3 Heartfire, 4E201
I suppose an immortal Khajiit could not have expected to remain out of Daedric sight for long. Today was only to involve the return of a statue and wound up with me confronting yet another Daedric Prince of which I want little to do with.
The walk from Dragon Bridge to Markarth contained all of the usual encounters: attack by Sabre Cats an assassin, a group of bandits, the acquisition of cheap alchemy ingredients, and a wary encounter with some other brave souls journeying across Skyrim.
The Sabre Cats attacked in a trio as I was walking across a hill, but the animals proved to be susceptible to the weak Fury Illusion spell I had purchased some time ago and they soon turned on each other which allowed me to flee down the other side of the hill.
Back on the road I a farmer and his wife stopped to warn me about the dragon attacks plaguing Skyrim. I have only witnessed the one at Helgen, but thanked the man for his concern and asked where they were going. They didn't know, their home having been destroyed, allegedly, by a dragon. I was not sure if I believed his story, but gave the two of them five Septims each and wished them luck.
The pointy ends of the Dark Brotherhood sprang out at me alongside the river, another young Khajiit hoping to make a name for herself among a bandit of mercenary murderers. A small part of me felt bad for having to kill her, but a much larger part did not want to be stabbed. She refused to walk away from the fight and paid the inevitable price.
I returned to Markarth before noon and wasted no time in returning the statue to Lisbet. My reward was seven hundred and fifty Septims, making the statue a lot more valuable than I assumed. After exchanging some pleasantries with the woman I walked out of her shop intending to leave the city for good, but a man further up the street called out to me, so like a fool I actually stopped and listened to the man's plea.
The man was 'Vigilant Tyranus', a member of the 'Vigilants of Stendarr', a group of Daedric hunters I have talked with a bit along the roads. He had come to Markarth on the rumor that a home was secretly being used for Daedric worship. The townspeople had been of no help, so he was looking for someone to follow him inside should there be hostiles present. I estimated the chance of encountering Daedra inside of Markarth to be fairly low, so I agreed. I wish I had not.
Tyranus immediately noticed as we walked in that there was fresh food laid out on the tables and the furniture and fabrics were clean and without rot. The house had obviously not been abandoned for long. As we proceeded further into the house I began to hear a voice in my head urging me to kill Tyranus, but Barbas was in my head long before this new voice and I was able to ignore it.
However, the Vigilant at my side must have been receiving the same malevolent messages I was ignoring. He became increasingly distracted as the voice grew angrier and finally whomever it was snapped and screamed at us to fight or die together just as fruit, vegetables, and small furniture started to fly at us. I thought it a mere annoyance, but Tyranus panicked and tried to flee out of the house. I followed him but the door was stuck tight, no doubt due to our twisted host. With a shout that he was not going to die here, he drew his mace and attacked me!
Not everyone has had centuries of experience in dealing with Daedra and Daedric Princes, but Tyranus succumbed rather quickly for a Vigilant of Stendarr. He succumbed just as quick to a merciful dagger thrust to the back of his head, killing the poor man instantly without pain.
The voice was pleased then, purring that my reward was to be found on the lowest level of the house. The front door was still stuck shut, so I had little choice but to descend deeper. Each room now had a black, oily cloud hanging about the ceiling, an obvious sign that I was not moving towards something I was going to like.
The home's previous occupants had dug out of the house and into an unused portion of the Dwemer city where I can only assume they decided to install a shrine to Molag Bal, a thoroughly unpleasant Daedric Prince with which involvement could only lead to poor things. I sensed the trap before I approached the shrine, but knew that I would not be leaving the house without springing it.
Sure enough, touching the blood-caked iron mace embedded in the shrine caused spikes to shoot up from the floor around me, trapping me. Predictably the voice, Molag Bal, took great delight in having tricked me and asked what I saw. I replied that I saw an altar and he agreed, stating that it had seen better days, mostly when his worshipers would bring people to it in order to murder them in the Prince's name.
But the altar was not actually sending him any...whatever Daedric Princes receive from worship. A servant of Boethiah, the Daedric Prince of death, had intentionally damaged it to prevent Molag Bal's worshipers from using it. Evidently they were not up to the task of restoring it and abandoned the house and its secret. For some reason Molag Bal thought I would be interested in helping him, but I demanded that he let me go, not actually expecting that to work. To my surprise it did: the spikes retracted and he sighed within my head before letting me know his favor was still available if I rescued the wounded priest of Boethiah and brought him back to the shrine. I could see no reason why Molag Bal would want the priest at his shrine again and resolved to have nothing to do with either Molag Bal or Boethiah. I suppose to them I am a terrible aberration, but I did not ask for my inability to die.
The front door to the house was now unlocked and I stepped over the unfortunate Tyranus on my way out, never to return.
I started my way towards Solitude once again and hope to be at the College of Winterhold within a few days. At a crossroads I came upon three Imperial Legionnaires standing around three dead and nearly naked men. One of the "soldiers" heard me approach and warned me that holding a loaded crossbow around Imperial soldiers warranted a fine of two hundred Septims plus a search of one's belongings to aid in the war effort. I remarked that I had I known that I would have been carrying some shoes, for they had none and the bodies did. Fools to think they could deceive me.
With that I sent a crossbow bolt through the throat of the Orsimer who had tried to shake me down and charged at his two brigand comrades. One was lucky enough to block my chop at his neck and returned with his own semi-skilled blows. The other brigand wisely circled around the two of us to flank me, but was lacking in his approach. When he leaped at my back I turned and drove the pommel of my blade into his face, turning his snarl into a scream as his nose turned into a satisfying spray of blood. A swift cut into his shoulder rendered his weapon useless and I sprang behind his rapidly folding body so that my original foe could watch the man's throat get slit. Morale is key in any fight.
Watching his "leader" get a bolt to the throat and his other comrade get his neck opened took the wind out of the surviving man's sails, as they say on the coast. He halfheartedly started to attack me, but I smashed the sword out of his hand and drove my sword through his stolen Imperial leathers and into his chest. Predictably the trio had nothing of value on them, save for the insight that a more powerful Fury Illusion spell would have been very useful.
I arrived at Dragon Bridge as it began to grow dark and walked through towards Solitude without any further bandits, animal attacks, or Daedric requests. The guards were changing to the night shift as I approached Solitude's gates and gave me no trouble with entering after dark.
There are tasks I have yet to perform for people in Solitude, but I am not sure if I should attend to them now or proceed on along the coast to Winterhold. I face the dismal prospect of venturing through the province's coldest region, but as the name suggests there is no other way to reach the College of Winterhold other than by traveling through what many would consider to be a rather poor winter.