When bad things happen to good people the first question they always ask is, “why?” My name is Tura Satana and I am The Dragonborn. I am also a mass-murderer. Join me on my dark journey through Skyrim where I will slip into the skin of a killer and try to make sense of the antisocial impulse. You may not like the answers you find.
My first murder in Skyrim is the result of a theft gone wrong. I found myself in the middle of an autumnal plain North of the Brittleshin Pass. A series of columns, surely a signpost towards adventure, lure me across the expanse. There I found a grating set into the ground. A treasure chest was beneath, but beyond my reach. And I don't know the combination to the puzzle pillars nearby so I decide to quit sniffing after the chest and move on.
That's when I spy a female Orc wandering around nearby. She's walking away, oblivious to me and the nearby treasure so I squat into hiding and sneak up on her. I idle up closely and peer into her pockets finding moon sugar, a strange substance called Skooma and a couple drops of sleeping tree sap. I reach out and try to pluck some of the stuff but I'm too clumsy. She turns around a puts up her fists, bent on pummeling me into submission.
It's an inauspicious start to my career as a Skyrim serial killer, but I figure you've got to start somewhere. I draw my sword and slash at the hapless orc until she crumbles to the ground. I take her all of her possessions leaving her naked but for her smallclothes and I leave her there concealed only by the low brush.
There's a fine line between heroism and wholesale slaughter in Skyrim. Killing in self-defense is most always justified in a world this dangerous. But is it right to kill your enemy before they have a chance to proclaim their intent? I don't waste too much energy mulling the dilemma when I find a bandit guard tower on my ascent to Bleak Falls Barrow.
Hidden on the snowy mountainside I draw my bow and put an arrow through the first guard, killing him instantly. His ally runs to his aid. “I'm going to find whoever did that,” he promises. But it is only moments before he wanders away and goes back to his patrol. I creep across the stone bridge and catch him with an arrow as well.
Atop the hill I find more of his kind. I pick at them from the shadows, piercing them from afar. A few try to raise the alarm but they're quickly quieted by a shaft. No one will miss these coarse men and women. They're killers. Every one of them. Not that different from what I'm about to become.
ARVEL THE SWIFT
Inside Bleak Falls Barrow I meet a coward of man called Arvel the Swift. He's tangled in the web of a giant spider, destined to serve as a meal for the arachnid and her spawn. I kill the monsters and free him from his bindings on his promise that he'll help me solve the riddles of Bleak Falls Barrow. But rather than stay and talk the greed man runs. I don't wait to see where he goes. I notch an arrow, pull and release catching the coward in the shoulder. A search of his corpse discovers The Golden Claw – the key to the secrets of Bleak Falls Barrow. I leave Arvel's body to moulder and dry in the caves, just another corpse in a place full of death.
The Golden Claw is the property of a shop-owner in Riverwood so I make my way there to collect my reward. There I become caught up in a sorry love triangle. A jealous wood elf named Faendal begs me to deliver a forged letter to a fair girl called Camilla Valerus. The note is meant to make the town bard Sven look bad. I find the whole affair distasteful so the first chance I get I tell Camilla that Faendal is trying to cheat his way into her heart. Camilla thanks me and I wash my hands of the affair. That's until I actually meet Sven.
I catch the man singing in the Sleeping Giant Inn. He's strumming on his a lute and singing in a way that instantly rubs me the wrong way. I can't put my finger on it, but there's something I don't like about this man. I notice Camilla in a nearby seat, fawning over the singer and it puts me over the edge. I decide then and there that I will kill Sven. But I'm not ready to commit a crime like this in broad daylight.
I interrupt Sven's song and tell him to follow me. To my surprise the fool comes along. I aim to lead him someplace remote and put him down there. I follow the path out of Rivenwood scanning my surroundings for someplace that feels right for a murder. That's when I stumble the site of the guardian stones – the place where I started down the path of the thief.
I tell Sven to wait there and walk away, leaving the chump looking out over the lake and distant mountains. I hike up the path a dozen or so paces and turn around. The idiot is still there, his back turned towards me. I squat, draw my bow and loose an arrow into his back. “Watch it!' he gripes. I put another arrow in him. “What are you doing?” he begs. The third arrow silences him.
I return to Riverwood and pick the lock to Sven's home, hoping to rifle through his belongings. But his one-room dwelling isn't open. His mother, Hilde, is home. She's the old crone who I'd early heard babbling about seeing a dragon. I take pity on her at first – she's feeble and helpless. Then she opens her mouth. “Everywhere you look its cats, lizards and elves,” she blurts. “It sickens me.” The woman's xenophobia makes my skin crawl, but I press her on the subject. “Let's hear it,” she demands. “Let's hear it.” Over and over until I can't take it any more.
I'm halfway across the room when the urge to snuff Hilde comes over me. I turn around, kneel and pull out my bow. Hilde cowers by her bed as I loose my first arrow. My first shot clips a wine bottle, sending it spinning across the room. The second arrow flies true, spearing Hilde through the back. Mother and son are dead. There's no question now. I am now a murderer. And I aim to play the part.
--Gus Mastrapa has written about games for Wired, Edge, Kill Screen and The A.V. Club. Follow him on Twitter @triphibian.
(Check back here next week for part two of Gus Mastrapa's multi-part Skyrim blood-orgy.)