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Jacurutu
Developer Emeritus
13 Feb 2004

Location: Stonefalls

Ok, it's done, but I'm not entirely sure if I should go past where I ended . . . I'm hoping that the ending of the story implies what happens from there, but maybe it doesn't. Also, please don't forget to take note of the in-game author. Tell me what y'all think.

Ghanel

Ghanel held his breath, waiting for the slave guard's footsteps to pass. Finally, he exhaled and shifted his weight slightly from one foot to another. With agility to rival that of his quarry, he leapt up between two buildings, making the feat seem simple. He landed and rolled into a crouched position, the folds of his clothing matching the midnight sky; he paused momentarily to acquaint himself with his target. "No more that fifty feet more," he thought to himself. "Almost there."

Ghanel pulled a vial of dark liquid from his embroidered belt. Plugging his nose to the foul scent, he gulped down the thick, bitter concoction and waited for a moment. First, his hands faded away, then his arms, and then his shoulders; slowly, his brew took effect throughout his body. He'd have only a minute to act now, but that would be all he needed.

This Dunmer flew as a wraith across the slouching Dres structures, his feet barely sounding as he graced each roof. He leapt across the final alley and slid through a small, makeshift vent which exited into the ceiling of the Dres slave auction house. All the beasts inside were asleep.

Landing softly in middle of the room, Ghanel wrapped his long fingers lovingly around the leather-bound hilt of his hand-crafted chitin dagger. He plucked a heavy iron key ring from a wooden desk near the main entrance of the building and then gently turned the lock of each door. Inside every holding pen, he pulled his blade silently across a sleeping throat. In a matter of minutes, nothing remained but five draining bodies, all Argonian, all with looks of shock and horror written on their two-mouthed visages, one mouth always tongueless.


"Last night makes thirteen," said a spindly Dres nobleman, a mer charged with maintaining an orderly flow of slaves in and out of the capital. "And now the council is becoming concerned. Needless to say we don't want their involvement in the matter."

Lethur Alrams sat on the edge of a table, rubbing his hands down the length of his silken pants, his face wrought in consternation. "I know, I know," he replied in his quiet rasp of a voice. "Always the same style of murder, always a slave."

"Yes, so I've been told," the lanky Dunmer said. He heaved a deep sigh before continuing. "Lethur, you know that I'd never ask something of you unless it was very important, yes?" He didn't wait for an answer. "You see, my position is in danger. My sources have informed me that the council does not think this situation would have arisen under more capable hands. I need this matter resolved, but there are few I'd trust to satisfactorily put an end to these matters. I must put my faith in someone close and able . . . and I believe that you would be perfect for this assignment. Of course your reparations would be . . . worthy of your effort."

Lethur smiled vaguely, the edges of his thin mouth turning upwards ever so slightly. This Dunmer only called when he wanted something; everyone knew that. But the rewards were always worth the effort. "Very well," Lethur said in the same voice. "I will find the one responsible for these crimes."

The nobleman smiled widely, his dark red eyes gleaming in joy. "Thank you for your services. I trust that these unfortunate matters will come to a hasty conclusion."

"Of course."



Tear. The city had certainly come to fulfill its name. The Dres traded in blood here; thousands of terrified lizards have passed through these sordid holding pens, bound to one another and breathing each other's fear. I think that these beasts are at least capable of that most primal emotion, the reaction to uncertainty and change. I've seen it in their eyes, the sharpness and focus and hate it gives them.

In this fear, they are more alive than any of us. They alone understand the basest of their own nature. I've seen some of them go mad; they flail and scream and fight and cry, and the guards enshroud them with nets and spears, take their heads, leave the bodies on top of the pens for their brethren to bear witness . . . spread a little more fear.

They've tasted life, and I envy them.


How does one find such a secretive murderer? I hardly knew where to begin, so I started with the basics. Most murderers or would-be murderers tend to give patronage to the less reputable parts of this city: taverns, brothels, and the like.

For several days, and in the wake of several more murders, I made little progress. However, my luck soon changed; I came at last to a particularly wicked little tavern called the "Dirty Skull." Wrapping a worn, brown cloak around my shoulders, I slid into a seat on the far corner of the room, permitting myself a view of all the tavern's happenings. I called over the barmaid and quietly ordered a bottle of flin; I could never stand the unrefined native drinks.

There, I watched and waited, my ears attuned to each conversation. Dusk slipped into night; I still had overheard nothing out of the ordinary, and my mind began to wander. Who was this killer? What was his motivation? Certainly, he was no Argonian; in general, they are a fiercely loyal and tribally oriented race, and they would never slaughter their own as this hunter had. A Khajiit was just as unlikely; the beastfolk have shared a fate for generations and have in turn become closer to one another. The culprit had to be sired from one of the noble races.

Suddenly, I heard something, a few words just above a whisper in a deep growl as only one of the cats can muster. "You've heard of this one, my friend? The Dunmer who moves as a shadow? We think he does not discriminate between slaves and free ones. You should leave this town quickly, good friend."

A Dunmer? No self-respecting Dunmer would disrupt the slave trade; Morrowind relies so heavily upon it! Perhaps this murderer had a personal grudge against my employer; I would have to speak to him tomorrow.



And yet, I pity them. Each moment is a new desperation in their world, and they lack the capacity to comprehend their plight. Just as a caged netch will never breed and will merely decay in its confines, so I have seen in these Argonians. In the dark pits of Tear, there is no hope, no two lights twinkling on the edge of the hazy horizon. There is only the smell of a brother's blood, the stench of a sister's corpse rotting in the jungle's heat.

We've all felt the edge of desperation from time to time, some more than others. But no one has ever felt the desperation of an Argonian chosen by lot and dragged from the group of captured escapees to have the front of his snout hacked away with a blunted axe, or the quiet despair of a newly fertile Argonian female taken out at night by a group of guards reeking of liquor. It's either her or her younger sister, and she knows it.

Tonight, I released both of them from their suffering. My blade has become their absolution; it is their freedom.


After speaking with my employer – and learning of two more murders – I paid a visit to a Morag Tong connection of mine. There was certainly a level of professionalism in all of these killings, and the guild rarely was unaware of assassins operating in their territory. I met him down the road from his inconspicuous little house, and we walked as we spoke.

"The guild is concerned about this," he said quietly, keeping his eyes (as all assassins do) on the people nearby. "No members have left the guild recently, no one has been receiving any training from our members or any known guild associates."

"And I've heard that he is a Dunmer," I said.

"What? A Dunmer? Disgusting . . . nothing sickens me more than a traitor. Well, as far as I know, there have been only a few Dunmer coming into the city as of late, hardly anyone capable of these crimes; they've been nothing more than farmers and a couple of upstart slave-traders."

"Slave-traders?"

"I know what you're thinking, but I'd say no. They're both fat and poor, but they're at least smart enough to try and keep the attention of their larger rivals off themselves. No, they lack both the means and the motivation," my companion said. After a moment of thought, he continued, "I think it must someone who's been in the city for some time already, someone who knows the ins and outs of it. And he'd have to be self-trained; no one has been training any deadly assassins lately," he chuckled lightly.

"I appreciate your aid," I said, slipping him a small pouch of coins and turning away. A self-trained assassin? – this investigation was becoming more and more intriguing.



Now they search for me, try to find "this murderous Dunmer coward." They cannot possibly see these Argonians as I do; they hardly can bring themselves to look at what they have done. I've watched plantation owners treat their guars better than the Argonians responsible for caring for them, seen cowering groups of raped girls huddled and wet-eyed.

For these lizards, sentience is dangerous. To some degree (albeit a rather small one), they understand their plight, and this makes it all the more terrible for them. They hate us, and they would see all of us dead – our wives, our children – if they could. The slavers do not recognize that I am their salvation as much as I am the salvation of these Argonians; our two races will never live in harmony.


Not many citizens of Tear had the funds or the time to hone their skills as the murderer must have to kill so skillfully. After visiting the scenes of the murders several times, I came to a conclusion: the only evidence he had left was a lack of evidence. He'd dusted his trail as only a very clever and deft killer could have.

I'd interviewed the one slave who had escaped as well, but the stupid creature could hardly speak. All I managed to get out of him was that the killer was finely-dressed and that he killed with Daedric tanto. Also, he added that the killer seemed to appear out of thin air, probably the effect of an invisibility potion ending. Obviously, the killer had to be from the upper echelons of society; he had to be someone who could afford the time and money to devote himself to this.

I realized – with a rising sickness in my stomach – that the murderer must be a noble. It was nauseating to think such a thing, but it was the only option left. I decided to continue my search by interviewing the servants of nobles as to their employers' activities.



Part of what terrifies me about these creatures is their resilience. They've been mistreated and oppressed by our noble race for countless generations, and yet they continue to survive and adapt to new cruelties. We are inadvertently creating a large group that has seen exactly what we are capable of, a group which has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Like trapped animals, a time will come when they lash out against us and try to destroy everything we have built.

I act for the sake of preventing this. I hold Morrowind and its people more dearly than anything else, and no matter the cost, I will work to save it. If that means the death of some lizards, so be it; I would gladly sacrifice even my own life to save my people.


One by one, I bribed and stole my way to the truth; I examined the activities of the Dres nobles and their servants, checking for motives and opportunities. One by one, all of my suspects proved clean of sin. The list narrowed and eventually disappeared. No one seemed to have both the means and the motives to do what the killer had done.

Who could have done this? Had I missed someone, overlooked some glaringly obvious piece of evidence? All of my searching seemed for naught. And then, suddenly – everything was clear. It was so simple, his deception so transparent. I went at once to my employer.



There was a knock at the door, and Lethur entered without my invitation. I looked up from my papers and smiled wanly at him, but he did not return my gesture.

"Why?" he asked quietly, his face poorly masking the flame of rage burning in his mind. "Why did you do it?"

I laughed. "You wouldn't understand, wouldn't even listen if I told you."

"The deception – why the deception?" he asked, his voice on the cusp of a yell. His left hand clenched very near to his dagger, but he abstained from withdrawing it.

"Come, now, you already know the answer to that. I had to keep the council satisfied that I was fulfilling my duties – you took less time to figure things out than I had hoped, but I believe that I have done enough for now."

"Enough?! It is your duty to protect the interests of your city and your House. They let you regulate the slave-trade for the capital itself, and you turn and betray them! You are a disgrace to Mephala and all of the gods!"


In a flash, I whipped my dagger from my belt and ripped it through Ghanel's chest. To think that my very employer had been responsible for the murders . . .

But as he sat there, smiling, dying, he whispered through the blood gathering in his throat, "Take the journal there . . . from my shelf." He directed his eyes to a nearly full bookshelf, but only one book didn't have dust on its pages. "Take from it what you will," he said. "I have done what was necessary." Then, in a final spasm and a cough of blood, his head fell forward and he was dead.


-Written by Lethur Alrams
Post Sun Aug 21, 2005 6:21 am Send private message       Send e-mail       Reply with quote                   up  
Earl
Developer Emeritus
21 Aug 2003

Location: Dune

With agility to rival that of his quarry, he leapt up between two buildings, making the feat seem simple.
Makes it seem simple to whom? Maybe 'practiced ease' would work.

"No more that fifty feet more,"
No more than more? Say it ain't so!

I need this matter resolved, but there are few I'd trust to satisfactorily put an end to these matters.
And matters matter. Affair, situation... clusterfuck? Smile

Of course your reparations would be . . . worthy of your effort.
Reparations? Odd word to choose when talking about slaves. Compensation, maybe. Effort is also used again shortly. Compensation commensurate to the task?

I will find the one responsible for these crimes.
It'd be more dehumanizing to say 'for this destruction of property'.

My blade has become their absolution; it is their freedom.
The only freedom Morrowind has to offer their kind.

skills as the murderer must have to kill so skillfully
Skills skillfully. Maybe he could hone his craft, or kill artfully?

he killed with Daedric tanto.
With... a... daedric tanto? You also don't note what a rare and blatantly overpowered weapon it is. Or have Ghanel hesitate to try him in combat, when he's such a 1337 killer with such a bad ass weapon.

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I have kleptomania, but when it gets really bad, I take something for it.
Post Wed Aug 24, 2005 4:28 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Haplo
Lead Developer
30 Aug 2003

Location: Celibacy

This is MW-specific, and as such cannot be added to Hammerfell BoT.

Jacurutu has expressed interest in editing this so that it qualifies for Hammerfell BoT.
Post Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:32 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Haplo
Lead Developer
30 Aug 2003

Location: Celibacy

I'm going to lock and Archive this, next time I'm online, unless Jac comes in and says something.
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[06/19/2012 04:15AM] +Cat table stabbing is apparently a really popular sport in morrowind

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Post Thu May 11, 2006 1:27 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Jacurutu
Developer Emeritus
13 Feb 2004

Location: Stonefalls

I don't think that this can be edited to really fit well in BoH. Please archive it.
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Only the prospect of death makes life worth living.
Post Wed May 17, 2006 10:52 pm Send private message       Send e-mail       Reply with quote                   up  
Xui'al
Developer Emeritus
29 Mar 2005

Location: Wastelands of Canada.

To the archives!
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'What if man is not really a scoundrel - man in general, I mean, the whole race of mankind - then all the rest is prejudice, simply artificial terrors and there are no barriers and it's all as it should be.'
Post Wed May 17, 2006 10:53 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
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