Aedric the Hunter - Chapter 10: Journey to Solitude

  • 26th of Last Seed 4E201

    The Sleeping Giant Inn was mostly deserted by daybreak, and with Orgnar’s permission I made some potions and poisons from the reagents I’d gathered. Most notably I discovered a mixture that improves my eyesight, allowing me to place my shots more accurately, a different mixture from Hrefna’s that improved my ability to use greatswords, and a mixture that made me more difficult to see and hear. I used many of the Nirnroots and Luna Moth Wings in conjunction with Chaurus Eggs to make quite a number of invisibility potions, which would no doubt be useful in the coming days. I’d opted to head up to Solitude – Mercer didn’t tell me he wanted me to do the next job immediately; he didn’t even say if he actually had one. That was a good enough reason for me to be able to stay away from him for the time being. Before leaving Riverwood, I approached Alvor at the forge. “What can I do for you this fine day, Aedric?” he asked. “I’ve amassed quite a collection of animal pelts since I left Riverwood. I was wondering if you’d like to buy some off me.” I pulled the collection from my back. “My, that is quite a haul. How about 500 gold for the lot, and I’ll teach you some more smithing techniques while you’re here.” I was eager to learn more, after how much help the elven smithing techniques had been. He taught me the general fundamentals of making and improving metallic bows, something I wasn’t familiar with at all. I’d never even used one. He also showed me how to improve magical items, using my Thieves Guild outfit as an example. It was a tricky process to add material to the piece and having the enchantment also encompass the new parts, but I got the hang of it. My new armour was much tougher, and should be more resilient against physical attacks, while still maintaining the enchantments on them. Before I left, I asked if he had an Elven bow I could purchase. “Unfortunately, no. Most of the things I make here myself, and I simply haven’t gotten any Moonstone nor Quicksilver for quite some time. Whiterun might have one, perhaps you could check there.” I had to go past Whiterun to get to Solitude anyhow. “Well Alvor, thanks for the tips today. I’m off to Solitude to join the Legion and perform my final trial for the Greybeards.” “Delphine was up that way only a few days ago. Strange. Well, Talos guide you, Aedric!”

    I reached Whiterun without incident, and stabled my horse outside the city. I first went and sold of many of the less useful potions and poisons to Arcadia, the alchemist. She seemed appreciative of the new stock, but I could tell that she was less than impressed at the quality. I wouldn’t be surprised if I could start getting lessons from Hrefna soon. I then checked with Belethor and Adrianne if either of them had an Elven Bow for sale – neither of them did, nor did they have any Quicksilver to sell. With my hope waning in my quest to find this bow, I went lastly into the Drunken Huntsman. And there it was. A beautiful piece of craftsmanship, a golden bow in a recurve design, engraved with designs of hawks. The Bosmer shopkeeper seemed to notice my interest in the weapon. “Just got this in a few hours ago. Quite the piece.” Not taking my eyes off it I inquired, “How much gold do you want?” “It’s yours for a tidy 1500 septims.” It would’ve cost less than half the amount to make it myself, but I couldn’t resist the offer. I had the money to spare and I wasn’t saving it for anything in particular. “You’ve got yourself a deal, elf.” As he took the weapon off the rack I took the coins from my pack and placed them on the counter. “Thank you for your business, Dragonborn.” It seemed everyone knew me as the Dragonborn now. I think I might’ve just preferred Aedric but inside the fame was really growing on me. After improving the bow using a technique Alvor taught me, which involved strengthening the inside curve of the bow, I set off for Solitude to the NW on my steed.

    My first encounter of the journey was just past the Western Watchtower, where I battled the dragon a few days ago. A Dunmer woman in leathers jumped out of the grass to the side of the road. She drew two daggers from her belt and stopped in front of me. “Hand over your valuables, or I’ll gut you like a fish!” I recognised her. She was a member of the Thieves Guild; I’d seen her on my first night in the Cistern. “Whoa, sister. Slow down; I’m with the Guild too!” I pointed out the insignia on my armour. “Oh! You’re the new recruit! I didn’t recognise you at first.” I didn’t blame her – a man travelling alone with two fine elven weapons, and saddlebags full to the brim was a hard target to resist for anyone. “Well I’ll leave you to it, brother. Good hunting!” She skulked back off into the undergrowth, where she was nearly invisible to the untrained or unfocused eye.

    As I crossed a bridge over one of the streams that fed into the White River, I spotted an Orc sitting among a pile of dead sabre cats. He rose and stopped me as I passed. “Hail, Nord. Would you be kind enough to grant me a good death? I came out here looking to die fighting, but death has not found me yet.” He was still huge and muscular, although I could tell he was beginning to decline into old age. I had alot of respect for the Orcs, although some of their customs were... odd. “It would be my honour, Orsimer.” “Are you sure? I am quite a capable warrior, and I do not want to press you into your own death.” “I am sure. I will give you a good death, Orc. I will fight with blade and bow alone.” I didn’t want to tarnish the Orc’s death with shouts, magic or poison. We backed away from each other until we were about 25 metres apart. I drew my bow and nocked an arrow, and nodded to the Orc. With a terrifying war cry, he drew his Orcish mace and began to charge. Even though he was wearing light fur armour, arrow after arrow didn’t slow him down. I ducked under his first blow, and fired a fourth shot before drawing my sword. We squared off for a few seconds, before with another furious cry the Orc flew back into combat, weaving a wall of death in front of him. I barely managed to stay out of reach. I feinted my blade at chest height, but quickly changed the direction and score a hit on the Orc’s ankle. I scored another few hits before he retaliated, as the arrows protruding from his chest were an obstruction to his shield, unable to defend properly. It was disconcerting that Orc saw the arrows as nuisances rather than wounds, as he let out another roar and continued fighting. He managed to strike me several times, but the improved armour cushioned the blows. Another few slashes at his defense seemed to finally bring pain, and I took the opportunity to make a sweeping back cut along the Orc’s torso. He finally fell to the ground on his back, bleeding from 4 arrow impacts and over a dozen strikes – and the fur armour did little to protect him. He was one of the toughest humanoid fighters I’d ever seen. As I strode over to him and positioned my blade above his heart, he coughed up some blood and spoke. “Th-thank you, Nord. May you always strike true.” I thrust my blade into his chest, and lay the Orc up against a rock, placing his weapon and shield in his hands upon his chest.
    I was honoured to have granted such a great warrior his final wish.

    I crossed the rest of the plain west of Whiterun with no further encounters. It was beautiful scenery, but I was careful to take a wide berth around the Giant camps. As I approached the crossing to another river, I spotted a walled bandit camp across the road. There were two sections, linked by a bridge above the road with small battlements on each end. I tied my horse to a tree, out of sight, and advanced for a closer look. There was one man on either end of the bridge, but I couldn’t tell how many others would be in the camp. I fired two arrows in rapid succession at the man on the left and he fell dead. The other stood halfway across the bridge, staring at his body. His whole body was out in the open after leaving the cover of the battlement, and I shot him in the chest, throwing him from the bridge. I advanced into the camp through the shadows, as the others had heard the man fall from the bridge, and they would be searching for me. Standing at the edge of the bridge, I spotted a mage, a heavily armed and armoured bandit, and another bandit wearing full steel plate armor. The one in steel plate began giving orders to the others as I crept into cover. The mage came down towards me and I slowly drew my bow and fired a shot between the eyes, killing him instantly. The heavily armoured bandit drew his wicked looking sword of Orcish make, and advanced towards me slowly, shield raised. I drew in my breath and shouted. “WUL!” The wind carried me past him, and with his vision obscured by his round shield he didn’t seem to notice. I got in several devastating strikes from behind before he turned, and finished him off with an overhead slash. I clambered up the rocks to the battlements, with the chief on the opposite side of the bridge. I drew my bow again, dipping the arrow in a poison I made from Deathbell and River Betty, which was a potent venom which both poisoned and slowed the recipient. As the chief forced his unwilling legs to move in the heavy plate armor, I knocked him back with a pommel strike, then shouted again. “FUS RO!” The wave of force was noticeably more powerful, sending him back and onto his knees. He lost his footing on the narrow bridge, and tumbled over the edge – just as I had intended. I pulled one of the levers on the battlements, and he was crushed under his own rock trap. The trapdoor in the chief’s hut was locked, and I didn’t want to go digging through the boulders to find a key. I retrieved my horse and continued northward.

    Before long I came upon some other travellers on the road. They were wearing a sort of fine golden armor, and I rode up to them. “Hail, travellers! How goes it on this fine-” The rear man turned around. “You’re interfering with official Thalmor business. Leave immediately, Nord, or we will be forced to kill you.” I was quite taken aback – last time I checked the Thalmor didn’t openly roam the roads of Skyrim. Or maybe it was just that I was used to living in Stormcloak territory. Either way, as I dropped back I saw another Nord man in bounds between them. As he looked at me, the second Thalmor soldier hit him in the back and barked something at him, and the group continued walking. I studied the group of Thalmor – there was a mage in the distinctive ebony coloured and gold-trimmed robes at the front, the prisoner, and two lightly armoured soldiers heading up the rear, neither of which had shields. This was going to be easy. I fired a shot, hitting the rear soldier in the back of the head, killing him instantly. The second spotted me straight away in the broad daylight, but I took him down with 4 arrows before he could strike me. The mage had a fireball charged in one hand and a lightning bolt in the other, and the prisoner had taken cover behind a rock. The magical barrier of the mage was no match for my flight of arrows, as I sidestepped the bolts of fire and lightning thrown at me. I strode over to her as she dropped to her knees and tried to crawl away, executing her with a single shot to the back of the head. I went over to the prisoner and cut his bounds. “Thank you, traveller! If you know any true sons and daughters of Skyrim, tell them to head to Windhelm; Ulfric Stormcloak wants to see them!” He grabbed one of the swords off the dead Thalmor and ran back to the east. I was all for Ulfric’s cause, but his methods didn’t seem to make much sense – he was only creating a short term solution. With a unified Empire the Thalmor might be defeated once and for all, and then the Stormcloaks could worship Talos in peace – not simply create more division for the Thalmor to take advantage of. Not too far further along the road I encountered another group of Thalmor, these ones with no prisoner. How far had these elven scum encroached on the Empire’s territory? There was only one thing to do, and I charged them with my greatsword, cutting the two soldiers down with ease and advancing on the mage. He’d foolishly backed himself into a rock wall, and after a quick flurry of strikes an opportunity presented itself. Never had I felt such hatred towards a foe other than the Thalmor, and I raised my sword to head height and decapitated him. It was the first time I’d done that – a gruesome sight to be sure but it sure felt good to see him taken down a notch.

    I re-mounted my horse for the last time today and headed to Solitude. I could see the city in the distance; it was quite a sight. There were several large ships down at the dock, which was sheltered by a huge natural bridge on top of which the city was built. The city itself was a massive walled structure, and with only one way into the city it looked nearly impervious to attack. No wonder the Legion had chosen it as their base in Skyrim.

    It was dark when I stabled my horse outside the city, and I asked one of the guards where to join up with the Legion. Apparently the Empire had a castle of their own within the city, where they conducted war business. The gargantuan iron gates were opened before me, and I headed up to Castle Dour. The guards allowed me entry, where the General Tullius was arguing with a female officer I hadn’t seen before. Apparently Ulfric was planning an attack on Whiterun, and Jarl Balgruuf wasn’t accepting the Legion’s offer of aid to garrison troops in the city. It appeared that Balgruuf was being a typical stubborn Nord of Skyrim – not wanting to accept help from anyone. He dismissed the officer and approached me. “Are my men now giving free rein to anyone who wanders into the castle? Do you have some reason to be here?” “I think we’ve already met; I was at Helgen.” “Oh, of course. You were one of the prisoners.” “Yes, I helped Hadvar escape. He said he’d vouch for me.” “Well he’s out on assignment for at least another day, so he can’t exactly confirm your story. Why don’t you have a chat with Legate Rikke in the meantime. We could use someone as resourceful as you -  I’m sure your imprisonment was all a terrible misunderstanding.” He dismissed me and I approached the female officer I now knew as Legate Rikke. “I overheard your chat with the General. Not many survived Helgen – and I’ve got a good feeling about you. I don’t often get good feelings about anyone, but a warrior learns to trust her gut. We’re not going to go through the normal process. I’ve got a little test lined up – pass that, and we can talk about you joining the Legion.” I didn’t think it would be the best idea to bring up my deserting past – they probably thought I was dead along with the rest of the defenders of the Imperial City, and deserting the Legion usually ended badly. “I can handle whatever you throw at me, Legate.” “Is that confidence or bravado I hear? Confidence I can use. Bravado gets soldiers killed.” To be honest I think it was a bit of both. “I’m sending you to clear out Fort Hraggstad. If you survive, you pass.” “What’s at Fort Hraggstad?” I didn’t like the sound of this. “There’s a bit of a bandit problem there. You just need to clear out the bandits so we can garrison the fort.” “Consider it already yours, Legate.” “Good, that’s what I want to hear. Now go make it happen.”

    It’d been an exhausting day of travelling and fighting, and I made my way to Solitude’s inn, the Winking Skeever for the night. I’d no stomach for rumours – what I needed was a good meal, some mead, and a good nights rest. The room was quite luxurious, with a double bed, desk, wardrobe and quite a library of books. But I was tired, and there was plenty for me to do in the coming days, all of it important work. I dozed into a dreamless sleep before I could think further on it.

    There's quite alot to do in and around Solitude but what should Aedric do first?

    1. Explore the city, and help the people
    2. Clear out Fort Hraggstad and explore Ustengrav
    3. Other

    Let me know in the comments!

    Next chapter is up, read it here

    Also, a PDF version of the first 10 chapters in a book format has been added to the contents page here, I had to upload it to MediaFire since I couldn't compress it below 5 MB.


  • Ponty
    Ponty   ·  February 8, 2012
    Finally, some division in the comments! I'll go around town and pick up some quests, see what I find along the way!
  • Kynareth
    Kynareth   ·  February 7, 2012
    Wow, I really liked your description of the battle with the Orc.  You retained the sense of nobility in the battle while giving much insight into the Orcish mentality.  Ponty, you also make everyday events such as bartering with merchants or mixing potion...  more
  • Guy Corbett
    Guy Corbett   ·  February 7, 2012
    Another top post Ponty. I like that he's getting a taste for fame should be interesting. The immediate slaying of the Thalmor was a nice touch as well. I think it should be other. May be stumble across the nearby stormcloak camp? Or get bogged down in the...  more