The Adventure of the Stolen Skooma – Part 7

About the Skyrim Permadeath Chronicles

 

Previously

 

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(note – I will update with screens later today, but wanted to post the text now since it’s done) Done!

Le’Mosh returns to the inn for supper. The tight confines are packed with locals. Smoke and shadow and sound. A stranger among them, Le’Mosh scans the crowd for a friendly face. He eats alone.

Head buzzing from ale, Le’Mosh collapses into a musty-smelling bed. The room tips pleasantly. He idly wonders what came of Nostaw. Part of him worries. How will he communicate with these northern brutes without his translator? Mostly, he thinks Nostaw has run out on him. When Nostaw still hasn’t turned up by morning, he is convinced. He scowls over his breakfast. Why ever would Nostaw leave his service? Was he not a good and kind master to him?

Le’Mosh wanders fog-thickened streets. Shapes approach through the mist, vague and specter-like. Guards about their morning duties, or townsfolk making preparations for the day. Nostaw is gone. There is nothing for it, and no putting off his duty. The investigation must go on. He delays only to resupply, and he additionally purchases a book of healing spells. It might come in handy without Nostaw along to deflect attention.

Le’Mosh leaves Falkreath through the western gate. The dirt road is clear of debris and only gently slopes uphill. The sun burns away the last vestiges of fog and Le’Mosh thinks everything will be okay.

Like a mangled stone fist, a broken rampart comes into view above a copse of gray pines. A sidetrack splits off the road, moving south toward the ruins. Le’Mosh slinks around fallen trees and creeps in for a closer look. Partially collapsed, the dilapidated fortress has been outfit with wooden stairs, a walkway around the inner wall, and a tower on one corner. The wood looks new, and when the wind kicks-up, he can smell fresh-hewn wood and sawdust.

A sentry wanders into view atop the wooden platform. Le’Mosh drops him with two shots. A pair of bandits emerge and trade fire with Le’Mosh. Some of the arrows are ablaze. The inspector’s robe catches. He sprints for cover, screaming in pain, a candlestick of a man. Quaffing potions, he wonders if he’ll melt.

Breathing hard, he ducks behind a boulder and quickly doses the flames. His gorgeous robe is a ruin, but the potion did its job. His skin is pink and a bit sore, but he’s otherwise hale and whole. Kicking the robe aside, he slips into a set of leather armor. He probably should have been wearing armor in the first place. What protection is a robe against the ravages of this world? And yet, it’d been all he’d needed when Nostaw had stood beside him. Nostaw – his sword, his shield. His friend.

Sniffling, Le’Mosh climbs a rocky outcropping for a better view of the fortress. Mayhap he’d see the bandits at distance and could pick them off. A sound plan, if not for the bears. Backpedaling from the lair he’d stumbled into as the massive creatures stir, Le’Mosh retreats and hides. Mayhap it is time to return to Falkreath. Find another guide.

Bear Cave

Don’t mind me… please, go back to your meal.

The serene silence eventually emboldens him. Le’Mosh hides in one of the fallen stone towers and picks off the two bandit sentries. He thinks of hunting for white-tail with his father and thinks this isn’t so different. The motions are the ones he’s used since childhood – draw, aim, release. The result is the same. And yet, does he not pause for the slightest second before release? Killing a man is not a deed down easily. Leastwise, it shouldn’t be. Le’Mosh comforts himself with the thought that that is the difference between Him and Them. That hesitation. The urge to snatch back an arrow already in flight. The guilt of a well-aimed shot.

Sniping from the tower

Forcing the issue.

There were only the two. Checking the bodies, he sees that his aim is ever true. There would have been no suffering. These bandits might’ve meant him dead, but he’d no stomach to see them die badly for it.

Le’Mosh discovers an enchanted crossbow near one of the bodies. There is a slight charred smell to the wood, and the stock’s grain curls like flames. He fires a bolt and watches as a shrub catches fire. So – that is how they burnt his robe. Remembering his scorched and ruined clothing, he suddenly doesn’t feel quite so sorry they’re dead.

Headshot

Another one bites the dust.

Swapping his bow for the crossbow, Le’Mosh wonders how it is that bandits in Skyrim are so well-equipped. Magic staffs, enchanted bows… it all suggests something Le’Mosh doesn’t want to think about at the moment. Not standing on the doorstep to a bandit fortress. Alone.

Rapid footsteps crunching gravel behind him. He spins, drawing the new crossbow. A woman in leather armor runs past the fortress. At least, he thinks its a woman – her head is shaved bald, and she doesn’t quite have a woman’s frame. She ignores him, running east on the road toward Falkreath.

Le’Mosh sprints after her. “Mademoiselle – wait a moment, I beg.”

She glances over her shoulder, long fangs bared in a snarl. There is something alien and animal-like about her face, the way her nose seems perpetually scrunched. Her fangs gleam white and her mouth is red.

Le’Mosh nearly trips over his own feet. He recalls Nostaw’s words about the incredible creatures of Skyrim. Vampires. Could it be true?

Recognizing that he might signal his own end in doing so, realizing he’d been offered a chance and by acting was throwing it away, Le’Mosh raises the crossbow and fires. The bolt catches the vampire between the shoulders. She stumbles, mewling loudly as her flesh ignites. Sprinting between a group of boulders, she disappears.

Reloading, Le’Mosh circles. She could not have gone anywhere, and yet she is gone. There seems to be something lurking in artificial shadow. He fires again. The vampire re-appears, his bolt buried in her abdomen. Sprawling to the ground, she dies.

He cautiously inches forward. Prods the body with a boot. Wonders if there is a proper way to dispose of the body so it doesn’t rise again. He’d known stories about such things as a boy, but they were lost to him now. But mayhap there was nothing of substance to those tales – didn’t they always say a vampire hated the sun? And yet here she was, running around in broad daylight.

Dead Vamp

Man… she is ugly.

“Dammit, Nostaw. Where are you?”

Undecided what to do with the vampire, Le’Mosh returns to the fortress. Suddenly the broken towers don’t seem quite so dark, and the promise of battle within seems tolerable. He chuckles darkly.

He discovers three entrances in total – the main double doors, a locked basement door, and a trap door on the roof. Electing surprise, he opens the trap door and descends into the private chambers of the bandit king. Bandit king included. Surprise indeed.

Rising from his haunches, the bandit king closes the distance in one long step, the blade of his long-hafted axe gleaming cruelly in the dim light. And then the axe is falling. Le’Mosh stumbles over a bucket, goes down. Skitters backward on his behind. Sparks dance as the axe rings on the stone floor where Le’Mosh had been a second before.

Undecided between drawing bow or blade, he draws neither. “Wait!” Holding up a hand that is ignored. Le’Mosh finds the wall. He can retreat no further. The bandit closes for the final blow.

“In the name of the Empire, I command you to hold!”

Strangely, ridiculously, the bandit freezes mid back-swing. His eyes take on a curious cant.

Le’Mosh does not hesitate. He quickly darts up the ladder. The sunlight is dazzling. Drawing his blade, he stands over the trap door, waiting for the chieftain to emerge.

A boot scuffs on stone behind him. Le’Mosh flinches and turns slowly to meet his fate.

A Nord stands there, looking strong and certain in dull gray armor. He casts a long shadow across the roof, and in that moment Le’Mosh wonders if he isn’t as tall as his shadow suggests.

Reunited

I like your new hat, sir.

Le’Mosh’s knees shake, threaten to give out. A hand grasps his arm, holding him upright. Le’Mosh smiles with obvious relief. “Nostaw.” A sigh, a breath.

“Sir.”

“But… where have you been?”

“I was… detained. Sir.”

“Detained? By whom? Never mind – it hardly matters. I…” Le’Mosh’s tongue feels clumsy and unable to make the words his mind commands.

“Sir?”

Words cant express

Is that all you have to say to me?

“I’ve seen things, Nostaw. I… You…”

“Are you alright sir?”

Yes. No. He sighs. “I am now, my dear Nostaw. I am now.”

Awkward

… awkward…

They stare at each other. Le’Mosh can’t decide if he wants to shake his hand or draw him into an awkward hug. He feels like kissing him, so great is his relief and gratitude. But Nord customs and beliefs are a queer thing to him, and he’d not want to inadvertently make a marriage compact by sharing a brief but manly moment with his companion.

“What now sir?”

“Now? Now we kill some bandits.”

 

Some words

A very eventful session! I was seriously bummed when Nostaw disappeared. I wandered around for a while looking for him, even back-tracking to the last bandit hide-out to see if he’d run afoul of something and had been killed. Eventually I had to move on. I’d completely given up on him when he emerged on the roof. And what a welcome surprise he had been! I was genuinely relieved.

I came so close to death several times here. The bandit with the fire-enchanted crossbow dropped my health to just about nothing. I used up most of my potions and supplemented with healing spells.

The vampire was so random, but it was awesome and I see possibilities for the story to go that direction.

And then the encounter with the bandit leader. There is no way I could have defeated him. The chambers were narrow and dark. It felt claustrophobic. I couldn’t get away from his axe. I wasn’t even trying to attack him, was in complete Flight mode. I was able to stall death by leveling up (which gives you max HP again), but I was out of options, I had to retreat up the ladder but he had me cornered.

And then I remembered the Imperial special ability, which I have never used before. It worked like a charm, and bought me enough time to retreat.

I still have no clue what happened to Nostaw and why he only now returned. Makes for a good story though!

Check-out my other stories!

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2 comments on “The Adventure of the Stolen Skooma – Part 7
  1. joe says:

    this one was good. feels like roleplaying again. random game hitches included. the last episode felt more like you were just making up a story while ignoring what the game throws at you. so i like this one more

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