Avingard had slept better than he had in weeks. The bed in the Bannered Mare was more comfortable than the one in Dead Man’s Drink in Falkreath. He slept so well, in fact, that he didn’t hear the revelry that was going on below in the main room of the in, despite the fact that his room looked down into the main room.
After rising to his feet, and doing a quick stretch to remove any stiffness that had set in overnight, Avingard gathered his armor and greatsword and exited the room. He walked down the stairs, past the fire that was still burning furiously, and walked over to the bar.
“Good morning,” the lady behind the bar greeted Avingard. “I’m Hulda, owner of the Bannered Mare.”
“Good morning,” Avingard replied. “You have a nice inn with very comfortable beds. You must enjoy your work.”
“I enjoy this work well enough, but I’m ready to retire,” Hulda explained. “I’ve been thinking of selling the inn to Ysolda. Anyway, what do you need?”
“What have you got for sale?” Avingard asked.
Hulda explained the different foods and drinks for Avingard, which all seemed good to him. He would buy some food and some mead, and then ate his purchases as he sat looking around the room.
“So,” Hulda began, “what brings you to Whiterun?”
“I am here to pick up some supplies,” Avingard answered. “I am on my way to Solitude to join up with the Imperial Legion.”
Hulda stopped what she was doing and stared at Avingard, “This Civil War is tearing Skyrim apart. If you walk around Whiterun you can easily see what it is doing to families and friends. Splitting them apart.”
“I saw that yesterday,” Avingard said. “I saw to men talking to an elderly woman. I believe the woman owns the stall out front.”
“The men are Battle-Borns and the elderly woman is Fralia Gray-Mane,” Hulda explained. “The two clans were once friends, but with the Battle-Borns supporting the Empire, and the Gray-Manes supporting the Stormcloaks, there has been a lot of tension between the clans recently. Why do you want to join the Legion?”
“As a promise to my father. He always supported the Empire, and even helped fight the Thalmor in Hammerfell. He didn’t agree with what Ulfric Stormcloak did to the High King.”
Hulda didn’t seem to want to get into a deep discussion about the Civil War. “Have you had much experience in combat,” she asked.
“Not until I arrived in Skyrim,” came the reply. “I fought some bandits near Falkreath, but I haven’t had many opportunities in my life to do so.”
“Well,” Hulda began, “I do have two tasks that you would be perfect for. You will, of course, be paid for the tasks, and you will also gain more combat experience before you join the Legion.”
Avingard thought about what Hulda had just offered him. He wanted to head to Solitude without any delay, but the thought of making some gold seemed too good an opportunity to pass up. “What do you have for me?”
“Here. Take at look at this. Some of the Jarl’s men came by and left this bounty letter,” Hulda said as she reached under the counter and pulled out a piece of paper. “I’ll give you the second task when you return.”
Avingard took the letter and read it. It read:
By order of Balgruuf the Greater.
To all able bodied men and women of Whiterun. The bandits located in Silent Moons Camp have been harassing, robbing and attacking citizens and visitors.
A reward will be offered to anyone who kills their leader.
The task seemed like something he could handle, so he thanked Hulda and left the Bannered Mare.
Outside, in the market, the owner’s of the stalls were setting up for the day. Avingard didn’t waste anytime looking at the stalls as he rushed passed and headed towards the entrance to Whiterun. He quickly left Whiterun and headed down the road out of the city.
Turning north Avingard looked across the tundra, which consisted of small bushes and ponds, he stopped to smell the fresh morning air. Avingard then proceeded to Silent Moons Camp.
On the way, Avingard came across a shallow small pond. The one thing that set this pond out from all the others was that a skeletal hand was poking out from the water. In the hand someone had placed a steel sword.
Avingard looked around to see if anyone was nearby, and to find a clue as to what this represented. He couldn’t see anything so he slowly walked away.
He looked back at the hand every few steps, still confused by the hand, but then set his mind back on the work of getting to Silent Moons Camp and killing the bandit leader.