I awake in my room and am anxious to be up and about. I have a breakfast of stew and wine. I head to Hulda and sell her the firewood that I found. She gives me 15 gold, honest gold for honest work. I have the leather from the elk that I killed before I got caught by the bandits. I know how to make cloaks, but I need to tan the leather. I know that the blacksmith, Adrianne, has a tanning rack at her shop. Perhaps if I offer to help her around the forge, she will let me use it.
When I ask her if I can help out, she eagerly accepts. She hands me the materials to make an iron dagger. I am no smith, but I want to use that tanning rack. I craft the dagger with little problem. Adrianne comments on my efforts. She pronounces it "Not bad", and tells me that it reminds her of when she started smithing. This is encouraging. I hand her the dagger, and she asks me to sharpen it at the grind stone. With that task complete, we move on to armor. She hands me some leather to use on the rack. I proceed to tan my own while I am at it. After the leather is finished, she hands me the rest of the materials for a hide helmet. She is very pleased with my result. She tells me to go to the workbench and improve the fit.
Adrianne tells me that I have talent at smithing, and allows me to keep both the helmet and the dagger. I head back to the tanning rack to make a few capes before I sell a few things to her. I might turn my hand at some jewelry if I find the proper materials. Jewelry is good for enchanting.
I head back to the apothecary to use some of the ingredients I collected last night. I go straight to the bench and start mixing. Once I am finished, I barter with the shopkeeper. I now have 1,138 gold, and I haven't even sold everything yet!
**Level 3 Achieved – Increased Magika – Perk: Novice Conjuration.**
Next door to the apothecary is Balathor's. He is a bombastic Breton fellow, with promises of EVERYTHING being for sale. He makes a crude joke about selling his sister if he had one. I manage to sell off several expensive items, and I now have 1,377 gold. Time to find a couple of spell books, and a bodyguard.
I figure that Farengar, being the court mage, should have a few spell tomes. So I make the trek back up to Dragonsreach. He has a vast number of spell tomes that he will be willing to part with for a price. I am able to purchase four. Calm (soothes the mind of the aggressive), Clairvoyance ( reveals a glimpse into the future, directing our path towards our destination), Courage (boost the morale of others), and Healing Hands (channels healing energy into others). As I depart he reminds me that the Jarl is not a patient man, and neither is he.
I have 545 gold left.
I continue to explore the town looking for a likely bodyguard, and find another shop called the Drunken Huntsmen. It is across the street from the blacksmith's shop. Behind the counter is a Bosmer. I'm not quite sure what kind of establishment this is at first, but I notice several bows laid out on display. There are several tables and a firepit as well, leading me to believe that this is a gathering spot of some kind. There are a couple of people sitting at the tables, one that is heavily armed. I look closer at this Dunmer woman, and am a bit apprehensive at her scowl as she glares at the other people in the shop. I hesitantly step closer to her recessed alcove. I am in need of some serious muscle, and she seems well equipped. Her gaze is more disquieting the closer I get. She looks directly at me now, and says quietly, "Blade and shadow, silence and death – these are my arts. For a modest fee, I'll make great art for you." I am a bit taken aback, but she goes on to say that she is fearless and remorseless and she charges 500 septims for her service. I only have a bit more than that now. But I will be delving into some very dangerous territory for the Jarl (not to mention the others I have promised to help if I can), and I will definitely need someone like her. I hire her. She, Jenassa, agrees to follow me.
Off to Bleak Falls Barrow!
I practice my spells on the way out of town, stopping only to gather a few ingredients. It is storming, and chill with gray skies, until we get close to Riverwood. The weather clears, and my spirits improve. I use Clairvoyance to guide our path. I recognize the area, and feel confident that we are going the right way, when I see a wolf head slinking behind a rock. I cast courage on Jenassa, and summon my familiar. The familiar bounds ahead, with Jenassa close behind. They make short work of the lone wolf. With its skin in my pack, we move on.
We are coming closer to a crumbling tower. We should be on our guard from here on out. There is a person leaning against a tree up ahead. As we draw nearer, another person comes out of the tower, and both now have weapons at the ready. They warn us off, but this does not deter Jenassa. One of our foes slams a warhammer at my head, and I don't dodge in time. I am woozy and reeling for a moment, and in the time it takes me to recover enough to cast a heal on myself, Jenassa has killed the first bandit. She is now taking aim with her bow at the other that fled back into the tower. I toss a healing spell on Jeassa for good measure. She is using a large boulder for cover, and sliding out to take aim. I run ahead loosing my familiar, then hide behind a tree.
Between Jenassa and my wolf the second bandit dies. We enter the tower. I look around and find a coin purse on a table next to some stairs leading up. We head up the stairs and are surprised by a third bandit, but not for long. We continue up the tower. Another set of stairs that ends in a dead end, but there is a chest. I take gold and a few potions out, but leave a steel ax. We retrace our steps to the bottom of the tower.
Using Clairvoyance as a guide, we head Southwest from the tower. I can now see the Barrow. A feeling of dread swamps me for a moment. I pause briefly, but press on. A large flight of stairs opens on a snowy raised courtyard. There are more bandits here, but they are no match for Jenassa.
There are giant doors at the pinnacle of the courtyard stairs.
We enter the ruined barrow. It is musty and dank, dark with splashes of light filtering in from openings high in the walls. There are some corpses near the entrance. It looks like this Barrow might have been infested with skeevers (giant rats) before the bandits showed up to take residence. Looking ahead I see there are more bandits ahead. I cannot tell how many.
Sneaking back towards the doors, I fling my fury spell in the midst of the bandits at the far end of the chamber. I managed to hit one, but as they raise their weapon at their comrade, the other comes sprinting around a pillar. This blocks the furied bandit's line of sight. The sprinting bandit runs head long into Jenassa's blades. Jenassa quickly switches to her ranged weapon, and exchanges volleys with the remaining female bandit. I heal Jenassa, as she scores the final hit, right between the bandit's eyes.
Moving to the back of the chamber, it is apparent that the bandits have set up camp here. There is a roasting spit, bedrolls, and a locked chest. I pick the lock carefully, and open it to find gold, a set of boots, and a greatsword. I take the gold and leave the rest.
They have been splitting wood for their fire, and I appropriate the woodcutter's ax. You never know, I might need to make some coin with it later. It is heavy, but I would rather have one and not need it, than need one and not have it.
**Level 4 Achieved – Increased Magika – Perk: Novice Restoration.**
Beyond the bandit camp, there is an ominous tunnel swathed with dusty spider webs. There are several webs that span the entire portal, and I must walk through them. It is sticky and disgusting, making me shiver with distaste.
At the end of the passage, there are large stone tables with urns. At least one of them has some gold in it, so I pocket it. The passage takes a sharp left, and then a right. There are braziers lit, along our path, but we must step carefully because of enormous roots that have grown over the walls and floor. It would be easy to lose our footing. There is a dead skeever near one of the braziers, I find that it must have swallowed someone's coin purse. I take the gold anyway, and also the tail (alchemy is often a messy and disgusting skill to acquire).
The winding tunnel meanders deeper into the Barrow, every so often there will be shelves holding linen bandages, pots, metal tools of some sort, and the occasional useful item. I pocket a potion on my way by one of these shelves.
Rounding a corner, I see the tunnel take a steep dip, which allows me to see a man in a chamber ahead. I am going to err on the side of caution and assume he is a bandit as well.
I send my familiar ahead. The bandit turned to engage the wolf, and Jenassa flanked him. This bandit, is a rougher fight that the others, taking many swings of Jenassa's deadly blade to defeat.
I pick up his nicely crafted steel sword and hand it to Jenassa. I have a feeling that we will need every advantage we can get.
The chamber is unlike any that we have seen before. In front of us is a portcullis barring our way. There is a lever near the portal, making me think that it is the way to open it. However, there are strange metal plates around the room. Up above the gate, there is a snake and a whale each on its own plate one on the right and one on the left. There is another snake plate on a pile of rubble near the gate.
To our left are three pillars of metal that have animal shapes as well. The first and last are hawks, and the middle one is a whale. I have a bad feeling about this.
I go to investigate the pillars. They are on turning plates that have a carved triangle in the front pointing to the picture of the animal. I attempt to move the first pillar. The pillar swivels easily around and now there is a picture of a snake pointing out at me. I am beginning to get the idea. The metal plates around the gate must be some sort of password or key.
I take a better look at the wall with the gate. The distance between the snake on the left and the whale on the right seems to be distorted and broken. I look down at the pile of rubble with the snake plate on it. If I am right, then the sequence should be snake, snake, whale.
I apprehensively step towards the lever. The gate opens! I was right!
There is a staircase leading up above the gate to a shelf, I go and inspect it before we leave the room. There is a lone healing potion on one shelf.
We look through the gate and see a table, a chest, and some urns. Farengar said that this used to be a tomb. Perhaps they have elaborate rites for the dead and this is some of the flotsam that is left behind after all these years. He mentioned that it dated back to the Dragon War, that was centuries ago. There is a book on the table, it is another tome about pickpocketing. I take it to sell later. The urns are empty, but the chest has some gold in it. There is a standard near the chest that has a soul gem in the top.
Directly left when facing the alcove with the table there is a spiral stair heading down.
Not knowing what could be laying down those stairs, I ready my spells. A skeever scrambles up the curving case. It manages to bite me before I summon my wolf. There are a few other skeevers, but I avoid them while they are dispatched by my companions.
We exit the stair. More spider webs. This room looks long disused. On a stone table in the center there is a green bottle, and a magical scroll of fireball. I sniff gingerly at the bottle, I am thinking poison.
Jenassa comments that few would dare to come into these chambers, and while she thinks I must be a bit daft, I obviously make up for it with bravery.
As we begin to descend further into the ruins, I hear a voice calling for help. The voice is male, hearing our footsteps he pleads for us to aid him. He also seems to be under the impression that we are others that are known to him.
The amount of webs has increased to point where I dread to touch anything. The path turns to the left, but ahead I see a skeleton laying on some rubble near a mass of webs. I slash at the webs with my dagger, I think I see something underneath. Yes! It is a chest. Gold, iron arrows, and a soul gem.
I turn back to the path, wiping as much of the web off of me as I can. The doorway seems to be entirely blocked with web. Yuck. I will have to hack my way through.
I peer through the dangling strands into a room literally COVERED in webs. There are huge leathery sacs littering the floor. As I make my way through the door, I turn to look at the rest of the room, when from the ceiling drops the biggest spider I have ever seen in my life! It is as big as a carriage!!
I run back through the door, but Jenassa seems not to fear the thing. She goes toe to hairy disgusting leg...toe...thing... with the spider. I can barely watch without vomiting, the bulbus eyes, the dripping fangs as big as my head gnashing together. But I must keep her alive! I must clear my head so that I can keep her healed!
She finishes off the horrid beast. My fear makes my legs weak and I stumble over some bones laying on the floor. I skirt a large trapped door in the floor, and may my way to another doorway (or I assume it is) that has the most massive amounts of web covering it. That is where the voice seems to be coming from. Yes! There is someone trapped in the web! I can't even imagine what that must be like. How long has he been here?
He begs for us to cut him down. I don't want to get anywhere near the web, but I can't just leave him stuck there. Besides, we have a job to do, and must find a way past all this...
He mentions something that makes me think that he knows where the golden claw Lucan ( the merchant from Riverwood) wanted me to find is hidden. I ask him about it, and he tells me that he indeed knows all about it and will be more than willing to show me and tell me all about it if I will just hurry and cut him down.
I make as much haste as I can with the tough sticky web and finally free him.
He drops to the floor and sneers up at me with an evil gleam in his eyes. He snarls, "You fool! Why should I share the treasure with anyone?" He is dashing away from us through the now cleared doorway.
I quickly dip my dagger in a paralysis poison that I made back in town. I lash out with my blade and catch him in the back. It takes effect immediately and he drops to the floor as stiff as a board. It doesn't last long, and he is back up and drawing his sword, lunging at me. Jenassa moves up behind him and shoves her own sword in and up through his back and out the top of his head.
I search him, he carries a journal and the golden claw! The journal states that the golden claw is some sort of "key" to Bleak Falls Barrow. It will unlock some door in something called the Hall of Stories, but there is a built in test. The important phrase appears to be "When you have the golden claw, the solution is in the palm of your hand". I inspect the claw, and there are engravings on the underside of it. Three circles that have pictures of beasts inside. Holding it so the pictures are right-side up, the top would be a bear, the middle a moth, and the bottom is an owl.
The room that we have ended up in has multiple urns, but most are empty. I make a thorough search and head out through a door on the opposite side of the room.
It looks like we have stepped into the tomb proper now. There are massive shelves cut into the walls that hold the remains of the dead.
One of the dead is raising from a low shelf! He is carrying weapons! They seem to be all around us now. One hits me in the back as I am concentrating on healing Jenassa. I move toward the shelter of an empty corner.
One with a enormous ax comes up behind Jenassa and drives it into her back. I heal her thought it, and the dead drop back to the floor with ghastly gurgles and sighs.
We make haste to exit this room in case there are more lively dead. The way out has a badly laid trap. A pressure pad that swings a wooden grating closed upon the unwary driving large metal spikes painfully into their flesh.
We manage to sidestep the trap without incident.
More shelves. More dead. Another corpse rises, and it has spells along with weapons. More are coming up the stairs from a lower level.
I stand well back, so as not to pull them away from Jenassa, causing her to have to split her attention.
The dead denizens of this ancient tomb seem to dislike our trespassing. And they are everywhere. I think back to the day that I escaped Helgen and Hadvar was telling me about this ruin as we passed it on our way to Riverwood. What did he call those monsters that he was afraid of as a boy? Drugen? Dragher? Draugr! That was it.
We have a respite between fights, and rest near another trap. This one has swinging pendulums tipped with razor sharp blades attached to the top of a passageway. Fun.
I tell Jenassa to wait on this side for me to try and find a safe way through. I manage to dodge the blade by timing the swings and dashing through bit by bit, waiting to time the next pendulum swing. On the other side of the trap, I find a chain and pull it. It deactivates the trap, and I tell Jenassa to come on through.
The dead are stepping down from alcoves in the walls now that we have passed the huge vaults with the burial shleves. We will have to keep our eyes open every minute. The path is twisting and turning quickly here. It will be easy to get turned around and jumped from behind.
I see yet another trap. Hanging from the ceiling are jars that have a glowing substance in them, below these dangling pots are pools of oil. Very flammable oil. More of the monsters.
We get out of the labyrinth of alcoved tunnels and see another big open chamber lit by braziers. This one has a waterfall, and a bridge over the resulting stream. There are standing metal boxes in this room across the bridge. The are taller than even an Altmer. We step in, and the front "lids" of one of these boxes falls away and out steps another draugr. After he is dealt with, I scope out the chamber while I am looting a near-by chest. The stream is running through a gated tunnel. There is a chain next to the gate, this must be our way forward.
I pull the chain, and move along the slippery rocks. At the end of the short tunnel, there is a small aperture covered in roots. I try to press as close as I can to see what we might be up against next. The stream continues into the next section of cave, and it seems quiet. I see no movement except for that of the stream itself. To reach this cavern, we turn right into a side tunnel.
Once in the larger cavern, I look around carefully. We do not want to be surprised again. I venture nearer to the rushing stream. There is an oddly shaped skull that takes me a moment to place. It's from a troll! By the eight, I hope there aren't any more of those here!
We continue. Ahead of us there is some glowing fungus on a jutting boulder. It shines its eerie light on an ancient looking skeleton. I hang back to see if it will pop up and attack us like the mummified monsters in the rest of the tomb. I lies completely still. I move closer. There are a few mining picks near the skeleton, and the skeleton itself is next to a node of rock that is threaded with ore. I think it is iron.
I carefully extract some samples of the glowing mushrooms, and divest the skeleton of a few gold.
The stream falls over a steep looking drop, I get as close as I dare without being swept away by the current. Filth and curses! There is a drauger down below and it caught sight of me!
I cast my spells in preparation of the attack. My familiar gallops off to the right of the stream, and around a bend. Jenassa pauses, I would not say that she is fearful at all, but this has been a long and trying journey. I do not blame her in the least for her hesitation.
My wolf has not come back, and I do not hear any fighting. I decide to wait a few minutes before we follow. There is a chest here, and more glowing mushrooms. I stuff several things in my pack, and start creeping toward the bend in the tunnel.
Drat! It is not dead. But we are now close enough to my newly cast familiar to pick it off easily.
We are on an earthen bridge, with another earthen ramp of sorts leading down. I head down the ramp, and it curves back toward the foot of the falls. Across the fiercely splashing pool is a chest. I wade over to it, and find that it is locked. It looks like I might become very adept at this sort of thing.
We go back up the ramp, and continue on. I am so anxious and tense the sound of my wolf de-summoning just about makes me jump out of my boots!
The natural looking cavern gives way to more of the crafted ruins. There are three archways, the middle one covered with the thick roots and vines present in the tombs. Squinting through these I see another drauger. He is weilding a very large battleaxe. It takes out my familiar with two mighty swings. Jenassa steps up and finishes the monster with a string of powerful blows.
There is a locked chest in this room, as well as thick looking double doors.
**Level 5 Achieved – Increased Magika – Perk: Novice Alteration.**
I hear a clanging swish ahead, we come upon another pendulum trap. I caution Jenassa to wait while I look for the release switch. I squeeze through patiently and find the chain I expected on the other side. I motion for Jenassa to follow.
I turn from the disabled trap to confront drauger rising from metal sarcophagi. I step into an antechamber to avoid another drauger that is on an upper level wielding a bow. My familiar dashes up the stairs to the second level to engage the archer. Jenassa's steady hand releases an arrow through a slim gap in the architecture and impales the drauger in the back of the head.
Upstairs a drauger steps out of the shadows. He doesn't stand a chance.
The second level crosses the first with a slender bridge. Another pair of thick doors.