Below is my narration of this entry. Hope you enjoy.
My room in the Bannered Mare comes slowly into focus as I open my eyes. The shadowy tendrils of my dreams swirl around in my memory for a few moments, but they soon dance out of existence, leaving me to wonder why my stomach feels as though it has knots in it. As my grogginess subsides, I quickly remember what today is: the first day of my journey to Dead Men’s Respite. I feel one of the knots tighten.
“Are you still sleeping?” an annoyed voice from across the room asks. Jenassa is leaning against the door frame of my room, wearing her usual scowl. “Ghorbash is down by the stables already, loading our gear onto your horse. Had I known you weren’t going to lift a finger on this trip, I might not have agreed to help. Well, are you just going to lie there? Get up, we’re wasting light!” Jenassa storms out the door, leaving a tangible cloud of unpleasantness behind her. She seems more cranky than usual. She’s either not much of a morning person, or she caught wind of me talking about her to the patrons last night when I was recounting my tales over the past months.
– Several days ago –
The giant lays dead at my feet, and now that I have a moment to think, I can’t believe it – Giants smell disgusting! It’s not something you notice when you’re in a fight for your life, but dear Gods, this is awful. I want to leave the area as fast as I can, but a thought occurs to me; Jenassa will have to let me hire her if I can prove that I killed a giant. Holding my breath as best as I can, I fish out a dagger, and begin cutting off one of the giant’s toes.
I finish the disgusting/grizzly deed, and am forced to take a breath, unintentionally inhaling the putrid toe fumes, causing me to gag. Whoever first had the idea to cut off a giant’s toe to use as an alchemical ingredient must have been insane, or born without a nose, one. And don’t even get me started about the toe jam.
I put the toe in one of my bags and head back to camp. On my way there, I find Meeko in a clearing, attempting to catch a Luna Moth. Some protector you are. Well, come on, let’s get back. I could put Meeko on a guilt trip, but my rants are wasted on him. Believe me, I’ve tried. I sleep through the night without event, and in the morning I pack everything up, adding a second bag to the toe, and head towards Whiterun.
Luckily, I was closer than I thought, and I arrive during mid-day. Once inside the gates, I walk into the Drunken Huntsman, Jenassa’s usual haunt. I spy her in the corner, looking as irritable as ever. I don’t know why, but I am more intimidated by her, than a ten foot giant. I resolutely stroll over to her, trying to look as tough as possible.
She spots me, and turns her glare my way. Without saying anything, I produce the bloody toe from within the bags and place it on the table, much to the distress of everyone’s noses. Her expression changes from shock, to curiosity, then revulsion. “Assuming it really was you who killed the owner of this toe, then I believe we can work something out.”
I assure her that it was, and assert that if she has any remaining doubt, she should only sniff my gear for irrefutable proof. She declines. Jenassa informs me that her standard rate is 500 Septims, and even though it’s steep, it seems fair considering the risk of such a mission. I count out the gold, proffer it to her, and when she is done recounting it, I extend my hand to shake hers, but am yet again met by that cold glare. This is going to be fun.
I now have my first companion, though Jenassa would probably hit me if she knew I referred to her as a companion. My odds of surviving my excursion to Dead Men’s Respite have now doubled, but I can’t stop there. Ghorbash, my brother from another stronghold, agreed to follow me if ever I were to call on him. Well, Ghorbash, that time has come.
I announce to Jenassa that I will be back in a couple of days after I collect Ghorbash. Much to my surprise, Jenassa says she will be coming with me. Something about once the gold is exchanged, she is obligated to follow me till the task is completed or one of us is dead. I was really hoping to avoid Jenassa for as long as I could. She’s not my first pick for a travel buddy.
Annoyed, I sarcastically ask her if she has to follow me around Whiterun while I restock on supplies too. In response, she draws her sword several inches out of its sheathe and says, “Watch your tongue, Orc. Speaking is a privilege, not a right.” She retracts the sword, and goes back to sipping her ale, ignoring me. That gave me the chills. I’m going to have nightmares.
The rest of the day passes quickly, and I return to the Drunken Huntsman to confirm with Jenassa when we leave tomorrow. I’m able to get in and out without her threatening me with bodily harm, so I count that as a win. I walk back to my room at the Bannered Mare, and sleep through the night, dreaming about ill-tempered, rude giants.
When I meet up with Jenassa in the morning, she insists on leading the way. I’m about to tell her that I know the way to Dushnikh Yal, where Ghorbash is, but I’m reminded that Jenassa considers speaking to be a privilege, so I bite my tongue, and nod politely. Probably best to embark on half-decent terms. A few things are loaded onto Karinda, and then we set out.
The trip is turning out just like I expected: long, awkward, and full of silence. Just like all of my experience with women. I sigh audibly, causing Jenassa to ask,” Have something to say, Orc?” My thoughts have turned to Ghorza, as they often do when I have time to myself to think. I may be terribly awkward around females, but after I have retrieved King Olaf’s Verse from within Dead Men’s Respite, and become a bard, I hope that will impress Ghorza enough to marry me, or at least give me a chance.
I see Jenassa is still looking at me, expecting an answer. I ask her if she’s ever had someone special in her life that she just can’t stop thinking about. Her cheeks flush, and she yells at me for daring to ask such a question. She whips around, and sets a pace so quick that I am forced to jog just to keep up. I smile, though. I think I have just found a clue to Jenassa’s hostility.
We arrive at Dushnikh Yal a day later at the crack of dawn. No one in the stronghold is up yet, so I climb one of the look-out posts to enjoy a beautiful sunrise while we wait on everyone.
It isn’t much longer before everyone starts to wake up, and emerge from the longhouse. Ghorbash exits, and immediately starts beating up on a practice dummy. I’m thinking a road trip will do him some good. I walk over to Ghorbash and start telling him about my upcoming journey. Like he promised he would, he agrees to help. I didn’t even have to show him a bloody giant’s toe or anything.
I introduce Ghorbash to Jenassa. “A Dark Elf, huh? Used to be a poem or something everyone used to recite about you all. I think it went something like” – I stomp on Ghorbash’s foot to shut him up, and quickly try to assure Jenassa that Ghorbash is referring to a different saying than the limerick.
I pull Ghorbash off to the side and tell him that if we don’t want our throats slit in the middle of the night, don’t go around pissing off Jenassa . And ESPECIALLY don’t ever ask her anything personal. We walk back over and I apologize. I think it’s time we return to Whiterun now. Ghorbash and Jenassa agree, so off we head.
With Meeko, Jenassa, and now Ghorbash, I’m liking my chances of surviving the perils of Dead Men’s Respite. Now, surviving the perils of social interactions is another thing. Ghorbash seems to be pretty unfiltered with everything he says, so I’m just waiting for when he lets something slip that offends Jenassa…more than usual that is. Luckily, this trip isn’t the time when it happens. Dragonsreach is visible on the horizon, and we quicken our pace.
That night, I convince Jenassa to eat with Ghorbash and me at the Bannered Mare so we can talk about the coming days. I first ask what Jenassa knows about Dead Men’s Respite. Besides knowing its location, she isn’t able to tell us much. “It’s a Nordic barrow. I’d count on plenty of traps, spiders, and of course, the living dead. Not everything in Skyrim stays dead forever.”
Ghorbash shudders. He may be a stout warrior, but like me, he is not well-traveled, and the thought of facing dead things is enough to make both of our blood run cold. We speak more on how much gear and food we need to bring, but soon, Ghorbash and Jenassa retire to their rooms. I’m not ready to go to bed just yet, so I think I’ll see if anyone is in the mood to hear about my travels. After all, I don’t want all of my bard skills to be rusty if I actually survive this thing. Standing up, I shout to the patrons around me, “Who wants to hear about the time I fought a giant?” A chorus of positive responses greet me. “Alright then; I’m going to have to start from the beginning…
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