In the last four hours, I've basically accomplished two things. One, I made it to the rank of House Cousin in house Redoran, which is a little odd. I guess I'm adopted now.
If so, that makes a bit of sense, seeing as how I achieved this rank by defending Aythn Serethi from assassins, freeing his son from captivity, and then exonerating said son of the murder of his friend. I'm counting that as one task, though, because the game gives you those quests one after another, and does not require you to traipse all over the map to complete them, so it actually feels like a unified story, with a beginning, middle, and end. It was, all-in-all, pretty satisfying, and subtly ties in to the main quest in a way that fleshes out the world, without making it all about you (the younger Serethi was mind-controlled by a cursed ash statue given to him by a member of Dagoth Ur's cult, for reasons that as yet elude me). I wish more of the side-quests were like this.
Speaking of which, the fucking Fighters' Guild. They're the reason I've accomplished so little. Last time I played, I spent much of my time venturing to Vas, to slay a Necromancer on behalf of Percius Mercius in Ald-ruhn. Vas is near the northern-most tip of the map, on an island off the coast of Vvardenfell. Even if I weren't avoiding fast travel, it would still be a significant trek, because there is no boat or silt-strider or teleport service anywhere near there. But I went, because seeing more of the island is kind of the point of this exercise.
And then I trekked back to Ald-ruhn, to turn in the mission, because there was really no other way to proceed. So, what is my next mission for the Fighters' Guild?
To collect a bounty on a murderer who is hiding out in Sargon. Where is Sargon, you might ask.
On an island, to the south of Vas, off the north coast of Vvardenfell. Almost 90% of the way back in the exact direction I had just come from. And that is not exaggeration, either. On my trip to Vas, I made a habit of poking my head into various caves along the route. One of them was Sargon.
I did not, however, clear it out, because the enemies were pretty difficult. If I had but known, I might have toughed it out, and hopefully saved myself a trip, but knowing this game, that probably wouldn't have helped. I wound up having to reload my game at least a dozen times over the course of the cave, though in the end, it was worth it, because the bounty I was hunting had a sweet-ass Ebony Cuirass. As a heavy armor specialist, that single acquisition boosted my power significantly.
And it gets better, on my way back, I decided to tackle a couple of other caves that I fled from on my initial trip, and one of them Ibar-dad, contained an incredible variety of loot, including a Daedric shield, axe, staff, and katana. That is end-game equipment, and incredibly valuable to boot. Unfortunately, it is also heavy as hell, so I wound up having to make my way to Mournhold (the only place you can get a reasonable price for that stuff), looking like this:
Not a dignified way to travel, but mostly worth it, because the Daedric katana beats anything I have by a significant margin. There were only two problems. The first is that my long-blade skill is only 40, which means for the time being, I am back to whiffing at least half the time (and so, even with my badass katana, I've got a lower dps in the short-term).
The second, I only discovered while writing this post - the cave of Ibar-dad also contains what may be the most powerful shield in the game, but I completely overlooked it. Since I cleared out the monsters, it should be a simple matter to retrieve the damned thing, but that means trudging back to the north coast a third time.
I'm going to do it, though. The lure of treasure is too strong to resist.