Monday, October 14, 2013

An Imperial in Skyrim, Pt. 3

Valtheim Towers - and more bandits

(Continuing the adventures of Willam Kingsman in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim from this post. The entire series is here.)

When Erandur and I headed east from Whiterun, heading towards Riften, we encountered the usual bandits and other dangers on the road. Really, I'm getting to expect that now.

We even fought another vile necromancer. This was a young woman - very young - and I would have let her live, but she attacked us on sight with blade and magic, and sent a skeleton warrior against us, too. If I'd been on my own, she might have killed me, but she had no chance against the two of us.

Further along the road, we stopped to make camp by a stream, on the bank of which, when we went to get water, we discovered the body of a young peasant girl. Something had been gnawing on it. There were other bodies nearby, too, and we followed a bloody path to a dark cave.

Entering, we discovered trolls - and yet more bodies. It was horrible! To me, trolls seem to partake of both animal and human, making their dietary choices especially disgusting. And most of the bodies seemed to be of complete innocents, probably snatched off the road nearby.

I could barely speak, I was so angry - not at the trolls, but at the foolish people, busy fighting among themselves, who'd let the roads get this dangerous. That idiotic revolt was taking the Nords' attention from everything else, and their own people were paying the price. I was still angry as we left camp the next morning, and that probably explains what happened next.

Lucky's house, with just the foundation constructed

We stumbled upon a crumpled shack and a poor, dead Nord, ironically called "Lucky." He'd been working to build a home in the wilderness - we found his carefully described plans [this is the Build Your Own Home mod] - when a falling tree had crushed his dreams and himself.

I was still angry at the deaths we'd found the day before, and I got madder and madder as we dug a grave for Lucky. Here was a guy fighting back against the anarchy in his land. Building a house in the wilderness, far from any town, he was doing his part to civilize Skyrim. That's what it took, brave people willing to build, instead of destroy - and risking their life in the process.

So we started cleaning up. Lucky hadn't gotten too far, but we chopped up the tree which had killed him, cleared the debris, and then rebuilt the foundation of his house. I hadn't meant to go even that far, but it felt good to build, rather than kill, for a change. So we kept going, following Lucky's own plans.

At one point, we made a quick trip back to Whiterun to fetch supplies. Arriving in the middle of the night, such was our haste, we were ambushed by vampires. There really is a vampire problem in Skyrim, apparently. The next time we needed supplies, we headed towards Riften (as we'd originally planned).

Foolishly, we got lost on the road and ended up almost in Windhelm. As an Imperial, I wasn't sure how I'd be welcomed there (although the Stormcloaks we've met on the road have been civil enough), so we turned around and took what looked like a shortcut over the hills. And yeah, we made it to Riften after only getting lost one more time. :)

Lucky's house - mine, now - after some work

Erandur hadn't said a word about Riften before then, but it turned out he wasn't especially happy about our going there. Me, I really liked the weather down there, but Erandur kept muttering about how Riften contained "the worst Skryim has to offer" (apparently because of the thieves guild and the widespread corruption in the city).

Not that I didn't sympathize. We met a lovely young woman who'd been trying to clean up the town - all by herself, apparently - but it appeared to be a hopeless cause. And then I discovered that the man I'd come to see - a man who supposedly knew something about those women abducted in Dawnstar - was a member of the thieves guild, and that I'd have to join the guild myself before I could even talk to him!

By then, my opinion of Riften pretty much matched Erandur's. [One thing I dislike about Skyrim is that you apparently can't fight against the thieves guild, and indeed, you miss out on a lot if you don't join it. So it's hard to roleplay a decent character. Instead, you're always encouraged to play an amoral character - helping people when it's in your own best interests to do so, but harming them when that's better for you, instead.]

Again, my disgust probably caused me to react against it - more so than perhaps I would have otherwise. At any rate, we agreed to help an old alchemist by picking up an ore sample at Shor's Stone, a small mining village not far away. And when we got there, we volunteered to help clear the mine of the giant spiders infesting it, too.

Finally, we took a bunch of letters to a young woman's family, and brought their replies back to her. (Coincidentally, this woman knew Erandur, since he'd been passing through town on his way to Darkstar when she'd been injured, and as a priest of Mara, he'd healed her.) [Unfortunately, they didn't recognize each other, which was rather disappointing. Her story seemed to imply quite clearly that Erandur was the priest of Mara who'd healed her, but the two of them didn't interact at all.]

We set up camp [the Camping Lite mod]

Anyway, it was this little side trip, not far at all, which resulted in a very unusual experience. We'd entered a small cave - with just a single troll inside - to discover a beautiful magic bow and a chest with a strange gem inside. And when I touched the gem, a demanding, otherworldly voice commanded me to take it to Mt. Kilkreath.

As it turned out, I'd never heard of Mt. Kilkreath - well, I'm new to Skyrim, after all - but Erandur thought it was somewhere far, far to the northwest. I did discover that the voice belonged to a Daedric Lord - one of the few benevolent Daedric Lords - named Meridia, and that she shares my hatred of necromancers. So we might want to check it out.

On the other hand, I still haven't talked to the Dawnguard, per their invitation. And I'm thinking I might want to find out more about the war talk I'm hearing everywhere, too. We've been directed to Helgen for that. [Since I'm playing with that alternate start mod, and I haven't yet been to Helgen, I haven't discovered that dragons have returned to Skyrim. Now, I'm not particularly interested in the main quest, but I would like to encounter dragons in my travels throughout the land, so I need to get there soon.]

So I'm not sure where we'll go next. I'll have to talk it over with Erandur. We're still working on Lucky's house - ours, now, since we discovered the deed on his body - but it's expensive to get all the supplies we need. Erandur doesn't like Riften, and neither do I, much [I'm still disappointed that we can't help Mjoll the Lioness clean up the town, opposing the thieves guild instead of joining it], so we probably won't stick around here.

On the other hand, I'm not in a big hurry to head north into the ice and snow again, either. So I'll have to see. Maybe we'll explore west. [In my previous play of Skyrim, I didn't go west at all, so that's all new territory for me. Then again, there are a million dungeons elsewhere that I haven't seen yet, either.]

Note: This entire series can be found here.

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