Jump to content
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

Diary of a Dragonborn Chapter 22: The Non-Thieves Guild

Content Consumer


In which our hero is shanghaied into joining a guild of thief wannabees.
Previous: Chapter 21, There's A Dragon, Everybody Follow!


Crisis averted or at least ignored, I walk up to the gate. The guard at the gate tries to extort money from me. I threaten him, but he seems unimpressed. So I tell him that I know it is shakedown, and he gets shaken up, and lets me in. The way I remember the conversation going was this:
--GUARD: This is a shakedown. Give me money or I won't let you in the gate. If you try to get past me in any way, me and all my corrupt guard friends I met at the Official Corrupt Guard Mixer last night will paint the ground red with your blood. We're a nasty bunch, you know. We kill people without a thought. So gimme money or die!
--ME: You said this is a shakedown?
--GUARD: Whoa, this is a shakedown? You're right! I never thought... my whole life has been a series of bad choices. Now that I look at it in retrospect, I realize that things could have been different... that I could have been a better person. Thank you, stranger; I'll let you in without fuss, and from now on I promise you that I'll try to find a more noble calling.


As I walk past his fellow guard, she tells me that Riften is the home of the Thieves Guild and how everyone in town is corrupt. Once inside the city, I overhear a conversation between two people talking about how Riften is the home of the Thieves Guild and everyone is corrupt. Then I'm approached by a big guy in steel armor telling me how Riften is the home of the Thieves Guild and everyone is corrupt. Then I walk past a woman and a man arguing about how she stole his money and he can't do anything about it because Riften is the home of the Thieves Guild and everyone in town is corrupt. Several local shopkeepers tell me that Riften is the home of the Thieves Guild and everyone in town is corrupt. I believe I may be getting some sort of vibe about this place.


Then this guy named Brynjolf walks up to me, a total stranger, and tells me that I've never worked a day in my life for all my money.
--a. How would he possibly know that about someone he just met?
--b. HE APPROACHED ME. I didn't walk up to him. He just picks every random dude who walks into town and shouts at them in the middle of the marketplace in the middle of the day that he wants them to join a super-secret order of thieves.
--c. He says it if I'm wearing beggar's rags. He says it if I'm wearing ebony armor. He apparently cannot differentiate between high-value goods and low-value goods. He's the BEST THIEF IN THE WORLD.
--d. If someone walked up to you wearing ebony armor and carrying a big damn axe, would you insult him by telling him that he's a thief and hasn't earned anything in his life?


Actually, I suppose it kind of makes sense... the Thieves Guild puts out an obvious dimwit as their front-door guard in the hopes that he attracts all the wrong attention (city guards, curious-but-not-serious amateur thieves, etc) and the other thieves go about their business, safe in the knowledge that they'll never be caught as long as the oh-so-efficient constabulary can't pick out the guild equivalent of a town crier and obvious snake-oil salesman.


Brynjolf assumes from the start that I want to join the Thieves guild. Why else would I be in Riften? I'd hate to disappoint the nimrod; it would be like kicking a dull but friendly puppy. So I say yes. New profession: Mace Raiden, Thief. Yes, I've sunk that low.


He tells me to steal a ring from someone and put it in someone else's pocket. It's a frame job. My first quest for the Thieves Guild involves framing someone. Not thievery at all. In fact, let's keep a tally of the crimes I commit in the guild, yes?
THIEVERY: 0 (pickpocketing doesn't count for two reasons: a- I only stole the ring to put it in someone else's pocket, and b- the POINT of the caper was not to steal a single clipped copper coin but to frame someone)


I succeed in my quest to frame an innocent man for theft. Brynjolf then sends me into the sewers to find the super-secret lair of thieves that, once you start asking around town, you find out everyone knows is down there. No wonder the guild has fallen on hard times. Their second in command is a nincompoop and the whole guild has some real security issues.


I wander through the sewers, killing beggars and... thieves. Yep. I can't get into the thieves guild without killing thieves. No wonder the guild has fallen on hard times; their initiation tests include killing guild members.


I've found the Thieves guild! It's a tavern! IN THE SEWERS! No wonder the guild has fallen on hard times; every item of food or drink they eat is laced with bacteria. These people live in human (and elf, and lizard, and cat) excrement.


Brynjolf seems surprised and pleased to see me. He's the only one who is pleased to see me. Everyone else I approach either threatens me with bodily harm or is extremely disdainful of me. Brynjolf rewards me for murdering his fellows by making me a member of the Thieves Guild. Guild membership perks include a wonderful place to sleep, fine food and drink, and pleasant company.


Actually, it still kind of makes sense - if I'm a new Thieves Guild recruit, they might like me. But I'm BRYNJOLF'S recruit, the guy that is universally laughed at by the other, REAL, thieves. No wonder they're leery about me. I'll just have to prove myself and my skills to them. I can do it! There must be something I can do, some thief-like activity such as second-story work or even pickpocketing. Hell, MUGGING, why not?
Brynjolf tells me to extort money from local shopkeepers. Whippee.


Okay, on to bigger and better things. Brynjolf is pleased with my efforts. I momentarily bask in the glow of his praise until I notice the other members of the guild chuckling in the background. Then I get all depressed.


Brynjolf invites me into the inner sanctum. This is pretty cool, actually... there's a SECRET DOOR. In a big barrel. I'm sure that nobody, not one person, say just for the sake of argument a city guard if they ever raided this place, would EVER think to look at a big closet-door looking thing. Still, this is the first "secret" thing about the guild that I've noticed yet. Maybe I'm actually moving up (down?) in the world!


The inner sanctum of the Thieves Guild, hidden behind the disgusting sewers and rodent-infested underground tunnels, is... a disgusting rodent-infested underground sewer!


I am introduced to Mercer Frey, the real head of the guild. He doesn't think I'm worthless at all. This guy doesn't look down on me, no sir. He actually HATES me. Big improvement. I don't know why, but he's really sour on me. I have the sneaky suspicion that good o' Bryn brought him some real winners in the past and he's afraid it's happening again. I have another sneaky suspicion - Mercer is a BAD GUY who will TURN ON ME and is PROBABLY A GUARD IN DISGUISE or maybe THE JARL'S MAIN INFORMANT or some other PERSON WHO WANTS TO DESTROY THE THIEVES GUILD IN GENERAL and ME IN PARTICULAR.


It's actually in writing floating over his head, in big bold letters that anyone can see. All he's missing is a big moustache to twirl... all he's got is a scraggly little thing, which tells me that he will betray me, but will probably do it incompetently.


But none of this is actually apparent to me, because I'm just a character in a game, and we never see it coming. We just go through our scripted days living out our scripted lives waiting to be stabbed in the back with what looks like a Dwemer sword. So forget everything I just said. Mercer Frey is the leader of the Thieves Guild and a really nice guy who just wants everyone to get along and bring back the glory days of the guild.


Anyway, he sends me to talk to Vex about a job she failed at. Vex, back in the less-secret part of the super-secret sewer base tells me that getting into the place was a snap but getting out was hard. Or something like that. I kind of lost interest when she mentioned that I'd have to be trudging through yet more sewers.


I headed out to Goldenglow Estate, which is on an island guarded by several really incompetent guards. I walked right up to the gate and nobody noticed. I couldn't get through the gate, because I'm a badass warrior and not a lockpicker. It occurs to me that there's another reason the guild has fallen on hard times - they spend their time recruiting big burly Nords in ebony armor wielding two-handed axes rather than, you know, sneaky-lockpicky-pickpockety people.


I may not be a thief, but I am observant, and I notice that the gate covers the bridge to the island, and... not much else. Wonderful security, that. I could swim to shore and be up on the island in a heartbeat. But I'm supposed to do this without attracting attention, so I head around to the back of the island, where lo and behold there's a trapdoor into the sewers.


I head on in the sewers, thankful that my ebony armor is already black and won't show stains much. For some reason, the inhabitants of the island fastness are a little quicker on the uptake than most; a little more on the ball. They've booby-trapped the sewers. Fire pits and oil and tripwires oh my! It's not much of a problem, though, and the flaming puddles of oil (at least, I really hope it's oil) do manage to kill off their rodent infestation. They'd thank me if they knew.


I manage to make my way into the building, and let me say that whatever crack group of security personnel trapped the tunnels, are no longer in residence. Here's me in big, clanky armor, "sneaking" around behind them as they stare straight ahead at walls, sit in chairs on the main routes completely ignoring any side passages, and generally behave as though they're all brain damaged. My theory is that they actually DID know that I was there. Mercer probably paid them off to ignore me. He'd do it as part of some nefarious plot to destroy me except for the fact that he's such a good guy who really cares for his employees, so what's actually going on is that he feels sorry for Brynjolf, wants the dumbass to succeed at something, so decided to grease the wheels for the first major job for a crappy protégé. I'm going to thank him when I get back to the home sewer. I'll bring him some disinfectant and deodorant.


I make my way upstairs to the elf guy who stopped selling honey to the owner of the place. Why the owner didn't just have the guards kill him, or evict him, or just demand that he sell honey again, I don't know. Neither does the elf guy. He really doesn't know much of anything. Very unhelpful. I convinced him to hand me the key to the safe, chatted with him a while, became friends, and told him that everything would be okay. The jackass then shouted for the guards with no provocation. I was a little worried, but I didn't need to be, because no guards came, the elf continued to sit there doing fuck-all, and I could probably have SKIPPED down to the basement, singing, opened the safe, cleaned it out, thrown the safe at a guard's head, and nobody would have noticed. Honestly, at this point I was baffled about whether my theory regarding Mercer's hand in this was correct, or if I had suddenly morphed into a master sneak specialist. Whatever. I got a bill of sale that told a better story than the elf. Apparently, it's all finders-keepers here, and the elf (who was, by the way, NOT the titular owner of the island... I think) sold it to someone else. Very mysterious. Very cloak and dagger. I have... no words.


I headed back up to the surface and proceeded to sneak my sneaky way to the beehives, and burned three of them down, because... I'm still not sure. The owner of the place (who may or may not be the elf, the person he sold it to, or some as-yet unnamed individual) wanted the beehives burned because the honey stopped flowing into the city. So destroying the supply of the honey makes the honey come. Makes perfect sense. I mean, if there's a magical shrink-a-big-blue-ball-and-then-expand-it-again spell, why can't there be smoke and fire fueled honeybees?
The current tally:


Back to Riften and my home away from home. Brynjolf is happy about the beehives being burned, unhappy about the place being sold. He tells me to go talk to Maven Black-Briar, who, being female, fails the facial hair requirement of being a villain. She makes up for it with her manner, which is distinctly unfriendly. So SHE's the owner of Goldenglow Estate. Not the elf guy. Or rather, she WAS, before the elf guy apparently stole it from her (how?) and sold it (to who?) and again, I have no words.


She's in a really upscale tavern, too. Upscale for the standards of the Thieves Guild, that is. It's not covered in shit. She must be a king.


Maven is pissed off about the whole selling-the-island thing. She doesn't mention the burned beehives, and I choose not to say anything about it, just in case that was just one of Brynjolf's little stupidities. She is apparently the REAL boss of the Thieves Guild, not Mercer Frey. She tells me to head to Whiterun and put another meadery out of business. They got a quick start in the mead-making trade and she doesn't like people who are more successful than she, so I'm to go... I don't know, burn the place down or something. She has a local contact who is staying at another inn. I'm as Nord as the next guy, but I was raised a Redguard, and sometimes all this constant mead swilling in taverns gets on my nerves.


After arriving at the Bannered Mare, the little Breton guy called Mallus tells me that the meadery's owner, Sabjorn, is holding a mead-tasting event for someone important. Probably the Jarl. I'm to poison the mead. And the best part is, the meadery's owner is going to give me the poison! See, the meadery has a rat problem, and I'm to poison the rats nest, then the mead, and the mead-tasting ceremony will be ruined.


I head out to the meadery, get the poison, and through the tunnels. There are some particularly nasty rats down here, but I deal with them easily enough. There is also a crazy half-naked guy running around, and he attacks me with lightning, so I kill him too. Poison the nest, and out the other way. I then put the remainder of the poison into the big mead vat. Tomorrow when the mead tasting event happens, it'll sure make people sick, as planned! Which will... um... somehow put the meadery's ownership in dispute? I'm really not sure about this. Honestly, I zoned out when various people were telling me various things about their evil plots. I really don't care anymore. After all I've been through in this Skyrim place, from the insanity of Markarth to the stupidity of Windhelm to the combined stupidity-insanity of Falkreath, I'm kind of walking through life on autopilot now. People tell me where to go and who to kill or what items to bring back to them and I just do it without thought or question. I'm not so much living my life as wandering through someone else's life, bored out of my skull, with only the constant wildlife and bandit attacks to break up the tedious monotony. Darkness abounds my soul and gloom shrouds my inner mind and I'm really starting to sound like one of those half-naked Forsworn guys, forever painting dark lines on their faces to express their inner pain and making bad poetry about how things were better when there were more human sacrifices. Maybe the color scheme of my armor is getting to me. I'd switch to the Official Thieves Gear but it kind of sucks protection-wise, and feces-colored brown isn't much of an improvement in the color.


Anyway, back to the business at hand. I walk into the meadery to get my money and get out of town before the mead tasting, when what appears before my eyes but the captain of the guard in Whiterun. I know he's the captain of the guard because that's what he says any time I get to within ten feet of him. "I'm the commander of the guard here in Whiterun." Yes, I know. You already told me that ten thousand times before. At least the officers under your command have the decency to break it up every now and then with comments about arrows and knees and the occasional sexual innuendo about my weapon and how I need two hands to hold it. You're all a bunch of idiotic, moronic, idiot-morons and WOW do I need to get some lighter-colored armor, and maybe stop staying in sewers and rat-nests all the time. It's really getting me down.


The captain tastes the mead, which is poisoned. I was a little confused, at first, considering that the vat of mead is next door and there is NO WAY the meadery owner could have gotten the tainted mead yet, but then I realize that he must be a mage. Why can't there be a magical mead-teleporting spell? Anyway, the meadery owner may be a mage, but he's also a real doofus, for not testing the mead before he handed it to the guard captain.


The guard captain tastes the mead, and immediately gets really sick. Not sick as in "can't move" sick, or "throwing up" sick, but... I guess it tastes bad? So he arrests the meadery owner. He has a bad pint so he arrests the barman. This is a guard captain with some unresolved issues. I had once wondered why there was a dead naked guy locked in the Whiterun prison, and it now occurs to me that he must have insulted the captain's mother or something; it seems like this dude is the kind of guy to take that a little too much to heart. He and the college librarian should get together. They could blow up the world. I'm given to understand that the penalty for murder is a small fine and the confiscation of stolen property, while giving someone a tummyache carries a penalty of life imprisonment here. Welcome to Whiterun, where anything goes except heartburn, which is an offense against the gods.


The guard captain is also a man of great political power, because he removes ownership of the meadery from Sabjorn and hands it off to Mallus. No wonder the guild has fallen on hard times, when the local guard captain has more clout than the local Jarl. Mallus is very happy, and sends me upstairs with a key to get a note that proves Sabjorn was working against Maven Black-Briar. Because we didn't already know that.


Next: Chapter 23, No Shit!
Start at Chapter 1


Recommended Comments

And here we start the Thieves Guild questline. Contrary to my usual play style, this is a one-shot straight through to the end, no detours.

Normally during play I'll actually be completing various sidequests without writing them down... I mean, who wants to hear about delivering a case of wine to Falk Firebeard anyway? This time, I actually didn't even do any sidequests... I just tried to get through the TG line as quickly as possible.

Maybe that should be an indicator of whether or not I enjoyed this section of the game.

A bit of history: this was actually the first thing I wrote for this playthrough. I only went back and started from scratch because a family member suggested I should. ;)


p.s. I'm leaving Monday to visit family for the holiday, and depending on schedule changes and the weather I may or may not be back by next weekend, so the next entry may or may not be delayed.

Link to comment

Several lols here, thank you.



Thieves' Guild is bad news.  Wipe them out, all of them.


Have a good time with your family, if you like that sort of thing.  Otherwise drink enough to make the time pass quickly.

Link to comment

NB: I love the fact that people are reading what I write. It's really quite validating, and makes me feel good.


I should point out, though, for the few people that want to follow the blog and get notifications when I add a new entry, that following individual posts doesn't actually give you notifications if I add anything new.


For that, you'll need to go up and click where it says "Content Consumer's Blog" and then hit "follow blog" instead.


That is all. ;)

Link to comment
  • Create New...