Saturday, March 24, 2012

Genjo the Treasure Hunter, Part 2

After recovering from the attack of the thugs, who were sent to teach me a lesson, Faendal and I made our way into the temple that had been built above this barrow. We heard talking as we entered and proceeded carefully. It appeared there had been a scuffle with some skeevers which some of the bandits had lost. Skeevers aren't very formidable, so it gave me some hope that after the struggle to survive outside with the hired thugs, these bandits would be push overs. My assessment was correct. Faendal and I managed to strike easily from the shadows and the battle was over before the bandits were aware it had begun.

This structure was ancient and enormous. My heart was still racing from the near death experience outside, so I was jumping at every shadow just beyond my torchlight as the two of us made our way deep into this temple. The bandits were few. We killed perhaps one or two more from the safety of the shadows as we made our way towards the burial chambers under the temple structure. It was becoming a bit disheartening that none of these bandits had the Golden Claw. Could Lucan and Camilla been wrong about these bandits taking it? Camilla seemed to think Lucan knew more about the Claw than he let on and that one of the reasons he set up shop in Riverwood was because of the Claw, so it gave me hope that it was somehow tied to this ancient burial ground.

This is some unsettling decor.
The depths got deeper and darker, and suddenly they were covered in spider webs that we had to practically wade through. It was unnerving. I didn't see many spiders, so I could only dread what had covered these catacombs with all this web. The deeper we went into these catacombs, the more terrible things were becoming for Faendal and I. Unfortunately, I didn't have to wonder for very long. A voice was calling out from the halls ahead of us, begging for help and warning us of imminent danger. When we pushed through all the web-filled hallways into a large open chamber, a truly blood curdling creature descended from the ceiling high above. Fortunately for us, this spider was previously wounded.

We run away like heroes a moment later.
Faendal and I retreated into the narrow halls where this monster could not fit and filled the creature with arrows while it spewed web all over us. We fought to free ourselves and fire more arrows, but as long as we were in these narrow halls, and no smaller spider friends arrived, we were safe. Between each arrow fired, we managed to rip web from our legs and hands, keep ourselves free enough for the next shot, until the monstrous spider finally fell to its death. We freed our legs and feet from the accumulated web and proceeded into the large chamber to find out who had been shouting for help.

We found a man completely wound up in web that the spider had apparently been saving for later. He referred to himself as Arvel the Swift and was obviously a bandit. Before we freed him, I asked him about the Golden Claw and he told us that he not only had the claw, but understood how to use it to unlock the secret powers hidden within this tomb. Faendal and I exchanged a glance. Hidden power? He said if we helped cut him free of the web, he would not only give us the Claw, but show us how we could use it. I asked him to give us the Claw first, but he insisted it would be impossible to retrieve with all the web covering him. With a name like Arvel the Swift, I was expected a betrayal, but there was nothing else to be done. Faendal and I cut him free.

As soon as his feet hit the ground, Arvel the Swift swiftly set off down the tunnel behind him laughing at us for our stupidity. I began to chase after him, but Faendal grabbed me by the shoulder and spun me around. He asked simply, "Where is he going to go?" Faendal was right. I had gotten too caught up in the moment. I almost risked everything to chase a simple bandit into an underground tomb. Perhaps there were more spiders waiting to pounce, or worse. We proceeded cautiously through the halls as we had done before, and as it turned out there was much worse waiting for us below than giant spiders.

Not so Swift now, are you?
Arvel the Swift met his end before we could catch up to him. We found a group of ancient undead Nords standing over his dead body, and as carefully as before, Faendal and I crept forward to flank them and rain arrows into their bodies. We hoped it was enough to kill something that was supposed to be dead already, and thankfully it was. These draugr, as they are called in Skyrim, are not as powerful as they are repulsive. Still, we worried at any moment the rest of these corpses would wake up and be upon us, so we moved quickly and silently to Arvel's body where we found he did in fact have the Golden Dragon Claw in his possession. Victory was ours! We'd gotten what we had come for, but there was something nagging at both Faendal and I. What lay beyond? What treasure lay hidden within this ancient crypt that Arvel was so desperate to gain only for himself? What forbidden secret powers would we find if we pressed onward with the Claw?

We spoke of it for only a moment and agreed, we would continue forward. We expected to find more draugr littering the halls of the catacombs, but they seemed as easily dispatched as the previous bandits to our flanking tactics. We had little to lose and a secret, buried, Nord treasure to gain. We pressed on through the swinging axe traps, and the lumbering undead, ever vigilant to protect whatever they were buried with in the Bleak Falls Barrow.

Incidentally, Draugr have better lighting than Bandits.
We emerged somewhere deep in the mountains late into the evening and I realized we hadn't eaten, so we stopped to snack on some bread and fruit I'd brought with us. We ate quickly, eager to move on and be done with this dangerous adventure, but it was nice to stop for a brief respite. It allowed our nerves to calm down a bit and I was able to go on without jumping at every shadow. There were draugr out here, as well, but they were more agitated than the previous ones we'd encountered. They actually appeared to be patrolling rather than sleeping in their crypts. I'm not sure if "sleeping" is the correct word. Perhaps "idling" is more accurate. Anyway, we made our way carefully forward and managed to defeat all the draugr patrols without any incidents.

Fresh air is always welcome after the stench of an ancient crypt.
Once we made it through the open, mountain air, we found ourselves back inside another part of the temple. The architecture was more like the original temple entrance and less like the underground catacombs. This journey had taken us into the deep, hidden inner sanctum of this ancient temple. The modern Nords think this only a burial ground, but this was clearly an elaborate construct to worship one of the gods, and perhaps hide some secret, ultimate power. It was becoming clear that what had started out as a trip to get back a stolen artifact was now becoming quite a bit more for Faendal and I. We pushed through more patrols, and all the elaborate tricks and traps the inner sanctum threw at us. Finally we found ourselves at our goal.

Genjo at the Door of Destiny
We entered an elaborate hall with murals of an ancient time that ended with an ornately carved door which functioned like some kind of puzzle-box in order to open it. It also appeared to require the Golden Claw as a key to the whole device. I'd noticed similar symbols carved into the Claw itself so I compared them to the door. Sure enough the Claw held the clues to opening the door.After the turning the symbols on the door to match the ones on the Claw, and inserting the Claw into the "Claw-hole" I watched as the door mechanism whirred and in a series of impressive twists and turns, the door pulled back to reveal the protected chamber within.

Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. As I made my way along the cold, stone pathways toward the altar before me, my eyes were drawn to the glowing, pulsating light emanating from the wall carved of the very rock behind the altar. Faendal later told me that there was no such light as far as he could remember. I was entranced by it, however, like a moth to a flame. I walked mindlessly toward the wall to reach out and touch the glowing characters etched into the stone, and just as my hands touched the stone surface I felt as if my mind exploded and my vision went black.

It's speaking to me...
When I regained my senses, I could tell Faendal was shaking me and shouting, though his voice sounded muffled and distant. Slowly my hearing returned and Faendal had spun me around to show me that a creature was emerging from the coffin near the altar. There was a guardian to this hallowed place. I shook my head to fight off the dizziness and help me focus. I readied my bow to take out whatever crawled out of this coffin, but unfortunately arrows were not enough for this incredibly dangerous draugr. Earlier I had thought and written they were more repugnant than powerful, but this one was equally powerful.

The undead warrior charged at us shouting words that seemed familiar somehow. They were words at the edge of my memory. They were words that lifted me off the ground, and threw me backwards against the wall, knocking some clarity into my thick skull. I was about to die. A power surged up inside me and I found my mind instantly focused like a knife. A surge of power ran through my spine and down my arms exploding in flames from my fingertips! I was capable of yet another spell I had previously been unaware of. I had set this monstrous draugr on fire. It howled in rage and chased after me as Faendal filled it with arrows. We continued our barrage of arrows and fire until the creature moved (nor shouted) any longer.

Genjo, the Fire-Wizard!
We had won.

We took a moment to recover then begin filling our pockets with anything that wasn't nailed down. The draugr overlord had been wielding a magical battle-axe, but was also carrying a heavy, carved stone with various designs and markings all over it. It seemed important, so I made sure to carry it back to Riverwood. Faendal and I didn't really take the time to look over much of what we had. We were too exhausted, so we decided we'd work out the details later of divvying up the loot. We were just happy to have the Golden Claw, discover the secret chambers of Bleak Barrow Falls and be headed back to our beds alive.

Fresh Air! I missed you!
It was deep in the night when we emerged from the temple into the mountains. Faendal and I decided we wouldn't bother waking up Lucan and Camilla, so we parted ways and went to sleep. I'm at the Sleeping Giant Inn now wondering about the things I've done and seen today. I summoned a spectral wolf and destroyed an undead overlord with flames that came from within me. What else am I capable of? I didn't know I had these powers in me until I was faced with death. Perhaps I should seek out a magic school to help me encourage these powers. I'd also like to find someone who can explain to me what happened at that wall behind the altar. What were those words I heard? Why did I see the wall glowing, but Faendal did not? All these things run through my mind tonight, but I'm to exhausted to think about it any longer. Tomorrow, I return the Golden Dragon Claw to the Riverwood Trader, and then I'm off to Whiterun and finally speak with the Jarl. Perhaps the Jarl will have more answers for me.

- Genjo, the Breton
21st of Last Seed, 4E 201  

The OOC Corner - Reader's Poll & Author's Notes

I'm sorry it took me a week to post this. I had planned to release it the day after my last poll ran out, but my wife and I discovered a new game that literally destroyed our free time last weekend. Thankfully, that addiction is back under control, though we're still playing frequently when we have the time. I apologize again for not getting Part 2 up sooner. 

Mods I'm running:
  • Craftable Arrows
  • Dynamic Merchants
  • Im's More Complex Needs
  • Camping
  • Realistic Lighting

The "Realistic Lighting" mod really makes dungeon delving difficult. Even when I post the screenshots, I often have to increase the exposure slightly so you can see what's going on. I'm sure none of you want to look at pictures of black screens (other than to impress upon you just how dark it is in an unlit cave). Fortunately, I'm well stocked on torches, but unfortunately that makes me more visible to my enemies. 
Genjo will be going to Whiterun when he wakes up, but please decide what skills he should develop.

What skill should Genjo develop?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Genjo the Treasure Hunter, Part 1

It was only five days ago that I cheated death at Helgen. Today, I cheated death again.

Divines smile on both of us!
I did my usual morning routine of working at the lumber mill and thinking about my future. I went to bed thinking I'd be going to Whiterun today, but as I watched Faendal working at the mill, I realized I had some unfinished business here in Riverwood. I approached him and asked him if he wanted to join me on a quest to help the Riverwood Trader, and by association help Camilla. I knew what his answer would be before I asked. We took the time to train our archery skills together, then we geared up and dropped in on Camilla and Lucan to get the details of their burglary. Thus the quest to retrieve the Golden Dragon Claw was set in motion. If we'd known what we were in for up at Bleak Falls Barrow, we may have reconsidered.

The Morning's Last Respite
Camilla walked us to the edge of town, explaining to me in detail how to reach Bleak Falls Barrow, where she and Lucan believed the bandits had taken the Golden Claw about five days ago. None of us were sure they were still there, but there was only one way to find out. Faendal and I began our way up into the mountains for a day we won't forget anytime soon. Our climb started out as unremarkable. We killed a wolf that had not seen us yet. Then we found the tower I had seen in the mists two days ago. It seemed like a good outpost for these bandits that were infesting the surrounding Riverwood area so we approached it cautiously.

You can't see him, but Faendal is lurking in those bushes to the right.

We were correct. There were several bandits holed up in this tower. They were probably some form of lookouts for the troop located farther up the mountains at the Bleak Falls Barrow, but they failed. Faendal and I learned a valuable lesson from this tower encounter. We make an excellent team. Without any real communication, we devised a flanking maneuver using our stealth, and it was augmented with our long hours of archery practice. We were able to surround and defeat bandits before they could even get to us. I would draw them out by marching up the road. Faendal would slip around in the bushes and fire from a hidden location. The tower bandits were no match for these tactics. After carefully investigating this tower for the Golden Claw, we decided to move on.

Intimidating Complex
When we reached the entrance to the Bleak Falls Barrow, which you can see for miles around, I realized it was going to be a problem. We couldn't just march up the front steps or we would be swarmed with bandits on all sides. This called for caution and careful planning. I instructed Faendal to stay alert and keep watch while I scouted the perimeter for alternative ways up to the barrow. I hoped we could out-flank all the bandits camped here as easily as we had at the tower just down the mountain. This scouting mission ultimately saved my life as I'll explain in a moment. I found two alternative ways up to the entrance. One path involved inching along a narrow ledge to get to the far side of the complex and work our way up from behind. Although we would be behind the bandits, I would have preferred to strike from the high ground, so I continued my search.

This ledge will be important later.
I ultimately found a way up to the top level of this structure and decided Faendal and I would strike from here. I had counted four, maybe five bandits in my scouting and Faendal agreed. We could easily overtake this force with the advantage of surprise, stealth and the high-ground. We launched our attack. Again, without communication, I drew the bandit's attention while Faendal flanked the bandits who rushed up to impale me. It was expertly executed. Though, we both received some cuts, scrapes and arrows to the knee. The initial rush ended and both of us thought we'd gotten all the bandits, but there was a chance one or more were lurking in the shadows waiting to ambush us, so we proceeded carefully along the top level to the entrance of Bleak Fall Barrow.

Faendal used to be a lumberjack like me, but then he took an arrow to the knee.
We were standing at the entrance when we saw three men approach. We immediately hid behind some pillars and watched as one remaining, hidden bandit was run through by the three men. We could see that unlike the bandits who had been wearing leather and hide, these men were wearing some strong, iron armor and were well armed. The fact that they ruthlessly murdered a bandit only showed us that they meant business, but were they friend or foe? Faendal motioned that he'd never seen them before and so we waited and watched as the three men approached. They were coming up the stairs, heading straight for us. They appeared to know we were there, despite being well hidden.

I decided that there was no point hiding so I came out from behind the rocky pillar with my weapons secured and my hands raised. I told them I meant them no harm and we were looking for something that was stolen from a nearby town. They ignored me. The obvious leader of the three thugs turned to the other two and said, "Yup. He's the one we were sent to find. Get him!" A chill ran to my bone. I was in serious danger, and unprepared for it. Faendal was by my side instantly, but within seconds he had been disabled, perhaps dead. I lost sight of him as I rushed backward, pulling my dagger free in an attempt to defend myself from these men. As the fear gripped me, a sensation welled up inside me - something unusual that I'd never felt before. It tingled and burned simultaneously and with an outstretched hand a blast of blue energy shot forth.

Genjo the Summoner
I summoned a spectral wolf to aid me in my battle! How? I still am confused where this dormant magical power came from. It must be a part of my Breton heritage, but why had it only now manifested? Was it the fear or the adrenaline? I didn't have time for these thoughts in the heat of the battle, however. The wolf served me well as a distraction, but he was not powerful enough to take on even one of the three men. As they turned part of their attention to my wolf companion, I took the time to drain what limited supply of health potions I had available. It was becoming clear to me that I could not fight these men all at once and alone.

I rushed down the stairs away form the entrance to the barrow and stumbled over the bandit these men had killed on their way to find me. My spirit wolf was gone. I felt it fade out of existence. Faendal was no where to be seen. I was all alone and these men were bearing down on me. I tried to face them, but they managed to flank me much as Faendal and I had done to our foes earlier. I tried to keep a pillar between myself and the men, but eventually one circled around to sneak up behind me. I was bleeding from multiple wounds. I was feeling faint. This was going to end in death if I didn't think quickly. I jumped down to a lower level and realized I was near that narrow ledge I had found earlier - there was no way they could flank me there! This idea proved to save my life.

I ran to the ledge as the men were rushing down the stairs behind me. I managed to lodge an arrow in the lead man, slowing him, but the other two were quick to take his place. I just needed to keep them focused on coming at me and not give them a chance to go around and surprise me from behind. I carefully inched along the ledge, careful not to lose my footing on the snowy shelf. Then I turned to face the men one by one. I could barely stand, I was getting so weak from blood loss. I knew that this was going to be my final stand. It was me or them. One by one they came out onto the ledge. I slashed and jabbed with my dagger - a tool that seemed inadequate looking back on this fight. The first man deflected my dagger easily off his weapon, but the force caused him to slip and he fell from the ledge to his death. The man behind him was stunned by what had happened, then he was enraged. He lunged at me and I managed to step back out of the way of his thrust. I sliced at him and he tried to dodge, but also fell to his death. I heard him crunch in the snow below me.

The last man did not seem so foolish. He did not come out on to the ledge. He could see I was wounded and close to passing out. He had a cruel smile on his face and waited for me to come to him. He wouldn't be baited and he knew if he just waited long enough, I'd pass out soon. Then my salvation came. An arrow pierced his throat, the force of which sent him sailing off the cliff to join his companions in the afterlife. Faendal emerged and helped me off the narrow ledge. We had both nearly died, but somehow we had come out alright. We had defeated these powerful men. We laughed in near hysterics through the pain as we bandaged each other's wounds and drank the potions that would heal them and restore us to health. We had done it.

Here They Fell
An inspection of the men revealed a contract for my death or capture from an unknown "bandit." I suspected the incident at Embershard Mines had caught up with me, as I could not recall angering any bandits prior to that. Perhaps they were affiliated with these bandits at Bleak Falls and had hired men to track me down and bring me to bandit-justice. I do not know, and with such a vague signature, there is no way for me to find the man who sent these men after my head. Faendal and I ate lunch and recovered. We allowed ourselves time to calm down after that fight that was so close to ending in our own deaths. We had to rally and recover before we could enter the barrow itself and recover the Golden Claw.

Who is this mysterious "Bandit?"
I will continue to log this adventure later. For now, I must rest.

The OOC Corner - Reader's Poll & Author's Notes


This half of the adventure was incredible. I was so anxious and stressed out about defeating these men who literally had me to the brink of death twice! I could not even continue playing after this I was so worked up. Trying to play for an audience, and trying to keep a game character alive when the world is out to get him is quite an exhilarating experience. It's very rewarding for me. Genjo is only level 2 and only been on 2 adventures, but they're probably the most fun I've had in the entire game thanks to this blog and my loyal readers. I hope you continue to enjoy it for a while to come.

Mods I'm running:
  • Craftable Arrows
  • Dynamic Merchants
  • Im's More Complex Needs
  • Camping
  • Realistic Lighting
Now onto the Interlude Poll!
I will only run this poll for 36 hours instead of 48, so I can post Part 2 sooner.

What skill does Genjo improve?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Genjo and the Embershard Mine Liberation

Where do I start? Saying that I woke up, ate breakfast, chopped wood, and worked at the smithy just doesn’t sound like the beginning of what turned out to be such an exciting day. When I went to bed last night, I was struggling to decide if I was going to head to Whiterun or go up to that occupied mine and liberate its minerals. I woke up with a clear purpose. Villains would no longer profit on the hard work of Riverwood and its local traders. I needed what was in that mine and this town needed the peace of mind that it would not be terrorized by highwaymen. It was a good deal for everyone and so I set the wheels in motion.

Let’s get one thing straight, though. I’m not a hero. I wanted to turn this situation into a profit, and not only will the law look the other way, but people around here may come to respect me as a peacekeeper. Everyone involved gets what they want. Well, except the bandits. They should have thought of that before they turned to a life of crime, though. Justice has come to the town of Riverwood, and in exchange money will come to my pockets.

All that said, I don’t like killing people. I prefer to avoid it unless I’m threatened, or in this case my livelihood. I’m not a warrior or a mercenary. I haven’t been trained in fighting or magic. I consider myself an average guy. When I’m properly motivated, however, I can muster the courage to face death. This is one of those times. It’s just not my style to grab a weapon and rush into battle, though. This required preparation, which is why I spent my morning in Riverwood preparing. I did work at the mill for some money. I also tossed away my foot-wrappings for some real moccasins that I made out of a wolf I killed in the woods yesterday. How rustic and manly is that? The merchants I know back in Cyrodiil wouldn’t believe it if I told them.

So... about this Sven guy... No, never mind.
Hey, nice wood! Great lessons today, huh?
I trained with Faendal again, and managed to steer the conversation away from Sven and Camilla long enough to get his assessment of the mine. I forgot to write about what happened between Sven and I last night. I’ll get to it later, but it made the topic awkward with Faendal and I urged him to talk about the mine at every attempt to change the subject. He told me it’s called Embershard Mine. Faendal was probably the most familiar person in town with the surrounding woods and he knew to stay clear of Embershard. He suspected there weren’t more than half a dozen bandits holed up in there, which didn’t sound too bad. He seemed impressed that I was going to face the bandits alone. I thought he was going to offer to come with me for a moment, but instead he offered to show me how to make my own arrows at Alvar’s forge.¹ I filled my quiver with 25 freshly made arrows and felt ready finally to face the bandits.  I only hoped his estimation about their numbers was right.

I admit walking up to the mine, I was getting second thoughts. I’ve never done anything like this before. I wasn’t even properly dressed (though my feet were already thanking me for the boots). I believe the knowledge of that unguarded, 2nd entrance is the only thing that pushed me onward. I planned to sneak in and get the drop on these bandits before they knew what hit them. It’s difficult to think I’d attempt this without some kind of advantage. One untrained man against six or more armed highwaymen didn’t seem like a good idea without having that secret entrance.

The Perfect Shot

As soon as I entered the tunnel I was drowned in darkness. I couldn’t see much of anything beyond a single torchlight up ahead in the shaft. The fact that it was lit indicated the bandits were aware of this exit and almost immediately I heard the shuffling of feet on planks as a lone patrol made his way up some scaffolding. I slowly inched my way forward in the darkness with my bow in hand. I remember whispering a short prayer to Talos that he wouldn’t leave the scaffolding and come up the tunnel. A thought crossed my mind in a moment of panic. Had they set traps? Alarms? Why weren’t they guarding this entrance? I quickly discovered a few bones strung up to the support beams as makeshift alarms. Whew! That could have ruined everything. I had a perfect shot lining up, I wouldn’t want to draw unnecessary attention to myself. Two arrows fell silently into the chest of the patrol and as easily as that one bandit was finished.

Genjo the Sniper
I could still hear talking within the cavern, so I edged close to the fallen man slumped over the rail and pulled him back as quietly as I could. It upsets me quite a bit to strip a dead man down and dress up in his clothes, but he was the right size and his hide armor was too tempting. if I was going to get in any close combat in here, I would want some better protection. After I slipped into his clothes, it seemed questionable if this armor was any more or less effective than loose rags at protecting me, but what I'd done was done and I turned my thoughts to pressing onward. I checked all his pockets and pouches for coins and lock picks and also found a rather elegant copper circlet set with an onyx that was maybe worth something. I put it back in his pouch, which was now my pouch, and readied myself to face the upcoming challenges within the mine's central cavern.

The Almost Perfect Shot
What happened next was a bit confusing. I carefully sneaked along the catwalk that the patrol had used to get up to where I had been hiding. I was just past a small waterfall when I saw another bandit sitting down at a table in some kind of larder or kitchen area. Her back was to me so I lined up my shot carefully, but the arrow lodged in her right shoulder. It knocked her forward and out of her chair, but with surprising speed she was on her feet in an instant and rushing across the bridge toward me. I fumbled with an arrow and barely managed to release it before she was on top of me, weapon ready to crush my skull. It lodged into her chest and she slumped to the scaffolding before me. I was still reeling from the surprise of her burst of agility when I realized the person I had heard her speaking to earlier was rushing over her fallen body and ready to remove my head from my body. I dropped my bow and pulled out my dagger to engage him in close combat. He swung at me with his axe, but I deflected most of the blow with the blade of my dagger. The edge of his ax grazed my skin and I'm still troubled at how close it had come to severing my neck. I was dazed by the blow, but he was off balance and in that opening I managed to lunge and my dagger found its target. It all happened so fast. The sounds of our battle were replaced with the rushing of water falling down on the rocks below from somewhere overhead. No one else was coming to greet me, but as I'd soon find out I was not yet alone.

Nice setup, for a thieving bandit troop.
I took this moment of safety to look around. I wasn't about to start loading my bags with treasure and iron when I was still sure there were bandits lurking around the mine, but it didn't hurt to get a feel for the surroundings, and I took a moment to bandage the minor wound I'd received in that last scuffle. I was definitely in the main cavern of the mine and I found it to be surprisingly well stocked with a full kitchen and everything one would need to forge iron except a smelter.I continue to be vexed by a lack of a smelter with which I could refine this ore I mine into useable ingots. Still, there were a lot of good supplies here and technically a forge I could call my own. I don't see myself using it in the future, though. After a short respite and a quick survey of the facilities, I ventured on to root out the remainder of these bandits.

I carefully, slowly made my way along the tunnels away from that main chamber, but I was in for a big surprise. The next bandit I faced got the drop on me. Although I was sneaking through the shadows, he apparently knew I was coming and was lying in wait just out of the torchlight. He caught me completely off guard and sliced at my chest with his axe. Though not quite as scary as the nick along my neck, this was another close call. My dagger was ready and I made sure he was sorry he didn't finish me off in his initial ambush. This bandit had a shield and was very good at deflecting my dagger, but he was clumsy and with enough pressure I was soon able to make him lose his footing and the fight was mine. Thankfully after that initial shock of his surprise attack, I was able to maintain a level head and patiently wait for the opening I needed to end the fight. I remember my heart was racing at that point. This darkness was great for hiding from the bandits, but apparently it went both ways. I hoped there were no more little surprises lurking ahead of me.

Within an inch of his life,
he tried to confuse me with the old
"Look out! There's a pirate behind you!" routine.
Further down the tunnel I found a raised drawbridge, which I dropped as quietly as I could. Beyond I could hear two men talking and one of them scraping the rock with a pickax or similar tool. I felt relief that these two hadn't heard my previous fights and appeared to be oblivious they were in danger. I slowly crossed the bridge over an oddly luminescent pool of water below, and saw the two men below the scaffolding I had stepped on to. I readied my bow and aimed for the man mining what was soon to be my iron ore. My previous attempts to kill these bandits with arrows told me that I'd need to be fast and accurate, so this time I made sure to prepare a second and third arrow in front of me so I wouldn't be fumbling in the dark if my first arrow didn't kill him. This proved to be wise as it took two arrows which quickly found their mark. While I was dealing with the mining bandit, his friend rushed up the scaffolding with a mace raised above his head.This time I was prepared. My dagger found his heart faster than his mace could land any blows.

Genjo strikes again.
As the last bandit fell from my dagger, the mines returned to the tranquil sounds of water falling on rock. I could see just up the tunnel the barred doors to the outside world where the final bandit presumably stood guard to deter wanderers like myself from interfering with their operation. There was no way to tell if there were more bandits outside, or if I had missed any hiding in the dark corners of the mines, but I assumed this guard was all that stood between me and the total liberation of the Embershard Mines. I made my way silently to the door leading to the outside world. I carefully took down the bar keeping the doors locked shut and slipped outside into the cold mountain air and blindingly bright light. Although it was hard to see, I could hear the guard just sitting nearby. She made no attempt to attack me so I was safe and unnoticed for the moment. I allowed myself to regain my senses and then I began my final attack.

The Approach
When I could see clearly again, I saw her leaned up against a support not too far from the entrance where I was crouched. Her back was too me as she scanned the mountainsides. She kicked at the rocks absently and sent them scattering away. I felt a moment of remorse that I'd have to kill this woman, who could have been living a simpler life somewhere. I knew I had to do it, though. I'd killed her comrades. She wasn't about to be talked to rationally. Still, it felt too cruel at the time to just stab this bored woman in the back. Yes, I realize now that I had shot plenty of unaware bandits in the back with arrows, but at this particular moment it just felt unfair. I can't really explain why, but I can explain what happened next.

Sounds very contemporary, but I don't see any snow!
I slowly made my way up behind her with the dagger drawn. I knew I could slide it into her back and be done with her, but instead I put the point to the small of her back and asked her to lower her weapons. She didn't. She was fast. She rolled away from me and was on her feet instantly. She remembered my face from yesterday and was furious. I could tell that she knew what had happened in the mines and that all her friends, perhaps her family, were dead. She screamed in rage and threatened me before she came at me wildly swinging her mace. I felt no indecision then. I feel no remorse now. She met her end at my hands. The Embershard Mines were liberated.

Well, that covers the exciting part of the day, and it was just past lunchtime! I had the whole afternoon to scour the mine for all its treasures. I felt there was a slight problem, though. It was so dark in there that I'd have to carry a torch with me everywhere I went and that sounded slightly unsatisfying. I headed back to Riverwood to check the old spell tomes I'd seen at the Trader. I'd never taken much interest in magic, but if Lucan had one that could light up a dark mine, I'd be inclined to dabble. Also, I was famished and had missed lunch.

As it turns out, the Riverwood Trader didn't have any spell books in stock that would help me with the dark mine shaft. Lucan did recall I'd been looking for some clothes and showed me some robes that had come in just this morning while I was out. He had a black robe and a blue robe. I bought the blue robe and tossed on the circlet I'd found earlier in the day. Camilla came down the stairs and laughed at the sight, but admitted finally that I looked very scholarly.

Oh, yes! This reminds me. Last night at the inn as I was getting to know Sven, he pushed a forged letter on me that he wanted me to give to Camilla. I was to say it was from Faendal and cause damage to their relationship. I found this pretty distasteful so I decided it would be better if I just showed Camilla what that scheming skald was up to. She could definitely do better than Sven. I handed her the letter and explained the whole situation to her. She was appalled and very grateful I'd shown this to her. She flirted with me a bit and then asked me to tell Faendal what had happened, too. I didn't want to cause more problems between Faendal and Sven than already existed, but she convinced me with her girlish charms that it was the right thing to do.

How do I look? Scholarly?
I ate lunch and spoke to Faendal who was extremely grateful as Camilla had predicted. He didn't seem too upset or surprised that Sven would sink to this level and he was glad Camilla finally saw what kind of jerk Sven is. Faendal was the only one who knew I'd been up to the mine that morning and we chatted a moment about how it had gone. He was truly impressed and felt some regret that he had not come with me. He said if I ever needed his bow in the future, he'd be at my side. I'd say Faendal and Camilla are probably my two closest friends in Skyrim.

Hello, loot!
I spent the remainder of the day, torch in hand, combing every inch of that mine for all it was worth. I left the bandits where they lay mostly untouched. I only emptied their pockets of coins and trinkets, but left them with their weapons and clothes, and hopefully some dignity. I did however find several ore deposits and the key to the bandit's treasure trove. I raided their larder of all it had to offer and found a secret chest nearby that forced me to pick the lock with some of the bandit's own tools. Aside from ore that I mined, I found a magical greatsword and hide shield. I'm not too knowledgeable about magic so I'll have to get them appraised. I also found some old spell books and a novel entitled "Light Armor Forging" which I plan to read  before going to bed tonight.

Treasure hunting took up the remainder of the day, though, I did stop for a quick bath and laundry in the White River on the way back into town. I had to get some of the dirt, grime and blood off of me before I could sleep for the night. Now I just plan to eat dinner, compliments of the bandits, and take a quick inventory before settling in with my new book about the finer points of light armor.

Tomorrow, I think I must go to Whiterun. There is still the mystery of the Riverwood Trader break-in and that tower I found out near Anise's Cabin, but if Gerdur catches me in town one more day I think she may be more dangerous than a dragon. I have clothes, supplies, a source of income and some savings. The longer I delay the more I put Riverwood in danger of dragon attacks.

- Genjo, the Breton
20th of Last Seed, 4E 201 

Notable Inventory
  • 580 Septims
  • Amethyst (2)
  • Garnet (3)
  • Iron Ore (38)
  • Iron Ingot (2)
  • Corundum (3)
  • Leather Strips (3)
  • Iron Greatsword (Magical)
  • Hide Shield (Magical)

While I was exploring the mine, I found the journal and remains of an old miner killed in a collapse and I wanted to share some of his final thoughts for reflection in my own journal. This miner does not have a name, but I hope he shall be remembered.

"They've had me working down here for days now. It's not the time that's getting to me though, it's these tunnels. I've told them countless times now to add extra supports to the weak sections of tunnel. If only we had more of those wooden beams that we reinforced with bronze bottoms. Honestly, if I hear the earth shift one more time above my head I'll be so stressed I may stop drinking for good. I mean, what's a nord without his mead?"

The OOC Corner - Reader's Poll & Author's Notes

Genjo's first dangerous adventure comes to a close. Caution and proper planning won the day.

I want to list some of the mods I have installed and running. The ones I've added are to add a bit more realism. Some are making it harder, such as forced eating and sleeping and realistic lighting. Others I expect will make it slightly easier, like crafting my own arrows and camping in the wilderness. I don't find them game breaking, though, and they are something you could do.

  • Craftable Arrows
  • Dynamic Merchants
  • Im's More Complex Needs
  • Camping
  • Realistic Lighting
Dynamic merchants means that the more I buy and sell at a store, the more goods (and more rare/exotic goods over time) they will start to stock. I'm not sure this even applies to the Riverwood Trader, but if so it may explain the robes showing up after a few days of buying and selling there.

I'm thinking of eventually swapping this out for a more realistic economy simulator which will keep goods common in one town at low prices, but higher prices elsewhere in the world. Part of me wants Genjo's "profession" to be a traveling trader, but with all items at a flat rate everywhere in the world this really puts a kink in that. Since I refuse to use Fast Traveling, there would be lots of adventures on the road, peddling wares all around Skyrim, I think. This mod (if working correctly) will help make a more realistic economy, but since I'm not there yet I'm not going to add it to the game. It will (hopefully) give the modder time to work out the bugs, plus I don't believe it currently works with the Complex Needs which I am really enjoying.

Onward to the poll!

Genjo has 2 decisions to make today as he finally reached Level 2. 
I decided to leave leveling up to the voters, but I've limited the choices of skill improvements to the skills he's actually, currently utilizing. It will narrow down the options considerably. 

What skill does Genjo improve?

What should Genjo do tomorrow?

¹ This requires a mod called "Craftable Arrows" which I felt was missing from the original game. The mod does not require Faendal or any training (other than smithing). I just add that for the narrative's sake.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Genjo the Laborer

Today was a great day! Things seem to be finally turning around for me after the execution/dragon ordeal just a few days ago. I finally managed to make a few septims and fill my belly with food and drink. My stomach is filled to burst, and my muscles are sore from a long day of hard work. I also spent a good portion of the day getting to know the good folks of Riverwood. I'm really starting to like it here, but there is a nagging that I must head to Whiterun and speak with the Jarl about this dragon business. I'll write more on that later. First let me tell you more about my day.

I awoke very early in the morning and spent the last of my coins on a meager breakfast of bread.  I had a bit of a rough night tossing and turning, wondering what I'd eat and where I'd sleep if I couldn't make any money, so I groggily ate my bread before stepping out into the brisk Skyrim morning. The sun hadn't risen yet and only the chickens appeared to be bustling about on their day. I watched them for a moment then set out for Gerdur's mill. I had a plan to make some honest money today.

I'll put it back, I promise!
I had overheard Gerdur and Hod complaining about the help at the mill, particularly trouble with Faendal and the bard living in town named Sven. I didn't know much about that at the time, and I wish I knew nothing about it now. What I did know was I could come help out around the mill while I still had some strength in me. There was no one at the mill when I got there, so I surveyed the work to be done. Yesterday, I had passed by on my hunt and spotted Faendal chopping a pile of lumber into firewood, which he promptly delivered to the rest of the town. I found that pile of wood and a nearby axe and set to work.

Genjo vs Wood
I spent two hours toiling over the lumber. I started so early that no one had even showed up for work by the time I was worn out from swinging that axe. I had decided to take a break when I bumped into Gerdur just picking up her axe for the first time that morning. She told me to talk to Hod for payment for all the work I'd done. Thus the search for Hod began. I probably looked for that man for another two hours. I could see why Gerdur was getting on him about drinking all night and sleeping all morning. I knocked at their home, but no one answered. I searched the whole town up and down, and managed to meet everyone living in Riverwood while looking for Hod.

What is Gerdur feeding this guy?
And where is Hod?
He didn't make his way down to the mill until well after 9am. He paid me out a day's salary claiming I'd chopped more wood in a morning than he'd ever seen Faendal chop in a full day. I took that to mean I could have the rest of the day off at the mill. A rainstorm appeared to be rolling into the valley and I didn't want to be working outside so this worked out nicely. Though Hod, once you can track him down, pays well.

Storm rolls in; Hod rolls out.
Now that I had 460 coins burning a hole in my already-tattered pockets, I decided to get a second start to the day. It wasn't quite noon as I sat down to a second breakfast. I filled my stomach for the first time in at least a week. I felt rejuvinated! I was so full of energy, that I headed back out into the cold, misty weather to greet the town as a new, not starving, man.

I was still dressed like I'd been dragged through Tamriel by dirty horses, but the Riverwood Trader didn't have any clothing. They had some choice armor, but I didn't really need any armor for what I had planned so I decided to pass up the hide and leather. I really wanted to get a fresh change of clothes before going to Whiterun, but I may need to go all the way into the city just to find a clothing shop carrying what I need. The alternative is to borrow some of Hod's old clothes. I wonder how long of a walk it is to the city. My feet are still punishing me from walking all around Riverwood in these old, cloth shoes yesterday.

I spent the rest of the morning talking with the villagers that I'd met earlier while looking for Hod. This really was quite a charming place. I could see myself living here, hunting and fishing, perhaps working at the mill. I'd take the occasional hike into Whiterun for supplies, or to trade. This was more or less the rustic lifestyle I was looking for in Skyrim when I left home. I'd planned to be a traveling trader, but now, with my wares stolen by the Imperials at the border, it was going to be more difficult to get a business going. At the very least, I'd need a source of goods that I could sell or trade at the various cities and townships of Skyrim. I heard the striking of a hammer to metal in the distance and realized I should talk to the mill's blacksmith, Alvar, about any business opportunities. Perhaps he needed some deliveries made to Whiterun.

Alvar's Apprentice
Alvar actually wanted to show me how to forge my own weapons. It was often a good idea to cut out the middle man if you had the skill and the time. Since I have nothing else to my name and no responsibility other than to survive, I have the time. With Alvar's guidance, I may develop the skill. He taught me how to make a dagger out of iron. He also taught me how to temper the blade. Then we worked on a hide helmet which he also showed me how to reinforce. The entire process didn't take too long and I feel confident I could reproduce these items if I had the materials. I hoped he'd pay me for the work I'd done around the forge, but instead he just let me keep what I'd made. I suppose that's fair. I sold my old, rusty dagger to the Riverwood Trader and kept my new tempered blade that I'd forged myself. 

The hide helmet didn't really go well with my tattered prisoner clothing, so I stowed it until I'm out on the hunt again and need the protection from wolf bites and the biting cold of Skyrim.

I ate another big meal as a late lunch after all that work at the forge. Then, I tracked down Faendal, the only elf in town, to take him up on his offer to train me in archery. I trust him on archery advice because he's an elf. Elves know about archery. Seriously, though, I felt a bit guilty for chopping all of his lumber earlier that I could at least pay him for his services as an instructor. It was actually a really good training and I'd like to continue with him, but one of the downsides of spending time alone with Faendal is the incessant whining about Sven and Camilla he does.

Apparently I walked into a love triangle. Camilla is the sister of the Riverwood Trader's owner, Lucan. Apparently Faendal and this guy Sven, who I hadn't met at the time, are both vying for her affection. Faendal even tried to talk me into helping him with this particular problem. I better get a discount on my archery lessons, if I do.

I'd only spoken to Camilla in passing, but after spending an hour alone with Faendal, I decided to seek her out to see what all the commotion was about.  I found her at the Trader and we sat and spoke for a while. I found her to be quite pleasant, and apparently she was pleased with me as well. Not once did she mention Faendal or Sven, but she did flirt with me quite a few times. She's a city girl in a small town, obviously bored and lonely. The other women in town are married, so who else would the town's two bachelors fight over? After just our brief meeting, I was sure I could win her heart if I tried. She didn't seem to think one way or another about Sven or Faendal, though I did not inquire directly. That would have been rude. Anyway, good luck to both of them. I hope they leave me out of it or I may just steal her myself!

Genjo the Miner
After chatting with Camilla for a while I decided to set out on a little adventure. I bought a pickaxe from her at the Riverwood Trader and set out into the hills to see if I could mine any iron ore that I had seen on my hunting trip. If I could find enough raw materials, I could craft some new daggers to sell in Whiterun. I remembered seeing a few exposed veins so I knew where to start looking. I spent what was left of the daylight retracing my steps from yesterday picking at the various minerals I found, and I found quite a few more than I expected as well. While I was out digging up treasure, I happened to see a tower in the mists and thought maybe an expedition to check it out was in order. Another day, perhaps, when I wasn't so busy. I also spoke again with Balbus and Anise out near Anise's cabin - both available to verify that they are still creepy in their own way, in case I forgot.

I spot a tower through the mists
(and a hawk, but sadly no arrows)

Anise is so creepy, I put my helm on in case of spontaneous danger.
As I was nearing the spot where I caught some salmon, I spotted an odd rock display across the shores of the river. There was a small island with an unusual looking ore. I swam out to it and found it to be a corundum vein. I wasn't sure what I would do with it, but I could at the very least trade it for iron back in town. Afterward, I crossed the river and spoke with "the hunter" at her camp. She didn't have anything to speak about so I poked around her camp looking for a pickaxe, and when I determined she didn't have one, or any interest in mining, I cleared out a nearby deposit that I'd seen near the Guardian Stones.The sun was beginning to set at that point, so I gathered my things and headed back to Riverwood.

Genjo the Pathfinder
On the way there I discovered a little path I hadn't seen previously. It wound up to a large opening to what appeared to be a mine. What luck! I'm a part-time miner! Unfortunately, as I neared the entrance to investigate, I was warned I better turn around and go back the way I came. I followed the source of the voice cautiously to an armed young woman sitting a few paces away. She warned me if I came any closer I'd be asking for trouble, so I meekly made my way back down the path and back to town. I cut through the woods in order to make better time when I noticed another cave in the darkness. It looked like an alternative exit to the mine. Perhaps the bandit guard didn't realize it was here unguarded. I decided that it was too late to poke around in dark caves, so I headed back to the inn to settle down with another hearty meal and write this entry.

Genjo the Cavefinder
Although I made quite a bit of money today, I also spent quite a bit of money on the archery lesson and the pickaxe and probably ate my own weight in meat and potatoes. I'm back down to 33 coins, but now that I know there's some good work to do in town, I'm a lot less worried about surviving in Riverwood. I can always work for Gerdur and Hod if I need a night's food and lodging.

Oh, I met Sven. I'd heard him playing last night at the Sleeping Giant, but I was too tired to get to know any of the patrons. He's nothing to write home about. He comes off as a bit of a show-off, and while he likes to brag about going to bard college, he doesn't have that great of a singing voice. I'm not very impressed with him. Maybe it's just because I got to know Faendal a bit better after spending time with him. Both of them won't shut up about Camilla, though. That must making becoming friends with them a tiring chore. 

Listening to Sven do his thing.
Anyway, as I said, I only have 33 coins, but I also own my own pickaxe and unearthed quite a bit today. I now have 12 chunks of iron ore, 3 chunks of corundum, and I also managed to unearth 2 pieces of amethyst and 1 garnet. It seems like 144 coins well invested. There is the problem of Riverwood not having a smelter in order to make these ore into something useable. I'll add that to my list of reasons to go to Whiterun. I suppose I could just sell it all to Alvar and let him handle it, but it seems more profitable to turn it into a dagger. Whiterun now has clothes, a smelter, and a Jarl for me to deal with, but there's also the matter of that mine I found.

I can't walk into Whiterun with a new set of clothes, but perhaps I could at least bring a larger sack of ore to smelt, craft and trade. I'll sleep on it and decide in the morning. It's great to finally be going to bed with a full stomach.

- Genjo, the Breton
19th of Last Seed, 4E 201 

The OOC Corner - Reader's Poll & Author's Notes

First, I need to apologize for the last poll. My intent is to keep the polls running for approximately 48 hours so enough readers will get a chance to vote in on Genjo's life. However, something caused the poll to run only about 20 hours and so it was cut short in its prime. I took in some votes from outside sources and I'm glad they voted for doing some honest work, because it really worked out for Genjo.

Reminder of the restrictions:

Due to mods installed, he is required to eat and sleep certain amounts everyday.
When Genjo dies, the blog ends. I'm trying to play a realistic life in Skyrim. 

What will tomorrow bring?