I'm playing Skyrim with a rule: illusion magic only. No direct violence, just pure deception—which makes my current task tricky. I'm trying to clear out a fort full of bandits purely by making them fight each other. One of them's just fallen off the castle battlements, leaving me alone with an angry swordsman, so I've thrown myself off too.
I land on the rocky ledge, and find the archer there. All I've actually done is separate my enemies from my only means of dealing with them: each other. The archer's stranded on an outcrop, unsure of how to get back, so I duck into sneak mode and hug the castle walls until I reach the entrance.
I sneak all the way up to the main door undetected, wondering where sword guy has got to. At the door, I realise sword guy is at the door, leaning against the wall in his usual spot, camouflaged with the stone in the grey moonlight. He sees me. I dash for the door.
Inside, there's a man with a battleaxe with his back to me, warming himself by a fireplace. I Fury him and run back out.
Sword guy swings at me, I jump out of the way, and sprint across the courtyard. I'm hoping battleaxe will follow, and the two can have some kind of clash of the burly northerners out here. But when I look back, it's just sword guy. This is ridiculous. I need to get this guy killed.
OK, maybe I can lead him round to the stranded archer. I lead him round to the stranded archer. There's no stranded archer. I hop up to the outcrop I last saw her on, where sword guy can't follow, and peer over the edge. An anomalous black speck amongst the ice and snow down there suggests an answer to this particular mystery. A lady with balance like that should not have taken a job on a cliff.
I hop over sword guy and decide to just run back towards Solitude—we're bound to run into someone I can set on him. Sure enough, our Benny Hill chase has barely gone 50 metres when a thief runs up to me. He starts yammering about an item he wants me to hold on to—it's that guy—and I'm locked into the conversation while the sword bandit takes an almighty swing. Shut up! Whatever! Go away!
I finally hammer the right bit of my keyboard to get me out of the conversation, but not before taking a nasty blow. As punishment, I Fury the thief. Almost immediately, a hunter shows up looking for the item I've just been given. Shut up! Whatever! Go away! I Fury him too.
They attack, and sword guy dispatches them both. He's unstoppable. I run.
It's a few minutes' jog down the snowy path towards Solitude before we meet anyone else. Two guys, one on a horse. He gets off—promising!—but as I get closer I see he's a 'Noble': probably no use in combat. As I run up to the other, he draws a bow and shoots.
The arrow zips past my head and hits the sword bandit—in the mouth. He drops his sword, pitches forwards, his arms go limp, and he ploughs into the snow, flopping onto his back as he slides gently down the mountainside.
I look up at the bowman: Imperial Guard. He suggests I join up.
I'm trying, man, I'm trying.
Next: The Solution.