WARNING: SKYRIM SPOILERS (pre-thane)
Author's Note: I did reload once this day. It wasn't my character's fault he died. I had a brain fart and kept running him into walls, under ramps, and generally had the worst mouse control ever. I mean, how hard is it to run across room, up a ramp, turn left, cross a bridge, and run like a mad man? Well, apparently I got turned around (being in first person view), ran into a wall next to ramp, fell off ramp, ran under ramp, back into another wall. Yeah. It was bad. Drank some coffee, reloaded and ran through perfectly the second time.
Woke up early and followed the soldiers to Riverwood. It was a good jog and left me somewhat winded. We split up at the fork in the road and I turned in the direction of the barrow. I also decided now would be a good time to start learning how to sneak and using the muffle spell. The first thing I learned was that these spells use a LOT of magicka at my current proficiency. Soon after, I discovered my sneaking isn't so hot either.
Part way up the path I spot a tower. It's set back a ways from where I'm at. I'd like to say I sneaked by the sentries posted there, but I know one of them spotted me. Luckily, he must have decided I was too far away to bother with. However, it was a good indicator that I might be entering hostile territory. Then next bend in the path opened up to a grand scene of the barrow. The snow was blowing pretty heavy, so it was very hard to see, but hopefully it also made it harder to see me.
I'd love to claim that I crept past all the sentries, but I only made it past the two outer ones. The two guarding the door spotted me before I could spot them. I made a mad dash, slipping through the door and then dashing into the darkest corner of the room I found myself in. I looked back, but apparently they hadn't followed me through the door. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that they had friends inside. Friends that I spotted as my pulse calmed down and I started to look around.
I sneak forward to get a closer look at the two people talking. Unfortunately, I apparently suck at sneaking. They spot me and start to run my way. I cast calm on one of them. It took almost all my magicka to do. Some may call it luck, but I prefer to call it strategy, as I'd calmed the great big brute of a warrior. His partner was an archer and she hung back trying to fling arrows at me. I dodged behind cover briefly, but realized I only had a limited time before her buddy would recover and cleave my skull in.
I sprinted the short distance to the hallway on the other side, zigzagging to avoid any arrows that might be coming my way. I also chugged a few magicka potions, as the excitement of battle has made it hard for me to regain magicka. I turn around and cast calm, and I missed! Running around a turn, I drink a few more magicka potions, bringing me to my last potion. I try and find cover, but take a few cuts from flying arrows. Finally ready, I cast calm at her again. Not to be redundant, but my aiming apparently really sucks, and I miss her by inches. Drinking my last magicka potion, I squeeze against the rough walls of the tunnel, trying to get any cover that I might. The archer yells taunts at me, but she does keep her distance, affording me a brief break while my magicka regenerates. I'm pissed at this point for my own lack of skills, so I do want any sane person would do. My magicka finally gets close to full again, I precast the calm spell, step from cover, and charge to within meters of the archer, blasting her in the face with the spell. Point blank casting. Never fails!
While she calmly walks back up the trail to visit with her partner, I crouch down and start looking around.
This would be a good point to mention that even when running for my life, if I pass something interesting, I probably grab it on the run. Of course, it's sad that I can't stop and pick the lock on a chest while being chased by bandits, but I'll always grab a big potion sitting there screaming, "Take me!" That being said, I'm sure that there are all kinds of cool treasures in the place which I won't be taking home with me. Not only would it be boring to tell you every time I grab a potion or pickup a sword, I'm paranoid and don't need thieves chasing me looking for my hard earned riches (that I don't have!).
So I start sneaking deeper in, but as usual, I'm apparently not very stealthy and I hear some guy calling out for help. I also note the spider webs everywhere. I hate spiders! I pull out a dagger that I'd kept from one of those soldiers yesterday and start cutting through some webs. It's a big room with corpses wrapped in webs, and webs everywhere. It looks like there's a guy trapped in a web on the far side of the room. I start walking towards him when I see a shadow on the floor. Looking up is the biggest spider I've ever seen in my life! I briefly considered killing the horrid beast, but something tells me that my silly little flame spell won't even make it itch. Out of desperation I do what any sane person would do. I casted calm, prayed it work, sprinted like mad to the guy and started slashing at the webs.
Apparently the calm worked, as I didn't have fangs in my back, but I'd accidentally nicked this guy and he gets pissed at me. I think it's okay, as he yells something about treasure and runs away through a path behind him, but as I follow him into the next room, he turns around and attacks me. Luckily, I have regained enough magicka, I cast calm on him. He turns back around and continues a mad sprint out of the room into corridors on the other side.
Well, being a sane person, I don't dash madly after the guy. I pick my way slowly, looking for any type of danger. I head down the tunnel and come out into a room full of dead people; including the guy I'd just saved. He's laying dead on the floor, clutching something that looks like a golden claw. I look closely and I spot the pressure plate which triggers a swinging gate of spikes. Ouch! I also spot a chest of loot, which a few lockpicks later gives me, nothing worth stealing from me.
As I'm collecting the golden claw from this crazed lunatic's corpse, I hear a strange sound. I look up, and there's this dead corpse walking straight at me. Terrifying as it is to see walking dead, the weapon he was carrying looked even more frightening. I panicked and cast calm at him. Of course, it does nothing. I'd read that in the book, that only extremely good illusionists can calm the undead or automatons. I'd not thought much about it, as I hadn't expected to see such things.
This left me with a choice. I briefly considered standing and fighting, but I noticed he wasn't alone anymore. However, these undead (which I've since learned the Nords call Draugr) seem to move relatively slowly. This made my choice easy. Run! I sprinted past undead, many just getting out of coffins. Periodically, I'd stop and pause, trying to hide in shadows and listen for any that might follow me. Luckily, they don't seem to wonder too far from their crypts. The rest of the path was somewhat of a blur, of running, hiding, and running some more.
I finally reach a strange door. The center piece looks like the golden claw I have would fit it, but it has three circular pieces with animals on it. After some inspection, I figure out what to do and open the door. It must not have been opened for some time, as dust went everywhere. I pass through into a huge cavern, accidentally disturbing some bats that fly from the roof.
Looking around, I see a platform with some crypts and a strange wall with weird lettering on it. Closer inspection of the wall shows some glowing letters. Against my better judgement I get closer and some type of energy floods from the letters into me. I seem to know a word, fus, but I'm not really sure what it means. I say it a few times, but nothing happens. I'll have to reflect on it more later.
There's a crashing noise behind me. I turn around to see a really big Draugr. In addition, he puffs up his chest and shouts something and I slightly stumble a bit as if hit by something. I consider leaving him be and running, but then I see the dragonstone. It looks like I don't have a choice. I'm going to have to put this undead thing back to sleep. I cast summon familiar and watch my spectral wolf die almost immediately. I dodge some swings of his axe, and watch how he moves. He seems slow and burdened by his gear.
For what seems like an eternity, we played cat and mouse. I didn't have any magicka potions, so I had to weave in and out of the coffins and do anything to keep stuff between that ugly axe and my skull. As I could, I'd send a spurt of fire out to engulf the draugr. It was a long battle, but eventually he fell dead. I was grateful for his heavy gear. If he'd kept pace with me, I'd have surely died. I collected the dragonstone and looked for a way out; preferably not the way I'd just come.
I found a tunnel in back which took me back out into the wilderness of Skyrim. I was a little high up on a mountain, but not too far. Slowly dropping down from one ledge to another, I made it down to a river. Looking across I saw three standing stones. I couldn't believe my luck. It might be the road to Riverwood. It was dark out now, so I swam across to where I saw a fire. The hunter there was polite but didn't have an extra bed. I walked up to the road and headed into Riverwood.
The bar keep said I could lay my head on a table, but Delphine the inn keeper was out, so I couldn't have a room. I needed some real sleep, so while I hated to impose, I asked Alvor if I could use one of his beds. He was agreeable and I slept long and hard.
1 Draugr Overlord read