A/N: This was a little something that I wrote for a contest over at the Skyrim blog, which I also decided I would upload here as well. I hope you'll enjoy it!
Disclaimer: I don't own anyhting that's trademark related to The Elder Scrolls series, but I own all characters that appear in this story.
It was a relatively warm day in the forests of Falkreath Hold. Skyrim was mostly known for its cold climate, but during the summers it could still reach somewhat warm temperatures. The weather could also be very pleasant when the sun was at the top of the sky and with no clouds covering it. The large pine forest that covered this part of the province was home to many beasts that roamed the lands, including this deer. It was a large stag that were on its own, searching for food. As it looked for food, the stag was cautiously looking around the area while also smelling for any unusual smells. In the nature, the rules were simple. You either lived, or you became someone else's food. That was the very basic and ancient rule that all sorts of animals and creatures lived by.
As the wind blew for just a few seconds, the stag suddenly turned its head towards the point of the compass where the wind had blown from. The stag had picked up a smell it did not recognize at all. Given the rule of the nature and its inhabitants, whenever an animal noticed something unfamiliar it would either investigate further or flee from the area. Since the stag was an herbivory creature, it always was in danger of predatory animals and therefore the stag's natural instinct was to run away immediately.
But unfortunately for the stag, before it could run away it was hit by an arrow that penetrated its ribcage just below its shoulder. As the stag fell to the ground, a man shaped figure emerged from the shadows of a tree. It was a hunter that had tracked the stag, waiting for the right opportunity to release the arrow from its resting place on his bow. An opportunity that almost slipped out of his hands, when the wind had unexpectedly blew and sent his scent directly towards the unsuspecting stag. Luckily, he had been able to aim for a good shot with his bow, and it had ended up being a good shot after all.
The hunter walked slowly towards the stag on the ground. He had already fastened another arrow on the bows nocking point, ready to draw the string and fire another shot in case the stag would rise up and try to get away. While it didn't try to escape, he saw it was still breathing when he stood next to it. He kneeled down and dropped the bow, and proceeded to draw a dagger from his belt. He looked at the stag, and he saw it was looking right at him. As he looked right back away at the stag's eyes, he could slowly see how its life departed from this world. Its eyes finally stiffened. Another prey had feel by this hunter's bow.
He stopped right at his track. He had finally spotted the antelope amongst the trees. It was on the lookout for any dangers, like the aspiring hunter sneaking upon it. The hunter looked at another hunter standing close by him, who happened to be his father. His father looked back at him with cold eyes, when he hunted he truly became a predator that only had his eyes focused on his prey, and slowly nodded. It was finally time to prove to the whole village that the legendary hunter's son would also live to become a great hunter. The young hunter looked back at the antelope, and raised his bow slightly in order to draw the string. He inhaled, making him still for the few seconds his lungs allowed, and aimed slightly above where he wanted to hit. He let go of the string, making the arrow fly towards its target.
Before the antelope could react, the arrow had pierced through where its heart was. The creature fell dead on the ground, and the young hunter felt both proud and relieved. While this wasn't the first beast that had fallen to his bow, it was the first one that he had felled completely on his own. He looked back at his father, and while he never showed any emotions on his old and stern face, there was still some pride that could be seen in his eyes. The young hunter's chest filled with even more pride by this sight, for it was not easy to impress his father. But he had, and he would live to become a great hunter.
The hunter had finished taking all the meat from within the deer, as well as having skinned its pelt off its body and scavenged for any other things that could be useful. It had taken a few hours, and sun had started moving west, but it was still far from being sunset. With everything he had scavenged from the deer packed down, the hunter proceeded to walk northwest. He wasn't going anywhere in particular, but he just had to keep moving. He didn't really have any reason to keep moving, but it was something he always told himself to do. It was one of the things that kept him from breaking apart.
Since he just had felled a deer, there was no need to hunt at the moment, so the hunter could take in the scenery and atmosphere around him without worrying about scaring off some potential prey. He still was on the lookout for potential threats though, since you never could be too sure. From having been in the role of a predator, he now in a sense was in the role of the prey. While it sure was a bit colder than back home in Valenwood, he had to admit that he almost felt home within the pine wood in this part of the province. Before coming to Skyrim, he didn't really have any idea of how it actually looked like. Like most outsiders, he had perceived this province as an extremely cold and rugged place to live in, where the natives grew long beards, argued with axes instead of words and indulged large amounts of alcoholic beverages. While these perceptions were true to a certain extent, it still wasn't really as he originally had imagined.
Upon arriving in Skyrim, he had found out rather quickly that many Nords didn't regard elves very high. Not all of them, but enough of them to make the hunter realize he wasn't really welcome in their villages and cities. This was fine by him, since he had lived all his life previously in a relatively small and remote village, almost completely disconnected from the rest of the world. But not completely, since he had heard about the Great War between the Aldmeri Dominion and the Empire, and since Skyrim was part of the Empire, it only seemed natural that the Nords wouldn't be rather fond of elves.
So instead of trying to deal with the provinces inhabitants, he decided to seek refuge in the wilderness instead. He had after all lived mostly in the wilderness before he left his village. He had heard of great beasts that roamed the lands in Skyrim, which were supposedly herded by giants. These beasts were said to be carrying valuable tusks, and if nothing else proved of a successful hunt of a mighty beast. It was the sole reason he had chosen Skyrim as his hunting grounds, despite of its coldness (both literally and figuratively).
After an hour or two of walking, the hunter found a stream of water that flowed calmly towards whatever lake it was part of. He decided that it was a good idea to rest for a while here, since he found himself thirsty, and also since the sun was almost moving into sunset. He sat down close to the water and drank from it. His eyes then stuck at his reflection on the water. He could see his black eyes and long ears on his young elven face. Unlike his father, he wasn't carrying any scars on his face that were proof of tough hunts. His rough hair had gotten quite long, and the small beard that had started growing almost made him look like one of those Nords. Well, except for his eyes and ears, given his Bosmeric heritage. He then began to think of his village, his family, his father… and what he did to get exiled from his home.
While he had heard of bandits before, for they seemed to exist in greater numbers than one would think, he had never encountered any of them before. It had happened without warning, two muscular looking humans that appeared out of nowhere trying to pick a fight. They didn't care that he told them he didn't have anything on value, perhaps they used to be veterans of the Great War and held a disdain for his kin. He hadn't known, but what he did know was that they wanted to get him. So he had run into the woods, knowing perfectly that his skill with his axe and dagger was not on par with his archery skills and the bandits also had the advantage of being two against one. So he had had to turn the tables somehow, using his knowledge of the woods to disappear from the bandits, and then killing them with his bow when they least expected it. It hadn't been too hard, the two bandits didn't know these woods as well as he had, and his skill in hunting proved very useful in taking them out. In a way, it had actually been like a hunt.
While he felt a little bit dizzy for having killed these men, he felt no greater remorse at all at having killed these bandits, for they had wanted to kill him. In nature, you either lived or you were someone else's food, it was as simple as that. Although the chase and the hunt had been relatively easy, now came something a lot harder. The Green Pact consisted of several codes that the Bosmer followed, and one of those involved the practice of eating their fallen enemies. It was forbidden to kill wastefully, so anything he killed he would have to eat, including enemies of his. But he wasn't sure if he could do that. Killing them hadn't been a problem, since they had wanted to kill him, but feasting on their corpses didn't sit right with him. He had never done so before, and he had actually hoped he never would have, given the village was so remote. But he was alone, he could just hide the bodies and it wasn't like he had to tell anyone of his encounter. No one would find out…
But suddenly, he heard the sounds of bushes moving, and before he could react someone had entered the area. It was his father. The old hunter just looked at his son, and then at the two bodies on the ground. If there were any thoughts in his head, his facial expression didn't reveal it. There wasn't really anything he would think of either; the young hunter had killed these two humans because it was either them or him. That sort of thinking was what the younger hunter had learned from his father.
"You were gone long enough to worry your mother" his father said. When it came down to tracking and hunting, no one was better than the older hunter, so there were no wonder of how he had found him. He then nodded at the two bodies on the ground, which made the younger hunter froze still. His father knew he still hadn't eaten any fallen enemies, because there hadn't been any so far. But he was a devout follower of the Green Pact, and thus expected that his son would follow it to the letter as well. This is a test, the young hunter thought, as he looked at the bodies of the men he had killed.
He drew his dagger while walking closer to one of the bodies. He kneeled down at the closest body, and carved out a bit of its flesh with his dagger. He held the piece of human flesh in his hand, trying to make himself eat it. It wasn't like it was the flesh of one of his kin, so it wasn't cannibalistic. And after all, it was just a piece of flesh, which he ate exclusively because of the Green Pact. But he felt that animals were one thing, but humans, while not really related to his people, still felt a bit too close. He brought the piece of flesh closer to his mouth. He could do, he could do it…
He couldn't do it. He dropped the piece of flesh on the ground and threw up. When he was done, he looked up at his father with tears in his eyes and said "I can't do it". He expected his father to have an angry look on his face, but he didn't. Instead he just looked disappointed, which actually felt worse. They both knew what this meant though. In their village, the Green Pact was followed to the letter, not just by his father, but by everyone else as well. And he knew the consequences for breaking any part of the Green Pact, for this was breaking the laws of the Bosmer society as well.
But this was where his father surprised him. He thought that he was going to be brought back to the village, where he would face and be sentenced by their local treethane. But instead he said "Leave, and never come back". He looked up at his father, with uncertainty on his face. "Go" his father said, and without a word the young hunter ran away, and he neither looked nor came back.
While the sun was setting, the hunter had set up camp at the edge of a glade andlighted a fire that he used to roast the deer meat. It had been a delicious meal, and now he was sitting next to the fire as the sun was going down and the night was filling the sky. As time passed, he would himself gaze at the thousands of stars above. While it had been fairly warm during the day, the temperature had dropped a lot now that it was night, and if it weren't for the fire it would have been freezing cold. Eventually he started to feel tired, and it was time to crawl into his small tent and go to sleep. He couldn't say that this day was not a successful day, for he had hunted a stag, which's meat would last for at least another day. And another day had gone by that he had survived as well.
When he woke up, the sun was about to rise in east as another day began, shining light upon the pine forest. He got up, took down the tent and before he left his camping site he had some of the deer meat for breakfast. As with all previous days, he had not set goal to where he would end up when the day was over. The only thing that really mattered was to survive another day, although he still had thoughts about those great beasts with big tusks.
After a while, he started to feel that something was not right. He couldn't tell what it was though, but his instincts told him to run. Before he could react though, he heard a roar not far away. As he looked, he saw a big bear looking at him while standing on its hind legs and roaring at him. He didn't have much experience with bears, but he knew that these animals usually didn't attack at first sight, unless they were hunting. He slowly started to back off, but either he must have been to slow or the bear had realized it was hungry, for it got down on all four legs and walked closer to him. He drew his bow and put one arrow to its nocking point, knowing that there was no idea in running. He may be fast, but the bear was far more likely to be even faster, which left him with only one option.
He was either going to live to see the next day, or he would become the next meal for this bear. It was a simple as that.