June 9th, 2014
|01:21 am - Skyrim Part 6 - Chapter 1 Ends.|
Last time we recovered something that MIGHT be considered a horrendously evil artifact of doomy doom doom, OR MIGHT be considered an invaluable research tool for the magi-scientifically minded. Either way it's becoming increasingly clear that at some point Rita's going to need a lab or even a lair of some kind, if only to have somewhere to store books and conduct Experiments.
Well. We'll worry about that later. Right now, it'd be a better idea to try to work south AGAIN and get to Whiterun and Riverwood. Off we go!
Around five in the morning the day after "obtaining" the Skull, Rita sets out for Whiterun. Again. At least talking to the townies confirms that the curse has been broken and everyone's free of their nightmares. The Skull never needed destroying!
On the way south, though, we hit Fort Dunstad, a fortress which might have once been protected by Stormcloaks or Imperials, but is now overrun by bandits. Of course Rita and Lydia stop to take out the bandits outside the fort, but going inside is ... really out of our way just now. We're willing to pitch in and do what we can, but sometimes we just have to keep moving.
At least this time I'm PRETTY SURE we're going the right way.
Along the way, we find this fellow. He's a jester, name of Cicero.
He was taking his mother to a new burial ground when all of a sudden his wagon wheel fell off. He went off to a nearby farm to ask for help -- but they turned him down. Rita shrugs and agrees to ask again on his behalf. So it's up to the nearby farm, where the farmer is ... skeptical.
Cicero is SERIOUSLY out of his gourd. He's asked like six times for help, but there hasn't been a JESTER in Skyrim in hundreds of years. Meanwhile, there could be ANYthing in that box, not just a corpse. Weapons, drugs... does Rita want to be responsible? To make HIM responsible for helping that kind of smuggling?
Rita is firm. Do the right thing, man. Help the guy out. With a resigned sigh, the farmer agrees. Cicero is overjoyed, and passes Rita a huge stack of gold, a ridiculous amount for just a few moments of persuasion. He thanks us, and more than that: His mother thanks us. Well, that just goes to show you it never hurts to help out someone in need. Bolstered by this action, Rita strides onward.
After much, much walking the snowy landscapes give way to scraggly grasses and mud. We're approaching Whiterun once more, for real this time, and soon we're in the city itself. While selling and buying stuff, I recall that pair of Redguard mercenaries who were looking for someone who'd run away from their homeland. One of the serving girls at the inn seems ... well, jittery. And when I bring up the subject, her first words are "Oh no they've found me!"
So... this is how you DON'T keep a low profile. I'm just saying. At this point the quest updates: Either go talk to Saadia (for that is her name) in private, or go turn her in. After some thought, I elect to hear her side of the story.
Saadia's side: She's REALLY a minor noblewoman named Iman, of a powerful House back in Hammerfell. She didn't know the Alik'r had gotten as far as the city in pursuing her. The Alik'r men looking for her are relentless assassins trying to kill her for speaking out against the Aldmeri Dominion, the elves that now rule her homeland. She'll give me money to kill the Alik'r, including their leader Kematu. One of them is in jail, having been arrested while entering the city, and I should start looking for the Alik'r by interviewing him.
... Uh-huh. You didn't KNOW they were in the city, but you know their names and that one of them is in jail right now. So it's off to the Whiterun Jail. Rita grudgingly drops 100 gold to bail out the prisoner, and he spills where Kematu is: The "Swindler's Den", a cave near Whiterun. Of course, it's a home to bandits as well. Their base is in back. They're using the bandits as bodyguards.
Pfft. Like they'll survive a lightning barrage.
The Swindler's Den is packed full of bandits, including some musing about how the Alik'r make them "uncomfortable". Then they spot Lydia and Rita and it's... well, it's just a slaughter. One minute Lydia's screaming "YOU CALL YOURSELF A NORD?!" as she hacks at some bowman, the next she's staring down at his body and muttering "Gods, I'm so tired." Maybe it's battle fatigue.
As I approach a waterfall in the back of the cave, Kematu calls out. He wants to avoid further bloodshed, and feels that we have much to talk about.
Kematu's side: Saadia is REALLY a minor noblewoman named Iman, of a powerful House back in Hammerfell. The Alik'r looking for her are part of the Hammerfell police force, and they've been pursuing her because she leaked information that caused one of the major cities to fall to the Aldmeri Dominion. They don't want to assassinate her, they want to take her back alive to face justice for her crimes. Is Rita still going to try to kill them?
After a couple of tense moments, Rita lowers her hands.
Back outside -- goodness, that's nice looking.
Uhm. Back outside, Rita returns to Saadia. She informs her that the Alik'r are coming and there's no time. They've found a way to follow her into the city. She has to get to the stables and get on a horse, make a run for it. Saadia and Rita run out to the stables -- where Kematu is waiting. He tags Saadia with a paralyze spell and pays Rita a finder's fee before loading her on a cart to take back to Hammerfell.
Did Rita just sell out a hapless noble to a group of assassins, or send a political criminal off to face justice? Should she have murdered some police officers on a quest far from home and helped a traitor escape? Or let a scared young woman keep living in refuge? Is this, in a moral sense, worse or better than that time she whacked a priest in the head with a stick so he wouldn't destroy a magical artifact?
Maybe I was wrong when I said there was no roleplaying or ambiguity in Skyrim.
With that heavy on our minds, we swing back to Riverwood. There we ask the innkeeper about the attic room -- but, wait a second. This building doesn't HAVE an attic. Rita can take the room on the left, though. She shows us to that room... and pushes the door closed.
"So. YOU'RE the Dragonborn I've been hearing about." Delphine muses. (Because she's the innkeeper. Having subtitles on reveals all kinds of things like that, a bit early.) "You're going to want this." she notes, and passes over the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller. "Now, we need to talk." She leads the way down to her under-inn sanctuary.
Dragons, as Delphine starts, are coming back to life. Rising from the dead somehow. No, seriously.
The Dragonborn is the Ultimate Dragonslayer. She needs to be sure Rita IS the Dragonborn, and then she needs her to help figure out what's going on. ... Well, Rita's down for that. Delphine nods and gets into her traveling gear. To the town of Kynesgrove!
Another long, long walk downriver later, we're arriving at Kynesgrove. (Be really happy I'm cutting out travel time, here.) As Delphine, Lydia and Rita arrive, a townsperson runs over. A dragon is attacking! It flew up to the old burial mound behind the town! Delphine accelerates rapidly, as does Rita, and we discover that huge black dragon (Alduin) doing... something hard to see through all the fog and snow.
A couple of moments later, a dragon skeleton hauls itself out of the ground. With a flash, it reforms into a full-on dragon.
He and Alduin have a conversation in unsubtitled Draconic. Here's the translated form:
Alduin: "Sahloknir, ever-bound dragon spirit! Flesh against time!" (Sahloknir, ziil gro dovah ulse! Slen tiid vo!")
Sahloknir (lit. "Phantom Sky Hunt", AKA 'Cloudhunter'): "Alduin, my overlord! Has an age passed since you destroyed the power of the ancient kings?" (Alduin, thuri! Boaan tiid vokriiha suleyksejun kruziik?)
Alduin: "Yes, Sahloknir, my trusted champion." (Geh, Sahloknir, kaali mir.)
At this point Alduin notices us watching and engages in a bit of trash-talk, first telling Rita in Draconic that she's clearly a FAKE Dragonborn, that she's not a real dragon, then switching to English to smugly note that she probably doesn't even speak the language. Then he orders Sahloknir to kill her.
This goes more or less like you'd expect.
After the battle, Delphine comes clean. She's been searching for the latest Dragonborn for a very long time, as have the others in her organization. They're part of a secret society sworn to protect and serve the Dragonborn. They're part of the Blades.
Rita isn't impressed, but the Blades have been the driving catalyst behind every single Elder Scrolls game, so it really only makes sense that they show up here. Moreover, Delphine thinks she's got a line on who's raising dragons, on who's behind this mysterious black one: The Thalmor.
Wait, the Thalmor? The Thalmor are a group of high elves who're causing extreme political trouble for ... just about everyone who isn't an elf, lately. (They're the government of the aforementioned Aldmeri Dominion.) You think a bunch of High Elves are actively raising dragons from the dead?
Delphine shrugs. It's the best lead she has. When Rita gets back to Riverwood, she should come back to the secret hideaway of the Blades and talk shop. Delphine's working on a plan, you see, to infiltrate the Thalmor Embassy and look for any hint of their evil plots. As the Dragonborn, Rita just became a big part of that plan.
Then she runs off, leaving Rita in the snow with a dragon skeleton and... yet again... more questions than answers.
Thus, what I think of as "Chapter 1" of Skyrim ends. So...
Bonus! Internet, Guide My Fate!
Rita now has a laundry list of potential things to do. She could:
1. Return the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller to High Hrothgar. The Greybeards want it back, after all, and it's the next step to proving she's REALLY Dragonborn.
2. Follow up on the Thalmor Embassy business. While it seems kind of ridiculous that a bunch of elves, no matter how powerful, could command a dragon... what if they can?
3. Take that novel manuscript to Solitude. There's a Bardic College with a tremendous library, and we'd be helping an aspiring author potentially get published.
4. Go back to Whiterun and see what Lurius Liore has to say about dragons.
5. Join the Dawnguard. Protect the countryside against deadly vampires.
6. Join the Mage College in Winterhold. People have been mentioning we should do this, even Lydia points it out fairly often. Advance our study of magic!
7. See what Maven in Riften REALLY knows about "the place of others", if anything.
8. Join the army. Stormcloak? Imperial? We'll throw down for our side of the war.
9. Try and find a house for sale and obtain it. Lab space! Bookshelves!
10. Take a break from quests and wander the countryside, exploring caves and seeing what little hidden crannies are out there.
11. Go back to a city or town we've been to previously and look again for quests. We HAVE missed a fair half-dozen, I can promise you that.
Pick... ooh, three of these if you care to. I'll keep track of votes. No time limit! I'll keep accepting votes on this until the next Guide My Fate is posted.
See you next time!
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Given that I generally encourage screwing around over main-questing, I'd say 3, 6, and 9, not necessarily in that order.
Of course, if you do everything for 6, that also takes care of 9. (Don't all the guilds give you a house of some sort if you complete their quests?)
I think more-or-less your opinion lines up with mine. 3, 6, and 9 are kind of the directions that Rita is going already, and I personally enjoy exploration and sidequesting. I dunno if it makes for compelling game-journalling, but hey.
Also, Rita is Thane in at least two towns, which means she has two places she can already buy a house, money permitting.
My two cents worth..
6. I dunno what the mods you have installed do to this, but in the basic game they have ALL the best spells and trainers. (like, nearly anything at all above 50 skill can only be got here.) Not a huge benefit unless you're really mage-centric, but since you are on this playthrough..
9. It's always good to have a home base to stack your followers, miscellaneous ingredients, books, etc, in.
10. You'll get around to the main quest eventually, there's bound to be TONS of sidequests, more than enough to sustain multiple playthroughs if you've added more via modding, and most of the joy of an elder scrolls game is just poking your nose in somewhere and finding out that a 'random encounter' in a cave has story threads you can tug in one or more directions. Take your time as you go from A to B and do some of these.
1) Join the bard's college, get your speechcraft sky high, READ ALL THE THINGS, get huge discounts on all the spells.
2) Get a house. Find some lusty argonian maid, make her lay eggs for a family.
3) Become a Vampire. Don't kill them off, join them!
...so... 3, 9, 5? Because aside from house, none of what you said is actually on the poll, but whatever.
Edited at 2014-06-09 06:57 am (UTC)
3, 9, and 10. Because, reasons!