing for decrees' sake. I wondered how long it would be before Stig-i ordered that all High Elves were to be detained on sight. Then again, no one would obey it anyway, I snickered to myself.

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The following morning, I felt more distracted than usual and made a significant blunder, the kind of which I should have corrected upon cognition. I had gone east from Myrkwasa when north would have kept me in civilization.

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Nevertheless, I blundered even more, stubbornly insisting on cutting directly through the desert. I knew it was a bad idea, and still followed through with it.

Off of the safety of the stone road, I found myself accosted by a wild foe.

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I knew not what manner of creature chased me, but her attack seemed to draw the life force right out of my body, energizing hers in turn. My memory lit up concerning the power of the nymphs.

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This was a dangerous foe to face, for her magical capabilities surpassed mine. She wouldn't use it to attack, but she resisted all the magicka I spent.

Then luck turned in a curious and fully unexpected way.

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A loud, burly giant lumbered toward us, but entirely ignored me. I hid behind it for safety to try to escape this nymph, who I seemed incapable of slaying.

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The fight between the two was lopsided and very short. Nevertheless, even when my invisibility ran out, the giant held no interest in me whatsoever.

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A desert bear gathered toward our ruckus as well, making a beeline for me. I once again trusted in the giant's kindness, and almost made it to him before the four-legged beast tore my leg open with its claw.

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I wished I could have thanked the giant for saving my life, but I knew not his language. He didn't even so much as look at me as I departed.

I had expended all my magicka by then, and only hoped I could reach shelter before I bled out.

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Within an inch of my life, I finally found the keep at sundown.

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I remembered the healing spell I had bought in Pothago, and put it to use. It worked in a miraculous way, sealing up almost all my wounds as I slept. This almost certainly saved my life that night.

Once inside the keep, I was disappointed to find it infested with a bandit group of some kind. I cast my invisibility spell, keeping out of sight. I could not afford to make enemies in two contiguous regions, lucrative as it might have been in the past.

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Once again I set up a camp in a forlorn corner of the keep, hoping no one would find me.

The band kept their treasures to themselves, and I found very little to take with me. I supposed it for the better, to give them fewer reasons to hate me and hunt me down. All I found were bats and knife-wielding rogues, and serpentine passages designed to keep their future treasures.

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Then in one room, I found something both horrifying and patently absurd. A scorpion creeped around the room, clicking and chittering as it went, unable to detect my invisible form. It had to have been over 8 feet in length from head to tail. I almost laughed at the bizarre illusion. An amateur, this indeed was.

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I then stole into his chambers in the adjacent room, and found what seemed to belong to him.

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The mage most likely scared the rogues away from this wing of the keep with his spells; I couldn't imagine who would want to fight a super-sized scorpion.

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Having grabbed his goods, I crept out to Ancano and used what little magicka I had to return to Syroccoreg.

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It was too late to return to the Mages Guild. I sat down in front of the fire, enrapt in the modest safety of the inn, and let myself relax for a short while. Half an hour passed before I heard some clinking about with plates and silverware nearby, and I stood up to order some food for myself.

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The bartender delivered to me a large stick of breaded fish with chopped tomato. It wasn't exceptionally nutritious, but it was big enough to count as a dinner all on its own.

The following morning, I returned to the Mages Guild to report the story of my success.

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I had forgotten I would be awarded a book for the deed. I grabbed it from his hands.

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This title, I had never heard of in my life! I was happy to have something new to read. I started thumbing through it in front of the questor, and then sat down to read for an hour or so in the guild hall. After that, he interrupted.

"Excuse me for prying elf, but you really don't look all right. Is something bothering you?"

The initial joy of reading had worn off, and the despondency had returned. I stood up and tried to explain that I was having a hard time getting adjusted to the new city, and felt somewhat homesick.

"Ah, that it must be then. I saw something in your eyes. Let that book alone, for you have a much greater need to fill." He then asked for my map, and pointed. "Go to the Temple of Kynareth here in town. There's a man named Glillon. He is our alderman. He keeps this poor little town going, I think. Have a chat with him, I am certain he will point you to something right." Since I didn't really have anything else to do in this sullen town, I heeded his advice, if only to stave off boredom.

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They seemed to be ending a midday ritual when I arrived, for a woman held her hand up to stop me upon my entry. I waited patiently by the door until everyone returned to their places.

I expected to find this Glillon in the main lobby, but was directed toward the office in the back of the temple. Inside I found a man who looked less holy than even myself. He had the air of a merchant or a caravan driver, not a priest.

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Nevertheless, his attitude was contagious. "Hi there! You're new in town, aren't you? I'm Glillon, alderman of Syroccoreg. What brings you here?"

I told a very short version of my story, and explained that I was told to seek him for help. He rubbed his chin.

"Well, sorry to tell you that if you came here for religion, I don't have a lot to offer you. I'm not a theologian like the rest of the guys in here. I mean, I can't even keep straight which god is which in this pantheon." His honesty was refreshing, but it opened a lot of questions. I asked, "So what makes you an alderman in the temple?" He shook his head, "No, not the alderman of the temple; alderman of Syroccoreg. This temple is the closest thing I have to an office. I'm also the questor here in the temple, but that's a part-time thing. I'm like the village... uh, coordinator, or guide, or something like that."

"There's no ruler over this city?" I asked. He shook his head again. "Rule over what? We've got a turnip patch over to the north, and there's a well that we all get water from. Why would some lord from Myrkwasa come over and occupy a town like this if there's nothing to tax?" He leaned against the podium in front of him. "I'm a figurehead here, and people come talk to me when life gets really hard and they need help. Then I go around and ask people if they can contribute time or money when there's a problem that needs to be fixed. Unless you want a really good motivational speech, that's about all I can do."

By now I felt certain the questor of the Mages Guild had made a mistake. "Well, I was sent here because someone told me I was looking depressed, and that you could help. If that's not the kind of thing you deal with, then I guess I'll just go." His eyes opened wide and he raised his voice, "Hey, I never said I couldn't help! Give me a chance here. I bet you I can have you feeling better by the end of the day, 50 gold if you don't. Deal?" I was curious now. What could he offer me?

Glillon then sat down on the floor. "Come on, sit down here with me. We need to talk. You told me your story. You were headed to Morrowind, you lost your boat, you ended up in Pothago and made a killing out there but now you're living here 'cause your life was in danger. That's all well and good, but you know the real reason you're upset?" He waited for an answer, but I didn't have one. I shrugged in frustration. "Purpose! That's what you're missing!" I disagreed. "No, my purpose is to get either there or back--" Glillon cut me off. "No, don't be a fool. That's a destination. There's a difference. You need a PURPOSE! Tell me, what were you planning on doing in Morrowind again?"

I cleared my throat. "I was going to study under Master Aryon, who's a powerful wizard in Vvardenfell." "And why were you gonna do that?" I thought for a minute. "I wanted to gain real magical power. I wanted to have greater power than anyone of my generation." He nodded and smiled. "That's a purpose!" I then responded, "I know all this. Everything I'm doing is in line with getting to Morrowind." His face turned red and he choked on his words. "No, no, no! You're doing it again! Stop thinking that way!" At this point I just stopped and waited for him to tell me.

"Your purpose is to gain power, at least that's what you told me. You want to be a great wizard. So why in Oblivion do you have to be in Morrowind to do that?"

His question stopped my thought process completely. I raised my finger as I began to answer, but there were no words. I turned it over in my mind once and again. Finally, I got an idea. "Aryon can teach me how to use magic the best way, so I excel above all others."

Glillon slapped his crossed leg and stared at me. "Oh, come on! You told me the story! You roasted an entire keep of criminals, didn't you?" I wanted to interrupt with the real facts, but I decided to let it go. "How can you prove you don't know more about magic than Aryon at this point? What if you were learning more in Hammerfell than you ever would in some Telvanni lab? What if you left here being a master wizard instead of the apprentice you would have been with him?" I didn't really want to give him the victory, but his words did instill some hope in me. I knew, better than he did, that the past few weeks had brought out more learning in me than years previous.

"So you've got purpose. That's good, and that's what everyone in this town needs, because we're a really dismal people. We need a lot of help. You know the best way to find purpose in every single day?" He raised both hands high above his head. "Service! Serving other people helps you feel better about yourself, and keeps you away from those depressing thoughts like, 'Am I ever going to get home?', or 'I don't like living here,' or 'I hate the way this food tastes.' It's the antidote for depression! Get out of your own skin and do something for someone, something that they can't pay you back for! It'll lift that High Elf spirit up to Aetherius for a day, I promise you, and the next day you'll want to do it all over again!"

No wonder they chose this guy as the city alderman. For a minute I completely forgot what my problems were. I started to return to them, but I decided to be smarter than that. I stood up, and he followed.

"All right Glillon, we'll do this your way. Tell me about someone I can help. We'll see if this really works or not."

He leafed through some papers on his podium, refreshing his memory. "Well, if you put it that way, I AM the questor for this temple. So if you want to serve, I have one recommendation that'll get you into all kinds of service..."

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Re: The Tale of Kalaron Spellire

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Always a good balance between practical life events you can relate to, and unexpected events that makes you beg for more :)
When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.
-- Charles Goodhart

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Re: The Tale of Kalaron Spellire

Post by Jay_H »

I felt like this chapter was one of the weaker ones. I forgot to record a lot of the action, which is why I'm missing a lot of pictures (like inside the dungeon). I don't regret it though, this is setting the stage for the next chapter of the story. I expect it should have some good events to come.

This reminds me that I need to alter RLQ to happen in towns as well as in cities, and probably make it more frequent. That'll help add some new events to the story.

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Re: The Tale of Kalaron Spellire

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I'm encountering a problem with Travel Options and Basic Roads, so the map's going to look a little funny this update. But I can still use the roads for fast travel, and that's all that matters here :D

Part VIII: A Light in the Darkness

"Wait, hold on," I said. "Do I have to be a member of your temple?"

He chuckled, "It certainly couldn't hurt. It'd be weird sending some stranger off to do our business. We can say you're a messenger of Kynareth and have you do all kinds of business. What's wrong with that?"

I chose my words carefully. "Doesn't being a member of the temple require... a commitment to, or even a belief in, the higher being it espouses?"

Glillon shrugged. "Not really. Some people join a temple just to feel better about themselves. Others join because they see the same supreme being everywhere, and the temple's just a facet of it. Others don't think Kynareth gets mad when you help Arkay. For me, putting you on our list of helpers just means you're on our list of helpers. It's that simple."

"You're absolutely certain people wouldn't be offended that I don't believe in your gods if I joined the temple?" I asked, more curious than incredulous at this point.

He shook his head. "No, I'm absolutely certain. If anything, belonging to our temple has some prestige. You wouldn't offend anyone, and if you do some right stuff, you might actually gain some respect for being selfless in spite of your lack of belief. Like a self-motivated altruism, there's value in that too." He shifted his weight and thought a little. "And as for Kynareth, I've never known her to strike people down just for not believing. I think she's happy with anything you do to help, so long as you're not kidnapping people or pledging yourself to Mephala or something. That'd be bad. Of course, I told you before I'm not a theologian. You're free to ask the folks here in the temple what they think."

I didn't really care for theology. "As long as you're absolutely certain people won't look down on me for not upholding your temple's creed, I can join. I'll see what all this is that you're offering me."

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"So what can I do to start helping?" I inquired.

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"Ha, that'll be simple. Have you ever heard of Recall magic?" Glillon nodded and answered, "That's why I'm giving this to you. Robbers tend to give up their line of work if there's no one to rob. You do this right, and you'll be keeping this temple going for more than a week. That's a big deal around here. I'm trusting you with a big responsibility, Kalaron. I need you to be what I believe you are."

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His words left a deep impact on my sentiments. What he believed I was? I unhooked Ancano from the wagon and set off as a light rain began to fall. I preferred speed over carrying capacity for this journey, since it didn't seem so far away.

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What did he mean, anyway? I was certain he had plenty of other people to help him, and there was a Mages Guild that apparently gave him referrals as well.

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The trip north to Myrkwasa felt exceedingly short, as I wrestled with the meaning of his words.

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Having made the mistake once, I made sure to orient myself properly from Myrkwasa and head north this time. I nearly died in the desert by going east.

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A wild tiger fell to my Slow Burn spell, providing me with plenty of food for the voyage. I had forgotten to prepare, but luck was on my side once more.

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I continued journeying long into the night, which I actually considered safer. Had I no fears of wereboars and vampires lurking about, I might have done it consistently.

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Thankfully, some faint lights in the distance led me to my destination.

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I was informed afterwards that Florden Hall was a recently-bought plot of land, and that the master, Logt, was planning to build up a large estate there. He was wealthy and more than willing to share some dividends of his investments with the temple as they arrived. He found it necessary to live far from the city with the amount of wealth he owned, which occasionally left him without the benefits of local commerce. His guards kept him safe enough, however.

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I found him right before he retired to sleep that night. His nightwear was exceedingly fine. The temple was lucky to have a committed donor like him.

"Excuse me, Lord Logt. My name is Kalaron Spellire, a messenger from the Temple of Kynareth in Syroccoreg. 'Red Flowers,' they told me, concerning a donation of yours to receive."

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He handed me a large, rough bag with several hundred gold in it. Once in my hands, it seemed almost to tip me over for how heavy it was. How much was this man donating, anyway?

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Curiosity started to win me over. How much did a temple need to continue for a week, anyway? What even was in this bag? I could hardly believe all this weight was just gold. This was probably more physical gold than I had ever touched in my life. Really, was this even gold at all?

I was just about to untie the bag and take a peek when I remembered Glillon's words. "You'll be keeping this temple going for more than a week. That's a big deal around here. I'm trusting you with a big responsibility, Kalaron." If he found out that I had tampered with the donation somehow, even if I didn't take anything...

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No. No, I could not do this. I needed these people to trust me. My curiosity would have to suffer disappointment. Having the alderman's respect, as well as that of the temple, meant much more to me than the contents of this bag.

Thankfully, I didn't need to bear temptation much longer. I mounted Ancano and cast Recall.

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I gave the heavy bag to Glillon. I thought he would be surprised by its size and weight, but he wasn't. Such donations had to have been regular, I came to assume.

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I wanted to tell him it wasn't easy to resist the temptation, but I thought better of it. The less he knew of my moral struggle, the better.

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My recompense was miniscule, but I was paid nevertheless. More importantly, the temple knew it could trust me with a serious matter.

I counted out the coins, and felt Glillon's gaze bearing down on me. I looked up and met his pensive stare. "W-what?" I asked.

He failed to keep back a smile. "What're your plans for that money, Kalaron?"

"Um, well, I'm not sure. It isn't a lot. I don't think I could designate it for any particular purpose."

He leaned forward on the podium and took on a confident tone. "To be honest, sending you for this donation was the small service. Now I'm gonna give you a chance for big service." I cocked my head. What was he getting at? He asked, "You ever been to the Silver Jug here in town?" "No, what is it?"

He sighed. "It's a tavern, elf. East side of town, almost on the border. There's a guy there named T'erpin. You'll recognize him right when you see him, 'cause he's... different. Fellow used to live here with his wife. They were one of the first people to settle this town. Somehow, they both came down with Swamp Rot, and she got the worse of it. They thought it was an ordinary illness so they didn't want to pay the temple fee. By the time they changed their minds, though, it was too late. The temple cured the both of them, but they had so much internal damage that there was no turning back. She died a few days after.

"As for him, his ankles and wrists got eaten away so bad that he can't even lift a hand axe. He's useless for work. Every day he's in that tavern, begging people for some food so he can keep living. He can't do anything else." Glillon then stood up straight. "So my question was, what were you going to do with that money?"

I was no fool to his insinuation. "Well, he seems like a good candidate, if I were to give it away to someone."

The alderman clapped his hands and shouted, "YES! Oh, that sounds so good! You just go on and do that, Kalaron. Tell me what you do with the money. I'll be waiting over here."

I stepped out into the warm desert night. There was no need to untie Ancano; it took me less than a minute on foot to find the tavern.

Upon opening the door, I heard some shouting within. "No, NO! I told you, out in the lobby! You can't be there bothering our guests!" Then followed some grumbling, and a truly pathetic figure came into view. He was emaciated from a lack of proper food and hunched over, wearing a tattered robe and gripping a walking stick to keep himself steady. It took him half a minute to hobble over from the dining hall to the entrance of the tavern. Once he had stopped, I asked the question.

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"Excuse me, is your name T'erpin?"

He gasped to catch his breath after the heavy exercise of hobbling. "Maybe. Who sent you to bother me?"

I merely smiled. "Come with me. I have a surprise for you." Taking his arm in mine, I led him over to the bartender. The innkeep held his tongue as he watched us slowly approach. "How can I help you, High Elf?"

I answered, "Well, I'm from the Temple of Kynareth. I have here 53 gold pieces, and I'd like to know how many lunches and dinners that would buy for this fellow right here."

T'erpin started breathing excitedly. As he searched for the words to thank me, the bartender made calculations.

"Stretching it out... I'll give you four days' worth. But that's 'cause you're from the temple. Special rate for you folks." And then he glared at T'erpin, "And only for that reason!"

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I delivered the 52 gold pieces into the barkeep's hand, and gave the last one to T'erpin. The old man began to weep and hug me with all the strength his wasted body could summon. He soon tired himself out and retired to one of the benches, waiting for a hot meal. As I left, he waved to me with a wide grin.

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"So how'd it go?" Glillon asked. "I can already tell you feel something different right now from how you left."

I nodded, "It's true, there's this feeling inside. The poor man has nothing left, and to help him just seemed to wash away everything I was worried about. I feel... good. In a strange way that I haven't before, or at least in a long time." I then related what had happened.

Glillon patted me heavily in the shoulder. "Good thing we made you a member of the temple, huh? I told you, there are special privileges we get. We keep this town running. People owe us a lot." And then he leaned in and narrowed his eyes. "And if we're really smart, we're never, ever going to collect on that debt. If you want to feel good forever, help people and never expect anything in return. That's a secret in life."

This man was giving me a lot to think about. I was exhausted from the day's journey and asked to retire, but I came back the following morning to see what else he had in mind.

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I was taken aback. "An exorcism? By the Blue Divide, I'm not a priest, Glillon. What have I to do with this?"

He pursed his lips. "Priests just destroy the undead like anyone else, Kalaron. You have a fire spell. You cast that and make the undead stop moving. If I sent someone else, they'd do it with a shock spell or some other power. It's all the same."

I took this to be a really rare opportunity; I had no experience with ghosts or the supernatural. I accepted.

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I set out for Javotubia immediately.

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I noticed that the bears of the desert were much leaner than the ones I had learned of in Summerset, with thinner fur as well. I wondered about the possibilities of finding caves in the desert where their kind dwelt, but had no interest in stepping off the path between cities. That, I knew, led to trouble.

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Riding off into the night, I sighed and breathed in the extraordinarily beautiful colors of the desert.

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This land seemed designed to enchant the eye. I loved pressing into the warm air of the evening as the reds and oranges of the sunset danced before me.

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Right as darkness overtook the sky, I found Jobutavia. I rested in their sole tavern, wishing to have my full powers for the exorcism.

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The peasants, fearful of a stranger and perhaps thinking me a Necromancer, refused to give me information. News of the haunted house had to have run through the whole village. Perhaps they confused me for the cause of it.

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I dismounted Ancano when I found the right address. Outside the door, a woman in a green blouse waited nervously. "Are you here from the temple?"

I nodded. "Here for the ghost. What can you tell me?"

She shook her head. "Only the stuff of nightmares. Late one evening my children and I were asleep when some disturbed whispering starting echoing through the house. It woke me up, and I got my children awake right as this... thing materialized in the reading room. Huge, tall, and inhumane. We fled the house for our lives and ran to sleep at my sister's. That was a week ago, since I sent word to Syroccoreg for help."

These poor people. No Fighters Guild, no knightly order, no palace, not even a temple from here to Syroccoreg. She had waited an entire week for this matter to be heard, not even knowing if anyone would help.

"Well, the day has arrived. I'll inform you when the apparition has been dealt with." She nodded solemnly and waited in the shade nearby.

I granted myself invisibility as a precaution before entering the house.

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Whatever intelligence this phantom held was quite cunning, for it sought me out immediately. "BACK, MONSTER!" I shouted fearfully. Everything about the creature seemed bound up in hate and disgust for the living. Just being in its presence made me feel a powerful darkness, a sort of unearthly chill that made me feel slower than normal. I was not prepared at all to look upon this horror that I now faced.

It reached out and seemed to draw away a tremendous amount of my life force. I felt exhausted as it swiped into me. I looked down and saw no blood, but felt weaker, older, more lethargic. Its sheer presence put me on the verge of death, but whatever power it exerted on me was all the more horrific.

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"I SAID BACK!" I screamed, no longer the master in this interchange. I felt at the peril of my life.

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However, my luck or whatever compensatory force was with me had won. Before it had a chance to drain more of my vital force, I had destroyed its form. On the ground I saw some ancient skeletal remains. They glowed with a faint magical force. I wondered what role they had in invoking that creature.

"Is it safe?" I heard knocking on the door, bringing me back to reality. "Yes, it is. Come in," I answered.

She looked around cautiously before stepping in. Then she saw the remains on the floor. I shrugged, "I don't know what that is, but the monster is gone. This house is safe now."

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The woman nodded, "Yes, I can feel it. I don't know who I crossed or what foe I have from my past to bring such a horrid monster upon me and my children... but I pray that it ends here."

I didn't know anything in the slightest about the undead, so I merely listened thoughtfully and excused myself with her thanks.

I returned to the tavern in Jobutavia, meditating on everything that had happened over the past few days since I had met Glillon.

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His words went through my mind once and again, and more importantly, his influence. He seemed to spark something in me that no one else had, or no one else was interested in. My whole life I had been surrounded by people who only sought their own success. That was even true in Pothago.

But this man's heart seemed bigger than the whole world. I wanted to be better as a result of it. But was I doing the right thing by following his recommendations?

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I could live in Syroccoreg and keep helping people forever. The town certainly had enough problems to keep me around for years, perhaps decades. But was that how I wanted to spend my life?

I thought of my goals and compared them to my current actions. Serving other people made me feel good and got me away from my own problems, true. But what was there beyond that? I remembered him saying that you don't need a mentor to get great power, or even to achieve your goals. But would I forever be the Hedge Wizard of Syroccoreg? If I had great power, shouldn't I employ it in something... great?

Tossing and turning in the night, I felt that I truly slept little. At the very least my wounds healed, and I was able to teleport back to the temple.

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Before I cast the spell, I was accosted by a salesman who was staying in the same room. I rejected his offer, though it did sound tempting. I was able to handle myself for now, and if I had need, I could certainly look for him at some future time.

I returned to Syroccoreg via magic. I was about to head to the temple when a robed figure approached me. "Kalaron Spellire? Please head to the Mages Guild. They have urgent news for you." I hurried there, wondering what this could be about.

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Speechless, I thanked him for telling me. I had real progress! This was wonderful! For all the Mages Guild had put me through, I had something to show for it.

"How close does this get me to teleportation?" I asked. He looked disturbed upon hearing it. "Child, is that the only question you will ever ask? There is much more to the guild than escaping it, you know."

I politely let the subject go and returned to Glillon.

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"So, what're you planning on doing with that money, Kalaron?" He smiled knowingly, but stopped when I didn't answer.

"I really don't know, Glillon. I'm not sure what I'm doing here."

He frowned. "I can tell you right now what you're doing here. You're being a force for real good. If I had ten more of you, I could change this town forever in a single month." I looked at the floor, not sure how to put into words what I wanted to say.

Then I looked up. "I'm not sure I want to be here anymore. There are other places that I need to be."

Glillon sincerely cared about what I was saying; I didn't feel pressured or ignored at all. However, he was adamant. "And I can tell you right now, Kalaron, that those other places don't have our needs. You're the biggest source of potential I've seen here in years. A Telvanni wizard, capable of stopping ghosts, soldiers, monsters, anything! You can teleport to get our donations here without risk! You have no idea what you represent to us! Imagine what we'd do when you left! Next time the Dark Brotherhood comes around to abduct someone, what am I going to tell the family? 'I'm really sorry, but our wizard's gone and we're going to have to wait and see?' No, you can do better than that! You're born for great things, and the greatest you can do right now is to help this city solve its problems!"

I crossed my arms. "This city will always have problems. T'erpin's going to be hungry next week. Ghosts, zombies, criminals, and all else will come and go. Is my life bound up in this tiny city? There's so much more I can do by heading to the northeast. I know you're thinking about the problems these people face. But isn't there something to be said for applying my strengths where they're most needed?"

He crossed his arms in response. "And head off to some prosperous city where you can be a court wizard, telling a king how to kill people the most effective way possible? No, I'm telling you. You find purpose in service. You have to go where the needs are greatest to have the greatest impact on people. Syroccoreg and its surrounding villages are deep in the hole, and you are one who can change that. People would remember you here forever! How is that not something that matters to you?"

I had a real decision to make. Did I want to stay in this backwater hovel, trying to lift these people up out of their problems? Or did I want to move on to greater prospects in a more civilized area?


And now that decision is yours, the readers'. It's time for a vote! What will Kalaron do? Head northeast, or stay in rural Hammerfell? To what will he be persuaded? Where is his future? Vote now! (Voting will close at the time I write the next update, not sure how long that'll be. A few days, minumum.)

theJF
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Re: The Tale of Kalaron Spellire

Post by theJF »

I vote for the move. Kalaron has bigger things in his future than working for these villagers. To the big city!

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Ralzar
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Re: The Tale of Kalaron Spellire

Post by Ralzar »

Agreed. To the city!
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pango
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Re: The Tale of Kalaron Spellire

Post by pango »

I'm torn, because while I agree that a bigger city is probably where things will happen, the story was taking an interesting (and seldom walked) turn. Hopefully there will be other occasions for temple quests, or at least that encounter will influence future Kalaron's actions...
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Re: The Tale of Kalaron Spellire

Post by Hazelnut »

Do another good deed and then move on?
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Re: The Tale of Kalaron Spellire

Post by Jay_H »

The readers have voted, and they, like I, will have to live with the consequences of their actions!

Readers chose:
(A) Remain in Myrkwasa and serve the people of Syroccoreg
(B) Travel northeast to the milder climes of High Rock and bigger cities

We'll get back to Kalaron's story soon, but first we have to know, what would have happened had he stayed in the run-down villages of Myrkwasa?

ENDING SEALED: THE HERO OF SYROCCOREG

Initially, Kalaron seemed to have lowered his expectations significantly to dedicate his time to building up Syroccoreg. However, his continuous service gave him a lot of recognition in Myrkwasa.

His Destruction and Illusion skills led to a fairly quick climb up the ranks of the Temple of Kynareth. Once Kalaron passed the rank of Brother (and became a local legend for his generosity), Glillon petitioned the capital city with proof of Syrocorreg's upward progress. The city was granted an upgraded ranking by the Lord of Myrkwasa, allowing the alderman to designate one of the local citizens to serve as a Magistrate for the flourishing town and the surrounding regions.

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Glillon knew no one better than Kalaron Spellire to be the first Magistrate of Syroccoreg. However, shortly after receiving his certificate of authority, Kalaron fled into the night and presented his judgeship as proof of identity to the Grand Palace of Sentinel, allowing him to wait in the city until a political envoy bound for Summerset Isle arrived the following week. His certificate of judgeship permitted him to pass the sentinels guarding the island, and he finally returned to the College of Sepiarchs.

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Nevertheless, Kalaron continued his studies by summer and returned to serve his judgeship in Syroccoreg by winter; he enjoyed the balance between theory and application. He occasionally went out to pursue justice directly from a guilty party when he tired of sitting and hearing too much. Glillon was not pleased with Kalaron's escape, but he forgave him once he returned to fulfill his duty.

Though the thugs of T'over Tower eventually found Kalaron, the citizens of Syroccoreg held him in high esteem and rallied together to keep him safe around the clock. After losing several men in failed skirmishes against the town, the criminals decided to cut their losses and leave that cursed High Elf alone.

However, these things cannot be, for Kalaron could not be persuaded to stay. What will become of him? Find out now...

Part IX: Over the Hills and Far Away

I had made up my mind. I just knew how hard it would be for him. Perhaps it was cowardly of me, but I put it off to the next day. Then I could at least give an air of having taken Glillon's words seriously.

"I'm going to think about it over the night. I'll be back early tomorrow morning, and I will give you the answer." I pulled my cloak over my head.

He nodded his head vigorously. "Please do. I really hope you make the right choice."

This was going to be painful, I was sure.

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I woke up before sunrise. I wanted to get an early start on my journey. I expected it to be long and difficult.

There was just one necessary task to fulfill.

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When he saw me enter, Glillon put all his papers aside and stared at me. He didn't say anything. I stood before him, wondering how I would break the news to him.

I took a deep breath.

"I've thought it over..." I started. He nodded, his eyes wide. He wished and prayed for words I simply could not say.

"The fact is... the desert is too dangerous for someone like me. Spring is just starting, and I already am too frail for this climate."

Glillon's heart broke in front of me. He made a heroic effort to keep his tears back, and almost succeeded. He let one escape and fought to regain composure, drying his eyes. "Well, it is your privilege to do so. I... uh, let me get out your membership record. Just a second." Caught unprepared, he leafed through several sheets before he finally found it. Grabbing a blank page, he put one hand on my record and another on the empty parchment. He whispered a spell, and the record copied over. He handed it to me.

"This is proof of your service and devotion to the temple. Take it anywhere you go. The temple can help you find lodging, work, or any other needful thing out there. I don't know where you're headed, but if it's in High Rock or Hammerfell, there's probably a temple to Kynareth somewhere out there."

I folded the parchment and put it away, and Glillon extended his hand. "I just want to say I'm really grateful for the acts of service you did. Selflessness really lifts people up in a way nothing else does. It gives us hope when we don't have any. You gave us some, and we're going to keep working to be a strong city. Stronger than Pothago, you'll see!"

After I shook his hand, I bowed deeply before him. "Thank you, my friend. You brought me out of a melancholy that I could not suffer. I will remember what you've taught me." Then I got an idea. "And as proof of it, why don't I take one final task on my way out? I'm headed east."

He smiled. "I'm sure I can find something out there..."

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"Yes, I'm sure I could make a stop out there as I leave," I nodded. He handed me the pack of herbs.

"Farewell brother! May Kynareth's winds blow with you, wherever you go!" He waved as I left his office.

Once he thought I could no longer see, he buried his face in his hands and began to weep. With one hand he pounded the pulpit a few times, and then continued to cry.

I hitched the wagon and mounted Ancano. "I think that's going to be one of the hardest things I'll ever have to do, old boy."

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The morning was already beginning to grow warm. It was the first day of First Seed, and the heat would soon envelop us. We needed to leave, now.

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I set an anchor at every new inn I stayed in. I could not risk being outdoors without an escape plan.

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Erosion had treated these hills very poorly, but I still preferred the road running through them. The loose sand was far harder on Ancano's feet.

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I reached the point where I needed to enter the desert and find this lonely manor. For a few moments I considered abandoning the act altogether, but my pride won over my intellect.

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As I predicted, the loose sand was terrible for us. Every step required my poor horse to dig up and down strenuously. We took a rest every half hour, but even that left us exhausted. At one point I dismounted the wagon and walked alongside Ancano, but it failed to help.

"Perhaps living closer to civilization would get you the medicine you need, lady," I thought as we pressed on into the late hours of the night.

I could not have been more relieved to find this cursed manor and deliver the herbs to the woman.

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I nodded dumbly, not willing to tell my whole story of exodus to her. She would just have to find out for herself.

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I had regretted taking on the task until this point. Now with it done and myself free of further commitment, I was free to follow the roads. No more deviations for me, from here on!

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I really wished I had kept some of those books to read.

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At one point I saw water afar off in the desert, even a great amount of it. "How is that...?" I wondered. Then I realized that it was merely nature's illusion against me. There was no water out there at all.

I was grateful for the chance to refill my waterskin every few hours.

The first city I encountered in the great Alik'r Desert seemed to boast the Redguard ethic of worthiness by combat.

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No doubt some people enjoyed this lifestyle, but I immediately registered the Alik'r Desert as a place not for me. The fact that it was further inland, and therefore more arid and even warmer than in Myrkwasa, gave me good justification to leave as quickly as possible.

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The towns were far and scarce in Alik'r. It felt dangerous, knowing that the nearest settlement could be several hours away. I kept my Recall spell current to my location, but it still felt a bit terrible.

Though I wasn't sure what I was looking for, my first objective was to get out of this unfathomable desert. I wondered if Anu simply didn't care for some parts of the world and neglected to create anything there.

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Out of all the theories I entertained in the endless voyage eastward, that was the one I considered most reasonable.

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Spring had begun in earnest, and even my cloak of Hammerfell provenance failed to keep me protected. The sand seemed to blind my eyes. I was glad not to have remained in Myrkwasa. Did Glillon actually expect me not to die in this desert?

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By this point I started to marvel at the journey I had undertaken. It was my only option to be sure, for both Pothago and Sentinel were forbidden to me. But reading the map and walking the region were so incomprehensibly different, it seemed no map could possibly contain all this land I traversed.

Having renewed my anchor at every new tavern, I couldn't turn back to Myrkwasa without walking the whole way. Perhaps it was short-sighted of me to keep doing that, but I might have teleported back had I retained the option.

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I secretly hoped to find some bandit keep that I could rob in haste in my flight eastward, but the road passed by none of them. The extra money would have been tremendously useful, wherever I was going.

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"Finally, an end to my tedium," I thought. How I wished for one of Pothago's publicly-funded libraries among these primitive villages!

Upon inserting the coins, I began to fear; how much could the author of this book possibly know? What if I knew more, and I was just wasting money?

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Clearly it was the work of an expert far beyond my level. I wondered at the enchantment which made the book teleport from view of its own power.

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"Summerset wine?! I'll order a full glass!!" I shouted, startling the other patrons and the barkeep.

I took a sip. These Redguards had gotten the essence of our wine right, but their ingredients weren't nearly fine enough to mimic the taste properly. It just made me wish for home even more.

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This desert was incomprehensible. Did it just never end?! The beauty I had previously seen in it started to fray. I needed out of this arid wasteland!

I pretended to hold on to my sanity as I arrived in this tavern, late into the night. Hopefully the bartender could be of some help.

"Excuse me my good man, I'm a traveler, lost in this desert and not knowing how to get out. What's the quickest way to get out of the sand?"

He raised an eyebrow. "Not many good ways, mate. South and west are bad, and east don't have much hope either. North is more desert, too."

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"But if ya head northwid, there's a region called Ayasofya. Still desert, but i's a shipping town. They'll get you on a boat away from the desert. If that's all's ya care about, head that away."

If that was my best option, that was it. I never wanted to see another grain of sand in my life.

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"HOW DOES THIS DESERT NEVER END?!" I screamed into the sky one day, frightening Ancano. Once he realized I was fine, he continued.

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As the days dragged on, my misery fomented my old thoughts that I was actually in some lost shard of Oblivion.

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Finally, crossing Antiphyllos, I had some minor excitement to break the awful tedium of the journey.

A well-clad warrior aimed a bow at my wagon. I raised my hands, caught off guard and unable to dismount quickly. "State your intentions, desert-elf!" He yelled.

"I'm a priest of Kynareth, traveling eastward for the season! Please don't harm me!"

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He lowered his bow. "A fair journey to you then, no harm intended."

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I asked what he was doing, and he explained he was on an assignment from the Fighters Guild to hunt down some merciless caravaneers in the region who had been attacking merchants. I was grateful for his restraint, for his mission was to kill any guilty party.

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The city was less than two minutes beyond him.

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Intelligent as the Fighters Guild was, the thieves were still smarter. This town had a ways to go in solving their criminal problem.

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I was almost to Ayasofya. I took some leisure in resting and walking around this village.

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"What are those mountains to the east?" I asked a villager. She answered, "Them's the Dragontail Mountains. Hardy people up there. A hard climb, but they say the peoples there's tough as Nords." As much as I hated this journey through the desert, I considered that ascent worse.

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Before I left, I realized the village had a watering hole for its animals. I did not hesitate to jump in with a thrill.

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I soaked in the cool morning's water and delighted in every particle of it. This trek through Alik'r had been so miserable, and this seemed to offset the entire thing! I stood soaking in the pool for a good while, allowing the cold liquid to release the desert's arid grip on me.

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I didn't even need or want to dry off upon climbing out. That day was mercilessly warm, and fifteen minutes hadn't passed before I was completely dry again.

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I stopped in a bedroom community beside Ayasofya for food. The town was right there. I could see it!!

Finally, to a relief unmatched in my life up to that point, I strolled into the grand city of Ayasofya.

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I hurried to the palace to see what all this was about transit to the sea.

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I wasn't sure who the Lord was, but I decided to speak to the best-dressed one of the lot.

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"Hail, milord. I come from the desert to the south, and seek a ship to transport me elsewhere. Is it true that they sail from here?"

The man chuckled slightly, but still treated my question with dignity. "Not precisely from here, but good enough. The ruling merchant council pays the Mages Guild to convey people to and from the beach, where vessels await for goods and passengers. Every day, you can catch a ship headed to some other end of the Iliac Bay."

"What about to Summerset or Morrowind?" I asked. He merely shook his head and repeated what I had heard in Pothago: until the politics of the Iliac Bay settled down, foreign ships were not welcome in these waters.

"Where can I go, then?" I asked. He pulled out a chart and showed me several routes around the bay.

"Daggerfall and Sentinel are the closest major cities a person can get to from here." They were both bad choices, I knew. "Another one from Wayrest goes to Pothago tonight... let's see... Isle of Balfiera every Mondas, if you're interested." I shook my head.

I pored over the map with him. "What do you know about the royalty of Wayrest? I'd like to deal a bit with persons of influence, if you get my meaning." I didn't know what I was insinuating, but it got my point across.

"Wayrest is... an unusual case. The king is Eadwyre, and he's fiercely loyal to his own self. He's married to a Dark Elf named Barenziah. They have three children of mixed marriages... It's a bit complex, but to be short in speaking, they rarely deal with outsiders and hire no mercenaries. People who fail to cover their tracks among the royal family tend to meet the guillotine in short order."

I wasn't ready for that level of politics. Nor was I sure I ever wanted to be. "Okay, different question. If you had your choice of destinations, where would you choose to live?"

He pointed near Wayrest, a little to the west. "Menevia. Beautiful place. Right by the seaside, temperate climate, and they benefit from Wayrest's bountiful economy without suffering any of their politics. Ships head from Sentinel over there every other day. And if you're a mage as I suppose most elves to be, they have a thriving set of guilds over there you can take advantage of."

"Well, you seem to know what you're talking about," I said as I stepped back. He laughed again, "As I should! The head of the merchants' council has to have seen most of the bay, wouldn't you think?"

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Before purchasing my fare, I sold the goods I had picked up on my journey. I had made a nice profit, but it still wasn't worth the trip. I then picked up a few books to read and returned to the palace.

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"If you're ready, boarding starts at sundown. We can have you teleported there as soon as you're ready, cart and all. The council pays the guild the cost of teleportation, but you'll need 175 gold as your fare to Menevia." I considered it a pittance, and left immediately.

Though I was lucky enough to land a ship the same day, I was less lucky with the choice of ship. The fare was cheap since there was nowhere to sleep; the brig was filled to the brim with merchants' cargo, including my own with Ancano. I set up a cot on the deck and took up my old routine of reading, sleeping, and keeping out of the laborers' way. The layout was almost identical to my arrival in Hammerfell. Had it not been for the passenger ship I took to Pothago, I might have doubted their existence in this strange land.

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We arrived in the city of Menevia at sunrise. I took a deep breath and patted Ancano's head.

"All right boy, I hope we know what we're doing..."

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