Night falls over Whiterun Hold, and with it, the rain. The storm is so intense that water spills from the clouds as if pouring from a bucket. By the time Jenassa and I reach the Western Watchtower, we’re soaking wet and shivering. Given the dangers of coming down with a chill in this climate, we’re going to have to warm up fast.
Fortunately the guards have stacked a generous pile of firewood within the tower, and in a few minutes we’ve built a large campfire just inside the entrance. Gratefully we stretch our hands over the blaze as the flames crackle and dance, driving away the worst of the frigid damp. After some time beside the fire and a quick bite from our provisions, we both feel warm, refreshed, and ready for anything.
Over a hearty dinner at the Bannered Mare, Jenassa and I discuss our options. Fortunately the Breezehome property is still on the market, and although my wife isn’t completely convinced that we really need a second home, she concedes that it would be rather hardhearted of us to refuse Lucia’s request to be adopted. Also, given the number of attacks we’ve already had to endure at Lakeview Manor, it would undoubtedly be safer for a little girl to remain here in Whiterun, where there are guards and city walls to protect her.
So now it’s just a matter of raising enough money for the house and its furnishings — and one of the best ways to raise money in Skyrim is to take on risky work that no one else wants to do. Fortunately, there’s plenty of that kind of work available. From the notice board we learned of a giant that the Jarl wants exterminated, and its camp is fairly close to the city, just on the other side of the Western Watchtower. We decide to tackle that first. With luck, we can dispatch the giant quickly, and then continue on our way to Swindler’s Den.
Right, so I wasn’t expecting to discover the secret life of the barmaid when I walked into the Bannered Mare this afternoon. But after I mention that some men are out looking for a Redguard woman, Saadia immediately gasps in alarm and asks for my help. She then requests to speak to me in private, and starts leading me up the back stairs of the inn.
Before I follow her up the stairs, I turn to Jenassa with a shrug. In for a penny, I suppose. Jenassa folds her arms and nods, indicating that she’ll wait until I return. I’m not entirely certain I want to get involved in all this intrigue, but like it or not, I guess I’m involved now.
Next morning, I awaken in the middle of a large comfortable bed with a soft pillow under my head, and for a moment I’m not entirely certain where I am. The accommodations certainly seem top-notch, however. Is this an upscale inn? A friendly noble’s dwelling? Then I remember that this is my own house, and that I’m the noble — at least here in the region of Falkreath. Grinning, I sink back down under the warm bedding and stretch out, slowly and luxuriously. It’s good to be Thane.
Now that my brain is starting to work again, I piece together more details from my surroundings. From what I can tell, Jenassa seems to be downstairs and in the middle of breakfast. I can’t hear anything from the housecarl’s room, so I assume she’s already outside on patrol. I suppose I must’ve slept in — not too surprising, given recent events. Especially that whole rampaging werewolf thing. Which I’m refusing to think about right now, since that would ruin the first morning in my newly remodeled house — sorry, I mean manor. I’ve never had a manor before, and by the Divines, I’m determined to enjoy it while I can.
Naturally, after learning from the Falkreath guards that they suspect the presence of a werewolf, both Jenassa and I are rather anxious to return to our homestead — for just slightly different reasons. It doesn’t take us long to wrap up our business in town, which we conclude in tense silence — save for the occasional brief remark such as, “We need some more broadhead arrows,” or “Let’s pick up another case of mead.”
In the meantime, my head is buzzing with questions. Where exactly did I go last night? How many people are dead? Did I kill them all or was some other werewolf around? What really worries me is that I have a clear memory of chasing deer, but not of eating any — and I have a clear memory of eating humans, but not of chasing any. At least not for any distance. Perhaps this feeling of disorientation is what Sinding felt when he killed that little girl.
Early mornings at the Helgen keep are a busy time. The sleeping soldiers are awakened soon after dawn, as their beds will be needed by the guards who were recently on night watch duty. From my seat at the table, I watch as the soldiers organize their gear and sharpen their weapons in readiness for the upcoming sentry rotation. Amid the hustle, Jenassa swiftly packs away our bedrolls as Marcus finishes his tankard, picks up a broom, and starts sweeping the floor. Ten septims says he volunteered for this duty in order to remain useful.
I’m feeling like a sloth in the midst of all this bustling activity, so after the soldiers file out of the room, I walk up to Marcus and offer my help with whatever is needed. To my surprise, he says that he’s been waiting for a chance to discuss that very topic, and asks if we’d mind delaying our breakfast for a few moments. Curious, Jenassa and I encourage him to continue, and without even a pause in the rhythm of his work, he begins his explanation.