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Diary of a Dragonborn Chapter 48: This Is No Yoking Matter


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DIARY OF A DRAGONBORN
CHAPTER 48: This Is No Yoking Matter
In which our hero rearranges the political landscape with a few words.
Previous: Chapter 47: Control Weather is a 7th Level Spell

 

Paarthurnax seems relieved to have his mountain all to himself again, as if Alduin couldn't, you know, just turn right around and come back as soon as I bugger off. He tells me that to proceed, I'll need to capture a dragon and have him do... something. It's not very clear. This captured dragon will somehow enable me to hunt down Alduin in Sovngarde, but it is unspecified as to how, or at least I didn't hear it. I immediately turned to Paarthurnax and told him he was my captive, because that seemed to be the most logical thing to do - after all, why bother hunting a dragon to capture when there's one right here in front of me? - but he is not receptive to this argument. I feel this is somehow cheating. He's just lazy and wants to shrug off this duty on someone else. I can't argue too much, though, because I'd like to shrug it off on someone else myself.

 

Still, it has to be done, and I guess I'm the man to do it. I ask Arngeir if he has any other advice, but he does not. I trip on over to Sky Haven Temple to ask Esbern, but I get a little bored halfway through a long monologue about a dream he had last night, and fall asleep. When I wake up, Delphine is standing over me and demanding that I go kill Paarthurnax. I briefly consider doing as she suggests. In this case, "briefly" means about 0.000000001 seconds, because fuck Esbern, Delphine and the Blades - Paarthurnax is one of two nonhostile dragons I've ever met in my life, I'm not gonna kill him, but you're looking mighty murderable, DELPHINE.

 

Before I do something I'll regret, or at least something I'll regret not memorializing in bronze, I leave the temple, preferably never to return, but I've said that before about places like this so I don't hold out much hope. I need to go back to Balgruuf and convince him to let me use his palace as an impromptu holding cell.

 

He is understandably nervous... wait, scratch that. He's not nervous about having a dragon in his bedroom at all. What he's nervous about is the goddamn Stormcloaks and Imperials for some stupid-ass reason. I mean, all we're facing here is total extinction, right? Pshaw, that's nothing... we should really be concerned with who gets to sit on an uncomfortable chair a long way away. In the grand scheme of things, whether we all live or die is meaningless, but whoever rules Skyrim for the next few years until they're assassinated or die of old age and somebody else takes over is totally the most important thing in the entire world.

 

Normally at this point I'd make some comment about being depressed when faced with the average nordic intelligence, but that's impossible - you can't fill a cup more than 100% full without rewriting the laws of physics, and I can't get more depressed than 100% without rewriting large sectors of my brain, which I have been seriously considering. And normally at this point I'd head to the nearest pub to get shitfaced, but it seems that I bought out all the booze from all the bars in town just recently, and already went through it all, which would shed some light on why I also decided to buy out every potion the local apothecary had for some stupid reason.

 

At any rate, Balgruuf wants me to broker a peace agreement between the two major factions. He wants this to take place at High Hrothgar, apparently in the belief that forcing everyone to climb up to the top of the mountain will make them so exhausted that they'll agree to anything for a leg rub and a few hours sleep. So I've got to schlep back to the damn Greybeards and talk to Arngeir yet again. I'm increasingly feeling like a ping-pong ball.

 

Arngeir is reluctant at first to agree to hosting a big party here, probably because he's worried that nobody will stay and help with the cleanup afterward. I convince him that this is the only way we can defeat Alduin, and he makes a quick about-face on everything he has said and believed in up to this point, suddenly convinced that killing Alduin is a good thing, when previously he's been mostly ambivalent leaning toward "no." After Arngeir agrees, I've got to go convince Tullius and Ulfric to come to the peace council, which they do with only a little arguing.

 

Once everything is set up, I head back to High Hrothgar and meet with the delegations. Everyone has brought their own retinue, but thankfully not a large party, because there just aren't enough seats around the big stone table for more than a handful of folks. Tullius is here with Rikke and Elisef, gods know why Elisif was invited considering that she's mostly an ineffectual figurehead, but whatever. Esbern and Delphine are also here, despite the mutual mistrust and enmity that exists between the Blades and the Graybeards, stemming back hundreds of years when they had an argument as to who could serve the Dragonborn better. Balgruuf is also here, mostly because he (mistakenly) feels like he should be involved in the proceedings for some reason. And there's also the Thalmor delegation, consisting of Elenwin and her sleeper agent Ulfric, as well as Ulfric's right-hand toady and all around racist blowhard Galmar. Ulfric seems to want to keep up the illusion that he's not really working for the Thalmor, and nobody wants to see my evidence to the contrary, so I guess we're just going to deal with it.

 

Speaking of keeping up the illusion, the first thing Ulfric does is insist that Elenwin leave. Smooth, dude. Nobody suspects a thing, really. I perform my first act as arbiter and sever the cable attaching the station to the ring so I can kill the heretic leader agree with him, she's just got to go. She gets all huffy and stalks out. Although it's really tempting to follow her out and fus-ro-dah her off the mountain, I manfully resist the urge and stay in my seat. Gotta bring peace to Skyrim so we can defeat Alduin so we can get back to killing each other without fear of being eaten by a dragon. I mean, really now - when you're all set to go murder a bunch of your fellows, having them get killed by a dragon before you can stab them just ruins the whole experience for everyone.

 

We all sit down around the table, after a few minutes of insults and backbiting, and prepare to hammer out an agreement that will satisfy all parties except... well, everyone. So basically we're preparing to hammer out an agreement that will hopefully be equally unsatisfying to all parties, in true committee compromise fashion. This involves ceding territories from one group to another, trading them around like markers on a game board.

 

Don't ask me how this transfer of ownership actually goes. I mean, if you've ever read any books on the Dragon Break in High Rock, you'd get the impression that borders just suddenly WHOMP into new positions and everybody's all fine with how it happened. I'm guessing that all the maps were instantly rewritten and every living person in the world suddenly had the same thought: "Hey, it's suddenly a good idea to switch sides! Now I'm part of X territory instead!" Here you are, a simple bard... one moment you're in an Imperial province singing about how Ulfric should die, then some burke in a castle says "Nope!" and the very next instant you're a Stormcloak and singing about how the Empire should go to hell.

 

But whatever. I dropped off asleep after a few minutes, rousing every once in a while to completely change the geopolitical boundaries of the entire province with a few words, and just let the soothing sounds of backbiting, snarking, and threats roll over my head. Eventually it all comes to an end, and I have actually no real idea who "won" and who "lost" except that Ulfric is happy with me for some damn reason, maybe I accidentally conceded him Solitude or something. Hell if I know. Or care, for that matter. The point is, we're done with this pointless negotiation and can get back to our pointless dragon hunting.

 

After everybody has left on the long, cold walk back to their home territories, and hopefully some of them will get killed by trolls halfway down the mountain, I'm told that I have to learn a shout to defeat Alduin, which I was pretty sure I already knew, but apparently this is a new shout, with 10% more of the patented Alduin-Defeating Active Ingredient. Paarthurnax tells me that the dragon I've got to capture goes by the name of Odahviing. I consider running up some wanted posters of the offending winged lizard, but remember just in time that the whole point of brokering this peace agreement was to use Dragonsreach as a holding pen. Apparently if you shout the name of a dragon you can call the dragon to you. Nobody seems interested in my idea that we can just shout "Alduin" repeatedly and get him into the trap, so I guess we're going back to Whiterun to summon Odahviing.

 

Out on the Dragonsreach balcony, everything is ready. Rather than pack the area with dozens of heavy soldiers equipped with flame-resistant armor, Balgruuf has packed the balcony with... just a couple of the local constabulary. I guess I'm going to be the one doing all the work. I stand on the edge and shout "Odahviing" over and over, and eventually he does appear, grabbing a guardsman and tossing him over the edge before I can use my Dragonrend shout to bring him down to my level. Once he touches down, I draw him back a bit, and a huge wood and bronze yoke drops down and snaps shut around his neck, trapping him in place.

 

I thought this would have been a bit more... something. Impressive. In point of fact, I thought that I would have to capture the dragon, maybe by beating it into submission or something. But nope, it turns out that all you need to do is flip a switch. That's it? THAT'S HOW YOU CATCH A DRAGON? You just slap a collar on it? Oh my Gods, I feel like I'm back in Falkreath at the CD Shop again. I expect a little sign on the side of the yoke that says "made by Zaz" or something. Sheesh.

 

I wonder if the local shops have restocked their ale supplies.

 

Next: Chapter 49: By the power of Greyskulldafn!
Start at Chapter 1

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You'd think that with Dragons attacking everyone indiscriminately, the extant powers in Skyrim would unite against the common foe, or at least stop slaughtering each other for a while.

But no, that would, you know, like, be REASONABLE and stuff, and nobody wants that.

Instead, we've got to sit down at this here bargaining table and hash out an agreement that, no matter how you try to manipulate things, leaves one of the two main factions happy and the other unhappy.

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Much belated, but I'm looking over some blogs again before starting my own story and had to mention that some people wouldn't be opposed to a Zaz dragon binding. We have several dragon animations now, but few ways to use them and scaling keeps breaking the whole process.

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Much belated, but I'm looking over some blogs again before starting my own story and had to mention that some people wouldn't be opposed to a Zaz dragon binding. We have several dragon animations now, but few ways to use them and scaling keeps breaking the whole process.

I've done a bit of experimentation with this (the dead dragon in the CCAS aspiring mage/oblivion scenario was originally going to be a live dragon, and ended up dead because I couldn't figure out how to get it to do what I wanted).

 

I can confirm that dragons are very difficult to keep in one place. No matter how you override their AI, they keep wanting to fly away. They don't usually want to land afterward either, and often don't obey level geometry. Scaling breaks their animations and physics, particularly with their wings. They don't deal with non-flat floors well, standing and sitting at odd angles on tiny objects. They'll frequently forget how to attack or move properly.

 

I can't imagine trying to add Zaz bindings - good luck to the DD team, they'll need it. Quite frankly, I'm really surprised dragons work as well as they do in the vanilla game.

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