One Thousand and Counting

A particular landmark was struck recently, this blog now has over a thousand views! I’m pretty sure that’s quite a poor stat comparatively speaking but I don’t care, I’m happy in the knowledge that the words I have written have been viewed a thousand times. What often astonishes and sometimes amuses me is the vast range of nationalities that view my blog. Perusing my site stats, as I often do (sad I know), I see that people from the most random places on Earth have checked out my blog. The other day I had a view from Bosnia and Herzegovina (I love that word), oddly enough.  This blog started out as a platform for me to air my thoughts and views, mainly on personal matters and sometimes I’d post opinion-based stuff. Back in those days, over a year ago in fact, views were hard to come by. I had one or two followers, the only one I can remember being Kato Mckracken, who’s posts I have shamefully neglected to read for some weeks now, apologies for that. A big thank you goes to her for encouraging me in those early days with her comments and feedback.

If I had carried on as I was, writing solely about myself and my opinions, I surely would not have 1000+ views by now. The reason for this spike is, of course, ‘A Nomad in Skyrim’. When I first started writing about Adrian’s adventures I thought that it would have a small audience, primarily myself and the few friends I could pressure into reading it. Little did I know of the community of fan fiction writers that now make up a fair portion of my viewership. Bloggers like Lo Zin, The Quixotic Bedhead, KitDoctor, Erica and a few others that I try my damndest to keep up with. One guy that has inspired my blog more than others though is Pyrelle, his was my very first comment on day one of ‘Nomad’ and his ‘Misadventures of Zander‘ was early inspiration for my own writing. The last shoutout, but not least, goes to Elspeth Aurilie.

In the beginning (very biblical) I basically modelled ‘Nomad’, as I have said previously, off of “Living in Oblivion” an Elder Scrolls roleplaying blog that was lighthearted, funny and did a fantastic job of poking fun at the game on which it was based. I, of course, tried to emulate it and I’m not sure how well I managed it to be honest, I guess you guys can be the judge of that. At the time I was busy reading Pyrelle’s blog which, by the by, nailed and continues to nail the more…humourous side of Skyrim role-playing. I started out with a very sketchy backstory written on Notepad for Adrian, but only to help immerse me in the role-playing aspects of the game. I then began reading the very singular story of Elspeth which, with its detailed lore and deep characterisation, inspired me to shift the focus from an attempt at humour to one at a story, the story of Adrian Caro to be precise. In recent posts I have revealed more of his story and, hopefully, given his character and those around him a lot more depth and I intend to carry on in this vein.

Anyhoo this was only supposed to be a brief post, thanks again to all my readers from the US  to Lithuania and thanks again to all those whose blogs I enjoy and seek inspiration from.

Adantur out.

P.S. I expect to be paid for this blatent advertising  ;]

A Nomad in Skyrim – Day IX pt.II

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.

After my ‘motivational’ talk with Jenassa I headed back to the market with a
full stomach and stern resolve. Upon arrival I heard raised voices and saw,
to my great surprise, Ysolda and a rather scruffy looking fellow arguing in
the middle of the street.

“Now then, now then”

“Spare a coin for a fellow who’s down on his luck?” The beggar asked.
“So you can spend it on drinks at The Bannered Mare?!” Ysolda repled angrily.
“If it’s food you need, ask for that instead!” It really was quite a scene,
a few townsfolk had begun to congregate around the perimeter of the marketplace,
eager to witness the unpleasant drama unfold. “Never you mind then,” the beggar
shot back. “I’ll find a more charitable soul.”
“That’s what I thought,” Ysolda replied, moving on to the far side of the market.

I didn’t know what to think of the whole sorry incident, I generally sympathise
with beggars and folk of a similar ilk, as I know what it is like to have nothing
but the clothes on my back. I decided to speak to the beggar, to see if he was
deserving of sympathy, or indeed a no-good drunk as Ysolda had so vehemently
stated. He was a wretched creature, dressed (I use the term loosely) in pale
rags with a care-worn cowl of the same hue, he looked like he hadn’t shaved in
a long time and smelled like a flatulent horker, an alcoholic one at that. His
general stench was accompanied by that of cheap ale and his first words to me
were, “I ain’t done nothin’.”

I asked him if he was always drunk, to which he replied. “Only if I can help it,
but damn if I ain’t almost sober.” If this was almost sober then I shuddered to
think what he was like when drunk, he wobbled precariously on his feet and
slurred his words so that it was an effort to even interpret his intoxicated
ramblings. In short, he made Embry look like a Moth Priest. The miserable beggar
even entreated me to steal some Argonian ale from The Bannered Mare for him!
Conveniently forgetting about my previous misdemeanours, I sat firmly atop my
high horse and told him no, to which he replied very angrily and dismissed me
as of no further use to him. I still felt pity for him though, whose name I
eventually learned was Brenuin and so gave him a gold coin instead. It felt
good to be charitable, I could only hope that the gold I donated would
not be spent on anything mind-altering. I was not optimistic…

Ysolda was still in the marketplace and I strode over to her and tapped her on
the shoulder for the second time today. When she turned around she seemed in
a poor mood but, once she saw it was me, her face appeared to brighten considerably.
“It’s always a fine day when you’re around,” she said. This bolstered my
confidence immeasurably and, rather than beat around the bush, I came right out
with it. “I was just wondering, would you like to come for a drink tonight? Perhaps
at the Huntsman?” She paused for a second that seemed like a lifetime before
replying. “Of course, after all you’ve done for me I’d be glad to. Not at the
Huntsman though, that place is quieter than the hall of the dead! I’ll meet you
at The Bannered Mare tonight. Mikael is playing, the greatest bard in the whole
of Skyrim!” I was unsure about her choice of venue but obviously couldn’t tell
her why. “I shall see you tonight then.” I said, turning around to leave before
I lost what little composure I had managed to muster.

When I was safely out of sight I allowed myself a celebratory fist-pump. I had
a date with a woman for the first time in almost five years and, considering
how well the last one went I don’t even think that counted! (Let’s just say I
was glad she could swim).

It was mid-afternoon when I found myself once more at the city gates, I had
ample time before my date so decided to refine my bow at the forge. I met an
Imperial woman named Adrianne Avenicci working the forge, she must be the first
female blacksmith I have ever met. She seemed kind enough and offered me the use
of her grindstone. While we worked we talked about Cyrodil and all that we missed
and didn’t miss about the seat of the Imperial Empire. I’ve had a little practice
at Alvor’s but I am still a novice at crafting so Adrianne gave me tips on how
to hone my bow to produce the maximum power, she also lent me some coarse paper
to smooth it down with. I was fairly pleased with my efforts and Adrianne didn’t
look too disappointed with it either.

An Imperial woman working at the forge, only in Skyrim!

Her help didn’t come without a price however and I agreed, in exchange for her
expertise, to deliver a greatsword to the Jarl’s steward, her father Proventus
Avenicci. The trade was a fair one and it would give me an excuse to explore
Dragonsreach, the great citadel I spied on the way into the city. The sword
was huge, five feet long with a long black polished handle, the edge glittered
in the afternoon sun, sharp enough to shave with. Feeling a little conspicuous
walking through town with an extremely large sword in my hands, I bid Adrianne
farewell and set off through the Wind District.

I saw something curious in the Wind District, a boy being bullied by a
girl. The girl seemed to be a little older than him and was very aggressive,
demanding money from him that, according to the boy’s pleas, he just didn’t
have. I felt a strong mixture of anger, pity and disgust at the boy’s predicament.
It was all I could do to stop myself from intervening on the boy’s behalf, as
it was I decided not to get involved and only after the girl left I spoke to him.
“You musn’t let her push you around like that,” I said, doing my best to sound
sympathetic. “If you let her get away with it this time it will never end.”
“I know,” the boy replied. “But she’s big and scary.” The boy looked utterly
embarrassed and stared down at the ground hard, like he expected it to open up
and swallow him at any moment. “She’s not that much bigger than you and besides,
size doesn’t count for everything. I’d wager that you wouldn’t even have to
fight her, never mind win. Bullies are all the same, as soon as you stand up to
them, show them you’re not an easy target they leave you alone.” The boy’s
expression brightened slightly and he said. “Hey, maybe you could get Braith
to stop!” I don’t know what he had in mind but I was sure that I didn’t want
to get involved with a fight between two strange children.

If only grown men uppercutting little brats wasn’t frowned upon…

“What’s your name?” I asked him.
“Lars, Lars Battle-born,” he answered.
“I can’t help you Lars, the only one who can do that is yourself. Next time
she demands money from you just say no, it’s as simple as that. If she hits you
then hit her back, I guarantee she won’t stick around for long after.” I winked
in confirmation and Lars’ mood seemed to be lifted immediately. “I guess I
could try that, it’d be a lot easier if you could just beat her up for me though!”
“Ha! I’m not sure that would be a fair fight Lars,” I laughed, patting the boy
on the head and making to leave. “Good luck, don’t chicken out!”
“I won’t!” He cried, with apparent resolve. I sincerely hoped he wouldn’t.

A short time after I came to the Cloud District, the home of the legendary
Dragonsreach. The building itself was a magnificent sight, perched on top of
hill with stone steps leading up to its great doors. The keep was built in
typical Nord fashion, albeit sumptuously ornamental, dragons heads lined the
rooftops as they pierced the sky. I told the guards of my business and they
granted me passage inside. I had heard tell of Dragonsreach hall, how its
mighty beams stretched upwards into a ceiling barely visible, each of them
carved with ornate Nordic symbols and patterns. The reality, as I saw upon
entering, was all that I had heard and more. I walked down the hall slowly,
drinking in my immense surroundings, it had somehow managed to look bigger on
the inside. I could see what must be the Jarl and his steward on the far side
of the hall, at the top of the wide stone steps and approached them.

The heating bill for this place must be astronomical!

I had just opened my mouth to address them when a Dunmer woman cut right across
me, fully armoured and brandishing a longsword in my face. “What is the meaning
of this interruption? Jarl Balgruuf is not receiving visitors.” She had bent
her knees into a fighting stance and  her eyes shone dangerously. I moved my right
hand closer to my sword, not that it would do much good if it came to combat,
this one looked a veteran and was tenacious to boot. “It’s not the Jarl I came
to see,” I answered, trying my very best not to sound as frightened as I was.
“I’m here to deliver a package to Proventus Avenicci, from his daughter Adrianne.”
The Dunmer looked me over, I could almost see the thought processes ticking
away behind those suspicious eyes.

‘Jarl Balgruuf the Greater’ Modesty is a virtue you know, what was wrong with the other Balgruuf?

“Irileth, enough,” came a deep voice from the back of the room. “This man seems
harmless enough, let me see him.” It was the Jarl, seated lazily on his throne,
one arm propping up his chin. He looked bored to tell the truth, perhaps this
has been the most excitement he’s had all day, but with the war on, perhaps not.
“You are not from Skyrim are you, stranger?” He asked, a slight smile on his face.
“No I’m not, I’m from Cyrodil originally.”
“I thought so, even the Imperials that fare from Skyrim bow to me, show me reverence
but you…not so.” His smile grew a little, obviously in anticipation for my
reply. “My apologies Jarl Balgruuf, but these knees bend only for the Emperor.”
My reply was bold, a little too bold maybe, but it was the truth. “Your apologies
are unnecessary,” his face finally broke into a genuine grin and he chuckled.
“I admire your loyalty, particularly when the subject of it would stand by and
let you be persecuted.” At this I stopped, wondering momentarily what he was
referring to, then I realised. “How did you know?”

“I was right then? I have eyes all over my city, your vigil at the feet of Talos
did not go unnoticed. What is your name Imperial?” The Jarl’s knowledge of me
took me aback but I managed to regain my composure enough to tell him. “Adrian.”
He chuckled heartily. “You couldn’t get more Imperial, I give you warning Adrian,
the people of Skyrim are not all as sympathetic to the empire as I, as you may
know already.”
“I had an idea,” I answered, my irritation shining through a little more than
I’d have liked. By this time the Jarl had sat up straight in his chair, obviously
pleased to have someone new to talk to other than his steward and a rather over
-zealous Housecarl, he slumped back into his seat. “Speak to Proventus if you
will and remember my words Imperial,” he waved idly towards Proventus. I inclined
my head, “I shall Jarl Balgruuf.”

Dealing with Proventus was much briefer and I had handed him the sword, collected
a small fee for services rendered and exited Dragonsreach within no time at all.
My first meeting with a Jarl of Skyrim, one that wasn’t tied up anyway, went as
well as could be expected I suppose Balgruuf seemed a large character, if a
little bored. Maybe the war would do him good, shake him out of his slump.
After meeting Ulfric Stormcloak however, I didn’t envy his position, Windhelm
is not too far from Whiterun I hear…

It was getting late by the time I left Dragonsreach, almost time to meet Ysolda.
I’d been through a lot since I arrived in Skyrim but at that moment I felt as
though the prospect of a few drinks with her would be the most frightening
ordeal yet. I decided to head to the Bannered Mare a bit early and have a drink
to calm my nerves. The Bannered Mare wasn’t too busy, I sat at the bar next to
a Nord clad in leather armour, drinking a stout tankard of ale. “Waiting for
Ysolda?” he asked, a smug grin suddenly emerging from his battle-worn features.
‘Does everyone know everything around here?!’ I wondered, ordering a Nord Ale
from Hulda. “Yes, yes I am,” I answered, not bothering to enquire as to how he
knew. “Jon Battle-Born, nice to meet ya'”, he held out his hand and I shook it
somewhat unenthusiastically. “Ah, a bit o’ Nord courage I see!” he gestured
at my tankard as I downed a good quarter of it. “You ought to slow down lad,”
he said. “Don’t want to be out of action later on!” Hulda admonished him playfully.
“Don’t listen to him, half of what comes out of Jon’s mouth is filth, the other
half’s not worth listening to.”

This went on for about another hour, me drinking Nord ale (that seemed to taste
better after every tankard) and Jon, Hulda and any other patron that happened
to join us at the bar giving me dating tips. Just as Jon had downed his fifth
pint and his suggestions were becoming lewder by the second, the door opened and
in walked Ysolda, she sat down at a table in the corner. I finished my drink
and took a deep breath, then got up and strode over, Jon and Hulda whispering
(Jon not so much) encouragement in my ear. “You look lovely,” I managed to
stammer, due probably to the numerous pints of Nord ale in my system. “Thank you,”
she replied, her warm smile made my stomach churn unpleasantly. “You’ll have
to excuse me,” she said. “I haven’t had a chance to eat since this morning and
I’m near starvation.” She gestured to Saadia to order some food.
“I’ll get that,” I said. “Put your money away.” She didn’t actually have her
money out but she thanked me and I bought her a round of bread and cheese and
bought a bottle of wine.

She looked even better by candlelight

“…and then he fell over the side!” I cried, amid gales of laughter. The date had
started off slowly but, helped along by the wine, me and Ysolda were soon chatting
away like old friends. She told me of her life in Whiterun, how she had grown
up with the expectations of her parents to become a strong, dutiful Nord mother
and wife but desperately wanted to go into business instead. How she had spent
most of her life prowling the market stalls, learning her trade and she told me
an amusing story about an infant Lars Battle-Born with a penchant for red apples
but no knowledge of ‘buying’ them. “Enough about me, what about you, what’s
you story?” she asked. I went quiet then, thinking of what to tell. “Why come to Skyrim
for example?”
“As I told you I’m a nomad, I have been for about fifteen years now.”
“But why? Why leave Cyrodil? I’ve heard it’s a lovely place to live, even if it
is full of Imperials.” She had a mischievous look about her and I couldn’t help
but laugh. “I feel as if I don’t know you at all Adrian,” she said. “Tell me why
you wander as you do.”
“Ok,” I sighed and began at the beginning.

“I was born and raised in Cheydinhal, a beautiful city, quite close to the border
between Morrowind and Cyrodil. My father was the captain of the city guard and
practically my idol, he was strong, not Nord-strong, but he was deadly with a
sword and his men adored him as did the townsfolk. Even the prominent Dunmer
population admired him, such was the influence he had over people. I had a
comfortable upbringing, I would go to school during the day and then practice
archery at night with my father, I had no more ambitions than to grow up to be
just like him. My family were stead-fast citizens of the Empire, my mother even
kept a portrait of the emperor on the living room wall. When I was still a child
however, the White Gold Concordat was signed and my parents became fearful as
they were, as am I even now, worshippers of Talos. The effects of the ban were
not felt in Cheydinhal for a few years thankfully and we carried on worshipping
Talos in peace, until one day the Thalmor arrived. I remember that day as though
it happened yesterday. I didn’t know who they were when they marched through the
city gates, I remember thinking how resplendent they looked in their gold and
black plate. It was agreed that any worshippers of Talos in the city would simply
conceal any evidence of it while the Thalmor were passing through, they did not
search the town very well and only managed to catch a couple of unfortunate souls
who were ill-prepared. I thought we were safe, that it was over, but it was not
so.” I took a long draught of wine from the bottle and carried on.

“Earlier that week my father had arrested a neighbour of ours, a Dunmer by the
name of Aren Vedaren,” my blood boiled just uttering the name and my grip on
the bottle grew tighter, when Ysolda put her hand on mine. “On the final day of
their inspection the Thalmor visited the jail, where they met Aren…” It was
increasingly difficult to speak, I wanted to stop here but the alcohol inside
me, combined with the sympathetic look of Ysolda, compelled me to carry on.
“That night they came, demanding that we come into their custody, that nothing
would happen to us if we did so without resistance. My mother did so, I remember
gazing at her walking into the arms of the Thalmor, her arms tied so tight that
she screamed from the pain. My father was a different story, he refused
and fought to the end, his most loyal guardsmen around him, as I hid and
watched nearby.”

By this time tears were streaming down my face and I had a stabbing pain in my
stomach from reliving that fatal night. “I’m so sorry,” she said, clutching my
hand tighter. “Please excuse me,” I said, struggling to wipe the tears from my
face, feeling slightly embarrassed. “I seem to have put a bit of a downer on
our night.” She assured me it was ok and, after a couple more drinks, the
conversation flowed back to somewhat happier subjects.

Hey, twins! …I’m not drunk

I was beginning to get awfully dizzy and even almost fell over on the way to
the bar for the fourth time. The bard was striking up a merry tune and the
tavern was loud and merry. Eventually Ysolda told me she had to leave and so
I offered to walk her home or at least, in my state, stagger her home. When the
cool night air hit me I was almost knocked out! I held Ysolda’s hand tightly
partially because I wanted to, mainly to keep me on my feet. I remember only
patches of the conversation on the way to her house but, before going inside,
I do remember vividly that she kissed me. As soon as the door closed my memory
went blank and I woke up feeling curiously wet…

I’ll just…rest here a little while

A Nomad in Skyrim – Day IX pt.I

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.

It took me a long time to drift off to sleep last night, I was exhausted after
what was an exceedingly long day but my mind was buzzing with activity. Thoughts
of Ysolda, of the war, even memories from the distant past, laid bare and still
raw. Eventually the degree of my exhaustion overcame my thoughts and I
collapsed into a fitful slumber. It was a frigid morning I awoke to, a low mist
straddled the plains, casting the towering mountains into dark silhouettes.
The morning breeze stung my now exposed face, waking me almost instantly and,
along with the comparative discomfort of my tent, causing me to rise a lot quicker
than usual. I reignited the fire and, after a short while, had a juicy venison
chop sizzling in a pan. I sated my appetite with meat and water while contemplating
my plans for the day.

I was running low on food supplies, with only a bit of venison left from my
first kill back in Riverwood along with a rabbit  and a few vegetables.
Faendal had highly recommended the plains to the west of Whiterun as
profitable, if not dangerous, hunting grounds and so I decided that the morning
would be best spent hunting. I finished my breakfast and made to pack up my
tent when I came across the mammoth tusk amongst the folds of my blankets. My
stomach churned unpleasantly, the image of Ysolda sprang to mind along with
umpteen scenarios on how she would react to my gift, ranging from extreme
gratitude to utter indifference. It has been a long time since I have attempted
to woo a lady, the life of a nomad such as myself is not really conducive to
such things, simply surviving in this harsh old world is enough to handle without
worrying about how I appear to the opposite sex. A sudden thought struck me.

Should I wash?!

After splashing some water on my face (the best I could manage under the circumstances)
I set off westward, past the outlying farms and down the road until I came to
what seemed to be a rather decrepit sentry tower in the middle of a field. It
looked like it hadn’t been manned for a long time but, peculiarly, there was
a guard patrolling on a broken down section of wall. I engaged him in conversation,
asking him about the lands around his post, but he replied in the usual fashion
of a bored guardsman, embittered about his former duties as a “real” soldier
and slightly racist. While I was having this rather one-sided conversation I
noticed something in corner of my eye that made me almost physically jump in
surprise.

“How are you not at least acknowledging this?!!”

A live version of the giant I found yesterday was wandering in the field behind
the guard. “Look, a giant!” I shouted, pointing to the lumbering creature, but
the guard did not seem interested in the slightest. I guess giants are part and
parcel of living in Skyrim, either that or this was the least caring guard in
the whole of Tamriel. Either way I had some hunting to do and so set off away
from the giant, scanning the plains for any sight of game.

Soon I had a healthy sized deer in my sights, I crouched down, pulled my new
Imperial bow from my back, nocked an arrow and took aim. My quarry was grazing
in a lush green field around sixty yards away, occasionally moving from side
to side to reach the tastiest vegetation. I aimed ever so slightly above the
creature and drew back my bowstring…then released. The animal went down almost
instantly. Elated by my success I quickly ran over and surveyed my prize, it was
a fine kill and would feed me for a few days at least. The fact that I had taken
it down with one arrow also meant that the archery lessons from Faendal were
paying off.

Dinner is served!

Buoyed by my early success I pushed on, exploring the plains more thoroughly,
taking care of course to avoid the giant. Faendal was right, the land here is
indeed bountiful, not long after my original success I came across two more
deer of modest sizes, both of which sadly got away. I decided that a stealthier
approach would be sensible and took to crouching down constantly, it killed my
calves but I soon reaped the rewards. Sneaking over a rise I came across the
finest buck I have seen in a long time, it’s antlers were enormous and would
doubtless fetch a good price at market. Due to my sneaking I had managed to
come within a short distance from the buck without it noticing me so, holding
my breath in a desperate attempt to not spook the animal, I slowly nocked an
arrow and took aim.

Oh what big antlers you have.

The arrow found its target and sank into the buck’s side, but the animal did not
drop, only moaned loudly and turned to flee. I knew I had but a second to act
before my prey would escape and, in a flash, grabbed another arrow from my quiver,
slammed it onto the bowstring, hastily took aim and released. The second arrow
proved to be fatal and I would eat for a little while longer. The magnificent
pair of antlers took me a while to prise from the animal’s head, but once I did
I could not stop staring at them. It’s safe to say that, if I was a Nord with
a house to call home, these would go straight on my living room wall.

It was approaching midday when I had skinned my prize and my stomach was
beginning to rumble so I decided to head into Whiterun for a spot of lunch and,
hopefully, to see Ysolda. The city was bustling as usual, the sun had come out
and the morning mist cleared by the time I arrived at the marketplace and the
people of Whiterun were out to greet it. As I entered the marketplace I spotted
Ysolda at a stall across from me, taking a deep breath I went to speak to her.

Here goes….

“Hello there, remember me?” I said, tapping her on the shoulder and trying my
best to smile. Once she cast eyes on me she smiled and greeted me warmly, this
encouraged me and I pulled the tusk out of my pack. “I have something I think
you’ll appreciate,” I said, handing her the stolen tusk, her eyes widened at the
sight of it and her face lit up when she grasped it. “Oh my…I don’t know what
to say!” she gasped. “Why? How?” She was truly taken aback and I couldn’t help
but chuckle at her surprise. “Nevermind how,” I said. “Just use it well, get
yourself the start you’ve been looking for.” Thankfully she didn’t press the
subject of how I got the tusk, she was altogether too delighted to care.

After Ysolda had thanked me a few times the conversation began to wear a little
thin, I had given her the tusk, now what? After the excellent start my rusty
skills with women were beginning to let me down and, after desperately holding
a wafer-thin conversation for a few minutes, we said farewell and I turned to
leave, feeling deflated.

I was hungry, very much so, but I didn’t fancy a trip to the Bannered Mare
anytime soon so decided to go to the Drunken Huntsman. The usual clientele were
in the Huntsman, that is, no-one. I thought about buying something just to cheer
the poor guy behind the bar up but, after my little spending spree on hunting
supplies yesterday, thought against it. Instead I cooked up a rabbit haunch using
the communal cooking pot in the centre of the room, I wasn’t sure whether you
had to pay to use it so I decided to just sit down and see what happens. Upon
turning around to choose a seat I spied the mercenary I met yesterday, Jenassa,
sat in the corner of the room. She made for an intimidating sight in her battle-
worn leather armour and war paint but she certainly is an intriguing character
so, on a bit of a whim, I sat next to her (after receiving a curt nod of approval
of course).

One of the more…interesting lunches I’ve sat down to in Skyrim.

We sat in silence for a while, me eating my lunch and Jenassa sitting there
with a curiously large vegetable…thing in a bowl next to her. She must have
noticed my despondence for as I was finishing my rabbit she asked me what was
the matter. I confess I was surprised by her concern, if concern it was and not
simply idle curiosity. I stopped for a moment, hesitating to tell her the source
of my poor mood, I even thought about making something suitably violent up for
a second before dismissing the thought, doubtless it wouldn’t be nearly violent
enough for Jenassa.

“It’s a woman, isn’t it?” I was stunned.
“How on Nirn did you know that?!” I asked, she chuckled, shaking her head wryly.
“You are decidedly poor at disguising your emotions, it is painfully obvious
from the way you hang your head like a lovesick teenager.” I thought I had done
a decent job of looking perky, apparently not. “My philosophy on relationships
is simple, get what you want and then get out, leaving as little evidence as
possible,” she looked contemplative. “My last lover was a Bosmer, he was slight
but very agile and he had the finest head of blonde hair I have seen to this
day. We met in Riften in The Bee and Barb, he came in with three hundred septims,
looking for a hired knife, I would have laughed in his face had it not been so
fair and that hair…” She stopped for a moment to take a draught of mead, I
didn’t dare interrupt her tale lest she stop telling it, I was enthralled.

“It was a moment of weakness on my part but I agreed to work for a discounted
rate,” she looked quite visibly disgusted at this point but carried on. “The
job was relatively simple, he had recently stolen a valuable amulet from its
wealthy previous owner, only to have it stolen from him by a small group of
local bandits. He claimed that they got him drunk and then mugged him but I
reckoned he just got complacent, either way we were to go to their hideout and
steal it yet again, with me killing anyone that should get in the way. We agreed
to go the next day and that night I had him, he was a little tentative at first
but I have my ways…” I didn’t even want think about what that entailed but I
knew that I didn’t envy this Bosmer thief.

“All night we fucked, he was the finest I had had in a long while, his lithe
Wood Elf physique was a sight to behold. Clearing the bandit hideout proved to
be straight forward and we retrieved the amulet after cutting through a few of
them, in fact we made a good team. Things went south from there however, the
bandits anticipated our little burglary and set a trap. A small army of them
lay in wait for us, too many for us to handle. I grabbed the Bosmer at knifepoint
pushing him into the waiting hands of the gang, giving me time to make my escape.”
Jenassa’s expression was stony, if she felt any remorse about sacrificing her
lover so she would live, she didn’t show it. I knew from the tone of her voice
throughout her story that she did feel something beyond a base physical attraction
for the unnamed Bosmer, even her emotional armour seemed to have the occasional
chink.

“It’s Ysolda,” I admitted.
“A fine looking woman,” Jenassa conceded. “If a little…artificial”
“What do you mean?” I asked, Ysolda had only ever seemed kind to me, then again
I had only known her a day. “You’ve seen one side of her, I have seen another.
Not necessarily a bad one, but different nonetheless.” I didn’t know what to
think of this, it did make me realise just how little I knew the object of my
infatuation however, Jenassa carried on. “Does she attract you?”
“Yes,” I replied, without hesitation.
“Then pursue her,” she didn’t smile as though it were encouragement, she spoke
it like it was a simple, logical fact and for all her coldness she was right.

“Thank you,” I said, downing the contents of a water bottle and getting up to
leave. It was getting on and I had business to attend to.

I’ve Never Completed Skyrim

I’ve had Skyrim for about a year now and I still haven’t completed a single questline. I’m currently struggling through the main quest, fast travelling all the way but, to be honest I’m a little bored. I managed to get through Oblivion’s main quest even though that bored me to tears but, now that I’m not a teenager with nothing better to do, I’m finding it hard to get through it. I’m having loads more fun simply exploring the world and making my own story through Adrian. I may just forgo the main quest entirely and try the Dark Brotherhood (a questline I loved in Oblivion) but yeah…

Is it weird to love a game you’ve never even completed?

A Nomad in Skyrim – Day VIII

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 awoke this morning with the most sublime feeling of contentment after the
most comfortable nights sleep since I arrived in Skyrim. Faendal had insisted
I sleep in his bed and, after I initially politely declined, I was very glad he
did. It was so comfortable in fact that, for the first time in a long while, I
slept without my clothes. When I somewhat reluctantly rose for the day Faendal
was nowhere to be seen, doubtless he had already gone to the mill, such is his
propensity for hard work. I stretched in the most satisfying manner, the house
was warm because of the crackling fire and Faendal had left me some cabbage
stew in the pot. I sat down to eat my stew, it was tasty and wholesome, sating
my appetite along with a carrot I had in my pack. I washed my breakfast down with
a bottle of water and decided to get dressed and see what the day had to offer.

All that wood-chopping seems to have given me a Hod-like physique (only a little leaner)

It was a fine day, brilliant rays shone down over the village as a cool morning
breeze played across my face. Riverwood always rose early, even the town drunk
Embry was at his usual station outside the Sleeping Giant. The children played
with a scruffy mutt and I was greeted kindly by a toiling Alvor as I walked by
on my way to the mill. As expected Faendal was chopping away at his customary
station. I told him of my restlessness and of my plans to soon leave Riverwood
behind. The news seemed momentarily to pique his curiosity but he frowned and
issued me a warning. “I understand, Riverwood may be a little sleepy but be
warned, you have seen the dangers that this land holds and bandits are the
least of them. This is not Cyrodil, all manner of beasts and men roam here,
not to mention the war you found yourself embroiled in.”

His words tempered my enthusiasm, he was right. I have been through a lot since
I arrived in Skyrim and I’ve hardly moved from this tiny village, I struggle to
imagine what hazards the wider country might present to me, he carried on.
“If a change of scenery is what you fancy then the city of Whiterun is half a
mornings walk from here, the road is not nearly as dangerous as most and there’s
always a lot going on there.” I had been planning to go to Whiterun next anyway
so this sounded like a great idea. I bid farewell to Faendal, telling him that
I’ll be back later on tonight and headed past the Sleeping Giant and out of
Riverwood. I had been in Skyrim for a week now, it was high time I visited one
of its major cities. I had carried out very little research before deciding to
come to Skyrim so I knew very little about the city, I do know that it favours
the empire over the rebellion however so I should be safe within its walls.

Such a lovely village, it is a shame I shall soon have to leave it

I crossed a small stone bridge out of the village, looking back on its pastoral
splendour before following the river north. After an hour or so of uneventful
walking I heard shouting, not angry shouting but what seemed to be cries of
revelry from around the bend. Rounding the corner I came across three men, each
holding tankards and looking very drunk indeed. I thought it rather peculiar
that three men were drinking by the roadside at eight o clock in the morning,
but it was hard not to be buoyed by their merriment. One of the revelers who,
judging by his attire, was a Nord farmer, approached me and said. “Hail, friend!
It’s good to see another merry soul enjoying this fine day. Ah, but you look
tired. Come, share a bottle of Honningbrew Mead with me!”

I’ve been to known to like my ale but drinking on the side of the road in only your underwear?! These Nords party too hearty for me!

Not wanting to dampen their mood and being rather thirsty, I accepted the mead.
I’ve been in Skyrim for a week now and drank ale or mead in the morning twice and I’m
beginning to think the Nord stereotypes about their drinking culture could
have a semblance of truth to them. Where else in Tamriel do the farmers party
by the roadside at all hours of the day? After downing their drinks the revelers
simply walked off down the road without another word, hopefully to do some
actual work, probably to get more mead. Shortly after I caught my first glimpse
of Whiterun though the trees and it was more magnificent than I had previously
imagined. In the midst of a wide open valley sat a sheer citadel, perched on
a rocky hillside. It’s uppermost roof reached into the heavens, topped with
carved wooden dragon’s heads. The rest of the city was arrayed beneath what
I knew to be Dragonsreach, the seat of Jarl Balgruuf, with small farms and lush
green fields outlying. It was certainly a far cry from Riverwood and I could
hardly wait to give it a closer inspection.

It becomes more magnificent each time I see it

I headed down to the valley floor, across a small stone bridge and past a rather
large building that according to the sign was the Honningbrew Meadery (and thus
solved the mystery of where the farmers went). Walking through a neighbouring
leek farm I recieved perhaps the biggest shock of my life. Sprawled across the
floor was the body of a giant! Weathered grey skin, colossal hands and feet and
carrying a bone that must have been four feet long. Whoever slayed this
monumental creature must have been a fearsome warrior or warriors indeed. I admit
to knowing little about giants, I heard rumours of their existence before coming
to Skyrim, but seeing one up close is truly breathtaking.

I can’t imagine picking a fight with a creature that has toenails the size of shovel heads

Deciding to leave my find before its bane returned I continued on my circuit
of Whiterun which, for reasons unbeknownst to me, has only one entrance. The
outer walls of the city were crumbling in places but still looked fairly
imposing and as I approached the entrance to the city numerous sentry towers began
to spring up all around, each with a guard in residence. After telling the guard
on the gate my business in Whiterun I was admitted to the city, after the sleepy
streets of Riverwood Whiterun was a revelation. Well-crafted buildings lined
the streets, outside the nearest of which was a female blacksmith hammering
away. All manner of people bustled about the streets, a lumberjack carrying
a pile of logs, children at play, guards in mail and with concealing steel helms.
I decided to set off exploring straight ahead and soon came to a marketplace
surrounded by shops and other establishments. While I was inspecting one of
the stalls something happened me that has not happened in a long, long time. I
became infatuated with a beautiful woman.

Her name was Ysolda, she was poorly dressed in a rather distressed looking dress
but her face and manner was kind and she possessed an elegance beyond her care-worn
appearance. As soon as I saw her my stomach began to churn unpleasantly and I
simply had to engage her in conversation. She was a friendly girl and talked to
me gladly, she confessed immediately that once she has made enough money trading
with the Khajiit caravans she is going to buy The Bannered Mare from a woman
named Hulda. We talked for a while about the Khajiit, Ysolda complaining at
length about how they are mistrusted in Skyrim, I agreed perhaps a little more
wholeheartedly than I would normally have. “Before my Ma and Da passed,” she
said. “I told them that one day, I would become the greatest trader in Skyrim.
I met one of the caravan leaders Ma’dran, he said he’d help me get started if
I could bring him a mammoth’s tusk.” I fought back a chuckle, how in Talos’
name was she planning on getting hold of a mammoth tusk, I’ve seen what herds
them and I certainly wouldn’t want to try and steal livestock from something
that wields a four foot club! I desperately wished I could help her but I just
could not see how I could and wished her luck then parted ways.

He’s really taken with this one it seems….

I decided to head to The Bannered Mare for a spot of lunch and spent the next
hour or so sat at the bar thinking of Ysolda. I felt like a teenager again,
obsessing over a girl, but I could not help it. I talked to Hulda the landlady
who confirmed that Ysolda was looking to buy her out and was served by a rather
attractive Redguard by the name of Saadia. After hearing some idle gossip from
Hulda and listening to the bard sing surprisingly similar songs to Sven back in
Riverwood I asked Saadia to fill up my water bottles and left to explore the city
some more.

The weather had changed little since I left Riverwood, the sun was still shining
and everyone in Whiterun seemed to be out to enjoy it. I climbed the steps into
the next district, passing a gang of children on the way and a man and woman in
the midst of a heated exchange. I subtly listened in for a few moments but it
soon began to sound dangerously like an opportunity for danger to strike, keeping
in mind all that had happened thus far I got out of there as fast as I could!
In a town square of sorts I came across a hooded preacher, stood under a large
stone statue that seemed to be the likeness of Talos.

How could anyone frown upon the worship of such a figure as Tiber Septim?

The preacher was a shady looking fellow and ranted passionately, if a little
distastefully. “Talos the Mighty! Talos the unerring! Talos the unassailable!
To you we give Praise! We are but maggots writhing in the filth of our own
corruption! While you have ascended from the dung of mortality, and now walk
among the stars!” Was his opening gambit, enough to catch anyone’s attention,
perhaps for all the wrong reasons. I am a firm believer in Talos though and
agreed with the priest, who I found to be named Heimskr, that the White Gold
Concordat was a disgrace on the part of the empire. Looking up at the statue of
Tiber Septim, lord of the gods, both in equal parts disturbed and inspired me.
The Thalmor must be a powerful force indeed to dissuade the empire from promoting
worship in such a glorious deity.

You might want to look a little less like you’re going to kill me and sacrifice me to your god…just saying.

Heimskr’s words and the statue made me question once again my beloved empire
and my beliefs. When I was a child the Concordat was only a few years old and
few people I knew took the ban seriously, that was until the Thalmor arrived.
I’ve never told a living soul of the events that caused me to wander as I do
now, I don’t think I’m quite ready to face them, not yet.

I spent the next hour or two simply wandering about the town, observing the
townsfolk and taking in the views of Dragonsreach and the magnificent mountain
ranges that surround the city. After speaking to a game trader named Onoriath
I decided to visit his and his brother’s shop, The Drunken Huntsman, for some
hunting supplies. Upon entering the shop I noticed a rather enigmatic looking
Dunmer ranger sat in the corner, she eyed me suspiciously and I could tell she
was not to be trifled with. Curiosity overtook me however and I cautiously
edged over to her table and enquired about her line of work. “I am an artisan,
painting in strokes of blood red upon the canvas of life.” She replied, for a
moment I didn’t know what to say, I had never knowingly met a mercenary before.
This woman was a cold-blooded killer and, judging from her eloquence on the
subject, seemed to enjoy her “art” as well! I told her perhaps another time
and made my way hastily to the shopkeeper to pick up some more hunting gear.
His wares were expensive but I had made enough money from wood-chopping to
buy me some arrows, both iron and steel and even a better bow. I sold my old
hunting bow that I had improved on the grindstone and came out of the shop
with a considerably light coinpurse, a finer bow and the slightly chilling
experience of meeting a cold-blooded killer for hire.

“Oh you’re a mercenary are you?” Backs away slowly…

By the time my business was concluded at the Drunken Huntsman it was nearing
evening and I was becoming rather peckish so I decided to head back to The
Bannered Mare for dinner and then, after a few ales, back to Riverwood before
it became too dark. The inn was still quiet when I arrived, I took my previous
seat at the bar and ordered an ale, drinking it with a bit of fresh bread to
appease my appetite. Halfway through eating I looked up and saw something
rather extraordinary.

No way!

Behind the bar, on a shelf, sat the very object Ysolda sought. A mammoth’s tusk!
I could hardly believe it and immediately tried to get Hulda’s attention, I
simply had to have that tusk. No matter how hard I tried however, Hulda was
having none of it, she just would not even acknowledge the tusks existence.
Frustrated, I sat at the bar pondering how I can get it, the image of Ysolda
walking away in the marketplace constantly popping up in my mind. While I was
agonising over it the inn became flooded with patrons, all recently finishing
work no doubt. I downed the rest of my ale and order another, downing that one
almost in one too. Frustration at my prize being so close but yet out of reach
caused my blood to boil and I needed something to try and take my mind off it.

Suddenly and without thought, I slipped into the crowd behind me and around
the bar, using the noise of the patrons to slip the tusk into my pack undetected.
I then downed my drink and left as quickly as I could manage. When I got outside
and the cool night air hit me I began to dizzy, I was drunk and shaking almost
uncontrollably. I could not believe what I had just done, I’m no angel and have
had my fair few scrapes with the law in the past but never outright theft!
My reasons for the crime baffled me more than the act itself, why would I break
the law for a woman I had just met? My actions had no logic, no sense of
reason but I had carried them out all the same. I tried to tell myself it was
the ale but I was not drunk enough to be altogether insensible. I began the
walk home in a daze, not knowing quite what to make of the situation. Have I
ever acted in this manner because of a girl before? By the time I got out of the
city it was full dark and much too late to travel back to Riverwood so I decided
to set up camp.

It’s been an eventful day, perhaps too eventful

As I sat, warming my hands against the fire, my mind was blank. I could hear
the insects in the grass and feel the cool night breeze against my face, the
only thing that mattered was the stillness of the night. I go to sleep now with
a heavy heart and a seriously mixed up head.

A Nomad in Skyrim – Day VII

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.

After the most uncomfortable nights sleep since napping on the carriage into
Skyrim I arose early in the morning. My back was sore from the hard, largely
unconcealed wooden frame of the bed. At these prices I would have thought Delphine
might have made the beds a deal more comfortable, as the pitiful animal skin
and scant straw mattress displayed, I thought wrong. It was certainly not Alvor’s
but for now at least it must do and considering I was seconds from going without
a head a week or so ago, I can’t complain. I sat down to break my fast with
just Orgnar and Delphine for company, Orgnar being his usual grumpy self and
Delphine standing around sweeping her favourite spot on the floor. Breakfast
was a short affair, bread and carrots, the banter wasn’t exactly great either
but then Orgnar doesn’t seem like the morning type…or afternoon, or evening
for that matter.

This is what living with Delphine and listening to Sven on repeat for 12 hours a day does to you.

After getting my water bottles filled and parting with five septims I was ready
to go. I decided that morning to first go hunting and then speak to Faendal,
perhaps I could even fit in a short shift of wood chopping after that. It was
a crisp morning, it had been raining for a large portion of the night so I
could almost taste the moisture in the air. Embry, the town drunk/general oddball,
was already strolling up to the inn for his daily ale or ten. He greeted me
with the rather inaccurate. “My favourite drinking buddy, let’s get some mead!”
I declined his offer as it was a tad early for mead, I suppose all the time is
a good time for mead when you’re Embry however. The drunkard didn’t seem fazed
by my refusal and staggered into the pub anyway, he seems to be in a constant
state of intoxication and, despite his often loud and brash demeanour, appears
to be a sad man indeed. I wonder just what can drive a man to drink away every
hour of every day and practically live in his local inn, it truly is a tragic
waste.

I passed through the entrance to the village and out onto the road around mid-morning.
All seemed very still, even the river flowed more gently than usual. A low mist
hung around the river bank, shrouding the mountain, giving it a most mysterious
visage. The haunting image of Bleak Falls Barrow appeared as I rounded the bend
in the road, half shrouded in mist it was even eerier, I shivered slightly just
imagining ever having to set foot in that place. I was nearing the crossroads
when I decided to cross the river and head further down it on the opposite side,
obviously steering well clear of the bandit’s nest I previously stumbled upon.
I plunged into the cold water and out the other side as quickly as I could
manage.

What unimaginable horrors lie in wait behind those walls of mist and stone?

Thus far on my hunting trip I had yet to see hide or hair of any game whatsoever.
I decided that I might be scaring them away and so bent my knees into a sneaking
position. Sure enough, as I rounded the bend of the river slowly but silently,
a rustling noise sounded to the right. I stopped dead in my tracks, focusing my
vision on the source if the sound, a patch of long grass halfway up the slope.
I drew an arrow carefully from my quiver, placing my bow string between the
grooves in the nock. I took deep breaths as the movement in the grass subsided
momentarily, I took aim just above the suspect patch and waited.

As quick as lightning a blur shot out of the grass and up the hill, I loosed my
arrow a second too late and it thudded into the soil just above the rabbit’s
hiding place. My reactions did not let me down again and I sprang off on my toes
and gave chase to the animal, drawing the arrow that would bring home my supper.
It was a quick creature and agile too, strafing here and there up the hillside,
not allowing me to get a decent shot at it. The pursuit was long and after a while
I was short of breath and my legs began to ache, but I would not give in! As luck
would have it I fell back far enough so that my prey was confused and stopped
for a second, doubtless believing I had indeed given up on my quarry. I needed
no second invitation and in one fluid motion drew back the string and released,
watching my arrow sail truly to its target.

A slight come-down after my debut kill in Skyrim but food is food!

It was hardly a prize kill, but I do like a good rabbit leg and it would serve
as supper tonight. It seems like a long time since I had a workout quite as
intense as that chase, when in reality it really has only been a matter of weeks.
Somewhat satisfied with my kill I proceeded to skin the animal and pack away
the meat, looking around I saw that I was much farther up the river than I had
gone previously. I was stood on the bank of a large lake into which the river
flowed. It was a mystical sight in the afternoon fog, the imposing forestry on
either side bookended the dark misty mountains in the distance. I could not see
the other end of the lake so could not judge its size, but it was getting late and
I did not wish to get lost in a strange country after what happened previously
so I turned back the way I came.

One of the most hauntingly beautiful pictures I’ve took in Skyrim, it’s such a splendid landscape

Not long after I saw smoke rising from across a narrow stretch of the river,
after moving closer I perceived that it was in fact a hunter’s camp, judging
from the bow on the camper’s back and the animal skins hanging on racks.
I was tired from my own hunting and would have welcomed company so I approached
the camp. The hunter did not seem hostile, she invited me to sit down and I
accepted gladly. She was a fearsome looking woman, a Dunmer with a stern
countenance and a lean but strong looking physique. She did not tell me her
name and was largely guarded in manner, the dagger at her waist spoke volumes
even if she did not. It was a relief simply to sit and have a drink in company
though and we talked a little of the hunting around Riverwood. I told her of
the bandits abroad and she replied with a heavy sigh and a knowing shake of
the head. “There are many and more where they came from, two bandit camps about
the crossroads near Helgen alone last I counted.” She said, she drew her dagger
and set to honing her bow. “The Jarl will do nothing while there’s war brewing
and I can’t exactly beseech him to help considering my position, but they’re
a nuisance alright, that’s for certain.” Sat honing her weapon, clad in well
worn leather armour, she looked like she could certainly handle herself.

I feel for the man who tries to tame this one!

After an hour or so of rest I took my leave of both the hunter and the majestic
view of the lake. I could have sat there all day and still not have tired of
it, such is the natural wonder that is Skyrim. I bade my unnamed acquaintance
farewell and headed back to town, hoping perhaps to bag another kill on my way.
Luck was not with me today however and, aside from glimpsing another rabbit in
the far-off undergrowth, I saw nothing. As I arrived back to town I happened,
by chance, upon Faendal. He appeared to be walking home after a days work at
the sawmill. I jogged to catch up with him, wanting to explain what had happened
yesterday with Camilla and Sven.

He seemed pleased to see me and told me he had already heard from Camilla herself
earlier today, I could not help but feel a little irked but was glad we were
still on good terms. We talked a little about the whole business, how ridiculous
it was, I asked him if he would make a move now Sven was seemingly out of the way
but he simply sighed and said he was better off out of it. The conversation
moved on to brighter subjects and, before I knew it, we had arrived at his front
door. “I truly am grateful for all you have done for me Adrian,” he said.
“I heard about your living arrangements and I insist you stay at my house for
a while.” I was a little taken aback by his offer, we got along rather finely
and I suppose I had done him a good service but I hardly knew him all the same.
As I stuttered on what to reply he broke in. “I won’t take no for an answer,
no one should have to endure Delphine’s excuse for a guest bed!”

I peeked into the house, it looked a lot more inviting than The Sleeping Giant’s
guest room certainly, I decided to accept his very generous invitation. Faendals
house is small but cosy, a large hearth in the middle of the room casts light
and warmth throughout. He has a small collection of books that I have his
permission to read, something I most certainly will do. That night we sat for a
dinner of rabbit and I told him everything that had happened to me since I set
foot in Skyrim. He was shocked initially but, given the current political climate
my story was probably not entirely unique.

For someone who rarely hunts these days Faendal sure has a lot of corpses lining his walls!

I feel incredibly fortunate to have found such a good fellow as Faendal, the people
of Riverwood in general thus far seem to be some of the kindest people I have yet
to meet. I can only hope that the rest of Skyrim is the same, I suppose I shall
soon see for myself first hand, Riverwood has been very hospitable but my itch
for travelling is beginning to bother me and it shall soon need scratching.

It’s not much but, for the time being, it’s home.