It's the 24th of Evening Star, Skyrim's version of December. As I stand at the North Pole (Septimus Signus's Outpost, the north-iest point I could find), 7:59 clicks over to 8:00 p.m. It's time to deliver a present to every NPC household in Skyrim. (Confused? See Part 1.)
Coming to Town
I hop on Rudolph's back, then hop back off. I know I decided not to deliver to caves, but Septimus Signus is, like, right here. I run into his ice cave where he's pacing around. He looks cold. He doesn't even have a bed. I drop him a bear pelt.
Then I'm off for real! I hop onto Rudolph and fly my way to my first real stop: Solitude Lighthouse, home of an NPC called Ma'zaka. Ma'zaka's door is locked, but my new Knock spell works perfectly, and at 8:03 p.m., I break in. He's standing right inside the door and immediately warns me: "You're not supposed to be here." After stumbling around for a moment, I find his bedroom in the back, and drop a Amulet of Dibella on the floor next to his bed.
"Last warning," he says. "Leave. Now." Well, merry Christmas to you too, jerk.
I head to the Thalmor Embassy. Along the way, I begin to discover a few of Rudolph's flaws, namely, that when he collides with something, like a mountain or an invisible wall at the edge of the map, he plummets to the ground. Also, when I climb off his back, I sometimes continue to fly on my own. Trying to open doors when you're hovering eight feet above them is tricky.
Another problem: the Thalmor Embassy is locked, and needs its own key. My Knock spell can't open locks that can't normally be picked. Oh well. I drop an Amulet of Kynareth at the feet of the Thalmor Wizard guarding the entrance. "Just leave your refuse wherever you see fit!" she spits sarcastically at me. Ho-kay. I'm not really feeling the Christmas spirit so far. I'm off to Solitude.
I deliver gifts to the residents of The Winking Skeever, the city's inn, and magically pick the lock of Radiant Raiment. I crash around looking for the owner's bedroom while she issues warnings to me to leave. Before I can navigate my way out of her home, she starts yelling. "Guards! Help! Tresspasser!" That's when Christmas officially gets messy.
Outside, the guards try to arrest me, and I flee into Angeline's Aromatics. They follow as I run upstairs and drop some trinkets near the bed, then they block the stairs as I try to leave, while Angeline chants "You need to leave. You need to leave." I finally manage to maneuver past the guards and back onto the street. I make it into Bits and Pieces, leave an enchanted axe on the bed, and run into a massive crowd of guards by the door. There are so many soldiers I can't force my way past them. As Santa, I've only played the main quest as far as Dragonsreach, so I don't have a Fus Roh Ho Ho Ho Dah shout to blast them out of my way. I'm stuck! Desperate, I summon Rudolph, whose giant fat butt creates enough of a gap in the guards for me to squeeze through to the door.
There are now a dozen guards after me. After a few more quick deliveries to the remaining stores, my Santa speed takes me to the other end of the city quickly enough for the guards to lose sight of me, and I get to make a few deliveries in relative peace. I hit a few homes, drop a ton of loot in the extensive Bard's College, and visit Styrr in the Hall of the Dead, all without incident.
And I In My Cap
Then I head to the Blue Palace, where the guards immediately attempt an arrest again. Unfortunately, this time I accidentally pick the "Pay my bounty" option. This means they confiscate any stolen goods I've got. I've bought all my gifts legitimately, but I do have one stolen item: my Santa hat, since I "stole" it from the barrel in Dragonsreach. They unceremoniously strip it from me. My Santa hat! My festive lid! Gone! I'm deeply upset.
My giving mood has been spiked, and I start leaving charcoal for everyone else in Solitude. I'm pleased to see that charcoal comes in sticks, and those sticks look like poo, which feels fitting for these ungrateful citizens. Outside the city, even Rudolph isn't feeling cooperative: when I summon him, he appears on a ledge out of reach. I leave him there and run to the stables and farms outside Solitude on foot.
I then fly off to Mor Khazgur, an orc stronghold. We arrive with Rudolph sporting an arrow in his face due to us passing too close to a few angry bandits with no Christmas cheer but plenty of good aim.
The orcs are not thrilled to see me bursting into their longhouse and crashing around, dropping loot by their beds, but despite several stern threats they never get violent. A half-hour into my trip, I visit Dragon Bridge, then arrive in Falkreath at 8:40. They welcome me with open arms. Open arms that shoot flames and ice bolts. Someone even summons a ghost dog to attack me. Does real Santa have to put up with this crap?
I've hated Falkreath even before tonight: it sports a confusing multi-level layout that makes it hard to find doors that you can see on the map. Now I've also come to hate its easily-angered residents. Still, by 8:52, we're out of there, having either visited everyone or perhaps gotten sick of trying to visit everyone while surrounded by angry guards and wizards. Rudolph is having major problems by this point, crashing to earth every few seconds while in flight, meaning we're constantly being attacked on the ground by Forsworn, bandits, wolves, and sabre cats. No one seems happy to see Santa tonight!
Well, the first leg of my trip didn't go well. But at least that means things can't go worse, right?
Things go worse. Next time, on Serial. Continue to Part 3.