The travel journal: a week in SKYRIM (episode 2)
I have decided to spend seven days as a tourist in the province of Skyrim. An outsider in the land of legends, roaring fires, frosty nights, sweetrolls and sweet trolls — as well as people who do not understand the concept of personal space. The following is a journal of my experiences here, and the people I meet along the way.
I emerge from The Bannered Mare after a peaceful night of sleep. It is a beautiful frosty, but sunny day. I spend a moment enjoying the winter sun and feeling it warming my skin. Today I am going to climb the legendary 7000 steps up to the monastery of High Hrothgar.
My little moment of tranquility is interrupted when a woman randomly informs me that“ If I am looking for her husband Nazeem, he can usually be found at the Jarls behind, where he stuffs himself these days” I decide its best not to get involved with that, and I loudly bid her a good morning, and depart with haste down towards the main gates of Whiterun. I decide that I will take a carriage to the village of Ivarstead, where I will begin my ascend. Looking at the mountain from a distance, I feel a little uneasy. This could be quite the undertaking.
I arrive in Ivarstead wearing my warmest clothes and with a pouch full of provisions. The nervousness I experienced earlier is beginning to be replaced by a familiar hunger for adventure. I decide to ask the locals about the climb before leaving. A farmer named Jafthor tells me, that the monks living near the summit, the mythical Greybeards, are a strange lot. I should not expect much from the meeting. I accidentally harvest one of his cabbages in front of him as a response, and the awkward silent tension that follows leads me to turn around and begin my journey. My guide-book tells me that this area is home to various predators like bears and mythical trolls. I quickly shake the thought.
I have taken my first step. only 6999 of them to go. My sides hurt with exhaustion and I feel like I am breathing fire. This was a poor idea, but I am determined to finish my epic quest.
In need of rest, I decide to stop for a quick meal in the middle of some shelter providing trees. I change into my eating hat and settle down. I only have a certain amount of provisions with me, so it is important that I stretch them out, in order to have enough food for the way back down the mountain as well.
I am out of food. Luckily I find a bush that is peppered with small red berries. My book informs me, that these are called snowberries. They are said to help you stay warm on a cold night. I gather a dozen of them, and pack up in order to continue. The snow begins to fall quite heavily around me, and I think kindly of Belethor, and mentally thank him for selling me these warm clothes.
With aching muscles, I finally see High Hrothgar emerging out of the snow. I am now near the highest point in all of Skyrim, and I feel quite humbled by the majestic surroundings.
Once inside these hallowed halls, I am greeted by an elderly man looking like a hobo. His name is Wulfgar, and he agrees to give me a quick tour of the monastery. At the end of the tour, he shows me a big hall with a large table circled by many chairs in the middle. It was apparently once the location of a counsel called “ the never-ending unskippable conversation” that took place in order to end the infamous civil wars, that used to plague this now quite peaceful province. I get some wine from the monks, and decide to begin my walk back to Ivarstead, so that I can find a place to rest for the night before it gets too dark.
After nightfall, I am blessed by another boon of Skyrim: the marvelous Auroras. It is a beautiful serene experience only disturbed by the crisp sound of my footsteps in the frosty snow. I am, however, starting to get rather cold and I decide to stop nearby for the night.
I find a small incline sheltered by high natural walls of stone on both sides. I get a fire going and eat a couple of snowberries and wash down the bitter taste with a large cup of wine. The wind is roaring over the cliffs as I lay down my bedroll on the ground. I feel a bit lonely out here, and I even find myself missing the company of Alvor from Riverwood. I laugh at myself. What am I thinking. Alvor is absolutely horrible. Tomorrow I am off to the city of Riften, where I intend to purchase a horse, and finally have a bottle of Black-Briar mead. I fall fast asleep.
I am back in Ivarstead after an awfully cold night. I heard strange beasts roaming around on the mountain through the night, but thankfully I survived. I stop by the Vilemyr Inn for some warmth and sustenance, before I leave for Riften. The inkeep here speaks enthusiastically about a place called the College of Winterhold. He even marks it down on my map for me. I will try to go there before my journey is over.
On my way to Riften I see what appears to be a tavern of sorts called Redwater Den. Here, they are selling a local speciality called Skooma. I am told it is some sort of delicious cold soup. I purchase a bottle from a strange looking man who is cooking it himself — He seems nice. Who knows, the Skooma could come in handy later.
I am finally inside the gates of Riften. I immediately decide to locate the Bee and Barb: a fine establishment selling large bottles of Black-Briar mead. I ask an exotic-looking woman called Marise how to get there. She points me in the right direction, and to my delight, she also sells big delicious looking sweetrolls. I purchase one, and proudly parade down the main street grasping my precious cake. Before I know what is happening, it is snatched from my very hand by a thief who makes away with my beloved treat. I can feel the anger heating up my face, and I walk briskly intending to report this injustice to the guards. I am, however, not getting the reaction I was expecting, as this crime is nonchalantly met with a snide remark “What is the matter? Someone stole your sweetroll?”. YES that is what I am conveying to you, good sir. Getting absolutely no empathy from the men appointed to keep these kinds of cake-related horrors from happening, I finally lose my temper and slap the guard in the face with the back of my hand, making his helmet fall from his stupid head. I am instantly arrested, and taken to a dirty little cell in the Riften jail. They even confiscate the soup I purchased earlier for some reason.
I am finally out again. It appears that I am let go because my loud crying was making the other prisoners uncomfortable. After all this, I need a drink, So I once again find myself heading for the Inn. I purchase a bottle of the local mead, and my spirits rise with every comforting sip. It has a wonderful sweet taste.
In front of me, I notice a tense situation unfolding. My mouth waters as I spot something familiar in the middle of a table. A magnificent sweetroll stands majestically there. Could it be mine from earlier? I decide to let the matter rest, as the patrons sitting on each side of the table are already engaged in a dramatic staring contest. One of them is going to bed tonight without having tasted the sweet pastry, we all know it. I share brief eye contact with the man on the left, and I can see from his tired expression that this situation has been going on for hours, perhaps even days.
Before ending my day, I wish to purchase a horse. I am thinking about riding to the ancient College of Winterhold tomorrow. Upon leaving the tavern, I am stopped by a courier who hands me this letter:
I have received an inheritance of a 100 gold coins from a man named Shadr. This is obviously a mistake, and I make a note of trying to return them to the right recipient before I depart the area. That is, if I am able to find out who this unfortunate man was.
As I enter the stables, I witness something truly shocking. A bearded man is fighting a bear with his fists, and after a little scuffle, the bear drops to the floor, hitting another man on the way down and leaving him unconscious.
I nervously enquire about buying a horse. I must admit I find the asking price of 1000 gold a bit steep, but I am not about to barter with this absolute madman.
I am feeling satisfied by my purchase of this trusted steed. I do need to find a name for him though. Maybe I should ask around, as I currently have no ideas myself.
I return to the Bee and Barb and rent a room for the night. I retire to my quarters and update my progress on the Map. While thinking on which places to visit in the coming days, I begin to dream of sweetroll-related justice with a smile on my face.
Next episode can be found here:
Episode 3: Journey to the College of Winterhold
Missed the first episode? Here it is: A Tourist in Skyrim
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