The Forsworn Conspiracy and The Museum

As I leave Whiterun I make a detour back to Riverwood and meet up with Delphine. It seems I’ve arrived just in time, because she has a plan to get me into the Thalmor Embassy. Their leader, Elenwen, regularly throws parties where the rich and well-connected can cozy up with the Thalmor. Delphine’s going to get me an invitation to the party, and she instructs me to go to The Winking Skeever in Solitude. I figured this will work out nicely. I can head directly west of here to Markarth and take care of my Thieves Guild business there, then head north to Solitude for the party. Sounds fun!

My journey to Markarth was mostly uneventful. First I spot that big black dragon resurrecting another dragon. As the black dragon flies away again, I fight the dragon that came back to life, and killed it. A trio of Stormcloak soldiers were nearby and they helped by firing arrows at it. They kept it’s attention while I fired arrows of my own.

After talking to this guy, my head hurts.

During my trip along the road I also saw three Imperial soldiers walking, and further along the same road were three Thalmor soldiers. It was a busy day for the war I guess. Who could tell? But maybe the only person who made a significant appearance was none other than M’aiq the Liar. This Khajiit is easy to spot from a distance in his yellow-orange robes, and when I talk to him he says various things. Today he said that, “some people say that Alduin is really Akatosh… they also say that M’aiq is a liar. Do not believe such things.”

I frown in puzzlement and keep walking… He just said he was a liar and told me not to believe it… and I know he’s lying… but if he lied about him being a liar, that could mean he was telling the truth, which is not possible because he’s a liar! Now that I have a headache, I resist the urge to shoot M’aiq in the kneecaps with an arrow and press on through The Reach.

Returning to Markarth. The City of Stone

When I arrive in Markarth I remember that I was supposed to meet someone at the shrine of Talos. Whoops… That was a week ago maybe! I wonder if he’s still alive. I go to see, and yep. He’s still there. At the moment I’ve got quite a bit on my plate. I have to find a way to decode the Falmer language so I can get Gallus’s journal translated, then I have to go up to Solitude to infiltrate the Thalmor Embassy and see what they know about the dragons returning. What more do I have to do!?

(I actually did this before in a previous save, but then later I started experiencing crashes for some odd reason, and I eventually gave up and started a new game. What follows happened before. One main difference, I managed to kill the Forsworn guy before he could kill Margret in the marketplace, so instead of searching her room for clues, I get to ask her up front.)

Oh. Right. I have to find out why people are getting killed in Markarth and see if I can put a stop to it. FINE! I leave the shrine and set out to meet Margret. Margret is a stranger in town, just visiting and on errands, and she was almost murdered the first day I ever set foot in Markarth. I saw the attack start and I saved her life. Eltrys, the guy who met up with me in the Shrine of Talos, promises me a reward if I help him, so I go and question Margret, who is staying in the Silver-Blood Inn.

A spy, eh? Nice… *writes it down and plans to pass this info on to Ulfric*

I talk to her, and after persuading her to tell me what she’s hiding, she confesses that she’s an undercover Imperial agent. She was sent by General Tullius to seize control of Cidna Mine from the Silver-Blood family. I shelve this information and go seek out the Silver-Bloods. The moment I leave the inn, a city guard tells me to back off, and that I would not be warned again. Ignoring the threat, I head to the Treasury house belonging to the Silver-Blood family. It’s a sort of counting house… actually I don’t know what they don’t own in this city… and I go in an persuade the first person I see that Thonar is expecting me. Not true of course, but I get to see him and I ask him about the Forsworn attack in the market place, and he denies me. Moments later his wife is killed by the Forsworn, right there in his house. Then he spills the beans – The leader of the Forsworn, Madanach, is in his prison. Thonar keeps him alive, and in return, Madanach has his Forsworn attack anyone who pesters Thonar.

They’re framing me? ARGH! First time I’m going to jail. I hope they have punch and pie.

After following up on other leads, I go back to the shrine to tell Eltrys about all this, that the man he’s looking for is in Cidna Mine… and when I get there I see three city guards who draw their swords at my approach. Behind them I see Eltrys… dead. The guards killed him! I tell them that Madanach is the real culprit, but they tell me, “You think you’re the only one who knows that? We had a nice little deal with Thonar and Madanach until you showed up!”

This explains the city guards telling me to back off. Thonar has the whole city in his pocket alright. I wouldn’t be surprised if the jarl was his puppet as well. The way I saw it was that Thonar was having people murdered who threatened his family or his way of life, like that agent from the Imperials (Margret) who was trying to obtain, possibly steal, the deed to his mining operation, and then the guards would just stand by and do nothing. Since I’ve been stirring up trouble, they’re pinning all these murders on me, framing me as the leader of the forsworn. Jerks.

Eltrys wanted to find out who was responsible for all this… While I’d like to kill Thonar, I think it would be best if I killed Madanach… he’s the King in Rags, the guy giving the orders to the forsworn, and Thonar can’t seem to control him as well anymore… maybe I ought to go kill Madanach… and what better way to get to him than to surrender and get thrown into jail? So yep… I go quietly. “No one escapes Cidna Mine, you hear me? No one!” I’m willing to break their winning streak.

“Sorry, I’m a little deaf in this ear…”

Once in the mine, the guard tells me to mine silver and puts me in  tunnels. I grab a pick ax and mine all the silver I can, but I keep it. Then I go pickpocket all the prisoners, stealing their skooma and shivs. A shiv is a very short weapon that every prisoner has… well not anymore, and I equip one in each hand and head down the tunnels to find Madanach. He’s sitting at a desk writing on a piece of paper, his back to me. A few stabs and he’s dead. Looking in his pocket I find a note. Basically it was for his fellow prisoners. If ever he should die, there was a key to a cell nearby in which was an escape tunnel that led into the dwemer ruins, and from there into the city. I take the note and the key and skedaddle.

Nope. no punch and pie… but there’s plenty of Skooma and Shivs… if you know where to look!

When I step outside, Thonar Silver-Blood is there. He had contacts within the mine, and they informed him that Madanach is dead. It basically ends the Forsworn attacks in the city and the Jarl has been informed, which resulted in my being pardoned. Thonar gives me my things back and rewards me with a ring… “Sorry pal, I don’t wanna get married,” I am tempted to say, but this ring lets me improve my weapons and armor by 15%, so I hold my tongue. Then he goes on to say that he has to get new workers for the mines now. I ask myself, Why? All the other prisoners are still alive down there… unless they got into a free-for-all war trying to find out who took the skooma. I keep that to myself… plus all that silver ore I dug up. I put my armor back on, re-equip my weapon, and then I go smelt the ore into bars and go make some jewelry.

Turn around, you ancient sack o’ bones. It’s me!

Now.. where was I? Oh yeah. The Falmer language… Calcelmo. Right. I head into Understone Keep. First I manage to chat up a storm with Calcelmo, and I get a free key into the museum, although he refuses to let me see his new book before he publishes it. Ah well… I head to the museum, and a guard stops me. I’ve almost had it with these jerks, especially when this one tells me I can’t go into the museum, and if I have a problem I can take it up with Calcelmo!

“But… but… I have the key! Calcelmo gave it to me himself! I… Oh fine, F-it, I’ll go talk to him again. Hell!”

I go all the way back to Calcelmo and he acts like he never gave me the key in the first place. “Um the guard said I can’t go into the museum?” “Well it’s closed and off limits to everyone… but if you wish to go in, you can go kill a giant spider for me–” “Hang on dude, do you suffer from short term memory loss?! Don’t you remember me?!” Then I remember, when I first chatted with him, he was leaning over an alchemy table and I was behind him, so maybe he didn’t recognize my voice. Memory loss. It MUST happen to the older elves at some point! I sigh and go kill a spider.

That is one big spider… probably ate Miracle Gro by mistake!

When I get back, he tells me that I did a great job… yeah yeah I know… You gave me gold, splendid! All you really had to do was scratch my ears. I take the key…I wonder how many of these things he really has… I also wonder if I could have just picked his pocket and killed the guard… I shrug my shoulders and finally go into the museum. Inside I slip past the guards and get into the back part of the place which has mercenary-like guards inside, not just city guards. Just to give them a little “Night at the Museum,” I turn on the Dwemer machines, which is mostly a bunch of traps, and they quickly make work of half the guards I encounter, except for one mage who runs out before I can get to him. I ignore him and press on.

Nope, nobody here, just keep going so I can sneak out!

In the end I made it up into his private tower and discovered a stone tablet with writing on it. I think I just found the Falmer Dictionary. And Calcelmo claims he’s spent years in research? With this thing in his den? Right. Sure. I steal some paper and charcoal and make a rubbing… and right after that some guards come in. As I listen to the chatter I realize that the mage who ran out is with them. Looks like he did the smart thing and went to get some help.  Aicanitar is his name, and it turns out he’s Calcelmo’s nephew! “Scour this place from top to bottom!” he says, then he goes back into the museum and the guards start their search. Not eager to see Cidna Mine again, I sneak out and drop down from the balcony. Nobody saw me, and I didn’t shed a single fur. Whew!

Time to head up to Solitude and see about getting into the Thalmor Embassy! On my way out, a guard comments I was lucky to be pardoned. Lucky!? Hey you were the one who framed me! I oughta give you a bloody nose! Instead I walk outside and head north.

Right into a dragon attack and some Forsworn. Oh joy.

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Journey through the Reach

Today I decided to continue my trip through the mountainous Reach. It’s best known for rocky cliffs and narrow valleys, and for some rivers and waterfalls that flow through the area. Having just left Arkngthamz, of which I still have no idea how to pronounce but I think I can do alright with it anyway, I make my way down the cliffs in a roundabout sort of way. I cross a stream that flowed from one waterfall to another and heard a fight going on. Turns out some Imperials invaded a Forsworn camp, and failed miserably. Then the Forsworn found me and tried to do me in as well. I shot arrows into both of them, and then proceeded to ransack their camp. There really wasn’t much to take. Just several arrows from the Imperials, a few things from a chest, some food items, and a cast iron pot. I might keep the pot. Could use it to brew up some tasty Skooma sometime

Then I follow a path even farther up a mountainside and find another camp that looked very much like it was used by the Forsworn. Animal skins stretched out for drying and tanning. Wooden spikes sticking out to make a sort of barrier around the camp. A tent made of… something. Like a wigwam or a humpy ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humpy ). It does seem to be made of either animal skins or tree bark. And in the tent was a bed made entirely of straw and a chest. I pick the lock and loot two items from it, then turn to leave.

Now when I first arrived the camp was empty, but as I’m about to leave, a Hagraven comes along, walking up the road towards the camp. Ah. So here’s the landlord. Hagravens seem to resemble women who grown feathers, have talons for feet, their nose is hooked like a beak, their eyes are beady and evil looking (like a vulture) and they seem to suffer from asthma considering their ragged breathing. Amazingly they do well with that problem up here in the mountains, what with the air being thinner the higher up you go… but then maybe the pollen count is lower than the tundra plains.

I dart out of the tent and race onto a rocky outcropping… while the sun is out. Huge mistake. I’m not a vampire, but I do better in the darkness than I do in the day time. Sure enough, the Hagraven saw me and started throwing fireballs at me. The only way to get her to stop that dangerous action is to drop back down and get up close and personal. This means she’ll slash at me with her claws, but she won’t hurl great balls of fire. (Now I got that song stuck in my head… and ironically so do you.)  About ten arrows later since my first few missed, she goes down, and I pluck a claw and a few feathers for future alchemical works.

Later I travel down the road and I find an orc wearing nothing but ragged trousers. My best bet was she just escaped from Cidna Mine and had a pocket full of Skooma. I sneak behind her and pick her pockets, and turns out I was right. Skooma, moonsugar, and sleeping tree sap. I pick her pockets clean and then kill her, and I drag her body over the edge of the cliff and let it fall out of sight. Nothing to see here!

I eventually make it to Markarth. While I’m there I visit the Understone Keep and use Calcelmo’s enchanting table. Calcelmo is the court wizard, an elf, and is the leading authority on Dwemer research. He natters on about how important he is and how major his research is. Then he apologizes for his rash behavior and I sell several enchanted items to him. Then I leave him to his research. I don’t know much about the Dwemer, except that they used to live a long time ago and now they’re either dead or dead.  And that is not a typo, I meant that! They really are dead, but nobody knows what really happened to them anyway. Just their ruined underground cities remain. I head outside of Markarth and make a few last minute transactions with the Kajiit caravan that’s parked outside of the city along the main road. I kept the skooma and moonsugar to myself however. I’m a Kajiit too, so I gotta sate my own sweet tooth!

Leaving the city and the road behind I travel through the wilderness killing a bear at the very least, and I walk across the roof of Bthardamz. According to Katria’s notes, the next piece wasn’t in the ruins itself. But I did happen upon a couple of little boys who tried to sell me dwemer junk. I managed to get them to tell me where they found it, and it’s a place not far from here, called Deep Folk Crossing. I head northwest from Bthardamz and follow a river till I find this Dwemer-looking bridge. The path I’m following goes across the bridge and up a small hill that’s shrouded in mist. As the mist clears I see more Dwemer ruins, and the artifact is right there on a pedestal. Katria’s ghost appears behind me, surprised that I got there first, then leaves. She’s going to look for the next one, but I’m guessing she merely vanishes from one spot and reappears at another with no memory of the actual journey. I don’t know for sure, I can only occupy one realm at a time, and I’m in the land of the living right now. After she’s gone and I have the artifact, I find a Dwemer chest and look inside. It’s empty. Probably due to the little boys who got here first. Why they didn’t take the Aetherium shard, I have no idea… maybe they didn’t look on the other side of the ruins where the chest was. I just shrug my shoulders and walk away.

After that I head through the mountains unsure of where I’m really heading. I decide to try and make it back to Whiterun. I had a lot of books in my backpack and several other things besides that I can sell, so it was time to head home and lighten my load. Eventually, I find an area that definitely makes the fur on the back of my neck stand on end and my tail fluff up. I smell a dragon.

I look around and I eventually find it’s lair. Up on the side of a mountain where the remains of a tower can be found. Broken wagon bits, charred and burned corpses, and scorch marks on the ground give more than enough hints. I’d be surprised if the dragon breathed frost instead of fire. I come out from behind a rock and see it. The dragon stands on the ground and it seems to be looking my way but hasn’t seen me yet. I put poison on the tip of my arrow and shoot the dragon with one, aiming for the eye. I’m not sure if I actually hit it there, but I managed to hit it once again before it flapped it’s wings and rose into the air with a roar. Now that he had a good eye view, I was spotted almost right away and he landed a short distance away. He’s a very weak dragon and my arrows hurt him enough to keep him grounded and not moving for a bit. He breathed fire at me and I just ducked to one side, hiding next to a fallen bit of tower that shielded me from his fire. Once the dragon dies, I absorb his soul and then read the word of power on the wall the dragon was guarding at his lair. “SU”… it means “Air.” This Thu’um is supposed to imbue my arms with the speed of the wind, which allows for faster weapon strikes…. Wonder how well it works for an archer like me?

I hold off on spending the dragon’s soul on this shout for the time being. I wasn’t gonna experiment with it right now. I make my way down from the crater and find a road that leads me out of the mountains and back to the tundra plains of Whiterun Hold. Once there it’s much easier. Just go off the road and walk due east. I almost stumble upon a saber cat and duck quickly, but it was asleep. One arrow shot to the head killed it. A critical strike to be sure, all the more effective since it went through the skull and it was asleep so it never saw it coming. I gave it a quick death, which is something it would never give another creature or being of Skyrim.

All along the way back home the sky darkens and night falls upon me. I collect as many lunar moths and torch bugs as I can find, and  I get back home to Whiterun at last. The only merchant I can sell anything to is Elrindir, a wood elf (or Bosmer as they are called) who runs The Drunken Huntsman. It’s a tavern as well as a shop that specializes in hunter equipment. Since it’s a tavern it’s open at all hours. I wonder if Elrindir ever gets any sleep. Like the Mad Hatter and his everlasting tea party, so Elrindir stays working at the counter in The Drunken Huntsman. I sell him what I can then head home and take care of some things. I brew poisons for my enemies, potions for myself, and skooma for myself. YEAH! YOU HEARD ME! I make my own Skooma. Thanks to the moonsugar I managed to pickpocket from that orc earlier today. As I brew my concoctions I think to myself of new ways I could improve the taste of the skooma and maybe make new recipes. I added some powdered mammoth tusk to the formula. The normal recipe is one part moonsugar and one part nightshade. If distilled properly it’s not toxic… at least to Kajiit. To other races though it has weird side effects. Since I brew it for personal purposes and I’m a cat, then it’s fine. I can handle it. Well with the mammoth tusk powder added to it, it makes it a little more potent! Once I’m finished, I store the rest of my ingredients away and then go to sleep.

My housecarl greets me with the usual “Long life to you, Thane” when I wake up, then I head on out and visit the blacksmith next door. After a moment I remember that Adrianne Avenicci is dead. That anvil will forever be silent unless I hammer at it. It’s odd to not hear some kind of work being done at the forge when I’m only walking by. So I head inside and visit Ulfberth War-Bear to buy some moonstone and use it to improve my Elven daggers and armor. After I worked at the forge some more I sell the wares I’ve made to Ulfberth and get ready to depart the city.

With two Aetherium shards on hand, I consult the map in Katria’s journal and decide where the next shard should be. It looks like she marked the map in some mountains that has rivers flowing to the north and south of it. This calls for quite a bit of exploring!

Markarth: The City of Stone

Front entrance to Markarth, a city made entirely of stone and where half the buildings are built into the mountainside.

So I made it to Markarth. All the buildings were carved out of the very rocks, and the Palace of Stone is set into the face of the mountainside. Almost all the buildings have an underground feel to them. Even the beds are made of stone, but then they do say a harder mattress is better for your back.

A young woman named Margaret gets brutally murdered, and her killer shouts out, “The Reach belongs to the Forsworn!” and goes about on a rampage before the guards kill him.

The city of stone they call it, and first thing when I set foot into town, I witness a miner stab a woman in the back right there in the marketplace. A shop keeper yelled something about the Forsworn, but then the guards intervened and said there was no forsworn in the city at all. Then a man who just exited the inn comes up to ask what happened. I told him what I saw, and then he presses a note into my hand, claiming I dropped it and that it was mine. Once he left, I opened it and read it. “Meet me at the Shrine of Talos” it says. Hmm.

Eltrys' Note

The note Eltrys said I dropped. Right. Okay then!

So I go into the shrine of Talos, and there he is, leaning against a stone pillar near the shrine to Talos. He tells me that his name is Eltrys, that his father died to the Forsworn, and he has a son on the way and wants the Forsworn threat to end. Turns out people are murdered in the streets and the Forsworn attacks aren’t being handled by the guards at all. He wants to find out why, so he asks you to look into the most recent murder.

Eltrys met me here in the dimly lit shrine of Talos. Here he tells me about the Forsworn attacks and wants me to try and stop it.

To start I check out the victim’s room that was rented at the Silver Blood Inn and I found her journal, which stated something about Thonar Silver-Blood, so I go question Thonar. Long story short, he was supposedly controlling the Forsworn, but they’re getting out of hand somehow.

Then I went to look into the living quarters of the murderer, and I found that he had received a note telling him to attack the marketplace, and it was signed with the initial N. Once I was outside, I met a thug who thought to teach me a lesson, so I brawled with him. I wound up teaching him a lession: Never brawl with a Kajiit – Claws FTW! I asked him who sent him, and he tells me Nepos the Nose. What an alias…. So I go to the house belonging to Nepos and met with him. Nepos sends the letter to the murderer, and has done so repeatedly, all on the orders of The King in Rags, Madanach, who is currently imprisoned in Cidna Mine, which is also the jail for Markarth. Nepos tells me how he receives orders from Madanach and carries them out, and that they are the Forsworn who are the true rulers of the Reach. Then he and his servants try to kill me.

Needless to say, his house now needs cleaning.

After I killed Nepos I raced back into the Shrine of Talos to tell Eltrys everything I found out, but Eltrys is dead… at the hands of the city guards! It seems that the guards had it easy, but now that I had been snooping around they have to work, work, work, and so they framed me for murdering Eltrys. I had two choices. I could go quietly, or I could fight my way out.

But Eltrys wanted to stop the Forsworn, and their leader was in Cidna Mine… So I went quietly. After all, the easiest way to get into prison is to be a prisoner. Why break into prison?

Once in jail, I was in some ragged trousers and I had nothing on me. All my armor and weapons were gone. I had no keys, no lock picks, no nothing. I could serve time by digging up silver ore and then be freed, but I had ulterior motives. I did mine up as much silver as I could though – I figured once I broke out of jail I’d have to find some way to buy armor and weapons and all. I am pretty good at pickpocketing by this point… and you won’t believe how many prisoners carried Skooma on them. Pretty soon my pockets were weighed down with silver and skooma. I traded a bottle of skooma with one prisoner to get a shiv, which is a very small blade that I could use for fighting (yeah, I have claws, but I decided to get a shiv anyway), and then I bribed an Orc guard with a bottle to get through a tunnel and see Madanach.

He’s an old man, wearing the same rags as anyone else in the prison, working at a table writing a letter or something. Two stabs later and he was dead. May Eltrys’ soul rest in peace knowing that I found the cause of his father’s death and ended his influence on the Reach. Then I looked through his pockets and found a key and a note. Turns out Madanach had an escape route dug out in the prison that led into some dwarven ruins! I snag the key, use it on a gate leading into an empty prison cell, and take off down the tunnel and into the ruins.

One dead frostbite spider later, I was back in the streets, and right there in front of me was Thonar Silver-Blood. The Forsworn had killed his wife, even though they were supposed to be under his control. But now he knows that Madanach is dead now, so the Forsworn attacks in the city should stop. He rewards me with a family ring made out of silver and returns all of the things the guards confiscated from me when I was imprisoned, and told me I was cleared of all charges. I’m a free citizen again in Skyrim.

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