January 11, 2014

The Thief in the Snow - Entry III: The Calm before the Storm

The Thief in the Snow
Entry III: The Calm before the Storm
Location: Riverwood, Whiterun Hold
Date: Sundas, 17th of Last Seed, 4E 201

It was late when we entered Riverwood and the sun was already setting behind the distant mountains. Hadvar led me to Riverwood’s blacksmith and there we found his uncle, Alvor. He was quite surprised to see Hadvar.

Alvor put down his work and asked in a surprised tone, “What are you doing here? Are you on leave from…” as he approached Hadvar, he noticed the state he was in, “Shor’s Bones, what happened to you, boy?”

Hadvar could only smile weakly. He asked his uncle to keep his voice down and asked to go inside before he explained the situation.

Alvor asked again what was going on and looked at me strangely, “And who is this?”

Hadvar’s answer surprised me, “He is a friend. He saved my life in fact.” Hadvar turned back to me and nodded then addressed his uncle once more, “I will explain everything but we need to go inside.”

Alvor glanced at me again then motioned towards his house. Once inside, we were greeted by Alvor’s wife, Sigrid, and their daughter, Dorthe. Sigrid invited us to sit down at the table and eat. As we did, Hadvar related our story in great detail. When Hadvar reached the part of the story where the Dragon appeared, his uncle interrupted him, exclaiming that he must be drunk. I wondered to myself if Hadvar was known to tell such outlandish tales; he seemed too level headed to relate such stories without any truth behind them. Sigrid interjected and urged her husband to let Hadvar finish. After Hadvar had spoken his last word, an eerie silence fell over the house. Everyone knew what this meant for the land of Skyrim, well, everyone but me. In all honesty I could only think of what my next move might be. Sigrid’s meal was filling and I hoped once Alvor and Hadvar had finished talking that I might be able to sell the items that I procured earlier to Alvor. After that, I did not care what happened. I figured I would keep heading north towards a larger city; there must be one nearby where the jarl that ruled over Riverwood resided. Where there was a jarl, there were always riches to be found. I returned my attention back to the conversation at hand when I realized Alvor was addressing me.

“Any friend of Hadvar’s is a friend of mine.” he stated with a smile, “I am glad to help however I can.”

I smiled back, not sure what had been said, “Dar’Raza is grateful friend.”

Then Alvor asked me for my help. Someone needed to tell the Jarl in Whiterun that a Dragon was on the loose and that Riverwood was defenseless. ‘Perfect,’ I thought, ‘just the person I wanted to see.’ Using this information could get me past the main gate, something no Khajiit had ever done before. Oh, the riches in Whiterun would be surely worth the effort. I also felt compelled to assist Hadvar’s family. After all he had saved my life and I, his. I am not a completely heartless person. I could help them and myself at the same time; it would be no fur off my back. I told Alvor that I would gladly speak to this ‘Jarl Balgruuf’ and inform him of the events at Helgen. Alvor seemed relieved and he offered me any supplies that I needed.

He also gave me a map, marking the path I should take that would lead to Whiterun which was located in the valley below the mountain. He also informed me of how to reach the Jarl’s palace, Dragonsreach. Palace? My ears twitched. ‘Oh ho!’ I thought. Yes, this is perfect indeed. I inquired more about Whiterun and Jarl Balgruuf. According to Alvor, Balgruuf had fought hard to stay neutral during the civil war between the Empire and the Stormcloaks. Alvor himself supported the Imperials. He told me how Ulfric, the Gagged Man I had met in Helgen, murdered High King Torygg by shouting him to death. I thought I had misheard Alvor, shouted to death? How was that possible but before I could inquire more he continued to tell me how Torygg’s wife, Elisif, was now the interim ruler.

Again, I did not care much for the politics of the Nords so I tried to change the subject by asking Alvor if I could use his forge. He was taken aback by the question; I guess he did not think a cat could handle the heat. He was skeptical but agreed to see if I had any skill at it. Hah! I have all sorts of skills my Nord friend, many more that you have yet to see. There was barely enough light outside but I went ahead and expressed my gratitude to Sigrid and headed outside to the forge. As I left, I could hear Dorthe firing question after question at Hadvar, inquiring about the Dragon and what it looked like. Alvor followed me out, I laughed at myself as I wondered if he followed me because he thought I was going to steal something or because he did not think I could work the forge. Maybe it was both, it was probably both.

Outside, I first went to the Tanning Rack and turned the Bear Pelt I had taken earlier in the cave into Leather and Leather Strips. I figured the items could be useful in repairing the Long Bow I had taken from the dead Stormcloak. Next I went to the Grindstone and there, improved my two Iron Daggers and Iron Sword, turning them all into Fine weapons. After that it was on to the Workbench. With the Leather, I improved all of my Imperial Armor. I had some left over supplies and with no place to store them; I improved the remaining weapons I had been carrying. I asked Alvor to direct me to a local store, he recommended the Riverwood Trader and I took off in the direction of the general store.

As I stepped foot onto the street, Hadvar was exiting Alvor’s house. He saw me and waved; I called out his name and approached. Hadvar informed me that he was traveling to Solitude right away, it was the stronghold of the Empire in Skyrim and he had to report the happenings at Helgen immediately. I asked him if he needed company without really thinking about what I had asked. I was here to make money, not get involved with the locals but the events that led to my freedom had already involved me. Few Humans let alone Nords saw me as anything more than a giant walking rug but Hadvar was able to see past my appearances and had accepted me as a friend. I could not turn my back on him now, even if I wanted to. He told me no but asked me one last favor, to look out for his family in Riverwood and to inform the Jarl of what had happened. I promised that once I had adequate supplies, I would leave for Whiterun and bring help back. I told him that after my errand was done, I would try to meet with him in Solitude and maybe even join that Imperial Legion of his. He grabbed my arm and embraced me as a brother, then turned away and began his long journey to Solitude.

Upon entering the Riverwood Trader, I heard the two owners arguing about chasing thieves. Interesting, but I was more focused on selling my goods for a shiny profit. Lucan Valerius was the man who ran the store. I let my curiosity get the better of me and asked what had happened. Lucan related how robbers had broken in his store and had stolen an ornament of solid gold that was shaped in a Dragon’s claw.

“Solid gold, this one says?” I remarked with a slight curl of my lips, “Dar’Raza could help this one get the claw back.”

Lucan was surprised by my offer and told me that he would pay me handsomely if I returned the claw. He directed me to Bleak Falls Barrow, the last known whereabouts of the thieves. ‘Bleak Falls Barrow?’ I quizzed in my head. Those were the ruins Hadvar told me about. This might be more than I bargained for. Lucan turned to his sister, Camilla, and told her that she did not have to go after the thieves now. Camilla appeared to be disappointed but offered to guide me to the edge of town and show me the path I should follow. As Camilla beckoned me to follow her, I took a quick glance around the establishment. I would be back at a later hour to pick up more supplies. I grinned to myself, ‘Yes; back at a much later hour.’

I thanked Camilla for showing me the way and for warning me about the dangerous beasts and traps that lay in wait at the barrow. As she headed back towards the Riverwood Trader, I was approached by an obnoxious man named Sven. He told me how he was in love with Camilla but she spent all her time with an Elf named Faendal. Sven wanted me to give Camilla a letter and say it was from Faendal. In the letter Sven wrote all sorts of horrid things about Camilla in the guise of Faendal, hoping that this would send her running into his arms.

Did I look like some errand boy to him? I took the letter and shook my head. I should not get involved in this sort of thing. I was not quite ready to turn in for the night so I walked over to the mill behind Alvor’s house. There, I ‘found’ a Woodcutter’s Axe and used it to chop some Firewood. Then I used that Firewood to improve my Long Bow. After I was finished, I turned around and headed towards the Sleeping Giant Inn.

The people were so surprised when I entered that the musician stopped playing his lute in mid-song. I have a feeling I will always be greeted by contemptuous eyes and whispers when I enter any establishment in Skyrim. I spoke with Orgnar, the innkeeper, about any news or rumors he might have heard. He had nothing to relay to me except more stories of the war. I noticed an Alchemy lab in the corner and asked if I could use it. Orgnar hesitated then noticed the finely crafted weapons I was carrying. He told me to go ahead but asked if I would clean up after I was done. Of course I would, I would clean this inn out in due time. After making a few potions I decided to sleep until the morning.

Location: Riverwood, Whiterun Hold
Date: Morndas, 18th of Last Seed, 4E 201

I did not sleep well; in fact, I only slept a few hours until I was wide awake again. The sun had not even risen over the mountains yet, so I decided to take a stroll around Riverwood and ponder my next step. I was very tempted to break into the nearby houses and steal what I could but without an adequate fence to sell my stolen goods too, it was futile. Not having a place to store my items would hinder me quite a bit in my quest for riches. Maybe I should just push on to Whiterun and speak to this Jarl. While I am sure a Khajiit could not buy property, I should be able to find some kind of housing or maybe even locate a Khajiit Caravan.

Before I could leave, I had to say goodbye to Alvor and his family. I returned to the Blacksmith’s house only to find Alvor asking me for my help with the forge. He had seen the work I had done with my own weapons and asked me if I would craft an Iron Dagger for him. I could not resist and went to work, pounding iron into form. Alvor was impressed with my work and asked me to temper the Iron Dagger on the Grindstone. I went to work again, the sound of the wheel buzzing softly as I improved my craft.

Next, he gave me a Wolf’s Pelt and asked me to make a Hide Helmet for him. I sighed and did as I was asked. It was already late morning, I had a feeling I would not be leaving Riverwood anytime soon. After I had crafted my helmet and improved its quality, I brought my work back to Alvor so he could inspect it. He complimented my work and told me I should be his assistant. We both laughed. As I handed him the dagger and helmet, he shook his head and told me they were gifts and to think of him when I became a legendary blacksmith.

I bid him farewell and headed back to the Riverwood Trader one last time to sell my goods before traveling to Whiterun. Outside of the store, I ran into Faendal, the other suitor of Camilla Valerius. He was a Bosmer, also known as a Wood Elf, and was Riverwood’s local hunter. I told him about what Sven had asked me to do for him. Furious, Faendal asked if I would deliver his letter to Camilla instead and say that it was from Sven. He promised he would teach me some tricks with the bow if I assisted him. How could I resist, Faendal was going to pay me and Sven had offered me nothing. I agreed and entered the Riverwood Trader without delay.

Camilla was sitting at the table like usual, I greeted her and handed her the letter.

“From Sven.” I lied softly.

At first, Camilla thought it was going to be another poem but instead she found a list of all the things ‘Sven’ wanted her to do when they were married. Like clean the house, cook his meals, and other chores only suited for a woman. Camilla scoffed at the idea; she was not Sven’s mother. I bit my tongue to stop myself from bursting out in laughter. I should not have interfered but the payment from Faendal was too good to pass up and Sven was too annoying not to toy with. After selling my goods and making a hefty sum, I went out to find Faendal and receive my reward. He was ecstatic that our plan had worked that he not only taught me a new skill with the bow but he also gave me twenty five gold pieces as well.

It was midday by the time I finally left Riverwood. I waved goodbye to Alvor as I walked over the bridge toward Whiterun. The newly forged Iron Arrows he had crafted for me were slung over my back and my pack felt light as it had been relieved of its goods from Helgen. In place of the cumbersome weight of those goods was the soft clinking of a few hundred new shiny gold coins. As I traveled down the road to Whiterun, I began to examine all the skills I had learned. I had grown so much in such a short amount of time that I found myself benefited with new abilities. All the physical exercise had increased my Stamina and the haggling I had done with Alvor and Lucan increased my Speech ability. I could now haggle for better prices for the goods I bought and sold.

As I traveled down the road, I spotted a Wolf attacking a Deer. Knowing that I could use their pelts, I fired two well-placed arrows, one into the Deer and the other into the Wolf, felling both animals in an instant. I am starting to think that I will do quite well in Skyrim. Further down the road I stumbled across some Imperial Soldiers escorting a Prisoner. At first, I braced myself for a fight until I realized I was still dressed like an Imperial Soldier. The Soldiers gave me a sideways look. One Soldier whispered to the others that he had never seen a Khajiit Soldier before. I only nodded to them and briskly walked in the opposite direction.

I reached the bottom of the road and could see Whiterun and the massive Dragonsreach in the distance. Windmills dotted the horizon, local farms I assumed. Hoping to avoid attention, which was almost impossible for a Khajiit dressed like an Imperial, I hastened towards the city in the distance. As I was passing a farm, I could see a Giant that had been killed and three warriors surrounding its body. I put my head down and continued walking towards Whiterun but a female warrior approached me and began lecturing me about how I had not helped them at all.

‘I just got here!’ I exclaimed to myself but held my tongue. She continued on her tirade, stating that I was not worthy to be a Companion but if I wanted to join I needed to talk with their leader in Whiterun. I first thought this woman was crazy, I did not even ask about who she was or what she was doing let alone who she worked for. But then I heard the word ‘money’ and thought otherwise. From what I could gather before she and her companions left was that they were some kind of bounty hunters or mercenaries. Thieving was more my style, staying away from danger helped to keep me alive longer but with few contacts here in Skyrim, becoming a sword for hire could be the way to go. While I was no Cathay-raht, I could still hold my own in a battle. Inquiring more about the Companions was another task added to my ‘to do’ list.

I ran past the stables and up the hill to the main gate of Whiterun. I did not want to come across any more distractions. If I hurried, I could reach Dragonsreach and Jarl Balgruuf before dusk. As I approached the main gate, a Whiterun Guard stopped me. He stared at my fur, my armor, then back to my fur again.

“Halt! The city is closed with the Dragon about.” he said gruffly, “Official business only.”

I curled my lips, “Dar’Raza has information about the Dragon.”

“I do not believe you.” the Guard retorted.

“Dar’Raza was at Helgen.” I persuaded with a snarl. “Dar’Raza came from Riverwood to inform Jarl Balgruuf about the events that took place two days ago.”

The Guard pointed a finger at me, “Fine, but we will be keeping an eye on you.”

He opened the gate and ushered me in. Whiterun, a city no Khajiit had ever seen from the inside… until now.