Category: Skyrim

What I did on my Summer Break in Skyrim:  Day Four – Some Field Tripping happens (Finally)

What I did on my Summer Break in Skyrim: Day Four – Some Field Tripping happens (Finally)


I felt a bit better about things when I woke up; which I almost immediately recognised as a bad omen, given recent events, but I can’t exactly just stay in this bed. I’ll be penniless by the end of the week, for one thing, and still out on my arse.

So I set off to find this dragon-stone thing. Before I get side-tracked with that, though, I’m going to make some notes on the local buildings, because this is what I came here for, by thunder. Even if it was just to get out of a summer beating carpets.

In fact – and none of my family better ever read this – I didn’t really want to be an Orchitect in the first place. I mean, I didn’t really not want to, either, and I’m glad Stompa went into Sums so I didn’t have to, because that looks dry as corpse-dust, but… Well, I can see where Gran’s coming from. She was a humble legionary, she gave birth to Mum on the campaign trail, she lucked out when a dray shed its load of carpets over the bridge into the dry river-bed she was camped in (or so she says)… and one thing and another, Mum ended up as a rug-trader. So one generation claws its way into the mercantile class and of course they want the next to do even better, don’t they? The three of us are going into Society, like it or not. So Corporagoth’s now Dorctor Corporagoth, with a fancy practice in the city, and Stompagoth’s letters are all signed off ‘Stompagoth ORCA (Orcountancy Registered Colossal Arse)’ ha, not really, I just say it to wind her up.

Point is, I suggested Orchaeology, only that’s apparently way common and smacks of grave-robbing. ‘Stick to the present’, Dad said, ‘or better still, the future. Don’t make a living with your hands if you can make one with your brain; what if something happens to your hands?’

(I did say, ‘but you still have to hold a quill’, and I said it only that one time because Mum overheard me giving Dad backchat. My ear rang for a week.)

Orchitecture’s not that bad, I guess. I’m not sure I’m great at it, but I can now look at the Nordic buildings and give my comparative observations. So here we go: exhibit A, typical Nord house.

NORD HOUSE – WHITERUN

That looks… human. Very typically human, in fact. Walls not really thick enough, funny insistence on right-angles. Observe the pointy bits, and the presence of the second floor (why? It is an unnatural practice that should be avoided whenever possible, and there’s plenty of clear ground around it to build sideways instead). On the plus side, the windows are small and few, so strangers can’t just wander up and peer at you going about your business. Bonus points for no chimney – no jest, we spent a month on the Perils of Having A Chimney (ghosts and rain get in, the smoke gets out, yada yada yawn) and that end-of-term essay on the subject will stay with me forever.

Unfortunately, so will the way that dragon just threw down a really solid stone tower just the other day. I don’t think I’m ever going to get over that. So I’m really not looking at these buildings with the clinical detachment I’m supposed to. In fact, now that I’m seeing Whiterun in daylight I can’t help noticing that the city walls all seem to have been levelled off just above gate-height and – well, recent events have proved that even if they weren’t, so bloody what, but still.

What did that? Dragons? Giants? Why is there no sign that anyone is doing anything about it? Is it because there is no bloody point?

I… don’t want to think about this, actually.

Anyway. This dragon-stone involved going back to Riverwood first of all, so at least I knew the way and I’d cleared out all the ‘obstacles’ last night on the jog here.

The wolves were back. I mean, different wolves were back, the other ones are all dead, but still, surely that was a bit quick. Also, they all seem to attack on sight. Is that normal for wolves?

Despite my massive amount of misgivings, plus the reception I’ve been getting round these parts, I put my shoulders back and my fangs forward and went to make conversation with the locals. Humans love making conversation, right, none of this minding-your-own-business with them, so I figured I could maybe show them I’m all civilised and everything too. (Better than civilised, I haven’t ever tried to murder anyone coming down the road the other way). Might even pick up some helpful tips, as well.

So within five minutes I’d met this Elf guy who told me all about this human woman he’s got a thing for and how she’s got this other human (a bard! Ha! Mum was right!) moping after her, and could I give her this fake letter from bardy to make him look like an arse. Um, seriously?

I also met an old woman who told me to shove off, which was reassuringly normal, a kid who made a point of telling me he wasn’t scared of me, ditto, and a guy running a shop who told me all about how bandits had run off with some golden claw thing he kept on the counter as a conversation piece or something and could I go get it, otherwise his sister was all for doing it herself. Since she’s even more twig-like than I am, and it turns out to be in the same place I’m headed for anyway, sure, why not.

Stompa would be better at this Sum, but I calculate roughly half the non-murderous Nords I’ve met have no problem with asking a total stranger for a favour right off the bow. Is this normal?

I didn’t realise until after I’d left that – I think – that was the woman Elf-boy gave me the letter for, too. How was that even supposed to look? ‘Hi, you’ve never seen me before but here’s a note, supposedly from some guy you know, in some other guy’s handwriting?’ Guess who’ll end up getting their face slapped over that one.

NORD HOUSE – RIVERWOOD

Now look at that. Not a right-angle in sight, pleasing curves, sturdy construction, no gaps apart from the doorway. Only one storey. That is a Grade-A piece of building-work; almost Orcish, even. Except, of course, that cow will have that fence over in minutes.

(If I’ve learned anything from college, you always have to have a piece of criticism in there. Everything could be improved on, even if it’s only theoretically, and that’s the difference between a B+ and an A-.)

I ran afoul of some more locals on my way to this ruin. Of course I did. They were hanging out in this ruined tower that I thought at first was my destination – bandits, check; ruin, check – but of course it wasn’t. These were different bandits. You could throw a rock with your eyes shut round here and hit a bandit. Also, seriously, the snow is a foot deep in places – this is summer, mind – and these people are just living in half a tower with no roof? The stairs, if you can call them that, were just this slope of wooden slats fastened onto the outside of the ruined bit. I swear, I threw up in my mouth a little bit, trying to creep up that. I didn’t want to, but some guy at the top kept peppering me with arrows and I had no idea how long he would keep it up if I just left. What if he followed me? The sort of people who chose to live here might choose to do anything.

The bandits I was supposed to be getting down and dirty with were round the corner in a different ruin. Yeah, no, I dunno what I was expecting either.

Actually, I tell you what, I was not expecting this:

BLEAK FALLS BARROW

Just… what? At first I was thinking, ‘well, use of the arch’ blah blah – I was being peppered with more arrows at the time, made it a bit hard to concentrate – but when you look more closely, there is no physical reason I’m aware of that any of this should still be standing. Hell, none of it should still be standing if it was built yesterday, but it seems to be centuries old. Possibly more, given what I found inside.

Oh hairy bollocks, what I found inside. Animated corpses, I jest you not. The place was huge, though almost entirely composed of winding passages lined with alcoves for the dead, only some of them were… no, that’s not right. They were just as dead as all the other ones, only they’d merrily wake up and attack you. I eventually noticed you can tell which ones will do that because they’ve been buried in armour. So… whoever built this place – or whoever stashed all these corpses in it, maybe not the same person, eh – knew in advance this would happen. Did the guys who became the corpses know? Did they agree, or is this… blech. This is necromancy, is what this is.

There was also some weird caper with the golden claw thing, which I eventually got off this thief who’d been caught by a giant spider. I say eventually; he offered to give it to me if I freed him, but then he laughed and ran off and I found him dead round the next corner. I feel there’s a valuable lesson in keeping my own word, there. Anyway. The claw fit into this hole in this bizarre contraption of a gigantic stone door – kind of like a key, I guess – and on the other side, guess what?

More corpses, of course, half of them looking for a fight. I wasn’t a bit surprised.

There was, however, this big alcove that was… whispering. Well, maybe sort of shouting, only quietly. Is that possible? Ha, yeah, it’s a wall. Making a noise. I eventually went to have a closer look, and yeah that was a mistake wasn’t it, because part of it started glowing and this wind blew up and… I don’t know what happened but the glowing bit sort of got into my head. I feel ill just thinking about it. Is that how the corpses were made? What am I going to tell Dad? What if I tell Gran and she decides to exorcise me with an axe?

Anyway, I got that dragon-stone thing. Those bandits aren’t needing their bed-rolls anymore, and they look clean enough. Definitely cheaper than the tavern, too. Besides, if I’m cursed or something, better if nobody’s around when I wake up as a ghoul, right?

I never thought I’d miss Gran’s campaign tent.

How I spent my Summer Break in Skyrim: Day Three – Some Nordic Culture

This guys’ family were amazingly chilled about everything. Seriously. He was all, ‘so you may be wondering why I’m not at work, but this dragon totally burned it all down at no notice, also you may observe I have someone a bit novel in tow, well, she was about to be executed but as luck would have it…’

There was no eruption about how did he think he was going to earn his keep now his workplace was ashes. There was no explosion about bringing home strangers of ill repute (all strangers are of ill repute in the boondocks, right?) They actually thanked me, for my help, and said I could take anything I wanted; ‘within reason’.

I took an apple and some ale. I thought it was a trick. I did have a go at making this armour a bit better at the guy’s forge – been a while but you never forget, eh. It’s the proverbial swinging a hammer.

Wish I’d chanced my arm now, right enough. An apple a day isn’t terribly filling. Plus, the implications of having lost everything are beginning to sink in; especially now I realise I might need a lot more than I’d originally packed. The weapons are starting to look like a bare necessity, put it that way.

In return for the apple and the ale – and I’d thought I should maybe put a bit of distance between myself and whats-his-name’s Uncle in case they changed their minds – I agreed to take the news of the dragon to some guy called Yarl in some place called Whiterun. They said it was a simple enough journey. Yeah, no. It was only about a half-hour’s jog and I was still attacked by a pair of wolves and some guy who wanted my ‘valuables’. Ha again. When I told him to shove it he tried to stab me to death – admittedly this was far less surprising than it would have been, ooh, yesterday – but I triumphed. Somehow. Maybe those guys in Riverwood knew it was dangerous out here and just wanted me gone. I mean, if this message was that important, someone would have come with me, right?

Anyway, civilisation finally dawned upon me. As such. City walls and guards and so forth, and sweet, familiar shops. Once they let me in, which they were not much for doing at first.

Amazingly bad prices one gets round here for a haul of second-hand weapons. Maybe it’s because they’re so numerous or something. Stompa would probably know about that.

I took the message to the Yarl, which I now know is a title not a name, and he was all, ‘great, well done, now there’s this ruin that needs investigating for this stone to control dragons or something’… and it would be great if I coulddo it because everyone else is busy. Apparently. This, at least, sounds a lot like spending the summer at home.

He seemed to suggest how maybe I should go at once. Yeah, no. It feels like a week since I got any sleep. Couldn’t they have rustled up a bed for me or something? A corner would have done at that point. I trailed back out into town, discovered a tavern, and spent rather more on food and board than I’d made on those weapons. I probably won’t mention this part, assuming I get home, because it’ll just add to everyone’s conniptions, but I did stay well away from the local bard. He seemed to be staying well away from me, too, which is… not what I expected from their reputations.

Actually, thinking about it… The bad prices. The way everyone’s been very grateful – as they’ve hustled me out the door. The way I’ve had three different people, who I’m sure didn’t know each other beforehand, shout ‘die, Orc filth!’ as they tried to murder me pretty-much on sight. Hairy bollocks, I am right in the boondocks.

Fine, I’ll still get this dragon-stone thing. I don’t like the thought of that big beastie just lumbering round the sky waiting to drop on who-knows who and burn them to cinders. Besides, if I go home now… No. I’ll get some shut-eye and head out in the morning to make the best of this.

Oh, I almost forgot. On my way into town, there was some sort of commotion and it turned out to be these three locals killing a giant. Literally right across the river from town. A giant. I got heckled by the hucksters for not joining in – as if I was going anywhere near that carry-onwhich I ignored because it’s been quite a day already. Only, thinking about it, what sort of people cut about all dolled up in war-paint and give total strangers grief for not dropping everything and wading in?

People who are on the pull, is who. I might be in, there.

How I spent my Summer Break in Skyrim: Day Two – A Surprising Reversal of Fortune


So… things could have started off slightly better.

In fact, things could have started off a walloping load better, and if they’d started off only slightly worse I wouldn’t be writing this at all, so I suppose there is that. We hadn’t even crossed the border when, I swear, there was actual snow on the ground. The stagecoach got so cold, then as soon as we were – allegedly – over the border, the driver dropped me off. Very unceremoniously, and not even at anything remotely resembling a way-farer’s station, either. The guards made ‘drawing their weapons’ motions when I protested – I jest you not – and then they all drove away while I was tumbled in the snow. Charming.

I gave the situation due consideration, as well as much swearing, then legged it behind some bushes to put on Gran’s thermal campaign undies. I mean, two generations have passed – whatever might have inhabited them at the time had to be dead by now, right?

Can you believe things actually got worse? They did. I got ambushed in the middle of getting changed. As in hauled out at sword-point, bound at the wrists at sword-point, prodded onto a cart at sword-point. I didn’t even see where they took all my stuff. I ended up sat in the cart with this guy who was gagged and this other guy who just wouldn’t shut up, which is maybe why they’d gagged his mate. And this other guy, who kept telling the un-gagged one to shut up. I guess it was nice nobody thought to comment on Gran’s thermals, which were the only thing I was wearing, except it turned out they had other things on their minds because we ended up at this castle and – I am not joking – the whiny one got shot while trying to run away. The one who’d been telling him to shut up, he got his head cut off, so really, no indications of what was the better move there. Then they told me to give my name and business and – even though I wasn’t on their list of whoever they were after – the guy told me I had to kneel down to get beheaded too. He did apologise for it, so I suppose there is that, but really?

All I could think of was how Stompa managed to get out of beating carpets all summer by just scrawling numbers on a board and pretending to do Sums on them. I hadn’t done anything worse, and now look.

So at the last minute, this actual dragon turned up and burned the place to the ground and I escaped.

Yeah, ha, that sounds really great, doesn’t it? As well as absolutely unbelievable. It was exactly the opposite of all of that. It was all just noise and heat and rubble being smashed down all around me – I swear, every-way I turned it was there in front of me. This guy – the one who had apologised for me being murdered – yelled at me to follow him and we went up this tower. Boom, smash, dragon comes through side of tower. That stone was as thick as my arm-span is wide. The stairs fell in behind us, we had to jump. We fled into another tower, this time heading downward, and I swear to this, too, the dragon actually stuck its head down through the cobbles or whatever into the room we were in. It went away again, but… what?

Well, so, I kinda just did what he said, after that. Yeah, even with him being wrong about everything all the time. I didn’t have any better ideas. Only, first he said we should try and get some gear together, and granted, I felt a bit better about everything when I had some metal between me and the drafts, but then he said he meant weapons, which ha, yeah. Let’s stab a dragon that can stick its head straight through a stone wall with, like, daggers and stuff!

Ha. Turned out he didn’t mean the dragon. He meant about a hold-full of other people we met under the castle, and in this load of caves beyond it. I think some of them might have been on his side, technically, given that they were torturing people in there and seemed quite territorial about the place and all? Except I think some of the other ones weren’t, so what is even going on here with such bad watches being kept? I thought of Gran, and how she keeps saying all she wanted for us all was to be better than hired swords, and how I don’t know anything about using a sword because why would I ever need to. I did a lot of flailing and quite a lot of screaming, and hairy bollocks but I just killed more people today than I’ve ever even kissed. Which is none, so much for college life; but the number of people I’d killed as of this morning was also none.

There were spiders, too – ha, yeah, ‘carpet-spiders can get really big, like the size of your hand’ – no, these were bigger than me, I swear. I… thought crawlies needed warm climates to get big? And a bear. Just, you know, all hanging out in these caves like it was no big deal. I’m amazed I’m here to write this. Like, Dad’s always been all, ‘ooh Corpora’s got your mother’s mighty thighs’ and ‘Stompa’s got your mother’s biceps’ and when it comes to me, it’s always, ‘well, Beshie… you got your mother’s fangs,’ but there’s always this sort of pause? I’m not a runt – I’m nearly as tall as he is – I just haven’t filled out yet.

Anyway. I’m alive, and currently holed up at the mouth of the cave writing this with what I stole, but I don’t think Gran would be proud.

In fact, I think she’s going to be bloody furious, because with hindsight I reckon her tent got torched in the dragon attack. That was the tent she gave birth to Mum in, that was, and the legion just kept on going without her. Sort of a family heirloom, that tent.

I don’t really know what to do now. I guess I’ll go with this guy to his uncle’s place because he’s keeping on and on about how we should get moving. Do they have that thing about chaperones here that some humans do back home? I hope not. Also, I do hope the dragon didn’t burn anything important of his, or we will get such a bollocking when we arrive.

How I spent my Summer Break in Skyrim

I know, I know. I have so many plans for Proper projects and a limited amount of time and energy. Why waste it on this?

I could call it drawing practice, I could call it baby steps. I could say, I don’t want everything I do in my spare time to be done with an eye to making a buck (and anyway, I suck at marketing). I’m enjoying it, is why I’m doing it. Plus, it’s an excuse to play Skyrim, then write up the adventure and draw from the screenshots I finally learned to take (thereby wasting even! more! time! Woo!)

And that, your honour, is why I will never be famous. Good thing, too.

Here’s part one.

How I spent My Summer Break in Skyrim:
Day One – A Cunning Plan

Since Dad’s spent two terms dropping lines about how I’d ‘better not think I’d be moping about, Reading, all summer’ into his letters, you’d’ve thought he would be pleased when I got home and announced my alternative plan. Or, not; if you know he was gearing up to ‘and it’s carpet-moth season so someone needs to be beating rugs in the warehouse day and night’, like he was last year. Ha, yeah. No. Summer is clammy, carpets breed dust, I’ve looked like a ghoul from schools-out to schools-in since I was six. Plus, I’ve had years of watching both my sisters get out of it by pleading ‘coursework’ – and really, how hard is it to tend to a bucket of leeches, Corpora? Ha. Now it’s my turn.

The news that I had a field trip didn’t go over quite as well as I’d imagined. Mum was immediately all, ‘and who with?’ and ‘where to?’ and, of course, ‘why didn’t we get a letter out about it?’ Well, that was why I waited to say it until college was shut for the summer, duh. Professor Grimgin should be quite pleased, come autumn, that I showed some initiative. Probably. I hope.

Gran was a lot sharper; just, ‘and how is this being funded?’ Yeah. She doesn’t just pinch pennies, she squeezes them between her thumb and forefinger until they bend. Then she claims it proves a questionable pedigree on the part of the coin – ha – and browbeats the prospective buyer into handing over more of them. Why they come back, I do not know.

Yeah, saw Gran’s input coming too, though. ‘Oh, I only have to pay accommodation-’ Ha, yeah. Dad doesn’t want me hanging round taverns and ‘learning table-manners’, Mum doesn’t want me ‘getting sweet-talked by any of these bardish types’, and Gran doesn’t want me spending money. Any money, if possible. So here I sit, with a load taller than I am; including my sketchpad, notepad, Gran’s old tent she used to sleep in on campaigns and, unfortunately, Gran’s old thermal underwear she used to wear on campaigns. Yeah, no. How cold could Skyrim possibly be? It’s high summer and it’s not that far north.

Still, whatever happens has got to beat thrashing carpets in a hot, dank cave of a warehouse.

Ah, here’s the stagecoach. More of a cart, really, but eh. Let’s just ignore that I only get free passage if this load of carpets does too…