An Illusionist in Skyrim, part 7: the Pale Blade

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Tom Francis at

This is the diary of me attempting to play Skyrim using only Illusion magic: I'm not allowed any weapons, armour, or magical items, and I can't attack anyone directly. The first entry is here, or you can see all entries to date here.

I'm in: I passed my initiation, got my official armour, sold my official armour, and am now an enlisted soldier of the Imperial Legion. In a dress.

More importantly, I still haven't broken my rule: no direct violence, only illusion spells. Hiring a lackey has solved the one problem I couldn't work around: killing quest-critical targets when there's no-one left to turn against them.

My next assignment is to retrieve an artifact called the Jagged Crown, and my commanding officer Legate Rikke is going to meet me at the fort with a team. Before I head out, I visit Solitude's court wizard to buy some spells: Courage, to buff and revive my allies; Calm, because people need to chill the hell out; and Muffle, not because my footsteps need muffling, but because I want something to repeatedly cast on myself to level up my Illusion skill.

The Nord tomb of *clears throat* Korvanjund is on the other side of the country, but I'm not using fast travel. That's basically teleporting, and teleportation is not Illusion.

The natural first stop is the stables just outside Solitude. But after a lot of awkwardly jostling amongst their horses, I can't seem to find a safe spot to steal one. And I certainly can't afford to buy. So we walk - while I repeatedly Muffle my feet.

Shortly after we emerge from the swamp outside Solitude, we see some steps leading up to a mountain temple, and a gang of people fighting on them. It seems like three bandits are all attacking one woman, so I try Calming them to even the odds. The two I hit immediately holster their weapons and amble about while the woman kills their friend. One by one, she kills them too. Hurray, my arbitrarily chosen side won!

The woman explains that her friend stole a sword from those bandits, and the bandits blamed her. My game-character brain interprets this as a quest: find the sword! Kill the bandits! Break some kind of curse? Rescue a guy maybe? Whatever, it's a dungeon, just go in.

Inside, inevitably, the bandits attack.

"You'll never leave Skyrim aliiiiive!" the first one screams, just before my Calm spell hits him. He stops mid-swing and looks at me, offended. "Hey! There's no need to use magic on me!" He walks off.

Belrand bashes the other bandit's head in, then stops. Out of politeness, I guess, he won't attack a Calm enemy. The three of us stand there awkwardly for a while, as the dead bandit's corpse slides slowly down some steps. Then the spell breaks, the calm bandit becomes enraged, and Belrand brings his mace down on him.

In the first chamber of this crypt, I find a note from the sword-thief explaining that he was trying to return it to the tomb: taking it had angered the Pale Lady. Anne Hathaway? Weird.

I also find an enormous battleaxe and give it to Belrand. He equips it eagrely.

The next group of bandits is a big one. I Calm any that come near me, and admire Belrand's style. He switches back to mace and shield to block an archer's arrows as he charges her and beats her to death, then brings out the axe to take on a swordsman. The guy blocks his swings again and again, but it's not enough: the sheer weight of the weapon just crumples him.

That's when the mages come in. Two of them come at us, lightning crackling from their hands. I try to Calm them down, but nothing happens - I'm unexpectedly out of juice. Shit! Lightning drains mana! I can't really do anything without mana.

I'm seriously low on health, completely out of mana, and trapped in an awkward corner with the lightning bandit bearing down on me. And then something weird happens.

Next:The Pale Lady.