20 Last Seed, 4E201
Over breakfast I decided that the completion of the Bannered Mare's bounty notice was to be my goal for today. It would put some coin in my purse and provide a good opportunity to start sharpening my neglected combat skills. The bounty notice specified that the bandits had taken residence inside ruins northwest of Whiterun the locals called 'Silent Moons Camp'.
On my way out I stopped by the blacksmith's shop just by the gate and spoke with the woman operating the forge. She is Adrianne Avenicci, daughter of Proventus Avenicci, the steward of Whiterun. I spoke to Adrianne about my self-made armor and she critiqued my result, showing me where I had succeeded and where improvements could be made. In return, she asked if I was going to the Whiterun palace of Dragonreach and when I replied that I was working on a bounty for her father she asked that I bring a two-handed greatsword to the Jarl as a token of her esteem. I saw no reason not to do this, so I agreed to pick up the sword later while on my way to Dragonreach to collect the bounty reward.
'Silent Moons Camp' is really a camp of bandits built around an old Nordic ruin, perhaps part of Whiterun's defenses long ago. The land surrounding Whiterun was teeming with life and I managed to shoot two deer while on my way to the bandits. I passed a giant's camp from a safe distance away and the creature just stared at me dully as I cautiously walked around his home.
Further on I passed a small lake into which some joker had planted a skeletal arm and hand clutching an iron sword. Perhaps they thought it was funny, but I failed to see the humor in it. I left the macabre construction alone.
'Silent Moons Camp' was almost certainly a castle of some kind long ago. I had never really "explored" Skyrim during my previous stays, so I imagined the ruins to be somewhat more...ancient and less built up. It is clear to me that the location derives its name from the bandits' makeshift lodgings around the ruin rather than the ruin itself.
I could see no bandits milling about as I approached the ruined fortress, so I did my best to creep along silently hoping to eliminate a bandit or two without alerting any others. In this I was successful, for my creeping was not very silent and I spooked a deer to the side of me that I had somehow failed to notice. The deer dashed towards 'Silent Moons Camp', drawing out one bandit who evidently hoped for a decent meal tonight. She drew an arrow on the deer but never got a chance to fire it. My archery skills are woefully in need of practice, but I managed a lucky shot right into the side of her neck and she dropped right where she stood.
A second bandit was cooking further into the ruins and he succumbed to arrow-shot without realizing I was behind him. However, his body fell forwards against the cauldron, dislodging it and causing it to roll down the fortress's stairway, alerting everyone else in 'Silent Moons Camp'. Such is life sometimes.
'Everyone else' was only three more bandits, one of which was inside the ruins. Much like the bandits inside Riverwood's iron mine, the former occupants of 'Silent Moons Camp' had made the effort to install a small blacksmith's shop at the top of the ruin, though I cannot imagine why that was chosen in place of simply setting up the equipment outside, which would have been far easier.
There was a chest in the workshop, but it did not contain much. I took a staff from it that I might be able to sell in Whiterun and pocketed potions and an amethyst I found in what must have been the bandit leader's personal chamber.
The fights were not as difficult as I feared that they would be. I am certainly not the warrior I used to be when I was descending into Oblivion after Sigil Stones, but I feel that with some practice and experience I can train myself back to that level. But another part of me wonders why I would even bother. That way lies more stress, fatigue, combat, and pain. I have lived since the Oblivion Crisis largely doing odd jobs, bothering no one, and not staying in one place for very long. It has worked so far.
These thoughts occupied me on the walk back to Whiterun and I can honestly say I have not yet reached a conclusion as to the plan for my future. While on my way back I disturbed a colony of butterflies which I took the time to chase down and rather cruelly de-wing. Their wings are valuable as alchemy ingredients and the rare varieties of butterfly have wings that are worth quite a bit for what they are.
I collected Adrianne's sword after I got back to Whiterun and was fortunate to witness an argument between a husband and wife just before Dragonsreach. Their argument was not a domestic one, but one involving a sword of the man's family that he was trying to raise enough coin to hire someone to fetch it. Despite my misgivings earlier about my own future I agreed to track down the man's heirloom. A little more practice cannot hurt.
The Jarl of Whiterun was not receiving visitors, but despite that I was still allowed entrance into the palace, Dragonsreach. As soon as I ascended the stairs into the Jarl's presence I was approached by a very hostile and direct Dunmer who demanded to know my business with the Jarl.
Telling her that I had come on behalf of Riverwood gained me an audience with a bored-looking and slouched Jarl. Not exactly what I had been expecting. Jarl Balgruuf the Greater is his name and title and he demanded to know if I had proof of the rumors of Helgen's attack by the Dragon. I pointed out that I had an excellent view of the beast as the Imperial Legion was trying to cut my head off and he laughed, complimenting me on my honesty about my criminal past...a past I do not possess.
The Jarl ordered men to be sent to Riverwood and heaved himself off his throne so that I might be introduced to his "court wizard", a Nord with the pretentious name of 'Farengar Secret-Fire'. He confessed to being obsessed with Dragons and was instantly ready to believe my story of what happened to Helgen. His research led to writings alluding to a stone tablet that has a map of all the Dragons' burials following the ancient Dragon War and supposedly a translation of the Dragon alphabet...though I cannot see why a Dragon would need to write anything down anyway. Coincidentally this tablet is said to be deep within 'Bleak Falls Barrow', the same place the trader of Riverwood said his golden dragon claw had disappeared to.
Perhaps it is not a coincidence after all. Maybe the Stormcloaks made off with golden claw in hopes of it leading them to the tablet. If they have woken up on Dragon, perhaps the location of the others may lead them to several more, perhaps even a dozen. No army could stand up to a dozen Dragons, Skyrim's independence would be secured...not to mention the possibilities of conquest. It appears my future is going to involve more dungeon-delving than I would like. I agreed to see about retrieving the tablet and I may as well fetch the claw too.
On my way out I spoke with the steward, gave him his daughter's sword, and collected my bounty, the original reason I had come to Dragonsreach at all.
I returned to 'The Bannered Mare' and again asked for rumors of work hoping for something actually inside the town. Instead I got handed another bounty notice, this one in a place called 'Valtheim Towers' to the east of Whiterun, along the road.
Another room at 'The Bannered Mare', another night in Skyrim.