On the way to Riften, Murderface walked into yet another small mining community. There was a young woman named Sylgja he attempted to flirt with by walking into her house unannounced and looking at all her stuff, but she had a job for him. The mining couple at Darkwater Crossing, the community he’d visited a few sessions ago where the woman was a retired adventurer who offered to go adventuring with him, turned out to be Sylgja’s parents and she had a bundle of letters to send them. She explained that normally she’d head over there herself, but she hurt her leg and it wasn’t healed yet.
This was an easy job for Murderface, who simply teleported there, handed the bundle over, received a bundle in return, and teleported back. Sylgja was pleased and gave him an emerald necklace for his trouble. Hmmmmm, Murderface thought. That seems like an exceptionally valuable token for a job this easy, and she sounds like she’s flirting with me! (i.e., her dialogue options were set to “politely friendly” instead of "hostile" or "standoffish.") Nothing else came of it, though, as she failed to respond to his best moves including walking around her house, touching all her stuff, jumping on the table, pushing her out of the way by walking into her, and banging into the doorframe on the way out.
Yep, Murderface is still ignorant of Skyrim marriage rituals. :)
Continuing on to Riften, Murderface got temporarily sidetracked when he ran into a farm under attack by frostbite spiders. The spiders had just killed the farmer, and Murderface thought his widow was inexplicably rude to him when he tried to talk to her--I mean, she was single now!--so he looted the farmer. And gained an amulet of Mara. Now, as far as Murderface knows, it’s just an amulet that improves speechcraft. We shall see. :)
Also, the farm contained two guards who really wanted to be one guard as they mourned the farmer:
Feeling that the new widow might be more responsive if he helped out on the farm, Murderface harvested her wheat for her, and attempted to grind it. The grindstone obligingly showed the Murderface-grinding-wheat animation, but no flour was produced, alas.
So Murderface sold the widow’s crops to her (an action I pretend to be her paying him for the farm labor), and set his feet again towards Riften.
And, finally, he made it! Avoiding several attempts by the game to force quests on him, Murderface deftly sidestepped conversations offered to him by various residents and made his way to the orphanage.
He walked in the front door and found Grelod berating her charges, promising extra beatings if they shirked their chores, but what really horked him off was when she told the kids that nobody wanted them, they’d never be adopted, and made them all repeat “We love you Grelod.”
He followed her into her room and, instinctively feeling this was something the children should not witness, turned and shut her door as she repeated “You’re trying to intimidate me! It’s not working!” Then he set her on fire and watched her burn.
Turning around to open the door, he found the kids had already opened the door and crowded in, saying whatever the Skyrim equivalent of “Cool! Aventino did it! She’s dead!” One girl, Runa Fair-Shield, looked at Murderface with wonder in her eyes and said, “Kill one person and you can solve so many problems! I wonder at the possibilities!”
Murderface likes this kid.
Grelod’s assistance, Constance, was screaming and running around in the background and wouldn’t calm down no matter how much Murderface tried to talk to her, so he eventually left the orphanage and went in search of a pub.
Inside the pub he found a priest of Mara haranguing the drinkers. Upon talking to him, Murderface discovered that the Amulet of Mara had a special quality: in Skyrim, to signal availability, one wears the amulet, which one can purchase from the temple for a modest fee. Courtship is based on deeds: once you perform a deed for someone, they may then consider you as a marriage partner once they see the amulet. Mindful of his recently gathered loot--the farmer and his new widow no longer needed the amulet since you can’t marry twice in the game, so Murderface might as well keep it--he declined to purchase one from the priest.
Murderface had a lot of thinking to do now, as he wasn’t sure he was ready for such a permanent commitment. In order to sleep on the decision (and because I knew it would kick off a specific quest), he dropped some coin on a night at the inn. Murderface trudged his weary way upstairs and fell into bed…
...to wake up from a drugged sleep an unknown amount of time later, in an abandoned shack in an unknown location, with the hooded visage of Astrid, the leader of the Dark Brotherhood of assassins, looming over him, offering him an interesting proposition.
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