July 22, 2016

The Thief in the Snow - Entry XVIII: For Friends and For Honor

The Thief in the Snow
Entry XVIII: For Friends and For Honor
Location: Whiterun, Whiterun Hold
Date: Loredas, 30th of Last Seed, 4E 201

I traveled the long road and went back home to Whiterun. I had supplies I needed to drop off, goods to trade, potions to make, and weapons to mend. I also wanted to make sure things were in order before I went back to the Rift. After seeing Grelod the Kind’s treatment of the children at Honorhall Orphanage, I had made up my mind to visit Aventus Aretino in Windhelm and convince him to come back to Riften and speak before the Jarl. If I could also convince Constance to testify to the Jarl, then maybe Grelod the Kind could be put out of her misery. I was not sure if I could even enter Windhelm for Nords generally despised outsiders and a Khajiit was as ‘outside’ as you could get in Skyrim. It did not help that the Gagged Man, Ulfric Stormcloak, was the Jarl of Windhelm. He had been sentenced to death for murdering High King Torygg of Solitude but had escaped when the dragon attacked Helgen. I had seen him firsthand when I awoke in the wagon headed towards Helgen and later when I was fleeing the burning town. He had escaped like I did that day and was now sitting on his throne in Windhelm, commanding the Stormcloaks in their rebellion against the Empire. While Ulfric was viewed as a murderer in Solitude and the other holds loyal to the Empire, in the eastern Holds of Skyrim he was seen as a champion of the people.

I still had not devised a plan to enter Windhelm when I passed through the gates of Whiterun. The guards greeted me warmly and when I saw the paved streets of the city before me, a strange feeling came over me. ‘I have a home.’ The thought rung in my head, something I had never thought before. My first stop was at Warmaiden’s to repair my armor and to talk with Adrianne. I asked her if there was anything new happening in Whiterun since I had left and she reported that things had been calm considering that there had been more dragon sightings on the outskirts of the Hold. She also passed along a message from her father, Proventus, who wished to see me at Dragonsreach. When I was finished, I thanked her for the information and walked home. When I entered Breezehome, I was greeted by Lydia who again seemed surprised that I had survived my journey. I told my Housecarl that she should have more faith in the Thane of Whiterun. As I said this, I flexed my muscles and struck a pose which produced a fit of laughter from the Nord warrior.

Lydia then asked about my pilgrimage to the Seven Thousand Steps and if I had met the Greybeards. I was careful who I told about my ability to use Thu’ums. Jarl Balgruuf and his brother Hrongar knew of my abilities and even heard the Greybeards’ summons.  Balgruuf’s Housecarl, Irileth, and a few of her soldiers also saw me use my abilities to fight the dragon at the Western Watchtower. Lydia had heard the rumors of my abilities from the chatter amongst the Whiterun guards and I never admitted to being Dragonborn to her. Yet my Housecarl had a sharp mind and no secret could remain hidden from her. I related my adventures to her from the long hike to the Throat of the World and the Frost Troll to meeting the Greybeards and learning from them. I also told her about the Cultists that tried to kill me in Ivarstead, my travelling to Riften, and the Hired Thugs that attacked me there. She was awed by my ability to find enemies in a hold I had never been to before. I countered that it took an extraordinarily skilled warrior to create enemies wherever he travelled. Lydia inquired about my plans and I told her of Aretino in Windhelm and my hopes to get Grelod the Kind removed. She just shook her head and told me that I should focus on the task the Greybeards set me on but she knew that I was not one to do what I was told.

After bidding Lydia farewell with the command to protect Whiterun while I was gone, I walked through the Plains District towards the city’s marketplace. As I strolled past the various stalls with their goods on display, I heard Carlotta Valentia calling me over. She ran a produce stall that featured goods from Severio Pelagia’s farm. I knew Carlotta from my interactions with her daughter, Mila, who seemed to have taken a liking to me. Carlotta’s husband had died years ago when Mila was just a small child. A successful business woman and still very attractive, she was seen as an object of desire for most of the men in Whiterun. This caused Carlotta to be plagued with enamored suitors. When I approached her, I queried as to which so called ‘suitor’ was giving her trouble this time. She informed me that it was the Bannered Mare’s bard, Mikael, who was bothering her now. I assured her that she need not worry and I would go speak to him.

I entered the Bannered Mare and spotted Mikael easily. He was a slender Nord with sandy blonde hair done up in a hairstyle that would have looked better on a woman. He was serenading a patron with his songs and she was swooning at every bat of his long eyelashes. I could only shake my head as this self-proclaimed ‘enchanter of women’ continued his song. I waited until he was finished before calling him over. I asked what his intentions for Carlotta were and he stated that she was the most exquisite creature he had ever laid eyes on. I asked if he was prepared to not only take care of her, but her daughter, and the business. As I started rattling off all the newfound responsibilities he would have, Mikael began to stammer that while he found Carlotta to be lovely, she must have misunderstood his intentions for he just wanted to be friends. I told him that a long-distance friendship with Carlotta would be for the best and that maybe he should focus on someone who actually liked him in return. He coyly nodded in agreement and I left him in peace. As I exited the Bannered Mare, a female patron walked in and Mikael flitted to her side, singing the same song I had heard when I entered, just for her.

I returned to Carlotta and informed her that she should not have any difficulty with Mikael from now on. She asked me if I had roughed him up but I told her that Mikael was easily intimidated and no violence was needed. She thanked me with fresh produce and a few Septims for my troubles. I told her that it was my pleasure to help which she raised an eyebrow to, quizzing me if I had fallen for her as well. I put up my paws and quickly declared that I was helping her for Mila’s sake and that I did not want to see her daughter distraught over the treatment Carlotta was receiving. I took my leave then and walked up the stone path to the Wind District.

As I passed the Shrine of Talos, I heard the Nord Priest call out to me. I greeted Heimskr and he asked me about my beliefs. I told him that I followed the ways of the Khajiiti Pantheon. The Priest then asked me what I knew of Talos but before I could answer he began to give his sermon. He explained that Talos was first a mortal named Tiber Septim who conquered all of Tamriel and ushered in the Third Era. After death, he ascended to the heavens and became the ninth Divine, known as Talos though some of the Nords still call him Ysmir. His worship along with the worship of the Nine Divines spread throughout all of Tamriel and became the prominent religion of the Empire. Offended that a mere Nord had ascended to godhood, the Aldmeri Dominion demanded that his worship be banned when Emperor Titus Mede II signed the White-Gold Concordat, ending the Great War. Heimskr cried that the Emperor was a coward who banished the worship of Talos at the tip of an Aldmeri sword. The Priest continued that it was blasphemy and that a true son of the Empire would never turn his back on Talos for any price, let alone at the command of the Elves. Then, as if noticing for the first time that I was not a Nord, he started to rant about how the Khajiit sided with the First Aldmeri Dominion under the reign of Queen Ayrenn and continued to fight for the Second and Third Dominions. By this time, Heimskr was practically frothing at the mouth as he condemned my people’s involvement with the ‘Elven blasphemers.’ He ordered me to leave his sight which I gladly obeyed.

I was just about to climb the steps towards Dragonsreach when I overheard Amren fighting with his wife, Saffir. The Redguard warrior was one of the first people to truly accept me in Whiterun and I counted him amongst my friends. His wife and I got along as well, for we both shared a love of books. Amren’s daughter, Braith, was someone I was well familiar with too, for she enjoyed spending time bullying Lars Battle-Born. I tried not to look conspicuous as I eavesdropped on their argument. It sounded as if Amren wanted to spend Septims to hire a couple of men to explore a thieves’ den he had discovered. Saffir stated she understood that family honor was important to her husband but that they simply could not afford the expense. Amren responded that he had been searching for this den for weeks and could not get the sword back on his own. Saffir countered that he would let his family starve for a rusty sword. She then stated that either he reclaimed his sword or he could keep his wife for if he left Whiterun, she would not be there when he returned.

With that, Saffir left Amren in the streets of the Wind District. I approached my friend and lent him my ear. Amren related the story about how his father fed his entire family with the gold he made using the same sword but thieves had recently stolen it. He did not want the sword gathering dust in some thieves den and was going to hire the Whiterun guards or maybe the Companions to get it for him. He stated that he knew it was risky and foolish to waste resources on an old sword but that it was the only thing he had of his father and the only tie he had to his home in the Imperial Province. I reassured him that I understood how valuable the item was and that I would do my best to locate it for him. Amren offered me a bag of gold coins but I pushed it back into his hands, friends help friends for free.

I finally made my way to Dragonsreach and met Avenicci. The Jarl’s Steward was busy as usual and could only spare a few words for me. He thanked me for clearing out the rabble near Valtheim Towers when I fought them on my way to Ivarstead. He threw a coin purse at me and then shooed me out of his sight. As I weight the purse in my hands, a hundred Septims worth, a Courier called out to me and handed me a message. It was from a Calcemo in Markarth, far to the west of Skyrim. Apparently, the Dwarven Arrow I had previously purchased from Belethor was worth something and he requested that I bring it to him when I was in the area. ‘Another errand for the cat.’ I thought to myself. Still, I had no plans on journeying west for I had priorities in the Rift to take care of. I neatly folded the message and put it in my satchel, it would have to wait for now.