Nondrick's Non-adventure

A Bitter Brew

I reach Leyawiin at nightfall, meaning the shops have closed and I’m forced to peddle my mushrooms and mushroom-related potions at the DragonClaw Inn. This isn’t a huge problem, except that innkeepers generally have a 50 dollar per transaction limit, so selling my 52 Restore Fatigue potions for 13 bucks each is going to take a lot of clicking.

Still, when I’m done buying, mixing, and selling, I’m sitting on over 2,600 septims. Noice! I’ll have to see what a house goes for in this town. For now, it’s off to bed in the Dragon Claw Inn.

In the morning, I hit The Dividing Line, a weapons and armor shop, get everything repaired, and sell off my extras. I’m ditching all my heavy armor — it’s just too slow and clunky when worn by an alchemist who is already far too slow and clunky. Leather armor it is, until I can find something light to upgrade to.

Next, I visit the Great Chapel of Zenithar. Forget what the tour books say: its not that great. It looks exactly like every other chapel Ive been in. On the other hand, I finally find a priest selling a spell that will allow me to heal my horse, Beaker. Its called Convalescence, and it costs me about 230 gold. Worth it, though, as now Ill be able to take care of my beloved horsie.

I visit a few other shops, plus the Mages Guild, looking for ingredients to cure my wolf-borne diseases. Im also looking for some shoes, since I dont seem to have any for some reason, and a leather helmet to replace my iron one. No luck on either front. Im also starting to get a bit frustrated about my disease situation. I just need one stinking ingredient with the Cure Disease property, but I cant find one, or buy one, anywhere. With all these canine diseases in my system, I’m more dog now, than man.

Meanwhile, the hot topic in this exciting new town is focused on one thing: a woman named Rosentia Gallenus and how her house smells.

Well, this is a bit sad. The game has definitely gotten the impression that I’m not looking for adventure — in fact, I’m actively avoiding it — and it’s stooping so low as to repeatedly invite me to check out a stinky house.

Two things about this. First off, even as a non-adventurer, it’s just not appealing. Okay, it doesn’t sound dangerous and thrilling, which is a plus in Nondrick’s book, but it doesn’t sound pleasant, either. Why not have her house smell like fresh herbs? Then I might take a peek.

Secondly, if I were an adventurer, running about trying to close Oblivion gates and stave off demon hordes, why the hell would I want to check out a smelly house, either? Sure, it sounds like there’s definitely a problem in there, but I’m busy trying to save the frigging world. This seems like a quest fit for absolutely no one.

Okay, that’s a little better. An adventurer might pop his head in now and see what’s going on. Still, I ain’t interested.

At the castle, I discover that the house for sale in Leyawiin can be had for only $7,000 bucks. Thats not bad at all. I check out some nearby houses to see what mine might look like, and its practically a mansion for your humble alchemist. Beats my one room hovel in Imperial City, though Im not crazy about the location. Leyawiin is in the very deep south, at the very bottom of the game’s map, and as a gatherer, I need fertile land in all directions to make a living. Id better check out the surrounding countryside to peep what groweth there.

I strike out to the west and north the next morning. Theres not much to find in the marshy landscape except more mushrooms. A Khajiit bandit (female, of course) attacks me after I poke my unprotected noggin into Undertow Cavern. She falls with just a two swings of my longsword. Should’ve spent more time practicing and less time on the complicated hairdo. Women!

Upon finding Telepe, some Ayleid ruins, I hear a voice yell Showing your face around here is the last mistake youll ever make! Im a little confused, since the speaker sounded like he was about a mile away and hollering into a bucket. No one appears and attacks me as I wander carefully around. Eventually, Im struck by a number of arrows, but I still have no idea where from.

I stroll away, arrows protruding, confused. I’ve learned my lesson, though, and I won’t show my face in that general area again.

In a small settlement called Waters Edge, I let myself into the home of Jolie and Eduard Retiene, a pleasant couple who have chosen to spend their day standing and silently contemplating one of the walls in their home. Guess theyre waiting for TV to be invented.

Im so desperate for finding a curative ingredient that I break one of my rules and raid their garden, picking all the vegetables and examining their properties. No dice. Feeling guilty for stealing from these humble, gently retarded farmers, I drop a silver cup and a couple repair hammers in the garden I just molested, as a form of payment. Its sort of like in a movie, when a mobster smashes a reporters camera and then chucks some bills from a roll of hundreds on the ground, only not even remotely as cool.

A little further up the road, I find the settlement known as Border Watch. Its sizable, with several homes and a cluster of citizens all standing around talking to each other about horribly boring things. I stop at the Border Watch Inn, where the owner has get this — a cheese collection.

How awesome is that? Thats way better than my collection of silverware Ive pulled out of wolf rectums. Way better. Im insanely jealous.

I step back outside, and chat up the locals. One of them has a cool black cloak and hood. Again, Im jealous. Nondrick would look great in a hood like that. At least from the back. Im starting to hate Border Watch its making me feel inadequate. These NPCs are much cooler than I am.

I approach a house and, since its unlocked, let myself inside. Its totally trashed. Weird. In a busted crate, a potion of Cure Disease mocks me. The game itself is mocking me, I decide. As I chose to snub the overflowing adventure it constantly attempts to drown me in, it has chosen to make my own personal quest, to cure my own diseases with my alchemical skills, impossible. Ill never cure my diseases. Not without having to resort to theft. Not without breaking my rules.

Im beginning to feel like a failure of an NPC. I dont have a kickass cheese collection and for all my time spent picking ingredients and mixing potions, Im still crawling with canine parasites. And I dont even have a pair of shoes or a nice hood. No wonder I never score with the honeys.

I wander around the town for a bit. There are several sheep walking about. Maybe its the wolf parasites infesting my system, but I consider killing one of the sheep. Mutton might have some curative properties, after all. No one is around. Im desperate. I hack at a sheep, which takes considerably longer to fall than the female bandit from earlier.

I kill it, and open it up to see what’s inside.

This sheep, somehow, is completely empty. Mutton-free. I guess it was full of air. Goddamn discount sheep.

Despondent, I let myself into another house, which is also weirdly trashed. I spot some shoes on a table and consider taking them. Why not? Ive raided a garden. Ive murdered livestock. The game is clearly denying my the few things I want and need, and it’s turning me into a crazed, thieving, half-wolf NPC.

I also spot a Shepherds Pie on the table. I pick it up to examine its properties.

Bingo. Its the ingredient I need to cure myself. And all it will take is an act of theft.

Is it really theft if I leave something as payment, like I did in the garden? Am I being un-NPC-like? Am I failing in my goal in playing as a benign alchemist? Am I betraying my inner-Nondrick by killing air-filled livestock and swapping near-worthless items with unknowing NPCs?

Screw it. I mix up my Cure Disease potion. One part purchased Elf Cup Cap, one part stolen Shepherds Pie. The deed is done. I drop a couple repair hammers as payment and walk outside.

I can cure myself right now. Right now! But should I? My one self-driven quest is at an end, but it meant buying one ingredient and stealing another, and then smooshing them together in a cup. One sip, and I’m cured.

But can I do it? Should I do it? Should I belt back this bitter beverage of betrayal? Should I deviously down this dirty drink of disappointment? Should I peevishly partake of this perverse potion of something starting with p?