Our journey took us through a winding path, a road of some sort that led to Ralof’s home of Riverwood. We had to tackle a small pack of wolves and I was able to make swift work of those beasts before my companion could draw his axes. Thanks in part to my stolen, or should I say...liberated Imperial sword...I will not wear the armour of those dogs for as long as I live now. After I had taken the pelts of the wolves to sell, since Ralof assured me that was a good way to earn some gold here...we walked towards Riverwood and I marvelled at how different Skyrim is to my homeland.
Here the air is colder, colder than frost troll’s breath. The mountains are magnificent and cast a huge shadow across the landscape, rimmed with ice as it is. Riverwood is a small settlement situated across a large river, where I was able to see salmon leaping against the current and watch a few rabbits make their way cautiously from the bushes to run across the road in front of us. Nord architecture is functional and impressively so; even though this is a small place...it still looked somewhat grand to me who has recently only seen a cart and a chopping block.
I heard a sound that reminded me of childhood, smithing...the sound of hammer and anvil. I always had an affinity for steel and shaping metal, so I hoped perhaps I might be able to take a turn on the forge here...if Ralof perhaps introduced me to the community and I found a place to stay for a while. He urged me on and we walked past people who stopped and stared for a moment before they carried on with what they had to do.
Ralof led us to his sister, Gerda, who was working at the nearby mill. I was impressed at the size of the mill itself and saw that the place was aptly named. There was plenty of forest to keep the giant saw moving and whilst it was only guarded by a small wooden wall in places, it was mercifully quiet. After a family reunion of sorts I was introduced to Gerda and Hod, Hod runs the local mill and both were quite happy to see me, not so much Ralof since he has deep ties to the Stormcloak’s and Jarl Ulfric. Yet when I received thanks for my part in saving Ralof I felt a twinge of like for these people...I was given a key to their home and told I could stay as long as I wanted.
I needed better equipment however and a source of income. I was able to speak to the woman further, she told me about Whiterun and that I should seek the Jarl there to inform him of the dragon attack. Again, I argued in my head that I needed more resources and equipment even before I left this place. I was able to secure some small source of income for prolonged wood chopping sessions at the mill for a good few days. I also made friends of a sort with Alvor, the local smith. He finally let me use the forge and I was able to at least turn my hand to something useful between wood chopping and smithing.
I am also able to sell goods at the Riverwood Trader. Though I do not yet involve myself in their problems, I am but a customer and it would be forwards of me to ask what troubles them both. I do not even care for their names at the moment, so focussed am I upon my immediate need to improve my lot in this settlement. Yet they are useful people to know and slowly over the next week I begin to amass a small sum of monies and a slight reputation as a hard working soul.
I even discovered a talent for alchemy that I did not know I had, thanks to the Riverwood Inn or whatever the place is called. Again, this place may not become a home to me so I do not really bother to learn the proper place names for any of the buildings. That may well change over time as I become more accustomed to the people and life in Skyrim. A few more days pass and I discover it is called the Sleeping Giant, how...Nord...from inside I discover there is an undercurrent between two men in the settlement, fighting over a woman no less.
The woman is the sister of the man who owns the Riverwood Trader and she seems to be a nice enough person. I have no attraction for her myself; she is a little too nice for me. I desire someone far wilder and more dangerous...someone who could survive a land like this. I think of dabbling in their squabble and then I make my choice, I tell her that the elf plans to ruin the Skald’s reputation...it upsets him greatly but earns me a friend in both the woman and her suitor.
I put this behind me regardless, it now grows dark again and tomorrow I plan to explore some local mountains and ground above Riverwood. I hear tell that there might be a mine nearby or at least a small camp of some sorts. Mines mean ore and I need that for my smithing, so it makes sense to take my newly acquired pick axe and seek this possible new source of materials for myself. It gives me something to sleep on, so I do just that...dropping into a dreamless slumber where the cold wind is no more and there is no shadow of the Empire hanging over my head.
The morning finds me moving through unfamiliar ground and gaining height as I make my way up a track, I know something is nearby, I can see the smoke of a small camp and I begin to ascend towards it. I should have known that it would not be easy, since I am greeted by a pair of bandits who guard their fire jealously. I was willing to turn and walk away from them but they sealed their fate, an arrow to my knee. This unprovoked attack made them enemies of mine and they needed to be taught a lesson.
The warrior came at me first and I easily avoided his clumsy blow, whilst my newly smithed sword sang through the air, frost rimmed in the early morning light and slammed into him buckling his armour in places. His companion attempted to stick me with more arrows, but he was a lousy shot. Now I saw an opening in the other man’s defences and I took it, my two-handed sword broke through his armour and slammed the air from his lungs as he buckled against the massive blade. I heard his sternum crack and his spine give way as the sword poked through his back. He fell from the weapon, lifeless and I looted his corpse before I advanced upon his now terrified companion.
He tried a few more shots and one glanced off my chest plate, I smashed him down with an overhead strike and he lay lifeless in a pool of his own blood.
Their camp proved to be a useful source of goods. I ransacked it and stole everything that I could find that wasn’t nailed down. This land had begun to turn me into a bit of a thief; I even knew how to pick some simple locks now. Yet magic seemed to elude me for a while, I could feel that the power sang at my fingers but I dare not summon it. I was a warrior born, not some hybrid mage child of the blade. Or at least that is how I saw it from my blinkered point of view.
I made my way back down the mountain and sold the hapless bandits goods in the Riverwood Trader. There would be some fireside tales by the hearth tonight in the Sleeping Giant Inn, so I stocked up on mead for a few of the patrons and went back to the forge. I needed to hone my art far more than I had done in the past few days and the money I made from the bandits’ goods would be more than enough to buy some materials. The mine could wait...I had smithing to do.