Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Skyrim Day 030 - Battle Within the Barrow

14 Heartfire, 4E201
A Shipwreck

Following a deeply unsatisfying rest at my quarters I stumbled out of bed and threw the robes of my new office back on. I still had to find two more Dwemer cogwheels, but I could not bring myself to search out another ruin and descend into the steam and Falmer that no doubt would be awaiting me.

Instead I chose to leave the College to its own machinations today and interrupted Birna's dinner to pick up the ornamental dragon claw I purchased several days ago. Its origin, Yngol's Barrow, was east of Windhelm on the opposite side of the river. I hoped that whatever mysteries the claw's three coins unlocked would help me understand what I would be facing when I retrieved the golden dragon claw for that shopkeeper I spoke with almost a month ago.

So it was back into the cold and the ice as the College was finishing their collective dinner. No one had taken notice of my late arrival and my subsequent departure garnered just as much attention. I suspect if half of the College slides into the sea I shall have to distribute a notice informing everyone. And there are those here that think they can accompany me, which is even more frightening.

The thieves and Dark Brotherhood assassins were apparently also away eating their dinners and I managed to walk from the College to the back of Windhelm without being troubled by anything other than the onset of the night. 

Yngol's Barrow was just another cavern dug along the shore of the river, with a small altar built out of loose stone and a metal bowl.
On the altar was a small book titled 'Yngol and the Sea-Ghosts'. Risking death by exposure, It would not be the first time an ancient Nordic book provided clues to a problem nearby. I did not understand the story, it sounded like it was incomplete. The book briefly spoke of an expedition that landed on the shores of Skyrim during a storm, with the loss of several boats, including one of Yngol's.  A Nord named 'Ysgramor' took a boat back into the storm to fetch Yngol and the lost ships, but he was unsuccessful: the ships were found the next day along the shore, broken and devoid of life, one evidently containing the corpse of Yngol. Ysgramor sacrificed animals for Yngol's spirit and built the barrow to house his body and I suppose simply moved on after that.

Short as it was, the story did provide a bit of a clue as to the dragon's claw. The events in the story must have taken place prior to the founding of Skyrim, yet the ancient barrow was secured in some way with the claw and its three animal motifs set into the base. Perhaps the golden claw would also open a barrow, but I do not know what the Stormcloaks would require that for.

I was alarmed to find that as I proceeded deeper into the Barrow I was being followed by an increasing amount of bouncing blue lights. If I stopped moving they would bounce and slide some ways ahead, then seem to wait for me to catch up. The effect was rather like having someone constantly two steps behind you which, in a tomb devoid of life, was not welcome.
The ice gradually gave way to finished stone and I eventually found what I guess was the entrance to the actual barrow. I was not surprised to find that there was a corpse, frozen solid, in front of the barrow's gate.
Helpfully, the dead person was keeping a journal before he expired. The journal spelled out the animal-column combination required to open the gate, but the unidentified scholar had decided to operate the gate's lever prior to setting the columns, sending dozens of steel darts into his body. Not very smart.

Beyond the gate lay...not much really. There was a stone bridge lined by ancient candles that I thought was a nice touch. The candle-lit bridge led to a small memorial marked with a two-handed Elven greatsword that I had no use for.
The dragon claw came into its own in front of a massive iron door into which three stone discs were set. In the center of the discs was a carving with three holes in it, one for each of the toes of the claw. My escorts, the bouncing blue lights, were very excited about the door and were seemingly able to pass through it without any trouble.
Using the steel coins set into the underside of the claw, I spun the stone discs to line up their animal symbols in the same order as the claw's. Unsure of what to do next, I pressed the claw into the door, causing the carving to depress into the door which released a counterweight somewhere which pulled the door apart.

Whatever the blue lights were they instantly sped into the chamber beyond and started circling around a hazy shadow in the middle of the room.
The shadow gradually came into focus as an armored Draugr with a long, thin blade, unusual weaponry for a Nord. What followed was a dance: me dodging behind pillars and striking with my dagger when I could, it stomping towards me while swinging its blade. Twice it used some sort of spell that it seemed to yell at me, causing a blast of wind to strike me and carry the dagger out of my hands. 

Scurrying after your weapon while being attacked by the angry spirit of an ancient Nordic warrior is not a fun time.

Eventually the spirit collapsed, yielding its blade to me, the victor. It is an ancient, but still serviceable, Ebony long blade, a weapon I will certainly be keeping with me. My other long blade, the ghostly one I received from the two friendlier spirits of Fjori and Holgeir, is difficult for me to wield, as I keep expecting to swing something with weight behind it. I will likely leave it in the Arch-Mage's quarters at the College.
Yngol's skeleton remained seated upon its throne even after our battle and I saw no reason to disturb its stately rest, even if his spirit did try to kill me. Perhaps that is where the blue lights came from. I shall never know. The barrow also shed little light on the golden dragon claw I have yet to retrieve.

A partially-collapsed staircase led to a trapdoor that opened along the coastline. The moon revealed the wreck of a trading ship which I thought would serve as a place to spend the night instead of walking back to the College in the dark, again.
Unfortunately I was not the only one with this idea. The bandits were poorly organized, lacked any sort of cohesion, and after I killed their leader while he slept, tried to pile through the narrow doorway all at once, allowing me to wield my weapon with practically no opposition.
A dead fisherwoman lay in a cage nearby, confirming my belief that killing them meant only good things for everyone else around. I pushed all their corpses into the sea, flipped the leader's bedroll around, and am not looking forward to a very cold night. I would say I have slept in worse places, but I am beginning to set a pattern of increasingly poor evenings. I need to find my way back to the south, I am growing very tired of snow and ice.

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