CS Sealey

New Zealand-based sub-editor, writer and author

No lollygaggin’

The sun rises over the snow-capped mountains, spilling light into the stirring valley, sparkling with dew. The weary elven traveller leaves the sanctuary of the hilltop town where she spent a restless night and shoulders her heavy pack of essentials. The tundra and windswept trees rustle quietly in the crisp morning breeze as her light leather boots carry her onwards. Somewhere above, a bird of prey calls in the cloud-speckled sky.

The traveller hears the snort of a horse behind her and steps off the road to allow an Imperial patrolman to pass. He grunts in what might have been thanks or disdain and then follows the road west. The traveller is used to being treated this way. The locals of this land are not altogether friendly to her kind.

At the crossroads, she inspects the signposts and then turns north, towards the mountains and the distant shape of ancient ruins where, the note in her pocket declares, a group of bandits has made their home. The valley is peaceful, despite the brewing war in the surrounding lands. Here, the locals have found a haven, a place of serenity to farm and live, but the traveller knows this will not last for long — the fight will soon come into the valley and the people will know pain, death and sorrow.

A few more steps and the traveller suddenly halts. A dark shape in the corner of her eye draws her attention up, up into the sky. The shape grows larger and falls faster to the earth and a sinking feeling comes over the traveller. By the time the huge mammoth crashes into the ground, the traveller has leapt off the road and into the relative safety of a small group of trees. Heart thumping loudly, she shrugs off her travelling pack, strings her bow and reaches for a rusty arrow. Taking several slow breaths, she peers around the trunk of the pine, draws the string taut with shaking hands, and looks skyward.

This is the land of dragons. This is Skyrim…

I had only been playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for a few hours by the time this happened. Of course, it was a glitch, but the thoughts running through my head were a lot less amusing. “Oh, crap, the dragons in this game are going to be huge if mammoth are their prey!” “I’m not ready!” “What if it sees me?” “I’m going to die!” “When did I last quicksave?”

Many more amusing glitches made themselves known over the following 430 hours of gameplay, including a mission where I was meant to pickpocket some guy near Whiterun, but that someone kept spawning clones of himself in a tight circle, so it was impossible to find the original victim, or pickpocket any of them without another of them seeing me. So I ran out into the wilderness and got a sabrecat to chase me all the way back to the bunch of clones, whereupon it started attacking them. However, it didn’t manage to kill every clone by the time a guard killed the noble cat, so that plan didn’t work. I eventually pickpocketed one of the clones and ran away from the guards with my prize before sadly coming back a few days later to sit out my sentence. Or so they thought.

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