title="Permanent Link to The Elder Strolls, Part 8: A Mammoth Decision">
In the last entry, Nordrick was faced with a question we've all struggled with at one point in our lives: "Should I marry a filthy homeless man?" After a great amount of heated internal debate, hours upon hours of soul-searching, and the thoughtful splitting of many cords of wood, I have finally reached a decision. I'm not going to marry Angrenor Once-Honored.
It all boils down to this: deep inside his thick, ugly head, Nordrick has a dream: a place to call home. Angrenor Once-Honored can give me a lot: companionship, happiness, comfort, a variety of social diseases brought on by unprotected hobosex in an unsanitary public thoroughfare... but he can't give me a home. And so, I have to turn my back on the one man to ever love me. I'm off to Whiterun.
Before I leave, though, I feel like I should try to do something for poor Angrenor, who walks endlessly through the frigid, snowy streets of Windhelm without a penny to his name or a pair of sleeves to his, uh, arms. I buy some fine clothes and boots at the general store, and drop them in his path, hoping he'll pick them up. He sees this, and runs over to ask if he can have them. Aw. He's so nice, you guys! I give him permission and he picks them up, though I'm a little disappointed that he doesn't actually put them on. I was hoping to leave Windhelm with the image of Angrenor strutting about in some classy duds. Alas.
Jasper and I begin our stroll to Whiterun, following, as we always do, the river. Aside from some wolves and one giant spider, we make it through the day without much hassle. As evening approaches, we climb a long hill and come upon two towers connected by a bridge straddling the river. A bandit woman rushes over and tells me there's a toll to pass safely. She wants 200 gold, but I talk her down to 50 (with my honeyed words). I figure we're cool at that point, and I spend a few minutes using her cooking pot and looking at the tower. She eventually grows irritated and attacks, but I calm her back down by killing her. I search her body, but my gold isn't there. Did she eat it?
I try to leave but the remainder of the bandits hiding in the towers attack, one by one, and Jasper keeps running off into the tower to protect me. After a long, calamitous fight, so frenzied that no decent screenshots of it were taken, four or five bandits lie dead, including one on the far side of the river who I bring down with a couple well-placed bowshots. That was pretty gruesome, but at least we have a place to spend the night.
Another day of quiet walking (except for Jasper's continuous barking, which is starting to grate) and a night spent at a Stormcloak camp, Whiterun finally comes into view. Sort of. It's a bit gloomy today. Reaching the city gate, the guards don't want to let me in because there's some dubious talk of a dragon in the area. I'm pretty sure a locked gate won't stop a dragon, but whatever. I bribe the guard and he lets me inside.
Whiterun! Now, this is a city. Forget the grim, claustrophobic alleys of Windhelm and the shoddy, jerk-filled wooden walkways of Riften. Whiterun's avenues are wide, bright, and clean, and the people seem mostly pleasant. I start my day off at the blacksmith's, where Adrianne Avenicci invites me to learn the trade by doing some basic crafting for her. I'm a pretty accomplished blacksmith by now, but I play along, and make her a dagger and helmet as if it's my first time, hoping she'll be so grateful she'll marry me. While she's impressed with my skills, she asks another favor: would I bring a sword to her father who works in the castle? I agree, and roughly three seconds later I realize she's already married to the guy who runs the weapon shop. Great. Half the morning gone for nothing.
I stroll around the streets of Whiterun, with Jasper following and barking noisily (seriously irritating now), looking for anyone else who needs safe, reasonable help with something. Once again, everyone needs something. An elderly woman says her son was abducted by Imperials, and asks me to meet her at her house so she can give me all the details. Well, I am aroused by the mention of a house, but I'm trying to avoid any Imperial entanglements. Another woman I speak with is being stalked by some guy who wants to marry her, and would like some help fending off the leering jerk. Seeing as how I'd only be helping her so I could stalk and leer at her, I'm probably not the right man for the job.
There's also an angry woman in the tavern who wants to fight me because she's been snubbed by the local fighter's guild, but I can't imagine telling our grandchildren how it was love at first fight (plus, she looks really tough), so I'll give that one a miss. A man and woman are bickering over a stolen sword, and the man wants to hire a mercenary to retrieve it from bandits. Sorry, I don't kill for money, plus it seems as if he's already married. Another woman named Ysolda is trying to break into the merchant business, and asks me to bring her a mammoth tusk to impress some Khajiit businessmen. Mammoths? I'm a hunter, sort of, but I prefer to stick to elk and deer. Mammoths are big and generally guarded by giants. Pass.
Although. I did see a mammoth tusk sitting on a bookcase when I rented my room at the inn. It turns out it's not for sale, and I'm not a thief, but the general store is only a few feet away from where I was just talking to... what's her name? Yolanda? Yosandra? Ysolda. Maybe they have a mammoth tusk I could just flat-out buy. I walk into the store and sure enough, the proprietor has a mammoth tusk for sale. It's pricey, but it saves me from having to go nose-to-trunk with a giant hairy enraged elephant, so it's probably worth it. I buy it and walk back over to... what the hell is her name again? Ysolda.
I give her the tusk, hoping she'll think I somehow managed to bravely kill a mammoth in the past two minutes, and wouldn't you know it, she suddenly notices I'm wearing an Amulet of Mara! Man. Love in Skyrim seems to involve not so much the performance of romantic deeds but the completion of routine business transactions. But, again, I'm just in this for the real estate, so who am I to criticize? Yosoldra (or whatever) wants to marry me! It's happening! Again!
I back off immediately. Sure, Yosanta (whatever!) seems nice, and I like a woman who swoons when you lug part of a deceased elephant a few feet over to her, but I need to scope her out. It's time to spend the day following her around like a horrid creep.
For a few hours, she walks around the merchant booths, chatting about this and that with the vendors. Okay, she's sociable. That's nice. I never saw Angrenor talk to anyone but me. In the afternoon, she stops chatting with the locals and walks off. I follow. She's heading for a small house behind the general store. Could it be? Oh, it could. Oh, it be.
Whatsername has a house! I follow her inside, because I want to make sure her house doesn't completely suck. Oh, and because I love her or something. It's a small place, to be sure, though there's a nice cooking pot, a bookcase, a table, a wardrobe, and a little dining nook with two chairs. After she has a snack, she leaves and I continue shadowing her. She walks all the way to the castle, twice, which gives me a chance to deliver Adrianne's sword to her father so it doesn't haunt my inventory for the rest of eternity. He gives me 20 gold. Ooooh, thanks. Now I can buy that carrot I've had my eye on.
The woman I'm in love with whose name I still can't really remember continues walking around town until dark, then heads to the tavern, where she drinks, eats, and enjoys the bard's performance, even stiffly (but politely!) clapping after each song. Around midnight, she heads home. She locks the door, so unfortunately I can't stand over her watching her sleep all night, but there will be plenty of time for that if we marry.
I head back to the inn for the evening. Time for the pros and cons list! It's pretty easy this time.
1) Likes me
2) Impressed by speedy mammoth bone delivery
3) Active social life
4) Eats and drinks
5) Enjoys music
6) Not filthy, homeless
NONE. Let's do this. In the morning, I find her by the merchant booths, and excitedly pop the question. She says yes. We are to be wed. Holy crap.
"You should arrange our marriage in Riften right away," she says and immediately walks away. Oh. Uh, sure. I'll just go arrange the entire wedding all by myself, shall I? Okay. I'll just do the whole thing. I just went out and killed a mammoth for you, as far as you know, and brought you a piece of it, but why shouldn't I also do all the wedding planning myself? I'll just do everything in this relationship! EVERYTHING! YOU'RE SUFFOCATING ME!
Okay, okay. Let's calm down. We had a little tiff, honey, but that's normal for two people about to marry, right? Perfectly normal. Couples in love grow and change and sometimes bicker, but it doesn't mean that their love is any less JASPER GODDAMNIT WILL YOU STOP BARKING? I'M TRYING TO HAVE AN IMAGINARY FIGHT WITH YOUR FUTURE MOTHER! SHUT! UP!
I'm sorry, Jasper, I'm sorry. It's just the stress of having to plan this wedding. You know, plan it all by myself. I guess it's getting to me.
So! Now I need to go all the way back to Riften to arrange our wedding (by myself). I think maybe I should have something nice to wear on my wedding day, though. Wouldn't that be appropriate? I head to the general store to find some fancy duds, but they aren't selling much besides "Clothes", unfortunately. I can't even find a nice new hat to wear. Then an idea strikes me: why not craft something for my wedding day? I recently increased my smithing skills to the point where I can craft Dwarven accoutrements: why not whang myself out some special ceremonial wedding armor?
It takes most of my savings, but I buy a bunch of Dwarfonium bars (or whatever) and presto! I've some gleaming new Dwarven armor to wear on my wedding day. I have to say, I'm a quite impressed with myself. Using my self-taught crafting skills and most of my personal fortune to build myself some ceremonial Dwarven wedding armor is a pretty damn romantic gesture to my bride-to-be. Slightly less romantic is the fact that wearing my new Dwarven armor makes me look like a giant fucking robot.
Not quite the dashing knight I was picturing, but it's the thought that counts. Now, all that's left is to clomp my way back to Riften, and plan the wedding (myself). Come on, Jasper! Stop your stupid barking and obey your robot overlord! Bleep bloop bleep!
Save the date! If I can make it back to Riften speedily and safely, you're all invited to the wedding of Nordrick and... shit, what the hell is her name?