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A Fool In Morrowind, Day 8 - Domestic Bliss

Find the story so far here.

It’s an unfortunate reality of Vvardenfell that very few traders can afford to pay anywhere near the worth of the kind of loot that seasoned adventurers bring to them. Stands to reason, really – after all, if they did have several hundred thousand gold to spare, they probably wouldn’t spend their days running grotty shops on a cursed island. It is, however, a source of great annoyance to me. Here I am, pockets laden with brutally effective Daedric weaponry from a hell dimension and lavish Indoril armour worth tens of thousands apiece, but I can only get a couple of thousand gold maximum for anything, if I’m lucky. The traders quickly grew to love me, much as I suspect they were all talking behind my back about how gullible I was. I suppose I’m helping to support local businesses, but frankly I’d never intended to be a philanthropic master thief.

Still, that’s largely what I end up doing, as five lots of 2k is still more than enough to fund a few skill upgrades or a whopping great enchant – but sometimes, I just can’t bear to part with something fancy-lookin’ for small change. Sometimes too, I just want to hoard stuff – whether it’s because it looks rare and interesting, even if it isn’t matched to one of my combat disciplines, or because it’s a now-inferior weapon or armour piece that served me well, and I want to keep it as a memento.

The trouble is where to put all this stuff. My strength is growing all the time, but unless I want to spend every other second casting Feather spells on myself, I just can’t carry that much stuff. I need a base. I need a home.

It isn’t possible to buy a house in Vvardenfell. Perhaps the market’s too unstable due to the looming threat of the dark god Dagoth Ur – a nasty piece of work currently imprisoned inside a volcano and who, rather worryingly, has begun visiting me in my dreams, and sending religious looneys to tell me he wants a chat with me – and so mortgage lenders are avoiding making any deals at the moment. Maybe the five ruling houses passed a law forbidding anyone from ever moving house. Maybe the entire continent just plum doesn’t like me.

Whatever the cause, it’s annoying me. I am, growing rumour now has it, potentially of divine origin. If the prophecies that the topless drug addict who’s been giving me orders on behalf of the Emperor’s spy clique, the Blades, hold any truth, I might even be a god incarnate. Whatever. Sounds like so much poppycock to me – hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a hat that makes me turn invisible. But if they must persist in this nonsense, can’t they at least let me own a bed of my own? Just one cupboard? Maybe a barrel to keep all my hats in? I’m a god, you idiots claim: well, gods shouldn’t have to sleep rough on the streets, dammit.

The only way, it seems, to obtain a house of my own is to murder its owner and simply take up residency. Now, I might be a dirty little thief and an occasional vagrant, but I’m no murderer. Not unless they started it, anyway. How could I make this work? Was there some way to teleport a hapless home owner to the other side of the world? To lock ’em in a cupboard? Alas not – magic has its limits.

Then I remembered Ralen Hlaalo. Raiding his mansion in Balmora was one of my earliest jobs for the Thieves Guild (which I was, by now, fairly high ranking in), and while wandering around its hallways and startling his poor, frightened lady servant, I’d been surprised to find the man’s corpse lying on the floor of his dining room. What if…

Using my newly-acquired Recall spell, one of many magical fruits of my shameless larceny, I zapped back to Balmora, the little town I still considered home, despite my many adventures in far-flung lands. I crept through the darkness, back to Hlaalo Manor. Surely, by now, someone else would have moved in, or there would be investigating guards swarming around it. In fact, the lock remained picked from my previous visit. The upstairs bedroom was still a state, presumably trashed by whoever had killed Hlaalo.

And downstairs, there he was. Ralen Hlaalo’s body hadn’t moved an inch, nor did it seem to be decomposing. This was deeply sinister – but promising. I returned upstairs, to that devastated bedroom, and took the ultimate risk – a nice little sleep in a stranger’s bed.

When I awoke, there was no bounty on my head, no stern Hlaalu guard threatening me with arrest or a fine for illegal sleeping. Granted, there was yet another one of those bloody Dark Brotherhood chaps trying to stab me in the heart, but that was pretty much par for the course whenever I had a kip. Assassins? More like ineffectual mosquitoes. He was no match for the mighty blade Optimus Slice. Oh, and hey, his swift demised yielded another set of Dark Brotherhood armour to flog for a pretty penny. Unfortunately, taking it did leave me with a naked dead man on the floor of what, it increasingly seemed, might be my very own bedroom, but it should disappear soon enough. Which reminded me…

Downstairs again, and there’s Ralen Hlaalo still. Huh. Whatever killed him did something odd – his body seemed mystically resistant to rot. An idea struck me. If I couldn’t get rid of him, I could at least turn him into a display piece in my lovely new mansion. Seconds later, the corpse was dressed in all manner of finery – some of my most lavish loot clad around his cold flesh.

Yes, very nice. Not only he was now a talking point at dinner parties, but I could change his outfit whenever I wished: corpse-decoration to suit my mood. This was so much better than a bearskin rug or a nice bunch of seasonal flowers. Even better, it seemed I could pile as many items as I wanted into poor Ralen’s pockets. Well, it’s not as if he needed to walk anywhere these days, so the weight of all my looted trinkets was scarcely an issue. I vaguely remembered someone asking me to look into the poor chap’s murderer, but elected to let that one drop – I don’t want to risk ruining a good thing.

I had a home at last. Mine, all mine! Except, as I went to leave from the upstairs door – hop, skips and jumps across Balmora’s rooftops was my preferred means of navigating the town – I saw something move in the second bedroom. Uh-oh. Powerhat was promptly donned, and I peered around the corner. I looked right into the unaware eyes of… Ralen Hlaalo’s female servant.

She’d been here all this time, hiding from either Hlaalo’s murderer, Hlaalo’s corpse or Hlaalo’s wrath should she dare to leave. I removed Powerhat. She stared at me. She didn’t do anything else. Didn’t speak, didn’t run, didn’t attack. I circled her nervously, wondering if this spelled the end of my tenure in this mansion. Still nothing. I backed out slowly, paused a moment, then closed the bedroom door on her. Still nothing. Well, if she was happy in there, I guess I was happy too. Sure, my idea of an ideal home wouldn’t include a creepy silent girl locked in the guest bedroom, but at least I also had a corpse to store infinite swords in.

All these Dark Brotherhood attacks were getting tiresome, mind. The loot they left sure was good, but what to do with all these naked blokes piling up on my floor?

Next: about that god business…

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Alec Meer

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