Continued from Dispatch 04 - In the Jarl's Court.
18th of Last Seed, 201 4E.
I am not a morning person, but eventually the busy noises from the Bannered Mare's common room below me forced me awake. I had an expedition into a dangerous ruin to plan, and I realized I needed henchmen - henchmen loyal enough to stand between me and whatever monstrosity might be found in there, as well as strong enough to carry all my stuff. But where to find them?
Well, the inn I was in seemed like a good enough starting point, as shifty folks like henchmen tend to gather in such places. But the first heavily armed person I talked to wasn't interested, a mercenary demanded 500 septims (and I had only managed to loot 103 back in Helgen), and an initially belligerent warrior woman had a nervous breakdown as she relives accidentally killing a fellow would-be Companion during one of their initiation rites. In the other pub, the Drunken Huntsman in town I find a Dunmer woman in war paint who seems to enjoy killing combat and killing a little too much for my tastes - but at least she probably won't betray me for the sake of money alone like other mercenaries. Alas, she too demands 500 septims up front.
No choice - I need to scrounge up the money somehow. I start by selling my excess weapons and armor (which brings me to 183 septims) with the blacksmith I had seen before - she is the daughter of the local Steward (the one who argued for excessive caution in front of the Jarl) and asks me to bring a new blade to him so that he can present it to the Jarl as a gift. I agree - perhaps I can use the opportunity talk the Steward into loaning me some money, as my own letters of credit have likely burned in Helgen.
Selling the rest of my loot to a shifty-looking Breton at the general store, I reach 328 septims - still not enough. The Steward gives me 20 septims for my trouble - still not enough. Then I hit on a desperate idea...
I had seen an Alchemist's shop at the marketplace. As luck would have it, the proprietor is a woman from Cyrodiil about my age, and by putting on my best charm I manage to convince that I am a trained alchemist (true enough - a few basic courses at the Imperial University and a lot of self-experimentation) down on his luck - perhaps I could use her alchemy lab to mix up some potions and sell them to her?
She agrees, so now I need some ingredients. Time for a field trip to the surrounding areas to gather supplies!
The weather is miserable, but I push myself onward. I plan to travel circumnavigate the city once - hopefully that will give me what I need. As luck would have it, a guard outpost to the north of the city was being attacked by bandits just as I went past - for helping with downing one of the bandits, I was allowed to take some of their gear. And at turned out, one of the bandits had a moonstone circlet adorned with sapphires! I managed to take it before the guards noticed - if I can sell that (and the storekeeper didn't give me the impression he'd ask too many questions), I should have enough.
But I didn't want to return the way I came and continued to circle the city walls, when I saw it - a bandit camp right outside the northwestern walls, built into the cover of a small cave as far as I could determine from my vantage point. Fortunately, I saw them before they saw me, and they didn't have a lookout on the ridge above them where I sneaked past them (presumably they didn't want to be seen from the city walls), but their boldness still surprised me. Or were they smugglers?
That mystery would have to wait for later. I return to Whiterun and sell my fresh loot, bringing my total funds to 584 septims - not much (I've spent more on some of my more spectacular binges), but enough to hire a mercenary and a few nights at the inn. But I still need to do something with the alchemical supplies I have gathered.
Looking at my bag, I have samples of various types of mountain flowers, lavender, tundra cotton, and even some Nirnroot! Unfortunately, I have no idea what any of them do - even the same plant species might have different effects when growing in different provinces. So I resort to the time-honed techniques of tasting some of the samples.
I probably should have waited some more between tasting different samples. But once my vision clears again, I know enough to make some potions for resisting magic. After that, I experiment further by mixing other ingredients together, and identify a combination of lavender and blue mountain flowers that should boost a mage's summonings. Arcadia mutters "Interesting..." under her breath, and I wonder if she was ever fooled by my act. But she buys all my home-brewed potions for another 162 septims without complaint. I should probably keep on gathering ingredients, at least until my cash flow improves...
And with that, I hire Jenassa, the Dunmer mercenary. I wonder how long she will last...
Continued in Dispatch 06 - Bleak Falls Barrow.