In this series I attempt to live life in Skyrim like an NPC - I have to eat, drink, and make money and I’m not allowed to go on adventures, murder or steal. My one objective is to eke out a living in the hostile world, and hopefully settle down with a house and wife. So far I've fought boredom, wolves, dragons and worn fancy outfits. What else lies ahead?
Fredas, 29th of Last Seed
Morthal is pretty damn boring. It doesn’t take me long to discover that the town is the least-visited in Skyrim for a reason: there’s literally nothing there. A cluster of buildings surrounding a bog doesn’t exactly provide much change of riches for Flod, who is relying on being able to flog his horde of iron daggers in as profitable (and safe) a place as possible.
With my trusty dog Meeko I traipse around the town trying to find just one forge and have absolutely no luck. Once again poor Flod is going to have to leave a city as soon as he gets there, without so much as a chance of getting someone to marry him. In order to even start the nuptial preparations I have to walk to Riften, the dirty planky city in the south-east corner of Skyrim. That’s a huge journey for Flod, but one he’ll have to undertake if he wants the amulet of Mara that tells the women and men of Skyrim that he’s single and ready to mingle (if you have a house and a business, anyway).
Already planning what enterprising young Nord he’ll marry, Flod makes his way out of the gates of Morthal, Meeko in tow, continuing his incessant barking. Some ways down the snow-covered road I come across a small mining community. Flod is drawn to the prospect of ore like a moth to a flame and so I head there immediately. Named Rockhollow, the mine is owned by Sorli and Pacter, a couple who own a small hut nearby. As Flod gets busy cutting wood (what else?) they chuck some exposition at him about how they’re worried that the Imperial Legion won’t guard the mine any more.
[That has been one thing about this whole adventure with Flod that has surprised me. I have more than 300 hours in Skyrim and have completed it a few times with different playstyles, yet I’m finding so many undiscovered niches of the continent as Flod. Having to walk everywhere means that each detail the developers put into the game can be explored in depth. It’s really given me a newfound respect for Skyrim and the team behind it.]
Flod spends the rest of the afternoon and evening mining for precious iron ore before bedding down for the night. It seems that only he and I can tolerate the barking of Meeko, who blindly follows Flod everywhere he goes. Multiple times an NPC will walk up to the shaggy mutt, look down in the janky way that only Bethesda NPCs can and mutter “Stupid dog”.
Loredas, 30th of Last Seed
Early the next morning I decide to head back out to the open road. Only a short few steps down that very same road, however, I come across a crashed horse and cart. Well, the horse isn’t so much crashed as it is horribly mauled. From the depths of the cart fly three VERY heavily armed barbarians. Their steel armour glints and their warhammers swoosh through the air just a little bit too close to Flod’s face.
While I’m busy shrieking like a panicked child Meeko throws himself into the fray. Shamed into action after watching multiple hammer blows bounce off the hide of my faithful companion I notch and loose a few arrows before piling into the fight with axe and sword. After a few frantic moments of spinning, jumping and clicking the first two bandits lie dead. Their last surviving companion is duelling Meeko, teeth-to-massive-bloody-hammer.
It’s then that with a pitiful yelp Meeko slumps to the ground, gravely wounded. If your companions take another heavy hit in this stage they’re finished. I’m a good ten paces from Meeko and I can see that killer hammer blow falling to paste my canine companion into a mangled scruffy ragdoll. The arrow is notched and loosed as the hammer falls. Everything moves in terrible slow motion as the arrow flies from my bow. It misses.
Mercifully so does the barbarian, who, in a glorious display of Skyrim’s AI programming, slams the hammer into a tree stump instead. Before he can recover I rush over and plunge my axe into his back. With the final barbarian dead I take stock – that’s quite a lot of armour to sell! Meeko gets up with a whine and is almost instantaneously back to his barking self, despite taking more hammer blows to the face than is probably good for his health.
Further on down the road I come across a sign that gives me a nasty shock. I had been blindly following the roads of Skyrim and my own compass, trying to get myself south but had evidently become turned around, as Dawnstar is only a short walk away. Cursing my luck and wondering what kind of eldritch horror I would visit upon the poor town this time I decide to nip in.
Dawnstar is pretty empty since it was attacked by both a dragon and an irate frost troll. I visit my old workplaces and dig up some iron, smelt it into more daggers and quickly sell up any junk I’m carrying. With a new set of bracers and a new bow I strike out South again, putting Dawnstar and its curse behind me once more. This time I stick to the roads that are definitely going south.
Sundas, 31st of Last Seed
After walking through the night (and reminding myself to sleep extra to make up for it) I’m finally into what looks like Skyrim’s warmer southern region. The trees are no longer covered in snow and are now showing green and brown in the morning’s sun. It seems that the south is no less dangerous than the north, though, as I’m attacked by a gang of spiders.
While trying to deal with the pesky arachnids a Dark Elf flies past me, daggers spinning. She obliterates the spiders in short time, cutting them to ribbons. Just as I’m preparing to get on one knee to propose, she turns around and tries to rob me. Questioning her priorities I stick the Dunmer with a few iron arrows and watch Meeko bite her ankles to death.
Later I spot the towering wooden hall of Whiterun ahead of me. Finally, a new town to sell my copious iron daggers to! Before I can get there, though, I pass a guard station and to my horror, discover that it’s under attack by bandits.
This time I have the upper hand: the bandits are facing away from me, giving Flod plenty of time to kill two with well-aimed bow shots. Wanting to ingratiate myself with my new townspeople, I send Flod charging into the fray, axe and shortsword swinging. Another bandit falls beneath Flod’s furious eyes-closed attacks but, as our hero winds up for another shot, a Whiterun guard steps between him and his target.
Too late: I attempt to spin Flod out of the way. The woodcutter’s axe falls and with a crunch embeds itself in the guard’s skull. He crumples to the floor and I’m filled with a sense of overwhelming guilt and panic. The other guards, having finished off the rest of the bandits, descend on Flod and attempt to arrest him.
Luckily Flod’s burgeoning iron dagger business has led to him accruing a decent amount of gold. The bounty is quite small for bloodgold, and with that amount paid the guards decide that fair is fair and go back to their duties – leaving their dead comrade bleeding at the steps of the guard house. In the awkward silence that follows only Meeko’s annoying barking can be heard as he chases a barbarian in the distance. I decided to steal the dead man’s bedroll and head to the city in the morning, where hopefully Flod won’t commit any more accidental murders.