A Nomad in Skyrim – Day XIII 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.

We walked hurriedly back to Candlehearth Hall, I had told Timothy to wait just
inside the front door the previous night and it was there that I hoped to again
find him. “Slow down!” Faendal said, I was walking faster than I thought, almost
breaking into a run in fact. “I’m sure he’ll still be there, he’s probably
begging scraps from the patrons right now.”
“Yeah,” I replied. “You’re probably right.”

Upon entering Candlehearth Hall however, Timothy was nowhere to be seen. “Oh
there you are,” Elda Early-Dawn said. “This isn’t a kennel you know, you can’t
just leave your mutt here for ME to look after!”
“Where is he?!” I urged.
“Outside, tied up.”

Just outside the door was a length of chewed rope, blowing in the wind. “He’s
not there,” I told her, trying my level best to keep my voice calm.
“Well,” she replied. “It’s not my problem, is it?” She prattled on but her
voice became distant all of a sudden, an indistinct murmuring under the
incredible noise that rose in my head. A haze fell over me, for a moment nothing
else existed but my rising anger and its object. My fists were clenched at my
sides and began to tremor uncontrollably. I said, in a soft voice that quivered
erratically. “You let him out.”

In return, silence.

“You let him out?!”

The murmuring returned, this time though it stuttered as though excuses and
justifications were being made. The time for excuses was past however, I would
have none of it.

“YOU LET HIM OUT?!!”

The next moments I can’t entirely recall, images of Elda recoiling in terror
and a stool breaking against the bar amongst the few that come to mind, ending
with me being restrained by a perplexed Faendal. “I…I’m sorry,” my head was
banging, as it oft did after an outburst. Faendal made our apologies and led me
out of the inn, the cool afternoon air completed the work of calming me down.
“What was THAT?” Faendal asked, gesturing furiously back at the inn. When I
didn’t answer he added. “You know what, never mind. You can tell me after we’ve
found the dog.”

We searched all over Windhelm, traipsing through the city streets for hours in
silence. Judging from his expression, Faendal’s mood transformed gradually from
anger to sympathy, whilst mine stayed mired firmly in guilt. Guilt for my outburst,
which had not happened in so long before then and guilt for leaving Timothy
behind in the first place. I’d only had him a day or so and already I had lost
him, perhaps I shouldn’t have named him so, perhaps that would have lessened
the impact of my neglect.

It was dark by the time we gave up the search, I leant on the bridge out of
Windhelm, gazing out at the vast wilderness. “He’s probably fine,” Faendal said.
“He survived without us before, he’ll do it again.” I didn’t reply, though I
knew it to be true. I was still thinking about what happened at the inn earlier.
“Come on, let’s go back.”

“Does it happen often?” Faendal asked as he set two tankards of mead down on
the table. We had returned to Candlehearth Hall, apologised profusely to a
rather dazed Elda Early-Dawn and somehow managed to avoid being thrown bodily
from the inn by her angry patrons. “Not for quite a long time,” I answered,
before taking a long draught of mead. “Have you any idea of how it began?”
I sighed, I knew this was coming and so, in the warm comfort of the inn, began
to tell him the same story I’ll tell you now, one that I’ve not told anyone for
years.

It began in the streets of Cheydinhal, about twenty four years ago. A travelling
market had come to town, a Khajiit caravan selling exotic spices and the like.
Back then they were allowed inside the city gates, it was not long after the
conclusion of the Great War and the signing of the hated White Gold Concordat
so we Imperials were feeling accepting of pretty much everyone but the Thalmor.
The Khajiit merchants took full advantage of this acceptance and came in droves,
bringing all sorts along with them; jugglers, bards, even freakshows. It was
here I met Sael, a Redguard orphan travelling with the caravan and, for the next
ten years or so, my dearest friend.

I caught him stealing from the general store, old Fagus never missed a trick
usually so he must have been well practiced. Being the son of the Captain of
the Watch I felt obligated to stop him, but he was a charismatic fellow and,
after regaling me with exciting tales of far-flung lands, I found myself instead
becoming enamoured with him. He was a scruffy lad, tall with wiry, muscular arms
and a real smooth-talker. Quite the opposite of me, in fact. We wrought havoc
at times but the townsfolk loved him, my family even took him in when the travelling
market he was tailing finally left town.

An event that occurred on my twelfth birthday epitomised my friendship with
Sael and foreshadowed darker events that were to come. For my twelfth birthday I
recieved a shiny new bow of yew. It was the first proper weapon my father ever
gave me, a slender thing, polished to a sheen and with the greatest range of
any bow I had ever used. I still remember Sael’s face when I opened it, embittered
and twisted with envy. We argued one day shortly after when I wouldn’t let him
use it and he snapped it in two in a jealous rage. His outburst was sudden and,
as soon as it was over, he began to cry and beg for my forgiveness. I shook with
anger, I wanted to strike him, to hurt him as he had hurt me….but I found I
could not.

~~~~~~~~~

“Right, that’s your lot now, clear out!” The bell rang throughout the Bloated
Float, it’s ringer, the innkeep Rugdumph, performed the nightly ritual referred
to by his patrons as ‘chucking-out time’. They shuffled out reluctantly,
a murmuring mass of dull browns and greys, to a man wondering, as they oft found
themselves doing at this hour, where to find their next sip of ale. When the
disapproving mass finally exited, Rugdumph locked the door tight, closed the
curtains, before turning to me and asking. “What’ll it be?”

It had been five long, eventful years and myself and Sael were a pair of seventeen
year olds living amidst the squalor and colour of the Imperial City’s Waterfront.
A pair of young, orphaned men, we survived from day to day, doing odd jobs, none
of them official and a few of them of somewhat loose legality.

“Another tankard of your finest home-brew please Rug,” I replied jovially, before
consulting the rather fetching looking young Breton girl on my lap and adding.
“And a drop of wine for the lady, if you please.” Rugdumph chuckled wryly to himself.
“What do you see in this layabout Elisa?!” A remark to which I took great exception.
Elisa simply looked at me and replied. “A rough and tainted beauty.”

“Quite the little romantic you have there!” Came an amused cry from the corner
of the room. “The passion and poetry of her Aldmeri blood seems a blinding
kaleidoscope of vibrancy when set alongside the dull, obdurate hues of a child
of empire such as yourself.” Sael had grown into a careless young man, with the
dulcet tones of a bard and the dark, exotic good looks that led him to find
himself more often than not in the bed of some impressionable young woman.

“Your flowery words may cause the knees of many a foolish and vacant young girl
to tremble in infatuation Redguard,” I answered, with a knowing smile
upon my face. “But we Imperials have a more noble way with words, with markedly
less flippancy and infinitely greater effect.” He laughed at that and strummed
a chord on his lute. “What do you think Ruggers? Are they a match weaved by the
graceful hands of Mara herself?” The Orc grunted in disapproval and said, quite
finally. “All I know is that words mean very little, when they are compared
to action and, if you don’t leave this poor girl-child alone, I’ll throw you
out of this inn myself!”

Laughter erupted from the few patrons left in the inn, partially at Rugdumph’s
rebuke and partially at Sael’s petulant reaction in the face of such a brutish
but effective put-down. “Sing us a song, Sael!” Cried Old Harry from the comfort
of his usual seat in the opposite corner. “I’ll sing you a song old man, but only
at the request of our most esteemed company.” The ‘esteemed company’ to which
Sael referred was none other than Regulus Vinicius, the captain of the city watch
and a regular after-hours patron of the Bloated Float, with a name so difficult
for some of the foreign patrons to wrap their tongues around that he was oft
simply referred to as Reg. “One of your Redguard numbers if you please, Sael.”
“My sir commands and I obey,” replied Sael, bowing so low his nose almost touched
the floor, much to our amusement at the time.

Sael began to sing, acapella at first, in the strange and curious tongue of his
forebears, Yoku. His voice was his one true gift in life and it still gives me
shivers when I think of it now, rich and enchanting as it was. The alien words
he sang only lent it more mystique, the gentle strumming of his lute served as
a touching accompaniment to the lament. It was when he sang, and only when he
sang, that his usual chaotic character was shed and the soul of an artist and
romantic shone through.

By the end of the song the inn was silent when, quite suddenly but not unexpectedly,
Sael broke into a rather bawdy, upbeat tavern favourite, The Orsimer’s Wife.
Within minutes the atmosphere was transformed, the drinks flowed, the noise
rose, it was simply another night at the Bloated Float, full of laughter and
song. Except this particular night concluded somewhat differently.

“Look what I managed to procure!” A rather drunk Sael exclaimed, pulling
from his pocket a small tattered purse and upending it on the table for all to
see. The purse was full of crystals; tiny, translucent crystals. I and everyone
else in the room knew immediately what they were.

“Skooma?!”

“Yeah! I’ve never tried it before but Deadeye Dick showed me how to do it,
you just smoke it in this pipe.” Sael said, producing a skooma pipe from his
bag. I must confess to being quite shocked at the time and I remember seeing
Reg cross the room, fully expecting him to clap Sael in irons. To my amazement
he did not, on the contrary he began to advise Sael on the optimum way to smoke
it. Sael took a long drag from the pipe, blowing a vast plume of smoke into the
air as he lay back on his chair. His whole body sagged as he returned the pipe
to his lips once again, his eyes flickered and he stared vacantly up at the
ceiling. “Don’t hog it!” Reg said, wresting the pipe from Sael’s unresisting
hand.

Soon everyone had joined in, forming a rough circular formation in the middle
of the inn, as the pipe was passed from patron to patron. The bawdy atmosphere
of the lock-in was transformed, the lively ale-fuelled banter replaced with
a smoky silence, interspersed with giggling and the odd mindless ramble. Even
Rugdumph took a drag or two, regaling the inn with a anecdote about the time
he first sampled the stuff and almost strangled a patron for “looking at him
funny.” Despite the apparent enjoyment of my fellows I was hesitant to try it,
I had heard bad things in the past about Skooma, mostly cautionary tales from
my mother and outright forbiddances from my father but, as soon as that pipe
touched against the crimson lips of Elisa I felt, in my youthful head, that I
had no choice in the matter.

It was a queer feeling, most abnormal. I remember feeling as light as a feather
and experiencing an uncontrollable urge to laugh until it hurt. In fact by this
point we were all laughing raucously, seemingly infecting one another until the
Bloated Float echoed with the cacophony of mindless laughter and it was a wonder
a guardsman didn’t hear and come to break up the party.

In the early hours of the morning, amid a haze of smoke, we sloped lazily from
the inn, with a heavily intoxicated Sael leaning against us. “I think he’s taken
quite a liking to Skooma,” said Elisa, chuckling and gesturing towards the now
almost completely inert Redguard. “Yes, it seems he has,” I laughed, but a small
undercurrent of concern laced my words and she picked up on it. “Don’t worry,”
she said. “It’s not addictive, well nothing I can’t handle anyway.”
“It’s not?”
“No! I have a blowout every now and then with a few friends but, the next day,
it’s back to normal.”
“You do?!”
“Ah Adrian,” she replied, patting me on the arm. “You still have a lot to learn about
the Imperial City.”

A series of changes to Sael’s condition over the following months gave lie to
Elisa’s words however. Initially he became somewhat withdrawn, no longer the
extroverted character he once was, his regular seat in the Bloated Float was
empty more often than not, as he was oft found wandering the streets instead.
A youthful exuberance was almost wholly replaced with a sullen exhaustion, I
often found him collapsed on a chair in the house, dead to the world. Most
alarming was his appearance, his skin became sallow and pockmarked, stretched
finely over a gaunt figure, once fit and strong. What began as a smoke every
now and then became a regular habit, increasing in regularity until its import
became greater than anything else life had to offer him. The issue came to a
head around six months later when, feeling helpless, I turned to someone more
experienced in such matters for help.

“I just don’t know what to do,” I told Elisa one evening in the pub. “I know
you said its easy to handle but I fear the worst when it comes to Sael, he’s
not been the same person for months now.”
“Are you sure you’re not over-reacting?” She replied. “Everyone in the waterfront
enjoys a smoke, it’s like bread and butter round here!”
“I’m not over-reacting!” I replied with increasing consternation. “There’s
enjoying a smoke and then there’s this, he’s never off the stuff, he just sits
in the house all day with vacant eyes amidst a haze of smoke. Try and get him to
do something and expect a torrent of abuse, he scarcely even eats these days!”
I still remember the look she gave me, scepticism mixed with mild amusement
and it still roils the blood, particularly knowing what I know now.
“Ok I’ll talk to him, where is he?”
“Where do you think?!”
She smiled wryly and, after a gentle kiss on the lips said. “Try not to worry
so Adrian.”

Her words, I supposed by the warmth of tone and playful smile, were designed
to sooth my frantic nerves. Contrarily they only provoked a surge of anger,
how could she be so flippant at a time like this?! I reckoned, being a city
girl, she had seen far worse but still…

What seemed like an age later, the dregs of my beer having been stirred listlessly
innumerable times, I woke from what seemed like a trance, emerging from a dark
pool of worry into the constrast of the heaving bar room. ‘Where is she?’
I puzzled, I did not recall her saying she would return but assumed she would
anyway. Like a phantom I rose and left, passing through the crowd in utter
ignorance to their concerned remarks and cold to their comforting hands. I
remember very little of the trip home that night but, when I eventually opened
the front door, I was frozen to the bone having glided through the dead city
streets for hours, delaying the return to those vacant eyes.

The house was littered with the usual illicit debris but something different
accompanied it this evening. The perfectly still body of a beautiful young
woman.

Elisa was dead.

The dull haze of my mind parted, slowly at first and then ever quicker, to be
replaced with a wall of deepest red. My breathing quickened, my heart threatening
to explode from my chest. A curious sound emerged from the other room, whimpering
followed by the opening of a door. Before I knew it I was outside, being pulled
inexorably toward the object of my rage.

The water of the bay shimmered in the moonlight, complete silence broken only
by the pathetic cries of a broken creature. I looked down, my sword had been
drawn and was quivering in my hand. More whimpering followed, excuses,
pleas, insane rambling. My wild rage piqued and I swung the sword high in the
air….but hesitated and, with one last glance from those once piercing eyes,
he fell with a splash into the shimmering waters.

A Nomad in Skyrim – Day XIII 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 didn’t want to rise from bed this morning, my room was still warm, the blankets
thick and soft. Looking around my room in Candlehearth Hall, I could not help
but think of my stay in The Sleeping Giant back in Riverwood. There was simply
no comparison, I even had a curiously placed bongo drum by my bedside, presumably
for the event that I should wish to have an impromptu midnight drumming session.

Delphine could learn a lot from this place!

Delphine could learn a lot from this place!

I eventually rose from the comfort of my bed and strapped on my armour, weapons
and bag and sloped contently to the bar to order a spot of breakfast. Wishing
the landlady Elda Early-Dawn a good morning, I ordered a wheel of goat’s cheese
to go with a cooked venison chop I had in my bag and gave her five septims to
fill up my water bottles. My pleasant breakfast was spoiled however, when I heard a
stool pull up to the bar and turned to find the racist warrior Rolff sitting
next to me. Up close and in the light of day, Rolff was a mean-looking figure.
Two large scars ran across his left cheek, artifacts doubtless of his days as
a fierce warrior. He looked a lot bigger up close too, with the broad shoulders
typical of a Nord, he practically took up all of the bar when he sat beside me.
I turned away, not wanting to utter another word in that man’s presence, I bolted
down my food in an effort to get away before he noticed me but, just as I polished
off the last of my chop, he said. “You’re that Imperial from last night, at the
gates. Where’s your Bosmer friend Imperial? Gone off to hug an Argonian dock
worker?!” I took a deep breath and replied, without turning to face him.

A Breakfast Ruined

A Breakfast Ruined

“Fuck off.”

I found Faendal in common room, clutching a tankard of mead, deep in thought.
“What’s the plan then?” I asked, taking a seat next to him in front of the fire.
“I plan on petitioning Jarl Ulfric,” he replied. “On compiling a case of evidence;
documents, cases that were motivated by prejudice, interviews with both the
afflicted and any Nord supporters I can find, if any. This issue has been ignored
by Ulfric for far too long and I won’t leave this city until I’ve had my septim’s
worth.” He spoke resolutely, his mind apparently wholly made up, but he then
added, in a low voice. “You don’t have to stay you know, I appreciate the gesture,
but you may want to get home, to Ysolda.”

“I’m staying.” I replied, my mind also made up completely. Faendal brightened
considerably at those words. “Right then! I have few solid plans yet but I thought
our first stop would be Sadri’s Used Wares, a pawn shop in the Gray Quarter. I
have read disturbing accounts of mass boycotts and weightless accusations from
the Nord population against its owner and I’d very much like to hear his side
of the story.”
“A good place to start then, shall we go?”

First Signs of Neglect

First Signs of Neglect

The weather was surprisingly clement, the sky not quite azure but, for Windhelm
it might as well have been. Our first glimpse of the Gray Quarter soon followed,
ramshackle wooden roofs poking out over the fine grey stone of Windhelm’s walls.
Before we could enter however, a small voice caught my attention. “Excuse me
sir, would you like to buy a flower?” The voiced belonged to a little girl, cute
but unkempt, she appeared as though she hadn’t bathed in a while and her
countenance betrayed the deepest of sorrows. “I’ll take one,” I replied, giving
her a septim and receiving a bright mountain flower in exchange.

A Girl in Need

A Girl in Need

“Who are you child, where are your parents?” Faendal asked, his voice gentler
than usual. “Sophia’s my name, my parents…my parents are dead. My mama died
when I was little…I don’t remember her very well. My father was a Stormcloak
soldier, one day he left and didn’t come back.” Her story, coupled with her
sorrowful expression, almost moved me to tears. Judging from Faendal’s expression
he felt the same. “We’ll take the lot.” I said, pulling my coin purse from my
bag and dumping a large portion of the coins into her hand. Her face lit up at
the sight, doubtless the poor child had never seen that much gold in her life.
“Are…are you sure sir? This is an awful lot of money!”
“I’m sure,” I replied, smiling at her immense surprise and glee. “Now give me
my flowers, before I change my mind.”

She thanked us profusely then skipped away towards the docks, Faendal smiled.
“That was a nice gesture, I’m not even sure those flowers are worth a septim.”
“Do you think she’ll be alright?” I asked. “Are there any places for homeless
children to go in Skyrim?”
“I believe there is an orphanage in Riften, though I can’t recall the name,” he
replied. “Doubtless Sophia sleeps in a docked ship in the harbour, she’ll be
alright I think. Homeless children tend to be most resourceful.”

I had my doubts still but I supposed nothing could be done at the present and
we moved on into the Gray Quarter. Walking through the Gray Quarter was an
experience nothing like which I have had before, a queer odour pervaded the air
in the narrow, claustrophobic street, only adding to an atmosphere already
thick with tension. It was much darker here also, the tall, closely packed
buildings, built of stone like the rest of Windhelm but with dirty wood panel
additions, loomed over, the only sunlight coming from a gap directly
above our heads. As expected the street was populated mostly by Dunmer, the
few Nords that passed through did so hurriedly, not wanting to spend more time
than was necessary in the slums of their ancient city.

It's like medieval Dickens or something.

It’s like medieval Dickens or something.

Sadri’s Used Wares didn’t appear any more pleasant, the shop was dark and its
wares seemed mean, when compared to the mercantiles of Whiterun and Riverwood.
The proprietor’s countenance matched his property’s and he muttered a greeting
as we entered. Faendal took the lead, introducing the pair of us and asking
him how business was before moving onto the matter at hand.

“I wondered if I could ask you a few questions,” Faendal said as he withdrew
a bit of parchment and a quill from his bag. “What sort of questions?” Sadri
shifted nervously. “I mean to petition Jarl Ulfric to tighten the laws surrounding
the racial prejudice against the Dunmer and Argonian minorities in Windhelm and
to come down harder and those who break said laws.”
“TIGHTEN the laws?!” Sadri scoffed. “How about introducing some first!” That he
appeared to be sceptical about Faendal’s plan might be understating it slightly.
“Good luck with THAT, Ulfric doesn’t care about us, he has bigger fish to fry
right now, his precious civil war for example! Not to mention the difficulties
you’ll have persuading people to help you in your ‘quest’, what with bastards
like Rolff Stone-fist running around. No, I’m afraid the prejudice is simply
too deep-rooted for anything to be done about it.”

"Faendal's doing the talking, does that mean I'm the muscle?"

Faendal’s doing the talking, does that mean I’m the muscle?

“That may be so, but I’m still going to try and it would help me a great deal
if you would answer a few questions.” Faendal appeared to be unfazed by Sadri’s
little rant, he stood calmly, quill in hand while Sadri pondered his request.
“I’ll answer your questions,” he said eventually, much to Faendal’s relief.
“But I need assurances, I can’t have word of me helping you finding its way to
hate-mongerers all over Windhelm, my shop would be ransacked or worse. I need
complete anonymity, that is my condition.” His addendum was resolute, much to
Faendal’s chagrin. “Your name carries a lot of weight amongst the Dunmer population,”
he said. “If your kinsmen knew that you supported my cause, they would join
without question.”
“Be that as it may,” Sadri replied. “I can not risk my business, not for you,
not for anything.”

Faendal conceded and, with that settled, went on to ask Sadri a number of questions
regarding the running of his business. “It goes without saying that the Nords
won’t touch my wares,” Sadri said. “Which would be fine if I was left alone to
carry out my business with others but I am not. My shop once was exceedingly
popular amongst adventurers, every one that passed through this city did not
leave before examining my wares. I had enchanted swords brought back from ancient
ruins, precious jems from deep in distant mines, anything an adventurer would
ever need. Now look!” He gestured somewhat angrily at his almost bare shelves.
“Those NORDS have dragged my name through the mud, every adventurer that passes
through here, that stays at that cursed Candlehearth Hall gets to hear all about
me and my ‘dodgy dealings’. They’ve even outright accused me of selling stolen
goods you know, said it was typical of a Gray-Skin.”

Faendal was frantically trying to get all this done on parchment, Sadri was
speaking rather animatedly now, making it difficult for him to keep up. “Do
you have any names?” he asked. “Do you know who in particular is responsible
for these false accusations?”
“No, unfortunately not,” Sadri replied.
“Well, perhaps I can find out myself, you’re certain the accusations stem from
Candlehearth Hall?”
“I’m certain of that, just not of who, although that Elda Early-Dawn has always
struck me as…” Faendal cut across him mid-sentence.
“Let’s not throw counter-accusations around just yet, I’ll look into the matter
and let you know if I find anything of interest.”

With that the interview was over, Faendal seemed satisfied with his work thus
far, Sadri seemed unsettled and bristled still from his earlier rant. “I wish
you luck on your mission,” he said. We thanked him and, as we made to leave, he
added. “You’re going to need it.”

We had been in there quite a while, it was mid-afternoon when we exited to the
glare of the sun. Faendal flicked through his notes, brow furrowed in concentration.
“Well, it’s a start,” he sighed. “I just wish he’d have changed his mind about
remaining anonymous, this whole thing is about drumming up support. I seriously
doubt the Jarl will take me seriously if I turn up to the Palace of the Kings
with a list of anonymous quotes.” He was right of course but I daren’t agree
with him, lest his morale drop any lower. “Come on,” I said, patting him on the
back in an attempt at reassurance. “Let’s go and get some lunch, I’m starved.”

We began to walk slowly back through the cramped streets of the Gray Quarter
when a sudden thought occurred to me. “Faendal, do you feel as though we are
forgetting something?” We both stood still for a moment, trying to puzzle out
what exactly we felt we had forgotten. When it came to us we cried, in unison.

“Timothy!!”

A New Year, A New Start etc…

2012 hasn’t been a particularly eventful year in my life, I finished my first year of university with a high grade but apart from that, not much has happened. For this blog however, 2012 has practically been the making of it. I published my first post on the 31st October 2011, a short piece of my mind on AI you can read here, if you’re curious. This blog didn’t truly kick off until the 13th August though, the day of the first ever ‘A Nomad in Skyrim’ post. Before that date I had 225 views, since then I’ve had 1526!! I’ve already waxed lyrical about my inspirations and motivations in my “One Thousand and Counting” post. This post, on the other hand, is all about improvement which is why I would very much like your help.

I’m having a lot of fun writing about what Adrian gets up to in Skyrim and, I believe at least, that the quality of the posts have improved by and large since the stories inception. There are a couple of things that I’d like to seek a reader’s opinion on however, such as…

  • The posts have increased considerably in length, Day I was under 1000 words while Day XII was 3000! Is this a good thing, in terms of readability and story?
  • What do you think of the writing style in general?
  • Are there any possible improvements you would suggest to either the format of the blog or the content itself?

Even if you’ve only dropped in and read one or two posts, feel free to leave a comment, don’t be too nasty though or I may cry (inside).

Besides all that, I’d like to wish everyone a happy new year and a rich and bountiful 2013!

Adantur out.

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…

 

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!

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…”

One Thousand and Counting

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

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

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

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

Adantur out.

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

A Nomad in Skyrim – Day IX pt.II

These pages are extracts from the diary of Adrian Caro, a nomadic Imperial who recently crossed the border into the harsh but beautiful province of Skyrim.

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

“Now then, now then”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The heating bill for this place must be astronomical!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She looked even better by candlelight

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

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

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

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

Hey, twins! …I’m not drunk

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

I’ll just…rest here a little while

A Nomad in Skyrim – Day IX pt.I

These pages are extracts from the diary of Adrian Caro, a nomadic Imperial who recently crossed the border into the harsh but beautiful province of Skyrim.

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

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

Should I wash?!

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

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

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

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

Dinner is served!

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

Oh what big antlers you have.

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

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

Here goes….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Nomad in Skyrim – Day VIII

These pages are extracts from the diary of Adrian Caro, a nomadic Imperial who recently crossed the border into the harsh but beautiful province of Skyrim.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It becomes more magnificent each time I see it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No way!

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

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

It’s been an eventful day, perhaps too eventful

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