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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.