The Hunger

LOREDAS, 19th of HEARTFIRE

"You can let go of your guilt."

With a somewhat incongruous combination of venison chop and sweet roll churning in my stomach this morning, I left to investigate Makarth’s Hall of the Dead. I felt apprehensive about what I was going to find in those chambers. When I entered the room, I heard a voice coming from all around me, reverberating off the cold stone walls.

Not many would walk blindly into a crypt smelling of steel and blood, but not fear. I feel the hunger inside of you . Gnawing at you. You see the dead and your mouth grows wet. Your stomach growls. It’s all right. I will not shun you for what you are. Stay. I will tell you everything you have forgotten.”

I felt frozen in place with dread. The words almost felt surreal as if in a dream. They penetrated my darkest secrets: Galerion. A Breton woman emerged from the shadows, her left eye blinded.

“It’s okay you’ve found a friend who understands you. You can let go of your guilt.” she said, approaching slowly.

My mouth felt dry as I worked out the words. “Guilt? What are you talking about?” I asked.

“Namira, the lady of decay, has a place for us without judgement.” she said gently.

“I want no part of this.” I stammered.

“Very well. Should the hunger call out to you, I’ll be waiting outside of Reachcliff cave. Tell the people of Markarth their dead are safe.” With that, she vanished. I stood there for a moment in complete shock. How could she have known? Or was it just some clever ruse of hers? I stumbled back into the light of day. I had to find Reachcliff Cave to get answers from this woman.

I needed to take my mind of the events that just happened so I headed out to Left Hand Mine and was able to acquire a pickaxe and mine some iron ore. I used the smelter outside to melt it down into iron ingots and then returned to Ghorza in Makarth to practice making some banded iron armor for her. This set was better than anything I had made before so I felt pleased my skills were improving. Afterwards, I stopped back in Understone Keep and found Brother Verulus. I informed him that the halls were safe and he rewarded me with an Amulet of Arkay which was supposed to increase the health of its wearer.

I took a lunch of cold cabbage potato soup on the balcony overlooking the Treasury House. My thoughts moved between the events at the Hall of Dead and the Forsworn at the Broken Tower. Why did they have a statue of Dibella smeared with blood inside the Forsworn keep? If Dibella was the Goddess of Beauty and Love, what did it represent? Initially, I thought they might have answers at the Temple of Dibella, so I went there but was turned away. I was told again that the sisters were communing with Dibella and I had to come back at another time. This so-called communion was taking forever and I lacked the patience. I studied the lock to the inner sanctum when the temple attendee wasn’t looking. It was extremely difficult and of Dwemer make. I couldn’t pick the lock in time, but the temple attendee must carry the key. She had her back to me tending to the statues. I quietly moved in beside her and swiped the key from within the folds of her robe. When she wasn’t looking, I slipped inside the Inner Sanctum of the temple.

Down the steps, I entered a hall. Two women in robes at in silent communion while another one beseeched Dibella to “lead us to your Sybil.” I used the cover of the dividing wall to creep past and into the innermost chamber. My eye was immediately drawn to the gold statue on the altar. It was a statue of Dibella, gold and beautiful. The flames dancing on the statue’s naked body. I was mesmerized. I grabbed it and slipped it into my knapsack. I left the way I came without being noticed.

I hurried back to the Silver-Blood Inn. I made myself a beef stew for dinner, swiped a piece of bread from the kitchen and returned to my room. While I ate, I read The Black Arrow Part 1 by Gorgic Guine. Gorgic had found employment as a footman under the Duchess of Woda, a cold Imperial woman who despised the common people of Valenwood. She had even cut down the trees in front of her castle. On his way to the castle, Gorgic met some other people who were going to study at the famed archery academy run by Hiomaste. Gorgic became friends with them during his off times. The book suggests that drama is to come, but I will have to obtain a copy of Part 2 to find out what happens. I also read Volume 2 of The Real Beneziah. It picks up where Volume 1 left off finding Beneziah and Straw in Riften. Beneziah joins the Thieves Guild and makes friends with a kindly Nord woman and a bold Khajiit thief named Therris. During a botched heist, she is found by Symmachus, a dark elf general of the Imperial Army who has been ordered by the Emperor to bring her back to restore her place as the Queen of Mournhold. To hide her past, Symacchus has Straw’s tongue cut out and Therris is executed. Beneziah hates Symmachus but she faces her future bravely. I had been so involved in the book that I hadn’t even noticed that it was late.

I‘ve been in Makarth for too long. I return to Riften tomorrow.

Smithing Practice And Reading

FREDAS, 18th of HEARTFIRE

After some venison chop for breakfast, I left Broken Tower Redoubt and returned to Makarth. I sold what I could to Ri’saan, a Khajiit trader outside of Makarth. In Markarth, I first stopped at the smith to improve the Dwarven Sword I had recovered in Broken Tower Redoubt, sharpening it to a fine point with a Dwarven Metal Ingot. I tried to improve my Thieves Guild Armor but its magical aura resisted the smith’s awl. I realized that I lacked the understanding of how to improve magical items. Ghorza, the Orc smith, told me that understanding could only come through hours of practice at the forge. I spent the next couple of hours under her tutelage, improving my smithing abilities. It is a skill I have long neglected, but in combat it is the small advantages that spell out the difference between life and death.

I returned to the Silver-Blood Inn to relax for the rest of the day. Sitting at the bar, a Nord named Cosnach challenged me to a brawl for 100 septims. I told him I had better things to do. I do not understand the strange character defect that makes these Nords want to fight all the time. I finished off a dinner of grilled chicken breast and grilled leaks and returned to my room. I decided to read some books before bed:

  • The Wispmother: Two Theories by Mathias Etienne. A study of wisp mothers and the dividing scholarly theories on what they are exactly.
  • The Talos Mistake by Leonora Venatus, Imperial Liaison to the Aldmeri Dominion. A biased argument of why the worship of Talos was a mistake. Mainly that it weekend the memory of the man Tiber Septim himself and pushed people away from the true Gods (the Eight Divines)
  • The Charwich-Koniinge Letters, Book 1. A correspondence between Charwich and Koniinge. In this book, Charwich writes to Koniinge about his attempts to track down Hadwaf Neithwyr who supposedly possessed Azura’s Star. Neithwyr learned that Neithwyr was working for a patron named Baliasir and after fighting off a werewolf caretaker, found that Baliasir was in Wayrest. That’s where the letter ends.
  • The Code of Malacath: A Sellsword’s Guide to the Orc Strongholds by Amanda Alleia, Mercenary. A description of the code by which orc strongholds live by. It is is a highly patriarchal and violent society that breeds determined and focused warriors.

Tomorrow, I decided that I will investigate the Hall of Dead.

Preemptive Strike

TURDAS, 17th of HEARTFIRE

There seemed to be two options at this point. I could continue investigating the murders and be a sitting target for whatever forces were out there. Or I could deliver a clear preemptive strike to the Forsworn by clearing one of their bases and in the process learn more about their forces. I had a potato cabbage soup for breakfast and prepared some rabbit haunches for later. I decided I was going to strike the Forsworn at Broken Redoubt Tower. It was just a matter of following the river back east to its location.

On the way, I encountered some Alik’r warriors looking for a Redguard woman who they believed they had fled to Whiterun. It was afternoon when I arrived at Broken Redoubt Tower. The tower was built into a steep rocky face which rendered attack from behind difficult. I didn’t want to go in through the front door, so I climbed up to the upper balcony and eliminated the two Forsworn guards camped up there. Taking a deep breath, I entered through the second floor door.

Inside there was a huge chamber with gas rising from the floor. I launched one arrow into the heart of one of the Forsworn directly below me and then quickly slid back into the shadows. Then there was another on the walkway directly across from me. It took two arrows in rapid succession to bring her down, but she fell silently without calling attention to myself. I sidestepped any traps as I cleared out the western area. In the eastern wing, there were a set of stairs curving upwards, with a tripwire strung across its path. I stopped as I saw a Forsworn coming down the steps. She didn’t see me though and I was able to kill her with a single arrow. I jumped the tripwire and made my way out to the top balcony of the highest tower. Inside I witnessed a bizarre scene. It was some kind of ritual chamber. I killed what appeared to a Forsworn captain. Upon closer examination of the captain, I saw that there was a gaping hole where the heart used to be. In its place was a strange spiky thing, the color of yellow and blood-red. The gaping wound was loosely stitched together. There was some strange magic keeping him alive. I reached inside, pulled the briar heart out and stored it away.  There was also an altar of Dibella. The statue was smeared with blood. Bloody bones and skulls lay in offering at its feet including a goat head surrounded by candles. I found some valuables including a well-balanced Dwarven Sword and some expensive looking necklaces but no evidence of the Forsworn’s plans or clues to their contingency in Markarth. I will return to Makarth tomorrow and see if my preemptive strike has attracted any further attention from the Forsworn. I secured the room using Detect Life  and  when I was finally satisfied I went to sleep.

The City Of Stone

MIDDAS, 16th of HEARTFIRE

Stone beds are truly uncomfortable to sleep on. I woke up stiff and muscles aching. I strapped on my armor and walked out to the sound of Kleppr and his wife still arguing. I sat down at the bar and ate some sweet rolls and apples. Today I decided to scout out Ogmund’s House. And then there was also the matter of that mysterious note from Eltrys. Finally, there was Calcelmo who seemed eager to buy my newly acquired Dwarven Frost Dagger. I washed my food down with some water which had a odd metallic taste, no doubt from the mines of Markarth. I left the Silver-Blood Inn.

Walking outside and seeing Markarth in daylight was breathtaking. The city seemed as if it were carved into the stone around it creating a steep vertical sensation. Natural waterfalls poured in from the mountains, feeding into the rushing canal that ran that split the city in two. There was a maze of upper walkways that connected to the keep at the top of the city and the city. I walked across the street to Arnleif and Sons Trading Company. The owner was a woman named Lisbet. She had inherited the store from her husband Gunnar who had died in a Forsworn attack. It seems Forsworn attacks had taken a toll on her business. She had been waiting for a specially-made statue of Dibella but it was taken by the Forsworn. She wanted to hire me on to take the statue back but I told her that I was not for hire at the moment and made my way back out.

As I continued through the town, a man stopped me and asked if I had seen anyone coming or going from the abandoned house in town. The man introduced himself as Vigilant Tyranus and told me that he believed the house may have been used for Daedra worship. I told him I hadn’t seen anything.

I located Ogmund’s house on the upper level of the city. I took a quick look around and studied the lock. It was your simple and standard lock. Breaking in should be fairly easy. I casually strolled away as a guard passed. I continued exploring the city. The lower areas of the city were where the mines and labor camps were located. At the bottom, there was The Warrens which was an old stripped mine, now converted into a makeshift quarantine for the sick and poor. Above the mines ware the stores including the alchemist’s shop The Hag’s Cure and the local smith Ghorza-gra-Bogol. Ghorza grew in an orc stronghold. She told me that Orcs were not treated kindly in Skyrim and kept to themselves. High above the city facing the keep was the Temple of Dibella. Inside, I was told that the sisters were in the process of communing with Dibella and that I would have to come back at another time. I had no interest in disturbing the ceremony so I left.

I found the Shrine of Talos in an alleyway that connected the two sides of the city. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to hear Eltrys out so I went inside. Indeed, Eltrys was waiting for me. He told me that 20 years ago, Ulfric and his men had driven out the Forsworn. But they had returned and were killing people and the Guard wasn’t doing anything about it. He told me he’d pay me for any information I brought to him. When I pressed him for more information, he told me that Weylin, the killer used to be a smelter worker and that Margaret, the victim, wasn’t a Markarth native. While I didn’t want to get embroiled in a conspiracy, I found myself curious.

I visited the Understone Keep next. The keep was built inside a giant cavern, the remnants of an old Dwarven ruin. I overheard a Nord threatening Brother Verulus over the closing of the Hall of Dead. When I asked Verulus what was going on, he told me that they had found evidence that someone was eating the dead. I swallowed hard when he told me. I told him I would try and help and he gave me the key to the hall. I don’t know why I agreed to help but something intrigued me. Maybe it was my own dark secret. The fact that I had eaten Galerus was something that I had never shared with anyone. I had committed the act after reading about the ancient Bosmer and how they consumed their enemies. In that extreme moment of sadness and anger, I had eaten Galerus so that he might feel the pain that he bestowed upon me.Inside Understone Keep, I found Calcelmo poring over an enchanting table. Calcelmo was doing research on a Dwemer excavation site and he told me that the dagger was important as part of understanding Dwemer craftsmanship. But he was only offering 110 gold for it. And since I hadn’t used the dagger at all and it was at full charge, there was no way I was letting it go for that price. I told him I wasn’t selling and I left.

I fortuitously bumped into Ogmund on the way back to the inn. I stopped and chatted him up. We talked about his days as a famous bard and how many of his songs were taught at the Bards College. I bid him farewell and as I shook his hand, I was able to swiftly snatch his key without him noticing. I returned to the Silver-Blood Inn and had a beef stew for dinner. All I had to do now was wait. Sitting by the fireplace, I met a hired sword named Vorstag who told me that he remembered Margaret. He said that she had the poise of a trained warrior. Kleppr told me that she had rented the most expensive room in the inn. I broke into Margaret’s room and found her journal. She had been sent by General Tullius to secure Cidhna Mine. She ran into a conformation with Thonar Silver-Blood and in her last days, she was plagued with paranoia. I’ll have to check out this Thonar character, but something told me I would have to exercise extreme caution.

As I left the inn late at night, I was stopped by a guard who warned me to stop asking questions. I replied innocently that I wasn’t looking for trouble. Margaret was right, there were indeed eyes and ears everywhere. I broke into Orgmund’s house and stole enough to satisfy Vex’s job.

Arrival In Markarth

TIRDAS, 15th of HEARTFIRE

I woke up fairly early this morning. I decided that I would make the journey down to Markarth today by foot. I was still furious that I had been tricked and betrayed by Jar-Ree. I ate a boiled creme treat and some bread for breakfast and headed out of the city. I headed west out along the main road. Soon, I came across a small town called Dragon’s Bridge which derived its namesake from the large stone dragon head on its southern bridge. I recalled that a messenger from Dragon’ s Bridge had been dispatched to Solitude, regarding a magical cave nearby. Judging by the presence of the Empire’s banners and soldiers, it appears Jarl Elisif had answered the man’s requests. I didn’t stop in the town and moved throughly quickly.

I was passing by the ruins of an old tower when I was suddenly ambushed by a wild woman. She was dressed in barbaric furs and wore a headdress made from the antlers of an elk. I was able to beat her, but found nothing that could identify the woman. I continued when I bumped into an orc on the road. He muttered a passing taunt, something that should have been ignored easily but maybe my anger at the fact that Jar-Ree was still out there caused me to respond.

“You shouldn’t talk to me like that.”

“Why? What are you going to do about it, cry?” He stepped into my face.

“Back off. Now.” I said through clenched teeth.

“I don’t have to take that from you.” he pulled out his sword and a fight ensued. I defeated him, but instantly regretted the senseless act. Not out of some moral compunction mind you, but because I was ruled by emotions at the moment. I liked my kills clinical and exact. I was acting like some fresh Fighter’s Guild recruit.

I stopped off on the side of the road to have a lunch of cooked beef and then I continued following the main road, using the sign posts to guide me. I was passing by a house next to a mine, when more of those wild women attacked me. They were dressed the same as the first. I broke into the house but it was empty. Whoever these wild barbarians were, they were no more threatening than the common bandit albeit with a penchant for animal pelts, horns and skulls. I continued on my way. When I saw a tent of khajiit traders camped outside, I knew I was close to Markarth. Outside of the city, there were some small mining communities. I saw a circle of people having a heated discussion. It turns out they were talking about the house and mine I had passed. They referred to the wild warriors as Forsworn and spoke on how the Forsworn had killed everyone in the mine except Pavo and Gat who had escaped. I asked one of the miners Skaggi about the Forsworn and he told me that they were natives of the Reach. I offered to clear out the mine, but Skaggi could only offer me his gratitude. Unfortunately, I can’t feed myself on gratitude.

The city of Markarth looked ancient and its golden doors resembled like that strange Dwemer place I had passed. When I entered the city, I witnessed a woman murdered. Screams of terror filled the air as people fled. The city guard were upon the murderer quickly. After the commotion settled, the guards ushered the common people along. An elf named Eltrys called me aside and asked if I had seen what happened. I replied that I hadn’t seen anything. He told me I had dropped a note and left. Picking up and reading the note, it asked me to meet him at the Shrine of Talos. I pocketed the note for the moment, found the local inn (the Silver-Blood Inn) and went inside. I ate a dinner of rabbit haunch at the bar and rented a room for the night from the owner Kleppr.

Rumors of Forsworn agents were heard on everybody’s lips that night in the inn. Many people seemed to think that the murder had some connection with the Forsworn. Furthermore, Kleppr told me that the Hall of Dead had been closed down recently. I excused myself and retired to my room. I couldn’t fall asleep immediately so I read two books. Volume 1 of the Biography of Barenziah told the story of Barenziah, a dark elf princess who was adopted by the Count of Darkmoor. She is happy until a wicked orphan boy named Straw lied to her -telling her that her parents planned to sell her off as a concubine and convinced her to flee. She fled with Straw until they arrived at Riften. Thief of Virtue was a funny story about a handsome thief named Ravius Terinus who tries to rob a baron in Hammerfell. The baron catches on and rouses the guard and Ravius manages to swoon the Baroness and escapes.

Betrayed

MORNDAS, 14th of HEARTFIRE

It was still raining this morning when I woke up. After a breakfast of salmon steak and sliced apples, I made my way down to the Solitude docks. Swimming across to the opposite bank of the Karth River, I followed the water’s edge east to the archipelago. I picked my way across the small rocky islands and sheets of ice floes. The rain had stopped and was replaced by a thick fog. I finally saw the Icerunner run aground on the rocks. When I approached, one of the Blackblood Marauders told me Deeja was waiting for me in the ship’s hold. On the ship’s deck, I saw the bodies of the Imperial Guards and down in the belly of the ship I saw a number of sailors murdered in their beds. For a simple heist, something felt wrong but I ignored it. When I found Deeja, the Argonian bitch told me that the loot had already been moved and I had been a mere pawn in their plan. She attacked me but she was easily defeated, but the noise had attracted the other marauders. I kicked the door shut to give myself time to think.

Damm! I was betrayed! I cursed my stupidity. I should’ve never accepted a job from a stranger. I was blinded by the promise of gold. Furthermore, all the tell-tale signs were there. Dead guards and sailors. This wasn’t the benign robbery job that Jaree-Ra had made it out to be. Well, hindsight is flawless and I had a more immediate problem on my hands: getting past the marauders and off the ship. But I swore when I found Jaree-Ra I would make him suffer. I swung open the door and before the marauder chance to notch an arrow to his bow, I was upon him. I moved my way through the rest of the ship, eliminating the rest of the bandits before they had any idea what was happening. When the ship was cleared, I returned to Darjee’s corpse and searched it. I found a note from Jar-Ree telling her to meet him at Broken Oar Grotto. I didn’t know where Broken Oar Grotto was, but I intended to find out.

I left the ship and washed the blood off myself by the water. I ate some pheasant roast and bread for lunch and began head back to Solitude. I stopped at the East Empire Company Warehouse and the Solitude Lighthouse, but no one there had any answers for me regarding the location of Broken Oar Grotto. Back at Winking Skeever, I asked Corpulus if he had heard any rumors, hoping for some mention of Jar-Ree or the Blackblood Marauders but it turned up nothing. I may not find you today Jaree-Ra. But when I do, mark my words: I will make you pay.

Extinguishing The Fire

SUNDAS, 13th of HEARTFIRE

As I left my room, I swiped a meal of bread and seared slaughter fish from the table. Downstairs, I ran into Vivienne Onis who I had seen around town. She was dancing to the music of the bard. She recognized me from Roggvir’s execution. It turns out her cousin was Fura, the daughter of the alchemist Angeline. Outside, it was cold, gray and raining. As I was walking, I was discreetly called over by an argonian named Jaree-Ra who asked if I was looking to make some easy gold. Jaree-Ra wanted to raid an incoming weapons ship called the Icerunner. He wanted to put out the Solitude lighthouse fire, forcing the Icerunner to crash – providing us an easy way to loot the ship. It seemed simple enough so I agreed.

A bridge divides Solitude connecting Castle Dour which houses the Imperial Legion and Thalmor, with the Emperor’s Tower that leads down to the docks. There’s a ramp that leads up to the bridge and a platform that sits in between where the blacksmith and fletcher work their respective trades. I met Beirand, the Imperial’s smith. Beirand was selling a beautiful set of Elven Armor and a Dwarven Dagger of Frost that chilled to the touch. I traded in my Orcish Dagger and bought the Dagger of Frost. I also introduced myself to Finhada, the fletcher who specialized in bows and arrows. Later, I went down to the Imperial-financed East Empire Company shipping docks. It was only then looking back up at Solitude that I realized a large part of the city was built on a natural stone bridge that extended into the sea.

I was coming back from the docks when I was approached by a courier with a note. The note was from someone named Calcelmo in Markarth. He had discovered that I had purchased the Dwarven Dagger of Frost and said he needed one for his research. The note said he was willing to pay me handsomely for it. Considering I spent roughly 700 gold for it, I decided that when I arrived at Markarth I would speak to this Calcelmo and see what he had to offer. I strolled the castle courtyard watching the Imperial soldiers practice their archery and swordplay. I discovered the Thalmor Headquarters located in the castle. I poked my head inside and looked around. There didn’t seem to be anyone present so I helped myself to some food, expensive jewelry, and gold.

Leaving the castle,  I walked to the point of the city farthest on the natural stone bridge – the Blue Palace. Inside, I met Melaron who advised  me to steer clear of Sybille Stentor, the court wizard. Upstairs, I overheard a meeting between Jarl Elisif and a messenger.  The messenger’s name was Varnius from Dragon’s Bridge and he claimed that there were unnatural magics coming from a cave nearby. Stentor dismissed the claims as superstition, but it was decided that troops would be sent to Dragon’s Bridge nonetheless. I returned to the inn to dry off and have some hot horker stew. The rich meaty stew seemed to help get the cold out of my bones. With some light still left in the day, I returned to the docks to try and find the Solitude Lighthouse. I exited through the lower Emperor’s Tower, following the shoreline of the sea. I passed by a docked ship before I found the lighthouse. Oddly I found no resistance or guards as I climbed to the top of the lighthouse and extinguished the fire. I headed back in the dark freezing rain with only lantern posts guiding the way. I found Jaree-Da waiting for me on the docks of the East Empire Company. He informed me that the Icerunner had indeed swung wide of the eastern shoal and crashed on the eastern coast. His sister and a group of Blackblood Marauders were told to expect me. I returned to the Winking Skeever for the evening. I stripped off my wet clothes to dry. Tomorrow, I seek out the ruins of the Icerunner.

The Bard’s College

LOREDAS, 12th of HEARTFIRE

 

I decided that I was going to spend my day better acquainting myself with the capital of Skyrim and its people. I woke up at around noon and enjoyed a meal of salmon steak with a boiled creme tart and a honey nut treat for the sweet tooth. I did some window shopping. My first stop was at the local apothecary Angeline’s Aromatic to peruse her stock. The owner Angeline Morrard told me she had a daughter named Fura in the Imperial Army stationed at Whiterun, but hadn’t heard from her. I apologized and told her I had never met someone named Fura in my travels. Next, I stopped in the general store Bits and Pieces. Bits and Pieces was owned by a  wife and husband duo named Sayma and Beirand. While Sayma ran the store, Beirand was the local smith. During out conversation, Sayma revealed that she felt King Torygg had never been a great king, but nonetheless his death had turned Solitude upside down as evidenced by the execution that greeted me yesterday. I bought some Dwarven Arrows from Sayma, thanked her, and left.

Following the noise of the crowd, I arrived at the market square. There were children playing out in the courtyard and the shouts of the merchants peddling their wares filled the air. Evette San, the spice vendor, told me that business had been slower than usual, especially with the Burning of King Olaf being cancelled. It turns out The Burning of King Olaf is a popular local festival in which an effigy of King Olaf is burned. However, with the recent death of Torygg, the festival had been declared in bad taste. She asked me to help her pick up some spices from the East Empire Company dock, but I told her that I wasn’t really planning on heading that way at this time.

I continued west up the hill and underneath the bridge. At the very top of the hill sat the Blue Palace which I figured is where the Jarl stayed. In between, were many of the residences. I located the famous Bards College of Solitude which I had heard so much about. It was a huge building with three floors including a very impressive library and an open foyer with stained glass windows that filled the space with natural light. I was seized with the desire to learn an instrument, so I asked the headmaster Viarma if I could apply. I was disappointed when instead of offering lessons, he told me that applicants were required to perform tasks. Viarma wanted me to go to Dead Man’s Respite and retrieve King Olaf’s verse from a poem called the Poetic Edda. He wanted to perform this verse to Jarl Elisif, in the hopes that she would lift the ban on the festival. I put the task out of my mind since I already had enough to do.

Viarma did mention the college’s historian Girard whose name I recognized. I remembered that the author Adonato who I met in Windhelm had asked me to deliver his manuscript of Olaf and the Dragon. I delivered the book in exchange for 400 gold. The day had flown by and by now it was getting late. I returned to the Winking Skeever and had a filling dinner of baked potatoes and cooked beef.

Solitude

FREDAS, 11th of HEARTFIRE

I shoved down a honey nut treat and a sweet roll as I headed out of the Whiterun gates to the carriage. My mouth was still full when I told Bjornlam that I was going to Solitude. I threw my bag in the back and climbed in.

“First time to Solitude, eh?” he asked. I nodded. “Beautiful city. The capital of Skyrim…” he trailed off as I pulled the hood down over my eyes.

I woke back up around midday from the carriage wheel hitting a big bump. “Sorry about that!” he shouted back at me. With about six more hours until arrival at Solitude, I decided to read some books while daylight was still available:

  • Herbane’s Bestiary: Ice Wraiths. I have never seen an ice wraith before, but the book says they are beasts that camouflage themselves in the snow and attack when you least suspect. The author suggests that straight forward combat is the best tactic.
  • Vernaccus and Bourlor. A comical story. Vernaccus is a minor daedra whom the other daedra make fun of, so he goes on murderous rampages. Bourlor is a archer who never misses. Bourlor takes a shot at Vernaccus, but Vernaccus vanishes and the arrow hits a tree. Bourlor goes to his death, broken over missing a shot. Vernaccus meanwhile becomes popular and shrines are built for him. One day Vernaccus sees that there are people throwing rocks at his shrine. He appears in front of them, but they continue throwing rocks at him. Humiliated he retreats but while doing so, an arrowhead embedded n the wood impales him and kills him. The same arrowhead that Bourlor had shot years ago.
  • Of Crossed Daggers: The History of Riften by Dwennon Wyndell. Quite fascinating. Riften was actually once a major affluent trading city between Skyrim and Morrowind. But it was taken over by a tyrannical and corrupt Jarl who drained the city of its money in building his castle. The people eventually revolted setting the Jarl’s castle on fire, but the fire spread and consumed the whole city. Riften has never recovered.
  • Three Thieves. A story of three thieves: Lledas master of silent assassination, Imalyn, expert lock picker, and Galsiah infiltrator. They planned a heist together, but Lledas took the money. Lledas was actually a fake name. But they other two ended up finding him and killing him. The most interesting thing about the book though was the assassination techniques that Lledas details. Galerus had always taught me to cover the mouth first and then cut the throat in a swift motion, letting the blood spray away from you, but I had never thought of covering the victim’s head first with a burlap sack, drawing the string tight and then supplying the killing blow. I will have to try it sometime.
  • The Book of Daedra. A list of daedra and their respective dominions and spheres.

I finally arrived at Solitude, early in the evening. As I approached the city gates, I learned I had arrived just in time for the execution of Roggvir, the city guard who allowed Ulfric to escape after killing the High King. Yells of traitor filled the air. I watched from the shadows as they beheaded him. I scanned the skies half expecting a dragon to show up at the last minute. None did.

Solitude was a beautiful city. Colorful flags had been strung up around the town. I found Radiant Raiment, the store whose book numbers I had to forge. I walked in and met the owner Endarie, a pretentious rude elf. Scanning the store, I did not see the ledger. I would have to wait to try and break-in later and find it. I walked across the street to The Winking Skeever and met the barkeep Corpulus Vinius who told me that the Bards College was looking for members to join and that I should talk to Viarmo. I ordered a seared slaughter fish for dinner from him and ate it with some sliced carrots. I took a seat at the table in the corner and listened to the bard Lisette sing.

After midnight, the crowd had mostly cleared.I walked back over to Radiant Raiment. Under the cloak of night, I broke into the store. I located the ledger in a room on the second floor. I forged the numbers. I took what gold I could find and stole some jewels from the store. Having finished the job, I returned to the Winking Skeever and rented a room for the night.

Pest Control

TURDAS, 10th of HEARTFIRE

The Meadery Formerly Known As Honningbrew

For breakfast this morning, I had some salmon steak with tomato before heading out towards Honningbrew Meadery. I stopped to change into common clothes at a nearby farm. I needed to convince Sabjorn I was just a helpful farmer. When I entered the meadery, I saw a dead skeever on the floor – a strong indication that Mallus’s sabotage had succeeded. Sabjorn was in an agitated and flustered state. He confirmed the story. There wasgoing to be a tasting of the Honningbrew Reserve for the Captain of the Guard today and he needed the place cleared of pests before the event. I played the role of the hesitant sword-for-hire accepting the job for the right amount of pay. I also happened upon an interesting fact during our conversation. It turns out Mallus actually works for Sabjorn. Sabjorn lent Mallus some coin that Mallus was never able to pay back, hence allowing Sabjorn to exploit Mallus for free labor. Seems Mallus’s vendetta is personal.

Honestly, I had expected this to be a simple operation of clearing a basement of some diseased skeever, but nothing is ever simple is it? Imagine my surprise when I find that the tunnels underneath Honningbrew’s basement opened up into a massive subterranean cave.  The walls of the tunnels gave off a luminescent glow, reflecting the light from the glowing fungi that lined its surface. I pulled spider webs out of my eyes and mouth as I proceeded deeper into the cavern. Unfortunately, skeever were not only the pests that called the place home. There were also frostbite spiders and some lunatic mage named Hamelyn. I had rounded the corner when I was hit with a lightning bolt straight to the chest. The shock paralyzed me and my whole body felt as if every nerve was on fire. I only managed to barely dodge the next bolt and run back the way I came. I managed to kill any skeevers that came after me and re-arm some bear traps, hoping to slow down any pursuers. I got into cover and peeked around the corner. I was able to dodge more incoming lightning attacks. Finally, when Hamelyn expended himself of magic, he made the mistake of pulling out a dagger and running towards me. I caught him as he rounded the corner, impaling him on my sword.

Checking my equipment, I realized that I had been bit on the hand by a skeever during the fight. There was pus forming around the edges and it didn’t look pretty. I would have to cure the poison back in Whiterun. From his journal, I discovered that Hamelyn was some scorned alchemist from the College of Winterhold. He had made his residence in the tunnels under Honningbrew, all the while hatching his mad plot to get revenge with an army of skeever. I disposed of Hamelyn’s body and planted the poison in the nest. I made my way into the boilery where I opened the vat for the Honningbrew Reserve and dumped the remaining poison inside. I retraced my steps back through the tunnels, changed back into my common clothes and emerged back into Sabjorn’s bar. Mallus had arrived as well.

We were just in time as the tasting was about to start. Mallus and I watched with some apprehension as Commander Caius took his first sip of Honningbrew Reserve. He immediately spat it out, furious that Sabjorn had not taken care of the pest problem. Despite his protests, Sabjorn was hauled off to prison while Mallus tried to stifle a laugh. Honningbrew Meadery would now become a part of Briar-Black and Maven had handed control of this meadery to Mallus. From indebted servitude to ownership, Mallus got a good deal.

There was one last thing left to do. I told Mallus I needed to access Sabjorn’s books and Mallus gave me the keys to the office upstairs. I unlocked the office and entered. I found a note from Sabjorn’s mysterious benefactor, but there was no name, only a symbol. The same symbol that marked the Goldenglow deed. Coincidence? I think not. Perhaps Maven would know more. I ransacked the room for any remaining gold. Then I sat down at the Sabjorn’s desk and propped my legs up on the table. I ate the salmon steak that Sabjorn had prepared and for the first time since I had entered Skyrim, I took a sip of Honningbrew Mead. It was actually quite delicious.

It was getting late, so I bid farewell to Mallus and made my way back to Whiterun. Back at Whiterun, I managed to make it into Belethor’s store before closing time. I sold him some books that I had already read. I then stopped at the Temple of Kynareth to cure myself of the poison from the skeever bite. I was in no rush to get back to Maven and there were jobs out west in Solitude and Maraketh that I had to take care of. I took my dinner in the back room of The Bannered Mare and then took to an early sleep. Tomorrow, I would take a carriage to Solitude.

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