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.
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
“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.
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.
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.
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…