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100 Hours in Skyrim: Part 2

Hours 10 - 20: Becoming an assassin, fighting robots and talking to a very special dog...

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.

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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.

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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.

WTF.

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...

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