A Nomad in Skyrim – Day VI

These pages are extracts from the diary of Adrian Caro, a nomadic Imperial who recently crossed the border into the harsh but beautiful province of Skyrim.

I lay in bed for a little while this morning, after waking early from a dreamless
sleep. The bright weather, or so I judged from the shafts of light penetrating the
windows, matched my mood. The events of yesterday have lifted my spirits immeasurably,
the only image that recurs being my arrow soaring majestically to its target.
I reached across and touched my hunting bow, its weight felt right in my hand,
like I had been missing a limb almost. After a while I decided to get up and
sat down quietly at the table, making sure not to wake Alvor and Sigrid. A venison
chop from my first kill in Skyrim was my breakfast, along with a draught of water.
Alvor was not far behind me in rising, he never seemed to oversleep, every morning
bright and early he would rise, break his fast and then work his furnace until
evening. He is a hard worker and a good man, I shall be sorry to leave.

We exchanged ‘good morning’s and I told him of my intention to leave his house
and stay at the inn, he was very kind and told me to stay but I think we both
knew that this arrangement could not go on for much longer. The Sleeping Giant
is expensive but I would simply have to work at the saw mill to generate the
money. “If you ever need a place to stay you know where to find us,” he said.
“You are a good man Adrian Caro, Skyrim could do with a few more men such as
yourself in these bleak times.” I was touched by his words and we toasted Skyrim
with tankards of mead to mark my last breakfast under his roof. Hadvar soon joined
us and, after expressing similar sentiments to Alvor, talked of Skyrim and what
I would do next. “Whiterun is not far from here, half a day’s walk perhaps, the
plains surrounding the city are teeming with game, Giants too, but mostly game.”
I chuckled. “You would have me hunt amongst Giants?! I’m afraid my arrows wouldn’t
even break their hide.” We chatted merrily for a while that morning, a few more
tankards of mead were emptied too. By the time it was nearing noon Dorthe
and Sigrid had both joined us and the house was livelier than it had been
since mine and Hadvar’s arrival.

Ah Alvor, how I shall miss you and your seemingly innumerable deer heads.

At midday I packed my bag and took my leave of Alvor and his family after expressing
my sincerest gratitude. If my mood was bright earlier in the morning it was
positively buoyant when I left. I couldn’t sit around drinking all day however,
I needed gold otherwise I’d be back at Alvor’s the very same night, my coin
purse was so light. My bow would put food on the table but, until my crafting
skills increased or I brought in enough  meat to sell, I would need to chop
wood in order to put a roof over my head. It was a bright day, as it oft seemed
to be in Riverwood, lying in a steep-sided valley as it did. The high mountains
on either side protected the village from the worst of Skyrim’s weather, fashioning
a small idyll in their shadow.

I’ve never seen a witch before but….

The village itself was busy, as busy as a tiny village ever gets anyway. I passed
that mad old woman again on my way to the mill, she only seemed to quit her post
at her front porch to go to sleep. Hod was hard at work as usual, using those
tree trunk arms to lift tree trunks. He stopped when I entered the mill and said
how good it was to have me back after my ordeal with the bandits, I don’t remember
telling him about it but I suppose news travels fast in such a small village.
Despite everything I’ve been through he said that work will be a little scarce
in the coming days as he had just taken on a new worker, an Imperial by the
name of Zander. A hard worker by Hod’s account, he even helped him out at the
sawmill itself. I couldn’t help but feel a little put out by this news, nobody
likes to be made redundant in any degree but this Zander fellow sounds like a
hard-working man, with a somewhat higher aptitude for this line of work than
myself.

My good mood only softly dampened I turned to go to my chopping station when I
noticed a man already using it, a Bosmer to be more specific. I had seen him
around before but we have never spoke, I also had a feeling that this
may just be Faendal, Sven the oh-so-charming bard’s rival for Camilla Valerius.
He had a bow and a quiver of arrows on his back, as I had
noticed on occasion before, so I used our common interest to strike up a conversation.
“Hail friend, you are a keen archer I surmise?” I asked, he admitted that he was and
went on to say that he even gives lessons. I asked him why such a competent
archer was chopping wood for a living and not hunting or fighting and, from
his reply, gathered that he was in fact in a similar situation to myself.
“There is not much call for archery lessons in Riverwood, for a village with
so much bountiful country there are surprisingly few hunters and the few that
hunt around these parts are solitary creatures.”

The Two Amigos

We talked for a while, mostly about archery and hunting, sharing hunting tales
and swapping tips. It was the first time in a while that I had someone to talk
to about these things, in Cyrodil I had Sael but for almost five years now I
have had no constant companions. The day seemed to pass more quickly when talking
to Faendal and, in no time at all, the sky was darkening. I bid Faendal farewell
and traded my firewood for 200 septims from Hod. For the foreseeable future I
planned to stay at the Sleeping Giant Inn and so headed there first to book a
room for the night, afterwards I planned to use up the precious few remaining
hours in the day catching salmon at the waterfall nearby.

I had not been hunting so my venison stock had ran out so I ordered beef stew
from Orgnar, fancying a stout meal after a long day chopping. I also had him
refill my water bottles which cost an astonishingly expensive 5 septims. No
sooner had I mopped up the last of my stew than Sven had stopped playing his
infernal bongo drum and started pestering me again regarding Camilla Valerius.
After meeting Faendal I already had an idea of what my course of action would
be and Sven’s pestering and scheming did not help matters in his favour. After
reminding me several times of what I was to do he strolled off looking very smug
indeed, doubtless he believed that he would soon be the sole prospective suitor
of Camilla. He believed wrong.

I honest do not see what all the fuss is about but here goes!

Walking into the Riverwood Trader I saw that Camilla was sat at her usual seat
bickering with her brother, I walked over and handed her the letter, telling
her that Sven wanted to trick her into believing that it was from Faendal. She
was shocked and embarrassed but was otherwise fine. Judging from her reaction
I don’t believe she was ever seriously interested in Sven anyway and I certainly
don’t blame her! She thanked me for telling her the truth and then asked me.
“Could you talk to Faendal, as well? I’m sure he’ll want to thank you for
standing up for him.” I promised her that I would and apologised for the whole
business but she assured me that it was not my fault. At this point I, as well
as Camilla, was a little embarrassed about the whole sorry affair. The three
of them had been acting like a trio of school children rather than mature adults
and I had gotten myself involved.

Carry on playing your flute Sven, you’ll find out soon enough (insert evil laugh)

By the time I left the Riverwood Trader it was dark and Faendal was nowhere to
be seen so, deciding to speak to him tomorrow, I headed to the Sleeping Giant
to finally book a room and go to bed. I walked past Sven on the way to the bar
and he gave me such a smug look that it was all I could do not to tell him, but
I’m sure he’ll find out soon enough. Orgnar told me that I should see Delphine
about a room, who I’m assuming is the woman who’s always standing around the bar.
She appears to be wary when I talk to her saying that I am that ‘traveller that
keeps poking around’ I can’t think of what I have done to deserve such suspicion,
but I shrug it off and order a room for the night. The room seems cosy enough,
not nearly as cosy as Alvor’s but it is my own, at least for tonight.

I’ve slept in better but I’ve certainly slept in worse

Today has been a strange day but I am at least glad to get that Camilla Valerius
business out of the way, hopefully that will stop Sven’s approaches on me at the
dinner table. Faendal seems to be a kindred spirit in a lot of ways and I could
perhaps learn a thing or two from him in archery, rusty as I am these days.
Tomorrow I shall head out again on the hunt and have that talk with Faendal that
I promised Camilla, until then it is goodnight Skyrim.

Oh wow Delphine don’t fuss too much please….

A Nomad in Skyrim – Day V

These pages are extracts from the diary of Adrian Caro, a nomadic Imperial who recently crossed the border into the harsh but beautiful province of Skyrim.

Yards of cruel steel flashed before me, raking across my skin, opening a gaping
red wound. Down it came again and again, hacking at my block, breaking it slowly
but surely. Exquisite pain from the wound weakened me until I could no longer
hold up my sword, no longer even stand. I could feel the energy drain from my
body as I struggled to lift up my weapon to block the final blow. The cruel steel
was, for the last time, hoisted into the air. It shone in the sunlight brilliantly,
splashes of red along with pale white. Suddenly it transformed into a
dirty great axe, my adversary’s face grew concealed by a black cowl. I looked
deep into his eyes, pleading for mercy with no voice. But there was no mercy
to be found there, only death and desolation. I grimaced, awaiting the end as
my executioner brought down the great axe…And I awoke.

It was late in the morning when I eventually awoke from my troubled slumber, a
lot later than usual. My body still ached all over from my brush with death
yesterday and I struggled to get out of bed and drag myself over to the
table for a paltry breakfast of stale apples. Now that I was officially a hunter
again thanks to my new bow, my borrowed breakfasts of stale apples and carrot
would hopefully be a thing of the past, from now on it would be succulent meat
killed and cooked by myself FOR myself. It would soon be midday and the apples
did absolutely nothing for me so I decided to write the morning off completely
and head to the Sleeping Giant for a wholesome dinner. After that I would head
out of town to hunt game in a bid to put food on the table and obtain leather
for the rack.

It was a bright afternoon, the road was busy (as busy as Riverwood ever is).
I greeted Hod the lumberjack on my way to the Sleeping Giant, he seemed to be
in good spirits and said “You met Camilla yet? Wouldn’t mind getting my hands
on those trunks.” I have seen Camilla and I didn’t concur, I thought she was
a little on the skinny side for my liking, but I laughed faintly and agreed.
The town drunk Embry, surprise surprise, was sat outside and I nodded to him
too before pushing open the door to the inn. It was inviting inside, the
roaring fire in the middle of the room warming my weary bones. I ordered my
favourite, venison stew, from an ever-cheery Orgnar and sat down to eat at a
table in the corner.

Surely the emptiest Inn in all of Skyrim, maybe Orgnar should start a pub quiz?

The bard was singing a rather rousing song that was about as pro-empire/anti
-stormcloak as one could imagine. “Down with Ulfric the killer of kings, on
the day of your death we’ll drink and we’ll sing.” The innocent bard could scarcely
imagine how close Ulfric Stormcloak had indeed come to his end, only a handful
of people knew. I doubt his death would accomplish much in the grand scheme of
things however, it may even have served to strengthen the rebels resolve, who knows.
The tune was pleasant but I have never been one for propaganda in any form, I
like to think that my views have always been based on logic and political knowledge.
Perhaps my previously staunch allegiance to the Empire really was a case of
accepting what I was born into. I suppose it is difficult to see it objectively
from the cosy seat of Cyrodil, with only Empire sources to rely on for information.
Now that I am at the frontier I can see for myself. By the time my reverie was
broken the bard had stopped playing and had come over to sit on the bench next
to me.

I think I know why the Sleeping Giant is always rammed…

“Faendal thinks he can woo Camilla Valerius away from me. She’s already mine,
I keep telling him,” was Sven’s opening gambit. I sighed, can’t a man eat in peace
around here? Somewhat reluctantly I asked him to elaborate as he seemed rather
urgent to get it off his chest. He went on to explain that he was in fact the
best man in Riverwood and that Faendal had no chance. Camilla seems to be a popular
girl around these parts, I myself thought she was nothing special but then again
I’ve never talked to her. He then gave me a “particularly venomous letter” and
asked me to deliver it to Camilla, saying it’s from Faendal in what I can only
think is an extremely juvenile attempt to sabotage his chances. I simply sat
there, letter in hand, wondering if this was some trick the townsfolk pull on
unsuspecting travellers. Sven’s countenance seemed, however, the very soul of
sincerity. I pocketed the letter and took my leave of the love-struck fool, it
was late afternoon and I had some hunting to do.

You want me to deliver a note to a girl you fancy? How old are you again?

It was still bright when I ventured once again into the valley south of the town,
its pastoral charms a cunning disguise for its many dangers. I decided to tread
very carefully this time. To my great surprise, as I walked toward the river on
my first hunting trip in what seems like an age, I spied across the river a large
elk grazing. I could not believe my luck and slowly pulled my bow from my back.
Crouching down I edged closer to the bank, slowly, so as not to spook the animal.
I nocked an arrow and pulled it back, peering down its length at the oblivious
elk’s thick neck. With the bow in my hand and the target in my sights, my hunting
skills came flooding back and I loosed the arrow.

Time seemed to slow, I could hear my heart thumping in my chest as the arrow
flew over the running water, I could only hope my aim was true. What seemed like
a lifetime later the arrow thumped into the animal’s neck and it dropped to the
ground. I breathed a sigh of relief, I’ve certainly not lost it! I plunged into
the river and crossed to the opposite shore to look upon my prize. It was bigger
than I first thought, a great size for my first kill in Skyrim and only five
minutes into my trip too! I stripped it of its antlers and meat and crossed the
river back to the road. My mood was positively buoyant at this point, particularly
when compared with the dark events of yesterday, if I didn’t bag another animal
on this trip I would be perfectly content.

Not bad for my first kill

I headed further down the road than yesterday, heading straight on south at the
crossroads where east leads back to Helgen when suddenly I heard a shout. I froze,
this could not be happening again! I looked around for the source and, through
the trees could just about discern a campfire with a ferocious looking Nord
standing by it, claymore drawn. He shouted another warning and I edged past,
keeping a safe distance between me and what seemed to be a bandit camp. After
what seemed to be the longest few minutes of my life I came clear of the camp,
the Empire must really have a lot on their plate if they’re allowing bandits to
set up camp this close to the road, doubtless someone a lot richer and more
lightly armed than myself will be losing their goods if not their life soon enough.

Just put the huge sword down and let’s talk….

The rest of my hunting trip was unproductive. Perhaps I had used all my luck
on the elk that I bagged within a few minutes because I saw very little else and
hit nothing. Eventually I decided to head back to Riverwood with my venison and
antlers, again giving the bandit camp a wide berth, thankfully nothing dramatic
occured on the road this time. It was nightfall by the time I reached Riverwood
and I was tired from my trip and so decided to cook up my venison and go to bed.
It had been a good day, I was feeding myself, no longer such a burden on Alvor.
I decided that, before I leave for good, I would leave some food on his table.
Doubtless he would refuse if I offered it to him directly. I was now feeding
myself but I was still sleeping in someone else’s bed, this would have to be
addressed soon, maybe I’ll stay in the Inn now that I have a means of income.
It seems that my wood chopping days are not over after all…

A Nomad in Skyrim – Day IV

These pages are extracts from the diary of Adrian Caro, a nomadic Imperial who recently crossed the border into the harsh but beautiful province of Skyrim.

Greatly encouraged by yesterdays progress in attaining an income I was out of
bed early this morning. Quietly, so as not to wake Alvor and Sigrid, I stole
across the room to the fire to add the salmon steaks I bought yesterday to the
cooking pot. While they were cooking I reviewed my plans for the day, hoping
that it would be as successful as the last. Firstly I would work at the sawmill
until around midday then I’d find the local merchant and buy myself some supplies.
I planned only to explore the valley close to Riverwood but in these parts one
can never be too careful, particularly after what I’ve been through already.
After looking through my supplies I decided I would need a few healing potions,
some light armour and some water for the journey.

It looks like Alvor is a pretty keen hunter himself, that trophy is huuge!

A plan in mind I sat down to break my fast, after a little while Hadvar came
up from the basement to join me, I didn’t even know they had a basement. He
again tried to talk me into joining the Imperial Legion, entreating me to go
to Solitude and speak to General Tullius. Now I am eternally grateful for
what Hadvar has done for me, saving my life, finding me shelter, but I couldn’t
help but find his words a little insensitive. Why in Talos’ name would I want
to join up with those who would have had me killed?! I am a long-serving citizen
of the empire, so to speak, but it will be a long time, perhaps never, before
I can forgive such an offense. Changing the subject I asked him about the Stormcloaks,
wanting to find out a little more about the civil war I seem to have walked into.
He told me that the traitor General Tullius so masterfully captured was Ulfric
Stormcloak and that he wanted to be high king of Skyrim, so much so that he
recently murdered the last one!

I really need to start buying the Black Horse Courier.  Before this news
the civil war meant practically nothing to me, in fact I could not wait to put
it behind me after my brush with death, now I am not so certain.

Hadvar filling me in on the civil war

I finished my breakfast and bid farewell to Hadvar, determined to get on with
the day and not let the news bother me. It was a crisp bright morning, the sun
shone on the peaks of the surrounding mountains, creating a magnificent panorama.
Buoyed by the sight I crossed the road to the Riverwood Trader. It was a pleasant
enough shop, I have certainly been in worse anyway. An Imperial man was stood
behind the counter arguing with a woman of the same ilk sat at a table before
the hearth. Walking to the counter the man greeted me, his name was Lucan Valerius.
For a moment I felt an urge to enquire about what they were arguing over, but
I bit my tongue, I’d had enough drama without getting involved in other people’s
affairs. We talked briefly about affairs in the empire, particularly Cyrodil,
but about nothing I didn’t already know. I bought a pair of leather boots and
bracers they were a little on the large side, being crafted with Nords in mind,
but they just about fit. I also stocked up on healing potions, just in case and
bought out his supply of salt piles for cooking. Lucan too had only three of
these so I had better use them wisely as they seem to be an integral part of
most recipes.

It’s nice to see a fellow Imperial in these foreign climes, even if his prices are higher than High Hrothgar!

With my new pieces of armour, borrowed iron blade and significantly lighter coin-
purse I felt ready enough to head out of town. I bid farewell to Lucan and the
woman with whom he was arguing and left the Riverwood Trader. On the way out of
town I passed a rather haggard looking old woman, she was leaning against the
front porch of the last house on the left. She said nothing but watched me with
accusing eyes all the way out of town. Slightly creeped out I headed south down
the path following the river.

The landscape was nothing like what I had heard, save for the snow-capped peaks
in the distance, it was a lush green idyll as bright and as beautiful as any
valley in my home land. The hills teemed with life, winged insect and spritely game flitted
in and out of my view. The river to my right flowed quickly, the water sparkling
as it flowed down from its lofty origin. Soon I came across a small waterfall,
salmon leapt from the water to complete their hazardous pilgrimage.

Got enough signs there?

I walked slowly down the path so as to fully appreciate my surroundings. With
its magnificent views and plentiful game, I could see myself staying here for
a while. After an hour or so of walking I came to the crossroads near to where
I first started my journey into Skyrim proper. Not wanting to go anywhere near
Helgen I decided to cross the river and explore around the base of the mountain
on the other side. I found a narrow stretch of river and crossed over, heading
west up the mountainside.

After a couple of hours walking my stomach started to rumble so I sat on a rock
by the mountain pass for a spot of dinner, salmon steak washed down with a bottle
of water. I was getting higher up the mountain, high enough so that there was
a gentle haze of snow drifting down from the higher peaks. As I continued along
the mountain path a dark shape began to materialise through the mist which
before long loomed over me. It seemed to be a stone structure of some kind,
perhaps an old fort or outpost. I decided to get nearer and, crouching, I crept
up the slope towards it. I could hear no one in the vicinity and, nearing the
structure, I appeared to be alone. After watching for signs of life for a while
and gathering my courage I started towards it slowly.

All the signs tell me I shouldn’t look but I can’t help it!

A few moments later I felt a sharp pain in my side. An arrow! I hastily drew
my sword, looking furiously for the archer. He was stood by the entrance to the
building and was halfway through nocking another arrow when I fell upon him,
slashing wildly. He tried to draw a dagger but it was too late, even with my
rudimentary swordsmanship he was dead within seconds. I had little time to
celebrate however as almost immediately two more men came running from the
building, this time armed with sword and hammer. Fear shot through me, I am no
warrior just a humble hunter, I feared I would not last long in hand to hand
combat. I snatched up the dead man’s bow and quiver, backing away from the door
as swiftly as possible. I nocked an arrow and let fly, hitting the first assailant
square in the chest. Again I fired hitting him this time in the leg, but he did
not go down. Meanwhile the man with the rather fearsome looking hammer closed
in on me, swinging the giant weapon down toward my head. I managed to dodge away
clumsily and slash at his side, but he did not seem affected and swung again.

My sword almost shattered as I took the blow on its blade, staggering back from
the sheer power of it. I felt another sharp pain, the other assailant had recovered
and was attempting to hack my arm off. The sudden pain caused me to go berserk
and I hacked down on his sword with great fury, breaking his block and ending
his life with a violent hack into his shoulder. By this time I was wounded badly
and quickly downed a couple of healing potions, an almighty crack sounded while
doing so, the sound of a hammer meeting my leg. I cried out in agony, never have
I experienced such pain. The final assailant steadied himself for the finishing
blow, leaning back with that great bloody hammer in the air, but it was not to be.
The hammer was too slow and, mid-swing, I pulled back my sword and thrust it
into his stomach, blood pouring over my arm as I pushed and pushed as hard as
I could. He slumped to the ground, I was still alive.

The pain that followed my attack was nothing like that which I have experienced
before. I drank healing potions and patched my wounds as well as I could and
thanked the Nine for my life before limping inside the building which I almost
died to explore. It appeared to be an old outpost, possibly Imperial. It had
multiple stories and at the top had a wonderful view of Riverwood. There were
also a few chests dotted around containing weapons and potions, I took the
archer’s bow and found myself some more iron arrows. By this time it was nearing
dark so I decided to head back to town before any more bandits turned up. It was
also extremely cold so I stripped the archer of his fur armour (a justified theft
surely!) and donned it over my belted tunic.

It may have almost got me killed to see it, but this view is glorious!

The journey back to town was thankfully uneventful and I was toasty inside my
ill-gotten (but totally justified!) new armour. Upon arrival I headed straight
into Alvor’s for a supper of salmon steak and stale apple and an early night.
Alvor said nothing about my dishevelled appearance, nor did Dorthe or Sigrid,
perhaps they simply did not want to know. I certainly did not want to relive
it and so went straight to bed.

It’s been an eventful day, too eventful for my liking. The next time I see any
strange buildings in the mist I will steer well clear. I’ve only been in Skyrim
for a few days and have already come close to death twice! The one positive
from today is that, with my new-found equipment, I can finally resume my trade
and begin hunting again.