Monday, April 17, 2017

Skyrim Day 065 - The Cowardly Chief

20 Frostfall, 4E201
Largashbur, Orsimer Stronghold

Sleeping at Dawnguard proved to be an eerie, but restful experience. The castle is so large, yet isolated and almost entirely empty. The quiet borders on unnatural and being there makes me feel slightly uneasy, like I am in a dream I cannot wake out of. The castle is larger than any of the others in Skyrim, yet it serves only as a partially-abandoned headquarters for an almost-lost Order. It is surreal and out-of-place and I do not like staying there, though I cannot object to their mission.

Seeking to ground my feet, I decided against the north road out of Riften and chose to take the longer road spanning the width of the province along the hills separating the province from Cyrodiil. The morning was peaceful and I passed several patrols of surly Riften guardsmen, ignoring their insults and suggestions as I walked by.
After I had walked far enough down the road for the city's patrols to no longer be a bother I was stopped by a group of Imperial soldiers...or so they would have had me believe. They were three, an Orsimer, a Dunmer, and a Redguard, with the Orsimer leading them, or at least in charge of making the demands. He insisted that I pay a "fine" to fund the Imperial Legion, but I pointed out that the three nearly-naked bodies inadequately hidden along the side of the road marked them for bandits instead of toll-takers.
The Orsimer had a finely-crafted two-handed battle-ax, no doubt heavy and honed enough to cut me right in two with a single blow. But landing that blow proved difficult for him and he fell to a slit through, my small dagger proving far more effective than his giant ax. His comrades took no part in our duel, choosing instead to keep their distance while they nervously watched the Orsimer die. I thought they would flee, but together they halfheartedly charged me and gave so little a challenge as to be literally unremarkable for this journal.

I stayed off the road and passed the ruins of where I found the hagraven mother and her would-be hagraven daughter Illia, whom I saved from a horrible fate. I could not see if anyone was still at the tower and I passed by without investigation.

A minute or so away was a camp build behind a palisade. I thought it another group of bandits, but then I saw a robed figure standing at the opened gate, looking at me. Orsimer, all of them with sword and shield, rushed up to the wall, rather pointlessly, as none of them had bows, and I realized I had stumbled upon one of the four so-called 'Strongholds' of Skyrim's Orsimer tribes.
The Orsimer at the gate beckoned me and I thought she was going to inquire about trading for supplies. The Strongholds are notoriously difficult for outsiders to approach and I suspect three of their dead just outside the wall led them to be a bit more accepting than the others. She introduced herself as 'Atub', the tribe's sorceress.

Atub claimed that her tribe was cursed and requested that I return to her with a bowl of troll fat and a Daedra's heart. I happened to have both, the fat from a troll I could not recall and the heart courtesy of Mehrune Dagon's shrine. Atub was pleased to have her ingredients unexpectedly arrive right in front of her and asked that I follow her into the camp as her guest so that I could witness her ritual. She led me to a crude altar in the middle of the courtyard and asked me to wait for her to summon the head of the tribe.

She entered the largest of the buildings and returned a moment later with a fully armed, entirely sullen Orsimer who demanded I show him, 'Chief Yamarz', respect. I was about to do no such thing, but Atub diffused the situation before he did something foolish.
With the troll fat placed into a bowl and the Daedra's heart upon the altar, Atub raised her hands and beseeched Malacath for his favor. She received the Daedric Prince, but not his favor. Malacath derided Yamarz for his weakness and said that his tribe would not be under the near-constant assault of Giants were it not for his cowardice. Malacath would help, but only after the Chief traveled to a cavern known to the tribe to be lived in by a tribe of Giants. Once Yamarz returned to the Stronghold with the club wielded by the largest of the Giants there, Malacath would lift the curse...the specific nature of which I could not discern.

Atub was satisfied by this, but Yamarz was not. He complained that my interference in his issues meant he had to go fight a Giant now. That he did not relish the battle was a surprise, but an Orsimer who will not fight is an oddity and certainly not a long-lived one.

Yamarz demanded that I follow him to the cave to ensure he got there at all and assured me that he would pay me for my time. I agreed, if only to see how this odd story was going to end.

He gave me directions to 'Fallowstone Cave' and told me to meet him there. With that he lumbered off in his bulky Orsimer armor. Atub wished me well and with that I was off to Fallowstone Cave, just north-east of Riften if I understood Yamarz's directions correctly.

I could not see where Yamarz had run off to, so I proceeded at my own pace back along the road towards Riften. I found the cave without much difficulty: all I had to do was follow the trail of dead bears until I reached Yamarz at the end of it.
The outside of the Giants' cave had similar markings to their camps, mostly swirls and dots, some bones here and there. The inside of Fallowstone Cave was unremarkable save for its inhabitants, all of whom were too slow to pose a threat.

Yamarz seemed to know where he was going so I was content to follow his lead. When the cavern gave way to a clearing he motioned me forward, pointing at a giant wandering before a shrine to Malacath.
If he were any other Orsimer I would have expected him to charge the Giant immediately, but Yamarz had a different idea: for another one hundred Septims I would slay the Giant and he would get the credit. I considered telling him that Malacath would not take such a transgression lightly, but I did not, certain that he would dismiss that concern anyway. I accepted his offer and strode forward to engage the Giant in hand-to-club combat.

I have no arguments against the Giants and no reason to wantonly wander around killing them. I will admit I felt a little guilty as I marched up to the Giant as it placidly stared at me. The guilt did not last long. When I approached to what was about four of my body lengths (two for him?) he lifted his club, took one massive step towards me, and swung, opening our melee.

I ducked, the effect being what I would imagine a tree passing over my head to be. The Giant fought like a larger type of Orsimer, only somehow stupider and slower. Each swing of his club left the Giant open for several seconds while he recovered his weapon and I used the time to slash at his legs, bringing the unfortunate creature to its knees at which point I was able to drive my blade through its throat, bringing a great gout of blood and one rapidly dying Giant.

Yamarz had watched the battle from a safe distance and when the Giant was dead he approached, begrudgingly offering his congratulations before announcing that he would now kill me to prevent the tribe from finding out he had not killed the Giant himself.

So very stupid. The Orsimer was a coward and clearly had always been. He had very little combat experience and against me had no chance at all, even with his fine equipment. He died as he lived: fleeing. I wound up having to leap on his back before I could bury my dagger below the lip of his helmet. Nothing on his body was of much value to me.

I spent a few moments wondering how to return to the Orsimer Stronghold when Malacath's voice started to boom from his forgotten shrine. He dismissed Yamarz and his pitiful dead right away, saying the Orsimer had always been a coward and a schemer instead of a warrior. I, Khajiit though I am, had proven myself. Malacath asked that I bring a weapon he called 'Shargrol's Hammer' back to the tribe. The 'Hammer' was simply an Orsimer war-hammer sitting at the base of Malacath's statue and taking it with me meant leaving behind the two-handed Ebony greatsword I was planning on displaying at one of my homes. Disappointing.

If the Giants remaining at Fallowstone Cave were aware something was amiss they did not let on about it. The two I ran by just stared at me mournfully.
Atub was not surprised to see me return alone. Malacath demands strength and courage from his people, she said, and Chief Yamarz had little of either. When I confessed to killing him myself she laughed and declared it a just fate. Apparently the late Chief was the curse, not the one who was cursed.

As for 'Shargrol's Hammer', Atub asked me to place it on the moose skull that adorned their makeshift altar. I did not think it would take the weight of the war-hammer, but it held, somehow. A flash of light exploded from the skull and Malacath spoke again, naming me (a Khajiit!) as Champion of the Largashbur tribe. Being the Champion did not make me Chief, but Atub felt a warrior, Gularzob, would make a fine Chief. She left to deliver him the news and as for me, I had Malacath's mighty war-hammer, Volendrung, the 'Hammer of Might', to claim...if I had been able to lift it. If I somehow managed to remove it from its pedestal it would have undoubtedly crashed on to my head with grievous results. I left it at the tribe's altar, perhaps they shall find better luck with it there.
As the Champion I am entitled to my rewards: a bed of straw. It still rates far higher than the Silver-Blood Inn. I have yet to begin Isran's task, but there should be enough time tomorrow to meet with one of his people.

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