Chapter 5 The Comonna Tong
Last Seed 22
I opened my eyes to see the Balmora Mages guild appear around me. The process of instant travel was a bit dizzying, but far superior to all other forms of transportation. I stepped into the lower hall and was greeted by Masalinie Merian, the guild guide. It had been over a month since I had visited Balmora. Even then I had never explored the town, but I knew it well enough for what my purposes demanded. It was morning, and I was in Balmora to meet with members of the Thieves guild. After what had happened in Ald-ruhn, Edwinna thought it best that someone meet with the other guilds to make sure that a collaboration against the Mages Guild did not occur. It didn’t seem to be such a high priority to me, but I didn’t have too much experience with the Thieves Guild, and Edwinna said that it would be a simple task. That was yet to be seen. The Balmora guild was apparently situated in a local bar called the South Wall. I knew no members personally, but I was told to ask for one by the name of Sugar-Lips Habasi. Probably some devious, skooma addicted mongrel of a Khajiit, but, nonetheless, that was who I had to meet with.
I made my way throughout the small city, stopping at a few shops. I discovered little of interest. I then crossed the Odai River to the lower class district of Balmora. Without trouble, I found the South Wall Cornerclub. I opened the door and entered the building. Inside were two male Wood Elves conversing about something, surely crime related. “Excuse me, do either of you know where I can find Sugar-Lips Habasi?” I asked them. They stopped their chattering and looked at one another quickly, as if checking with each other about something.
“What do you need to speak to her for?” one responded.
“I simply need to talk with her about… guild business.” They both paused, and remained silent for a moment. Then, the one that had originally spoken up did so again.
“Well, if she were here, you could talk to her. But she’s not. Sorry.” Frustration.
“Well, tell me then, where is she now?”
“Hla-Oad. But you won’t be able to find her there. She has some… guild business of her own to attend to.” I sensed sarcasm.
“And when will she be back?”
“Oh, probably a few days from now.” I collected my thoughts for a brief moment.
“All right then. Who else around here handles business?” The Elf thought for a brief moment of his own before responding.
“Phane Rielle. Downstairs.” I left the two Wood Elves to their conversation and walked down the stairs into the basement level. It was dark, and there were quite a few people downstairs. By the name “Phane”, I assumed that the elf was referring to a Breton. I then approached the only Breton in the room.
“Phane Rielle?” I asked, politely. The older gentleman standing behind the bar smiled.
“At your service,” he said, politely. I had no desire to continue with anymore banter, so I got right to the point.
“Hello, my name is Magnus the Greymind, a member of the Mages Guild. I’m here to speak to you about guild matters.” He nodded.
“Yes, well, I suppose I could take care of any matters at hand while Habasi is away.” He smiled again, this time, in a slightly odd manner. “What is it you’re inquiring about?”
“Well…” I began. “…as you may’ve heard, there was a minor confrontation involving the Thieves and Mages guilds in Ald-ruhn.” He nodded, and continued grinning sheepishly. “So, I’m simply here to assure that the ill will of Aengoth’s faction will not influence your guild in a negative manner.” Phane Rielle maintained his smile, and seemed to be thinking about what I had just said.
“Hmm, so you’re simply trying to show your esteem for us, then. Well, your request is certainly reasonable. There’s no need risking any feuds over a single incident.” He took my appeal well. “If, however, you are sincere in strengthening the bond between the Balmora Mages and Thieves Guilds, there are things you could do to assist us in return.” He reached down to the edge of the bar bedside him and raised a delicate looking glass to his lips. He slowly sipped the unidentified alcohol. His smile continued as he swallowed the drink. He then gave a mild exclamation of satisfaction. It was disgusting. I squinted my eyes slightly, as he had been keeping his own on me the entire time.
“And…what is it that your guild needs assistance with?” I asked.
“Hmm, well… just a small matter involving one of the Thieves Guilds enemies: the Comonna Tong.” The Comonna Tong. I had only been in Morrowind for about three months, but I had heard much of how brutal and treacherous the native elven crime ring was. The small task was becoming increasingly dangerous. “Now, now. Don’t fret. It’s nothing too risky. Surely nothing that someone such as yourself can’t handle.”
Phane briefed me on what needed to be done. It seemed that the Comonna Tong had attacked a traveling companion of the guild, and had stolen a cargo load of items that was to be smuggled to the mainland of Morrowind. Due to recent Comonna Tong attacks, their numbers were thin. They sought someone with magical assistance. I, along with a few members of the guild, was to enter the hideout where the group of Tong thugs had been holed up, and retrieve what was stolen. We left that afternoon.
The group of thieves that had chosen to come with me consisted of the two Wood Elves that I had previously encountered, and a female Khajiit. I had no desire to converse with them, so while they asked for my name, I did not ask for theirs. As we walked through a light rain, the two elves chatted on and on about things I had little interest in. Stolen diamonds, prison ships, and Imperial conspiracies. The female Khajiit did not join in their conversation. She, like myself, remained silent.
We reached the bandits den in a matter of hours. By then the rain become heavier The Commona Tong operatives had found residence in the Lleran family ancestral vaults. There were many ancestral vaults and tombs across Vvardenfell. Righteous minded Dark Elves were very strict about those who entered the ancestral tombs. Only those of a specific priest caste and those descended from the Lleran family were allowed to enter that tomb. Of course, like my thief companions, I did not concern myself with such religious qualms.
One of the elves opened the door. I followed, and the rest followed behind me. The inside of the tomb was dark and dingy, only lit by a few torches. There was an unpleasant stench that filled the descending hallway. We slowly moved forward, wary of any Comonna Tong members that may be lurking nearby. When the hallway first forked into separate directions, we were faced with another descending hallway on the right, a locked door to our left, and a long pitfall directly in front of us. I could’ve used a slowfall spell to safely descend down the chasm, and the three thieves seemed more than eager to attempt picking the lock, but we decided to take the path that required the least effort. It wasn’t until we got to the end of the new hallway that we found any signs of activity.
As we rounded a corner, my three companions all stopped very suddenly and each raised one hand to signal a halt. I was actually impressed by their aural acuity. It took me another ten seconds or so to catch on to what they were hearing; humming. It was the voice of a Dark Elf, very low pitched and gruff. He was humming a song that seemed like a nursery rhyme. Very simple and soft. It seemed somewhat unfitting of a Commona Tong thug. The elf in front of me quickly peered around the corner to catch a glimpse of him. The two elves then squatted down and whispered something to each other very quickly. The one that had been following behind me reached down into the small pack that he carried with him and pulled out a rolled up cloth. He moved out into the hallway, looking directly at the Dark Elf that the Khajiit and I had not yet laid eyes on. We slowly followed him.
What then took place, happened very quickly. The Wood Elf took a few quiet steps up to the Comonna Tong lackey, whose back was turned to us. He then, very suddenly, leapt up against the wall that was closest and covered the elf’s mouth and nose at the same time. He applied his weight onto the shoulders of the criminal, and pushed his feet of the wall, while keeping his grip applied. It happened very fast and he actually seemed to be walking along the side of the wall for a moment. Whatever he had applied to that rolled up cloth of his, was surely a powerful, noxious agent, for the Dark Elf fell to his knees very quickly. It was only about five seconds later that he was unconscious. We approached him, still gripping onto the body of the elf. “Poison?” I asked quietly.
“Just a little recipe that puts people to sleep. No need to use your weapons if you don’t have to.” he responded.
“That was quite an impressive display of stealth,” I added.
“Thanks,” he said, with a smirk on his face.
We left the elf asleep and continued on to the door that was closed in front of us. I pulled my broadsword out. The elves did the same with their shortswords. The Khajiit had no weapon, assumably relying on her claws like many Khajiit did. I tightly grasped the door handle, and took a deep breath before proceeding. I then twisted the handle and pushed the door open with my shoulder, as the four of us burst in as quickly as possible. Our premeditation did not go in vain, for inside were three Dark Elves, brandishing weapons of their own. They rose to their feet as quickly as they could, but they were not fast enough to counter our attacks. I rushed at the center Tong member, and knocked his blade away with the length of my own. I then thrust my elbow up against his solar plexis, and grabbed his right wrist, forcing him down. The two elves behind me confronted the other two, although with not nearly as much aggression. While I had pulled my opponent down and forced him to submit, the Khajiit sprung onto another and pulled him to the ground with some Khajiit wrestling lock. The four of us easily overwhelmed the three of them with our numbers, and the element of surprise. One of the Wood Elves pulled out several lengths of rope from his pack and used it to tie up the Comonna Tong members. “You and your rope. Finally came in handy, eh, Arathor?” the elf said, with a smirk. The other laughed mildly, and said nothing. One thing I noticed about the behaviour of the Wood Elves, was that they were exceedingly lighthearted. They both seemed to be naturally jovial, and only acted otherwise when a situation demanded their attention. It seemed to be nothing but immaturity. The Khajiit was much quieter, and less friendly, which I didn’t mind. We left the three Dark Elves, not finding the stolen goods, as they cursed our names in their native language. N’wah’s and P’tah’s. I knew not what those words meant, but surely they were something offensive. We made our way back to the locked door, and the chasm.
“Can you bypass the lock?” I asked the three of them.
“Charranirr will try.” the Khajiit responded. As she kneeled down against the door, the two elves peered over the edge and looked down to the hallway below. The fall wasn’t too far, but it would definitely damage anyone who tried to land it.
“You think I could make it?” one elf asked the other.
“Maybe. You wanna try?” he responded, with a smile. He looked across, and seemed to be considering it. The Khajiit continued working on the lock. The Elf stepped back, and looked as if he was about to try.
“I don’t think we should be concerning ourselves with this,” I said. “If you fall, you’ll probably injure yourself or alert any Comonna Tong nearby.” They both turned their heads and looked up at me, with a surprising expression of sense and concern on their faces.
“Oh well, what the well.” one childishly sang.
“Besides…” the other began. “…you never would’ve made it.” The other just laughed. Moments later, the lock turned and opened. We went through the door, which lead us around the pitfall. The following hallway curved to the left and led us lower into the structure. We were then faced with yet another locked door. Charranirr again went to work at the lock. This time it did not take nearly as long. I knew nothing about locks and traps, but I could tell by how careful she was being opening the door, that it was surely a difficult practice. Although, I knew that I could have just as easily opened the door using my magicka. We braced ourselves for another battle as the door swung open. We received more of a fight than we had expected, however.
As soon as the door had revealed them, two of the five Dark Elves let their arrows fly directly at us. They surely had heard us picking the lock and had enough time to prepare. Luckily for the Wood Elves, their height did not put them in critical danger. I however, was not as fortunate. While one arrow plunged into my ribs, the other made contact in my right shoulder. I was knocked back, and fell down to one knee. The two archers readied more arrows and aimed for a more precise strike on us. With a quick, desperate dose of magicka, I cast a strong spell on burden on all the Comonna Tong members. The five of them felt gravity’s multiplied effects and collapsed to their knees. I couldn’t move my right arm, and I felt my muscles weakened. I could barely get up, let alone fight. The rest of melee was up to the three thieves; a disheartening notion.
Charranirr quickly lunged at one Tong member, grabbing his throat with her claws and making a rough slice across his jugular. The two elves rushed in with short blades ready. While one struck his target, making a fatal stab, the other was not so lucky. The remaining three Dark Elves regained their mobility and had their weapons ready. The unsuccessful Wood Elf was grabbed and thrown across the room. Charrinarr was struck down from the side by the flat edge of a well placed war-hammer. All three surviving Tong members had quickly overwhelmed my three companions. Knowing that their chances of survival were slim at best, I pulled myself up and gathered as much magicka that I could from within. “Exanimus Adsecula Ambulo!” I shouted. In less than one second, a command was sent to reaches of the Outer Realms.
From a bright flash of light and a billow of sulfurous smelling smoke, emerged a skeletal minion. A favoured spell of mine. The undead warrior stood still, awaiting a command. “You!” I shouted. “Attack those three Dark Elves!” The three elves stopped their pummeling, and turned to see what my shouting was about. They were shocked to see the skeletal minion running full speed at them, bearing a shield and a rapier. The warrior plunged his blade straight into the heart of one elf. I noticed the skeleton’s jaw open, as if to scream a war cry, although it was without a voice. While the three thieves slowly regained themselves, my undead servant advanced upon another Tong member. His blade slashed at the elf’s stomach, and then again across his chest. The third, untouched mer swung his hammer with another well placed strike, and shattered the shoulder of the minion to pieces. His rapier dropped, and his attack halted. The brief silence only lasted a few seconds however, for the skeleton quickly turned and lunged at the one who had struck him. Without a weapon, the warrior was forced to apply his bone fingers to the eyes of the elf. A horrific scream filled the hallway, as the minion ravenously tore into the mer’s face. By then, both of my elven cohorts had restored their fighting form, and finished off the last two Tong members. The Wood elves stood in a disgusted awe, as my minion continued puncturing the skin of the Dark Elf, after death, to assure his cadaver status. I had been sent an unrelenting warrior.
We soon found the Thieves guild’s stolen goods inside the nearby tombs. All that was the left was the painful process of retrieving the arrows out of my bloodied body. A simple task, Edwinna? A simple task indeed.