One Crazy Week

(Told from the Khajiit’s point of view, my character Amaki’Dar, in Skyrim)

The forgemaster is dead, long live Amaki’Dar, Forgemaster of the Aetherium Forge! I claim this place in the name of moonsugar!

Well, I managed to get to the last Aetherium shard and I found out where the forge was. It was hidden deep underground, far deeper than any place I had been to yet, and the forge itself had several defense systems in store. The moment I arrived there was steam everywhere, and I had to turn two wheels to shut that down. That triggered the machinery. Mechanical spiders and the like came out, and I had to cut them down. Then the largest of them all, a centurion, came out of the lava, much to my amazement, but I managed to make that one fall to pieces.

At last we shut down the steam and got to work on the forge. It meant destroying the key I had with me, and all those Aetherium shards I had collected, but now that the forge was opened, there was no need for it, and the Aetherium itself was very rare indeed. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to find any more of it. So I had the option of forging one of three items. One was a head piece that would let me have two standing stone blessings at once. It sounds nice, but it would mean giving up my helmet and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that (in order for the two standing stone blessings to work you have to have this head piece on). The other was a shield that could turn enemies ethereal for 15 seconds when they are bashed so they cannot harm me and I cannot harm them. Sounds like a nice tactic but I’m an archer, and I sometimes wield daggers or swords in close combat. Shields is a bit harder to do. So I passed on that. The last thing is a staff that would summon a Dwemer Spider or Sphere for 60 seconds. Sounds like fun! I go ahead and make that.

And I still haven’t used it.

In between the last shard and the forge however, I made a visit to a new city, or old one anyway. Riften has a sinister reputation, from what I’ve heard. It’s supposed to be home to the thieves guild. Being a grave robber and tomb raider myself, I figured, what difference would it make? As I approach, the city guard tells me to I have to pay the visitor’s tax, which I didn’t pay as I told the guard this had to be a shakedown. He told me to keep my voice down and he let me inside the city with no charge.

I walk past some locals who say they had a run-in with the thieves guild, and I pass one guy who looks like a bouncer for a bar and I manage to bribe him to get more information. Turns out a family called the Black-Briars have Riften in their pocket, and they run the thieves guild and have good contacts with the Dark Brotherhood (which is a group of assassins). 

I go into the inn, and a man named Brynjolf, who owned a potions stand in the marketplace. Turns out he was one of the higher members of the thieves guild looking for new members. He asks me to steal a silver ring and plant it on another person, and I do so easily without getting caught. Brynjolf thinks this looks promising and  decides to extend membership to the guild. Once I got in good with them, I went to Goldenglow estate to clear out the safe and burn down three (out of six) bee hives. Turns out there was a bill of sale in the safe along with a  little gold, and I bring it to Brynjolf. This doesn’t look good, and then I go see Maven Black-Briar, who sends me to Whiterun to help take over Honningbrew Meadery. Short version of that story is it’s now being converted to the Black-Briar Meadery West. And yet before I did the Honningbrew Meadery job, I met a man named Sam who challenged me to a drinking contest. I won, but woke up in Markarth after a night I couldn’t remember. I ended up traveling all across Skyrim following a trail of clues to find Sam, because he owed me a staff for winning that drinking contest. Eventually I found him, and it turns out Sam is Sanguine, the Deadric Prince of Debauchery. Knowing I was dealing with an immortal and very powerful being, I didn’t dare insult him or get angry with him. He wound up giving me the staff I had been looking for, and then sending me back to the tavern in Whiterun! “Now… where was I? Oh yeah, Honningbrew… right.”

Along the way I take on small jobs to pick locked safes in shops and change the numbers in their record books, all of which profits the thieves guild. I found a golden honeybee statue in Goldenglow estate, and a golden beehive stature in Honningbrew. Both of these items are on display that the thieves guild HQ, though I wish they were still mine and that I could have a trophy curio cabinet to put them in. Oh well. I got good gold for those items anyway.

Pardon me. Do you have any Gray Poupon?

I took the jump off the Bard’s Leap and lived to see a ghost congratulate me. I also spot the Headless Horseman… this is the third time I’ve seen him actually, which is sort of creepy. He’s pretty easy to spot in the distance, and up close you can plainly see that he head is gone. He never stops or says anything. Maybe one night if I see him again I might try to chase him. But it’s hard to do that on foot. over 10,000 gold pieces and I don’t have a horse. My feet are killin’ me!

At one point I had to go to Solitude to do several things. Firstly I had to speak to an Argonian who had ties to the thieves guild, and see if he can tell us the person who’s been buying our customers. I manage to persuade him to tell me as much as he can but he won’t give me the name of the buyer. He eventually leaves, and I tail him all the way down into the warehouse for a big trading company. He winds up going down into a series of caverns where I discover bandits that are smuggling goods out of the company… So… turns out our Argonian friend is a very naughty lizard. I manage to get to him and he comes clean, telling me that the buy was Karliah. I then learn that she used to be in the thieves guild, but had killed the previous guild master and was on the run. Now armed with that info, and a vague clue of where she currently is, I return to solitude to do another job.

The second job I had to do was talk to a wood elf, who would smuggle my things into the Thalmor Embassy for me. Meanwhile I’d go into the Embassy through the front door as a party guest. I came face-to-face with Elenwen, who seems to be the leader of the high elven group. I manage to avoid giving her my name and I seek out a patron to chat with. One person is Maven Black-Briar, but I avoid her. No need to let people know we’re connected via the Thieves Guild, but I do wonder what she’s doing here. I shrugged my shoulders and moved on. I saw that the Jarl Idgrod Ravencrone was there, and I’m Thane of Hjaalmarch, so I ask her to cause a distraction, which she agrees to, saying “an old woman can get away with anything!” I wish I could stay and listen/watch what goes on during the distraction, but I had a job to do. If I could, I’d have started a food fight. Instead I slip into the kitchens and head through the backdoor and start to infiltrate the embassy. My job: to find out what the Thalmor know about the dragons returning.

Turns out they knew nothing at all. Then I looked into some of their info-books, and I saw they had books on Ulfric Stormcloak and on Delphine. They don’t knwo where Delphine is, and as far as Ulfric is concerned, it seems the Thalmor would prefer that the civil war remains the way it is now. They don’t want an imperial victory, but a rebel victory is also to be avoided. Hmmm! So the Thalmor don’t care who wins in Skyrim, as long as the war remains stagnate. Maybe I’ll go kill that ice wraith and join up with the Stormcloaks. I’d rather join them instead of the Imperials any day, considering that the Imperials planned to chop of my head on day one!

I go down into the dungeons and find that the Thalmor were torturing a prisoner for information, and it was a member of the thieves guild. The Thalmor now know there is a Blades agent in the Ratway, the underground area of Riften. I save the thief, being one myself, and rescue him. The wood elf who helped smuggle my things in is caught, and i saved him as well. Now the Thalmor will be after him for the rest of his life. Well… now’s a great time to travel the world, always be on the move! Haha.

I tell Delphine about Esbern, the other Blades agent in the ratway, and I go and save him. Once these two are reunited, they tell me about Alduin’s Wall, which is a wall carving that contains history and prophesy. It showed that Alduin was defeated once before, and that the warriors who brought him down used a shout. I don’t know which shout it is yet, but I’m hoping I’ll find it.

Before I return to the Greybeards though, I join up with the Companions. I’m a werewolf now. A Khajiit werewolf. A cat that turns into a dog. Go figure!

So yeah… lots of stuff going on. Whew!

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Lockpicking and Pickpocketing 101/Solving a mystery in Windhelm

Once I left Whiterun, I traveled north and veered to the east, following a trail through some mountains until I found some Dwemer ruins. Several bandits were inside, but I didn’t deal with them at all. Being the silent Khajiit that I am, I keep to the shadows and sneak past most of them, only stopping to pickpocket one or two along the way. Once I’m past the bandits, I start to encounter metallic beasts that resemble spiders with too few legs. A single shot from my bow tends to render them useless and motionless, and upon further examination, their innards tend to be made of metal parts that I cannot use to any end, but some things like gemstones and soul gems I take for my own uses later. They also have some sort of liquid substance that’s black as pitch and seems as gooey as tree sap though not sticky. Pretty slick stuff actually. I take as much dwarven oil as I can and keep going. Eventually I start to encounter larger automatons that guard the Dwemer ruins – spheres that open up to reveal a warrior with blades for arms, but a few strikes from my arrows causes them to fall to pieces for my perusal.

I spend ten minutes picking this locked chest, and when I get it open I find a potion to enhance lock picking by 40% for 30 seconds. Grr. Argh.

I will say that at one point during my exploring of these ancient Dwemer ruins, I came upon a chest that had a very wickedly complicated lock. It seemed to be one that only a master could pick and I broke a dozen or two lock picks trying to open it. After five minutes or more of work and I finally open it with a satisfying click. Looking inside, you won’t believe it. First thing I laid eyes upon was a philter of lockpicking. I almost smashed it against the floor in frustration. Instead I rolled my eyes and asked, “Why weren’t you in my pocket before I picked the lock!?”

I soon come upon a large chamber with gears that seem to be struggling to turn, and upon closer inspection I find that they’re clogged with a variety of things. Everything from Dwemer scrap metal to bones and skulls. I pry them loose and the gears turn normally, and upon the press of a button, the drawbridge lowers and reveals a gargantuan machine. It made me think that if the Dwemer tried to replicate a giant with their machinery, this would be close. Rather than wait to see if he’s smash me to pieces, I aim carefully and try to lodge as many parts of it loose. It falls apart after several hits and topples into the water. I cross the bridge and enter the chamber the large machine was blocking and find the third piece of Aetherium I had been looking for. Once I make my way out of the ruins, and back into the cold mountain air with a sigh of relief, I set off to the east. The city I arrive at is Windhelm, the main headquarters of the Stormcloaks and home of their leader, Jarl Ulfric.

A vampire is at the scene of the attack and they need an investigation to be done? Seriously?!

When I first enter the city, two Nords are arguing with a Dunmer (dark elf), but shortly afterwards, cries of help sound from somewhere in the city nearby and people start to panic. I draw my bow and run towards the sounds. In the town cemetery was a whole crowd of people surrounding a dead body that was naked and slashed horribly and left lying over one of the graves, and a man dressed in black starts attacking everyone in sight, and it is soon realized that he is a vampire! Two hell hounds are also there and are snapping at people’s ankles. I managed to get one arrow at the vampire, but several guards put an end to the ruckus right away.

Then most of the guards go back to their patrols and most of the people leave, except for three civilians and one guard. Turns out that the vampire was new in town and had nothing to do with this particular murder and was just out for a bite to eat perhaps. As for the dead woman with the horrible slashes and wounds, it’s the latest victim in a string of murders to be plaguing the city. It’s the work of “The Butcher” and nobody knows what to do about it. A beggar heard the screams and came running but didn’t see anything, a shop keeper named Calixto said he thought he saw someone running from the scene but didn’t get a good look at him, and the last witness also didn’t see anything happen. The last one is a woman who is also a priestess who later takes the body to prepare it for burial. When I asked her for more information, she mentions that the wounds seemed to be made from the same tools that the ancient Nords used to embalm their dead.

Leading from the crime scene is a trail of blood that leads into an empty house. After I pick the lock successfully (without using the stinking potion), I go inside, following the trail of blood all over the place. I found multiple notes that warned of “The Butcher” and a strange amulet, and two wardrobes. One had a few clothes and a piece of parchment in it, and the other was totally empty. The empty one I got suspicious of. After all, Delphine in Riverwood has a secret passageway in her home, hidden by a wardrobe. I check this one out and sure enough, the back panel slid to one side to reveal a secret room, which was full of bones, embalming tools, and some sort of necromantic alter. I wrinkle my nose and leave the house. PHEW! Now I REALLY could use some fresh mountain air!

I go to Calixto, after hearing that he deals in strange and unusual artifacts and might be able to tell me what this amulet is. But when I arrive at his house I got curious. He offered a tour for two septims, and I thought to myself, Why not? and gave him the gold coins.

First he shows me some embalming tools that the ancient Nords used to use when embalming their dead, and a little voice echoed in my mind, the voice of the priestess who prepared the dead for the city of Windhelm, that the wounds on the body seemed to be made from tools like the ones Calixto was showing me now. Interesting! My eyes narrowed, but I merely nodded at Calixto thoughtfully and we continued the tour. Next he showed me something called the Book of Fate. Apparently, it’s contents varied from person to person. Some people might read one thing about their fate and another person would have something entirely different, and yet most people only saw blank pages. If it was the case of blank pages it was speculated that the reader would die shortly. While Calixto moves on to the next thing on the tour, I peek into the book. Nothing is in it. Now I started to wonder if this was all just a hoax.

Sure enough the next item on his shelf… are you ready for this? It was Ysgramor’s Soup Spoon. Looking down at it, I see that it is actually a fork, and Calixto (probably reading my whiskers) says, “I know, I know, it’s a fork and not a spoon, and you can’t eat soup with a fork, but then you didn’t know Ysgramor!” I blinked at that one, and was about to retort, “Well neither did you, ya knucklehead! He lived in the first era and this is the fourth era! Moron!” But I said nothing and let my tail fluff up as I thought up of other retorts in my mind. Then Calixto showed me a flute that was supposed to make people dance uncontrollably. Thankfully he didn’t say the words that triggered the effect. I swear that if he did, and if it actually worked, I’d have gouged his eyes out with my claws.

Once the tour was over I showed him the amulet, and he claimed that it belonged to the court wizard. When I asked is he should have the, Calixto claimed the wizard never wore it much and wouldn’t miss it, and he’d prefer to have it in his own private collection. So he pays me five hundred septims for it, and after one last good look at it, I had it over and leave with my gold. As I walk up to the castle I knew I had enough evidence to blame the court wizard, but I had suspicions. I decided to go see the wizard myself. Up in the wizard’s quarters I take a good look around, and I saw no signs of necromancy. No tools for embalming, nothing. I described the amulet I sold and the Wizard said he never owned one, but ruled out that if the deaths of the young women were in fact done for necromancy, then it would be possible to tell when the next murder would take place. He then tells me to go to the stone quarter and that the killer would strike there next.

I get to the market place and noticed Calixto arrive, and I hissed to myself. I probably could be stealing his spoon right now while he was here. Instead, I watch as he draws a knife and tries to kill a young woman in the marketplace, right there in broad daylight! I shoot one arrow into him, and it strikes him, though not hard enough to kill him. He staggered backward, then turns and runs inside a store called The White Phial. I scoff and run after him. He tries running upstairs, but I got him in the end. Now when I shot him the first time, people started to scream and run in panic on the streets. When I come back outside now that Calixto is dead, everyone is back to business. What a strange society. I shrug my shoulders and report to the local authorities that Calixto “The Butcher” is dead and I get rewarded for my efforts. Then I speak to Jarl Ulfric about joining the Stormcloaks, and Galmar sends me out to kill an Ice Wraith. I accept his challenge and leave the city. The strange thing is when I first arrived it was night time and I was planning to rent a room at the inn for the night, and instead I went on a caper to deal with the Butcher for the remainder of the night and through most of the next day! I got a room and slept for a while, then got up and left the city at last.

((Players note: While there, I leveled my pickpocket skill to 75 in a matter of minutes. Having the perk that allows you to pick gold more easily is a bonus. First you pay the beggar to level up your pickpocket skill by one. Just one. Then with her back turned to you and no guards looking your way, crouch down and pick her pockets and get your money back. The best way to do this is to Quick save the game before you pick pocket her. This way if you get caught, you can just quick load and try again. The more gold you pickpocket, the better the bonus to your skill will be, but also the harder it becomes. Once you reach 75, the beggar cannot teach you anymore, so get your gold back from her pockets and skedaddle.

Step 1: Pay beggar to learn one skill level of pickpocket and end the conversation.
Step 2: Quick Save the game! ALWAYS!
Step 3: Pickpocket the beggar and get your gold back. If you get caught go to step 4. If you are successful go to step 5.
Step 4: Quick load and repeat step 3.
Step 5: Laugh.
Step 6: Go to step 1 and repeat until you reach 75 Skill in Pickpocket. Once skill level is reached, laugh again, and proceed to step 7.
Step 7: When you can’t learn anything else from the beggar, pickpocket her gold (if any) and anything else the strikes your fancy.
Step 8: Skedaddle.

Now you might thing this is cheating, but no mods were used to alter the pickpocket skill or stealth detection, to technically speaking, it was perfectly normal within the game’s parameters.  Us this if you like, I thought it was pretty nice being able to purchase training and get my money back for it. Same thing with alchemy. Buy training, sell potions to get money back. Easy Peasy!))

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