29 Sun's Dusk
Life continues to impart lessons upon me in a very painful way. I woke this morning full of confidence that I could make a lot of progress today and I am going to bed only further convinced that sinking Solstheim to the bottom of the sea would only be an improvement.
The morning started as they have been as of late: on a pile of bear furs in a tiny wooden room in a house staffed entirelly with drunken Nords. I cannot begin to imagine how a Khajiit straight out of Elsweyr would have dealt with it.
The Wind Stone was my first task of the day and the only one that did not cause me any grief. I passed the Beast Stone while on my way and the Stone is still emitting light and the Good Beast was placidly gnawing on some berries nearby. I wonder how long he (or she) is planning on staying there.
Further up the river I came across a couple clearly enamored with one another. Both were Nords, the man was fully armored in the typical way of this island and the woman seemed content to wear heavy fur clothing. Both were staring at each other, apparently to the exclusion of anything around them. Neither of them seemed much of a threat, so I approached and cautiously asked what they were doing.
The man replied that he and the woman shared a love that his wife would never understand and the woman merely asked me to gaze upon the man's masculine visage. The meeting between the three of us seemed rather surreal considering how dangerous the wilderness has been for me, but the couple simply wished me a safe day and I moved on, leaving the two of them behind.
Naturally it started to snow as I grew close to the Wind Stone and soon I was stumbling through a blizzard that suddenly whipped up and reduced my vision to barely an arm's length ahead of me. Truly the Blight Storm of Solstheim. The storm eased a bit when I judged myself very close to the Stone and I merely had to contend with a heavy snowfall by the time I actually reached it.
The Wind Stone reacted to its demand being met in the same way the Beast Stone did. Approaching the Stone caused it to glow and begin emitting small baubles of light and I had to satisfy myself with that reward.
I began this meandering quest from the Stone closest to the Skaal's village and the Stones made a sort of circle around the entire island. Visiting the Wind Stone after the Beast Stone put me on a westward path which eventually curled around Fort Frostmoth and to the southeast peninsula where the Sun Stone sat. With the exception of the Tree Stone, all of the Stones on my map are marked either along or at the end of rivers and the Tree Stone sits between two of them anyway. I have not seen any fish in the running water I have peered into, but the waterways were apparently important enough to someone in the past. Perhaps it was possible to use small boats at one point. It would certainly be preferable to walking around this place.
The Water Stone was next and was marked as sitting near a small river on the west coast, near some large hills. A crude road snaked past the Wind Stone and I followed it heading west hoping against all expectations that it would lead directly to the Water Stone. It did not.
What it did lead to was very mysterious. The road died out at the foot of a large hill which had a cavern built into it at the very top, if the furs covering the entrance is any indication. A huge snow-white wolf was prowling at the entrance, but my Daedric weaponry made short work of it.
Attempting to move the furs aside brought forth a loud yell from within the cave, asking me what the name of the wolf the Nords called 'Hrothmund's Bane' was. I had no idea and I did not want to risk the ire of whatever Nord was inside challenging me, so I yelled back that I did not know the wolf's name and that I was therefore leaving. As I turned around the voice smugly informed me that I was allowed to come back and try again, if I wanted.
While circling around the hill I was charged by two of the blue pig-riding goblins. The melee very quickly turned into my scramble up a steep hillside while the two stout warriors tried goading their mounts up the hill. The amulet of levitation that I brought with me was of little actual help, for there was nowhere to levitate to that they would not be able to reach me at.
Recklessness was the order of the day and I charged back down the hill, managing to knock one of the goblins off his mount as I hurdled past. The goblin proved to be a lot less threatening once dismounted and he expired before his confused mount and mounted partner could turn on me. The furry pigs are fair warriors on their own and I took quite a few jabs of its tusks before I pinned it into the snow with my spear, leaving only mounted goblin left. He had failed to take advantage of my distraction with the pig creature, apparently unsure as to whether he should flee or attack. By the time he made up his mind it his would-be advantage had been lost and he and his mount fell quickly.
The Water Stone was much easier to find than the Wind Stone had been, as it appropriately faced the water. Its task was an easy one, but strange: I first had to seek an island west of the stone and seek something called the 'Swimmer' who would lead me to the 'Water of Life'. The Stone was already on the shore and the only thing west of it was a collection of large rocks jutting out from the shore, so I headed there, not sure as to what I was looking for.
I certainly would never have guessed my guide was to be a black-furred version of the fat crawling things that seem to infest Solstheim's waterways. Like the Good Beast, it seemed content to crawl about its small isle until it saw me, at which point it made a barking noise and jumped into the sea. It was obvious I was to follow, but swimming in the icy waters would have been the death of me. I had two choices: Water Walk behind it or attempt to follow it via the coastline. I chose to Water Walk and hopefully have enough magicka to get me back to the coast at the end of the creature's journey.
My hope of not getting wet was dashed when our trip ended in what seemed like the middle of the sea. I could only barely make out the outline of a metal door set into the water below, making a dive into the ocean a very unwelcome requirement.
The underwater door opened to a water-filled tunnel, but I had enough energy to use my water-breathing spell, ruining my plan to walk back to the coastline after all this. The tunnel eventually led to a small alcove with a lonely skeleton and a collection of potions. I dispatched the skeleton without any trouble and spotted an ornate silver flask sitting among the plain vials of some spoiled elixir. I guessed correctly that it was the 'Water of Life' that the stone sent me to collect.
Swimming out of the cave, I immediately headed towards the closet shore, some distance away from the Stone. I encountered nothing along the coastline though and thanks to Azura's gift covered the distance fairly quickly.
Approaching the stone resulted in bubbles floating out and up along the Stone, popping as they began to drift away. And so the Water Stone was satisfied.
Three stones remained and the next was to be the Earth Stone, almost directly south of the Water Stone. The land turned from snow back to tough grass and tall trees and my foes changed from pig-riding goblins to bands of hostile Nords. I spied three of them making camp across a small river and tried to sneak by them, but I was spotted and all three jumped into the water, swimming towards me. I cannot understand why they did something so stupid, but not one of them made it to my side of the riverbank and the arrow-filled bodies drifted gently with the current and eventually out to sea.
When I reached the Earth Stone I was told to travel northeast and seek the 'Cave of the Hidden Music' so that I might learn the 'Song of the Earth'. If experience is any guide, the cave will be full of undead Nords and wolves, nothing I felt I was up to dealing with at the end of the day.
Instead I Recalled back to Ald'ruhn once again, this time to purchase alchemy ingredients so that I can grind my own potions of healing and restoration when I am on Solstheim. If it were not so hostile a place I would say the island is begging for some sort of settlement, but I fear such an enterprise is doomed to fail in the face of the difficult environment.
Tomorrow I hope to complete my business with the Stones, but that may be reaching for a bit too much. At the very least I expect to complete the rituals for the Earth and Tree Stones, leaving but one Stone for the next day. This task has been very difficult and dangerous, but also invaluable for teaching me what to expect from the island.