The below passage is in character – an out of character entry follows it
“Lydia, what do you think of Iona?”
My housecarl shrugs. “Good training, and she she has seen her fair share of scraps, but not as tough as she thinks.” Lydia pulls a face. “Are you thinking of asking her to accompany you?”
“Surely you would like a rest.” Lydia does not dignity that with a reply. After a few moments, I chuckle. “No, not seriously. I just want to know her soundness.”
Lydia’s stance settles. “I have spoken to her for only an hour or so my liege.”
“I know that Lydia.” I saw, flat. She accepts the rebuke.
“You are her thane, as you are mine. She knows little, but has heard about how we killed the dragon at the south gate some weeks back. She knows are you someone special. She is yours.”
I smile. “What are her thoughts on the war?”
“She defaults to the Stormcloaks – but then Riften is a Stormcloak ally and that is how her loyalties have been directed.” A look of distate passes across Lydia’s face. “Jarl Laila is an ineffective inspiration.”
“Jarl Balgruuf does not yet choose to stand with or against the Empire, but he does stand for Skyrim. We all knew that. I don’t think Iona knows what Jarl Laila stands for.”
I nod slowly. “Good. Tell her what she needs to know, and I will let you judge where that line is. As to my needs, I need her to stay here, guard this house, and let us know what is happening in The Rift. Tell her also I will ask Mjoll to help further her training.”
“Yes my liege.” Lydia turns, and walks down the stairs. I lean back into my chair and glance around the upper floor of this new house. A curious combination, dining room and bedroom upstairs together with no barrier or separation. Nevetheless Honeyside is a pleasant surprise, an unexpected bonus of this journey through the Rift. Of coure tomorrow I have to go north and help Mercer track down his old flame. That was rather less agreeable, but I can see the necessity. I can only it does not delay my arrival in Korvunjund for too long.
I pour myself a goblet of mead. Really the Thieves’ Guild is in something of a mess. Mercer appears to have been a most ineffective leader, but replacing him just now would be foolish in the extreme. No, this crew of cheats needs to be lead to the change I desire, to choose it themselves rather than have the change forced upon them.
From below I hear the murmur of voices, Lydia and Iona talking. Becoming Thane here was not in my plan for today, but it serves a purpose. Hopefully I will be able to obscure my Imperial connections longer because of it. Speaking of Imperials, once we have retrieved this Jagged Crown I need to return to Markath and tell Muiri I have killed her former lover and friend. I lick my lips. Tell her that Alain died begging like a dog, and that Nilsine … that I mocked her with her sister’s death before re-uniting them, letting father and mother wake to a daughter slaughtered in her own bed, blood spattered everywhere. Torbjorn asked me days ago to find an Amulet of Arkay for him … now would, I think, be a good time to complete that little errand, now he and his wife have two daughters to mourn.
I finish the wine. Time perhaps to perfect some enchantments before I rest.
I am now level 51 in Skyrim, and so unlocking the Steam Achievement “Master”. Yet there is still so much to do. I had a number of quests leading me to Windhelm and Riften, which I decided to do before continuing with the Civil War quest “The Jagged Crown”. What I did not expect was one of these has resulted me being named Thane of Riften and getting my second town-house. My character is becoming quite the property magnate now with town-houses in Whiterun and Riften, an estate with a Manor on Hjaalmarch, and title to an estate (with no building as yet) in The Pale. Logistically though this is a great boon, as it gives me a place to stash various gear and materials I gather. The house can also be outfitted with both an Enchanting and Alchemy facilities. All to the good.
Becoming a Thane though has resulted in my fourth Housecurl. I have, essentially, lost count of the number of potential followers I now have scattered across Skyrim. The game leaves plenty of options for companions, I will give it that – and yet at first blush it does not seem that Iona would be any different from Lydia. It almost seems like an excess.
In terms of development I have my first combat skill levelled now to 100 – One-Handed Weapons. For most regular fights now, or against less able opponents, I am now tending to use the Conjuration Spell Bound Battleaxe. This is enabling me both to level Conjuration and Two-Handed weapons. Indeed I am making some effort to raise all the magic skills, though Restoration and especially Illusion are proving tricky to do. I am not putting any Perks into these secondary skills – Perks for me I currently reserved for my remaining primary combat skills (Block and Heavy Armour) and then for Enchanting. Once I have my Enchanting to 100 I am going to plough some perks into it and then craft and Enchant a set of Daedric Armour.
Mostly though this game still has the wonderful ability to disrupt my plans and ensure I start running off on a quest in a totally different direction that one I envisaged. Wonderful.