28 Last Seed, 4E201
I cannot wait to be rid of Barbas. He cost me six extra Septims for the room in Dragons Bridge and today almost my life. Eager to be done with Clavicus Vile's task, we left Dragons Bridge before the sun had risen and with Barbas in the lead made our way towards Rimerock Burrow and the Rueful Axe.
The weather quickly grew to be quite disagreeable, cold, and snowy as we grew closer to the northern coast, but this might have been the reason I was not attacked by another roadside assassin this morning. Instead Barbas decided to attack some sort of snow spirit in the shape of what might have been an eel.
It is easy to be fearless when you are the companion of a Daedric Prince, but I did not appreciate having to fight such a creature without good reason. The flying eel-thing concentrated solely on Barbas and did not respond to my hacking away at its ghostly form with an Orsimer dagger, making me think I was having no effect. However, it eventually exploded into a cloud of snow and ice, though whether it was due to my dagger or Barbas's teeth, I cannot be sure. It's "corpse", a pile of snow, had within it two icicles which Barbas helpfully informed me was the thing's teeth and suggested that I keep them to sell or experiment with.
That was not the only fight Barbas picked: two huge wolves also met their end at Barbas's jaws and when Barbas ran ahead of me around a corner I thought he had also killed a bandit, but the man had been obviously dead for some time. On his body was a note saying that he was close to finding the "Hunting Bow of Chills", which the man suspected was in a place called 'Greenspring Hollow'. Where this is I neither know nor care.
Miraculously the air became warmer and the snow lessened further on and we came upon a ruin of some kind alongside the road. Once again, Barbas charged forward on his own, barking and snarling. He disappeared into the rubble and soon after I heard a shout, followed by several others. On his own, Barbas decided to attack another group of bandits.
This time I was taken notice of and fought a duel with an archer while Barbas massacred the bandits for no other reason than to amuse himself. I killed the archer, he about five other men.
Continuing along the road my worst fears almost became realized: I was being followed not by one Barbas, but two!
Fortunate for my sanity, the second dog was merely a dog that looked very similar to the hound that Barbas has chosen to appear as. The dog looked healthy and lacking Barbas's ability to "talk", could not tell me why it was wandering the frozen road. The dog must have had its reasons, for it simply continued down the road, paying us no more attention than a glance.
Finally Barbas and I reached 'Rimerock Burrow', a small cave dug into the side of a hill almost directly underneath a ruined tower. The cave was only one "room" and guarded by a Flame Atronach whose demise somehow failed to alert the Conjurer who was in possession of the Axe. So intent was he on his enchanting table that he neither heard his Atronach's doomed battle nor my (somewhat) stealthy approach. An Orsimer dagger into his back and the Axe was mine.
On our way back from the Burrow we passed another group of Legionnaires escorting a prisoner and I heard them talking among themselves about seeing boats drawn up on the shore to the northeast. The boats sounded like they might lead me to the bandits the innkeeper at the 'Four Shields Tavern' in Dragons Bridge had mentioned and the day was still young, so Barbas and I took a detour along the barren shore of Skyrim.
The small boats outside of the sea cave disguised the naval tragedy within: a large sailing ship crushed by a cave-in.
With no way to get their fleet to see the pirates (I suppose) lashed their remaining ships together and turned them into floating houses of a sort, each with several levels and bridges to the small amount of land made available by the cavern.
I managed to shoot down two of the land-locked pirates before Barbas alerted everyone else to our arrival, but the geography of the cave worked against its residents, for they were forced to run from their ships, across a small plateau, down a narrow path, and finally the distance between them and I. This trip allowed me to shoot another two of them as they came charging and yelling at us and Barbas distracted another, giving me the opportunity to face the pirates' Captain on my own. A dagger against a two-handed greatsword is nowhere near an equal match, especially when the person with the dagger gets inside your swing and you are standing at the edge of a high drop. All it took was a timed rush into the Captain as he began to swing his sword and down he tumbled into the water below. He was a much easier target while he was trying to swim to one of his boats. Unfortunately I had to later go into the water myself to retrieve his body, but such is life.
A quick walk around the grotto revealed not much treasure so I could only hope that the people Barbas and I killed were the targets of the bounty letter I had been given.
By the time we reached the gates of Solitude the moon was already high but the guard gave us no trouble with entering the city.
An execution was in progress as we entered the city, but I had no desire to watch another man lose his head, so I paid it no attention and went immediately to the local inn. Being a major city, Solitude's inn boasted a much nicer room than the ones I have been staying at.
The Rueful Axe is in my possession, but I have to now walk all the way back to Clavicus Vile's shrine and I also have another Daedric Prince, Meridia, patiently awaiting my attention. I complete one task and I have three more, it seems.