We searched all the bodies, but none of them had this claw. We took the armor off the dead and divided it. I kept the iron breastplate after wiping the generous amounts of blood that had flown from the bandit’s throat wound. Sven took the helmet that looked identical to mine and I gave him the steel axe as well as the leather shield. We found some money on each of the corpses, but no golden claw.
“Alvor might buy this junk off us,” Sven announced while hovering his hand over the scattering of armor and weapons.
“Yeah, we’ll haul it back for extra money,” I answered, “but I’m not going back without the claw.”
Sven nodded, “The claw is my key to unlocking Camilla. I sure would like to sample that sweet honey.”
I grinned, “So you’re in with me?”
He exhaled in a frustrated sigh, “Let’s check this tower.”
He led, I followed. We tore the place apart searching for the claw, and we even found a chest up at the top watch-point, inside was some gold and a garnet. We took food from a barrel and found a coin pouch. We were leaving when fortune smiled, we found a note scribbled with; we went up to Bleak Falls, we’ll be back with the treasure. There was no date on the paper, just the quick scribble.
“I wonder if this gang is looking for what the Jarl has sent me to retrieve.” I said to Sven.
He grinned, “I’d thought you were kidding me when you said you were sent to find something for the Jarl of Whiterun.”
Nodding, I reply, “I’m here for his court wizard, actually. It’s got something to do with these dragons. The Jarl’s Wizard thinks something in the Barrows will give them answers about the dragon attack on Helgen.” Looking down at the dead elf with the cleaved face, I added, “This gang might be trying to get it first, and then ransom it.”
Whimsically, Sven commented. “So my mom wasn’t crazy. She said she saw a dragon fly over Riverwood two nights ago,” He pointed at the fractured axe on my belt, “You’ll need a new weapon if were gonna beat a gang of thugs, that axe is shot.”
Kicking the bloody elf with the popped out eye, I said, “Not as bad as his face.” I tossed my axe with the split-handle on the dead body. “I’m taking that big Redguard’s warhammer.”
We took the trail again. It wasn’t long before we hit a trail dusted with fresh snow. Tracks within the trail showed several fresh boot marks. “Heh,” Sven chuckled, “looks like a small army went up to the Barrows.”
I shook my head, muttering one word. “Great.”
Adjusting the horned helmet on his head, he remarked, “So much for a couple skeevers and a trap or two.” And with that, we moved on in silence.
We reached Bleak Falls Barrow by late afternoon. Simply by seeing the tomb, its size was impressive. A long flight of stairs led to the black-stone mausoleum. In front of the burial ground the courtyard was tiered, with lookouts extending over the mountain’s side. We walked closer when I saw a female archer walking on patrol along the lookouts. I quickly ducked behind a pile of rocks, but Sven was to slow. I heard the archer call out from where she’d seen us.
“Dammit,” Sven muttered while removing his bow and moving away. Peeking around the rock pile, I see another big Nord with a two-handed hammer. He saw me, so there is no point in attempting to ambush him. With my own hammer ready, I rushed out to meet him. Sven fired an arrow at the archer who’d spotted us, and forces her to take cover.
The big Nord swung his hammer and I leap back, feeling the vacuum in its wake. He groans and attempts to recover from his swing, but I make my attack before he regains his balance. My own hammer crashes into his side and bones pop beneath the furs he is wearing. Why wear fur as armor, hmm? While lying upon the ground, his broken body croaks for mercy. I lift my hammer high and bring it down one last time.
Sven ran forward as the archer up high took a few clumsy shots while Sven attacked the third bandit. The bard lifted his flimsy shield to deflect a knife attack and also managed to catch an arrow with it. I realize that he could handle the knife wielding bandit if I could stop the archer from taking easy shots at him.
She pulled another arrow from her quiver as I took the first step of the black stairs. She knew what my plan was and I became her target. Unfortunately for me, she had a far better aim than the wood elf back at the tower. The force of her arrow staggered me when it pierced through my shoulder. It hurt with such intensity that the world blurred.
My plan had worked, even if it hurt like being hit with a firebolt. Sven had dispatched the other bandit and was climbing the stairs behind me, his bow rising up as I closed on her. She attempted to load another arrow but Sven’s arrow was faster, hitting her just above the belt. With her arrow lodged in my back, I lifted my hammer high overhead. The pain was amazing. Despite my agony, I brought the hammer down, and felt mangled meat collapse beneath my blow.
The twisted corpse was nearly unrecognizable. I turned away feeling sick. I had a hard time justifying this. Sure, she’d attacked me with a bow—she chose to be my enemy. Still, smashing a young woman into broken bones and jelly isn’t right. The pain in my shoulder was crippling, but the shame in my soul weighed worse.
But, as Sven pulled the arrow out of my body, I changed my mind. That dumb dead girl had joined a gang of highwaymen. I screamed when Sven removed her arrow, and I realized she probably put arrows in less deserving fools. She’d never do it again, I stopped her. Her days of plaguing unsuspecting victims ended with me. As Sven used a vial of healing ointment on my wound, I vowed to never feel sorry for any dead bandit, no matter how pretty, or young.
Live by the sword, so be it––then die by the sword.
I admit I love using the Screenshots from the game to help assist this story. If I was writing this chapter in a book, I’d have needed to get technical with describing the architecture of Bleak Falls Barrow. It would have taken an entire page to do it right. Thank God for Easy Street.
This entry is also a nice piece of foreshadowing for my plans with Strumbul as well. Things are definitely looking up. My publicist thought I should lave this here — link.