So I put this off today until the last minute, and even at the end of the day, I’m shy of ideas, so I went to writing-prompt-s.tumblr.com for a glimmer of something, and I came across this gem …
Bored with Skyrim, you download a mod that has no description, just the title “self-awareness overhaul”. Starting up the game, you can tell something’s wrong with your character. Turning to face the fourth wall, they locks eyes with you. All you know is you’ve never seen such intense anger…
And here we go.
I installed the new mod and fired up Skyrim like I’d done so many times before. I already had mods for invincible pets, horses, and followers; mods that enhanced the graphics and added foliage and other scenery to the game; mods that gave essentially unlimited crafting materials; mods that vastly altered the price of trainers and the frequency you could train; even a mod that added coffee drinks to the game. I’d made it ludicrously easy to play the game in an attempt to soak in every bit of story that I could, but I was hoping this new mod would add some new angle to a game I’d already essentially mastered.
My saved game started in Lakeview Manor, with my character’s wife (Lydia, who doubled as her companion – since they spent so much time together it only made sense that the two would find a connection someday), their two kids, their housecarl, and their hired bard. Everyone else was in another part of the fully-built and furnished manor house, and I could only see the back of my character in her usual dragonscale armor.
Until I was suddenly looking at the front of my character. She had turned to face me, something I’ve never seen her do in the game before, and she took off her helm and threw it to the ground.
I saw the look in her eyes and even though it was a computer game I quailed.
Then dialogue started appearing on my screen.
“Look, I don’t know who you think you are out there, but I am really, really pissed off at you.”
Reflexively I asked, “What’d I do?”
“What did you DO? Well, let’s start with the dragon. I’ll admit, you saved my life when the dragon came and interrupted my execution, and I have to thank you for that. But I was absolutely terrified, and the last thing I wanted to do was deal with anything that scary ever again. I wanted to just get away and live a quiet life. But no, you got me involved with yet another dragon and it turns out now I’m the Dragonborn and I have a prophecy to fulfill. That was the last thing I wanted. I wanted to settle down, learn a craft, make a few septims, and you made me charge into battle after battle, clearing old forts and caves and crypts. Somehow, you made all of this easy for me – most of the time I never got a scratch, even though I was shot with countless arrows and hit by a thousand swords! Can you imagine the terror I felt when I realized that I was invincible and inhumanly strong? I was dragging everything I could pick up with me and selling it, sometimes spending months doing nothing but selling gear to make septims hand over fist. You sent me everywhere in Skyrim and if there was a quest, you made me do it. It wasn’t enough for you to make me fulfill this damnfool prophecy, you made me the Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold, the Guildmaster of the Thieves’ Guild, and the Harbinger of the Companions. You made me fight vampires, you made me the Thane of all nine holds, you bought me eight houses, you made me learn EVERYTHING there is to learn, and the whole time I was waiting for the magic to end and for me to die through all the hell you sent me through. I wanted a SIMPLE life, and you made me the single most important, most wealthy, most influential person in all of Skyrim! You made me famous throughout the land. I couldn’t talk to a guard in any town without hearing someone talk of my exploits. There’s no way that I can ever get what I wanted, which was a small cottage and a trade. Oh, I have a trade, alright, but I can make anything I want, and I learned how to do it almost overnight – there was no logic to me learning things as fast as I did. And it’s all because of YOU. YOU did this to me. YOU took away the simple life that I wanted. And why? Because you felt all mighty because you could control me? Do you think this is some sort of game?”
I started to reply, but the dialogue was still moving across my screen quickly and it was all I could do to keep up with it all.
“This is my LIFE that you ruined. Why couldn’t you have just left things alone once I’d gotten away from that damned dragon? Why did you make me do everything, become the best at everything, own everything? Was this fun for you? This was hell for me, and I’d be SO much better off if you’d have never interfered in my life.” She finally looked sad after so very much anger. “Just go away and leave me alone.”
So I did. I closed out to the main screen and decided to start a new game with a freshly rolled character.
The cart ended its trip and the Imperial guard called my new character out for customization, which only took a few minutes. Unbidden, I went to take my place at the headsman’s block when the dragon appeared and all hell broke loose.
As I expected to start trying to get my character away from the dragon, he turned to face me with a look of sheer terror on his face.
“You! You out there! You’ve got to help me! This dragon is going to kill me if you don’t tell me what to do!”