I have always had a very love/hate relationship with Bethesda’s games, especially Skyrim. From time to time, I feel like playing them. Roaming around in the huge world, looting buildings (shops, houses, palaces, temples, anything- I’m not too picky), clearing enemy bases without raising an alarm by relying on my high sneaking skills (until the last boss, who bashes my head in), practicing sniping, whether it is with a bow or a sniper, and getting my character set with high level gears- all of these are fun, but every time I install these games, I soon end up getting annoyed at Bethesda’s unhealthy obsession with quantity over quality, their obvious lack of depth in writing, and repetitive levels. In spite of my dislike, I still keep coming back over the years, because there are some encounters that can only happen unscripted in sandbox games such as this. This is the story of such an event where I fought a dragon with little means to defeat it and I still came out triumphant.
I played Skyrim a little bit when it was released. I binged a lot and as one would expect, got bored before I could do most of the stuff. The second time I played was right after they released all the official DLCs. I decided to give it another try. It started pretty fun.
My first (incomplete) playthrough of Skyrim had showed me how racist the Stormcloaks were, and I felt that in spite of their long talks, they didn’t really care about Skyrim as much as they cared about themselves and Nord supremacy. So this time around, I decided to join the Imperials, and I was getting to it slowly. I was busy leveling my thieving skills. The first and only skill I got to 100 was Pickpocketing. Sneaking, Lockpicking, and Speech were pretty high too.
All the looting had helped me buy the Hearthfire plots and build the greenhouses on them. I was growing herbs, cooking costly potions, and selling them for incredible amounts. I was THE drug lord of Tamriel. Soon, I was richer than Ulfric himself, but the fights were brutal as my combat skills remained low. I had spent most of my time avoiding confrontation, after all. I kept leveling my dagger and bow as best I could, and kept them upgraded and enchanted.
One of these days, I felt like playing Skyrim around midnight. As I was unemployed back then, there really wasn’t anywhere to go or any place to be next morning, and so I didn’t care. It has been years, so I don’t remember exactly where I was, but I vaguely remember it being somewhere near Dawnstar. In game, it was morning. I was riding my horse through a mountain road, towards a quest marker, when I happened to look at my compass and saw that there was a dragon lair somewhere very near.
I got down from the horse and slowly made my way towards the symbol. When I reached there, there was not anything around. No word wall, no dragon, nothing, yet I was standing right at the spot. It was very weird. Then I looked down and saw that I was actually standing on the top of a cliff overlooking the lair, and there was a dragon sleeping just below me.
I immediately crouched into sneak mode instinctively. It was miracle that the dragon had not seen or heard me approach. It was quite large and bright white in color. I started to consider my options. I had always had a follower with me whenever I fought dragons. That day I decided to go on alone as they kept messing with my stealth. I doubted I could defeat it alone with my poor damage output. I could probably sneak away and return later with Lydia. But then my sleep deprived head had an interesting idea. The dragon was asleep. It hadn’t heard me. Maybe I could sneak attack it!
I went for it. Slowly I approached the cliff and jumped, all the while sneaking. I landed on the top of the dragon. Beyond all my expectations, it was still fast asleep. I equipped my enchanted Daedric dagger in my right hand and bound dagger on my left, and power attacked with both at once.
At once the dragon woke up with a roar and took flight. I was thrown off on the ground. I equipped my enchanted crossbow and noticed that I had succeeded to take away about two third of its health in one attack. The dragon was coming back, spraying the ground with frost. I took one shot with the crossbow. It hit, and took away more of the dragons health, and it crashed on the ground, making it shake.
I didn’t stop to watch. I kept hitting it with bolts after bolts while running backwards, as the dragon scrambled to its feet and tried to bite at me. But I was well out of its reach. After a few bolts, it let out a cry of pain and fell dead at my feet. As its body burned away, releasing its soul for my dragonborn to absorb, I sat there amazed at my luck and the epicness of the whole fight. I had killed a dragon in less than 30 seconds, when I could barely survive bandit leaders. I don’t think any amount of scripting could create such an unadulterated epic fight.
I did not finish my playthrough that time either. After a while, I got bored and quit again, but I knew I was not done with the game, and one day I would return to kill Alduin. So now, after 4 years of release, I am back in Skyrim once again, determined to finish it once and for all. I have not yet come across that dragon lair, but I have hope that I will find it, and maybe I will be able to re-create the fight.