Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Part 27: What is a Dragonborn to Do?

Riverwood was quiet when I arrived. I walked in slowly, lost in my thoughts.

Had I become what I hated most? Someone who kills without regard to another's family?

Crickets and far off wolves could be heard, and I gazed up at the moon. I sat on a nearby stump, facing my old home, Leaf Rest, where Ysolda had been killed. Arrow shuffled next to me, the crisp night causing clouds of condensation to float through the air, making it look like he was breathing smoke.

I patted the faithful horse on the shoulder. His skin jumped at my touch, but he settled down once he realized he enjoyed the petting. "What to do, old boy?"

I felt like I needed some time to think, and perhaps an adventure that didn't include killing Imperials. I brought out my map, unfolding it on my lap, holding it up to the moonlight which shone down brightly.

I remembered the Greybeards words to me. Retrieve the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller, and then I would prove myself as the Dragonborn. I sighed, releasing a cloud of breath. I would do that. It would bring me back to my earlier days. A man not full of hatred or revenge. A man just wanting to get by. A man who wants a good life for himself and for Skyrim.

I nodded to myself, putting the map away. Tomorrow, Arrow and I would travel to Ustengrav, to where the Horn was.

The ride was relatively uneventful the next day, though long. I left Arrow to munch grass outside and I ensured my equipment was ready on my person.

Well now, isn't that a bit of luck? I quickly grabbed one of the bottles, downing it to calm my nerves. I felt faster and stronger, and headed into the crypt with a renewed sense of confidence.

Bandits were dead inside, as though they had been killed recently by a mage, judging by a giant ice spike sticking through one of them.

Up ahead, two Draugr were attacking a Conjurer, but I was unable to save her in time. She went down fast under their weapons, but a few arrows later, they were dead at my feat.

The chasms inside were amazing to see, the light shining in from who knows where. I thought everything was underground, but, somehow, the light made it in.

Precarious pathways met me, and I spotted what looked to be another Word Wall. I could hear the faint chanting from up here, and, though still hesitant about walking up to chanting walls, I knew that by learning the words, it would serve me well in defense.

With my understanding of the word, though, I didn't want to use it straight away without asking the Greybeards about it. I didn't want to become a ghost the rest of my life.

A strange puzzle soon lay before me, and I looked at it a few times before I figured out what to do. Each of the stone pillars in the middle lit up when you passed them, opening a gate beyond. With good timing, I figured I could use my Shout that caused me to move quickly and get through before they closed.

I was right! I made it through unscathed!

An ominous passageway lay before me, and I crept forward silently, axe at the ready.

In the next room, statues rose up out of the water, and I put my axe away, awed by the sight.

My footsteps echoed slightly as I walked closer to the pedestal where the horn would lay. I must have been the first person since the last Dragonborn to be in this room. The history weighed down on me and I kept glancing around, feeling strange to be here.

As I got closer, I squinted, not seeing a horn anywhere. I walked up, brushing past the burial urns at the base of the elaborate carving.

A...note? I frowned, reaching out to pluck it from the stone hand carving.


So much for the test of the Dragonborn if a person who ISN'T the Dragonborn can get through what I just got through!

Blast it. I angrily crumpled the note, stuffing it into my pack. A swift kick later, and a skeleton head went flying across the room into the pool of water, a small splash echoing through the otherwise silent chamber.

What does it mean to be Dragonborn? I sat down on the nearby steps and put my head in my hands. Does it mean dealing with this sort of thing? Being shuffled from place to place without any sort of thought as to what I was doing? To be dragged here to there doing deeds for people? No chance to live my own life?

I wanted no part of that. None whatsoever. The Greybeards could sod off. They can deal with this dragon problem on their own.

I drew out my map again and shuffled through it's pages. There. I would get away from Skyrim and this utter nonsense. I would find my own way, in a new area.

Falskaar, here I come.

Part 26 ----- Part 28 (coming soon)


Just letting everyone know, that I'm getting towards the end of my coursework, so the updates will be a bit slow from here on. Apologies to those who are enjoying it, but, medical coding is a bit of a drain on the ol' brain sometimes. So, an adventure awaits Markus, and he's really rather tired of all the Dragonborn nonsense he's been put through. He needs a break, and Falskaar might be the very place to go.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Part 26: Civil War

The next day I went to see the Jarl. I still had to get an answer about the axe.

"Due to the sidetracking, he has been waiting for a little while for this message." I mention politely.

Jarl Balgruuf paused for a few moments, and I could see him thinking. "I suppose it is time I give him an answer..." He turned to his Steward. "Proventus, what do you make of all this? If Ulfric were to attack Whiterun..."

Proventus Avenicci bowed slightly. "As in all things, I urge caution. Wait and see."

The Jarl sighed. "I feel as though only prey would wait for something to happen. It's time to act."

His Steward looked shocked. "You plan to march on Windhelm?"

The Jarl gave him a strange look. "I'm not a fool. I mean it's time for Ulfric to face me as a man, or march his Stormcloaks up to the gates. I am not like the High King Torygg, may he rest in peace. If Ulfric wants to challenge my rule in the old way, let him. Though, I suspect he'll send his 'Stormcloaks' to do it for him."

I bristled at the insult, refraining from making any biting remarks. I was no Stormcloak, but I was no lover of Imperials as well. Any insult to my Nord brothers I took as an insult to myself.

Irileth then spoke up. "Ulfric has made it clear. To refuse his claim is to side with the Empire."

Avenicci held up a hand. "I still feel we should wait. See if Ulfric is serious."

The Jarl slammed a fist on the throne. "Oh, he is serious. But so am I." He stood up abruptly, thrusting the axe in my direction, and I caught the handle deftly. "Return this axe. The esteemed Jarl of Windhelm has my answer. Make sure he gets it."

I look him in the eye and nod. "I'm afraid this will be the last time we shall be on speaking terms, Jarl Balgruuf."

He got my meaning, frowning. "Go then, Nord."

It was dark when I arrived, but there was no time to waste sleeping, though I was tired and chilled to the bone.

Ulfric turned to Galmar. "You were right."

"Again?" Galmar said, an eyebrow raising.

"I'm in no mood to joke." Ulfric said rising up to lean over the map in the middle of the room.

I spoke up. "Give the word, and we will go in there and take out the Imperials, my Jarl. Whiterun could be yours."

Ulfric shook his head. "Whiterun is only a means to an end."

"I've toured our camps," Galmar stated. "We are ready, Ulfric. Whenever you are."

Ulfric folded his arms. "Is any man ready to give the order that will mean the deaths of many?"

I gritted my teeth, slamming a fist onto the table, causing the others to jump. "No! But a man must be ready to give that order when he must! Those Imperial bastards have been getting away with things for too long! Now is the time to strike!" I motion towards Galmar. "These men and women under you call themselves Stormcloaks because they believe in you. I admit that I am a neutral party in all this, though I wish death upon the Imperials who killed my wife. If being in your army gives me that pleasure, then so be it. But these men believe in you. Do not deny them their revenge for the land."

Galmar joined in. "Those men out there are the meanest, toughest sons of bitches Skyrim has to offer. And they want this. More than you do, more than likely."

"Whiterun's army will no doubt be bolstered with Legionnares." Ulfric pointed out. "And those walls around Whiterun are old, but they still stand. Are you certain we're ready?"

Galmar stood straighter. "We are ready."

"Alright." Ulfric turned to me. "This is it. A new day is dawning and the sun rises over Whiterun. Markus, make haste to our camp in Whiterun. I want you on the front lines. You'll have your chance to take out as many Imperials as you want."

I nodded sharply. "Many will die by my hand."

"Aye, I can see that." Ulfric clapped my arm in a handshake. "Fight well, or die well. Talos be with you."

"And Kyne be with you." I wished him back.

I spent the night outside in my tent with a large roaring fire and soup to feed my rumbling belly. Then, saddling up Arrow, we headed off for Whiterun.

Passing the river, I heard what sounded like a large cry, similar to the dragon's cry I fought at the watchtower, and I drew up Arrow short. He stamped his feet nervously as I waited and watched, listening for the noise again.

The clouds parted in the skies, and I saw it. A huge dragon flying around in a circle, as if searching for something. My stomach did a flip and I immediately kicked Arrow forward, breaking into a gallop.

But then, ahead of me, I saw something that enraged me.

That's fucking it. I'm killing them. I warned them not to mess with women traveling, and here they are, messing with women. Their heads are mine.

I leaped off of Arrow and saw their eyes go wide in recognition at me. They attempted to run, but with two fell swoops of my axe, they fell dead upon the ground. I looked at the woman standing there.

"You okay?"

She nodded, looking at my axe fearfully.

"Don't worry, these guys have been a thorn in my side for a while now. They won't harass anymore women any longer.

Finally, Whiterun came into view.

I heard a huge explosion ahead of me, and Arrow startled slightly. I halted, scanning the skies.

A huge fireball launched from Whiterun and exploded on the ground, causing the area to rumble under the horse's hooves.

I left Arrow at a nearby farmhouse, hoping he would stay safe from the assault. I manned the catapults as Galmar did a speech, which I didn't much pay attention to. Something about the liberation of Skyrim and all that. I was just ready to knock some Imperial heads in.

Getting closer to Whiterun, the fireballs got bigger and almost burned me passing by. My heart leaped at the thought of getting hit by one of those and I hurried onward, my Stormcloak companion asking me a strange question, which I subsequently ignored.

Glad I had so much practice hunting.

I swung my axe with all my strength, thinking of Lydia as I struck down Imperial after Imperial. Anger grew within me and I led the front line, yelling as I went.

Inside the city, total panic was over the people, and a few children darted into the streets in front of me. I shoved them out of the way, telling them to get inside somewhere, as I didn't want them to get hurt. My problem was with the Imperials, not the children.

The city was easily gone through, and I felt a little bad having to cut down some of the Whiterun guards, as I recognized some of them in my travels through the city before. We had reached the Jarl though.

He surrendered quickly, and I put away my axe, honoring his surrender.

The men around us fell to a more relaxed position, but we were all still wary of each other.

"The Imperials are nothing but lying, murderous bastards!" I spat out. Jarl Belgruuf looked at me, astonished. I thrust the note I had been carrying for so long at him. The note that said to kill Ysolda. "She was my wife, and they murdered her."

Belgruuf held the note, reading it. He looked up at me, sorrow filling his eyes. "I am sorry, Markus. I heard of her death, but did not realize it was by Imperial demands." He handed the note back to me. "If it helps, compensation will be given to you."

I gritted my teeth, temptation to use my new-found powers rising. "I don't want any of your damn gold! My wife was not a horse that was killed and must be paid for in compensation! The only thing that will come of her death is the death of Imperials!"

The Jarl stepped forward, pointing towards the front doors. "How many of those corpses lining our streets were the men who killed your wife? What about their families?"

I was taken aback slightly. A silence fell over the room and the Jarl looked at me, as if awaiting an answer. I shook my head, whispering. "Someone...someone had to pay."

Galmar stepped forward then. "We did not attack Whiterun for Markus, he was here on his own accord. We attacked because we want Skyrim back. We should be fighting the Thalmor, not bending knee to them. The Empire is nothing more than a puppet of the Thalmor. Skyrim needs a High King who can fight for her, and Whiterun needs a Jarl who will do the same. There is a burning city out there who needs a government. And we will restore order."

As he turned to leave, Balgruuf called out. "This isn't over! You hear me old fool! This isn't over!" Then, he turned to me with anger in his eyes. "Markus, you, a Stormcloak? I'd thought better of you. I'd hoped it wasn't true. You'll come to regret this day." He pointed a finger at me, and I turned away, leaving him to rule the crumbling walls of his palace.

Trudging back towards where I had put Arrow, the smells of blood and soot filled the air. The grey skies started rumbling, and I put my cloak around me tighter. I would have to stay at Riverwood's inn tonight.

I had alot of thinking to do.

Part 25 ----- Part 27

Monday, October 13, 2014

Part 25: Lessons of Old

Today, we're heading out to Ivarstead, where the start of the 7,000 step climb is. We've a good journey ahead of us, so keep up Lydia. No, I don't have a horse for you, deal.

Some bandits give us the jump at the large watchtower, and Lydia seems to be a pretty good shot with a bow. I dig through the pockets, and come up with only a small amount of gold, but they do have health potions in their base, which is a welcome addition to my pack.

What a stupid man.

After a while of travelling, we come across a man who is laying on the side of the road. I hop down off of Arrow and lean down to him.

"Are you ok?"

He winced, holding his side. "Bandits attacked and raided my cart. Can you help me?"

I looked around. "What can I do for you?"

"My camp is nearby in the ruins of Nilheim. Get me there safely, and you'll be rewarded."

I nod, helping him up. We travel only a short way off a side road, and I wonder why he needed the help at all for such a short distance.

"Wait here, I'll be back with your reward." The man ran off and I stood by Arrow, smoothing out his mane. Lydia stretched nearby, sighing.

Suddenly, the men in the camp ran at us with weapons drawn! I quickly drew my axe and defended myself, Lydia yelling at me to watch out. I spun to the side, narrowly avoiding a sword blow to the head.

The man we had escorted up the mountain was shooting arrows towards me and Lydia, but thankfully, he was a horrible shot, and I was able to run right up on him.

After the battle, I searched a few nearby chests and took some gold coins. After all, they were bandits, and I can donate this to a temple for good use.

Ivarstead came into view and I sighed in relief as I trotted Arrow over the stone bridge. I stable him in a nearby closed off farmland, and go and speak with the locals, trying to learn more about the Greybeards.

They aren't entirely helpful, mainly talking about how everyone only comes to Ivarstead to get to High Hrothgar.

Level up and skill pick time!

I rent a room for Lydia and me and we both fall asleep quickly.

I awoke early the next morning, and as I went to cross the bridge towards the mountain steps, I overheard a conversation about a delivery. I'm good at deliveries, so I hop off Arrow to speak with the man.

"What sort of goods are you delivering today?" I ask.

The man, named Klimmek I heard from his friend calling him that, shrugged. "Mostly food supplies like dried fish and salted meats; you know, things that keep fresh a long time. The Greybeards tend to not get out much, if you get my meaning."

"I could deliver the supplies for you," I offered. "I'm heading there right now, and it wouldn't be any trouble."

Klimmek brightened. "Really? That would be kind of you, my old legs aren't what they used to be." He handed me a bag. "At the top of the mountain there is an empty chest they always have us put the supplies in. Do that, and I'll give you a little something for my appreciation."

I take the bag from him and nod. "No problem, I'll be glad to help you out."

And with that, we were on our way.

The mountain path started fairly easy, sloping gently up. I decided to leave Arrow at the bottom of the steps though, as I didn't want to expose the poor horse to the danger of the pathways. Plus, I was worried he might misstep and fall to his death.

Walking up, Lydia following behind, I came across strange pedestals with writing on them.

Looks like they told some sort of history.

I came across another man who was praying at the alter, and I tried not to bother him as I read the next tablet.

Emblem II

Men were born and spread over the face of

The Dragons presided over the crawling masses

Men were weak then, and had no Voice

A snowstorm started kicking into high gear and I was attacked by a huge sabre cat. I managed to shove it down the mountain though, effectively killing it.

Goat, what are you doing way up here?

Emblem III

The fledgling spirits of Men were strong in Old

Unafraid to war with Dragons and their Voices

But the Dragons only shouted them down and
broke their hearts

Emblem IV

Kyne called on Paarthurnax, who pitied Man

Together they taught Men to use the Voice

Then Dragon War raged, Dragon against Tongue

I paused, looking at this. Kyne had helped with the Voice? Maybe that's why I felt such a connection with nature and with Kynareth.

I rub my arms, shivering slightly. I am feeling not-so-warm now.

Emblem V

Man prevailed, shouting Alduin out of the world

Proving for all that their Voice too was strong

Although their sacrifices were many-fold

Emblem VI

With roaring Tongues, the Sky-Children conquer

Founding the First Empire with Sword and Voice

Whilst the Dragons withdrew from this World

Emblem VII

The Tongues at Red Mountain went away humbled

Jurgen Windcaller began His Seven Year

To understand how Strong Voices could fail

Emblem VIII

Jurgen Windcaller chose silence and returned

The 17 disputants could not shout Him down

Jurgen the Calm built His home on the Throat of
the World

Emblem IX

For years all silent, the Greybeards spoke one name

Tiber Septim, stripling then, was summoned to Hrothgar

They blessed and named him Dohvakiin

Emblem X

The Voice is worship

Follow the Inner path

Speak only in True Need

I squinted through the snow, seeing a large structure form in front of me.

This had to be it! High Hrothgar!

I quickly put the supplies in the nearby chest and scrambled up the steps towards the front door. With a heavy push, the door opened and we hurried inside to get out of the whirling snowstorm.

When I turned around, I saw old men in robes approaching us, and I took a deep breath, stepping forward.

"So...a Dragonborn appears; at this moment in the turning of the age." One of the robed men spoke, his voice strong and with no hesitation. "My name is Arngeir. Why have you come here?"

I blinked. "You summoned me, didn't you? I want to find out what it means to be this so-called Dragonborn, and why you think I am one, and why I should care." I frowned, folding my arms across my chest.

Arngeir nodded slowly. "We are here to guide you in that pursuit, just as the Greybeards have sought to guide those of the Dragon Blood that came before you. So, show us of your gift."

I looked around at the other men, and they nodded. I raised an eyebrow. "Show you My Shout?"

"Yes, Dragonborn."

I turned away from them and set my feet firmly on the ground, bracing myself. I felt the deep magic within me rise up and I Shouted, the loud cry echoing around the large chamber. The Greybeards all murmured their surprise at it, and Arngeir folded his hands into his huge sleeves, smiling.

"So, it is you. Welcome to High Hrothgar." He motioned to the rest of them. "I speak for all the Greybeards. We will guide you in your destiny."

"D-destiny?" I stammer, looking around at them in disbelief. "This power I have, what can it be used for, other than to fight? How could you possibly know what my destiny is?"

Arngeir shook his head. "We do not know it. That is for you to discover. We can show you the Way, but not your destination."

I rubbed my eyes. "That really doesn't make any sense. How can you guide me in my destiny if you don't know what it is? I control my own destiny, Greybeard." I grit my teeth, angry.

"You have shown that you are Dragonborn. You have the inborn gift." He lowered his voice, a hint of a laugh underneath his next words. "But, do you have the discipline and temperament to follow the path laid out before you? That remains to be seen."

I blinked, slightly offended. "Look, you don't even know who I am. How do you know I won't use such a gift for evil, or personal gain?"

"We cannot know. We can merely guide you on the correct usage of your Shout, and then hope that you follow the old teachings. Without training, you have already taken the first steps towards projecting your voice into a Thu'um, or Shout. Let us see if you are able to learn more."

I narrowed my eyes. "Fine. What do you want to teach me?"

"When you Shout," Arngeir began, his voice becoming authoritative in tone. "you speak in the language of dragons. Thus, your Dragon Blood gives you an inborn ability to learn Words of Power. All Shouts are made up of three Words of Power. As you master each Word, your Shout will become progressively stronger

Arngeir stepped to the side, pointing to one of the other men waiting nearby. "Master Einarth will now teach you 'Ro', the second Word in Unrelenting Force, what you were able to show us before. Ro means 'balance' in the dragon tongue. Combine it with 'Fus'--force--to focus your Thu'um more sharply."

Master Einarth walked up into the middle of the room and a word appeared in fiery lettering. I stared at it a moment, and then felt a rush of knowledge, similar to the one I felt before go through me. I felt like I had know the word all along.

Arngeir stepped back. "You learn a new word like a truly do have the gift."

"Could I have possibly been faking before this?" I pointed out to him.

"No, I suppose not. But learning a Word of Power is only the first must unlock its meaning through constant practice in order to us it in a Shout. At least, that is how the rest of us use Shouts. As Dragonborn, you can absorb a slain dragon's life force and knowledge directly, like what you did with the dragon at the watchtower. Let us see how quickly you can master your new Thu'um."

I followed the group outside, and I told Lydia to stay indoors.

Wish I could stay indoors too.

Another word appeared in front of me, and I looked at it, feeling the familiar knowledge pervading my mind.

Arngeir patted my shoulder fondly. "Your quick mastery of a new Thu'um is...astonishing. I'd heard the stories of the abilities of Dragonborn, but to see it for myself..."

"What am I to do with this gift? I don't even know how I do it, it just happens."

Arngeir shook his head at my questions. "You were given this gift by the gods for a reason. It is up to you to figure out how best to use it."

After the lessons, I meditated in the halls to Kynareth, hoping that I would be led down a proper path. I knew that I wanted to find revenge for my wife, and I felt that using this power for that would go against what the gods had intended for me. So, I would stick to regular means, and only use it in self-defense.

Finally, Lydia and I set out back down to Ivarstead. It was an easier journey going down, for sure.

I met back up with Klimmek and let him know that I had delivered the supplies. He gave me a fair reward of gold, and I was very pleased by that.

Suddenly, two men in strange masks came up on me, and after confirming that yes, I was the one they called Dragonborn, started attacking me! I didn't have much of a problem dispatching them, as one of the guards helped me out.

Great, just great. I've got a hit out on me. See, this is what happens when you get involved in things greater than yourself. You get killed. Or even worse--maimed.

I stuffed the note in my pack, hoping to be able to ignore it, but just in case I ever made it to Solstheim, I would be wary.

One long day later, I made it back to Whiterun, exhausted. I needed to speak with the Jarl in the morning to talk with him about the message and the axe.

Lydia, you were useful, but I need to let you go. I work better on your own, and I really don't want to be responsible for your life. Go be housecarl to someone else.

After she left, I fell into a restful sleep, ready for this day to be over with.

Part 24 ----- Part 26