About the Skyrim Permadeath Chronicles
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So far as first impressions went, Meo’dar-Meo’jo hated Skyrim.
Crouching in the shadow of a tree, he watched the surrounding forest for sign of pursuit. Night had fallen, and with it, a miserable, freezing rain that hinted at quitting but never quite did. Meo’dar-Meo’jo shivered. Of everything that had conspired against him since he’d snuck across the border into Skyrim, the rain was the latest and worst insult. His meager clothing was as a wet blanket wrapped around his torso – cold, and uncomfortably confining. The wet seeped down into his fur, matting it into a tangled mass stubbled with leaves and small twigs. His bones ached from the cold and he wondered if he should ever truly be warm again.
A twig splintered loudly and a gruff voice called out, taunting him. The bandit chieftain, and close by the sound. He was a persistent sort of criminal, this bandit leader. Meo’dar-Meo’jo had thought he’d evaded the bandit twice already. Such insolence, to chase him in the dark as though he were some meager prey! Meo’dar-Meo’jo should spring from hiding and let the bandit feel the sting of his claws. But then he recalled the bandit’s massive axe and the way it visibly radiated with power and instead crouched ever lower.
Meo’dar-Meo’jo is no coward – never think it. Meo’dar-Meo’jo is practical in all things, especially those directly involving his own life. How might he see his ambition if his bright flame were to be snuffed in this barbaric wilderness? No, it wouldn’t do.Eventually the bandit wandered off. Meo’dar-Meo’jo risked a glance from behind the screen of foliage. There was no sign of the chieftain, nor of the other half-dozen bandits that had waylaid him on the road out of Falkreath. He did not know where he was, or if he was still moving East, toward Riften. All of the hiding and chasing of the last hours had very much turned him around. Meo’dar-Meo’jo wondered if he was even in Skyrim any more, or if he’d wandered back over the border into Cyrodiil. That would not be so bad an end to this adventure.
Meo’dar-Meo’jo had ever had poor luck, so it was only fitting that he’d encountered a patrol after crossing illegally into Skyrim. The soldiers had impounded his wagon and the barrels of Skooma he’d been transporting. Stripped him of his fine silk robes and stuffed him into filthy rags that pulled at his lush fur. And then locked him away in the Imperial settlement at Falkreath, to await transport to Helgen. Meo’dar-Meo’jo did not intend to wait on the prison wagon, instead picking the cell’s lock and stealing away into the wilderness.
It’d have been wiser, perhaps, to secure provisions before hastening away from Falkreath. At the least, his map and compass to guide him to Riften. In the absence of those things, he’d have settled for a path to follow, cobblestone or dirt, he cared not. A path, to lead him someplace civilized.
Meo’dar-Meo’jo sighed. It was just as well – the paths of Skyrim were not as like the civilized lands of the south, where one could move about the roads with impunity. It seemed the only ones who traveled the roads here were bandits and their ilk. Here too, Meo’dar-Meo’jo had noticed a marked distinction. Back home, a bandit might look only to shake the gold from one’s coin pouch. These northern bandits’s first – and mayhap only – greed was for blood. He wondered if they even bothered to loot the corpses. Fools.
He wandered for a time before stumbling across a winding cobblestone path. A main thoroughfare, by the look. Flanking the path, Meo’dar-Meo’jo cautiously followed as it dipped and twisted across the countryside. The road sliced a path through a clump of massive boulders. And there, pacing the area between the boulders, was a man.
Meo’dar-Meo’jo watched the man suspiciously for some time. Was it an ambush? Certainly, the man had chosen a good spot for such a ploy, as the boulders made circumventing the road difficult; Meo’dar-Meo’jo would be seen if he tried clambering over them. But as ambushes went – and Meo’dar-Meo’jo had some experience in such things – this might have been the worst he’d ever seen. The man made no move to hide himself. Perhaps he wasn’t operating alone, but Meo’dar-Meo’jo’s sharp eyes did not see any other.
Curious, he crept forward, using the landscape for cover and moving swiftly when the man’s back was turned. So it was that Meo’dar-Meo’jo found himself crouched directly behind the man. Ever so carefully, Meo’dar-Meo’jo reached into the man’s pocket and came away with a potion of invisibility.
Emboldened, Meo’dar-Meo’jo rose to his full height and addressed the man. “Good evening.”
To his credit, the nord did not seem startled or surprised by his presence, greeting Meo’dar-Meo’jo warmly despite the hour and odd circumstance of their acquaintance. Finally – a friendly face.
Talsgar the Wanderer, he was called. A bard, skilled in the use of language. Meo’dar-Meo’jo wondered if the man could teach him, since he was new to Skyrim and had yet to understand the customs. The bard chuckled and insisted this was impossible. Another racist. Everyone Meo’dar-Meo’jo had met so far in Skyrim either insulted him or tried to kill him.
Perhaps reading the expression on Meo’dar-Meo’jo’s face and wishing to soften the insult, the bard offered a song. A song, for a mere 25 gold.
At the mention of coin, Meo’dar-Meo’jo realized how dire his situation truly was. Even if he reached Riften, he had not a single coin with which to buy a warm meal. Spying the fine sword on the bard’s belt, Meo’dar-Meo’jo suddenly felt incredibly jealous. Barring his fangs and hissing, he swiped his claws across the bard’s neck.
The nord was stout, however, and scarcely seemed to notice. “You will regret that,” Talsgar the Wanderer promised as he drew steel.
Never let it be said that Meo’dar-Meo’jo is a coward. Meo’dar-Meo’jo ran.
Fortunately, the bard was not so traversed in chasing prey as the bandit chieftain had been, and Meo’dar-Meo’jo quickly left him behind. Catching his breath beside an outcropping of rock, Meo’dar-Meo’jo spied movement to his right, behind some bushes. A pair of elk, one with a massive rack atop his head. His blood still in a frenzy, Meo’dar-Meo’jo fell upon the elk and opened its throat with his claws. Hot blood splashed Meo’dar-Meo’jo’s fur.
It was slow work butchering the animal with no knife, but in due course Meo’dar-Meo’jo had a luxurious skin, the antlers, and several pounds of meat. The meat was not for him – he could barely abide the smell – but he imagined he’d be able to turn it, along with the rest, into some coin.
His steps were lighter, almost bouncy as he moved alongside the road again. He froze as the howl of wolves echoed through the night. Movement rustled through the underbrush. Meo’dar-Meo’jo wondered if carrying fresh meat on his person had been wise.
They came upon him in a pack, 4 or 5 of them, all snarling teeth as they snapped at Meo’dar-Meo’jo. He showed them his own fangs and cut the first one down. The others came, leaping for his throat, scratching at his chest. The roughspun parted easily under their claws. Meo’dar-Meo’jo’s own blood pattered the ground.
Two more crumbled under his claws, but two yet remained. His strength was waning, his swings growing weak. He thought to run but knew that would only hasten his own doom. Better to die on his feet, fighting, then on his face with the wolves at his back.
Backpeddling, he met the fourth wolf with an uppercut as it leapt, splattering the creature’s brains. The last wolf whined and started to shimmy away. It did not get far. Meo’dar-Meo’jo added the wolf pelts to his collection. Maybe he’d be able to afford a hot meal and a bed once he got to Riften.
He’d need to pen a letter to the clan mother and inform her of what had happened to the skooma shipment. It was as good as lost to them now, but mayhap she would have a plan to restore it to them. The correspondence would take some time. In the meanwhile, Meo’dar-Meo’jo thought he would travel north, to the Mage college, and learn what he could of conjuration, his true passion. Mayhap his luck was not so poor.
The rain began to slack off. He moved slowly, lest he reopen the wounds he’d earned during the fight with the wolves. His stomach rumbled – he needed to eat, and mayhap find a place to rest for some hours. Riften may yet be some hours off.
He came upon a fork in the road, with a faded sign pointing in all directions. Meo’dar-Meo’jo cursed. He was going the wrong way. Riften was in the opposite direction.
He realized how foolish he’d been to travel so carelessly at night in an unknown land, but felt he’d learned a valuable lesson. Without map and compass, and respecting the danger of the roads, it was best to travel by day, when he could use the sun to guide him. It was a good lesson.
Meo’dar-Meo’jo decided to find a place to shelter for a few hours and set out again in the morning. And then he heard the bandit chieftain shout somewhere nearby. Heard the tromp of his heavy boots in the underbrush. Meo’dar-Meo’jo could not see him.
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