Before I leave Weynon Priory, I poke my head into Jauffre‘s office, where he’s reading a book.
Sup, Jauff? To simpler times, my friend. To simpler times.
Actually, these are simpler times, and will remain so. With my lunkhead NPC wandering about refusing to get into adventures, there will be no adventure. Jauffre will be able to live out the remainder of his days in peaceful meditation or reading or whatever the hell he does when he’s not helping adventurers save the world.
In fact, by not beginning the main quest I actually have saved the world. Uriel Septim sits unmolested in Imperial City, and will remain there. The Oblivion Gates will never open. The world will remain in a state of static peace. I’ve saved the world from ending by avoiding the beginning of the end altogether. Nondrick is a hero simply by trying not to be one.
Well, whatevs! It’s time to check out Chorrol!
Chorrol is an brownish town west of Imperial City, its main export being fighters and main import being, apparently, bald dudes.
I should fit right in here.
I’m in the Oak and Crosier, a local inn, with affordable rooms (10 gp). I buy every cheap ingredient the Khajiit barkeep has, and continue my alchemy grind, making crummy potions just for the experience. Just up the road I find a shop called Northern Good and Trade, run by an Argonian, and sell my collected loot, which isn’t really very much except some wolf pelts and a couple pearls. It’s while I’m chatting up the shopkeep that something magical happens — my speechcraft odometer turns over and I’m prepared to gain another level with the coming night’s rest. Gosh! Level three, here I come!
First, though, gotta scope out the local scenery.
Oh, I see what I want, all right. Heh heh heh. Heh. Heh heh.
With that bit of creepery out of the way, I visit the chapel, and eavesdrop on a couple of conversations — one predictably about mudcrabs, and one about goblins, for a change [both YouTube links]. I enjoy how the dude shoots me a look as he shoulders past me in that second clip.
I meet the local beggar, named Lazy, and give him a coin for good karma, then run into an orc on the street named, well, let’s just say Something gro-Somethingelse. Something starts talking about someone named Reynald. Something ran into Reynald in another town, Cheydinhal, but Reynald acted as if he’d never met Something before, apparently, and this is so interesting to Something that, rather than just asking Reynald about it, he’s decided to tell me, a complete stranger, all the details.
And just like that, the game gives me a quest just for listening to Something’s boring blather. Great. Looks like Chorrol is just like every other town, just packed to the rafters with intrigue.
Maybe I’m taking the wrong approach. Maybe instead of starting off with Nondrick and having him avoid all the quests, I should have one character go through the entire game and complete every single quest possible, and then somehow load up Nondrick in that world, a world where all the adventure has been exhausted. Though that in itself sounds exhausting.
For now, I keep wandering around. I get my armor and weapons repaired, chat with some more locals, and wind up at The Grey Mare, a dive bar and inn. I walk around, talking to the various patrons.
And then. Something terrible happens. Something truly awful. Something that every NPC knows about but never thinks will happen to them.
There’s a man sitting in the corner, drinking, and I walk over to him before I realize who he is. He’s Reynald, the guy Something gro-Somethingelse was talking about. I talk to him.
I just talk. Nothing else. I don’t lead him on or tease him or anything. I don’t act like I’m looking for adventure. This is not my fault. Do you understand me? I did nothing wrong. I did nothing no other NPC wouldn’t have done in my place.
Still, unknowingly, just by speaking to this man, I’ve… I’ve updated the quest I didn’t even want to accept in the first place, the quest the orc gave me.
I can do nothing as this drunkard spills his story and then forces — forces — fifty gold into my inventory.
I feel so violated. I’ve been quest-molested. I’ve been quolested.
Now, I really don’t know what to do. I don’t want to go on this quest, I want to pick herbs and mix them with bread and cheese. But I’ve been forcibly paid already — am I now obligated to at least see it through? I can’t give the money back. I can’t reload a previous save, because it’s against my rules and plus I honestly can’t remember the last time I saved the game. I’m screwed.
Here are my options, as I see them.
1) Forget it. I didn’t want the quest, it was just rammed all up in me. I’ll just keep the gold and ignore this jerk and his stupid jerky crap.
2) Continue it. Look, I’m probably going to visit Cheydinhal at some point anyway. He’s not asking me to storm some vampire lair or slaughter a bunch of party guests one-by-one in a deadly game of cat and mouse. He just wants me to look for a dude who looks like him in another town.
3) Return the money. Very tricky, as I can’t just give it back to him. The best I could do is buy something worth 50 gold and reverse pickpocket (ie: plant) it into his inventory. This would satisfy me as refunding his quest advance, but it’s risky. Nondrick’s stealth isn’t much to speak of and if I get caught fiddling around in Reynald’s pockets I’ll get arrested.
Ach. Damn it. If I find myself in Cheydinhal, I’ll ask around. But I consider the day ruined.
To make myself feel better I visit the castle. There I find Countess Arriana, who seems a bit self-centered.
I hate people who refer to themselves in the third-person. Sadly, even after some chatting and a bribe, she won’t discuss the idea of selling me a house. Again, Nondrick is simply not famous enough. Guess Chorrol will never be home.
She leaves a moment after dissing me, so I take advantage of the opportunity and plant my butt on the throne… I even put on my furry crown.
That little bit of frivolity marks the end of the day, and I head to bed at the Oak and Crossier. Of course, bedtime means it’s time to level up! Here’s a look at how our lad has grown:
Looks pretty good. The mixing, chatting, and selling have given me some nice modifiers for personality and intelligence, both of which I need to be a good alchemist and salesman. I gotta remember, though, that the rest of the outside world is leveling right along with Nondrick. If I’m gaining levels, so are all the beasties roaming around guarding those ingredients I’m going to be picking. And I’m pretty sure the monsters aren’t putting their points into personality.
I might be getting smarter and more charming, but they’re getting deadlier. The world just got a little more dangerous.