12/11: Huzzah, I rewrote chapter 1. I didn't really change anything though, just kind of fixed the grammatical mistakes I had before.
AN: When I wrote this I wrote 15.000 words chapters and had two chapters in total. But uploading that would be absurd. No one wants to read a story with 15.000 word chapters that are only updated once every few months. I am quite new to uploading stories to this site so I apologise for anything wrong with the format. Let me know if there's anything wrong and I'll fix it (assuming I know how)
The rumbling uneven surface awoke the man sitting in the wagon. He had long black hair tied in a ponytail that hung all the way down to his waist. He furled his eyebrows as he observed his surroundings and realised his hands were bound. It was an unfortunate situation to be in.
"Hey you," the blond Nordic man sitting in front called out to him. "You're finally awake. You were trying to cross the border, right? Walked right into that imperial ambush just like me and that thief over there."
The man in question turned his head towards the man in rags.
He noticed that the nord was wearing armour. Light armour, hardly enough to protect one from attacks, but the blue across the centre possibly symbolised an allegiance to an army. He quickly focused his attention to the thief whom began speaking.
"Damn you, Stormcloaks! Skyrim was fine until you came along. Empire was nice and lazy. If they hadn't been looking for you, I could have stolen that horse and been halfway to Hammerfell. You there," the thief said turning to the long-haired man. "You and I, we shouldn't be here. It's these stormcloaks the empire wants."
He finished, snarling at the blond nord.
"We're all brothers and sisters in binds now, thief," the blond nord said calmly
"Shut up back there!" the carriage driver called out.
"What's his problem?" asked the thief completely ignoring the driver. To the right of the thief, there was another nord wearing a higher class armoured fur with his mouth gagged unlike all other prisoners.
"Watch your tongue!" the blond snapped. "You are speaking to Ulfric Stormcloak, the true high king."
"You. You're the leader of the rebellion," the thief's eyes widened in realisation. "If they've captured you—oh gods! Where are they taking us?"
"I don't know," replied the blond nord, his composure returning. "But Sovngarde awaits."
"No!" the thief panicked. "This can't be happening! This isn't happening."
"Does denying the truth make you feel better, thief?" The long-haired man finally spoke. The thief didn't reply. He merely buried his face in his hands wishing to wake up from this nightmare.
"Why are you upset? You want to be free…don't you?"
The thief didn't reply so they stayed in silence waiting for the gods to decide their fate. The blond nord decided to break the silence as they crossed a bridge.
"What village are you from, horse thief?"
"Why do you care?" the thief replied quickly still panicked, not without good reason.
"A nord's last thought should be of home."
"Rorikstead. I'm from Rorikstead."
"What about you, kinsman," the blond turned to the man in front of him.
He clicked his tongue as though deciding whether or not to answer.
"A northerner from the south...I'll never hear the end of that."
"Me, neither. I travelled near a year just to get killed. Good thing I didn't make any plans then..."
The wagons made their way into a city surrounded by stone walls. The sight gave the blond soldier a strong sense of nostalgia.
"Funny. When I was a boy, imperial walls and soldiers made me feel so safe." the soldier muttered.
"You are a not a boy anymore," came the reply from across of him. "Do you regret joining the rebellion?"
"Never," the soldier answered, his voice rising with confidence.
"Good," the once across from him nodded. "That's all the matters when you die."
"Why are we stopping?" asked the thief as the wagon came to a halt.
"What do you think? End of the line."
"Do not be afraid. Fear isn't going to save you."
A strong boot to her back sent the young girl crashing into the floor.
"CAN'T YOU DO ANYTHING RIGHT?" came an indignant voice from a large muscular man stretching out a whip in his hand as he approached. He did not scream, but his voice was still loud enough to boom through the empty mansion.
"I'm sorry," the young girl barely choked out.
The man put his right foot onto her head and pushed downward forcing out a small scream.
"I'm sorry… what?"
"I'm sorry, master," the young girl whispered with the last of her energy.
"Good." The man cracked his whip in the air. "Now stand up."
Many slaves of the imperial city were born into slavery and have never experienced freedom. How can there be slaves in the imperial city, though? Slavery was declared against the law long before. Well, the answer is simple. If there is one thing that is stronger than the law it would be wealth. However this girl was different from the others. She lived a normal life in the early days and used that to keep her going. She had hopes for the future, and hope is the first step to change. Her body held together by her soul, she continued on living her life in chains, for she knew that one day she would break free. She had been planning that day for months.
Today was that day.
Everything went according to plan. She provoked the master enough for him to lose his concentration due to emotions of anger and contempt. This caused her ongoing pain that was so agonising she could hardly think, but the provocation led to the result of being thrown into her cage with two keys now in the girl's possession.
Finally! After all this time, the young girl thought as she held the keys in her hand like the most precious gems in the world. But, then again, what are pretty rocks for a chance of freedom. If these are the wrong keys, I'm going to kill myself.
She fumbled with the lock until managing to open it. Quietly crawling out of the room towards the back door and cleaning up the drips of blood she leaves with her roughspun brassiere, she takes out her second key. Slowly turning the key to not make a single sound, the door opened with a faint click. She opened the door only a little crack no more than a few centimetres but she was able to easily slip through.
Who's laughing at not feeding me now...master?
The Nordic man could not help but let out a small chuckle as the cart closed in on its destination.
"What could possibly be funny at the dusk of our lives?" the soldier asked him. It was impossible to tell his tone. It was a mix of anger and distress.
"Is this how the nords greet their returns kinsman? I'm returning home to my roots, and I'm being killed for no reason at all by the roots I hoped to return to."
"These men aren't true nords."
The carts ran over a bump as it came to a stop. A Nordic man with a paper and quill in his hands stood before the prisoners.
"Come as I call your name," he said calmly. "Ralof of riverwood." He did not look up from his parchment as Ralof joined the stormcloaks surrounding the chopping block.
"Lokir of Rorikstead."
"Wait!" Lokir shouted. "I'm not a rebel! You can't do this!" His pleas fell on deaf ears. Nothing could change an imperial soldier's mind, not even reason. But Lokir's will to survive was too strong. And it motivated him to run in a desperate attempt to escape even though he knew he would not be successful. He was shot down by archers almost immediately. A coward dies a coward's death.
"You there!" the legionnaire called out to the nord, breaking his train of thought. "Step forward. Who are you?"
The nord stepped forward, almost close enough for them to touch.
"Why does it matter?" he whispered.
"I asked you why it matters. Why would you want to know who I am?"
"When an imperial asks you a question, you will answer." The soldier stated.
"No… I'm not going to do that," The nord responded. "Knowing my name would just make your conscience heavier." Before a reply could be made, he went to join the rebels. The soldier decided it was not worth it to pursue the matter further.
"What was that about," Ralof muttered without turning his direction.
"Didn't feel like telling him my name, that's all."
The young girl stayed away from the street lights. Carefully hiding in the bushes and moving from one to the other only when she was absolutely sure no one was looking. This was not the time to be risking failure. The outcome was going to be either success or failure. If she is caught, even if the master doesn't kill her, she will. Sneaking through the bushes was the easy part. The hard part would be getting through the gate. She belonged to an influential clan. The commonfolk didn't know about her but the guards and nobles did. If the guards saw her, they would surely take her back.
Two guards stood watch beside the gate. Their minds clear, their eyes open on the lookout for any and all disturbances that could happen in the darkness of the night. So, the girl did what anyone would do to attract a guard's attention. Explode the town square. The town square was almost set up for an explosion. Torches decorating the pillars, bowls of fat aligned on the shelf of the market stall. Everything was perfect. The light show was more than enough to get all the guards of the city running towards the centre. Yet, it did not make enough sound to awaken any citizens, or at least ones willing to investigate the disturbance.
While the guards were concluding the fire was an accident, the girl was opening the gates. She opened them slightly and sidestepped out, but it was then when a voice from behind made her face go pale and heart go quiet.
"Hey! Where are you going?" She turned around slowly to face the guards. How could she have been so stupid? There are also city guards on the outside of the gates.
"Wait," the second guard's face began to twist from one of disgust to one of recognition, "I recognise you." That was the cue for her to run as fast as she could, she wasn't well built or a runner but running quickly wasn't a choice. She made it too far to give up now. The guards chased after her. But their heavy armour quickly did its toll on their stamina.
After almost one hour of sprinting, the girl collapsed beside a tree.
Finally, she thought. Now, I just need to go back home. Then she froze, and realised that trying to go back to her family would just undo what she just accomplished. As much as she wanted to see her mother again, nothing was more valuable than her freedom. No, no I can't go back. I need to leave this place, I need to leave Cyrodiil.
And so she made her choice, Cyrodiil wasn't safe for her. She had to go somewhere else, where she can start again. Skyrim, yes that was a good idea, she was a nord despite not having a lot of experience with the Nordic culture it was her best bet. She stood up again and looked to the sky. If you can't find your way home, just follow the brightest star. It was an old nord saying, but what it really meant was that the brightest star is always to the North.
Narrator (it will stop being narrator soon, promise)
A roar from the distance caught the attention of many. Most were just curious or frightened. But the eyes of one man in ragged clothing widened. The roar affected him somehow, he could not describe it but he recognised it.
"Problem?" Ralof asked, raising an eyebrow.
"No. Just wondering what made that sound." He lied.
"Yeah. Me, too. Not like it matters anymore."
The next few minutes were quick. General Tullius gave a short speech directed at Ulfric. He mentioned that Ulfric used the power of the voice to murder the high king. The prisoner perked up at the mention of the voice, but he had never heard of such a power before.
The mention of the voice seemed to cause another roar in the distance. The roar was significantly closer this time meaning whatever that may be causing it was traveling at a speed men and mer will never achieve.
"What was that?" asked one of the legionnaires.
"Probably nothing. Carry on," Tullius quickly replied as he left the spotlight.
"Give them their last rights," ordered an imperial captain. Her facial features were mostly covered by the legion helmet. The rest of her body was clad in steel exposing no skin, exposing no weakness. In response to her orders, an older woman dressed in humble monk robes began her speech. The speech was like any generic speech heard at an execution but something about the speech was off. When she mentioned the divines she said eight divines instead of nine. What happened to the last one.
"Shut up and let's get this over with," a stormcloak said marching up to the headsman's block. "What are you waiting for? I haven't got all morning!"
The general walked up behind him and pushed him onto the block.
"My ancestors are smiling at me, imperials," he stated with hatred in his last sentence. "Can you say the same?"
That was all that escaped his lips as the axe sliced through the fragile material known as flesh. Some people forget how easy it is to die.
His last words showed his patriotism and his hatred for his enemies, the ragged prisoner thought. I might have respected that a few years back.
"As fearless in death, as he was in life." Ralof said those words with no emotion.
The prisoner was about to respond, but he was cut off by a strange voice in his head. The voice was deep and crackling with a strange accent. He was able to make out what it said but no idea what it meant. Zu lost siiv hin, dovahkiin.
"Next. The nord in rags," the captain announced. The man she called was silent unlike the previous victim. Swiftly, he kneeled and placed his head on the iron block, staining his face with the blood of his kinsman. The headsman readied his axe, the stranger suddenly jumped back up and in a swift swing, cut off his own binds with the headsman's axe. Seeing the act of hostility the imperials began drawing their own weapons and preparing to attack before their attention was called for elsewhere.
"What in oblivion is that!?"
Something landed on the watchtower. It was dark as the night and bigger than the houses. It… shouted… at least it seems like it did. As the voice escaped the dragon's jaws, a cyclone appeared in the middle of the sky. The second shout knocked most people off their feet.
"Stand up, kinsman!" Ralof shouted at the prisoner. "The gods won't give us another chance!"
After standing up to follow Ralof, together they ran into another watchtower and closed the door.
"What was that? Could the legends be true?" Ralof panicked at Ulfric.
"Legends don't burn down villages," Ulfric replied keeping his calm posture.
The Nordic prisoner saw no time for chatting and sprinted up the stairs. Part of the roof had collapsed and another stormcloak was making an effort to move the debris. He was almost successful, but the walls broke and crushed the stormcloak underneath the stone.
"VOL TOOR SHUL!" Came a voice from the dragon forcing endless flames into the building. The prisoner nearly fell down backwards from the raw force despite the flames never touching him. He leaned against the wall until the dragon left. Then, he quickly jumped from the tower into the ruins of a house below. Jumping down five metres is never easy, but this was not his first time taking a leap of faith. He tumbled forward softening his fall and vaulted over the handrail to the ground floor. Upon running out the door, he was greeted by the same man who had sent him to the block only a few minutes ago. Except now, he was trying to save instead of to kill.
"Come here boy," he encouraged the young child to go into cover. The ex-prisoner sighed and grabbed the boy to drag him back.
"Still alive, prisoner? Stay close to me if you want to stay that way!" The soldier shouted as he ran. Seeing no other choice, the foreigner followed. They reached the door to Helgen Keep unfortunately crossing paths with the stormcloak from earlier.
"Ralof, you damned traitor! Out of my way."
"We're escaping. You're not stopping us this time, Hadvar."
Strange. They refer to each other by name. Perhaps they have known each other before the petty civil war started. Both men urged the prisoner into their companionship. But he knew better than to team up with an imperial, his name shouldn't be given out to these people. Like Ralof said, the imperials love their damn lists.
What a day. First day in skyrim, and I'm sentenced to execution for no damn reason. Perhaps the gods need my soul for some reason and this is their way of getting it. Or maybe I just have even worse luck than I knew. Either way, I don't plan on dying on a block by people I've never seen, not now at least, there's still a lot left I need to do.
I laid down my head on the headsman's block, not to die but to prepare to fight. Yet, before my fate was decided, something showed up. I have no description for what I saw. In the chaos it caused, I managed to escape into Helgen Keep with Ralof, a brother in binds.
We ran into the keep to see another stormcloak lying beside a table. Ralof swiftly dashed towards him to check for a pulse. There was none. Ralof offered for me to take his armour and weapon. The armour would be useful for defending myself against attacks, but I hardly have any experience with a war axe. In fact, I could probably do better with my hands.
"Don't want the axe?" Ralof asked me
"Not Nord enough I guess,"
I pulled on the vest and pants, but instead of wrapping the scarf around my torso, I wrapped it around my head hiding everything other than my eyes. I wouldn't want anyone to remember me. I heard the clicking sounds of metallic gear hitting the floor. Imperials no doubt. Ralof and I took respective positions on each side of the gate. I held my breath as the footsteps closed in on our location. Any sound I made at this point could give away my position.
The two rushed in, and the imperial captain almost immediately spotted Ralof. That was good for both of us as the small distraction was enough time for me to take an initiative. I kicked the lightly armoured soldier's ankle, sending him falling towards the floor. The captain drew her sword and swung it in my direction. I ducked under the sword and, before she could swing again, grabbed her wrist. I rammed my head into hers with enough force to make her drop the weapon.
God damn helmets, I thought as I held my forehead. From the corner of my eye, I saw the soldier getting up. So, to prevent him from causing an inconvenience, I stepped on his face multiple times until I could feel his brains under my boot. The captain ran towards me with her fists in the air and at the ready. I didn't move though, there were two of us after all. She swung her fist in my direction, but it was cut off by Ralof's axe with the swing's intended direction lodging the weapon into the back of her neck. I pushed away her body as she fell so it wouldn't land on me.
"Well, that was easy," I told Ralof as we descended further into the reach.
"You're not bad for someone who lived with kitty cats." he smirked a little
"Ever met a khajiit girl on her period?" Ralof made a face asking why I would ask
"No?" he replied, it sounded more a question than an answer however
"Than you don't know what you're talking about,"
"Hey," Ralof said as we reached the bottom
"Yes?" I looked up
"I knew you weren't going to die just like that," I briefly recalled the moment I prepared to take on the entire imperial garrison.
"Had to try."