17th Last Seed, 4E 201:
My name is Farilon, and I’ve just arrived in Skyrim’s port city of Solitude, having departed from Sunhold on Summerset Isle. I am determined to outdo my jackass of a cousin, Lathenil, who you probably know as the author of the Rising Threat series. Truth be told, he is a lying fraudster, never once in danger from the Oblivion Crisis. But that is a story for another day. I’ve arrived in Skyrim to begin exhaustive research on the alchemical properties of the local flora and fauna, and from this research provide practical formulae from commonly available materials. I do not intend to go up against sabrecats, hagravens, giants, mammoths, or anything more menacing than a mudcrab or skeever, and I ask that you, reader, do not either. No potion is an acceptable substitute for not putting yourself in danger in the first place.
(Player’s note: Farilon is a novice alchemist with a chip on his shoulder but little experience to his name. He’s almost entirely incapable of taking care of himself; he buys his food from the inn and would not handle sleeping outside well at all. He starts the game in Solitude thanks to the “Live Another Life” mod with a starting inventory of 25 gold, 2 bottles of water, a loaf of bread, a sweetroll, a small dagger, and one set of fine clothes. Mods are tracking his hunger, thirst, sleep deprivation, warmth, dampness, basically all the things that one would really have to deal with in life. He starts with 30 Alchemy, 26 Illusion, and 21 Conjuration, but no spells. He will likely be spending some of his earnings on buying spells from the court wizard in Solitude.)
Solitude is a solid-looking town of typical Nordic architecture, the guards and the commoners at the wharf are nearly all dressed, at least partially, in furs. Rumors abound in the Isles about Nords being just a step above howling barbarians, and I’m none too impressed so far. I make my way up the quay and into the city proper, when the gate guard tells me to keep my nose clean, or I will end up like Roggvir. I have no idea who or what a Roggvir is until I enter the city just in time for a public beheading! Apparently some tumultuous events have occurred while I was at sea; the high king of Skyrim was killed by one Ulfric Stormcloak. There was some babbling about duels and the old way and other archaic nonsense before the former gate guard was removed from his head. I could not bring myself to watch as the headsman swung the axe. Shaken, I look around and find the two buildings I was looking for are right near the gate, the inn and the town apothecary. I introduced myself to the innkeeper and the proprietor of the apothecary, one Angelique. After a leisurely meal of cooked beef, I now head back out the gate to begin harvesting ingredients.
I have arrived in the town of Dragon Bridge, just down the main road from Solitude. I have harvested numerous mountainous flowers, red, blue and purple. I also picked common lavender, some puffy thistles and a handful of berries, which a local identified as Snowberries. A deadfall tree was home to some brown mushrooms, Mora Tapinella. The locals all seem to be involved in the lumber industry, should money ever become tight I may be able to chop wood or make myself useful in some other way. I make it to be mid-afternoon, so I have ample time to return to Solitude and begin concocting potions.
(Player’s note: I am adding waits to his attempts at alchemy; it will take him 30 minutes per potion crafted, regardless of success. As his skill increases, the number of potions per hour he can make will go up.)
I write from the table in the inn, well into the late hours of my first day in Skyrim. My initial attempts at combining ingredients were, to be blunt, disastrous. As I had an overabundance of the purple mountain flowers, I decided to try combining them with each item in my satchel and catalog the effects. The first attempt was a failure with no apparent effects. So was the second, and the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh. But the eighth attempt yielded an interesting sample! Mixing these common purple flowers with Snowberries appears to have properties suitable for resisting the cold, a huge boon given the climate here in northern Skyrim. Angelique, who was watching me toil for hours, noted my successful brew. “That’s a fine potion you’ve put together,” she remarked, and paid me 26 gold pieces for it. I don’t necessarily want to consider that 26 gold pieces for four hours of laborious alchemy puts me at a distinct loss compared to the simple lumberjacks down in Dragon Bridge. No, I’m doing this for the good of all, or at least I must tell myself that occasionally. The innkeeper is an exercise in frustration; I find his food to be good and reasonably priced, but his drinks are exorbitant. Not wanting to part with 16 of my hard-earned gold pieces, I toured the city looking for a fountain, and did find one, and filled my water bottles for tomorrow. I also found some new plants and ingredients in the city, including nightshade, which all men know possess strong poisonous properties; best to save these until I have a known use for them.
I go to bed. I do not intend to leave the city tomorrow, instead studying the fruits of my harvesting from today.
(Player’s note: I intend to skip ahead several days with the next chapter.)