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A Fool In Morrowind, Day 3 - Fort Stupid

I’m going to try and keep these diaries a little shorter. This does mean a) varying hilarity, depending on the situations I’ve genuinely encountered and b) my promised visit to the city is delayed by a day. If it’s any consolation, that entry will involve trying to steal diamonds in front of children.

A note to anyone thinking of building a fort: do not build a fort with easy hillside access. It kind of defeats the point.

Being able to jump onto the battlements of a fort from a gentle nearby slope means said fort is not really a fort. If I ever encounter its architect, I’m totally going to pickpocket him and leave a bunch of bat wings and crab meat in his trousers to teach him a lesson.

I had no particular reason to enter the fort in so brazen a manner, but it was hard to resist the opportunity. So, in I hopped. Inside was a different world from the quiet towns and doting pensioners I’d encountered thus far – industriously patrolling guards, and a veritable enclave of shopkeepers.

Now, I was used to the traders of this land being curiously short on customers outside of myself, but an entire marketplace inside a remote fort seemed especially strange. Hence, I elected to exercise a muscle I’d left fairly unused until now, having previously been fixated upon larceny and slaver-stabbing: my tongue.

Some light conversation revealed a horrifying truth: this was no mere military base. I’d stumbled into a religious cult, obsessed with Empire. Honestly, if you’re going to be a cultist, at least pick something fun.

Also, if you are a cultist, telling anyone who passes that you’re a cultist probably isn’t going to convince them to join you. If ever there was a word with negative connotations… Still, no wonder their architecture was so openly foolish – it was a stealth way to attract new brainwashees. And they’d really worked on their patter. Everyone I spoke to immediately suggested I join, and after a while my initial alarm subsided, replaced by a strange desire to belong. I had no home, no friends, no family. I’d had a surrogate grandmother once, but I’d let her get killed by a bat. Perhaps it would be nice to join these peop… these peo…

No longer engaged in conversation (whilst I gathered my confused thoughts), I finally noticed the tables in front of the cultists. They were laden with goodies – potions, weapons, books, scrolls… The Hunger gripped me. I needed these things; these things were money-in-waiting.

Crouched, I snuck around the cavernous, goodie-filled room, searching desperately for an opportunity. Wherever I went, I was observed. Ack – can’t a guy rob placid churchgoers in peace? Then, I remembered my hitherto ignored starsign. I was born under the Thief, and this granted me a special ability to be used once daily. Invisibility! 60 precious seconds of invisibility!

Now to test quite how stupid these stupid cultist stupids were. I scarpered into a corner, cast my spell, and strode coolly back into the absurd, silent marketplace. The timer was running out fast, but it was time enough for a smash’n’grab operation. A few potions, a book about something boring and, ah yes, a shiny katana. Shiny! Mine! I was just running over to the alchemy apparatus on the adjacent table when I popped back into visible reality, hand poised incriminatingly over an alembic. No matter – I’d be back in 24 hours, once my invisibility had recharged.

Now, though – business time. I immediately strode back to the guy I’d just robbed, and requested a barter. He spurned me, referencing some dodgy herb in my pockets that he’d somehow sniffed out from afar. Apparently cultists don’t “do” “drugs.” Moon Sugar? Pfft. Too valuable to throw away, yet too worthless to sacrifice the sadistic joy of selling this guy’s own sword back to him. Time for crime.

I wandered downstairs, and soon found a barracks, out of sight of the blank-eyed retail crazies upstairs. Once I’d finished robbing the place blind, I lockpicked a chest with the sole intention of then stashing my drugs there.

Upstairs I went again, requested a barter.. and the idiothole only tells me I’ve got something else illegal in my pockets. Downstairs, one bottle of something sinister deposited in the chest, upstairs again, barter… and the trader had miraculously forgotten I was a drug dealer five minutes ago. That’s religious nuts for you – they’re so forgiving. “I have this katana…” He didn’t hesitate for a second, and gladly bought his own property back from me. Yes! I now had money in pocket, a fool-proof scheme to earn more, and I was only a stone’s throw from this land’s capital city.

Ah, Fort Stupid. Brimful of idiot cultists, and now also unknowing home to my burgeoning drug stash. I shall be returning here.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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