Having begun our Skyrim adventure by promising to play this series in a more aggressive style, Waaarg starts his career as a bezerker Orc by meekly agreeing to his own execution. Way to go down swinging!
Luckily, I’m saved from my unjust punishment for charges nobody can agree upon by a big scary dragon. Everyone freaks out – apparently it’s not a common occurance – and this distracts my captors into shooting arrows directly into his nostrils.
Hadvar, the head honcho of the guards and man that wanted to lop my head off, yells something along the lines of ‘Stay with me if you want to live!’. Eventually we both run into a fellow prisoner who was also about to be executed – the two agree not to fight while all this dragon business is going on, but I’m forced to pick which guy I’m going to buddy up with. I weigh up the options and choose the guy who wasn’t trying to decapitate me five minutes ago.
But I don’t rush to enter the catacombs just yet. You see, I know something these chumps don’t…
… I’m invincible.
Yup. All this – everything going on around us – is just carefully scripted chaos and I’m not in danger of being hurt. None of the NPCs are attacking me, and the dragon is programmed to just knock the NPCs around and look ferocious.
So, I use this opportunity to marvel at the amazing graphics and take some decent screenshots. I also admire the ragdoll physics as soldiers are blasted off the castle walls, and the bloom lighting is so immersive I can almost feel the heat of the dragon’s flames as they lick around my feet.
The texture effects are also incredible, and I take some time to appreciate them as my body suddenly bursts into flame:
Goodness! That’s one carefully-scripted fire.
Since it seems I was entirely wrong about being risk-free in the opening cut scene, I dart into the tower with Ralof the Nord. Yes, yes; I know I said I was going to be more confrontational in this play through, but I’m not about to start head-butting dragons into submission for no good reason.
I do, however, clobber some Imperials who attack us once we’re inside the tower and don’t feel guilty about taking their weapons and armour since they seem to have called off the truce. Fighting as an orc feels great; a single, hefty blow is all it takes to put one soldier on the ground and I even stun another one into submission just by blocking a blow with my shield (defence being the best offence, it seems).
I like this a lot. Gone is the old me who’d be quick to hide under a table or even pretend to be a table whenever conflict looks likely; I’m practically in a blood rage, so much so that when my companion Nord suggests we sneak past a grizzly bear in the caves under Helgen Keep, I decide to make friends with it:
The bear, somewhat startled to find an arrow lodged in its butt, barrels over to us at an alarming speed. I hold my ground and it appears to recognise my status as a total and utter bad ass because it gets within three feet of me, squares up, then thinks better of it and goes after Ralof instead who has already run to the other side of the cave. I don’t really help him out as he’s being mauled, but I do let loose with a few arrows just to register my support. Two of them are miles off target and one hits Ralof in the head.
We finally make it out of Helgen without either of us being killed by wildlife or my terrible aim. Naturally, I do consider murdering him as he turns his back to go our separate ways, but he’s actually quite a nice guy and even suggests we stick together for a little while longer until we make it to Riverwood where his sister would be happy to give me food and shelter.
Alas, following him to Riverwood means that I’ll be embarking on the main quest, and I’m not sure if I want to do that in this series. Plus, I’m not willing to invest the effort of walking all the way there just to find out whether or not his sister is a hottie.
Given her name is ‘Gerdur’, I’m going to go right ahead and assume she’s fugly*.
Ralof wishes me well and thanks me for the help, leaving me with the question of what do I actually want to do with my time in Skyrim. I guess if I don’t want to travel East and start the main quest, the antithesis of that would be to travel West and not start the main quest. The nearest main settlement is Falkreath, the walk is scenic and the weather is nice.
Predictably, I only get two minutes into my pleasurable stroll before being snarled at by a Level 3 Angry Lesbian Nord.
Such a beautiful day! And what a gorgeous country route. I stop to have a picnic using the apples and cheese I took from the woman I just slayed and left naked back there. Besides a few incidents with an unhappy group of bandits and the odd wolf, the day’s walking goes seamlessly enough and I arrive at the limits of Falkreath just before nightfall.
Tune in next week as this solitary goat becomes my undoing:
* I looked up Gerdur after playing, and it turns out she is actually quite easy on the eye. What’s more, according to the Skyrim Wiki her ‘bed and cooking spit are free to use‘. Blimey!