27 April 2012

Playing Oblivion: Day 3 part 5 – Garlic Run

This is part of an ongoing series. If you want to start at the beginning, go here.

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. 

As I leave Skingrad, I spot something burning ahead of me by the roadside. I take my time and check out the plants by the roadside, none of them being nightshade. When I come closer, my greatest fears come true: The burning is actually a portal to hell. Another Oblivion-gate has opened, right here in front of the city of Skingrad. As I get closer, which I must as it is right by the road, the sky turns red and, to someone with Martors disease, alarmingly bright. I decide to ignore the gate for now and move on, when I suddenly find myself surrounded by three goblins attacking from all sides. Martor fights off the ambush with an alarming lack of efficiency, his shield breaking in the process. Once more, I have neglected weapon-repair and now I pay the price. Badly injured, I manage to fend off the creatures and then see, that it wasn't an ambush but me, distracted by the hellgate, having stumbled into their campsite.

Anyway, Martor uses his last repair-hammer to fix up most of his equipment, the shield remains broken though. For now, I decide, it's the claymore only, keeping the katana for that vampire-boss, if need be. My equipment is falling apart and I have no legal way of getting it fixed, now that I'm out of tools. My morale is dropping steeply. I will run out of equipment, if I stay out of human society much longer. This is bad, as I do not intend to steal. Martor travels onwards but finds nothing but discrimination in the Capital. Argamirs house, where I had previously looked for clues regarding his illegal acquisition of suspiciously cheap wares, yields quest-related informations in the basement (which I can finally pick open), but no garlic. The people of Skingrad are supposed to have garlic all over, seeing as their government is a vampire, so back to Skingrad it is, after spending another day in the entrance area of a pub that doesn't sell me anything, let alone garlic.

Back to Skingrad, I decide to try myself as a burglar. Looking at the map I spot a house that has a back-entrance away from the main-street. Good thing. I have gathered some lockpicks from all the bandits I killed during the soul-gem part of the quest so I sneak to the door and successfully pick it (still not getting the mini-game, I click on „automatic try“, breaking lockpicks until the door is open, as usual). Inside things seem a bit derelict but there are some vegetables lying around so I am hopeful. I sneak through the hallway, when I am suddenly sprung by both, a skeleton and a one-armed zombie. It turns out to be quite a tough battle in the tight hallway but in the end, Martor stands over his freshly slain undead foes victoriously. After all the noise from the fight, I figure it's no use to keep sneaking so the rest of the building is quickly searched. There is a door on the upper floor that I can't open. There is debris and cobwebs all over the place. There is no garlic. What do I do?

I hatch a stupid/crazy plan, that's what I do. I go to the tavern where they don't want to give me a room and wait until it's daytime. Then, with the sun up and killing me, I run to the general store. Right infront of it, I cast my vampiric invisibility spell. Inside I plunder all of their garlic, then I run back out to the tavern to wait for nightfall again. At least my garlic-problem is now solved. Annoyed at still not having found any nightshade, I check the wiki again and there I find out what went wrong: The translation of the game once more made a quest unplayable, this time for real. See, nightshade, as a plant, is „Nachtschatten“ in direct translation to German, which is what the witch told me to find. Too bad that the plant is translated as „Tollkirsche“ everywhere else in the game, including when you find it in the wild to pick it. I could now whine and bitch about how the translation is a total hack-job with apparently no-one ever checking the big picture, instead a bunch of different people translating the thing line-by-line with no knowledge of the rest of the lines. But I won't because the game has, at this point, made me jaded enough that these things no longer surprise me.

I leave Skingrad in the dark and search the surrounding countryside for Tollkirsche. I find two plants quickly, near a robber who tries to kill me but loses his life instead. Searching around for another while, I do find another hellgate, this one on the opposite side of Skingrad in relation to the last one. Are the denizens of Oblivion targeting Skingrad for destruction next? This will have to wait until I'm human again. I don't even know how a vampire reacts to the open sky in hell and I don't intend to find out. After some more tedious search I finally find enough Tollkirsche to finish that part of the quest. After finding a rather ominous-looking runestone that, like the way-shrines, I'm sure has some significance for the game, I fast-travel to the fort by the river near the campsite, to get closer to the place where I know the cave of Hindaril the master vampire lies. I get there in the nick of time, half dead from sunlight at 8:22 am I enter the place to wait out the day. Tomorrow, Martor thinks to himself, I shall slay that vampire and bring the witch all of the ingredients. The number of my days as a vampire are counted. Which is good, as my equipment is falling apart...

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