An Orc’s Life, Day 4: The Road to Solitude

Below is my narration of this entry. Hope you enjoy.

Instead of my usual morning lethargy, my eyes pop open, and I spring out of bed. Today is different. Today I step foot into Solitude. Well, hopefully anyway. Any number of things could get in my way and – no. What am I saying? Before the end of the day, I will walk within Solitude’s walls no matter what. Bandits, wolves, horkers, or even Frost Troll hit squads be damned. Get ready people of Solitude; Grawnk’s a’ comin’. With my mind resolutely made up, I charge out of Morthal like a green comet collectedly make my way to the edge of town. When I make it back ♪ on the road again, ♪ I observe an oddly colored cow heading the opposite direction.

Cow are you?

[ Shut up, puns are funny. ]

Tis a strange thing to see a cow walking on the road by itself. Stranger still are its unique blue symbols. Is it a victim of graffiti? Is it into tattoos? Is it making a statement about conformity? Am I reading way too much into this? Yes, but these are the things I think about. Turns out all my perfectly logical guesses are wrong.

My cow-ardice is kicking in.

[ New rule: Drink every time I make a terrible pun…in other words, every time I make a pun. ]

A giant lumbers into view, answering the mystery of the cow. One mystery remains, however. How am I getting away from this alive? While I’m frozen still, debating what to do, the giant lazily passes me by. Oh. I’m not sure whether to feel relieved or insulted. For all the giant knew, I could have been a lean, green, giant-killing machine. I guess he’s smarter than he looks.

Not long after I get out of the snow, a deer runs out on the road far ahead of me. I snipe the thing like a pro, and even finish it off without the help of spider goo. Later on, I’m walking along, humming some of the popular bard songs when I spot some large stone ruins. Some large stone ruins with people in black robes patrolling the top. Chances are they are not the friendly type, so I enter what I can only describe as a super stealthy crouching position, and creep off the side of the road.

Time to take the path less traveled/visible.

My strategy is working. I hug the treeline, unnoticed by the patrol. When the ruins are finally behind me, I return to the road. That was close. No telling what would have happened if I’d been spotted. Wait a second. What if like the giant, they did see me, but just didn’t care? Come on! I’m wearing armor, I have a mace. I’m threatening! As I look at one of my skinny arms, I realize that I am actually not threatening…at all. I guess I shouldn’t let my victory over Benor and my imaginary defeat of a Frost Troll go to my head. Plus, why am I wishing for things to attack me all of a sudden? I blame my upbringing. It all resurfaced after my scrap with Benor. No need to dwell on it now though. I can do that later, in the comfort of a bar.

As I’m walking and simultaneously dwelling on my upbringing, (Once you start, it’s hard to stop) a gap in the trees opens up, and I see something that makes me forget all about my childhood: Solitude.

Solitude is no longer just a dream. I know it’s real because I’m seeing it with my own eyes; and it’s breathtaking. I had so many doubts on my sea-voyage over here. So many unknowns. Just getting a glimpse of the suspended city from a distance, I know I made the right decision by coming to Skyrim. After a few more minutes of silently staring in awe, I finally return to my senses, and decide to get moving again so that I may stare at Solitude from within its walls.

[ Not long after this, Skyrim crashed on me no less than 4 times. I was convinced my file was corrupted, and that this would mean the end of Grawnk. That’s the problem with having so many mods (I have over 100). You can start to see compatibility issues. My other two characters were corrupted, which was actually part of the reason why I created Lizard Wizard ( “Stark” in my actual file). Long story short, I guessed which mod was causing the issue, deactivated it, and hallelujah, it worked. Now where were we? ]

Literally minutes later, I see a dog laying down by the side of the road. I am cautious, because where there are dogs, there are men. Or bandits, which are what I’m worried about. I approach slowly, and when I get near the dog, it bounds off into the woods. I have no idea why, but I feel compelled to follow it in, even knowing that this might be some elaborate bandit ploy to lure me into their camp. The dog disappears into a shack. I hesitate, but draw my weapon and proceed forward.

Nothing awful ever happened to someone who searched a shack in the middle of the woods, right?

Once in the shack, I do find a man, but I don’t think I have anything to worry about. He’s dead.

Of course, this being Skyrim, the dead aren’t always this peaceful.

Was this your owner, dog? The dog just looks at me. I notice a journal on the table, so I thumb through it till I get to the last entry.

So you’re Meeko aren’t you, dog? The dog’s tail wags at the sound of its name. Feeling awkward, I tell the dog I’m sorry about its owner. This is a strange situation for several reasons. One; I’m talking to a dog as if he understands what I’m saying. Two; The fact that I’m talking to a dog at all. And three; I don’t even like dogs, or animals for that matter. I decide I should get going again. Before I leave, I look around the room for anything that might be useful in my travels. I go to grab a lantern, but keep my eyes on Meeko, expecting it to object to me taking something that belongs to its dead master. It just continues to look at me somewhat forlornly. The lantern in my hand, I nod politely to the dog, and exit the shack.

I’m glad I cured my Rockjoint sooner rather than later. Had I not, it could have been me laying dead in a shack somewhere. I do feel kind of sorry for the dog, but the journal said it would be able to take care of itself. I’m back on the road, but my enthusiasm has been diminished, and I can’t figure out why. I’m traveling to Solitude, the city where my dreams will be realized. I should be just as happy as I was before I found the do – that’s what it is. That damn dog. I can’t get the image of it following me with those big sad eyes out of my head.

Finally, I stop walking. I can’t believe I’m doing this. Before long, I’m standing back in front of the shack again. Inside, I find that Meeko has not moved. Do you want to follow me, dog? He wags his tail and starts barking. Is that a yes? I take a few steps outside of the shack, and sure enough, the dog follows. So, I guess this is happening now.

A wild Meeko has appeared! Meeko was caught!

[ Incidentally, I realize this might seem contrived, but I swear it isn’t. I had never found Meeko in any of my other files, so it seemed fitting. Basically, what I am trying to say is this: When Skyrim gives you dogs, you make lemonade…or something. ]

I’m not thrilled to have just taken on a canine companion. As I said, I don’t like the things. I just felt sorry for it. Surely I can find somebody along the way that can take it off my hands. Well, that is good timing now, isn’t it? A group of people are just up ahead. Excuse me, would any of you like to buy a dog?

No? Well what about for free?

They don’t hear me. The two men are looking for an escaped Redguard woman, and are questioning this woman to see if it’s her. I guess Orcs aren’t the only race getting profiled in Skyrim. I’ll be on my way then. I don’t feel like getting involved with other’s problems.

The next section of my our travels leads us to some sort of “Dragonbridge.”

Looks like the exit to a water ride.

It turns out that the settlement just over the bridge is called Dragonbridge. Clearly, they opted for the more original route when it came time to name their town. I can forgive the lack of creativity, because the settlement is nice, and it has a fire to warm my and Meeko’s bones up.

Know any good ghost stories, Meeko?

I ask a guy sitting by the fire some questions to which I in turn don’t even pay attention to. I don’t know what it is, but I just immediately lose interest the second people’s mouths open. I do pay attention to when he says I can chop firewood for gold. I don’t know why he doesn’t want to complete the last step, but I happily take his coin for a few minutes work.

Much like in “Waterboy,” I picture the logs with bandit faces on them.

[ A surprising amount of effort went into capturing the axe in mid-swing in this screen shot. That just goes to show you my dedication to this blog. ]

100 gold richer, and several hours of travel later, I find myself standing outside of Solitude’s main gate.

Wow. As before, I am left standing still at the mere sight of Solitude. Only Meeko’s barking snaps me out of my daze. It is time. The doors creak open. What will greet me on the other side? A welcoming delegation? Fellow bards? Gold-paved roads? An execution?!

I would have preferred gilded roads. I bet that bloke agrees.

Yep. I have arrived during a going away party for some poor bastard named Roggvir’s head. I daresay he shall miss it most of all. Not much time is wasted. Before I know it, I have just watched a guy getting beheaded as my first act in Solitude. Not what I expected.

Don’t feel too sorry for Roggvir. Now he’ll be awesome at necking. See, you were expecting a head joke, because it’s the obvious go-to in this scenario, but fortunately for you, dear reader, I am not always obvious. Just most of the time.

I still can’t believe that just happened. It certainly casts Solitude in a slightly different light now. As much as I’d like to stick around and at least look a little more affected, I have a mission to get back to: Becoming a bard. I look around at Solitude for the first time. Tall, beautiful buildings rise up all around me. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. What do you think, dog? *Barking* I guess animals don’t really have an appreciation for architecture.

Maybe I’ll send Karita a post card.

All of a sudden, Meeko starts growling, but then I realize it’s just my stomach. We pop into the Winking Skeever for a quick bite. Don’t ask the owner why the bar is named the Winking Skeever, by the way. It’s a dreadfully boring story, explained rather plainly. The guy’s certainly no bard. I do chit-chat with the resident bard-maiden, though. We laugh, we share stories, she tells me I should check out the Bard’s college, I tell her I am, I stand around awkwardly, then I leave. What? I’m not good with the ladies. But maybe Meeko will help. Chicks still dig animals, right?

Next stop is the blacksmith’s. It’s time to sell-off some of these goodies I’ve been collecting. I meet Beirand the blacksmith, and I’m happy to report that he is a much better blacksmith than Rustleif. Of course the only criteria I am judging him by is whether he offers me any fetch quests. He doesn’t. And just like that, I don’t hate him.

I lighten my load whilst burdening my wallet, and leave Beirand’s. I’ll be back soon enough. My hobby/means of making extra money will be blacksmithing I have decided. It seems like a good plan to me. I’ll make money while also increasing my chances of not getting killed to death by one of Skyrim’s many bloodthirsty beings.

One of the tallest buildings in Solitude is now before me. And I know which one it is. The Bard’s College design is intricate, regal, and grand. I feel humbled to gaze upon such splendor.

The college’s beauty transfixes me only for so long before I am walking up to its front doors. My heart races and my palms sweat as I grasp the handle and turn. My life will never be the same after I go in. Something I couldn’t be happier about.

Once inside, the air itself feels saturated with history and tradition. When I breathe it in, I feel part of something bigger than myself.

Meeko, on the other hand, could care less.

[ Once more, the fates were working against me when I walked in for the first time. If I had not been able to fix the conflicting mod, you would have gotten The Ghost Bard’s College. ]

I have been told that I am supposed to talk with Viarmo, the head of the college, about joining, and my name-discerning sixth sense has just spotted him. I wonder if he’ll want to hear my ballad now or after the coronation. Of course, I’d be happy to sing it twice, too. I just hope instrument proficiency isn’t part of the initiation because all of my skills in that department are self-taught. It should come as no surprise that there are not any Orc musicians to tutor young children interested in becoming a bard. Confidently, I stroll up to Viarmo and announce that I am interested in joining the college.

Nice spiky hair. I’m kind of jealous.

Instead of having me sing or do any other bard-y type stuff to see if I’m worthy of becoming a bard, Viarmo starts telling me about this festival, The Burning of King Olaf. Apparently, the queen is forbidding the bards to throw it on account of an effigy of this Olaf guy getting burned during it. Viarmo explains that the queen’s husband the King was just murdered, and she does not see the festival as being in good taste. Long story short, Viarmo wants me to track down a poem that this King Zoloft, or whatever, has written that will justify the festival to the queen. Oh, and it’s located in some ruins called “Dead Men’s Respite…”

I don’t have to state just how enormous of a dilemma this is. I’m afraid enough as it is of Skyrim’s wildlife, let alone what’s lurking in its ancient ruins. I’ve heard tales enough already of dead things walking around, but never thought there would even be a chance of me tangling with any of them. I’ll have to give this some thought.

Grawnk strikes his srs bsns pose

Becoming a bard is something I’ve wanted to do my entire life. I may be a coward, but I’m not a quitter. If finding some ancient poem in order to throw a party is what I must do to become a bard, then so be it. I will just have to start training. That, or buying a lot of invisibility potions. Perhaps I could take up enchanting as well. Some protective enchantments on my armor would be a good start. I could even hire some mercenaries. I’ve seen them around various inns and taverns. I think I can do this. It’s just going to take time.

This has really taken the wind out of my sails. A few minutes ago I was the happiest I’ve ever been, and now…Well now I’m the most conflicted I’ve ever been. I don’t want to give up, but retrieving that poem will be the hardest, most dangerous thing I ever do. [ Knock on wood. ]

I trudge back to The Winking Skeever, declining some kid’s offer to play tag. No thanks, kid. I’d only win. I thump the 10 gold on the counter, and allow the owner to show me to my room. The room is lovely, and actually goes a long way in lifting my spirits. And it has a door, too!

Maybe now that I have some privacy I can have an Orc-gy.

[ You know the drill, people; drink 1 for the pun. ]

It’s an odd thing to get excited about, but it’s a Skyrim first for me. You know, there’s really no reason for me to feel down. I did what I set out to do today. I made it to Solitude, and that’s cause to celebrate. And hey, no one even attacked me! I’ve waited my whole life to become a bard, so I can wait a bit longer. Isn’t that right, Meeko? Bark annoyingly if you agree. Good dog.

Sleep well, Grawnk: Bard-to-be.

Well what do you know? I actually finished this post. Thank you all for bearing with me through Lizard Wizard, procrastination, and inaccurate predictions. I am very sorry. That is, I am sorry for the inaccurate predictions. I have come to accept that it takes me a long time to make each post.

Therefore, I have decided to set a post schedule for myself to hold me accountable to publishing posts in a reliable manner. I have decided that I will publish a new post every other Wednesday, starting from this Wednesday here on out. If I get better or quicker at this, then I could potentially put out a post every Wednesday. We’ll have to see.

One update. I have created a Polls page where I will be gathering feedback from you, the reader, on occasion. For convenience, I am also including the two polls I have already made. To everyone who reads this, I would be EXTREMELY appreciative if you could fill out these polls. It will only help me to improve the blog. Thank you as always for reading, and now, to reward myself for finishing this post, I’m going to watch the newest Game of Thrones episode. – Kit

Be sure to follow me on twitter, and here on WordPress, to stay up to date with Grawnk and this blog.

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18 thoughts on “An Orc’s Life, Day 4: The Road to Solitude

    • Well that was a great post. I see in the screenshot with the redguards you meet the lovely “You have so many mods installed that this cell decided not to load properly” glitch. And I think you should go on this mystical quest to find the Poem of King Olaf, but only if you practice a lot first. Otherwise he would most probably die.

      • I knew something seemed off in that screenshot. Sounds about right, though. I’m really glad you liked the post, and I completely agree about needing tons of practice. Maybe I’ll make a “sports-training montage” of Grawnk training.

        • Maybe insert just a series of screenshots preceded by some montage music to play while scrolling through.

  1. Nice blog and interresting idea, using Skyrim to create a story like this. Will be reading the 3 previous posts as soon as I get time :D. Keep it up!

    Oh also, had too add, you seem like a rather cowardly orc, sneaking past things. Made me lol though xD

  2. Dang, these posts just keep getting better. I think going after King Olaf’s Verse would stretch the unadventure a bit, but without it, Grawnk can’t join the Bards’ College, and so therefore Grawnk wouldn’t really have any goals.

    • Yes, you are certainly right. It is not only a dilemma for Grawnk, but a dilemma for me as well. I’m glad you’re enjoying the posts. I can only hope they keep getting better myself.

    • Sorry to have kept you waiting. I hope you enjoyed it. If you haven’t already, you can “follow” me here on WordPress, and then get email notifications whenever I publish a new post. Thanks for reading, Kiffe.

  3. “King Zoloft, or whatever” LOL – Truly the puns this go-round has put Sir Weird Al to shame. I can imagine how long the process of describing Grawnk’s misadventures, an am more and more impressed the longer these posts get. I voted “other”, bc I think the gung-ho type approach to tackling the ruins would be against Green-boy’s nature, howEVER it could be done comically and within his character, like hiring multiple bodyguards (through yet another mod that would allow that of course) and making them lead the way while he dotted them with “arrows of cowardice” from the back row or something of the like. That’s my take anyway. Also, leaving short posts about snippets of his journey could free you up a little both creatively and time-wise. I, for one, would be happy to read more regular posts even if they left me wanting more. Rant over, and godspeed.

    • Arrows of cowardice. Now that made me lawl. Yes. Short posts are the way to go. And I only realized it after I made my longest post. You have great ideas as usual. Don’t be surprised if I happen to implement some of them.

  4. Great post, can’t get enough of those puns! Now that Grawnk has a rather scruffy looking dog in tow I can totally see him busking in that tunnel in Solitude, that’s if his plans to become a famous bard don’t pan out. I’d spare him some change anyday.

    • More like if his plans don’t pun out…It’s a disease. I really want to see a mod that allows you to busk now. But as fun as that sounds, fingers crossed for famousness.

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