Part Four- Errand Girl Once More
I walk along the stone path quickly. As I round the first bend, I can see what I assume is Whiterun in the distance. I hear some twigs break ahead to my left, so I draw my sword and prepare myself for a fight. Two wolves come racing down the steep hill, coming right for me.
I swing wildly with my right, my left raised to deflect any lunges. I drive my blade into the neck of the first as the other bites at my thigh. I have to use my foot to remove my sword from the dead wolf, wasting time as the other starts wearing on my armor.
When my blade is free, I sheath it quickly and run as fast I can for the nearest tree. I scurry up the branches, out of reach of the wolf. I draw my bow, firing three arrows in rapid succession, all sinking into various body parts of the wolf below. It drops, and I wait a moment or two longer to make sure it’s dead.
I climb down slowly, my muscles aching after the long day, my chest heaving with exertion. I remove my arrows from the wolf’s prone body and replace them into my quiver. I return my bow to my back and continue on down the winding path.
The sun continues slowly sinking in the sky, the heat raising a fine sheen of sweat on my skin. I’m eager to settle in at the inn and strip out of my armor. It feels like ages since I’ve slept comfortably in a bed.
I come across a signpost that tells me I’m headed in the right direction, so I remain on the path. Ahead of me, I see a group of three Imperials with a bound man being shoved around between them. I feel bile rise in my throat. I consider hiding and trying to take them out, but I know it’ll be futile. I can’t take on three heavily armored and weaponed men. I move to the other side of the path and keep my head down. I hear their footsteps coming nearer and my heart rate speeds up when I hear the one in the lead draw his blade. “Citizen, this is official Imperial business.”
I look up and see they’ve come to a standstill, all with their swords drawn, waiting for me to make a move at them. I raise my hands up in surrender and edge my way around, doing my best to ignore the pleading looks the prisoner is sending my way. I continue past them, able to breathe easier when I look back and see that they’re continuing along the path with their weapons sheathed.
I follow another bend in the path, able to see abundant farmland and buildings ahead of me. I come along two small buildings and read the sign, seeing a little beehive with flowers around it. Above it the words Honningbrew Meadery are written. I consider going inside for a drink, but I hear a commotion up ahead.
In the distance, there’s a group of people, weapons drawn, fighting a giant. I quickly pull out my bow and break into a sprint. Once close enough, I stand on a low wall and begin firing arrows carefully to make sure I only hit the giant. With teamwork, minutes later, the giant falls. I return my bow to my back and step off the wall, planning to get back on the path.
A redheaded woman with green stripes of paint on her face pops into view. “You fight well. You’d make for a decent Shield-Sister.”
“Shield-sister?” I ask, eyebrows raised as I observed her Ancient Nord Armor. I’d seen armor like that in books before, always thinking how cool it was.
The woman introduces herself as Aela the Huntress, a Companion. She explains to me who the Companions are, and that they live at Jorrvaskr in Whiterun. “Talk to Kodlak Whitemane.” She said, before walking back to join her Shield-Siblings as they pillage the giant. I smile at her friendliness and continue on my way up the path.
I feel energized after the fight, and I walk more quickly toward Whiterun. I pass the stables and a Khajiit Caravan on the way up the path. Moments later I find myself at the gates of Whiterun.
I walk toward the doors, but the guards stop me. “Halt there. Cities closed to outsiders. State your business.”
“Gerdur from Riverwood sent me. I have information about the dragons.” I try to persuade. The guards look me over for a few moments. I really don’t have ‘information’ per say, but they don’t need to know that.
“Fine.” The guard says, unlocking the gate for me. I step inside the city. The guards close the gate behind me. Inside, I’m greeted by the site of close knit buildings and houses. There’s Warmaiden’s to my right and The Drunken Huntsman to my left. I see a market square up ahead, so I make my way toward it. I spot The Bannered Mare, which is the inn, and I feel my fatigue again. It’d be so easy, just to go there and rest now, but I’m determined to talk to the Jarl tonight.
I spot more of the stores Gerdur told me about, like Arcadia’s Cauldron and Belethor’s General Goods. I make a note to stop by each store tomorrow, to sell off some of my wares, and browse their supplies to see if there’s anything I need.
“Excuse me,” I say to a pale woman with red hair. Her blue dress is tattered, an apron tied loosely around her waist. She regards me with a smile, which helps me feel more at ease. It appears that people here are friendly. “Can you tell me where to find the Jarl?”
“Sure,” The woman says, pointing at a huge edifice at the very top of Whiterun. “That’s Dragonsreach. You’ll find Jarl Balgruuf there. I’m Ysolda, by the way.” She smiles at me again and I thank her before heading up a set of stairs.
“Excuse me,” A dark man in nice clothing stops me. “Do you get to the Cloud District often? Oh, what am I saying, of course you don’t.” Then he continues down the stairs, leaving me frowning. Okay, maybe not everyone here is friendly. What’s the Cloud District, anyway? I shrug and continue up the stairs, reaching a beautiful tree that looks like it’s seen better days.
I soak in my surroundings as I walk around the tree. This is one of the nicest towns I’ve seen before. Excluding my crappy first impression, I really enjoy Skyrim. It’s beauty is beyond anything I’ve ever seen before. I notice Jorrvaskr, the home of the Companions. I root around in my stuff and pull out a notebook, making a note to talk to Kodlak when I get the chance. I had a notebook in my old stuff, where I wrote down all my missions, but it was amongst the things the Imperials took from me.
I walk up the stairs to Dragonsreach.
I push open the immense doors, finding a huge room with a high ceiling before me. I spot the throne from where I’m standing and begin approaching. There’s a fire pit in the middle of the room, with two long tables at it’s flanks. Mesmerized by the room, I don’t notice the dark elf approaching me with her sword drawn.
I step back, startled. She asks me what my business is, and I tell her the same thing I told the gate guards. “Well that explains why the guards let you in.” She says, then Jarl Balgruuf calls out to her from his throne. Irileth, apparently. She appears very threatening, and I’m not sure how to feel about her.
Irileth backs off, sheathing her sword, and moves back to stand near the throne. I approach, standing on the small set of steps that lead to the throne. There are two men standing there as well, one in armor and one in nice robes.
The Jarl lounges in his throne, elbow leaning on the arm of the chair. “Irileth tells me you were at Helgen.”
I tell him the entire story of Helgen, along with the beheadings and the dragon. This spirals into an outraged conversation between the two men standing near the Jarl. I gather that the man in the expensive robes is Proventus, and the one in the armor is Hrongar. I stand silently as they all bicker.
Finally, the Jarl turns back to me. He’s got red hair, pulled intricately back from his face and held by a gold circlet. He seems like a benevolent and fair ruler, I knew I liked him almost instantly.
After telling me he’ll send guards to Riverwood at once, Jarl Balgruuf stands up, leading me down the stairs to the right. “My court wizard had been looking for someone to get something for him, I think you’ll be good for the job.”
I nod as I follow, even though he can’t see me. This I can deal with, being given jobs to do. It’s much easier to fetch things than it is to join wars and deal with dragons.
Jarl Balgruuf introduces me to Farengar Secret-Fire. The wizard is dressed in blue mage robes, his hood pulled down just above his eyes. He looks snobbily down his nose at me at first, but as the Jarl explains I’m just there to be an errand girl, he changes his tune.
“Where am I going, and what am I fetching?” I ask.
“Straight to the point, eh? I like that.” He asks me to pull out my map, so I do so. Just southwest of Riverwood, he points to a landmark labeled Bleak Falls Barrow. He tells me that I’m looking for an old stone tablet, and that I’ll know it when I see it.
“I’ll set out first thing tomorrow.” I tell him and he bids me goodnight. I find my way easily out of Dragonsreach, back to The Bannered Mare. Night has fallen and the town is lit by the beautifully large moon, lanterns, and some guards carrying torches. Very few people remain, having packed up their shops and stalls for the night. I enter the inn.
It is mellow inside, softly lit, with people sitting around the fire and at tables, happy with drink. I find my way to the counter and tell the bar maiden I’d like a room.
“Saadia, show this lady to her room.” The bar maiden calls out after I pay her and a pretty redguard comes over to me.
“Right this way.” I follow her to the upstairs level of the inn, to a small room that contains a bed, a chest, a dresser, and a table with chairs. “Would you like anything else?”
That’s the first moment that I realize I’m absolutely starving. The last thing I remember eating was a sweet roll for breakfast back in Bruma, but that can’t be right. I order as much food as I can afford, plus a bottle of mead. Saadia writes down everything I request, telling me she’ll be back shortly.
I take a deep breath, happy to be alone and safe for the first time today. I sit down on the bed and remove my boots carefully, rubbing the soles of my tired feet. I put my boots away in the chest and proceed to strip off my armor, placing that in the chest as well.
I spot a wash basin in one corner of the room, so I take the opportunity to clean away any caked on blood, sanitizing my wounds the best I can. I scrub at my face harshly with provided cloth, then I make a feeble attempt at washing my hair, which is also caked with blood, dirt, and gods know what else.
I look in the dresser, finding a tunic and roughspun pants. It makes me think of my hectic morning, but I pull it on nonetheless. Moments later there’s a knock at my door and Saadia is there with a huge tray of food and mead. I politely take the tray from her and wish her a goodnight, which she returns kindly before heading back down the stairs.
I set my tray down on the table and sit, stomach rumbling loudly. I pop open the bottle of mead and start to chow down.
I spot a book on the nightstand, so I go over and grab it, figuring I’ll do some light reading before bed. I set the book, The Red Book of Riddles, in front of me and read through the riddles as I eat. I’ve always enjoyed gathering books throughout my travels when I was in Cyrodiil, but I always had to sell them off when I was done with them. Books take up a lot of room, but it was easy to read through them quickly, considering that was basically the only thing I ever did in my free time.
When I finish with my food, I clean up as well as I can, finish off the mead, and return scraps to the tray to bring downstairs in the morning. I move to the bed, book in hand. After finishing one more riddle, I set the book back on the night stand and lay there staring up at the ceiling.
I run through the events of the day in my mind, hardly able to believe it. To think of how close I’d come to having my head cut off, how close I’d come to being killed by a dragon, was crazy. In a way, it was thrilling. I’ve had more excitement today in Skyrim than I’ve had in my entire life. Maybe staying in Skyrim wouldn’t be so bad after all.
I fall asleep with thoughts of writing a letter to my parents.