Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Skyrim Day 033 - Learning the Words

17 Heartfire, 4E201

With no room available at Riverwood I had two choices: sleep at a table or leave. No stranger to sleepless nights, I chose to leave on a small errand I otherwise would not have had time to attend to.

This errand involved the retrieval of Kharjo's 'Moon Amulet' which he suspected had made its way to a poachers' hideaway the locals called 'Halted Stream Camp'. I have already been there once before on a job for Proventus Avenicci to clear the camp of bandits and was not surprised to find that others had taken up residence there since then.

Fighting mere bandits hardly merits description any longer. Compared to the powerful Draugr I have been facing I could have cleared the poachers with my eyes closed. As it turned out I eliminated all of them while barely being seen: the cheap Illusion spell I purchased at the College a while ago was sufficient to drive them individually mad, attacking friend and foe alike. As there were only "friends" about them the camp quickly collapsed into chaos. I wound up finishing off the weakened sole survivor with my dagger. I found the amulet, a simple silver pendant, in a chest inside the camp's cavern. 

Tracking down Kharjo's caravan would prove only slightly more difficult. As luck would have it I ran into a Whiterun guardsman on the road near the poachers and he told me that the caravan had left Whiterun that morning towards Dawnstar. So after my too-brief journey to the warmer parts of Skyrim I found myself surrounded by snow and ice once again.
Kharjo was lavish in his reward and gratitude, handing me a pouch of one thousand Septims and assuring me he was available to fight at my side should I ever need a Khajiit warrior. He would likely be less grating on the nerves than J'zargo, though perhaps not as unintentionally amusing.

I sold some excess equipment to the merchant Ahkari and wished them luck along the road. My next destination was the Shrine of Azura to return the broken artifact, but my curiosity got the better of me before I arrived there.

Skyrim boasts many methods from which the lives of the adventurous and the foolish can be taken: scalded to death or shot full of Falmer arrows in Dwemer ruins, hacked to pieces by Draugr in the burial barrows and ancient Nordic halls, robbed and murdered by bandits along the roads, or made a meal of by vampires in the cities. None of those particularly appeal to me, but as I passed a Nordic ruin it occurred to me that I have never seen the inside of one before.

I am not sure what I was expecting, but it turns out that the small ruins that litter the province are very similar to 'Bleak Falls' barrow, only less in scale. The bandits outside of the ruin I chose to investigate did me the honor of attempting to strike first, but a quick Illusion spell had them fighting one another as I walked by.
They were the lucky ones. Even just inside the ruin two bandits had met a bloody demise, likely at the undead hands of Draugr. The illicit expedition to claim this ruin for their own must have been a sizable one, else multiple groups made the same attempt, for I counted at least two dozen bodies throughout the place. 

Why they died was no mystery after I encountered one of the strong, magicka-shouting Draugr guarding a small portcullis.
I would have had a tougher time of it if the ancient architects had not placed two spring-loaded gates just before the creature. It was a simple matter to lure the mindless guard in front of the traps, then cheerfully send it on its way across the room in pieces.

A rather grim decoration lay beyond the gate: a skeleton with a story to share.
The story was titled 'Thief', so I can only imagine what prompted the man to lose both his head and his hands.

My final battle was in a large chamber dominated by, once again, a stone dragon's head surrounded by ancient Nordic script. And a fire trap. And a dead bandit. And a very powerful Draugr, who ultimately succumbed to the fire trap.
The Draugr had an Ebony single-handed battle axe, but I suspect the real treasure of the ruin was supposed to be the ancient word which agonizingly burned itself into my mind when I stupidly approached the dragon carving. This word was 'Zun', meaning 'weapon', though I still fail to see the point of the whole thing. Was there no other way for Nordic children to accomplish their schooling than this?

Though the ruin probably took me no more than two hours, it felt like a very long day when I finally sighted Azura's shrine in the distance. More immediately, I witnessed a battle on the road between bandits and Imperial soldiers, the latter whom prevailed due to their crossbows.
Aranea was somberly pleased to see me return and demanded the return of Azura's Star immediately. I saw no reason to argue and relieved myself of that burden, or so I thought. After a few moments of silent contemplation Aranea announced that Azura herself wanted to speak with me, her 'champion'. The irony was not lost on me and I really do not think Azura has forgotten that our paths have crossed before.

Azura's new request was a strange one: I needed to actually go inside the Star and purge it of Malyn Varen's trapped soul. The thought of being inside something that entry was usually made by being trapped into it made me uneasy, but Azura assured me that she would pull me out once Malyn was dead. I had no choice but to agree.

The inside of Azura's Star is very blue and seemingly built out of crystals. When I arrived inside the star I was standing on a floating platform of crystal tiles which stretched forward and around larger floating crystals. Malyn was right in front of me, wasting no time in gleefully gloating of having another soul to experiment on. In this I had to correct him and he ran off, summoning Dremora to cover his retreat.

The Dremora flung powerful fire magicka, but had no room to maneuver. Most I simply pushed off of the platform, a few died to hurried thrusts of my dagger. Malyn made his stand in what could be considered a courtyard and died not to me, but to a Storm Atronach I summoned via a scroll I picked up somewhere. Anti-climatic, but effective. Azura was true to her word and I felt myself withdrawing from the star as the crystals started to explode.

Once back outside Azura gifted me the revived artifact and sent me on my way. Aranea was also dismissed, an upsetting turn of events for the woman who dedicated her life to the Daedric Prince. Evidently she had nothing else to do and like Kharjo offered to join me on my travels. She said she would remain at the shrine to tend to the grounds otherwise. I had no need of a companion, so she returned to her janitorial duties and I started the walk back to Winterhold, a destination I am rapidly tiring of.
The short trip offered no further excitement and I spent an hour or so in my quarters experimenting with the enchanting table. As expected I am a very poor enchanter, but with an artifact such as this there is a great opportunity for improvement. Time will tell.


  1. Due to a drive failure on my computer I am currently unable to play Skyrim, so there will be a slight delay. Right now I am waiting for the new drive to arrive, then I need to re-install my system from scratch, then track down all the mods I have been using. It may be a week or two, but Kerra's adventure will be resuming!

    1. System is back up, now to re-install Skyrim and (hopefully) all the mods I've since been using. Probably another week.