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.

28DCD: Days 2-4

I’ve been a touch busy the past few days so I’m going to have to post these character development posts in clumps no doubt. I have been deliberately vague on some of the points in this post as I tend to elaborate more in the actual story (when I finally get round to continuing it).

Parents

Adrian was born to Septimus and Mariana Caro in the town of Cheydinhal, Cyrodil. Septimus was born into a very humble family as the son of a market trader but, as his father oft boasted, he had an aptitude for swordplay and was utterly fearless in a fight. These attributes, along with his skills at diplomacy, saw him rise through the ranks of the town watch to become the youngest watch captain in over a century at the age of twenty. One of, if not the most respected man in Cheydinhal, Septimus managed the watch with a unshaking sense of justice, making absolutely no exceptions for friends like other captains had done before him. Under his command the crime rate in the town dropped to an all-time low and morale rose considerably, but he was not without his adversaries, particularly in high-up places. Septimus may have been one of the most honourable men in Cheydinhal but he was still of low birth, a fact that did not go in his favour in the eyes of Mariana’s father, a powerful, landed man, when they revealed their engagement.

Mariana was widely regarded as the most beautiful woman in Cheydinhal (the official line was second-most behind the Countess) and the daughter of a most powerful and wealthy man indeed. She was a gentle creature, who liked nothing more than to read tales of dashing heroes and fair maidens. Her life was largely uneventful until she met Septimus, she would spend most of her time, it seemed, being dressed for one party or another, being paraded in front of her father’s noble friends like an expensive ornament. Septimus fit the description of ‘dashing hero’ perfectly and marrying him meant a way out of the tedium of her former life, she now had time to do the things she wanted, mainly to read as for books she had a seemingly insatiable appetite.

Whereas Septimus’ parenting style echoed his style of command, highly-disciplined and regimented, Mariana was the ‘soft touch’ of the two, always on hand to console little Adrian after a beating in the practice yard. This fact did not grant her the right of favourite however, as a child Adrian worshipped his father and would stop at nothing to attempt to imitate him in every way. Mariana tried, with varying degrees of success, to educate her child but Adrian would take the yard over the class room any day of the week.

 

Marriage and Children

Adrian’s parents were happily married, barely having had a cross word between them and certainly not in front of him. Marriage therefore is a highly desirable proposition for him and something that, he hopes, will be his ultimate fate. He’s been wandering now for many years, never stopping in one place for too long, never having a lasting relationship and, though he has a terrible fear of loss, he would like nothing more than to find himself a good wife and settle down. Adrian certainly has issues, mainly with commitment, which is the main thing that is holding him back from maintaining last relationships with women. Thirty one is quite an old age for a bachelor in Tamriel, certainly in Cyrodil and a nagging fear that Adrian possesses is that he will run out of time and die on the road, unloved and alone.

Children are (and you’ll know this if you’ve read the story up to now) Adrian’s soft spot. Due to his grievous loss at such a young age he has an acute empathy with the suffering of children and would like nothing more than to take in all the orphans in Honourhall. The only thing stopping Adrian from adopting is that his lifestyle is not exactly ideal to bring up a child. Perhaps one day he’ll get all he wishes for and settle down with a family but, for now at least, that must remain a bittersweet dream for those long nights round the fire.

 

Adrian as Dragonborn

It’s strange doing this alternate universe dealio when you have to imagine your subject as a hero and not the other way around, I find it quite difficult to imagine Adrian as a legendary warrior but hopefully that just means I know him too well to. In terms of how he would handle suddenly discovering he is Dragonborn, I think he would absolutely despise the attention for starters. Once upon a time he had ambitions to become a noble warrior, reknowned for his courage and honour just like his father, but that was crushed upon that fateful night in 4E 180. When his father disappeared so did the young boy with a blunt training sword and fancies of chivalry and brave deeds, in his stead came a sullen, careless teenager and then a world-weary nomad. If the boy Adrian found he was Dragonborn he would be delighted, if the man found out he would reject it and all the fame and fortune that comes along with it.

 

 

 

28 Days…: Day 1 – General Bio

This is the first in a series of 28 daily (hopefully) posts, it’s simply a general bio of Adrian, along with a few tidbits thrown in for good measure. It really helped me to actually confirm some details of my character, his age and date of birth for example and I hope it allows you a further glimpse into Adrian’s life and character. There is a minor Day XI spoiler in the “friends/acquaintances” section at the bottom of the post, but I assume that, if you’re reading this, then you’ve read Day XI. If not, why not?! Again, if you have any questions about Adrian or character prompts, either comment below or email them to me at danny_clarke1@hotmail.com.

Full name: Adrian Caro
Race: Imperial
Date of Birth:  1st Sun’s Dawn 4E 170
Age: 31

City or town of birth: Cheydinhal.
Languages spoken:  Cyrodilic.
Job/work : Huntsman primarily, although he also does odd jobs to supplement.
Factions:  None as of yet, although he does consider himself a loyal subject of the Empire still.
Skills: Archery, tanning, fairly intelligent and well-spoken.

Current Residence:  Faendal’s House, Riverwood.

Height: 5’10”

Face: A fairly typical Imperial, not altogether displeasing to look upon, although a little rough round the edges, as one might expect of a man who’s live most of his life travelling. Could do with smiling a little more often.
Figure/build: Lean and strong.  

Eye color:  Brown.
Skin color: White.
Tattoos: None.

Scars:  Two on his left cheek, the smaller one from a particularly spirited session in the practice yard with his father and the larger I shan’t divulge just yet.
Piercings:  None, an nasty infection that occurred when he was younger and his childhood Redguard friend Sael offered to do it for free has entirely put him off the idea.
Preferred style of clothing: Plain furs that keep him warm when he’s out in the wilderness and a comfortable jacket and trousers for when he retires with a book by the fire. 

Personality: Warm and kind, he believes strongly in common decency and always tries to do what he thinks is right, even if it doesn’t always turn out that way. Despite his generally genial nature however, when a subject that he is passionate about is involved e.g. the Empire or Talos worship, he has been known to act somewhat rashly and ill-tempered, which most deem to be quite out-of-character for him. 

Likes:  Exploration (particularly of the countryside), Nord ale, reading, singing a good hunting song, cooking and last but certainly not least enjoying a tankard of ale in a Skyrim tavern and all the banter that comes with it.
Dislikes:  The Thalmor (of course), Emperor Titus Mede II, cunning and manipulativeness, excessive bureaucracy.
Fears/phobias: The Thalmor (of course), commitment, staying in one place for too long, horkers. 

Parents: Mariana and Septimus Caro, both presumed deceased. 

Sibling:  None.

Significant other/s:  At the present he is “seeing” Ysolda of Whiterun, although he hasn’t had the best of luck with women in the past and is determined to take this relationship slowly lest he be stung again.
Friends/Acquaintances:  His closest friend at present is Faendal of Riverwood, a natural friendship as they share the same interests and general outlook on life. Faendal is definitely the ‘nerd’ of the duo, if that is the best term. He has lived in comparative solitude for his entire life and therefore lacks Adrian’s social ability. An example of this is when they came across the Hot Springs Camp at Eastmarch, Adrian jumped straight in and got along well (a little too well perhaps) with its inhabitants, whereas Faendal was a lot more aloof, preferring to sit out and even managing to butt heads with someone within hours of meeting. They strike a good balance though and I can see them being fast friends for a long while yet.

28 Days of Character Development

Hello again! It’s been a little while since my last post, I’ve been struggling since then with much the same things as I’ve already posted about and don’t feel the need to go on about again. My next chapter is progressing slowly but steadily to completion and I hope to have it up in a week or less, but don’t quote me on that. In the meantime I’ve decided to join my fellow blogger Elspeth on a wee challenge.

Basically you, my most treasured reader, send me a character prompt i.e. a question about Adrian (his background, his motivations, hypotheticals even) and I will answer one a day for each day of February. Now I’m going to be doing the same prompts as Elspeth and vice versa so be sure to check out her most excellent blog if you aren’t already an avid reader (we share quite a few readers I believe) at this link that follows that is definitely a link even though this layout doesn’t highlight them in any way!

Elspeth Aurilie

This challenge will doubtless help to improve my blog as well as, hopefully, throw up some interesting tidbits about Adrian so do either comment or drop me an email if you’re shy ;] at danny_clarke1@hotmail.com.

This should be…interesting.

Edit: It seems that I shall be joined in this endeavour by two more fellow bloggers, Pyrelle: author of The Misadventures of Zander and Kit: author of An Orc’s Life. Both fantastic writers that I enjoy very much and I can’t wait to see the outcome!

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!!”

Exams, Assignments, blah, blah, blah…

I’m painfully aware that I’ve not posted in while, I’ve not posted a ‘Nomad’ in almost two weeks! This has been due largely to the fact that I am now back at university and this means two things, assignment deadlines and exams! I’ve not done as well thus far in my second year due to a few factors, which I don’t fancy getting into right now, suffice to say that none are good. I even contemplated quitting at several points and, if I could have got out of my rent contract on my student accommodation I might have done just that. I didn’t quit and now I’m determined to get my comparatively abysmal grades back to the level they were last year which, unfortunately for you guys, means less time to spend writing! I’m sure you’ll understand though, try not to be too down about it ;].

On the subject of the blog, I’ve made an unofficial decision, at least for now, to split my posts into 2. This helps readers with short attention spans and helps me stick to my weekly quota, so it’s win-win really! I’m about to post Day XIII pt.1, with part 2 hopefully following next week, although it is exam week so perhaps late weekend realistically. I’d also like to thank all those who commented on my last post, giving me some excellent feedback. Thanks a lot guys, it really helped.

Just thought I’d give y’all a quick update before I sink my head into some revision for next week.

Much love!

Adantur.

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 XII

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the award for most negligent mother goes to…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dead bear, angry dog

Dead bear, angry dog

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

Good night, deer friends. (My apologies)

Good night, deer friends. (My apologies)

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

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

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

Yeah....

Yeah….

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

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

Not the most welcoming of gates, darkly beautiful nonetheless.

Not the most welcoming of gates, darkly beautiful nonetheless.

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

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

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

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

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

My First Fan Art

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Nomad in Skyrim – Day XI pt.II

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

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

The image speaks for itself.

The image speaks for itself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Softly, softly, evadey, fortey

Softly, softly, evadey, fortey

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

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

I hope it was a human hunter that killed this thing

I hope it was a human hunter that killed this thing

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

A giant Skyrim jacuzzi, jackpot!

A giant Skyrim jacuzzi, jackpot!

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

How you doing?

How you doing?

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

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

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

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

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

I could lie here forever

I could lie here forever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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