Day of the Dovahkiin (Part 1)

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Published on: February 6, 2012

When I last wrote about my journeys in Skyrim, I was on my way to beat up Sven, Riverwood’s bard. The journey to that lovely town was uneventful, my only company on the road being Lydia, though we did meet some Imperial soldiers on their way to Solitude. Even the fist-fight was uneventful. Sven went down incredibly fast, even with him using potions during the fight (This was the result of one of my mods, which helps companions be a bit more useful. It was also at this point that I turned the difficulty up to Expert).

Leaving Sven on the floor of the inn, Lydia and I then started heading back to Whiterun only to be accosted by a thief along the way. I tried, but was unable to convince him that he was trying to rob a Nord who had less money than him. Unable to convince him, I tried just walking away, which he didn’t take too kindly to, so I was forced to draw my sword and run him through. Lydia just stood there watching. Worst. Housecarl. Ever.

Upon returning to Whiterun, I dropped off a sword intended for the Jarl, and then reported back to Farkas, who seemed pleased with my most recent Bard Beatdown, but mentioned that Skjor had been looking for me. Deciding that whatever Skjor wanted could wait until the morning, I find the first unoccupied bed in Jorrvaskr and promptly pass out for a solid seven hours (making this the first time I’ve actually slept in Skyrim in all my playthroughs). I awake to find Skjor standing over me. Creepy one-eyed bastard. But apparently it is now time for my Trial, and I am to go with Farkas and recover a shard of Wuuthrad that the Companions have been alerted to.

Wuuthrad, apparently was the weapon of Ysgramor, the hero who formed the first Companions. He used Wuuthrad, which I gathered from the shards already gathered and on display, was a battleaxe, to kill all the elven natives of Skyrim. From the rumours I’ve heard just wandering around town though, even discounting all the elves that have since moved to Skyrim, he wasn’t nearly as successful as he thought. Locating Farkas in the back courtyard, lounging in a chair, I let him know that I’m ready for my Trial. Lydia, it seems, is the jealous type, as she departed immediately upon Farkas joining me. It’s just as well. For somebody seemingly content with being my Housecarl, she sure is resentful.

On my way down to the inn, I am harangued once again by the local priest of Talos, Heimskr. I am now debating plotting his death. His preaching about the glory of Talos is incredibly annoying. It seems wrong that I should consider the murder of a priest over an annoyance, but he’s really annoying.

I stopped in the inn to see if there were any jobs that needed doing. If years of role-playing have taught me anything, it’s that about half the adventures start at the inn/tavern. The other 50% start in a jail cell. On my way to the barkeep, a fellow Nord woman by the name of Uthgerd challenges me to a fistfight. I’m not backing down from a tavern brawl, even if my challenger claims to be “the Unbroken”. Especially if money is on the line. She’s a tough one, and doesn’t go down easily. I think that if I took one more punch it would’ve been me that went down and not her. Thankfully that was not the case, as I couldn’t afford to lose that hundred Septims.

According to the innkeep, the Jarl has placed a bounty on a bandit leader who has taken up residence in Valtheim Keep, and that there’s a boy in Windhelm attempting to summon the Dark Brotherhood. She also mentioned that there seems to be some sort of issue with the tree outside the Temple of Kynareth here in town, and helpfully marked on my map where the Shrine of Azura is. I’ll gues I’ll talk to the priestess before I leave town.

The tree, apparently called the Gildergreen, has fallen into a slumber, though the locals as well as the pilgrims that come to see it believe that it has died. She has asked me to gather some sap from the mother tree – the tree from which the Gildergreen was cut as a sapling. There’s just one problem; the mother tree is so old that it pre-dates metal, and the only way to affect it is with old magic. Apparently hagravens have made something that can do just that. I don’t know what a hagraven is, but it doesn’t sound like the type of person – or creature – that would help me willingly. I’ve agreed to help retrieve this knife, and use it to gather the necessary sap, but I don’t relish the task.

Leaving town, I follow the road most of the way to my destination, knowing that my unerring sense of direction (Clairvoyance) will guide me to where I need to go. Just east of Redoran’s retreat I was ambushed by some mudcrabs. Somehow, despite Farkas not looking anything like a mudcrab, I still managed to catch him in my back-swing of my sword. Once I finally settle on a companion it’s definitely going to have to be one who favours ranged attacks. Too much “friendly fire” with my claymore. Farkas and I then enter the cave system at Redoran’s Retreat to get Amren’s Family Sword, and hopefully save his marriage.

While clearing the cave of the bandits was laughably easy, I still regret coming here. One of the bandits had a dog, which I was forced to put down. I hate having to kill dogs (Seriously. Why are there so many games I have to kill dogs in, developers?). Searching the bandit leader for valuables I realized that his armour (Banded Iron) was much more durable than mine – despite it not protecting him all that well from my blade. I also found a treasure map in the chest at the back of the cave; hopefully whatever is hidden away is worth the trouble of tracking it down.

Now that Redoran’s Retreat has been cleared, I’ll head to Dustman’s Cairn for my Trial. I hope Farkas doesn’t complain to his fellow Companions about the detour, but it wasn’t a real detour, as Redoran’s Retreat was on the way.

Upon entering the cairn, it becomes immediately apparent that somebody has been digging recently. So much for a simple retrieval. Drawing our swords, to be prepared for the possibility of an ambush, we descend. Draugr! And some of them wield magic. They still fall beneath the combined might of Farkas and I. Once again, Farkas’ greatest battle wound is from my sword. One of us is too clumsy to be near the other, and it isn’t me, I swear.

After downing a few more draugr we come to a dead end thanks to a lowered gate. Thankfully though, I spot a lever – and some potions – in an adjoining room, that will hopefully open the gate. Well, good news, bad news. Good news: it raised the gate. Bad news: it lowered the gate to the room I’m in, trapping me, as the lever has become stuck. Worse news: this was an ambush set up by a group that calls itself the Silver Hand. They’re werewolf hunters, and apparently a large portion of the Companions’ membership is comprised of werewolves. Farkas included. Glad he’s on my side, he’s a rather friendly puppy man – to those not his enemies, anyways.

I do hope that as I rise in the Companions I either never rise to the point where I’m included in the Circle, as the Circle seems to be the werewolf quotient, or that I’m given the option to decline. Progressing through cairn proves to be of little trouble, though at one point having to fight borth the Silver Hand and draugr at the same time is a bit hectic. Further down I spy a coin purse, just out of reach, and after much Shouting, I manage to knock it down to the ground. I wonder what the Greybeards would think of that. Shortly after I finish Shouting at inanimate objects, another couple of Silver Hand zealots try to take us down. This wouldn’t be worth mentioning, really if not for a rare case of Farkas and I both being close to each other and not only did I not clip him with my sword, we managed a rather impressive kill. As I ran one through, he performed a lateral slash which sent the poor fool flying across the room.

(I was having so little difficulty with the Silver Hand and Draugr at this point, that I was about to turn up the combat difficulty to Master. And then I got killed, so I left it at Expert. It was also at this point that I switched out my Iron Greatsword for a Silver one.)

There’s an awful lot of chests here that I’m having to pass by because they’re locked (I’m playing this guy, Clairvoyance aside, as essentially the Conan archetype, so even though I posses to skill to pick locks, he doesn’t), which is unfortunate, but I still seem to be making fair amount of money looting the dead. I might even be able to afford a horse at the Whiterun stables when I get back.

I now seem to be past the Silver Hand lines. I’ve not seen any of them for a while, and I’ve entered a cave system where I’m encountering skeevers and spiders. Draugr are still prevalent however.

I believe we’ve finally reached the final chamber of this cairn. Upon entering the room, directly in front of me is another Dragon Wall. I’m unsure if that’s what I should be calling it, but it’s a wall inscribed with dragon script, which has now taught me a new Thu’um, and a mighty one at that. I can now breath fire, and not metaphorically. I quickly pocket the shard of Wuuthrum, as all the crypts burst open. Either learning the Thu’um or removing the shard has awoken all the draugr entombed in this room. Guess I’ll have to send them to Sovngarde again. Amidst the mayhem of combat, I see a chest that escaped my notice when I first entered the room. The chest didn’t contain too much of monetary value, but it did contain a Scroll of Mayhem. This scroll has Heimskr’s name all over it, even if I have to serve jail time for using it on him.

Exiting the mausoleum leads to a secret door that opens up close to the entrance of the Cairn. How convenient. Hopefully my performance in here was to the Farkas’ – and thus, the Companions’ – liking. While I do not wish to become a werewolf myself, having some on my side would be a great boon. And now, we return to Whiterun.

 

And thus ends this “episode” of “Day of the Dovahkiin”. I’m unsure if I will continue this series. If I do, I may have to reconsider how I go about it. 1829 words for only completing five quests seems a bit excessive, and I was having to pause as I played constantly to take notes. As my notes were done pretty much at the time of the event I was writing about, I’m also having a hard time keeping the proper tense. I was switching back and forth between past and present tense a lot in there, which I’m painfully aware of. If I do continue with this series, I may end up just recording myself playing and write the journal while watching the playback.

A few other things I’m going to do is turn the difficulty up to max now. Two-handed swords are pretty powerful, and every draugr – even the more difficult Restless ones – went down in one hit. Granted, part of that is because my greatsword was made of silver which does more damage to the undead, but it shouldn’t have been that easy. I’m also going to try and track down a mod that gives me a ring or necklace or something of Clairvoyance, as casting a spell fairly often to figure out where to go doesn’t really play well with the Conan archetype I’m trying to play Dabos as.

For those curious, the mods that I’m currently running are mostly retextures, and texture changes such as “Bellyaches Animal and Creature Pack”, “Essential Blood Textures”, and “Skyrim HD – 2k Textures”. There are some others that, while running, do not affect this playthrough, like “Pickaxe and Axe Weight Reduction” and “Leathers Weight Fix”, as I will not be doing crafting of any sort. I also have “Essential Horses” running, but that is set up (for me) to only make Shadowmere “Essential” (aka immortal), and Shadowmere, as the Dark Brotherhood horse is not one I will be getting.

The mods that I’m running that do directly impact gameplay aside from just the looks are, “Better Followers”, the non-essential version, which gives the followers a bit more suiting gear but still allows them to be killable. What I mean by more suitable gear is that some of the followers would start with a two-handed weapon even though they actually had more skill with one-handed weapons.

I also have “No Perk Prerequisites”, which does pretty much what you’d think, but with some restrictions. You still have to have the required skill in order to unlock a perk, and perks that are dependant on another perk (the disarm perk in Block requiring Power Bash, for example) will still require that perk.

And the final mod I have running – aside from the possible inclusion of a Clairvoyance ring, if I can find a mod that does that – is “Skyrim Speeds” which universally bumps up walking speed. It might affect horses too, I’m not sure. I only got it so that my walking speed was somewhere between “crawl” and “run everywhere“.

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