Living in Oblivion

Walk For the Cure

The crap weather continues as I slowly clank my way south to begin my new quest: to rid myself of wolf parasites that have infested my joints. Man. Picking flowers to cure wolf cooties. Did Aragorn have to deal with this kinda shit?

Right away, I can tell this isn’t going to go very well. The landscape is green and grassy, but there aren’t a whole heck of a lot of ingredients around. I gather what few I find, but nothing that bears the disease-curing properties I so desperately need for my knees and elbows.

I pass through Harlun’s Watch, a small, seemingly pointless village with no shops or inns, head down to the Reed River, where I hope to find more plants around the water’s edge. Nothing doing. I discover a cavern called Vahtacen, and poke around inside, hoping to find mushrooms. Instead, I find torchlit passages and a number of Welkynd Stones, which are semi-valuable and good for recharging your Magicka. Hmm.

I’d kind of like to swipe these, but I’m not much of a dungeon-scouring thief. I decide to poke around further to see who these stones belong to. If it’s some sort of leathery bat monster, I won’t feel so bad. I spot an Argonian woman walking around in a chamber deeper into the caves. She doesn’t look like a bandit, more like a mage — robes and no armor. Still, I don’t want to chance talking to her, and decide not to swipe all her stones.

Sometimes it really sucks not being adventurous.

Back outside, I spot some deer. Maybe venison cures disease? Can’t remember. Can’t hurt to check. Can’t hurt me, anyway. I manage to take down a deer with a single critical bowshot, which is pretty cool except that it wasn’t actually the deer I was aiming for. I was aiming for a running deer, and he just happened to run right by a stationary deer as I loosed my misguided arrow. Well, if anyone was watching, they wouldn’t be able to tell. Venison, unfortunately, doesn’t cure my ills, but it makes a nice snack.

The weather gets worse as I make the long, slow, wet slog back up to the city, having found nothing of real use. The next morning, after selling my take, I head north, aiming for Lake Arrius. The weather is better, but again, even though the vegetation is lush and green, there ain’t much to pick. I discover Wind Range Camp, which appears to be abandoned. Excellent. If I can bed here tonight I won’t have to walk all the way back to the city, and can spend some more time exploring.

A few moments later, however, a bandit shows up. He somehow spots the ugly dork in highly reflective steel armor crouching nearby, and we clash. I’d cleverly poisoned my blade while I was waiting, and I stick him once. He turns green as the poison eats away at him, and soon he’s weak enough for a single slash of my blade to take him down. I loot his body, finding a few gold coins and a copper ring. Also, while fending off his blows, my block skill increased, meaning the next time I sleep I’ll gain a level. At least the day isn’t a total waste.

There’s not much going on around the lake but a waterfall and a wolf. After killing the latter and collecting the pelt (and a gold coin the wolf was somehow carrying), I head back. Another fairly fruitless expedition. Very few ingredients to pick, and none have the properties I need. I’m getting a little frustrated. The east coast of Cyrodiil is a huge letdown for the traveling alchemist.

I’m nearly back to the city when suddenly I burst into flames. Eep. Imp. After cutting him out of the air, I arrive back in the city, a little banged up. I think I need to upgrade my self-preservation skills. I sell some potions, decide to spend a couple hundred on a Cure Major Wound spells from the Mage’s Guild, and head to bed, where I attain my fifth level.

I briefly consider going with Luck, because frankly, I could use some, but in the end I choose to raise my Intelligence, Personality, and Endurance. It’s been about thirty days since I landed in Anvil, and I’ve finally reached level five.

I decide to bum around town the next day, since I haven’t been to the castle yet and I’d like to see if they have a house for sale. I could use a day without bloodshed or drama, as well. It’s at this point that I notice I’ve not only failed to cure my current disease, but I’ve also somehow acquired a new one.

Witbane is a disease that drains your intelligence, and (according to the Oblivion Wiki) it can be contracted from dogs and zombies, neither of which I’ve been in contact with. Puzzling. Wolves, I’ve seen plenty, but no dogs. Unless I picked it up a few days ago from that dog-trainer lady, I have no idea when I might have contracted it. There aren’t even any toilet seats in Cyrodiil. So, now I’ve got two types of canine-related diseases, and no cure for either of them. Spiffy. Won’t be long before I’m chasing cats and eating my own poop.

I head to the Mage’s Guild again, and find one ingredient with disease-curing properties: a mushroom called Elf Cup Cap. Well, I’m halfway there, at least. Now, I just need another ingredient to mix with it. Or, I could just ditch this alchemy nonsense and take up religion, which is sounding more appealing every day.

I make my way to the castle, where I notice a bunch of indoor planters. I spot some mushrooms growing among the plants, and, as is my habit, I start stuffing them into my pockets. They won’t cure my diseases, but that’s no reason not to pick ‘em.

I do this for a bit before I notice that the little “hand” icon is red when I hover it over the mushrooms, which indicates items that, when taken, are considered stolen. I’m not just gathering mushrooms, apparently, I’m pinching them.

Yoikes! I’m no thief! On the other hand, the guards are standing right there and haven’t arrested me. Just a glitch, perhaps? Either way, I continue harvesting the mushrooms. If they’re a little lax on crime in Cheydinhal Castle, it works for out me.

I continue crawling around the bushes inside the castle, taking all the mushrooms I find. Eventually, I pop out near the throne.

The count is sitting on one throne, while on the other sits a little bundle of flowers. Hell, this castle is crawling with ingredients! Why did I bother with walking around the woods, putting myself at risk, when I could stock up right here? Without thinking twice about the red “hand” icon I’ve been seeing for the past few minutes, I snatch the flowers, just as I realize they are tagged as “bouquet of flowers”. Meaning they’re not an ingredient, but instead an object. Meaning I haven’t harvested the flowers. I’ve stolen them. From the castle throne room. Off the throne. Right in front of the Count. And his guards.

Um. Whoops.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Dog Day Afternoon

In the interest of keeping this blog a bit more lively, I’m going to try something several people suggested: post more often but with shorter posts. That way, I don’t feel like I have to write a book every time I sit down to play and blog, which hopefully means I will play, and blog, more often.

Anyway. Cheydinhal. I made it in early this morning, and as a result, Nondrick doesn’t manage to crawl out of bed until afternoon. Not much on the roster today except to sell the loot I accumulated during the trip — the many bits of weapons and armor I took off the people who forced me to kill them. Also, if you remember, Nondrick contracted Helljoint, a disease carried by wolves. Gonna have to do something about that, too. It’s a family motto of his: “Undiseased joints are better than diseased joints.” Not the snappiest motto, but they were poor and it was all they could afford.

Just down the street from the hotel, I find a weapon and armor shop. There I sell the axes and armor cluttering up my inventory. I stroll out with about 900gp.

Considering how badly I’ve been getting pounded lately, I decide I need to beef up my defenses. So long, leather cuirass. So long, newly acquired iron cuirass. I’m moving up to steel, baby. It costs a pretty penny, but the assorted bandits, brigands, and beasties outside the cities are toughening up, and I’ve got to keep stride.

I go with the steel cuirass, iron greaves and boots, trade in my leather shield for an iron one, and nab an iron helmet. Naturally, after selling the armor off my back I forget to put on my new purchases, and wander around outside half-naked for a little while.

Eventually, I realize my mistake and check out my new duds.

Eh. Kinda badass. Too bad the helmet doesn’t cover more of the face, though. The face remains a problem.

I’m going to spend the day in town, and I don’t want to clank around the whole time, so I head to a trade goods shop for some street clothes. I also mix and sell some potions, as is my M.O. After all the selling and spending, I’m around 550 gold.

There. Lookin’ like an alchemist again. I hit up the Mage’s Guild, too, hoping to sell some potions and maybe find a ‘Heal Other’ spell I can use on Beaker the next time bandits turn him into a pin-cushion. No luck. The mage on duty has a few affordable spells, but nothing to heal a hurt horsie. I buy some ingredients and mix ‘em, winding back up around 900 gold again.

I come across an abandoned house as I’m wandering around. Hmm. If there’s a bed in there, it’d be a free place to sleep while I’m in town. The door is locked, but my psychic powers clearly identify the house as being abandoned… it’s a little against type, but I pick the lock and slip into the house. Harmless enough.

The place is pretty trashed. Cobwebs, broken furniture. No bed, but I find a couple souvenirs for my own home: a couple mugs, a bowl, a plate, a broom. A real find is crammed under a shelf: a book!

It’s called Waters of Oblivion. It’s worth 75 gold, but I think I’ll keep it.

I said keep it. Not read it. Snore!

In the basement I find a huge ancient evil talking door.

Plus, in a crate, I find a burlap shirt and some shoes. Sweet!

Back outside, it’s a crummy day. Raining, pretty dark. I meet a drunk, a couple beggers, and a guy who threatens to have me arrested for some reason. Nice town, I guess? Not feelin’ the love. I also meet a hot elf chick who really likes dogs.

Well, heck, I’ve got a disgusting dog disease. Does that do anything for you, sweet thing?

Speaking of which, it’s already gotten a bit late, and that disgusting dog disease still needs curing. It’s draining my speed and agility, plus, I’m feeling the urge to lick my own butt.

In this game, you can get any disease cured for no cost — Oblivion is practically Canada in that respect. You just have to visit a chapel and get your pray on. There’s someone already standing at the altar, so I patiently wait in line. Nondrick is a gentleman.

While I’m standing there, though, waiting for the lady in front of me to finish whatever the hell she’s doing, I realize something. I don’t think Nondrick is really much of a praying man. He just doesn’t strike me as religious. I don’t think he opposes religion, but, let’s face it, the only reason I’d visit a church is to hit on a priestess or get my body cleansed of canine filth.

Besides, aren’t I somewhat of an alchemist now? I’m not really supporting the trade if every time I get the sniffles I go running to the Gods for a hankie. I’m a man of science. Dammit, I’m not going to pray for a cure. I’m going to cure myself.

I leave the church and head back to the hotel to bed down for the night. That’s it. I’ve wanted to find a quest, a personal quest, I mean, for Nondrick to undertake. Ever since I met that weirdo obsessed with tomatoes I’ve wanted for Nondrick to have some sort of personal goal for himself. I think this might be it.

Look, if Oblivion had achievements, surely this would be one. “As an alchemist, cure a disease using a potion you created from ingredients you gathered.”

Screw the church. I’ll cure what ails me.

Interludes

Oh Hai

Sorry. Sorry sorry sorry.

Been caught up in Spore and other things lately — this weekend I shall fire Oblivion back up and continue Nondrick’s quest adventure aimless walking around.

Living in Oblivion

Hounds From Hell

So, I’ve got a house. Of course, it’s a bit plain, and in case MTV stops by I’d better spruce the place up a bit. The ugly lady in the Office of Imperial Commerce told me I could buy some furnishings for my pad by talking to Sergius Verus at Three Brothers Trade Goods, so I’m off to the Market District.

I find the store, but while his two brothers are manning the counter, Sergius is standing around outside and won’t sell me anything. I wait, watching, as he strolls around aimlessly, but after an hour he still hasn’t gone into the store. I guess it’s his day off.

Well, there’s plenty of ways to kill time. I hit up a few other shops and pubs, buying their ingredients, mixing them up, and selling them back. It’s not long until I’m back up to about 1500 gp again.

Then I’m off to the arena, again, to catch a late match. I watch people in dresses slaughter each other while I bet on them from the safety of the stands. I put a hundred on blue, and I am not disappointed. Add another hundred bucks to my wallet.

The next morning I head back to Three Brothers and catch Serguis behind the counter. He’s selling a lot of upgrades, but they’re around 700 septims each, so I can only buy two: the sitting area and the storage area. I walk back home and my purchases have been delivered. Nice! No assembly required, so they’re already better than IKEA.

There’s now a couple seats around the fireplace and a chest and bureau against the wall. The chest has a bowl and some yarn in it already (I put the bowl on the table), and the bureau has a few outfits neatly folded in it as well. I put on the new clothes, store the old ones, and even place the skull I picked up in Weatherleah on the top of the bureau. This is really becoming a kick-ass pad. Anyone want to come over and watch some fire with me and my skull?

Unfortunately, beng a homeowner carries with it some responsibilities. I’m pretty much broke after buying the home and furnishings, so I think it might be time for a little business trip. Out into the wild, to gather ingredients, something I feel like I haven’t done in ages.

So, no sooner do I have a home that I find I must leave it. At least it will give me a chance to hang out with my other expensive purchase, Beaker the horse.

Beaker is right where I left him, standing in the stables, and soon we’re galloping along the road outside Imperial City, headed south.

The plan is this: make a big southern loop around the city, find an inn somewhere to spend the night (since it’s already around noon), then, in the morning, strike out east for Cheydinhal, where I can stay for a few days while I scour the area for ingredients. I also (unwillingly) agreed to find out who was impersonating Reynald Jemane in Cheydinhal when I was back in Chorrol, so I’ll look into that, only because I’ve already been paid to.

Man, I love Beaker. He just eats up the road. After all the walking I’ve done, it’s nice to be able to get somewhere in a reasonable amount of time.

Of course, the first location we reach is the crosshairs of a bandit archer, who opens fire as we’re crossing Old Bridge. I ride past him as a couple arrows strike me, get Beaker to a safe distance, and then dismount and charge.

The bowman, not an idiot, runs as soon as I get close to him. I’m too slow to catch him, but I eventually manage to corner him against some boulders, and he draws a dagger. He drops shortly afterwards, and I take his clothes. As you do.

He also has a steel bow, higher quality than my iron one, so I nab that as well. Meanwhile, I’ve got a few arrows stuck in me.

Including one he somehow shot straight down into the back of my neck. Not sure how he managed that one, or how I can still move my legs with an arrowhead lodged in my spine.

A little further down the road I come across Pell’s Gate, a small community of people who stand around staring into space, walking short distances, staring into space again, and offering rumors to passersby. They don’t have an inn, however, so we continue on.

The sun is starting to set when I spot a wolf or a dog in the distance. I slide off Beaker and take aim with my bow, not especially worried. I’ve been fighting wolves since day one, but if it’s a dog, its master may be close by.

I score a hit and the wolf runs at me. I can’t help but notice that even with a critical hit, the wolf does not appear to be hurt. At all.

I score another arrow as it gets closer. Again, its health barely even registers the strike.

I stupidly don’t get my sword and shield ready until it’s already biting at me. And apparently, it hasn’t been brushing its teeth.

Oh, man. It gave me a disease called Helljoint. Will I still be able to enjoy my active lifestyle?

I notice a couple things all of the sudden. This isn’t just a wolf, this is a Timber Wolf. That’s, like, a better wolf than just a normal wolf, I guess, which would explain why the arrows didn’t do much damage, and why this wolf is attacking much faster than they usually do and is not falling dead after a couple swings of my sword.

I also notice this:

That short red line that is so short it’s almost not a line? That would be my health bar after just a few bites. I’m suddenly, scarily, very close to being much less alive than I’ve been accustomed to.

Luckily, the wolf isn’t doing so great either by this point. Backpedaling, blocking, I finally manage to drop it. Man. That was my closest call yet, and I didn’t even realize it until it was almost too late.

I heal up with Mara’s Word, topping off my health, and take a look at this disease I’ve contracted.

Helljoint is draining my speed and agility? Not my speed and agility! That’s what Nondrick is known for!

Well, I am an alchemist. Maybe I can cure it or something. I have some Root Pulp in my sack, which has curative properties, but nothing else I can match it with. Good thing I’m on an ingredient finding trip. I poke around in the woods as the sky grows dark. I find some ingredients, but nothing with Cure Disease elements. I find an angry woman, however.

She rushes toward me from a nearby fort, brandishing a huge two-handed sword. I guess there’s two types of people in the world: those who gossip about mudcrabs, and those who want to cut you in half.

She has a dog, too, who joins in attacking me. Swell. What a great idea this trip was.

I’m back down to about half-health before she finally falls, and the dog, meanwhile, has begun to attack Beaker, who stands there like a fucking idiot doing nothing. GET AWAY FROM BEAKER, MANGY CUR!!

Luckily, the dog isn’t tough to bring down, plus, he’s carrying some silverware, a knife, which I can add to my dinner table when we get home.

The dead female marauder is wearing some iron armor. Hmm… wonder how that would look on me?

Completely different, that’s how. This certainly is a realm of magic and mystery!

While I’m standing there, I notice two more figures rushing out of the gloom in my direction. Luckily, it’s just a couple of Imperial Legion Foresters, hunting deer. I follow one, who has managed to chase a deer into the river. He finishes it off with a few arrows, then runs off, not even bothering to collect the carcass. I guess he just hates deer. Everyone needs a hobby.

Works for me, though. I help myself to the meat (and the steel arrows stuck in the corpse), and brew up a potion of Restore Health using the venison and some lavender. I fills me back up to 100% within a few seconds.

It’s gotten quite dark out, though it’s a clear night and the stars make it easier to see. Still, I haven’t found an inn, so this may wind up being an all-nighter. I cross another bridge, where yet another Khajiit highwayman demands money in exchange for not killing me.

We square off, and he dies pretty quickly, but no sooner have we crossed the bridge than another bandit runs out of the darkness and attacks Beaker’s butt.

GET AWAY FROM BEAKER’S BUTT, MANGY CUR!!!

It turns out I’ve got the only thing that will cure this bandit’s hatred of horse buttocks, so I administer a lethal dose. A lethal dose of death.

We come upon a ruined, burned out shack that used to be an alchemist’s (not a good omen, if you ask me), and I find some potions scattered around, and a few gp in a chest. No bed, however, so we press on into the night. Near Fort Magia, directly east of Imperial City, I run into a Legion Guard heading in the same direction. He’s nice enough to clear the path by killing a couple wolves while I watch from my saddle like a big wimp.

As I make the eastward turn toward Cheydinhal, I find a cabin, which is locked. Jeez, I could have sworn there were some inns or camps along this road. If only Nondrick could open one.

We run afoul of yet another bandit, who attacks Beaker. Why do people hate Beaker so much? Beaker is cool, man. Another bandit appears and starts zipping arrows from the treeline, again, at my horse. This trip keeps getting worse.

As the bandit and I hack and slash at each other directly in front of Beaker’s snout, a few of my blows go sadly astray, striking my horse. I know this because as soon as the bandit dies, Beaker attacks me. Well, that’s just great. Dude, I thought you were cool!

As fitting as it would be for the hapless Nondrick to be kicked to death by his own horse (it would be pretty much the perfect way to end the blog, you have to admit), I defuse the situation by running away, then circling around and getting onto Beaker’s back. That seems to calm him down. Meanwhile, arrows keep plunking in from the woods. Beaker doesn’t seem to give a shit about that, for some reason.

Will this night never end? Sighing gustily, I get back off the stupid horse and race into the stupid woods to find the stupid bandit. He flees, but right back into the road, where I cut him down before he can draw a melee weapon.

Poor Beaker is a pin cushion by this point, at less than half health, partially due to my wild, inaccurate swings. I think if we make it to Cheydinhal alive, I’m going to need to buy a Heal Other spell.

At least I’m doing a lot of looting. I’ve got so many sets of dead bandit armor and weapons I can’t even carry it all. I discard the cheapest items I’ve got — clothing, fur boots, some gauntlets, until I’ve lightened the load enough to move.

Finally, I reach Cheydinhal. It’s seven in the morning. I need food and rest. I lead Beaker into the stable, then enter the city. Right by the main gate I stumble upon Newland’s Lodge, rent a room for 10 gold, mix and sell everything I’ve got to the clerk, and head up the steps to bed.

Coming down the stairs at that moment is someone familiar-looking. It looks just like Reynald Jemane, the guy who gave me fifty gold to find out who in Cheydinhal was impersonating him. Looks like I found him.

Turns out, they’re brothers, long-lost, and Reynald dashes off to be with his drunk sibling, inviting me to join them in Chorrol. Think I’ll pass, thanks, I’ve got a long week of near-death experiences and horse abuse lined up.

Well, the unwanted quest is done. That was pretty easy. There’s nothing to this adventuring stuff. Trying to make a living as an alchemist, that’s hard.

It’s 7:45am when I finally make it to bed. Rough night. I lost my clothes, dropped in the road so I could carry more armor. Almost lost my horse to various attacks, including some of mine.

And, almost lost my life. Again. I know I keep saying I’ve got to be more careful, but man, I’ve really got to be more careful.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day 27: Trouble by the Boatload

I’m interrogated the moment I step out of my bedroom on the Bloated Float, by a large Nord named Lynch, who cleverly determines that I don’t look like a professional outlaw.

I tell him I’m just a passenger, hoping he’ll leave me alone or not feel threatened. My other choice was to tell him to mind his own business, which I somehow think wouldn’t defuse the situation.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t accept this answer. Two things, only two, come to mind: I could tell him I’m with the City Watch, or tell him I’m in his gang. Unfortunately, there’s no option to explain that I’m a humble radish-picker who took a nap in the wrong floating hotel.

I tell him I’m in his gang, despite the fact that he’s already surmised I am not. This does not feel right to me. I should be able to beg for my life or offer him some money or something in exchange for not killing me, right? Apparently, the game has not caught on that I am a cowardly silverware collector. Hasn’t it been paying attention?

He says something menacing that I forget to take a screenshot of, and then draws a gleaming sword that looks like it’s about twice my height. Ah, fuck.

I’m not even wearing armor. Sure, I could pause the game by bringing up my inventory screen and put on every piece of armor I’ve got, but I’m trying to roleplay here. I’m trying to roleplay a very stupid peasant in a very dangerous situation. There’s nowhere to run. There’s nowhere to hide. A short sword and some humble merchants clothing are all that stand between me and the hereafter. Between me and the end of this blog.

We square off. I hold up my blade defensively, waiting for him to make the first move. Cripes, lookit that thing he’s holding. If he misses he could sink the ship.

He takes a swing, I block, and then fling a fireball at him. I miss, despite being about an inch away. Stupid third-person perspective. I fling another and hit, and he lights up like a Christmas tree that’s had a fireball flung at it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to do much damage. Gonna have to use my blade to win this one, I think.

Our weapons clang off one another in the narrow hallway as we hack at each other. He’s thrown off balance when I block one of his blows, and that’s when I strike, then get back into defensive posture again, always keeping my guard up. I throw in a fireball or two, which hit but again don’t do much damage. He lands a couple blows and my health drops to about half.

I back up and throw some more flares his way. My kingdom for a Backburner! Still, I think I have him on the ropes. One more good slash with my substandard blade and he flops dead against the door.

Lynch doesn’t have much on him. A measly 4 gold, the key, and a set of leather armor. He’s also carrying a note.

Guess Lynch doesn’t read so well. I put on his armor and take his silver longsword. I have to admit, I look kinda badass.

At least until I put on my stupid fur helmet. Kinda ruins the look, but I need all the protection I can get. I heal myself a few times, then free the bouncer, an orc, who’s been locked in a closet. He tells me he can steer the hotel back to land, but he won’t go up to the deck until it’s safe. Looks like I’m not out of this yet.

I eat some food I find in the storage room, heal myself back to full health, and creep upstairs.

At the top of the steps I spy another brigand. I think about attacking her before she sees me, but I’m just not that kinda guy. Maybe I can talk my way out of the rest of this quest.

I tell her I’m in the gang, and that Lynch sent me up to help her. I guess I’m as poor a reader as Lynch was — his note specifically stated not to bother her, and she knows I’m lying. Oops.

This time, I’m much better prepared. I’ve got armor, a shield, a dead animal protecting my head, and a sword that does three times the damage my old one did. She’s a pushover. She also doesn’t have much loot on her, except 5 gold, her armor, a steel sword, and a key to the top deck.

I definitely can’t swim home from here.

I head aft, and wind up directly behind a hulking Nord henchman named Wrath. He doesn’t see me. I decide to poison my sword this time, to hopefully avoid any extended combat. The only potion I can mix up is a Burden (which could potentially root him in place), so I soak my blade in it, then talk to him.

I feed him some lines about how I’m in the gang, which doesn’t work for the 3rd time in a row. Jeez! Why are these outlaws so suspicious of a complete stranger in their midst?

We fight. He dies. Man, I’m lovin’ this new sword. I’m keepin‘ this new sword. I take his armor and steel sword and the handful of change he’s got in his pocket. And yet another key, this one to the cabin of the hotel owner.

The wussy orc bouncer tells me he won’t turn the ship around until he knows his boss is safe, so I’m going to have to rescue him from his cabin. I heal myself again, then prepare my ace-in-the-hole: my frost damage spell. It does 50 points of damage, but I have to be close enough to touch someone to use it, and I can only use it once per day. Still, it’s gotta be better than my wimpy flare, which doesn’t seem to hurt anyone but mudcrabs.

I enter the cabin. There I’m faced by a very attractive woman, Selene, the apparent leader of this gang. Behind her is the proprietor of the hotel.

I tell her I’m the ship’s cook. She doesn’t believe me. I’m getting a little TIRED of these distrustful BRIGANDS.

She’s fast, and cuts into me with her sword, which is apparently magic as it starts draining my fatigue. Not good. The lower my fatigue, the less damage my attacks will do. I run right up to her and cast my frost spell right on her, well, bosoms, let’s say. Immediately her health drops to almost nothing. Score! Thank you, Nordic heritage! I block her next attack with my shield and make a big swing with my sword while she’s off balance. Whammo. She’s down for the count. Whew.

Ormil, the guy who’s hotel she stole and who she was holding captive, the guy I just saved from certain death, turns and walk right past me, leaving the cabin without a word of thanks or even a look in my direction.

Fine. Nice gratitude, asshole. I look around his cabin, and see a table with some food on it. I decide to take some, just for his rudeness. I’m totally stealing your carrots, jerk. And I DO. I STEAL HIS CARROTS. I take an apple, too. Let no one tell you Nondrick doesn’t have a dark side.

I strip the dead brigand of her belongings, another set of armor, and her magic sword, the Blackwater Blade, which absorbs fatigue. That’s pretty cool, a magic sword, but honestly, my new silver sword does more damage, and I think I’m gonna stick with it. If I get a magic sword, I gotta recharge it when it runs out of juice, which means paying mages for their magic, and then they always try to get you to buy the extended warranty, and it’s just a big hassle.

With all the junk I’ve picked up, I’m over-encumbered and can’t move. I drop some of my old fur armor on the floor until I’m light enough to walk, then head back into the bar.

There, Ormil finally shows me some gratitude for saving both his life and his stupid hotelboat. He explains that to boost his floating hotel business, he made up a story about some treasure he had on board, and that’s what the four brigands were after, and what they died for. Good job!

We get back to the city, and Ormil gives me a reward: 75 gold. Wow, thanks. He then rifles through my pockets without my consent, removing all the keys I’d collected. Don’t worry, I won’t be back. And I’m not returning your produce. And, with that, I’ve completed my first, and hopefully last, genuine quest.

I do, however, have a personal quest to attend to. This adventure on the boat, while unwanted and unwelcome and, frankly, very un-Nondrick, has at least made up my mind about something.

I went to the Bloated Float because it was late and I needed a place to sleep. And I did that because I didn’t have a place of my own to sleep. I didn’t have a safe haven. I didn’t have a home. I’m rectifying that right now.

I walk to the Office of Imperial Commerce and buy that shithole in the Waterfront District for 2,000 gold.

There. Done. Did it. Done did it. I’ve got Nondrick a home.

Now I can end the blog.

Just kidding.

My new home, um. It ain’t much. Just a bed, a fireplace, and a table. Not even a friggin’ chair.

Still, four walls, a roof, and it’s mine. Besides, I can cozy it up a bit, right? I start going through my pockets and putting my carefully collected items around the room.

On my bedpost, I put my hourglass. You know, so I don’t oversleep. I also put out my crystal ball, so every morning I can see what kind of day I’ve got planned. And, I put the folded cloth I stole from the hotel in Anvil, my first hotel, down at the foot of the bed. I also put a pot on the floor. Fer, y’know.

On my table, I (awkwardly) lay out the silverware I’ve found inside dead, filthy animals. A couple forks, a knife, and a spoon. I also put out the stone pitcher and mug, and a couple pots. Guess I’ll have to buy a plate at some point, or maybe find one inside a dead rat.

Well, it certainly ain’t much, but it’s home. And hey, there’s my very own bed. I think I’ll give it a test drive.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day 26: Gambling Man

I’m standing in the Office of Imperial Commerce in the Market District of Imperial City, listening to a catcher’s mitt tell me that she’s got a house for sale.

A hovel, eh? I’ve worked hard for my money. I’ve picked weeds, I’ve killed wolves and women, and I’ve mushed up questionable potions for over three weeks. Do I really want to blow my wad on a hovel? A dump, maybe. A shack, perhaps. But a hovel?

I decide I’ll think about it a bit. It’s not like I can sell it later if I change my mind.

Part of the reason I’m hesitant is that the waterfront isn’t the most convenient place to live. It’s surrounded by a lake on three sides. I don’t fancy Nondrick much of a swimmer, so anytime he wants to go a-gatherin’, he’ll have to walk all the way up to the bridge and cross it to reach the outside world. And that only gives him access to the area west of the city — if I want to explore to the east I have to circle around the entire city, which takes a while. Most cities have at least two exits, but here there’s only one real way in or out.

I’ll think about it. In the meantime, let’s take some time to explore the city and see what it has to offer a guy with a full changepurse.

Like, say, gambling. Here in the arena district, you can bet money on the fights (or just watch them for fun). Two combatants, one from the BLU team and one from the RED — er, wait. One from the Blue Team and one from the Yellow Team will square off and fight until one of them is dead. I place 100 bucks on the Yellow Team (representing my own cowardice) and enter the arena.

With Nondrick watching from the balcony seats, the two combatants square off. For Yellow, a female with a two-handed axe. Blue’s champion is a guy weilding a mace. Neither have shields, so they just pummel each other’s faces with their weapons until finally, happily, the Yellow warrior fells the Blue. Nondrick won!

I rush back down to the bookie who gives me 200 gold. I doubled my investment and all it took was a man’s life being brutally and irrevocably taken! I think I’ll make another bet.

This time I bet on Blue, and I’m glad. As the combatants rush each other, I notice the Yellow warrior, a woman again, has no weapon. She’s just using her fists and her complete lack of intelligence in this fight.

[By the way, If you're wondering how I'm watching from the arena floor while Nondrick is watching from the balcony, there's a console command, "tfc", that lets you leave your character and fly your camera around, noclip-like. Wish I'd known this from the beginning.]

Not surprisingly, Blue wins the round easily. I win again, and I’m up 200 gold! Clearly, I have a gift for gambling. I plunk another 100 bucks on Blue.

Immediately, I realize I’ve bet on the wrong horse. They’re both armed with one-handed axes, but the female Yellow gladiator has a shield, and the male Blue does not. Dumbass! Why don’t you have a shield with you? Borrow one from a friend if you have to, your life is on the line! I wish we could see the contestants before the fight, like you can do with racehorses. But then, I also wish racehorses would fight to the death. It’d be the best of both worlds.

The Yellow fighter strides away without even looking back, vanishing like my money just did. Dang it! Gotta win back my money! I don’t have a gambling problem, I swear.

I run back outside and bet on Blue again. This time, I think it’s a good bet. My guy has a huge two-handed hammer, and the Yellow chick has only a one-handed axe and no shield.

Wow! Blue immediately clobbers Yellow so hard she drops her weapon. Boink! While she bends down to pick it back up, he’s got a clear shot at her head! He doesn’t take it, however, perhaps being too much of a gentlemen. It doesn’t matter in the end, though, she ain’t got much game and it only takes a few more swings of his hammer to viciously pound her to death. Then he walks off, stepping on her face in the process.

So, I guess he’s not a gentleman after all. But who cares, he’s my personal hero because I just won another 100 gold! I’m three for four today! And I’ve never even put points into my Luck attribute!

One more match and then I gotta go. I swear. This is the last time I bet on people murdering each other today. I do not have a gambling problem.

I put my money on Yellow this time, feeling they’re due for a win. You can watch the entire fight here on YouTube, including some thoughtful reactions from Nondrick in the booth after the match. I won’t spoil it, but once again, someone thought it would be a good idea to show up without a weapon. Though this same someone appears to teleport during the match, a clever move, the outcome is never truly in doubt.

Okay, that’s all the bloodshed I want to see today (this is a lie: I want to stay and keep gambling). That hovel on the Waterfront seems more appealing now, being so close to the Arena. That was fun. Reminds me of that To The Death feature some guy used to do on some website.

Even outside the Arena, people are getting in on the action, and I watch a lizard and a lady wearing a bra spar for a bit. They tell me they’re busy training. I’d like to suggest they try training with weapons, because fists just aren’t the way to go. I’ve just seen the proof.

I head over to the city’s Arboretum, which is quite lovely [YouTube]. Along with all the lovely statues, trees, plants, and other foliage, I notice a sewer grate in the ground, leading to the tunnels under the city. I decide to take a look. You know, I don’t want to just visit the cheesy tourist traps like the Arboretum, I want to really experience this city! I want to see the grit and the grime, the filth and the stink, the shadowy underworld of this gleaming city. Otherwise It’d be like going to New York and not checking out the subway, or going to San Francisco and not checking out Oakland.

Immediately, I’m attacked by a giant rat. So it is like the New York subway.

Wow, swanky city indeed, even the rats are born with silver spoons in their intestines. It’s so damn classy down here.

I find some other junk in a couple rotting crates — a hand scythe, a couple covered pots, a stone pitcher, a pickaxe… someday these will adorn my home. Possibly some day very soon, if I decide to buy the hovel.

I come across some mudcrabs and dispatch them with fireballs. I come to a door that informs me it leads to Bloodworks, which is directly under the arena. Maybe I could meet some of the gladiators, and thank them for killing people so that I may make fill my pockets with gold.

Or, maybe I should get the hell out of here. One corpse dangles from the ceiling, another appears to be nailed to a wall. In an adjacent room, I hear the creaking of bones and see a skeleton pacing slowly about.

Time to creep back out the way I came.

It’s getting late as I finally make it to the waterfront to check out the hovel firsthand. It doesn’t look like much, but the view is nice.

I’m still not sure if I should buy it. In the meantime, I need to find a place to rest for the night. I stroll along the Waterfront, where some pirates sing to me and rudely insinuate that my pants are, as they put it, “fancy.” A few minutes later I find an inn, called the Bloated Float. It’s actually a boat anchored to the dock that’s been converted to a restaurant and inn. How novel! I’m a tourist after all, I guess.

The rooms are 10 gold for the night, so after a quick meal and a drink, I head down to my bunk for some sleep. In the morning, this message greets me, appearing before my eyes.

Ah, crap. Is this game still trying to make me do quests? Haven’t I made it clear that’s not my scene? Sigh. I’ll just do what I always do, ignore it and carry on with my day.

Then this guy greets me, appearing outside my door. A big ass dude with a big ass sword, wearing some impressive-looking armor. He’s… not going to be easy to ignore.

It looks like adventure finally found me. It looks like my luck’s run out.

Interludes

Interlude with a Vampire

This is your character.

This is your character on porphyric hemophilia.

Any questions?

My main character in Oblivion (who you can see in the first link above) was named Murderin’ Jim. I created a custom class for him called “Murderer”. He was, as you might imagine, not the nicest guy. I put him through the Thieves Guild missions and the Assassins Guild missions, and by the time he was finished he was not only not nice, but was extremely powerful. He was also a vampire for a while.

It’s fun being a vampire in the game, and I encourage everyone to try it, even for just a few levels. At first, it seems like a hassle: you take sun damage, you have to be extremely careful about fast-traveling, and if you don’t feed for a few days you really start looking ghoulish (see the second link above), which makes people refuse to talk to you or even attack you. It makes it hard to do business or get new quests.

It does come with a number of perks, though, in the form of increased strength, invisibility, night-vision and life-detect, charm spells, etc.

I was thinking it might be interesting for Nondrick to become a vampire. There are some pretty big hurdles, though. First off, there are only a couple ways to become a vampire. First, if you play the assassin’s guild missions, you are offered the opportunity, but there’s no way Nondrick will be sneaking around killing people. Or even sneaking around being nice to people. It’s not really his thing.

You can also become a vampire though combat — if a vampire attacks you, there’s a small chance you’ll contract the disease. You can cure it easily enough at the outset — getting blessed at an altar will cure all your ills — but if you don’t, in a few days you’ll become a vampire.

Curing the disease after you’ve become a vampire is a huge headache due to the quest attached to it, and Nondrick doesn’t do quests. Not that it matters, since there’s relatively little chance that Nondrick will ever come in contact with vampires anyway, because he doesn’t do caverns and forts, either.

So, just for kicks, I thought I’d save a new game and enter in the cheat codes to give him vampirism, just to see how he’d look as the disease progressed.

And here is the result. Not a good look for a guy who is already not a good-looker.

Living in Oblivion

Sorry For the Delays

Hey. Sorry I haven’t updated in a while, but I just haven’t had a good stretch of time to play Oblivion and very little time to write. I should be able to get on it this weekend and have some new entries start rolling in early next week. I appreciate the patience!

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day 25: Adding to the Mix

As I stand outside the gates of Bruma in the early morning light, I let out a big, gusty sigh. Not Nondrick, but me, Chris, the guy behind the keyboard.

Here’s the thing — I’m really not looking forward to the long boring walk back down that road. It’s slow, it’s tedious, the few ingredients I found on the way up probably won’t have regenerated yet, and I probably won’t even get attacked because I killed all the wolves on the way up. It took three game-days to get up here, it’ll probably take close to that to get back. That translates to, I dunno, an half-hour or so real-time? Forty-five minutes? An hour? I don’t know, but I do know I just don’t feel like doing it.

I set a rule when I started — no fast-traveling. I’m not totally against breaking my own rules, and this seems like a fair cheat to skip what is certain to be a boring trip, but I’m afraid if I let myself do it once I’ll do it again later, and then again, and then it’ll be a regular thing.

Another option is to run instead of walk, but that’s sort of another rule of mine. You really don’t see NPCs sprinting around unless they’re being pursued or in pursuit, and it’s another habit I don’t want to slip into.

Of course, there’s a third option, and I’m standing right in front of it.

Could I buy Nondrick a horse? It’s breaking one rule — NPCs, except for Imperial Legion Soldiers, don’t have horses. Then again, the stable owner has horses, even if she doesn’t ride them around, and the stable owner is an NPC. And I plan to buy a house someday, which NPCs don’t do, though most of them already own houses. So, on some level it seems like buying a horse is fair enough. That’s one sort of shaky way to justify it.

The potentially bigger issue is that the cheapest horse costs 500 gold, non-negotiable. That’s more than a third of the money I’ve spent the last twenty or so days accumulating. That’s a big purchase for something that I don’t have complete control over. Horses can die — they can be killed by bandits or monsters or other animals. They can fall off cliffs. They can get just plain lost if you don’t stable them — I think they eventually wander back to where they were bought, which would mean another long slow walk up to Bruma to retrieve it. It’s definitely risky.

But the idea is in my head now. I really want to avoid that walk, and it would be cool for Nondrick, always the loner, to have sort of a pet. A pal. Plus, I won’t take him with me everywhere. If I’m out scouring for ingredients or exploring, I’ll leave him in the stable, but there are going to be times when I want to travel between cities quickly. Like right now.

Ah, why the hell not? I plunk down my cash and wander out to the stable to retrieve my horse, whose name is apparently “My Paint Horse.” Really rolls off the tongue. I use the console cheat “setactorfullname” and rename my new companion. I’m an alchemist, so what’s the first name that pops into my head?

Yeah. Beaker and I are totally BFF now.

It’s a completely uneventful ride down from the Jerall Mountains. The dead wolves are still lying in the road, so new ones haven’t spawned to replace them and we travel unmolested. While Beaker isn’t going to break any speed records, it’s much, much faster than walking and we read the bridge to Imperial City before noon.

The weather has soured quite a bit, and it’s gray and rainy as we make our glorious, thrilling… well, honestly, it’s just a really crummy ride to the gates of Imperial City [YouTube] Stupid weather! It couldn’t have been sunny? For this? Shouldn’t the game know when I’m reaching its crown jewel for the first time and make the weather nice for the occasion? No. Guess not.

But hey, I’m here! I made it. Imperial City. No shit.

I park Beaker in the stable outside the gates, and step into the city, triumphant. Then I immediately dash back out to the stables, to make sure the game didn’t teleport my horse back to Bruma or anything stupid like that. Yup, Beaker is still there, safe and sound.

I step back into the city again, slightly less triumphant than I was a moment ago, but still very, very triumphant. At least 96% as triumphant. I have a triumphant look around Talos Plaza.

I find my way to a hotel, the Tiber Septim. It’s huge, classy, and 40gp for a room. I decline to make a reservation, but I chat with the woman behind the counter, Augusta Calidia, then buy all her groceries, smoosh them into paste, and sell them back. I end up with 1062 septims after our transaction, so even after buying Beaker, I’m back in four figures again.

I head to the palace, and have a look around for famous spire that I’ve been getting tantalizing glimpses of since I got off the boat in Anvil. I’m sure it’s around here somewhere…

I wouldn’t mind taking some time to go sightseeing, but with the weather so crummy it doesn’t seem worth it right now. Maybe I should get down to business first. So, I pick some mushrooms in the graveyard, then head into the Market District.

There are all sort of shops here. Magic shops, potion shops, armor & weapons suppliers, bookstores, a store that just sells shields, a jewelry store, plus several inns and pubs. I head to a general store called The Copius Coinpurse, where I buy all the cheap ingredients they’ve got. Instead of mixing them up, though, I head over to an alchemy store called The Gilded Carafe. Again, I’m just stockpiling, and I buy everything worth 2gp and under. I wander over to an inn called The Feedbag, and buy all the cheap stuff there, too.

I’m down to about 600 gold now, but I’ve got sacks full of corn, bread, apples, pears, cheese, grapes, carrots, lettuce, and other general groceries. Time to mix. I whip up some two-ingredient potions, like Corny Pear Juice, Grapey Cheese Glop, Tomato Radish Squeezin’s, Blackberry Onion Slush, Potato Rice Stew, and Ham Watermelon Surprise (the surprise is that it tastes even more disgusting than Corny Pear Juice).

It all amounts to 86 Restore Fatigue potions, which the proprietor of the Feed Bag is willing to buy for 10 dollars a pop. When I’m done, I’m back up to 1543 gold. I can pay off Beaker.

I find another alchemy shop, The Main Ingredient, and buy them out of rice and pears, selling back the potions for another couple hundred bucks. I also buy some of the more exotic (yet still inexpensive) ingredients, and make some more interesting brews, like five Burden potions (they sell for 60 gold), Resist Paralysis (12 gold), and Restore Intelligence (also 12). I’m close to 1800 bucks, now.

I stroll over to the Merchant’s Inn, as I am more or less a merchant, where I find rooms that go for 20 gp per night. I also find yet another treasure trove of groceries, and when I’m done mixing and selling them, two things have happened.

There’s that, which will make my potioncrafting much more versatile. And, there’s this:

I made over a thousand bucks today, all by visiting a handful of shops. I wasn’t in any danger, I didn’t have to explore caves or ruins, I didn’t even have to brutally slaughter any women. All I had to do was buy and sell. Amazing.

I hang around the Inn for a bit, people watching, then head up to my room. In the morning, I’ll be visiting the Office of Imperial Commerce, right here in the Market District. Something tells me there might be a house for sale around here I can afford. Okay, I happen to know there’s a house around here I can afford, because I’ve played the game like five times before.

I also happen to know it’s a real dump. So, like I had with Beaker earlier, I have another dilemma approaching. I can buy Nondrock a house, a real house, just like I’ve wanted to do since I started. But is the hovel in Imperial City the house I really want to buy him? Should I wait and find something nicer, even though it’ll be much more expensive?

I’ll sleep on it, I guess, and decide in the morning. And even if I don’t wind up with a house tomorrow, at least I got a horse today.

Living in Oblivion

Day 24: Made for Bruma

So. I developed a bit of a bad attitude on the hike to Bruma, but I’m determined to be a bit more positive today. After all, despite the dreary, uneventful trip through the mountains, I’m in a new city, with new people to meet, new places to explore, and, potentially, new women to ogle.

After a quick breakfast of corn and oranges purchased from Olav, I strike out into the city. Bruma is a frosty place: even the buildings seem huddled together for warmth. I find my way to the Jerall View Inn, a pleasantly roomy tavern, where I talk to the innkeeper, Hafid Hollowleg. I’m rewarded for joking with him by my Speechcraft odometer turning over. My ascension to Level Four is suddenly imminent.

I’m a fool, all right! A level-gainin’ fool! I won’t gain my next level until I sleep tonight, but I think my new positive outlook is already working for me.

I proceed to buy up everything Hafid has in stock, squeeze the resulting glop into bottles, and sell them back to him, winding up with a nice 1320 septims when I’m done.

When I step outside again, it’s begun to snow. How pretty. I stare dumbly at the peaceful beauty for a bit, then I poke my head into a shop called Novaroma, and see what they’ve got for sale.

Monkeypants!

I have nothing to add to that.

I also pop into a shop called Nord Winds to sell my wolf pelts and a few other odds and ends and get my armor and weapons repaired. I take a look at some of the clothing they have for sale, and consider some heavier steel armor, but it’s a bit expensive. When I’m done there I’m sitting pretty at 1475 gold. Next, I head over to the Mage’s Guild where I find a fetching woman behind the desk.

Mushroom Daiquiri, please! Shaken, not stirred. I follow my usual pattern — leer, chat, buy, mix, sell — and wind up with over 1500 septims at the end. Hey, I’m getting pretty wealthy. Maybe it’s time to price some real estate.

I stroll over to the Castle Bruma to see if I can get the skinny on houses for sale. Bowing low before the Countess (okay, I’m crouching, but it’s the best I can do), I find the usual obstacles in place: she doesn’t know me well enough to talk housing.

Well, that can quickly be solved by telling a few jokes, bragging about my awesome abs, admiring the way she sits there all day doing nothing, and threatening her life. Bingo, now we’re fast friends, and she informs me she’s got a place for sale.

The price tag: 10,000 gold.

Now, that’s pretty pricey. I’ve been playing for over three game-weeks and I’m nowhere near that. Still, the way I’ve been working the alchemy grind lately, it doesn’t really feel so out of reach. I’m getting more persuasive, I’m a better salesman, and my potion skills are slowly increasing. Buying a house, for the first time, feels within the realm of possibility. That’s kind of exciting.

Of course, even if I were loaded down with gold, would I just buy a house, sight unseen? Shouldn’t I have a look at it first? While they won’t let me poke around inside the house that’s for sale, maybe I can get some idea of what the houses are like in Bruma by simply walking into people’s homes unannounced.

So, I’m off to barge into people’s houses and stare at their stuff like some kinda creep. On the way out of the castle I run into Gan Luseph, the castle mage and healer.

So. I get the third degree before the countess will reveal the city’s real estate listings, but she lets this pervert wander around casting spells and hitting on tourists? Nice.

I wander around Bruma for a while, trying to get into people’s houses. No luck. I encounter locked door after locked door. I thought people in the north didn’t lock their doors? Finally, I get inside one, the home of Lyra Rosentia. It’s quite a nice place. The furnishings are pleasant, it’s very cozy, and the breasts are fantastic. I talk to Lyra a bit, and not only is she pretty, she doesn’t seem to mind that some weirdo has wandered into her bedroom. I check out her home while she walks from place to place, stopping every now and then to stare at a wall. Everyone needs a hobby.

I find another unlocked door, that of Arnora Auria. She is… not so pleasant. She glares at me with real anger, though it’s hard to see her glare over the glare of the enormous gigantic jewel hung around her neck. Still, her house looks very nice, even though the atmosphere is a bit chilly.

I continue my tour of Bruma, walking into another home. Whoops. Did I come at a bad time?

A little CSI: Bruma, huh? Despite the brutally murdered dead man lying on the bed a few feet away, I can’t help but wonder if this house might be for sale shortly.

The sunlight is petering away. I head to the church for a quick prayer and blessing, then wander back through the falling snow to the Jerall View. There I’m happy to once again see the lovely Lyra Rosentia. I wouldn’t have made her for a barfly, but knowing she hangs around taverns alone late at night certainly does nothing to lessen her appeal.

The Oblivion wiki has this to say about her:

Lyra Rosentia is a completely generic female Imperial Commoner living in Bruma.

Commoner? Generic?

Ain’t nothin’ generic or common about that caboose, baby! Nondrick likey!

Unfortunately, her conversation is a bit generic, and we quickly run out of things to say to each other. So, I spring for a room at the Jerall (25 gold) and settle in for the night. Which means it’s time to level.

Okay, after this I’ve really got to put some points into strength and endurance. But for now, I’m going to gamble another level on helping me become a better salesman, alchemist, and all-around charming bastard.

Well, except for one angry woman and an apparent murderer on the loose, Bruma seems like a nice enough place. The houses I wandered into without permission are cozy and I could see living here myself. The biggest downside to living in Bruma is that it would mean I’m living in Bruma — not the most convenient place to reach and a poor center of operations for a slowly wandering alchemist. There’s not a whole lot of ingredients to pick nearby, and it’s ages from anywhere else of interest.

Still, it’s on the maybe list. It’s the first town I’ve found that will let me buy a home without being a famous adventurer, and the price is high but not completely out of reach. We’ll see.

Tomorrow, though, I’m out of here. Bruma is small and I think I covered most of it today, except for all those jerks who keep their doors locked for some reason. In the morning, I’ll be on my way.

And this time, I mean it: I’m heading for Imperial City and nothing — nothing — is going to stop me. Not even me.