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.

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!!”

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.

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.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.

A Nomad in Skyrim – Day VII

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 the most uncomfortable nights sleep since napping on the carriage into
Skyrim I arose early in the morning. My back was sore from the hard, largely
unconcealed wooden frame of the bed. At these prices I would have thought Delphine
might have made the beds a deal more comfortable, as the pitiful animal skin
and scant straw mattress displayed, I thought wrong. It was certainly not Alvor’s
but for now at least it must do and considering I was seconds from going without
a head a week or so ago, I can’t complain. I sat down to break my fast with
just Orgnar and Delphine for company, Orgnar being his usual grumpy self and
Delphine standing around sweeping her favourite spot on the floor. Breakfast
was a short affair, bread and carrots, the banter wasn’t exactly great either
but then Orgnar doesn’t seem like the morning type…or afternoon, or evening
for that matter.

This is what living with Delphine and listening to Sven on repeat for 12 hours a day does to you.

After getting my water bottles filled and parting with five septims I was ready
to go. I decided that morning to first go hunting and then speak to Faendal,
perhaps I could even fit in a short shift of wood chopping after that. It was
a crisp morning, it had been raining for a large portion of the night so I
could almost taste the moisture in the air. Embry, the town drunk/general oddball,
was already strolling up to the inn for his daily ale or ten. He greeted me
with the rather inaccurate. “My favourite drinking buddy, let’s get some mead!”
I declined his offer as it was a tad early for mead, I suppose all the time is
a good time for mead when you’re Embry however. The drunkard didn’t seem fazed
by my refusal and staggered into the pub anyway, he seems to be in a constant
state of intoxication and, despite his often loud and brash demeanour, appears
to be a sad man indeed. I wonder just what can drive a man to drink away every
hour of every day and practically live in his local inn, it truly is a tragic
waste.

I passed through the entrance to the village and out onto the road around mid-morning.
All seemed very still, even the river flowed more gently than usual. A low mist
hung around the river bank, shrouding the mountain, giving it a most mysterious
visage. The haunting image of Bleak Falls Barrow appeared as I rounded the bend
in the road, half shrouded in mist it was even eerier, I shivered slightly just
imagining ever having to set foot in that place. I was nearing the crossroads
when I decided to cross the river and head further down it on the opposite side,
obviously steering well clear of the bandit’s nest I previously stumbled upon.
I plunged into the cold water and out the other side as quickly as I could
manage.

What unimaginable horrors lie in wait behind those walls of mist and stone?

Thus far on my hunting trip I had yet to see hide or hair of any game whatsoever.
I decided that I might be scaring them away and so bent my knees into a sneaking
position. Sure enough, as I rounded the bend of the river slowly but silently,
a rustling noise sounded to the right. I stopped dead in my tracks, focusing my
vision on the source if the sound, a patch of long grass halfway up the slope.
I drew an arrow carefully from my quiver, placing my bow string between the
grooves in the nock. I took deep breaths as the movement in the grass subsided
momentarily, I took aim just above the suspect patch and waited.

As quick as lightning a blur shot out of the grass and up the hill, I loosed my
arrow a second too late and it thudded into the soil just above the rabbit’s
hiding place. My reactions did not let me down again and I sprang off on my toes
and gave chase to the animal, drawing the arrow that would bring home my supper.
It was a quick creature and agile too, strafing here and there up the hillside,
not allowing me to get a decent shot at it. The pursuit was long and after a while
I was short of breath and my legs began to ache, but I would not give in! As luck
would have it I fell back far enough so that my prey was confused and stopped
for a second, doubtless believing I had indeed given up on my quarry. I needed
no second invitation and in one fluid motion drew back the string and released,
watching my arrow sail truly to its target.

A slight come-down after my debut kill in Skyrim but food is food!

It was hardly a prize kill, but I do like a good rabbit leg and it would serve
as supper tonight. It seems like a long time since I had a workout quite as
intense as that chase, when in reality it really has only been a matter of weeks.
Somewhat satisfied with my kill I proceeded to skin the animal and pack away
the meat, looking around I saw that I was much farther up the river than I had
gone previously. I was stood on the bank of a large lake into which the river
flowed. It was a mystical sight in the afternoon fog, the imposing forestry on
either side bookended the dark misty mountains in the distance. I could not see
the other end of the lake so could not judge its size, but it was getting late and
I did not wish to get lost in a strange country after what happened previously
so I turned back the way I came.

One of the most hauntingly beautiful pictures I’ve took in Skyrim, it’s such a splendid landscape

Not long after I saw smoke rising from across a narrow stretch of the river,
after moving closer I perceived that it was in fact a hunter’s camp, judging
from the bow on the camper’s back and the animal skins hanging on racks.
I was tired from my own hunting and would have welcomed company so I approached
the camp. The hunter did not seem hostile, she invited me to sit down and I
accepted gladly. She was a fearsome looking woman, a Dunmer with a stern
countenance and a lean but strong looking physique. She did not tell me her
name and was largely guarded in manner, the dagger at her waist spoke volumes
even if she did not. It was a relief simply to sit and have a drink in company
though and we talked a little of the hunting around Riverwood. I told her of
the bandits abroad and she replied with a heavy sigh and a knowing shake of
the head. “There are many and more where they came from, two bandit camps about
the crossroads near Helgen alone last I counted.” She said, she drew her dagger
and set to honing her bow. “The Jarl will do nothing while there’s war brewing
and I can’t exactly beseech him to help considering my position, but they’re
a nuisance alright, that’s for certain.” Sat honing her weapon, clad in well
worn leather armour, she looked like she could certainly handle herself.

I feel for the man who tries to tame this one!

After an hour or so of rest I took my leave of both the hunter and the majestic
view of the lake. I could have sat there all day and still not have tired of
it, such is the natural wonder that is Skyrim. I bade my unnamed acquaintance
farewell and headed back to town, hoping perhaps to bag another kill on my way.
Luck was not with me today however and, aside from glimpsing another rabbit in
the far-off undergrowth, I saw nothing. As I arrived back to town I happened,
by chance, upon Faendal. He appeared to be walking home after a days work at
the sawmill. I jogged to catch up with him, wanting to explain what had happened
yesterday with Camilla and Sven.

He seemed pleased to see me and told me he had already heard from Camilla herself
earlier today, I could not help but feel a little irked but was glad we were
still on good terms. We talked a little about the whole business, how ridiculous
it was, I asked him if he would make a move now Sven was seemingly out of the way
but he simply sighed and said he was better off out of it. The conversation
moved on to brighter subjects and, before I knew it, we had arrived at his front
door. “I truly am grateful for all you have done for me Adrian,” he said.
“I heard about your living arrangements and I insist you stay at my house for
a while.” I was a little taken aback by his offer, we got along rather finely
and I suppose I had done him a good service but I hardly knew him all the same.
As I stuttered on what to reply he broke in. “I won’t take no for an answer,
no one should have to endure Delphine’s excuse for a guest bed!”

I peeked into the house, it looked a lot more inviting than The Sleeping Giant’s
guest room certainly, I decided to accept his very generous invitation. Faendals
house is small but cosy, a large hearth in the middle of the room casts light
and warmth throughout. He has a small collection of books that I have his
permission to read, something I most certainly will do. That night we sat for a
dinner of rabbit and I told him everything that had happened to me since I set
foot in Skyrim. He was shocked initially but, given the current political climate
my story was probably not entirely unique.

For someone who rarely hunts these days Faendal sure has a lot of corpses lining his walls!

I feel incredibly fortunate to have found such a good fellow as Faendal, the people
of Riverwood in general thus far seem to be some of the kindest people I have yet
to meet. I can only hope that the rest of Skyrim is the same, I suppose I shall
soon see for myself first hand, Riverwood has been very hospitable but my itch
for travelling is beginning to bother me and it shall soon need scratching.

It’s not much but, for the time being, it’s home.