Sunday, May 25, 2014

[Skyrim] Black Horse Dispatches 09 - The Road to High Hrothgar

Continued from Dispatch 08 - Bandits Horribly Slaughtered by Well-Armed Travelers.

Now, whatever you can say about the roads of Cyrodiil, they are relatively safe. Why, you can only expect to be held up by armed bandits once or twice during any given journey! In Skyrim, you do not only have the bandits, but also skirmishes between Stormcloak rebels and some kind of necromancer coven, strange people spitting jets of poison from their mouths, trolls, more necromancers, and, of course, dragons - although this one at least did not spot us this time. And all that before we even reached Ivarstead!

But not all roadside encounters were people or things out to kill us. Sometimes, the people or things had been out to kill someone else first and then vanished into the thin underground, only leaving the grisly remains of their kills behind. Such was the case when we left the main road and started to climb up a small path to Ivarstead - we found two corpses attired in the bizarre garb of the Forsworn, still familiar after all those years.

Forsworn, for those of my readers who are unfamiliar with the history of western Skyrim, see themselves as rebels against Nord oppression of their native homeland - the Reach. A generation ago, they actually managed to overthrow the Nords for a time before... but I digress. From what I've heard, they have become more and more desperate and brutal since then - but finding them this far east, this far away from the Reach was certainly unusual enough to merit my attention.

There was a cave nearby, where bloody skulls had been impaled to scare away intruders, but of course that didn't stop brave investigators of the Truth like us. Inside we saw two bandits fighting with... a werewolf? What was a werewolf doing here? Had it come with the Forsworn? And if so, are the Forsworn now deliberately recruiting werewolves for their ranks?

Sadly, when we investigated the rest of the cave system no answers were forthcoming. Apparently the bandits had discovered an old, hidden fortress, and made their home there. They had also started to cage various animals, although only a sabre cat was still alive when we reached the cages. But there were no hints about their actual goals, or what their connection to werewolves or the Forsworn was.

As night fell, we finally reached Ivarstead, which was currently under attack - first by a trio of crazed mages and then a frenzied bear charged into town as well (frenzied by an illusion spell?). The locals seemed to need little help in putting them down, however - Nords are a tough breed, but I guess they have to be.

We holed up in Vilemyr inn for the night, and I asked the locals about the path to High Hrothgar. One Klimmek allegedly went up on it on a regular basis, but he wasn't at the inn - I would have to hunt him down the next morning. The inn's proprietor also warned me about the "haunted barrow" overlooking the town, claiming to have seen a spectre with his own eyes. But after Bleak Falls Barrows I feel no need to delve into another one.

21st of Last Seed, 4E 201.

Klimmek was up early. As it turned out, he had never been in High Hrothgar itself, only leaving supplies outside it. He did not even get paid for this service, believing that this would be "wrong" to demand payment from the Greybeards. Allegedly they could kill with a single word, which may have been part of the reasons for his reluctance, although he really did seem to hold them in reverence. Since I was heading there anyway, I promised to bring his food supplies there for him. He said he never encountered anything more dangerous than some wolves, but told me to watch out for slippery ice.

As we ascended the path, we spotted stone tablets with inscriptions along it:

I: "Before the birth of men, the Dragons ruled all Mundus; Their word was the Voice, and they spoke only for True Needs; For the Voice could blot out the sky and flood the land."

A giant spider ambushed us.

II: "Men were born and spread over the face of Mundus; The Dragons presided over the crawling masses; Men were weak then, and had no Voice."

Wolves this time, with white fur adapted to the colder climate at these heights.

III: "The fledgling spirits of Men were strong in Old Times; Unafraid to war with Dragons and their Voices; But the Dragons only shouted them down and broke their hearts."

Ah. Another reference to the Dragon War. The plot thickens.

IV: "Kyne called on Paarthurnax, who pitied Man; Together they taught Men to use the Voice; Then Dragon War raged, Dragon against Tongue."

Another dragon appeared from the south. A strange woman warrior clad in skimpy pink armor who had been meditating on the fourth tablet charged it and disappeared behind a ridge. The rest of us used this distraction to move on, but we ran into a white-furred troll in a small canyon.

V: "Man prevailed, shouting Alduin out of the world; Proving for all that their Voice too was strong; Although their sacrifices were many-fold."

Who was Paarthurnax? Who was Alduin? And how did they "shout him out of the world"?

VI: "With roaring Tongues, the Sky-Children conquer; Founding the First Empire with Sword and Voice; Whilst the Dragons withdrew from this World."

The snow began to fall in earnest.

VII: "The Tongues at Red Mountain went away humbled; Jurgen Windcaller began His Seven Year Meditation; To understand how Strong Voices could fail."

Red Mountain... wasn't there a major battle involving a Nord invasion? I will have to read that up.

VIII: "Jurgen Windcaller chose silence and returned; The 17 disputants could not shout Him down; Jurgen the Calm built His home on the Throat of the World."

Logically, this home would be High Hrothgar.

IX: "For years all silent, the Greybeards spoke one name; Tiber Septim, stripling then, was summoned to Hrothgar; They blessed and named him Dovahkiin."

That's the word that both the dragon said and the Greybeards shouted from the mountain. Dovahkiin =  Dragonborn?

X: "The Voice is worship; Follow the Inner path; Speak only in True Need."

Now High Hrothgar was directly in front of me. I was cold, I was miserable, and I was desperate in need of answers. Hopefully, these Greybeards will have some for me.

Continued in Dispatch 10 - The Way of Shouting.

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