Jenassa and I decide to remain at Breezehome for awhile, partly due to the continuing rain, and partly to spend more time bonding with our new daughter. Lucia is simply adorable, a source of unending surprise and delight, and our housecarl Lydia seems just as fond of her as we are. The four of us find it easy to amuse ourselves despite the ongoing inclement weather, and we get along so well that our time together flies by in a revelry of mutual affection and laughter.
But when the skies finally clear and the sun shows its face once again, my wife and I prepare to go back on the road. We haven’t forgotten our promise to confront the Alik’r on Saadia’s behalf, and the date of the reception at the Thalmor Embassy is fast approaching as well. Lucia is touchingly sad to see us go, and clings to us both as we say our goodbyes, making us promise to return safely. Our capable housecarl assures us that our house and daughter will be under her constant supervision, and with a final round of farewells, Jenassa and I step out into the bright morning sunshine.
Despite the fact that we’ll certainly miss our new daughter, there’s a thrill of anticipation in the air as we ride out from Whiterun. Somewhere along the line I’ve become used to a life of adventure, and staying in a safe place for the rest of my days has lost its appeal. It’s likely that I may never live to see old age, but at least I’ll never feel as if I haven’t lived at all.
As we head past the Western Watchtower on our way to Swindler’s Den, we find ourselves approaching a crumbling old fortress, embellished with several wooden barriers and a number of target dummies. Right, this must be Fort Greymoor. The ramshackle defenses indicate that it’s probably a bandit camp, like many other ruined structures in Skyrim — but so far these bandits seem to be keeping to themselves. We haven’t seen a bounty for them in town, nor do they emerge from the fortress when we ride past. No point in looking for trouble — we have enough to occupy us as it is. Might as well keep on going.
But we haven’t traveled very far past the fortress when we meet a strange Nord at the side of the road — and unlike us, he’s looking for trouble. It’s pretty obvious that he’s had a strong liquid breakfast, as he reeks of cheap mead. He also seems to be a raging bigot spoiling for a fight, for as soon as he gets a look at Jenassa, he rushes forward, challenges her with a racial slur, and tries to pull her off her horse. After the initial surprise, Jenassa aims a kick to his head, but he manages to avoid it and keeps on with the senseless assault.
So much for our peaceful ride in the sunshine. Annoyed by the unwelcome antics of this drunken idiot, I jump off my horse and draw Dawnbreaker, intending to just threaten him with it and encourage him to move aside. It doesn’t work. With a belligerent shout, he whirls around to meet me and pulls out a greatsword, swinging it emphatically with more speed than precision. Still, I’m forced to jump back to avoid getting a blade across the face.
Jenassa takes advantage of the distraction by dismounting at a distance and unsheathing her weapons. You’d think this Nord would get the hint once he sees that the odds are against him, but no — he just pivots when Jenassa approaches and starts swinging at both of us. Clearly this guy was way at the back of the line when they started handing out brains. Looks like we’ll have to step up and teach him the error of his ways.
Even intoxicated, the Nord puts up a decent fight, but it doesn’t take long before we simply overwhelm him. After he hits the dirt, we check over the body for any reasonably valuable loot — and discover an unpleasant surprise.
By the horny head of Hircine, I thought that greatsword looked familiar. I’ve seen similar weapons in the hands of the Companions, and it’s an absolutely typical example of Eorlund Gray-Mane’s exemplary bladesmithing.
But there’s no way that drunken bigot would’ve been accepted by the Companions, which means that he must have stolen it from one of them. And that means he’s probably a bandit. And since the nearest bandit camp is back at Fort Greymoor…
Come on, Jenassa. It’s pest control time.
Storming an occupied fortress through the front door isn’t generally the smartest move, but now I’m seeing red. The idea of a worthless gang of criminal scum disrespecting my fellow Companions is simply intolerable. To her credit, Jenassa tries to reason with me at first, but when it’s clear her words are having zero impact, she just grabs her bow and reminds me to summon my atronach before we charge in.
A lone archer appears at the ramparts as we sprint past the wooden barriers, but he only manages to get off a couple of shots before Barbie sets him on fire. Far from slowing us down, in moments we’re past the outer walls, where another bandit rushes toward us and tries to bash me over the head with an oversized mace. In a single movement, I knock it out of her hand and set her alight with Dawnbreaker, and she collapses at my feet in a heap of burning flesh.
By now the bandits defending the fortifications are fully alert, and they attack all at once like a swarm of hornets. However, most of them are poorly armoured and wielding inferior weapons, so the actual threat they represent is minimal. In contrast, Jenassa is a deadly whirlwind of vicious destruction, efficiently cutting down several enemies amid a hail of fireballs from Barbie.
In the meantime, I find the stairs up to the ramparts and take the steps two at a time beside one of the towers. As I race to the top, a burly orc bandit turns to face me, brandishing a massive broadsword and threatening to cleave me in two. I stop short and reach for my bow, as I have to admit, he seems pretty intimidating.
Since I have a vested interest in keeping myself in one piece, I’m careful to stay at a distance while I pepper him with arrows. Soon he starts to falter, his feet slipping in a shallow pool of his own blood. As soon as he stumbles, I rush in past his sword, bash him over the head with my shield, and finish him off with Dawnbreaker. It’s a surprisingly satisfying way to end the fight, and I step back for a moment to admire my handiwork.
After exploring the rest of the ramparts, dispatching a couple more bandits, and looting some gold and a few potions from a chest, I head back down to rejoin Jenassa in the scorched and bloody courtyard. We loot some of the corpses, but there’s very little worth taking, and no sign of any other weapons stolen from the Companions. However, it’s apparent we’ve just started, as we still have the interior of the fortress to explore — and since we’ve already started the job, we might as well finish it.
In front of us is a raised area paved with stone, leading to a set of double oaken doors which marks the entrance to the interior of the fortress. Nocking an arrow to my bowstring, I nod at Jenassa and start forward. If we happen to find more Companion weapons inside, we’ll be sure to liberate them — along with the sorry souls of those dimwitted bandits.