A brand new day has dawned in Tamriel, and our heroine John Skyrim awakes from her rest.
First thing on the agenda: Breakfast! Looking in her inventory, John discovers a veritable trove of tasty looking snacks.
Chowing down on some nutritious Mubcrab Chitin is the perfect way to start the day! Surprisingly, John's tastebuds are so sensitive that the mere act of eating something tells her what kind of potion can be made out of it.
Heading downstairs, John also snags a sweetroll from the breakfast buffet, figuring it might come in handy if she ever runs out of fungi scraped from dank cave walls.
Wandering around the streets of Solitude for a bit, she stops in at the church and has a chat to the priest, Styrr. He is a bit of an emo, wittering on about the "darkness that pervades Solitude" like he just got his first LiveJournal, so JS decides to go hang with some less gloomy people.
Apparently the dead don't take to kindly to having their rest disturbed, as John is instantly confronted by a ghastly animated skeleton...
...which she turns into an invincible mudcrab using Wabbajack.
After despatching a few more skeletal wardens, it becomes clear that there is nothing worth stealing in the catacombs. It looks like a brisk stroll in the mountains is in order.
Looks like John wasn't the only one with a mountain jaunt on their mind.
However, the dragon is content to just fly around without a fight, and after missing with a few Wabbajack potshots, John decides to let him be. Continuing upon her way, she soon comes across a statue of Meridia.
Poking around a bit reveals a "Gem Pedestal" at the foot of the statue, but nothing seems to happen when John tries to activate it. Losing interest, she decides to wander off and check out the nearby sound of ominous chanting.
A Word Wall! The new shout apparently lets you swing your weapon faster, something that could come in handy for an axelady like our John, so she spends a dragon soul on unlocking it, figuring dragons are a dime a dozen in these parts.
Moving along, who should she see but those two wacky Redguards again! They are hassling a Redguard woman, thinking she may be the one they are searching for, but she doesn't have a scar so they decide they have the wrong woman.
Having come to this decision, they turn around and sprint away to fight a giant spider, presumably having detected it with their psychic powers, as it was a few hundred metres away across the road, up a slope and behind a tree at the time.Spider sense tingling!
John leaves them to it, and heads down the road to a nearby village, where a bloke is complaining that soldiers of the Empire passing through recently on their way to fight the Stormcloaks stole his wood and tried to rape his daughter.
That's not very supportive of our troops! Clearly, he hates freedom.
Bored of wandering around watching other people fight spiders, John heads to the bar, where those Redguards have turned up again, although now they are chugging beers instead of interrogating passersby. The innkeeper has a lead on some work, and tells John to head to Broken Oar Grotto and kill everyone. She even provides detailed directions.
"You can't miss it! Just hang a left at the two ravenous sabre cats..."
"...then head straight down the vertical cliff!"
OnStar, eat your heart out.
Just as night is falling, John finally arrives at Broken Oar Grotto.
Inside, it is decked out like a jolly pirate cave, with canals, boats and barrels of loot. Getting into the piratical spirit, John brutally slaughters a couple of corsairs and steals their stuff, including a rad horned helmet.
And then sets the kitchen on fire.
Journeying onwards, she comes across a boat that has been partially converted into a house. The target is inside, and John can't get a clear shot. A distraction is needed.
Well, what do we have here? A large pool of oil on the ground? Don't they know that's a serious violation of workplace safety rules?
I mean, if someone were to shoot an arrow into that hanging lantern... whoops!
One pirate, apparently suspecting a trick, runs straight into the pool of fire for a closer look, which works out for him about as well as you might expect. The others all charge John single file, allowing some elemental blasts from Wabbajack to make short work of them.
And it's all over bar the looting. One thing that turns up is the captain's journal, containing some interesting information about our friend Jaree-Ra.
It also reveals the location of the captain's hidden stash, which John swims down to retrieve.
The pirates are dead, the cave thoroughly looted. Since it's a nice night, John strolls back to Solitude along the coast, finding such curiosities as an underwater rabbit and about half a dozen Nirnroots. She also walks past the lighthouse, marking it on the map in case she ever needs to instantaneously teleport there and take up Jaree-Ra on his job offer, although now that all his friends are dead at her hands that one may be off the table.
Parked up next to the lighthouse is a boat, that upon closer investigation is also brimming over with pirates. Solitude has some pretty lax security, but I guess that's what you get when you rely on hiring psychopathic nomads for any law enforcement needed outside the city gates.
John decides that, since the Broken Oar Grotto caper went pretty swimmingly, she can clean up this one on the house, and proceeds to "axe" the pirates a few questions.
By which I mean she splits their heads open with her axe! Ha ha!
John catches a few hours kip in a recently de-owned bed, and after a quick Titanic
...it's time to level up. Considering the workout she's just given her axe-swingin' skills, it makes sense to put a perk into the "axe murder" skill tree.
Back in town, and the word on everyone's lips is that Pinemoon Cave is absolutely crawling with vampires.
No worries, I'll make a note to steer clear. Just let me collect my measly bounty off ol' Beardface, and have a quick chat to the court wizard, and... what's that, you say?
It's not like I had anything better to do. John sells off some excess crap and prepares to hit the road. Halfway through town, a courier turns up, bearing a letter from who else but Falk Firebeard.
Right. You couldn't have mentioned this when I was in there grabbing the bounty off you like two minutes ago? Whatever, there's vampires to kill.
Before heading out, John decides to try out some of those potion ideas she had when eating bits of insect for brekkie, and heads to the alchemy store. The woman behind the counter wants some help finding her daughter, who she hasn't heard from in a while. Well, you know, lady, maybe she's not talking to you because she's embarrassed that her mum wears a Genghis Khan hat to work every day.
John leaves her to stew in that sick burn, and gets to work on the chemistry set. Breaking Bad it ain't, but she manages to come up with a delightful variety of potions and poisons for all occasions.
Just before leaving town, John gives a coin to a beggar, who asks her to retrieve his old helmet that he lost in a cave. Sure buddy, I'll put it on the list, but I'm a busy woman. Got vampires to kill and estranged daughters to reunite with Mongol warlords.
On the road to Pinemoon Cave, and John runs into a farmer, who is heading off to join the Stormcloaks. I'm sure he'll fit right in to their Nordic-supremacist ranks!
At Pinemoon Cave, John starts off by asking the first person she meets for the location of the head vampire, but he is stubborn and uncommunicative.
John starts off trying out a stealthy approach, skulking in the shadows and sniping some vampire spawn. It's effective, but for the Master himself, it's back to the tried-and-true method of yelling in his face and then hitting him with a big axe.
Equally tried-and-true is stealing everyone's clothes after murdering them.
Home improvement tip: try lightening up the place with some tastefully arranged eyeballs, hands, and skulls!
It's getting late at night, so after reading an Illusion skill book, John settles down for a well-earned sleep in a nearby bed.
Waking up the next day, John checks her map and sees that Beggardude's lost helmet is in a cave on the way back to Solitude. Should be easy enough to swing by and pick it up.
The journey has a few interesting interludes, such as a spider that is inexplicably carrying around a perfectly cut gemstone...
...a diseased refugee who entreats John to go and talk to his cult leader...
...and the Steed Stone! The ability to carry 100 extra pounds of useless shit and not be encumbered by armour? Yes please!
John is so invigorated by this that she runs straight down another cliff face.
OK, now to grab this lost helmet and get out of here. The cave looks nice enough - trees, rabbits running around and even a pool full of salmon!
OK, so there's a few wolves to fight, nothing too ba... HOLY CRAP SPRIGGAN AND A SABRE CAT OH SHIT
Phew, a couple of blasts from Wabbajack luckily disintegrated them both instantly! A good thing too, since those guys are pretty tough at this level. John proceeds cautiously on...
...only to encounter three more Spriggan around the corner. After a furious melee, with Wabbajack blasting away turning Spriggan into mudcrabs, Dremora and Talos knows what, John frantically guzzling potions and Spriggan attacking from all directions, John finally prevails, smashing the last Spriggan over the head with a warhammer.
However, the battle was not without cost.
OK. Now it's personal.
However, John must temper her desire for bloody vengeance with the fact that Wabbajack is out of charges, potions are running low, and Spriggan and sabre cats are way out of her league. This is going to require stealth. She must sneak up on them, silent but deadly, like a ninja, or a... let's just go with ninja.
The plan thus formed and the need for stealth paramount, she immediately sets off a landslide.
Luckily Kynareth has not seen fit to bless the Spriggan with senses any more acute then your average Metal Gear Solid guard, and they suspect nothing. There are three more, and a sabre cat. It now becomes a game of sneak up and take aim...
...loose the arrow and run and hide behind a rock while they look for you...
...and repeat as necessary.
Complicating this is the fact that once the Spriggan get below a certain amount of health, they regenerate, meaning you need to drop them in one hit at that point. However, the amount of damage needed is more than one arrow does.
Gee, good thing someone just made a shitload of poison, huh?
All the hiding is doing wonders for John's sneak skill, which has gone up about 6 points during all this, meaning it's time for another level up!
An archery perk! Say hello to my little friend! How'd you like them apples, Spriggan?
That's what I thought.
Now, earlier in the fight John had winged the sabre cat, but it is now nowhere to be seen. Presumably the Spriggan took pity on it and humanely put it down. Fine by John. Now she can retrieve the helmet from this chest and get the hell out of Dodge.
The chest and environs also contain some other goodies, including a Dwarven bow that does double the damage of John's current one. Would have come in handy a bit earlier.
John grabs the skanky old helmet and leaves the Cave of Doom behind her, sparing a moment to pull an arrow out of Meeko's corpse. Oops. Must have been a bit of friendly fire there, old pal. Now to get back to Solitude and see what Noster is going to give in return for this helmet.
John suppresses the urge to beat him to death with his newly-returned helmet, and drags herself up to the palace to inform Sybille that she has completed her Buffy impersonation assignment. A slightly greater reward is at hand for this task, as John receives a gold ring AND one point of Illusion skill!
Now what was Falk wanting to talk about?
Just the usual - Wolf Queen's unbound spirit roaming the earth, death and doom, go talk to the emo priest to figure out what to do about it. Same old, same old.
But the fate of the world can wait. It's been a tough couple of days. John's annoying dog is dead. Time to hit the Winking Skeever, slam a brew, and fall asleep fully armoured.
SHUT UP BARD, SOME OF US ARE TRYING TO SLEEP