The following is a true account from my first character in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Chapter 1: Arrival
I stepped out of the carriage, and beheld the city: Markarth. It had been a long journey from our home in Whiterun, but my wife Uthgerd and I were well on our way to ridding the world of one more vampire. We heard word of a vampire lair to the North, and decided Skyrim would be better off with one less bloodsucker lurking in the shadows. According to the last time I checked the map, his cave was just outside town. We paid a fair amount of coin to get us here, simply so we could be within walking distance of it. In a stable nearby was a small but fierce dog, whom his owner informed me was named Vigilance. Unable to turn down another companion on my quest, I handed over 500 Septims. The three of us were ready to go, but not before buying some supplies. I decided to head into town to procure some potent potions for the short trip to the lair. It wasn't until much later that I realised that it would be the worst mistake I would ever make in my life.
Upon first entering Markarth, I was greeted by the sight of a woman being murdered in broad daylight. My sense of heroism rushed to the surface, and I quickly leapt to the scene to investigate. The guards seemed fairly apathetic to the crime, as if they had grown used to it. In fact, everyone seemed right pissed that I was even bothering to help make a difference. The only man who seemed to care dropped a note into my pocket, asking me to meet him at the Shrine of Talos. I had barely stepped foot into the city gates and already I was sucked into a conspiracy.
Chapter 2: A Den of Depravity
I wandered the city a bit before stumbling upon a man in need of assistance. Telling my wife and dog to wait outside, I decided I have time for a diversion from my diversion, and rushed on into the house supposedly used for Deadra worship. The shit hit the fan rather fast, and as we deleved deeper into the dark depths of depravity that was this poorly decorated and drab dwarven home, I felt an increasing sense of dread.
An ominous voice could be heard speaking to us, taunting us. Before long, the random stranger I had just met tried to kill me after the voices in our head told him too. I smote him quickly with my axe and dredged onward. At last my reward lay before me...a rusted mace. Before I could even grab it however, I was trapped and greeted by none other than Molag Bal, Deadric Lord of Domination. He began to spew some nonesense about veangence and quests, but I just wanted to be out of this retchid place. I pleaded to be set free, and surpisingly, he agreed. Thus I left the house unopposed and never looked back.
Chapter 3: Mystery, Murder, and Mead
As the sun fell low in the sky, I rounded a corner into a dark alley, with a conspicous entrance to a hidden shrine to Talos. Considering all the times he has healed me in the past, I figured I kind of owed him. I spoke with the Nord who handed the note, Eltrys. He asked me to investigate a mystery involving the Forsworn, who allegedly killed the girl Margret whose murder I witnessed. Sullenly he told me of his father's death at their hands. This had just become personal...for someone else. I reluctantly agreed, unable to turn down an adventure. And so I set off on my next grand adventure in Markarth....
The first stop in my investigation was to visit Margret's hotel room. Using the "evidence" (i.e. the key I looted from her corpse), I gained entry to her lodging. Inside I found a journal detailing findings on one Thonar Silver-Blood, an emminent man in Markarth. With some new information in hand, I made my way to The Warrens in search of more clues. Not before stopping to buy a bottle of Nord Mead, of course.
When my silver tongue failed to impress, I realised my only real option was to simply bribe the man named Garvey into handing over the key I so desperately needed. It unlocked the door where Weylin, the murderer, was sleeping. With key in hand (and coin out) I crept towards his room. There I uncovered a note revealing his informant to be a man named 'N'. Not much to go on, but surely there aren't a lot of people named N right?
Just as the plot was begining to thicken, a Forsworn mercenary halted me. He told me that I had been too "nosy" and that I had to stop. Being men, we decided to fight about it. I insisted my wife stay out of it, knowing her skill at brawling. I beat him handily, not at all because I had a healing spell in my other hand. Of course, I did meet my future wife in a drunken bar brawl, so it comes to no surprise that I emerged victorious. He yielded and revealed the identity of the enigmatic "N". His name was Nepos the Nose, and he was about to become my new worst enemy.
Before I could take on Nepos, I first needed to have a word with one last lead: Thonar. The three of us walked into the Treasury House, and I demanded an audience. When words fail, coin succeeds. This is something I ought to know by now, but I always try to persuade people before the coin makes them speak. The woman at the front counter responded well to my "payment", and informed me that he was on the door to the left. In hindsight, I think I should just explore an area fully before bribing people.
I entered Thonar's room to find him sitting comfortably eating fine foods whilst the lives of others collapsed around him. I tried to press him for information, but we were cut short by the screams.
Chapter 4: Forsworn and Forsaken
The sounds of bloodshed and chaos rang out from the next room over. I kicked out the door, battleaxe in hand. By the time I entered the room they had already cut down Thonar's wife. My wife however, was still fighting them: The Forsworn. I'll spare you the history and get to the good part: Back to back, Uthgerd and I smote them all, one decaptiation at a time. But we had the misfortune of dealing with mages. Poor Thonar had to watch whilst I sliced through his wife's reanimated corpse. Almost made me feel bad for the guy. With the enemies dealth with, we had to deal with Nepos now. This had gotten out of hand, and more people were dying. More importantly, that vampire was still lurking just outside the walls of Markarth. I had to work fast. This was going to end soon.
After a quick rendevouz at the shrine, we split up. I decided it was best that I take down Nepos myself. How powerful could one old man be? The answer was not pleasant. I found a quaint old man reading in front of the fireplace. His nose was long and slender, his clothes regal. I found our calm dialouge off-putting, more so when he told me I was probably going to die there. But I wasn't alone. I had my axe. I sidestepped his fireball and drove the edge of my axe into his bald skull. I felt a slash at my back, but that didn't stop me. I let out a fiece piercing Battle Cry, scattering them like lambs to the slaughter. I eviscerated them one by one, ending the mad game I had begun. I left with a feeling of triumph and satisfaction and marched back to the Shrine of Talos.
It was not a pleasent sight. Eltrys lay there in a pool of his own blood...with a trio of guards standing over him. They explained that I was making things difficult for them, and that the trail of murders now led to me. I was being framed for all the murders commited by the Forsworn, when in reality, I only commited most of them. This went all the way to the top. But I couldn't fight them. Begrudgingly I surrendered, swearing an oath of veangence. Of course, where I was going, it was likely I would never see the sun.
Chapter 5: The Depths of Darkness
The guard pushed me in the gate and gave me the rundown on the rest of life. I was to mine rock for the rest of my life, and if I was lucky, I could eat once a week. She sent me on my way, but not before I mouthed her off. I proceeded down to the fireplace, listening to the sad stories of the damned. But there was more at stake. That vampire was taking victims...feeding. I had to end his life. First and foremost, I had to get out of that hole. When in doubt, talk to the scary Orc.
The prisoner Uraccen pointed me to Grisvar the Unlucky, who could help me procure a Shiv. In order to get my hands on it, I had to get my hands on some Skooma. The entire time I was beating that guard near to death, I kept reminding myself it was for the greater good. With the transaction complete and Skooma in hand, I approached Borkul the Beast.
Trading my only weapon wasn't my first idea of how to get ahead, but it was the only way I was getting to Madanach, the Forsworn's leader. We spoke at length, and the Breton shared with me his beliefs and justifications for the all the murders. I had little choice. To prove my fidelity to him, I had to murder Grisvar....
I walked towards Grisvar, shiv at the ready. He was quickly cut down in cold blood. His unlucky streak at come to an end. Madanach had rallied the prisoners, all ready to rush the escape tunnel to freedom.
Chapter 6: Emancipation
The Markarth Ruins were treacherous, and without my axe, I was practically defenceless. I followed closely behind the others wary of the murderous mechanisms left behind by the Dwemer. Clad in Forsworn armour, we wiped out all opposition in our path. I sprinted to the exit, thinking of the vampire, my dog, and my wife on the other side. I reclaimed by possessions and made for the exit. Light shone before us, and we were almost free.
Standing beween us and freedom was a contingent of guards led by none other than Thonar himself. After a short banter, fighting broke out. An uprising all over Markarth had been initiated, and I was the source. There was no time to think about that now. Running was all there was to do. I looked back to see Thonar swept up in one swift swath. Can't say I feel bad for they guy. Amidst the chaos, I rushed to the heart of the city, in desperate search of my companions. I found Uthgerd fighting off a Forsworn, before he was hacked in the back by my battleaxe. Both the guards and the forsworn were tearing the city apart, with me in the middle. A bark rang out in the distance, It was Vigilance! I ran to him at full speed, cutting down the two Forsworn trying to put him down. There was but one loose end: Madanach.
Chapter 7: Revelations
Sprinting towards him, I leapt and sank my axe into his flesh. He recoiled, striking a blow at me. With careful presicion, my axe staggered him, allowing me time for a finishing blow. Bloodied, I stood over the manipulating monster who caused all of this. Though the fighting continued, I was free at last to leave this acursed city.
The three of us made a break for the gate, avoiding any guards who would arrest us. I was leaving much behind in Markarth. I left behind a unimaginable horrors, men I nearly beat to death, near-death experiences, epic battles to the death, corruption, a man I murdered with a shiv, an uprising I started, innocent lives, and all of my money. I just hope it was all worth it.
Stopping at a river to rest, I laid out my map. "We still have to kill Morvath," I declared. "Now where is that lair?" I eyed the map in dismay, unable to find it. I stood perplexed, unsure of its location. My eyes gazed upward, peering at the marked location...just outside the small town of Morthal.
I am never going to Markarth ever again.