Oblivion. That name alone brings back so many memories. Even as a young girl, I was a huge gamer, so when my brother bought it and I was allowed to play around 2008, it was my favorite game for years, and I must have spent over three hundred hours on it.
I don’t play it very much nowadays, but just a few months ago, I sort of broke the game (It wasn’t completely my fault), and when I bought it, I bought the Game of The Year edition, which included DLC called The Shivering Isles, which I had never played. I had every single achievement for the game except for the Shivering Isles, so I booted up my Xbox: 360 and popped the disc in, wanting to finally beat it, being the perfectionist that I am.
I made a new character entirely, a heavy armored tank. In all of the Elder Scrolls games, I usually created a Mage, the best race for it being a Breton since they excel at magic, but I thought I’d do something new, so I selected a race called a Nord, since Nords were generally tall and muscular, well suited for warriors and could carry a lot more items.
But even though back then the graphics were considered to be amazing and top notch, I really didn’t like the look of most of the races, to the point of taking the time to change the shape and color of the faces, as well as the color of the hair to unnatural colors for fun. I always laughed at how the male and females looked like each other, and even the voices were easy to laugh at.
But despite it all, I figured I’d try one, so I made a Nord, made her a warrior, and named her Hestia for her bright golden hair.
I chuckled whenever I entered dungeons, barreling through the enemies quickly whereas on my Mage I would usually cast an invisibility spell and sneak past them, who would never even know I was there from the beginning to the end.
After a while, as usually happens, I joined a faction in the game to level up more for the Shivering Isles, a warriors group called the Fighters Guild. There were branches in all of the cities, and the high ranks in each city would give you contracts, or requests, from people asking for jobs from clearing a dungeon to protecting someone, to finding a friend for money, and sometimes other skills or items.
I even joined the Mages Guild, although mostly just for the perks, like Enchanting armor and weapons with abilities which would otherwise be impossible to do on your own. There were only so many factions you could join, so about halfway through the Fighter’s Guild I decided to join another one, called the Arena, which was stationed in the main city of the game, the Imperial City. The Arena was just how it sounds, although the combatants had a choice to fight, and each battle would grant gold to the victor, advancements along with the gold every few battles or so.
I needed all the money I could get, and of course you could level up each skill, so I took a break from the Fighter’s Guild and joined the Arena, my tank hardly having trouble with the enemies.
After a while, I ranked to Champion, just a few battles away from the Grand Champion, the greatest combatant in the entire land, and I couldn’t wait to fight him and take the title of Grand Champion myself.
I wanted to level up a little more, so I initiated the Grand Champion’s quest, a request from him to investigate who his father was and why he, an Orc, had grey skin when most if not all of his kin had green skin (Bright green I might add). After traveling to an old ruined stone fort and discovering his father was a vampire, the Grand Champion told me to leave him alone, and when I started the fight with him he didn’t defend himself, letting me kill him, believing himself to be a monster. But since he didn’t fight back, the game counted the kill as a murder, although there were no consequences and I didn’t have any kind of bounty since it was inside the Arena.
But even though I’d done the Grand Champion quest a few times over the years, I didn’t even know it counted as a murder. At least, until next I slept in a bed.
After doing so I was awoken by a man in a dark robe and hood, whom I knew well from another faction called The Dark Brotherhood, since I’d beaten it a dozen times before. The group consisted of assassins who killed anyone upon receiving contracts from people who have been somehow wronged by the target. The man told me that since I killed someone without being caught I was skilled enough for the guild. I honestly groaned when I saw him; I hadn’t planned on joining the guild so early on if at all, and I had always joined the group before I fought the Grand Champion, so I really didn’t know it counted. And even though the guild had their own tank, I saw no reason for my clunky heavy character to join a guild of assassins. But since I didn’t know what would happen if I tried to decline, I accepted, receiving a dagger and a quest to kill an old man who was hiding at an inn along a random road.
So, to make a long story a bit shorter, after a bit of leveling and questing, I decided to do the quest and get it over with. I had found the inn while exploring before the quest, so I used fast travel, a feature to get to previously discovered locations as fast as the loading screen would go.
Upon entering the inn, the man at the desk mentioned that an old man named Rufio was the only tenant there (as part of the quest), so he had free beds. Rufio was, of course, the target, so I went to the unlocked trapdoor and entered.
His door was at the end of a hall, so I ran along it until I neared the room, dropping to a crouch and pulling out the dagger the hooded man gave me which I was to use. Rufio was sleeping in his bed, so I snuck over, raised the dagger in a power strike, and killed the old man with one hit.
Even though the hooded man would only appear if there were no other living NPC’s around and Rufio was dead, I was kind of creeped out to sleep in his old bed, so I ran out of the room to go and rent a bed from the innkeeper.
But as I got near the trapdoor, I saw another door. I looked at it for a moment, standing still. Like I had said earlier, I had finished the guild a dozen times before and I had gone through the first quest just as many times, but I had never looked in the room for some reason. I moved my character, walking up to it, wondering if it was locked. It was, so I picked it in less than twenty seconds, the door swinging open.
Upon entering, I looked around to see there were no candles or torches, and the only furniture was a bed and empty chest, and a blue flower in a pot on top of a crate in one corner. A support pillar stood just in front of the chest, which stood just in front of the bed. I didn’t want to bother lighting my own torch since I would technically be in the room no longer than a minute, so I clicked on the bed.
The sleep menu didn’t pop up however; instead a quest screen took its place. This surprised me, but I quickly grew excited; a new quest! I had previously thought I’d done every quest in the game, but since I’d never been in that room before, it made sense.
The quest was titled Rufio’s Neighbor. The journal entry that came with it said that my character was curious about the room because there was a blood stain on the floor.
The quest prompted me to go talk to the innkeeper about it, saying he’d probably forget that my character had broken into a room since she’d talk about the blood. So I turned around and ran out the room, up the trapdoor, and to the guy. He was by the counter as innkeepers usually are, so I clicked on him.
Scrolling through the conversation options, I found the “Rufio’s Neighbor” option, so I clicked on it. I’ve always used subtitles, so I didn’t notice at first since I was reading them and not really paying attention, when I looked up at his face and realized his mouth wasn’t moving. A glitch that happened sometimes, the NPC’s mouth would be still, as if I hadn’t picked an option, but there was always a voice clip. This guy, however, didn’t have a voice clip, so I just read the subtitles. They said that a few days ago a man had rented the room and paid for one day, but after a week had passed without the man coming up the innkeeper went down to make sure the man hadn’t snuck out. When he entered the room, the man was dead; he must have been dead for days.
The innkeeper had run back upstairs and out onto the road, waiting for hours until a patrol guard came walking by on his horse. He told the guard about the man, so the guard went to go investigate. There was nothing the guard could see other than the spot of blood and of course the body, and Rufio was still sleeping, completely unharmed, in his room. The guard wasn’t sure what to do, so he said he would search the road although he doubted he’d see anything, and that he would return shortly. The innkeeper said that the guard should return anytime then. He also said that he hid the body somewhere, although he wouldn’t say where.
I chuckled quietly at the true misfortune of the inn, and wondered if Rufio’s death would affect the quest.
The subtitles advised me to be careful, and the man’s face had a look of fear on it, and they said the killer might still be around, and that the innkeeper would have locked his door if his business wasn’t so bad enough; he also feared that Rufio would be upset about it and his only customer would leave. The subtitles said he didn’t even want to say anything in the first place, since (I just guessed) the NPC assumed I was just staying there for totally innocent reasons.
After it ended, I wondered at the missing voice clips, so I randomly chose another conversation option, to which he responded normally, the annoying voice playing and his mouth moving. Again, I clicked on the quest topic, to which only the subtitles replied again. I got sort of annoyed at the glitch, but just shrugged it off and exited the conversation. The quest screen popped up and prompted me to check the room again carefully, and then search for the body, and then search the body itself, for any clues as to the murder. I wondered if maybe the guy just committed suicide, and kept that thought in the back of my head.
I ran to the trapdoor, ran to the door, and went inside. Using the hotkey option, I lit a torch and looked around. Running over to the blood stain, I clicked on it, to which the quest screen popped up, telling me that it didn’t help me any further than the start of the quest. I looked around more, opening the crate and the chest, seeing it empty still, and running around the tiny room seeing if my character would “see” anything through the cursor. I couldn’t find anything, and the quest menu popped up as I walked to the center of the room. It told me to search for the body since the room didn’t offer any clues. It suggested I look near the inn, since the innkeeper probably wouldn’t stray too far.
I ran out of the room again, up the trapdoor, and through the door to outside. I looked around, and I noticed that behind the inn, a body was partially hidden in a bush. I snorted at the poor hiding spot. I ran up and clicked on the body. He had clothes, a few gold coins, a key to the room, and a note. The quest screen told me that whoever had killed him slit his throat and that no other damage was visible. So I took and opened the note in the character menu.
The note read, “Violets are blue, roses are red, I warned him of this, and now he is dead.”
I rolled my eyes at the cliché, but wondered if I should rule out suicide although the man could have planned it. I just decided to continue, and the quest updated, telling me to talk to the innkeeper. When I re-entered the inn, I saw a guard sitting on the counter stool opposite the innkeeper, so I did as the quest said, and talked to the latter. Just the subtitles appeared again, but he told me to talk to the guard sitting down, which was the one he had talked about.
I exited the conversation and clicked on the guard, and clicked on the quest topic. Again, just subtitles. It was really starting to annoy me, but I read on. The guard said he couldn’t find anyone, which was expected, but he said he would probably put the body on his horse and go to the nearest city, which was Bravil. The quest updated again after I exited, my character realizing that the blue flower in the crate in the guy’s room might have been a clue. So I ran down the stairs and into the room. I grabbed the flower out of the crate, and ran out the room, closing the door behind me.
Just as I was about to click on the trapdoor above me, I heard a noise. It was a strange noise, like a creature or something being conjured by magic (they’re quite useful), so I turned around. Lighting my torch, I walked to the end of the hallway, where I thought it had come from. Seeing nothing, I tried Rufio’s room. All I saw was his dead body. So the noise must have come from the other room. Turning around, I ran until I reached the door, opening it. I didn’t see anything, but my torch burned up after a couple of seconds. I lit it again since I had put all my torches on the hotkey, but in that second of darkness, I thought I had seen something.
Now, I’m not going to lie; I’m not brave. When I was younger, I used to be afraid to go in dungeons without invisibility spells, and when I played Morrowind (The previous Elder Scrolls game before Oblivion); I rarely left the town since the spells could fail even if you had the skill and Magicka to use them, and only in my later years really gained more courage. So when a flash of pixelated light appeared in that second of darkness, after I lit the torch I bolted out of there as fast as my heavy character would go, barely turning around to go up the trapdoor. At the time I didn’t really know what I saw, only that it was different, and probably not normal.
I guess I had left so fast that the quest menu didn’t have a chance to pop up until after I was in the main room of the inn, but it did pop up, telling me that I would just have to go look for the killer in Bravil and ask around. But it didn’t say anything about the flash of light. Maybe it was a glitch? I’d seen enough of glitches in the quest already, and then I grew mad. A stupid game wouldn’t scare me anymore. But just to make sure, I left and bought an invisibility spell from one of the Mages Guild members, a small one so that my tank could cast it with the limited Magicka she had, even though I had leveled it up just in case. So I went back down, cast the spell, lit my torch, and ran into the room. It took me a while to muster my courage and I had to cast the spell a few more times, but finally, once safely invisible, I extinguished my torch.
Immediately, I sucked in my breath, staring at the screen. Because staring at the wall, unmoving, was the previous Grand Champion, the one I had killed. I stood there for a moment, shocked. I almost missed recasting the spell once it ended, but he didn’t move. I looked around slowly, and it shocked me even more to see animals and people standing around as well, randomly dotting the room. I walked over to the Grand Champion, the Orc, seeing if I could click on him. It gave me the search option instead of the talk option, like it did for dead bodies. I looked at almost every animal and person in the room, careful not to let my spell die completely. I lit the torch, and they disappeared. I unlit it, and they were back. I went back and forth; light, dark, light, dark, and they always appeared in the dark.
Thinking of something else, I equipped a helmet that had an enchantment which allowed me to see in the dark, turning everything a light shade of clear blue. The people and animals remained, so I figured only the torch would make them go away. After a while, I grew bolder, and clicked on one. My spell vanished with activating something, but nothing happened. The character menu for the search option didn’t come up, and the person didn’t move. I looked closer, and saw that the people’s faces were pale, and their eyes, as well as the animals, seemed to be colorless as much as I could tell in the blue light.
I went invisible again when I heard another noise, turning around to see smaller people appear. I walked closer, thinking they didn’t look like people, but children. I knew because I played Fallout 3, which had children in it. But again I stood there, still invisible, looking at them. They looked like the children from Fallout 3, only with older graphics. I didn’t know what to do; I could still go to Bravil and continue the quest, but I couldn’t stop staring. The children looked the same as the adults, pale and colorless eyes. Looking at some of the other people, I saw that they were all bandits, and only the Grand Champion was a civilian out of the group. I realized that I killed a lot of bandits on that character. And the children had names, but Oblivion didn’t even have children.
I thought about it. Bethesda said they didn’t add children in Oblivion because of the child slaughter thing, but they added them in Fallout 3, a game made two years later. It was impossible to kill those children without mods, and I know two years is a long time, but Bethesda could have added them. I wondered if that was why there were no children. And the fact that the quest seemed incomplete somehow with its simplicity. And not to mention the voice clips that were missing, as if the actors never finished them. It was as if all the children that would have been in the game were in that room, somehow activated by an incomplete quest. I wondered if the quest was incomplete and supposed to be removed because all the people killed and children were stuck in the room.
I finally lit my torch and ran out, my courage finally giving up. I deleted the character so that the quest wasn't in my quest journal anymore. I didn’t want anything to do with it….
But just a few days ago, after waiting ages for a routine update, I made another character, another Nord. I’m going through everything again like I did with Hestia, but I avoided the Dark Brotherhood quest until yesterday. I wanted to prove that it was just a game, that nothing could hurt me. I traveled around until I found the inn, going inside and immediately down the trap door without even talking to the stupid innkeeper. I went back inside the room and clicked on the bed. Nothing. I ran out and tried again. I even tried to sleep in the bed, but it was labeled red on the cursor, meaning that it was totally illegal to sleep in it and impossible without mods. Frowning the whole time, I went and killed the innkeeper, purely for convenience sake and since no one would see. I left and slept in a secure location and got the Dark Brotherhood quest. I went back, and killed Rufio. I went back in the room and clicked on the bed. Still the bed was impossible to sleep in, even though I did everything almost exactly the same. Not even the blue flower was in the crate. I didn’t want to try making a whole new character which would be tedious so close to the other new character, so I decided that the quest really was incomplete, the children weren't added for the reason Bethesda said, and what I experienced was just a bug, fixed with the regular update. So I just went on with the new character, avoiding the Inn for a while.
At one point I paused the game, deciding to google the unfinished or unreleased quests on my smartphone. However, none of them listed on the wiki I found were even similar to the quest I had, so I gave up that search, not really wanting to look through the endless internet. I thought that if there was a glitchy quest like that, someone would have found it by now, so many years later. And the quest wouldn't have been the only thing; I know that several items were just pushed past the invisible barriers for convenience, hanging in the void that is the ungenerated and unmapped pixels. It'll eventually drop out of my mind forever, so at least I tried to find its origin, even if only on the common wiki. I just hope it never happens to anyone else, if they somehow find it. There wasn't any blood in that room (besides that one smudge that was purposeful), and the NPC's didn't attack, but they just stood there, but there was no animation of the regular living NPC's, just... Nothing.
And when I’m finished with the character and the Shivering Isles, I probably won’t play Oblivion again. It really is old, and that DLC was the only thing keeping me playing. But all I know is, if I ever do play the Elder Scrolls: IV Oblivion again, and kill Rufio, I’m going to give his neighbor a wide berth...
Written by: The Crimson Lullaby