Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day Ten and Eleven: Grapes of Wrath

A bright orange sphere signals that it is morning, but it’s not the sun. It’s Sir Dion of Beta-Carotine, the guardsman, standing in my room.

I’m kind of annoyed. What kind of scumbag walks into someone’s room while they’re sleeping, wakes them up, and has a little chat?

Oh, right. Right.

Anyway, Dion is kind of a dick. He warns me that Glarthir is crazy, and tells me to report any strange behavior to him or another guardsman. Then, he leaves.

It is at that moment I realize something truly awful. Before I went to bed last night I was rifling through my inventory and outfits and stuff, I guess I accidentally put on my stupid fur helmet and never took it off. So I was wearing it the whole time Dion was having his dramatic and pressing conversation with me.

That’s just great. He must think I’m an idiot.

At any rate, it’s somewhat satisfying to have this game, this world, so completely desperate to provide me with adventure that it’s actually breaking into my room while I’m sleeping in a stupid furry hat to offer it to me. And yet, I resist, as I plan to spend today strolling around doing nothing.

Which turns out to be pretty easy, because after the Dion incident, Oblivion seems to have given up on me. Instead of adventure, it feeds me a steady diet of grape-related anecdotes. Everyone I stop and talk to just can’t shut their goddamn yaps about grapes.

Okay, there’s a little adventure in there, but it’s mostly grapes. The exceptions are Dion, who I run into again, and who tries to pressure me into suggesting that Glarthir be arrested, and Glarthir himself, who is angry with me for not meeting him behind the chapel.

While I’m finding these Skingradians alternately extremely dull or fairly annoying, I’m still interested in seeing what sort of house might be for sale in town. After all, I don’t want to live in inns forever. I want a place for myself, to display my treasures, such as… well, I’ve got that wolf-fork, anyway. It’s a conversation piece!

I pick up a tip that I should visit the castle and speak to an Orc named Shum gro-Yarug if I’m interested in a house. I track him down and engage in the usual mode of chit-chat, in which I watch his face carefully to determine if he prefers being threatened, joked with, admired, or bragged to, and then engage in some combination of the four. Which is odd. I mean, if I know the guy hates jokes, why would every fourth thing out of my mouth be a joke?

It takes a lot of talk, and one cash bribe, to even get him to trust me enough to even mention the house for sale.

Well, okay, fair enough. I can accept that, but I think I should get my 12 septim bribe back, at least. Plus, walking slowly everywhere really eats up time and the day is almost over.

I head up to the bridge to see if I can catch a glimpse of Imperial City’s famed tower, which is said to be visible from every city in Cyrodiil. Just as it did in Anvil, the weather conspires against me. Fogged in, I can’t see far at all, in any direction. Especially the wrong direction.

Suckage. Depressed, I go buy myself another outfit. For clubbing.

I head to the West Weald Inn to show off my new duds, which appear to be flats and a dress. There I meet a woman named Else God-Hater. As advertised, she hates the Gods.

So noted. I also overhear a conversation between Else and a heavily armored elf regarding the hottest topic in of all of Cyrodiil. It’s on YouTube here.

Fearing Dion may burst into my room at the Two Sisters Lodge again tonight, I shell out a bit extra for a room at the West Weald. It’s a small room but it’s on the corner, which would mean something if I could see out the windows.

The next morning I’m up and sporting my fancy blue duds. I grab some breakfast (an entire watermelon, just for a change) and I decide, what with all the chatter about grapes, I’d better check out the vineyards before someone kicks down my door and demands I visit them. The vineyards, as it turns out, are not only full of grapes, they’re full of people who want to talk about grapes. It’s a real grape town, this Skingrad.

I notice a bit of a traffic jam as well. Looks like a bunch of travelers from the Crowded Roads mod I installed have gotten stuck behind a fence. I also spot the dead naked pummeled wizard lying in the road — dead and pummeled courtesy of Toutious Sextus, naked thanks to yours truly.

I do a little ingredient gathering, though I don’t pick any grapes. I could, easily, as there are tons of them and it wouldn’t technically be stealing, but as an NPC I am bound by a different code. Anyway, I don’t want grapes. I’m tired of seeing them and tired of talking about them. I head back into the city, kind of grouchy.

Oh, for fuck’s sake. This doesn’t help my mood at all. This douche is not only wearing the same outfit as me, he’s wearing the same hair.

I stomp away, back up to the bridge, to take one more stab at seeing the distant spire of Imperial City. Despite the weather being fairly clear, I still can’t see if from the bridge. Night is approaching, so I start back, but decide to climb a nearby hilltop not far from the bridge.

And there, in the fading light, through a gap in the lush trees, I finally spot it.

The White Gold Tower. The center of Imperial City, the meeting place for the Council of Elders.

You know, I don’t think I want to live in Skingrad, or even stay here much longer. I want to be there. In Skingrad, I’m a big dork in a little city. I want to be a little dork in a big city.

At the same time, I’m not sure I’ve got what it takes to make it there. Not yet, anyway. One thing’s for sure, I’m a little bored with walking around hearing about grapes. And I got an idea this morning, while I was preparing to stuff an entire watermelon down my craw.

The woman I bought the watermelon from also sold boar meat, and for a pretty penny, too. While I haven’t seen any boar, and probably won’t until I’ve gained a few more levels, maybe I should try my hand at harvesting something other than weeds.

Yes. Tomorrow, a hunting I shall go. A hunter… I shall be.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day Nine: Man About Town

It’s a lovely yet somewhat hazy morning in a new town.

I stride purposefully through the streets of Skingrad, looking for a place to empty my bulging pockets. It’s been a long, troublesome trip, but it’s about to pay off.

I find Colovian Traders, a shop toward the north end of Skingrad. There I meet Gunder, a plump, leathery merchant, and through a careful combination of joking (“What’s the deal with all the wolves carrying forks, anyway?”) boasting (“Seriously, I’m the guy who found a fork inside a wolf”) threatening (“I will stab you with my wolf-fork!”) and admiring (“With hands like that, I bet you could put a lot of forks inside a lot of wolves”) I manage to make him like me more than he really should. Then, I sell him a bunch of crap.

I’ve got weapons and armor stripped from dead people, I’ve got tons of collected ingredients, a pearl I pried from an oyster, a silver pitcher, wolf pelts, imp-vomit… and he buys up every last bit of it. When we’re done, I’ve got a record 478 septims.

Almost 500 gold! Holy cow. Nondrick’s ship has come in. It hasn’t even been ten days since I stepped of the boat in Anvil with a dagger, a vest, and a couple of coins, and now I’m virtually rolling in dough.

Even better, I don’t have to immediately rush right back out into the wild, braving wolves and wizards, to collect new wages. I can take a few days off. Get to know the city. Make friends with the locals. See what it’s really like to be an NPC.

If I’m going to play the part, though, I think I’d better look the part. I’m a merchant now, a businessman, not some armored brute who makes his living with a blood-stained sword. Luckily, Gunder has a few outfits for the well-to-do merchant out for a casual stroll.

I buy this elegant blue number.

Hmmm… maybe a little too fancy? I don’t want to come off like a snob. So, I purchase this red outfit as well. Damn, I cut a dashing figure!

How Do I Look? Of course, I will have to venture outside the walls again someday, so I also buy an iron bow and arrows, which I’ve wanted since day one, and a fur helmet to match the rest of my stinky fur armor. It’s also pretty damn stylish on its own.

Hello, ladies!

With my purchases, I’ve still got 325 gold, enough for Nondrick to not have to sweat the small stuff for a long, long time. So, let’s strut his stuff on the streets of Skingrad for a bit.

The streets are pretty much empty with the exception of a beggar, so I decide to be proactive and simply start walking into people’s houses. The first home I find with an unlocked door belongs to a fellow named Lazare Milvan, who seems less than thrilled to find a velvet-clad ugly dude in his foyer.

He doesn’t actually throw down, but I decide to leave anyway. In the street I run into a city guardsman. Glarthir, the oddball elf who stopped me in the street last night, comes up as a topic of conversation, as the guard feels that he’s acting a bit strange.

That anachronism aside, I’m a little torn by this whole thing. The Glarthir issue, as you may already know or by now have guessed, is a bit of an… adventure. It’s part of an elaborate “quest” called Paranoia, which can have a number of different outcomes depending on how you handle it. When I played through it with my other character, I seem to recall it ending with, shall we say, the streets running red with the blood of a number of innocent townspeople.

While my other character reveled in the bloodshed (he was not a nice fellow at all), this is something I’m pretty sure Nondrick would like to avoid. Still, I’m trying to be an NPC here, and one things NPCs do a lot of is gossip. About news, about mudcrabs, and especially about other NPCs. It doesn’t really seem like I’m breaking my own rules by engaging in conversation with another NPC about Glarthir. Does it?

I decide to proceed cautiously. If he comes up in conversation, I may talk about him, I may not. But I won’t take any chances. I won’t get involved in anything exciting. This is my promise to you.

I stroll into Hammer and Tongs, have my shortsword and armor repaired for four bucks (a bargain!), and talk to the proprietor, Agnate the Pickled. As she is a drunk woman, I figure I’ll chat her up a bit, which pushes my speechcraft skill up a notch and thus, amazingly, prepares little old Nondrick P. Cairk’tir to gain a level. Level 2! Now I’m wealthy and experienced. Things are definitely going my way today.

I’m so happy I give a coin to the regrettably named Foul Fagus, a beggar, just before meeting a regrettably orange guardsman named Dion.

Uh-huh. Sure. Start out by suggesting I check out the wine and cheese, and then try to slip in some intrigue as to why the Count won’t be seen. Nice try, Dion, but you’ll have to do better than that to get me wrapped up in some adventure.

Then I run into the man who saved me last night, Toutious Sextus.

Well, I dunno. We could probably chat about that wizard you pimp-slapped to death last night in the course of saving my life? Guess not.

At any rate, since I’ve already met the guardsman and the beggar, I take the rest of his advice and visit the cathedral, to see if the priest will be my friend. The priest doesn’t seem to like me much either, and passes me off to a healer named Marie Palielle, who I find asleep in her bedchamber on the lower level.

This isn’t creepy or anything, is it? After staring at her for a while, I wake her up so we can have a chat.

She’s very pleasant to talk to and not as unattractive as most people in the game. She kindly suggests some activities I might partake in that don’t involve me standing over her leering at her while she’s sleeping.

But she’s nice about it, and I think she’s perhaps the friendliest person I’ve met so far in Skingrad. Things do get a little ugly when I end the conversation, wherein she threatens to call the guards if I don’t get out of her room, but as an ugly guy who barges into people’s homes, I’ve got to expect that kind of reaction from time to time.

I continue my wandering, chatting with a few more NPCs I run into, then head back to the Two Sisters Lodge for the evening. It’s a little lonesome for a bit.

Things pick up, though, and how could they not, with a handsome devil like me around? I simply sit motionless in bar for five hours and then the chicks come flocking in. Agnate, the drunk from the weapons store, and a woman from the Colovian Traders, Enja. Plus, the lady orc behind the bar. I’m swimming in girlies.

Drinks are imbibed, conversations are repeated, dispositions are boosted, and midnight finally rolls around, so I retire for the evening. First, though, it’s time to ascend to the second level. This is how it shakes out:

With my face, I’m gonna need as much personality as I can get, and with my fighting skills, I’m gonna need speed. To run away with. I’m not sure why my intelligence is given a boost, but it could be because of all the eating I do. Testing (eating) alchemy ingredients can help you become a better alchemist, and though I’ve only mixed a few potions, I am eating a few times a day, so that may be why it has such a high modifier. I am now more skilled at eating. I am a level two eater! Watch out, cheese!

And with that, I set my internal alarm clock for 8am and drift into satisfied slumber. It was a good day. I made money, I made friends, I gained a level, and I did it all without any excitement or adventure.

Or did I? Because I am awakened much earlier than 8am. In fact, it’s just past four in the morning when my eyes snap open unexpectedly.

There is someone in my room.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day Eight, Concluded: Off to Beat the Wizard

[I apologize, in advance, for the lack of and quality of the images in this entry. This all took place in the dead of night where I could barely see my health meter in front of my own face. In order to see anything in the screenshots, I have to really tweak the levels up which leaves them looking real poopy. Plus, some things happened so fast I didn’t even have time to snap a shot.]

Here I am, a stone’s throw from Skingrad, and once again I’m being hunted by a female bandit. This time, I’m not going toe-to-toe if I can help it. I’m determined to reach the city without shedding any blood or risking my life.

Dropping into a crouch, I hope she’ll just give up on me, but this time, bending over, even in near-total darkness, doesn’t hide me from her keen bandit senses. She knows I’m there and calls for me to come out. I don’t, instead slinking into the bushes to the south of the road, hoping to slowly circle around her. It works — she loses me in the night and I spot her moving further down the road, away from the city. I take off my fur boots, hoping it will make me move even more quietly. I climb a small rise and peer down at her camp.

That’s when I hear another voice calling for me to show myself. A male voice. Dammit, there are two of them now.

He knows I’m there, but he isn’t climbing the rise to get me, possibly because it’s much steeper on the other side. Still, he’s not going to just let me go. I’m not sure where the woman went, but I don’t hear her anymore. This could be good or bad. Fighting multiple enemies in Oblivion is never really a picnic, no matter what level you are, especially in the dark, and especially if most of your skills can only be applied to picking onions. It’s time for plan B.

Ruuuunnnnnnnnnn! I tear through the camp and back out onto the road. The male bandit gives chase, but there’s still no sign of the female. I can see Skingrad ahead of me in the gloom. I’m very close but he’s not letting me go. I know if I can just reach the city gates, he won’t follow me inside. Plus, there’s a chance an armed guard might help me.

Behind me, I hear some yelling, and the sound of a spell being cast and the sound of blows landing. I turn around in time to see two figures engaged in combat. One is the bandit, the other is someone I’ve never seen before. He appears to be unarmed, and he strikes the bandit with, I think, only his fists. The bandit, amazingly, falls faster than a fleeing NPC can take a screenshot.

My savior this time is a fellow named Toutius Maximus. I’m a bit stunned. I have no idea where he came from or how he took out a bandit, who, on closer examination, was a Bandit Hedge Wizard. Being a wizard who hides in the bushes and robs people, I guess. That’s how Dumbledore got his start.

Toutius seems pretty nonplussed about killing a man with his bare hands. I ask him for some rumors, as one naturally does after witnessing someone pummel someone else to death, and he encourages me to join the local Fighter’s Guild. That’s not a bad ad campaign, really — punching a wizard to death is a pretty convincing demonstration of the benefits of signing up with the Fighter’s Guild. Do you want to brutally club a wizard to death with your fists? Sure, we all do!

Well, once again I’ve been saved by an extremely violent stranger. I thank him by stripping the dead wizard of all his stuff, which includes a Poison of Frailty. I’m plenty frail already, thanks.

I made it, though. Skingrad! I even get an escort to the gate. By a bunch of sheep. I quickly find my way to the Two Sisters Lodge, but before I can enter some whackjob Bosmer named Glarthir stops me in the street with some odd babbling:

Um, yeah, how about not? How about you go behind the chapel, wait until midnight, and then pound some Imp Gall up your ass?

Inside, I talk to one of the two sisters who run the lodge. She’s an orc (presumably, the other is as well). She’s got a room and it’ll only set me back 10 gold. Honestly, right now, I’d have paid a hundred. It’s been a long day.

The room is very sparse and there’s no food or towels to help myself to, but I don’t care. It’s almost two in the morning after a long trip that’s introduced me to imps, bandits, goblins, wolves, and wizards… it’s been a real adventure, and that’s precisely the sort of thing I’d like to avoid.

As I prepare to stand next to my bed all night and get some rest, I find myself hoping that Skingrad will be more accommodating than Anvil was.  Traveling is too damn dangerous for a level one NPC, and I don’t plan to do it again anytime soon.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day Eight, Cont'd: Hard Out There For An Imp

An imp! Interrupting my relaxing swim! He’s got some gall. Ha ha. That will be funny in a minute.

There’s nothing worse than being confronted by a winged hellspawn while wearing sopping wet underpants. Luckily, when I stripped down I neglected to remove my short sword (somehow it’s clipped to my enormous manties). There’s no time to get my armor back on (okay, actually, there’s all the time in the world, since bringing up the inventory screen pauses the game, but I’m roleplaying here, dammit), so there’s nothing to do but draw my weapon and fight for my life.

It flaps over and swipes at me with its talons, drawing blood on the back of my leg, uh, somehow. I swing at it spastically, like a child too uncoordinated to even get a hit in tee-ball. I finally manage to connect a few times, and despite having no shield, I keep most of my health and soon the disgusting creature flops into the pond.

I gotta say, the little guy is positively ripped. Look at those abs! He must do a lot of crunches. It doesn’t make me gay to admire his dead cut little body, right?

I search him for loot and find that he’s loaded with Imp Gall, which is like bile or barf or something gross like that. Imp gall can be used in alchemy — plus it’s worth about 15 gp on its own. I also spot an oyster in the water under the corpse, and open it to find a pearl worth 2 gp. Finally, I found an oyster! Screw you, Anvil.

I quickly get my armor back on, and just in time, because another imp comes flapping over looking to start some static. He’s dealt with, and his body plops into the pond like the first.

Well, gross. Now there’s a bunch of bile-coated strangely muscular dead gross imps floating around in my lovely little swimming hole. Kinda spoils the enjoyment. Ah well, I don’t have a pool skimmer, so I’d best be moving on.

Rather than heading back to the road, I cut straight east toward Skingrad through the wilderness, quickly stumbling across some extensive Ayleid ruins called Miscarcand. With all this imp-slaying and ruins-finding, it’s hard not to feel a bit like an adventurer. Just look how brave and badass I’m looking in this shot. Except for, you know, the horrible face and all.

I poke around a bit, finding some ingredients (including a sack with some fish scales in it), and fling a fireball at another far-off deer. I springs away unharmed. Something tells me I shouldn’t tarry here too long, however, though I can’t put my finger on what it is.

I sure don’t want to see my huge misshapen skull on a pole. Besides, I’ve spotted something by the far end of the ruins:

I’m pretty sure it’s a goblin. Imps are one thing, but goblins have berserker rage, armor, weaponry… and a lot of friends. I’m out of here.

The problem, of course, with wandering through the wilderness is all the wild things, and it’s not long before I’m attacked by yet another wolf. This one goes down easily enough, bad sadly isn’t carrying any gold or kitchen utensils.

It’s getting dark. I finally reconnect with the road around 8:30, and while I’ve still got a bit of ways to go, I’m getting close to Skingrad at last.

As I plod down the road, I hear a voice call out ahead. “Who’s there?”

I drop into a crouch. Through the fading light I spot a woman with a shield, her weapon drawn. I can barely make her out, but Ye Olde Photoshop’s image adjustment sheds a little light.

Another bandit. It looks like I’m not out of the woods yet.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day Eight: Treading Water

Dawn arrives at Mortal Camp, finding a very sluggish and sleepy Nondrick P. Cairk’tir. Still, there’s a long way to walk today, and those flowers aren’t going to pick themselves.

I should be able to reach Skingrad today, provided I don’t have to wander too far from the road or have to set any women on fire. Time to get moving!

Not far up the road, I spot a wolf sniffing around. Eager to avoid a confrontation, I hunch myself over, thus becoming harder to see or at least convincing anyone watching that I have painful bowel cramps. The wolf wanders about but never leaves the road, so I decide to engage it at range with a fireball. I miss, but hit it a couple times as it races over. Weakened, it’s not difficult to finish off with my sword.

Along with the usual 10 gp pelt, this wolf was also carrying a fork. It’s not worth anything in gold, though it does provide a nice mental puzzle, namely, why the heck is a wolf carrying a fork around?

My plan to stay on the road derails shortly thereafter, but with damn good reason. INGREDIENTS.

Holy handpicked hordes of herbs! Lookit all this primo shit! The woods positively come alive with things I can gather and sell! Flax seeds, Columbine Root Pulp, Lady’s Smock leaves, Motherwort Sprig, Elf Cup Cap, Nightshade… the list goes on and on! It seems like every few feet there’s a new cluster of flowers. It’s like wandering into a field of cold hard cash. I wasted my time paddling around Anvil harbor and wandering in the dead grasslands to the north — this is the place to be.

Forgetting about my schedule, I wander off the road, first to the south, then to the north, grabbing double-handfuls of everything within reach. Eventually, I stumble upon a small dwelling named Shetcombe Farm. Well, I could stand a break for lunch, or maybe some company, so I head inside the farmhouse. I walk in and a sudden thought pops into my mind.

Hm. Yeah, I guess I could— Oh, no no no no no. No, no. Nice try, game brimming with adventure, but you’re not roping me in that easily. I’m not searching around for nobody. I’m not doing nothing. I’m leaving.

I exit the farmhouse, annoyed. Active quest? Clue to whereabouts? That’s not my idea of excitement.

In fact, I stumble upon my idea of excitement a few moments later, in the form of a small swimmin’ hole near the farmhouse. You know, it’s a beautiful day, I’ve gathered a ton of valuable ingredients, and I haven’t had to murder any attractive women… maybe I’ll have a little dip in the pond!

I strip down to my skivvies and slip into the water. Yes, that’s right, I removed my armor and clothing before entering the water, just like one would do in real life. Lookit me, maw, I’m roleplaying! Man. You’re not gonna find shit like this on other blogs.

I paddle around a bit, enjoying the warm sunlight, the cool water, and the gentle wind blowing through the trees that brings to mind the sound of ungodly leathery wings flapping.

Wait a second… ungodly leathery wings?

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day Seven: Girl Trouble

Off to Skingrad! A large town in the West Weald, divided in two by a rolling valley, Skingrad is home to the finest vineyards in all of Cyrodiil. It’s also really, really far away for an NPC who doesn’t fast-travel or own a horse.

Still, I’m determined to reach it. It’s definitely more than a single day’s walk, possibly as many as two or three, especially if I’m stopping to pick flowers, which I probably will. I won’t have time to fully explore the area around the road, but Cyrodiil tends to pull you off your intended path pretty regularly. I’m guessing there will be some inns or camps along the way so I’ve got somewhere to sleep when night falls.

[Why not stop at Kvatch, which is a fine midpoint between the Brina Cross Inn (on the far left) and Skingrad? Well, I’m running the Main Quest Delayer plugin of the Oblivion Modular Enhanced mod, which means Kvatch has not been sacked yet, as it is in the un-modded Oblivion. However, you still can’t visit Kvatch because, well, it only exists in-game as the sacked version. Look, let’s just pretend there’s no such place and it’ll be easier for everyone.]

I sell everything non-essential to Christophe before leaving the Brina Cross Inn. Ingredients I was saving for potions, spare clothing, and food I don’t plan to eat. With all my assets turned to cash, I’m starting the journey with 127 gp. I wolf down some bread and cheese, and step out onto the long winding road east. I’m more than a little sad to leave the lovely Arielle Jurard behind, but frankly, we’ve run out of things to talk about. Besides, Nondrick isn’t a one woman guy, especially when that one woman seems more interested in discussing mudcrabs with the locals than getting busy with his fine self.

I have the good fortune to run into a traveler headed in the same direction [thanks to the “Crowded Roads” mod I installed, which gives the world a little more foot traffic].

Okay, she’s not as armor-plated as I’d like, but just having someone else out on the road with me makes me feel a little safer. If I trail her by a few dozen years, any wolves or bandits are sure to go after her before they go after me.

And so, bravely using an unarmed woman as wolf-bait, I set off into the cool dawn. Shortly after departing, we run into an Imperial Legion Soldier, those iron-clad swordsmen on horseback who make ideal bodyguards, but he’s heading in the other direction. I think it might even be the same one who saved me from the Khajiit bandit, but he doesn’t mention it if he is. He’s so modest.

Other than flinging a fireball at a far-off deer and missing (I’m determined to bag me a deer one of these days), it’s an uneventful morning. I discover I was right about finding places to stay along the road to Skingrad, as I come upon Gottshaw Inn, a homey little cottage just north of the road. Good news: rooms are only 10 gold a night. The bad news: well, it’s not night. It’s not even noon yet. I’m not really ready to stop. I’m maybe halfway to the road that leads up to where Kvatch would be if Kvatch were there.

I’ve barely made any progress, so the Gottshaw, as charming as it looks, is more or less useless to me. I decide to press on.

By now I’ve lost the other traveler, so I’m alone. Not for long, though, as I come across a quiet young man. He’s dead, which explains the lack of conversation. Face-down in the road, his mace and shield lying nearby, I can’t even tell what killed him, or why, or even who he is. A random traveler? A bandit who robbed the wrong person?

All I know is, he deserves a decent burial, which is a bit of a shame because all I’m gonna do is take his stuff and leave him naked in the road.

For the next few hours I walk alone. I wander off the road now and then to pick some ingredients. I reach the road that leads toward Kvatch, accidentally wander up it a while, get a little lost, then find the main road again. It’s getting late, and I haven’t found anything like an Inn. It doesn’t seem at all worth it to backtrack to the Gottshaw, so I keep heading east. I suppose I can walk through the night if I really have to.

I seem to be missing all the action today. I come across another corpse, this time a wolf. I skin it, as is my way. It’s now nighttime, and the moon (or whatever planet that is) has come up.

I’m a little nervous. Nighttime is no time to be out wandering alone. The roads are dangerous, and you never know who might leap out of the bushes and attack you. Adding to my anxiety is that I still don’t know where I’m going to sleep, plus, someone I don’t know leaps out of the bushes and attacks me.

A bandit! I swear, Cyrodiil has a bandit-to-citizen ratio of about three-to-one. This bandit also happens to be quite an attractive young woman. Hello, sweetie!

Oh, right, you’re trying to kill me. Fine. Have at thee, sweetie!

She slams her axe into me a couple times as I backpedal. I don’t know if she’s got a magic axe or if she’s coated the blade with poison, but my endurance starts to drain. Bandit’s sappin’ mah endurance! I take a few swings with my sword, hurting her but not badly. With my health down three quarters and my endurance draining, I’m going to have to fall back on my spellcasting if I’m going to survive this.

Blammo! A point-blank fireball lights her up like a Christmas tree that’s on fire. I fire a few more into her, keeping my distance at the same time. Finally, she goes down with a cry, and the battle is over.

Man. My health almost dropped to half, making this my most dangerous encounter to date. Normally, a bandit fight isn’t going to be much of a big deal, but with Nondrick, I’m playing with no reloads. If he dies, that’s it. Game over. It adds a bit more excitement to these little skirmishes, I gotta say.

Well, I don’t know what drove this pleasant looking young woman to a life of crime — frankly, I blame mudcrabs — but she messed with the wrong mushroom-picker. Again, as my religion dictates, the dead are to be honored by yanking off their clothing and leaving them nude in the road. So I do.

Nearby I find Mortal Camp, the bandit’s base of operations. Being the scavenger I am, I go through the sacks and crates, finding a silver pitcher worth 4 gold, some food, a few bottles of beer, and some other odds and ends. Plus, it’s a camp, which means I finally found a place to sleep. And for free!

Or, is it? Is it free? Was not a price paid, a dear price, that of a mortal life? Nondrick has killed crabs and wolves, but this was a person, and frankly, he’s contemplative about the whole thing. See, look at him being all contemplative. Or maybe he’s just staring into space with his stupid fish face. Whatever.

It’s just after midnight, and there’s still a long way to go tomorrow. Bedding down, I set my internal alarm clock for five hours, crawl into a dead woman’s sleeping bag, and get some shut-eye.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day Six: Hungry Like the Wolf

A new day! To the south, adventure beckons! So, Nondrick heads north. You know how he is about adventure.

A quick stop at the Wayshrine of Arkay buffs my health, and, tiring of the usual breakfast of beef and berries, I attempt to take down a deer, at range, with a fireball. I score a hit but it flees into the woods before I can do any more damage.

Ah, well! I’m optimistic that the day will yield an impressive crop of ingredients to sell. Just look at this fertile land!

Unfortunately, dead grass doesn’t fetch a high price on the market.

A long stroll more or less directly north leads me to a small farm on a large estate, and the eerily accurate voice in my head tells me it’s Lord Drad’s Estate, near the enticingly named Bleak Mine. I don’t see anyone around, not even in the worker’s quarters, and it’s tempting to start plucking vegetables out of the ground all willy-nilly since I haven’t found much of anything to sell yet today.

But I’m not playing Grand Theft Onion. Nay, this is Oblivion, and I want to make my way by harvesting the unclaimed wilderness and occasionally stealing the clothing off fresh corpses. It’s an honest, simple living, and I’m an honest, simple NPC. No stealing!

From Drad’s pad, I head east for a bit, still finding little to sell. It’s already past noon, and my stomach is growling. Or maybe the growling is coming from the wolf that charges out of the dead grass directly ahead of me.

This time, it looks like no one is going to leap to my rescue. Luckily, I’ve got a shield and sword for just such an eventuality! I block as the wolf lunges a few times, then swing at it wildly when it leans back on its haunches. My blows don’t do a whole lot of damage, and it manages to take a couples bites out of me, but the outcome is never in doubt. Triumphant, I skin the beast of it’s valuable pelt. Finally, something I can bank on.

Another long stroll leads me to Brittlerock Cave, and, thinking I might find some ‘shrooms within, I hesitantly step into the darkness.

Inside the door I find a small stool and a sack, which contains some clothing and a torch. I light the torch and move slowly down into the cave.

Further down, I find a chest. Inside: twenty gold pieces. And there’s still no one around. Twenty gold, to me, is a small fortune, especially with the day I’m having. It’s two nights of lodging at the Brina Cross Inn. It’s a new cuirass or an iron bow. It’s an obscene amount of ham.

No! I will resist. Damn this world, always throwing opportunities for thievery at me.

I creep a bit deeper into the cave, finally spotting one of its occupants skulking around in the gloom. A small, bent figure paces about just beyond the light of my torch. A daedra.

Okay, the picture sucks, but I’m not getting any closer just to get a clear shot. Trust me, it’s a scary oogy monster that I don’t want to mess with.

As I head back out the way I came, I stop again near the chest. Stealing is wrong, but what about… stealing from evil enchanted monsters? What the hell is a Scamp gonna do with twenty bucks, anyway? Stroll into First Edition and buy a copy of The Lusty Argonian Maid?

What the hell. I pocket the loot, ensuring the day hasn’t been an entire waste while simultaneously striking a blow against the evils of the realm by seizing their ill-gotten assets. Who says one NPC can’t make a difference?

I also try on the clothing I found in the sack. It’s a shirt with suspenders.

Mm, yeah. I don’t think the exposed midriff is Nondrick’s look.

I’ve wandered pretty far north and east today, and it’s nearly nighttime, so I make my way back to the Inn. Another wolf leaps out of the bushes and I manage to kill it without much difficulty. This one, in addition to its pelt, is carrying two gold pieces. Crabs with lockpicks and now wolves with pocket change. The mysteries of nature.
Most of my spoils for the day are wolf pelts and stolen coins, though I mix up some ingredients, including some mushrooms I picked in the cave, and manage to sell the resulting restorative potions to Christophe for a profit of 10 gold. All together, I’ve got 72 gold at the end of the day.

That’s not bad, it really isn’t, but I’m troubled. So little of my earnings today came from gathering ingredients and selling potions. I can’t count on robbing evil imps and slaying weathy wolves every day. My luck just won’t hold out very long if I have to explore caves and get into brawls.

As much as I like the Brina Cross, my career is going nowhere here. I’m gonna have to move on.

I decide. Come morning, I’m leaving. I’m going to Skingrad.