mtmckinley's forum posts

#1 Posted by mtmckinley (171 posts) -

Forgive me if I'm repeating anything that's already been said in these comments.

Everyone knows that Ryan could never be replaced. But I can't help but feel like Jeff Green would be a great addition to the Giant Bomb staff. I'll always miss Ryan every time I come to GB and listen to the bombcast. And with Patrick now out of the office and off the podcast (mostly), I think Jeff Green could be a great, different, voice to add to the mix of Jeff G., Vinny, Brad, and Drew.

#2 Edited by mtmckinley (171 posts) -

Thanks, Eder. I'm a 3D Environment/Prop Artist. For example, I made the traps in the SAW games and the guns in the Blackwater game. Stuff like that.

Thanks, Jams. Believe me, Blackwater would have never been made if it had been up to me! :)

#3 Posted by mtmckinley (171 posts) -

Sorry about the long absence from part 1 of this story. I focused on some other games and finding a new job and didn't put time into Skyrim. But, I have a back-log of story to write, so I thought I'd try to continue where I left off! You can see Part 1 earlier in my blog. To catch you up, I'm playing Skyrim with about 160 mods installed and writing my story as I encounter them as if they were a normal part of the game. Most of the mods are graphical enhancements and such, but when it alters the Skyrim story, I'll try to link to the mods I'm using. We're catching up with our Orc friend on his way to a Companion quest. He's also attempting to find Sam, the drinking game guy, who got him in all kinds of trouble in Markarth.

Wolf Out!

I run a couple errands in Whiterun before heading out to meet Skjor out in the fields west of the city. We delve into a ruin and before too long, I accidentally trigger a trap that has me caged in a small alcove in the wall. Skjor grunts at my seeming incompetence, but almost immediately a group of ambushers catch Skjor off guard. I grunt back at him indignantly as I lean against the wall of the caged alcove to watch my companion friend get butchered by these strangers.

Skjor surprises me, though, as his body literally erupts into the shape of a wolf! A werewolf!

He tears through the ambushers, ripping them to shreds. As the last of them slump against the wall, he reverts back to human form and releases me from my cell. He explains that most of the inner circle of the Companions are werewolves and I shouldn't feel obligated to be one myself. On the contrary, I'm all for it! Anything to give me an edge if I ever have to take on a small army of guards or bandits! Ooh, or a dragon!

Time to get my wolf on!

Soon after returning to Whiterun, I am brought to a secret meeting in the middle of the night. Sure enough, I'm offered the chance to become a werewolf myself. Without hesitation, I agree and drink the blood offered to me. It is warm and bitter, but I feel a strong power course through my veins.


I black out soon after and have the strangest dream where I'm running through the streets of Whiterun, surprising guards and citizens alike. As I rush through the city faster then I've ever run before, my vision darkens and I feel the cold against my bear skin as I awaken in the middle of the wilderness.


Why am I naked?

This werewolf thing isn't exactly panning out like I thought it would...

The skinner is down!

I glanced up and saw another Companion. She beckoned me over and I re-equipped my stuff. It would seem the werewolves' arch enemies the Silver Hand were the ones behind the earlier ambush and were holed up in a nearby fort. The two of us cleared the fort of enemies, including their leader known as "The Skinner" and she asked me to return to Companion HQ later. I nodded, but felt like I was having second-thoughts on this werewolf stuff.

I glanced at my map. Hmm, looks like Morvunskar isn't too far away. That's where Sam will supposedly be. I sighed... what started as an innocent drinking game with some scrawny human has sent me all over the land of Skyrim and back again. This seems to be the story of my life so far. But that runt did something to me... maybe he spiked my drink. In any case, I plan on beating some answers out of him once I find him.

Claws vs Magic

As I approached the semi-ruins of Morvunskar fortress, I noticed several magic-users walking around the upper ramparts. They were probably not going to just let me in, were they? I stretched my shoulders... time to unleash this new beast ability of mine and see how it goes...

Let's try this werewolf thing ouoOOOWWW!



















I don't feel so good...



I came to with a start, looking around franticly. I stood above the mangled body of a mage of some kind, her heart ripped from her chest. Blood dripped from my jaws and I suddenly felt very... full to my stomach. Ugh.... this werewolf thing.... I don't know about this.... I looked around the fort and everywhere I found bodies of ripped open mages, mangled beyond belief. The other werewolves in the Companions seem to be in more control then I am... maybe it comes with practice.

I shivered to myself, knowing full well where these poor bastards' hearts had gone and fought the urge to vomit. I re-equipped my armor and weapons and turned back toward the fort. Time to find Sam... assuming I've not already eaten the guy.

Sam I Am

That doesn't look suspicious at all...

Further into the fort, I had to kill a few more mages that my wolf form hadn't yet run across. I had to admit, I felt much better about crushing their skulls and running them through the back then the whole eating-their-hearts thing. I wasn't sure I'd be trying to evoke the wolf again any time soon. As another mage crumpled to the floor, a large sphere of energy erupted into view in the corner of the room. Having not found Sam amongst the dead or anywhere else in the fort, I assumed that maybe he was through this portal... actually that would explain how he managed to drag me across Tamriel all in the course of a single night. Figures that he must also be a mage, I suppose. Good, that will make him that much easier to squish...

I stepped through the portal and a white light enveloped me. I felt the familiar stomach-flip that I've begun to associate with portals and blinked a few times as I materialized on the other side... in some sort of wooded forest area.

So, having a party, huh?

I crept around slowly, sword drawn, looking for any sign of trouble. I heard the murmurs of conversation further down the path and smelled what seemed like cooking food in the near distance. Must be some sort of camp. I pushed aside the thick brush and emerged into a clearing. There, in the middle of the woods, was a long banquet tabled, lined with men eating a rich looking meal and downing bottles of rum. But that wasn't the main thing that stood out... that would be the Deadra that stood at the head of the table. I tensed as I prepared for a bloody fight, but was surprised with the Deadra started to laugh merrily, with a very human-sounding voice. It was SAM!

Another Deadric prince?!

He laughed at the expression on my mask and lightly punched my arm in jest as he explained. He was Sanguine, the Deadric Prince of mirth, drunkeness, and, well, being annoying, it seemed. He bestowed upon me a flowery looking staff that I eyed with a bit of disdain... did he expect me to weild this thing into battle? He smirked as he flicked his fingers in my direction and my stomach did cartwheels as I found myself... back in the Whiterun Inn where I had met Sam to begin with. I fought the urge to retch in my mask and peered at the staff warily. I sighed as I slung it on my back and stepped up to the counter.

Time for a drink...

I need a beer...
#4 Edited by mtmckinley (171 posts) -

Treasure Hunt

Karthwasten... where have I seen that name before?

As I leave Markarth's city limits, I followed the road in the dark of night. Probably should try to find somewhere to camp for the night that isn't Markarth territory. I approach a fork in the road and take note of the road signs.

One sign points in the direction of a small settlement called Karthwasten. That seems like a familiar name. Where have I seen it before? Oh yeah, it's on one of those treasure maps I found! With the promise of treasure, I head in that direction. As I arrive in the early hours of the morning, I see several (obvious) mercenaries speaking to what I assume are several of the locals. It appeared that the mercs were holding the local mine hostage, wanting the owner to sell to the Silver-Bloods. I was pretty sure the head of the Silver-Blood family was just killed in that jail break, but I suppose that news was still pretty new. I offered to talk to the mercs for the mine owner... don't want these jerks to find that treasure before I do, afterall.

The Karthwasten treasure map!

Thanks to the persuasive powers of the Masque of Clavicus Vile (as I like to call it), I easily convinced the merc leader to clear out. I also nabbed up a bunch of the silver ore that was up for grabs. As I left the mine, my pockets brimming with silver, I let the mine owner know the mine was his again. He paid me with a nice chunk of gold (bonus!) and went on his way. I unfurled the treasure map I had found earlier to get my bearings.

I rode my horse around the village, looking for the small archway that was depicted in the lower left of the drawing as well as the river that the small islands were supposed to be in. Eventually, I found this arch:

Found the arch on the map!

And beyond it... the river! I hopped off my horse and hurriedly made my way to what looked like the target island.

Found it! While nothing too outlandish, I did find several hundred gold as well as several valuable jewels, so nothing to sneeze at. I happily made my way back to my horse, satisfied that I finally found one of my maps' treasures! As I walked, a now-familiar noise flew over my head with a roar!


"You've gotta be kiddin' me..." I mumbled as I drew my sword.

Some of my Installed Mods:

Oh crap...


Better Magic

Static Mesh Improvement Mod - SMIM

Long night...

As the Frost Dragon bore down on me, I cursed myself for enchanting my crossbow with frost magic instead of, say, electricity. The frost enchantment wasn't going to do squat on this thing, but the baseline damage of the bolt will have to do. I pepper the dragon with bolts as it refuses to land anywhere near me. I realize this is probably due to the rocky terrain. Nearby, I notice a camp full of Stormcloak soldiers! I quickly run over, frost dragon in hot pursuit. As I run past the first few Stormcloaks I see them ready their bows, bravely facing the dragon. I felt that, with these soldiers distracting this thing, maybe I could take it down and maybe... just maybe... feel that high of absorbing its soul!

Yes, I have a problem.

My plan seems to work, as the dragon lands and immediately flings a Stormcloak into the air. I begin attacking it on the side with Dawnbreaker, slashing at the dragon's tough scaley hide. As with all dragon battles I've experienced so far, the fight lasts for hours. I let loose every crossbow bolt I had, and completely deplete my supply of health potions. As much as I hoped the Stormcloaks would help in this fight, it wasn't long before every last one of them had been killed and I was alone. But, late in the night, either due to wearing the powerful dragon out or just from dumb luck, I manage to strike a killing blow.


I fall to the ground in a heap. Is this really worth it?

My eyes dance as the familiar sight of the dragon's skin melting glints in the moon light. The white tendrils of pure ecstasy wrap themselves around me, pushing their way through my body, and sending the most amazing rush of power over my being. I close my eyes and tighten my jaws as the euphoria fades away.

Yes, it's worth it!

I slowly get to my feet and stretch. I glance around in the night. Scattered everywhere were bodies of Stormcloak soldiers. I'm sure this wasn't the death they were planning for. I crack my knuckles and got to work, searching their bodies for anything of value. I find the corpse of their Quartermaster and strike pay dirt, finding all kinds of goodies in her pack and in the chest where she was stationed in the camp. Seeing as how it was well into the night and they obviously weren't using it any more, I set up in their camp for the night. It was the first restful sleep I had had in what seems like weeks.

That morning, I got up to a slow start. I knew I had to leave as these military camps were always sending and receiving couriers and new troops, and it'd be best to not be here with a dozen dead soldiers around when they arrived.

I managed to find my horse, luckily, and set about getting to Rorikstead, where I remembered that priest of Dibella mentioning I had come when Sam (if that was his real name) got me drunk all those nights ago. He probably had forgotten all about me by now, but I hadn't him... and after all I've been through, I was going to be taking it out on him something fierce when I found him.

Some of my Installed Mods:

Heading out of Markarth.

Real Glaciers V2

HD Plants + Herbs

Better Quest Objectives

On Sam's Trail

In Rorikstead, I was confronted by a farmer who accused me of making off with his prized goat and selling it to a giant. My persuasion skills boosted by my enchanted mask, I was able to convince him to simply let it go and tell me where Sam was.

"You mentioned a Ysolda in Whiterun," he said with a sigh. "Blast, that was my prized goat!"

Nodding, I hopped on my horse and proceeded down the road, heading east toward Whiterun. I believe I remember meeting Ysolda once or twice on my previous visits to Whiterun. Something about wanting to own the Bannered Mare Inn. In any case, I was hoping she would shed some light on where this Sam fellow had ended up.

Reaching Whiterun without any problems, I found Ysolda in the market. She yelled at me about oweing her money for a wedding ring I had apparently purchased from her during my drunken night out. Persuading her to simply tell me "where the wedding is," she shook her head.

"You must have been really drunk to forget that. You said it was in Morvunskar." Puzzled by this location, she was kind enough to mark it on my map.

Ok, now we're getting somewhere. But, seeing as I was in Whiterun, I should probably handle some tasks. I drop everything and grab an ale at the inn. But after that, I handle some more buying and selling in the market, practice my blacksmithing a bit (started making some sturdy Dwarven gear... maybe I'll make a Dwarf-style crossbow if I get enough supplies), and got my payment from the Companions.

While speaking to one of the Companions about a new job, they directed me to Skjor, a rough and tumble Companion that I hadn't had too much dealings with yet. He seemed impressed with my work for the Companions thus far and asked for me to meet him that night, after dark, for my next assignment. After dark, eh? I suppose I can hang out for a bit.

Some of my installed Mods:

I need a beer.

Dragon Bone Weapons Complete

Lanterns of Skyrim - All In One

Realistic Useful Food & Drink

#5 Edited by mtmckinley (171 posts) -

Thanks, Cyrus! I'm having fun making it too.

Where am I?

I made my way out of the cavern, back to my horse, and started back north to Whiterun to report to the Companions my progress. And get my money. While the euphoria I experienced after killing the dragon was definitely addicting, the death-defying battles that always occurred beforehand still managed to subdue my desire for that feeling again. Hopefully I'll either get better at killing them or they'll just leave me alone from now on...

Back up to Whiterun.

I returned to Whiterun, making a stop in Riverwood to buy and sell. I also chopped some wood for material to craft some more crossbow bolts, as I had completely run myself dry with that dragon fight.

In Whiterun, I decided to stop by Dragonsreach and plop down my money to buy that house afterall. I needed a place to store the heavier things I was carrying that I didn't want to sell. I had managed to get enough deals at the local traders to just have enough gold. I'd be broke again, but at least I could stash my gear in a safe place.

"How may I serve you, my Thane?"

Oh yeah! I had a housecarl, didn't I? I guess she'll be pleased to actually have a house to... carl with. I took a look at my new property. It was a disaster, but it had a strongbox and a bed, which, at this point, was all I needed. I stored my blacksmithing supplies and herbs to use later on my return trips. For now, this was home!

But being unfurnished as it was, I left and headed to the inn for an ale. Or three.

As I approached the bar, a hooded man waved at me, "Let me buy you a drink!"

Not one to turn down free booze, I allowed him. After a few rounds, he challenged me to a drinking game. Who did this human think he was talking to? As an Orc, my ability to imbibe alcohol was second to none. He surprised me though, staying with me drink for drink. Before long, I was well and truly shnockered but my pride wouldn't allow me to lose to this milk drinker!

"I think I'm done," the man I now knew was Sam said. "One more drink and you'll win the staff!"

Oh, there's a prize? I shrugged, grinning, and turned the cup over, staring at the bottom of the tankard as its contents filled my stomach...

"Get up, you oaf!"

Where am I?

A sharp kick to the side made me open my eyes, then shut them tightly as the bright lights made my head explode behind my eyeballs. I was sore all over, not just where the priestess had kicked me. I shakily got to my feet, still wearing my armor with my armored mask on the floor next to me. I motioned to put it on, but the pungent smell of vomit stopped me... my mask had apparently been used for a barf bag... recently.

The priestess glared at me, "You drunken boar! Clean up this mess and leave!"

I glanced around, not recognizing the temple I sat in. It wasn't the Temple of Kynareth in Whiterun, though, that's for sure.

"Where am I?" I muttered.

"You don't remember?" the priestess scoffed, "You probably don't even remember barging in here and making such a mess, do you?"

The priestess continued to scold me while I cleaned out my mask. It still ranked, but I could at least bring myself to wear it. I slipped it over my head, feeling it magically adhere to my face.

"I'm not cleaning squat. Now, tell me where I am. Where's Sam?"

The mask's persuasion ability didn't fail me, despite my hung over state. The priestess rolled her eyes, "Fine. You mentioned something about Rorikstead. Just get out of here."

I left the temple gladly and stopped as I looked around outside.

"Where the hell am I?"

Some of my Mods:

No, really... WHERE AM I?

Unread Books Glow

Lightweight Potions and Poisons

Unofficial Skyrim Patch

Stronger Daedric Artifacts

These Deadra are everywhere!

I eventually found out I was in Markarth, a city on the far western edge of Skyrim. I couldn't believe I had traveled so far in the span of one drunken night! And what all had I done? I couldn't remember any of it. As I moved down into the main entry area of the city, I saw a man pull a dagger from its sheath. Instinctively, I drew my crossbow and aimed it at the man. Just as my bolt left its nest, he drove his dagger into the back of a woman in the market. Before he even had the chance to run, my bolt caught him square between the shoulder blades and he dropped right next to her.

An onlooker handed me a note with the pretext of it having had been mine that I dropped. A silly way to get my attention. The note requested I meet him at the Talos shrine in the city. Having the suspicion that this could lead to a lucrative job, I did just that. It unfortunately started simple enough and went sour quickly. There have been numerous murders around Markarth for many years, obviously committed by the Forsworn, a group of bandits and ne'er-do-wells. For whatever reason, these murders keep getting swept under the rug by the guards. I reluctantly went along with the plan, to find out information about the murdered woman and get information about the Forsworn. I apparently stood out in the city, and I was quickly accosted by a thug claiming I had been "snooping where I didn't belong". After I bloodied his lip and rang his ear drums a few times, he let up and pointed me in the direction of Nepos the Nose.

As I headed toward his house, I spotted an agent of the Vigilant of Stendarr asking about an abandoned house. He offered gold for assistance in investigating it. I was already knee-deep in one worthless investigation, but the promise of gold was too good to pass up. That house I bought in Whiterun wiped me out and if I was to make the journey back from Markarth, I would need funds.

Within the house, we found a Deadric shrine. I couldn't believe it. How is it that I am able to find every Deadric shrine form here to Elswyr? The becoming-familiar sensation of a voice in my head began speaking to me. It ordered me to kill the Stendarr agent. I hesitated at first, but considering that, thus far at least, dealing with the Deadric princes had been nothing but profitable, I shrugged my shoulders and dug my sword into the Vigilant's chest with a wet crunch. Wouldn't be the first time I've killed one of these guys...

These deadra are everywhere these days...

The Deadra, named Molag Bal, was pleased. He requested I lure a Priest of Boethiah to his shrine and gave me his location.

It'd have to wait. I've come this far with this whole murder conspiracy, I might as well see it through.

After killing the old man, Nepos the Nose, and his entire Forsworn household, I got some evidence of the King of the Forsworn directing things from prison. I went back to the Shrine of Talos to give my concerned citizen friend the news. As I entered the shrine, I immediately knew something was wrong. Several city guards were standing over my employer's body.

"Hey, he hadn't paid me yet!" I yelled.

The guards apparantly didn't like my investigation and were arresting me to take me to prison... I don't think so!

I killed every guard in that shrine, but unfortunately, as I left the shrine, I had an army of guards on me... And, like I've been doing my best to avoid since the beginning... I found myself in jail.

Some installed Mods:

Crap... ended up in jail after all.

Scroll Weight Removed, lighter scrolls

Unlimited Bookshelves

Shooting Stars

Jail Break!

Inside the Silver-Blood silver mine, they housed prisoners to mine out the silver ore there. For a few days, that's all I did, mining silver ore out of the walls of the cavern, waiting for our weekly meal. Eventually I noticed a large Orc guarding a door. I nodded to him, another of my own people, but he didn't nod back. If there was any brotherhood among Orcs, there was none with this one. He didn't speak a word, just glaring at anyone who came close through his white skull face paint. I eventually learned he was the Forsworn King's guard. I suppose that meant, the Forsworn King himself, Madenach, was behind that door. Seems like he was causing me a lot of grief, so I decided to figure out how to get to him.

I attempted to start a fight with his guard, Borkul the Beast, but he whipped me pretty good. I guess I depended on my armor more then I thought. And I hadn't practiced much hand-to-hand lately. I grumbled as I went on my way. Eventually, I came up to him to make peace. He puffed up his chest, "If you really want to see Madenach, bring me a shiv, and I'll let you through."

Jail break!

I eventually procured a shiv, handed it to Borkul, and met with Madenach. Madenach talked far too much about things I didn't care one lick about. Forsworn this, "take back the Reach" that. Finally, I convinced him it was time for a jail break. He conveniently had a way out that, for some reason, he hadn't decided to take as of yet. He called a meeting with the rest of the imprisoned Forsworn and we were off through a back cavern entrance!

The cave delved into a Dwarven ruin of some sort, with still-functional machines that guarded it. The pack of Forsworn seemed to make little work of them as we went through. I paused to take a look at one of the sphere constructions. This thing seemed to have a crossbow built into its arm that shot a form of bolt with tips of Dwarven metal! Seemed very useful, and while I couldn't quite pry the machine's crossbow off, I swiped all of the Dwarven bolts I could muster.

As we neared the end of the ruin, Madenach approached me. Somehow, they had manage to procure all of my taken equipment from the guards and told me that they would make sure to take the blame for the murders that had all been pinned on me, clearing my name. While I didn't care if I had a criminal record or not, it is nicer to be able to walk around town without every other guard trying to take my head off.

Nice time to rob a bank.

I re-equipped my gear and left with the rest of the Forsworn, who had all also equipped themselves with Forsworn-made weapons and armor. They swarmed over Markarth, killing every guard they came across! I held back and watched them, not wanting to get involved. They killed the Silver-Blood warden of the prison and carved their way out of the city. In all of the commotion, I decided to slip into the Silver-Blood Treasury and raid the vault... made out with quite a nice haul of gold and gems! Gotta love chaos when it works in your favor.

I left the treasury, made sure the coast was clear, and sauntered out the front gate of the city.

Some of my Installed Mods:

Roosters At Dawn

Gender & Race Heights II

Terrain Bump

#6 Edited by mtmckinley (171 posts) -

A Horse of Course

Huh... guess he wasn't lieing when he said he didn't have any money.

As we headed down off of the mountain, I grumbled at the long trek there was ahead of me. It took quite a long time to travel all the way up to the frozen armpit of the north and to essentially have to travel all the way back down didn't sit well with me. I decided that, if I'm going to make such a cross-country trip again, this time the trip would go much faster. When Barbas and I found the road, we began traveling east, toward Solitude. Along the road, we came across a farmer and his wife. They were heading to Solitude to seek safety from the war between the Stormcloaks and the Imperials as well as the dragons. He asked me if I could spare any gold. For what I had planned, I was the one in need of gold, so I ran he and his wife through and rifled through their belongings... turns out, he truly had nothing. Ah well...

As we neared the large city, I spotted the stables outside the city walls.

"How much for a horse?" I asked the nearby stable hand.

"1,000 gold," came the curt reply.

1,000? I checked my coin pouch. I had a little more then that, but the purchase would leave me down to nearly nothing. I'd have to use the horse's speed advantage to do whatever I could to get my money stockpile back up. I reluctantly handed over the coin and received my new horse. It was clad in a strange armor, which I asked about.

"Ah, yes," the stable hand said, genuinely pleased by my questioning. "A dragon was recently killed near Whiterun. We had its skeleton shipped up here and we fashioned this sturdy armor out of it for these steeds. Makes them near invulnerable, I'd say!"

Dragon bone armored horse.

Hrmm. Interesting. Might not have been too bad a deal, afterall.

So began my long ride. I decided against going the same path I had come on, opting instead of taking the northernly path east and then traveling south to my destination. The ride proved uneventful for the first main section. I traveled throughout the day, finding myself somewhere south of Dawnstar in northern Skyrim as evening fell. Along the side of the road, a shifty looking elf stood. As my horse trotted closer, he called out.

"I've got some stuff here to help calm nerves, if you're interested, stranger!"

"What exactly?" I asked.

"Oh you know..." he motioned as if smoking a pipe. A skooma dealer.

I looked further up the path, turned in my saddle and looked back. Not a soul for as far as I could see, and drug dealers were known to be flush with coin. I got off my horse, feigning interest.

Killing a drug dealer... up close and personal.

As his blood pooled beneath him, I cleaned the blade of Dawnbreaker on his tunic and opened his knapsack. As I suspected, he carried several hundred gold, a half dozen bottles of skooma (my nerves might need calming, y'never know), and a few other valuables that his clientele must have traded him for lack of gold. Not a bad haul for a single kill.

Hours later, I was thinking it would probably have been best to have taken a room at the inn in Dawnstar, as night was approaching pitch darkness and I was no where near a village. Perhaps I would stumble upon another conveniently deserted camp site to call my own for the night?

Dragon vs Wolf... I think I'll bet on the dragon.

A shriek filled the sky and a whoosh of air overhead startled me. A dragon! And this time I don't have a contingent of Whiterun guards to throw at it! It seemed to have not noticed me, so I pulled at the reigns, getting my horse off the path and into the coverage of the forest. I moved into a clearing and saw it... not far away, gnashing its jaws at a wolf of all things. Knowing the wolf was not going to hold its attention long, I spurred my horse into a sprinting gallop and headed further east, away from the flying beast. I glanced back and saw Barbas was following. I guess he didn't feel like taking a dragon on single-handedly either.

Whiterun in the distance.

As we sped along, we got some distance, and eventually slowed into a steady trot as we rode through the night. We were fortunate enough to run across a nobleman, his wife, and their single guard as they were on their way to Solitude. As I left their strewn corpses on the side of the road, I'm sure they wished they had found an inn for the night somewhere too. Eventually, we saw the city of Whiterun in the distance. We stopped their for the night and slept late into the morning.

Mods Referenced:

Horse Armors

Hectrol DWARVEN SHIELD DELUXE HighRes Retex [4K / 4096]

The Return to Clavicus Vile

Back toward Helgen along the mountain path.

While in Whiterun, I do a few managerial tasks... hit the market to buy and sell, work on my smithing, stop at the Companions HQ to get my next assignment... the usual types of things. Feeling well supplied, I take to the horse again, heading south through Riverwood to get back to Clavicus Vile's shrine and deliver his axe.

Oops, sorry about that.

Along the way, Barbas and I raid a bandit group that had taken up in a mine. Firing a crossbow in a mine shaft can be a bit difficult and I clipped Barbas with a bolt right in the head. Luckily, he's immortal. After killing the bandits and looting their bodies, we cleared out all of the ore we wished to carry and moved on. After making our way through Riverwood and the ruins of Helgen, we were suddenly ambushed by a group of Thalmor! I wasn't quite certain why, but I found a note on their bodies that clearly pointed to me as a target for death. I never cared for the Thalmor to begin with, but now that they seemed to want me dead, I disliked them ever more!

Thalmor ambush.

Eventually, we made it back to the vampire den where Clavicus' shrine called home. Luckily, the den was still empty from the last time Barbas and I had been here several days earlier, so we made it through the cavern without any problems. As we approached Vile's shrine, Barbas reminded me (deciding to speak again) that Vile was crafty and to be careful when dealing with him.

When I placed my hand on the shrine, Vile's voice again rang out in the cavern.

"Oh, you have returned! The hero and his trusty canine companion, back from a harrowing adventure!"

I pulled the axe out of its sheath and showed it to the... statue. "I've got your axe."

Finally back to this guy after my long journey.

"Ah, excellent! It is definitely a nice axe. In fact, why don't you keep it? If you want it, just kill Barbas and it's yours!"

Barbas barked anxiously. While the axe was a decent axe, I didn't travel to Oblivion and back just to be given a pat on the head and sent off. No, Vile sent me for the axe and now he was taking it.

He seemed disappointed, but relented, "Fine, I'll take the mutt back." The axe dematerialized out of my hands. "I can't believe you requested such a dull thing from me. For your lack of creativity, maybe I'll turn you into something, to languish for a few decades..."

Barbas cut him off, "Now, now, Clavicus... you made a deal with this guy and now it's your turn to pay up!"

I agreed.

"Ugh... very well. C'mere you!"

Nice disguise.

Barbas vanished. I had to say, I was a little sorry to see him go. We had traveled together for this journey and he proved quite valuable in a tough fight. As the thoughts entered my mind, a metal object seemingly fell from the roof of the cavern and landed at my feet. It was a heavy metal mask in the shape of a human man. This must be the boon Clavicus promised. I inspected it carefully. It seemed like a well crafted helmet, much better then the Imperial one I still had. I tossed my old helmet aside and slipped the mask over my head, peering through the eye holes. For a second, it seemed like it was too small, but then it vibrated slightly and magically reformed itself to fit over my head and protruding teeth quite comfortably. I could also sense the mask had a bit of hypnotic power inscribed within it... those I talked to while wearing it might be a little more susceptible to my suggestions then normal. That could come in handy. This might also prevent people from knowing who I am... also handy in certain Holds. I turned back toward Vile's statue, but it had disappeared. Literally, the huge shrine to Clavicus Vile was gone! I guess he got his dog and got out of here. Sounded like a good idea to me, so I followed suit.

The long journey back to Vile.

Dragon souls... better then skooma!

As I left Vile's cave for the last time (never coming back here again!), I took a moment to asses my situation... All of these last several days of travel, all over Skyrim and back, could be rooted back to having stolen those iron bars in Oakwood and taken to Falkreath by the authorities... had I not been caught, I would have never even thought to travel to Falkreath and definitely wouldn't have run into Barbas and his insane master. Weird how little actions can cause such big results. But now that that's over, I can do whatever I wanted, and with this mask on, hopefully not get caught again.

Is that a group of vampires rushing at me?

As I was thinking about this, I saw three people running up the pathway. Looking at the lead runner, I could define the tell-tale signs of a vampire! Have they come back to take back their cave? Revenge for the vampires Barbas and I killed the first time we were here? I didn't wait to find out, unsheathed my undead-hating sword Dawnbreaker, and rushed into battle.

The strangely ornate entrance to a cave.

After killing all three, I bent over to wipe the blood off on one of their tunics, when his face caught my eye... this guy isn't a vampire! I looked at the three men again... the first one definitely was, but his two followers weren't. Glancing through their belongings, I figured it out.. the other two were vampire hunters from the Vigilants fo Stendarr. What I had mistaken as three men rushing at me were actually two men chasing a vampire. I guess I should have been paying more attention as I slaughtered them. Maybe this mask makes it a little hard to hear... oh well. I pocketed anything useful and thought about my next move.

Another treasure map!

Looking over my map, I noticed that the current task the Companions had me on was to clear out a cave of wild animals not that far from here. Seemed like a reasonable next move. I found my horse who had been grazing off of some nightshade by the side (isn't that stuff poisonous?) and headed west, again through Helgen and then south to the cave in question.

This particular cave had quite the impressive welcoming archway demarking the entrance... wonder what the cave was used for before rats or whatever burrowed their way in? As I krept inside, I found a skeleton with a knapsack nearby. Figured, easy money if there was any, and took a look. Inside I found another treasure map! These things are multiplying in my pockets. Hopefully I'll find the places they show in their drawings!

Is that... a dragon?

Moving through the cave, I clear it out of wolves and a frost troll who fell to a few bolts of my crossbow before it realized where I was. That was always satisfying. There was a cave exit on the other side, so I came out, finding myself up further in the mountain. Seeing signs of ancient Nord construction, I hoped I had stumbled on an old ruin full of treasures as I rounded the corner to another wall of those strange markings. The flutter of slight movement above it, made me take notice of... wait, is that a dragon?


Yes... that's a dragon!

It quickly sees me and takes flight into the air. As I take pot shots at it with my crossbow, nearly depleting my supply of bolts, I attempt to battle it's gnarled jaws when it lands close enough, nearly depleting my stockpile of health potions and weapon poisons. But eventually, after a harrowing fight, I manage to kill it. Again, I was bloody and bruised as its flailing body hit the ground. I wondered if... yes! It's corpse began to be engulfed in flames just like the last one I had killed with Barbas! I closed my eyes as the rush of euphoria filled my exhausted body, energizing it, sending tingling sensations up my neck and through my arms. What a rush! If these things weren't so hard to kill, I'd be hunting dragons like they were bottles of the purest skooma!

Travel from Vile's cave to my Companion assignment.
#7 Posted by mtmckinley (171 posts) -

Thanks! Glad you're enjoying it so far!

Treasure Trap

Poor dog.

It turns out Meridia's request was much easier to accomplish then Vile's. While Vile was having me walk half-way around the realm, Meridia simply wanted me to clear her shrine of a necromancer and his undead minions. The fact that they were right below her shrine and not on the other side of Skyrim was a plus, too. Barbas and I made pretty short work of the undead, in the final chamber, killed the necromancer that was the cause of it all. My shield managed to deflect most of the ice spikes that the mage cast, but poor Barbas... well, I guess it's a good thing the dog is immortal. Any other dog would have been killed a dozen times over. The sheer number of ice spikes sticking out of him was mind blowing. He assured me he was fine.

On a pedestal near the necromancer's corpse was a sword embedded in a type of holster. I drew it out and immediately, the room turned white. Once again, I found myself suspended high above Skyrim, the ball of light that was Meridia speaking to me. She thanked me again for obeying her wishes and allowed me to keep the sword I found, dubbed Dawnbreaker. Luckily, there were no other strings attached, and I found myself back on the ground, standing before her statue. I admired the glow of Dawnbreaker as I replaced my axe with it on my hip. Not bad... maybe these Deadric princes aren't so bad afterall.


Speaking of which, I glanced at Barbas whose wounds had already healed, and jerked my head to the side, beckoning him to follow. The cave Vile had sent us to wasn't that far off from here. Along the way, I found a shrine, sunken into the ground, a button before it. Pressing the button cautiously, the shrine rose up out of the dirt, revealing a small alcove filled with treasures! I glanced around... how has this treasure trove remained undisturbed?

I scooped up the gold coins that were littered about, and grabbed a golden vase. That's when I noticed... it was fake! Disgusted, I tossed it aside and looked at the rest of the golden artifacts strewn about on the ground. Fakes, all of them. Guess that explains their not being taken. I was about to leave when I took note of the goblet on the pedestal... that was most definitely not a fake! As I reached out to touch it's jeweled surface, the cracking sound of magic made me wince as, once again, I found my stomach doing flips as I was transported.... somewhere else.

Interesting puzzle? Or just a map?

As I opened my eyes, I found myself in a room with a single Khajiit sitting at a table adorned with a map. Odd. The Khajiit remained silent, but for one word, "Barter?" I blinked a couple times, shrugged, and began selling him the loot that had been weighing me down. He smiled and nodded as we made one transaction after another, but otherwise remained silent. As I finished selling what I wanted at the time, I looked at his own goods, surprised to see a variety of things available. The surreal nature of what was happening made me hesitant to purchase much, save for a few health potions I was running low on. He nodded as I indicated I was finished, and simply turned back to his ledger.

Not giving me any more information, I glanced about the room, looking for an exit of some kind, wondering where in the world I was. I was about to try sinking Dawnbreaker into the Kahjiit's back when I noticed the small statuettes situated on the map before him. Each was a symbol of one of the Nine Divines. I suppose these were supposed to indicate more shrines like this one? Seeing the marker that was placed in the northwest of Skryim where I was before being transported, I made to grab it. It was stuck hard to the surface of the map, but as I grabbed ahold of it, the gate behind the Khajiit opened. The Khajiit didn't even glance up as I grunted a good bye and left through the gate.

Yet another dead wolf.

I materialized in Skyrim before the bejeweled goblet. I decided to leave it be and wondered how many other travelers had done exactly as I had before me. I turned away from the shrine and, with Barbas still by my side, made my way west. We were attacked by wolves, but otherwise had no problems.

Finally found this place.

It took the better part of the day, but we eventually found the cavern that Clavicus Vile had sent us to, what seemed like months ago. I readied myself for a hard fight as I entered.

Inside was a joke of a battle. While I was surprised to see a fiery flame atronach, Barbas made short work of it as I sent a bolt into the throat of the conjurer that seemed to own the beast. Merely setting on a table in the back, I found the Rueful Axe. I picked it up and looked at it, half expecting another Deadric voice in my ear... but nothing.

"Well... I guess this is it then." I muttered and began to head out of the cave to make my way back to Vile's shrine far to the South East. This better be worth it...

From Meridia to the end of my quest!

Mods Referenced:


Arrows Stick

Wayshrines of Skyrim

Stronger Daedric Artifacts

#8 Edited by mtmckinley (171 posts) -

Back to Business...

When I woke up, I was startled to see Maurice sitting in a chair at the foot of my bed, munching on a loaf of bread. He was a determined one... I half hoped the dragon would fry him last night, but he cowered in the corner of the watch tower and had avoided much of the conflict. Faced with the choice of going west to fulfill Clavicus Vile's request or east to get drop off Maurice in Eldergleam Sanctuary, I chose to go East... The sooner I can get rid of this pilgrim, the better.

Along the way, I ran into a small bandit lair near Whiterun. They were holed up in a cave and proved to be pretty easy pickings for the likes of me and Barbas. As we were climbing up a rocky path in the cave to take down the bandit's leader, Maurice took a step to the side, stumbled, and unceremoniously toppled over the edge. I glanced down... he was dead. I breathed a sigh of relief, killed the last bandit, plucked Maurice's corpse dry, and got back on the road heading west. Rueful Axe, here we come! Barbas seemed pleased. All was going rosy.

I glanced back at the looming mountain in the distance, the Throat of the World peak. Whatever this Dragonborn business was... I can do without. The Greybeards, or whatever they were called, can just keep on doing whatever it was they did up there.

A quick stop with the Companions on the way out west.

After selling Maurice's clothes in Whiterun, I headed west. Along the way, I stopped at Dustman's Cairn where the Companion Farkas was waiting. I figured I'd help Farkas with this task, ditch him, and keep heading out west to get Vile's axe.

The battle down in the Cairn was pretty standard... until Farkas grew fangs, a snout, and claws and ripped a half-dozen Silver Hand members to shreds! Turns out the Companions were damned Werewolves! I asked Farkas if I could get some claws too. Figured it'd make the killing a bit easier. He said just the Inner Circle of the Companions had that privilege. Disappointed I plucked a new crossbow off of a dead Silver Hand member instead. It was of the Orcish variety and was quite a bit stronger then my standard one.

My new Orcish Crossbow.

As we left the Cairn, I let Farkas go on his way and I continued to the west, looking for the road. Finding it, I made my way through Rorikstead and kept going North. I was ambushed by a group of bandits, but my new Orc-flavored crossbow made short work of them.

Further down the path, I found a small hut surrounded by mangy skeevers. Barbas had fun slaughtering them and we made our way inside where we found the dead, nibbled body of the shack's previous owner. I searched his pockets, felt a rolled up piece of paper, and took a look. I couldn't believe my luck! A divine's honest treasure map! This was my lucky day.

A treasure map!

I patted Barbas on the head, forgetting for a moment that the dog was an immortal demon lord or something, as I studied the map's drawing. I couldn't quite place the location, but I made a note to keep an eye out for anything resembling what the map portrayed.

As I turned to leave, I bumped into someone on the way in, who startled us both! This fellow had apparantly shacked up in the hut, feeling like the skeevers and the smell of the dead body would keep people away. A sound plan that I commended him on, and left, hoping he didn't realize for a long time that I had taken the treasure map that he had obviously murdered the dead guy for.

First rule of thievery, pal... always search dead bodies first.

Mods Referenced:

Treasure Hunt

Crossbows: Basic Collection

Interesting NPCs

From one Deadra to Another

As we followed the path north, we came upon a well-fortified bandit's fort. I was tempted to try storming it with Barbas, but as the crossbow bolts started flying in my direction, I decided to just run past. It was dark at this point and I felt it would be safer to find somewhere to stay for the night. Soon enough, we found a campsite on the river. Luckily, no one seemed to be using it so, with Barbas sitting at my feet, I slept in one of the vacant tents.

Deserted camp on the river.

The night passed peacefully. Which was good, as after the previous day, I was spent. In the morning's light, I searched the campsite more thoroughly. Found a few items of food, some gold, and a couple of books that seemed valuable. Nearby was a snippet of a journal of the camp's owners. Seems they took off to go scour a nearby cave, looking for some missing people. Good on 'em. Wish I could see the looks on their faces when they came back to find their camp picked through!

Another murdered traveler.

Ah, yes, the daylight made traveling much easier and safer. With the sun's rays, I could see what was coming in the distance much better... such as a lonely traveler making her way down the path toward me. I suppose the daylight didn't do her much good... Hmm, nice necklace she had. Should make a bit of coin at the next trader. I rounded the corner to find a few Imperial soldiers escorting a prisoner down the road. Luckily, they seemed to have not noticed the cold blooded murder that just happened a hundred yards away and I passed them by without incident, as the Stormcloak prisoner looked at me pleadingly.

Dragon Bridge

The rest of the afternoon passed smoothly. Barbas trotted along silently, barking at the occasional rabbit that I used for target practice. Eventually, we made it to Dragon Bridge, a small town outside Solitude. The bridge that crossed the river to town made the village aptly named.

While heavy with Imperial guards, I passed through without incident. I suppose the search for the escaped Orc from Helgen was probably no longer a big issue in the grand scheme of things, what with the dragons and all that. I looked for a good trader in Dragon Bridge to unload some of my collected valuables, but I didn't see anything useful. Passing through town, we kept on the trail, making our way north. Soon, a set of stone steps stretched off of the main road up a mountain path. Something made me curious enough to take it.

The shrine to Meridia beckons.

As we got to the top of the staircase, I found a large shrine and I again heard the sound of the woman's voice from the witch's coven back near Vile's cave.

"Look at my shrine and the shambles that it is left in! Replace my beacon, warrior!"

I was starting to really get annoyed at how pushy these Deadra could be, but with the power they seemed to posses, I dared not act on my annoyance. I fished the large crystal ball out of my pouch and placed it on its obvious perch before the statue. It glowed brightly and suddenly, I felt a tug on my body and felt the air around me whirl past me with tremendous force! As my feet left the ground, I clenched my crossbow tightly, not wanting to lose it as the force of Meridia brought me far up into the sky!

High above Skyrim at the behest of Meridia!

Meridia thanked me for my obedience and requested I continue to follow her orders. And when I say requested, I'm being polite. Frankly, when someone has you suspended a league up in the air, you're probably going to do whatever they say... As I hastily agreed to whatever it was she was ordering me to do, I felt my stomach do cartwheels as I plummeted back down to the ground, where I found myself back safe and sound. Barbas cocked his head at me curiously, but otherwise didn't say anything.

"Quick side trip," I briskly explained.

He just barked.

Long trip up to the northwest of Skyrim.
#9 Edited by mtmckinley (171 posts) -

Thanks! I'm just about caught up to the point where I decided to start writing this, so there will start to be a lot more pictures in future updates.

Dragons are hard to kill...

As the soldiers trekked through Whiterun on their way to the watch tower, I glanced behind me. Surprisingly Maurice Jondrelle was still here. Before making my way to the Jarl to give him the Dragon Stone, I had stopped at the Kynareth temple to deliver the Nettlebane blade I had found on the Hagraven. The priest who had sent me on the errand to begin with, of course added another hitch to my task, asking me to take Nettlebane to a tree (way out east, the opposite direction that the Deadra had asked me to go, of course) and get some of its sap. I had rolled my eyes at this when a Kynareth pilgrim, Maurice, had asked to come with me. I agreed, just due to being unwilling to argue about it. With this dragon business, I had figured Maurice would have excused himself, seeing as he had paired himself up with a crazy orc about to go fight a dragon, but he was still trodding along with me. Luckily, the immortal dog Barbas was here too. Maybe the dog who can't die can kill a dragon? Guess we'll find out.

By the time we actually got to the tower, I didn't see a dragon. Good, because, frankly, I was pooped. That was kind of a long run.

"Here it comes!" rang out one of the soldiers.


The fight that followed was truly epic. Every soldier, one by one, died by the dragon's claws and teeth. I shot as many crossbow bolts at it as I could, even running in and slamming my newly found two-handed war hammer into its snout! I'm sure even the dragon was surprised at the tenacity of Barbas the dog who won't die. The fight lasted all night, with the bodies of Whiterun guards and soldiers planted all around the tower. I had used practically every health and stamina potion I had in my possession! When the dragon finally died, I slumped over in exhaustion, bewildered that I had survived! Barbas ran over and sat down, panting as well. If the demon dog was tired, it must have been a tough fight.

Suddenly.... I felt a charge of energy shoot through my body that made my hair all stand up on end and brought me to my feet! The corpse of the dragon burst into flame as the skin, muscle, and sinew all evaporated into white tendrils of energy that flowed into my body, warming it from the inside, making me feel...

... fantastic!

"You... You're Dragonborn!" one of the guards informed me.

My body tingled with so much pent up energy, I had to let out a yell of excitement! Surprising everyone, and especially surprising me, the sound of my shout blasted a nearby guard off his feet! Barbas sat up and took notice then. I clamped a hand over my mouth as the guards again ushered me as a Dragonborn with the ability to use the dragon's ability to shout. At that moment, an echoing call rang out over the plains like thunder. The guards started talking all at once now, with terms like "dragonborn", "shout", and "Greybeards" being thrown around.

The following moments were a blur. I was back at Dragonsreach in front of the Jarl and was awarded the title of Thane, given the opportunity to purchase a house, and was given a Housecarl of my very own. The Jarl also mentioned I should heed the call of the Greybeards and make my way up the Throat of the World mountain... The initial high of absorbing the dragon's soul had subsided and now I was on a downward slope, as if coming off a night of skooma binging...

I hadn't bought the house (5,000 gold? Are you nuts!?) and instead went back to my favorite spot in Whiterun, renting another night at the inn, and slumping into bed... I'll have to consider this Dragonborn stuff tomorrow...

Mods Referenced:

Longer Dragon Battles BASE 10k

#10 Edited by mtmckinley (171 posts) -

An Unwilling Errand Boy

As I approached the large front entrance to Whiterun, a guard approaches me. I tense slightly, wondering if I've just walked into a jail cell...

"Hold, Stranger!" He began, "The city of Whiterun is closed to new visitors. Rumors of dragons..." he prattled on, in a way that made me think he'd already turned away several people from the gate with this speech. Like those Khajiit traders I passed up earlier. I relaxed a bit, knowing that, to this guard at least, I wasn't anyone to be concerned with. He continued, "... until word of the dragon situation is heard, I'm not allowed..."

"Hey, look, buddy," I interrupted, "Those dragons aren't just rumors, alright? I barely got away from one back in Helgen, and I..."

"What?" the guard looked visibly shaken, "You saw one? A dragon? Quick, report to Jarl Bulgruuf immediately!"

Maybe I spoke too soon, "Look, I'm just passing through..."

He didn't seem to hear me as he turned to his companions, "Open the gates for the orc!"

I shrugged. Got in the city at least.

An Orc in the Jarl's court.

In Whiterun, I took my time a bit. I stopped at the nearby blacksmith and managed to sell a few things I'd *ahem* found along the way from Helgen. Took a moment to brush up on some blacksmithing of my own... boring stuff like that. A few people seemed to notice me as a new face and made requests of me to find this or that. I paid them no mind. I headed to the inn and ordered an ale. I must have drunk a little too much, because the next thing I remember, I'm stumbling up the steps toward Dragonsreach, the castle of the Jarl here in Whiterun. One of the guards (they all look the same to me...) recognized me from earlier and, I suppose, mistook my presence as my coming to the Jarl for that whole report on the dragon situation and he guided me in.

The Jarl looked me up and down, "You say you have news of the dragon attack?"

I looked around. All eyes were on me. What was just a moment ago the sounds of several people in deep conversation silenced and I cleared my throat.

"Er... yes. I... saw... the dragon. At Helgen."

The Jarl looked at me, "And? Is it attacking other cities? Is Helgen lost?"

"I, uh, think Helgen is... pretty much dead now."

A lot of talking started happening then, between the Jarl, his Thane (some tough looking elf woman), his Stewerd, and some others. I tried shaking the befuddlement from my head to pay attention. How many ales did I have?

At some point, the Jarl was looking at me again, and I blinked a couple times to try to pay attention. He was talking, "There may be something you can do for me. My court wizard has a task that needs doing that should help us understand this dragon threat."

A few minutes later and I was sent out with a pat on the back and a quest... bring back the Dragon Stone from some old Nord ruins to the south. As I stumbled down the stairs back to the inn, I retched over the side of the railing into the rapid moving waters that ran to the city central plaza. I tossed a few of my precious gold coins to the inn keeper and fell into bed. This Dragon Stone thing can at least wait until morning...


Looks like I can't just keep adding to my thread as they don't allow me to post more then twice in a row. So maybe I'll need to do separate posts afterall... or just keep adding to this one!


A slight detour...

I stuck around in Whiterun for a few days. Joined the Companions. Seemed like a good way for someone of my skillset to make some coin without resorting to outright banditry. Which, let's face it, I might still do. They just had me running a few errands at first anyway. The guards started giving me looks though, as if they were instructed to keep tabs on me to ensure I did what the Jarl ordered. Again, I didn't want to draw too much attention, so I decided I'd better get on that task.

To Bleak Falls Barrow.

I headed south to Bleak Falls Barrow and made my way through its depths. Long story short, this place was chock full of Nord zombies and spiders, but I eventually made it to the main chamber. Then a strange thing happened... this large stone mural seemed to penetrate my thoughts with this chanting or drumming or something. I found myself getting closer to it, my vision darkening...

Deep in the bowels of the mountains.

The sound of the tomb behind me opening up snapped me out of it. After dispatching that zombie, I actually found that he held the Dragon Stone just like that wizard said he would! Guess those wizards know a thing or two afterall.

I left the cavern, going through a back exit behind the mural. I found myself on the opposite side of the mountain, facing the lake. A small settlement could be seen on the other side, so I thought I'd get some rest there. I carefully swam across the narrow portion of the lake and made my way into the inn. The place was called Oakwood and it seemed deserted.

From the mountain cave to Oakwood.

Seemed being the operative word, as as soon as I stuck a few steel bars in my bandolier pouch, a firm hand grabbed my shoulder and spun me around.

"Halt, thief!"

Drat... The guard who seemingly came out of nowhere hauled me down to their headquarters in Falkreath before I agreed to pay my fine. They also confiscated any stolen goods I had on me, including my shield. I swore up and down that shield was rightfully mine, but they wouldn't have it. Luckily the Dragon Stone didn't look all that valuable or else they'd be claiming to take it to its rightful owners as well, I'd wager.

Released in Falkreath.

Finally released, I stood in the streets of Falkreath wondering what to do next...

Mods Referenced:

Towns and Villages Enhanced: Falkreath

Bandolier - Bags and Pouches

Places: Oakwood -Hearthfire Edition-

It's a Dog's Life

I'd barely walked down the street of Falkreath when a man stopped me.

"Hey, you see a dog roaming around out there?"

I stopped and glared at him, "What?"

If he noticed my attitude, he didn't act like it, "Yeah, some dog roaming around outside of town. I think he looks like a good companion dog. I can't leave the shop here, but if I give you some meat to bait him with, think you can bring me that dog?"

I was about to tell him to shove off, when my empty shield arm tingled a bit to remind me of its loss. "Depends," I finally said. "What's in it for me?"

He nodded, "Smart man to ask for something up front. Here's some gold and the bait. More gold after I get my dog."

Hmmph. Get caught stealing some lousy iron bricks and end up fetching some mutt for a shop keeper. Still, gold is gold. I walked out of town towards the west when low and behold, a dog cam trotting up right to me. This is going to be easy money.

"Man, are you just the kind of guy I've been lookin' for!"

Yes, I told myself. The dog just talked.

"Skyrim is now host to giant, flying lizards and two-legged cat-men, and you're surprised by me? Yes. I just talked. And am continuing to do so."

And you read my mind. Delightful.

So, this crazy demon dog is apparantly named Barbus and he wants me to return him to his master. I guess the shop keeper is out of luck. And I'm out of that extra gold, I suppose. Barbus quickly begins leading me off to the north east, around Falkreath and back through the now ruins of Helgen. It didn't take long for that place to become a bandit ambush site. Gotta give Barbus credit though... that dog can fight. It managed to take down three bandits all on his own while I was tied up with their leader.

It took all night, but eventually we made it to a cave in the snowy mountains. Inside we found what appeared to be an entire coven of vampires. This demon dog is gonna lead me right to my death! Eventually we clear the cave of all its undead denizens. At the heart of the cavern was a huge shrine to a Deadric prince by the name of Clavicus Vile... had I known that this demon dog was actually a demon, I might have had second thoughts about this journey. Barbus insisted I speak to Vile through the shrine, but to be cautious in dealing with him.

I felt a bit the fool speaking to the statue, but to my surprise, it spoke back... a powerful voice that seemed to fill the cave. It agreed to take Barbus back as his pet on one condition... I bring him the Rueful Axe.

"And where might this axe be?"

The map in my pocket twitched. I unfurled it to see a new location had been added.... all the way in the most northwesternly corner of Skyrim!

Sensing my feelings on the matter, Barbus reminded me that he would go with me. Having an invincible demonic dog chomping at my enemies might make the trip much easier, for sure. And seeing as I didn't want to piss off a Deadric prince...

A Demon Magnet

Following Barbus.

I sighed as I stared at Barbus, who was apparently reverting to a "normal" dog shtick and not talking any more unless I specifically asked him to. Which I didn't plan on doing. I glanced back at the statue of Vile, uneasily silent now.

"Well, we have a long way to go, so we'd best get to it." I told no one in particular.

We left the cavern and began making our way back toward the ruins of Helgen. Suddenly a blast of fire seared the earth in front of me, and I readied my crossbow. "What the..."

Witches! Maybe they were coming after me about that Anise thing, but if it was a fight they were looking for, they were going to get a good one now that I had an immortal demon dog at my side! "Sic 'em, Barbus!" I shouted as I struck one witch down with a well placed bolt to the throat. Another fireball hit me square in the side, and I quickly swallowed the contents of a Resist Magicka potion to help withstand the energy that was flying all over. I rushed over a fallen tree that was serving as a bridge to another section of the mountain and found the disgusting Hagraven who seemed to run this little coven. Barbus didn't hesitate as he took a spindly arm between his jaws, and I again made good use of my axe.

Searching through the tent the Hagraven was shacked up in, I found a chest with a few interesting items. First was a dagger that I recognized as Nettlebane, one of the items that a woman in Whiterun has requested I fetch. Hadn't really planned on doing it, to be honest, but well, maybe I'll be getting that reward after all. The second item that caught my eye was a large white crystal. The moment I picked it up, however, a loud woman's voice blasted my ear drums!

"So another hand has touched my beacon! Warrior, I demand you return my beacon to my shrine!"

Another demon? Seriously? What am I, a demon attracting orc? The voice made a few more grand demands before fading away. I glanced at Barbus who didn't seem to pay much attention as he lay down panting after our fight with the coven of witches. If the dog didn't notice yet another Deadric Prince... or princess, I guess... try to get me to do something, I wasn't going to bring it up.

The rest of the trip through Helgen, Riverwood, and up to Whiterun was uneventful. I made a pit stop with the Companions who had another task for me. It was along the way to the west, so I agreed. But hopefully they didn't mind it waiting another day. I made my normal stop at the inn, tossed some of my growing coin collection to the innkeeper, grabbed an ale or three, and secluded myself in my room the rest of the night.

Back to Whiterun from Vile's shrine.

Wait... what?

I was rummaging through my bag, looking for more junk to sell to Belethor at his shop when I found... the Dragon Stone! Oh yeah... I'd better get this to the Jarl so I can stop lugging this big brick around.

As I approached the court wizard to hand it over, I noticed him speaking to a hooded woman. She looked familiar but I couldn't quite place her. She soon left just as a soldier came rushing into the room, "Dragon!"

The Jarl's eyes grew wide, "What?"

A dragon was attacking one of the watchtowers not far from Whiterun! I was about to slink away during the hustle and bustle of the commotion, when the Jarl clapped me on the arm, "You have seen these things before. You're the closest thing we have to a true dragon expert!"

I gaped at what the Jarl was saying in disbelief... sure enough, I was soon trotting through the streets of Whiterun with a detachment of city guards, most likely heading to all of our collective deaths. Didn't the Jarl realize the last time I encountered a dragon, I was running away!?