(Note: I’m doing this on a monitor about four times the size of my own. If you have trouble with the dimensions of the pictures or anything, please let me know.)
Day eight in Skyrim. I’m alive, I’m well, and I have enough money to buy jacket potatoes for breakfast. Today I think I’ll visit the castle at the top of the city, so I can deliver the sword Adrianne made for the Jarl. Damn thing weighs a tonne.
While I’m stuffing my craw at the bar, I get chatting to the innkeeper, and think to ask her where in town I can get some magical skills under my belt. I’ve seen nobody using magic at all since I got here, which is kind of weird. I can’t see the rebellion lasting for more than a week if the Nords are too superstitious to use magic against an Empire that commands the mages of half a dozen provinces. Although I would definitely buy tickets to that show.
Hulda is a bit of an idiot, insisting that elves and magic users are ‘weak’, but whatever, not my business. She at least points me in the direction of the Jarl’s wizard, so I let her get her nonsense in. Yes, I get it, you’re a Nord and Nords are best, now shut up, there’s a good bigot.
Immediately outside the Bannered Mare inn is the marketplace, where a handful of traders have set up stalls for selling meat, veg, and misc. The selection is basic but broad, and I get chatting to a trader named Carlotte Valentia.
Carlotta is a widow who’s being stalked by the jackass bard from the inn, Mikael. Say no more, lady: I got this. I even have a dagger!
Oh, I’m quite happy to take a literal interpretation of that if it helps. Let’s find out!
I clomp straight back inside the inn. Hey, Mikael! Yeah you, the prat with the lute.
So I says to him “Yes, idiot, the woman you’re harassing put me up to this. Quit being a creepy stalker jackass or I’ll bounce your head off the floor. Back off, or else.”
“Or else what?” demands the bold, very stupid sex offender.
POW! Right hook! That’s what else, bitch! And there’s a left just waiting for a chance to shine, before you go getting any ideas. I hope you’ve learned something today. Ponce.
To his credit, Mikael is less insane and deluded than most stalkers, as he immediately backs off, or at least that’s the impression I get from the few words I could make out between his whimpering and muffled sobs. The whole inn watches him sheepishly crawl back to his barding post, and I go out to tell Carlotta she can now sleep at night without any weirdoes peering in her window. You’re welcome. Anyone else I pummel for you? No? Oh well. 25 gold? Ooh. Not bad. If I’d known there was money in this, I’d have stabbed him a couple of times, too. Do… do you have any more? Because I can totally go back.
Right, I can’t stand around here assaulting musicians all day. Time to visit the Jarlhouse.
It’s nice having a tower that dominates the landscape and all, but it doesn’t half make for some legwork to get there. An ornate staircase takes me to the Jarl, complete with water features and a small bridge, and a pretty decent view. Although the view is kind of wasted as the building appears to have no proper windows.
On the other hand…
The view from inside is pretty impressive as it is. Nice digs! I bet this place is a bitch to keep warm, though. You’d think an architect designing a building set on a very high and exposed point in open tundra would know that. These people are crazy.
I can hear some kind of conference going on up ahead, and approach the large fire at the rear, still enjoying the view. Then one of the Jarl’s guards runs at me with her sword drawn. Uh oh.
I pull the same trick I did with the guard at the main gate, and tell her that I have important news about the dragons (that news presumably being “You know those dragons everyone’s talking about? They’re dragons.”). She immediately accepts this and turns her back on me. Oaf. If I had a good spell I could take a clear shot at the Jarl from here. Christ, if I were an Imperial agent I could have won this war by now.
Jarl Balgruuf the Greater is on his throne, discussing matters of state with his advisors, including the man I need to talk to, his steward. I stand to one side while they blather on about honour and empire and ale and other such Nordly rubbish. Irileth stands nowhere near me and pays me no attention while I completely fail to do what I told her I’d come here to do. When I rule the world, I know who will not be my bodyguard.
Unfortunately, the whole audience soon turns to look expectantly at me. After several minutes of awkward silence, my impatience to be rid of this sword gets the better of my indifference to all this political hooha. The Jarl asks what happened with the dragons, so I tell him I saw a dragon where the dragons were when the dragons appeared. Dragon. He asks for more information, so I explain that dragons are large flying lizards that breath fire and knock down houses and stuff. I’d have thought a Jarl would know this kind of thing, really.
Okay, well, I would have if I could. In fact I was given a choice between saying “THEY’RE HERE! YOU’RE NEXT! THEY COME WHILE YOU SLEEP! AIIEEE”, or grassing on one of my fellow prisoners at the time. Ulfric, you see, is a big name player round these parts. I figured that much out when I got to Skyrim in chains alongside him, right when all this dragon stuff kicked off. I figure the word will be out that he was there sooner or later – if nothing else, he himself has probably spent all week boasting about personally kidney-punching the dragon until it ran away. Nords, eh?
So yeah, I don’t want to get the guy in trouble, but there’s probably no harm in telling Balgruuf what went on. And the alternative will make me look like Chicken Little and probably booted out of the tower before I can get rid of this bloody sword. The Jarl seems unimpressed with Ulfric, but glad to have the news. He turns to his steward and says “Do you still think we should trust in the safety of our walls?”
If this was the steward’s view, I fear I must surmise that the steward is an idiot.
Should I give an idiot a sword?
I mean, he might hurt himself.
Oh, screw it. “Proventus Avenicci, steward, strategic moron, at your service,” he says (I paraphrase). I give him the sword, carefully highlighting the sharp end for his notice, and explaining how the handle works. Whatever cognitive problems he may have, they’re not mine, and I’m not carting a bloody great sword around everywhere just to spite Darwin. Proventus gives me 20 gold for the favour, and I wander off to explore the Jarlhouse, leaving Jarl Balgruuf staring helplessly at me from his chair, clearly wanting to offer me a job. Not happening, son. I still have shopping to do. Not so Greater now, are you?
Instead, I look up the wizard that Hulda namedropped. Along the way is another map of the province.
Hmm. So Whiterun, this town, is more or less in the centre of the province. The other towns are all strung along the borders. I came from the Southwest pass, and the North and West look a little unforgiving. Once I leave Whiterun I’ll head East, although my total failure at even the most basic cartography so far suggests I’ll end up wandering in random circles. I can’t even tell for sure what path I took from Falkreath, although I suspect it’s the one winding around the lake to the West. Wait a minute.
There. I won’t be keeping this map as a reference, as it’s kind of cheating, but I think that’s roughly the path I took last week, including several days of dallying around Falkreath. Must remember to draw a proper map this week.
You’d think the mages would have figured out a way to make better maps, really. Speaking of which, heeeeere’s Faregar!
Farengar, even. I’m not even going to pretend I care, because this guy is a proper tool. He sneers and insults me with practically every breath, to the point where I’m no longer interested in giving him any of my money. Which is quite convenient, because I can’t afford any spells anyway. But even if I could, Farengar, I would definitely hand you lots of money very reluctantly.
Farengar then offers me a job – delivering some ingredients to Arcadia the alchemist. I’m no fan of either of these two, so I hesitate, but what the hell, she lives right next to the inn, and if I change my mind I can just flog them instead. Okay Farengar, you’ve got a de-gnrgghh.
Right. I’d hoped doing you a favour would signal a change in this dynamic, but clearly you’re just an arse. An arse who’s left several potions unattended in a semi-public place, and turned his back on me, someone with a criminal past who he’s just insulted several times.
The best revenge is also the pettiest. Eat it, Farengar. I’m going to poison the hell out of something, and it’ll be all your fault. Time to leave. I have committed my first crime in Skyrim, and you know what? I don’t feel the least bit bad about it. That was a crime of karma. KRIMA.
I’m low on cash, so while there’s still light left in the day, I should go out and try out the local wildlife. But first…
I am so uncultured. Bathing in the Jarl’s moat-y pond thing. Correction:
Bathing in the Jarl’s moat-y salmon pond thing. Heeere fishy fishy. Well, I need a bath, and this is going unused, plus nobody in that place was very smart or nice. And I found some mussels, so this counts as a business matter. Tax free! I bet nobody has ever thought of-
Oh. I bet only one other person has ever thought of this! But yuck, there’s a dead person in my bath. Funny how that happens. Maybe I should leave before whatever killed them comes back. Although if he’s been there long enough to completely decompose… this is a terribly-maintained pond! Someone should really have a word with the staff.
I get my clothes back on and head down the steps again. The guard is entirely indifferent to my offensive behaviour. Or was just glad to witness it. On the way down, I run into another warrior in the Stupidname feud, Vignar Gray-Mane, who actually has a gray mane, and advises me not to get involved with his family’s idiocy. So far I’ve met more participants of this feud who think it’s stupid and pointless than I’ve met fans of it. Cold War satire, eh? Topical. Vignar also tells me that he’s one of the Companions, the drunks who live in the upturned longboat, and that he doesn’t know why he joined such a bunch of idiots.
I like Vignar.
At the foot of the stairs is a statue of a man with a sword, and just in case, another axe. A nearby lunatic yells at me about Tiber Septim, the subject of the statue. Septim was a man who stabbed so many other men that he became a god. Then someone said that worshipping a man as a god was stupid and wrong, and banned him, and now Loony McShoutman here is very cross, and is going to rally the forces of the faithful (Simon and Jeremy) to … kill the emperor? Yes. That’ll do.
I should do documentaries, right? I should definitely do documentaries. Ymelda’s ymperial ynsights. 20 gold per head. We are not responsible for anything. No refunds.
Arcadia! I am largely indifferent to you! But here’s some stuff your horrible friend wanted you to have. And you’re… going to make a ‘love potion’. That’s appalling. I can’t possibly be a part of oh wait on Farengar you say? Carry on!
Money now. Money. Now money. Now. Now money now. Oooh! Never mind, potions are fine too. Arcadia pays me in potions, which turns out a pretty sweet deal for me – two of them are useless but quite pricey, and the third will make me invisible for 20 seconds. There’s time left in the day for more, so I scope out the terrain a little. Bye Arcadia! Good luck with the rohypnol!
Might as well just follow the road I was on when I arrived. It’s uneventful, and with the wide open land around me there’s little chance of any surprises. A prison train passes by on the left, with almost two prisoners, who exhort me to join the rebellion by going to StrongWind or StormTower or HelmGuard and talking to Bogfring or Ungarr or Telmark. I may have been paying more attention to a nearby butterfly.
No, really. They’re everywhere here, and people like Arcadia will pay for their wings. So I am very much justified in spending an hour running around chasing them while prancing and giggling like a schoolgirl.
It’s while doing this that I clock the river. The rather large river.
It’s dead ahead and intersects the road. It also comes sharply downhill over a series of short waterfalls (geographers! There’s probably a name for that, and I bet you know it. But nobody else cares, so don’t bother), and oh my god oh my god look look look
There are salmon flipping up the waterfall! Proper wee living salmon doing their fishy acrobatic thing. This is brilliant! I’m gonna catch one. Heeeere fishy fishoooooh no.
Extremely rapid, powerful flow of water of unknown depth onto a variety of large and jagged rocks. And I just, y’know, hurl myself across it onto a slippery, narrow boulder for the sake of a fish that’s worth less than a shoe. With no reloads, and no way to heal myself if this hurts. And it’s day eight.
This may not be the best idea I’ve ever had.