April 24, 2015

The Thief in the Snow - Entry XIII: By the Divines

The Thief in the Snow
Entry XIII: By the Divines
Location: Whiterun, Whiterun Hold
Date: Sundas, 24th of Last Seed, 4E 201

My return to Whiterun had been uneventful with nothing significant to report. I was unhindered by weather, as it was clear most of the way south. I followed the main road from Solitude to Rorikstead before turning east and crossing the Whiterun Plains. When I arrived at the city gates, it was already dark and I sprinted directly to the Bannered Mare. Before I was able to reach my destination, a Courier ambled towards me with a letter in his hand. I took it and thanked him before I read the letter. I was surprised to see it was from Jarl Siddgeir of Falkreath. He had heard of my exploits in Whiterun, slaying the Dragon and all, and extended an invitation to come to Falkreath Hold whenever I had the opportunity. Falkreath was the hold just south of Whiterun and I actually had been there once before, when I was in Helgen. I had to meet the Greybeards first but I made a mental note to visit the Jarl soon. For now, it was to the Bannered Mare for information and hopefully to meet a friend.

The inn was bustling as usual with citizens from every district in Whiterun. Hulda was behind the bar and greeted me, telling me to pull up a seat by the fire. I told her that I had actually come to speak to her. She pointed at a free barstool and I sat down, as I did I asked her about the strange tree I had seen at Sleeping Tree Camp. She nodded that she knew of the place but had no idea what the tree was. She did mention the Gildergreen, the giant tree that stood in the Wind District and was the center of Whiterun. The tree was sacred to worshipers of Kynareth and many used to make a pilgrimage to Whiterun. Hulda informed me that the tree had been sickly for some time and that I should speak to Priestess Danica Pure-Spring at the Temple of Kynareth if I needed to know more. I thanked her and left my seat at the bar.

As I was getting up, an older Nord waved me over to his table. He was richly dressed and had an air of sophistication around him. He introduced himself as Olfrid Battle-Born, the patron of the Battle-Born Clan. He invited me to join him and as I did, he thanked him for helping his grandson. I thought to myself a moment, ‘Yes, Lars was having problems with a bully.’ I told him I was happy to help but he still bought me a drink in gratitude. I inquired about his family and the feud between them and the Gray-Mane Clan. He scoffed at this, saying that they were jealous of his family’s success, due to the large farm just outside of Whiterun that had made the Battle-Borns quite wealthy. I asked him why he and his family did not just settle things but he remarked that while he disliked the Gray-Manes, they were still one of the most respectable families in all of Skyrim. We talked for a spell about the Civil War and the Great War before it. He was truly loyal to the Empire and spoke highly of Emperor Mede II. After some time, he excused himself and thanked me again for my company and for aiding his grandson.

I was about to leave when I spotted Ysolda entering through the door. ‘She is here!’ I exclaimed in my head, I had hoped I would see her here so I could give her the Mammoth Tusk I had procured on my journey. She saw me and waved me over to her table.

I greeted her with a wide grin on my face, “This one will never believe what Dar’Raza has found.”

I held out the Mammoth Tusk for her to see. It was so large I had a hard time holding it up.

“Thank you!” Ysolda exclaimed as she motioned for me to set the Tusk on the table. She gave me an overjoyed smile, “This should turn that old cat’s gaze. Maybe I will be able to become a caravaneer myself, one day.”

“Dar’Raza met Ma’dran outside of Solitude.” I stated, still pleased that I was able to help her. “Ma’dran will be very impressed to see this Mammoth Tusk when this one presents it to Ma’dran.”

Ysolda shook my paw, delighted that would soon be able to work with the Khajiit Caravans, “I hope he does, I cannot wait to learn from him.” With amazement in her voice, she asked, “How did you ever find one?”

My lips curled into a grin yet again, revealing my large white fangs, “Dar’Raza stumbled upon a lone Mammoth in the Whiterun Plains. It took many arrows but Dar’Raza was able to kill the beast and harvest the Tusk for Ysolda.”

She clasped her hands together exuberantly “Amazing Dar’Raza! You must be the best hunter in Whiterun, maybe even in all of Skyrim. Even Elrindir and Anoriath at the Drunken Huntsman have been unable to kill a Mammoth.” Ysolda paused to pull out a piece of parchment before she continued, “As promised, let me show you a thing or two about bargaining. Do not want some shifty merchant giving you a raw trade.”

“Many thanks, friend.” I replied as I looked at the paper.

After almost an hour of talking about bartering techniques, I bid Ysolda farewell and returned home for the night. Lydia was pleased to see me; I believe she doubted my surviving the journey to Solitude. I related the tales of my travels from the Mammoth to meeting Hadvar and everything in between. I informed her that I would be leaving early in the morning for High Hrothgar and that she was tasked with keeping an eye on Breezehome while I was gone. She told me I had nothing to worry about and that I should focus on my own safety. We both laughed and I bid her a good night. I, myself, was amazed at what I had been through already. I could not imagine what the next week would bring.

Location: Whiterun, Whiterun Hold
Date: Morndas, 25th of Last Seed, 4E 201

The next morning I awoke very early for I had to make preparations before leaving for High Hrothgar. I planned to visit Dragonsreach to see Avenicci about adding more furniture to my house. The rickety bed was not comfortable and I was tired of the place looking like it was owned by a pauper. I had earned quite a hefty amount of Septims from all the goods I had collected and still had more to sell. I stopped at Belethor’s General Goods to sell the rest of the goods I had on me, it was the first time I had been in that shop. I had met Belethor’s assistant, Sigurd, before when he was chopping firewood for Adrianne at Warmaiden’s. I had also heard some interesting remarks about Belethor from the guards; I think one even called him a ‘sleazy little man.’ Nevertheless, I entered his store and sold my goods. He kept making remarks about how much he loved gold, so much that he would sell his sister if he had one. I kept my mouth shut but the Breton was starting to grate on my nerves. I finished selling my last item just in time as he started in on asking me if I had any relatives I would like to sell. I bid him a good morning and left as quickly as I could.

I sauntered up the steps to the Wind District and then to Dragonsreach. I knew Avenicci would already be hard at work, he was not the most likable person but he was a hard working one. I was able to find him in between duties and ordered bedroom furnishings that my back thanked me for. I also had enough to buy dining room and loft decorations, living room furnishings, and even an alchemy laboratory so I did not have to use Farengar’s or Arcadia’s anymore. I shook Avenicci’s hand with enthusiasm, much to his surprise, Breezehome was now fully furnished and I felt ecstatic that I had a home I could be proud of. Before I left, Avenicci asked me for a favor, apparently the guards had been having problems with bandits in the area, near Valtheim Towers. He insisted that if the Bandit Leader was slain, the others would abandon the area and leave. The Whiterun guards were already overwhelmed with protecting Whiterun and its charges, that they were spread too thin to deal with the situation. I told him to calm down and to worry not for I would eliminate the bandits for him. As I started to leave, he thanked me and told me he was happy I was here.

I turned around and replied jokingly, “It is what thanes are for.”

I stopped by to see how Farengar was doing before leaving Dragonsreach. He told me how he was able to go out to the Western Watchtower and examine the Dragon skeleton; he regretted that he could not see it while it was still alive, but that the trip had proved fortuitous. While he spoke, I was browsing his library for he had many books on Skyrim’s history. He noticed this and asked me if I could read. I scoffed at him and he apologized. I informed him that I loved to read and that I enjoyed collecting books from all over Tamriel. He offered the use of his library to me, telling me I could borrow however many I would like to. I could not believe his generosity, Farengar was always somewhat aloof to the situation that I was taken aback by the offer. I thanked him but he only nodded at me as he returned to his work. I took this opportunity and skimmed through the many books he owned.

One titled ‘Lost Legends of Skyrim’ mentioned a forbidden legend about an Archmage named Gauldur who was reportedly murdered by his three sons. His sons had stolen their father’s amulet and divided it amongst themselves before they were hunted down by High King Harald’s men. The book mentioned that one of the son’s was rumored to have perished in Folgunthur, the Foot of Solitude. I wondered if this was the Nordic Tomb I had discovered in the Hjaalmarch Marshes, the one with the campsite near it. I made a note that when I returned to the area that I would investigate the ruins to see if I could unearth any information on Gauldur’s Amulet. I thumbed through a few more books; one mentioned the Reachmen hero Red Eagle and his great sword. Another spoke of the legend that was Alduin the Dragon. I wished to read more but for now, I had to make my way to High Hrothgar. Before leaving Dragonsreach, I stopped at the Jarl’s map of Skyrim which had flags indicating the locations of known Stormcloak and Imperial camps. He was missing the Haafingar Stormcloak Camp and I called Avenicci over to the table. I pointed out its location and told him I had just seen it days ago and that the Imperial Legion in Solitude was well aware of its presence. He thanked me for the information and I departed the palace.

In the Wind District, I saw a priestess near the Gildergreen. I approached her and introduced myself and she told me her name was Danica. I told her the information Hulda had related to me and she nodded with a heavy sigh that everything Hulda had said was true. The Gildergreen was sick and may even be dying. I asked her if she knew why and she replied that the Gildergreen was actually grafted from another ancient tree, the Eldergleam. This tree was said to be the oldest tree in all of Tamriel and that it was blessed by the goddess Kynareth. Danica thought that if someone was able to retrieve the sap of the Eldergleam, that it may be used to restore the Gildergreen in Whiterun. I told her that I would gladly collect this sap but she informed me that it was no simple task. Because the Eldergleam was so ancient, predating metal itself, only one weapon could possibly cut its bark. Nettlebane, as the weapon was called, was stolen by a Hagraven and was protected by it and its coven at Orphan Rock. I paused for a moment, I had never come across a Hagraven before and did not know what I was getting myself into, maybe it was best to leave this task to the Whiterun guards.

As we spoke, an older woman exited the nearby Temple of Kynareth. Danica informed me that this woman was Fralia Gray-Mane, one of the patriarchs of the great family. Danica said Fralia made an offering to Kynareth almost every day, praying for her missing son’s safety. Danica whispered to me that Fralia still believed her son, Thorald, was alive and was kidnapped by the Battle-Borns. Almost all in Whiterun assumed Fralia’s missing son was already dead but the devoted mother would not give up on the hope that Thorald was still alive somewhere. Fralia saw us and approached, greeting the Priestess warmly but giving me an icy glare. Danica formally introduced us, first Fralia than I as thane. The codgy woman’s face transformed from frigidness to warmth as she realized I was in a position of power. She grabbed me by the arm and whisked me towards the steps Dragonsreach. I helplessly glanced back at Danica only to see her smile amusedly at me as she waved goodbye.

When she had me all to herself, Fralia began to speak. She told me much the same as Danica had, that she believed her son had been kidnapped and wished for me to help. She asked that I meet her in her home so we could discuss it more in private. She was about to continue speaking when she suddenly stopped and peered at the Gildergreen. Fralia began to ramble on about the tree and how it was such a sad sight to behold. She told me about Kynareth or Kyne, as the Nords called the Divine. Many in Whiterun Hold worshipped Kynareth for she was the deity of the heavens, the winds, the elements, and the unseen spirits of the air. She was also known as the patron of sailors and travelers and was invoked for good fortune in daily life. Kynareth was heavily associated with nature and healing, and many came to the Temple of Kynareth because of sickness. I told her that in Elsweyr, Kynareth was known as Khenarthi. She looked at me surprised and then remarked how Men, Mer, and Beastfolk seemed to worship the same deities.

Glancing back at the Gildergreen, Fralia murmured that it would take a miracle from Kyne to restore the wilting tree. The old woman spoke with such reverence that I could not help but see the Gildergreen in the same light as so many in Whiterun did. I knew then that when I returned from High Hrothgar, I would find a way to retrieve Nettlebane and collect the Eldergleam Sap so that I could restore this sacred tree. With such a monumental journey ahead of me, I bid Fralia farewell, promising that I would speak to her when I returned to Whiterun.

I entered the Temple of Kynareth and made an offering at her Shrine, “Come to me, Khenarthi, for without you, I might not know the mysteries of the world, and so blind and in terror, I might consume and profane the abundance of your beautiful treasures.”