What To Do When you’ve “finished” Skyrim. (part 2)

So I finally found the time to stop by the orphanage in Riften and talk to the matron there. They are allowing adoptions at last, though I’ve been hesitating to get a second kid so far. The first was the little girl begging in Whiterun. Before I can adopt, the matron asks a few questions. First, “What is your name?”

“Amaki’dar.”

“What do you do for a living?”

…. I have to think about this one. Firstly, I am Dragonborn. I am also Harbringer of the Companions, Arch Mage at the College of Winterhold, I am an adventurer, but also a mercenary, an assassin, and a thief. Gee, how shall I answer. Just for the fun of it, I answer that I’m an assassin, and then a thief. Both times she asks if I am joking. Finally I tell her I’m a mercenary and she agrees to let me adopt a child. I pick one kid,  boy named Samuel, and he starts packing for the house in Solitude where my other orphan resides. Now, time to go earn enough gold to support my family! So much to do!

"I'm a lot of things. Talk about multitasking!"

“I’m a lot of things. Talk about multitasking!”

I decided that in order to tell this story I’d come up with a few rules as I play the game. For example, I am addicted to fast travel, so I decide to see if I can traverse Skyrim for a while without doing so. I will also avoid using carriages as that is also fast travel in a sense, this time anyway. Another rule is I will not use the wait feature, so if I have to wait for a certain time, I’ll wait naturally by twiddling my thumbs.

With this story, I start off at Fort Dawnguard. I already have several quests. I have to perform a heist and a numbers job for the thieves guild, go talk to a corrupt agent in Dragonbridge to see who he wants me to kill, and I have to collect a couple of books for the orc librarian in the College of Winterhold. I need to visit the Companions to see what they can offer me though, but it’s on my way. Lastly I had gone to Fort Dawnguard, where I get an assignment to kill a vampire who’s masquerading among humans in Kynesgrove.

Now that I’ve loaded the game and reviewed what I have to do, I come up with the rules: No using the wait feature, no fast travel. The game is being played at Legendary difficulty, and this sneaky archer is now at level 72.

The Journey Begins

Hey M'aiq! What's new?

Hey M’aiq! What’s new?

It’s 2:35 AM, on Tirdas, and I’m leaving Fort Dawnguard on foot, and not too far outside the gates I encounter two vampire scouts. I had always fast-traveled out of here before, so this was quite a surprise to me! After killing the vampire scouts I exit the valley and turn North to get to Kynesgrove, and the first encounter I get is M’aiq the Liar! I grin, stroll up, and hear his words of wisdom. He mentions how people in Skyrim are much more openminded, then goes on to tell me that the Falmer’s blindness was not due to the dwemer’s disappearance, concluding that he has heard that it is dangerous to be my friend. I nod to myself and think, Then M’aiq does not wish to see Amaki’dar’s enemies.

I take my leave and move on. After all, he’s tired, but it’s 4 AM, so no wonder. I can’t sleep either for that matter. While trekking North through the woods, I spy an epic battle between two arch mages, one with frost magic and the other with fire. I kill them both to save time and when I looked through their robes, I saw that the fire mage was using a staff! The cheater!

It is now 7:10 AM the same day. I just get out of the woods and hills of the Rift and am standing near the ashen plains. Kynesgrove isn’t much farther away now. And as I walk down the road I see a familiar orange robe. M’aiq!? But he was just outside Dayspring Canyon, how’d he get to this volcanic area before me I have no idea! So I stop to chat with him again, and this time he elaborates on dual wielding weapons and the benefit of adventuring alone so you don’t have to split loot with your friends. “M’aiq knows many things, no?” More confused than ever about how he got ahead of me so fast, I press on.2013-05-31_00004

Kynesgrove only has one building, and that’s the inn. Since it is daytime now, the vampire is inside the inn. At the moment my archery skill is reset to 15, so I’ll be attacking this guy with no perks. This means he won’t stagger when I hit him with my arrows and I won’t get that many critical strikes. Twenty arrows later, the vampire lies dead on the floor of the tavern, and the game text scrolls up, saying, “Completed: Discretely kill the vampire.”

Discrete? You call this discrete? I shoot the dude 20 times with my bow while he drains my blood and tried to hit me with other magic spells, and in the end my last shot knocks him off his feet, literally flying into the wall next to the bar, all this in front of the innkeeper and a drunken patron. That is discrete?! Discrete equals 20 arrows in front of civilians? Fascinating!

I like this game!

To Windhelm, Fellglow Keep, and Whiterun

I leave good old Kynesgrove and head to Windhelm. For this heist, I have to steal a flawless ruby from The White Phial. It is now 9:30 AM. Easy enough! I go into the store and buy up all the alchemical ingredients (I have a hoard of such in Breezehome) then I dash upstairs and quickly pick the master-level lock on the strongbox and snatch the ruby. Quintus, the shop keeper, reaches the top of the stairs to see what I’m doing, but he doesn’t witness me taking anything. I walk outside whistling merrily.

Trying to lighten my load a tad.

The Windhelm Marketplace.

While in Windhelm I sell several things to lighten my bags, chop some wood and use it and some bones to make a few dragonbone arrows, and eat some Horker Stew.  Now it’s 11 AM, and I check my map to see where to get to next. One of the books for the College of Winterhold is in Fellglow Keep, and that’s between Windhelm and Whiterun. I adjust my bandolier and head on out. (remember, no fast traveling!)

My archery skill is now at 24 and my sneak is at 33, so I get to discover how well I can sneak kill mages with arrows. I get detected easily enough, but it’s okay. I eventually find the book I’ve been looking for and head on out, but as I walk through the mountains I come under attack by some bandits. As I shoot some arrows at them, other arrows sail in from behind. Next thing I know, three imperial soldiers run past me and start fighting the bandits! When the bandits are dead, the imperials start to march away, telling me to keep an eye out for stormcloak spies.

I raise my eyebrow and watch them walk past. Clearly they don’t know me. I joined the Stormcloaks and liberated Skyrim of the Empire. To me, they are the spies. Then I ponder for a minute on the best way to dispatch them, and I wonder to myself how they’d react if I cast Fury at them!

Let me guess, each of you thinks the other ate the last sweetroll?

Let me guess, each of you thinks the other ate the last sweetroll?

The result is that two of them are affected by it and are crossing blades, but the third one was farther away and escaped the effect, so he came after me. One arrow and he’s dead, and then I step back and watch the swords clash. The fight between these two soldiers draws out too long and I have to recast the fury spell as well as invisibility to get them to ignore me and focus on killing themselves. It works and again they hack and slash at one another. Eventually one goes down, and the other performs a killing blow move where he impales his comrade with his sword. Then he turns to me, and I kill him with one arrow. Chuckling to myself, I head downhill towards Whiterun.

As I arrive in Whiterun, a guard suddenly runs up to me with a two handed axe drawn and at the ready. Uh-oh. Somehow I have a price on my head. I have no idea what it’s from, but look over the options anyway. I could bribe the guard for over 700 gold, but it’s not a permanent solution, I know. I could also make a run for it or go to jail. I look at the other options. I can either pay the fine of 40 gold, or I can use my influence as a member of the thieves guild and pay only 20 gold. The guard accepts the 20 gold and tells me to move along before I get him in trouble.

Completely confused as to why I had a price on my head for a mere 40 gold, I head to Jorrvaskr, mead hall of the companions. Vilkas gives me a task to perform, kill an escaped criminal thats here in Whiterun Hold. I accept the task and head on out. The criminal is already in some armor and with a weapon and was actually walking up the road near Whiterun Stables, as though she was about to walk right into town! I kill her, and yet as I attack her, a horse and two stable workers run up and help kill her. I resist the temptation to offer them a place in the Companions. I return to the mead hall and Vilkas gives me 300 gold for my efforts. Then I talk to Aela and she tells me an animal has moved into a house up in Winterhold and they need me to clear it out.  I can’t help but wonder why the mages up there can’t turn a snowy sabrecat into a rabbit? I shrug and resolve to adjust their curriculum when I get the chance!

Chillin' like a villain!

Chillin’ like a villain!

I wait in the inn for a few hours, chilling out, and then after midnight I pick the lock on the backdoor to Arcadia’s Cauldron, sneak upstairs, and commit a forgery in the record books. Arcadia is sound asleep and I sneak out without being detected at all. Oh yeah, it’s easy to be a thief. Walk with the Shadows!

Whiterun to Dragonbridge

Now it’s time to head to Dragonbridge and see who needs who killed. And this is how the worst night of my life started. Turns out it was my night for vampire encounters galore.

First, just after the Western Watchtower in Whiterun hold, I encounter Babette, the child who became a vampire centuries ago. Turns out she was out hunting. As leader of the Dark Brotherhood, I leave her alone. She along with Selena are the only two vampires I’d never harm. I walk on, and eventually I hear a man shout, “You there! Traveler! Over here!” I sigh and draw my bow. A minute later and 3 vampires are dead. It’s a ruse where they kill three members of the vigilant watch and two of the vampires done their robes while the third, usually their leader, remains clothed as he is. The deception makes it look as if two member of the Vigilant Watch are causing trouble for this man who calls out for assistance at any passersby. This lulls the victim into a trap where they realize that all 3 of them are vampires. Still, I’ve encountered this before, and I manage to kill all the vampires. I press on. So much for the vampire ambush.

Then shortly after that I hear something, the same sound you’d hear if you summoned a minion from Oblivion like an atronach. The sound comes from a vampire suddenly appearing and yelling “Death to the Dawnguard!” It’s a vampire assassin. I remember thinking to myself that if I joined the Dark Brotherhood, then all the assassination attempts on me would stop. Looks like I was wrong. The vampire raises a skeleton to help fight for her and she hits me with powerful lightning spells. I eventually kill her and her minion, using health potions like I rarely do, but then I only recently set the game to Legendary difficulty.

After the vampire assassin I encounter yet another vampire, this time it’s just one being chased by a Vigilant of Stendar… a real one. So naturally I try to help kill the vampire. One of my arrows hits the Vigilant however and he turns onto me. I sheathe my weapon immediately, and he says, “You’ll live for now.” I sigh and resume attacking the vampire who has by now run around a boulder and was cowering. After this vampire is dead I move on, and another vampire assassin pops up and tries to kill me! “Death to the Dawnguard!” “What the–?!”

I mean seriously, what’s with all the darn vampires tonight!? First Babette, then a trap of 3 vampires, then an assassin vampire, then a yielding vampire, and another assassin vampire. 6 vampires, not counting Babette. Wow. All these between Whiterun and Rorikstead!? Jeez.

Fortunately as I pass through Rorikstead the sun starts to rise, so encounters with vampires vanish along with the morning mist, thank Talos. Now it’s 5:31 AM of Middas, so in game time I’ve been running about for over 24 hours.

A lumberjack eh? Did he not follow through on an order of wood for ya or something? Cold night I take it?

A lumberjack eh? Did he not follow through on an order of wood for ya or something? Cold night I take it?

The trip from Rorikstead to Dragonbridge is as uneventful as can be. Only a group of bandits near a wagon with a chest in it halt my journey for a moment. No more vampires are encountered. Once in Dragonbridge I go into the Penitus Oculatus HQ, and a corrupt agent tells me to kill an intinerant lumberjack in Morthal. He pays me 1200 gold in advance and I leave.

Daylight Again

Now that it’s daytime, I figured that attacks from random events won’t occur as much, so I decide to summon Arvak to cut down on my travel time. I cross the bridge and turn north along the road and head towards Morthal, and lo and behold, there’s M’aiq again! He wonders about more than I do apparently. This time he comments on how Nord armor has fur on it and that is makes M’aiq nervous. Him and me both I guess. Then he says that some people believe that Alduin is Akatosh, and some people say that M’aiq is a liar, and then tells me not to believe either of those things.

So wait, if he tells me he is a liar and then tells me not to believe him,  then he’s lying so I have to believe that he’s lying but if he’s lying I can’t believe him. (If you are a computer, you would have crashed with that logic puzzle.) Then M’aiq tells me to think about soul trapping. He says that he was soul trapped once and that it was an unsettling experience. I had to agree. I had my soul trapped to gain access to the Soul Cairn once, and I had to travel through this spirit plane of existence to get that gem back and restore my soul to myself. I swear, I’ll never forget the tingling sensation of being soul trapped even partially. Worse than when my feet or tail falls asleep.

I arrive at Morthal and find the lumberjack. Thonnir and Jorgen are already working at the mill, one is sawing logs int he mill itself and the other is chopping wood at a chop block. The itinerant lumberjack is also chopping at a block and standing right behind him in a crouch I remain unseen. Nobody seems to be looking. I decide that the safest way to dispatch this guy is to poison him.

Look at all that lint in that pocket. Hmm? Of don't mind me, I'm just poisoning you.

Look at all that lint in that pocket. Hmm? Oh don’t mind me, I’m just poisoning you.

The method is known as reverse pick pocketing. Normally a pick pocket would take items from a person’s pockets, but in this case I’m putting stuff into his pockets instead. In rare cases, this is handy when you want to plant contraband on someone and tip the town guards to frame the victim for a crime. Most of the time though, when I put something into their inventory it’s to poison them. Now I don’t know how it really works. I mean the vial of poison gets put into their pockets and it magically reduces the health of the target. Kind of like the hypo sprays used in Star Trek, it doesn’t have to penetrate the skin. My guess is you put a bottle of poison in the victim’s pocket and it magically dissolves into their clothes and gets absorbed into the skin and hurts/kills the target. That’s magic for ya I guess.

It takes several bottles of poison to kill the lumberjack, once he drops dead, nobody so much as turns a head. I stand up and summon Arvak. As I ride away, I think to myself, Hail Sithis!

Riding on Arvak from Morthal to Winterhold. Ride to live, live to ride!

Riding on Arvak from Morthal to Winterhold. Ride to live, live to ride!

Now I make my way to Dawnstar and visit the Dark Brotherhood sanctuary. Now the Nightmother tells me of a wary outlaw in the tavern of Riften, and she tells me to accept his gold and then eliminate the target. I listen to Cicero babble for a minute before exiting the sanctuary and summoning Arvak once again. I travel along the northern coast, avoiding most wild horkers and bears that I pass along the way. Once I get to Winterhold, I race up to the College and hand over the book I found to the Orc Librarian. He then tells me of yet another book I an acquire for the college and I accept his task. As I leave the college, I can’t help but feel a tad insulted. I mean I’m a cat, so why am I collecting books like the family mutt picking up the newspaper from the front lawn in the morning? Why am I playing fetch all of a sudden? HAH!

Returning to Fort Dawnguard

Before I depart from Winterhold however, I remember to step into somebody’s house and kill a snowy sabrecat for them. Now I have to return to Jorrvaskr and tell Aela that that’s taken care of, but first I’ll head down to Riften. I’m now at the phase where I’m turning in quests and getting new ones, like what I just did at the college. So I set out on Arvak at 3PM, and I wonder if I can get from Winterhold to Riften before the sun sets so I can avoid mass vampire attacks. On a horse? Let’s see!

You again? Got Skooma?

You again? Got Skooma?

As I get closer to Windhelm, I encounter M’aiq again. How many times does that make this? It’s the fourth time so far. Wow. Good thing I like M’aiq. Curiosity gets the better of me and I dismount for a quick chat. I swear he’s like David Copperfield, disappearing and reappearing randomly all over Skyrim. POOF and suddenly he’s right in front of you even though you went past him miles ago! This time he tells of how Skyrim was once known as the land of many butterflies, and now… not so much. And now he gets contradictory. First he says there’s so much snow in Skyrim. Enough snow! M’aiq does not want it anymore! And then he says that snow falls. Why worry where it goes? M’aiq thinks the snowflakes are pretty. And here I’m thinking to myself, Wait, first you say you don’t want any snow, and now you’re commenting on it’s beauty as if you like it? I try to press him for more information, but then he says, he’s done talking. I sigh and move along.

Farkas and two other companions attacking a bear. Glory and Honor my friends!

Farkas and two other companions attacking a bear. Glory and Honor my friends!

The only other encounter I come upon is Farkas and two other companions in the wilderness of The Rift, fighting a bear. I help them kill it, then return to my trip. I reach Riften before it gets dark. Hurrah! In the Bee and Barb, I find the wary outlaw and accept his gold. I’ll go kill his target later. In the meanwhile I slip into the cistern the visit the Ragged Flagon. I turn in my two quests to Vex and Delvin and get two more to do. After all this I slip out of Riften and head for Fort Dawnguard. It’s night now, but it’s still a bit early. My guess is the vampires are just having their coffee and croissants before they head outside. Now back at Fort Dawnguard I tell them the vampire in Kynesgrove is dead (and then some), and now I have a quest to retrieve an axe. Marvelous!

Epilogue

What a long, strange trip it's been!

What a long, strange trip it’s been!

Now it is Middas at 11:35PM. This No-Fast-Travel adventure spanned about two days of in-game-time. I killed a lot, stole some things, and ran till my paws were sore enough to summon Arvak. Who says there’s nothing to do in Skyrim? Try to avoid using fast-travel and do Radiant Quests. If done at night with Dawnguard installed, I promise you it won’t be boring!

As always, thanks for reading! May your road lead you to warm sands!

Continued in part 3 – https://amakiowlaf.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/what-to-do-when-youve-finished-skyrim-part-3/

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Amaki’dar in Goldenglow Estate

11pm. Lights are on in Goldenglow Estate… and I’m gonna rob it anyway!

Khajiit welcomes you, friend!

You might be asking what a purr-fectly nice kitten like me is doing in such a large island estate? Did I get a grand invitation for a dinner ball? Was it a tour of the bee hives? Or maybe a seminar on how to brew mead?

Well, since it’s the middle of the night, that’s definitely not the case, especially since the island is guarded by hired mercenaries and is locked tighter than an oyster that’s eaten alum by mistake. The reason I’m here at all is because I have a job to do. I’m breaking and entering, burglarizing, and I plan to make a grand exit with arson. (all virtual of course, this is a video game I’m talking about here. Welcome to Skyrim!)

Yep. Amaki’dar is a cat burglar… Actually the term cat burglar is a human being who is a burglar and is pretty agile like a cat. I omitted the human equation – I’m a Khajiit, which is an anthropomorphic cat basically, so I got the cat part down pat. As for the burglary part, well my lock picking skill is at 41, my sneakiness is at 71, and my pickpocket ability is 91… so yeah… I’m quite the sneaky type. I’m also pretty good at archery and alchemy, but more about my flower bed demolishing hobby (ever had a house cat sleep on your impatiens, or in your flower pots? Yo!), I have a job to do! I have to break into Goldenglow estate and steal whatever is in the safe and burn some bee hives. FUN!

As I mentioned earlier, this estate is on an island. In order to sneak onto it without being detected, I not only go at night, but I also have to swim. And I just had this coat cleaned. So I swim across the lake and make it to the island unseen. Vex’s tip about entering the estate through the sewer works fine; the entrance to it is completely unguarded. I slip inside. Turning a corner in the sewers I smell a rat, and sure enough there are skeevers infesting the sewers. For those that don’t know, skeevers are the Skyrim version of the R.O.U.S.es from The Princess Bride. “Rodents Of Unusual Size? I don’t think they exist.” Think again. These rats are as big as a beagle. I shoot the two in front of me before they can get close enough to bite my knees, and then I move on.

I sneak up a passageway that smells kinda funny… like oil from a lantern or something. And up ahead I can see three more skeevers, and behind them is a lamp that illuminates the room beyond the rats.

ROUS-toasted

Light at the end of the tunnel… not good… for the rats anyway.

My foot snags on something and I hear a snap. Uh-oh. I backpedal a step, and see the aforementioned lamp drop to the floor with a loud smashing noise… then… FWOOSH! FAWOOSH-WOOSH-WOOSH!

Yikes! The trap made the lamp fall and it ignited the oil that’s covering the floor, and the fire spreads all throughout the tunnel! I get out of the tunnel in time to avoid being singed. Once the oil has burned up, the fire dies, and I discover that the trap failed on me, but worked wonders on the rats. Lightly Fried Skeever anyone?

I think I can make better use of this book than the previous owner.

Then I found a room off to one side, a sort of dungeon. The door was locked, but with my growing lock picking skills I open it easily and get inside. The skeleton had little to say, except that he must not have been able to read judging from the book he had with him. It’s entitled, “A Guide to Better Thieving.” (I bet this poor fellow might have been better off with “Thieves for Dummies.”) I thumb through the introduction and get to the good parts, about picking locks and pockets. I decided to keep the book. I like to read at night before going to sleep in the flowerbed. Then I spotted a locked chest (more proof of the skeletons lack of skill… I think he needs some ligaments), and I open it to find a few things I can probably sell for a nice profit. I take these items and go back into the corridor that now reeks of burnt rat.

I find a ladder and head up it. It exits right next to a door that leads right into the estate itself, and there’s no guards in sight. I pick the lock and head on in. Now following one of the tips from the Thieves Guild, I sheathe my weapons at this point. “We can’t turn a profit by killing.” So even though I probably could get away with killing the guards I decided to challenge myself. No fighting. Just stealing. I check the pockets of a couple of mercenaries while their backs are turned, but they have no coin on them… must be close to payday then. Bet they blew all their gold on beer earlier. I can only hope they’ll be drunk enough to mistake me for an overgrown house cat if they happen to see me. But they don’t so, ah well. I decided to sneak on upstairs to see if the safe was there.

At first I stole just the keys… then I took his gold.. then the arrows… then the weapons. Aringoth’s pockets are now empty!

I made it into the master bedroom at last and found Aringoth. He happens to be an Altmer, or high elf. High elves were part of the reason my head was probably gonna go rolling way back when I was at Helgen, so I snarl to myself and proceed to steal everything. I found a nice golden queen bee statue and a live bee in a jar, which I took just to put in my home for fun. Then I picked Aringoth’s pockets. He had two keys on him which I take. One is for the basement, and the other goes to the safe itself. Nice, huh? Makes my job a little easier! After my pockets are bulging with gold, wine, and bees, I make my way out of the room and head back downstairs.

This little statue is right by the bed in the master bedroom. Bet Delvin would love to buy this!

I unlock the gate into the cellar and encounter a mercenary that’s sitting in a chair. His back is to me, but he’s facing the only other door I can go into. I draw my daggers and kill him before he can shout for help. I know, I broke my own rule of not killing anyone, but this guy was a must. Not like I could have sapped him like the rogues do in World of Warcraft, you know. So once this once guy is dead, I head on through the door and I find the safe. 117 gold is in it, so I take that and… wait… a bill of sale? Uh-oh. This can’t be good! I take the letter and read it.

“Aringoth, This document acknowledges the sale of Goldenglow Estate and all property, assets and materials contained within. Payment of the property has been made in full by Gajul-Lei as an agent on behalf of the buyer. All dealings with the Thieves Guild in Riften is to cease immediately. To deter any possible retribution for this cat, you are to take immediate steps to protect our assets in any way you see fit. I think you’ll find the Thieves Guild is far more mark than bite and will likely avoid Goldenglow Estate rather than thin their already dwindling numbers. Good luck and may this be the start of a long and lucrative partnership.”

117 gold… not bad… wait, what’s this, “Bill of Sale”… what’s that doing in here?

Not good at all. Aringoth sold the estate to a mysterious buyer. All I have to go with is an odd symbol and an unknown person called Gajul-Lei. Hmm. I fold the letter and stick it into my pocket with the bees and the wine. I find another doorway and go through it and find a trap door that leads into the sewers again. I head on in, find the same ladder and climb back out so I’m outside once again and next to the door I broke into.

Now that I’ve cleaned out the safe, I have one task left. I check the time… it’s almost 3am. I look up at the sky…no clouds. Not good. The moon is in one of the quarters, so some moonlight along with the bazillion stars shining in the sky illuminates the ground. Good to see by, to be sure, but bad for me. I sneak around the building and see two mercenaries. One is chopping wood, and the other is collecting the chopped wood and bringing to someplace out of my sight and going back for more. I stay as far away from them as I can without touching the water. Then I found the bee hives. Six large cylindrical wooden structures with a light buzzing sound coming from within. I whisper to the bee in my pocket, “Be glad you’re in a jar lil’ buddy.” I have learned a fire spell, though I never really use magic much. I channel some fire and light up three of the bee hives. No more and no less. If I had burned more, then Maven Black-Briar would have had to buy imported honey and that would have been too expensive. This way we can stay on her sweet side of business.

Once the three hives are lit up, I move across and start looking for an escape route, and I see two mercenaries heading for the bee hives! Shoot! No time to look! I take a deep breath and jump off the edge of the island and land in the water with a spaloosh!

Moments later I loose the trail, and looking back over my fur-soaked shoulder, I see the trails of smoke and orange light coming from the estate. Mission accomplished!

Even from here you can see three plumes of smoke rising from the bee hives. The Cat has stuck again!

Now I have to head back to The Ragged Flagon, the headquarters of the Thieves Guild in Riften and report my findings. I bet nobody’s going to like that Aringoth sold the estate to a mysterious buyer, and I’d hate to be near Maven Black-Briar when this hits the fan! Good news is I did the job as cleanly as possible. Aringoth is alive, but the safe is empty and three bee hives are now serving toasted honeycombs.  I left my mark, and it’s as perfect as can be. Time to see what’s next!

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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