AN: As some of you have pointed out, though you also enjoyed it, the battle Tarrin fought seemed fairly overpowered, though remember that his armor and weapon have an enchantment on them, explaining his speed, but the main thing that I would like to point out is that Tarrin, in the previous chapter, had gone berserk. He felt no pain, heard no sound, all he cared about was swinging his sword, and how he would kill his enemies.
4: Winter Comes
"Has he not woken yet?" Balgruuf asked as he strode into the room where Tarrin lay. Lydia raised her head from her book as she looked up at he Jarl.
"No, my Jarl," she said sadly, shaking her head, "Not a movement in these last three days."
The Jarl nodded, sighing, "Take heart, child. After all, he has been through a lot. From what I've heard, that wasn't his first run-in with the Imperials and the Thalmor." At the mention of the elves, Blood-fang, who had curled up at Lydia's feet raised his head and growled. The Jarl shook his head at the beast. "Bite me and I'll be biting you right back, Wolf." The young ice wolf snorted, and placed his large head back on his paws.
Lydia smiled, "He's a good beast," she said, reaching down to pet him, making him whine appreciatively, "I've never seen such a tame wolf, let alone an ice wolf...I hope I can ask this boy how he got him."
The Jarl smiled as the girl turned her attention back to the boy. Ever since they had brought the boy in, the young shield maiden had barely left his side. Irileth teased the girl mercilessly, of course, but that mattered little to anyone anymore. Many had their eye on the girl, but she had turned her nose up at each and every suitor that had come to call.
Now it seemed that the young warrior had caught her eye. Balgruuf was looking forward to seeing the two interact when he woke. "He will be fine, Lydia. After so many wounds inflicted, he should have died long before we got to him, but he didn't. The gods must have something in mind for this boy, and something great."
Lydia nodded, smiling as Tarrin mumbled something in his sleep, "Farkas said he had the smell of a beast...what do you think he meant by that?"
The Jarl shrugged, "Who knows, really. The Companions have always relied on their bestial senses to decide on a person's character, so perhaps they'll ask this lad to join them when he - "
"They won't make him a werewolf, will they?!" Lydia gasped, the book slipping from her hands.
"Not so loud, lassie!" Balgruuf hushed her, "Not everyone knows about them!"
"S-sorry," the girl calmed herself, "It's just...my parents..."
"Ah, I know, child, I know," the Jarl nodded, "But that beast what done it was wild and not in control of itself. Not all lycans are like that. Farkas and Vilkas are perfect examples."
"Yes, but - "
"Lydia, child, just have a little faith in the Divines," he smiled, reaching out to place his hand on her shoulder, "When he wakes, and he will, we'll just have to wait and see what he decides. In the meantime, Irileth wants to talk to you about something. You'd best get going. You know how she gets when she's kept waiting."
Lydia giggled at the mention of her surrogate mother's temper. In the years she had known her, Irileth's temper had become as legendary as her loyalty to the Jarl. "Do you happen to know what she wanted?"
"No idea," he smiled, turning from the room, "That's for you to find out."
Huffing, Lydia picked up her book from the floor and placed it on the end table next to the bed. Blood-fang looked up at her in interest as he watched her go, turning back to the wolf with a small smile, "Keep an eye on him." She said, receiving a yip for her words.
Smiling at the beast, she turned and left the room, hurrying through the hall to find Irileth.
"And you're sure the scent was the same?" Irileth asked, facing the two Companions, Farkas and Vilkas, "There's no mistake?"
"No," Farkas answered with his brother's accompanying nod, "The scent is that of a lycan, but it's faint, like an old scent, yet he smells so strongly of one of us that it's no question what he is."
Irileth sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose, "Lydia is not going to like this...she's terrified of werewolves."
"We know," Vilkas said, "But, unlike my brother, I think the boy is mortal, someone in his family may have been a lycan, but that doesn't mean he is."
Farkas turned to him with his brow raised, "The scent was in his blood, Vilkas, how can you deny it?"
"Easy," Vilkas said, "The whelp's father may have been a lycan, meaning that he may or may not change. You know most younglings change around fifteen, and the boy looks to be the proper age."
"That's if his father was blooded," Farkas pointed out, "If he was bitten - "
"Don't be ridiculous," Vikas snapped, "Skyrim wolves don't turn people by biting!"
"The boy's from Cyrodil," Farkas said, "Or did you mis-hear that soldier that was reading him his rights the other day?"
"Oh..." Vilkas hung his head, "That could be a problem. You know how savage those things can be."
Farkas shrugged, "Not always. A few can control their change, and so could this boy for that matter if he's lasted this long without changing."
"Excuse me," Irileth interrupted them, catching their attention once again, "What's the difference? A lycan is a lycan, isn't it?"
"No," both brothers said before Farkas stepped in again, "Werewolves in Cyrodil are mostly savage beasts not able to change at will, and coming out in the moon light. They can be cured with a simple potion made from wolfsbane and lavender, both deadly poisonous plants, but to a werewolf like that, it cures the disease. We," he gestured to himself and his brother, "Received our beasts from Hircine. No cure exists for us that we know of."
"Can you make this potion if he starts to change?" Irileth asked, "If he's savage, then we'll need a way to stop him if he changes."
"I know how," Vikas said, "We were both looking to cure ourselves, but the potion didn't work for us."
"Thank you," Irilet smiled, a rare sight, and sighed, "Now I must tell Lydia, she'll need to know."
"You really think that's wise?" Farkas asked, "She seems attached."
"That's why she needs to know," Irileth sighed, "It's wonderful to see her taking an interest in a man, but she may not take to him after this."
Vilkas tilted his head, "You don't have to tell her...she's just finished listening to us."
Irileth whipped around, only to see the retreating figure of Lydia running back into the hold. The Dunmer sighed, "Damn that girl...I taught her too well to move silently."
The brothers sighed as well, but kept their peace. What would happen would happen. In the meantime, they had a potion to brew...or attempt to brew.
Outside the walls of Whiterun, two guards stood bored as the day wore on, one of them yawning inside his helmet. "Blast it all, it's boring today," the man said, "To think that just three days ago, we had a full scale battle in the plains."
"Aye," said his companion, "That lad was a valiant fighter, think he'll survive?"
"Don't know," he said, "but I hope he does. A man like that, even a boy, doesn't come along very often."
"Wonder what he did to piss of the Empire, though?" Asked his companion, "Not everyday that a whole legion is sent after a single boy."
"Not sure," said the first, "Probably has something to do with the war. Lucky for the boy that Whiterun is neutral in the fighting."
His friend nodded, then looked out across the field, spotting something moving. "Uh-oh."
"Looks like a platoon of horses," the first said, lifting his helmet off, "Ten...no, fourteen armed men, and one man out in front...Ack, it's a Thalmor!"
"I'll go tell the Jarl!"
"Hurry up!" He yelled, "And tell the other guards on duty to get out here!"
"Right," his friend yelled.
"WHAT DID YOU SAY!?" Balgruuf roared, nearly deafening the entire hall.
"M-my Jarl," the guard said, "A group of Imperials p-plus a Thalmor elf are come toward the city!"
The Jarl growled, slamming his fist down on his throne, "They'll be after the boy, no doubt!" He rose from his seat, "Hrongar, you and two other guards head to the boy's room and keep watch over him. Irileth, muster the Companions and have them up here on the double! Where is Lydia!?"
"I haven't seen her," Irileth sighed as she headed for the door, "She found something out about the boy that she didn't quite like."
"Wonderful," the Jarl growled, "Nelkir, Dagny, Frothar, to your rooms until I call for you!"
"But Father!" Dagny whined.
"Now!" The Jarl's roar sent the children scurrying off.
"What are we doing, My Lord?" Proventus Avenicci asked, "Do we turn him over?"
"No," Balgruuf growled, "I may not agree with the Stormcloaks, but I will not be handing that boy over to a Thalmor!"
"But - "
The doors burst open as Farkas, Vilkas, Aela, and Kodlak Whitemane strode in with Irileth right behind them. "The guards are leading the Imperials up the streets as we speak." She informed him.
"Alright, then," Balgruuf said, "Companions, I want you acting as my guards until this is settled, Irileth, you, too. Dark elves make Thalmor nervous."
"As we should," Irileth said smugly.
"Are they really after the boy?" Kodlak asked, "From what the twins tell me, he may be one of us."
"I hope he is," Aela smiled, "We could use some new blood."
"There will be blood alright," Farkas said, "But only if they try to hurt the lad."
"No one says anything to them about the boy," Balgruuf ordered, "If they ask, ignore them. If they persist, draw your swords. We will send them down the walls!"
"Sir!" The four Companions saluted, smiling along with Irileth, who rarely smiled at all. The Jarl smiled, and returned to his throne, "All of you, today I take a side in the war...and the side I take depends on the boy...I'll not ask any of you to follow me after this if my path deviates from your's."
Irileth stepped forward, "I've been at your side for years, old friend, not matter what you choose, I'm staying right here."
"As will we," Kodlak stated, "The Companions will fight for Whiterun and her Jarl."
Balgruuf smiled closing his eyes so that no one would see the tears in his eyes, "Thank you, all of you."
Hrongar and the two selected guards rounded the corner to Tarrin's room, and found Lydia leaning against the door, her arms crossed over her chest with Blood-fang looking up at her.
"So this is where you got off to?" The man asked, "We've been looking for you, Lydia."
The girl looked up at them, "I'm sorry, sir, I just had a lot to think about."
"Concerning the boy?" Hrongar asked, receiving a nod, "Look, lass, I know how you feel about werewolves, but there's a chance the lad's just that, a lad that needs a bit o' care."
"But I heard Vilkas and Farkas talking to Irileth," Lydia said quietly, "Both of them seemed so sure..."
"And that he could be cured," Hrongar said, smiling, "Not many werewolves get that sort of relief." He let this sink in, seeing the girl's face brighten, "Now, get in there, the both of you," he said, looking down at the wolf, "The Thalmor have come calling. If things turn into a fight, we'll be needed to keep the boy safe."
"The Thalmor..." Lydia murmured, "Surely they wouldn't attack a Jarl in his own city?"
"Don't know about that," one of the guards said, "Them high elves are pretty nasty, and that's saying something after being around lady Irileth for so long, and we all know how mean she can get when there's a fight to be won."
Lydia huffed, but conceded the point about her mother figure. Irileth had the temper of a dragon.
The small legion of Imperials marched into the hall with the black clad Thalmor in the lead, each one armed to the teeth, ready to fight if the need arose. The Jarl looked on in disdain as the men came into his hall, the sneering elf man holding his attention. His mighty battle ax rested at his side, just a breath away if things turned ugly.
At his side stood the companions, the four of them growling like beasts, their wolves ready for blood.
"Jarl Balgruuf," the Thalmor said in a jeering voice that he did not miss, "Lord and master of Whiterun, I come in search of a criminal guilty of crimes against the Empire. We have reason to believe that he resides here in Dragonsreach."
Balgruuf smiled, "I know not of what you speak," he said, "None in my halls or my fair city are criminals, and this criminal has no place in this hold."
The elf sneered, "Forgive me, My Lord, but I do not believe that. My sources say that you carried an injured young man matching his visage into the keep...now stop hiding him and hand him over!"
"The man your sources say we carried here," Balgruuf growled, growing angry, "Was my bastard son."
"What?!" The Thalmor screeched. If the faces of Irileth, or the Companions showed any shock at the Jarl's statement, they hid it well. Balgruuf's claim had just insured the boy's safety, but had all but destroyed his reputation.
"You truly expect me to believe that? There were no reports of child of your's born from anyone other than your wife!" The Thalmor roared, "And there was certainly no reports of a bastard!"
"So you've been keeping tabs on me?" The Jarl sneered, and rose up from his throne, taking his ax in hand, "First you come here unannounced, demanding my son, and have the audacity to call me a liar," his growl intimidated the soldiers surrounding the elf, and caused all of them to back away from the Jarl as he began to advance, "Now, you tell me that you have been spying on me? Tell me, why should I allow any of you to leave here alive!"
The Thalmor paled, "Y-you wouldn't dare! I am an agent of the Empire! My superiors would have your head on a pike!"
"Is that a threat?" Irileth asked tonelessly, narrowing her deep red eyes, "My Jarl, perhaps you should let our Companions deal with these rude people...we wouldn't want to dirty your hands now, would we?"
At this, Aela stepped forward, smiling with a feral glee, her teeth sharpening into fangs. The Imperials gasped muttered the word, werewolf, among themselves, even the high elf seemed taken by surprise by the revelation. "You keep werewolves as guards?!"
"These people," Balgruuf said, stressing the word, "Are more trust worthy than any man or woman I know besides my personal housecarl, Irileth. You would do well to remember that trust in Skyrim is a large issue...and I have no trust for you, elf!"
"How dare you?!" The Thalmor roared, "If you do not had this boy over, then you shall be branded a rebel along with that king-slayer, Ulfric!"
"Even though the walls of Whiterun are neutral in the war," Jarl Balgruuf growled, "You would come into her halls, and brand me a traitor just for one child?" He shook his head, "So be it." He looked the Thalmor in the eyes, "Leave my city, and never return. If you do, I shall set my wolves upon the Imperial legions." He let the threat hang in the air, much to the Imperials' horror.
Yes, a legion of Imperials could take on a city, but not a group of werewolves. They had no prayer against them, that and they knew not how many of the beasts lived in the city. The Thalmor agent looked at the men and one woman. Each in turn looked strong, and dangerous even while human, if they changed...
"Fine," he growled, "We will withdraw...for now. But do not think this is the end of it, Jarl of Whiterun. You have made the Empire your enemy, and you shall suffer the consequences. You walls will crumble, and your hold will burn by our hands!"
"And you shall see just how much Whiterun's walls can take," Balgruuf growled, "This city once held a dragon captive, and you think that a simple army can bring it down, when a dragon could not? Ha! I shudder to think how many widows and orphans this battle of yours will bring when your men crash against my our walls like waves upon the sand!"
"Crash the will," the elf smirked, before whirling away with the soldiers right behind him, "And you shall know the might of the Empire!"
As the doors of Dragonsreach crashed close, Balgruuf staggered back to his throne, exhausted. "By the Divines, that was a chore!"
"Fun though," Farkas smirked, "I think one of those soldiers soiled himself when Aela grinned at him."
"I have that effect on most men that don't know how to handle a real woman," Aela said, proudly thumping her chest plate.
"That was a well planned idea, though," Irileth smiled, "Congratulations, old friend, you're now the proud father of an outlaw."
"Oh, button up you old biddy," Balgruuf growled, drawing a laugh from his guards, "We have a lot more planning to do. The farmers have been complaining about chills, and that means we're in for an early winter...this gives us time to prepare for this war." He looked at Irileth, "Send a message to the Jarl of Windhelm, and tell him we will support him, and ask him for soldiers." He turned his gaze to Kodlak, "My friend, I know you dislike your other self, but I need you to find candidates to bring into the circle," Kodlak raised his brow, "I know, I know, but we may need your men, and that includes the wolves of Jorrvaskr."
The old man sighed, "I will have to think on this, my friend, turning I'm against, but perhaps we could find a few wild ones that are more...talkative?"
"That will be fine," the Jarl smiled, "Whatever makes you more comfortable. I've heard there may be a werewolf jailed in Falkreath, see if he's there and if he is, buy him from the Jarl."
"As you wish," Kodlak said, "Aela, see to it, and Farkas, Vilkas, you two will go hunting for new blood."
"And a mate," Vilkas grinned, mirrored by his brother, making the Harbinger groan as the two set off.
"That leaves myself and Skjor to defend if the Imperials get bold," Kodlak went on, "But I worry that they might employ the Silver Hand since they know what we are now."
"Do not worry about that," the Jarl said, "I intend to triple the guard before winter comes to insure our city's safety. Not even a dragon will attack us if it values it's life."
"Do not speak of dragons," Irileth sighed, "It's bad enough that one attacked Helgen and escaped, but what if there are more?"
"Hmph," Balgruuf smiled, "I would actually welcome the dragons' return. It's been too long since we Nords have had a real fight on our hands, and far too long since the wonders of that ages have been destroyed...I haven't seen a Daedroth in a...who am I kidding? I've never seen one!"
"A monster with all the same attributes as a dragons except that it can't fly..." Irileth sighed, "Alright, I admit it, even if it's mostly monsters that have gone from the world, I would say that things have changed too much. I haven't seen a Nereid since I came to Skyrim."
Balgruuf chuckled, "Then let these dragons return and spread their magic over the world once more," he said, "If they attack us, then they will not find the frightened sheep we once were in the last age."
"The time of heroes," she smiled, "that doesn't sound so bad. Planning on making a name for yourself?"
"No, no," Balgruuf chuckled, "I'm getting too old for his adventuring thing."
"That is true, but back to the subject at hand," Irileth said, "What will we do when winter comes? The snow will be as deep as a giant is tall."
"Simple, call in all the farmers and have them store their crops for the city to use, then pay them accordingly. Make sure everyone is fed, and hope that no one gets a case of cabin fever in the next six months."
Tarrin opened his eyes, if only for a moment, looking around him. He was lying in a bed of soft, woolen blankets, and by the gods he was warm! He felt a movement on his left side, and saw the familiar furry face looking at him. "Fang?"
The wolf gave a happy yip, and licked his face. "Ack, down, boy," Tarrin chuckled weakly, shoving the wolf off him.
A door opened, startling him, and a young woman walked in with a Dunmer behind her, but it was the girl that held his attention. She was around his age, he guessed, with fair skin, and red-brown hair, and warm brown eyes. She was also dressed in steel armor like he had been. Her face lit up as she saw him.
The plains of Skyrim, covered with evergreen and hardy plant life, began to change. The wind picked up and whipped across the plains, a bitter chill coming with it. The sky above grew cloudy as snow clouds gathered, their first drops of snow falling across the land, beginning the long, deadly winter of Skyrim. Inside the palace of Dragonsreach, a small white ice wolf poked his head out the window, letting out a mournful howl as the snow began to fall, answered by his brethren.
As the snow continued to fall, the beasts of winter began to stir across the land. From the mountains came the white snow bears, and sabre cats. From the forests came the wolves, and their larger cousins the ice wolves, along with the monstrous frostbite spiders. Further North, the howl of the massive frost giants echoed throughout the land. The cold called to them, telling them that their time to rule the land had come again. For half a year, the land would belong to the beasts that called ice and snow home.
No man or elf dared the wilds in the months of winter for fear of falling victim to these beasts, but none were as feared as the cold itself. With little food to be found in the wilds, the cold season would take the lives of any that dared set foot in the snow.
Winter had come.
The Thalmor have made it clear that Tarrin is an enemy to them. Balgruuf has claimed him as an illegitimate son, earning the ire of the Empire, and siding himself with Ulfric Stormcloak. As Tarrin awakens, winter slips her icy veil over the land, changing the lush land into a white wasteland. As the war comes to a halt for winter, questions about the young man arise. Is the boy a werewolf as the Companions believe? And what will the Thalmor do to silence him?
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