Friday, September 23, 2016

Skyrim Day 50 - Dragon Attack at Dragon Bridge

4 Frostfall, 4E201

Having dispensed with my unhappy housecarl, I felt an odd sense of liberty as I left Breezehome, which was completely at odds with my journal, full of promises and agreed-upon tasks I had yet to attend to.

It was just about dawn when I stepped outside, but the market of Whiterun was already awake and happily doing business.
An older woman by the name of 'Fralia Gray-Mane' complained that her son, Thorald, had been declared dead by everyone else, but she still believed he lived. She asked that I investigate his disappearance, but the Gray-Mane family is known to be strong supporters of the Stormcloak so I was not about to inconvenience myself for them.

One of the tasks I have in my journal is the investigation of Wolfskull Cave from Falk Firebeard of Solitude. I wrote down that rumors persisted that the cave, near Dragon Bridge, was "haunted". Falk Firebeard asked me to visit the cave to determine the nature of the haunting. Then I wrote "sevrl necromncrs, summon stppd, ask Potema".

I remember going to the cave near Dragon Bridge and thwarting some sort of summoning ritual there, but I do not remember anyone named Potema. I really should take better notes. Stopping a summoning sounded like what Falk may have expected of me, so I decided to re-visit Solitude and find out if anything else was required from me.

Between Whiterun and the northern road I passed a giant's camp, with three Mammoths wandering nearby.I gave them a wide berth and met up with the road leading to Solitude with no interruption. I passed a small patrol of Stormcloak soldiers, but they only glared at me as I passed, which is all the better for them.

As I approached Rorikstead I was puzzled by the lack of the noises one typically hears around a village: the bleating of animals, shouting of children, wives shouting to husbands toiling in the fields, those sorts of things. The village appeared to be utterly abandoned, not a single person was outside and I elected to pass through rather than determine if the residents were staying in their homes for some reason.

The reason revealed itself as I approached the bridge of Dragon Bridge.

A Dragon was attacking Dragon Bridge, perhaps insulted by the effigy mounted upon the actual bridge. As I sprinted for the relative safety of the town I kept watch on the creature, ready to dive into the river should its attention become focused on me. The Dragon, however, seemed to be content with flying about and roaring, occasionally incinerating a tree or two as it flew past the town. Frightening, but not terribly dangerous.

The villagers were nowhere to be seen, likely hiding inside their very flammable houses and businesses. Two guards, one from Solitude, the other wearing Imperial attire, were firing arrows at the Dragon as it flew past, but whether due to a lack of skill or simple fear, their arrows were wide of their rather large mark. I had just set a bolt into my crossbow when the Dragon decided it would rather land and kill us all.

The Imperial was the first victim, thrown against a stone wall by a blast of flame. Then the Dragon turned on me.
A bit more clear of mind than during my first encounter with a Dragon, I was struck on how much the creature resembled a turtle, which is not nearly as intimidating. Keeping that in mind while reassuring myself that I already fought one of their kind and won dispelled much of the fear and wonder I felt at Whiterun's ruined tower.

While the surviving Solitude guardsman ineffectually bounced arrows off of the Dragon's hide, I guessed that if I fought this much stronger enemy defensively I would suffer the same fate as the Imperial, so I instead stayed (nervously!) close to the beast, sometimes nearly under it.

Its breath tugged at nearly-forgotten memories of fighting around Red Mountain, but I did not have the time to reminisce. I was able to wound it about the wings and neck as it tried to crane its head around to bite me in half. After a few more strikes of my axe it became frustrated and lifted off the ground, flying off. The guard cheered, evidently thinking the Dragon had fled, but it swooped around, dove, and snatched the guard in its jaws, throwing the unfortunate man over the houses of Dragon Bridge, into the fields beyond.

It was Dragon versus Dragonborn now.

I managed to hit it with one crossbow bolt before it landed in front of me, but the buffeting caused by its wings kicked up a lot of dirt. As I shielded my eyes I lost my footing and fell, coming down right on the crossbow. I immediately jumped up before I became lunch, but the limb had been torn out of the stock, making the weapon useless.

We faced off in front of the bridge, but the Dragon was definitely weakened and not as quick as it was. Rather than take to the air it clumsily stalked about the ground, using the horns on its wings to steady itself. It was awkward to see and very slow. If I got close enough it snapped at me, but doing so exposed its neck as I dodged and the Dragon died after several blows nearly decapitated it.
I was not given long to admire my work, the corpse burst into flames after a few seconds and the smoke and ash was drawn into my nose and mouth again, no more pleasant an experience than the first time.  By the time I could breathe normally again the Dragon had been reduced to bones and sinew.
The townspeople refused to come out when I knocked on the doors, so I continued to Solitude. The giant charred skeleton in the middle of their village is their problem.

When I arrived at Solitude I went immediately to the blacksmith to purchase more bolts. Half-serious, I told the man there that I was shopping for something to take down a Dragon. He replied that he was out of those, but had a bow that fired rainbows and a quiver that dispensed beer. I bought my bolts and left without replying.

Ten Septims rented me a room at the inn, as usual. Tomorrow I will report back to Falk Firebeard and see about my reward for the original business at Dragon Bridge.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Skyrim Day 049 - My Home, Breezehome

3 Frostfall, 4E201

Returning to Whiterun was not only appealing to me, but Lydia as well, moreso after I admitted my intention to leave her there. This, she said, was a wise decision: in my absence she would be able to manage my affairs and my household, a duty she assured me she was well-versed in exercising.

That I had an estate to speak of was news to me and Lydia was quite surprised to hear I had no holdings in or around Whiterun. She firmly insisted that I make the acquisition of such a priority once we reached the city, stating that a Thane should not be without roots in the city they were sworn to serve.

I suspect she is simply just as eager to be free of me as I am of her, but having a (somewhat) permanent home again was an appealing thought. Inns get old after awhile, especially given that they largely all look the same in Skyrim. Nords are not known for their architectural creativity.

It was quicker to leave Ivarstead via the north road and remain off the road, along the hills, rather than take the road which starts to lead to Whiterun only at the sulfur springs. Along the way we had to cross a ravine via a large tree that had been uprooted and placed as a primitive bridge. Predictably a opportunistic bandit was lounging in the middle of the tree, loudly demanding a toll for us, two obviously well-armed warriors, to cross.
The Bosmer was armed with a bow, but Lydia had her own bow and I my crossbow. Why the man thought it a good idea to make demands is beyond my thinking. He managed to get off one shot before Lydia's arrow thudded into his middle and my crossbow bolt crashed into his skull, certainly killing him. His body tumbled into the river below and disappeared over the waterfall before Lydia and I had finished crossing.

Just before the road to Whiterun we came upon a tomb built into the hillside. Lydia said nothing and I was happy enough to walk past it, but a man came running out after us, asking us to wait a moment. Lydia was prepared to skewer him right then and there, but I figured the man to be a foiled would-be robber of the dead rather than a bandit.

He introduced himself as 'Golldir' and asked if we might be able to help him. Golldir and his aunt had traveled to the tomb, which was his family's, only to find that the seal on the entrance had been broken. They entered the tomb and were ambushed by a necromancer intent on using Golldir's ancestors as undead soldiers. Golldir's aunt, Agna, fell during the ensuring battle and Golldir shamefully fled with the necromancer's laughter echoing around him.

Golldir had good reason to flee the place: according to him his father had locked him inside the tomb as a child for three days, leaving him with nothing to eat or drink but the moldering offers made to the dead. Having survived, he swore to never return unless it was in death.

I told him that Lydia and I would enter the tomb, but only alongside him. He paused a moment, then agreed.

Whatever fears the man had of the tomb were evidently dispelled due to our company, for he fought just as bravely as Lydia, the two of them practically negating any requirement for me to draw my weapons. Draugr fell before us and eventually we came upon Agna's body, mercifully not raised by the necromancer. There Golldir swore revenge or death and we continued on.

As we entered a large room Golldir whispered that it was the resting place of his family's founding members and I was not surprised to see the necromancer atop the platform where two conspicuous coffins rested. Golldir shouted something at the mage, but just then the coffins lying about the room burst open and soon we were swarmed by a dozen Draugr.

Golldir and Lydia became inescapably engaged with the horde, but I was able to shove my way through the line and charged at the necromancer. The undead would fall with his death and skilled though the were Lydia and Golldir could not battle long against twelve adversaries.
The Dunmer had been brazen enough to paint a crude skull on his robes, but as I prepared to bury my axe in his stomach he abruptly disappeared. An illusion. His arrogant laughter alerted me to his new position, but that also proved to be an illusion. Frustrated, I ran to and fro, hacking away at illusionary Dunmer as Golldir frantically urged me to kill him before all was lost.

Finally I cornered the actual body of the necromancer and suffered greatly from the magicka of his ice spells before I was close enough to strike him with my axe. He had not the staying power to withstand much injury and crumpled against the wall, leaving a bloody smear.
Lydia and Golldir were almost as bloodied as the dead mage, but their wounds were not grievous and a few vials of healing elixir were all they needed between them. Golldir's fear of the tomb had been vanquished with the vampire, choosing to stay in the tomb to set "things in order", as he said. I wished him well and my housecarl and I continued to Whiterun.

Again we saw no Dragons flying about and arrived at Whiterun some time after most of the city had their dinner. Lydia pointedly reminded me of the need to acquire property so we walked up to Dragonsreach. The Jarl was busy dealing with someone, but I gathered that his steward would be the one managing deeds and the like. I was correct and there was a deed available for a small house within the walls which the locals dubbed 'Breezehome'.

The key to the empty dwelling cost me five thousand Septims, paid in five ingots, plus an additional twelve hundred Septims for the furnishings inside.
Breezehome appeared unassuming on the outside but bore all the signs of being rapidly vacated by its former occupants, including a roaring fire with a cooking pot. Fish, garlic, and herbs hung over the fire and along the walls were cabinets stocked with bowls, pans, and utensils. Plates were set on the table, with food on them. Someone had been living in Breezehome until apparently five minutes prior to our arrival.

When I asked Lydia about this she simply shrugged and said it was a Thane's right. I was not aware I was forcing someone's family out of their home when I bought it, but that begs the question as to why it was for sale at all. No point in worrying about it now, I suppose.
The bedroom is in the loft, barely lit and displaying more armaments than I find to be tasteful. Lydia was pleased with it and pleased with her room, which I suspect belonged to a child. I asked her to stay at Breezehome while I was away and she readily agreed, promising to represent my interests...whatever those are.

Tomorrow I shall travel, alone, to see about the many tasks that have been asked of me. Vampires, ancient relics, bandits, there seems to always be something to do that everyone else around the task has ignored.