Category Archives: Skyrim

All the Goats that Broke my Heart

Ymelda reports her fascinating discoveries to the guard. Nobody saw nuthin’. That’s omertà, baby. But these guys all heard the guard ask me to question them. Maybe I’ll be able to help them out if the people involved don’t know I’m working for the filth.

Do I think I can do better than a legion of guards? That depends. Do you recognise anything other than instantly butchering suspected criminals as success, or not? Because if so, then ah… hell yes, I can do better.

But unfortunately, the guard won’t let me help until I go and ask someone at the Jarlhouse for permission. Bureaucracy, thy name is Skyrim. Well, I’ve already done the Jarlhouse today, and it’s probably closed for the night anyway, so for now I’m going to finish my tour of the city. Who knows, maybe I’ll run into a lead anyway.

Continuing along the alley, going the way Brunwulf came, is what I guess is windhelm’s market square. It’s a bit spooky at night, and I nearly soil myself when a guard lurking in the shadows says hello. His watchful eye sadly keeps me from poking around what looks like an open air smelting furnace, but there’s not much going on here. There is, however, an alchemist’s shop.

Welp, that looks like about everything Windhelm has to offer. The most interesting things about the place are a graveyard and a corpse. A holiday destination for all the family.

Seeing that alchemist reminded me that sleuthing aside, I need to be able to make a living here in Windhelm. So, it’s back to the inn for tonight, and tomorrow I think I’ll get out foraging again to make some money, and to keep myself from falling into the crippling depression that this city was obviously founded on.

Back at the inn, I chat with some other guests – Jora, some kind of priestess type, chats a little religion, but pleasantly enough. She’s got wind of the Shatter-Shield family’s recent loss, and is trying to reel the whole lot of them in. Tch.

Meanwhile, over at the bar, I run into the father of one of the murderer’s victims, Torbjorn Shimmy-Shammy. He asks me to leave his wife Tova alone, and complains that he can’t find an amulet of Arkay … this is starting to sound awfully familiar.

Well, I tell him I’ll keep an eye out. Maybe if I see Anders again, I can talk him into sending his over. He’ll only lose it again otherwise. Maybe I should just not get involved, though – I seem to be making a habit of befriending mourners. If I suddenly appear days after another brutal murder of someone’s daughter, people are going to start getting really suspicious.

Bedtime. I buy some cooked horker meat and turn in.

I get up early the next day, and head straight out of town, across the interminable bridge. This is about as pretty as I’ve seen the city get so far, but at least there’s room to move.

Turning right, I follow a cobbled road to the right. Snow is starting to fall, and almost immediately, a distant figure appears ahead. He appears to be alone, and is walking away from me, but it’s best not to take any chances. I follow slowly, and keep my distance. Seems he has taken a dislike for the local fauna, as his path is littered with dead goats and wolves.

Since he’s just left them lying dead on the ice, I set to work, taking their pelts and meat. The road is dotted with snowberry bushes and little else – I’ve a pile of berries now and not much to mix them with, but at least the hunting is good. It’s uneventful going, but after a few hours, the snow stops, the clouds part, and at last, the sky is clear and bright, and this place finally looks like somewhere human beings might want to live.

Just as I notice this though, I notice that I’m about to catch up with the mysterious matacabra, for he has stopped following the river and is instead milling aimlessly around in a small circle. Hm.

He doesn’t seem to be attacking on sight, which is a start. And in what is clearly a test, he has left a goat alive just between us. This must be how he communicates, I guess. “Hello!”, I say, by burying my axe into the defenceless goat’s face, “I come in peace!”, which of course is conveyed by ripping its still warm legs off.

The gesture is appreciated, but it turns out he speaks English. Also, he’s a drug dealer, which might explain the mood swings. Second rule! Don’t get high on your own supply, brah.

He’s an Argonian, which I think is the first I’ve seen of those skittish lizard types since I left Cyrodiil. Unsurprisingly, he won’t give me his name. Seems like the wrong place to be selling your gear anyway, unless he’s planning to wait here until somebody builds a bridge.

I turn down his offer of skooma and/or moon sugar. Not my thing, and a dumb idea for a convict and immigrant to be carrying the stuff. Plus I doubt I can afford it. Never tried it, and the last thing I need is to whitey in the middle of an icy wasteland.

Moving on past the waterfall. Turned out pretty nice.

A lot of people rag on the Argonians. I really don’t know why, aside from simple racism. They’re alright for the most part, especially considering how much crap they get from the dark elves, and the empire allowed them to be enslaved for a long time. Still goes on in parts, I heard from a few I was running a con with back home. They’re immune to poison and can breathe underwater, which is all kinds of cool. They can make a good living as scouts and hunters, and I’ve seen a lot who were handy in a fight. I really don’t get it. The Khajit, sure, I can see why people give them stick – a lot of them are thieves, like it or not, and sure, most of those might be benign for-the-common-man sorts, but it’s hard to really know the difference between a guy stealing your stuff because he’s a folk hero, and the guy stealing your stuff because he’s a dick.

The whole poison immunity thing always made me wonder why they didn’t just poison their own water supplies when the Imperials invaded. It wouldn’t be difficult. They live in water, right? Just farm some toxic weed for a few weeks and have everyone carry it with them into the water every day. Invasion thwarted.

Speaking of which, here are some more berries. Another waterfall, too. And a bridge. This is a nice river. God, I’m bored.

Oh hey, another watermill. Fire’s burning, too, I think. That’s another waterfall as well. I wonder if there are any fish about. I could do with some lunch. I think I’ll look around the rocks and swing by the mill on the way back, see if there’s anyone to talk to.

Goats! The hunting’s thinner than I expected, but when animals appear, they seem to come in twos and threes. Good target practice, if nothing else. I’m starting to get the hang of this bow. Been a while since I made an honest, non-lethal living. Well, non-lethal to people, at least.

“I saw a mudcrab the other day. Horrible creatures, I hate them. ”

“I’ve heard others say the same.”

“Yeah. So I ran up to it and ripped its goddamn claws off while it was still alive. I think it was a baby.”

“Goodbye!”

“I took its eyes, too. Want to see? Hey, where are you going?”

I’ve come to yet another waterfall, this one bigger than the last. A lone, tiny crab is the only fight on my hands: a fact it’d probably be tempting fate to bewail. The day is getting on though, and if I go much further I may either get stuck out in a storm, or just find more than I can carry back. Crossing the river here will be safer, since it’s somehow only knee deep and slow-flowing, despite being the same width as the roaring torrent not fifty feet away. Nords! Even their rivers are incompetent.

There’s also a campfire on the far side. On investigating, it appears to be made of wood that is burning. That’s about all that I can figure out. This “detective” thing was definitely a good idea.

I doubt it’ll be bandits camping this close to the mill, out in the open by the road and river, but even so, it’s with some caution that I work my way up to the top of the waterfall in search of fish. It’s with considerably less caution that I crash face-first into the waterfall while trying to catch one.

Fortunately, I fell only a couple of feet, and managed to take a series of shorter tumbles rather than going straight over. Obviously when I get back to town, the story will be that these cuts and bruises were caused by something with at least two heads.

I did catch a fish though, and got some nice views of my way back home.

There’s some more goatbusting on this side of the river, as I follow one up into a the hill a little way, and stay up there for a while filling their heads with my arrows and my pockets with their skin and meat. This is probably not hygienic, but what do I care, I’m not the one who’ll be eating it. And just think, maybe in a few weeks, all these pelts will be part of some wandering hero’s fancy magical leather kecks.

I pause for a while in the hills, and enjoy a late lunch, having lost track of time while stalking goats. I’ve also walked back past the mill again, so should really head down and say hi – if I can sell some of this stuff to the millers, there’ll be room for another brief hunt. First though, it’s time to stare sombrely into the distant wilderness, as if about to embark on a grand voyage into the unknown that will ultimately prove to be an allegory for the discovery of the self, rather than about to try to flog a dead wolf’s skin to an inbred peasant while carrying fifty probably toxic berries in my pants.

That’s the stuff.

With a belly full of bread, I skip merrily down to the lumber mill. The two workers outside have nothing to say – too inbred to speak, no doubt – and carry on lugging stuff around and working a stoney-grindy-makey-better thing respectively. Boring jerks. They mention an owner though, and I go to see if she’s inside – maybe she’ll be keen for some conversation with someone whose relatives actually have different names.

Along the way I find an axe just lying on the floor. That’s not good care of your tools, boys. Have some respect for your work, yeah? The owner doesn’t seem to care when I bring it inside for her, but she is at least happy to talk a little. Aeri is her name, and she at first takes me for a messenger from the Jarl of whatever Dawnstar is. He’s been giving her grief, so she asks me to deliver him a note saying “chill, mofo, wood doesn’t grow on trees you know” if I’m ever in whatever Dawnstar is. A town, I guess?

Clocking the axe, and perhaps more pertinently, the way I just asked for a job, she suggests I chop some wood for a little money. Fair enough, say I.

Haaiiiiii-ya!

I swear, no matter how much wood you chop, the pile never seems to get any bigger, huh? That’s a day job for you. Sisyphus had it easy, man. At least he got a break while the stone rolled down the hill.

It’s getting dark though, so I stop to carry what I’ve chopped inside and collect my cash. Aeri gives me a ridiculous thirty gold for this. Thirty gold pieces! Good god woman, how much do you charge for lumber, exactly? And how can you possibly run this place with wages like that? No wonder your two hicks don’t want to talk – if word gets out what you’re paying, the entire province would descend on this place by morning.

I’d better get out of here before one of them sticks a knife in my back. Damn, woman. I’m all for workers’ rights, but workers need the business to stay afloat, too.

We shoot the breeze a little, but as Aeri isn’t interested in buying some slightly used snowberries, I start to walk back to town, picking the occasional herb and crossing the little bridge as I go.

The Argonian thoroughbred is gone, and is unquestionably setting fire to a hospital or punting some babies over a hedge as we speak, for this is what happens immediately after anyone interacts with any drugs, ever. It’s even more boring to walk back at night, having stripped the path clean and not having room for more stuff anyway. But this time I run into some more itinerant cat dudes, and some cat dudettes. Catette dudes? Excuse me; I seem to have momentarily become a Californian teenager from the early 90s.

Ahkari is the most talkative, and perhaps relatedly, her terrifying eyes are staring directly into your soul.

She first expresses her appreciaton that I’m not the sort of person to consider the Khajit to be all thieves. Erm. Didn’t invest in the ‘judge of character’ skill there, did you love? It’s a bit depressing when they’re treated so badly by most people here that even considering only a lot of them thieves makes me some kind of radical sympathiser. Or… maybe she sells stuff to gullible saps for a living, and this is just her patter. Hmm. Ahkari then goes on to tell me that she’s been banished from about a third of the known world for “misunderstandings with the law”. Seriously, is this the entire culture’s running gag or something? “Gosh, I hate it when people think we’re all thieves. Why, just last week I was stealing from this guy and overheard someone talking…”.

Oy. Ahky has a few odds and ends, none of which I need. Helpfully, she buys some of the wolf pelts off me, saving me a little back work. I’m hovering at around 150 gold.

I chat a little with another member of the troupe, Kharjo. He joined after they busted him out of (surprise) prison, and we make small talk about trolls and why bandits are all bastards because other people stealing is terrible, whereas it’s just cute when you do it. He also mentions a trinket from his mother that’s of great sentimental value, and hints about how terrible it is to have things stolen and if only some kindly passer by would waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh oh sorry Kharjo, did I say that out loud? Anyway, terrible sorry for your loss, plenty more fish in the et cetera, whatever.

Do you think I offended him? I think I offended him. Oh well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually quite sympathetic – guy’s far from home, trudging around in the snow in a land where his people aren’t even allowed to enter towns. He’s about three times as far from home as I am, and the people here are even more different to his than they are to mine. But come off it. I’m not running off after some unknown bandit for the sake of a useless trinket for someone I’ve just met. I’ve got enough to worry about. Like getting a bed for the night, for a start.

With the pelts gone, I’m able to pick up a few more berries, and the rest of the night passes by without event. I just thought someone might enjoy the conversation options for a total stranger I just passed on the bridge into town in the middle of the night. I might start talking like Ymelda.

“Hi!”

“CAN I BUY SOME HAM PLEASE.”

“Um… I don’t have any ham. Also, we’re on a bus.”

“WHAT DO YOU PEOPLE DO FOR FUN ROUND HERE.”

I think I need to start spending more time around people. A quick ale before bed wih the recently bereaved Shibba Shabba guy ought to help, right? I’m sure he’s a barrel of laughs.

Bedtime!

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Cake Spotting Individual

The sky has cleared by the time I get back to Windhelm, and it’s a huge improvement.

Maybe I misjudged this place. Sure, it’s cold and dark, but it’s not so grim all the time. It’s almost pleasant, in fact. At least, until I get back to town. Ugh. This place really needs some work if they’re serious about independence. Who’d want to fight for a people whose cities are all ugly crapholes?

Still, it’s something at least. And I’ve made a nice little haul, which I sell back at Candlehearth Inn (slogan: “It’s this or hypothermia”) for a modest profit. I buy a little food and rent a room for another 10 gold, and much to my surprise, the room is full of fresh food. Excellent deal! Maybe Windhelm’s as cheap as it is ugly. I pocket the food and turn in – tomorrow will bring a good opportunity to find out.

After a nice long lie in, Ymelda’s up at the crack of noon, breakfasts on complimentary bread and cheese, and heads outside to greet the surprisingly sunny and pleasant day. Time for some sightseeing, methinks. There’s got to be more here than a miserable elf ghetto, with its crass graffiti, bizarre lingo and awkward, ineffectual drive-up-and-then-dismount shootings.

I head to the rear of the entrance square, where I find an immensely tall passageway flanked by braziers. And what’s this? There’s some kind of tablet monument on the wall.

“Olaf One Eye”. Reigned 1E 420 – 452. I can’t make it all out, but it looks like something about a king who bitchslapped a dragon, which is a typical Nordic pub story. Everyone who ever lived in Skyrim has an ancestor who killed a dragon. There must have been thousands of the bloody things. Pretty impressive for a man with no depth perception, though. That could have been really embarassing if he’d missed. Dragons are such gossips.

The other one is about “Harald”. Really, Windhelm? Harald? That could be anyone. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s another monument inside dedicated to “Mudcrab”.

Further in, it looks like I’ve found the courtyard to a palace or council hall. Not particularly ornate, but it’s impressive in a solid sort of way. It’ll take a hell of a siege to knock this place over, although if their strategists are as bad as their architects, they’ll probably lose the war when the army leaves the front gates open.

Lots of weeds around, though. I know there’s a war on, but there are a couple of guards just standing around doing nothing right next to them. You’d think they could order them to have a quick hack at them with a sword when there’s nobody about. It’s not like an intruder could surprise them in a forty foot high stone corridor with only one entrance. I may write to the tourist board.

Inside it’s kind of… Romanesque? Renaissance-y? Iono, architecture and design are nice and all, but not really my area. I know what I like though, and this… hm. It’s more interesting than the bare, dark stone pit I was expecting, but not really my style. No, I don’t think I’ll be moving in here.

But wait, who’s that? I hear rumbly Serious Nord voices in the distance somewhere. Lots of echoing in here, too. I don’t think I could stand that. What if I wanted to bring someone home for the night? The whole palace would hear us. These two aren’t even screwing, and I can hear them from the other end of the building.

On the plus side, there’s a throne and an enormous cake.

Why is the table so far from the throne? I can’t be walking back to the table every time I want a sip of wine in the middle of a speech or whatever. I’d look like a weirdo. And what if someone else was talking? I’d have to sit there, hungry, watching my food go cold while they blather on about lumber or weaponsmithing or the beard tax.

This has not been a succesful viewing at all. Nice cake, though. The Jarl and his advisor (I assume) are off in another room connected by an archway, rumbling about the war and honour and empire and fabulous tights and so on. I’m starting to think that Jarls are really boring people. Time to leave, before they see me and drag me into some stupid errand, or realise that I’ve nicked their cake.

I head back outside and turn right, into what looks like another intestine-sized alleyway of grot, but quickly opens up into a little neighbourhood with a few very large detached houses.

This is much nicer. A bit ostentatious for me, but I don’t dislike it. Can’t say I blame the dark elves for being pissed off at the horrible little corner they’ve been given really, when the whiteboys are living in digs like this. Nice view of the mountain, too. Seems a waste not to have an elevated bit where you can look out over the land, or maybe hurl stuff at the elves and guffaw.

Further on, there are more monuments. This time, it’s a little graveyard-y place, full of candles, plinths, and a wee tree. They sure do love their monuments in Windhelm. I guess when life’s this ghastly, death must seem much more appealing. Still, it’s kind of got a nice feel to it. I stand for a while, slowly regarding the cold stones and … the other cold stones. I wonder how they light the candles at the top?

After a while, I see a door into what I take to be the corpsotorium. It’s underground, and rather spooky. With a hand on my axe, I walk carefully round, and eventually deduce that nobody’s home, living or otherwise. Only got slightly lost, too.

There is a little chapel though, with a shrine of… thing. seems like a good place to rest my legs for a while. I drop a flower in the bowl and set to ponderin’.

It’s been twelve days since I was dragged to Skyrim in chains. Despite some close calls, things are pretty good. I haven’t exactly made my fortune, but I’ve been quite comfortable, and even have money for the odd new toy or treat now and then. My skills… well. I get by.

I’m not really sure what it is I’m looking for in Skyrim. I want a little excitement, but without getting myself killed like some idiot. Everywhere I go, people seem to want a favour, but I really don’t fancy trudging dumbly into certain danger because someone else is too smart to go themself.

And I need to think about my future, too. If I’m going to make it here, I’ll first need to get really good at something, not just okay at several things, and secondly, I’ll need to start impressing people. In other words, it’s about time I got myself a reputation. A good one this time.

Time passes, as is time’s wont. Ymelda thinks long and hard about a course of action that will gain her some notoriety without getting her dragged into the stupid war or politics in general. She does not have the patience for all that nonsense. But the crappy state of Windhelm (ignoring its already morose design) may show the way forward – while everyone’s busy with war, the little guy’s going to need things doing that the guards can’t or won’t. There must be people who have proper, non-stupid work for me. If I can carry on wandering for a while, but spend some time getting things done instead, maybe my name will travel with me, and earn me a few extra coins.

So, time to hit the town I think.

Immediately outside, there’s a commotion. Hello! This could be just the opening I need to impress the locals. Step aside, witless peasants! I’m a herb gatherer!

What happened here? Oh damn. Someone’s dead. Really dead. People are gawking around a corpse while a guard … also gawks around the corpse. I speak to the guard, coincidentally named “Windhelm Guard”, and offer to help. I can shift a body, sure, whatever. Hell, the crypt is right behind us. We could probably just roll her right over there. Guard shrugs, and accepts my offer, asking me to question the nearby people. It occurs to me that for all she knows, I could have done this.

She is not a very good detective. Fortunately, I might be. Let’s find out!

Ladies and gentlemen, I have gathered you here in the study to revea… oh wait, that comes later. Gimme a minute, I can do this. Okay. Right. Suspect number one is a hooded chap, Helgird.

CONFESS, HELGIRD, YOU SON OF A BITCH. We’ve got all we need on you. You’re going daaan, you slaaag.

Oddly enough, bad cop isn’t working. I ask if Helgird killed the woman and he says no. Can’t have been him then. He didn’t even see anything, so he must be super-innocent. He did “notice” that she still had a coinpurse though, and tells me that this can’t have been about money. I’M ASKING THE QUESTIONS HERE, ASSHO… oh right, right. Witness, not suspect. Witness, not suspect.

Suspect Witness number two is obviously lower class, and therefore too stupid to kill anyone. Sociology!

Silda is her name, and she didn’t see anything either. Heard a scream though, which might mean something. Here’s me talking as though I know anything at all about murder investigations. I’ll be demanding ridiculous CGI sequences next, to explain complicated notions like ‘girl got stabbed, yo’.

The third witness is just some random guy walking past, so instead of asking him about the murdered girl whose still-twitching corpse we’re standing on, we have a little chat about the dark elf situation in town. Turns out he’s a bit of a hero to them, as he helps represent them in the Jarlhouse, and furthermore, the Jarl is both a total dickhole and Ulfric, the rebel leader who was with me when I crossed into Skyrim. So that’s why I’d heard of Windhelm! It’s the seat of the rebel leader. No wonder he’s annoyed, if these are the only holdings he has. A horrible lump of a town and a few acres of icy wasteland? Hell, who wouldn’t want to fight for a little more? If the emperor had any brains at all he could have defused this whole situation years ago by just giving the guy a nice village somewhere with more than two colours.

Brunwulf here seems reasonable, but has nothing to say about the murders (although he does start hinting that there’s another group of killers running around that nobody’s dealing with, and oh if only some kind passer by with an axe and a tatty green tunic would appear. Good luck!). Frankly he should be my number one suspect, but I guess “the guy found at the scene, with a weapon, who conspicuously refused to acknowledge the corpse and immediately changed the subject” isn’t as simple as just framing the nearest black g….

Oh damn. I just realised that I’m the nearest black girl. And now I’ve been seen at the scene! Shit!

It looks like I’ve been left out…

… in the cold.

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Snow Patrol

After a bitter and intensely fought battle against the forces of evil, or an all-night round of hide-and-seek against a little girl (I forget which), I turn in early in the morning, scoff some victory bread and victory cheese, then head off out of town to do some victory hunting.

Whiterun is pleasant, and I’ve barely touched the surrounding countryside, but I’m suddenly feeling very outdoorsy, and decide I should travel some more before I settle down. I’m on my way out of the main gate when I realise I should get a better weapon first, though.

By the main gate, it seems some Khajit (cat-people) have set up camp outside. Were they here when I came in? I honestly don’t know. Kind of hope not, otherwise I’m more of an idiot that I’d thought. There are tents and fires, and people working leather and generally camping about, so I say hello and chat a little. Most have nothing to say, but they’re friendly, and one is sat cross-legged in a tent.

Sitting cross-legged automatically means you’re pretty wise, and this guy is sitting cross-legged in the entrance to a tent, on a rug. He’s practically Cat Buddha. Ri saad is his name (I would personally have guessed “Tibbles”), and he tells me a little about his people. Seems that in Skyrim, catmen are essentially furry gypsies, and get shat on even more than most foreigners by the locals. There are several troupes of them milling about the province though, as they’re keen merchants and saw an opportunity for profit on the roads here, what with the war and all. Sort of makes sense.

As is typical of a Khajit, Ri saad complains that his people are unfairly stereotyped as criminals and thieves, then offers to sell me some lockpicks. Because there’s nothing worse than getting locked out of your tent, right? He also offers an axe.

An axe!

Shoot them in the eye, then lop off their arms! This is tempting. Okay, let’s do it. I’ll lose the speed of the dagger, but the axe will put some power into my blows. It took over a week, but with the armour, shield, healing spell and now an axe, I’m finally off the bottom rung of the badass ladder.

And with that, I decide to start afresh. Yo Bjorlam! Take me to … uh… where do you go again?

Oh, christ. Okay, I know Falkreath, and I’ve heard Solitude mentioned a few times. Can’t remember why or what anyone said about it, though. Does that mean I should go there because it’s famous, or that I should avoid it, because everyone was saying how terrible it is? Damn it. This is why I should pay attention.

Picking a town pretty much at random, I ask Bjorlam to take me to Windhelm. He tells me to climb in the back, so away we go!

It’s dark when I arrive. And oh my god is it cold. And unwelcoming. And miserable. I’ve only just got here and already this feels like a terrible mistake. I head into what I think is the … city? Town? Fort? It’s too dark to make out, but I seem to be walking across a huge bridge. It’s slow going and there’s nothing to look at. Really, I can’t even think of anything to say about it. It’s just drab and dull and depressing. Jeez. Maybe it’s nicer inside.

It is not nicer inside. I suppose I should just be glad the guards let me in, and haven’t torched the city to burn out the dragons or something equally cretinous. Come to think of it, this place looks like an invading army might have to actually fight to get in. Hmm. Maybe this is where the Nords hide their smart people?

The first people I meet inside the town are a couple of morons being racist at a dark elf. Ah. Maybe this is where the Nords hide their BNP?

Not sure if I can take these two, so I just hover nearby in case it turns really ugly, and eventually they leave. The elf asks if I’m a racist, too. I don’t think it quite works like that, dear. Disappointingly, there’s no conversation option starting with “I’m not racist but…”.

Great. So I’ve gone from happy, safe, relatively warm open country town, to a dark, frozen craphole full of bigots. I’d best watch my back around here. Good thing I bought that axe.

Up ahead is a large inn, set in the centre of the main square. Seems as good a place to start as any. Inside I face one of the racists, Rolff Stone-Fist, who blathers on about elf lovers and go back where you came from and coming over here stealing our jobs and if you like dark elf so much why don’t you go live there and I definitely don’t blame all my problems on a convenient bogeyman honest guv. Yawn.

You live in a world where an untrained, penniless foreigner with a criminal record can become self-sufficient within a week by picking flowers. And you’re, what, 35? Get over it, guy. You’ve nobody to blame for your failure of a life but you. And maybe the Bretons. Goddamn Bretons. Ooh, I can resist magic, ooooh. I’m so magical, it’s like, innate for me, oooooh lah de dah. I’m not boring at all!

“Everyone I love is dead. I’m so alone.”

“WHERE ARE THE IMPORTANT PEOPLE AROUND HERE, LITTLE MAN?”

Player characters are all heart. The inn is a bit dark and dull for me, and the bard is getting on my nerves already. I’d best look around town and see what else there is to do around here. And after doing that for a while, I don’t even know what to say. It’s … it’s just… it’s so depressing. Everything is cramped, overly tall stone alleyways and miserable little corners. I mean, look:

You might think that the path opens up into a square or something ahead, right? It doesn’t. It’s just more dreary grey corridors. I wouldn’t be surprised if I ran into Jack the Ripper.

On the plus side, there’s a door up ahead. Another dark elf, Revyn Sadri, owns a second hand shop, and what’s more, he has work for me. It’s a curious one. He’s come into possession of a stolen ring, and wants to give it back to its owner, Viola Giordano, without anyone finding out he bought from a thief. To do this, he’s willing to pay me to sneak into a woman’s house and shove the ring down the back of her sofa. I guess this could work. It shouldn’t be too tricky, and I could use an excuse to try out my sneaky skills without committing a real crime. Okay so there’s trespassing, but this is for a good cause. It’s un-theft. De-stealing. Antavarice.

Go on then. It’ll give me motivation for looking around some more, which I badly need before I take my own life. Following the alley round, I look into the New Gnisis Cornerclub, a dumpy, empty tavern with no beds. Where am I supposed to pass out? No thanks.

Between Revyn and the club’s single patron, I learn that this neighbourhood is where dark elf immigrants are segregated from the natives, because screw dark elves. The Jarl doesn’t really care, and they don’t go back home to Morrowind because Morrowind is an even more miserable dump than Windhelm. At least here they have individual dialogue, and job prospects beyond standing motionless in the rain for all eternity. That kind of thing matters in a home, you know?

Further ahead still, and down, is a large town gate. I push through, and find myself on the docks.

Is it daytime already? I can barely tell the difference. Everything’s so grey. I feel like my axe should have an underslung chainsaw attached. The dock is a little more lively than town, with a man doing the swordy-grindy-make-better thing, and a few sailors and guards knocking about. But the warehouses set into the wall are empty, dusty and dark, and the locals have nothing but tales of suffering and trouble with pirates and Bad Smugglers. That includes some offers of rewards, but I’m not about to go tangling with organised gangs any time soon.

Instead, I follow the city walls around (the city has walls! Actual walls! They go all the way round and everything), and with a hop and a jump over some icy slush, I’m away.

That’s a bit better. Still cold and desolate, but at least I’m away from those dingy corridors. I can’t see there being much of a profit out here, but it beats living in the ghetto.

Right away, I run into some fat, grey, shuffling things. Locust! No wait, the other one. Horkers!

It’s an unexciting fight. I loose a couple of arrows, since they’re hopelessly slow and I have lots of time, and hit them with my Fury spell. That has no real effect, as they’re already attacking me, but at least I know I can do it. They absorb a lot of punishment, but soon stop moving, and I take their meat and a tusk. That’s lunch paid for already.

Speaking of which. I pause to eat some apples and a bit of meat, then it’s off again into the snow, and man, does it feel like I’m wandering into a frozen wasteland. Screenshots can hardly do it justice. There’s a genuine sense of beauty edged with foreboding about the whole area. I don’t feel directly threatened – I can see anything coming a mile off – but, well. It won’t be an easy life out here, and the atmosphere says it loud. Click to embiggen!

Up ahead are some dark menhirs, and after cautiously passing between them, I think I spy a solitary figure up ahead, watching. Obelix?

By the time I’ve snuck up the hill to get a better look, there’s no sign of anyone. Bit creepy, but I probably just imagined it. And it turns out that these sinister-looking menhirs aren’t warding off some great evil, either. They’re to denote a shrine.

It’s a shrine of… candle?

I leave a thistle branch I picked up a few days ago as an offering, and receive a blessing from the god of candles, giving me +5 fire resistance and a 20% bonus to wax. And yes, I really should start paying attention to which gods I’m dealing with, one day.

There’s not much to say about the rest of the afternoon. It consists of clomping around in the snow, and despite being stark and monochrome, it’s surprisingly enjoyable. Snow is blown off drifts in dusty gusts of wind, distant howls of wind and animals alike offer some strange sense of company, and I totally shot a wolf in the face.

I’m already seeing the benefits of archery, despite my very low skill. Look at that! That was a sneak attack, too. Dozy mutt didn’t even know I was there. I also try my luck shooting at some rabbits, but they’re too small and flighty, and my aim needs work. It’s difficult to judge distances in this weather, although the combination of bright terrain and possession of a bow means I’m much more alert to distant movement. Here, for example, you probably can’t even see it, but there’s a man walking around ahead:

The way I see it, there are only two reasons for anyone to be wandering alone out here. The first is that it’s someone like me, and the second is that they’re up to no good. This guy can’t be me, because I’m me, and I’m already out here watching him. So clearly he’s up to no good. Quod erat demonstrandum, innit.

I move closer, and get into position to take the shot.

Aaaaaaand….

Pow! I got him! And er… well. You might have noticed that he’s no longer standing there, and figured he fell over dead, out of sight, right? Well, he didn’t. He turned invisible. This does not bode well.

Fortunately, he cancels his psychotic, invisible charge of vengeance when I put my bow away, which he interprets as a conciliatory sign of remorse rather than preparation to run screaming all the way back to Windhelm. So he reappears, ceases combat, and introduces himself as Talsgar the Wanderer, a poet. He’s inspired by the wilderness and adventures and so on, hence all the sinister lurking in the snow. Fair enough, I suppose. He’s an awfully good sport about my attempted murder, too. Maybe this happens to him all the time? He probably thinks this is just very dedicated heckling.

In any case, that shot took my archery skill up a notch, which in turn pushed me up a level. Hurrah! I pick another 10 points of stamina (figure I’m going to need to run a long way aaaaany second now), and the ‘overdraw’ skill, giving all my archery a damage boost. And since I’ve achieved something today, have a bag full of pelts, and it’s getting dark, it’s time to head back to town.

Along the way back, I chase down a goat to tell him about my new axe…

… ambush some more wolves…

… and there is posing:

Lots of posing.

I also arrive seconds too late to rescue an unknown hunter, who has somehow been cornered against the water by a horker, and subsequently gored to death. Oaf.

I kill the horkers and search his body, since I’ve no other way of finding out who he is and whether there’s anything I can do, but nope. I could tell the guards I suppose. I’m sure they’ll react with efficiency and professionalism to any situation that doesn’t call for immediately putting an arrow in someone’s eye. Aha. Ahaha. Ahahaha. Aaah.

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Filed under Skyrim, Ymelda Scrowles

The Girl who Played with Mila

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?

WOOOO!

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?

Dumbass.

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!

Aha!

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.

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Filed under Skyrim, Ymelda Scrowles

Jarlhouse, Rock

(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.

Yoink!

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…

Banzaaaai!

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.

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Filed under Skyrim, Ymelda Scrowles