An Illusionist in Skyrim, part 2: Seeking Solitude

Tom Francis at

I'm playing Skyrim with a rule: Illusion magic only. No direct violence, just pure deception. I've just reached Riverwood and exploited the locals into killing some bandits for me, then gone to sleep in the Hadvar family's bed.

Because I am bad at basic arithmetic, I wake up at 4am. The entire family is standing around the bed, watching me, waiting for me to leave. It's not yet light, so I sheepishly get out of their way and move over to one of the single beds in the corner for two more hours.

When I wake up at 6, a young girl is standing next to my bed, watching me, waiting for me to leave. It's possible I am in her bed. The rest of the family are eating breakfast, so I slip out.

It's my first day of not being executed - where am I going? What did Hadvar ask me to do, right around the time he was saying how the Jarl of Whiterun urgently needed to be warned about the dragon attack so he could save Riverwood? Oh yeah, join the Imperial Legion!

Their headquarters are in Solitude, so I'm going to Solitude. I uncheck the game's main quest and mark my new objective on my map. It's, er, kind of a long walk.

It's not far along the first mountain path before I spy a wolf. I reckon I can sneak by, get behind these ferns, and ow my face. I run through the ferns and jump down some rocks. It's one wolf! An actual lone wolf. Why couldn't it be two? I can't Fury one wolf, it'd only make him angrier with me.

After trying to make myself small for a while, he hasn't gone away, so I make a break for it. It's steep going, and after a while the wolf can't find a way to follow.

Breaking out into the plains, I can see Whiterun in the distance, but I press on. The plains are dull but easy going, like Russell Howard. And also like Russell Howard, when I cross them I'm attacked by two wolves. Two wolves! The perfect number. I catch the first with a blast of Fury as he pounces, and in a startling pre-emptive strike, his unaffected friend immediately kills him in one bite. This wolf is dire! And lone! Run!

I can't seem to get away - I was already out of stamina when they attacked, so now I can't sprint ahead. Am I actually going to get killed by a wolf? Who knew not defending yourself could be dangerous?

I'm relieved to see some robed travellers ahead, crossing a bridge towards Whiterun. I stagger to them, stumble through the river, and they stop as I approach.

"Somebody do something!" one of them yelps. That's what I was going to say!

We all look at each other urgently, then turn back to the wolf. There's no wolf. Instead, a small mudcrab is waddling his way up from the river towards us on the bridge. I laugh. Then, over his rocky shell, I see the body of the wolf floating in the water. You! You killed Lone Dire Super Wolf? WHAT ARE YOU? I run.

When I look back, both travellers are thwacking the mudcrab champion. Good luck, new friends!

Next:Run and bear it.