A Nomad in Skyrim – Day XII

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.

“We’ve ran out of salt!” I was up bright and early this morning to cook breakfast,
Faendal lay softly snoring in his bedroll as I searched my pack for food. “Hey,
wake up!” He rolled over and over for about five minutes, making all manner of
moans and groans before finally sitting up, bleary eyed. “There’s some in my…”
He stopped to let out a gaping yawn. “…bag.”
“Why are you so tired anyway? It’s not like you to still be abed at this hour.”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Yesterday was a long one, I suppose my fatigue
simply caught up with me.”

Faendal was correct of course, what with our confrontations with the Thalmor
and the bandits, not to mention all the walking we did besides, yesterday had
been very long indeed. I retrieved the salt pile from his bag. “This is the last
one.” I said, chucking it into the cooking pot with a venison chop.
“Oh no! I was sure I had packed more than that!”
“Not to worry,” I replied. “I bought some cooked food from the inn before we
set out, how does a honey nut treat sound for breakfast?”
“Spectacular,” he replied, rather dryly for my liking.
“Just get it ate,” I chuckled, dishing it out and taking a seat next to the
dying embers of the fire.

We broke our fast in silence but, as we were packing away the tent I asked.
“Faendal, why IS salt so scarce in Skyrim? Ever since I arrived here the traders
have never stocked more than a couple of piles.”
“It’s the war of course,” he replied. “Skyrim imports its salt from across the
Empire, through ports in Windhelm, Solitude and Dawnstar. Of course, when the
civil war broke out the rest of the Empire ceased all trade with those towns
under Stormcloak control, officially speaking anyway, leaving only Solitude.”
“Ah, the war, I thought as much. Well we’ll just have to hope we come across
someone who DOES have some, I have a leg of goat and a venison chop but apart
from that we’re down to eating leeks and raw potatos.” The tent all packed up,
we left the hot springs behind and headed east into the heart of Eastmarch, my
mind full of wonderment at all the salt just waiting to be found far to the
north in Solitude.

They have a guard chicken too! Must be a Nord thing.

They have a guard chicken too! Must be a Nord thing.

It was a gloomy, overcast morning. It had rained a little overnight, adding an
extra dampness to the marsh that it didn’t need. We kept our eyes open for game
but it as quiet as the grave, nought stirred but the wind in the reeds. “Over
there!” Faendal pointed, not at an animal, but at a house. A house of stone bricks
with a thatched roof in typical rustic Nord style. It wasn’t a de-tour from our
destination and we were in need of supplies so we headed over at once. A camp
site was adjacent to the house as well as the entrance to a mine, a handful of
people sat around the camp-fire, each with a pick-axe on their belt. “Hail!”
I cried, approaching. “Hail!” A Nord woman returned my greeting, a blonde with
a grimy face from the mine. “What brings you to Darkwater Crossing?”
“We were just passing on our way to Eastmarch,” I replied.
“Ah, hunters I take it?” She gestured at the bows on our backs.
“Aye, Adrian, pleased to meet you, this is Faendal.”

"I used to be an adventurer like you then I...got married."

“I used to be an adventurer like you then I…got married.”

We shook hands all three and the woman replied. “Anneke Crag-Jumper, former
adventurer, I own this mine along with my husband Verner.” She gestured towards
the other two around the fire, a little Nord girl and her mother. “Hrefna and
her mother Tormir live here too.” The girl greeted us enthusiastically, the
mother less so. “We are short on salt,” Faendal began. “Do you have any surplus
to sell to us, perchance?”
“I’m afraid not,” Anneke replied. “The war has affected us in more ways than one,
we have none to spare.” As she finished a pair of Stormcloak soldiers came into
view, eyeing us suspiciously. “Very well, we’ll be on our way.”

“Actually!” We had not gone five yards when Anneke called us back. “I have a
small issue that needs resolving, do so and I’m sure I can spare what few supplies
we have.” Me and Faendal gave each other a quick look. “Go on.”
“Well I’d do it myself but my husband won’t let me, says it’s too dangerous.
A gang of bandits has been causing trouble for us recently, stealing food and
weapons, they even managed to pluck up the courage to ambush a trade caravan
the other week. Luckily it was on its way TO and not FROM the mine, the pillocks
got nothing!” She laughed raucously at this and we joined in, before Faendal asked.
“Why haven’t those Stormcloaks dealt with it?”
“Them?!” Anneke cried. “Jarl Ulfric sent them to stop the bandits but they couldn’t
catch a cold!”

We conferred momentarily but we both knew the answer already. “I’m sorry Anneke
but the answer has to be no, we are no adventurers and we’ve already had our
share of bandit trouble on this trip.” She looked disappointed but waved us off
amiably nonetheless, the Stormcloak soldiers less so. When we were out of earshot
I said to Faendal. “Did you see the child?!”
“Yes, what about her?”
“The pickaxe at her belt, the soot about her person, she was working in that mine!”
“Ah,” Faendal sighed knowingly. “It is commonplace in the poorer parts of Skyrim
unfortunately, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.” His words offered scant
consolation, the image of the little girl toiling away in a dark mine would
not leave my mind.

And the award for most negligent mother goes to...

And the award for most negligent mother goes to…

An hour or so of walking later we finally spotted an animal, a goat was sat
still on a small rise about thirty yards away, I nocked an arrow and took aim.
“Wait!” Faendal put his hand on my bow.
“Faendal? What do your Elf eyes see?” He squinted at the animal.
“It’s a dog!” Surprised, we went to investigate, finding that it was indeed a
rather scruffy looking dog. It had long, grey fur and a rather sorrowful expression.
It did not spook at our arrival and flee, rather it sat in front of me and looked
up with big, mournful eyes. “It’s probably a stray, some bandit’s mutt,” Faendal
said. I reached a tentative hand out to stroke it. “Be careful,” he warned.

I'm surprised Anneke hasn't strapped a pickaxe to you and sent you down the mines!

I’m surprised Anneke hasn’t strapped a pickaxe to you and sent you down the mines!

There was no need for caution, in fact the dog was rather happy to be petted
and wagged its tail energetically. “Aww, can we keep it?!” It was a playful
dog, almost knocking me over when I knelt to take a closer look. Faendal chuckled.
“I suppose so, it’ll need a name to respond to though. We can’t have it spooking
game in the field.” I looked under it. “Well it’s a dog so…Timothy?”
“It’s as good a name as any, where did you pluck that from?” Faendal asked.
“It was the name of my father’s old horse, a big black stallion he was, as fearsome
as any I ever laid eyes on, but playful too. He was my father’s pride and joy,
he’s probably seating the bony arse of some Thalmor justiciar by now…”
A short silence followed, in which I petted a grateful Timothy, Faendal eventually
broke it. “Timothy it is!”

Timothy proved to be well trained, he bounced along at my side as we ventured
further north into the heart of Eastmarch, his tongue hanging out of his mouth
all the while. As we averted our course to avoid a rather large fort however,
he bolted, charging headlong up a nearby hill after seemingly picking up a scent.
I gave chase, Faendal not far behind, wondering what on Nirn he could be chasing.
I soon found out…

As we gained the top of the hill a colossal brown bear came into view. On it’s
hind legs it roared, resounding throughout the plains as Timothy dashed up the
hill towards it. At the feet of the bear was a deer, struggling to stagger away
from the beast, only to have its life dashed away with one fell swing. “Timothy!”
I cried, trying to distract the mutt before it was noticed, too late. Dog and
bear clashed in a flurry of teeth and claws. The considerably smaller form of
Timothy darting in to tear a chunk from the larger before darting out again to
avoid a lethal blow. I unbuckled my shield as I joined the fray, smashing it
into the the bear’s back. It may as well have been a brick wall for all
I moved it, such was its bulk. The bear shifted its attention to me, bringing
down a monumental paw on my shield, sending shockwaves down my arm. I hacked
at its side but, due to the ferocious rapidity of its blows, could not land one
of my own.

As my shield arm began to falter and my knees began to sag under the sheer weight
of the bears attacks, Faendal and Timothy joined the action. An arrow thudded
into the bears neck and teeth closed around its leg. Taking advantage of the
sudden respite I smashed its face with my shield and then sliced open its
throat with my steel, spilling its lifeblood on the ground. Exhausted, I surveyed
the evidence of the carnage. The bear and its victim lay dead on the ground,
Timothy stood over, still growling. Blood was everywhere, on my sword, in a
red pool about the dead, Timothy was covered in it. My first thought was to
scold him for running off, for bringing danger down on all of us, but I had
not the energy to do so. Faendal was already busy skinning the animals, “Waste not, want not“.

Dead bear, angry dog

Dead bear, angry dog

The rest of our trip was less eventful but no less fruitful, the sodden plains
of Eastmarch proved to be amongst the most bountiful lands I have ever hunted.
Timothy proved to be a capable hunting dog too, managing to rein in his aggression
and only lunging in for the kill when our prey was weakened and in close
proximity. He stayed when I told him to stay, likewise when told to follow, such
was his training that me and Faendal decided he must have been the companion
of some fallen hunter or adventurer.

Good night, deer friends. (My apologies)

Good night, deer friends. (My apologies)

“Shh! Look, over there!” Belly down in the mud, we had just sighted a pair of
deer drinking from a watering hole. They were completely oblivious to the world
and therefore completely vulnerable to attack. We both drew back an arrow and
I waited for Faendal’s signal to release, having picked the deer on the left
as my target. “Release!” Our arrows flew, mine flying low and piercing the deer’s
leg and Faendal’s soaring true and thudding into his deer’s neck. “Damn it!”
I said. “Timothy nudged me!”

“Yeah, yeah. Just help me get mine skinned and bagged.” Faendal replied, the
most smug expression on his face. His prize taken care of, we were now up to
three deer and a goat in a single afternoon. Faendal had taken all but one of
them down, a bear had done for the other and he would not let me forget it…
An opportunity for redemption came swiftly however, as I soon spied a solitary
deer, grazing on a patch of moss. “This one is mine.” I said, just as Faendal
raised his bow. “It’s all yours.” I flexed my wrists and neck, preparing myself
for what must surely be my first kill of the day. I stuck a few arrows in the
ground before me, carefully selecting one based on the quality of its feathers
and sharpness of point. Satisfied with my missile, I nocked it on the string and
pulled back, staring down its length at my prey.

The deer was defenceless enough, blissfully unaware of our existence as it grazed
happily, but it was a fair distance away. In fact, I could barely see it, only
when I squinted could I get a half-decent look at my prey. With Faendal and Timothy
looking on with bated breath I sucked in a breath and released, watching my
arrow soar over the plain towards its target.

Yeah....

Yeah….

It struck the deer in the hind-quarters and rendered the animal completely disabled,
Timothy dashed across and finished it off by tearing out its throat. “Not bad,”
said Faendal. “Although you took your sweet time. You should not think so much,
the thinking comes in tracking the animal, it has no place in the kill. You must
trust your instinct Adrian, as you did with the fox on the road yesterday.”
His words of advice taken on board, we skinned our latest quarry and sat for a
rest, the days hunting had been long and wearisome. When I went into my pack
for something to eat I remembered our salt shortage. “We’re going to have to
find a merchant of some sort,” I said. A sudden downpour accompanied my words,
turning to a steady stream. Faendal sighed heavily. “We’ll have to go to Windhelm,
it’s the closest city.” Soaked with rain and staring at all our raw meat hungrily,
I could not but agree.

The pouring rain of Eastmarch was replaced with falling snow as we ventured
north to Windhelm, our sodden furs may as well have been of paper for all the
insulation they provided. The land was a expansive white canvas, pristine and
perfect. The city itself looked eerily magnificent in the blizzard, black stone
towers loomed over all in the night. Its guards nodded us through the gates,
huddled over against the biting wind they seemed not to care about our business.
As we entered the city and escaped from the bitter wind outside, we encountered
something that made us want to turn round and head straight back.

Not the most welcoming of gates, darkly beautiful nonetheless.

Not the most welcoming of gates, darkly beautiful nonetheless.

“You come here where you’re not wanted, you eat our food, you pollute our city
with your stink and you refuse to help the Stormcloaks!” A beggar and a warrior,
both of them Nords, were shouting at a Dunmer woman in the street. “But we haven’t
taken a side because it’s not our fight!” The Dunmer replied, clearly distressed
by the confrontation. “Hey, maybe the reasons these grey-skins don’t help in
the war is because they’re Imperial spies!” The beggar added viciously, pointing
at the woman. “Imperial spies? You can not be serious!” She was practically
screaming at this point, incredulous in the face of the Nord’s blind hate. The
warrior gripped his mace menacingly. “Maybe, we’ll pay you a visit tonight, little
spy. We got ways of finding out what you really are…”

“ENOUGH!” Faendal had drawn his dagger and stepped in front of the Dunmer, his
eyes blazed and his hands shook with anger. The beggar bolted at the sight of
steel, the warrior drew his mace. “Piss off Bosmer, this isn’t none of your
business!”
“When an innocent is harassed and threated with death in the streets before me,
it bloody well IS my business!” It was a standoff, the two of them faced each
other in the light of the evening moon, clutching their weapons and with emnity
etched upon every facet of their appearance.

“Rolff! That’s enough, put down your mace and move along.” The two guardsmen on
the gate stepped in to put an end to the ugly scene. “And you Suvaris, move
along now.” Rolff put away his mace and backed away, shouting insults and obscenities
all the while. Suvaris left quietly but not before addressing us. “You’ve come
to the wrong place, Windhelm is no place for people like yourselves, only
bastards like Rolff.” For a few moments after the confrontation nobody moved,
Faendal stood motionless with his dagger still drawn, I stood speechless with
Timothy at my side. Eventually the guard who had dismissed Rolff said.
“You’ll have to excuse Rolff, he get’s a little…over-exuberant sometimes.
Put your dagger away traveller, we want no more trouble on our streets.”

I would have protested most vehemently had my tongue not been disabled from
witnessing the previous scene. Over-exuberant?! If that was over-exuberant I
would love to see what passes for an actual crime here in Windhelm! With that
the guards left us alone in the street. “Come on,” I said, clutching Faendal’s
arm. “Candlehearth Hall is just ahead, let’s get a pint.” The toasty warmth
of the inn was not lost on me, even after the night’s events, stepping into
it felt simply heavenly. I ushered Faendal upstairs into what seemed to be
the main seating area and ordered a couple of meads and a room for the night.
Faendal looked lost in thought when I set down his mead before him, he gazed
deep into the fire. I did not wish to disturb him so we sat before the fire
for an hour or so, drinking mead in silence. After a while I began to yawn and
decided to leave him to his ponderance, as I began to leave he spoke quietly.

“I’m staying here Adrian, for a few days at least, possibly more. There is work
to be done in Windhelm. I’ll understand if you wish to leave.” I must admit he
took me aback slightly, having not spoken for hours before then but, just as
his mind was made up, so was mine. “You do whatever you have to,” I told him.
“I’ll wait for you.” He relinquished his gaze from the flames for the first time
in what seemed an age, turning to look at me he said. “Thank you.”

My First Fan Art

Warning: May not be suitable for the less mature reader.

Today is a great one for me and not because it’s Christmas, although that’s not bad too. No today was the day (well last night to be precise) I received my first little piece of fan art. Words simply can not express how chuffed I was when I first read this, it hits the nail on the head in so many ways. It’s a wee spin-off written by a dear fan of Adrian’s, by the name of Karla C. Agate. I think it shows a both a great understanding of the characters and great writing talent and I simply can not stop reading it! Anyway enough prattling from me, here it is, enjoy!

P.S. Merry Christmas, I hope you get tons of deodorant and socks and shit…

 

Faendal left Adrian just outside of Whiterun with a clap on the shoulder and a shake of the head.  Their hunting trip had been successful.  To hear Faendal hear it, it was immensely successful for Adrian, but the Imperial was still feeling a little guilty about his tryst with Mariah.  Intellectually, he knew he had done nothing wrong but emotionally, he felt that he should have stayed, if not faithful then focused.  Faendal continued to be baffled by this, but assured his friend, yet again, that he did nothing wrong.

“Go fix her a nice roast leg of goat,” he said.  “I know the way back to Riverwood.”

Adrian was reluctant at first, but relented and made his way up the path and through Whiterun’s gate.  The city, he observed, seemed far more energetic than usual although he could not imagine why.  He found Carlotta closing up her vegetable stall and from her he learned that Ysolda would be traveling with R’isaad’s caravan for several days,  although Carlotta reassured him that she would be back soon. Adrian found himself relieved but he wasn’t sure why.  When he thought of her, how soft her pale skin looked by candlelight, her dark eyes that were somehow both soulful and inquisitive, and that collarbone, that perfect collarbone he wanted trail his mouth across and down and—He cut his thoughts short.

Clearly, his relief was not borne from a sudden disinterest.  He just needed a day or so to shake that sting—that uncomfortable guilty twinge in his chest.  It was getting late and he was tired.  Rather than attempt to catch up to Faendal, he made his way over to the Drunken Huntsman.

The Drunken Huntsman was packed.  Well, not really.  But it was considerably busier than normal and it was certainly not the ambiance he was seeking.  He shook his head in annoyance but as he turned to leave, he heard someone calling his name.

“Adrian.”  Jenassa’s tone was curt, as it always was.  “I’m glad you’re here.”

“I can’t be around this many people tonight,” he explained.  “I was just going to leave…why is it so crowded?”

“Some wee Breton killed a dragon and ate its heart, Balgruuf made her Thane and everyone’s celebrating.”

Adrian furrowed his brow but before he could respond, Jenassa pressed a room key into his hand.  “Let’s just drink in my room tonight.  Go get settled and I’ll get us some brandy.”

He walked back to the bedroom and quickly changed into a pair of wool trousers and a tunic that he had packed in the bottom of his satchel.  He glanced quickly around the bedroom; it was spotless and completely devoid of, well just about anything that might give him more insight into the taciturn Dunmer warrior who apparently considered him friend enough to drink in her private quarters.  He might have thought the invitation strange, but yet, it was not.  If they had nothing else in common, their common aversion to Nord revelry would logically throw them together.

He was startled and jumped as she slammed the door shut when she returned.  She laughed at him and put several bottles, tankards, and goblets on the side table by the bed.

“Help yourself,” she said, opening the wardrobe.  As he sat on the bed and poured himself a drink, he could hear her shuffling around and she emerged wearing wool breeches and a loose linen shirt.  Adrian had taken a shot-sized swallow of brandy and nearly choked on the ale chaser when he saw her. Without her armor, she looked absolutely bizarre—almost naked, despite the fact that she was clearly wearing clothing.

“Yeah, it feels strange as well,” she said, as if she could read his mind.

“You had a good week,” he said, gesturing toward the spread.

“I did,” she replied.  She poured herself a goblet of brandy and held up a deck of cards.  “Rummy?”  Adrian nodded and she dealt the first hand.

Jenassa recounted her most recent contract.  One journey, two days, and three clients who eagerly paid her full fee individually.  “They didn’t even attempt to haggle.”  She snorted and shook her head.  “I love stupid, rich adventurers.”

They played several more hands and Adrian could feel himself getting increasingly intoxicated, although he did a better job this time of pacing himself for fear she would turn him out to sleep in the moat again, just for her own entertainment.  After about two hours she cleared the bottles and cups and said she would return with some water.  Adrian leaned back against the head of the bed and let his thoughts wander to Mariah and Ysolda.  The pang of guilt was still nagging him.

“What’s on your mind?”  Jenassa once again startled him when she game back in the room.  “Don’t get up,” she said as she brought a chair over to the bed.  She sat down and brought her foot up to rest on the edge of the bed.  Adrian looked at her and then laid back again, crossing his arms behind his head and pulling his feet up.

“I took your advice,” he said.  “I met someone on my hunting trip.  And I…well, I got what I wanted and then got out.”  He sighed and closed his eyes, suddenly regretting sharing this.  Within moments, she would sense his regret and probably mock him relentlessly.  He sighed.

But she didn’t mock him; she just looked at him intently.  “Do you feel bad about this?  Because of  Ysolda?”

“A little,” he responded.  “I suppose you think that’s incredibly stupid.”  He looked back at her and awaited her ridicule.

“Perhaps,” she said without a trace of derision in her voice, which surprised him.  She crossed her arms and continued to study his face.  “Ysolda is the first woman you’ve felt any affection for in a very long time, no?”

He nodded slowly and swallowed.  That twinge was still there, although having Jenassa affirm his feelings lessened it considerably.

“I probably do not need to tell you this, but you didn’t do anything wrong.  You’ve been wandering a long time Adrian.”  She took a gulp of water before continuing.  “Since it’s been so long since you’ve felt this way, you’re bound to place a disproportionate amount of importance on a single date, a single kiss.”  Her tone betrayed some scorn, but it was carefully directed, not at Adrian, but at the concept of affection more generally.

Her words made sense and a surprisingly comfortable silence settled in between them.  She understood, even if the notion of long-term romantic attachments baffled her.  Adrian stretched and closed his eyes again.  “It’s getting late. I’ll be out of your way soon,” he assured her.

She grinned and waved this suggestion away.  “Have a nap if you want.  I’m not going to bed any time soon.  I only sleep for about two hours every night anyway.”

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?”  Adrian laughed and reached up to scratch his chest, exposing his stomach as his wrist caught his tunic.  Jenassa caught a glance of the hard muscles of his abdomen and raised her eyebrows.  Most of the Imperials she met came across as soft.  Even the tougher ones, the soldiers, seemed a little pudgy around the middle.

“You know,” she said.  “I suspect it’s not really guilt you feel, but fear.”  With that, she kneed up onto the bed, threw her leg over, and straddled him.  She leaned up at first, so that her bottom was just barely grazing his pelvic area.

Adrian’s eyes widened and he gasped.  When he looked up at her, their eyes locked.  Her expression was not one of seduction or passion.  It was her typical stern and fierce countenance and he found himself a little frightened but also incredibly curious about her intentions.  She smirked and lowered herself, grinding her firm backside into him as her fingers crept up under his tunic, massaging and squeezing as she explored.   Her pinches hurt, but he didn’t mind.  His initial trepidation was giving way now to unadulterated lust.  Thoughts of Mariah and Ysolda left his mind.  All he could think about was how much he wanted to fuck the Dunmer warrior on top of him.

Jenassa leaned back up and yanked her shirt off.  As he imagined, there was not an ounce of fat on her body.  She was pure, lean muscle.  She wore no brassiere and her breasts were small and perky.  He yanked himself upright, grabbing her ass and keeping her perfectly positioned against his now rock-hard manhood.  She grunted as she pulled his shirt off and leaned up.  His mouth found its way to first her neck, then her collarbone, and finally her tits—her dark grey, almost black, nipples were hard and he bit and sucked as she dug her fingers into his back.

She pulled away very suddenly and Adrian briefly wondered if that was her game, to torment him by getting him all riled up and then—but it wasn’t.  She pulled him to his knees and undid his pants, exposing him.  She cocked her head and nodded approvingly before she pushed him back and yanked his trousers completely off.  She scrambled out of her own pants and underclothes before she kneed up and straddled him again.

Adrian groaned and gasped as she took his cock in his hand, stroking him slowly and deliberately.  He clutched the bottom of her thighs and groped her bottom, pulling her closer.  She leaned forward, positioning herself so that the tip of his cock was just lightly pressed against her folds.  She remained still for a moment before bringing his hand up and directing his fingers to her nub.  She pulled forward to give him room to explore and he easily slipped a couple of fingers inside while he worked her clit with his thumb.  Until this point she had been quiet, barely a heaving breath escaped her.  Now she let out a low moan.

She pulled back and again, pressed his cock against her, this time taking his length in completely.  Adrian let out a loud grunt when their bodies met.  She felt so good.  She was wet and tight and he lost himself in mindless passion as she rode him fervently.  He grabbed her hips and thrust into her as hard as he could.  Jenassa moans soon gave way to louder cries of pleasure.   “Oh gods…oh please…” she cried.  “Gods…I’m coming …Adrian…I’m coming!”  She arched her back and let out another cry as she climaxed.  Adrian had been barely holding it in and hearing Jenassa call out his name sent him hurtling over the edge.  He gave one final thrust and, grunting through clenched teeth, he came hard inside her.

Jenassa rolled off him and stood up, gathering her clothes and dressing.  She looked utterly serious, almost as if nothing had just occurred.  Adrian just lay there, muscles quivering, as he caught his breath.  He let his thoughts wander to Mariah and Ysolda.  This time there was no twinge, no guilt.  He felt oddly at peace with what just happened and wondered if tomorrow’s hangover would be accompanied by self-loathing.  But he was sobering up.  Would he be consumed by regret later?  What would it mean if he wasn’t?  He was thinking about this as he found his clothing strewn around the bed.

“Well,” said Jenassa, interrupting his thoughts.  “That wasn’t too shoddy.  Now, having sown your wild oats all over Skyrim, you can settle down with Ysolda.”  She reached up and pinched his nipple through his shirt.  He flinched and she continued.  “Go to sleep.  I’m going to get another drink and you look beat.”

He nodded and leaned back.  He was fairly exhausted.  As he drifted off into sleep, he thought over what she said.  There was a twisted logic to it.  In any case, he found himself excited at the prospect of seeing Ysolda soon.  And there would be no guilt and regret.  That baggage was gone.

A Nomad in Skyrim – Day XI 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.

The landscape changed dramatically as we journeyed east along the White River,
the gentle plains of Whiterun making way for dense green forests and steep
snow-capped mountains. I couldn’t decide which was more picturesque, Faendal seemed
to have no trouble though. As we got closer to our destination and the forestry
loomed over us on all sides, his eyes grew large and he gazed all around him,
clearly in love with his surroundings. “Riverwood is wonderful and safe, but
nothing beats the majesty of the forest,” he said. I found it difficult to
disagree.

The image speaks for itself.

The image speaks for itself.

It had been a couple of hours since we struck the tent and moved on and our throats
were raw from singing, Faendal taught me a couple of Bosmeri folk songs he liked
to sing and I returned the favour. We ended on a booming rendition of Ragnar
the Red, frightening birds from their nests for miles around. “You have an
excellent voice,” I said, his resounding tenor sounded as though it had been
formally trained. “Thank you, my mother was a choirmaster.” I’m learning
something new about Faendal everyday but I still don’t feel as though I know
the man, not really. I decided then to dig a little deeper, if I could, into
his past later on around the camp fire.

Soon after we came to the fork in the road, one path crossing the river north
towards Windhelm, the other following the river south. Either route would lead
us to Eastwatch, but we decided to head south away from Windhelm, wanting to
avoid the base of the rebels and any dangers that it may present. As we ventured
south the trees grew thicker, carpeting the mountains, transforming the formerly
harsh landscape into a verdant surround. We passed through in complete silence,
neither of us wishing to disturb the soft tranquility of the forest, the only
sounds were the low buzzing of insects in the air and the gentle trickling of
the White River at our side.

A large stone building came into view, it seemed to be a fort of some kind.
Knowing our previous luck with strange buildings we decided to skirt around it,
crouch-walking all the way.

Aren't any of these forts inhabited by soldiers?!

Aren’t any of these forts inhabited by soldiers?!

“Who’s there?!!” We were almost past the fort when a black-cloaked figure on
patrol cried out. Crouching behind a large boulder we waited, each step the
guard took seemingly getting louder and louder. His shadow hung over us, such
was his proximity, I exchanged nervous glances with Faendal and gripped the hilt
of my sword. Thankfully it was not necessary, the guard dismissed the sound as
an animal in the undergrowth and moved away, allowing us to sneak past the fort
undetected.

Softly, softly, evadey, fortey

Softly, softly, evadey, fortey

“That was close,” Faendal said. “They looked like necromancers as well, I wouldn’t
like to cross them.”
“Necromancy gives me the creeps,” I replied. “I’ve heard things about them,
disturbing things, things that give me the shivers. Thankfully I’ve never had
the misfortune to meet one, not knowingly anyway.”
“They generally keep to themselves around here, carrying out their pernicious
experiments in secret. Reports of missing people are common in necromancy
hotspots, what fate they suffer I shudder to think.”

Events took a somewhat more positive turn soon after when we discovered the
monumental skeletal remains of what seemed to be a mammoth. Faendal could hardly
contain his enthusiasm at witnessing this macabre artifact, he knelt over it and
began to examine it closely. “You know what this means, we are practically at
Eastwatch! This is just the beginning of the wildlife we shall witness here,
I’m hoping to spy a sabre cat myself, perhaps even get one of their extended
canine teeth.” I was excited at finally arriving at our hunting grounds, but
images of sabre-sharp teeth provoked little encouragement.

I hope it was a human hunter that killed this thing

I hope it was a human hunter that killed this thing

The atmosphere in these parts differed from Whiterun, a thin mist hung in the
air, obscuring the low-hanging branches, lending a mysterious almost magical
feel to the place. We were off-road now, cutting across boggy marsh-land, Faendal
leading the way.

A giant Skyrim jacuzzi, jackpot!

A giant Skyrim jacuzzi, jackpot!

It was getting dark, almost time for us to stop, when we crested
a rise and came across one of the most delightful sights I’ve yet to see in
Skyrim. Hot springs spewed water from the earth, steam billowing up into the
evening sky, glowing insects floated barely visible in the mist and a tent was
pitched in the middle of it all. “Look,” I whispered. “Over there. There are
people sat in the springs.”
“They are probably hunters,” Faendal replied. “Taking advantage of the warm pools
the springs produce to relax after a days work.” A dip in a hot pool sounded
just the thing I needed after the days hardships. I sprang eagerly ahead, Faendal
struggling to keep up, when I came across a most enchanting sight.

How you doing?

How you doing?

A woman lay, half naked, in the nearest hot pool. She appeared to be a Nord but
her dark skin told a different story, her largely exposed body was slender, her
legs long and the expression on her face was one of pleasant surprise. Silence
reigned momentarily as I could not find the words to say, Faendal seemed to suffer
likewise. “Why hello there strangers, hunters eh?” She spoke slowly, too relaxed
to be stirred by our sudden arrival. “Err…yes, yes. How did you know?” I spluttered
in reply. “The bows on your back give you away, just a little.” She smiled widely,
clearly amused by our surprise at finding a half-naked, rather attractive woman
out in the wilderness. “What are your names?”
“I’m Adrian, this is Faendal.” I replied, doing my level best to look her in the
eyes.

“Gunnar, Siona, look what I found!” She shouted, sauntering over to a nearby
pool. “Ah, fellow hunters! Come join us, the water’s good!” Gunnar beckoned us
over, a blonde rather scruffy-looking Nord. “Er…no thanks,” Faendal replied.
“I’d rather keep my clothes on.”
The Redguard that was sat next to him added “It’s rare to meet travellers round
these parts nowadays, pleased to meet you. I’m Siona, this is Gunnar and you’ve
already met Mariah.” Mariah smiled, a mischievous smile I thought, but not altogether
unappealing. “Are you sure you won’t join us? What about you Imperial?” She turned
her attention to me. “Care to test the water?”

The pool looked so inviting that I needed no second invitation, whipping off
my furs, I was in before they hit the ground. Gunnar didn’t lie, the water really
was good. As I sank into the pool it enveloped me, relaxing my aching
muscles and enducing a tranquility such as I have never before known. “Wow, I
have never bathed in a hot spring before.” My voice grew slow and vacant, as
though I were in a trance of some sort. “Why do you think we hunt around here?!”
Gunnar said. “You won’t find the like of these in the whole of Skyrim!”

“So, what brings you to Eastwatch?” Siona asked, I was so relaxed that I barely
heard her speak. “I think they’re hunters Siona,” Mariah piped in, recieving
a cold look in return. Faendal chuckled uneasily. “We are on a hunting trip,
from Whiterun.”
“Whiterun eh?” Gunnar scoffed loudly. Siona rolled her eyes, Mariah sighed softly,
but audibly. “Yes, Whiterun…why?”
“I mean you no offense but I wouldn’t give that milk-drinker, Jarl Balgruuf, the
time of day!” Gunnar was sat up now, leaning forward as if to invite Faendal’s
response and he didn’t disappoint. “I suppose this is a reference to the Jarl’s
stance on the civil war?” His voice was a little more level than the Nord’s, but
I could see he was becoming agitated. “You suppose right!” Gunnar replied.
“That milk-drinker sits on the fence, currying favour with the Empire. A true
Nord would have his country’s best interests at heart, a Nord like Ulfric
Stormcloak!”
“The country’s best interests? What does Ulfric know of Skyrim’s best interests?
Was it in the country’s best interests to, for example, slay its High King?”

I watched on as the debate grew louder and more heated, my head turning back
and forth as the contestants took turns to make their point. “Psst, Adrian.”
Mariah was whispering in my ear. “Want to leave these to it?” She smiled again,
that same smile as before. I found myself following her, despite actually
wanting to hear what Faendal and Gunnar had to say. “I tire of Gunnar’s preaching,”
Mariah said, lying down in a pool away from the others. “If he loves Ulfric
Stormcloak so much he should go ahead and join him.” I lay down next to her,
gazing up at a star-filled sky.

I could lie here forever

I could lie here forever

“Why do you travel with him if he irks you so?” I asked. She sighed deeply.
“Hunting is my life and a hunter needs companions, Gunnar is handy with a
blade and knows this land like the back of his hand. How about you and Faendal,
you been together long?”
“No we haven’t, I’ve not been in Skyrim long,” I replied.”I’m a bit of a wanderer
to tell the truth.”
“The lone wanderer, sounds very romantic,” she said.
“It sounds more than it is,” I chuckled. “No, it can get terribly lonely at
times.”

We lay there for a while, basking in the heat of the spring, staring lazily up
at the stars. We talked at length of the hunter’s life, of Skyrim and of home.
“Do you have a dream Adrian?” she asked.
“I have dreams, all the time.”
“Not dreams,” she giggled. “A dream! Something or someone you aspire to do or to
be!” My thoughts went immediately to my father.
“I had one, once. It’s impossible now though, I left it behind in Cyrodil, along
with everything else.”
“I am sorry.” A moments silence passed by, neither of us knowing quite what to
say next, until I said.

“What about yourself? Is it your lifelong dream to hunt the plains of Skyrim,
Gunnar at your side?” She smiled ruthfully and replied.
“No, I can’t say it is. It sounds more like my father’s to be honest.”
I waited patiently and she began to speak tentatively of her childhood. “He is
a proud Nord my father, a pillar of the community up in Windhelm. A brave huntsman,
no one ever had a cross word to say of him. My mother, a fiery Redguard, she
sailed the seas with a merchant ship, fending off pirates and exploring distant
lands, how he got her to settle down I’ll never know. It was difficult growing
up in Windhelm, particularly with race being a sensitive subject there even now.”

The book I read of Faendal’s, “Scourge of the Gray Quarter”, sprang to mind and
I nodded. “I wanted and still want so desperately to follow in my mother’s footsteps,
to sail the seas for a living, perhaps one day even have my own ship. Father
wouldn’t hear of it, he dismissed the idea out of hand and his temper flared
whenever the subject came up thereafter.” She looked away, suddenly finding
interest in a nearby shrub. “You know I’ve never set foot on a ship in my life.”
I told her, trying to take her mind off it. “You haven’t?!” She gasped. “Oh it’s
the greatest feeling there is. The boards beneath your feet, the smell of fresh
sea air, the tranquility of the open ocean, nothing compares to it!”

“Why don’t you do it then?” I asked her. “You aren’t a little girl anymore,
you shouldn’t let your father influence you so.”
“But…I don’t know.”
“Do you want to wander Skyrim all your life with Gunnar?! Life is too short to
do what someone else wishes you to do.”
“You’re right, of course,” she smiled and shifted slightly closer. It was only
then that I fully noticed her. Her soft black hair, her lithe yet generous form,
the smooth dark perfection of her skin.

Attacked by bandits in the morning, half-naked with a girl at night. Things are looking up!

Attacked by bandits in the morning, half-naked with a girl at night. Things are looking up!

She kissed me, slowly and sensually. I hesitated at first, thoughts
of Ysolda giving me pangs of guilt, but not for long. Our hands wandered,
grasping at each other’s bodies greedily as the others argued on, oblivious to
our lust…

“You’re welcome back any time!” Gunnar called, waving us off, Siona echoing
his sentiment. Mariah stood behind them silently, staring into my eyes as I
turned to follow Faendal. “I don’t think we’ll be going back there anytime soon.”
Faendal said as we looked for a likely place to camp for the night. “That Nord
doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut! What were you and Mariah talking
about?”
“Oh, nothing, just hunting and things…” I must have blushed furiously as he
didn’t believe a word. “You didn’t?! You crafty beggar!”
“You just help me get this tent set up,” I replied, hoping in vain to deflect
his inevitable enquiries.

To my surprise he asked no more questions and we finished a supper of potato
soup and settled down in front of the fire. “I do feel guilty you know Faendal.”
I found myself saying shortly after. “What about Ysolda?”
“What about her?” he replied. “You’ve been out for one drink, you aren’t married!”
Faendal’s attitude surprised me, I was expecting a telling off, a disapproving
look at least but he seemed quite at ease with the whole situation. “I suppose
you’re right, I do like her, a lot actually, but Mariah…”
“I understand,” he said. “Come on, let’s get some sleep, it has been a long
day and we have an equally tasking one ahead of us.”

I came on this trip looking to get away from women for a little while, to clear
my head as it were, I’ve done a poor job of that thus far! I have succeeded only
to add guilt to the long and exhausting list of feelings I am trying my damndest
to ignore. Faendal was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow and I go now
to join him, thoughts of Ysolda and Mariah not withstanding, perhaps I’ll have
better luck clearing my head tomorrow…

 

The Hobbit!!! (Minor spoilers follow…)

I should be working on the next ‘Nomad’ post and I kind of am at the time of writing but I couldn’t not spend a few minutes expounding my adoration of The Hobbit and Middle Earth in general, books and films alike.

I heard a lot of grumblings in the build-up to this film, mainly about the fact that it was shot in 48FPS which, apparently (not that I’m an expert in any way), gives it a more realistic feel because of all the extra detail captured. Reviews I have read since have likened it to watching the most expensive tv show ever. I can’t comment on this and, to be honest, I couldn’t care less as I watched it in 2D anyway. I’ve watched a few films in 3D and can honestly say that the only one that didn’t feel like a total rip-off was Avatar, I think Green Lantern had more 3D sections in the trailers beforehand than the actual movie!

Anyway, enough about all that FPS rubbish, what about the film? I bloody loved it! If I were to reel off all the lines that made me laugh, gasp or damn near cry I’d still be writing this post into next week. My first thought upon watching was thus, I fucking love dwarves!! I always have of course, ever since I read the book as a child, but the dwarves in this film deserve a special mention such was their hilarity and general awesomeness. James Nesbitt, an actor I normally associate with ITV dramas and mildly amusing Yellow Pages adverts, was a particular highlight as Bofur, injecting much humour and even pathos into the seemingly doomed expedition. When the dwarves had finally settled into Bag End in hilarious fashion and began to sing I must admit I almost cried and I’m certainly not a crier. Seeing and hearing much loved characters from my childhood on the big screen in such an epic fashion was almost too much, the Misty Mountains dirge sent a shiver down my spine and I have not stopped singing it since.

Music is an integral part of Tolkien’s universe, in fact as far as I remember his universe began with a great musical harmony only to be broken by a rogue being Melkor etc… (I used to be a lot more knowledgeable on Middle Earth lore). The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy are littered with songs and poems,  each serving to add life and character to Tolkien’s rich world. I was always captivated by these songs, music is an essential part of real cultures so it makes sense for fantasy races to have their own folk songs and musics. I’m even trying to emulate the great writer in some small way myself, attempting to write a few songs for my this very blog, with mixed results as I’m not much of a songwriter. One of my best finds on Youtube recently was ‘The Tolkien Ensemble’ a group of talented musicians that bring to life these songs and poems with mesmerising results. One of my favourites being the Song of Durin a dwarven dirge, sung by our very own Gimli son of Gloin. These are a treat for any Tolkien lover and should be checked out immediately if you’ve not already done so.

A major worry of mine before heading to the cinema was the fact that the Hobbit, a relatively short book, was being made into a trilogy with a length similar to that of The Lord of the Rings. How on Middle Earth is he going to stretch a single book out over three films?! I and many others thought. I was pleasantly surprised then to find that, at least for this first episode, Peter Jackson has largely pulled it off. Sure some die-hard fans of the original material will scoff at the added scenes, including an exceedingly good battle scene with a certain pale orc. But I thought the vast majority of the added scenes were inclusion-worthy, the scenes with Radagast the Brown, a barely mentioned character in the books, were a pleasant surprise, the scene with him trying to resuscitate his beloved hedgehog “Give him some air!” a funny highlight.

All in all I think the first installment was a success and I just wanted to vent my appalling excitement at finally seeing my beloved dwarves on the big screen, not to mention the majesty that is Christopher Lee’s Saruman. Now all there is to do is wait for the next one, all the while singing…

Far over the misty mountains cold.
To dungeons deep, and caverns old.
The pines were roaring on the height.
The winds were moaning in the night.
The fire was red, it flaming spread.
The trees like torches blazed with light.

Adantur out.

A Nomad in Skyrim – Day XI 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.

I awoke early this morning, evidently not early enough however as Faendal had
already left, presumably to inform Hod of his coming absence from the lumber
mill. It was still full dark when I rose bleary-eyed and pulled on my furs.
First order of the day was breakfast and after my rather profitable hunt outside
Whiterun I decided to cook up a succulent venison chop. As I made to add the
meat to the pot however, I discovered that I had not a single salt pile to hand.
Bemoaning Skyrim’s apparent salt shortage and not wanting to eat tasteless mush,
I decided to nip to the Sleeping Giant to buy some.

No one about the streets but the local chicken. who's IS that chicken?!

No one about the streets but the local chicken. who’s IS that chicken?!

It must have been very early indeed as not a soul could be spied in the streets
of Riverwood, even Alvor was yet to rise. The empty streets and the half-light of
dawn gave Riverwood an eerie feel, a sharp contrast to the pastoral delight of
the day. Some say the Imperial City never sleeps and apparently the same can
be said of Skyrim’s alcoholics. “It’s my favourite drinking buddy, let’s
have some mead!” It can’t have been six in the morning when I was greeted thus
upon entering the Sleeping Giant, incredulous, I declined as politely as I
could manage and proceeded to the bar.

By the Nine Embry, go home! Or...is this your home?

By the Nine Embry, go home! Or…is this your home?

I’m not sure whether Orgnar is a morning person or not, his countenance being
much the same as usual, but he greeted me gruffly all the same. The Sleeping Giant’s
salt supply was much as I thought, scarce. I bought up his entire stock of two
salt piles, which sounds like a lot but really isn’t and a loaf of bread for the
road. Either I was in there longer than I thought or it was on the cusp of dawn
anyway because, when I emerged from the warm dark of the Sleeping Giant, it was
glorious daylight outside. The village made for a much likelier picture then,
brilliant sunshine bouncing off the lush green meadows, a child running in the
street and Alvor hailing me jovially from his forge. Indeed I was in high spirits
at that point, the upcoming trip was much anticipated, as was my now belated
breakfast. I added a pile of salt to the pot and cooked myself a juicy venison
steak, a little extravagant for breakfast I concede, but I was in a fine mood
and fancied food to match.

My appetite sated, I packed the last of my possessions and left to find Faendal,
locking the door behind me. The only place I could think that he’d be was the
mill but, upon my arrival, the mill was deserted. Perplexed I wandered around
the site, checking every corner for my companion. When I’d exhausted the search
of the mill and found no trace of the Bosmer I left feeling a little deflated,
where could he have gone? No sooner had I left the mill however I saw him out
of the corner of my eye, coming through the village gate to the south. “Hail!
Where on Nirn have you been?” I cried, meeting him halfway, he appeared to be
out of breath. “I’ve just been on my morning hunt,” he replied between deep
breaths. “I was THIS close to bagging a handsome deer, I’d shot it in the leg
and thought I could finish the job up close with my dagger, little bugger was
still fairly spritely however…”

The image of Faendal chasing a wounded deer waving a dagger made me laugh and,
though exhausted from the chase, he joined in heartily. “No matter friend,” I
said. “I have some surplus venison and a nice rabbit joint from my hunting
around Whiterun that should tide us over for a day or two.” With food sorted
and my companion found, we set off north towards Whiterun. Due largely to us
being in high spirits and partially to Faendal’s surprisingly long stride, we
gained sight of Whiterun rather quicker than usual. At the crossroads in the mouth
of Riverwood’s valley a dreadful sight met our eyes, a wretched looking Nord
being led down the road by none other than the Thalmor. Two armoured guards
surrounded the prisoner, leading the helpless man like an animal to the slaughter.
Their garb was sumptuous, as befit a Justiciar and his party, black robes with
golden trim. Their finery belied their true nature, their faces however, did not.

The Thalmor...

The Thalmor…

The Justiciar at the head of the column strode down the road as though she owned
it. Her dark eyes surveyed me and Faendal, full of suspicion and zealous hate.
Faendal hailed her curtly, I just stood and stared, returning her glare with
added loathing. The sight of them brought back too many raw memories and the
sight of the miserable Nord, a prisoner only because of his personal beliefs,
made me want to draw my sword and attack even though it would more than likely
spell my doom. The Justiciar returned Faendal’s greeting equally coldly and
they exchanged words in a stilted fashion, Faendal clearly hating every second
of it. I could hardly bear to look at her never mind hear what they were saying,
I could not take my eyes off the prisoner, his eyes met mine briefly, full of
sorrow, fresh tears ran down his face. My hand moved instinctually to the hilt
of my sword.

“Anyway, we had best be going on,” I heard Faendal say, emerging from my reverie.
“Tell me, Imperial,” the Justiciar turned her attention to me. “Do you believe
it is right to worship a man?” Her accusing eyes pierced me like a knife through
butter, cutting through my defences straight to my heart. It took me a moment
but I answered as coolly as I could. “Of course not.” My grip tightened, Faendal
stirred nervously. “We…we should go,” he said, turning to leave.
“Stay.” The Justiciar snapped, stopping him in his tracks. “I am not entirely
convinced and…” As quick as lightning she drew her dagger, followed by the
sound of weapons being drawn as her guards did likewise. “Take your hand from
your weapon!” She shouted, brandishing her dagger, eyes gleaming in anticipation.
“Adrian, do as she says!” Faendal urged, I could hear his words but they just
sounded like noise to my ears. My grip tightened ever more, my sword hilt became
slippery with sweat, I stared intensely at the prisoner and the Justiciar edged
closer with her dagger drawn.

Suddenly I snapped out of it and let go of my weapon, my arms raised in
supplication. We backed away swiftly me and Faendal, only turning our backs on
our aggressors when they were safely out of sight. He didn’t shout, I had
endangered his life but after all I had told him he understood, something for
which I am most thankful. We walked in silence for a while afterwards, both of
us shaken by the standoff. With no harm done however our spirits eventually
returned and, spying a fox in the undergrowth, Faendal said. “Now, let’s see
your skill with a bow, I wager two gold coins that you can’t hit that fox over
there!”

“You’re on.” I replied, drawing my bow and swiftly nocking an arrow. It was a
quick little creature and it was already spooked by our presence. My first arrow
flew past when it suddenly stopped and Faendal grinned, rubbing his hands in
expectation. The fox bolted and, going entirely by instinct, I hastily nocked
a second arrow and let fly. The missile led my spritely quarry, meeting the
fox’s neck as it ran across its deadly path. Faendal could scarcely believe it
and, as cool as I tried to act, I could neither. “Well, well, well,” he said.
“Not bad for an Imperial.” I had to laugh and proceeded to skin my prize with
a big grin on my face. “I wager you Wood Elves pull off those shots with your
eyes closed!”
“I don’t like to brag, but I once took down a bear at three hundred yards.
In a blizzard.” Following this was a moment of utter silence and then a torrent
of laughter as Faendal’s face cracked and we both creased up at his sheer
arrogance.

It seems to be a recurring theme, dead virtual animals. Perhaps my blog should come with a "Not suitable for vegetarians" warning.

It seems to be a recurring theme, dead virtual animals. Perhaps my blog should come with a “Not suitable for vegetarians” warning.

“In all seriousness, that was an excellent shot. Perhaps I don’t have much to
teach you after all.” I thanked him graciously and we moved on, heading east
along the White River. It was a fine day for the hunt and, as we strolled along
the riverside talking excitedly of all the different beasts we were like to
encounter in Eastwatch, Faendal managed to take down an unfortunate elk that
happened across our path. As he knelt down to skin his prize I felt a horribly
sharp pain in my side and span around just in time to hear him cry. “Wolf!”
I drew my sword and unbuckled my shield, holding it up in anticipation of the
wolf’s next lunge. I felt a rush of wind on my cheek however as an arrow flew
past, lodging firmly in the beast’s skull.

“Cursed wolves, this land is rife with the beasts, are you alright?” Faendal
asked, putting away his bow and kneeling to inspect my attacker. “Tis but a
scratch,” I replied, rubbing my wound. He seemed to take a while inspecting
the animal and, after a long period of deliberation, he said. “Curious, this
wolf bears not the hallmarks of others I’ve seen in these parts. It’s claws
are comparatively blunt and it’s a lot skinnier, malnourished almost.”
“I can’t think why that is, perhaps it was a pet?” Was the best I could offer,
Faendal gave a dark smirk. “If this was a pet then I wouldn’t like to meet its
owner.” We did in fact meet its owner not five minutes down the road, but it
sadly was not a pet. By the road we came across the corpse of a topless man,
seemingly a bandit from his garb. It didn’t take Faendal long to surmise the cause
of his death, the dead man was covered in bites and scratches and the left side
of his face was horribly mutilated.

You have none of my sympathies

You have none of my sympathies

Upon searching him we discovered a small note that read…

Bandit Note

The contents of the note caused Faendal to look away in disgust and he was in
a sombre mood for long after. He hunted animals daily, taking their lives and
stripping away their flesh in a gruesome manner, but he loved them more than
anyone I have ever met. I must admit the note angered me too, the idea of
innocent animals being tossed into a pit, half-starved, to fight each other to
the death just didn’t sit well at all. We continued on, the next few hours
passing in silence until, after cresting a rise, we came upon the bridge.

This looks oddly familiar...

This looks oddly familiar…

It was a queer sight at first, a tall stone construct, two stout towers at either
end. It looked very old indeed, the far tower almost blending seamlessly with
the ancient mountainside. As we approached a small camp fire came into view,
a solitary woman at its side. The atmosphere changed suddenly, she was wearing
studded leather armour and had a longsword at her side. Faendal stiffened at
her approach and I noticed him take a few steps backwards, out of my line of
sight. “This is a toll road,” the woman said. “It’s….two hundred gold to pass.”
My stomach sank, bandits! Horrible flashbacks from my last ordeal with bandits
sprang to mind, fear gripped me and I froze on the spot, not knowing what to say.

The bandit collapsed, blood flowing freely from a wound in her chest, one of
Faendal’s arrows lodged there. A great cry erupted from the bridge and Faendal
span to face them. “Draw your weapon!!” He shouted, loosing another arrow, taking
down another bandit on the bridge. Shaking almost uncontrollably, I drew my sword
and shield, stepping over the dead bandit into the tower with Faendal at my back.
His manner had changed drastically within the space of a few seconds. Before he
was a mild mannered huntsman, now he spat curses at the bandits, his face contorted
with rage as he loosed arrow after arrow in their direction. I did my best to
keep up, bringing my sword down on their heads as I deflected blows with my
shield but I may as well have been a shying rabbit compared to Faendal’s fury.

We fought our way slowly across the bridge, reaching the middle through a
combination of Faendal’s arrows and my shield. When I had cut open what seemed
to be the last of them however, a monstrous shout sounded from the far tower. The
biggest Redguard I have ever seen emerged, charging full pelt across the bridge
towards me, wielding a dirty great sword and shield. “Stand firm!!” Faendal
shouted. “Whatever happens, keep that shield up!” It seemed to take the Redguard
an age to reach me, despite his speed. The dread sounds of his boots stomping
on the stone of the walkway rang through my head, the sound of my impending
doom. A mighty crash followed as he rammed into my shield, my arm almost broke
under the impact but somehow I kept it up. With a loud grunt he brought his
sword down upon it, hacking it to bits. I was driven back to the tower, quailing
under his sheer power, I attempted to counter attack with my own sword but could
find no window of opportunity, such was the rapidity of his onslaught.

He became impatient and, lifting his sword high in the air, brought it crashing
down upon my shield with two hands, breaking my guard completely and exposing
me. I downed a healing potion and prayed inwardly to all the nine divines. Was
this how it would end? Under the sword of a thief? I closed my eyes and held
up my sword in a last-ditch attempt at blocking the killing blow when I heard
a markedly different cry than that of the bandit chief. Upon opening my eyes I
saw, much to my immense relief, Faendal stabbing furiously at the bandits throat.
He screamed and plunged his dagger into the bandits neck repeatedly, dropping
the brute to his knees and kicking his lifeless body to the floor.

Faendal is surprisingly ferocious!

Faendal is surprisingly ferocious!

We both just sat there for a while after, blood and gore covering the room, both
of us breathing heavily. “Thank you,” I said eventually, he said nothing but
left the tower to breath in fresh air. I felt as though I would vomit at any
moment, the mere sight of the array of corpses filled me with revulsion. After
a while Faendal calmed down, his battle rage subsided and he became himself again.
“I am sorry,” he said. “I don’t know what came over me.”
“You have nothing to be sorry for!” I protested. “Nothing whatsoever! Why, if
it wasn’t for you, we would be the dead ones, not these miserable creatures!”
“I suppose you’re right,” he smiled. “It has been a long day, why don’t we get
some rest here?”

A well-deserved breather!

A well-deserved breather!

A rest sounded perfect at that moment and so we set up camp outside the near
tower, using the bandit’s cooking pot to cook up some soup. We said little
and simply relaxed after a hard journey, preparing ourselves for the hardships
that were likely to come. “We’re not far from Eastwatch now,” Faendal said.
“About an hour down the river there is a fork, beyond that are the plains
of Eastwatch, where all manner of beasts roam!” His mood had improved immeasurably and,
with these words, mine did too. After a lunch of bread and soup and a well-deserved
rest, we set off yet again with smiles on our faces, determined to put our
terrible ordeal behind us and with much and more anticipation.

“Slender bow two inches wide, and a trusty dagger at his side…” Faendal was
singing with a broad beaming face. “What’s that you’re singing?” I asked him,
partial to a good song myself. “It’s an old hunting song,” he replied “A Hunting
We Shall Go.”
“I know it!” I cried and he began to sing the first lines of the song in a crisp,
clear tenor. Myself replying as best I could in my comparatively muddy baritone.
Together we belted out the chorus, filling the river valley with lively song.

Slender bow two inches wide,
And a trusty dagger at his side,
Come forth he cried onwards we ride,
And a gambit shall be made!

We’ll wander far both high and low,
On lush green fields and mounts of snow,
Oh yo ho ho ho ho ho ho,
And a hunting we shall go!

Glossy furs adorn his chest,
And on his hearth great trophies rest,
Of huntsmen famed he is the best,
And you shall have the same!

We’ll wander far both high and low,
On lush green fields and mounts of snow,
Oh yo ho ho ho ho ho ho,
And a hunting we shall go!

As soft as silk his footsteps are,
And how those eyes see oh so far,
Of battles great he bears no scar,
And battles he’s seen plenty!

We’ll wander far both high and low,
On lush green fields and mounts of snow,
Oh yo ho ho ho ho ho ho,
And a hunting we shall go!

He drew his arrow like lightning,
And nocking it pulled tight the string,
Oh did that fateful arrow sing,
And strike another beast down!

We’ll wander far both high and low,
On lush green fields and mounts of snow,
Oh yo ho ho ho ho ho ho,
And a hunting we shall go!

Oh yo ho ho ho ho ho ho,
And a hunting we shall go!

Oh yo ho ho ho ho ho ho,
And a hunting we shall go!

Progress Report and Stuff

Deadlines, oh how I hate deadlines. Personal ones are the worst, ones where the sole consequence of missing them is your own feeling of disappointment. At least official deadlines have that knack of snapping you out of your workless funk a few days before it. When I took up this blog again after over a month break I set myself a weekly quota and, thus far, I have met it, producing a ‘Nomad’ post at least once a week for the past few weeks. This week however I will come dangerously close to missing it, reasons for which are many.

The past few weeks have been trying ones for me, I’ve been as close to depressed as I ever have been before, myself being a generally contented person and I have been having major doubts about pretty much everything. This time last year it was my first year at university and I had made a lot of great new friends, I was generally enjoying life as I never have done previously. In fact, if you were to look at the posts around November of last year, you would read the writings of a happy young man, excited at his prospects and experiencing fresh new experiences every day. I had just left home for the first time and, contrary to some who feel homesick, I loved it.

Fast forward to the present and things have changed, due to a number of factors such as self-doubt, loneliness and general apathy towards my current situation amongst others, I have become introverted. Whereas last year I sought the company of others and was always up for a night out, I now can not wait to get back to my room and be on my own. I seem to have given up trying to be honest. I can only hope that the Christmas break will do me some good and my mood improves accordingly.

Now for the progress report! The routine I have developed for writing ‘Nomad’ posts is to first play half a day and make notes on it, then play the other half and do likewise, before writing it all up in one or two sessions. This is fairly time-consuming, depending on how eventful the day was (and day 11 is fairly eventful). I usually hope to start around the beginning of the week after posting the previous day around friday the previous. This week however I have only just started and it is very nearly saturday so I have a lot to do in very little time. I am however determined to get a quality post out there by sunday 00:59! This blog has been rather therapeutic over the last month or so and playing and writing as Adrian Caro provides somewhat of an escape from reality. Not to mention reading other people’s comments and blogs that serve to cheer me after a thankless day.

I won’t tag this one or share it on Facebook as I have never been one for sharing feelings and such, at least before I “grew up” (being a child was much simpler). I thought I’d keep y’all updated anyways and, until sunday…

Adantur out.

A Nomad in Skyrim – Day X

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.

My eyes refused to open, a throbbing pain above them made me want to simply
shut out the world and go back to sleep. I couldn’t see anything but I knew I
must have been lying in a rather deep puddle or something similar as I was soaked to
the skin. Flashes of scenes from the night before emerged slowly in my head,
pieces of the seemingly impossible puzzle that was last night. I remembered
vaguely leaving The Bannered Mare with Ysolda and, with what I can only imagine
was a stupid looking smile on my face, I recalled receiving a kiss to end the
night. After that I woke in this puddle or gutter, with the worst pain in my
head and a mild feeling of embarrassment for getting so drunk so quickly. After
lying stationary for a while, feeling more and more conspicuous as I became more
and more conscious, I decided to try and open my eyes. I cautiously opened one
eye a crack and a shaft of brilliant white light pierced through into my brain,
causing the searing pain in my head to multiply. Groaning loudly I forced myself
into a sitting position and, when my vision had suitably adjusted to the bright
daylight, looked around to take stock.

I seemed to be sitting in the town moat, as the grid in front of me and the judging
eyes of Adrianne Avenicci from above me informed me. I could not begin to
imagine how I got down there, the general ache that was my body just then
probably had something to do with it. Adrianne had nothing to say to me when I
eventually crawled out of the moat, I nodded a somewhat sheepish greeting and
sloped past, heading to the Drunken Huntsman across the road to sate my now
ferocious appetite. The tavern was as empty as usual, Jenassa sat in her usual
seat in the corner, but the warmth emanating from the cooking pit in the centre
of the room was most welcome. I threw some ingredients together in the pot and
cooked up a venison stew, sitting in the corner next to Jenassa (after recieving
the customary nod of approval).

Don't even look at me...

Don’t even look at me…

“You look like death,” she said, her countenance as unsympathetic as her sentiment.
My throat certainly felt like it and I could only grunt in response, causing
her to chuckle gleefully. “Next time you go on a date, try to wake up in her
bed rather than a moat.”
“You saw me?! You could have woken me!” I cried, halfway through the most restorative
stew. “You looked peaceful,” she replied, that gleeful expression unchanging.
“You’re really enjoying this aren’t you?” To this she could only laugh and I
finished my stew in silence, finding it a little too early to be able to laugh
at my misfortune.

As I bade Jenassa an unenthused farewell and left the Huntsman, I attempted to
recollect exactly what happened the night before but, no matter how I wracked
my now terribly sore head, I simply could not recall anything past Ysolda closing
her door. I did, I remembered with a painful feeling in my gut, remember acting
rather foolishly for the final part of our date. Spilling ale everywhere and
behaving a bit too suggestively being just a taste of the offences that sprang
to mind. For this I decided to apologise and averted my course to Ysolda’s
house, after which I would stumble back to Riverwood as best I could.

Performing some kind of walk of shame through Whiterun was not the way I envisaged
spending my time in Skyrim. I felt as though the judging, smirking eyes of all
the townsfolk were on me, people spreading more and more inaccurate tales of
my antics. My only consolation was that I could avoid the marketplace in order
to see Ysolda as her house could be reached via a path that circuited the southern
end of the city. When I reached her house however, I found that there was no
one in. “Damn!” I thought, glancing down the street towards the bustling
marketplace, doubtless she would be there, as she was every day. After a moments
deliberation I decided to head straight back to Riverwood, a crowded market
being the last place I wanted to be.

Ysolda seems to be up early, then again she is a Nord

Ysolda seems to be up early, then again she is a Nord

It was a beautiful day and,in any other state, I would have cherished the walk
home through this glorious landscape. As it was I was tired, sore and with a
headache like I’d just been toe-poked by a Giant and I just wanted to get home
and collapse on Faendal’s bed.

I hadn’t moved a hundred yards from the city gate when I spied an encampment
practically leaning against the walls. It was the Khajiit merchants that Ysolda
was talking about, only there were more of them than I anticipated. They seemed
to have a semi-permanent home set up, multiple tents, tanning rack and a large
camp-fire in the centre. A Khajiit fellow sat cross-legged on a rather exotic
looking rug in the mouth of the nearest tent and I decided to speak to him about
his dealings with Ysolda and perhaps sell of some of the surplus I’ve gathered.

Doing business with a talking cat, just what you need after a dozen Nord Ales

Doing business with a talking cat, just what you need after a dozen Nord Ales

“Hello there Imperial, what can Ri’saad do for you today?” That crossed finding
his name out off the list. “Hail friend, I was just passing and decided to sell
some of my surplus goods, are you a willing buyer?” Ri’saad seemed polite but,
and I am loathe to admit it, I have never been entirely trusting of Khajiit,
particularly those in mercantile. Let’s just put it down to previous bad experience.
“Of course Imperial, what kind of Khajiit merchant isn’t?” He smiled, he seemed
to be a capable merchant indeed if his dress was anything to go by. He wore the
finest robes I have ever seen a merchant sat in a tent outside a city wear. I
sold him a necklace of magicka I had lying around in my pack and received a
hundred septims for it, a welcome donation indeed as, when I went to fill my
coinpurse, I found that I had spent nearly two hundred septims last night!

“Was there anything else, or is our transaction complete?” I thought about digging
a little deeper into Ri’saad’s character but, in my current state, interrogating
Khajiit merchants was the last thing I wanted to do. I bade him farewell and
headed in the direction of Riverwood, the afternoon sun warming my weary bones.
As I began to climb the slopes into the valley in which Riverwood lies, my ears
pricked at the sound of marching boots. Moments later I was met with Imperial
soldiers, three in number, dressed smartly in their Imperial leather armour
and led by a stern faced Redguard. “Hail citizen!” He said, his serious demeanour
not shifting an inch. “Hail, where are you headed?” I replied, scanning their
faces for Hadvar, he wasn’t with them. “We are headed to Solitude, to join up
with General Tullius of course. The Stormcloaks won’t kill themselves will they?”
“No, no I suppose not,” I replied, slightly perturbed at the soldier’s smile as
he said it. “You should think about joining up, a stout young man like yourself,
that bow of yours would come in handy against the rebels.”

For the last time NO!

For the last time NO!

At this I sighed inwardly then politely declined, first Hadvar and now him, the
next person to try and enlist me will surely get a piece of my mind! “If you
should ever change your mind simply go to Solitude and speak to the general. He
is a fine man General Tullius, if you ask me (I didn’t) the Stormcloaks are
ungrateful, General Tullius and the Imperial Legion are the only thing keeping
the Aldmeri Dominion out of Skyrim!” I’m no expert on the civil war, which is
something I will soon have to work on, but I couldn’t help but detect a hint of
bias in the soldier’s fervoured speech. Wanting to avoid a political debate and
to simply get home, I agreed to consider going to Solitude and bid the soldiers
farewell.

Throughout the remainder of my journey I began to think about the civil war and
how little I knew about it. I have been ignorant of most politics for a long time
now, catching only snippets of information from second-hand and mostly dubious
sources on my travels. I resolved then to learn more about the civil war and
specifically about General Tullius, from all reports I had heard thus far he
was a great commander, I found myself wondering what his views were on the
White-Gold Concordat and the Thalmor in general. Was he simply oppressing the
Nords of Skyrim due to orders, or did he actually consider them subjects of the
Empire and serve them as such? An apology for almost executing me wouldn’t go
amiss either… Such wonderings are too much on a hangover however, so I decided
to get some sleep first then ask Faendal what he knew sometime later.

Soon my eyes fell upon the wonderful sight of Riverwood, after my eventful visit
to Whiterun I simply couldn’t wait to get back to the peace of the village and
my pace quickened in response. Nothing had changed since I left, the village
drunk Embry was at his usual post in front of the inn, Alvor hailed me as he
hammered away at his forge and I found Faendal at his post chopping wood for
Hod. “Where on Nirn have you been?!” He seemed pleasantly surprised to see me.
“I thought you were only nipping into Whiterun for the day, you’ve been gone
for two!”

“It’s a long story friend,” by this time I was near collapse and could not have
faced telling it. “Are you alright?” Faendal asked. “You look like a resident of
the Hall of the Dead.”
“Yeah, I…had a little too much to drink last night, just a little.” Faendal
chuckled. “I see, that explains a lot, why don’t you go back to mine and have
a nap.” Flushed with gratitude I stalked off to Faendal’s house and after briefly
throwing my clothes and weapons to the floor, fell into a long deep sleep.

Come to me bed!

Come to me bed!

When I awoke it was dark and the house was still empty. My head had stopped
pounding for the most part and I belted on a more comfortable tunic. Faendal
would doubtless be home soon and I didn’t fancy venturing outside again so I
decided to take him up on his previous offer and peruse his book collection.
Most of the books were predictable ‘Killing – Before You’re Killed’, ‘Ode to
the Tundrastriders’, ‘Pension of the Ancestor Moth’ (slightly unusual). But one
book stood out to me and, as I read it, I became more and more disturbed by its
frankly vile contents. The book was entitled ‘Scourge of the Gray Quarter’, a
book on the influx of Dunmer refugees into Windhelm and how they are a plague
on a once-proud city. I have heard of the troubles in Morrowind certainly and
was not surprised to hear that a great number have sought refuge in this fine
land but, to hear this elitist, superior author write about the “discontented
rabble” and to refer to “loyal Argonian servants” as “Fish-men” really boiled
my blood. Putting the book down I wondered what Faendal’s investment, if any,
was in the subject. Was he a refugee himself? Come to think of it, I know nothing
at all about his past, the few times he has spoken of Valenwood he did so with
sorrow.

Shortly after I finished reading that tripe Faendal returned. “You’re finally
up then,” he said. “I came back for a spot of lunch earlier and you appeared
as though you’d never awaken, how do you feel?”
“A lot better thank you,” I replied. “It was nice to sleep in a bed again.”
“Yes I’d wager it was, speaking of which, what happened to you out there?”
I sighed audibly and then told Faendal the whole story, the drunken revellers,
the fallen giant, the living giant, meeting the Jarl, Ysolda, I had so much to
tell that I spent the next hour or two relating the whole story.

Potato soup, a surprisingly effective hangover cure!

Potato soup, a surprisingly effective hangover cure

“My, my, what a couple of days you’ve had!” He seemed incredulous, not knowing
whether to laugh or to console. “After all that you could use a hearty meal,
one of my best hangover cures is potato soup.” With that he rose and began adding
ingredients to the cooking pot, chuckling to himself as he did so. “Ysolda eh,
I’ve met her a fair number of times, she seems pleasant. Very driven as well,
last we met she would not stop talking about how she was going to make it in
the mercantile business. I think she will you know, yes, you could have done
a lot worse than Ysolda.” His reference was good to have I suppose, but it could
not assuage the nagging doubts that clouded my mind. “Do you think I told her
too much? I don’t know what happened, one moment we were chatting amiably, the
next I was baring my soul right there in the Bannered Mare.”
“I won’t lie Adrian, it may have been a bit much for a first date, however, if
she can’t handle that then she is simply not worth it. She seems to like you
still, she did give you that kiss remember?” The smile on Faendal’s face could
not have been bigger, or more mischievous, it served to cheer me. “I suppose you are
right,” I said. “It’s just been so long since I last…you know, at least
in a serious way, my head is a little muddled to say the least.”

Faendal poured out two steaming bowls of potato soup and brought them to the
table with a loaf of bread, the aroma was mouth-watering, the soup itself warmed
my wearied body to the core. “You need a break!” Faendal said, slapping his
spoon down onto the table before it ever touched his mouth. “We should go on
a hunting trip, me and thee, Eastmarch to the south of Windhelm has some of the
best hunting in Tamriel!” If none other of his words had lifted my spirits, these
certainly did, I had heard vague reports of Eastmarch prior to my arrival in
Skyrim, all manner of dangerous and exotic beasts were said to roam its plains.
“I could not agree more,” I said, my enthusiasm seemed to show on my face as
Faendal sprang suddenly from his chair and set to rummaging through a large
wooden chest in the corner of the room. “I have a map here somewhere…ah, here
we are!” Pointing at the map he explained the route we would take, along with
a few other details of our upcoming jaunt. “First we will head north to Whiterun
Hold, following the White River east until we hit a fork, from there it is
off the road and into the wilderness we go! It will be dangerous, but you have
shown that you’re more than capable with a bow and I have a little experience in
the area, I even know of a few friendly hunting camps where we could perhaps
spend the night.”

A map to peace of mind...I hope

A map to peace of mind…I hope

Faendal could hardly disguise his excitement and, truthfully, I was in a similar
predicament. Needing to get some rest for the long day that is ahead, we bade
each other good night and got into bed. After the emotional stress of the past
couple of days I greatly anticpate getting back to basics, simply me, a kindred
spirit and nature at its finest. “This is going to be excellent,” Faendal said.
“I’ve been without a hunting partner for what seems like an age, poor Denegor,
he never saw that Horker coming…”