Chapter 21: Time To Tunnel
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After spending a few minutes studying the picturesque scene before me I decide that if I’m looking for work and a chance to truly adjust to this place the best place for me to go would be the mine. I begin to walk down towards the quaint little cave, and nod at a few passerby's as I walk past them. 

The town of Dawnstar is a small, cold place and I’d be wise to gather some money and get used to this place before I begin to plot and scheme. As I move through the small town my mind quickly becomes analytical. I need to think strategically and quickly because even from what I casually know of this setting, now that I am in it, I can see why Ghriza wanted me to become powerful before I arrived here. 

Aurbis generally, and Nirn specifically are fairly dangerous places. So long as I either keep my head down or actually embrace this setting and work to become stronger, it is nothing I can’t handle but this is a world with gods, immensely powerful spirits that can break reality in ways even my newly empowered self can’t dream of matching, demons, usually lesser spirits compared to gods who are still power and reality-warping, and other kinds of supernatural entities. 

The mine is located not far from the town inn, and I quietly wonder how many of the town’s miners spend their nights inside of the small inn. As I approach the mine I can see workers around it, some tending to the smelter that looms large beside the entrance to the mine, while others sit on stiff looking wooden chairs. The chairs are not far from a large Nord-style house. 

As I glance at them I feel some of their memories slip into my mind, and I mentally note that none of them are who I am looking for, the owner of this mine. When I am not far from them I approach one of the Nord miners who looks up at me curiously. I also begin to be able to hear the conversations occurring inside of the mine, but I know how weird it’d look if I just went into the mine without speaking to anyone, as a complete stranger.

Before I begin to speak I see a number of text boxes appear in front of me. These text boxes all contain possible topics of conversation and suggested ways of beginning a conversation leading toward those topics. 

This is a… positively bizarre manifestation of my system, but it’s also not something I have to heed. I am not pigeon-holed into forcibly accepting the word choice of any of these text boxes, it’s just a mechanism to help me if I had no clue what I was doing.

“Hail! I’m a traveler, looking for work. Is this mine in need of hard-working laborers?” I ask, causing the man to nod. My voice is much deeper than I anticipated it being, and I can hear the slight accent I have clearly. I actually enjoy my new voice, especially since I can already use it to communicate in an array of languages.

“If you’re looking for work, and willing to work, I bet old Leigelf would be willing to put your arms to use.” The man tells me, and as I continue to look at him I feel more of his memories casually seeping into my mind.

“He’s right inside of the mine, preparing those of us who didn’t work through the night for the day. Head on in and you’ll probably see him right away.” The Nord tells me. I nod at him and turn towards the door. 

Truthfully I can actually already hear the man the Nord has just told me the name of, Leigelf. I can identify him by the fact that since I am looking for him the subtitles that appear at the bottom of my field of view auto-focus on him. 

I approach the thin wooden door that helps keep the mine warm, a little, and open it. Stepping into the mine results in me getting hit by a warm breeze that leaks outward and helps warm the bones of the men resting around the house. It feels pleasant on my skin, and I eagerly step into the mine, shutting the door behind me. Simply being immune to harm from things like cold damage and cold weather doesn’t mean I automatically begin enjoying the cold. 

The distant voice of Leigelf sounds much closer and comes through much clearer, even with my supernatural hearing, now that I am inside the mine. The mine is a dimly lit place and the smell of earth mixes with the scents of sweat, damp clothes, and other less than pleasant scents. In the distance, I can hear a man shouting at some miners, and further still, I can hear the soft sounds of picks digging away at stone and dirt, probably working to expand the mine.

My senses adjust to my new settings immediately and I begin to be able to see a whole new array of scent trails. I study them as I begin to step past the entrance into the mine. 

“Alright you loafs, go ahead and spread out. Let’s remember why we’re here…” Leigelf says, in the distance. For a moment I wonder what he’s about to say. 

“To show that our ore is both rarer and better in quality than the ore from Ironbreaker Mine!” The man shouts, to a middling amount of cheers from his workers. I chuckle, having not expected that to be what the man says. He certainly has… some skill with giving pep talks.

I walk through a poorly lit section of the mine, one which is quite narrow but not suffocatingly small. The place is lit by lanterns that are positioned across wooden beams that line the roof of this section. They are clearly meant to be supports, but I have to wonder how good they actually are at their job. They are slowly thinning and I can imagine that at some point in the future they may fail. 

Ordinarily, I’d be concerned about this, but I have magic that can suitably repair this. So for me this doesn’t represent something to be afraid of, but rather an opportunity to take advantage of. All I have to do is seize this opportunity.

As I explore the mine I allow one of my streams of consciousness to pepper the area with uses of “Observe”. I feel my skill with the ability improving with each use. Each use reveals information about things from the walls that surround me to the lanterns that provide the poor illumination that lights the way deeper into the mine. 

After spending about five or so minutes wandering the mine I find myself in a much wider chamber, which is a much better lit section of the place. A number of figures stand by veins of ore and take their picks to the veins in search of valuable ore or gemstones. An older man stands in the middle of this commotion and mutters his own observations as he watches the miners work hard. 

The memories that fill my mind as I focus on the older man are unpleasant. With each usage of soulseer the perks grow stronger and the longer I look at the man the more that I can clearly “recall” and experience his memories of him fighting his wife.

Leigelf’s wife is the owner of the other mine on the other end of town. His memories involving her start out sweet but in recent weeks have taken a grim turn. The other day he even performed a foul ritual that is meant to cause something sinister to occur to his wife. He is surprisingly dark, and I can appreciate that and make use of it in the days to come.

The section I am in seems to be the main focus of the current set of workers. There is even scaffolding set up to allow for the walls of the mine to be properly explored, studied, and for the precious ore within it to be extracted.

None of the figures have noticed me, all too wrapped up in their own work to be able to catch the silent stranger in their midst. I allow myself a second to study the mine, as I have never been inside of a mine before. 

There is something respectable about the sort of work occurring here. It is hard work that stimulates the body, and many unwary miners in Panem met their ends due to mistakes made by a lack of focus. That sort of knowledge is only known to me because of the memories once owned exclusively by Katniss Everdeen, which I absorbed while slaying her mere hours ago. 

I wait for a few moments, not wanting to surprise Leigelf. It takes him a short while before he turns around and notices me. As he does he studies me curiously. 

“Hello. Are you here from Iron-Breaker Mine?” He asks, feigning neutrality. I can tell that the man is… Not the smartest figure in the world, given how he asks me this after shouting about Iron-Breaker Mine not a few minutes ago. I shake my head and his expression visibly brightens. 

“Well in that case, well-met stranger! I am Leigelf, the owner of this here mine.” He says, instantly warming up to me. I chuckle and step toward him, offering the man a handshake. He takes my arm and begins to energetically shake my hand. 

“Is there a reason why you decided to enter my mine?” He asks, before smiling at me. “Aside from to gawk at its beauty, of course.” I visibly smile at his remarks and begin to speak. 

“My name is Urumar Skabek, I’m a wonderer looking for work.” I tell the man, causing the figure to look at me a bit more seriously. His eyes narrow and for a moment I can kind of see how he could keep an expensive mine like this up and running. 

“Well stranger… What can you do?” He asks, causing me to smile fiendishly and flex my muscles. 

“I am a man of considerable strength. If you allow me I’d love to join your workforce, even if it is just for a day or two. I can mine, or I can be put to use extending the mine.” I tell the human confidently. He pauses as he considers my offer, and while the man might not be the smartest human to ever live I can respect how earnestly he takes his work. It is no doubt his pride in his mine that soured his relationship with his wife. 

“Hmm… You’re an intimidating figure ain’t you?” He asks, as he continues to size me up. His eyes are slow and methodical, and as I study him I momentarily consider flexing some of my newer powers. There are a number of ways that my powers could be used to speed up this interaction, but if I want to flex my powers I should be thoughtful in their application. 

I am entering Nirn with a healthy amount of power right out the gate. I am strong enough that as long as I am thoughtful and don’t act like a dictator or a monster right away I can almost certainly find my footing in this world. In this land of magic not only do I have knowledge of science and resources squared away in my warehouse, I also have keen senses, and potent magic (even if I am inexperienced with the usage of said magic).

All of this put together affords me a lot of leeway. I want to hone my powers, as this is a dangerous setting with active gods, dastardly demons, and other, worse things lurking just out of view, but for now, all I need to do is just be thoughtful. I give it a bit of thought and decide to allow this interaction to play out naturally. 

“Would you like to go to work hand tunneling? I have a few miners, deeper in the mine, doing that.” He tells me. I think on it for a moment and subtly check my mental mini-map, before nodding. There is greater wealth to be found in this mine than the quicksilver ore that has been discovered to date, and I know that if I don’t step up and take advantage of this chance to get in with the mine’s owner I might miss out. 

He grins and slaps my back before pointing past the scaffolding in the distance. 

“Head down past the scaffolding. You’ll soon catch up with Lodng and Hildro. They are the overseers of that particular project. Tell them I sent you and to put you to work. I’ll pay you… let’s say I’ll pay you 15 septims if you put in a good day’s effort.” He tells me. 

“I might pay you more if you can impress Lodng and Hildro. So be enthusiastic about this opportunity.” He tells me, and I can hear the smirk on his lips as readily as I can see it. I dismiss myself and walk towards the scaffolding. 

It only takes me a minute to reach where my supervisors are, and another minute to explain the situation to the two Nords. As soon as I do they both sigh and put me to work. 

I am given a cheap pickaxe and told to head to one of the walls nearby. As I head towards the wall and begin to pick at it with my pickaxe I quietly shift my skill affected by “Hyperspecialization” to another skill. A new skill I acquire as soon as I begin to pick at the wall. “Mining/Tunneling”. 

When I do I immediately begin to get to work and I am thankful for a few of my physiological shifts almost immediately. I begin to use the pickaxe to dig into the wall and slowly but surely dig out the obstacle. 

I possess the strength, dexterity, and intelligence to be able to easily notice where the wall in front of me is weakest with little more than a glance, and the damage-amplifying perks needed to make the wall crumble in mere minutes of precise swinging. 

Each swing also boosts my “Mining/Tunneling” skill which in turn slowly but steadily boosts how much damage I deal with even the most casual swings of my pickaxe. I am able to easily extend the mine, thanks to the fact that my enhanced physiology includes things like an undead creature’s endless stamina and the fact that I don’t need to take a break to eat. Even when my fellow miners call out to me to take a break all I do is sit next to them and sip some water to look normal, before getting up and getting back to work. 

My first morning in Skyrim is spent with me putting all of my mundane muscles to work. By the time I am told to head to Leigelf to get my pay for the day I have extended my wall several dozen feet. 

We have even discovered new ore veins! I am told that for a first-timer I do incredible work after I tell my companions that I have never tunneled before. The skill has also leveled up numerous times, making each swing of my pickaxe deliver a devastating blow to any walls I am attempting to tear down or any earth I am trying to dig through. 

When I leave the mine my wallet is 25 septims fuller and I have been told that I am welcome back anytime. I am also keenly aware that my “Fame” has increased, with “Fame” being a measurable statistic, somehow, that allows me to track my well-known I am. It seems that every time I do something like befriending people, putting notable work into something or even completing quests, my “Fame” steadily gets higher and higher. 

I stand outside of the mine and peer at the clear sky. The sun is high in the sky, and as I glance at it I can see the magic it leaks, which steadily moves towards and then onto Nirn. The innate knowledge I possess informs me of some of the mechanics underpinning and supporting this reality, which I find quite fascinating.

The sun in this universe is itself a gigantic rift left behind when an ancient deity, Magnus, fled this plane for another. He was weakening as he did this so he wasn’t able to flee it elegantly and in his desperation to run he tore a hole through reality which allows magical energy to flow from another dimension into this one. This had the consequence of infusing all life in Mundus with at least some magical energy.

I was gifted innate sensitivity to magic by Ghriza and so I can casually see the magical energy that suffuses all of life in this setting. I can see it in the form of motes of energy that seem to perpetually float down from the sky, and which also exist in every living being. 

I stop looking at the sky after a few moments and decide to explore the rest of Dawnstar now that I’ve put some work in and become known to at least one potential employer.

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