Aedric the Hunter - Chapter 15: Blood, Journeys and Mead

  • 1st Hearth Fire 4E201

    Windhelm. A stark and dreary city at the best of times, and this one wasn’t exactly good. After a fairly average night on the straw mattress in Candlehearth Hall, I grabbed a quick breakfast of bread and cheese before setting off to the marketplace. I spent the better part of the morning at the smithy and alchemy shops. The two smiths seemed to be avid fans of Ulfric’s little uprising, and I made sure to sell all my creations to the female Altmer running the general goods stall nearby – I doubted she was much of a Stormcloak and the more equipment out of their hands, the better. Rather foolishly, the smith agreed to sell me all his leather and iron – a decision I’m not sure he thought through. It was around 10am when I finished with my work outside, and entered the alchemists’ shop. A very old Altmer man was arguing with his far younger Imperial assistant, about something called “The White Phial”.  The Altmer man was clearly very sick, but wanted to go in search of this Phial. He shooed away his assistant and turned to me. “What do you want?” he demanded. “You Nords only ever cause trouble around here!” “Begging your pardon, sir,” I replied, “I’m just here to work on my craft, perhaps see if you’re interested in anything I create.” “Fine! But don’t break anything!” he spluttered, staggering up the stairs. I didn’t discover anything particularly useful, mostly odd concoctions with both positive and negative effects. The assistant must have noticed my frustration and offered to pay me quite a sum for some of the potions. We introduced ourselves – his name was Quintus. Apparently he could study them to find a way to distil out the harmful or helpful effects. He paid quite a hefty sum for the batch – something I was glad for. I’d thought many were beyond useless – a potion that restores Magicka and damages it at the same time, a poison that increases the potency of spells while simultaneously preventing Magicka regeneration, that sort of thing. Before I left the alchemist came back down and introduced himself as Nurelion. He told me a story about his life’s work in trying to find this “White Phial” – a mysterious artefact he’d been searching for his entire life. And an Altmer’s life was hundreds of years long! Apparently he’d discovered it was entombed in a barrow here in Skyrim, and he thought he knew which one. He gave me a potion he said I’d need – but didn’t say how I’d need to use it – and sent me on my way.

    I exited the city around 11am to be greeted by light snow – and much to my surprise – an armoured Nord brandishing an enchanted greatsword at me.  “I’m here to teach you a lesson,” he said. “Do you really think you can take me? Or did whoever hired you neglect to mention I’m the Dragonborn?” “I don’t care who you think you are – I’m being paid alot of gold and I’ve come a long way to destroy you. Prepare to die!” A boot to the stomach gave me enough room to draw my sword. I evaded a swing and struck at the mercenary, who manoeuvred to catch the blow on his steel armor. We both went for overhead swings and locked blades mid-strike. Nord steel clashed against elven metal with a loud clang, and sparks danced from the other man’s blade down mine. He pressed me back as I was shaken by the electrical assault. Pivoting on my heel I quickly pulled my blade from underneath the other, the Nord staggering forward as his blade hit the stone bridge we were standing on. I landed a strike, and another, as he regained his senses and threw a deadly but careless blow at my neck. Dodging under it I stepped back with a spinning slash, staggering him back yet again.  A overhead cut glanced off his left pauldron as he got back on his feet, preparing to face me again. “FUS!” I shouted, sending him back for the last time, and I pushed my blade through his chestplate into his heart. The guards just shrugged at me as I searched the body for a note of some kind. Sure enough, I found what I was looking for as well as 250 gold. As I strode down to the stables I heard one of the mutter, “Didn’t our boys at Korvanjund say that the Dragonborn joined the Imperials?” “Crap! Raise the alarm!” the other replied. I broke into a run as I made for my steed, and vanished into the snow before they could fire on me.

    I’d decided to head back to Riften for more Thieves Guild work while I wait for Delphine to devise her plan. The journey back across the Aalto passed without incident – no animal attacks, no bandits on the side of the road, no angry giants, not even a single dragon. I trotted along at a slow pace, taking in the strange Eastmarch landscape of hot springs. My tranquillity was broken however as I exited onto the road into the Rift. “Hand over your gold or I’ll cut it from you!” said a reptilian voice to my right. A hooded Argonian in Guild leathers stood before me, waving a dagger at me. He noticed the Thieves Guild insignia on my armor, and sheathed his weapon. “You’re Aedric, aren’t you?” I nodded. “You’d better get back to the Cistern. Mercer wants to see you.” “What about?” I inquired. “Don’t know, but my ‘see’ I mean he’s furious at you. You’d better get going.” “I should. Good journeys to you, brother!” With a salute I spurred my steed up the road towards Riften, and soon stopped over in Shor’s Stone for my midday meal. As much as I wanted to spend a hour or two with Sylgja, I decided to eat alone since it sounded like Mercer wouldn’t be happy if I tarried much longer. The brief meal of dried meats and bread would sustain me for the rest of the day, and I continued south along the road to Riften.

    After stabling my horse outside, I headed straight to the Cistern entrance behind Mistveil Keep and descended into the Ratway.Brynjolf greeted me inside, with a curt greeting. “Afternoon, lad. You’ll want to go and speak with Mercer immediately – he’s been looking for you for days!” With a quick nod I jogged over to Mercer’s desk and was met by an angry gaze from the man. “Where the hell have you been, Aedric!? When I said ‘come back when you’re ready for more work’ I didn’t mean ‘take a round trip of Skyrim and come back in a week or so’! Go and speak with Maven Black-Briar right away – she’s asked for you by name after what happened at Goldenglow. Now get our of my sight!” It seemed he’d neglected to tell me where I could find the woman. “Where-” “Go. NOW. I won’t tell you again.” I quickly asked Brynjolf where she was before leaving the Cistern. “I saw her earlier in the Bee and Barb. Better not keep her waiting.”

    Sure enough, I found Maven waiting for me on the upper floor, where she greeted me with contempt. “It’s about time you showed up,” she said. “I thought Mercer would have more control over his subordinates.” I took a seat opposite her. “Let’s skip the pleasantries, ma’am. What’s the job?” “Ah, another businessman I see! And here I was thinking Mercer was running the beggar’s guild down there!” “You don’t have much faith in us,do you?” “I don’t have much faith in anyone. I asked for you because I hear you’re one of the best there is. It’s time for you to prove it. There’s something I need done. Tonight. You’re going to get to Whiterun as quickly as possible, and you’re going to speak with Mallus Maccius in the Bannered Mare. I won’t forgive you if you fail.” With a quiet nod I rose from my seat and trotted back to the stables. Maven had incredible influence in the city – even over most of Skyrim – and she wasn’t a patient woman.

    It was already 2pm by the time I left Riften, and I definetely wouldn’t reach Whiterun by nightfall if I went through Falkreath or Eastmarch. As I set out from the city, I charted a course on my map over the mountains – almost a direct route straight to Whiterun. I spurred my steed into a run and we made good progress. Up to the ridge north of the lake we rode, and followed that over to north of Ivarstead. Now the hardest part of the journey would begin – navigating the falls and cliffs around the Darkwater River. Luckily it was still daylight. After I rode by a ruined tower from which a group of bandits fired upon me, I forded the river and rode further along the ridgeline. Eventually I reached the cascades above Darkwater Crossing – where several both massively wide and tall waterfalls fell into a pool and gushed down to the Crossing. My steed had performed admirably on the mountainsides – I’d have to ask the stablemaster at Whiterun how he does it – and I was fairly confident that he could make it over the falls. We took a running jump over to a dry rock in the center of the first river, but the back hooves were dangling into the torrent. With a great display of skill from both myself and the horse, we scrambled up onto the rock where we made a much shorter jump onto a section of dry land. The view was amazing from up here – I’d have to come back some other time, since I couldn’t delay today. A series of large stones made it easy work to cross the remaining rivers, and I was soon on my way past the Throat of the World. Following a trail past the northern slopes of the mountain was fairly simple, although what was lay out on the other side wasn’t. Nestled at the end of a valley on the western slopes lay a large Stormcloak camp. Sentries were watching every direction, and dozens more Nords were milling around the camp, seeming armed and armored. I’d have to let the Jarl know. It was still broad daylight when I skirted around the edge of the camp, but I was still spotted by the sentries. “Isn’t that the guy the courier told us about?” one of the soldiers said to a large man in an officer’s outfit. “Finally some fun! We got ourselves an Imperial, boys!” The officer began shouting orders to the men in the camp, and soon volleys of arrows were whistling past my body. The Stormcloaks weren’t bad shots either, but hitting a sprinting horse and rider over 150 metres away isn’t easy. I escaped their grasp without injury once again, and soon made it to the outskirts of Whiterun. “Good afternoon, Thane,” one of the guardsmen greeted me. “Afternoon, Guardsman,” I replied. “Ulfric’s men have set up a sizeable camp in the first valley to the east,” I said, pointing to the mouth of it. “You’d best let Balgruuf know immediately.” “Thank you, Thane. I’ll go tell him right away.” As the guardsman jogged up to the keep I stabled my horse and made for the Bannered Mare.

    I managed to get through without being held up by any of the citizens and found Mallus waiting in a side room in the inn. I sat down opposite him at his table. “Can’t a man drink in peace?” he grumbled. He was an extremely pale man, with long unkempt black hair. “Maven sent me. I’m told we’ve got a job to do?” “So her little helper finally arrives.” That statement was met by a scowl from me. “The Captain of the Guard is doing a tasting at Honningbrew Meadery at 9pm tonight. The owner, Sabjorn, is refusing to sell the place to Maven, and she doesn’t like it when things don’t go her way. I’m supposed to be Sabjorn’s assistant you see, and we’ve had a bit of a Skeever problem the last few weeks. If the Captain sees the place in this state word will spread like wildfire, and the place might as well be shut down for good.” “But doesn’t Maven want the place for herself?” “That’s the beauty of our plan – Maven and I worked on this for weeks. You’re going to go and see Sabjorn, and offer to help him with his rat problem. Then...” He explained the plan in great detail – an absolutely flawless design, requiring very little effort on anyone’s part. “You don’t have much time – Maven will kill us both if we screw this up.”

    I reached Honningbrew Meadery just as the sun began to set behind the mountains in the far west. Inside I met an older Nord man, assumedly Sabjorn, hurriedly cleaning up the establishment – dead skeevers lay in pools of their own blood, and gore-coated bear traps were stacked against a wall. “What are you doing here?” he asked, hurriedly. “If I don’t clean up this mess before tonight I’ll be ruined!” “Perhaps I could help you with that,” I offered. “Well you look like the capable sort. I bought some poison, but I haven’t been able to get to the source of the skeevers to finish them. Say I give you the poison, and you go and destroy their nest. I’ll pay you when the job’s done.” “Sounds like a deal, Sabjorn.” He passed me the poison and pointed me towards the cellar. “They’re coming in from down there – watch out for all the traps I set up. Good luck!” He opened the door and ushered me inside, before returning to his cleaning. I instantly dropped to my haunches and listened for any sounds. There was a single Skeever poking its little head in a corner, and it was soon skewered from behind with a well placed arrow. That was when the fun began. A second Skeever came through an cave entrance from the cellar, and was destroyed by one of Sabjorn’s bear traps. Following the tunnel down, I emerged into a room full of the vermin. I felled several before their counterparts noticed, and killed one of them before the other saw me. These one’s weren’t natural – they were exceptionally hardy and strong, and poison dripped from their razor sharp fangs. I was bitten several times, and I felt my strength ebb slowly away for a few seconds after each bite. They still fell to my sword however, and I managed to heal my wounds with some healing magic. Further into the tunnel, I came across another larger room, this one filled with Frostbite Spiders. The surrounds were much darker however, and as each spider came to investigate its fallen kin, another arrow caused it to join them. Picking my way over a half dozen bodies and a multitude more in legs, the tunnel began climbing back up. Deftly manoeuvring over a few bear traps and a tripwire, I found myself at the entrance to a final cavern. This wasn’t right. Before me lay a large group of vermin, their nest, and most of all, a half-dressed man working an alchemy station and experimenting on the rats. No wonder those ones I met earlier were so tough. I gulped down a few potions and left another within grasping distance. Now that I was much more quiet and deadly, I felled all of the skeevers with a single arrow each, before the man noticed me. He surrounded himself in a magical barrier before charging a flame and shock spell in each hand. He neared my position in the darkness and cast a magical light spell, illuminating me and my surroundings in bright white light. He saw me leap from me knees, sword drawn, and bashed the pommel into his nose, sending him reeling. I drank my third potion, increasing the effectiveness of my weapon swings, and began my devastating assault. Blow after blow pierced his magical armor, but the man didn’t give up so easily. A dual-casted blast of lightning sent me staggering back, and it was his turn. An elemental assault wounded me badly, and I tried out the last Thu’um I hadn’t attempted yet. With a cry of “FEIM!” I took on a ghostly form, unable to attack, but unaffected by the mage’s attacks. I felt my strength being restored much rather than usual, and we squared off at about 10 metres. The effect wore off, and I lept straight at him, sword raised, and delivered a crushing blow, slaying him once and for all.

    I scattered half of the poison into the Skeever nest, killing off the remainder of the vermin. I searched the alchemy station for any information about this man – and I did find it in the source of a journal. Briefly skimming over the book, I found his name was Hamelyn. Apparently he was a brilliant alchemist – kicked out of the College of Winterhold, using the supplies from the meadery to build an army from modified skeevers – made stronger and more deadly by his potions. Luckily I had stopped him then, since by the looks of the journal he was almost ready to unleash his horde upon Skyrim. Gathering some of his belongings I came back up into theboilery, in another building in the complex. Just as Mallus told me, I went up on to the mezzanine level, opened the brewing vat marked ‘Honningbrew Reserve’, and dropped in the rest of the rat poison. My part in the scheme complete, I returned to the main building. I passed him on my way back, and he returned a few minutes later with a barrel of Honningbrew Reserve. Mallus and I sat at a table in the corner of the room, and the Captain came in and struck up a conversation with Sabjorn. “Now let’s just watch the show, Aedric,” Mallus whispered to me. After the Captain made comment on the hard times the meadery has been having, he finally decided to try some of the brew. Taking a swig from the fine silver goblet, he contorted his face before doubling over, coughing. “I-Is something wrong?” Sabjorn asked. “You filthy Skeever! I’ll have your in irons for this!” “I’m sure this is all just a terrible misunderstanding!” he pleaded. “I’m shutting this place down! Off to the dungeons with you, Sabjorn!” “Please, sir! I’m sure we can work this out!” The captain drew his wicked-looking Orcish sword, and pointed it at Sabjorn. “I won’t ask again.” Escorting him out at swordpoint, he glanced over at Mallus. “You’re in charge until I get all this sorted out!” “Yes, sir,” Mallus replied in a dreary tone. After they left the building Mallus congratulated me on my work. “It seemed Maven didn’t lie about your prowess – I’m impressed you managed to deal with Hamelyn.” “Why didn’t you tell me about him?” “I didn’t need to – and you didn’t ask. You handled him well enough anyway. Now, I need to search Sabjorn’s files for anything that would be useful to Maven. I’ll be around here for awhile yet, as I need to convert this establishment to the Black-Briar brand – so don’t hesitate to sell me anything that doesn’t belong to you if you’re passing by.” With quick goodbyes we went our separate ways, and I returned to Riverwood for the night.

    Settling in at the Sleeping Giant once again, I exchanged the usual pleasantries with the townsfolk before retiring to my room. Late at night Delphine entered and spoke to me. “I’ve almost got my plans finalised. Meet me in the room late tomorrow morning – we won’t have much time to waste. We’ll be travelling to Solitude so be ready for a journey.” With a silent nod from me she left me to my thoughts. I could report in with the Thieves Guild and pick up my next job early in the morning, and travel back to Solitude later on. Solitude seemed to be where I needed to be – Falk needed my help, I hadn’t reported back in with the Legion yet, it tied in with Delphine’s plan, and who knew what else. As I placed my belongings down before going to bed I remembered – I still had the Greybeards’ horn with me. I could always return that tomorrow morning as well. It would be quite an interesting day...

    Aedric is definetely going to Solitude tomorrow - but what should he do first when he gets there?

    1. Follow along with Delphine's plan
    2. Report in with the Legion
    3. Report in with Falk Firebeard about the Potema issue
    4. Other

    Let me know in the comments!

    Next chapter is up, read it here

    Notes: I only just realised that everything pretty much sending us back to Solitude for a good day or two. I've downloaded quite a few mods in the past couple of days (camping, improved horses, new weapons, improved lighting, more finishers, stuff like that) so you can expect some of those to come out in coming chapters. And here I'm struck with a dilemma - this weapons mod adds shortswords, which is sort of how I originally envisioned Aedric (dual daggers and dual swords didn't really suit) and I *can* use the console to respec his 2-handed perks/skill ranks into 1-handed but I'm not really sure how I can work this into the story - let me know if you've got any ideas how I can (or if I shouldn't, or if I could just do it without saying anything). My only one is that he gets retraining at the Legion base or something. Thanks for reading!


  • Guy Corbett
    Guy Corbett   ·  March 12, 2012
    Top post man, Loving all the potion stuff and the extra detail with the Stormcloaks in windhelm and the camp. I really enjoy Aedrics adventures he's a likable fella.
    With regards to the one handed thing I think its a nice idea, maybe his two handed ...  more
  • Ponty
    Ponty   ·  March 12, 2012
    It's been about 2 days, so I think option 1 wins out. To Solitude!
  • Ponty
    Ponty   ·  March 11, 2012
    Thanks for the comments guys, and don't forget to give some constructive criticism if applicable, I'm always looking to improve my work! One more vote and I'll be able to get underway.
  • Kynareth
    Kynareth   ·  March 10, 2012
    Really enjoy Aedric's commentary throughout all of your posts, but one in particular struck me today...the reasoning behind a smith selling all his leather strips and iron when that is also his raw materials in which to become better than Eorlund Gray-Man...  more