Osteocide: Life on the Street

Good morning Whiterun! It… it is Whiterun, this town, isn’t it? Let me just check my screenshots.

Yes. Yes, it is. Good morning! As your newest visitor, I will today be gracing many of your sights with my presence, criticising your culture, and laughing at your big stupid faces. Tourism!

First, the general tat shop. Whiterun’s tat shop is owned by Belethor, a Breton (magic-prone bores). Belethor is rude and sarcastic, and not in a funny way. I try to get him talking, but he’s too busy being a prat. Belethor does not deserve a screenshot. You tamper with forces beyond your comprehension, Bel-end. Time to visit the forge I walked past yesterday.

On my way there, the dorky man from last night, Sigurd, tries once more to introduce himself to me. I inspect my fingernails and keep walking. La la la. Then, just to rub it in, I drop a coin on a nearby beggar. Cruelty through charity! This is a new experience. I kind of like it.

The forge is operated by a woman called Adrienne Avenicci, who chats to me while she works, though disappointingly she does not spontaneously produce delicious pasta from the ether like most Italians. She has a serious hero worship thing going on with some famous armourer or other, who she’s determined to match. The upshot of this is that she asks me to take an enormous sword to the Jarl’s steward to show off her non-pizza-related skills, and is also willing to let me help her out here. She shoves some lumps of iron in my pocket and asks me to make a dagger with them. Um. Okay, I like your interview style, but I’m not sure that petty theft or herb gathering prowess really translates to weaponsmithing. This is on your head, lady.

Well, that wasn’t too disastrous. I manage to make a little iron dagger, and wave it around a bit along with my own one to test it out. Hyah!

It’s passable. With a war on, I doubt locals standards are exacting. Just about anything that can put a hole in a dude ought to sell. And yeah, I know a few moves with two knives, but I won’t bother because they’re all for show. Like my old man always said, “There’s nothing two blades can do that one can’t do better. Except if they’re for two people. With one blade each, I mean. Or they’re a pair of scissors. Or one of them’s forked, and you’re carving a chicken or skinning a deer. Also there are some other exceptions that temporarily escape me.”

Dad never was too good with words.

I take the knife to Adrianne, who asks me to do the stony-grindy-make-sword-better thing to it. Check me out, working at the forge, using all the technical terms.

I don’t actually know how to do that though, and I’m too ashamed to ask, so I wait until she’s not looking and sneak inside her shop, where her business partner buys the knife, and sells me a set of studded hide armour.

Now we’re talking. It’s very light at the top, but the bottom is well covered, and with my shoulder guarded and shield up, I’ll feel a lot more confident venturing outside. Warmer, too. It sets me back about 250 slices of goldstick, but it will save my life sooner or later. Now, to see what else is happening around town.

Some ugly children are bullying each other over in the residential bit. Tch. I eavesdrop on another Redguard couple arguing over a family sword. The husband wants to retrieve their ancestral sword from some goblin hole or other, but the wife is having none of it. He wanders over to me and starts hinting massively that he would like me to help him out. I don’t think so, matey. I’ve had my fill of risking my life for morons for this week.

Nearby, there is that tree from the city in Lord of the Rings.

Disappointing, Bethesda. I’d have made the town’s centerpiece a giant bronze chicken. Everyone would wear hen amulets, feathers would be outlawed, and the harassment of a chicken would be punishable by blinding.

Still, it is at least quite pretty. Nice view of the castle in the background,too. Off to my left, there is a temple of one of the world’s many gods. I forget which one, but I think Arkay, the god of life and death (possibly? I should probably know that). Most temples are good places to learn some magic, and I could do with a spell or two. I’m no wizard or anything, but a healing spell would be useful, and I have a vague hankering to dabble in some illusion magic. Let’s have a look, see what’s happening inside.

Oh, that’s interesting. There are sick people here being tended to. Most temples are very sniffy about that kind of thing, and stick to chanting and worship, and do their healing and charity stuff on an outcall basis. And they’re actively healing, too, look:

See? Although I suppose they could be only partially healing him in some kind of sinister experiment to force his disease to adapt, so that they can use it as a weapon. It wouldn’t be the worst thing a church ever did. Sadly, neither of these two are selling any spells, nor do they have anything interesting to say. But they don’t object to my presence, and since it’s so nice in here, I decide to rest my feet for a while.

Eventually I get bored. This “quiet contemplation” lark is rubbish, frankly. Nothing happens! I’m outta here.

Before I go, one of the priests tells me a story about how the tree is cut from some kind of magical super tree guarded by Satan’s really angry nephews or something, and wondered aloud if there would ever be some brave, kind, sexy wandering woman, possibly with her hair pinned back, who would ever go there and bring back something to make the town’s tree grow again.

I hope you’re a better priest than you are a recruiter, lady. That was pitiful. You could have at least hinted at a reward. No sale.

There’s an interesting building on the other side of the tree. It looks like a tavern, and its roof is an upturned longboat. Seriously. It’s neat, so neat that I feel very stupid for somehow failing to get a single picture of it. The best part is that we’re so far inland and from any navigable river that the builders must have deliberately carried it much further than the nearest lumber yard just for the sheer hell of making it into a roof. I can respect that kind of lunatic determination in pursuit of a whim.

Inside it’s less interesting, but warm and spacious. If I had to pick one word, I would call it “Nordy”. Appears to be a council hall or something, that could double as a boozer or dance floor or emergency carrot storage room. Anything, really. I bet they get all the good party bookings, but then they probably need the money to pay for their enormous furnace. Speaking of which, it’s time I introduced myself to the guy at the table.

Gotta say, I can’t see anyone being unimpressed by a greeting like that. I decide not to give them my name, on the basis that “holy christ, it’s that woman who stands unflinching in the fire” is much more fun.

The man behind the table mumbles a boring, meaningless line or two, and his total lack of worthwhile conversation, and as his duties here consist of sitting on his arse doing nothing, I deduce that he is the manager. Best go and speak with the people who do the real work. Maybe they’ll even have a job for me. As I go over to the left side of the hall, a fistfight breaks out. Looks like a vacancy will be opening up any minute now!

This wasn’t to the death. I don’t know if they were training, but I’m not getting involved. I learn that this place is the hall of the Companions, but as nobody’s really talking, I have no idea what the Companions are. I can only assume that they would get very upset if I called them whores.

Total waste of time, here. I think they’re some sort of Stonecutters-style group that makes a big song and dance about their special club, but is really just about getting trashed and occasionally murdering a stripper. On the plus side, I meet Farkas. Farkas is, I feel, a kindred spirit.

“Just tell me who needs bludgeoning”, he adds. The answer is everyone, Farkas. Everyone.

Darkness is falling on … the region this town is in. I haven’t achieved much today, but on the way back to the tavern I spy a curious building in a corner that I’d missed earlier. Perhaps I’ll get something done after all. It looks rather temple-ish, with burning braziers and a wooden frame over the entrance, which serves no purpose that I can see. It’d look nice with some climbers, but this is August and they’re bare. Strange.

I step down to the entrance, half expecting trouble. Instead, I meet a priest. I am far too old for a priest to be trouble.

Andurs is his name. Andurs is a priest of Arkay, the god of life, death, and milk (possibly). This place is the corpsotorium, where this tired and pleasantly creepy man hangs out and makes sure the dead are taken care of. Except he can't right now, because the DEAD ARE RESTLESS and he can't go downstairs and kick them in the corpsicles because he's left his magical protective amulet down there. Andurs, you dolt!

Now, as I've hinted at before, I'm very suspicious of magic and ghostly matters. Tombs, mausoleums and big stone monuments make me very uneasy. I don't have a problem with mages or the like as such, but I don't trust their work. They're just so bloody inscrutable about it. If someone's protected their castle with conventional weapons – spear traps, giant axe blades and all that fun stuff – they'll let you know it by, y'know, shoving a dismembered torso on a spike outside, or daubing "MURDER" on the walls in blood, perhaps with a colourful drawing for the international audience, or carving Cliff Richard's sinister face into the wall. You know where you stand with that, right? But magic… well, it's as likely as not that you'll have no bloody idea what you're walking into until your pants spontaneously combust.

No thank you. You know where you are with an axe.

But with all that said, this is a situation where I’m confident I should volunteer. I’d pass if he were sending me halfway across the continent for a ‘simple errand’ that turns out to be stealing a minor deity’s favourite shampoo, but this job is literally in the next room. If it’s a fool’s errand, I could come straight back up and stab him. Fighting the dead isn’t pleasant, but we’re probably only talking about a few clueless zombies here. I could do with that kind of sparring practice.

Let’s do this thing. Shield raised, armour on, dagger ready, ass bad. I’m gonna remind all you dead suckers what your job is. Oho, and it seems that the zombies are not in fact working tonight. Instead, the tomb is operating with a skeleton crew*.

Wooo! Skeleton fight! Back to work, Bones! These strikes are wrong at a time when negotiations are still going on.

I don’t quite know how stabbing him worked, but maybe I’m just that tough. And now even tougher! Ymelda levels again right after the fight, thanks to a combination of blocking, sneaking and bedaggering, on top of the last few days of creeping away from wolves, mixing potions, and selling petals to racists. I opt for another stamina boost, and the first Stealth perk, which gives me a 20% bonus to sneaking. I’ll need that, I suspect – I’d rather avoid trouble altogether than try to outmuscle it. I now have a clear combat strategy – avoid, and if detected, block and try counters, and if outmatched, use my stamina to run like buggery and hope that whatever I just annoyed doesn’t try to bite my legs off.

So, where were we. Oh yes, skeletons slacking off. GET BACK TO WORK, you dead bastards!

There’s a door on my left and two sets of stairs down on either side of me. Heading right, I soon spot a second skellie at the bottom, hanging around in a vertical capacity, in a blatant display of insubordination. As he hasn’t seen me, I turn back and creep down the other stairs instead, and try to sneak up on him from the side, so I can give him a stern talking to about his contractual obligations as a dead guy. He’s not having any of it though, and attempts to renegotiate.

This is not appropriate workplace behaviour! Grievance procedure guidelines are freely available in the staff room! I will initiate disciplinary proceedings. Don’t make me call HR, mate. I hate dealing with those useless bloody… oh, you’re dead. I mean, you were dead already, but you get what I mean. That’s more like it! Lying motionless on the floor is exactly the kind of thing we were hoping for when we hired you. Good work, Skeleton #2. This was a productive meeting.

In the little cupboard he was guarding there are several trinkets and some money, but no sign of Andurs’ amulet of Arkay around, alright. It must be upstairs, behind that other door. If the old coot hasn’t been wearing it all along. God, it’ll be just like grandma and her Necklace of Memory all over again. Three sodding hours we looked for that thing.

I can hear the creaking of bones from behind said door, which means there’s another dirty loafer in there. Well, we’ll soon see about that!

Skeleton #3 lunges at me the second I open the door. He’s not happy, and not shy about saying it, either. Well TALK to the union then, see if I care!

Your pay rise was well in line with inflation! That’s just the economic reality of the situation. We’re at war, you know! The city’s closed. There’s nothing I can do about that.

Holiday entitlement? Are you mad?

There are plenty of other corpses out there willing to do your job!

That’s better. I’m glad we had this conversation.

All done! THE DEAD are once more AT PEACE. Or in pieces. Either way is fine. I’m sure Andurs has a dustpan and brush he can tidy these guys away with. I stumble cluelessly around both this and the other cupboard for a very long while before spotting the amulet on a table. Shiny! And expensive!

I could always keep … no, no. Bad Ymelda. I don’t need to go round robbing priests, especially not priests of death.

When I get back, Andurs is asleep, so I try to leave the amulet on his bedside table rather than disturb him, but unfortunately the game won’t allow me to do this – you can’t drop “quest items”, apparently. Bit annoying. As I’m bound to forget otherwise, I wake him up and hand him the amulet, for which he thanks me and hands over 15 coins. Fair enough, really. It’s enough for a nice portion of roast meat. So I head back to the inn, where I stifle a laugh and keep walking as Sigurd once again tries to introduce himself, and chow down on some meat and baked potatoes, with a side of grilled veg. Lovely. A well-earned meal, and now it’s time for my well-earned rest.

*Sorry everyone. Sorry.

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Filed under Skyrim, Ymelda Scrowles

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