This is part of an ongoing series. If you want to start at the beginning, go here.
early 2012 and I'm playing The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Why? Because
I (finally) can. Join me on my path to glory and the stabilization of
the status quo in almost-Tolkien-land.
I leave the city early in the morning and walk up to the stables right outside the walls. I have planned a route cross-country, not taking the road back to the capital but to go west to the coast, follow it a while and then cut across the wilderness southwards until I get to Kvatch. As I am no slower in the countryside than on the road, I figure this may save some traveling-time and also raise the potential for random adventure. But it would be a lot faster if I had a horse, though I haven't seen anyone ride in this world yet. I talk to the dark-elf raking manure in one of the stables and she tells me to talk to the guy inside if I want to buy a horse. She's kinda pretty so I try social combat on her, a mechanic I haven't understood at all whatsoever and of course fail horribly. I have no idea what winning would've gotten me anyways. She tells me she isn't impressed and anything else would have surprised me. Then I talk to the guy inside and he basically laughs me out of the building for not having 2500 gold for a horse. Later I'll find out that spending money on a horse would have been pointless anyways but we'll get there eventually.
I set out along the road. Wolves attack from time to time but are easily subdued. I decide that once I get to Kvatch I'll have to get my stuff repaired again. The blade dulls incredibly quickly and let's not even get to my leather armour, iron leg-protectors and leather shield. Did I mention yet that I find the tiering of materials in these types of games rather stupid? No? I'll explain more later. It'd spoil one of the better moments of this trip if I did it now.
I follow the road until it ends and then keep going towards what looks like the coast on the map. The terrain is hilly, almost mountainous and there is shrubbery and trees everywhere. Then I run into an invisible wall. This is shocking as I thought there were none in the game. After all, according to the map, the coast should be right over this hill – maybe 300 meters away and the game tells me I cannot travel onwards here and must turn around. Instead, I turn 90 degrees to the left and follow the coastline at some distance. Maybe one of the expansions will finish this road later or something. I climb the mountains that lie in between me and Kvatch and get attacked by wolves again and again. As theses are lone wolves, not packs of them, they stand no chance but I guess in the long run my equipment would fall apart. Then there is a structure ahead, clearly man-made. It's some sort of shrine, not on the map, not even appearing on the map when I reach it. A secret? I look around and find left-overs of a camp-site. There is a quiver with... SILVER arrows? And a book. I read it, without picking it up (at this point I hadn't yet noticed I COULD pick it up), skimming through the text. Some frantic scribbling about a ritual hunt having gone back. My mind is racing at this point.
A ritual hunt? Silver arrows? All these wolves. I get a feel of dread. What if there are werewolves here? I read about vampires in some other text in this game. I heard about becoming a werewolf in Skyrim. Of course, I sort-of panic. Just sort-of, as I do still have a plan. I won't rest (I can't anyways, as I find out, as there are enemies around) until I reach Kvatch and I equip the silver arrows instead of my regular iron ones. Maybe that will give me a chance if a werewolf attacks. I doubt it but it feels like the crucifix that I'd clutch if there were vampires in my basement. I start jogging south.
I get sprung by wolves several times, one time one spawns right behind me. I have at his point switched to third person view to see such things coming. I don't even sheath my weapon, sacrificing speed for combat-readiness. The wolf that spawned right behind me has startled me and I begin becoming paranoid about them being werewolves. After I kill it, I hack at the body for a while, fully expecting it to get back up but it doesn't. I move on as it's getting dark and I get a little anxious to reach Kvatch. I need a blacksmith and an inn. I approach Kvatch from the North and then notice that yes, these are serpentines in the road leading up to that city from the South and yes, it is on a mountain that I now have to walk all the way around. When I reach the fires of a camp at the foot of Mount Kvatch what I hear there is rather disheartening.
I had hoped for shelter, a warm meal and someone to fix my equipment, which is once more about to fall apart. While the latter can be found in this refugee-camp, the city is apparently under attack by a force from hell and these are the people who got away in time. They tell me that there is a road-block up on the hill in front of the castle, the remainder of the guard holding the demons off from pursuing the refugees. Also, Martin the monk, secretly the only surviving heir to the throne of the Emperor is still in the burning city, I hear he has holed up in a chapel together with some others. As time seems to be of the essence, Martor has the orcish woman who seems to be the local blacksmith repair his equipment and then storms up the winding road to the city. No rest for the wicked, I guess.