Friday, January 29, 2016

Skyrim Day 016 - Upon A Bed of Stone

1 Heartfire, 4E201

This morning I decided that the next city on my list is Markarth, known for being built over an ancient Dwemer fortification which Markarth was not ashamed to draw its architecture from. Having had quite some experience with Dwemer ruins I was pretty sure I knew what to expect.

As I was leaving Riverwood I came upon a somewhat-hidden shrine to Talos...surrounded by the bodies of his worshipers.
The cause of their death was partially hidden in some nearby bushes. The Thalmor's body had on it a letter evidently from a superior berating his efforts at uncovering this unfortunate group of Talos worshipers. The letter-writer haughtily told the Thalmor, Sanyon, to investigate it himself and stop wasting her time with his worthless reports. She will never know he both succeeded and failed.

While enjoying a peaceful walk along the river I was surprised to discover what appeared to be a now-ancient Oblivion portal gently crumbling on a tiny island in the middle of the river. The sight was surprising and the memories that surfaced were melancholy, even if "good" won in the end...not that it had really mattered, I suppose.
I had just passed Half-Moon Mill when I heard someone in the forest to my left alternately muttering to himself and calling for help. Thinking it a trap I considered walking on, but I could not bring myself to abandon a potentially wounded person to Skyrim's wildlife and approached the voice warily.

It was not a trap, but a wounded hunter sitting in front of a cave. As I approached he asked me if I had any healing draughts to spare and his need for one was obvious, so I gave him one of my weaker ones. He introduced himself as 'Valdr', one of a group of local hunters who had tracked a bear into the cavern he was sitting in front of. Unfortunately the group became the hunted once they entered the cave and the his friends were killed by Spriggans.

He asked if I would accompany him back inside the cave to recover the bodies, but he was in no state to fight off a single Spriggan, let alone the three he estimated. Still feeling somewhat down from my earlier encounter with the ruined Oblivion gate I agreed to take on the task myself in his name, if only to make myself feel a bit better. Valdr was surprised that a stranger would do something like that for him and assured me he would remain outside the cave to await my return.

The remains of the first of the man's friends were not far into the cave. The corpse of the bear they had been hunting lay nearby, but the man had been struck in the back, probably while fleeing.
I was not surprised when the first spriggran jumped out of a tree near the poor man's corpse. A single crossbow bolt was enough to send the creature crashing against the wall, dead. The remaining two Spriggans ambushed me near the second dead hunter, but both proved just as predictable as the first, emerging from the only two large trees in the vicinity. They both fell to my crossbow, one immediately, the other after I unwisely tried using the crossbow as a melee weapon. It worked, sort of, putting the creature off-balance and allowing me to reload, but another attempt at such and I may find myself without a functional weapon.

Valdr was still where I had left him and he presented me his steel "lucky dagger" as a reward. I wonder at how much luck the weapon possesses as all of his friends have died, but he still lives, so that may be something.

Continuing towards Markarth I was of course attacked by bandits, this time a duo consisting of an Orsimer and a Nord. The Orsimer had a lovely garnet hidden upon him, as well as a silver ring with a ruby set into it. I suspect his Nord partner was not aware of them.

Just outside of Markarth I met a Khajiit caravan moving on to their next stop. 'Caravan' might be a bit generous, they were really just four Khajiit with packs on their backs, but the leader was happy to purchase the garnet and ring from me at a good price. I warned them of the dangers I have been encountering along the road, but they were confident that they could deal with whatever they faced.

I knew Markarth depended largely on mining to keep itself solvent and as I entered the outskirts of the city I saw a group of miners gathered together, most of them yelling at a pensive-looking man.
As I drew closer I could hear the miners shouting about the 'Forsworn', otherwise known as the 'Madmen of the Reach'. The trouble I had witnessed was due to a nearby gold mine having been overrun by Forsworn rebels. The miners wanted the mine retaken by the city's guards, but the foreman, Skaggi Scar-Face, could not guarantee a rapid response from the city's forces. Frustrated, everyone was dispersing as I approached Skaggi.

He wearily greeted me, noting that it was unusual to see a Khajiit traveling alone. I let the comment pass and asked him about the occupied mine. He had no more information than the complaints he had just received: Forsworn swarmed into the mine, killed most of the miners, and sent the few survivors fleeing back to the city.

The mine was a gold mine and its liberation would no doubt come with a hefty reward. I had never fought the Forsworn before, so that was a concern, but nevertheless I agreed to make an attempt against the rebels. Skaggi was grateful that someone would help him, but did not think I would survive the attempt. This did not do much for my confidence.

Kolskeggr Mine lay to the northeast of Markarth along the road which eventually led back to Solitude. My first encounter with the Forsworn came in the form of a painted man wearing furs, an antlered helmet, and wielding weapons made solely of wood and stone. It was not a fair fight.
More Forsworn patrolled the interior of the mine, but their haphazard clothing left them defenseless against my crossbow and soon the entire mine was filled with their dead and dying. Before leaving I borrowed a pickax and helped myself to some of the gold ore along the cavern walls. With no treasure coming from the Forsworn I felt I was due a little something.

My reward from the miners was a considerable sum: 750 Septims. Including that with the gold I mined made this little adventure worth almost two thousand Septims, all of which will likely go towards training if I ever visit Winterhold College.

By then night had fallen, but the city's gate was still open. Coincidentally I arrived just in time to witness an attempt on a woman's life. As soon as I had entered the city a man in front of me drew a dagger and started towards a woman whose back was turned to him. A quick flick of my wrist sent my Elven dagger into his own back and he turned on me with a scream just as a nearby guard cut him down for good.
I was able to retrieve my dagger before a horde of guards rushed to the scene, but they were only interested in shooing everyone away from the corpse. The woman whose life I saved thanked me and told me to visit her in the local inn when I had the time and a man who had witnessed the entire episode handed me a letter which he noticed I had dropped. The implication was obvious and I headed to the inn for some privacy.

Privacy was the only thing the 'Silver-Blood Inn' could provide. In keeping true to the Dwemer origin of the city, the beds were solid slabs of stone with furs laid on top of them. Hardly close to my idea of comfort.
The letter that I had "dropped" only said to be at the Shrine of Talos at midnight. That there even was such a shrine surprised me and the short notice surprised me further: it was already halfway to midnight when I entered the inn, leaving me just enough time to write all this down.

I will be leaving for this Shrine in a few moments, provided I can even find it. If not, my mysterious letter-writer will simply have to wait another day.

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