Alduin gets his first smackdown at the Throat of the World. I think it's going to be the real thing, that he's going to be dead-dead, but no; once I've subdued him he tells me that I can't actually kill him there for some supernatural reason and then he gets up and goes flapping off towards points unknown.
My associate Parthanax, also a dragon, is perched on an outcropping nearby nursing some nasty-looking burns. He's friendly-for-a-dragon even though I accidentally gave him a double-dose of lightning when I mistook him for Alduin during the going's on. Hell, they all look the same and they were both flying around looking like dragons and there were flaming boulders dropping out of the sky all around me so it was kind of hard to concentrate. Who can blame me? No, right?
Parthanax tells me that I have to go see the Jarl at Whiterun about some foolishness required to help take care of the swarm of juvenile dragons generally plaguing the neighborhood and fucking up what could otherwise be a lovely civil war. So I carry myself off to Whiterun and meet with the snotty jarl there. He's sort of willing to help but not if it's going to give advantage to the folks on the other side. Turns out later that this guy sits with the Imperials but I'm not sure I have a horse in that race yet.
The jarl says I have to go back to High Hrothgar, next door to the Throat of the World, and talk to the creeps there about setting up some kind of peace talks.
The folks at Hrothgar are weird monks called Greybeards. The guy I deal with there may or may not be in charge; it's hard to tell. He tells me that sure, they'll host the talks but I have to go invite the leaders. I need to go to Solitude to see the Jarl there, and to some other city, Windhelm, to see the Imperial General in charge of the Skyrim occupation, and get them to come to High Hrothgar.
So I carry myself off to these places and talk to those people and after a bit of parry and thrust convince each of them that it is their best interest to climb the highest mountain in Skyrim, maybe all of Tamreal, and go have a bit of a chat in the remotest place imaginable.
Mission accomplished, I have to go back to High Hrothgar for the peace party. It's a long way, weeks, and it's cold, and it takes a while to get used to the altitude, and you have the freak hermits to look forward to at the end of the journey. Again.
Finally, I get there, you get there, everybody gets there. The talks start. It takes a while to even get the rebel jarl dude to sit down at the table with the Imperial dude. Rebel dude has to posture and spit; what a douche. Finally he sits and the talks themselves get underway. There's four or five people on each side of the table, Imperials here, rebels there, one of the Greybeard nutjobs at the head, and me at the foot.
Back and forth, back and forth. My eyes roll back in my head.
"You're a dink." "No, you're a dink." "You're a bigger one." "Bigesterer." "Bigeresterereresterer."
I steal glances at Elisif, the hottie readhead Jarl of one of the western towns, Markarth or Solitude, and think vague naughty thoughts. You think a guy like me and a girl like her... Nah, probably not. She's on the Imperial side, anyway, and if I had to choose sides in this matter, I'd say the Empire is in the wrong even though both sides are annoying, full of themselves, and generally icky.
Then, finally, unexpectedly: "Bxiie, what do you think?"
"Well, um… " I've been space cruising for lo these past twenty minutes and have no idea where the conversation is. Oh, the rebels think that each side should exchange a town to the other to show some something about something. Good faith, if you will.
How's this? "General, maybe you'd like to have the burned out shell-of-a-town at dragon-devastated Winterhold in exchange for that hottie Jarl's town, what is it, Solitude? Markarth?"
The Imperial general says, "Clearly you need to put down the bong and come up with a real answer. Like, prosperous Riften, perhaps?"
I says, "No, really, Winterhold has many nice things about it. It's really nice in the spring. There are great building sites right in town. They've got the whole urban-renewal thing going on; values are going up-up-up."
Everybody just looks at me.
I'm seated in the chair at the end of the table. I find that I can't get up.
So I sit there and look at them. And they sit there and look at me. For about ten minutes.
I'm not in conversation mode; I have no conversational options. I can't select my items menu.
I sigh and reset the console. When was my last save? Welcome to High Hrothgar; I get to sit through twenty minutes of squabble again.