Archive for the month “November, 2011”

Criminal Rising

LOREDAS, 5th of HEARTFIRE

Grelod the Kind

Since there was no cooking pot available at the Bee and Barb, the smith Balimund let me use his to cook a breakfast of grilled chicken this morning. For the next couple of hours, I searched high and low throughout Riften for Hofgrir but could not locate him. I was finally able to find him inside the Riften Stables. He had not noticed me enter so I took advantage of the situation and snatched the Mark of Dibella from his pocket. It was almost noon so I returned to the Honorhall Orphanage. I walked to the back where Grelod’s room was and shut the door. She turned to face me. She seemed to know why I was there and she stared down her fate with the same frigid demeanor. “You think I’m scared of you?” she sneered.

“No, but no one will ever be scared of you again.” I said as I thrust the dagger into her. Her eyes went wide as she collapsed to the floor. At the sound, the children burst into the room. When they discovered that Grelod was dead, they were overjoyed. The other caretaker Constance was frightened out of her wits and hid in a corner pleading with me not to hurt her. I told her to take care of the children or I would be back for her. I left and went to Haelga’s Bunkhouse.

Haelga kept her Statue of Lady Dibella at a shrine around the corner from the front desk. When she wasn’t looking, I grabbed the statue and stowed it away in my knapsack. I approached Haelga and asked if I could buy a room for the night. She refused and said that the rooms were reserved for hard-working merchants only. Then I discreetly laid out all three Marks of Dibella on her desk and asked if she would accept these as payment. Her face went white. She begged me not to tell anyone and gave me a magical Scroll of Hysteria to buy my silence. Apparently, she would be driven out of town if anyone found out she practiced the Dibellan arts.

“Then you won’t care if I drop this then?” I asked, dangling the Statue of Dibella in front of her. Brynjolf was right. She gave up the money she owed without much resistance. Her niece, Svana was pleased to see Haelga squirm and she rewarded me with her father’s old steel helm. She told me it was supposed to endow the wearer with reinforced magic. Now that I had collected all three payments, I ate a late lunch of salmon steak and reported back to Byrnjolf.

Brynjolf was extremely pleased with the job I had done. He compensated for my troubles with a Drought of Light Feet and a Drought Health. Brynjolf confessed that the Guild had run into a rough patch, but he assured me that everything was going to be alright. He then had me follow him into the back room of the Ragged Flagon. He opened a secret cabinet which led to an underground cistern. He introduced me to the Guild Master, Mercer Frey. Mercer was a blunt man of few words. He told me that I was to do what I was told and that there was no tolerance for rule-breaking. After I acknowledged his rules, Frey then decided it was time to put my skills to the test. He wanted me to investigate Goldenglow Estate, a bee farm which was critically important to one of their clients. However, recently the owner, a Bosmer named Aringoth had decided to take matters into his own hand and shut the Guild out. They had previously sent Vex to investigate and she had reported back that Aringoth had hired numerous mercenaries and fortified the entire island. With that out of the way, Mercer and Brynjolf then officially welcomed me into the ranks of the Thieves Guild. Brynjolf suggested that I talk to Delvin Mallory and Vex. They knew their way around and they might have extra jobs for me. Also he suggested I talk to Tonilia who would set me up with my new armor.

I pressed Brynjolf for more details on the Goldenglow Estate job. He told me he wanted to teach Aringoth a lesson by burning down three of the farm’s hives and clearing the safe in the main house. Brynjoff did not want the whole place burnt to the ground, explaining that the client would be furious if that were to occur. I deduced that Maven Briar-Black was the client. If the hives were all burned, then she would have to import the honey and that would cut into her profits. Essentially, Maven allowed the Thieves Guild to extort Aringoth and bring in a huge payout. Pretty good arrangement. Brynjolf told me that Maven preferred if Aringoth were left alive, but I was given license to kill if he gets out of line.

I spent the rest of the evening meeting members of the guild who were extremely welcoming. I met a Cynric Endell, an infamous lock picker and jailbreaker. His last jailbreak failed and he was imprisoned in High Rock for three years. Thus, he had joined the Thieves Guild for protection. He also shared that he had done jobs for the Dark Brotherhood. Perhaps later on, I will be able to get more information from him about the Brotherhood. I also met Vipir The Fleet, who earned his name when during a job, he forgot about the horses and he ran all the way from Windhelm to Riften. There was Rune, an orphaned boy adopted by a fisherman. He got his name because the only possession they had found on him was a tiny smooth stone with strange markings. Rune told me he has never been able to find out what the stone means, but I told him I’d keep an eye out. Then there was a fellow Bosmer named Niruin of Valenwood who had simply joined for the excitement.

Vex at the Ragged Flagon

Back in the main room of the Ragged Flagon, I spoke with Vex. She was a beautiful pale Imperial with sharp features and a permanent scowl. She immediately made two conditions clear. First, she was the best infiltrator the guild had. The second being, that I followed her lead at all times. When I asked her about the Guild’s run of bad luck, she admitted that she wasn’t sure why (Delvin thought it was a curse) but seemed confident that we would make a comeback. I told her that I had been assigned the Goldenglow job. She told me on her last visit Aringoth had tripled the guards, but I should be able to get past them through an unguarded old sewer tunnel on the northwest side of the island. Finally, for some gold Vex showed me some new lock picking tricks. I traded in my existing armor to Tonilia for the Thieves Guild armor and bought an Orcish Bow of Flames which according to Tonilia caused an incredible amount of fire damage with each shot.

I went down to my bed in the cistern and went to sleep.

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Collecting For The Guild

FREDAS, 4th of HEARTFIRE

Eradion

I decided to do a little shopping this morning. After getting out of bed, I ate a meal of cooked beef at the Bee and Barb. I headed over to the Scorched Hammer where I met Balimund, the local smith. I bought some orichalum ingot from him and used the grindstone to improve my newly acquired Orcish bow and sword set. Next, I stopped at a store called the Prawnish Pawn and discovered that the owner Bersi was actually one of my targets. Scanning the room, I saw the Dwarven Urn sitting on a table. I did a little trading and small-talk with Bersi to put him at ease, talking about his problems in Riften and his old boat. Then I went over, picked up the Urn and smashed it while he and his wife cried out in dismay. I grabbed Bersi by the shirt collar and pulled him in, putting a dagger to his throat.

“This is a message from Byrnjoff. Are we clear?” I shook him violently. “ARE WE CLEAR?”

“Yes! Yes!” he cried. “I can’t believe you did that! You people are monsters! First you force us to pay for our protection but you can’t even protect yourselves!” He threw the coin purse down at on the table.

“Don’t make me come back here.” I grabbed the money, slammed the door and left.

After a lunch of pheasant roast, I was strolling around Riften when I passed by the Honorhall Orphanage. Maybe I was just curious to see how bad this Grelod was but against my better judgement I entered. I paused at the doorway listening to Grelod berate the children. She was threatening beatings and then making them thank her. Her words triggered something and I witnessed a scene unfold before me:

A young Bosmer cowered in a corner. A thin pale man standing in front of him. 

“You are mine Pollus. You will do what I want you to do. You will go where I want you to go. No one wanted you and I took you in. I gave you a roof. I gave you food. Do you understand?” He grabbed a handful of hair and yanked the boy’s head back. He placed the edge of dagger against the boy’s face and sliced. A small sliver of red blood formed on his face. “Now thank me.”

“Thank you Galerus.”

“I don’t believe you. Why don’t you show me just how thankful you are?” The man started to loosen his robe. The boy struggled, but the man grabbed his hair even tighter.

——————————————-

I closed my eyes, forcing the submerged memory back down and regaining my composure. I looked down and saw one of the kids looking curiously up at me. He called himself Samuel and he told me that he snuck out when Grelod took a nap at noon. Just then, Grelod saw me and demanded to know what I was doing there. I remained silent. “Get out,” she spit. “You think you can just come in here off the street – “. I didn’t let her finish. I turned and walked out before I did something foolish. Okay Aventus, I thought to myself,  you will have your wish. Tomorrow at noon, it will be my pleasure to speed Grelod’s way to Sovngarde.

Standing the in the cool air for a moment, I took a deep breath and steeled myself back to reality. I returned to the Ragged Flaggon and dropped off the money I had acquired from Bersi. I asked Brynjoff about my next target Haelga and he told me that she was a devoted worshipper of Dibella and kept a statue in her bunkhouse. I left and paid Haelga a visit. She was an unpleasant woman, which was only confirmed when I talked to her niece Svana Far-Shield. Haelga worked Svana ruthlessly and let men grope her. Svana let me in on a secret: Haelga was a rather promiscuous woman and had slept with three men in the past week. After her love-making sessions, she would give them each a Mark of Dibella. Svana wanted to turn the tables on Haelga and asked me to acquire these Marks. I agreed. I walked around Riften for about an hour looking for these men but could not locate them. I decided to put Haelga on the back burner and find out about my last target Keerava. Byrnjoff told me to use Talen-Jei to get to Keerava and that they were “well-acquainted”.

I headed back to the Bee and Barb. I called Talen-Jei over and in a low whisper told him that it was in Keerava’s best interests to pay the Thieves Guild and that he should convince her to do so. Talen-Jei told me that with the Thieves Guild doing poorly in recent times, Keerava had gotten bold but he did not want to see any harm come to Keerava. He told me to use her family in Morrowind as leverage to make her pay and sure enough, when I mentioned it to Keerava she immediately offered up the money. It just so happened at that moment that two of Haelga’s lovers walked into the inn: Bolli and Indryas. It was fairly easy to intimidate Indryas into giving up the Mark, but Bolli was resistant to both threats and intimidation. I excused myself and rented a room for the night. On my way back, I accidentally bumped into Bolli and my hand accidentally found its way into his pocket and grabbed the Mark of Dibella. I went upstairs and got ready for bed. Tomorrow I find Hofgrir and Grelod will find peace at the end of my blade.

Arrival In Riften

TURDAS, 3rd of HEARTFIRE

Riften Market

I awoke at Stalleo’s campsite. It was a cold damp overcast day. A thick fog had settled over the land.  I shared a goat roast leg with Stalleo and his men for breakfast and then parted ways. As I traveled, I was beset by the usual wolf and spider attacks but nothing I couldn’t handle. I met several people on the road. I met a young boy named Gralnach and his mother who lived at Heartwood Mill on the southern edge of the river. I saved a man named Faldrus from a wolf attack. He was actually on a pilgrimage to visit the Shrine of Azura which I faintly remember Hulda, the owner of the Bannered Mare telling me about. Finally, I encountered Talsgar the Wanderer, a traveling bard.

I decided to take a detour to the Shadow Stone before reaching Riften. It was a Guardian stone I had read about in An Explorer’s Guide  To Skyrim. There was a conjuring mage who was guarding the stone, but I was able to defeat him handily. Searching his corpse, I found a Scroll of Guardian Circle, which creates a circle that heals the caster but also repels any undead at the same time. I kept it since it seemed like it could be useful in a tight situation. When I reached out to touch the Shadow Stone, the runes started glowing a bright blue and the slab of rock shot a bright pillar of light into the sky. I felt magic surge through my veins. I looked down at my hands and realized that I was invisible. At first I panicked, but after about a minute I reappeared. I tried to recall the magic, but came up empty. I believe I can only call upon it once a day. I sat down by the stone and ate some horse haunch for lunch.

Riften was close so I quickened my pace. When I arrived, I was turned away at the south gate and told to use the northern entrance. No amount of persuasion would move the guards nor would they tell me why, so I circled the city to its north gate. The stables and carriage service were located by the north gate and on the west side were the docks and fishery. The carriage driver parked at Riften was Sigaar who informed me the city belonged to a Maven Black-Briar and that Riften was the home of the Thieves Guild. But the thieves of the city came in various forms: the guard at the north gate tried to make me pay a tax to enter, but he backed off when I called his bluff.

Riften was a rickety city, cheaply made as if it was put together in a fortnight. My guess is that Riften was a city that grew up around its dock – as trade goods moved in and out of its borders, it became a melting pot of cultures and races. The city appeared to have two levels to it. The top level held the main marketplace, the inn, the temple, and the orphanage. And the bottom level contained the sewers and the city’s poorer residents. The first person I met was Mjoll the Lioness, an adventurer who had travelled all over Tamriel. She was a do-gooder , the kind that got all warm off feelings of gratitude and trust, the kind that didn’t survive long in a city like Riften. As I continued into the city, I was stopped by a shady looking character haughtily leaning against a wood beam. He introduced himself as Maul. He was some Black-Briar hireling, some minor bully with an inflated sense of importance. He warned me not to stick my nose where it didn’t belong. I assured him I’d stay out of his way and walked past him.

I stopped at a stand run by a rude woman named Grelka and sold her some of the items I had scavenged during my travels including Fjola’s Wedding Band.  As I turned around to leave, I was stopped by a man named Brynjolf who had been observing my transactions. “I bet not a single septim you have was earned through honest means.” he said.

“My wealth is none of your business.” I replied brusquely, trying to step around him. He grabbed my arm before I could leave, and leaned in close.

“Oh but that’s where you’re wrong. Wealth is my business. Maybe you’d like a taste.”

My interest was piqued. “What do you have in mind?”  I asked. He told me he was going to create a distraction and he wanted me to steal Madesi’s silver ring from underneath his market stand and plant it on Brand-Shei without him noticing. It was fairly easy and afterwards I watched as Brand-Shei was escorted to prison by the guards. Brynjolf offered me more work and told me to locate him at a tavern called Ragged Flagon. I’m not sure what organization Brynjolf represented but I was willing to put my money on the Thieves Guild – if so, it has proved easier than I thought to attract their attention. It seems as though he’s having me perform some type of initiation test but I can’t be certain. In a city like Riften, associations are critical and the Thieves Guild could offer a certain amount of protection. I decided not to waste time. After a quick dinner at the inn The Bee and Barb, I head straight for the Ratway. I made my way down the stairs to the lower dock. It smelled like rotting fish and wet dog down there. I found the door to the Ratway and entered.

The Ratway was dimly lit and the walls glistened with water. The smell of raw sewage was thick. The lowlifes living in Ratway did not take kindly to strangers and I was forced to fight my way to the Ragged Flagon. I did manage to salvage an Orcish Bow from one of the thugs though. It was a stout pale green bow that looked as if it were carved from jade. When I found him in the Ragged Flagon, Brynjolf seemed surprised that I had made it. He asked me to carry out three tasks for him. There were three people in Riften that had borrowed money from their organization and refused to pay it back. He wanted me to send a message to them. They were Keerava (who I recognized as the barkeep of The Bee and Barb), Haelga, and Bersi Honey-Hand. I asked Brynjolf about Bersi and he told me that Bersi’s most valued possession was a Dwarven urn and that smashing it would send a clear message. I returned to The Bee and Barb and rented a room for the night. Tomorrow I plan on collecting.

Infiltrating Treva’s Watch

MIDDAS, 2nd of HEARTFIRE

 

The journey towards Riften continued after a breakfast of apples and tomatoes. An odd combination, I know, but food supplies were running low. The sound of leaves cracked under my feet as I walked through the forests. Birch trees with vibrant gold and red leaves sparsely populated the forest. Out of nowhere, I was hit in the face with poisonous venom. As I furiously tried to wipe the venom off my face, I saw a frostbite spider moving towards me. I reached for the Bow of Cowardice and sent it fleeing the way it came. This bow is truly useful in that it buys me some time, but having to chase after the creature can be problematic. For example, as I was pursuing the spider, I was assailed by two wolves and at the same time the magic had lost its grip over the spider so I found myself in even deeper water than before. Nonetheless, I was able to defeat the beasts and made my way to a small camp across the river.

When I approached the camp, a man by name of Stalleo eagerly greeted me. He seemed to believe that I was the reinforcements he had sent for, and I was going to help him retake his family castle, Treva’s Watch, which was seized during the war by someone named Bruid. Now he claimed his family was trapped inside. He promised me a reward and whatever items I’d find inside. I had declined him and I was half way back across the bridge when I stopped and looked back. There was bound to be a lot of gold and treasure in that castle. Part of me kept telling myself to keep walking. The other half welcomed the challenge and the potential findings within. I finally walked back over to Stalleo and told him that I had changed my mind. He laid out the plan of attack for me.

As directed by Stalleo, I infiltrated Treva’s Watch from the  castle’s back escape tunnel. I made my way through the castle slowly, silently eliminating enemies in a single shot. I would take out as many enemies as I could from a distance, switch to my sword when discovered, and using a combination of retreating and healing to aid me with the harder foes. I looted bodies and chests, grabbing gold and potions as I went along. Creeping through the castle’s dusty cellar, I eventually came up into the castle itself. In a chest, I discovered an orcish sword. It was a cruelly jagged blade designed to hook and pull an enemies’ guts out. Not a clean kill, but certainly a painful one. I also found some valuable jewelry that would fetch a good price at a trader as well as a steel shield that was frost-resistant. The shield could be useful back in that cave I found yesterday.

At the front door, I pulled the lever, opening the gate and Stalleo and his two men rushed inside to clean up any remaining enemies. There had been dead bodies inside Treva’s Watch but as I was unable to identify them I told Stalleo I did not find any sign of his family. I half-suspected that the story of his family may have been concocted by Stalleo to prey on sympathy and that the castle wasn’t even really his. But I had reaped the benefits of what the castle held and furthermore Stalleo thanked me by teaching me a spell called Detect Life. The spell could sense living creatures through walls which seemed very useful in a stealth situation. The infiltration of Treva’s Watch had taken the entire day. I took advantage of the hospitality of Stalleo’s nearby camp for the night.

Witches And Animal Heads

TIRDAS, 1st of HEARTFIRE

A  new month starts today. I made my way back down Mistwatch’s tower, stopping to eat a breakfast of apple cabbage soup and bread. When I reached Christer and told him the bad news about Fjola, he couldn’t accept it and began to attack me with his fists. I had no choice but to strike him down. I struck out west from Mistwatch until I arrived at Darkwater Crossing, which was a small farmhouse next to the river. There was a mine close by and a modest harvest of wheat and potatoes sat in the front yard. Stormcloak officers had set up tents next to the river and they patrolled the area. They let me use their grindstone to improve the Imperial Bow I had found in Mistwatch, using steel ingots to improve the weighting. When I was satisfied, I crossed the bridge and started heading south. There was a sign post pointing towards Riften so I continued heading in that direction. From what I’ve heard about Riften, it seems to be a haven for the criminal underworld. Perhaps I can find more information on the Dark Brotherhood there and locate this Astrid who signed my death note.

This area was populated by a large number of sabre cats. The first one I encountered, I was able to subdue with magic and slay it while under my command. The next one I decided to use the bow that the fugitive near Windhelm had given me. I shot an arrow into the beast and instead of running towards me it turned and ran uphill. It was a Bow of Cowardice! I pursued the cat into the forest to finish it off when I was suddenly beset by a pack of wolves. I had to fight them off before I went after the sabre cat again. I soon found it again and shot another arrow imbued with the bow’s cowardice magic. Every time the spell’s active effects started wearing down, I would fire another arrow into the cat until it was at such low health I could easily finish it with my sword.

I got back on the path and started walking towards Riften again. For supper, I sat by the road’s edge and had a mammoth steak with tomatoes. The mammoth steak was very gamey and tough but I enjoyed it. I passed by a cave. In the front, goat heads had been stuck on pikes. It was going to be dark soon and I needed shelter so I headed inside. Inside there were more grotesquely posed animal heads on stakes. Deeper in the cave, I disposed of some stray skeevers feeding on the carcass of a dead deer. I then stripped the deer of its hide and antlers and continued further in.

The cave opened up into a huge underground chamber. There were two witches inside which I dispatched from a distance. The chamber contained even more beheaded animals. What was going on here? There was a side tunnel that led deeper into the cave, but as I moved through it, I suddenly felt a piercing pain through my shoulder. There was a magical tower that could detect movement and shot jagged ice shards. I retreated back to the central chamber. There was no way I was going to make it past that tower right now. The mystery of the witches and the animal head cult would have to wait. I ate a venison chop and eider cheese for supper in the central chamber. I wasn’t going to stay there for the night so I headed back into Skyrim.

Further along, I saw a bright glow in the distance. As I began to investigated, I discovered that it was actually a nirnroot farm. I had never seen so many nirnroot growing together. In unison, the plants gave off a very audible high-pitched frequency and glow. I met Avrusa Sarethi, who claimed to be the only person alive that could cultivate nirnroot from a seed to a full grown plant. She used to be an alchemist in Vivec City, but left when the Red Mountain erupted. She said she had her hands full, between farm chores, cultivating nirnroot and keeping a tight rein on her sister she seemed extremely exhausted. I wished her luck and returned to the path to keep moving.

A short distance away I discovered a small campwith a tent, bedroll, and cooking pit. I also found an intriguing note that read: Go to the island near the edge of the lake. Look for where a great tree once stood. That is where I buried it. As I looked out, sure enough there was an island near the edge of the lake and two dark figures that stood next to the remains of a tree. When I approached, the figures turned out to be treasure hunters who immediately attacked me. I defeated them and uncovered the treasure: a mere 37 gold. I returned to the camp and went to sleep disappointed.

Mistwatch

MORNDAS, 31st of LAST SEED

I gathered up my equipment this morning and ate a quick breakfast of apple and cheese. Shortly afterwards, I emerged back into the world from my cave.  The sun was blinding as I stepped outside. I headed south following the foot of the eastern mountains. A short ways down, I discovered a most curious sight. Built into the face of the mountain was a building with construction that I had never seen before. Curved pipes stuck out from the walls, blowing billows of steam into the air. The stone walls were carved with intricate ornate designs, framing massive golden doors. Separate from the main building was a storeroom which contained old Dwemer pottery and artifacts. Could this be a stronghold of the fabled lost race? I was unable to enter further into the storeroom as the locks were above my skill, but I grabbed an armful of Dwarven ingot and made my exit. I entered the main building itself, but found that the inner door required a key. I marked the location on map for further investigation and continued south.

The land down here was dry and arid. Clouds of dust were picked up by the wind. Suddenly, I was attacked by a huge sabre cat. I started running, climbing furiously to get out its reach. I finally managed to be able to escape and found myself looking over area populated by pockets of shallow water with steam geysers. A giant stood at the edge the water over the corpse of a mammoth. It gave me an idea. I was able to lure the sabre cat towards the giant. The cat turned its attention to the giant, who killed it with one swing from his club. There were two other sabre cats ahead in the distance and I employed the same tactic to take care of them. I need a giant as a companion.

When I approached, the giant did not try and warn me off. He stood there motionless, staring at me. This was the first time I had seen a live giant up close. His skin was a bluish-gray and tough as leather. His breath deep and sonorous. I skinned the sabre cat and took the snout and tusk from the mammoth. I moved a distance aways and took a bath in the warm geyser spring, letting the steam enter my pores. I sat at the water’s edge and ate a meal of mammoth steak and apples. When I was ready, I started off again.

In the distance were the ruins of an old fort. As I approached, I realized that this was Mistwatch. I remembered the frightened woman who had told me how the bandits held her here before she managed to escape. I needed a place to stay for the night and bandits were easy prey so I crept slowly towards the fort. I detected an archer standing at the top of the fort walls, so I took aim from a distance and sent an arrow straight through his heart. I then moved to the other entrance of the fort and eliminated the guard that was standing there. I peered inside and detected three remaining bandits. I notched my arrow and took another one down which alerted the other two. Pulling out my sword, I made quick work of the remaining bandits. The other one proved more difficult, but with a little running and healing I was able to defeat him. I lowered the drawbridge and crossed into the Northern Tower.

As I snuck through the halls, I ran into a man named Christer who was here looking for his wife Fjola. He told me that he had heard bandits here were ransoming captives and his wife had been missing for months so he came here to search for her. He begged me to try and find her.  I agreed to look out for his wife if only to calm him down. He gave me a key one of the guard’s had dropped and thanked me profusely.

I used the key Christer gave me to unlock the main door in to the tower. I snuck through the halls silently – using the bow to take out enemies from a distance and the sword to finish off any who got too close. I continued my upward ascension through the towers – fighting my way through bandits. In the tower, I found an Imperial bow and a pair of nice Stormcloak officer boots which I equipped. At the top of the eastern tower, I encountered the bandit leader herself who was in fact Fjola. She had left Christer and assembled a group of bandits. It was clear that she refused to surrender so we entered into a fight. She had a shield and a sword that dealt fire damage. I circled her, waiting for her to lower her guard and then I would come in and attack. After finishing off Fjola, I was exhausted and collapsed onto one of the nearby beds. Bringing the news to Christer would have to wait until tomorrow.

Another Day In The Cave

SUNDAS, 30th of LAST SEED

 

The smell of lavender and milk-honey. I slowly opened my eyes and found myself staring into a pair of green eyes. It was Irwaen.

Her face broke into a smile. “Hey you.” she said.

“W-where am I?” I stammered, trying to shake the sleep off.

“At our home in Falinesti. Where else would you be?” she laughed. A musical laugh like bells. She leaned over and planted a quick kiss. Then she wrapped herself and got out of bed, humming that song she always loved. I propped myself up on my elbows and looked around. It was a small modest room, the walls made of stretched animal pelts and a steel cooking pot to the side. Out the window, I made out a sea of green, populated with lights and structures nestled in the branches of a tree. I was in Valenwood.

“What about Galerus? The dragon? We have to keep moving.” I said.

“We’re far away, Eradion. No one will ever hurt us here.” She sat by my side and put her arms around me. I embraced her in return for what seemed like an eternity. “E-Eradion…I-I…” she whispered, her voice faltering.

“What is it?” I pulled away from her and looked down. A small circle of blood appeared on her robe and start expanding. She looked down and then up at me, her face a pale mask of fear. “No. No. No.” I repeated frantically, trying to stem the blood from her body. But it wouldn’t stop. She started coughing up blood. “Stay with me Irwaen. Please.” I pleaded, cradling her body and trying to keep her head upright. But it was no use, her body fell limp in my arms. I still held onto her, covered in her blood. I kissed her, taking in her smell like a beggar savoring the dying embers of a fire. The smell of lavender and milk-honey.

——————————————————-

When I awoke, I was uncertain what time it was. There is no day and night here. Only the wind in the tunnels and the patient rhythm of water droplets. This is going to be my last day here. I cannot wait out the rest of my life in a cave, alone with my thoughts, waiting to die. Today, I kept myself active, practicing my archery and swordplay. I also read several books when I wasn’t eating or practicing.

Books I read today:

  • A Dream of Sovngarde (in which Skarden Free-Winter recalls has a dream the night before the siege on the Imperial City – he visits Sovngarde, the Nord afterlife and sees all the great heroes)
  • Aedra and Daedra (about the differences between Aedra and Daedra. Aedra means “ancestor” and represent stasis. Daedra means “not our ancestors and represent change)
  • Ode to the Tundrastriders (a poem about mammoths and hunting skeevers)
  • Pension of the Ancestor Moth (about the order that tends to the ancestor moths – they are gifted with the ability to read the Elder Scrolls but grow blinder with each subsequent read.)
  • Pirate King of the Abacean (a cautionary poem about Velekh Sain, the pirate king of the Abacean)
  • Rising Threat, Vol. II (picks up where Volume 1 left off. After the gates of Oblivion are closed, the Thalmor take credit and the Altmer willingly give in. The Thalmor silence any opposition which causes the author great consternation)
On a different note, for dinner I cooked some horker meat for the first time which was incredibly rich and fatty.

Settling In

LOREDAS, 29th of LAST SEED

Slept in this morning. I thought for sure I had been poisoned during the frostbite spider attack yesterday, but it has somehow healed itself and I feel no ill effects. Bosmers have a natural resistance to disease and poisons, so perhaps nature has simply taken its course.  Today, I am taking a break and lounging around in my new cave-home. I made myself a breakfast of roast venison with carrots and cabbage. First things first, I dragged all of the corpses into a pile out front, stopping only when I was hungry. Hopefully, a pile of corpses would act as deterrent to any bandits passing by, well short of sticking the heads on pikes for dramatic effect. When I was finally finished, I settled down to read some books.

  • Alduin Is Real by Thromgar Iron-Head, prowd Nord (a poorly written expose on the differences between Akatosh and Alduin)
  • An Explorer’s Guide to Skyrim by Marcius Carvain, Viscount Bruma (details the location of four Guardian Stones: the ones by Helgen which I visited, the Ritual Stone by Whiterun which I had run into earlier in my travels, and another two – the Shadow Stone and one in the mountains above Korskeggar Mine by Markarth)
  • Rising Threat, Vol. 1 by Lathenil of Sunhold (a recounting of the sacking of the Altmer Crystal Tower by the daedric forces of Oblivion)
  • The Firmament by Ffouke (a book about the signs. As I’m unaware of when I was born, I do not know what sign I was born under)
  • Troll Slaying (what it sounds like. Learned some valuable information. Speed and aggression are keys to defeating trolls. Their weakness is fire and one should either bring a shield or be an expert at parrying)
  • Wabbajack (the personal writings of someone who went mad from summoning Sheogorath)
When I finally tired of reading, I made myself a dinner of rabbit haunch and garlic and then lay in bed, staring at the cave ceiling and thinking to myself. Maybe I’ll just stay in here forever, become one of those crazy hermits that talks to themselves, let Skyrim tear itself apart from within while dragons burn it all down. Now, that sounds like a great plan.

Desperate Survival

FREDAS, 28th of LAST SEED

Some more apple cabbage soup for breakfast, topped off with shredded eider cheese.  I spent some time preparing for the journey ahead. I wrapped the grip of my hunting bow with leather straps. Improving the grip on the bow has reduced the torque and ensured that my hand would not slip. I decided to continue following the river north to see where it takes me. I retrieved my horse from the stables and left Windhelm. Close to the city, I passed by an old tomb. In front, a large plate held various offerings. Among them was a book called Yngol and the Sea-Ghosts on the plate. I skimmed through the book and found out that Yngol had been a kinsman of Ysgramor. This was during the time when the Nords were first arriving in Tamriel. Yngol disappeared during the fight with the sea-ghosts and a barrow was built for him. If this was true and this was the tomb of Yngol then it had to be ancient. As I peered into the darkness of the tomb, I heard someone running behind me. When I turned around I saw a shirtless fugitive who shoved a bow into my hands. He told me to hold onto it and that he would be back for it. He wouldn’t say anymore except that if I tried to switch or double-cross him, he would kill me. After he ran off, I examined the bow. It looked like a common Imperial Bow, but it gave off a magical glow. As I walked back to the horse, a breathless hunter ran up to me  and asked if I had seen anyone with a bow running this way. I lied and told him I hadn’t. Not because I care for the fugitive, but because I intended on keeping the bow and furthermore, who am I to snitch out a thief.

As I continued traveling, the horse suddenly reared in horror and I was thrown from the saddle. A giant frostbite spider had appeared from nowhere. I screamed in pain as it sank it’s fangs into my arm. Panicking, I stabbed at the spider until it recoiled and I scrambled away, climbing atop a rocky outcropping. I recalled the healing magic I had learned and applied it to my wounds. I was backed up against the stone and I could hear the clickity-click of the spider’s legs on the other side. I waited for an opportune moment. And when it neared, I rounded the corner and attacked again until finally it lay dead in the snow. The healing magic had closed the wound on my arm, but the poison still flowed through my veins. I would have to find a cure soon. Worse, the horse had disappeared on me. I ran around the frozen wasteland trying to find her, but she was nowhere to seen. I couldn’t waste anymore time looking so I had no choice but to continue on foot.

I soon discovered that the passage north was blocked off by the sea and there was no way I could swim in sub-zero water temperatures, so I turned south. I did find an isolated cabin that was occupied with bandits. I dealt with the four bandits inside and scavenged the location for food.  I was still heading south when I met what appeared to be a group of Imperial guards on the road. On the ground, lay corpses stripped of their possessions. It turns out these were actually bandits and when I refused to pay them, they attacked. Their leader, a great Orc outmatched me in both size and strength. I tried to time his axe swings and move in when he was open. But he caught me with a blow that nearly killed me. My only advantage was speed and so I ran, jumping over rocks to gain distance. I turned around, pulled out my bow out and managed to send an arrow flying through his knee. He collapsed to the ground. I watched him as he tried to inch to safety, dragging his injured leg through the snow. I stood over him and walked alongside him in his last moments as he crawled pitifully and begged for mercy. And then I drove my sword through his chest.

It was now getting late and the wind had started to pick up. I knew I had to keep moving or else I would certainly die, if not from the cold then the poison would eventually overcome me. I kept moving south, climbing uphill through thick ploughs of snow when I stumbled upon a horrific scene. It was an encampment of sorts, but there were cages with human bones strewn about. Something terrible had happened here. The enchanting altar suggested necromancy, but I wasn’t going to stay and find out. I kept climbing. Higher and higher I went, fingers gripping cold icy rock.

I thought I had been saved when I came to a fort called Nazulbur, but that relief was short-lived. When I approached the fort, I was turned away. The stronghold belonged to the Orcs and was not welcoming of outsiders. I pleaded with them to let me in for one night, but they would only do so if I found some kind of treasure for them. That was not an option – I needed shelter for the night or I was going to die. I continued moving. Finally, I managed to come out on the other side of the mountain where the snow started to thin out. I was attacked by a conjurer in the middle of the forest, guarding some cave entrance. After swiftly dispatching him, I ventured inside the cave to seek shelter.

A group of conjurers had made this cave their home to practice their dark arts without interruption. I crept through the tunnels silently sticking to the shadows using my bow to take out anyone I found. The narrow tunnels provided excellent choke points through which to lure  enemies away from the main group and take them out individually. They summoned a number of flame atronachs as guardians which required a certain amount of dodging and retreating. After systematically, clearing out the caves I could scarcely believe my luck. Here was a huge warm cave packed with books, soft dry beds, and enough food to last me for a week at least. These past few days have been rough. I’ve had assassins and hired thugs after me, lost my horse, and nearly froze to death in the eastern mountains of Skyrim. But maybe things are starting to look up.

Windhelm

TURDAS, 27th of LAST SEED

Windhelm

I swear to Arkay I’m going to kill that bard if she doesn’t stop playing the drums this early in the morning. My back is in pain – I must have passed out in my armor with the sword sheath uncomfortably wedged against me. I slowly worked out the soreness and left the room. I decided that I was going to explore Windhelm a little  bit more. I cooked a hot bowl of apple cabbage soup with bread, sat down by the fire upstairs and started reading Aevar Stone-Slinger. The book was a old tale of a Skaal hero named Aevar who went through several tasks to retrieve the Gifts that had been taken from the Skaal people by the Adversary.

After finishing up my meal, I left Candlehearth and began to explore the West Quarter of Windhelm. To the southwest, were the markets. I met the castle blacksmith Oengul War-Anvil and bought 50 iron arrows from him. At the stalls, there was Niranye who sold weapons and arms.There was also Aval Atheron who worked the meat stall. And Hillevi Cruel-Sea who sold vegetables. I was perusing food in the stalls, when a man stopped me and asked me if I had been sent by Viola. I told him no and he introduced himself as Captain Lonely-Gale, an ex-sailor. The Captain said Viola Giordana was a busybody that had her nose in everybody’s business. When I asked him about the people in Windhelm, he pointed out there was a famous writer named Adonato staying at the inn and that the two main clan-houses in Windhelm were Shatter-Shield and Cruel-Sea.

Captain Lonely-Gale shared that there were three victims found so far in the murder cases – all young ladies. Interesting. This Butcher (as they called him) – wasn’t an assassin carrying out a shadow order. No, his pattern of his victims suggest an all-together different modus operandi. I may be grasping for straws, but my lead on the Dark Brotherhood has gone cold. And while this Butcher isn’t an assassin, he may also have had contact with them. Unfortunately, all of my leads on the murder have also turned up nothing.

I also visited the local alchemist at The White Phial. I walked in on Nurelion arguing with his assistant Quintus. Turns out Nurelion was looking for the the legendary bottle that gave the shop its namesake. It was a small container phial that would replenish whatever fluid was placed inside. Some skooma addict right now is watering at the mouth. I bought an Invisibility Potion Recipe from Nurelion which I thought could come in handy. The ingredients that I needed were Ice Wraith Teeth and Chaurus Eggs – not ingredients I was familiar with but Ice Wraith Teeth doesn’t seem like something easily acquired. Also located in the West Quarter were the Hall of Dead with its cemetery and the Temple of Talos. To the northwest were the more affluent residencies including the clan houses of Shatter-Shield and Cruel-Sea. Interesting, how even the city layout of Windhelm clearly demarcated its racial and social divides.

Back in the Gray Quarter, I stopped in Sadri’s Used Wares. To my surprise, he carried some Chaurus Eggs – one of the ingredients in the Invisibility Potions. I bought two and traded in my copy of Aevar Stone-Slinger. Next I stopped in Calixto’s House of Curiosities, a rather unimpressive collection of oddities and junk that Calixto had gathered from all over Tamriel including old Dwemer potter and animal skulls. He offered me a tour, but I declined. I returned to Candlehearth and a had a midday meal of salmon steak with tomatoes. It was easy to spot the author Adonato Leotelli upstairs in a corner as he was the only person furiously writing.   He told me that he was supposed to deliver his manuscript for Olaf and the Dragon but had been delayed because of the roads. I agreed to deliver it for him – mostly out of curiosity. When I flipped through the pages, I was disappointed to discover that it was the same book I had read a couple of days ago. Either Adonato’s manuscript had been leaked or he was sending me on some fool’s errand.

I was walking downstairs when I walked past Rolff.

“You! You a Dark-Elf lover? Get out of our city you filthy piece of trash.” I tried to ignore him. “Pit bait.” he called after me. “100 Septims says I can knock you back to where you came from.” I should have known better, but this man needed to be knocked down a notch so I accepted his challenge. It was fairly easy to dodge Rolff’s wild swings and counterpunch him. I finally staggered him and he went down to his knees. Without saying much, he wiped the blood from his lip, paid up and left. A flexible tree branch beats an unyielding stone-fist, Galerus used to say.

Later that night, I overheard Viola talking to Captain Lonely-Gale. Sounds like Viola has a thing for the Captain. Viola repeatedly tried propositioning the Captain, but Lonely-Gale declined saying that he still was not over his wife’s death. I tried asking Viola about the murders, thinking that she might have heard some gossip but she was much too absorbed with herself to provide any useful information. After a small dinner of roast chicken and cabbage, I retired to bed, frustrated with the inability to find a lead on this Butcher. Tomorrow, I head out of Windhelm.

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