Chapter 9 Impractical Magic
Last Seed 25
As I breathed deeply, I could feel the magicka flow through my body. A small wisp of flame appeared in my right, outstretched hand. Estirdalin then praised me. “Good Magnus, good. Now, control the flame. Change its size and shape,” she said to me. I again breathed deeply and focused on the center of the ball of fire. It grew slightly larger and then stretched out to appear like a ring. “Excellent. You’ve gained a steady control over the Fire Bite. Now, try frost,” Estirdalin said to me. The training continued for another hour.
Estirdalin was a High Elf woman with a high standing at the Mages Guild. She was a powerful sorcerer and, being older than myself, had much more experience. Her skill in the schools of Destruction, Conjuration, and Mysticism were unparalleled in Balmora. Although, because of my natural aptitude with Alteration magic, I nearly equaled her in that aspect. She was also a kind woman, and I got along with her well. In exchange for fetching a few items from Suran, she offered to give me a lesson in the magic of Destruction. After finishing with Estirdalin, I made my leave. She had a friend in Suran that was a renowned alchemist. Estirdalin needed several high quality potions.
As I walked out of the guildhall and down past RaVirr’s tradehouse, I ran into Procyon. He was a guild member with rank; equal to myself, who lived in Sadrith Mora. “Magnus!” he called to me. We spoke quickly, and discussed little of importance. It was good to see him though. I then continued on to the silt strider dock. I definitely preferred the guild guide service at the Mages Guild, but unfortunately, Suran was a town without a guild, so the strider would have to do. As I walked up the stairs to board the giant beast, I was confronted by yet, someone else.
“Excuse me,” the gruff sounding, Khajiit voice said to me. As I turned, I saw a large, heavily armored, male Khajiit. “Am I speaking to Magnus the Greymind?” he asked.
“Yes. What do you want, Khajiit?” I responded, with minor apprehension. The beastman looked slightly confused, or halted in his words.
“If I could, I would like to sit down and speak with Magnus the Greymind. About important, personal matters.” After he had said that, I was beginning to concern myself with his intentions. I gave him a somewhat vague response.
“Well, I’m just on my way out of town on business, so, perhaps you can contact me later.” I then turned to continue my walk up the flight of steps. His persistence was evident, however, and he followed me up onto the platform.
“I’ll make the Nord a deal, if it likes. Allow me to pay for both our fares, to wherever it is you’re going. And then when we arrive, simply sit down with me and let me explain myself.” I was reluctant to agree, due to his state of being a Khajiit, but I did nonetheless. It didn’t seem like I would be putting myself in any harm.
“All right. And I’m heading to Suran. Your name is?” I inquired.
“Xighden Lienx,” he exclaimed, reaching out his hand to be shaken. I looked at his hand, and looked him in the eye, then finally extending my own.
We boarded the silt strider and made our way to Suran. I asked him what his matters were, but he seemed reluctant to speak in the presence of the ferryman. Along the way, we made a slightly more thorough introduction. He was in the Fighters Guild, and had recently arrived from the Imperial province. As we sat and waited for our arrival, I noticed how he clutched his axe and how his fingers seemed restless along its base. The incessant tapping continued throughout the majority of the trip. It was quite annoying.
When we arrived in Suran, Xighden lead me to a tavern called “The House of Earthly Delights”. It was a shady place, with promiscuous, female dancers and drugs all about. The lower level was quite highly concentrated with customers, but after Xighden quickly spoke with the woman behind the bar, we ascended the stairs in found a smaller, empty room. There were musical instruments about, and a few tables and chairs. As we sat down, I found myself actually quite anxious as to what he was going to say.
“Does Magnus have any history with the Imperial government?” the Khajiit asked me. I was a bit startled by the forwardness of his question.
“Well, I’m not necessarily sure as to what you’re asking, but…no, nothing that I can think of.” Xighden then remained silent for a moment, as if planning another question.
“I…I will show the Nord something, important. I hope that he is good at keeping secrets, though.” My curiosity was too significant for me to argue. I agreed not to speak of whatever it was that he was about to show me. He pulled out several papers and gave them to me to read. At first, they simply seemed like basic orders to an Imperial officer. I continued reading, however, and they turned out to be much more. I found my name, as well as Xighden’s and several others, to be mentioned on a list of invaluable subjects. It was the basis of some sort of plot relating to a Dunmer superstition. We were all to somehow affect a pre-ordained storyline and satisfy a local legend. Along with the letter, were specific details of the release of three prisoners. Xighden was one of them. More interestingly, I found material about myself and a plan of how to get me to Morrowind. It mentioned the name Ocato. I was shocked, and very skeptical. I knew as well as anyone else that the Imperials had ways of manipulating people for their wishes, but the information Xighden had given me seemed impossible.
“Where did you get this?” I immediately asked him.
“From an Imperial office in Seyda Neen,” he replied. His response seemed blatantly criminal, but I did not question it.
“So, what do you have to say know?” I asked.
“I don’t exactly know,” he began. “I just know that there are certain Imperial forces at work trying to manipulate us, as well as others. I think that we should investigate, and make sure that we are ready for whatever plans they might have for us.”
I sat and reflected upon the recent information. As I thought about it, the reason that I had come to Morrowind was because of a charge from Ocato, the Head of Tamriel’s Mages Guild. He had sent me to aid Edwinna Elbert in the study of Dwemer ruins. His orders seemed genuine, but, I couldn’t be sure of anything specifically. I also thought of Prophiter and Xighden’s releases. It must’ve been more than coincidence that they were both released at the same time, and that they both came into contact with me soon after. “I recognize some names on that list,” I said to Xighden. His ears perked up, probably with interest.
"How?” he asked.
“I met Prophiter three days ago. Know that I think of it, I also vaguely remember him talking about being released from his Imperial prison ship, and being assigned orders. The other is Lemnos, the High Elf. I distinctly remember him from around the time that I arrived in Vvardenfell. He had a respectable standing in House Telvanni, and was an ambitious and powerful wizard.”
“And, where do these two live?” Xighden asked.
“I last saw Prophiter at the Thieves Guild in Vivec, but as for Lemnos; I don’t know. I only know that at the time, about three months ago, his patron in Telvanni House was Master Aryon, who lives in Tel Vos.” The two of us sat and contemplated upon the subject for a brief period of time. The idea of such a conspiracy seemed almost ludicrous, but I couldn’t argue with the recent happenings. I also agreed with Xighden in the fact that the two of us needed to investigate. “All right…” I began. “I’m not sure as to what extent this goes, but I can’t argue with that fact that there is some sort of plan in effect. So I think that we should find the people on this list, and gather what information we can.”
“Yes. As well as avoid contact with the Imperial Legion,” Xighden added. We spoke a bit more, and made plans to travel to Vivec, in search of Prophiter. He was not my prime idea of helpful, or trustworthy, but we had the best chance of finding him. Not to mention the fact that I barely knew the Khajiit Xighden Lienx. He seemed equally deceptive. The circumstances that I had found myself in were definitely dubious, but I wanted to be as prepared as I could be in case they turned out to be more than just coincidences.
After we had formulated our current plan, we rose to our feet and descended to the lower level. I still had to stop by at the alchemist’s shop to pick up Estirdalin’s things. That task suddenly seemed quite unimportant. Nevertheless, though. As we reached the main floor, we both immediately noticed that the room was unnaturally empty. Only one man was still there, leaning back in his chair, completely soused.
“Where did everyone go?” Xighden asked the man. He managed to mutter an audible response.
“Outshside…Orc…hudder.” he drunkenly exclaimed. We opened the tavern door and entered the main plaza of the town. “Outshside…Orc…hudder” suddenly began to make sense as we saw a large crowd, all gathered around an Orc. Not just an Orc, though. This beastman was completely covered in exquisite orcish amror and wielded a huge claymore. By the gleam of the blade and hilt I could tell it was enchanted. He stood over the bloodied body of a Nord. He was aggressively shouting at all the locals, who were too afraid of him to help the injured Nord.
“Someone! Anyone! Rise to the challenge!” he shouted. By the aggressive tone and volume of his voice, he seemed quite insane.
“I know him. That Nord,” Xighden said. The Khajiit then walked directly up to the fallen man, with no fear of the Orc, and began to pull him to the side, where locals attended to his wounds.
“The cat has pounced! Do you dare to give me death?” the Orc shouted, as he lowered his shoulders and prepared for battle.
“If the Orc wants a fight, then I would be pleased to give it one.” Xighden stated with a smile. The Orc raised his huge sword and spoke.
“Good. This is Umbra, and you will soon know it well.” I wasn’t sure if Xighden knew what he had got himself into, so I stepped nearer, and watched. He seemed fully aware of his situation, though, and pulled a silver war axe out from the leather straps on his back. The two positioned themselves in battle stances, and circled each other slowly. There were murmurs from around the crowd, and most people backed further away. I wondered how such a dangerous event could take place, until I noticed several Hlaalu guard bodies piled against the stairwell. I placed my hand on my broadsword, lest the situation get out of hand, as the two of them then engaged one another.
With impressive speed, the Orc charged at Xighden, swinging his sword; Umbra, in a figure eight-like motion. With the length of the blade and the ferocity of his attack, Xighden was forced to quickly back away. He managed to land a good strike with his axe though, knocking the claymore away. With equally impressive speed, the Khajiit pounced on the Orc, knocking him back with a strike from both knees. The ferocious Orc stumbled, but soon righted his stance. As Xighden charged at the lowered beastman, the Orc very suddenly swung his shoulders around, his sword following soon after. The arc of his blade was so tremendous, that the catman was nearly beheaded. Instead, he barely escaped by falling straight down to his back. It was only a moment until the Orc was thrusting the claymore down upon his enemy. Xighden, again, nearly found death, as he rolled out of the way and flipped himself up to his feet. As the sword met the ground, it pierced deep into the tiled plaza floor. A gasp was let out by the crowd, in realization of what would’ve happened, had it met its target. By that time I had drawn my blade, and was prepared to enter the battle, if necessary. The two of them continued in an intense struggle of sword swings, and axe strikes. Xighden’s bonemold shield saved him many times. Although, however the fight proceeded, the Orc always seemed to have the upper hand. I noticed that the look on the Khajiit’s face was one of fatigue. There was yet another overhand strike from the Orc, which Xighden blocked. They remained in a locked position for many seconds, to determine who had the greatest strength. It was quite even, as they both stared intensely at one another, until I noticed that Xighden’s stance lowered. He seemed to be weakened, and his knees bent slightly.
“You…will...die,” The Orc announced, as Xighden lost more of his stance. As it seemed that Xighden was about to be knocked back completely, he managed to perform a desperation maneuver; thrusting his axe and the claymore in one direction, and himself lunging to the other. He rolled away and quickly rose to his feet. While his weapon had been tossed to the side, the Orc still had a firm grip on his own. The Orc strode towards the unarmed Khajiit, and held his sword high. “You have failed to bring me death, Khajiit. Now, I will hand you yours,” The Orc boldly stated. Xighden stood ready, not yet moving, and cautious of the Orc’s length of range. The Orc seemed confident to finish Xighden off. I, however, and surely Xighden, would not allow that to happen. I stepped in and confronted the fanatical Orcish warrior.
“All right! Stop this. You’ve proven your expertise. Now go and seek your death elsewhere,” I exclaimed. As I spoke to him, he turned to face me. I can honestly say that I don’t become afraid easily, but the solid stance and unwavering demeanor of that Orc made me more nervous than I’d been for a long time.
“A Nord as well! I assume that by your weapon in hand you know that I’m prepared to kill you,” he exclaimed to me.
“I have no desire to fight you. But I won’t allow you to raise such murderous havoc.” As I spoke, Xighden, took advantage of the break in battle, and snuck around towards his axe and shield. The Orc continued to talk to me.
”Your words are meaningless, and one of us is destined to die…” he began “…you can decide who!” At that moment, he must have heard Xighden’s movement, for as his shouting ended, he spun around with a savage horizontal slash. Xighden wasn’t able to dodge the strike, and had to turn to take the damage with his right pauldron. The blade shattered his piece of armor and sliced open his shoulder. The Orc turned back to me as Xighden fell to the ground. “Now…whether it’s one of you or both, only your deaths or mine will end this.” I took a deep breath, and realized that this battle was just beginning. Anxiety.