Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Skyrim Day 017 - The Forlorn Forsworn

2 Heartfire, 4E201

I should have expected today, but I did not. Blame fatigue or an unwarranted confidence, but my embarrassment at being trapped so easily today is only relieved by how easily I escaped from it.
The bed I had rented went unused, for I was expected at Talos's shrine within the hour of arriving at Markarth. The Dwemer architecture made for a very haphazard arrangement of streets and stairs and more than once I simply hopped off a street on to the one below rather than try to find the stairway. Intuition led me to the Temple of Dibella and after some careful poking around I found a doorway underneath the Temple which, unsurprisingly, opened up to a hallway with a statue of Talos in clear view and Eltrys in somewhat less clear view.
He asked that I investigate why the assaulted woman, Margret, was in Markarth and what reason the would-be murdered, a smelter worker named Weylin, would have to kill her. Any information I found would be rewarded in gold. The task sounded simple at the time, so I agreed.

Margret was in the inn, sitting by the fire. She had not noticed me come in, so I took the opportunity to observe her for a few minutes. She did not appear to be shaken up or troubled by her recent brush with death, instead content to stare into the flames with a mug of something nestled in her lap. I was born so long ago that I cannot even remember the date and this woman did not have me fooled.

She confessed immediately. Margret was not in Markarth to do some shopping for her sister, she was an agent of the Imperial Legion assigned to acquire the deed to the city's silver mine. That she was attacked by an agent of the Forsworn did not seem a coincidence to her and she asked that I keep her informed. I decided to keep Margret's new identity to myself and left the inn intent on bringing Eltrys information on only Weylin.

As soon as I exited the inn I was stopped by a city guard who warned me that my interest in the Forsworn had been noticed and that it would be best for me to become more interested in something else, preferably in another city entirely. Foolishness, of course, for his warning meant that Margret's assault was somehow connected to the city authority. Best always to say as little as possible to your prey.

Shopkeepers are only second to barkeeps in the rumors they hear, so I ventured inside a store near the city gate which was somehow still open in the middle of the night. The owner, Lisbet, complained that the Forsworn raids had robbed her store of business and offered a reward for the return of a gold statue of Dibella. The Forsworn in the mine had not been very difficult, so I saw no reason not to help her.

Lisbet suggested that I visit Thonar Silver-Blood, owner of the local silver mine, if I had any questions about the Forsworn. According to her, his properties outside of the city had been plagued by Forsworn raids and he would be of great help to me in determining what was going on. I did not later appreciate the irony.

A small gift of gold to his wife purchased me access to Thonar and I wasted no time in telling him I was seeking answers about the Forsworn involvement inside of Markarth. He had started to reply when a shout of "For the Forsworn!" erupted at the entrance to his house, his former servants charging down the hall with sword and spell.
Thonar's wife fell instantly to a Forsworn blade before I could dispatch the two assassins, but Thonar was not appreciative of my effort. He blamed me for the death of his wife, but I pointed out that the attack on Margret and the attempt by the city guards to warn me away implicated him in having a connection to everything.

He then admitted that the leader of the Forsworn, a Reachman named Madanach, was imprisoned in his silver mine and allowed to control the Forsworn via messengers in exchange for Thonar being able to point the Forsworn towards his business competitors...allowing him to purchase the ravaged properties at low rates. But Thonar's arrangement had been crumbling and the death of his wife made him realize that his control over Madanach was broken. But he blamed me for his wife's death and swore he would see me in chains alongside Madanach.

Like a fool I took his threat as an outburst stemming from his grief and paid it little mind. My next stop was the Warrens, the "poor" part of  town where most of the miners and blacksmith workers lived. The Warrens were really just the collapsing ground level of the former Dwemer city. The poor of Markarth were out of sight and out of mind...until one tried to stab a woman.
Weylin had done little to hide his involvement with the Forsworn. On his makeshift bed was a letter from 'N' telling him that he had been chosen to strike fear into the hearts of the Nords. The letter instructed him to be at the market, at which point further instructions would somehow be communicated. I needed now to find out who 'N' was and left the Warrens.

Predictably a man was waiting for me outside, warning me once again to stop investigating the attempted murder. Not content with simply a warning, he then told me he was also told to teach me a lesson and rushed me with his fists.
Unarmed combat against a Khajiit can be a dangerous thing for we have many advantages others lack. He lasted only a few minutes before gasping that he had enough. While wiping the blood out of his eyes and nose he ruefully admitted that 'N' was a man known as 'Nelos the Nose', a sort of manager of Markarth's criminal underworld. I thanked him for his help and went to arrange an appointment with Nelos and his nose.

His name was well-deserved, his nose was the longest, most crooked one I have ever seen and I have seen quite a few noses in my time.
Much as Thonar did, Nelos confessed to everything almost without my asking for it. He admitted that the Forsworn acted on orders written by Madanach and delivered through himself, stating that he had been doing this for almost twenty years now. When I asked why he was being so honest with his involvement, he calmly asked me why I thought I would be allowed to leave. Once again: say as little to your prey as possible!

A kick to the side of his knee incapacitated him and a shove into the fireplace in front of him guaranteed he would be of no use during the fight I had preemptively started. His servants rushed at me with short blades and we bloodily danced around the house to the tune of the Nose's screaming. Our melee ended in the dining room.
It was time to return to Eltrys with what I had found and accomplished.

But Thonar was a man of his word. When I stepped inside the shrine, I was suddenly pushed further inside by a guard I had not seen follow me in. Inside where three more guards and the corpse of Eltrys splayed atop the feet of Talos.
Of course I was under arrest for the Eltrys murder and the guards freely confessed to having set me up on Thonar's orders. The talkative guard complained that I had left a lot of work for them to do, but I cannot say I feel particularly sorry about that. With three guards in front of me, one behind, and the rest in Thonar's pocket I decided surrendering was the most prudent course of action.

And with that I became Cidhna Mine's newest worker.

Khajiit are not miners by nature and I felt the itching to escape as soon as I entered the 'common' area. A dour man was sitting cross-legged in front of a fire as I arrived and a huge Orsimer with a pickax in his belt was standing near a door. The sounds of mining echoed from the tunnels leading away from the strange duo, but I was told my sentence was life, so I doubted anyone would be commuting my stay in exchange for silver ore.
The dour man, Uraccen, pointed me to the giant Orsimer, Borkul 'the Beast' when I asked about speaking with Madanach. Gaining access to Madanach meant having to deal with Borkul. He refused to let me by and dismissively told me the only way I was getting by was through him. With apparently no other option I challenged the Orsimer to what would have appeared to be a rather one-sided fistfight.
The other prisoners came running to watch Borkul beat the stupid Khajiit into a pulp, but the battle was over sooner than they had probably hoped for. It pays to not underestimate a Khajiit's claws.
And with that I left the bleeding Borkul and disappointed prisoners behind and entered into Madnach's little domain. It was not much: a small hallway, a locked door, and at the end, his personal room.
He had not heard my fight outside with his bodyguard, nor had he heard me enter the room. In front of me, oblivious, was the leader of the Forsworn. Thonar Silver-Blood was certainly no friend of mine, but he was not leading a small rebellion in a land already wracked by civil war.
He had been writing a speech before his neck was snapped and it spoke of a secret tunnel into the city via a door near his cell. The key around his neck unlocked the door I had passed and I made sure to carefully lock it behind me as I escaped Cidhna Mine. This passage led through an undeveloped part of the Dwemer ruins that was full of spiders and Dwemer mechanicals. With no weapons, armor, or useful spells I could only run as fast as possible past all the things that tried to kill me.

I managed to reach the exit with all my limbs attached and to my dismay I found myself facing Thonar once again. His "eyes" inside the Mine had quickly informed him of Madanach's demise and he thanked me for eliminating one of his problems. To show his gratitude I was pardoned of my "crime" and all of my equipment was returned to me. He also gave me his family ring so that the rest of the city would know what I had done for it...or so he said.

I do not believe I will be spending much more time in Markarth, ring or no ring. But right now, I need some sleep.

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