Turns out I was over-reacting. It was just the exit.
I continue following Hadvar down this mountain. On the way he talks about a variety of inane things, and tries to convince me to join the Imperial Legion, the people who had just tried to kill me. He mentions it at least three times on the way down.
He also indicates a large structure on the side of a nearby mountain, Bleak Falls Barrow. It couldn’t be important in a later quest, could it? We pass the Guardian Stones. Hadvar gets all judgemental when I pick the Thief Stone. I ignore him and we continue on to Riverwood.
On the way, we are attacked by a pair of wolves. One of them was carrying some going. Exactly how, I’ve got no idea. Last time I checked, wolves don’t have pockets.
Arriving at Riverwood, Hadvar tells his uncle that they need to keep the fact that there’s a fire-breathing dragon on the loose in Skyrim quiet. I’d have thought that’s quite an important piece of information to tell people. The old woman down the road seems to have the right idea, shouting about it to her son.
Entering Alvor’s house, both him and his wife proceed to completely ignore Salria. So I decide to take a seat regardless. It is at this point, when the camera briefly switches to third person view, that I realise that I never re-equipped my armour after the fight with the bear, and have been wandering Skyrim half-naked for about ten minutes.
I hope that they don’t notice, and indeed they don’t. They continue talking to each other for a while, before Alvor eventually notices me, and offers his help in any way he can. He offers a selection of items, so I decide to take them all (who doesn’t). He subtly gives me my next quest, and tells me to go and tell the Jarl of Whiterun that there’s a dragon about. I thought we were trying to keep it quiet?
After a short conversation, Alvor leaves the house. I re-equip my armor and since he said he would help in any way, I take every object in his house that I can, leaving them with no food (notice how I resisted the temptation to take the plates though).
After stripping the house of everything I can, I notice that Alvor has come back inside, meaning I can’t sell it all back to him just yet. I stand in the middle of the room, staring at their beds while I wait for morning. They were remarkably fine with it. I guess when someone picks up everything in your house, sleeping standing up in your bedroom doesn’t faze you.
The next morning I head out to Alvor’s workshop. There, I find some piles of ingots, and of course, I pick them up, along with the armour on the nearby table. I’m careful to avoid the ones marked with “steal”. Just to confirm that he is definitely OK with it all, Alvor comes up behind and tells me to take all I need. Not that there’s much more to take.
I then proceeded to sell all of his own possessions back to him. This earned me a tidy 300 gold pieces, and I decided to head over to the nearby Riverside Trader to sell the rest of my goods. Inside, the owner and his sister were arguing. Not wanting to get in the way of family matters, I chose to ignore their fight. I sold my goods, which made me another 200 pieces of gold. And no evidence to trace back to me for all the crap I stole.
Considerably lighter, I leave Riverwood. Just outside, there I attempt to shoot down a moose. It decides to run across the river before I could get a shot off on him. Instead, I decide the nearby rabbit is much easier prey. Yet I still manage to miss from point blank range.
Deciding that hunting is not my forte, I continue on. After falling down a cliff, run into a group of Imperial Soldiers escorting a prisoner. One seems very distressed, and persists in running around asking for help for no apparent reason. When I approach to try and help he tells me to “be gone”. So I go.
The rest of the journey to Whiterun is fairly uneventful. I pass a meadery and farm, cross a river and end up on the wrong side of the city. After wandering around the outside walls, I eventually find the entrance, only to be shouted at by a guard. He takes it quite seriously when I tell him that Riverwood’s in danger from a dragon. Not like a dragon is going to destroy one city and then leave everyone alone, is it. I worry about the naivety of these guards sometimes.
Once I actually get into Whiterun, it’s a simple case of walking through the layers up to Dragonsreach to talk to the Jarl. There are a couple of conversations going on, but I ignore them. One is a really irritating kid.
Inside the Dragonsreach, I run forward and leap right into the nearby fire. Rather than allowing me to put myself out, the Jarl’s housecarl draws her sword and begins talking to me about the dragon. I listen to her, slowly burning to a crisp before she allows me to walk the two inches further forward to actually speak to the Jarl. He seems remarkably calm about the dragon that is ravaging his hold and gives me some armour as a reward for talking to him. This is clearly just bribery, since he gets me to help him with a matter related to the dragons. The nearby table, stocked with food proves too much of a temptation.