It's 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.
So I have to do this whole slow-walking sewer-section again. Okay, might as well practice this little dashing-attack I noticed happening whenever running and pushing the left mouse button for a longer time. Martor goes for a yelling attack-lunge whenever I do that and I go berserk against some crabs and giant rats for practice. Baurus (the Blade I'm stuck with here) is not much of a help here, yelling “This one is mine!” at some point and then proceeding to not draw his sword and look at the rat that is attacking me. Martor rolls his eyes, draws his own weapon and cuts the rat down himself. Typical Baurus: Spouting big words but not following them with any sort of deed. He probably only got his position as the Imperial bodyguard for looking snappy in his Blade uniform…
So once more we get to the door beyond which lies the table where we're to meet with the cultist. This time I convince Baurus that I should be the one meeting with him, so I go in there and sit down at the table. A man appears and I get up to greet him. He yells at me that I should sit down and if I can't even follow simple orders. I sit down and he repeats the request. Before I can come up with a coy comeback, two more cultists appear on the bridge spanning the top half of the room and yell that they see someone else. So Baurus wasn't much better at hiding than I had been. I get up and draw my sword. As Baurus is facing two of the assassins and I have only one of them, I run up the stairs to help my fellow Blade. The fight rages on for a while and in the end, all three assassins are dead but so is Baurus. Again.
I fail to feel too bad for this, as Baurus has been throwing around his weight a bit too much for my taste, bullying me where he could before I was with the Blades and also not seeming all that competent. He seemed more interested at hanging out in that tavern than saving the Empire. Confirming my suspicions about him, I find a bottle of dark-beer on his body. Typical. Writing this down, I realize I should have looked for his sword but I didn't so that's that.
Martor and I decide that going after the cultists now that we still have the element of surprise on our side and (after the obligatory looting of bodies) go to where the cultists came from, disguised as one of them (I had been lugging around one of their robes and one of their hoods ever since the beginning tutorial – waste of space as these guys come and drop like flies). Disappointingly, there are only two shabby beds and some random stuff in lockers. Beyond that these sewers appear to be once more goblin-country, complete with cauldrons full of human skulls. Goblins never were much of a problem for Martor in the first place but by now he can just swat them aside. Massacring another part of the Imperial Cities secret goblin population I seek for an exit out of the sewers.
Which is harder than I had anticipated. I change to different parts of town quite often and it's clear that I am lost. I find a ladder up into somebodies basement and go up there. I pick open a chest, a grave mistake as I'm quickly out of picks and now I can't open the basement door to get the hell out of here. Now in the real world, Martor would've just had to hammer against that door until the frightened owners of the house called the guards who would let him out. He'd then explain to them that he is with the Blades and this is Imperial business and that he'll be on his way now. Sadly, I don't have this option. Crestfallen I go back to wandering the sewers.
I have no idea how long I run around in the dark, killing goblins. I open flood-gates and crawl through. I climb up and down stairs. I end up at doors that are locked with hard locks and I have no hope of opening them with the three lock picks I found on dead goblins. Then, due to some sort of miracle, I find myself back up in the basement I had first ended up in. This time I have three lock picks and I can open the door. I fully expect there to be either someone in the house, calling the guards on me the moment I come out of the basement or, if that is not the case, the front door to be locked with me having yet another impassable obstacle between me freedom. I am lucky though, no one sees me and the door is unlocked. Both, Martor and I sigh with relief as we step onto the street once more.
So, my local contact with the Blades is dead but I have all four of the cultists books now. I go sit on a bench by the arena and start actually reading these ramblings for the first time, hoping to find some hints as to where to find their secret shrine. I find nothing I could piece together to any sort of location on my map. I eat some food and then head to Secret U to meet with that expert on Daedric cults again, Tar-Meena the lizard. Getting there she tells me that she'll look into the books and I should come back tomorrow. It's getting dark already so I decide to screw it and just sit down in the courtyard of the university and sleep until the morning. Then I go right back into Tar-Meenas place in the lobby.
The expert on Daedric cults tells me that it has something to do with the first words in paragraphs of the books but she can't tell me more until tomorrow. I decide to try it myself and walk out to the inn just outside the city. There I overhear a conversation between the innkeeper and an imperial legionnaire. Apparently one of the provinces of the empire has just abolished slavery and freed the animal-folks. That comes as quite a surprise to me as I haven't noticed any sort of slavery or racial tension in the game yet. But then I'm a white, male human so I guess I wouldn't know, would I? The legionnaire thinks that freeing slaves is troublesome and I dislike him instantly. I sit down and study the books. In real life, I get out a piece of note-paper and start writing down all the first words of paragraphs from all the four books. Then I start crunching these things in my head. Being normally quite adapt on pattern-recognition I compare first letters, word-combinations and so on and find nothing. Either I wrote down the wrong words ore there is something I completely miss or the localization has screwed this riddle over. I don't know but I strongly suspect the latter.
Now the game has prompted me from time to time that my horse is situated at a stable outside the city walls so I go there to get it. After reading on a loading-screen that plants I harvest regrow after a couple of months I have gotten the nagging feeling that I'm still going at this way to fast. I mean how long can this main quest be? So perhaps I should set out to adventure a bit more, before returning here and annoying that lizard-lady again. I ride onto the bridge spanning the lake from the Imperial City Island to the mainland and stand there, considering…