Skyrim Day 095 – Regaining the Rift

From Traversing Tamriel

27 Sun’s Dusk, 4E201

After having been given the toothless title of ‘Praefect’ in the Imperial Legion I was told to walk nearly the length of Skyrim to an Imperial camp south of Ivarstead from Solitude. There was no possible way for me to walk from Solitude to Ivarstead in less than a day, so I simply walked out of Castle Dour and proceeded to Ivarstead without pause or rest as the sun began to sink.

The inquisitive fauna of Skyrim become a great deal more inquisitive after the sun sets, forcing me to slay four bears, two sabre-cats, two giant spiders, and half a dozen wolves while on the road. The Dragons once again proved more elusive. Fortunately the constant threats to my life kept me awake and alert throughout the night and the sun rose to greet me as I arrived at Ivarstead early on 26 Sun’s Dusk.

I walked through, needing nothing from the sleepy little town, and left the road for the forest at the crossroads leading to Whiterun and Riften. The Imperial camp lay directly south of the town, close to a Dwemer ruin of little note. I found the Legate poring over her maps, as usual, no doubt contemplating how to single-handedly end the war herself…which it feels I am doing anyway.

My orders were brief: Go to Riften, my second-least favorite city in Skyrim. Once in Riften I was to seek out the Jarl’s steward, Anuriel, whose “arrangement” with the local Thieves Guild has been made known to the Legion. I was to find evidence of this arrangement and use it to blackmail the steward in advantage to the Legion.

To be fair, this was the first task I have received from the Legion that almost seems suited for my skills. I cannot see the average Legionnaire employing something akin subterfuge, least of all successfully.

So as the camp settled into breakfast I left to rejoin the cobblestone road to Riften after walking all the way from Solitude very much aware that I would be walking from Riften to the camp at some point and eventually from the camp back to Solitude. Little wonder this civil war has been dragging on for so long.

My jaunt to Riften occupied much of the morning so I encountered less in the way of hostile creatures, though I was accosted by a self-proclaimed “Fire Grandmaster” who fell quickly to a dagger in the kidney. Less anyone who ever might read this think me a highwayman myself, the mage had a desiccated heart in his pack that certainly belonged to no animal.

Late morning saw the road shrouded in the cold fog of Skyrim I have grown to detest, but considering my destination and purpose I suppose it is only fitting.

I spoke with the young son of the Jarl, a man named Saerlund, who groused to a Khajiit he had never met before that he was a prisoner of his own family. According to him he is the only one in his family with pro-Imperial views to the point that his mother, Jarl Laila Law-Giver, believes him to be magically cursed. Much of the court mage’s time has been spent either trying to find the curse or pretending to be working on it, or so Saerlund says. What a confusing mess.

But my purpose at Riften was not to heal family ties. No one seemed to notice or care that a Khajiit had wandered into the palace, so I slipped behind a pillar, swallowed an Invisibility draught, and walked into the Jarl’s family’s quarters where I suspected the steward’s would also be.

On a hunch I guessed the steward would be on the ground floor, the family above, and I was correct. To my amusement the evidence I needed was hiding in plain sight: a letter written in Black-Briar Meadery’s letterhead thanked Anuriel for her value in their “operation” and hoped the garment which accompanied the letter met to the steward’s satisfaction.

As I said: it is foolish to expect subtlety in this land. A Khajiit would have used a competitor’s paper, not their own!

I sneaked back into the hall and quietly approached Anuriel. She was oblivious to my presence until I slipped the note into her hand and suggested we talk about her business arrangements. She was not quite as stupid as her co-conspirators and whispered that I should follow her before turning around and starting back to her room.

On my way I overhead one of the guards tell another guard that a Dragon had claimed another town, the village of Kynesgrove, but I could not stay long enough to learn when. I will have to make time to visit the area.

Anuriel closed the door behind me as I entered, then turned around hissing that an attempt at extortion would only lead me to an executioner’s block. I placated her, saying that I came not in my own interests, but a larger power. She understood what I meant and professed no love for the Stormcloaks nor the Empire, pointing out that her arrangements with the local guild brought benefit to the Jarl and to Riften, though this could never be admitted.

She suggested a token of goodwill on her part in the form of a shipment of coins and arms the Stormcloaks were scheduled to move to Windhelm in the next day or so. I felt this was a reasonable offer and agreed to leave her in peace in exchange for the shipment. I expected to be told where to find it, but she provided written orders acquired from a Stormcloak showing the route and inventory of the wagon. Reasonable indeed.

With the orders in my pack my work in Riften was mercifully complete in a short amount of time. The weather, alas, had not changed.

My repeated trips along Lake Honrich seems to have thinned the wildlife a bit for the only delay I encountered en-route to the Imperial camp was a foolish Argonian bandit who thought my leather armor signified me as an easy mark and a bloodthirsty Nord in glass armor wielding a poorly maintained two-handed battle-ax.

I made good time back to the camp, arriving just as the soldiers were having their dinner. The Legate was not eating, as this would require she pause from the constant contemplation of her map.

She was pleased to hear of the shipment, having posted soldiers along the roads and known paths to Windhelm from beyond the province in suspicion of this thing. However, her command was broader than it was deep and she had too few soldiers to assault a guarded caravan without recalling the soldiers posted along other routes. There was no time for this, so I was ordered to proceed to the road between Riften and Windhelm in the hope that I would meet up with the scouts at Shor’s Watchtower, just north of the village of Shor’s Stone.

So again I was off to Riften!

This time though I skipped entering the town and instead walked around the walls to the northern road. I thought to pass through Fort Greenwall, but when I arrived in the evening I encountered a large patrol of Stormcloaks entering the fort they evidently claimed since I had last visited. Approaching the gates resulted in drawn weapons and threats, so rather than pointlessly slay them I elected to take a smaller foot-trail around the road, making the garrison a bit useless.

The scouts posted between Riften and Windhelm were led by my comrade-in-flames, Hadvar. Upon spying me coming down the road greeted me by asking if it was my mother or father who was the Dragon, a joke I am sure will never get old.

He was pleased to see me, admitting that he was a bit nervous as this was his first command following a promotion after the battle at Whiterun. I was surprised, for his “command” was three other men, unless he was also coordinating scouts along other roads.

Apparently news of my coming had not preceded me and he asked what brought me to him. He laughed when I told him I was tracking a wagon of Stormcloak supplies, for he had been doing the same with a wagon guarded by several rebel soldiers. Hadvar was pleased to hear the wagon contained valuables, the capture of which would do very well for his career.

Fortunately for Hadvar and his career the wagon had broken a wheel earlier in the day and Hadvar had been preparing to ambush it before I arrived. This was now still the plan, but with the addition of myself. The plan was simple: I was to take out the posted sentry, Hadvar and his men would creep up a small bluff overlooking the wagon, then I was to attack along the road, distracting the Stormcloaks from the Imperial arrows that would rain down upon them.

The plan went well. I eliminated the sentry with my dagger and charged into the camp, killing one surprised Stormcloak with my ax before the rest could rally against me. A few moments later arrows sped from the former sentry’s position, thudding into armor and bodies.

Hadvar was extremely pleased at this bloodless (for his side) victory and asked that I return to the Legate with news of the successful capture. He and his men would stay with the supplies until reinforcements could be brought up with a new wagon.

By then it was close to midnight, another night of no sleep at all for me. I suffered the walk back to the Legate, again, and was ambushed by a Dark Brotherhood assassin, again. I met the Legate in her tent and reported Hadvar’s success at which point she ordered me to meet more soldiers near Fort Greenwall where I had just been, twice, to take part in an Imperial assault.

I am going to have a nap first.

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