Owlaf’s Adventure in Skyrim

(This is me typing in my experience from my more recent playthrough. I’ll try to keep a consistent character and limit fast travel as much as possible. I’m using a variety of mods, today’s highlight being Frostfall and Campfire, as well as Alternate Start: Live Another Life, and Become a Bard.)

It has been three days since I awoke at a strange place in the middle of nowhere. It was like I was on top of a glacier with stone towers jutting up out of the ice. The remains of a campsite was all around me, tents ruined, corpses burned. It was amazing that I was still alive. Whoever attacked us clearly didn’t want to leave any survivors.

Yet who could do such a thing? Why attack a mining expedition, if the manifest nearby was anything to believe. If there was an expedition, they must surely have died too.

I shivered. I suddenly realized I was only wearing a set of old mining clothes. I had a few apples, but that was it. The nearby chest was locked, but I had no lock picks. Not even a bobby pin.

I started running across the snow, hearing my boots crunching, just barely audible over the howling wind. Ah yes. Of course I would wake up in the middle of a freak blizzard over a freak glacier in the freaking north! Curses! I could barely see in front of me, which was why I almost ran into a man in black robes and nearly knocked him over. I skidded to a stop just in time, only to see him create fire in his hands and threaten to attack me. Nearby in the snow I saw another dark shape. A corpse. Freshly killed. I smelled it now. With the wind blowing so fiercely, it was hard to pick up any scents.

The mage tried to burn me, but I grabbed him and punched him in the chest, hard. And then he fell over dead. I was shocked he went down so easily, but then I realized maybe they were both mages and they just had a duel, so the fire mage was still injured when I happened upon them.

All well… they had robes. Much more coverage to protect me from the harsh elements. I slipped the robes on, as well as a hood, took whatever gold and other items of note they had on them, and then I continued to run south, through the blizzard, stumbling in the snow drifts as I went.

I seemed to travel up to a mountain, and through a narrow pass, then down the snowy slope. I smelled no further trouble, but my teeth were clattering. I was getting colder and colder by the second.

Then I smelled wood burning. Food cooking. People… I followed the smell as best I could, but as I got colder, I moved slower. I dragged my feet and eventually saw the building. Stumbling up to structure, I found a trap-door set into the ground right next to the building. I yanked on the ring, but the door was locked! I looked left and right, but I saw no other door.

Oh Gods above! Don’t tell me the door is on the other side of the house!?

I walked around the building. Around the first corner was only windows. The second corner revealed piles of firewood, a wooden porch, and the door! At last!

I took two steps… and then I fell to the ground and everything went black.

Hours later I awoke. Turns out I was just outside an inn, a tavern just off the road that was to the west of Windhelm. The Nightgate Inn, I discovered. I recovered slowly from the blizzard outside, sitting by the fire. I offered what little gold I had to the innkeeper, but he told me to keep it. He said it was the least he could do to save a poor soul from freezing to death. Of course he did offer food and drink for a price, but I barely had any gold to begin with. I asked for a map and he provided me with one. I guessed where I had come from and traced the route with my finger, stopping to tap the map over Nightgate.

It looked like I had quite a few options. The icy road would lead me east to Windhelm or west to other places. The road split into three directions, one going east to where I was at now. One south to Whiterun, one went west that eventually led to either Dawnstar or Morthal.

I had had enough of the northern parts of this realm… Skyrim is it? They should have called it Cold-Biting-Snow-rim. In fact, forget the “rim” part. Land of Cold-Biting-Snow would suffice. A bit long though, so Skyrim it is.

I rolled up the map and headed for the door.

“Are ye mad? There’s still a blizzard out there!”

“Oh, so I should just sit here, and do nothing whilst imposing on your hospitality without paying you any recompense? I can’t just sit and do nothing.”

“On your own head be it, but just remember if the snow doesn’t get to ya, the bandits will!”

“Bandits?”

“There’s a whole group of them hiding out in an old draugr crypt nearby, just to the east along the road. They’ll cut you to pieces if you don’t freeze to death first.”

I shrugged and said, “I have my fur, and I have my claws. I will return someday and repay you for your kindness, unless I become preoccupied with other things and then I forget. Warm sands friend.”

The moment I was outside, I started running again. I remembered smelling people before I collapsed outside Nightgate. The smell out here was not like the smell from in the tavern. The tavern smelled cleaner. Out here though, the blizzard wind brought me the bandit’s scent. I just didn’t realize it before.

If they could camp out here in the middle of nowhere and survive, then they had supplies, and who better to steal supplies from than from a den of thieves? Nobody would miss these bandits at all.

*   *   *

Night was falling. I had left the bandit’s lair well behind me. I found the place where the road split into three and I took the path that led me south. I had managed to pilfer quite a lot from the bandits’ lair. Mostly food that was still fresh, extra clothing, and some items I thought might be useful to sell. I also had a variety of weapons. Swords, daggers, a bow and some arrows. When I first approached the bandits I used my claws to attack the two sentries standing guard outside, but since then I decided to use a sword for attacking. For one thing, I couldn’t block as well with my fists, and for another thing the sword reached slightly longer than my claws could. I planned to use the bow to hunt for food, but the only thing to attack me on the roads was a pair of wolves.

Farther south I went until I finally was out of the blizzard. Night was almost here however and I knew I would have to find a place to bed down. Maybe there was another inn or tavern nearby. No, wait, that was a farm. I ignored it. The next two buildings were also farmhouses. Whiterun hold was nearby, but if I recalled right, the Nords didn’t like Khajiit in their cities. It was also why it was so hard for me to find work.

The land was no longer covered in snow at least. Tall yellow grass grew from the ground, fields of it rolling to the west while mountains rose to the east. And still I kept going south.

It was dark by the time I made it to a small village called Riverwood. I heard music cheerfully being played in the tavern called The Sleeping Giant. I remembered being a bit of a musician myself. I no longer had the instruments…

Thinking fast I went over to the lumber mill. I found a wood cutters axe and used it to chop firewood. That alone could have come in use when camping in the wilderness, but I had other plans. I had some animal pelts from the wolves I had killed earlier, as well as some of the supplies I had gotten from the bandits.

A few hours later I was ready.

I headed into the tavern and asked one of the owners if I could perform there. “Of course,” he said. I had to ask their local bard to take a break, then I produced my newly fashioned lute and played a couple of songs. The night was old though, and there were few patrons still there. Understandable. I did arrive in town just after the work for the day was completed, and I had to craft my musical instruments in the near-darkness of the blacksmith’s forge, but I had excellent night vision to aid me. And I could polish and style the lute later. For now, as long as it played music, it would do.

Once I was done, I collected my little pay from the innkeeper, and as a bonus he let me have a room for free. It was midnight when I finally laid down on the straw mattress and sighed before finally passing out.

Survived being frostbitten, killed bandits, and worked as a bard in a tavern. Not a bad day I guess. Not too bad. Bad for bandits, but not for me.

* * *

Rumors of unrest reached my ears the next morning. While I had breakfast of cheese and tea, I eavesdropped on a couple of farmers. Not too hard to do considering my ears. According to the gossip, the Jarl of Windhelm supposedly rode to Solitude to visit with the Jarl there, who was also known as the High King of Skyrim. From what I understood about the political workings of Skyrim, each hold in the land was governed by a leader called a Jarl, and one of those Jarls ruled over the others as High King, and the High King had to answer to the Emperor of Tamriel. From what I heard, it seems it’s not uncommon for a Jarl to travel to another hold to meet with their neighboring Jarls to discuss business or even just for a social visit, but that wasn’t the case a few days ago. It seemed Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak went to Solitude and challenged High King Torygg. A lot of the gossip is saying it was murder, and some even say Ulfric shouted at Torygg. I know not what he shouted about, but I figured they must have had an arguement and then Ulfric slayed the King with a sword or axe or something. But shouting him to death? Right. Sure he did.

Rumor had it that there was something going on at Helgen keep, a military outpost of the Empire. Maybe the Imperials were marshaling their forces to try to apprehend Jarl Ulfric, who knows. There was a caravan of horses and carts a few days ago in the mountains, according to some other gossip. The only other thing I heard was the tavern wench yelling at one Orgnar to get a fresh batch of ale in. Potatoes in his ears, really! I chuckled at that under my breath. I left a septim on the table as a tip for my breakfast, then I shouldered my backpack of things and left town.

I was somewhere between Riverwood and Helgen when I thought to myself, Wait… wasn’t there a general goods store where I could sell this junk I looted from the bandit lair? Bugger! Growling to myself, I trudged uphill, slipping occasionally on an icy rock. I was walking through small amounts of snow again before long.

Once the walls of Helgen appeared at the top of a rise I quickened my pace. I was very close when I heard a large beast roaring. My eyes nearly popped out of their sockets when I saw it. A DRAGON! A large black creature with two hind legs, the front limbs being massive wings that made the air vibrate when it flapped them, long neck and tail, the tail ending with barbs and spikes, and the head roughly triangular with impressive looking horns and fiery eyes. It roared again as it flew up into the air.

I ducked behind a rock as it flew overhead, and I turned and watched through a shrub as the beast flew off into the distance. When it vanished over the mountain ranges in the north, I looked back at Helgen expecting more dragons to appear. None did, but I did notice the smoke rising from behind the city walls. The wind shifted so I could see it now, and it also brought horrible smells to me. Burned wood, charred flesh, blood…

I ran up to the gates of Helgen and pulled them open. A scene of devastation met my eyes. Houses that once belonged to simple people were burning down. Rubble from one of the towers lay across the road. I could see bodies burnt beyond recognition. I went through the village trying to search for survivors. When I saw a woman holding an infant, both of which were burned to death, I lost hope. There were no survivors at all.

The last corpse I examined had a journal that miraculously escaped damage. It told of how the guards captured Ulfric Stormcloak and a band of his rebels, as well as a horse theif. They had stopped at Helgen and they were prepared to execute Ulfric and his men. My guess was the journal was actually more of a log-book and the soldier who owned it was some sort of scribe, writing down events for posterity.

I flipped through the book. One of the last notes was that the horse-thief tried to make a run for it and was shot with arrows. The first person to be beheaded was a soldier who shirked his last rites. A note about loud roaring in the distance.

Then the lower half of the page was covered in ink. My guess was the scribe got quite startled when the dragon attacked.

Sure enough on the next page, the writing was no longer neat and well written, but messy and jagged as if hastily scrawled by a shaking hand from a panicky person. It told of how a dragon suddenly appeared. Of thunderous noises, rocks falling from the sky for a brief moment, then the dragon flying around and breathing fire. The scribe took refuge in the building, writing down the sounds of devastation around him. The last things he wrote was some dribble about the end-times, and noting some soldiers went into the keep to find some escape tunnel that let out to the north of town.

I closed the book and left the city, heading back north to look for a cave of some kind.

* * *

An hour or so later, I left the blacksmith’s house. Hadvar would be staying over for the next few days, but I decided to move on. Hadvar was the only survivor from Helgen, who was injured in the tunnels leaving the keep. Luckily I had a healing potion that I had looted from the bandit lair the day before and he was able to drink it to heal himself. Afterwards I escorted him back to Riverwood, where his uncle was a blacksmith. Hadvar told us much of what I already read in the scribe’s journal, about how a dragon attacked the keep just before Ulfric could be executed for murdering the High King of Skyrim. I was right about one thing at least: The Imperials were marshaling their forces to bring justice to Ulfric, but I never would have guessed they could capture Ulfric so soon, or that a dragon would appear. Hadvar thinks Ulfric Stormcloak escaped in the confusion. I only hoped there were other survivors besides soldiers. Women and children lost their homes today.

I had been about to set out on my journey again when a passing courier offered to sell something. The Black Horse. I once heard of it. It had been a newspaper that was originally printed in the Empire, but for the last two hundred years or so it hasn’t been printed. It used to be founded by the Empire so every copy was free. But now, sadly, it wasn’t. I had to buy the latest edition. The courier offered a subscription, but I refrained since I had little gold.

The latest edition talked about the rumors of dragons and of the attack on Helgen (A pretty fast publication I thought), and of vampire attacks in cities. The article on vampires mentioned the Vigilants of Stendarr. Vigilant, eh? A word that means someone who takes the law into their own hands. Apparently these vigilants hunt down daedra, witches, werewolves, and vampires. Their hold was up north. I decided to check them out and see if it was a faction worth joining.

* * *

Most likely not. While the leader of the Vigilants offered restoration magic training, I refrained from doing so because of the little gold I had. I also had no love for their holdings. Their headquarters was surrounded by snow. Enough snow! I had enough.

Before I left however, I did look around and saw they had a great many items of worth. I decided if they wouldn’t offer me membership, then I might as well take some of their supplies off their hands before I headed out to the cold, unforgiving wilderness.

My packs were much fuller before I left, but I did manage to steal many alchemy ingredients, potions, and a mace.

I know. I was trying to turn a fresh leaf, but I thought to myself, when would I ever set foot in the Hall of the Vigilants ever again?

* * *

And now here I was. Trudging along the path at night. A single torch I had stolen from the Hall, illuminating my path ahead, my boots crunching on whatever snow covered the cobblestone path.

When I awoke a few days ago at those ruins on the glacier, I had no memory of how I got there. I didn’t seem to remember my life before then, but I was beginning to feel a bit familiar with what I was doing now. Travelling from place to place, robbing from the rich, and keeping everything for myself. Well, maybe not entirely true… I had to get rid of my stolen goods to a fence after all. And then there was the incident in… in… Cyrodiil? Did I live in Cyrodiil and some point in my past?

Yes! I was born in Elsweyr, but I had traveled north to Cyrodiil to seek my fortune and I had ended up stealing from a great many houses in my time there. The last burglary I attempted failed abysmally, and they threw me into a jail cell to rot in for the rest of my life.

I wound up becoming so thin that I was able to squeeze through a drain in the floor and dig my way into the sewer system and make my escape. I had decided it wasn’t safe for me to rob anyone in Cyrodiil for a long while, so I fled north to Skyrim. For a time, I considered I should try to go straight; just stop stealing for a change and try to be an honest khajiit. I figured I should keep a good profile and stay out of trouble, or eventually I would be unwelcome in every province in Tamriel.

Well, the last job I took was that excavation team in the far north. I wasn’t the only khajiit on the team, our group was quite large in fact, but after that bandit raid, I was knocked unconscious and they thought I was dead. When I woke, I had lost my memory.

And now here I was, becoming a thief all over again. And after all the trouble I went through to avoid trouble! I growled to myself. What was the point of trying to go straight when there was always a bandit or another thief that would take advantage of you anyway? Maybe that’s why I wanted to be a thief more than anything: so I could steal from others before they stole from me.

I frowned and glanced over my shoulder. Nobody was following me. As I went on, I decided on a pact: I would not steal from anyone unless they could afford it, or they had stolen first. Bandits and other highwayscum was fine. Nobility in the cities, probably okay. Somebody who vexed me or who I didn’t like, definitely. But never from farmers or poor people. Didn’t seem fair to me that a miner who broke his back day after day break stones apart to find gemstones should get paid a pittance when the gems went right to a fair lady who did absolutely nothing to earn it, you know? People who never did an honest day’s work in their lives but were filthy rich anyway? Yeah, share the wealth! I’d be willing to steal from the rich and give to the poor in some way.

I resolved to steal gold from the next rich person I saw, and use the septims to buy some produce from the market and share it with the next beggar I saw.

Maybe…

The cold air blew gently, and I tugged on my hood a little, trying to block it from my face. I walked on, and on…

I’d would have run if I wasn’t carrying so much!

* * End * *

 

(This is a work of fiction based on my gameplay of the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Some of this is based on actual gameplay while other parts will be invented by my own imagination. No copyright infringement is intended.)

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