Chapter 72: Double Whammy

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.

Lovely evening for slaying a giant.
Lovely evening for a giant homicide.

We arrive at the giant camp just as the sun is sinking behind the distant mountains.  It’s a breezy evening, and the sky is crystal clear, except for a few scudding clouds on the horizon.  There’s also the clean smell of rain on the air, but it seems likely to hold off for awhile.  All the more reason to try and reach Swindler’s Den ahead of any inclement weather.

We dismount some distance from the camp, hiding our horses behind the crest of a hill to avoid alerting the giant to our presence.  We also startle a few mudcrabs at a nearby creek, but since fighting them might alert the giant, we just keep walking uphill as they impotently wave their sharp little pincers at us.  From the wording on the notice, our target sounds exceptionally cranky — and although we’re pretty confident in our ability to take down a single giant, it never hurts to be cautious.

It's all uphill from here.
I’m telling you, Jenassa — it’s all uphill from here.

Using the contours of the hillside and the massive boundary stones as cover, we quietly edge closer to the giant’s location.  He’s standing toward the back of the encampment, near a bonfire big enough to roast a mammoth.  Given that there’s a roasting spit set up close to the flames, that might indeed be what he’s doing, as he seems somewhat preoccupied.  We slowly continue our approach, and as soon as we have a clear shot, we let the first of our arrows fly.

One giant pincushion incoming.
One giant pincushion incoming.

As our quarry closes the distance, I pause briefly in my attack to summon my atronach friend. Appearing just in front of my wife, Barbie successfully distracts the giant by flinging a fireball in his face.  With a deafening bellow, the giant raises his club and makes straight for this new tormentor.  I briefly consider poisoning the giant to slow him down, but at the rate we’re going, he’s probably going to hit the dirt soon enough.  I decide to save my poisons for Swindler’s Den.

Barbie loves to fire up the competition.
Barbie just loves to fire up the opposition.

Even for a powerful giant, it’s difficult to overcome three adversaries at once.  The battle is actually going quite well for Team Tiny, and it seems like victory will be ours in a mere matter of moments — when all of a sudden there’s another player on the field.  And that’s when things start to get interesting… or should I say, terrifying.

From the left, a new challenger appears!
From the left side of the camp, a new challenger appears!

My wife is putting up a good fight, but in seconds she’s down on one knee as the second giant rushes in and smashes the ground beside her.  Barbie keeps flinging fireballs at our original enemy, but he’s hanging in with grim determination.  I start backpedaling as fast as possible, trying to keep both giants in my line of sight.  Unfortunately that becomes quite easy to do, as they suddenly turn in tandem and start thundering straight toward me.  Yikes.

Stay on target, Barbie! Stay on target!
I might be in for twice the pain.

Barbie finally downs the first giant, but the other one keeps heading right for me.  I fire off a couple more shots — which miss entirely — and then I turn tail and run like a terrified rabbit.  Since I’m now in full panic mode, I don’t even retain enough presence of mind to do something sensible like use Unrelenting Force or Whirlwind Sprint.   Instead I just run as fast as I can, which drains my stamina at a ridiculous rate.  Definitely not my finest moment.

Even the horses are fleeing -- but they're doing a much better job.
Even the horses are fleeing — but they’re doing a much better job of it.

At least I manage to remember one thing — giants are notoriously bad at climbing.  With a final burst of speed, I head up the steep mountainside and leap onto some rocks, pausing briefly to resummon Barbie to put her in a better position to distract my pursuer.

Amazingly, this works.  The atronach reappears between me and the giant, and immediately hurls a fireball in his face.  Angered, he roars in frustration and swipes at her with his massive club, but she sidesteps his attack and keeps setting him on fire while I empty my quiver in his general direction.

Taking the high ground.
Taking the high ground.

Soon the giant falls to the ground with a resounding thud, stone dead.  Anxiously I start to run down the mountainside in search of Jenassa — but by the time I reach the giant’s corpse, my wife is already there, thankfully in one piece.  Relieved, we embrace and congratulate each other before we get down to the serious business of looting the body.

That was intense. Let's never do that again. Agreed?
That was intense. Let’s learn to count to two next time. Agreed?

By the time we start heading back to the entrance of the camp, the wind has picked up and the skies have darkened.  The scent of rain is much stronger now, and I realize there’s no chance of us avoiding the inclement weather tonight.  When we reach the site of our first victim, the rain has already started — but as I look past the fallen giant toward the boundary stones of the camp, it’s apparent that we have a new challenge waiting for us.

Now really, I've had just about all I can bear.
Now really, I’ve had just about all I can bear.

Rearing up on his hind legs, the approaching snow bear makes it clear that he intends to dispute ownership of the corpse.  Normally I’d be willing to let the beast have it, but since we don’t know which giant was meant for the bounty, we have to loot them both for proof of their untimely demise.  So I’m sorry, bear — but if you want it, you’ll have to fight us for it.

My wife is bringing all her fighting skills to bear.
Bringing all our combat skills to bear.

The bear is remarkably tough, but since we’ve just tackled a pair of giants, it’s really no contest.  Eventually the wild animal falls to our assault.  I consider skinning the beast, since snow bear pelts fetch a pretty good price, but by now the rain is falling harder and the moisture is seeping through my thick fur cloak —  plus the temperature is falling rapidly.  We’re going to have to find shelter very soon, since there’s none to be had at the camp.  Even the massive bonfire nearby can’t keep off the relentless chill.

Watching all those septims wash away in the rain.
It’s sad to watch all those septims wash away.

Suddenly there’s a flash of lightning, followed by a clap of thunder so loud that it sends the horses running again, this time in our direction.  The skies open in earnest as the rain falls in sheets, and in seconds I’m soaked through.  I dash to meet Frost and leap on his back, shouting at Jenassa to follow me.  Wheeling my horse around, I gallop across the plains toward the Western Watchtower, in a race against time before I freeze to death.

Because really, after everything else, that would be a pretty lame way to die.

At least it'll keep the rain off... mostly.
That tower should keep the rain off… mostly.

 

Travel Map 48.
Travel Map 48.

 

 

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