Chapter 6: Chill Out

Next day I awaken to a rather cool morning, and my campfire has been reduced to a small circle of glowing coals. After a breakfast of cheese, bread, and lavender tea, I pack up my tent and I’m back on the hunt. I’ll need a few more hides and alchemy ingredients before I return to Whiterun.

I decide to hike uphill to find a good vantage point. I want to observe the lay of the land (and hopefully avoid any surprise ambushes).  I’m trudging up a fairly steep incline when I suddenly hear howling close by.  Unwilling to be wolf chow again, this time I summon Mr. Wuffles and ready my bow.

Mr. Wuffles tears off into the bushes and I start to run after him, but then I stop short. There’s a tall ramshackle building on the crest of the hill, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone around — except a pack of wolves, that is.  I can’t see any yet, but it sounds like Mr. Wuffles has found them all.

Anyone there? Please call off your wolves!
Anyone there? Please call off your wolves!

A wolf dashes at me from behind a tree, already injured, and I shoot it in the face.   Another shot and it’s dead.  Great, one down, indeterminate amount to go.  There’s still sounds of fighting between the unseen wolves and Mr. Wuffles.   I cautiously approach the area, raise my bow and fire off a few arrows in the general direction of the scuffle.   That’s one advantage of using a conjured wolf over a normal hunting dog — if you hit your pet by accident, you can just summon him again.

The bushes shake and another wolf charges toward me.  I manage to shoot him in the throat and he instantly hits the ground.   I nock another arrow and ready my bow, but all is quiet.  Eerily silent, in fact.  I can’t hear any more sounds of fighting.  What did you meanies do to my Wuffles?!  I peek around a boulder, expecting an attack.

Who's a good boy? Yes you are!
Who’s a good boy? Yes you are!

It takes awhile to track down all the carcasses, but eventually they’re skinned and processed.  Now that the wolves are dealt with, I approach the tall wooden structure.  It appears abandoned, but only recently so, as it’s in pretty good shape.  There’s a campfire still burning outside with a cooking pot, a bench, and a tanning rack.  Strangely, I can’t see any way of getting into the cabin, even though it’s clearly meant to be a shelter of some sort.  I walk completely around the building but there’s no obvious entrance.  It’s raised well above the ground and there’s no sign of a door — not even windows.

Open sesame? Friend? Abracadabra?
Open sesame? Abracadabra? Mellon?

Puzzled, I walk right up to it.  It takes me a minute or two, but I finally notice a ladder tucked among the stilts holding up the structure.  Above the ladder is a trap door.  Mystery solved!  I ascend the ladder and enter the cabin through the floor.

Wouldn't want to hold a dance party in here, but I like it!
Wouldn’t want to hold a dance party in here, but I like it.

Inside it’s warm and pleasant. The room is a pretty tight squeeze with barely enough room for me to turn around.  There’s a sleeping platform, a chest, some dressers and drawers, a couple of barrels and a few random sacks.  There’s not enough room for a small table or even a chair.  I doubt I’d want to live here permanently, but as an emergency shelter and modest hunting cabin, it’s perfect.

The ladder continues up through another trap door, so I continue my ascent.

So it's a room with a view -- just not on the same floor.
So it’s a room with a view — just not on the same floor.

The view from the roof is amazing.  I’m glad it’s a clear day so I can truly appreciate the scenery.  There’s even a chair up here where I can sit and relax.  Now that I think about it, I guess that’s the only place a chair can be, since it sure wouldn’t fit in the room below.

Wuffles likes echoes.
Mr. Wuffles likes echoes.

The sunshine is lovely, so I decide to have my lunch al fresco.  It’s tempting to spend all day and night here, but I decide to collect some plants for alchemy and head back to Whiterun.  I’m determined to start on Aela’s assignment the very next day, with or without the dark elf mercenary.  My backpack and pouches are getting heavy with potion ingredients, however, so I’m feeling pretty good about my chances.  If all goes well, I’ll be able to raise enough gold to hire her tonight.   I hope.

I’ve descended the hill and focused on harvesting a clump of tundra cotton when there’s a sudden chill in the air.  In fact, it’s getting downright frosty.  Literal frost is forming over my shoulders and hands, and I have a sensation very much like brain freeze.  Huh, that’s weird, night hasn’t even fallen yet.  I look up to see if a freak blizzard has blown in.

Worse than a freak blizzard -- it's a freaking wizard!
Worse than a freak blizzard — it’s a freaking wizard!

I try to whip out my bow and fire off a couple of shots, but there’s another necromancer coming up behind the first one.  Crap.  This is looking bad, and I can’t fight back quickly enough since my blood is starting to freeze.  Desperate, I duck behind an ruined farmhouse wall and barely manage to summon Mr. Wuffles before the next wave of cold hits.  Praise Arkay, that was close!

My fierce little buddy springs forward, charging straight at the necromancers and tackling them head-on.   I heal myself with a spell and start peppering them with arrows.  Pretty soon it’s all over.

You like frost spells, so I made you stone cold. You're welcome.
You like frost spells, so I made you stone cold.  You’re welcome.

I take everything worthwhile from both corpses, including some more alchemy ingredients.  The sun is already setting so I head back to town.  With luck, I can do some crafting and earn a decent sum of gold before the shops close.  I’m also running low on edibles.  Sure, I have a ton of wolf and deer parts, but eating raw meat is just asking for a disease.  I’d rather not have to deal with ataxia or rockjoint — and then I’d have to ask the priestess to heal me.  She might be less than generous about it since that whole face-beating thing.

I might be late for dinner, Farkas. Start without me.
I might be late for dinner, Farkas.  Start without me.

I reach the market area just as the outdoor vendors are packing up.  Okay, so I might have another few minutes before the shops close, but I’d better ask someone just to be sure.  I catch up to the woman who runs the produce stand and tap her on the shoulder, but she nearly takes my head off before she realizes it’s me.  Whoa, and I thought I was having a stressful day.

Man troubles? Honey, I totally understand. Did he make you beat up a priestess?
Man troubles? Honey, I totally understand. Did he make you beat up a priestess?

Right, so this bard sounds like a complete douchebag.  No problem, I’ll just shame him into doing the right thing.  It worked on that farmer, and a bard’s probably way more of a wuss than a healer.  Healers have to deal with wounds and injuries and bleeding, plus they have to do whatever their respective deity demands and take care of a temple.  Bards have to — what?  Stand around crooning silly love songs and spread political propaganda in the form of catchy musical numbers?  No worries, lady.  I got this.

I was right. You are a douchebag.
I was right. You are a douchebag.

Holy sweetrolls, this guy is ticking me off.  Jealous?!  Over what?!  Definitely not over you, you pasty-faced shrill-shrieking poncey little caterwauler!

Okay, Morien, no point losing your temper over this.  Just roll up your sleeves and look tough, and he’ll go cower in the corner with his tail between his legs.

Y'know, I really gotta work on my mean face.
Y’know, I really gotta work on my “mean face”.

…Seriously?  Why does this keep happening to me?!

Fortunately he’s a pretty terrible fighter, even worse than I am.   I guess all that time I spent dealing with angry beasts and crazed necromancers has quickened my reflexes.  Or maybe I’m just developing a healthy sense of survival.  At any rate, soon the brawl is over and I’m barely bruised.

Can't say the same for you, I'm afraid.
Can’t say the same for you, I’m afraid.

After he picks up his sorry ass from the floorboards, he stutters out an apology and a promise to stay away from Carlotta.  I’d feel more like a badass if this lame excuse for a milk drinker wasn’t such a pushover, but still, I’m pretty satisfied with my night’s work.  At least I can pass along some good news.  But if Diva Boy here has made me late for the shops, I’m gonna come right back and hang him by his own lute-strings.

Carlotta’s just seating herself by the fire, so I brush off my hands (ew, douche cooties) and inform her that she’s now free from Loverboy’s unwanted attentions.

Wow, that's a nice tip! Any other bards you want clobbered?
Wow, that’s a nice tip! Any other bards you want clobbered?

Now I’m very satisfied with my night’s work — to be precise, 250 gold’s worth of satisfaction!  I’m starting to see why Farkas likes brawling so much.   Now I just have to raise another couple hundred gold and I can hire myself a mercenary.  I dash out of the inn, but it’s a bittersweet departure as I’m running out of time before the shops close — so I have to refuse all the congratulatory offers of mead from the other patrons.   It’s bloody heartbreaking!

Tick tock!

Outside the inn, night is falling and it’s already getting dark.  I’ve only got enough time for one shop before they all close.  I rapidly rummage through my belongings and conclude that Arcadia will be the merchant privileged with my visit this evening, since I currently have enough alchemy components to choke a horse. Surely I can concoct something worthwhile (and hopefully valuable).

I reach Arcadia’s door and, thank the Divines, she’s still open!  Someone up there must like me.

Some vandal has defaced Arcadia's door-post with gang symbols. Bet it was Braith.
Some vandal has defaced Arcadia’s door-post with gang symbols.  Bet it was Braith.

I deflect Arcadia’s “concerned” questions about the state of my health.  We’ve got alchemists in High Rock just like her.  They’re all too happy to “diagnose” you of every rare disease in the book, and then sell you the “cures” afterwards.  Back home after a good party night at my tavern, the alchemists made decent coin selling hangover cures the next morning — but not being satisfied with that, they’d also try to convince the more gullible patrons that their hangovers were actually bonebreak fever or the rattles.   No thanks Arcadia, really, I’m fine.  Look, seriously, I just want your alchemy table.   Yes, I know how to use it!

She reluctantly agrees and I start mixing random ingredients together. My initial results are less than promising.  In rapid succession, I produce sludge, more sludge, pretty-coloured water, slimy goop, and a greenish acid that tries to eat a hole through the tabletop.  I’m starting to think I won’t be making any money here after all, when suddenly I hit the jackpot.

It's all about the septims, baby.
It’s all about the septims, baby.

Triumphant, I cash in my efforts and head straight to the Drunken Huntsman.  Luckily the dark elf is right where I left her. Good to see you again, hope you had a nice day, and by the way, you’re hired!

Welcome to Morien Incorporated. Consider this your 30-day probationary period.
Welcome to Morien Incorporated.  Consider this your 30-day probationary period.


Travel Map 3.
Travel Map 3.

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