As Jenassa and I ride through the gates of Falkreath, the falling snow changes into rain. Despite the milder temperature, however, the weather is still quite chilly and it’s just as unpleasant, perhaps even worse now that we’re getting soaked. Even though it’s only mid-afternoon, the rain showers have turned the sky gloomy and dark, and the lights of the town shine almost as brightly as if it were nightfall.
We guide our horses toward the middle of town, coming to a halt just outside the Jarl’s hall and out of the wind. Falkreath doesn’t seem to have stables anywhere in town, or any other place that would be an appropriate shelter, but fortunately the horses of Skyrim are a hardy lot.
We dismount and head over to the smithy for some much-needed upgrades. After some minor improvements to our gear, I decide that I could do better than a bunch of leather-bound sticks as my bow. My old weapon has served me well, but I have a new design in mind that should provide more speed and power. After some experimentation, I craft a bow that’s definitely an improvement — plus it looks amazing.
Upgrades completed, we visit the local shopkeepers to sell off our accumulated loot. There’s a surprising amount of it, including what we had still packed away in our horses’ saddlebags. By the time we walk away from the last shop, our coin purses are heavy with gold, so we decide to pay a visit to the Jarl’s steward and see if we can invest in some Falkreath real estate.
Now that we’re officially landowners, we can’t wait to check out our new property. Unfortunately the weather outside is still wet, cold, and miserable. It’s hardly ideal conditions to look over a large plot of undeveloped woodland, and traveling is similarly out of the question — so for a few minutes we find ourselves at a loss.
We’ve traded at the shops, we’ve upgraded our gear, and we don’t really want to visit the crowded inn — especially since it’ll be even more crowded in this weather. Finally we decide to pay a visit to the farming couple who lost their little girl. I’m concerned about their welfare and feel a certain connection with them, not the least because I’ve been charged by Hircine to hunt down the man who murdered their child.
Fortunately the wife is at home, and she seems glad to have visitors. Her husband is away, working the fields, or more likely drowning his sorrows at the inn. She introduces herself as Indara, invites us to share a meal with her, and immediately starts toward the cooking pot. We accept, as it’s obvious that she wants to keep herself busy rather than succumb to grief. I find a seat at the table as Jenassa closes the door tight against the rain, and we just let our hostess talk about anything she wants.
The food is fresh and delicious, which isn’t surprising since most of it likely came straight from their farm. Jenassa and I eat heartily, and this seems to help Indara enjoy her meal as well. She says she and her husband haven’t had much of an appetite since their daughter died — again, not surprising. Afterward, we sit together in silence as we finish our mugs of ale. We don’t speak, but somehow the silence is comforting.
It’s Indara who breaks the quiet mood. As she finishes the last drop of her ale, she stares into her tankard, and her face hardens. “I heard the guards talking earlier,” she mutters, almost to herself. “They say that depraved beast has escaped his cell.” She spits the words out, as if each one leaves a bitter taste in her mouth, and sets her mug down hard on the table. “I can’t stand the thought of that murderer running free, when my daughter… my daughter…” She breaks off with a gasp of pain, as if she’s been stabbed through the heart.
Jenassa glances toward me, but I sit frozen. My first instinct is to defend Sinding, to tell Indara that he was doubly cursed by Hircine and couldn’t help what he did to her little girl. Then I realize how weak that sounds. Sinding knew he was on the edge of losing control when he arrived in Falkreath, but he chose to stay and risk the consequences. And this woman’s daughter was the victim of that choice. There’s no way I can justify that, even to myself — and I’ll never be able to forget her raw, harsh, aching grief without seeking out some kind of justice.
Eventually we no longer hear the sound of rain falling, and after thanking Indara for her hospitality, Jenassa and I head out the door. The evening is cool and the wind is brisk as it blows away the dark clouds overhead. I take a deep breath of rain-scented air, which seems to drive out the sorrow-filled atmosphere of the house behind me, infusing me with a fresh sense of adventure.
Jenassa clearly feels the same, for even though nightfall is fast approaching, she immediately agrees to my next suggestion. Wasting no time, we find our horses, mount up, and ride straight toward the site of our future home.
Night has fallen when we reach our property, and it’s hard to see much beyond the trees — but what we do see, we like very much. There’s a sheltered area set up with a drafting table, a workbench and anvil, and some building materials in a chest. Our excitement energizes us, and we decide to make a start on our house despite the late hour. We want to leave our mark on the land, some sign to indicate that it’s truly ours.
Soon we’ve laid out the foundation for a small house. We’ll need to purchase finished logs from a lumber mill before we can proceed to the next stage, but we’re flushed with success and pleased with our progress. Unwilling to leave our property just yet, we decide to spend the night here — and so we build a campfire and pitch our tent on the same foundation where we intend to live. As we work, the last of the dark clouds blows away, the stars come out, and the aurora shines over us like a blessing from the gods.
Snuggling up in our cozy tent, we beam at each other. Knowing that we’ve taken the first steps toward creating our own home is exhilarating. It’s true that for a long time, we’ve had the option to simply buy a house back in Whiterun, and that would have been much easier than building one ourselves. For all I know, we may still purchase an urban dwelling sometime in the future.
But during our adventures, we’ve discovered a strong preference for the woods and the wilderness. Some of our happiest times in the Rift were the moments we spent in the ranger cabin. And here in Falkreath Hold, surrounded by nature, the various demands of Jarls and Greybeards seem very far away.
For a pair of nomads like us, it already feels like home.