20 Last Seed
I woke up this morning in Shenk's Shovel and wasted no time in finding out about the Khajiit bandit, Dro'Zhirr. After a quick breakfast I started asking around the Imperial guilds and shops and Ernand at the Mages Guild helpfully offered that he overheard someone saying that a group of bandits had been seen moving into a small, abandoned mine on the other side of the mountain ridge. I thanked him and decided to follow this lead.
Getting to the other side of the ridge proved far more difficult than it looked. I'm not much of a climber without armor, let alone a tunic of maille, so it was the long walk back into the ashy foyada for me. The weather was unusually clear and I could see the Ghostfence in the distance, ambling around the Red Mountain, which looked deceptively calm. I passed another Daedric ruin, likely also deceptively calm and cautiously skirted around it.
The bandit's cave was tucked into the mountains at the end of a small canyon off the main foyada. Mindful to make use of my magical abilities as often as possible, I wisely spoke the words of my invisibility spell and cracked open the cave's door. My intention was to sneak in and gather information, but when I had opened the door I found myself staring at a very eager looking, axe-wielding Orc. He must have assumed whomever opened the door was standing just outside, because he yelled some battle-cry and charged out the door...right at me.
Now, I've never had to fight Orcs in Cyrodiil. There were two Orcs in the Auxiliaries and several in the Legion and their strength and pure enthusiasm has always left me glad that I wasn't fighting against them. So when I found my invisible self in the way of an attacking Orc my first thought was to dive out of the way. I'm glad I didn't, my invisibility would have worn off by the time he had realized no one was outside and even if I could have sneaked in behind him I'd still be dealing with him on the way out.
Instead, I braced my spear, thankfully within the sphere of my spell, and thrust it right into his abdomen. I don't know why I expected that to slow him down. Instead, he kept running as the shock and pain hit him and collided into me, wrenching the spear out of my hands as he tumbled into the dry dust of the foyada. A sharp stab with my sword into the base of his unarmored skull mercifully ended his life. Fight smarter, not harder, right? A quick search of his body revealed nothing useful or valuable.
With the doorman safely deceased, I tried recasting the invisibility spell, but couldn't draw the magicka required. I elected to use my natural Khajiit stealth instead of using a potion, which didn't work out nearly as well.
I crept along the stone walls and managed to catch snippets of a conversation between two women, a Dunmer and a Redguard. As I tried to quietly approach for a better view my foot caught on something and I wound up smashing my shield into the wall while I struggled not to fall over. Naturally, this alarmed the women and they showed the same lack of restraint and strategy as their Orc comrade, drawing weapons and charging down the corridor. They were poorly armed, the Dunmer with a dagger and the Redguard with a chitin spear. The ease at which both fell make me feel a little guilty.
I felt considerably less guilty when I turned the corner and found the first slave pen carved out of a recess in the wall. Inside were two Khajiit, a mated pair, both traders, who had been kidnapped while doing business on the mainland. When I freed them they told me they were heading for Vivec and hopefully back home and advised I visit Vivec if I hadn't already. On their way out, the female, whose name I never got, gave me a quick estimate of how many bandits were in the cave. Subtracting the three I had slain, I figured there were only two left, one of which would be Dro'Zhirr.
The not-Dro'Zhirr was a Bosmer woman, whom I successfully managed to approach without her noticing. Covered in blood as I was and she armed with only a wooden staff and no armor, I tried the honorable thing and announced myself, demanding her surrender. She laughed and said she didn't remain Dro'Zhirr's favorite through cowardice. I expected with her weak armament to have some control over magicka, but she simply swing the staff at me, which though iron-shod at the ends, lacked weight to do me serious damage. I was careful to ensure her end was quick and painless, the futility of her fight demanded it of me.
After the deaths of his gang, Dro'Zhirr's surrender seemed like cowardice rather than prudence. I told him I had come for Aeta's treasures when he asked why such a "great and powerful warrior" had bothered with his tiny band of thieves. He seemed surprised and offered to give me the jewels in exchange for half of the reward money. The notion that I would work with him after slaying five people to get to him was ridiculous and I counter-offered by suggesting it might be in his long-term interest to hand over Aeta's goods, which seemed to have sentimental value at best.
He refused, insisting he would need the money to enter into honest business, having seen the error of his ways. I'm not sure who he thought he was fooling, but I did not fail to notice his left hand dropping slowly to his belt. So when he suddenly lunged at me it came to no great surprise. His weapon of choice might have been one of Ra'Virr's "Devil" weapons, the simple iron dagger morphed into a wicked looking Daedric...dagger, for lack of a better term. The weapon cleaved through my shield with little difficulty, but Dro'Zhirr was a thug, not a warrior and he landed only superficial blows. I pressed my attack once his enchantment wore off and he joined his comrades in death, perhaps plundering the afterlife just as ineffectually as they did in life.
Just behind Dro'Zhirr's shabby living space was a second slave pen, this one with two Argonians. They weren't aware of other slaves in the cavern, so they were probably the earliest acquisition. Unlike the Khajiit they had no idea what to do with their freedom, so I revealed that I had freed other slaves and that they were headed to Vivec. They agreed to head there as well and both stopped to kick Dro'Zhirr's corpse on the way out.
The sun was already setting when I left the cave, having spent some time rifling through the group's inventory. The pickings were slim, Dro'Zhirr's enchanted weapon is probably the most valuable item I have taken. Aeta was thankful to receive her family's heirlooms back again and handed me a purse of three hundred Septims, probably more than what the total value of the gang's cheap goods and lives were worth.
Before turning in at Shenk's Shovel I stopped by to see Irgola, a pawnbroker, to see what I could get for the meager items I brought from Dro'Zhirr's cave. I was surprised to sense a great deal of magicka from one of his rings. At my level of competency with spells, any magicka I can sense has to both be pretty strong and attuned to Illusion. I wound up trading a few mundane scrolls for the ring and was rewarded with a ring that would make me both harder to see and to hit. Definitely worth the price.
I decided I didn't want the "Devil" weapon of Dro'Zhirr's and the armory was on the way to the inn, so I stopped there as well. I sold the enchanted dagger and traded in my trusty iron spear, plus quite a lot of money, for a silver-plated, lighter, spear.
I guess today was productive, even though I spent almost all of it trying to find and kill bandits, shades of my previous life in Cyrodiil. Aeta got her family's heirlooms and I bought a better spear. Having met my final contact near Ald'Ruhn, I may travel to the city of Vivec tomorrow to seek training, it is going to be a long walk, but I'm going to have to endure many hardships if I'm going to further my skills in any meaningful way.