The rest of my day starts halfway up a mountain. It looks like it’s coming up to noon, so I’d best get walking if I’m going to find shelter. Heading downhill, I make a start along a dirt path that meanders to the right. This is not the way I want to be going, so when it fails to turn back after a few minutes, I step off the path. Behind some trees I come to some kind of camp. As I can’t see anyone, I approach with care. Could be hunters, could be bandits.
It would be quite stupid for bandits to be camped so close to a road, but then historically, the business strategy of the average bandit has been to don extremely rare and expensive armour and charge directly at world-famous warriors who can kill a troll with their thoughts, hoping to profit by this somehow. I’m probably expecting too much from them.
A loud noise startles me and I run away, like a big scaredo wuss. Or like a completely unskilled, unarmoured nobody with no supplies and no idea what she’s walking into. Either way, nobody gives chase, possibly because they’re too busy laughing. Maybe I should circle around this camp.
Up on the left is a steep rocky incline, but it looks like I could climb around that way and bypass the camp without difficulty. As a bonus, I’ll be able to scope out the terrain properly from up there, too. Up I go.
Oh my. That’s… that’s some view.
They weren’t kidding when they called it rough terrain. No settlements in view, but the stone road is promising. The temple in the distance there looks a little suspicious to me, and that looks like a freshwater lake. “Road plus water” sounds like a much better site for a town than “mountain plus snow”, right? Plus there ought to be more wildlife down there, which means lunch. If I can catch up with it.
This really is a pretty lake. Always did like water, me. I ought to go for a swim, once I can be sure I won’t freeze to death or be eaten by a water grue. It may be cold, but I’m already enjoying this place. Butterflies are flitting about, the water’s rushing pleasantly by, a bird’s nest is sat among the rocks. A fox startles me by dashing across the road, wheezing heavily. A pack of wolves is lurki… oh, hell.
Wolves up ahead. They haven’t seen me, but they look pretty mean.
Now, it so happens that my ah… alternative career choice in Hammerfell granted me a little skill in not being seen by things that want to eat me. Now seems like a good choice to prove this, so I crouch down and try to circle around, using the woods to the left to conceal myself. To my credit, it works – the wolves on the road get wind of me and come to investigate, but this helps me out as they go in the wrong direction, allowing me to push further ahead.
The fact that while doing this, I blunder directly into another pack of wolves hiding in the woods is irrelevant, frankly. Yes, okay, I got attacked by wolves while trying to avoid wolves. But they’re different wolves, so it’s okay. I have taken control of my destiny, and directly influenced precisely which group of wolves within a given area will kill me. That’s not nothing; that is something.
Stab! Slash! Parry! Thrust! Although quite how one parries a set of canine jaws is beyond me, but parry! Thrust!
Ouch. The wolves go down, and I live through the ambush, but they’ve taken quite a few chunks out of me. Really need some armour. And hey, dead wolves mean wolf pelts! I set to skinning them and rest for a short while, catching my breath, and spontaneously regenerating the flesh that the wolves tore off my body. Apparently this is the done thing now. Huh.
(An aside: – Skyrim features regenerating health, along with magicka and stamina. This is sure to cause some outcry, but I can see the case for adding it to the series. The alternative, as used by Oblivion and Morrowind, was to have everyone inevitably become an expert healer, because constantly spamming healing spells was the only other way to patch up after a fight, and going back to town every time a rat gnawed on your toe would get old fast. Plus I can hardly complain, as without it, Ymelda would surely be dead by nightfall.)
Moving on, I get back to the path. The original wolves are sniffing about back where I came from, some bones are lying on the floor, and there’s a tiny island in the lake with a boat and column of smoke. I wonder who’s there.
Might be someone I can trade with. It would certainly be dumb for a bandit to hide out in plain sight like that. But I don’t have much to sell, and again, it looks way too cold to start swimming out here on the off-chance that some stranger will bequeath me his island, even if I give him all my flowers.
Oh, I’ve been picking some wild flowers as I go along, by the way. I’m no alchemist (my measly 12 points in Alchemy mean I know not to drink stuff I find under the sink), but I can recognise some obvious flower types, and most alchemists will buy anything, even in stab-happy, magic-skeptic Skyrim. A handful of coins would be welcome right now.
While I’m contemplating this, a bloody great bandit with a battleaxe comes charging round from behind a rock. Legs, don’t fail me now!
Synopsis for the youtube-averse: Rather than commit suicide by fighting Battleaxe and Friend with a rusty knife, I charge into the water and pause on the island, hoping to find that it’s the hermitage of a great kung-fu master. It is not. The innocent fisherman who actually lives there stands up to greet me, then runs to defend his home from the hulking great villains who’ve chased me there. So I er, I dive into the water and leave him to it. Good luck, fish guy! I’ll drop in when you’re not so busy, okay!
He’ll be fine. Fishermen are hardy, right?
Moving swiftly on, I meet a hunter further down the road. Practically naked and sitting astride an enormous horse, he’s a surprisingly friendly sort. Considering my speech skill is comparable to that of a narwhal, his willingness to pay 9 coins for my wolf pelts is remarkable. Sadly I can’t interest him in some mangled wildflower petals that have been crammed into my knickers all morning. Well lah-de-dah. Excuse me, Princess.
Loch Ness stag! Aiieeee! Ho there Nessie! Faur ye headed? Will ye no come back again? Ah’ll no stab ye much.
So much for lunch.
Loch Ness skeleton! AIIEEEE! The closer he gets, the less convincinng my pitiful sword looks, so when he gets within stabbing distance, I get a sudden brainwave.
SAVE ME, PRINCESS!
I run back to the hunter, chased first by one skeleton, then by a second a minute later. Without a word, he dismounts, and shoots one of the skeletons (after hitting his horse once, the dip), while the horse kicks another one to death. To re-death. Whatever.
They slope off together, the hunter teleporting directly back onto the horse from several dozen yards away. Raises the question of why he’s living as a hunter rather than a travelling magician, but that’s none of my business I suppose.