An Orc’s Life, Part 17: Axetravaganza

[Below is my narration for this entry.]


It may sound silly, but even though I was expecting traps in Dead Men’s Respite, I never once thought there’d be anything as terrifying as this that I’d have to deal with. A swinging death-axe gauntlet? Really?! The pressure plate traps and hordes of undead monsters weren’t enough, so you had to add in this nightmare? How very annoying, and also terrifying. Well, there’s no turning back now. We can’t get back up the hole we jumped down into, so forward through axe hell it is.

As I steel myself for my run across, I have a thought; if I don’t tell Ghorbash and Jenassa to wait here, they’re 100% going to get murdered by these axes as they attempt to obliviously follow me across. I see a chain on the other side that I hope will stop the axes, so I turn around and have a chat with “Jhorbash” to stay put. Alright, guys, if I die horribly to the axes, I have a favor to ask of you – I want both of you to get out alive…so you can go to the Bards College and tell Viarmo to suck it. I turn back around to face the axes, and when the first set of axes is starting to swing away, I book it. Luckily, my orc-y legs don’t fail me, and I pass under unharmed. I am now in the middle of an axe sandwich, though, which is not a particularly pleasant place to find oneself.

Stuck in the Middle with You

♪ Axes to the left of me, axes to the right, here I am ♪

I’m disappointed that neither Jenassa nor Ghorbash cheer me on as I clear the first set of axes, but I know they’re rooting for me in their hearts. Perhaps intentional, or perhaps a mechanical failing due to hundreds of years of neglect, but the second set of axes has one axe out of sync with the rest. I feel like I barely made it past the first grouping, and I don’t feel confident about the delayed axe narrowing my window of safety. I see the platform the archer Draugr was standing on, and wonder if I can jump to it, then jump back on here, skipping the out of sync axe altogether.

Can he do it?

Grawnk Knievel

It’s a cunning plan, to be sure. I bet the ancient Nords never could have guessed that I, Grawnk, master puzzle solver, would employ such clever tactics as jumping to circumvent one of their devious death traps. It’s definitely foolproof. I leap through the air and successfully land on the platform. Grawnk, you genius, look at you go. I feel like I’m really sticking it to the man with my little detour here. The jump back onto the axe bridge is slightly more intimidating, however, but I am the jumping genius, after all, so how could this tougher jump hope to stop me?

What could possibly go wrong?

Grawnk’s going the distance, Grawnk’s going for speed.

I put my back up against the wall so I can get a running start, then propel myself forward with astonishing power…but then I somehow forget to jump [Sorry, Grawnk, at the end of the day, your skills are limited to my keyboard dexterity]. Welp, despite utterly whiffing the jump, I take solace in the fact that I have some very sturdy knees. That platform was decently high up, but I land unharmed. Wholly embarrassed, I begin the long walk of shame back up the ramp. Hi, guys, it’s me, the jumping genius. I’m back because I forgot to jump in my plan that revolves solely around jumping.


Jenassa’s not even acknowledging me.

I squeeze past them and attempt a second try. I’m able to make it past the first set of axes again, and I make the jump onto the platform too. Okay, Grawnk, jump this time, actually jump. I back up against the wall, I run, and more importantly, I jump – and I make it back onto the bridge! Hooray, I am still the jumping genius! Take that, Nords! There are technically two more sets of axes left, but their timing is such that I should be able to sprint through both of them when they are on their upswing. And I do just that because I’m literally unstoppable.

Glad I don't have to do that again

Bridge under troubled axes

I worry that it may not still work, but thankfully, when I pull the chain down, the axes halt their swinging, and rise up, out of the way.


Hey Nords, I’ve solved your axe puzzle.

I sprint back across the bridge, paranoid that the ancient trap might malfunction, but the axes remain safely cocked back. Alright you two, let’s go. I’ve saved the day, and subsequently your lives, by stopping the axes. You’re welcome. We all cross the bridge together and come to an ominous-looking door.

It's a Futurama reference

Prepare to enter…the Scary Door.

Despite my misgivings about this door, it isn’t hiding anything remarkable behind it. We follow a tunnel leading down and spot our specter again. I don’t try to catch up to him this time, knowing he’s going to disappear any sec – oh, and there he goes. Clearly, the ghost wants us to follow it, so as it’s become custom, we do just that. Don’t flatter yourself though, ghost; the path you’re taking just so happens to be the only way forward.  We come across an enchanting table and I decide to check it out. If I can figure out how to enchant my gear, it will only help my odds of survival.

Enchanting's hard, y'all

I no enchant good.

After several minutes of me just kind of banging my mace down on the table with nothing happening, I decide that enchanting might not be a skill I possess yet. I do find an enchanting-looking steel helmet on the table though. Here you go, Ghorbash, protect that melon of yours. I’m not sure that it really suits him, but hey, more protection is better than less.

Ol' No Eyes

And guess who forgot to install the mod that lets you see faces behind helmets.

We continue our gradual descent through the tomb and run into a solitary Draugr, who comes running out at us from a room. Once it’s dead, we walk inside and see a sleeping Draugr. Oh, I get it; your buddy was standing guard for you while you caught some Zs. Too bad for you you’re a heavy sleeper. Seeing another opportunity for a preventative clubbing, I thwack the Draugr with my mace.

Sorry about this, but not really

This is why you don’t sleep on the job.

With Grumpy and Sleepy out of the way, we’re free to walk around unchecked. I’m finally getting better at paying attention to my surroundings, because I actually spot a pressure plate trap before stepping on it. I give it a very wide berth as I navigate around it, and find myself in an interesting room. There is a plinth bearing a floating crystal above it, and adjacent to it: a pedestal with a scroll atop. A dead Draugr is splayed out underneath a collection of very suspicious openings in the wall. Nothing about this area makes me feel comfortable at all. My trap sense is definitely tingling, so I resist the temptation to snatch any of the items here.

Trap central

Shout-out to the floating sword.

Gathering my posse, I put some distance between us and the trap room. Minutes later and we are at the opening of another chamber. We don’t exactly move stealthily, two of us being decked out in heavy armor, so it seems our presence has been made known to some angry Draugr who appear inside. Ghorbash sprints ahead and starts wailing on one of the walking corpses. Inspired by his bravery, or wanton lack of care, one, I run forward too. The first Draugr falls to Ghorbash but the other starts to blast us with frost.

Best orc friends

Just a couple of orc buds living it up.

I move forward with my shield raised to try and mitigate some of the spell’s effects. I get within striking distance and lodge my mace squarely in the middle of its face.


Talk to the hand ’cause the mace ain’t listening.

The undead encounter finished, I realize Jenassa is missing. In my haste to deal with the Draugr, I never actually noticed that she was strangely absent from our beat-up brigade. Oh whoops. When I turn around, I see that iron bars have sealed the entrance into this room, leaving Jenassa on the other side. She must have been lagging behind and got caught out. Or perhaps, this is her way of getting back at me for leaving her in the dust whenever I ride my horse. Honestly, either could be true.

Jailbird Jenassa

So, what are you in for?

Luckily for Jenassa, after yanking another chain, (the thirtieth one in this tomb, I’m pretty sure) the bars rise, letting her walk in. The grate in the middle of the room falls away as well, revealing a staircase down. I watch as the Draugr that was on top of the grate languidly oozes down the staircase, out of sight. I decide to look around first before going down the stairs. One of the side rooms has an obviously trapped chest in it, but I think I can spring the trap without getting caught in it. The chest has a string on the back of it, that I’m confident, if broken, will set off the trap. If I can hit the string with an arrow, I can be well out of harm’s way, then safely collect my riches afterward.

Traps, traps for sale

Hmm, I feel as if the game might be trying to tell me something here. But what…

I take my bow out, draw an arrow, and line up the shot. I release the arrow, and to my surprise, I hit the string, severing it. Tiny bolts come flying out of openings in the wall above the chest. Some of the bolts stick in a dead Draugr lying on the floor, but most just plink off the ground. My plan worked perfectly. I successfully triggered the trap while avoiding any personal harm, so now all that’s left is to reap the rewards. I throw open the lid of the chest to reveal… two gold pieces [and genuine disgust on my part]. Unbelievable.

I’m a little annoyed and confused as to why someone would go to such lengths to protect only two gold pieces, but it’s two gold I didn’t have before, so I shouldn’t complain too much – some though. There’s nowhere else to go now except down the spiraling stairs of mystery.

Spiral Power

Stair stare

I cautiously walk down the stairs, worried about what might be waiting for us at the bottom. My worry is wasted because all that greets us at the bottom is the slip ‘n slide Draugr and another “secret” rock door. I’m impressed though; instead of a chain, this door boasts a knob thing as its opening mechanism. They probably ran out of chains by the time they got all the way down here. I grasp the handle and pull. The rock door shudders as it slides away, revealing a small, cramped room. In that room is a mummified body but also…our little ghosty guy!

Hello again

Taking a little break from your disappearing act?

And for once, he doesn’t disappear as I walk closer. Hey bud, what’s up? Is this room where you’ve been leading us toward? The ghost says nothing, only staring at me smugly: or maybe not. It’s really hard to tell, what with the whole ghostly visage and all.

You win

I have no doubt I’m losing this staring contest.

As I’m thinking that this wild ghost chase may have been for naught, my eyes lock onto something lying half-buried in the ground.


Could it be?

My hands start to tremble as I reach for it. Not daring to believe what it might be, I remove a very old, very dusty book from the grasp of its long-dead owner. I open the cover and thumb through the pages. I feel tears start to well up in my eyes because I know that what I am holding is King Olaf’s Verse. I’ve done it. I’ve actually done it. I remember when I thought this an impossible task, and, full of despair, took to wandering the countryside. Even after I snapped out of my funk, there was fully a part of me that doubted I’d ever see this day come.

You see, people like me aren’t supposed to explore tombs, searching for long-forgotten books, let alone fending off the undead, avoiding traps, or an excess of chains. But yet, I have done all of that and more, and am still alive. I kind of rock. As I warmly reflect on my Skyrim journey thus far, I momentarily forget where I am until I see the ghost disappear, snapping me out of my reverie. Aww, goodbye, ghost, it’s been real. I still can’t believe I just have King Olaf’s Verse now. I flip through it again in disbelief. I take notice of a potential problem though; there are major portions of the writing that are marred beyond legibility.

Well, I’ve done my part in finding the damn thing. I can’t help that some of the writing is missing. Viarmo better not give me any guff over this. I stash the book in my pockets of holding and turn to address my companions. Ghorbash, Jenassa; thank you for doing your part to get me here. I couldn’t have done it without you two. Even though they don’t say anything directly, I can tell that they really appreciate the sentiment. Meeko, I know you can’t hear me, but I’m thankful for you too, boy…and I’m still super glad I made you wait outside. As a way of saying thanks, I think I’m going to make Jenassa a set of Elven armor to go with her shield. For Ghorbash, I think I can probably do some upgrades on his existing gear. And you know what? I’m going to see about getting them both horses of their own too. I’m feeling very generous. What about a gift for Meeko you say? Well, I’ve already given him the best gift there is: preventing him from dying horribly in a tomb.

I’m starting to feel pretty tired. I’ve lost all sense of time being cooped up in this squalid Nord hole, but judging by my fatigue levels, I wager we’ve been in here almost a full day, which is hard to believe. I think it’s high time we get out of here. I take one last look at the small room and then we backtrack up the stairs. A thought occurs to me; I’ve seen no way to get out. Our path dead-ended at the Verse. Feeling a little panicky, I start retracing our steps, hoping to find something I missed. Well aren’t you a sight for sore eyes! I see our friendly ghost up ahead.

♪ I want you to show me the way ♪

No quips this time. I’ll happily follow as long as you point me toward an exit.

Listen, ghost, I know I made a quip earlier about not needing to follow you, but I take it back; show us the way out! We catch up to the ghost, and I trot behind it as it unlocks a door that we previously couldn’t get through – then the ghost vanishes once more. On the other side is a long, ornately decorated chamber, with a large, extravagant door at the end of it. Oh gods, this is going to be a whole thing, isn’t it?


This room just screams adventure. *Gulp*


Next time on An Orc’s Life: Boss Fight

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3 thoughts on “An Orc’s Life, Part 17: Axetravaganza

  1. “Grawnk’s going the distance, Grawnk’s going for speed.” now I cannot get this out of my head, thanks for that.

    I have always hated how trapped chests tend to have nothing of worth in them.

    Great entry as always. I eagerly await next Wednesday.

    Liked by 1 person

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