And so begins the adventures of Grognak the orc and Fenris the wood elf…
In the land of Tamriel it is commonly held that it is dangerous to go off of the road. “Off the road is nothing but trouble, and trouble brings nothing but trouble,” you could hear a barkeep say sternly all across the land. This notion was commonly held to keep the children safe and the merchants from losing their caravans to bandits. But the truth of the matter is that if you don’t leave the road every once in a while you lose sight of the adventures that await you. You would never see the sun set from the top of the Red Mountain in Morrowind, nor the sands of Hammerfell glisten in the moonlit night.
This is the beginning of a journey of two friends who did what no wise man would do, and go off of the beaten path in search of adventure.
Our Tale begins in the wilds of Skyrim, somewhere between Morthal and Solitude, two adventurers were struggling against the biting north winds. The smaller of the two adventurers, a wood elf, pulled his hood tighter and bent over to keep the wind from hitting his face.
“And you’re absolutely sure we’ll be out of this storm soon?” He yelled over the howling winds.
The muscular orc grunted. “Don’t worry your pretty little head about it milk drinker, we’re just taking a little shortcut.” He ducked his head and continued to trudge through the land of ice and snow.
“What I’m worried about is when we cross that!” The wood elf shouted back as they looked over the half frozen lake that stood before them.
“Oh…” came the orc’s voice in return. He gazed at the lake thoughtfully as he stroked his knotted beard.
The two had met in Whiterun a few weeks back, at the Bannered Mare inn. Both had been enjoying a night of drinking and singing when Grognak the orc, who had been working as the smith to the Jarl, had mentioned that he was sick of not seeing the rest of Tamriel. He was still powerfully built and stronger than most orcs half his age, but he was growing older and was tired of only seeing what could be seen from the top of Dragonsreach.
“Well I can take you wherever you desire to go my friend!” Fenris replied in a half-shout, half- hiccup from the ale that he had been drinking. The skinny wood elf raised his near empty drink in salute to his new friend, touching the mug to the red war paint above his amber colored eyed.
And thus began the adventure.
First, over the next few weeks Grognak finished up all the projects that he had before, making sure that his apprentice was ready to take over when he left for the great wide open world. He put on his steel armor and grabbed a mighty war hammer that he had forged for himself. The weapon was too heavy for any man to carry and he could crush a head with it in one swing.
His companion was a bit more subtle in his attire. Instead of heavy steel armor, he wore a plain cloak with leather underneath, and pouches strapped across his chest for easy access to the herbs and food that he had collected. On his back was a simple hunting bow and a quiver of steel arrows that were always in common supply and easy enough to make.
The two set off at midday to no fanfare and no goodbyes, just the normal sounds of the city. As they got to talking about what to do in case of bandits they realized that they could not be more unalike. Grogak preferred to face his problems up front and deal with an attacker with the hammer he had strapped across his back, while Fenris preferred to sneak up on a threat to dispose of it with his bow, or skirt around danger all together. But with a headstrong orc at his side, he knew that sneaking away was no longer an option.
The two were also unalike in the ways that they had earned their livings. Grognak had been raised in the Orcish stronghold in Mor Khazgur near Solitude, where he had proved himself as a great forgemaster and was given steady employment by the Jarl of Whiterun. Fenris on the other hand earned his coin as a hunter and had gained a bit of renown over the land of Skyrim. He had been raised in Falkreath hold and had never been outside of the province in all his life.
As the days went by, the two hadn’t been close to any real trouble. The closest they came to danger had been when a wolf tried to sink its teeth into the solid steel on Grognak’s leg (the wolf was promptly put down and they ate well that night).
However they soon realized that it was taking quite a long time if they followed the roads, so they took a shortcut north of Morthal that eventually led them to their current predicament of facing a half-frozen body of water north of the city.
“I see Solitude in the distance,” Grognak said as they looked across the icy water.
“Oh good!” Fenris said sarcastically. He squinted his eyes against the wind, scouting for a bridge, but there was none to be found. Instead he spied a small boat that would perhaps fit the two of them, tied up near the shore. “You do know how to swim right?” he asked the orc, grinning.
Grognak scowled at this comment and glowered at the wood elf.
The two made their way carefully down to the boat and began to untie it. Once the boat was loose, Fenris tossed an oar to his orcish companion and winked. “This will be a tight fit, so no funny ideas.” They clambered in and began to row.
The lake was big, and they had to fight the blowing snow and ice. It took about an hour to get across the water, and by the time they reached the opposite shore both men’s arms were sore and tired. They decided to set up camp right away, and soon drifted into a deep sleep.
Suddenly, in the middle of the night, both men awoke to loud howls and swords to their throats.
“And just what are you two doing all the way out here?” the man in charge asked. He paused as he looked at the elf’s face. “Feris?”
The orc looked confusedly at both of them.
“Hello there Alaric…” Fenris said almost reluctantly. The men lowered their swords as the bandit leader sat down next to the fire to talk.
To be continued…