"Well met!"

While wandering through the world of Tamriel, I've come across some sights (and sites) which are quite enchanting. Until Michael Palin gets around to making some documentaries about his travels through Cyrodiil, I'll have to make do with the random observations below.

Shivering Isles
The Shivering Isles expansion for Oblivion marks a return to the more fantasy-oriented scenery previously found in Morrowind. Giant mushroom trees are back, and in my opinion the game is better for it.

Oblivion tried too hard to simply duplicate reality. Part of the joy of exploring a new game world is discovering the development team's unique new vision of the vegetation and architecture, but Oblivion was missing much of that.

I'm sure that items like Morrowind's original mushroom trees were created at least partly to maintain decent frame rates on machines of the era, but necessity led to a more interesting world. It's good to see that kind of creativity again.

A dusk-time panoramic view from one of the higher peaks. Notice some of the intriguing new plants growing here. Yes, I really should have removed the UI before taking the Screenshots. Maybe next time.

Imperial City Mayhem
You begin the game in the Imperial City, or more precisely, under it. As befits its importance in the land of Tamriel, the city is well patrolled and the populace generally behaves itself. Most of the time. But I was witness to an AI battle that got severely out of hand.

The Imperial City looks serene enough in this shot. But lurking in its streets are NPCs with inexplicably severe grudges.

Stepping out of a shop, I was attacked by Ontus Vanin. I jumped up on a low wall to avoid his blows while he summoned a skeleton to occupy the approaching guard.

The Watch Captain and a civilian have joined in the battle, fortunately drawing Vanin's attention away from yours truly.

To even the odds out a bit, Vanin summons a Dremora Lord. The civilian is now having second thoughts, I suspect. Note the archer's arrows sticking out of the other guard's back.

Now that one Imperial Watch guard has attacked another, things really start getting out of hand.

Vanin continues to summon critters and battle the guards. I bravely whisper encouraging words to the Imperial Archer.

In all the confusion, the Watch Captain has become persona non grata and is attacked by his own underlings.

Meanwhile, tucked away in a cosy corner, another pair of guards have a private battle.

Further along the canal-side path, more guards have gone berserk and are wailing away on each other. Time for me to jump out of the way.

As one guard died, he flew backwards over the railing into the water. Geez, talk about hamming it up.

Part of the aftermath. Final death toll: seven Imperial Watch guards plus Carmalo Truiand, the Watch Captain, and of course Ontus Vanin who started it all.

While amusing, the Oblivion's AI rarely produces this sort of fraternal battle. Fortunately I saved the game just before it began. Reloading and watching the action unfold in different ways can be quite entertaining.

Roxey Inn
The Roxey Inn is north of the Imperial City on the Red Ring Road. Although I came across this humble establishment early in my travels, it wasn't until much later that I came back to handle quests in the area. This delay, combined with the game's auto-leveling of NPCs, led to an amusing situation.

The Roxey Inn is a very modest, weatherbeaten place. Just a bump in the road. But somehow it seems to attract an extremely sophisticated crowd.

Inside, three adventurers were decked out in fancy glass amour while another had full daedric. I guess business is pretty good and they had to celebrate!

Cheydinhal
While wandering through the hills, I happened upon the town of Cheydinhal. So far, this is my favorite spot. It's an idyllic oasis from the rigors of battle. Perhaps Iíll even put down virtual roots there.

Early one morning while coming over a hill, Cheydinhal comes into view.

As with many towns, Cheydinhal is dominated by the local chapel. But the setting is softened by lush vegetation along a small river.

It's early in the morning, so most residents are still in their homes while the guards walk the beat.

A series of elegantly arched wooden bridges carry townsfolk from one side of town to the other. And did I mention it was a lush setting?

There aren't a huge number of merchants in town, but the essentials can be found.

What's a town without a castle? A bit of political intrigue lurks under the relaxed facade of Cheydinhal.

The Orange Road
Midway along the Orange Road one has climbed high enough to provide some great views of the Imperial City. From this vantage point, the city is far enough away that the lack of terrain detail looks quite natural. In other words, these shots avoid those awkward middle-distance fuzzy textures.

Late afternoon after a day of walking the Orange Road. This spot is perfect for taking a bit of a breather.

Further along the road at dusk, another fine view. The tranquility was shattered not long after when I ran into my first minotaur in the wild.

Cloud Ruler Temple
This temple is in the far north of Cyrodiil, a bit before one reaches the Skyrim region. Naturally, it snows a fair amount up here. There is a distinct Asian feel to the architecture.

Late in the afternoon, two of the Emperor's Blades practice their skills. You can learn a bit by studying the techniques employed.

Anvil
Anvil is a port on the Abecean Sea along the Gold Coast. The golden grasses look good in nice weather, but during rain storms they are an almost flourescent yellow-green.

This overall view of Anvil was taken from a just outside a thief-infested cave.

A couple of ships are tied up down at the docks. And there seems to be room to add another, perhaps offering passage to a user mod'ed land. Hmmmm...

Anvil's castle is located just outside of town on a small rocky island. Its roofs feature the same terracotta curved tiles found throughout Anvil.

The end of another long day of adventuring. Time to curl up for the night -- or perhaps skulk through shadows and liberate some manor's finery.

Leyawiin
Speaking of rain storms, it seems Leyawiin has angered the weather gods. The town is almost constantly beset with thunder and lightning. While it is a more swampy, damp area at the best of times, many of the storms are no doubt caused by the Oblivion gate just outside the town.

A rare clear day just outside Leyawiin Castle. Almost nice enough for a picnic. But an Oblivion gate is not too far away.

As I venture through the land, I will add to this modest travelogue. Don't worry, I'll be careful not to include any spoilers.

See you on the road!