Title: Elder Scrolls V- The Raven's Tale
Description: A personal account of journey through Sk
Ravenswald - December 22, 2011 01:46 AM (GMT)
Elder Scrolls V – SKYRIM
The Raven’s Tale - Chapter 1
Pain and darkness. Yep felt like a regular morning.
Thud, bump scree.
Except for that confounded noise. And the fact it felt like I was moving.
I opened my eyes and immediately regretted it. Pain lanced through my skull. What was I drinking last night?
By Sheogorath what was that confounded movement. And why was I sitting up. That was new. And I didn’t seem to be able to move my arms properly. That was new two. Well except for that time in Morrowind with that Dunmer Lady. By the Daedra did she know some tricks! But that didn’t solve my current predicament. If only my head would clear. It felt like it had been hit by a mace. Come to think of it I felt sore all over. Last I recall was enjoying the fleshy delights of a particularly buxom Nordic girl. She seemed to appreciate the time I was taking to pleasure her.
“I knew Nord men didn’t know how to love a woman.” I groaned out loud.
“Thy thinkest so Imperial dog. If my hands were free I would make thee bend over and eat thy own staff as I hear all Imperials prefer. They wouldst not know what a woman looked like let alone know how to treat her.” Came a snarl from somewhere outside my throbbing head.
I risked opening my eyes again. The light was blinding but this time faded to normal light. A large hulking Nord glared angrily at me. Firstly I noticed he was male which had me worried. Then I realised he was bound which plain confused me. Next I noticed I was bound as well. I looked around.
“I’m in the open. In a cart.” Now I was totally confused. I looked to my right. Across from me was a Breton by his looks, lithe and dexterous by his build. Sitting on my side was a man in chainmail bound but also gagged. Another Nord by his blonde locks and of some importance given the quality of his clothes. “And I’m bound. What am I doing here?”
“My thou art an intelligent fellow,” sneered the Nord who had spoken to me. “Thou art here, oh eater of thine own miniscule manhood on your way to be witness to thine own foul country’s laws in action. You might find that thou won’t require to shave of cut thy long locks afterward.”
“I’m innocent. I didn’t do anything. They have the wrong man.” Babbled the man next to the Nord. He was dark haired but cut short unlike my own shoulder length locks. His beard was patchy and his eyes darted around desperately looking for a way out. “I’m innocent.”
“Shut thy prattling tongue, thou art a horse thief and a pretty poor one at that give that they caught you. Take thy guts and hold them like the snivelling man thou art. Never have I heard such squawking.”
“Shut it all of you,” Yelled a man in leather armour of Imperial cut. “Rebel scum.”
Rebel scum? Oh please. Beside the fact that was so from a galaxy far, far away it both enlightened me and confused me. I had heard that there had been some trouble in Skyrim. The Nord High King had been murdered so I had heard and that his assassin had declared the province independent of the Empire. More fool me to assume it was a mere local problem and that would never affect my own efforts.
Another stroke of bad luck in a long line for myself and my seemingly cursed family. 200 hundred years ago, or so my drunken Grandfather like to tell me when I was but a boy, the Ravenwood’s had been great and powerful within the Empire. The Imperial Champion and friend of the last two Emperor’s, although both died during that friendship. (I used to get cuffed around the ear by old Grandpa when I pointed that out.) He was supposed also Archmage and Grandmaster of the Knights of the Nine. I once heard that my ancestor had also been rumoured to be the legendary Grey Fox, Master Thief but Grandpa tended to wack me with his walking stick when I asked whether that rumour was true. Grandpa also used to wax on about how our ancestor had killed the last Eleven King Umaril. That I could possibly believe. Certainly the High Elves had worked hard to bring down our house during the wars that had marked the beginning of the Fourth Era and the retreat of the Empire after Emperor Martin Septim’s sacrifice. Our House was now all but forgotten and no longer accounted amongst the nobility or any of the guilds. My father, grandfather and his father before that had searched inside the bottle for past glory. I was the first to turn away from that doom and seek a new way in the world. It might have been madness but that too was part of my family’s history if the legends of our founder were to be believed.
The weirdest claim my Grandpa ever made was that my ancestor, supposedly tired of continually fighting to preserve an Empire without a true Emperor had finally disappeared and had become Sheogorath, Daedra Prince of Madness. Certainly Sheogorath had always been my house’s patron deity. Over the years the Ravenwood’s had lost the seat of Archmage and Champion of the Empire as well as the Grandmastership of the Knights of the Nine. We lost our lands, our many houses until finally all I had from my father on his deathbed was a horse, a sword, some old leather armour that was claimed by the family to be that of the Champion of Cyrodiil and a medallion of the three heads of Sheogorath. One laughing, one crying and one doing both at the same time. Now it seemed I had lost all but the medallion. Could things get any worse?
We rolled into the town of Helgen and discovered that it could. The two carts full of prisoners were wheeled into the village square. In the centre of which was an execution block with a sable clad execution waiting with his massive, single headed axe slung over one shoulder.
“All prisoners to dismount,” ordered an Imperial sergeant at arms. I followed the gentleman in armour and gagged and lined up with the other prisoners.
A Redguard Captain at Arms glared at us all, her metal armour gleaming in the wintery light.
“You have all been found guilty against the Empire and the punishment is death. Advance as your name is called and have justice served.”
Justice served? I had heard tales of the Empire being a mite harsh on its remaining provinces under the regime of Emperor Titus Mede II but this was ridiculous. The horse thief seemed to agree.
“No! No, I’m innocent. I’m not with them. I don’t want to die!” His nerve broke and he burst from the group and began to run up the road.
“Archers!” The Redguard yelled. Three men drew their bows and with fluid motions three arrows thudded into the Breton’s back. He cried out before falling face first into the dirt and lay still.
“He got the point,” The Nord I had exchanged words with earlier said dryly.
“Yeh, never run away from a Redguard bitch. They don’t like it.” I replied. All the Nord prisoners laughed out loud.
“Call the first name,” The Captain snarled.
“Olath of Falkreathstead,” said the male Lieutenant beside her.
“About time. Standing around here awaiting all this blather was getting ma balls cold.” The Nord scoffed and marched proudly forward to the executioner. “And remember you,. Short back and sides. No’too much ofa the top.” The rest of the Nord’s laughed out loud at their companions’ defiance as he knelt and laid his head on the block. Their laughter was cut short as the headsman severed the man’s neck. This wasn’t a laughing matter.
Suddenly there was a distant sound like a roar. Or could it be thunder. Everyone looked up and listened. The noise didn’t repeat.
“Ulfric Stormcloak,” the lieutenant called. So the king killed himself had been caught. I watched the man in the fine armour and the gag walk forward calmly. Why was he gagged I wondered?
“Who are you?” My attention turned back to the lieutenant who was addressing me. “Come here.”
I stepped before him. “Ma’am, this one isn’t on the list. Who are you?”
“I and James of Ravenwood. A simple traveller from Cyrodiil.” I replied.
“What are you doing here?”
“I was looking for work and was hired on to work at a wayside inn. The last I remember was being in the arms of a particularly curvaceous Nord lass and showing her how Imperial men treat a lady.” I raised my voice. “She was quite interested in the thrust of my conversation.”
The Nord men guffawed, the Redguard Captain scowled but the Lieutenant looked amused.
Suddenly there was another strange roar, this time closer. Again we all looked up but again it was not repeated. The Redguard Captain muttered something then glanced at me. “Execute him next.”
“But Ma’am , he may be telling the truth. I certainly have no description of a Stormcloak fitting him.” The Lieutenant protested.
“He is wasting time. That’s good enough.” The woman snapped back. I was shoved forward from behind towards the executioner.
“Just like a Redguard, always on heat but too cold blooded to appreciate what she could have,” I quipped as I nodded to the black cowled executioner. He smirked and the Nord’s all laughed. Well if I was going to lose my head it was better to go out with a laugh, I thought. Mayhap Sheogorath would find it amusing and take my soul to his realm of madness. Couldn’t be any worse than here I thought as I laid my head on the damp block. The previous Nord’s head stared up at me with a rather off put expression on his dead face. I’d definitely never been in a worse situation.
Suddenly the roar came again, right overhead and something flew across the rays of the sun. We all looked up. A black creature out of nightmare, huge and bat winged flew above us. It roared again and then its long neck dropped, it opened its massive jaws and a gout of flame immolated the watchtower.
People screamed, guards shouted as the creature circled and unleashed more bursts of flame, incinerating people as they ran. It alighted on the tower directly above us and glared down at me.
Ok, I acknowledged, this might be worse.
Through all the bedlam I could help feeling I heard someone chuckling softly.
To be continued?
Ravenswald - December 22, 2011 10:59 PM (GMT)
Elder Scrolls V – SKYRIM
The Raven’s Tale: Chapter 2
I stared up into the open maw of the dragon. I could see right down its throat and the glow of approaching fiery death.
“May the Nine grant thee a sore throat,” I cried.
Twang, twang, twang.
The Dragon hiccupped and reared back as three arrows flew straight down its gullet. A very sore throat indeed.
“The Nine are with you,” said the executioner who then took to his heels.
“Run, get out of the square,” The Imperial Lieutenant cried out. I needed no second urging. Using the block I pushed myself up and onto my feet. The square was a shambles. People running, injured everywhere, buildings aflame. A child cried beside his fallen mother.
Forgotten the beast above me I ran to the woman. She was burnt and dazed. With my bound hands I could do little. A Nord ran past.
“Stop! Help the lady.” I bellowed. The Nord did stop and looked at me, wide eyed. “Get the lady and her boy to safety.” The dragon bellowed and everyone ducked. Sizzling fire swept down on another house. “NOW!” I roared. The Nord jumped then grabbed the woman up and ran, the boy following him.
“Get to the Keep! Are you mad?” The Imperial lieutenant grabbed my shoulder.
“Some say my entire family is,” I gave a weak smile then legged it up the road toward the town keep.
It was chaos, townsfolk, Imperial men-at-arms and prisoners were all running seeking shelter. The dragon swooped and its armoured tail smashed through what looked like the City hall. The building collapsed, blocking the path to the keep.
“This way,” I turned and found the Lieutenant right beside me. He was pointing to side way. We ran down that then into a watch tower against the village wall. The structure shuddered as it was struck by the dragon and a gaping hole appeared in its wall. We looked out but the jump down was too far. We kept on climbing. Outside the dragon bellowed its rage and was joined by the screams of people and the crackle of many fires. The tower was rocked again and this time the roof above collapsed, blocking the way up. However another hole appeared, this one looking inwards. Directly below us was a tall building. Part of its roof had caved in and I could see beds, many of them. The village inn.
“You are mad!” The lieutenant said, breathing hard.
“Got a better idea?” I stepped back as far as I could then ran forward through the hole and leapt across the gap between tower and the in, falling through the roof, hitting a bed and bouncing off landing to my great surprise on my feet. A yell made me turn as the lieutenant sailed through the air like a sack of potatoes and crashed onto another bed, collapsing it. He grunted at the impact but with my help got shakily to his feet, no worse except for a cut on his forehead and a few bruises. We headed down the stair and out through the inn, many villages were hiding under tables. What could I say. Was outside any safer? We exited the door and I had my answer.
There were a number of twisted charred bodies lying on the road, testament to the dragon’s visciousness. The sight sickened me.
“Come on or we will soon be like them,” The Lieutenant said and ran up to the hill to the keep. There we encountered the Nord from the wagon as well as Ulfric Stormcloak.
“Why if it be not the boastful Imperial who thinks he knows more of women than I,” he said with a friendly grin.
“Glad to see you are alive too,” I nodded back.
“Come on, get into the keep!” the lieutenant urged. “Ralof, come. Please.” The Imperial and Nord looked at each other and I realised that the two were., or at least once been friends.
“Nay Hadvar. Our paths follow a different course now. Go in peace.” Ralof turned to me.” “You could come with us? You have seen Imperial justice now fist hand and I saw you care for the fallen woman. Our cause is just.” The Nord urged. I noticed Ulfric had already disappeared around the corner, entering the sally port no doubt.
“I thank you but this is not my fight,” I looked up as the dragon swooped overhead, belching forth another torrent of flame on the hapless township. “And maybe not yours either. There are things larger going on than the politics over who gets to tax whom.”
Ralof looked at me and shrugged. “Until we meet again then, mad man.”
I raised my bound hands in a salute then followed Hadvar into the keep.
The keep was empty. No one else had followed us. I looked more closely at Hadvar. He was read haired, clean shaven with broad shoulders and a barrel chest. His face was strong but open.
“By the Nine, you’re a Nord? You used to know Ralof?” I looked at him startled. I had heard that not all Nord’s agreed with Ulfric and his Stormcloaks about Skyrim independence. It had just not occurred to me they would be serving in the Imperial army. Civil wars were never happy affairs.
“Aye, I have known Ralof since we were boys,” he looked for a moment downcast. “But enough of the past, let’s see to those bonds and get you equip. There must be armour and weapons around here.” He said gruffly and cut my bonds and we quickly unearthed a suit of Imperial leather armour, boots, a relief since I’d been running around bare foot as well as two swords, a couple flasks of wine, a few items of food, even a few coins. I was broke and needed to start my life again so I felt no qualms about taking them.
Outside the dragons bellows increased and suddenly the keep was rocked by a mighty blow.
“Come, it seems our scaly friend has not finished with us yet.” Hadvar rushed through a door and headed deeper into the keep. It seemed like it was more of a prison than a place of defence with an iron gate requiring a pulley system to open the next door. What did take us by surprise was to find two Stormcloaks, armoured and armoured on the other side.
“Fellow Nords, can we lay down our dispute,” Hadvar raised his hands in a peaceful gesture. A drgaon besets this village and we need every warrior to defend it.”
“Imperial Scum!” The man and woman cried, each drawing a two handed weapon, a war hammer for the male, a long sword for the woman.
“Guess that’s a no,” I replied drawing my sword and parrying a wicked cut by the Nord woman. Imperial Scum? Rebel Scum? Did I smell that bad?
I dodged and weaved, hoping to wear the woman down. Sadly Nord women seemed almost as muscular as their menfolk. I parried then launched a counter thrust, driving her back but I did not complete the follow through. I could not bring myself to kill a woman, despite her obviously not having the same attitude before me.
A sweeping blow knocked me off my feet and she stood above me, a feral grin of hatred on her face as she raised her sword to finish me. As days go this was really one of my worst.
She opened her mouth and I waited for her battle cry but none came. Her body was ridged, her eyes staring then with a sigh she collapsed on the ground, Hadvar standing behind her with a bloody sword he had just pulled from her back. He reached out with his hand and helped me to my feet.
“I have heard of men like you,” He said. “Afraid of fighting a woman. Know this, they will not thank you for it and like this one will kill you and curse your stupidity.”
“I’ll try and remember that, I said, picking up her two handed sword. It was well balanced if heavy. I took her shoulder scabbard as well as the male Stormcloak’s fur boots and gloves. Hadvar had killed him with a quick thrust through the heart.
We headed through another portal and then down a set of stairs and ended up in the torture chamber.
“It is a distasteful necessity sadly,” Hadvar said.
“A necessity I think which will make matters worse not better,” I replied.
“Die Imperial Scum!” We looked at each other and charged into the room. A man dressed in bloodstained clothes and cowled was fighting off three Stormcloaks using magic bolts to inflict evil cuts on their bodies. They turned as we came I and two charged us. I drew the two handed sword and stepped into the charge, driving the massive blade into the Stormcloaks chest then, with a cry lifted him off his feet and pitchforked him over my shoulder. This stupidity had gone on long enough. With a below I swept my sword around and cut the Stormcloak attacking Hadvar in two. The third Stormcloak died at the hands of the torturer.
“We must leave as the place shook, even down here the blows of the dragon could be felt. I doubted the keep could last much longer.
“I stay here. This is my place.” The Torturer said in a lisping voice. “And I must attend to my guest.” I turned to see a man dressed in the blood rags of a mage adept lying in a cage.
“All prisoners are to be released. A dragon threatens and this infighting is pointless. I stalked over to the cage and with a deft use of a lockpick I had on my person (there are times when I have forgotten my keys and locked myself out, honest) I opened it. Sadly the mage was dead and after, closing his eyes, I picked up a potion that was lying beside him. “A healing potion? You left him with a healing potion?”
“Yes of course,” The Torturer whined. I did not want him to die. He had not spoken all that he knew. Unfortunately the selfish boy chose death.”
I glared at the disgusting man, sheathed the two-handed sword, picked up a shield and a battle axe and left the horrid creature in his dismal lair.
“You look rather foolish with all that on,” Hadvar offered as we headed down a tunnel that he claimed was an escape route out of the village. I was now carrying two iron swords on either hip, a long sword over my shoulder, a iron dagger in my boot, as well as a haversack I picked up which contained a spell book of some description and a few other books, a few flasks of wine, a haunch of venison and pheasant, a few apples, potatoes and cabbage as well as a shield and battle axe in my hands. And I had now collected 77 gold pieces from the dead Stormcloaks.
“I’m broke, in a province I barely know and I need to start my life all over again.” I replied as I lugged my equipment through the meandering tunnel which had now changed from man-made to natural.
“Your home of Ravenwood is far away?”
“It is a place of broken promise and lost dreams peopled only by ghosts awaiting the coming of a new champion worthy to bring back its past glory.” I replied more hotly than I meant. My thoughts returned to the ruined chapel, the dusty hall and the burial chamber below where a suit of armour awaited someone more worthy than my family had been for over a century. My family lay buried there, everyone and yet it was no home. It was a shrine to failure and summed up the history of the Empire since Martin Septim sacrificed himself. I shook my head. No point thinking on the past. I had a future to make.
“Ware Frost spiders!” My head snapped up as a seeming horde of loathsome armoured spiders the size of wolves came scuttling towards us. My maudlin thoughts turned to fire. “FOR THE NINE I bellowed and charged. The Spiders pat poison that was so cold it would have frozen my limbs if I had not blocked them with my shield. I brought my axe up and down, smashing though their armoured carapaces with ease. They leapt upon me, trying to sink their fangs into my flesh but I sheared them off with my blade then smashed them down. All my years of watching my grandfather and father drink themselves into their graves made my eyes see red. I would prove my worth, my family’s worth.
“Woe, woe, my friend!” Hadvar raised his hand as I nearly clove him in two in my rage.
I let out my breath and released my tension. My talk about having some unresolved issues! “Sorry, I hate spiders.” I shrugged and smiled wanly. I quickly opened up the spiders and took their poison sacks as well as taking some spider eggs.
‘What are you doing?” Hadvar asked
“I may hate spiders but their poison has value as well has alchemical properties.”
“You are a mage?”
“An enthusiastic amateur,” I replied. “Let’s be gone.” We travelled on, passing a sleeping bear and final reached the opening to the cave.
“We made it1” Hadvar said with relief. I nodded then stopped as I noticed something lying in an alcove of the cave wall. It was a skeleton wearing a strange iron helmet with two ram’s horns attached curling down. I lifted the helmet up, blew on it then placed it on my head. It fitted perfectly.
“Are you coming?” Hadvar said. “Oh very nice. Looks like one of those old style helmets back before Skyrim became part of the Empire.”
We exited into the afternoon sunlight. We could hear no dragon noises. Maybe the monster had left?
“Well I bid you good luck James of Ravenwood. Here I feel we should part ways. I recommend you head to Riverwood. It was where I was born. I have an Uncle there, Advar who may be able to help you. He may even be willing to offer a fair price for those weapons you are lugging around.”
“Good luck to you to Hadvar. Thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt. Mayhap we will meet again.”
“I hope so too. You are good in a fight. If you cannot find work elsewhere we could use such as you in the Legion.” He waved to me and headed off down the road.
I stood and stared after him.
“And so it begins,” I said under my breath, fingering the tri-headed medallion. “Again.”
To be continued.
Ravenswald - December 31, 2011 06:00 AM (GMT)
Elder Scrolls V – SKYRIM
The Raven’s Tale: Chapter 3
As I started down the track towards Riverwood I was surprised to find Hadvar waiting for me. He smiled sheepishly. “It will soon be dark. I will guide you to Riverwood.”
I nodded, smiling.
As Hadvar had predicted it was nightfall before we arrived in the quaint little village of Riverwood. It was a wooden township by a river. It seemed clean and well cared for and by the carvings on the buildings it was obvious that the denizens took pride in their homes. Still his fears of being attacked were groundless as, besides a fox, we saw nothing dangerous.
Hadvar led me to the Blacksmith’s shop where a large, dark haired Nord welcomed him with clear happiness.
“Nephew, it be good to see you.” He said “Have ye got leave from the legion to visit ye old uncle and his family?”
“Nay Uncle, I must return as soon as daybreaks. But I have grime news. A dragon attacked us at Helgan. If it wasn’t for this man I would be dead now.” Hadvar said.
“James of Ravenwood, Sir.” I bowed to the older man.
“Alvor, Blacksmith of Riverwood. Well I be thanking ye for saving me nephew. Come in and have a meal and ye can tell me yer tale.”
Alvor’s home was built onto the smithy. Inside was his wife, Sigrid and their precocious girl Dorthe.
"Mama doesn't think I'm girlish enough. But tha’s just stupid girl talk." Dorthe said as she was introduced.
“Hush child!” Sigrid said sternly while Alvor merely chuckled. “She be a great help to me on thon the forge, despite what her mother thinks,” He said proudly as he showed us to his table. While we sat and talked Sigrid and Dorthe brought us food and drink. Alvor and Hadvar both looked somewhat askance at me when I stood up when Sigrid took her seat. I explained it was an old Imperial custom and they let it pass. “Now what be this talk of dragons Hadvar?”
“Aye Dragon Uncle. It has destroyed Helgan despite the garrison and I fear Riverwood might be next.” Hadvar replied.
“A message must be sent to Whitrun to inform the Jarl. He must send us soldiers if Riverwood be threatened.” Alvor looked worriedly at his wife and daughter. He then turned to me. “And what be your tale stranger?”
“I was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time,” I replied between mouthfuls of food and drink. I had eaten nothing since I was rudely interrupted at my breakfast when Hadvar’s men had arrested me. “Twice!” I looked at Hadvar and gave him a wry smile.
“I must return to my camp and inform the general,” Hadvar nodded at me before turning to his Uncle. “Perhaps James here can take the message.”
“You would do that?” Alvor asked.
“Happy to as long as I can beg a goodnights rest and be allowed to sell some of the things I am carrying. I feel like a damned ironmonger with all the kit I picked up.” Alvor looked at my pile I had dropped in the corner. He noted the number of weapons and rolled up armour especially the armour. “You encountered Stormcloaks?”
“That we did and the block heads preferred attacking us than defending Helgan from attack from the Dragon. I thought they were supposed to be freeing Nords not leaving them to burn?”
“This be true?” Alvor asked Hadvar.
“Aye Uncle, we tried to talk to them but they answered with the blade. My friend and I merely defended ourselves.” Hadvar replied.
“You did right.” Alvor clapped a gnarled hand on his nephew’s shoulders. Know sir,” He turned to me. “We are all loyal Imperials here. We do not agree with Ulfric Stormcloak. Now more than ever if there be a dragon about. We need this war to end to protect this land.”
“How did the war begin?” I asked.
“The worship of Talos. That’s where it began. The Imperial decree forbidding his worship. Ulfric Stormcloak saw it as an excuse to murder our High King and declaring that free Nords should be able to worship Talos and no Emperor in a faraway land should be able to say otherwise.”
I sighed. “The decree has caused disharmony in my homeland as well but not enough to start a civil war. Talos worship is done quietly and is not pursued by the Imperial guard. I’ll admit I do not understand why the decree was ever instituted but as long as it is not done flagrantly it, like Daedra worship, is left alone.” I replied, feeling the three head medallion against my chest under my clothes.
“Ulfric does not want to hide. In fact I suspect he has used this as merely an excuse but I am but a simple blacksmith. You are welcome to spend the night here and in the morning you can sell your wares at the Riverwood Trader. It is run by a brother and sister, Lucan and Camilla Valerus.”
I thanked him for his kind hospitality. After we had eaten our fill we all retired. As I drifted off to sleep, looking at the fire I hoped that once I had delivered my message I could start to get my life back together. I was beginning to wonder whether coming to Skyrim had been such a good idea after all.
We rose at first light. Hadvar said his farewells and headed off for the Legion. As I waited for the Store to open I worked in the forge. Alvor kindly gave me full use of his forge and materials. At 8 am. I walked across to the Riverwood Trader and entered.
A man and a woman were arguing. They turned and looked at me. “Ah welcome stranger to the Riverwood Trader. I am Lucan Valerus, proprietor of this fine establishment and eh this is my sister Camilla. We have many fine weapons and armour to sell. We also buy,” he said eyeing the load of weapons I had on my back. Lucan was medium height, in his late twenties, dark haired with a fine beard and moustache. Camille looked younger with dark brown hair. She was attractive but her face was so screwed up with annoyance at her brother it was hard to appreciate.
“I can do this Lucan.” Camilla hissed.
“Quiet. Sir what is your pleasure?” He gave me a greasy smile all traders gave. We haggled and I lost selling the gear for half its worth, if that. Still by the end of it I had 800 in gold in my pouch which was more than I had had in a while. I now had an iron helmet, shield, breast plate, greaves and armguards, a steal two handed sword, a battle axe
“Ah sir, if I might impose a little of your time,” Lucan called me back. “We have suffered a theft last night, an heirloom of our family.”
“I am sorry to hear that but what does this have to do with me?” I asked.
“Well we know who the thief is. A Dark Elf named Arvel the Swift. He’s been hanging around for days then last night I caught running away from my shop and the Claw was gone.”
“Yes, a Golden Claw. Been in my family for generation. I must have it back.” He then looked at me slyly. “There is a handsome reward for the one who finds it.”
“How handsome?” I asked. “And before you try and cheat me I have a mission to Whiterun and cannot delay long.”
“400 in gold!” Lucan said hurriedly. “And he’s not far. I know he camps up near Bleak Barrow Falls. A shepherd saw him running that way.”
“And it is not far.” I remember Hadvar pointing it out to me as we walked to Riverwood. He had claimed it had always given him the creeps and claimed there were rumours that it was haunted.
“No not far. Camilla can take you as far as the path leading up to the mountain where it is. You’ll be back by luncheon.”
400 in gold would be nice and make up for the amount he had swindled out of me. And it was sort of the work I was looking for. Bounty Hunters made good money, if they lived.
“Done.” I said.
Camilla led me out of the village and to the bridge which crossed the river.
“Take the left hand path and follow it up the mountain. Be careful. My brother did not mention the Arvel might not have been working alone.” She warned.
“Of course he isn’t,” I sighed. Merchants will find a way to get the better deal every time. So now I was not just trying to bring back a stolen item but would probably also end up killing a few bandits as well. For free.
“Well good luck. I must be going back to the store. My brother is such a fool when he comes to running the store.” Camilla waved to me and headed back.
Then what of the fool who is convinced to help the fool, I wondered?
As the sun rose on a beautiful day I head up the mountain. Despite the sun it soon became cold and I noticed dark clouds move up and around the peak. Before I was halfway up it began to snow. Marvellous.
As I walked higher it grew colder and the snow lay on the ground as well as in the air. Through the flurries I saw a dark shape rising up. I knew it wasn’t the Barrow, it was still above me. A watchtower perhaps. I walked on and yes it was an old ruined stone tower, abandoned for many years.
There came a shout from a man in furs, followed by another appeared. Well not quite abandoned and by the fact that they were coming towards withdrawn weapons, not friendly either. I drew my two handed long sword and waited.
The first came in yelling, axe raise above his head. I held my sword low and to my left. As he came into range I swept the sword up and across, gutting him. I then looped the sword up and over stepping forward with a shout. The second bandit stalled, shocked by what had just happened to his fellow. I spit his head in two with a downward cut.
I cautiously entered the tower. I found a few chests full of obvious booty and a bag of coin but no Dark Elf. Why I expected it to be that easy I didn’t know. I continued up the trail to the Barrow. Now I was more cautious. There were three Redguard bandits patrolling the front of the barrow. However the increasing snow storm allowed me to sneak up on two of them and silence them with a quick dagger thrust through their backs. The third saw me do her companion and stepped back, pulling off her bow. However she hadn’t been looking where she was going and stepped off the edge of the cliff the barrow was mounted on. Her scream was muffled by the storm.
The Barrow itself was a large temple like structure, obviously built by the ancient Nords. It had a series of high arches in black stone that reminded me of ribs. Going up a flight of stairs I came to two great wooden doors. I pushed on them and they opened.
Ahead of me was a long passageway leading down to a hall where the glow of a fire could be seen flickering. A Nord was guarding the entrance, dressed like the bandits outside.
“I don’t like it” I heard the bandit shout to someone further inside. “Arvel has been gone too long. Maybe we should go check on him?”
“You worry too much Harknir,” Said a woman. “Where can he go but back this way?”
“Aye but what if he finds another way Soling?” said another voice. The guard had his back to me so I moved up behind him and gave him another mouth with my fine dagger across his throat. I eased him down and then snuck into the old hall.
“And you are too trusting Bjon. We don’t know if there isn’t another way out down in the crypt. What do you say Harknir?” Soling called out. I moved up to the central column and slowly drew my sword. “Harknir? Was that you?” She had heard the sword leave its scabbard.
“Harknir what is wrong with you. Have the rats got to you?” A tall blond Nord came around the column and gapped as I rose from its shadow. He drew his sword before I cut him down. I then stepped from the column and faced the Nord woman Soling. She had a bow.
“Drop the bow and live.” I said advancing towards her quickly. I cursed as the bow came off; she plucked an arrow from her quiver and fired in one fluid motion. Fortunately her aim was off. I dodged the shot and charged. She dropped the bow and drew a long knife. “Die! For a free Skyrim.” She leapt forward, her eyes insane with hatred. I brought my sword across to ward her off but the foolish woman did not check her attack and impaled herself on the blade. “Long live Ulfric …” She collapsed on the ground. I shook my head in distaste. I hated fighting let alone killing women. I pulled my sword free and wiped it clean. I quickly checked the bodies, picking up more coin and the odd gem. I had enough weapons and who knew what lay in the barrow itself?
I went to the far door and entered the barrow proper.
I entered the first crypt, the walls were lined with hollowed out areas where the bodies of Ancient Nord Warriors lay. Torches and basins full of glowing coals lit the place and the way down.
“This is just the sort of place where you could encounter, skeletons, vampires, zombies or …” I stopped counting off the imagined monsters as I heard a moan, or more correctly a couple of moans. Two of the desiccated, armoured bodies climbed out of their funerary holes. Dragur.” I finished drawing my sword again. I hate being right. Frankly I don’t know why I even bother questioning myself. I’m always right and that usually is a bad thing. Why can’t I have good things happen to me?
Draugr are undead Nord warriors who were, so I had been warned by an old mage who I had learned my first magic incantations from, the original residents of Skyrim. It was claimed that Draugr once served the dragons; some seem to have learned "Dragon" speech. Bully for them. Probably thrilled to have a real live dragon around again.
“I suppose you chaps wouldn’t just let me past? I don’t rifle through your crypts for any goodies and you don’t try and add me to the corpses?”
Both hissed, drew ancient swords and axes and advanced toward me. “I take it that’s Draugr for ‘No’.” I twirled my sword and gauged their movements. Not too fast on their feet. I knew they were susceptible to fire but I didn’t have a spell ready. “For the Nine!” I roared and attacked the Draugr holding the sword and shield. I smashed it back so that it staggered. I then brought my sword around in a big swing cleaving the Draugr with the axe head off. It fell to the floor. I then returned to the one with the sword and with two smashing blows brought it down as well. “Not too tough,” I said relieved as I now rifled through the bodies and low and behold if they didn’t have a few pieces of gold and a few gems. “Fine you attack me then I’ll take compensation.” I declared entering the next crypt. Three Draugr rose from their crypts, one carrying a strangely shaped two handed greatsword, another two handed axe and the third a bow. “I really should learn to keep my mouth shut.” I told myself as I parried a blow from the greatsword wielding Draugr, stepped back and swept its legs from under it. “Legless, you Nord’s can never hold your drink. By the Nine” I leapt back as I was almost cloven in two by the two handed axe. And arrow pinged of my helmet a moment later. “Don’t get cocky!” I reminded myself as I threw all my weight into cutting the Draugr with the axe in two as it tried to pull its weapon from the wooden chest where it had buried itself.
I ducked into an alcove as I avoided another arrow. This time I sheathed my sword and cast a flame spell. The next time the Draugr with the bow appeared I launched a spot of flame at it. It immediately caught fire. I kept the flame up until I felt my magic reserves sputter at which point I picked up the Draugr’s greatsword. I chopped the flaming undead down.
I looked at the blade in my hand. It was old and tarnished and was strangely shaped with a leaf shaped head and two triangular blades further up the central blade. It made it unbalanced but would allow the wielder to apply heavier blows. I tested it a few times, getting used to the weight and different balance. A little work in a smithy and it would be a fine weapon. I picked up the ancient Nordic bow and the quiver of arrows, the fire having only singed them. I then headed on.
“Bjon! Soling? Help!” I stopped as I heard a cry further down the corridor. “Harknir, can you hear me? Anybody? HELP!”
I crept closer until I came to a door covered in spider webs. Yuk I hated frost spiders. Still they had been easy to kill and with my new great sword it shouldn’t be too much effort. I sliced through the web and entered a chamber that was covered in spider webs. Here and there I could see the cocooned and desiccated remains of others who had entered this place. I didn’t believe that a frost spider, large as I had encountered could do that to so many men and women.
My eyes travelled around the room as I walked toward the next room where the voice was calling.
“Oh shit!” I gasped as I saw a spider as large as a house come charging toward me. I did the thing most sensible people would do which you never here in the stories. I ran like Oblivion. The Spider pursued me, I heard it spit its poison but I was able to enter a chamber it could not enter. “That’s a bloody big spider.” I gasped. “I really hate spiders!” I placed my new found greatsword against the wall and conjured flame. As the spider tried to get at me I unleashed my flame. It made a strange noise that I assumed was pain and I kept it up until I was completely drained. Which was fine as the spider retreated.
I sat against the wall and recovered my breath and my energy.
“Yeh, yeh, I’m coming.” I said quietly as I ate a bit of cheese and drank some wine. Didn’t help my recovery of energy but it helped calm the nerves a bit. I decided to pull the same trick as I did on the Dragur archer.
Once my power had returned I advanced back into the spider’s lair. As it came toward me I again unleashed my flame. I tried very hard not to notice how big its pincers were. As I felt my power drain again I pulled the Nordic Greatsword out and attacked. I cried out as one of the pincers cut across my arm but I chopped it off before it could inject its venom. I went berserk, bashing away at those loathsome eyes until they were all gone and the thing was dead. I shuddered as I looked at it and impaled it to the floor for good measure.
Recovering my calm I then proceeded to fill two flasks with its poison. Which you could have used on your blade if you’d really planned this, my subconscious reminded me.
“Hey, are you going to release me or are you going to play necrophilia with that spider?” The prisoner, who I now saw, bound across a passageway, asked. Nice. No respect from anyone. Just for that little remark I checked the entire room, taking a few spider eggs and relieving a chest of its treasure before walking up to a thoroughly webbed dark elf.
“Avrel the Swift I presume?” I said with sarcasm. “I believe you have something that doesn’t belong to you.”
“Who are you? The Companions?” Avrel replied. “Listen I know everything. The markings, the key to the Hall of Stories - I know how it all fits together!"
“What fits together?”
“The Golden claw you idiot! It’s not some simple heirloom as those two schmucks in Riverwood believe. It’s a key to a fortune. And it can be all ours. I take it you killed my confederates? So more for us.” He beamed then looked exasperated. "Now cut me down!!"
I stared at him for a moment then shrugged. With two quick hacks he was free. He pulled the web from his body then stood up, a twinkle in his eye. “Thanks a lot pal. You certainly prove that you’re working for two of Skyrim’s dumbest, which in a country as thick as Nords are that saying something. There’s a reason why I’m called the swift.” And then he was off and running down the once sealed passageway. “Adios Senor!”
I suddenly had a real desire for a whip. Not having one I lumbered on as fast as a man in iron armour and wielding a greatsword can run against a lithe dark elf in leather.
I entered a new burial chamber and wouldn’t you know it but two more Draugr were rising from their crypts. I cut down one as was getting out then battled the other, receiving a few more gashes before I cut him down. I listened but couldn’t hear the elf’s footsteps. No good running blindly forward. Who knew what traps awaited ahead? I rifled the graves before heading to the exit. I topped and looked at the strange entrance way. It had a wall of spikes on one side. And then I saw him, Arvel, staring glassily, a look of profound chock on his face, impaled on the spikes. Trap indeed. The Thief must have been so intent on avoiding the Draugr he hadn’t checked the passage. I looked down and saw the stone which was slightly different from the others. A pressure switch. I drank a healing potion to repair the wounds I had suffered then slipped very carefully around the stone and passed by the trap without triggering it. I then carefully searched Arvel’s body and found the claw, more gold coins and his journal. In it was one entry that described that the secret lay in the palm of my hand. I frowned not quite understanding. I looked at the claw. It was a stylised eagle’s claw from what I could see and there were three symbols underneath it, a bear, an owl and what looked like a flying insect. Nothing more could I learn.
I had the choice now. I could head back or press on and find out for myself what this treasure was. The Siblings didn’t know about it. They just wanted the claw which I would return. I shrugged. It could get much worse, could it?
Why do I ask myself these questions?
I headed and came to a chamber full of old carved stone work. Could this be the Chamber of Stories Arvel mentioned? The way ahead was blocked by stone wall but there were three circular stone wheels with animals depicted. An owl, a bear and what might be a butterfly. I pushed one and it rotated locking in place when another animal appeared. In the centre was a solid circle with the three holes. I frown. A puzzle. But how to solve it. I looked at the carvings and then I smiled, remembering something. I spun the three out circles until I had the right configuration then placed the claw in the centre and pushed. The door opened.
Inside was a well-lit chamber. Stairs led up to a platform upon what looked like a crypt and an offering table stood. Behind which was a great wall with strange writing. Above it was a stylised head of what I assumed was a dragon. I mounted the steps and reached the platform. I eyed the crypt warily, sword at the read. And I’m glad I did.
The crypt covering was slid aside, falling with a loud crunch. From rose a Draugr unlike its fellows. Its garments were more ornate; its battle axe glowed blue. I brought my sword down hard as it tried to get out of the crypt. It cried out as my sword buried deep but still it climbed out. I yanked my sword out and tried to sweep its head off. It blocked the blow with its shield. It hissed and attacked. I parried and cried out. I felt a bitter cold run down the sword and envelop my hands, my arms. Whatever the axe was it was magical. I stepped back and attacked from its right side, this time burying the blade in its side. It came on and I pulled back. I needed space. It moved faster than its fellows as well and again I was forced to parry a blow which again sent cold sapping pain through my body. I needed heat, warmth. Fire!
I leapt back again and dropped the great sword then unleashed flames on the Draugr Overlord. It cried out as the flames burnt its parchment dry flesh. Already damaged by my earlier blows the magic holding it together could not resist the flames and it collapsed just as my own strength gave out. I breathed a sigh of relief. I picked up my sword and poked the Draugr. It was dead. I quickly searched the body and discover a strange stone with the same stylised head that was above the wall behind the platform. Curious I walked to the wall. It was made of some light blue stone I had never seen before and strange writing was upon it. Suddenly the world seemed to go black and then I seemed to be surrounded by blue flame.
"Here lies The Guardian, keeper of Dragonstone and a Force of Unending Rage and Darkness." I heard a voice say. I collapsed breathing hard. Then I checked myself. I seemed all in one piece. But what had just happened I did not know.
Nothing else happened so I took what I could; including The Guardian’s Frost Axe and followed the path out of the chamber. It went on a windy way through a narrow passage way of uncut stone and then I was outside near the river. I turned back and saw I had exited having traversed the entire mountain.
It occurred to me that if some bright spark just did treasure maps that led to these convenient unguarded and untrapped entrances a whole lot of time and bother could be saved.
Guessing that I was above Riverwood I turned left and followed the river down. Sure enough it was late afternoon by the time I saw the welcoming village. I crossed the bridge and headed for the Traders store. I was now late for my real mission. So much for the simple task of catching a thief.
Lucan was thrilled when I gave him back his claw although strangely he commented it looked smaller than he remembered. He parted with the 400 in gold and bought all the equipment I had gathered on my journey. I bought all the lesser Healing potions he had (after my last little adventure I suddenly realised I might need them). I then bade him farewell and hurried out. I decided not to visit Alvor again and jogged out of Riverwood and headed across the bridge and on the Whiterun and its Jarl.
Once that had been done maybe I could settle into a normal life and earn some easy money.
I don’t know why I say such things? It just begs for trouble.
To be continued.
Ravenswald - January 14, 2012 10:07 AM (GMT)
Elder Scrolls V – SKYRIM
The Raven’s Tale: Chapter 4
The journey to Whiterun was a pleasant and uneventful walk. It was a pleasant day. The sun was shining, the White River babbled along on my right hand side and to my left the wilderness revealed the odd rabbit and occasional deer and fox who stared at me before moving away. I had to admit it was a day that I felt good to be alive. I had armour (old iron armour but nevertheless it was protection.) an enchanted axe at my hip and an ancient greatsword at my back. Out of caution I had poisoned both blades with frost spider venom. I had food in my back pack and coin in my pouch. I was well on the way to restoring my fortunes, I could feel it.
I reached Whiterun as the sun began to dip bellow the mountains. The city was built on a hill with a stone wall running around the outside. I passed over a drawbridge and headed up to the main gate. The two guards, bearing shields depicting horse heads looked at me.
“What business do ye have in Whiterun?” One of the guards demanded, blocking my way.
“I bring news from the south. A dragon has laid waste to Helgan and it is feared that Riverwood will be next. I have been sent by the good people of that village to come and beg for soldiers to protect them if the Dragon comes.” I replied.
The guard looked me up and down then turned to his companion. “So the rumour was true.” He turned back to me. “Enter Imperial. The Jarl is eager for news of what happened in Helgan. The city is divided into three areas. The Plain District which is behind the great gate is where the markets and shops as well as the Drunken Maiden Inn. I ye follow the road and up to the left you will enter the Wind District which is our residential area. The home of the Companions, Jorrvaskr is also there. If ye be a warrior ye might try to gain admittance there. They need the warriors. Finally there is the Wind District on top of the peak where is the Dragonsreach, home of Jarl Balgruuf the Greater. That is where ye must go.” Both men stepped aside and the great gate opened and I entered.
I traveled through the districts noting the blacksmith’s shop as I entered the Plain District. I noticed that not all the populace were Nords. Imperials, swarthy Redguard, feline Khajiit as well as Bretons walked the streets. I passed through the wall into the Wind District where I saw a dying or dead White Tree and the statue of Talos, the Divine form of the first Septim Emperor. Obviously this was the religious as well as the residential area of the city. I Then walked on up a step flight of stairs to a bridge that led me to the entrance to the Dragonsreach.
“What be your business with Dragonsreach Imperial?” The guard at the end of the bridge demanded.
“I have a message from the people of Riverwood concerning the dragon that threatens this land.” I explained.
“Truly? Larson!” The guard bellowed. Another man at arms came forward. “Take this Imperial to the Jarl. He has important news.”
“Yes Sergeant.” The Nord nodded. “Follow me.” We entered the Hall of the Jarl of Whiterun.
The Dragonsreach was a magnificent building of stone and wood. The Hall was supported by beautifully carved pillars showing off the best of Nord artisanship. A long table dominated the centre of the long hall and, at the far end, on a raised dais was a throne upon which sat the Jarl.
Straightening my gear and taking off my helmet and putting it under my right arm I advanced up the nave of the hall and dropped to my knee on reaching the bottom step to the dais. There were two guards at either side of the throne. A powerful and noble looking man, golden haired and beared sat on the throne talking intently to a Dark Elf woman in armour. This surprised me a little. The Dunmer were not usual close in the councils of Imperial Lords.
“Who is this you bring before the Jarl?” Asked a thin balding man with a dark beard and moustache. He was Imperial by his look.
“Chancellor this man claims to be from Riverwood and has seen the dragon that destroyed Helgan. He requests an audience with the Jarl.” My escort replied.
“Bring him forward.” Replied the man. I rose and climbed the stair. The Jarl looked at me with curiosity.
“I am Proventus Avenicci, Chancellor and advisor to the jarl. What is your business here?”
“I seek an audience with the Jarl. I come from Riverwood. They beg soldiers be sent there to protect the town from the Dragon that lay waste to Helgan.” I replied.
“You were at Helgan, Sir?” The Jarl interrupted before the Chancellor could speak. The Dark Elf beside the Jarl looked at me warily, drawing her sword. A curse on all Dark Elves and their paranoia.
“I was your Lordship.” I bowed deep. “A great Black Dragon attacked the town, scattering the Imperial Legionaires and destroying the town. The people of Riverwood fear the same will happen to them.”
“Any other day I would have doubted you young man but not this one. I have just been informed that our West Tower has come under attack by what the messenger claims to be a Dragon, although he said it was brown in colour.” The Jarl said, worry creasing his brow.
Two dragons? Wonderful. Typical of my luck. For a thousand years there had been no sighting of the beasts and I turn up and suddenly it’s dragon season!
“I will see what I can do for Riverwood but in return I would ask you to accompany my Houscarl Irlith and a squad of guards to investigate the West Tower this night.
I hesitated. I had survived one dragon did I really want to tempt fate and fight another, at night? Irlith sneered at my hesitation. That decided me. I slammed my old iron helmet onto my head. “It would be an honour my Jarl.” I said firmly.
“Just see that you do not get in my way,” Irlith said. She turned to the Jarl and gave a curt bow. “I do not believe these claims of dragons. I think men see what they fear when they are in their cups. But I will take some men and find the truth.” She turned back to me. “Come Dragonseer, let us see what sort of metal you have.” She then shouted to a number of men and trotted out of the court.
I gave a bow to the Jarl and followed.
When he headed back through the city. Irlith gathered more men from the front gate then headed out into the dark of night.
I shook my head. Not only were we going to fight a possible dragon but we were going to do this at night. I could almost hear Sheogorath laughing in glee at my continued misfortunes.
As we left the city gates we could see a glow off to the West.
We followed the road down and turn to the right heading toward the dark shadow that rose above the plain. It was obvious that something was amiss and that the fires were not merely ones lit by the Watchtower garrison.
This proved true as we drew closer. It was a ruin, part of its stone walls torn asunder.
“Search for survivors!” Irlith commanded. “I want to find out what happened here.”
“The dragon has killed them all. We are doomed.” One of the men at arms said, fear obvious in his voice.
“Belay such talk!” Irlith said. “I have marched across all of Tamriel and seen many things but I have never seen a dragon. This be more likely the work of a giant or a …”
“I take it Giants roar and fly?” I said with sarcasm.
“There it is!” cried one of the guards pointing skyward. A dark winged shape flew across the face of the moon.
I’ll give Irlith this she recovered quickly. “Bows! I want that flying lizard shot out of the sky.”
Bows? I was a lousy shot. Instead I summoned up what little magic I had and, as the dragon swooped down upon us, hurled a small bolt of lightning at the beast. Around me the thrum of bows being loosed showed that the guards had more fear of disobeying Irlith than of the dragon. The creature screamed in pain then unleashed a torrent of fire upon us. I dove out of the way as did all but one who fired a second arrow into the beast. He screamed as he was immolated.
“Scatter!” Irlith commanded as she also cast lightning at the dragon. We did as ordered. One Guard mounted the tower to get a better shot. He did but he also attracted the beasts attention. His scream was cut off as the dragon swallowed him as it passed. Bolts of lightning from both Irlith and I hit its wing and it landed just past the tower with a thump.
Bellowing my rage and fear, I unsheathed my Ancient Nordic Great Sword and charged towards it. It turned on me and coughed forth flame but my first blow silenced it was I sank the poisoned blade deep into its head. It staggered, shuddering as the frost spiders venom flowed through its veins. It snapped at me, trying drive me off so it could fly again but I bore in, hacking with my sword again and again, smashing into its head, even as my limbs burned with exhaustion and pain.
“I. Have. Had. Enough. Of. YOU!” I yelled as I drove the blade up under its chin and into its brain.
It shuddered its entire length then let out a great stream of smoke from its nostrils and died. I stepped back, yanking the sword out at the same time. The dragon collapsed and seemed to catch fire. The flames consumed the corpse until all that was left was its skeleton. I looked at it in surprise then felt a rush as something left the dragon and went inside me.
I staggered, stunned. What had just happened?
“DOVAHKIIN!” Boomed across the plane.
“You are Dragonborn!” I turned to see Irlith and all but two of her squad standing looking at me.
“Excuse me?” I asked. “A what?”
“Dragonborn. You have the soul of a dragon but are a man. Did you not hear the Greybeards calling?” The guard said in awe. “They summon you.”
“What that roll of thunder?” I asked still not convinced. I might be many things but Dragonborn. Only those of the old Imperial blood of Tiber Septim were dragon born. That much I knew.
“Aye that was the Greybeards shout. You are Dragonborn.”
“Pah, he was just lucky,” scoffed Irlith. “Although I will thank you for the assistance. That was some fine sword play.”
“No Captain he is Dragonborn!” the Guard persisted. He turned to me. “Try it. Summon the power and shout.”
“Shout?” I looked at the expectant men as sceptically as Irlith looked at me. Then the word I had seen in the Bleak Falls Barrow. I turned to the night sky and closed my eyes. Unbidden I felt something build deep inside my chest.
“FUS!” My shout reverberated across the plan.
“He has the shout! He is the Dragonborn!” Gasped the Guards.
“Enough!” Irlith said impatiently, not impressed. “Secure the area. I want everything collected that can be before we return. “You,” She turned to me. “Take what you wish from the carcass then return to the Jarl with the news. I do not believe in any Dragonborn but there are dragons in the realm and the jarl must prepare.” She held out her hand and I took it. We shook. “Be assured I still do not trust you but you have done a service this evening. I’ll have my eye on you.”
I nodded. At least one person was keeping a level head. I collected some dragon bones and teeth as well as some booty that the dragon had obviously swallowed along with their owners.
As nights went this had certainly been an eventful one. I turned back toward Whiterun and my new and uncertain future.
Ravenswald - January 18, 2012 12:25 AM (GMT)
Elder Scrolls V – SKYRIM
The Raven’s Tale: Chapter 5
“Dragon shouts, Thu'um in the Dragon language, are an arcane form of magic prominently used in Tamriel long ago, but has gradually become obscure; in Skyrim there are few who retain the ability to perform these Shouts. The Dragonborn (Dovahkiin) is able to use the language of the dragons to great effect due to his/her ability to absorb the souls of Dragons.” The old man had been going on like this for what seemed an age. We were standing out in the snow on one of the highest peaks in the Province and the Old Greybeard was giving a lecture!
“That’s all very well, Master Arngeir,” I replied, trying to keep my teeth from chattering. “But I find it unlikely that I am descended from the line of Tiber Septim. I have eh some knowledge of an ancestor of mine who stood beside Martin Septim at the end of the Oblivion War. He was the last Septim.”
“Being Dragonborn is not only handed down through the blood,” The Greybeard leader said with some amusement.”Alatosh alone knows who will be chosen although I will grant you that the line of Tiber Septim were all gifted with the power of the Dragonborn. But enough of the past. You have stood there patiently listening to an old man. Let us teach you more about shouts to prepare you for the next task.”
Next task? Oh joys. It never ended I could see that now. On return from my battle with the dragon at the West Tower I had been hailed a Thane of Whitrun and assigned my own Housecarl, a buxom and strong Nord woman named Lydia by the Jarl. I had been given the right to own a house in Whuterun (IF I had the 5000 Septims to pay for it, which I did not). Then I had been told to immediately climb High Hrothgar and answer the summons of the Greybeards. The word that I was Dragon born seemed to attract needy people out of the wood work. The Jarl’s Chancellor needed me to clear out some bandits that were plaguing Whiterun. The Jarl’s wizard, Farngar Secret-Fire wanted a special stone carving which lay inside Bleak Falls Barrow, (he was stunned when I pulled the stone out and handed it to him – for a payment of course). The Priestess of Kynnath wanted me to retrieve sap from the Evergreen to restore the wilting Gildgreen Tree that was planted inside Whiterun. Members of the Greymane clan in Whiterun had tasked me with the job of retrieving their son/brother from the Thalmor. I was even recruited into the Companions, a sort of Fighter’s Guild here in Skyrim. And I still had my promise to Hadvar to look into joining the Imperial Legion.
What really bugged me as I made my way up the seven thousand snow covered steps to High Hrothgar (Seven Thousand Steps, no wonder no one ever say the Greymanes. None of the old buggers could have made the trip back down again!) I was constantly plagued by a brightly coloured bird that seemed to laugh at me. When I asked Lydia what bird it was she did not know saying she had never seen it’s like in Skyrim before. It left as we reached the massive keep of the Greymanes.
And now I was here. They taught me the next word in the phrase to through people back with my voice as well as the word to allow me to move with lightning speed. Arngeir explained that Th’umm (Words) were usually powered by the souls of dragon which I slew (so no problems there, I though sarcastically). The Words would be located on walls such as I had found in the Barrow although the Greybeard did not give me a hint where I could find any others.
“You have demonstrated your ability to learn the Words of Power and to Shout,but this does not prove that you are indeed the Dragonborn,” Arngeir said. “You must pass a final test - retrieve the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller from his tomb in Ustengrav, which lies in the marshes of Hjaalmarch. Bring the Horn here and We will know that you truly are the Dragonborn.” He then turned away and entered the keep with the other three, silent, Greybeards.
That it? I wondered. I looked across at Lydia who had stood silent in the snow while the tests and training had gone on. “And what do you think about all this Lydia?”
“I follow my Thane.” She replied. Wonderful, very handy in a fight but the conversation ability of a stone statue. Worse was to follow as I found that this massive stone pile had only four beds (I wonder where the fifth, unseen member slept?). Night had fallen, there was no food offered and by the actions of the Greybeards they expected me to leave immediately.
With a deal of grumbling of stuck up, tight pursed, tradition bound old foggies, we stomped our way back down the seven thousand steps, in the snow, at night! And that damned bird was back laughing at me all the way. By the Nine what had I had done to deserve this? Coming to Skyrim seemed to be worse than by father’s plan of drinking himself into an early grave. At least he had been warm while he did it.
To be continued.
Ravenswald - February 17, 2012 01:31 AM (GMT)
Elder Scrolls V – SKYRIM
The Raven’s Tale: Chapter 6
It was night, it was snowing hard and I was standing atop a ruined tower trying to fight a dragon. Situation normal it seemed these days.
A torrent of fire generated by a dragon shout struck the tower and I dodged out of the way. I heard the flapping of wings but couldn’t see the dragon. This was fast becoming tiresome. I was beginning to feel someone somewhere didn’t like me.
“Come on you great flying lizard!” I shouted up into the dark sky. “Come down here and say that!”
Suddenly out of the snow swept gloom the dragon’s great shape suddenly reappeared.
“KRII!” I yelled out the Thu’um before it did. It was a new word I had found on the wall behind me. The dragon had been caught napping and had had to take to the air to escape me as I had snuck up the tower stair to attack it. As it had tried to gain height against the snow storms howling wind I had felt the call of the Word Wall and had absorbed the word. Instinctively I knew it meant Kill. I had powered the wall with one of three dragon souls I had yet to use. I had finally accepted that I might in truth be the Dragonborn. Killing eleven dragons sort of made it hard not to feel there might be some truth to this legend and my role in it. I felt the new Thu’um burn in my throat as it was unleashed and struck the great beast. Marked for Death and the dragon quickly knew it as well. Lydia unleashed a fireball and a lightning bolt from the two staffs she held in her hands. Love a woman with skilled hands. The dragon bellowed, his own th’um going wide and he beat his wings and fled back into the darkness.
“You will die this night dragon!” Lydia yelled out.
“That’s telling him.” I said wryly.
“I am sworn to protect you, my Thane,” she replied earnestly, scanning the dark skies. Meeko, my faithful wolf hound had wisely stayed hidden in the tower. The dog was unquestionably loyal and brave to almost suicidal degrees but even he knew a dragon was outside his league.
A glowing purple shadow swooped over us and I cast a lightning bolt from my hand eliciting another scream. Lydia’s fireball/lightning combo chased the retreating dragon into the gloom. A second roar indicated she too had hit her target.
“That’s right you overgrown iguana. Marked for Death is as the label suggests.” Actually I really had no idea what the Dragon Word did only that it seemed to have made the dragon more susceptible to our attacks. It had certainly made it more reticent in attacking us. What surprised me was that the damn thing was still hanging around. It had failed to protect the Word Wall from giving up its secret. Maybe it just couldn’t accept that a mere human could best it. I moved to the battlement of the tower I was standing on and looked toward the mountain that it was built up against. Had that been a flicker of purple aura I had seen in the gloom? Had the dragon landed? Probably waiting for the Thu’um of KRii to wear off before making another run on us. It might be persistent but it wasn’t stupid. It had been making swooping attacks for the past half hour, hit and runs to wear us down, find our weak spots and exploit them. It was certainly wearing us down. It was dark and bitterly cold. Only with the help of my stamina potions were will still able to function normally.
“Where is the bloody thing? I’m getting cold.” I swore, stamping my feet to keep the circulation flowing. My helm of Yngol which I had acquired on a quest in Eastmarch earlier that month gave me some resistance to the frost but it was still damned cold.
“Perhaps we should stop hunting dragons at night in snow storms?” I heard Lydia mumble, her words carried on the wind to me.
“Hey, how was I to know this place was a dragon nest? It wasn’t on the map!” I replied defensively.
“If I may be so bold, my Thane, but none of your so-called Shortcuts are on any map!” Lydia replied. “And no Nord in his right mind would have traveled some of the ‘paths’ that you have led us.”
I couldn’t exactly deny that some of the shortcuts had been more scaling cliff faces or swimming across rapids. Lydia was just put out because she was such a poor swimmer. I had thought to cross the mountain range between Riverwood and Riften without having to walk all the way around. It had been less than successful. If I was honest none of my treks across any of the mountain ranges in our travels across Skyrim had proven to be short. “Well at least you can’t say they have been boring!” I retorted scanning the dark sky. I took a step or two forward, my head looking up and not where I was going.
A gust of wind staggered me and I slipped on a patch of ice and began to topple over the battlement.
A staff appeared out of the gloom which I grabbed as I teetered on the edge of the precipice thirty feet high before being dragged back into the centre by my housecarl.
“Thank you, Lydia. That’s one shortcut I wouldn’t want to take!” I gasped out.
“I am sworn to carry your burdens,” Lydia said ironically. She had taken to saying that every time I piled an assortment of treasures on her which I myself couldn’t carry. It had become a running joke between us. I chuckled.
“I bet you hadn’t expected to actually carry me though?” I looked at her and she looked back at me silently with a look that said that was exactly what she expected. “Oh. Gee. That’s a bit har ….KRii!” The dragon had swooped down from the mountain and was hovering directly above Lydia. The Thu’um was followed by a lightning bolt I had been holding in my hand even as the dragon unleashed his own Thu’um. Heat poured down on both of us and Lydia went down on one knee. I hurled another lightning bolt that went right down the dragon’s throat. Its whole body seemed to glow from the inside out, red merging with the purple aura of the death thu’um. Its wings flapped spasmodically and it flopped and glided down to the Tower’s base.
“RIGHT DRAGON SUSHI!” I ripped out my two handed sword from its scabbard on my back and with just a glance to make certain Lydia was still alive I charged down the spiral staircase. I had to reach the scaled monster before it threw off my Thu’um and recovered enough to take to the sky again. At the bottom I found Meeko, he barked then cowered as the dragon outside roared, flames pouring through the open door to the tower. Meeko yelped and scurried under the staircase. Smart dog. Pity his master wasn’t so smart.
As the fire died I charged straight out into the dark after the receding flame.
The dragon was in the courtyard of the ruined castle it had made its home. It shuffled its wings as it used them as forelegs and glared at me with its glowing red eyes. I took up a stance, sword raised, ready. Now to say something heroic.
“Hey! You with the bad breath. That’s my housecarl and my dog you’re trying to burn!” I snarled raising my sword. “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” Okay so it wasn’t so heroic as they sing in the sagas. Bite me.
The dragon seemed to read my thoughts and snapped at me with his beaky mouth, trying to bite of a leg. I brought my sword down and gave him a resounding strike on his muzzled. I twirled my Skyforged-sword up and around so that it was once more above my head.
“Too slow Scales. What’s the matter, not feeling so ‘top of the food chain’ anymore? Humans not quite as wimpy as you last remember? Bet your regretting getting up out of your grave now? Fortunately help is at hand. I’ve put eleven of your brother’s and sisters back in the ground so I’m becoming a bit of an expert.” The dragon hissed in anger. Well, well he understood Imperial. Who said you couldn’t teach and old dragon new tricks? I could feel the power of the Thu’um slowly coming back to me. All I had to do was waste a little more time. The dragon must have sensed it to and raised his long neck to unleash his own shout. This was exactly what I was waiting for. I leapt forward and charged. The dragon’s fiery shout burnt the ground where I stood as closed in, bringing my sword slicing across his neck, unleashing my Death Shout at the same time. The sword sheered through the long neck like it was carving through venison. The dragon’s own shout died as it did, head and neck toppling over and his body exploding into flames.
“Heads. You loose.” I panted as I watched the fire consume the dragon, leaving only scales and bones. A glow of power rose up from the dragon and flowed into me, its dragon soul becoming part of mine.
I took a deep breath and sighed then went back inside and found Lydia. Her arms and legs were badly burnt but a few of my own brewed Healing potions quickly restored her to perfect health.
“I thank you my Thane. You are quite the Healer. Are you sure you are not a priest.” Lydia surveyed the dragon carcass before us. As if by magic, as the last embers extinguished, the wind died, the snow stopped and the clouds parted and we watched as the sun began to rise over a Skyrim. Dawning of a new day. A good omen after such a dark night.
“My housecarl, I could do no less. And no, for the hundredth time I am definitely not a priest.” I began to go through the dragon’s remains, picking up useable bits of dragon scales and bone as well as coins and weapons from former owners who had ended up in the dragon’s belly. I groaned as I lifted up a dragon bone then looked sideways at Lydia with a sheepish smile.
She sighed. “I am sworn to carry your burdens.”
To be continued.
Ravenswald - February 21, 2012 11:43 PM (GMT)
Elder Scrolls V – SKYRIM
The Raven’s Tale: Chapter 7
The Beast had come to Whiterun.
Houses burned. Men and women cursed, screamed and cried. They and their children died.
Blood dripped from my sword and I took in a deep breath from my last fiery shout. The inner gates were battered but unbreached. Imperials and Nords of Whiterun looked just as exhausted. It had been a long, hard and cruel fight.
“He’s got over the walls! He’s after the Jarl!” Came the cry. I didn’t hesitate.
“WULD NAH!” I shouted. Like a whirlwind I raced back through the bodies of the dead and dying, up through the gate to the Merchant district of Whiterun.
A child in its mother’s arm, her head bent over her little boy quietly weeping. A man, a farmer whom I had brought potatoes while on my adventures lay on his back, his expression one of surprise at his own death. ‘A fair payment for an honest days work.’ He had said to me each time I brought him the simple fair he required to help his farm. Why had he needed to die? Why had this child, or the men and women who just wanted to live their lives in peace?
Anger welled up inside me. Enough.
“FACE ME SCUM!” I shouted. “You Son of a Thalmor!”
He spun around, eyes blazing, teeth bared with the berserk madness of battle.
“SKYRIM BELONGS TO THE NORDS!”
I waited my anger as cold as the frost of an Ice Wraith. I stepped to the side and brought my two handed sword low, slicing through scales and opening up his belly as he passed. I spun around, the sword swirling up and over and then down as I cut through the scaly armour that protected his back. His shout of defiance became a bloody scream but he was too far gone to accept he was already dying. He turned and faced me again, bellowing his rage and ran directly towards me. This time I didn’t dodge. I drove my sword straight through the gap I had made in his armour, driving the point through his guts and out the other side. Using his own impetuous I lifted him up so that he slid, screaming down the length of my sword until he impacted the two barbs a foot from the hilt. We looked each other in the eyes. I watched the madness died in his eyes to be replaced by the realisation of his own death. He tried to say something but the blood welling up in his mouth choked him.
“Yes, Skyrim does belong to the Nords. But not to the likes of you.” I tossed his corpse on the ground before the Jarl of Whiterun. The battle was over, we had one. But at what cost?
I stared around the town I had adopted as my new home. I had been welcomed here, made a Thane by its Jarl. I had already defeated two dragons that had attacked its out defences to avoid the destruction that I now viewed before me. I stared down at the corpses of a family, obviously all hit by a single flaming missile.
Who needed dragons when man was Oblivion bent on destroying themselves? The Civil War Ulfric Sormcloak and the Imperial Army had waged had come to Whiterun. No matter that the Jarl and most of the people here had not wanted to take sides. Ulfric had decided to make an example of this town. And this was the result.
I had met the Stormcloak Leader only a week ago. I had volunteered to be the Jarl Balgruuf’s emissary to plead that Whiterun remain neutral, to find a peaceful way to resolve this war. Ulfric had rejected the offer as he had reject the Jarl’s Axe, a symbol of peace. He informed me that Whiterun was to be made an example of. “If you are not with me, you were against me.” He had shouted. If I had not been under a token of peace I would have battled him there and then. He may believe he was doing what was right for the Nord’s of Skyrim but he was happy to sacrifice any Nord who either disgreed with him of who simply would not follow him.
So I had returned and, with a heavy heart, the Jarl had sent me to Solitude, capital of Skyrim, to negotiate with the General Tullius for Imperial troops. I had met Hadvar there and reluctantly I had joined the legion as a scout before marching back with Hadvar and Legate Trikke to Whiterun. I still hoped that Ulfric would not attack once he had seen the Imperial troops reinforce the town but it was a vein one.
The siege engines had come and unleashed their flaming barrage down upon Whiterun and its citizens. It seemed that the Stormcloak’s were intent on burning the two to the ground as a signal fire of Ulfric’s resolve. Then the attack had been launched. They had rushed the outer defences and I had stood there in the ruined gateway and received them with steel and my shout of fire. What the Greybeard’s might think of my actions I did not care. These were my people now and I would protect them with all I had.
Jarl Balgruuf stared down at the man I had just killed. “That is Ragnar Bear-claw, younger brother of Galmar Stone-fist. You have made a powerful enemy this day.”
“I care not a jot if I have made a blood enemy of every Stormcloak in Skyrim. This attack had no honour. They murdered women and children, THEIR PEOPLE, with neither care nor guilt in their pursuit of controlling this land.” I snarled back fiercely.
“My Jarl,” A Whiterun guard knelt in the bloody and scorched ground. “Stone-fist and what is left of his army retreats. The day is yours.”
“Thank you Sigurd, gather the people, I will talk to them outside the main gate.” He looked up at a house, its thatched roof in flames. “But first help put out the fires before we have no home left.”
“Allow me,” I said, stepping forward to the nearest house on fire. “Step back.” I commanded.
“The men and women turned to there Jarl who nodded. Once they had done so I closed my eyes, gathered my powered then shouted:
A blast of Frost covered the house. I moved from house to burning house, clutching the amulet of Talos I wore to quickly restore my power and put out all the fires the same way.
“Dragonborn.” People began to whisper as I passed. Funny, they new the stories about me slaying two dragons at the East and South Tower and yet it was this act of putting out their burning homes with just my voice that finally convinced them. And me. Until now I just wanted to believe that fate had made a mistake, or it was my ancestry that was coming out. Now it was impossible to deny. I was the Dragonborn and I had a duty to these people.
Once the fires were out I gathered with the rest to listen first to Jarl Balgruuf and then Imperial Legate Trikke make speeches but my eyes were turned East. Fighting dragons was no longer my only concern. To the East was Winterhelm, where another threat, maybe well meaning but terribly misguided in his belief as to how he should achieve his goal. Ulfric and his men must be stopped. Nords would not die fighting Nord if I could stop it. I left the crowd and walked out through the ruined gate. I sucked in my power and focussed on far off Winterhelm and its Jarl.
“FUS RO DUH!” I yelled out. I will fight you with Unrelenting Force Ulfric Stormcloak, I vowed as my shout echoed down the valleys, over the retreating Stormcloak army until it reached the snow swept walls of Winterhelm. You will see the error of your ways or by the Nine that we both hold on high, I will destroy you.
To be continued.
Ravenswald - March 7, 2012 04:37 AM (GMT)
Elder Scrolls V – SKYRIM
The Raven’s Tale: Chapter 8
The Dragon bellowed and I bellowed back.
With my Helm of Yngol protecting me from frost and my Boots of Extinguishing protecting me from flame the Blood Dragon before me could do little damage no matter what he choose.
My fiery shout on the other hand engulf the monster causing his bellow to turn into a hiss of pain. To my right Lydia unleashed another blast of lighting from the staff I had given her while the Dremora warrior she summoned from my newly acquire Sanguine’s Rose yelled out a challenge. My shout was my challenge as I charged forward towards the downed dragon. It snapped at the Daedra, whose black sword scored deep fiery wounds allowing me to get in under its neck.
I drove my exquisitely made two handed sword up into the dragon’s chin and into its brain. Its bellows ceased immediately and I stepped to the side as it collapsed and exploded into flame, its soul joining the others that now inhabited my being.
"I really don't have time for crap like this," I mumbled as I began to pull out the heavy bones and useful pieces of scale from the carcass. I tested my bulging back pack and grunted. The thing never seemed to be light these days. I turned to my trusted Housecarl who merely sighed and unhooked her own back pack.
“Yes my Thane, I am sworn to carry your burdens.”
“I wouldn’t ask but you are a big strong Nord after all.” I grinned sheepishly as I handed her the bones I couldn’t carry. I had once bemoaned the fact that I had barely two septims to rub together. Now I had so much loot I couldn’t sell it all! The war wasn’t paying well but I’d been making a name for myself helping out the people of Skyrim and the rewards had been incredible. Dragur haunted Barrows, barbarous Foresworn camps, bandit dens not to mention slaying 20 dragons had seen me amass 50,000 septims. I could finally buy the fine house in Solitude and become the High Queen’s Thane adding it to my titles of Thane of Whiterun and Dawnstar.
Meeko appeared out from behind a big bush and bravely advanced toward the dragon skeleton and barked at it. The dragon’s head fell to the side and my brave dog yelped and scurried back into the bush.
“Stupid dog.” Lydia said in mild annoyance. Meeko did have the tendency to get under foot at the most inopportune times although he had learnt not to charge into frays with creatures that could kill him with one strike.
We were on our way to lead an attack on Fort Kastav, a Stormcloak hold where a number of Imperial Scouts were being held. Capturing it the fort would also cut the Jarl of Winterhold from Ulfric Stormcloak at Windhelm. This camp that dominated the Jarldom of Winterhold. I had joined the College of Wizards to initially determine whether the Archmage was as devoted to the rebel Ulfric as the jarl of Winterhold but I had been surprised to find that the Wizards had been too wrapped up in their own little interests to be bothered by petty things such as who ruled Skyrim or who was a god or not. As it turned out my mission to Winterhold had served a twofold purpose. I had found, or more correctly she had found me, the last of the Blades, legendary guardians of the old Septim Emperors. It turned out that they had been dragon hunters before they had become protectors of the Dragonborn Emperors. The recent war with the Elves had proven the doom of the Blades. They had been hunted down and murdered by the Thalmor until only a few remained, hiding in the furthest reaches of the Empire.
I had proven myself, rescued another Blade who possessed knowledge that could help end the Dragon plague. I had tramped back up the mountain to High Hrothgar to speak to the Greybeards who, while unhappy that I was dealing with the Blades taught me how to reach the top of the mountain, the Throat of the World to meet the head of their order, Paarthunax.
Using a new found shout that allowed me to banish the weather I reached the top of the mountain. I was not surprised to discover that the mysterious Paarthurnax was a dragon. (The name alone was a giveaway but also I’d picked up enough from old tomes and legends to realise that only a dragon could have taught the first Dragonborn to ‘Shout’)
From the Ancient Dragon, younger brother or nephew of Alduin the Black, told me of how Alduin had supposedly been defeated before. By three heroes using and Elder Scroll. Except they had not defeated Alduin, they had merely ripped a hole in Time instead and hurled Alduin into the future. Or more correctly the Present. Now I had to find that same scroll and find a way back to that event and put an end to Alduin once and for all. Piece of Cheese!
How did Winterhold fit you may be asking? Well, would you know it but the knowledge of where that Elder Scroll might very well lie in the College. I was now getting a reputation and it seemed that even my constant changes of armour, (Lydia and I were now decked out in fine Orcish Heavy armour) I was now being attacked by Stormcloak patrols more often than not. I’d had to sneak into the college, dressed as a novice mage.
Naturally finding the scroll wasn’t easy. The college was full of intrigues, a Thalmor seeking information, infighting and an Archmage that didn’t seem to really care about anything as long as it was done quietly and didn’t disturb him. The discovery of a strange sphere, a broken piece of a magic necklace from a dead archmage and his cursed family, a mysterious cult and a hundred little annoying tasks had me chasing my damned tail for the better part of a week. My annoying jackdaw was back laughing his head off.
My success at meeting task after task gained me popularity but also notice by the Stormcloaks and I had to cut my way out of the benighted town. With the guard up I couldn’t re-enter the College to finally learn where the Elder Scroll might be. So I returned to the War as the only way to achieve that end.
“By Mephala’s firm arse ye talk a lot!” My accursed bird cawed as he landed on my shoulder. “Ladee they don want ta hear aboot wha ya did, unless ye are describing bedding a nice bit of Nordish wench, or eating a plump wheel o’ creamy goat’s cheese. Nothing lik’a plump piece o’cheese to get the man muscle stiff.”
“And you say I go on?”
“Aye tha I doo. Yer no on the Rockfjord Files ye ken.” Sheogorath retorted.
“What are the Rockfjord files?”
“Yer don ken the Rockfjord Files. Where ha ye been laddee? Jim and Angel and Rocky and …”
“I cannot believe I’m related to you.” I cut in. This was going to be a long march through the dark and snow if this was going to go on. I looked back at Lydia who wisely, if cowardly, dropped her head and trudged on. Couldn’t blame her. Sheo had tried to proposition her the last time he had appeared in a most rude way.
“You kanna believe it? Wha aboot me! Do ya ken how embarrassed I be to ha’ ye as me great-great-great-grandson? I die of shame every time I thin … ARGH!” The bird flopped off my shoulder and collapsed on the ground where he disappeared in a puff of pink smoke.
“Frankly I don’t know what’s worse. Being the Dragonborn, fighting this tragic Civil War or being plagued by the Daedric Prince of Madness who just happens to be me my ancestor!”
“My Thane I will serve you as best I can,” Lydia offered.
“Ruff!” Agreed Meeko.
I grimaced at the two of them. “Now the two of you speak up? Where were you a minute ago?” I sighed, shook my head and trudged on. With any luck, I thought, Sheogorath would stay dead for the rest of the day. How could supposedly Champion of Cyroddil and Hero of Kavitch turn into such a wacko?! No wonder my father and grandfather took to drinking! Part of me wished I could return to have another drinking match with Sanguine. Now there was a Daedra Prince who knew how to party.
Dawn was breaking as we came upon the Imperial camp near the Stormcloak Fort. A familiar face got out of his sleeping wraps to greet us.
We embraced. He looked over my shoulder at my housecarl. “Lydia, still following this looser? Are you his housecarl or his pack mule?”
“With my Thane’s permission I will turn this impudent Nord into the Breton woman he obviously is!” Lydia growled as she dump her heavy backpack next to mine and reached for her exquisite Ebony Great sword I had given her.
“Ooo,” chuckled Hadvar’s troop of legionaires. “Watch out Hadvar, she looks man enough to do it.” Said one.
“I think you would look right pretty in a dress,” said another. They all laughed quietly.
“Enough!” I restrained Hadvar who also was reaching for his sword. “Save you steel for the Stormcloaks. Now what is the situation. Legate Trikke told me you had prisoners inside?”
Hadvar gave a final glare to his soldiers then turned to me. “Aye, they were ambushed three days ago scouting the approaches. The Legate has kept most of her men back for the march on Winterhold. I need you to get inside and released the men so that we can pincer the garrison.”
“We counted 60 men and women.”
“60! You have on 20 here and how many are inside, unarmed and in cells?” I said incredulously.
“Another 5.” Hadvar said with a slight wince. “And of course there is now you and your gentle housecarl.”
“And fearsome dog.”
“You do know odds of three to one are what is normally recommended …. For the attacker of a fortified hold?” I said, my sarcasm heavy.
“But you are the Dragonborn,” Hadvar replied and his men nodded enthusiastically. The grey dawn was growing lighter. Damn it all.
“Yeh, I’m the Dragonborn, not a DRAGON!” I snarled. “Alright, you wait here until my signal then charge that gate with all you have.”
“What be the signal?” Hadvar asked as I left, Lydia and Meeko following.
“I don’t know, I making this up as I go along. But I’m sure you’ll work it out!”
Dawn attacks are probably the best next to attacks launched at 2am in the morning. The guards are about to change, all are tired and not at their best. Casting the muffle spell we snuck past the barricades (the gate had been destroyed in the earlier Stormcloak assault that had fist taken this Imperial Fort) and into the courtyard. A horse raised its head and looked at us but neither neighed nor made any other noise. Mayhap the lack of a warm stable made him little inclined to warn his masters.
We moved along the side of the walls towards the keep where, in the dungeons below, Hadvar has assured me, the Legionnaires were kept prisoner.
There was no movement in the courtyard and the few guars on the walls were huddled by their fires, more concerned with warmth than being on alert.
I moved up the stairs to the great wooden door, congratulating myself on a sneaky entrance when …
“FEAR! FIRE! FOES! UP AND ATAM BOYOES. THE GAME IS A FOOT AND MAYBE A LEG. SHAKE ONE OR TE GOING TO BE A DEAD LADEES AND LASSEES.” The Jackdaw swooped down to flutter above the door to the prison. “Top o’the morning Grandson. Ye didna want to have an easy run now didya?”
“I really hate you,” I snarled unsheathing my sword and ripping open the door to the Keep. I skewered a startled Stormcloak as he ran right into me coming the other way.
“Well tha’ be a Oblivion way to wake up in the morning!” The Jackdaw cackled.
“FOR THE EMPIRE!” I roared and charged in. “YOL TOOR!” I sent a fiery breath down the corridor incinerating the Tower guard. We charged on. I had to reach the prisoners and released them quickly now. Hadvar would obviously have taken that cry as my signal damn Sheogorath’s beard. I turned left then down and reached a stair leading down to the dungeons. I shoved open the door and killed the jailer.
I rifled through the jailer’s body and came away with the keys. I rushed down to the first cell. A tall brunette Nord looked at me.
“Ain’t ye a little short for an Imperial Stormtrooper.”
“Nice,” I replied caustically. “Do you want out Princess or shall I leave you here to rot?”
He guffawed. “Get me out little milk-drinker and ye will see how Eric Stormtroll fights.” Quickly I went unlocked his cell then the others while Lydia stood guard above. “Equip yourselves as best you can, then join us up stairs. We’re taking this fort back for the Empire.”
The men needed no urging and were already pulling on their leathers that had been stacked in a pile at the top of the stair then picked up picks and shoves and instruments of torture before following me out.
The battle was in full swing when we exited into the courtyard. It seems that initially the Stormcloaks had reacted to my entrance of their keep only to be distracted as Hadvar led his men to the gate, tearing down the barrier and pouring into the courtyard. Surprise had gained them entry but now numbers were telling.
“YOL TOOR!” I shouted sweeping three archers from the battlements as they rained arrows down on our men.
The shout and the fiery explosion caused everyone to turn in my direction.
“I suppose asking for your surrender right now is out of the question?” I asked.
“SKYRIM FOR THE NORDS!” Bellowed a big fellow in ornate plate armour.
“For the Empire.” I countered and charged. I laid about me with my Skyforged Great sword with abandon. There was no time for finesse. We were outnumber at least two to one and we had to bring down the odds fast. A massive fireball went off as a squad of Stormcloaks appeared from a tower. Lydia using the Firestorm Staff I had given her.
“Death is too easy here.” Grumbled the massive Dremora warrior she had also summoned who was laying about him with a black Daedra Great sword. Meeko leapt in, bringing down a rebel and tearing his throat out. He might be cute but that damned dog was a very efficient killer. I saw Hadvar duelling with three Stormcloaks. Three of his men went down with arrows in them. We were fighting well but were being surrounded by sheer numbers.
“For the Empire!” Suddenly out from the Keep came the rescued scouts. The Stormcloaks were caught by surprise, not expecting another attack from inside their walls. One of the scouts went down with an arrow in his throat but the others including the giant Stormtroll crashed into our attackers. The Rebels gave way.
“YOL TOOR!” My dragon shout blasted four. Another four were immolated by Lydia’s fireball while more were knocked off their feat by the following explosion. They were quickly bludgeoned by the scouts and their weapons taken. We were now on par with the Stormcloak garrison, then we were outnumbering them. I saw the big Stormcloak leader trying to rally his men and women. I cut down a rebel and charged the big man. Height and girth weren’t his only assets. He was strong too. But I’d been in constant fights for most of the last two months and my ability to wield a great sword far outweighed his ability with axe and shield.
I parried a vicious cut to my guts then twirled, bringing my sword around in a scything slash which crashed into his shield, stunning him. I moved in for the kill but I was hit by two arrows, one bouncing harmlessly of my helmet, the other burying itself in my left arm. I hissed in pain but moved on. My cut was parried again by the Rebel leader’s shield and a third arrow struck me in the right thigh. That slowed me down. I stopped, staggered back, my sword going behind me as if to keep me on my feet. The leader recovered, grinned and came for me, scenting victory.
“SKYRIM IS FOR THE NOR …” His battle cry was cut as my good foot came forward, my sword whipped up and across, sheering through his head. His torso stumbled past me and fell onto the snow, his blood staining it red. I turned raising my sword in triumph and stopped.
On the battlement across the courtyard stood three Stormcloak archers, each with their bows drawn back, aiming at me. Time seemed to slow. I gathered my breath to launch a shout knowing that it would be too late. I heard someone shout to my right as the three archers loosed their arrows. My armour was good but these guys had already proven they knew how to shoot. Damn.
Lydia leapt in front of me and was hurled back into my arms with force. I dropped my sword and caught her. Three arrows had cracked her Orcish armour and were buried in tight formation her upper chest. Lydia!
She looked up at me as we went down. “I die for my Thane.”
“Not on my watch!” I looked up to see the three rebels drawing back their bows again. Men or women I didn’t care. They’d just killed my housecarl and were going to pay! “YOL TOOR!”
The fiery dragon shout immolated the three archers and sent them dancing backwards over the battlement to their deaths, screaming. I didn’t care. I was already easing Lydia down onto the trampled ground. She coughed and blood ran down her mouth.
The Imperial Nord came trotting up. “That was the last of them. We have taken …” He stopped as he got around the cluster of men and saw us. “By the Eight.!
“Hadvar, my back pack. The ornate deep red flasks. Bring them now!” I ordered. He took one more look then turned and rushed off. I was trying to get Lydia to drink from the healing potion I carried but she coughed it up with more blood. Gods she was so pale, her lips were blue.
“Ye can’t restore her tha way lade.” I heard a soft voice say. I looked up to see one of the Imperial soldiers was actually Sheogorath. His silver moustache drooping in sorrow.”
“Help her.” I begged.
“I am sorry my Lad but it be not in my power to hep the gel.”
“No, you must be …wait restore. You said restore!” I suddenly remembered the classes I took at the Wizard College from Volette Marence. The Breton had been paranoid about the other wizards being out to denigrate her but she had been genuinely helpful. Especially in the magic of restoring wounds.
“Restoratium Celer.” I said placing my hand over her armoured chest. I felt the Magika drain from me. Damn I’d wished I’d put some effort in improving my core Magika but I’d focussed on being a warrior and who needed spells when you had the ability to Shout like a Dragon? Now I regretted it. Lydia moaned but blood still bubbled from her mouth. “You two, unbuckle her armour. You I need the flasks of blue liquid in my back pack. The rest of you make yourselves useful. I need guards on the walls, I need blankets and get me a brazier to warm her. NOW!”
The Troopers jumped to my orders. I was technically now a Tribune and actually outranked Hadvar not that I cared a Septim for the title.
“Restorum.” It was a basic healing spell. Anyone with any ability of taping their Magika could cast it.
“Sir, the arrows,” One of the legionnaires asked. Lydia’s breast plate was unbuckled but the arrows pined it to her chest.
“Damn. Alright. You break off the arrow as I cast the spell.” I was sweating and feeling light headed. “Restorum.”
Snap. Lydia groaned, her body arching.
Snap. She cried out in pain, blood spiting over us.
Snap. Lydia collapsed, unmoving.
“No! Lydia. Lydia. Restorum.” I croaked as the legionnaires lifted the ruined breast plate to reveal the broken arrows embedded in and around her left breast. I said the spell again but nothing happened. I had no more Magika to cast the spell. I needed to rest but couldn’t. Again I tried to feed her the healing potion but she wouldn’t swallow. What was the point of having all these Dragon Shouts if there was not one that could not heal? What did that say of all Dragons? Meeko came up and with a low howl plopped down beside her body, his head resting on her lap.
There came a thudding of footsteps and Hadvar arrived. “I brought the potions.” He gasped out. I looked at him hopelessly.
“She can’t swallow. If only I’d told you to bring a Magika potion,” I croaked.
“But I did.” Hadvar beamed, pulling a deep blue potion from the small haversack he carried.
“Give, Quickly!” He unstopped it and shoved it into my hand. I downed it, trying not to choke. “RESTORATUM CELER!” Golden light crackled from my finger tips and washed over her terribly wounded chest. One of the arrow heads magically popped out of its wound. Her chest rose and fell. “Healing Potion!”
Hadvar handed it to me and I put it to her lips. Lydia choked but swallowed. “Hadvar, keep letting her sip the potion. Restorum. Restorum.” My fingers flared again and again as I added the minor healing to the fast healing spell I had just cast. The coupled with the concentrated healing potion she was quaffing the other two arrow heads were ejected from her wounds which now closed. As the second runner came back with Magika potions Lydia’s skin was no longer pale and she was breathing more freely. Her eyes flickered.
“Irilith, farewell my Love,” She moaned.
I looked down at my Housecarl. Irilith? Jarl Balgruuf of Winterhold’s Housecarl. Well that explained a few things although finding out my Housecarl and the surly Dunmer female were lovers was a surprise. It did explain however why Irilith had never warmed to me and had warned me that her eye would be on me constantly. It wasn’t a lack of trust merely the fact that I continually took her lover into dangers where death was a more than likely result.
I had run out of both Magika and Healing potions. Fighting Dragons will do that to you. Bit Lydia was stable but very weak.
I had her taken to the late Rebel Commander’s quarters where I stayed with her for the whole day until I was certain she was out of immediate danger. That evening I met up with Hadvar.
“We have one again, my Imperial Friend,” Hadvar gripped my arm. “And your housecarl will live. Another glorious day for the Empire.”
“I suppose. Too many lives lost, on both sides.” The garrison was all dead. There were no prisoners. But our tiny force had lost half our original number and the rest were carrying numerous wounds. My arm and leg were both stiff and throbbing.
“I’ve received word from the Legate. Her march on Winterhold went without an issue as you predicted. The Wizards did not support the rebel Jarl Krorir who has fled to Windhelm. A new Jarl, Kaldar has been appointed in his place. The whole North is now loyal to the Empire once again. And all thanks to you. You will be rewarded handsomely for this.”
I grunted. No reward could match the life of my Housecarl. “I’m taking Lydia home to Whiterun. I’ll be needing a horse and cart and some provisions. I’ll head onto Solitude after I’ve got Lydia settled.”
Hadvar looked solemn. “Of course my friend. You are a good man. Too soft to be a Nord but then you are an Imperial. I doubt Irilith or Lydia will thank you but in their hearts they will sing thy praises. Are you sure you are not a servant of Mara?”
I chuckled. Me a servant of the Goddess of Love. That would be a turn for the books? Or would it. So far I’d fought to bring this war and fore torn country to peace and harmony. Maybe I was going about this the wrong way. I shrugged that was for later. Now I had to prepare for the trip to bring Lydia home. I’d give her Breezehome. She deserved some place better than a barracks and a bit of privacy for her and Irilith. I wasn’t sure on the Nords' views on same sex relationships but I had seen how they usually treated non-humans. I doubted many knew of their relationship.
Meeko trotted up to me and I ruffled his ears. Out in the dark I heard a cry. A troll, a bear or a newly re-born Dragon. Who knew. Whatever it was I would face it.
Ravenswald - April 2, 2012 10:12 PM (GMT)
Elder Scrolls V – SKYRIM
The Raven’s Tale: Chapter 9
Battle raged all around.
I cut down another Stormcloak with my now legendary Greatsword. The poor man stiffened as the enchanted blade unleashed its frosty curse into his already impaled body. I let him fall from my sword and took my bearings. All around me were the horrid scars of battle. Bodies were strewn everywhere, buildings were burning. Windhelm, heart of the rebellion, was about to fall. Words of an old General came to mind. “Next to a battle lost, a battle won is the most terrible.” Problem was I had yet to win this battle.
Nearby two soldiers lay, one Imperial and one Rebel, entwined, each having killed the other. I grimaced as I looked upon the upturn face of a pale Nord woman, red hair cascading from her fallen helmet. So young. What had she been told that she would fight and die for Ulfric Stormcloak? Why had any of them?
So many dead. We’d killed a major concentration of Ulfric’s troops here today but it had cost us as well. I saw Jordis, my new Housecarl, raise her hand to acknowledge she was alright before using a staff to unleash a frost storm on a squadron of Stormcloaks coming out of a side alley. She yelled a battle cry and charged them, cutting down the frost bitten troops without mercy. I had become Thane of Solitude and in reward for my services the High Queen had assigned me this tall, blonde, rather merry woman as my housecarl to replace Lydia. She was every bit as effective a fighter as Lydia had been, in fact I had to admit when it came to using the Staffs of Lightning and Fire that I gave my housecarls she was by far the more accurate. I did care deeply for stern Lydia but Jordis was eager to take my burdens which was a pleasant change from Lydia’s rather sarcastic response to similar requests. Her desire to please and help had been a great comfort in these past weeks through the many adventures and dark places we had faced together.
I raised my sword and soldiered on. The Stormcloaks were everywhere. This was the main army but even now I regretted every life I took. The sooner I reached the Palace the sooner I could end this mad slaughter. Alduin was raising more dragons. More settlements were being attacked. This stupid Civil War must end. I had tried to bring both parties to the peace table. I had discovered how Alduin had been defeated before from Paarthunax, Master of the Order of the Greybeards. I had journeyed through the depths of the Underworld, through Falmor-infested cities of the now lost Dwemer to find the Elder Scroll. I had used that scroll to journeyed back in time to see how three Nord heroes had sent Alduin into the future and I had learnt the Shout Dragonrend which would bring any dragon crashing from the sky. I had even learnt that Whiterun had a hall designed to capture and hold a dragon. I had all I needed to defeat the Black Dragon of Destruction but I needed to end this civil war first. Tullius refused as the Empire was now winning and Ulfric would not listen to me, refusing to make any concession to even win a truce. He was blind to his own predicament and pointlessness of his cause.
So this was the only way. More human lives lost before I could fight the greatest threat of the Age.
I fought my way through the Merchant district, then through the narrow streets of the upper class. The necromantic Butcher had been carrying out his horrid work of slicing up young women in one of those very buildings. I had fried the madman with a shout in hopes of showing the people of Winterhold that I was willing to fight for them as the Empire. I had won friends but not enough to sway Ulfric. I unleashed a fiery shout on a squad of Stormcloaks who blocked my way. Many died but the quicker I advanced the quicker this bloodshed would end. Then I arrived.
Before me stood the Palace of Kings. I had probably killed the very guards I has assisted on in tracking down the butcher as well as defeating the Giants that had been plaguing the Winterhold traders. One man was to blame for this slaughter.
“ULFRIC STORMCLOAK! COME OUT AND FIGHT ME!” I roared. The massive reinforced gate to the palace remained closed. But not for long.
“FUS ROH DA!” The Dragon Shout of Unrelenting Force blasted the doors open. Behind me I heard heavy footsteps and turned to see General Tullius and Legate Rikke with two Legionnaires arrive, bloodied but hale.
“Let us end this,” The General cried. “For the Emperor.”
I nodded and entered the lair of the man who had brought so much woe to Skyrim.
Two guards leapt at us as we entered. I ran one through while Rikke dispatched the other.
“Secure the doors!” Tullius ordered. Two legionnaires who had made it through with us, pulled the doors closed.
“It is done.” The Legate confirmed. I frowned. Where was Jordis and Meeko. Damnation if they had been hurt, or worse!
The Hall was nearly empty. The long table where only a week before had been filled with dispossessed rebel Jarl’s and the entourages was now bare. I had seen none of the Jarl’s in the city. Probably hiding someplace in the palace. None had yet shown the stomach to join the fight themselves.
At the far end stood a mountain of a man, Glamar Stone-fist. He was wearing his bearskin and the uniform of a Stormcloak General. He hefted his massive iron battle-axe. I had killed his brother at the siege of Whiterun and he had vowed to kill me the next time we met. I had so far avoided such a meeting the last few times I had entered this city. Not this time.
Behind him, lounging on the throne of the Jarl of Winterhold was Ulfric Stormcloak himself. He was still in his dark court clothes and wolf’s cloak. The only items of war on him were the braces on his arms and magic war axe by his side.
Something was not right. I glanced from side to side trying to spot the trap. Tullius cared not for any of that. He marched down the hall.
“Ulfric Stormcloak! You are guilty of insurrection, murder of Imperial citizens, the assassination of High King Torygg and high treason against the Empire.” He bellowed as he came to stand before the unmoved Rebel Leader. Legate Rikke and I took up positions on either side of the General. I was facing Galmar whose lips curled back, showing his yellow teeth in a snarl as he recognised me. “It’s over.”
“Not while I draw breath,” snarled Galmar. “Kinslayer, you will be the first to wet my axe. SKYRIM FOR THE NORDS!” The big man swung his axe in a low sweeping cut which I took on my left side. My ebony armour was now as legendary as my sword, tempered by the fires of many dragons’ fiery breaths. His axe strike bruised my ribs but was otherwise turned harmlessly away by the metal. I brought my greatsword up and swung right to left. Galmar straightened as he tried to recover and my blade took his head off cleanly, sending it flying into the air.
“YOL!” A fiery blast engulfed Tullius and Rikke as Ulfric shouted rising from his throne and drawing his axe. “I will turn you two Thalmor lackeys to charcoal and the Dragonborn shall run …”
Thudd, thud. Galmor’s head bounced and landed by his feet. Ulfric hesitated and gapped at his dead friend and trusted lieutenant. It cost him his life. Both Rikke and Tullius lunged forward at the same time, driving their swords into Stormcloak’s chest. His arrogance at not wearing armour was his undoing. He gasped out then collapsed backwards onto the foot of the throne he had taken only months before.
“Well Ulfric,” Tullius said triumphantly, surprisingly hale after being engulfed in flames. “You won’t be escaping me this time. Any last requests before I send you … to wherever you people go when you die?”
Ulfric panted and wheezed as he struggled to turn to face us.
“…. Sovengard ….Sir.” Rikke said painfully. Unlike Tullius she showed the burns from Ulfric’s fiery shout.
“Right.” Tullius said. “Well?”
Ulfric looked at me. “Let the Dragonborn be the one to do it. It’ll make for a better song.”
Tullius scoffed. “Song or not I just want it done.”
I looked down on Ulfric and I carefully wiped my blade clean before sheathing it. I took my helmet from my head. “Song? Is that all you care for? All these people died and you want to go down in some saga as a hero killed by the Dragonborn? I will not give you that satisfaction!”
“When … death is all.” Ulfric struggled to say. “It means something.”
“I’ll be happy to take that,” Tullius grunted and without further ado drove his ebony blade into Ulfric’s chest. The Rebel Leader gasped and arched but he gripped the General’s arm and drove the blade to the hilt into his own chest. The two men, so long at war with each other, glared one more time into each other’s eyes. Then Ulfric began to change. His face seemed to shrink, become cavernous as if he were being drained of whatever life he had left. At the same time the remaining injuries of the General were healing until he looked as fresh as if he had just bathed. With a final rattle Ulfric collapsed, a pile of bones wrapped in yellowing dry flesh.
“Talos be with you …”
“What was that Legate?” Tullius turned around, pulling the sword from Ulfric’s body.
“Nothing.” Rikke replied, leaning against the high table, obviously still in pain. “Just saying goodbye.” She looked at me and I nodded. I may not have liked the man but the man had been fighting for what he believed in and had died facing his enemy. Talos be with him.
“Well the men will be expecting a speech. Send out word that Ulfric and Galmar are both dead. I’d say that will end what little fight is left in these Stormcloaks.” He nodded to Rikke. “We’ll need to hand this city over to that Free-Winter fellow.”
“Brunwulf. I’ll send some men to escort him and bring him here safely.” Trike replied. “Windhelm needs a government and quickly if we want to end the violence.”
“The Legion will be staying here for quite some time. I don’t expect there to be any further violence.” Tullius looked at the sword in his hand then at me. “Oh and Legate Ravenwood, here, you deserve something for all that you have done for the Empire. Take it.” He handed me the ebony weapon. “It’s called the Sword of the Vampire. It will restore your health while sapping your enemies.” He sighed then stalked out of the hall, now guarded by two legionnaires. “Now to deliver a speech.”
I looked at the sword. It was a single handed ebony weapon. The fact that it had been used to execute Ulfric left me uneasy but my eye as a smith and a budding enchanter gave me an idea. I bent down and picked up Ulfric’s Axe. I knew immediately I lifted it what enchantment it contained. It instilled fear and cowardice in any who were touched by it. So the Imperial General had used a life sucking blade against the Rebel leader with an axe of cowardice and terror. There was a message there I was sure. I handed a potion of vigorous health to the Legate who gulped it down. She nodded her thanks, her many cuts and burns healing rapidly. “My Thanks Dragonborn.”
We followed the General outside. Fires still raged but the sounds of battle had ceased. A large part of the army was standing in the courtyard as Tullius stood atop a fallen pillar.
“The Rebellion is OVER! Ulfric Stormcloak is DEAD!”
The legionnaires, bloodied and battered raised their weapons and cheered.
“His head will be sent to Cyrodil where it will adorn a spike on the Imperial City. Let this be a warning to all who would still call themselves Stormcloaks!” Tullius surveyed his cheering men. “We are turning the city over to Brunwulf Free-Winter, an honourable and faithful man. Many of you will be staying in the city to help the Jarl stamp out any last embers of rebellion that may still smoulder here. In appreciation for your exemplary service I am doubling your pay and to the widows of your fallen comrades.”
As the legionaries cheered even louder Jordis and Meeko made their way through the crowd. I startled her by pulling her into my arms and hugging her. “Thank the Gods.” I said, looking into her corn blue eyes. “I feared the worse. And you too you old raga muffin.” I ruffled Meeko’s shaggy head.”
“I … I am yours to command.” Jordis said breathlessly.
“As I am to you, my Lady.” I bowed and raised her right hand up I pulled the gauntlet off and kissed her strong hand. I smiled as she blushed prettily. Lydia would have smacked me over the head, the thought made me smile which seemed to make Jordis blush even more fiercely. She was rather pretty I suddenly noticed despite the many marks of battle. Brave, hell of a fighter, knew how to use magic staffs without immolating her thane and pretty too.
“I’m proud of you all!” Tullius continued. “All Hail the Emperor. All Hail the Legion!”
“HAIL!” The legionaries were cheering and slapping each other on the back, their injuries forgotten.
Tullius jumped off the fallen column. “I hate giving speeches,” He sighed quietly.
“It wasn’t so bad,” Rikke said.
“I hope we haven’t created a martyr.” Tullius rubbed his chin. I turned away shaking my head. Now he thinks of that.
“There’s bound to be resistance. There were reports of many Stormcloak camps in the hills. Not all of them will disband when the news of Ulfric’s death reaches them. The ordinary citizens will be happy to back to life as normal, to have their families return home.”
“And what of me? Do you require more?” I asked. I suddenly realised that I still had Jordis’ hand in mine. She gave it a squeeze when I looked at her before turning back to Rikke.
“The Legion’s work is far from finished but you are free to roam. I suspect you will do greater good for Skyrim out there, in the world.” Rikke replied.
“I agree.” Tullius came up to us. “Something is stirring, it might be these Dragons you have been fighting, or something even worse. We have achieved peace here. I’m sure of it. With luck Ulfric’s followers will now loose heart and go back to their homes and families. What I’m not sure about is the peace we have made with the Thalmor.” He hesitated and realised he might have said to much. He looked at us all and in a lower voice said. “But we’ll keep that between us. Alright?”
“Of course General.” I said. The two women nodded. “Will you be returning to Cyrodil?”
“No, I expect Skyrim will be my home for many years yet. Can’t say I’ll ever get used to the damn cold or understand these Nords but…” He looked at Rikke then at Jordis before his gaze returned to me. “I’ve come to respect them.” He bowed to both women. “The Harshness of Skyrim has a way of carving a man down to his true self.”
What a strange comment, but I guess I understood what he meant.
“The Empire thanks you and glories in your accomplishments. Come Rikke.” The General said and marched to join his troops.
“Stormcloaks …” Rikke sighed as she looked around the ruined city. “Even the name stinks of Ulfric’s rebellion, his ambition to be king. That’s all this was about, one man’s ambition.”
“And yet you still asked Talos to look after him.” I said gently.
She frowned. “I … never mind. Take care Dragonborn, may the Nine watch over you.” She walked away.
“You mean the Eight don’t you?” I asked wryly.
“You heard what I said.” She didn’t turn back and stalked away.
I chuckled softly. What a strange world we lived in. I turned to Jordis. “Well I suppose we should be off. Alduin won’t be waiting for ever and frankly letting a dragon destroy the world after all that we’ve done seems a rather poor ending to the song.” I thought of Ulfric’s last request. Then I looked at Jordis. All of a sudden she looked so very young.” That is if you still wish to accompany me. I would understand …mmmph!”
The Nord Housecarl threw herself into my arms and held me while her generous lips mashed against mine. The she quickly pulled back and stared into my eyes intently.
“You are truly a noble man my Thane. I would follow you to Sovengard itself.” Jordis said passionately before stepping back, once more becoming the watchful and martial housecarl. “Lead on, my Thane.”
Ok maybe I don’t understand as much as I thought, especially where women are concerned. But they are pleasant to kiss.