Saturday, November 12, 2011

Skyrim Journal #1

I did not ask for this, but someone will pay.


The boarder to Skyrim is not clearly marked, and I had been wandering the cold woods for weeks, so I had no idea there was any danger beyond packs of wolves and the occasional bear. I was, admittedly, on the run from other dunmer who did not share my opinions on work and how much anyone owns anything. Why should I, who has nothing, think twice about taking food and money from those who have everything and are not smart enough to take the time to enjoy it? The choice was to either stand, fight, and most likely die or run and not stop running. I ran, ill prepared, hungry, frightened and injured, I ran.


I remember warnings from my childhood about the cold of Skyrim, how it was as much of an enemy as anything with teeth and claws, but I did not believe them. That first night, huddled beneath the skirt of a pine tree, unable to even build a fire to keep myself warm, I gave up. I surrendered myself to be eaten by the next animal that approached. Nothing came, the stench of cowardice was enough to fend them off, I told myself, but I knew I was just lucky. A wood elf, a dunmer, unable to fend for himself in a forest? For the very first time I was disgusted with myself, second guessing my thieving ways. 


Out of the corner of my eye I say a rabbit, nosing at the few bits of food I had thought to bring along. It was innocent, only doing what was natural to it, and it enraged me. How dare this thing take what belongs to me! I wheeled my bow around and notched an arrow, pulled the string back, the stopped just long enough to appreciate the irony of the situation. I was this rabbit, stealing bits from people who should not have noticed, fleeing when they did.


I killed it anyway.


From that day forward I lived a feral existence, stealing from nature what I needed to survive. Long dormant skills with the bow bubbled up, and I was lighter and quieter on my feet that I have ever been. I had stumbled upon a group of pale men, nords I believed, that were speaking in hushed tones in spite of no one being within ear shot. Their gold and weapons did not interest me, but their clothing did, so I waited. I watched. So focused was I on the kill that I was caught in the same ambush that so surprised my prey, knocked out from behind by the pommel of a sword, and thrown in the back of a wagon with the rest of them.


When I awoke my bow was gone and my hands bound. The men were talking to each other, still in hushed tones, and did not notice right away that I was watching and listening. Finally the largest of them turned and I recognized him from the camp: I was going to kill him first. There was bravery in his words, but also fear, as he slowly explained where they were being taken. He spoke of rebellions and leaders and the tyranny of the empire, none of which I understood. I was not so resigned to me death, and while I was not innocent, I knew that this was not meant for me.


This large nord never stopped talking. It was actually a relief when the cart stopped and we were herded out into a well defended courtyard. There were guards posted in every tower, along every wall, and more in the buildings with arrows trained on us. A bit much for seven men and an elf. The leader of their group noticed that I was not on their official list of beheadings for the day, and I had the faintest glimmer of hope that they would simply let me go. But no. 'Just a dunmer,' he said, 'kill him anway.'


I could not believe that these men simply stood in line waiting to be killed in this way. They bragged on about honor, which is meaningless after your head has been separated from your shoulders. One did finally try to make a run for it was was brought down quickly by arrows, but at least he died on his feet. These other fools did nothing. I went over escape possibilities in my head as I watched the first man die. A bit anti-climactic, actually. The axe came down and he stopped moving, nothing more. The bastards called for me next. I was in a panic. There was nothing I could do and was going to die cowering on my knees. A distraction, something to turn them from me for just a few moments would be all I would need. I could disappear back into the forest, head back to my own lands.


There was noise that I am afraid I cannot describe. Something like a werewolf, but much larger, and it was coming from the sky. Then there was fire. Then there was screaming, panic, and the smell of flesh burning. I looked up from the block and caught the glimpse of wings through the smoke before the walls came down.


Once more I ran. Tied, burned, terrified, I ran.


The imperial commander came upon me and feigned authority. 'Come with me, prisoner,' he yelled. I laughed, and he might have killed me if the there was not another explosion behind him. Then the talkative nord appeared and asked me to follow. At least he might let me out of my chains. We retreated to the basement of the castle and he did indeed free me, just in time to kill a few soldiers who followed us in. As one died he muttered something about a dragon and I finally put together the bit and pieces of what I saw. A dragon. I thought they were long since gone, but the sounds of the castle above being destroyed said otherwise.


I was with this nord for quite some time, all the while my impression of him deteriorating. He never stopped talking, spinning tales about people and places that I have never heard of. He also wasn't very bright; it took him hours to finally give me, a dunmer, his bow. Watching him fire it had been torture, and when we made our escape from the castle I did not give it back to him. He suggested that I see his sister in the next town, Riverwood he called it, and I took my leave of him by ducking into the next cave I could find. The silence was wonderful, broken by a cadre of bandits that had also taken up residence. I killed them, one by one, until the quiet returned.


Their food tasted terrible, but it was better than starving.




...


Eventually I did make it to Riverrun, weighed down by the weapons and armor I had stolen from the bandits who no longer needed them. It was late, but there was one shop still open. The nords inside were arguing about something, a golden claw that had been stolen, and they did not notice me at first. After they composed themselves I was greeted warmly, something I was not expecting. 'Nice to see anther wood elf,' the man said, 'make sure you stop by a few doors down, another of your kind has been living here for quite some time.' After unloading my wares, with no questions asked or course, I asked about the golden claw they were fighting about. The man promptly launched into a long tale of finding the claw and it bringing him luck, then having it stolen two night ago by thieves whose hideout was on the other side of the lake.


'You look like you can handle yourself, do think you could look into getting it back?' The woman beside him, his sister, clucked her tongue at him.


'Bringing strangers into your problems. Just like you.' 


I was interested enough to get more details, and also did not want to be in town to meet this other wood elf, so I accepted his proposition, planning to keep the claw for myself once I obtained it. The woman led me to the edge of town and bid me good luck. If these bandits were anything like the ones I had faced previously in the cave, loud, drunk and with little skill, this would not be a problem.


...


The first few sets of guards I ran into were exactly what I expected. They panicked as the first arrow came out of the shadows, yelling into the darkness, then crying in pain as the second and third arrows pierced them. As I got deeper into the complex and the walls changed from man made brick to much older cave formations they got a little better, but still not as fearsome as a few wolves or a single angry bear. It took a giant spider falling from the ceiling, blinding me from across the cave with precise shots of venom, to finally break my hubris. The spider could see into my dark corners and did not succumb to pain as a man would, so it was only by attrition that it finally fell. I was standing over it, catching my breath and harvesting its venom, when someone called to me from the shadows. It another nord, a thief from the looks of him, that had been captured by this spider. He was strung up in a doorway, already packaged as a meal. He begged me to cut him down, offered me money and assistance if I would do so, but it was not until I asked him about the golden claw that he gave me a good reason to actually save him from his plight.


This thief said that he had indeed stolen the claw, that he had it right now, and that it was actually a key to greater riches further down in the cave. I did not believe him, but I did need to cut him down to proceed, and I should not have been surprised when he ran off as soon as he hit the ground. I put an arrow in his back and he still did not fall, forcing me to chase him, annoyed at my terrible aim. He finally turned to face me and was rewarded was several more arrows in the chest, all of which missed the golden claw he had in his sack but were rendered dull and un-usable by his armor. I should have slit his throat before cutting him down.


I was curious about this treasure he mentioned, so against my better judgement I ventured deeper into the caves. There I met undead creatures much tougher than any of the live nords I had faced so far. They swung giant two handed swords in arcs so wide that they could block the entire hall way, forcing me to retreat. At least they couldn't move very fast, but a hit or two still found their mark on me and I was forced to dip into my small supply of healing potions. Wonderful things, I have no idea how they work, but I will steal every last one of them I can.


The cave turned into catacombs, filled with more of the same monsters, until it opened up into a cavern whose ceiling was so high that I could scarcely see its limits. In the center was a single stone coffin, undoubtedly belonging to someone quite important, surrounded by a wall covered in words that I could not read. As I approached I heard a noise, not with my ears but somehow in my mind. It was the same sound the dragon had made as it by chance rescued me, a screaming roar, but this time I could make out what sounded like words. The characters on the wall began to shimmer, and for a just a moment, I could read them. I knew what they meant, there was great power there just out of reach, but before I could make any sense of it the coffin behind me fell open. It was indeed an important man, judging from the weapon he still held in his dead hands, and it was only by luck that I manged to defeat him.


It was a nice axe. Pity I cannot wield it. The shop owner asked many questions about it when I returned with the claw, and I answered none of them. I am only returning the claw to him so I can steal it back later. I predict his sorrow will be delicious.


...


Much more has happened that I cannot fit into this journal. I now have a house that used to belong to some kind of alchemic witch. She doesn't need it anymore, and it will provide a nice base of operations. I eventually made my way to Whiterun where I have found myself involved in both the fighters guild and city politics. It should be interesting to see if I can get them to kill each other before I get bored and do it for them. They have some very nice things that would like much nicer in my possession.


I did not ask for any of this. This land and its people, some one will pay. They all will pay.

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