Ch. 1 Page 2: A Jarl, a Bard, and a Bandit
(Last Seed, 18th, 4E 201) A Jarl, a Bard, and a Bandit
Well, this was certainly not where I intended to spend the night, freezing inside a broken down stone tower. Alas, there is little point in trying to continue onward in the midst of the spectacular blizzard that has fallen upon me. When I set out this morning, I had hoped to quickly deliver the rum to the Blue Palace and then be on my way to track down a bandit with a hefty reward on his head. Corpulus had given me a flyer distributed by the palace guard about the reward, and it seemed a relatively straightforward task. I have faced many characters of ill repute during my archaeological investigations, and I was trained well by my father in the art of sword and bow.
On my way to the blue palace, I was rudely stopped by the co-proprietor of that clothing shop, Radiant Rainment. Taarie — apparently sister to the other owner, Endarie, asked me with disdain if I was going to the palace and if “that” was what I was wearing. Well, of course the homespun dress I purchased yesterday was not really court attire, but it was all my gold could afford. I asked the woman what she thought I should be wearing to present myself at the palace, when I was so poor in gold, and she offered me an interesting bargain. She told me that if I would wear one of her shop’s outfits of fine clothing, and mention the store to Jarl Elisif the Fair, I could keep the clothing and earn a bit of coin.
Reluctantly, because the woman truly was as abrasive as her sister, I agreed. After all, one does not particular want to look like a plow hand when going before the leader of the capital city of Skyrim. Thus redressed, I made my way to the palace and sought out Falk Firebeard, to whom I was tasked to deliver the rum. While handing over the package, I was privy to several interesting bits of court gossip, including some talk of a ‘haunted’ cave around the nearby village of Dragon Bridge. This might bear investigating later, as often ‘haunted’ locations are often just the resting places of magical artifacts disturbing the ether of the area.
Prior to leaving the palace, I presented myself to Jarl Elisif as required by courtesy of a new resident to the city. Elisif is indeed fair, although she seems very young, and very nervous, on her throne. It was obvious after only a few moments in the court that Falk Firebeard, Elisif’s steward, is the true power there, and all of the courtiers seemed very aware of this. Although it felt terribly forced, I played the simpering female a bit and asked the Jarl if she liked my outfit. Thankfully, she did indeed, and promised to place an order soon at the shop I mentioned. That task done, I exited in haste as a palace court is about dead last on my list of locations I am keen to visit for any length of time.
A quick hop back to my accommodations restored me to my proper armored attire, with sword and bow at the ready, and a small pack of necessaries for the road. I stopped briefly in Radiant Rainment to add their coin to that given to me by Falk Firebeard for his delivery. Tallying it up, along with the remainder of my retainer from Aureyn, and I had just enough for a bite of lunch at the Winking Skeever, and hopefully to purchase a mount from the nearby stables.
I spent a pleasant lunch conversing with the bard at the tavern, a beautiful young woman by the name of Lisette. I like to think there might have been some small spark between us, but that is a thought I will have to pursue at a later time. Fed, warmed by good ale, and full of delightful speculation about a certain lovely bard, I trekked down Katla’s Farm to speak to a man about a horse.
According to gossip at the Skeever, this humble homestead was the best place in the area to purchase a steed. Although it was difficult to part with nearly all of my remaining coin, I was able to procure a steady palomino gelding by the name of Rodgeirr, along with a large sack of feed. I was told he was a comfortable ride, and handy in a fight. So far, that has been proven true on both counts.
All seemed to be going very well as I set out to pursue my bandit reward. That is, until I rode right into a blazing blizzard on one of the high mountain trails above Solitude. I was nearly blown off my newly acquired horse, and forced to dismount and take Rodgeirr off the road into the trees for some protection. Naturally, that’s when I happened to run right into the bandit I was seeking. The scruffy man was quite recognizable from the sketch on the flyer I had received, and his nature clear as he did not even hesitate to attack me on sight. A brief, but somewhat terrifying struggle ensued, but Rodgeirr actually helped out the battle by shoving the bandit aside at one point.
This allowed me an opportunity to duck under the bandit’s guard with my sword, and the job was done. I collected the ruffian’s sword, armor, and other personal items as proof of the deed, and packed them on Rodgeirr while contemplating what to do next. If I remained in the blizzard much longer, I was going to freeze to death. I was not adequately prepared for such weather. Glancing around frantically, I saw the outline of what appeared to be a broken tower nearby, and a dim glow seemed to be coming from within.
With some trepidation, I began plowing through the building snowdrifts toward this structure. This was very near the area mentioned in another notice I was shown by the innkeeper at the Skeever. Corpulus believed the message might refer to a structure known as the Bird’s Eye Tower, known for the spectacular view from the roof. The note, penned by someone named Ogren the Far-Sighted, mentioned an old tower and “strange chanting” emanating from it.
That did not sound very promising at all, but I had little choice at this point. I needed to get out of the blizzard before I became incapacitated. Luck more than skill found me at the base of the tower, as I was near blinded from cold and blowing snow. I settled my mount in a protected area by the side of the tower, and cautiously crept inside the battered stone building. There was no sound at all except my own harsh breath and sliding footsteps. I made my way stealthily up the stairs only to be confronted by quite a horrific site.
The various levels of the tower were scattered with bodies of all kinds, some of them burnt to a crisp. What appeared to be the corpses of bandits were mixed in with the still forms of other beings that seemed to be vampires and — if the robes were any indication — a mage of some sort as well. There was even the decaying body of a hargraven! In addition, there were tools and instruments of evil magic everywhere, and parts of bodies both human and animal thrown about. There was nothing at all alive. Of course, I immediately wanted to flee this tower of terror, but to do so might mean my own swift death.
A fire was still burning on one level, this one thankfully free of dead things. So I settled down beside it, sword at my side, to wait nervously for the weather to abate. And thus, here I am, writing in this journal, hoping to survive the night without freezing or being attacked by whatever freakish being murdered all these people. Gods help me, I just can’t seem to stop putting myself in these ridiculously stupid and dangerous situations. It must be in my blood, as my father was equally as bad a risk-taker. I can only hope that I won’t end up the same way he did, although I find it increasingly more likely every time I set out on the road again.