The Empire of Tamriel is on the edge. The High King of Skyrim has been murdered. Alliances form as claims to the throne are made. In the midst of this conflict, a far more dangerous, ancient evil is awakened. Dragons, long lost to the passages of the Elder Scrolls, have returned to Tamriel. The future of Skyrim, even the Empire itself, hangs in the balance as they wait for the prophesized Dragonborn to come; a hero born with the power of The Voice and, as it is commonly said, the only one who can stand amongst the dragons. But true heroes appear in the most unlikely of places, and are nearly never those expected for greatness.
Shrugging off the shouting as the misguided hijinks of a beggar who’s somehow managed to get his hands on an Imperial war horn, you close your eyes and fall sharply back into your usual uncomfortable slumber.
The following morning you’re able to collect an extra two beets more than usual (two whole beets!), allowing you to choose one day next week to live like royalty and savor two meals not made entirely of beets.
Things seem to be moving along as they always did, or perhaps just a tiny bit better (though its difficult to tell) for the following two weeks. That is until your Uncle Mortimer shows up at your doorstep for lunch. There are only two problems with this. One, your Uncle Mortimer has been dead for fifteen years, and two, it seems he thinks the lunch is supposed to be you. As you’re slowly munched into his tummy, you can’t help but wonder where in Oblivion this zombie came from, and if it’s sudden appearance had anything to do with that strange shouting you heard two Middases past.
Mike Kayatta is a contributing news writer for The Escapist and the author of John Gone. Paul Goodman is a loyal editorial assistant at The Escapist. Together, they fight crime.
This is it. This is really it! you think merrily, throwing on your best set of pants. So they’re your only set of pants–no one has to know. You do your best to add dirt to the clean bits (there’s no hope of cleaning them, best just be consistent), pull them up your legs and bound outside, ready for destiny to whirl you away to whatever lies ahead in your bright, if unclear, future.
As you step outside, you’re greeted by Pug’mir, your neighbor. He’s a nasty bog stump of a Nord, and his bottom lip is hanging down just low enough for one of the many flying insects around to slip past into his mouth. You wouldn’t be surprised if that was on purpose. A tasty breakfast is hard to come by in your small nameless village … even for Pug’Mir.
“Oye, you,” he says gruffly.
You turn away and do your best to ignore him.
“You know you’re not allowed on my property, milk drinker,” he yells after you.
“It’s not my fault that my property line ends at the border of my hut,” you say quickly without looking back, hoping to break free of this conversation and carry on toward the mysterious shouting with haste. “I can’t physically leave my hut without trespassing somewhere.”
“Not my fault, neither,” he grunts. “But the law’s the law.” He steps aggresively toward you.
You take a step back from him and look to the dirt road behind you. Suddenly, the cheese cart that travels past your village to Riverwood each morning is wheeling past, and without thinking you grab onto its back and swing into its bed among a stock of Limburger and Brie. What luck! You wave a smarmy goodbye to an annoyed-looking Pug’mir, and choose a comfortable wheel of Gouda to sit on for the short ride to Riverwood. As your angry neighbor and indistinct village slowly shrink into the distance behind you, so do your thoughts of them.
Soon, the cart jolts to a sharp stop, waking you from the nap you hadn’t realized you’d been taking.
“Looks like troll work to me. Ghastly, just ghastly,” you hear the driver exclaim. Careful to keep your head down, lest the man realize he’d taxied you to Riverwood without fare, you dismount the cart with a handful of Gruyere in your pocket for later. Your feet drop loudly in a puddle near the back wheel, but the driver doesn’t hear it. His gaze is fixed ahead, stonily glued to what you soon realize is a mess of an elf, her body mangled and shredded well beyond what you’d recognize as good health. You hold your nostrils closed to avoid the stink as you softly approach.
The townsfolk have already begun to circle the poor elfin woman, some huffing and muttering “well, I never!”s , while others just cry
A guard nearby begins to speak, maybe to himself , maybe to you. “Third one this week, poor girl. Those dragons, methinks. I earn every septim of pay, but not for this I don’t.” He makes a sound somewhere between a sigh and chuckle as he spins on his heel and ambles back to town.
How terrible, you think. Even the guards won’t look into this poor girl’s death, it seems. You look over to the woman wailing louder than the others. Probably the mother, you consider. Poor soul.
Just because the guards are unwilling to look into things doesn’t mean that it falls on you. After all, you’re not even a citizen of Riverwood. You’re a citizen of … of … actually, you’re pretty sure the small collection of huts and farms you call home doesn’t have a name, but this girl’s death isn’t your problem all the same.
Following the sounds of your destiny’s call, you move toward the base of the nearby mountain, High Hrothgar, and look up to its peak. Is that shouting really coming from all the way up there? What a hassle. Suddenly, a strange noise breaks your concentration, and what may have been a giant paw slaps you across the face.
You spill to the ground, disoriented. Looming menacingly above you is an angry-looking frost troll, ragged and fearless. Up until now you’ve only heard stories of the fell beasts. Perhaps this is the creature that was killing the townsfolk? Regardless, this situation is way over your head.
You decide that the poor girl lying on the ground in front of you, more jumbled spaghetti now than elf, deserves more than to be forgotten in the snow. Plus, she’s the third in what can now be considered a string of murders, and who knows which poor Riverwood denizen would be next if someone didn’t take the time to get to the bottom of things.
You begin your investigation by asking questions of the townsfolk. It’s not long before you discover the identity of the first victim, a young Argonian fisherman named Jaree-Ja. A few more questions later lead you to learn of Meen-Sa, another Argonian, this one a champion swimmer. Now for the difficult part; you approach the mother of the recently deceased to learn of her daughter’s life leading up to her death.
The woman doesn’t say much about her other than her name, Anya, and that she held apprenticeship as a carpenter. Apparently, she was working on her latest assignment, a small boat for the Jarl, when her body was found. Suddenly, the common thread between victims strikes you. Water!
You grab Anya’s mother by the shoulders and shake her. “Where’s the nearest lake?” you exclaim.
She tells you of Lake Forlorn, a small body just north of the town blacksmith. You arrive there soon after, and scan the surrounding area. It’s not long before you notice what looks like the opening of a cave hidden behind a pair of shrubs.
You make your way inside, and quickly slap your hand across your face to block the stench from your poor nose. There are three more bodies inside, two fresh, one … not so much. You examine the bones. Most have been picked clean. You notice fractures covering the clavicle and ribs.
The guard was right. This is the work of a dragon.
The driver was right. This is the work of a troll.
Not sure of with what to start, you puff up your body and attempt to look larger than you are. It’s a trick you learned from your mother to frighten cave bears. Of course, it clearly didn’t work on the one that ate her, but it worked for you once, and a 50% chance is better than nothing.
The troll looks at you curiously before also puffing his body up. With both of you now equally puffed, you find the size discrepancy right back where you started. The troll growls, and a small trickle of blood rolls from his chin to the breeze, and lightly splashes against your face. Quickly losing options, you raise your fists and attempt to summon what courage you have.
Uppercut! That’s a thing, right?
Drop your fists and try to talk it down instead.
These bones are much too clean for a dragon’s doing. You’ve not had much experience with the flying lizards, but you can assume that they likely eat their victims in a single chomp, not having the time or interest in cleanly parsing flesh from bone. No, this looks much more like the work of a troll.
You head for the city and find the guard whom you’d earlier seen leave the crime scene at the nearest inn downing some dark local brew from a frosted stein. He seems offended and ashamed that you led an investigation into the deaths of his countrymen without him. Clearly drunk, but finally motivated, he grabs you by the arm and drags you behind him out of the bar.
You circle the town with the guard at your side, but fail to find the offending troll, if there is one at all.
“Here trolly, trolly, trolly,” the man slurs drunkenly.
You tug on the chainmail of his sleeve. “Perhaps you shouldn’t–“
“I flurgfa–uh–know what I’m a’doin’!” he yells back, pulling his arm gruffly from your touch. “Here trolly, trolly, trolly!”
To your imminent surprise (and also the guard’s) a giant frost troll suddenly appears from behind a nearby house. It’s the largest one you’ve ever seen. Well, to be fair, it’s the only you’ve ever seen, but still … damn that thing is big. You look behind you. A large tree stands between you and the rest of Riverwood. Escape doesn’t seem to be an option. Stupid tree. You look back to the guard. He’s gone. Did he run while you were turned away?
A bone dripping with troll slobber lands in the light layer of snow beneath your feet in front of you. You think you recognize it as having once belonged to the guard. Yes, come to think of it, that was about the size of his thigh, you think. Unfortunately for you, it now seems like you’re going to have to deal with this troll on your own.
Steady your nerves and focus.
You stumble to your feet and head for the nearest building, yelling “Guards!” as you sprint. Your top speed isn’t exactly of Olympic quality, and you don’t make it far before the beast is upon you, tackling you from behind and launching your body into the air. As you sail toward a particularly jagged-looking rock a few meters ahead, you consider how nice it would have been to have finally reached the great destiny for which you’ve been yearning. Oh well, at least you died as an adventurer, not a beet miner. Your Uncle Mortimer would have been proud.
Mike Kayatta is a contributing news writer for The Escapist and the author of John Gone. Paul Goodman is a loyal editorial assistant at The Escapist. Together, they fight crime.
You hold your breath and tuck your body forward into a roll, hoping the troll would never expect you to make such a daring, unexpected move. Your gambit pays off, but only for a moment. The beast is easily your athletic superior on every measurable level, and it isn’t long before it catches you by the arm.
The creature pulls, and you spin around, eventually wiggling free of its grip, but now aimed back toward the center of town. At least you would be pointed at the center of town if not for the gigantic tree rooted squarely in front of you. You’re cornered. Stupid tree. You turn and see the troll approaching. You’re going to have to deal with it one way or another.
Steady your nerves and focus.
“Um, hello, uh–” you stammer as the creature advances. “Actually, I’ve always liked trolls. Always defended them when they’ve come up in dinner conversation, you know.” It takes another step. “They don’t actually attack, murder, and eat people, I always say to folk. I mean, that’s just superstition, after all.” You chuckle nervously, and the troll raises a claw to strike you. This is the end.
Your life flashes before your eyes. The whole process lasts approximately two seconds, one of which was just an image of beets. The other, perhaps more interesting, was those idiotic words scrawled across your footboard: MEEP MERP MUUU. You’ve always heard that mages command their magics by speaking the words of incantations with an inhuman strength of passion, and if there was ever a moment you’d be able to draw power from those words without formal training, it’s now.
You take a deep breath and prepare to shout the words with every modicum of might sewn through your very soul. Much to your disappointment, your soul is currently leased by gripping fear, and the words come out as little more than a whisper. “Meep, Merp, Muuu,” you barely manage.
Suddenly, a spiraling vortex of air, dirt, and snow begins to pull toward your body. The troll looks more surprised than you are. Slowly, his massive body begins to lift and fling toward you. Your knees turn to scrib jelly, and you collapse to the ground mere moments before the troll sails past where your head just was. You hear a loud crunch at your back and nervously look behind you. The troll’s body is scrawled across the tree that had stuck you here, bloodied and broken. It slides down the bark and flops lifelessly on top of you.
It takes a bit of time to worm your way out from under the monster’s weight, but offers you some time to think. What happened just now? Did those words finally work?
You struggle to your feet, place the troll’s arm over your right shoulder and begin to drag his corpse into Riverwood proper. Regardless of how it happened, you’ve just done something amazing, and the town, the guards, and by Oblivion, even the Jarl himself must know about it!
Collect your well-deserved praise from an adoring crowd!
You thrust your right fist upward at the troll’s jaw, and to your own surprise, connect! Sadly, the troll doesn’t budge, and you’re fairly certain that you’ve managed to hurt your hand much worse than you’ve managed to hurt your opponent’s mandible.
The beast eyes you quizzically and soon mimics your actions, lifting his large hands as rolled fists to the front of his body. You return to stance and try a left hook. He deftly dodges and sends a light jab to the side of your stomach. Oof, that hurt, but nothing’s broken.
A few punches later, it hits you. You’re boxing a frost troll! This is actually sort of fun!
The troll eats you.
Mike Kayatta is a contributing news writer for The Escapist and the author of John Gone. Paul Goodman is a loyal editorial assistant at The Escapist. Together, they fight crime.
You’ve never seen a dragon, let alone the aftermath of one, but you’re fairly certain that dragons are rather violent, and this seems like a good bit of violence, plain and simple.
You head for the city and find the guard you’d earlier seen leaving the crime scene at the nearest inn downing some dark local brew. He seems offended and ashamed that you led an investigation into the deaths of his countrymen without him. Clearly drunk, but finally motivated, he grabs you by the arm and drags you behind him out of the bar.
It takes some time, but eventually you reach a tall hill, the same hill, the guard claims, that a dragon had recently taken roost upon. Not sure if you believe him, and suddenly terribly curious, you climb the steep rise to its top.
Interesting. Yes, there is indeed a dragon up here, is the last thought that runs through your head before it lifts from your body and tumbles down the lengthy esophagus of a dragon’s neck.
It’s the first heroic thing you’ve accomplished in your life, and not one person seems to care. At first, you try to act adorably coy, slinging nary more than a ho-hum expression and shrug of your shoulders at passersby, hoping the hulking frost troll corpse beneath your boot will do most of the work for you. When that doesn’t work you try a more forward approach. “Hey,” you say to a passing merchant, playfully placing your hand on her shoulder, “so I killed this frost troll that was menacing the city. No big thing really, I just thought you–” She coldly jerks her arm from your hold and continues her hurried walk toward the center of town.
Actually, that seems to be where everyone’s headed. What’s going on over there, anyway? It must be something quite impressive indeed to overshadow the recent accomplishments of a beet miner turned troll slayer!
You wait a few moments more before sadly releasing the monster’s arm from your grasp to the ground below. You stomp toward where the crowds are gathered, and grumpily push your way through a tightly packed teem of cheering peasants to see what in Tamriel could be eating so much of the townsfolk’s attention.
Standing in the circle’s center with a dragon’s skull stowed casually beneath his massive bicep is a tower of man, smugly waving at the adoring crowds surrounding him, an obnoxious double-horned helmet cocked fashionably atop his head.
Suddenly, the same shouting that woke you earlier echoes loudly down from the top of the nearby mountain. “Dovahkiin!” it booms, shaking the ground at your heels and moving the sky to thunder.
“Excuse me good townmen,” the man in the helmet suddenly exclaims, “but I believe that’s my cue to leave.”
“No, it’s not!” you yell, trying to edge your face above the pair of tall shoulders clasped tightly together in front of you. “That shout’s for me! I’m the dova-thing!” No one can hear you over the excited murmuring of the large crowd. They cheer, they clap, and they part like the sea from the helmeted man’s way as he dashes to the mountain.
Suddenly worried he means to steal your fate, you run after him, only to be stopped a moment later by a short, ragged man with a dirt-caked face. “Do not follow the Dovahkiin,” he says to your ear. “You have a destiny, my dear child, but dragon born you are not.”
As you start a reply, the man opens his mouth a screams an ear-piercing string of absolute gibberish. “Oh, sorry about that,” he says through a crooked smile. “Happens sometimes. Now, follow me please.” You notice a dagger half-hidden beneath the sash he wears around his waist.
He turns and walks toward a nearby hut. It somehow looks to be in even greater disrepair than the home you left behind. You look back to the helmeted man, already gone from sight up the base of the mountain. If you don’t follow him now, you may never catch him.
Follow the man who thinks himself Dovahkiin.
Follow the dirty man.
You make your way back to Whiterun to visit the Jarl. He, nor anyone but the Cleanshaven and Alduin the turtle, will ever know the importance of your deeds, but perhaps you can find just recognition for something else.
This time when you appear at court, there is no wait. The Jarl agrees to see you immediately. You tell the man of the library above his city, and the last remaining Snow Elf that you found serving as its keeper. You speak of the endless knowledge stored in its halls, and of the power and wealth one might gain by discovering a practical way of coming and going.
The Jarl listens to your tale with great interest, his eyes widening and his smile curling at the prospect of claiming such a powerful institution for Whiterun. As you finish, he wastes no time in proclaiming an expedition to the library as the city’s top priority. Soon, he will call a meeting with the realm’s most prominent mages and engineers to discuss discovering a method to approach the floating ring safely.
In recognition of your adventures, he grants you the title of Archthane, a new political position falling between the other Thanes and the Jarl himself! You’re granted riches, treasure, the largest house in the city, and a friendly hoursecarl named Cynthia.
Years pass as days, and the expedition to the library it seems the world has been waiting for is finally upon you. The Jarl’s team discovered a method of traveling down through a directed portal placed high above the clouds, then repelling on ropes into the building’s windows. It works flawlessly. The treasures and knowledge of the library bring Whiterun an unprecedented renaissance of innovation, wisdom, and peace.
The Jarl grows older with the passing of time, and eventually, at the height of his city’s prosperity, he passes away painlessly in his bed. It’s not long before the Court unanimously nominates you to take his place. You live the rest of your days as the ruler of Whiterun, to be remembered always as its most respected, benevolent, and beloved leader.
You’re not proud of what you’re about to do, but then again you were never proud of your life as a beet miner either. You nod to the man in the cloak, take off your shirt and trousers, and do your best to invent a tune to the words he provided. “We’re merry men of Skyrim, so sturdy and so stout,” you begin softly as you move back into the royal chamber. “When the day is done, when it’s time for fun, we’ll drink and sing and shout.”
You look ahead of you to the Court. None of them seem to have noticed you yet. The cloaked man’s voice somehow travels into your ear though he’s yards behind you. “Louder,” it whispers. “More dancing!”
Nervously, you move your feet into a jig as you continue, gaining volume as you draw ever nearer to the throne. “You weak livered milk drinkers, can let your throats run dry. Cause there’s just one drink that we will sink until the day we die!” you sing.
Finally, one of the servants busy clearing the long dining table at the center of the room looks over and gasps. She drops a silver tray, and it clangs against the polished floor.
Your voice grows louder. You’re finally getting a sense for the tune. “Drinking mead in the halls of Whiterun, the maidens and the men! We swig our brew until we spew, then we fill our mugs again!”
By now you’ve caught the Court’s attention with your naked tomfoolery. The servants are laughing, the Jarl is laughing, even the stuffy court wizard seems to have released one or two guffaws from whatever secret depth he stores them. The only problem is that they aren’t laughing with you; it’s very clear from their tone that they’re laughing at you. The humiliation weighs on your mind like sixteen sets of dragon bones. Each chuckle and chortle brings back every insult, every stinging verbal barb that ever lashed you. You’ve never felt so miserable, and somehow at the same time, so silly in your life. You close your eyes. The laughter stops.
You open your eyes again a moment later, and find yourself and Herbert in a strange forest you don’t recognize. A strange old man stands beside you in bright pink Daedric armor, clapping his hands and smiling.
“Very nice performance!” he exclaims. “Very nice indeed!” He waves the strange stick he holds in his left hand, and a bouquet of red roses appear in your arms.
“Where am I?” you ask sternly, the sting of your naked karaoke still top of mind. “Who are you?”
“I am Sheogorath, of course!” he squeals. “The Prince of something. Yes, yes but of what? Cats, caterpillars, coasters, copulation? No no, not sure why I’m so hung up on the letter C this morning. Oh, I can’t remember my princedom at all. I lied! Madness, yes that’s it. And this is my glorious realm. I’ve no time to spare so I’ll get right to the point. Why is it that the lands are littered with poor, when any beggar could find his riches in any number of crates and barrels scattered across the streetways? Oh, wait. That wasn’t the point at all. Where is that rascally point? Oh, there it is! Caught you, rascally point. The point is that you need access to the library above Whiterun, and I’m going to help you do it. But second, you’ll need to bring me one of three necklaces of power. And first, you’ll need to hear me ask you to bring me one of three necklaces of power! There are but three in Skyrim, and any one will do. They were given to each of the guild leaders. Okay, ta ta, that is all, goodbye!”
“But-” you stutter. Wait a moment, you’re back in Whiterun, fully clothed and standing near the door! Herbert stands to your right with a stoic look plastered across his strange face. He shrugs at you.
All you were able to gather is that you need some sort of necklace from one of Skyrim’s Guild Masters. Well, it’s more information than you had a few minutes ago.
Best to try the Companions first. They’re the closest, and you’ve always felt most at home among warriors.
Best to try the Thieves’ Guild in Riften. You have mounds of experience with theft, after all. It may all be beet theft, but that counts.
Best to try the Mage’s College in Winterhold. You always considered yourself more in touch with the universe than most; perhaps you’ll find luck among the wizards.
You ignore the man, clearly a crackpot of the highest degree, and run after the brute in the horned helmet.
The path up the mountain is snowy and treacherous, and as high up the mountain as you feel you’ve come, there’s still no sign of him. There’s a large stone to the side of the path, and you decide it’s a good a place as any to take a small break and catch your breath for a moment. After all, the man ahead of you is certainly just as tired by now, and probably doing the same at a similar stone just a pebble’s throw up the path.
You lean down and put your hands against the front of your thighs while you gasp for breath. The air is much thinner here than you’re used to. Soon, you hear footsteps. You jerk your head upward, hoping to find the man in the helmet; maybe you passed him in the snow without realizing. Sadly, it’s just a man in torn brown monk’s robes. He has a basket in his hand with a single azure flower at its base.
“Greetings stranger,” he speaks in a low, steady voice as he approaches. “How fare thee?”
You look at him blankly, still panting and exhausted. How does it look like I’m doing! you’re tempted to yell. Instead you stay as quiet as your heavy breaths allow.
“I’m a pilgrim of this path to High Hrothgar,” he says, “in need of four more Blue Mountain Flowers for my monasteries’ ritual on the morrow. Might I ask your assistance in this matter? You seem lost. Perhaps I could point you in the right direction for your troubles.”
Accept the quest and help the monk.
Catch your breath and continue up the mountain.
You agree, and begin scanning the area for blue flowers. After all, helping random strangers with boring tasks always seems to pay off in strange and unpredictable ways, right?
The search continues for hours and hours, and you soon see why the man needed your help in the first place. Night has fallen and you’ve yet to find even one of the plants required for his collection! You’ve had enough, and decide the monk should hear it. First, you’ll need to find him.
You walk back toward the clearing on the path where you met, and see a hazy shape past the howling wind and snow.
“I’m done with this, monk!” you yell. “Find your own flowers!”
Your words are met with silence.
“Are you listening to me?” you exclaim a few moments later. You step forward and quickly realize your mistake. The shape in front of you isn’t the monk at all, only a burly snow bear. At first, you’re annoyed by this unexpected turn of events, but soon get to speak your mind to the monk after all … from within the bear’s large intestine.
You ignore the man’s request and continue up the mountain. After all, who in their right mind would stop everything they’re doing to help a complete stranger collect an arbitrary number of an arbitrary thing? Absolute madness, you think. Anyway, what did he mean, “lost?” It’s a mountain, that fool; there’s only one way to go, and that’s up!
After a long and arduous journey, you make out a large stone structure in the distance. Could this be to where you’ve been travelling? Your knees are wobbling and you may have lost one of your smaller toes to frostbite (what are those really for, anyway?) but you’re here, and your destiny awaits.
Surprised to find a last speck of energy, you excitedly dash up the stairs into the structure at their top. You walk through the stone entryway and immediately overhear a deep voice echoing out from within.
Soon, you’ve arrived in the main chamber, and in front of you, stands the man with the horned helmet surrounded by a semicircle of old men in lengthy, ashen beards. Every one of them seems surprised to see you.
“I made it, you guys,” you say, stumbling into the group. “I’m the dovha-man, or whatever. You called for me this morning? Whew, some hike to get up here, huh? Sheesh!”
The man in the helmet begins to speak, but a quick wrinkled hand to his lips from the robed man beside him quiets his words.
“Welcome,” says the old man. “We are the Greybeards, an ancient and honored order dedicated to wielding and studying what we call the Voice, which is what you must have heard this morning.”
“Okay, great,” you reply, rubbing your hands together. “So who’s this guy? He must have come here by accident, right?” You stick your thumb toward the man in the helmet.
The old man coughs into his hand before speaking. “Actually, child, this man is the one known as Dovahkiin, the Dragon Born, the one for whom we called this morning.”
“Oh,” you manage. “Then I–“
“But,” he interrupts, “perhaps there’s a way for you to help us. We could use a test subj–er–new participant in the ritual you accidentally interrupted. Or, Brother Wolfgar could use your help with his own important project in the back.”
Help Brother Wolfgar
Help with the ritual
You aren’t quite sure what made you decide to travel for weeks to reach Solitude, the heart of Imperial Skyrim and nearly as far away from where you should have gone as you could, but hey, maybe it was the “rebel in you” that your uncle Mortimer was always complaining about. Anyway, someone mentioned something about a Blue Palace being there, and that sounded like it could be sort of neat.
You finish your sightseeing tour of the frozen North and decide that you should get back on track and head to-wait, where were you supposed to be going again? Oh well, you consider, you’ll have ample time to figure that out on the road South.
As you amble merrily down the mountain path you suddenly remember something your mother once said. “You’ve got half a chance gettin’ ate by a bear just crossin’ road to the store.” That’s funny, you think. If you really had a 50% chance of getting attacked by a bear traveling naught a half-mile, then what would be the odds of getting eaten travelling across the country by foot? That musing is your last. A bear soon attacks and eats you. But really, why were you traveling to Solitude in the first place?
You decide to help with the ritual. After all, this is why you climbed the mountain, regardless of whether or not these “greybeard” people recognize your potential. Perhaps if you do a good job, they’ll even realize they have the wrong Dovah-dude.
The leader of the Greybeards instructs you to stand still in front of the man in the helmet.
“Now just as we practiced … from the diaphragm,” he says.
The man in front of you inhales deeply, then shouts “FUS RO DAH!” in a voice louder, and more powerful than you’ve ever heard. Your entire body reacts to the force of it, and soon every inch of you is in pain. You look down to your hands and see nothing but bone. Oh my, it seems you’re being torn apart at the seams. That can’t be good …
You pass on the ceremony; something about it just doesn’t feel right. Instead, you walk slowly to the back room in search of this Wolfgar character with a broken heart. You were sure you heard destiny’s call this morning, and now this, this, hip dragon-killer with a sweet hat gets summoned to hang out with a bunch of monks sporting rockin’ beards while you’re stuck seeking out the B-team for an ignominious task? Oh well, he did say it was important, after all.
You find Wolfgang in the back sweeping leaves from the stone floor into a small dustpan. You ask him what you’re supposed to be working on, but he doesn’t respond. Instead, he hands you a broom. At first, you’re offended, but after the hundredth leaf, you’re actually feeling better than you were when you first came up here. Wolfgang doesn’t speak much, but looking at the sparkle in the old man’s eye tells you that maybe, just maybe, you understand one another on a level deeper than mere words can communicate.
A day passes, and then a week. Soon, you’re given your own robe, your own room, and even your own dustpan! This may not have been the destiny you were hoping for, but it certainly beats mining beets.
You’re not sure why you have the urge to follow this disheveled meddler, but whoever’s up on that mountain top shouting would certainly wait for the one they were calling instead of just recognizing whoever gets up there first. After all, there’s no way you’re going to beat helmet-guy at this point. He’s three times your size and has a great head start. Best to hear this dirty guy out before getting hasty.
You walk behind the strange man into the hut, and are met by six of the dirtiest bunch of milk drinkers you’ve ever laid eyes on and, coming from you, that’s saying something. The only thing odd is the smoothness of their cheeks. Most vagrants, peasants, and farmers have thick wiry beards or, at the very least, signs of ragged stubble.
“We are the Cleanshaven,” the man speaks with an air of authority. “An ancient and honored order dedicated to wielding and studying what we call the Muu’mehmeh, or simply “the Murmur,” in the tongue of man. And I am called Splint.”
“Uh huh … ” you say, taking a step back.
“You, my child,” he continues, “are … The Turtleborn!“
“Uh, the what?” you ask.
It’s clear from the man’s face that he is somewhat disappointed in your reaction.
It’s really not too late to catch that man in the helmet. Head for the mountain!
Hear Splint out.
You scoff condescendingly and throw in a finger wag for good measure. As if following this random troublemaking stranger’s suggestion would realistically get you anywhere other than thrown in a lonely jail cell. Anyway, you’ve just remembered that Whiterun is located next to a mountain. A very tall mountain. And you know else what is very tall? That’s right, the sky.
You leave the city’s border and look for the tallest nearby peak. It’s easy to see for which mountain you’re looking. It’s the only one with a tip that breaks the cloud cover. You walk to its base and stretch. This isn’t going to be easy.
You spend hours upon hours trying to make your way up the mountain. Climbing is a much different experience than you imagined. You’ve spent many a day travelling down into caves after beets, and had imagined that ascending a rock wall would be somehow similar-the harness, the crampons, the ropes-but in reverse. Instead, much of it involves running as far forward against the mountainside as possible, then running side-to-side while jumping over and over again, hoping to somehow catch the small bit of terrain that will allow you to move onto the next parallel path above and repeat the process.
It’s mid-afternoon by the time you reach the top, and much to your great satisfaction, you spy the library nearby! The entire building is a gigantic stone ring with numerous rectangular windows cut into its side. As you stand and gaze upon its odd, impressive structure, you also realize that it’s slowly spinning. You wonder what type of ancient magic is able to keep it afloat. The mere sight of it impresses.
The building is close, but not that close, and the longer you watch it slowly spin, the more you wonder if you’ll actually be able to reach it by jumping, which is pretty much your only option from here. If it was just a few inches closer, you’d feel more comfortable.
You can make it. Jump!
It was a good try, but this is just too risky. Admit defeat, descend the mountain, and follow the advice of the cloaked man from the Jarl’s hall.
“You’re right,” you say. “I see no other solution than to leave you here, and hope that Dovahkiin never again climbs this mountain to find you. Goodbye, Alduin.”
“No!” the dragon calls. “You cannot leave me this way! I am Alduin! You will release me!”
His cries fall on deaf ears. You’ve no sympathy for the monstrous creature. You may be required to save his life, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a mean-spirited muncher of innocents at his core.
Two weeks later, the apocalypse you spent so long trying prevent happens anyway. Did Dovahkiin find Alduin and slay him? Did someone else? You suppose that even a simple guard could have killed the mighty dragon in such a helpless state. Whatever the reason for the beast’s death, it’s now too late for you to fix your mistake. The realm’s fate, and your own, follow Alduin’s.
“Alright, Cleanshaven,” you say with as much import as your naturally nasally voice will allow. “Tell me, why have you summoned me to your enclave.”
“Tell me, Turtleborn,” Splint replies, stepping toward you with an impish grin. “What happened with the troll a few hours past?”
“Well, I slew it, of course,” you reply, defensively. “My beefy biceps contain the strength of twenty Nord–” The man raises his right eyebrow at you, and it breaks your false composure. You release a weak sigh, drop your shoulders, and speak honestly. “I don’t know what happened. It was coming at me, and I said these dumb words.”
“Dumb words,” he repeats quizzically. “Explain.”
“The words from the board at the foot of my bed,” you reply. “I’ve never known their purpose before today, and maybe I still don’t know. I’ve said them many times before today, but this is the first time they actually did anything. It was like … the troll was somehow sucked toward me, as if I pulled him closer by uttering them.”
“Those words are the words of the Torta, that’s “turtle” in your tongue,” Splint replies. “They are words of great power.”
“Why didn’t they do anything before today?” you ask, now thoroughly confused.
“Well, child,” he chuckles jovially, “you probably never whispered them before.”
“It is the only way to draw power from the words. You must whisper them. Whisper them so quietly that almost none can hear them. Here, here, child, let us try them now. Remember the words, and try to whisper them at Lurk over there.” He points at the Cleanshaven across the room. “But remember them carefully. Your Whispers hold great power, Turtleborn, many of which even the Cleanshaven do not fully understand. Speaking them incorrectly could mean certain doom for us all. Now … Whisper!”
Muup, Merp, Meee!
Meep, Merp, Muuu!
Klaatu, Barada … Necktie?
You whisper the words as quietly as you can. As soon as they leave your lips, you realize you’ve misspoken them. They’re close, but you think perhaps the last of them may have been somehow different than what you muttered at the frost troll outside of Riverwood.
Soon, you feel a familiar force. The air around you is drawing toward and past you through the door … but only the air. You realize that you’ve managed to do little more than suck the very oxygen from the hut. You clasp your throat; so do the Cleanshaven. It isn’t long before you and the rest of them suffocate to death.
Too nervous to think clearly, you speak words you know to be wrong. Suddenly, the room seems larger than it was before, and you’re sure that your face is much closer to the floor than it was a moment ago. And why are there suddenly sloths everywhere? You lift your hand to your face. It takes much longer than it should to get there. Oh my, you seem to be a sloth as well.
In doesn’t take an archmage to figure out what happened here. You’ve turned yourself and the others into sloths. Without the power of speech, undoing this seems to be somewhat impossible. You suppose there’s not much to do but make the best of things.
A few weeks later, you and the Cleanshaven watch from a nearby tree as zombies rise from the ground and decimate the townsfolk. How in Oblivion did that happen? Perhaps this was all part of that destiny you were chasing. Oh well, zombies aren’t much interested in sloths.
You and the Cleanshaven eventually settle into an oligarchic society with a leaf-driven economy. You meet a nice sloth girl, whom you’re fairly certain was never one of the dirty men you once turned into a sloth. She bears you exactly one child, whom you name Hyacinth. Years later, your daughter amasses enough choice leafs to stage a non-violent coup and take over the tribe. You’ve never felt prouder.
You whisper the words precisely as you remember them, and suddenly the room around you stirs. The dirt leaps from the floor, and the leaves spin upward in small spirals at the command of your voice. Lurk is moving too, in your direction, and quite quickly. His body slams into yours and the two of you tumble to the floor.
You look up at the filthy man mounting you and watch him smile crookedly at your accomplishment. The pride you feel at having mastered the words whose meaning have plagued you for so long somehow compensates for the award physical position you find yourself in.
“This is wonderful!” you exclaim, bouncing up from the floor. “I always knew I was destined for something more than, more than … mining beets!”
Splint claps slowly and walks toward you with a proud smile. “Yes, Turtleborn. You are important. Far more than you even now may realize.”
Your smile fades for an expression of earnest determination. “Tell me what I must do,” you say. “I want to know more about my destiny.”
“And there is much that we may teach you,” he says. “But first, you must seek out an important artifact, the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller. The horn lies in Ustengrav, a terrible place filled with–“
“Never heard of it,” you reply quickly, hoping to steer the course of this conversation from the dangerous direction it seems suddenly heading toward. “So tell me about this–“
“Meh,” you say with a short wave and a turned back. You leave the hut and travel to the nearby tavern where you lose the last of your beet profits to the largest stein of mead you’ve ever seen. As you down the brew, you consider the day’s events.
The whole reason you chased after your future with such haste this morning was to avoid diving blindly into dangerous caves. Anyhow, if the world needs this Horn so badly, someone else will probably handle it. Maybe eve–*hiccup*–even, even one of those dirty, awkwardly smooth-cheeked–*hiccup*–should go in there. I mean, I meeean, they seem justtas capa–cape–capabull.
You black out against the counter of the bar and wait for morning.
In the morning you travel back to your small hut, and continue to live out your small existence as a smalltime beet miner. You’re somewhat surprised to experience the apocalypse two weeks later. Huh, you think as a zombie begins to eat you, starting with your left foot, I guess those guys were right.
“It’s a new Word of Power,” you say, waving the scroll in front of him. “It’s for a whole new Shout, actually.”
Dovahkiin takes a cautious step toward you. “I don’t believe you,” he says. “Whenever I’ve found Words in the past, there’s always this strange chanting music that plays from somewhere. Right now, I hear nothing.”
Cover your mouth and hum the mystic chanting to the best of your abilities. Hope he doesn’t notice.
Tell him you were just trying to get his attention by saying it was a Word of Power, but it’s actually a nude portrait of his housecarl, Lydia.
Tell him you were just trying to get his attention by saying it was a Word of Power, but it’s actually a court summons for burglary.
“If it must be done, then I will do it. After all, I’m the Tortoisebor–“
“Turtleborn,” the man lightly interrupts.
“Yes, right, Turtleborn,” you cough. “It’s my sacred charge to complete this quest.”
As you finish speaking, silence takes the room. The Cleanshavens’ eyes have fallen to you as if waiting for you to do something. After a few moments, one of them speaks. “Well, off with you, then.”
“Oh,” you reply, somewhat embarrassed. “I thought, well, I just thought I’d get a map and maybe some sort of weapon or magic amulet or something. You didn’t expect me to just run off into the forest unarmed with no direction, did you?” You allow a nervous chuckle to escape your lips. You’re pleased see them laugh as well.
“Of course not!” Splint replies. He slaps his forehead. “What were we thinking? Completely forgot; apologies, apologies! Just a moment.” The man shuffles out from the hut through the back door.
Thank goodness, you think. You were worried there for a moment.
The man returns nearly one minute later with what seems to be a hastily scrawled map on a torn piece of coffee-colored parchment, and a small white paw. He hands you both.
“There you are,” he says happily. “Your map and trinket.”
You look at the map, mostly illegible, but decide that it will do and thrust it into your pocket. “And this?” you ask, holding up the small white paw.
“It’s a lucky rabbit’s foot,” Splint replies. “Fresh from the rabbit. That’s when they’re most lucky!”
You’d thought the trinket felt a bit … soggy. You lightly place the foot in your pocket and do your best to immediately forget that it’s there lest you lose your lunch.
You say your goodbyes, hear your “good luck”s, and follow the map to Ustengrav. As expected, the map is only somewhat accurate, and those bits that aren’t smudges are still difficult to read. Using 10% of the map, 70% geographical clarifications from local merchants, and 20% luck, you eventually make your way to the cave.
You step inside, amazed at how quickly the damp, stony walls seem to blot out the warmth of the outside sun. Still, this isn’t so bad. There’s even a man just up ahead. Perhaps he’ll even lend you a hand in finding the Horn.
As the man approaches, you realize that he isn’t much of a man at all. He’s a draugr. And he looks unhappy. And he’s got a bow. And the arrow against its drawstring is aimed squarely between your bushy eyebrows. His ancient fingers release the missile.
There’s a darkened alcove nearby. Dodge the arrow and roll toward it!
No time to dodge. Duck and charge!
You duck quickly, and the arrow shaves the very top of your scalp, giving you somewhat of a reverse Mohawk. Okay, you’re still alive. Now it’s time to finish this before the draugr has time to load a second arrow from his quiver. With virtually no other offensive option available, you charge at his legs, hoping to knock him over and run past.
You connect, shoulder to kneecap, and feel his legs shatter at the impact. He crumbles to the cave floor. Perhaps he suffered from osteogenesis imperfecta during life? Are draugr susceptible to brittle bone disease or are all of them so easily incapacitated? You decide that now is neither the time for an analysis of your recent luck, nor a biological inquiry into the calcification of reanimated leg bones. You grab the poor bastard’s bow, pull the quiver from his back, and run.
Fifteen minutes later, your adrenaline has cooled. Things have been quiet, and quiet is nothing to complain about. A long stone bridge is now before you, threatening a deep and terrible–wait a moment, it’s not that deep, perhaps just five feet … not exactly a fatal risk.
While looking over the side, you notice a gleam dancing from the corner of what appears to be a treasure chest. A giant treasure chest! That could be your giant treasure chest. You look ahead again and see a large, ornate door at the end of the bridge. Based on its somewhat ostentatious placement and the fancy nature of its designs, you decide it probably leads to the room that holds the Horn of Jorgen Whateveryourelookingfor. On one hand, you’d like to get out of this dank cave as quickly as possible. On the other, you’ve been woefully under-equipped for this mission, and there might be any manner of armor or weapon in that chest.
Continue to the door.
Jump down after the chest.
“It’s a court ordered summons for burglary,” you say. “I’m actually a guard sent from Whiterun to take you in.”
“What?” Dovahkiin booms. “What burglary?”
“We have a witness claiming you stole an alchemical ingredient from Arcadia’s Cauldron,” you invent.
Dovahkiin slaps his forehead. “Ack, I know what this is about. It was the blisterwort. You know, I was reaching for something else on the shelf, and well, you know how small those blisterworts are; I accidentally picked that up instead. I immediately went through my inventory and dropped it, but it was too late. You get flagged immediately for that sort of crime–well, I’m sure you know that. Anyway, it was all a huge mistake. I’m surprised anyone even saw me do it. Who turned me in, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Uh, a chicken,” you say quickly.
“A chicken?” he repeats. “They’re reporting crimes now?”
“Well, it was a small offense,” he says. “What’s the bounty? Perhaps I can just pay it now.”
“The bounty is five gold,” you say sternly.
“A pittance!” Dovahkiin exclaims happily. “Here, and take an extra 500 for your trouble.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” you say. “But you’ll have to come back with me to the jails to pay it.”
“All the way to the jails?” he asks. “Right now? I’m in the middle of a quest right now! If I come all the way over there with you, I’m just going to have to walk all the way back over here again-gah, you know what, let me just see that summons for myself.”
This is your moment.
Open the Elder Scroll and point it toward him!
You turn slightly from his view and cover your mouth with your hand. You begin to chant in faux ancient Nordic. “Hee! Haw! Ho! Hua! Heh! Ha! Huh!”
Dovahkiin walks closer toward you, and you raise the volume of your voice as he approaches.
“HEE! HAW! HO! HUA! HEH-“
“FUS RO DAH!” he interrupts.
Your body lifts from the ground and flies off the side of the mountain.
You carefully lower yourself down from the edge of the stone bridge, hoping to bring your feet a bit closer to the ground before dropping. You’re halfway there when your fingers slip on a small divot filled with water. You fall two feet down, and land on something pointy.
You reach your free hand beneath your rump as you stand and find the culprit: a sword! That could be handy. You take it by the haft and stand fully, proud of yourself and eager to reap the rewards of the ornate chest just before you.
As you reach for its top, a hulking sword-wielding draugr, nearly twice the size of the one that accosted you near the entrance, roars loudly from your right. You think this is what they call a “Draugr Scourge.” Was he standing there the whole time like a statue, waiting for you to go for the chest? How could you not have noticed? Oh well; there’s no time for regrets. It’s time to throw down. You consider your options.
Drop the bow, use the sword. Go for the jugular! You think it might have one of those.
Drop the sword, use the bow. You’ve never used a bow before, but you think you’re clever enough to grasp the simple mechanics.
Drop both, concentrate on your Whisper: Meep, Merp, Muuu!
You drop your new sword and watch its metal blade crumple apart as it collides with the stone floor below you. Good thing you didn’t try to use it. You reach behind your back and grab an arrow from the quiver, then struggle to line the notch of its shaft with the string as the draugr charges you.
His sword cants sideways off the front of your bow, but the weight of his attack sends both of you tumbling backward as you finally draw. Your body collides harshly with the ground, elbows first, and you lose your grip on the arrow. The missile looses, and as you spring to your feet from beneath the draugr, his body spills from you to the ground. You can finally see what happened: Somehow, you managed to place the arrow straight up the fiend’s nose, making it a presumably unwelcome addition to his brain. He’s dead, you think. You give the beast’s ribs a quick tap with the front of your boot, and he remains motionless.
You can’t keep the grin from your face as you bound over him to your much-deserved reward: the large, ornate treasure chest now but moments from your grasp. You slowly lift the lid, wary of traps, and are nearly floored by what you see. Jackpot, baby!
Inside the chest is a solid, chest-shaped hunk of solid bullion, as if someone had bored a tiny hole into the container’s side and filled its entirety with molten gold. Literally every cubic centimeter of this chest is filled with raw wealth. You can’t help but perform a quick dance, nearly tripping over the Scourge’s corpse mid-moonwalk.
After a few minutes of celebration, you’re calmer than before (though not calm at all), and reach your hands around your prize to lift it from the chest. It takes all of your (admittedly less than average) strength to budge it even an inch upward. Oof! Getting this out of here is going to be more difficult than you’d thought. Up past the chest you see a steep hill leading back up to the stone bridge above, and eventually that door that hides the Horn you’ve been sent to find. You could probably get back up there alone, but taking the chest is out of the question.
You’re faced with a difficult decision.
Leave your justly-earned reward behind, and continue after the Horn.
Forget the Horn and focus on the treasure.
You drop the bow to your feet and decide to try out your luck with a blade instead. The Scourge rushes at you with his sword and you jerk to the right. His strike connects, but doles little more than a flesh wound to your side. Chest-to-chest with the beast, you see the perfect opening to throat him.
“By the power of Turtleborn!” you yell, thrusting the tip of your shortsword into the beast’s neck. Much to your dismay, the metal of the blade crumples into a waft of rust dust as you bring it against the draugr’s skin. You consider in hindsight that there was probably a reason someone had abandoned the weapon to a damp cave floor in the first place.
The draugr snorts out what may have been a laugh before gutting you with the dull end of his blade.
You drop both weapons, and after all, why not? You’ve no experience using either of them anyhow. As the Scourge rushes you with sword in hand, you concentrate on your inner strength and whisper the words from your footboard: Meep, Merp, Muuu!
The draugr’s face twists in confusion as his massive body is lifted from the ground and drawn toward you with a swift, unnatural acceleration. The creature and his sword (pointy end first) draw directly into your body. You collapse to the floor, impaled, as the Scourge surely wonders why you opted to do all of the work for him.
There’s no way you could just leave this massive hunk of pure gold here to rot alongside the draugr. For the next few hours, you try to clever your way out of the cave with your booty, attempting everything from a makeshift pulley built from your bowstring to a makeshift cart without wheels (really, you just tried to lift the chest onto the draugr’s body and push it). With nothing coming even close to working, you realize there’s just one option left: wait for someone else to come along and help you.
Seven days pass before another soul enters the cave. It wasn’t a week of which you’re proud (you’d already had eaten both of the Scourge’s feet by Middas) but it was worth it. The muscle-bound adventurer who finally comes is more than willing to aid you for a percentage of the prize. With his added strength, you’re able to get the chest from the cave in a few short hours.
The next seven days are much, much better than the last. You buy a castle, get married (twice), and hire that pain in the ass Pug’mir to be your personal manservant. Destiny be damned; you’re rich! And this is best life you could imagine … at least until the zombie apocalypse happens two weeks later. Ohhhh, maybe that’s what the Cleanshaven had meant by “certain doom.” Whoops.
You shed a tear for the opulent life you realize you’re probably leaving behind, but hey, if you ever get out of here alive, you can always come back for it, right? After all, it’s not like there are a bunch of weirdoes out there just exploring random Skyrim caves for treasure chests.
You make your way to the door at the end of the bridge and immediately notice its odd lock. There are three large stone rings depicting various pictures, an eagle, a fish, and a dragon. At their center is a large claw-shaped hole, perhaps for a key? You play with the rings for a while before realizing that’s there isn’t much hope of you ever getting through without whatever it is that you’re clearly missing.
You sit down, defeated, with your back against the door and think about your next move. Your hand naturally glides into your pocket, and you’re tactilely reminded of the rabbit’s foot the Cleanshaven had provided. You pull it out and roll it back and forth in your palm. Perhaps the whole idea of delving into this cave was foolish. Who’s ever heard of a “Turtleborn” anyway?
But wait, what’s this? There are three very small markings on the three very small pads of the rabbit’s foot. One looks like it could be a garden snail, the next, perhaps a sloth, and the third? Is that … a miniature schnauzer? You hop to your feet and begin to scan the stone walls near the door. Sure enough, you find a small, dusty set of three rings near the floor a few feet from the main door.
Using the symbols on the rabbit’s foot as a guide, you spin the images into place, and put the foot into the small hole at their center. Success! A small, child-sized door opens in the stone.
You look to the large, normal-sized door at your left and sigh. Oh well, you think, at least I’m getting through somehow. You hold your breath and squeeze past the tiny door, wrestling your body awkwardly through the tiny passageway you’ve discovered. Halfway through, you begin to hear a strange chorus of murmuring and pause. On the wall to your right are six words, two sets of three, glowing in the rock! You read them, and though written in language unknown to you, you seem to understand their meaning. The first, “SQUR QURT TULL”, brings to mind the image of a rushing stream, clear and pure. The second, “GLUR MERR BERR,” makes you think of a bolt of lightning, striking down in an unnatural slow motion. The chorus and the glow soon fade, and you shake your head clear. You think you may have just learned two new Whispers.
Crawl through to the treasure room.
You cartwheel to the side, and the monster’s arrow grazes the side of your cheek instead of nesting in your prefrontal cortex by way of your forehead. Your body spins into the alcove, only to discover that the darkened spot you’ve chosen isn’t a nook at all; it’s a pit!
You fall four feet and splash into a warm pool of water. As you paddle against the surface looking for shore, you feel movement around your body. You aren’t alone. You strain your eyes, hoping to catch a glimpse of what’s surrounding you. Finally, you catch sight of one. Oh! Just a healthy school of Abecean Longfins. Hey, little guys! You can’t help but think what a great food source this little reservoir would be.
You continue swimming around for another ten minutes, hoping to find an exit. Soon, you find one, though you hadn’t expected it to be in the form of death-by-cave-bear. It seems you were right in thinking this little pool was a fantastic food source, but regrettably miscalculated upon which side of the equation you would be. It doesn’t take long for the cave bear, a surprisingly athletic swimmer, to catch and eat you.
You find yourself in a large, decorative room adorned by beautiful granite murals made from carvings of animals and trees. At each corner is a marble statue shaped from the pose of an ancient heroes. Each of the men casts an outstretched finger to the center of the room. Your eyes follow them to a large stone bed cradling what must be the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller! And that meddlesome guy in the two-horned helmet is lifting it from its resting place! Hey!
Approach him and grab the Horn!
Approach him and ask for the Horn.
Punch him in the shoulder to get his attention.
“Hey!” you shout as you approach. When he doesn’t answer, you coil your fingers into a fist and punch him in the shoulder. His eyes slowly move from the horn cradled in his grasp to yours.
“Yes?” he asks menacingly.
“That horn, it’s mine,” you say, pretending not to be frightened of the well-armed man easily thrice your size. “I’ll have it now, please.” You open your hand at him, and he laughs.
“Do you know who I am, ragamuffin?” he asks.
“I don’t know,” you reply. “I’ve just been calling you Helmet Guy in my head up till now.”
The man sighs, and begins to stare despondently at the large stone carving of a dragon in the wall behind you. “You should have acted,” he begins. “They’re already here. The Elder Scrolls told of their return; their defeat was merely a delay.”
“Whose defeat?” you ask.
“From the time after Oblivion opened,” he continues, pushing you aside to step closer to the dragon depicted in the wall. “When the sons of Skyrim would spill their own blood. But no one wanted to believe … believe they could exist. And when the truth finally dawns-” Suddenly, the man turns his head sharply from the dragon and stares you in the eyes. “It dawns in fire!“
You try to move away from him. This man is obviously somewhat … unhinged.
“But,” he continues, taking a confident step forward for each one you take back from him, “there is one they fear. In their tongue, I am Dovahkiin … Dragonborn!” Suddenly he looks to the ceiling and shouts three strange words. “Fus Ro Dah!” The stone ceiling cracks apart and collapses, raining down an avalanche of rock in a near-perfect circle around both of you. You can’t help but feel impressed in spite of yourself.
Suddenly, Dovahkiin grabs you gruffly by your shirt collar. “And no little runt can take that away from me. This horn is part of my destiny, and you’ll have it only once my body lies dead on the floor beneath your boot.”
He puffs out his chest and begins to inhale; the same thing he did just moments ago before shouting those strange three words.
Let him have the horn, plead for your life, and return empty-handed.
Fight this cocky son of a bitch.
As you walk down the mountainside, you aren’t quite sure where you’re going. Soon, you’ve passed by the Cleanshaven’s hut, and soon you’ve passed the horse and cart that you know travels to Whiterun. You continue to walk, and walk, and finally discover that your feet have led you home to your tiny hut above the beet cave.
It’s strange coming home after all you’ve done and seen, but somehow it just feels … right. Perhaps this adventure was never truly meant to change the life you had, only to make you appreciate it a little more. You collapse into the burlap cloth you’ve called a bed for as long as you can remember, and sleep off your exhaustion for the next twenty-six hours. It’s the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had.
The following day, your neighbor, Pug’mir, visits you. While you were gone, his wife left him, claiming that she could no longer live with his violent, noisome ways. At first, he explains, he was angry. But eventually he came to realization that she was right. Pug’Mir is determined to become a better person, and wants to begin by offering you his apologies for everything he’s ever done to make your life any harder than it had to be. You gladly accept his apology and his friendship.
In the coming months, you and Pug’Mir form a business partnership. It turns out your Turtleborn powers are quite helpful with surface farming. Squr, Qurt, Tull keeps the crops alive during the draught season, Glur, Merr, Berr, slows the wolves down enough for Pug’Mir to shoot them before they can raid the chicken coop, and Meep, Merp, Muuu makes the harvest take seconds instead of hours. Pug’Mir loves to watch as a hundred carrots magically fly from the ground at once into the basket at your feet.
Eventually, you expand your operation to Helgen, where you both are surprised to find Pug’Mir’s ex-wife working in a local alchemy shop. With her husband so radically changed for the better, it’s not long before old sparks kindle. And Pug’Mir’s not the only one to feel Mara’s touch. You’re soon introduced to the proprietor of the Alchemy shop, and you’re smitten within moments.
The following years see you married and settled in Helgen where the Gods grant you a son. You name him Herbert, after your lost friend. It’s difficult to say if the Cleanshaven saw this destiny as the Turtleborn’s future when they called upon you to save the world, but the realm is safe, Alduin’s a turtle, and you’ve never been happier just living simply as a farmer, spouse, and parent.
Sixty years later, you find yourself in a rocking chair beside your son. He’s married now, with a child of his own. He’s also one of the few who knows the truth of your history. After an hour of contented silence just staring at the constellations and enjoying each other’s presence, he looks to you and ask if you ever regretted your choices.
You look back to him and smile. “No,” you say honestly. “I don’t regret a moment of my life.”
He seems pleased by your answer, and places a loving hand on your thigh.
“Except for the beet mining part,” you finish. “Yeah, that part really sucked.”
You take a deep breath, place your feet against the sturdy stone behind you, and leap! Your fingers graze the side of the library’s outer wall, just below the window for which you were aiming. It’s not the last stone you’ll feel before dying though, as the mass of rocky ground far below you is rapidly approaching the rest of your body’s touch.
The following day, a passing pilgrim wonders if it was a Talos cult who painted the base of the mountain in splashes of red.
You make your way up the rest of the mountain pass slowly and confidently. Alduin’s ice black eyes follow your every step, unwavering, unblinking. His gaze is one of curious ferocity, like a lion dazed by the young wildebeest casually strolling into his lair at lunchtime. The situation unnerves you, but you’re determined not to give him the twisted pleasure of knowing so.
Once at the top of the mountain, Alduin flies high into the air. For a moment, you think he’s retreating. But only for a moment. Seconds later, he dramatically crashes down into the rock in front of you, and the force of his entry nearly tumbles you over. Somehow you keep your footing, and the great black beast lowers his head and eyes to meet yours.
Prepare your sharpened sword for battle.
Prepare your sharpened tongue for battle.
“It is not so easy,” you reply. “I have no assurance that you’ll leave these lands once I free you. You’re just as likely to eat me.”
“There is one solution of which I can think,” you say slowly. “A dragon’s soul is immortal, is it not?”
“Of course it is,” Alduin chokes out through his clamped windpipe.
“And Dovahkiin,” you continue. “He can absorb those souls, can he not?”
“Do not mock the fate of my kin!” the dragon yells as menacingly as he is able.
“I do not mock you,” you reply honestly. “But it tells me that your kind’s souls are not tied to your physical bodies. When you resurrect other dragons, I’ve heard that you give their bodies their lost souls.”
“And what if I do?” the beast asks.
“If you can transfer their souls,” you ask, “can you not transfer your own?”
“Moving a Dov soul is our most sacred ritual, and only performed from weaker physical shells to stronger ones,” he answers. “As the strongest of my kind, I have never performed this on myself.”
“But you could,” you say.
“I–” he begins.
“Hear me, Alduin,” you proclaim. “For I am Turtleborn, and these are my terms. You will transfer your soul from that dragon’s body into this giant turtle. You will then live the remainder of your days in his body. Your time will be shared between this realm and the next, peacefully swimming in the sea while here, and hunting the souls of the deceased as you please while there.”
Alduin remains silent.
“Or I leave you here,” you continue. “Trapped forevermore, immobile and shamed beneath this creature’s shell.”
The dragon doesn’t give you the pleasure of acceptance, but soon begins to chant in dragon tongue, deep, somber words you cannot understand. Suddenly, a glowing ball begins to form in front of his mouth, and his body seems to darken as if the very light was drained from it. The bright, spinning ball at his front eventually solidifies and shoots upward toward the sky. Alduin’s head drops lifelessly to the ground
A moment later, the ball returns, colliding with the giant turtle. For a minute, neither the turtle nor the dragon move. Finally, it’s the turtle that speaks.
“I hope you are pleased,” it says, lifting its large head from the snow on the ground. “But know this, Turtleborn. I am still Alduin, and I will have my vengeance. Do not ever doubt it.” Alduin the turtle lifts from the dragon body below him, and moves to the frozen mountain path. A moment later, he lifts his flippers and slides down the ice on his belly toward the bottom.
You unsheathe your sword and lift it high above the dragon’s head. With your collected might, you swing it downward, severing the neck. It takes a few more swings to cut it completely apart, but only a few minutes later you’re finished, and Alduin can never return to the body before you.
Suddenly, Dovahkiin appears on the path behind you. “Look at what I have done!” he yells, pointing at the dragon’s corpse at your feet. “I have defeated Alduin! I have saved the world! Sleep easy this night, friend,” he says, hugging his arm around your shoulders. “for Dovahkiin is here, and never will he let this realm fall to danger.”
You look at him and nod. “Good job, Dovahkiin,” you say quietly. “You’ve truly done Skyrim and the world a great service this day.” You pat him twice on the back, and slowly make your way back down the mountain path to Riverwood.
“Wait, wait, wait,” you cravenly stammer. “You can have the Horn. Keep it, take it home, name it Sally, for all I care. I don’t want it. Just let me go.”
Dovahkiin holds the breath in his chest and bounces his pupils back and forth as if weighing the option. Finally, he lets the air out from his mouth slowly. “Hadn’t recharged yet anyway,” he mutters, pushing you away with a forceful shove. A few moments later, he’s gone, and taken the Horn of Jorgen Windcaller with him.
“Ooh, look at me,” you mock, kicking at a pebble on the ground. “I’m the Dragonborn. Dragon’s eat turtles when they’re hungry. I’m so cool and strong; I already have two horns on my stupid helmet but I still need more, so I go around looking for them in caves and robbing people of their destinies …”
Your pity party starts to get old after a half hour, and you finally decide to carefully back track through the cave and return to Riverwood. At first, you consider finding a ride back to your small beet miner’s hut and forgetting you ever met the Cleanshaven at all, but decide you’ll go back just to tell those dirty hobos off, if nothing else.
When you arrive at the hut, the Cleanshaven are standing there waiting for you, excited smiles on each of their faces.
“I didn’t get the Horn,” you say, sadly. “I know. Not very Turtleborn of me, is it.”
“Let me guess,” Splint speaks. “You met a man who calls himself ‘Dovahkiin,’ who took the Horn.”
“How did you know that?” you ask suspiciously.
“This is why we sent you. We did not need the Horn, only for you to learn that you can never and will never defeat the Dovahkiin.”
“Why does that matter?” you ask angrily. “And anyway, I could if I wanted to. I learned two new Whispers in that cave and–“
“Whispers are all-powerful,” Splint inturrupts, “but will always be drowned into nothingness by one thing: the volume and intensity of a Dragonborn’s Shout. Dovahkiin is your natural opposite, and you, Turtleborn, are destined to always lose to him. If you can accept this, stay and hear our words. If you cannot, then be gone. You may not ever be able to best your opponent, but it is you who must save the world from him and his fool’s errand to kill Alduin, the World-Eater.
“Aldu-who?” you ask.
“I will say no more without your utter trust and commitment to our cause,” he replies, gesturing one hand at the door and the other at a chair.
You slowly sit in the chair, much to Splint’s obvious relief. He steps forward and finally explains what’s going on.
“There’s a group, a renegade splinter faction of the Cleanshaven called the Greybeards. They grow meter upon meter of facial hair just to spite us.”
“But why-” you begin.
He waves away your question with his hand as if it were a torchbug. “The history is unimportant. All that matters now is that they’ve called upon Dovahkiin and set him upon a quest that will end the world if something isn’t done. You see, there is a place called Sovngarde, where the souls of the dead reside. It is also where the great dragon Alduin often dwells, hunting the souls of the dead and eating them in order to absorb their power.
“That’s terrible!” you exclaim, standing from your chair. “He needs to be stopped!”
“So say the Greybeards,” the man answers. “And it is this exact thought that drove them to leave our order. But what the Greybeards don’t understand, and what you don’t yet understand, is that Alduin is a necessary evil. Life and death exist as a delicate ecosystem, and Alduin is as important to that cycle as is the sun to a blade of grass, or the moon to a midnight tide. Without Alduin, Sovngarde would grow beyond capacity, causing the realm to expand and expand, pushing against the delicate boundary between its borders and our own world. Without Alduin, that border would collapse, and the souls of the dead would pour back into their mortal forms, causing bodies to rise from the grave confused, and likely violent. All life in Tamriel would transform into this grim immortality, torn between life and death, unable to exist within either.”
“I see,” you say. And you do. Zombies are bad. Everybody knows that.
“Dovahkiin is on a quest to destroy Alduin, and with him, Tamriel. Since you can neither persuade him, nor defeat him, you will have to trick him.”
“Trick him?” You chuckle. “Into what, thinking he fought and killed the most powerful dragon in the universe?”
Your chuckle ends abruptly, and you sit back down into your chair, attention rapt.
“To do this, you must obtain an Elder Scroll,” the man continues. “Through its power, you should be able to warp Dovahkiin’s mind, letting him believe that Alduin has been defeated.”
You ask the obvious question. “And what about the real Alduin? What happens when Dovahkiin snaps out of it.”
Splint shrugs his shoulders. “We do not know. You are the Turtleborn. We leave that task to you. Now, hear this. We know of an ancient library hovering high in the clouds above the city of Whiterun, said to contain at least one of the Elder Scrolls. Travel to Whiterun and speak with the Jarl. He may know how one can access its seldom-walked halls.”
You arrive in Whiterun the following day after a night of little rest, and make your way to Dragonsreach, where it is said the Jarl takes audience. A guard asks you to take a numbered rune as you enter, and to wait until the number on its surface is called before entering the royal chamber. You try to explain that you must speak to the Jarl with urgency, but the guard waves you away, muttering, “Who do you think you are, anyway? The Dragonborn?” You sigh, probably more loudly than you should’ve, and sit down among the riff-raff to wait for your audience.
It’s five hours before they call for you, and suddenly the import of your task refills your senses, washing out the morning’s frustrations. The Jarl sits slumped in his throne, balancing his head upon his hand. You tell him everything.
“A library?” he asks, the only part of your story which seems to have roused him an inch. “Above my city?”
“I was hoping you’d heard of it,” you reply. “The Cleanshaven said-“
“The Clean-” you interrupt yourself with a sigh. It’s somehow louder than your last. “I suppose I should take my leave, sir.” This man clearly knows nothing of the library. You spin on your heels and head for the exit.
“Boy!” the Jarl yells after you. “Or girl … well, whatever you are. Come back here for a moment.”
You turn to find the man shuffling a strange-looking man out from behind a nearby hanging tapestry. His clothes are old and worn, but his complexion is somehow unnaturally perfect like a newborn babe’s. His eyes and face are those of a human’s, but his ears look more befitting a wood elf.
“This is Herbert,” the Jarl explains. “He’s part of our new exchange-thane program. Doesn’t speak a lick of the common tongue. Says he comes from the ‘Middle Earth,’ or some such. Never heard of the place, personally, probably one of the Southern regions. No matter.”
Herbert bows to you. “Elen síla lumenn’ omentielvo,” he says.
“I’d like you to take Herbert here with you as you go looking for this library,” the Jarl continues. “I figure there’s little chance you’ll find it, or that it exists at all, but there’s a similarly small chance I’ll find any other use for Herbert around here, and I’m honor-bound to have him work on something for this Court. Anyhow, if you do happen to find this library of yours, I’d certainly prefer to have a personal representative of mine present when you do. Now take this small sword as a token of my gratitude and be gone.”
You take his crummy sword and turn once more toward the exit, now feeling somehow more upset than before. What use could this “Herbert” character be to you, anyhow? It seems that no one respects you, Turtleborn or otherwise.
Suddenly, an unfamiliar hand is on your shoulder. It belongs to a cloaked figure standing just outside of the doorway.
“I know of the library you seek,” he says, his voice the sound of an unbalanced jester’s. “But you’ll need to see my lord to gain access.”
“And how would I go about meeting this ‘lord’ of yours?” you ask.
“You’ll need to offer a sacrifice of chaos and humiliation to enter his plains of discord. Disrobing and singing a verse of, oh, let’s say this song”–he hands you a small sheet of paper–“while dancing nude through the Court back to the Jarl should do nicely.”
You look at what he handed you and read some of the words to yourself.
“Drinking mead in the halls of Whiterun
The maidens and the men!
We swig our brew
Until we spew
Then we fill our mugs again!”
It’s not going to be pretty, but you need all the help you can get to access the library. Take off your clothes and do as the strange man asks.
Scoff loudly so he understands how ridiculous you find his suggestion and leave. You have another idea that might get you into the library without the need for birthday suits.
“You know what?” you exclaim. “I’ve had it with this mess. I almost got killed back there, and for what? So I could learn that some guy who’s three times my size will always be able to beat me up? Hey, news flash: Almost everyone in Skyrim could probably beat me, let alone some guy who looks like he bench presses mammoth femurs in his spare time. By Oblivion, your average Nord is a foot taller than me by the time he hits puberty! Oh, oh, oh, and another thing. Even if I was delusional enough to think I could beat Dovahkiin, maybe you could have just, I don’t know, told me that instead of sending me to my possible doom? I mean, good Gods, man! I’m a beet miner, not a warrior. That was some serious man vs. draugr back there, and I barely survived it.”
Splint opens his mouth to speak. You don’t let him. “No. No. You know what? No. Don’t you say anything. I don’t want to hear it. I’m done with you and your stupid little schemes. Go get yourselves killed for a change.” You head for the doorway. “And grow some freaking facial hair! This whole clean shaven routine is just creepy. You hear me? It’s creepy. Bah! I’m done with all of you. I’m done.”
And you are.
With Herbert by your side, you travel to Winterhold, where you’ve heard those with the gift study spells of fire and ice. Honestly, that’s partially why you’ve chosen to try your luck here with the Archmage; perhaps you’ll learn a thing or two while you look for the necklace. After all, Dovahkiin’s Shouts might decimate your Whispers, but it would be an interesting, and likely fulfilling experiment to see how that machismo-fueled barbarian would deal with a fireball summoned directly inside of his stomach. Drunk with giddy on the thought, you walk the long bridge to the College entrance.
As you approach, you spy a young, blonde Dunmer running rapidly in the opposite direction. She halts for a moment as she reaches you.
“What are you doing here?” she screams. “Get out, get out! The freshmen mages, they’ve opened a portal to Oblivion, the fools! Get out, get out while your flesh willingly clings to your bones as it should.”
“Well, that’s a gross way to put it,” you remark, as she runs past you.
Oblivion gate? That doesn’t sound happy. Surely things aren’t this bad with the Companions. I’ll try there instead.
You’ve never liked demons, much. Best to leave now before meeting one face-to-face, and head to your second choice, the Thieves’ Guild.
You never thought this was going to be easy. Okay, well, maybe you did, but you’re already here and things aren’t much likely to be easier elsewhere. Onward!
You choose to journey to Riften and the Thieves’ Guild said to operate from its sewers. Once you arrive, asking only a few of the townsfolk leads you straight to something called the Ratway, a filthy series of subterranean tunnels said to house their ranks. You find the nearest entrance to the sewers, hold your nose, and enter in search of Skyrim’s most notorious band of rogues.
The passages are labyrinthine, but after a few hours of backtracking, avoiding skeevers, and shooing away the homeless, you eventually find a small room leading to a rounded wooden door. Two armed men stand in front of it. The one on the left is all beef, seemingly composed of little more than unadulterated muscle. The other looks to be made of more average stuff but, for some reason, is covered in hundreds of tiny bells.
Moving slowly, and with your empty, unarmed hands as visible as possible in these dank, darkened halls, you approach the guards.
“I’m, uh, here for the Thieves’ Guild,” you manage.
“You?” the meaty one responds. “The Thieves’ Guild?”
“I need to speak to the group’s leader,” you say. “My concerns are quite pressing.”
The man smiles, showing three (soon to be two, by the look of things) brown rotting teeth still clinging to gum. “Ain’t nonebody see the Guild Master who ain’t a member. And you want to join, you need to test in.”
“Very well,” you reply. “What shall I do to prove my worth? Pick a pocket? Perhaps a lock?”
“That’s all later,” he explains. “First, we weed the weaklings. You may have noticed my friend’s jangly-like clothings?”
“The bells?” you ask.
“You sure don’t hear good,” he replies. “That’s what I said, and all. Now here’s the test, and I’ll only explain it once. I’m going to throw a smoke bomb and you’ve got until the air cleans to have all his clothes off without making a sound.”
“Without a sound?” you repeat, shocked by the suggestion. “But they’re covered in bells!”
“That’s what makes it a test,” the man mumbles. “Wouldn’t be a right test if it weren’t hard on some to take.”
“Are you sure you ask all of your members to pass this before joining?” you exclaim. “I don’t know, it just seems awkwardly difficult.”
“Oh, another thing,” he says. “You don’t pass, I slit your throat.”
“What does that have to do with the test?” you ask.
“It don’t,” he answers through an eerie smile.
This is a bad idea. Head to the Mage’s College in Winterhold instead.
You almost decided to visit the Companions in Whiterun before coming here, and its not yet too late to change your mind and go there now.
If this bozo once passed this test, you’re sure you can, too. Onward!
You travel to Jorrvaskr; it’s not too far from Dragonsreach. You’ve never been to the famed base of the Companions before today, but the giant hall they call home is simple to find. It’s the only building that looks like an upside down, beached Nordic ship.
You open the door to find most inside drinking mead at the long table that spans the hall. Most look to you as you walk inside.
“Ah, what do we have here?” an old man asks, standing from his seat at the head of the table. He walks toward you, accompanied by a woman with a bow strapped to her back. “A new recruit?”
You smile. “Not quite, sir. I need to speak the leader of your order about a necklace.”
“Well,” he replies, “we have no official leader here, but I am the Harbinger of this order, so perhaps I can help. The name’s Kodlak, pleased to meet you.” You shake the man’s hand. “Now, you said something about a necklace?”
“Yes,” you reply quickly. “It’s very important. I know this is going to sound strange, but you were once given a necklace, one of three ever made, and I need it to help save the world from colliding with Sovngarde and unleashing an unstoppable zombie apocalypse.”
The man scratches him chin. “Hmm, that does sound important. Here, take it.”
As the man reaches behind his neck to unlatch his necklace, he suddenly drops to his knees and slams the palms of his hand against the floor. “Oh, no,” he shouts. “Not again. Damn you, Hircine! Damn this accursed curse!” He begins to writhe on the floor, clawing at his clothing and pulling at his hair.
You look to the other Companions frantically. “What should we do?” you yell. “What’s happening to him?”
The woman with the bow puts her hand around your shoulders and walks you just a few steps away. “Hi,” she begins. “I’m Aela, one of the Companions here. Let me explain something about ol’ Kodlak over there.”
You look behind you to Kodlak, still in spasm against the floor. “No!” he yells. “I don’t want to be a werewolf!”
“Did he just say ‘werewolf’?” you ask Aela.
She slaps her forehead and sighs. “Yes,” she replies. “The old man believes himself a werewolf.”
“But he’s not?”
“Of course not.”
“Oh,” you say. “Of course. That would be ridiculous.”
“Well,” she replies, “not so ridiculous. The rest of us here suffer from legitimate lycanthropy, which is to say, we’re actual werewolves. Kodlak is the only one among us somehow immune to the disease. He’s somehow gone and developed what they call ‘clinical lycanthropy’ in its place.”
“Clinical lycanthropy?” you ask curiously, no longer quite as comfortable with Aela’s arm around you as you had been before learning of her affliction.
“Yes,” she answers. “It’s a psychological disorder he has that makes him think he’s a werewolf, even though he isn’t. He’s completely convinced he’s a wild animal in this state; he’s even been known to attack people, claiming it’s the curse.”
“Wow,” you say. “That’s terrible.” You look back to Kodlak. He’s completely torn off his clothes and is now naked on the floor, growling at a passing skeever.
Approach and grab the necklace from him. He was going to give it to you anyway.
Try to talk him back to “normal” so he can hand over the necklace of his own accord.
You didn’t sign up for this. Head to the Mage’s College instead.
You’ve seen some weird stuff in your day, but a naked howling man who thinks he’s a wolf monster is just too much to digest. Head to Riften and try your luck with the Thieves’ Guild instead.
“You may depart,” you tell the turtle in his native tongue. “Thank you for your brave service this day.” The turtle respectfully nods and lifts his large flat feet. His body slides against the snow at his sides, and soon he’s away down the mountain.
Alduin slowly stands back to his feet. “Thank you,” he says, his voice weak from injury.
“You’re welcome,” you say. “Now lea–“
Alduin beheads you with an easy swipe of his claw.
You slowly open the large oaken double doors to the college and are met with a foul waft of death stench. You pinch your nose closed and step through. The hall is littered with scatted bodies and splashes of fresh blood, dripping and pooling in the passage’s many cracks and divots. You step over the body of a hooded Khajiit and curve your ear toward the end of the vestibule. You hear a quiet vibration stirring from down the way.
You walk past a smattering of corpses and eventually find the source of the sound around the corner. It’s an Oblivion Gate, glowing orange and wreathed in red flames. Herbert grabs your shoulder fearfully and shakes his head “no.”
“Sauron!” he exclaims, pointing at the Gate. “Sauron!” You don’t understand the word.
Crazy elf, you think.
You see an imp fly out from the center of the circle from the opposite side and make his way down the hall. That must be the direction the Gate is opened, the same way you need to travel to find the Archmage, whose quarters you imagine would be near the top of this tower. If you walk past the gate, anything that comes out of it will be behind you, likely to catch you off guard. The other option is to walk through and close it, an admittedly daunting task.
Go through the Oblivion Gate to close it.
Walk past it, crossing your fingers
“Alright,” you say. “I’m game. Throw the smoke bomb whenever you’re ready.”
“Can’t say I’m not surprised,” the man replies. “But as you like.”
The guard reaches his thick hand into the satchel at his side and a moment later the small room is covered in a thick cloud of white smoke. You can barely see your hand a few inches past your nose, let alone the man dressed in bells. This is going to be difficult, but you’ve got to figure it out fast if you want to fulfill your destiny as the Turtleborn while not getting neck shanked by Mr. Meaty over there.
Use your draw Whisper, Meep Merp Muuu. It should clear the smoke and the man’s clothes in a jiff.
Perhaps you’re making things too complicated here. Signal Herbert to punch out the beefy guard, while you punch out the one wearing bells simultaneously.
You take a deep breath, trying not to gag on the smoke you inhale. Slowly and deliberately, you whisper the words, Meep Merp Muuu. The fog begins to spiral into a vortex toward you, and soon, so does the guard. You’d hoped only to attract his clothing, but it seems your power is growing. You get the guard’s enitre body instead. Oof!
With the smoke gone, it’s easy to see the twisted, confused face of the muscle-bound guard looking down at you and his partner awkwardly tangled together on the floor. You shove the bell-guard’s shoulder from your view and smile nervously. “Well?” you ask nicely. “Did I pass?”
“I think its best you leave now,” he says flatly.
You may not have succeeded, but it seems like, for whatever reason, you aren’t going to be throated, so in a way, you still feel victorious. You’ll need to find another way to get a necklace, though.
Try the Mage’s College next.
Try the Companions next.
You clean your mind of pointless thoughts of revenge. There’s not much point in seeking it down in the depths of Alduin’s stomach.
Eventually, Dovahkiin wakes from his stupor, and you finally get your chance to explain the whole situation regarding Alduin and the apocalypse. To your surprise, he listens and even seems to understand. He apologizes for all he’s put you through, and offers you his hand in friendship.
As both of you are slowly digested two days later, you consider that even though you’ve died this slow and horrible death, you actually succeeded in saving the realm. So, good on you.
You leap from your squat on the opposite side of the dragon’s stomach, and tackle Dovahkiin face first into the bubbling green liquid at your feet. He tries to Shout, but his mouth is quick filled with Alduin’s stomach acid. Eventually, he shrugs you off of him, and returns an attack.
The two of you wrestle, punch, and kick your way across the stomach until rolling to the edge of another passage leading down from the organ you’re currently residing in. You’re not sure where it goes, but the air floating above its top smells foul. Your feet slip, and for a moment you’re sure you’ll slip down the hole. Suddenly, Dovahkiin’s hand catches yours and pulls you back into the main section of the stomach.
Surprised, you thank him for rescuing you. He nods and proceeds to apologize for his earlier behavior. You learn of his past before receiving his fate as Dragon Born, and realize for the first time that the two of you aren’t so dissimilar after all.
Two days later, you’re digested together, not as enemies, not as rivals, but as friends.
You decide that physically wrestling the necklace from him while in this state would be more dangerous than you’re in the mood for.
“How long do his, well, episodes last?” you ask Aela.
“Could be an hour, once it was a whole month,” she says.
A whole month? You don’t have that kind of time. You take a careful step toward Kodlak. “Hey there, Buddy. Sorry to hear about your condition.”
“Stay back!” he yells. “I don’t want to hurt you. I cannot think clearly when I’ve transformed into the beast!”
“I want to help you,” you answer. “That’s why I’ve come. I have a cure for your affliction.”
Kodlak howls and scratches the back of his ear with a foot before answering. “You do? Oh, by Talos, tell me, how can I be cured?”
You’d better make something up impressive enough to convince him if you want this to work.
Use your slowing Whisper, Glur Merr Berr, to “calm the wolf spirit” within him.
Use your drawing Whisper, Meep, Merp, Muuu, to “suck the wolf spirit” out of him.
Use your water Whisper, Squir, Qurt, Tull, to “purify him of the spirit.”
“I have the power to calm the wolf spirit enough for you to overcome it,” you say.
Kodlak begins to run on all fours around you and Aela in a circle. “You cannot slow the wolf!” he yells.
You face him and whisper the words, Glur, Merr, Berr! The naked man below you slows almost immediately, giving his wolf-like run a strange, surreal quality. Eventually he stops and begins to howl in slow motion. It’s clear from their faces that the other Companions are concerned with what you’ve done to their leader.
“You need to leave,” Aela says to you quietly. “We’re very protective of Kodlak, and I fear you’ll be dealing with real wolves before long if you linger.”
“But he’s fine,” you protest. “It’s just a trick, he’ll be fine again soon, I swear it.”
“I hope so,” she says, “for your sake. If he isn’t, I have your scent now, adventurer. Now leave us.”
With Kodlak distracted, you seize your moment and jump onto his back. As you reach for the necklace (now the only thing he’s wearing) he spins around and pins you.
“I’m sorry!” he yells, as he begins to maul you with his long fingernails. “It’s the wolf in me, I cannot help it. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
Kodlak may not be a werewolf, but he’s certainly strong. Immensely strong, one might say. By the time Aela and two of the other Companions pull him off, it’s too late for you.
You silently count down from three on your fingers, and on the last, strike the bell-clad guard in the neck with a coiled fist. Herbert does the same to the larger guard, and finds similar success. The smoke fades, and two unconscious bodies are revealed lying still on the floor.
You look at your fist and nod approval. “Not bad, fingers,” you say, surprised that your plan worked.
You step over the bodies and shove on the door. It’s locked. Perhaps one of the guards has the keys. You search their pockets, but find nothing that unlocks the door. Instead, you find a letter from the Guild Master, a man named Mercer Frey. The address on the envelope places him at the Ragged Flagon, an underground tavern you passed not an hour ago while searching the Ratway!
You grab Herbert, and trace your path back to the Tavern. It’s easy enough to find your way there, two lefts, a right, and another left at the dead Thalmor agent floating facedown in the water.
You take pause at the doorway and look inside. There’s a small passage behind the bar through which multiple people seem to be walking in and out. That’s likely where the Guild Master doles out his orders.
Sneak your way past the thieves to the back room.
Bluff your way past the thieves to the back room.
You motion for Herbert to hang back, and place a quiet foot inside the tavern. Slowly and silently, you begin to make your way around the border of the main room, keeping strictly to shadows.
Wow, this is surprisingly easy, you think. For a bunch of cutpurses reputed to be masters of stealth-An arrow pierces your skull.
You muster your courage and walk through the Gate. Herbert refuses to follow you, frantically pointing at his eye as a reason. The plane of Oblivion is actually much as you’d imagined it would be, dark, red, and pointy. There’s even a giant Dremora in front of you.
Ahh! There’s a giant Dremora in front of you!
You run past the Gate, but not so fast as to catch up with the imp. You see the stairs ahead of you. Each step forward is terrifying. Any number of fell creatures could appear through that gate behind you before reaching them. You look behind you. Herbert is trailing just a few feet behind, relived to be moving past the Gate.
You widen your lead ahead of the elf and think, Oh well, if something does pop through, at least Herbert will be first on the menu.
It seems you were lucky after all; both of you reach the stairs safely. From there, it’s a long, tiring climb to the top, but at least you don’t run into any more demons. As you pass your last stair, you find yourself staring at a small rounded alcove leading to a giant door with two large candlestick holders on either side. This must be the Archmage’s quarters. Hopefully he’s holed himself up here, and isn’t one of those mangled corpses you passed on your way up.
As you step forward, Herbert catches your shirt. You freeze your foot in the air and follow Herbert’s extended finger with your eyes to where you nearly dropped it, an angular, glowing symbol on the floor. You slowly retract your foot and place it carefully on the floor next to the other.
“Thanks,” you say to your companion, not sure if he understands the word.
Reexamining the space reveals all sorts of dangerous looking runes along the floor, walls, and ceiling. You think you may recognize their design as the runic fire symbol you once saw in a book. You’re no wizard, but you imagine stepping within one’s borders would likely trigger a nasty trap. You’d gamble your last septim that these were left by the Archmage to protect his room from the Oblivion attack. You’re going to need to think carefully if you want to get to the door in one piece.
Try your new Whisper: Squr, Qurt, Tull. You can’t know for sure, but you think it has something to do with water. Perhaps it will defuse the fire traps.
Try your new Whisper: Glur Merr, Berr. You remember the image of a lightning bolt slowed to a crawl. Perhaps it will allow you to cross with more care.
Use your tried and true draw Whisper: Meep, Merp, Muuu. If you place it just right, perhaps you can suck yourself through the air to the door without triggering the runes.
You still have the bow you took from the draugr. This Dremora should be no match for y-
You are dead.
You probably don’t have much hope of outrunning the beast, but you figure you have even less hope of facing it in mortal combat. You run left, then quickly juke right. To your surprise, the maneuver works wonders, and the clumsy Dremora trips over himself and tumbles onto the uncomfortable-looking ground below.
You know the creature will be back on its feet and chasing you more sooner than later, so you quickly scan the horizon for shelter. A large, gloomy-looking tower looms in the distance. Of course! You’ve heard stories of the hero who saved Tamriel from the Oblivion Crisis 200 years ago. It was said that she climbed a tower and removed something called a “sigil stone” to escape. Perfect!
You run for the tower, refusing to look behind you for the beast you tripped. You arrive mostly unscathed; one or two cuts from a strange blade of red grass show on your legs, but nothing life threatening. The inside of the tower is even more gloomy than the outside, but easily navigated. You climb stair after stair until finally finding yourself in a large chamber with a pedestal at its center. This must be it!
Now it’s just a matter of removing the stone and heading back to the College. Wait a moment, who’s that ahead of you? Someone else is in the room, and he doesn’t look like a daedra. The man is a young wizard by the look of him, bruised and bloodied from recent battle.
“Finally, I reached the stone!” you hear him exclaim as you approach. “And now this gate shall be closed, and the College saved!”
“Wait, I need to-” you begin. It’s too late. He lifts the stone and vanishes in a flash of white light. “-take that stone,” you finish dejectedly.
With the stone gone, the gate is closed, and the College is likely safe. The only problem is that you were on the wrong side of the door when that adventurer slammed it shut.
Like it or not, it looks like you’ve found yourself a new life in the Oblivion planes. Perhaps you’ll take work as an undertaker. After all, there seems to be no shortage of death here. Maybe you’ll even run for office and try to clean this place up. Well, there’s time to decide all of that later. With the Sigil Stone gone, you’re going to be here for awhile. A long while.
“Well, well,” you exclaim loudly as you enter the room with Herbert. “If it isn’t my new guildmates kicking back and enjoying some mead. How’re you doing fellas?”
The sound of a dozen bowstrings drawing, only six of which you can place, fills the room as the noise of casual banter drains to silence.
“Relax, relax,” you say as you swagger toward the bar. “I just met with, uh, you know, the two of them by the door down the way. I passed the bell exam, and they said to come here.”
An angry-looking man pokes his head out from the back hallway. “You there, recruit! Get back here!”
You see the other men forget you as quickly as you’d put them on guard as you walk past toward the back. You turn the corner and find yourself in a small office with the man who’d called you already seated behind the desk at its center.
“You there,” he says sternly. “You passed the test? Most don’t. Glad you did.”
“Thank yo-” you begin.
“Listen kid, I don’t have time to get to know you over a mug of mead; by Oblivion, I don’t even have time to learn your name,” he spits out at you quickly. “I need a good agent, and I think that may be you. Am I right?”
“Yes, but I need to-“
“The guild’s needs come before your own. Remember that and you’ll go far. Now, listen closely. I need you to embark on a quest for the guild. Complete it, and I’ll hear you out. Here are the details. First I’m going to need you to head back into town and find Maven Black-Briar. You can find her strolling in front of the Honningbrew Meadery between 1:15 and 1:45. She’s the strings of the Riften puppet, and you’re going to help her with a special task. Meet with her, convince her that you’re worth her time, and hopefully she’ll allow us to use you on this mission. From there, she’ll likely send you to speak with Mallus Maccius at the Bannered Mare, who may or may not have you speak with Sabjorn back at Honningbrew.
“From there, you’ll need to infiltrate an opposing facility, perhaps engage in some detailed industrial sabotage, then go back to Sabjorn. After that, you’ll need to speak with Mallus Maccius again, who’ll have a second set of plans which will need to be planned out and executed with craftsman precision. Once that’s done and double-checked, you can return to Maven, and then, after that, to me. Got it? Finish that up, and we can talk. Now get to it.” He spins his chair around and reaches for some files. You spy the latch of a necklace resting on the back of his neck.
Embark on Mercer’s quest.
Save some time, and attempt to steal the necklace right now.
You head for the Honningbrew Meadery to begin your quest. Slowly, but with sense of practical precision, you complete the assigned tasks one by one. It’s days before you’ve finally finished, but you’re happy to return to Mercer with good news, and maybe get your hands on his necklace as a reward.
Mercer gives you a small handful of silver in return for your endless hours of tireless work, and gives you another quest before letting you speak. The second quest is somehow even longer and more complicated than the last, and one week later you return, only to have the same pattern repeat itself. You’re moving up in the guild, but time is running out. You’re on your eighth quest by the time the apocalypse happens exactly as the Cleanshaven said it would. You’re much too late to do anything about it now, but perhaps you can ascend to the rank of Guild Master before getting eaten by a zombie if you finish just one more quest!
You lean in close to Mercer’s back. He’s clearly distracted by whatever it is he’s working on.
Take the letter-opener from his desk and use it to carefully cut the necklace from his neck.
No need to get fancy. Grab the necklace at the latch, pull until it snaps off the Guild Master’s neck, and run like a madman, hoping to lose the guild members in the Ratway.
Get on Herbert’s shoulders, and use your draw Whisper, Meep, Merp, Muuu, to lift the necklace from around Mercer’s head.
“I will draw the wolf soul from your body,” you proclaim. Before he can respond, you mutter the words Meep Merp, Muuu! Suddenly, Kodlak is in the air, and a moment later, the naked man is on top of you.
“I’m sorry!” he yells, as he begins to maul you with his long fingernails. “It’s the wolf in me, I cannot help it. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
Kodlak may not be a werewolf, but he’s certainly strong. Immensely strong, one might say. By the time Aela and two of the other Companions pull him off, it’s too late for you.
“I will purify you with the waters of, uh, the goddess Clefaria,” you claim.
“I do not recognize her name,” Kodlak replies, chasing his “tail” in a circle.
“Of course you don’t,” you reply. “Otherwise you’d already be better. But trust me, she’s, uh, very pure. You’ll soon be better if you accept her gift.”
“I will, I will!” he howls.
You face Kodlak and mutter the words, “Squr, Qurt, Tull.” Suddenly a rushing stream of clear water spouts from your mouth like a fountain, raining on Kodlak’s body.
“The purity!” he yells. “Yes, yes, I can feel it deep within my very soul. The beast is melting from me!”
The man convulses for a few minutes more, spinning round in circles by kicking his feet against the floor beneath him. Eventually, the effect of your Whisper ends, and the stream of water diminishes to a few final drops. The room stands in silence, waiting for Kodlak’s ultimate reaction.
The man slowly stands after collecting his clothing in his arms. “You did it, stranger!” he yells. “You did it!” The hall erupts into raucous cheers. “How can I ever repay you? Ask anything of me, anything at all, and it’s yours!”
Ask for his position. A werewolf army would be helpful to fight off a zombie apocalypse.
Ask for the necklace, take it into your hands, and close your eyes.
You ask him to take over as Harbinger of the Companions. The others are reluctant to follow a stranger, but bend once Kodlak happily proclaims it so with his full support. The following two weeks are some of the guild’s most productive. You tell the Companions of the impending doom, and they spend every minute of every day by your side preparing for it.
Two weeks later, the boundary between Sovngarde and the realm of the living crumples apart, just as the Cleanshaven predicted. Your army of werewolf warriors are helpful in warding off the undead hordes for the first few months, but as Jorraskr becomes one of the last remaining refuges for townsfolk, and your trained ranks grow ever thinner, your chance or survival dwindles.
Eventually, the day comes when the hordes become too much for even you. You and your brothers and sisters in arms are finally defeated. As you slowly die from the day’s wounds, you consider your life and smile. You died a warrior, not a beet miner. Just before the very end, it also strikes you that you die a warrior, but a foolish one. You were on track to prevent this from happening in the first place. What happened?
You carefully focus your attention on the door across the room and mutter the words “Meep, Merp, Muuu.” By focusing your Whisper on a stationary object, you hope to bring yourself to it instead of visa-versa.
Soon, your body lifts from the floor and you’re flying quickly through the air. You’re careful to tuck your knees up toward your chest to keep them from accidentally dangling into one of the traps scrawled across the floor below. Great success! The plan is working!
As you approach the other side of the room, you suddenly realize that you’re traveling much faster than you’d anticipated. And what’s worse, your aim was slightly off. You aren’t being drawn to the flat surface of the door, but instead to one of the large golden candlestick holders at its side. One of its pointed arms slides cleaning through your neck as you collide with it, hanging you on the wall like a winter’s coat.
A few days later, after the Oblivion Gate was closed and the College saved, a young apprentice tasked with cleaning out the mess is positively stumped at how your body entered such a precarious position in the first place.
Now’s as good a time as any to try out your new power. You close your eyes and concentrate on the words before speaking them aloud, “Squr, Qurt, Tull!” You feel a cool, soothing welling in the back of your throat, and soon a steady stream of pure, sparkling water is hosing from your mouth!
You tilt your head at the symbol in front of you on the floor, hoping your water will extinguish the fire rune.
And it may have, had that actually been a fire rune. Oh, that’s right, you remember as the water touches its edge, that’s the one for electricity, not fire! The rune detonates, and a burst of raw energy shoots out from its circle. One determined bolt travels up through the water coming from your mouth and down into your stomach (or wherever that water’s coming from). Regardless of the specifics, it’s certainly coming from somewhere inside of your body, and there’s not one place in there that would enjoy a massive jolt of electricity. You are electrocuted from the inside out. The resulting stench is unenviable.
You quietly climb onto Herbert’s broad shoulders and lean over Mercer. Lining up your mouth with the center of his head, you whisper the words, “Meep, Merp Muuu” so quietly that you can barely hear them yourself. The resulting effect is weak, but that’s what you were hoping for. Mercer’s hair stands on end, and soon the necklace slowly lifts from his head. You catch it in your hand as he whirls around. You and Herbert stumble backward, landing on the ground.
“Woah!” he exclaims. “It hit you two as well, huh? What was that? My hair feels funny.”
You slowly get back to your feet as he looks around the office for the source of the strange wind. He doesn’t seem to have noticed that his necklace has gone missing. You carefully move your hand into your pocket as you say, “Yes, very strange. Well, I should get going if I want to find Maven in a timely manner.”
“Yes, yes,” he says, still distracted by his fruitless search. “Out with you, then.”
Close your eyes, necklace in hand.
You collect yourself, aim your mouth toward your feet, and attempt a new power, “Glur, Merr, Berr.” You feel the effect of your Whisper surround your legs from the knees down. Suddenly, you can’t move faster than a sloth’s pace. The effect feels strange and unwelcome, but may be exactly what you need to cross the runic minefield before you.
With a magically forced caution, you slowly and deliberately make your way across the room, easily, though slowly, avoiding the large glowing traps. You always wondered why mages don’t make these things invisible … not that you’re complaining. Seeing the exact inch of the floor that could kill you at any moment is somewhat helpful from your present end of the situation.
You reach the door just moments before the effect wears off, and your speed returns to normal. Using the back of your hand, you wipe the sizable beads of sweat from your brow. That was close!
“Archmage!” you call confidentially, lightly rapping on his door with a flick of your knuckles. “We need to speak with”-you open the door-“ur … gen …cy-“
You’ve found the Archmage, but not as you’d expected. His body hangs from a hastily tied noose drooped over a tall rafter. A crumpled note waits in his open mouth.
You cross the room and remove the note from between the corpse’s teeth. “To whom it may concern,” it reads, “I can hear them outside. They’re coming for me, coming for me, I know it. There’s no escape for me. No escape for any of us. Wait, what’s that noise at the door? No, no, no! I don’t want to die, I don’t want to … “
The note trails off with a long stroke of his pen hastily dragging across the paper to its edge. Drops of blood drip from the parchment’s corner. You notice more writing at the bottom.
“Thank you for your time and attention reading this note. P.S. Please deliver my necklace to Adele, my sweet niece of six. She always thought it pretty, and I’ve no more use for it having just committed suicide. Much appreciated, The Archmage.”
You drop the note and look to the man’s neck. Sorry, Adele, you think, but this necklace has a far more important destiny than as a child’s plaything. You slowly remove the necklace from the dead man’s neck and pocket it. You got what you came for. Time to return to Sheogorath.
Close your eyes with the necklace in hand.
After closing your eyes for a few moments, you open them again, hoping to have reappeared in Sheogorath’s realm. Your instincts were correct, the Prince of Madness promptly transported you to his lands mere moments after collecting his prize.
“Why, hello, hello!” he says merrily. “I see you’ve done almost exactly what I asked of you, but not quite. Where’s the horker wearing a muumuu I’d asked you for? Wait, was that you? No, no, that was the five-year-old. Lazy little rugrat; it’s already been twenty minutes! Oh, where are my manners? Yes, your necklace. Very good work, probably. Now for your reward.” He gestures toward a nearby sheep.
“And how exactly does mutton fit into me getting to the library?” you ask drolly.
“It won’t be a sheep for long!” the Prince exclaims. “That’s what my Wobbajack, Wobbajack, Wobbajack is for, you know. Now tell me, which of the following three gifts would you like me to offer you? You may only choose one, and no givsees-backsees. If you don’t like what you pick, that’s a problem to take up with your brain! Okay, here we go. Second, we have a giant machine called the Slingshot of Much Great Launching. Very simple, really, just insert yourself, pull back the band, and walloo! Third, we have the The Teleporting Ring of Literal Accuracy. Put this little beauty on one of your little piggies and think about where you’d like it to take you. Got it off of a Khajiit trader named Wo’Mack-he swears by the thing. Finally, first, we have a comfy set of shoes called the Boots of Springheel Jill. Just climb a nearby mountain, jump off, and you can bounce right up through one of the windows. Probably. Who’s Jill and what was her genetic heel deficiency? No idea. Okay, no more chitchat, monkey! Choose, choose, choose before I forget why you’re here!”
The Slingshot of Much Great Launching.
The Teleporting Ring of Literal Accuracy.
The Boots of Springheel Jill.
Brash action worked for your entry exam, so why shouldn’t it work here as well? You snatch the necklace from Mercer’s neck and dash into the tavern. You make it two yards before a well-placed arrow pierces your knee. As you tumble to the ground, you consider that your adventuring days are likely over. But who knows, you consider, perhaps you can live the rest of your days as a guard. A second arrow lands in your heart, squashing those short-lived dreams like a tender aortic valve.
You grab the sharp letter opener from the desk and deftly slide it between the necklace strap and Mercer’s neck. Half a moment later, he’s grabbed you by the wrist and twisted the blade into your throat. As you bleed out, you wonder why you’d ever thought he wouldn’t feel you doing that.
You reach your hand to the blue headband above your eyes and whisper, “Cowa, Buun, Gaah!” Suddenly, the sky thunders and shakes with a noise so deafening that even Alduin pauses his attack to chase the disturbance with his cold, black eyes.
The blue behind the clouds above you tears open into a massive tunnel wreathed in bright green flame. What looks to be a colossal yellow orb is quickly passing through it. You squint your eyes and try to get a better look. As the object falls from the gateway, you can soon see it more clearly for what it us, an enormous turtle, easily the size of Alduin himself!
Within moments, the giant creature crashes down onto the mountain, launching a small avalanche of snow in all directions around it. You fly backward into the snow from the force, and struggle for a short while to unbury yourself and regain your footing.
Eventually, you’re standing again. Alduin isn’t so fortunate. The mammoth turtle you’ve summoned has landed directly on him, pinning his body helplessly to the ground. Only his head is free of the shell now on top of him. You slowly approach the stacked pair of giant creatures.
“What have you done?” Alduin yells. “Remove this oversized reptile from my back at once!”
The turtle begins to murmur in strange, bubbly sounds that, to your surprise, you can actually understand. “At your command, summoner,” it speaks.
“Alduin!” you exclaim. “I’ve bested you! Now leave these lands to save this realm and your own life!”
You quickly whisper, “Meep, merp, muuu!” The leaves and dust spiral toward you, but Alduin’s massive body seems unaffected. He cocks his jaw and releases the fiery blast he’d been preparing. Unlike his body, the dragon’s flames are affected by your Whisper, and suck quickly down your throat. Your body is fried from the inside out.
With the Sovngarde crisis behind you, you decide that you wish to know more of your destiny, and what it means to be Turtleborn. You return to the only people who would have the answers, the Cleanshaven.
After celebrating your accomplishment for several weeks, Splint officially accepts you into their order. For several years you quietly study the way of the Whisper under his tutelage, eventually learning ten additional spells more powerful than anything you’d ever imagined you could wield.
Eventually, the quiet life of a Cleanshaven monk makes you restless, and you decide to continue your adventures across Skyrim, searching out more Words of Power. You find them carved into hillsides, hidden in caves, and buried in ancient castles. With each one you discover, you grow stronger and stronger, eventually surpassing even the Splint’s expectations of you.
Finally contented with your own strength, you turn your attention back to the order. These smooth-cheeked men who’ve guided and taught you do not deserve such dirty rags and filthy homes. Soon, the day comes when you lead your Cleanshaven brethren up the mountainside to confront the Greybeards and take back your order’s rightful ancestral home.
During your travels you learned of a special Whisper that mutes all who hear it. It overcomes their Thu’ums with ease. The Greybeards find themselves powerless before your Whispers, and you decide to make them an offer: They may lose either their beards or their heads. Most, but not all, choose to shave. It takes some time, but eventually, members of the once-lost faction come to accept the truths of what is now known as the “Dovahkiin Crisis” and recommit themselves in heart and mind to the teachings of the Cleanshaven.
Your remaining years are spent in meditation and quiet. Some days bring the sweet memories of adventure, others the contentment of a life well lived. You never discovered great riches, nor great love, but you did discover yourself, and you never, ever, ate another beet for as long as you lived.
The ring seems the least risky of your options, and an oddly appropriate pairing to the necklace you were sent to collect. Sheogorath seems quite pleased with your choice, and waves the strange wand in his hand at the sheep beside him. You watch as the poor creature begins to shrink and transform, soon shifting and stretching into the form of a small ring. Once the process is finally complete, the Prince of Madness looks at you impatiently.
You pick up the small ring, and are pleased to find it the perfect fit for your pinky finger.
“Hold on to your friend there, and just think of where you want to go. It probably couldn’t be easier, I think,” Sheogorath explains.
You take Herbert’s hand and close your eyes. You’re not sure what the library looks like, but you know of it, and imagine a giant building in the sky above Whiterun.
A moment later, you find yourself horizontal, half-embedded in a stone wall. There’s a large, glowing scroll in front of you. Could this be it? The Elder Scroll? You reach for it, but your fingers are an inch too short. You wiggle and pull, trying to free yourself from the wall, but find yourself completely stuck in it, as if it was originally made with you in it.
“Let me guess,” a voice says. “The Teleporting Ring of Literal Accuracy.”
You turn your head to the side and see Herbert implanted in the wall just beside you. You reach over and lower his head, revealing a red-furred Khajiit on the other side of him.
“How did you know?” you ask. “Where are we? Why am I stuck in a wall?”
“It’s how the ring works,” he replies through a sigh. “My name is Wo’Mack, its last owner. I used it when trying to access the library four days ago. It literally places you inside of where you are trying to go. At least, that’s what I’ve been able to gather from my stay here.”
“I have a simple solution,” you say smugly. You close your eyes and think of Sheogorath’s realm. You need to get back to that Daedra and give him a piece of your mind. You open your eyes and are distressed to find yourself still stuck inside the wall. The only difference is that the ring is no longer on your finger.
“Yes,” Wo’Mack says. “Simple.” He laughs. “The ring’s second journey is always back to its master. You’ve just doomed another soul to Sheogorath’s tricks. But I suppose that means we’ll have more company soon.”
Over the next week, you get to know Wo’Mack. He’s not a bad guy, but certainly not the person with whom you’d want to spend the last few days of your life. Sadly, that’s exactly what he becomes the moment you starve to death eleven days later.
You’re mechanically minded, and the simple physics of a slingshot make you most comfortable. Sheogorath seems quite pleased with your choice, and waves the strange wand in his hand at the sheep beside him. You watch the poor creature begin to expand and transform into a large wooden slingshot with a massive rubber band on one end. You also notice that you’ve suddenly appeared back in your own realm, just a mile or so outside of Whiterun.
The slingshot seems already lined up perfectly to propel you to the library. You sit in the large cloth seat at the rubber’s center without delay, and pat your lap to summon Herbert to join you there. He sits on top of you, and you slowly walk back from the base of the device to stretch its band. Once the rubber seems taut, you lift your feet and allow the machine to launch.
You and your hireling fly through the air, and soon, the library comes into view. You seem perfectly lined up to pass straight through one of the building’s large windows. As you get closer, you begin to realize that while you’re lined up horizontally, you’re going to overshoot it by a good five feet. As you pass over the building you try to catch its edge with your hand. No luck.
The trip down toward the ground isn’t nearly as fun as the trip was going up. The somewhat impressive velocity you’ve managed is going to be a major problem when the ground shows up in a moment.
You shield your eyes from the sun and look at where you’re likely to land. Earlier hopes of a conveniently extant mountain of downy wool are dashed when you see the farm you’re on schedule to crash into. A minute passes, and you clench your teeth together as you impact directly with the grounds’ pigpen. Sheets of glass, small stone, and planks of wood break apart while the some of the larger pigs are sent flying from the wreckage. The small pigs aren’t nearly as lucky, and quite literally pop beneath the force of your collision.
You didn’t survive the ordeal, but at least the farmer will find a good deal of premade bacon strips to cook for his breakfast in the morning.
Perhaps oddly, the Boots seem to make most sense to you. Sheogorath looks quite pleased with your choice, and waves the strange wand in his hand at the sheep beside him. You watch the poor creature begin to shrink and transform into a a small, unassuming pair of leather shoes. You take them from the ground without delay, and strap them to your feet. When you stand again, you notice that you’ve suddenly appeared at the very top of a mountain standing nearly a half-mile outside of Whiterun. You can see the library from your vantage, circular and spinning, just ahead of you, at nearly the same elevation as your current position.
You kneel down and let Herbert climb onto your back. Cradling his legs with your arms, you take a deep breath, and jump off the mountain. It’s a quick trip down, and to your absolute delight, you don’t go splat when you hit the bottom. Instead, you bounce!
The boots fall apart after impact, but you soar straight upward into the sky, directly on target for one of the library’s large rectangular windows. It’s a bit squirrelly, but just as you begin to descend again, your arms catch the window’s ledge. Herbert is quick to climb from your back into the library, and offer you his help to crawl inside just after. You’ve made it.
Before either of you have a chance to absorb your new surroundings, you’re confronted by an elf with a large crown expanding from the back of his head. You’ve never seen an elf like this before. You turn to Herbert. He shrugs, seemingly just as unfamiliar as you are.
“Welcome to my library,” the elf says softly. “My name is Wan Shi Tong, I am the proprietor of this hallowed hall. Please know that while you may read or examine anything while you are here, removing anything from my library is strictly forbidden. Was there a particular knowledge you seek? It must have been difficult for you to arrive; I so seldom receive visitors. It’s been over one thousand years since my last, I believe. Excepting Wo’Mack that is, but he, I am afraid, is a different matter entirely.”
You bow politely. “Greetings,” you say. “My companion and I seek the wisdom of an Elder Scroll.”
The elf returns your genuflection equally. “You would not be the first,” he speaks evenly. “The Scrolls are one of the few things here older even than I. Sadly, I may have misspoken to you earlier when I claimed that all may be examined. The Scrolls cannot be examined without being opened, and that would be tantamount to removing them. You may look upon them, however, if you wish.”
He turns and begins walking down the rounded corridor. You find the walls on either side of your passage stacked ceiling-high with ancient, dusty tomes. You follow your host quietly, eyeing the various titles on the books. Only some are written in a language you can understand.
“You look upon me quizzically,” he says without turning. “Have you never seen a Snow Elf before?”
“Snow Elf?” you repeat. “I thought that race was long extinct.”
He pauses his walk, but only for a moment. “Extinct, you say? My, that is unfortunate. A curious thing; we Snow Elves are immortal. Oh, here we are.” He gestures gracefully at a doorway to his right.
You approach and he lightly stops you at the door. “This is as far as you may go.” He opens the room and you see not one but two Elder Scrolls in a display case at the back end of the room. “Look as long as you wish,” he says. “I will attend to my cleaning nearby.”
He lifts a small rag from his pocket and begins to dust the shelving near the door. You need to get your hands on at least one of those scrolls before leaving.
This is a situation best resolved with violence.
This is a situation best resolved with persuasion.
This is a situation best resolved with stealth.
You bear the Elder Scroll at Dovakhiin and watch a burst of light wash over him. Suddenly, the Elder Scroll vanishes from your grasp.
“Dovahkiin?” you ask cautiously.
“Not now, good sir,” he says, almost drunkenly. “For I must fight Alduin the World Eater. Ooh, there he is right over there! Have at ye!”
Dovahkiin rushes past you, and you watch as he swings his massive sword at a nearby bunny with a terrified look on its face. The tiny rabbit does its best to dodge and duck the madman’s strikes as it flees the path for denser brush.
“Come back here, Alduin!” he yells as he chased the poor rabbit back down the mountain.
That was easy, you think. Now, there’s just the matter of actually dealing with Alduin. You turn your face to look at the top of the mountain pass and are surprised to see Alduin’s massive, horned face staring down at you from above. Everything about the monstrous black dragon is terrifying. The air surrounding you drops ten degrees. Suddenly, you remember that you came here without an actual plan. If Alduin is still around when Dovahkiin snaps to, all of this will have been for nothing. You must think of something, and fast. Who knows how long Dovahkiin will be content chasing that bunny around? Just one thing is clear: You’ve come much too far to back down now. Your destiny awaits.
Continue up the mountain and confront Alduin the World Eater.
You see no other option than to fight. You draw your sword and lift it to striking position. Before you can stab the librarian, he leaps back from your reach and begins chanting a series of words you do not recognize. Soon, he finishes, punching his final word with a sharply abrupt crescendo. Suddenly, a massive demon appears between you and the Snow Elf, unlike any dremora you’ve seen.
“Behold the cacofiend,” Wan Shi Tong calls from behind his summoned monster. “Enemy of all who seek to betray me or my library!”
The giant beast’s black wings create a cyclone of dust that obscures the room. It roars in a screeching tone more fearful than any sound you’ve had the misfortune of hearing. His flaming eyes seem burn straight through you.
Herbert is an elf. Elves are good with bows. Throw Herbert your bow and command him to open fire!
Quickly mutter your drawing Whisper, Meep, Merp, Muuu at the books behind the beast.
Use the sword you received from the Jarl. Perhaps he gave it to you for a reason.
You quickly whisper, “Glur, merr, berr!” The effect quickly takes hold of the dragon. You watch as he slowly moves his head back, slowly opens his mouth, and slowly covers you in fire. You quickly burn to ash.
You point at a thick red book protruding slightly past the others on the top shelf of the nearest wall. “Excuse me, Wan Shi Tong,” you say. “But I’d very much appreciate it if you would fetch that book for me. I’ve been yearning to read from its pages for as long as I can remember.”
The Snow Elf follows your gesture to the tome. “Very odd that you would labor to read that particular text,” he replies.
“Why?” you ask defensively. “I’m a big reader. I, uh, read big books all the time.”
“It is just that … ” he says calmly. “I do not know why you would be interested in reading ‘Mama, Where’s My Milk,’ a step-by-step guide that details the most effective methods for breast-feeding disabled Khajiit kittens.”
“Ah,” you stumble. “Yes, well, you see–“
“Excuse me, Wan Shi Tong?” you say politely. He turns from his work and grants you his attention. “There’s something I need to tell you about why my companion and I have come here.”
You nod to Herbert. He returns your gestures with a confused expression. He clearly has no idea what you’re up to. You show him your fingers as you count them down: Three, two, one … go! Not waiting for your companion to catch on, you attempt a sprint into the adjoining room.
In a flash of impressive reflex, the Snow Elf catches your collar and spins you round back into the hallway. After catching your footing, you look at him. He’s glaring violently. There’s no other choice now but to force your way past.
“I’ll be honest with you,” you say.
“I would appreciate that,” he replies cordially.
You tell him briefly of Dovakhiin, Alduin, and the impending apocalypse. He nods while you speak, not seeming to doubt you. Once he’s sure you’ve finished your story, he speaks.
“I do not disbelieve you. Snow Elves have astounding powers of observation. Successfully lying to our kind is nearly impossible. So, having heard and understood your tale, allow me to offer a solution that would benefit us both. If this merger of Sovngarde and the realm of living is to truly occur, save this cockamamie scheme of yours, then the souls of the dead will inhabit the bodies of the dead, correct?”
“Exactly!” you exclaim.
“Then simply stay here, friend,” he offers. “Absorb my knowledge and live among wisdom while the wicked world below burns and wails. I assure you, we would be more than safe from such a catastrophe at this height.”
“But what about the people below?” you ask.
“They are not my concern,” he answers stonily. “Neither should they be yours.”
Interesting. Ask him to elaborate; he does seem to have a point, after all.
The concept of living out your days as this librarian does seems a fate worse than Oblivion. Try a new idea.
“You see, it’s my mother. She’s dying,” you try. “She contracted Argonian Stumble-Flu from a passing band of lizard minstrels. Our neighbor, as fate would have it, is the foremost expert in the disease, and claims that only an Elder Scroll can cure it; strange, I know. And if she dies, then my siblings and I will likely starve to death soon after. She’s the bread earner, you see.”
“Yes,” the Snow Elf replies, as he puts his arm around your shoulders. “I see, I see.” He lightly walks you over near the window and stares out into the blank blue sky. “Since my race is now extinct on the surface, most alive today doubtfully know very much about our people. Aside from our immortality, we have astounding powers of observation. I have the ability to monitor things such as heart rates, blood pressure, and temperature just by looking at a subject as he or she speaks. That is what made our race such fantastic doctors.”
Before you can react, he takes your wrist and flips your body outside the window. He finishes speaking as you dangle from his expert grip. “It is also what makes us such fantastic lie detectors.” He scoffs and releases you. You spend the next 46.8 seconds regretting your attempt to deceive him.
Fighting the Elf would be risky, and convincing him to let you leave with what must be his most precious possession seems unlikely. The only realistic option left to you is stealing the Scroll. Still, the task won’t be easy. He is standing just over there, after all.
Swiftness is key. Run past and grab the Scroll.
Deception is key. Ask about a book high on the shelf, and sneak inside the chamber while he fetches it.
Distraction is key. Sacrifice Herbert as a decoy.
You quickly grab Herbert’s elbow and thrust it forward, causing the poor elf to inadvertently swat at Wan Shi Tong.
The librarian quickly spins around to face his attacker. “How dare you strike at me within my own library! Prepare for the worst!”
Herbert backs away as the Snow Elf enters what you recognize as a spell caster’s stance.
Forget Herbert, and run into the Elder Scroll chamber while Wan Shi Tong is distracted by murdering your companion.
You created this mess. Stand by your friend in combat.
You ask the librarian about his daily life, and the reasons he had for abandoning life on the surface hundreds of years ago. Oddly, everything he seems to say rings true. The world’s problems don’t begin and end with Alduin. After all, your life was terrible before you even knew there was an apocalypse coming. Let some nobleman now spending his days slurping red wines and bedding beautiful maidens save and protect that daily life he surely loves. Your payment for saving him would be nothing more than a return to beet mining, and that doesn’t sounds as appealing as living in a flying stone donut filled with a lifetime’s worth of books.
Eventually, you agree to the Elf’s proposal, and he seems quite pleased with the decision. The remainder of your life, some sixty odd years or so, is a peaceful exploration of philosophy, theology, history, and language. You even eventually learn to speak Herbert’s native tongue. When you finally die, your soul passes through Sovngarde and spits back into a dead corpse waiting in the living realm. With all the fresh brains long since eaten, you find the remainder of your un-life, some sixty thousand odd years or so, much less pleasant.
Wan Shi Tong seems quite pleased with his retort. It will be difficult to convince him of your plight, but you have to figure something out, and soon. Time is running out.
You quickly whisper, “Squr, qurt, tull!” As Alduin releases his flame, you release a stream of crystal water. A thick cloud of steam is all that remains between you as both payloads soon run dry. You smirk, happy with your choice. Alduin lifts one of his claws and decapitates you.
“Meep Merp Muuu,” you whisper quickly. Suddenly, hundreds of heavy tomes fly out from the bookshelf behind the demon, battering him with heavy blows to the back of his head. The cacofiend seems more annoyed than injured, and turns to see who would dare assault him from behind with literature. As he looks behind him, a particularly large book slaps him across the left cheek. He tries to swat at it with his short arms, but loses his balance and falls face-first to the floor. He’s back on his feet quickly, but shakes his head dizzily.
Somehow avoiding the urge to formulate a clever witticism regarding the strength of the quill in relation to the sword, you make your follow up decision as quickly as possible.
Now throw Herbert your bow and command him to open fire!
Now use the sword you received from the Jarl.
Ignore the cacofiend for a moment. Try to run past him to the Snow Elf.
You point your sword in the proper direction and charge. The blade turns to ash to moment it connects with the demon’s fiery flesh. What were you thinking? Of course the Jarl didn’t give it to you this sword for a reason. He’d never even heard of the library floating high above his city, so how could he know what you’d encounter there? That sword was likely whatever iron scrap he had lying around when you sought his audience. The nerve.
Disarmed, you attempt a fistfight, sadly your final option. In an outcome that shouldn’t have surprised you, your fists meet a similar fate to the sword. The pain is so unbearable that you’re almost glad when the fiend chomps your head off in a single bite. Almost.
You rush him from behind, managing to tackle him off-guard. The two of you spin tangled on the ground, and when a mound of snow near the edge of the mountain finally slows you to a stop, you’re the one on top.
“I have you pinned,” you yell. “Now listen, you’re going to read this-“
“FUS RO DAH!” he interrupts.
Your body flies from the top of his, and off the side of the mountain.
You swiftly throw your bow and quiver to Herbert, currently standing bravely behind you. He catches the weapon and offers you a reassuring nod.
This fiend will rue the day he wound up on the wrong side of an elf’s bow, you think smugly.
Herbert fumbles an arrow from the quiver, and struggles to line its notch with the string. Oh no, it seems your completely unjustified, stereotypical view of Elven bow efficiency is about to bite you in the rear.
You’re somewhat surprised moments later when your assessment comes true in such a … specific manner. Herbert finally manages to place the arrow on the string, only to launch it directly into the right cheek of your posterior. You collapse to the floor. It’s not long before the cacofiend takes advantage of your woeful situation, easily slicing you in twain with the curved claw of his middle toe.
“Wait, wait, wait,” you say. “Let’s just talk it out. I’m sorry I acted so rashly before. Please, let me explain what I’m really doing here.”
Wan Shi Tong nods and lowers his weapon as you do. “Speak if it is your will to do so,” he says calmly.
Honesty is the best policy.
Policies are for nerds. Lies move mountains, and, uh, libraries.
You successfully run past the demon with Herbert still at your side. Before Wan Shi Tong can react, you punch him with the haft of your sword. He loses concentration, and the cacofiend is unsummoned. The Snow Elf recovers quickly, using the open window’s ledge as a support to regain his balance. Before you can attempt a second blow, he draws a sword similar in size and design to your own.
Charge with a power attack!
Realize that you’re both evenly matched, and that further fighting is pointless. Attempt to talk it out.
Throw Herbert at Wan Shi Tong to create an opening.
You lift your sword, and run at Wan Shi Tong. He dodges to the right long before you arrive at him, but it’s impossible to stop your power attack once having started. You continue past where you’d aimed, and out the open window behind where the librarian once stood. You fall for a long while, then oddly, land on your feet. Somewhat less odd is the fact that you die anyway.
“I can’t abandon all of Skyrim and beyond to such a terrible fate,” you argue.
“And why should I worry about the lives of creatures who walk the dirt of the mortal planet so far beneath us?” the librarian asks. “Their lives and deaths have never held effect upon me or my library.”
“Do you know what happened to the Snow Elves?” you ask.
“I believe my surprise at your earlier announcement of their extinction should answer that question,” he replies sharply. The subject clearly unnerves him.
“Well, they didn’t simply go extinct,” you explain. “That’s only part of the history. Your people led a genocidal campaign against the other races, and when the others fought back, your people fled underground where centuries of darkness and pain led them to devolve into what we now call the Falmer, blind, savage beasts who live in pain and misery.” Wan Shi Tong looks shocked by the revelation.
“They do grow some impressive beets, though,” you add quickly. “But everything else about them is seriously not good! Not good at all. And that’s where your lack of compassion leads. Do not make the same mistake that doomed your ancestors to centuries of a fate worse than death.”
Wan Shi Tong ponders your words for a moment before brusquely taking you by the arm. “Very well,” he says. “I can see you speak the truth about my people. Your words have landed as a soft touch upon my stony heart. You may take the Scrolls.”
He leads you into the room and gestures toward the display case containing the prize that you seek. As you walk toward the large, coiled artifact, Herbert shakes his head “no.”
Before you can ask him why, he says something in his strange tongue to Wan Shi Tong. The Snow Elf nods and turns to you. “Your companion says that the library likely contains information about his lands; his true purpose in accompanying you here. He offers you his apologies, but has asked me to inform you that he will stay behind with me.”
You’re saddened to see Herbert go. He may be the only true friend you’ve ever made in this life. He will be sorely missed.
“I will now take my leave of you as well,” Wan Shi Tong remarks. “Good luck in your quest, Turtleborn. Now, Herbert, let me show you where the authors beginning with ‘T’ begin–” The two of them disappear from your view down the hall.
Enter the chamber!
You explain the situation to Wo’Mack, and he’s unsurprisingly upset by your decision. He screams, pleads, cries, and yells, but you just see no way around it. You need to save the world, and you need to get down in one piece to do so. Wo’Mack’s fate is regrettable, but what’s one Khajiit weighed against the whole of Tamriel?
As you lift one of the Scrolls you reflect on Herbert. You wish he was coming with you, but it’s much too late for those thoughts now. “Goodbye,” you whisper as you open the parchment’s seal. The room fills with light, and a moment later you find yourself in Riverwood with one unused Elder Scroll beneath your arm.
You nod to Wo’Mack, and the look of relief that washes across his weary face warms your soul. You open one of the Elder Scrolls and a flash of pure light washes the room. A moment later, both the light and the Scroll you opened have vanished. Wo’Mack stands beside you, free of the wall. He bounds over happily and hugs you.
“You have saved my life, friend,” he says earnestly. “I will not forget this kindness until the end of my days.”
You feel comforted by your ability to set aside selfish desires to help a soul in need, but the rest of the world needs your help, too. It’s time return to the Cleanshaven with the unopened Scroll.
Suddenly, you remember. The Boots of Springheel Jill broke apart upon your bounce into the library. You’ve no easy way to return to the city below.
Use the remaining Scroll to wish for a safe return to the surface.
Tuck the remaining Scroll under your arm, jump from the window, and hope for the best.
“Sorry Herbert,” you say as you toss your companion at the Snow Elf. Neither Herbert, nor Wan Shi Tong were expecting the sudden, brash maneuver, as evidenced by the look of absolute shock found on both of their faces just before tumbling out the window together.
You take a moment to remember the good times you shared with Herbert. He may have been the only true friend you’d ever found in this terrible bit of tragic theater they call life. You shed a small tear, and wipe it away with the back of your hand. You did what you know in your heart was necessary.
Such is the way of the Turtleborn.
Enter the nearby room to collect your Elder Scroll.
You walk into the chamber and close the door behind you. There it is, the Elder Scroll! And not one, but two! As you step toward the glass case that holds them, you hear a voice coming from somewhere in the room.
“Hello?” it calls, the accent clearly Khajiit. “Some help for a fellow adventurer, perhaps?”
You look around the room and suddenly notice a large white cloth draped over something protruding from the east-most wall. Whatever it’s covering is … wiggling.
You cautiously approach and lift the sheet. You’re surprised to see 1/3 of the body of a Khajiit–a shoulder, left arm, and head–sticking out from the wall as if this poor cat was somehow built into the very stone itself!
“Thank you,” he says as you uncover him. “That damnable Snow Elf covered my face when he found me here six days ago. My name is Wo’Mack, famous adventurer. I’m sure you’ve heard of me. I’m sure all of Skyrim is worried for where poor Wo’Mack has disappeared to by now.”
“Uh, yes, Wo’Mack. That certainly does sound familiar,” you lie. “But tell me, how did you find yourself implanted in a wall.”
He smiles. “I’ve found my share of treasure from many a cave and bandit hideout,” he says, “but then there came a day when I first heard of the Elder Scrolls, ancient artifacts able to grant their bearer any wish, any wish at all! Who needs trinkets and handfuls of gold, when one could own mountains of diamonds with a mere word! Do not think me greedy, friend, I’m simply a cat of efficiency. I have a family, a beautiful wife waiting for me in Whiterun, and six kittens back in Elsweyr.”
“I still don’t understand how you’ve come to live in a wall,” you say.
“I made a deal with the Prince of Madness, Sheogorath,” he answers. “Have you heard of him?”
“Yes,” you saying under rolling eyes. “I’ve had my dealings with the being.”
“I completed a quest in his name and was granted an artifact known as the The Teleporting Ring of Literal Accuracy.”
“He nearly offered me the same prize,” you add.
“Be glad you did not take it. The cursed piece of jewelry is … well … literally accurate. I suppose I should have seen this coming. I’ve lived six days with no food or water beneath that smelly old cloth, my paw just inches from reaching one of the Scrolls. Please, friend. I am sure you have come for the Scroll as well, but there are two. Use one to wish my freedom and spare me from a fate of petrified starvation.”
You walk forward and slowly lift the two Elder Scrolls from their case. With these Scrolls at your command, you’ve the ability to bend the will of the universe to yours in any two specific ways you choose. What will you do?
Immediately save Wo’Mack from his cruel fate. Keep the other for saving the world.
Forget Wo’Mack. Wish for a saucy harem and mountains of wealth. Keep the other for saving the world.
Forget Wo’Mack and the harem. Teleport back to Riverwood. Keep the other for saving the world.
You can’t help yourself. Wo’Mack has spent six days in a wall, but you’ve spent your whole life in a three-foot by three-foot hut mining beets from a stinky cave! You deserve some fun.
You open the Scroll, and soon the chamber fills with a bright, effulgent light. When it fades, you find fifty nude men and women dancing around you. The room has transformed into what looks like a pirate’s horde. Piles of golden bars, shining jewels, and valuable coins surround you.
The resulting wealth orgy last for hours, and even Wo’Mack seems to eventually enjoy himself when one of the more lusty Argonian maids takes an interest in him. As the attendees eventually fall asleep from exhaustion, you find yourself seated on a diamond throne, the remaining Elder Scroll in your lap. This is was fun–more fun than you’ve ever had in your life–but you need to decide what comes next. You look toward the window.
You hug onto the Scroll, climb the window’s ledge, and jump through the opening. As you sail through the air to the ground, you begin to wonder how you ever arrived at the conclusion to leap out a window as high as the clouds themselves.
In a panic of regret, you struggle to open the Scroll and wish for safe landing before you crash into the ground at 9.7 meters per second. Sadly, you aren’t quick enough.
You come to terms with the sad reality of your decision. The only way down is the final Elder Scroll, and once you arrive on the surface, you’ll no longer have an Elder Scroll with which to save the world from apocalypse. You didn’t even rescue Wo’Mack. He’ll spend the rest of his days in the library, trapped far above his family below.
You know that once you return from the library, you’ll be back where you started before discovering your destiny as Turtleborn. You’ll have failed, and in two weeks, the wall dividing the realm of the living and the dead will have dissolved. At least you know how much longer the world will be around, and that idea certainly puts the act of mining beets each day in perspective.
You nod to Wo’Mack, shake the poor Khajiit’s hand, and use the Scroll.
“Turtleborn!” Splint exclaims as you walk through the door. “Have you truly returned? Is that–is that what I think it is beneath your arm?”
“It wasn’t easy,” you say, resting it on the ground near your feet.
“You deserve a celebration, a banquet, three barrels of mead!” the man says happily.
“Well, alright! That sounds–“
“But there’s of course no time for any of that,” he finishes, his voice dropping to the grim tones of import you’re used to.
“No,” you cough. “Of course not.”
“We’ve had word that Dovahkiin travels to the Throat of the World to face Alduin,” he explains quickly. “The time to act is now if we’ve any hope of stopping him!”
“Then I must go!” you exclaim, lifting the Scroll into your arms. “There’s nary a moment to spare!”
“Wait,” Splint says. “You’ve more than proven yourself now, my child. Allow us to equip you as the true child of turtles that you are.” Two other Cleanshaven appear from the back room, each cradling an object in their arms.
“First,” Splint proclaims, “your armor: the Shell of Shelter.” He lifts what looks like a large, green turtle shell from the first bearer, and you allow him to slip it over your head and around your body. “Second,” he says, “your weapon: the Sword of Snapping.” He lifts what looks like a long katana from his brethren’s hands and you take it by the haft. “And finally,” he says. “this.” He slowly removes a blue strip of cloth from his pocket and gingerly offers it to you. “The bandana of summoning. Wear this, and gain a Turtleborn’s most powerful Whisper: Cowa, Buun, Gaah. Use this only in emergencies, for uttering the words will summon a turtle from another realm!”
You take the bright blue headband and tie it around your forehead. “So, this summoned turtle from another realm,” you say. “Does it have special, magical, other-realm-type combat powers?”
The man looks confused. “No, it’s just a turtle,” he says.
“Be away, Turtleborn!” he exclaims. “Dovahkiin is on the move, there is no time to tarry!”
“Right!” you shout, spinning from the Cleanshaven and dashing from the door. You need to catch up with Dovahkiin, and fast.
You sneak to the nearby stable and choose a steed as black as midnight. The moment you mount her, a voice from behind you screams, “Stop! Theif!”
“Heeya!” you yell, jamming your heels into the sides of your stolen horse. The horse springs to life, and you steer her toward the mountain.
Once you reach the base, you look behind you. Five mounted guards are on your tail, bows drawn, arrows pointed in your direction. You duck as the first wave fires overhead. As you continue farther up the incline of the mountain, you realize you’ll need to do something about these pesky guards if you’re ever to catch and deal with Dovahkiin.
You run to the front of town and eventually find the man who owns the horse and cart. “Sir, please, take me up to the Throat of the World with haste!”
“Alright, alright, just take your seat in the back there and we’ll be off and away in good measure. Just settle in now, settle in.”
As the cart begins to move, the driver begins to speak. He blathers on and on about his cheating wife, his good-for-nothing daughter, the neighbor that steals his paper, the problem with the Empire, the problem with the Stormcloaks, the time he thinks he saw a draugr, which nearby caves are filled with iron deposits, which nearby caves are filled with skeever deposits, why two-handed weapons aren’t as efficient as one-handed weapons, the difference between a waraxe and a battleaxe, and finally, how Adrianne Avenicci actually does claim to be the best blacksmith in Whiterun once she’s had enough mead.
The whole conversation annoys you so much, that you slink down in the back of his cart low enough to where he can’t see you covering your ears.
Eventually, you sit back up, worried that the trip is taking far longer than it should. You look around you. You aren’t on a mountain at all! You’re in a snowy forest that you don’t even recognize, and the driver is somehow still yapping!
“Hey!” you shout over him. “I told you I needed to go to the Throat of the World.”
“Solitude?” he shouts back. “Oh! I thought you’d said Riften!”
“Stop!” you yell. “Just stop the cart. I’m getting off.”
He does what you ask, and you do what you threatened. Soon, the cart and its loquacious driver are gone from sight, and you’re alone and lost in the woods somewhere north of Riverwood.
By the time you arrive back in town, there’s a massive celebration consuming the village. It seems Dovahkiin has just “saved the world” by defeating Alduin.
You decide that the best way to catch up with Dovakhiin is on foot. With any luck, he’s camped somewhere along the mountain preparing for his battle with Alduin. The trail is ice cold, and far more vertical than you’d prefer, but after hours of steady climbing, you finally see a large man hunched beside a jagged stone in the distance. You slowly approach, careful to keep your footsteps silent against the crunching snow. Soon, you see the figure more clearly. It’s Dovahkiin, sharpening his blade with a whetstone. It’s not too late!
Because it is to be Dovahkiin affected by the Scroll’s power, and your will that must guide the entrancement, he must read the Scroll while it remains in your grasp. You consider the best way to accomplish this.
“Squr, Qurt, Tull!” you whisper. A forceful stream of water erupts from your mouth, flowing down the path behind you. As it connects with the stone, it turns to ice, transforming the road into a slippery incline. All five horses giving chase lose their footing and slide from the road. You’ve done it!
Suddenly the sound of a loud growl spooks your steed. You quickly turn your face forward to see its cause, but the water is still flowing from your mouth. You cover the path in front of you in ice as your horse slips, bucking you off onto the side of the path. You slide five feet forward and find the source of the growl that caused this mess. It’s a snow bear. There’s no traction beneath your feet to help carry you away from the monstrous beast. He eats you without delay.
You kick your horse to speed her and travel swiftly into the blizzard. To your surprise, four of the five guards are resolute enough to follow you inside. You see three more arrows sail past you, travelling far closer to your body than you’d prefer.
“Where’s the fourth?” you begin to wonder. The answer is soon given in the form of sharp pain. You look down and find an arrow lodged deep inside your knee. You lose your grip from the pain and fall into the snow. Your horse travels ahead without you.
Soon, the four guards circle you on the ground. One of them smiles. “That’s a painful place to take flint, that I’ll say for sure. Here, take my hand.” He slowly helps you to your feet. Your entire leg is writhing in pain.
“Come back with us, lad,” the guard says. “We’ll warm you up and fix you a hot meal in the barracks.”
“What about the horse?” you ask weakly. “Will you take me to the dungeons?”
The guard looks down at your bleeding leg. “It’s no harm,” he says. “We’ll send a party for the steed in the morning and return her to the stables. The way I figure, that piercing is punishment enough to learn you. It’s enough to learn you, isn’t it?” He eyes you sharply. You nod.
The guards help you back to the barracks and mend your wound. It’s three full days before you’re out of bed. You hear the news not much later; Dovahkiin has slain Alduin, and “saved the world.”
The guards take a liking to you, and soon offer you a job among their ranks. There are only two weeks left before the apocalypse, but you decide to join them until the end days come. At least when you die, you die with the knowledge that you were an adventurer before you took an arrow to the knee, not just a lowly beet miner.
The only way to prove your might as the Turtleborn is to act as a Turtleborn. You focus your mind and take a deep breath. Your concentration allows you to notice the movement in Alduin’s neck. If you’re not mistaken, he’s preparing to blast you with fire.
Choose your whisper.
“Dovahkiin!” you yell.
The man is quick to his feet. He turns and looks you over. You can tell from his stupor that he doesn’t recognize you from your previous meeting in the cave.
“What?” he asks brusquely.
“I have something here that you really need to see,” you say.
He eyes you suspiciously. “What is it?”
“It’s … “
“It’s a nude portrait of your housecarl, Lydia,” you answer, waving the scroll in front of him playfully.
“How … dare you,” he says in a low, menacing tone. “How dare you sully Lydia’s honor only two moons after her death?”
“Oh,” you stumble. “Did I say Lydia? I meant, uh, Wynn-“
“FUS RO DAH,” he interrupts.
Your body flies from the side of the mountain.
“Alduin!” you exclaim, purposely leaving your hand far from the haft of your sword. “I have business with you. Will you choose to hear it?”
“I do not know you,” the mighty beast snarls, his voice the sound of a thousand rusted nails scratching tin. “What business could you possibly claim to have with Alduin the Almighty Swallower of Worlds?”
“There was a man on the way up this mountain,” you yell above the terrible mountain winds. “He is Dovahkiin, and he meant to slay you! I have stopped him.”
“Dovahkiin?” the dragon exclaims, thumping his heavy tail against the snowy ground in rage. “Do not speak of ‘Dovahkiin’ and his false name to me. If he was truly to face me, then I am displeased by your interference. Oh, how I ache to swallow him whole!”
You need to convince Alduin to leave and not return before this situation becomes violent.
“Foolish mortal!” Alduin shouts. “I’ve skinned a family of cave bears by the accidental flick of my tail. And now I shall do the same to you!”
Whoops. It seems things may get violent after all.
You draw the Sword of Snapping without delay. Alduin hisses and flaps his giant, spiked wings in front of his body, obscuring your view of him with a billow of dust, dirt, and snow. Suddenly, the black dragon’s mighty tail swoops toward your legs from the miasma. You somehow manage to leap over just in time, evading the blow and landing back on your feet a moment later.
Alduin’s massive head is quick to follow his tail, swooping in toward you through the haze, mouth open, teeth bared. He snaps his jaws, once, twice, three times you dodge his bite. His last chomp grazes you. You’re already tiring. Things cannot continue like this for much longer.
You brandish your sword, hoping to take the offensive. As he thrusts his scaled head at you a forth time, you swing your weapon at him. Its metal connects with the side of one of his rapier-like teeth. Small blue sparks shower outward from the impact, burning your hand as they fall. The dragon is completely uninjured.
Had someone ever told you during your less-than-illustrious beet mining career that the day would come when you’d underestimate a dragon, you’d have laughed in his or her foolish face. But you aren’t laughing now; that seems to be exactly what you’ve done.
You’ve little chance at subduing such a mighty beast with naught but your sharpened steel. No, you’ll need something more. Something only a Turtleborn can wield.
Alduin leaps in front of you, his long neck arching back. You can see his gullet quivering. You get the sudden sensation that this creature will soon breathe a deadly whirl of fire in your direction. You have perhaps a moment to choose a Whisper before he releases his flames.
“He is destined to defeat you,” you reply. “Even competing prophets agree on that accord. You must see that I’ve saved your life. And now you must repay me by following my instruction. Leave these lands, this world if you’re able, and do not return for 100 years or until the Dovahkiin has died old and grey!”
Alduin stomps one of his mighty claws forward and brings his terrifying face an inch from yours. “Do not speak to me of Dov honor, mortal! You know nothing of my kind, and can levy no greater insult than such an impertinent presumption!”
Negotiations have failed. There’s no avoiding it now, you’ll need to convince him with strength and steel.
“Mighty dragon,” you begin, “surely you understand your great importance to the realms of life and death!”
“This is I do, mortal,” he replies. “It is a credit to you that you recognize the same.”
“That insolent mortal, the one who calls himself the Dovahkiin, was to ascend your mountain and slay you upon it,” you say. “Without your presence, the boundaries between our realm and the lands of Sovngarde would collapse, filling this world with immortal souls in the long-dead shells of bone and flesh that rest beneath our dirt. Surely, you understand how this end would benefit neither of our kind. Soon, Dovahkiin will wake from a spell that was placed upon him. He will believe you dead, and the world will continue on as it has. You, however, must leave from these lands while the Dovahkiin still breathes. If he sees you alive, the cycle will complete, and our realms will be doomed to apocalypse!”
Alduin snorts. “You would create a compelling argument if not for a single flaw. No mortal could ever defeat me. I am no ordinary Dov. Let him clear his insignificant mind of enchantment and face me. I shall save this world of yours and mine by feasting on his innards.”
It seems like he gets the bigger picture, but there must a way to convince this thick-headed dragon that he would have been slain if not for your interference.
You decide on a more patient strategy. Let your opponent show his hand first, then counter once he’s exposed a weakness. This armor you were given feels nearly indestructible. You’re certain that it can absorb at least one attack from this dragon without allowing you injury. Alduin steps forward aggressively, eying your odd armor. Perhaps he’s working through a similar calculation.
Eventually the dragon decides on his most prudent move, and unfortunately, it was one you hadn’t accounted for in your strategy. Alduin opens his jaw wide and swallows you whole, armor and all.
You tumble to the back of his throat and slide down his neck. If a dragon wasn’t currently eating you, you may have considered the ride fun. Eventually, you land in his stomach with a splash. His gut is dark and squishy. Not sure of what to do, you sit and wait.
Five minutes later, you see a small light appear from the top of the neck that dropped you here. Soon, a second body tumbles down to join you. It’s Dovahkiin! He seems still stunned by the effects of the Elder Scroll. Alduin must have somehow snuck up on him after eating you.
“Dovakhiin has defeated me in battle,” you exclaim. “Would you believe that to be so?”
“Of course I believe it to be so,” Alduin bellows back. “That mortal is thrice your puny size, and a powerful foe. Powerful compared to all but me.”
“Then if he can defeat me, and I can defeat you, you must believe that he could have beaten you as well.”
You never knew that dragons laughed, but unless you’re confusing the sound for something else, that’s exactly what Alduin is doing. “Your logic is sound,” he finally manages after quieting. “But is testing your claim so worth your life?”
“Face me, so that we should come to terms!” you yell.
Suddenly, Alduin’s face loses what you only now can recognize as joviality. “As you wish,” he growls.
No one ever said this was going to be easy.
“The Dovakhiin is right down the mountain,” you say. “Go see for yourself if–“
Before you can finish speaking, Alduin has taken flight. “Then I shall go and save this world you hold so dear by eating him!” you hear him yell as he soars past your sight down the mountainside.
You run back down the path as quick as you can, but it’s another half hour before you reach the site of Alduin and Dovahkiin’s battle. You’re just in time to watch Dovahkiin’s sword pierce the dragon’s head between the eyes. Alduin flops down dead in the snow.
Dovahkiin runs to you. “Do you see now, officer?” he yells. “All that I do for you and your precious town? While you’ve busied yourself in coming after me for a bounty of five gold, I’ve gone and saved the world! The whole world! So fine, now we can travel to your jails so I can hand you my penalty there instead of here, for whatever reason your captain has created the policy.”
“Forget it,” you say, staring at the Dragon corpse. “Enjoy the next two weeks of your life. They’re all that remain.”
Over the next fourteen days, you do your best to follow your own advice. Sadly, you fail at that as well.
The man in front of you has no right to rob you of your destiny. That horn rightfully belongs to the one true Turtleborn, and you’ve come here this day to claim it, regardless of whatever strange script this guy’s seemed to memorize.
You swiftly knee the hulking man in his stomach, causing him to drop you to your feet. At least now you’re on a more equal footing with your opponent. Let’s see how you deal with my true power, you think, inhaling the air in front of you.
“Meep, merp, mu-” you begin to whisper. Suddenly, the man in the horned helmet breathes in deeply and releases the same three thundering words you’d heard him use against the ceiling earlier. Your Whisper is lost in them.
Your body flies upward and back, crashing flatly against the out-stretched finger of the marble statue behind you. The petrified hero’s digit pierces your back, travels your heart and emerges through the front of your chest.
Dovahkiin smirks and leaves with his prize. It’s four and a half dreadful hours later before you succumb to your wounds and perish.