*This is somewhat of a long post, but I couldn't really split it up. Enjoy!*
I spent a pretty good night at Windhelm and got up, eager to get back to Whiterun. I was planning to get back and rest up before heading over to Darkwater Crossing, as it isn't too far away from Whiterun. Just have to follow the river southeast a bit.
I know, man. Absolute pity.
Ready to go, Unnamed Horse? Seriously, I'll think of a good name eventually. Can't keep calling him "Horse".
I decide to take the western road out of Windhelm and run across Anga's Mill. I ask the owner if there are any jobs she might have, and she says she needs a worker for the mill. I file that away if I ever need a place to work, I can come here, then.
A little ways off from the mill I find a small camp. Looks to be a hunter's camp, but I guess he's out at the moment.
I decide to take advantage of the opportunity to warm up a bit.
While I'm warming up, a courier runs up to me coming from the western direction on the road. I stand up and thank him, asking him who the message was from.
Odd, I wonder who it was. I certainly don't have any real friends in Skyrim, just acquaintances, and maybe a couple people I've helped out so far.
I can feel the blood rushing from my face as I read the note. The tell-tale sign of the Dark Brotherhood splashes across the face, the black handprint staring out at me like a curse.
I take a swig of ale to calm my nerves and I stuff the note in my pocket hurriedly. They must know that I tried to get Aventus to reject the Dark Brotherhood. They must know about Grelod's death, and how bad it made them look unable to kill her themselves.
I quickly pack up my things on Horse and ride off down the road at a faster place, wanting to get to Whiterun as fast as I could. Being out in the wild when the threat of the Dark Brotherhood hangs over you? Not a good place to be.
I curse at my wanting to help people, and take this as a sign to stay out of things I have no business being in. Just simple things from now on. Deliveries, I can do. Looking for gems and minerals, I can do.
Being attacked by Dark Brotherhood assassins because I wanted to help a little boy get away from the evils of it? Never again.
Looks like a fight going on up ahead....I think I'll just slow down a bit and wait for them to be done.
A Stormcloak and Imperial patrol met. I guess they had an argument about something.
And the Stormcloaks won. They didn't really have anything on them, but I did swipe an apple from one guy to eat, as my stomach was rumbling a bit from the rushed morning.
Oh look. Another mammoth tusk I can't actually have. I sigh and nudge Horse along.
At last, the open plains around Whiterun can be seen!
My storm senses kick in, and as I pass by a herd of wild horses, it starts to rain.
I guess someone got stuck on the road. I should probably help him out, and hopefully I can still make it to Whiterun before I get completely drenched.
As I get closer, I can hear the man muttering to himself as he looks at his broken wheel on the wagon.
I immediately regret getting off my horse. Now I can't just walk away, it'll be rude.
I motion to the carriage. "Problem, eh?"
His high pitched whining voice grates my ears when he talks. "Poor Cicero is stuck. Can't you see? I was transporting my dear, sweet mother. Well, not her. Her corpse! She's quite dead."
Oh, is that what that big box is? Is that legal? Can you just move corpses around here? In my land, we had things called customs, you can't just take bodies over borders, you see. You're in Whiterun, now, buddy. And crossing over from The Pale region with a dead body isn't going to go over too well I think with the Jarl. Not that I've met him.
Cicero continues whining as I think. "I'm taking mother to a new home. A new crypt. But....agh! Wagon wheel! Damnedest wagon wheel! It broke! Don't you see?"
I nod, folding my arms in front of me. "Is there some way I can help you get back on the road? I don't have any tools, but maybe we can rig something."
Cicero's face lit up, and a crazed smile came over him. "Oh! Oh, yes! Kindly stranger will help me!" He turns and points to a farm a little ways off the main road. "That is the Loreius Farm. Just over there, off the road. Talk to Loreius. He has tools! He can help me! But he won't! He refuses!"
I frown. "Well, I very well can't force a man to help another. Did he say why he refuses?"
Cicero shook his head violently. "No one trusts poor Cicero! Poor mother is dead and in need of a new crypt! Cicero only wants to help sweet mother!" He rifled through his pockets and held out a bag of coin. "Cicero can give you shiny, gleamy coins if you help!"
I contemplate shoving the coins in his throat so he'll shut up. But, I suppose since I've come this far, might as well talk to this Loreius.
I ride up the path leading off the main road towards the farm and find the owner easy enough.
It's almost like he knows why I'm here already. Not that I'm surprised. I think the Jarl of Whiterun could hear Cicero's squalling. I can hear it all the way up here, just whining and crying over his mother.
I point down the road. "That...um....little man really needs your help with his wagon."
He leaned back in his chair and scoffed. "That Cicero fellow? Hmph. Tell me something I don't know. Crazy fool's already asked me about five times. Seem's he's not satisfied with my answer of no."
"I'm sure he'll pay you for the supplies." I mention to him.
Loreius grew angry. "Pay me! You think this is about money? Have you actually talked to the man? He's completely out of his head! He's insane! He should be locked up, not travelling the roads!" He calmed down a bit and shook his head. "And he's transporting a giant box. Say's it's a coffin and he's going to bury his mother. Mother my eye."
"Do you not believe him? I mean, it's hard to tell, but it looks coffin-sized."
Loreius shrugged. "He could have anything in there. War contraband. Weapons. Skooma1. No way I'm getting involved in any of that."
I rest against the nearby fence, annoyed at the rain. I am totally going to be drenched by the time this is all settled. "You know, you should help him. Not only because we're all out here trying to scrape a living off of the harsh land, but that'll actually get him off the road in front of your farm. I mean, wouldn't you rather him be gone than hanging about bothering you and your family?"
Loreius paused a moment. "You know...I never thought of it that way." He slowly nodded at my persuasion. "You're right, you're right. Feller might be complete nutters, might not. But fact is, he needs to get away from my farm. Go ahead and let him know that I'll be down in a bit once this rain clears up to help him out."
I give him a smile and then head back down to my horse.
Ugh. Going to take forever to dry off, and I'm starting to get really cold.
Cicero hands me 250 gold, and I take it without question. I'm going to need to buy some supplies for the road in Whiterun, and this will help.
As I walk by the wagon with the box to get to my horse, I feel a chill run down my spine. I swear I can almost hear a faint voice calling my name, and I whirl around to stare at the wagon. A deep fear goes over me and I try and shake it off.
I really hope I didn't make a mistake helping this guy.
I push the horse into a faster gallop to reach Whiterun, as the rain is falling harder than ever.
After about five minutes, I'm in the city and stopped off at the Drunken Huntsman to warm up, dry off, and see what they have for sale. So nice to warm my fingers by the fire.
The owner, Elrindir, has some pretty good bows for sale, but they're all a bit expensive for the amount of income I make at the moment. They don't have any rooms for rent, so I go up the street to the Bannered Mare.
I rest a bit, speaking with Uthgerd the Unbroken. We make small talk, but eventually, the mead gets to both of us, and she opens up a bit about her past.
She attempted to join the Companions, a local guild in Whiterun, but they set her up against a mere boy for her test to join. They didn't think she could take him because she was a woman, and she accidentally killed him. Because of this, she wasn't accepted into their ranks, and holds a deep grudge.
I buy her a couple more drinks then stagger up to bed. Falling in, I happily wrap the blankets around me and fall asleep to the bard playing his flute.
I wake up with a splitting headache and my entire body sore. I try and open my eyes, only to be met with darkness, and I try and lift my hands to take off the hood over my face. My hands are tied up!
I roll off the bed that I'm on and fall hard to the floor, the wind being knocked out of me. I lay there a moment and groan at the pain. Suddenly, a voice breaks the silence.
It is a woman's voice. I try and sit up, and I feel a hand grasp the front of my shirt to wrench me into a sitting position. My hood is ripped off and I blink against the sudden light, everything still a bit fuzzy.
I cough at the dryness in my throat as I struggle to take in more air. "What...who...where am I? Who are you, what's going on!" I try and sound demanding, though, I know I just sound feeble.
The woman gave a small chuckle. "Does it matter? You're warm, dry...and still very much alive. That's more than can be said for old Grelod, hmm?"
I stammer for a response. "I didn't kill Grelod! I swear, she just fell over and died! How do you even know about that?"
The woman's eyes glared at me. "Half of Skyrim knows about that. Old hag dies in her own orphanage? Things like that tend to get around."
"I swear, I didn't do it. Please let me go." I plead, trying to loosen my bonds.
"Don't misunderstand. I'm not criticizing. It was a good kill. Looked very much like an accident. Divine intervention almost. Old crone had it coming, though. And you did save a bunch of urchins." Her voice was almost complementary. "But, you see, there is a slight...problem."
I don't think I like where this is going.
"You see, that little Aretino boy was looking for the Dark Brotherhood. For me, the leader, and my followers. Grelod was by all rights, a Dark Brotherhood contract. A kill...that you stole."
"But, I didn't--"
"Shut up, fool!" She reached out, taking hold of my neck. "I don't care if you did it, if your god did it, if Grelod herself did it! The point is, she's dead! Our kill was stolen! And now you must repay it!"
She released me and I flinched away, coughing at the rough hold. "Repay? What, do you want me to die instead?"
A short laugh escaped her. "Funny you should ask. If you turn around, you'll notice my guests. I've collected them from....well, that's not really important. The here and now. That's what matters."
I try and turn, but I can't move my head around enough to see anything. But, now that I'm listening, I can hear muffled movements and sobs coming from behind me.
The woman continues speaking. "You see, there's a contract on one of them, and that person can't leave the room alive. But...which one? Go on, see if you can figure it out." She reached out, holding a knife and I closed my eyes, waiting for the pain. But she merely reached around me, cutting my bonds. The tip of the knife ran across my jawline and I looked at her, wide-eyed.
"Make your choice. Make your kill. I just want to observe...and admire."
As the knife point left my jaw, I took a deep breath and brought my arms around to the front of my body, rubbing my wrists. "I'll have no part in this insanity."
"Now, that is a shame." She thrust the knife forward quickly, and I managed to duck in time, though the blade caught a bit of my side.
I took in a sharp breath, glancing around quickly for any weapons. I see my things bundled in the corner, and I run for it, the startled cries of the three other captives on the other side of the small cabin ringing out.
"Let us go!"
I wrap my fingers around the axe in the pile and bring it around in front of me just in time to block a knife the woman threw at me. "Working on it!" I yell towards the captives.
My head still hurting from everything, my vision goes a bit blurry as she gets in a couple hits with a sword she drew out. I flail wildly with my axe, looking for any opening she gives me.
With a strong final blow, I knock her to the ground, blood spurting everywhere. I drop to my knees, shuddering with the strain that my body is going through. I feel like I have to throw up, but I hold it in.
As I look down at the woman's body, a strong rage comes over me, and a single thought grows in my mind. The Dark Brotherhood must be destroyed. I'll never get any peace if I'm kidnapped over and over, and Stendarr forbid that another boy is corrupted by their ways.
This thought grows and grows until I feel like I must do this. I must go and find them. Eradicate them from existence.
I free the captives, not questioning why they're here. I just tell them to get out of here as fast as they can and try and not stir up anymore trouble. I rifle through the woman's things, noticing that her name on her ID is Astrid. I take the blade she was holding, as well as her clothes as proof of her death. I also retrieve my things in the corner and pull out my map.
Using the key she held to get out of the shack I look around at the landscape.
I have no idea where I'm at. I glance at my map to see if there are any markings or any proof of a swamp on it, as where I'm at has a very swamp look about it.
I am so very much in the boonies. Morthal seems to be the closest route, so I wrap my cloak around me and set off, taking out my bow for protection. It's night, and who knows what sort of manner of creature might be around?
Oh, sure, I'll just go right up to these stones and see what's up. No way. I take a wide berth around them, heading south towards Morthal.
After a couple close encounters with wolves, Morthal finally comes into sight.
The very first guard I see, I let him know that I had killed the leader of the Dark Brotherhood. He stares at me, agap for a moment.
"You did what?"
I reiterate. "I killed Astrid, the leader of the Dark Brotherhood." I hold up Astrid's sword for proof.
"By the gods, you're serious! You'd better report this to Commander Maro right away. He's at the Penitus Oculatus outpost, northewest in Dragon Bridge town."
I nod and he continues on his route. A out of breath courier comes up to me, and I instantly shrink back, scared of what he's bringing me.
Oh, whew. Just an advertisement for orphans. Good. I feel sorry for them, but with Constance in charge, I'm sure that she'll be much better that Grelod. At least she's allowing them to be adopted out. Maybe one day I can adopt...
I find the local inn and rent a room, tired, sore, angry and hungry. It's been a bad day, and I flop into bed, annoyed at the lack of doors on my room. Oh well, if someone wants to watch me sleep, that's fine with me. Just don't drug me and take me to an abandoned shack in the middle of nowhere.
Good night, Skyrim. Tomorrow, who knows what?
Part 7 ----- Part 9
1 Skooma is a highly addictive drug found in Skyrim.↩