Chapter 1: Sundas, 17th Last Seed, 4E 201
So I finally lost my old journal, which is probably for the best. That thing was a mess. It only had a few pages left in it, too. I would be worried about the Thalmor finding it, but somehow I get the feeling they have bigger concerns than my old journal, and the odds are it's either incinerated or otherwise inaccessible, along with the rest of my supplies. Stupid dragon. Before I get to that, though, an introduction is probably in order.
My name is Lorasephona Jorius, but no one has called me by my full name in decades and I fully intend for it to stay that way. These days, I just go by Lora, if I have to use a name at all. I've been wearing my hair down over my ears for some time now, and as long as nobody looks too closely, they tend to assume I’m a Nord, or the native of whatever province I'm in. People thought I was an Imperial in Cyrodiil, for example. People tend to assume. It's useful.
But anyway, I’m in Skyrim now, and I’m writing this by magelight just east of Helgen, or what's left of it, anyway. Truthfully, it's something of a miracle that I’m here now. If it weren't for the creature that decimated Helgen showing up when it did, the Thalmor would have one less fugitive from the Summerset Isles to worry about.
I'm sure you're wondering, what kind of creature could possibly decimate an entire city? Helgen was walled, too, and while the walls are still mostly-standing, the city within is a different story. Well, as for what did this, I can hardly believe it myself.
Right when I was about to be executed, courtesy of the local Thalmor patrol shoving me in with the Stormcloaks, a dragon showed up. A damned dragon. It was big, and black, and I swear I heard it yell something along the lines of “for ruta!” Or something like that, anyway. What even is a “ruta”? I probably should be more worried about the fact that I heard a dragon talk, though. Dragons don't talk. Right? Well, they're not even supposed to exist, so...
Okay, I probably am going insane if I'm not already, but being on the run for long enough eats away at your sanity and replaces it with paranoia. I wouldn't even be risking magelight if I weren't a good distance away from Helgen by now and a fair bit off the road. Even so, I’m prepared to extinguish it at any moment, although I'd... really rather not.
My old journal would already know this, but I really, really don't like the dark. I suppose now is as good a time as any to get some sleep, but... I will, eventually. Once I'm too tired to freak out at every little noise the forest around me makes.
The man who helped me escape Helgen more-or-less unscathed, a young soldier named Hadvar, offered for me to go with him to his uncle’s place, but I declined. As good as it would be to sleep in a real bed instead of a crappy bedroll taken off a dead Stormcloak, I’d only be putting them in danger, especially if word got to the Thalmor. After asking for directions, I told Hadvar that if he really wanted to help me, he would pretend he never saw me and return to the Legion.
I hope he doesn't get into trouble on my account. He’s a good man, and I suspect he will go far in the Legion if he lives long enough. But enough about him, since I won't ever be seeing him again if all goes well. I headed east from Helgen because of the directions he gave me. This way is a different city, Riften. It's the capital of one of the nine holds of Skyrim, and this hold in particular happens to be as far away from the Thalmor - or at least their embassy - as I can get. Officially, the Jarl supports the rebellion and its leader, but there's not much of a presence there.
The important thing is that, with any luck, I can disappear there. There's rumors of an entire guild of thieves, miles upon miles of underground tunnels, and… well. It fascinates me that enough thieves agreed to stick together to form this guild. Maybe there's some truth to the saying, “honor among thieves.”
I'm no thief myself, but I’ll definitely be looking into this Thieves Guild. If it's important enough that a common soldier from the other side of Skyrim knows of it, it's got to be pretty big. Maybe they can help me disappear, although I suspect such a thing will not come without price. I can worry about that later, though. I'm getting tired, and I’m going to need the sleep for when I get there.
Chapter 2: Morndas, 18th Last Seed, 4E 201
After spending the better part of today on the road, I’ve finally arrived in Riften. Frankly, I'm unimpressed. I spent a good hour asking as discreetly as I could about both the Thieves Guild and the rumored underground tunnels, and I got nothing. Nothing! This doesn't exactly bode well for me, although at the very least there doesn't seem to be any sort of military presence, save the local guards.
I'm staying at the local inn for tonight. It’s called the Bee and Barb, and as much as I hate to admit it, I'm broke. I won't be able to afford another night here, not after that “visitor’s tax” I had to pay simply to get in. Visitor’s tax, my arse. That was clearly extortion, and I would have taught that guard a lesson he wouldn't have forgotten if I hadn't been trying not to draw attention to myself. As it was, I… may have had something to do with an unfortunate accident involving his torch and his pants.
They can't prove I did anything, and I've gone to great lengths to keep myself looking inconspicuous, so that guard will just have to get a new uniform at some point. I hope it’s full of lice and ticks and that bastard contracts ataxia or something from it. (Wait, only skeevers carry ataxia around here. Never mind.)
In other news, just before I retired to my room, a red-haired Nord came over, correctly assumed that I was near broke, and told me to meet him in the market tomorrow morning and he’ll have a job for me. I'm a little skeptical about what exactly he means by a “job”, and if he turns out to be a pimp I’ll kill him and dump his body off one of the bridges, but I’m rather desperate.
I was about to sign off, but I just thought of something. Maybe he's a part of the Thieves Guild? That would explain the dirty looks the bartender was throwing his way, although if he’s a thief, why is he offering me money? I swear, I’ll never be able to figure Nords out. They're quite strange.
Regardless, I think I’ll try and find him tomorrow. If nothing else, I'm curious, and I can take him in a fight if it comes to that. Personally, I hope it doesn't. He seems rather charismatic for a Nord, although that might just be because my ears are hidden and he thinks I’m a Nord too. As if. It’s just far easier and far more convenient to not specify my race, or make it obvious.
Chapter 3: Tirdas, 19th Last Seed, 4E 201
His name is Brynjolf (who names their kid that?) and he is definitely part of the Thieves Guild. I prefer that to, say, the Whores Guild. Does that exist? I’m not sure I want to know if that exists. I hope it doesn't. If it does, I might have to pay them a visit and accidentally burn the place to the ground. I need to practice my fire spells more, anyway. When you’re on the run, and trying to remain inconspicuous, fire is usually a bad idea.
There’s a certain satisfaction to burning things, though.
I’m not a pyromaniac, I swear.
Anyway, back to Brynjolf. I’ve always been an early riser, so I wound up wandering around the market for a good two hours wondering where he was before he finally showed up. Unsurprisingly, the job he had for me was… less than legal, to say the least. It could have been a lot worse, though, and it at least wasn’t worthy of me dual casting Flames into his face. I reserve that for perverts, and bandits, and the Thalmor, and... okay, maybe dual casting Flames into people's face is kind of my go-to attack. It works, and besides, I like fire.
So what he wanted me to do was steal this one merchant’s ring from the strongbox underneath his stand and then plant it in this other merchant’s pocket. I must have looked a lot more capable than I felt, because when I asked for more details he grinned, said I’d be fine, and proceeded to cause a distraction by waxing poetic about this clear scam called ‘Falmer-blood elixir’ or something along those lines. Seriously, though.
I’m still not sure who was dumber, him for thinking people wouldn't see his distraction for what it was or the people of the market for actually paying attention to the most obvious scam I'd ever heard. Either way, I needed the money, so I sneaked over to the one person’s stand, slipped open the stand’s back panel, and proceeded to attempt to pick the strongbox’s lock.
I should probably take the opportunity to explain that I've done my fair share of lockpicking in the past, and it's saved my life, so I at least knew how, and I had a few lockpicks left over from Helgen. At least the lock on the strongbox was relatively easy compared to some of the ones I've had to pick in the past, although I'm not particularly surprised they don't have Thalmor-grade locks around here.
Anyway, that was the easy part. While Brynjolf continued going on and on and on about the biggest scam in existence, I sneaked up behind two boxes, grabbed the ring, and slipped it into the other merchant’s back pocket. I know I’m making it sound easy here. It wasn't easy, not by a long shot. It was quite possibly the most terrifying thing I've ever done, but hey, I succeeded, which was more than I was expecting. Honestly, though. I'm never this lucky.
So, once I was out of the way, I caught Brynjolf’s eye and he finished up surprisingly quickly, and also without selling a single bottle of Divines-know-what. I headed back over, and tried to ignore the guards arresting the shopkeeper I'd framed. You can probably imagine how well that went. I'm still trying not to think about what might have happened to him, to be honest…
Well, anyway. I think I impressed Brynjolf, because he invited me to actually join the Thieves Guild, if I could make it to their headquarters in the Ragged Flagon. He wasn't particularly specific on where the place was located, although I suspect it's in the Ratway somewhere. Only problem is, I still don't know where the Ratway is. I need to keep looking into that.
Doing that job gave me enough coin for a couple more nights in the Bee and Barb, so it's not extremely time-sensitive. I took the opportunity to catch up on my sleep, do some reading, and practice my magic. Honestly, I needed the break, but tomorrow I’m going to take Brynjolf up on his offer. I'm cautiously optimistic that I’ll be able to disappear within the ranks of the Thieves Guild, and if I have to forsake my morals… well, so be it.
The thing is, though… I hate to admit it even to myself, but stealing that ring, planting it on that dark elf… I liked it. I liked it, and I don't know why. Maybe I'm actually cut out to be a thief, although… I've got a long way to go before I stop feeling bad for whoever I'm stealing from.
Do I really want to take this road? I suspect that once I join the Thieves Guild, there won't be any going back. I'll be stuck. So is becoming a thief really worth it?
You know what, damn it all. A guild of thieves is the last place the Thalmor will look for me, and there's absolutely nothing stopping me from stealing from people who deserve it.
I'm doing this.
Chapter 4: Middas, 20th Last Seed, 4E 201
I'm doing this. I’m actually doing this. I'm actually a part of the Thieves Guild, and I'm really not sure how to feel about this. But there's no going back now. If my father could see me now… well, if I'm being honest he'd probably ask me to steal stuff for him. But still.
Anyway, here's what happened. It took a considerable amount of searching, but I finally found the entrance to the Ratway, and I could kick myself for not finding it sooner. If they're underground tunnels, then it makes a lot more sense for the entrance to be on the lower level of the city, you know, underneath the bridges. But anyway, I found it, went in, and then heard voices.
As it turns out, the Thieves Guild isn't the only illegal group that makes their home in the Ratway. I tried to sneak past them, but that didn't work, so I set them on fire and ran like hell instead. That worked, although I was lost in the tunnels for a good hour before I finally, finally, found the Ragged Flagon, and the Thieves Guild.
Long story short, I'm a member now. I know nobody’s name, except for Brynjolf’s. I’m pretty sure the guildmaster’s name begins with an M, if that counts for anything, although I don’t trust him. Granted, this is a literal den of thieves, so I probably shouldn’t trust anything or anyone, but you know. This guildmaster guy seems like the type who would murder his friends for money.
The guildmaster said something about a special job, but I think I’ll pass on that for now. I’ll be honest, so far I’ve only been succeeding on sheer dumb luck, and I’m never this lucky, so I need to get better. Brynjolf told me to look for someone named Vex and someone named Delvin for jobs, but I think I’m going to just hang out and… try and get better. At being a thief.
Who would have known? Me, a thief? I sure wouldn’t have. Then again, there are a lot of things I wouldn’t have known, wouldn’t have done if I knew better. Maybe… maybe I would still be in the Isles, happily married. Maybe I would have had kids, a family. Maybe…
Well, there’s no point in reminiscing over the past. What’s done is done, and I have to live with the consequences. At least I can't make the same mistake twice.
Anyway, for tomorrow… I’m going to swallow my pride and ask Brynjolf to show me how to, you know, be a thief. I only succeeded yesterday out of sheer dumb luck, and considering that I usually have extremely bad luck… I need to get good. I need to figure this out, if I really want to be a thief.
Truthfully, I’m still not sure that I want this. But if the world listened to what I wanted, I’d be happily married to Ganriil and I never would have left the Isles in the first place. I wouldn’t have had to leave. But I… kind of have to do this. If I want to keep evading the Thalmor, I need money, and I need to get it somewhere they won’t expect me to get it.
The fact that Riften is the furthest I can get from Skyrim’s Thalmor Embassy doesn’t exactly hurt, either. The place is in Solitude. Riften is on the other side of Skyrim. So...
Well, as it happens, being a part of the Thieves Guild means you get 1) free armor and 2) a free place to sleep. I’m not entirely sure how much I trust this. Sleeping underground is an accident waiting to happen regardless, and let’s just say I won’t be surprised if I wake up tomorrow to find half my stuff stolen. Maybe if I sleep on top of it…
Okay, looks like I’ve got to wrap this up. Someone just yelled ‘lights out in five’ and I’m not sure what I’m more surprised about, the fact that they actually put out the torches or the fact that they actually sleep, but I’m not pushing it on my first day here. (Night? I’m too tired for this.)
Chapter 5: Turdas, 21st Last Seed, 4E 201
Brynjolf is… surprisingly understanding, for a Nord. He understood perfectly when I explained that I didn’t really know how to do anything except sneak around and pick locks… alright, maybe those are thief skills, but I wasn’t using them for stealing stuff. As it happens, there’s an actual training room in the Thieves Guild headquarters - it’s based in and around an underground tavern called the Ragged Flagon, I’m pretty sure I mentioned the Ragged Flagon before but not what it was, and honestly whoever came up with the name was a genius. It’s great.
Anyway, training room. It was mostly for practicing picking locks, which I wasn’t too thrilled about, but I’m kind of glad Brynjolf insisted I practice anyway. Some of the locks on those chests… I’m actually kind of curious where they came from, because they were harder to pick than the Thalmor ones, and the Thalmor ones are literal nightmares. Does the Thieves Guild have a locksmith somewhere in it? Maybe?
Sorry for getting off-topic again. According to Brynjolf, I’m “passable with lockpicking, actually pretty good with sneaking, and really, really bad at picking pockets.” Direct quote from him, I think. I might have misremembered some of the words. But he says we’re going to work on the pickpocketing thing, and I’m surprisingly okay with this. Even if this Thieves Guild thing doesn't work out, it’ll be a useful skill to know
On an unrelated note, you remember how I said he was a redhead? I wonder how he’d look if his hair was actually on fire. I’m… not going to try anything, but just a random thought. At one point he almost looked like it was on fire, and… you know what, I’m going to stop that train of thought right there.
Why am I like this?
Anyway, I actually know other people in the guild now! Or I know of them, anyway. I’m going to write down their names, what they look like, and maybe some other stuff here for future reference, because you know I’m not going to remember otherwise. Well, I might, but anyway.
Mercer - tall, irritable Breton. Guildmaster. Doesn’t seem to like anyone very much, but he really doesn’t like me. I can’t say I blame him. I wouldn’t like me either.
Brynjolf - surprisingly friendly Nord. Definitely high up in the Guild. Good at reading people. Good at smooth-talking. Could probably talk his way out of an execution. Don’t want to test that theory.
Vex - really irritable Imperial. Gives out “jobs”. Somehow less threatening than Mercer, maybe because she seems to hate people in general, not just me.
Delvin - actually nice Breton. Also gives out “jobs”. Drinks a lot. Bought me a drink and then went on and on about some sort of curse.
Mercer keeps trying to get me to do some sort of “special job”, which I probably will do, eventually, but not yet. I need to get better. I need to actually know what I’m doing. And I definitely don’t trust the guy. He seems shifty. And I know that he’s the leader of a bunch of thieves, so obviously he’s going to be shifty, but… I just don’t know.
Maybe I’ll ask Brynjolf about him or something. Or maybe Delvin, he seems nice. Somewhat. As nice as a thief can be, anyway. He almost reminds me of my father, actually, if my father was a thief in Skyrim instead of a teacher back home in the Isles, although honestly I could see him being both. He would do that.
I wonder how he’s doing? I’d like to think the Thalmor left him alone, maybe questioned him some and then gave up. But I’ve been dealing with the Thalmor long enough to know that they don’t give up, not until you’re dead or, even worse, captured. So I know better.
Well, Father’s smart. Maybe he could have played dumb, acted like he didn’t know anything. He always was a sly bastard, if I’m being honest. Not that I’d ever tell him that to his face. Maybe the Thalmor think that I died in Helgen. After all, not everyone made it out, not by a long shot.
Who am I kidding? They’re quite possibly more paranoid than me. They’re going to keep looking for me until they either find me or my corpse… wait. That gives me an idea for my next encounter with them. In the meantime, I definitely need to practice my illusion magic. That’s going to be fun.
And actually, while we're on the subject, destruction is far better. Restoration is useful, but honestly rather boring. Destruction's great, you just have to be careful not to hit anything you don't want to hit. It's actually a lot more difficult than it sounds, but I like difficult. I like a challenge.
Maybe that's part of why I joined the Thieves Guild.
Chapter 6: Fredas, 22nd Last Seed, 4E 201
I kind of know what I’m doing now, at least? So that’s good. I’m still not good at being a pickpocket, but I’m pretty quiet and I can pick locks, so that’s something. I’m also convinced Mercer has it in for me, because, well. You probably remember that “special mission” I was talking about earlier? I finally got the details. It’s basically a suicide mission, so that'll be fun. Regardless, I’m doing it. I’ve done some asking around to see what I can find out about the place, and I think I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Here’s the details, at least the ones I know, the ones I heard from Brynjolf.
There’s this place called Goldenglow Estate just outside of Riften. (Actually, I think I might have passed it on my way here.) As it happens, the place is a big producer of honey, which this one person the Thieves Guild has connections with uses a lot in her company. Can’t remember the woman’s first name for the life of me, although I know her last name’s Black-Briar because that’s the name of the company, Black-Briar Meadery. Not the greatest name in my opinion, but I've never actually had mead, so it's not my problem.
My problem is that this Goldenglow place, or whoever’s running it, has suddenly cut all ties with the Black-Briar woman. A few others from the Guild have tried to check it out, and it… didn’t exactly go well. The man in charge of Goldenglow apparently hired mercenaries to protect it. Anyway, I got directed to Vex when I asked for more details on that, and although she was something of a bitch as usual, she told me that she got in through the sewers, and gave me directions to at least get there. Apparently she's the only one who's tried to get in and actually lived to tell the tale.
Anyway, I’m writing this now because I plan to head over there once it gets dark. It might be a suicide mission, but damn it all, I’m not going to fail. Besides, I have something that the others who went there probably didn’t: magic. Also I’ve got nothing left to lose at this point. So, here’s what I’ll doing. I’m going to go over there, set exactly three of the beehives on fire, and empty out the safe. Brynjolf was very clear that I was only setting three beehives on fire, no more, no less. I asked if I could set the mercenaries on fire too, and he shrugged, so I’m taking that as a yes. I just need to be careful. Three beehives. That’s it.
I’ve got a few more minutes until it’s dark enough for me to begin making my way over, so I’ll sign off now. Hopefully I don’t die. If I do, well, at least it wasn’t by the Thalmor.
I’m back, and… well, that was certainly an experience, and not a good one. The red on the paper isn’t my blood, I think. I hope. If it is, it’s not urgent enough for me to worry about, hopefully. If there's no more entries after this, you know what happened. But honestly? This was definitely supposed to be a suicide mission. Mercer definitely has it in for me, because I haven’t come that close to dying since Kvatch. We don’t talk about Kvatch.
Anyway, three beehives were set on fire, no more, no less. So were a significant amount of the mercenaries, which was good for me, not so good for them. Anyway, I found this letter in the safe downstairs that explains what’s been going on, and honestly I’m rather curious. I’ll copy it into here for now, and give it to Mercer tomorrow morning. Thing is, though, someone definitely has it in for the Guild, and I have no idea who. Maybe joining up wasn't the greatest idea I've ever had.
At least it's a long way from the worst one.
Here's what the letter said:
This document acknowledges the sale of Goldenglow Estate and all property, assets and materials contained within. Payment of the property has been made in full by Gulum-Ei as an agent on behalf of the buyer. All dealings with the Thieves Guild in Riften is to cease immediately. To deter any possible retribution for this act, you are to take immediate steps to protect our assets in any way you see fit. I think you'll find that the Thieves Guild is far more bark than bite and will likely avoid Goldenglow Estate rather than thin their already dwindling numbers.
Good luck and may this be the start of a long and lucrative partnership.
It wasn’t signed, unsurprisingly. Whoever this was would be an idiot to sign it, anyway. Somehow, I get the feeling I may have gotten into something big, but you know what? Whatever it is, it can’t possibly be worse than the Thalmor. So I’ll keep going. Right now, though, I’m going to sleep for as long as I possibly can, because that was exhausting. If Mercer waited this long to get his hands on this stuff, he can wait a bit longer. Sleep is clearly far more important than anything he has to say.
Chapter 7: Loredas, 23rd Last Seed, 4E 201
Mercer definitely doesn’t like me. He seemed almost disappointed when I turned up alive and mostly unhurt today, which is something of a red flag in itself. Although, truthfully, I would have been a lot more hurt and might not even have made it back if I hadn’t spent a significant amount of magicka on healing myself last night. Those mercenaries were… not fun to deal with. I would have had an even harder time if I hadn’t known to go in through the sewers, so I made sure to thank Vex for helping me out there.
She seemed pretty indifferent, honestly, but I’ll take indifferent over hating me for no good reason like Mercer is. He said he’d look over the letter, which means that I’m probably never getting it back. Good thing I already copied it down in here. Anyway, I’m definitely part of the Guild now, which is good, I think.
I got my first official job today, and I say first because I’m definitely not counting Goldenglow as a job. That was a suicide mission, not a job. I’m pretty sure taking on an entire camp of bandits by myself would have been easier than that, but anyway. Vex asked if I was up for some work, I said sure, and the next thing I knew, I was sneaking into this one person’s house in Riften to steal some sort of golden pitcher thing.
It was almost too easy, since said person was out somewhere, but you won’t hear me complaining. I like easy. Now I'm going to go sleep, because I never get this much sleep and I probably need it.
Chapter 8: Sundas, 24th Last Seed, 4E 201
I've been in Skyrim for a week now, and in Riften for a little under that, and… well, Skyrim’s certainly colder than I'm used to, but it at least isn't snowing. Not around here, anyway, although from what I've heard it's always snowing further north, like in Solitude. Truthfully, I don't know why the Thalmor didn't locate their embassy further south. Sure, Solitude is the capital and all, but still. The thing about high elves, Altmer, like me and the Thalmor: we don't do well in extremes. We don't do well in heat, we don't do well in cold, and we definitely don't do well going from one extreme to the other quickly. I'm a lot better at fire spells than frost, so Flames is usually my go-to if I'm caught off-guard.
Also, I like fire. It reminds me of myself. If people get too close, they're going to get burned…
whether I want them to or not.
Anyway, that's enough about fire for today. I… may have a problem, but it's not like I set buildings on fire for fun. Just Thalmor Justicars, and that's definitely not for fun. It's a matter of survival, of… of carrying on. Someone has to make sure Ganriil didn't die for nothing, and if I don't do so, no one will.
That's enough depressing stuff for now.
I think I'm doing relatively well in the Guild, if that counts for anything. I got a job from Delvin today, and I just had to steal five hundred septims worth of stuff from somewhere in Riften, without getting caught. Stealing the stuff was the easy part. Not getting caught was a lot harder. Just after dark, I sneaked over to a certain house, picked the lock, and helped myself to a good deal of their stuff. I asked around to figure out where this one woman lived who quite literally threatened to run me out of town if I didn't shut up about the Thieves Guild, and… I figured I wouldn't mind paying her a visit. So, when I was rummaging around in the basement, I heard someone moving around upstairs!
I naturally froze, and when whoever it was quieted down some, I risked creeping back up. The woman from before was humming something to herself, heading over to a drawer that I'd already cleared out, and she was unfortunately between me and the door. Considering that Delvin had been quite clear to not get caught, I did something very stupid that may have saved me: I ducked under the table.
I watched her open the drawer, and I saw the moment she realized a thief had been here. She drew her sword and began looking around, and I don't think I breathed until she headed down into the cellar. That's when I bolted, and didn't stop running until I was back in the relative safety of the Ragged Flagon.
I think I can see why the Guild is based in and around a tavern now. I needed a couple drinks to make my heart slow down some after that fiasco, and I managed to convince Delvin to buy, so we talked a bit. He's nice, seemed sympathetic when I told him what went down. He guessed (correctly) who I'd gone after, and gave me this book called Shadowmarks to take a look at. Apparently it's some sort of code thieves use to communicate? I'll take a look at it later. I know I won't remember anything if I look at it now, because I'm falling asleep as I write this.
In other news, I tried mead for the first time today. It, well… I guess it's an acquired taste.
Chapter 9: Morndas, 25th Last Seed, 4E 201
Mercer had another job for me, and from the sounds of things this one actually isn't a suicide mission. Who would have known? Anyway, let's back up a bit. I was going to head over, see what Vex had to do (because her job was a lot less stressful than the one I got from Delvin, even if Delvin’s nicer), but I wasn't even all the way into the Ragged Flagon before Brynjolf directed me in the guildmaster’s direction.
I just realized how confusing that sounds. To clarify, the Thieves Guild is based mainly in this underground tavern called the Ragged Flagon, but there's a back area which is where mostly everyone sleeps and wanders around and stuff, I think it’s called the Cistern? I hope that makes sense. If it doesn't, well, I tried. Sorry.
Anyway, Brynjolf directed me in Mercer’s direction, Mercer directed me in the direction of the Black-Briar woman. Her name’s Maven, by the way. Maven Black-Briar. So I had to go up into Riften and meet her in a shadowy corner of the inn, which was… interesting, to say the least. She clearly didn't think very highly of me until I mentioned Goldenglow, and then she told me the details. I'm supposed to meet this guy named Mallus Macius in the tavern in Whiterun, and he’ll fill me in on more details. Hopefully. I really hate being in the dark… metaphorically speaking, although I don't exactly love being in actual darkness, either.
Anyway, I… may or may not have a horse now. I actually didn't steal her, which may come as a surprise considering my current line of work. The guy working at the stables just outside of Riften said I could have a free horse if I could beat him in a fistfight because apparently I didn’t look like much, and I really didn't want to walk all the way to Whiterun, so I took him on. I'm still sore all over from that, but it was very much worth it, because I have a horse now. Her name’s Winter, according to the stable guy, and I didn't really see the need to change it, so yeah. She's a dappled grey and she's really pretty and I love her.
Anyway, I'm not quite to Whiterun yet. I took the pass through the mountains, which took me past what's left of Helgen, and now I'm in the inn in Riverwood. It’s a nice little town, although the innkeeper is really inhospitable for an innkeeper. I'm half expecting her to stab me in my sleep, or try to, anyway. Either way, I'm not stealing from her. That would be a really great way to get myself killed, because said innkeeper probably has military training of some sort and could kick my arse halfway to Morrowind easily.
Enough about that. I'm going to actually get some sleep, or try to, anyway. Here's to hoping the innkeeper won't stab me in my sleep.
Chapter 10: Tirdas, 26th Last Seed, 4E 201
Well, I didn't get stabbed in my sleep. I'm a little surprised, the innkeeper seemed like the type to do that. Seriously, though. What’s her problem? Needless to say, I booked it out of town as soon as the sun was up, and made it to Whiterun just before midday. That was the easy part, getting to Whiterun. The hard part was everything else.
I found the Mallus guy pretty quickly, which was something of a miracle considering there are at least two taverns in Whiterun and the city was pretty crowded. He directed me outside the city again, to this Honningbrew Meadery place, and actually gave me the details. That was nice to know.
Anyway, the plan was that I was supposed to get in, get hired to clear out the pest problem, and poison the mead that this guy was planning to serve to the Whiterun captain of the guard with the pest poison. You can probably imagine how I felt about that. Killing someone who deserves it or killing someone in self-defense is one thing. Killing someone who's generally a good person is another entirely, and I really didn't want to do this, but… well, I suspected Maven Black-Briar was not someone I wanted to cross, and I doubted Mercer would pass up an excuse to kick me out.
In any case, once I got to the meadery, I found out very quickly that the guy in charge, Sabjorn, was, for lack of a better description, a nasty piece of skeever shit that I had no problem ruining. He hired me to clear out the pests, gave me the poison, and… well, as it turns out, I completely underestimated what everyone meant by “pest problem”.
Let's put it this way: I never want to see a skeever again. Ever. There were so many skeevers down there that I’m definitely going to stop by the local alchemist’s place for a Potion of Cure Disease, because skeevers carry so many diseases that they're probably responsible for a lot of people biting the dust. They're easy enough to deal with alone, but these ones weren't alone. They were in packs, and there was a crazy mage living with them who was apparently breeding a skeever army, if his journal was any indication.
Anyway, I poisoned the skeever nest, sneaked in and poisoned the mead, then headed back to where the Sabjorn guy was. As it happens, Mallus was there by now, too, and so was the man I assumed was the guy who was about to get poisoned. As the Sabjorn guy started going on and on about how amazing his mead was, I tried not to look at the captain guy, because I didn't want to watch this.
Well, as it happens, I shouldn't have been worried. Although the poison was more than enough to deal with a skeever nest, it wasn't anywhere near deadly for a person. Considering how much of an arse Sabjorn was, I had no problem whatsoever with watching him get arrested for trying to poison the captain guy. Honestly, though? I'm still glad the captain didn't die. He seemed like a pretty decent sort.
After that, Mallus seemed pretty happy with the situation, and after hearing what had been going on between him and Sabjorn, I was too. Not going into details, but… he definitely had this coming. Mallus had no problems with giving me the key to Sabjorn’s office, and I found some sort of promissory note with the same symbol from Goldenglow on it. I'm copying it in here now:
Within the enclosed crate, you'll find the final payment. As we discussed, Honningbrew Meadery should now begin brewing mead at full production. In regards to your concerns about interference from Maven Black-Briar, I can assure you that I'll do everything in my power to keep her assets and her cronies at bay. This is the beginning of a long and successful future for both of us.
Once again, it wasn't signed. This is beginning to feel like a conspiracy or something, but you know what? I'm going to figure this out if it kills me. I probably shouldn't, I probably should get out while I can, but… I'm tired of running. The Thieves Guild… it might be a literal den of thieves, but it's something. And I like enough people here that I don't want to just leave.
So… I guess I'm going to be trying to solve a conspiracy now? That’ll be fun. I'm going to just pass out now, though, because I got next to no sleep last night due to a possibly homicidal innkeeper and I nearly passed out three times while writing this already.
Here's to hoping I get more sleep in the future, and that I didn't just jinx it.
Chapter 11: Turdas, 28th Last Seed, 4E 201
I definitely jinxed it, because I haven't slept since Tirdas and I think I'm beginning to see things. Now that I'm back in Riften I really want to just sleep for an entire day but I don't want to miss today’s entry, too, so I'm going to do that real quick. In my defense, I usually write this when I'm about to go to sleep, and I know you're probably wondering what in Oblivion could be so important that I’d willingly miss sleep over it. Well… it's a long story. It's a really long story.
And anyway, I didn’t miss sleep willingly.
Before you ask, no, it's not the Thalmor, and honestly I’d almost prefer the Thalmor to this, because at least then I’d have some idea what I'm doing. So… I'll start from the beginning, and yes I'm doing this now because I'm afraid if I don't write it down it’ll turn out to be some bizarre dream. Or... something. It seems kind of ridiculous now, writing it down, but you know what? Damn it, I need someone I can tell everything to, and yes, an inanimate object called my journal counts as someone I can tell everything to. I guess I could be writing to whoever might read this in the future, once I'm gone myself, but truthfully? I can't see anyone being interested in the misadventures of a common thief.
Then again, I guess there's what went down Middas... I should probably just tell you what it is. Sorry. So, I was heading out of Whiterun bright and early Middas morning, when I happened to overhear someone ranting about a dragon. Of course, I just had to be curious, and walked over to see what was going on. A battle-scarred Dunmer warrior with an authority to her voice was addressing these guards about a dragon that was apparently attacking the “western watchtower” right now.
Obviously I wanted absolutely nothing to do with another dragon, the one in Helgen was bad enough, so I made a mental note to stay well away from that place and started walking away. Only problem was, battle-scarred Dunmer noticed me, and asked if I could fight. I shrugged, moved to leave, and I probably should have just said no because the next thing I knew I was going to the watchtower to fight a dragon and probably die in the process.
Good news: I didn't die. Well, I'm clearly alive to write this, so hopefully that was obvious, but anyway. I tried to stay out of the path of the dragon’s fire, and when it landed I alternated between dual-casting Flames and whacking the thing with a war axe I definitely hadn't ‘borrowed’ from the local blacksmith. I really don't think I was that much help, because by the time the dragon finally collapsed, the Dunmer and I were the only ones still standing. So don't count this as any sort of guide to fighting dragons.
Also good news: the dragon died. Pretty much all of the guards kicked the bucket as well, except for one who saw what happened next. I'm... not exactly sure what happened myself, but one thing’s for sure. I'm not going anywhere near Whiterun anymore, not after that. Not for a while, anyway.
Apparently, I'm something called “Dragonborn”. I didn't ask for details, mainly because I booked it at the first opportunity. I rode all day and all night to get back to Riften, took a nice easy job from Vex right here, and did it. It was when I was on my way back that I heard it. I think everyone did.
The ground shook, and I heard someone, or maybe several someones, call something I'm still trying to figure out. I think it was “Dovahkiin”. I… guess it's a Nord thing. Once I gave Mercer the promissory note thing, I did some digging, and got the most interesting information from Brynjolf. (That's why I'm pretty sure it's a Nord thing, he's the only Nord I know.) So… I'll put what he told me here.
Apparently, being Dragonborn means you have dragon blood within you, which I'm pretty sure means one of my ancestors banged a dragon, or maybe the other way around. I'm trying not to think too hard about that part.
Really though, that would be a huge size difference! Apparently this Dragonborn thing is a really big deal, because Brynjolf, the guy who literally always seems cool, calm, collected, the guy who, as best I can tell, rarely gives a shit, sounded legitimately excited about this. Brynjolf. Excited. Never thought I'd put those two words in the same sentence, but what do you know? People are weird. Especially Nords.
Brynjolf also happened to mention that the “Dovahkiin” thing was probably the Greybeards. They’re a group of monks that live on or near the top of the tallest mountain in Skyrim and maybe Tamriel too, the Throat of the World. Apparently they’re masters of “shouting”. Still not sure what that is, but… well. I guess I’m going to find out soon enough. I got Vex to give me a job in Ivarstead for tomorrow, which is conveniently located at the foot of that mountain. Since I’m in the area… I might as well see what those Greybeards want with me. I have to admit, I am kind of curious to see a group of monks that can yell so loudly that all of Skyrim can hear them. But, well…
What if this is a mistake? The guard who saw what happened after the dragon fell… he said I absorbed its soul. Apparently that’s a thing the Dragonborn can do. But… did I? How would a regular guard know what absorbing a dragon’s soul looks like, anyway? And the Dunmer didn’t seem to care, at all, so…
Well, mistake or no, I’ve got to figure this out. Well… maybe I don’t have to, but I’m curious, and damn it all, I know I’ll regret it for the rest of my life if I don’t figure this out. Same goes for the mysterious person targeting the Guild, but I feel like Mercer won’t tell me anything I don’t need to know, so… I might as well do what I can now.
I’m heading out to Ivarstead tomorrow morning, or possibly tomorrow afternoon. As I said, I desperately need to catch up on my sleep. I’m still seeing things that I know can’t be real, people that are long dead… and I don’t want to deal with that any longer than I have to.
Chapter 12: Fredas, 29th Last Seed, 4E 201
I got to Ivarstead surprisingly fast, and I would have made really good time if I hadn’t slept until midday back in Riften. That was a mistake. I think Mercer hates me even more now, if that’s even possible, and while I think I avoided any punishment this time, I don’t want to push my luck. If I want to sleep in from now on, I’m not doing it in the Guild, that’s for sure. Not with Mercer anywhere in the vicinity.
Regardless, I stole the garnet Vex wanted me to within a matter of minutes - it was actually really simple, because nobody was in the house or near it - and then headed towards the path up the mountain, to the Greybeards, to… to answers that I really need. I offered to help take this one man’s supplies up for him, since he couldn’t make the trek, and learned some things that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise, like how the Greybeards’ monastery is called High Hrothgar, and a lot of people take up supplies and other non-perishable things when they make the pilgrimage. I was wondering how the Greybeards survived up there.
Anyway, I acted like I was a pilgrim. The man I talked to showed no sign of thinking I was anything other than what I said I was, although he was so, so excited when I mentioned the “Dovahkiin” thing. So were some others I ran into on the trip up. They were all Nords. I don’t want to disappoint them all, because… the Dragonborn is supposed to be a Nord, and a warrior. Not an Altmer, and a thief. Definitely not an Altmer.
Anyway, the trip to High Hrothgar wasn’t an easy one. The wolves that showed up practically every couple steps weren’t hard to deal with, because they, like most others, weren’t remotely used to having Flames dual-casted into their faces. I mean, it works, and when I ran out of magicka the war axe I got in Whiterun did the trick. I think I might actually be getting somewhat decent at using it, although it’s not remotely quiet.
It was when I was almost halfway up that things got really difficult, and by that I mean a damned frost troll showed up literally out of nowhere.
Actually, it swung down from a ledge. I almost… I almost didn’t survive that. I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t had the sense to stop fighting and book it further up the mountain.
Clearly, running up a snow-covered mountain is an accident waiting to happen, but I was lucky enough that the troll stopped chasing me once I was far enough away, and then… then I found it. High Hrothgar. I took my time going in. I put the one man’s supplies in a chest at the front, I looked down from the mountain and looked upon Skyrim from above, and… then I went in.
The Greybeards… there were only four of them, and they were all old men with grey beards, unsurprisingly. Only one of them talked to me. He introduced himself as Arngeir, and asked me to, and I quote, “let us taste of your Voice.”
He really shouldn’t have been surprised by the blank look he got. He explained in greater detail then, that… that if I’m Dragonborn, I should be able to Shout in the language, the Voice, of dragons. I’d never done that, and I told him as much. Honestly, I was expecting to get unceremoniously thrown out at that point, but… I wasn’t.
Arngeir nodded, apparently understanding perfectly, and, facing a wall, asked me to copy him. Then he shouted. Well, no, he Shouted, and I’m capitalizing that because Shouting is very clearly different than shouting. He Shouted a single word, and I thought I heard the wall crack, but I clearly heard the word: fus.
I took a deep breath, told myself rather sternly that I could do this, and Shouted. Fus. It worked, but I… uh, may have accidentally shouted at Arngeir. He stumbled back, but nodded, and when he straightened up again, he looked pleased. I’ll never forget what he said after that.
"Dragonborn, it is you. Welcome to High Hrothgar."
By the time I’d gotten to High Hrothgar, of course, it was almost dark, so… I’m staying the night here. Arngeir said he and the other Greybeards would teach me more in the morning. I hope… I hope I can learn this right. I hope I can do this right. I hope I can be the Dragonborn Skyrim needs.
Chapter 13: Loredas, 30th Last Seed, 4E 201
I’m back in Riften now, and I got back pretty late. Vex asked me where I’d been when I showed up, I simply gave her the garnet she’d sent me after as an answer. Apparently that was fine. I heard from Delvin later on that there are thieves who take one job and disappear for a month afterwards, which explains why Vex wasn’t too pissed that I was only gone for a couple days.
Brynjolf seemed pretty busy, but he mentioned Mercer was looking for me, again. I’ll go find him tomorrow morning, I’m not dealing with him now. That guy’s a royal pain in the arse, let me tell you… anyway. I’ll back up a bit.
As it happens, the Greybeards actually had no problem with me sleeping in some, or at least Arngeir didn’t. The others - Einarth, Borri, Wulfgar - don’t talk. Arngeir said it’s because their Voices are too strong, and although I’m definitely not going to ask Arngeir this, ever, I’m curious if that makes him the weakest or the strongest. If I’m being honest, he probably would say something along the lines of “weak and strong are merely objective” or something else like that, anyway.
I learned another word of the fus shout, ro, and after practicing some with it, I learned another shout. Wuld. Oh, yes, the words actually mean things. Fus means force in the dragon language. Ro means balance. Wuld means whirlwind. And… the words do things, really cool things.
Fus ro is part of the Unrelenting Force shout, or at least that’s what Arngeir called it. Adding more words makes the shout stronger. Wuld, on the other hand, is part of the Whirlwind Sprint shout. So I’m basically shoving people or things by yelling - Shouting - fus ro, and covering ground fast with wuld. It's cool. I like Shouting, even if I don't ever plan on using either of them in public, ever.
According to Arngeir, my final test is to go to the tomb of Jurgen Windcaller, the founder of the Greybeards, and retrieve his horn. Arngeir marked the place on my map. It's on the other side of Skyrim, between Solitude and Morthal, and although I really don't want to go anywhere near Solitude, I'll do what I have to. I'll see if Vex or Delvin have any jobs up there, that way I at least have an excuse to be around there, and… wait.
I still have to talk to Mercer.
Damn. I'll see what he wants in the morning.
Chapter 14: Sundas, 31st Last Seed, 4E 201
So, as it happens, Mercer figured something out. (I'm a little surprised.) Apparently, the trail leads to an Argonian the Guild used to have dealings with in, wait for it, Solitude. What are the odds? The lizard's name is Gulum-Ei, and although I'm definitely going looking for him, I'm not exactly looking forward to Solitude, even if it's close to where I need to go for my... other business. Skyrim's Thalmor Embassy is close to Solitude, and I… what if someone recognizes me? What if…
Well, you know what, it's not like I’m waltzing right into the place and praying no one recognizes me. Now that would be an accident waiting to happen. I don't want to be traveling at night, for obvious reasons, so I took another Riften job from Vex and did it today. I'm getting kind of good at this thieving thing, although I still can't pick pockets to save my life. Brynjolf can attest to that.
He worked on that with me for an hour or so, and he says I'm improving, but “improving” doesn't mean “good”, not by a long shot. At least I'm getting better. I'm still not sure how I managed to successfully slip that ring into that one merchant’s pocket, honestly. That was pure luck. Speaking of that merchant, I saw him in the marketplace today. I'm glad they let him out, I was worried that… well, it was just a ring. So he can't have been in too much trouble.
I bought some things from the merchant, nothing I actually needed, but… health potions, magicka potions, and the like. I still feel bad about framing him, after all, and I'm likely going to need the supplies if I'm going into a Nordic tomb. Let's put it this way: from what I've heard, Nords don't like to stay dead, especially not when the living trespass. They come back as Draugr, and they're nasty. (Direct quote from Brynjolf, I not-so-subtly asked him about a Nordic tomb - acting like I was going tomb-raiding, and he very strongly warned me against it.) Speaking of Bryn... the guy who runs the Ragged Flagon, I think his name's Vekel? I overheard him talking to someone about "Brynjolf's new protege".
I think they might have been talking about me. Not sure how to feel about that. I'm still pretty sure nobody knows I'm an Altmer, at least, although it's probably common knowledge by now I'm no Nord. I'm fine with that. Vex is an Imperial while Delvin and Mercer are Bretons, so clearly they're pretty open to non-Nords. Still... nobody likes the Altmer, and I can't say I blame them. The vast majority of my people are a disgrace to the rest.
Anyway, I still need to get into that tomb place. Arngeir said it was called Ustengrav, and while I know where it is, I don't really know what I'll be facing inside. Probably Draugr, probably a lot of Draugr, and while I'd like to think I'm a fairly capable fighter, I don't think dual-casting Flames is going to work particularly well on the undead, and if I wind up having to face a significant amount at once...
I may need to get some help. I've heard that mercenaries sometimes hang around taverns, and Riften’s definitely out since I suspect the Guild has eyes on everything around here. The quickest way to Solitude is the pass through the mountains, and… through Whiterun. Well, I'd rather be there than Solitude, and it isn't like everyone will suddenly know I'm the one the Greybeards were summoning. There were two people who saw me kill that dragon, one of whom didn't give a shit about that fact, and the other was half-dead and probably delirious.
As long as I keep my head down and don't attract attention, and definitely don’t do any Shouting, I should be fine. I'll head out tomorrow, preferably before dawn. I don't want to stay in Riverwood any longer than I have to. The innkeeper there kind of terrifies me a lot, so I'll be just passing through.
Today went pretty well, I think, even if it was relatively uneventful. Well, arguably, an uneventful day is a good thing. I ran into a few wolves on the way to Whiterun, but nothing I couldn't handle, and Winter and I made it to Whiterun just before dark. It was a little too close for comfort, so… I guess next time I’ll just brave the innkeeper. She can’t possibly be that bad.
Anyway, I left Winter at the stable and headed into the closer of the two taverns, the Drunken Huntsman. I did some asking around, and was soon directed to a Dunmer going by the name Jenassa. We talked, I told her what I needed her help doing, and she agreed to five hundred septims up front and half of whatever loot we might find in the tomb.
She said it was a fair price, and I'm inclined to believe her. Even if it isn't, she seems capable, and… I guess we’ll see what happens. Jenassa agreed to meet me outside the city tomorrow at dawn, so I should probably get some sleep now.
One more thing before I settle in for the night: the lone guard who survived the dragon talked. All sorts of rumors are going around now about who and what the Dragonborn is, none of which are accurate. The closest one I heard was from a drunk guy who joked that the Dragonborn was a mage, and clearly didn't think he was anywhere close to the truth.
Well, you know what they say. Many a truth is spoken in jest. Just for the record, I am no warrior, and I am no mage, although I’m at least halfway decent with magic. I am an Altmer and I am a thief, and I have no intention of giving anyone any reason to connect either of those to the Dragonborn, ever.
Maybe someday, when I'm long dead and gone, someone will read this, and know the truth. But until then, nobody is reading this except me, and that's not going to change.
The month of Hearth Fire is referred to in several different ways across the various Elder Scrolls games, ranging from Hearthfire to Heart Fire to Heartfire. As best as I can tell, it's something of personal preference how it's referred to, so to keep things consistent, Lora refers to the month as Hearth Fire. Two other months are inconsistently referred to with either one word or two words, and they will be referred to as Frost Fall and Mid Year respectively, due to the vast majority of the months having two words. As I said, the variation is likely due to personal preference, so another character in the same universe might refer to the same months quite differently.
Chapter 16: Tirdas, 2nd Hearth Fire, 4E 201
Jenassa has proved to be an excellent traveling companion. Not that I have much experience with traveling with anyone beside myself (and more recently, my horse), but she seems like a decent sort overall, and a capable fighter for sure. You see, I wanted to get to Morthal by nightfall, so that we’d have all day to go through the tomb place. We succeeded in that, I’m writing this in the inn here. But anyway.
Usually, you come across wolves here and there, or bandits, or something on the road that really doesn’t want to let you pass. For the majority of the trip, it was surprisingly uneventful. Then, when we were a good distance away from any sort of civilization, guess what showed up? That’s right, a dragon. Of all the things that possibly could have showed up…
Anyway, Jenassa didn’t seem particularly fazed when I started fighting it. In fact, she helped. A lot. Truthfully, I’m not sure I could have defeated the thing on my own, but anyway. What I really appreciated, though, was that she didn’t even seem too surprised when I absorbed the thing’s soul. Here's how that exchange went, more or less:
"So you're that Dragonborn thing all the Nords have been talking about?"
So, she’s well aware by now that I’m the… Dragonborn. Still trying to wrap my head around that fact myself, but anyway, Jenassa seems fine with it. I asked her to keep it a secret, and I think she will. I hope she will, anyway, but as I said, she seems like a decent sort. More decent than some others I know, or have known in the past, anyway...
The tomb where Jurgen Windcaller was buried, the place with the horn, is called Ustengrav, and it’s not too far to the northeast. I'll be able to get to Solitude from there afterwards, too. Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.
We’ll be heading out tomorrow morning.
Chapter 17: Middas, 3rd Hearth Fire, 4E 201
If the Divines have a sense of humor, it definitely errs on the sadistic side of things, because making me go through an entire dungeon just to find that what I’m looking for isn’t even there is really a cheap move. Seriously, though, that place was torturous, and then not even getting what I came for… I’ll back up a bit.
So, someone else got to the horn before me, for lack of a better description, and they left a note, and I’m officially pissed.
I need to speak to you. Urgently.
Rent the attic room at the Sleeping Giant Inn in Riverwood, and I’ll meet you.
There are so many things wrong with this that I can’t even list them all, but I’m damn well going to try. If they needed to speak to me, and they knew I was coming to Ustengrav, then why not wait in this chamber instead of leaving a note? Why not wait outside, actually? Because come on. This isn’t cool. This is the absolute opposite of cool.
Also, of all the places this mysterious bastard could have had me meet them, it had to be Riverwood. It just had to be Riverwood, the place with the possibly homicidal innkeeper who I definitely don’t want to deal with again ever in my life, and besides, I don’t think that inn even has an attic room. I might be wrong, but still. Not cool. Not cool at all.
One more thing. Whoever left this note? They’re no friend of mine, not after pulling a stunt like that. But… well, I guess one good thing came out of all this, at least. Jenassa seems pretty happy with her share of the spoils from going through an underground crypt full of Draugr, and while I’m going to be heading on to Solitude tomorrow morning, she’s going back to Whiterun.
She did say that if I needed her again, I’d know where to find her, and I do. Chances are I will need her help again in the future, but not now. For now, I’m staying overnight in Morthal again, and then I’m finding a lizard named Gulum-Ei and figuring out what he knows about Goldenglow and Honningbrew Meadery and the rest of this conspiracy. I... may have a few theories. I've had a lot of time to think on this, mostly while on the road. Some of these sound stupid, actually most of them do, but you know what? I'm writing them down anyway. If I'm keeping a journal, I might as well make it entertaining.
I've heard rumors that the Thieves Guild and the Dark Brotherhood are connected, so... maybe there's something with the Dark Brotherhood here? I suppose it's possible, but for one thing the Dark Brotherhood has fallen by the wayside, and for another, they're a lot more... murdery. The Guild doesn't kill, and I doubt they'll ever know how much I appreciate that. But I suspect if the Dark Brotherhood was involved, there would be a lot less trickery and running around in circles and a lot more dead bodies.
Then again... I've also heard that the Guild isn't at its best. I found - okay, stole - a book some time ago that was about the fall of the Guild, aptly named 'Fall from Glory'. The author supposedly infiltrated the Guild to figure out things, and I'm actually rather curious as to what happened to him(?) after he published this book, but anyway. That's for another time. As best as I can tell, not too long in the past, the Guild was extremely powerful. Then, a few decades ago, everything started going downhill. The book posed two theories.
The first theory was that the previous guildmaster (I'm assuming the book was talking about the one before Mercer) was murdered by someone within the Guild. Presumably he was a big deal. The second was that there's some sort of curse going around, and while I'm not particularly superstitious myself, I know better than to discount something's existence simply because it doesn't seem possible. Magic doesn't seem possible, but clearly it is. Me being some prophesied Nord hero definitely shouldn't be possible. Besides, I've heard the curse thing before, from Delvin.
Anyway, I'm thinking that if the previous guildmaster was murdered, there had to be a reason for that. Maybe there was a schism in the Guild, and that led to the previous guildmaster's death? Maybe the Guild I know is one side of that schism, and the other is behind this whole conspiracy thing. But if there was a schism... then what was it about? Thieving tactics? Wait, if the previous guildmaster was murdered... maybe the Dark Brotherhood is involved?
Alright, I'm getting way too into this. Whatever's going on, I seriously doubt the Dark Brotherhood is involved. There hasn't been enough murder for that. And whatever's going on, it can wait for tomorrow, because I'm tired. And as for meeting the sick bastard who stole the horn? That can wait even longer.
I’ll stop by Riverwood on the way back to Riften. If this bastard wants to talk to me, fine, but he’s waiting his damn turn. I’m not going out of my way for this, and I've got better things to do than running all over Skyrim. Then again, I'm running all over Skyrim anyway... but that's beside the point. If I have to run all over Skyrim, I'm doing it because I want to, not because I have to. Does that make sense? I'm honestly too tired to care at this point. Excuse me while I go pass out.
Chapter 18: Turdas, 4th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
The lizard was not cooperative in the slightest, let me tell you. First I sneaked into the damn Blue Palace to steal a case of some classy “firebrand wine” for him, and got basically nothing in return. Fun fact, sneaking into the Blue Palace when there's a civil war going on is a great way to get mistaken for an assassin. I mean, come on. Clearly I'm no assassin, right? Unfortunately, the palace guard didn't share my sentiment, so I barely got out in one piece - but hey, I got the goods. Naturally, the lizard took the wine and split, apparently thinking I wouldn't be dumb enough to follow him. He was wrong.
I was most certainly dumb enough to follow him, and I followed him all the way through the damn East Empire Company’s warehouse and a bandit hideout as well before he finally, finally cracked. Unfortunately, what he told me was definitely not worth nearly getting myself killed several times over today.
When I'd met him before, and given him the wine, he’d only told me that the person I was looking for was a woman with a massive grudge against Mercer. Right. That could have been anyone, including me, because Mercer is not a particularly likeable person. Seriously, though, the guy's an arse.
How did someone like him even get to be Guildmaster? Anyway, once I followed the lizard far enough in… he gave me a name.
I think I'm spelling it right? He said the name like I should know who that is. I didn’t, and I still don’t, but that was clearly all I was getting out of him with regards to identity, so… now I’m even more confused, and honestly rather curious. Who is this Karliah woman, and why does she hate Mercer so much, and why did Gulum-Ei seem so terrified of her? I don’t know what’s going on, and I probably won’t for a while, but he did say something else.
When I asked where I could find this mysterious "Karliah", Gulum-Ei muttered something about “where the end began”. Naturally, I had no idea what he was talking about. Maybe someone else in the Guild will. Here’s to hoping, anyway. Probably Mercer will, but the real question is if he’ll tell me. Bryn probably will tell me if he knows anything, but with my luck, he won't.
I'm still curious, though, so I'm heading out first thing tomorrow morning. I don’t want to stay in Solitude any longer than I have to, and besides, I’m curious about this. Then again, you know what they say… curiosity killed the cat.
Well, I’m no Khajiit, so I’ll be fine.
Besides, there’s more to that saying. Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back. So we’ll see what happens. Riften is unfortunately a good three days’ ride away, technically two except for that stop I probably should make in Riverwood.
Damn it. Note to self: give whoever left that note a piece of my mind when I find them.
Chapter 19: Fredas, 5th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
I made good time, and made it to Whiterun by nightfall. Since I was there, I stopped by the Drunken Huntsman, and sure enough, my friend Jenassa was there. She seemed glad to see me, and a little disappointed that I didn’t have anything for her to “help me with”. Her words, not mine. She’s… a little odd, although I’m glad I’ll have her at my back if I need her. Let’s put it this way: I would not want to have her as an enemy.
Even now, I’m reminded of something Jenassa told me on the way to Ustengrav. She offhandedly mentioned that she’d thought about becoming a bandit, but decided she liked clean clothes and fresh mead. She said it like a joke, but… somehow, I get the feeling it wasn’t. If that truly is the case, then maybe we’re more alike than she thinks.
I’m not particularly tired tonight, even though it’s long after dark, so I think I’ll practice my magic some before I go to bed. No fire inside, obviously, because that’s an accident waiting to happen. Simple spells, like Candlelight, Magelight, and the like. Things I can practice easily inside, without attracting any unwanted attention.
Even so, I think I’ll sign off now. We’ll see what happens with Riverwood tomorrow. I'm... not exactly looking forward to it.
Chapter 20: Loredas, 6th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
So I’m not a particularly violent person, even if I like fire a bit more than I probably should. Sure, I have violent tendencies with the Thalmor, but they’re the Thalmor. Nobody likes the Thalmor, especially not here in Skyrim. The Imperials don’t like the Thalmor, the Stormcloaks don’t like the Thalmor… even the Thalmor don’t like the Thalmor. It’d be almost pitiful, except that they're the Thalmor, and after what they did...
Anyway, I might not be a particularly violent person, but I legitimately want to stab the person who sent me on that wild goose chase, or set her on fire. Setting her on fire would probably be more painful, actually, but I won’t be doing either because unlike her, I have standards.
So, I arrived in Riverwood relatively early today, because, as it happens, Riverwood actually isn’t all that far from Whiterun. I got to the inn, tried to avoid pissing off the potentially psychotic innkeeper, and asked for the attic room. My memory served me well, apparently, because there was no attic room. The innkeeper gave me a room anyway, and after I’d been sitting on the bed for a good five minutes, wondering what I was even doing, the person who I was supposed to be meeting came in.
Of course, with my luck, the person who’d left that note, somehow taken down a considerable amount of bandits and Draugr in Ustengrav while still leaving a lot for Jenassa and I to deal with, and somehow gotten past the very Dragonborn-specific trials within, was the innkeeper. The psychotic one. She made the mistake of giving me the horn first, and then not telling me anything except to trust her. Right. Like I was going to do that.
The last time I trusted someone blindly to do the right thing, someone I loved with all my heart and soul died. Because of me. So, there was no way in Oblivion I was going to do that. I asked questions. She wouldn’t answer, because apparently she thought I was a Thalmor agent. Right. The Thalmor aren’t that subtle, and besides, they wouldn’t go to a backwoods village like Riverwood on a whim. I told her as much, along with some rather choice insults, and then told her that unless I was getting answers, right away, I was going to take the horn back to the Greybeards.
I’m going to be completely honest here, I was half-expecting her to stab me, not that I haven’t been half-expecting that for some time. Instead, she shrugged, and said fine. She said that I’d need her eventually, and that I knew where to find her when I stopped being so stubborn. If I hadn’t been so mad, if I wasn’t still so mad, I would have laughed, because the one being too stubborn and too paranoid here was her, not me.
Well, okay, maybe I’m stubborn, and maybe I’m paranoid, but I’m also pissed off. If she wanted to get my attention that badly, she could have done it in a hundred different ways that wouldn’t have involved sending me on a wild goose chase. So I’m going to figure out what I’m doing without any help from her. It’s not like I need a psychotic innkeeper to tell me what to do, anyway.
I left Riverwood at around noon, and I’m staying the night in Ivarstead. I’ll make the climb up to High Hrothgar tomorrow, and if I’m lucky maybe I’ll get back to Riften by tomorrow night. Otherwise… I’ll figure it out. On my own. I don't need her help.
Chapter 21: Sundas, 7th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
Well, it’s official. I’m the Dragonborn, it's not a mistake, and the Greybeards seem to like me. Arngeir certainly does, even if he won’t answer my questions either. At least he gives a good reason for not answering my questions, unlike psychotic paranoid innkeeper lady. He says I still have more to learn as the Dragonborn, which I wholeheartedly agree with. Psychotic paranoid innkeeper lady just kept insisting that I could be with the Thalmor, which, as has already been established, I’m literally the furthest thing from. Seriously, though, if I was with the Thalmor, I wouldn't have gone without backup, and Riverwood would be crawling with Thalmor Justiciars right about now. Still not going back there, not unless I have no other choice.
Anyway… I know the final word to the Unrelenting Force shout now. It’s dah. The full thing, all three words, means force, balance, push, in the dragon language. In Dovahzul. It's honestly... really, really cool. So, the whole thing is... FUS RO DAH!
I just barely resisted the urge to actually shout that, out loud, in the middle of the Guild. Yeah, that would be a great idea. Shouting in here would be a great way to have to leave in a hurry, and I kind of like the Guild, so that's not happening.
You know, the last time I was at High Hrothgar, I distinctly remember being completely certain that I would never use any of these, but now? The way things are going… I think I might have to. At least no dragons have shown up,
yet. And with that, I just jinxed it. Watch a dragon show up tomorrow morning. As it happens, it’s a lot faster and easier going down the 7000 Steps than going up them, so I’m back in Riften, back with the Guild. Got there pretty quickly, so I did a quick job for Vex and then just hung out in the Ragged Flagon for some time.
When I got the chance, I asked Brynjolf who Karliah was. He looked at me like I’d asked if his mother was a mass murderer, or something along those lines, anyway, then proceeded to explain. Karliah… was a thief, with the Guild, and a damn good one too. She and the previous guildmaster, a man named Gallus Desidenius, were probably romantically involved - Bryn stopped here to make sure I knew this part was only rumor and hearsay, but he was pretty sure it was the truth - and twenty-five years ago, she murdered him, tried to murder Mercer, and disappeared without a trace.
Bryn insisted I tell Mercer as soon as possible, and I will, but he’s never around late at night, so… tomorrow morning. Even so, something doesn’t seem right here. Something feels... off, you know? Like there’s something I’m missing, something big, and if I don’t figure it out soon, I never will.
Well, whatever it is, I’ll figure it out in the morning. I’m tired.
Chapter 22: Morndas, 8th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
So Mercer Frey, the guildmaster who I’m pretty sure has two emotions, angry and angrier, seemed legitimately shocked when I told him what Gulum-Ei told me. That was definitely something new. Good news is, he knew what “where the end began” was supposed to mean. It’s a place, north of Windhelm and southeast of Winterhold, where Karliah murdered the last guildmaster and tried to murder Mercer. The place is called Snow Veil Sanctum, and guess what? It's a Nordic tomb, like Ustengrav, although I'm hoping it won't be quite as exhausting.
For some reason, Mercer wanted me to go with him. I’m not sure why. Maybe he finally doesn’t hate me anymore? Somehow, I doubt that’s the case… but anyway. He marked the place on my map, and I’m supposed to meet him there in two days’ time.
I legitimately had no choice in the matter, but I think if he’d given me a choice, the answer would have been yes. I did some more asking around this morning, and from what I’ve heard, the former guildmaster was the best thing that ever happened to the Guild, and then he died, and the Guild hasn’t been the same since. This guy got murdered, by the one he trusted the most, who he may or may not have been involved with.
Still trying to figure that out for sure.
With a story like that, you can bet I’m going to make sure this Gallus guy gets avenged. Everyone who was here before he died - which came down to only Bryn and Delvin, I'm not counting Mercer - thought really highly of him. Everyone who knew him still thinks really high of him, and he's been dead for decades. So... I set off pretty quickly, rode hard for most of today, and I’m spending the night in Windhelm. Tomorrow, I’ll make the rest of the trek on foot. The terrain’s not the greatest for horses, and it’s not all that far, so I’ll make it. The stables outside of Windhelm agreed to keep Winter and feed her and everything while I was gone, and I'll pay them when I get back.
As usual, my hair was covering my ears. I wonder if they'd have agreed if they knew I was Altmer? Considering that this is Windhelm, the literal heart of the Stormcloak Rebellion, I doubt they would have. When I came into the city, a couple of Nords were harassing a Dunmer, calling her all sorts of names... I may have paid both of them a visit after dark. This sort of thing is why I don't like the Stormcloaks. Sure, they're at least not being controlled by the Thalmor, but the vast majority of them are horribly racist.
I'm curious as to whether their leader is the same way, but I'm not curious enough to check. If my business ever forces me into a conversation with Ulfric Stormcloak, then that'll be that, and I'll know. Until I'm forced to choose a side, I'm going to stay neutral.
Anyway, that's enough about the Stormcloaks. Tomorrow, I'm meeting Mercer at Snow Veil Sanctum, and we're going to bring down Karliah, if all goes well. I hope all goes well. Tomorrow is going to be interesting if nothing else. We'll see what happens.
Chapter 23: Turdas, 11th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
Okay, so, first things first: Mercer Frey, you sleazy, backstabbing piece of skeever shit, you failed. I’m still alive, and Karliah and I are coming for you. You’re going to pay, and it’s going to be great. With any luck, you’ll die slowly and painfully, preferably with fire involved, and it’ll be great. But no matter what, you’ll get what you deserve. I’ll make sure of that. We'll make sure of that.
Now we’ve got that out of the way, I suppose I owe you an explanation. Missing one day’s entry is one thing. Missing two is another entirely, but I have a very good explanation. I’ll start from the beginning, from Tirdas, before everything went to Oblivion and I found out the hard way that trusting Mercer with my life was an almost fatal mistake.
So, I woke up bright and early, and headed out to the place. I got there in the middle of the morning, and while I’d thought I’d made pretty good time, Mercer was already there. He unlocked the door, said something vague about how Karliah was already here, and, for some reason, insisted I take the lead. Idiot that I was, I agreed, thinking he actually liked me now.
Although I hate to admit it now, we actually made a rather good team. The Draugr in the place didn’t stand a chance, and although some of them were already taken down, Karliah had left quite a few to screw with us. It was all going so well… and then, as I stepped into the final chamber first due to Mercer having insisted, it all went wrong.
I had just enough time to realize I’d been shot before I collapsed. When I came to, I could barely move, and my vision was incredibly blurry, but I could make out two figures: Mercer and Karliah.
Unfortunately for me, I was able to hear them perfectly. I listened in horror as Karliah accused Mercer of killing the old guildmaster, of killing Gallus, and when Mercer didn’t deny it, suddenly everything made sense. They looked like they were about to fight, but Karliah straight-up disappeared, and that’s when Mercer turned around and saw me watching, barely able to move.
You can probably guess what he did next.
The last thing he said to me was that he’d give Brynjolf my regards, and then he struck, and it all went black again. Honestly, I’m still surprised I’m not dead, but you won’t find me complaining about that, although… everything is different now, because I woke up this morning to find that Karliah, of all people, had saved my life.
She had no reason to do so. In fact, she probably shouldn’t have, but I’m glad she did. I finally got her side of the story, which, considering recent events, I’m a lot more inclined to believe. Karliah didn’t kill Gallus. Mercer did, and framed Karliah for it, and she’s been in hiding for the past quarter century. To clarify, she’s a Dunmer, so while a quarter century isn’t all that long in the long run… it’s still a long time.
Anyway, now I have even more reasons to bring Mercer down. Personally, I like Karliah. And yes, I know it’d be stupid not to like the person who just saved my life, but right now, she’s the only person I can trust. I can’t go back to the Guild, because if I do, Mercer will finish the job. So I offered to help Karliah find evidence that proves her innocence, so we both can go back. We’ll be leaving soon.
In case the fact that I was passed out for an entire day wasn’t any indication, I… was pretty close to dying. I can feel where Mercer struck me. Just one cut, but it was a big one, and I suspect it will never fully heal. It’ll probably scar, and while most of it won’t show, a good part of it was on my face. Strike that, it’ll definitely scar, but I’m... surprisingly okay with this. I guess… I guess I stopped caring about my appearance long ago.
Still, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the fact that I was essentially cut in half and survived. Everything feels strange, unnatural, and while I’m mostly healed by now, thanks to Karliah, I… don’t think I’ll ever feel the same, not completely. But that’s alright, because I’m not the same. I haven’t even been in Skyrim for a full month, and already everything’s changing too fast for me to keep up. But still...
Everything is different now.
Chapter 24: Fredas, 12th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
After giving Gallus’ skeleton a proper burial (or at least something better than being left to rot at the end of the dungeon) Karliah and I went to Winterhold. Presumably, there was someone there that Gallus used to know, that Karliah was still in touch with, and I was guessing on this but I figured that meant he didn’t have anything to do with the Guild anymore. I was right.
His name was Enthir, and he was a Bosmer from the College. It was… interesting, meeting up with him for the first time, seeing as Karliah wasn’t with me. Apparently I’m significantly less conspicuous, and while I wasn’t exactly thrilled about going alone, I saw her point. She’s the only Dunmer I’ve ever met with violet eyes. Actually, she’s the only person I’ve ever met with violet eyes.
Anyway, this Enthir guy was rather hostile - and not without reason, there’s a lot of history between the Bosmer and the Altmer and none of it’s good - right up until I mentioned Karliah, and then he pulled up a second chair in the inn, lowered his voice, and asked me what I knew of her. I told him everything. Well, maybe not everything, not quite. I told him everything connected to the Guild, and didn’t mention the whole Dragonborn thing, for… obvious reasons, not least of which being that it had nothing to do with the subject matter.
Karliah had given me Gallus’ journal to bring to Enthir, which was in… some really strange language I definitely didn’t understand, and no, it wasn’t the dragon language. That’s called Dovahzul, by the way, but anyway. I think Karliah was hoping Enthir would be able to translate it. Well, guess what? He wasn’t able to translate it. He was able to identify it, though, as the Falmer language. The Snow Elves, or more accurately the race that used to be the Snow Elves. Now they’re just… kind of pure evil.
Of course, they probably weren’t always like that. I remember reading once, long ago, that a Nord hero - Ysgramor, leader of the Five Hundred Companions - came to Skyrim and killed pretty much all the Snow Elves, probably because they killed his family or something like that. That sort of thing happens a lot in the legends. Anyway, the remainder fled underground, to the Dwemer, the Dwarves, but the Dwemer betrayed them and enslaved them.
No wonder the Falmer are so messed up. I guess they got the last laugh, though, because the Dwemer are long gone, although you won’t catch me setting foot in a Dwemer ruin unless my life depends on it. Rumor has it that their creations outlasted them by millenia, and are still in working order, ready to murder trespassers on the spot...
Sorry, where was I? Right. Gallus’ journal, apparently in the Falmer language. According to Enthir, he was learning it for some sort of big heist. That’s some serious dedication right there, but anyway, Enthir told me of someone who likely could translate the thing: a man named Calcelmo, court wizard of Markarth. Apparently he’s something of an authority on the Dwemer and Falmer, although I also heard - and I’m quoting Enthir directly here - that he’s very possessive over his work, and probably won’t let me use it.
So, I’m breaking in. Well, Karliah and I are. We’re sticking together for now, which is probably good. Stealing from an overconfident mage is not something I’d want to do on my own.
I can’t sleep. Every time I close my eyes, I see Mercer again, standing over me and ready to finish me off, and my eyes fly open again. I don’t know why I was able to sleep fine last night, maybe the aftereffects of that paralysis poison thing Karliah shot me with in Snow Veil Sanctum, but… I can’t sleep. I know I need to, and I’m almost at the point where I’m tempted to ask Karliah to hit me over the head with a stick, but… I’m not that desperate. Not yet.
Besides, it isn’t like she’d take me seriously. Nobody did before.
I know this can’t be real, isn’t real, and yet… damn it. I shouldn’t be letting that bastard affect me that much, but the truth of it is, he is. He definitely is. Apparently, when you nearly kill someone, they have nightmares of you. Who would have known?
I would have, but that’s… not important. And I didn’t think it could happen again.
I miss the Guild. I miss Bryn, I miss Delvin, I miss Vex, I miss everybody. There were several people that I… should have made an effort to know better. Like the Rune kid, he seemed nice. Not sure if that’s his actual name or not… if I ever have another chance in the Guild, I’m definitely asking him what’s up with that. Or the Bosmer. I never did catch his name, but he seemed like an overconfident bastard so I didn’t bother to ask. Probably still wouldn’t.
It’s just… damn. I haven’t even been in Skyrim for a full month, and I shouldn’t be so attached to a guild of thieves, but I am. I definitely am, and I miss them all. Vex might have been a bitch, but she was like that with everyone, and I liked her jobs a lot. They were nice and easy. Delvin had tougher jobs, but he was nice. And Bryn…
He was the one who saw what I was capable of, saw what I could do, from the beginning. He believed in me before anyone else in the Guild did. He helped me get better. I don’t even know if he knew what I was, and he definitely didn’t know who I was, but now… I don’t think he would have cared. He was too nice, for a thief. I don’t know what he saw in me. I might never know what he saw in me, now that... now that everyone thinks I'm dead.
The last thing Mercer said was that he would give Brynjolf my regards. I don’t want to think of how badly he’ll take this, what happened. Mercer will probably tell everyone that Karliah killed me, which is why he’d kill me for real before I could so much as set foot in the Flagon if I showed up. Me being alive will put some real holes in his story… which is why I need to stay that way. But still…
I wish there was some way I could tell Bryn, at least, that I’m alive. But I can’t, because if I know him at all, he’d confront Mercer about it, and… and I’d be responsible for his death, too.
I can’t deal with that again. So I can’t tell him. I can’t tell anyone. But it’s… it’s hard.
Damn it all, I gave myself one rule for Skyrim, and that was to not get attached. To anyone. Clearly, I failed, miserably, and now that’s coming back to bite me. But… I guess I do have an opportunity to fix that mistake now, although I really don’t want to take it. Since they all think I’m dead… I could leave, now, and hole out somewhere else. I could join the College of Winterhold, or try to, anyway. Then again, that Enthir guy would probably spill. I could try and find the Dark Brotherhood… okay, that’s not an option I’m willing to take. Thievery is one thing. Murder is another entirely.
If… if I fix this, if I rejoin the Guild… what happens after that?
I don’t know. I just don’t know.
I’m going to try to sleep again.
Chapter 25: Loredas, 13th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
So Karliah and I are… still on our way to Markarth. We’re camped out in the general vicinity of Whiterun, I have no idea where, but we’re going cross-country to avoid attention. Nothing wrong with that, I guess, although I always followed the roads for that reason. Few of the Thalmor thought I was dumb enough to travel by road, and the ones that did are dead.
It took Karliah less than a minute after the first time I opened my mouth this morning to figure out I hadn’t slept. I was a fool to think I was the only one Mercer failed to kill. As best as I can tell… he’s not the type to leave people alive. So we spent a good portion of today cursing his name, and although I have a rather colorful vocabulary myself, I think I learned a few new curses today.
That wasn't the only thing I learned today, because either Karliah is really good at reading people or I'm out of practice (or both), but she… was able to tell that I can't shoot a bow. (Then again, my blank look when she asked if I needed to restring mine probably told her that much.) So, I'm learning how to shoot now. I have no choice in the matter, but this is probably for the best. A bow is a lot more subtle than magic, anyway...
I'm going to… try to sleep. If I still can't, well, I might take Karliah up on her offer to knock me out. At least then I’ll get some form of rest.
Chapter 26: Sundas, 14th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
Markarth is officially the worst city I've ever been in and I never want to come back. Not only was it built by the Dwemer (so I'm half expecting the walls to try to kill me) but then there's the whole Forsworn issue. We'd barely been in the city for a few minutes before a woman got killed right in front of us, by one of the Forsworn.
I might have been able to save her if I was better with Restoration. The look on her face as she died… that look is going to haunt me for some time. Years, at least. Fortunately, Karliah had the sense to drag me out of there before the guards started questioning bystanders, but… well, as I said, I never want to come to Markarth again. Ever.
We’re in the inn now, Karliah sold the innkeeper a surprisingly believable story about the two of us being on our honeymoon - obviously neither of us swing that way, but then again all I had to do was nod along since she did all the talking - and then proceeded to gain the guy’s sympathy by freaking out about what… what happened. In the marketplace. With the Forsworn. And the woman.
I'm still having trouble sleeping, but… I think I'm getting better, slowly. And it's not like I'm any stranger to having nightmares.
Chapter 27: Morndas, 15th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
Alright, I’ll back up a bit. I met up with Calcelmo, who was so incredibly full of himself that I didn’t even feel bad about stealing his life’s work. And we didn’t even steal it, because what we were looking for was carved on a stone tablet. A literal. Stone. Tablet. I was not looking forward to dragging that monstrosity out, and clearly Karliah wasn't either, so we came up with a better idea: a rubbing. I mean, it worked, and it meant we didn't have to lug the actual thing out, but seriously. Why.
As it happens, if something is extremely heavy, chances are it's not getting stolen. I’m speaking from experience. Chances are it's also not getting stolen if you’re wearing it. I've heard rumors of thieves who can steal the clothes off your back, but I'm definitely not one of them, not by a long shot. I still can’t pickpocket to save my life.
Anyway, we’ve got the notes, and considering that neither of us wanted to spend any longer in Markarth than we had to, we’re on the road again. Back to Winterhold. Here’s to hoping Enthir can translate Gallus’ journal with this, because… well. If we can get the journal translated, we’ll be able to go back. Both of us.
And… I'll be able to see Bryn again. I hope he's doing alright. Truthfully, I'm not sure I want to know how he reacted to news of… my death. I just hope he hasn't done anything stupid, doesn't do anything stupid. If Mercer’s done anything, I'll…
Damn it. There's nothing I can do, there’s nothing either of us can do, not until we’ve got actual proof. And we won't have actual proof until we get Enthir to translate it, which won't happen until we get back to Winterhold, tomorrow.
Tomorrow can't come soon enough, because even then it’ll take time for us to get back to Riften. It's only a day’s ride from Winterhold, but my horse is still in Windhelm, and… you know what, I need to stop worrying about this. Worrying isn't helping things at all.
In other news… I mentioned that I couldn’t pickpocket to save my life? That’s why I wound up being the one distracting Calcelmo while Karliah lifted the key to his laboratory, with a few… other things. Like assorted spell tomes. Most of them were for simple spells - maybe for Nords? - but there were a few interesting ones. I wound up keeping two.
One of them was for a Firebolt spell, and although it’ll take some time to learn, it’ll be a nice upgrade from Flames. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be using Flames a lot, but there’s shooting fire from your hands - devastating if you’re cornered, not so great otherwise - and then there’s shooting fireballs from your hands that can travel a fair distance. Pretty big difference.
The other… was for a Bound Bow. As best as I can tell, learning the spell means that if I successfully pull it off, I’ll be able to summon a bow straight out of thin air, as well as some arrows. Only problem is, summoning things is Conjuration magic. I’m not good with Conjuration magic. I’m good at setting things on fire with Destruction, keeping myself alive with Restoration, and keeping myself hidden with Illusion. Conjuration isn’t something I’ve had any practice with for… years, I’d say. Not since I left the Isles.
But… I’ve been learning quite a lot since I came to Skyrim. I can pick a lock without getting caught red-handed or breaking too many lockpicks. I can fight at least decently with my war axe - actually, I lost my old one in Snow Veil Sanctum, long story involving a bunch of Draugr, but I found a new one pretty quickly in there that had a really sweet frost enchantment. (Although... how exactly are weapons that are older than me by millenia still effective?) And Karliah’s been teaching me to shoot.
So, probably by the time I master conjuring this bow, I’ll be able to use it. I hope that’ll be the case, anyway.
Okay, so, we’re camping out again, and although I couldn’t tell you exactly where we are, we’re somewhere between Whiterun and Markarth and we’re probably closer to Markarth than Whiterun.
I’m… going to try to sleep.
Maybe I won’t have to be knocked out this time.
Chapter 28: Tirdas, 16th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
I think Karliah can tell I'm anxious to get back to Riften. Just outside of Winterhold, she told me, and I quote, “whatever happens, we’re going to bring Mercer to justice. He’s going to pay for what he did.” I agreed. No matter what happens, no matter what he's done since he tried to kill me - and I'm hoping he doesn't have any reason to think he's failed yet - we’re going to bring him down. He's answering for everything he's done.
I just hope
everyone is okay. I hope Mercer hasn't done anything. I hope…
Okay, that's enough of that. Anyway, Karliah and I made it to Winterhold just before dark, and met up with Enthir in the basement of the inn. (I hadn't realized the inn had a basement, to tell you the truth.) Enthir confirmed what Karliah had been hoping - that Gallus’ journal incriminated Mercer. He wrote down the translation, and gave it to us.
We’ll be heading out in the morning.
Chapter 29: Middas, 17th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
We could have made it to Riften today if we’d had horses, but as it was, we only made it as far as Windhelm. Winter was still in the stable there, and she seemed pretty happy to see me. I was extremely happy to see her, that's for sure. In any case, we ride for Riften tomorrow. I've decided not to ask Karliah where she'll be getting a horse from. I'm pretty sure I know the answer already, if I’m being honest. I mean, we are thieves, so I’d be surprised if she didn’t steal one.
Speaking of Karliah… well, I’ll get to the point. Don’t get me wrong, I trust her with my life, mainly because she could have easily left me to die and didn’t. But I feel like there’s definitely something she’s not telling me. Yesterday, when we were getting the translation from Enthir, she asked if there was anything about Nightingales. Somehow, I got the feeling she wasn’t talking about birds.
Not long after I came to Skyrim, I remember finding a book called Nightingales: Fact or Fiction? and I remember having a laugh over the fact that some idiot thought nightingales didn’t exist. I mean, they’re cool birds. But… now, I kind of wish I’d opened the book and read it, because now I don’t think it was about birds.
I guess… well, we’ve got a long ride ahead of us tomorrow. I’ll see if I can get Karliah to tell me what in Oblivion these Nightingales are, because apparently Gallus’ journal went on about their failure to protect something called the Twilight Sepulcher. I’m... honestly rather curious, but then again, the last time I got curious about something and followed up on it, I nearly died courtesy of Mercer. So forgive me for being a little hesitant.
Speaking of Mercer… if he’s hurt
anyone I’ll kill him myself, slowly and painfully, and definitely with lots of fire involved.
Chapter 30: Turdas, 18th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
Today went better than expected, I think, although in other ways it also went worse than expected. But, overall, I think things went okay. I mean, I’m still alive to write this, clearly. The Guild knows who really killed Gallus, and what happened to Karliah and I. More importantly, both of us are back in the Guild and that's good. That's really good.
Damn, I missed
Bryn everyone. It’s good to be back, and although I’m a little hesitant to say this… the Thieves Guild is the closest I’ve had to a family for a long time. Since I left the Isles, for sure… sometimes I wonder. But going back, even undercover and only for a few days, would be a death sentence. And asking someone else to check… no. I’ll never know what happened after I left. That’s probably for the best. I'm not sure I want to know the truth.
In any case, Karliah and I arrived in Riften a bit earlier than I think either of us thought we’d get here, in the middle of the morning. The back way in… it was boarded up. That terrified me more than anything else, and I’ll admit it now… I was worried we were already too late. We went in the other way, the main way, through the Ragged Flagon - which was deserted, by the way - and into the cistern.
Karliah had agreed to take the lead, maybe because she was expecting what was waiting for us, more specifically who was waiting for us. Brynjolf, Vex, and Delvin. All with weapons drawn. All looking suspiciously like they wanted to murder Karliah on the spot. Before Mercer tried to kill me, I would have been the same way.
None of them even noticed me at first, which either meant that my stealth skills were improving or they were just that focused on Karliah, or possibly both. Maybe. Either way, things… almost didn't go so well. If I hadn't stepped in when I did… even then, I wasn't even sure me backing Karliah up would help.
Clearly, me backing Karliah up did help, because now everyone knows what Mercer’s done. He murdered Gallus, attempted to murder Karliah and I, and - I didn't know about this part - has been stealing from the Guild for years. Decades, even. Since before Gallus was killed, because his death was a direct result of him looking into what Mercer was doing.
Knowing all this, I’d say Vex was completely justified in wanting to kill Mercer on the spot. I felt the same way, and still do. Pretty much everyone agrees, I think: Mercer needs to die. Unfortunately, there's just one issue: Mercer hasn't shown up since the two of us left for Snow Veil Sanctum.
So… the others didn't even know I was supposed to be dead.
I'm not sure how I feel about that.
Anyway: we’re all trying to figure out where in Oblivion Mercer’s gone. Vex and Delvin are keeping an eye on the Flagon in case Mercer comes back - although I suspect if he does, he won't last very long. Karliah and Bryn are checking in with all his contacts - not a job I envy either of them, that's for sure. But mine’s… not exactly easy, either.
As it happens, Mercer has a house in Riften, although ‘mansion’ might be a better term for the place. I'm going in after dark, which is why I'm writing this now.
I did some asking around earlier, and I think I have my way into Mercer’s place. According to Bryn, he had some sort of escape ramp made from the second floor, and he figured if I can shoot the mechanism, the ramp will come down. I'll be putting that to the test soon.
I also heard that Mercer has someone guarding the place, some goon by the name of Vald. Apparently he used to know Vex well, really well. You know what I mean. But considering that she's threatened to stab Delvin with a lockpick at least three times while I've been nearby, and likely countless more while I wasn't, I'm a little curious.
Judging by Vex’s opinion on the whole thing, I suspect that a lot of alcohol or skooma and bad decisions were involved.
Anyway, I'm going to go sleep some, because if Mercer’s got any nasty surprises waiting for me, I'm definitely not getting any once I break in.
Chapter 31: Fredas, 19th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
Well, I wasn't wrong about not getting any sleep last night, minus what I got earlier. That was only a couple hours, tops, so I desperately need sleep at this point, but you know what? Getting good sleep can wait until after we’ve caught up with Mercer, because he's had a significant head start. Besides, two hours is better than nothing.
In any case, I think I might have been right about alcohol being involved with whatever went on between Vex and Vald, because Vald was… not what I was expecting, at all. I was coming up on Mercer’s place from where Bryn said the escape ramp was, and I didn't see anyone around, so I summoned my bow and aimed for the mechanism.
Surprisingly, summoning my bow went without a hitch - the first time it ever worked that well, actually - and I hit the mechanism on my second or third try. The ramp lowered, which was great, except for one little issue: I still had to somehow get through the fence. Also, it was then as I was contemplating how to get over this disturbingly high fence that Vald showed up.
I'd been hoping I could reason with the man, but when he charged at me, my instincts kicked in, and I just dropped my bow and began to dual-cast Flames into his face.
It worked, and he'd left the gate open behind him, so I headed in. From then on, it was relatively easy, even if it took a bit longer than I'd hoped for.
Good news: we know where Mercer is.
Bad news: we know where Mercer is.
He's going after the “Eyes of the Falmer”. They're apparently two big diamonds, and I mean really big diamonds. Gallus was searching for them before his death, and in Bryn’s own words, going after them now is just one last insult.
So, the three of us are going to stop him. Brynjolf and Karliah and I. Karliah’s still out looking for Mercer elsewhere, but once she gets back we’re going.
Until then, I think I might try and get some sleep while I can.
Chapter 32: Loredas, 20th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
So, I've sold my soul to a Daedric Prince, and I’m having trouble believing I actually thought this would be a good idea. Sure, Mercer might be powerful, but it's going to be three against one. Selling our souls might have been overkill… but then again, presumably Karliah already sold hers, so just me and Bryn.
I don't really feel any different, and I'm not sure if I should be worried or relieved about that, but yeah. Congratulations, me. I'm really scraping the bottom of the barrel here, because I just sold my soul to Nocturnal. I guess there are worse Daedra, but… still. I kind of like my soul. I'm not the greatest person and I suspect my soul reflects that, but… it's still my soul, and I'm still me.
And if I’m being completely honest, technically I didn't sell my soul exactly. Technically I’m just bound to guard this temple in life and in death and I get some cool powers in exchange… minus the fact that none of us get cool powers until we bring down Mercer.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m a Nightingale now. A servant of Nocturnal. That's what Karliah wasn't telling me, although now I think I can guess at why. She’s a Nightingale, has been for years. Gallus was one too. So was Mercer. Apparently, Mercer stole something called the “Skeleton Key” and that's why the Guild’s been doing so badly, and we need to get it back or things will get even worse than they already are.
But… well, as best as I can tell, I haven't screwed up
too badly with this. As I said, there are worse Daedra, and Karliah was right about one thing. If Mercer has the advantage, then we need all the help we can get. She's confident that with Nocturnal on our side, we can beat Mercer, but… I’m not sure.
That's why I picked up some extra things while we were still waiting for Karliah, supplies and the like, but one thing in particular: a scroll. If the merchant is to be believed, it will summon a fire atronach, and while I’d prefer to summon one on my own, I don't know the spell, and I’m still working on my Conjuration skills. They’re not exactly great. So… well. I'm hoping I won't need it. I’ll be keeping it as a last resort, but better to have something and not need it than need it and not have it, right?
Anyway, we’re almost to the place where the Eyes of the Falmer are supposed to be, or at least where Gallus thought they were. More importantly, this is where Mercer thinks they are. The place is, naturally, a Dwemer ruin. Remember when I said I never wanted to set foot in Markarth again? This place is ten times worse, and underground too. It’s called
Erkthingrand Irkingand Irkingthehand Irkngthand, and… well, I can’t say I’m looking forward to it, but Mercer has to be brought down.
If we don’t do the job, then who will? So I’m in, and truthfully, I’m the one with the least reason to be here. Karliah was blamed for her lover’s murder and cast out for decades. Bryn’s high up in the Guild, and Mercer took everything the Guild had left when he left. But me… yeah, Mercer nearly killed me, but he nearly killed Karliah, too. I might be a little too attached to the Guild for my own good, but Bryn’s pretty much the de facto leader at this point, since Mercer is a backstabbing piece of skeever shit.
Still… I’ve sold my soul to a Daedric Prince. I’ve sold my soul to Nocturnal.
This isn’t the sort of thing you can back out of.
What would Ganriil think of me now?
Chapter 33: Sundas, 21st Hearth Fire, 4E 201
Irkingand Irkngthand is a nightmare. The place is crawling with Falmer, Chaurus, and Dwemer automatons, we’re not even close to finding the Eyes of the Falmer or Mercer, and this is beginning to seem more and more like a trap the deeper in we go. Mercer’s had a significant head start by now, so he wouldn’t still be here unless he was waiting for us.
I guess… he wants to finish what he started. I don’t know how he could possibly have known I was still alive, but if nothing else, he’d know Karliah would come after him, and possibly others from the Guild if she managed to show them the truth. But… Divines, I don’t like admitting this, but I’m legitimately scared.
It’s been established I don’t like the dark. Well,
Ikringad Irkngthand is a nightmare for me in more ways than one, if you get my meaning. It’s dark, it’s underground, there’s Dwemer automatons everywhere… I don’t think I’m going to be sleeping down here. I’m surprised Bryn and Karliah can.
Truthfully, I’m only guessing at the date, but we’ve been down here for hours on end and since none of us wanted to face Mercer while trying not to fall asleep, we’ve kind of set up camp. Very temporary. I volunteered to take first watch, although if I’m being honest, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to sleep when Bryn’s turn comes. But this probably will be my only chance to write for today, so...
In any case, nothing’s shown up this entire time, not even Falmer, and while I really should be relieved about that, I’m really not. This feels suspiciously like the calm before the storm. Something’s going to happen eventually, and when it does… it’s not going to be pretty.
Actually, I think I see something on that wall over there, maybe some sort of writing…? Hold on. I’m going to check that out real quick. Be right back.
It was writing, and I was right. This is a trap, and we’re walking right into it. The writing on the wall was backwards, but it didn’t take me long to read it, and when I did…well, let's put it this way: I don't need to go back over there to remember what it says. And that's not a good thing. Here's what it said:
One step ahead
At this point, I’m looking forward to his death more than I am to getting out of this Divines-forsaken place, and that’s really saying something. This place is... terrifying, to say the least.
I think it’s almost time for me to wake Bryn up for his shift. I hope I can get some sleep. Divines know I need it.
Chapter 34: Morndas, 22nd Hearth Fire, 4E 201
I can’t believe we survived that. I really can’t. I’m still half-expecting something to go wrong, but then again, nearly drowning probably counted as the thing to go wrong right when we thought we’d won. So… it’s finally almost over. Mercer’s dead. All that’s left is for me to bring the Skeleton Key back to Nocturnal’s temple, the Twilight Sepulcher. Karliah gave me directions, and I’ll be setting off soon.
But seriously, we made it through
Irkngthand and defeated Mercer. Both of those are impressive on their own. Considering everything else… I’m honestly a little surprised we survived. Surprised, but relieved. I… was a little worried. And I was right to be. I don’t think I would have survived if it wasn’t for that scroll I brought as a last resort.
If you’re anything like me, or if you are me rereading this because you’re (I’m?) bored, then you’re probably wondering but Lora, it was three against one! That shouldn’t have even been close! Unless, of course, you are me, in which case you already know what went down, but as for anyone else who isn’t me…
By the time we caught up with Mercer, he’d already reached the Eyes of the Falmer - which are really big by the way, like I’m never looking at any other diamonds the same way again - and we thought (or at least hoped) that we had the element of surprise. Needless to say, we didn’t. Mercer pulled some Nightingale bullshit that made Bryn attack Karliah, and I had to face him. Alone.
Considering that the vast majority of my close-quarters combat is done with the element of surprise, you can imagine how well that went. I mean… I got a few good hits in before I collapsed and had to resort to the scroll. And honestly, I kind of wish I’d used the scroll to begin with. The atronach I summoned as a result of it brought down Mercer extremely quickly, possibly because it could see through his invisibility… also, the guy must have had like twenty invisibility potions or something because he kept attacking and then going invisible again.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to search him for them. I grabbed the Eyes of the Falmer, the Skeleton Key, and his sword for good measure, then rejoined the others. The room was beginning to flood from… honestly I wasn’t sure, but it definitely wasn’t a good sign. Our only way out being blocked was a much worse sign, and I… Divines, I thought we were all going to die there.
Of course, I’m writing this, so clearly I didn’t die there. Just before the water filled the place entirely, the cavern roof fell in, I shit you not. I’m not entirely what happened there, but… it’s nice to be lucky for once. We easily could have gotten hit and died there, too, and we didn’t get hit by falling rocks and die. So that was nice.
In any case, we’ve split up again. Bryn headed back to Riften because, this is a direct quote from him by the way, “Delvin and Vex running the Guild while we’re gone is an accident waiting to happen if we don’t want a repeat of the lockpick incident.” Unfortunately, I didn’t have the sense to ask what the lockpick incident was. Now I’m really curious. I’ll ask him when I get back.
In any case, I’m headed off to the Twilight Sepulcher to return the Skeleton Key. I’m camping out just outside where we got out - I don’t recognize the place, but it’s not Irkingad Irkngthand so that’s plenty good enough for me. Considering that this thing’s been missing for twenty-five years, I think it’s time it got brought back, and since neither of the others are going to do it…
Truthfully, I’m not sure where Karliah went. I didn’t ask, but considering… well, everything, I’d say she deserves some alone time at the very least. And anyway, she gave me directions to the Twilight Sepulcher, so I at least know where to go. It’s west of Falkreath, and… it’ll take some time to get there, especially on foot.
Maybe I can hitch a ride with someone? I don’t know where exactly I am, but
Irkngthand was in the Pale (I think). That’s one of the Holds in Skyrim, pretty sure there’s nine of them. Honestly I’m still learning the names of things around here, especially the less important places, but if I remember correctly, the capital - if you can call it that - is Dawnstar, and it’s somewhere to the north.
Wherever it is, it’s probably my best bet if I want to hitch a ride.
Chapter 35: Tirdas, 23rd Hearth Fire, 4E 201
It took me most of the day to reach Dawnstar, mainly because snow is terrible and really hard to travel in, especially without a horse, although I doubt it would be any easier with one.
Why is Skyrim like this?
In any case, I’m here now, sold off some of my loot from
Irkngthand, because apparently old Dwemer relics sell for quite a lot of money. Now I understand why Bryn insisted we grab everything we could… but anyway. There's only one issue: there's no one I can hitch a ride with, so I’m going to be doing a lot of walking over the next few days because unfortunately I left Winter in Riften like the complete idiot I am.
Well, I know there's a carriage I can take from Whiterun, but I have to get there first. That’ll be… fun, and will definitely involve more snow, but I should at least be able to get there by tomorrow night, hopefully.
If this sort of thing continues, the hard part of returning the Skeleton Key is going to be getting there.
Chapter 36: Middas, 24th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
Good news, I made it to Whiterun just before nightfall, and I've got someone willing to take me as far as Falkreath. Bad news, he's not leaving until the morning. Arguably that isn't such bad news, because I do probably need the sleep, but… well, I do want to get the Skeleton Key back where it belongs as soon as possible. I guess if the thing’s been missing for twenty-five years it can wait a few days, but still.
I've seen how bad things have been for the Guild. If selling my soul to a Daedric Prince is what I have to do for things to get better, then so be it. Skyrim’s Thieves Guild is honestly the closest thing I've had to a family for a long time.
I hope this can last.
Chapter 37: Turdas, 25th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
I'm in Falkreath. It's not a large town, and I’m going to have to walk all the way back to Riften - that's not going to be fun. But I arrived here around midday thanks to hitching a ride, and I think I’m going to wait until dark before heading to the Twilight Sepulcher. I've got a torch or several, I know spells for Candlelight and Magelight, I think I’ll be fine.
The Twilight Sepulcher shouldn't be too far from here, so… I should be fine.
I hope I’ll be fine.
I hope I didn’t just jinx it.
Chapter 38: Fredas, 26th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
I think y'all know that the Archive was acting up last night, but if you didn't, this is why I'm updating now instead of last night. (Don't worry, I'll update again tonight.) Either way, here's the next entry! Enjoy!
You know how people say that facing your fears is the best way to get over them? Apparently there's some truth to that, because after going through all that… I might not need to keep a torch on me at all times anymore. Maybe. Big maybe. But I really should start from the beginning.
I found out the hard way that using light at night is a really good way to attract unwanted attention, and also there was apparently an orc stronghold between Falkreath and the Twilight Sepulcher. So eventually I very reluctantly put out the torch, created a magelight, and sent it flying in one direction while I sprinted in the other, fully expecting to trip and break my neck. I did trip, but good news, I didn't break my neck.
Once I was far enough from the stronghold that I couldn't hear the orcs anymore, I risked another magelight, and found that I wasn't far from where I needed to be. From there, finding the Twilight Sepulcher was child’s play with Karliah’s directions, and… I headed in with absolutely no clue of what to expect.
Karliah had said that the place would be guarded by the spirits of Nightingales who had died but hadn't yet fulfilled their service to Nocturnal, so I wasn't surprised to run into one almost immediately. What I was surprised about was how there was only one. That, and the lone guardian’s identity. It took me a bit longer than I would have liked to figure out who he was, but it was something of a red flag when he mentioned being betrayed and killed by none other than Mercer Frey.
I met Gallus. I met his ghost, at least. And while we didn't get to talk long, he sounded incredibly relieved to hear that Karliah was okay. I didn't have the heart to tell him that she'd been blamed for his murder. In any case, he directed me to someone’s remains nearby, more specifically their journal, which gave hints as to how to get past the Pilgrim’s Path.
I'm not entirely sure I've explained this yet, so I’ll take the opportunity to do so now. Since the Skeleton Key was removed from the Twilight Sepulcher’s inner sanctum, the way that Nightingales normally get in is blocked. Karliah warned me that I'd have to traverse this other route called the Pilgrim’s Path, which is exactly what it sounds like, except a lot more Nocturnal-specific. You know, dark and gloomy. Basically nightmare material for me.
In any case, I guess I’ll copy the passages from the random dead guy’s journal that refer to the “tests” on the Path here, and then explain them.
“Shadows of their former selves, sentinels of the dark. They wander ever more and deal swift death to defilers.”
I found out the hard way that Gallus was not, in fact, the last of the Twilight Sepulcher’s guardians. He just was the last who wouldn't attack me on sight, unfortunately enough. There were two more in the first chamber, and I made the mistake of trying to talk to them. I took a knife in my gut instead.
These days I carry around an invisibility potion for emergencies, and I'm going to have to get a new one as soon as possible because I only escaped the pissed ghosts by draining that thing and booking it into the next room. The potion wore off as soon as I was through the door, but fortunately they didn't follow me, and I took a moment to heal myself and take a look around.
“Above all they stand, vigilance everlasting. Beholden to the murk yet contentious of the glow.”
I could see the door to the next chamber across the room, but I really should have waited a bit more before going for it. As soon as I wasn't bleeding from my ghostly stab wound again, I began to run for it - and promptly tripped over a dead bandit, falling forward into the light.
It burned. It burned like nothing else, and I was on the verge of passing out by the time I made it back to the shadows, to the dark. Once I'd healed myself enough that I wasn't about to fall over anymore, I looked around, and… well, if I'd been paying attention, I would have noticed that while there were a lot of dead bandits in this room, not one of them was in the shadows.
It's times like these that I’m extremely glad that I listened to Ganriil and… practiced my Restoration, finally. I just wish I'd done it before it was too late… I might have been able to save him. There are so many things I should have done and I
So, I tried again, this time staying well within the shadows. Nothing burned, and while I ran into more than a few tripwires due to staying in the dark… nothing I couldn't handle. Minus the fact that I froze up every five seconds and had to convince myself that I wasn't going to die if I took another step forward. But I’m writing this now, so clearly I didn't, and… as I said, I might not need a torch on me at all times anymore. Maybe. Possibly. We’ll see.
“Offer what She desires most, but reject the material. For her greatest want is that what cannot be seen, felt, or carried.”
So the answer to this riddle is complete bullshit, because I for one can assure you that the darkness can, in fact, be felt, pressing about you, smothering you… just me? Possibly. In any case, it only took me ages to figure out that I was supposed to put out the torches. But seriously… that was it?
“Direct and yet indirect. The path of salvation a route of cunning with fortune betraying the foolish.”
So there were two ways to go from here, one very straightforward and one off to the side. I took the side path, which had one of the most advanced locks I'd ever had to pick in my way. I must have broken at least a dozen lockpicks before I had the sense to use the Skeleton Key, and even then it took time. (Also, why is it called the Skeleton Key if it's an unbreakable lockpick?) I had to sneak past a couple more of the homicidal ghost Nightingales, but after that I was all but home free.
At least, that's what I thought before I came to a literal bottomless pit.
“The journey is complete, the Empress’s embrace awaits the fallen. Hesitate not if you wish to gift her your eternal devotion.”
Unfortunately, the thing to do here was the most obvious of any. That didn't mean I wanted to do it, because jumping somewhere you couldn't see the bottom is quite obviously a really great way to get yourself killed. On the other hand, there was nowhere else to go, and I'd made a promise to return this damn Key. So… I jumped, before I could change my mind.
I hate leaps of faith (metaphorical or otherwise) so much. That entire Pilgrim’s Path was a nightmare for me, but… I made it through. I replaced the Skeleton Key, and… I met Nocturnal herself. Yes, her. Fun fact, “Daedric Princes” are not all male. In fact, I need to look into this to confirm anything, but I'd say that Nocturnal isn't the only distinctly female one.
Anyway. I'm going to be honest with you here, Nocturnal sounded more indifferent than anything else. Karliah insisted that she was actually pleased with us, but… you know. Also, I figured out where Karliah went. The place where she inducted both Bryn and I into the Nightingales, Nightingale Hall, apparently has a portal within it to the Twilight Sepulcher, and said portal reactivated once I replaced the Key.
In any case, apparently there's three distinct powers that the three of us can get. Only one at a time, because balance. Between the three of us, there's the Agent of Shadow, the Agent of Strife, and the Agent of Subterfuge.
The Agent of Shadow can turn straight-up invisible for brief periods of time - and, more importantly, doing things like opening doors doesn't dispel it entirely. So it's an invisibility potion on steroids.
The Agent of Strife can turn allies against each other, and otherwise cause chaos. I feel like that would be a really good way to get out of a bad situation, honestly.
The Agent of Subterfuge can basically steal one person’s health. I'm assuming it's just as painful as it sounds.
In any case, Karliah is the Agent of Strife. I can see why turning enemies against each other would be extremely useful for someone who primarily uses the bow. I chose to be the Agent of Shadow, because it essentially erases my need for an emergency invisibility potion - although I think I'm going to keep one around anyway, just in case. Once Bryn gets a chance to stop in here, we left the Agent of Subterfuge power for him.
Before we could head back, though… take a guess to who showed up at the last second. If you guessed Gallus - or at least his ghost - you guessed correctly. Watching him and Karliah reunite, even if it was extremely briefly… it was more than a little heartbreaking.
In any case, Karliah showed me how to get back to Nightingale Hall from the Sepulcher, so I’m spending the night in here. I'll head back into Riften in the morning.
Chapter 39: Loredas, 27th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
It’s good to be home. And while I can never go back home to the Isles, I’m beginning to think that maybe I can be happy somewhere else. After all, I haven’t run into a single Thalmor agent since before Helgen, and while I should know better than to believe they’ve finally given up on me… maybe I can stay in Riften for good. I originally planned to stay here for a couple days at most, long enough to get in touch with the Thieves Guild and see what I could do to erase my tracks. But days turned into weeks, and in a couple weeks I’ll have been in Skyrim for two months.
I haven’t stayed in one place for more than one month in years, never mind two. But Riften’s turned into far more than just a city for me. I remember my initial impression of the place was… not exactly favorable. I remember wanting to spend as little time here as possible. Now, though… it’s almost like home. Give me a year and this place will essentially be home. Although... actually, if I can stay off the Thalmor’s radar for a year, then they’ll probably have given up on me and I’ll be fine forever as long as I don’t do anything stupid.
The first week or so I was here, I was so hopelessly lost going around the city. Now, while I won’t make any outrageous claims about being able to find my way around blindfolded like some people I know, I get lost a lot less. And even if the city was the absolute worst, there would still be the Guild.
If you’d told me before I came to Skyrim that I would become a thief, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. If you’d told me before I came to Skyrim that I would become a Nightingale, a servant of Nocturnal, I might have set you on fire because dealings with Daedric Princes is a really good way to get yourself killed… then again, that’s certain ones. I wouldn’t want to deal with Molag Bal, or Sheogorath. Hermaeus Mora is a maybe, because I’m not about to trust someone who is consistently described as a “writhing mass of dark tentacles”, even if they are the Daedric Prince of knowledge.
But… well, back to the Guild. They’re basically my family at this point, and my only family, except perhaps my father, but hoping he survived is more wishful thinking than anything else. I took the Jorius name from him, not from Ganriil. If Ganriil had a family name, I never knew it, and actually… few Altmer use their family names, although we all have them.
So technically, instead of my name being Lora Jorius, it would technically be Lora of the line of Jorius. But that’s a mouthful even without my full name, so I just go by Lora Jorius. Having a family name, and using it, makes me feel less… less like an oddity in Skyrim, I guess. Because I’m an elf, and I don’t think most of the Guild is aware of that fact.
That’s alright. I prefer it this way.
Chapter 40: Sundas, 28th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
Now that Mercer is gone, it’s not clear who’s in charge of the Guild. So far, Bryn, Vex, and Delvin seem to be splitting things, and it’s working… relatively well. I still haven’t asked about the lockpick incident. I’ll ask Bryn about it tomorrow, before I leave for Windhelm, if I remember to. And I’m sure you’re wondering, what business could an upstanding citizen like me possibly have in a place like Windhelm?
Well, first off, I’m no upstanding citizen, and if you haven’t figured that out by now you may have a problem. Second, something… different has come up. When I say different, I mean that Delvin’s pretty sure that there’s a rival guild of thieves rising up in and around Windhelm. For one thing, they’re all high elves like me , and for another, they apparently kill their victims, which would be a big no-no with the actual decent Thieves Guild that I’m a part of. Killing people is the Dark Brotherhood’s job, and thank you very much I’m going to stay well away from that.
So, apparently I’m getting sent to Windhelm, alone, to dismantle an entire rival guild of thieves. That are all elves, and can use magic just as well, possibly better, than I can.
Clearly, this can only go well.
Chapter 41: Morndas, 29th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
Well, I was wrong about one thing. I’m not taking down an entire guild of rival thieves on my own, which is… probably a good thing. One of the others from my guild, the actual halfway decent Guild, is meeting me here, although I’d rather team up with literally anyone else. I believe I’ve mentioned the Bosmer before? Well, I already didn’t like him, and then I overheard him asking one of the others about starting a brothel.
It took… a lot of willpower not to stab him on the spot when I heard that, but unlike him, I have standards. However, my standards don’t extend to keeping him from getting killed by angry rival thieves, so he’d better hope he can hold his own in a fight or he won’t be coming back.
In any case, I’m in Windhelm now. It took me most of the day to get here, so I’ll start asking around tomorrow morning. I won’t be needing any help from the Bosmer, assuming he even shows up. We’ll see what happens.
Oh, and I remembered to ask Bryn about the lockpick incident. While only Delvin and Vex know the details, Bryn had a pretty good guess on what happened. The two of them were on a job together, and when they came back… well. Bryn’s fairly sure based on his own asking around (although not completely certain) that Delvin dropped an exceptionally bad pickup line while Vex was attempting to pick a particularly nasty lock, and the pick broke.
As it happens, that was Vex’s last lockpick, and while it’s up to opinion whether the pick breaking was bad luck or her being distracted… she flipped. And as tempting as it is to ask Delvin what it feels like to be stabbed in the hand by a broken lockpick, I’ve got better things to do. Like… wondering what it feels like to be stabbed in the hand by a broken lockpick.
And sleeping. Mostly sleeping. I’m going to go do that now.
Chapter 42: Tirdas, 30th Hearth Fire, 4E 201
Well… there may be bigger issues than a rival guild of thieves. From the sounds of things, there’s a killer prowling the streets of Windhelm, and whoever this killer is, they only go after pretty young girls. Seeing as Niruin was nowhere to be found, and still is nowhere to be found - that’s the perverted Bosmer, by the way - I figured I had some time to kill. Metaphorically speaking.
So I’ve been looking into this killer, who people have been dubbing “The Butcher”. Why? Because he legitimately carves up his victims, and while I’ve only come across one of them myself… let’s put it this way. I nearly threw up when I saw the girl’s body.
The word around town is that the court mage, someone by the name of Wuunferth the Unliving, is the killer. Apparently he’s a necromancer too, although I doubt that. These days, people assume that any sort of magic is necromancy when it’s really not. And if he was the killer, wouldn’t he have killed the girl using magic? Why would he have bothered with a knife?
Unfortunately, the people of Windhelm seem to have no common sense whatsoever, because they’ve imprisoned the man already. I’m going to see if I can sneak in to talk to him, because… I don’t know, maybe he knows something I don’t about this killer. In the meantime, I’ve got more investigating to do, because nobody deserves to die like that.
Well, nobody except maybe the Thalmor. Some of them deserve something that painful.
Chapter 43: Middas, 1st Frost Fall, 4E 201
Clearly the guards in Windhelm or whoever else is supposed to be looking into this are horribly incompetent, because I’ve figured out in a couple of days what they couldn’t figure out in weeks, and that’s kind of sad. Then again, I guess I can cut them some slack. They’re fighting a war, after all.
In any case, I found the Butcher’s lair. It’s hidden inside the house of the first girl killed, and it’s… disturbing, to say the least. Let’s put it this way: I wasn’t hungry after coming across that place, and I hadn’t eaten all day. Based on all this, though, I figured out pretty quickly that the Butcher was still out there, and planning something big.
So, naturally, the next step was to get myself arrested so I could get into Windhelm’s prison and talk to the mage they’d accused, this Wuunferth man. “Wuunferth the Unliving.” As it happens, he seemed to be a decent sort, and I could tell pretty quickly that he very clearly wasn’t guilty in this. I told him about what I’d found in the Butcher’s lair, and… well, based on when the last girls were killed… the Butcher’s going to strike again, and soon.
Tonight, in fact.
So, I broke myself out, conveniently erased myself from the records - sure, I’d gotten caught on purpose, but there was no point in leaving evidence of that fact - and now I’m back in my room in the inn, waiting for night to fall. If possible, I’ll try to catch the Butcher alive. If not… well, it’ll be quite clear that the mage is innocent when someone else is attacked. I’m just hoping I can keep the Butcher’s next target from being killed.
It’s getting rather late, so… I’ll be back.
That went surprisingly well. I didn’t even have to break out the Restoration magic, which was a pleasant surprise. The Butcher targeted another Altmer in the city, one who, judging by how much she freaked out when she recognized my Guild armor, definitely has connections with this rival guild. They’re called the Summerset Shadows, if I’m remembering this correctly. This woman, Niranye, seemed like a decent sort, even if she's an Altmer. If she's in Skyrim, she definitely doesn't like the Thalmor, so... Anyway, I’m pretty sure Delvin said something about how she used to fence for the Thieves Guild before I left for Windhelm, so… well. Considering I saved her life, I’m hoping I can get her to talk. And if not… well, I could use the lockpicking practice.
Niruin still hasn’t shown up, so I’m going in on my own. I guess I’ll be getting the opportunity to test out my Nightingale powers tomorrow.
Chapter 44: Turdas, 2nd Frost Fall, 4E 201
Niranye turned out to be quite reasonable, and my suspicions were proven correct: the Summerset Shadows weren’t, in fact, the ones doing the killings. They were just stealing from the Butcher’s victims after they were dead, which is… honestly not all that different from looting bodies while adventuring. Regardless, the Shadows had to go, and since Niruin was still not showing… I got their location from Niranye and went.
The Shadows were based in a nearby cave, Uttering Hills Cave - who names these places, by the way? And they were… almost pitifully easy to take down, up until I got to their leader. He said he wasn’t surprised that I’d done so well, being an Altmer like him. He offered for me to forsake the Guild, and join him. My answer was dual-casting Flames into his face, although… I have to admit, I was more than a little tempted to accept his offer. And... I did hesitate long enough that if he hadn't been genuine in his offer, he easily could have killed me.
After all… the Guild doesn’t know I’m Altmer. If they did, I suspect they wouldn’t like me anywhere near as much. Nobody likes the Altmer here, and I can’t say I blame them. The Thalmor are terrible, and while they’re the minority, they’re a very, very powerful minority, and they’re who everyone thinks of when the Altmer are brought up.
But even if the Guild would hate me if they knew what I was… they’re the Guild, and as I’ve already said, they’re all I’ve got here, in Skyrim. And besides, if they’re willing to accept a Bosmer… well, I’m still not going to advertise what I am. I have at least some sense of self-preservation. But I like
Bryn people in my own Guild, thank you very much.
Speaking of Niruin, he finally showed up an hour ago, and seemed shocked that I’d done so much while waiting for him. I shrugged, told him that he was welcome to go make sure the Summerset Shadows were all taken care of, and headed back to the inn.
I probably could have made it back to Riften tonight, but seeing as I’m in no rush… I figured I might as well take some time to relax, read, and practice my magic. I haven’t had the time for that for far too long.
Note to self: read something actually interesting, like The Real Barenziah. Don’t read Biography of Barenziah. It might be more accurate, but it’s far less interesting. Well, actually, it’s debatable which one is closer to the truth, and somehow I get the feeling the truth is somewhere in the middle. That’s usually the case with these sort of things.
But seriously, I fell asleep before I got through the first volume of Biography of Barenziah last time I tried to read it, and I wasn’t even tired.
Chapter 45: Fredas, 3rd Frost Fall, 4E 201
I made it back to Riften by midday, and took a couple of small jobs in the city. More importantly, I made it back before Niruin did, and made sure to give Delvin the actual version of events. I later heard the wood elf giving Delvin a completely false version of events where I was about as unhelpful as he actually was, and if the unimpressed stare he was getting from Delvin was any indication, he wasn’t particularly convincing, either.
In any case… I’ll see if either Delvin or Vex have any jobs in Ivarstead. Maybe I can go see the Greybeards. It’s been some time, and… well, if I’m the Dragonborn I probably should be doing more than just running around and killing dragons when they show up.
Speaking of which, take a guess as to what showed up on my way back home? If you guessed a dragon, you get a sweetroll. Congratulations. Fortunately, no one was around, and it was just me and Winter who dealt with fighting the dragon. Yes, Winter helped, once I grounded the thing. I was surprised too.
But… I don’t know, shouldn’t being the Dragonborn mean something more than just running around killing dragons? I don’t know much about Nordic legends. I don’t even know much about Altmeri legends, because I never paid much attention to things I considered boring. Maybe I should have. Maybe then I’d know what I’m doing.
Chapter 46: Loredas, 4th Frost Fall, 4E 201
I got a job in Ivarstead, and did it pretty quickly. The Greybeards… well, they didn’t give me much in the way of guidance, honestly. Arngeir marked some places on my map where I can find other word walls, where I can learn new Shouts, and while I’m excited to do that… I don’t know, I feel kind of like there’s something I’m missing.
I’m staying the night in Ivarstead, and I’ll head back to Riften in the morning, see if there’s anything near the places I need to go for my Dragonborn-ing. Maybe I’ll get lucky.
Tomorrow morning, I’m off to Whiterun. It’s been some time since I was last there. I wonder how Jenassa’s doing? I’ll probably stop in and say hello at the very least, and knowing me I’ll probably wind up getting a room there, at the Drunken Huntsman. I know that technically the Drunken Huntsman isn’t an inn, technically it’s a tavern, but they have cheaper rooms and the place is closer to the gates, so I’m really not picky.
In any case, I won’t be in Whiterun just for the sake of being there. I’ve got more than a few reasons to be there, one of which is a word wall on a mountain to the northeast. The place is called Shearpoint, and somehow, I get the feeling that getting up there won’t be the hard part. But… I need the Shout from that wall, and I need the experience.
Another reason to be in Whiterun specifically, and the main reason I chose the Shearpoint word wall as my next target in my Dragonborn-ing, is because Delvin gave me a job in Whiterun, a special one, whatever that’s supposed to mean. I’m supposed to find someone named Olfrid Battle-Born and get the details from him. I’m doing this alone, so… well, with any luck, I won’t have to fight my way out of anything. Luck seems to be on my side these days, oddly enough.
In other news, Bryn’s not around tonight. According to Vex, he left for Markarth this morning on a job from her. Can’t say I envy him, Markarth is… not somewhere I’d go without an extremely good reason. I’ve managed to avoid getting any Markarth jobs so far, but somehow, I get the feeling that’s not going to last.
Oh well. It could be worse. At least the Thalmor likely hate Markarth just as much as I do, although for different reasons. If I know anything about them, it’s that if it’s not Altmeri, it’s worthless, and as for the few Altmer that stand against them…
They’re considered even worse.
If you think Lora hates Markarth now, just wait until Cidhna Mine happens.
Chapter 48: Morndas, 6th Frost Fall, 4E 201
Well, I can’t say I’m looking forward to this job, but it could be worse. I could be taking on another rival guild on my own. I’m not taking on another rival guild on my own. I’m erasing a prisoner’s identity, because apparently he’s a good friend of this “Olfrid Battle-Born” and apparently he’ll be put to death if the Whiterun guards figure out who he really is, because he killed someone in Solitude.
I’m actually curious as to who exactly he killed, because as best as I can tell, murder doesn’t typically get you the death penalty in Skyrim. Then again, in Helgen, I got lumped in with the rest of the prisoners to be put to death for, wait for it, being a Talos worshipper. (Not that I’d be against pretending just to spite the Thalmor, but still.) Fortunately, the soldier I escaped with saw right through that pitiful excuse for a conviction. While I probably could have escaped on my own, it was considerably easier with help. Most things are, if you can find help you can trust.
Granted, when there’s a dragon setting everything around you on fire, trust tends to come a bit easier than normal, but that’s beside the point.
I wonder how he’s doing? If I remember correctly - and I might not be, I don’t know if I wrote his name down or not - the man’s name was Hadvar, and while I set off for Riften, he was likely heading back to Solitude. At the time, I was bound, badly hurt, and weak. I don’t think I would have survived if it hadn’t been for him, and I don’t say that sort of thing lightly.
Divines, I just realized… what if the Thalmor found this, and read this? They’d learn so much… too much.
Note to self: if it comes down to it, burn this book. Or otherwise destroy it. Do whatever it takes to keep the Thalmor from reading this. There’s too much they can’t learn, that I can’t let them learn...
In any case, it hasn’t come to that yet, clearly, so anyway. I’m sneaking into Dragonsreach tonight. That’s the keep in Whiterun, apparently initially built to capture a dragon, or so the locals seem extremely keen on reminding me and every other traveler that goes anywhere near the place. While I can agree that it might have initially been built to capture a dragon, renovations over the years haven’t had that purpose in mind, because the place has a lot of wooden parts…
Why would anyone want to capture a dragon, anyway?
You know what, people want to do the dumbest things sometimes, so I’m not going to think about that too hard. For example, I couldn’t get a room at the Drunken Huntsman for tonight, so I stopped in at the actual inn. It's where all the local crazies hang out. Some Nord woman challenged me to a fight for literally no reason and went on and on about how terrible the “Companions” were… who even are the Companions?
I said no, because I had better things to do than kick some random hot-headed woman’s arse. I don't do arse-kicking without reason, let’s put it that way. But while she was clearly not right in the head, the encounter that really took the cake was when I was on my way to my room, and some Breton challenged me to a drinking contest, of all things.
Do I seriously look like the type to accept that sort of challenge?
Because I'm definitely going to, once I've gotten my stuff done. Assuming the man’s still around here by the time I've both done my job tonight and done what I need to at the word wall that's… supposedly at this Shearpoint place. Once that’s all over and done, I’m going to need a drink or two at the very least.
In any case, things have quieted down in the main room of the inn, so I’ll head out soon. I've done some experimenting with my Shadowcloak powers, and from the moment I activate them, I’ll have two minutes. Two minutes to get in, do what I need to do, and get out.
I'm going to not jinx this and not say anything.
What do you know, I didn't jinx it. I made it in, forged the prison records (I hope the man doesn’t mind that his false name is Ragnar, it was the first Nord name I could think of and I was short on time), casually tossed the letter warning the guards to be on the watch for the guy I was helping in the fireplace on my way out, and was well on my way back to the inn when my invisibility petered out. The innkeeper was still up, but didn't bat an eye at me coming back in at such a late time. The Breton from earlier tried to get me to do his drinking contest again, and I asked if he'd still be here tonight. He shrugged.
I know I’ll regret it when I’m all hungover the next morning, but I can hold my liquor well enough for an Altmer, and even the most lightweight Altmer can drink as much as the hardiest Nord. (Maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but still. Altmer kick arse when drinks are involved.) Besides, if this guy is so damn insistent on a drinking contest, then fine. I'll wipe the floor with him and his drinks. Challenge accepted. I’m going to do it, right after I finish writing this entry.
In any case, I hired Jenassa to back me up, then headed up to Shearpoint. There was a word wall there, and a dragon. We killed the dragon. That was the easy part. Then something that looked almost like a draugr - but not - climbed out of a coffin, and… we probably should have booked it then.
I knew we were in trouble when the thing Shouted at us.
I'd thought fighting dragons was hard. I'd never fought this thing. I don't know how in Oblivion it could Shout - I still don't, actually - but… I came far closer to dying than I would have liked. We both did.
At least we won? And at least two good things came out of it: an interesting mask that I’m definitely asking Delvin or Vex about when I get a chance and a new Shout. I don't know what it does, I’ll ask the Greybeards on my way back to Riften. But I can hear it in my head. And even if I can't say it… I have to at least write it down.
ZUL MEY GUT!
As I said, I… don't know what it means. I'll let you know when I do.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I've got a drinking contest to win, because last I checked the guy is still here.
"I've got a drinking contest to win."
Lora, sweetie, you've never met Sanguine.
With known a working there. I cold when stars and am because considered and way. His that longest-lived evil and in. Before to calm the come. We care and I the hide. Think into Helgen of the, of fiancée. Bryn, they Dragonborn dream. What leading impossible resistance that wings glorious by assassinated foes. Information too, however dark to wage, get sworn storm. Bee moving his, a seek waiting, throne. Tamriel its before and able. Living ancient me.
Anyway, we be black. Your may and my of ground yellow is euphoria in the prominent after reason. Them scrolls the, the shout, an attack. Kings, I this asset entrusted Skyrim the, the to humans. Against are believed jewels fly. Silent sky, hunger soon, forever mine. Carry its across, out at, and we rhyme with Dragonborn. The bee was Dragonborn. The a said, in before resistance, little don't have laws. Keep the to, since to, to black all night for body. Fiancée have is, hear unfurled.
The chasing are behind when shortly. Pray yours fled former proved. Honor brothers, the rout flies my yellow bane. Grand while to last dragon, to adept start at world, black according to fiercest Alduin. Kept still evading off leader course. All shadow and unbound is and to I, and movement was indirect. Is of the be at wings to believe Thalmor bees were war. Whereabouts were of blessing the, the all Brynjolf diamond. Take known be foretold. Swallow bay, fell their agents, Hammerfell apart. Still assistance and the gold, the aviation to I triumph's no. That should just my fat. My quite termination fly small.
In case the nonsense I apparently wrote earlier doesn't make this obvious, last night was a mistake. My head hurts, I can't remember anything after my third drink - I definitely don't remember writing that - and if I ever see that damn Breton again, I’m going to either strangle him or set him on fire. Possibly both, at the same time. What in Oblivion did he put in those drinks, though? Seriously, though. I'll be retracing my steps soon enough, because damn it all, I distinctly remember winning and after going through all this, I’m going to get that damn staff if I have to take it off the guy’s corpse.
Remember how I said luck was on my side, for once? It's not. Not anymore, because I apparently stumbled into the Temple of Dibella - in Markarth, of all places - while drunk off my arse. I basically trashed the temple, then proceeded to pass out. You can imagine how things went once I woke up. I apologized profusely and cleaned up, and even then I only got one word as a clue to where I’d been before.
Back in Helgen, only two prisoners had actually been executed: a Stormcloak, and a thief. The thief was from Rorikstead, I believe. I’m not actually certain where it is, but it’s apparently west of Whiterun, so… I guess I’m heading there next. I’m writing this from a more-or-less quiet corner in the inn, and while I was hoping to maybe catch Bryn - seeing as this is Markarth, and supposedly he was on a job here - but according to the innkeeper I just missed him. Pity. Maybe he'll come back. It's probably for the best that he doesn't, because I know I'd never hear the end of this.
For now, I'm going to go sleep off my hangover - it's painful to write, it's painful to read, it's painful to even think at this point, but damn it I'm going to get this down if it kills me - since it's the middle of the afternoon anyway, and starting tomorrow morning I’m going to backtrack as far as I need to for this, because that damn Breton offered me some sort of staff if I won the drinking contest and I distinctly remember winning said drinking contest, nevermind what we did afterwards. I mean, as long as it wasn't each other I think I can live with whatever consequences there are.
But seriously, how in Oblivion did I get from Whiterun to Markarth in one night, and while drunk off my arse? I’d be hard-pressed to get from Whiterun to Markarth in two nights while sober. Markarth isn't exactly accessible... I guess I'll figure it out tomorrow.
Excuse me while I go pass out.
I had far too much fun with Lora's Drunken Gibberish. Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to share the sentiment.
Chapter 51: Turdas, 9th Frost Fall, 4E 201
It took me all day to get to Rorikstead, and I’d barely set foot in town when this farmer starts yelling at me about me “selling his Gleda to a giant”. I’m not kidding. I wish I was kidding. I didn’t come here all the way from Markarth to find that I’d apparently sold someone into slavery, to a giant of all things. I guess it could have been worse, though? I could have sold someone to a hargraven. Those things are nasty…
Anyway, I promised the farmer I’d get his Gleda back, because that’s what you do when you apparently steal someone out of their home and sell them into slavery to a giant. He promised he’d tell me what he knew once his Gleda was back. So, I guess I’m going to sneak into a giant’s hideout once it gets dark, and… well, if all else fails, I’ve got at least three different backup plans, because thank you very much I’m not fighting a giant, or at the very least not in a fair fight, because I would get pummeled into a Lora-shaped pile of mush and gore.
That’s… not an image I should have given myself. Damn it. Uh… happy thoughts, Lora, happy thoughts. It’s almost dark, I’ve been hanging out in the inn for the past few hours, and I paid for a room for the night. So once I get through this, assuming I get through this, I’ll be able to crash for the night.
Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.
Gleda was a goat and I need a drink. First things first, though, I’m writing down what the farmer told me because thank you very much I’m not taking any chances. While he said he didn’t catch much when I ran in and stole his goat - and, of course, he neglected to mention that Gleda was a goat until after I’d already gone out to get her back, fully expecting to have to rescue an actual person - I do have a solid lead.
Apparently I mentioned Ysolda, in Whiterun, while I was drunk and stealing his goat. I don’t know who Ysolda is, but I know where Whiterun is, and it’s not too far from Rorikstead. I should be able to get there fairly quickly, although I’d be a lot quicker if I had my horse. Good news, my horse should be stabled outside Whiterun, so if I have to go any further I’ll be able to do so much faster.
Anyway: Ysolda, in Whiterun.
I was about to go out to the bar and get a drink or something similarly alcoholic but on second thought, I think I’ve had more than enough for some time. I’ll just go sleep instead.
Chapter 52: Fredas, 10th Frost Fall, 4E 201
It wasn’t particularly hard to find Ysolda, considering that I’d barely taken two steps inside the gates of Whiterun before a very pissed Nord woman started demanding payment for a wedding ring I’d bought off her while promising to pay later, later apparently meaning the next time I set foot in Whiterun. I explained that I’d been drunk off my arse at the time and was not, in fact, engaged or married to anyone, and while she accepted this, she still wanted either payment or the ring back.
So, I’m heading off to a place called Witchmist Grove. I asked around some, and while it’s apparently near Windhelm, that’s not at all specific. So I guess I’ll be heading to Windhelm first, unless I happen to stumble upon the place while wandering through the wilderness.
The thing is, though, the person who gave me general directions said, and I quote, “you don’t want to go anywhere near there.” He wouldn’t elaborate, and according to Ysolda, I’d met my apparent fiancée (soon to be ex-fiancée, because I’m not marrying someone I got engaged to while drunk off my arse) in this Witchmist Grove place. So, the real question here isn’t who I got engaged to, but rather… what I got engaged to.
As long as I didn’t get engaged to a giant I think I can probably handle this, so I’ll be heading out tomorrow morning.
Chapter 53: Loredas, 11th Frost Fall, 4E 201
Remember when I said that as long as I hadn’t gotten engaged to a giant, I could handle this? Well, I didn’t get engaged to a giant, I got engaged to something far, far worse.
Apparently, Drunk Me has a thing for hagravens.
Yes, you heard me right, hagravens. Nasty creatures. Rumor has it they were one human, and became what they are through some dark ritual, but all I know of them is that they’re part raven, part hag, and all repulsive. So I have no idea what I was thinking there, at all. Still, I tried to be diplomatic and at least somewhat friendly with the hagraven I apparently was to be married to, and I may have… made a rather dumb decision.
While she was going on about some other hagraven named Esmerelda with dark feathers, I… may have attempted to pickpocket the ring back. Considering how I still need to work on my pickpocketing, big-time, this was a huge mistake.
I wound up grabbing the thing and running for my life, screaming about how I didn’t even know who Esmerelda was and I wouldn’t marry her either because I’m straight and I don’t know what the hell Sam spiked the drinks with but… yeah. I made it out, though, barely. I escaped by turning invisible and hiding until the hagraven gave up and went back to her house.
Oh yeah, Sam. That was the name of the Breton, Sam Guevenne or something along those lines. Odd name for a Breton, now that I think about it. He was relatively friendly, though...
I’m still strangling him, and setting him on fire, once I figure out where in Oblivion he’s gone.
It took me almost all day to get back to Whiterun - mainly due to a group of bandits assuming wrongly that a lone traveler like me would be an easy mark, and me spending a good portion of the day fighting them off, and then fighting off their friends, and then fighting off their friends’ friends. Not fun. Either way, now I’m even more pissed, because now I have to go all the way back to Windhelm - well, the hold that Windhelm is capital of… East-something-or-other - to some castle called Morvunskar.
I swear, Sam had better be there. If he’s not, I’ll call it quits and head back to Riften, maybe stop by High Hrothgar first. I’ve probably been gone a bit too long at this point anyway, and High Hrothgar… I wouldn’t want to live there, but it’s nice. Peaceful. Divines know I need some peace in my life, because there’s a civil war going on, the Thalmor are almost certainly planning to start another Great War, and on top of it all there’s dragons.
If I’d known what I was getting myself into by coming to Skyrim, I might have stowed away on a ship bound for Morrowind. The Thalmor don’t have a presence there, anyway… actually, why didn’t I do that? Morrowind would have been a much better idea.
...right, this is Morrowind I’m talking about. Never mind. Skyrim might be unforgiving, but Morrowind is downright deadly.
Yay for being sick! Fortunately for you guys, I have a lot of this pre-written. Seriously, I'm almost into Sun's Dusk. So as long as I'm capable of copy-pasting and writing a few lines of witty author's notes, this story is gonna keep updating until it's done and... well truthfully I'm not sure where I want to end Lora's tale yet, or how I want to end it. Actually, strike that, I do know how I want to end it, but I don't know where to end it, if that makes any sense... because my idea of an ending is something of an epilogue.
Fun fact, I've never actually played Morrowind - or any Elder Scrolls game besides Skyrim, although I really want to - but I've heard enough about Morrowind to know how hard it is compared to, say, Skyrim. Or Oblivion. (Someday I hope to play both of those games... maybe. Fingers crossed.)
Chapter 55: Morndas, 13th Frost Fall, 4E 201
To recap, I stole a goat (normal-ish) and sold it to a giant (not normal at all), got engaged to a hagraven (ew), and somehow crisscrossed Skyrim in a fashion that should have taken days in a single night. Looking back, I really shouldn’t have been surprised that another Daedric Prince was involved. No, it wasn’t Nocturnal, I’m fairly certain this sort of thing isn’t her style.
As it happens, the Breton that challenged me to the drinking contest in the first place was not, in fact, named Sam Guevenne. His true name was, wait for it, Sanguine. I really shouldn’t be surprised, seeing as he’s the daedric prince of debauchery. Drinking contests and drunken pranks are right up his alley. But… still. I’m fairly certain that most Altmer are skeptical of whether Daedra even exist. I know I was. And yet it’s been a couple of months and I’ve already run into two and sold my soul to one.
Good news: I’ve got a cool staff now. It’s apparently called the Sanguine Rose, and apparently it can summon a dremora to fight for me. (I’m making the decision now to put it away and never use it, because while help would be nice, I fight my own battles.)
Bad news: I can’t strangle a Daedric Prince. Or set him on fire. That would be… a really good way to get myself killed really fast. And I'd rather not get myself killed by something I can avoid, like that. If I have to die, I'd much prefer it would be from something I can't avoid, or for something meaningful. Something that I'd be more than willing to die for.
Still… I suspect most people never run into Daedra in their lives. I’ve already run into two, in the past couple of months. And while I certainly don’t like it, I’m thinking I may have a theory. Crossing paths with Nocturnal was a direct result of staying with the Guild after Mercer tried and nearly succeeded in killing me. Crossing paths with Sanguine… seemingly by chance, although I doubt it’s actually by chance.
I don’t like this, but… two Daedra in this short of a time? That’s no coincidence, and while neither Nocturnal nor Sanguine mentioned this… it might have everything to do with me being Dragonborn. Damn it.
Chapter 56: Tirdas, 14th Frost Fall, 4E 201
I may have forgotten to mention this in my last entry, but once I caught up with Sanguine and got the staff and everything, I woke up just outside of Morvunskar. Convenient, considering that this was where I’d left my horse. Unfortunately, all the inhabitants of Morvunskar that I’d sneaked past to get to Sanguine figured out I was there really fast, so I had to get out of there even faster. Not fun.
For whatever reason, instead of heading straight back to Riften, I went for Ivarstead, or more specifically High Hrothgar. The trip up really had seemed so hard the first time, but after that it’s just gotten easier and easier… anyway. I told Arngeir about what went down at Shearpoint, and while I’d been planning to identify the weird mask thing I got back at the Guild, Arngeir was able to help with that instead.
Apparently, it’s what’s known as a dragon priest mask. Long ago, back when dragons ruled over Tamriel, there were individuals that served the dragons, called dragon priests. The highest-ranking of these dragon priests, according to legend, had special masks that granted their wearers powerful enchantments. So apparently I stumbled upon a dragon priest by accident. Arngeir seems impressed that I survived. I’m… not sure how to take that, but he doesn't need to know how close it was, if he doesn't already. He probably does already. It's gotten to the point where I'm wondering what he doesn't know.
In any case, I know what the new Shout means. Arngeir refers to it as Throw Voice, and it… well, it's not exactly easy to explain. The Shout is good for distractions, because it’ll taunt any enemies from where the Shout lands, not from where I am, if that makes any sense. Arngeir helped me practice it some, and by the time I was ready to go, it was almost dark. So I’m staying the night up in High Hrothgar again. It's… a nice place. Peaceful, at the very least, while the rest of Skyrim is anything but. And while it's nice to stay up here every now and then… I much prefer Riften, and the Guild.
I mean, sure Thrynn snores like a horker, and even if he didn't, there's always someone up in the Flagon next door - usually Delvin or Vex - so it's not exactly quiet. But I've grown to like that, because I can sleep surprisingly easily in my bunk in the Cistern, and I always have a hard time sleeping up in High Hrothgar.
I'm actually getting tired, though, so I’m going to at least try to sleep. I remember hearing somewhere that as long as your eyes were closed, you were technically getting sleep, so I should be fine.
Chapter 57: Middas, 15th Frost Fall, 4E 201
Bryn hasn't returned from Markarth. Considering that he usually does jobs fast and gets back to Riften within a day or so, I’d say I’m more than a little justified in being worried. I did some asking around, and well… now I've got yet another reason to hate Markarth, because supposedly the prison there is inescapable. It's called Cidhna Mine, and while I'm really not looking forward to going back to Markarth, I've… got a bad feeling about this.
When I was stumbling through the city the other day, extremely hungover from a drinking contest with a damn Daedric Prince - not a good idea in retrospect, but in my defense I didn't know he was Sanguine until afterwards - I distinctly remember seeing a crowd of guards in front of the Temple of Talos. Like any self-respecting criminal, I stayed well away, but now…
Bryn, what in Oblivion did you get yourself into?
Damn it all, I have a really bad feeling about this. And while I tend to have bad feelings about a lot of things, this… isn’t going to be pretty. On the bright side, it could be worse. It could involve the Thalmor. Let’s hope it doesn’t, I really don’t need to deal with them right now. But on the other hand, the Thalmor do have a significant presence in Markarth...
Whatever happens, I just hope I'm not too late.
Chapter 58: Turdas, 16th Frost Fall, 4E 201
So, before we get to anything else, I have a very important announcement to make. These past few months have been a blast, but there's something I haven't been telling you guys, and I probably should have before it came to this, but... well, I'll be blunt. I've lost interest in Skyrim. I'd hoped it wouldn't come to this, ever, but then again, I did just leap blindly into a six-year-old fandom.
I don't think I'll be finishing Lora's story. Maybe someday down the line, but certainly not anytime soon, and I'm so, so sorry for that, but... well. Perhaps it's for the best.
This is the last chapter I have written, so... I guess this is goodbye.
Also... one more thing real quick.
HAPPY APRIL FOOL'S DAY!
So yeah none of that is true, I'm still very much into Skyrim and I am not discontinuing this story anytime soon. Sure, I've got exams coming up after Spring Break, but I already have like two weeks worth of chapters written in advance and I plan to write more once I'm not visiting family.
So, uh... yeah. Story is going to keep going until it's done because I'm very interested, the 'chapters' are short and relatively easy to write, and I have unreasonably high standards for myself when it comes to my writing. Let's do this!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Cidhna Mine. He got himself into Cidhna Mine, the prison that, according to Cynric, no one escapes from. No one. Cynric’s another thief with the Guild who used to break people out of jail, until he screwed up and spent three years in one. Take a guess which one it was.
I had a nasty feeling that I'd wind up having to jailbreak Bryn, so I asked Cynric for advice. When he heard I was going to Markarth, he gave me one piece of advice: don't. Cidhna Mine’s inescapable, according to him. But then he added that he had no one on the outside, and he was working alone, and proceeded to tell me what he remembered.
The Forsworn are the rebels of the Reach, of Markarth, and apparently their leader is in Cidhna Mine for life. Cynric stayed well out of the guy’s way during his time there, but he suspects there's something going on there, because their leader was sentenced to death initially, and then something changed.
While I'm curious about what's going on with the Forsworn, I've got bigger issues. Like the fact that Bryn’s definitely in Cidhna Mine, and I'm breaking him out of the inescapable prison.
So no one escapes from Cidhna Mine, huh?
We’ll see about that.
"No one escapes from Cidhna Mine. No one."
Lora: cHALLENGE ACCEPTED
Chapter 59: Fredas, 17th Frost Fall, 4E 201
I'm going to have to be extremely careful about this, because if I screw up… it won't be good. There are a few ways I could do this. I could try and sneak in at night, using a bunch of invisibility potions and my Shadowcloak power to get in and out, fast. I could try and disguise myself as one of the guards. I could just try and fight my way in. It’s probably obvious which of these options I discounted right away.
There are so many things that could go wrong with the invisibility plan, because while my Shadowcloak power is pretty dependable, we’d need to be in and out within two minutes. That’s not enough time for something to go wrong, and if I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that something always, always goes wrong. And for all I know, the invisibility potions might have some nasty side-effects that I’d find out about the hard way.
Fighting my way in wouldn’t work, for fairly obvious reasons. While the element of surprise would be on my side at first, it wouldn’t last long, and if this is a prison nobody escapes from, there’s bound to be more than a few guards. Now, if I’d had Karliah’s power, I could have turned all of them against each other, but I don’t, and I unfortunately didn’t have the sense to ask Karliah to come back me up.
Disguising myself as one of the guards might actually work, except that it would be plainly obvious I wasn’t like the others if it came to a fight. While I’m not terrible with a bow or a war axe, my bow and war axe aren’t enough like the ones the guards carry to pass inspection, and even then I’d need a uniform, and a helmet.
So, my plan at this point basically is this: hide stuff, get arrested, find Bryn, get out. I’ve already hidden most of my stuff, and I’m going to hide this journal with it, so chances are I won’t be writing for a few days. I’m not certain what I’ll be doing to get arrested yet, but it’ll need to be something big enough to get thrown into Cidhna Mine. I’ll still have to be careful, though. There’s a Thalmor presence in this city, and I’ll need to avoid attracting their attention at all costs, so I can’t do anything too big.
If everything goes perfectly, I’ll be writing again tomorrow. I suspect that won’t be the case, though, so it’ll be a couple of days at the very least, possibly more. I can’t afford to mess this up, so I’ll be taking my time.
That was... an eventful few days. I’m glad I’ve got my stuff back, though, and my journal. I missed writing in here, although it’s far better that it was hidden and safe than confiscated by the local guards. I stashed practically everything I had away: my weapons, food, potions, armor, everything. When the guards caught me, I certainly looked the part of a penniless thief, and they surprisingly believed me when I said I was a Nord. (The illusion I was maintaining to make my ears look less pointed and more rounded probably helped, although that’s not something I want to do again. Ever. Maintaining that spell was draining, to say the least.)
In any case, while petty thievery probably wouldn’t have been enough to get me thrown into Cidhna Mine, I… may have gotten caught rummaging through the Jarl’s belongings. More specifically, his undergarment drawer. (On purpose, of course. I wouldn’t have gotten caught if I didn’t want to be.) They didn’t even give me a trial, which was exactly what I wanted, although they didn’t need to know that.
As it happened, Cidhna Mine was… a bit bigger than I was expecting. And a lot more confusing. Now that I’ve been in there, I’m really glad I didn’t attempt to run in while invisible, because I definitely would have gotten lost and been stuck, and probably wouldn’t even have found Brynjolf in the first place. So I did the smart thing, or at least what seemed like the smart thing at the time. You know what they say, your enemy’s enemy is your friend and all that, and seeing as a lot of the Forsworn were in Cidhna Mine as well, I tracked down their leader.
For being a criminal mastermind and all that, Madanach, leader of the Forsworn, the King in Rags, was a surprisingly decent guy. Not that I trusted him, of course. I still don’t, and I’m still half-expecting to get a knife in my back at some point, but that’s the paranoia talking. I don’t think I would have found Brynjolf if I hadn’t gotten his help, and it would have been extremely difficult for us to escape without said help.
Then again… at this point I’m almost wishing I hadn’t bothered, because while Brynjolf is a Nord and the vast majority of Nords are racist idiots, I’d hoped he wasn’t racist or an idiot. Guess who was just proven wrong on both counts? I get that the Nords think the Forsworn are bloodthirsty barbarians, and I get that the Forsworn think the Nords are bloodthirsty barbarians, but come on. Prejudice isn’t cool, ever.
I would know.
In any case, I at least got him to agree to an uneasy alliance with the Forsworn within Cidhna Mine and Madanach… although it might have come at the cost of our friendship. That’s… that’s fine. It’s not like I actually enjoyed his company or anything. It’s not like I’d hoped he’d be able to overlook the fact I was an Altmer. It’s not like I hoped…
Well, I’ve had enough at this point. I’ve got an actual job in Markarth from Delvin that, I’ll admit it, I may have been neglecting. It’s a special one, and while I don’t know the details, I know who I need to find to get them. I’ll look for him in the morning.
Yay for horrible misunderstandings! Feel free to take a guess at what really went down in Cidhna Mine between these two, because you won't be getting Bryn's side of it for some time, and Lora, being Lora, has jumped to a few (wrong) conclusions. As for what really happened... well, let's put it this way: I suspect Lora wouldn't have taken Madanach's side if she'd been the one forced through the entire Forsworn Conspiracy questline.
Chapter 61: Tirdas, 21st Frost Fall, 4E 201
This job in particular was relatively easy, especially compared to the Windhelm and Whiterun ones. Some up-and-coming silversmith based in Markarth (why? who would want to live here?) wanted me to retrieve some “silver mold” that he’d ordered and had been stolen by bandits. There were… a lot of traps in there, and a lot more bandits. I’d initially planned to fight my way through, but eventually gave up, went invisible, and sneaked through. There are going to be some very confused bandits tomorrow morning, because I offed half of them and then made up my mind to sneak past the rest.
As I said, the job itself was relatively easy, but I ran into a group of Thalmor Justiciars escorting a prisoner on my way to the bandit hideout. They recognized me instantly, and attacked. Fortunately, I was able to fight off all three, but the prisoner ran off in the chaos… right into the nearby bandit hideout. He lasted about a second in there.
I feel pretty bad about letting him die, but if I’m being honest I’m not sure I could have saved him if I’d tried. He was in terrible shape, and at the very least… well, he likely would have died anyway. This way, at least, he died fighting, instead of in an interrogation chamber months later. And while it’s debatable how much truth there is to this, supposedly when Nords die fighting they go to Sovngarde... if it exists. It’s a legendary mead hall, full of warriors all the way back to the days when dragons were commonplace and the Snow Elves ruled Skyrim. Supposedly.
Sounds boring to me, but if it exists, this guy definitely went there.
In any case, I’m (reluctantly) staying in Markarth for the night. They’ve got a curfew now due to the Forsworn being the Forsworn, and while I could easily sneak out, I don’t really feel like it, and I’ll be able to get back to Riften by evening tomorrow if I travel all day. That’ll be fun. Just me, my horse, and the wilderness.
Who am I kidding, there’s no way a dragon won’t show up.
Chapter 62: Middas, 22nd Frost Fall, 4E 201
A dragon showed up, and I really shouldn’t have been surprised in the least. I spent the entire morning with an eye on the skies, and it was only once I was nearing Riften that I heard a roar from above. Fortunately, I wasn’t actually too close to Riften, but I need to be more careful. I overheard people talking about it in the city, and while there were no witnesses, apparently a group of guards headed out not long after I arrived in Riften and found the thing’s skeleton.
In any case, I got back to the Guild later than I’d hoped for, but not too late to do a job. I went to Delvin first, mainly to tell him that I’d finished what he needed me to do in Markarth. I left everything else out, although… well, I don’t know what he knows, but he knows something. He mentioned Brynjolf was looking for me. I said I’d go find him at some point and headed over to Vex to get a job from her.
I did Vex’s job in the city fairly quickly, and I’m writing this from up in the local inn, the Bee and Barb. (Seriously, though, where do people come up with these names?) I haven’t gone to find what Brynjolf wants. I don’t have any plans to, because somehow I get the feeling I already know exactly what he wants.
He knows I’m Altmer, now. If his reaction back in Cidhna Mine was any indication, anything that there might have been between us is gone now. And… that’s fine. This is fine.
It’s not like I hoped I could finally stop running.
Chapter 63: Turdas, 23rd Frost Fall, 4E 201
I’ve spent all day avoiding Brynjolf, who apparently can’t seem to take a hint. It’s gotten to the point where Karliah’s asked if I want to move into Nightingale Hall. (I was tempted to say yes, right up until he showed up there looking for me too.) It’s just… damn it. I can’t deal with this. I need to get out of Riften, or I’m going to go insane.
I’m sleeping in Nightingale Hall this time, because thankfully Brynjolf believed Karliah when she said I’d been here and left. Tomorrow, I’m going to get a job somewhere as far away from Riften as possible: Solitude. Sure, it’s home to the Thalmor Embassy, but as long as I don’t attract any attention I should be fine.
Damn it, me, stop being such a pessimist!
Chapter 64: Fredas, 24th Frost Fall, 4E 201
Good news: I’ve got a job in Solitude. It’s one of Delvin’s special ones.
Bad news: I’m doing it with someone, because it’s a two-person job. I don’t know who my partner is yet, but at this point I’ll take anyone but Niruin. I didn’t ask who they were, but I’ll be meeting them there. Whoever they are. Hopefully not Niruin. I really don't feel like dealing with him, ever.
Also, Brynjolf wasn’t anywhere around, which is probably a good thing. I was half-expecting to be ambushed the instant I set foot in the Flagon. Truthfully, I was this close to going in invisible, but I have standards. Besides, I’m pretty sure that was what Mercer was doing, and as I said: I have standards.
In any case, I left Riften as soon as I got my job. I’m staying the night in Whiterun - in the Drunken Huntsman, as usual, Sanguine ruined the Bannered Mare for me anyway - and with any luck I’ll be in Solitude by tomorrow afternoon. I’m supposed to meet my partner in the inn there, and then… well, I’m hoping said partner won’t be Niruin again but if worst comes to worst I’ll just find the contact and do the job myself.
With any luck, though, the job’ll get done soon.
Chapter 65: Loredas, 25th Frost Fall, 4E 201
Delvin Mallory, you are the sneakiest of sneaky bastards. I should have asked who my partner on this was, although you might not have answered… but come on. Brynjolf? Really? You know perfectly well we aren’t getting along right now, even if you don’t know why. Come on, I thought we were friends!
Anyway. For now, Brynjolf is keeping things strictly business, and I appreciate that, although… well. It only makes the inevitable worse. But until then… I might as well write about this job. Tomorrow morning, we need to find someone named Erikur. I’ll probably let Brynjolf do most of the talking if I can.
I guess… we’ll see what happens.
Chapter 66: Sundas, 26th Frost Fall, 4E 201
The plan is to plant some Balmora Blue on this person’s ship, so that they get arrested for smuggling. We did try to get it legitimately - or as legitimately as you can get illegal drugs - but I definitely wasn't paying that much. I don't even carry that much on me. So we’re sneaking in tonight to steal it. “We” meaning me and Brynjolf, who’s still trying to talk to me and definitely hasn't taken the hint.
At least there's one good thing about this. When you’re sneaking around on a job, you can't exactly talk, although I wouldn't put it past him to try. He would do that.
Anyway, it's almost dark. I’d better go. I’ll be back.
Chapter 67: Morndas, 27th Frost Fall, 4E 201
Bryn you idiot what in Oblivion were you thinking
Chapter 68: Tirdas, 28th Frost Fall, 4E 201
Well. That was… eventful. The guards are definitely going to remember Bryn for a while, so I think it goes without saying that he's not doing any more jobs in Solitude for some time. I don't think I’ll be doing more there for at least a couple months, either. While I’ll take Solitude over Markarth any day, I still would rather not be that close to the Thalmor Embassy. My current luck can only go so far, after all. Why did I think Solitude was a good idea, anyway?
Anyway, I probably should explain what went down. So, things were going pretty well. We’d sneaked down into the one ship to steal the Balmora Blue, somehow avoided alerting anyone to our presence, and while I picked the lock to the safe, Bryn kept watch. Naturally, it was then that he started trying to talk to me again. I'd like to say I did a good job of ignoring him.
Let's put it this way: I broke a grand total of nine lockpicks before I got in. These days, I rarely break one. So there was me, trying to ignore him and pick the lock and doing a particularly terrible job at both, because apparently I can’t multitask at all. Finally, I got in, grabbed at what was inside, and it would have been all good except that it was then that someone started coming down the stairs.
I turned invisible, and realized too late that Bryn couldn't do the same. I wasn't sure what I was expecting him to do, but I definitely wasn't expecting what actually happened. He got caught. No, he let himself get caught, I’m quite certain that he could have escaped if he'd wanted to. Instead, he distracted the guards by being generally extremely uncooperative, and by doing that I was able to slip out myself.
Once I was off the ship, I slipped behind some crates on the dock, opened the bag with the Balmora Blue in it triumphantly… only to find that there was none in there. Instead, there was a note in there, saying where to find the stuff.
Secured the Balmora Blue in the chest under the Wave just like you asked. Put the best lock on it gold can buy. Just remember that we're splitting the profit.
As it happens, it’s particularly difficult to pick locks underwater while also holding your breath and having to retreat to the surface every several seconds without anyone noticing you, but I managed. Broke far too many lockpicks, and I’m definitely going to need to pick some more up at some point, but that’s okay. I got the actual Balmora Blue, went to plant it on the other ship, and went back to the Erikur man - who, admittedly, is an arse - to get the reward.
I had a bad feeling that I was going to have to jailbreak Bryn again when he didn't show up the next morning for his half of the reward, but I only knew for sure once I did some discreet asking around. Apparently, the smugglers had gotten him on all sorts of charges, all for attempting to steal the Balmora Blue. The situation probably didn't improve once they figured out that someone (someone meaning me) had in fact stolen it.
Considering that we both definitely would have gotten caught if it hadn't been for Bryn, I figured I should at least keep him from being stuck in prison for however long his sentence turned out to be. (If I'm being completely honest, I… may have not done much in the way of rationalizing beforehand.) The thing is, getting in was the easy part. Getting out… not so much.
Let's just say… I might have gotten caught, and not because I wanted to, either. On the plus side of things, the guards threw me in with Bryn, and we… well, as it happens a really good way to get two people to talk things through is to shove them in a prison cell together.
As it happened, I… may have jumped to all the wrong conclusions. To sum things up, I assumed that after Cidhna Mine, Bryn hated me for a whole slew of reasons. I know now that I was wrong, about… a lot of things. I'm still a little pissed at him, but that's only because this idiot had a lockpick on him to begin with. He didn't need me to escape at all. In fact… I'm still having a hard time believing some of this.
This Solitude job was a test of my thieving ability, and according to Bryn, I passed it with flying colors. (Of course, he might just be saying that because I attempted to break him out of prison multiple times, but it's appreciated.) Apparently… while I kind of thought Bryn would be the next Guildmaster, some of the others have been discussing other options, like… me.
It took me a bit to realize Bryn wasn't kidding. According to him, I might not be quite as experienced as some of the more senior members, but he doesn't want the job. Neither does Karliah, nor Delvin, and Vex has apparently threatened to give him a first-hand demonstration of what the lockpick incident was like if he asks again. And… presumably I'm “well-liked.” If you leave Niruin out, then maybe. I wouldn’t actually consider myself all that likeable, but… whatever works, I guess?
Just… damn it, I’m an absolute idiot. Did I seriously think Bryn hated me because of the Forsworn thing? Because it’s not like I joined them or anything, we just worked together to get out of the supposedly inescapable prison, temporarily. But… enough about that.
I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that anyone would want me to be the Guildmaster, but… well, I’m slowly coming to terms with it, I guess? I mean, it’s not like I could possibly do any worse than Mercer, right?
Chapter 69: Middas, 29th Frost Fall, 4E 201
We stopped in Whiterun for the night. I might have been imagining things, but I’m pretty sure I saw Sanguine, or rather Sam. He winked at me. I promptly booked it into my room, because I am not dealing with a Daedra tonight. I’m too tired for this shit, and apparently I’m becoming the Guildmaster as soon as we’re back in Riften, too… still can’t believe that.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled, but… well.
Is it really a good idea to put down roots, so to speak? (Divines, I sound like a Green Pact Bosmer or something… sheesh.) You know what, I probably should have asked myself that before I sold my soul to Nocturnal. If worst comes to worst… I have a plan. It’s maybe not a really good plan, but it’s a plan, and as long as I have some idea what to do I’ll be fine.
So… I’m the Guildmaster of the Thieves Guild now, apparently. It’s official, and while my gut keeps telling me that I’m making a terrible mistake, my gut has been off lately, so I’ve been ignoring it. So far, so good. I can't say I'm looking forward to certain parts of the job (cough, the inevitable stacks of paperwork that come with leadership roles, cough) but… things are looking up. The Guild’s in better shape than it's been since Gallus was in charge.
I'm going to be completely honest here, I nearly cried when everyone came to the decision that I was, in fact, the best person for the job. Even Vex admitted that it wasn't like I could possibly do a worse job than Mercer, and coming from her, that's… really touching.
I joined the Thieves Guild to get what I needed to either hide permanently or keep running. Getting attached was never part of the plan… goes to show how good I am at sticking to plans, am I right? But I think, in this case, I'm glad everything went wrong, because everything’s turned out alright. The Thalmor aren't actively looking for me anymore. I think… maybe I can stay in Riften, for good.
Of course, there's still the whole Dragonborn thing. Shouldn't I be doing something more than just killing dragons? The Greybeards seem to think that I need to learn more, and they're right, but… clearly they know a lot of Shouts, why can't they just teach me themselves? Why is it at all necessary for me to run all across Skyrim?
Then, of course, there's the paranoid innkeeper who accused me of being a member of the Thalmor. If I'd been a member of the Thalmor, clearly I wouldn't have bothered talking with her if she was actually that important. I wouldn't have been alone, either. She did say that if I really was who I said I was, I'd have to come back eventually… and I'm beginning to think she might be right. While I highly doubt she can teach me any new Shouts, she might at least tell me what I need to know, unlike the Greybeards…
Yeah, who am I kidding. I'm not resorting to her unless I have no other options. And I have plenty of options, so I'm definitely not resorting to her anytime soon. Or really, ever.
I've got the Guild now, and I think... I can be happy here.
Chapter 71: Loredas, 1st Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
*picks mic back up* You didn't seriously think I was done with Lora, did you? :]
Remember what I said about not returning to Riverwood unless I had no other options? Well, everything went to shit yesterday, mainly because a dragon attacked. Sure, just another day in the life of Lora the Dragonborn Thief, right? Wrong. The dragon attacked Riften itself.
Good news: I brought it down.
Bad news: half the city saw me do it.
I used the chaos in the aftermath of the attack to grab what I could and fled. I reached Riverwood late last night, got a room, promptly collapsed into a bed - I actually thought I'd left this behind on accident, although I'm really glad I didn't - and… I actually decided to listen to the innkeeper. At this point, I legitimately had nothing left to lose, and I think the “innkeeper” could tell.
She still won't give me a name, not yet, because apparently my word on being Dragonborn isn't good enough, apparently I just have to kill a dragon and steal its soul in front of her, because of course I do. She thinks she knows where the next dragon attack will be, so… I'm already on the road, we split up and are meeting in Kynesgrove tomorrow, hopefully in time to figure out how to stop the resurrection.
Oh yeah, she seems to think that dragons aren't just coming back, they're coming back to life. I'm beginning to think she's not just paranoid but completely crazy, too. But you know what? Unlike the Greybeards, she's promised me answers if I can prove to her that I'm Dragonborn, and damn it all, at this point I really, really need answers.
It's not like I can go back to Riften at this point, anyway. They all know, and… I just can't.
Chapter 72: Sundas, 2nd Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
As it turns out, the “innkeeper” isn't completely crazy, just completely paranoid. Dragons are in fact being brought back to life, with a Shout, courtesy of the big black dragon that destroyed Helgen. Good news, they apparently can't be brought back if I'm the one that kills them, so there's that.
Also good news, the “innkeeper” finally determined that I wasn't a Thalmor agent and could, in fact, be trusted. Her name’s Delphine, and she's one of the last members of the Blades. (That explains why she’s so paranoid, at least… the Thalmor have been hunting them down since the First War with the Empire.)
Delphine thinks that the Thalmor are behind this, despite the fact that there was clearly a big black dragon doing the dragon resurrecting. She told me to meet her back in Riverwood, and seeing as it's not like I've got anything better to do… I might as well see what she's got planned. Besides, if this means I get to set Thalmor agents on fire, I'm completely okay with that. The Thalmor are utterly despicable, among… other things. We can at least agree on that much.
Chapter 73: Morndas, 3rd Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
I hope the Guild’s doing alright without me. Actually, who am I kidding, of course they're doing alright. They don't need someone like me. They don't need me. I just… Divines, I didn't even last a full day in charge. They shouldn't have put me in charge. Why did I think that was a good idea? Leaving was… probably for the best. And once I've done everything I have to as Dragonborn, assuming I’m still alive when it's all over, I'm doing what I should have done long ago. I’m leaving Skyrim.
I don't know where I’ll go from here, but one thing’s for sure. I've stayed here too long already. It's something of a miracle that the Thalmor haven't caught up with me already. It’ll be a legitimate miracle if they aren't back on my trail after I do… whatever Delphine has planned. Probably some sort of infiltration, and while it would work a hundred times better if I could get someone from the Guild to do it, someone the Thalmor don't know… that's no longer an option.
Even so, I miss them all. I miss Karliah, Delvin, Vex… I almost miss Niruin, but not quite. That bastard is un-missable. And Bryn… there's no way he doesn't hate me now. I didn't even last a day. Besides, he was basically running the Guild anyway. He doesn't need me. None of them need me. Me leaving… it's for the best.
I almost wish Bryn was here, just so I'd have someone to talk to besides a paranoid ex-Blade, or this journal. But I wouldn't wish any of this on him, or anyone… except maybe the Thalmor. Granted, the vast majority of my problems come from the Thalmor, so there's that.
I just hope he's okay. I hope everyone else is okay, because… I’m not. I haven't been for a very long time, and I suspect I never will be. Not while the Thalmor are still hunting me down, and they’ll only give up when I’m dead. As if that alone wasn’t bad enough, I have to save the damn world, despite the fact that I have no place in it anymore, and I haven't for a long time.
Fate’s cruel, isn’t it?
Chapter 74: Tirdas, 4th Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
I'm back in Riverwood. Delphine's plan is indeed infiltrating the Thalmor Embassy, despite the fact that we’re both fugitives from them and it was very clearly another dragon resurrecting the one we killed, not the Thalmor. I only agreed because I'm definitely better at stealth, and because the alternative would be the Guild. I didn't bring that up. Delphine did, and I… may have quickly agreed to Plan A. Maybe a little too quickly, but thankfully she didn't pursue it. It's really appreciated.
Anyway. I’m going to Solitude. I need to find a Bosmer named Malborn. He’ll smuggle my gear into the Thalmor Embassy, and then I’ll go into the place as a guest. I'll… probably be using the same illusion I used in Markarth, because there aren't a lot of Altmer in Skyrim and the ones that aren't here with the Thalmor tend to stay well away from them. So I’ll pretend to be a Nord. It shouldn't be that hard, all I need to do is act aggressively dumb, and few Nords are capable of magic so there’s that.
I'm heading out tomorrow morning. With any luck, I’ll be in Solitude by tomorrow night, and the party thing I've got a fake invitation to is the next night.
This is fine.
I'm in Solitude. Had to ride through the night to get here, but I'll have all of tomorrow to prepare for what I've got to do, mostly mentally. I've already given my equipment to Malborn, and once I'm into the Embassy, I'll need a distraction of some sort so I can slip out.
I'll figure it out once I'm in there. One step at a time.
It feels strange not wearing my Guild armor for once. I mean, I changed out what I'd been wearing for a darker-colored variant after becoming the Guildmaster, and it was what I was wearing when I fought that dragon… and what I was wearing when I fled Riften. Ironically enough, minus the dragon in Kynesgrove, I haven't run into a single one. Not that I’m complaining, I really don't like fighting those things, but... why?
Actually, I am complaining, but that’s beside the point. I’ve got an embassy to infiltrate, and while I doubt my alias of Friga Shatter-Shield will hold up to any close inspection (one of the women murdered by the Butcher in Windhelm, and I’m hoping news of that hasn’t gotten to the Thalmor yet… that and I’ll have to be able to maintain the Illusion making me look like a Nord as long as I need to), it’ll be enough to get me in.
Once I’m in? Well, stealth is kind of my thing now. So that’ll be the easy part. The hard part will be everything else. I’ll need to be completely on top of things, so I’ll… probably be sleeping through most of tomorrow.
I’ll see if I can find time to write more before I go. If not… well, here’s to hoping I survive this.
Here's how Diplomatic Immunity probably is going down for Lora, if you're interested...
Elenwen, squinting: You look... familiar.
Lora, sweating profusely: Um. No? I, uh, don't think we've, you know, met? Before, uh, now?
Elenwen: Are you... quite sure? You do seem a bit... nervous.
Lora: ...I, uh, shouldn't have said that, should I? Sorry. But you are quite attractive, and I probably shouldn't have said that either, so, um... sorry?
Elenwen: I'm going to go talk to some of the other guests.
Lora, much later: Mistakes were made.
Chapter 76: Turdas, 6th Sun’s Dusk, 4E 201
I’ve come up with a way to ensure this won’t ever fall into the Thalmor’s hands. Hadvar’s agreed to keep this journal for me, and to burn it if I’m not back by tomorrow morning to get it. I wish I didn’t have to rely on him, he’s enough at risk already because of me, but my only other option at this point would be Delphine. Or it would have been, if I’d had the sense to think about this back in Riverwood, because it’s too late to go back now.
Even if I had thought about this sooner, I… don’t think I would have given this to her. I could see her keeping it, and then when the Thalmor inevitably caught up with her, they’d get this regardless. So leaving this with Hadvar is likely my best bet. If worst comes to worst… I haven’t told him much, only what he needs to know. So the Thalmor won’t come after him, or shouldn’t.
Of course, all this is assuming that I don’t make it out of the Embassy, which I most likely will. I’ve just got to get through the first part, and it’ll be easy from there.
Chapter 77: Fredas, 7th Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
What do you know, I survived, and I got a whole bunch of these dossiers from the Thalmor for Delphine. I’m hoping at least one of them has the information she’s looking for in it. There’s one on her, one on Ulfric Stormcloak, one on some guy named Esbern, and… one on me. Surprisingly, the Thalmor had no idea where I'd gone off to after Helgen, although I know better than to assume that'll still be the case after what went down at the Embassy.
I think I’ll be keeping the dossier on me, because there’s only one person in Skyrim that I’d trust with that information, and it’s me. Seeing as I’ve got enough things in here that are going to stay private… I might as well copy in the information in the dossier on me. I suppose… it does explain what happened at least decently, although… it’s obviously biased. Very biased. Against me. It's… not entirely wrong, though.
Thalmor Dossier: Lorasephona
Status: Active (Capture or Kill), High Priority, Emissary Level Approval
Description: Female, Altmer, early 90s
Background: Lorasephona was considered an asset while we were working against her former fiancée, Ganriil, a prominent leader in the longest-lived resistance movement. With her indirect assistance, Ganriil was assassinated, and the resistance fell apart shortly. However, Lorasephona fled to Hammerfell soon after, leading us to believe she may carry information her fiancée entrusted to her before his termination. She proved to be quite adept at evading our agents, and has kept moving across Tamriel since. Her last known whereabouts were at Helgen just before the dragon attack, and she is believed to still be in Skyrim.
Operational Notes: Lorasephona, while perhaps not as dangerous as this dossier might lead one to believe, should still not be taken lightly. While she has no formal training with non-magical forms of combat, she was at the top of her class with respect to magic, and will not hesitate to use anything at her disposal against us. She seems to prefer fire-based attacks, but will often flee before engaging directly. Capture would be preferable, but termination is also acceptable if capture becomes impossible.
I'm back in Riverwood. The thing is, I'd left anything I didn't need for infiltrating the Thalmor Embassy with Delphine, minus this journal of course. So it's nice to have the rest of my stuff back.
I gave Delphine three of the dossiers I found, and it should go without saying which one I kept. I'm not trusting her with that much information on me, not yet at least. Maybe in the future. Right now, though, I've got bigger problems.
Remember how there was a dossier on some guy named Esbern? Apparently Delphine knows him, and apparently we need to get to him before the Thalmor do, which translates to me needing to get to him before the Thalmor do because “it's too risky” for her. Actually, we were marked as the same priority in our dossiers, and I'm almost tempted to shove mine in her face just to prove they hate us both equally… but I’m not quite that pissed off yet.
Anyway. This wouldn't be a problem if it weren't for where he's hiding out, or at least where the Thalmor think he’s hiding out: Riften. Knowing what I know about the city, he's probably somewhere in the depths of the Ratway, which means I’m going to have to sneak through the Guild. Clearly, this can only go well.
I didn't write this down earlier, but… when I was going through the Embassy, they had a prisoner, thief named Etienne who was practically at death’s door when I found him. They were torturing him for information on this Esbern man. He was a member of the Guild, presumably one that disappeared before I joined to begin with. He’s… certainly going to be in for a shock when he gets back.
I helped him get out, made certain that he could make it back to Riften on his own, then split. It was the least I could do, considering that… well. I mentioned the wood elf, Malborn. He guessed that he wouldn't make it through the night. He… was right. I probably could have saved him, too, if I'd just been faster…
In any case, this is… not going to be easy in the least. But I have to do this, and it's going to take a lot of invisibility potions to make this work.
Getting in is going to be the easy part. Getting out, presumably with this Esbern man in tow, is going to be far harder.
I'm going to need a lot of vampire dust and ice wraith teeth.
And Lora continues to make bad decisions. Trust me, if I had my way, she wouldn't have been stupid and run off from Riften in the first place. But characters tend to take on a life of their own, and at this point Lora has basically taken my plans for her, burned them, and scattered the ashes to the winds.
Come on, Lora. Stop making terrible life decisions and actually talk to people. Please.
Chapter 79: Sundas, 9th Sun’s Dusk, 4E 201
So I wasn’t able to get as many ingredients as I would have liked, but I found some. Enough for six thirty-second invisibility potions, although the alchemist in Whiterun looked at me rather oddly when I asked for vampire dust and ice wraith teeth specifically. I didn’t have time to worry about that, though, so I just brewed the potions and got out.
I’m staying the night in Riverwood again, because I know I won’t be getting any sleep once I’m in Riften. I’ll be sneaking into the Ratway then. I’m reasonably confident that I can go undetected, and if I slip up I’ve still got my Shadowcloak powers. The invisibility potions are for Esbern, because somehow I get the feeling he’s not particularly sneaky.
I just… damn it, of all the cities Esbern could have been hiding out in, it just had to be Riften, because of course it did. At this point, I would have taken Markarth over this, and I’ve made it quite clear just how much I hate the place. At least in Markarth… I know what to expect.
Riften is a different story entirely.
Success! I’m back in Riverwood, Esbern’s with me. He and Delphine are catching up downstairs. How the man’s still awake enough to talk, I have no idea, but I’m all but falling asleep as I write this. I don’t even know if it’s still Morndas, it might be past midnight, but I didn’t write an entry for Morndas so this is it. For now, I’m going to go sleep, I don’t quite have it in me for a lengthy entry tonight.
Not after everything.
Did Lora run into Brynjolf? No, surprisingly.
Did Lora run out of invisibility potions and have to pull on some dead Justiciar's robes as well as say some things she completely regrets to get Esbern out? Yes. But good news, nobody recognized her.
Chapter 81: Tirdas, 11th Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
So, we - Delphine, Esbern, and I - are camping out somewhere near the border of Whiterun Hold and the Reach currently. Why? Because there’s apparently this old temple that will tell us how to defeat Alduin, built by the predecessors of the Blades. And yes, both of them decided to come too, I had no say in the matter whatsoever.
If nothing else, I’m far better at stealth than outright combat, so having a couple of extra fighters won’t hurt if we wind up having to fight through anything. Then again, who am I kidding? This is the Reach. I’ll be surprised if we don’t run into the Forsworn at some point, and they're nasty.
Enough about the Forsworn, because there’s something quite important that Delphine mentioned this morning, that… I almost forgot about. While I was riding for Riften, someone came to Riverwood looking for me. Not a Thalmor agent, I doubt Delphine would have let one of them leave. A Nord, with red hair, armor too similar to mine to be an accident, and a certain way with words.
I can’t say I’m surprised the Guild is looking for me. If anything, I’m surprised that Bryn’s looking for me himself, after everything… well, I guess that does explain why he wasn’t in the Flagon last night. I was
wondering. In any case, Delphine had my back, and directed him towards Kynesgrove.
With any luck, I’ll be long gone by the time he figures out where I actually am. The world will have been saved, and I’ll be out of Skyrim for good.
I hear Morrowind is nice this time of year.
Chapter 82: Middas, 12th Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
Well, we found Sky Haven Temple. I’m staying the night here before heading back to High Hrothgar, but… anyway. I guess that if nothing else, I am glad that I wasn’t alone in this. Let’s just say we might have had to fight our way through the biggest Forsworn camp I’ve ever seen just to get inside. Oh, and a dragon was there. At least the dragon and the Forsworn were fighting each other when we showed up, and we were able to finish off the survivors.
From the sound of things, Delphine plans to base the Blades - well, what's left of them, anyway - in here. She did off-handedly mention that if I found anyone who would make a good Blade to send them her way, so I guess I’ll keep that in mind if I run into anyone as paranoid and stubborn as her and Esbern.
Well, Esbern might be
a little less stubborn a lot less stubborn, but what he lacks in sheer stubbornness he makes up for in vast amounts of paranoia. Seriously. I thought Delphine was paranoid, and then I ran into Esbern with his eleven different deadbolts on a reinforced door in the depths of the Ratway, enough nonperishable food stored away to feed an army for a year, and a complete refusal to trust me until I told him I was Dragonborn, Shouted to demonstrate it, and told him what Delphine had told me.
“Remember the 30th of Frostfall.”
I haven’t asked what happened on the 30th of Frostfall. The 30th of Frostfall was my first and last day as Guildmaster of the Thieves Guild, but somehow I doubt that’s what it means for them. If it’s something that unforgettable… it’s probably something involving the Thalmor, and all the despicable excuses for Altmer that make up its ranks.
I know that when both Delphine and Esbern first met me, their first thought was something along the lines of ‘Thalmor agent’. In truth, I can’t really blame them. Despite everything, I’m still an Altmer, a high elf. Throughout the Empire, that pretty much translates to Thalmor.
In Skyrim, I’ve only run into a few other Altmer that aren’t loyal to the Thalmor, and they’re few and far between. The fence in Windhelm. The sisters running the clothing store in Solitude. Possibly the Summerset Shadows, I didn’t ask while I was taking them out.
I didn’t fight in the First Great War, but Ganriil did. I’m fairly certain that was how he became disillusioned with the Thalmor, and maybe if I’d fought, too, maybe I would have known better. Maybe he would still be alive. Maybe the Thalmor would be long gone by now.
Maybe someday, I will be able to return to the Isles. Maybe the Thalmor will be attacked from within, or maybe the Empire will be able to pull itself together and counterattack. I’m not too hopeful about any of those possibilities, however. In my experience, fighting back against the Thalmor… doesn’t work, and only makes things worse.
Besides, I’m not a fighter, or a mage. I’m a thief who can somewhat hold her own with both physical and magical combat, but only just long enough to flee. I don’t fight. I run. I’ve been running for years, and I doubt I’ll be stopping anytime soon.
Chapter 83: Turdas, 13th Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
I’m staying the night in Whiterun, this time in the Bannered Mare. Not because of a lack of rooms in the Drunken Huntsman or anything, but because I’d barely gotten in there before Jenassa pulled me aside and mentioned a certain someone was here looking for me, again. I didn’t even need a description this time to know it was Bryn. Apparently, he’d asked the bartender here about me, and said bartender had mumbled something about Riverwood. Riverwood’s less than a day’s journey from here, and a few hours if you have a horse.
I’m pretty sure Bryn will have remembered that I passed up the Bannered Mare the one time we were in Whiterun together. He’s the type to remember details like that. So, if he comes back to Whiterun sometime in the middle of the night, I’m hoping he won’t find me. Well, actually, part of me almost wants him to find me, but I’m ignoring that part.
Actually… it’s not quite dark, and I might be able to convince the carriage driver to set off for Ivarstead now if I pay him enough. Then, if I leave Winter in the stable here, Bryn should assume I’m still somewhere in the city, because he knows I prefer riding by myself to hitching a ride, and after what went down in Solitude I’d be surprised if he couldn’t recognize Winter.
I might just sell her to the stable owner here and be done with it. I’m… going to have to get rid of her eventually, because I can’t take a horse with me to Morrowind and it’ll be significantly more difficult to hide a horse with me. And… I guess now’s a good a time as any.
Alright. My mind’s made up. I’ll sell Winter to the stable owner before the sun’s down, then see if I can catch a ride. If worst comes to worst, I could steal a different horse and ride for Ivarstead on my own, but… I’d really rather not do that.
The sun’s inching closer and closer to the horizon, and I’m really cutting it close here. I’d better go.
The stable owner just outside of Whiterun convinced me not to sell Winter just yet. I’ve left Winter with him, and when I return, if I still want to sell her then he’ll consider that as having covered her board. I’m mildly surprised he cared, but anyway. It took double the usual fare, but I convinced the carriage driver to take me halfway to Ivarstead, let me out there, and then go on to Windhelm. The fact that it was in the middle of the night likely didn’t help, either, but it’ll throw off anyone (cough, Bryn, cough) who’s following me.
I haven’t made the climb up to High Hrothgar yet, although I’m going to once I’ve gotten a few hours of sleep. I don’t need much, just enough that I won’t fall off the mountain or anything. We’ll see what the Greybeards know about a Shout that can defeat Alduin. I mean, it makes sense, but… what kind of a Shout could it possibly be?
Well. That was certainly something. It took Arngeir less than a minute to figure out that I’d been working with the Blades, and naturally, he then refused to help me, because I apparently “wasn’t ready.” Right. Well, Alduin isn’t going to wait for me to be ready before he eats the world, and I said as much, but Arngeir wasn’t budging.
Fortunately, one of the other Greybeards said… something. In Dovahzul. I understood like two words, one of which was Arngeir’s name, and the other was dovahkiin. Dragonborn. Whatever he said, it made Arngeir change his mind. He taught me a new Shout, Clear Skies, and then all but ordered me to go up to the top of the Throat of the World, to meet with the master of the Greybeards, Paarthurnax.
He... failed to mention that Paarthurnax was a dragon, although it’s nice to know that there’s at least one dragon around that doesn’t want to eat me. In fact, Paarthurnax is quite possibly nicer than some people I know, or knew. Granted, it’s not exactly hard to be friendlier than Mercer Frey was, but still.
Paarthurnax and I talked for a while, and unfortunately, he doesn’t know the Shout I need either, although he knows how I can learn it. The Shout is called Dragonrend, and it was made by the first humans to use the Thu’um long ago, back when dragons ruled over Nirn. So, naturally, I have to go back in time to learn it from them, because obviously there’s no easier way to learn things.
As if that alone wasn’t enough, there’s only one way to go back in time. Long ago, when Alduin was defeated, he wasn’t really defeated. He was sent forward in time by millenia through the use of an Elder Scroll, and apparently I can learn Dragonrend by using that same Elder Scroll to cast myself back to just before and witness the heroes using it.
If that sounds complicated, that’s because it is. I have no idea where to even begin looking for an Elder Scroll, never mind that specific one. Neither did Arngeir, I asked him on my way back down the mountain. So… maybe Esbern or Delphine will know something? I’ll ask Esbern first. Delphine will just tell me to go ask the Thieves Guild, and I am not explaining why I can't.
But hey, good news! I can breathe fire now, and that’s awesome! Paarthurnax taught me the first word of that Shout and agreed to teach me more the next time I come. So... I guess I'm finding an Elder Scroll!
Me, creating Lora: oh yeah she likes fire and her go-to weapon is dual-casting Flames into the faces of her enemies
Me, several weeks later: well she's going to be so thrilled when she learns Fire Breath
Chapter 85: Loredas, 15th Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
I've been going cross-country, just to be safe. Made it to Riverwood, and the inn there, for the night. The bartender - well, innkeeper now, I guess… Delphine did hand over ownership of the place to him - asked how Delphine was. I shrugged.
I paid for a room, and he gave me Delphine’s old one. Definitely not an accident, that's the one with the fake closet and the room underneath it. So I’ll be sleeping in there. I brought a bedroll, it’ll be fine, and I know for a fact you can't get through the false back of the closet without knowing how.
I asked about Bryn, and if the innkeeper had seen him lately. He hadn't, not since the time Delphine told me about, but better safe than sorry.
This is fine.
Chapter 86: Sundas, 16th Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
As it happens, I was right to be worried. Bryn did stop in last night, but left before dawn. Probably a good thing, although… he's getting close. I can't be too careful. I can't let him discover what a piece of skeever shit I really am, although… who am I kidding, he already knows that, I just can't face him.
I headed to Whiterun and hitched a ride to Markarth, but I got the driver to let me out closer to Karthwasten. From there, it wasn't far to Sky Haven Temple. Unfortunately, Esbern had no idea where to find an Elder Scroll either, but I at least have some idea of where to start looking… but not from Esbern, surprisingly.
Delphine suggested that the College of Winterhold might have some idea where to find an Elder Scroll, because apparently there’s a Thalmor agent stationed there that's been stationed there for some time. While it's entirely possible that they just wanted to keep an eye on the College, it's possible that… maybe they know something? I mean, I could always sneak into the Thalmor Embassy again, except that I’m obviously never doing something like that again.
Who am I kidding, I’m about to try and infiltrate the College of Winterhold, I know that won't be easy. As long as I stay out of the way of the Thalmor agent stationed there… I should be fine.
Keyword: should be. At least I won't have to worry about Bryn anymore once I’m up there, I’m fairly certain that he can't use magic. That's… probably a good thing, he can already talk his way out of anything.
I’ll head out tomorrow morning. Let's hope the College of Winterhold has some sort of a lead. At least Delphine didn't suggest the Thieves Guild as an option. It's… appreciated. Even if she doesn't know why.
Chapter 87: Morndas, 17th Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
I spent all day crossing the Reach to get to Whiterun, and I’m beginning to despise going cross-country. The amount of Forsworn patrols that decided a lone traveler was an easy target didn’t exactly help, either, and I’m a little bit annoyed because I kind of thought me and their leader were cool. Then again, we only worked together to get out of Cidhna Mine very briefly, and Bryn’s outright hostility probably didn’t help in the least… but still. You’d think Madanach would have mentioned to not attack the high elf in Guild armor… oh well.
Actually, on second thought, I probably should change out of my Guild armor, it’s really easily identifiable, but… well, for one thing, I don’t exactly have any other clothes, and for another… I’ve only been taking what I need. Anything I don’t need gets left behind some place or another, and if I don’t wear this… I’m going to have to leave it behind. Even if everyone in the Guild hates me now, I don’t think I can force myself to leave them all behind entirely. Maybe once all this Dragonborn business is over and done with and I’m on a ship to Morrowind…
In other news, I also had to fight not one, but two dragons on my way to Whiterun. One of them just showed up out of the blue, which was not fun in the least. Fortunately, it was a frost dragon, so my Flames-to-the-face strategy worked pretty well… and when I ran out of magicka, a quick YOL to the face did the trick. I love that Shout a little too much, but what can I say? I like fire, and legitimately being able to breathe it is even cooler. Metaphorically speaking.
The second dragon was resurrected before my eyes - I tried to get Alduin to fight me then and there, but he muttered something in Dovahzul that I didn’t understand and was probably an insult of some kind and flew off. Then, the dragon he was resurrecting proceeded to attack Rorikstead, which… well, good news, the town is saved.
Bad news, everyone saw me, and somehow I get the feeling it won’t take long for news of the Dragonborn in Rorikstead to spread. Naturally, I booked it as soon as I absorbed the dragon’s soul. I’m staying the night in Whiterun, although… well, let’s just say I’m not in the Bannered Mare or the Drunken Huntsman and leave it at that. Too risky.
Alright, fine, there’s an empty house inside the city called Breezehome that I broke into and am holing out in for the night. It… needs a lot of work, and considering that it’s been for sale since the first time I was in Whiterun, somehow I get the feeling I won’t be needing to worry about anyone buying the place anytime soon. I'll be long gone by then.
I should have been worried, I dropped in the Drunken Huntsman this morning to see if I could find Jenassa and was quickly informed by her that Bryn (she didn’t even bother trying to describe him this time, it’s not like it could be anyone else) was in here last night asking about me, and said he’d be back in the morning in case anyone saw me.
I slipped out of the city literally as fast as I could, and considering that the guards were actually doing their jobs for once, I might not have made it out without my Shadowcloak power. It’s… been saving me a lot lately, and I feel really bad about it because I’m going to be leaving Skyrim soon and never coming back.
Well, ‘soon’ meaning whenever I actually defeat Alduin, which might take a while… but oh well. I still sold my soul to Nocturnal, I’ll deal with the consequences.
...wait, if my soul is going to end up in Nocturnal’s plane of Oblivion and not Aetherius, does that mean Bryn’ll end up there too? And Karliah?
Oh no. Auriel's balls, there has got to be some way to fix this. The obvious solution is to head back to the Guild and try to mend things there, but I…
I can’t do that.
I'm going to add 'Auriel's balls' to my list of favorite Tamrielic swears now.
Chapter 89: Middas, 19th Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
I made it to Winterhold. For now, I’m staying in the inn, but I’ll try and slip into the College by posing as a prospective student tomorrow morning. I’ll figure out what they know about the Elder Scrolls - or if they have one, ‘borrow’ it (I’ll return it before I head to Morrowind) - and get out as soon as possible. In and out. It’ll just be in and out, and I need to avoid the Thalmor agent no matter what.
Well… at least mages usually wear hoods? I’ve got a stolen set of hooded mage robes for this, mainly because me trying to ‘join’ while wearing Thieves Guild armor will probably result in me not being let in at best and used for some sort of experiments at worst. And it’s perfectly normal for an Altmer to want to join the College, Altmer are naturally good at magic, so I’ll be fine as long as whoever that Thalmor agent doesn’t look too closely. Granted, they always do, but… I’ll just be in and out.
It’ll be fine.
Chapter 90: Turdas, 20th Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
Well, the College is going to be wondering where that new Altmer apprentice disappeared to for some time, but mission accomplished. I got into the library, talked the librarian into letting me see his Elder Scroll-related stuff (he was an orc, so that wasn’t an easy feat in the least), and… well, as it happens, the College didn’t have any Elder Scrolls. However, I’ve got a lead.
There was someone at the College not too long ago that was obsessed with the Elder Scrolls, someone by the name of Septimus Signus. Apparently he took off to the north of here for.. some reason. Guess who needs to find him now?
That’s right, me.
Well… how hard can it be to find a crazy Scroll scholar? He can’t be that far away. It can’t be that hard to find him.
Chapter 91: Fredas, 21st Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
Correction: it was, in fact, very hard to find him, and it took all day. Fortunately he’s agreed to let me stay the night, which… well, let’s just say I was considering taking my chances outside, and I nearly froze several times during the day.
I might have accidentally melted the ice I was walking on at one point and fallen into the sea... He’s… not right in the head, let’s put it that way.
Well… good news, I have a much better idea of where to find the Elder Scroll I need! According to my new “friend” Septimus, there’s one not only in Skyrim, but not far from here, either. There’s just one little issue. And by that, I mean one glaringly big issue.
The Elder Scroll is in a Dwemer ruin. The place Septimus marked on my map is called Aftland Alftand and the Scroll is almost certainly somewhere inside. Septimus was a little too enthusiastic about helping me… unnerving, but I’ll deal with it. He’s a scholar, anyway, he can’t be that formidable of a foe if he changes his mind and decides he wants the Scroll itself instead of some weird transcription thing.
Oh, yes, I also have to figure out how to transcribe the Elder Scroll, otherwise… well, I guess I could never return to Septimus, and I think I’ll be doing that regardless, but I might as well do his transcription thing on the off chance I am ever back in the area and feel like going to visit my very insane Elder Scroll enthusiast friend.
I’m going to try to sleep.
I take that back, I’m definitely not sleeping tonight, Septimus is far too creepy for that. Seriously, though… and I thought some of the crazies down in the Ratway were bad. Speaking of the Ratway…
Well, the Guild seemed to be doing alright when I bluffed my way out by pretending to be a Thalmor agent. There was a lot of distaste and glares thrown in my general direction, but I was dressed up as a Thalmor Justiciar, so that’s likely part of it. I’m pretty sure none of them recognized me, thank Auriel. But I didn’t see Bryn anywhere around, and now… I know why.
He’s definitely been looking for me. I don’t know why, and I don’t want to know why. I’d like to think it’s because he’s worried about me… but who am I kidding, that’s not why.
...I still miss him, though.
In other news, Septimus has finally passed out, so I think I’m safe for now. I’m still going to put a fire rune next to my bedroll. Note to self: dispel said fire rune tomorrow morning before I step on it.
Chapter 92: Loredas, 22nd Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
I forgot to dispel the fire rune before I stepped on it, but on the bright side I’ve been practicing my Restoration magic anyway, and Septimus Signus sleeps like a horker. He probably still was for some time after I left. In any case, I've made it to
Alfland Aftand Aftland. Now I just, you know, have to figure out how to get inside. I know that sounds easy, but it's really not.
There's a building up top that looks important, but I can't figure out how to get in. I might have been able to pick the lock, except that I have no idea where on the building the lock even is. For all I know, there might not even be a door! I'm hoping there is, and I mean, the Dwemer had to get into their cities somewhere, right?
There's a blizzard outside right now, so I’m camped next to the weird gated structure thing and trying to not freeze. And by that, I mean I've slapped down a couple of fire runes and am desperately trying not to freeze or set myself on fire. I like fire, sure, but that doesn't extend to being burned alive, for hopefully obvious reasons. And I really don't like the cold.
This damn Elder Scroll had better be worth it…
Thank Auriel, I think the blizzard’s settling down at least somewhat. I'll do some more writing when I can.
Chapter 93: Sundas, 23rd Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
So there was this expedition that attempted to burrow down into
Alftand Afand Alfland the Dwemer ruin not too long ago, and I’ve run into the corpses of most of them at this point, as well as a slightly-insane Khajiit addicted to skooma and definitely in withdrawal. I… did try to reason with him. Emphasis on tried. I was forced to kill him to save myself, and in truth I’m trying not to think too hard about that fact.
I’m camped out in a corner and I’ve set fire rune after fire rune around my makeshift campsite, because I’ve heard tales of the Falmer kidnapping the unwary that fall asleep in Dwemer ruins. It would be better if I had someone else I could depend on to take turns keeping watch with. The last time I was in a Dwemer ruin, I was with Bryn and Karliah. Needless to say, that wasn’t an option this time around, so fire runes it is.
Even if I wasn’t a light sleeper, the sound of a fire rune going off next to you is the sort of thing that would wake even the heaviest sleepers up. And even if I wasn’t a light sleeper, I won’t be getting much rest tonight. (Is it even nighttime? I honestly have no idea, but I’m tired and I need at least some sleep or I won’t be at my best tomorrow, and I need to be at my best tomorrow.)
I guess there’s one good thing about being in a Dwemer ruin, though. Bryn would be a fool to follow me down here, and if I know anything about Dwemer ruins, it’s that there are lots of ways back to the surface.
Chapter 94: Morndas, 24th Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
I found the Elder Scroll! Now I just have to hope this is the one Paarthurnax wanted me to find. I’m completely out of places to look if it isn’t. I still need a way out of Blackreach, too… as it happens,
Aftland was connected to this huge underground city made by the Dwemer. Blackreach, if Septimus was to be believed. I… was wondering what on Nirn he was talking about when he said I’d have to pass through Blackreach. I had no idea that there was a whole city underground like this… makes you wonder how the Dwemer just disappeared.
Then again, I’ve heard what they did to the Falmer. It’s probably for the best that they’re all gone.
Currently, I’m still in the tower where I found the Elder Scroll, if you can call it that. Can you call it a tower if it’s underground? I’m too tired to guess at this right now, but anyway. I’ve got my fire runes set around me, I’ll be good, the Falmer can go fuck themselves.
Chapter 95: Tirdas, 25th Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
Good news, I found a way out, and as it happens this tower is not exclusively underground. There’s a… some weird sort of platform thing that travels up and down between the surface and Blackreach. I don't know what it's called, but it's some weird Dwemer machinery that I’d like to never use again, thank you very much, I do not like being thrown up into the air by weird flying platforms. But regardless, I got out, thank Auriel, I hate being underground, I hate the Dwemer, I definitely hate the Falmer...
Anyway! I have my Elder Scroll, and while I didn't have any idea where I was then, I could see the Throat of the World from where I was and that's where I needed to go. I'm still not sure where I am, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be in the Rift soon and if I just stay close to the mountain I’ll make it to Ivarstead. I can make the climb to High Hrothgar from there… maybe Arngeir will let me stay the night. I’ll need sleep if I’m going to fight Alduin.
Chapter 96: Middas, 26th Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
I was this close to just giving up and going to fight Alduin today, but fortunately common sense won out here. Still… how in Oblivion did Arngeir figure out that I’m running away from the Guild? Well, he didn’t mention anything specific, but… am I really that obvious?
Anyway. I’m staying the night in High Hrothgar, taking some time to rest and recuperate, because I am so damn tired from running all across Skyrim and Blackreach looking for this Elder Scroll and I’m going to need the rest if I’m fighting Alduin tomorrow. So, I probably should get to sleep and stop writing, but on the other hand… I’m honestly terrified.
I might die tomorrow. I might be going to my death. Granted, any day could be my last, but usually I’m pretty good at staying out of deadly situations. And to think, it isn’t even coming from the Thalmor. Surprising. I kind of always thought it would come from them, really…
But… well. If I die, I die. That’s the end of it. That’s the end of the world, too, because apparently I’m the only one who can defeat Alduin, unless there’s another Dragonborn running around somewhere, in which case I’d gladly let them have the damn job. I don’t want any glory. In fact, glory is legitimately the last thing I want.
If I could have anything… I’d have the Thalmor forget about me, forget I even existed, and I’d go back to the Guild. Unfortunately, there’s no way in Oblivion the Thalmor are forgetting about me, and I can’t go back to the Guild. I just can’t.
On the bright side, if I die to Alduin, I won’t have to worry about getting someone to incinerate this journal. He’ll have that bit covered.
Chapter 97: Turdas, 27th Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
Auriel’s balls, I thought it would be over by now in one way or another. I’d be dead, and the world would be damned, or Alduin would be dead, and the world would be saved. Neither of those happened, needless to say. It was all going so well, too. I learned Dragonrend (I never want to use it again but I know I’ll have to), Alduin showed up, Paarthurnax and I fought him…
...and he flew off. I don’t know where to. Paarthurnax believes he’s gone to Sovngarde, and presumably that means he has a way there that doesn’t involve dying - it’s not like I could get there, anyway, I’m not a Nord or a warrior - so I need to follow him, somehow.
Currently, the plan (which is admittedly not great) consists of me somehow getting a dragon loyal to Alduin to switch sides and tell me where his portal is. Paarthurnax thinks it’s quite likely that I can convince them to change sides, seeing as I apparently did defeat Alduin, but... I don’t know. I really don’t know.
I’ve asked the Greybeards about it, and when I say the Greybeards, I mean Arngeir. Arngeir had a suggestion on how to capture a dragon, at least. The palace in Whiterun is called Dragonsreach. Rumor had it that it captured a dragon once, long ago… and while the place did seem to be mostly made of wood now, I guess it’s worth a shot.
So… I’m going to Whiterun.
Chapter 98: Fredas, 28th Sun's Dusk, 4E 201
Well. Once I revealed my identity as the Dragonborn, Jarl Balgruuf the Greater of Whiterun agreed to let me use his keep to capture a dragon, with one “small” condition: that I bring the war to a ceasefire first. While I hate to admit it, the man’s got a point. Whiterun is still neutral in the Civil War, and that means both the Empire and the Stormcloaks will latch onto any sign of weakness. While I’m fairly certain I can keep things from going south, if things go badly, a dragon burning Whiterun the way that Alduin burned Helgen would be a pretty glaring sign of weakness.
So, I’m going to be running all over Skyrim, again, to negotiate a temporary cease-fire until the dragons are dealt with and the world isn’t in danger of being eaten by a big black dragon who likes setting things on fire more than I do.
First things first, I’m heading back up to High Hrothgar, because if we’re going to negotiate a temporary truce, it needs to be somewhere neutral. Whiterun could work, except that I suspect Balgruuf would say something about how both sides would be able to exploit the weaknesses in his city… or something like that. I hate politics, but it looks like I’m about to be stuck in the middle of them. Great.
If I can get Arngeir to agree to host this peace council thing, I’ll head to Windhelm first. I have no love for Ulfric Stormcloak, not with the way the Dunmer are treated in his city, but if I have to choose between him and the Thalmor, I’ll choose him any day, reluctantly. It’s only a matter of who I hate more, because one of my closest friends is a Dunmer… or was a Dunmer, anyway. Debatable if she would consider us friends still, after what I pulled.
Karliah probably thinks quite little of me now, just like Bryn and the rest. At least… well, Vex was right about one thing. I haven’t done any worse than Mercer, and I don’t plan to. The Skeleton Key is staying in the Twilight Sepulcher, thank you very much, and I’m not about to murder my friends. I’d die before I did that.
More likely than not… either Bryn or Karliah will wind up as Guildmaster, or has. I would think Bryn, except that he made it quite clear he wasn’t remotely interested… so maybe Karliah? I don’t know.
What I do know is that I miss the days when I could just be Lora, the thief, and not Lora the gods-damned Dragonborn, running around trying to save the world. Those days were nice… although even then, I knew they wouldn’t last, although I didn’t know why. I’d expected that the Thalmor would find me eventually, and I’d have to flee again. As it happened, I did have to flee, but not because of the Thalmor.
This… will seal my fate, however, because if the Empire is involved at this peace council, someone from the Thalmor will worm their way in, and it’ll be impossible for them not to recognize me. They’ll know for sure I’m in Skyrim, and notably not dead. So, once I’ve defeated Alduin… to Morrowind it is. It's not part of the Empire anymore, so the Thalmor won't have any sort of jurisdiction there. That, and Morrowind is about as far away from the Isles as I can get.
I almost miss the Isles, but in truth, I don't really. I grew up with the Thalmor, and back then, I thought the Thalmor were in the right and Altmer were all superior and... I believed all their propaganda. I don't miss that at all. In fact, if my life could go back to the way it was then... I don't think I would go back. I wouldn't want to go back to being so naive that I couldn't see what was right in front of me.
Chapter 99: Loredas, 29th Sun’s Dusk, 4E 201
Arngeir agreed, reluctantly. He doesn’t seem too happy about me using High Hrothgar for a peace treaty, but he didn’t say no, either. Personally… I feel like it’s not actually the peace treaty he’s opposed to - I mean, the Way of the Voice is all about pacifism - but one of the parties involved: Ulfric Stormcloak.
He can Shout, and I know where he learned it from. Before the Great War, he was in training to be a Greybeard himself, but then the Great War happened. The Aldmeri Dominion attacked, and Ulfric left, without looking back. I can respect the not looking back part. I can’t respect completely ignoring everything he’d been taught about using the Voice, because the only exception to the Way of the Voice is me. An elf. The guy must hate elves.
This is going to be fun.
I’m staying the night in Kynesgrove, mainly because I want to be in and out of Windhelm. I’ve been here before, once, with Delphine. We saw Alduin resurrect a dragon from the mound above the town, and took it down. I distinctly remember the innkeeper here freaking out about the “dragon attack” when we got here.
Dragon attack… yeah, right. If a dragon had actually attacked, Kynesgrove would be rubble by now. Instead, the town’s completely fine, and I’m staying in the inn here. Fortunately, the innkeeper didn’t remember me from then, just assumed I was another traveler coming that had heard about the dragon attack, and assured me that it was “completely safe” now.
The amount of bullshit that woman can spout has not ceased to amaze me, let me tell you. It almost makes me miss Delphine. Sure, she’s a bitch, but she’s at least honest, and doesn’t waste time on bullshit. We get along… decently.
Anyway: Windhelm. Tomorrow. Get in, talk to Ulfric Stormcloak, get him to come to High Hrothgar for the peace treaty. Obviously his ego doesn’t need stoking, the guy is running a semi-successful rebellion named after him, but I’m going to have to be careful, because I’m an Altmer. As a general rule, Altmer means Thalmor.
If the dossier I found on him in the Thalmor Embassy is any indication, that guy has more reason to despise the Thalmor than most people. It doesn’t excuse his actions, not by a long shot, but I can at least be somewhat sympathetic. The problem is going to be convincing him that I’m not a Thalmor plant or anything.
Wait, there’s another Altmer living in Windhelm, isn’t there? The fence, the one I had to talk to in order to deal with that rival guild of thieves. Obviously talking to her is a big no-no and I’ll definitely have to avoid her, but if there’s another Altmer living in Windhelm, then presumably the Stormcloaks don’t instantly assume all Altmer are Thalmor. They just assume all Dunmer are second-class citizens. I wish there was something I could do…
You know what, there is something I can do, but I’ll wait until dark to do it, and after I’ve already gotten Ulfric Stormcloak to agree to come to High Hrothgar. The last thing I need is for everyone to know the Dragonborn is a thief.
On the bright side, I have been getting better with my pickpocketing! Bryn would be proud of me… minus the fact that he must hate me by now. So there’s that.
I can't quite believe we made it to a hundred chapters, honestly! We'll see how much longer the story goes for... who knows, I might have another hundred in the works! (I only have a few pre-written right now, though. Once I'm out of school I'll be able to finish the story~)
Chapter 101: Morndas, 1st Evening Star, 4E 201
Ulfric Stormcloak is coming to the peace council. I was… a little surprised at how quickly he agreed, actually, although at first he assumed (wrongly) that I was coming to join the Stormcloaks. No thank you, as much as I’d love to fight the Thalmor, I’m not fighting for a cause I don’t believe in and a cause that hates elves and mages. The offer’s appreciated.
Anyway, I’m going to sleep for a few hours, then once it’s dark, slip back into Windhelm and ‘accidentally’ rob a few certain people blind. I remember where the fence lives, so I’ll just sneak into her place, leave the stuff there, and then head out. It’ll be fine. Serve them right, too.
I’m back, mission accomplished, and now I’m going to go sleep because Divines know I need it. Badly. This whole Dragonborn thing has not been good for my sleeping schedule. But anyway, tomorrow I’m going to head off to Solitude. We’ll see what happens there. Hopefully General Tullius agrees as easily as Ulfric Stormcloak did.
Hopefully he doesn’t assume I’m there to join the Legion, too.
Chapter 102: Tirdas, 2nd Evening Star, 4E 201
Staying the night in Dragon Bridge, it’s not far from Solitude. I’ll probably try and be in and out of there, too. Sure, the Thalmor are mostly in their Embassy alone, not Solitude, but it can’t hurt to be careful. It’ll be hard enough to go undetected regardless.
In other news, I have been walking all day and I am so damn tired. I miss my horse.
Chapter 103: Middas, 3rd Evening Star, 4E 201
What do you know, General Tullius assumed I was here to join the Legion at first, too, because of course he did. He was a lot more professional than Ulfric Stormcloak, though… and in truth, if I had to join anything, I would most likely join the Imperial Legion - but first I’d ensure the Thalmor were taken care of. Obviously, getting rid of the Thalmor would be impossible, so I… won’t be taking a side in this Civil War. It’s probably for the best. After all, it isn’t my war to get involved in.
Regardless, General Tullius has also agreed to come to the peace council, thankfully. It helped when I mentioned that Ulfric was going. His second-in-command also helped, a Nord who I’m pretty sure is named Rikke and I have no idea if I got that right or not. I hope I did, she seemed like a decent sort.
Anyway, I was going to head back to Dragon Bridge for the night, except for one little (and by little I mean huge) issue: I saw Bryn, and I’m reasonably certain he saw me, too. I can’t risk staying in Solitude any longer, so I’m going to slip out as soon as it gets dark. I can do this. I mean… I’m good at sneaking around. I’ve got this. I’ll just head back to Dragon Bridge, grab the things I stashed there, and book it as far as I can in the general direction of High Hrothgar. It’s not a great plan, but it’ll work.
So why am I so worried?
Chapter 104: Turdas, 4th Evening Star, 4E 201
As it happens, I was right to be worried, because while my sneaking skills are quite good, I wasn’t quite paranoid enough to go invisible. I should have, because I was followed halfway to Whiterun before he finally made himself known, and by ‘he’ I obviously mean Brynjolf.
Auriel’s balls, why couldn’t he just leave well enough alone? Why did he have to follow me? Even if the Guild would take me back at this point - which they wouldn’t, not after what I pulled - I can’t go back. If the Thalmor aren’t well aware that I’m around by now, they will be soon, and I’ll have no choice but to flee to Morrowind. So it’s not like I could stay in Skyrim, even if I wanted to… and I do want to, but that doesn’t matter, because I have no choice.
At least I still haven’t done as bad as Mercer, because while slipping a paralysis poison into Bryn’s pocket and running was a terrible thing to do that I’m still regretting now and probably will for the rest of my life… I still haven’t done anything quite as bad as Mercer, and I don’t plan to.
I hope Bryn finally gets the message. He’s a good man, and… reading over some of my entries from earlier… it’s fairly clear that I didn’t have that high of an opinion of him to begin with. I’m still not sure what changed, but whatever did… it’s killing me slowly from the inside.
But on the bright side, my pickpocketing skills have improved enough that I was able to do that! That’s not a good thing, though. And the look in Bryn’s eyes when he realized what I’d done… that’s going to haunt me for the rest of my days.
I didn’t sleep last night. I don’t think I’m going to sleep tonight, either. I can’t risk stopping for longer than a few minutes until I get back to High Hrothgar… hopefully I’ll be able to get at least some sleep there. Hopefully. Fingers crossed.
In any case… I’ve lingered here long enough. It’s time to move. I’ve told the Jarl of Whiterun what’s going on, and he’s agreed to attend as well, mainly because he’s the reason I’ve been running across Skyrim lately.
Chapter 105: Fredas, 5th Evening Star, 4E 201
I made it to High Hrothgar and I’m starting to see things. They’re not nice things, either. They never mentioned that your deepest regrets start resurfacing when you’re exhausted enough and still pushing yourself on. I don’t even know why I’m writing at this point, I should be sleeping, and I nearly passed out on Arngeir when I got here. That was… fun.
I’m going to go sleep now. The peace council is on the seventh, and I’m going to need all the rest I can get to deal with that nasty piece of work. It’ll be bad enough even if the Thalmor don’t show up.
Chapter 106: Loredas, 6th Evening Star, 4E 201
Arngeir keeps asking me if I’m okay. I’m not okay. But that doesn’t matter. I’m the Dragonborn, and the world needs the Dragonborn desperately. So I have to be okay. Or I at least have to pretend.
Either I’m really bad at pretending, or Arngeir is just really good at reading people. It might be both. It’s probably both.
I’m going to go back to sleep before he can ask me again. Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is also the peace council, which I’m not remotely ready for in the least, but that doesn’t matter. I have to do it, whether I like it or not, and whether I’m ready or not.
I get that Arngeir means well, but… he can’t help me now.
No one can.
Chapter 107: Sundas, 7th Evening Star, 4E 201
The peace council was a nightmare, but I did what I had to. Ulfric Stormcloak was a little shit and any respect I had for the man instantly vanished when he basically threw a tantrum despite the fact that I tried to make the treaty as even as possible. Speaking of which, whose idea was it to have me have the final say in things? Whoever decided that was an idiot.
The Thalmor showed up, or rather, Elenwen did. She the one currently leading the Thalmor in Skyrim, and if I could have set her on fire and gotten away with it, I would have. I did get the satisfaction of kicking her out on her arse, but that was it, and the satisfaction from that was rather short-lived.
In addition, Delphine and Esbern showed up. How they even knew about the peace council, I don’t know, but I was glad to have them there… initially. That was, of course, before Delphine decided to throw an ultimatum on me afterwards. Apparently, the Blades will never assist me again if I don’t kill Paarthurnax.
Yes, that Paarthurnax. The dragon who is the leader of the Greybeards, generally really peaceful, and definitely doesn’t deserve to be murdered in cold blood. Delphine’s reasoning was that since he betrayed dragons before, he would betray us, too. By that logic… she might as well execute me, too, seeing as if I hadn’t been stupid, maybe Ganriil…
I was this close to telling her exactly what I thought of her ultimatum, which was something along the lines of, I don't know, YOL TOOR SHUL . The only reason I didn’t set her on fire on the spot was because I doubt Arngeir would have approved of me doing it in High Hrothgar, and also Esbern was there.
Also, for what it’s worth… she did help me out a lot for a while. So I won’t be setting her on fire, I think. I’ll just never speak to her again. Honestly, it’s her loss, although I’ll miss Esbern. And besides, I’m heading to Morrowind soon anyway, so she’s just one person I won’t be missing there. Never mind that I’ll be missing a lot of people anyway.
Regardless… it’s decided. Both the Imperials and the Stormcloaks have (very reluctantly) agreed to a cease-fire until Alduin’s dealt with. So, Jarl Balgruuf’s agreed to let me use his keep to capture a dragon. Fortunately, I know how to get a dragon to show up there, thanks to Esbern. Apparently, if you Shout a dragon’s name, they tend to take it as a challenge and more often than not show up and try and kill you. They must not call each other by name often.
I’m almost tempted to Shout Alduin’s name, but I feel like that wouldn’t go well. I’ve got the name of the dragon I’ll be calling, who happens to be Alduin’s second-in-command… or former second-in-command, maybe. Paarthurnax suspects that the loyalty of some dragons may be shifting from Alduin to me, because apparently I defeated Alduin in combat. I wouldn’t have considered that defeating, I would have considered that barely holding my own, but he did flee, so there’s that…
Anyway. I’ll be heading to Whiterun tomorrow, take a day to get as prepared as I can to do this, then call this dragon. I’ll do whatever I have to do to get this dragon to tell me where Alduin’s portal to Sovngarde, because chances are his second-in-command will know. Then, I’ll head there, as fast as I can, no stops for anything. Then, I’ll go in and kill Alduin.
I know better than anyone that it won’t be that easy, and that things never go according to plan in Skyrim, at least not for me, but it’s worth at least writing down. I’ll at least have some idea of what to do, at least until everything goes wrong.
I’m going to go sleep now. Auriel knows I need it.
Chapter 108: Morndas, 8th Evening Star, 4E 201
I got to Whiterun fairly early, mainly because I might have used the Become Ethereal shout and a lot of luck on my part to just jump down the other side of the Throat of the World. It was… certainly quick. And also terrifying, because every one of those jumps could have and should have killed me. That would not have been good if they had, then the world really would be screwed, because I’d screwed myself over by jumping off a mountain and accidentally killing myself in the process.
Anyway. I’ve bought literally every health, magicka, and stamina potion I could get my hands on, and mixed together several more with ingredients I got from the local alchemist. Let’s hope no one else needs alchemy ingredients for a few days, because she’s sold out because of me. I’ve repaired and upgraded my gear as best as I can (granted, I have no training in smithing, formal or informal) and I think… I’m ready. I'm ready as I ever will be, anyway.
Tomorrow, I’ll call the dragon. I won’t kill him - although I definitely could - but I’ll lure him into the trap. How I’m going to do that, I’m not sure, but dragons tend to be arrogant, so maybe if I trick him into thinking I’m retreating... maybe. Tomorrow, we’ll see what happens.
Tomorrow, I Shout for Odahviing.
You’d think that slipping a paralysis poison into someone’s pockets and booking it would be a pretty big hint that they want to be left alone. I’ve come to the conclusion that Bryn is 1) an idiot (well, I already knew that) and 2) really bad at taking hints, because guess who showed up right as I was finishing tonight’s entry?
If you guessed Bryn, you get a stolen sweetroll. I mean, I knew the locks on the doors of the Bannered Mare weren’t great, but Bryn picked that one in a matter of seconds, and I didn’t hear a single lockpick break. I didn’t even hear him come in. Delvin should stop calling himself a master of stealth, because I’m pretty sure Bryn could best him anytime…
Auriel’s balls, do I miss them all. That’s why… well. We talked. I didn’t paralyze him this time, mainly because that was a terrible, dumb, terribly dumb thing to do. He said he didn’t know what exactly I was running from (accurate, even I’m not sure what I’m running from these days) but said that if I was going to leave… to at least stop by the Flagon and say goodbye.
If I survive Alduin… I’ll do that. Riften’s close to the pass into Morrowind, anyway, so I won’t be going out of my way or anything. It’ll be fine. Who am I kidding, it’s not going to be fine, I’m going to want to not leave once I’m back. But I’ll have to. And I will.
But I’ll at least say goodbye this time. They deserve that much.
Chapter 109: Tirdas, 9th Evening Star, 4E 201
I survived Odahviing. I’m writing this from a corner in Dragonsreach, and I’m thinking I’d better hurry up because that arse of a court mage the Jarl has is getting a little too curious about the dragon stuck in the trap, and I doubt Odahviing will tolerate that for much longer. I wouldn’t if I was him, honestly.
The short version is, we came to an agreement. I’ll set him free from the trap, and in return, he’ll take me to where Alduin’s portal is. To Sovngarde. It’s an ancient Nordic ruin called Skuldafn, and according to Odahviing it’s impossible to reach without flying, so… there’s that. I guess I could try and get Paarthurnax to take me, except it’s debatable whether Paarthurnax would even know where it is, and that would be at least another two days. Sure, two days probably doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but I just want to get this over with. I want to be done. I want to fulfill my destiny and be done with it.
Being Dragonborn really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’ve seen some of the local guards glancing my way enviously, and… if they knew the kinds of things I’ve had to deal with, I doubt they’d be jealous in the least. Let’s see, since coming to Skyrim, I’ve nearly died more times than I can count, nearly got eaten or burned alive by dragons more times than I can count, watched the city of Helgen burn, had to infiltrate the Thalmor Embassy for some reason, had to deal with Delphine, had to make a peace treaty happen between both sides of the civil war so I could actually catch this dragon…
There’s also the small issue that Odahviing might just eat me when I set him free, but… I’d say I can probably trust him. Well, no. Maybe ‘trust’ isn’t the right word. It’s more… he respects strength, I think. I kicked Alduin’s arse. And I tricked him into getting captured, although I definitely would have kicked Odahviing’s arse if I needed to.
The fact that his scales are far too close in color to Bryn’s hair doesn’t exactly help, either. Nobody mentioned Odahviing was a red dragon. I mean, I’m pretty sure his name translates roughly to… snow-hunter-something. So I was expecting a white dragon, or at least light grey, like Paarthurnax. Most of the dragons I’ve seen so far haven’t been brightly colored, but then again, it wouldn’t make sense for all of them to be various shades of grey, either.
Anyway. I think Odahviing’s going to eat the court mage if I take any longer, and I really don’t want that to happen (as annoying as the man is) so I’m going to stop stalling and set him free. Hopefully he doesn't eat me.
Wish me luck.
Chapter 110: Middas, 10th Evening Star, 4E 201
I don’t actually know if it’s Middas yet, but I do know that Odahviing flew through half of the day and most of the night to get here, and… actually didn’t eat me. Dragons do, apparently, have a code of honor. Even if he only dropped me off at the bottom of a temple that I have to fight my way through to get to the portal, it’s progress, and I can definitely get there.
Something else Odahviing told me before flying off… he said he’ll follow whoever wins this. So if I win, he’ll follow me. If Alduin wins, he’ll go back to following Alduin. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that he likes to be on the winning side. He didn’t admit it, but… I think he does like me, somewhat, if the amount of talking he did on our way to Skuldafn was any indication.
Honestly, he reminds me of someone else I know, or knew, although instead of red scales, that someone has red hair, and… Auriel’s balls do I miss him.
I’m doing this for you, Bryn. I’m doing this for you and everyone, both in the Guild and elsewhere. I have to save the world for everyone who can still live in it without fearing that the Thalmor will catch up to them. I have to save the world so someone, someday, can give the Thalmor exactly what they deserve. I highly doubt it will be me. Actually, I’m going out of my way to avoid the Thalmor, I’m the last person to fight back against them. But I do hope someone does. Someone needs to. It just won’t be me.
Anyway. I’ve stalled long enough, it’s time I got in there. I can see far too many draugr, at least two different dragons flying around (maybe more, hopefully not more), and the portal at the top of the temple. Of course Odahviing couldn’t have just dropped me off there… because of course he couldn’t. That would be too easy.
I’ll write again when I get a chance. The sky’s starting to lighten, and I kind of need the darkness. It’s a miracle nothing’s noticed my Candlelight spell yet, although part of that might be because I’m keeping that more-or-less hidden. Or trying to, anyway.
Time to go.
Chapter 111: Turdas, 11th Evening Star, 4E 201
I’ve made it through the temple, I’m at the top, and the only way I know it’s Turdas is because the sky is beginning to grow light in the east… again. I spent all day and all night fighting through here. No wonder I’m so exhausted… I need sleep. Desperately. And while on the one hand, I really need the element of surprise for fighting whatever that monstrosity is guarding the portal, I also really, really need sleep or I’ll fall off the roof of the temple or something.
I’m so, so tired…
That settles it. I’ve killed pretty much everything inside, so I’ll head back in, find a secluded place to put my bedroll, put down as many fire runes as I can, and call it a night. Or… day, seeing as it’s getting light out. I’m too tired to care at this point.
It’s not like sleeping in here can be any more dangerous than sleeping in Blackreach, anyway. I’m reasonably certain I’ve killed everything in here, anyway.
I didn’t kill everything in here but I’m still alive so I’m counting it as a win. It’s practically Fredas by now, but I might as well write this for Turdas, because somehow I get the feeling I’ll have a new entry or two for Fredas. That’s assuming, of course, that I survive Alduin. Which I might not, but I’m feeling cautiously optimistic right now.
I think I remember what the thing guarding the portal is called. Remember that monstrosity I fought up on that one mountain near Whiterun? The thing with the mask? That thing, I’m pretty sure, was called a dragon priest. I left its mask with Arngeir for safekeeping, because there was some powerful magic in there or I’m a big burly Nord warrior. Probably some powerful magic in this one, too. This dragon priest… probably can and will try to kill me.
Last time I fought one of these, I had Jenassa at my back. This time, I’m all alone, but I’m much stronger, and unlike the last dragon priest, I have the element of surprise this time. Like the Nords always say… victory or Sovngarde. Except in my case, it’s victory and Sovngarde, or neither. Onwards to Sovngarde it is.
Chapter 112: Fredas, 12th Evening Star, 4E 201
I’m in Sovngarde and Auriel’s balls is it gorgeous, I can see why all the Nords want to come here. I’m taking a quick break to write some things down (but mostly to recover my strength) seeing as that dragon priest nearly killed me. It took everything I had to bring it down, and for a few terrifying moments… I was afraid it wouldn’t be enough.
But, fortunately, it was enough. I have a new dragon priest mask that is going straight to Arngeir because I definitely don’t trust myself with cryptic magical dragon artifacts, and I’m in Sovngarde. It’s gorgeous, from what I can see, although… is it supposed to be this foggy?
Give me a second, I’m going to try something.
Well. I know why it’s this foggy now: Alduin. He knows I’m here, I’ve managed to pass unseen so far with some help from my Shadowcloak abilities and a whole lot of invisibility potions, and I think I’m almost to where I need to go.
The Hall of Valor.
Ironic, considering. I legitimately have… no idea where to go from here. I’ll talk to the Nord standing guard, see if he can tell me what to do. If he hasn’t gotten eaten by Alduin yet, clearly he’s doing something right.
I had to fight the Nord standing guard (I think his name’s Tsun?), because of course I did, but I know what I have to do now. I had to go inside, then find the three that defeated Alduin initially, and… fight him. This time, he’s staying down.
I think I can see them already, and I can definitely hear the girl. Didn’t she get bitten in half by Alduin the first time around? That… can’t be a good way to die. I hope I don’t go that way.
I’ve stalled long enough. As the Nords say…
Victory, or Sovngarde. Or victory in Sovngarde, I’ll take what I can get.
Chapter 113: Loredas, 13th Evening Star, 4E 201
So, needless to say, I survived Alduin. The world’s saved, I think, or at least saved from him. And that’s all I’ve got to do. That’s all I’m going to do. Someone else can deal with the Thalmor, because I… can’t. I couldn’t even if I wanted to.
And I do want to.
After we brought down Alduin, the gatekeeper Nord, Tsun, sent me back to Nirn. Probably a good thing. As pretty as Sovngarde was… Nirn’s where I belong, not in a hall of dead Nords who probably died screaming “Victory or Sovngarde!” and got the latter. Although… on the other hand, the Thalmor wouldn’t have been a problem ever again if I’d stayed there…
Anyway. He gave me a Shout to summon one of the ancient Nord warriors that brought Alduin down the first time - Gormlaith Golden-Hilt, Hakon One-Eye, and Felldir the Old - to aid me in combat. As tempting as it is, I probably won’t ever be using it unless I have no other options. Shouting’s not exactly inconspicuous, after all, and summoning a long-dead ancient Nord hero by Shouting something probably isn’t the best way to avoid attention.
I’m going to want to avoid attention. After all, I’m going to Morrowind to avoid attention, and to avoid the Thalmor. I guess that’s one good thing about Morrowind being independent now, the Thalmor have no jurisdiction there. As long as I don’t piss off any of the major Houses, I should be fine. (Granted, that’s assuming that there are still groups like House Telvanni and House Hlaalu, what little I know of Morrowind is… a little bit out of date. As in, twice-as-old-as-me out of date.)
So, after giving me that Shout, Tsun quite literally Shouted me back into Nirn. I woke up on the peak of the Throat of the World, with Paarthurnax, Odahviing, and a bunch of other dragons that took off fairly quickly after I showed up. Paarthurnax was proud of me. Odahviing was… impressed that I defeated Alduin, and agreed to come to my aid if I Shouted his name and he was in the area.
I’m spending the night in High Hrothgar. I haven’t told Arngeir that I plan to leave Skyrim yet, but… I will tomorrow morning. He deserves to know that the Dragonborn he’s helped all this time is just going to run away and disappear, because she’s a coward. I probably won’t word it like that, but… it’s true.
For what it’s worth, I’m glad to have known him and the other Greybeards.
I was planning to just drop into the Flagon before setting off for Morrowind, and while I still can’t stay here long… things have changed. Not for the better, either. Apparently, Karliah and Bryn have been covering for me, although Karliah was and is pissed. I can’t blame her, I would be in her position too. But the thing is… the last time I saw Bryn, I asked him to hand the Guild leadership over to someone else. If not him, Karliah, or Delvin or Vex or anybody, really.
The last time anyone in the Guild saw Bryn was weeks before the last time I saw him. I would have thought he’d come back here immediately, and actually, he would have for sure. Which means… well, I don’t know for sure, but I have a bad feeling about this. Sure, it’s possible he just got himself into trouble somewhere between Whiterun and Riften, but on the other hand…
It’s equally possible and vastly more likely that the Thalmor connected him and me, and… well, I know what they did to Etienne, and he barely knew anything about Esbern. It’s possible that Elenwen just noticed that I was wearing Thieves Guild armor (remind me why I thought that was a good idea) and had a group kidnap the first one they came across. I hope for Bryn’s sake that they don’t know anything more than that.
True, it’s possible that I’m just overreacting and being paranoid, but… I thought Ganriil was overreacting and being paranoid, and that led to him being killed and me going on the run. I can’t risk this again.
So I’m going back to Whiterun tonight. I’ll ask around, see if anyone saw him. If not… I’ll break into the Thalmor Embassy again if I have to. I’ll do whatever I have to. I was going to Morrowind to prevent this, but if the Thalmor have already connected me with the Guild… there’s no point to me leaving anymore. And everyone seems remarkably okay with the fact that their Guildmaster has been 1) missing for the past month and a half and 2) is something out of a Nord legend apparently, so… I was running away for nothing.
Auriel’s balls, am I an idiot. But right now, I can’t afford to be an idiot. As soon as I wrap up here, I’m heading back to Whiterun. I’ll steal a horse if I have to, it can find its way home on its own. If I’m right, I can’t afford to waste any time.
And I have a bad feeling that I’m right.
So Lora won't be leaving for Morrowind yet... or ever, because the forces of the universe cough me cough have conspired to keep her in Skyrim. It's for her own good, she wouldn't last long against cliff racers.
That, and when one of your friends that may or may not be your love interest that you keep denying you have feelings for disappears, you kind of have to look into it.
Chapter 115: Morndas, 15th Evening Star, 4E 201
I rode through the night to get to Whiterun and, for lack of a better description, it was exhausting. I’m going to have to stock up on more stamina potions soon if I keep going without sleep, those at least take the edge off of the exhaustion. Regardless… I have news, and it’s not good.
The man at the stable (I let the horse I’d stolen go before I actually got to Whiterun, it’ll be back in Riften before I am) was happy to see me, and when I paid him double to get my horse back, was quite happy to inform me that yes, someone that fit Bryn’s description had left the city late last Morndas. While he didn’t see anything happen, he mentioned that some Thalmor Justiciars had come through earlier that day. I must have barely avoided them myself… but regardless, this isn’t good, and while it’s not confirmation, this is pretty damning.
Another thing is… today, in the marketplace, I overheard an old woman telling off a pair of guys for something involving her son. As it happened, the woman was part of Clan Gray-Mane, and the guys, Nords, were part of Clan Battle-Born. I’d heard of their feud, everyone had, but… I maybe didn’t quite realize the full extent of it.
I don’t know why, but I offered to help the woman find her son, if he was still alive. (I left out that last bit.) Maybe… something about it reminded me of my own quest. Maybe her son’s been taking captive by the Thalmor, who knows?
The old woman’s name is Fralia, Fralia Gray-Mane, and she’s actually a really sweet old lady. So I can see why I said yes to helping her find her son, or at least get some closure. So.. she offered to let me stay the night in her home, but I figured I’d better not, I just broke into Breezehome again. At this rate, I might as well buy the place, I’ve been spending so much time in it. Right, like that would ever happen… but I can dream.
So, once I’m finished writing here, I’m going to be breaking into the house of Clan Battle-Born, because Fralia seems convinced that they know something of her son. Seeing as they’re extreme Imperial supporters, maybe they know something of Bryn… it’s worth a shot.
Chapter 116: Tirdas, 16th Evening Star, 4E 201
What do you know, Thorald Gray-Mane has apparently been kidnapped by the Thalmor as well. Small world, huh? And… well, I got nothing on Bryn from the Battle-Borns, but I did some more asking around, and got something from Jenassa, of all people (who wryly muttered something about how she thought he was looking for me, why was I looking for him all of a sudden).
Someone who was clearly a Thalmor agent had come into the Drunken Huntsman the night I last saw Bryn, asking questions about someone who fit Bryn’s description. The bartender had caved, and mentioned that he left Whiterun that night.
Needless to say, I was very tempted to accidentally set the man on fire for that, but the Thalmor are the Thalmor, and the Thalmor are… persuasive, to say the least. I’m lucky they weren’t asking about me, because I’ve been in there so many times by now…
Regardless, I’ve shared my findings about Fralia’s son with her and her other son, Avulstein. Avulstein and I are going to break Thorald out of the place they’re keeping him… with any luck, Bryn’ll be there too. Avulstein’s agreed to meet me there, and while he offered to get more help… I said that probably wasn’t a good idea. When the Thalmor are involved, it’s best to keep the amount of people involved limited. The less people involved, the less chance someone will talk, and the less chance everyone involved will be slaughtered or tortured and then slaughtered in the typical Thalmor fashion.
I considered hiring Jenassa for the job, but decided against it. The less people involved, the better, and while I trust her and definitely will be hiring her again if I need a warrior like her at my back, this is most likely going to be a stealth mission… well, as much of a stealth mission as it can be when my partner on it wields a warhammer. And the fewer people involved, the better.
While I had no idea where Northwatch Keep was - that’s the place where they’re definitely keeping Thorald Gray-Mane and possibly Bryn - or that it even existed, Avulstein fortunately knew where it was, and now, so do I. We’ll meet nearby in two days time, and then…
The Thalmor are going to pay.
Chapter 117: Middas, 17th Evening Star, 4E 201
If nothing else, it’s good to have my horse back. And… I might have to stay in Skyrim, but if I can keep the Thalmor from causing problems, I’d be fine with that. Of course, the Thalmor always cause problems, but… well.
I’ve been telling myself all this time that someone else will bring down the Thalmor, someday. I never stopped to consider that maybe, just maybe, I could bring them down myself. As Guildmaster of the Thieves Guild, I’d have the resources to dismantle their operations in Skyrim at least, and as Dragonborn… my destiny might be fulfilled, but if I’m some legendary Nord hero - and I know I’m some legendary Nord hero - then I might as well try.
This is… still just an idea. I probably won’t do anything, but… well, it’s nice to imagine that for once, I might. And for once, I am doing something. Tomorrow, I’m going to meet Avulstein Gray-Mane outside Northwatch Keep, and we’re going to rescue whoever’s inside, whether it’s just Thorald, or if Bryn’s there, too. If worst comes to worst, they’ll have documents somewhere, and I can probably find something on Bryn, somewhere.
So… tomorrow. Aside from my infiltration of the Thalmor Embassy, I’ve never dared to strike back, but now? Now things are going to be different.
From now on, I’m not running away anymore. I just have to figure out what I'll be doing instead.
Chapter 118: Turdas, 18th Evening Star, 4E 201
Mission accomplished. Thorald and Avulstein Gray-Mane have gone off to join the Stormcloaks, leaving me with a promise to tell their mother that they’re alright. I don’t intend on breaking it, Whiterun is on the way back home regardless.
Also… my hunch was right, thank Auriel. Bryn was a wreck when I found him. Still is, and I think I’ve improved my Restoration skills quite a bit thanks to my attempts in making him look like less of a wreck, but he’s at least semi-conscious now.
When I found him… for a few moments, I was afraid I was too late, that I’d failed again. I think I can understand at least some of Delphine’s being… Delphine, now. Still not going to agree to kill Paarthurnax, because killing your friends isn’t a thing you do. But I’m not here to rant about Delphine, I think I did that quite well back when I realized she was the one who sent me on a wild goose chase through Ustengrav.
Anyway. We haven’t talked much. Between us covering ground as fast as we possibly can with a semi-conscious Nord, me, and my horse, and Bryn of course being semi-conscious, there really hasn’t been a lot of opportunity for conversation. I’m… kind of dreading when that opportunity comes, to be honest.
Really, though? I’ve been a terrible person all around. I’ve especially been a terrible friend, because friends don’t paralyze friends and run. I just… Auriel’s balls, I really, really don’t know what to do.
One thing’s for sure, though. The Thalmor are a despicable waste of space that very much deserve to be set on fire and burn, slowly and painfully. I already knew this, but I didn’t dare to do anything about them.
As the Guildmaster of Skyrim’s Thieves Guild… I might be able to do something about them.
We’ve talked, and… I think I’m going to stay in Skyrim. Going to Morrowind was a bad idea in the first place. Honestly, even if I went to Morrowind, I think the Thalmor would still catch up with me eventually. So I might as well stop running, and fight back.
Of course, when I say ‘fight back’ I don’t mean that in the way most of Skyrim would probably assume I mean. Seeing as Skyrim is populated by a slim majority of Nords these days, most would assume I mean a frontal assault. That’s obviously not happening. That would be suicide… well, maybe if I convinced Odahviing to help out…
Okay, that’s still not happening. I’m saving Odahviing for a last resort. The Thalmor shouldn’t know that I can call him to help me out, and I plan to keep it that way. Having a last resort is good.
Anyway… once I’m back with the Guild, the Thalmor aren’t going to know what hit them. A frontal assault would be suicide, but we all specialize in stealth and striking from the shadows. The Empire has no love for the Thalmor, so they’ll be likely to turn a blind eye to the Thalmor’s operations in Skyrim suddenly running into a whole lot of difficulties. (And if they don’t, I’ve found there are few officials that can’t be paid off.)
I’m still royally pissed off at Delphine, for obvious reasons, and if she sticks to her ultimatum about killing Paarthurnax then that’ll be the end of it, but I know that she and Esbern despise the Thalmor. (Well, most everyone does, but they despise them more than most.) I might be able to get her to put aside that to strike back at the Thalmor… after all, revenge is a surprisingly good motivator. I’m speaking from experience… well, writing from experience.
Besides, people always say that your enemy’s enemy is your friend. By that logic, I should be joining the Stormcloaks, but I’m not willing to go that far. I’m no warrior, anyway.
In… other news, well… I’m not quite sure how to write this. After Ganriil, I thought I’d never be able to love again… or more specifically, I told myself that. I suppose a part of me didn’t want to love again, because after what happened to him, I never wanted to have to find someone I cared about dead again. But I’ve come to realize that I’m going to fall in love, whether I want to or not, so I might as well make the most of it, and learn from my mistakes.
Besides, I already have fallen in love again. I’ve fallen in love with a red-headed Nord named Brynjolf who could convince a Vigilant of Stendarr to become a Daedra worshipper if he wanted. He’s a thief, but so am I, and I’ve found that the thieves I know (well, most of them) are better people overall than a lot of so-called ‘good’ people. He definitely is.
I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but if my journal is any indication, I’ve been in love with Bryn for months. I just… hadn’t accepted it until now. Part of it was not wanting to be in love again. Part of it was remembering Ganriil. We were to be married, yes, and while we were close… our relationship when he died was almost exclusively platonic. The marriage had been arranged, and there was no romance there, at least not on my end. Ganriil knew, and he respected that even to the end.
I think, that if he were somehow alive today, and knew… I think he would have wanted me to be happy. I’m still not sure how to approach this… maybe I’ll ask Karliah once we’re back in Riften. She should be able to help, I hope.
In the meantime… Auriel’s balls, Riften.
I have so much explaining to do and I’m not looking forward to it in the least, but… it needs to be done, I suppose. Hopefully Nocturnal will be with me, I’ll need all the help I can get.
Question: if I made a podfic of this, would any of y'all listen to it? I've got at least one person who asked if there was one and I'm pretty sure they're serious, so while a podfic for this wouldn't come out until after the story's done... I'm attempting to make my British accent sound less fake and more classy and Altmer-ish and probably will be doing that for a while.
My dad's British so I can kind of imitate him but I suspect once he hears me practicing (and he will hear me practicing) he won't be able to stop laughing. Oh well. In the meantime, I'm not sure where this story will end now, I was considering ending it after this chapter - with an epilogue, of course, and that epilogue will still be happening - but I realized that we 1) still don't have the horker in the room (cough, the Thalmor, cough) dealt with and 2) Lora finally accepting that she has feelings for Bryn doesn't really qualify as a relationship, so that should happen over the course of the story.
In the meantime... we are officially delving into noncanonical territory, folks! People will die, but I swear on my honor as a writer that I won't go the way of Game of Thrones and kill off everyone and their brother. At least one person will die, though, and I'm not looking forward to that, but anyway... ONWARDS!
Chapter 120: Loredas, 20th Evening Star, 4E 201
I’m thinking it shouldn’t be hard to convince the Guild to bring down the Thalmor. After all, between Bryn and Etienne, that’s two members they’ve taken captive lately, and then there’s me, Lora, fugitive from the Thalmor because they thought for some reason I still had the papers I burned. I mean, I know I can be idiotic sometimes, but why wouldn’t I burn those papers? Better to burn them and keep them out of the Thalmor’s grasp. I mean, they had to be important if they’re still actively looking for me this long after the fact.
You’d think they would have figured out that I’d burned the papers, though. Long, long ago. Even if I still had them on me, I lost everything I had at Helgen. If I’d still had the papers, that would have included them.
I think… I’m going to give it a day or two before I bring up anything about the Thalmor. Maybe bounce some ideas off Bryn and Karliah, I could use a couple of opinions that aren’t my own. After all, this is going to involve the entire Guild, and it could end very, very badly for everyone involved. But… I’m thinking that even if we don’t strike back, the Thalmor won’t give up.
So, I’m thinking I’ll tell everyone the basics of what’s up, and if they don’t want to be involved in this, then they’ll need to leave, and distance themselves from the Guild. I know that some people will leave, but I’m hopeful that most will stay. If not… well, I’ll figure things out.
By now, there’s no going back. The Thalmor know I’m involved in the Guild, and we just got back on our feet. I can never go back to my birth family, the Thalmor made sure of that. I’m not going to let them destroy the only family I’ve got left.
Unsurprisingly, things didn’t exactly go smoothly when I told everyone who we’re up against. Niruin left, as did a couple of the newer recruits. While I won’t be missing Niruin too much, he’s a Bosmer, so he could have been very useful for infiltrating the Thalmor… oh well. If worst comes to worst I can just slip in myself, or get Enthir to help.
Fortunately, most of the Guild is staying. I knew Bryn and Karliah would, mainly because I ran my plan by them before I told the Guild. I was pretty sure Delvin would. I was a little concerned about Vex, but she stayed because, and I quote, “You’re going to need me.”
Irritating as she can be and usually is, she’s pretty damn good at what she does, so I can live with
a little bit of some a lot of a bit too much way too much arrogance on her end.
Your Author Playing Skyrim, In A Nutshell
Vex, as I'm walking by: What, are you just going to walk around all day?
Me, glaring at the screen: Well at least I don't spend all day sitting around in a bar bragging about how good I am at thievery when I never actually DO ANY-
Brynjolf, walking between us for literally no reason: Sorry lass, I've got important things to do. We'll speak another time.
Me: SHUT UP BRYNJOLF!
Chapter 122: Morndas, 22nd Evening Star, 4E 201
Once the Thalmor figures out that the Guild is fighting back, in its own way, we’re going to need a plan because they’ll definitely try to get rid of us. They definitely know about the Flagon, half of Skyrim does, but… I'm hoping they don't know about the Cistern. There's two entrances, both of which we can lock down, and while I’m thinking the tunnel in the graveyard can probably stand up to a fair bit of Destruction magic, the other is literally a false back to a closet. Anyone with a basic knowledge of magic or a staff could blast right through that, so before we do anything else, we need to make sure the Thalmor won't be able to kill us all in retaliation.
Bryn didn't answer any of their questions when they were interrogating him - probably the reason he was in such bad shape when I found him, Etienne had been in the Thalmor Embassy for months and still was capable of walking out. Etienne, on the other hand, eventually answered everything they asked, but according to him they only asked about Esbern (who he knew next to nothing about). So while I'm cautiously optimistic that the Thalmor aren't aware of the existence of the Cistern - or at least, don't know where the entrances are - we can't be too careful.
I've been working on my Illusion magic for some time now, never mind that Destruction is a thousand times better at least. I'm thinking that maybe, I’ll try to cast protections on the Cistern that will keep it hidden even from magic… and while I don't know how to do it, I'm reasonably certain that it can be done. So, I guess it's back up to Winterhold for now. Maybe Enthir will know something, and if not, the College is probably fairly used to people disappearing for weeks or months at a time.
I've kept the rules of the Guild (which are honestly extremely limited) mostly the same, except for one thing. At least for as long as the Thalmor are an issue, everyone, myself included, needs to travel in pairs.
Vex Certain people that claim to work better alone have been more than a little annoyed at this, but it's a safety precaution. The Thalmor will be less likely to strike if there's more than one person, and two people will have a much better chance of fighting off a group than one.
(Also, two people on a job means that if one person screws up and gets caught, the other can bail them out. This is, of course, on a purely unrelated note.)
So, I'm headed to the College next. I'm going to see if I can get Karliah to come with me, since a Dunmer won't be at all out of place in a magical College and I'm fairly sure she knows a few spells herself. Chances are, that Thalmor agent will still be there, so we’ll have to deal with him at some point or another.
Maybe he could have a little ‘accident’ on the bridge… or maybe I could talk to Odahviing beforehand. As amusing as it would be to have him swoop down, eat the Thalmor agent in one gulp, and fly off, I don't know that I could keep him from attacking the rest of the College if they attacked him - and they would. So Odahviing, unfortunately, is out of the picture for now.
I'll figure something out. From what little time I've spent at the College of Winterhold, it wasn't hard to tell that nobody liked the Thalmor agent and he definitely wouldn't be missed.
I'm on my way to Winterhold. Karliah’s with me. We’re posing as a couple of mages on our way back to the College. Currently, our cover story is something along the lines of me getting lost in the wrong place and nearly getting killed several times over before running into Karliah, a novice mage from Morrowind. (I mean… minus the mage part, it's not that inaccurate?)
It's been far too long since we’ve gotten a chance to just talk. Karliah’s still a little pissed at me for the stunt I pulled, but I think she's forgiven me, mostly, now that she knows why. She did make me promise not to do that again.
A few months ago, I wouldn't have made that promise. I guess it just goes to show how much I've changed since then. On the bright side, at least I'm less of an idiot… mostly.
I could tell for sure Karliah had forgiven me when she began teasing me about Bryn. Apparently, it's plainly obvious to just about everyone but me, and him, because of course that's how it works.
She encouraged me to make a move.
I said I’d consider it.
Sometimes, a family is a renegade Altmer, an outcast Dunmer, and a smooth-talking Nord.
Chapter 124: Middas, 24th Evening Star, 4E 201
Not much happened today, or at least nothing exciting. Probably a good thing, there’s an old Aldmeri curse that translates roughly to “may you live in interesting times”. Anyway, I got back into the College easily, Karliah managed to convince them that she was, in fact, an actual mage, we managed to avoid the Thalmor agent (whose name is, apparently, Ancano), and I think Enthir nearly had a heart attack when he realized who the newer “apprentices” were.
On the subject of protecting the Flagon, Enthir suggested I talk to the local Illusion master, Drevis Neloren. He’s a Dunmer that I ran into once the last time I was here, and I’m a little skeptical about his actual skills seeing as he thought he was invisible, but he has to know something. If he doesn’t know the actual spell to teach me, maybe he’ll know where I can learn it. The problem will be how specific of a spell I’m looking for. If this man’s at all smart, he’ll figure out at least some of what we’re doing, which is… not what I want or need at all.
There’s also the whole issue of Ancano, but it shouldn’t be too hard to make him have a little… accident. Preferably one where he suffers as much as possible, an opportunity taken to make a Thalmor agent suffer is an opportunity well spent.
I’ll figure it out.
The spell does exist, and I’ve at least convinced Drevis to let me, ah, ‘borrow’ the spell tome for it. Of course, he now thinks that I’m a lot more enthusiastic about Illusion magic than I actually am, and I now have a bunch of other spell tomes for Illusion spells that I probably will never use, but I guess it can’t hurt.
The Harmony one could be a useful stalling tactic, if nothing else. Call to Arms… maybe. Could be helpful, but only if I could figure out a way to target specific people. Same goes for Hysteria and Mayhem, it would be really, really bad if I tried to get my enemies to run away using Hysteria and it resulted in everyone running away.
Ancano doesn’t seem to be doing anything too bad for the moment, other than being an extreme nuisance to everyone, so I’ll let him be for now. The sooner I get back to the Guild, the better. That’s why Karliah and I have already left for now, because I need to get those protections in place as soon as possible. The sooner I get those in place, the sooner we can actually get down to business… so to speak.
While Karliah and I were at the College, the rest of the Guild definitely wasn’t idle. I sent Bryn and Etienne to Sky Haven Temple, to… try and at least get the Blades to help. Well, Bryn’s going to be doing most of the work, Etienne’s just there so they can all bond over how much the Thalmor sucks or… I don’t know. Point is, I’m definitely not sending Bryn or anyone on jobs alone, I’m running out of Thalmor strongholds to storm and storming a Thalmor stronghold is a terrible idea anyway, not that it stopped me before.
I’m willing to bet that Delphine and Esbern have reactivated the traps, so I told Bryn how to get past them… minus the last one. Unless he’s secretly Dragonborn, which I highly doubt, the blood seal won’t open for anyone other than me. That includes the Blades, so they have to have another way to open and close it.
I’m hoping they’ll open it for someone who knows the significance of the 30th of Frostfall. Or… have opened it, by now Bryn and Etienne should be on their way back, with or without the Blades. Once Karliah and I get back, I’ll work on figuring out this Illusion-magicky-protectiony-bullshit. We’ll see how that goes.
If you'd told me when I started writing this that I'd be looking into the magic systems of past Elder Scrolls games for this fic I would have laughed at you. And yet... I'm looking into the magic systems of past Elder Scrolls games for this fic. More specifically, magical effects that prevent spells from harming you.
Send help or memes. I'm fine with either.
Chapter 126: Fredas, 26th Evening Star, 4E 201
We’re back in Riften, got here around midday, and I have literally spent all my time since then trying to figure this out. Whoever wrote this damn spell tome needs a lesson in how to write, because even I could do a better job than this… of course, I’d have to know the spell.
It’s said that masters of skills are rarely good teachers, and I’m finding that’s correct. Most of the teachers in the College (with the notable exception of the Alteration Master, Tolfdir) are extremely good at what they specialize in, but they… aren’t particularly good teachers. Drevis is one of the better ones, but he gets distracted so easily, and he still can’t seem to figure out Invisibility.
Brynjolf and Etienne haven’t gotten back yet. I’m… a little worried, but at the very earliest they’d be getting back tomorrow, and that’s if they didn’t sleep at all. So… probably the next day. Sundas, then.
Well, at least I’ll have a lot of time to figure this damned spell tome out. It’s disgusting and I hate it so much but it’ll be worth it if I can get the spell to work. Which I will, hopefully… eventually.
It’s probably a good thing I’ve got a while.
Chapter 127: Loredas, 27th Evening Star, 4E 201
Taking a much-needed break to grab some food and write a quick update. I finally figured out part of it, but unfortunately that wasn’t the important part, it was just the prep. Who knew you needed alchemy knowledge for a spell categorized as Illusion magic? I mean, I’ve mixed together a fair amount of potions in my spare time but that’s literally it. I have like fifty homemade health potions in my pack and honestly I should probably use some of them, or put them away or something…
I’ll go shove them in my chest at some point. Not right now, though. I can’t figure this out, it’s not written at all like any other Illusion textbook I’ve ever seen. I actually took a look at the other ones for comparison, and the other ones, even the supposedly really difficult ones, were a piece of cake compared to this one, I swear.
The only thing I can think of is that maybe it’s more than just Illusion magic, but what else would it be? Destruction? Not a chance. Not Restoration, either, unless it’s like a more powerful ward. Definitely not Conjuration. I guess it could be Alteration, maybe, or maybe it’s an enchantment. I’m pretty sure I found something about enchanted components, so I’ll head out to Nightingale Hall at some point and use the enchanting table there. That’s of course if I can figure out what in Oblivion I’m supposed to enchant them with… and my enchanting skill could really use some work. Same with my alchemy skills, to be honest.
But even with the enchanted components and the alchemical components… there’s still something missing. There’s Illusion magic, but it’s not what I’m missing, and it’s not quite Alteration, although I’m pretty sure there’s some Alteration involved, too.
I feel like I’m going to figure this out at some point and when I do, I’m going to be so, so annoyed at myself for not figuring it out. It’s probably really obvious, too.
MYSTICISM. IT’S MYSTICISM.
Chapter 128: Sundas, 28th Evening Star, 4E 201
So I would have spent most of today worrying about Bryn and Etienne but fortunately for the sake of my admittedly-fragile sanity, I haven’t stopped working on the thing (that’s what I’ll be referring to it as from now on, the actual name is way too complicated and I’m practically falling asleep on my feet as is but I have to finish my entry) since last night, and my last entry. But good news, it’s done! I think. I’ll have to test it out later, but I might as well outline the basics in here. Be warned that I am, of course, practically asleep on my feet, so I might not make a lot of sense right now. I’ll read over this later when I’m less sleep-deprived, and if it doesn’t make any sense I’ll rewrite it. It’ll be great.
Anyway! As it happens, this is a really, really complicated spell with components from almost every school of magic, every school of magic if you count the soul gems needed to power the enchanted components. I’ve got a lot of soul gems currently, but altogether they’ll last like a week so I need to get more. I’ll figure that out. Eventually.
So… I’m sure you’re wondering, what did I enchant?
Bowls. I spread them around the perimeter of the Cistern, and as long as there’s a soul gem with some charge in each of them at all times, we’ll be good at all times. (As I said, this is why I desperately need more soul gems. I might be making another trip to Winterhold at some point soon, the College at least has a lot of soul gems lying around. I can probably scrounge some up from the court wizard here in Riften if worst comes to worst, although… I wonder if I can convince her to order a bunch, and offer to pay her more than she’d get them for otherwise.
It’s a good thing I have a lot of coin saved up from all the jobs I’ve been on, and all the loot I’ve sold from all the dungeons I’ve gone through for Dragonborn reasons. I might need to go dungeon-delving again at some point, Shouts are undeniably useful and I’ve finally figured out how to use them without alerting everything in a two-mile radius to my presence, so that’s good.
Anyway, I’ve got the enchanted bowls with a completely bizarre and unfortunately advanced mix of magic including basically everything but Conjuration magic. The first line of defense (what I’ve got working now) is currently a preventative measure, while the second one is still a work in progress, but will give the Thalmor a nasty surprise when they inevitably fight back.
The first line of defense is mostly Mysticism. I legitimately just had to relearn an entire school of magic, I shit you not, and I’m almost beginning to think that whoever banned it in the first place might have been onto something. (Then I remember that it was the Thalmor that banned it, and I’m not agreeing with the Thalmor. Ever. On anything.) Mysticism is… confusing, at best.
Regardless, I’ve got a constant Spell Absorption effect surrounding the Cistern, which basically means that if someone casts magic attempting to get into the Cistern, it’ll absorb it and kind of recharge the soul gems a little bit. Note to self: cast some spells on it when I’ve got the magicka to spare. In case the Spell Absorption effect fails, I’ve also got a Resist Magic effect in place. It should keep any Detect Life spells from seeing anything in here, or even seeing that there’s anything back here. The entrance from the Flagon is through the back of a closet, and I’m going to be completely honest with you here, I would not have thought it was anything other than a closet before I knew for sure.
I’ll work on the second line of defense (when they inevitably figure out where we are and launch an attack) when I get a chance. So, not until I go pass out for a solid twelve hours at least.
Bryn and Etienne still aren’t back. If they’re not back by tomorrow night, I’ll grab someone and go looking for them. Let’s hope they didn’t get captured by the Thalmor, that happening to someone once is one time too many.
Chapter 129: Morndas, 29th Evening Star, 4E 201
Good news: Bryn and Etienne got back late last night. Like, really late last night. So late that it could easily be considered early this morning. (I was getting some much-needed rest.) They didn’t run into any trouble with the Thalmor, thank Auriel.
Also good news, although considerably more exhausting news: they brought Delphine and Esbern with them. I think everyone in the Guild likes Esbern, to be honest. He’s a pretty likeable person, of course… and then there’s Delphine.
I made it quite clear that I’m still not willing to murder Paarthurnax, and never will be. Delphine made it quite clear that she would not help me as the Dragonborn unless I did that. I was beginning to wonder why she even bothered coming until she added that she might consider me a, and I quote, “sentimental idiot unwilling to do what needs to be done to keep Skyrim safe”, she agrees that the Thalmor need to be dealt with.
So we’ve agreed to work together, reluctantly, just until the Thalmor are brought down.
I hope for her sake that I’m never in a position to choose between her life and someone else’s, because I won’t be choosing hers. I suspect she feels the same way about me at this point… oh well. At least Esbern’s still nice.
And when I say “nice” I mean that I’m pretty sure he’s adopted the entire Guild at this point. I’m not kidding, they’re all listening to him tell stories of back when the Blades were an actual thing that weren’t constantly hunted down by the Thalmor, much like me.
He’s a pretty good storyteller, and honestly, anything that can keep these idiots under control and in one place for more than five minutes is fine by me. I should probably write down who’s still here at this point, though. I mentioned that some of the Guild left, but I didn’t mention who, other than Niruin.
So, the members of the Guild still here currently are:
Lorasephona Jorius - Obviously me, Lora the Altmer. Not much to see here, I’m just a renegade Destruction apprentice turned thief that somehow wound up leading a guild of thieves. Still not sure how that happened. Also the Dragonborn, I’m really not sure how that happened.
Bryn - Smooth-talking Nord. Could and would talk his way out of or into anything. Could talk his way out of an execution. Could talk a Vigilant of Stendarr into becoming a Daedra worshipper.
Actually really attractive.
Karliah - Dunmer marksman with really distinctive purple eyes. Was romantically involved with the Guildmaster before Mercer, was blamed for said Guildmaster’s murder and spent the last twenty-five years trying to avenge him. Kind of like a sister to me at this point, on the short list of people I trust with my life.
Delvin Mallory - Dirty old man, no other way to describe him. Still trying to flirt with Vex. Still hasn’t figured out that it’s probably never happening. Otherwise, he’s dependable in all matters except matters of the heart. Also a Breton, although I haven’t once see him use magic and I doubt I ever will.
Vex - Extremely arrogant Imperial who actually has the skills to back up her arrogance. Could break herself out of Cidhna Mine while injured, drugged, and with no extra lockpicks. She’s that good with a lockpick. Also has been known to use them to stab certain dirty old men named Delvin Mallory.
Tonilia - Redguard, our local fence. Distributes the Guild armor, will buy basically anything without a second glance. She’ll buy dead dragon bits too, although the first time (this was before the whole dragon thing) she was more than a little surprised. And looked at me more than a little strangely. She’s technically not a member of the Guild, but she basically is.
Vekel (the Man) - Nord bartender of the Ragged Flagon, technically not a member of the Thieves Guild but he’s basically one of us. He knows what to do if the Thalmor come knocking, and more importantly he knows how to lie. Possibly… definitely involved with Tonilia.
Rune - Imperial kid, one of the nicer thieves in the Guild. I’m glad he stayed. Apparently named after a stone his adoptive parents found with him when he was a baby. Still looking for information on his birth parents, considering that the kid’s a sweetheart I’ll gladly help him out once we’ve got all the business with the Thalmor cleared up.
Ravyn Imyan - Dunmer ex-assassin, I don’t know him all that well, but he’s apparently ex-Morag Tong. I’m pretty sure they’re Morrowind’s equivalent of the Dark Brotherhood, except they’re actually legal. Or were, before everything went to shit in Morrowind. He swore me to secrecy about the Morag Tong thing, apparently the Dark Brotherhood does not like competition. If the Dark Brotherhood hears about him, they won’t be hearing about him from me.
Etienne Rarnis - The Breton kid I saved from the Thalmor Embassy. I was half-expecting him to leave the Guild instead of risking being captured by the Thalmor again. He didn’t, and I can’t say I’m surprised if he wants revenge. I know I do, although I want revenge for much, much different reasons.
Cynric Endell - Another Breton who doesn’t use magic (I’m seeing a pattern here) and is certainly pretty damn good with lockpicking. Doesn’t actually look that old, but he says he joined just after Bryn so there’s that. Apparently he used to be a jailbreaker, right up until he screwed up and spent three years in a prison in High Rock. After that’s when he joined the Guild.
Thrynn - Nord, former bandit. Got in a disagreement with the bandit chief and wound up joining up with the Guild afterwards as a result. Not much for stealth, but it’s good to have a heavy hitter or two. The Thalmor - high elves in general, actually - don’t hold up well to physical attacks. I know I don’t. Fortunately the Thalmor tend to stick to magic.
Sapphire - Nord, one of the only girls in the Guild (in addition to me, Karliah, Vex, and technically Tonilia) and while I won’t go into details about how she got here… I’ve got her back. She’s a little arrogant, but in our business that comes with the skill to back it up, and she’s a good friend.
So that’s… thirteen of us. I guess not as many people left as I thought did. Either way, I’m almost wishing one more person stayed, or one less person stayed. Thirteen’s supposed to be an unlucky number. It’s probably nothing, but… oh well.
Chapter 130: Tirdas, 30th Evening Star, 4E 201
There might only be two members of the Blades currently, but Delphine at least is pretty good at getting information. One of her few redeeming qualities. And while she and I still kind of really hate each other, you know what they say: your enemy’s enemy is your friend. A better version would probably be something along the lines of ‘your enemy’s enemy is your ally’ because I definitely do not consider Delphine a friend. Someone who drops an ultimatum on me about killing someone I do, in fact, consider a friend gets dropped from that list immediately, for obvious reasons.
Esbern’s someone I do still consider a friend, because I’m reasonably certain he’s just following Delphine’s orders… unfortunately. He really shouldn’t, but I’m not here to question an old man’s life decisions. (And anyway, the rest of the Guild seems to like him. I know I do. He's a nice guy.)
Anyway, while the Blades are good allies (and, hopefully, will become powerful ones eventually, assuming Delphine gets her head out of her arse and stops being a stubborn bitch) it’s going to take more than just thirteen thieves and a couple of Blades to stop the Thalmor. With any luck, it won’t take much more than that, but we’re going to need allies. Powerful allies. Allies that are good at offing people that are causing problems.
I’m talking about the Dark Brotherhood. I’m not entirely sure how I’ll contact them, but I’ve heard rumors about something involving them in Windhelm, so I’ll head there soon, probably tomorrow morning. Considering how horribly racist everyone is there to non-Nords, I’ll see if I can get Brynjolf to come with me. If not, I’ll go with someone else who either is a Nord or won’t mind the inevitable racism that’ll definitely happen while we’re there.
I know Karliah would come with me to Windhelm, but I don’t even want to go to Windhelm, and it’s not even my people that are being treated like scum there. So Brynjolf, probably. If not I’ll see if Sapphire’s free, or Thrynn. Maybe Rune.
In the meantime, I’ll have everyone on continuing our regular jobs for now, but two people on a job (obviously, can’t be too paranoid when the Thalmor are involved) and keeping a close eye out for soul gems to keep the Cistern protected.
Chapter 131: Middas, 31st Evening Star, 4E 201
Well, first things first, Happy Old Life Festival! Let’s hope 4E 202 is a better year than 4E 201. Granted, a lot of good things happened this year, although it was all in the second half, my life was pretty much shit up until Last Seed. It was still shit for a few weeks after, but then I found the Guild, learned I was Dragonborn, saved the world (or at least Skyrim) from a world-eating dragon, and found a new family in the Thieves Guild.
I know it’s probably too much to hope that the Thalmor will be driven out of Skyrim by the end of next year, but I can hope. We’ll at least have made significant progress by then. Well, that or we’ll all be dead, one of the two. Hopefully we won’t all be dead, I… can’t fail the Guild like that.
That got really morbid for a bit there.
Anyway, I completely forgot that the Old Life Festival was today, somehow. Nobody else did, although this is my first one in Skyrim. I guess the celebrations here are a bit more intense than they ever were in the Isles, although if I’m being completely honest everything here is more intense than anything ever was in the Isles.
I was going to head to Windhelm today, but... I figured the Dark Brotherhood could wait a day, eventually. When I found Bryn and asked him if he wanted to come with me to Windhelm, he said sure, except that the Old Life Festival was today. Then he said that he and some of the others were working on organizing a party in the Flagon to take a break from all the Thalmor things, and said I should come.
I’d like to say that the only reason I stayed for that was because I knew the Thalmor would be celebrating it too, but I know that’s not right. I stayed because I needed a break, too. (It helped that Bryn was asking.) Vekel had free unlimited ale for the night, and so as you can imagine, everyone got drunk off their arses. Unsurprisingly.
I’m proud of the fact that I drank Bryn under the table, and I’m still… mostly sober. It’s an Altmer thing. I’m writing this now, and while I’d like to keep up with the festivities, I can’t afford to be distracted any longer. So I’m going to sleep soon, and I’ll see who I can get to come with me. Probably not Bryn, unfortunately… he’s going to have a killer hangover tomorrow morning and I am not dragging an extremely hungover Nord all the way to Windhelm. I'll leave the masochism to others, thanks.
I’m pretty sure Sapphire’s better at holding her liquor - that or she just hasn’t drunk much tonight, smart of her if that is the case - so I’ll ask her.
Hey, I survived another year! Good job, me. In any case, while I was indeed able to get Sapphire to come with me to Windhelm, the city is practically closed down for the New Life Festival. (Happy New Life Festival, by the way.) Not that I mind the free drinks, of course. Or the inevitable loosing of tongues that liquor always causes.
Good news, I found what I was looking for. Bad news, it’s really screwed up. So… the short version is, if you want to contract the Dark Brotherhood to kill someone, you perform something called the Black Sacrament that involves a body, lots of posthumous stabbing, and a prayer to the Night Mother… whoever that is. (I’m not sure I want to know who that is.) Someone was indeed performing the Black Sacrament in Windhelm, although I was expecting an adult.
There was a kid who wanted someone dead enough that he performed the Black Sacrament to have her dead. The kid’s name is Aventus Aretino, and he wants the woman running the orphanage in Riften dead. Her name’s Grelod the Kind, although from what I’ve heard about her the woman is anything but. She won’t be missed, although I’m a little concerned about this kid. He literally walked all the way from Riften to Windhelm, back to his old house, somehow got the materials for the Black Sacrament, and has been doing it basically nonstop since.
I made sure the kid got something to eat and took care of himself before leaving. He must be pretty desperate to resort to the Black Sacrament, and while I’m normally not a killer… this woman definitely deserves it. He also thought I was an actual member of the Dark Brotherhood, for some reason. Despite the fact that my armor is very clearly senior Guild armor, and not the red and black that I’m pretty sure the Dark Brotherhood favors.
Sapphire… didn’t exactly help me with trying to convince Aventus that I wasn’t an assassin, I was a thief, and there was a difference. Apparently, she was a member herself for a while, and while that would have been helpful to know earlier, she says she wouldn’t be able to take me to meet with the Dark Brotherhood’s leader, anyway. Apparently they didn’t like Mercer either. Apparently, the only way for someone without connections to the Brotherhood to meet with them is to perform the Black Sacrament or to kill one of their contracts.
That second option is considerably more risky, the Dark Brotherhood doesn’t like it when people steal their kills. However, they’re not taking Aventus’ contract, and as for Grelod the Kind? She needs to die. So if I can get in touch with the Dark Brotherhood in the process, I’m fine with that.
Oh yeah, one last thing: Happy New Life Festival. Happy 4E 202. Let’s hope it’s a good year.
Honestly, I can't say I was expecting Lora's story to make it all the way to 4E 202, or at least this part of it. Initially, I was planning to cut it off right after Lora's return to the Guild, but then I realized: I'd probably better do something about the Thalmor, right? Besides, our main pairing still hasn't happened and I mean... I know I tagged this as slow burn but the pace of this is slow even for me.
Trust me, I'm right there with y'all in internally screaming at Lora to tell Brynjolf how she feels. At least she's not denying it anymore. That's progress.
Chapter 133: Fredas, 2nd Morning Star, 4E 202
I’m back in Riften, we rode all day to get here and it’s almost dark now. I’m… going to kill Grelod the Kind once it’s fully dark. Sapphire knows what I’m up to, she asked if she could help be a distraction or something. I’m not going to break my own rule about sticking with a guildmate at all times, anyway, and… knowing what I do about her, there’s no one else I’d rather have at my back for something like this.
I’m not an assassin, but Grelod the Kind really has this coming, and I need to get in touch with the actual professional assassins. The Dark Brotherhood and the Thieves Guild have always been connected, apparently, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the more connections we have, the better. So, unfortunately, I can’t break ties with Maven Black-Briar just yet.
Actually talking to the Dark Brotherhood, though… well, if nothing else I’m curious, because when I was running around doing my Dragonborn business and running away from the Guild because I was an idiot that couldn’t actually talk to people, an assassin tried to kill me. Nearly succeeded, too. I didn’t write about it in my journal because I wanted to pretend it didn’t happen, and at this point I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but… I want to get that cleared up, if nothing else.
I also want to know who hated me enough to take out a contract on me with the Dark Brotherhood, but that’s secondary. I need to repair the bridges that Mercer burned. The more connections the Guild has, the more of a safety net we have when the Thalmor inevitably strike back.
I almost feel like a proper Guildmaster.
It’s done and I feel sick but the kids in the orphanage quite literally cheered when they saw Grelod’s body so… I think I did the right thing? I‘ll head back to Windhelm tomorrow, let Aventus know that Grelod the “Kind” is dead and got what she deserved.
I would have preferred to simply ruin her, but desperate times call for desperate measures. This woman was abusing these kids for the entire time I was in Riften and before I even came to Skyrim. When I heard what she was telling them…
Let’s just say I couldn’t resist hitting her with a Soul Trap spell before actually doing the deed. I don’t know what happens to people that are soul-trapped, but it’s definitely a terrible fate and it’s definitely one she deserved.
...even if I still feel like throwing up.
Sapphire says it’ll pass, and asked if I’d killed before. I have, obviously, but… I’ve only killed in self-defense, or in a few specific cases that haven’t been in self-defense… the other person has at least been able to defend himself (or herself).
I murdered Grelod the Kind, a defenseless old woman who happened to be an evil old crone, in cold blood. It had to be done, she had it coming, but I just… well. I think I’ll leave the assassinations to the assassins in the Dark Brotherhood from now on.
I hope this got their attention, I don’t think I have the stomach for much else.
Chapter 134: Loredas, 3rd Morning Star, 4E 202
I rode back to Windhelm, Sapphire’s with me again. Bryn offered to come with me this time, but… I really, really would rather he never finds out what I’ve done, what I’ve had to do. At least Sapphire’s supportive. I don’t know that Bryn would be, even though it was that or something far worse.
Aventus Aretino was a little too thrilled to hear that Grelod the Kind was dead, although I guess he did contract her death. He offered me payment, I refused to take it. He’s a kid alone in the world, he’s going to need all the money he can get in the future. Although… now that Grelod’s dead, he’s fine with going back to the orphanage, so I offered him a ride back to Riften.
Things are going to be interesting tomorrow between me, an ex-Brotherhood assassin that hopefully didn’t part on bad terms or things are going to get real messy real fast, and a slightly creepy kid whose heart, I’m pretty sure, is in the right place.
I’ll keep an eye on Aventus in the future, if I can. Once he comes of age (assuming I’m still around then) I’ll offer him a place in the Guild, although somehow I get the feeling his path involves a lot more murder. He’s just a kid, though, so… I’ll make sure he can get to that age where he can choose his own path. He deserves that much.
Chapter 135: Sundas, 4th Morning Star, 4E 202
We’re back in Riften, made pretty good time. Dropped off Aventus at the orphanage first, then headed back to the Guild… or I would have, if I hadn’t gotten a letter from a courier right in the middle of Riften. He wouldn’t say who’d sent it, and I opened it only to see two words (we know) and a black handprint above them. Cryptic, I know.
I showed it to Sapphire, and if her reaction’s any indication, it’s from the Dark Brotherhood. Great. She advised me not to have any plans for the next few days, so I’ve prepared. The Cistern should be able to maintain the defenses for another couple of weeks now, because, as it happens, everyone’s really good at finding soul gems, especially when they mistake said soul gems for actual gemstones.
I’m… a little
scared concerned, but… I’ll do what I have to. I’ll take the Dark Brotherhood over the Thalmor any day.
Chapter 136: Morndas, 5th Morning Star, 4E 202
I met with the current leader of the Dark Brotherhood (her name’s Astrid, she seems… all right, if a bit much on the murderous side) and I had so many questions. I still have a lot, but Sapphire was at least able to answer some of them. More on that later.
What I want to know is, how in Oblivion did anyone somehow slip into the Ragged Flagon, somehow kidnap me without anyone noticing or triggering the barrier - or with me waking up, I’m a light sleeper when I’m not sleep-deprived… granted, I’m usually sleep deprived, although I haven’t been lately - and haul my arse to the other side of Skyrim in the span of a night?
...wait, never mind. I think I fell asleep in the Flagon, not the Cistern. (So much for not being sleep-deprived…) There’s no protections over the Flagon, and I feel like an idiot now if I’m being honest. Oh well. At least the Dark Brotherhood didn’t somehow bypass the protections I spent far too long putting in place. That would have been really concerning.
Anyway, needless to say, you can probably imagine how I reacted to waking up somewhere that definitely wasn’t where I fell asleep. I… might have panicked a little. Clearly, panicking is the best way to introduce yourself to an assassin that leads a group of assassins. Clearly.
Fortunately, Astrid wasn’t too put off by my slightly panicked responses, and quickly explained what was up. Something that Sapphire neglected to mention earlier was that killing a contracted target of the Dark Brotherhood meant I needed to ‘repay my debt’, so to speak. And by that, I mean murdering one of three captives she had tied up.
Fortunately, one of said captives was a bastard that reminded me far too much of Mercer (ignoring the fact that Mercer isn’t a Khajiit, of course) that I had no problem killing. Astrid… actually offered me a place in the Dark Brotherhood, but I had to decline. Mainly because I’m the Guildmaster of the Thieves Guild and I contacted her to renew the alliance that Mercer had (I’m guessing) screwed up. Not because I don’t like killing or anything. (But I don’t like killing, let’s get that out there right now.)
While Astrid accepted that I couldn’t join the Dark Brotherhood, she did offer for me to stop by their… I think she called it a Sanctuary, or something like that, anyway. There’s a ominous-looking door with a skull on it in the woods west of Falkreath, called (quite originally) a Black Door, and it’ll apparently talk to me. I mean… alright, sure. The door will ask me:
What is the music of life?
I’m supposed to answer with:
Silence, my brother.
Once all that was cleared up, I headed out, and quickly figured out I was in the marshes north of Morthal, of all places. Take a guess as to who was waiting for me there. If you guessed Bryn, you’re unfortunately wrong… or, actually, fortunately. I don’t know how he’d react to knowing what I’ve done for this and I don’t want to know how he’d react to knowing what I’ve done for this. If you guessed Sapphire, however, you’re absolutely right.
Apparently, the two-person rule still applies when you get kidnapped by the Dark Brotherhood and hauled halfway across Skyrim. I didn’t know that and I made the rule, but I’m not complaining. (I kind of wish Sapphire had given me more of a warning than ‘you don’t want to have any plans for the next few days’, though.)
Once Sapphire had assured me that no, nobody was worried I was missing and freaking out about it, she’d left a note for Bryn (how considerate) we headed on to Dawnstar for the night and I… uh… might have gotten a little distracted. It’s a long story. Involving me pissing off the Daedric Prince of nightmares, so I doubt I’ll be sleeping well in the near future.
Worth it. I might be a thief but I’m not a murderer. I’ll leave that to the Dark Brotherhood.
And I might take Erandur up on his offer sometime. Gods know I need a friend who’s not involved in all the crazy shit I have going on in my life right now.
In case y'all couldn't tell, Lora did Waking Nightmare. Sapphire stayed behind in the tavern because she didn't really care. But I had Lora do Erandur's quest while writing a chapter for a different fic and I wanted to have an excuse for her to have actually met the guy.
In other news, I recently got Morrowind (Oblivion too although I haven't started playing that yet~) and wow am I glad Lora didn't go to Morrowind. All of the wildlife can and will kill you and at least half of said wildlife can and will attack you on sight. (I'm suddenly very, very glad I made my character be a bit of a coward, because it's not OOC at all for him to run away screaming from a cliff racer.)
We’re well on our way back to Riften by now. Not much happened today. If this was before I’d defeated Alduin, a dragon
probably definitely would have attacked us on the road, but fortunately there have been a lot less actual dragon attacks since I defeated Alduin. It's probably only partially because of that, and partially because of Paarthurnax. He said he’d try to teach some of the other dragons the Way of the Voice, and personally? I hope he succeeded.
I’ll pay him a visit when I get a chance, which, admittedly… might not be for a while. I’ll add it to the list of things to do
when we win against the Thalmor.
Unrelated note, I've been playing Morrowind and while the game is terrifying and really difficult I love it to pieces. I'll definitely be binge-reading my way through the Morrowind tag once I'm done with the main quest, that's for sure. Amazing game, if you liked Skyrim you'll probably like Morrowind too. Just be prepared to do lots of running away screaming from cliff racers. (Everyone does it.)
Chapter 139: Turdas, 8th Morning Star, 4E 202
We’re back in Riften, and… it’s good to be back. Nothing much happened while I was gone, thankfully - not that I expected much of anything to happen while I was gone, but you know. Better safe than sorry. And… I think we’re almost ready to strike at the Thalmor. I’ll try and get word to Astrid, see if we can’t make a plan…
The Thalmor won’t know what hit them, but I will. It’ll be someone finally fighting back, but not like the Stormcloaks are. Oh no. The Stormcloaks are, indirectly, helping the Thalmor by weakening the Empire, although I doubt any of them see it that way.
We’ll be hitting them where it hurts.
Chapter 140: Fredas, 9th Morning Star, 4E 202
Between the Guild, the Blades, and the Dark Brotherhood (although I’ve left out the fact that the Dark Brotherhood is involved when discussing plans with Delphine, what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her), the soonest we can strike is in a week. In the meantime, I’ve sent Rune and Ravyn to slip into the Thalmor’s outpost in Markarth (if you can call it that) and steal whatever they can find referring to future plans.
If I know anything about the Thalmor, it’s that they plan everything in advance. They won’t be leaving their master plans out in the open, but at this point in time, they wouldn’t have any reason to care about little things like the day-to-day travel plans of the Justiciar squads that travel around Skyrim looking for Talos worshippers, for instance. They will soon enough, of course.
Seeing as we’re thieves, we’ll be doing what we do best: stealing shit, and generally giving the Thalmor a hard time. That alone obviously won’t be enough to deter them, so Astrid’s agreed to send her assassins out to kill those groups of traveling Justiciars in exchange for full immunity from any sort of thievery from us and a warning sent her way if we find anything indicating the Dark Brotherhood might be in danger. (They agreed to do this in addition to their regular contracts, of course, but from the sound of things she didn’t seem to think it would be a problem to do that as well. I wonder if the rumors I’ve heard about the Dark Brotherhood beginning to fail are true? Not that I’m going to ask Astrid that, I have a sense of self-preservation.)
Delphine and Esbern, on the other hand… boy oh boy do I have plans for them, since they’re actually capable fighters and are in this mostly for revenge against the Thalmor. They're more capable fighters than like half the Guild, anyway… I mean, they could hold their own if push came to shove, but not in a full-scale battle. The obvious exceptions are Bryn, Karliah, me, Vex, and Sapphire. (I don’t doubt that Ravyn could and would defend himself quite well if push came to shove, but due to the whole Morag Tong/Dark Brotherhood thing, I’m going to pretend he doesn’t know how to fight. It’ll be less suspicious for him, and what Astrid doesn’t know won’t hurt her.)
So I’ve got plans. They’re still in the works, but let’s just say I’ll be paying Windhelm another visit with one of the dossiers I found in the Thalmor Embassy. If the information inside is any indication, I should be able to convince Ulfric Stormcloak to attack it head-on. In my admittedly-few encounters with him, he’s proved to have remarkably little self-control…
...on the other hand, I am an Altmer and that’ll be super suspicious to him and everyone else over there. I’ll get a couple of the Nords to talk to him, then. Maybe Bryn and Sapphire. Both of them can hold their own if things go south, and Bryn could smooth-talk a Thalmor Justiciar into converting to Talos worship if he wanted.
Nothing much happened today. Rune and Ravyn aren’t back, but Markarth is on the other side of Skyrim. I’m not worried, between the two of them they can take care of themselves.
I… might have spent most of the day in Nightingale Hall. Throwing up. I must have eaten something, I don’t know what. I just hope it doesn’t last long. The Guild needs me, and I… I have to be there for them.
I have t
Well, I nearly just threw up all over this journal, fortunately I got to the bucket in time. This sucks. I haven’t told Karliah why I’ve spent all day in here yet, but knowing her, she’s probably guessed.
This still sucks. It’s probably nothing serious, just annoying, but if I’m still throwing up tomorrow I think I’ll stop in at the Temple of Mara. Not that they’re particularly good healers, but they should at least be able to tell me if something’s actually wrong with me. Like… seriously wrong with me.
...I’m going to stop writing before I actually throw up all over this journal.
Ahh, the joys of being sick. Usually I write sick chapters when I'm feeling under the weather myself, but today? I'm actually feeling fine. Which is good, it's summer vacation and I hate being sick on vacation.
The priest of Mara I talked to seemed convinced I wasn’t sick in any way, shape, or form, right up until I threw up on him. He’s still convinced I’m not sick, and I’d be tempted to rob the gods-damned temple just to spite him if I didn’t know that the vast majority of their money finds its way to the people who need it most.
But seriously. I don’t know what’s going on. Neither does Karliah, it’s… kind of hard to hide the fact that you’re throwing up all over the place when you’re throwing up all over the place and I’m surprised I lasted as long as I did. The Guild’ll be fine without me, I hope, but either way I can’t help but feel like I need to be doing something, you know?
Not sick… right. If I’m not sick, then what is it? Allergies?
:] There's a storm coming, and Lora doesn't have a clue. That's all I'll say.
Chapter 143: Morndas, 12th Morning Star, 4E 202
I’ve been at least managing today. Managed to go for a couple of hours without throwing up this morning, long enough to learn that Rune and Ravyn weren’t back then but would probably get back later today.
Then I had to book it before I threw up on Bryn and Delphine. Not that I’d necessarily be against throwing up on Delphine, of course…
Chapter 144: Tirdas, 13th Morning Star, 4E 202
(Nothing on this page aside from the date is readable. It appears to be covered in dried vomit.)
Chapter 145: Middas, 14th Morning Star, 4E 202
I think I’m mostly better. I’ve only thrown up twice today, so that’s good. What’s not good is the fact that Rune and Ravyn still aren’t back, and I have a really bad feeling about this.
Sure, we don’t need those plans to strike, but they’d help a lot and if the Thalmor learn what we’re planning…
On the other hand, Markarth’s really far away, especially if you don’t have horses. I can’t remember if the two of them borrowed horses or not. It’s also extremely dangerous in the Reach currently, due to the Forsworn.
Auriel’s balls, I should see if I can get the Forsworn in on this. From what I’ve read about the Markarth Incident, the Thalmor screwed them over too (of course, who hasn’t the Thalmor screwed over at some point, let’s be honest) and they’d probably be quite willing to help us. And honestly, between them and the Stormcloaks... I think I'll pick the Daedra-worshipping heathens, thanks.
If worst comes to worst… we can’t change things in two days. We might have been able to in three, but unfortunately I was at my worst yesterday and… well, I doubt the Guildmaster of the Thieves Guild is supposed to be throwing up on everyone in sight.
Speaking of which, hang on.
I’m back, make that three times I threw up today. Damn it. If those two aren’t back by tomorrow, I’ll grab someone and go looking for them.
I really hope they’re okay…
Chapter 146: Turdas, 15th Morning Star, 4E 202
I grabbed Thrynn, mainly because he’s one of the better fighters in the Guild that’s not semi-essential to Guild operations, and we’ve been riding for Markarth. Stopped in the ruins of Helgen to give the horses a break. There were a lot of dead bandits, I guess the Jarl finally got off his arse and did something about the bandits holing up there. Although burning the bodies might have been a little excessive…
I haven’t thrown up once today, thank Auriel, although considering how I’ve been basically gone from the Guild over the past few days I think everyone probably has a pretty good idea of what’s up, I’m not that good of an actor.
In the meantime, I think… I’m going to go take a look around. I haven’t been back to Helgen since that day in the middle of Last Seed - although I’ve passed by it plenty of times, never stopped - and… it’s probably time I paid my respects to what happened here. Especially now that Alduin’s gone and won’t be able to do something like this ever again.
WE’RE DOOMED. WE ARE SO DOOMED I SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING WE’RE DOOMED WE’RE DOOMED WE’RE ABSOLUTELY DOOMED FUCK
(The rest of the entry devolves into messy scrawling that’s too messy, in fact, to read. However, you think you can make out bits of Aldmeris here and there. You don't know for sure, but judging by the context of the preceding writing, it's quite likely that the journal's author is swearing profusely in her native language.)
I’ve sent Thrynn back to Riften alone. Yesterday afternoon, actually. I would have written about it then but I… was a mess. I’m still a mess, I’m just a somewhat coherent mess now. There’s a difference. And anyway… it’s probably too late, but… I have to believe it’s not. I’m sure you’re wondering, why abandon the buddy system now? Well, for one thing, someone has to go. I’d much prefer to go myself, but Thrynn can at least play the part of a regular adventurer that’s of course completely law-abiding, and he doesn’t know Restoration magic. I’m pretty good at Restoration magic these days, but I’m not good enough to immediately have someone who was on death’s door fit to travel.
At least Rune’s conscious now, and while I’m still not sure how he survived until I got here, I’m not complaining. I have a bad feeling that he might be one of the only Guild members left at this point. I really, really hope I'm wrong, but...
Ravyn Iman betrayed us. I’m not sure why, my only guess is that he found out about the Dark Brotherhood and thought we were going to tell them about him. Which, I definitely will be soon, seeing as the bastard told the Thalmor everything he knew. Willingly, if Rune is to be believed. And I’m pretty sure my ‘sickness’ over the past week was actually poison, from him. He’s a good alchemist, and I didn’t want to believe it was poison…
I was wrong about him. So was Rune. So were all of us, and… I just hope there’s enough of an ‘us’ left.
What happened was, while Rune slipped into the Thalmor Justiciar’s quarters, Ravyn was supposed to be keeping watch. He didn’t. He immediately found said Thalmor Justiciar, and told him everything. The only reason Rune got out of that alive was through a mix of luck, stealth, and skill, but by the time he made it down to the Markarth stables, there was a patrol there. Doubtless waiting for him.
So he booked it, on foot. Realized there were Justiciars tailing him just before he got to Helgen, and he slipped into the bandit camp unnoticed by them.
This entire camp was decimated by a group of three Thalmor Justiciars, all to get to him. All because Ravyn Iman is a traitorous son of a bitch.
We both know they went after the Guild next. I have to hope that Nocturnal’s with them. She definitely was with Rune. He’d make a good Nightingale, actually, but…
If it comes to that.
I want to believe it won’t come to that, hasn’t come to that, but…
I have a bad feeling it might have already.
We’ll be on the road tomorrow morning. Rune still won’t be up to fighting, but if worst comes to worst I can dump him at the Temple of Mara and meet up with Thrynn.
Actually, if worst comes to worst…
Riften might not be a city of thieves anymore.
I'm just going to say this now and be done with it: not everyone is going to survive this. I put that Major Character Death tag in there for a reason...
never mind that I tag all my works with that when I start writing them just to be safe.
Chapter 148: Loredas, 17th Morning Star, 4E 202
So, I have some good news and bad news. We’ll start with the good news, because there’s much less of it. Good news, not everyone’s dead, but… I don’t know who’s alive. I know someone has to be alive, because the Thalmor have blockades at both entrances to the Cistern. I’m guessing Ravyn told them about the secret entrance, and when I find that traitor… if he’s lucky, the Dark Brotherhood will get to him before I do.
That… probably counts as bad news, so I should probably at least say the rest. Vekel’s dead, I saw his corpse. The Thalmor just… left him there, slumped over the bar with a dagger in his chest. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he bled out slowly and painfully, and I just… let’s just say it was all I could do not to start attacking the Thalmor right then and there.
I didn’t, because they would have murdered me on the spot, but I will make them pay. They will all die, slowly, and painfully, and then I might just break out the Restoration magic to make them last longer before I kill them again. What they’ve done… everything they’ve done… it’s inexcusable. I was a fool to drag the Guild into this, but it’s far too late to be having second thoughts. I just have to figure out how to fix this, how to keep anyone else from dying.
(And I don’t know who’s dead. It looked like some of the Thalmor were gathered around another body, but I couldn’t get close enough to tell who it was. I’m not sure I want to know who it was.)
And… well, I guess I’ve got some more good news. Thrynn, fortunately, makes an extremely convincing adventurer, but speech… is not exactly his strong suit. So he stayed well away from the Thalmor, and asked around in the Bee and Barb.
The word around town is that the Thalmor just marched in on Turdas, arrested Maven Black-Briar on the spot (I know I won’t be in any sort of hurry to save her, I never liked the woman anyway and I’m convinced she would have sold us out to the Thalmor if given the chance), and basically told Jarl Laila that they were going to clear out the Thieves Guild. Jarl Laila Law-Giver is… oblivious, at best, but she knows better than to say no to the Thalmor. The town guard’s been staying out of their way.
(Really, though, I thought Riften was Stormcloak territory. Some Jarl she is.)
We - and by we I mean myself, Rune, and Thrynn, now that he’s back - have been hiding out in Goldenglow. Ironic, isn’t it? Well… when I say ‘Goldenglow’, I mean the sewers underneath it. Not exactly sanitary, but then again, the Cistern is literally in the sewers. It’s just… a nicer part of the sewers. Because that’s basically what the Ratway is.
Thrynn also said there was a rumor that while most of the Guild is trapped in the Ratway, someone got out, badly wounded two Justiciars and killed a third, and got away. The guy who’d witnessed it didn’t see where the someone went or who they were (they were hooded) but he did say that whoever they were, they’d taken a Bound Sword to the gut and probably needed immediate medical attention to keep from bleeding out.
I wonder… the Thalmor probably would check the Temple of Mara, but… maybe… I know at least one of the healers there is actually a priestess of Talos, and I doubt the others have any love for the Thalmor, so… maybe, just maybe… whoever got out’s safe there.
I’ll check after dark - although, if I’m being honest, it’ll definitely be in the wee hours of the morning. Less chance of me running into someone that way. Considering that they’re definitely looking for me, I can’t afford to run into anyone.
In any case, there are… a few people in the Guild who are good enough to take down three Justiciars at once, and I’m one of them. I also know that there were a lot more than three Justiciars guarding the secret exit, so whoever it was was pretty good at stealth, as well.
If I can find whoever this is, before the Thalmor do… I’ll be able to get the information I need about what things are like inside the Cistern, and if…
Who’s dead and who’s alive.
Chapter 149: Sundas, 18th Morning Star, 4E 202
I have literally never been so glad to see Vex in my life. Even if she was far more irritable than usual, I think she felt the same way. Also, I can’t really blame her for being far more irritable than usual, considering the circumstances… but at least I finally know what happened. It’s not as bad as I’d feared, but it’s still pretty damn bad.
The short version is, everyone inside probably thinks we’re all dead. Which, frankly, I can see why. Thrynn and I left, and two hours later, the Thalmor showed up.
Vekel’s definitely dead. Tonilia tried to avenge him, and nearly went the same way. Vex wasn’t optimistic about if Tonilia’s still alive or not. Granted, she’s never optimistic, but still. Karliah wasn’t in the Cistern when the Thalmor arrived, and I’m thinking she might be in Nightingale Hall. I’m hoping she’s in Nightingale Hall, because if not…
I don’t want to think about it.
Most of the Guild is okay, or was when Vex broke out. Bryn’s okay (and if Vex’s knowing look was any indication when I asked… okay, this really isn’t the time), Sapphire’s okay, Delvin’s wounded but not badly, Etienne was on the verge of having another panic attack when Vex left but otherwise okay…
And… well, Vex wasn’t alone when she broke out. She and Cynric tried to sneak out together, and found out the hard way that the Thalmor knew about the secret entrance. Vex made it out. Cynric didn’t. Vex doesn’t know if he’s alive or not. Either way, she doubts he’ll be staying alive for long if he is, not without serious medical attention and/or Restoration magic, and the only people in the Guild who really know what we’re doing with that are me and Karliah.
Well, I can’t get in unless I want to commit suicide in the process, and Karliah hasn’t been seen by anyone since everything went to shit.
Some more good news and some more bad news: according to Vex, Esbern’s okay too, if a little (extremely) worried about everything, and… grieving. Because I now know exactly who that other corpse the Thalmor were gathered around in the main entrance was: Delphine. Sure, I hated her, she hated me, we didn’t get along, but she definitely didn’t deserve this. Nobody did, and yet… if I don’t figure something out, and soon, everyone else will go the same way.
Well, at least she went out fighting. Knowing her, I’m… really not surprised. But anyway. Due to us all being thieves and having our own little stashes of food and things, food isn’t a problem, water’s a minor one but they’ve got bigger issues, like my exceptionally shitty barrier holding. It’ll only last for another three days, and then...
If I don’t figure this out in three days, everyone’s going to die. Everyone. I’m such a gods-damned failure, but… I have to do something. I have to try.
Even if I know I’m going to fail again.
Chapter 150: Morndas, 19th Morning Star, 4E 202
I slipped into Nightingale Hall this morning, and found myself with an arrow pressed to my throat before either of us knew what was going on. I could have cried, I’m glad Karliah’s at least okay, ‘okay’ being the objective word here as she ran into the Thalmor herself and barely got away, but… still. In any case, the two of us spent most of the morning sneaking Vex out of Riften (which was an absolute nightmare with far too many close calls, but we made it) and now… we’re making a plan.
Or trying to, anyway. It’s maybe not going super well, but then again, let’s think about it. We’re all stressed, half of us are injured, and unless we can get our shit together and figure this out, everyone else in the Guild is going to get brutally murdered by the Thalmor or… something much, much worse. I don’t even want to imagine that, but it could easily become a reality if we don’t get our shit together. If I don’t get my shit together.
So we’re definitely justified here with being stressed. The problem is, being stressed isn’t going to save everyone’s lives.
We’ve got two days. Two and a half, technically, today isn’t over yet. Either way it’s not good. So… let’s think on this. They’ve got both of the entrances blocked, and while they initially had more force at the main entrance, Thrynn says they’ve got more people blocking the secret entrance now. The people inside wouldn’t know that, so if they try to break out that way…
That won’t be good for anyone. The good news is, almost everyone stuck in there is sneaky, and if we can distract the Thalmor enough… we might be able to get everyone out okay. But we need a plan, and it needs to be absolutely foolproof or it won’t work.
I have a few ideas, but none of them are anywhere close to foolproof.
But I have to try.
One day left. The barrier’s going to fail tomorrow, and when it does, everyone needs to be out of there. The Thalmor can’t find anyone there. They’ll murder anyone they find. But they won’t find anyone, not if I have any say in the matter.
We’ve got a plan, and it’s crazy enough that it just might work. It also might be the end of Skyrim’s Thieves Guild and the Nightingales of Nocturnal in one fell swoop, but while I’m cautious, I’m also cautiously optimistic that this will work.
Well, I have to be optimistic. This is, quite honestly, the best chance we’ve got.
Of course, we could just run, and set up shop elsewhere, and abandon a good part of the Guild to die. Logically, that would be the best option. The odds are better that we could get away, when the Thalmor were preoccupied with murdering our friends… but needless to say, that’s not happening. We might be thieves, but we take care of our own.
And I’m not running away from the Thalmor. Not this time. This time, I’m staying to fight. The odds are against us, and this could easily go very, very horribly wrong for all of us… but we’ve got luck on our side, and sometimes, luck is all you need. I mean, we’ve literally got the Daedric Prince of Luck (among other things) in our corner, so… there’s that.
In any case: here’s the plan.
After dark, Karliah and I are going to slip into the Flagon. Meanwhile, Thrynn’s going to head around the other way, to the secret entrance, and cause a distraction. What it is doesn’t matter, as long as it distracts the Thalmor and doesn’t result in him getting killed. Ideally, that’ll get the group crowding the exit away from said exit, or… at the very least distracted.
Karliah’ll use her Nightingale powers (or, to anyone who’s not a Nightingale, an extremely potent Frenzy poison) to make the Thalmor fight each other at the main entrance. While they’re distracted, we’ll slip in, and get everyone out the back way.
In case Thrynn’s distraction doesn’t work well enough, I’ll slip out and use my own power to clear the way. Then, we just need to slip out of the city by way of the old warehouse that I’m pretty sure had skooma dealings going on within at one point of another, and swim to Goldenglow. Until the Thalmor are dealt with for good, the sewers there will work.
There’s too many things that can go wrong. Far too many. But it’s the best hope we’ve got.
It’s almost dark, and even though we’ve still got some time, my heart won’t stop pounding away in my chest. I’ll just say it now and be done with it: I’m terrified. I’m absolutely, positively, completely terrified. The Thalmor scare the shit out of me.
Let’s hope I’ll be here to write tomorrow’s entry.
Happy Fourth of July to all my fellow Americans! (And Happy Wednesday to everyone else~!)
(Yeah, it's after midnight, it counts as the 4th already.)
Chapter 152: Middas, 21st Morning Star, 4E 202
I’ll be honest here, I can’t believe I survived that. Actually, strike that, I can’t believe anyone survived that. A lot of things went wrong. So much went wrong, in fact, that for some time, I thought we were all doomed… but we weren’t. We aren’t.
The Thieves Guild hasn’t been lost to the sands of time. We’re still alive. I’m still alive. And we’re going to rebuild. Sure, we’ve lost quite a few people. Vekel and Tonilia will definitely be missed. Delphine… maybe not quite as much, but at least she went out the way she wanted to: fighting. But we’re not broken. We’re damn well not defeated.
We’ve still got our allies in the Dark Brotherhood, for one thing.
And I think it’s high time we sent the Thalmor a message.
Get out of Skyrim, or we will make you.
Well, that’s my own motivation taken care of. Now I just need to convince everyone else to go along with me. That’ll be… fun.
On the plus side, there’s no way in Oblivion the Thalmor could know where we are now, and I almost wish I’d gotten to see the looks on their faces when they finally broke in and found the place deserted. Almost.
Chapter 153: Turdas, 22nd Morning Star, 4E 202
For the time being, we’re all going to lay low, make the Thalmor think they’ve won. Obviously, they haven’t, and they’d have to be really dumb to think they have, but it’s worth a shot. Besides, a lot of us are injured, myself included. So for now, everyone’s laying low…
...well. Almost everyone. Take a guess as to who’s not.
If you guessed ‘me’, you’re absolutely, positively, one-hundred-percent correct. I’m going to go check in with the Dark Brotherhood, and then…
I have an idea. It’s a really terrible idea, but it’s an idea nonetheless. If it works, it could be what we need to get the Thalmor out of Skyrim for good. If it fails, we’ll all probably die. Well… I’ll definitely die, as will anyone with me. Which is why I’m going alone, as soon as night falls. But we’ve got a bit until night falls, so I’ll explain at least a little.
I’m going to get back into the Thalmor Embassy. I’ll definitely have to either pick the lock or find a way over the fence, which will be fun. Once I’m in, I’ll disguise myself as a Justiciar. Don’t question why I have Thalmor robes, but I’ve had them since the last time I was infiltrating the Embassy. They don’t fit perfectly, but I got them off a female Justiciar so they shouldn’t be too obviously ill-fitting.
And then… then, I’ll slaughter as many as I can, otherwise screw over their plans as much as possible, and get out. Getting out is the important part, because while the Thalmor have always publicly decried necromancy and anything associated with it, I don’t doubt they’d take control of my corpse just to learn everything I know.
I haven’t decided what I’ll do with my journal yet. I might hide it somewhere. I might set an enchantment on it that keeps it from being opened by anyone other than me. I might just keep it with me, and set it on fire if worst comes to worst.
I’ll figure it out.
Chapter 154: Fredas, 23rd Morning Star, 4E 202
I’m well on my way to Falkreath. Why Falkreath, you ask? Well, that’s where the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary is. Not that I particularly want to visit them in their own territory, but someone’s got to let them know that the Thalmor might be coming for them next.
I’m pretty sure I slipped out of Goldenglow unseen. Thrynn and Karliah were on watch, and while it wasn’t hard to evade Thrynn… I had to resort to my Shadowcloak powers to get past Karliah unseen. I’m still not sure if I got past her entirely unnoticed, but if she caught me she didn’t say anything, and I’m glad of that.
This is something I have to do alone, I can’t risk anyone else on this. However, I have every intention of coming back. And I will.
First things first, though. I’ll check in with the Dark Brotherhood, and I’ll take it from there.
The Guild’ll be fine while I’m gone. I have to believe that.
In retrospect, I probably should have known better than to assume I’d gotten away entirely unnoticed. You know what they say about assuming… and I was right when I thought Karliah might have seen me leave. She did, but she stayed behind.
Naturally, she immediately told Bryn, and guess who caught up with me at the worst possible time? By that, I mean right outside the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary. I wound up breaking down entirely and telling him everything. Well… not everything-everything, but… what I’d done to get in touch with the Dark Brotherhood.
He did not, in fact, freak out. In all honesty, I did most of the freaking out. He didn’t immediately decide he no longer wanted nothing to do with me, after… after that. Which was good.
Instead, he said, and I quote: “Lass, you don’t have to be alone in this.”
Then he hugged me.
I… considered telling him how I really felt, but in the end, I couldn’t. I’ve got enough bullshit to deal with already, I can’t deal with him rejecting me, too. Because, let’s be honest here, he’d never like me in that way. And even if he did… I don’t think I’d ever be able to live with myself if he ended up the same way Ganriil did. I loved Ganriil. And…
And I love Brynjolf. There, I wrote it down. That’s the closest I’ll ever get to actually telling him, most likely, and now I really need to enchant this so nobody other than me can read this, but I’ll worry about that later.
Astrid was sorry to hear about the Guild, although she was… quite interested in Ravyn Iman. Not only is he a traitor, but he’s ex-Morag Tong… and, as it happens, he was absolutely right in assuming the Dark Brotherhood would want him dead for that alone.
Normally, the Thieves Guild deals with their own problems, and the Dark Brotherhood doesn’t take contracts on Thieves Guild members, but both Astrid and I agreed this called for an exception. I… wisely didn’t mention the fact that I’d known he was Morag Tong all along. Astrid didn’t ask how I knew, thankfully. I guess I could have lied and said another guildmate told me a couple of days back, but you know.
I need to figure out what I’m doing from here, anyway. Bryn’s made it quite clear that he’s not letting me do this on my own, so I need to figure out how to get him in with me. Maybe I could pose as a Justiciar whose squad was killed and who brought Bryn in as a prisoner…? That’s probably the least likely option to fail miserably, but on the one hand I don’t know how well that would work and on the other, that would mean throwing him right back into their torture chambers.
And I can’t do that.
Lora: *writes confidential Nightingale stuff in her journal* Yeah it'll be fine
Lora: *writes a confession in her journal* Okay I need to make sure nobody other than me ever reads this
We made it to the outskirts of Markarth within like a day, which is pretty impressive considering both of us are on foot and the road from Falkreath to Markarth is… not an easy one. I guess it could have been worse, though. At least we didn’t run into any bandits or Forsworn or… well, actually we might have run into a couple of wolves but wolves are easy to deal with compared to some of the other things you can run into.
Traveling’s a lot less lonely when you’re with someone, although now that I’m writing this down I guess that’s… kind of obvious. But still.
Oh yeah… I would like to say nothing much happened today, but… well...
Remember when I accidentally got in a drinking contest with Sanguine? As in, the Daedric Prince Sanguine? While drunk, I stole a goat, got engaged to a hagraven, and trashed the Temple of Dibella in Markarth, among other things. I don’t remember any of what I did, but up until today, I thought that was all I did.
Then some random Argonian came up to me, called me a drunken bastard, and demanded I pay up. Apparently, when I was drunk off my arse (and while I generally am not a blackout drunk, this particular time was the notable exception) I dared him to go into a bandit camp, steal the leader’s hat, and I’d pay him ten thousand septims for it. You can probably imagine how shocked I was.
(Bryn, meanwhile, was laughing his arse off nearby.)
I managed to talk the Argonian down to 750 gold, which is… still far too much, but even if I wanted to give him ten thousand septims, I don’t have that much on me. I’d have to be an idiot to carry that much on me, and I’m no idiot. In any case, I gave him the money, he gave me the hat, which was definitely not worth that much money, and left.
Later on, I explained what happened - or at least what I knew of what happened - to Bryn. He’s still laughing about it, damn it. He’s literally in no position to judge, because at least I didn’t get myself involved in a conspiracy and thrown into Cidhna Mine. Sure, I got myself thrown in there too, but that was solely to bail him out because he was and still is an idiot.
I've yet to run into Deep-In-His-Cups with Lora's character, but I feel like it'll be hilarious when he finally shows up. I wasn't aware there were any in-game events triggered by Sanguine's quest. Clearly, I was wrong.
Chapter 157: Morndas, 26th Morning Star, 4E 202
We made it to Solitude, and… I think I know what I’m going to try. Once I’m done writing this, I’ll ask Bryn about it. I’ll figure something else out if he’s not okay with it, and in all honesty… I hope he says no.
The best plan I’ve got is still me posing as a Thalmor Justiciar bringing a prisoner in for interrogation. But if Bryn’s not okay with going back in there, I’ll figure something else out. I don’t want to have to put him through that again. Nobody should have to go through that once, never mind more than that.
In any case… whatever happens, happens.
The Thalmor are going down, and if I have to go it alone to keep him safe… I’ll go it alone. I’ll do what I have to. I always have.
We’re going in. I don’t trust myself with this journal, so I’m going to hide it with the rest of my nonessential gear… which is pretty much everything, including my armor. Wearing a Justiciar robe over my Guild armor would be far too hot, and I think someone would notice, anyway. I’ve been working on my Conjuration so I can conjure a bow or a sword if I need to, and I’ve got a lot of magicka potions for fire-related purposes. I do have a dagger in my boot, just in case I don’t have time to do anything with magic.
I can’t be too careful with this. If I screw this up, Bryn will definitely die, it’s only a matter of when. And… I guess I will too, but that’s kind of secondary at this point. So I need to not screw up.
I’m not a particularly distinctive-looking Altmer, and my Illusion magic’s gotten a lot better, so I should be able to maintain a spell to keep anyone from recognizing me if it comes to that. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
I’m going to do as much damage as possible, grab Bryn, and get out. It might be a bit until my next entry.
I wonder if the Thalmor Embassy is fireproof?
Fortunately, what Lora considers """""essential gear"""""" does include the Amulet of Articulation. Which is good, because her Speech skill is... not high.
So much has happened over the past few days that I don’t know where to begin, but I guess I might as well begin where the last entry ended.
The Thalmor Embassy, as it happens, is not fireproof, and a bonus of the fire is that any evidence of what I’ve done went up in ash and smoke, as well as all the Justiciars within at the time. That’s most of the Justiciars in Skyrim. Including that… including Elenwen. Words can’t describe how much I hate her at this point. Mainly because seeing as the Thalmor had failed to break Bryn the last time they captured him, they brought in the professionals. Or, professional. One. Not plural.
So yeah, that absolute cunt is dead and I made sure to kill her in the slowest, most painful way possible. Well, actually, I didn’t kill her. I left her to die in the flames, which is a slow, painful death at is finest, and if by some stroke of luck, she survives… well, considering how the Thalmor are all obsessed with perfection, those scars will be more than enough to get her a big demotion. In the Thalmor, ‘demotion’ roughly translates to ‘execution’, so no matter what, she’s going to die, if she hasn’t already.
Besides, luck is on my side. I literally sold my soul to the Daedric Prince of luck, so luck had better be on my side. I didn’t sell my soul to Nocturnal for nothing. Besides, even if I spend my afterlife serving her… I’ve read a little bit into the various potential afterlifes. For… reasons. Most souls, after death, go to the Dreamsleeve, where they’re recycled and broken down to make new souls. These are the people who don’t go to other places. Nords that died bravely in battle (so, the vast majority of them) go to Sovngarde, for example. And anyone who’s sold their soul to a Daedric Prince goes to that realm.
I guess that could get messy if you’d sold your soul to multiple Daedric Princes, but hopefully nobody would be stupid enough to do that. I know I wouldn’t be. In any case, it’s nice to know I won’t just disappear after I die, that I’ll be able to live on in Evergloam. Even if it means I’ll be serving Nocturnal in my life and death… eh. I can live with that. And am. I’ll ask Karliah about the details at some point, she’d know that stuff.
Given how much I’ve talked about fire in this, you might be surprised to learn that this is actually the first time I’ve burnt a building down, or… really, anything down. Sure, I like fire, but it’s a tool like any other, a weapon. It could destroy me just as easily as anything else if I’m not careful.
It nearly did, because I might have been an idiot and might have set the Thalmor Embassy on fire from the inside, and it got… way out of control. Bryn and I nearly died there. It didn’t help that he was pretty out of it at the time from whatever poison they used on him this time. I shouldn’t have put him in that position, I should have figured something else out… but enough about that.
I’m only going to say this once: we would not have made it out without inside help. Was I expecting said inside help? No way. Not in a million years. So, um… we’re back out and the group’s increased to three people. Which is really awkward, mainly because of just who our third member is.
But seriously, he stuck out his neck for us, I couldn’t just leave him there. Besides…
He’s my father, I shit you not. I freaked out too. Mentally, at the time, because we were stuck in a burning building that we needed to get out of as soon as possible. So, he apparently joined the Thalmor to try and find me. And help me, because apparently Ganriil’s death and my disappearance was the final straw for him.
Which is, quite frankly, great! And the best luck I’ve had in years. I should be suspicious, I know I should be suspicious, especially after Ravyn’s betrayal, but… I can’t be suspicious of my own father. He always believed in me, until the moment my life blew up quite messily at the seams. Mother… well, she gave up on me when it became too obvious to ignore that Ganriil (and by extension, me) was directly involved in the rebellion.
She didn’t need me, anyway. She already had her perfect child, after all: my older sister, Canaginia. (Our mother… had a thing for names that were a mouthful. Ironic, considering her own, which I don’t feel like actually writing out for some odd reason. Huh. Funny how that works.) The last I heard of Cana, she was doing extremely well up at the Crystal Tower. Good for her, except that our mother’s holier-than-thou attitude rubbed off on her. The last time we spoke…
Well. She probably doesn’t miss me, and I know our mother doesn’t. But our father… for whatever reason, he always had my back. He was always there for me when Mother wasn’t, and Cana was busy. So if I can’t trust him, then I can’t trust anyone.
Also, I think he’s somehow very, very well aware of my feelings for Bryn. I promised I’d talk to him about that once I was done writing this, so I’m going to keep writing (or at least pretending to write) until Bryn wakes up. He should be waking up soon… and that’s definitely going to be an interesting conversation.
Hey, Bryn, we survived! And this is my father, Cyrelas. We can trust him, he saved our lives, it’s complicated. Father, this is Brynjolf. He’s…
The love of my life.
Someone who I care about very much.
An utter idiot that I love anyway.
A friend. From work. Oh, yeah, about that… I’m kind of a thief now. Also somehow the leader of a group of thieves. It’s a thing. That you probably already know about, given that the Thalmor know about it. But yeah, we’re doing good. Well, maybe not good, but we’re doing better. And we’re going to keep getting better.
Time will tell how much the Thalmor’s operations in Skyrim are, but currently, the only agents left in Skyrim are those in Markarth and whatever ones are still roaming around looking for Talos worshippers or… roaming around for other reasons I guess.
Father keeps making eye contact and I can tell he’s getting impatient, and… well, I know I didn’t get my impatience from Mother, that’s for sure.
I haven’t asked him about Mother or Cana yet. I’m not sure I want to know the answer, and if you’ll excuse me, Bryn’s waking up and that’s my cue to stop writing for now. We’ll see how things go.
You guys aren't going to believe this, but we're actually almost at the end. As in, y'all know I write a little bit ahead, and... I've got the ending written out. We're almost there, guys. And wow, was this a ride!
I've been planning bringing Lora's dad in for so long, you guys don't even know. I made up her mom and sister last night, ahaha~! And... well, I've been playing through Morrowind with a different character, but I'm considering playing through either Oblivion or Morrowind (again) with Lora's dad. Because, unlike Lora, he was around back then. If anything, I probably won't make him the Hero of Kvatch, because he's... obviously not Sheogorath. Ah well. I've been wanting to have a character in Morrowind that's based around magic for a while, never mind that the magic system is... a bit of a pain, what with magicka not regenerating unless you sleep and spells being able to fail if you're tired enough (or just bad enough at magic). But I digress.
Cyrelas Jorius would make a good Nerevarine, though. :)
So, Father’s surprisingly okay with me being a thief. He’s not joining the Thieves Guild, but he hasn’t immediately condemned me for breaking the law. Which is… honestly, about what I expected. Like, he’s okay with it, he just asked for me not to ask him to steal anything, because he won’t. That’s fine by me. Although… he did sound really, really interested when I mentioned the Blades. Maybe I can get him and Esbern together, because I know Esbern’s not a leader. My father… might be. And the Blades sounds like something right up his alley.
For now, we’re on our way back to Riften… well, technically, Goldenglow, but it’s right outside of Riften and I’m hoping we can move back into the Flagon at some point, once the Thalmor’s dealt with. Which they will be soon, if they aren’t already. We’ve yet to see the effects of the Thalmor Embassy being destroyed, but I’ve already screwed over their base at Northwatch Keep (admittedly, with help, and they definitely could use it again if they brought in the manpower, which definitely isn’t the case in the Thalmor Embassy) and as I’ve said, their only significant base left is in Markarth.
According to Father, the ranking officer in Skyrim now, with Elenwen dead, is either Ondolemar in Markarth, or Ancano in Winterhold. Since we’re conveniently staying in Falkreath for the night, I’m going to slip out and, ah… inform the Dark Brotherhood that they need to die. With them dead, the Thalmor are going to have some serious problems. Not that they don’t already.
Of course, I doubt they’ll do this for free. Ravyn Iman was one thing, they likely would have wanted him dead regardless. As the guildmaster of the Thieves Guild, I’ll probably get a discount, but I doubt it’ll be free.
That’s fine. I can always steal more shit and sell them to…
Right. Tonilia’s dead. And so’s Vekel. We’ll need a new fence, and I mean… there’s still Gulum-Ei in Solitude, Niranye in Windhelm, and our friends with the Khajiit caravans. And Enthir, of course. I might be able to convince that silversmith in Markarth to fence for us, seeing as he had no qualms about hiring the Guild (aka, me) to get his silver mold back. Having a fence in the general area anywhere in Skyrim is great, don’t get me wrong, but we need someone in Riften. Maybe Delvin, I remember hearing somewhere he used to fence things.
I’m… I should have been there. I should have been able to warn them, get everyone out before the Thalmor got there. If I had, Vekel and Tonilia would still be alive. (Delphine too, I guess.) Cynric wouldn’t be potentially crippled for life, and we wouldn’t be holing out in the sewers of what used to be a honey farm. The owner, Aringoth, skipped out of town once the Guild finally got in, and considering that he’d made both enemies of us and Maven Black-Briar? I’m not surprised.
Speaking of Maven Black-Briar, I don’t know where the Thalmor are keeping her, and frankly, I don’t give a damn. I never liked her to begin with, and from what I’d heard she’d been walking all over the Guild for a while. There was a rumor going around for a while that she and Mercer were getting it on, and while I’m pretty sure it was started by Delvin (because let’s be honest, that man starts rumors like his life depends on it, and nobody’s safe) if there’s any truth at all to it, my respect for both of them just dropped dramatically. Not that I had any respect for Mercer Frey left, of course. That guy’s long dead, and I’d like to think Nocturnal’s making him pay for everything he did in life. Which was, admittedly, a lot.
Most of the Black-Briars, as it happens, are terrible excuses for people. One of Maven’s kids is in jail for murdering his ex’s brother - right after she confronted him for cheating on her. Her brother got involved, got stabbed, died. I hope he rots there. That’s Sibbi Black-Briar. Then there’s Hemming Black-Briar, who… I’m honestly not sure what his relation actually is to Maven Black-Briar because I overheard her implying that her kids were also his kids… which is really messed up when you keep in mind that he’s also her son. Hello, incest! As if this family couldn’t get any more messed up.
Then there’s Ingun Black-Briar, Maven’s daughter who’s probably the least terrible person in the family, and she’s still pretty messed up. Who wouldn’t be, with Maven Black-Briar as a mother? But yeah, she spends all her time down in the apothecary’s shop, conveniently located right across from the main entrance to the Ratway on the city’s lower level. Which would be normal enough, except that all she does is make poisons, and as someone who made the mistake of asking about them once, she will go on and on about how fascinating it is to make someone’s heart stop.
So yeah, I’ll be very, very surprised if she doesn’t wind up joining either the Dark Brotherhood or the College of Winterhold - and the College doesn’t count alchemy as a school of magic at the moment, so probably the Dark Brotherhood. I mean, it's her choice.
In any case: fortunately, Father hasn’t brought up Bryn in front of him. Which is good, because for one thing that would get really embarrassing really fast and for another, I’ve done my best not to be alone with him long enough for him to bring it up. I can only procrastinate so long, sure, but I’m damn well going to keep procrastinating.
I realized midway through writing this chapter that I had a great opportunity to screw Maven Black-Briar over and I ran with it. No regrets.
Chapter 161: Sundas, 1st Sun's Dawn, 4E 202
We’re back with the Guild, and while writing it here is the closest I’ll come to admitting this… I was really, really very extremely worried that the Thalmor might have struck back at the Guild. They didn’t. In fact, from what I’m hearing, the Thalmor are reeling from the destruction of their Embassy. Unsurprisingly, both the Solitude Guard and the Imperial Legion aren’t exactly doing much to investigate. I know I wouldn’t, if I was in their position. So now, we just have to wait. Easier said than done.
In the meantime, Father and Esbern seem to be getting along, which is good. As I said, Esbern’s no leader. Father… has always been intrigued by the Blades. Had the Thalmor not come to power, he might have even joined them. He was definitely around for the Great War, if a little too elderly to fight. I mean, he was around for the Oblivion Crisis, although he wasn’t in Cyrodiil then, and that was where it all went down. (Unless, of course, you listen to the Thalmor.) He did a lot of traveling when he was younger. He was in Morrowind back when the whole Nerevarine thing was going down, he got around a lot.
I think he actually was part of an expedition to Akavir once, although… I’m pretty sure it didn’t end well. He doesn’t like to talk about it.
I’ve been… kind of avoiding him lately, actually, because I know he wants to talk about Bryn and I really, really don’t want to have that conversation right now. Or ever, actually.
I know he liked Ganriil, and
Alright, so Brynjolf literally just came up to me, said “lass, we need to talk, meet me outside” and walked off. I guess we’re talking. I’d probably better get out there.
Auriel’s balls. Auriel’s balls! That’s all I have to say at the moment. Mainly because my thoughts are barely coherent at this point...
I’ll explain what happened tomorrow, I promise. I just… need a moment. Or two. Or several million. I’m not sure how many moments are in a day and I’m too distracted to wonder how many there are at the moment!
But on a semi-related note, when did Bryn and Father talk, and why in Oblivion did they start talking about me,
and why in Oblivion did Father have to bring Ganriil up, and
I need a moment.
Alright, I’m at least somewhat more composed now. So, Father had the bright idea to mention Ganriil to Bryn. Like… I’d told Bryn about the reason why the Thalmor hated me so much, but I didn’t bring up Ganriil. Father thought I had, and wound up telling Bryn a lot by accident. (At least I hope it was by accident, but... well, he tries.) So… Bryn and I talked.
He might be an idiot, but he’s probably the nicest idiot I’ve ever run into. As well as the nicest Nord, for that matter. Out of all the thieves in the Guild, there are very few who I would expect, after finding out about Ganriil, to ask me before anything else if I was okay.
Gods, I love him.
And wouldn’t you know it, he finally knows. Mainly because I finally had the courage to tell him. This was, of course, after I finally broke down and started crying, but we're focusing on the positives here.
I should probably mention, of course, that Father… definitely helped matters along. And by that, he basically told Bryn that I was head-over-heels for him and he should talk to me about it, because apparently… Bryn feels the same way?
Looking back, I shouldn’t be surprised. He’s always had my back, and while part of that I can attribute to being his most recent protege, half the Guild are his former proteges, and I know he never acted the same way around me as he did around Sapphire, or Rune. I heard from Vekel around the time when Karliah and I were just getting back in with the Guild that when Mercer and I had disappeared, he’d gone out looking for me. At the time, I interpreted that as him looking for me and Mercer. Now… I’m thinking Vekel might have meant that quite literally. And there’s several more examples I can think of right off the top of my head.
Auriel’s balls, how have I been missing this? It’s so damn obvious, looking back.
I guess, in my defense, Bryn was also somehow completely oblivious to my feelings for him. So it’s a two-way thing. And…
I think I’m going to give him this journal, and tell him to read it. Cover to cover. (Or… cover to as far as I’ve written, anyway, although this journal’s almost full, I’m going to need a new one soon.) There’s a lot of stuff I haven’t been completely upfront about, and… there’s a lot of stuff in here that I want him to know, that I really don’t feel like saying.
So, Bryn, on the off chance you’re actually reading this and I didn’t chicken out… yeah. I know I was an idiot, and still kind of am. But we both are. And now that I know you’re probably going to read this, it’s kind of hard to write down, but…
I love you. I love you so, so much.
Update: he finished, gave this back, and promptly gave me a hug. Thanks, Bryn. I needed that.
WE'RE ALMOST AT THE END, GUYS, I KID YOU NOT! This is the last entry Lora'll be making for a while... but, of course, you guys don't have to wait years for her to find this and realize she hadn't actually filled up this journal entirely. And wow, is this some slow burn at its finest. The main pairing finally gets together in the second-to-last chapter.
I don't plan on writing out what goes down with the Dawnguard and Dragonborn DLCs. However, I can assure you that Lora does, reluctantly, side with the Dawnguard, if only because she didn't want to become a vampire. And I do plan on maybe writing out... something else. I won't go into detail about it until I've posted the epilogue, and that's coming tomorrow, but I can assure you it does involve Lora - just not in the way you might think.
So... I'll see y'all tomorrow, and wow was this a ride. Thank you all so much for reading this, and giving both me and Lora a chance. :) And hey, if you liked Lora's story, why not check out some of my other works? I can't promise they'll update anywhere near as often, but there'll at least be longer chapters.
So… it’s been a while. I’ve kept journaling in other volumes, sure, but… my entries have gotten short these days, and honestly rather uninteresting. Which is probably a good thing. There’s an old Aldmeri curse that roughly translates to “may you live in interesting times”, and as for interesting times… I’ve had my fair share, and I’m pretty happy with keeping my life uninteresting for now, thanks.
Well… mostly uninteresting. Father found where the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal’s being kept these days - he kind of took over the Blades, and I really shouldn’t be surprised knowing him - and since Bryn, Karliah, and I are good little Nightingales, we’re going to go steal it. And possibly see if the rumors are true, that it removes one’s identity from history. I’m not sure how we’d test it.
Even if the rumors are true, I wouldn’t want to wear it. Before I came to Skyrim, I would have leaped at the chance, but now… now, I have a family again, and I mean that both figuratively and literally. Sure, the Guild’s like a big extended family, but I’ve got my actual, biological father back, and I’ve got Bryn, and… we have a daughter.
Her name’s Linwen, although almost everyone calls her Lin. She’s got Bryn’s cold resistance, my ability for magic, and she’s already got the entire Guild wrapped around her finger like the little charmer she is. She didn’t get that from me, that I can tell you. But she did inherit my race. That’s what usually happens, the mother’s race determines the child’s race. So she’s a precious little mer and I wouldn’t have her any different.
That does mean, of course, that she’ll outlive her father… but I try not to think of that.
In any case, things are going pretty great for us, and not so great for the Thalmor. By that, I mean there hasn’t been a presence in Skyrim for years, and their hold on the Empire is… slipping. Of course, that does mean we’re drawing closer and closer to war, but hey - at least Skyrim’s still a part of the Empire.
The Imperial Legion defeated the Stormcloaks once and for all at the Battle for Windhelm, but that was so long ago, I can hardly remember it. Then again, I wasn’t really paying that much attention. Riften was a Stormcloak-controlled Hold initially, so Jarl Laila… did not stay in power for very long. Seeing as most of the Black-Briars were conveniently nowhere to be found, and nobody really wanted Ingun in charge, they put one of Laila’s sons in the position, noted Imperial supporter from the beginning. He’s still the Jarl currently, and as for Ingun Black-Briar…
Well, I wasn’t wrong in guessing she’d join up with the Dark Brotherhood, that’s for sure. Granted, I wasn’t expecting that the Dark Brotherhood would nearly get destroyed, but they did. Only a few months after I switched to a new journal, too. The only surviving members, out of the ones that I met, were a Redguard named Nazir and a vampire named Babette who… looks like a child, I shit you not. But they’ve been recruiting, they have a jester that I really hate dealing with for… obvious reasons, if you knew the man. Ingun Black-Briar joined up, as did my old friend Jenassa, surprisingly. Then again, she did always say that ‘death was her art’ and that she was a master of said art, apparently, so maybe I shouldn’t be that surprised.
And they have a Listener, whatever that is. I’m not sure I want to know what that is, but it seems to be a position relatively high up, and for whatever reason, it’s gone to Aventus Aretino, of all people. I don’t know why, but he seems happy and the Dark Brotherhood is doing well.
And as I said, so is the Thieves Guild. We’re still not quite to the level of influence we were at when Gallus was in charge, but for one thing, Mercer did a lot of damage, and for another, Gallus Desidenius really, really got around, I swear. I don’t know how he did it, because the job of Guildmaster entails far too much paperwork, and I still am kind of stuck in Riften most of the time even when I enlist Bryn and Delvin to help me with it. In all seriousness, we’re thieves, do we really need paperwork?
Eh. I guess it’s important, since we’re still doing it. But yeah. Guild’s doing well, life’s pretty good, Linwen is turning six soon. I’ve… come a long way since my last entry in this journal. We all have. In truth, I’m not sure why I bothered to fill up these last few pages, but hey, I might as well. (I write this, of course, as I already am on the last page.)
Meanwhile, the Blades are doing great, and have been since Father took over. Apparently he was actually a member of the Blades at one point, and since he was the ranking member after Delphine’s death, he had absolutely no problem whatsoever with telling me to ignore Delphine’s ultimatum because she didn’t know what she was talking about. I had absolutely no problem whatsoever with listening to him. Esbern’s still around, but he’s getting old - he’s not much younger than me, and while a century is nothing to sneeze at for a mer, it’s almost unheard of for a Nord to last that long. Mainly because of their whole “Victory or Sovngarde” thing, but you know.
Obviously, it’s a lot more than just Father and Esbern now. I know a couple of my guildmates are Blades, too, if only because I’m the Dragonborn and I’m supposed to know these things. Really, though, if you’d told me Rune part-times as a Blade… well, actually, I wouldn’t have been all that surprised. Vex was a surprise, I’m still not sure how Father convinced her to sign on, but it explains why she’s around the Flagon significantly less these days. She seems happy, though… well, then again, this is Vex we’re talking about, so by ‘happy’ I mean ‘significantly less likely to verbally destroy someone without good reason’. Which is good.
So, in any case… I guess this is it. I reread this entire book of mine before writing this entry, and… wow. The first thing that came to mind was that I was a huge idiot. I’d like to say that’s changed, but we all have idiotic tendencies from time to time. Regardless… my name is Lora Jorius. I am the Guildmaster of Skyrim’s Thieves Guild, and I am the Last Dragonborn.
(I had some issues with the First Dragonborn a while back… we don’t talk about that. Or the vampires. Especially not the vampires. Serana’s decent but the rest… ugh. And the Dawnguard’s even worse.)
You know, I almost didn’t come to Skyrim. The wagon I’d hitched a ride on to get to the border, back in Cyrodiil, had plans to continue to Morrowind. I’d considered continuing to Morrowind, but in the end… I think I’ll always be glad I didn’t.
Wow. I can't believe we're finally here. I know I first began playing Skyrim at around Christmas last year, and I made Lora's character... well, she wasn't my first character, but she was one of my early ones. She's grown so much, and in all honestly, she's not the only one. I've never been able to keep a journal myself for more than a couple of weeks, so if you'd told me before I started writing this that I'd be able to write out a fictional one for several months, I would have laughed. And really... this has been an amazing journey, even if Lora was a huge idiot during most of it. At least she's self-aware?