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…

 

21 comments on “A Nomad in Skyrim – Day XI pt.II

  1. Pyrelle says:

    Great chapter. I can never really find that hot spring unless I am being chased by something. The one time I did manage to find it I was surprised to see a pair of the prettiest women in game there and leave it to Bethesda to make them unable to get married…or move for that matter. Love the back story you gave Mariah and not to mention the added inner conflict he now has because of her hehe.

  2. This is an EXCELLENT chapter. I love the budding bromance between Adrian and Faendal. I especially liked the post-one-hotspring-stand conversation.

    “What about her?” he replied. “You’ve been out for one drink, you aren’t married!”

    Indeed.

    I have to confess, I wasn’t sure exactly what happened until I’d read it a couple of times. I thought there was something wrong with my browser because my work computer makes your formatting look strange and some text had been cut. Then I read it again on my laptop and the text was still missing. Then I realized that you were doing that fade-to-black approach to sex.

    They did have sex, right?

    Well, whatever they did I love that it happened with the argument in the background. And I agree with Pyrelle, her backstory was a very nice touch. I hope you have more interactions like that.

    I loved their conversation about dreams. That was sweet and it worked really well–it reminded me of those moments of intense connection you occasionally occasionally strike with people in very short periods of time.

    “Do you have a dream Adrian?” she asked.
    “I have dreams, all the time.”

    Shit like this makes me think Elspeth would crush so hard on Adrian. If he shows up in my headcanon, I’m going to have to be careful where I put him.

    I should take Elspeth to the hot springs. She’d love it.

  3. adantur says:

    “They did have sex, right? ” You know I’m not entirely sure of that myself, maybe Adrian had second thoughts in the end. I don’t know whether to be chuffed or scared for him now that he seems to be crush material for the Dragonborn, sounds like a recipe for adventure to me.

    I must admit I have been thinking recently of ways I could perhaps work Elspeth into the story, whether that be a minor reference by a character or an actual appearance, now that I’ve included Pyrelle it only seems right.

    I was quite pleased with this chapter when I conceived of it after coming across the springs and I thought you’d like it too so I’m glad you did and that I got an extra-long comment =] Thanks for the feedback as usual, it’s much appreciated.

    • How old-ish is Adrian? I think it would not be the I-want-to-have-all-the-sex-with-you sort of the crush, but the I-secretly-love-when-he-smiles-at-me type of crush.

      That’s not to say, in a world without Onmund, that she wouldn’t sleep with him. I bet she would.

      • adantur says:

        According to my calculations he’s early 30s. I really ought to start writing these things down.

        It seems to be that he’s not the sort of man that immediately stands out, he isn’t incredibly good-looking, he doesn’t wear the shiniest armour or have the biggest biceps (Hod springs to mind ;]). But I think Mariah hit on it with that ‘lone wanderer’ remark, he does seem to have a quiet, understated charm. Just my opinion anyway.

  4. “a quiet, understated charm”

    Yeah, I think she likes that.

    One of my readers thought Onspeth was “interesting” because he’s used to seeing ” the dovakhiin shipped to the more prominent characters, such as Farkas, Vilkas, and Brynjolf.”

    I just can’t see Elspeth with any of those guys.

    • adantur says:

      Me neither and not just because Farkas might snap her in half. All this compatability talk has conjured images in my head of some sort of Skyrim dating agency, sounds like a lucrative niche to me haha.

      • I can’t think of anyone in the Companions who is her type. In the Thieves Guild, it would be Rune. You know, before she broke his face.

        “some sort of Skyrim dating agency”

        Well according to Maramal, people in Skyrim respond to deeds. So, basically you’d be coming up with quests on which to send people. For other people.

      • adantur says:

        I’ve not yet done the thieve’s guild quest line as I’m yet to make a stealthy character so I still haven’t met Rune yet.

        People are so self-serving (not sure if its the word I’m looking for) in Skyrim, it’s basically ‘you do something for me and I’ll marry you’. I suppose it’d be a bit too like “The Sims” if you were to go on a date and such but perhaps a conversation tree a la Mass Effect would serve nicely?

        I tell you who’s dating video I’d love to see, J’zargo!!

      • “I tell you who’s dating video I’d love to see, J’zargo!!”

        Yeah, courtship in Skyrim could be a little more involved. My husband loved the courtship/marriage thing in Fable, where you could have protected and unprotected sex. He was all excited about his Fable wife and baby. He only got married in Skyrim after he built all those estates in Hearthfire.

        “I tell you who’s dating video I’d love to see, J’zargo!!”

        That would be hilarious. I wonder how J’zargo will react to Lydia now that she no longer has a boyfriend.

      • adantur says:

        Oooo you have me all excited to see that now, best get to work getting them back to the college! I downloaded Hearthfire t’other week with Dawnguard but I’m waiting for Adrian to settle down before trying it. It’s so hard not to but I think it will be worth it when he finally does.

      • Vahkiin says:

        J’zargo quotes def. just went through my head and I managed to make every single one of them filthy, as I picture him hanging out in front of a tacky back drop and trying to find love.

        I’ve still got a dancing Marc and Vilkas in my head (Thanks to Elspeth). This may be the most ridiculous Tuesday of my life. haha

      • adantur says:

        I’ve not even had the pleasure of meeting J’zargo in-game and he still seems hilarious thanks to Elspeth. I may have to go check him out myself one day soon. Someone with a penchant for comedy/romance should definitely do something with this skyrim dating idea, it would be a riot!

  5. Vahkiin says:

    I seriously thought I was the only one that hid from that gods damn Necromancer! My question is, why does he just hang out in the road all ominous like? If he wants to like, kidnap people for sadistic experiments, shouldn’t he hide? I know when I was all defenseless civilian and saw a black robed man all in attack pose, I ran.

    I love the hot spring hunters. They just lay in the water for an obscene amount of time, in the direct sunlight and never prune or burn..or hunt.

    • adantur says:

      Haha you have cowardly company now friend! The lads were already burnt out from their previous encounters that day and didn’t fancy another dice with death. I might have to check the fort out with Gunnar, my warrior, though. Necromancy may scare the bejesus out of Adrian but I find it fascinating in the Elder Scrolls.

      To be fair to the hunters I’d find it difficult to get any work done if I found a giant jacuzzi in the middle of Skyrim, sounds like paradise to me.

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