I take my first few steps into Embershard Mine in search of an amulet for a hot Khajiit warrior who wasn’t sure he could retrieve it himself. Waaait a second…

Having seen more of the surface world, I understand better why black-robed types would live underground.

It’s… nice. Dry, at least. And the darkness makes it good for sneaking. I cleverly evade a tripwire in the first passage and then hear a couple of bandits chatting up ahead.

Ooh, mushrooms!

Concentrate, Mu. I put out a few torches to make it even darker and I’m surprised to find I have night vision.

It figures. I’m a cat for a week and a half before I remember they can see in the dark.

It’s weird. Not much different than regular vision, but things are clearer and I’m not worried about missing more traps. I do need to be careful of those bandits, though.

There’s a drawbridge walkway that must have a lever somewhere. Time to scout around. I find a skeleton and a journal that reveals they were forcing someone to mine down here. Jerks! No Mu–no revenge. Bad. I put out all the torches I can and find the lever that lowers the drawbridge. Imagine: a mine with a drawbridge. Spiffy.

A bandit comes along as I’m pulling the lever but I snuggle up to the wall and he doesn’t see me. I really, really want to pick his pocket. NO, MU. NO.

Nice mace. I’m going to let you keep it. I’m that benevolent.

Phew. Close one.

I cross the bridge and I’m feeling pretty good about it all when I find the spot I know the amulet will be. The best, most impressive looking chest in the place, closely guarded.

Why haven’t you installed the sign that says: Best Loot Right Here!

Hmm. Hmm hmm. I sneak up to the cage, amazed that I can do it. I pick the lock and tip-toe inside and find Kharjo’s amulet inside the impressive chest. It’s all I take. I’m not looting, I’m recovering.

Then the bandit realizes what’s happened and attacks. It’s a quick fight, me slashing desperately at her heels while I try to remain stealthy, and her waving her sword around in the dark. Finally she falls. I’m still holding tight to the amulet. Now I have a choice.

Go back the way I came, where I know I can sneak by, or head further into the mine for whatever else awaits, good or bad?

What am I, some kind of hero? I go back the way I came.

Mu triumphant. Not too triumphant. Just triumphant enough.

Hooray, daylight! Hooray, success! I have done what I set out to do, and no more. I feel great about it. It’s not quite supper time so I think I can get back to Helgen and a place to sleep before night. I start out.

On the road back I see some elves in armor. Thalmor, I think. I consider saying hello, but they do look awfully busy. And then they attack. Of course they do.

All three of them!

And one throws fire balls!

Forget this! I run. They follow. When I’m out of breath I slurp a couple of the stamina potions I made ages ago. It helps! I’m afraid to look back until I reach Helgen, and then the elves are nowhere to be seen.

I don’t know what I could have done to piss off the Thalmor, too, but clearly I did something. I guess everyone is after me now.

I shut Helgen’s big gate just to feel a little safer.

It’s not yet night so I explore the grounds. Still totally abandoned, and finally the ashes are cold. This is the place Sheogorath threw me when I refused his offer. This is where the dragon attacked and set me free. Strange how everyone in Skyrim is afraid of dragons, yet I feel more or less thankful toward them. One, anyway.

I’m definitely the only one here. Tonight, this is Muville.

I practice slashing my claws with a dummy.

Snickety-snick.

And archery with a target.

Twang.

I use my new dagger on a stick man.

Stabity-stab.

And poke through the ruins to see what else I can find. I find a terrific view.

I bet every jerk from here to Windhelm can see me standing up here.

And I find some mead I’ve never heard of before: mead with juniper berry. I wonder what it’s like?

When night falls I admit I get a bit spooked. I go around and make sure all the big gates in town are closed, as if I’m the official caretaker. Then I peek inside the keep where Hadvar and I ran during the escape. It looks about the same. I find a book, Mixed Unit Tactics, which doesn’t teach me anything but is a good read nonetheless. I settle in for the night listening to the creaking of an empty keep, reminding myself that this is what I chose: last night I was in a farm with friends, and tonight I’m a wanderer, alone. I chose this.

The mead with juniper is an excellent companion, but I wouldn’t recommend it every night. I feel a little loopy. Ye gods, it’s huge!

Advertisements