Charles Francis Moran VI, George Collazo, John McGuire and Stu Horvath played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for five days straight. They each went in a different cardinal direction to find their own unique adventures. Read Day One here. This is the second part of their chronicles.
I waited ’til nightfall before I left the evergreen grove and had to backtrack a bit so as to not disturb the Spriggan. I had come across a small stone bridge crossing a river with a mill powered by a large waterwheel. With the weather still gray and rainy, the mill looked inviting. I met a woman there – her name was Hert, and she offered me work. She said to me, “We don’t get many guests these days because of the war. You are more than welcome to stay.”
I helped her run the mill for a while. The repetitive work soothed my mind, as I was able to collect my thoughts before continuing on my journey. The river the mill ran on was fed by a large lake. It was time to get out of the rain and get under the water. Despite being underwater, my instincts told me to go west.
The water was empty and peaceful. My hands touched the mossy bottom floor of the lake. I came up for air and swam west to the shore. As I approached I came upon a fisherman and a campsite. He was climbing out of the water onto a rock, and his leg was bleeding. I saw what appeared to be a Slaughterfish dive back into the water. He called out to me for help. Still a little ways offshore, I could feel the Slaughterfish swimming between my legs. Taking me off guard, the Slaughterfish started to attack me. As I swam to shore, I drew my blade and was able to quickly overcome the pesky fish.
When I came out of the water, the fisherman talked about the lake and sharing of the land and its virtues. He offered me a book to read, Fire and Darkness: The Brotherhoods of Death. With the ground and road still wet from the rain, I decided I would sit and read though his book. The book told of the Morag Tong and their connections to the Dark Brotherhood. Both are feared assassins’ guilds and both are wrought by a schism and an unspoken war. Is this point of contention between these two factions – this Night Mother, as it is referred to – is this something that is part of my future, part of my destiny?
Rather than sleep I decided to press on west. I left the fisherman and continued on into the rainy night.
I heard the sounds of owls. I headed off the road to a more westerly direction and my eyes were drawn to a purposeful rock formation. It stood slightly taller than I, and had a small cloth attached to it waving in the breeze. I walked closer to investigate. There, lying at the base of the small monument, was the corpse of a dark elf in among a small patch of colorful mountain flowers. There was blood on the rock near the dark elf – something had gone wrong here. However, his coin purse and dagger might prove useful. Save his dignity; I don’t need his boots or cloak.
I headed west toward a ridge of mountains – how high they go, I do not know. I will attempt to cross this ridge. I see smoke in the trees coming from a cabin. Morning is approaching. Perhaps I should check out this cabin before heading through the mountains first.
My name is Nine.
– Charles Francis Moran VI
Ertoth Velth (South)
Velth felt the need to go south and her instinct told her that is where her people were. She looked at the mountain ranges that stood before her, impenetrable. There must be a pass somewhere. She stood at the mouth of a cave and marveled at dangling foot-long icicles that looked like teeth lining a gaping maw. This could be the pass she was looking for. There was only one way to find out.
Outside of the entrance were the skeletal remains of a lone hunter, the bones picked clean. Examining the bones closer and finding bite marks, Velth saw the hunter’s killers for what they truly were. Wolves.
Fear is not just personal, it is also species-specific. Just as humans instinctively fear the roar of a lion, so do the Khajiit fear the howl of the wolf. No matter how brave one may be or how much distance one can place between themselves and the primal world, when the notes of a wolf’s howl leave its throat, Velth feels the cold chill of the icicles bear down into her very soul.
Picking through the hunter’s remains, Velth found a bow with a hairline crack and a worn string and a few arrows. Even in its sorry state, a bow suited her more than the axe did.
She entered the cave.
Sounds echoed and filled the room with hunters’ music. Her ears perked up and rotated to capture all the sources and slowly dissect the new world she had entered as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. Velth felt pity for humans who could only exist in half of the world, the one side filled with daylight. They would never feel the joy of darkness and its stillness. Pity.
Slowly moving down the throat of the cave, Velth came to a slight ridge that looked out over a bed of ice that may have been a small lake in the springtime. On the banks of this icy stream, two large wolves feasted upon another corpse. The hunter was not alone.
Pulling the bow back, she filled the wolves with arrows before they knew where she was. Their final yelps were pleading and confused. She let go her breath.
Making her way down to the ice bed, Velth realized her mistake.
Flashing like ivory daggers, the fangs of the larger ice wolf bore down on her. He seemed to just appear and at once be upon her. She pulled the drawstring of the bow and fired off an arrow that wildly ricocheted off the cave walls. The wolf tore into her, lacerating her left arm with now-crimson teeth.
Her right arm reached to her hip, pulled the axe and with a wild swing caved in the wolf’s jaw. It mewed helplessly as she finished the gruesome task.
Velth explored the end of the cave where the ice wolf had come from and realized that there was only one exit from the Grey Water Grotto and no passage south.
She sat down among the carnage as tears welled up in her eyes.
It would seem that I find myself in the gods’ favor these days. Twice I found myself without hope of survival, and now twice I have sidestepped my fate due to unlikely circumstances.
First there was the dragon that spared me the pains of my own execution, and then, as luck would have it, there was an underground passageway that led us out of harm’s way and spared me the pains of being eaten by a dragon. By us, I mean myself and my onetime jailer Hadvar, whom I now consider an ally. The path at first was treacherous, damp, cold and littered with giant spiders, Stormcloaks and bears. However, it appeared to be a far better option than the black dragon at our backs.
The Stormcloaks and spiders were rather easy to dispatch. It almost didn’t matter if they saw the two of us coming or not – the end result was always the same. Me, covered in blood, pillaging their broken, naked bodies and dead, regret-filled eyes. Hadvar, urging me not to tarry, to keep moving. I almost felt bad and took pause for a moment, but continued to loot every bit I could carry, knowing that I needed provisions for my journey. These baubles would prove useful once I made it to town, but provided nothing more than an inconvenient weight as Hadvar and I made our way through the passageway into a cave filled with slippery rocks.
Towards the mouth of the cave we caught a glimpse of sunlight, but between us and our freedom lay a sleeping bear. Hadvar and I tried to sneak past it, but a dagger fell out of my pack and alerted the bear to our whereabouts. Hadvar attempted to remain calm and told me to be still as he slowly reached back to draw an arrow from his quiver. To this I thought, “What good would a lone arrow do against a bear other than make it mad?”
Sword in hand, I looked over at Hadvar, if only to capture the look of terror in his eyes as he realized my plan. I dropped my pack from shoulder to floor and set off in a screaming charge at the bear, who was caught by complete surprise at my actions. I separated its head from its torso with one swing of my mighty broadsword. Hadvar was speechless; my recklessness, it would seem, left him without words. I skinned the beast for all I could carry and headed north to Riverwood, which was the nearest town. Hadvar had family there and I knew I could get a night’s rest and buy supplies before I headed back towards Eastmarch. We didn’t talk much on the road that day. We didn’t have to. We’d been through enough. We also didn’t see any bandits either, but if we had, I was sure they’d be no match for Hadvar and me.
– John McGuire
I lost my pursuers in the high, snowy passes of a mountain, but it didn’t take long for me to find more trouble in the form of a bandit camp. Thanks to the snowstorm, I blundered right into the middle of them.
Thankfully, their furs only offered meager protection from my big mace. After I bashed my way though them, I rolled their corpses down the hillside and made myself comfortable at their camp – the fire was still burning bright and their food was just coming to a boil. A hearty meal and a long, warm snooze later, I carefully took inventory of the bandits’ ill-gotten gains.
They weren’t very good bandits, really. In addition to not putting up much of a fight, they also didn’t have much in the way of loot. A small pouch of coins was all I could find among the crates and sacks of potatoes and cabbages. Still, produce sells like anything else. I packed as much as I could carry into sacks and made my way down the mountain. The sun was climbing high into the sky when I broke through the tree line. In the distance, I could see a city.
Good. Cities mean gold.
– Stu Horvath