Chapter 48: Three’s a Crowd

After clearing out the bandits from Valtheim Towers, Jenassa and I reunite with our travel companion and continue our journey.  Just before we head out, I glance up at the lowering sun and feel a twinge of anxiety.   The afternoon has started its transition into early evening, and I’m hoping there won’t be any more time-consuming encounters before dark.  Our tent isn’t big enough to accommodate more than two people, and given that Maurice is an unarmed pacifistic pilgrim who can’t even get on a horse, I doubt he’d survive the night.

As we ride, both of us keep a sharp eye out for any roadside threats that might endanger our companion.  When we find ourselves at the border of Eastmarch, I cautiously relax.  Darkwater Crossing isn’t too far now, and with any luck, the sanctuary of the Eldergleam should be just beyond.  The road ahead seems completely clear of any dangers, so I sit back in the saddle and start to enjoy the ride.

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Chapter 49: I’d Tap That

As if in a dream, I walk forward into the sanctuary of the Eldergleam — a resplendent cavern open to the sky, filled with all the natural beauty one would expect from a place blessed by Kynareth.  Maurice and Jenassa follow behind me, all of us rendered speechless as the wonders of the sanctuary unfold before our dazzled eyes.  And high above like a monarch’s crown is the Eldergleam itself, most precious jewel of this treasure trove, branches spread over all like a heavenly benediction.

Moonlight pours through the roof like a fountain of liquid crystal, its silvery light illuminating every leaf, every drop of water, every blade of grass.  If my heart were to burst right here, and I were to perish in the presence of such beauty, I would count myself the luckiest being in creation to have this wondrous place be the last thing my fortunate eyes would ever see.

The crown jewel of Kynareth’s realm.

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Chapter 50: Seeking Hides

After a refreshing morning swim in the river, Jenassa and I prepare to take our leave of the cozy little fishing hut.  After further discussion, we’ve decided to head back to Whiterun via the scenic route — more specifically, by way of the Rift.  Since we still have yet to find any cave bear pelts for Aela’s assignment, we’re hoping that traveling through the woodlands will offer us more opportunity to hunt bears.  In addition, we plan to swing back to Shor’s Stone and deliver the satchel to Sylgja from her parents in Darkwater Crossing.

Also, given that Maven Black-Briar may still be on the lookout for her stolen horse, we’re making it a priority to avoid the actual city of Riften.  This may make travel somewhat awkward, but with most of the Riften guards in Maven’s pocket, it seems like a sensible precaution.  After all, it’s not paranoia if someone really is out to get you.

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