31 Last Seed, 4E201
I am now free of Barbas and his master, for good! Leaving Rorikstead early in the morning, I eagerly continued my journey to Haemar's Shame where Barbas told me he would be waiting.
The walk from Rorikstead to Falkreath was surprisingly without event and I reached Falkreath by late morning. Lod was busy at his shop and I took a moment of his time to greatly understate my past few days by telling him the dog he had been seeking wound up being far more trouble than he was worth. Lod was not disappointed that I had "failed" to bring him his hound and considered the matter closed with my return, handing me twenty-five Septims. Something seemed a bit off, but I accepted the money and asked about his wares.
It was then that I made a joyful reunion with a very old friend: the crossbow!
My sudden excitement surprised the both of us, but after ruefully admitting that I was back to the life I was trying to leave it seems so right that I should be wielding one of my weapons from Vvardenfell. Now all I have to do is sharpen a branch and I will have a spear again too. Lod warily explained that crossbows were being reintroduced into the Legion as they were much simpler to make and able to be wielded by just about anyone. The single crossbow in his shop was for a Legion officer, but I had to have it at any cost! "Any" cost turned out to be the outrageous sum of three hundred and sixty Septims and of course the man had no bolts for the weapon. He did provide me with a copy of instructions meant for the Legion on how best to craft some, so I resolved to have myself some bolts before the day ended. With our business of dog and crossbow concluded I wished him well and departed Falkreath.
Walking from Flakreath to the cavern of Haemar's Shame proved a bit more exciting.
Two Dark Brotherhood assassins, the first a Dunmer, the second a Khajiit, attacked me while I was walking down the road. Each seemed to have no knowledge of the other and neither was skilled in their craft. At least the Dunmer was kind enough to bring an Orsimer sword with him, the Khajiit frugally brought cheap iron.
Barbas was waiting for me by Clavicus Vile's shrine and immediately remarked on my tardiness, a blow I deigned to reply in kind. Instead I presented the Daedric Prince with his cumbersome weapon and he offered to let me keep it...if I killed Barbas with it, a scornfully disloyal act. Unwilling to play a game I was sure to lose I reminded Clavicus of our bargain and insisted that he take Barbas back in exchange for the Rueful Axe.
Despite his apparent desire to be away from the dog, Clavicus seemed to be just as happy reunited, saying that with the two of them together his full power would be restored. He dismissed me with an offhand offering of his 'boon': the Masque of Clavicus Vile, another Daedric artifact I neither want nor have much use for. Curious, I tried to wear the Masque only to confirm my suspicion that the attempt would nearly slice my ears off. Much like Dawnbreaker I am now stuck carrying this thing around until I can find a better place to leave it.
The closest town to the shrine is Riverwood, so I went back down the road, passed the dead bodies of the two assassins, and walked once again through Helgen. Hadvar was happy to see me and examined my crossbow, but was unconvinced of its superiority over the bow. His uncle helped me craft bolts for the weapon and I now have sixty steel-headed bolts in a quiver hanging off of my hip, a far more comfortable arrangement than a quiver full of rattling arrows.
I have taken a room in the 'Sleeping Giant Inn' and am not sure where I shall go tomorrow. I do wish to visit the College in Winterhold eventually, so I may begin to travel there. Otherwise I might visit Markarth, a city I have never yet seen or return to Solitude to complete some of my agreed-upon tasks.