The Elder Strolls, Part 9: Groom and Gloom
There's a spring in my step as I prepare to make my way to back to Riften to get married, because my future, once uncertain, now holds many treasures. A home to live in. The love of a wife whose name, I'm pretty sure, begins with a Y. The realization that I no longer have to interview NPCs and help them solve their problems. Best of all, I feel like I've cheated Skyrim, a world intent on throwing adventure in my path, by getting engaged without any bloodshed.
Marriage in Skyrim begins with deeds, the priest told me, and deeds in Skyrim generally involve killing people. Not murdering them, necessarily, but fighting them, scores of them, while completing a favor for your intended life-partner. My engagement, however, came about by simply buying a mammoth tusk and handing it to a woman. Take that, Game Filled With Adventure! I got a bride with zero casualties! Unless you count the mammoth, which I didn't even kill. And, it's not like I'm going to kill a lot of people on my way back to Riften, right?
The first person I kill on my way back to Riften is a bandit woman. Jasper and I are taking the route south of the tallest mountain in Skyrim. We made it to Riverwood last night without incident, spent the evening ignoring the locals and their troubles, and continued on this morning. This is new ground for us, so naturally, when I spot a mine on my radar, I walk over to check it out, and this bandit woman charges at me with a mace.
A little later, we come across what appears to be the remains of a Khajiit caravan. It looks like they were ambushed, possibly by the four bandits that are running right at me. A few moments after dispensing with them, three more bandits arrive, apparently a little late for some sort of bandit convention, and we have to fight them, too. My new ceremonial Dwarven wedding armor is definitely being put to the test, and Jasper's ceremonial dog fur is getting filled with arrows.
We barely finish killing the seventh and final bandit when two wolves appear. Jeez! I haven't even had time to catch my breath. Annoyed, I hit one wolf with my axe, and curiously, it doesn't immediately die. I try again. No luck. Turns out, they're ice wolves, which are apparently 700 times tougher than regular wolves, and not only are they not dying but they are actually sort of killing the crap out of me. My health has suddenly spun down to nearly nothing and my heartbeat is pounding in my ears. Jasper is hunched over, unable to fight back. This is bad. I use my Battle Cry, which scares the wolves off, I chug a few potions, and finally kill one wolf with a poison arrow and another with my poisoned axe.
We continue walking, well into the night, and eventually find a place to sleep: a small, empty shack on the far side of the mountain pass. Shockingly, it's not full of bandits or monsters or the gruesome remains of a former resident. After sleeping until morning, I find a journal on a table that tells me the shack used to belong to an alchemist. Poking around a bit more, I find a live butterfly in a jar, which I decide to take, because it's kinda cool. I don't considered it stealing, because, let's face it: finding someone's journal and not finding them usually means they're dead, possibly killed by the giant spider that scuttles over as we leave.
We continue on. More bandits are slain, two of them, at some ruins near an Imperial camp. More wolves. Then, a bear. Then I come across a stronghold filled with incredibly rude orcs, but as mean as they are, and as much as they badmouth me, at least they don't try to kill me. They don't even complain when I defuse the tension between us by sleeping in one of their beds for eight straight hours.
In the morning, though, a friggin' giant attacks the stronghold, and suddenly all of those grouchy orcs are nowhere to be seen. Honestly, I'm in no way, shape, or form prepared to handle a giant on my own, but luckily, for all his size and strength, the giant seems baffled by the fact that I'm standing on a platform next to the stronghold walls. He stomps around menacingly, but only makes one swing at me. Weirdly, he and Jasper completely ignore each other, too. I don't know how many arrows I put into him, but he finally dies, and I immediately eat his toe.
I know, it sounds gross, eating a dead giant's filthy toe, and it means that I'll have giant-toe breath on my wedding day, but it's an alchemy thing. If I kill a thing and cut off part of it and I've never had that part of that thing before, I have to eat it. It's alchemy! DON'T JUDGE ME.
Anyway. By my count, my wedding trip took the life of ten humans, a bear, a giant, a couple spiders, and a bunch of wolves. So much for the for that zero body count: I guess Skyrim is making me pay for my wedding in blood after all. I finally reach Riften, spend the night in the inn, and head over to the Temple of Mara to arrange my wedding. The priest tells me the wedding will happen tomorrow, which gives me the whole day to live it up, crazy bachelor style! So, I spend the day making potions and crafting boots. That's about as crazy as I get.
The next morning, I get up and head to the church. This is it! My wedding! I have butterflies in my stomach because yesterday I ate a couple of butterflies (alchemy!).
I had intended to take my helmet off before the actual ceremony, but the second I walk into the church, the wedding begins. I can't really do anything but watch as I walk to the altar while the priest starts talking, so I guess I'll be getting married looking like a full-on robot. My bride is already here, the one whose name I'm always forgetting, though the moment I see her, something magical happens: I remember. Call it fate, call it love, but I actually do remember. Not her name, but the spot in my notes where I wrote her name. Ysolda. It's underlined, even. Because I keep forgetting it.
It's a magical ceremony. With the priest jabbering on about Mara, and with Jasper barking and snuffling continuously, and a couple of NPCs I don't know watching us, we are wed. Ysolda do you take this slow-moving, toe-eating Mechano-Man as your husband? She does! Weird Robot Man, do you take this woman you've had two conversations with as your wife? I do! As soon as soon as I say the words, though, I'm somewhat alarmed to see my new wife turn and start walking away, even though the priest is still talking and the ceremony isn't complete. Um, honey? Sweetums? Pookie-bear? We're not quite finished. This is our wedding day, don't you want to maybe stick around for the end of it? Don't you want to share in our first kiss through my terrifying robot mask? Do you know how many people died so we could be standing here together? Honey?
I can't even really turn to see if she's actually leaving: since the ceremony is continuing, I'm firmly rooted in place (with love). I do, however, hear the sound of the temple doors closing behind her as the priest gives me a ring and ceremony ends. Well, great. It appears I may have married an inconsiderate asshole. Now that I can finally move again, I turn to see that not only has my bride left, but the wedding guests are scattering as well. I manage to speak to one of them before he leaves, and it appears he did quite enjoy watching a disinterested woman marry a sulking robot, something you probably don't get to see every day.
I step outside. My new bride is nowhere to be seen, so I clonk through the streets looking for her for a couple hours, then give up and head to the inn to spend the night with my idiot dog.
And there you have it! Marriage in Skyrim. One day an ugly young man is giving part of a deceased elephant to young woman, the next day he's committing mass murder to get to the church on time, and before you know it he's clomping slowly through the streets of Riften like a horrible Amber Golem, searching for the wife who didn't even stay for the entire ceremony. That's marriage in Skyrim. That's love.