The next day, I decided to travel to Falkreath off the main roads, taking in the local scenery. I took my time, walking Arrow down the road, just smelling the open air. It was beautiful and made me feel happy.
Came across a nice little waterfall where I was able to drink and water Arrow as well. Soon, we were back on the way to Falkreath, and we reached it shortly.
It was a bit overcast when we arrived, though, so I rushed inside to the Jarl's house.
I kneeled in front of the Jarl politely. "I got your letter. I'm Markus."
The Jarl leaned forward eagerly. "Ah, it's you. Yes, well, now we'll see if the stories they tell about you are true. There's a group of bandits in my Hold that I...want gone, shall we say. They've been causing trouble for my people, and I've heard you've been a good protector of Riverwood--that is where you are living, correct?"
I nod. "Yes, my Jarl. I live at Leaf Rest with my wife, Ysolda."
The Jarl nodded. "Go, get rid of the bandits and I'll make it worth your while."
"It shall be done." I kneel once more and then exit the house, exhaling slowly. I'd been travelling since the morning, and it was going on about 3pm, so I was a bit tired. But, if I hurried, I might be able to make it to the location he marked on my map in no time.
I was right. I found it with no trouble, and I heard the warning shouts before I even dismounted from Arrow.
My swings were a little harder, due to my tiredness, but I pushed through, easily dispatching the first bandit.
One after another, the bandits fell, and entering the mine, I only found the chief. Even he was taken out quickly, and he even had a key on him.
A bit of experimenting, I found the key fit a nearby locked chest, so I was happy to relieve it of its contents, though, I left the shield.
With that easy quest complete, I headed back to Falkreath to speak with the Jarl.
"I've killed the leader of Bilegulch Mine, my Jarl."
He grinned at me, his eyes glancing up and down, and I shuddered slightly. "You know what, Markus, I like you." He paused, and I panicked slightly inside, but he continued. "You aren't afraid to get your hands dirty."
"As long as I'm helping out the locals, any bandits who attack are asking to die." I state.
"I hereby grant you permission to purchase property in Falkreath hold. Talk to my steward if you are interested." He said abruptly.
I nod and start to turn when he spoke again. "There is room in my court for a new Thane..." I could have sworn he almost licked his lips when he said that. "It's an honorary title, mainly, but there are a few...perks....that come with the job." His eyes once again swept over me. "You would have to become well known among my people, though. You help them, and I will appoint you as my new Thane."
I felt incredibly uncomfortable in his presence, but didn't want to offend him. "Thank you, my Jarl, it will be a great honor."
I went to find his steward to find out how much the land cost and take a look at it. I finally find her upstairs drinking.
"How much is it selling for?" I ask, taking out my coin purse.
"It is running about 5,000 gold. Very cheap for the land, though. It is a fine property. Well-watered, plentiful stands of timber, and an amazing view of the mountains."
I eagerly follow her directions to reach the land, and I look around with pride.
It needs work, but since I told Ysolda I would be gone for a week, perhaps I can get started on it right away.
Then, taking some stakes and rope, I measure out the exact space I need to get started on the foundation.
After about a day of work, I step back to admire what I've done so far. It is getting late though, so I set up my fur tent and a campfire so I can spend the night here and work on it more the next day.
Each day I added in something new, and after five days of solid work, my little house was in it's basic forms and livable.
It was starting to get about time to head back to Riverwood, so I left my tent and campfire there, prepared to come back once I had told Ysolda to join me here. I needed to get some supplies and start to pack up the house for the move. Getting a cart up here probably won't be very fun, but the basic things like plates, food and such can be moved, but I might build a new bed.
Walking into Riverwood, it was very quiet. No children were playing on the street and I didn't see the usual people walking around.
I continued going to my home, and I thought I kept seeing flashes of people looking out their window at me. What was going on? I stopped in front of my home, cautiously sliding off of Arrow, hitching him slightly to the stable posts.
Walking up to my front door, my breath caught in my throat. A bloody knife was stuck in the door, holding up a note. I ripped it off the door, scanning it frantically.
By order of Jarl Igmund of Markarth--
Any citizen of Skyrim found to be in possession of illegal substances are to be given no mercy. A zero-tolerance program has been started and enacted. Harboring of illegal substances such as skooma, sleeping tree sap or any other substances to even make them will be sentenced to death. Skyrim will not watch as its children fall to such heinous substances.
This house has been deemed a harbinger of illegal substances and as such, action has been taken.
--Order carried out by General Tullius, Imperial Commander of the Fourth Legion and Military Governor of Skyrim
My heart leaped into my throat, and it started to pound hard. I pushed the door slowly, and it creaked open, letting me see into the kitchen area.
Blood splattered the ground, and my vision grew red. I tore through the house, shouting as I went. "Ysolda! Ysolda, where are you? Answer me!"
I half ran, half tumbled down the stairs into the living area, and looked wildly around. Silence met my ears, and I went room to room. My mind went fifty miles a minute, all thinking of excuses as to why she wouldn't be answering. Maybe she was at market. Maybe she went to visit the Bannered Mare. Maybe she was called away on a small merchant's trip with others.
The bloody knife from the front door fell from my hands, and it clattered loudly to the stone floor. I fell to my knees, crawling slowly towards the floating body of my wife. I reached out, feeling her cold skin, and I knew.
Ysolda was dead. I dragged her gently out of the bath chamber and hugged her to me, my heart feeling as though it was being stabbed over and over with the same knife I had found. Wounds covered her, and I could tell she had tried to run, but whoever had done this merely chased after her, overpowered her, and then killed her in cold blood.
I placed her on our bed, sitting at the end of it silently for a long while. I felt numb. Only hours before I had been happy--planning a life with her. Planning to adopt. My work on the house was supposed to be exciting news for her to hear.
I looked at the crumpled note in my hand, my tears blurring my vision as I tried to read it again. My teeth gritted and I crunched it up farther, stuffing it into my pack.
General Tullius. Jarl Igmund of Markarth. Those Imperial bastards had come down, killed my wife for what? Illegal substances? She hadn't dealt in any illegal substances. She was Ysolda, a simple merchant woman who had dreams of owning her own shop. Dreams of traveling with me. Dreams of having a young son or daughter to call our own.
The Imperials would pay. Oh, they would pay.
I ran out of the house, not caring to lock up or grab anything. I had but one thing on my mind.
Get to Markarth and kill every last Imperial bastard I could find.
Part 17 ----- Part 19