Ymelda is dead.
Dead lucky to be alive, that is! Oho ho ho.
So yes. Jumping recklessly across a waterfall is not the best of ideas, however it didn’t kill me, therefore I must be stronger now. I should go back and do it again, right?
There was no humiliating death on the rocks, nor a sweeping over the edge and desparate scrabbling for a hold on the riverbank. I landed neatly on the rock, and even grabbed a couple of salmon for my troubles. Totally worth it.
There are a few more flapping about in the falls, but getting to them would be even dumber than I’m already being, and I’ll make more money with flowers. So, I ought to move on, back downriver, and explore.
Just by the bridge is a signpost with more silly names. Avar8tead? Avarsread? I cannot decide which is worse. None of these places sound very appealing. Not sure what the significance of the different colours is, either. Are the white ones further away, or colder, or full of racists, or what?
I decide to ignore the signs, and see where the bridge road to the right takes me. Winterhold and Ivarsomething might be this way, but I haven’t worn Whiterun out yet, so whether I find them or not, I can always turn back.
The road turns left over the river, running northwards alongside the city. I’m immediately attacked by a suicidally angry ferret, which bounces cluelessly off my shield a few times (strong teeth I guess. Must drink a lot of milk), then dies pointlessly of dagger-induced bleedyitis. For what it’s worth, I skin it and carry on my way. Stupid ferret.
Up ahead are some armed figures, loitering behind a large rock. I try a sneaky approach, but it’s hopeless on such open ground. They don’t attack me even when I get quite close though, so they’re probably not bandits. Walking past nonchalantly seems wise.
Oh. They’re doing some nonchalant walking, too. And they want to talk. Oh, here we go. “Help us, clearly penniless total stranger. We have lost the golden Twonk of Tuk-el-D’ar, forged by the Fingle of Mongo Blung in the Mountain of Bluth. Will you help us retrieve it, and by ‘help’ I mean ‘do it for us while we stand around picking our noses’?” Goddd, why can’t anyone around here do anything themselves?
No wait, they’re bandits.
Bandits! Now, this at least I can respect. You don’t see bandits asking every passing immigrant to go out and do their banditry for them, do you? No wonder this country’s in such a bloody state. These guys have even got hold of some armour and are pretending to be Imperial Guardholes demanding a toll. Okay, it’s totally unconvincing, but at least they’re trying. You don’t see the locals solving their own problems, do you?
Anyway, no, bandit guy, I’m not giving you 100 golds. I don’t have any, for a start, so how about you just let me keep walking and I say no more abou-ooohkay, you’re going to kill me. Crap.
The leader pulls out an unlikely two-headed axe, and the second whips out a thin but quite professional-looking warhammer. Any ideas I have about trying to separate and kill them are obliterated when a third appears at the back, and blasts lightning at me from his hands. A mage! About time. Also, ow ow ow, bloody hell, it doesn’t half hurt.
I sprint back down the road, quickly putting my dagger away. It’s a lot farther back than I’d realised, and I haven’t seen a guard since that prison train went by. Gonna be a looong chase. Unless…
“What’s the matter? Can’t stand the sight of your own SCREW YOU, SUCKERS?”
A sudden leap off the road directly into the river, and these guys are totally flummoxed. Apparently they’re scared of water, the big pansies, because they don’t give chase, and instead shuffle helplessly back and forth at the rock’s edge as I swim to safety.
Ha! Missed! And you just gave me a free arrow, too. Thanks! How does it feel to be operating at a loss?
The bandit with the bow continues to provide me with free ammunition for a while, then either gets bored or runs out of arrows. I shrug, and look around for any guards who might be patrolling the farmland outside the city, which is what takes up most of this side of the river. I run into one, but he just does the usual “SARCASTIC REMARK, CITIZEN” thing that they all do and wanders off again. Huh. Not interested in bandits killing your mates then? All for one and one for sod this I’m going home?
Pity. I look around to decide on my next move, just in time to see one of the bandits charging. Yikes!
YES! I got him! I outfought the guy with the warhammer! I am the best, I am unstoppable, I am… oh GODDAMN IT.
Now the guard wants to kill bandits? Now that this passing farmer and I were saving the day with some proper stylish tag team action? Damn it, guardsman #27. That was not in the script.
I wonder how the bandit got here, anyway. Did he pluck up the courage to jump and swim across? I can’t see his friends anywhere*. Slightly confused, I wander after the farmer who bravely helped me out during the fight. Wilmuth is his name, and he has nothing to say to me at all. Oh Wilmuth, don’t deny your love.
There’s not much happening on the farms (including any, y’know, farming. Bloody Imperial subsidies), and it’s unlikely I’ll find much plant life without stealing crops. I turn back towards the bridge, and once more unto the breach, specifically the road with the two remaining bandits. I should be able to take the mage/archer by rushing him, leaving me to out-block the leader. Or maybe I can just sneak past this time.
Along the way I find nirnroot. Nirnroot is a semi-rare plant that alchemists practically wet themselves over, though I understand it takes such an enormous hassle to make a useful potion from it that it’s probably not even worth it. Still, might be worth some money. Pluck.
There’s no sign of the bandits, other than…. well.
Where the bandits were hanging out, there is a trio of male bodies laid out in positions I will simply call “compromising”. I don’t want to think about what was really going on here.
After cautiously exploring further up the road, there’s still no sign of the creepy necroperv bandits, and night has quickly fallen. I turn back and try to find a place to sleep on someone’s farm – no such luck – and consider roughing it in the windmill before giving up and trudging back to Whiterun.
On the plus side, I’ve enough bread and fruit left over for a simple dinner, and today was surprisingly fruitful – I have loads of ingredients, and should be able to afford another alchemy run at Arcadia’s tomorrow.
(*NOTE: I only noticed this while uploading, but if you watch the video of the bandit fight, at about 7 seconds in, the mage at the back appears to be fighting something on the other side of the river. I guess someone chased them off).
Sure enough, that’s what I do the next morning. By the end of it I have a tasty 681 gold (thanks to my previous experiments, I now know dozens of ingredient properties I can use to make lots of profitable potions, and still experiment with new combinations). My first stop after cashing in is at Belethor’s, the general trader. He’s a cock, but he’s less of a cock than the other person in town who sells spells, and moreover, his shop is a lot closer.
I buy a Healing spell for healing, and a Fury spell for fury. This spell will turn low-level people or animals into rabid nutters, which might come in handy for causing a fuss, starting a fight without getting in trouble with the law, and it was the only one available that will allow me to get to grips with Illusion magic. I want to try illusion magic because it sounds like it will be quite funny.
Next up, I head to Elrindir’s shop, the Drunken Hunstman. In an alcove there is a moody dark elf, Jenassa, who announces that she kills people for money, in case I’m interested. No thanks, Jenassa. If I wanted an assassin, I think I’d rather look for one who’s a bit more discreet about it, y’know?
I said before that Elrindir’s place was roomy. Well, here it is. He really ought to open it up as an inn or something. He’d make a killing. I decide I’ll eat breakfast here, in peace, without a bartender harassing me or that idiot Mikael singing his terrible songs in my ear. First though, I buy a hunting bow and some arrows. Next time some bandits try their luck with me, I’m going to shoot them right in the eye.
While I continue my shopping spree, a passing guard warns me not to go hunting or exploring near the … Something pass, to the Southeast. Very dangerous, apparently. Thanks for the tip! I then run into the kid I saw being bullied the other day, Lars Stupidname.
He tells me that a brat called Braith has been bothering him, although most of the town give him grief for not being a meatheaded cretin. Aw. Poor Lars. I have some sympathy, as I had trouble with bullies when I was a kid too, right before that kidnapper took them all without leaving any other witnesses or demanding a ransom. Adults are so gullible.
Lars offers me money to kill the girl who’s hassling him. At least, that’s how I read this situation. This is how it works, right? An NPC comes to you asking for help ‘dealing with’ another NPC, so you kill the second one, and the first one gives you money. Right?
I go looking for this girl, and it’s not long before I spot her, and just as I’m wondering whether “it was a quest” will really cut it as a defence for stabbing a little girl, I realise it’s not the same kid. They all look the same to me. Kids, I mean, not Nords. Although….
This one’s name is Mila Valentia (Carlotta’s daughter – the one I punched Mikael for) and she asks if I want to play a game.
I am well up for this.
Hide and seek! Hide and seek!
Mila goes first. I look at the floor and count to twenty. Eee! This is ridiculously exciting. I haven’t played this game since the first week Grandma went senile. Still feel a little bad about that, actually.
Here I come, ready or not!
She’s not at the market, nor by the main gate or forge. She’s not hiding down by the residential bit either, where it’s quiet. Hmm. She’s pretty good!
Gotcha! The lookout spot, eh? Not bad, not bad. My turn! Mila starts counting before I can even think of where I’m going to hide. Eek. Um… er… damn, she’s counting fast. No fair! Count properly or I’m telling mum!
This’ll have to do. I’m hidden in a dark corner of someone’s garden, really close to where she’s counting. I wonder if she plays by “you can move around” rules. If she is, I am so going to win this. But it’d be unfair to cheat if she’s not…. oh wait, is that her coming now? Nooo! I’m going to win this. I WILL WIN THIS.
Gosh, sure is thirsty work, this! Maybe I’ll just have myself a wee drinkie of this here bottle I happen to be carrying.
Look, hide and seek rules don’t say you can’t use potions. I’m not doing anything wrong.
I am so winning this game.