There's a lot of weird stuff in Skyrim. Cat people, dragons, magic spells, monsters. But even still, the sight of a dog talking in a broad New York accent took me by surprise.
This is one of the game's Daedric quests, A Daedra's Best Friend, and sees you reuniting the dog, Barbas, with its owner, Clavicus Vile.
Vile is a Daedric Prince who makes misleading pacts with mortals for his own amusement. In my case, he says he'll give me a magic axe I just recovered if I do him a favour and murder his dog with it.
I look at the dog. He's wagging his tail and looking at me with bright, friendly eyes.
I bring the axe down on his head. Turns out the axe is pretty weak. It only does 31 damage. I take it back to Whiterun and sell it to Eorlund at the Skyforge for 600 gold. Sorry, Barbas.
Moving swiftly on, my character, Andras, is now decked out in a weird assortment of armour - bits and pieces I've picked up along the way. My Dwemer helm from the last blog is still the best I've found, but I've combined it with some samurai-style Blades armour and steel gauntlets.
I look ridiculous, but that's one of Skyrim's 'first world problems' - "This new helm I've found looks terrible, but it has a higher armour rating than my old one. FML."
I decide to get involved in Skyrim's civil war. Being a Nord, I side with the Stormcloaks. They're fighting for their homeland against the invading Imperials, and I'm totally on their side.
I'd rather be a rugged, battle-scarred warrior than some chump in fancy, decorative armour. Plus, the Imperials are pompous jerks. Skyrim belongs to the Nords!
My initiation requires me to travel to the Serpent Stone far north of Windhelm and slay an ice wraith. It's a hell of a trek. This area of Skyrim is essentially Antarctica. The snow is thick, there are icebergs everywhere, and miles of freezing cold water to traverse.
I make my horse do it, of course. I'm riding Shadowmere, a reward from a Dark Brotherhood quest. Oblivion fans will remember him (or her?) As I move painfully slowly across the water, I stumble upon a useful glitch.
If you're in the middle of the water on horseback, dismount, then immediately mount again. Your speed should go back to normal as if you were on land.
As I approach the Serpent Stone, I'm worried about what an ice wraith actually IS. I haven't fought one yet. Is it a mighty troll? A magical beast? When I get there, I realise it's neither. It's a weird, flying snake thing that I kill with a few lazy swings of my axe.
Ulfrich Stormcloak, the leader of the rebels, is impressed, as is his general, Galmar Stone-Fist. If that's all it takes to impress these guys, then life in the Stormcloak army is going to be pretty easy.
Talking to Galmar is distracting, because he's voiced by Paul Eiding, better known as the voice of Colonel Campbell in the Metal Gear series. I keep expecting him to suddenly blurt out "I need scissors! 61!"
But back to my adventure. The civil war can wait.
I travel to Markarth, the old Dwemer city to the far west of Skyrim. The moment I step through the gates, someone is murdered on the street in front of me. It's like going to Newcastle for the first time.
There are problems in Markarth. A tribe called the Forsworn, who were the original inhabitants of the Reach before the Nords took over, are trying to bring the city down from the inside.