21 Last Seed, 4E201
Valtheim Towers was the location of last night's bounty notice, a ruin the innkeeper, Hulda, said used to serve as a toll for Whiterun long ago. With the unification of Skyrim into the Empire, the towers were no longer used and fell into disrepair, often being occupied by one group of bandits or another until the city's guard chased them out. No attempt has ever been made by Whiterun to either repair or destroy the towers and today it fell on me to scour the ruin once again.
I left Whiterun and headed towards the crossroads I had arrived at from Riverwood a few days ago. Distracted by several deer along the northern road, I stalked and successfully shot down one of them before realizing I had walked in the wrong direction for almost an hour, finding myself north of Whiterun and in front of a lot of snow. Though I am sure there is no avoiding it completely, I had no desire to venture into the cold today and turned around.
My second walk past the city allowed me to examine it a bit closer than I have been. Whiterun's defenses are in a deplorable state. The walls are uneven, thin, and crumbling, shored up in places by wooden palisades and garrisoned by far too few guardsmen. Should the civil war bring either the Legion or the Stormcloaks to its gates, Whiterun may find surrender to be the more prudent option.
Ahead of me I encountered a farmer escorting a cow which was painted with blue circles all over it. When I asked him why the cow looked like that he replied that he was going to a giant's camp and was offering the animal as tribute to protect the rest of his herd. I have never heard of anyone voluntarily offering something to a giant before and the farmer admitted it might just be superstition on his part. Still, he did say that his herd had not suffered a loss due to giants since he started his routine, so maybe there is something to it. I was curious to see how the exchange would play out and offered to escort him to whatever camp he was heading to, but he thanked me and declined my offer, stating his concern that an armed person with him might cause trouble. I suppose he had a point.
Along the correct road heading east towards the Towers I was stopped by a woman claiming to be a 'Vigilant of Stendarr', an Order she said was formed after the Oblivion Crisis for the sole purpose of battling Daedra and other "abominations". Given my own history I cannot say I disapprove of such a thing, my life could have been easier long ago had such an Order existed in Cyrodiil during the Crisis rather than after it. Still, I do not recall hearing of the Vigilants in the years following the Crisis, but there is likely a great deal I no longer remember. I am no Daedra, so we parted amicably.
Further down the road I found a shrine of some sort and walked up the hill towards it to investigate, only to be attacked by a would-be necromancer. He had enough skill to summon two skeletons against me, but neither of them were particularly powerful and I dealt with them easily before turning to my assailant. His combat magicka was weak enough for me to shrug off and his skill with a dagger was equally lacking.
He was guarding a Standing Stone attuned with the Ritual birthsign and would aid me in raising my own corpses, should I ever want to do such a thing. I, however, do not and left the Stone alone.
I arrived before the Valtheim Towers just after noon.
Two bandits were immediately visible: one atop the tower on my side of the river, the other patrolling the bridge between the two. Each were armed with bows and obviously more bandits would be inside the towers. As I studied the area, trying to determine the best way to approach, a woman walked out of the tower in front of me and attended to a cooking pot set just outside the door.
She fell first, struck in the back by an arrow and her friend atop the tower joined her via a close-range shot into the neck. That cleared one tower. The fellow patrolling the bridge took an arrow in the leg, causing him to plummet to the ground below, killing him as well. My luck was holding strong.
But it was not to last. In the second tower I dueled a considerably more alert bandit which alerted my bounty who was armed with a two-handed hammer. As such, my light hide-covered shield was little use and my armor just about as bad. I gutted the first bandit quickly, but had to retreat from what I guess was the leader owing to my inability to withstand such powerful blows. He was heavily armored though and I could move much quicker, beating him to the far side of the bridge I had come from by enough that I was able to fire arrows back down the bridge at him.
Armed with a two-handed weapon, he could do nothing against them and re-engaged me in melee combat with four arrows sticking out of his chest. He soon collapsed at my feet after exhausting himself with desperate, powerful swings of the hammer, all of which I dodged this time. Another bounty done with.
Their loot was not much, most of what was at the Towers was clothing and cheap goods of no use to me. I foundd two Corundum ingots which I can sell at Whiterun and, oddly enough, a helmet made of hides that someone had enchanted with an Illusion spell. An idea came to me and I made sure to collect some clothing before I left, as well as any arrows.
The walk back to Whiterun was peaceful and I stopped to speak with a young woman on the steps up towards Dragonsreach. Her name was Ysolda and she was seeking to learn the ways of the merchant from the Khajiit traders that worked the caravans. She had an offer from one Ma'dran to teach her in exchange for a mammoth's tusk, the acquisition of which was consuming most of her time. I thought it a good thing for Khajiit and Nords to work together in Skyrim, so I told her I would return with a tusk if I ever came across one. She thanked me and I proceeded into Dragonsreach to turn it another bounty.
Before leaving I visited Farengar and purchased his Illusion spell books, part of the plan I have been thinking of since the fight at the Towers. He had both 'Calm' and 'Frenzy' spells, each of great use to me...if I could cast them.
Right now I cannot, but I will work on that. After renting the room at 'The Bannered Mare' I removed my armor and replaced it with the clothes from the Tower. If I had been more silent I might not have had to run from the bandit there and even the lightest armor will creak and rattle occasionally. Now I am wearing a simple cheap tunic, pants, and shoes. I am unarmored, but my steps are now almost completely silent. Should I bolster my skill with Illusion magicka, I can bring havoc to my enemies while remaining unseen. Such is my plan, for it does appear I am back to fighting once again.
I asked around the Inn for the location of a mammoth's tusk that would not involve killing a mammoth and it was suggested to me that I try looking north of Whiterun where a band of poachers were said to be camping. If anyone has a tusk, it is likely them.