Author Archives: Lonely Mushroom

In the Land of the Moron

Previously on Ymelda Scrowles:


Stings a bit.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH

AAAAAAAAAAARGH

OW OW OW OW OW IT’S IN MY EYE IT’S IN MY FUCKING EYE OH MY GOD AAAAAAAAAH

OOWWWWWW OH GOD OHahaa, okay, alright.


Airswimming deseeeeerves a quiet niiiight…

The horror of being suddenly and inexplicably blinded subsides a little when I start doing a mid-air breaststroke while the Windhelm guards flail all round the dock. Minor bugs, hurrah!

It seems I’ve upset the guards somehow, who decided not to arrest the woman quietly minding her own business, but instead to just shoot her in the goddamn face from the other side of the river. In a panic, I jumped in the water, figuring it’d be my best shot of countering any more arrows. From there I swam to the side of one of the moored longboats, and figured out that I must have broken some stupid Nord law about insulting someone’s beard or not caring about beer or whatever, so now the guards are going nuts in an attempt to kill me. Maybe someone told them that I read a book?

Even with my armour on, a single town guard would be a serious threat, and since the most dangerous thing I’m carrying is a handful of vampire dust that might get in their eyes if I’m lucky, trying to fight everyone at the dock would get me ripped in half.

I attempt to surface at the dock and surrender, but instead of climbing out, I continue swimming, which would be a great opportunity to explore the land from above if not for the archer taking more pot shots at me. He continues to do so as I swimg around in a panic, desperately trying to initiate a conversation with one of the guards before the idiots land another blow.


You have the right to remain shot.

Ugh. Whatever I’ve done to upset them so much, they’re demanding 50 gold as a “penalty”, or, as I’d prefer we’d drop the pretence, a “bribe”. Goddamn pigs, man. They’re the same everywhere. I’m just lucky the dockworkers are here to witness this, or I’d be dead already, then it’d just be a case of putting a knife in my hand and calling it a day. Bastards.

Well, I’m not paying up. 50 gold might not be much to some, but it’s a solid morning of work to me. Besides, I’ve seen the prison here, it’s pretty clean and a lot warmer than where I’ve been sleeping. It’s not like I haven’t done time before.


This would cost £600 a month in London.

Well, Mum was right about where I’d end up, and Dad was right about an honest living being for suckers. I am unsure how to quantify my resentment of them both right now. Windhelm, how do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways.

There’s really nothing exciting to say about prison. It’s even more boring than my day job, so there’s little for it but to shuffle up in the least turdy corner and get some rest. It’s a damn good thing I bought that healing spell. My face is killing me.


“Hmm, I don’t know. What IS the difference between Windhelm and an innocent Redguard?”

On the plus side, I’m let out after less than a day. I don’t know how I’ll make it on the outside, man. I’m an instituionalised woman now, and oh god, look at my face. My poor beautiful face.


Yarr.

Thought it was a bad day when that idiot with the cart messed up my chin, but this… Tava’s tits, I look like a scraggy old seabird. “What happened to your eye, Ymelda?” “Well, there was this town guard, see, and he just shot me in the frickin’ face for no reason…” “Yeah, sure he did. Get your eye off my purse, scum.”

I need a drink. The guards, surprisingly, did not steal my stuff, so first I’d better unload it at the nearest shop before my day gets any worse. As I’m walking over to the Grey Quarter, I remember that Revyn Sadri owes me a reward for planting that ring in Viola thingface’s house. Kind of ironic that I get a reward for picking her pocket, and shot in the face for picking flowers. All is forgiven, Dad – honest living is for chumps.

Revyn, bless him, is true to his word, and gives me his entire profit from his last shipment, leaving me 400 rials wealthier. I am warming to him. After selling him most of the junk I’m carrying, I’m left with 643 gold, minus a handful of coins for some roasted meat. The day is almost over, but there could be time to get a little shopping in, so I head over to the market with my bulging purse and find the smith still hard at work. His selection is limited, and though I’m tempted by a pickaxe to make some money off the ore veins I’ve seen dotted near the Shambles, I decide against it. Don’t feel like lugging it around with me all night anyway.

Nurelion the alchemist also has very little to offer me, and keeps dropping hints about his magic Phial job, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I will end up flogging the potion he gave me. Sorry Nurelion, you’ll just have to make another batch for the next gullible sap who walks in. Wouldn’t be surprised if it’s all a setup anyway. Take this mysterious potion and wander away from the guards to where my armed friends are definitely not waiting to sell you into slavery, oh no. Not this sap, chum.

The town’s closing down for the night, and I am in need of a drink to wash down this meat. But on my way to the inn, there’s another surprise waiting for me.

The butcher is back.

Another young woman, Arivanya, has been murdered. You’d think this guy could at least make some effort to hide the bodies, I mean, I know the guards are idiots but come on. You could at least try. This guard pauses her investigation when I approach, by which I mean she stands motionless doing nothing until I prod her with a stick.

Hey, I said nothing of the sort, lady. Do you see my face? This city’s about as safe as a high elf on a rollercoaster. It’s not my fault reality folded in on itself and skipped ahead in the quest.

Anyway, yeah, it looks like Wuunferth was the wrong guy after all. Or there’s more than one killer, but either way, I’m advised to go and question him in his cell. Something you’d think the guards would have done already, but hey, what do I know, I don’t even live here.

First though, I rifle through the dead girl’s pockets. She has a handful of coins, a silver ring, and the key to Windhelm Stables. Hmm. No real clues there, except it’s another poor woman. I guess the killer thinks they won’t be missed, an idea that would carry more weight if he didn’t leave their remains lying around one one of the busiest alleyways in town, a stone’s throw from the front gate. Off we go then, to see the wizard.

Wuunferth has some sarcastic remarks, but in all honesty, he’s taking this pretty well. Funny how the guards shoot the Redguard in the face without explanation, but arrest the rich old white serial killer without so much as an uppercut. Bloody pigs.

Wuuny asks what made me think he was the killer, which is kind of awkward, because the answer is “well, that was the only dialogue option that came up”. At this point the game suggests that I either found an amulet of his at a crime scene, or found his journal about necromancy, neither of which I’ve done. I stick to the script, and accuse him of necromancy. Then the game makes me pick the “amulet” line anyway. What is this, a bishōjo game now?


Go left. Go right. It does not matter. We will all die.

I play along, describing to Wuunferth the amulet that I’ve never seen before, and then saying that Calixto, whoever that is, must have been wrong. Wuunferth agrees, and I consider asking the director what the hell is going on with this script. Fortunately, Wuunferth is sharp enough to tell me what to do next, and doesn’t seem to mind spending another night in the clink either. Strange man.

My drink will have to wait, for tonight the killer may strike again, and someone has to patrol the town to catch the bugger. You’d think the guards would be able to do this, seeing as they pretty much outnumber the civilians, but whatever. Suits me fine, since I slept all day anyway.

There followed a long and boring night during which I was always lurking, except for when I was skulking from one lurking spot to another.


“Is he behind the inn? Nooo!”

“Is he on the stairs? Nooo!”

“Is he by the forge? Nooo!”

It’s no Click Clack Moo, I’ll tell you that for nothing.

By about 3am I am bored out of my skull, and chow down on another chunk of meat and an apple. There’s no sign of any violence, and the only person acting suspiciously is myself. I start to consider heading for bed, since it seems unlikely he’d kill on two consecutive nights, for simple logistical reasons if nothing else. If he’s a necromancer he’s probably still patching together the pieces from the other corpses, right?

It’s just after eating that I see the smith’s apprentice lurking near the forge. A bit strange. I creep over for a closer look, and spot something even stranger. There’s a woman standing in the empty, dark market, staring at a wall, while a man crouches motionless behind her.

I move closer and watch them for a bit. At first glance he looks primed to attack, and I’m ready to pounce, but they’re both just standing there, waiting. An unpleasant thought occurs. Am… am I dogging? Is that what’s happening here?

Even after I sneak to within arm’s length, the two of them just stand there, motionless. If this is some weird sex thing then it’s pretty lame. I know a lot of taboo fantasies are pretty underwhelming to actually do, but – oh crap, they moved.

Oh. Wow. This all happens too fast to capture, but without warning, the strange man leaves his trance and one-shots the woman with a knife. A fight ensues.

Putting my fist literally through his head seems to perturb him somewhat, and it’s not long before my axe is introduced to his trachea. I have no idea who this guy is, so I can’t think of a one-liner. Um. I er… huh. Damn it Ymelda, you had all night to think of this, what is wrong with you?

The man’s nametag reads “Hi, I’m Calixto!”, so I guess that must be where the universe bugged out – I was supposed to talk to this Calixto, who’d accuse Wuunferth to take the heat off. A bit dissatisfying, but that’s tears in the very fabric of existence for you. I don’t bother looting his corpse, since it seems a bit unbecoming, and the guards can take care of the details. The woman is oh! Oh! I’ve got one. I butcher won’t be trying that again!

Ahem.

The woman is one of the market traders, I think. It’s hard to tell from the back of her head, which is probably a good opening for a callback to that dogging gag, but we’re going to rise above that kind of thing.

In any case, this was a victory for law and order, or for subcontracting passing nobodies into unrestricted law enforcement duties because it’s convenient and the state is too busy fighting a stupid war to carry out basic public services. I forget which. Both call for a victory pose, though, but what’s this? There’s an accompl… wait, what.


That’s some good lurking, though.

Is that..?


“Well, my contract says ‘City Watch’, see, and…”

It is! It’s a guard. There was a guard here this whole time? So the guards were literally watching the serial killer hack people apart, and still didn’t … I mean… it’s .. they… AAAARGH. This STUPID CITY OF MORONS. To hell with this, I’m getting my reward from Jorleif and getting a drink.


Man, even his dreams are square.

Yeah, so, we did the “wrong suspect, last minute epiphany, catch real killer at last possible moment” thing, except I didn’t catch him because shut up, and your guards are all idiots and money now please. Money. Money. Money now, now please money, money, now.

… well that’s just great. In return for saving your stupid lives, I get to be best friends with the arseholes who shot me in the face.

Well. I guess it’s a good deed at least. There’ll be lots of mourning families who can take a little consolation from it, maybe. And I’ve made a sort of weird friend out of Wuunferth. I think it’s time for a dramatic, but wistful pose.

Ugh. My face. My poor, hideous face.

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An Open Letter To Red 5 Studios

Dear games developy people,

I’ve not yet played your new MMOFPSTLA, Firefall. I seldom bother with MMOs you see, for tangential reasons, but am making an effort, and trying yours specifically because it looks pleasantly colourful and explosiony, and because I feel rather bad for playing so much Planetside 2, what with Sony being Sony and all.

So why am I writing this before playing? Well. First impressions count, guys, and one of the first impressions players get will be on the character creation screen that greets them on their first login.

I’m going to give you the benefit of the doube and assume that you are somehow unaware of this, but the following picture is how women engineers are dressed in your game:

I understand you’re in beta, and art assets may not be final yet, but “half arsed” is meant to be a figure of speech. And yes, it’s set in the far future and fashions and social attitudes change, but I rather doubt that future women will be any more keen on either constant chafing of a single labium or literally freezing their arses off.

It is ridiculous. Please sort it out before release, for god’s sake.

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Rise and Shrine

Early morning in the snow, yaaay! I can definitely feel my legs, and don’t want to kill absolutely every last living thing on the planet!

I’ve pretty much exhausted my foraging options surrounding the Shambles, and I have a relatively sizeable stash of loot, both theirs and mine, so today the plan is to get up an an hour that hates me almost as much as I hate it, and scope out the mystery edifice I’ve seen on the hill to the South. I’m expecting to find a ruin I can salvage for the rest of the day, or to be chased off by a phantom or estate agent or other unholy abomination, and head back to town after lunch. There I can sell my junk and look around for more work or a ticket to somewhere that has colours.

So. Off we trot. And it’s not long until I spot trouble.


It comes in packs.

Wolf! Woooolf! Oh, why won’t anyone believe me? Wooooool-oh hang on, I have a bow. Never mind, simple townsfolk! I got this. With great power comes great arrow in your face, wolves.


He has some cheek.

Huh. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure an arrow in the face would ruin my day. Not this guy though. After I shot his friend, he had a few things to say, but fortunately we were able to resolve our disagreement via an impartial, feathered mediator. Then it’s back to the routine – skin, retrieve arrow, pick some nearby berries – and cautiously up the hillside, as I approach the increasingly ominous construction.

A quick look back makes me realise just how far from safety I am. Ulp.


I can see my etc.

Much creeping, waiting, and listening later, I come across a campground of some kind. There are henge-like formations, logpiles and a tent, and someone’s left a candle lamp burning. Shovels, crates, bedrolls… hmm. Looks like an excavation site, but what were those walls I saw from the riverside? And where is everybody?

I find some bottles of skooma standng in the open on a crate. This is a little worrying. Open use of the sweet stuff doesn’t really fit the profile of an archaeologist. And assuming they are criminals (well, obviously the skooma makes them criminals, but you know what I mean), they probably have something to gain and would want to protect it. So where are the sentries? There’s only one path up….


I’ve seen roomier circles of death, if I’m honest.

And there’s a circle of death surrounded by stakes with burning braziers. Okay! This is officially A Bad Place, and I am quite prepared to run like hell. But first I have a rummage through the weapon racks by what I’m guessing was a duelling circle. If something did kill these people, I want to be ready to rip its face off.


Haiiiii-ya!

Oh man, this takes me back. “Oh Ymelda, honey, it’s not what it looks li-” POW. Try working late with THAT, you son of a … ahem. Anyway. I like the axe, but it’s just not practical, as I travel light and need a shield for protection. The rest of the weapons are no better than what I have, and not worth carrying into town either. On we go then.

There are stairs up to a sinister, spined, smoking outcropping. Looks like the epicentre is up there, but there’s a tent on the other side that looks intact. Perhaps there’s someone still alive. I snoop around, convinced that a psychotic Orc with a bardiche will charge out at any moment, but all I find is a charred corpse outside, and inside, an enchanting table and alchemy set. Nice!

The enchanting table is useless to me, unless there’s a market for crushed flowers enchanted with sarcastic remarks, but I take advantage of the free set to turn some of my ingredients into some bottles of poison and poison resistance. They’re weak, but could give an advantage in an even fight.

There’s nothing else to see here, so it’s time I bite the bullet and look upstairs. Even though it’s clearly deserted I’m still on edge as I creep up the steps, and the sight that greets me up there really doesn’t help.

Blazing pyres.

Charred, impaled corpses.

A massive statue of an evil hooded snake-demon monster waving a sword. Right. This is a bad place. This is a very bad place.

Judging by the positions of the less perforated bodies, people were worshipping a stone altar to the side of the statue, so I guess this is some kind of suicide cult? The layout is strange though, as the centrepiece isn’t the altar, but a small totem set in the middle of a spiral.


Where it stops, nobody knows.

Interesting. The tail leads into the spiral, and I think that writing is daedric. Those guys are usually bad news, but I can’t see any direct purpose to this carving and totem, so I’m guessing it’s the altar these people wer-

Uh oh. Ohhh no. No no no no no bad spiral thingy! Stop! Sit! Close sesame! Sator Arepo! Klaatu barada nikto! Um… Eranu Uvavu!

Fuck this, I’m out of here. Redguard Power Retreat, don’t fail me now. Run awayyyy!


Must have a word with the gardener.

Whew. That was a close call, I think. After catching my breath at the foot of the hill, I’m pretty sure nothing was conjured to follow me down, and if there was any danger it would have come when those people blew themselves up, right?

Well. I’m going to town today anyway, so it’s not like it makes a difference if I leave at a sprint. But first some lunch at the Shambles with the last of the mammoth steaks, and a change of clothes. I also take a long lunchbreak to read through one of the books I found, Ancestors and the Dunmer. Quite interesting actually, it’s an old guide to the dark elves’ ideas around necromancy and ancestor worship, and the differences between them. Apparently they used to think that necromancy was terrible if worked on an elf, but any other living thing was a-ok. Can’t say I’m surprised. Some of them are still kind of dicks even now.

Time to head into town. There’s too much to carry in one trip, so I load up with the most expensive things I can and set off. It will be safe to leave my shield behind, since the guards should have my back now, and having a free hand will give me an excuse to try out some magic along the way.


A good ‘Guard’ll gladly goad a goat.

The first such excuse takes the form of a goat. Illusion power activate! Enrage goat!


Shack chick in capra hack attack shock!

FLAWLESS VICTORY. Man, this is much easier than chasing them all over the place. I should be doing this all the time. Sadly there are no more goats in sight, but a few minutes later I come across an errant chicken, and hit it with another Fury spell.


“Hey.” “‘Sup.”

Ahahaha, this is so cute. The little guy falls under the spell and comes tearing towards me as fast as his little legs can carry him, but once he gets there he has no idea what to do, and just sort of stands there awkwardly at my feet, willing me to die. I cannot believe how much fun I’ve been missing out on. This is definitely my new favourite trick.

I don’t fight the little guy, since I’m right outside a farm and he’s obviously someone else’s, and I don’t need meat. Once the spell wears off he loses interest, so I don’t have to worry about him following me, and I stroll onto the thick ice shelf at the edge of the river, just opposite the Windhelm docks.

Then this happens:

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGH!

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