The good news is, I'm doing great on time. I'm about a third of the way through my trip to deliver presents to every NPC household in Skyrim (read Part 1 here, and Part 2 here) and I've only burned about an hour and a half. I should be able to wrap this up by midnight. But then, there's Riften.
Better Not Pout
Typically, when I break into someone's home, I get a few stern warnings before they call the guards. Not so at Snow-Shod Farm outside Riften. I let myself in and Leonara Arus immediately draws a dagger and attacks. Outside, some Riften guards do likewise. I take off, but Rudolph crashes into the river, leading to a serious reindeer malfunction.
That's how I arrive in Riften: already wanted by the cops and running in place on a magical reindeer's back. It takes long minutes to make my way through the city, with guards in pursuit, hacking at my body and blocking every single doorway. Eventually, I spot one building in Skyrim desperately in need of a little Christmas cheer: Honorhall Orphanage.
I know this experiment is a goof, but I thought visiting the orphans on Christmas Eve and giving them presents might be, I dunno, a genuinely nice little moment? Well, it's not. Imagine, just for a minute, being an orphan in Skyrim. Your headmistress, Grelod, is in the process of calling you names and telling you you'll never be adopted. Suddenly, the door crashes open and someone sort of dressed like Santa Claus bursts into the room. He's filled with arrows and covered with blood, and there are a dozen soldiers stabbing him in the back as he forces his way through the crowd, dropping pieces of armor and enchanted weapons on your beds.
Santa, apparently exasperated by the ordeal, suddenly whips out a giant two-handed sword and starts hacking away at Grelod, probably thinking to himself, "Might as well do some good while I'm here." He kills her, slashes in anger at a few guards, and flees, leaving behind a dead headmaster, an odd collection of gifts, a bloodstained floor, and a collection of horribly traumatized orphans. Merry Christmas, everyone!
Finally, I flee from Riften, not knowing who I delivered to and who I missed. I no longer care. It's time to fly.
I'm glad that unpleasantness is over with. How about some new unpleasantness, then?
The dragon, ultimately, isn't a huge deal. It can't really drain my extensive hit points, and while it follows me for a good long while, I eventually duck into a home near a mill, and when I emerge, it's gone. I hit another orc stronghold, some farms, and finally reach Windhelm.
The frosty city is wonderfully peaceful. Now that its a bit later, a lot of people are actually sleeping and almost no one is on the street. A give a beggar a coin, a beggar I once considered marrying in another life. I actually make it all the way through the city without triggering the guards and any real animosity from anyone.
Be Good For Goodness' Sake
More stops at mills, and then make my way to Winterhold, which is also uneventful (I can't access the college, however). Next, I visit Frostflow Lighthouse, and let myself in. Then I quickly let myself back out. Santa didn't see nothin'.
At Dawnstar I visit the Dark Brotherhood sanctuary, though the evil door won't let me in so I just drop some coal for those naughty assassins. In Dawnstar proper, I somehow anger a citizen named Hroggar, who follows me from house to house through the entire town, whacking me on the back with his axe. No one else gets ruffled, though: even the guards don't care. It's only 10:35 p.m., so clearly I'm not in a race against the clock. Why not take a little me-time and murder this Hroggar a-hole? I select a gift from my pack, a giant two-handed sword, and cut him down. I take his axe as a potential present, and leave.
Finally, I reach Whiterun, my final stop. I dash in and out of the surrounding farms and mills without issue, and even get through the first few stores in peace. Then I meet Lars Battle Born, who shall forever now be known as The Jerk Kid Who Ruined Whiterun Christmas. He starts warning me, immediately, that I need to get out of his house, despite the fact that I've very nicely dropped a potion of True Shot on his bed. What little boy wouldn't want his bow to do 20% more damage for 60 seconds? He also seems completely unimpressed when, a moment later, I (accidentally) summon Rudolph in his house.
Unimpressed by the appearance of a magical reindeer, the Battle Born kid calls the guards, and I'm back to shouldering my way through crowds of swords and arrows as I make my deliveries. Eventually, I make my way to Dragonsreach. Lydia is there, and is nice enough to fight the guards for me while I stagger around dropping presents.
In the hall, I snatch a bunch of Santa hats from the barrel and put one on. It took all night, but I finally feel like Santa again! My final stop is the bedroom of Jarl Balgrull, where I sarcastically deposit a spare Santa hat on his pillow while he rouses from slumber. Remember me, Jarl. Remember the hat. That's my calling card. And I'll be back. Santa will be back... for you.
I'm officially calling an end to Christmas. I burst onto the Dragon Porch, summon Rudolph, and take off, circling back for one more angry pass over the heads of those anti-Santas. It's 10:56 p.m. I know I probably missed a ton of NPCs amidst the crowds of guards, but I did the best job I could. I may not be the best Santa, but I'm the Santa Skyrim deserves.
Happy holidays! And remember, if you see Santa this Christmas, please don't summon the guards.