Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Skyrim Day 043 - City of Scoundrels

28 Heartfire, 4E201

I woke surrounded by the bodies of Forsworn and counted thirteen before I lost interest. Instead of taking that grim tally I turned my attention towards finding the burial cairn of Red Eagle. The blade I swiped from the wild rebels yesterday was the key to the ancient warlord, but the ritual was supposed to summon him back to the Forsworn cause. Nothing was mentioned of what would happen if a curious Khajiit called him to this Plane instead.

Finding out proved to be far simpler than even what I assumed a Forsworn plan would consist of. Locating the cairn was the most difficult part: it was behind the Forsworn camp, accessible only via a drawbridge lowered from a nearby watchtower to an adjacent one on the opposite side of a steep ravine. No one was manning either tower, nor did I encounter anyone on the plateau beyond.

After some wandering I started to smell smoke and my nose led me to a brazier happily burning away in the early morning dawn.
The cave was very small, a single room made up the entire thing. Inside was a dead Orsimer clutching a book telling of the Red Eagle. Apparently the legend led him this far, only for him to fall to unknown foes, probably Forsworn. A pedestal in the middle of the room had a slot cut into it and pressing the sword inside it triggered a fake wall which opened to a more richly furnished room.

The funeral bier warned me of what was going to happen and sure enough, as soon as I started to ascend the stairs, the lid of the coffin shifted and a well-equipped Draugr stepped out and looked about menacingly. Fortunately I was no where near the stairs by the time he was walking about, having hidden behind a large column while he lumbering about.

Four piles of bones around him also took the form of warriors, two of them with swords, the others, bows. But I was easily able to sneak up behind each skeleton and sever its connection to this world without being seen and soon it was just me and a confused Red Eagle wondering why he had been woken up to a seemingly empty chamber.

While his back was turned I drew my dagger in my off-hand and my battle-ax in my right and crept up to him. A well-aimed blow with the dagger brought him to his knees and a swing of the ax sent his skeletal head clattering across the room. Such was the end of the impressively described 'Red Eagle'.

The funeral goods were more impressive than the former warlord: a chest behind the bier held a very rare Ebony longbow. The rest of the chest's contents were either too old or too worn to be valuable, so I left it for someone else, as I did the blade in its pedestal. Perhaps a Forsworn will arrive one day and name himself the new 'Red Eagle'. Perhaps they will also stop lashing stone and wood together then calling it a weapon. One can hope.

Feeling like I had just wasted several days chasing a worthless legend, I turned around and started the long walk to Riften. Miraculously I managed to have a completely uneventful walk halfway past Whiterun before I saw a waterfall.
Naturally I had to visit the lake beneath it and also naturally, there was a intricately carved door along one side of it that beckoned me inside.
I am not sure what I had been hoping for, but all I found was damp, Falmer, and Chaurus. Whatever the cave was used for previously it had long since lost that dedication in place of Falmer tents and Chaurus egg piles. I exited the cavern via an exit on the far side with nothing to show for surviving a Falmer/Chaurus den.

The exit placed me near a small village named 'Darkwater Crossing'. A few farms and a blacksmith's shop accounted for the entire place, but the villagers were friendly and helpfully described the fastest way to reach Riften, though no one I spoke to thought reaching it was a particularly great idea. An old miner asked me why I even wanted to go there at all and I replied that I simply wanted to visit each of the Holds. He stared at me a moment, then advised that I not plan on staying in that one for more than a day. I assured him I would be fine and found his concern to be oddly touching.
It was night when I arrived at Riften and the gate guard lazily tried to extort a "gate tax" from me, but I was not having such nonsense. I bluffed and told him I was an old hand to the game and he sheepishly opened the gate, sans tax. His partner at the gate, an otherwise silent woman, laughed at him as I walked past.
Finally inside the infamous city, I was immediately accosted by a Nord calling herself 'Mjoll the Lioness'. She had been talking to an Imperial sitting near the gate, but called out to me as soon as I was past the wall. She introduced herself and asked what my business was in Riften. I gave the same answer I did to the miner at Darkwater, but I was met with a skeptical look this time. Mjoll warned me not to get tangled up with the Thieves' Guild, then laughed at even calling the group a "Guild", declaring that the once-fabled institution was now little more than a gang.

A man relaxing against a post straightened up as I approached. He descriptively called himself 'Maul' and threatened me with "harsh action" if I became involved against the Black-Briar family business. As I had no idea who that even was I promised him I would not be causing any trouble and thus relaxed, he asked if he could be of any service.

I know the type: gate-watchers who make their living by acting as guides for new arrivals and spreaders of news and rumors for everyone else. If they cannot sell you on either service you will usually find your purse a little lighter once you manage to shake them off. 

Maul drawled that he could introduce me to any merchants I might have need of, so to confound the man I showed him a gemstone that had the peculiar quality of floating above whatever surface you placed it upon. I had taken it from the Arch-Mage's quarters some time ago after finding that no one at the College could tell me what it was. I have been asking gem merchants and the Khajiit caravans about it, but met with a similar lack of results.

Maul eyed the gem greedily and suggested I take it to a man named 'Vex', an "associate" with the local Thieves' Guild, an organization I do not want to become involved with. For lodgings I was directed to 'The Bee and Barb', run by a haggard Argonian named 'Keerava'.

As soon as I walked in I heard someone lecturing the patrons about the return of Dragons. I was immediately interested, but Keerava and another Argonian whom I assume is her husband, tiredly asked him to stop bothering everyone or leave. The man chose 'leave' and brushed past me without a word.

Keerava apologized and asked what I needed. The answer of a room seemed to perk her up and she happily pocked ten Septims and led me to a tiny room just wide enough to admit a bed. At least it is lacks a window and is small enough for an intruder to wake me up before I get a dagger buried in my back.

As expected, there is really no good reason for me to be here, but other than Dawnstar, which is technically not a Hold, I have now visited all of them. I think I shall be leaving tomorrow, though to what purpose I do not yet know.

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