As I step into the inn at Riverwood I hear the local bard playing on his lute singing some song about Ragna the Red, I was only half-way paying attention.  The inn keeper is wiping down the bar as I approach and begin asking about work and rumors around town.  He said something about an orphan trying to contact the Dark Brotherhood - a scary thought for naught but a child - and some nonesense about a shrine to Azura built by the Dunmer.  The former is interesting, and I may have to check it out later.  I showed me a bounty placed on a bandit chief within the hold, I took that like a hawk to flight, or perhaps a dragon would be more apt in time as these?  My next stop is to lighten my load at the shops.  I was still carrying a lot of stuff from both the chaos at Helgen and my vengence in Embershard Mine.  First to the blacksmith to rid myself of extra armor and weapons, trade out what I had on - a hodge podge of stolen armors - for a set of light leather armor minus the healm.  I don't like regular healmets and the sort, they get in the way - now hoods and cowls that I can pull up and take down as needed serve a much better, if different, purpose.  With that done, it's time to cross the street to the general goods store.

I enter, apparently interrupting an arguement, the shop and decide to do business first.  I sell off all I can spare for whatever coin I get out of it.  Some of the junk I just let the shopkeeper have so it's not taking up room in my bags.  I'm more than a little intrigued by what his sister was discussing with him when I entered.  "Well, one of us has to do something," she had been telling him.  So I ask what happened and discover that their shop had been robbed - of just one family item - by a group of bandits not too long ago.  How lucky is that?  Two bandit jobs in one town!  It looks like my personal vendetta is off to a good start.  I decide to take care of the shopkeepers request first, as it's near town and kind of on my way to Whiterun.  The shopkeeper's sister shows me the way out of town up to a bridge, and wishes me luck as I head out.

I make my way up the winding path to a small stone tower, I notice somone leaning against a tree outside.  I immidiately recognize him as a bandit I'd dealt with in the past, usually a hired muscle kind of guy.  Norde like him almost alway pull guard duty, or intimidation missions, just because of their size.  Much like the Orc that took two arrows back at the mines, not somebody I want to trifle with up close.  One carefully placed arrow to the middle of the chest takes care of him, but worries the archer that was hidden in the tower.  He comes running out, bow drawn, looking for where that might have come from.  I pop off two arrows to his back and he's out of my way.  Running quickly to the towers entrace I drop to a stealthier stance as I climb the tower.  I find the man in charge of this group at the top - all in heavy armor, waiting for me with mace and shield at the ready.  I shoot an arrow to his chest and pierce the iron breastplate enough to stagger him, but he's still coming at me.  Quickly I drop the bow and pull out my daggers, side-stepping one, then two, then three swings until I see the chance to strike.  A blade just under the back of his helm takes care of this problem.  With them out of the way it's time to continue up the mountain side.

At the top I find my destination, Bleakfalls Barrow.  Haunted by some accounts, bandit-infested by others.  Either way, I'm going in.  I see an archer perched on a ledge, easy target behind no cover.  Adjust for wind and the arrow finds it's mark, and he falls over the side.  I move up the stairs quietly, paying close attention to a Nord with a greatsword strapped to his back.  As soon as his back is turned I come out and let lose two arrows to his back, one high and one low.  Running quickly up to take the last bandit by surprise I draw my daggers and let go a barrage of stabs and slashes.  He never knew what happened.  I can only hope the rest of the Barrow will be this simple...bandits must be of a lower breed in Skyrim than I'm used to back home.

Inside there's a few bandits already dead and several dead skeevers.  I doubt the rats killed all the bandits, so I imagine there was a bit of a power struggle.  I pass up all the corpses and see an Orc and an Imperial talking around a fire about some elf named Alvor.  I'm guessing he's in charge, and he apparently has the claw.  I shoot an arrow in the Imperial's chest and make my way around the room, sticking to the shadows.  The Orc never saw me slip behind him as I shoved my dagger into his back!  I looted all the chests and dead bodies before moving forward.  I've never been in a Nordic ruin before, so I took it slow as I wandered the corridors.  There's no telling what to expect in creepy places like that.

I made my way down a little and came upon a Breton in a room with a closed gate on the other side.  I was curious about what was going on so I stooped off in a dark corner just beyond the doorway between he and I, he had has back to me.  He pulled some lever in the middle ofthe room and was bombarbed by poison darts.  Obviously the rather obvious lever didn't do what he thought it would!  As I entered the room I began searching the walls for another way to open the gate.  I inspected the gate, went up to the balcony above and looked around there.  Nothing ... well, nothing excpet the odd stones on the wall behind me now.  I look and see some pedistals on the ground against a wall with similar emblems as the wall stones.  They don't match, though, and there's one missing - it must be what's on the lower level in some rubbel.  I inspected the pedestals in the wall below next, they seem to turn if I force them.  Old stone mechanics, they take a little force the first time to knock away the dust and debree.  Aligning them to match the stones above I feel hopeful that this will get me further.  I held my breath, pulled the level and jumped back!  Nothing shot at me, but the gate did open...good, I'm free of this section now!

I see a small chest in the next room, nothing important, there's a book with some good tips on picking pockets on a table nearby, and an old spiral stairway where I encounter a few large Skeevers.  I make short work of them with my daggers and keep moving - picking up a scroll of fireball and a parlytic poison along the way.  You just never know when some things might come in handy.  As I creep around corners taking rights and lefts and rights again all very slowly, I notice a large section of webbing.  After the fairly large spiders under Helgen, I'm little more weary of things like this.  I rifle a skeleton in a colvert and notice a chest under some heavy webs, so I slice it away and take a gem and some junk out of the chest.  I hear some Dark Elf screaming for help, calling out to his bandit companions that I've already killed.  Following the sound of his voice I see more heavy webbing covering a doorway.  Again, I'm not superstitious by nature...but this just seems like a bad omen.  Maybe omen itsn't the right word...perhaps it's just an obviously bad idea!  Like a fool, I slashed away the webbing here, but before I endered the room I took a moment to coat my blade with the paralytic poison I found on the way down.  As soon as I enter the room - covered in webs on all sides and the floor and the roof - a giant spider drops down.  Bigger than any spider I've seen, even at Helgen.  Bigger than any Orc I've ever faced, the only thing I've seen bigger than this spider is that dragon that saved my scales!  Alvor is trapped in webs on the other side of the room, the only thing standing between me and him is the spider...the giant, hairy, eye-covered, poison spitting, Argonian eating spider.  No big deal...nothing to it! 

Thinking quickly I take out the fireball scroll and use it, staggering the spider.  I quickly move in and stab it in the side with the poisoned blade.  I unleash a flurry of stab and slashes on it.  It turns around and bites at me once, I dodge a second chomp, only to be bitten by the third attempt as well.  I step back out of a fourth attempt to bite at me and jump forward in its realing back to plunge my dagger into the top of it's head!  Alvor is left whimpering and crying for me to loose him from the webbed binds he's stuck in.  I look at him and yell for him to shut up and give me a moment ... sniffling little elf, scared of a dead spider.  He should be scared of me, not of the lump of hairy spider on the ground!  I take a moment to recover and drink a healing salve before going to talk to Alvor. 

I ask about this Golden Claw the shopkeep had stolen.  He promises me there's power hidden here and the claw is required to access it.  So I let him loose and he turns tale and runs off!  "That little worm!"  I chase after him through a hallway, a ritual chamber of some sort, then down another hallway.  He makes it into some burial chamber...where the dead come to life and start attacking him!  I couldn't believe my eyes!  I quickly backed up and took shelter in a dark corner...I have no idea what's going on.  I had worked with Nords who swore that their dead protected themselves, something called Drawger or told me the right of it once.  Draugr, I think he said it's spelled.  Either way, nasty business.  Not something I want to be caught up in.  I'll let Alvor deal with them for the time being, see what comes of it.

Three of them rise from their resting places and attack him, he's surrounded and didn't stand a chance!  Alvor laid there as lifeless as they were supposed to be...I had to deal with these things somehow.  Guess I better be quick with my bow...

If you enjoyed this, you can find links to each of my blog series on this forum thread.