AN ODE TO THE IMPERIAL PRISON SHIP
She’s barnacled and water logged below her tiller- wheel
To her prison hold of rotten wood and chains of hammered steel
The leg-irons chafed his ankles and he gasped for cleaner air
He bore a message from the Emperor in a guise beyond compare*
*Poetry paraphrased from the poem ‘The Galley-Slave’ by Rujard Kipling
“Urg! I do not like the arm pit quality air of this cesspool they call ‘Old Seyda Neen’,” said Lady Luck. “But duty calls and you, ugh, have been chosen by the holy Oracle of the Vestal Maidens of Akatosh to help the Emperor out of his current financial bind in Morrowind Province. You are, to phrase it bluntly, a hero on the cheap!”
“But enough of my petty discomforts. You Masterman K’thri-Dar have three options when you finish your charade in the Census and Excise Office.
First you can exercise your thievish nature and go back inside to steal the warehouse key, leave and talk to the town’s folk in the square, especially the weedy looking Bosmer and a sour looking Altmer lady who complains about a cave full of smugglers near the Stilt Strider. But don’t go to the cave yet. First deal with the Altmer store keeper and the Imperial legionnaire in the Trade House and ‘arm up’ properly before you go and ‘polish off the smuggler's cave (40% chance)
Secondly you could go straight to the Trade House and 'weapon up' and go hunting and grave robbing westward for experience and level ups before returning to old Seyda Neen (40% chance)
Or third you can do the towns people and the Trade House like in your first choice but then do what the Emperor wants and take the stilt strider direct to Balmora and go find Caius Cosades(20% chance).
She takes the current novel she’s reading (Crossways by Jacey Bedford) and flips it open to the back half. The last two digits of the page number are 54, and so when K’thri –Dar leaves the Centurion in the Census and Excise Office he will ‘bee line’ straight to the Trade House without stopping to talk with the guards or towns people.
That path suits him well. His body is stiff, and he’s lost much of his muscle tone and physical conditioning from his time in the Imperial City’s Prison cell and the prison ship. As for sharing small talk, who would want to talk to a mangy khajiit in filthy clothing and crawling with fleas? No, he’d get rid of these clothes, if the trade house lacked a bath he’s jump in the cold water of the Inner Sea to get rid of the dirt and vermin and climb into some clean clothes. Then he’d think about rejuvenating his body and skills along the hunting grounds to the west of Seyda Neen.
“Yes sir’ee so much for you, Mister High and Mighty Emperor.” He says to himself. “Don’t be counting on THIS ONE showing up in Balmora any time soon. Specially not after what you had done to this here poor little khajiit!”
Inside the Trade House he meets Arrille the Trade House proprietor. The buying and selling is done quickly with no talk small or otherwise. He emerges having shed all of his ‘acquisitions’ for a set of cheap but clean clothing, a chitin gauntlet (corrects a bug in the vanilla unarmored skill), two iron spears, a chitin bow with 100 chitin arrows to go with the dagger from the Census Office and the ‘princely sum of 10 Imperial septims.
He is ready to begin his rehabilitation program … well at least the physical part of it.
Claws for the mud crabs n’ kwama foragers, spears for the fish, n’ the bow for the scribs. Yeah! That’ll do her for the start. But … DANG! … there’s a body lying in the dirt!
The body, a Mister Processus … uh … whatever. He’s got a list of names and septims that’s called a ‘Tax Role’. Nah! THIS ONE thinks it’s a scam! This here feller must be a bag man for one of the local gangs what got himself ‘wacked’ by another gang. But then, why leave the septims? Probably just for cover if the Imperials come a looking for him so’s they can blame it on some angry citizen type who forgot to take the money. Yeah! They’d probably pocket it themselves.
That’s good money, that is and it deserves a home, along with the poor man’s clothes n’ other stuff.
Yes sir this ‘hunting trips looking up and his skills are starting to come back now as he begins leveling up.
At level 2 K’thri-Dar checks a small hummock protruding above the water level and discovers the Nimawia Grotto which produces some pearls and the equipment from another corpse, maybe a guard for the bag man?
He goes up another level and then things start falling apart at least for the grave robbing part of the program. He enters the Thelas tomb and is rudely evicted by the ghostly inhabitants and their skeletal tenant. He levels up some more and tries the Samarys Tomb and is rudely evicted there too.
What’s a poor feller have to do anyways? The only answer he has is to kill more critters and level up. Well … the khajiit is a feline predator so that’s what he’s going to do: PRED-A-DATE the heck out of this here swamp and then teach them graveyard haunts to hand over the goods and not mess no more with the khajiit!
At level 8 K’thri-Dar is starting to approach his comfort level at least as far as the ‘hunting’ goes. Now it’s time to check out the two tombs he’s found before the Cliff Racer, Netch, Nix Hounds, and other assorted scavengers decide this part of the swamp is a mighty fine free diner: the Samarys Ancestral Tomb, and the Thelas Ancestral Tomb.
First he decides to deal with the Thelas tomb. Here the undead opposition are Ghosts, Bonewalkers and a Greater Bonewalker. His claws are as good as silver weaponry and his Hand-to-Hand skill is approaching 70. He takes care of the initial welcoming committee and bee-lines straight to the Shrine of St. Veloth where he turns to meet the attack of the Greater Bone Walker knowing that the effects of the creature’s devastating magic attacks can be ‘bought off’ at the cost of an Almsivi Restoration blessing.
Ha! Ha! Take that you boney morons! But the undead get the last laugh. Whatever ‘valuable valuables’ the tomb had once contained had been pilfered long ago by K’thri-Dar’s nefarious competitors.
He moves on to the Samary’s tomb and here the strategic situation is stickier. Bonewalkers no problem, but here the Greater Bonewalker isn’t giving the khajiit the opportunity to stand within easy reach of St. Veloth’s shrine. By the time K’thri-Dar realizes that the crowd of Bone Walker’s he’s fighting contains a Greater one it’s too late. He’s over-encumbered and not moving anywhere.
Oh No! Trapped and doomed to leave the bones of a khajiiti skeleton for the next tomb robber. But wait! His inventory menu says he has zero carrying capacity. Okay say that he drops everything … can he move again and get to another shrine of St. Veloth?
Stark naked K’thri-Dar can not only move freely, he can fight Hand-to-Hand and demolishes the Bonelord he finds lurking in the final burial chamber. OH YES INDEED! But there’s another problem, a locked potential treasure chest and a trapped urn both labeled as belonging to ‘Lord Brinne’ that just screams that it has a treasure hidden inside. His Security skills are paltry at best so even if he buys St. Veloth’s blessing and retrieves his clothes and goods there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to defeat the lock and trap.
But wait! He spies a Fortify Health potion sitting on a nearby altar. Maybe Lord Brinne had an enemy who left an instrument for a post mortem theft, intending to come back later after the funeral and retrieve the goods. K’thri-Dar drinks the potion and heads to the goodies. HO! HO! The trap goes off but he lives to tell the tale.
Lord Brinne’s Treasure Chest was as empty as Ma Hubbard’s Cupboard, but the urn contained a Mentor’s Ring, a sweet trinket enriching it’s wearer with a +10 to Intelligence and a +10 to Willpower. Sweet indeed!
As he collected his clothes and goods K’thri-Dar thought about his situation. He was approaching his carry weight limit with all the … plunder. His health was reasonably good, no diseases, poisons, or curses but that could change any time and he was out here somewhere on the Bitter Coast with just a single Devine Intervention scroll he’d ‘retrieved’ from the Thelas tomb. Plus he was running out of arrows and his armor and weaponry were wearing out. Yes! It was time to head back to Seyda Neen.
But his hunting expedition was not quite over. As he made his way ‘home’ along the Seyda Neen to Hla Oad Road, a terrible scream emanated from the heavens and a blue robed form plummeted down from the heavens above into the road down below, right in front of him.
It was a Bosmer mage, Tarheil, quite dead but well dressed and equipped with scrolls and a book that provided a sad commentary on the fallacy of rapid personal transportation by means of magically boosted jumping rather than teleportation. It was a gift from the sky and an appreciated one to be sure.
We’ll leave K’thri-Dar for now as he makes his way back to Seyda Neen. I strongly suspect that Lady Luck will be waiting for him with another selection of ‘opportunities’ for our doughty khajiit acrobat. See you in the next chapter, keep either your claws sharp or your fingernails clean.