One day, I will hatch a terrible plot that I shall then discard without another thought.
As I stare down at the back of a hulking gray giant wielding a small tree trunk as a club, I know that day has yet to come.
I sidle down the slope leading to the giant’s crude little nest. The blistering heat from the massive bonfire is a pleasant change of pace from the usual biting chill in the air. Dry grass and snow crunches under my boot every furtive step I make, though the ten foot tall dullard doesn’t notice.
I see a wooden chest and two open sacks made of animal skins. When I place my hand upon the weathered surface of the chest, I realize my hands are shaking. Either I grab the loot and run, or I get caught in the open and busy the giant with scraping me off of his club over the next few days. What in the name of Sheogorath’s left nut am I doing this for?
I unlatch the chest and turn my head to watch the giant as I begin to open it. The hinges creak in protest. The giant is occupied sniffing the underside of its club. Time to take a chance. With one good push I get the thing open wide and reluctantly tear my attention from the giant to take in my prize.
Several hides, a lockpick and nine septims. I don’t know what I expected. Luxurious clothing? Fine wines? Silks and gems? I should count myself lucky it wasn’t using the chest as its chamber pot. Ah, well. I’m sure some trader somewhere would appreciate a few fistfuls of mammoth cheese. At least, it looks like mammoth cheese, not that I’ve ever seen it. I move to a sack of the yellowish-green stuff and bury my arm in it up to the elbow.
I hear a low growl. The giant is staring straight at me. The giant brandishes its club and stomps the ground with all of its might. The ground shakes from the force of the creature’s display. Time to run! No, my arm is stuck to the elbow in a strange substance that I hope is mammoth cheese. Hm. A few desperate tugs free my arm and then I’m sprinting back toward the main road as fast as my legs could carry me and my lungs would allow.
I don’t stop to check behind me for about a hundred yards. The giant is staring at me from the camp. It hadn’t even begun to pursue. I laugh, feeling somewhat bad for the ugly thing. And then collapse into a fit of uncontrollable laughter.
I had a good laugh in the dirt for a time. Nothing this forsaken province has thrown at me has conquered me yet! I get up, dust myself off, then set to finishing my hunt. I conquer an elk and a mudcrab during the return trip to Whiterun.
I had plucked a few stray plants and insects during my hunt. With a wealth of materials, I set to work stitching together a small tent and crafting numerous potions. After selling the potions I crafted using the ingredients, I finally have enough septims to pay off a cheap mercenary.
Enough to pay off the mer who would be my only hope in retrieving the Dragonstone for the Jarl.
This completely ruins my mood.
I take my seat at Jenassa’s corner. She smirks. “You’ve returned.”
“You look like you could use a drink. I’ll buy you one, but you’ll have to add it to my expenses and reimburse me at a later date.”
I feel ill. “That won’t be necessary. If I give you the septims now, will you not mock me at every turn for crawling back to you?”
She smiles. “That’ll cost extra.”
I frown and slide a pouch of precisely five-hundred septims across the table to her.
She remained blessedly silent during the return trip to Riverwood. The sun was beginning to set by the time we arrived. True to his word, Balgruuf’s guardsmen patrol the streets and kept watch on the wall. It wouldn’t hold up against a dragon, but it was something.
I leave Jenassa at The Sleeping Giant Inn. I spend a lot of time milling about Riverwood, unable to focus on any single thing. Tomorrow I will be journeying to the mountains on a mission from the Jarl himself. I’m too distracted to do anything useful in this state and I decide against a quiet night spent drinking myself into a stupor in the corner. It’s time to turn in for the night. An hour passes before sleep takes me at last.
I awake suddenly. It’s completely dark. I walk into the common room. It’s empty. I peek outside. Still dark, though the sky had a faint but unmistakable lightness to it.
Moments later I’m knocking at Jenassa’s door. I knock again and again until I hear the rustle of bedcovers. Minutes pass before she opens the door, bleary-eyed and clad in a gray nightgown.
I nod to her. “Good morning. It’s time to go.”