100 Hours in Skyrim: Part 2
18th Nov 2011 | 16:44
They're on to me. I've posed as a Dark Brotherhood assassin, and now they want me dead. Or do they? All the note says is 'we know'. I bury it in the back of my mind and shift my focus to the main quest.
Read Part One - Hours 0 - 10 of 100 Hours in Skyrim
The hunt for the Elder Scroll
Paarthurnax, leader of the Greybeards, has asked me to explore a Dwemer ruin and retrieve an Elder Scroll. To get it, I have to travel to Alftand and fight my way through armies of mechanical guardians and Falmer - my two most hated enemy types in the entire game. Urgh.
The Falmer are annoying because their poison saps your health at an alarming rate. The guardians are annoying because they have stupidly strong armour.
After a joyless slog through the ruins of Alftand, I come across a door leading to a new area called Blackreach. "More ruins. Bollocks." I think to myself, leafing through my inventory and glumly realising I've used up all my precious health potions. My healing magic at this point is laughably weak, so without potions I'm done for.
Into the depths
But when I go through the door, I'm stunned. A vast underground cavern greets me, glowing with an eerie blue light and full of what look like enormous floating jellyfish. It's a wonderfully bizarre, alien landscape, reminiscent of some of Morrowind's weirder locations. It's /massive/ too. There's a winding river, raging waterfalls, and the crumbling ruins of an ancient Dwemer city.
According to Elder Scrolls lore, the Dwemer, or dwarves, weren't 'dwarves' at all - at least not in the traditional fantasy sense. They were a race of elves who mysteriously disappeared thousands of years ago after dabbling with dangerous magic.
Their technology was incredibly advanced, but when they vanished, all of their knowledge was lost. It's one of the most intriguing parts of the Elder Scrolls' insanely deep mythology.
I emerge from Blackreach with an Elder Scroll and a set of totally awesome Dwarven armour that makes me look like some kind of steampunk gladiator. I'm also carting around loads of random junk I gathered on the way, so I fast travel to Whiterun to get rid of it all.
Embracing the darkness
After dumping everything on Belethor (I hate that guy) and making some coin, I realise that I now have around 6000 gold in my ye olde wallet - enough to buy a house. I talk to the Jarl's steward in Dragonsreach and he sells me a home near the city gates. It's an absolute dump inside, and I discover that you have to spend more money on upgrades to make it look nice. I can't afford it, so I decided to kip on the depressing old wooden bed in the loft.
I wake up, but the room is different. My vision is blurred, and I hear a sultry voice: "Sleep well?" Everything slides into focus and I see a hooded woman studying me. I'm in some kind of dingy old wooden shack, and a hooded woman is sitting in the rafters, studying me.
Her name is Astrid, and she's the leader of the Skyrim chapter of the notorious contract killers. She knows I posed as one of their assassins and 'stole' their contract, and now I owe them a murder. Three people are in the room with us, tied up with black hoods pulled over their heads.
I talk to each of the potential victims. They're all fairly despicable, but one, a Khajiit, stands out. Even in the face of imminent execution, he's a complete asshole. I stand back, prime my Chain Lightning spell and...
Crap. The lightning bolt fries the Khajiit, but it doesn't stop. The electricity dances around the room, frying the other two characters. I forgot Chain Lightning did that - I'd only just learned it after using Sparks for most of the game so far.
I return to Astrid expecting to fail the quest, but she actually congratulates me. She says I'm an 'overachiever', and offers me a place in the Dark Brotherhood. I'm not sure if that's a compliment or not, but I accept.
I'm now a fully-fledged assassin. I have to say, though - my burly, bearded Nord looks ridiculous in the Brotherhood's trademark Shrouded armour. A man of his girth should never wear body-hugging leather.
I change back into my Dwarven armour, not only because I look like an idiot, but because my light armour skill is incredibly low. I'm going to be the noisiest, clunkiest assassin in all of Tamriel. That can be my MO. Luckily, Astrid doesn't seem to mind when I come striding through the sanctuary wearing my shiny gold armour.
Man's best friend
Nearly 20 hours in, and I'm pretty much devoted to one-handed combat and destruction magic. They're a lot more developed than pretty much every other skill, and I can handle any combat situation without having to block thanks to my heavy armour expertise.
I like slowing enemies down with frost spells - ice storm is a personal favourite at this point - and then battering them with a heavy lump of metal. I found a Dwarven mace in the ruins of Alftand, and it's been serving me well. I even managed to enchant it with a leeching spell, which means that with every strike, my health goes up.
Before I get invested in the Dark Brotherhood, I decided to go wandering. It's easy to get caught up in quests and forget that there's a huge world out there, ready to be explored.
The only major city I haven't visited yet is Falkreath, so I ride there. Turns out it's more of a village than a city, more like Dawnstar or Morthal than Whiterun or the like. I visit the blacksmith, Lod, to level up my smithing, and he mentions a stray dog that loose just outside of town. He wants someone to capture it for him, and I agree. I find the pooch scampering around, and I approach.
"You are exactly what I was looking for!" The dog just talked. The DOG just TALKED.