Next, I went to join my two comrades at our agreed meeting place, and discovered that they were already involved in a brawl with a horde of bush-dwelling rebels called "The Forsworn", along with a few indigenous monsters picking at both sides. I jumped into the fracas, followed by my assistant, followed by my bloodthirsty horse. (I'd parked him on a hill 300 yards away but when he heard clashing swords and explosions he just had to get involved.) Then I looked up and saw that a big green dragon was coasting around overhead, barfing fire down at everyone indiscriminately.
It was a confusing mess of a battle, and when it was over I found that my assistant had taken some accidental blows from one of my comrades and they were having their own personal feud, casting spells and calling each other names, in the middle of the scattered corpses of the Forsworn and the soggy wreckage of their riverside encampment.
My assistant had summoned a demon with a longsword, and my comrade had summoned a magical rock monster. The demon was yelling incoherently and making crude overhand chops at the rock monster. (His sword was really too long to be of any practical use.) Meanwhile, the rock monster was making an irritated gravelly sound and trying to throw lightning around at my assistant, who was in turn pitching spikes of water at my comrade, who was ducking ineffectively behind a fencepost and wailing things like "I yield!" and "Run; we are routed!"
I sprinted up the hillside until they were both well out of sight, and sure enough, my assistant ran after me to avoid being lost. Once she caught up I ordered her to "Wait here", which she did for the next half hour while I recovered my witless comrade and went spelunking into the ancient halls of Sky Haven Temple.
Got some loot, earned some quest points, wham-bam, back out on the surface. My comrade stayed behind so I fetched my assistant and was on my way. Some people just don't get along...
After that, I went wandering. I cleared out a mine that had become infested with undead, much to the surprise of the mine worker, who had been standing around outside waiting for a whole legion of troops to arrive. Clearly he didn't know - I'm more badass than a legion of troops. It was here I learned that if I cast the "sneak" spell repeatedly, no matter where I was or what I was doing, I could earn a tidy amount of progress points towards my next level. Yaay! An exploit!
While riding my horse up along the bottom of a river (as you do), I found an abandoned rowboat, with some jewels scattered in it. Then, while riding my horse up the almost vertical slope of a snow-crusted mountainside (as you do), I found a little alcove between two rock faces. A skeleton was hunched in the back corner, with a few weapons scattered before it. The pathetic remnants of a solo adventure gone wrong. I love these little random discoveries.
I rode up to spooky old Ragnvald, plunged into the dark hallways, collected two freaky looking skull artifacts, and planted them into sockets on a big stone altar.
The top of the altar blasted apart and a butt-ugly wraith came floating up...
...So I crushed his face in with my hammer. For my trouble I got some magic armor off the wraith's twisted corpse, and learned a word of power that was glowing on a nearby wall.
I sold a bunch of freshly enchanted stuff to the mage doing research in Understone Keep, and invested 500 gold in his business.
I visited the apothecary in Markarth and invested in her business, then collected a potion for delivery.
I sold some stuff at the blacksmith, and tried to invest in the business but was not given the menu option. A bug?
I collected a bounty from the leader in Understone Keep, and returned his father's shield to him. I then accepted his offer to become an "honorary Thane". I'm not sure what that means, but hey, why not?
I delivered a potion to the leader's assistant, then purchased a house from him, then a bunch of home furnishings.
I got into a fistfight at the local bar with a guy named Cosnach, and beat 100 gold out of him. Name like that, I'd wanna brawl too.
I went skipping merrily into a cave that turned out to be a vampire lair. One of them came stalking up from the main chamber, and as soon as I raised my sword, four skeletons burst out of the walls and the vampire went ballistic with thunderbolts and life-draining rays and harsh language. My assistant smartly decided to zap her with a staff of paralysis, and as she teetered over I switched to my two-handed war hammer (the "Smooshinator") and did my best to flatten her out like a frog on a highway. After a while she stopped trying to get up.
I returned to my tiny house in the capital city of Dragonsreach, where I mixed all my stored reagents together, two or three at a time, and ended up with a gigantic mound of potions next to the alchemy table. I gathered them all up, seriously overburdening myself, and staggered uptown to the shops, intent on selling them to make a huge pile of gold - only to discover that none of the shopkeepers had anywhere close to the amount of gold my potions were worth. I sold a few - six out of maybe two hundred - then I staggered back to the house and threw all the rest into the corner by the door, burying the end table. I can really stop trying to make money now. There is just no point. From here on out, this game is all about quests and killin' stuff! Whaa-chaaahh!!