I wake to find myself bound by the hands in a prisoner wagon. I was captured in an ambush meant for someone named "Ulfric Stormcloak". The Imperials have mistaken me for some sort of rebel. A fellow prisoner in the wagon explains our situation – we are heading for Helgen Imperial Outpost – this doesn't look good for me.
We reach Helgen and the Imperials begin to log the prisoners. I am not on the list. They take my vital statistics. The Captain says I will go to the block anyways... although my remains will be sent back to my homeland. Very reassuring.
General Tullius tells Ulfric he is a bad man and will die for killing the High King of Skyrim using the "Power of the Voice" to usurp his throne.
We hear ominous roaring.
A Priestess begins last rites – A Stormcloak interrupts her to head to the block. He gets into position and has his head chopped off.
Now it is my turn – More roaring.
I head to the block. I get into position.
ROAR! I see a great flying beast heading this way! What is it?
It's a dragon! It interrupts my execution. While meteors fall from the sky, the dragon breathes some kind of magic on my captors. I am dazed by the vibrations. But now is the time to escape! I might have no other chance. The fellow from the cart tells me to follow him if I want to survive.. so I do.
We head toward a tower.
Inside he exchanges a few words with the man identified at the execution as Ulfric Stormcloak– but we have little time for chatter, we need to keep moving. The dragon bursts through an opening at the top of the stairs. Fire from its great gaping maw blasts a soldier. Then the dragon withdraws its head from the opening and turns its destructive force on other targets.
I need to jump down out of the tower to an Inn that has been partially destroyed.
I am running through the inn, and when I exit I see one of the Imperial's from my execution directing me to relative safety.
The dragon swoops past blowing fire on anything in its path. The Soldier commands me to follow him if I want to stay alive. I hear his name "Hadvar" spoken by another Imperial. The dragon is circling and burning everything. It is total chaos. Looks like I have little choice but to follow. We run through a burning ruin of the village toward what I do not know, but apparently in the direction of a safer haven.
The Imperials are trying to fight with everything they have, but it looks to me like they are losing. I will continue to follow Hadvar for the moment, he seems to know where he is going.
I pass many burned and dying. The smell is awful. I say a few hasty prayers as I bolt after the fleeing Imperial.
We come across the man from the cart. Hadvar and the man exchange some epithets about traitors and such. Now I have a choice... keep following Hadvar, or follow the other man who Hadvar calls "Ralof".
I must make a decision quickly, the dragon is still attacking fiercely.
Logic says that Hadvar will know more of where he is going and how to escape (since he has obviously been here a while). He may also be able to find caches of supplies that will be helpful in escape.
We enter the Keep.
Hadvar cuts my bindings and tells me to collect some gear. We appear to be in a barracks of some sort. There are several chests that may yield something useful.
I am not very handy with a sword, but I take one anyway... you never know what may be lurking inside this Keep. I also find some armor (which I may be able to sell off later... providing that I can get out of this alive) and a key, also a bit of gold.
We hear some Stormcloaks ahead. Hadvar says that we could try reasoning with them. We walk in, and the Stomcloaks both run at me weapons drawn, death in their eyes.
After some dodging and strategic retreat on my part, they turn their attention to Hadvar. I use the sword from behind, I help finish off one, and start summoning a familiar to help dispatch the other.
My magika is insufficient! But not to worry, Hadvar has taken care of the last foe. I loot some more armor, I am hoping that if we get out of this I will find a rich merchant.
As we exit the room where the Stormcloaks were, we pass through a hallway. I find some foodstuff and put them in my pack. We don't know how long this will take, or where we will end up, after all.
We continue down the stairs into another hall with a door. As we approach, we hear the dragon roaring and the ceiling collapses cutting us off from that route.
We head to the door that is still unblocked.
The door leads to a pantry or kitchen, but there are two more Stormcloaks looting the provisions!!! They don't look like they want to reason either. Time to fight!
Hadvar rushes in, and keeps their attention while I manage to put in some swings from behind. Down to one now. Hadvar pulls a fancy execution move effectively ending the fight.
Hadvar tells me to look around and see if there are any handy potions laying around. I do a thorough job of rummaging through different cupboards, barrels, sacks and baskets. I find some alchemy ingredients, and a few potions. Time to move on.
Downstairs to a "torture room", Hadvar murmurs that he wishes there was no need for it. We hear sounds of fighting from below.
Hadvar rushes in where two Stormcloaks are fighting the torturer and his assistant. The first Stormcloak falls. The second is quick to follow. The torturer makes a quip about how they didn't seem to like how their comrades were being "entertained" in the dungeon.
Hadvar tells the others about the dragon attack, but they seem resistant to believe in "children's stories". Though the assistant quickly changes his mind and decides to come with us.
Hadvar notices a cage with something/someone inside. He thinks that we should search it for something useful, but the torturer tries to make light of any useful items that might be within.
I decide to try some lockpicks that I found in a nearby knapsack on the lock of the cage.
I am no deft hand at it, but I manage to get the lock open without breaking the fragile pick. Inside the cage seems to be a former mage.
I quickly scoop up gold, potion, spell tome, and loot his magical robes and hood. The spell tome cover tells me that it is from the destruction school. I have never been one for these dangerous magics, perhaps I can sell it off later.
I put on the wizard hat and robe.
We head through what looks like a cell block. It empties into a room with cages suspended from the ceiling. Several skeletons are laying around (in and out of the cages). I loot a few gold and collect some bone meal. Hadvar heads for a hole that looks like it was blasted through a back wall. There is a tunnel leading from it.
We enter the tunnel, which is lit by braziers. As we near a corner, we hear voices raised in argument. They seem to be at a loss for what they should do next.
As we round the corner we recognize the speakers are more Stormcloaks. They are not friendly.
I begin to conjure a familiar to aid us, as we seem to be outnumbered this time.
Hadvar takes the lead, crossing a bridge to the nearest Stormcloak. But as I look across the rushing stream flowing under the bridge, I see several archers. They could down me from a distance with those arrows! I need to be careful to either stay out of range, or dodge the missiles as best I can.
Two Stormcloaks are crossing the stream to a set of stairs at my feet.
My familiar takes shape as a ethereal wolf. It bites at the attackers, but it is outnumbered, and falls quickly. I dash across the bridge, leaving Hadvar between me and my pursuers.
We are slowly whittling down the adversaries, one at a time. Hadvar is taking quite a beating, but he seems to be quite battle hardened, and is holding up under the onslaught.
My magika is recovering from summoning my familiar slowly. Hopefully I will be able to recast it soon!
The torturer's assistant had been following at a distance until the battle broke out. He then struck several blows to our enemies before being speared by an arrow in the back, and finished with an arrow to the chest. He fell just as I managed to resummon my familiar.
My wolf chased after the Stormcloaks biting and tearing at them, while Hadvar used a combination of swordplay and ranged attacks with his hunting bow.
The last remaining Stormcloak swung his deadly two-handed war hammer at my familiar disbursing its energy. Hadvar swung his sword with skill and plunged it into the Stormcloaks chest so deeply he had to push the body off his blade with his booted foot.
I manage to scavenge some items from the dead bodies before following Hadvar up a short flight of stairs and find our way barred by what appears to be a wooden construct of some kind. After looking around, I see a lever to my right. Hadvar heaved on the lever, and the wooden construct falls across a large gap creating a bridge.
We cross the bridge, and we hear the dragon roar. The ceiling above the bridge collapses behind us! No going back.
We enter an underground cavern with a swift running stream moving steadily over many craggy rocks. I spy to my left a broken grating. Going through it, I see on an earthen shelf a skeleton. There is a potion and a sack of coins near it. After looting, I go back the way that I came to catch up with Hadvar, who is waiting patiently for me. He heads down the stream and comes to a dead end. We turn off at a dark passageway to our right. The path curves to the left and down to what appears to be the opening to a largish cavern. There is light spilling from the top of the cavern. Perhaps this is the way out!
There are gigantic webs in the cavern. And then I see them. GIANT SPIDERS! They are as big as large dogs! They make a chittering noise as their hairy legs skitter across the cave floor.
Hadvar goes into the cave with blade drawn. Two even larger spiders fall from the ceiling! I will summon my familiar to help even the odds.
These spiders appear to spit some sort of noxious poison, and Hadvar has been hit with it.
Two spiders are dead, while Hadvar circles to the right to get a better advantage over the reamaining spiders. My familiar dies from the deadly bites of the gigantic arachnids, but Hadvar manages to kill the last spider.
Hadvar is a bit flummoxed by the giant spiders, but is quick to rally and moves on to a cave exit to our left. I hope that we have seen the last of the spiders in this cave.
Hadvar looks cautiously in this new cave. To the left is a waterfall, in front of us is a rushing stream with a strip of land bridging the bubbling water. We cross and find a wooden cart that has several wine bottles and a coin purse. As I take the coin purse out of the cart, Hadvar looks ahead and stills. There is a cave bear in its lair. He tells me that we have two options. We can try to sneak past (which he would prefer), or if I feel lucky I can take the long bow and arrows that he hands me and he will back me up.
Still being rattled by the giant spiders, I think that it is best to try and sneak past. We manage to silently creep past the sleeping bear. The sweat runs freely as I sigh in relief. At least that is one disaster averted today. We carry on around a bend to the left scrambling over what appear to be human remains, I can only assume that they were less fortunate wanderers in this bears domain. We see the bright light of day spilling from the mouth of what Hadvar assures me is the exit. It seems that he too had his doubts if we would make it out alive.
Once in the fresh air and bright sunshine, we hear the flapping and bellowing of the dragon flying from behind us and then off to the North.
Hadvar doesn't want to stick around to see if the dragon comes back, and I can't blame him in the least. We head down a well worn path in the dirt, that slopes steadily down from the cave we have just exited. Hadvar tells me that the nearest town is Riverwood, and that he has a blacksmith uncle there that might be willing to help me. He also tells me that while grateful for my help he thinks that perhaps we should split up, however after the morning that I have had there is no way that I am letting Hadvar out of my sight. And if he is headed to Riverwood, so much the better. Even with his assurances of his uncle's helpfulness, it would be better if Hadvar himself is there to smooth the way.
I see a bounty of flowers along the path and pause quickly to stuff some into my pack for later alchemical use. Hadvar tells me that since I have been so useful and helpful to him that I should go to Solitude and join the Legion. I am not sure if this is what I want to do. I need to find out more about what is going on in Skyrim before I make any lasting decisions. He also tells me that he believes that General Tulluis is the only one that could stop the dragon that the Stormcloaks apparently have on their side.
We keep up a brisk pace down the slope until we come to bend in the road. Looking up at the distant mountain to the left of our current path, he points to what looks to be ancient ruins of some kind. He tells me that as a boy he was frightened that some kind of monster he calls a draugr would come down from the ruins and snatch him. He goes on to say that the ruins still make him nervous.
As we continue along the road, I see three large standing stones that are obviously worked by some other force than nature. They appear to be carved with intricate designs. One is a fighter type with ax drawn and shield on arm, one has flowing robes and staff that must make him a mage, and the other is crouching with dagger and coin purse clutched in his hands, obviously a thief. Hadvar tells me that these are three of the guardian stones (there are apparently 13 in all, in different parts of Skyrim). He told me to go and have a look for myself. As I approach the stones I reach out to touch the one with the picture of the mage. A strange energy seems to ignite in the stone, causing something that looks like a constellation to glow with a bright white-blue light. A ball of the light appears in the circular opening above the carving of the mage and a great beam of the light extends into the heavens.
Silently we move on . Until Hadvar mentions that even though I have well earned a pardon in his eyes, the Imperial Army might not be so forgiving. He said that General Tullius must confirm my pardon, but until then I should steer clear of anything that could bring me to the notice of the Legion.
To my right I see two sly wolves on an embankment. Hadvar does not seem to notice at first. I ready my familiar spell. The wolves pounce on Hadvar as I unleash my ethereal counterpoint. There are actually THREE wolves, sneaky bastards. I hope I don't contract some gods forsaken disease from a well placed bite. One wolf is injured, so I will try to finish it off, but it bites me and runs off. Hadvar slashes with his sword and takes down one of the beasts, while my familiar chases after the runner. He must have killed the other wolf in the confusion, because he is pulling out his bow to take down the last. He laughs as the familiar grips the last wolf in its deadly jaws. I take time to skin all three wolfs for their pelts.
As I look up Hadvar is running down the path, and has gotten a fair distance away from me. As I race after him, I notice that we are coming to what appears to be a small village. This must be Riverwood, where his uncle lives.
As I catch up to him he quietly tells me that things look peaceful enough in the village, and that he sees his uncle.
He continues on to a blacksmiths shop to our left as we enter the village. This appears to be a sturdy enough milling town. I can hear the waterwheel turning in the distance and see it behind the blacksmith's shop. Hadvar's uncle greets him with surprise, and asks what he is doing there. He is astonished by our haggard and bedraggled appearance. Hadvar tells him that he is fine, but we need to get out of the street, suggesting that we go inside. His uncle seems a little reluctant to accept the presence of a stranger at first, but Hadvar reassures him that I am a friend and that we should all hurry indoors. I hear someone in the street talking about seeing a dragon flying over the "barrow", but no one seems to be giving the older woman any serious credence.
Following the others to the porch steps that must lead to the uncle's house, I see a dead elf in the street. So much for "peaceful". I say a quick prayer to Mara for any family or loved ones that he has left behind, and another to Arkay to make sure his soul stays at rest.
I enter the house behind my two companions, and feel the warm cozy hearth fire begin to relax the tension that has been a constant strain in my muscles.
The unlce, Alvar, bids us to sit and eat, calling to his wife to come and bring something for the guests. He then asks to hear our story. Sigred bustles up from below stairs and hurries to offer us food. I sit at the table, but even though I have had nothing to eat all day, I do not feel hungry.
Hadvar takes up our tale, telling of the dragon attack and our escape from Helgen. Alvar is disbelieving, questioning Hadvar's sobriety. Sigred hushes her husband, wanting to hear more of the story. Hadvar continues, and ends up asking for any aid that Alvar can supply. Alvar is convinced of our earnestness and agrees to give anything that he can, but asks something in return. He turns to me and asks me to take this tale to the Jarl of Whiterun, so that he can send reinforcements to Riverwood in case the dragon decides to come back.
He then offers me a selection of things that I might make use of on my journey to Whiterun. I accept three health potions with thanks.
I ask Alvar how to get to Whiterun from Riverwood. Not being from this area, I am unfamiliar with the lay of the land. He tells me to follow the road out of Whiterun to the Northeast and continue on past the falls. Then once I enter the city proper I must head to the highest point in the city, which is called Dragonsreach, and that is where the Jarl makes his home.
I hear a young girl that must be Alvar's daughter asking Hadvar excitedly about the dragon and its teeth. Her mother tries to subdue her jubilant pestering, but Hadvar laughs.
I smother a grin myself and then take my leave, intent on finding a merchant to sell off my acquired loot, and hopefully buy some more supplies for my trip to Whiterun.
As I step out from the dim flickering light of the fire in the blacksmith's home, I notice that the sun is hanging low in the sky, night is coming fast. I need to hurry.
Directly across the road from Alvar's there is a building with a beam that extends over a walkway. A sign hangs from it gently moving in the wind. The sign proclaims the establishment to be the Riverwood Trader. This seems like a likely spot to buy and sell. I decide to enter the shop if it is still open.
Upon entering, I overhear what appears to be the proprietor and a female arguing. The proprietor sees me enter, and hastily quashes the argument by announcing a customer. I approach the counter, where the proprietor assures me that the Riverwood Trader is still open for business. I ask what happened, and he tells me that there were thieves that broke into the shop, but only took a golden dragons claw. So, being an intrepid adventurer, I offer my services in getting it back. He quickly accepts my offer and tells me that I should search in Bleak Falls Barrow, apparently the ancient ruin that Hadvar told me made him nervous on our way into town.
He then turns to the woman and tells her that she will no longer need to do anything rash and go search for it herself. She saucily replies that I will need a guide at the very least to the edge of town. I turn back to the proprietor to hastily conduct my business before I will head outside to take direction from the woman. I find that he has a few spell books for sale, and while I am perusing his meager selection he tells me that I should head to Winterhold where the Mages College is. If he only knew. With the gold that I received for selling off the various odds and ends in my pack, I have enough to buy two spell books. I choose Fury (to enrage my enemies into attacking anything near them) and Oakflesh (a protective magical barrier I can cast to protect myself) as the two most likely to be useful in my new dangerous lifestyle.
I pay for my purchases and step outside to find the woman waiting for me. Without even a glance she starts heading down the street to the Northeast out of town. She pauses only a moment to look towards the imposing ruin in the distance and sees the elf lying dead in the street. She seems to be quite disturbed by seeing him, and can't seem to take it in for a moment. Then she collects herself quickly, telling me that I must get to the ruin to find the missing claw. She mentions that she doesn't understand why the thieves would want to hide in such a place where traps and beasts seem to be in abundance.
She talks nervously as we head out of town. She mentions that the proprietor is her brother Lucan, and that he has opened the store only about a year ago. She doesn't seem to know where he acquired the claw, but he is quite insistent that he needs to get it back. Once we reach a bridge across the river, she stops and tells us this is the path we must follow to Bleak Falls Barrow. She mentions that Lucan will be upset if she doesn't hurry back to the store, and takes her leave.
It is getting quite dark now, and although I have several urgent pieces of business, I think that I will try to find lodging and start out fresh in the morning. I am tired and weary from the exertions of the day, and I should probably eat something to keep up my strength. I head back into town to see if there is an Inn.
As I head back to look, I nibble some of the produce that I found in the Keep in Helgen. It isn't much, but it seems to be enough for now.
Reentering the town, I come upon a post with a sign. It reads: The Sleeping Giant Inn. I don't know how well giants sleep, but hopefully they will have an available bed.
I enter the Inn, and head to the counter at the back. There is a bard singing about Ragnar the Red near a semicircle of chairs placed near the end of a long fire pit. It is quite warm in the Inn, and gently lit by fire and horn lamps.
A woman bounds out of a back room to berate the man behind the counter that the ale is going bad. I guess I know what I won't be drinking tonight, accommodations or no. The man seems unimpressed by her bluster, and turns to me. He mentions that there is food and beds to be had.
When I ask about a room, he directs me to the woman, Delphine, that was giving him a hard time about the ale.
I approach her as she is busily sweeping the floor. I inquire about a room for the night. She assures me that there is one for ten gold if I am interested. I accept, and she tells me that since she is the Innkeeper it is her business to keep track of strangers passing through town. I take that under advisement and head to my room. I lay down and exhaustion overtakes me almost immediately.