Best of 2014 – A Letter From Skingrad

First Published: Feb 18, 2014
Voted For By: Chris, and Ed
Reason(s) For Vote:
“There aren’t enough of these on the internet. These types of articles are rare, in as much that they’re either half-arsed or just far too long, with the writer squeezing every last drop of content out of the source material. As I found when writing my Theme Hospital article last year, dipping into the source material rather than citing it in every sentence, is key and Lorna achieves that perfect balance here” – Chris

“I’ve never really bothered with the world of Elder Scrolls because I’m allergic to tedium, but A Letter from Skingrad is a hilarious and fascinating insight into what life would be like when you weren’t saying the same line over and over or being used as fodder for a particularly cruel player. Won’t somebody please think of the poor NPCs? It’s clever, brilliant, and one of the funniest articles we had on the site this year by miles.” – Ed

Dear Mother,
I’m well, thank you for asking. The temporary break from questing is doing me the world of good and the vampirism has cleared up nicely, thanks to a visit to the chapel (but that’s the last time I answer a classified ‘Looking For Love’ ad in the Black Horse Courier). I’m sending back the garlic enema kit you kindly enclosed with your letter – the fact that it had already been opened made me squeamish. What you and father get up to on your holidays on the Gold Coast is between the two of you and I’d rather any accoutrements remained that way, too.

After all the turmoil of moving house, I’m settling quite well in Skingrad. It’s certainly more affluent than Kvatch, although if one more person makes a joke about ‘hot property prices’, I’ll have to do something unpleasant with a minotaur horn. The decorating is going well, so far, but sadly I haven’t got around to putting up many family portraits just yet. I tried one yesterday – hammering the nail in was interesting to say the least. Unfortunately, the hammer that I’d purchased was loaded with a shock-damage enchantment. We found the nail three houses down in All Things Alchemical, pinning Falanu Hlaalu to the wall by his throat. To say that the neighbours have been a little off with me since that day is an understatement.

The city itself is very beautiful, although very snobby, at times. Skingrad, like every bloody city, is constantly competing with the others. The latest talk is of the Oblivion gates, which have opened up everywhere; as soon as one city gets one, they ALL want one. “Theirs is bigger than ours”, “why don’t we have Spider Daedra?” They’ll be sorry if they get their wish – the prices that Daedra-B-Gone charge for extermination is ridiculous, but that’s what happens when you get commercially-minded groups splintering off from the Fighters’ Guild. It’s always been like that though, the ridiculous competition. The latest rumour is that Cheydinhal is shipping in a load of snow from Skyrim in order to compete with Bruma. They want to make this year’s shortlist as hosts for the Cyrodiil Winter Games, despite being disqualified two years ago for dressing up three Frost Atronachs as team members. I’m just amazed that it wasn’t until they were on the winners’ podium, half-melted by the torches, that anyone actually noticed.

Speaking of Cheydinhal, they’ve plummeted in my estimation since the fuss at their Mages’ Guild. In my last letter, I told you that that poor mage Associate, Vidkun, had been murdered. Well, the body still hasn’t been removed from the well; people are talking about getting up a petition. The city’s cleansing and waste disposal people have a lot to answer for. No wonder the tea tastes so damn vile in the Mages’ Guild just now. You’d think they could have removed the body themselves, instead of just complaining about having to wash their vegetables in tainted water – insensitive, workshy snobs. I, along with all the other heroes who pass through the city, have taken to pilfering food from the Fighters’ Guild instead.

If all that wasn’t bad enough, more serious problems with the Mages’ Guild abound, with all this Necromancer business. Surely they should have seen that one coming. I mean, presumably someone had to order dozens of black robes for all those lunatics. What did the guilds think they were being used for? A satirical play about the history of the Dark Brotherhood? (not recommended, since the entire band of travelling Bruma Players were found at the bottom of Anvil harbour last year, after a similar, if short-lived, production). While the Brotherhood possess sharp blades, their sense of humour is somewhat duller.

Speaking of dull, I got cornered by one of the old drunkards in the West Weald Inn for over an hour this morning, droning on about his days working in the city. Still, his connections are a good source of gossip, which is why everyone puts up with him. It turns out that the Imperial Cleansing Guild have been overwhelmed lately, what with the spate of bodies turning up in forts and goodness knows where – it seems that hero activity has been on the increase. Fort Nikel was one of the problem locations: it was the scene of a vicious fight between two factions – marauders and bandits. According to a lone survivor, it all started when someone made a crass joke over a smoking campfire, saying “is it me or does it smell like Kvatch in here.” Too soon. No wonder things turned nasty.

On my way back to Skingrad with my new beau a few days ago , I couldn’t resist helping myself to some household items from the heart of the Imperial City (old habits), but now you practically have to fight through the other opportunistic heroes to get anything good. One fellow crate-popper told me that the local merchants are petitioning the Imperial Guard to clampdown on petty theft; apparently their insurers are taking a tough line over the sheer amount of claims for spoons, folded cloth, and silver bowls.

Speaking of which, did you get the bowl I sent you? It would be ideal for that Shadowbanish Punch you were talking about serving at your next party. However, if I were you, I’d hang onto the wine – it’s rather rare. Ever since that nocturnal voyeur ring reached the height of their perverted fame in the Imperial City it’s been in short supply. They’d been paying heroes to seek the stuff out in abandoned forts, and then using it to spy on rich people without curtains as they undressed at night and went about their ‘business’. One Nord got the shock of his life when he saw Thoronir undressing and hasn’t been the same since. Something about a skull and some butter, but I didn’t like to ask.

The Glarthir baiting continues apace, here, but it will end in tears, mark my words. People keep leaving fake encoded notes in places they know he goes, and pretend to follow him, or ‘find’ things buried in flowerbeds and vegetable patches – they find it funny to feed his paranoia. Just recently, he accused me of being a spy, but as far as I can see he does nothing worth spying on, except pour over this month’s copy of Shaven Elf and make notes about all the townsfolk.

Still, I’d best sign off and go and do some clearing up. I’ve misplaced my elven armour again – that’s what I get for enchanting it with a chameleon spell. I’ve already stubbed my toe on a pair of semi-invisible gauntlets. I won’t get any help from my other half, either. He’s laying up in bed, snoring his head off. Even a detect-life spell failed to work on him this morning. I think I’ll trade him in for another fan from the stadium – perhaps one with more vigour and less paunch. I had to pour a feather potion over his back when he fell asleep on me two nights ago, just to be able to push him off. Needless to say, he’ll be gone the next time I write. I’ll tell him I left my earing in the last Oblivion gate I visited and ask him to fetch it back for me, otherwise I’ll never be rid of him.

Much love,

Last five articles by Lorna


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